I’m not actually trying to write a story with these characters that we’ve seen several times in the past few days, though I think I have managed to write a pretty solid foundation of, like, an opening couple chapters with these characters. Might be worth revisiting/expanding/improving later on down the road.
That being said, the entire basis for this one was being able to work in Lucia’s reaction (bearing in mind that she’s a cat-person) to someone using the phrase “more than one way to skin a cat.”
What got off to an inauspicious start, Lucia reflects, has certainly progressed to an inauspicious middle.
The group of adventurers — Lucia, Apolline, Petra, along with the newly-added Roland and Alda tagging along — have arrived at the location of the long-abandoned tower of the great sorcerer Brorvonius. And have promptly found themselves utterly vexed about how to get inside the tower.
The story goes that after a long career of sorcery, wizardry, and study in many other strange fields, Brorvonius ultimately decided to retire to a quieter, simpler, infinitely more mundane life. The great sorcerer is said to have packed up a few prized possession, shut the door of his tower behind him and locked it with powerful spells before retiring to obscurity and disappearing from the pages of history.
The location of the tower has never been a secret in the intervening years. Looming large over the fields just outside of Middlesbrooke, it remains a well-known feature of the Duchy and is frequently visited by groups of adventurers seeking to claim whatever treasures and wonders Brorvonius may have left inside.
But not a single soul since Brorvonius left his tower behid has ever been able to get past the doors. Whatever spells he worked on the door are still holding fast, even after so many years.
At this point, Lucia feels like they’ve tried everything to get this stupid door open. Apolline has tried spells and counter-spells of her own. She even tried magical passwords in no fewer than eight languages. Lucia tried to pick the lock. Petra tried to smash it open. Roland tried to melt the lock with acid, then blow it up with a highly-flammable alchemical concoction. Petra tried to smash it open again.
So far, they’ve been just as unlucky as every other group of adventurers that has tried to get into the tower.
“Well,” Roland offers. “We’ll just have to try something else. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”
Lucia throws her hands up in disbelief. “I’m standing right here!” the lynx-woman exclaims.
“Why don’t we stop for lunch?” Apolline asks. “We’re all getting tired and hungry, no? Maybe a break will help us think of a new way forward.”
The group settles down for a break and quick meal. As frustrating as those first few days looking for work in Middlesbrooke were, being able to sleep in a real bed and eat real food was a welcome change of pace from her typical life as an adventurer. And the food back in Middlesbrooke was good.
“Hey, where’d Alda go?” she asks, realising that the girl isn’t with them.
“Here she comes,” Roland says, pointing to the rapidly approaching figure of his sister.
Alda comes running back to the others. “I did it! I did it!” she exclaims eagerly, almost tripping over herself in her excitement. “I got the door open!”
“And how did you manage that?” Apolline asks.
Despite her attempts to maintain her typical cool, composed demeanour, an eager grin is raising the corners of her mouth and she is glancing past the girl in the direction of the sorcerer’s tower.
“Well, I realised there was still one thing we hadn’t tried yet,” Alda says.
“And what was that?” Apolline asks. “What did you try?”
Alda grins proudly. “I knocked.”
Sidebar: Lucia is established to be from Natalis, which is the Realmgard equivalent of Italy. She’s also a Lynx Wilderling.
Worth noting that the Eurasian Lynx has historically had populations in Italy (mostly in and around the Alps) and has been seen returning to the region at the start of the 21st century after being declared extinct at the beginning of the 20th century. I didn’t actually know any of that when I decided to make her Natalian.
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