Adventurer's Lament
© 20 Dec 2011 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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A conversation between an adventurer a retired adventuring companion.


“‍So, you hear what happened with me the other night? I and my new team busted into a hunting lodge out in the woods. Big place, base for a group of out-of-towners. Killed two of them.‍”

“‍I heard about that. The constable said you’d helped out a lot cleaning up that crew.‍”

“‍So I’ve been told. But you know what? We really only went in there to get the artifacts they had. We sneak in, ambush them in their own place, all for what: armed robbery?‍”

“‍Come on, you know it’s not like that. You knew they were into some nasty business, warlocks and murderers. And those artifacts are part of an important mission too…‍”

“‍Yeah, but… look, let’s take a different case. See this coin? I got this from that Slivgren character we killed on our first big mission together. About as nasty a nasty as ever there was, my only regret is we didn’t kill him sooner. But where’d he get the coin? I’d stake my reputation it wasn’t for any sort of honest work. I don’t know… maybe he took it from a troll that crossed him or something. But where’d the troll get it? I mean, maybe we do only kill the nasties and I’m not saying we should just give all their loot back to their partners in crime, but somewhere, at some point down the food chain, all this stuff came from some honest laborer or, worse, slave laborer.‍”

“‍Well, that’s why we try to do good with it, right? Giving honest work to honest folk, buying tools to remove more nasties from play, putting and keeping good people into power.‍”

“‍Yeah, I guess. But sometimes I feel like the rat-snake, you know? Sure I’m hunting and eating rats, and that’s all good, but if I killed all the rats I’d be out a job, right? I mean, I’d be fine, I’ve got enough loot to keep me till old age… but still, what adventurer is motivated to actually fix the real problem?‍”

“‍The real problem?‍”

“‍You don’t fix a rat problem by getting a snake. You fix a rat problem by cleaning up the barn and fixing the silos.‍”

“‍I guess. But isn’t that what I’m doing now? What’s politics it not a tool for cleaning house and reinforcing the defenses? But we still need rat snakes until we finish cleaning up.‍”

“‍Do we? And are we fixing the right problem? I grew up raising goats. Give a goat a bigger fence and it just jumps higher.‍”

“‍Sure, to a point, but there are fences they can’t jump. And if not adventurers and not defenses, then what: surrender?‍”

“‍I don’t know. It’s not like I have all the answers. But isn’t what we really want a world with no nasties at all? That’s the real goal, right: to fix the leak, not bail the ship?‍”

“‍You mean a land with no trolls, no warlocks, no gubhorbles or hags or catoblepii?‍”

“‍Maybe. Or maybe just a world where trolls work in shops and dragons help with the farm chores. A world where constables keep the peace and property is property no matter who owns it.‍”

“‍Wow, you have had too much to drink tonight. That’s just crazy-talk.‍”

“‍I guess you’re right.‍” (pause) “‍I should probably be pushing off; we’re going after some hidden vault tomorrow, looking for the last of the artifacts we need; I should probably be well rested. Thanks for listening to my ranting.‍”

“‍Thank you for dinner. Maybe next time we can complain about my job instead.‍”

“‍I’ll look forward to it.‍”

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