Posts Tagged ‘Garth’

When It All Ended Pt. 13

June 30, 2018

One by one, Morgan’s Raiders stepped out of Percival’s mystical mansion. They were prepared for battle and as geared up as they were going to get. As always, Morgan Moonglow took the lead and came out first, her eyes darting to and fro, always checking for threats. She was wearing hide armor that had been crafted and enchanted by her formerly estranged mother, Irina. It had been made of the skin of the great Questing Beast which Morgan had hunted and felled all by herself. It meant more to her than the pressed leather she had worn in the service and through much of their early adventures. She carried two swords from the crypt of Alander the Great in crossed scabbards on her back. She rarely got in close but it was good to have the option. Lastly, she had the same longbow she had graduated school with. However, the thing had been fundamentally changed when it was exposed to the blood of the Questing Beast. It was more powerful now and a comfort for Morgan to hold.

When she stepped out of the mansion, she saw Amien standing with his equally scruffy pack. He was smiling at her in the sunlight with those crystal blue eyes and for the briefest moment her heart fluttered but she shook it off. There was a moment in time, maybe several moments, when she would have ended up with Amien. He was a werewolf who lived in the woods, she was a ranger who often did the same. There were a lot of similarities between their wild hearts and Morgan knew that Amien had seen that too. She could see in his eyes the arrogance of an alpha wolf who thought it was only a matter of time. However, he did not know the stubborn streak of a Moonglow. Instead of running to the wolf, she turned and smiled as she looked behind her.

Percival Stardane stepped through the door next with a big smile and a flourish. He was dressed to the nines as usual which was hardly practical for battle. Percy never seemed to care as old habits died hard. Besides that, Percy claimed that dressing up created confidence in bystanders and that showmanship could tilt the battle in their favor. He was not one for weapons but Morgan had forced him to carry a short sword on his back, partly obscured by a half cape. On the scabbard of that sword, Percy had painted the opening notes of his father’s signature song. He never followed in his father’s footsteps with a singing career but instead, he had embraced knowledge and created a new path for himself. He also had a bunch of trinkets and daggers hidden on his person which Garth had helped him arrange and design. Close at his hip was his favorite book, a book of Elorian folktales. On his feet, he wore blink boots which enabled easy escapes.

William Havelock stepped through the door next in full plate armor. He currently had his helmet off so that he could make a good impression as Percy had insisted. Cassandra had enchanted the whole set of armor to be collapsible at a moment’s notice. It was an intricate enchantment but it allowed William to be ready for battle at a moment’s notice. It was imprinted with the sign of the lion, like back home in Shura. However, he had altered it to fit him personally by removing any other reference to Shura. He often longed for his homeland but he no longer truly needed to return. He had found a new family in Eloria and they always had his back. He had several javelins in a sling on his back but his prize possession was the great sword on his back. It was constantly cold and its blade froze whatever it slashed at. He was not a great magician but he was grateful to have a little magic in his hand.

Cassandra Oakspring stepped out of the mansion next and her ginger red hair was tied up close to her head. When you dealt with magic, it was smart to not have anything dangling that could catch fire while spells were being thrown around. Her robes were finely crafted with magical runes embroidered into it with silvered thread. There was a barely visible purple aura which was her mage armor spell which kept her safer. She held her book of spells in her hands knowing full well that she had no time to reference it during a battle but, like Percy, she prized knowledge and carried it with her as a totem. She also carried a magical bag of components for her spells. She had a few ings on one hand which periodically glinted with magic power. Since she was planning to be in a fight on the roof, she had worn some boots of levitation. She also had the jar that held their djinn inside of it.

Garth Whispernight came out next like a walking shadow. He had black leather armor on and that armor had a chameleon enchantment on it to allow it to easily change colors. When he turned it black that meant it was time for business. He had the same enchantment on his displacer cloak which often made Garth look fuzzy or out of focus to their enemies. He had the hood on that cloak up and he had taken pitch and smeared it across his eyes which he had explained was a Kofrani style that just happened to compliment his sneaky profession. If one were to search him, they would never find the daggers he had secreted all over his person. Each dagger was enchanted and balanced for throwing. Each dagger had its purpose and he could pull off some amazing tricks by combining their attacks together. To complete his gear, he had dusted off his old boots of haste which felt like constantly having lightning run through him.

Lastly, Galath Wyndham stepped through the door and the door vanished behind him. Galath was wearing brand new armor, imprinted with the symbols of both Pelor and Lathander. He had finally replaced his somewhat ancient armor after it had been damaged in their previous adventure. He has been stubborn about keeping the armor that had been turned to stone so long ago. Galath had been very sentimental about all of his gear since it was one of the only connections he still had to the era of his birth. In fact, he had carried the same mace until they had adventured with Carania Galdon again and she gifted him with a new one. He had spent a lot of time blessing that new weapon in the proper ways. He had also tied a few raven feathers to the handle and he carried it proudly in her honor. Galath was not one for much else in the way of gear, relying on his faith instead.

As soon as the whole team was out of the mansion, Morgan quickly took stock of what they had and saw that everybody was ready. There was just one more part of the plan to set in motion. She turned to Cassandra.

“Contact the princess.”

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When It All Ended Pt. 12

May 12, 2018

In the morning, Cassandra was sitting at the table near the kitchen by herself first. She was pretty much the only morning person of the group. She had the jar holding Monela sitting on the table in front of her, next to the eggs and sausage she had summoned from thin air. Galath and William came down the stairs together next. They both eyed the jar warily but sat down and food and drink were put in front of them. None of the three chose to talk just yet. Morgan and Percival came down next and they looked rested and in good spirits. Sensing the mood, even the usually verbose Percy stayed quiet while he started to eat his breakfast.

The group expected Garth last but first Clio glided down the stairs with a big smile on her face. As they all stared in surprise, she walked over to the table and grabbed a handful of eggs and shoved them into her mouth before walking out of the mansion through the front door. Everyone’s gaze was drawn to the top of the stairs where Garth had just awkwardly coughed before descending the stairs. He walked down and sat at the table with everyone and took hold of a magically conjured chalice and drank deeply of the juice it held. There was a very pregnant pause as everyone tried not to stare at him.

Garth started to eat as if nothing had happened but he was the first one to break. “Alright, yes. I shared a night of passion with the faerie woman.”

William grinned. “And how was it? Are you intact?” Many of the group stifled a laugh at that.

“I am in peak condition,” Garth said. “Ready to face danger.”

“How was it?” Percy asked. Morgan elbowed him in the ribs gently and he gave her an apologetic look.

“Unforgettable,” Garth said. “I’m really not interested in kissing and telling. I know I would normally boast and share all of the gory details but this is a woman who could literally tear out my spine. The good news is that she has agreed to assist us today. She is actually itching to get her hands dirty.”

“Didn’t she do that last night?” Percy asked which earned him another elbow from Morgan but pretty much everybody laughed, even Garth.

“That’s good news,” Morgan said. “We’re welcome to have her and, of course, Cassandra has enlisted the djinn Monela. Thank you, Cassandra, and thank you Monela. You will be released from that jar soon enough. Percival and I also enlisted the assistance of Amien’s wolfpack.”

“And you’re alright with that, Percy?” Galath asked, half-joking and half-concerned.

“We need all hands on deck for this one,” Percy said. “After this, Amien can ride or run off into the sunset and I’ll never have to see him again.”

“Or he could die in battle,” Garth added helpfully.

“Nobody is dying today,” Morgan said. “We are going to take out this dragon together.”

“Agreed,” William said. “I’ve never known a better group of adventurers than Morgan’s Raiders. In truth, I have never known a better group of people.”

“I’d still be alone at the academy if it weren’t for all of you,” Cassandra said.

“I would still be petrified in the middle of the forest,” Galath said.

“I’d still be a mere sellsword,” William said.

“I’d probably be locked up somewhere,” Garth said.

“There’s still time for that,” William said and everybody laughed again.

“And I’d still be puttering around that library,” Percy said. He and Morgan paused for a kiss.

“I’m proud of you all,” Morgan said. “You have saved the day with me several times over. We saved the world together when we barely knew each other. Now that we’re a family, we’re unstoppable. If it was any other group, I don’t think I would be leading them into the capital of my homeland to fight a dragon.”

“So what’s the plan?” Galath asked. Galath had always gotten to the point fairly quickly. One kind of expected a cleric to hold patience as one of their virtues but his directness had saved lives before. Although he was a healer, he never claimed to be a doctor so he was never worried about his bedside manner.

“Right,” Morgan said. “Let’s get to it.” She smiled and mentally composed the bullet points in her head. “The guard, Amien’s pack, Clio, and Monela will go in first and engage the dragon’s hangers-on. If the dragon chooses to engage at that point, then we will spring into action. Otherwise, we will head directly to the palace roof. Hopefully, Princess Cora will lure the dragon to the roof and we will fight it there. If not, we will have to confront it inside the castle which is less than ideal. After we take down the dragon, we help finish off any lizardmen or wyverns left over. This is our show so we’ll start and finish the fight. Any questions?”

“What’s our strategy when fighting the dragon?” Percy asked.

“I’m thinking it’s the same as when we fought that beholder that one time,” Morgan said.

Cassandra had a photographic memory and was a perpetual student so she felt compelled to speak. “William stays in the dragon’s face while you hit it with arrows from a distance. I hang back just in range and hit it with spells and try to disable it. Percy and Galath also hang back to heal and do what they can. Garth will be sneaky and look for openings to attack. If somebody falls, we get them up and keep going.”

“Exactly,” Morgan said. “And this breakfast you just fed us is our hero’s feast, right?”

“Yes,” Cassandra said. “I used my last chalice to summon it.”

“I was wondering why I suddenly felt braver,” Percy said.

“I suppose all that’s left is to go out and greet the day?” Garth asked.

“Yes,” William said. “Which means you’ll have to see your Clio again.”

“She’s not my Clio…,” Garth said as they got up from the table. The table and all of the food vanished as they did and Cassandra grabbed her jar before it could clatter to the floor. Morgan and Percy were last out of the door and they both looked back at their home and then at each other before going out to meet the day.

When It All Ended Pt. 11

March 31, 2018

Garth Whispernight walked into his room and then he shut the door firmly and locked it and threw the deadbolt. He looked around the room, leaning back against the door. The mansion had responded to Percy’s desires to be a home to the Raiders by growing and evolving based on all of their subconscious desires. Garth’s room was pretty straightforward and was not as decorated as some of the other rooms. The main feature was some facsimiles of some of the objects that Garth had stolen over his career. It was none of the jewels or coin but was instead a few singular and unique trinkets from particularly memorable heists. In the middle of it all, there was something that he wished he had stolen and he would have if he had had the time.

It was a painting from his native Kofrain. The painting was on a ceramic surface and it was simple geometric shapes and colors. It was not really supposed to be anything. It was also most likely not worth anything as its style did not speak of any great skill in creating it. Still, it was important to Garth. The real one hung in the School for Thieves in the slums of Karaisar. Garth had stopped and looked at that painting every day since he was a little kid. For some reason, it had calmed him when the going got tough. It reminded him of simpler days before he had pissed off both the authorities and the guild by stealing from Lord Abdellah. That had been against the unspoken truce of the city. Garth had been the only one brave enough (or foolish enough) to pull it off.

He had been finally forced to flee but he had gotten his revenge and he gladly left even though it still made him sad to think of those he had left behind. He had carved a swath of destruction through the lands between Kofrain and Eloria. Garth liked to claim that he had joined Morgan’s Raiders because they caught him red-handed but the truth was that he had been ready for a change. What had started as a new challenge had eventually become a true calling. He liked playing hero with his new friends. He owed a lot to them. They had literally saved his life over and over but more than that, they had made his life worth living. They had also made him a better man which is exactly what real friends are supposed to do. Now, it was his turn to repay them.

He had been very careful not to say her name. He had been told that true names had a lot of power in the fairy world, especially with the ones residing in the feywild. This is also why he had never used his own true name while in the feywild. Of course, he had never used it anywhere else but that was a different story altogether. Now, it was time to break a rule.

“Lady Cliodhna, I would have words with you!” He called out into the air. He was not exactly sure what he expected to happen but the sudden appearance of the archfey on his bed was definitely not it. He blinked and backed up, nearly up against the opposite wall. This drew a laugh from the impossibly lovely woman.

“Surprised, Thief?” She asked. Outside of the wild beauty of the feywild, she looked even more beautiful. “I had not thought that you could be surprised.”

“I think I kind of expected that we would talk at a distance,” Garth said.

“Like your wizardess does?” Clio asked with a bright shining smile. “The two of us on either side of the great divide? What would be the fun of that?”

“How did you get here then?” Garth asked.

“How did I pass two planar barriers do you mean?” Clio asked. “I told you that all you had to do was call. I gave you great power through the use of my name and you finally gave in.”

“I did,” Garth said. “I feared you for a long time.”

“You still fear me,” Clio said with a toothy grin. “I can smell it on you.”

Those words and that one look made Garth’s heart pound all the faster. “Is that what you want? Me afraid? Is that like seasoning for the meat?”

Clio laughed again, this time a good long laugh. “Do you really think I want to eat you?”

“Don’t you?” Garth asked. “You always have a hungry look in your eyes when you look at me.”

“Eating a halfling is such an uncouth and mundane thing to do with one’s mouth,” Clio said. “There are much more enjoyable things to do with one’s mouth and other parts.” Her smile at that was so wicked that Garth found himself smiling back, a shiver going up and down his spine.

“I have never met a woman who matched my appetites,” Garth said gently. He was not sure if he fully believed the fey but he was definitely curious. The thrill of the game was a siren call, probably literally in this case. The possible reward was definitely worth the risk to him.

“And the thought that I may be your match thrills you,” Clio said. “Are you then afraid that I may exceed your appetites?”

“Not exactly,” Garth said. “I’m definitely excited.”

“I can tell,” Clio said with a musical little chuckle. Garth could hardly believe he was entertaining the thought that he was entertaining. In his wildest dreams, he could never have predicted this. Well, looking back, he should have seen this possibility during their first meeting.

Garth suddenly shook his head, shaking off that feeling for the moment. “This isn’t why I called you. I wanted to talk business.”

“Business?” Clio asked. “What business could possibly be more important than what is about to happen here and now?”

“Outside of this plane, there is a dragon in the Royal House of Eloria,” Garth said. “We intend to face it tomorrow and we intend to kill it. Frankly, we could use your help.”

“My help?” Clio asked. Her curiosity had clearly been piqued.

“There are lizard people in the city,” Garth said. “I would love it if you could help take care of them.”

“Is that all?” Clio asked. “A paltry thing. It has been far too long since I have felt blood trickling across my skin anyway. Name your deal.”

“Deal?” Garth asked. “I ask you to fight on our side against the dragon and its forces tomorrow and until the battle is over. I also request that you leave me in fighting shape tonight.”

“Easily done, I have great healing powers,” Clio said with a smile. “In return, I will dine with Elorian royalty, you will give me a tour, and then you and your friend will let me explore this realm on my own.”

Garth thought about it for a moment. “Do you intend to hurt the people of this land during this vacation?”

“That is not my intention,” she said.

Garth knew that the fey were compelled to speak the truth but they could come close enough to a lie to be deceptive and manipulative. “Alright, we have a deal.”

Cliodha patted the bed beside her. “Then come and let us seal it.”

When it All Ended Pt. 10

March 24, 2018

“What are you all talking about?” Cassandra asked from the top of the stairs. She had left the flask containing the djinn on her bedside table. She would release her in the morning when it was marginally safer. Besides, she had a feeling the djinn would either wreck the mansion or get them all drunk if given the chance. Messing about with spirits was dangerous but unleashing mischief onto the world definitely topped the dragon making the capital of Eloria its lair.

“We were just talking allies, Ms. Oakspring,” Galath said. “Even after all our travels the allies we can call on are running short.”

“Once again, Galath,” Cassandra said. “You can call us by our first names. I think you’ve earned being informal with us.”

“I think I am just more comfortable calling you by your surnames,” Galath said. “I suppose I like knowing that you are all somehow linked to my past.”

“Go on and speak how you will speak, Galath,” William said. “Either way, you stand by our side and that’s all that matters to me.” Garth and Cassandra both nodded and each agreed with that sentiment. Cassandra stepped behind the bar, amidst the unseen servants and sat facing the three men.

“Speaking of allies,” Garth said. “How did things go on your end?”

“I spoke to Princess Cora briefly and she is keeping the dragon busy for now,” Cassandra said. “I don’t know how long she’ll last.”

“As far as I know,” William said. “the Royal family does not have as much prowess when it comes to battle. It must be hard to be helpless against a dragon in your home.”

“Only mostly helpless,” Cassandra said. “I kind of know the Princess. I met her once back at New Moon. She showed signs of magical ability but if she pursued that, it was with private tutors.”

“Besides that,” Garth said. “I’ve heard that the royals are actually pretty smart and capable.”

“Oh Pelor,” Galath said. “did you case the royal palace at one point?”

“I will neither confirm or deny it,” Garth said, looking side to side. “I will say that they do have a lot of nice things and even one artifact would probably set me up for life.”

“No stealing while we’re there tomorrow,” Cassandra said. “Anyway, the Princess will try to get the beast up onto the roof. It’s big and flat and will give us more space to face the dragon.” All three men started to think of what they could do and what they had to do on that roof, strategizing based on their abilities.

“And what of the djinn,” Galath asked. “Will she help us?”

“She has agreed to help us,” Cassandra said. “I know it’s foolish to fully trust a djinn but I feel like it’s worth the risk and Morgan and Percy agreed.”

“Well, I trust you,” William said. “That’s all that matters.”

“Yes,” Galath said. “I have complete faith in you.”

Garth shrugged. “Sometimes you have to work with a trickster.” He grinned.

Cassandra smiled in thanks.

“Well,” William said. “I hardly think we need the help. We’re a great fighting force. We’re Moonglow’s Raiders and I have never seen anybody as powerful as we are.”

Cassandra had a sudden thought. “Hey trickster,” she said. “I just thought of somebody that you could possibly contact.”

“Me?” Garth asked. “All my old friends are back in Kofrain and, besides you all, I have nothing but enemies in Eloria.” He paused and thought for a moment. “And Shura and Treles and Ascines and I really carved a path, didn’t I? I’m really drawing a blank here Cassandra. You’re going to have to give me a hint at least.”

“Well,” she said. “The ally wouldn’t be in any of those places. The ally would be in the feywild.”

“Oh no,” Garth said. “Not her.” He slid off of his stool and started to walk away.

They all turned to watch him. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Garth,” Cassandra said. “but tomorrow is going to be really hard on everyone. I want all of us to survive. I want as much of the Guard as possible to survive.”

“We need all hands on deck, Garth,” William said with all seriousness in his eyes. “She wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t important.”

“I know,” Garth said without turning around. His shoulders slumped and he sighed and ran a hand through his hair.

“What are you afraid of?” Cassandra asked. If it had not been her who asked, if it had been William, the question might have made him angry. Cassandra was just so good at reading people, like the books she was so fond of.

“She is a being of the feywild,” Garth said. “they’re not like us. They’re dangerous.”

“It’s not like she wants to eat you,” Galath said. William and Cassandra laughed a little at that.

“She might,” Garth said and that ended the laughter. “I just don’t know. I know that she had a hungry look in her eyes and I just don’t know what she was hungry for. With other girls, I had an idea before I pulled them close. This is uncharted territory.”

“We will not force you, my friend,” William said. “It is enough to have you by our side in the battle tomorrow.”

Garth sighed. “I hate that I’m not the fearless force that you all know and love.”

“Love is a little strong,” William said but it was said calmly. “There is a very clear line between bravery and foolishness.”

“I was just teasing you about you know who,” Cassandra said. “You have a good point. She could be very dangerous. She is Fey, not mortal like us.”

There was a long silence. “I think I’ll turn in,” Garth said. “We have a big day ahead of us and you know how I get if I drink too much.”

William smiled. “Drink too much? I’ve never seen it happen myself.”

“I’m very good at hiding,” Garth said with a smile and he headed up the stairs. The three remaining looked at each other worriedly.

When It All Ended Pt. 9

March 17, 2018

William Havelock and Garth Whispernight were sitting at the bar downstairs. During his exile from his homeland, William had learned to really enjoy a good tavern. There was usually fellowship, decent ale, and there was the possibility of a good brawl breaking out. William had earned his title when he was knighted. He did not come from nobility but he had instead made a name for himself in the tourneys all over Shera. He had fought threats to the land alongside prissy rich boys and girls and gained fame through hard work and bravery. However, it was not until he had officially become a full-time adventurer that he had downtime to discover the simple joys of drinking with friends. Of course, there was a time when it looked like William and Garth would never be friends.

Garth had come a long way himself, even farther than Shera. He had fled Kofrain himself when the desert had figuratively gotten too hot. When he had joined the party he would have been the first to admit that he was a scoundrel. He was proud of it. He called himself the world’s greatest thief but he had always done it for fun and not riches. William and Cass had been the ones to finally catch him and Morgan was the one who convinced him to join the group. What started as reluctant do-gooding turned into an exciting thrill ride which in turn led to him being as addicted to saving the day as the others were. The war of words between him and William had grown from animosity to petty fun and finally to real friendship. Garth had turned over a new leaf and while he still did not follow the laws of the land, he definitely used those powers for good.

“You are very quiet over there, Whisper,” William said, setting his mug down. “You also look a little green. You’re not scared are you?”

“Scared?” Garth asked with an incredulous look that had indeed been a look of dread a moment before. “Unlike you, I will never even be seen by the dragon. It won’t know what hit it when I get the killing blow.”

William laughed. “You? I’m sure you meant to say that it will be me who scores the killing blow and I will do it as I look that dragon in the eye. It will know who ended its life.”

“Will you two ever stop arguing?” Galath asked as he walked up and climbed up onto a stool. The older dwarf man had taken off his customary mail and cloak and he looked a lot more casual as a result. The party was used to him being so formal.

“I’m afraid not,” William said. “You and Morgan just might be stuck watching over us forever, old man.” He and Garth smiled at each other, they would be done sniping at each other for a while.

“True,” Galath said. “It’s not as if we’ve been able to unload either of you along the line.”

“We’re hard to get rid of,” Garth said proudly. “But who would want to get rid of a crack thief like me?”

“All of the nobles of Eloria for starters,” Galath said. “Usually I find your bravado a bit tiresome but we need your legendary confidence tomorrow, Whispernight.”

“I keep racking my brain for any more allies we could call on but I am separated from the Knights of Shera and most of the friends I personally made during our adventures are on the front lines,” William said. He reflexively looked over at the sword he carried with its hawk head pommel. He felt a brief guilt that he was not with his fellows in Shera or in the thick of battle with the brave Guard of Eloria. Then he remembered that if he had been, he would not be here to face the dragon and that was strangely comforting.

“Yes,” Galath agreed. “I too have been searching my heart for allies but to no avail.”

“What about Carania, Galath?” Garth asked.

Galath flinched at that. It was not a negative thing but just proof of how much that name affected him. “She would be very effective here but last I heard from her, she was dealing with a problem in the Underdark. Even if she was not down there, she would be on the front lines dealing with the undead that are rumored to be fighting in the war.”

“That’s a shame,” William said. “She really would be helpful even if this kind of strays from her mission from the goddess of death.”

“We all go above and beyond what we are asked to do, Mr. Havelock,” Galath said. “Also, I’ll remind you that she is no grim reaper but is as much a defender of life as she is a defender of death.”

“True,” William said. “I’m sorry for implying anything wrong with the lady. She has done right by us a couple of times now and I just wish she could be here now.”

“So do I,” Galath said. “But I’m sure that we will see her again.”

“I bet you will,” Garth said with an elbow to the dwarf’s ribs. “If you know what I mean.”

Galath coughed and shook his head. “I’m sure I have no idea what you mean.” The dwarf took a long sip of his tea, so much that the cup refilled as soon as he set it down. It was a bit of an irregularity for a dwarf to not be a drinker but Galath always wanted a clear head and sometimes drinking just reminded him of the friends he had lost when he had been petrified. He looked around and realized that all three of them were men separated from their original homes. While they were not the same, that thread had tied them together in the midst of a party of adventurers. “You know, maybe you two can go home after this.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go home,” Garth said. “Maybe there’s no real home to go back to.”

“Surely your home did not crumble to dust like mine did,” Galath said. “It is probably still there.”

“Not the structure, Galath,” Garth said. “Maybe I like it here better and maybe this is sort of my family now.”

“Has the thief grown a heart?” William asked with a smirk.

“No!” Garth yelled and then there was an intense silence. “I always had one, I guess.”

“Of course you did,” Galath said. “and I know how you feel. I will never forget the bond we have forged together.”

“Neither will I,” William said. “It is as strong as the vows I took as a knight. Maybe stronger.”

The three men drank to that.

When it All Ended Pt. 3

January 6, 2018

“A dragon?!” William Havelock nearly shouted when the group had reconvened. “We’re seriously considering fighting a dragon?”

“Such concern from the man who charged headlong into a cave with three hags in it the day before yesterday,” Morgan said.

“Hags are different and you know it,” William said.

“I think my contract specifically excludes messing with dragons,” Garth said. “Sorry guys, my hands are tied.”

“We never actually got around to drawing up a contract, Garth,” Morgan said.

“Well, that was an oversight on my part,” Garth said. “I won’t make that mistake the next time somebody needs my help.”

Morgan found herself smiling somewhat fiercely. She did not particularly want to go after a dragon either. However, the oath she had uttered when she became an adventurer was similar enough to the one she had made as a ranger. In Morgan Moonglow’s mind, that oath was unbreakable and if she could make a difference then she would. “Well, if you gentlemen are too afraid then there is no shame in camping right here. We should be back to collect you later.”

“Afraid?” William asked. “I wouldn’t use that word exactly. With you all at my back, I could charge into any battle. Garth, you can camp here alone.”

“A talent on my level should not be idle,” Garth said. “You know how my fingers start to itch when I’m bored.” In fact, that had led to complications with various members of the Guard early in their association as a team.

“Your skills are so legendary, Garth,” Morgan said with just a little sarcasm. “We need your sneaking skills and those deadly daggers of yours.”

“Well, the Shadow Teeth are not just any daggers,” Garth said. “That much is true. I guess I’ll have to come along but you definitely owe me for this.”

“Put it on my tab,” Morgan said. “How about the rest of you? This group has always been strictly voluntary. None of you have ever backed down from a fight yet but you can now.”

Cassandra spoke up, almost a squeak of a voice at first. “Well, I backed down that one time early on.” The moment when she had turned her back on them when the fate of the world was in the hands of the Scar Brotherhood would always be a painful memory for Cassandra. The fact that the magic she cherished so much had been her undoing had made the situation all the worse. She had seriously considered going back to the academy after that adventure.

“That’s hardly fair,” Galath said. “You were under an enchantment and at the end of that adventure you redeemed yourself twice over.” In fact, she had. Cassandra had broken the enchantment on her mind at the last possible moment and had provided just the distraction the team needed to save the world that first time.

“And you have been a constant companion ever since,” William said.

“Well, I’m not backing down this time,” Cassandra said. “A spellcaster is needed when taking on a dragon and besides I have studied them excessively. I’m in.”

“I have also read a lot about Dragons,” Percy said. “And none of you are as adept at counterspelling as I am. You would be dead in an instant without me. Besides, I would walk through fire for you, Morgan.”

Morgan found herself blushing, a slight crack in her usual tough demeanor. “And you have. I’m sure you remember the bit with the elementals.” Percival Stardane had seemed like an arrogant know-it-all when they had all met but that moment when he had literally walked through fire to offer a healing word to Morgan had convinced her that there was something more to the librarian.

“I remember everything,” Percy said. He and Morgan kissed. It was still new for them to show affection in front of the others but with a dragon looming on the horizon, neither of them really cared. They could be embarrassed afterward. Morgan found herself blinking and smiling as she finally pulled back and the world came rushing back in.

She cleared her throat. “What about you, Galath? You’re the last of us.” She managed to ask, turning toward the dwarf. He had been the last one to join the group but it had still been a long road together.

“Ms. Moonglow,” Galath began. He was always so formal. “If it were not for all of you then I would have been lost to time. I would have existed only as my own stone memorial, abandoned by the world in the forest. You restored me to life and gifted me with a whole new world and a whole new purpose. Namely, keeping you all alive. I know that all of you save Mr. Whispernight will say that there is no debt. There is a duty, though, because you are the closest thing I have to family now and I will always be there when things get rough.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Percy said. “Well, I probably could have but you get the idea. We’re all in then.”

“Then we’ll be off to save the King’s house and all the people of the city,” Morgan said. “We’ll be facing a green dragon. We do not know how old this thing is. It could be an adolescent, it could be ancient, or it could be anywhere in between.”

“If it’s ancient, there are many things that it is capable of,” Cassandra said. “Percival and I can write up a list together.”

“Between the two of us, we can probably tell you everything there is to know about it,” Percival said.

“What I’m wondering,” William said. “is why the dragon would attack the capital now. Is it just opportunity or is it part of a bigger plan?”

Morgan had not thought of that yet. “What are you saying, William?” She felt free to use his real name while they were all alone. Addressing him by his real name was a show of respect. “Do you think that this is somehow connected to the war?”

“That was my thought,” William said with a grave nod.

“That’s a scary thought,” Percy said. “There aren’t a lot of ways for the army of Shera to both summon and control a dragon. I have never heard of a dragon working with demons. They are usually selfish, arrogant creatures that have to be in charge and I would bet you that Vistra is much the same.”

“Well, whatever the answer to that mystery is,” Morgan said. “We might discover the answer.”

“If we survive,” Garth said.

“I have faith in us,” Morgan said.

 

When It All Ended Pt. 2

December 30, 2017

Morgan Moonglow put a hand on Hamm’s shoulder as he fell to his knees and breathed hard, he seemed to be coming down from some sort of panic. She shouted. “Galath!” When the dwarf ran over she spoke again. “Check him out, please.”

“I’d be happy to,” Galath said. “He looks physically alright but mentally… well, we’ll see won’t we?” He pressed his hand to Hamm’s other shoulder and it glowed for a moment and the color returned a bit to Hamm’s cheeks.

“Can you tell us what’s wrong?” Morgan asked. Hamm looked at her helplessly for a moment and then at the five others clustered around. Morgan gave them a look that clearly said to back off.

“I am happy to scout ahead a bit,” William said. He was a big knight in thick, steel armor and Hamm tilted away when he spoke. He ruffled Garth Whispernight’s hair, obviously part of a good-natured rivalry between the halfling and the human. “I’ll take Garth with me. Won’t I, Garth?”

“I guess I could stretch my legs,” Garth said. The way he talked, it sounded like he did not really care much.

Henry whistled for Hengroen and climbed aboard the horse. He rode slowly to allow Garth to keep up. The halfling eyed the horse with some nervousness. That left Galath, Percival Stardane, and Cassandra Oakspring nearby. Galath went back to tend the fire and the cooking he had been doing. Cassandra sat daintily on a log and opened a book. Morgan could see Percy’s eyes give that book an envious look but he stuck by Morgan’s side with a half-smile. She smiled back and turned to the dwarf in front of her who seemed to be coming back to reality.

“Now then,” Morgan said. “Can you tell us what you’re running from? I promise that we can protect you.”

“And we will also believe you,” Percy said. “We have already seen some crazy shit.” He smiled warmly at the man and Hamm couldn’t help but smile back.

“Well, I only saw it for a moment but I swore it saw me and it killed Moira and who knows how many others,” Hamm said. He realized he was still holding the satchel of firewood over his shoulder and he put it down.

“Yes, but what was it?” Morgan asked. The question was kind but firm. She had softened some working alongside her team but that ranger training was ingrained and kept her on task.

“A dragon!” Hamm blurted out. “A green dragon.”

“A dragon!?” Percival said loudly. There was something between fear and excitement in his eyes. Cassandra’s eyes went wide over on the log and her back went absolutely straight. “There hasn’t been a dragon sighting in Eloria for the past two years or so. A green dragon is even rarer. Hmm.” Cassandra was staring into space, seemingly doing the related calculations already.

“It had to be a dragon,” Hamm said. “It couldn’t be anything else.”

“As I said, we believe you, friend,” Percival said. “Besides that, there is no mistaking a dragon for anything else. The green ones are especially vibrant and easily recognized at a distance even by the yokelest of yokels.” Morgan reached over and physically covered his mouth before he could say any more.

“Where is the dragon?” Morgan asked with urgency. She had just let two of her people scout ahead and she was now doubting that decision just a little bit. She knew that William and Garth could take care of themselves but a dragon was a dragon.

“It’s in the capital,” Hamm managed. He was very tired even with Galath’s healing and it almost physically hurt to think back to what he saw.

“The capital?” Morgan asked, her eyes going wide a bit. “That’s about five miles from here.”

“Is it?” Hamm asked, blinking at that realization. He felt a bit safer with that knowledge but also completely out of place.

“And you were there earlier today?” Morgan asked. “That’s quite some run, um, sorry what was your name?”

“Hamm Stoutfire, at your service,” He said. “I owned a shop in the merchant’s district. Well, I guess I still own it if it was not destroyed.”

“I hope it’s still intact,” Morgan said. “Cassandra, please summon the boys back here. We need to gear up and ride on. We might be the only adventurers in the area capable of taking care of this.” Cassandra pressed a finger to her ear. It was an unnecessary gesture that usually signified that she was using a sending spell.

“You’re going to fight it!?” Hamm shouted, his eyes tinged with panic again.

“We’re going to try,” Morgan said.

“Really, it’s lucky we were in the area,” Percy said, pushing Morgan’s hand from his mouth. “We were dealing with a bit of business with some hags and a prophecy and funny enough we ended up fighting a newly minted vampire lord that some other country had dumped here. So we were just riding away from all of that when we met you. See? Lucky.”

“I could do with less of that kind of luck,” Galath said. “You’re never lucky to meet a dragon.”

Morgan covered Percy’s mouth again and gave him a pointed look. “Mr. Stoutfire does not need to know all of our business,” she said. She turned her gaze back toward Hamm. “You have been very kind to give us this information. We will be riding on to the capital. Do you have somewhere safe to go in the meantime?”

“I think I still have a cousin in Stoneswallow near here,” Hamm said. “Besides, it might be better to be underground right now.”

“Probably a good call,” Galath said. “And yet.”

Morgan shot him a look and he smiled and shrugged. He was already carrying over a bit of sausage and bread which he handed to Hamm along with what seemed to be a full waterskin. Hamm bit into the food without a second glance but did manage to mumble something thankful with his mouthful. With an uneasy glance back the way he came, he hurried down the road on wobbly legs. He had no more desire to be with people who were comfortable fighting dragons than he was to be actually near the dragon.

“Farewell, new friend!” Percy shouted after him, once again extricating himself from Morgan’s grip. “Safe travels!”


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