Aventurescence is a story written by Iron Eater. It ran in Issue 70 at http://www.shousetsubangbang.com/mirror/aventurescence/.
There's ghost trouble at a nearby trading post, so two nice young men Naar Rhoan head up to lend a hand. Along the way they meet some ghosts of a different kind.
"You weren't enriching people's lives. You were killing them, the mine, and the whole trading post. This isn't the right way."
It can be, though! You came! You listened! The others, they'd get close enough to hear but then run from me, even when I tried to be so still and quiet, but you! You touched me! You woke me up! Won't you help me help them?
The lantern's glow had always been reflected in Sarouth's jewelry, but now Riaag couldn't shake the feeling that something was subtly different about the light. It felt thicker, warmer, as though it was coagulating in the air like drying wax. "We help people by showing them how to thrive," he said, curtly. "I'm here to help you move on, not help you get whatever the fuck this was going again. You don't get to doom an entire stronghold because of a misunderstanding."
But you're like I am! You should know how it feels! If you could just be brave enough to walk away from His voice we could work together, we could spread the Void that's in me just the way it's in you—Sarouth sloshed sacred oil in front of him in an arc and the voice whimpered. "Do not even start to compare yourself to me, you nihilistic piece of shit."
This story's main characters are not human.
This story is the sixth in the Rhoanish Works series. While the author recommends reading the stories in order of publication (in no small part due to increased writing ability and familiarity with the characters), it has been intentionally written so new readers can jump right in if they so desire.
The setting itself is very loosely based on the freeware game Dungeon Crawl: Stone Soup.
Some background information for this story was developed during an "Orctober" art challenge, the results of which may be viewed on the creator's Tumblr. While the provided tag is work-safe, venturing outside of #orctober or #orctober-2017 may not be safe for the workplace.
This year I learned that I absolutely need to set myself a word limit or, much like a slime mold, I will expand to fill the perceived space. I actually finished the first draft of this monster with sufficient time for Sparklebeard to read it; at 62,000+ words, I am eternally grateful for his swift and observant feedback, which among other things helped one scene better integrate into the narrative so it feels far less vestigial. About a quarter of its total length was written in a two-day period. I do not advise doing this if you have literally any other option.
My primary goal for this story was "the fellas go on vacation and talk out their relationship, also Riaag tries a new sex thing." This later expanded into taking a look at why Sarouth is just so incredibly bad at relationships, how he's changed as a person, and the growth he still has to do; the entire business with the haunted mine came very late in the game. I wanted there to be some context for readers who haven't necessarily committed the five(!) previous stories to heart to be able to care about these characters and get a feel for who they are.
I had a veritable laundry list of talking points to get through this year and I think I hit every single one. Previous stories have slowly shown Sarouth to be a more flawed man than a perfect divine being; establishing some of where he came from for the reader felt like an organic way to explain some of what ails him. Originally my notes suggested a slightly more cut-and-dry resolution to his trouble with his old band, but Riaag's approach of "fuck those people, honestly" felt much more true to the characters. I think it also makes the underlying message of self-forgiveness more powerful since it's established as something that isn't necessarily owed to people who've hurt you in the past, even if they thought it was for the right reasons.
We hadn't seen a "heretic" (by any other name) since The Stones' Earthen Grasp. Sticking one in the mine felt like a good reason for why things went so badly. Once I decided to include a mine in the story (probably inspired by listening to certain music too much) I had to figure out why it was haunted. "Dug too greedily and too deep" didn't feel right, so the heretic and their suicide cult, once I knew they were a thing, was a tidy solution.
Any named recipe that Riaag makes is based on actual Mongolian cooking techniques. Some adjustments needed to be made (they don't have potatoes, certain spices, etc.) but I think the results turned out pretty tasty! The Rhoanish dinner table takes from a wide variety of regions but I tend to go for steppe people first whenever I can.
The Leopard's Breath Company is, indeed, an adventuring party of sorts, and while it's correct to assume they mostly exist to set up future story threads I've wanted to have the fellas end up as somebody else's random encounter for ages now. Their questfinder got broken! That's very unfortunate. The group's name is taken from how supposedly the sweet breath of a leopard could put a dragon to sleep. Whether there are dragons in this setting, or if, like manticores, they're considered myths, is left as an exercise to the reader.
The objects depicted in the illustrations are, for Riaag, a saucepan, garlic, peppercorns, a whisk broom, and soap cakes; for Sarouth they are a wool-laden distaff and a drop spindle with thread. The design of Sarouth's staff has also changed again, presumably as a reflection of new materials he's found to better reflect who he is. The central disc is made from an agate slice with holes drilled all around the edges for support thongs, while the tusks are probably saber-tooth teeth. Readers of previous stories might note the significance of the latter.
Yes, that herringbone pattern from the title and end cards really does take forever, but it looks so nice, doesn't it?