Dragonlance: Dragons Of A Scared Squire
Author's note: This is based on the Dragonlance Chronicles by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Dragons of Autumn... Show full author's note »
Trouble At The InnThe Autumn sun had already gone down when Praker Lampkey began his ascent up the large staircase leading to the Inn of the Last Home. Most of the buildings in Solace were built high in tall vallenwood trees, and this had always bothered Praker, who was afraid of heights. In fact, Praker was afraid of a lot of the fears people had: spiders, snakes, scorpions, most insects, the dark, fire, boats, men that were considerably larger than him, commitment.
Luckily, Praker lived in the nearby town of Haven, which was conveniently located on the ground. He was here to see his cousin, Tadius, who had moved here when they were children. Praker had climbed these same stairs many times over the years, but he had never gotten used to them, and climbed slowly, sticking to the side of the tree the stairs were built around. He attracted some attention, and more than a few giggles, but didn't notice.
Indeed, the only thing that set Praker apart was his lack of courage. He was of average intelligence, not particularly good-looking, and kind of short. He had brownish-blonde hair, that he wore in a common style, and blue eyes, a common eye color. His great-grandfather had been a Knight of Solamnia. He had sent his son to Haven for his safety. The Knights popularity had declined considerably since the Cataclysm: everybody else hated them with a passion. Many knights had been killed by angry mobs since then, their castles burned, anything of value taken. Tadius had shown some interest in becoming a knight. Praker, however, would be much too scared.
Finally, he reached the top and rushed in. Tadius was at a table near the door, drinking and laughing with some friends. Praker thankfully collapsed into an empty chair. "Calm down, man," said Tadius, "It's only some stairs. You'll live." Even though the two young men were only part Solamnic, Tadius acted more like a Solamnic. He often scolded Praker for being so afraid of everything.
Looking around, Praker gave a small sigh. One of the other men at the table was Bennet. If someone could sum Bennet up in one word, it would be this: d**k. He was known for lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, and kicking small, cute animals/children for no apparent reason. Praker would never say any of thoughts about Bennet out loud, though. He was afraid of Bennet as well. One had to wonder why an honorable Solamnic like Tadius associated himself with somebody so ... distasteful. Alas, the world is full of mysteries.
"So, Praker, you coward," Tadius continued, "How is Aunt Krytzia? Is she dead?"
"No, she'll be fine," Praker thought about how scary it would be if his mother had died. She had been sick until now; not with the plague, but it was pretty bad. She had just recovered, and was with Praker's sister, several hours behind him.
"So, I'm not going to be going to any funerals?" asked Tadius.
"No...Not my mothers', anyway." For a split second, Praker thought about Tadius possibly attending his funeral. Scary.
Suddenly, Praker heard singing. He and everybody else in the inn turned to look at a beautiful barbarian woman, who was singing a song that involved the old gods. She finished, and an old man started to tell some children a story about the legendary hero, Huma Dragonbane, and his god, Paladine. This was trouble. Sure enough, Hederick, the High Theocrat, got up and started giving them s**t. The woman's companion shoved him, and he fell into the fireplace. The old man grabbed the barbarian woman's staff and handed it to a kender, (short race that was immune to fear. Kender have a habit of getting into places where they don't belong, with items that don't belong to them.) telling him to knock the burning Theocrat down with it. When the staff hit him, it turned into...blue crystal!
When Praker entered Solace earlier, there had been tons of Seeker goblins, all looking for a blue crystal staff. Clearly, it was extremely important. And a kender had just whacked the High Theocrat with it. As Praker watched, the fire on Hederick went out, and he was unharmed. That didn't make him any less drunk, crazy, or stupid. He caught himself on fire again, this time on purpose, so he could burn the people that had staff.
Many people in the inn, including Tadius and Bennet, reached for their weapons. The barbarian woman's companion (Praker: "Damn, he's tall!") came to her aid, and so did a Knight of Solamnia ("Oh man, a knight! This can't end well!"), a stange, armed, red-bearded man ("Who's this guy? He looks dangerous!), a large, also armed man ("Yikes!"), a red-robed wizard ("Magic? AAAAh!), and an old dwarf. They all escaped out the back in the confusion.
A few hours later, when the frackus about the staff had finally died down, Praker lay on his bed in the Inn. Tadius had, of course, offered to let Praker stay at his house, but he didn't want to spend any more time outside, this high up, than he needed to, especially now that it was dark. He was still sober, and thought soberly (as he ever did, anyway). It wasn't that he didn't drink, he just didn't want to drink too much while he was up in a big tree. What if, in his drunken stupor, he fell out of a window and splattered on the ground far below?
He wondered about the blue-crystal staff. Was it a miracle of the Seeker gods? Or perhaps proof of the old gods, who had disappeared so long ago? It couldn't be a fake: everybody had seen what it did to Hederick. But for a guy whose life had been saved, he didn't seem very grateful. Of course, there would be a lot of people that would want to get their hands on it. This staff could put Solace, and maybe even Haven, in loads of danger.
At the time, though, nobody could've guessed just how much danger.
Days later, Praker was at the inn with his mother and sister, Marivel, as well as Tadius. Many people were afraid that night. Refugees had come from the north, with stories of giant, flying monsters. Everyone talked of war. The High Theocrat, who most people, sadly, did not consider stupid or crazy, reassured them. Standing on a chair, he said, "We are not like these reckless fools to the north who made the mistake of defying the might of the Dragon Highlords. Lord Verminaard has personally assured the Council of Highseekers in Haven that he only wants peace. He seeks permission to move his armies through our town so that he may conquer the elflands to the south. And I say more power to him!"
Bennet walked in right after he started talking, and "Woo!"ed and clapped loudly. Praker also clapped, as did a few other people. Hederick went on,
"We have tolerated the elves in Qualinesti too long. I say, let this Verminaard drive them back to Silvanost or wherever they came from! In fact, some of you young men might consider joining the armies of this great lord. And he is a great lord! I have met him! He is a true cleric! I have seen the miracles he has performed! We will enter a new age under his leadership! We will drive the elves, dwarves, and other foreigners from our land and-"
Then everybody heard a loud roaring sound. The inn became silent as everyone tried to figure out what it was.
Then it went dark.