Lone wolf of justice or tin can with an attitude problem?

In the tenth part of a regular series, Karen takes on Fantasy Life in a variety of 'lives' and documents her adventures.

Last week’s adventure in couch-building and furniture storage left me living large in my well-appointed new digs, the manor house in Castele’s market district. I recovered my cat Salt from her hiding place under what was left of my old bed after that log storage problem, and she’s let me know how she felt about the whole incident by shedding all over my fancy new couch. Contemplating my next move from my royal armchair I decided to try my hand at lifting comedically large swords as a mercenary, thinking that as a silent protagonist making my own way in the many lives Reveria has to offer I’d fit right in with the strong and silent lone wolf types.

The guild master sends me to Reveria’s local pub The Crown to meet Cervantes, the mercenary Life master. Unlike my recent experiences with the self-esteem issues of the woodworking set, Cervantes is brimming with confidence — well spoken, long-winded confidence. The mercenary life is tough, he says. We fight tooth and nail against fearsome beasts, relying on no-one but ourselves in battle. We depend on our blades and the strength of our arms to get the job done. When we accept requests we are honour bound see it through and face down danger, even the fire-breathing dragon sort, without the benefit of a shield. At this point Bard, the chap standing behind the bar, tells Cervantes to lay off the waxing poetic so as not to scare me off. Evidently taking the advice, Cervantes hands me a large yet flimsy trainee’s greatsword and refers me to Bard for some work in a mercenary style.

Eloquent but brief, Bard sends me to check out some trouble on Giles' farm in South Castele. Bard's son and novice mercenary Jude already went to investigate but hasn't been heard from since. Those who know Jude suspect he just got scared and ran off, so I’m asked to accompany Jude if I find him. Such a thing may violate mercenary lone wolf ethics, but I’ll casually look the other way in the interest of not angering those who handle my drinks. Luckily for me I run into Jude doubled over and hyperventilating in front of The Crown, and we have a remarkably one-sided conversation about how Jude can barely lift a greatsword. As I I was told to learn the art of swordplay from Jude, I am not reassured by this information. Regaining his balance, Jude takes me to the proving stone in West Castele and says there's a trick to breaking it to announce to the world that you're a real mercenary.

I just learned, thanks

About to hyperventilate again, Jude tells me he's never actually struck the stone and worries that he'll fail me as a teacher because he’s forgotten the trick. A plushling with a moustache and large sword runs over to us and gives us a few pointers in the hope that we’ll stop making such an awful racket. Newly confident now that someone has managed to teach me something about this sword that has been dragging me around, I break the stone on my first try. After congratulating me the plushling runs off to finish his nap. Now that one of us has been proven able to lift a greatsword and aim it at least somewhat accurately, Jude and I head to Giles' farm in South Castele and find a carroty, an animated rogue root vegetable and a scourge of Reverian farmers. Jude announces his intention to take on the carroty himself but reconsiders when two more jump out of the ground. Panicking, Jude tells me that I've offered to subdue the carrotys for him and steps aside. Although I’m not happy that Jude has so thoroughly figured out my one weakness I do the job as I've sent many a carroty to its final salad.

Giles is happy with his new carroty corpses so Jude and I go to report in at The Crown. Cervantes congratulates me on breaking the stone, Jude talks about the plushling that Cervantes seems to find familiar, and Giles bursts in to thanks us for our work and tell us that a razorbeak, an aggressive yet delicious rooster creature, is loose in the west Castele farm and pecking up the fields. Jude is certain I can't defeat the razorbeak alone but Cervantes decides to exploit my inability to speak by giving me a long-seeming pep talk given the urgency of the situation and then rushing me out the door. I’m touched by the senior mercenaries’ concern but I’m well-armoured, well-armed, and very knowledgeable about the pecking habits of the common razorbeak thanks to my other lives; yet I’m also incapable of bragging so I rest my greatsword over my shoulder, hope I don’t sneeze too violently, and head off to the farm.

West Castele’s premier farmer Reggie is pleading with the angry razorbeak as the plushling from before comes running up and makes noises about offering me help, but then decides against it. Jude appears and summons his courage, we draw our greatswords and considering all I’ve observed about how being a mercenary is more about hot air than follow-through, I step aside with ballerina-like grace as Jude slays the problematic razorbeak in one swing. I think I’m getting the hang of the mercenary Life, aside from the soliloquies. Miguel the plushling finally introduces himself, compliments us on our fine work, and says he’s departing for his home in Al Maajik.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet

Astonishingly, back at The Crown Bard and Cervantes also praise me and Jude without droning on, with Cervantes making me a full fledgling mercenary with a minimum of long-windedness. Free to do a mercenary’s work as the lone wolf of legend with a heretofore unseen degree of genuine wordless stoicism, I change into my holy armour and bronze sword, sallying forth to cleanse the East Grassy Plains of yet more carrotys. After the carrotys I lay in to the radishys of the West Grassy Plains and then the gingerys that can be found in the Elderwood, thereby setting myself up for weeks of homemade salad and stir-fry. From the Elderwood I move on to cracking open turtles and ducking crocodile creatures’ jaws in Port Puerto, and cutting open cactus-based life forms in Al Maajik. While in the kingdom of sand and purple lights I pay the senior mercenary Miguel a visit. He doesn’t offer me any stir-fry or salad but I have to expect that those days are long behind him.

Once I have solo combated my way to mastery I enjoy the shortest ever walk to the Crown for the usual celebration after Cervantes’ congratulatory speech that I have no choice but to look mildly interested in. According to my mercenary dance card, I have a lot of big game requests and decide to ditch my attachment to the ‘me against the world’ ethic for safety reasons. I pick up Miguel's mercenary protégé Melusine and Jude, who if nothing else can hide in the bushes and shout tactical advice. Unlike paladin big game hunts, which are far more glamorously dragon-oriented, as a mercenary I am tasked with wiping out the tyrannosaurus rex-like tyrants threatening Reveria’s various kingdoms. Despite being dedicated loners Jude, Melusine, and I work well together and Jude seems to be learning how to swing his greatsword at appropriate targets, so much so that with my new friends’ assistance I finish all of the tasks Cervantes has set for me.

As Cervantes is his usual eloquent self on congratulating me for becoming a mercenary legend, I think I see his eyes mist over but the face I chose at character creation will not allow me to show any concern or especial gratitude. Instead I bow, sling my greatsword onto my back, and head to my luxurious room knowing that I’ve done my best for the citizens of Reveria this day, and consider the far more quiet and meditative life of the angler as my next move.

Rank achieved: Legend
Useful for: Learning how to convince enemies to run into your sword, skewering oversized lizards
Quality of Life: Bold, confident, and verbose
Additional comments: No payment is necessary. Seriously, have you seen my house?