Those Were the Days

While going through some boxes that were in my closet, I came across an old binder with a folder and some papers in it. I opened it up to see what was inside. It was a bunch of old character sheets from D & D. Some of them were filled out. Some of them were blanks.

I took a few minutes to look at some of the characters I had created.

There was Shade Bladesinger, a Neutral Evil halfling Bard/Assassin. Another was Danalia, the chaotic good female half-elf who was part fighter, part cleric. Hell, there was one character that had 5 different classes. I don’t remember ever playing that one, but that sounds like it would suck to play. Even at high levels, it would be someone who could do a lot of little things, but nothing very powerful. “Look! A dragon! I’ll do one point of damage to it with my magic missile!”

I remember my D & D playing days fondly, for the most part. Yeah, there were some problems with other players on occasion, but overall they were fun times. It was freeing to let your imagination run wild while chance dictated your moves. Before my original gaming group went to shit, that was probably the most fun I’ve had playing any kind of game.

Then, life and time happened.

I would like to play a tabletop RPG again, whether it’s D & D or something else. The problem is finding the time and the right people to play the game with.

Unfortunately, I don’t see either of those things happening any time soon, so I’m stuck reminiscing about the good old days. On the bright side, walking down memory lane from time to time is fun too.

RPG Sequels 

I’m sure this has happened in many other games, but the one I’m focusing on right now is the Dragon Age series of games. And not just the games, but the books and the movie too. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the characters that inhabit these things. 

In the first game, everything is fine. There are no problems because it is what is starting the continuity. Then the second game came out. Sure, depending on what you did in the first game, there were some cameos from people in the first game, but none of them played a big role in the second game…. except for Isabella. 

It’s easy to forget that Isabella was even in the first game. Hell, I forgot it until she interacted with another character from the first game who was making a cameo. In the first game, you could play some type of card game with her, but I think she always won because she cheated. The other thing she did in the first game was teach your character a class specialization. Now, I don’t remember what level you needed to be on in Origins to gain a class specialization point, but I do know that in the second game you got them at levels 7 and 14. Which means at the time of Origins (according to the game mechanics), she had to be at least at level 7. Although, if you look at it logically, someone proficient enough to teach others a skill would be of a higher level. So, I would venture that she had to be closer to level 14 than 7, during the time of Origins. 

Yet, when you first get to play her in 2, she starts off at your level. I’m pretty sure I was at level 5 when she first joined up with me. That means that sometime during the 2 years, or so, of the time between the end of Origins and that part in 2, Isabella managed to lose at least 2 levels of experience. As I said, though, it would probably be closer to 9.

How does that happen?

And that one isn’t the one that’s bothering me the most. It’s two characters from Inquisition: Cassandra and Varric.

Out of the two, Cassandra is the more forgivable one. After all, her skills aren’t shown in Dragon Age 2. They are, however, shown off in the CGI movie Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker. Within the first five minutes of the movie, she kills a dragon pretty much singlehandedly. I don’t know if you’ve ever played any of the Dragon Age games, but, like in most mythos, they’re hard to kill. Not counting the Archdemon at the end of Origins, there is only one dragon a piece in each of the first two games. The dragon in the first game is a giant pain in the ass. I hated fighting that thing. In the second game, the dragon was easier to beat, but it was still tough.

In Dawn of the Seeker, they explain that she’s good at fighting dragons because she studied under a group that specializes in killing them. Ok fine. If you take the time to talk to her in Inquisition, Cassandra tells you that she was a teenager when Dawn of the Seeker happened and that it was 18-20 years ago. That would put her somewhere between 36-39 years old. She’s still in the years to be in prime physical form. Yet, when you fight dragons, she does just as much damage to them as she does to everything else. Shouldn’t she do more damage to them since she’s a trained dragon slayer? Maybe double or triple as much? Shouldn’t I do more damage to them if she’s in my party? It would be very easy for her to point out its vulnerable spots are.

The worst offender of the bunch, though is Varric. He is a member of your party almost the entire game in 2. I beat the game, while doing most of the side quests plus the two DLC missions, and I was level 25. At most, he was one level lower than me. So, according to the game, in between 2 and Inquisition, Varric managed to retain the memory of all the events that took place, yet somehow forgot how to fight.

Once again, how does that happen? 

At least in the KOTOR games, there’s an explanation for why the two main characters, who were badass Jedis before the games started, found themselves learning how to fight and/or use the Force again. Here, there is nothing but questions.

WTF Bioware?

Revis and Matticus Save The Kingdom Chapter 32

While Matticus had Goldfish distracted with his attack, Revis ran to retrieve his thrown daggers. Just as he closed his hand around the hilt of his second one, he heard Matticus cry out. He looked over in time to see the Jester slump to the ground. Whatever had happened between the two also threw Goldfish backwards.

She landed hard on her back, the air blasted from her lungs. Revis rushed towards her. He knew he had to get to her before she recovered and put her defenses back up. The Knight swung both daggers at her head, hilt first, hoping to knock the sorceress out.

By this time, Goldfish had regained enough of her wits to see the attacks coming and tried to block it. One dagger was deflected enough that it missed her head, although the blade did cut her arm. The other dagger’s hilt struck her just above the temple, but her blocking attempt had slowed the strike down enough that it didn’t render her unconscious.

Just as Revis had started swinging his daggers a second time, the sorceress spoke a word that sounded like gibberish to the Knight. Suddenly, he was flung away from her by some unseen force. He hit the floor just before he hit the wall and managed to roll enough to avoid some of the damage.

The two combatants rose from the ground at the same time, eyeing each other all the way.

“You are no match for me, Knight,” Goldfish spat.  The pain in her head quickly faded away and the wound on her arm closed as her magic returned her to full health, and speaking the necessary words, she rose from the ground to hover menacingly over the Jester.  “Together, you might have managed to get the better of me.  Alone you have no chance.  Give up now and I’ll let your family live.”

Revis seethed, but said nothing.  His eyes darted around the room looking for something, anything, he could use to his advantage.  He needed to find a weakness in her defenses.  He needed another distraction to catch her off guard so he could strike again.  But, his rational thoughts were fading as anger at the threat to his family slowly consumed him.

Time was running short.  He knew that Goldfish was probably already working on casting the spell that would either take his or Matticus’ life.  Thinking of the Jester he let his eyes fall to where Matticus lay on the ground, where he was surprised to see the Jester’s eyes open.  When their gazes met, Matticus winked at him, and Revis found his smile.  His anger cooled and his mind cleared.

“I think I’m more than capable of defeating you, merwitch.”

“Let’s put that claim to the test,” she laughed. Without taking her eyes off of Revis, she waved her hand in the Jester’s direction. Matticus slowly began to rise off the ground. After he was levitating a couple of feet in the air, Goldfish snapped her hand towards the doorway. The Jester flew out into the hall, the doors closing behind him.

Once his feet were on solid ground again, Matticus ran to the door. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the doors to budge. Cursing, he turned around, trying to figure out a way to get back into the room.

As he did, the Jester saw that he was not the only one that the sorceress threw out into the hall. Jaded was right in front of him. She was awake now, and, from the look on her face, she was very angry.

“When I first started helping Goldfish,” Jaded began, “I was only doing it because she told me to. Now that I’ve tasted some of the power she wields, I refuse to go back to the way it was. If you want your Kingdom back, you’ll have to take it from me. And, this time, you don’t have your Knight to save you.”

Matticus drew his sword, spoke the words to spark its flame to life, and replied coolly, “And you don’t have the sorceress protecting you this time either.  You are no longer a vampire.  You are mortal.  I am not as clueless as I usually appear.  Do you think the Queen would have married me otherwise?  Do you think the people of the Kingdom would have put up with me if I was nothing but silliness all the time?  Think on that very carefully, Jaded.”

In response she snarled and glared, but she knew that the menace behind those actions was gone.  She lacked the strength of her prior vampire self.  Her fangs no longer held any threat or power.  The realization that she probably she turn and walk away incensed her into action.  In blind fury she rushed the Jester, her hands reaching for his neck, wanting to tear him limb from limb like she could have done easily before the Knight’s potion “cured” her.

The Jester saw her coming and had plenty of time to end her, but he took pity on her instead.  He knew that they had changed her life irrevocably.  They hadn’t meant to, and she might have deserved some sort of punishment for her role in the plot to overthrow the kingdom, but he wasn’t sure taking her life was the right thing to do.  As she reached him, Matticus sidestepped and used his right boot to trip Jaded.  Her momentum sent her sprawling head first into the magically locked door, once again, knocking her unconscious.

Time was not on his side. He knew he needed to act quickly. Looking around, he tried to find something to tie Jaded up with. They couldn’t afford for her to keep causing them problems. After extinguishing the blade, he used his sword to cut strips out of a nearby rug. It was one he had never liked anyways, so he didn’t feel too bad about it when he used the strips to bind Jaded’s hands and feet together. Then, remembering that Goldfish had said that Jaded possessed magic items, he took all of the jewelry off her and stuffed it into one of his pouches.

Now, all he had to do was find a way back into the throne room. All of the doors were magically locked, but there was still one hope. Right after his wedding to the Queen, she had shown him a secret passageway that connected to it. She had shown it to him in case they were ever attacked there. It was meant to be used as an escape tunnel. He was using it invade the room.

Matticus ran down the hallway that would take him to the secret passage. Because he was rushing, he neglected to keep his noise to a minimum. It ended up almost costing him when two sparkly vampire guards came around a corner in front of him.  They were poorly trained as swordsmen, however, and the Jester cut them down so quickly that he barely had to break stride. Making his way through corridors that only he and his wife knew, he quickly came to the doorway that led to his destination. First, he uncovered an eyehole and looked to see what was happening in the room.

From what he could see, it appeared that Goldfish and Revis had yet to start fighting.  She remained hovering by the throne and the knight hadn’t moved either.  They seemed to be waiting for the other to make the first move and perhaps be open for a counter-attack.  Beads of sweat appeared on both their brows as the seconds passed.  It was look on his Knight’s face that finally clued Matticus in to the reality that the fighting had already begun.  Goldfish must have engaged Revis in some sort of mental battle and the Knight was slowly losing.  His features were growing pained.  His face had drained of color.

As quietly, and as quickly as he could, the Jester eased open the hidden doorway and slipped into the throne room.  He needed to sneak up behind Goldfish and knock her unconscious before she noticed him.  He hoped that Revis could hold out long enough for him to cross the space.  He took his first step into the room, the sorceresses eyes snapped onto him with red rage, and Revis cried out in pain.

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom Chapter 28

After they had spent precious time with their families, Matticus and Revis got back to work. They went over everything they had learned about what had happened while they were gone. Then, they went over it again. What they had learned was not much.

Jaded, and her sorcerer, had led an army of sparkly vampires to the castle. Without the leadership of the First Knight, the rest of the Kingdom’s warriors weren’t prepared to deal with the invaders. They put up a valiant defense, but were overmatched in the end. The Queen and Prince were flown out by Rara right before the castle fell.

Since then, the sparkly vampires had been slowly building up their numbers. Publically, the vampires had only replaced the army, and local law enforcement, with their own. Behind the scenes, however, they were moving their army around. When Grayson showed Revis a map showing where the vampires were repositioning their troops, he could only scratch his head. The movements made no sense at all.

“This is ridiculous,” Revis spat. “There is no reason at all to move soldiers to these locations.”

“What do we do,” Matticus asked.

Revis thought about it for a minute before answering. “The smart thing to do would be to figure out what she’s doing before we make any moves,” Revis began. “But, since this has taken way longer than it should, I say we just go confront Jaded and get this over with.”

“Direct assault?  Small chance of success?  Almost certain to mean our death?  What are we waiting for?” Matticus sarcastically rolled his eyes.

“That sounds familiar, did you steal that from a movie?”

“What’s a “movie?”

“Never mind, it doesn’t matter,” Revis sighed, exasperated, “Do you have any better ideas your Jesterness?”

Matticus slid his gaze over the map, studying the troop placements again, racking his brain to find some connection, some small clue, that made it all fit together into something that made sense.  But, in the end, he shook his head in defeat.  Either the vampires had no idea how to stratigcally place troops to run a kingdom or they were smarter than he cared to admit.

“Nope, you are right.  It’s time we finish this madness.  Let’s track down Jaded again, get her to divulge the whereabouts of the sorcerer and the details of their plan.  And then…”

Revis raised an eyebrow.

“Oh, sorry,” Matticus continued, “I should have finished that with a question mark.  And then…?  What are we going to do once we have all the information?  Neither of us can fight a sorcerer on our own.  We are going to need some help, right?”

“We already have your two friends and two dragons. How much more help do you think we’re going to need?”

“But….”

“Nonsense, Jester. We’ve got this covered.”

Matticus wanted to protest further, but Revis began going over the details of his plan. The more he listened to his Knight, the less he worried. Although, he still thought that they needed more people than they had. An army to help them defeat the vampires wasn’t going to appear out of nowhere, however.

Once he was finished going over his plan, Revis looked at each person, in turn, to make sure they understood their part in the upcoming attack. Deb, Dani, Grayson, and Rara all nodded their heads when it got to be their turn. Finally, it got to Matticus. He still wasn’t completely convinced that this was going to work, but they really didn’t have much of a choice at this point. His head nodded, as well.

With a nod of his own, Revis produced the ink bottle that made portals. He used the brush to cover the entire wall in front of them. Matticus was going to ask why he used so much of the ink, but then he realized that the dragons wouldn’t fit through the portal if Revis made the portal smaller. As soon as his Knight was finished, Matticus jumped through the portal, if only so Revis wouldn’t push him through again.

The laughter at his own cleverness died on his lips, though, as the Jester felt himself come through the other side but was immediately blinded by the thickest darkness he had ever encountered.  He waved his hand in front of his face, but couldn’t see it.  He rubbed his eyes and blinked to see if there was something covering his face, but there wasn’t.  He knew he should move to keep from getting knocked over by the rest of the group when they came through, but without knowing what was in front of him, he wasn’t sure if he should risk it.

The thought of having traveled so far just to be trampled by either Rara or Grayson got his feet moving and he shuffled forward until his right boot caught on something and he fell forward with a grunt and a groan.  On his hands and knees, with what felt and tasted like dust swirling around his head, he yelled a warning over his shoulder, “Careful, something isn’t right here!”

A moment later he heard one of his companions come through the portal behind him and also call out in surprise and alarm.  Matticus shuffled forward in the dirt to make as much room as he could.

Revis was the last one through. He knew that the ink worked by transporting whoever walked through the portal to wherever they wanted to go. That meant that the dragons were going to be coming out somewhere else. The warning that Matticus had called out had come through the portal all garbled, so Revis didn’t know what he had said. It wasn’t until he felt the cold steel of a blade against his throat that he knew something besides the darkness was out of place.

“And who might you be,” the Knight asked his unseen assailant.

A voice from the darkness answered, “I am your worst nightmare.”

“No. Waking up without my penis is my worst nightmare.”

“OK, fine. Maybe I’m not your worst nightmare, but I am quite up there.”

While the assailant was talking, Revis was trying to think of a way out of his predicament. If there was light, he’d just turn himself invisible and use the confusion that created to get out. In the dark, however, that advantage was negated.  The Knight realized his best hope was to keep his would-be captor talking to give Matticus an opportunity to come to his rescue, so he quickly replied, “You aren’t my second worst nightmare either, that would be to lose my family.  And I’ve been living my third worst nightmare, spending weeks on end on the road with only the Jester for company.  So, really, where does that leave you?”

“Quit your yammering, Revis, or I’ll…”

Despite feeling the blade press more tightly against his throat, Revis cut off his attacker’s response, “Nowhere, if you think about it.  I mean, I’m already experienced my third worst nightmare, and you aren’t anywhere near that, so why don’t you ease up out of my face before something bad happens to you.”

“How dare you…  How can you possibly threaten me when I could kill you with a flick of my wrist?”

Despite the darkness, Revis shrugged, “If you were going to kill me, you would have already done it.”

The assailant began laughing, “Oh, no, poor misguided Knight, so confident in your abilities and your worth, all of this was just a distraction.  We are the bait to draw Matticus out, and once he is captured, I will kill you.”

 

Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom, Chapter 20

The portal shimmered, revealing a brilliant flow of colors. Those colors swirled until they turned into a blurry image of the dungeon cell where they had left Jaded.

Jaded slept in the corner. A loud sound echoed through the hallway, waking her up. She watched as a shadowy figure walked up to the bars. No, not walked. It glided up to the cell’s bars. There were no feet or legs coming out of the shadows to touch the floor.

At first, Jaded smiled as the figure came closer. Then, when the shadow got next to her, Jaded lunged, trying to grab the figure through the bars. “You never told me that they’d turn me human,” she spat venomously, her voice sounding strange coming from the portal.

The shadow laughed. “I told you they were more formidable than you’d give them credit for. You still did good to get them to go through the portal. How long have they been gone?”

“How the hell should I know? I’ve been locked in here since they left, and there are no watches in this universe.”

“There’s no time to lose. Take this,” the shadow ordered, holding out a vial of red liquid. “Throw the liquid on the portal and it will keep them from being able to come back through.”

Jaded scoffed. “The last time I did as you ordered, I got turned into a human.”

“I can change you back…”

“Don’t lie to me.”

The dark figure did not respond beyond a further offering gesture with the vial.  Jaded took a step back, her eyes flicking between the vial, the cell bars, and the face lost within the shadows.  It was obvious from her body language that she was tempted by the offer.  Even if she no longer trusted her cohort, the prospect of no longer being human appealed to her.

Revis and Matticus exchanged a nervous glance.

“Should we jump through before she makes up her mind?”  Matticus whispered, unsure if his voice would carry through the open portal.

Revis didn’t answer right away.  His gaze was fixed on the unfolding scene, waiting, watching, trying to decipher what the right move was.  He certainly didn’t want to get trapped forever in Twindaddy’s world.  The thought terrified him so greatly he almost lunged through instinctively.  But, his training kept him from following through on the impulse.  He needed a plan.

The Knight sensed Matticus growing restless beside him.  If he didn’t think of something, or at least answer quickly, the Jester might do something stupid.  He shifted his gaze from the portal to see Matticus chewing on his lip.  A bad sign.  A very bad sign.

Jaded grabbed the vial out of the shadow’s hand and removed the lid. Revis immediately grabbed Matticus’ arm and dragged him towards the portal. The two men hit the portal just as the red liquid did. A powerful force hit them both head-on and they felt themselves being thrown backwards. Roughly, they hit the ground.

When they opened their eyes, they saw that they weren’t in Twindaddy’s closet anymore. They also weren’t back in the Kingdom, either. Looking around, they saw that they were in a forest at night. Although, there were some of the horseless carriages from Twindaddy’s world not far away. There was also an impossibly tall metal fence.

Suddenly, an ear-splitting roar filled the air. Revis grabbed Matticus’ arm and signaled him to remain still, and quiet. They watched as the metal fence came down. A strange looking dragon came crashing through, attacking the carriages.  It had no wings and short arms. The dragon attacked one of the carriages, pushed it over the side of the fence, and ran off.

“Wait a minute,” Matticus said once he was sure the dragon was out of earshot. “How is there a now huge drop off right where the dragon came running two minutes ago?”

“Stop pointing out plot holes in other stories,” Revis commanded. “If you do that, people may start finding them in ours.”

“Like what?”

“Like how we’ve been to a few universes different than ours and we all just happen to speak the same language. Seriously, how long are the odds that would actually happen?”

“I hadn’t thought about it like that.  Yeah, that is weird…  Also, I have no idea what you are talking about.  What stories?”

“Never mind.”

“Fine,” Matticus responded petulantly.  “So, now what?”

“Well, we should probably get out of this rain, and find some shelter before that dragon comes back, because it will be coming back.  And then we should figure out how to find another portal.”

Matticus furrowed his brow, and looked skyward, noticing the rain for the first time.  “I suppose you have some kind of plan for that?  Something from your magical bag of tricks?”

Before Revis could answer, the dragon let out a mighty roar that caused the hairs on their arms and the back of their necks to stand on end.  They couldn’t help but swivel their heads the direction of the sound.  It sounded close, and hungry.

A moment later there was a loud thumping noise, accompanied by a percussion impact in a nearby puddle.  Matticus looked at the tremors in the water quizzically, and then, as understanding settled in, his expression turned to one of terror.  He turned to Revis to ask the obvious question and his Knight was already on the move.

“Time to go.”

The Jester did not need to be told twice. As soon as he got up to full speed a bright light burst in front of him. Now that he had been blinded, he tried to stop. Instead, his foot found a small hole in the ground and he tumbled forward. When his vision returned, he expected to see the dragon standing over him, about to strike. Instead, he found that he was in a completely different forest.

It was now daytime. It was no longer raining. There were no horseless carriages.

Revis grabbed him from underneath his arms and began lifting Matticus to his feet. There was blood running down from the Knight’s forehead. “I found a tree after the light blinded me,” Revis explained before the Jester had a chance to ask. “I’ll be fine.”

A noise off to the side caused them to duck. They saw a man in armor, a man in priest robes, and a dwarf walking. The man in armor said something that they couldn’t hear. In apparent frustration, the dwarf grabbed the armored man and spun him so they were face-to-face. “If you don’t stop asking questions, I’ll cut your tongue out and shove it up your nose,” he threatened.

The light flashed again. Now, they were standing in a room with a bed. The only other thing in the room was a woman, who acted like she didn’t notice them.

“Isn’t that Drun’s stalker, Zoe,” Matticus asked.

Revis nodded his head. Zoe, still not noticing that two people had magically appeared in her room, went about her business. She reached into her pants and scratched her butt. Then, she pulled her hand out and sniffed it. Before the men could voice their disgust at her behavior, the light burst once more and they found themselves standing next to a pair of metallic looking rails laid over wooden slats that stretched towards the horizon in both directions.  A little ways away, there were two men talking to each other excitedly.  They couldn’t quite make out the conversation, but the younger one kept calling the older one, who had shock white hair, “Doc.”  There were two of the horseless carriages resting on the strange tracks.  The young man got in the smaller of the two, and the old man got in the larger, then smoke began to pour out of chimney looking thing and the two carriages started moving down the track.

Revis and Matticus turned to each other, eyebrows raised, and then the light flashed once more.  As their vision cleared they lost their balance and stumbled onto a bench of some sort.  A man there, dressed in all white, held out a box to them and asked, “Would you like a chocolate?”

That sounded pretty good to Matticus so he reached to grab a piece, but the light flashed again and his hand passed through nothingness.  His curses were lost in the transfer, hurtling forever in the unknown void between the infinite worlds.

Not Meant To Be

As I’ve previously said, I’ve been playing a lot of Final Fantasy VII lately. I originally played the game when it released on PlayStation One. Because of the memory restrictions that these discs had, it took 3 discs to hold the entire game. I was floored by how good the game looked. Although, if you look at it now, it is almost laughable that those were considered top-of-the-line graphics.

It took me a while, but I finally managed to get to Disc 2. After playing only a few hours on it, I saved and turned it off, having other things to do.  The next time I fired up the PlayStation, I saw that a tragedy had occurred. My game save was gone… Continue reading

revis and matticus save the kingdom chapter 4

It took them a couple of days, but Revis and Matticus finally had the city of Bruges in sight. Matticus resisted the urge to jump up and down. That would be undignified, after all. He looked over and saw that Revis was deep in thought. Well, either that, or he had gas. It was hard to tell sometimes.

“Something on your mind,” the Jester asked.

“I’m trying to decide whether or not we should go in through the city gate, or sneak our way into the city.”

“Why wouldn’t we go in through the city gate?”

“We’re well known throughout the kingdom. If something out of the ordinary is going on around here, they’ll stop once word of our arrival spreads.”

Matticus thought it over for a minute. “True,” he replied, “but if we show ourselves openly, the sparkly vampires might panic. That could lead to them making mistakes.”

With a shrug, Revis began leading the way to the front gate. When they arrived, they found that their way was blocked by a city guardsman. “I am the Gatekeeper. El Guapo is my name.”

Matticus was about to reply when Revis leaned in towards him. “Watch out,” his First Knight cautioned. “He’s a sparkly vampire.”

Surprised, Matticus took another look at the Gatekeeper, but still couldn’t see anything sparkly about him.  That could have been because El Guapo was covered from head to toe in armor, with a very thick plate around his neck, or that could have been because Matticus still wasn’t sure he knew what he was supposed to be looking for.  Unsure of how to proceed he looked back to his knight, giving him leeway to take charge of the situation.  That was, after all, the benefit of having a trusted knight.

It’s good to be the king, Jester or otherwise.

Revis stepped forward, his body twisted slightly to hide that his right hand was on the pommel of his sword, and addressed the Gatekeeper, “We are travel wary and in seek of an inn for the evening, can we seek shelter within your city?”

Emotionless, El Guapo replied, “Only the Keymaster can pass.”

“What?”

“We have no vacancies here.  Move along.”

“But there is nowhere else to go.  Surely there must be somewhere we can rest our heads?”

Engrossed in the conversation, and still trying to figure out what was sparkly about the Gatekeeper, Matticus nearly missed Revis begin to pull his sword from it’s sheath. “I said move along,” El Guapo raised his voice. “We do not tolerate foolishness around here.”

“Not even on Friday?”

El Guapo pulled out his sword, turning towards Matticus. The Jester looked to Revis, but found that he had disappeared again. He knew that his knight was probably sneaking up behind the Gatekeeper. All he had to do was keep the vampire occupied until Revis got a chance to strike.

Yanking his sword out of his sheath, Matticus barely got it out in time to deflect the first blow. By the time El Guapo swung again, Matticus had his feet under him. He blocked it easily and fell into a defensive stance. Next, the vampire swung his sword in an overhand chop. It was a fairly simple attack, so Matticus set up the standard parry. Unfortunately for the Jester, the vampire, who has enhanced strength, was holding back on the first two strikes. Adding in additional power to this attack knocked the sword out of Matticus’ hand.

“Any time, now,” Matticus shouted as he backed away from El Guapo.

As the vampire raised his sword for a final swing at the Jester, his helmet went flying away. A look of horror crossed its features right before its head rolled off its shoulders, making a wet thud on the ground as it landed.

“What took you so long?” Matticus fumed, as Revis became visible again.  His knight grinned but made no reply.  The Jester shook his head and retrieved his sword.  “Serves me right, I guess, I still have a lot to learn about these annoying sparkly vampires.”

Revis’ grin turned into a genuine smile, “It’s better to have learned that particular lesson, they are crafty and they are strong, when I was here to support you, was it not?”

Matticus nodded in agreement and then turned his gaze back to Bruges.  “The way is no longer blocked, should we proceed?”

Revis joined his companion in looking beyond the city gate to the shadows of the dark corridors and canals that dominated Bruges.  There would be many secret place hidden within the nooks and crannies of the city, many places for dark deeds to be carried out without worries of the screams being heard.  The Knight frowned.

“Let’s get rid of El Guapo’s body first, and then we will head in and see what we can find.  Be on your guard, though, this city is an evil place.”

After depositing the body, and head, into the nearest alley, the duo made their way through the streets of Bruges. As they walked, Matticus remembered why they didn’t want to come here in the first place. The city was full of nothing except really old buildings. None of them were in bad condition, but with no modern buildings, it meant that there was nothing to do in Bruges. Since there was nothing to do in Bruges, they had no idea where to start their investigation. Figuring any place was as good as the next, they went into the first bar they came to.

Most bars are loud, with at least a couple of patrons that were boisterous. They were filled with people drinking, laughing, and having a good time. The bar they entered in Bruges was not like that. It was more like a library than a bar. People were drinking, but they were doing so in a calm, orderly fashion.

“I don’t like this place,” Matticus whispered. “It’s almost as if we stepped into a different dimension when we entered through the scary door.”

“Keep your guard up. I can see at least three sparkly vampires in this crowd.”

“What?  Really?  Okay, this is getting ridiculous.  I know I’m blind and all, but what am I not seeing?”

Revis chuckled under his breath, “You’re trying too hard perhaps.  You are looking for the obvious and missing the subtle clues.”

“Okay, give me an example.”

“Look down the length of the bar, don’t focus on the patrons, but look them over in a glance and tell what you see.”

Matticus turned his head and quickly took in the myriad of customers sitting at the bar and then returned to conversation with his companion.  “Six men, all armed, some well dressed, others barely out of rags, a good mix of height, weights and builds.”

“Good, now look again but tell me instead about the light around each of them.”

Scoffing, not really sure he understood the request, Matticus looked back and his eyes went wide when he saw a definite increase in the light around the third man down.  “The light around him is different?”

“His skin is glowing, sparkling.”

Matticus and Revis turned to look again and found the vampire looking directly back at them.  His mouth opened in a sneer, exposing two elongated fangs, and he stood and shoved his bar stool out of the way.  It went crashing into a nearby table, upsetting the quiet about the place.

“Well, at least it feels more like a bar now,” Matticus said as he stood and unsheathed his sword.

Revis joined the Jester, and only managed to utter, “Crap,” before they were met in battle by the sparkly beast.