“Don’t tread lightly”
A happenstance story
#1 Don’t tread lightly
Panel one: Black, with a small white dot center, barely visible
It was like an engine firing up. That is the best way to describe being born, for me at least. And Rashe too, I bet. I was still soft and pink like everybody else. It was more like my mind was an engine. It just kind of snapped into being. I wasn’t and then I was and by was I mean aware, ignorant but highly sentient. Remember that, I’ll be saying that a lot.
Panel two: vaguely humanish hand/claw piercing a pink fleshy womb, light pours forth. Keep this vague as possible so that the reader has no idea what Tad looks like
I knew, for a brief time, folk who were proud of coming into being like that. Of never having an infancy. Of being born eager and aware. I think it is the one thing I’ll always want. We were still newborns but we thought and felt like angry, dumb, uhh let’s see, 13 year olds. That’s the best way to describe it
Panel three: Hand clawing its way to life is now replaced by a slightly gnarled man’s hand, covered in a robe. It is holding a chalice in the air to a toast. In the happy, receptive audience is a motley crew of RPG stereotypes and archetypes. Be sure to include cameos of Final Fantasy's Black and Red Mage, Swords of Truth characters (Jacob, Eka, Yuri, descriptions to be provided later) Lina Inverse, Zelgadis, Bigby Wolf (human form), Gogo, Setzer, and Mog.
We were strong. We were smart Very Smart. We could, at that age, do extraordinary things. And we did. I should have listened to my God, when he told me “Don’t tread lightly” Rashe didn’t listen, he heard the same message but he didn’t listen. Somehow he got it all wrong. I’m sure of this.
Panel four: POV shot of a muscled, scarred, orc hand closing over the viewer’s eyes. Again, give no indication what Tad and Rashe are. Put a female orc in background. Make them deeply ugly and armed.
I have to be sure. Otherwise this was all for nothing. Things don’t just happen. Everything means something, IT HAS TO.
#2 At the Drag-inn
Panel one: Tall, lanky, young man in a cloak. He looks like he is an upper middle class business owner. He has tan skin, yellow eyes. He is standing over a ledger on a desk in a medieval style inn. There is a bar in background filled with vague shapes of soldiers, wizards, clerics, and even an elf or two drinking. He is holding a quill and he looks worried. There is a large, silver, jeweled chalice on the desk. Keep it there in the background in multiple panels and strips. .
Small sub panel: A raven lands on the desk. Give it a vague, red, greasy, “feather beard”.
Small sub panel 2: Raven looks up at Tad and smirks.
Raven: Hello, Tad. I’m going to go spy on that wizard who checked in an hour ago. The one who really wanted his privacy. Surprised?
Panel 2: Tad looks tired, furrows brow and picks up quill.
Tad: No I’m not surprised. I told you not to do this. I told you to leave that traveling wizard alone like he asked. You’re doing something dumb instead of what I told you to do. Why would I be surprised?
Panel Three: Close up on raven with a disappointed look on his face.
Raven: You don’t have to be such a dick about it
Tad (from off panel): I can’t help it anymore Rashe.
Panel Four: Raven takes flight soaring out a window, whooshes past Tad.
Rashe: You can’t stop me. Don’t even try, I’ll just kick your ass again, Tadpole
Tad: You’re going to die, I’m going to tell you mom, and then I’m going to do her.
(At the bottom of the page)
As orphans, we were both fans of that joke.
#3 Bird’s eye view
Panel 1 Raven/Rashe is perched on a tree, peering into a 3rd story window.
A pov shot of an old but spry looking man in a cloak. The cloak looks expensive and is covered in jewels. He is meditating in a well furnished room.
Sub panel b: The room without the man. Where did he go?
Sub panel c: A close of the wizard’s face, he is pissed.
Panel 2:Rashe falls out of the tree. A big “crash” cloud obscures what he looks like.
Panel 3: A large, snake-man (Yaun-ti) slithers away)
Panel 4: Rashe, as a Yaun-ti, slithers into the inn and stops in front of Tad, still at the desk.
Without looking up, Tad: So did things turn out like I said they would or were they worse?
Panel 1: At the Inn, Tad is standing in front of Rashe with his arms crossed. He looks righteous.
Tad: Why didn’t you leave him alone? Now he’s going to blast our ass into some sort of suck-dimension.
Rashe: Dude you are so gay.
Tad: I’m not gay, I’m a vir.. Fuck you!
Rashe is still a Yaun-ti. Be sure to give this snake man a greasy beard. All of Rashe’s forms, except for his true form will rock the beard.
Panel 2: Tad puts his hand on his face. Rashe is enveloped in a “Poof” cloud.
Tad: At least turn into a human so we don’t freak out the customers.
Rashe: Oh Shit yeah.
Panel 3: Rashe is now a stout (but normal height) human. He has short blond hair and a wild look in his eyes. Don’t forget the beard. Yes he has two hair colors, want to fight about it? He has a slightly nervous sweat puddle on the side of his. Draw a small thought bubble of the old man’s face. He is lying about this.
Rashe: I don’t know what your problem is? What makes you think he knew?
Tad: I saw you fall and turn back into a Yaun-ti. Someone cast dispel magic on you. You’ve never studied ravens. You turned into a Yaun-ti, and then polymorphed into that.
Panel: 5 Rashe clapping, Tad looking pissed. On the table, there is a silver, jeweled chalice.
Rashe: Congratulations Shirereve "Shit-for-brains" Good thing you figured this out after I did it!
Panel 6: Tad smacking Rashe with the chalice. A big “Ye olde KAPOW!” explosion coming from it.
#5 Party of 50
Panel 1: Tad and Rashe are on the floor wrestling. Rashe has Tad pinned.
Sub panel a: A dusty “fight cloud”. Show fangs and fists on the side. Think cartoony.
Sub panel b: Same image, but now the shadow of a young boy looms over them.
Sub panel c: Same image, just with text “Uh Uncle Tad, Uncle Rashe?”
Panel 2: Tad and Rashe in the same position as in Panel 1, both turn their head. Tad looks embarrassed because he was fighting, Rashe is looks confident he is beating Tad again.
Tad+Rashe: (Sharing word balloon). Yes?
Panel 3: Dark skinned but with European features, young human boy of about 7. A little tall for his age, lean. Has a subtle, faint, sad look in his eyes. Reverent look on his face. Tad and Rashe took him in. He loves them and knows their secret. Have him wearing what looks like some sort of fantasy furry monster skin. Think Final Fantasy Barbarian class. Complete with tusked fox cap. It’s a monster fox!
Behind him, put a faint image of knight boots and armored legs, the points of upside down swords, the bottoms of spears, shields, etc.. There is an army beyond the limits of the panel.
Thomas Egress: If you guys are done handling each other, we have guests. I mean we always have guests, except for at the beginning, but these are a lot at once.
Sub Panel a: Just the word bubble
Rashe: He talks like you Tad. You’re a wonderful mom.
Panel 4: A splash image of the Alphadian Army! They look like a squadron of sorcerer soldiers. They are wearing exotic but tough looking armor. They are a mix of humans, elves, half orcs, dwarves, (Red mage cameo in the background). They are carrying swords, spears, shields, staves, and bows that are also exotic and deadly looking. On their chests is the insignia of Alphadian, a green comet. You will later see this insignia at various angles. But these are all at a 45 degree one. It’s an army thing.
Thomas: And they want to get DRUNK!
Sub panel a: Gauntlets and fists raised in the air. Big speech balloon.
At the bottom of the panel
I’ve been alive for so long, most of it in conventional time that I sometimes mix up the order. I remember it all but sometimes I make more than one beginning. It all started when they took Rashe and I away, absolutely. But this, this is where we sealed our fates. Nice tippers though.
#6. Rapier Twit
Panel 1: Tad has walked past the inn desk and is shaking hands with a tall man in his 30’s. He is wearing blue/white paladin armor with the Alphadian seal (45 degree green meteor) on the chest. At his side is a 5 foot long serrated saw/sword. He has a fused gauntlet/shield coming from his other hand. Give him a smug look on his face. The rest of the Alphadian Honor Guard encircles them. Rashe is flanking Tad. Thomas stands off center, he has a bright grin on his face.
Tad: I’m Tad and this is Rashe.
Erik Cumupins: Nice to meet you. Is this your partner?
Tad: No, we’re just friends. We grew up together!
Rashe: Damnit Tad that’s not what he meant.
Panel 2: Erik is now shaking Tad’s hand. Keep the smug look on his face. Focus the view on just him and Rashe, specifically their arms.
Erik:.. Nice to meet you too. Now, my name is Erik Cumupins. My soldiers and I have been training for months in the forest of the God’s near Mangevile.
Rashe: That crazy Gnoll village? Tad and I tried to invade that village close to 4 years ago.
Sub panel 1: Tad recalling a scary and painful memory
Tad: They kicked our asses. Who knew they had wizards? Dozens of wizards.
Sub panel 2: Tad looking to the side
Tad: Another idea by Rashe that almost got us killed.
Panel 3 (begin with small sub panel and go into big splash panel)
Sub panel: Erik with both his hands on his hips, laughing at Tad and Rashe
Erik: Hah! Even we would not invade Mangevile without the full support of Alphadian. And we’re the
Splash panel: The Alphadian Honor Guard, their legs not moving, throwing their exotic weapons up into the air in triumph resulting in magical chaos and destruction. Have lighting and ice blow out of trumpets. Have blades shoot out acid that dissolves the floors. Have Half Orcs carrying giant hammers shoot blood all over the place. Make the Drag-Inn look smashed.
Erik and his squad: ALPHADIAN HONOR GUARD!
Panel 4: Tad, Thomas, Rashe covered in soot and ash. Have them look exhausted and utterly shocked. The Honor Guard is magically glowing.
Sub Panel A: The Honor Guard has stopped glowing and they look a little sheepish.
Sub Panel B: Rashe smiles, have a thought bubble coming from his head saying “Cool”. Tad is furious. Draw him with fangs. He is not as good at morphing as Rashe (which we will explore later in his lack of poofs). When he is upset, parts of his true nature come out. The audience does not know these two are dragons yet and may just see this as artistic, hopefully.
Tad: GOD DAMNIT! YOU JUST BLEW UP OUR INN? WHAT THE IN HELLS IS WRONG WITH YOU? WE PAID OUR FEES AND YOUR TAXES, WHAT THE FUCK IS UP?
Panel 5: The Honor guard is now summoning magics and monsters to fix their mess. Show images of wood elementals chopping up and building with themselves. Show magical energy surrounding broken glass and mortar. The Honor Guard should be chanting, holding up their hands, gesturing, praying, and commanding their creatures.
Rashe is still pleasantly shell shocked while Tad is slightly less angry. Thomas is catatonic.
Erik: Sorry about that, we are very proud of ourselves. Plus we almost never run out of spells. We will fix this place and maybe make it even nicer by the end of the night.
Tad: Why are you here? If I wanted to renovate this place I’d do with my own claws.
Sub panel: Black, no image (inferred to be) Erik: I have a business proposition for you.
#7 Double tubin’ Dragons
Panel 1: Sub panels
A: Close up of a bare, attractive, female leg walking.
B: Same thing
C: Same thing
Panel 2: Teleece, wrapped in a towel. Stereotypical hot elf chick. Tall, shapely, impossible looking. She is a minor character so play it up.
Tad is starring at her sheepishly. Rashe looks a little embarrassed. Thomas is a mix between the two. Give Erik another smug look complete with armor hidden boner.
Teleece Ioepsis: Why is there a suicidal wood elemental fixing my destroyed room? I was taking a bath.
Teleece Ioepsis: No, my sister was there too.
Sub Panel A: Her looking around at all the people present
Sub panel B: Walking away, hips swaying, dark cloud surrounding her. Teleece: I’m going to get dressed. Then I’m going to start the blasting.
Panel 3: General rebuilding hi jinks in the background. Thomas is now helping out because he is such a good boy! Erik is addressing Tad and Rashe.
Erik: We’ve been training for a while and we wanted to have a little fun before our mission begins.
Sub panel A: Erik, flamboyant, hand on chest, closed eyes and upturned head.
Erik: Since we cannot party in the streets of Alphadia, the grateful citizens would swamp us, we were considering renting out your Inn’s tavern. We will give you a gold voucher redeemable at our treasury.
Sub panel B: Close up of Tad, his fangs are now gone. He looks miffed. Tad: What, so you can blow it up again? You’ve been training for so long now you just want to kick back and tear apart an Inn?
Sub panel C: Rashe with his hand on Tad’s shoulder. Rashe: They did rebuild it. Look, these guys are worth a lot of money and it never hurts to have soldiers as regulars.
Sub Panel D: Rashe looking at Erik: Alright, we will charge you 500 gold for the extra service and we will discount our drinks 5%, so feel free to get ripped.
Panel 4: Tad, wanting to contribute something, steps forward arm up with his pointer upward. Bird’s eye view on an angle with Erik crossing his arms and Rashe looking on.
Tad: You cannot rent it out, you guys can drink with our customers but the Drag-Inn is never an exclusive place to be.
Erik: I’m not sure about that, I am ordered to rent the place out. What do you think guys?
Panel 5: The Alphadian honor guard with their hands on their chins, thinking.
Sub panel A: Small, cute version of Tad and Rashe cowering. Tad is saying “Hit the deck”. Chibi
Panel 6: All of the Honor Guard looking at one halfling in the middle left corner.
John: I’m tired of sleeping with the same people for the past 4 months.
Panel 7: A mixture of emotions from the Honor Guard. Some look bored and receptive to the comment “You’re telling me”, some look sheepish, others look a little concerned about the squad relationship dynamics after this. Put a few small speech bubbles from three random guard members. You’re choice, be sure to remember who they are though.
Guard 1: I wasn’t tired of it
Guard 2: I thought it made us closer.
Guard 3: Mo’ like everyone’s tired of you.
Panel 8: Erik, looking a little annoyed.
Erik: Awkward, thank you. Clearly we need some fresh blood. All right, we will pay you for the extra service and all the drinks. You have a deal, shore dwellers.
Panel 9: Tad and Rashe looking pleased. Erik waving to his cheering Honor Guard.
#8 Founded in blood
Back room, sort of an employee’s break room with a table and six chairs. A framed picture in the background.
Panel 1: A meeting of the head employees of the Drag-Inn
Teleece, still in a towel. Her sister, Pam is wearing overalls and boots. Show a little cleavage, she is built like her sister but acts very modest about it.
Tad is resting his hand on his arm on the table. Rashe is sitting up with his feet on the table.
Draw a small Phoenix sitting on the center of the table. Show Red, Blue, and purple flames subtly coming off of the back of its fire wings.
This is Teal in her travel size form.
She started out this size and is now about as big as a Saint Bernard (with a 5 foot
wingspan and a 3 foot layered aura of fire. Tricky, yes.
On one of the chairs is a woman with blue skin. She is tall and pretty.
She has long blond hair and a mischievous smile on her face. She is holding the chalice Tad used to smack Rashe. She is Selene, the water elemental. Do not give it away yet. She is wearing modern looking tan leather pants and a white poofy blouse.
Writing a letter (quill and parchment), is Roy Lesotho. He is a large black human in his mid thirties. He is very muscular and has a few scars on his arms. He has a happy look on his face. He is writing to his family who live on the Africanesque continent of Jamarra. He is wearing armor that literally looks like its made out of stone (magic stone). Its part of his secret strategy.
Thomas is sitting in another chair, drying out a glass with a rag. He is excited for the night ahead.
Starts with two sub panels and text
A: Black no image
We were so excited for the big night, even my doubts were gone. I had forgotten how moments ago they trashed the place. IN TRIUMPH, no less.
B: Small close up of the painting in the background.
Still I’m thankful they came in a small way. They proved to me I could have made at as a real person with a real job instead of being an adventuring disaster cloud. Adventures are nothing but super powered bums eating and burning up everything.
Close up of the image in the background. Big splash page.
It shows the first day of the Drag-Inn.
The twins will be there. We’ve already described the first one Teleece; draw her in purple cheesecake showy dark wizard woman robe. Her sister on the other hand will be very different. Although she has the same proportions as her sister, she does not show them off. She is a professional, contemplative fighter. Draw her in full battle gear. Her armor is all made out of wicked sharp and serrated seashells. Think giant demonic lobsters and polar bear eating crabs. Make it look pretty too and expertly made. Have in her right hand a sword with a blade that looks like a sharpened anchor. She has a smile on her face, the only thing not protected.
Roy is waving, holding Teeleece up in the air with his other hand. She’s giggling and he’s smiling.
Rashe leaning in and hamming it up with two thumbs up and a goofy smile. Be sure to remember to give him the greasy red beard and blond hair (for the human form). Tad is pointing to the Drag-Inn. A modest inn at the time consisting of only one floor. There is a little sign with the inn’s name and logo. It is a picture of a big momma dragon with its claws wrapped around two baby dragons. Tad and Rashe still miss their family. In red is name.
I miss those days. Things were so much simpler then. Rashe and I had no idea that by the time the week was through we’d be mayors. And mourners.
I miss knowing every customer and hanging out with them all day, hearing their stories and moving them along. I miss slowly going from protecting the Ioepsis sisters to hoping to sleep with Teleece after fooling myself into thinking that we were safe. I miss them all but I’m glad they ended with a party. And what a party it was.
#10 Liquor licenses are insane even IRL
Panel 1: Previous image of the senior staff assembled, Teleece still shameless in her towel. They are now all looking at the founders.
Tad: So that’s the plan. I think this is going to be great for us. I know it was a little weird they did so much damage to this place but look, they fixed everything and then some. Now we have a steam room!
Rashe: They are paying us 500 gold just of the extra service. I threw them a 5% discount on booze but I know they will make up for it. I just sent a check for the 5th installment of our liquor license layaway plan. They came at just the right time. These guys are the Honor Guard and they are loaded.
Selene: No, they’re not loaded until they’ve had a taste of my disintegrating-gin.
Roy: I’ll keep them in line and tell them increasingly bawdy stories of my homeland as they, we progressively drink throughout the night. And you know, keep things cool.
Teleece: I’m going to wait on them just like this, (smug, half joking look on her face)
Pam: I hope the guys are cute.
Teal: Ka Kawwww!
Panel 2: Tad pumping his fist on the table, view of him leaning forward with a smile on his face, its infectious as others are picking up his enthusiasm.
Tad: All right everyone, Rashe will get the kitchen staff ready, I’ll get the maid’s a maidin’. I want the rest of you guys to clean up the bar while still serving the regulars. Someone work the crowed too, get them excited for the Honor Guard.
Sub panel A: Everyone’s hands encircled onto one point. A go team moment but they don’t say anything. It’s their thing.
Panel 3: Two split images. Anonymous medieval peasants cooking and sewing up a kitchen. Same peasants cleaning beds and preparing rooms. Draw a couple eyes and mouths in the wood, remnants of the wood elemental. Creepy.
Panel 4: Draw a large bar, in a mead hall style. Chair multiple chairs and table. Draw a long bar table in the left corner with a stand and flasks along with shelves of hard liquor. Draw plenty of wooden mugs and wooden plates. Put up a few mounted heads of fat, tusked, red skinned demons (Bazetu). Put a few cameos in the assorted crowd of patrons, most of who are wizards of multi ages (they are mostly Alphadian tourists). Put a bear drinking a bear towards the side. Draw the Necromancer from Diablo 2 (Middle aged man in bone armor, pale, gaunt, ashen, sullen, but not evil looking, Locke from final fantasy 6, and a cat wearing a crown and holding a microphone puss in boots style anthropomorphized.
Big speech balloon.
“Ladies and gentlemen, loyal Alphadians and travelers alike, I bring you”
Panel 5. Selene, holding a lute with a big smile on her face, waving in a crowd of excited magical soldiers (think shore leave) through a big door into the bar behind her. In front of her, a legion of mugs raised in approval.
Selene: The Honor Guard! Let’s show them a good time, the Drag-Inn way!