If I was to describe my life before that day, it would be simple.
I was a tailor, making and repairing clothes for the people of my village. Vests, cloaks, hats, and more. Sometimes people would have the money for my work, sometimes they didn’t. I always tried to be fair, and helped people out when I could. Of course I needed some type of payment. Sewing fabrics is how I fed my wife, my children. But things always worked themselves out, and my job kept me out of trouble. Or at least it did until that day.
The Ghermesh monarchy was always present in our village, but rarely did they ever attempt to lord over us. After all, they were benevolent and good. They would never attack a defenseless place, a place so remote and inconsequential that it would not be worth their time. And yet they did. They attacked us with ruthless abandon, the devil spawn. I can still smell the smoke of the houses burning, hear the screams of the innocent as they were slaughtered. Men, women, children, all lost their lives that day.
I was in my shop when they attacked. The chaos of the situation swirled around me like wool on the loom. I didn’t know where to go, what to do. My wife and children were on the opposite side of town. Should I go out and rescue them? Should I pray to the Raven Queen that they stay alive and well? I knew the right answer, and yet my own fear paralyzed me from action. I hid behind my desk, and clutched a pair of scissors in my hands. Normally these tools would be used to cut fabric. I hoped that my own life would not be cut as easily.
Then my door burst open. Inside stepped not a demon bringing fire and death, but a man. Or at least, he seemed a man at first. Short, stout, wearing leather boots and armor, he had a dark green cloak pulled over his head. In the dim light, I could just make out a grizzly bearded face under the hood. In his right hand, he held a sword, strangely straight on one end. On his back rested a bow nearly as tall as he, along with a quiver full of arrows. He glanced quickly around the room before his eyes came upon mine. They were dark, beady things, and they glittered in the gloom. I ducked back behind my counter, but it was too late. He had noticed me.
“Hey you there, there’s no need to be afraid,” the figure said. “My name is Mef Darr, son of Mref Darr, of the house Darr of Nal Garuhm, and I’m here to help.”
I hesitantly poked my head up a bit, scissors still clutched in my hand. My life did not immediately end there, so I poked my head up further. The figure was still standing there, sword in hand. “There you are, nice and easy,” said the stranger. “Now I have an extremely important question to ask you, one that could potentially shape the fate of this world. Are you open for business?”
Many things were running through my mind at the time. Preserving the life of my family. Preserving the life of myself. Fear, anger, hopelessness, and a million other emotions. One thing that was not running through my mind was my profession. To say I was taken aback would be an exaggeration. Here we were, in the middle of a war zone, with my village crumbling around me, and this man asks if I’m open for business?
“I…I don’t know if I am,” I said to him. “Things are a bit…busy outside?”
The man nodded his head. “That’ll be taken care of soon enough. My friends and I are gonna beat those dudes up. But in the meantime, I have a job for you.”
He sheathed his sword quickly, then proceeded to reach into a pouch at his side. Out of it, he pulled a massive bear skin which was far too large to feasibly fit inside his bag.
“Now I want you to make something out of this skin,” the man said, “something I’ve been thinking about for a while. See, I’d like a hat that is tall, cylindrical, elegant. But I haven’t had the chance to find someone to make it.”
His eyes lost focus and he seemed to stare into the beyond. “The last town we visited was razed to the ground, leaving nothing left.”
Then his eyes focused on me again. “But this town isn’t burned to the ground yet, so I figured I’d rush over here while I can. Now, can you help me?”
I just stood dumbfounded by this…bizarre creature. My village was under attack, and he wanted a hat? “I…suppose I can?” I said after a moment. “Do you…want me to work on it now?”
“Yes that would be lovely,” he said, and tossed the bear skin over to me. “How much do I owe you?”
I was still staring dumbfounded at him, confused by the sheer chaos of this situation. Seeing the confounded look in my eyes, his gaze softened and he walked over to me. He gently placed his hand on my shoulder.
“I understand how you must feel,” he said. “You feel weak, scared, helpless. You can’t choose between saving those you love and saving yourself. You feel like there’s nothing you can do, and it kills you on the inside.”
His eyes once more glazed over in distant memory. “That’s exactly how I felt when my father died.”
His eyes returned and gazed upon me for a moment. “You can’t save your village. Nor should you try. You don’t have the capability to do that, and you’ll just get yourself killed if you try. But me,” he gestured towards himself, “I fight monsters for a living. In fact, I just killed a dragon a few days ago. This is what I’m meant for, what I’m good at.”
He poked me in the chest with his finger. “But you, you’re good at all this.” He gestured towards my shop, my fabrics, my clothing. “If the world crumbles around you and there’s nothing you can do to stop it, why not go out doing something you’re good at?”
And I finally began to to see his point. I had been hiding in fear, deliberating on decisions that were well out of my control. I could not decide on what to do, and yet the path now seemed clear. Why wonder about what might happen when I could be doing something that I could control? I’d been tailoring for 20 years, and if I died, there’d be no better way to go out.
I gave him a lopsided grin. “Y’know what, you’ve got a point. 5 gold, and I’ll make you your hat. If we’re not all dead, you can pick it up in a few hours.”
“Thank you so much,” he said, throwing a handful of gold coins down on the counter. 6 gold, by my quick counting. As he headed back towards the door, I called out to him.
“Save my family, please.”
He looked back at me and gave me a grin of his own, and it was then that I truly realized his manic nature. His smile was one of a man who is on the brink of madness, and his eyes glittered with chaotic intent.
“Don’t worry,” he said, “they’ll be safe. They’ll all be safe.”
He turned to go, then stopped, and glanced back at me. “What’s your name, by the way?”
“My name is Gerald,” I reply.
“Well, nice to meet you Gerald. My name is Mef Darr. But you already knew that.”
And with that, he shot out into the fray. I sat myself down, tried to block out the noise and smells of war from all around me, and focused on making what could be the last hat of my life.
In case you didn’t know, I play DnD with some chums and good memes are had. Inspired by dramatic write-ups by @Willess12, I wrote this at 1 AM last night. This is one of my favorite moments of the campaign, and I wanted to capture it from the perspective of the poor NPC. Also in case you didn’t figure it out, I play Mef Darr.