Thursday, April 18, 2019

118 - “Returning!” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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With a creak and rattle, the carriage rolled to a stop on the cobblestone street along the Dirae waterfront. It shook from side to side, as Granthurg stood and jumped off the rumble in the back. After steadying themselves, two of the monastery’s brothers climbed down off the perch. While one went forward to tie the horses, the other came back to open the door. A cool breeze of the late morning off the river swept through the car.

Inside the carriage, Eddiwarth smiled at Thissraelle, sitting next to him. Antonerri and DeFrantis sat across from them, facing the rear. The carriage had a small interior, so they’d all had to sit pretty close for the long ride through the woods. When hearing of their decision to go, the Father Abbott had greeted them, thanked them, and insisted they take his carriage. Eddiwarth hadn’t minded. He got to sit, pressed close up to Thissraelle. It was nice, but it had been kind of awkward, especially with Antonerri and DeFrantis right there.

Antonerri got out first, then turned back to the door as DeFrantis rose and stooped through. He held her hand as she easily took the steps to the street.

Eddiwarth shifted forward in his seat, then half stood, half stooped to exit the carriage. Now what do I do? I should help her down, too, like Antonerri did. Right? Would she like that? Or would she be mad at me? She could easily get down by herself. I should let her. But then, I would be ignoring her. Oh, this is complicated!

He spun around to face the carriage door just as Thissraelle walked past him toward DeFrantis.

Oh, well... I guess that’s OK, then...

The monastery brother walked around from the back of the carriage bearing a number of bags, bundles, and bedrolls. Granthurg was already halfway down the pier toward his barge. Thissraelle and DeFrantis embraced, tightly, gently swinging from side to side. Thisraelle wore a simple travelling tunic with clean, but plain leggings and boots. DeFrantis was in her normal daily working dress.

“I’m so sorry I can’t go, Thiss.”

Thissraelle broke the embrace. “No! Don’t be sorry. I understand.”

DeFrantis gently held on to Thissraelle’s arms. “I’ve told you how I grew up on the streets. I didn’t have any sisters. Thank you for being my sister.” They embraced again. “Stay safe.”

Eddiwarth stood and waited, not sure what to say or do. He leaned over and picked up a couple of the bags and slung them over his shoulder. One of them slipped off as he bent down to pick up another.

Thissraelle stepped away and wiped her cheeks. “Take good care of Antonerri, and the kids.”

She stepped onto the pier with reluctance. Eddiwarth stumbled after her, carrying several bags and dragging another behind him. Antonerri stepped up to the other bags and called out, “I’ll help with those.” He picked up a few and followed after them.

When they got to the barge, Granthurg had already untied the lines holding the barge to the dock. They stepped on board and dropped the bags in the mostly empty cargo space in the middle. I guess Granthurg hadn’t had time to get any loads to carry. This whole trip was pretty sudden.

He watched Thissraelle step up onto the steering platform at the stern. Granthurg was there, kneeling over something under the floor. Thissraelle sat down next to him, focused on the same thing. “Watch this!” Granthurg said and held his hand out.

Eddiwarth’s focus was on Thissraelle. As had happened so often, he stared at her, following her long white hair flowing easily over her shoulders and her back. Yes, I’m watching! 

The barge suddenly lurched in the water and Eddiwarth almost lost his footing, shaking him out of his trance. It moved backward, floating away from the dock. Thissraelle laughed and clapped for Granthurg, then patted him on the shoulder.

“Hey! Wait for me to get off the boat!” Antonerri shouted, then jumped the short distance to the planks. DeFrantis had walked down the pier and joined Antonerri as they waved and called out their farewells.  Eddiwarth waved back, then went to sit on the platform. He smiled as Thissraelle sat next to him, but saw that her attention was on the dock, on DeFrantis.

Finally, she did look at him and smiled, but it was a kind of sad smile. What does THAT mean?

She spoke. “I’m hungry. Is anyone else hungry?”



End of Part 9


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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, April 15, 2019

117 - “That Fool Stupid Dream” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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“A dream?” a familiar voice said, from behind Granthurg, “Lot of that happening lately, I guess.” Eddiwarth stepped into the lantern’s glow, followed by Antonerri and DeFrantis.

Thissraelle and Granthurg looked back toward the open library door. DeFrantis stepped in front of the table to answer the question on Thissraelle’s face. “We just came in. We’re not trying to eavesdrop. You’ve been... well... troubled the last few days.”

Antonerri moved behind DeFrantis. “We’re just a bit worried about you. And”--he took a breath-- “Karendle, too.”

Thissraelle nodded and looked away. DeFrantis quietly took the open chair opposite Granthurg. Thissraelle could feel the kindness and the concern of her friends, but right now it also brought an oppressive awkward silence crowding around her in the dim light.

Eddiwarth coughed, making everyone look. “So, uh... what’s this dream?”

Tension broken, breaths taken, Thissraelle explained, “Oh, nothing, really. This knight appeared to me and told me things.”

“A knight?” Antonerri said, with curiosity.

“Yeah! Tell us about it!” Eddiwarth nudged, glad to have the heaviness of the moment broken. He leaned his elbow up on Granthurg’s chair and crossed his ankles.

“Well, it’s nothing, like I said. I was flying through a storm, with lighting flashing all around me. Suddenly this knight in armor appears, and he’s glowing and everything, and he tells me that I should go take a message to someone. Then he gives me some advice and goes away.” She shrugged. “Just some fool stupid dream from my subconscious.”

No one was quite sure how to react. DeFrantis just reached out and put a kind hand on Thissraelle’s shoulder.

“What did he look like?” Antonerri asked, thoughtful.

“What?” Thissraelle shook her head back to the moment.

“What did he look like?” he repeated, then, “How was he dressed?”

“Oh, well, uh, he had silvery armor. It was nice, but it was scratched and dented a lot, like he’d been in battle for years. He wore a tunic over it, a lot like the one you used to wear, and the ones the brothers here have, with the three lights symbol on it. Like I said, it’s just a silly dream.”

Antonerri shook his head. “No, it’s not.”

All of the group shifted their eyes to him. “He appeared to me, too.”

Thissraelle’s heart skipped at this revealation.

“I was helping the brothers tend the sheep in the hills and meadows east of the forest. This was not long after we returned from the summerfest. As I wandered, trying to keep an eye on all of the herd, this knight rode up and greeted me, introducing himself as Ivarr. He was dressed as you described. I assumed he was travelling to Twynne Rivers, so I pointed him to the path, to the main road. He dismissed that, and we talked.”

Eddiwarth pressed, “Talked? About what?”

Antonerri hesitated, and looked at DeFrantis, “He said that certainly the Creator was pleased with what I had done to help free the children. He blessed me to have a happy life.” Antonerri took DeFrantis’ other hand. “Then he bowed in his saddle and rode away.”

He continued, “It left me feeling both wonderful and a bit confused. Later, the brothers celebrated the feast of Saint Ivarr and I wondered.” He looked directly at Thissraelle. “But this happened to me in the middle of the waking day. This was not a dream. It was real.”

Thissraelle looked at each of their faces, feeling the kindness, and knowing what she had to do. She saw them looking to her for a decision. Am I their leader? The strongest leader is better the servant.

She took a deep breath and straightened in her chair. “So, I guess we go after Karendle. She is one of us, and she will need our help.”


<<<>>>



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!
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

116 - “Not Much Help” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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The evening sun was tossing its last rays over the horizon and past the trees, barely making the trip through the monastery’s open windows to dimly illuminate the shelves along the walls in the library. Crickets and tree frogs sang a quiet chorale of chirps and whistles that faded into Thissraelle’s empty mind. She slumped low in the large, cushioned chair, with her legs crossed up in front of her. She had so much to think about, so many questions that she’d been asking herself all day. Now, she was tired of it all.

She mindlessly twirled her hair around her finger, then unwound it. Twirling, then unwinding. Granthurg will be up here soon, right? I need to sort through all of this. He’ll help me clear it all up in my head. She smirked and laughed to herself. Hopefully, Eddiwarth won’t try to bring me dinner again!

She let go of her hair and waved a pointed finger in the air. A small point of light formed above it, and slowly rose, shining around her and brightening the room a bit. Absently, she swung it back and forth with her finger, making the shadows in the room sway. He called me a Wizard of Light. Nobody’s named me a wizard, before. At least, I can’t remember it. The only other times I’ve been called a wizard is by people who are afraid of me.

She dropped her hand to her knee, and let the light fade out. For now, she preferred the dark.

The door clicked open and a ray of lantern light swung into the library as Granthurg stepped in. He paused for a moment when he saw her sitting there, waiting for him, then said, “I was hoping I’d find you here. Everyone missed you at dinner.”

She smiled. “Yes. I’ve been hiding today.”

Granthurg stepped in and carried his lantern to the table near her. He shifted some of the books on the table and set the lantern down. Thissraelle sat up in the chair as he approached, then asked, “Is everyone mad at me?”

He turned a raised eyebrow to her. “Mad? Why would we be mad at you?” He sat down in the chair next to hers, making it creak under his weight.

She shifted in her chair to face him. “For chasing Karendle away.”

“Did you?”

“I don’t know,” she sighed, and dropped her head to her hands. “She sure thought so. I was only trying to help her learn!”

Granthurg just shrugged, not knowing what to say.

“But now, only a day later,” she continued, “I miss her. I’m worried about her.”

The giant nodded his head in agreement.

“I mean, we fought a lot, and she frustrated me, but she’s one of us! She’s part of our team! I don’t trust those men she’s going to meet! She told me all about them! She’s going to get hurt! I know it! Should we let that happen!?”

“So, are you saying we should go find her, help her?” Was there a hint of something in his voice?

“Granthurg,” she whispered, “What are you saying?”

“Well,” he said, looking away, uncertain how to proceed. “Well--ah--honestly, I, myself, wouldn’t mind if we--uh, that is-- we went back to the city.”

Her face drew back in the dim. “Granthurg!”

“I would like to find out what happened to Rinkmorr!” Granthurg breathed the words out quickly.

“Go back!? Granthurg! I can’t go back to Twynne Rivers!” She was almost shouting. “The Wizard’s Guild has eyes all over! I would be locked up in that old tower in a heartbeat! And whatever happened to our plans? You were going to ferry me upriver! I still want to get to Emberfire!”

“I know, I know,” he muttered, “I just... I keep wondering...”

She slumped back in her chair and the two sat in sullen silence. She absently played with the hem of her shirt. He wiped his forehead.

“Do the others,” she said, with a shaking voice, “want to go, too?”

Granthurg shrugged. “I don’t know. Nobody has talked about it.”

She let out a long sigh. “Some team. Some leader.” She shook her head and mumbled, “The strongest leader is better the servant.”

“Hmmm?”

She looked back down and ran her hand through her hair. “Nothing. I heard it in some fool stupid dream.”


<<<>>>



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, April 8, 2019

115 - “Visitation” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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Thissraelle lay in her bed, her legs and feet tangled in her blankets. One hand draped across her belly, and the other wrist rested on her forehead. She stared up at the ceiling, feeling the weight of her limbs sinking deeper into the blankets and mattress below her. In the night’s stillness she could hear DeFrantis’ steady breathing and an occasional rustle of her blankets.

Most nights, if she were up, she would also hear an occasional snort or rasp from Karendle’s more distant mattress, at the other end of the dormitory room. Tonight, however, those familiar sounds weren’t there.

What a day. What a strange day. 

She rolled over onto her side, feeling her night dress twist a little across her hips. She reached down and pulled her blanket further up, shaking it loose of her leg. She also tried to shake out the exhaustion she felt.

Everyone had been awkward and quiet at dinner tonight. Even Granthurg and Eddiwarth were silent. She had noticed her friends glancing away as she looked around the table. There were words that had hung in the air, not being spoken. Finally, Thissraelle had just hung her head and stared at her food. It wasn’t pleasant, but it was also not as tense.

It felt so strange to not have Karendle there today.  

Karendle wasn’t a very social type of girl, and she was often by herself, but in the month and some since the battle, she had been part of the circle, part of the team. Thissraelle half expected her to just walk back in, like she had changed her mind, or as if nothing had happened. Thissraelle took a deep breath, held it, and slowly hissed it out. Her eyes began to droop, feeling heavy.

Soon she was asleep.

Dreams drifted through her mind on a river of cluttered water, washing images and ideas past her unconsciousness like flotsam in the flow. Her inner eye looked up from the stream, and she followed her gaze, floating farther and farther upward.

Soon she was aware of rain falling around her. She wore her traveling cloak, the one she’d had on that first night that she’d flown away from her tower, away from her home. It flapped and billowed away from her waist and her dress like a flag in the wind.

Lightning flashed, and she jumped. A loud clap of thunder followed, rumbling away into the distance. In the dim light, she saw clouds around her and rain pouring down. Lightning tore through the sky again, closer this time, and brighter, but she wasn’t startled. The noise was much louder, however, and made her ears ring momentarily.

She flew through the billows, turning left and right to find a path between the swirling clouds. Where am I? Where am I going? Am I even in control? She stopped flying and spun herself around to see. Yes, it seems I am. I can choose where I go. 

She floated, resting still in the clouds for a moment. Lightning continued to flash from cloud to cloud. So, where should I go?

A harsh crack and a blinding flash of brightness struck just before her, tossing her back and leaving her stunned. Her eyes filled with vivid white and she jerked her face away and shielded her sight with her hands.

As she relaxed her arms and opened her eyes, a man stood before her in the air. It was hard to look at him at first, as the radiance shining from his face was too strong. As she looked, however, she could make out his features, his eyes, his beard, and dark hair. He wasn’t particularly tall, nor muscular, but was clad in armor and a tunic. His tunic was white, and bore the three shining stars emblem that she had come to recognize. His armor also shone brightly, though it had many scratches, marks, and a few indentations. Before him, he held a broadsword, drawn, with the blade tip at his feet.

He nodded his head in a gentle bow. “Thissraelle, wizard of light,” he said in a deep, resonant voice.

She set her head back, with a quizzical look on her face. How does he know me? Who is this? 

“I am Ivarr. I have an important request of you.”

She drifted away a few feet, unsure of herself. This IS a dream, but I still need to be careful, right?

“What...,” she hesitated, “What is this request?”

His eyes looked deep into her. She could see his shoulders move as he breathed, and his lips move as he spoke. “It’s a message from the Creator. It’s important that you find the one named Heathrax. Tell him that the dragons stir.”

“What? ‘The dragon’s stir’? Just that?”

“Yes. Just that. He will know what to do.” His illumination dimmed a little, and clouds formed around his feet.

“Hey!” Thissraelle called out to him, “Not so fast! Where is he? How do I find him? I’m not an errand girl! I’m taking my team to Emberfire!”

Misty billows gathered around his arms and chest. “The Creator has much to teach you. Follow your path, but remember that the strongest leader is better the servant.”  He faded into the clouds.

“Come back here!” she shouted, “Come back! I’m not through yet! I have more questions!”

Another crack of lightning split the air around her and her eyes jerked open. The quiet darkness of the dormitory room rushed in on her. She glanced around, taking in the shadows of the familiar things in the room; the candelabras hanging from the ceiling, the tapestries on the walls, the moonlight coming in through the open window, the table against the wall. She noticed that her legs were stretched and tense, and she was gripping and twisting the blanket in her fists.

After another slow breath, Thissraelle eased the tension from her body and relaxed her grip. She slid her fingers through her hair, wiping away the sweat on her forehead.

Well, what on the Creator’s shaking earth does THIS mean?


<<<>>>



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 4, 2019

114 - “Dragon’s Servant” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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“Stuupid Humaan!” the dragon shouted with a deep and growling voice. It shook the chamber and cut in Tonklyn’s ears. He rolled away and scrambled across the floor, frantically looking for any cover he could find. He heard a deep growl and a rasping and retching sound come from behind him then a maelstrom of heat swept him over onto his side. His wide eyes looked at the space where he had just been and saw it engulfed in writhing flames. They spread out from the dragon’s mouth and rushed over the floor in an ever-widening circle of destruction.

Tonklyn struggled to his feet and ran. The light of the inferno illuminated the vast room, and he saw some barely discernible objects against a far wall. They might hide him. He ran toward them, his heartbeats pounding with his footsteps. The dragon behind him roared in rage.

As Tonklyn ran, he glanced back.  The dragon’s head swept across the room, looking for him. One of objects Tonklyn was approaching was a large, low table. He threw himself to the ground in front of it, sliding underneath. Quickly he shuffled his body to be fully under its cover. Only then did he dare to look.

The dragon was snorting and sniffing through the flames still burning on the floor and rugs where he had been. Can’t he see me? Didn’t he see me run? Tonklyn scooted himself further under the table, but not so far that he couldn’t see the beast.

The dragon swung his head back and forth across the floor, ignoring the fire, and sniffing as he went. “Whhere did youu go?” it rumbled. Finally it raised its head and roared in a fury, “I WILLL killl you!”  It reared back on its back legs and flexed its wings, while snaking its neck high into the upper reaches of the chamber. The motion of its wings fanned the flames below. Tonklyn felt a hot wave of pure terror rush over him. It tensed his back and shook his legs. He clenched his teeth to force himself not to release the scream he felt deep in his gut. He lay flat and hid himself in his arms, trying to become as small as possible in the dark under the table.

So this is how I die. 

He looked again, and dragon fell to his forelegs, smacking the ground with a shaking impact. It stretched its neck forward and Tonklyn saw its chest and belly shake, as if it was churning up something noxious deep inside. It closed its eyes, then retched and hacked more flames from its maw, sweeping back and forth across the room. Cushions, rugs, and tapestries in the room became covered in fiery spit. Smothering, painful heat washed over Tonklyn, making it difficult to see or breathe. The dragon raised its head, hot flaming drool running down its lower jaw and dripping onto the already burning floor.

“WHERRE ARE YOUU?”

Tonklyn didn’t dare move, and tried not to breathe. Was all that sweat from fear or the heat?

“I willl smmell you sooon ennough, and thenn I will find youu.”

Tonklyn found himself strangely fascinated by the dragon’s speech. He wondered how the humongous monster had learned common tongue. His heart was still pounding, but his mind was clearing. It shapes the words strangely. It must have learned it by study, not by interaction with humans.

Tonklyn crept forward a few inches. The fires still burned, but not as fiercely. The glow from the floor and walls lit the dragon from below and behind, giving him an awesome and even regal look. Tonklyn found himself transfixed. After all the years of reading about them, I finally actually get to see one! He studied the lines and shapes of its neck, wings, back and legs, vowing to sketch it accurately for the record. If I live, that is.

Well, if it can talk, then I can negotiate with it. He thought back on all of those years he had spent stroking the inflated egos of the sages in the library. That should help for something, shouldn’t it? 

But it’s right when it says it will find me eventually, anyway. It’s going to kill me. It will eat me alive. My wits are my only hope.

Tonklyn took a deep breath, for courage, then coughed out the smoky air. He slowly crept out from under the table and stood up. The heat from the fires all around him was painful, almost unbearable. Sweat ran down his neck in streams. Hands at his side, unthreatening, he raised his head to look at the gigantic dragon’s face. It drew back slightly, narrowing its eyes. If it could have shown a smirk of surprise, that would have been it.

Tonklyn took another breath. “Lies.”

“Whatt?” the dragon hissed.

“Everything I’ve read are lies. Or frail imaginings.” Tonklyn’s awestruck countenance was only partly forced. He tried to shape his voice into a breathy tone of wonder, while trying to control the shaky fear he still had knotted deep in his gut. He continued, himself surprised that the dragon hadn’t swept him dead already. “Dragons are clearly far more magnificent here, face to face, than the tomes of history had led me to believe.”

The dragon lowered his head and neck to within a few scant feet of Tonklyns chest, where his heart was palpitating with terror. The head was easily big enough bite him in half and swallow each part whole. Its breath intensified the heat around him. Tonklyn fought the instinct to break, to step back, or even to run, screaming, into the dark. Instead, he bowed his head, briefly, put on his most diplomatic face, then looked the dragon steadily and directly in the eyes.

“Whoo arre youu?” the dragon finally said.

“I am Tonklyn. A scholar. An apprentice to the sages of the great library of King Twynnham of Twynne Rivers.” That much is true, anyway. 

The dragon looked him over from several angles, sniffing and shifting. “And whhy havve youu come heere? Sspeak truuth or you diee wherre you staand.”

Now he’s intrigued. I’m on my way in. “I have been studying the reign and fall of the Great Dragon Kings, particularly Maxinn III. I found the records of this place, his palace, and I resolved to seek it out. What better way to learn of the King, than in the palace itself?” Still, all true. Mostly.  He tried to hide his nerves by walking back and hiking himself up to sit on the table, his legs casually crossed before him.

Tonklyn continued, “I had not expected to meet the new King. We had assumed the palace to be abandoned.” He bowed again. “It is indeed an honor. Am I fortunate to address Maxinn the IV?”

The dragon squinted at him, uncertain. He huffed out a puff of sulferous smoke, shifted his gaze again, then said, “I amm Kirraxal. The First.”

Tonklyn had smiled, then had jumped to his feet on the floor. “Then let me be the first,” he had said, sweeping to one knee, “to bow before the King.”

Tonklyn breathed in, coming out of his memories. He rested his head on the pillow of the bed in the Inn. After they had arrived at Twynne Rivers, they had easily found fine accommodations. With enough gold, things happen quickly. The room was warm and dark, the bed was soft, and the sheets were smooth.

Twynne Rivers may look like nothing here has changed, but everything has changed for me.


<<<>>>



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, April 1, 2019

113 - “Dragon Memories” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

As afternoon became twilight, the meadow trail that Tonklyn and his men had been following had merged onto the main road leading eastward into Twynne Rivers. Soon after, they rode by the shanties and shacks of the OuterWall quarter of the city. There were lantern lights shining out of windows onto the streets, but nothing outside to brighten the road itself, like the oculus lamps on the finer, cleaner streets of CenterTowne.

Tonklyn disliked that someone had to drive through these filthy and dangerous neighborhoods to get into the city proper. While it was true that there were City Guardsmen stationed at various points along the main road, trying to protect caravans going in and out, they didn’t pay much attention to smaller groups like his. And, though he had taken care to not dress in finery or his ministerial robes, they certainly didn’t look poor. At least his supports were well armed, and well trained.

What do I have to be afraid of, here? He laughed inside as they passed a few men standing outside of a small pub. I sleep near a dragon! One that frequently reminds me that he prefers the taste of human over cattle. Still, his eyes followed the men with caution as their horses clip-clopped down the dusty roadway.

So much had changed for him in those two years since he’d last been in the city. When he’d left, he had been a lowly apprentice to the sages, given his first journeyman’s task. Honestly, they had initially laughed at his request. Find the fabled Dragon Palace? Where? And what for? In the end, they had acquiesced.

But I knew what I was looking for. I had seen the histories. I had seen what everyone else had ignored. 

In the human histories, there was little mention of the plunder of the palace. Not much was found there after the fall of the Dragon King. Tonklyn had known there had to be more there. The Dragon King’s gold had been legendary. If it had been found, the histories would have mentioned it. It would have changed the course of the nations that followed. He had known that it had to be there, still, waiting for someone to find it.

Getting to the mountains had been hard enough. Then, he had hired a dwarven guide to take him to the palace. It had taken most of his remaining grant money, because no-one had been willing to go there. Even the one he’d hired would only take him half-way up the mountainside. The last miles had been rocky and treacherous. Sometimes hiking the slope, sometimes climbing over slippery rock, cold autumn winds in the higher altitude had made it even more bitter. But he  had finally climbed out onto the ledge that he had seen from so far below.

He rested a while in the mid-day sun, leaning against the rock wall at the back of the ledge, regaining his strength after scaling so far. Next to him was a large opening. It was not natural, like a cave, but carved like a huge doorway. The stones around the opening had been carefully shaped and placed, arched to support the upper reaches. They were chipped and weathered, then, and they had been intricate and beautiful hundreds of years ago.

Tonklyn lit a torch from his pouch and began exploring. The interior was vast and expansive, carved into the mountain with high ceilings and intricate archways. At times, his torchlight wouldn’t even reach the heights. Time and the weather hadn’t ruined things as much inside. It was dusty, and empty, but he could see its past splendor.

He remembered entering a large central chamber, deep in the mountain. His dim torch lit only a few feet into the interior. As he stepped in, he saw some glimmers of reflected light, and a large black mass of boulders. He wondered if the ceiling might have partially collapsed in the room.

Could the glimmer be the the treasure? His heart skipped at the thought. As he stepped forward, he heard a loud sniff, then a deeper snort. The blackened boulders shifted and rolled, scraping loudly across the stone floor. Tonklyn thought to run, but his feet were frozen in fear.

He could see the stones shifting, and saw that they weren’t stone, but muscles, covered in black, scaly skin. Legs stretched out, and stamped onto the floor. A long, snaking neck swept around, and suddenly Tonklyn was staring into the eyes and jaws of an enormous black dragon. Its nose was was only a few feet from Tonklyn’s chest and it sniffed at him, growling. The fear of imminent death swept like a chilled wind over Tonklyn’s skin. The dragon drew its horned head back, away from Tonklyn, opened its hot and spiked-toothed mouth wide, and breathed in, deeply.

A scream ripped from Tonklyn’s chest, and he dropped to his knees, with his face to the floor, covering his head with his hands, and prayed that his death would be quick.


<<<>>>



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!
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Thursday, March 28, 2019

112 - “The Dragon Scholar” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

As Tonklyn's horse nosed out of the woods and onto a gently sloping and rolling meadow, the mid afternoon sun was already casting shadows of the tall trees of the Umbrawood Forest before him. He nudged his horse forward, then stood still to look ahead. Three other riders followed out of the trailhead in the woods, and waited beside him.

The grasses of the meadow were mostly green, but yellowing slightly in the summer sun, spotted with red and blue wildflowers. An occasional tree or rock outcropping broke up the trail. Below them, in the far distance, they could see the city of Twynne Rivers, surrounded by a ring of shanties and farmland. To the north and to the south, they saw the two branches of the Wynne River, called the Lesser, and the Greater, respectively, flowing into the city where they merged, giving the land a name and livelihood.

Tonklyn breathed in, allowing himself a moment of memories. It had been several years since he had left the city, and he hadn't been back since. It looks like nothing has changed, but everything has changed for me.

“We can probably be there before dark,” one of the riders near Tonklyn suggested, to prompt him into motion.

“Yes. We can.” Tonklyn signaled his horse with his legs and started ahead down the trail. It wasn't really much of a trail. Months of disuse had allowed the grass to overgrow the path, but it could still be seen.

Tonklyn had never liked riding, or traveling at all. He had always been accustomed to living and staying in one place. For his childhood and youth, that had been Twynne Rivers.

He had been apprenticed after ten winters to the librarians and historians in King Twynnham's council halls. For two years, he had swept and scrubbed the floors, dusted the tables, and polished the metalwork all day while learning to read at night. Then they taught him how to file the books, scrolls, maps, and records, and he became a page, fetching and reshelving whatever the great sages of the King demanded.

His eyes swam with images remembered as his horse walked down the meadow.

As he grew in the library, his education had continued, and he learned how to scribe for the sages. They had required him to stand for hours at a time at small and narrow tables built into the walls and shelves of the library. There, he had written as the sages had dictatef the ideas and conclusions of their studies. Words of philosophy, history, and geography had flowed from his pens as the greatest minds of the kingdom spoke. Tonklyn had absorbed it all, fascinated.

The scribe's nooks were scattered throughout the huge library, and the sages had often paced up and down the shelves, forcing Tonklyn to scoop up the papers and scurry to the next nook to keep up and continue writing.

Afterwards, he had spent hours compiling and copying the pages so they could be cataloged, shared, and further debated by the others. Often, one of the wise men would dictate something that confused him. When that happened, Tonklyn would dig out other works from deep in the stacks and study the topic until he understood.

Despite all of the shelving, searching, and chasing, the work in the library had been mostly sedentary, and, since it was the Royal Library, they had all been fed well. During this time in his life, his belly had begun to fill the robes of the the scribe, just as his mind filled the role. He hadn't paid any attention to that, however. He’d been focused on learning.

As Tonklyn and his men rode on through the afternoon, he recognized shapes in the spires and towers of the city. Twynne Rivers was truly a vast and expansive mass of populace.

One topic that had come up repeatedly in the histories was the reign and fall of the Dragon Kings. It had fascinated him. Some historians regarded that era as glorious, civilized, and noble, and others labeled it tyrannical and oppressive. I guess it all depends on who’s writing the book. 

Tonklyn had read them all, obsessed, particularly as he read of the dragon’s decline. None of the histories had been clear on what had led to it. Over the course of a few years, Dragons had interacted with their subjects less and less, isolating themselves. Finally, the various races of mankind, the humans, elves, dwarves, and giants, had all banded together and slain the Dragon King. His wyrmkind ministers and nobles had all been slaughtered, and his palace hold in the western mountains had been laid waste and plundered, and what remained of his treasure had been scattered.

By late afternoon, the meadow trail brought his travelling party near the southern Greater Wynne River. He smiled as the breezes brought him its familiar smell. He recalled travelling on that river. Two years ago, he had applied for, and been granted, a Field Research Quest, to find the lost and abandoned palace of Maxinn III, the final Dragon King. He had left the city on a westbound barge, flowing upriver, driven by the nature powers of the riverman giant, heading to the mountains the Giants called “Dragon’s Teeth”. How appropriate! All of the scholars had seemed to assume that was because of the tall, sharp peaks towering into the clouds, like teeth with smoky breath. Tonklyn had known better.

He had sailed up the river, traversed the mountains, and found the palace.

It was, however, not lost, nor was it abandoned.



<<<>>>



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!
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Monday, March 25, 2019

111 - “Bread in the Bell Tower” - Parith - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

There was no bell in the bell tower of the abandoned chapel. That was probably a good thing for Parith and Korr. It allowed them a little more room in the tiny space. Well, Parith had been comfortable stretched out there that night. That was, once all of the bird's nests and cobwebs had been cleared away. Korr was a lot taller, so his side had probably been a bit more cramped.

Parith hadn’t slept very well the previous night. Some homeless squatters must have been fighting in the chapel below. The noise had jarred him awake.

Parith sat, leaning with casual ease against the wall under the large window-like opening. Each wall had one, presumably for the sound of a great bell to call out to worshippers all over the neighborhood. Did they take the bell out? Maybe they never had one. A chapel out in the Outer Wall Quarter might not have had enough tithes to get one.

He dropped his gaze from the rafters of the steeple to Korr, sitting cross-legged opposite him. Korr's eyes were closed and his face was tranquil. It was late in the morning. The sun overhead brightly lit the rooftops surrounding the tower, but the interior was mostly in shade.

Parith picked up one of the loaves next to him and tore it in half. Then he broke off a smaller piece and stuffed his mouth.

After a moment, Korr opened his eyes and stretched out his legs. Parith smiled and tossed the other loaf to him. Korr held it up, sniffed it deeply, then gave a quizzical look at Parith.

“Yes, I paid for it!” He said with a slightly defensive tone. Korr's expression didn't change. If anything, he looked more skeptical. Parith persisted, “I did! I believe, in situations like this, the proper response to being given good food is: ‘Thank you’.”

Korr nodded, and said, “Yes. Thank you.” He also began eating.

After another bite, Parith studied his new companion. “So, tell me more about this ‘Heathrax’ man you're searching for.”

“I really don't know much at all.”

“Where is he?”

“I don't know that either.” Korr broke off a bit of bread. “In the progress of my studies, my learning, it is my time of questing. My master gives me a task, and I must go and complete it. Then I return to the dojo and report what I have learned.”

Parith laughed. “So, you just agreed to take this message, whatever it is, to someone you don't know, who is in a place you don't know where?”

“Yes.” Korr said resolutely, “For my master.”

“How?” Parith laughed again, “How are you supposed to find him?” He took another bite of bread.

Korr nodded. “My master teaches that all things are connected. The world is whole, a complete round. Thus, any road that you walk will eventually lead to where you need to be.”

Parith finished his loaf. “It sounds to me like your master is just getting his servants to go do his busy work.”

“He is not my master like a slave holder. He is my master teacher.” Korr dusted off the crumbs and stood. “Come.”

“Where? To look for this Heathrax?”

“Yes. But first we must pay for the bread you stole.”


<<<>>>



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!
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

110 - “Trouble for Bread” - Parith - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

In the previous part: Thissraelle, a young high elf wizard, has spent much of the summer trying to teach Karendle how to find her own powers. It hasn't gone so well. In the meantime, her giant friend, Granthurg, is worried about what might have happened to his river barge captain. Antonerri and DeFrantis seem to be settling in caring for the monastery's orphans, the kids they had rescued from the Dragon's Flame, but she's been having horrible nightmares. Even though Eddiwarth is having some conflicted feelings toward Thissraelle, he seems to be more adept at sparking her ire than catching her eye.

Back in Twynne Riverns, Parith Laren, a wood elf rogue, has met up with Mann Korr, a strange man that fights with his feet and bare hands.

While all of this is going on, the dragon Kirraxal is planning something big for Twynne Rivers!

<<<>>>


Part 9

Returning!

<<<>>>

“Pardons, friend.” Parith stepped aside, allowing an older woman to cross his path, before continuing on along the side of the street. He had an excited, almost cheerful gait, and chuckled to himself as she grumbled complaints in passing. It was mid-morning, and already quite warm. The narrow, dusty streets of the Outer Wall were busy with people. Most were poor peasants trying to get onto their daily lives, finding a job they could do or spending the previous day's wages on the food and produce they needed for today's meals. 

Parith glanced ahead. There's the woman I saw earlier, further up the street. She was dressed in a plain brown dress, trying to guide two small children toward a gourd vendor sitting on a blanket. Parith's eyes bounced to the other side of the street. That man in the doorway is still there. He wore a grey tunic, looking down at his dusty bare feet.

There's not a lot of color here in the Outer Wall. Maybe it's just the dust we're all kicking up. The street sloped up a little bit, and a thin scraggly dog trotted by him. No City guards around, either. At least, none that I can see right away.

This was the third time he'd walked this section of the street, watching, listening, carefully checking. From ahead he began to smell the bread. There we go.

The rising road leveled and bent slightly to his right, and as he turned with it, he saw the bread vendor. He was an older man, with two small stools. He sat on one, and the other held a big basket piled full of golden loaves. Parith picked up his pace slightly, crossing to the vendor's side of the road. No guards near, and no other buyers in the way...

The old vendor glanced down at his sandal and bent over, reaching to adjust the strap. There's the moment! Go!

Parith jumped into a run. As he passed the basket, he snatched two loaves from the top of the stack. He tucked them into the open folds his shirt and dodged between two passers-by.

“Hey! My bread!” The old man's voice called out down the street, “Someone stop that thief!”

There should be an alleyway up here on the left. Are those footsteps behind me? Others looked on as he rushed past. There is is! Am I being followed?

Like a summer breeze stirring up leaves, he spun and slipped into the alley. In a moment, he crouched down behind a pair of large barrels there.

He held his breath for a moment, listening for any footsteps. I'd better not stay here long...

His eyes focused on the building across the alley. It was a sturdy structure, made of beams and brick. The building he was hiding against was taller, two stories. I can get up there, easy.

He heard shouting from the street. I'd better go now. He popped his head up above the barrel. He didn't see anyone in the alley, but the shouting was getting louder.

With a quick grunt, he jumped up onto the barrels. Now he could hear footsteps as well as blades being drawn.  He squatted low and leaped across, pushing hard, then pulling up his feet. He hit the upper wall of the opposite building, but there were no holds. He planted his feet against the wall and pushed upward and back across the alley, twisting in the air. Now, grab!

He flung his hands forward and grabbed the lowest edge of the roof he had originally been under. His right hand landed on a loose ceramic tile, and slipped free. The other gripped securely, however, and he held on, dangling.

They're coming! Quick! Do it just like in the forest! Parith swung his legs up and hooked his knee and shin up onto the roof's edge. The slope made it difficult, but he pulled himself up and flipped over, lying flat on his back. He gently scooted his body away from the edge and he heard shouts and footsteps below.

Ok, maybe not as much like the forest... Parith held his breath until the commotion faded away. He checked the bread in his shirt. Still there, not smashed. Good.

After a moment, it went quiet. Voices became more distant, things returned to normal. He turned over, knelt on the roof slope, and snuck up to the crown. He peeked over the edge of the roof down onto the street. Everyone below had returned to their business, uncaring.

He smiled and nodded, then stood and walked across the rooftop.


<<<>>>



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 18, 2019

109 - “Jabbing the Hornet’s Nest” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

Eddiwarth walked with careful steps down the hallway to the library, trying hard not to spill either the ale in the tankard in his left hand, or the food piled up in the plate in his right. After the meal, he had put a plate together to take to Thissraelle. He wasn't sure what she would want from the meal, so he had just loaded it up with a bit of everything. He had wanted to take it to her, but she hadn't been in their dormitory. DeFrantis had said that she would sometimes spend the evening in the library with Granthurg.

Granthurg? Eddiwarth actually snorted. Why Granthurg? I'm a handsome guy, aren't I? He held up the tankard to his face to try and check his reflection. The curve of the cup made his nose look really big. He snorted again. Well, anyway, I am! Besides, I'm an elf. Well, half of me is, anyway...

In a moment, he stood in front of the door, and suddenly realized that he couldn't open it with his hands full. He tried to shift either the plate or the huge mug into one of his arms, but quickly abandoned that idea. Shaking earth, how am I going to do this?

Balancing for a moment on one foot, he tentatively raised the other to tap his shoe on the baseboard of the door. It banged loudly, and he almost lost his balance in surprise. Oop! Too hard!

He heard familiar heavy footballs behind the door, and it opened quickly with a short squeak. Granthurg stood there, towering over Eddiwarth.

Eddiwarth smiled with a bit of embarrassment and held up the food. “Hi! Sorry to bother you. Is Thissraelle in there?”

Granthurg smiled down at him and stood aside. Eddiwarth stepped in, glancing around the room. She was sitting in one of the large, comfortable chairs deep in the long library. She slouched low, unlike her normal high, straight posture, and her eyes were full and even a bit red, and hidden behind a bit of her white hair. Near where she sat was a table covered in books and scrolls. The yellow sun of the early evening was gradually turning red, and shone through the windows, keeping the room well-lit.

Eddiwarth hesitated, taking in a sharp breath, then walked up and showed her the meal. “We missed you at dinner. Are you hungry?” She looked up at him and managed a sort of half-smile. He held the plate for a moment, but she didn't stand, so he looked for a place to set it. He nudged a book aside with his elbow, clearing a space on the table, then set his burdens down. Granthurg hurried over to move the books away from the possible spill.

“Karendle's not up here, either, huh?” Eddiwarth asked. “She wasn't downstairs in your sleeping room. I checked for you there first.”

Thissraelle and Granthurg glanced at each other, then back at Eddiwarth.

“What?” He asked, “Where is she?”

Thissraelle dropped her head. After a pause, Granthurg explained, “Karendle left today.”

“What?”

“Yeah, she and Thissraelle had another argument, and she picked up her things and left. I guess she’s heading back to Twynne Rivers.”

Eddiwarth was surprised. But then, they’re constantly bickering over things; magic, duties, room space... Maybe I’ll finally get some time with just Thissraelle. He strode over to the chairs and dropped into the one next to her. “So, did you finally drive her away?”

Thissraelle looked at him, her brows knit and her eyes wide and a bit firey.

Oh, no. What did I just say?

“I didn’t drive her away!”

“Well, you two are always mad at each other!”

Thissraelle gasped. “I’m trying to help her!” She stood up, bending over Eddiwarth. He sank down low in the chair, avoiding her glare.

“Yeah, well, it didn’t seem to be working out...” he stammered, shielding himself, “I mean, didn’t she say she was trying to capture you?”

“SO WERE YOU!” She was close, shouting in his face.

“Yeah, but, I apologized...,” he mumbled.

She grunted with frustration and turned her back, looking at Granthurg for support. He only shrugged and gestured at Eddiwarth. Thissraelle shook her hair. Her hands tensed in fists at her side.

Eddiwarth took in a breath to try and break the unnatural silence. He sat up a bit, then suggested, “I brought you some dinner...”

“Oh, by the Creator--” Thissraelle hissed, and strode out of the library. The door swung loose after her.

Eddiwarth lowered his arms, and glanced down the narrow library, then looked up at Granthurg. The giant raised an eyebrow and folded his arms before him.

Eddiwarth stood up and straightened his shirt. “That didn’t quite play out how I’d planned it.”


The End of Part 8


<<<>>>



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!
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

108 - “Empty Chairs at the Table” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

The brothers of the monastery had been in a happy, celebratory mood. It wasn’t often that there was an occasion for such a big meal. Not that any other meal wasn’t time for good company. The abbey wasn’t one of the harsh, austere orders, with oaths of poverty, silence, and sorrow. Still, tonight’s feast was particularly brisk with laughter and conversation. The Father Abbott led the feast, frequently calling for more trays of the venison to be brought out, and praising the brothers that had roasted them.

Eddiwarth ate, and even enjoyed the food. He’d helped prepare it and serve it, as it was his turn for kitchen duty. Not that he’d had an important role. He had mostly just peeled potatoes and carrots. Slicing the onions had proven to be a particularly emotional experience, or at least so the brothers had teased.

Where could she be? Every time there was any kind of motion near the main door of the hall, Eddiwarth’s head snapped to look. Each time, he was disappointed. Either a monk was just walking past it, or someone was leaving to do an errand for the Father Abbott.

He stared down into his almost empty bowl, wondering.

“More ale?”

He didn’t respond at first, not realizing someone had spoken to him.

“Hey!” someone nudged his shoulder. Eddiwarth looked. It was Granthurg. “More ale?” he said, offering the pitcher.

Eddiwarth shook himself back to the moment. “Sure,” he responded, but without enthusiasm.

Granthurg set the pitcher down in front of Eddiwarth, and pushed his chair back, getting ready to stand. Eddiwarth looked around, suddenly aware that dinner was ending, and many of the brothers had gone on with their evening. The monks of the day's kitchen crew were starting to gather plates and the meal’s remnants. He hadn’t even noticed that Antonerri and DeFrantis weren’t sitting there any more. He reached and picked up the pitcher that Granthurg had left, but didn’t pour. He set it back down.

“She didn’t come.”

Granthurg paused, not hearing. “What?”

“She didn’t come to dinner.”

“Who? Thissraelle? Karendle? No, I didn’t see either one.” Granthurg stood. “Is something wrong?”

“No, I guess not. It’s just that...”

“What?”

I wonder what happened. I guess it’s not so strange that they would miss a meal, but... Eddiwarth looked around, then finally stood. One of the monks nudged him, gesturing toward the table and the plates. He nodded and began his cleanup duties. Granthurg shrugged, slapped him on the back, and left the table.

I hope nothing’s wrong. Maybe I’ll make her a plate after cleanup. He pushed back his own chair and began stacking bowls from the table around him.


<<<>>>



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!
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Monday, March 11, 2019

107 - “Late to Dinner” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

“Dinner’s ready!” Eddiwarth proclaimed, bursting through the door from the kitchen. “Roast venison with potatoes and cabbage!” His thin, mostly elvish frame was covered in a long apron, which was damp, dirty, and scattered with vegetable peelings. He had pulled his hair back to keep it out of his eyes, and out of the food as he’d worked. In his arms, he carried flat baskets full of bread loaves into the large hall and set them on the table. Behind him came several of the brother monks bearing steaming trays and bowls full of meat and vegetables. The final two brothers brought out pitchers of ale.

The other brethren of the order sat, eagerly waiting, on either side of the long table. Next to them were Granthurg on one side, and Antonerri and a very tired DeFrantis on the other. Eddiwarth pulled his chair up next to Granthurg, between him and the monks.

“Venison!” The Giant shouted, taking a deep smell as the tray of seasoned meat was carried past him. “What’s the occasion?” The brothers set the trays and bowls on the table, then turned to retrieve more.

One of them paused on the way. “It’s the feast of St Ivarr! Our Father Abbot will be celebrating a special Mass at midnight, but now, we feast!” He hurried after his companions, to bring out more food.

Granthurg looked quizzically at one of the monks seated next to Antonerri. “Who was St Ivarr?”

The brother smiled broadly. “He’s a Defensor Creator, or a Champion of the Creator, and the patron saint of our order! Once a year we celebrate his great sacrifice by feasting, prayer, and a special service in the chapel!”

DeFrantis looked confused. “A celebration? Nobody mentioned this before!”

“Oh, yeah.” Eddiwarth jumped in, “While we were making dinner, the brothers were all talking about it. I guess he’s kind of an unpopular saint.”

A brother said, “Many, many years ago, he saved the Church of Three Lights from an evil demon who was trying to take it over! He died fighting for the Lights.” Antonerri’s eyebrows rose in interest, before the monk continued, “But in recent years, the church councils and archbishops have kind of disgraced him, swept him aside. But we, here, in the woods... We remember what he did. So, we don’t make a big fuss about it, but we feast!”

Eddiwarth smiled, shrugging. “So, what is he the saint of?”

The Father Abbot and his assistants entered the dining hall, brown robes flowing. In instant, everyone jumped to their feet. As he rose, the brother whispered with a smile, “He’s the patron saint of heretics!”

The monks all stood with their heads bowed and their hands before them in a praying posture with the right hand’s palm cupped over the back of the left. Antonerri did it as well. After a moment, DeFrantis joined them.

The Father Abbot began pronouncing a blessing in a language Eddiwarth didn’t understand. Eddiwarth glanced over at Granthurg, who simply bowed his head. They were guests of the monastery, and were not required to participate in the rituals, but sometimes Eddiwarth wondered. Does Granthurg actually believe in The Creator? Maybe he’s just being respectful. Antonerri obviously does. He goes right along with it all. DeFrantis, I don’t know. 

The priest finished the prayer, and pronounced, “Salvator, Servus, Sui.” As each of the words was spoken, the monks held their right palms forward, first, before their heads, then to the right and slightly lower, and finally, with the final word, to the left and just a bit lower still, mimicking the placement of the three lights in the Church's heraldry. Eddiwarth watched as Antonerri followed the pattern. Yeah, he believes it, that’s for sure. I wonder if--Wait--Where’s Thissraelle?

The ritual complete, all of the monks sat and began sharing the food around the tables. The friends did also, except for Eddiwarth.

“Hey, where are the other two girls?” He pointed to the empty spaces next to Granthurg and DeFrantis, where Thissraelle and Karendle usually sat.

Granthurg shrugged. “Oh, I’m sure the ladies,” he said, raising his brows at the emphasis, “will be along soon. Here! Sit down. Have some potatoes.” He handed a bowl to Eddiwarth.

Yeah. Maybe they’re just running late...


<<<>>>



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!
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Thursday, March 7, 2019

106 - “I’m Gone” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

Karendle stepped into the long chamber. The monks, unaccustomed to guests, and even less accustomed to female visitors, had given the three of them this large room in the monastery to be their dormitory. It was long and narrow, with a few chairs and a table right by the door. Further in, along the left, lay three straw mattresses covered with blankets. The back wall had two large windows, which were both currently open, allowing in the occasional hot breeze of the summer afternoon.

Karendle walked in. The first bed was DeFrantis’, then Thissraelle’s. The third was her own. Looking them over, she laughed to herself. Thissraelle, the young high elf, had left her bed in pristine condition, sharply spread and made as if no-one ever slept in it. The blankets and sheets were neatly and tightly tucked under, protecting her sanctuary. Her belongings were not visible, presumably packed neatly away in the trunk next to the bed. Karendle mused that if she were to look inside, she’d see that all of the clothes were neatly folded and carefully stacked.

DeFrantis’ bed, on the other hand, was made, but quickly thrown together. Not really messy, but made like someone who hadn’t slept well, and was more interested in getting to her morning brew and her day’s tasks than making sure things were too neat and tidy.

Karendle stood by her own bed and sighed. The blankets were draped, half on the floor, half off the mattress. Her pillow had fallen between the mattress and the trunk, which was, itself, strewn with the clothing she had worn the day before. One of her sandals lay near the trunk, but the other was several feet away, under a small stool by the window.

She nodded. It’s no wonder I don’t fit in here.

She picked up her blanket and whipped it open onto her bed. She tossed her clothes from the trunk to the blanket, then opened the trunk to remove what few other things she owned. There wasn’t much. Some leggings, another shirt. A cloak, a tunic. She fetched the sandals. All of these went onto the blanket.

She reached under the mattress and pulled out a scabbard and belt. It was made of strong, finely-tooled leather, and had been fitted to her own waist, made for her by the monks of the monastery. They had said it was in gratitude for her help rescuing the children, and as an act of kindness as their guest. She pulled the sword out and held it. She had taken it from the slavers, and kept it as they had fled the manor house in the forest after the rescue. She thought about the days she had spent imprisoned there, along with DeFrantis, chained to a post.

She slid the blade back into the scabbard. She stood and swung the belt around her waist. On the other hip was a small rondel dagger. This was the blade that DeFrantis had pulled from Karendle’s side, saving her life. She shook these thoughts out of her head.

I have to get out of here.

Karendle folded the edges of the blanket over each other, then began tightly rolling it up.

“What are you doing?” Thissraelle’s voice cut through the quiet room.

Karendle jumped up as if she had been caught stealing tarts from the kitchen. She didn’t respond, but continued rolling her blanket.

Thissraelle walked in. She was not tall, even for an elf, and her thin and angular face was framed by long, whispy, light-colored hair. Karendle was muscular and stocky, and she knew that if it came to a physical fight, the elf would be no match. Still, Karendle felt a bit intimidated. She focused on tying the blanket bundle with some twine.

“Are you... leaving?” Thissraelle asked, looking at the sword on Karendle’s hip, and the empty trunk, “What...? Where are you going?”

Karendle tied off the blanket. “I’m going to Dirae,” She mumbled, half to herself, “Then, I’ll get on a barge back to Twynne Rivers. I’ll be out of your way.”

“What? Why?”

Karendle stood and tossed the bundle over her shoulder. Her eyes narrowed as she faced Thissraelle. “I have business there!”

“Business? What business?”

Karendle just moved past Thissraelle, toward the door. Thissraelle took in a sharp breath as she realized where Karendle was going. “Karendle! The wizard hunters?”

Karendle stopped and turned around. “Why not? It’s not like I’m learning anything from you! I’m trying what you tell me, but it isn’t working! You don’t get it. I didn’t grow up in the heart of the guild with magic all around me. Life is very different in the mountains! Life is very different for the dwarves!”

Karendle saw Thissraelle’s eyes widen, then go harsh. “I never said anything about--”

Karendle stopped her with a wave of her hand. “I think you’re right. I don’t think I’m cut out to be a mage. Not on my own, anyway.”

She strode out of the room, leaving Thissraelle with her hands out in stunned silence.


<<<>>>



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 4, 2019

105 - “Rocks and Stones” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Karendle let out a guttural grunt as she twisted, throwing her arm in a sweeping circle. A large boulder of limestone flew through the air before her and smashed into a steep rock wall at her left. It shattered into pieces, falling and scattering across the floor of the old quarry. The sound of the stones tumbling on the ground and splashing into the water echoed off the tall straight walls around her.

She looked down at her hand, at the small blue sapphire in her palm. Her breath was quick, her heart pounding hot in her ears. She tightened her fingers and gripped the stone in a fist. With a sharp, fast motion, she pointed at another stone from among those that had been left there on the ground. She felt the tingling power in the gem and willed the larger stone before her to rise. It surged up into the air, shedding the moss, decayed leaves and sticks that had been resting on it. It was a large, roughly carved block, rectangular in shape. She brought her other hand forward, as if gripping it between them. She growled from deep in her throat, and pushed her hands and arms away from her. The block rushed away, following her shove and smashing into another wall. The block cracked in half, and fell down into the water below in two large splashes, with many more smaller stones and chips following.

She didn’t need to shout or grunt. This was not a physical exertion. She threw these boulders with her mind, channeled with the power of the oculus gem in her hand. But making the effort loud helped to dissipate the frustration clouding her mind.

She stood on the edge of the quarry, breathing deep. She was a bit short, even for most women, but taller than most full-blooded dwarves. Her long red hair draped over her right shoulder in a braid. She wore a brown shirt that came down almost to the knees of her leggings, and tied at the waist. She kicked her boots against a stone, knocking it off the edge and into the water.

The quarry was cut into the side of a hill, deep in the forest near the monastery. The gray walls like a giant wound in the woods. It was old, and crusty, but never quite healed. She saw a large block resting on the floor below her and to her right, half-submerged in the pool. She glared at it, furrowing her brow and clenching her teeth. I can move you! I can shatter you, too! 

With a sweep she raised her hands high above her head, and the rock shook, but didn’t follow. The water around it sloshed and rippled, laughing at her.

You WILL move!

She reset her feet, strong, underneath her, repositioned her arms, and with a scowl and a scream, threw the rock up into the air over the quarry, high up above her head, into the canopy of tree branches.

The motion of throwing her arms had shifted her hips, and she slipped on the mossy stone ground, toppling over and landing on her side with a grunt. The block paused at the height of the throw, then fell back. It splashed hard into the water at the end of the quarry and sprayed the walls, and Karendle, with slimy green wetness.

She sat up and looked out over the quarry. It was cut almost like a theater, with the three slightly sloping stone walls facing her. She sat as if on the stage. Below her, and between her and the walls, was a shallow pit, filled with rainwater, now recollecting, at one end. She came here often to practice her magic, moving these stones around. This was where, many years ago, nature powered mages had broken stones away to build the chapel and walls of the monastery where she was living, along with her friends.

Friends. She laughed to herself. These people aren’t my friends!

As soon as she thought that, she knew it wasn’t true. She drew up her knees and dropped her forehead to them. That was just her anger talking. Her frustration.

“Find your will! Find it in your core!” Thissraelle had said. Karendle had been trying to move barrels around the courtyard, using her own mental powers. “See? Like this!” Thisraelle had gestured with her wrist and a large barrel had easily slid along the walkway.

Find it in your core! What in the earth does that mean? No matter how Karendle tried, the only way she could make the magic happen was when she used the oculus. She wanted to learn. She wanted to do it, but her lessons with Thissraelle always seem to end in arguments, in shouting.

She sighed and looked up. She brushed a bit of the pool water off of her cheek. She’s right. I’ll never learn this. I’ll never be a true mage.

She looked at the blue gemstone in her hand. Maybe this is the only way I can do magic. 

She reached to the pouch on her belt, pulled it off, and opened it up. She tossed out the other two stones onto the ground before her. Two smooth but dull gray stones of granite. These were for dimensional powers. I hardly even know what that means, yet.

She set the blue oculus with them. That one gave her mental powers, the ability to move things and see things with her mind. At one point she’d had a ruby, and had used that for striking blasts of magical energy. She’d lost that one when she’d been stabbed by the thief in the slave market.

She looked the stones over. I need more of these. I need another red one, and maybe one of light, or a nature stone. Granthurg has one of those on the barge. Maybe he knows where I can get one.

She picked up one of the gray dimensional stones. I used this one to trap that wizard. I guess he’s still in there, somewhere. When they gave me these stones, they promised me more if I were to bring them captured wizards.

She scooped them all up and put them back in the pouch. She stood and took a deep breath. They wanted me to capture Thissraelle. She sighed the breath out. But she is my friend, after all.

Isn’t she?

Karendle turned around and walked back toward the monastery.


<<<>>>



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, February 28, 2019

104 - “The Welcoming Dawn” - Antonerri - A Tale of Heroes

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

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The morning sunlight from the small window reached across Antonerri’s chamber and drifted down onto his shoulders. It didn’t take long for it to warm his face and cross the threshold his eyelids held for awakening.  He rolled over, yawned, and stretched before he sat up and raked his fingers back and forth through his hair.

He tossed off his blankets and stood, then sauntered over to the small table with the washbowl. He lifted the pitcher and filled the bowl. As it settled, he could see his reflection in the water. He rubbed his beard. It was coming in quite full. He turned his head from side to side, admiring it. Should I shave?

He wet and soaped a rag from the table and rubbed it all over his cheeks and chin, then picked up the razor next to the bowl, and dipped it in to wet it. As the water settled again, he looked at himself. I don’t know. DeFrantis says she likes it, but it itches, and it’s hot in the summer...

After a moment to consider, he closed the razor and dropped it on the table. He used the rag to wipe his face and clean himself off, then dressed.

He eased down the stairs into the galley, and nodded to the trio of monks who were starting to prepare the mushy grains that would become everyone’s breakfast. Antonerri was not fond of it, but it did help him start the day with a full belly and enough energy to get things done. Around their feet were buckets of fresh milk and baskets of eggs full from the early morning chores. He stepped toward the tables that he knew were at the other end of the room, then stopped.

DeFrantis was there, sitting, with her head leaning into one hand, propped up by her elbow on the table. She was hunched over a potteryware cup with dark brew steaming up into her face. Her hair was strewn into a mess and her eyes stared vacantly into the cup. Her shoulders drooped and her shirt was skewed, like she had not paid attention to how she had put it on.

Oh. She doesn’t look well. This was not how she normally looked at the table. Antonerri was usually there first, able to get the brew started and have her cup waiting for her. I’ll have to handle this delicately.

She didn’t move, didn’t seem to even notice as he approached and stepped behind her. He put his hands gently on her shoulders and leaned forward to kiss the top of her head. She stirred, raising her head and leaning back into him. He smiled, “Good morning, beautiful.”

DeFrantis groaned and sank back down. He kneaded the muscles in her shoulders for a second then turned to the pot to get his own cup of brew. He walked around, sat across from her, and took a tentative sip from his hot cup. “You don’t look like you slept well.”

“I thought you said I was beautiful.”

“Always.”

“I’m not feeling so beautiful today.” She took a longer sip. “You're right. I didn’t sleep well.”

“Another nightmare?”

DeFrantis nodded. “And Marisee also. The poor girl. She asked me to use the shadow. That got her back to sleep. But I remained awake.”

“Can’t you do that magic for yourself?”

DeFrantis sighed, “Yeah, and I have before. It’s very soothing in the moment, but it doesn’t last.” She sipped again, slurping. “In the end, it’s just easier to roll back over and try to sleep.”

Antonerri looked at her sad and exhausted face. His face of hope. The face that had saved him from himself. He smiled, in spite of the situation, and reached across the table to cover her hand in his.

She looked up at him, her eyes dripping. “Antonerri, you were a soldier. How do you do it?”

His brow tightened. “How do I do what?”

“How do you go on, live?” she sniffed. His look was still confused. She went on in a whisper full of shame, “I killed someone! I had a blade in my hand and I used it. I killed! Not just the one. There are others who are dead because of me! How do you ever get over that?”

He set down his cup and took her other hand in his, and looked deep into her pleading eyes. I can’t count how many times I’ve asked myself these same questions. “I wish I could tell you. I could say that I was just following the orders of my officers. I could remind you that you were fighting for the lives of frightened helpless children. I could remind you that the slavers and guards and wizards would have eagerly killed you, and almost did. I could tell you how wonderful it is that you can now be here, alive, with me, and be able to comfort a crying child in the night...”

He leaned in close. “But none of that really answers the question, does it?” She sighed and shook her head.

“I just carry on. I just keep going. The Creator hasn’t ended me yet, despite my best efforts, so there must be some reason. Maybe you’re that reason for me.”

She allowed herself a smile, then leaned into him for a kiss. She slowly stood, picked up her cup, and held out her hand before they walked back to the orphanage.


<<<>>>



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