Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Marion walked out of the tavern. It wasn’t often he saw elves wandering around alone. Usually he saw them in their convoys, mostly en route to the Imperial City to talk with the High King. He looked up at the sky. He was late meeting Isabella. He hurried out of town and back down the Road towards the clearing. He didn’t see any more goblins, which was a good sign. He had heard that goblins traveled with the accursed bullmen. Marion shivered at the thought of them. Evil beasts they were. Half man, half bull, savage monsters that lived only to kill. But he never saw any or heard of any in this region, at least not while he’d been alive. They usually stayed in the far north, near the Darklands. Those couple of goblins were probably just lost or something.
He veered off the path and took the trail leading into the woods. Hopefully she was still there waiting for him. Marion knew she’d be upset, but at least he would get to see her. He walked briskly for a few more minutes, ducking branches and swatting away the brush. He came into the clearing but didn’t see anything. But it was quiet. Actually, there wasn’t any noise at all. Feeling a sudden sense of danger, Marion backed away towards the trail, but bumped into something. He felt the hot breath on his neck and dropped to his knees just as a bullman swung with a club that would have taken off his head.
Thinking quickly, Marion grabbed for his small dagger and plunged it into the beast’s thigh. It let out a roar, and Marion took that chance to run back towards the Road. He heard the beast grunt in pain and felt a whiz past his ear and a thump as his own dagger was hurled after him, sticking in a tree. He continued to move quickly down the trail and could hear what sounded like multiple bullmen chasing him down. Marion drew his bow and looked back over his shoulder. He could see three of them, gaining on him. He pulled an arrow from his quiver, and spun around. Nocking the arrow, he let it fly towards the closest bullman, striking it in the chest. It roared in pain and tripped over a tree root, falling forward. The other bullmen trampled over him and continued their pursuit. Marion sprinted down the trail. He knew every branch and root, and glided nimbly through the obstacles.As he approached the Road, he heard a horse trotting up the Road. Isabella, he thought. He pushed himself even faster, and burst through the brush onto the Road, right upon the horse and its rider. Looking up Marion saw not Isabella but Conrad, who had a wicked smile on his face which immediately turned to a frown upon seeing him. “Still alive, I see. We can remedy that,” Conrad said, pulling something from within his ornate tunic. Marion didn’t wait around to see what it was, sprinting back into the brush towards Bethel. He heard Conrad yelling in some guttural tongue and heard the sounds of more bullmen. “You won’t get away! I’ll have the legions of bullmen after you and you alone!” Conrad shouted. They seemed to be coming from all sides now. A lot of questions started to pop up in Marion’s head, but he pushed them aside. Survival was first. He could think about the rest later.
Falden sat down on his wooden stool, and stroked his long beard. The young dwarven children were around playing and a cozy fire burned, keeping them warm on this cold winter night. It had been a long time since he told this story. But dwarves were master storytellers. Once they learned a good tale, they never forgot it or any of its details. When Falden was young, many centuries ago, his father, Grim, had told him a tale of such magnificence, such heroism, that it became a legend. But all stories of heroism and legendary achievement fade with time and Falden did not know anyone else who remembered this tale. But these children here would hear it. Perhaps one would want to learn it and pass it on to the next generation. “Gather around, lads and lassies. Yer Uncle Falden is goin’ to tell ye a tale of heroes. Heroes whose deeds are the reason I can be here today tellin’ ye about them,” Falden said, motioning for the children to sit down.
“Does this story have dragons in it, uncle?” one little dwarf child asked.
“Aye, laddie. This one has a dragon or two in it. But they aren’t the heroes. The heroes in this story were an unlikely bunch, at least that’s what it looked like at the start….”