Posts tagged ‘Short Story’

January 23, 2014

Snippet from Dragon Hunters

by Len


               The others had already fallen asleep.  Simeon, or Sim-dah as the ogres called him, snored loudly. Valladon was snuggled up in a little ball with his pet hawk, Largent, nestled in between his ankle and butt.  Those two, the dragon hunters, were unafraid of anything that this cave may be home to.  So they slept comfortably in the cold and dark cave.  The other travelers had found sleep hard to come by.  Even now Penn, the little gnome, tossed and turned.  This journey had been tough on him, but he was tougher and never let a complaint slip from his lips.  Zipporah, the half elf, had stayed up as long as she could.  Now she let sleep take her, as she pulled the blanket to her chin.


That left three figures still awake by the small remnants of a fire.  Misha set a little farther away from the others.  She was using the light from the bug lantern Cavechild had created to write notes in a book.   She was always taking notes and sketching.  It was her advice and understanding that helped the same group destroy a huge green dragon just a few days ago.   So when was she writing, no one disturbed her.

The other two had no need for sleep.  Cyrus was a dust elemental, a lesser elemental but still needing no rest.  He was about half as tall as Cavechild, the last figure.  While Cyrus poked and prodded the ashes out of sheer boredom, Cavechild sat like a rock.  He would remain unmoving for hours if left undisturbed.  The large membranes above his eyes were capable of picking up sounds miles away.  So he was obviously trying to listen for something far way when Cyrus whispered “I’m bored.”  Even though it was a whisper, it sounded like a scream to Cavechild.  Misha took note of both of them.

“You could save us a little time in the morning, if you were so inclined,” Cavechild turned his deep set empty eyes to Cyrus.  “Waterskins need refilling; Simeon’s for sure.  He drinks more than the rest of you combined.”

“Are you kidding me?” Cyrus asked.

“Then silence your complaints of boredom.”  Cavechild was obviously frustrated with the little elemental.  “You are not a child, no one here treats you as such.  Misha is working, and I am on guard duty.  You can help the party in one of two ways; go get water or sit in silence and try not to disturb us.”

Cyrus wanted to get offended, but truly couldn’t.  Cavechild was right.  “Where is the water?” he said as he started gathering the waterskins.

“About half a mile ahead there is a drip about midway up the wall on the left.  It should be safe to drink, I have heard three rats drink from it and what sounded like a large lizard.  You will want to be quiet, for where there are cave lizards there are goblins.” Cavechild explained.  He pulled out an extra waterskin from his pack and tossed it to Cyrus.  “Thank you.”

“Are we afraid of goblins now? Cavechild, we kill dragons.” Cyrus scoffed.

“We killed a dragon, and only by luck.” Misha spoke up.  “The boys Sim and Val they are fine fighters, but we don’t want battles that we can avoid.” She lowered her book and looked at Cyrus. “Please let them rest for the battles we must fight.”
“Sheesh, it’s like gang up on the dust ellie night.” Cyrus grabbed Misha’s waterjug. “Let me get out of here.”

When cavechild was sure that Cyrus was out of earshot he asked, “Misha was I too hard on Cyrus?” There was genuine concern in his voice.

“For the past three nights, he has complained.” Misha closed her book and moved closer to the smoldering ashes. “He wanted something to do, I assure you.  I just don’t think he was expecting you to be the one to give him a task.  You are always quiet.  Don’t let it bother you.  He will be proud he got the water when the others wake up.” Misha patted Cavechild’s back.  As she did she felt the small openings that were capable of emitting a poison gas.  He had used this particular ability earlier that day for the first time in front of his new party members. Misha could tell that it upset him to use it, but wasn’t sure why.

“Thanks, Misha.” Cavechild said, “You should probably get some rest.”
“I will. I will.” Misha quickly stated. “but can ask you a few questions first?”

“Of course.”

“When you expel the gas, does it hurt?” Misha asked.  She wanted to understand Cavechild, but did not want to hurt his feelings by prying too far.

Cavechild got up and moved away from Misha.  Then, after a few awkward moments, he turned to her.  He took a deep breath, then slowly let it out.  Misha sat patiently.  Finally he looked at her and said, “No.” But he quickly added “It doesn’t hurt me in a physical sense, but it destroys me emotionally.”

“I hate to ask you this, but I think I can give you some answers.  Can you make the gas you release to be a pleasant, calming gas? Or is it always poison?” Misha once again moved closer to Cavechild, and he looked surprisingly at her.

“Yes.  I can make it appealing…but how could you even know that?” Cavechild’s mood had changed from sullen to curious.

“As I said, I may have some answers.” Misha was excited she had guessed correctly.  She believed her studying of dragons had paid off.  “You were from the caves by Lake Loc, correct?”

“Yes, those were my first memories.” He answered.


“Okay.  So let me run down a few things I have learned about you, and then you tell me if I have missed anything okay? “Misha was building momentum toward her final theory. “You can emit gas both poison and alluring.  You can blend into the cave and have a heightened sense of hearing.  Is there anything I am missing?”

“I can sense vibrations in the stone.  I can tell what is happening around me with relative ease. The hearing helps, but the feeling of the stone vibrations is what makes me as good as I am at surviving down here.” Cavechild was not bragging. He was opening up in the hopes of getting information that Misha obviously had. “Does that help?”

“It simply further proves my theory.” Misha smiled. “Do you want to know what I think?”

“Very much”

“It was my initial assumption that you were part of a lost race, a people that had been forgotten.  “However after spending time with you and talking to Penn about what he knew of you, I came to believe that you were unique.”  Cavechild, it is my belief you are a child of an earth elemental and an indigo dragon” Misha stated those last words with supreme confidence.  Cavechild sat staring at her for many long moments, then he asked, “do you know who may dragon parent is.”

Misha replied, “I do”.

January 2, 2014

Battle at the Bridge

by Len


“I will not slink through the woods, led to my cowardice by common thieves,” Ballack spat.

“Then you can die, proud and arrogant prince!” Camille, the young woman, said coldly.

The young man, Graeme, stepped between his sister and the warlock dwarf. He raised his hands in a submissive manner and tried to reason with Ballack. “They have the whole area blanketed with swamp rays. There are many trolls waiting in the river. Nobody was meant to get across that bridge. Don’t you see?”

Ballack watched as the people he had sworn to protect poured into the woods. “I see cowards following sneak-thieves.” The dwarf prince raised his hammer high, and his soldiers formed ranks.

“You truly mean to attack the bridge?” Graeme asked incredulously.

“Consider it a distraction, if it makes you feel better,” Ballack answered. “Every dead troll makes the world a little safer for you and the rest of them.”

“It’s suicide,” Camille said.

Ballack looked and her and stated, “Shut up.” With that, he let out a yell and charged the bridge. The ghost on his left started his drum dirge, while the specter on his right raised the Dundersnuff banner high. The dwarven phalanx, as well as several therians who wanted the trolls to pay in blood for the attack on their city, plowed toward the troll ranks.

“Let’s not waste his sacrifice,” the young Pavee said sadly as he followed the last of the refugees into the woods.

Ballack and the others charged the bridge. The dwarves, who were more accustomed to the hard stone of the mountains, were not prepared for the swamp rays. The creatures could create electrical pulses as well as attack with their barbed tails. Being encased in metal armor and standing in water only amplified the damage of the rays. It was the start of a one-sided battle.

The first few dwarves were immediately dropped as they stepped on the swamp rays. A werecoyote also stepped on a ray, and felt the wicked barb pierce his calf. Intense pain shot through his leg, but was quickly healed by his therian blood. It hardly mattered, for the trolls poured over the advancing troop in a savage fashion. Ballack and his troops were some of the finest fighters in all of Delphia, and many trolls fell to their weapons. However, there were simply too many of them.

“Kill as many as you can,” Ballack shouted. “Beat them into the mud,” he screamed as he sent his hammer through the rib cage of a troll enemy. Then he touched a dwarf who was kneeling and healed his friends wounds. “Get back in the fight,” the prince urged. The initial advantage of the trolls had stalled as the dwarves formed their defensive diamond around their prince.

It was beautiful to watch the dwarves as they killed troll after troll. Ballack called upon his magical powers and had the corpses writhing and pulling at the legs of their comrades. The few therians that had accompanied the dwarves were already dead. They were tough, but could not hold up against the trolls even with their innate healing attributes. Ballack did not sympathize; they knew the risk.

One dwarf fell. Then another. Ballack could not heal them all, he was too busy trying to keep the trolls at bay. Another dwarf down. The diamond was broken. “On your own, then!” Ballack called, and each dwarf broke ranks to gain a more comfortable zone to work alone. They fought valiantly, bringing death to many trolls. One by one the prince’s troops were killed. It was a grueling battle for the trolls, one that took more time and cost more lives than they wanted; but one they would win.

Only two dwarves remained; Ballack and one they called “the Hook”. The two were back to back with Ballack using his necrotic magic as a protective orb. “I can keep this up all night, scum!” the warlock promised. At that moment to the south, a huge pillar of fire shot into the night. The trolls had been instructed to return to Shadowmire with any captives upon seeing the pillar of fire. Most of the trolls hustled away from Ballack and his cruel hammer. A few remained, but they never back to the therian city.

Ballack and the Hook limped away from the battle at the bridge. The warlock was pleased with the results; more than a hundred trolls were dead in the mud and the others were travelling in the opposite direction of the mass of survivors. He honored the fallen dwarves with a few words, then pressed on toward Oliveloft.

November 22, 2013

Dwarven Heart (part 2)

by Len

“Time,” the word was spoken as though no other word existed. Delia did not seem so majestic now, her superiority was not more. “The answer is time, correct?” This had not been the first time someone had correctly answered on of her riddles, but it was the easiest anyone ever had. The elf had been bandaging a badly torn leg, and hardly seemed to be listening. Yet she had answered it without much thought at all. Delia did not seem pleased.

“You have heard it before, Aspen!” It was not a question, but the preoccupied elf took it as one.

“No, it was not so hard if you followed a logical thought process.” Aspen did not notice that Delia was scowling at her. She did not realize the sphinx was on the verge of exploding. The cougar that she had befriended noticed, though. Mungo moved into a defensive position between the two. The animal’s movements set off alarms in the young elf. Only then did she notice how angry Delia had become. Aspen knew that ,even without her recent wounds, she could not hope to defeat Delia in battle. She had almost been killed by an owlbear and, if not for Mungo, certainly would have been.

Delia, seeing the young and helpless elf’s eyes go wide, softened. “Others found it hard enough. You are not like the others, though. I sense that you are wise beyond your appearance. You answered my riddle, and I confess that I do not like being bested. You will sharpen my intellect and I will attempt to sharpen your own.” Delia felt bad for thinking of killing this girl. Aspen sensed the change in the sphinx’s mood, but she kept her hands close to her blades, nonetheless. Mungo remained between them. “You are a worthy opponent, for riddles, I mean.” Aspen caught the confident Delia’s remark, but could not honestly argue it. Of course Delia could kill her and Mungo both with no trouble. So, the intelligent female played the mind games with the sphinx.

“Luck was all, I simply said it was easy because I was so lucky. Nothing makes a problem seem easier than good ole luck.” Aspen felt silly playing on the ego of the sphinx. It brought to her mind an image of a mother praising her child for the most mundane tasks. When the mother asked the child to do something else, the child would jump to do it, without question. This was no child, though, and she knew she had to be careful with the sphinx and her wounded pride.

Delia understood exactly what Aspen was doing, but she took no offense. Actually, it did make her feel good, not the words, but the fact that the elf cared enough to try to make her feel better. “You bested me in my own game. Now I must pay up. What can I do for you, young Aspen?” The sphinx bowed her head in a sign of peace.

“Well, we are very hungry. I am in no shape to hunt, and Mungo is tired and hurt more than he shows. If you could possibly get us some meat, it would be an even pay off.” Aspen had almost died once this day and did not feel much like hunting. She remembered how angry the sphinx had been moments earlier and thought to add, “But only if you find me again sometime and give me another chance.”

Delia seemed all too pleased by the last response, and nodded. “So be it, and I look forward to meeting you again.” With that, the sphinx was off on the hunt. Not long before sunset, a deer was dropped on the ground right outside of the camp of Mungo and Aspen. Delia paid her debts, no one could argue that.