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After the dawn

It came as a whispering in the air at first, the cold air blew towards the forest, the spider queen ordered her slaves to work through the pain and mend the hollow. They felt it then, that cold air filled with grief and anger the queen hide with in the funnel web as day by day the frost took hold of her webbed kingdom and slowly her children came to her feet crying for shelter.

The dragonborn watched Nadora sharpening her knives, it had only been a few hours since she last screamed at him after he had asked if there was anything he could do to help her feel better and dared not to ask again but he would not leave her. In the hours that passed an anger began to take over him, he meditated but he couldn’t switch off, like an internal fire it burned seething to the surface and slowly he lost control. It was subtle at first the air around him grew colder as he fell deeper into a trance the cold air spread causing Nadora to look around, she got up worry crossing her face she walked over, Targa felt her presence and a smile raised in the corner of his mouth but he did not open his eyes. Nadora sat beside him looking out towards the woods her heart broken, through the cold she reached up to her cheek finding a tear frozen there.

“they don’t deserve to live after what they did” she said

“and they won’t” Targa slowly got to his feet as a blue flame covered his arm “get inside”

“no, you can’t go alone”

“don’t worry and don’t argue with me get inside”

“Targa…” the dragonborn turned his once blue eyes now white as snow and filled with malice,

“no one must leave that house until my return” he said

“be careful” Nadora retreated to the house as she slowly closed the door she watched as Targa disappeared into the trees.

The darkness retreated from the soft blue glow from the dragonborn hands, the spiders had retreated deeper into the forest sensing the anger that had entered the forest. Targa reached out his hand touching the webbing causing it to freeze spreading rapidly. He had witnessed and admired may spiderwebs in a thick frost in the years of hunting, but those feelings were not here now. As the frost took a life of its own Targa continued walking inwards. Until in front of him stood a mighty wall of black, only it was moving, and thick hairs moved around, he had found the spider queens burrow.

“COWARDS, I should have known that you all would be hiding, and where is she”

The swarm burst forward and the spider queen came scuttling out of the burrow, venom dripping from her fangs and her face full of fury.  She ran straight at him, using her long front legs to knock him to the ground and there she held him.

“how dare you? May I remind you that you came here into my woods and that girl insulted me and now you come back to do the same”

“We came in peace you and your so-called children attacked us”

“my children are hungry, and that girl would betray you before the end so really I did you a favour”

“you don’t know that”

“it has been written since before you were born”

“what was written?”

“that before the king’s death there will be a mighty betrayal from one who knows the king so well”

“That could be anyone you had no right to do what you did”

“I had every right to kill her…”

Targa had pulled his blade and sent it plunging into the queen’s abdomen, she screamed in pain as the dragonborn spoke

“she isn’t dead” pushing his arm up and the blade deeper she was gone.

The horde of spiders had regrouped and were headed straight for Targa, as the rage began to build the blue flame streaked down his arm as he pleaded with them to stop, but it was unheard, and they advanced. Unable to contain the rage it burst from him in a bright white light causing him to blackout.

When Nadora and Lorcan opened the door again the woodland was gone and, in the distance, they could see Targa laying motionless in its wreckage, they called for the others and took off running.

Posted in #dnd, #fantasy, short stories

Webs and fates.

The world has changed, I smell it’s despair in the air, my feet sense its pain through the earth. For many years I have lived here cursed and forgotten but now my dear children something is coming.

The group had travelled for days and now found themselves on the mountain surrounded by trees, exhaustion taking over them. Targa took watch Nereida approached him slowly still not fully recovered.

“You should be resting”

“I can’t, not when it is my fault, we are all here and we have no idea what we are walking into” replied Nereida

“well we need help and from what I can tell this is how we get that, so don’t worry we are strong together than apart”

“Targa what if I have brought us to our deaths? I hear this stupid voice in my head all the time and he isn’t a good person”

“That is doubtful Nereida, but if it is then I hope that our story will be heard, and more people will fight the king now please rest.”

Targa sat for hours his eyes scanning the treeline for movement, his mind wandered to times when he would hunt the thrill of it the calm he felt there, then he thought of his father and the times he had spent in the woods and his heart ached at his loss. It was at this moment when grief threatened to consume him that the halfling Lorcan broke the silence startling the dragonborn.

“Geez it’s clammy in here”

“Lorcan what are you doing awake?”

“ah well I am rested surprisingly and not being in my little house has me on edge if I’m honest I’m not one for the wilderness laddie so why don’t you get some rest and let me take over I think we have a busy day ahead of us”

Targa bowed his head and joined the group for rest, Lorcan fanned himself sweat running from his brow and his breathing getting shallow.

“it really is hot in here, alright focus Lorcan, focus” he glanced at the group and his eyes lingered on Nereida he smiled.

“what would a girl like that see in a little guy like me, focus Lorcan focus you have a job to do”

The air changed a sweet smell filled the halflings nose and he grew sleepy, his eyelids were heavy and drooping, he slapped his face shaking off the sleep, but it was no use sleep took hold.

Targa awoke blood rushing to his head, he was unable to move, his eyes struggling to focus through a white haze. As his ears adjusted, he could hear the faint mumbles from his friends, his heart took a leap he had encountered this before.

“No one move, we are in trouble”

“No way Targa I would never have guessed” responded Aidene.

“when I get my hands on you Targa your going to have a problem.” Replied Ravana

“Actually guys, it’s my fault I made him go and rest. So, if you must punish anyone it’s me”

As the group began shouting at the halfling, Targa focused on each voice checking no one had been lost, then he focused he fully understood the dangers they were in. He drew upon his energy releasing cold air into the thick sticky tangle and using his great feet he kicked himself free falling to the ground, he rushed to free his friends. Galurak grabbed Lorcan by the collar and lifted him, Targa rushed over.

“now is not the time my friend” he said

“listen to Targa, he is wise” Lorcan said in a panic.

“You, you’re the reason we are in the whatever mess we are in”

“what is this stuff it is so sticky?” said Nadora

“it’s a web” replied Targa

“don’t be silly Targa spiders could do that” said Aidene

“erm Nereida I wouldn’t be so sure of that, look” replied Ravana

As they looked around, their eyes were greeted by a dark and looming woodland some of the trees were dying and a think white webbing covered every inch of the tops. The air was thick, and the sunlight was blocked by it.

“It is spiders, I’ve faced them before” said Targa

“well what should we do?” asked Galurak

“stick together and don’t touch anything it will only draw them to us”

“erm Targa” said Nadora pointing at Nereida

The half elf was now in the middle of a stream of black tar like water, which was winding and twisting over her skin holding her in place as she swayed against it. The group rushed to her aid but as they drew closer to her a wall of water sprang up surrounding her, Targa tried to freeze it and the half orc tried to attack it both were sent flying backwards. The group watched helplessly as Nereida was held within its grasp, then as suddenly as it had started, she awoke for the trance and walked from the water completely dry.

She looked at her friends a little embarrassed “I’m sorry I scared you all, water…. It lets me speak to him among other things”

“if we make it out of here you need to explain this” said Ravana

“the witch is near” continued the half elf.

“where, this place is one giant trap and we need to get out” replied Targa

“NO, we need to go in”

“in? you really are mad…. This is the home of giant spiders if we go in, we aren’t coming out”

“Targa, I know this is hard to believe but she lives in there at the heart of it all, we have come this far we must continue”

“I don’t like this…… and who is making that clicking noise it is annoying as hell” said Aidene

As she gazed around the group shrugged it off in protest and then they became aware of movement all around them, they drew their weapons readying for a fight as a strange screeched filled the air Nereida walked away from them.

“We mean no harm and we only wish to speak to the queen of these lands, the all mighty and powerful Ette”

A strange whisper responded “proceed but we are watching you”

The spiders kept hidden, but their shadows fell behind the group giving the impression that there was only one way they could go, they began walking saying close together with the clicking growing less as more spiders fell behind.

“we could go invisible and run for it” piped up Lorcan

“that’s an idea” agreed the twins

“we have come this far” said Galurak

“but….”

“if it is a fight then it shall be a good one”

“your orc kind always with the violence” replied Ravana with a smirk

“be on your guard all of you” instructed Targa.

Ravana in her gazing around stumbled over a stone causing her to lose her footing and landed on a web, it was tough and sticky she struggled to free herself. As she pulled herself free there was a thundering sound of feet scuttling across the ground in the darkness followed by hasty clicking and the movement stopped. As the dwarf and the rest of the party peered through the webbing, they caught sight of a glint of light lightly shining on several eyes, Ravana backed away slowly.

“this is a mistake we should go” she stammered

“we had no choice” replied Nereida

“there is always a choice” snapped Ravana

“the choice was this or death”

“Great we are probably going to die anyway”

“lets just keep going” stuttered Lorcan

The woods grew darker like they had always been that way and knew nothing of light, the web was thicker now and in the darkness the half elf could make out spiders above there heads now but they were only babies, the webbing extended in front of the friends and as they looked it they took in the complexity of it and fear grew of what lay within it funnel. Suddenly a female voice echoed from it

“who wanders so aimlessly into my kingdom, a group of self-proclaimed heroes I imagine… too bad that none of you will see the light of another day”

Targa drew his blade and the others followed, Nereida held her hands out

“great Ette queen of the spiders and the most powerful of your kind, please allow us council and guide us” she said

“oh, it begs to be spared and guidance”

“I do not beg your highness merely ask, after all we have the same goal in mind”

The web shook and again the sound of feet could be heard, the group could only stare at the web tunnel. The baby spiders disappeared higher out of sight, just as the tips of legs covered in dark spiky hairs emerged from the tunnel. Next came the body of the creature the hair thicker and as it emerged from the tunnel pulling itself up to reveal the body of a women, a menacing set of fangs sat just below the waist. Her arms were exaggerated by the long claws on the end of her fingers

“a mind reader, are you? Well let’s see what you can do”

In that moment Nereida dropped to her knees her hands clutching her head, her mouth open in silent scream. The group moved to help but the queen spoke quickly

“if you value your friend, I wouldn’t do that” she grinned

“let her go” said Galurak

“you know I’ve heard enough from you” she clicked her fingers and Galurak fell silent.

Lorcan had a thought through his panic, and he removed a mole skin from his pack and through the water from inside over Nereida causing the spider queen to laugh.

“how stupid can you be to think that would help” she shot a web at the halfling causing him to disappear into the trees.

Targa made the air cold in his building rage, and she turned her attention to him

“well what do we have here…. I haven’t…… what…. what is this?” she began to scream in pain her body curling up from it.

A blue aura of an octopus now surrounded Nereida and she was now floating her eyes pure white. Her friends just stared in shock as a male voice left her lips.

“listen to the girl Ette or you will….”

Nereida fell to the ground panting as the spell ended, Ette quickly recovered a confused look across her face.

“I am sorry that he has chosen you child….”

“well my fate is no different from yours, but I will not use the power against you I only come to ask for help if you will permit it”

“I will listen”

“we are here because of the king”

Anger grew in the queen as she sent vibrations through the webbing, Nereida spoke with purpose

“please we are not here to fight we are looking to destroy him is all”

“destroy him…. He deserves to suffer for what he did”

“and he will I promise or else I will give myself willingly to you to decide my fate”

The queen laughed “your fate is already decided little one and I will not cross the God of the deep. But I can help you”

“thank you”

“the key to his destruction can be found on an island to the East, a forgotten land where dragons once roamed. There you will find a temple and with training they can teach you all you need to know. Although the dragonborn already has the power if only he could harness it”

“that is your suggestion…. Go to an island” said Aidene

“child there are trials to be passed to prove you worthy first and you with your cheek I am unsure if you would be”

“HEY, I am”

The spider queen laughed, then pulling a stick from her hair allowing it to fall over her shoulders she held a vile which she held out for Nereida, the half elf took it looking at Ette confused.

“a vile of my venom, use it wisely a single drop is enough to kill a man”

Nereida bowed thanking the queen

“now you and the dragonborn are free to go, as for the rest of you”

“wait… what? no”

“my dear girl you two are pivotal to the cause, but I will not allow such insubordination to exit my woods.”

“I’m sorry” said Aidene

The spider queen smiled, at that moment spiders descended from the treetops white poison dripping from their fangs. They landed on the ground their hairy legs sweeping over it as they advance on the group, Aidene pulled her weapon and swung at the nearest one slicing through its fang. As she looked at her friends smiling in victory a great fang of the spider queen sunk into Aidene skin and foam escaped her mouth. Filled with rage Targa sprang forward the queen shrinking away from the cold he picked up Aidene and retreated to the group they were surrounded.

“HEY ugly, did you forget about me…. you need to learn some manners yourself.” Called Lorcan

The spider queen scowled at the halfling, and nodded at the spiders, they began to reel themselves like they were attached to a fishing line.

“LORCAN RUN” shouted Targa

“in a minute” the halfling danced around the branches waiting as the spiders got closer then just as their hairy legs began to tickle his feet he jumped down pulling the web with him, the spiders screamed in pain as the suns rays burst through the canopy hitting the queen who shrivelled up into a ball on the forest floor.

“what are we waiting for let’s get out of here” called the halfling and they began running the web still attached to his arm letting more light in with every step as the web was pulled away.

The group kept running until they reached the outskirts of the woods, Targa placed Aidene on the ground as her sister ran over cradling her lifeless body. Lorcan didn’t waste anytime and began to work speaking words with Nereida helping both worked together on the girl.

Posted in #dnd, #fantasy, short stories

Visions and plans

Lorcan sat in the moonlight tending to Nereida, he hummed a light tune as he did. The half elf lost her strength upon entering the house and passed out, since then the halfling had not left her side tending to her wounds and speaking words of healing but nothing had worked.

The rest of the group sat at the kitchen table a dispute had begun, the dragonborn Targa released cold air into the room making them stop arguing.

“I think that we can all agree that the king must be stopped, but the means of doing so are unclear” his voice was calm but commanding.

“well…. What would you suggest, my people live in the mountains and would be willing to help” said Galurak

“would they really…. your people are you sure of that?” said Nadora

“yes, they would”

“if I remember the stories half orcs are outcasts so really do you even have people?” asked Aidene

“HEY, what would you know huh Galurak has people and if he could just explain they would help” shouted Ravana

“enough… all of you, regardless of the aid we may receive marching to the castle and kicking down the door doesn’t seem the right course” said Targa

“we know how to sneak into the castle as we have told you before” said Nadora

“Ah, spies in the camp eh” said Ravana

“Please, we hate the king just as much as you lot” said Aidene

“ENOUGH”

“there is another way….” The weak voice of Nereida travelled around the room

“I tried to keep her in bed…. erm I mean stop her coming in here”

The twins sniggered at the halfling faltering over his words as he scowled at them.

Targa shook his great head standing and gesturing for her to have a seat “please explain”

“there is a witch of old who may have the answers we seek; she lives in the mountains to the North”

“witches…. That is what we have come to” said Ravana

“the king has magic we don’t know, so we need magic of equal measure” continued Nereida

“how do you know about this witch?” asked Galurak

“I…. I had a vision”

“a vision? When? How?” Ravana was concerned

“I can’t really explain it, but there is a power within me I never asked for and now I get these stupid visions”

“then how do we know we can trust you, for all we know you are leading us to our deaths” said Aidene.

“then perhaps we should separate” replied Targa

“Targa, you can’t be serious” Nadora looked confused

“the girl is right we need an old magic and what is the harm in trying it”

“death… death is the harm”

“I do not fear death little one”

“hate to interrupt, but this little humble abode of mine disappears in a few hours and we need a plan and rest before then” interrupted Lorcan

“well can it travel to the North” asked Ravana, her words caused Nereida to smile

“come on now lass… it aint a magic carpet you know……. Although maybe…. nah”

“what?”

“well… I could maybe make us fly…. Or is it float?”

“Lorcan what do you mean”

“clouds, I could turn us to clouds and we could float there, Oooo Targa you would be a little snow cloud” the halfling grinned but dropped his gaze quickly “which is not important at all”

The dragon born smiled “well it would be something”

“well how long will that take?”

“a few hours for the spell to work if I start now and let’s say a day to float North… id say pack wisely when we get there, I will need my rest so no nice housey house”

Suddenly a great banging could be heard echoing from the front door, shaking the foundations.

“it would appear we have visitors”

Just then a spirit appeared in front of Lorcan “sire a large group at the door wishing to enter”

“show me please”

An image appeared in the spirits stomach, showing a group of six werewolves banging at the door.

“ah yes, unwelcome guests see to it that they leave will you”

The spirits eyes turned crimson and the light within it grew to a dark grey “as you wish my master” he let out a wail and disappeared, from the sounds in the hall he was not alone.

“now then to bed with you all”

“and we are not going to talk about what just happened?” asked Nadora

“we can but that will make this longer and by the time the house disappears I would like to be a cloud and float away you know just in case the puppies are still outside”

One by one the group left the halfling some muttering in disapproval of the plan to Targa, until only Nereida was left Lorcan was startled when he noticed her.

“hmm… well…erm hello”

Her face was a little sad “Lorcan, why do the twins make fun of you sometimes when you speak to me?”

“oh well… you see…. I’m a bard and to lose my words is kind of funny I suppose”

“does it happen often?”

“no… no its rather new for me, I could talk the legs off a donkey most days”

“then why?” Nereida stifled a laugh

“well it’s like this I ……. Erm well that is to say…. ah heck I like you” the halfling shuffled his feet daring not to look at her.

Nereida walked over kissing the halfling on the forehead “I like you to, now to work and if you don’t mind, I would like to sit with you”

The halflings face was pink and he could only nod, causing Nereida to giggle.

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Meetings and greetings

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Ravana, RAVANA….”

The dwarf lay on the cold damp floor, ringing filled her ears as through blurry eyes she looked for the source of the calling. The taste of iron filled her mouth and a wet trickle made its way down from her forehead, a shadow lingered over a body lying near water. Ravana called out the creature turning sharply and began lurking towards the dwarf, she pulled herself backwards towards the warmth of the fire shaking her head to try and clear it.

“Galurak…. A little help here”

“be there in a second I’m a bit busy doll”

“Nereida… help me…. Nereida??”

At the water’s edge the half elf Nereida stirred at the sound of her name as a voice filled her head,

“go to the water child…quickly I can save you”

She pulled herself too far and hard landing directly into the water, the ice cold seeping through her clothes, water rushing into her mouth filling her lungs and just as she was about to go unconscious her eyes flicked open her feet finding the bed and kicking off.

A groan of pain caused Ravana to take her eyes off her stalker to see Galurak laying on the floor still, as she tried to get up to crawl to him, she felt sharp claws dig into her ankle. With her free leg she kicked the creatures face causing it to yelp her sudden freedom caused her to throw herself to her feet and attempt to get to the half orc…. But the creature snarled lunging at her once more digging its claws into her ankle.

“let her go” Nereida stood her eyes white and her voice was different, commanding however the creature was not alone and a third one pounced on her causing them to roll away.

The creature tightened its grip on the ankle of Ravana, and she screamed in pain unable to free herself from it claws causing more damage. It pulled her closer, and for the first time Ravana was able to see the snarling grey matted fur, the sharp teeth shining behind the putrid smell of rotten meat as the creature’s saliva dripped from it chin. She swung her arm her fist connecting with its muzzle, it yelped but grabbed her arm pulling her in. The dwarf helpless closed her eyes tears running down her face, she cried out for help and tried to pull away but it was no use this was the end… the air grew colder, the creature paused its hot breathe now visible, it growled and digging its claws into the dwarves shoulder she closed her eyes…. The creature yelped and its grip loosened on Ravana, she pulled away looking at the creature held in place by a translucent shimmering hand.

“that ought to hold, ya daft mutt”

Ravana turned wincing in pain to see a halfling coming towards her, shock across her face as he stooped next to her

“are you alright lass?”

“who are you?”

“not the time… can you walk?”

Behind the halfling another creature growled, they both turned worried looks on their faces, as a freezing wind howled past and from the cold mist jumped a being covered in white scales swinging his sword into the creatures neck sending its head rolling down the hill, his great head swung round as he called over his shoulder…

“help the half elf …. I’ve got the orc”

A whistle of arrows flew past Ravana’s ears towards Nereida who was holding the creature and was causing slight damage, an arrow landed in the creatures shoulder it turned growling as a female jumped from the rocks driving a dagger into its shoulder. The creature howled in pain and hitting her off, Nereida joined the fight working together they delivered blow after blow.

The white dragonborn ran toward the half orc Galurak, the creature noticed him and ran calling for the others to retreat, with a flash of light the hand was broken, and the creatures ran back to bridge over the river.

“The river can make you strong, go to it” said the voice inside Nereida’s head.

The half elf staggered into the river, arrows once again sailing through the air towards the creatures as they began to cross the bridge. They faltered the water had risen shaking the bridge.

“not so fast beasts” Nereida raised her hand, as she did a wave rose and headed towards the bridge with speed. The shaking bridge had kept the creatures from crossing, as the wave neared the bridge a great form rose from the water in the shape of a bearded man. Its great hands slid under it breaking the stilts it was laid upon and lifted the bridge looking at the cowering creatures and with a smile he ate them, the form disappeared back into the river and it became still again. Nereida waded from the water, from her side Ravana heard the strangers voice.

“that’s my kind of woman…” as he watched Nereida in awe she fell to her knees seaweed spewing from her mouth, his face screwed up “well…. The stranger the better I say… now missy lets see if we can get you on your feet.”

“who are you?”

“LORCAN…. Are you alright?” cried the dragonborn

“I’m him lass Lorcan…. yeah Targa I’m just fantastic but the girl is pretty hurt”

“Nadora…. Aidene are you alright?” called the dragonborn towards two female figures now helping Nereida up.

“sure… just helping this one up” said Nadora

The dragonborn looked down at the half orc his great face warm “can you walk my friend”

“sure… well maybe”

“I’m Targa by the way” said the dragonborn holding out his giant clawed hand.

“Galurak” he replied wincing as he got to his feet…. “where did you come from?”

“all in good time, right now we need to find somewhere safe, three werewolves are a small number”

“werewolves? oh, gods will we become one?”

“easy I think you were merely lunch for them”

The two great figures slowly headed towards the dwarf and halfling who was tending to her wounds

“fine mess of an ankle you’ve got here, but nothing we can get fixed up for ya”

The halfling fixed his hair as he noticed Nereida headed towards them, he became frustrated with the top which has a few strands refusing to stay down, he blushed, and his words fumbled.

“alright…. She’s alright I mean…. Erm nice to meet you I’m Lorcan…. just helping that’s all amazing thing you did there…. erm you alright now?”

“oh, my Nadora have you ever seen such a thing?” said Aidene

“what’s that?” said Nadora

“a bard lost for words” replied Aidene

“oh, shut up you too or you can sleep here tonight”

“we are only teasing” they both responded

Galurak ran towards the dwarf, he too was covered in blood, but he embraced the dwarf “Ravana… I’m… I’m sorry I just couldn’t”

“now don’t you go worrying your think head about it” she replied.

“well that is just a weird sight aint it” said Lorcan

“you get used to it eventually” replied Nereida

The halfling jumped at her voice, his cheeks turning red with embarrassment as the dragonborn stepped forward.

“my name is Targa, this is Lorcan and those two are Nadora and Aidene… we don’t have much time but if you like we can offer you shelter…”

“hey big guy… I believe it is my house and only I can invite people” Lorcan’s eyes met Nereida’s “would you like to stay with me tonight….” He turned pink and panic set in as his words fumbled “erm all of you, I offer you a meal and shelter…. maybe some medical aid… oh shut up you two”

Nadora and Aidene were now giggling at the halfling.

It was Galurak who answered “I think it best at least for tonight and we thank you Lorcan…. My name is Galurak, this is my girlfriend Ravana and that is Nereida.

The half elf was spitting as she waved “hi… stupid saltwater”

Nadora looked confused…. “saltwater…. that is a freshwater stream though”

“hey, I never asked for this any of it”

“right let’s go shall we… you their big fella erm Galurak mind carrying your lady and let’s go” said Lorcan

Galurak was unable to lift the dwarf and so Targa did it closely followed by the half orc, the lumbered after the halfling to the edge of the woods just to where the bridge had been. Lorcan raised his hands “eldamo”

“isn’t that gnomish?” said Nereida

“It’s all I know I’m afraid” Lorcan smiled before disappearing through the doorway of light closely followed by Targa and the rest of the group.

Posted in #fantasy, short stories, Uncategorized

Ravana

“let the birds sing hmmm mmm hmmm, I have forgotten the words dilly dally? Hmm that’s not right”

Nereida was startled awake by a strange voice, she found herself in a room with stone walls on a bed of sheepskin and blankets.

“oh, for the love of…. will you tweet somewhere else you’re driving me insane”

In a panic she looked around for her belongings and her foot touched the cold stone floor she winced gasping in air. The stranger appeared in a doorway, she was half of Nereida’s height, her hair red and wild.

“ah, about time you were awake I was thinking we would have to feed you to the wolves…. Geez girl laugh I’m joking the healing light would punish me for that.”

Nereida blinked in the false light

“who…. Where…. What?”

“aahhhhh, I don’t have time for this girlie… Look you were wandering around the wilderness barely alive I might add, I followed you and found you collapsed and well it is my duty as a follower of the healing light that I help those in need.”

“the healing what?”

“light, geez try to keep up, anyway you are in the great dwarven city of Bogam welcome and all that and you can stay here for as long as you like again your welcome”

“dwarven city? Who are you?”

“oh well that was rude of me…. My name is Ravana”

“why haven’t you all been killed by Ryker he hates all beings that are different”

The dwarf grew quiet, “well that is not a story I wish to discuss at this time, but he is an evil man if that is what he is… you should get more rest”

Ravana bowed to leave causing Nereida to panic “please I fear I have rested enough, and I have an important mission”

“oh yeah the Dragonborn….”

“how did you know that?” Nereida suddenly grew suspicious of the stranger

“could you relax please… you talk a lot in your sleep, and I thought you a little mad, but I am assured that the man in the lake is in fact a deity”

“A deity? How can you be sure?”

“well the healing light never lies, and she is my deity of choice even though she came to me”

“came to you in what way?”

“you are inquisitive aren’t you, again missy it is not the time for such chat, but if you insist on being up and awake let’s get you some food.”

The dwarf stomped over and with her strong hands caught Nereida’s arm as she stumbled to her feet suddenly week, she looked worried at the dwarf who smiled back at her, the dwarves face was softened and warm now. Looking at her now Nereida wondered how she could breathe because of  the necklace she wore, and what kind of life did she have with the scars on her face. They walked down a dimly lit hallway pasted several grumpy looking dwarves who either mumbled about digging deeper or grunted an acknowledgment as they passed them.  Suddenly they walked through a great archway and they were faced with a great cavern, staircases were intricately laid throughout and lanterns lit the vast open space. Above her head Nereida could make out moving shapes but it was unclear what it was, and she dared not dwell on it.

“I know it doesn’t look like much, but it is home” Ravana’s face was filled with pride.

“how… how far unground are we?”

“far enough that the king’s men won’t find us, the way we like it now come on get those legs working”

“are you always this bossy?”

The dwarf laughed and pulled her onwards, until they reached the kitchen where she placed Nereida in a chair and made her eat.

“when you are ready, I can help you out of the city and point you in the direction of the one you seek.”

“and how exactly do you know where he is?”

“divine intervention is all you need to know, now wander the city if you like but I must go and see to the temple”

With that the dwarf was gone, speeding down the corridors driven by some unseen force. No eye contact was made with the residents of the city something pulled her to the temple, she sighed as she crossed the thresh hold. The temple was filled with so much light for an underground city and there was life everywhere you turned.

“I have been expecting you child……”

The voice came from nowhere and everywhere, Ravana had heard it many times and was familiar with it however it still caused her fright.

“hahaha every time Ravana and yet you enter and tend to my temple every day”

“I just don’t expect you to be here is all…. What do you want anyway?”

“careful, I may have chosen you but there are always punishments for our choices. If you must know I’m here to send you on a quest for me if you are truly loyal to me”

“you know I am…. What is this quest?”

“Nereida you will help her….”

“out of the city I know that my father already told me that”

“hmm no, you will go with her on this journey”

“me? why?”

“I hate evil child and there is a great one plaguing this land and who better to rid the world of him than me and you”

“I can’t leave the city”

“your father will be pleased, and you know this to be true…. An adventure and quest laid out for you by your deity why wouldn’t he be”

With that she was gone leaving Ravana alone in the temple “great” she stomped out to her room mumbling as she walked. She slammed her room door closed throwing herself onto her bed just as her father limped into the room.

“dearest Ravana, what is wrong?”

The dwarf was old and worn from the many battles that he had been part of over the centuries

“you will be pleased to know that I have been chosen for a quest father”

“what wonderful news, you should leave immediately I will have it arranged”

“don’t I get a say in this? What if I don’t want to?”

“I thought you were strong in your faith and out deity”

“I am but there are other ways to show it not stomping through the wild looking for a dragonborn who is said to be a murderer because some half elf just happens to get themselves into trouble.”

“remember your place here child, you will bring honour to us once again”

With that the old dwarf left the room and once more she was alone. She lay looking at the ceiling the bats chirping outside she screamed as it echoed around the cavern outside her window.  After several hours of sulking she pulled herself together changing into travelling clothes, grabbing her hammer and headed to find Nereida who was now playing hide and seek.

“we have to go… well don’t just stand there let’s get going”

“going where?”

“it seems that the higher powers wish me to go with you”

Nereida hugged the dwarf lifting her from the ground in the embrace.

“that was embarrassing don’t do it again…. Now come on”

They walked through the cavern to the cheers of the dwarves, news had spread quickly of the quest and they headed to the gates, standing with a foot on the wall a toothpick in his mouth stood a tall figure with greenish skin. He squinted at them as they approached and when he spoke his voice was deep.

“thought you could leave without saying goodbye did you”

“don’t be stupid, I knew you would be here” said Ravana with a wink

“so, this it then?”

The dwarf grabbed the tall figures shirt pulling him down for a head butt

“get the bloody bags and let’s go” she gave him a kiss as his deep laugh filled the cavern.

“yes sir”

“oh, and this is Nereida she’s the reason for this little adventure.”

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Behind the door

Lorcan stood both hands bracing himself on the door as he panted, his mind raced with an internal battle she couldn’t be here not now but then he did owe her. The halfling cried out in frustration banging his fist on the door, slowly he opened the door.

“Nadora my dear how lovely to see you, but I’m afraid now isn’t a good time”

“I don’t really care if it is or not, we need shelter”

“You should try an inn”

“Lorcan….” Nadora tried to enter the house but there was a flash of light and she fell to the ground

“Nadora” Aidene rushed to her side shaking her

“she’s alright just knocked out”

“what did you do to her troll”

“hey there is no need for name callin…… I told her it wasn’t a good time for visitors”

Aidene stood up her fists clenched as she walked towards the halfling

“ah now think about it, your sister wasn’t invited in and neither are you”

“Lorcan was it?”

“well yeah” said the halfling

“my name is Aidene and Nadora is my sister, she saved me a few days ago and brought me here for reasons I don’t know but we need your help……. Please”

The halfling sighed puffing up his cheeks scanning the horizon wildly

“aaahh, alright then come in before the king’s men appear on patrol” he clicked his fingers as a slight shimmer filled the surrounding air pulsing out towards Aidene and with a flash of pale silvery light, two men appeared next to Nadora. They were dressed in black tuxedos and bowed to Aidene before carefully lifting Nadora

“don’t worry Aidene… I just need a little help mi only small after all.”

She gave a weak smile and followed them inside, Aidene blinked her way into the well-lit corridor with wooden walls and the wooden floor creaked beneath her feet. The hallway was covered in round doors, the ceiling was unusually high for a halfling.

“sir…. where should we put the lady?”

“ah well there is a thought”

“surely you have a spare room here”

“now I wasn’t expecting visitors and when I created this house, I didn’t put any in…. in any case best put her in my room I can give that up I suppose”

“thank you” Aidene said with a curtsy

“well follow me I suppose you are hungry” he led her down the winding corridors, until Aidene heard a voice calling

“I thought you didn’t have visitors?”

“well he is more a companion than visitor really”

“alright just no more surprises”

As they entered through the round door at the end of the hall, there was a blast of cold air and it took a minute for Aidene’s eyes to adjust to the dull lighting. When they did, she noticed that there were more of the tall silvery men in tuxedos bustling around with serving plates. Then Aidene’s followed one of them to the source of the voice, sitting on the other side of the room was a figure, their skin looked rough and whiter than the springs snow drops. Aidene was frozen to the spot in shock as she gazed upon his face…. the face of a dragon and yet his eyes held a softness to them, he stood up his face stern.

“Lorcan, how could you bring her here?”

“huh” the halfling was confused

“she is the king’s daughter”

The halfling jumped back shocked “wait what”

“get away from her”

“no please…… I can explain”

“it’s true? That little rat I should kill her in her sleep”

“I’m not asleep anymore Lorcan”

The sound of Nadora’s voice behind him caused the halfling to scream out as he jumped forward.

“don’t bloody do that”

“a rat, am I? Let’s not forget that if it wasn’t for me you would have been in the belly of one long ago”

The stranger had began walking towards Aidene his eyes glowing a bright blue

“not so fast” Nadora steeped between him and her sister with a knife drawn

“don’t think I won’t hurt you” he paused for a moment taking her in “you are twins? Twice the satisfaction since I can’t get your father now”

“he is not my father or hers, he is a disease on this world”

“well at least we can agree on something but I’m afraid you could be telling me lies”

He lifted his hand as the air grew colder around them

“hhh hmmm, may I remind you that violence is not permitted and if you do, we could all be in trouble…. Just once I wish I could use this place for 48 hours and nothing bad happen. Look if you like why don’t we sit down and talk this through if tomorrow you still aren’t convinced then….”

The halfling made an explosion gesture with his hands before sitting at the table as the servants brought the first course.

“I hope you all like rabbit stew”

Aidene screwed her face in disgust

“listen princess it’s all there is out here on short notice”

“what about deer they are plentiful at this time of year”

“well you feel free to go catch some, in the meantime it’s this or you go hungry”

“thanks” as she turned to sit down Nadora was already stuffing the food down her throat without chewing.

“hmmmn nmmdph ggggdddd”

“see, your sister likes it”

“enough of this, you better get to explaining yourselves” the figure leaned against the wall with his arms crossed scowling at the girls.

“it’s a little dry Lorcan….. a little like the company you keep, clearly hasn’t been around females much”

The halfling snorted in laughter “he hasn…. that is very rude of you dear and she didn’t mean it”

“what is your name” Aidene’s voice was shaky

“why don’t you tell me what I want to know, and I will decide if I am to give that information or not”

“our parents were artist who travelled the lands painting the world, around 25 years ago they got into a little trouble and a group of travelling druids helped them eventually they were invited to live within their community…. when we were young enough to be persuaded of other things the druids had left the village and we were left behind, that’s when the king came looking for them only he found us… as I lay asleep in my bed they came, took my sister and mother but not before killing my father, several hours later I awoke to find him and since then I have grew in strength learning combat and the ways of the wild. On the eve of my 16th birthday the druids came to me and told me that my sister was alive enslaved by the king and that my mother had fought back and lost her life for it…. I knew I had to do something.

“Nadora…. I am so sorry” tears ran down Aidene’s cheeks

“it seems you have just as much reason for wanting the king dead as I do”

“geez I don’t think I have enough wine in the pantry to lift the mood in this room” said Lorcan as he slowly chewed a piece of bread.

“what reason do you have for wishing it” asked Nadora

The stranger opened his mouth to speak, but it was Aidene who spoke first

“he killed your mother and the man who care for you, then you killed his men” her eyes were wide as she spoke “I know who you are…… Targa”

The dragonborn bowed his head to her

“I never really believed the stories they told of you; I mean how could they be true”

“wait what stories?” Nadora was suddenly on edge

“well I am a descendant of the old king cursed or blessed with the power of the dragons, so you decide.”

“they say he destroyed a whole village after the king killed everyone”

“well good for you I say” Nadora was smiling at him “this could be the start of a beautiful partnership”

“partnership? Oh no he is not going near the city nope not a chance… silly girl” Lorcan became panicked

“Loran… don’t you long to perform in front of people and not be hunted for what you are?” Targa could be persuasive when he wanted to be

“you are all crazy…. But I could use some new material for my act”

“I am curious… how you met my sister”

“oh, that is a tale for another day”

“Lorcan…. you know none of us will sleep tonight” said Targa

“Lorcan is right its not the time” said Nadora

“this must be good…. I think there was some sort of love affair going on” said Aidene

“ppfft please”

“yeah she’s not my type”

“hmm” Aidene looked at him with a sly grin

“fine…… a few years ago I was working a bar like I always did when your sister who was under the influence of wine approached me and kissed….”

“LORCAN, I swear you better tell the truth with this”

“tut, alright… fine… I was under the influence and I tried to kiss her, only she punched me in the face”

Targa sniggered

“Gee thanks pal, anyway nothing keeps this guy down and I moved onto other ladies in the bar and you wouldn’t believe it no luck with any of them, they just didn’t know what they were missing…”

Nadora coughed and Lorcan scowled at her

“anyway, I kept at it, and just before closing time there she was standing by herself by the bar, tall slender her body encased in the most seductive dress imaginable her breasts….”

“Lorcan… focus please”

“yes dear… anyway I knew a guy like me would never get a girl like that, but nothing ventured nothing gained and at closing time she asked me back to her place.”

“why do I get a bad feeling about this?” Targa was smirking

“because he is an idiot” said Nadora

“alright Naddie you take it from here since you enjoy it so”

She scowled “alright. I was in town on a hunt several villagers had vanished over the course of a few months and they all had one thing in common they all went to the same bar the night before they disappeared, and the same female was described in each one. So, I tracked her down and I watched her, but it was like she knew… until Lorcan, that night she took him back to her house and he never left. The next morning, I sneaked into the house and found this idiot in the basement chained up with two puncture wounds in his neck. Yip she was a vampire and was keeping him alive to feed off for a while, so I began to search the house and eventually I found her and drove a stake through her and took Lorcan to safety. I never thought I would see him after that, but I became his muse for a while providing him with stories, he could make songs about….”

“until one day I woke up and she was gone from this house, no note or explanation just gone and now she comes here saying I owe her” Lorcan retorted

“in a way you kind of do, she saved you and you used her” said Aidene

“hey, don’t change the subject”

“I am sorry Lorcan dear”

The halflings face grew red as he fidgeted

“well… I suppose it is alright…. No harm done really”

“we should rest we can discuss more tomorrow what we plan to do” Targa said, and he left the room

“yes, well that is an idea…. Good night ladies Nadora you know where the room is for you and your sister” when he was safely out of the room, he slapped his face and muttered under his breathe

“like her, do you?” Targa sniggered

“oh, shut up you”

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Nereida

The war ended long ago, and a new power had risen, King Ryker the rich as he had become known. The shift in the world of men had seen the fay folk withdraw, a land which was once plentiful and full of trade now done only in secret. King Exos had been killed and his bloodline decimated, tales of what happened to those aided them spread throughout the lands.  A seer had come to the king giving him a warning that a group of strong and magical beings would destroy him, the seer never left the castle and so the king turned his attention to the magical beings throughout the land with the decree stating that they were to be destroyed.

One village by the river on the out skirts of an elven city, took the risk depending on the elves skills in medicine and craft to survive. One man by the name of Silvius often wondered into the woodland realm, the elven children loved the wizard magic. As the years passed, he soon won the heart of the lady of these woods, Lady Melina. A tall slender woman with hair the colour of browning Autumn leaves and eyes as green as emeralds. As their love for each other grew, Melina knew that her people would never accept a man as their lord and yet…

Silvius lay awake, the early morning sun breaking through the curtain, he looked at his beloved Melina asleep dressed all in white, her hair like fire from the suns warming glow a small smile curled in the corner of her soft pinkish lips as she lay dreaming. His hand brushed her shoulder running down her arm to find a mass of curly hazel hair all tangled of their daughter Nereida. The child lay with her leg over her mother and her little hand twisted in her mother’s hair, Silvius laughed as he often did, at the sight of his daughter sound asleep between them.

Nereida was both elven and human, she had the curiosity of humans and the wisdom of the elves, but it came at a cost for she would never be accepted by either of her heritage and no one understood her. With the way the world had turned Melina had feared that to keep her daughter within the city would cause her to be hunted by the kings men and their hounds, an evil she couldn’t protect her daughter from, she made the heart breaking decision to leave her in the care of her father in the little river village. Melina was however a doting mother and could not bare to be without Nereida, and so every day she would take her into the woods to teach her the ways of the elves. Her daughter had a natural flare for magics and clearly understood nature well. While she could not draw or play music, she could certainly take in its beauty and enjoy it, Silvius made sure his daughter understood and had the skills needed to survive in the world teaching her to fish and hunt, use her hands but most of all expand her knowledge of magic. The family would live in peace and joy but all things in this land Ryker would see it gone.

The years passed slowly for the elves, but Nereida it was quick and as time would have it, she neared her 20th year and unlike her peers it showed.  Her father was gone now along with the river village and its people, Ryker’s hounds and men had seen to that, the morning of the attack Melina had taken her daughter to the woods like she always did upon returning Nereida had seen something that still haunts her dreams to this day. Her mother had been so consumed by grief that she walked into the river and if it had not been for her daughters screams, she too would have met a terrible fate. The lady took her daughter to the city to be raised among the elves, they took pity on the girl but still did not accept her, causing her to return to the ruined village for comfort.  Nereida could find no peace and yearned for more, there was nothing in the elven lore which could quench her thirst and more time on her own gave her the chance to practice her magic, she longed for peace to no longer having to hide and the suffering of the world to be over.

Melina found her daughter in the village now alive with critters of the fey, tonight was different she handed her daughter a large package wrapped in leaves.

“take this my child…. Someday your greatness will outshine those stars. I see you on a great adventure, but you should seek out the help of a dragonbourne with scales as white as the fallen snow”

She cupped her daughters face in her long fingers gently kissing her forehead and wished her goodnight.  Melina withdrew into the trees and as she gazed upon her daughter, she knew in her heart that it was for the last time. Nereida settled herself and opened the package, inside lay enough provisions to last a week, jumping to her feet she began walking the whole time an internal argument of all the reasons she shouldn’t go coupled with all the reasons she could. It was then she realised that she had walked all the way to the border that for years her father had warned her never to cross…. A sudden rush filled her body as she took that step into the unknown, the guilt supressed by the building excitement she now felt.

Three days of walking would bring her to the sea and its menacing cliffs leering over her, she had to choose to go back or climb. Filled with determination she began her accent, but the weather grew unkind and a great storm set in fast. Her mind raced, filled with the horror stories of the villagers who told of trolls in the cliffs praying on the weak. Crashing waves, cracking lightening, and pounding rain, Nereida hands frozen and slippery from the rain. Great boulders began to fall, and fear of trolls consumed her, panic took its deathly grip on her heart as she scanned the darkness for help. a light or was it?… there it was again she crawled pulling herself in the direction as more boulders fell a burst of strength saw her dart into the mouth of a cave. She lay there, the hammering noise of the rain echoing around her as it bounced off the walls, she panted glancing up to see little lamp like eyes staring at her, but the bats didn’t seem to mind her presence.

Nereida found her feet soon enough and sneaked deeper into the cave, finding nothing but a glowing blue pool at its heart. Picking up a piece of drift wood she willed the end to light with fire, then she huddled around it for warmth as the tiredness set in and the thoughts of giving up filled her head.

“you have only just begun”

A male voice filled the cavern, Nereida filled with panic scanned around holding her torch up to help but there was nothing to be found. Uneasy she sat down, the pool seemed to be growing brighter or was its tiredness, she couldn’t take her eyes from it and eventually curiosity took over and she crept towards it edge…

The water burst forward wrapping itself around Nereida in a tight embrace pulling her down. The icy water shocked her system, the surface pulling away from her as she wildly tried to pull herself to its mocking surface. Nereida grew tired her legs and arms filled with pain with ever pull and still the water holds, her lungs now burn with the need for air. The taste of salt water hits her tongue and burns her throat, as the aching body gives in her final thought

“I will do anything to end the suffering of the world”

“Good”

Air rushed into Nereida lungs like the waves that had pulled her in, short breaths burned like fire. She found herself on her hands and knees under the water but breathing like on land. The quivering water that surrounded her was hording its mighty power…. and it came again the voice.

“come my child there is much to discuss”

Sitting in a throne of gold was an older man but the body of an octopus.

“your name…. you’re the god of the sea…Aruna my dad told tales of you”

“smart man he was but to business”

“I’m yours now?”

“well child you don’t have to be, one click of my fingers and you can return to drowning”

Nereida full of concern was careful with her words

“what will you have me do?”

“nothing…. Well one day I will ask you to enter a body of water and well you will never return”

“death?”

The old man laughed

“dear child no… but to live here, with me”

Tear ran down Nereida’s cheeks

“how long do I have up there?” she pointed to the surface.

“I can’t be bargained with…oh you were… I heard your thoughts, and someone should wash your mouth out. But now you said you would do anything and here I am offering”

“I didn’t… not what I meant….  What do I get in return?”

The god stood up and bobbing along on his tentacles towards her he spoke in a tone that was as soothing as the surrounding waters tune

“ah well I will give you the power and knowledge you seek to end the suffering, I will guide and teach you and I will gift you this…”

He clicked his fingers and before her a great staff appeared.

“you will become great and do amazing things in this world, with the help of some soon to be friends”

“the dragonbourne?”

The god nodded, then he opened his muscular arms wide awaiting a response.

Nereida walked over examining the staff, as she grew closer, she felt a power ripple through her body and without thinking she reached out and grabbed it. Panic filled her “no” and she let it go

“well…you let me know what you decide I can and will wait for you”

The water grew dark and the only light came from the staff, it was only now that she realised that even though she was cold her clothing was dry.

“well Nereida you have got yourself into this perhaps with his knowledge and power you can get yourself out of it or the dragonbourne can”

She kicked a giant shell screaming on frustration as she grabbed the staff again, her skin connected and a surge of energy blue in color seeped into her skin and then bursting from her in the form of a giant octopus. She broke the surface surrounded by the creature, causing the bats to flee into the morning sun.

Once on the shore the blue octopus evaporated into her chest as Nereida fell to her hands and knees she gasped for air, sorrow taking hold. Nereida lay crying as the voice of Aruna filled the cavern once more

“head East child that is where you find the help you seek”

Anger and determination filled her soul, as she pulled herself together and once more began her ascent up the cliff in search of adventure.