Scent Notes: Subtle moonflower and bright linden blossom dot a forest of dark oakmoss, rosewood and sandalwood. Stumble on a tiny woodland tavern full of adventurers and smoke, incense, tobacco absolute and myrrh. A drop of honey sweetens the story.
Carly and her friends had been huddled around the table in her basement for hours. It was the first chance that allowed all five of them to finally play their campaign in person for many months, and they hadn’t wasted the opportunity. They were gathering at Carly’s house, in the basement, as it allowed them the most privacy, and Carly’s parents didn’t care if her friends were there all day long. And they certainly had been. Carly had gone through many sticks of incense to “set the mood” for the game. Her best friend and older sister, Sammy, was the Dreadful Guide, or DG, of the game, and had requested an atmosphere to match the decrepit, smog-and-smoke-filled forest their characters were traveling through. Many hours had passed; everyone was hopped up on energy drinks and a veritable dragon’s hoard of snacks. The only thing that hadn’t gone to plan was that her lucky set of dice carved from Tiger’s Eye had disappeared from her room. She’d spent hours overturning every single surface, checked completely under her bed, and had emptied out her closet, all to no avail. The set was nowhere to be found. Granted, throwing all of her belongings around hadn’t made her room any dirtier than it had been to start (she was a fifteen-year-old girl, after all), but it certainly did dampen her spirits slightly.
And that bad luck was apparent throughout the early part of the game. She couldn’t roll for crap when they started, and had drowned her sorrows in half a bag of chips and several candy bars. But, over the course of today’s campaign, things had begun to improve. Now, she was leading the charge as the level twelve Laser Lotus she really was, even if her earlier moves hadn’t shown it. “I cast a charm spell, summoning all of the surrounding trees to become my army, defeating the charging swarm of gnomes on ponies, and saving the day!” Carly yelled triumphantly as her friends cheered. Her sister nodded solemnly. “But, oh, adventurers, if only that were the end.” “That’s not the end?!” the other four yelled out simultaneously. “I have to get home soon; we’ve been playing for like 12 straight hours and my mom’s going to be worried,” said Stephanie nervously. Sammy just nodded. “True, so we will stop for today. Plus, my ass has been asleep for like the last three hours while y’all figured out how to defeat the gnomes.” Carly rolled her eyes at her sister. “But do you want to know what happens next?” “Duh!” Carly said, on behalf of the group. “Well, Edison Hawthorne, level twelve Laser Lotus, you have awoken….” Sammy took a deep breath in and held it. She was silent for at least twenty seconds before Carly had had enough and threw a handful of chips at Sammy. “Say it!” “You have awoken THE ELDER NERD!” Carly broke into hysterical laughter as her friends let out gasps of horror. “NOOOO, NOT THE ELDER NERD!” Madison yelled, hiding under a blanket. Stephanie looked horrified, as did Pamela. Their faces had gone pale with fear. Sammy was stoic, enjoying their terrified reactions.
Carly was incredulous. “I’m sorry, what is WRONG with you all? You’re afraid of something called the Elder Nerd? Really? Because, to me, that sounds easier to beat than a swarm of gnomes.” Madison and Stephanie just sat in horror. Pamela finally spoke up. “I’ve heard of the Elder Nerd; they have powers we could only dream of. Rumor has it they’re a level twenty-five Laser Lotus, and they’ve never been defeated.” Carly scoffed. “That’s absolutely impossible and absurd and now our win is ruined by how dumb this ending is. Come on now. The Elder Nerd.”
No sooner had the words escaped her lips when the door to the basement opened, causing all the girls to scream. “Whoa, whoa, it’s just me!” Carly’s mom said. “Ladies, I am so sorry, but I know Carly and Sammy have tests this week, and I’m going to insist that they clean up and go start studying.” The other girls just nodded, grabbed their bags, and mumbled goodbyes as they left. People respected Carly’s mom’s authority in a way Carly didn’t fully understand. She understood just enough to know she wanted to rebel hard against it. “Mom, come on, why did my friends have to leave? We’d just gotten to a great part in the story! And I didn’t even get to play with my Tiger’s Eye dice and I still defeated the swarm of dwarves!” Her mom had been picking up empty bags of chips and candy bar wrappers and was trying to restore order to her basement, but froze at the mention of her daughter defeating the dwarves.
“You. You defeated the dwarves today? Did you make a tree army?” Sammy smirked. “Oh yeah, it took them forever but she finally figured it out.” Carly was puzzled. “How do you know about this stuff, mom?” she asked. Sammy and their mom exchanged glances, and Sammy headed upstairs with a mumble about studying. Her mom turned around and went to follow Sammy up the stairs, her hands full of detritus from the marathon gaming session. “Oh, sweet girl. I know everything.” As she started up the stairs, something fell out of her pocket. Carly walked over and snatched it up, surprised to see it was one of her missing dies. What did that mean? How did … no way … not possible. Was … was her MOM the Elder Nerd?! Carly sat down on the couch, in a daze. Just then, her mom yelled from the top of the stairs. “Yes, I am, and I am commanding you to come study. You can have your dice back after I kick your Aunt Judy’s ass in our campaign tonight. A level twenty-five Laser Lotus never loses.” Carly promptly passed out from shock. Sammy was right: she was officially scared of the Elder Nerd.