Thursday, September 19, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Monday, September 16, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man smiled. "You know your scriptures!"

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

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

"My master says--"

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

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

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

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

He invited, “I would like to show you something. Follow me."


<<<>>>



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

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

159 - “Practice and Wisdom” - 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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Stance. Korr's feet stomped the stone floor.

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

Breathe. 

Sweep left, right. Punch.

Breathe.

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

He closed his eyes before continuing.

Breathe slowly.

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

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

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

He opened his eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



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

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Monday, September 9, 2019

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

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

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

Really? What does it look like? 

"You take them. You can use them."

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

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

"What are you talking about?"

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

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

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

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

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

Karendle shook her head.

"So what's wrong?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Karendle smiled and took Thissraelle in a tight embrace.

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

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

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


<<<>>>



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

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Of Children and Dragons is now on Audible!


Here's some Exciting News!


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


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


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


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

Thursday, September 5, 2019

157 - "Resolution” - Karendle - A Tale of Heroes

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

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

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

Well, let's get this over with.

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

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

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

"What happened? Can I heal you?"

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

"Relax. I can heal you!"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


<<<>>>



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

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Monday, September 2, 2019

156 - “Heathrax?” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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

<<<>>>

It feels like I haven't eaten in weeks! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“A man named Heathrax.”

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

Korr nodded. “Yes. Heathrax.”

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

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

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

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



<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, August 29, 2019

155 - “The Seekers of The Great Reality” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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Thissraelle sat in the chair in her room. It was large and very comfortable. Being reunited with Eddiwarth and Karendle had been wonderful, but her head and body still ached, and after a while, she had needed to rest. While sitting there, she tried to clear her mind and reach out to Granthurg. As she started, her will leapt up inside her with a rush and a strength she’d never felt before. It swelled up as if her powers were eager to be used. Still, even with this extra surge, she could not reach him. She had no idea where to search, or to where she needed to reach out.

Where is our world from here? Thinking dimensionally really spins my head. The best dimensional wizard I know is my fath... Thinking of him made her teeth clench and her eyes burn. She choked down the feelings. The weight of her thoughts added to the soreness in her muscles and she just felt like she couldn’t move. She breathed deep and let herself melt into the chair and float off to sleep.

The sounds of footsteps jolted her awake. There was a woman in the room with her, wearing one of the same gray robes she had on. She was straightening the bed, and noticed Thissraelle. “Oh, hello! Here are your clothes.” She gestured to the stack on the end of the bed. Thissraelle stood and stepped over. She didn’t feel as sore and her head, while groggy from sleep, didn’t ache. The clothes she’d been wearing in the cathedral were now clean and neatly folded.

“Thank you,” Thissraelle mumbled.

“So, I’m Tarl of Twynne Rivers. Your friends probably told you about me.”

Thissraelle nodded. “They said you helped us out of the cathedral. They said you had gone back for more.”

“Yeah, but sadly, I didn’t get any more. By the time I got back to the chapels, most were already out or already dead. I did find a few frightened monks, but they refused to come with me.”

“Chapels? There were more?”

“There were three in Twynne Rivers that were attacked. The Grand Cathedral, one on the RiverFront, and one in NorthTowne.”

A moment of hope jumped in Thissraelle’s mind. “Did you see a giant? Near the RiverFront! Was a giant there, with a big warhammer?”

Tarl shook her head and Thissraelle slumped on the bed. She didn’t like not knowing whether or not he was safe. She felt a sudden pang of longing as she thought about her friends DeFrantis and Antonerri in Dirae. She wondered if they had heard about the attacks and what they would think if they didn’t hear from her. Maybe Granthurg had escaped harm, and went back to the monastery to see them. That would likely be what he would do.

“Come join us. We’re gathering in the courtyard.”

Thissraelle thought a moment, then stood and picked up her tunic. “Why would the monks refuse to come with you?”

“We are the Seekers. The Church of Three Lights doesn’t like us much.”

“The Seekers? You’re Seekers?” Thissraelle looked at the robe Tarl wore. She hadn’t noticed before, but now recognized the swirl pattern subtly stitched over the chest. The threads of the stitching were almost the same color as the robe. She remembered that pattern, a swirl drawn in toward a single point, as their symbol. Thissraelle had heard her father talk about the Seekers many times. She remembered that he didn’t like them, either, even venomously. She’d gathered that they were another organization of mages, like rivals. Guild members had been forbidden to join them. Yet, here they were, rescuing people from violent attacks. Not just that, but attacks that had come from the Wizard’s Guild. Thissraelle dropped her face to her hands. It’s all so confusing!

“You know of us?” Tarl said, stepping to the door.

“Very little, apparently.”

Tarl smiled and opened the door. "This place is one of our temples. It's like an outpost in The Vast." She stepped out.

“Thank you, again,” Thissraelle called after her, “for everything.”

Tarl nodded and closed the door.

They must know who I am, who my father is. Yet here they are, saving my life and caring for me. Thissraelle sighed, trying to shake off the confusion, then changed back into her own clothes.


<<<>>>



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, August 26, 2019

154 - “Into The Vast” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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Story Four
The Dragons of Emberfire

Part 12
Time




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Pain.

My head!

Darkness.

Throbbing pain.

My head...

Thissraelle’s arms and legs jerked.

She groaned.

More aching.

Pain shot through her limbs and up her spine.

She opened her eyes.

Light!

Bright light!

And yet, more pain.

She brought her hand up to cover her eyes. Her arm was stiff and sore as it moved. Her head still pulsed with pain. She moaned and moved her head slowly from side to side. That only made it hurt worse.

Under her hand, she blinked her eyes, then opened her fingers. As her eyes adjusted, she moved her hand away. To her right, there was a smooth stone wall, rising up to the ceiling above her. Just below the top was a line of small, dimly glowing oculus stones set into the wall in a line. Thissraelle blinked again and raised her head. She was in a small, sparse room. It didn’t seem as brightly lit as it had when she had first opened her eyes. Across the room was a large cushioned chair, next to a door.

She turned and leaned up. Her head throbbed with a pounding headache; her arms and shoulders were stiff and aching. She lay on a thick, soft mattress set on a stone bed, with a delicate blanket draped over her.

Where is this?

She eased the blanket off her legs and sat up on the edge of the bed. It wasn’t large, but it was comfortable. She was wearing a loose and thin gray robe of a fine, smooth cloth that felt like silk. The sleeves were long and open wide.

She raised her hands and rubbed her temple. Everything in her hurt. She stretched her shoulders back and that helped a little.

Where am I? Ivarr said I wasn’t dead, and this definitely doesn’t feel like heaven... She took in the small stone room, looking all around. It certainly doesn’t look like heaven, either.

She slid off the bed and stood. Her legs were a bit shaky, but they held. The robe hem dropped to just below her knees. She looked down at her bare feet and wriggled her toes, as if to see if they were real. Satisfied, she took a step, then reached out for something to steady herself. Finding nothing, she lurched to the wall and held herself up. Something didn’t feel quite right about this place. Standing on the floor felt oddly unreal, yet the feeling was still somehow familiar to her. Even though her mind was starting to clear, she wasn’t quite sure where that memory was from.

She saw her clothes draped across the chair, and her memory jolted a bit. That was what she had been wearing in the rainy streets of Twynne Rivers, looking for Karendle with Eddiwarth. It was what she’d been wearing as she struggled through the fires and fought the drakes in the cathedral. She stepped over to them and leaned on the chair. The leggings were still damp and muddy and the shirt and cloak smelled like smoke. So that was all real? And not too long ago. What happened? I was healing people, and wizards attacked the Bishop. I ran to help and...

Beyond that, her memory failed her.

She wobbled to the door, then stepped out into a hallway that ran left and right. Along the way there were many doors similar to the one where she stood, and rows of oculus lights up high, just like in her room. She thought she heard voices from the left and stumbled toward them. The smooth stone floor had the same strange feeling, as if the gravity was a little off. Or was that just her aching head?

The corridor ended in an opening, and she stepped through it onto a large stone terrace. She looked up in wonder and recognition. The sky above was a dark black, with huge distant expanses of colored clouds spread randomly in the emptiness. Red, Green, blue, white, in all shades swirled around each other. In spite of the dark sky, the terrace was well illuminated, as though lit from nowhere at all.  I’m in The Vast! She smiled, forgetting her pain for a moment. She spun out onto the terrace, her eyes drinking in the strangeness and the colors of the sky. I haven’t been in The Vast since I was a little girl! Huh. Maybe I am dead!

She ran to the edge of the terrace, where a stone railing stood, like a balcony. She leaned on it, looking in wonder out over the expanse. Down below, like above, were more clouds of color. Off in the distance, she saw more rocks, like floating islands drifting in the void. Others were smaller. Some were steady and stable, others gently turned or rolled. They all seemed to move slowly together through the skyspace, and Thissraelle realized that the landmass she stood on must be turning very slowly as well. Near a distant island, she saw a school of eelwhales, gigantic silvery creatures peacefully swimming with slowly undulating bodies through the space of the void.

“Hey! She’s awake!” A familiar voice called out.

She whirled around to see her friends, Eddiwarth and Karendle, walking toward her from a stone bench next to the wall near the corridor opening. Thissraelle shrieked and rushed toward them, jumping into an eager embrace. “Oh, it’s so good to see you both!” She stepped back, smiling, holding one hand of each friend and darting her gaze back and forth.

“How are you feeling?” Eddiwarth asked, surprised, squeezing her hand.

“I hurt all over, but it’s fine.” She smiled. “It’s fine. What happened? How did we get here to The Vast?”

“The Vast? The what?” Eddiwarth’s eyebrow tricked up.

Thissraelle dropped their hands and stepped back, pointing to the sky and all around her. “The Vast. That’s where we are. It’s this vast interdimensional space, full of nothing, and everything, darkness and light. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“So, we’re dead, then?” Karendle asked, hesitant.

Thissraelle laughed. “Probably not. When I was little, my father brought me here a few times, using dimensional powers. Well, not ‘here’, in this place, but ‘here’ in The Vast.”

Eddiwarth looked around. “It feels a lot like it did when I was trapped in the stone. That was weird.”

Karendle still looked uneasy. “We’re ‘probably’ not dead?”

“Well, that depends. How did we get here?”

“Tarl rescued us.” Eddiwarth explained. “Right after you got hit by the wizard’s magic, someone opened up a portal, like you did back at the manor house. A lady in a gray robe, sort of like yours, called to us to jump through. You were out cold, so we had to drag you into the portal. Korr and Parith helped.”

Thissraelle stepped back up to them, “Korr and Parith? And who is Tarl?”

Eddiwarth just shrugged. “We don’t know them. They came through with us. They also carried a few of the injured brothers. We put you and the monks in beds. Tarl changed you out of your wet, messy clothes, and then went back through a portal to try and save more people.”

“So, then, we’re very probably not dead.” Thissraelle nodded, “How long was I asleep?”

Karendle and Eddiwarth made confused faces at each other, “An hour, maybe two? Or... seems like a couple of days? Time is funny, here.”

Thissraelle laughed again, then suddenly stopped. “Where’s Granthurg?”


<<<>>>



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

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Thursday, August 22, 2019

“The Story So Far” - A Tale of Heroes

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To read a summary of Stories 1 and 2, click here.

Summary of Story 3 - Of Wizards and Dragons

Tonklyn begins the story by investigating the site of the manor where DeFrantis, Karendle, and the children were held. They look for remaining soldiers of the Dragon’s Flame cult and find none. They also look for a particular magical dagger and spell books, but don’t find those, either.

Later, Tonklyn returns to Twynne Rivers and meets with local leaders of the Dragon’s Flame and members of the Bishop’s Council of the Church of Three Lights. An attack on the Church’s Grand Cathedral is planned, to shake up the Church’s leadership and discredit the rival Wizard’s Guild.

In Twynne Rivers, Parith Laren, a wood-elven adventurer, meets Maan Korr, an acolyte of disciplined martial arts. Korr explains his task to find a man named Heathrax and deliver him a message from Korr’s teaching master. Their search eventually leads them to the ancient records of the Church’s Grand Cathedral.

At the monastery near Dirae, Thissraelle and Karendle are clashing and arguing. Karendle leaves, wanting to return to Twynne Rivers so she can trade the entrapment oculus she carries, which carries a captured wizard, for other oculi to allow her to continue working magic.

Thissraelle also meets St. Ivarr in a dream and is also told to find Heathrax. Granthurg and Eddiwarth prevail on her to return to Twynne Rivers to look for Karendle first. They leave, but DeFrantis and Antonerri must stay to care for the children in the orphanage at the monastery.

While in Twynne Rivers, Granthurg looks for his old employer Rinkmorr, who left a presumably magical dagger in Granthurg’s protection. Others who want the dagger attack Granthurg, and he and his friends in the Old Steersman Inn fight them away. His friends tell him that Rinkmorr is most likely dead.

On a dark, rainy afternoon, Thissraelle and Eddiwarth are near the Grand Cathedral and the Wizard’s Guild Hall, because they presume Karendle will be looking for the wizards that employed her. They find Karendle in the Cathedral. Using mental powers, they contact Granthurg, who is walking in a different part of the city.

At that moment, wizards leading drakes attack three chapels of the Church of Three Lights, including the Grand Cathedral and a lesser chapel near Granthurg. Thissraelle and Eddiwarth join Karendle and begin helping in the fight and healing the victims. They encounter Parith and Korr as well, defending the monks of the church. A priest fights the drakes but is killed by the wizards, who are wearing the robes of the Wizard’s Guild. They attack and overcome Thissraelle.

While the attack is raging above, Tonklyn is sneaking through the catacombs of the Grand Cathedral. He kills two of the guards he encounters and breaks into a chamber to steal the ancient shadow spell books. He is upset that the dagger was not there.

Granthurg also leaps to the defense of those in the chapel in the other part of the city. In the process of chasing one of the wizards into its bell tower, a large drake attacks him, grabs his leg, and flies away, carrying him. It’s not strong enough to carry him far, so they fall into the Wynne River. Granthurg uses the dagger to stab the drake, killing it.

After the fight, Granthurg spends some time healing from an infection in the wounds the drake inflicted. Then, he sneaks out and searches the city for Thissraelle and their friends. He can’t find any trace of them. Finally, he sails out of Twynne Rivers, turning his barge toward his family home in the Western Mountains.

A month goes by with no word from their friends, so Antonerri and DeFrantis marry in the monastery.

Finally, St. Ivarr visits Thissraelle again, and in spite of the fact that she is unconscious, renews her charge to search for Heathrax. Also, a swordswoman named Shylia’a is angry that she can’t join the City Guard, and encounters a strange old man preaching in the plaza.


<<<>>>



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, August 19, 2019

153 - "You Must be Mad” - Shylai’a - A Tale of Heroes

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Shylai’a (shih-LIE-uh) sat in the city square of a neighborhood in the city’s InnerWall quarter. She took a deep breath. She forcefully folded her tense arms with her fingers in fists. She crossed a leg over her knee in an attempt to appear casual, unaffected, but her clenched jaw and bouncing foot belied her real feelings.

A momentary breeze in the hot summer air rustled the leaves in the tree above her but did little to cool her mood. They need City Guards! Ever since the attack, they’ve needed more soldiers in the ranks! They’re actively recruiting skilled fighters instead of just pressing peasants like they usually do! So, why don’t they want me?

She snapped her head back and forth as uninterested people walked the street before her. Some stopped to shop or haggle with street vendors, while others just walked on.

She unfolded her arms and tried to forcibly calm them by rubbing her hands across her skirt of heavy banded leather. Part clothing, part armor, the long, thick slats of hardened leather hung from under her sword belt, and fell draped on either side of her leg, which still had the protection and coverage of heavy cloth underneath. She crossed her arms again, over the coarse blue tunic. I’m as skilled as any swordsman they’ve got! I can guard the city as well as any man. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be allowed to join!

But when she had stepped into the recruiting line, the captain had pulled her out and told her to “go home and play house.” When she’d argued that the city had been attacked and needed more defenders, he had shown her the short line of young men signing up and said, “And here they are! Just pick one and marry him!” The men had all laughed. Some had whistled and yelled, “Marry me, sweetheart!”

Shylai’a swore and stood up with her fists clenched. She stood still, tense, as if looking for something to kick or punch. Marry them? They’re all weak and scrawny mama’s boys! I could’ve taken any one of them in a fight! Finally she just grunted and started walking.

As she paced around the perimeter of the square, she noticed a group of people gathered in a clump. They all seemed to be focused on something in the middle of their circle. They were laughing and shouting, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Some street rat must be doing a funny dance. They’d better all watch their purses.

Shylai’a strode past them, shaking her head.

“...Great doom is coming! Doom!” an old man’s voice croaked out. “Doom shall befall this city with long dark wings and shiny teeth!”

“That happened last month, you old fool!”

“He’s not much of a prophet. He can only say what’s already happened!” The crowd laughed at their taunts. Some began to disperse. Between the bystanders, she caught a glimpse of an older man, standing up on a bench, wearing a dirty gray tunic over his hunched shoulders. He waved a gnarled wooden cane in the air. He was not tall and the sides of his head had long, stringy white hair over his ears and surrounding a sweaty bald spot.

“Snakes creep through the streets. Little ones. BIG ONES! You all must repent! You must find kindness! The Creator decrees it! If the people will abandon their secrecy and their darkness and their hatred and their hiding eyes, the flowers will yet bloom in this city!”

“There are already flowers here!”

“Yeah, it’s summer!”

The old man laughed. “Yes! The flowers will come! Joy will follow! Children will dance!” He jumped from the bench and began to shuffle his feet to imaginary music, holding his cane before him.

The bystanders, suddenly weary of their afternoon’s entertainment, began to go their separate ways. “You, there, friend,” The old man continued, taking a man by the arm. He turned his head one way and the other, looking closely at the bystander’s face. “Don’t you know what day it is? The new wind is sweet like fresh bread!”

Shylai’a found herself smiling at the harmless old man, in spite of her frustration. The bystander shook his arm free with disgust and just a bit of fear and tossed a few copper pieces at the old man’s feet. “Here. Save your preaching for the chapel!”

"Bless your steps!" the old man said as the bystander wandered away.

The old man noticed Shylai’a and stepped toward her, leaning his head far to one side as he looked at her. “Hmmm....”

“What?” she asked, amused.

“You have fish in your eyes...”

“You are a strange old man.”

He nodded, smiling. “Yes, I suppose I am.”


<<<>>>



This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

152 - "Where Am I?” - Thissraelle - A Tale of Heroes

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Thissraelle opened her eyes to darkness.

Surprised, she jerked her gaze all around her, but saw nothing. The last thing she remembered was also darkness. A shiver of fear rolled through her as she looked toward her hands and legs. She was surprised that she could see them. Quite clearly, in fact, as if her body alone were brightly lit from... somewhere?

Am I dead? 

She turned her hands over. They looked real, and she could flex her fingers. She grabbed at her dress. It was a fine, white linen, cut to fit her perfectly. Her delicately worked leather shoes formed beautifully to her ankle. Beyond her feet, again, there was nothing.

I'm falling! She panicked. She kicked her feet and flailed her hands, trying to feel or grab anything solid. Anything to hold on to.

Wait. No. I'm not falling.

She hung in the space, still except for her heavy breathing. I'm not falling.

Where am I? I must be dead.

She looked at her hands again. She grabbed her dress again and rubbed the fabric between her fingers. She ran her fingers through her hair and felt its texture. Do dead people feel things?

She floated for a moment, thinking and looking.

I might be upside-down. That thought made her smile. How would I turn over? Which way is up, anyway?

She slowly reached out to see if she could touch anything in the darkness.

Where's Eddiwarth? And Karendle? They were near me! Are they here, too? Her head and eyes bounced from side to side as she tried to find them.

No. Of course I can't see them. 

She filled her mind with her will, and a light blue haze began to form around her. As the feeling swelled inside, her mind came alive. She pushed herself forward, flying away into the emptiness.

Flying... Where?

She slowed to a... Stop? How can you move if there’s nothing to move to or from? How can you stop if you’re not really moving?

Well, that wasn't so helpful.

As she floated, pondering, confused, a bright and vivid light appeared beside her, startling and momentarily blinding her. She shielded her eyes with her hands. After a moment, her eyes adjusted to see a man in the light, and after a moment more, she recognized the face. He was not in armor like he was last time, but wearing a loose white tunic and leggings.

“Ah. Saint Ivarr.” She mumbled, “so, if this is heaven, it’s a bit underwhelming.”

He shook his head. “Fair Thissraelle, Wizard of Light. This is not heaven. Nor hell.”

“Well, if I were dead, I don’t think I’d be getting visitors, either.”

“You are, in fact, not dead.”

Thissraelle looked away. “So, where am I? It’s very dark here.”

Ivarr gestured with a wave of his hand. “It is as you choose. This is your mind.”

“If this is my mind, I’m not very creative.”

He shrugged. “Well, you ARE still unconscious.”

Thissraelle sighed and rubbed her face with her hand. “I haven’t found Heathrax yet.”

“No, you haven’t.” He drifted around her and faced her. “You have fought for your friends. You have healed and protected strangers.”

Anger and frustration welled up in her, flowing over and rushing out into the darkness. “Why do I need to find him? Heathrax. Who is he anyway? What’s happened to everyone? Why did my father make the Guild attack the Church?” She grabbed his shirt and shook it. “Why? Tell me why?”

He covered her hands in his and gently pulled them away. She released them and he answered, “You have much to learn. Much to learn about the world and yourself.” He let her hands drop, and his brightness started to fade.

“For now, rest.”

In a moment, she was swallowed in darkness again.



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

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Monday, August 12, 2019

151 - "Is That Me?” - DeFrantis - A Tale of Heroes

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

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My wedding. The sound of those words in DeFrantis’ head sent waves of excitement and confusion shivering through her whole being. She stared at the image of herself in the mirror. It didn't look real to her. Familiar, but not real. She looked... beautiful.

One of the ladies there with her, a plump and cheerful woman who easily had fifteen more winters of age beyond DeFrantis, set a delicate wreath of reeds and flowers over her dark hair. The woman and her friends had been with DeFrantis all morning, dressing her, turning her, combing and braiding her hair, and preparing her for her wedding. Andrina and little Lilia were there as well, sometimes handing things to the ladies, but mostly chasing each other around the room and playing.

My wedding.

"All right! Now stand up and let's have a look!"

DeFrantis stood and the three women spun her around, tugging and tucking the dress, sashes, and the flowers. DeFrantis had never met them before today. They were matrons of the congregation of the Church of Three Lights in Dirae, and Brother Mathezar had sent them to the monastery in the woods to be her attendants on her most special day.

It felt odd to DeFrantis. She was grateful to them, of course, but she would have preferred to have Thissraelle and Karendle there. As she thought of them, she felt the emptiness of missing them. She would have loved to have them helping her prepare, even if they would have been arguing for most of the time. Frankly, between the two of them, they would have ended up with her looking jumbled and confused, like a WinterFest evergreen that had been decorated by too many people. She pictured each of them in her mind. She was worried about them. She’d heard of chaos and battles in Twynne Rivers, and it had been weeks since the group of them left Dirae on Granthurg’s barge.

"Well, what do you think?"

DeFrantis looked in the mirror, transfixed.

Is that me?

Just last spring, she had looked like a drowned street rat, skulking through the heartless alleys of Twynne Rivers in the rain. Then, in that dark night, trapped in the dungeon of the guard tower, she had met Antonerri. Now here she stood, ready to be his bride.

Is that really me? She looked incredulously at the two ladies, and said, "Thank you so much. I don't know what to say!"

They laughed and embraced her. "Please, miss. We should be thanking you!"

"True!” One of the others said, “Since the slavers left town, our children can play without fear. By the Creator, I can actually go to church again!”

The third woman nodded, then added, “They call you the Deliverers of Dirae”. They hugged her one more time, then clapped, giggled, and fussed some more. It all seemed so strange for DeFrantis. Deliverer of Dirae? Is that me? I have an Earned Name? I had always been just DeFrantis. Just a street kid. 

A knock sounded gently on the door. They all froze with anticipation. Even the little girls stopped running. “Ladies?” The heavy door to the room muffled the brother’s hesitant voice, “Everyone is in place. They’re ready for you.”

An excited shiver rushed through DeFrantis’ back. Her pulse quickened a bit. She smiled at her attendant ladies, and they nodded back. “Lilia? Andrina? Are you ready?” The girls nodded, and the attendants straightened the girls’ small dresses and handed them baskets of flowers. DeFrantis drew in a long breath. “Let’s go, then!”

DeFrantis lifted her dress just above her feet, and they walked carefully out of the chamber, down some stairs and into the abbey courtyard. Colorful cloth streamers draped from trees to awnings and waved in the summer breeze. The mid-morning sun was bright and already quite warm. A cluster of brothers stood round the porch of the monastery’s chapel. She could see the Abbott’s mitred head and robed shoulders as he looked out over the monks. His eyes brightened as he saw DeFrantis and the girls approaching.

Some of the monks noticed, too. “They’re coming!” A whisper ran through the huddle. They parted to allow the girls passage to the porch. As they cleared the way, DeFrantis caught sight of Antonerri standing in front of the steps, watching her approach. He wore a long, white cloak over his shoulders, and a plain but smart tunic underneath, with wide sleeves and a finely-made thin leather belt. He straightened tall and tugged at his tunic. It looked less like an adjustment and more like he didn’t know what to do with his hands. He had neatly trimmed his beard for the occasion, and it framed his delighted smile.

Oh, that smile. He struggled so hard to find it. She found herself smiling as well. She took in a deep breath to calm her own heartbeats.

The little girls reached the porch and separated, one to each side as they had rehearsed the day before, to join the other children of the orphanage. DeFrantis stepped up next to Antonerri and he took her hand. He drew her toward him and kissed her forehead. She looked up into his eyes. Suddenly things fell into place, and it all felt real. Of all her life’s mistakes, struggles, and searches, this finally felt right. She was loved. She was home.

Antonerri turned to face the Father Abbott, and she did so as well. She held his hand tight. The Abbott began speaking, giving advice and reading scriptures about marriage and family, but she didn’t hear a word of it. It was a blur. After a bit, he paused, then read them each their questions and vows. Her eyes danced with his as they promised their lives to each other and the Abbott started praying over them in Latin. Then suddenly, she and Antonerri were kissing, laughing, and holding each other tight. The brothers were clapping and cheering, and the bells clanged a cacophony from the tower above. The moment left DeFrantis a bit dizzy. She buried her face into Antonerri’s neck and shoulders and held on, feeling her heart pounding. Lily, Andrina, and the other children rushed to grab a hold of the couple’s legs.

Finally, they relaxed, kissed again, and followed the Father Abbott into the chapel with all of the brothers for their first service of the mass as husband and wife.



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

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

Thursday, August 8, 2019

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

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

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Interludes


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thissraelle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why don’t I feel free?

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

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

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

I’ll go home.


<<<>>>



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

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