The Adventures of King Carl the Squat and Prince Bortimer (Part 1)

King Carl the Squat of Vlaanderen had found himself in an odd situation. A couple of weeks ago he had been living the good life in his palatial residence in his quaint and bustling capital city, Stonebridges. His was a calm and peaceful existence up until he had decided that in order to cement his legacy, he should find himself a suitable wife and begin a family. As a halfling his options were somewhat limited when it came to finding a halfling lady of noble distinction. There was however a lovely young halfling noble in the nearby Archduchy of Maelonbourg and the Wenigzustand. Her name was Duchess Shar Seraphina Thorngage, Duchess of Maelonbourg and Baroness of Serenity.

Quickly after meeting her in person, though, King Carl realized that Serenity was the name of a barony and not an actual state of being. Duchess Seraphina was anything other than serene and her life was packed with more intrigue and danger than a dark elven dynamite factory filled with chain-smoking fire elementals. The lady had invited King Carl to join her and her associates on a small venture into Mort-Vivant and then on to Maelonbourg in order to enjoy the travelling circus that was due to arrive in a few weeks. Since this particular circus had never performed in Vlaanderen, and King Carl was fascinated with how Seraphina might handle whatever trouble they encountered on what would effectively be his first ever quest, he agreed to go and almost immediately regretted it.

The first thing that happened in Mort-Vivant was that Seraphina and her friends, collectively known as “the Troublemakers”, lived up to their moniker and inadvertently unleashed unholy devastation on a town of rogues and bandits. King Carl wasn’t there to witness it thankfully, but the stories that were told made his blood run cold. And to think that these people could laugh about it! What had he gotten himself into? He was understandably worried when they arrived in the capital of the Archduchy of Maelonbourg and the Wenigzustand, the city of Resurrection. He was given a room in the Archduke’s own home but found the guards there to be deeply unsettling. He therefore took a room at the Phoenix Inn, the finest establishment in the area. His accommodations were quite suitable even for a king, and Carl finally began to find a measure of peace.

His neighbor was also a foreign noble. Prince Bortimer von Slothjem, the youngest son of Empress Reichsha, was in town to celebrate the birth of his triplet nephews. As luck would have it one of his sisters was the Archduchess of Maelonbourg and her husband was the ruler of this odd and troubling realm. And while the archduke was one of the above-mentioned Troublemakers it seemed to King Carl that the archduke’s brother-in-law was a man much more his speed. Bortimer was a man of slow movements, easy conversation, and a taste for the finer things to be had in life. It didn’t take long for King Carl to accept Prince Bortimer’s invitations to venture about Resurrection to sample the delicious food and drink that could be acquired. Soon the two men were almost inseparable and could be spotted at every eatery, fine tavern, bakery and butcher shop when they weren’t in the kitchen of the Phoenix Inn preparing themselves the most amazing meals ever tasted in this region.

It shouldn’t therefore have been any surprise then that when Bortimer suggested going on a hunt for mushrooms in the forest northwest of the city that Carl fairly leaped at the chance. Here would be a lovely time outside doing what every halfling enjoyed, looking for something to cook into delicious fare. Bortimer had even purchased a couple of sturdy wicker baskets to tote their fungi treasures in. After a delicious breakfast prepared by their own hands the two men strode slowly yet purposely into the woods whistling a merry little tune. Finally, an adventure that King Carl could really savor. In his mind he began running over a variety of fantastic dishes that would incorporate the mushrooms they would soon be harvesting.