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Dragons and Swords at Midnight

In a different universe, far from where you are sitting, three men wander into a pub. Under their black coats, the clink of their steel armor was lost in the clamor of laughter, tirades and cheers. Smoke from the wood oven, mixed with the scent of apple cider and cinnamon, floated up into the eaves.

“Three jugs of cider,” boomed a hoarse voice. The three men sat down at the bar as the bartender scurried off. When the old bartender wobbled back he asked, “Where ya from, ya young travelers?”

“Far from here,” retorted the shortest one of the three.

“Excuse my partner. He is tired from our voyage. We will need a room. Oh, excuse me, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Heian Xanaphia Nightbreeze, son of King Thamior of the West Elven Lands, and these are my companions Himas Me…”

“I think I know my own name, Heian. I am Himas Melian the Great,” said the taller man with the hoarse voice.

“And I am Eberk Ungart, son of Moradin the Soulforger,” said the short one. The waiter seemed pleased with the introduction and left to tend to his customers.

Suddenly a young man barged in, his shirt ripped as if something with large claws had attacked him. The three men barely blinked until they heard the man say “treasure”.

Heian, Himas and Eberk were no ordinary travelers; in fact, they are not even travelers, but hunters. In the world of Popularias, human and beast lived together, not always in peace with each other; there were so many different species. That’s where our trio comes in, three fearless mercenaries looking for a fight. Prince Heian is a slick rogue. He started the band after he was caught spying on his father’s enemy. His finesse with disguise, lock-picking and deception is unbeatable. Even though he is quick and sneaky, he needed muscle to protect him.

That is why he found Himas, a powerful person who is one-third human, one-third elven, and one-third orc. He mastered the great sword. It could behead an ogre with one swing but lowers your defense because, with both hands on the sword, you can’t hold a shield. Finally, there is Eberk, the brains of the group. Unlike Heian, he isn’t talkative. He is the only one who knows magic. He is one of the greatest wizards among dwarves and has trained all over the world to master magic.

The young man wobbled while he explained what happened. “I was inside the old forgotten mines and I heard some strange noises.” He barely moved his lips as he spoke.

Some men grabbed hold of him before he stumbled over. The waiter told them to put him on the table. The barman came with a bucket of water and a rag. One man ran off to get a cleric. The short, dwarven wizard hopped off his chair and calmly made his way to the front of the table.

“Did you follow it? Was it a growl, or was it a scream?” Eberk was already analyzing the case.

Many of the men decided this was a good opportunity to finish off their drinks and leave without paying.
“When I got further into the mines, heat overtook me, made me sweat and made me dizzy. Then I turned the corner and bright gold light blasted into my eyes almost blinding me.” The young man seemed more excited as he told the story, and when his heart started to beat faster, blood poured from his chest.

“When my eyes adjusted, I saw swords, armor, silver, gold, rings and great big gems.” Once the three men heard that, there was a twinkle in their eyes.

“Give the boy some space!” The barman put his arms out as if trying to make a small circle around the table. “Slow down, boy. Don’t hurt yourself.”

“What happen after that?” Heian and Himas decided to join their companion and made their way through the emptied out room.

“Well, I sneaked up to a goblet covered with diamonds and gold, but when I grabbed hold of it, I was knocked out by something. When I woke up, I was outside the cave all ripped up.” Blood seemed to pour out non-stop. It would roll to the edges of the round table and drip onto the ground. Then it would form a circle as the drops connected. The boy lifted his arms up as if he were holding the goblet, but then his arms landed on the table with a loud thump.

He lay there for a second, unconscious, and then it seemed as if his life jumped back into him. The town cleric burst into the room and rushed over to the table. As he started to get set up, the three coated men left without the barman noticing and headed for the old mines.

When they got there, they, too, felt the great heat. The entry was almost totally covered by rocks, allowing only the tiniest creatures to get in around the small mouth of the roaring cave. There were miles of waste lands with dead trees leaning down to touch the dry earth with nothing growing from it, and the debris of dead rodents lay on the ground.

The team decided to wait outside until they heard the voices the boy described. Their campsite consisted of a few logs to sit on and some tinder Eberk lit for a fire. He did this with produce flame, a spell that allows you to hurl a flaming ball up to 120 feet. After that was done, everyone took out something to do: Himas sharpened his great sword, Eberk pulled out one of his scrolls that he found on other missions and studied it, and Heian melted some fool’s gold that he always kept with him to forge gold coins.

Then a loud shriek stringed through the air and all three of them threw their hands over their ears and grinned. Eberk recovered the fastest and yelled over it, “This is a spell I have heard of. We must follow it before it stops.”

The group stood up and while the others collected their items, Heian grabbed a blazing stick from the fire and headed for the cave. Himas followed behind him in a jog. When he got to the pile of rocks he palmed two and threw them aside; he was clearing the entry. When Eberk caught up, the mouth of the cave was cleared. Heian handed Himas the torch and they got into their formation: Heian behind Himas and Eberk in the back.

“I need a new torch. This one is starting to heat my gauntlet,” Himas’s hoarse voice was even louder inside the echoing cave.

“It’s not just your torch. I think it is the unbearable heat the boy was talking about. You should take off your armor and leave it because it will only be worse.” There was an uncertain hesitation in Eberk’s words.

“I’ll take care of the torch while you take the armor off. Then I’ll start leading the way.” Even Heian’s slick voice shook in fear. “Eberk, have you figured out what we are up against?”

“Yes, I believe it’s a dragon and some sort of wizard warlock.” Eberk went on to describe why he thought it was a warlock. “The strident voice is a very low level spell. It will stun the opponent for less than half an hour, and then even though it is still being cast it will lose effect. A powerful caster would never use such a spell. I think it’s a warlock because their magic is very weak. Also, a warlock tends to accompany a dragon because he wants to create as much damage in the smallest period of time. Dragons are the exact tool for that. It’s obvious there’s a dragon because it’s hot inside the cave. There’s probably a whole pile of gold he’s sleeping on as we speak.”

“I guess we can get moving now. I got my armor off but I hope nothing happens to it because I had to pay lots for it,” complained Himas.

“Don’t worry. There’s a mountain of gold greater than we have ever seen,” reassured Heian. And with that, the trio reformed their single file line and followed the heat.

They finally wandered into a long hall with a faint glow near the end. Candles and torches hung lit along the walls and down the three rows of pillars. Suddenly, as Himas set his foot past the old archway, the strident noise ended. But then, laughter from an evil and twisted voice rolled out from behind each pillar at different times. At the end of the hall, a tall, skinny man with broad shoulders in a long, red and black robe laughed. Big, loud steps shook the earth, and from behind the man came a great red dragon. “Did the pitiful thief send you?” laughed the man. “What a shame! I thought I would have been able to annihilate a whole army, but instead there are only two of you.”

Yes, he did say two. By the time Himas set foot past the archway, Heian had slipped out of his black cloak and sneaked up to a pillar camouflaging himself with his hide armor. This magical armor is light but protective. Most magical objects are found after adventures or they are gifts from a king that the mercenaries saved. This is one of Heian’s most prized items; it takes the color of whatever you are holding when you activate it. One of its disadvantages is that you need to sprinkle jade dust on it and jade dust is very costly. Also, when you take a weapon in your hand, the cloak will become the same color as the sword’s handle. So, when Heian goes in for an attack, he must make it quick and fatal.

“We may be two, but we are very powerful,” bellowed Himas. He had decided to intimidate the warlock who approached them slowly.

“We will see about that. Krusk, will you take care of them?” the warlock gently ordered his pet dragon. With that, the big dragon aligned himself with the middle section of the hall and roared. All three men got goose bumps popping on their arms.

Eberk got straight to work shooting off three flaring magic missiles to the most common weak spots of the red dragon. Then Himas got out a short spear and followed the small missiles. He was able to arrive under the dragon before it noticed and jabbed one of its legs with all his power. The lance shattered into splinters and had no effect.

The warlock charged Himas and, with a powerful head butt, knocked our fighter off his feet. Then he took out a big Morningstar and, just as he was bringing the big spiky ball down to Himas’s face, Heian shot off from one off the pillars. He looked like a tree truck because his rapier’s handle had dark beige leather wrapped around it. While the others were fighting, Eberk was running from pillar to pillar preparing a spell that would finish off the dragon in one shot. Because it was a touch-delivered attack, Eberk had to put his hand on Krush’s chest to cast the spell.

Heian may have momentarily stopped the evil warlock from crushing his friend’s face, but he put himself in just as much danger. Himas got back up taking out his great sword. As he turned around to take a swing at the warlock, the dragon seemed to stop focusing on Eberk and zeroed in on Himas. Heian saw this and, when he tried to get to his friends, he was blocked by the towering warlock in front of him.

Heian had no choice but to face him off on his own. Beads of sweat formed on his brow. A perfectly round drop of sweat, the size of a pea hurtled to the ground, crashed like hail and shattered like glass. It was an unfair match, though, and every time he tried to cut through his opponent’s muscle, he received a blow. The warlock danced rapidly and delivered his strikes even faster.

Heian was about to give up; the heat tired him and the light faintly danced away. He jumped into the air and came down with his last burst of energy. The warlock evaded it with a quick twist and as the rapier struck the ground, he took one final strike right in the chest of Heian, laughing even harder when he heard the cracking of the bones. It was as if someone took their first bite out of a fresh apple.

The evil enemy rested on his Morningstar waiting for his prized destroyer dragon to finish off the other two combatants. But, Krush yelped as Himas jabbed repeatedly at his belly from underneath. As Himas turned to see his companion lying dead on the ground, one of Krush’s front paws tore into his back and pushed him out from under the dragon’s belly. Guts spilled on the ground from the red dragon’s belly like huge jelly beans when you rip open the package. As Himas stood up, the long, sharp tail of the dragon tore through the fighter’s heart like an arrow piercing a hunted bird. He fell down dead alongside Krush.

Eberk was on the verge of crying but he couldn’t because he was still under attack. He tried to run out from behind the pillars to make sure the dragon was dead but instead was knocked to the ground by the fist of the evil warlock who was not at all affected by his pet dragon’s death. As the wizard Eberk struggled to get up...



“It is time for bed boys,” a tall lady in a nightgown creaked open the door and poked her head inside the room. “I’ll give you five minutes before lights out to clean up your game.”

“But, Mom, can’t I just finish off Ethan? He’s almost dead. Please?” said one of the boys wearing a red cape. He was pointing to one of his three friends who had on a long pointy hat with stars and suns.

“You’re not allowed to kill off characters,” said the boy in the middle with a cardboard sword which he pointed at the boy with the cape.

“Yeah, I agree with Harry. That’s totally unfair,” announced the third boy standing up as the mother watched from the doorway.

“Shut it, Hector. I’m allowed to do anything I want. I‘m the Dungeon Master,” proclaimed the boy with the red cape. The four boys were standing in the middle of the bedroom having a stare-off.

“Goodnight, boys!” called out the mother as the room went black. “You can finish your argument tomorrow.”



Join the Discussion


This article has 7 comments. Post your own!

Miara said...
May 25, 2010 at 7:15 pm:
It's good, but a little monotonous at the beginning.
 
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TheAbuExperience said...
May 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm:
Thank you for all the nice commnts.
 
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cyrano said...
May 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm:

Great story,suspense and intrigue -- I had a similar experience:

--- I struck the dragon in the mid section and a mass of bright red jelly-like beans spilled on to the floor BUT there was ONE yellow one in the midst. I leaned over, picked it up and put it in my mouth. It LEMON flavored --- A voice sounded nearby and screamed @#?<&*) and I woke up!!!

Thought you should know!!

NONNO

 
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PESully said...
May 17, 2010 at 10:37 am:

Hi George,

I enjoyed your story.  Science fiction is my favorite type of book and I even took a course in college about SciFi.  Keep up the good work and I can't wait to see you in July.  Paul

 
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Quamazons said...
May 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm:
HEY THIS IS AN AWESOME DEBUT IN FANTASY TALES! PLEASE WRITE MORE! I WOULD LIKE TO SEE A FEMALE CHARACTER IN YOUR NEXT STORY. HOW ABOUT QUICKSY, THE ROGUE?
 
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Joe B. said...
May 11, 2010 at 3:19 pm:
wow. great shift in scene in the end. i was wondering why the heck you were naming the spells.... but it all made sense in the end. i WAS gonna critique you on the.... nerdy way you portrayed some of the stuff, but i've spent nights awake with my friends on D&D too. good job.
 
TheAbuExperience replied...
May 15, 2010 at 9:12 am :

Ya the nerdy stuff was a forshadow

 

 
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