Monday, August 19, 2019

153 - "You Must be Mad” - Shylai’a - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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Shylai’a (shih-LIE-uh) sat in the city square of a neighborhood in the city’s InnerWall quarter. She took a deep breath. She forcefully folded her tense arms with her fingers in fists. She crossed a leg over her knee in an attempt to appear casual, unaffected, but her clenched jaw and bouncing foot belied her real feelings.

A momentary breeze in the hot summer air rustled the leaves in the tree above her but did little to cool her mood. They need City Guards! Ever since the attack, they’ve needed more soldiers in the ranks! They’re actively recruiting skilled fighters instead of just pressing peasants like they usually do! So, why don’t they want me?

She snapped her head back and forth as uninterested people walked the street before her. Some stopped to shop or haggle with street vendors, while others just walked on.

She unfolded her arms and tried to forcibly calm them by rubbing her hands across her skirt of heavy banded leather. Part clothing, part armor, the long, thick slats of hardened leather hung from under her sword belt, and fell draped on either side of her leg, which still had the protection and coverage of heavy cloth underneath. She crossed her arms again, over the coarse blue tunic. I’m as skilled as any swordsman they’ve got! I can guard the city as well as any man. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be allowed to join!

But when she had stepped into the recruiting line, the captain had pulled her out and told her to “go home and play house.” When she’d argued that the city had been attacked and needed more defenders, he had shown her the short line of young men signing up and said, “And here they are! Just pick one and marry him!” The men had all laughed. Some had whistled and yelled, “Marry me, sweetheart!”

Shylai’a swore and stood up with her fists clenched. She stood still, tense, as if looking for something to kick or punch. Marry them? They’re all weak and scrawny mama’s boys! I could’ve taken any one of them in a fight! Finally she just grunted and started walking.

As she paced around the perimeter of the square, she noticed a group of people gathered in a clump. They all seemed to be focused on something in the middle of their circle. They were laughing and shouting, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Some street rat must be doing a funny dance. They’d better all watch their purses.

Shylai’a strode past them, shaking her head.

“...Great doom is coming! Doom!” an old man’s voice croaked out. “Doom shall befall this city with long dark wings and shiny teeth!”

“That happened last month, you old fool!”

“He’s not much of a prophet. He can only say what’s already happened!” The crowd laughed at their taunts. Some began to disperse. Between the bystanders, she caught a glimpse of an older man, standing up on a bench, wearing a dirty gray tunic over his hunched shoulders. He waved a gnarled wooden cane in the air. He was not tall and the sides of his head had long, stringy white hair over his ears and surrounding a sweaty bald spot.

“Snakes creep through the streets. Little ones. BIG ONES! You all must repent! You must find kindness! The Creator decrees it! If the people will abandon their secrecy and their darkness and their hatred and their hiding eyes, the flowers will yet bloom in this city!”

“There are already flowers here!”

“Yeah, it’s summer!”

The old man laughed. “Yes! The flowers will come! Joy will follow! Children will dance!” He jumped from the bench and began to shuffle his feet to imaginary music, holding his cane before him.

The bystanders, suddenly weary of their afternoon’s entertainment, began to go their separate ways. “You, there, friend,” The old man continued, taking a man by the arm. He turned his head one way and the other, looking closely at the bystander’s face. “Don’t you know what day it is? The new wind is sweet like fresh bread!”

Shylai’a found herself smiling at the harmless old man, in spite of her frustration. The bystander shook his arm free with disgust and just a bit of fear and tossed a few copper pieces at the old man’s feet. “Here. Save your preaching for the chapel!”

The old man noticed Shylai’a and stepped toward her, leaning his head far to one side as he looked at her. “Hmmm....”

“What?” she asked, amused.

“You have fish in your eyes...”

“You are a strange old man.”

He nodded, smiling. “Yes, I suppose I am.”


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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Thursday, August 15, 2019

152 - "Where Am I?” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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Thissraelle opened her eyes to darkness.

Surprised, she jerked her gaze all around her, but saw nothing. The last thing she remembered was also darkness. A shiver of fear rolled through her as she looked toward her hands and legs. She was surprised that she could see them. Quite clearly, in fact, as if her body alone were brightly lit from... somewhere?

Am I dead? 

She turned her hands over. They looked real, and she could flex her fingers. She grabbed at her dress. It was a fine, white linen, cut to fit her perfectly. Her delicately worked leather shoes formed beautifully to her ankle. Beyond her feet, again, there was nothing.

I'm falling! She panicked. She kicked her feet and flailed her hands, trying to feel or grab anything solid. Anything to hold on to.

Wait. No. I'm not falling.

She hung in the space, still except for her heavy breathing. I'm not falling.

Where am I? I must be dead.

She looked at her hands again. She grabbed her dress again and rubbed the fabric between her fingers. She ran her fingers through her hair and felt its texture. Do dead people feel things?

She floated for a moment, thinking and looking.

I might be upside-down. That thought made her smile. How would I turn over? Which way is up, anyway?

She slowly reached out to see if she could touch anything in the darkness.

Where's Eddiwarth? And Karendle? They were near me! Are they here, too? Her head and eyes bounced from side to side as she tried to find them.

No. Of course I can't see them. 

She filled her mind with her will, and a light blue haze began to form around her. As the feeling swelled inside, her mind came alive. She pushed herself forward, flying away into the emptiness.

Flying... Where?

She slowed to a... Stop? How can you move if there’s nothing to move to or from? How can you stop if you’re not really moving?

Well, that wasn't so helpful.

As she floated, pondering, confused, a bright and vivid light appeared beside her, startling and momentarily blinding her. She shielded her eyes with her hands. After a moment, her eyes adjusted to see a man in the light, and after a moment more, she recognized the face. He was not in armor like he was last time, but wearing a loose white tunic and leggings.

“Ah. Saint Ivarr.” She mumbled, “so, if this is heaven, it’s a bit underwhelming.”

He shook his head. “Fair Thissraelle, Wizard of Light. This is not heaven. Nor hell.”

“Well, if I were dead, I don’t think I’d be getting visitors, either.”

“You are, in fact, not dead.”

Thissraelle looked away. “So, where am I? It’s very dark here.”

Ivarr gestured with a wave of his hand. “It is as you choose. This is your mind.”

“If this is my mind, I’m not very creative.”

He shrugged. “Well, you ARE still unconscious.”

Thissraelle sighed and rubbed her face with her hand. “I haven’t found Heathrax yet.”

“No, you haven’t.” He drifted around her and faced her. “You have fought for your friends. You have healed and protected strangers.”

Anger and frustration welled up in her, flowing over and rushing out into the darkness. “Why do I need to find him? Heathrax. Who is he anyway? What’s happened to everyone? Why did my father make the Guild attack the Church?” She grabbed his shirt and shook it. “Why? Tell me why?”

He covered her hands in his and gently pulled them away. She released them and he answered, “You have much to learn. Much to learn about the world and yourself.” He let her hands drop, and his brightness started to fade.

“For now, rest.”

In a moment, she was swallowed in darkness again.



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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Monday, August 12, 2019

151 - "Is That Me?” - DeFrantis - A Tale of Heroes

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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My wedding. The sound of those words in DeFrantis’ head sent waves of excitement and confusion shivering through her whole being. She stared at the image of herself in the mirror. It didn't look real to her. Familiar, but not real. She looked... beautiful.

One of the ladies there with her, a plump and cheerful woman who easily had fifteen more winters of age beyond DeFrantis, set a delicate wreath of reeds and flowers over her dark hair. The woman and her friends had been with DeFrantis all morning, dressing her, turning her, combing and braiding her hair, and preparing her for her wedding. Andrina and little Lilia were there as well, sometimes handing things to the ladies, but mostly chasing each other around the room and playing.

My wedding.

"All right! Now stand up and let's have a look!"

DeFrantis stood and the three women spun her around, tugging and tucking the dress, sashes, and the flowers. DeFrantis had never met them before today. They were matrons of the congregation of the Church of Three Lights in Dirae, and Brother Mathezar had sent them to the monastery in the woods to be her attendants on her most special day.

It felt odd to DeFrantis. She was grateful to them, of course, but she would have preferred to have Thissraelle and Karendle there. As she thought of them, she felt the emptiness of missing them. She would have loved to have them helping her prepare, even if they would have been arguing for most of the time. Frankly, between the two of them, they would have ended up with her looking jumbled and confused, like a WinterFest evergreen that had been decorated by too many people. She pictured each of them in her mind. She was worried about them. She’d heard of chaos and battles in Twynne Rivers, and it had been weeks since the group of them left Dirae on Granthurg’s barge.

"Well, what do you think?"

DeFrantis looked in the mirror, transfixed.

Is that me?

Just last spring, she had looked like a drowned street rat, skulking through the heartless alleys of Twynne Rivers in the rain. Then, in that dark night, trapped in the dungeon of the guard tower, she had met Antonerri. Now here she stood, ready to be his bride.

Is that really me? She looked incredulously at the two ladies, and said, "Thank you so much. I don't know what to say!"

They laughed and embraced her. "Please, miss. We should be thanking you!"

"True!” One of the others said, “Since the slavers left town, our children can play without fear. By the Creator, I can actually go to church again!”

The third woman nodded, then added, “They call you the Deliverers of Dirae”. They hugged her one more time, then clapped, giggled, and fussed some more. It all seemed so strange for DeFrantis. Deliverer of Dirae? Is that me? I have an Earned Name? I had always been just DeFrantis. Just a street kid. 

A knock sounded gently on the door. They all froze with anticipation. Even the little girls stopped running. “Ladies?” The heavy door to the room muffled the brother’s hesitant voice, “Everyone is in place. They’re ready for you.”

An excited shiver rushed through DeFrantis’ back. Her pulse quickened a bit. She smiled at her attendant ladies, and they nodded back. “Lilia? Andrina? Are you ready?” The girls nodded, and the attendants straightened the girls’ small dresses and handed them baskets of flowers. DeFrantis drew in a long breath. “Let’s go, then!”

DeFrantis lifted her dress just above her feet, and they walked carefully out of the chamber, down some stairs and into the abbey courtyard. Colorful cloth streamers draped from trees to awnings and waved in the summer breeze. The mid-morning sun was bright and already quite warm. A cluster of brothers stood round the porch of the monastery’s chapel. She could see the Abbott’s mitred head and robed shoulders as he looked out over the monks. His eyes brightened as he saw DeFrantis and the girls approaching.

Some of the monks noticed, too. “They’re coming!” A whisper ran through the huddle. They parted to allow the girls passage to the porch. As they cleared the way, DeFrantis caught sight of Antonerri standing in front of the steps, watching her approach. He wore a long, white cloak over his shoulders, and a plain but smart tunic underneath, with wide sleeves and a finely-made thin leather belt. He straightened tall and tugged at his tunic. It looked less like an adjustment and more like he didn’t know what to do with his hands. He had neatly trimmed his beard for the occasion, and it framed his delighted smile.

Oh, that smile. He struggled so hard to find it. She found herself smiling as well. She took in a deep breath to calm her own heartbeats.

The little girls reached the porch and separated, one to each side as they had rehearsed the day before, to join the other children of the orphanage. DeFrantis stepped up next to Antonerri and he took her hand. He drew her toward him and kissed her forehead. She looked up into his eyes. Suddenly things fell into place, and it all felt real. Of all her life’s mistakes, struggles, and searches, this finally felt right. She was loved. She was home.

Antonerri turned to face the Father Abbott, and she did so as well. She held his hand tight. The Abbott began speaking, giving advice and reading scriptures about marriage and family, but she didn’t hear a word of it. It was a blur. After a bit, he paused, then read them each their questions and vows. Her eyes danced with his as they promised their lives to each other and the Abbott started praying over them in Latin. Then suddenly, she and Antonerri were kissing, laughing, and holding each other tight. The brothers were clapping and cheering, and the bells clanged a cacophony from the tower above. The moment left DeFrantis a bit dizzy. She buried her face into Antonerri’s neck and shoulders and held on, feeling her heart pounding. Lily, Andrina, and the other children rushed to grab a hold of the couple’s legs.

Finally, they relaxed, kissed again, and followed the Father Abbott into the chapel with all of the brothers for their first service of the mass as husband and wife.



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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins