Ezlo rolled his shoulders, mentally thanking the gods that he could finally take off his armor. It wasn’t too bad normally, but spending two months in the wilderness clearing out monsters had left it with a very distinct, and not very pleasant, odor. Thankfully, a nights rest, a warm bath and some clean clothes had improved things. He’d ensured his kingdom pretty much ran itself most of the time, so there wasn’t anything in dire need of his attention.
Things had improved in the year since he’d been given the reigns of Evermonde. Not only had he trained most of the population so they would be able to defend the city in an emergency, but he’d also built a decent standing army. Fortunately, the dwarves were being patient, allowing him to ensure their attack on the giants would be fast, hard and clean.
He mentally thought over the events since he’d left home for the monastery. He was a very different man, now. He’d become a paladin, spreading good in the name of Thor. He had joined a group of adventurers, found an ancient weapon, been turned into a mouse (he got better), met with a queen and become a duke.
As he opened the door to his office, he wondered how his visitor would react to that tale.
“Ezlo!” his father cried, “it’s been too long, boy. I’ve spent the last two years trying to find where in blazes you’d run off to. You’d better have got some good stories to tell.” The two men embraced, father and son reuniting after 9 years. I have some stories, indeed, Ezlo thought. He opened his mouth to speak, but his father was already talking again. “This is a nice town. How’d you end up in charge?”
“Oh, now that’s a tale. Take a seat, I’ll have someone get us drinks,” Ezlo chuckled, directing his father to one of the chairs. He stuck his head out the door and asked a servant to fetch drinks, then returned to his father.
He and his companions had returned from their trip about a week ago. They had only felt a few weeks, but months had passed. The “gnolem”, as they’d taken to calling the golem they’d fetched, had been quiescent. It looked like a caricature of a gnome, with a red conical cap, white beard and green jacket. So, the gnome golem became the gnolem.
Unfortunately, Count Grasply had tasked quite a few sages with working out a way to control the gnolem. Ezlo had a strong feeling this would not end well. As he heard distant yelling, rushing feet and the clatter of guards rushing to a fight, he unhappily realized he was correct. Following the guards, he ran from the hallway he had been wandering down to the main hall of the castle. There, he found chaos.
The gnolem had used its gaze attack to turn many people into small woodland creatures - an unpleasant feeling, as he’d found out- and the guards weren’t even bothering it. Seeing the druid standing nearby, he yelled “Liquify the stone underneath it!” and ran forward. The druid, thankfully, had something she could use to accommodate his needs. As he ran, the stone beneath the gnolem turned to mud and it sank slowly.
Ezlo leapt and landed on its shoulders, somehow managing to balance himself, a tall man in full plate armor. It sank quickly, and as its head disappeared beneath the muck, he leapt away and yelled “I got him!” He barely got his feet out before the stone solidified again. He stood slowly and looked around for any authority. Seeing none, he started organizing the unharmed so they could clean up. There was, unfortunately, nothing he could do for those turned into animals.
Searches for the count were unsuccessful, which, oddly, made the people happier. The chefs prepared a feast that night, to celebrate the saving of Evermonde. The feast was heavy on meat, especially rabbit and squirrel. When Borc, the sorcerer, found the count’s insignia ring in his meat, Ezlo realized what- or rather, who- he was eating. Suddenly feeling unwell, he took the ring and retired. The next day, the people of Evermonde decided he was better suited for running the town than anyone else and declared him the duke.
“… and that’s how I became Duke Ezlo of Evermonde.”