Thursday, August 1, 2019

148 - “Why?” - Granthurg - A Tale of Heroes

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Granthurg lurched onto the balcony just after the wizard in black. The man turned around and faced Granthurg with only a snarl and a dagger. He slashed out, but the giant easily stepped back and deflected the strike with his hammer handle. Granthurg could see fear in the man's face as he spun around and ran away, heading down the balcony. Granthurg swung the hammer at his retreating back. The wizard was quick, however, and the hammer only smashed into the wooden floor. The man dashed away in the dark haze, coughing.

Granthurg took up his hammer and gave chase. His heart pounded with determination, and his mind, with questions. Why did they attack? Why a chapel? And a cathedral, too? Why is he fleeing instead of fighting? Why isn’t he using his powers? 

Granthurg stumbled onto another ascending stairway, this one much more narrow. His will is spent! That’s why he’s running. His companion is down, and his own will is gone!

As Granthurg stepped into the stairway, it felt wrong under his feet, unsteady. This was the central spire, the bell tower of the chapel. The walls below were stone, but this structure was made of thick timbers and daub. Its foundation had probably been weakened by the first explosion that the striking wizard had thrown. This doesn’t feel safe. But I’ve got to get him. I’ve got to find out what’s going on. He pressed on upward, in spite of the creaking and swaying of the structure. It seemed to go higher than it had looked from below.

He reached the landing, and found a ladder leaning up the final way to the bell platform. He looked up through the gap to try and see the wizard, but couldn’t. Climbing up the ladder would make him an easy target. He shifted on the narrow platform, and felt it sway. He listened for the wizard, but only heard the crack of lightning and the response of thunder, mixed with screeches of drakes from down below.

Granthurg moved to the base of the ladder and looked up. “If you come down before this tower crumbles, maybe we can both come out of this alive!”

He heard no response.

“I don’t want to kill anyone. I’m just defending innocents,” Granthurg continued. “Come down and we’ll talk!”

The mage blew out three sharp, shrill blasts on a whistle. Its loud tone cut through the noise of the storm and the burning below. Who is he signaling?

Granthurg hefted his hammer close to the head in one hand, and grabbed an upper rung of the ladder with another. He ascended as quickly as he could, trying to rush the top. The opening wasn’t very big, but he got through it well enough, and climbed up onto the bell ringer’s platform. The wind through the open sides blew rain onto him, making his grip unsteady. The mage ran on him from behind and jumped on his back, slashing into his shoulder with his dagger. Granthurg shouted and twisted his back, throwing them both against a pillar.  The mage grunted with the impact, and the tower lurched and groaned just as loud. The bell swung and clanged hard with a deafening toll. The two both fell to the wet planks of the platform. Granthurg reached out to steady himself, and his hammer slid away. He reached for it, but the tower shook again, and the hammer fell through the gap under the bell. It clattered against the stairway below.

The wizard was crawling toward the ladder opening, and whistled his signal again. The wet boards and the angle of the platform were making it difficult for him to move quickly. Granthurg lunged onto him, punching into the ribs of his back. The man grunted and gasped for breath.

“Tell me why you attacked this church! What’s going on?”

The mage just coughed and wheezed.

Granthurg pulled his head back by his wet hair and snarled, “TELL ME!”

Granthurg heard the flapping of huge wings and an unearthly screech coming closer. The tower shook and leaned as the drake hit the side and gripped the timbers tight. It snaked its head and shoulders into the opening of the tower and snapped its teeth at Granthurg. The lurching tower and the clanging bell made it difficult for the drake to hit a solid bite, but its teeth raked across his arm muscles as he tried to deflect the attacks.  He flailed and punched to keep the dragon’s jaws away, and brought up his feet to kick at its throat. Its breath was a horrible acidic haze that made it hard to breathe and see. His ears were filled with the sounds of clanging bells, shrieking drake, and cracking timbers.

The drake reached in with one of its front feet and grabbed onto Grathurg’s thigh, digging its talons in deep. Granthurg screamed in pain. The tower shook and shifted again. The drake pulled him through the opening and rain washed over him. He suddenly felt light, even weightless. They were falling. The tower was collapsing out over the street. The mage was screaming as he fell, and the drake began furiously flapping its wings.

The drake tried to fly, but didn’t let go of Granthurg’s leg. The pain was unbearable and hanging upside down in the air was making him dizzy. Granthurg reached up to grip the drake’s arm. He didn’t want to be carried off, but he didn’t want to fall, either. The drake flapped its wings furiously, trying to go higher, but the weight of a giant was too much. It flew out, over the street, still flapping, still struggling, but slowly dropping.

Shrieking and struggling, it flew out past the barges on the riverfront and the two of them splashed hard into the deep center of the river. Granthurg struggled for breath. The beast began writhing and twisting in the water, jerking Granthurg around. For a moment, it flipped over and Granthurg was above the surface. He gasped a fast breath before the drake’s spinning plunged him under again.

Granthurg reached through the cold water, over the drake’s gripping talon, along his leg, and to his boot. It was difficult in the shifting and splashing motion. He shoved his hand in and pulled out the white-bladed dagger. Gripping the hilt tightly, he plunged the curved blade into the upper leg of the beast.

The drake thrashed and twisted harder than ever, and Granthurg could almost hear its screams even from below the water. Then, it stopped. The head and tail splashed into the water, the death grip of the talon on his leg eased, and the beast began to sink and drift with the flow of the river.

Granthurg shook his leg free and pushed off the beast with his other foot. He broke the surface of the river, gasping for breath. He tried to swim away from the drake, but with an injured arm and leg, it was difficult even to tread water and stay afloat. The drake bobbed motionless in the river, slowly sinking. Granthrug looked around to see the city passing by as he flowed downstream. The flames from the chapel were growing more distant off to his left. He floated under the CentreTown wall bridge, and saw the conflagration that was the great Cathedral. He looked on in awe as people ran, screaming and confused.



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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