Free At Last — The End of Chapter One

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And there it was. The dragon god Trog’than was slain. The group of newcomers victoriously stood over the dragon in victory as their accomplishment slowly set in. They accomplished the deed with the assistance of the Night Mistress’s amulet and her items of power, along with drinking from Hestia’s Spring. As Erik slowly and meticulously harvested the dragon, the others searched around the cave. The view from the opening was breathtaking. A soft breeze blew in as you looked over the ocean. The sea was calm and, with the clear sky, you could see the coast of the main island. Between Crux, Haned and Valerie, they were able to find a small crack in the rock face where the dragon had stashed his valuables. Inside was a small leather bag and, behind that, was a small platinum chest that is engraved with an intricate depiction of a ship at sea. The chest has a very tiny lock that is hidden behind one of the sails. When Erik took a look at the lock, he realized that it was going to be extremely difficult to pick right now and decided he would wait until he had proper time.

Inside of the leather bag there was some items that were magical that would need some time to research. Next to the small crack was a bookshelf that was carved into the stone. Laid out on the shelves, both vertical and in stacks, were numerous books and a rolled up blanket that was radiating a magical aura. All of the books and treasures were tossed into their bag of holding, along with the items that Erik was able to harvest from the dragon. The four of them took one last look out over the ocean ad began their descent down.

When they arrived in the ruins at the end of the long tunnel, the kobolds lined up to see the newcomers. Never before have they seen unwanted or unannounced guests of the dragon live past the encounter. However, when they appeared, it got their attention. Furthermore, when the head of the dragon was shown, they were in awe. Everyone of them stared as the newcomers walked the ruins, when they left, all of the kobolds followed. Somehow, word of their deed has spread. The walk from the ruins to the main road seemed to garner more of a following. By the time they made it to the center of the island, kobolds from both tribes were gathered to witness the rumors.

King Ghrizig, of the Fernlash tribe and his brother, King Vreggaas of the Fernspine tribe led their respective people. Neither of the kings would accept the defeat until Trog’than’s head was tossed on the ground between them. Kobolds from both tribes began to cheer, however, their celebration was tempered as the kings raised their respective staves. A silence spread amongst the crowd. Now that Trog’than was dead, the island was free of his tyrannical rule. The kings still had one thing left to resolve. Before the newcomers set out on their quest to slay the dragon, King Ghrizig negotiated a truce with his brother that allowed them to travel the land unhampered. To cement the deal, which King Vreggaas did not want to agree to, Ghrizig invoked Evok Raash-Uunuh. This ancient ritual bound the two kings resolve a dispute with a duel to the death, which made it a seldom used invocation. However, Ghrizig wanted freedom for his people and if this was how it needed to be done, then so be it.

The two faced each other and began the ritual. When the invocation was completed, the two began fighting. They struck with sword and staff, most of which was blocked. The two knew each other’s fighting style so well that each thrust and riposte were matched with a perfect parry. The challenge turned into a mesmerizing dance of death. The tribesmen fell into a chant that coincided with the dance. It was Ghrizig that brought the first spell to bear, blasting his brother with a streaming ray of fire. Defensive spells were raised and the arcane power could be felt by all. The crowd retreated a bit to give the contestants more room as they began the dance again, this time mixing sword and spell. Although the pair seemed to be perfectly matched, Ghrizig feinted with a spell that left an opening. He thrust his sword beneath the arm of Vreggaas and drove it into his chest. The action suddenly came to a complete stop as the younger of the two brothers dropped to his knees, his brother’s sword piercing into him. The chanting came to an equally sudden stop at the site. Vreggaas will breathe his last breath and Ghrizig stood in victory.

The crowd was silent. Ghrizig stood there … silently still with his grip still on his sword. He closed his eyes to say a small prayer for his brother. This was the moment Vreggaas was waiting for. He grabbed his brother’s arm and thrust his own sword through the chest of Ghrizig. The two separated, each impaled with the other’s sword … each with a mortal wound. The both dropped to their knees as their body’s began to fail. Both fell to the ground and breathed their last breath … together. The irony of situation was not lost on the Gods. Ghrizig and Vreggaas were brothers … twin brothers. Born moments apart … Died moments apart.

This was unprecedented. Never before had this happened. With both of the challengers dead, who will lead them? Tense stares went between the kobolds. The silence was broken when one kobold stepped forward from the crowd. All eyes focused on him as he silently walked towards the former kings. Silence spread when the young kobold stopped before the bodies. The newcomers, not beholden to the tribal traditions, could only stand there in stunned silence with what was unfolding before them. The kobold stood before the two dead kings, unsure of what was going to happen. They have no king. Who is going to lead them now? The kobold’s eyes looked for the staves of the kings. They laid next to the bodies. Each staff was made of carved bone, the runes that it bore contained powerful magic. He looked about the crowd. Hundreds of kobolds stared back at him, waiting for him to do … something. His eyes caught the eyes of the newcomers. Then he knew what must be done.

Thoughts ran through his head as he pondered the implications. However, times were changing. Newcomers have arrived on their island, the two tribes were freed of the dragon’s tyranny. “Two tribes …“, he said to himself. “Two tribes.” His eyes looked down at the pair of staves. Each one symbolized the tribe that possessed it. “Two tribes … Two staves.” Once, before his time but still recent history, the two tribes were one. When Trag’thon arrived on the island, he demanded fealty. Not everyone was in agreement with an answer. The two most outspoken opponents just so happened to be Ghrizig and Vreggaas. The dispute led to the dragon slaying King Ilgrung before the brothers and a contingent of tribesmen. When the dragon killed the king, he declared that which ever brother sweared allegiance to him would be the new king. Vreggaas was the first to step forward and eagerly knelt before him. Ghrizig stood stoic and did not budge. When the dragon asked why he did not step forward, like his brother did, he simply responded with “We are sovereign, we are many, we will not kneel before you.” This caused a division in the contingent of kobolds. Half of them rallied behind Ghrizig and shouted their approval, the other half rallied behind Vreggaas and took a knee.

The dragon laughed. He thought of just slaughtering those opposing him, but another idea came to mind. Trog’than was two things … Cruel and Evil and he spotted an opportunity. He decided that both shall live, but declared that those that followed him would have a greater portion of the island, the others would be relocated to the southern tip of the island. Anyone caught outside of their borders were to be killed. This, of course, led to a split in the tribe. However, only one kobold may lead the tribe. How would they decide who was king? Their protests fell on the dragon’s ears as they explained that only the one that bore the staff could lead the tribe. His claw reached out for the long bone staff and he held it in his grasp. “The tribes will be split,” he said aloud and took the staff in both hands. He snapped the staff in half, just like a dried, wooden twig. Vreggaas led those that accepted the dragon and proclaimed they were now known as the Fernspine Tribe. The opposition, led by Ghrizig, were declared as the Fernlash Tribe. Each were given half of the staff, the longest of which was given to Vreggaas.

A years long civil war erupted between the two tribes that resulted in a great loss of life on both sides. This, however, was what Trog’than desired. The petty squabble, as he called it, amused him greatly. When the war ended, it was Ghrizig and the Fernlashes that suffered the greater loss. The peace lasted a few years, but the dragon soon grew tired of peace, so he installed an overlord to keep the opposition in line … and to instigate an altercation or two to keep whatever “peace” the tribes had in a fragile state. The creature placed in that role was the progeny of Trog’than and another warlord.

Years later, the overlord was slain. The newcomers slew his father and now the two tribes were free. Now he stood there holding both staves. “Two tribes … two staves … two kings … two dead brothers,” he said aloud. The kobold slammed the two ends of the broken staff together. A powerful blinding light erupted from the joining. Lightning bolts formed and flew in random directions. The sky turned dark and filled with clouds. There was a loud clap of thunder as a lightning bolt flashed that went straight for the kobold. The now joined staff launched a lightning bolt of its own. The two bolts met and another blinding flash. Just as fast as the storm rolled in, it was gone. Back were the clear skies. When the newcomer’s vision returned, they looked upon the kobold holding a single unified staff high above his head.

Slowly, each of the kobolds knelt. This spread as more and more took a knee. It took seconds as every kobold honored their new king. King Trink, of the Fernlash tribe. He spoke out to the gathering, his voice carried, and allowed the newcomers to understand, with the power of the staff. “We were once one tribe … one people until an outsider split us apart. Now. Newcomers have freed us.” He points the staff at the four. “Outsiders that have joined us once again. We are no longer Fernlash or Fernspine. Names given to was from a tyrant. We were once known as Tuskhunters. We so shall be again!” The crowd chanted King Trink’s name. He looked towards the newcomers and smiled. A nod coming from each of them. He walked up to them and thanked them for freeing them. The king and the newcomers walked down to the boat and said their goodbyes. The two groups were on great terms now and the newcomers needed to get back to their people. The rescued survivors needed to be seen and the recovered supplies added to their stockpile. When they reached their boat, King Trink let them know that if they needed anything, the Tuskhunters would be there for them. He tapped the arm of Crux to get his attention. With the snap of a finger, a small book and polished stone disk appeared in his hands. “This will help you learn our language,” he said as he handed the two items to him.

The sail back to the colony was quick in the boat, much faster than the rowboat they originally used. The ship pulled into the bay and docked next to the fishing dock. The survivors were taken in and their injuries tended to. The recovered supplies were distributed. The group recounted the events of the island and took some much needed and deserved rest. They took some time to relax and go through the loot gained. Then, everything changed. As they were gathered for a meal, a sudden changed happened in Valerie. She froze solid and could not move. The normally chatty vulpine could not speak a word. Laughter turned to concern as the minutes passed. Her body dropped to the ground. Quickly, it was determined that she was alive but under some sort of sickness or curse. The three of them stared at each other as they stood over the unconscious body of their companion.

1 thought on “Free At Last — The End of Chapter One

  1. Haned stood at the stern of the boat, staring at the island shrinking in the distance. His mind lost in memories, he gently stroked the scarf tied on his Glaive as he leaned on it. “You look lost in thought”, Crux said as he stepped up beside the centaur.

    “Counting my regrets,” Haned said. “I regret that we never did find out what was in that room in the tower. I regret that we didn’t get to investigate the temple on the back left side. I regret…” he breaks off and strokes the scarf again. Michail had invited him to join in the guard’s training sessions, but Haned had refused. Haned had felt he was better than the common guards, and tried to train on his own. Having seen his poor performance against the various monsters on the island had made abundantly clear, this had been a mistake. It was time to get back to the basics. After a moment he shakes off the melancholy mood. “Also I seem to have lost my dagger, you haven’t seen it have you?” 

    At that point behind them someone clears his voice. “Master Haned,” The person starts out timidly. Haned turned to find one of the slaves they had rescued from the island. “Sorry to bother you sir, but what did you want us to do with these?” the speaker points to a pile of bone spears and rope laying on the deck.

    “Why are you asking me about…” Haned cuts off as he remembers telling the slaves to gather them. After the first attack by what turned out to be the Overlord he’d had the idea to fashion them into some harpoons to try to contain the beast. Frankly he’d forgotten he had set the slaves to the task, and the party hadn’t been back to the boat or camp since that morning. Haned picked over the pile, pulling out 6 of the carved javelins, and two ropes, one 75 foot in length and another 50 foot long. “Put the rest in the cargo, for community defense when we get back to camp.”

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