Thursday, February 20, 2020

200 - “Arrival” - Korr - A Tale of Heroes

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


“There’s something different on the mountain today,” Karendle wondered.

Korr looked up into the clear mid-morning sky. The sun was rising slowly higher, reflecting off the snowy mountainside as they trudged slowly up the winding path. He turned around to her. The others followed the trail behind them in a line. “I believe it seems a little warmer.”

Karendle paused her steps and sniffed with her nose in the air. “Something smells a bit odd, too.” Korr pulled down the scarf that he had wrapped across his sunburned face. He breathed in the air, trying to determine what he was also smelling. It had a slightly acidic edge, unlike the sweet clearness that had so far surrounded them from day to day in the mountain.

“That’s probably just Eddiwarth’s breakfast coming back to haunt him.” Parith called out from a little farther back on the trail.

“That’s not me!” Eddiwarth protested. Thissraelle laughed.

“That’s it!” Karendle exclaimed. “You’re limited to only three pieces of jerky tonight.”

While they stood resting for a moment, Korr surveyed the path ahead. He looked up the steady slope of the snowy rock above them. Just a bit beyond where they stood was a turn, inward, into a large crevice in the mountainside. It looked to Korr as if some long forgotten half-god had grabbed the peak and split it in half all the way down to the foothills. He adjusted his pack and moved forward again.

"Is that what I think it is?" Thissraelle's voice drifted forward.

Korr turned around to explain the canyon and the path up ahead and saw Thissraelle and Eddiwarth looking high up the side of the mountain, pointing. "I think it is..." she murmured.

"We might want to get to cover, quick." Eddiwarth added. The drakeling hissed.

Korr followed their eyes. Way up in the cloudless sky, not too far from the peak of the mountain, a large dark bird circled. No, that’s too big for a bird, isn’t it? He squinted and shaded his eyes with his hand. No! It’s..

“A dragon!” Karendle shouted. “See? I told you!”

“This way!” Korr balanced his pack and lifted his snowshoed feet in a vain attempt to run. It momentarily threw him off balance, so he paused and centered himself low, then began lurching forward more methodically. He could hear the others hurrying behind him.

“Do dragons have good eyesight?” Eddiwarth wondered between his heavy breaths. It didn’t take them long to get to the canyon and follow the path inward. The mountain slopes up to the peaks on either side of the canyon were much steeper, almost like walls, and there were a lot of jagged outcroppings overhead. They all pressed against the canyon wall beside the path to take advantage of the cover and the shade.

Korr felt an odd breeze blowing across his face. Why is it warm? No—it’s not really warm. It’s just less cold.  He sniffed. And this is where that smell is coming from. 

The canyon crevice was not too wide, maybe only an arrow shot across at its narrowest. The sunshine illuminated the rocks on both sides, but not directly, instead reflecting down off of craggy outcroppings of stone frosted in snow. He stepped to the side of the path and leaned over the drop. It wasn’t as deep as he’d expected. At least, it seemed that way. A dozen or so yards down there was a dense haze of fog. He could hear running water a little farther below that.

Suddenly remembering the dragon, he glanced up and saw only sky above the crack. He nodded to the others and they all continued down the path.

The canyon and the path zigzagged several times as they moved onward, inward, and slightly upward. The snowpack on the ledge became gradually thinner and more dense as the air around them continued to warm slightly. The sound of running water became steadily louder as well. Parith kept an uneasy eye upward, but each time he looked saw only rocks, snow, and sky.

After a time, Korr, still in the lead, came to yet another bending zag in the canyon wall and turned the corner.  He froze for a moment, unable to speak or even think clearly.  Finally, he gathered his wits and stepped aside. “I think we have arrived.” He gestured for his friends to pass him.

The canyon opened up into a wider hollow. Ahead of them the far side was layered with many flat pools of hot, bubbling, steaming, blue and green water. Each pool overflowed in a sparkling waterfall down onto the staggered terraces of pools below it. Along the side of each waterfall was a cascade of long crystalline icicles where droplets had splashed to the side and been frozen to the rocks. Next to one of the larger pools just slightly below their level was a large and ornate stone porch protruding from the mountain. It jutted out a good twenty feet and was at least that wide. The ornate shaping of the pillars and the roof showed that it was obviously not naturally formed. It’s farthest edge was the steaming and burping pool itself, and the other faces were protected by a silver railing between the stone posts at each corner.

From the longest side of the porch a wide and gently sloping stonework bridge crossed the canyon gap over a latticework of stone arches whose feet stretched down into the fog. The bridge was wide enough for many people to walk side by side, and edged by a railing with tall columns every twenty feet or so, pointing up into the air. The bridge reached a similar, but smaller terrace on the near side of the canyon, and the path they were all on led up to it.

“I believe,” Korr said to his awestruck companions, “that we have found the shrine.”


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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