From the Desk of Gilmore the Pale
There weren't always dragons in the valley. Let me tell you the legend of my father. Krag.
There weren't always dragons in the valley. Sit back and let me have the pleasure of telling you the legend of my grandfather, Krag. A few years ago, one of our clan's former war chiefs witnessed a flock of dragons land near our camp. Although our early years were hampered by dragons, it has become a ritual of passage for anyone who wants to become a war chief to retrieve an egg from the nest of a dragon. There were my father, his brother Tolas, and three other people. Only when my father, who was a tower of a man, brought more than just an egg back, did the clan gain respect for him. My father returned, dragging behind him the head of a young dragon, who was seen stealing our livestock and gaining the title of War Chief.
My father Lo'Gosh was the first son of Krag, the clan commander. It was the pale skin of my father that earned him the name Lo'Gosh, and it was this pale skin that my father and I found commonality. From what my father told me, his younger brother Tolas was constantly trying to outdo him and taking one of my father's eyes out of competition. When my older sister Tina and I were young, our father took us hunting. Through him, however, we have learned much more than just hunting. Tina and I often spar and learn how to use our blades and bows. But I wasn't much of a fighter, that was always Tina's strength. My father has always told me that I took after my mother a little too much, if you will, because I was better equipped with a druid craft and a thick club than with a bow and blade.
Speaking of the hunting lessons of our father, I remember the lessons that have been taught to me even today. As my hair begins to whiten and my skin weathers over the years, the druid abilities circulate through my veins. I am no longer the great adventurer, I always thought I was. Over the years, I've looked around. It is only me, my friends of the past, who have been dead for far too long. Even my sisters, who were far better than me at everything, cross my mind in the loneliness of the night. It is troubling to think it has been about 50 years. She sat next to the fireplace in the foyer of our old inn; the place we called home until that day anyway. At any rate, this is not a story of the thoughts of a whiny old man, because it is for me to live the last of my days vicariously through those who have the greatest interest in my past. I am Gilmore, and this is my story.
There, Tina and I stood over the headless body of our uncle Talos, for he had just killed our mother and father. Talos has finally been brought to justice, or at least as close to justice as I have ever seen. Mostly thanks to our new friends. Tina and I both celebrated in a fit of angry screams and joy. We were happy, because the bastard was finally dead and could never hurt us again. However, we were angry because we had to ask for help. After all, neither Tina nor I were brave enough to try the life of our uncle Talos alone. It left us with a sense of anger, because we now held a hatred for our Orcish blood and knew what kind of monster our uncle Talos was.
That day, Tina earned herself a title, KinSlayer. The few Orcish who would have made it easy to leave so much behind. I remember Tina's rampage against fifteen orcish men, taller than our father in his prime. Of those fifteen, only three would make it out alive. If you thought about what she had done to them, you would question their willingness to continue their lives. We proudly thanked our new friends before we returned to the inn so that we could pay our newly discovered comrades for their help. That same night, Tina and I talked about leaving Black Water for a few months, in part for a much-needed and deserved soul-searching. Tina agreed we would have to ask our friend Maggie to look after the inn while we were away. We told Maggie that she could keep our share until we returned from our journeys.
After a large breakfast, we made sure we had a few additional hours to prepare. A few hours later, our bellies were full, our packs were filled with enough food to ensure we were fed for the next week. We each equipped ourselves with a bow if we had to hunt for our dinner. I looked back at our equipment as Tina approached me. I turned and looked at Tina. She wore boar hide boots cut off on her upper shin and a pair of travel pants to ensure she was kept warm in the cool mornings of Black Water. Under Tina's chain mail shirt, she wore a black top that cut off around her chest. She wore our mother's riding cloak; it was a beautiful shade of green that was well-matched with Tina's fiery hair.
"Are we going to leave?"
"I just have to grab a few things out of my room first. We have to stop at the Smiths if you want your axes before we leave," I replied, raising myself from the floor.
"I'll be down in about ten minutes," I yelled as I made my way up the stairs and opened the first door on the left.
I walked through the threshold of my bedroom and quickly moved towards my desk to grab my notes and maps, to make sure I didn't forget the locket my mother gave me. Then I slipped my arms into my jacket and grabbed my running staff while I stepped out of the door towards the stairs.
Tina was rigging the wagon outside when I stepped out of the door of the inn. I grabbed our bags and put them inside.
"A quick stop at the Smiths, and we're good to go," I said with cheerful glee.
We made our way to the Smith, as it was not too far from the Inn.
"Carter, are you in?" Tina screamed.
"Are my axes done yet?
"Yes, give me a few minutes to fetch them for you," Carter replies.
Carter comes out and brandishes a massive sword of Orchish fabrication.
"Behold, kin of Lo'Gosh, I give you the Elk Killer. Your father entrusted this humble half-giant with his blade shortly after your birth. Gilmore, now I entrust it to you." Carter said, handing me the massive blade.
I slowly ran my hand down the green single edge blade, down to the jagged point.
"The handle is made of elk bones, isn't it?" I asked.
"You're right, this blade won the freedom of Black Water many times over, it was your father," Carter replied.
"Oh Tina, I've got a gift for you, I'm sure you'll enjoy it," Carter says with a smile that is noticeable through his thick beard. "You've seen this hammer a time or two, but I think Bojrn would have wanted you to have it."
"The bone splinter, are you sure Carter?" asked Tina, eyes wide open.
"Tina, it is far too painful for me to see that hammer knowing that my son is gone. He loved you and I know he would have wanted you to carry it," "May he always looks after you, may the bone splinter keep you safe from harm." Carter replied, shedding a small tear before wiping it from his eye.
Tina hugged Carter, holding him tightly as she began to cry a little. Carter steps back to get her axes.
"Remember, you two. Black Water will always be home. Make sure to come back in one piece." Carter said.
We thanked him as we mounted our wagon and set off into the horizon. We looked to the left and again saw a beautiful dragon flying overhead. We stopped for a moment to admire the beauty the dragon sees. It's beautiful red and green coloring of its scales, and its glowing yellow eyes. The inexistent hostility it presents as it looks down on us. They are a wonder to look at, I thought to myself as I yelled "Ya" at the horses. The dawn slowly turns to a darker shade, we have set many miles between us and home today.
"Gilmore, this looks like a good place to stop for the night," Tina says.
I nodded in agreement as we drove our wagon to the side of the road. Tina jumped down to unhook the horses and led them to a tree as I pulled the wagon next to them. Then I cast the thorn growth around us, the thorn bushes shoot through the dirt and wrap around us and the tree. I break a small hole in the dirt. Tina places some wood into the hole as I cast sunlight to create a small fire. We sit next to the fire, eat dry meat, and drink soothing mint tea. We talked for hours, laughing and telling jokes. As the hour grew late, we became tired. A pair of red eyes peered at us through the bushes. At first, there was only one pair, but slowly one became twenty.
"Tina, I fear we're not alone," I said, slowly standing up and readying my staff. Tina grabbed her axes.
"On three then?" Tina nodded in agreement.
I said "One... Two... Three"
I dropped the thorn wall, making sure there was room for us to step out. Blood-red eyes ran out at us. Tina rushed to meet the scaly beasts with her axes in hand. I cash in a thorn whip and throw them into the air. Watching them flail around and knocking a few down with my staff as Tina cleaved them into pieces. We managed to hold our own until an army of hobgoblins came out of nowhere. I deal with the few that came after me straight away, I notice they started going after Tina. I'm pinned down at this point, forced to watch. Tina throws her axes at him, pulling the Bone Splinter.
"Come at me," Tina screams, paring his attacks fairly well with her new weapon. I could add
Seeing her fight helps me find my strength. My fingers become claws, my pale skin covered in thick brown fur. My face turns into something inhuman. I raise myself from the dirt and bite into the hobgoblins, chopping them in half and leaving unhealable wounds with my beastly claws. I chase with a bestial roar. I look over to see the hobgoblin stabbing at Tina; she barely makes it out of the way. She swings her hammer, but the shield of the hobgoblin is far too strong. He cuts her arm, then her leg. His blade, moving like a swift wind, was almost invisible even with our dark vision.
Tina's anger takes hold of her, and she screams at the goblin. Tina's anger takes hold of her and screams at the hobgoblin: "I'm Tina Kin Slayer, Daughter of Elk Killer, Lo'Gosh."
Tina raises her hammer and brings it down on his shield one more time, and breaks it down. She then swings at his left knee, his face pales as every bone in his leg-breaks like glass dropping from a table and hitting the floor. He kneels to her and tries to speak. Before he can finish the words, Bree... His head becomes nothing more than a red mist in the night air. Tina joins me in my hunt, bashing, ripping, and shopping every last hobgoblin that's tried to murder us in the last half an hour.
While we leave dead body after dead body in our wake, there are only two that remain. My wild shape has worn off, my mana is at the end of the night. With my last might, I cast a thorn whip and grab the last goblin. As my thorns wrap around their neck, whatever life was in their body had left.
"Tina, leave that one alive," I said.
Tina has a goblin down to one leg, for he met a similar fate as his.
"Why in the bloody hell should I," Tina asks.
I turn to the small fearful thing, leaning close to his face. She whispered in his ear: "Tell Kahl'ke, rens tam fear sep children za Lo'Gosh, Elk Killer." (Tell your friends to fear the children of Lo'Gosh, Elk Killer)
'Now run before I change my mind,' I said
I stood up to Tina and said, "It'll be dawn soon." "We should round up the bodies and throw them into the wagon. We'll get a lot of gold for all this bloodshed."
"Tina, please prepare the horses?" I ask as I lift the headless bodies to the back of the wagon.
"We have to treat the wound so that it does not draw hungry animals," I say. "I will take care of it later, I will drive. We're not too far from the next city." "I remember seeing a sign last night," I tell Tina.
"Right, what was it called again?" Tina asks as I pull the wagon around.
"It said Windbrook, I think," I answer
I climb to the back of the wagon and look around. The cover of the wagon has shelves held by the rigging. Small clay pots fit in. I wonder: Do I need the claw of a cat and the root of the butch, right?
I grab a handful of each herb and a bit of soil for our garden. I then put the herbs and dirt into a mortar, then grab some spiced rum. I rub my neck wound with the rum to clean it out, which helps prevent the flesh from rotting. At the moment, I have to mix it with a good glop of pine sap to seal it. I slowly and carefully add it to my neck, making sure I give it time to air dry. That's done, so I'm moving up the wagon, only stopping at the food stock long enough to grab some dried meat, a small loaf of bread with homemade jam, and two glass flasks of mead.
"Here," I said to Tina as I gave her the flask and a slab of meat.
"Thanks, Gil, I'm starved," Tina replied, scarfing down the meat in one bite.
"Same," I replied, sitting down to break our bread.
Then I laid down the towel once used to wrap the loaf of bread and put it between my sister and me.
"So are we close?" I asked
"It's another hour or so, we might want to stop for a short time. The horses are getting restless and becoming harder to keep on task." Tina replied.
"I agree, we could spare a few minutes to rest. Look, there's a meadow there, let's stop." I tell Tina gleefully.
We pull off the road and pull the beak.
"I'll feed them, Tina, you try to sleep. You will need it," I said.
"I'll make some coffee, I'll rest when we get into town," Tina said.
"If you say so," I replied, getting down from the seat. I make my way around the wagon to grab some horse feed out of the back. A special blend I made working off of our mother's herbal notes. I fill the feed bags and strap them onto the horse, before walking past the treeline to relieve myself. It's been a few hours since the last time we stopped. As I finish what seemed like an endless stream, I hear whining off in the distance. I slowly approached the location where the sound was heard. There I see a small Saber cub, which must have only been a few days old.
Its fur was dark blue and stained with blood. I asked the creature what had happened, but all I could make was a sense of loneliness and sadness that the little thing could not understand. I picked up the cub and walked back to the wagon to take the feed bags off the horses. I returned them to their places on the wagon and grabbed a large water bladder so they could drink a bit. I then took my seat at the helm, looked into the wagon, and there she is cold. I hold the cub close as we drive off. An hour later, we made it to the town of Windbrook and pulled up to the inn.
"Wake up Tina, we're here," I yelled.
"Huh, what? Okay, Gilmore, okay. I will look after the corpses," Tina replies.
"Good, I'm going to see what they've got at the market. I'll be back soon." I told Tina.
Wyvern departs from a large tree whose shadow leads to a nearby tomb. Meanwhile, in a nearby graveyard. I am awake, lost, and confused. I look down at my unclothed body. I see bloody scars that depict ancient symbols. My legs are missing, the right leg missing its foot and lower shin, and my left one is cut off at the upper thigh. I start to panic. I look around, I see some kind of tomb. There is writing on the walls that match the symbols on my body. I sit up, I see a strange glow coming to my missing limbs as transparent bones and flesh appear. I rub my eyes, hoping I am hallucinating and seeing things. I notice missing fingers on my left hand. I scream in the mythic of my anger at the stone door, it turns to dust. I hold no magic that can undo this. I scramble to my newly formed feet, I run as I have never run before. I made it out of the grave, which was sure to become my prison. I look down at my body again, my skin is pale blue, and my upper chest looks strange. I'm afraid. My tail is still there, and my horns are a little chipped, but relatively in one piece.
"Okay, clothes, I need clothes," I said. Stumbling down the street with an arm wrapped around my chest.
I make my way down the road, coming to a small town.
"Maybe I can find something to cover myself with," I mumbled.
I stumble upon a farmhouse, getting as low to the ground as possible, moving my way closer. I can see the family that occupies the home, sitting at their kitchen table eating a meal. I slowly move around the house, looking down to see where I am going. My body becomes transparent, not fully, but enough to shade me. There's no time to figure this out. I grab some pants, and a shirt and make my way out of there before being seen. I ran for what seemed like ten minutes before I reached the little town. I am not fully dressed, I walk a little more casually through the town, so as not to draw attention to myself. I spot an untended wagon, I run towards it jumping into the back. Trying to be as quiet as possible, I search the wagon for food and water. The back of the wagon smells of death and herbs, nonetheless, I continue to dig through barrels to which I find dried meat. I make sure to sit out of sight, munching down on the slab of meat, but the smell of whatever died back here is making me feel sick. I've become nauseous, I let out an ungodly scream that just simply escaped my mouth, but it wasn't a voice that I recognized.
"What was that?" I asked myself.
"Let's get back to the wagon, huh, little one," I say out loud, looking down to see the small cub still in my arms.
When I get to the wagon, I see Tina screaming at something in our wagon.
"Who the bloody hell are you, and why are you in my wagon?" Tina screams.
"I was just looking for something to eat, I'm sorry." The strange creature pleaded with Tina.
"Tina," I shout. "Let me talk to her."
"You're not much of a diplomat, but fine." Tina grunts, storming off into the inn.
"My name is Gilmore, what's yours?" I asked
"I can't remember, the last thing I remember is I was at some kind of school. I then woke up in an old grave, missing my legs with odd markings on me." The creature replied.
"What do you mean, missing your legs?" I asked.
I asked the creature out of confusion. I look down as I see her right leg has been clenched off at the upper thigh.
"How are you standing?" I ask.
"I don't know. I can't remember anything other than the school before blacking out." She replies.
"Please make yourself decent, I'll talk to my sister about staying with us until we can figure out what happened," I told her.
We walked into the inn and sat down at the bar next to my sister. I ordered two ales, and a side of milk, and placed the small cub on the barstool next to me. I handed the barkeep a few extra coins to allow me to do so.
"Tina, she needs our help," I said.
"Oh, I'll help her, right into an early grave," Tina replied angrily.
"You're far too late for that, my dear sister, she was brought back from the brink of death. I recall reading about this in our mother's notes. I think they're called the reborn. This girl is frightened and confused." I explained.
"Fine, Gilmore, but she's your problem, not mine. Just like this damn cub you had to take in. You're always finding lost creatures to care for little brother." Tina said in a snarky voice.
I grab my ale, slamming it down. "Glad you see it my way," I said, removing myself from the bar.
"Please keep an eye on my cat while I smoke. Do you think you can handle that dear sister of mine?" I chuckled as I walked away.
I start to puff on my pipe, pulling the flame of the match close to the herb mix. I think back to what Carter said about the Elk Killer. Why? I ask myself. It would have been better if it was Tina's grip on the handle. I tap out the ash from my pipe and head back inside.
"If you're going to travel with us, you'll need a name and weapon to defend yourself with," I said to the creature. She nodded in agreement and smiled softly at me.
"Fine, then NYX it is," Tina said with a grudge.
"What about weapons or skills? Can you do any magic?" Tina asked.
I think I have some magic. I know I once lived at Bard College, but that was my last memory before I woke up. Whatever happened to me, I gained new abilities. I'm just not sure how they work yet." NYX replied.
"Well, until you figure it out, at least we can be entertained while Gilmore and I do all the work," Tina said with a sense of superiority.
"Let's head back to the market and see what we can get for her," I told Tina, scooping up my saber cub.
The three of us walked out of the inn and headed over to the square. I stayed a few feet behind us holding my new pet as NYX walked around looking for something that would suit her. She passes by a weapon, her eyes glazed over at the sight of a rapier.
"This one," NYX said, looking over at Tina.
"Fine, we'll take that one," Tina replies.
NYX continues to browse the market, coming across a harp. She reaches out for it, vaguely remembering some songs and lyrics from some old hymn.
"Brave warriors rest your head, with the battle near the end. Be restored by grace, make godly hast" NYX says.
"Cute, it can rhyme," Tina says annoyed.
All of a sudden, the town begins to shake as if the ground were being pulled apart somewhere.
"Tina, NYX, ready yourself, it's coming this way," I yell.
I wrap my arm bindings tight, grabbing hold of my staff. I stand firm as my sister stands to my right and NYX to my left. I see two undead half-giants carrying a long thorn, on top of that thorn sat a man. The monsters stop, just tend feet from us, they kneel. Down steps a man with dark reddish skin, hair as white as snow, and eyes of silver. Atop his head sits a circle of horns, he waves his hand in a circular motion. He speaks.
"I am Valena Dugha Eldrige. Son of the hags of Waymarsh." He said.
Then, I see it hovering over him. Some kind of large bird, but what is that glow coming from it?
"Move," I shout. "It's an Eldrige blast, lookout."
The ray rips through the ground, leaving a wake of smoldering ash. I answered the attack of the bird with one of my own. Raising my hand into the air, and calling thunder down on his raptor. A massive bolt of blue light strikes the bird to the ground.
"Gaven," Valena yells, leaping forward.
He stands before us now, seeming taller than me. I drop my wrappings, forcefully pinning them in place. Valena jumps into the air while one of his thugs attempts to take me down. I engulf the skeletal monster in vines, rendering it useless. I swing my staff with as much strength as possible against the side of the monster's head. It reaches the warlock, knocking him down. Tina ran towards our downed adversaries with her axes ready, but before she could cleve them asunder, one of the other skeletal half-giants used his club-like arms to absorb the forces of her axes, pushing her back with a powerful shove.
NYX catches Tina, helping her back to her feet. This increases Tina's speed and reflexes. I step in front of Tina and our new companion. I slam my fist into the dirt, letting out a ground pound, and opening the ground. Unfortunately, this only slows down the animal, its legs now trapped under the earth. I ready my staff again, trying to strike down the unnatural creature. The creature catches my staff mid-swing, wrenching it away from me, breaking it before my eyes.
"That was my mother's staff". I scream, rage filling within me.
I slam my flat palms against its skull, the creature lets out a deathly scream. I match it with a scream of my own, imitating the enemies around us. Then, not even a second later, the skull of the monster was nothing more than dust. My hands met in the absence of space.
"NYX, Tina, go after him. I'll deal with his peons." I scream.
Tina dashes after him, swinging the bone splinter at his ribs. NYX rushed just behind Tina, the creature casting a spell to defend herself, slowing down Tina's attack. She steps back to avoid the hammer, but NYX leaps in kicking him down. She seems to be trapped for good. The half-giant begins to move toward his master to recast the thorn whip and drag it back to me. IT claws at the dirt, screaming for his master to save it, but there would be no salvation for it. I draw my blade from my waistband, impunity it with light, releasing a swarm of mold and fungus onto the poor animal, leaving it trapped as its skeletal frame is rapidly devoured. Suddenly, the sky darkens, the air becomes heavy and thunder roars. A blot of red lightning whipped out of the sky, crashing against the earth facing us.
"Sssssssssoooo, the daughter awakened?" The hags asked.
"Yes, it took only 30 years," the hags replied.
"What about me as a true heir?" asked Valena.
"Lies," the desolate mythical voice said. As NYX and Valena rose into the air, their arms stretched out as if they were being crucified.
"You are both mere objects of power for us. You can raise the dead, poor, both living flesh, bound with a haunted, power-starved fragment of a lich that is too powerful to release, but too weak to escape alone." The hags laugh.
The hags let out several terrible screams. All I could hear was the sounds of their bones breaking, their skin tearing, tendons snapping under pressure. Their necks begin to stretch, the conjoined bodies begin to bloat, their bodies balloon, and the bones continue to pierce through their flesh. Tendrils of muscle tissue slowly spread from bone to bone, piece by piece, and turn into something far from human. Spikes from the spinal column slash at their necks straight down their back. A larger unfinished limb forms into a tail and continues to bleed. More barbed bones unmercifully stifle their way through the skin.
Their arms and legs rip at the seams, the muscles outgrow the skin tissue, and the bones of their nine limbs expand effortlessly. They are growing more and more, the only thing louder than snapping their bones is ripping their flesh. The terrible screams that come from each of them send out a blast of abyssal forces that create a Borealis of black and purple hue. After each scream, the energy begins to fade, the sky begins to clear. Their massive limbs devastate the grounds below, screaming out in pain again. A final but deadly set of spikes pokes through the flesh, followed by a steady slender of biomass, the terrible abomination bleeding from every infected cut on the body.
NYX, Tina, and I retreat in laughter and relief. Throwing hi-fives, giggles, and hugs at each other. As we leave, we give the hags a last look. I throw my hammer in honor of our first, but certainly not our last battle. For I am Gilmore the Pale, and this is my story.
About the Creator
Amanda Seaton is a 38 year old Content Creator from Wisconsin. She obtained her BS in Criminal Justice and Homeland Security from Herzing University in 2013 and her MS in Criminal Justice and Forensics from Capella University in 2014.
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