The farewell speech of Kraytol (and his player)
I do not want to leave all of you – any of you – but I have been waiting for this my whole life. I have always wanted to be a real servant to my people, and I cannot pass up the chance to work with Duke Rezohodo himself.
When I joined you, I was a joke, a punchline. I was the dumb bull who could not do anything right. Who no one wanted around. Who got left at a tavern while other minotaurs laughed at me.
And now, I feel like I am in the company of friends. I know what it is to be valued for what I do, even though my ways may be strange. Though there are some of us who have gone – Solwyn, Zaire – and some who have not lived to continue with us – Revlan, Davish (hangs head) – you have all stayed with me and helped me become more than I thought I could ever be.
Aedra, you were the first one to show me kindness. I never forgot that you ordered me the porkburger when I sat alone in the tavern. Not even when you disrespected me, my plans, my customs, or my people. Well, maybe when I wanted to bash your head into a wall. Pause But you have shown me what it is to be really smart, and how dangerous being smart can be without being wise. Please, Aedra, I beg you: Listen to what other people say. If they are not listening to you, there is a reason why, and that is it. I can see how lonely you are among us, with your big smarts, thinking that you know always what is best to do. I know you do not see any of us as your equals, but if you act like we are, we will treat you much better, and we will take what you say into account. You have so much to offer to Mindosia, and so many ways to help this party; do not get yourself killed because you thought your head harder than it really is.
Yablo, I see how lonely you are now, too. To be betrayed by your love – I do not know how that feels. I have never had anyone besides my family love me, and until recently I do not think I had what it took to love someone else truly. It is so easy for you to keep secrets, and I sometimes wish I could have learned that trick better from you. But you can get lost in your disguises, in your schemes. Sometimes you have to open up to people. To those who you can trust. I hope that we have earned your trust by putting our lives in your hands and yours in ours. Maybe you can trust us with your heart now as well as your physical body.
Shyrrik, you have also been alone all this time. Even in that tavern where we met, you were by yourself, watching and helping from a distance. Slowly, you have come to us and let us in. Despite the losses you have endured, you have slowly made yourself a part of this group. And by doing this you have found your arrows aim truer, your shots find their home all the better. You have even taken me back from a near rage a couple of times, and I cherish your friendship. May you continue to know the benefits of friendship, even when people let you down or disappoint you.
Hagrox and Drixson, I do not know you very well. But already, you have shown me that even the earth beneath my hooves and the birds of the air can be friends. You have helped me to see a bigger world, and you have shown me how it can be changed. I hope that you can join with this party, that they can change you as they have changed me. I hope they can show you things you have never seen, take you places you have never dreamed of, and be the kinds of friends whose bonds death could never dream of sundering.
And Ejnar, the one most like me here. You have the good touch like I do, and you use all kinds of magic. You tended to me in the mines, keeping my hands and my mind salved when I was nothing but a beast. And you have been the heart of the party, even when you were gone. We had to find you, and we were able to maintain our party together only with you to hold us together. You may still be our anchor, our soul.
I keep saying we, like I am staying with you. But maybe I can in some way. Ejnar, you are the only one besides me who can heal people, but that is not fair to expect you to do. I have been the one who has done it, So I will give everyone my blessing through the power of chaos.
Everyone gather round me and take hold of my fur.
A glow raises up through Kraytol’s being, starting at his core and radiating outward. A dull red at first, it goes through orange and yellow until becoming a white-hot aura. Light begins to radiate out of his pores, and his eyes are as suns in his skull. Though everyone touching him feels the temperature rising, they are not burned, and their hands clamp all the more onto him. Soon, the glow passes over them, then through them. A vague pressure builds, and the light imbues them all with a sense of peace and calm that none of them have ever known.
Not only their bodies but their very souls are healed, bathed for a few brief moments in the clarity of Kraytol’s purpose. The glow subsides, then the heat, with the peace lasting a little longer still. Everyone else stands a bit taller, but Kraytol is slumped and visibly spent, as if something has passed from him utterly. Bags are apparent under his eyes, and the innocent twinkle is no longer there.
You now have my blessing. You have the power to heal each other. Not often, and not as well as I can myself, but I want you to have this. I want you to be able to take care of each other. I want my healing gifts to stay with you.
Unexpectedly, he drops a turd and tosses it at Aedra.
And if you are selfish with this gift, you will have less of it to go around. Look after each other, bond with each other, and keep each other whole, as you have done for me. You have shown me the world, and I want to keep you in it.
Especially if I can find a way to stay in touch with you. Find the Glim we know. See if he can make you another stone from his; I will work on getting this one to contact you. And when the time is right, I may even be able to see you again.
He gestures toward the portal, as if to say “It is time.”
Remember, my friends. This is not the end. This is not the beginning of the end. It is the end of the beginning.
Goodbye, and travel safely.
Oh, you thought I was done?
No, the speech was to you, the players, not to your characters. I want to share a bit about how much you’ve meant to me over the years. Four and a half of them, to be exact. I’ve been playing this game with you all for more than an eighth of my life, and that’s not a small investment of time or energy. And it’s been well repaid.
Your characters may have shown Kraytol a world, but you’ve shown me many worlds, allowing me to play in them, and even being gracious enough to permit me to develop one of my own and interact with it. By now, you should have a copy of a PDF of the Puldren Chronicles as part of our Google Docs; this is what you’ve inspired through your play in my world. Some of the characters in my work will be seem awfully familiar; I hope that’s OK. But you’ve inspired me, and I have a lifetime’s worth of stories to tell from the seeds you helped to germinate as you guided me through Puldren.
And what worlds we’ve had! A more than ancient red dragon demigod slain by a Russian half-giant dual-wielding greatswords. A land in which undead run amok, threatening to envelop a continent in unlife as its political battles undo it. A chance to see what happens when a lawful evil state is threatened in part by a bard who rose from singing to animals to leading a resistant nation. An Icelandic clime where no one was safe, and an apparently lesbian giant woman schemed for power. A couple of one-offs that introduced me to the warmage, that gave me a sense of roleplaying in the modern world as a whorish aristocrat with a deformed but brilliant brother, and the one-off that gave rise to my own campaign.
And this, a world so nice we had to play in it twice. Where the nations have denizens of a multitude of races, and where the major villains arise because of whom the players hate, not because of the DM’s railroads. A place in which a world-weary half-dragon who really was too old for this shit can have one last adventure, landing him in the minds where he would be found by an initially retarded minotaur whose neutrality inched toward good and kept his party safe with his weapon and healing. I seem to like playing big characters – am I compensating for something?
But enough of the game and on to the players.
Josh, who else could play The Wanderlust King? Or the Prodigal Player, returning to us from the desolation of Baltimore. It’s been fun to have you back, and I’m glad to see that you’ve got your own world building. There’s nothing quite like it, is there?
Dan, I’ll admit that some elements of your biography when starting here ring uncomfortably true. When I started playing here, my marriage was dissolving, and I needed a new group of friends to give me strength, as I didn’t really have many here. Fortunately, I was dragged into this group, and I haven’t regretted it since. I wish I could enjoy the world of Atkelem, but I guarantee that these aare the players who will flesh out your world for you and help you write adventures even your fertile mind hasn’t dreamed of yet.
Trent, you’ve been the quiet, unexpectedly funny, and solid rock here. I’m glad to have gotten to know you, and I hope that my eventual kids with Tosha end up being as inquisitive, polite, and fun as yours. I still remember fondly the crocodile Sullivan brought in, only to have it incorporated into our river adventures. I’ve appreciated your gentle wisdom, and I still find it ironic that you were the first one to mention the now-infamous “fagger”.
Joann, speaking of kids, I think you’re the one who’s life has changed most since I’ve known you. From a yellow rose of Texas to a mom blooming with pride in her new daughter, you have created a life who will be well-nurtured as she grows. Indeed, you nurture us all – I mean, cookies! LAST WEEK! Omnomnomnom…yum. Thank you for joining us on this wild wide; you’ve demonstrated an intestinal and numerical fortitude that not even my adventurous bride could sustain.
And Ryan, wife of Joann, donor of balls. We have discussed philosophy, love, life, and have shared struggles while trying to find the perfect woman. You’ve been a great friend all this time, and I treasure your willingness to let me stay after game, talking of all the things running through my mind. Your counsel and your gentle nature have calmed me and reassured me, even through some of my darkest times.
Eric, the other person who’s been part of this group since I joined, the one who came in to learn the game with me. I love your fire and your vigor. It’s been a joy to watch your music grow, and to see you turn into an artist whose fan base is growing, whose craft is becoming appreciated. I wish you success, a modicum of fame, and goats. Lots and lots of goats. Just not goatse.cx.
Finally, Vince. In you, I see in many respects the person I wish I could be. Your willingness and ability to help others out is legendary, and your intellectual prowess is formidable. I’m glad you’ve found an outlet for your creative writing, and I trust it will reward you as much as your musicianship and gamesmanship do. It’s been wonderful to see you make progress toward the life you’ve wanted to life, and I hope we can trade writing samples from afar.
My friends – wait, no John McCain for me. You all have given me worlds I have gladly inhabited. You have been my refuge, my outlet, and my muses. You have seen me through the best of times and the worst of times; in the truly worst of times, you have even given to me the ties that keep me bound to earth instead of oblivion. I wish I could stay or that I could take you with me, but perhaps we reach a natural break.
My career is taking (hopefully) a better turn, more congruent with what I’ve wanted. All of you are likewise growing. I simply hope that your paths do not make you grow away, as mine has regrettably forced me to do. I will stay in touch, though, and we have a guest room in Vegas. But most of all, I will treasure the inside jokes, the random song lyric banter, the characters, and the worlds we’ve created together.
Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, yours are among the most…cherished.