Monday, July 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

Eddiwarth coughed. “This is the Destroyer!”

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus yourself! Be the stone! Be the wall!

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

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

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Monday, July 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Thursday, July 4, 2019

140 - "Flames in the Rain” - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Granthurg? Thissraelle's faint thought-voice nudged it's way into his consciousness. Are you there?

He smiled, in spite of the cold and the rain, sensing the familiar patterns of her thoughts in his mind. He'd hoped she would reach out and let him know how she was doing. It had been a long morning, and the early dark made it seem even more so.

Yes! I'm walking along the RiverFront back to the Inn. They had all split up early that morning, Thissraelle and Eddiwarth to go look for Karendle, and Granthurg to secure the barge in the storm. He'd found it to be still well-moored, but a few of the tarps had come loose and were flailing in the wind.

His boot splashed into a puddle on the street and he pulled his cloak tighter over his shoulders. He had his heavy warhammer strapped across his back, underneath the cloak, so it didn't quite close in front. The front of his shirt was getting quite wet. The pubs and shops along the river all had lanterns lit inside, shining out of windows into the cloud-dimmed streets. A few people walked past, huddled under the roof overhang.

We found Karendle. He could sense hesitation.

Excellent! How is she?

I don't know. We're across the street. Eddiwarth was trying to reach out to you when he sensed her. He found her in the Great Cathedral.

Well that's great news! I'll head that way. It'll be a while before I can get to you, though. There was a long, heavy pause from her in his mind. He could tell that something was going on, worry, perhaps, or even fear.

Are you OK, Thiss? 

The pause went on, and he stopped walking for a moment. All he could hear was the rain on his cloak hood.

Thiss?

Yes, I'm fine. We're leaving the pub to go talk to her now. I'm not sure how to do this. I'm not good at apologies.

Granthurg laughed and started walking again. He shook some of the water off his shoulders.

It's not funny! 

I know. I'm sorry, he thought, though he still shook his head and chuckled. See? There! I said it. Now you can, too.

The tone of her mind got sharp. It's not the same! I have to--He felt her gasp in shock. GRANTHURG! OH NO! OH NO! OH MERCIFUL CREATOR! Her mind shrieked with fright and he felt a chill rush through his spine.

What? What happened?

Silence. He stopped walking again, frozen in place. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate.

Thissraelle! What's happening?

In a heartbeat, his thoughts were interrupted by a huge explosion ripping through the dark, rainy air behind him. A rush of hot wind blew past him. He spun around to see a billowing rumbling cloud of flame and smoke riding up from the shattered facade of a chapel just down the street. The orange light from the blaze shone on two figures in red robes standing in the rain with their hands held high, gesturing at the building. Debris from the exploded structure began to rain down around them and he could hear people start to scream inside. The spire leaned precariously forward, the wooden supports underneath it weakened, like it was about to topple out into the street.

GRANTHURG! Thissraelle's voice jarred him out of shock. GRANTHURG! The cathedral here is on fire!

On Fire?

The two wizards before him started laughing. They reached out to each other with their fists and pushed the backs of their wrists together in salute, swinging their arms up high. Then, they ran into the chapel, parting the flames with gestures of their hands.

It's happening here, too! This is an attack! That’s what’s happening! He began to run toward the chapel, his cloak flapping behind him in the rain.


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

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Monday, July 1, 2019

139 - "More Tricks With 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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Muttering and cursing, Karendle crouched low and crawled over to the injured man. She pushed aside the remains of a cracked and splintered pew to kneel beside him. She glanced up and around the nave above them. No dragons for the moment. 

The man was lying on his belly, his finely sewn jacket covered in rock and plaster dust. His legs were buried underneath a large wooden beam and a few large carved stones. She surmised that the rocks had probably smashed the pews first, then fallen onto the man. That, at least, was probably lucky for him. She tried to push the rocks, then lift the board. Nothing moved. It was too heavy, too tightly wedged in place.

The drakes above screeched more and she could hear more flames being spit onto the cathedral walls. She ducked down behind the rubble some more.

“What’s happening? The Destroyer has come! The world is ending!” The man began crying.

“Shush! Quiet!” Karendle hissed through her teeth, “Do you want to draw all of those dragons over here?” The man stared at her, then dropped his head back down to the floor in fear.

What do I do? Well, I can move rocks. It’s a good thing I practiced. She reached into the new leather pouch threaded into her belt. The tension in her arms made her fingers quiver as she dug out her oculi. Where’s the sapphire? Just grab them!

She pulled out her fist holding the magical stones. One was a shiny, faceted blue, and the other was round and flat, a polished piece of green and brown jade. She could barely hold them both together in her shaking hand. She took one in each hand and shifted herself away from the man and the rubble.

Well, let’s see what I can do, here. She opened her mind to her will, as she had practiced many times before. She reached out with her left hand, holding the shiny blue oculus stone, now slightly glowing, and pointed it at the biggest rock. It raised quickly, up off the man, and she tossed it a few feet aside. It crashed into some of the other chunks of rubble. Next, she moved the beam. That was more difficult, as it was wedged under a downed pew as well as other rocks.

“You’re a wizard!” the man gasped with awe on his face.

“Not really,” Karendle mumbled, “I just pretend to be one. Stay down. There’s more stuff I have to move.”

She turned her focus to a large rock remaining on the man’s left foot. It started to shift in place and the man cried out in pain. “Sorry!” she shouted. I’ll have to lift this straight up. No twisting. She reset her knees and closed her eyes to focus her concentration.

A screeching sound jolted her out of the focus. A drake had heard their noises and streaked toward her, teeth and claws bared. She screamed and threw her hands up in front of her, bracing for the hit, hoping to shield herself in any way she could.

The jade nature oculus glowed warm in her hands. The rock shot up into the air, suddenly stretching itself out into a large flat disc right in front of the oncoming drake. Unable to stop or turn, it smashed hard into the improvised stone shield, cracking it into pieces. The drake and the stone fragments dropped to the ground, crashing onto the remnants of the pew.

Karendle looked in amazement at the oculus in her right hand. Wow! Maybe this thing is useful after all!

The drake flopped and turned on the floor, trying to right itself in its dazed confusion. Karendle quickly brought the blue oculus up again and lifted the man up and away from the pews and rubble, and into the aisle. With great care she set him down close to the wall.

She heard some new voices mixing in with the screams of panic and the shrieks of monsters. These were confident voices, shouting commands and laughing. Confused, she scrambled back over to the pillar and looked around. Two men were walking through the nave toward the sanctuary. Walking? No, they were floating, riding on a cloud of darkness. One wore a robe of black, the other, red. She recognized the trim patterns and markings on the robes, and it fueled anger inside her.

The Wizard’s Guild! The sniveling cowards! Why are they attacking a church?


<<<>>>



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, June 27, 2019

138 - "Fire in the Chapel” - 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 11
Flight


In the previous part: There seems to be an infestation of drakes gathering in the city of Twynne Rivers. More and more, people are noticing the creatures flying by, especially at night, and are talking about it. Nobody’s sure what’s happening.

After her frustration with Thissraelle, Karendle left the monastery, traveling by barge back to Twynne Rivers. Once she was there, she learned how to use her blue oculus, with the mental powers, to read people’s feelings and impressions. It wasn’t easy for her, however, and it didn’t always work. Still, she sought out those who had given it to her, and had hired her to capture wizards. As she meets with them, she tries to read their thoughts, but only gets emotions and an occasional image. She does not trust them. Still, she does give up the one entrapment oculus she used to hold the wizard that she captured while fighting the slavers in the forest manor. In exchange, she gets a new oculus, a jade filled with nature powers, and some additional money.

She’s happy with that, but still troubled by her falling out with Thissraelle. Reminded of her peaceful stay in the monastery, she goes to the city’s grand cathedral to think things over. She realizes she needs to talk to Thissraelle and apologize.

Maan Korr and Parith Laren are busy looking for someone named Heathrax. While they are doing their searches, Korr tells Parith how he came to learn his fighting style, and how his master gave him this quest. They learn that they might find out about Heathrax in the historical archives of the Church of Three Lights in the city’s grand cathedral. Returning to their temporary home in the bell tower of an abandoned church, they find it occupied. A baby drake has hurt its wing and landed there. Parith feeds it and befriends it. The next day, in spite of the rain, they go to the cathedral.

While all this is going on, Thissraelle, Eddiwarth, and Granthurg have also come back to Twynne Rivers. Granthurg searches for his old employer, Rinkmorr, and learns that he’s probably dead, killed in an attempt to acquire the white-bladed dagger that Granthurg now has. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth search for Karendle, and eventually Eddiwarth finds her in the cathedral. Thissraelle sees the Hall of the Wizard’s Guild and struggles, feeling like she has failed and that she should have never run away from her home and family there.

Eddiwarth consoles her, and together they contact Granthurg and go to the cathedral to find Karendle.

Tonklyn, meanwhile, under the direction of the evil dragon Kirraxal, has his minions gathering wizards and drakes. They plan to launch an attack on the Church of Three Lights, and use that attack to frame the Wizard’s Guild, thus damaging the reputation of the two biggest factions of the Kingdom. The attack, it is revealed, is being planned with the help of insiders from the church, and recruited rogue wizards, including the one captured by Karendle!


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138 - "Fire in the Chapel” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

A tremendous crack from above shook the cathedral, echoing through the vaults of the nave with a deafening roar and shaking the stone floor underfoot. Karendle's muscles jolted with surprise as she jumped off the pew and spun to face the west entrance and the porch. Stones, timbers, and masonry tumbled from the ceiling onto the last rows of the pews, crushing and splintering them under their weight.

Within moments, the rumble of destruction eased and was replaced by screams and shouts as shocked monks and worshippers ran for the cover of the aisles.

Karendle stood rooted to the floor between the pews where she had been sitting. What had it been? A roof collapse? A lightning strike?

Behind and above her, a crash of breaking glass and a screeching cry made her whirl back toward the altar. A huge winged lizard fell from the skylight above the sanctuary, shattered glass and tumbling rainwater cascading down around it. Its neck alone was longer than a man is tall, and it's scaly skin was a wet shiny black. It twisted and unfolded its wings, flapping twice quickly to break its fall. The motion scattered glass shards, and blew raindrops and wind up and down the length of the nave. It flew toward Karendle, then twisted up to the gallery balcony above the choir, hitting the banisters with a crunch as it gripped the stonework with its claws.

Karendle had never seen anything like it. She stood with gaping eyes, staring in shock and horror. She knew dragons were real, but she’d never seen one. This one was close enough to kill her! Its head snaked around across its back and it shrieked out a shrill sound that ripped through Karendle's spine. It made her scream and scramble under the pews, covering her head with her hands.

What is happening? Screams flew through the air above her, mixed with cries of the monsters and the flaps of more wings. Fleeing footsteps thumped all around her as she crawled further under the pew. The echoes of the noises in the vast cathedral formed a cacophony of fear and chaos. The only sounds she could distinguish from the terrible mass was the pounding of her racing heart in her own head.

Two of the stained glass windows to the right of the aisle exploded inward in a blast of fire, raining glass and burning spit onto two of the friars who were running past. They fell to the floor, screaming, flailing at their burning robes. Karendle stared in horror as the burning quickly overwhelmed them both and they lay still.

She peeked her head out from under the pew. The heat and smell of the flames fueled her fear. Another  drake, smaller than the other one, flew over her head in a flash, spitting flames onto the pews a few rows away. Her muscles tensed, and she felt on the verge of total panic. She could hear even more wings and screeches in the air. This is an all-out attack! I’ve got to get out of here!

She took in a deep breath, and coughed. She forced down her fear, swallowing it like it was a bad stew that wanted to come back up. She began to crawl, low, under the pew, thinking it would give her some protection and maybe even concealment. Elbow and knee, she made her way on her belly to the aisle where she had walked when she first arrived. That would lead her to a way out. At the end of the pew, she stood and ran toward one of the pillars. She put her back to it, using it to shield her from the madness and fury going on in the nave.

Heart pounding, she ran to the next pillar, toward the west entrance. She hid again, gasping for breath in the aisle, which was clouded with dust from the falling masonry and rapidly filling with smoke.

“Help me!” She heard a feeble voice call from the other side of the pillar, “Someone, please.”

Karendle hissed out her breath. She inched around the pillar and twisted her head to look. A man lay face down on the floor between two crushed pews, his legs buried in stone and rubble. He was clawing at the ground, trying to get out from under the debris. As he did, he saw Karendle, and reached up toward her. “Help me!”

She ducked back behind the pillar, and slumped down to her knees. She swore, then swore again. If I stay here, I’ll be killed. I’ve got to get away. I’ve got to get back to the monastery!

“Please, help.”

Karendle hissed out another sigh.


<<<>>>



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, June 24, 2019

137 - “I Can Choose” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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

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Thissraelle sat in the pub seat, dumbfounded, immobile.

She’s here.

She lifted her hand and ran it through her stringy wet hair, pulling it back, away from her face. For the past week, they’d been wandering all over Twynne Rivers, looking for her. Thissraelle had changed her plans, shifted her goals, and risked her freedom to find her.

She’s here.

Confusion gripped her, frozen in place. Why can’t I stand? Why can’t I go talk to her?
She looked up at Eddiwarth, with a pleading look. You can go. Tell her I’m sorry. Tell her...

He looked at her, uncertain. “What’s wrong?” He held out his hand to help her up.

What should I say to her? She hates me. She won’t talk to me. What should I do? She heard another rumble of thunder from the storm outside. What am I doing here? What’s happening to me? She dropped her head into her hands and shivered, feeling cold, alone, afraid.

She heard another crack of thunder, not as distant, as if it were more insistent. It sparked memories. Memories of rainstorms. How many stormy nights she had spent as a child on the balcony of her tower watching the lightning and the thunder play in the clouds over the city as the wind blew droplets of rain onto her face. She remembered the one night a few months ago, when she built her courage, braved the storm, and escaped her cloistered life, flying away from her tower and her family. She thought of her dream, only a few days ago. She had been flying through storm clouds. She hadn’t been afraid then, only confused. Where am I? Where am I going? Am I even in control? She had stopped and spun herself around to see if she could. Yes, it seems I am. I am in control. I can choose where I go. Her own words rang in her head.

I can choose where I go.

She blinked and raised her head. I can do this. I can choose where I go. 

She looked up at Eddiwarth’s outstretched hand, and his expectant face. I can choose where I go. 

She took his hand and stood. Pain lashed from her ankle and up her leg, dropping her back onto the chair, her face in a harsh grimace.

No. I can do this. I can choose where I go. 

She leaned into the table and lifted herself up on her good leg. Eddiwarth jumped to her side to help support her by the shoulder. She hopped a few times to get her balance. She reached for her cloak on the chair back, and realized she was wearing his. “Here. You can take this.” She started to take it off.

“No, that’s fine. We have to hurry.”

She nodded, then added,  “We have to reach out to Granthurg; tell him to come to the cathedral.” She hobbled, turning toward the door, leaning on his shoulder.

“Yeah, I tried. I couldn’t get very far. That’s when I found Karendle.”

Thissraelle nodded. Leaning on his shoulder, she took a step, and winced through the pain. She hopped on her good foot, then took another step, and cried out. “I can’t walk! I can’t do this! My ankle...”

Eddiwarth held her shoulders, helping her balance. “Can’t you just heal it?”

She stopped cold and stood, dumbfounded again. Eddiwarth shrugged. Suddenly, she laughed as the realization washed over her. Of course I can heal it. She looked down at her swollen ankle, held off the floor by her slightly bent knee. She kept giggling as she summoned warming will inside of her.



Outside, a man strode past the pub, past the Guild Hall, and stood in the rain, before the cathedral. He lowered the hood of his cloak, unclasped it, and tossed it aside. The robe underneath was a dark black, cut and lined with golden piping, in the emblems of a master wizard of the Guild. Another man stepped from the shadows across the street to stand next to him. He, too, took off his cloak to reveal robes of a similar cut, but a deep red. They smiled and nodded to each other.

The wizard in black raised his hands, swirling them in the air over his head. Out of the dark and angry clouds flew a flowing mass of creatures, drakes, a blur of wings, tails, claws, snaking necks and screaming maws. They circled around the cathedral, following the mage’s sweeping arms.

The wizard in red raised his hands and pointed them at the cathedral spires. With a blinding flash and deafening crack, lightning leapt from the clouds to strike the central spire, ripping it into heavy shards of stone and wood. The pieces tumbled away, clattering down the roof and onto the street below. The structure under the spire began to crumble, collapsing into the cathedral interior.

A huge winged beast dove into the skylight, breaking through with a crash. More of them, small and large, flew in behind it. Another flew over the courtyard, hacking and vomiting flames into the windows.

The two wizards nodded to each other. The one in black gestured to the doors with sarcastic politeness. The man in red smiled, then they strode up to the porch and into the cathedral.



The End of Part 10



<<<>>>



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, June 20, 2019

136 - “A Damp and Heavy Quiet” - Eddiwarth - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

A plump, brown haired barmaid with a dark green dress and a dull, off-white apron set two thin cups full of hot, steaming ale on the pub’s table. Eddiwarth smiled at her and dropped a small stack of copper pieces next to them. She took them, smiled, and left. Eddiwarth gently pushed one of the cups along the table until it was in front of Thissraelle. 

She sat, silent, her side to the table, her hands in her lap, and her foot up and resting on another chair. Her fine, white hair was wet and stringy, clinging to her cheeks. She blinked drops of water out of her eyes, but otherwise started at the floor, frowning, unmoving. Her cloak and clothes were drenched and dirty, but she didn’t seem to care. Eddiwarth looked at her face, sensing a deep sadness and frustration. Her chin started twitching. Is she shivering? Or crying? Or both?

He stepped up behind her and unlatched her cloak, pulling it off her shoulders and draping it over the back of her chair. Then he put his own cloak, which was a bit drier and heavier, over her shoulders and tried to wrap her in it. She didn’t speak, but she did reach up and tug it tighter around her.

I guess that’s a start.

He sat back down, across the table from her, and took a swig of his ale. It felt good, warming him up from the inside. He gestured to hers and said, “Have a sip!” She looked up at him, not sure of what he had said then looked at the steaming drink. Finally, she looked back down at her hands.

There were so many things he wanted to say to her. I think about you constantly. I think you’re the most incredible and beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. You’re ten times the wizard that I will ever be.

Unfortunately, all of that sounded so... so pointless. I hate to see you so sad. I’d move mountains to make you smile again. That thought made him smile inside. He could barely use his magic to light tinder for a campfire, much less move a whole mountain.

I’m sorry. That was what he really wanted to say. I won’t betray you. I’m not going to take you back home. It was true that when they’d first “met”, first fought on Granthurg’s barge, he’d been tasked with capturing her so as to return her to her father. But he’d ended up being the one captured. The next time he saw her, they were fighting to save children from slavers. He had felt so confused and useless in the fight. She had been amazing then, so skilled, fighting and healing. Yet it was the time with her at the monastery, after the rescue, that he had most enjoyed. Time spent relaxing and practicing magic with her, Granthurg, and Karendle...

Granthurg!

He’d forgotten to check in with Granthurg. He glanced over at Thissraelle again. She was still quiet, ignoring him and her drink.

He sighed. I’m still not so good with the mental powers. It was a lot easier to contact Thissraelle earlier that night. She’d already had the connection, and she was close, only a street or two away. He didn’t know where Granthurg was. He could be anywhere in the city! 

Eddiwarth leaned up on the table, rested his forehead in his hands, and tried to concentrate. Granthurg had said he would meet with them in CentreTown, but Eddiwarth had no idea when or where.

He felt his will swelling inside him and his awareness drift out of the pub and into the street. He could see as it moved, in spite of the blurring of the rain, and the slightly bluish tint that came whenever he used mental powers. He began moving his point of view back and forth, sweeping from building to building in the dark rain. There weren’t very many people out, and even the illuminations of the oculi in the streets didn’t help him see much. Occasional flashes of lightning were too quick to help. As his point of view got farther down the street, he felt the strength of his will waning. His vision passed the walled in compound of the Wizard’s Guild, then further along, the Great Cathedral of The Church of Three Lights.

Hold it. What was that? He felt something from inside the cathedral, something familiar. Maybe it’s Granthurg. No, not the giant--Could that be her? Yes! What is she doing here?

He pushed his awareness inside, past the porch, through the doors, into the brightly lit nave. The cathedral was beautiful and full of color and brightness. About a third of the way in to the choir, he saw Karendle’s familiar red hair as she slumped back, resting in a pew. Her eyes were taking in the vastness of the vaults above her and the lightning through the skylights. She was almost smiling. This was the closest thing to reverence he’d ever seen on her face.

Then, the visual faded away and his mind snapped back to the dim and smoky pub. He raised his head to see Thissraelle looking at him. He smiled. “I found her!”

Thissraelle was surprised. “Who?”

“Karendle! I found her!” He jumped to his feet. “She’s in the cathedral down the street!”

“The cathedral? What is she doing there?”

“I don’t know, but I saw her!” He moved around the table to her. “Let’s go!”


<<<>>>



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, June 17, 2019

135 - "The Beautiful Cathedral" - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

Korr stepped out of the fast rain and into the sheltered porch of the western facade of the huge cathedral. Parith followed, and immediately began shaking the water off of his dark brown cloak. Korr swung his cloak from his shoulder and held it up to drip onto the stone floor. The air was chilly, but the carved stone arches surrounding the porch broke the wind. Korr looked up at the tall ornate wooden double doors before them. Each was at least five feet wide and double that in height, with a large circular stained glass window under an arching top. The wood below was artistically carved with reliefs of angelic guards facing the three-star emblem of the church. There were two other full sets of doors, equally ornate, of equal sizes, in either side of the porch.

The porch itself was dark, with some colored light glowing through the windows. Korr looked over at Parith, who leaned on his quarterstaff, making chirping noises while looking into a large heavy bag with straps that slung over his shoulder. He dug into a pocket on the side and pulled out a small piece of jerky they'd bought on the way here.

"That thing is going to get us into trouble. You should have left it at the tower!"

The little lizard's head shot up out of the bag and snatched the meat out of Parith's fingers, then slurped it down, shaking its head. Parith jerked his hand away from the teeth with a look of surprise. "But the lightning was scaring him!"

Korr sighed. He found himself doing that a lot since he was with Parith. He quickly turned away and grabbed the door handle. As large and thick as the doors were, he was surprised how easily and smoothly they opened. They stepped in and moved through the entry foyer.

Korr looked up with awe at the high, brightly lit nave. He took in the intricate carvings on the capitals of the pillars lit by illuminated oculi, and the detailed paintings of the clouds between the dark skylights.

"So, where do we go?" Parith asked, snapping Korr's focus back.

"Oh, uh, I'm not sure." They began to walk carefully along the aisle under the arches formed by the supports. As they walked, Korr looked past the pillars into the pews in the nave. There was hardly anyone there. They were obviously not holding services, but he'd thought there would have been more people there. The few that he saw were not sitting or praying, either. Most were walking about the cathedral and talking quietly to each other.

"Do you feel a little underdressed?" Parith whispered.

Korr looked at him, confused. "Should I?"

"Well, what people there are, here, are all primped up in wealthy finery, silks and ruffles."

Korr looked at his simple shirt and roomy traveling pants. "Hmm. I hadn't noticed. I suppose we are." He walked on, then pointed, "There's one more like us."

"Where?"

"Over there, in the pews. The girl. She looks more like she's been traveling." He pointed to a woman with deep red hair and a dark cloak leaning back on the pew, starting up at the ceiling, her arms across the backrest. Her posture seemed very casual for such an ornate and solemn setting.

"Yeah, she doesn't look so refined, either," Parith observed.

Korr and Parith walked further up the aisle. He heard a flurry of rapid footsteps, growing louder, like they were descending a staircase. A bustle of brother monks in dark robes rushed out of a hallway opening in the right wall of the aisle, between two buttress pillars.  They hurried through the aisle, coming toward Korr and Parith, conversing in hushed voices. Quiet as they were, their steps echoed through the vast expanse on the cathedral.

We've upset them! They're coming to throw us out!

The monks swept on past Korr and Parith, rushing between them like they had been rocks in a stream. Parith looked at Korr, confused, and they both shrugged.

One more monk stepped past, lagging behind the others, but also not moving as fast. Korr reached out to him. "Your pardons, sir--"

The man turned. He was young and thin, and his robe was baggy, altogether too big for him. "Yes?" he smiled.

Korr straightened and regained his composure. "Could you help us find your records hall?"

He nodded at Korr. "Certainly! I just came from there. This way!" He started walking back toward the hallway opening. Korr and Parith followed.

As they turned, the brother asked, "Are you looking for your heritage? Marriage records? Your birth perhaps?"

Korr thought he heard a muffled chirping from behind them, and he glared at Parith, who clutched his bag and whispered softly shushing noises. The brother, turning and starting up a curving stairway, didn't seem to notice.

"Actually, we're interested in Ascendency Ceremonies. It would have been years ago. Thirty or forty, perhaps." Korr and Parith followed up the steps.

"Oh! Those would be historical records, then. You must forgive us. Today has been a very busy day. It's a meeting of the Concilio Episcopi--that's the Bishop's Grand Council--and all of us clerks have been chasing errands all day!" It seemed to Korr that the brother enjoyed talking. They came out into a hallway and turned to their right. Another line of monks were coming toward the stairs. To the right were a long row of doors, and to the left were rain-streaked windows looking out over the dark cloister courtyard. "The meetings are just ending for the day. Now it's time for supper!"

Korr interjected, "I apologize. We will come another day."

"Pfft! Nonsense! I'd much rather help in the library than the kitchen!"

A large black shadow suddenly blurred the window, rushing up over the roof. All of them jumped back, surprised. Instinctively, Korr moved his feet into a solid stance.

"What was THAT?" the brother shouted.


<<<>>>



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, June 13, 2019

134 - “A Knave in the Nave” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

This is all wrong. What am I doing here? Karendle stepped carefully, almost reverently, along the aisle to the right inside of the grand old cathedral. She had never seen a building so ornate and intricate. The pillars to her left reached up at least a hundred feet, she guessed, to an arched ceiling painted like the sky. Even though the rain of the late afternoon had made everything prematurely dark, the ceiling and the aisle below were lit by large glowing white oculi mounted in the capitals of each pillar. They gave a heavenly look to the clouds artistically rendered above her.

She almost lost her balance staring up. She reached out and steadied herself on a pillar. Her eyes drifted back down to the floor level.

She could see people in monk's robes walking forward and back in the aisle up ahead. They seemed to be in a hurry, like each was busy on his own task. The brothers back at the monastery never seemed to be that anxious to get anywhere. Maybe that was because this was the big city, not a tiny little abbey in the woods. She watched them disappear into a hallway off to the right.

After leaving the pub earlier in the afternoon, she had wandered the RiverFront streets, unsure what her next steps would be. She hadn't thought this far ahead in her plan. The best she could think of was to go to a shop to look for a heavier cloak against the rain, but even though she now had plenty of money, she just didn't see anything she liked. Neither her mind nor her heart was in a place for shopping.

Before long, she had come to the gate of the finer CentreTowne quarter of the city. She paid the gate tax and walked in, finding herself in awe of the clean streets and magnificent buildings. Soon, she stood before the great cathedral of The Church of Three Lights.
She didn't know anything about the Church. She didn't know what they believed or how they worshipped. She sure didn't believe it. But the rain had been hard and the light from the doors had looked warm.

She stepped from the aisle, turning to her left between a pair of pillars, and walked along one of the pews in the main nave. The ceiling was even higher here, and she could hear the steps of the brothers and other worshippers echoing through the vast space above her. It was also lit by many oculi in the pillars. There were hundreds of panes of glass skylights that, had this been a clear day, would have kept the entire chapel, the nave, the choir, and the sanctuary full of bright sunlight.

She reached out and felt the seat of the pew. It was covered in the smoothest velvet she had ever touched. As she reached the center of the pew, she turned and sat down. As she looked across the nave, she could see a few others sitting scattered through the chapel as well. A few were in small groups, but most were alone, like she was.

She leaned back and took in the enormity of the expanse above her. She could see blurry flashes of lightning in the darkness of the skylights. She suddenly felt very small, very unimportant.

I got what I wanted. She shifted forward in the seat and leaned on her knees, her head down. I got another oculus. I got more money. I did what I was hired to do. That's an accomplishment, right?

As soon as she thought it, however, it sounded wrong, like she was trying to convince herself. It was an accomplishment, to be sure, but it was nothing compared to how she had felt after rescuing the children with DeFrantis and Thissraelle. That was real. That felt right.

Thissraelle! Why does that name keep coming back to me?

All her life she had been alone. She didn’t fit in with the dwarves, and she didn’t fit into the human city, either. I’m not a fighter, and I’m not a wizard. What am I? Who am I?

I’m a knave. A bounty hunter. I bring people down for a living.

She rubbed her temple with her fingers, then ran them across the short side of her hair. The haunting understanding in her heart was that the only real friends she had, that she had ever had, were back in the monastery. Why is this so difficult? I’ve got a job to do. I can go catch more wizards. Since I can’t be a wizard, I’ll just use fake wizardry to go bring down real wizards!

She smirked. Is that plan really just as stupid as it sounds in my head?

She sat back and looked up again into the painted clouds on the ceiling. She knew what she needed to do. Facing Thissraelle wouldn’t be easy. She looked up into the beautiful vaulted spaces above her, laughed quietly at herself, then sighed. I need to stop going to church, is what I need.


<<<>>>



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, June 10, 2019

133 - “Tears in the Rain” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

Hey! Eddiwarth's voice rang out in Thissraelle's head. I haven't seen Karendle or anyone. Where are you?  She leaned against the slick wet wall beside her. She stood on one foot, holding the other painfully up off the ground.

Not where you are, obviously, she snapped back.

I'm getting a lot of pain through your mind, here, are you hurt?

Yes! I twisted my ankle and I'm cold and drenched. I can hardly walk.

I can locate you! I'm on my way!

She slumped against the wall and hung her head. What am I doing? Why am I here, alone in the dark?  Suddenly, all the fear and pain and frustration washed over her like the rain. All of the tensions of the last weeks overwhelmed her. She slid down the wall until she sat on the wet stone pavement. He knee throbbed as she brought them both up to her chest. She began to cry, her years mixing with the cold rain dropping of her hair and the hood of her cloak. I’ve ruined my friendships. I’m completely lost. Maybe she shouldn’t have even left the tower in the first place.

She didn't know how long it was before she heard splashing footfalls running toward her. She looked up Eddiwarth crouched down before her. He reached out to support her shoulder.

"Can you stand?" he asked. "Let me help you." She lifted her arms to his shoulder and began to push. Halfway up, he put his arm around her waist and they started hobbling along, side-by-side.

"I'm sorry. What happened?" he asked. "You really look a mess!"

She shot a narrow glare up at him, but didn't respond. She just focused on moving one foot at a time.

They limped on in darkness and silence. She coughed, then sniffed. Eddiwarth tugged her hood further over her head. The team was falling apart. Karendle was gone; DeFrantis and Antonerri had a place at the monastery. Where is my place? The gloom in the skies reflected the overwhelming sense of emptiness in her heart.

They turned a corner and began to make their way back toward the main boulevard of CenterTowne. The rain had made a wide but shallow puddle against the building and they had to wade through it to get to the street. The cold soaked further into her unhurt foot.

When they finally stepped out of the alleys, she looked across the street and saw the familiar wall of the Wizard's Guild. Behind it, she recognized the shapes of the buildings of the compound. There was the Main Hall, the Library, the Training Hall, and way behind them all, she saw the tower where she had studied and grown. The tower where she had been trapped and where she had made her escape.

She stood still, even though she felt Eddiwarth trying to keep her moving.

She dropped her head again. "Well, go ahead."

Eddiwarth paused. "What?"

"Go ahead. Take me back home."

He looked at her, confused. He wasn't sure what to say or how to respond. All that came out was another, "What?"

"Take me back to my father. It's what you wanted all along, right? It's what he told you to do, isn't it?" She looked at him, accusing. He just stood, stunned, like he had been hit by lightning. "Isn't that why you brought us here?"

"No! No! I thought Karendle was looking for wizards! I thought we were trying to find her! I thought..."

"Don't lie to me! He sent you to fetch his poor, lost daughter! Well, here I am, and there he is! Take me in! I hope he pays you a lot for me!"

"Don't be crazy! Let's get you off that foot and out of the rain."

She started punching at him with her free hand. "Let go of me! Let go!" She pushed him away, hard, and lost her balance, falling back into the puddle. She lay there, the rain soaking her clothes and face, until she felt his hands sliding under her knees and shoulders. With a grunt and a shaky stance, he lifted her up, and carried her around the corner and into a warm, lighted pub.


<<<>>>



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, June 6, 2019

132 - “Lost at Home” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

Where is he? 

Thissraelle looked up and down the street, but couldn’t see Eddiwarth. The rain fell heavy and steady all around her. She rested, leaning up against a building under a second story overhang. It gave her some measure of shelter while she watched. The plain dark cloak she had on was heavier and more practical than the more delicate white one she usually wore. This one did a better job of protecting her from cold and rain. Even more, its appearance was much less obvious and protected her from being recognized. At least that was the idea. Remembering this, she held her head down and tugged on the side of the hood.

It was late morning, but the smothering layer of thick clouds and the chill wind made it feel more like late evening. There were people walking by, covered up against the rain, but not many. Not like a normal day. The cobblestones of the street here in CenterTowne were clear and clean, not dusty and cluttered like they were in RiverFront, or even back in Dirae. There were trees along the street, and well-manicured shrubs and grasses. This is the part of Twynne Rivers where the wealthy and powerful lived. This is where she had grown up. This was also definitely where she did not want to be right then. She glanced up and noticed that it had gotten dark enough to trigger the glow of the large oculi mounted on tall poles up and down the main street. They weren’t as bright yet as they would be when night fully fell, but they did help illuminate the way.

Eddiwarth had also told her that the Wizard’s Guild used them to watch the city. That hadn’t really surprised her, but it had made her much more wary as they had walked. She was sure that someone would see her and tell her father she had returned.

She dropped her head and adjusted her cloak again, then slipped back into an alleyway. The overhang of the building wasn’t as long here as it was in the front, and with the wind twisting through the alley, it blew drops of rain into her face.

I don’t know how he talked me into coming here. This is the last place Karendle would come!

She turned her head around the corner of the building and glanced up the street. A short walk away was the cathedral of the Church of Three Lights. She knew that just on the other side of those tall, majestic spires and arching buttresses was the great hall of the Wizard’s Guild. Looking past the cathedral, through the rain, she could make out the stone wall that surrounded the compound of the guild.

Only a few months ago, she had lived there. She had grown up there. She had also been trapped there. Her mother had feared the commoners that lived outside of Twynne Rivers’ CenterTowne, and didn’t even trust the humans that lived within it. She constantly reminded Thissraelle that they were high elves and were strangers in the city. She had only been allowed out of the grounds of the Guild if her father assigned one or two of the mages as an escort. She missed her parents greatly, but running away had also given her a wonderful sense of freedom.

Footsteps sounded along the wood deck walkway in the front of the building. Suddenly, someone passed in front of her. She jumped, startled, and stepped back. In an instant, without thinking, she looked up at him, and their eyes met. He was a younger man, with dark shadowed eyes. His wet hair was pressed against his forehead. His face was frowning. He turned away as he walked on.

He saw me! He’s with the Guild! I know it! He’ll take me back to my Father!

Fear seized her legs and tensed her arms. Her heart pounded in her ears. She ran deeper into the alley, holding her head low, hiding in the folds of her cloak. He’s following me! Where is Eddiwarth?

She turned at a small intersection, going back in the general direction that she had last seen him walking. I’ve got to find him. We’re getting out of here. We’ll find Granthurg and leave the city.

It was hard to see her way in the dark, narrow alley. Her foot slipped and twisted on the wet cobblestone and she went down, hitting her knee hard on the stones. Pain ripped along her leg from her ankle, through her knee, and up to her hip. She winced and pulled it up, tight against her. She rolled on the cold stones as she cried out.

He’s going to catch me! I can’t run!

She opened her eyes to face her captor.

He wasn’t there. Rain fell into her face and she blinked in the darkness of the alley. There was no one there. Hadn’t he followed her? She relaxed her leg and sat up. Her hard breathing sounded heavy in her ears. She scrambled to her feet, but the pain in her leg dropped her before she could stand. She gasped as she rolled over and crawled to side of the building. She quickly looked both ways, but there was still no sign of the man. Was he hiding? Maybe he walked on. I can’t wait here and see.

Using the building for support, she limped further down the alley, further into the darkness, and closer to the Guild.


<<<>>>



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, June 3, 2019

131 - “On a Night Like This” - Parith - A Tale of Heroes

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The rains had come on pretty suddenly, washing the rooftops in a steady rinse. Parith and Korr had been close to their appropriated home in the bell tower when the storm had started, but the dark, the winds, and the wet had made the slopes and peaks of the building tops more treacherous, so they had been forced to walk slowly, more carefully.

Once they were on the church’s roof, they approached the leeward side of the bell tower and climbed through the large opening in its side. Korr went first. As Parith rolled his drenched body through the opening and lowered his back to the floor, Korr stood, letting his shirt drip out. Parith leaned up a bit on his elbows and shook his head, whipping the water out of his hair.

It was late, past the twilight, and the heavy clouds had long obscured any rays of the sun while it set, so it was quite dark. Even the dull glow of the city from lanterns in houses seemed to be dimmed by the gloom.

“A bit chilly and wet tonight, eh?” Parith squinted to see the tiny space in the tower.

“Ch-ch-ch” Korr held his hand back toward Parith, shushing him.

“What--?”

“CH-CH!”

Parith could barely make out the outline of his friend’s form, standing in the dark. A cold, wet breeze blew past them. Korr was a bit tense, looking across the tower into the shadows.

Parith whispered, “What is it?”

Korr slowly moved his hand to point across to the far corner of the tower. Parith strained to look, but before he could see anything in the shadows, he heard a slight scraping of claws on the wood, and then an angry hissing breath. It wasn’t very loud or deep. He could barely hear it over the sound of the rain on the roof. Still, it made him shiver even more than the cold wind.

Parith wiped his forehead and eyes dry with his hand. At least as well as he could. Squinting, he peered into the corner. Something moved, scraping claws on the floor, and flapping a wing. A bird? It can’t be too big... He sat up all the way. There was a loud hiss and a blur of motion as it scampered against the wall of tower to the other opposite corner, with more flapping wings. He started and instinctively pushed himself away from it. As it crossed under the opening in the wall, through the rain, he saw the wings were more like a bat’s, without feathers. Korr immediately dropped his body into a defensive stance. Parith sat up fully, then began crawling around the big opening in the floor, approaching it from the left.

As he got to the wall nearest its corner, it scrambled, flapped, clawed and hissed some more. Parith could see a bit of shiny, reflective skin. He inched closer.

By the Creator! He jumped back a few feet shielding himself with his hands. “It’s a dragon!”

“What?”

More hissing and scratching came from the shadows.

“It’s a dragon!”

“A dragon? How can you tell?”

“Just look at it!” Parith said, “You know, serpent head, thin, scaly body, bat wings, tail...” The creature stayed in the shadows, making a high-pitched growling noise. “I wonder how it got up here!”

“We’ve heard many people talking about seeing these creatures of late. Is it a drake or a dragon?”

“I have no idea!” Parith tried to remember the argument the two men from the adventurer’s guild had been having. What had they said? What’s the difference?

“Give me your bread!” Parith demanded, holding his hand out to Korr, who hesitated. “Come on, I’ll bet it’s hungry.”

“You’re going to feed it?” Korr sounded incredulous, but reached into his shoulder pouch for the remains of his bread loaf. “Does it even eat bread?”

“I don’t know, it probably eats meat, but it’s not like we’ve got a roast of pork feast here with us, and I don’t want to give it my finger. Come on, hand it to me!”

Korr gave Parith the half loaf, and he broke off a small bit of it, reaching toward the creature. It hissed with fury and flapped, pulling back. Why doesn’t it just fly away? It must be hurt.

He left the bit of bread on the planks of the flooring and scooted back a little. When the hissing stopped, he saw a leathery snout tentatively inch out of the shadow toward the bread, sniffing and snorting.

“Be careful!” Korr whispered.

“It’s fine... It’s OK...” Parith coaxed in a cooing voice.

The head on a long neck lashed out, snapped up the bread, and the beast scrambled back to the wall. It made loud, sloppy chewing noises. Then it went quiet again. After a moment of silence, its nose poked out of the shadow again and sniffed.

“Ah, you like that, eh?” Parith smiled and looked up at Korr, who shrugged. Parith broke off another piece and tossed it out, but not quite so far. It smelled at it a few times, then crept forward. As it emerged into the relative dim underneath the opening, they got a slightly better look at it. It was long and mostly thin, about two to three feet, and it looked less like a big lizard and more like a sort of plump snake with short stubby legs and wings. In the dark, the body looked deep red and the wings a slightly dirtier brown. It reached a long neck out and snapped up the bread, keeping its eyes directly on Parith.

Parith kept throwing out chunks of bread, and it loudly ate each one. It crept forward and leaned back on its hind legs, raising its upper body. It held a piece of bread in each claw, and its neck looped up and down as it ate them.

“I think this one’s a baby.”

Korr slowly lowered himself until he was sitting on the floor. “How can you tell?”

“I’m not sure, but he’s too cute to be grown up!”

Korr gave him the same disbelieving look that he had so many times in the last few days.  Parith sighed and continued, while feeding the last bits of the loaf. “Seriously. Look how his head and claws are a bit large and awkward. The eyes are also bigger and tail looks more short and stubby.”

He tossed the last bit of bread to him. “Sorry, little guy. That’s all I got.” It slurped it down, then sniffed at the floor for more, inching ever closer to Parith. “That’s it!”

“You seem to have a way with animals.”

Nervously, Parith extended his hand. “Yeah, that comes from growing up in the forest. I’ve never seen one of these, though.” The creature raised his head a bit and sniffed Parith’s fingers He eased his hand over, turning it palm-down and gently touched the top of its bony, bumpy head. It made a high trilling sound. Parith began to scratch the back of its head. It chirped a little louder, and pushed its head up into his palm.

Parith looked up to Korr with a big grin. Korr smiled and nodded. "I guess he likes you!"

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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, May 30, 2019

130 - “Tense Negotiations” - 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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What should I tell them? Should I say it’s her? They’ll probably give me more for her. But if they find out it’s not they’ll come after me. She looked at their questioning and uncertain faces. Maybe I can be gone by the time they find out.

She dropped her head.

“No, it’s another wizard I caught,” she finally answered.

They relaxed to see her speaking more coherently again. “That’s a shame.”

She continued, “This one’s a striking mage. He’s powerful. He almost killed us. He lit the place on fire.”

“Fire, eh?” She saw the two look at each other with pleased faces.

She took a deep breath to calm her tension. Maybe I can still play this well. She felt her shoulders relaxing and her breathing calm. As it eased, she felt a familiar warmth in the palm of her hidden hand, and an excited shiver ran down her neck. “So, I’ve brought you my quarry. What’s the pay?”

The elf thought a minute. “Well, it’s good that you got this one off the street. That’s worth two or three gold.” He reached across the table for it.

She quickly snatched it away. “Four gold. And another oculus.”

“What? Now, let’s be reasonable.”

She began to stretch her mind and will through the sapphire across the table. She tentatively reached out to the elf. A sense of superiority, smugness, and confidence radiated from him. Typical elf.

He continued, “I mean, really, how powerful could he be if someone like you was able to catch him? Where did you find him, anyway? A magician at a SummerFest?” The two of them laughed.

“He was a slaver. He and his band were capturing children and holding them deep in Umbrawood Forest. He was plenty powerful.” She saw their eyes open in surprise, for a moment, then, after a glance between them, saw them try to mask their interest. She felt a wave of intensity in her mind. She had their attention. “But if you don’t want to pay for him, I could just drop him in the river. There are plenty of stones just like it under the water.”

They looked intently at her, trying to read her. In her mind, there was a sudden flash of an image. The two of them, on a staircase, talking with another man in robes. They looked focused on their conversation. She heard the man address the elf and call him Illitharin. I have your name, now! She smiled. This mage is important to them. The three are talking about him!

“Maybe five gold, then?” she asked, holding up the granite stone between her thumb and finger and wiggling it back and forth.

They looked at each other in an unspoken conversation of facial gestures. They glanced at her with mistrust and tension. Finally, the elf nodded, “Agreed. Give me the stone.”

“Oh, no,” she said, dropping the the gray oculus into her palm, “Put the payment on the table first.”

There was more glancing, more nodding. The human reached into his pouch and counted out some coins under the table, then set them in a stack in the middle. She looked them over. Five full gold pieces.

She smiled. “Good! And the oculus?”

The elf hesitated, sighed, and then from his own pouch he pulled out a stone and set it next to the money. It was round and flat, shiny and cloudy, green and brown.

Karendle frowned. “What’s this? I need to do magic, not skip rocks across the Wynne!”
The human hissed, “Quiet! It’s jade. It’s a nature oculus.”

She tried to sense the truth from them, but wasn’t able to get a clear feeling one way or another. With uncertainty, she reached across the table and set the granite oculus next to them. “Do I look like a riverman? Don’t you have ruby? Or an opal?” They shook their heads. She gathered up the coins and the Jade stone.

The elf snatched up the traded granite stone as quickly as he could. Just as quickly, he stashed it in his pouch and stood. His companion joined him.

“You bring us the wizard girl, and We’ll give you all the oculi you ever dreamed of,” he whispered, and then they walked away. There was a suspicious eagerness to their step. She quickly reached out to them with the power of the blue oculus in her bandaged hand. For a moment, an image of dragons flying and buildings burning flashed through her mind, and she gasped, frightened, and jerked in her chair.

What on this Creator’s earth was THAT? 



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This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox, Genevieve Springer!

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins. Start from where the current story part begins