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.”


<<<>>>



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.



<<<>>>



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.



<<<>>>



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 8, 2019

150 - "Searching” - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Interludes


Granthurg stepped with a slight limp down the pier to his barge. It was very early in the morning, still dark. He breathed in the familiar stale smells of the river. He’d not been to his barge except for a few times in the three weeks since the fight in the chapel, partly for practical reasons and partly out of fear. Life in Twynne Rivers had definitely changed. And not for the better.

After dredging himself out of the river that night, he’d collapsed, half dead, on the bank. The following morning he’d shambled through alleys and side streets to get to the RiverFront quarter and the Old Steersman Inn. The steady rains still kept most people inside. Along the way, he’d passed the burned out ruins of the Grand Cathedral. It was surrounded by City Guardsmen, and there was no sign of Thissraelle, Karendle, or Eddiwarth. They were still sorting through the damage, but nobody remembered seeing a young elven girl, or a half-dwarf in the thick of the fight. The good news was that they weren’t among the recovered bodies, either, at least not yet.

He hadn’t stayed there long, weakened by the loss of blood. When he finally arrived at the kitchen entrance to the Old Steersman, the innkeeper rushed him upstairs to his room, where Granthurg spent the next week and a half lying under sweaty sheets, fighting off the fever from the infection in his leg.

He’d called out for Thissraelle, but the innkeeper just said they couldn’t find any magical healers. The inn staff kept changing his bandages and bringing him herbal treatments. Finally, as he had rested, his fever had broken, and he had begun healing.

As he walked along the pier he glanced back up at the quay of the RiverFront, looking for... Anyone. He wasn’t sure who might be there, but he wanted to be sure he’d not been followed. He felt the white dagger against his ankle in his boot. It felt safer having it to weild, but, considering how many wanted it, he was also vulnerable carrying it at all. He stepped down onto the deck and untied the bow lines securing the barge to the dock. He began to slowly walk aft, inspecting the barge as he moved.

About a week ago, once he had healed sufficiently, he’d come here to make sure it was secure. The storm had scattered several of the tarps, but otherwise, it had been well. He’d suspected that a few of the cargo crates had been either stolen, searched, or both. He didn’t really care if they had. That was the least of his worries. He’d squared those that remained all shipshape and tied them down again. Now, as he walked the deck, they looked to be all still in place.

His mind drifted. Memories of the past months came to him. Memories of running the river with Rinkmorr. Memories of defending the barge against what he’d thought were river pirates, then those that were after the white-bladed dagger. The dagger that Rinkmorr had left with him. The dagger that Rinkmorr had been killed for. Memories of new friends all fighting to defend Thissraelle.

Thissraelle.

His brow furrowed with worry. He untied the starboard stern line, and stepped up onto the steering platform. He’d never had a friend like Thissraelle. In just a few months, they had connected to each other like they had been friends their whole lives, like she was his little sister. A VERY little sister, to a giant like me!

I can’t let myself believe she’s gone. There were no bodies.

She had to have survived the attack, somehow. They’d gotten through battles together, before, and Granthurg knew how strong she could be. He couldn’t accept the idea that she hadn’t survived.

However, the two weeks he’d spent searching for her had turned up nothing.

It hadn’t been easy to search, either. The Church pulled all of their Holy Guard from other posts to stand and protect the burned out shell of the Cathedral, and no one was allowed onto the site. Somehow, thieves and looters still managed to scavenge the ruins, making off with gold and oculi. The leadership of the Church was nowhere to be seen. Many said the councils were killed off, and others said they were all in hiding. When Granthurg had first became well enough to leave the Old Steersman, there were still angry mobs shouting outside the Wizard’s Guild, clamoring for vengeance from the King. The Royal Guard stood watch, but did nothing to stop them, nor to calm them. Finally, the Royal Guard and the City Guard together raided the Guild Hall, and arrested what few wizards remained there. Mages of the Guild were never very common in the streets of the city, but since the attack, they’re not seen at all.

Granthurg himself was in fear. He didn’t know who knew about the blade, nor why they wanted it. But someone knew he had it, and they would eagerly kill him to get it. He he didn’t want to be seen by them, and didn’t want to lead them to his friends, once he did find them. He’d gone out, mostly by night and early morning, to try and find Thissraelle, Eddiwarth, or Karendle. He’d checked in on his barge, but never saw them there. He’d asked at the Inn they had chosen, and in the streets nearby, but nobody had seen them since the attack. It was like they had vanished.

Where do I go, now? His mind’s eye pictured Antonerri and DeFrantis romping with the kids of the orphanage. They would want to know what happened. But what if the men who want the dagger follow me there? We’re only starting to see the reach of the Dragon’s Flame. 

Granthurg untied the port stern line, setting the barge fully free of the pier. It was his boat, now. Debt-free and beholden to no one. He had no obligations and no commitments. Only questions.

So why don’t I feel free?

He also had no direction and no friends. He had almost no hope of seeing them again. He stepped back onto the steering platform and lifted the hatch over the oculus, half expecting it to have been stolen as well. But the latch was locked, and the stone intact. He held his hand out above it, closed his eyes, and searched deep in his being for the will to go on. His face burned and his eyes watered as he’d remembered learning this step from Thissraelle. Slowly, he felt it swell inside him, and heard the water churn underneath him. The boat began to move backward, out of the berth, and away from the dock.

Where do I go, now? I need to get far away. I need to escape, to think things through, to find some answers.

After clearing the docks, and moving into the center of the river, he turned the barge to the Lesser Wynne, the southern fork, then westward, toward the Graemal Mountains.

I’ll go home.


<<<>>>



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 5, 2019

149 - "Wizards and Dragons” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

A deep man’s voice echoed through the Grand Cathedral. “BEAST OF THE DESTROYER, YOU WILL NOT PREVAIL!”

What’s that? Thissraelle stood, leaning against Karendle's newly formed rock wall. It was quite warm from the fires that had just been spit all over the other side. She carefully raised her eyes above the jagged edge of the rock. The horrific muck retched from the innards of the drake continued to burn all around her. Other things in the hallway, rugs and tapestries, were now also burning, making it difficult to see.

“Stay down!” Eddiwarth warned.

“What do you see?” Karendle added.

A bright light shone from the air in the center of the nave. Its brightness cut through the flames and smoke, casting the drake and the balcony structures into harsh silhouette. In the midst of the light floated the form of a man wearing long white robes. He held a staff in his hands, with an oculus at the head. The huge stone was radiant with brilliant white light. That’s the priest! The drake twisted its head around to face him, and it shrieked.

“NOW YOU DIE!” The priest extended his hand, raising the staff over his head. A shaft of white shot from the stone and hit the drake’s torso, driving fully through it and exploding into the edge of the balcony. The crack of the strike echoed through the vaulted ceilings and sent pieces of shattered rock and drake flying down the hallway. Thissraelle hid her eyes from the blinding flash and ducked back behind the wall. Karendle, Eddiwarth, and the man who had been healed all huddled as the explosion rushed past them.

Thissraelle’s ears rang. She blinked her eyes to clear them, then raised up and looked again. The drake, blown nearly in half, slowly fell outward, toppling below with the crumbling remains of the section of the gallery it had clung to. It crashed with the stones onto the burning pews down below.

Thissraelle looked to left and right. The archer was still hiding behind the now weakened and crumbling pillar. The guards on the other side were laying under the shattered remains of the table. It had offered them precious little protection. She saw at least one of them moving. They’re hurt! I’ve got to get to them.

 The explosion of light had blown a lot of the flames away, but much was still burning around them. “Eddiwarth! Get up!” She grabbed him by the shirt sleeve. “Can you take care of the flames?”

Flustered, he scrambled to his feet. “Yeah! Hold on...” He steadied himself against the stones of their wall, and gestured at the burning floor. Nothing happened. “Oh, come ON!” He made the gesture again, with frustrated urgency, and the flames obeyed, extinguishing like candles on a cake.

She rushed toward the gallery, toward the men lying on the floor. She had to levitate herself over some of the rubble to get to them. Eddiwarth and Karendle followed as best they could.

She heard a man shout, “Parith! Are you well?” She glanced up and saw the one who had been with them behind the wall. He was limping low toward the archer. Turning back to the guards, she tried to move some of the remains of the table away from the man underneath it. She found she had to call up her will to be able to lift the splintered boards with her mind. It was still hard to move them. She felt very tired. Soon, Eddiwarth arrived and began to help. The soldiers stirred and moaned.

“Hold on,” Thissraelle said, to comfort them, “we’re going to help you!” The elite tunics they wore over chain armor were scorched and riddled with small rips, but they seemed to be intact and not burned. “Can you move?” One of them, mostly freed of debris, began to roll over. He seemed more dazed than damaged.

“Oh, shaking earth!” Karendle swore.

“What?” Thissraelle looked up from her work. Karendle stared with fear out over the nave through the gaping gash in the balcony. The light shining on her from the priest was not as blindingly bright as it had been moments before. Thissraelle followed her gaze.

Two other wizards rose up into the air above the sanctuary. They stood on a huge, billowing, growing cone of pure darkness. One, wearing black robes, had his arms out to his sides, his palms up, as he lifted them both on the magical pillar. The other man, in deep blood red, laughed as he raised his arms to work his own magic.

Thissraelle instantly recognized the robes the wizards wore. Her breath caught in her throat, and her heartbeat stopped. She had grown up seeing wizards and wizarding students wearing those same robes. Her father had worn more masterful versions of those robes. No, it can’t be! Not the Guild! He would never order this! No! No!

The priest was still flying, but quite a bit lower than he had been. He saw the rising menace, and raised his staff in his weary arm. The red wizard flung his hands forward and a bolt of harsh lightning leapt out and struck the priest in the shoulder. The impact slammed him back, smashing him into a pillar above the opposite gallery. He cried out and slid downward, leaving a trail of red splattered and smeared above him. He struggled to float forward, and tried to lift his staff. The dark mage reached out with his hand, as if grabbing something the air before him. Thick ropes of black darkness grew out and lashed around the priest’s chest, down his torso and up around his neck and face. The wizard closed his hand tight and the priest screamed in pain. The staff with the bright oculus tumbled from his hand and clattered onto the floor below.

“NO!” Thissraelle screamed. “You can’t do this!” She ran, stumbling, to the railing of the balcony.

“Thissraelle, stop!” Eddiwarth ran after her.

No, you can’t do this! Father, no! She thrust out her arm, to summon her light. I’ll fight them! I’ll take them! But nothing came to her. She collapsed to her knees, her will spent. The wizard in black looked at her, scowled, and formed a dark, writhing mass in his hand. He twisted back, then threw it straight toward her.

Thissraelle’s mind and world exploded in darkness.

The End of Part 11, and Story Arc 3


<<<>>>



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

Thursday, August 1, 2019

148 - “Why?” - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Granthurg lurched onto the balcony just after the wizard in black. The man turned around and faced Granthurg with only a snarl and a dagger. He slashed out, but the giant easily stepped back and deflected the strike with his hammer handle. Granthurg could see fear in the man's face as he spun around and ran away, heading down the balcony. Granthurg swung the hammer at his retreating back. The wizard was quick, however, and the hammer only smashed into the wooden floor. The man dashed away in the dark haze, coughing.

Granthurg took up his hammer and gave chase. His heart pounded with determination, and his mind, with questions. Why did they attack? Why a chapel? And a cathedral, too? Why is he fleeing instead of fighting? Why isn’t he using his powers? 

Granthurg stumbled onto another ascending stairway, this one much more narrow. His will is spent! That’s why he’s running. His companion is down, and his own will is gone!

As Granthurg stepped into the stairway, it felt wrong under his feet, unsteady. This was the central spire, the bell tower of the chapel. The walls below were stone, but this structure was made of thick timbers and daub. Its foundation had probably been weakened by the first explosion that the striking wizard had thrown. This doesn’t feel safe. But I’ve got to get him. I’ve got to find out what’s going on. He pressed on upward, in spite of the creaking and swaying of the structure. It seemed to go higher than it had looked from below.

He reached the landing, and found a ladder leaning up the final way to the bell platform. He looked up through the gap to try and see the wizard, but couldn’t. Climbing up the ladder would make him an easy target. He shifted on the narrow platform, and felt it sway. He listened for the wizard, but only heard the crack of lightning and the response of thunder, mixed with screeches of drakes from down below.

Granthurg moved to the base of the ladder and looked up. “If you come down before this tower crumbles, maybe we can both come out of this alive!”

He heard no response.

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I’m just defending innocents,” Granthurg continued. “Come down and we’ll talk!”

The mage blew out three sharp, shrill blasts on a whistle. Its loud tone cut through the noise of the storm and the burning below. Who is he signaling?

Granthurg hefted his hammer close to the head in one hand, and grabbed an upper rung of the ladder with another. He ascended as quickly as he could, trying to rush the top. The opening wasn’t very big, but he got through it well enough, and climbed up onto the bell ringer’s platform. The wind through the open sides blew rain onto him, making his grip unsteady. The mage ran on him from behind and jumped on his back, slashing into his shoulder with his dagger. Granthurg shouted and twisted his back, throwing them both against a pillar.  The mage grunted with the impact, and the tower lurched and groaned just as loud. The bell swung and clanged hard with a deafening toll. The two both fell to the wet planks of the platform. Granthurg reached out to steady himself, and his hammer slid away. He reached for it, but the tower shook again, and the hammer fell through the gap under the bell. It clattered against the stairway below.

The wizard was crawling toward the ladder opening, and whistled his signal again. The wet boards and the angle of the platform were making it difficult for him to move quickly. Granthurg lunged onto him, punching into the ribs of his back. The man grunted and gasped for breath.

“Tell me why you attacked this church! What’s going on?”

The mage just coughed and wheezed.

Granthurg pulled his head back by his wet hair and snarled, “TELL ME!”

Granthurg heard the flapping of huge wings and an unearthly screech coming closer. The tower shook and leaned as the drake hit the side and gripped the timbers tight. It snaked its head and shoulders into the opening of the tower and snapped its teeth at Granthurg. The lurching tower and the clanging bell made it difficult for the drake to hit a solid bite, but its teeth raked across his arm muscles as he tried to deflect the attacks.  He flailed and punched to keep the dragon’s jaws away, and brought up his feet to kick at its throat. Its breath was a horrible acidic haze that made it hard to breathe and see. His ears were filled with the sounds of clanging bells, shrieking drake, and cracking timbers.

The drake reached in with one of its front feet and grabbed onto Grathurg’s thigh, digging its talons in deep. Granthurg screamed in pain. The tower shook and shifted again. The drake pulled him through the opening and rain washed over him. He suddenly felt light, even weightless. They were falling. The tower was collapsing out over the street. The mage was screaming as he fell, and the drake began furiously flapping its wings.

The drake tried to fly, but didn’t let go of Granthurg’s leg. The pain was unbearable and hanging upside down in the air was making him dizzy. Granthurg reached up to grip the drake’s arm. He didn’t want to be carried off, but he didn’t want to fall, either. The drake flapped its wings furiously, trying to go higher, but the weight of a giant was too much. It flew out, over the street, still flapping, still struggling, but slowly dropping.

Shrieking and struggling, it flew out past the barges on the riverfront and the two of them splashed hard into the deep center of the river. Granthurg struggled for breath. The beast began writhing and twisting in the water, jerking Granthurg around. For a moment, it flipped over and Granthurg was above the surface. He gasped a fast breath before the drake’s spinning plunged him under again.

Granthurg reached through the cold water, over the drake’s gripping talon, along his leg, and to his boot. It was difficult in the shifting and splashing motion. He shoved his hand in and pulled out the white-bladed dagger. Gripping the hilt tightly, he plunged the curved blade into the upper leg of the beast.

The drake thrashed and twisted harder than ever, and Granthurg could almost hear its screams even from below the water. Then, it stopped. The head and tail splashed into the water, the death grip of the talon on his leg eased, and the beast began to sink and drift with the flow of the river.

Granthurg shook his leg free and pushed off the beast with his other foot. He broke the surface of the river, gasping for breath. He tried to swim away from the drake, but with an injured arm and leg, it was difficult even to tread water and stay afloat. The drake bobbed motionless in the river, slowly sinking. Granthrug looked around to see the city passing by as he flowed downstream. The flames from the chapel were growing more distant off to his left. He floated under the CentreTown wall bridge, and saw the conflagration that was the great Cathedral. He looked on in awe as people ran, screaming and confused.

Thissraelle!


<<<>>>



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, July 29, 2019

147 - "Burning Down the Church" - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Granthurg stood, staring in horror at the fractured and flaming main facade of the Chapel of St Mardon. Many of its stones were strewn on the ground, along with scattered burning fragments of wooden support beams and roofing. From inside, he could hear screaming and strange, unfamiliar shrieking noises. He ran up the steps to the main entrance. He tossed off his cloak and reached behind his back with both hands, one overhead. He grabbed his hammer, unstrapped it, and swung it forward into his hands before stepping over the debris into the chapel.

It was dim inside, the only light coming from the flames of the burning pews and tapestries. It looked about the size of the chapel in Dirae, maybe a little larger, and much more ornate. The walls and pillars were glowing with the erie dancing orange and red of reflected firelight. The vaulted ceiling was rapidly filling with smoke. Out of that haze rushed a black form, wailing and flying toward him.

Granthurg barely had time to react before it slashed a claw into his arm and flapped away. A drake! Why...?

A screech to his right made him spin and raise his hammer just in time to deflect another strike. I can’t see them coming! He ran to a nearby pillar and laid his back against it, crouching a bit in readiness. A small gaggle of monks fled the sanctuary, racing to find an exit. The drakes swooped down to attack them.

Granthurg lunged from his safe place and in a few giant strides was near the terrified brothers. He swung his hammer with full momentum at one of the drakes, but it snaked its body in the air, avoiding the hit, then flapped its wings hard to gain air. There wasn’t much room for it in this corner of the chapel, so it dropped and landed across the back of several of the unburned pews. They creaked under its weight. It flipped its head around to face Granthurg.

“Run!” Granthurg yelled to the monks. “I’ll hold it back!” He didn’t look, but he heard their sandals scraping across the floor.

The drake’s body was about the size of a man, though slightly smaller than Granthurg. Its neck was long, probably a good three to four feet of flexible strength. Its long tail whisked through the air, raising up behind its body. It opened up its maw and hissed at him menacingly, then Granthurg noticed it churning and gagging its belly and neck. Oh, that doesn’t look good.

Granthurg dove for the relative cover of the pews as the drake spit flames across the chapel where he had been standing. He crawled to the left on the ground for a space, then jumped to his feet and rushed along the benches toward the drake. He swung his hammer and landed a solid blow directly on the beast’s shoulder with a crunch. The drake howled in pain, it’s mouth still dripping flaming drool. It thrashed across the chapel and swung its long tail, hitting Granthurg and sending him tumbling over the backs of cracked benches.

He sat up and shook his head. As his eyes cleared, he saw his hammer laying on the floor not to far from his feet. He reached for it, making his shoulder hurt from the smaller drake's claws.

He saw a dark figure running along the other side of the chapel. In a moment, he realized that it was one of the wizards he had seen in the street, the one in black. Another man in a white tunic, a guard or soldier, pursued him, but not as quickly. What happened to the other mage?

Granthurg wasn't going to let him escape. There were too many questions. The giant scooped up his hammer, leapt to his feet, and ran to intercept. He thundered around the clutter of the main entrance just in time to face the wizard.

The mage turned around and ran, dashing up a spiral staircase behind him. Granthurg gave chase just as the guard limped into view.

“I'll catch him!” Granthurg shouted, “Where do these stairs go?”

“To the balcony and the bell tower!”

Granthurg sped up the stairs.


<<<>>>



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, July 25, 2019

146 - "Into the Catacombs” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Tonklyn walked down the long, dark corridor. The walls were rough cut stones- uneven, but sealed together somehow, probably with nature magic. The ceiling was high and arched. Every dozen paces or so there was an opening on either side, leading to small burial chambers. The man who had told Tonklyn how to find these halls had warned him that there were stories of dark magics kept down in these chambers. The man’s voice had been quavering as he told the tale.

“I’m not worried,” Tonklyn had snorted. What else did he think I was coming down here for?

The way was dimly lit by small oculi above each opening. The oculus staff Tonklyn was carrying shed a bit more light around him. Tonklyn took a moment to check inside each chamber. Then, he continued counting the openings. When he approached the fifth gap, he slowed and paused before entering. He'd been told that in this particular alcove, there might be more soldiers or priests. He listened carefully, but heard nothing. Even the chaos going on above couldn't penetrate the earth and stone. His mind ran various options for approaching the room. Finally, he decided.

He set the staff against the wall, lowered himself to his knees, then grabbed his chest over the bloody shirt stain. Wait. There's more blood on the other hand. He switched, then groaned quietly. He waited a moment, groaned again, a bit louder, then crawled through the opening and into the chamber.

A monk clerk of the church sat on a tall stool before a narrow writing table. He focused on a long scroll of paper on the angled surface of the table. One end of the scroll had dropped off the table and unrolled along the floor. The desktop was lit by a single small opal oculus suspended from a thin metal arm. 

“Help me!” Tonklyn breathed, “Please, help me!”

Without looking up from the scroll, the monk said, “It's a little early for dinner, isn't it?”

Tonklyn tried a little harder, scraping himself painfully to the center of the floor before collapsing with a much louder grunt. 

Finally, the monk raised his eyes. They became immediately large and frightened when he saw Tonklyn. The man jumped from his seat and rushed to help. 

“Oh, flames! Oh, flaming flames! By the Creator! Are you hurt? What do I do? What do I DO?”

“Please,” Tonklyn gasped, “The cathedral is under attack. Drakes, flames, destruction... It's the Wizard's Guild!”

The brother saw the blood all over Tonklyn’s chest and recoiled in horror. “No!” 

“The Bishop’s Council, the Lord Father, are all scattered. Most of them-” Tonklyn fell into a coughing fit, as if he was gasping his last. “Most of them are dead or wounded.” He motioned for the brother to lean in closer.

“What is it?”

“The Lord Father told me to come here and tell you to get the artifacts. They're very important. He said we have to hide them until we hear from him.”

The brother hesitated. He looked at the door behind the desk, then back at Tonklyn. “I've never been in there. I've never even seen them!”

“We must get the artifacts!” Tonklyn felt his anger rise up, then calmed himself and fell back into character. “We have to hide them from the Wizard's Guild! The Lord Father insists!” He punctuating his words with urgency, then collapsed back to the floor, eyes closed.

The brother felt for breath on Tonklyn’s chest. Tonklyn tried hard to make it weak. Finally, the monk stood and opened a drawer in the desk. Tonklyn opened one eye a slit and watched. The brother pulled out a small box and set it on the desk. He opened it and drew a set of keys from it. They jingled as he moved to the door. He slid the key into the lock and the door swung quietly inward. He picked up he oculus mounted above the desk and stepped hesitantly into the dark.

Tonklyn rose up, moving silently. He readied his dagger under his cloak, then rushed forward behind the monk to plunge it again and again between the ribs of his upper back. The brother fell, gasping, to his knees, then to the floor, unmoving.

Tonklyn drew a few deep breaths to calm his shaking hands, then sheathed his dagger. He picked up the oculus lamp and surveyed the room. It was empty except for a small wooden table against the far wall. There were no shelves, no tapestries, and no chairs or rugs. Tonklyn stepped over the body below him and strode to the table. Two large leather-bound books rested there, under a layer of dust and neglect. The covers were each more than a foot, maybe two in height, and the pages were a hand's width thick.  

Wait, where’s the dagger? Tonklyn shifted them from side to side, trying to look under or behind each book. It’s not here!

In a rush of fury and fear, he looked all around. Under the table, under the books. He shoved the body aside with his foot, and looked beneath it. He shone the light of the oculus close and inspected the table again. In the dust, he saw his answer. There was a faint square on the table where dust had not settled as much. It was about the size and shape that a box would have to be if it held an ornate magical dagger. He looked closer. The dust from one side of the square had been disturbed. Someone else got here first. Someone else got the blade. It looks like it's been gone for quite some time. A moment of fear shivered through him. Kirraxal will not be pleased. 

He sighed and wiped away the sweat that was drizzling down the side of his temple. He tipped his head and smirked in resignation. Then, he hefted the two tomes up into his arms, shifted his feet to make himself more stable, and walked out of the chamber.

<<<>>>



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, July 22, 2019

145 - "In the Cathedral Halls” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

My master will be pleased. Tonklyn smiled. Very pleased. 

He stood in the clean street of CentreTown and looked up through the rain at the crumbling Grand Cathedral. Two of the three spires above the front facade had fallen. The empty spaces in the walls where once-magnificent stained glass windows had shone in the night were now spewing smoke and glowing with the yellow light of raging fires. Occasional screams and crashes mixed with the thunder and the sound of rain on the streets of the city.

Shouts rang out from the pubs and shops on the other side of the street as people rushed out to see the conflagration. Tonklyn studied them as they gawked and stared in shock at the sight. He smirked and tugged his cloak hood tighter. Nobody wants to help. What a surprise. He laughed to himself. Look at them all. They don’t want to get involved. Flames, they don’t even want to get wet and cross the street!

He walked defiantly toward the cathedral.

Once he had stepped out of the rain and over the debris of the porch, he entered the foyer. Immediately, he turned left and stepped through a destroyed doorway. The hallway  ran to his right, along the side of the aisle of the cathedral. The corridor was wide, but not as tall as the aisle, with doors to the left. According to Tonklyn's memories, those doors led to the offices of the Archbishops and the Lord Father of the Church. As a page for the Royal Library, he had often be sent there to deliver or pick up books and scrolls. Tonklyn knew, of course, that the rooms were currently all empty, in spite of the fact that it was actually mid-afternoon. The church leaders were all in the upper floors on the other side of the cathedral, meeting with the Concilio Episcopi. Timing is everything.

Tonklyn walked past one doorway, then two and three, before stopping at the fourth, a rather dull set of double doors. He took a breath and drew back his hood. He paused, thoughtful for a moment, then raised it back over his head. There will be guards here. Extra anonymity would serve him well. He let out the breath, took the door handles, and barged in with a carefully staged stumble.

Immediately, he fell to his knees before the two soldiers, forcing deep gasping breaths through his lungs. “Guards! I’m glad to have found you! The Concilio is scattered, the Bishops are dying! The cathedral is in ruins! You must go and defend the Lord Father!” Keeping his head down, he glanced around. It was a small room, sort of a waiting space, finely decorated, with rare wooden panels, but without furniture. Only rugs and tapestries. It was lit by two oculi on staves on opposite sides of the room. There were two obvious doors, one behind each soldier.
The two men looked at each other, uncertain.

“Can’t you hear the fighting? The screaming?”

“Yes, of course!” one said, “but...”

“Please, come!” Tonklyn pleaded with an almost mocking edge, “Your masters are dying!” At least that part is true...

“We are sworn to guard this station at all cost.” He straightened his back to remind himself of his duty.

“Even at the cost of their lives?” By the Creator, what’s it going to take to get rid of them? He bowed himself further down and shook his shoulders as if he were crying.

The soldier who last spoke breathed deep, then mumbled to the other, “You wait here. I’ll go see.” Tonklyn heard the footsteps receding down the hall. He glanced up at the other guard, but kept his own hood pulled. The guard stood steady, hand on his sword hilt, looking past Tonklyn, nervously listening to the chaos outside. I guess I’ll have to take care of this one myself. Under the cover of his cloak, Tonklyn drew out a short, thin rondel dagger. He shifted his knee up under his body and readied his stance.

In an instant, Tonklyn jumped up, wrapped his arm around the guard’s neck and head, and, gripping him tight, plunged the dagger into the man’s chest. Its thin, round blade easily slipped through the rings of the chainmail the guard wore under his tunic. The surprised gasp in Tonklyn’s ear was all he needed to hear to know he had struck true. Still, just to be sure, he pulled back and stabbed two more times. Then, he let the man drop. The guard collapsed onto his side, then rolled on his face.

Tonklyn looked at the dagger, dripping blood, and at the red stain on his own shirt. He made a smirk as a thought crossed his mind. I’ll probably encounter more guards down below. This could work for me.

Using his boot, he quickly rolled the guard on his back. There was a widening smear of red on the rug below. Tonkyn leaned down and rubbed his hand in it, then spread as much as he could onto his shirt and cloak. He held the shirt out away from his ample belly, to assess the result. Satisfied, he nodded, then stepped over the body to the rightmost door. He studied it closely. There was no handle, no knob. After a quick search of its smooth wooden surface, he found the key slot.

Now let’s see if this works. He felt in the pockets of his cloak and withdrew a small, thin key, with an onyx stone set in the handle. He slid it into the slot, but nothing seemed to happen. He tried turning it, but it wouldn’t move. This had better work, or someone I know will die. He tried turning the key again, to no avail.

He stepped back and considered the door. He traced the frame with his eyes, looking for latches, hinges, but he saw none. Slowly, hesitating, he stepped forward, and pushed. The entire door moved slightly inward, with almost no effort required of him.

Oh. Okay. He pushed further, and it slid fully inward, then began to swing to the right. So, I guess there’s at least one person that will get to live a little longer. Tonklyn grabbed one of the oculus light staves and stepped through the doorway to see stairs descending into dimly lit catacombs. He smiled.


<<<>>>



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, July 18, 2019

144 - "More Fear, More Friends, More Light” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Thissraelle and Eddiwarth ran, trying to follow where Karendle had gone. The haze was thick, making it difficult to see.

"Karendle!" She shouted. "Where did you go?"

"This way!" Karendle's voice sounded from up ahead and off to the right. Thissraelle coughed and slowed to a walk. She could feel the heat from the flames not far from her. It burned against her skin, but she had to keep on.

"Over here! Quick."

Thissraelle turned toward the voice and stepped into a hallway running away from the aisle. Karendle stood at the base of a stairway in the left side of the hall. The way was blocked by flames from burning rubble.

Karendle was staring at an oculus in each hand, like she was trying to figure out which one to use. She looked up as Thissraelle approached. "I can hear people shouting from up these stairs! I don’t know how to get past these flames!"

Thissraelle studied the situation, using her hands to shield herself from the heat. I'm not sure, either. Maybe I can make a portal to get us past the flames? 

"Hold on, I think I can do this!" Eddiwarth stepped up between them, then, holding his hands out before him, moved toward the flames. "Messing with fire is how I first learned magic. I almost burned my house down once."

Thissraelle and Karendle glanced at each other with confusion.

“Okay, twice.”

"Be careful!" Thissraelle said after him. Well, that's kind of obvious.

He stepped up close to the fire and waved his hands, palms out, as if he was parting the flames and smoke. Nothing happened at first, but after two or three tries, the fire obeyed and receded. He stepped through the gap, jumping up the stairs, and then gestured for them to follow.

Thissraelle and Karendle weaved over the hot clutter where the fire had been, then rushed up the stairs. They doubled back at the first landing and climbed the second flight, and then burst out into the second level hallway.

Two vicious drakes were on the floor a short distance before them, attacking a man laying prone. He was desperately struggling to protect himself from their teeth and claws. One was gripping his torso with the claws of its back legs, while slashing at his chest and face. The man used his arms to deflect the bites and snaps of its snaking head. Another drake had coiled itself tight around his leg and had bitten into it deeply.

A quick glance to the left showed more flames and wounded monks. When she looked to the right, she saw the biggest dark monster she had ever seen. A dragon, clawing over the balcony onto the gallery above the nave. It's tail coiled around a pillar and its neck and head struck out, snapping at a thin group of defenders. They looked so small before the beast. It bared its teeth and screamed, and a wave of absolute horror rushed over her, ripping a scream from deep in her throat. She dropped to her knees and hid her face in her arms.

No! I can't run! People are hurting! She raised her head. Karendle was frozen with fear, and Eddiwarth was backing away.

No! I will NOT run! From deep inside, her will surged up. She felt it first as a heat, a quickening in her chest, then it followed as light to her hands. It formed into a bright shaft, and coalesced into a shining spear of pure light.

She got to her feet. "Eddiwarth! Help me with him!" She pointed at the man on the floor before them, and then pointed to the right. "Karendle! The big one" They hesitated for just a breath, then Karendle checked the oculi in her hands and jumped toward the others engaging the big drake.

Thissraelle rushed forward, thrusting the point of her lightspear at the drake on the man's chest. It twisted and dodged it's head, screaming at her. "I can't hit it!" At least it’s stopped attacking the man!

Eddiwarth reached out his hand, slightly glowing blue, and used his mind to force the drake's head up. It hissed and tried to flame at him, but was only able to drool a little drizzle of flame. Eddiwarth threw the beast back, off the man, slamming it hard into the opposite wall of the hallway.

His hands suddenly free, the man reached down and grabbed the head of the drake wrapped around his legs and held on. Immobilized like that, it was easy for Thissraelle to drive the lightspear down into its chest. It screeched, and a second strike made it go limp.

She saw the man wince as he heaved the drake off his leg and tossed it aside. He slumped back down to the floor, then reached up to wipe his face. His arms, chest, and face were torn with scrapes and cuts from the animal's claws. His loose, dark pant leg was torn and stained deep red. More blood was beginning to pool on the floor under his thigh. His chest was gasping for breath. He rolled to his side and tried to stand, but pain and weakness laid him back down.

"No, no! You rest!" Thissraelle held her spear of light out over him and let it dissolve into bright essence of will and filter down into him. He drew in a sharp breath. His arms and legs stretched out, then relaxed as the healing flooded through him. For a moment, Thissraelle felt his pain in her own leg and arms. Then, it was done.

Thissraelle smiled at him. She reached out her hand to help him up.

"Run for cover!"

"Hide yourselves!"

She and Eddiwarth looked down the hall where the shouts had come from. The few who had been fighting the larger lizard in the gallery balcony were scrambling to find a hiding place. The drake was hacking and retching noises came from deep within its throat. It opened its mouth wide, showing smoldering teeth. The archer jumped to hide behind a buttress pillar. Two soldiers of the church guard cowered behind an overturned table. The priest ran and jumped off the balcony.

"No!" Thissraelle shouted and jumped forward.

"Thissraelle! Stop!" Karendle ran down the hall and tackled Thissraelle to the floor.

The drake closed its eyes, then from down in its guts and out its gaping maw it sprayed a streaming spray of flaming vomit, sweeping it's head across the hallway. Karendle spun on the floor, grunted, and raised her right hand, with its oculus. Instantly, a strip of the stone floor of the hall peeled away and raised up, forming a makeshift wall between them and the drake. The burning spit sprayed outward as it splashed against the other side. Karendle, Thissraelle, and Eddiwarth scurried together and huddled in the wall's protection.

The heat, noise, and smoke were overwhelming. Drops of sweat ran down Thissraelle’s face and hair. She gritted her teeth and made herself as small as she could behind the wall. She opened her eyes and saw the man she had just healed there on the floor. She gestured for him to join them in their safe spot. As the drake belched its fires back and forth, he crawled toward them. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth reached out to help draw him beside them.

She couldn’t tell if the roaring in her ears was the drake or the flames. Thissraelle cowered close to the wall Karendle had made, tightly pressed between Eddiwarth and Karendle. The other man also huddled in the safe spot.

Karendle wiped the sweat from her smudged forehead and gestured to the flames on the floor around them. “You glad you found me?”

Thissraelle managed a smile. “Yes, I am.”


<<<>>>



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

Monday, July 15, 2019

143 - "Fear, Friends, and Light” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Thissraelle and Eddiwarth ran through the shattered doors of the cathedral porch into the main foyer. As they stepped up into the nave they stood transfixed with horror at the sight before them. The entire floor of the west end of the nave was rubble from the apparent collapse of the main spire. Ornately carved stones lay broken and scattered among the splintered wood of beams and pews. A few remaining ornate pews in the nave and those up into the choir were burning, throwing sparks and belching smoke up toward the vaulted ceilings. The skylights above were shattered, the delicate paintings in between the pillars were blackening with smoke and soot, and drakes flew back and forth, circling in the upper reaches. They occasionally dropped down to retch flaming spit onto the tapestries or the walls, or to chase the screaming monks, priests, and worshippers. A few guard soldiers fumbled with their blades and spears, and scrambled to either run or protect the priests. The noises of fear and destruction filled the huge echoing chamber above. Rain streamed in from the shattered skylights above, making odd swirls out of the ascending smoke, and hissing as it fell onto the flames below.

“Creator, help us,” Thissraelle whispered. Her heart ached. She struggled to breathe. Her eyes blurred and burned. Was that from tears or the smoke?

Eddiwarth coughed. “This is the Destroyer!”

She wiped her eyes and looked around below. She saw a few monks running out from the aisle under the gallery, turning down a hallway off to the right. She ran toward them, and Eddiwarth jumped in behind her. As she reached the aisle before the hallway entrance, she saw the rows of pillars. The ceiling in the aisle was lower, and the smoke poured up into the nave on the left. Halfway up toward the sanctuary, a raging fire burned. In its light, she saw a familiar silhouette, kneeling over a prone man. Her heart leaped. Karendle!

Thissraelle ran forward, but stopped and stood when Karendle saw her. Karendle was a mess. Her hair was ragged and her long, thick braid was unraveling. Her face was covered with smeared soot. Her sleeve was torn and her cheek scratched.

The moment hovered in the smoky air as they looked at each other. Eddiwarth ran up beside her. She glanced at him, then back at Karendle. “Karendle, I... Ah...”

Karendle nodded, then looked down. “Hey, do you think you could heal this guy?”

“What?”

“He’s pretty badly hurt. There are a lot more, too!”

The moment snapped back into immediate reality. Thissraelle shook her head and rushed over to kneel before the man. He was an older man, probably in his fifties. He would have been dressed in very fine, colorful clothes if they hadn’t been ruined by the rubble and the smoke. He looked up at Thissraelle and Karendle with painful, pleading eyes.

Karendle knelt on the other side of him, carefully shifting his bloody leg. He winced in pain. “Oh! Sorry!” she said, then released it. She gestured to Eddiwarth, “You watch for dragons!”

Thissraelle summoned her will again, filling herself with light. It felt good in her arms. All of her recent frustrations and confusion focused into the immediate need to heal this man. This she could do. She held her hands out over the man, who dropped his head back to the stone floor as the glowing warmth overwhelmed him. For a moment, she felt the pain of his wounds shiver through her as the light carried it away and released it into mist around them. Then, the light faded.

“Thanks!” Karendle said, jumping up. “I’ll go find more!”

WAIT! Thisraelle tried to say something, but Karendle ran off into the chaos. I need to talk to you! 

An explosion from farther up the nave shook the walls of the aisles. Something large fell and crashed to the floor. The calls of the beasts came to her ears with an urgent sharpness, further returning her to focus. A bit of weariness settled into Thissraelle’s shoulders. She stood, and Eddiwarth moved next to her. Together, they lifted the man up to his feet. His face was both grateful and terrified. They guided him a ways toward the exit, then turned back around to rush after Karendle.




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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, July 11, 2019

142 - "Flame, Tooth, and Claw” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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

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As Korr rushed toward Parith, he saw his friend draw back the bowstring with a strain and loose another arrow. The beast attacked, shrieking, with its maw gaping wide. Its long teeth dripped burning and smoking drool. The arrow sunk deep into its upper palate, immediately catching the fletching on fire.

The drake shrieked in pain, twisting and writhing in the air before slamming into the balcony and clawing at the banister to desperately get a hold. The impact knocked through one of the support pillars, and shook Korr and Parith to the floor. The long tail flipped and wrapped tight around another pillar. The drake chomped and snarled, trying to get the painful arrow out of its mouth.

Parith clambered to his feet and began readying another arrow. Korr turned around and tried to crawl away from the monster, unable to get a grip on the stone beneath his knees. Finally, he reached a rug running down the hallway and was able to get secure enough to climb to his feet. His heartbeat pounded in his temple and his breathing was fast and shallow. As he looked down the hallway, he froze in fear. The far end of the hall was filled with flames. Bishops and brothers in white, now bloodied and burning robes, were struggling to escape the clawing, screaming fury of the drakes. These beasts were much smaller, but also much quicker and more vicious in their attacks. Guard soldiers tried to defend the others, only to be slashed and overwhelmed as well.

Terror gripped Parith and planted his feet. One of the Bishops held up his staff and shot bright light from its tip, slicing a drake’s head in half. It fell, flopping and twisting, to the floor. No sooner had he done that than another beast ran out of the flames and smoke, jumped off the wall, and landed on the Bishop. The man barely had time to scream before the drake’s teeth tore out his throat and they both tumbled to the floor.

The men still standing fled the flames, running toward Korr and the stairwell. A few of the Bishops turned to throw blasts of light back down the hallway at the pursuing animals. Korr couldn’t tell which screams were from humans and which were from drakes. Flames, crashing blocks of stone, shouts of terror and attack overwhelmed his head with a rush of fearsome noise.

“Run! Flee!” they all shouted as they passed him. He watched them go by, unable to move, unable to even imagine what to do.

Focus yourself! Be the stone! Be the wall!

He stomped his feet into the stone floor, turned to his side, and set his arms in the stance, readying himself. He tried to relax his breathing. In deep, out slow. In deep, out slow...

He turned his eyes away from the blur of motion, looking straight down the hallway, slowing the chaos in his mind. Now I can see! There are one, two drakes coming close. They’re not as big. He could see them snaking their way down the corridor, one clawing on the floor, the other above, in the air. These were a little longer than a man was tall, and moved in a side-to-side slither.

The airborne one reached him first, swooping toward his head. Before it could bite, however, Korr swept his forward arm up, connecting his wrist and fist just under its head and deflecting it away. He smoothly dipped underneath its undulating body as momentum carried it past him.

The slightly smaller one on the floor leapt at Korr's forward leg, and bit into his calf. Hot pain shot up his leg and he clenched his teeth. He spun and slammed his unhurt leg down onto the drake’s neck just below the head. It shrieked and gagged in surprise. Standing above it, he drove fist strikes down onto its head. It was hard to make strong hits, as it swung back and forth, but he managed to daze it. The drake wrapped its tail and body around Korr’s leg and clawed up at his thigh and torso, leaving deep, painful scrapes. That, and the writhing under his feet, threw him off balance and he fell backward.

How do you fight these? Korr shifted his arms up to try and block the flailing claws as the first drake jumped at him, teeth bared. He called out, “Parith! Help me!”

I’m going to die! I don't know how to fight them!


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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

Monday, July 8, 2019

141 - "A Bow and Arrow” - Parith - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Parith and Korr glanced at each other, afraid. What was that huge shadow flying over? Korr finally put their thoughts into words, “Was that a dr--” A terrifying crack and explosion interrupted, sounding from down the hallway, making Parith jerk. The horrible sound of crashing stones and crunching wood echoed through the nave. Moments later, frightened screams followed.

Parith sprinted down the hallway, back toward the cathedral’s main hall. Korr was close behind. His bag bounced against his hip and legs, making running difficult. He swung it up across his back and ran harder. He heard the crashing of glass and a loud screeching cry ripped through the air of the cathedral. Something massive and black flew past his narrow field of vision.

Oh, no. This can’t be. Is that what people were talking about?

They broke out of the hallway onto the gallery above the aisles. They rushed up to the railing protecting the balcony and looked on the horror going on in the nave below. Across the chapel, clinging to the pillars and railing of the opposite balcony, was a large, black, winged dragon. It snaked its enormous head around and shrieked again. Below it lay the choir and the sanctuary of the nave, littered with shattered stained glass. Rain streamed down from the now gaping hole in the skylights, and more panes of glass broke off and fell to shatter on the floor below. Worshippers and clergy in the sanctuary screamed, scrambling for cover. Many of them left trails of blood behind them from cuts left by the falling glass.

More drakes, smaller than the larger one on the wall, flew in through the open skylight, their wings flinging rain water around the chapel. They began to circle the nave, calling out.

What is happening? This can’t be just a random infestation of drakes! Where are they coming from? His pack wiggled on his back, and he heard an anxious chattering over his shoulder. Oh, no. Is he a part of this, too?

The floor beneath them shook, as an explosion of flames burst out from under the balcony, between the pillars. The pews below them were sprayed with burning spittle and more scattered glass. Screams told him that there were people who had been caught in that inferno.

“What should we do?” He shouted to Korr.

“We need to help somehow!” Korr turned around and headed toward the stairs back to the main level.

“Wait! I have no weapon! I left my staff back at the tower!”

Korr shrugged and looked around. Parith looked as well, noticing a row of suits of armor on display against the wall of the gallery. One held a long spear. Perfect! Parith tossed off his bag and ran to the display. Korr took off toward the stairway. As Parith grabbed the spear, he paused, noticing a heavy longbow next to it. Even better! Are there arrows? If this noble had a bow, he’d have definitely left arrows, right? The empty suit of armor had a pouch hung on the wall next to it. Above it was a placard with the name “Sir Meriwarth” and details of his titles and victories.With a quick search of the display he found a quiver with a half-dozen arrows. Not very many. I’ll have to make them count! He slung them over his shoulder.

He grabbed the longbow from the wall and hefted it. It was easily as tall as he was, and that would be clumsy for him. He was a wood elf and not as tall as the human the bow was obviously made for. I’ll just have to make it work. Where’s a string?  Parith began rummaging through the pouch.

“Sorry, your lordship, I don’t mean to steal, but you’re not here to stop me, so... A ha!” His hands pulled out a few bowstrings. “Yes!” He twisted his legs around the bow and began to set the string. More screams and screeches flowed from below, and smoke began to fill the upper reaches of the nave.

A motion to his left drew his attention, and he glanced. The little drakeling was poking its head fearfully out of the tied flap of the bag. It’s chittering voice was changing to short squeals. “Fsht! Fsht! Get back in there!” Parith waved his hand at it. It dropped its head and drew back under the flap. Is it scared? Or does it want to join the attack?

The bow was much stronger than the elven short bows he was used to from the forest. Still, with effort he got it strung and ran back to the balcony.

As he reached the balcony, he saw Korr come back out of the stairwell. “Too many flames below!” he shouted.

Parith stepped up to the banister and nocked an arrow. The largest drake had climbed upward, snaking around one of the pillars, digging into the rock with its claws. He lifted the bow. It was not at all like the fine elven shortbows. This was too long, too tall for him, and the lower tip dredged the floor. He had to angle it a little bit, so he had to twist his shoulder more to keep his elbow out of the way of the string. It made it all the more difficult to draw the tight string of the heavy bow. If I were only stronger... 

He aimed at the head of the drake, and held it steady. It saw him and shrieked. Fear ripped through him, like the wave of the sound echoing in the cavernous cathedral. It shook him and the arrow loosed. It went wild, glancing off the pillar well above the beast's head. It began to crawl around the pillar and unfold its wings, as if getting its body ready to jump across the nave and attack.

Parith grabbed another arrow and slipped it into place, raising the bow again. Angle, elbow, draw, steady... The drake opened its mouth again to scream and Parith shot. The arrow flew across the vast space in a shallow arc and plunged into the side of the horror’s neck. It threw its head back, screaming in pain and clawing at its neck. While Parith nocked another arrow, it leapt into the air and few directly at him.


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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