Jane Lampion

Truliso, as he began to test his wings, grunted in approval. It wouldn’t be long until he could fly. But for the moment, he could not actually communicate with the party. Still, he crawled on the ground with them in order to assent to their help and the whelp believed that he could relay his message through them.

Sheila Nesta, having received her 100 Gold Pieces for the work, set off for Jane Lampion’s house with them. She led the way, as the party continued into the untapped wilderness. Jane had spent many years in the Cardia Islands studying dragons in their natural habitat. She was a woman who knew dragonite and could speak with them and hear their sounds in translation. Her house was just beyond the city walls of Marginalia.

They approached a dark green house that seemed to blend into the forest wall beyond it. There was a fire in the fireplace, and smoke curled up from the chimney. A dogbeast was sleeping on the porch. Poxig knocked on the oak door, which was weathered with age. The unkempt garden at the foot of the door had flowers of blue and yellow, and showed that someone was indeed inhabiting the cabin.

An elderly woman with long hair answered the door. “Yes?” she muttered.

“we’re looking for Jane Lampion, the dragon scholar,” said Poxig.

“Oh, yes, please come in. I’m her mother Janis, Jane is my daughter. She’s in back.”

Janis fixed some coffee while the three waited in the drawing room. All of the pictures on the wall were dusty images of Jane’s travels in Cardia. A giant painting of a dragon was on the rear wall. Jane had labeled all of the essential body parts of the dragon with scientific accuracy. The furniture looked time-worn, and it seemed to need mending in the upholstery. Papers were strewn about the entire household.

“Please don’t mind the mess,” said Janis. “I haven’t done housework since my husband died.”

“It doesn’t mattter,” said Tefl. “Please tell your daughter that we’re here to see her.”

“She’ll be out in a minute,” said Janis.

After about five minutes, a diminutive woman about five feet tall emerged from the back room. She wore a long tattered red and white dress and a yellow ribbon in her mousey-brown hair. She peered at them through thick lenses.

“Greetings. Do I know you?” Jane asked.

“No, probably not. But we have come here on special business. We’re the warriors of the prophecy, and we have a dire issue. We heard that you can communicate with dragons,”

“I don’t study dragonite language anymore,” she said. “You’re wasting your time.”

Nesta interrupted. “This is maybe the only time that you may have a chance to change history. The message is urgent. Our dragon, Truliso, was trying to reach the circle of sages with the message, but he was taken down by human arrows.”

“Let me see the dragon,” Jane said.

They took her outside to the far end of the forest glade. There, Truliso waited for the party to return. Jane began her attempt to reach him. She put her hand on his snout and began to chant:

“Salvete, dicite nomini tuo.”

Amazingly, the dragon heard her and began to speak.

Lampion: the dragon whisperer

The Journeywoman mage

The master sage of some repute had tried to dissuade his niece, but could not alter her conviction. Sheila Nesta was on tenterhooks to put her healer skills to some use, and she was very intent on trying it out, for better or for worse. Sage Barry doffed his conical red sages cap in bafflement. After some cajoling on the part of Sheila, sage Barry agreed to let her take the job.

After meeting them at the Procope, she left with the two warriors. All in a matter of time, they took her aside and told her of the secret mission to inform the Naughright guild of the Earthlink, a secret bridge to the floating continent where the criminals and blackguard dragons had set up their own government.

“Truliso is an emissary for Bamut, the dragonite king,” said Poxig.

“I’m not sure some hocus-pocus is going to help the dragon whelp, but his mission to inform the Naughright guild of the Earthlink is dire,” said Tefl.

“Are you saying that the Earthlink is imminent?” asked Nesta.

“We don’t know,” said Poxig. “But it is very important to heal the dragonite emissary so that he can continue on this mission. In fact, we were on our way to the holy guild in order to make our case that the ORBs could be lit again, and the light warriors vanquish the imp infestation caused by Garlang and his renegade knights.”

Sheila Nesta almost could not believe her ears. She knew of dragons, but she had never actually seen one. As the party of three ventured outside of the city walls, they could hear the cries of the dragon whelp in the clearing, who was moaning and growling in pain. They came upon Truliso, and the situation was more dire than expected. The dragon could hardly move, the wounds of the human arrow attack still fresh and bleeding profusely.

“Can you help us?” asked Poxig.

“I will try,” said the white mage.

She put a magic salve on Truliso’s wounds. Then, she mumbled an incantation which appeared to be Latin. Afterwards, a magic circle with a Latin cross appeared around the dragon. Tongues of fire and smoke came up burning the arrow shafts away, and then gradually the wounds began to close up, and the bleeding ceased. As the magic Latin cross disappeared, only the scars of the wounds remained where the arrows had been.

The level 3 magic spell had done its work. Tefl stood dumbfounded, since he had never seen such magic at work. Although he was still a skeptic of the magic arts, he could not but acknowledge the power of such magic. His father Lent had always taught him that magicians were charlatans, but he had to admit of the validity of Nesta’s healing arts.

After she had healed the dragon whelp, she tried to speak to Truliso but could not. They would need to go to the dragon whisperer, Jane Lampion, in order to decode the message to the wizard’s guild. The party of four went through the thick, deep, woods in order to seek the help of Jane, and perhaps, decode the message that was to go to the Naughright guild. In order not to be discovered, Truliso walked on the ground behind them instead of flying through the airspace.

Sheila Nesta uses level 3 magic

The Search

Tefl was cleaning his teeth with a small penknife, for they had just had a meal of roasted pheasant at the Procope, a local restaurant in Gaia. He waited there for Poxig, and saw that he would be waiting for a long time. Poxig had gone in search for a new penknife, but they turned the search to someone who could bring Truliso back from the brink of death. The two warriors advanced to the white magic guild, in hopes of finding a white mage who could help their dragonite friend. They walked in the oak door of the guild, not sure what 100 gold pieces would buy them, if anything at all.

The sage who met their gaze questioned them first.

“Who disturbs the sanctity of this magician’s sanctuary?” he asked.

“If everything is equal, I must say that I don’t take much stock in magic,” said Tefl.

“Then, all things being equal, good day sir!” said the elderly sage.

“No. Please wait. My friend did not mean to offend you sir,” offered Poxig, “The truth is, my friend and I are in dire need of a healer, sir, and we were told that white mages work here for hire…”

“How much do you have there, my green-faced friend?”

“We could offer you 100 Gold Pieces,” returned Poxig.

“My dear elf!” laughed the sage with a bellow. “That’s not enough gold to hire a magician for two hours!”

Just then, there was a rustle behind the curtain that obscured the way to the rear of the mage’s guild. “‘Nuncle! My uncle Barry!” and a lovely trim red-haired woman dressed in a white raiment emerged from the curtain, “who will pay 100 gold?” she asked.

Sage Barry tried to quiet the young woman. “Pay no attentiion to her! She’s just my hard-headed niece.”

The woman seemed familiar to Poxig. She had long red hair, blue eyes, and lips of cherry-red. Her nails were painted bright red. She wore a white cloak with a red hair barrette. He eyes sparkled with the glint of a great magician. She was plucky, with a tom-boyish enthusiasm. No doubt she was still a journeywoman mage, but she impressed Poxig with her homespun turns of phrase.

“I’m still trying to get my first post. I’ll take the pay and help you. I’ve only been in healing school for one year, but I can probably help you with your medical needs,” she said.

“What is your name?” asked Poxig.

“Sheila Nesta,” she replied, “nice to make your acquaintance.”

“I am Poxig Excelsior, and this is Tefl Broadsword.”

“I have some experience as a tutor of white magic,” she said, “and I throw in the sass free of charge.”

Sheila Nesta winked with her long lashes. She was in perfect form, as a feminine ideal, she could not help but attract the attention of Tefl. Her beauty could be a snare to men of a certain age, but Tefl had learned to keep such vixens at a certain distance. Still, it was possible that the two friends took a chance on the neophyte mage because of her charm and pluckiness. It was unusual to find a healer with such appealing character traits. Sage Barry reluctantly let her go on this mission, but he gave them a disclaimer about her general ability in these matters.

The party of three left the mage’s guild, and they stopped at a cafe in Gaia called the Procope. They sat at a table to discuss. Tefl ordered tea, Poxig coffee, and Sheila plain water.

“We have a proposition. We will give you the money once you complete the task,” said Tefl.

“But didn’t you say you are light warriors?” asked Sheila. “Surely you have more means than that.”

“Looks can be deceiving,” said Poxig. “The truth is that I am the guardian of the ORB. The king has yet to recognize us and send us on our mission.”

“Well… who needs healing services,” asked Sheila.

“There is a dragon whelp in the forest glade not far from here,” whispered Poxig.

“A dragon? You can’t be serious! I thought they were only a myth of my ancestors.”

“Yes, and he bears some important information, that must get to the king,” said Poxig.

“We need a healer to restore the dragon back to full health,” said Tefl.

“I’ve only practiced on humans, and one gnome. I can’t guarantee that I will be able to heal the dragon whelp,” Sheila said.

“We need you to try,” said Poxig. “If the dragon whelp dies, there will be terrible consequences for the human race, and by a corrolary, elven kind.”

The two confabulated like this for some time, and then Sheila Nesta agreed to go with them in order to try to resolve the problem. She said that she could not use level one magic for this task, but would have to try a level three spell, which she had never yet done. But after they had passed some time at the Procope and paid the bill, they were on their way.

The third light warrior, unbeknownst to the party

Truliso’s gambit

The time transpired slowly, and the students of the dragonite language puzzled over his weird dialect. The forest masked them from intruders, as imps could possibly be around the corner. The chirruping of the suzukibs was deafening. Even Er. Seljuk, the Marginalian emissary, would have abhorred the monstrous noise. Tefl was not quite as known for his patience. Then, Tefl inquired about Bamut, the dragon king.

“Does Bamut know that the prophecy is about to be fulfilled?” asked Tefl.

“Bamut suspects that it is so. He who stopped the religious wars can surely tell the fulfillment of the prophecy,” said Truliso.

“But surely this was a lie,” Poxig thought to himself. Only the king of Marginalia has an extant copy of this document, written in the tablet of days. If only they could get access to it! But they would have to infiltrate the castle keep, which was no easy task. In any case, to take any stock in what the dragon whelp said was a mistake.

They asked Truliso to put in a good word for them when they saw the dragonite clan again. There was a great likelihood that the dragon would be attacked by humans again, since they were largely misunderstood. Dragons were subject to the same moral forces as humans. Some of them knew magic arts, and dark and light magic.

“Then, what is your mission?” asked Tefl.

“I must reach the circle of sages and tell them that the prophecy is about to be fulfilled,” said Truliso.

“But your wound is still bleeding,” exclaimed Poxig. “You’ll never make it!”

“I have to reach the sages with a secret message from the dragon king, or all will be lost.”

Tefl and Poxig could not tell if the dragon whelp was being duplicitous, but they had to act on faith. Without proper medical attention, Truliso would surely die. The only option was to search for a healer in the nearby town of Gaia. If one could be found, the dragon could continue on its mission, but without the help of the young heroes, it would be a lost cause.

As they traipsed through the forest, they had to scout for imps and make sure that there was no threat to their new acquaintance. Tefl was still without a sword, and Poxig remembered that they were still very much in danger because of imp raids. Many of the nearby villages had been burnt, and Excelsior could have had the same fate had there not been the royal guard to defend it.

“We mustn’t tell anyone about Truliso,” Tefl said, “or else they will form a search party and kill him.”

“Agreed,” said Poxig.

They went to Gaia proper, and could see the great tower of Marchion looming before the hamlet below. The people of Gaia were peace loving, but depended on the power of the earth to protect them. Since the earth had been rotting, their vulnerability to attack had become likely. As they went in the city gates and paid the toll, they immediately went in search of a mage who was skilled and gifted in the healing arts. Of course, this sort of magic was light, while the black arts were not known to them. Tefl admitted to Poxig that although he didn’t believe in magic, if anyone could actually heal the dragon, he would be persuaded.

As they stopped by the butcher’s and the baker’s, they acquired necessary provisions. Tefl bought an inexpensive sword from the weapons dealer, and gave his shepherd’s crook to Poxig. He named the short sword after his aunt Broomhilda.

Poxig knew that most of the townsfolk of Gaia were concentrated on the grosser elements of life, and very few were educated or had subtle thoughts. These people shouted in their faces to buy and sell rather than to heed the quiet words of the wise.

“12 GP for a mask!” shouted one vendor.

“2 GP for a loaf of bread!” shouted another.

How they would find a white mage in all of this mess was subject to dispute. Tefl began to get wrapped up in the madness, and he was almost willing to depart with his last 10 GP. But he had to have some means to hire the white witch that they would find in the magician’s guild.

Truliso the dragon whelp

Truliso

They repaired to the center of the wilderness in silence. Poxig was in the habit of counting his steps, since the heroes were deep in enemy territory. They would have to be extra careful if they wanted to elude the gryphons that inhabited these parts. Tefl lay down on the ground and began to pray to master control. He did not know how he would defend himself with only a cloak and staff. He put a finger to his mouth to hush Poxig. He could already hear the imp cotillion advancing in the woods, and it sounded like they were headed for them.

“Let us go now to the cave beneath the cataract! That is the only place that we can be safe from these demonic hordes,” said Tefl.

Tefl ushered his friend to the safety of the cavernous reaches. Outside of the rushing of the waterfalls, they could hear the advance of Garlang’s army. They were petrified, but they mustered some courage. Unless the enemy knew of their whereabouts, they would be completely unharmed.

They decided to stay the night there, without a fire because of fear that it would give their position away. They had to reach the Naughright guild by daybreak, and they knew that their foes would be on the lookout for any disturbance.

“I have been to the circle of sages before,” said Tefl. “I could by no means reach the inner circle. But I was headstrong and young.”

Poxig spent that cold night thinking about his options. Maybe with Tefl, he would be able to infiltrate the circle and at least find the source of the ORB’s power.

When the morning came, they set out for Naughright, and they were careful not to alert even the squirrels as to their presence. The sun shone in the sky overhead, and the wind bellowed through the trees. They cloaked themselves as they approached the city walls of Naughright. While they were on their way to the entrance, they heard a strange sound, like the screeching of a bat, and the rustling of leaves. There, right in front of them, was a dragon whelp, no larger than the size of a small horse. The dragon, moaning, called out.

“Oh! Oh me!”

“Who be you?” asked Tefl.

“I am Truliso,” he said, “and who are you?”

“We are poor wanderers on our way to Naughright. I am Tefl Broadsword, and this is my companion, Poxig of Excelsior,” said Tefl.

“I am also on my way to Naughright” the beast barked. “I have been sent from the Cardia Islands. It has been a long flight to here.”

“I knew a girl named Jane Lampion who had visited the islands. They are inhabited by dragons, but much larger than your size,” said Tefl.

“Well, then you must know that they sent me to find a way to the wizard’s guild, for it’s time for the prophecy to be fulfilled,” roared Truliso.

“Do you know of the light warriors?” asked Poxig.

“I have come from Cardia to meet them! I have important instructions from the king of dragons, Ramut.”

The knight withdrew from his knapsack a loaf of bread. He put it before the dragon who greedily ate it. In exchange for the snack, Truliso agreed to tell them the dragonite prophecy: a poem. He told them that he had been wounded by a human who shot him with an arrow, but he had survived and flown thus far. His goal was to take the poem further than the reaches of the island as a messenger to read the prophecy.

The earth is rotting; the seas is wild,

As dragons call to sages in the guild,

Time is out of sorts, and chaos looms amidst

The forests of Elvira, the chosen one sits

Among the holy four, who can go beyond

The pale of the floating continent, and along

The place where the Earthlink reaches the sky

The chosen four will atone for the sins of mankind.

Tefl feeds Truliso

Poxig and Tefl journey into the wilderness

Poxig began his excursion into the untapped wilderness with Tefl the knight errant close by. The unbroken verdure between here and the Naughright guild could be retained in the imagination for only a moment. So much potentiality existed for this range of forested countryside. He could not hope to reach the guild without days of fasting and prayer, but he was determined to do so. The wilderness was both the source of elven strength, and the place where gnomes and imps could take someone by surprise. In all his travels, he stopped to admire the primacy of nature.

“Tis an edification of the heart to look upon this!” said Tefl solemnly.

“I concur. But what imps could ruin our vista concerns me about,” replied Poxig.

“I have always believed that all of our ills can be solved by nature and a meditation of its truth,” returned Tefl.

“Still, this land bears great sorrows. We will have to find succor at some point,” said Poxig.

The heroes ventured deep into the wilderness, in search of the trail that would lead them to the Naughright guild. They were both struck with uncertainty, but remained focused on their ultimate goal. The trees resounded with support from the blowing of their leaves to their chanting in unison.

‘Ballo’

The Greek word for ‘throw’ was necessary for them to hear. Only to throw themselves into this project, to cast aside all aspersions, to venture forth in courage, all of these virtues would be needed to vanquish the foe: Garlang of the Temple mount.

Tefl Broadsword

A little insight into process

I recorded a vlog of my illustrations and writing process last month for a class that I’m teaching. I decided to try to vlog more of this story as a way to reach out to readers. This is an attempt to WordPress this, and see if I get more likes on this particular format.

If you’re an illustrator and looking for work, I’m always open to someone coming in and revamping the illustrations. I do them all myself, but they are not graphic-novel quality. I would like for a pro illustrator to help me with the visualization part of this novel.

I typically work by longhand, because I think that it makes my work more organic. Then, I transcribe what I have written by hand, editing as I go. This allows me to frequently change the plot line when I need to, such that the story is more malleable than it is if I type it out first.

I almost always do an illustration with each post, but this is slowly coming to an end. I have to get at least 100 pages more of the sequel, TEFL. But I find that working for an hour at a time, daily, helps with this whole process. I recently had to throw out most of a notebook because of the ignoring of several plot points.

I also keep an outline of how I think I’m going to weave the story. I call this journal ‘Superplots.’ This has all of the twists and turns in the hero’s journey before they happen in longhand. Then, I edit this at the macro level first, so that I don’t have to throw out large portions later.

If writers are reading this, please comment as to your process. That would be helpful to me, and I promise to respond.

Poxig and Theriot

Once he had conferred with Chris White the sage, he set off for the Ladimore mountains to reach the circle of sages, otherwise known as the Naughright guild. It was a guild of wizards and sages alike, a clandestine force for light magic. It was also these wizards who could confer upon Poxig a sense of credibility as the guardian of the ORB.

While he ambled through the forest, he encountered a halfling with red hair. His pudgy face was round and red. His jerkin was down to his waist over a rustic leather overalls. Poxig never met such a scruffy looking fellow. He was armed with a bow and arrow, and so Poxig was a bit startled.

“Ho there. I thought you were a deer!”

“Yes, well I could see why you would make that distinction.”

“Your green skin blends in so well with the forest! I might have shot you by accident! You have to be more careful!”

“Yes, of course.”

“I am Theriot, my village is just east of here. We are running out of food, and so we are hunting miles from the village.”

“I know the problem of which you speak. I am on a mission to solve the evil of the earth’s rot. It is for this reason that the animals of the forest do not have food, and so they go south to forage.”

“It is not the halfling way to be disputatious. We are a kind that lives close to the land. What will become of my village if we can no longer eat the sweetroot? The saplings are dying.”

“I am the guardian of the ORB. The ORB in the hands of a light magician can solve the calamity of which you speak. But first we must find the cause of this great evil and stop it.”

Theriot’s belief had not caught up with the impending reality of this threat.

“You mean to tell me…”

“You must suspect the worst, my dear friend. Even the friends of the king are at risk.”

“Then, I will accompany you to the farther reaches of the Ladimore mountains. Past there, we will meet the destiny that Releven seeks.”

He had never heard the name of his god amongst the lips of a foreigner. It had surprised him that Releven’s fame had reached this far.

Chris White’s proposal

Poxig beheld his true self in the mirror. It was a blurry spectral presence, which reminded him of his father. But he couldn’t help but ignore his red eyes, which was the evil that still dwelt within. He could not bear to look but for a few moments, and then turned away. He thought that he was impervious to evil, but the magic mirror had revealed that even he could bend to such a nefarious force.

Chris White stroked his beard in response to Poxig’s silence. He knew that Poxig would probably be the most unlikely hero, if indeed he was capable of greatness. Clearly, his attachment to legends was a liability. But Poxig had a heart that exceeded even the humans in Marginalia. He certainly could be counted on, but did not have anything in the way of brute strength or magical talent.

The magic mirror had indeed shown the dark side that Poxig did not want to face. If he were ever to aspire to the guardianship of the ORB, he would have to acknowledge this darker half and fight against it. Chris White knew better. He knew that the darker side, that is visible only to demons, exists within every heart of man and elf. Only the beasts were morally neutral. “We are all combinations of dark and light,” White stated emphatically.

“Well, I’ve never thought…”

“Never mind what you’ve thought. Everyone winces at the image in the magic mirror. To see your true self is a harrowing process, but each hero must know the good and evil that dwells within. The evil you face…”

“But what if…?”
White interrupted him. “The evil you face is more threatening than you can imagine. You must try to vanquish the source of the earth’s rot. But only the Naughright guild can ordain you to accomplish this task. You must win their approval.”

“And if they reject me?”

“That is a scenario that you must not acknowledge. You have been entrusted with the ORB. Somewhere, the other three ORBS exist. Those heroes and heroines have their own monsters to slay. You have your own. But nary an elf has ever had the heart that you have. Now that you know your true self, go forth. I give you this letter of recommendation to take to the guild. Take it and go, and do not turn to the left or the right.”

“I will be going then,” Poxig said boldly. “But what if I meet trolls on the way.”

“Your penknife has protected you thus far. It will suffice. It is your wit that is your true ally, not a sword and shield,” said White.

Poxig braced himself for the long journey ahead to the Naughright guild. It was there that he would receive the approval of the magicians who guided the forces of dark and light. White had agreed to accompany so far as the golden gate, but there Poxig would have to speak for himself as the guardian of the ORB.

Poxig, undeterred

The old sage

As Poxig fled the premises, he darted near the wood. The king’s guard followed close behind, raising their halberds towards the sky. They began to close in on him, and Poxig clung to the orb tighter. Then, he heard a voice come from the wood, “Enter here, young fellow!” There was a trapdoor in the roots of a tree.

Poxig hurried down the hatch, which closed behind him. There was an old man in a scarlet coat and a conical red hat. He sat in an enormous chair that was gnarled and ornate like an old tree. Poxig stopped to catch his breath. The old man spoke with a booming voice full of resonance.

“You need not worry about them. They can’t find us here.”

Poxig could hardly believe that he had escaped with the orb. Perhaps Releven had acknowledged his plight and provided an out to this dilemma. He knew that if he was found, the king would throw him in the castle dungeon again.

“Welcome, young elf, I have expected your coming.”

“What? How can that be?”

“The sages can use clairvoyance to perceive the future.”

“Why should I believe you?”

“Trust me. The destiny you seek can only be found with the aid of the circle.”
“The circle? What is that?”

“They are the guild of Naughright. They determine the fate of soldiers and wizards of yore.”

Poxig could not retain his skepticism. But he was glad to be away from the king’s guard. There was no reason to doubt the old sage, but he was still unfamiliar in this underground passage. It was warm and inviting, but everywhere along the walls were byzantine bookshelves, with thousands of colorful volumes. Field mice wandered in the dark recesses of the cavern.

“Why did you rescue me?”

“You can’t understand the omen of Naughright. The guild can see calamities before they are borne.”

“So in some strange way, we were destined to meet?”
“Precisely. You are the bearer of the sacred orb. That sphere contains incredible power that can be used for good or for ill. Master Control knew that you would need guidance in its use. I have come to help you become the elf that you are destined to be. But in order to be a true guardian of the orb, you must confront your true self. Most men, when confronted with their actual self, run away screaming!”

Poxig had always thought that he had known himself. But he reasoned that Releven probably knew him better than his own self-conception.

“What must I do?”

“Look into this magic mirror, and behold the self that will become the light warrior!”

Poxig was filled with trepidation. But he managed to heed the old man’s call, though he had to fight with his own cowardice. In truth, he didn’t really believe that he could become a light warrior. But he had to face his fear.

White the old sage