The argument

Tefl and Poxig woke that morning with some trepidation that the winter wraiths of the Ladimore mountains would descend. As the first rays of daylight ceded to the afternoon glare, the cold began to make them more cantankerous by the minute. The icy cliffs seemed quite impassable and Truliso for the moment had disappeared from view. As they awoke from their slumber in the icy cliff, they plotted their course back through Nitla Pass to the confines of Marginalia. With the ORB lit, they would have a chance at reaching the king and presenting themselves as the warriors who were to fulfill the prophecy. But the episode with Marty the gatekeeper had made them realize their material lack, and in fact they could not depend on civilized methods to reach their goal. Poxig awoke, as if from a stupor, only wishing that he could return to his days as a bard of old tales. There was no place for music in this regions, and winter wraiths were always tracking them.

“We must advance through Nitla Pass, and back across the Vistula river, said Tefl.

“I beg to differ,” said Poxig after a moment’s pause. “Those roads only lead to peril, and we will surely be overtaken by highwaymen, or worse, winter wraiths.”

“Well, by what authority do you make this decision?” asked Tefl.

“I pray to my god Releven, and he renders decisions that I must follow,” said Poxig.

“Releven is a legend of the elvenfolk, but he is not to be trusted in the time of peril,” said Tefl.

“Think of it this way: suppose we were to make it through Nitla Pass, like we were able to last time. Don’t you think that Darxon will be anticipating for us to use that route? He already knows that we have been to the Naughright guild. Only Releven had a great enough strength to oppose Mithrax at the pass. Our way is fraught with peril and we lack adequate resources to oppose such a force. We must go up Mt. Redoubt through the Renfro Woods. Do you have a better idea?”

“We must needs make our way through with the force that Master Control provides. No visible god can help us. How can you depend on the advice of an Elven legend to lead you in the time of war? Did not you learn of the religion that divided man and elf during the war? We must depend on a force stronger than an Elven myth.”

This severely irked Poxig because he knew of Releven’s protection and favor, but could not make his friend see the danger of returning through Nitla Pass on the King’s road. They had lost nearly all their silver in their expedition to the Silver City, and they would not have recourse to journey in the open where they were subject to taxes and tolls. Also, it was likely that Darxon knew of their path and had posted sentries.

The argument continued between the two companions.

“We must plow through Nitla Pass and face Darxon’s threat head on,” said Tefl.

“I admire your courage. But where did you get that argument?”

“What are you talking about?”

“No man stands alone. He must stand on the shoulders of a giant that has come before,” replied Poxig.

“Master Control bids it.”

“But we cannot stand on the shoulders of an invisible God.”

“Do you have a better idea?”

“Releven was the god that stood against Mithrax at Nitla Pass,” Poxig said.

“And you think that Releven is actually a god?”

“He is the elven diamond, the son of the promise,” replied Poxig.

“And you claim to know this god?” asked Tefl.

“My family has paid obeisance since my youth,” he replied.

“Then, your visible god has told you that we will not be able to defeat the Dark Lord at Nitla Pass?” Tefl asked.

“I am sure of it,” said Poxig.

The argument continued for some time like that, back and forth. No hero could convince the other fully. But in the end, they had to compromise. The party would ascend Mt. Redoubt and press on through the Renfro woods. There were more chances to run into wolves. The trail might be unclear, and the chance of getting lost was likely, but they had to stand on the shoulders of a god that had come before. No invisible God with a half-known prophecy could be trusted to lead them with superior force and courage.

Thanks to Emma Gonzalez for the crayon coloring for this drawing of Poxig and Tefl.

This is Emma I. Gonzalez, the artist (and me with a mask).

The journey through Ladimore

After they had crossed over the blue field gate, Poxig and Nesta appeared at the shoreline of the Crescent Lake. They had experience little discomfort. They had not achieved their aim, but at least had gained the trust of an invaluable ally in sage Luckan. Now with his blessing, they would have to return to the borders of Marginalia, and find enough support to gain access to the king’s chamber. The journey across the Ladimore mountains would not be an easy one. The snowfall on the top of mount Redoubt was so thick as to make it almost impassable.

“What did you find in the interior of the city?” asked Tefl.

“We were introduced to the Naughright guild, but evil forces had infiltrated it. Darxon’s mages voted us down,” replied Poxig.

“I must needs return to Naughright to learn light magic,” said Nesta.

“You will get that opportunity,” said Poxig. “But now it is too dangerous. Darxon’s mages could lead you to calamity.”

“We did make the acquaintance of one sage Luckan,” said Poxig. “He was able to light the ORB for us.”

Poxig showed the four the lit ORB, which was brilliant in all its array.

“Now with the lit ORB, it is possible to gain the attention of the king,” said Poxig.

The party now had to decide what to do with Truliso, and how to preserve the Dragon king’s message. Jane Lampion was able to take care of Truliso, but it was doubtful that she could return to the Cardia Islands. She would have to go as far as Excelsior, and then remain there for the party to return with news of the king’s decision. With the influence of king Charles, and access to the remaining ORBs, it would be possible to thwart the earthlink or at least delay it.

They moved beyond the gradations of the acclivity as they continued through the gloaming. Beyond the reaches of the magic gate’s protection, there was no telling what dangers might confront the party of four. Poxig and Tefl sent Truliso to scout ahead for goblin rangers, which were said to occupy this mountain path. Once they reached the borders of Marginalia, they would have to confront the hordes of imps that were swarming the country. It had now come to their attention through the letter of Christopher White that the imps were loyal only to Garlang and that they were trying to destory the confines of Marginalia city.

“What hope would we have to overcome these goblin rangers without a properly equipped army?” asked Tefl.

“We must rely on Truliso to scout for us. We now have the ORB, which guarantees our entrance into the king’s court.”

The glow of the ORB comforted Poxig. Its reds and blues glint with hints of gold scintilla. He could feel that its aura was protecting them from grave danger. As long as the ORB was lit, they at least had the magical protection of Luckan, which would surround them with a circle of protection of light magic. Darxon’s power could not harm them with the ORB in their possession.

Shiela Nesta’s force with the light magic had begun to accrete from her experience inside the Naughright guild. Her healing powers were now substantially beyond her ability when she had lived at the outpost with her uncle. She would have had a more difficulty turning leaves into healing powder, but some of the remedies that she had learned from the likes of Luckan had made her ability beyond what it had been at the outpost with her uncle sage Barry.

The crew of four continued up their path to the acclivity on this rocky trackless waste. The trees had been snapped in two because of the force of the gusts in the Ladimore range. They would have to make their way through snow and ice that made the way almost impassable. They huddled together in hopes of keeping warm. Their destination of the Vistula riverbed which formed the barrier of Marginalia seemed quite a ways off.

They would have to stop for the night and rest under the outcropping. No fire would warm their hearts: only the glow of the ORB could give them comfort in the inky dark night. Poxig bade them good night and tucked himself under his blanket to sleep away his fears of goblin hordes. With Truliso leading the way across the mountain range, they took a pause to regather their strength for the morning trudge across the path of blinding white.

The many colors of the ORB

Luckan’s decision

Poxig and Nesta were disheartened by the decision of the council, but they were compelled to leave the Naughright guild in hopes that some sage might be found outside of this gated community who could help them translate the message from the dragonite from their pidgin to the plainness of the Ulterian tongue. As they passed through Silvera, they met numerous shadowy glances, as they were misperceived as vagrants. It seemed for a culture that had virtually eliminated poverty, they had the unattractive quality of being judgmental of those who did not adhere to their standards of dress and comportment.

As they reached the portal of the magic gate, they stopped and looked at one another.

“Clearly, this is out last chance to go through. We’ve spent all our silver. There’s no way back,” said Nesta. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“We couldn’t get the guild’s permission,” said Poxig.

Both heroes knew that snobbishness had undone their mission to light the ORB and get the elite guild’s attention. Nowhere was this more plain than in the council’s decision. Not one of them were willing to be ‘demoted’ by going outside of the boundaries of Silvera. Such was the dark side of the council, who claimed to be guardians of light magic. Still, it was also possible that Darxon’s mages had infiltrated the group. Elite bodies of government had unusual power, but they were not invulnerable to evil.

“We have no other choice,” said Poxig. “We must return to the Crescent Lake, and meet our colleagues there, and devise another plan of action.”

Nesta nodded in agreement. “We have no time to lose,” she added.

But just as they were about to go through the great blue portal, they heard a noise behind them.

“Wait. Don’t go just yet,” said a shadowy figure.

They didn’t recognize him at first, because he had left his conical cap behind, but it was indeed Luckan. He had followed them through Silvera and back to the magic gate.

“You made your case before the Naughrights. That took some extraordinary courage. Now, I can’t leave my post here, because we know that Darxon has a hidden agent in our circle. But take this missive to Christopher White. He will be able to advise you how to reach the attention of the king. I believe that the prophecy is about to be fulfilled and you are the warriors of light. We have no time to lose, and this message must be translated for the king. But in order to reach the king, receive this.”

Luckan waived his wand and the ORB began to glow gold, turquoise, and vermillion. Poxig’s ORB was now resplendent with colored lights. In fact, this would be evidence that could be used to get the king’s attention in Marginalia. They would have to use Luckan’s letter to reach Christopher White, and then, perhaps gain access to the other ORBs in the king’s possession. By communicating the dragon’s message to the royal retinue, they would be able to possibly stop the earthlink that was threatening the whole of cosmon.

The tandem of heroes bade farewell to the brave defector from the Naughright guild. Although they could not gain the assent of the sacred guild, it was clear that their mission in Silvera had not been an outright failure. To be able to reconnect with Christopher White in the forests over the Ladimore mountains would be their new point of departure. From there, they might be able to gain his influence over the famously reclusive king. What they did not know was what awaited them in Marginalia. Garlang and his army of imps were still waging war, and there was no measurable idea of how much damage they had caused.

What seemed difficult to fathom was how they would gain an audience with the king of Marginalia, Charles I. After transporting themselves out of Silvera, they would have to propose their worthiness to the king’s retinue, in hopes of gaining the attention of the famously reclusive king. As to why he locked himself in the tower of the castle, perhaps Christopher White would be able to shed some light. For now, it was enough to know that some good was left in the elite Naughright guild, and they certainly had earned an ally in the person of Luckan that may serve them in their quest.

“We must traverse the Ladimore mountains once again, and press on to the Shinarian plain,” said Poxig.

“We have no time to lose,” repeated Nesta.

Luckan’s gambit

The Naughright

Once Sheila Nesta and Poxig Excelsior were within the confines of Silvera, they noticed that the aura around them had begun to change. All the sidewalks were completely clean, every tree meticulously placed. Brilliant rainbow-like garden flowers colored every small space in between ornate arabesque architecture. The fragrances of perfumes were everywhere. No trash or refuse on the streets, not a single thing out of place. It was by far the richest city that they had ever seen. The citizens of Silvera were dressed in expensive clothes of the finest purple.

“Aren’t there any poor in Silvera?” asked Nesta.

“It looks like they have eliminated that problem,” Poxig replied.

They went to exchange their gold pieces for silver at the bank. The silver would have to last them for their stay here. There was one thing for sure: the only thing that mattered in this city was silver. If you had it, you were welcome. But poor and indigent could not gain refuge in a city like this, protected by a magic gate. All that remained of societal ills was a city protected from harm, nestled near the Crescent Lake.

They moved warily through the streets of Silvera, conscious that every eye was fixed  on them. Poxig shuffled  his feet quietly so  as not to make noise. If they were perceived as vagrants, they might be forcibly removed  from the city. The clocktower ticked  loudly as they moved towards the city square. Their first goal would be to exchange their gold for silver, and  then they would need to gain an audience at the Naughright guild. But where exactly this place was, no one could say.

“We are trying to find the Naughright guild,” Poxig exclaimed. “Can you help us?”

“I have never heard of such a place,” said one man. “But there is rumor that deep in the forest adjacent to the village is the meeting place of the circle of sages.”

“We must be closing in on it,” Nesta said. “The guild is very secretive about its business.  We may need a divining rod to find its whereabouts.”

“We have a limited budget here. We cannot camp but must find lodging. Thirty silver pieces will not go so far here,” said Poxig.

On the tip they received, they journeyed into the forested area behind the city, looking for the circle of sages. Day turned into night, as they searched the dingy wood, which was covered in sticks and leaves. Through the mist, Nesta perceived that there was a magical presence that she had never felt before. The sweat condensed on the back of her neck. Suddenly, the path opened up to a glade. There was a fire burning there, but no one was there.

“This must be the place of the meeting!” said Nesta.

“Nesta, look!” Poxig said as he motioned to the ORB.

The ORB was glowing ever so slightly in shades of blue. As Poxig looked into the ORB, he saw a light that had never been there before. This might be a sacred space, such that the ORB could feel the magic power around  him. As he looked around, aged men with long  grey beards and red clothing approached from every side. They were wearing pointy red conical caps. They surrounded Poxig and Nesta,  and at first it seemed like they were in trouble. But then, Poxig remembered that these were the stewards of light magic. No harm could come to them.

“We have known about your coming for some time,” said one sage.

“Who are you?”  said another. “Identify yourself.”

“Please excuse me, sir. I am Poxig of Excelsior from beyond Marginalia. “My friends and I have come to your meeting place for help.”

“And I am Nesta, the white magician, and I seek the council’s favor.”

“I am Luckan,” said a bearded man in the red gown. “You are welcome here. But  what is your business?”

“I come  to learn the ways of magic,” said Nesta, “but my friend has come to enlist your help.”

“What she means to say, is that we need your skill to light the sacred ORB,” said Poxig. “My friends are waiting  outside with an urgent message  for the council.  Without your help to light the ORB,  we cannot gain the attention of the king of  Marginalia, who holds the other ORBs in his chamber.”

“Well,  then  sir,  this is a tall order!” said Luckan. “Our  council is sworn to protect  light forces from the dark influences. We are not mercenaries that can be bought!”

“We’re not asking you to perform a miracle,” said Poxig. “Please come with us to the end of Silvera, where my friend the dragon whisperer will translate the  message from Bamut, the  king of all dragonites,” Poxig said.

“We will do no such thing!” said a tawny skinned man around the edge of the circle. “This council confers  in secret under the cover of the magic gate! It is the only way to protect ourselves from evil influences.”
“The gatekeeper would not let us in the gate,” said Nesta. “We had to leave our dragon Truliso at the entryway. Please! You’re the only one who can help us!”

The aura of the Naughright guild was hard to ignore. The fireflies flew all around like will-o-the-wisp. Strange music could be heard coming from the forest, but they could not tell from where. The tandem of heroes had come upon the most elite wizards and sages of Cosmon. To gain their trust would not be easy. Each of the sages looked at them with supercilious grins, and many of them were trained in manipulation and chicanery. Poxig remembered that some of them were loyal to Darxon, and yet they could not be sure which ones.

“We have heard many pretenders come and make their case before us,” said Luckan. “How can we be sure that you are the heroes of the prophecy?”

The only extant text of the prophecy that Poxig knew about was in the king’s chambers in Marginalia. It had been given as a sacred boon from the Naughright guild after the wars of religion. But now, here they were in the sacred academy of wizards, and it was impossible to justify themselves.

“I am the bearer of the ORB!” said Poxig. “This sacred ORB was bequeathed to me from my father!”

Luckan and the sages gasped as the circle began to widen and then close around the ORB, which continued to emit a blue glimmer. The great assembly of wizards made the ORB a dazzling array of colors that cycled around in the interior of the glowing sphere. The music became louder and whistled arpeggios over and over. The magical power that was contained in this enchanted artifact could not be denied.

“This is indeed the ORB of which prophecy speaks!” shouted Luckan into the throng of admirers.

The wizards of the Naughright guild

The Stone Foe

As the sun began to dip behind the Ladimore mountains, the heroic coterie made their way across the perilous Nitla Pass. The rain fell like small diamonds on their backs. The lake was still not visible to them. But the trepidation began to be palpable in their hearts. They could not see beyond their fears for the moment. Truliso had flown beyond their vision, and could not be seen beyond the cloudy skies.

As they sauntered in the fissure of the Nitla Pass, they saw a stone giant occluding their way. With massive stone armor and a redoubtable fortresslike helmet of stone on his head, it seemed impossible that they could pass beyond. Tefl drew his sword and brandished it at the brute.

“I am the golem of Ladimore!” said the beastly foe. “You shall not pass here, for I am the guardian of the sacred Naughright guild.”

“I think we’ll be moving on through here, my rocky faced friend.” Tefl still was going to try his luck at a pitched battle. He swung his sword at the giant but it bounced right off. The sword clanged off the stone armor and flew right out of his hand onto the ground nearby. It was clear that this foe could not be moved by force.

“I suggest you turn around where you came from before I have to hurt you!” said the rock golem.

Poxig had studied in Jongleur’s library about rock golems. He had heard that they feed off of precious stones. He withdrew his purse and searched for the one that he had brought on the journey: the amethyst from Gabriel the sprite. He took it out and showed it to the rock golem.

Poxig had to think fast. They could not turn around at this point, for the journey back to the nearest village would exhaust their supplies. Only wit could conquer the stone beast.

“Dear sir, can we beg of your name?”

“I am Myrdal!” said the golem. “You shall not pass here.”

“But we are aware that you must be hungry here. I have an amethyst stone that I would be willing to surrender, at a price,” said Poxig.

“Mmm… I don’t know. I haven’t had that rare gem for dinner for a long stretch of time. Ahh… the purple gem is most delicious! Ahhh…. ugh. How do you think that will move me?”

“We don’t have pretensions to moving your massive hulk, dear sir, only that you would make an exception on our case because we are on a sacred mission and must needs see the Naughright guild,” said Poxig.

“What is your proof of that?” said the oaf.

“Well, behold this upon the last light of the sun!” said Poxig.

Poxig withdrew the sacred ORB from its hiding place in his knapsack. It was darkened but showed a glint of light within. The whole of the orb sat in Poxig’s palm.

“Ooo, that would be a snack of some kind!” the Golem said. “For that, I will let you pass.”

Poxig, not wanting to surrender the ORB to this oaf said, “This ORB would unsettle your stomach. Take this amethyst as our parting gift.”

“No, I like ORBs for breakfast. They are a delicacy that I have not had in some time!”

“But wouldn’t you rather taste this amethyst? Observe its purple splendor: a veritable gourmet treat. No quartz that you could eat can compare with it. It has been plucked from the finest of stone deposits. It is pure and unadulterated by the silt of these mountains.”

“Ah, yes, it does seem tempting!” exclaimed the stone giant. “But the ORB?”

“Only shrewish peasant golems eat that, my friend. You had just as well eat broken glass. Nothing like the taste of amethyst,” Poxig said.

“Ah, very well then. Give me the amethyst,” he replied.

The party moved swiftly past Myrdal as he stood aside to munch his snack. He chewed the stone and it was gone in seconds.

“But I’m still hungry!” he said.

By then, the party, fleet of foot, could outrun the lumbering oaf of a creature. They made swiftly for the declivity with the ORB in their possession. Oafs like the golem could not possibly understand the symbolism of the ORB. The only thing that they thought about were their own stomachs. No Golem could ever be civilized, as many well knew from their coarse temperament. But creatures that only pursue their earthly desires can easily be manipulated by the wit of those with a higher purpose.

The Nitla Pass

The four and the dragon whelp journeyed with trepidation past the Vaustian woods to the edge of the trail. In fact, the trail that led to the Silver City went around the Ladimore mountains, but the King’s Road would require a toll that the four were unwilling to pay. So they ventured up the mountain range to reach Silvera by another more perilous route. It was well known that Rock Golems occupied these matterhorns, and they would not take kindly to anyone traversing their rocky turf.

“We must have Truliso fly over the mountains and spot any potential hazards,” said Tefl.

“It is likely that if we travel swiftly, we will elude the Rock Golems,” added Poxig.

“We are still at the mercy of the weather atop those cliffs!” exhorted Nesta, “any blizzard would make us have to turn to the King’s Road.”

“Yes, but we will have to continue towards the acclivity,” Tefl said.

“Ah yes, but we might need a bit o’ magic to get us through,” Poxig said.

Poxig didn’t know any magic, but he prayed to his god Releven for strength. Only the most persistent and indefatigable could make it over the Ladimore mountains to the Crescent Lake, where the town of Silvera lay. He took out the ORB, and looked into its mystical center. He swore he could see a glimmer of light somewhere inside, but it quickly went out. They would have to get to the Naughright guild by any means necessary.

As they gained altitude, they could see the shadowy image of Truliso above them, scouting the territory. If only they had magic to make them alight like the dragon wing! But none among them knew any dark magic. Their neophyte mage, Nesta, was still yet unskilled in the white arts. But, should they have any medical needs, the healer would be an indispensable part of the crew.

As they ascended the acclivity, the trees began to dwindle progressively. The last light of dawn was during into the gloaming of the day. Up they went, without any means of a trail. Their only hope of crossing that impassable area was finding Nitla Pass, which according to their most recent maps, would lead through the mountain range to the valley of the Crescent Lake. It was hard to say whether they would find it by sheer chance, but they continued to believe in the Providential design of Master Control, the elusive deity behind the events transpiring on Cosmon.

“We must needs find Nitla Pass,” said Tefl.

“And definitely before nightfall,” added Poxig.

The search for Nitla Pass would not be easy. Truliso was high above scouting for possible hazards, but they couldn’t see through the crepuscular mist. Everything around them seemed nebulous and unclear. Even their mission seemed strange and mysterious. They were under the influence of the dark magic field that surrounded the Silver City. Only Tefl could hold on to his reason and march forward with the courage that led the party towards and imperceptible destination.

“Darxon II has probably had influence here!” said Nesta. “My magician’s sense is that he may have surrogates in the company of the circle of sages at Naughright. We must be careful to whom we confide it once we arrive,”

This was the least of the worries of Poxig, for he knew that they would have to get past the Rock Golem if they were to cross the Ladimore mountains unharmed. The wind was whipping faster through their hair, and it had begun to flurry. The crags had become more an more impassable. But they pressed on through the rocky wasteland in search of the pass to the fertile valley of Crescent Lake.

The Upshot of the Matter

Poxig shuddered at the name of Trink-Zelfo. It wasn’t long ago that he had met him a Wyckham Hall a year and a half ago.

“Why can’t the rebel dragonite return any time they wish?” asked Nesta.

“They need dark magic to channel a bridge back to our world. They need a black magician who is powerful enough to command the earthlink to appear,” Jane uttered.

“The only power that could rival this force are the lighted ORBs. The light warriors will bear them to the Temple of Chaos, or so the prophecy says,” she continued.

” I have this!” he showed them the ORB of power. It was dark, without a glimmer of light.

“It can’t be! Then, where are the other three?” asked Jane.

“King Charles has them all!” Poxig interjected.

“We must take the sacred ORB to the circle of sages. They will tell us how to unlock its power,” said Tefl.

“Of course,” said Jane, ” but the Chaos Temple has been occupied by Garlang and his fiendish imp army for a generation. King Charles has lost control of it, and now it is occupied only by nefarious fiends.”

“So we have to stop them from creating the Earthlink,” said Tefl.

The four decided to head out for the Crescent Lake, where the Naughright guild resided. The mountain trail that would take them there was perilous and led to an almost impassable acclivity. But if they could fight the frigid temperatures and outmaneuver the rock golems, its possible that they could get to the wizard’s guild. The night’s discussion tended to center around how they would gain entrance to the elite guild.

“We must first give them the missive of Christopher White,” said Poxig. “He alone has credibility among the circle of sages.”

“You know him?” asked Tefl.

“Yes, and he gave me this letter,” he said. “It should be our ticket into the Silver City.”

“Yes, but will they listen to us?” asked Nesta.

“It’s hard to tell, but you may have to show them some of your magical ability,” said Tefl.

“If they could light the ORB, then we might be able to gain the confidence of King Charles of Marginalia,” said Poxig.

“Then, we’ll have to be extra careful. We’re still travelling with Truliso, and if we’re spotted, he could be killed before he gives the message to the sages,” said Jane.

“If that were to happen, the dark Lord Darxon II would surely marshal his army in favor of the orc hordes,” Tefl returned.

“Truliso is able to fly, so he should scout our path across the Ladimore mountains,” offered Jane.

“Precisely, but we must be on the watch for rock golems, which could easily impede our progress towards the Silver City,” said Poxig.

Poxig remembered the chant of the suzukibs from his home town. He remembered the advice of his mother: “Remember the rules of silver.” Surely, only silver made a difference in the Silver City. He had heard of this affluent community that was surrounded by the Crescent Lake. The opulence of this district was legendary, and frankly they would look like beggars amidst kings.

Jane Lampion and Tefl Broadsword confer.

The revelation

Jane approached the dragon whelp and began to chant in an unknown pidgin. The party stood bewildered as Truliso conveyed his message.

“It is hard to know whether the dragonite speaks the truth, but if what he says is true, then you must hasten him to the circle of sages in Naughright,” said Jane.

The dragon whelp uttered some more indecipherable sounds, and Jane responded by nodding and placing her hand on Truliso.

“Truliso talks of a massive rebellion of dragons. They could defect from Bamut and create a massive upheaval that could lead to war.”

“Please let’s go then, for we have to warn the sages of Naughright,” Poxig said.

“I don’t go anywhere without my mother’s approval,” said Jane. “She needs my care.”

“I’ll be alright here,” said Janis. “You must go. Even if this isn’t true, you need to be there. A dragon attack could easily wipe out the city of Marginalia.”

“The reason that the dragonite came thus far was to warn us. It could be an immanent attack,” said Tefl.

“Why would Truliso risk coming out this far for a lie?” asked Nesta.

“We can help, but we need you to come with us,” said Poxig.

“We need a dragon translator,” said Poxig, “because she is the only one that can translate the dragonite language.”

Jane Lampion agreed, and with the blessing of her mother, she set out with the part for Naughright. There they would make their way to the city gates, and hopefully gain entrance to the secretive magician’s guild. They journeyed beyond the mountain range to the Sallur river that would lead them to the crescent lake. The only way to gain entrance was by canoe. It was possible to become lost in the maze of rivulets that were etched in the stony range. Great pines were perched on the rock.

That night, they set up camp near the shoreline of the river, and they awaited nightfall. The four heroes: Tefl Broadsword, Poxig of Excelsior, Sheila Nesta, and Jane Lampion chatted with each other, talking about how to gain entrance to the guild at the crescent lake. Truliso slept soundly nearby. They munched on toasted nuts and drank river water mixed with powder in order to pass the time as the fire blazed on.

Suddenly, Poxig asked: “Why did you give up studying the dragonite clan?”

“I could no longer could trust the dragons that I was studying on the Cardia Islands. Even then, dissembling dragons were trying to hoodwink King Bamut, who would not let me into his throne room anymore. After the religious wars, he distrusted all humans. Then, one night I met Truliso. He was a young dragon who endured the scorn of his companions in order to learn English as a Second Language. He was the go-between.”

“Then, Truliso does understand English!” Poxig exclaimed.

“Yes, but he cannot speak it. But for this reason, he was elected to be the envoy for the human race,” surmised Tefl.

“He must have been chosen by the dragon king himself. Dragonites are monarchical, not democratic,” returned Jane.

The dragon whisperer Jane Lampion turned away. “There was a hideous race of dragons that rejected Bamut as king. They left for the castle of Ordeal on the floating continent,” Jane said.

“This continent doesn’t exist!” exclaimed Tefl.

“It most certainly does! It is the dragonite word for the moon. Only magician dragonites can fly there because they surround themselves with an ORB of oxygen that allows them to breathe,” Jane said.

“And so, why should we care?” asked Tefl.

“When they return, they will have mastered destructive magic that will allow them to make war on mankind. Even now, Trink-Zelfo, Estynax, and Darxon II the orc-overlord are trying to hasten their return,” she said.

The fireside chat

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