Monday, May 20, 2019

127 - “A Dangerous Dagger” - 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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Immediately, instinctively, Granthurg scanned the hall. He had no weapons, no friends, and the only exit he could see right away was the main door which was blocked by a third man. He was the bigger and stronger of the three, a towering stone wall of intimidation.

The two giants stopped before him. One, on the left, was about Granthurg’s height, maybe a little taller, and the other had a full foot and a half on Granthurg. They both wore simple tunics of gray and green and leggings tucked into short boots.

“Y’re Rinkmorr’s hand, aren’t y’?” The shorter one spoke first. The taller one slowly drew a shortsword, but in his hands it looked more like a dirk or a dagger. “There’s a high price on y’r head.”

He stepped forward, then added, “Actually, I couldn’t care less ‘bout y’r head. The high price is on the dagger. So, if I have t’ take y’r head to get it, I will.”

The taller giant said, “So, you can tell us where you’re berthed, and we’ll go search it.”

Granthurg’s eyes narrowed. “And no one has to get hurt, right? I know the story.”

The taller one shifted his sword in his hand. "Well, we've been waiting here for so long, we might have to hurt you anyway," he smiled a gap-toothed grin, "just for fun!"

The dagger they want isn't on the barge. It’s the only weapon I have with me. I might have to use it, but I’m not so sure that drawing it and showing it is a good idea. Granthurg stood in a defensive posture, tense and set.

"How about y' take y'r arguments out int' the street," the innkeeper said in a nervous voice, "so my tables don' get smashed." Nobody moved.

Except that Granthurg caught a motion in his peripheral vision. Someone had stood up next to the far wall and was carefully moving toward the giant guarding the door. He carried a long and twisted staff in his hands. He looked directly at Granthurg and quickly nodded his head.

Granthurg glanced away and saw others across the room trying to catch his eye as well. He breathed in relief. I guess Rinkmorr had some friends here after all!

The tense moment hung in the air, everyone waiting for someone else to move first. Suddenly, Granthurg sucked in a breath and looked past the taller giant’s shoulder, making a face of alarm and surprise.

The taller giant turned his head to see what had happened. Granthurg seized the moment that his ruse had bought him and lunged to his left, jumping to the far side of the firepit. As he did, he saw the man with the staff swing it in a wide arc at the face of the man guarding the door. The mercenary saw the blow coming and raised his arms to block. The stick caught him against his forearms with a hard crack and he wailed in pain.

The shorter giant ran around the fire to face Granthurg. He swung his fist wide in a hook to Granthurg’s face. Granthurg ducked his head and raised his left arm to block the hit. His heart raced. He stepped in and swung his right hand low and up into the man's gut. His attacker stumbled back with a grunt, but didn't drop.

Granthurg backed away and hazarded a look over his right shoulder. The taller giant had followed him around the pit and loomed large as he lunged, sword stabbing forward.

Granthurg braced himself, unsure how defend against both the incoming blade and the first attacker. The man who had been turning the pig on the fire leaned his shoulder into the taller giant, knocking him off his balance and into a table. The legs cracked and chairs tumbled away.

Taking advantage of the distraction, the shorter giant tackled Granthurg and the two of them hit the floor hard. The impact winded Granthurg, and the attacker rolled over and straddled Granthurg's chest and pulled a blade out of his belt. Granthurg, his eyes wide and fearful, flailed his arms up trying hard to block the blade and grab his opponent's wrist. He felt a slashing pain on his right forearm that shot through his shoulder and made him jerk back. A warm trickle ran down his arm.

The attacker shouted in anger and raised the knife up high, pointing it for a plunge down into Granthurg’s neck. Granthurg winced through the pain in his arm and jabbed his right fist straight up into the other man’s belly and ribs. He grunted and dropped the knife, which scratched a line on Granthurg’s cheek and clattered to the floor.

Granthurg punched with his left, then twisted to his side. The giant fell off of him, and they both scrambled to their knees, breathing hard with exertion through gritted teeth and angry faces. A quick flash of bloodied steel appeared in between them, and Granthurg scrambled back, out of breath. His startled gaze followed the hand on the hilt, up the arm, to the scowling face of the man that had been tending the meat on the fire. He pointed the sword at Granthurg’s attacker and yelled at him to stay down. Granthurg looked across the room. The giant guarding the door was not there anymore. Behind him, he saw the third attacker rolling on the floor in pain, over a widening smear of blood.

“Thanks!” Granthurg wheezed through his heavy breathing. The man with the blade kicked hard on the back of the attacking giant’s head, knocking him out cold and dropping him flat on the floor. He smiled and nodded to Granthurg.

Granthurg crawled to the injured giant and rolled him over. His face was twisted in pain and there was a deep gashed stab wound through his side. His blood covered his shirt and pants. “Is there a healer in here?” Granthurg shouted. “Anyone with jade gemstone?” He looked around, into the quizzical faces of those around him. Nobody spoke.

He turned back to the man before him, then shed his own vest and his tunic. He wadded his shirt and pressed the linen hard against the wounded man’s side. The pressure made him wince slightly, from the pain, before he eased and dropped limp.

Granthurg leaned back on his legs and sighed, then stood, taking a deep breath. Everyone in the bar stood in a bit of a daze, but gradually began to rearrange the tables and sit back down. The innkeeper called to a barmaid, a tall girl with strong shoulders, and pointed at Granthurg. She grabbed her towel and moved to his side, taking his arm and wrapping it in the cloth.

“Thanks.” He said softly, then more loudly, “Thank you all!”


<<<>>>



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 16, 2019

126 - “Looking for Trouble” - 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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As Granthurg walked up the pier to the quay, then to the street, he idly wished that he had brought a cloak with him. The darkening skies brought a damp wind, especially near the river. Normally, he wasn’t bothered by chill in the winter or spring, but it was a bit uncomfortable in the summer when he expected it to be hot. It also wasn’t typically that dark at this time in the afternoon, but already some of the oculi raised up on poles along the street were starting to glow.

He walked east down the RiverFront street. Not too far from the berth where he had docked the barge would be The Old Steersman Inn. If anyone knew where to find Rinkmorr, someone there would tell him. Every time they had passed through Twynne Rivers, which was at least once every couple of weeks, Rinkmorr had stayed there, while Granthurg had slept on the barge as a guard. The last couple of nights he had done the same, partly out of tradition, and partly out of a more intense sense of a need for security. Some people had been willing to kill to get that strange white dagger. He wasn’t quite sure what to do with it, still, but he wasn’t willing to risk anyone of friends getting hurt over it.

He looked up at the clouds. Maybe I’ll actually get a room tonight, instead of sleeping on the barge.

He, Thissraelle, and Eddiwarth had spent a couple of days looking for Karendle. They’d had to be careful about how they dressed and where they went, to keep Thissraelle hidden from the eyes of the Wizard’s Guild. Thissraelle was tense and on edge, looking with suspicion at almost every passerby and every market vendor. She was certain that her father, the Wizard’s Guildmaster, was still looking for her, even if it had been several months since she first ran away from her tower in the guild hall. She and I first met a couple of months ago, here on the RiverFront. ‘Course, that was further downriver, where we were docked then. Karendle was there, too, when she suddenly appeared in that fight...

The search for Karendle was also difficult because they had no idea who she was wanting to meet or where she would look for them. Granthurg had quietly asked a few of the other rivermen if they’d ferried a half-dwarven girl with red hair to the city from Dirae, but nobody said so.

Oddly, none of them seemed to remember Rinkmorr, either. Even the ones that had recognized Granthurg said that they didn’t know his old boss. It doesn’t make sense. I know he had lots of friends in the RiverFront Quarter. Now, it’s like everyone’s afraid to admit they knew him.

Up ahead of him he saw the familiar shape of the Old Steersman, the carved wooden namesake statue in front of the inn. It was of a tall old giant with a bowed back and a long beard. The wood itself had aged and its paint had faded and chipped, adding to the overall look of tiredness in the carved giant’s shadowed face. Light from a large window shone across its back giving it an almost heavenly look.

The Old Steersman Inn. Granthurg recognized the statue and the inn. The entirety of the building was bigger than those next to it. The door was taller and wider and the windows higher. The stone walls of the ground floor were easily three to four feet higher than those of the buildings next to it and the whitewashed wattle and daub upper level towered up high. He had been here many times but had never actually been inside. Rinkmorr had been the one to stay here and Granthurg had stayed with the barge on the docks. Granthurg stepped through the heavy wooden door.

The main hall was huge, with a sunken floor and a high ceiling. He stepped down off the entrance porch onto the floor. It was planked, much like the deck of a barge. As he stepped down, he straightened his back and smiled. He didn’t have to lean or stoop! This inn was built for the river running giants!

The tables were all taller and the chairs stouter than any he had seen in a pub before. There were, perhaps, a dozen or so other rivermen, also giants, sitting at the various tables drinking ales from huge steins. The room was lit by various lanterns and a few oculi, all hung over each table using the same poles and hooks that were usually found on the bow of a barge. Nets and ropes hung from the pillars and rafters above. There was a round central fire pit, lined with large, jagged stones. Above it was a metal cone to direct the smoke into the flue.

Granthurg took in a deep breath of the smell of the roasting pig that was being turned above the pit as he stepped past on the way to the bar. He leaned on the counter and the innkeeper stepped up. Granthurg recognized his face but didn’t recall his name. He’d seen the man on the dock talking with Rinkmorr many times. The innkeeper was taller than Granthurg, by at least a foot, a bit broader around the middle, had thick, wavy gray-black hair, and a long beard full of thin braids. Under the beard was a dark shirt and a messy white apron. The lines in his face showed how many years he had spent himself on the river. A slight glint of recognition may have crossed his face as well as he asked Granthurg what he was to be drinking.

“Just an ale will be fine.”

“One ale!” He poured a tall drink for Granthurg.

Granthurg smiled. “Now, THAT’s a good tankard for a giant. Humans might as well drink from teacups!”

The innkeeper laughed as he set it on the bar. “I think I’ve seen y’ on the docks before, friend. Haven’t I?”

“Yeah. I’ve worked the river as a deckhand for a few years. My boss used to stay here a lot.” Granthurg took a drink.

“But now y’ve got y’r own craft?”

Granthurg set the tankard down and sighed satisfaction. The innkeeper nodded a thank you. “Yeah, I do. At least I think I do. I’m not really sure.” Granthurg looked at the eyes of the innkeeper, wanting to see if he could be trusted. “Actually, I’m looking for my barge’s owner. I haven't seen him in a while and I need to talk to him.”

“I’ll bet I know pret' much every giantish river runner that passes through Twynne Rivers. What's his name?"

"Rinkmorr."

Immediately, the old innkeeper hissed through his teeth, looked out over Granthurg's shoulders, then leaned in closer to whisper, "Get out."

Granthurg leaned back, shocked.

The innkeeper repeated, with greater urgency, "Get out. Now!"

"I- Ah- I'm sorry..."

"Don’t be sorry. I'm not angry. I'm helping y' get away." He tried to nudge Granthurg away. "There'r dangerous people that’ve been looking for Rinkmorr. They say he's got somethin' of theirs. They may've killed him already. Now go on!"

"Wait. Who is looking for him?"

"No time for-" The innkeeper was backing up. "Nope. Too late."

Granthurg spun around. Two large Giants were walking towards him, past the fireplace. A third was standing with his arms crossed in front of the door.

...And, of course, I left my hammer on the barge.


<<<>>>



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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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Noblebright Fantasy

I just discovered something very exciting, and I want to share it!

Actually, to be more accurate, I discovered that something I already liked and believed in has a name and a movement, and I want to share that!

In the world of words, of writing and reading, a lot of fuss is made about the taxonomy of genres. It seems that each author wants to have their own sub-sub-sub-sub genre. Well, I have just found the one I want to be shelved into!

The name of this subgenre is “Noblebright”, and since I write fantasy, it becomes “Noblebright Fantasy”. The idea is ages old, but in modern publishing parlance it arose out of a reaction to the “grimdark” subgenre. In grimdark, there are few, if any, good guys. Everybody is out to better their own position and win in the dog-eat-dog world of the story. It’s well-suited for dystopian novels, but it can really fit in any time period and any style.

By contrast, Noblebright has at least one character that strives to attain a certain nobility. In a lot of ways, they’re paragons, or at least want to be. Here’s a clip from a website about it: 

“The character is flawed, but his or her actions are generally defined by honesty, integrity, sacrifice, love, and kindness. The story upholds the goodness of the character; the character’s good qualities are not held up as naiveté, cluelessness, or stupidity, but rather shown to be worthwhile. Good characters can make a difference. Noblebright characters can learn and grow. They can deliberately choose to be kind when tempted to be unkind, they can choose generosity when it hurts, and they can influence their world and other characters for the better.“

It goes on to say that even if the world is an unholy dystopian mess, the overall tone of the style is hopeful, inspiring.

Yes, characters, like people are complicated, and we don’t always know how to choose good, because we might not be fully aware of what “good” is. That’s OK, it’s all a part of the exploration and the growth.

So often, in tabletop RPGs, players leap for the evil side of the alignment scale. It’s not only easier, but in many cases, more fun to play someone that’s a crazy, bloodthirsty murder hobo. In a world without consequences, who would blame them?

But a big, big part of the reason why I made The Hero’s Tale game and taught it to my sons, and why I’m writing the story of A Tale of Heroes, is that it’s better to be a good guy.

So, now, I’m proud to announce that all of this, the game, the story, is part of the Noblebright movement! 

Monday, May 13, 2019

125 - “Dragons or Not Dragons” - 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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“And I saw a whole flight of ’em, I swear it! There musta been a half a dozen!”

As Korr and Parith stepped through the flimsy wooden door of the pub, many sets of eyes turned to look. It was dim inside and more than a bit smokey. There were a few lanterns hung from rusty nails hammered into pillars and rafters. Normally, they wouldn't have been lit this early in the day, but the heavy overcast skies and the looming storm made them necessary.

The lanterns shone down on a few tables in a main common hall. To their left was a stone hearth. The fire was not lit on this summer afternoon, even if it was a chilly one. Three men, all human, huddled around a table off to Korr's right. After sizing up Korr and Parith, they returned to their argument.

“They were not dragons.”

“I tell ya, they were! I saw them, flyin’ o'er the city in the deep o’ last night!”

“They weren't dragons. They were drakes. They hide in the high rafters of a few tall churches. Some live in the understreet drains. You see one of them flying about every few months.”

“Aye, but these were bigger than the little drakes!” the first man, shorter and stockier, said, “and there were a lot o’ them!”

Parith stepped further into the hall, past the hearth, but was stopped by a matronly, well-dressed woman in a long, billowy dress. It was lacier and frillier than most barmaid’s dresses, and a garish red and yellow, contrasting to the blues, browns, and roses of her not-at-all subtle makeup. Her large and plentiful jewelry pieces plainly announced to everyone around that she was in charge. She raised both her hands to signal them to not enter any further. She didn’t speak immediately, but eyed them quizzically.

Parith attempted a slight bow. “Pardon me, madam, is this where we might find those of the Guild of the Drunken Sword?”

Her eyes narrowed and her full cheeks stretched into a scowl. “That depends. You got a job you need done? You looking to hire?” Her voice was thin and nasal, and not at all like the daintiness of her clothes.

Parith glanced back at Korr, whose eyes narrowed. Tell her the truth. Parith continued, “Actually, no.”

She stepped to her left and Korr could see that she walked with both a limp and a cane.

“Then you’re wasting your time, then. We’re not taking on new membership right now.”

“Actually, my friend and I are looking merely for some ale,” Parith paused, “and some information.” As she hobbled to the back bar, he added, “We can pay for both.”

She shifted her weight behind the counter and tapped her long, reddened fingernail on it. Parith nudged Korr, who dug a few coppers out of his purse and set them on the counter, unsure of the right amount. Korr shot him a questioning glance, then added a silver to the stack. Parith nodded.

She smiled at the coins, then at her visitors, and began pouring drinks into tall tankards. “I’m sorry for the impatience. We’re a small guild, so we got to be careful. These are strange times. Our wizards are thinking they might have to go into hiding.”

She offered Korr his tankard and he took a sip. It tasted foul, like the ale had not aged well. He tried not to make a face.

She looked at him as if expecting him to and waiting for it. Finally, she said, “Well, there’s your ale. What information are you looking for?”

Korr and Parith both set their tankards down, and Korr said, “We’re looking for a man named Heathrax.”

She waited for him to say more, then shrugged. “What, that’s all you got? A name? Heathrax? What kinda name is that?” She looked at Parith, who also lifted his shoulders.

“We might assume that at one point, he was a great knight. My master spent some time defending the throne, so they may have met in His Majesty’s service.”

She grunted, then screamed out, “Hey, Chokkar!” One of the men who had been arguing at the table turned around in response. “They’re looking for some old knight. Sir Hatrack or something.” The man wandered over to the bar.

“Sir Hatrack?” He laughed.

“Heathrax.” Korr corrected, “And we believe he may have been a knight.”

The man paused and set his own drink on the bar. He was fairly young, but his unkempt beard and frizzy hair made him look much older. “Well, if he was a knight, they’d have a record of his Accolade Ceremony. That would be in the archives of the Cathedral in CentreTown. You could look there.”

Parith frowned and choked down another sip. “That’s a problem. They won’t let us into CentreTown, much less the holiest of cathedral archives.”

“Pfft! That’s nothin’” The man scoffed, “Romey over there can make you papers. He’ll get ya in, for sure!”

Korr looked at Parith, who smirked and nodded. Korr sighed loudly and reached for his purse, yet again.



<<<>>>



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

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Thursday, May 9, 2019

124 - “How Did I Get Here?” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

“Where are you leading me this morning, Parith?” Korr shifted the strap of his leather and cloth satchel over his shoulder so he could pull his shirt more tightly around him. A cool breeze chilled him. The sky was a dark grey overcast and it would probably rain soon. For now, his sandals shuffled on the dusty streets of the Twynne Rivers OuterWall. Even with the chill and the clouds, there were still lots of people on the streets and Korr struggled to keep up with Parith’s quick-footed pace.

“We didn't have much luck in the pubs yesterday,” Parith explained over his shoulder, “and they wouldn't let us in Centre Town to see the library, so I thought we'd try an adventurer's guild. One of the innkeepers yesterday told us about this one, remember? The Guild of the Drunken Sword. Apparently they take their payments in ale as well as cash. Maybe they’ll know how to find someone.”

In spite of his own skepticism, Korr followed. They turned from the wide and busy street onto a much smaller side road. The heavy cloud cover and the closeness of the shops and homes made it much darker than it should be on a summer morning, nearing noon.

Parith held his elbows tight against his side, but his thin, loose shirt did little against the wind. It swirled up dust and debris left in the alleyway as it blew past them.

“So,” he said, shrugging his shoulders in, “Heathrax, Heathrax, Heathr--how did you manage to get this quest, anyway? Did your master just walk up to you with a note and tell you to take it to him?”

The road turned and snaked between buildings and structures, some of which were little more than scrap planks of wood tethered together to make a sort of shanty. Others were more solidly-built houses of wooden beams and stucco, but few were more than one level. Dusty children shouted and ran between the passers-by. Chickens clucked and scratched as if the neighborhood were their dinner plate.

As he walked, Korr responded, “At the Academy, we study the fighting arts and work to become more connected to our world and our lives. We are striving to master our souls and our bodies. Once we achieve a certain level of progress, we must complete a Challenge before we continue. Each disciple must choose a task, a difficult quest, and then must leave the safety of the academy home to accomplish it. The ones that succeed and return can continue their studies.”

“Some don’t return?”

“Some find it too difficult, give up, and then choose to go their own way. A few don’t survive.”

Parith stepped over a small barrel in his path. “So, what, you just raised your hand and said, ‘Hey, I'll take the one with the least instructions’, right?”

Korr sighed as they walked. How long do I have to endure this irreverence? “While my fellow disciples were choosing their Challenges and planning their journeys, I contemplated all that my master had done for me and how he had changed my life.”

Parith stopped and looked at Korr, as if sensing something important was coming.

“So, rather than choosing my own task, I asked him if there were something he wanted to have done, some service I could do for him. I remember he smiled at me with a bit of surprise. Then he thought a moment and asked me to deliver a greeting to an old friend.”

Korr narrowed his eyes as a smile danced across Parith's face. “That's it?” Parith asked, stifling a laugh. “Nothing like--Oh, I don't know--killing some horrendous beast or finding a lost gem of power? No princesses to rescue or oppressors to topple...?”

Korr straightened and took in a breath. “I consider it an honor that he would send me on a personal mission so meaningful.”

They walked on. “But your master didn't tell you how to find him.”

Korr was thoughtful as they turned another corner. “Actually, I asked my master about that.” Korr paused when Parith looked around and stopped, a mild look of surprise on his smile. “I asked him why he couldn't simply take a rest from teaching to visit his friend. I said it might be more joyful for him to see his friend side by side. Or, maybe he could be contacted by the power of an oculus.”

Parith shook his head to get his hair out of his eyes. “And?”

“And what?”

Parith nudged Korr's arm. “What did he say?”

“He said that if he did that then it wouldn't be a challenging task for me.”

Parith couldn't help but let go of all the laughter he’d been holding in. Korr scowled. “You mock me- and my master!”

“Yes, I do, friend!” he said, then urged, “Oh, relax! The more I know you, the more you fascinate me! It may well be to my doom, but, hey, I’ll follow you on your adventure. I guess I can help you earn a mission badge for your shirt.”

Parith stepped toward the door of the pub where they had been standing.

Korr followed, “Actually, it’ll be a tattoo.”


<<<>>>



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, May 6, 2019

123 - “Learning Art, Learning Life” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

A damp and almost cold wind rushed through the open spaces in the bell tower, blowing across Korr and his blanket. Korr was used to being uncomfortable. His height, and his gangly and clumsy frame, had always made it difficult to fit into places, like beds, doorways, and bell towers.

In the dormitory of the academy where he had grown up, there had been more room than this, but the reedy and spindly mattresses were still never quite long enough for his legs or his head. The fact that he had been crowded into a room with a half dozen other disciples did not make it any more livable.

Korr had struggled to learn the motions and forms of the art. Where other, even younger students advanced much more quickly, his body didn’t respond as naturally to the quickness and delicate motions it required. He remembered extra hours of practice in the stone-floored courtyard, sparring with other disciples. They had been patient with him, but he never got close to their skill level. Many times, he ended up with his back painfully flat on the hard stones, staring up to the clouds in the sky. Sometimes, when they would practice after evening meals and meditations, he would end up looking at the stars like he did now. In any case, he always seemed to be on the losing end of the throw.

The others were quick to laugh at his position, but also quick to give him a hand up to try again. The master said that even if he wasn’t learning to fight, he was learning how to live.

When he had begun growing into a young man, after thirteen or fourteen winters, the master and a few of the older disciples had talked to him. It was a night he remembered well. They had been in the meditation hall, one dark winter evening. The large open space was lit by a central fire in a large pit, and dozens of candles glowing around the perimeter of the room. All of the disciples had ended their meditations and stood to leave. Korr had remained, eyes closed, head bowed, with his face to the fire, struggling to clear his troubles from his mind.

He heard the brushing of robes and opened his eyes to see three of the older, most skilled students sitting near him, bowing their heads. They all wore their daily white meditation robes, and they glowed with a bit of yellow gold in the candle light.

Korr glanced from one face to another in the quiet dim. The smell of smoke and candle wax filled the hall. He wondered why they were here. I must be in some kind of trouble.

In a moment, the master stepped into his view, also in white. He was an old man, with very long and thin white hair, and a long beard. Korr had seen him on the sparring floor, however, and knew of his prowess. His seemingly frail arms moved without effort, and the disciples he opposed twisted and tossed around him as he breezed between them, leaving them all flat on the floor. Korr knew he would never be at the master’s level.

The master clapped twice, quickly, and all of the disciples there looked to him at the signal.

“Maan Korr is your brother. He is diligent and his effort is constant and true.” The master said. Korr didn’t smile, even with the compliment, because he sensed there was more coming. “But he struggles to learn the forms and the movements of the art. Even some of the simpler motions are beyond his grasp.”

Korr’s dropped his head. He knew what was coming. He was not keeping up. He would be sent away. The silence in the room, sparked only by the crackling of the fire, hung heavy on his shoulders.

“What are his weaknesses?” the master asked.

The others hesitated, unsure. Finally, one of them spoke. “He is not so nimble.”

“His movements aren’t quick enough.”

“He tries, but he doesn’t execute properly.”

“He struggles to keep his balance.”

Then it was quiet. Korr bowed his head low to the floor, partly to show deference, and partly to hide himself.

The master continued, “And what are his strengths?”

This question surprised Korr at first. Even though, in practice, the master always showed the things the disciples did right and wrong, he had not expected this.

“His arms and legs are strong.”

“That’s true! When he does land a hit, you know you’ve been hit!” A ripple of laughter went through them. Korr raised his head, confused. The others were looking at him, smiling. He wondered if they were mocking him, but they didn’t seem to be. The master stepped in front of him and got down on his knees.

He said, “So, what can be done? What has to change?”

Korr looked around in wonder. What was going on? What would happen to him?

One of the other disciples raised her finger and suggested, “We could practice with him more.”

Another said, “We could help him with his forms!” Others nodded.

The old master shook his head. “He already practices more than anyone else. That hasn’t helped.”

Once again, the hall fell silent. Korr felt a cold wind blow down from the smoke vent in the ceiling. He wanted to pull his robes more tightly around him, but he didn't dare move.

A motion from his right. Another disciple raised a finger with hesitation, but didn’t speak.

The master noticed and nodded to him. The boy cleared his throat and finally bowed his head. “Master, you have taught us that we should find the weakness of our opponents, right? That we should shape the art of the fight to those weaknesses, right?” The master nodded and the student continued, “What if we were to shape the art to Korr’s strengths?”

The master stood and clapped his hands twice again. Korr looked up as the master smiled and nodded. Korr suddenly saw that this is where the master had wanted the discussion to go all along. He looked at his fellow disciples in wonder and disbelief.

“This will be a difficult task. You will be creating a new art, a new style. You four will begin in the morning. You will work with strength and stability instead of quickness and balance. You will all learn much in the process.” He stepped away, his robes flowing, and glanced back at Korr with a nod.

Korr had immediately bowed low, this time with deep gratitude and relief. His eyes had dripped tears onto the wooden floor as his friends patted his shoulders and left.

Korr lay back on the wooden floor of the bell tower, with his fingers laced behind his head. He breathed deep, staring out of the window spaces and savoring the chilly breeze blowing through 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!
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Thursday, May 2, 2019

122 - “Another Part of the Plan” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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The inn was one of the finest in the CenterTowne quarter of Twynne Rivers. It had cost Tonklyn a couple of gold pieces to the house master just to be considered for a room. But this was no Outer Wall corner pub, either. This was a tall stone structure with fine rugs on the floors and delicate sheets on the thick, padded mattresses. Heavy velvet curtains hung from the posts of the bed. An ornate table with a set of fine porcelain basin, pitcher, and cups, as well as thick, soft washcloths. All sat at the ready, waiting for him to wash before sleeping.

He wore a loose, light night robe that flowed as he stepped across the room. He picked up a wine  glass that he had poured a few minutes ago and walked through a doorway to the left of the table. He stepped out onto a narrow stone balcony overlooking the city.

A chilling breeze blew past him, rustling his night robe and his hair. There air was cooler than it had been, and carried a hint of dampness. That will bring clouds, and maybe rain tomorrow. I hope it lingers.

He had spent a lot of his time on this journey remembering his recent changes of fortune, going from simple scholar boy to the Chancellor of the future Dragon King. His time with his new master had been both exciting and terrifying. If the old scholars and high priests that he had slaved for only knew what was to hit them... In only a few days. Then, soon enough, this entire kingdom will shake to its knees. 

The shadows on the balcony behind him hissed and billowed, sending an unnatural chill past him. He had known his master would contact him. That's the only reason why he wasn't already in bed and asleep. It had been a long day.

“Tell me,” the dragon's voice whispered through the shadows, “of the meeting. Is the attack in place? Is everyone ready?”

 Tonklyn's lips turned a bit in a subtle smile. He's like a child hoping that acrobats will come to the festival. 

“Yes. All is ready. Drakes and mages are gathering as we speak. Though our brothers in the Church are not so confident.” He didn't even try to hide his sarcastic disdain.

“They can't back out!” The shadows rippled with anger.

“Clearly not. At this point, events will proceed, regardless.” Tonklyn hoped that would stay off his master’s wrath, but it only seemed to anger him more.

“The Bishops might betray us. We must strike swiftly!” Rage was building in the dragon's voice. Tonklyn tensed.

Find your calm. Breathe deep. Ease your fear. He thought of his reminiscing through the past few days and focused on Kirraxal's voice. The dragon had learned to speak common much more clearly than he had when they first met. Thinking about this detail allowed him to keep his own emotions in check.

“They won't betray us, I think. That would reveal their own involvement.” He took a deep calming breath. “Truly, I feel confident that all will go well.” After a moment, Tonklyn continued, “Although I agree that it's a good idea to quicken the attack by a day. That opportunity will catch the Church by surprise and allow us to sow more chaos.”

Kirraxal didn't respond immediately and Tonklyn sensed a calming coming through the darkness. “That will serve me well,” the shadows finally said, then added, “did you discover the cathedral archives?”

Tonklyn’s shoulders tensed again and he took in a sharp breath. He felt that same wave of fear every time he had to tell his master anything bad. It wasn’t easy, but he had learned to walk the delicate balance between frankness and equivocation. This time, he chose the former. “No, sire, not yet. They have an extensive library near the main hall, but--”

“Let that be your primary task then! There is a good chance that the dagger and the scrolls we seek will be found there. If you can find it, the chaos of the attack will give you an excellent opportunity to plunder it.”

Tonklyn exhaled. “Yes, sire. It will be done!” He hoped that his voice sounded convincing. Or do I need to convince myself?

The shadows warped and twisted one last time, and the voice hissed out, “Good. Do not fail me, human.”

“No, sire. I will not!” Tonklyn said as the normal darkness of the night returned. “I will not,” he repeated, alone once again.


<<<>>>



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Monday, April 29, 2019

121 - “The Plan” - Tonklyn - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>

A young acolyte of the cathedral in plain brown robes rushed to open one side of the tall double door as Tonklyn approached. The boy couldn’t have been more than a dozen winters old and struggled to pull the heavy wooden portal back. Its hinges creaked in the night's darkness. Tonklyn passed through, with his three guards alongside. He didn’t acknowledge the boy nor the two armed soldiers of the Holy Guard on either side of the door, but he did note their presence.

As soon as he entered the large hall, the sounds of arguing voices reverberated through the tall vaulted ceilings. Several long wooden tables stood in the center, surrounded mostly by empty chairs. As he and his entourage neared them, memories flooded back. Many times he had been called on to deliver tomes and scrolls from the Royal Library to this elegant room in the Holy Lights Cathedral as Bishops and theologians had debated doctrine and the policies of the Church. The room was mostly dark, now, lit only by a few oculi mounted on the pillars near the head of the table. In the shadows around him he could make out the outlines of magnificent stained glass windows on the east wall and long elaborate tapestries on the west. It will be a shame to see them ruined.

“...And I still say it’s the best way to weaken the guild’s hold on the King!”

“Well, that’s very easy for you to say. You won’t be attacked!”

“Our people will be in the attack. They’ll also be at risk!”

Tonklyn pulled a chair away from the table, not taking any care to do it quietly. It scraped across the floor, interrupting the argument. Tonklyn shifted the chair aside and sat down. It was very comfortable, with delicate pillows and red velvet covering. The armrests were ornately carved. He scooted it back up to the table as two of his soldiers positioned themselves behind on either side of him. The third stood back some small distance, at the ready. He gently ran his hand along the smooth and polished surface of the table. When he had been here before, the priests hadn’t allowed him to sit in these chairs, or even to be at the table. Now, he had everyone’s attention, and he was in no hurry to give it up.

“Good evening to you, Bishops,” he finally said, gently, and nodded a short bow toward two white-robed clergy standing at the head of the table. One was a heavy man with a staff and a pointed hat with gold trim. He had an angry expression. The other was thinner and maybe even a little taller and older. She stood quietly with her arms folded before her. She also wore white robes, but hers were much more elaborate that her companion’s, and the three starbursts on her left chest glistened with higher authority in the soft light.

Tonklyn had not met her before. He shifted his attention to the other two men, sitting across the table from him. They were both dressed well, almost like nobles, but not in formal robes. One, taller, was human, and the other, an elf. “And to you good men, Illitharin and...  and...” Tonklyn paused and formed an insincere smile, “I’m sorry...”.

“Balek. Of Haffenberg”

“Balek!” Tonklyn repeated, pretending to remember. “Well. Then. I didn’t think I was early for our meeting.”

The elf Illitharen jumped in with an even, but cutting tone. “You’re not. The good bishop here was just telling me how he thinks that the plans have changed.” Tonklyn saw the large man tense and take in a breath, but no one spoke.

Easy, easy. There’s a lot of power in patience. Finally, Tonklyn broke in, “And would someone like to let me know just how the plans have changed?”

The two bishops exchanged glances. The man took a breath and exploded. “This cathedral is the finest building in all of Twynnham’s Kingdom! It’s the centerpiece of the Church! We don’t want it to be damaged. Perhaps we can make the attack at another chapel in the city. Or the Royal Library. In addition, The Consilio Episcopi will be meeting here the day before the dragons come. There is much to be done and an attack will throw the Church into chaos!”

Tonklyn nodded and glanced back and forth between the bishops and the others. “I see.” He smiled before continuing. “I was under the impression that chaos in the church was one of our mutual goals. Might I remind you that we discussed how you should be able to emerge from such a crisis with greater authority in your Council? Is the Wizard’s Guild not our common enemy? We discussed how to make the King blame them for the attack, further weakening their position in the Kingdom.”

Tonklyn addressed the other men, “Aren’t the mages and drakes readying for the attack itself? You have been gathering them, haven’t you?”

Illitharen was quick. “Yes, they are gathered and ready. More come daily. I might add that the drakes are difficult to conceal and control, so we shouldn’t delay.”

The two Bishops were silent, but their eyes spoke volumes.

Tonklyn stood, without his previous smile. His guards stepped away and he pushed back his chair, making it echo through the hall. “The attack will go on as planned. You can be ready and seize the advantage, or not. That is your choice. A good night to you all.” Illitharen and his companion also stood.

Tonklyn strode out of the room, with his guard and the other two men following. They passed through the doors and into the dark hallway. As they began descending a long, curving staircase, Tonklyn called out, “Illitharen!”

The elf hurried to catch up. “Yes, sir?” He was nervous to walk near the edge of the narrow stairway.

“What have you heard from our brothers of the Chapter of Westwood Manor?”

“Nothing at all, sir. We’ve seen none of them in Twynne Rivers since their defeat. Should we search for them?”

“Don’t bother,” Tonklyn said, stepping off the stairway into a long hallway. “The plans for the attack have changed. The priest is right. He is afraid that the Church will fall into confusion. I agree.”

“What?” Illitharen’s face twisted in surprise.

Tonklyn smiled at him. “So, make the attack happen the night before.”


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, April 25, 2019

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

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<<<>>>

All Karendle knew was that she was starving. The grumbling in her stomach picked her up out of her deep sleep and threw her back down on her bed.

Her bed.

She opened up her eyes with the sunshine of the early afternoon streaming in through the window. She lay in a bed, not a pile of straw with blankets, nor the hard, splintery boards of a old barge’s deck, but a bed, with sheets and pillows.

It was a small room, but it looked simple and clean. There was a chair and table with a basin and cloth against the wall opposite her, and her blanketroll and purse on the floor below it. She sat up. She was still in her traveling clothing. She hadn’t even taken off her boots.

Her head slowly cleared of the sleepy fog. The barge had arrived well after midnight, and she had paid the final part of her fare, then walked along the deserted streets of the Twynne Rivers WaterFront Quarter. The main thoroughfare had oculus lanterns shining every other block or so, but still had been very dark. She had finally found an inn that still had light in the windows, and had gotten a room. She’d paid for several nights, with meals, and that had pretty much exhausted her silver.

She stood and walked over to the wash basin. She sat on the chair, took off her boots and leggings, then her tunic. She wiggled her stubby toes, glad to have them free of the boots for the moment. She dipped one of the cloths into the basin, wrung it out, and began bathing. As she wiped off several days of summer sweat and exhaustion, her hand passed over her side. That’s the spot where the dagger stabbed me.

She twisted her torso and arm to look at the spot again. It didn’t hurt, and there wasn’t a scar, but she remembered the pain of the blade, and fear in her heart. She thought of how DeFrantis had healed her, saving her life. The time they had both spent captured was difficult, even frightening, but strangely bonding as well.

Thissraelle also healed me, later, after we all escaped from the manor. Her thoughts drifted as she pulled another tunic and leggings from her pack and dressed. So, why was she so angry with Thissraelle, and not at DeFrantis? That’s easy! DeFrantis isn’t such a spoiled insufferable little... little... elf!

She tightened on her belt and stepped out into the hallway, then to the inn’s common hall. She sat down at a table, and in a few moments, had a hearty steaming bowl of stew and a small loaf of bread before her. Eagerly, she dug in and ate.

While she ate, she glanced around the hall. This was not the same inn where she had stayed when she first arrived in Twynne Rivers almost two months ago, but they were very similar. There, she had met two men, one a human, and the other an elf. She had been hungry and frustrated, not altogether unlike how she felt today. They had engaged her as a wizard hunter. The wizards, they said, were a plague on the city, and needed to be arrested. To that end, they had given her the magical oculi she now held in her pouch. Two of them, stones of grey granite, were imbued with dimensional powers, to enable her to entrap others deep in their core. The men had said to bring the stones back to them, full of captured wizards, and she would be well paid, and get more oculi.

Later, they had even told her to capture Thissraelle. She’d had many opportunities to do that. They would have paid her well. There had certainly been times where she’d been angry enough to do that.

Well, I’ve got one wizard trapped in these stones. It’s not the elf, but I hope that’s enough. I need more oculi. I can’t do magic without them. She took another bite and a gulp of ale. And I need more silver. Maybe even gold!

But I don’t trust those men. They won’t even tell me their names. They’re hiding something. She thought about them, picturing them in her mind. She would contact them using the mental powers of the sapphire oculus, and set up a meeting. How do I know they’ll come through? How do I know they won’t try to capture me?

A part of her wished she had her friends to back her up. She knew they would, but she didn’t know if she wanted them to. She was on her own, now.

She pulled her purse off her belt, and looked inside, assuring herself that the oculi were all, in fact, inside. They were. Two granite stones, and one sapphire. Reaching in the bag, she picked up the deep blue gem. She felt its cool, smooth surface against the palm of her hand, and thought about the magic it allowed, and an image, an idea began to form in her head. She smiled. Hmmm... That might work. I’ll need some practice with this gem, first, though.


<<<>>>



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, April 22, 2019

119 - “Rolling on the River” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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<<<>>>


Part 10: Cityscape

In the previous part: Tonklyn and his guards traveled overland from the burned out manor house to the city. Tonklyn remembered how, two years before, he had journeyed to the Western Mountains to find the lost palace of the Dragon Kings. While there he had encountered the dragon Kirraxal. After dodging firey spit and angry teeth, Tonklyn had convinced the dragon not to kill him, but that they could work together instead.

At the monastery, Thissraelle had some troubles with her friends. Nobody seemed to want to go where Thissraelle did, and she was upset at Karendle for leaving. She had a dream visitation from St Ivarr, a great champion of the Creator, who told her she must gather her friends and take a message to Heathrax, even though she didn't want to. Then her friends all rallied around her, and she, Eddiwarth, and Granthurg set out on the barge to find Karendle in Twynne Rivers. Maybe, just maybe, they might be able to figure out who this Heathrax is!



119 - “Rolling on the River” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

The trip down the Wynne River from Dirae had been uneventful for Karendle. She’d immediately booked passage on a barge, and had spent a long and cold night sleeping on the hardwood cargo deck as it bobbed about in the riverwater at the pier. She knew that she could have gotten a room at an inn, but she didn’t have many silver pieces, and she knew she’d have to have a safe place to stay once she’d gotten to Twynne Rivers.

The riverman driving the barge had nudged her awake with his foot that morning. “We’re heading out!” he had announced in a gruff voice. She had frowned, and gotten up. The boat had lurched away from the dock and soon they were floating with the current toward the city.

They had been floating for most of the morning in silence when she finally got too hungry to wait any longer, and had asked the giant if he had any food for lunch. He’d grunted and told her to look in a storage trunk at the bow. She had gone and found some stale hardbread and a dry crackly cheese. She had become way too accustomed to Granthurg’s generous and helpful disposition, and had forgotten just how ornery most of the riverrunners could be.

Still, something made her bring some of the food back to him as well. He took it and made a grunting sound in his throat. I guess I’ll take that as “Thanks”. 

After the day faded to night, she tried to sleep again, but wasn’t able to. The gentle motion of the barge rocking her back and forth should have relaxed her, but it just made her more tense. She lay on her back and looked up at the stars as they floated along.

She shifted uncomfortably on the flat, hard wood. Lying on her side was even worse. Granthurg would have at least made sure that I had a pillow and a blanket. He didn’t charge me as much as this guy did, either.

Her thoughts drifted back to Granthurg, then to DeFrantis. I already miss her. I should have talked to her before I left. She hadn’t thought anything through once she’d decided to leave. She wouldn’t have even talked to Thissraelle if the elf hadn’t interrupted her packing.

Thissraelle.

Karendle shook her head and closed her eyes. I don’t want to think about her.

Once she had the thought in her mind, however, she couldn’t move away from it. She just doesn’t get me! She’s never had to struggle. Life has always been handed to her. 

Too bad it’s not so easy for me.

She sighed and opened her eyes again. As she thought those words, she could hear them ringing hollow in her mind. She really didn’t know Thissraelle. How could she say what kind of struggles the elf had in her own story?

Her eyes flitted from one star to another, thoughtlessly mesmerized by the tiny glowing spots. There were no clouds tonight, just a vast panorama of points of light.

She caught a motion in her vision and glanced to her right. What was that? She shifted her head and focused on that part of the sky, but saw only a black and white speckled void. She rolled her head back.

There it was again! A shadow moving quickly across the sky, interrupting the starlight as it passed, moving east. What is that? When she looked again, it was gone.

Now fully alert, she sat up and scanned the skies. She wanted to tell the lapping water and the endless chirping of the crickets to be quiet so she could focus her attention. There it was again! No, wait. That came from the same direction. That’s a second one. That one was bigger! Or maybe just lower.

“Hey!” she called out to the riverman. “Did you see that?”

“Huhn?” he growled, “See what?”

She sighed, “Never mind.”

She began scanning the sky again. East, west, and then to the north and south, but she saw nothing. Finally, she lay back, and rested her eyes.

“We’ll be docking in Twynne Rivers soon.”

“Thanks.” she replied, without really caring.


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

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

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<<<>>>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m so sorry I can’t go, Thiss.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



End of Part 9


<<<>>>



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, April 15, 2019

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

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<<<>>>


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

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

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

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

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

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

“A knight?” Antonerri said, with curiosity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thissraelle’s heart skipped at this revealation.

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

Eddiwarth pressed, “Talked? About what?”

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



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

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

116 - “Not Much Help” - 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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The evening sun was tossing its last rays over the horizon and past the trees, barely making the trip through the monastery’s open windows to dimly illuminate the shelves along the walls in the library. Crickets and tree frogs sang a quiet chorale of chirps and whistles that faded into Thissraelle’s empty mind. She slumped low in the large, cushioned chair, with her legs crossed up in front of her. She had so much to think about, so many questions that she’d been asking herself all day. Now, she was tired of it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you?”

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

Granthurg just shrugged, not knowing what to say.

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

The giant nodded his head in agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Hmmm?”

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


<<<>>>



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

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

Monday, April 8, 2019

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

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

What a day. What a strange day. 

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

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

It felt so strange to not have Karendle there today.  

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

Soon she was asleep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



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

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