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
"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
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
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.
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