It’s not Tuesday, but I wanted to put up a Darwin teaser to get people ready for more down the road. A while back, I did his first appearance, which was a little goofy. This is a better look at how he starts out. As you can tell, Darwin isn’t exactly bounding into adventure with excitement and has some issues with change. Need to decide if I want to show him using his first spell here as well. It isn’t like it’s a secret that he’s going to have magic at some point.
The pony stomps its foot and stares at Darwin, who is quietly sitting in the wagon with the reins held loosely in his hands. Thinking the animal wants him to leave, he slips out of the seat and places the straps on a small hook. A loud snort draws his attention to a large basket of carrots and he takes one for himself. The moment he takes a bite, the pony spits at his boots and tenses its muscles in preparation of kicking him if he gets within range. Realizing his mistake, Darwin rummages through a second basket to pull out an apple and hurries to give their ride a snack. A few of the gathered halflings laugh behind their hands at the befuddled expression on the animal’s face before it accepts the offer. A small whinny and whip of its tail shows it is happy once more. Proud of his victory, Darwin lifts himself onto his and walks away from the wagon while chewing on the carrot. Stopping next to Arlinger, he grins at Mayor Shellup and swiftly imitates his cousin’s stance.
“Where are my parents?” Darwin asks, his happy expression abruptly changing to one of worry. He hurries to the wagon and climbs onto the crates to scan the crowd, but he cannot see anyone from his family. “They told us to go ahead while they finish work. I thought they were going to say good-bye. I haven’t said good-bye yet. We can’t leave until I say good-bye to my parents and sisters and brothers and grandfather and the cows. That’s bad manners and rude and disrespectful. Right, Arlinger? You feel the same way.”
“I do, but I don’t think we can wait,” the blonde halfling answers with a sigh. He watches the mayor while tightening the straps of his buckler and adjusting the dented shortsword on his belt. “You said this food has to reach Soltis in two days, which means we have to leave now. The pony is going to get tired pretty quickly with all of those crates, so we’re going to have to make plenty of stops along the way. The village is depending on us to get this job right. Besides, we said good-bye when we left the house, Darwin.”
“That was regular good-bye. Not long-time good-bye,” he says while bouncing on his toes. He jumps to the ground and falls on his face, which gives several villagers an excuse to turn away and hide the shame in their eyes. “This isn’t fair. I know Goldmeadow needs us to do this because everyone else is busy. I want to help, but I want to say good-bye. That’s what people are supposed to do when they go away. Otherwise, they might not come back and everyone will be sad that they didn’t get that thing my parents told me about. Kind of like when you shut a door and feel satisfied . . . Closure!”
Mayor Shellup hands Darwin the map and gives the younger halfling’s shoulder a tight squeeze in the hopes of calming him down. “I know this is difficult since neither of you have ever left the village, but we need your help. Urian Coy has promised us valuable seeds in exchange for food. With his payment, we can set up new farms and improve our chances of surviving the harsh months. Think of this as an adventure, so you can return to tell your family and friends stories of your time away. You enjoy stories, Darwin. You’ve loved those since you were a small child. Now, you can be the hero in the tales we all share.”
“I don’t want to be a hero who doesn’t say good-bye,” Darwin whimpers before he trudges back to the wagon.