The Skadivers' Tale

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Gilden Hold

GILDEN HOLD

The dragons had insisted on flying along the coastline the entire way back to Gilden Hold. It worked out well for their procuring of fish, but it added time to the flight. Hannegelt was not happy to be setting down on the second evening to make camp when his destination was so close, but he had little choice in the matter. He knew it was probably wise not to arrive with the group exhausted from the long journey, but rather touch down at the Hold early in the morning, rested and ready for action.

Just before first light, his arm was throbbing too much to let him sleep any more, so he arose and roused his Wizard. Kemann would have preferred a little more sleep, but answered the call to duty. Hannegelt suggested that Kemann take the hour flight to the Hold for reconnaissance, so that if they needed to make a plan, they would have time. They agreed, and the dragons were fine with the idea, so off they flew into the breaking dawn.

The cool morning air on Kemann’s cheeks felt good, and he was anxious to see home again. It wasn’t long before the Hold became visible as a tiny shining dot in the distance to Kemann, although his dragon could see it clearly and landed at a safe distance to surveil it. It was not the best of news; Gilden Hold had fallen. The up side to the news seemed to be that the Hold was still in good shape. The enemies had chosen to take over the beautiful city after claiming victory. It was far superior to any of their homes, and they came from a wide variety of places. Perhaps the malice was set aside after Styric’s death, but even so, the opportunity to take such a prize presented itself, so they took it.

The dragon’s eyes could make out that there were Wild men living outside the walls, as they would prefer, while there were Barbarians and Lizard warriors manning the walls. It was safe to assume that there were Styric forces proper taking control of everything inside the city, but they could only guess at the numbers. Kemann was depressed to hear the report, and he knew that Hann would be as well. The good Holdfolk did not deserve what they were likely having to deal with at that moment.

After they had observed the Hold for a half an hour, they suspected they knew all they needed to know. Kemann was devising a plan, and sent his dragon back to Hannegelt with the sad news. The group of six dragons and the other two men were to meet him in the forest on the near side of the field in front of the Hold upon their return. That would leave Kemann to work his plan for two hours by himself.

He began the walk to the rendezvous point, and in about fifteen minutes, he was there. He settled in and began to conjure illusions. He was much closer now to the Hold, and he could easily see the men on the walls. He hoped that the Wild men would not be near in the wood. As it happened, they were not. No, they were coming out of the main gate in their clan groups carrying what food and drink as they had just stolen.

Kemann’s first illusion was a single dragon. It flew towards the Wild men and landed right in front of them. It blew flame in the air and roared, and the men dropped their booty and ran back to the Hold. At that, Kemann had the apparition fly away.

A half of an hour later, the gate opened again, and twenty warriors ventured out, all armed and ready for anything. Again, Kemann sent the apparition flying towards them. Again, he watched as they scrambled back to the Hold.

It was well into the second hour, and the scene repeated, but this time there were fifty warriors of all types. This time, Kemann sent three dragons to them. They stood their ground. Kemann took his time, landing his illusions and surrounding the enemy. As the apparition dragons let loose enough flame to engulf the entire group, there were screams of terror that made Kemann laugh. The men realized that, since they had not been turned to cinders, the dragons were illusions, and Kemann let them dissipate.

The men knew there must be a Wizard around somewhere and, after a huddle and a discussion, they tentatively began to look around and spread out around the field. Kemann was getting a little nervous that his timing might be off. He was no match for so many men on his own.

He felt a presence coming in behind him, and turned to see his Lord and the dragons wondering what he had been up to. He quickly explained, and bade the dragons to land on the field, surrounding the warriors. He said that they would likely not run now that they would assume these dragons were also just conjured illusions. At which time, the real dragons could deal with the majority of the enemy forces, or so Kemann hoped.

The dragons were happy to oblige. They took to the air in formation, circling the field, actually causing the enemy to watch and come together in the center of the area. Even if they ‘knew’ these were illusions, they were still unnerving to witness. The four dragons landed like they were four points of the compass, and faced the warriors. Just as with Kemann’s previous illusion, the flames came, but these were not merely an apparition. These were deadly, and this time the screams were real.

Hannegelt, Kemann and Dannhelm came out of the cover of the wood and approached the Hold. The rest of the dragons joined the four and fell in behind the men. They were probably a good two hundred yards from the gate when as many men as had just burned alive came running out. But they were not running for a confrontation; they were just running. Running away with whatever they could carry.

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