Dretch sat against the old stone wall, transfixed by the mixture of night and city.
Above was all blue black and glittering stars; below the enchantment of gas, fireplace, and candle as one of Acralis’ most famous streets stretched out in a curve before him. Periodically the hooves of the armored steed of the district guard beat a staccoto rhythm down the stonework; for the most part the city was still and quiet.
It was quite late, and Dretch was one of only a few travelers out and about. He’d tried to stop in the Sorceror’s Tower to inquire about work, but was told he would have the guards called on him instead at this hour. So instead he had come here to rest a bit before deciding upon his next move.
First off, he was hungry and thirsty. He needed to get some money, and he needed to get some food. He didn’t really want to risk his life in the dangerous wilderness outside the castle-city, but he was getting worried that this was his only recourse against starvation. Jobs were apparently quite hard to come by, as though the jobs themselves were plentiful the potential employees were even more so.
The houses, of light colored stone, shown a mysterious green-blue in the moonlit shadows. The blue and brown tile roofs rose darkly against the night; cheery windows spoke of tables he was not welcome at, flickering candles spoke of beds that would not be his. He was homeless, destitute, and swiftly losing all hope. All he had left was a keen sense of what was beautiful in life, and this was of course a very valuable treasure, though one hard to name a price for.
He withdrew a small pouch of smoking herbs (wizards always seemed to be able to have some around) from a pocket of his robe and began to puff softly in the shadows, taking his natural place as an anonymous shape in the city’s murk. If not for his considerable talent as a wizard, he would surely have pursued life as a rogue.
He considered it a moment; sneaking up, picking pockets, robbing the marks, living the dangerous life of a fugitive. It didn’t seem that different from the stress of the ‘honest’ life he lived now.
And speaking of now…how was he going to get some silver? He had to eat sometime. Smoke only filled the belly so long.
Dretch ended up walking a bit more through the city, making his way through the older, wealthier sections of Acralis with their stout stone ivy covered walls. Acralis was more fortress than city in the centuries when this part was built; each city a bastion of civilization against the monstrous world beyond.
Finally he ended up leaving through one of the massive old gates and crossing a stone bridge with ornately carved balustrades to find himself in the darkened groves beyond the reach of the city guards. All manner of beast might be found out here, but for the most part if would be nothing too dangerous as the guards could easily sally forth to engage a threat here. So a bit of caution but no need for terror, or so he hoped. All he had to do was find some weak monsters, slay them, take their things, and sell them. Then he could eat.
The first thing he found was a large rat. One might not think of a rat as a monster; but these ones, fed on debris in the city’s moat, were giants. Dretch found one by the road and started throwing lightning bolts and fireblasts at it, swinging his staff in between; the rat was so big that it took about a half dozen spells and as many whacks to take the life from the beast. He felt stronger in a way after he’d done it, though he then realized that there was nothing worth anything from the body of a moat rat. In reality, it was probably worth more alive, at least to itself anyway.
After this he found some young Akolod brigands and managed to glean a handful of copper from the corpses. This was almost community service, so he felt better about it. No one wanted random monsters lurking just outisde town, after all. Dretch imagined a world with no monsters, where people just lived in houses on quiet streets, and the only monsters might occasionally be each other. He shook his head; how could a world like that even exist?
Dretch went on to fight giant vipers and massive beetles. The beetles he found in some newly-sown potato fields were they were evidently causing massive damage. Dretch jumped in to help and was soon finding and slaying larger and larger beetles; soon he was fighting for his life and he got a hunch he’d soon have gone too far. The note of caution probably saved his life, as he then fled and returned to the city to sell off what little bits of salvage he’d obtained and try to find something reasonable to eat.
His dinner ended up being dried bread and flasks of water, the water murky but water regardless. This would also likely be his breakfast tomorrow, and lunch, possibly even dinner.
Dretch ended up taking a wrong turn getting back to the alleys he felt most comfortable sleeping in, and found himself in a sort of wild park preserved by the city for its natural beauty. It was raining, and late, and though the landscape was beautiful Dretch was annoyed as he passed through, intent as he was on finding somewhere somewhat dry to rest.
Finally, after what seemed like hours but was in fact half of one, he found a tolerable sleeping arrangement in the sewers near the edge of the city. Near where he made his bed was an old chest full of human skulls; in the wooden lid he carved ‘Dretch was here’.
After five minutes of trying to squish himself into as dry a corner as possible and avoid the notice of the tribe of large, mean looking rats in the chamber beyond, while also trying to fight the stomach turning odor, he gave up. Returning to the surface, he decided it was better to face a vagrancy fine or a day in the dungeon than sleep down there.
It was well into mid-day by now so people were everywhere; he had to go far into the maze of corners and culverts in the city’s residential district to find an alley back enough to sleep in. When he did find a clean spot between a brick manor wall and the broad buttresses of the outer fortifications, he was almost comfrotable.