April 1st marks the release of The Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill, the first adventure in the Grualroth’s Rot series. While I do have some teaser concept art from illustrator Thom Delair, it won’t be hitting these pages until next week. Until then please enjoy this excerpt as a preview of the adventure to come.
The evening is coming to an end as a handsome, plucky bearded gnome in a bright red overcoat inlaid with flourishing golden threadwork carries a small horned box onto the stage along with an odd looking lute. The instrument is made of metal instead of wood with a hide strapped across the hard geometry of the circular drum at its base, but really the box is what catches the eye. He turns a small lever on its side in a circular motion while announcing to the crowd, “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! I assure you that although it may seem as though the revelry of this enchanted evening will soon come to a close, it is my utmost pleasure to inform you that this need not be the case, for Terrence Threncewell, performer extraordinaire, has arrived to the stage. Please only give what you have and keep what you can.”
With a wink and a smile he sets the wound contraption down and begins to strum his instrument, which creates a pleasant if tangy sound as he plucks away at the strings. Much to the astonishment of the crowd, the horned box opens up on each side and two diminutive gnome figurines, one with a trumpet and another with a set of drums, bring more musical accompaniment to Terrence’s not untalented performance.
After the first song comes to an end the gnome takes a deep bow as a few copper and even a silver or two are tossed near his feet. Shortly after the second song begins a look of consternation crosses his face as the musical box increases in tempo. To Terrence’s credit he keeps pace with the miniature artificial band ending the song in an impressively dextrous flourish before an extremely loud CLANG can be heard from inside the exotic device and a little bit of smoke trails off towards the ceiling.
The sounds of a few silver and a shower of copper skipping onto the stage are drowned out by the string of profanities Terrence furiously screams that would make even a demon blush in shame. After a few minutes of tinkering at the behest of the remaining patrons of the establishment he throws up his hands in frustration.
The bard grabs the box and leaps down towards your table, motioning to the barmaid to provide another round for everyone. “I don’t mean to introduce myself in a fashion that could give you the impression that I’m the sort to judge a tome by its cover,” Terrence says with a polite grin, his left hand reaching towards a small-sized mug already being brought over by the server, “but I’ve come to the conclusion that the remainder of our revellers this evening are commoners and farmhands. You lot however have the look of adventure about you. Perhaps we might trade tales of our daring exploits and achievements, and in the future I might find time during my performances to extend your fame to the establishments so lucky as to have me grace their stage.” The rest of the drinks reach your table as his smile broadens and he raises his mug asking, “what say you, travelers?”