Medievia Mudslinger

January 14, 2001

A Grandfather's Tale - by Soraac

The wizened old hero sat before a roaring fire, with a crowd of children eager for a story-telling gathered around him like a swarm of bees. "Please Grandfather, tell us a story!", they said in unison. The old man smiled.

"Well, all right. But before I do, let me explain something to you. You kids being young as you are, have many things to learn about the world. One of those things is the fact that dragons are a curse upon Medievia. Sure, there are good ones, but they want your gold just like the evil ones do, except the evil ones kill to take it, and the good ones offer you their services. Now, with that aside, let me begin my tale...."

The lone mage ran, panting, hearing the terrifying unearthly scream of a dragon on the scent of his prey. He stumbled over a rock and cursed, sensing the dragon nearing him. He jumped up and muttered a few arcane words, feeling the spell of invigoration taking affect. Suddenly, the crashing of the dragon through the underbrush ceased. The mage stopped, feeling the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end. He heard the low, rumbling sound of a dragon breathing, and turned just as the world turned to flame, ending his existence instantly. Dekale had struck!

Soraac swore heavily. The market was out of his favorite food - again! Oh, for the wonderful taste of Trellorian cheese, accompanied by a bit of rich Gdangus wine. To top it all off, add a few of the delicious scones from the local bakery, smothered in honey, and it would have been a meal fit for a king. Even when available this meal was not cheap, however. He thought of his last unsuccessful attempt at trading, and sighed. Stupid trolls. Soraac was torn from these thoughts as he felt his stomach rumbling, and wished he could create his own food, as other cleric/mages did. But, he had never really gotten the hang of the spell, and when it did work, all he ever got was some dried, salty fish jerky or plain-tasting waybread. Just the thought of them made him ill! But oh well, food was food. He chanted the words several times before a stale piece of way bread appeared in his hands. He looked at it, as if unsure of its edibility, but then his stomach got the best of him and he devoured it. Having sated his appetite at least a little, he walked over to the newspaper stand. Staring at the latest headlines, he read to himself:

"Nameless mage killed by Dekale."

The article below proclaimed, "Another victim of Dekale in a long line of deaths, an unidentified mage was found, partially eaten and charred, on the road to Medievia. Dekale is a ruby dragon, born into Medievia just a few centuries ago, making him a young dragon by the standards of his race. He is, however, causing a huge amount of trouble for one so young." Soraac envisioned the huge pile of gold that could be his if he managed to get his hands on a few pieces of ruby dragon hide, and thought longingly about all the things he could buy with that. All the best equipment, Soraac thought to himself with a glance down at the rusty ringmail he was wearing about his body. Maybe he could go on a few trade runs - he could invest it, and make a fortune! He sighed and started off down the street toward his tent near the gates, thinking about the joys of having absolutely no financial worries, when he noticed a piece of parchment fall from a traveler's pouch onto the road. He picked it up quickly and was about to shout at the owner when he noticed what it bore.

I can't believe my luck! A map to Dekale's lair!, Soraac thought to himself as he lay in his tent just outside the City, scanning over the parchment once again. It was naught but a map, which showed a small island at the mouth of the Sea of Infinity, marked simply: "Dekale's lair". The island was small enough so that it didn't show up on any map Soraac had ever seen. Now the only problem was getting there - he was almost broke and certainly couldn't afford a dragon to fly there.

Soraac awoke with a start to hear a rustling sound outside his tent. He heard a small crack, like that of breaking bones, and a man's voice cursed in the darkness. He then heard the sound of a potion being drunk noisily in haste, and a dim blue glow shined through the night to his left. He stood, silently, waiting for the intruder to enter his tent. Suddenly, he jumped to the left as some odd instinct went off inside his body like an alarm. As he did, a gleaming steel blade, alight with flame, cut the thin air where his back was a moment before. Soraac turned and yelled a curse at the thief, who screamed and tried to cover his head as a huge barrage of frost shards flew at him. Soraac lunged at the thief, and pressed his hand to his forehead. As he did, the thief screamed in agony, as his flesh began to wither and fade. All of the sudden, though, Soraac found himself gasping for breath as the thief stabbed him, once, twice, thrice! Soraac backed away, slowly, as the thief smiled grimly at him. Then, the world went black...

Soraac woke, slowly, feeling something nibbling at his ear. He turned, as if to fight off the would-be attacker, but discovered it was a vulture who had taken him for dead. Dead! Where was he? Soraac sat up, but quickly lay back down as a fierce pain shot through his body. He wondered why. Soraac found his thoughts wandering, he must be delirious. Why? Hurt, lost blood. Why? Ow, vulture. Go away. Not dead. Dead? Why? Map... THE MAP! Soraac stood up, ignoring the bursts of pain from his stomach. He looked down, seeing two things at once: the map was gone, and there were three rather large holes in his abdomen. Soraac stared at them dumbfounded, wondering how he had survived the night with such serious wounds. Then, coming to his senses, he cast a healing spell on himself several times, seeing at last the wounds disappear and his health return. Slowly, he sat down and sighed, cursing at himself for losing the map. Now it would be a race to get to the island, and the lair, and quite possibly a battle when he got there.

"Oh dear, look at the time! I didn't realize I was keeping you kids up so late!", cried Grandfather. "You'll have to go to bed now. I'll finish the story tomorrow night." The children sighed, moaned, and complained as Grandfather shooed them off to bed.

"Do we have to, Grandpa?"

"Aw, just a little longer???"

"Do we have to?"

Grandfather smiled, but remained firm. "Yes, you must. If your mother knew I were keeping you up until midnight telling you stories, she would have a fit!"

"Well now, where were we?" said Grandfather, settling down in a huge, overstuffed easy chair. "Oh yes, I remember. Well now, let's see."

Soraac's black warhorse trod slowly south down the path toward the Sea of Infinity. It had been a long, hard journey from The City of Trellor, ridden with many a kobold and dragon. Soraac wished he had the money to summon the aid of a good dragon, it would've made the trek so much easier. Still, he kept in mind that the whole reason he was making this trek was for the huge amount of cash that waited for him at the end of the path - and the spending of it of course. Dragon hide was quite valuable, and ruby hide was the most valuable of all. Soraac had managed to make a rough sketch of the map to Dekale's lair from memory - but that was all it was, a sketch.

The troll Captain waited just a few miles down the road from where Soraac was currently tending to his horse, with a few dozen minions milling around behind, eager to get their hands on anything of value Soraac was carrying with him...

Soraac stood slowly, his body wracked with pain. Slowly, laboriously, he muttered a healing spell several times. A divine glow surrounded the cleric/mage's body, and he felt all his wounds disappear. Soraac gazed around the altar room as he donned all his equipment. He wondered why there had to be trolls in the lands of Medievia at all, he hated them even more than dragons; besides, it was literally thirty-six to one!!!

A gentle, salty sea breeze swept across Soraac's sweat covered face. In his hurry to get to the island, he had totally and completely forgotten how he was going to cross the water without a dragon. So, since the minor creation spell Soraac had learned as a mage was exactly that, minor, and the levitation spell's effect was disabled over the ocean, Soraac was forced to fashion himself a crude raft and paddle. At the rate he was going, it could be some time.

Soraac lay panting on his crude raft, totally exhausted. He had neither the strength nor the will to go on. He had been paddling for half the day, and the island was finally in sight. He had no idea how he had managed to find it, but there it was. With this last thought, Soraac was pulled into the silent slumber of the truly fatigued.

After a few hours, Soraac finally awoke, feeling somewhat better. To his surprise, he found himself washed up on a small beach with his makeshift raft. He stood slowly and stretched, taking stock of his surroundings. A wind blew from the north, carrying on it a horrid stench. Whatever could be the root of such a stink? It surely could only have been his prey, the dragon, and so he began to trek north.

Soraac was not feeling good. Oh, how he wished he had not come this way! The stench was becoming quite overpowering, and on top of that, he was beginning to hear some strange noises that seemed to come from every direction at once. Chirping, screeching, moaning, roaring! And, to make matters worse, he felt as if he were being watched by countless pairs of eyes. It was probably true, seeing as how it was a jungle, but this thought did nothing to calm him.

Soraac stood staring, mouth agape at the scene before him. He had found the entrance to the lair, and the source of the stench. However, he only cared about the source of the stench at this point. It looked like the thief had called his entire clan out here to try and get their hands on a little dragon hide. They had gotten here way before Soraac, obviously, but it looked like they had all been slaughtered in seconds. That was NOT a good sign. Nor was it a good smell. Oh well, back to business. "I really hope my clan can do better", Soraac thought to himself. He sat down to conserve energy and focused his mind on summoning his brethren. Before he could, however, his concentration was broken by a loud, deep, rumbling sound. It came and went in steady rhythm, like a huge animal breathing. The hairs on the back of Soraac's neck stood on end, and he turned slowly, seeing then what no human being should ever see. There stood a smiling ruby dragon, inhaling deeply, preparing to do what dragons do best.

"Wow Grandfather, that was a great story! It's too bad the guy died!", said one of the children. Grandpa stood stiffly.

"Well, he didn't die, exactly."

"Really? Do you know him, Grandpa?"

"Well, sort of."

With this, Grandfather pulled open his robe at the midsection, exposing his abdomen and three huge scars.