“My heart raced… bump bada bump bada bump… I listened intently knowing my very survival rested on my keen ears, sharp senses, and luck. The seconds ticked by as I waited in silence… bump bada bump bada bump. Then suddenly right be hind me the beast leapt!” Thomas leapt to his feat in one deft move giving out a terrifying screech. The children screamed in delight as they were held in rapt attention by the storyteller. “It’s body was massive, rippling with muscle and sinew, it’s fur thick and rough, it’s beak long and sharp. And it’s eyes…” He paused for dramatic effect. “showed the desire for blood… my blood. I ducked just in time as a claw tore through the air above my head. I rolled…” he rolled through the crowd of children, but there wasn’t enough room in the tiny wagon and he ended up bowled over a crate. The children laughed as he struggled to right himself. With a big smile he continued. “ yes, but more gracefully than that, and leapt up to a branch of a tree just above me. And none too soon! The great owl bear charged after me and nearly took my head clean off.” He drew his finger across his throat.
“What did you do?” asked a child
“The only thing I could. I climbed.”
“but can’t owl bears climb trees?” asked another child
“who’s telling this story? you or me? Yes Owlbears can climb trees and this one did. As I climbed up a branch his claw would mark right where I had been. He gained on me. He kept coming, and coming. I had reached the top of the tree, in the very week braches, and still the owl bear almost had me. It reached for me with it’s great claw, fresh with blood. I pulled away as far as I could, but it stretched father, until he had almost reached my throat. But then, when almost all hope was lost, there was a crack, and then another crack, and another! The tree limbs gave way under the owl bear and he fell all the way to the ground. WHUMP!” Thomas flopped himself down among the children.
“Was the Owlbear killed?”
“Of course not. A great beast like that couldn’t die from a mere fall. The beast got up shook himself off and walked away. Some say he died of his wounds, but I think he’s still out there waiting for his next prey to come along… much like YOU!” Thomas grabbed one of the children who squealed in delight.
“OK children. It’s getting late in the day, you don’t want your mothers worrying about you. Best be getting home.”
“please one more.”
With much wining and groaning the children left out the back of the wagon, running to their various mothers and fathers. Such was the life on the caravan.
Mendicant frowned, the actual story wasn’t so nice. He was young, inexperienced, and had gotten too close to an Owlbear’s nest. The creature had attacked, but Thomas couldn’t get out of the way in time, and with a last ditch effort had killed the Owlbear with a sword previously belonging to another Owlbear victim. That’s how he had found Alasse and she had propelled him down this road he was on. He griped Alasse’s hilt with affection.
He had disliked seeing such a magnificent creature die, but then again the animal world, the world he loved, was not so nice. He pulled out some dried meat the merchant had given him and a tin cup which he filled with water from his wineskin. He sat back and smiled at Oleander, his trusted donkey, who was tied up at the back of the wagon. He would have to feed and water her soon, but first he would feed and water himself. He took a big bite out of the hunk of meat he had. He looked back over his shoulder at the merchant who was sharing his wagon with him. He was an good man by anyone’s definition. He hoped that nothing bad would befall him.
The other man, on the other hand, was much more interesting. He was withdrawn yet spoke with an air of royalty heard only among the great Enthelm courts. He was not from Entmark, that was for certain. He wore strange mail, consisting of a single chain shirt polished to a shine. He was armed for war, carrying three bastard swords on his back, one of which was clearly magical, and two short swords on his belt. he carried a holy symbol he had never seen. And if all this didn’t give it away, he carried a Babble Amulet. Babble Amulets are a primary export of Entmark, Given the proper spell, Babble Amulets allows the wearer to speak and understand whatever language was cast into the amulet. This one was apparently Entmarkian. But what interested Thomas the most about the stranger was the mantle he carried on his breast. The one depicting a Gold Dragon.
Thomas loved Dragons. Probably from the time he was pulled from the Entwine river bearing nothing but a basket and a name printed upon his swaddling cloth. His adopted mother and father were serfs to the Arcane God-King Butya Gronth of Hedon and he was always skipping his many chores to look for exotic animals in the hills or listen to Old Man Juntk!a’s songs and tales. But his favorite tales were always that of Dragons. He longed to see one, talk to one. So much so in fact that his parents finally gave in and sold him to Juntk!a for a measly price. Under Juntk!a he learned songs, tales, and the sword. When the bug bear incident happened he took it as a sign to start his quest to find a dragon. He packed his stuff and with a few parting gifts from his Master he joined this caravan heading north.
Thomas looked up at the “Windswept Wall,” the mountain range to the north. It looked foreboding, but the ancient tale that Junk!a used to tell said that a dragon of great power used to live in these mountains.
And as luck would have it an Arcane Gifted with great knowledge is searching the windswept wall right now. Thomas had written him and asked for assistance. Sionass, for that was his name, had responded and asked, in return for all his knowledge on Dragons, that Thomas perform a small task at his home on the windswept wall. It was in a little town named Mubam’we. That had been four months ago.
Mendicant sighed and gathered up his feed and water for Oleander. Wherever he was heading at least there would be Adventure.