Background & First 2 weeks in Arcadia

Overview & First Days: Around 4th Day of Planting, 347 PS

Just encase I am unable to leave this world I need to remember where I came from and what I left behind. This will be my motivation for getting back and will give me material for some amazing stories when I make it back.

My name is Robert “Bob” Nelson. I left Earth, more specifically Minden, Nebraska on January 1st, 2019. I had been lucky enough to have the day off and spent it with my wife and two daughters both under 4 years old. During nap time I had been finishing up some of the background info for The Chaos Plan. This was supposed to be a new D&D adventure we were going to run on our podcast. I felt amazing about the progress I had made since most of my free time the last several weeks had been spent putting this all in a campaign setting of sorts so that other DM’s could run games here. I had just closed my laptop and jumped in the shower as we had a party to go to tonight at our friend’s house. We left to celebrate the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019.

We had just come back from the New Year’s party and went to bed. I had a typical dream. I was at work and trimming some brush around the buildings. I was wearing my typical boots, jeans and Pioneer Village shirt with a worn gray hoodie over it since the early spring was chilly. For some reason I had a hard hat with me though we only used them in situations that required them. While walking back to the maintenance ship the dream changed and I was falling, and a great whirl enveloped me. I found myself in a pitch-black cavern on what I could only describe as a sandy beach. I say it that way because I couldn’t see. Everything was black around me and I felt all I felt was the gritty damn sand under my fingers. I was wearing the cloths I saw in my dream complete with my tools and phone. Fumbling around in my pockets I found my phone and was able to click on the flashlight. The light was nearly blinding, but I was able to confirm that the ground underneath me was indeed a beach of sorts and warm water lapped at with just 20 ft from where I was. Assessing my situation and believing I saw lights down the shore in the far distance I began walking. I used my phone for light until the battery reached 50% at which point, I just used the light from the lock screen when I needed choosing to follow the water’s edge as a guide. I remember thinking how strange this dream was as it felt so real with the soft sound of the sand under my feet, the warmth of the water, and the slight damp smell that you would associate with a cave.

After walking for what seemed like hours but was likely only 90 mins at the most, I arrived at the glowing I had seen. The glow ended up being a strange mushroom or moss like substance on a large fence post or column maybe due to its size. Looking around I was another one and another after that leading directly away from the water’s edge. Using up some of my phones battery again I looked around with my flashlight again. I saw there in the water, several row boats. All were unoccupied and tied and staked to the ground. I cautiously called out but received no answer. Searching through them I was able to find a backpack filled with several items as well as gold colored coins. Believing this to be some crazy D&D related dream I picked up the bag including the coins and set out. Feeling a like this was kind of a game I pulled out my machete and begin looking around for the obvious slime or rat or some other stereotypical “Level 1” monsters. I saw none and continued following the strange glowing moss pillars. I eventually got tired, which was an odd feeling since I was obviously dreaming and sat down. I rummaged through my new pack and found some hard bread and began to eat. The bland taste didn’t shock me so much and the realization I could taste food in this dream, and I began to worry.

After debating and being afraid of the answer, I cut my thumb with my machete…. and it hurt. Jumping up I began to freak out. You can’t feel pain in dreams, everyone knows that. You pinch yourself and that’s how you know if your dreaming. It won’t hurt or you’ll wake up. I screamed out at the top of my lungs, which in hind sight was probably stupid, but at that point I didn’t care. I screamed until my voice was hoarse and pain bloomed in my knee as I toppled to the ground.

First Blood:

I hurt, by the Gods I hurt. My knee, already in rough shape because of the metal screw in it, was throbbing, as was my ribs now. Another blow of a blunt club hits my ribs and I jolt to awareness. I look up into the sickly yellow eyes of what I can only describe as a Goblin. I’ve played enough RPG’s and seen enough anime to know what a Goblin looks like and this was one. Powered by a drive that I didn’t know I had I rolled out of the way of the next swing and using my uninjured leg, lunged at the creature. I have to call it that now to deal with how brutal the next few minutes, no seconds, were. I’ll spare the details as I don’t like to remember them but when I limped away from that creature, I could not have told you what it originally looked like and I was barely able to hold my machete between my shaking and the gore that covered me. I took its club and what passed for clothing and fashions a brace for my leg. I continued to walk until I couldn’t and using some of my precious battery, now down to 35%, I found a large rock with an overhang and dugout under it. Checking the dugout, I found no indications that anything had used it in a while and I spent my first night underneath waking at every sound, imagined or real.

Niska and an Ally:

I continued down that path for a long time. I barely covered any distance but with a faint glowing column only every 90 ft or so I didn’t even know if I was on the path at times. I ate my 2nd meal since arriving consisting of more hard bread and some sort of dried fruit maybe. I curled up against a large rock about 30 ft away from one of the glowing columns to take a nap as I didn’t sleep well the night before. I was awoken by the cold touch of metal under my chin. A gravelly voice said, “Hey human, What’s in the bag?” I panicked and screaming with my barely audible broken voice I swung my blade wildly. The obviously experienced thieves jumped back and with one swift cut incapacitated me. I barely felt the cut as it was extremely shallow along my arm but the burn of something foul shot up my arm. My limbs when numb and my head felt foggy as I fell limp to the ground. Just as the 3 of them approached to do whatever they had planned, a purple light erupted from behind them and the furthest one back fell the ground, his now lifeless eyes staring at me. The world went black as a strange voice said, “The Raven Queen shows no mercy to those who attack the helpless while they sleep.”

I awoke without knowing how much time had passed. A very warm and welcome light greeted me as a fire had been lit nearby. My leg and arm felt as good as new if not a little stiff. A short man, I later learned was a Rock-Gnome, was sitting across the fire from me, cooking up some sort of lizard on a stick. The smell made my stomach growl and he noticed I was awake. He introduced himself as Grillshyde Jewelfingers, He is a follower of the Raven Queen and a Divine Herald Rogue by trade. He wears a Cowboy type hat with a Raven’s feather adorning it. His features are rough, but his manner is quite pleasant to be around. He is on his way to Niska, the capitol of the Shadowed Cleft, and on toward Dragon’s Price to find his friend. Putting all this together in my head I begin to laugh uncontrollably. Niska, the Shadowed Cleft, Gnomes, Goblins, Magic, I was in Arcadia, the world I had created. Bless his heart he didn’t call me insane and put me down right then and there. He listened and was very worried for me. Praying to the Raven Queen to aid me, he promised to lead me to Niska, show me the ropes of how to fight and survive, and said he would help me to discover what had happened, or at least lead me to someone who would know. Looting the hide armor off one of the bandits who was about my size and relinquishing them of what little they had on them, we set off towards Niska. With his magic to help me see in the dark, we were able to make good time and arrived there late the next evening.

Entering Niska was unlike anything I could have imagined. The organic looking structures built into the stalagmites and stalactites astounded me. The “people” were both horrifying and fascinating to me. The fact I could understand Common and Under common was an additional surprise. This capitol was beyond my wildest dreams. We lodged in a small inn and he began telling me about the world. The broad topics I already knew much to his surprise but it was the little things, the small details that I didn’t write down in the campaign notes were what I didn’t know, like the fact that the Shadow’s Guild had fronts in 8 stores in Niska and that the other guilds all had representation here and what businesses served as locations for their members. I knew of the Guild and that they obviously had places of business, but I never placed them specifically in the world. We visited shops for all the guilds but none of them knew anything about what had happened to me. After 4 or 5 days, not for sure exactly but I know I’ve slept 8 times since I arrived and 4 of those times were here in Niska, we decided we could learn nothing else here and set out towards Dragon’s Price. Before we left, I was able to find out from a guard what day it was, and I began counted sleeps from the 4th of Planting.

The Journey and Arriving at Dragon’s Price:

I had decided I liked Grill and his upfront manner helped to reassure me that There were good people here in this world. His training proved invaluable and I learned just enough about defending myself to keep myself from dying. Unfortunately, all the walking time and fighting and developed into an intense fear of dying. I knew that D&D had resurrection, but I also knew that anime’s like Sword Art Online, and Log Horizon had real consequences when you died. SAO you died in real life, and LH you lost memories. I didn’t want to try it out and test what happened for real. Another 7 days (sleeps) happened before reaching Dragon’s Price. I felt stronger and more capable than I ever had before and the constant talk about the Raven Queen from Grill made me believe I may be able to use some of those powers myself given the right circumstances.

Dragon’s Price was the crappy oppressed pit I pictured it would be when I created it. Having been a more barbaric location in my mind it lived up to its idea. The “Buildings” were constructed from bones of large creatures and the leather from their hides. No real inn was in this town, instead there was a communal hammock for lack of a better term. A large tent of sorts with 2 levels of leather stretched across it to form large hammock with enough room for a dozen or more people to comfortably sleep without being too close to one another. Grill and I bunked here and with his magic to assure our safety we spend 2 days finding out information as to the whereabouts of Zelgi. I was able to trade some of hides I had gotten off creatures we slain getting here for parchment and a quill. I’ve spent much of the last day practicing with it and now here I am writing about my journey. Grill says tomorrow we will leave Dragon’s Price and head to Zelgi’s last known location. Let’s hope it goes well.