Monday, April 6, 2020

213 - “The Dragons Stir” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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“The dragons stir.” Thissraelle said, sitting on another floating rock. This one was significantly bigger than the others they had been on, with a large flat space some thirty feet across. It was mostly a deep red, but had veins of green and black running through it. “That’s my message for you. I have no idea what it means, but I would really like to know. That’s just what I was told to tell you.”

Heathrax hummed deep in his throat and nodded. He floated in The Vast just a few steps away from the rest of the group, who all relaxed in a semi-circle next to Thissraelle on the stone. Eddiwarth had used his power to start a fire in the middle, more for relaxation and emotional comfort than for warmth or cooking. Thissraelle’s father had retrieved some food from Emberfire, back in The Great Reality, breads and fruits, and it was all spread out at their feet on cloths between each of them and the fire.

“Jaxil?” The old dragon wheezed, “What do you think?”

“It probably has something to do with the Dragon’s Flame.”

“Are they still around?”

“Apparently, and becoming more active.”

Thissraelle interrupted. “Yeah, just who is this Dragon’s Flame group?”

Her father said, “They’re a strange cult that--”

“--that worships dragons, I know that, but who ARE they? Where did they come from? What do they want?”

“Shall I tell you the short version? Or the full story?” Heathrax looked at her with what might have been the draconic equivalent of a smirk.

Thissraelle leaned back, tucked her chin, and raised her brows. “Well, I don’t think we’re going anywhere anytime soon, and time doesn’t matter out here, anyway, so...”

Heathrax growled a chuckle out of his throat, then he coughed. “Excuse me, I’m very old, and not fully well.” he said. “About 400 years ago, when I was a much younger dragon, we ruled the land of Wynne. You’ve probably heard of that time. The great Dragon Kings lived in the western mountains and ruled all of the land. Most of the records of the dragons note that it was a time of great civilization and great learning. Dragons were everywhere.

“Some of us, however, began to feel that using our power and strength to dominate the humans, elves, dwarves, giants, and everyone, was not right. There was a philosophical movement among the dragons toward hominid self-determination and liberty. Since we, as dragons of the ruling class, enjoyed freedom to share our thoughts, even though the people did not, some of us began to speak out. The debate at times became heated, and there were some clashes. At first, they were just clashes of words, but they soon escalated.”

Thissraelle nodded. “Is that why you’re called the DragonFriend?”

“Yes.” Heathrax got a deep, almost nostalgic look on his face. “The elves of the forest first called me that. I rather liked that name.”

“When we were first looking for you, I assumed that it was the name of a man who was a friend to dragons, not the other way around.”

Heathrax smiled and continued, “There were some among the people that were loyal to the dragon kings. For some reason that I will never understand, they believed we were ordained to rule all, by the Creator himself. Then, they took it even further, implying that the Creator had made us dragons to be deities from the beginning, and that since our ancestors had even helped create the world, according to the legends, we should be worshipped.

“Unfortunately, some of us rather liked being worshipped. I always found it oddly awkward.” Heathrax shook his head sadly. “Anyway. Other groups of the people did not believe us to be gods, and instead wanted to overthrow the rule of the dragons. They bounded together into armies and tried to fight, but between the dragons themselves, and the loyalist armies, there was little hope for them. Just a lot of blood. Some dragons were killed, but it was mostly the blood of people, I’m afraid.”

After a moment’s pause, Thissraelle encouraged, “So, how did the reign of the Dragon Kings end? Did you eventually convince the others to allow the people to be free?” She had never really been interested in historical things before, but now found herself fascinated. Granthurg would be loving this talk!

“Oh, no! That was a bizarre twist of fate. Soon after the wars, the dragons were struck with a pox, a disease. It ran through our populace like a grass fire through a meadow. It ravaged us, killing most. Easily two out of every three dragons succumbed. Magic couldn’t cure it, and none of us knew any arts of natural healing. Most of those left were sickly and weak. That was my fate. That is why I still breathe and talk like I do.”

“People in the cities sensed that our rule was weakening, and formed their armies with renewed excitement. What remained of us after the pox were killed or driven from our holds and palaces, scattered away. I flew here to the Emberfire mountains, along with a few others, to establish ourselves in hiding. It was easy enough to do. These mountains are difficult to climb. Others left the land of Wynne entirely.”

Eddiwarth asked, “Are you still dying off?”

“Oh, no. The pox is over. But we are few, and very solitary. Once a year or two we might fly to find a mate and have a small clutch of eggs, but as a group, we have no leader, no society, no way of knowing how many of those hatchlings survive.”

Jaxil picked up the story. “After defeating the dragons, the people fought among themselves for a time, until the Mage kings of the high elves established order and civilization again.”

Parith and Thissraelle exchanged saddened glances.

“So,” Jaxil continued, “the logical conclusion here is that some descendant of one of the old dragons has raised its head, begun to rally the old cult, and stir up trouble. It has happened before.”

Karendle swallowed a bite of bread. “Does this have anything to do with Granthurg and that dagger?”

Heathrax’s head turned quickly, startling Eddiwarth. He dropped his cup with a clatter. Heathrax whispered, “A dagger?”

“Yeah.” Karende went on between bites, “It was short, white, curved, and had a lot of carvings. There was a dragon design cast into the pommel. He said everyone was trying to get it from him.”

The great dragon drew in a breath in wonder. “Yes, in fact, it does have much to do with that. Does he still have it?”

Karendle looked at Thissraelle. “Yeah, I guess so. What is it?”

“It’s a relic I, actually, had hoped had been lost. It was made by human mages in the early days of the uprising, from the tooth of a slain dragon.” Everyone went quiet. “It was legendary, and, after the great pox, helped the humans to kill many dragons. That was its only power, to kill dragons.”

“So, if you happen to worship dragons...” Thissraelle began.

Heathrax inserted, “or if you ARE a dragon...”

“It would be very good to have it in your control.”



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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, April 2, 2020

212 - “Striking Power” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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“Slow, steady breathing. Steady.”

Slow. Steady.

Korr stood on the ridge of the mountain, his feet in a solid square stance. He took in a breath, but the cold and the thinness of the air made that difficult. He looked out across the deep valley floor below. It showed the expanse of Umbrawood, but it was much further beneath him than it had been before. He shifted his feet in the snow through a few forms. He set his arms at his side, his fists turned wrist-up. His eyes were closed. The frigid wind blew past him, billowing his shirt. He tried to ignore the cold.

“Now, shape the sun,” the dragon’s deep and airy voice said to him.

Korr took in another freezing breath and opened his hands. He slowly moved them to a place before his torso, one low, turned upward, and the other above it, palm down.

Shape the sun.

Beside him, Heathrax floated, his long tendrils flowing in the wind. His long tail shifted back and forth, many dozens of feet behind them. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth had come out of The Vast with Korr and stood on his other side, also several paces back, so as not to be a distraction in the lesson.

“Good. Now breathe your will into the su—.” The dragon’s voice choked on the word.

Korr slowly exhaled.

Is it there? I’m not sure if I’m feeling it.

When he was out of breath, he paused, then hung his head and broke his stance with a gasp.

Immediately, Heathrax turned his head away and coughed out in a few loud and deep raspy huffs. “I’m sorry. I tried to hold that in, to not distract you. Try again.”

It’s not the dragon’s fault. I can’t find my will.

He held his arms and shook his feet in the snow, then reset them into his stance. He blew misty fog from his mouth a few times and glanced over at his friends, who just nodded encouragement.

He looked at Heathrax, who nodded. “Set your stance again. Shape the sun, then find your will.”

Korr followed the instructions. He closed his eyes and dropped his mind into the space between his hands.

“Maan Korr, find your will.” Heathrax whispered. “It is your will you must find. Not your Master’s, not mine, not your friends’. You have served everyone else well, but this must be for you. It must be your will. Do you want it?”

I want this. I want to learn it. I want to have it.

He felt a warmth form in his chest.

Yes. I want this. I must learn this. It is my will.

The feeling grew inside him, a warmth deep within. He willed it to flow through his hands and coalesce into the space he’d shaped between his palms. Power and heat formed there, in a small spinning ball of energy. It grew and whirled more fiercely as he channeled more and more will into it.

“Yes. Good. Are you ready?” Heathrax asked with calm.

Korr dropped his right foot back, bending his knees and turning his shoulders and torso to the side. He opened his determined eyes and focused them on a large snowy rock outcropping a short distance along the windy ridge.

He leaned into his forward leg. With a twist of his hips and shoulders he thrust the palms of his hands straight out, throwing the ball of striking power straight at the stone. It hit and exploded, shattering the upper half of the stone into tiny pebbles and a few larger chunks that fell all around them, making impressions in the new fallen snow.

“By the Creator!” Eddiwarth shouted. Thissraelle shrieked and clapped with excitement.

Korr breathed calmly and returned to a resting stance. He turned to Heathrax and bowed. The dragon returned the gesture.

As Korr looked down, he saw one of the broken stones in the snow at his feet. He picked it up and inspected it. It had several fractured facets, delineated by sharp jagged edges. He smiled in satisfaction and closed his fingers around the stone. He was suddenly aware of the cold again, and shivered.

He was almost knocked off balance by Thissraelle grabbing him and hugging him from behind.



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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, March 30, 2020

211 - “Here With Friends” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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Where did Thissraelle go?

Karendle paced around a tiny, almost round worldlet as it twirled slowly in the vast. It was rocky and uneven, floating nearby to the main stone platform that they had appeared on when they had all first stepped through Heathrax’s portal. There were a lot of these floating chunks of stone all over, and Karendle suspected that they had been gathered there, or created in place more likely, by Heathrax.

Where is she? She was really upset when the fight ended. Then she just flew off.

I get it. By the Creator, those first two dragons were huge. I thought we were all dead. Then she had to deal with her father.

Karendle thought about the first time Thissraelle had talked about her life before they’d met. That night had been back in their dormitory room at the monastery, with DeFrantis. Thissraelle and DeFrantis had giggled and talked like sisters. Karendle had been a little distant, like a neighbor girl that wasn’t quite in the club. It had been strange to hear Thissraelle’s story, though. She’d had it pretty posh there as the daughter of the Twynne Rivers Wizard’s Guildmaster. Karendle had wondered why she’d left that life. Of course, my life in the mountains with my family wasn’t too bad, either. Not as nice as hers, but not bad. But I left it, too. I guess you just have to get out on your own. We really had a lot in common, considering how different we are. 

 I was such a jerk to her, then.

The sight of someone else’s feet in her downturned field of vision startled her, and she stopped walking. Parith was walking around the rock from the other side.

Karendle smiled, “You’re on your feet! You look like you’re doing much better.”

“Yeah. I’m still a bit stiff, though.”

“Well, considering that just a few hours ago, you were almost broken in two, I think you’re in fine shape.”

He smiled back. “Was it just a few hours ago?”

Karendle stepped aside and sat down on a nearby bump of rock. She gestured to Parith, but he shook his hand, saying, “It’s good. For now, I like being able to stand. How’s Thissraelle?”

“Don’t know. She went off alone. Eddiwarth went to look for her, and her father did, too. I should probably go back her up, but... Oh, I don’t know, she's pretty upset.”

“She’s lucky to have a friend like you.”

Karendle laughed and dropped her head.

Parith pressed, “No, seriously. I’ve seen you fight for her. You’re relentless. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of loyalty.”

“Really?” She set her head to one side. “Never seen it? What about you? Weren’t you right there, sticking arrows in the dragon? What was that for? It was all for her.” She paused, “And she would do the same for us.”

“You think so? She and I fought quite a bit in the forest.”

“Yeah, well, she and I fought a lot before the cathedral, too. But she came looking for me. She fought for Eddiwarth, and she also helped you fight off the high elves.”

“True. And in the end, saved my life.”

A peaceful silence settled between them.

Finally Parith broke the silence. “These last few months have really changed me. I’ve always worked alone, guiding all the traders back and forth through the forest. I was by myself in the city until I met Korr, then the rest of you. I’ve never been a part of something like this. Heathrax’s Heroes!” He laughed, “It feels strange, and good.”

He took a deep breath and shifted his feet. “It was weird. I was at home in TreeHaven, but I didn’t feel like it. Even when the captains let me visit my family. They asked me to stay there with them, but I felt a pull to follow Korr and the rest of you.”

“Yeah. I know it,” Karendle agreed. “I keep feeling like, at some point, we’ll figure out what’s going on beyond us, though. What’s with the dragons, right? I have this sense that something is happening out in the bigger world and we’re just walking right past it.”

“Or maybe I just want to watch Eddiwarth embarrass himself trying to impress Thissraelle more.”

Karendle laughed and leaned back. Suddenly her thought jumped to her voice. “Hey, where’s the little drake?”

Parith took a sharp breath and looked away.

What? What did I say? Wait... Did the dragon...? “Oh, no! No. I didn’t see...”

Parith just nodded.

“I am so sorry...”

Parith shrugged. Or was that his shoulders shaking? Karendle jumped up and embraced him.

“I’m so sorry...”


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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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Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins