Monday, October 14, 2019

168 - “Are You Ready?” - 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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“Are you ready?” Karendle asked. She held the glowing sapphire in her palms before her. She shivered as much from tension and fear as from the chilly room air. Thissraelle nodded. She placed her hands under Karendle’s, also feeling the glow. “If they drop even a hint that they sense you, get out!”

“Right.”

“OK, I’m opening it up.”

Karendle let her mind clear, and felt the warmth of the power slide up her arms and into her mind. She took in a deep, slow breath before thinking, I’m here.

Where have you been? You’ve not contacted us for a long time. The voice was deep and intense, even a little angry. Karendle recognized it as the elf called Illitharin. His image formed in her mind, shaped by her memory. He was thin, not tall, with a measured expression that always left her feeling unsafe.

I’ve been tracking the elf wizard, like you asked. It’s not been easy since you burned down the cathedral. Everyone’s been in hiding. She looked across at Thissraelle, who nodded encouragement.

And how is it going? Have you caught her?

Karendle hesitated. She didn’t want to let them in, but wanted to find out more. No. I have some good leads. I’m pretty sure she’s still in Twynne Rivers. At first I thought she’d gone back to Dirae. Thissraelle smiled, and Karendle returned it.

Good. Good. Keep at it. If you catch her, your bounty will be much higher. My masters have deep pouches, now, and they really want her. Thissraelle gave a smug, sarcastic smirk. Karendle rolled her eyes.

What’s so important about her, anyway? Why is she such a big deal? Thissraelle pretended to be miffed. Karendle smiled and shook her head.

That’s my master’s business, not yours.

Karendle shifted her legs on the bed. She decided to push. It’s the Wizard’s Guild, isn’t it? But weren’t they in on the cathedral job with you?

There was a silence in her mind. Karendle felt sweat on her forehead, in spite of the cold. Thissraelle’s hands shook a little under her own. She continued, I’ll bet that’s it. The Guild thinks you’ve already got her! You used her for leverage. That’s how you worked the Guild over, and got them to cooperate in the attack on the Church. 

The elf voice still didn’t respond. Karendle kept pushing. So, what are you going to do now that the guild hall’s been raided and all of the wizards are in hiding?

We have nothing to worry about. We’ve had people in the Guild and the Church for years. We’re growing, and we’re not stopping. 

Karendle’s eyes widened. She thought about when she had met up them in the inn just a week ago. Or, really, three months ago. She reached out in her mind like she had then. She saw an image of a dark, black shadow taking the shape of a huge dragon, much larger than any of the drakes they had fought. It wore a large golden crown. You guys are the Dragon’s Flame, aren’t you?

Once again there was silence, a hesitation.

I want to join you. Thissraelle’s eyes widened in surprise.

What are you saying?

Karendle asserted herself. I want to join the Dragon’s Flame. 

Why?

“Karendle!” Thissraelle whispered. Karendle nodded assurance and smiled nervously. Well, you guys are making things happen. I figure that when the dragons finally do take over, I’ll want to be in a good position. You know, instead of a slave.

Alright, then... the voice suggested, bring in the elf girl. That will be your test. If you can do that, and soon, we will talk.

I’ll do it!

Very well, then. Contact us when you do.

Karendle dropped her hands as the glow subsided. She hissed out a heavy breath. She looked up and saw Thissraelle staring at her in wonder. “What? Don’t you think that would help?”

Thissraelle pulled her hands back. “What, signing up with the enemy?”

“No! Of course not!” Karendle said. “But this way we can find out what they’re doing! Already we found out that they want to overthrow King Twynnham. Who knows what else they’re up to!”

Thissraelle sat back, relaxing. She rubbed her arms. She began nodding her head as she saw the possibilities.

“Look, Thissraelle, I’m not going to sell you out.” Karendle reached over and put her hand on Thissraelle’s arm. “Let’s just string them along for a while and see how it goes.”

Thissraelle continued nodding. “Yeah. That’s a good plan. I want to find out how involved my father was in the attack. Also, I wonder if this Heathrax man fits into this somehow.”

“I’ll bet.” Karendle slipped her legs back under her blanket, and Thissraelle stood up. She walked over to her own bed. Karendle covered up and rolled over. “For now, let’s get some sleep.”


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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, October 10, 2019

167 - “Questions in the Dark” - 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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Part 13
Journey

In the previous part: Thissraelle awakens in a place that is strange, but familiar. It’s The Vast, a strange and deep void of extra-dimensional space where occasional islands of rock and matter float and spin through emptiness and clouds of colorful magical energies. The rock where she and her friends are resting holds a temple and an outpost of the Seekers of the Great Reality. They are a secret group of wizards that are committed to searching The Vast and the worlds dimensionally connected to it to find The Creator.

Thissraelle had visited The Vast as a child with her father and is thrilled to see it again. She is also excited to see her friends, Karendle and Eddiwarth, in the temple with her. She takes some time to reconcile and bond with Karendle, as well as become more acquainted with Korr and Parith, who fought by her side in the cathedral in Twynne Rivers. She also tries to magically reach out to Granthurg’s mind, but can’t find him.

She discovers that Korr is also trying to find Heathrax, though neither of them knows why. The Seekers tell them that he is believed to be living in the Emberfire Mountains. Eventually, they all decide to return to Twynne Rivers and journey north, through the deep of the Umbrawood forest to search for him.

After the cathedral attack, Tonklyn returns to the mountain hold of Kirraxal, the dragon. There, he discovers a magical key to the great hidden treasure horde of the ancient dragon kings. Included in this incredible wealth is the ancient’s crown, which Kirraxal puts on, proclaiming himself the rightful heir of the Dragon Throne.

Granthurg sails his newly-acquired barge west up the southern Wynne river toward his hometown in the Graemal Mountains. He has many questions, especially about the white-bladed dagger he holds. Why does everyone want it, and why are they willing to kill for it? He writes a letter to his friends DeFrantis and Antonerri in Dirae, telling them what happened in Twynne Rivers and sharing his fear for Thissraelle.

Finally, Thissraelle’s new team steps out of a dimensional portal back into Twynne Rivers, in “The Great Reality”. They are shocked to find that the land had moved on into late fall, nearing winter, while they spent what seemed like only a few days in the Vast. She sees the ruined cathedral and the now-empty hall of the Wizard’s Guild and wonders what has happened to Granthurg and how her father could have possibly commanded the attack on the Church. They are met in the street by a strange old man and guided to those who can help them in their journey.


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167 - “Questions in the Dark” - Karendle

"Thissraelle!" Karendle shook her friend's shoulder. "Thissraelle! Wake up!"

The room was small and dark, but bathed for the moment in a soft glow of deep blue. The chairs and beds were ornately covered and decorated. Embers from the remaining logs in the fireplace also gave a little light, as well as a bit of warmth. Even with that, however, the nightshirt that Karendle had been given did little to keep away the chill.

Thissraelle mumbled and stirred, but didn't arouse. Karendle shook her again, with a bit more force. "Come on, get up quick!"

After stepping through the portal the night before, they had followed the strange old man to this house in the residential part of NorthTowne in Twynne Rivers. The walk had felt very strange to Karendle. The cold night of a looming winter had been a surprise. Her steps seemed heavier and the ground felt solid and steady. In the Vast, the ground often felt like it was drifting under her feet. Tiredness had also overcame her, as if the time that had passed while they were in The Vast suddenly caught up and swept over her. They moved carefully, trying not to be seen.

Their host was a wealthy, older lady. She welcomed them into her home with a friendly embrace and a short dinner. As the five of them ate, the lady and the old man talked quietly. Then, they embraced with a smile and a pat before the man left. Karendle and the others were then shown to tidy rooms. Sleep had come easily.

Then in the darkness of the night, the glow of the oculus had awakened Karendle and she knew instantly what it meant. Unfortunately, she had no idea what to do about it. For now, she kept shaking Thissraelle.

Thissraelle rolled over and leaned up on one arm. The blue light bathed her face and she squinted, raising her hand. "Oh! What's that?"

Karendle sat back on her knees and half turned around. She pointed at her own bed and the source of the light. "It's my oculus! What do I do?"

Thissraelle wiped her eyes. "What? What are you using it for?" She was still quite groggy with sleep.
"No! It's glowing!"

"Mmm hmmm. Brightly. I can see that."

Karendle huffed in frustration and moved to sit on her mattress next to the oculus. The blue light cast strange shadows across her nightshirt and onto her worried face. "You don't get it! They're trying to contact me!"

"Who is? Thissraelle yawned. Suddenly, her eyes shot wide open and a look of surprised awareness swept her face. She threw off her blankets and rushed over to Karendle's bed. As she did, the light flickered and faded out. 

Karendle let out her breath and ran her hand through her hair. The room was now lit only by the orange glow from the embers in the fireplace. She picked up the oculus. It looked dull and lifeless in the dark. She shivered in the chill. “So, what do I do?” she whispered.

“Do you remember how to reach out to them?”

Karendle rolled her eyes. “Yes, I remember how to use it!”

Thissraelle shrugged. “Sorry!”

“I mean,” Karendle explained, “that I don’t know what to tell them. How do they know that we’re back in Twynne Rivers? Do they know where we’re going? They want me to catch you, and they’ll probably ask me about that.”

Thissraelle leaned back and rubbed her arms briskly. She stood and crossed over to the fireplace while she thought. She picked up some small logs from a basket, opened the small gate before the hearth, and tossed them onto the fire. As they caught, the room lightened just a bit. Finally, she asked, “What do you want to do?”

“I told you before. I don’t even want to have these things!” Karendle shook the oculus at Thissraelle’s back. “They cause too much trouble!” She tossed it down onto her pouch and lay back down on her bed. She pulled her blankets back over her. “I’ll just ignore it for now. I don’t have to respond, right?”

“No, you don’t.” Thissraelle stepped back to her bed. “But if you did respond, you might be able to find out who they really are or what they’re planning. We might finally get some answers.”

Karendle felt her nerves twitch with tension. More than a little bit of fear crept up her spine. That’s true. I was able to handle playing them once before. Maybe I could do it again.  “It’s risky. Maybe I could tell them--” The oculus interrupted her by starting to glow again, tinting the darkness of the room in a deep blue. Karendle caught her breath and looked up at Thissraelle. Their eyes both questioned and answered each other in a blink. 

“Okay, then.” Karendle reached for the gem.


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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, October 7, 2019

166 - “On Their Way” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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Eddiwarth jumped through the shimmering silver portal while the oval tear through the fabric of reality was still growing. He landed and nearly lost his balance. Instantly, he shivered. Wait. Why is it cold?

“Hey, move out of the way!” Karendle called from behind him. He snapped around and stepped aside. By this time, the portal was wider, with its lower arc glistening close to the stones of the street.

Eddiwarth looked around. It was twilight, getting dark, but that didn’t account for the deep chill in the harsh wind. He folded his arms and rubbed his shoulders. Where’s my cloak? Did I leave it back in The Vast? Or maybe I left it in the cathedral. The street was lit from above by an oculus on a high pole. The light shone on stones of the pavement, and cast jagged shadows behind his legs. The gutters along the side of the street were filled with fallen brown and crackled leaves. He turned his eyes up to the light. The branches of the trees near the pole were bare and a bit erie in the dim.

It can’t be winter! What’s going on?

Korr crossed through the portal next and Parith followed, with the drake clinging to his shoulders. Its tail was wrapped around his upper arm. The street was empty, without anyone passing by. All along the way, leaves and the occasional sheet of paper blew across the ground and swirled past the buildings.

On the far side of the street, he saw the crumbling ruins of a huge old building. Some stone walls still stood, but many had crumbled and fallen in pieces onto the yard. He walked toward it. The roof was gone, with only a few charcoaled timbers remaining. The boards and the rocks were well-weathered, like they had seen months of sun, wind, and rain since they’d burned.

Korr stepped up next to him. “I believe it’s the cathedral.”

Eddiwarth just stared, his brows knit.

Korr continued, “Of course, when we entered the structure, we must have come in through the west entrance. This is likely another facade. I think this is the monastery courtyard. Or, rather, it was.”

Eddiwarth shook his head in disbelief, shivered and stepped away, back toward the portal. Where’s Thissraelle? Has she not come out yet? “Thissraelle?”

He crossed around to the other side of the portal and looked through. Thissraelle was there, embracing Tarl. “Thank you so much,” he heard her say, then they broke. She turned toward the portal. He held his hand out, and she graciously took it as she stepped over the glowing threshold. She immediately shivered, reacting to the cold.

Eddiwarth shrugged. “I know! It’s weird! Wasn’t it summer a few days ago?”

She nodded. “I guess that’s what happens to time in The Vast.” Her breath clouded her face as she spoke. She handed something small, square, and dark to Eddiwarth, unfolded her cloak from where it had been draped over her arm, and swung it over her shoulders. Eddiwarth looked down at the book in his hands. It was small and leather-bound with gilt edges.

“What’s this?”

Thissraelle shifted her shoulders to adjust the cloak and pulled her hood up over her head. “Don’t you have a cloak?”

“I did, somewhere,” he said, “but I mean, what’s this?” He lifted the book.

“A gift from Tarl. From the library.” She took it from him and began walking toward the others. She stopped suddenly, staring at the burned out ruins of the cathedral. “By the love of The Creator,” she whispered.

Eddiwarth just stood next to her, not sure what to say. She spun to face across the street and looked up with wonder, almost fear. He followed her gaze. She put her hand over her mouth and sighed, blowing chilly air through her fingers.

“What are you looking at?” Eddiwarth asked.

She whispered, as if no one was listening, “My tower.”

Your tower? That’s in the Guild Hall. It hadn’t even occurred to Eddiwarth that across the alleyway would be the Wizard’s Guild halls, where he had lived and studied up until the past summer. That part of his life seemed to be so long ago, and he hadn’t even thought about it in weeks. The building was undamaged, but completely dark and empty. Karendle stepped up behind them, but said nothing. Eddiwarth looked at Thissraelle’s face, trying to understand what she was thinking, feeling. She just stared in silence.

"Good morning! Good morning!"

They all spun around, with their hands on their weapon hilts. Korr's feet planted in a defensive stance, with his hands in front of him. An old, short man in a gray cloak stood smiling under the oculus light. His hair was uneven, and a thin beard framed his smile.

"It's a lovely spring morning in the city!" He gestured upward. "Birds are calling, fish are swimming in the skies..."

Eddiwarth hadn't heard the man's footsteps. He looked at the others, who glanced back with raised brows. He started to move forward, to place himself between the man and Thissraelle.

The old man raised his chin and turned his head from side to side, looking closely at Thissraelle, then at Karendle. He shrugged his shoulders and chuckled. Then he walked between the baffled clump of people and continued down the street.

Thissraelle called out, "Wait! Who are you?"

He stopped and looked back over his shoulder with a giddy grin. "Soon you'll be traveling far, I suppose. Maybe you'll need things?" He started walking again, with a bit of a limp. After a few steps, he began to shuffle from side to side, as if dancing to unheard music.

Thissraelle looked at the others one by one. Eddiwarth shrugged and gestured at the old man with resignation. The drakeling on Parith's shoulder trilled.

Thissraelle nodded and caught up to the man, and the others followed.


The End of Part 12


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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, October 3, 2019

165 - “Sending Another Message” - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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To my dear friends DeFrantis and Antonerri-- 

Granthurg wrote the words, then looked skyward in thought. He sat on the edge of the steering platform of his barge as it drove steadily up the southern Wynne River. Travelling against both the current and the slope made the going slower. He could hear the water churning behind him, under the influence of the nature oculus hidden beneath the stern. Granthurg was no wizard, but he had learned how to activate the power of the oculus stone to drive the barge upriver.

The trees of the Umbrawood Forest had been fading from view in the eastern distance. Gentle meadows and occasional groves had turned into rolling hills. He pulled his cloak over him as the twilight gathered. The nights in Dirae had been warm and happy, but the weather had gotten a little cooler as the summer started to prepare for fall. In addition, the closer he got to the Graemal Mountains in the west, the more brisk the climate became.

Graemal, a giantish city in the shadows of the mountains, was his home. It had been the middle of spring since he had last been there, and it would be wonderful to see his family again. It would not be solely a reunion, however. So much in his life had been shaken up in the last few months, and he definitely needed some time to sort out the changes.

But before he got to Graemal, there was a small wayport town. He would stay the night there, and find a riverrunner to carry this letter back to Dirae. He dropped his gaze back to the almost empty paper on the crate before him. He sighed, unsure where to start.

Finally, he forced his hand to move.

I hope this letter gets to you, and I hope it finds you both and the children all well. I, too, am well enough. I wish I could say I was happy and safe, but I don’t feel either one. I feel mostly fear and sorrow.

I’m assuming that by now, you’ve probably heard much about the events in Twynne Rivers. Yes, I was there, and I helped defend the churches, as did Thissraelle and Eddiwarth, I believe. I won’t talk about the details of that night partly out of the heavy feelings I associate with my own failure, and partly because I don’t fully trust those who might end up carrying this letter.

I have lost Thissraelle. I have no idea what happened to her, nor Eddiwarth or Karendle. Yes, the last mental contact I had from Thissraelle indicated that she had found Karendle. I, myself, was gravely wounded in the attack and spent at least a week recovering. Afterward, I searched for them all in vain. My only hope for their safety rests in the fact that they were not among the recovered dead, either, and no one I spoke with had seen anyone of their description since then.

Because of these and other attacks, I’ve been in fear for my own safety as well, and for this reason, I chose not to return to you in Dirae. I didn’t want to bring further danger to you, the children, or the brothers at the abbey.

At some point, I plan to return to Twynne Rivers. I have much I need to learn about the dragons and their history. Some dark things are happening, and I have a feeling that our experiences are merely the snow-covered top of a much, much deeper mountain. When I do, I hope to be able to visit you, if you are still in Dirae.

With all of my affection,

Granthurg.

Granthurg folded the letter, sealed it with wax, slipped it into a leather pouch, and tied it closed. He stood and took hold of the rudder and looked out as the river flowed past him. Through the darkening evening, he could see the faint glimmer of the lights from the docks of the wayport town appearing in the distance. Without even thinking about it, he began to nudge the barge toward that side of the river.


<<<>>>



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, September 30, 2019

164 - “Knowledge is Power” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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The rush of cold air blew on Tonklyn's face as he hurried through the corridor. That, and the large book he carried in his arms, made it hard for him to move quickly, in spite of his excitement.

He had rushed from his own pleasantly warmed chamber, up several flights of dark stairs, to the grand and spacious room where Kirraxal always rested. It was sparsely decorated with only a few tapestries and tables, and a padded pillow bed in the shape of a gigantic circle in the middle. It held the impression of where the dragon slept, with his head, body, and tail curled around. The air was always cold because of the altitude, and also the wide and open corridor leading to the landing terrace outside. Kirraxal liked it cold.

Not finding the dragon on the bed, Tonklyn had run through the great hallway. It was night, so he had struggled to see the opening. The autumn winds blowing across the mountains and across the terrace made a chilling draft. That had made the passage a bit easier to find.

He burst out onto the terrace, gasping for air, and fell to his knees.

"Master!" He choked out with broken breaths, "I have something to show you!"

The dragon turned his head and looked to Tonklyn with a scowl. He had been looking out across the expanse of lands before the mountains, taking in the night air. He huffed and blew acrid smoke across the terrace, which wafted past Tonklyn. “What? Is it good?”

“Oh, yes!” Tonklyn insisted, “I think you’ll find this discovery very interesting, if I’m right.”

“And if you’re wrong?” The dragon was skeptical. “You’ve been digging through those books ever since you returned from Twynne Rivers. What is it you’re searching for? I’m getting impatient.”

“We’ll need to be in your chamber for this.” Tonklyn started to walk back into the corridor.

Kirraxal followed and complained, “If, as you say, the city is in chaos, why are we still here? Why should I not play a move, kill the king, and assert my rule? I don’t like the delay.”

“The city is confused, it’s true. The church is weak; the guild is disbanded. But the king, himself, still rules strong, and his defenses are even more focused now. To attack now would be certain defeat.”

“You think I can’t kill a single human king?”

“Easily. But you’d have to wade through armies of defenses first.” Tonklyn stepped into the main chamber and walked to a table. With a heft, he set down the book and flipped it open to the page he’d been marking with his finger. “The time is not yet right.” Tonklyn walked over to a spot on the wall that circled around the dragon’s lair. He moved one of the tapestries aside and began to inspect the wall behind it.

“What are you looking for?”

“Do you remember when you first met me? When I first became your Chancellor?”
Kirraxal harrumphed again.

“As you tried to roast me alive, you burned out much of the furnishings and accessories in the room. For a long time, the chamber was quite bare. We had to spend a lot of time cleaning it up and remaking it with new things.”

“And?”

“AH!” Tonklyn came out from behind the tapestry, gripped its lower edge, and with a heave, tore it down.

“So, now you wish to redecorate? Is this what my kingdom comes to?”

“Right here! Do you see these glyphs? They’re carved into the wall.”

Kirraxal stepped up and looked. He could see the indentations, but he looked at Tonklyn, confused.

“I first saw these when we were rebuilding the room. I didn’t understand what they were then. Can you read them?”

Kirraxal narrowed his eyes, then slowly shook his head.

“Well, I think I can, now. These glyphs are in the dragonkin script!” Tonklyn stepped back to the table, and pushed it toward the wall. “The book I fetched from the cathedral explains some of them. If I’m right, this will be very exciting!” He began turning pages, looking back and forth from the glyphs on the wall and the book.

He walked back to the wall and pointed at the markings one at a time. “Dreln, aath, jex, heth, klard. Do you see?”

The dragon raised his head indignantly.

Tonkly mused, “Hmmm... Interesting. That means a human can read dragonkin, and a dragon can’t.” He was not even trying to hide his smirk.

“Tread lightly, human. Tell me what it means.”

“These tell us that there is a possibly a room behind this wall. Even better, I’ll show you.” Tonklyn turned the book toward Kirraxal. “With a claw of your left hand, draw these three key glyphs onto the wall next to those carved in.”

The dragon hesitated, and Tonklyn pointed at the book. “These ones, right here. You have to do it to trigger their power. I'm not a dragon.”

Kirraxal studied them with intensity, then shifted and raised his hand. He pointed a claw and began scratching the first glyph.

"Aath," Tonklyn named them as Kirraxal wrote, "jex, shon."

As soon as the last glyph was done, the wall began to glow, then to dissolve. Kirraxal reared back in surprise and snaked his neck forward to look more closely. Tonklyn grabbed his staff and lit up the oculus with a bright light.

The wall vanished completely and the sparkling color of gold reflected back out of the space it revealed. Coins, vases, chalices, and statues were heaped in an immense golden pile on the floor. Tables and chests around the perimeter displayed jewelry, swords, shields, and gems.

It was true! This is what I was searching for so long ago! No one believed me! With a hushed gasp, Tonklyn stepped forward. Kirraxal dropped his foot hard on the stone before him, blocking his path. The dragon scowled, then moved in to inspect the hoard.

Tonklyn took a breath and followed him. He ran his hands under the coins and raised them up, letting the gold pieces drain from his open palms as if they were water. "Never in my life have I seen this much wealth! I was right! I knew it hadn't all been plundered!" He tossed the last of the coins back on the stack and picked up an ornate and delicate chain. "Just think what we could do with resources like this!"

Kirraxal hissed, "We? This gold is mine!"

"Of course, my liege!" Tonklyn bowed quickly and humbly, "but just think of how this could be used to further your cause! Towers, armies, agents, siege engines... Wealth buys power! All would bow-" He paused and caught his breath. By the Creator’s Light, I don’t believe it! There it is!

“What do you see?” Kirraxal stepped up behind him and looked over his head. On a table covered in fine black velvet rested a large half-circle of gilt metal, several feet across, set with hundreds of glistening gems in rising points.

Tonklyn whispered, "The Crown of the Dragon Kings!"

Kirraxal reached forward and lifted it. Tonklyn would have never been able to, but it was easy for the dragon. He snaked his head down, set it in place above his eyes, and raised up in the chamber. He roared and the sound shook the walls.

Tonklyn dropped immediately to his knees. "Your Majesty!" he shouted, "In this, the moment of your coronation, I am always your servant!"

Well, always for now, anyway.


<<<>>>



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, September 26, 2019

163 - “The Rooster That Wins” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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The cold air of the higher altitude swept around the drakemaster and cut through the gaps in Tonklyn’s cloak. His nose and cheeks felt frozen. I should have worn the scarf they offered me. Instead, he kept his face lowered to hide behind the master’s back. He pulled his hood down further.

The drake circled twice in the shadow of the mountainside before Tonklyn had the rider ease on the reigns and signal the beast to descend. This drake was of a larger variety, almost as big as a young dragon. It was a dark green. In other circumstances, Tonklyn would have admired the creature, especially in flight. But now, his legs, after being strapped into a kneeling position on the saddle behind the drakemaster for so long, were cramping, and his hands were also going numb from the cold. That the sun had dropped below the mountaintops a few minutes before was making it even worse and the constant up and down undulation of the wing flaps was none to pleasant, either.

“Is that it down there?” The drakemaster shouted over his shoulder. He pointed to a spot on the darkening mountainside. Tonklyn squinted in the wind, and then called out a confirmation.

Tonklyn’s guts suddenly swelled up into his throat as the drake began its harsh descent. How can this guy stand it? These drake trainers must be pretty hardy men. He admitted to himself that he had been impressed with the way they had captured and wrangled the various drakes, preparing them for the attacks. The mages had helped, but it had still been difficult to keep the beasts controlled until it was the proper moment to unleash them on the churches. They showed that the cult of The Dragon’s Flame had been growing, especially in the right realms, and it would soon be time to grow even more.

After a few unnerving turns in the air, Tonklyn could more clearly see the familiar landing built out of the side of the mountain. Sitting on it was the imposing figure of Kirraxal, the dragon. Kirraxal was easily twice the size of the drake they flew, and he was sitting comfortably in a regal posture waiting for them to land. His head followed their approach. Tonklyn’s heart raced. He always got tense when he saw his liege lord. His mind raced through a review of all he had done in the last months. Had he forgotten anything? No, I’m good. I think I’ve already reported it all. Still, his confidence was always a bit shaken by the presence of the dragon.

With a flurry of wings and a lot of jostling, the drake landed as far away from Kirraxal as it possibly could. As soon as it folded its wings, it crawled even farther toward the edge of the balcony. It held its head low and focused on the greater dragon. It hissed softly, with fear.

Tonklyn and the drakemaster immediately began unstrapping themselves. They clambered across their saddles and the neck of the drake to jump down onto the stone floor. They knelt and bowed. Kirraxal huffed an acceptance of their humility and a draft of hot sulfuric breath wafted over them. Tonklyn stood as the drakemaster tended to his beast and began unloading Tonklyn’s supplies.

“The attack was successful," Kirraxal said. It wasn’t so much of a question, or a request for an update, but more like a statement. It might have carried a bit of a congratulatory flavor, but Tonklyn knew better. Kirraxal’s voice was deep, with an edge of a hiss still lingering in his draconic accent.

“More so than I had even imagined!” Tonklyn said. He walked over to the growing pile of bags and trunks. He picked up his staff, lit the oculus dangling from the end with a wave of his hand, and looked over his items. “The Church was caught completely by surprise and their councils are now in total chaos. Whatever influence they had with the King is shattered. The Wizard’s Guild is dissolved, and its members are in prison or in hiding. Other factions in the realm are clamoring over each other to fill the void.”

The dragon nodded and turned toward the cavernous entrance passageway built into the side of the mountain. Tonklyn grabbed a large bound sack and told the drakemaster, “That will be all. I will take care of these things later. Return to the lower reaches.”

“But sir...”

“Go. Now.”

The man frowned, nodded, then addressed his mount and climbed back up in the saddle. He saluted and lifted the drake into the air. Tonklyn hefted the sack and hurried after Kirraxal.

“It was really amazing to watch,” he said, catching up to the dragon. “It was very much like a rooster fight.”

The dragon's eyes glanced sideways at him, curious. It was an odd expression for a dragon's face. Tonklyn explained, “when men make two roosters fight, there are no real victors. One bird ends the battle bruised and bleeding, hardly standing. The other one lies dead on the sand. It becomes dinner. The real winner is the one who’s watching, the one who staged the fight in the first place!”

Kirraxal laughed with a deep rumble. “You humans have peculiar ways. I’m always amazed at what you will do to each other.” He continued toward his chambers. “That’s why you will always be easy to rule.”


<<<>>>



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, September 23, 2019

162 - “We’ll Be Going Home” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

“So, what about the Church, the Guilds, and people like the Dragon’s Flame? They worship dragons, even. Who is right?” Thissraelle was still struggling with these thoughts as she walked back up the hallway with Normath and the others. “And if they’re all trying to find The Creator, too, why don't they all like the Seekers?”

Normath shrugged. “Who knows? People always seem to find ways to gather up together in similar groups. When they do, they tend to fear other groups.” He took a heavy breath. “We don’t think that anyone in the world right now, not even us, has the fullness of understanding of who The Creator is or what He really wants. We just know that He wants us to help each other live and to find Him.”

Thissraelle nodded as they stepped out of the hallway and up the final stairway to the courtyard. The open air of the stairway and courtyard made her feel free, less confined.

He continued, “He helps us along the way. He sends His champions as messengers when we, as individuals or as groups, need it. We believe that someday we’ll find Him, or that He will reach out to us more directly. Then He’ll restore things to order and tell us how to do it right.”

“So what if he comes to someone else? What if that’s the Church, or the King?”

“Well,” he nodded, crossing to the firepit, “then I hope I remain humble enough to recognize Him and follow Him anyway.”

They stood together, staring into the mesmerizing colors of the magical flame. Korr and Eddiwarth stepped up beside them. Eddiwarth had grabbed a muffin from one of the trays, and was happily gobbling it down. Thissraelle smiled. She felt a chilly air waft past, in spite of the fire.

“I guess I need to follow Him now. I need to go back to Wynne. For some reason, I feel that I need to find Heathrax. For myself, not just to deliver some message.”
“That’s probably right.”

Thissraelle watched magical sparks of all of the colors float up into the dark sky. Way in the distance, a light streaked across the expanse and flashed. Suddenly in its place was a mass of rock, tumbling through the crowded emptiness. Thissraelle saw it fly into one of the colored clouds.

“Constant movement, constant change,” she said.

“Pardon?”

She smiled. “So, when can you portal me back to the great reality? Down to Emberfire?”

The old man winced. “Ah, that could present a problem. When I was last there, the King in Emberfire had shut down all of their portals and closed all magic coming into the city. They were quite stunned by what happened in Twynne Rivers. Even King Twynnham has cracked down on mages in his own city. The Wizard’s Guild was raided and sacked. It will be tricky to even go there.”

Thissraelle’s eyes widened in shock. What does that mean? What has my father done? What’s he brought down on his house?

“Still,” he said, “there are portal points all over the land and a few open points remaining in Twynne Rivers. The Seekers that guard them can hide you and help you find supplies as you begin your journey.”

Korr interjected, “Parith is from Umbrawood. I believe he might be willing to guide us through.”

Eddiwarth jumped in. “I’ll go, and I’ll bet Karendle will, too!”

“Well, then,” Thissraelle said with resolve, “when can we leave?”

Normath put his hand on her shoulder. “As soon as you’re ready.”



<<<>>>



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, September 19, 2019

161 - “In the Library” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

"I am Normath Collector. I am the Guardian of this temple of the Seekers." He was an older man with long, silver hair, and he spoke with a tired airiness to his voice.

Thissraelle walked down the hallway, a few paces behind him and Korr. They hadn't invited her to come along, but they hadn't stopped her, either.

Korr responded, "Collector is an interesting name. How did you earn it?"

Normath had an eager smile. "That's what I want to show you!" They topped a stairway and turned down another hall, opposite the direction they'd originally come from.

"Thissraelle!" Eddiwarth caught up to her, catching his breath. "Where are you going? I thought you wanted to see the eelwhales!"

"I did. They're beautiful. Thanks for coming to get me." She didn't stop. She didn't really need to, as Normath and Korr weren't walking very fast anyway.

“Well... where...?” Eddiwarth just looked at her with furrowed brows and fell into step beside her. The hall was cut into the stone, like almost every structure here in the temple. It was not long, and there were several doors on either side along its path. It was lit by small oculi imbedded into the walls just below the ceiling, just like most of the interiors she had seen here.

“There are an awful lot of oculi in this temple,” she suddenly thought out loud. “It must have taken a lot of wizards to charge them up. Or a long time.”

The old seeker stopped for a moment and looked up at them. “Back in the great reality, it would have. The Vast, however, is a magical place, sometimes strangely so. I often get to the point where I take it all for granted.” He smiled to himself, then stepped toward one of the doors.

“The great reality?” Eddiwarth said, “What’s that?”

The old man turned his hands in the air as if he were shaping a great ball. “That’s the universe that your world - our world - is in. That’s where you came from. Twynne Rivers, Umbrawood, Emberfire... Those are all little dots in the great reality.” He grabbed the handle of the door and pushed it open.

They stepped out onto a narrow balcony overlooking a deep, wide hollow pit. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth stepped forward, timidly looking out over the edge. There was no railing. Across the chasm, she saw that the balcony was actually a ramp, spiraling gradually downward into the depths of the cylindrical space.

“Welcome,” the Seeker said, “to the heart of our temple.” As Thissraelle looked back, she noticed that the wall behind him was made entirely of shelves and berths filled with books and scrolls. She rushed to them, running her fingers gently over the leather-bound spines. Some were short, some were thick. There were so many different colors and languages in the imprinting. Her mind immediately flashed to memories of Granthurg sitting in the library of the forest abbey, while she sat relaxing with some tea. She rushed down the ramp, touching the books and the scrolls. Occasionally, a shelf held small figurines, sculptures, or a helmet. Oh, Granthurg. You would love this place! Granthurg! 

She began to cry. In the short time she’d been here in The Vast, she’d thought about him, but still wondered where he was and if he’d lived. She’d been so focused on The Vast, on Karendle, and Heathrax that she hadn’t had a chance to feel his absence. The weight of that emptiness suddenly bore down on her heart. Oh, Granthurg, my friend.

She heard the old Seeker talking to Korr. She wiped her cheek with the back of her hand and stepped back up the ramp toward them.

“...so, I’m the Collector, and this is my collection. Well...,” he corrected, “...OUR collection. I’m only its caretaker. We’ve gone through the whole world, in many different times and places, gathering records and writings. Histories, philosophies, poems, stories, maps, ledgers...”

Korr wondered, “But shouldn’t the people of these places and times keep their own histories? Why collect them here?”

The old man laughed. “Oh, we don’t keep them! We make our own copies and store those here.”

“That would be very difficult, rewriting all of these tomes. There are thousands!”

“Hundreds of thousands! Maybe more. But we don’t rewrite them. This is The Vast, son! We use magic!”

Thissraelle stepped up to them, still wiping her eyes, as he continued, “We are the Seekers of the Great Reality, but only because we come from there. In fact, it’s The Creator we’re seeking. We believe--we know-- He is real. Looking at all of creation from here in The Vast makes it impossible for us to come to any other conclusion.”

He waved his hand before him, and suddenly they were all standing on the familiar terrace near the dormitory wing of the temple. Startled, Thissraelle looked around her. The sudden dimensional shift left her feeling a bit dizzy.  Normath was unfazed. “Look above you, around you.”

She did as he said, taking in the clouds sparkling with color and the masses of matter floating past. The eelwhales swam away in their own steady path, trailing thin wisps of color in swirling eddies behind them.

“What we’re really seeking is the Creator Himself.”

Korr asked in hushed tones, “Have you found Him?”

“Oh, no! Heavens, no!” the old man laughed, “ Not yet, anyway. We just keep finding more of His creation.”

Thissraelle stood thoughtfully, as Normath continued, “And each of us needs to sense His guidance and find out what He wants from us, individually.”

Yes. Guidance. I’m starting to see. Maybe I just need to trust the guidance I’m getting.

Then, in a breath, they were all back in the cavernous library, standing on the ramp. Thissraelle blinked her blurry eyes and stepped up to the shelves. On one was a clay sculpture, a sphere, with a map of her world etched into its surface. She traced her hand around it, recognizing the small shape of the continent and mountains that form Wynne. Her home. She tapped a finger on the dot that was Twynne Rivers, and drew a line up to the Emberfire Mountains.

A shriek and a whoop sounded behind her and echoed through the huge empty space. She jumped and saw Eddiwarth waving his arms frantically to keep his balance, and falling outward off the edge of the ramp.

“No!” She shouted, and ran toward him, grabbing for his hand. Her feet slipped a on the stone floor, and and her leg slid forward out from under her. She missed his hand and tumbled after him. She felt her foot slide off the edge of the ramp, out into the emptiness of the pit. Her backward knee hit the stone, and she spun away. Her stomach twisted inside her as she fell. She screamed and closed her eyes. A moment later, she heard Eddiwarth laughing. She felt no air rushing around her.

She opened her eyes. The rows and stacks of books weren’t flowing past her. They weren’t falling, either. Nervous, she looked around as she flipped and spun in the air, floating toward the center of the pit chamber. The world sphere she had been carrying whirled in the air beside her.

“What’s going on?” She called out to Normath.

Eddiwarth was chuckling and twirling himself as he swam in the air. “Look! I’m an eelwhale!”

“Oh, there’s no gravity in the pit. That’s so you don’t have to walk all the way down the spiral if you want a book,” Normath answered. Thissraelle was finally able to twist herself so she wasn’t twirling, and she folded her arms across herself and drifted to the other side. Korr sat down on the edge of the ramp and tentatively waved his hand out over the pit, trying to feel the difference. He looked up at Normath, who shrugged. The only explanation he gave was, “What can I say? It’s The Vast.”


<<<>>>



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, September 16, 2019

160 - “The Works of His Creation” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

"That dragon makes me nervous," Thissraelle said as they walked along the hallway past their sleeping rooms. The small creature bounded ahead of them, following after Parith and making him stumble as they strode. Eddiwarth walked farther ahead, frequently turning around to urge them forward.

Korr thought about that as they all turned a corner and began walking down a long stairway. "I often find it irritating as well."

"Irritating? It's not safe! Those dragons burned down the cathedral! They almost killed you!"

"This one didn't!" Parith called back from the stairs ahead. "Besides, they were technically drakes, not dragons."

"There's a difference?" The stairs leveled off to a short hall before a door.

Korr nodded. "The Seekers here showed us. Drakes are smaller and not as smart."

"They're like the dragon equivalent to puppies," said Parith

“That one on the cathedral balcony looked pretty big to me!” Thissraelle huffed.

“Apparently,” Korr clarified, “Real dragons are even bigger.”

Parith gestured to the door, as Eddiwarth took the handle. "Are you ready?" The excited grins on their faces made Korr wonder what was about to happen.

"Be amazed!" Eddiwarth exclaimed as he pulled open the door.

They all stepped through onto a wide balcony. It had a high ceiling, with thick, ornate pillars every thirty feet. Beyond the pillars, he could see the dark and colored sky of The Vast. There were about a dozen people already at the stone railing, talking and pointing to the left and below the balcony.

As Korr approached the pillars and the railing. He hurried up to an empty space next to an older man in Seeker’s robes and looked where everyone was pointing. His eyes opened wide in surprise and awe. Thissraelle gasped with excitement, clapping her hands.

A huge creature drifted slowly past the stony island where they stood, passing near the balcony, but a bit below. It looked in shape a lot like the koi fish that darted about in the pond in his master’s house, except the body was elongated. The tails and fins were longer as well, like banners elegantly streaming behind its swaying, swimming body.

“Eelwhales!” Thissraelle shrieked, “I’ve never seen one so close!” Others at the balcony were also speaking with awe and amazement.

It was easily more than a dozen feet across, and, including the tail, as long as a few buildings on a busy city street. Its smooth skin was a gleaming white, but as it undulated past, Korr saw many colors reflecting off its surface, like thousands of gems had been crushed and sprinkled onto it.

It passed by the balcony only twenty to thirty feet away. It had bony protrusions that swept back in an angular way from the point of its head, with shorter streams of thin skin rippling like streamers behind them. Underneath one was the eye, which tranquilly observed the crowded balcony as it passed. There were two others behind it, swimming fairly close. As they passed, colors streamed from their fins and tails as if the magical dust of their skins were being washed off, floating away and dissipating into the space left in their wakes.

Korr looked on, barely able to breathe. People around him were chattering with excitement, but he was entranced by the beauty of these magnificent creatures.

One of the eelwhales raised its head and a gaping mouth appeared. From deep within, it bellowed a deep haunting groan that overwhelmed the viewers and echoed across the expanse. After a moment of surprised silence, everyone around Korr began cheering and whooping in response. The great beast called out again, lowered its head, and resumed its path.

More eelwhales followed these three, coming from the other side of the great floating stone island the temple was built in. The first ones, the head of the school, swam on past the island, and out into the vast, while the others continued to round the island and flow past the balcony.

An aged voice next to Korr said, “The Vast is full of wonders beautiful and frightening. As many times in my life as I have seen this, it always fills me with astonishment and joy.”

Korr nodded to the older Seeker and quoted, “Great are the beasts of The Creator and vast are the works of His creation.”

The man smiled. "You know your scriptures!"

"My master frequently held readings of ancient works. Scriptures, histories, works of philosophy... Many passages have stayed with me."

"And what do you think? Do you believe? Is there a Creator?"

"My master says--"

"I didn't ask what your master says." The old man smiled. Korr saw Thissraelle listening intently. "What do YOU believe?”

When Korr hesitated, Thissraelle jumped in. “Is there a Creator? Who is He? Everyone seems to be telling me and other people what The Creator wants us to do! The Church, the Guild, the King... Everyone claims to have His Holy Endorsement! Who really knows Him?”

At that moment, the ground around them shook. One of the eelwhales had swum up close to the rock formations to the left and above the balcony and was rubbing its body against it, rotating back and forth as if it was using the stones to scratch an itch. Chunks of rock broke free from the arches of the ceiling and the stones above it, falling onto the balcony and out into The Vast. Sparks of color also scraped from the skin of the eelwhale and drifted down. The shaking threw everyone off balance for a moment and they all grabbed for the railings and each other, shouting.

Then the great beast rolled over, and hurriedly swam away from the island to rejoin its school. The many watchers on the balcony looked around in surprise, then resumed their places at the railing. Thissraelle stood and she and Korr helped the old seeker up.

He invited, “I would like to show you something. Follow 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!
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

159 - “Practice and Wisdom” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>


Stance. Korr's feet stomped the stone floor.

Back straight. Breathe. He brought his fists slowly up to his side, then opened his hands, fingers raised and together, and flexed them forward. Maintain focus, tension. 

Breathe. 

Sweep left, right. Punch.

Breathe.

Step, block low, punch. Korr burst out with a sharp shout with each harsh move.

He closed his eyes before continuing.

Breathe slowly.

Turn, step forward, cross my arms. Set my stance. He stamped his feet again, growling low each time. Part of the challenge of practicing the forms was to keep them from becoming too comfortable, too routine. He swept his torso low, across his forward knee, and back up, throwing his arms into another fast series of blocks and punches, punctuated by loud barks.

It had been quite a while since he’d had the opportunity to practice his forms. He had done these motions, among others, daily, while in his master’s house. The challenges of travel and searching had made it difficult to find time and space for these routines. Here in the Seeker’s temple, however, there was this large peaceful terrace under the beautifully strange sky of The Vast and time was, in fact, immaterial.

He paused the form, holding the posture, and let his awareness flow through his body. He checked for balance and the proper amount of tension in the muscles. Satisfied, he stamped his feet back into the basic square stance, raised his fists to his side, then slowly lowered them while exhaling and bringing his feet together.

He opened his eyes.

He was surprised to see the elf girl standing in front of him, perhaps only a dozen feet away, just outside of the hallway leading into their dormitory rooms. She was wearing the simple gray robes again that the Seekers had given them all when they arrived. Her long white hair flowed down over her shoulders, framing a slightly embarrassed smile. She leaned slightly to one side, with one hand resting on her other elbow in a sort awkward way. She was thin and looked even a bit frail. He had never seen a high elf before their encounter in the cathedral, and he’d not been paying much attention to anything other than surviving at the time. She had been strong and commanding then, not so dainty or... pretty.

Korr forced his stance to relax and bowed, his hands held overlapping in front of chest. Korr had preferred to wear the loose tang suit he had become accustomed to as a disciple in his master’s house. They were a bit ragged and the drake claws had left a few tears in the fight, but they were more comfortable for practicing than the spare robes.

“Oh, I’m sorry!” she said with a light voice, “I’m interrupting you.”

Korr remained in his bow, not wanting to look up just yet. “No need to apologize. I’m not trying to be private.”

As he raised up, he saw her trying to mimic his bow and it looked unfamiliar to her.
Korr spoke first. “Thank you so much, once again, for your help as we fought in the cathedral. Your command of magics is quite impressive. I was lucky to have you and your friends come to us.”

“Yes, well, apparently it was not quite impressive enough.” She looked away. “We’re all lucky that the Seekers found us.” Her voice, cheery at first, seemed to have taken a turn for the melancholy. He just nodded. She sighed and continued. “I do need to talk to you, though, about this Heathrax character.” She started walking toward one of the stone benches on the perimeter of the terrace.

Korr followed. “I guess we’re on a similar quest.”

“Yeah, but I have no idea why!” She sat down with a bit of a huff, as if she’d been wanting to say that for a long time. “Who is he? Where is he? Why is he so important?”

Korr sat next to her, but not too close. How close is too close? What is proper here? He scooted quickly a few more inches away.

Thissraelle went on, letting more frustration come out, “I mean, is he supposed to save the world? Maybe, but from what? Up until a few months ago, I didn’t think the world needed saving! The next thing I know, I’m fighting slavers, dragons are attacking, and I’m being whisked away into interdimensional space! In the middle of all this, strange men are visiting me in my dreams and telling me to find this guy!” She ran her fingers through her hair, pulling it back out of her eyes. She shook her head. “What do you know about him?”

Korr shrugged. “He is a friend of my master and he lives in the Emberfire Mountains. Probably.” He looked over at her and tried to smile with some measure of reassurance. “You seem to be troubled with this task.”

She stood and stepped away, crossing her arms. “Don’t you want to know what’s going on? There’s something deeper here and it seems to be pulling me left and right. I want to be in charge of my life and everything is trying to push me around!”

Korr thought about this. He wanted to help. He quickly dug through memories of his master’s teachings. “When it seems to be too hard to climb the mountain, we should just look at the path in front of us.”

She turned around, one eyebrow up. “What?”

“My master would say it to us when we would get overwhelmed with our own goals. Mastering our art is a long and difficult work. I think it means that sometimes when the task looks too big, focus on the next step. Don’t look at the mountain, look at the path.”

She dropped her hands to her side. “Yeah, that’s right. So, we should probably just go back to Wynne, to reality. To Emberfire.”

Korr nodded. “And we should probably go soon. It would make sense for us to travel together. I suspect Parith will want to go. What about your friends?”

Thissraelle shrugged. “Probably. I don’t know.”

“Hey!” Parith called out, jumping out of the hallway. Korr stood and Thissraelle whirled around as Parith stepped up to them. The little drake jumped around his feet, yapping. Eddiwarth stood in the door as well. “You’re going to want to see this! Come on!”

Thissraelle looked at them, then at Korr. He tossed a look of uncertainty back at her and they followed their friends.


<<<>>>



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, September 9, 2019

158 - “What You Deserve” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>


Thissraelle spread her hands out, stunned. "What are you doing?"

Really? What does it look like? 

"You take them. You can use them."

Thissraelle quickly picked up the pouch and handed it back to Karendle. "What? No! These are yours! These are your powers!"

"No. You take them." Karendle pushed Thissraelle's hands back. "I shouldn't have them. They’re nothing but trouble for me."

"What are you talking about?"

"I can't use them." Karendle crossed her arms over her tunic and vest. She looked at her feet again.

"No, no. Don't give up!" Thissraelle's voice took on an urgency, a pleading tone. "I want to help you! I'm just not any good at it!"

"It's more than that!" Karendle dropped fists to her thighs in frustration.  She ran her hand over the short side of her dark red hair and sighed. "Look. I left the monastery all mad at you. I took the entrapment oculus back to those men who had hired me, and they paid me. Gold and another stone. Hurray! I thought I could go on doing that for a living. That would be me. If I couldn’t be wizard, I’d be a wizard hunter."

Thissraelle looked concerned. Karendle continued, "But they still wanted you. Over and over they said they wanted me to bring you in." Karendle looked up at her friend. "I knew I couldn't do that. I thought about what to do for days. I finally decided to go back to Dirae and find you.”

"But then the drakes attacked. And there you were! You came back for me! Suddenly we were fighting together again, just like before. That felt right. Side by side. Friends!"

Karendle shook her head.

"So what's wrong?"

"That wizard in the cathedral... the one that killed the bishop?" Thissraelle slowly nodded.

Karendle drew her lips thin and nodded along with her. "I recognized him. Not at first, but later, when I was here in The Vast thinking about it."

They looked at each other. "Who?" Thissraelle asked.

"It was the wizard that I had captured in the manor house." Karendle sighted. "I captured him, then collected my reward from the very people who attacked the cathedral! They turned him loose and he killed the bishop! I don't deserve these gems. I don't deserve to have powers." She punctuated her decision by pushing the pouch away and standing up.

"Wait! What?" Thissraelle stood beside her. "Karendle! That attack was ordered by my father! Those wizards were guild members!" They both paused, unsure, and tried to think through the implications.

Thissraelle spoke first. "Why would the Wizard's Guild have to hire someone to capture wizards for an attack?"

"I don't know, either. Something is not adding up, is it?"

"No." Thissraelle decided. "No, it's not." She looked at the pouch of gems in her hand. She looked up at Karendle and stepped toward her with resolve, pushing the pouch into Karendle's chest. Instinctively, Karendle gripped it.

"Take it," Thissraelle commanded. "All I know is you used these to help protect people in the cathedral and your powers saved us from the flames. You definitely deserve them." She let go, allowing Karendle to grip the bag.

Karendle smiled and took Thissraelle in a tight embrace.

A loud, high screech ripped through the air. Karendle and Thissraelle jumped back, startled, and threw up their hands to protect themselves.

"Come back here! Stop!" A voice called out from the hallway. The two ladies ducked defensively as a small drake flew across the terrace. Its body was no bigger than a midsized dog, but its tail was at least two feet long. It called out with excitement, vigorously flapping its wings. It called out more and began circling the terrace. Parith chased after it, shouting, "Come back! Hey!" Korr stepped up after him, his arms folded.

"What the flames is that?" Thissraelle shrieked. Karendle put her hands on her hips and shook her head.


<<<>>>



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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Of Children and Dragons is now on Audible!


Here's some Exciting News!


Our first year of the blog, which we bundled up as a book at Amazon (A Tale of Heroes, Book 1: Of Children and Dragons) is also now available as an audio book!


Read by Andrew McDermott, with his smooth Irish accent, it's a beautiful and exciting trip through the world of Wynne!


You can get it here: A Tale of Heroes on Audible.com


For a limited time, I have some free promo codes available. If you're interested, and you're willing to leave a review, contact me!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

157 - "Resolution” - 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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With all of the stupid mistakes I've made along the way, you’d think that I’d have more practice at this part of life. 

Karendle took in a slow, easy, calming breath. She looked past the short stairs before her and out across the terrace to where Thissraelle stood alone. Thissraelle was facing away, staring out into the slowly sweeping emptiness of The Vast. Karendle looked at the pouch in her hand and felt the weight of the magical stones inside.

Well, let's get this over with.

Karendle let the air in her chest out, and hopped up the few remaining steps to the terrace. Her foot didn't quite reach the final step and it dropped back down, slipping out from under her. She lurched forward, banged her shin hard on the stone edge of the step, and landed on her wrist.

She cried out and rolled onto her side, hissing dwarvish curses as she winced in pain.
In a moment, Thissraelle had spun around and run to her side. "What happened? Are you hurt?"

Karendle grabbed her leg and pulled it up, rubbing the shin while she tossed back and forth. "Ah! Haahhnnn! Shaking stonessss!" All that didn't really help ease the harsh pain much, but it did distract her from it a bit.

"What happened? Can I heal you?"

"Slipped-- slipped on the--" Karendle sucked in air through her clenched teeth. "Sslipped on the step--"

"Relax. I can heal you!"

The pain was sharp, but it was already receding. "Naw. I'll be-- Okay." She blew out a breath, then rolled over and started to stand. "I just banged my leg." Smooth. That was really smooth. Very dignified.

She stood and hobbled toward the stone benches along one side of the terrace. Thissraelle helped support her arm. By the time they got to the bench, Karendle was able to walk through the dull ache. She dropped onto the bench with a grunt and slouched down, her face in her hands.

Thissraelle sat down beside her. Karendle dropped her hands. Thissraelle's posture was straight and proper. Karendle was leaning back, with her legs stretched out. They clearly came from different worlds.

"Is that feeling better?" Thissraelle asked and Karendle nodded. She looked out past the gray stone terrace at the colorful clouds turning in the sky. "Did you come out to see the view?"

Karendle shook her head. "The party is just over."

Thissraelle nodded, stood, and started to stroll toward the hallway leading to the chambers.

Karendle watched her back for a moment, feeling the awkwardness in the air, then said, "Actually, I, ah, came over to talk to you."

Thissraelle stopped, then turned around with her eyebrows up. She returned to the bench and sat back down.

Karendle leaned forward and gazed at the stone floor. She messaged her calf and shin a bit more. She couldn't look at Thissraelle's face and needed something else to focus on. "Ah, look, ah--" Karendle finally mumbled, "I'm-- I'm sorry."

Thissraelle whistled out the breath she was holding. "Yeah. I'm sorry, too." She crossed her knees and rested her hands on them.

Karendle sat back and stretched her shoulders. "I got really frustrated that I wasn't able to do the magic and I didn’t know what I was doing or why I was even there and I blew all of that garbage at you. Thanks for trying to teach me and thanks for coming back for me."

Thissraelle put her hand on Karendle's shoulder. "I'm... not a very good teacher. I don't have enough patience yet, and I have no idea how to explain things."

Karendle smiled and nodded, almost imperceptibly. "You really try to help, though. You wanted me to learn. You wanted to help DeFrantis get the kids. I need to be more like that."

Thissraelle smiled back and reached up to give her a hug, but Karendle raised her hand. "There's... There’s one more thing."

Thissraelle drew back and frowned with an eyebrow raised. Karendle straightened her back and reached to her belt. She unthreaded the oculus pouch, held it up, and set it with a few clinks in Thissraelle's lap.


<<<>>>



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, September 2, 2019

156 - “Heathrax?” - 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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It feels like I haven't eaten in weeks! 

Thissraelle hesitated, then stepped out of the hallway onto the stairs leading down into the courtyard. It was a large, circular area, surrounded by ornate stone pillars that supported an entablature, but no roof.  Many comfortable chairs and small tables were arranged pleasantly around the circle, surrounding a fire pit in the center. People were sitting in the chairs and standing in small groups talking quietly. It looked like one of the formal receptions her parents used to force her to attend.

She saw no wood in the pit, and the tongues of flame that danced in it were hues and shades of all colors that she saw in the clouds. There were reds, blues, greens, and more in all blends and shades. They were the colors of magic. She stepped into the courtyard and moved toward the pit, watching the flames swirl and blend around each other as they flickered. It was a living, moving sculpture, an active piece of art, a dance with no music.

"Would you like some bread?" Thissraelle snapped out of her reverie to see a young elf in a grey robe standing beside her. "Perhaps a bit of cheese or wine?"

Thissraelle looked around. She saw Karendle, sitting by herself, and Eddiwarth standing in a busy conversational circle with several others including one in gray robes and others in white. Those were the brothers of the Church of Three Lights that had been rescued from the cathedral. They seemed to be well enough, now, though a bit nervous.
"I'm not really hungry, I think."

He chuckled and geared to a table. "Go ahead and have some. Here in The Vast, time progresses in strange patterns and it messes with your body. Sometimes you're hungry, sometimes not. We tend to snack a lot when we're here, rather that having meals."
Thissraelle nodded, still a bit disoriented. She stepped away from the strange fire and picked up a small broken bit of bread from a silver tray on the table nearby. She started walking toward Karendle, but Eddiwarth called out and gestured to her.

"Are you feeling better?" He asked, guiding her into the group where he was standing.
The Seeker was explaining, “...but we also worship The Creator. We are seeking Him and helping His servants here in The Vast, as well as back in the great reality.” She took a sip from her cup. “ Is that really so different from The Church?”

Eddiwarth interrupted, gesturing from Thissraelle to the two monks in white. "This is Brother Jonash of Twynne Rivers and Brother Denieel of the Nadaline Order. You helped save them from the drakes." They bowed their heads and held out their hands. They seemed glad to be taken from that discussion.

She took their hands, one at a time, in a light grip, a refined ladylike style. "I'm Thissraelle, of the Wiz--" Her voice choked on the words Wizard's Guild, and she couldn't bring herself to say them. Funny, she’d used that appellation as her given name all her life. Suddenly it didn’t seem right. Not here, not now. Oh, yes, I’m very pleased to meet you! My father ordered that your church be burned down and your priests and followers killed! 

But what should she call herself? St Ivarr had called me a Wizard of Light, but that sounds too much like an earned name! I shouldn't have one yet, should I? Maybe ‘Thissraelle the Lost’. ‘...The Homeless’? They all stood, looking at her, waiting for her to finish.

"Thissraelle," she finally said, extending her hand, "of Dirae." That’ll work for now. All three of them grasped her hand carefully, delicately, for a brief moment.

A fourth hand appeared in the circle, with thin, yet muscular fingers and rough skin. Thissraelle hesitated and looked at the man extending to greet her. His hair was a bit long and straight, dark, and hanging down in coarse clumps in front of his eyes. The pointed tips of his ears stuck a bit out of his hair, but not too far, arching back along the side of his head. They were elf ears, to be sure, but not so long or elegant like Thissraelle’s, which rose upward between the combed and flowing locks of her fine and light hair. Thissraelle drew in a short breath. A wood elf!

“Parith Laren,” he blurted, “of the Forest! You healed my friend!”

She nervously took his offered hand for just a moment and managed a smile. He smiled back and nodded.

He turned around and called out, “Korr! Come here!”

A tall and lanky human stood from a chair and walked toward them, as everyone shifted to look. He had a harsh, austere look on his face, and his long hair was pulled tight and bound behind his head. Instead of offering his hand, he covered one hand in the palm of the other and bowed deeply.

Parith jumped in, “This is Thissraelle, she--”

“I remember. She fought bravely alongside us and healed my wounds.” He bowed again. “Many thanks I give you.”

Thissraelle wasn’t sure quite how to greet him. His speech was odd, and his thick shirt and pants even more so. They were made of a stiff cloth, and looked like they were several sizes too big for him. He didn’t offer his hand, so she just made an awkward half-bow.

“What brought you from the forest,” one of the brothers asked Parith, “To the Grand Cathedral in Twynne Rivers?”

“Oh! Well, I’d actually been in the city for a while, living out in the OuterWall, in a bell tower, with Korr, here.” Thissraelle noticed his rough vest, frayed shirt sleeves, and quaint forest accent. He gestured at Korr, “He and I came into the cathedral to look for records on his master’s old friend. Then, suddenly, BOOM! The drakes are swooping in from the left, from the right, breathing flame! Whoosh! I grabbed a bow and got two arrows in the big one, when...”

Thissraelle tuned him out and took the chance to have a bite of her bread. She glanced at everyone’s face as they listened to his story. Even Eddiwarth was fascinated and he had been there. She looked up at the sparkling colors in the clouds in the skyspace as they slowly swirled and turned.

“So, who was it you’re looking for?” Brother Jonash asked. Thissraelle barely heard him.
“Some old knight, we think. Who was it, Korr?”

“A man named Heathrax.”

Heathrax? Thissraelle’s head snapped back to the conversation. Her jaw dropped. “Heathrax?!”

Korr nodded. “Yes. Heathrax.”

The Seeker lifted her eyebrows. “Heathrax? Ah, yes! Are you interested in him?”

“What?” Thissraelle’s eyes widened as she looked around at the circle. The brothers didn’t know what they were talking about, but the seeker seemed so casual with this knowledge and Korr’s face was as stoic as a stone.

The Seeker acolyte continued, “Yes, he was one of the original Seekers! The last I heard, he’s living in the mountains of Emberfire.”

Thissraelle furrowed her brow, then looked at Eddiwarth, as if the rest of the world were in on some wonderfully funny joke, and she had missed the punchline.



<<<>>>



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