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| | BITNET Fantasy-Science Fiction Fanzine
___|___________|___ X-Edited by 'Orny' Liscomb
Spirit of the Wood: 2 Rich Jervis
The Glory of Adventuring Ovis
Respect thy Elders: 1 Orny
Ceda the Executioner: 1 Joel Slatis
Date: 080486 Dist: 159
Well, I told you that 5-2 would be right on the heels of 5-1!
Had it not been for the fact that our 3705 burned in flames, this
file might have actually made it on time! As for 5-3, Jeanne Dixon
has said that it will be out the second weekend in August, so watch
your reader queues!
Actually, to tell you the truth, we've managed to lure three
unknowing and unsuspecting amateur authors into the Dargon Project,
and they're cooking up stories faster than I can print them! 5-3 is
actually all set to go out, save that I have to finidh writing *my*
story for that issue! And it promises to be an excellent issue, with
stories from myself and each of the three new authors. But I'll let
you wait for that.
This issue contains the beginnings of two serials, one a Dargon
story (my own, in three parts), the other an unrelated piece by Joel
Slatis, one of the three new authors. Stuffed in around the edges
are a short story by Ovis, another new author, and part two of Rich
Jervis' "Spirit of the Wood". Two other points and then on to the
issue. Firstly, due to extremely poor timing, the day I sent out
FSFNET 5-1, the userid of one of the contributors changed. If you
are interested in contacting the person who was advertising the
national gaming organization, the userid is now C4898002@UMSLVMA,
rather than S4898002. Or was it the other way round? Finally, I'd
like to welcome the new members, and remind everyone once more to
keep spreading the word about FSFnet. It is, as I've been saying all
along, your zine, not mine. Enjoy!
Spirit of the Wood: Chapter Two
Loric had no chance to reply to Oldsir's query because their
dialog was interrupted a the high whistling call from below them.
Oldsir looked down and said to himself "So soon..." "Loric the call
has been given. You must go below and stand on the ground with your
friends. I wish you luck."
Loric looked at his grandfather and then closed the distance
between them. He hugged the old man fiercely and said "If it means
your time of death has come closer, I won't go! "
"Here now, is that the voice of a Tolorion I hear? Are you so
strong that you can wrestle with time itself? My time has come, but
so has yours But do not let the fate of an old man deter you from
doing your best! I will be watching you as all of your tribe will,
to see that honor is maintained and that the Spirit of the Wood is
not broken. Now go, son of my son. And may the dew never settle on
your brow!" With that blessing Oldsir turned and leaped off the
porch of his house and deftly caught a vine some yards below. Before
Loric could call out to him he was lost from sight.
"Thank you Oldsir," He said softly, "Goodbye,Grandfather." He
barely heard the second sounding of the call and threw himself off
the platform with a vengeance. He went downward recklessly, allowing
the bare minimum margin for safety. He hit the ground hard and
lightly bruised, but in one piece. Without a glance at the gathered
downlander's he strode to the center of the circle where they had
gathered and stood with head held high and body erect. Determined
that his Grandfather's last wish would be granted.
Loric tried to stay aloof from the others, hoping to keep his
anger fired, but the excited conversation around him kept intruding
on his thoughts.
"Going for it again, eh Hiram? Maybe you'll get to the top of
the Home-tree this time."
"Go jump Jakul,I made the Tree-climbing test, it was the
Net-walking that did me in last time."
"You were lucky then, if you'd made that they would have thrown
you into the Pit. My brother Yione was there for three days before
they dragged him out. He still won't talk about that one but I think
they used snakes on him, he never did like them."
"Snakes I don't mind, but there's worse. They say there's always
one test you can't pass. And then there's always the Shreaving. Hey
there's Loric. Loric! What's in the pit eh? Snakes or spiders or
just a few wild dogs to gnaw your bones! Hah-hah!"
Loric looked at his friends and smiled thinly. "Whatever it is,
it couldn't be as mean as you two! I still remember the time you two
put that bee-comb in my sister's bed and the ant's all but carried
her off! I couldn't catch you then, but maybe after today, you'll
not be so fast?
I think a tree-crab could walk away with what's left of you
after the test and no one would notice."
"Jakul we made a mistake even speaking to this one, he's
obviously the first test; to see how long we'll stand here before
stringing him up by his toes!"
Hiram made a feint towards Loric which he dodged and then
grabbed His friends arm and pressed his thumb into the wrist. The
scene was on the verge of becoming a tussle when the third sounding
of the Call was made and the late arrivals noisily joined the trio
in the council circle. Under his breath Hiram asked, "What's up your
tree Loric, you used to take that guff and pass it out fresh?" Loric
looked side-ways at his friend. "Sorry, Hiram. It's just that my
grandfather has had his second vision."
Hiram stepped back and then asked "Did he tell you what it was?"
"No, only that his time had come...and mine too! Shhh! Dernhelm
is looking at you--turn around!" Loric spun his friend around to
face his uncle. He waited for the silence to spread to all present,
even the young children were silent. Somehow feeling the intensity
of the moment.
"Know you children of the Village in the Trees, what is the
benefit of the Arborskill?"
Loric and the others replied as one; "Yes, my chief. my eyes and
the eyes of my tribe, my hands and the hands of my tribe, my heart
and the heart, ears, and tongue of my tribe will become keener, and I
will know the joy of life from the Spirit of the Wood. I will
adapt,and my tribe will live.
I will take the offerings of the Wood, and make new and better
things things for the living. The Arborskill honors and protects,
and the seasons change."
"What do you need to achieve the Arborskill?"
"My Kesh-blade, my chief."
"My wits , my chief."
"This is all?"
"And my song , My chief,and my hands."
"Do you have these four things?"
"I have them, my chief, My wits are as keen as my blase and my
hands are as strong as my song. My song is strong, my chief!"
"Then show your tribe what you know. What is the first craft of
"The first craft of the Arborskill is the Lashing."
At this loric looked about him. In the circle were poles he was
to use as a rope walk, but there was no grass gathered to plait into
Realizing that the cane fields were a long-run away and the reed
marshes even further than that, several of the boys waved to their
families and sprinted off into the woods. Loric started out
muttering under his breath. He has went only a short distance when
he stopped. This can't be right! he thought. It will take most of
the day just to gather the grass and return with it, and there's
more tests after this one!
Loric looked back at the circle of logs where the tribe sat
silently. There were more logs than usual around the fire pit,
leaving several unoccupied or with only one person to a log. The new
logs were still dark with bark and the scent came to Loric as he
walked back into the circle.
The acrid smell of Liamas trees greeted him. Of Course!
Adaption! Loric had been taught how to plait grass and vines but
there was a no reason he couldn't do the same with the fibrous bark
of the Liamas tree.
He ran across the clearing to where his sister sat with several
of the other young women.
"Loric I see no grass for you to weave, perhaps you intend to
weave the air into a rope?"
Loric was stung by his sister's words but caught the twinkle in
her eye that meant to Loric that he must be close to an answer.
Formally he stood before his sister and said:
"I ask that you give up your seat my sister, so that your brother
may become a man."
Silsia gave up a cheer. "Ai-ya! Ai-Ya! Little Loric would be a
man and make his sister stand!" She laughed and stood by her friends.
"Come sisters, we must move for near-man Loric who already knows
how to act like a man!"
Loric drew his knife from it's sheaf and started cutting the
bark from the log in long strips.
The Glory of Adventuring
"So this is how it will all end," thought Glanaril as he sank
slowly to a sitting position against the cold, black cave wall. "We
were all so tough, so grown up and ready to make names for
ourselves, so wrong..."
Glanaril knew he didn't have long, the hideous beast's claws
were so covered with filth that the poison on them could kill an
ogre. Unfortunately he had taken more than a scrape in the fight
with it. It had come upon them only minutes ago, a time when they
had been the most famous adventurers in the world (or would be soon,
after they managed to kill Lothgar the Black and rescue all those
lonely, misguided gold rilks). The horrible guardian beast had not
sneaked up on them, no, it had come straight at them, slowly,
allowing them plenty of time to ready spells and form an attack
plan. They had smelled it coming long before they met it. Oh, but
once they met it )) it became a living death machine. Granted the
beast was very large, but one beast against a party of well equipped
adventurers, ha ha )) no problem. Glanaril smiled grimly as he
remembered his thoughts as he handled his trusty spear.
It wouldn't be long now, the pain was growing, working its way
up from the horrible gash he has received in his side. His armor was
like butter before the thing's claws.
Glanaril glanced about him at the remains of his party. Katrina,
a pretty spellcaster, lay in a heap against the far wall. She had
been concentrating on a spell and had not avoided the beast's
backswipe with its great foreleg and she'd been tossed against the
jagged stone wall as easily as a man swats a fly. Carly, a hobbit
thief, was now unrecognizable as such. He had tried to maneuver to a
position behind the thing so that he might hamstring it. Just as
he'd raised his dagger to do so, the beast had taken a step back and
placed its great hind leg right on top of him. So much for crippling
it. Harth died trying to help Katrina. He had seen Katrina go down
and rushed to help her, thinking that the three fighters could keep
the beast at bay while he cast a spell of healing. He was wrong.
Harth turned his back on the beast and bent over Katrina to begin
his work and so did not see the great claw coming which ripped down
his back and pulled him back into the jaws of its owner. The other
two fighters, Jaron and Jakon, were thrown into one another with
force enough to kill them both, the reason they were unable to keep
And Glanaril had seen them all die as he stood there, too
stunned to believe that all his friends had died in less than two
minutes. Then the thing had turned to him and lunged directly
towards him. Glanaril set his spear against the wall to protect him.
But he had missed. The spear had scored a hit in the right shoulder
of the creature, not enough to cause it to blink. It came on,
pushing the spear into its shoulder, and took a swipe at him. It did
not miss. He was already against the wall and had no place to go, he
took the full force of the claw and went sprawling sideways, knowing
that this was it. He awoke shortly thereafter. Looking around told
him that the beast had gone. His spear lay in the middle of the
cave, broken in two.
"So much for fame and glory," he thought, "our whole party
killed by a common black bear, and not even close to Lothgar's
stronghold, not even close..." And the darkness closed in.
Respect thy Elders: Chapter One
Kite bounded up the granite stairs to the portals of Winthrop
Keep. Winthrop was a small holding, perhaps a dozen leagues
southwest of Dargon. Recently, Kite, an aspiring young lord of the
house of Talador, a wealthy duchy south of Winthrop, was engaged to
Pecora, the only child of the ruler of Winthrop. But this sunny
morning, Kite had received a message from Mistress Izetta, Pecora's
woman-in-waiting and nursemaid of many years, asking him to come at
once to Winthrop Keep. It seemed that Pecora had fallen ill, but the
note had revealed little more.
Kite walked quickly through the halls he knew so well. He had
often visited Pecora during their courtship, and had cherished each
moment within these walls. Yet he strode to Pecora's room quickly,
and without any emotion more evident than concern. At last he came
to the door to her chambers, and rapped anxiously. After a moment,
an older woman quietly opened the door and bade Kite enter.
He entered into a spacious and well-decorated lounge area. He
hardly noticed as the woman guided him to a seat. "What is wrong,
"Pecora is ill. Last night she went weak and pale as a ghost.
She is not well, milord. Come speak to her." With that, she led him
to the bedchamber, where Pecora lay. She did not see Kite until he
had knelt beside her. She tried to speak, but could not, but Kite
could see her words in her questioning eyes.
"I am here, love. It will be all right. I promise." He kissed
her forehead, and she closed her eyes. He stood, and the two
silently returned to the entry.
After a few moments, Izetta spoke. "Milord, I have done what I
can for her, but I have seen this disease before, many years ago,
when we lived in the south. It was my mother." Kite knew by the
servant's downcast eyes that her mother had not survived.
"Is there anything you can do?" he asked, futilely, seeing the
weariness in her eyes.
"I have done all I can. Yet there may be something you can do,
if you have a strong heart. I remember when my mother was dying, my
father saying that an Elder would possess the knowledge to help her.
He sent friends to seek an Elder named Isentraum, but none believed
him, and he would not leave my mother. Do you know of the Elders?"
"I have heard the tales, but I thought the Elders were all dead.
The legends say they lived hundreds of years ago!"
The woman smiled. "And so they did, and still do, for the Elders
know far more than any nursemaids or even great lords. If you can
find an Elder, he will know how to save Pecora, for I know not."
"Yet where shall I look? The Elders all are said to have lived
far from other people, or in secret places."
"If you ride southwest, you will pass many villages, and after
several days come upon a great lake. This is where my father sent
men to search for the Elder Isentraum. Look there, and godspeed."
After a moment of hesitation, Kite stood. The anxiety he had
fought to contain finally had an outlet, and there was hope that
Pecora would be healed. He would search for the Elder.
Kite wrapped his cloak tightly around him, but the rain soaked
through, chilling him as his horse slowly plodded up the slope of
the valley where Winthrop was nestled. To keep his cheer up, he talked
to Dagley, his horse.
"Well, Dag, this is it. The quest has begun. But it isn't much
of a quest, eh? Here we are, trudging out of town in the rain. This
isn't one of those quests the minstrels will sing about, that's a
certainty; the hero, plodding along on his soggy mount, watches his
sword rust in the scabbard because all the monsters are inside where
it is dry and won't come out to fight!" The horse turned his head,
looking at Kite, who tried to fathom what the horse might say if he
Eventually they reached the ridge above the valley, and Kite
turned to view the town below. After a few silent moments he turned
the horse and headed off towards the west, silent and contemplative.
Ceda the Executioner: Chapter One
A tall lonely figure dressed in black strode confidently through
the Desert of the Hidden Army (or Grobsts D'arbos Desert as some
prefer to call it.)
It had been called that ever since the High King of Grandydyr
rode through leading a vast army to battle some 10,000 years earlier.
Grobst D'arbo was high king of the biggest country of his time.
He controlled a massive army of strong men who were all battle
trained, well equipped and fearless. They were crossing the waste in
the area that Ceda now rode when, as the tale goes, one of the
routine scouts rode up ahead of the troops as usual, to survey the
surrounding area for scouts of the opposing forces.
That night, after a thorough search of the area, the scout
returned and to his horror found the entire army of 500,000 men dead
and the king lying at the head of the troops, still alive. The scout
jumped from his horse and ran to the fallen king who told him a
message. The message, however, has long since been forgotten (for
about 1000 years) but it is said that the message is of grave
importance to the entire world in the years to come.
The kings head fell back into the hands of the shocked scout who
lay the king down gently on the ground. Then the scout stood up to
look upon his fallen majesty who, by some unknown force, now lay
dead at his feet. Then a peculiar thing happened: the kings body
seemed to melt and change. The horrified scout watched as the body
of the king altered into that of a tree. The scout could hardly
believe what had happened and he stood gazing upon the tree until he
fainted from the sun.
Some time after that, the opposing army drew near and the scout
was found lying in the shade of the tree. The army of Grandydyr was
no where to be seen and they were never heard from again. The scout
, before his execution at the hands of his captors, told them what
had taken place, then he died by decapitation, but the story lived
on. And to this day, people who wish to travel are warned of the
Desert of the Hidden Army, for it is foretold that one day, a
certain weary traveler will find it.
This, however, was just a child's fairy tale and thought to be
mendacious, for almost none of the numerous people that cross though
the gigantic wasteland ever come across the tree of Grobst D'arbo
and no one really ever believed the story that they told... if they
lived to tell it.
It was this tree that Ceda was now approaching and he looked at
the surrounding desert for any possible source of water, but as far
as the eye could see, and even beyond that, there was nothing but
the golden sand upon which he now strode.
The area around the tree was littered with dead bodies. Most of
them were now nothing more than bleached bones, but one or two were
still clad, dead only for about 3 months, all from deep wounds. Ceda
looked at them in disgust but then forgot about them as he
contemplated the tree, having previously thought that it was but a
tale of children.
The story echoed in his head for sometime as he made his way
through the sand. The only thing besides him and his wingless dragon
mount, Melgon, was the single tree; not even insects lived in the
Desert of the Hidden Army and only seldomly did birds venture in to
feast on a dead animal.
The tree itself was not particularly tall and didn't look very
healthy for that matter. It was about the height of Ceda and only
some of the leaves that now grew on it were green. The roots stuck
out of the ground in an odd fashion and seemed to be warped in some
peculiar way that Ceda did not notice.
He stopped to look at it as they passed and Melgon swung his
head around to see why they had stopped. Unable to look at the tree
because of the heavy armor that reached from the dragons head to the
base of it tail, it shifted its body around and slowly glanced up at
the phenomenon. Ceda, amused by this sorcerers work, knowing a
little sorcery himself, he advanced on the tree until the reins of
his mount pulled tightly at his hand.
"Come on, Melgon, this thing won't harm you, fear not." He
tugged again at the reins, but this time harder and in turn, the
dragon strengthened his foothold. Obvious that the dragon would go
no further in the direction of the tree, he dropped the reins and
continued towards it alone.
Even as he approached, the tree sensed that Ceda had no good
intentions and began to shake as if it was warning him to come no
closer. It was almost as if a wind were blowing the tree but Ceda
could feel nothing of this wind and neither could his wingless
dragon mount, Melgon. The closer that Ceda drew, the stronger the
wind blew. Melgon began to back away as the wind grew even stronger.
"Stay, Melgon," came Ceda's voice fiercely as he turned at the
dragon. The only answer that he received was a low growl as the
He reached the tree and the wind grew greater, and all of a
sudden, the gusts focussed of Ceda pushing him back by surprise. His
long black hair flew back to reveal a handsome face with piercing
black eyes, a short, straight nose, tight thin lips and a firm chin.
The gusts of wind knocked Ceda off balance and he was momentarily
pushed back before he again struggled to get to the tree. Finally
after five long hard steps, he had reached it again and he lifted
his hand to touch one of it's leaves, his long black cape waving
wildly under the force of the wind. The wind grew stronger as he
grasp a leaf of the growth. Then he pulled at it with all his might
and it came off into his hand. Then the wind stopped. Ceda threw
himself against the trunk of the tree. Then a noise which startled
Ceda for a moment swam through the hot desert air but he relaxed as
he recognized the low pitched moaning as a dragon laugh.
He glanced menacingly at Melgon who was still laughing and a
smile crossed his lips. He picked himself up and walked back to his
"There, you see? It's nothing more than a little magic, that is
all. Methinks the old kings' wizardry must be weakening over the
years... or perhaps the old king was not as strong as I had
expected." He opened his hand and examined the leaf.
It seemed to crumble in his hand and turned to dust. A worried
expression crossed Ceda's face as the wind started again and blew
the dust up into his eyes momentarily blinding him.
Then, simultaneously, four figures appeared around the warrior
as if they had come from the very sand itself. Their swords drawn,
their expressions covered by the shadows of the hoods which hung
loosely about their heads. Only two gleaming balls of fire were
visible beneath the hoods. They wore robes down to their feet and
wore gauntlets to shield their hands.
"Who are you to question the power of Grobst D'arbo, High king
of Grandydyr?" the voice came from within Ceda's head.
Ceda's hand raced for the hilt of his sword, the wind still
blowing at him from all directions. He raised it to strike at the
nearest of the advancing force and swung. The wind changed course
and blew the sword harmlessly down missing his opponent.
The attacker swung at Ceda's head and seeing the on coming
strike, the warrior raised his sword to parry and again the wind
changed course. The blade was almost blown out of his grasp, but he
held on with all his strength to defend against the assault.
Ceda, seeing that the fight would lead to nothing but certain
death, jumped to his mount and fought against the wind to ride out
beyond the reach of the kings sorcerous winds and warriors.
They had gone fifty dragons lengths when the wind ceased and
they could ride unhampered. After a short period Ceda looked back to
see if the tree was still in sight and if the four demons had yet
returned to the underworld. The worried expression returned to his
face as he saw the four riding devil spawn steeds with crimson
colored fire coming from their nostrils with every breath. The
horses were catching up to him and he cursed himself for tempting
the dead kings spirit.
Ceda bent down low on his mount and spurred it on faster
realizing the full extent of the danger. If he were killed by the
demons sent after him, his soul would be damned to serve the dead
king in a state of half death and half life for all eternity.
He reached down into the saddle where his spell book was and
pulled at it. It came out and almost as quickly fell from his hand
to the ground.
"Slow, Melgon. I must retrieve the book if we are to survive."
The dragon growled in disapproval as he slowed and turned to the
book, but Ceda was already upon it looking for the spell in which he
needed to escape his pursuers.
He marvelled at the tenacity of the oncoming demons as he
invoked the rune he had found that would aid him in escaping danger:
"When at a time that I may fall
Bring forth the winds, L'amron
To aid my call...
Naar akbles gah dee
Hegwray sde urngen tse dooh, L'amron
Faeer sforen cha haben..."
First in his language and then in the language of the Wind God.
Black smoke rose into the shallow desert air and seemed to clump
together as if something had sucked it all into a great hovering
mass. Ceda glanced back at the on coming attackers as the smoke
filled the sky. Then a large figure of black smoke loomed over him
with a face far darker than those that dwell in the most dreadful of
the caves of Arnmere.
"Why have you summoned me from my most restful sleep, mortal?"
The black smoke undulating as he talked.
"I have summoned you to aid me in my foray with these demons,
Lord," he replied as he cast another glance at the oncoming attackers.
"I am, as they are, under the rule of the Lord Ileiruon and
cannot aid thee without incurring his wrath upon myself as a result,
mortal. Fare thee well." The wind sent the smoke swirling in all
directions and at once the Wind Lord was gone.
Ceda drew his sword and stood waiting the few remaining seconds
for the demons as his mount retreated a safe distance to survey the
battle. As the riders approached, the steeds upon which they rode
began to waver and finally disappeared as they reached their quarry.
The demons dropped to the ground from where they had sat on their
hellborn mounts and at once set upon Ceda.
This time, their was no devil wind to hinder him as he fought
the attackers and with ease he defended himself. Ceda parried one of
the swings made by the attacker and disarmed him as a result. Then
with lightning quickness he lifted his sword up to unveil the face
of one of his opponents and in doing so revealed a fleshless being.
All that remained in place of a head was a skull with two crimson
balls of light for eyes.
All the clothes worn by the attackers at once withered to dust
as Ceda was left fighting the living dead. Four odd looking
skeletons were before him and were advancing on their prey, the
foremost wearing upon his bleached skull a richly designed crown
inlaid with rare Malthoogian gems. This one was at least twice the
size of the other three.
Ceda attacked the crowned figure and as he struck under the same
defenses of it's sword, the bones came apart and fell to the sand in
pieces. The warrior formed a wry smile and turned to face the three
remaining opponents. But, even as he turned, the fourth quickly,
magically reassembled itself and resumed the battle.
Ceda looked on in utter horror as his hosts reassembled itself
after every blow, realizing that if he didn't think of a way to
defeat his foe, it would defeat him.
Then the solution to beating the wizardry came to him. He turned
sharply avoiding the trust of one of the smaller demons and swung at
it before it regained its balance, Ceda hit it hard knocking it into
a pile of bones. Then with lightning speed, he grabbed at the odd
skull dropped it into his pouch. Then it's bones seemed to dry up
and wither into nothingness as Ceda fought on.
The other two fell easily to Ceda's blade and he deposited the
other two skulls into his pouch. Now all that was left was the
largest of the demons; The fire glowed in its eyes like two red stars.
"Now, you die!" It hissed and swung down at Ceda's head.
Ceda parried the thrust and swung under the skeletons sword. It
blocked and jabbed for Ceda's head and he had to jump back to avoid
being pierced through his neck. Then he lounged at the skeleton
tearing its bony arm off and its sword with it. Then the skeleton
was easily defeated by Ceda's blade. He swung so that the side of
the blade hit turning the massive demon to a pile of milk white
bone. As he reached to get the the crown, the demon had time to
reform and before he knew it, it was already on its feet and
advancing on him.
"The crown," it said, its eyes gleaming brightly. "Give it to me."
Ceda swung at the skeleton again and hit it, then hit the skull.
And the skeleton crumbled.
Then the voice returned to his mind and said: "Beware not to let
the skulls lose, for my demons will get you," and the voice laughed.
Then it was gone from his head.
Ceda remembered the warning and he looked into the pouch. The
eyes of the demons had lost their fire, as if they had died. Ceda
knew of the danger that would be released if they ever broke free
and decided to keep them in case he found use for them.
Then he turned his attention to the crown. It would be worth a
lot of gold in any of a dozen cities . He rubbed it a little,
polishing it, and added it to his pouch on the saddle.
Then he had a long drink before he continued on his way thought
A dark figure approached the westward gate of the city of
Pheeng'Am. He did not ride the strange wingless dragon mount that
walked next to him. He looked odd as he approached the gate, for
dragons were very rare and those that were wingless were legendary
When they arrived at the gate, one of the city guards, a Giant
from Weuyrt, the land of forests, (where the caves of Arnmere lie:
the home of the feared orcs and hobgoblins) approached them.
"What business have you in the city of Pheeng'Am?" his burly
voice made all in the area turn to give ear to the conversation.
"I am Ceda of No-Al Ben (a small country north of Grobst's
desert from which Ceda had come,)" he said proudly before
continuing. "I wish to enter the city for I have traveled the desert
and am in need of food and shelter before I can continue on. Can you
perhaps tell me where the nearest inn is?" Ceda tried to look
innocent, he knew that the guards seldom admit those who look like
they were there for foul purposes, as was the nature of Ceda.
"What is your purpose for traveling this land?" he persisted.
"I seek am as a hired sword where I might find work." The talk
was beginning to annoy him, but he knew that there was nothing that
he could do if he wanted to enter the city unharmed.
"You?!? A hired sword? What's the world coming to?" The giant
mocked him, but he knew the giant was testing his ability to
withhold his temper, so he ignored this. The other guards laughed.
"Be the world as it may, I wish to enter the city." Ceda
re-stated this with a slight tone of anger in it.
The giant thought about this for a minute and then said: "Very
well now, you may pass, but be weary of the laws of the city lest I
have to find and slay you myself. Go now."
Relieved, Ceda continued past the giant and into the city.
Pheeng'Am was one of the biggest cities in the land of Ruirse
which bordered the Desert of Grobst. Its large populace was due
largely to the fact that it bordered the desert. All people
traveling through usually went there before continuing on there way.
The Desert separated the two largest countries from one another and
south of that were the Sarshirian mountains which was virtually
impossible to get through safely because they were inhabited by
evilly aligned creatures.
Ceda, now in the city, headed for the nearest tavern to get a
drink. He disliked talking with people which is what he would have
to do in the tavern, but he had to meet someone there.
Once in the tavern, Ceda got himself a skin of Ruirsian wine and
sat down at one of the empty tables in the back so that his face
fell into the shadow of the walls.
Many people were in the tavern, some drunk, some just walking
about but Ceda looked for just one of them: an elf by the name of
Rincraw that was to pay him for the service of assassinating Berk,
the mighty king of the people of Caffthorn.
Then he saw him sitting at the bar with a wooden cup of wine in
his hand talking to another elf. Ceda got up, walked over to him and
tapped him lightly on the shoulder. The elf turned quickly and his
hand flew to his sword, but he relaxed when he saw who it was.
"Greetings, Ceda, we have been expecting you, and a job well
done to you! I believe we owe you this," he handed the warrior a
sack full of gold coins and offered Ceda a drink of his wine.
"No thanks," he took the sack and made his way to the door.
Feeling the crown in his pouch as he added the sack of gold, he
thought a minute about how to get the most money for it and returned
to the elf.
"Have you ever seen Grobst's tree while in the desert?" he asked
the elf slowly thinking about what he was going to say to him.
"No, but I've heard rumors, I don't even know if it still lives
or even stands for that matter. Why, have you news of it?"
"I have. I also thought of it as but a tale until 4 days ago
when I accidentally came upon it. All around it was littered with
men's bones and mayhap a fresh body or two that the birds have not
gotten to yet. The strange thing was that it blew at me with the
force of the strongest of winds when I approached. Then I was set
upon by minions of hell and the leader wore this:" he withdrew the
crown which reflected the light of the candles with an eery red
glow. "I had to slay them to live but they fought with the technique
of that found only in the king of Grandydyr's greatest ancient heros".
The elf looked at his companion who was also confused. "And you
say that the leader bore this crown?" he looked at the it. "We shall
give word of this to our king and I shall inform you of his
bidding." He glanced at his companion, Quendell. "We ride for the
port of Dhernis tomorrow, and then on to the Learis Islands. In the
meanwhile, make merry and enjoy the wine." He laughed and took a sip.
Ceda finished his wine and left the tavern. He felt good from
the wine and decided that he would walk around for a while before
going back to the tavern to rent a room, so he untied his dragon
mount and with him, set off through the city.
While passing through one of the many alleys of the city, four
large men approached Ceda, who was, at this time, quite intoxicated.
The larger of the men coming foreword.
"Give us your gold and we won't kill you," his voice was cold.
He withdrew a large knife from his side and showed Ceda the blade.
Ceda knew he could do nothing in his drunken state and turned to
his dragon mount who was now ready to attack. "Down," he whispered
into the dragons ear. "I have a much better way."
"Hurry or I'll kill you and find it myself," warned the man.
"Here it is," Ceda replied pulling out of his pouch the largest
of the strange looking skulls and dropping it to the ground.
The skull at once grew to it's full size and looked at Ceda.
"Give me the crown!" It hissed.
"They have it," Ceda pointed at the advancing men as the
skeleton turned to face them, its fiery eyes dimly lighting the alley.
As the demon advanced on its new target, Ceda led the dragon
away and resumed his walk through the city. "It won't find us now
unless it stops to ask for directions," Ceda laughed. The sound of
men screaming came from the passage where he had just been and he
As Ceda walked through the large area in the center of the city
square, he notice a small bench carved from rock put there for
festivals that sometimes took place in the city on the kings
birthday or on certain holidays. He decided to sit there for a while
and relax for he was tired and the effects of the wine were wearing
off. He put his hands down on his knees and in turn, his head down
on his hands and gradually fell into a mild slumber.
"Greetings, Ceda," was the voice that next roused him. He looked
up at the source to discover a tall woman with long blond hair tied
in the back. She wore common garb and had no weapon
"You know me?" he looked up questioningly at her, his head hurt
and his voice was weak.
"I know of you, I have wanted to meet you for a long time." She
sat with him now and he could smell the perfume which she wore. It
smelled good and he took a long breath. "Mayhap we could go
someplace more private than this. She looked at him and smiled
displaying a number of black and green rotting teeth.
"So be it." He stood up, the pain in his head was beginning to
fade now as they made their way back to the tavern and got
themselves a room.
They were now in the room and she looked at him for a moment
without saying anything, then she started to undress. Ceda now
understood what she had meant and also took off his clothes.
They both looked at one another. She had a magnificently built
body with perfect legs and large breasts. She took the binding off
her hair and it rolled down to meet her shoulders. She was beautiful.
Ceda moved closer to her. He could feel her hot breath against
his chest and he grabbed her and set her gently on the bed on her
back. His hand now gently caressed her large breasts and she gave a
soft moan of approval. Then he reached over and blew out the candle
at the side of the bed.
The next morning the sun came in through the cracks in the stone
wall and woke Ceda. He looked around but the woman was not in the
room. He got dressed and went down stairs to the tavern where the
bar keeper was polishing the crystal cups that he used for the
nobility of the city.
"Greetings, sir," he said with a jolly look on his face.
"Greetings to you to," Ceda replied. "Have you seen the woman
that I came in with last night?"
"Can't say that I have, but if I see her, I'll let you know."
The bar keeper smiled.
"Thanks," he said as he left the bar for his room.
Ceda entered his room and gathered his things into a pile. He
opened his pouch and noticed that the crown was not there. He looked
on the cold stone floor to make sure he had not lost it and then got
all his things and left the inn. He walked around The city asking
people if they had seen her and he cursed himself for not asking her
for here name.
No one in the city seemed to know where she had gone, but the
giants at the city gate knew who she was and they new her name also
(for a small bag of gold that Ceda had given them.)
The giants said that she had left for the city of Caahah and
that it had only been a few hours before. They also said that the
needed to hire swords, for there was a demon lose in the city that
was killing both man and beast shouting about a crown of some sort.
Ceda turned this job down.
He raced back to Melgon who stood ready for him. He put his
sword in its place on right of the saddle of the dragon mount and
then rode out of the city away from it and the desert in search of
the woman called Viamea and the valuable crown she had stolen.
On the side of the city that did not border the desert, the
wilderness was relaxing as Ceda the Warrior rode by. He planned to
catch Viamea before she reached the city lest he have to explain why
he was chasing her to the city guards. He was passing a stream now
and slowed his dragon mount to refill his skin pouch with water;
aside from this, his ride was uneventful.
The next day he had reached the city and still he saw no sign of
the woman. He decided to go into the city and look for her in any
case, reasoning that she may have had a faster horse than he thought.
When he got into the city, he went to a tavern, rented a room
and waited for nightfall.
That night Ceda went through all the taverns until at last he
saw her sitting in a corner talking with another man. Ceda made his
way through the people and grabbed her by the arm.
"Come, demonwoman, I want a word with you." His voice drowned
out by the other people in the bar so that only she and her
companion could hear.
"She's with me," the man across the table stood up to face Ceda.
He was tall but stood an inch under Ceda's height and not as bulky.
"Not any more," he pulled at her harder this time wrenching her
from her seat.
"No!" she yelled and a few people turned to stare. The man now
reached for his sword and swung at Ceda grazing his left forearm.
Ceda threw her at the floor and grabbed at his sword to parry the
next attack by the man. Then he jabbed. The sword slid in between
two of the mans ribs and he lumped to the floor. By this time there
was a crowd in the tavern watching and Ceda wiped his sword on the
mans garments and replaced at his side. Then he faced the woman who
now sat crying against a wall. He grabbed her hair and dragged her
outside and back to the room he had previously rented.
"Now, where is the crown that you took from my pouch! I want
it." He looked into her face and saw that she was now crying even
more than before.
"I don't know where it is now, I was paid to take it by two
elves. Please don't kill me, I didn't know it meant that much to
you," she put her head into her hands and cried again.
"Where are they now?" he asked. She did not answer so he grabbed
her hair and pulled it up until he could see her face. "Where are
they now?" he said again.
"They rode out of the city gate to the North East towards the
Port of Dhernis. Please don't kill me." she replaced her hands over
Ceda got up and closed the door putting the bar in place. he
walked back to the woman and took her by the hair. She looked up
into his eyes and he smiled at her.
"Are you sure?" His voice was now calm.
"Good," he smiled.
Two hours later, a tall man dressed in black opened the door to
his room in one of the more popular inns and departed for the port
of Dhernis. In the room in several pieces lay the body of a woman.