The shattered spear
“Come now, before I quench you like a candle on a river.”
The Dragon uttered, as he coaxed fourth his prey. Asfalon steadied his shaking hands, gripping the blade so tightly that his knuckles nearly glowed in the darkness.
Striding out before the beast he stared deep into its enormous, glinting, emerald green eyes. Caught in the dragon spell, he froze. The lips of the dragon curled into a cruel smile, exposing rows of yellowed teeth; each one as great as the sword trembling in the hands of the man.
The Dragon brought its face close to Asfalon and as it flared its nostrils, smoke pouring forth. As the dragon opened its mouth; gold coins which littered the stone floor began to warp and run, Asfalons beard began to curl and steam rose from his damp cowl.
“You have come to kill me and steal what’s mine?”
The man shrank back from the foul stench and cauterising heat as it blistered his skin. He mustered a reply,
“I have come to challenge you who would reap men as a crop, who would burn our villages and devour us at your whim.”
The dragon considered its response for but a moment,
“Do sheep attack the shepherd?”
Asfalon was in that moment released from his spell and with all his his strength surged against the beasts bowed head.
Immediately Dragons-breath consumed him, the blade which had hewn Man and Orc alike in single stroke; fell clinking on the cobbles, its sound inaudible over the raging flames.
And so fell a great warrior of ages past, though proved against the blades of many denizens of this plane a Dragon he could not conquer.”
And this children, is why we don’t go north to the mountains; because Dragons lurk there, lingering vestiges of an age of fire and steel. Where Men and Elves warred with the forces of darkness.
“Tell us more of the Dragons!”
The children squealed,
The old man rocked back on his seat, a smile visible under the heavy beard and maze of wrinkles, his eyes looked deep into the fire and far beyond. He drifted for a moment as he searched the deep vaults of his ancient mind.
“Ah, well long ago. There was a time when one of the mountains of the Dwarves was taken by a great Dragon! A great Dragon, even as Dragons are reckoned…”
Began the story,
But that’s a story not for this book; No, this book tells of my own adventures on the road.
No doubt the education my grandfather gifted me with and the stories he told spurned those first steps out the door. I thought it set the scene nicely to relate his tales to my own. But I digress, it was what I saw on the open road, which I wished to tell in this letter...
There had been years of isolation for the men of the valley. All was quiet and the gates were closed, in the forests there were not even the whispers of Elves watching in the shadows. It was as if something was wrong and the creatures of the land had hidden until it might pass. This quiet perturbed the wise and calmed the foolish among us.
This tale really starts when i was out in the fields one day, I found a spear, alone in a field where it hadn’t been the day before, and I would know, as I’d walked the same path everyday for weeks now. My goal was a particularly delightful raspberry bush which clung to a crumbled old stone fence, one perfect for sitting.
The spear, it was just laying there and as I picked it up I noticed its shaft was splintered; In the way a stave might be under the weight of a cart.
I went about that day as usual and later I took the spear back to my grandfather. I had hoped he might enlighten as to its nature.
Instead he proceeded to belittle its significance to me and my curious peers. But in his eye I caught a glimpse of concern before he managed to temper himself. He left for the alehouse and I followed, determined to hear the thoughts which had made his brow furrow.
Scurrying along behind him I spied him approaching a group of men with urgency, I could tell this because he skipped the bar and waved off the enthusiastic welcome of the barman.
I crept closer to hear his hushed speech;
“…a spear shaft, shattered by great force. It was one of the Rangers weapons I tell you, old Elvish make.”
Their dispositions soured as they chewed his words among themselves, too quiet for me to hear. My position by a table of grumbling drunkards was already dangerously close and I dared not move closer, lest I interrupt and miss their reply. My patience was soon rewarded as one of the men spoke up,
“Our position is not to question the workings of such men, they actively look for danger and rouse it where it once slept, lets hope their presence does not involve us and ignore this matter.”
His audience nodded in approval some grunting and swigging from their pint glasses.
“Quiet any suspicions of this item and we can be done with it. Best to let sleeping Dragons lie I always say!”
Grandfather was not finished however.
“It looks to me as though this is not some overgrown beast or vagabond hunt. It was a great magical force which wrought this spear. It would take more than physical force to rend both the spell and the shaft.”
The grumbling and swigging continued until one man broke the cacophony, I had seen him many times before.
“You all know as well as I our purpose here. We shall keep an ear to the ground, but no more than that; the risk is too great.”
Grandfather nodded at them, he proceeded to get himself a flagon of ale. Perhaps to wash away the questions at the back of his mind. My questions however, burned too furiously. I decided to do as one of the heroes in Granddads stories might, to uncover the mystery.
That night went slowly, I lay staring at a crack between the shutters. The only light which pierced the dark of my room, galvanising myself for the tasks of the coming days. Balancing my investigation with the commitments of my daily chores would not be easy. When finally the warm embrace of slumber came I dreamed of dark forests and men in black cloaks, eyes and blades glinting out of the terrible shadow…
After two days and no results from my inspections of the area surrounding the spear, I decided that a new approach must be taken. I wrote a small note to Grandpa telling him I was climbing in the hills. He shouldn’t worry, I spent much of my youth out catching game and staying in the hills.
I took with me my hunting bow, knife and as much bread, honey and sausage as I thought could go unnoticed.
Making my way into the forest, I glanced back momentarily at the moonlit valley. I remember it vividly because not many know the exact moment they reached adulthood, although some participate in rituals to announce the transition.
But at that very moment; a moment marked deep within me, I left childhood in that valley. My life from that moment until I now write this letter has been a fight to overcome the darkness, the evil which crept back into the world from the abyss it was banished to.
I warn you there are no happy endings here.