Pat just chuckled as the two continued arguing, then, looking off into the woods, with no source of light except for the fireball floating three feet off of the ground, Pock noticed a sudden stop in the foliage. He stood up and cautiously walked over to the stop, and moved just close enough to notice a cliff overlooking a large plain. He quickly returned to the fireball, almost tripping over his robe.

“Guys!” Pock shouted at his arguing companions.

Anon glared back at him, “Stay out of this, Pock!” The gnome was unchanged. He continued, “We’re on a cliff.”

The other two stopped arguing.

“This is ridiculous.” Dekes muttered as he wandered in a circle. He rolled back his shoulders, shuffling his wild armor, decorated with large foliage. Slumped against a tree was his partner, who went by the nickname, “Pincushion.” He was enjoying the shade as the sun rose. The sun was hardly over the horizon, and it was already hot outside, and anyone could forecast that the day was going to be as hot and dry as just about every other summer day.

Contrary to Dekes, an immortal Elf with brown hair, piercing green eyes, pointed ears, and a smooth, attractive face, Pincushion refused to show his face. At all times he wore his shimmering silver armor, a replica of an ancient design. The armor was fantastic. The angled visor had three horizontal slits, and large horn-like spines protruding out of the crown, curling off of the back of Pincushion’s head. The armor was sharp and angular. It amplified Pincushion’s large, muscular form with thick interlocking plates of steel. On his right shoulder, a large L-shaped blade shot out, with a smaller cousin below it. The gauntlets had similar blades built in, as did the greaves. Pincushion himself admitted he was human at a time, but says little more about what he looks like under the armor, or why he calls himself “Pincushion”.

“You would think that they would let two nobles coming to this cursed city on a mission skip the hundreds and hundreds of refugees.” Pincushion said. His accent hinted at a rich uprising and a spoiled childhood, but both Dekes and Pincushion knew that that life was long behind the knight.

Dekes was slow to respond. “Our mission is our own, and it is to achieve selfish ends. You would rather prolong the waiting of disparaged refugees than simply wait your turn?”

Pincushion pondered his friend’s words of wisdom, and responded in his usual smart-ass way. “Well, after waiting in line for one month, two weeks, four days and seventeen hours, yes, yes I would.”

“Look, over there on the cliffs!” Dekes said with a hint of exitement in his calm, collective voice. He stopped his wandering and pointed off in the distance.

Pincushion rolled his eyes under his visor and sighed. “I don’t see anything.”

“Two humanoids are climbing down the face of the rock. One of them is probably human, the other is either gnome or halfling.” Dekes observed. “A third one sits atop the cliff, holding the rope for his companions.” He continued.

“So?” Pincushion asked indifferently.

“They can help us. We should help them.” Dekes calmly explained.

Pincushion reluctantly dug around in the tall grass, and quickly located his long spear. He slowly climbed to his feet and slung the weapon over his back. He stretched for a moment, and shook his head, sighing.

“Lets just go help these idiots and be done with it.” He droned.

Dekes, in a single elegant motion, swooped down to the ground and came up bearing his backpack. The quiver, assorted swords and knives, and longbow cluttered as he hefted the pack and set out towards the cliff. It was close enough to be there in minutes, but far enough away to make Pincushion hesitate about leaving the shade. It got very hot in his armor very quickly, and having to move in the heat only made it worse for him.

As expected, they arrived in minutes. The hikers were only halfway down the cliff, and the sun had just begun to illuminate the plains as the new day began. Pincushion, upon seeing the situation himself, almost laughed. Dangling from the cliff were a half-elf and a gnome, both of them in clothing too elegant for refugees, clinging to a tensing hempen rope for dear life as they struggle to find a foothold on the cliff.

“It would be faster if you fell!” Pincushion shouted to them.

Anon heard the voice making fun of him and Pock as they unsuccessfully tried to shimmy down the rope. The only foothold he could find was Pock’s face, directly below him, a sad truth that the gnome was not happy about. He heard the same voice laughing at his own joke as the two continued their desperate struggle to descend from the cliff.

“Listen, sir, ” Anon politely interrupted the laughter of the stranger. “If you are just here to make fun of us, please leave.”

“We’ll kick your ass!” Pock shouted from below. The high voice threw Pincushion into even more laughter, but Dekes subtly kicked him.

“We’re here to help.” Dekes shouted to the dangling duo. Anon could tell that the other stranger was an elf. Anon and Pat always disliked being around full elves. They felt like they had something to prove. Now, he was failing to climb down a cliff that this elf could probably descend from in a graceful and efficient way, quite unlike himself. Pock looked below him and finally decided that he was low enough to drop from safely, about ten feet off the ground. He let go of the rope and landed on his hands and knees a few feet below amidst an uncomfortable mix of tall grass and large rocks. He stood up and dusted himself off as Anon prepared to do the same. He stepped out of the way as Anon slid down the rope until he reached the end, at which point he crumpled to the ground, sending up a cloud of dust and dirt. Anon, wincing in slight pain, stood up and brushed the small rocks and dirt off of his red robes.

Pincushion and Dekes watched as the two awkwardly stumbled over to them. The second half-elf tied the rope to a tree and tried to slide down, a plan that ultimately failed, and had him crunching to the ground painfully.

“I’m okay…” He coughed as he stood up, slightly bruised.

Dekes commented on their climb, “You three aren’t exactly the athletic type, are you?”

“Not really.” Pat replied through clenched teeth, trying to walk off the pain of his landing.

“So…What exactly are you really doing here?” Anon asked, thinking about Dekes’ claim of not being there to make fun of the trio.

“We, well, kind of need some assistance getting into the city over there.” Pincushion admitted.

“What’s the problem?” Asked Pock. “You can’t open a door?”

“No.” Dekes calmly responded. “Something is going on in the countryside. Hundreds, maybe thousands of refugees are flocking to this city, Hellsport…”

“…And you know you have problems when refugees go to a city named Hellsport.” Pincushion interjected.

Dekes flashed Pincushion a glare and continued, “Adventurers such as the two of us have also been attracted to the city. Lots of people means lots of job opportunities.”

Anon pondered this for a moment. “Wait- If you two are adventurers, why do you need help from three apprentices like us?”

Pincushion answered. “They have separate lines for differently sized groups. The longest lines are groups of four or less; most refugees are small families who could escape unnoticed, couples, sole survivors, or trios of students such as yourselves. The line for groups of five to eight consist of mostly large parties of adventurers, and larger families. The line is much shorter. If you three come with us, we can qualify for the five to eight line, and get into the city within a week-”

Pat cut him off. “A week? How long is the wait for the four-or-less line?”

“Well, we’ve been waiting here for over a month, and we came in the earlier waves of refugees.” Dekes estimated.

Anon spoke for himself and his companions. “Let’s go get into the five-to-eight line, then…”

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