The R24 Unreliable Travel Guide

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    The SotA Writing Round Table Unreliable Travel Guide
    R24 Edition

    Much to the dismay of decent folk everywhere, The Unreliable Travel Guide continues to be published by two drunken layabouts who have nothing better to do than derive a dishonest income from unsuspecting avatars. It consists of nothing more than tall tales about random landmarks and happenings.

    Once again the publishers have discovered, through extensive use of such research tools as alcohol and imagination, several exciting things to report. The locations probably do exist, but the stories that take place within them are highly unlikely to be true. Enjoy!

    Editor's Note: This issue and all upcoming issues will be available through the New Britannia Press. For more information, contact@royalsexy.

    (This series is created at the SotA Writing Round Table. You can add your own unique tall tales for the entertainment and probable confusion of others...Or simply take advantage of our peer review process to polish any SotA related fiction.)
     
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    Underground Dwellers Desperately Seeking Tans


    As more and more avatars flood into New Britannia, available land is becoming scarce. This has forced many to return to the ancient subterranean refuges that sheltered our ancestors during the Cataclysm.

    There is no denying that these locations have a certain otherworldly ambience that many find appealing. Perhaps less appealing however is the perpetual lack of sunshine due to the sombre granite skies, resulting in a pallid complexion that leaves cave dwellers instantly recogniseable. This has led some wags to refer to them by the nickname "ghosties".

    Couple that with the tendency of inhabitants to become lost in the countless twisting passages, and many mushroom munchers who are unable to locate the exit have sought easier ways to obtain a tan. The latest fad amongst the increasingly desperate cave coterie is to use the radiation from a moon tower to achieve a less alarming skin tone.

    The initiator of this fad is one particularly enterprising UTG subscriber who goes by the name of Irving Lardswaddle. Mister Lardswaddle has moved quickly to establish a series of subterranean tanning salons and, despite his lack of familiarity with these strange underground locations, has enjoyed great success as the anaemic inhabitants clamour for his services.

    We here at the Unreliable Travel Guide wish him well and would like to renew our commitment to continue sending him issues of our publication. Our subterranean subscriber uses them to mark his way along the strangely confusing tunnels that connect the various parts of his new home.
     
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    Cultural Exchange Leads to Confusion at Vertas

    Kiakis, the wise and learned leader of the Vertas Elves, announced an art exhibition last month in Vertas. He encourage elves, outlanders, native humans, and even some other creatures to produce creative works. His great hope was that this would lead to increased understanding between all the inhabitants of the region. The art would be displayed for a week and admired before the artists who created each piece would be revealed.

    On the day the entries were set up in the market plaza, an unusual artistic creation appeared on the fringes of the town where humans generally reside. It was made almost entirely of snow. The elves were greatly excited by this development and pondered its meaning. They knew its portly shape could not represent an elf, or any other creature common in the area, so they surmised it was a commentary on human life. Did it's placement away from the exhibit capture a sense of isolation or exclusion? Did the coal used for its eyes represent an untapped potential for light and warmth? What could the carrot, used as a nose, possibly mean?

    Theories were debated the whole week of the exhibition. Excitement grew until the day the artists were revealed, and Kiakis saved the revealing of the mysterious snow creation until the very end. He said, "We have saved the best for last, the artist that has captured our imagination this whole week. Would the creator of the human of snow step forward and explain the creation!" There was an uncomfortable silence for about a minute. "Please do not be shy to own this magnificent work of art! Whomever it was should come forward and receive their due admiration!" A few people coughed. Finally, when the elves were starting to despair that the creation would remain a mystery, a woman from the back of the crowd spoke. She stepped forward with flushed cheeks. "That's just a snowman my little Jimmy made when he was out playing."

    The elves eyes grew wide and Kiakis spoke. "A child decided to enter the exhibition? This is marvelous, even beyond my wildest hopes and dreams for the event. Let us bring forward Jimmy and applaud his initiative. Jimmy popped out of the front of the crowd looking down at this shoes. The elves questioned him about his work for an hour. His short, simple response only seemed to excite the creativity of the elves even more. Eventually his mother excused them both, saying Jimmy needed to rest and eat.

    In the week since the competition, the elves remain fascinated with Jimmy and his creation. What did it mean for a human child to express himself in this way? Was it an omen? The theories and debates continue. Human parents have warned their children not to create any more until it all gets sorted out.
     
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    Shalbith the Faun

    I'm not one who is normally given to displays of emotion, but I must confess to shedding a tear after my recent encounter with Shalbith the faun.

    I was exploring the Graff gem mines when I found a level that appeared to be occupied by several kobolds, a satyr and a couple of earth elementals. Normally I would have quietly backed away, however I could recognise the unmistakable signs of silver deposits and decided to risk it.

    I managed to lure the occupants towards me in small groups of two or three, and with some effort dispatched them. After wiping and sheathing my sword I was startled to see movement from the corner of my eye. It was a faun, whom I had not previously noticed. About half my height, and of somewhat delicate stature, it appeared to be terrified and kept its distance.

    As we all know, fauns are a harmless slave race controlled by the satyrs. I tried to talk to the creature, but receiving no response I started mining the silver deposits that I could see scattered in various places. After a while I had completely mined the area and packed up to leave. I must admit that by this time I had forgotten about the faun and, concerned with the possibility of dangerous creatures inhabiting the lower levels, I conjured my pet earth elemental.

    Unfortunately, as I was leaving the area to explore further below, my earth elemental took it upon itself to charge and attack the faun, killing it before I could intervene. After dismissing my pet I examined the body and found a small book with the title "Shalbith's Diary". I won't betray the most private thoughts that he had committed to paper, but I was deeply moved at his constant struggle with his predicament and the enforced separation from his family. I swore then to give him in death the peace and freedom that he had never enjoyed in life.

    With some difficulty I managed to carry his body out of the mines and buried him on a grassy hill overlooking North Paladis.

    Rest in peace, Shalbith.
     
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    Rare Levitating Stags

    Word has come of another sighting of a rare levitating stag. This gravity-defying deer species is believed to be a product of a herd that wandered too close to the Grunvald Shardfall. They are extremely reclusive and keep to the tall trees of the Savrenoc forests.

    One could rightly ask why this species of deer is not more prolific, considering that their levitation allows them to float over predators and forage on a vast and untouched supply of leaves. These deer should have spread all across Novia by now. We bring all our questions about this part of the world to the old hermit of Savrenoc, Timmet.

    Timmet explained that fauns are not able to control their levitation at birth. The doe desperately tries to keep her newborn in a safe place, pushing them down or up as they float around randomly. Eventually though, the does fall asleep in exhaustion and the young ones float up endlessly into the sky or down into a wide open space on the ground where they become easy prey. It is the rare faun that survives its first few weeks of life.

    The hermit claims that he saw a mage with an interest in zoology come down from Brittany who searched for a pregnant doe for the better part of a year. Finding one, he used a taming collar to get it into a roofed pen he had constructed. All was going well, the faun was safe, hovering in peace at the top of the cage.

    The mage, however, had underestimated the danger of staying too long in the forests of Savrenoc. It was sheer luck that over the course of his time there, he hadn't been discovered by a monster or a bandit. Eventually, a bandit scout did happen upon the camp and dispatched the mage while he was sleeping. Seeing the caged doe and faun, the scout certainly realized the value of what the mage was doing. Perhaps he hoped to bring this discovery back to his band and use it in some way to expand their power. Unfortunately, curiosity got the better of him. As he opened the door of the cage to get a better look at the faun, the doe charged through the air, landing a perfect kick right between the eyes, killing him instantly.

    Since the faun had been caged for a month, it had learned to control its levitating. Mother and baby floated out into freedom again. Timmet wanted us to convey that the moral of the story is to think twice about coming to Savrenoc to tame such wild and magnificent creatures.
     
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    Don't Ask for a Demonstration

    For many avatars the shock of finding themselves in an alien environment soon gives way to excitement as they discover a whole new world of opportunity. Suddenly they are presented with strange and exciting experiences, and amazing new skills to acquire.

    Of course, in order to fully enjoy the many adventures that this new world has to offer, wise avatars will seek out a skills trainer to prepare themselves for their new life. This is certainly the correct approach, however we here at the Unreliable Travel Guide feel obliged to advise our readers against acting hastily.

    One skills trainer in particular (who goes by the name Blackmoor and can be found in Ardoris), has no great love of avatars. Those foolish enough to ask for a demonstration of a particular skill will get exactly what they asked for - but almost certainly not what they wanted.
     
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    Letters to the Editor


    Now that Novia has a mail service, we here at the Unreliable Travel Guide have acted quickly to take advantage of this new service. With this issue (which marks the start of our second year of publication) we are pleased to introduce a new feature. Here we hope to answer the odd question (and we mean that literally) from our dozen or so subscribers.

    We start this new series with a letter we received yesterday:

    “OOOOoooOoooo oo OooO ooOOOOooOOoo OOoOO? OOoo OOooOOO ooOOO OooOOoo? OOOoooOOo oooOOoooo oo OooOO? OooOOoo OoooOOo OooOooOo!”

    After having the letter translated by one of our drinking buddies in Ardoris (who also happens to be a spirit talker), we discovered the meaning of the message:

    “Why has everything gone so dark? Where are all my clothes? What is that strange music? Help me UTG, you are my only hope!”

    Here is our reply:


    Dear reader,

    Thank you for your letter, and your implicit trust in us. It would appear, dear reader, that you are dead. As a newly arrived avatar you are likely to encounter this situation somewhat frequently.

    Remain calm. There is nothing to worry about. If you search around you should see a shaft of light. Head for the light! There you will find an ankh, and on reaching it you will find yourself resurrected and your clothing returned.

    We provide these ankhs as a service to our subscribers, and as long as you keep your subscription up to date you will always be able to use them to return to corporeal form.

    You’re welcome.