Monthly Archives: April 2005

Prophecy: Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses – Broken Greetings

Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses
(4/6/05)

[Featuring
Lorel
, Hal & Smity, and guest
staring Freya, Arty, and Silent Pete and the Silent Companions]

Chronicles of Klarn

 

In the words of Halfred Hastings

Broken Greetings

As we were slowly but interminably being surrounded by the inhabitants of
Broken Freya called out, "Whilst thou’rt clearly lumpish fool-born barnacles,
we are glad to provide thou with surcease from thy troubles. Mayhap some of
thy fellows couldst retreat as we are not comfortable with such close companionship
with such new-found friends as thou."

"Also, know thou that we are travelers who seek others like ourselves
who have been lost. Hast thou seen any like us in recent days? We seeketh a
handsome young human man and a sinister looking older elf who may or may not
have been accompanied by a falcon."

Arty adds to one of the ones who is touching him, "I
am designated RT; do you have a designation? You are a strange lot, much
like myself. Are
you crafted by another or were you born with such oddities in form?
"

Our group made it obvious that we were keeping a close eye on our belongings
as
these
creatures
reach out to touch us.

Freya added, "Hast thou love of thy appendages and felicity to thy
life, thy hands and thy ilk willst ne’r go near our belongings. Shouldst one
among thy congregation borrow uninvited, thus steal, from me or mine companions,
thou shalt be requesting treatment as such creatures as these received from
us." She gestures to the slain bulettes.

Recognizing my natural charisma would assist in approaching these creatures,
I step
forward, "Greetings,
citizens of Broken. And greetings to you, Darthon. I am Halfred Hastings. Perhaps
you have some position of leadership within the town here, but I am certain
my friends and I would like to speak to all those in authority here. We are
of
course very pleased to have rid the area of these deadly creatures we have
slain, but such is our way, wherever we travel. Please tell us if such
creatures as these bulettes commonly plague you, or if they have only recently
arrived."

"In the meantime, we do seek word of those that have already been described
to you. Perhaps you have some news for us of their whereabouts?"

I concentrated for a moment seeking to detect evil, or more hopefully
not detect evil in the beings that were surrounding us.

I continued, "I suspect my companions and I could use
a brief
respite after our battle. Perhaps you have facilities where we could rest and
refresh ourselves after such exertion. Also, I for one would be very interested
to hear the history of your town here, and of your citizens. How did you all
come to live here together? And while I do apologize for my frankness……..I
must that your appearances are not exactly…….customary. Is there some
strange tale behind the strange countenance sported by each of you?"

My nose wrinkled as the stench not only of the creature’s bodies, but
also of their souls suffused with the taint of evil greeted me.

The verminous creature named Darthon replied, "We are the forgotten of
Becubard, the unwanted and the despised. We are all who have survived. Becubard
has sent many of his beasts, some we have
slain but of late they have grown larger and more fearsome in nature. Many
have died and many have been eaten. The Master’s creations are no longer limited
now except only by the availability of prey. Ever since the dragons learned
to fear him after he stripped the flesh from Dreargakaduayrte the Ancient.
We can speak more of this later – mistress you speak of a young human boy.
Mayhap we have seen him. Pretty the boy was and quite a battle he did bring
upon us if we do indeed speak of the same lad. Pretty and hunted – yes? Come
in with me to Broken and we shall speak further."

As the frog-man approaches ever nearer to Arty he speaks in a deep, raspy
tone.

"R-T – I am Croaker, I am born like any other – born not hatched I say.
You were created were you not. I was created too – created not made. You’ve
a strong one with you no? A fine bear-man, well made he is. He looks strong.
Are you two from Becubard? It is not right to hate us. We will not die. Slay
you we will if we must. We have a bear-man too. Not as big as yours but ours
has a fine strong axe."

And others seem drawn to Freya and the other three beautiful women, a fox-like
female with sharp, feral features and a woman that is more bird than human.

"Look at the prettiess, so soft, so sparkly. I want them – I want
them all!"

With and almost purr like growl the foxy woman answers.

"Grrrrrr – these are our friends fair Persephone, they have saved
us, saved us all and they may have brought us presents and trinkets for your
collection."

The denizens of Broken remain cautious but appear ever more elated as the
defeat of the bulettes begins to sink in. Lorel steps backwards and away from
the approaching mob while keeping a weary eye his bow cocked but pointed toward
the ground prepared but not threatening. He looks distracted as a hideous leathery-winged
female flying over his head. He shouts upward, "Please do not disperse – I
would speak with whoever leads you!"

As this is going on, there is a woman’s shout followed by a brilliant
explosion of light and a sharp high caw.

I turned to see Persephone, the bird-woman, stagger back and
away from Sapphire with a claw full of raven colored hair, lights exploding
in her face blinding her. Pandora points her lance fast and firm at the fox-woman
and yells, "Approach me and you will lose more than a little fur!"

Smity who up until now has been watching the vulture-like man examining the
kill while debating in his own mind whether to pray for food or to start slicing
up the bulette breaks off his thoughts as Cicily moves quickly to his side;
her eye catching his attention immediately.

"Smity – do something! If Pandora is pressed she will run one
of them through without thought – she lacks both patience and civility!"

Freya and I are in the lead nearest to Broken. Arty is not far behind. The
monks are somewhat spread out with Glauron is most near the woman; the lights
also drew his attention. Pete is near Charlie and Smokey as a smaller, darker
bear-like humanoid approaches him with its head respectfully downcast in a
submissive gesture.

Lorel yells, "Hold Pandora!"

Pandora seem oblivious to Lorel’s command
letting a low hiss escape her lips as her attention and glare stay fixed
on the fox as Pandora slowly advances. The fox’s tail reflexively draws
in between her legs and she retreats, her lip hiked revealing sharp fangs.
Persephone’s wings spread lifting her into the air in a rush leaving only a
small cloud
of feathers in her wake.

Freya shakes her head and shouts, "Verily, thou’rt impertinent dizzy-eyed
nut-hooks. Confusion now hath made thee his masterpiece. Didst I not warn
thee not to approach too close?"

"Hal, mayhap, it wouldst be best if I and thou were to accompany yon
dunderheads to their abode, whilst our more cautions companions canst await
our return from the safety of the outdoors?"

In a deep growl Smokey adds, "I will accompany thou, mayhap my nature
will be of aid."

Freya, Smokey, and I move to follow Darthon into Broken, while the others
set up a small camp of sorts to wait for our return.

Smokey is followed be the smaller, darker bear-like humanoid that had approached
him somewhat submissively.

As we approached Broken the smell gets worse.

Some of the inhabitants of Broken are now distressed by their own Vulture-man
who has already started picking at the larger of the two dead bulettes.

Freya, Smokey, and I disappear into the shadows of Broken following behind
Darthon. Following behind us is a large half-woman, half-bear creature.

Broken itself is not so much a town as much as it is an enclave made up of
a hodgepodge of hastily constructed buildings thrown together as a protection
against the elements. The strength of the construction is surprising made as
it is but you can see that the interior sports heavy beams and tough looking
tight joints; still the work is exceedingly rough. There are numerous beams
of sunlight filtered though cracks in the roof and outer walls. There are also
numerous, almost random appearing doorways; some are small and others are larger;
from the size it is clear that the population is segregated by size.

As he leads us Darthon explains, "Your questions will be
answered soon. I am bringing you to our Queen, Yingarna, and High Priestess
of Damballah. She is all knowing and most wise.
You must show her great respect and seek not to approach her too closely or
speak too loudly in her presence."

Mostly we stick to the larger doorways as we approach the center of the
complex and we really haven’t very far to go, obviously Broken is not
a large place – it’s no larger than a medium castle. There are many signs
of hasty repairs and we find ourselves imagining the massive bulettes thrusting
their armored, sharp to teethed heads through walls seeking their trashing
horrified prey within these walls. The ground beneath our feet is broken and
pitted with holes; some deep enough to swallow even Smokey but Darthon avoids
the holes and leads us towards a center chamber. When we arrive he points
out a small doorway.

"Queen Yingarna awaits you inside."

The doorway is very small and very low. Not so low to prevent Freya making
it through but she will have to be on her hands and
knees; it will be awkward
for
me
and Smokey simply will not fit through the doorway.

Freya looks confused as she glances at Darthon, "Methinks thy eyesight
is as askew as thy frame. Verily we canst not all fit. Mayhap, thou couldst
request
that
thy
queen
hold
audience
in
chambers that we all canst fit in?"

The ratman wrinkled his nose and his tail began to twitch nervously, "I wonder if you would show the same distrust and disrespect to a human
or an elf? Is our blood any less pure than your own? Still the Queen understands
your plight and we must apologize for the condition of our holdings – the
Queen offers you free passage but only the Queen can answer the questions on
your mind, so the choice is yours. If you would have answers then you must
chose amongst yourselves one to speak on your behalf. Approach her humbly,
openly and without ill will and you will be safe. To approach the Queen in
any other way would be foolish and ill-advised."

"Darthon, why dost thou assume distrust as motive for my statement? Has
thou
reason to be distrusted? Verily, thy soul is tainted with evil more than thy
form canst hide. Wert I to follow a human or elf whose nature was suffused
with evil, yea I wouldst not blindly trust them. Change thy heart before
thou chide me for my distrust. However, I wilst demonstrate a greater heart
than thine, and I shalt thou trust, e’en thou thy soul is evil."

"Hal, what wisheth thou that I shouldst ask their queen? I wilt visit
her."

I answered, "Freya, consider if you would what we have already heard.
We would do well to learn everything we can of this Becubard, the beasts he
has
mastered and/or created, and in particular any sort of lair wherein
he might be found and then dispatched. Also, further details on his dealings
with the dragons of this realm could also be valuable. In addition, any information
that could be gleaned about the whereabouts and condition of our friend Aedaluna
is also extremely pertinent."

And turning to Darthon, I continued, "And as for your request that only
one of us visit your queen, I humbly request that I might be allowed to venture
forth with Freya and pay the proper respect to your queen in person. Humble
surroundings are of no consequence to me, I assure you! And if doorways or
quarters are such that I might not easily stand with my full stature, such
petty details are irrelevant. It is only right that we as outsiders humble
ourselves before your queen, who it would seem leads this village in it’s defense
against the forces of Becubard."

Darthon’s tail curls up as he replies, impressed with my words, "Sir
are well spoken and you appear wise, the Queen welcomes you. Be assured you
will
be
able to
stand
to
your
full stature
beyond this entry. We
ask only that you leave your weapons here with your rather impressive guardian
for you will have no need of weaponry within the Queen’s sanctuary. As
for your youthful consort, she would do well to learn from your example and
curtail her wagging tongue in the Queen’s presence. In fact, and for
her own sake it might be better if she waited here in the antechamber but she
is welcome to enter with you but at her own risk."

To which I reply, "I thank you for your kind words, Darthon. I
do consider a privilege to pay my respect to your queen, and yet as surpassingly
strange as this realm and
all its inhabitants seem to me. I feel no shame in admitting that I will value
the company of Freya and hope she is in fact still as eager as I am to be granted
an audience with her majesty. And I will comply with your request and leave
my weapon here with Smokey, trusted compatriot that he is. Freya, will you
honor me with your company in an audience with the queen?"

" ‘Struth, Hal, I shalt accompany thee. I also wouldst be honored to
speak with the queen. And settle thy brow for I shall mind my," she glances
over
at Darthon, "wagging tongue as befits a queen."

Turning fully to Darthon she continues, "But Darthon, hast I struck a
nerve?
Dost thou bridle at the truth? My friend paladin, Hal, hast looked into thy
soul and seen that there is evil there. Doest thou deny it?"

Her brow softens and her voice mellows, "Mayhap though, it is but a little
evil. Know thee that I mean not to offend thy sensibilities. If thou hast
not a taste for the truth, mayhap thou shouldst change thy ways. Thus far
thou hast dealt with us most honorably and for this I thank thee and grant
thee credit. Shouldst thou continue with thy pleasant face, mayhap thou
canst shake off the taint of evil that claims thee and thus find me
shamefaced."

Freya doffs her weaponry to Smokey as do I.

After we gave our weapons to Smokey, Darthon waves Freya and I towards the
door, "Then
without further delay I am pleased to grant you an audience with Queen Yingarna
may
you find
that you might find that which you are seeking, " and with a slight bow
Darthon
watches us enter the doorway.

Doomed by impatience Freya allows her supple form as easy quickness to put
her through the small arched doorway while I follow close behind on hands
and knees. Within we find a plain chamber with an earthen floor and a high
roof, half of the chamber is yet concealed by tapestries and colorfully strung
beads. There is an oppressive scent in the chamber, more akin to the lair of
a dragon than the court of a Queen. The chamber is bare of furnishings save
a golden cage that hangs from a jeweled chain that descends from the ceiling.
Within the cage there is an eerie repulsive, almost featherless rooster-like
creature the size of a large goose, with bat-like wings and feather tipped
lizards tail. The sickly feathers are dirty colored browns and greens; the
tail tipped with a bright red feather that matches the creature’s wattles
and comb. Its head is adorned with a falcon’s hood effectively blinding
the creature but there is no doubt that it senses our intrusion as it spreads
its wings in protest and it crows our arrival.

Suddenly – quietly the veiling tapestries part revealing Queen
Yingarna
her
eyes meeting our own glow balefully with a dim yellow glare.

Both Freya and I are immediately intensely aware of the Queen presence,
our bodies clench involuntarily as if surprised by an unexpected cold breeze,
muscles tighten
while the short hairs of our bodies rise. Eerily we feel sympathy as she crawls
and slithers across the ground. Simultaneously we feel both revulsion and
a compulsion to be attentive, as if her every movement and desire is somehow
infinitely important.

Yingarna is both alluring and frightening, sharing the natures of both a serpent
and a beautiful, bronzed woman; her features are regal and exotic. She is bedecked
in jewels and gold befitting a Queen but only in gold and jewels otherwise
she is bare to the waist wherein her hips expand into a gloriously scaled twin
tails each an easy fifteen feet long.

I had only just entered and almost didn’t make it to my feet before
I needed to bow low. Freya is momentarily dazed by the Queen’s entry
but quickly recovers her composure. I bristle with the unquestionable taint
of evil
I sense within the chamber, not only from the Queen but also from the bird-like
creature in the cage. I signaled to Freya as much as discretely as I could.

After passing through the tapestries, Yingarna raises her torso to a height
of seven feet as if she is taking our measure.

"Welcome to my home, I know why you have come and I offer you my leave
to ask what you must, only seek not to judge me or my people lest you would
be judged by me. Our visitors number too few, while the challenges are great,
too great for petty concerns of small minds."

Freya lowers her eyes so as not to appear haughty, "Great Queen,
we art honored that thou wouldst deign to receive us in thy presence, and since
thou knowest why we hath come, prithy tell us what we must needs know. Hast
thou knowledge of our lost companions? We seeketh the fair young Jack, a human
boy hunted by Drendel and Aerdaluna, an elven wizard of charms surprisingly
powerful who seeketh after good dragons. Know thou anything of them?"

I spoke next, "Your majesty, we are indeed honored by
your appearance before us, as my friend here has already stated. I confess
that
her mastery
of beauteous speech surpasses mine, and thus I can but humbly request that
you might honor her words with forthright answers, so that we might both aid
your villagers in their plight and find our missing friends."

"Travelers I am indeed my people’s Queen as so I represent our interests
as
a whole, I myself thank you and your fellows for service you rendered thus.
I do not begrudge the land sharks their nature nor should you begrudge ours
or mine. Ultimately, we do as we are; to act otherwise would be to deny your
nature, by definition unnatural. So I make no equivocation when I say your
friend was
a gift to a starving population. The boy Jack sought refuge here."

"On the day he arrived had nature fully taken its course your sweet friend
would have been fully assimilated with us through consumption for there is
no place in Broken for the beautiful or the weak. He would not have survived
here long but he did not arrive alone for he was followed by Drendel, and Drendel’s
men and the beasts gifted to them by Becubard. So that elation of
the people was short-lived and ended by Drendel’s demand for the boy.
Drendel was well armed. He traveled with six men-at-arms, his mount Wrath,
the Aurak Ambassador and three surtaki and they lay siege to Broken."

"He
acted unwisely; he was acting out of vengeance! His motives were impure and
unbalanced so much so that he would not be denied. So I ordered the boy
released. He held himself well, crediting himself, holding his head high.
Fate was on his side as is his nature. As he walked toward his fate bulettes
exploded from the earth falling upon Drendel and his men. In the confusion
Jack fled still naked; but I was inspired by his courage I ordered Persephone
to fly to him with supplies and clothing that he even now might yet be alive.
As for Drendel’s party the largest surtaki was killed by the bulette
but not before it’s thorns caused the bulette grievous injury, while the
second bulette had its way with Drendel’s men. We choose not to assist Drendel,
rather the people decided to hurl waste and rain arrows on Drendel and his
men while cheering the bulette and we celebrated its victory by feast on Drendel’s
men instead."

At this point Yingarna pauses closing her eyes – there is a sense that she
is not through but at the same time almost not there, then she opens her
eyes and continues, "Unfortunately, we know nothing of the one you call
Aerdaluna. If he is seeking good dragons he will likely be disappointed; still
if he persists his path should lead to Exaurdon."

Freya takes a breath, feeling somehow diminished yet blessed in the presence
of the Broken Queen.

"Thy form most beautifully melds the grace of human with strength of
serpent, but most of thy subjects art a chaotic mélange of forms most
strange. Canst thou tell us also of thy plight? As we searcheth for our friends,
mayhap
we may be able to assist thee in thy challenges as we hath with thy bulette
troubles."

The Queen’s aura, prestige and strange wisdom too fascinate me, but I am most
compelled by her eyes. I bow my head slightly averting my gaze lest I
be befuddled and lost in the pull of the Queen’s gaze.

"Some here were born, others hatched yet all were made thus by Becubard
who
is unto a God to us all. The Father nurtures and teaches us wisdom giving
us the natural laws. Among the created I alone have been blessed and cursed
to see and understand his true nature. I alone could see both what was right
and wrong. Try as he might, Father could not contain me and because I was his
favorite
so he could not destroy me. He was at odds with his nature
while I was wholly within my own; I alone in my existence have always been
pure of thought and purpose and in the midst of the Father’s confusion I
found that I could enlighten others. I found that there were other Gods and
deeper truths, the mysteries of Damballah. Father himself did teach us that
if one hand is diseased better to strike it off than to allow it to corrupt
the whole. If one’s eye is deceiving you pluck it out to avoid deception!
How then could he keep me or us? I fled into the wilderness and many did
follow me. We created this settlement under the eyes of the dragons and many
were lost as battles ensued. Father rallied against both them and us until
Dreargakaduayrte
the Ancient intervened but he too underestimated Father’s will and power. Dreargakaduayrte
refused to be remade and yet plied his
great will and power to resist Father’s desires to recreate him. In the great
battle that followed Dreargakaduayrte was stripped of flesh. After the battle
Father
sent his lesser creations, those that are pure of purpose and
lacking in the ability to think, into the wilds now known as Becubard to
dissuade others from approaching too closely and thus he avoids further
disturbances to work. We are harassed and preyed upon by many of his
creations, yet we persist such is our nature and again Father is at peace
and unconstrained. Nature has won out as it must."

Freya pauses to let the queen finish her tale, "Great Queen, please
forgive
my impertinence, but me thinks thou doest not credit thy nature in its
fullness for doth it not also allow thee the ability to make choices for
right or ill? While I hath also heard of teachings such as thou dost
describe, ‘to strike off an offending limb before it corrupt the whole,’ but
dost thou not recognize that there exist healing arts. If one hand is
diseased, better then to heal it than to destroy it for how canst thou know
to what purpose the gods wished to use that hand thou hast destroyed."

"Similarly, if thou destroy one eye that is deceived, thou hast altered
thy
perception of the world and it is not accurate any more. Thy vision is now
skewed; thy depth perception is no more. Thou canst not distinguish between
what is near and what is far. Is it not better to teach that eye to see the
deception for what it is so that it can see through the illusion? Thus is it
not also in thy nature to heal and grow through knowledge to become better
than thou wast created? And thus as Queen, art thou not obligated to lead
thy people in such growth, to teach them to resist their original nature to
become better?"

"I ask because thou didst unnerve me with thy prediction of Jack’s fate
amongst thy people. Art thou not beautiful? Thy people consume thee not.
Thinkst thou that Jack is weak? Again, me thinks that thou wouldst be
surprised. Didst thou truly look at Jack? Didst thou not see that his nature
is not unlike thine? He too is of two natures, two worlds blended. Yea, even
created by Corellon. He is a child yes, and thus is not completed in his transformation,
but he is
perhaps more like thee than thou thinkest."

"But enough of my presumptuous speech, I must humbly thank thee for thy
ultimate care of Jack. Thy decision to assist him after he left thee is sign
of great benevolence as befits a Queen. I have two remaining questions thus.
Firstly, wouldst thou give leave to Persephone to take us to where she last
saw Jack and didst deliver thy gracious gift to him? Secondly, dost thou
desire from us any further service before we take our leave? Art thou
possessed of any further harassment, that thou wisheth us to dispel thee
of?"

"Child, did I not welcome you to conversation? I only warned you to judge
only if you would be judged. Fear not to speak your mind with me but also resist
the wasting of words as not all that is said is literal. Also be clear the
thoughts you distrust were not my own words but the teachings of Becubard.
As I explained I fully comprehend the right and the wrong of his words and
I did not fully explain his teachings. Father seeks not only to cast off
but
also to add to and improve. He ignores the nature of things and remakes them
in new images more fittings to his purposes. He places himself above nature.
As for Jack he exists within nature. The nature of us the inhabitants
of Broken has been perverted and bred into the perversity of distaste for that
which is perfect by nature, perhaps even a hatred of that which my people
can
never have. We exist in imbalance. It is not right and we are not at fault
for our condition but it is our nature. I do not venture to make the same
error as our Father. Who is to say that we are wrong? We are less likely to
discriminate
between the value of one life over another. Our nature is dual. Can you say
that you value the snake as much as the man? Is the man’s life worth
more than the snake? If a man is greater than is a snake than is not a dragon
greater than a man? These are the questions that plague those who question
the nature of things. I do not. Such that I can tell you Persephone’s
nature is one that values shiny objects and you might gain her assistance
with such an offering. As for the perversions of Becubard, they will persist
at
least as long as he persists and we will endure. Our fates are linked. For
without Becubard the dragons would come to the death of us all."

I continue, "Your Majesty, I, like Freya, am grateful for the gracious
manner in which you have dealt with us. We appreciate your information about
Jack, and look forward
to speaking with Persephone to see if she might assist us in locating him.
And if, as you say, a shiny bauble or two might assist us in our efforts, then
no doubt some such arrangement can be made."

"In the meantime, if I might impose upon your patience yet again, with
regard to our friend Aerdaluna and his hunt for dragons of a goodly nature,
you mention
a place known as Exuardon. Might we not speak of this place before we take
our leave of you? Surely Freya and I would both be grateful to hear of anything
you might know about such a place, and how it might be reached, and what dangers
a journey there might present….."

As she speaks the Queens eyes go blank – almond shaped orbs of softly illuminated
yellow.

"Our travels have been limited to a crossing of the broken plains that
divide us from Becubard and as stated our visitors are too few; still I can
feel tribulations and movement, not at one point but many. Exuardon is one
such but you will encounter many. Aerdaluna’s path leads to Exuardon
and it is Exuardon where the light burns brightest."

The cat-eyed slits of the Queen’s eye reappear highlighted by the bluish
purple of her brow.

"This is a land manifestly controlled by Dragons. Here cloaked in Becubard’s
shadow we are isolated, protected but beyond these plains dangers unseen will
again be manifest. They churn with appetites larger than any comprehend waiting
to consume us all. Each plying their own great pull, only by careful navigation
and using the pull of one against the other can any hope to survive. If you
survive your actions here will influence us in ways unknown to anyone, a future
like the mists that surround us. The mists can be your greatest ally and your
most dangerous foe. Their ways are unpredictable, few can navigate them safely
and to those that do anything is possible."

I consider the Queen’s words for a moment, and reply, "Your
Majesty, I offer apologies for my words, which you might well take as impertinent,
were you not so gracious in your dealings with
us. For it seems
to me that your talk of the location known as Exuardon is very
much akin to the mists that you say will beset us on our way there. I humbly
beseech
you to tell us anything you might know of a route to this place, or
a map that
could detail such a route. I understand from your description
that we might well be beset upon by evil dragons along the route, and I assure
you that
we
value such a warning and will heed it well. But, as I’m sure
you
will understand,
we are still at a compete loss as to how we might even set out
towards Exuardon.
Factors such as distance, direction, the type of terrain we might
have to cross, dangers in addition to the dragons we might face……Freya
and I can only
hope that you might share anything you know of such details with
us
before we take your leave."

The Queen’s brow narrows as she glides effortlessly, silently towards
me her gaze never wavering fixed upon my eyes. I suddenly realize
that during the entire conversation she has never blinked and my knees want
to weaken but my steely nerves fortify them.

"I am not nearly as gracious as you suppose. Gracious denotes kindness
and I am not kind, kindness is ill afforded in Broken. Ask not for kindness,
courtesy I offer freely – honesty that too I shall grant. I am wearied – we
have been under siege for many days. My court has no friends, no future and
no hope. They have only me and I am too honest to delude them so no, I am not
kind. What words do you have to offer us? Is it kindness that separates us?
If it were Persephone that was hunted on account of her own action would you
eagerly come to her aid? We appreciate that you have slain the creations of
Becubard and we are neither so hungry nor foolish enough to attack you. I do
not value currency or trinkets they hold no value for us here. Still I have
told both that which I know and some that I do not know; Exuardon is one of
these. Distance and direction have little meaning here – the mists are
all powerful. What meaning I found leads you first past Firelake to our West
and South there will be wood there and many challenges. You will be both united
and separated further, some will fall and still others will prevail. Not everything
will be as it seems. The dangers manifest will be larger and more overwhelming
than any of you imagine. Of the Dragons and their clans they are legion in
Fireshore: Molten, Magma, Pheuri, Phirebolt, Brighteyes, Mera, Starcaller,
Sonis, Agerris, Culleste, Angarr the Red, and Fastwing the Fallen these are
name I know but there are many I do not know."

Freya bows her head slightly, "As thou dost not desire our baubles, then
mayhap all we canst offer thee is our friendship for thy courtesy and honesty.
And, thus with friends, mayhap thou wilt have future and hope. Verily, shouldst
thou or thy people be hunted and need our aid, we shall provide what aid we
can. We thank you for all you have given us and by your leave we will weary
you no longer."

The Queen nods and we exit as quickly and respectfully as we can so that we
can return to our companions.

As we walk back through Broken I look over at Freya with amazement, "Freya,
I must admit that I am impressed with your handling of that meeting. My initial
impression of you was apparently not accurate."

"Verily, thou shouldst not jump to thy conclusions based on such flimsy evidence.
Yea, I too am impressed with thy ability to stay focused on the task at
hand. Mayhap, I didst misjudge thee as well. While thou art still a spongy
beetle-headed moldwarp, thy sword is sharp, thy arm strong, and thy wit is
not as dull as thy attitude wouldst
at first purport. Mayhap we’ll make a decent man of thee
yet."

I scowled at her acerbic tongue, but I remembered how it was when I was
barely yet a teen and realized that Freya was going to at times be an irresponsible
girl,
though
clearly on
her way to becoming a responsible young woman.

 

 

Prophecy: Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses – Bite the Bulette

Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses
(4/6/05)

[Featuring
Lorel
, Hal & Smity, and guest
staring Freya, Arty, and Silent Pete and the Silent Companions]

Chronicles of Klarn

(Arty continues:)

Bite the Bulette

Days pass after the felling of the surtaki. We move seamlessly out
of the mountains and the woods into a land dominated by dry dusty earth and
rock formations. The air is excessively thin and it is hard for the others
to catch their
breaths. The ground becomes unforgiving as feet begin to swell. My joints need
extra lubrication to keep from making a horrible grinding noise as I walk.
The days too are dry with just a smattering of clouds, still in the distance
like
mountains
on the horizon we see the mists, especially at night when they glow.

After three days of uneventful travel through the broken lands we came across
a cluster of buildings that stood in our path. Without the option of using
cover, we decided to approach the buildings cautiously and as we did creatures
like
large
birds
took to the air from the rooftop of the ram-shackle structure before us.

The bird creatures flew high and as they approached we began to appreciate
how much larger than normal birds they must be. Two circled back but one continued
approaching, climbing higher as it neared.

Lorel exclaimed, "She has the appearance of a harpy, guard your ears!"

And indeed it did. It had the look of a woman and a bird with glossy black
feathers tipped at the elbows with brilliant red highlights. She hovered high
screeching down to us loudly at the same time.

"Oh Sir, <caw> you’ve the look of fool and one without
manners or upbringing; if I was half as foul looking as you I would dive into
the ground
and kill myself as quickly as possible!"

With that, the creature we later found out was named Persephone, spiraled
in sky wing over wing darting haughtily back towards the buildings.

"Lorel, truly thou art a rump-fed ronyon! Wast thou issued in a barn?
Know thee not the way to greet a lady? How dost thou plan to ever put thy natural
weapon to use with any cultured lady if thy mouth doth betray thee thus? Perhaps
it is better that I make our greetings in yonder village?"

Hal looked agast and suggest, "Maybe it is best if I go?"

"Ah, confusion now hath made his masterpiece! Durst we not travel together?"

Together we all approached the village close enough to see that some two to
three dozen creatures occupied the rooftops of the building that we could clearly
see. The buildings were haphazardly shoved one against another forming a single
chaotic structure. The creatures said nothing but we could smell them, they
appeared ill kept and half-starved; some of them were armed with bows or crossbows.

At this point we waited as Hal and Freya moved forward together, Freya
carrying a hastily constructed white banner to broadcast our peaceful
intent. Surrounding the compound was an open area of ground interrupted by
several large mounds of earth and sand. In the open expanse there was also
a rotting corpse of beastly surtaki surrounded by a cloud of insects. As the
odd pair slowly advanced, Freya yelled, "Hail and good day to thee!"

Then
all at
once the ground shakes and rolls and bursts open in an explosion! A huge, monstrous,
armor-plated, bullet-shaped creature with a huge snapping maw and short powerful
legs launches
itself from the loose earth precipitating a hail of
rocks and sand; as large as an elephant, it rises to a height greater then
all save Smokey, its arc carrying it perilously over Hal’s head. Without time
to think
Hal rolls while drawing his sword positioning it upward to absorb the
impact while being blinded by the sand. In that same instant a second
eruption of earth occurs behind him almost throwing him out of his defensive
position.

Lorel yells, "Bulettes!" while retreating and aiming his bow.

The second bulette is slightly smaller than the first and it is obviously
injured, its mouth pierced by surtaki quills. It moves aggressively towards
Freya but just before it strikes Smokey, the bear-man guardian of Aerdaluna,
hurls his mighty half-ton body into the injured bulette ripping massive
chunks of flesh with his iron claws.

The first bulette whaled into the knightly Hal, who is violently knocked from
side to side absorbing the punishment, the beast’s jaws gnashing against both
flesh and armor. Hal strikes again and again searching vainly for some vital
organ.

Lorel realizes the injured beast is no match for the bloody rending of
Smokey. So he concentrates his fire on the larger beast attacking Hal, each
arrow sinking deep and true to his mark.

The battle rages and Hal is embattled but he stands firm against the bulette
concentrating only on keeping the bulette distracted now realizing his blows
were less effectual than he had hoped and the danger posed by the monstrous
bulette is greater than he had imagined. His plan works, allowing Silent Pete
who is transformed again to a giant to move in with Freya behind the bulette
now bleeding from many wounds. Abruptly, the beast is blinded by a

sling-shot in the eye cast by Synkey, the halfling, and as it is trashing due
to the pain of this seemingly minor injury the monster in finally killed by
the attack of us all.

Now the inhabitants of Broken approach us
cautiously, almost timidly, and the first thing they greet us with is their
overwhelming stench. They are twisted in appearance, twisted and appalling
– hideous. They are warped; not natural creatures at all rather they appear
to
be tragic
manifestations of some cruelty of fate or circumstance. Each has some
humanoid aspect but like fractured puzzles pieced together in the dark their
aspects are mixed, jigsaw-like with the beasts of the world; whatever their
origin their
creator’s cruelty is evident in the riddled and horrid
appearance of their bodies. Still they look more or less humanoid and their
non-human characteristics are clearly visible for all to see. Some who
emerge are larger and more threatening than others are. Some of them have
wings and still others have claws or tails. The harshness of their existence
is written in the creases on faces and shows in the dimness of their eyes.
Their eyes like their arms and legs often don’t match one another but the same
cruelty,
like the fast memory of recent violence can be seen burning
within with a deathly keen mind.

The one approaching us first seems infused with the essence of vermin,
perhaps a rat. He stinks and he has horrific feral features, wiry whisker,
curling clawed fingers, and a long, whip-like tail.

"Thank the Gods, that you have come – we are saved and you are our
salvation. Bless you, bless you Lords – bless you one and all. I am Darthon
of Broken and I offer you greetings and felisatations. Welcome to Broken."

We are slowly but interminably being surrounded by the inhabitants of
Broken, who appear
timid, gleeful and starving at the same time.

 

Prophecy: Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses – Needling Bart

Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses
(4/6/05)

[Featuring
Lorel
, Hal & Smity, and guest
staring Freya, Arty, and Silent Pete and the Silent Companions]

Chronicles of Klarn

(In the words of Arty)

Needling Bart

After the battle and when we were certain that Drendel had
escaped, we put down in the camp originally set-up by Drendel and
his associates setting off again early the next morning. Since we
had left Draconis we had been descending, the area was changing
from mountain forests to a badlands area. After about a half days
travel we entered the leeward side of the mountain range and came
to an area that Bart recognized as the terrain became rocky and
dry.

“This is the place.” said Bart.

Lorel began looking for tracks. There were lots. Clearly the
area had been traveled a number of times in the past few days. What
was most concerning was that there appeared to be fresh surtaki
tracks that were heading back the way that Drendel had come from.
As Lorel was examining the tracks, suddenly a surtaki burst out
from behind the rocks where it had been hiding.

Neither the footprints we had followed nor Caretaker’s
description had done justice to the ferocity of this beast; it
being huge and green, not a quiet green but the bright green of a
parrot. It had a black swollen tongue and moved surprisingly
quickly on stubby thick tortoise-like legs, its body both thick and
wide. It shook itself like a wet dog as it charged with a hissing
growl. The shaking caused the long green fur to stand on end
revealing wicked barbed spines all along its body. It charged into
the front, middle strength of our party, fearlessly,
recklessly.

Bart died, shredded, mauled and crushed in the press of the
creature’s attack. Those standing too close to Bart were made
painfully aware of the barbs as they bit deep into armor and flesh
alike. Smokey moved his vast body directly to block the beast’s
path but the issue was in doubt until Smokey’s demonstrated the
full effectiveness of the 6″ long steel claws welded to his
gauntlets, 4 on each massive paw fully 8 claws sheathed deeply in
the beast’s neck. Still the beast drove Smokey’s 1000 plus pound
body backward, seemingly intent on driving through our line. Smokey
would not relent, he ignored the barbed quills of the surtaki and
rained blow after blow into the creature’s neck and back in a
gore-fest of blood and determination.

Silent Pete again focused his psychic energies doubling both his
own size and the size of his gear to match; then he used his
guisarme to full effect upon the enraged surtaki. Even while being
assailed as it was the surtaki broke free to attack Smity who met
the creature’s jaws with his own strong hammer. As the monster
began to maul the embattled dwarf, Lorel took careful aim shooting
the surtaki once, then a second time before it finally died at
Smity’s feet.

Bart lay bloody on the ground like a limp rag doll filled with
wicked foul needles, the spikes of the surtaki. Unfortunately,
there was not enough left of Bart to save, his body wrecked beyond
our healing arts to restore.

We piled rocks on his body as a
makeshift grave. I, as an Artificer, am able to use and identify
just about any magic tool so I examined Bart’s belongings finding many bore
enchantments and handed them out amongst our group. Many of the items went
to the maidens so that they could defend themselves, as they each were able
to use the items as well. It seemed ironic that he died just before he was
about to gain his freedom from us.

We continued on and were able to follow tracks from the area to
a town called Broken.

 

Prophecy: Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses (4/6/05)

Episode Eighteen: The Chronicles of Klarn: Dragon Our Asses (4/6/05)

[Featuring
Lorel
, Hal & Smity, and guest
staring Freya, Arty, and Silent Pete and the Silent Companions]

Chronicles of Klarn

Changes

To Jack’s dismay the ground erupted in an explosion of rock and sand knocking him off his feet in an ungraceful decent. Cocking his head sharply he caught vision of a whale-sized beast hurling through the cloud of sand and dirt falling full force onto Drendel’s men reducing at least one of them to a puddle in the process. This creature, a bulette, was twice again the size of the bull-like surtaki, and it attacked them with relish, snapping its steel-trap jaw at the surtaki scoring a hit. Chaos swelled as fear gripped Drendel’s remaining mercenaries as the bulette howled in pain its mouth filled with surtaki quills.

Seeing his chance Jack rolls to his feet fleeing backwards and away from Broken and the chaos of the battle. He barely notices his bloody knees and palms or the raspberry on his ass from the recent fall as he runs with all the strength he can yet muster. He runs and he runs, like the wind he runs until eventually out of breath he feels again the familiar knot of hunger in his stomach. Thinking out loud he says, “Goodberries might certainly be nutritious enough but I could do with some real food – not to say I am not thankful to be alive, and I think a bit surprised.”


“Then would you be even more surprised my lord to be enjoying a proper meal with a proper lady tonight?”


“Who?!” shouts Jack suddenly realizing that he is not alone. “Is yonder fair maiden a mirage suffered of weak troubled mind and excessive sun or rather an angel come hither to attend a most surprised and humble of servant?”


“Silly boy, you know me from Broken, it is only me, Persephone. I have brought you a gift from the Queen, some food, water and clothes. I am sorry I could not carry much but maybe enough if you are careful, oh and these, boots. If your feet are really so soft they might have need of them.”


“I am not ungrateful fair Persephone, but surprised. Were your people not only on this day set on eating me? Did I somehow mistake their intent?


“No, I think not my lord but you are far too thin to eat now, and your bravery today impressed Queen Yingarna; that and we are no great friends of Drendel and that he doesn’t like you is enough reason to help you. Plus, I don’t think you would fare well out here on your own so I have come to assist you in finding your way.”


So it was that Jack did come to travel with Persephone and she lead him through the badlands of the broken plains to the mountain range of Phlarest. Persephone fed and entertained Jack as best she was able through three days of hard travel through the badlands, at least hard travel for Jack, Persephone flew and it was all she could do to fly slow enough so that Jack could keep up.


After the badlands Persephone relaxed the pace a little enjoying the scenery of the Phlarest range. Rarely had she flown so far. Even for Persephone travel was anything but safe but Jack was pretty and gifted with a golden tongue and this was the best adventure she could ever remember having. Spring was in the air and flowers and birds were everywhere to be seen. Jack was having trouble keeping up as they climbed into the mountains. So Persephone took frequent breaks and about a day and a half into the mountains something happened. Down below her Persephone spotted a horse with a rider.


“Jack! Jack, you must seek cover and hide, a rider approaches!”


“Is it just one?”


“Yes, but she is a scary one with long white hair and painted nails and toe!”


“Oh, she sounds horrible – is she quite old and ugly then?”


“No, not really old or particularly ugly but she means you no good.”


“And how do you know her? Did you not say you were taking me to a wayhouse? Mayhap she is from there.”


“I don’t think so – least not as I have heard, the wayhouse is said to be abandoned.”


“Well then maybe we should at least ask her. I am not going to outrun a horse anyhow, and here she is coming up behind you.”


Riding up on a sleek gray-on-white stallion is a beautiful woman of perhaps twenty years. Her skin is ivory, her eyes pale blue and she head is clean-shaven save for one thick impressive cloud-white braid. She wears a grayish-white cotton robe over ghostlike features highlighted and tied by a brilliant red satin sash.


She calls down with a strange accent, “RU Jack?”


He responses, “I don’t believe I’ve made your acquaintance my lady.”


“I M Talon? U come wit me OK? I have note 4 U.”


“Oh, you have a note for me – well that’s different now isn’t it? May I see the note please? I can hardly wait to see who might have thought to write.”


Persephone suggests, “We should leave; I don’t like her. Why is she here, you already have me, we don’t need her.”


Jack answers, “Just a moment angel, this script – its Elven, this is from Aerdaluna.”

Persephone looks unkindly toward Talon, “Dandlesnatch! This isn’t fair at all – it was my idea to bring him to the wayhouse. Why do you have to butt in anyway?”

And then suddenly off to the right of Jack, there is a bustle in the hedge followed by a soft but piping voice “Don’t be alarmed, I thought I heard the patter of hoovesss down in thisss valley below. And the chattering ssoundss of the May Queen, whisspering on the wind. My earss did not dissceive me but you know the wayhousse and the garden are my own.”


The speaker is a small dragon; he is very small but with a long neck and a longer tail. Buried under the bush it is difficult to gauge his size. As small as he is, his chin still features an impressive beard, an intelligent gaze and two sharp pointy horns swept back pointing in the direction of his wings. His color is a kaleidoscope of golden hues.


“Ah – Hello? Are you addressing us?” asks Jack.


“Yess, young King, but delay here not! The misstss are red and the sskiess are gray, they ssspeak of the wrath of the Godss. You sshould keep to the high road and tarry not. There isss but one path you can go by and it will lead to the wayhousse beyond. You will find me there waiting sso come before darknesss takess thiss valley anon.” After speaking the little dragon’s head disappears back under the bush. Jack quickly bends to see where the little dragon has gone – immediately there’s a poof as a colorful cloud of fireflies explodes from the bush in all directions marking where the dragon had been only the moment before.


“Well t’would seem our would-be host is gone! T’would be bad form to keep him waiting and he is right about this sky; it has a bad look to it.”


Persephone more flustered then ever says, “I am not going anywhere with her or that dragon! You really can’t trust any dragon. They are all dangerous and bad. Don’t even think about it! I’ve changed my mind about the wayhouse.”


Talon adds, “I also do not tink it wise to tlavel to the outhouse. It is haunted, yes. Many bad omens there I thinking. My home is not too fal away. My horse can cally two. U come with me – I take U there now.”


“No, I will happily travel with you to the wayhouse and mayhap we will travel to your house next, but dearest Persephone, wouldn’t you reconsider. You have been so kind I wish you would join us or at the very least let me tell you a story."


As Persephone lands next to Jack still fuming, “Pretty-boy, I brought you your gifts from Queen Yingarna. Your bravery with Drendel was unexpected but I know now it is true to your nature. I also plainly see it is time to take my leave."


“Persephone, again I thank you for delivering me not only the food and clothes but even more so for your good company. And please thank the Queen for her kind gifts. I, unfortunately, have nothing to give you in parting for my thanks.” Jack scratches at his skin and Persephone stepped back apparently startled by his long nails.


“Your fingers have claws; you didn’t have those at Broken!”


Jack looks at his hands and nods, “Perhaps I could repay you for your delivery by telling you a story. Please sit with me and have a bean, they are not only delicious, but very good for you as well.”


Persephone warily reaches out to take the bean still eyeballing Talon. Jack tucks away his packet that he made of leaves wherein he stores the magical beans; the packet still strung from a vine around his neck. Persephone backs up and sits down and tastes the bean, “This is very good. Okay, I like stories. What story are you going to tell me?”


Jack looks down at his clawed hand, “I’ll tell you a strange story of a boy who has become changed.”


“Long, long ago there was a boy who was running through the wilderness being chased by dragons.” Persephone interrupts, “Is this about you? If so it wasn’t that long ago. It’s about you isn’t it?”


Jack nods, “Yes, it is about me, but I’m trying to make it more entertaining for you. It is all the truth though, I’ll tell no falsehood. I’ll start again.” As he does so he grips the package that Persephone had brought him from the Queen and starts fumbling through it.


“Long, long ago, day ago in fact, there was a boy who was running through the wilderness being chased by dragons, or at least their kin. He had been captured and set free to provide a chase for the dragonkin. Left to fend for himself, naked and hungry, the boy covered with tar and feathers desperately tries to get as far from the hunters as he could.”


Jack continues, describing how he came to be in this land including his conversation with a bean plant. “That’s where that bean you just ate came from. But, I digress, let me continue.”


“This boy had been touched by the gods in the past and he now had a trace of celestial blood in him. It appears that isn’t the only blood that courses through his veins however. While avoiding his pursuers, the boy had to try to find food and shelter and protection from the elements. The land he found himself in was harsh and unforgiving. His celestial blood provided some protection from the cold of the mountain nights and his skin was tough enough to resist the scratches that running through the woods naked would have caused a normal boy. He was able to cast some spells on his second day of escape and therein he found some magical beans that provided him with sustenance enough to last for just over a week.”


“That night however, he noticed something strange. As twilight began to settle in, he observed that he was still able to see as well as he had during the day. His celestial blood allowed him to see in complete darkness, but this perception was new. It was not the black-and-white of darkvision, but rather enhanced normal vision, just like his Elven friends had. He was also not quite as sleepy as he would have expected for all of the day’s travels. That night when he did fall asleep, he slept more soundly than he had ever before.”


“During the next day he used his skills as a woodsman to pass easily through the underbrush and did his best to throw off his pursuers. The land was starting to change from forested woods to rocky badlands and later that evening he looked around for somewhere to hide while he could get some sleep and found a small hole in the ground that he would just be able to fit into.”


“As he approached the hole he heard a skittering noise from inside. Quickly he dove into the hole and managed to catch a large rabbit. Strangely, since he had already satisfied his hunger for the day, he broke the creature’s neck and began to eat it raw. When he had finished, he was as surprised at what he had done as you might expect. That he could catch it so easily seemed at first a little strange and that he would want to eat it raw was even more strange. He had been brought up eating mostly the bounty of the land; when he had eaten meat it had always been cooked but now shocked he fed like a beast in the wild”


“He looked at the hands that had captured and killed the rabbit wondering if they were still his hands and noticed that his nails had become slightly longer and harder than last he had noticed. They were not yet claws, but they were not normal hands of man either. He also noticed that his skin had become toughened. Perhaps it was the harsh weather that he was being exposed to, he thought. The more he considered it though he could feel that the land itself was doing something to him. This very land of dragons!”


“Again, he slept soundly that night. The next day he encountered a village of creatures who where a mix of human and animal not unlike himself. He believed in fate, and considered that perhaps something had led him here, maybe this was where he belonged but the creatures however, did not like his good looks thinking him too different, too normal and too pretty and so they prepared to eat him. The boy thought that he might be able to fight them with his new claws and animal nature. Perhaps many of them would fall before they subdued him but his human mind told him he would never take them all so he accepted their imprisonment and decided to bide his time.”


“Again fate stepped in. The boy’s dragon-kin hunters had found him and threatened his captors saying the Broken villagers would be killed if they would not release him. The half-human creatures could not risk their village for such a small meal as the boy would provide and so they surrendered him telling him to march to his death. For his part, he knew that there would be no use to trying to escape at this point and so he boldly walked out to meet his fate.”


“And a third time, fate intervened as even bigger beasts attacked his pursuers. Two huge bulette fell upon the draconic hunters without quarter. As the draconic villains battled with the huge bullet-shaped creatures, the boy ran for all he was worth back into the wilderness. He ran and ran far and long before stopping to consider what had become of him.”


“He recognized in himself same traits shared by his pursuers. Perhaps that had something to do with his change. The land he was in was a land of dragons. And he recognized that he was not so different from the beast people of the village. Perhaps they had something to do with his change. His mind whirled. Perhaps he was just becoming true to his name Jack Draco. In any case, he discovered himself transformed, and not only of body but transformed more importantly of mind. No longer just boy of godly heritage, now boy, raised by elves to become celestial exemplar, changed by a land of dragons to become draconic hostage to fortune, ultimately to become something as yet unknown for some purpose fate had not revealed. Standing not above any other but with a little bit of everyone in his own heart. Even as he fled he could not escape this truth, for as he ran a beautiful woman blessed with an angel’s wings and a heart to match raced ahead of him, landing not to kill or attack him but only to offer friendship and food for the road. This beautiful angel taught me to allow for the redemption of circumstance, for even an enemy may yet be a friend undiscovered.”


As he had talked, Jack took out the knife that the Queen had provided and put his makeshift creations into the sack she had given him. He put the knife to his head and cut off a thick lock of hair tying it together with twine from his belt as he stood. “This isn’t much, but you have meant a lot to me and I am sure I will see you again someday, please take this, it isn’t as pretty as your feathers but I’ve nothing else to give you now and someday I will trade something nice for it.”


Persephone smiles, “You are a pretty boy and you talk nice too. Thank you for the story and the bean, they were both very nice. I’ll tell the Queen you said thank you as well. Good luck strange boy.” And off she flies.


As she leaves, the other woman, Talon, dismounts, “That was intelesting, but we should go before dalkness comes. Storm clouds do look bad and wayhouse not so good idea I tink.”


Jack and Talon arrive at the wayhouse with the rain and just before nightfall. The sky is very low and heavy, every hair standing on end with the electricity in the night sky.


The wayhouse is a welcome sight even if it is a little worse for the wear and they quickly follow the broken path which leads up to the open gate of the wayhouse. Beyond the gate there is a stable attached to the main building and beyond the main building a walled garden. The garden is pretty but overgrown and fireflies dance in the bushes.


Suddenly the small dragon pokes his head out of the stable and glancing at Jack says. “Take heed, child, come with me but firsst gather sssome wood for a fire. I am sssorry it’ss not a casstle I asssure you, but itss warmer for your delay.”


Then the looks towards Talon he says, “You may tether the horssse in the ssable. Girl theress ssomething in your eyess; you may wake up with the ssunrissse, to find all your dreamss again new for what you need badly girl liesss sstrictly within you.”


Jack cocks an eye towards the dragon, thinking that perhaps he should be quick in the garden. Beyond the wayhouse building itself the small path turns left and bushes bar straight progress. Beyond the bushes Jack can see a fountain with smooth marble surfaces but cracked in some places. The fountain perhaps 16 feet across features a pond with a second and third tier, the whole thing about 4 feet tall. In the center of the garden there is what appears to be a shine, but to a God unrecognized by young Jack, and down the path to the left Jack spies a couple of trees, one with a broken branch. Not seeing any other wood about, Jack heads to the tree hoping that the branch will do. After working a short time the rain starts to fall in earnest and Jack drags the branch back down the path and into the sable to finish working on while at the same preventing the wood from getting any wetter.


As Jack enters the stable he can overhear some idle chatter from inside the main structure of the wayhouse. The door is ajar but not truly closed and the conversation is filled with the slurry lisp of the dragon and the broken common of Talon. They both seem ast ease enough so Jack is not overly concerned until without warning there is a sudden shout and flash of light bursting from below the door. Jack rushes the door only to be transfixed by the small dragon that sits on his haunches on the single table within the room. In his small front claws he holds a glowing orb of crystal that contains swirling opaque clouds of white as mist gently rises from the globe. Talon is no where to be seen.


“Young Jack, I am Mondragon. I am the alpha, Kodragon in timess passt, but now I am jusst Mondragon. I welcome you to my home.”


“And what of the girl, Talon?”


“Sshe iss ssafe and ssshould be of no consscern to you now. Little dropss of rain whissper of pain, tearsss of lovesss losst in the dayss gone by, sstormss ssmack ass the white ssea ssnappss in the blink of an eye while leavess are falling all around you. Sstorms eye do not cry lesst you ssee not! Losst in journey, chaoss flurry never to know why you whissper taless of gore and bring ruin to my door, path of gloom, forbidding doom that lightss the way for brighter dayss.”


“I don’t know of what you speak little dragon, but my friend..”


“Sspeak not, that you know not of what iss and sshould never be and not all things are ass they ssseem.”


“Still I must insist..”


“I know of what I ssspeak. The mind on man, even great men ssuffers from itss insstablity and the sshortness of itss dayss ass great Majere in timess before when the orb was taken from hisss door. There are thingss we will yet decside but firsst you musst run and hide!”


That being said, Mondragon draws a deep breath and suddenly exhales filling the room with sparkling fairy dust. Jack evades but he is quickly overcome with vertigo as his eyes lose traction on the wayhouse, which transforms into a mass of swirling color and confusion.