Monday, November 11, 2019

175 - "The Sight of The Forest” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Eddiwarth and Korr walked a bit ahead of the others as the brown, waving grass of the meadow sloped upward toward the crest of yet another rolling hill.

"First one to the top?" Eddiwarth said, sprinting away. Korr followed, and easily overtook Eddiwarth, who paused only a short few paces from the top, hands on his knees and gasping for breath.

"I guess I didn't know... how tired I would get after... walking for so long." Eddiwarth took the last few steps to top the hill. A cold breeze blew across the meadow, tossing his hair and chilling his nose. He gasped at the expansive view before him. "Well, by The Creator, that's amazing!"

"Truly," Korr agreed, "it is beautiful."

Less than a mile ahead of them ran a thick wall of trees as far to the left and the right as they could see. They were of several different varieties, some tall, others shorter, some narrow and straight, others with round canopies of branches. The advancing autumn had left the trees partly bare, but they still carried leaves ablaze in colors from vivid yellow to deep browns and reds. The mid-afternoon sun was baking them all in a tint of gold. The winds pulled leaves from the trees and led them dancing across the meadow.

Eddiwarth spun around and waved to the others below them. "Thissraelle! Karendle! You'll want to see this!"

The two hurried up the hill, leaving Parith leading the two donkeys. His brow furrowed with frustration.

When she got to the top, Thissraelle drew a breath. "What a sight!" She held her hand to her chest. "For years, I looked at this forest way off in the distance from the windows of my tower at the guild hall. Even in the fall, I could see it as a washed blend of brown, and green in the spring. But to see it up close is a wonder.”

Karendle added, “The trees on the western side of the forest, near Dirae and the monastery, aren’t nearly as tall as these, here.”

Parith finally joined them at the top of the ridge. “Here, take this,” he said, and handed the lead line of one of the donkeys to Eddiwarth. He stretched his back. The drake on his shoulders squawked and had to shift position as he moved. “Yeah, you think they’re tall here, but this isn’t even the deep parts of the wood yet. Somewhere near here, probably to the east a bit, is the main road through the forest. Not too far inside, there’s the first waystop. It’s a space to the side of the road with a few shelters built into the trees. I’d like to stay there tonight. If we hurry, and if we find that road soon, I might even have time to hunt up some hares or venison.”

Eddiwarth brightened up. “I’ll start a fire and cook them for us!”

Thissraelle looked at him with her brows up. “When did you learn how to cook?”

“Back at the monastery, on kitchen duty.” He said with a bit of smug confidence. “Though I wouldn’t say I’m any master chef, I’ll do the animal justice.”

Parith moved ahead, leading one of the donkeys. Eddiwarth nudged his burdened beast along behind him. “Is the road clear?”

“It used to be. It hasn’t been used as much recently, since the high elves stopped. Most of the trade with Twynne Rivers happens by barge through the western swamps, now. There will probably be some brush that grew up on the road. It wasn’t too bad last spring when I traveled. You’ll want to watch out for the bladeferns.”

“Bladeferns?” Eddiwarth asked.

“The leaves are really long and have sharp cutting edges. They’ll shred your pants and then your legs. We harvest them very carefully. Our mages use nature powers to harden them and turn them into daggers and knives. They do that with other leaves, too. Or sometimes, an artisan will carve wood and shape it into a sword, a bow, or a spear. They’ll smooth it to a sharp edge and then the mages make it hard, like steel. That’s what we used for all our battles against the high elves.” He glanced back at Thissraelle.

Eddiwarth looked as well. “That would be neat to see! Where’s your sword?” Parith just chuckled in response.

“I like to use my staff when I fight, but I lost it at the cathedral. Maybe while I go through the forest I’ll get a chance to make a new one.”




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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, November 7, 2019

174 - “The Dragonbonded” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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

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A distant scream slashed the dark and echoed through the passages.

From a small lamp, suspended below the ceiling by a bronze chain, shone three oculi. A polished silver hood built above them into the lamp reflected the light down onto Tonklyn's study table, covered in books and scrolls. The light also shone on a soft, high-backed chair sitting in front of the table, but it was turned slightly, as if Tonklyn had pushed it aside while standing.  A large, thickly woven rug with ornate designs covered the stone floor, surrounding a large and shining metal dish in the center of the room. Three large stones sat in the dish, glowing with warmth.

Shrieks of terror and pain sounded again, louder this time.

Across the rug, opposite the table, stood a large bed. Thick velvet drapes hung from the bedposts, surrounding Tonklyn in dark warmth and isolation.

A deep rumbling roar shook its way down into the chamber. It blended with the harsh piercing shrill of more screams.

What is going on up there? Tonklyn raised up, kicked against the tangle of his blankets and his night robe, and parted his curtains. The wails shivered down his nerves like the grinding of a millstone. He stepped to the table and picked up his staff, lighting the oculus on the end.

As he left his room, the air in the passage quickly became cold, and continued to get colder as he got farther from the glowing stones in the bin. The stone floor chilled his feet and he shivered. The few feet of the hallway beyond the illumination of his oculus were cloaked in shadow.

Another roar cut through the cold, and Tonklyn stopped, surprised. It was getting louder, as were the screams that followed. Those died off and bounced down the reverberant stone stairs. Those screams are human voices. What is he doing? 

Tonklyn rushed up the stairs, turned the corner, and froze.

Kirraxal stood in the dim light of the main chamber chandeliers, near the table with the large scroll. The scaly skin on his neck shimmered as it reflected what little light was shining down. Three legs bore his weight and his fourth arm was extended. In his hand, he held someone up. Tonklyn could see that the figure wore the armor and tunic of their new royal guard. The dragon’s eyes stared intently at the man, and his hand shook slightly, as if he were squeezing the soldier in a crushing grasp. The soldier’s arms and legs flopped from side to side, limp and dripping blood.

Tonklyn stood in shock, unable to move. Kirraxal was focused on the body and paid no attention to the sudden shift in the shadows as Tonklyn had entered the room.

Finally, with a growl, Kirraxal loosened his grip, and the crumbled form of the man tumbled from his bloody hands to the floor with a slap. Tonklyn saw two other bodies lying there, equally distorted into inhuman postures. Tonklyn slowly stepped forward into the chamber. He squinted from the brightness of the light of his staff. It cast erie shadows against the walls.

Kirraxal turned to look at Tonklyn, then back at the three bodies lying on the floor before him. As Tonklyn came closer, he noticed that much of the blood on the floor was a dark purple, not just the normal red of the humans. What happened? Did they attack him? He quickly looked up and saw the thick purple liquid dripping from Kirraxal’s fingers and claws.

“You’re hurt!” Tonklyn called out. “Did they think they could attack you? Are there more?”

The dragon muttered. “They did not attack.”

Tonklyn stood back and raised his gaze high up toward the dragon’s face. “Then why were they killed?”

“They are not dead.”

“What?”

Kirraxal dropped his hand to the floor and looked back to the three bodies. “Not completely.”

The purple blood that stained the stones was evaporating into a dark haze that spread over the floor and the bodies. That smoke stirred and shifted, like a sleeping man moving his leg underneath a blanket. Their arms and legs swept under the layer of mist, making an unearthly and haunting scraping on the stone.

Tonklyn watched in morbid fascination. “This is the from the scroll. You’re doing the death ritual you wanted me to translate!”

Without speaking, or looking away, the dragon nodded.

He didn't wait for me to translate it all. He's figured it out on his own. Tonklyn's mind and heart raced.

An elbow flipped above the smoke for a moment, then it lifted up a shoulder. Another body moaned and rolled onto its side and began to rise. It’s broken and twisted torso made crackling sounds as the muscles reknit and the bones slipped back into place. A second man stood up, but fell back to one knee.

Tonklyn's eyes widened, and he turned away, but he couldn’t help but look back at the misshapen bodies. Their skin, once made a bit rough only by short dark hairs or an occasional scar, bunched and twisted until it became a dark scaly leather. Gradually, they stood straight, without stumbling or becoming imbalanced. They looked up to Kirraxal with emotionless worship, like statues of soldiers awaiting orders.

Tonklyn stepped back, his breathing shallow.

Kirraxal spoke first. “They are the dragonbonded. They carry my blood and will serve me with a single-minded loyalty, obeying my every command. They will stop at nothing, fear nothing, and never hesitate. They will fulfill my wishes,” The dragon leered with emphasis at Tonklyn, and then looked back at the soldiers, “without question.”

Okay. Tonklyn took a deeper breath, holding it in. I get the point. I will have to be very careful.

Kirraxal looked at the gash in his palm. It had mostly stopped bleeding. He spun his body around and stepped back to his gigantic bed. His steps were marked by the scraping of his claws on the stone and the splashing of blood. He curled himself onto his mattress and brought his tail around to his chest. “Tomorrow, you will have other servants clean my chambers. Then, they can see what my dark will is capable of.

I see.

"After that, I will give these three their tasks. One will go to find the white dagger and bring it to me. Another will go to find the lineage of this Heathrax that you're warning me about.”

Tonklyn continued backing away, toward the passage back to his own chamber. “And the third?”

“The third will remain,” the dragon huffed, glancing at Tonklyn before laying down his head, “as my guard.”

"Yes, your Majesty"


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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, November 4, 2019

173 - “Planning in the Shadows” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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Tonklyn cut off another thin sliver of the medium rare venison steak on the plate before him. He held it up and examined it in the room’s oculus light. It was perfectly browned and seared, delicately seasoned and drizzled with an tangy berry sauce. He tasted it and savored the richness. Maybe you don’t have to be the King to live like one...

The last few weeks had brought significant changes, since the treasure horde had been found. It had been initially difficult to convince Kirraxal to begin using the gold to strengthen his reign. The dragon had wanted to keep it all close. He began to see, however, the comforts and influence that money can bring. Being the descendant of a demigod and the focus of religious devotion is a wonderful thing, but it only gets you so far. Eventually, some people will have to be paid. 

He took another bite and sighed. ...Like a chef! And servants.

He sat in his chambers, at a table surrounded by books and scrolls. One, most prominently placed where he could see it as he dined, was a very large book, with pages almost as large as a man lying and spreading his arms and legs wide. This one had been found among the gold and relics in the horde. Its pages were of thick heavy fabric and were filled with large glyphs of dragonscript. It was clearly not intended for the use of humans.

On top of one if its open pages lay one of the books that Tonklyn had brought back from the cathedral’s catacombs. This one was also large, at least for a human, but still much smaller than the dragonkind tome. It contained much of the lore and history that the humans had gathered on the dragons, and was helping him to translate and understand the other writings in the horde’s collection.

Kirraxal had demanded that Tonklyn read the great tomes of dragon history to him, but it had been slow, as Tonklyn struggled with the interpretations. As a result, there were still many gaps in the timelines. They were gradually getting through the reigns of the original Dragon Kings. Tonklyn, particularly, wanted to know what it was that caused their eventual decline. How was it that the humans were able to overcome them after so many years of domination?

Kirraxal also learned as they read, grasping the meanings of some of the glyphs quickly. He didn’t, however, have much patience for reading.

A distant bell chime rang, loud and deep. It rang again. Nor, it seems, does he have patience for much else, either.

Tonklyn dropped the fork and stood. He closed and hefted the smaller human-made tome and shifted it into position under his arm. He carefully adjusted his robes, strode into the hallway, and continued up the stairs. As he walked, the bell tolled a third time.

“Yes, yes, I hear it! I’m on my way!” he muttered. Creator’s mercy!

He came to the top of the stairs, rounded a corner, and stepped into Kirraxal’s great chamber. He immediately bowed to his knee, as was his new protocol. “Your Majesty.” Two servants in drab brown robes on either side of the entrance bowed as well, first to Tonklyn, then more deeply to Kirraxal.

The dragon was lying on his bed, with his head snaked upward and his hind legs and tail curled around. The bed was a massive and deep mattress of ornate quiltworks on a stone dais, whose edges were now gilt with polished gold and silver. Ornate chandeliers of oculus stones hung above and would be easily able to light the room like a high noon sun, but Kirraxal always kept them glowing dimly. A large wooden table had been set next to him and an immense scroll was partly unrolled across it.

Has he been reading? This is different.

Kirraxal snorted and harsh smoke wafted across the table. “Have you found anything, or are you just hiding and eating down there?”

“Even your majesty requires sustenance.” I really don’t like talking like this.

“Yes, well, you humans seem to think that getting bigger means a bigger prize.”

Tonklyn breathed deep and steeled himself for a moment, convincing himself to not respond. “I have found some references to this Giatrace Dragonfriend, as you requested. I believe that this is his elvish name. There are a few mentions in human lore, from the time of elder DragonKings, to someone named Heathrax. I gather that at the time, there were some of the dragons that disapproved of the rule of the King, calling him oppressive and a tyrant. They advocated a more... shall we say, interactive rule with the subjects of Wynne. This Heathrax could have been one of the humans they interacted with.”

“Mmm,” The dragon turned his head to look at Tonklyn. “If his descendants still live, they could make it difficult to rouse any dragons remaining in the mountains. We will need those dragons as vassals to overtake the high elves in Emberfire.”

“Your Majesty is beginning to think more strategically, I see.”

“And you are continuing to speak disrespectfully, I see,” Kirraxal snarled. “I still don’t like the waiting. It makes me tense. But, yes, I am seeing some sense in it.”

“Once we find them, many will fly with you with promises of fiefdoms and power. I think that in the spring, things will move much more swiftly. The Khelnar that have infested the forest of Umbramire will be rousing again, and we will be able to manipulate them to harass the wood elves. The dissent and confusion that we are brewing up in Twynne Rivers will also be ripe. Yes. After the winter, it will be the time to strike.”

"Very well. We will be prepared." Kirraxal rolled fully onto his belly and raised his chest quarters. He turned his focus back to his scroll. "Come over here. Can you interpret any of these glyphs?"

Tonklyn hurried over and looked. He had to step up onto the bed dais to see the unrolled sheet and its markings. Some looked familiar, but they seemed to be written with a unique hand. The letters were less rounded and more... harsh. "This one is for 'human', but it's not shaped quite like most other writings. It's also right next to these glyphs meaning 'dragon'. This one has elements of other glyphs. Part reminds me of 'life', or 'blood' or maybe both. This part around it is a distortion of 'death'."

"Very good. I am correct, then. I am flying on the right wing."

Oh! By The Creator! Tonklyn’s eyes grew wide and he hissed in a sharp breath. Or The Destroyer, more likely! Tonklyn's voice became hushed. "This is shadow magic, isn't it? This is deep, deep shadow magic. This is playing with the dead."

"The ancient Kings were wise, weren't they, human?" The dragon spoke with a hint of malice, "I will learn their secrets."



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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