The Oddballs Gather
by Serban, Quartermaster @ The Guild Hall
March 24 2020
It’s a sunny day in the small town of Aston. But it is by no means a quiet one. No, for this is the day that Aston’s yearly Festival of Color is set to begin. Merchants have flooded the streets, the sound of cheer and music can be heard from every fraction of the otherwise untroubled town. The streets are bustling with dye vendors, food carts, buskers, and festival games. In but a few hours, the festivities will officially begin, and every resident and traveler will do their part in painting the houses of the Town of Color. The painting will all be done, of course, with Aston-made dyes, the town’s main export.
None lay dormant.
A caravan of travelers has just arrived from the north and out of it, a large man, about 7 foot tall, wearing no shirt. He looks about, before heading into the heart of the town, confused.
None lay dormant.
A stout figure places a plaid blanket on the ground and begins to set her little creations for display. She’s been working on small mechanical rats. Her excitement is palpable.
None lay dormant.
Two oddballs, a tabaxi and a fire Genasi, look through the thoroughfare without a specific point. This amount of joy feels strange to both of them.
None lay dormant.
An unremarkable human man, followed by a metallic giant, tries to con some people into giving them their money.
None lay dormant.
A circus is setting up at the edge of town. Tonight, assassins will perform a deadly act, without anyone’s knowledge.
None lay dormant.
Except one. One is fast asleep, in the comfort of a covered cart, with her head on a Rosewood Violin. A head appears from behind the curtain of the cart. The young boy, Elion, looks at the sleeping Tiefling and whispers her name.
‘Psst…! Arty. ARTY!’
The Tiefling wakes up, wiping the sleep from her eyes.
‘Yes…Elion, I’m sorry. I was asleep.’ Her long, orange hair is a mess, with large horns poking from underneath. She fixes up her white shirt and patterned skirt and looks back and forth from the young boy to her violin.
‘I know… But it’s twelve. We had rehearsal two hours ago.’
The panic sets in quick. Arty grabs her violin and gets to her feet in but a second. One second later, she is ready to leave the cart. Elion stopped her.
‘No point. Miriam is pissed. She said you shouldn’t bother coming at all and that you should head out to fetch some blue face paint.’
‘Blue face paint?’ replies Arty with a confused look. ‘What for?’
‘She said some friends of hers are performing and they need some. They came with their fancy cart and everything.’
‘Yes… Alright, but isn’t fetching stuff your job?’
‘Well… Lady Miriam said you should do it.’ smiles the boy, now trying to fight for his position on the food chain.
Without further dispute, Arty begins making her way towards town, with nothing more than a violin and a quest for blue face paint. She will come back with it only two hours later.
In the middle of the hustle and bustle, Calamity Dragonhelm is surrounded by little children, who can’t take their eyes off of her creations. The excitement and joy of the little ones fuel her more than anything else ever could. She hands a little girl a small mechanical rat with two beady, painted eyes. The girl, surprised, giggles and runs off to her mother, who approaches and asks for a price. Calamity offers a bright smile and makes a dismissive motion with her mechanical arm. Despite her dwarven body being hard to spot amongst the large crowd, children approach endlessly. They all want to see the toy-crafter at work.
After about half an hour, the crowd suddenly disperses around her. The kids all run away. Calamity looks up, only to see a pink-skinned figure, head nudged to one side, eyeing her. Her pupil-less eyes and devilish horns scare those around, but not Calamity. Calamity knows how it feels to be shunned, so she smiles. Arty smiles too. They become friends. And both search for blue face paint.
Because none of them have been shunned before.
Targal Bearchin of Clan Nulaki is not used to crowds. The Goliaths of his clan gather rarely and even when they do, there are not more than 20 of them. He surely does not understand why all are so excited to look at colors. Colors, to him, are everywhere and there is nothing special to them. He makes his way towards the cart most distant from the center of the crowd. The sign reads “The Himmelblau”. The human man who mans the cart greets him with excitement and begins showing him paints. He also has no shirt. His body is full with paints. Targal’s is full with tattoos. They both don’t get along with the others. It makes it easier for them to communicate. And they do so until two other figures approach the cart. Arty and Calamity look up at the two gigantic men, one a half-gaint, the other muscular and with eyes as blue as the sky, smile back at them.
‘Welcome to the Himmelblau Caravan! My name is Ormis Himmelblau! How may I help you?’ bellows out the human.
‘We’d like some blue face paint.’ replies Arty.
Targal looks at the two with confusion. Calamity looks back up at him.
‘Hello! Are you a Goliath?’ asks Calamity, her eyes widening at the sight of a possible half-giant.
‘Um… Yes. I’m not from around here.’ Targal’s common is broken an unclear. His eyes look around awkwardly.
‘You look like it. Do you need some help? Are you looking for anything?’
‘No… I’m just passing by. Travelling south.’
They both smile. Arty finds out that Himmelblau does not sell blue face paint, but “The Blueface” does. Targal asks to join them. They agree.
Because none of them are from around here.
From afar, Ado watches the three with a wide grin. He looks back at his metallic bodyguard, Dorr.
‘Dorr, do you see what I see?’
‘Yes, but with mild variations.’ replies of the young warforged.
‘No, I meant those three. They could be money. Think on it. They could help us perform the betting trick. Want to give it a whirl?’
‘Onward!’ shouts the robotic companion. Ado sighs, but approaches the group nevertheless.
‘Hello and welcome to the Blueface! Is there anything you’d like?’ The gnome’s voice erupts louder than Arty thinks a voice should from inside such a small body.
‘Yes. I would like some blue face paint.’
‘BLUE, YOU SAY? HAH! SUCK IT, HIMMELBLAU!’ shouts the gnome, further scaring those around.
‘Okay… I’m sorry, is there a reason why he sells every color but blue?’ asks Arty.
‘It’s for the same reason I serve all colors but green. We’re friends, at our core. We don’t step on each other’s toes.’
From a few feet away, a voice responds, joined by the sound of metallic steps.
‘I don’t think that’s good business. Speaking of good business, would you look at you all!’ Ado nods his head and offers a bright smile to the three, as Dorr steps behind him.
‘Who are you?’ asks Targal, further confused by the influx of people. Calamity, however, pays no attention to the brash human. Her eyes are fixed to the marvel of engineering behind him. It impresses her so much, that the conversation around her drowns out. She does not her Ado pretend he’s famous. She does not hear him ask Targal and Arty to be his business partners. She just examines the iron giant and the iron giant looks back at her.
After a while, despite not believing he truly is “a famous manager for great talent”, the few oddballs buy the blue face paint and begin to look around about the faire. It is then that two more oddballs, just as odd, notice them looking about. They themselves are not quite sure why they approache. Some would say it’s just the hands of fate. Regardless of the reason, two figures could be seen approaching through the crowd. Arty was the first to notice them. One’s skin is red and her hair is made of fire. The other has cat-like, Tabaxi features and wears monk garbs.
‘Hello! Are you all from around here?’ asks the fiery one.
‘No… We are not. Are you?’ confusedly replies Calamity.
‘Absolutely not. Can we… Tag along? I’m Amedame and she’s Naila. We feel a bit strange in this whole festival. It’s weird.’
‘No issue’, smiles Ado, seeing money in the two women with different features. Dorr smiles too, because that’s what good mechanical companions do.
‘We’re weird enough as it is. Two more won’t hurt. Are you looking for anything in particular?’ elaborates Calamity.
‘An inn. And maybe something to do.’ replies Amedame. Naila remains silent, though her eyes pierce through those present.
‘Well. you’re in luck!’ shouts Arty. ‘You can come to my circus show tonight! It’s mainly dancing, but I play the violin. I’m sure you’ll like it. Oh-oh.’ In the middle of the sentence, it occurred to Arty that she was running late with some paints. ‘I’m late with some paints. We’ll meet at the circus at 7. I have to run.’
They all look at her run away and begin to laugh. Calamity looks particularly conflicted.
‘I should probably go see where the circus is. You all find a tavern, I’ll meet you there.’
Calamity then begins to run after her, although her legs are smaller and hard to run with. Arty looks behind her, sees Cal and slows down. It feels weird to have a friend. They others find an inn.
A few hours later, they’ll be bound for life. For now, they’re just a bunch of oddities. A few hours later, they’ll save each other’s lives.
Because odd ones stick together.