They say he did it because he asked to sit by an innkeeper’s fire one night and was denied with a lie. The innkeeper said that there was “not enough fire” to warm the man who was dressed in rags and filth. He appeared to be a beggar, but he was not a beggar. He was a warlock. And he was none too pleased by the innkeeper’s response. It was no surprise that he should cast a curse. What was surprising was that he did not just cast the curse on the innkeeper himself, but on the innkeeper’s entire country.
The king is the hound and the hound is the king.
The feasters come and eat, but they don’t suspect a thing.
It’s a feast like none they’ve seen, a spectacular repast.
They never e’er suspect that the meal will be their last.
There are flames in the distance. There is a dragon in the distance. We must ride out to meet him.
It is said that the first dragon was born of hatred. And all of the things that follow hatred. Envy and greed. Bloodlust.
It is said that the first dragon was born from a person, right here in this very village. It is said that the first dragon was born of a curse. A curse that was meant to save, for some curses can save.
Marcus watched as the thief pulled a cylinder from her pack that was the size of her forearm. He wondered if that was it. She uncapped the cylinder and pulled out a roll of parchment. Marcus held his breath. But when the thief, Lily, glanced up at him and saw his expression, she smirked.
“This isn’t it,” she said. Then she sighed. Her hand flicked to her collar and suddenly there was something in her hand. It was only the size of her longest finger. A fine bit of parchment, it seemed. Nothing special. But that was it. She was the one, the Only Honorable Thief. And that bit of parchment was it.
The Protean Scroll.
“What’s special about this one?” Tim asked his employer. The seller had spun a story about it having belonged to a musketeer. Tim didn’t know and didn’t need to know whether that was true or not to do his job.
Tim’s employer set his cane down on the table and carefully folded open the paper packaging. He gazed down at the long coat. He was wearing gloves as usual despite the mild, if overcast, weather. He slipped the glove off his right hand and reached out to touch the coat’s dusty faded lapel.
In those days, there was a magician who could cast a spell on a candle and link that candle to the life of a single person. So long as the candle burned, there was hope.
Those families who had the means engaged the magician to cast this spell when husbands and sons went off to battle. So long as the candle burned, their loved one was still alive. The highest winds would not snuff out the flame. But even on a quiet night, if the soldier died, so too would the flame on the candle die. Those families would know of their loss long before word came to them from the battlefield.
Had they listened to their father, the children would have been safe in their beds on that blustery night. But as it was, they were shivering before a pitiful fire no bigger than a candle flame and just as delicate, while a pack of goblins stood by the cave mouth arguing over what to do with their prize of three healthy children.
Turtle kept her mouth clamped as the carriage she had been thrown into hit another bump. She had already bitten her tongue twice. She was certain she would have bruises on her legs, from knocking against something each time the carriage turned right. Her hands and feet were tightly bound, as was the sack into which she’d been stuffed. Her head and hands were on the bottom end of the sack. She had only managed to bring her hands up to cover her head.
Thus far, she had managed not to cry, and she took solace and courage from that thought. But as the carriage hitched up again, so came a hitch in her chest. She wanted to be a warrior someday. But this day, she was just a little girl…