Happy Sif’s Day!
Lief Crispen leaned forward to study the map on the table. His mother hovered over his shoulder looking down at the parchment which showed a route from the city to a cave in the hills to the east.
“What do you think mother? Is it genuine?”. Lief’s strong voice came.
Anna Crispen frowned as she studied the details. The map was recent as the ink looked fresh and not faded. The landmarks were current as well. It was well done but not ornate. A practical map to mark a place of importance for later.
“I think so, son. But will it deliver on what it promises?”
Anna’s voice was sweet and melodic but quivered slightly because she knew what her son was planning.
Lief leaned back slightly and looked over his shoulder toward her.
“The merchant seemed to think so. He was most grateful for the work we did repairing the shoes of his caravan. This is the bonus, the trick is collecting.”
“Well son, we can’t afford to hire someone. We are cobblers, not rich merchants.”
Lief sighed, “You know what has to be done, and to be truthful, you know this is the break we have been looking for. It might give us the wealth we need to start buying favor and expanding the business.”
“We have a good life.”
“No doubt, but still water stagnates. The family name needs security and that means the need for wealth and title.”
This was an old conversation between the two of them. She was about to say ‘ and it needs heirs, but she knew what the counter would be. Lief would simply point out that there would be a greater motive for him to find a wife and produce children if there was something to inherit beyond what they have. She knew he was in part right that he needed to use the days of his youth to build something and then settle down. ‘Marriage is a young man’s burden and an old man’s comfort’ was the wisdom of the gods.
She looked at her son. He was so much like her dead husband now. Tall, strong, and athletic, but in many ways beyond him. But he had her wisdom just like he had her fair skin, green eyes, and long dark raven hair. Lief was truly the best of his parents. But he was also all she had anymore. Her only child. This was the real cause of her fear.
“Mother, I know you worry over me. I get your fears, but if the Crispen name is going to stand the test of time they need security and position. I think this treasure might be the key, or at least the start. I can’t do what we need to do by just fixing shoes. It’s noble and good hard work, but it’s not going to be enough.”
Anna nodded. Adventuring was not uncommon and the hills and forests around the City of Brightblade had their wild side to be sure. If this map marked a treasure it could tilt their fortunes for the better. It might attract good blood to the family.
“Mother. I will be careful. I have been training with the militia for the last four years and I am doing well enough to have been promoted to corporal. I have good equipment and what we think is a good map. If I am reading the map right, it’s about half a day’s walk from here.”
“Be careful son,” tears came to her eyes.
Lief stood and hugged his mother in his crushing grip.
“I will say a prayer to Sensua for you tomorrow.”
“Thank you, mother. And I will wear her amulet to remind me that you are praying for me. With any luck, I won’t be more than a few days.”
“Let’s pray not. I love you, son.”
“I love you too, mother.”
The next day Leif arose and got ready for his trip. He put on his militia armor consisting of his chainmail tunic, leather boots, and arm grieves over his under tunic. He then placed his traveling tunic over everything and tied it with his leather belt. He had a backpack with everything he needed from torches to rations. He tied his longsword to his belt and then picked up his spear and shield, a medium-sized round shield with a steel front and oak as its core. Pulling the traveling cloak’s hood over his head, he walked toward the door to leave the shop.
Anna stood by watching her son and made sure she didn’t cry until after he left. He did that with few words. He handed her his amulet of Sensua and she slipped it over his neck. She kissed him on the cheek and watched him step out into the quiet morning streets of their neighborhood. He disappeared around the corner looking back toward her one last time. Only then did the tears come, but she did not sob. A few minutes later, she had collected herself. Put the closed sign on the shop and headed to the Temple of Sensua.
The Temple was a few city blocks away and this early in the morning the traffic was light as was the line to see the priests and priestesses. The temple itself was probably 100 yards square. It consisted of the front altar reached by passing the entry arch, the two houses of love to the right and left and then the rest of the complex was behind all this where the priests, priestesses, paladins, and other members of the temple lived. Anna concerned herself only with the altar today and she felt a surge of hope as she crossed through the archway. The Motto: ‘Life, Love, and Fertility” she had seen a thousand times. Today they meant a little more as she thought of the life of her son, her love for him, and her hope of a continued family.
She approached the altar. Sensua’s statue standing over it. Sensua, the goddess of life, love, and fertility was always depicted as a pleasantly curvy woman with long hair. And always naked. In this case, she stood with her legs shoulder width apart facing the archway and her hands outstretched above her.
“Daughter Anna, you seem distressed.”
The priestess was one she had met before. A short but curvy woman with light brown hair. She was pleasant to look at even wearing her robes of white.
“I am. My son is doing something important for the family and it is potentially dangerous. I have come to seek the goddesses’ blessing for him.”
“Say no more.”
Anna handed the priestess some gold coins and knelt. The priestess’ prayer was simple and to the point but Anna felt its strength and smiled. The ritual continued with Anna offering a prayer for her son. At this point, she pledged herself again to the goddess. Once finished the priestess beckoned her to rise and then motioned toward the house of love on the right. Anna nodded and then walked with purpose toward the house of love and passed through its door.
In order for the ritual to be completed, the rights of love must be performed. In truth, this part had more than a single function for Anna. He husband had been dead for almost as long as Lief had been out of her womb. She had forgone remarriage to focus on raising her son. She still had needs as a young woman. It was no accident that her devotion to Sensua was regular and a few times a week. She was in her mid-thirties having had Leif when very young.
Each house of love was arranged pretty much the same. The lowest floor was a waiting area where the novices waited on those waiting to complete their ritual. It was white marble like most of the temple and the benches and a couple fountains were made of the same. The novices were all male. In the other house of love, they were female. Not that it was absolutely expected that women went to the house of men and vice versa. She had a girlfriend who went to the female house. Sensua was not about the judgment of one’s sexual tastes, but she is about the expression of passion leading to life.
One of the novices handed her a small cup of wine and she drank it while waiting. The two floors above her were where the bed chambers were. This early in the morning she would not have to wait long. She recalled how each house was organized. Novices trained here on the first floor. They made sure that the people waiting were comfortable. One had to be at least an acolyte or adept to actually provide the conclusion to the ritual of love. Acolytes did the most meeting with and concluding the ritual with each petitioner of the goddess. Adepts ran the place and kept things organized.
There was much training involved in this and one of the main things is that the clerics of Sensua were considered some of the best healers in the world. That healing power came in large part from their very hands-on understanding of the body, sexual energy, and touch magic. Nor were they limited to just humans although that was the majority in Brightblade. They also boosted elves, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes as clerics. She thought Lief had said a dwarf female was one of the adepts in the female house of love and she had seen an elf here a couple times who was an acolyte.
Anna smiled as she remembered when Lief had matured to the point she had brought him here. She had caught him pleasuring himself and she knew it was time for some proper education. The Acolytes and Adepts were all too happy to speak to him and she was so thankful for that with his father dead. When he turned fourteen, he came of age and she brought him here for the first time for him to do the ritual himself. A female acolyte (according to her son a pleasant human woman) took his virginity and he became a man. He joined the guild and the militia that same year. Since then she had known nothing but pride in her son. This adventure in truth made her even more proud. He was thinking of things larger than himself. He was thinking long-term for the future of the family.
Anna looked up to it was one of the Novices. A fine looking ebony-skinned young man.
Anna followed him up to the second floor. He directed her to wait in the first room on the right. The decor of all these rooms was simple but comfortable with dark wood furniture, red curtains, red bedding, silver chamberpots, washbasins, and pitchers. She walked in and stood.
“Someone will be with you shortly.”
A few moments later the door opened and an Adept walked in closing the door behind him. He was a medium-sized man with olive skin. Anna raised an eyebrow as she knew only one Adept was on duty in each house at any time. Mostly to coordinate the Acolytes to the right rooms. The fact that an Adept…
“I can see the questioning on your face. The priestess thinks very highly of you and could see your need. So I have been asked to complete the ritual with you in hopes of securing Sensua’s blessing for your son. It is hoped that the extra measures we provide will do so.”
Anna nodded and thanked him and the temple for their special consideration. He nodded in return and then pulled his red robes back from his shoulders and let them fall to the floor revealing his muscled naked form. Anna glanced down and smiled. He approached her and his fingers touched her cheek. Instantly she could feel the magic of the ritual as it melted her worry and tiredness. One by one her pieces of clothing became a pile on the floor.
Sometime later, Anna was laying on her back in the bed and the adept had gone. Her worry for her son had lifted and her naked athletic body quivered with divine magic. She always felt so alive at this moment and it is perhaps one of the reasons she visited the temple so often. The adept knew his business better than most. He had even offered to cuddle with her afterward if she so desired. She told him ‘thank you’, but she needed solace with the goddess. The adept had nodded, put his robe back on, and left. Left alone with her thoughts, she realized that she was still young enough to bear a child, and with her son now old enough to be on his own, this was, perhaps, the time to remarry.
It was at this moment that light began to grow in the room. Anna sat up and looked with amazement as dots of light began to form into shape in front of her until she saw it was a woman’s form but indistinct.
“Anna Crispen, Anna my faithful follower. I have heard your prayer. I will watch over your son. He will return to you. In return, my temple may ask something of him, encourage him to cooperate and all will be well. Be blessed, my faithful daughter.”
The image began to fade.
“Wait! Goddess, I have a question. A question for myself.”
The image brightened and solidified again.
“Ask your question.”
“Thank you. Will I ever know love again?”
“Yes. But not in the way you think. I will also answer the question unasked – yes, you will bear another child with another man. But it is Lief who will bless me the most. Your other child will belong to another deity. She will not serve me”
“I see. Thank you once again for your patience with your servant.”
The image faded and disappeared.
Anna smiled – love, a child – a girl, and Lief safe. She breathed deeply. Now there was nothing for it but to wait.
I am sorry for the delay on this series, but I got sick this week and have not felt like much of anything all week. I also have to face the reality that I was going about this all wrong by trying to top down the world design for this series. I have turned it around and designed one character (literally redoing my fighter a third time) a single setting idea and then went forward. The basic idea is that the world will fill in of its own accord as each new character is added and when things need to be answered.
Ultimately this is the roleplaying part of the solo adventure I am doing. I basically am going to play the game and jot things down in the journal. That’s why things won’t always be predictable even for me. I will then take this and turn it into a story for the roleplay part. I will be introducing a new character from time to time and things will grow as I am able.
A few other things:
- This series is very adult in its content. I don’t recommend it for kids. I honestly think the Dungeons and Dragons world suffers from a sterility problem in this regard. Expect genuine adult situations, horror, sexual situations, incest, nudity, and violence. If you watched Game of Thrones, nothing will surprise you here. What might be interesting is that multiple races invite some interesting situations. This series will not shy away from rape and murder nor will it be ‘woke’. I want a realistic portrayal and not everyone in the world has ‘modern’ sensibilities.
- Part of this is I want to realistically portray the nature of ancient religions and cosmology. It is interesting that Dungeons and Dragons’ mythos centers on creation as an act of war, whereas most pagan myths view it as an act of sexual creation. People in pagan thought tend to look at the world around them and reason to the divine. “My mom and dad had sex and here I am. Where did the universe come from? Two gods had sex and here it is.” For me, proper myth has creative acts in life be creative in myth and destructive acts are destructive.
- It should be noted that my world thus views sex in a much more positive and less taboo light. In fact, it is the more evil deities that will encourage celibacy and the destruction of life through things like forbidding sexual expression.
- Character Development: Lief Crispen was developed with as many random tables as I could use. I also randomized many elements of his creation to get what I got. This actually will be pretty true for most of the characters you will see. The goal is for me to challenge myself in writing creatively. How do these things go together? How does this background fit the class? etc. Today, I tried to get a basic background for the character presented but chose to do it through his mother. In addition, one of the random background things was the character got a treasure map as a boon. It launched the idea of what happened today. Most characters will be created randomly like this but I will try not to repeat a class and/or subclass until all classes are used.
- Character Death: Death is going to happen. I am not going to protect these characters with one exception, the last character standing alive gets protected to keep continuity between the characters in a single story arch, In this case, this centers on Adventures by people from the City of Brightblade.
- Adventure Development: I am using The Solo Adventurer’s Toolbox Parts 1 and 2 once I get passed these first couple of adventures. For the adventure that is coming and the second one will actually be based on solo adventures from the 1983 Basic Set: You know the one with the cover below. If you played them you are familiar, but I will be adding my own twists. After that, it will be pretty random.
One final note. I will be writing on only this series for a while. I recently realized I am trying to do too many projects. So this is the only thing I will be doing for at least a year. My goal is to get my creativity flowing again and then see what I can do later. I loved D&D as a kid and teen and now I am feeling that growing again and just want to enjoy it. Basically for those that follow my life. It’s Living life, My YouTube Channel, and this series for a year or so.
Other Sources: Player’s Handbook, Dungeons Master’s Guide, Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, and Naughty and Dice: An Adult Gamers Guide to Sexual Situations.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.