Wednesday 9 October 2013


Deidre knew she should have left earlier that evening. It was a long walk back from the village to her farm and as the light began to fade she suddenly felt extremely vulnerable. She clutched her basket close to her as she strode quickly along the path that led to the copse; she knew that once she was through that, it was only a short way from the safety of her farm house. She pulled her cloak hood up and gripped it firmly in place with her spare hand, shielding her from some of the cold of the late evening. It was then that she noticed how quiet everything was. There were no bird calls or animal noises and it even seemed like the trees were holding their breath.

Deidre quickened her pace and almost broke into a jog. Her heart was racing and she knew that something wasn’t right… then she heard a low, booming growl that set the hairs on her neck on edge. She immediately dropped her basket and ran towards the copse and as she did so the growling moved from her right to her left, keeping pace with her. It seemed so close but she kept running. The copse was only a few metres away and she knew that once she was inside it she would have a chance. She reached the edge and thought she had made it until she tripped and tumbled roughly to the floor. She immediately tried to regain her feet but she was trapped; her ankle was caught firmly in the grip of a tree root and she reached down to free herself. When she touched the root, she froze; it was covered with smooth scales. She tried desperately to prise her ankle free but the more she struggled the tighter the grip became.

Deidre started to cry with panic as she struggled in vain to free herself. Then she heard the deep, booming, growl again and turned sharply to face it. At first she could see nothing but then two fiery orange eyes appeared from behind closed eyelids and stared directly into Deidre’s soul. Deidre’s eyes opened wide and her mouth opened in shock as she stared into the Dragon’s eyes, the low resonating growl rumbled through her body as she finally gave way to terror and wet herself. She couldn’t even bring herself to scream as the Dragon tilted its head to shift its view of her. She noticed every tiny detail of the Dragon’s face; the dark shiny scales, the rough texture of its eye lids, the flicking, forked tongue but mostly the fiery orange eyes. The Dragon almost seemed to be grinning…

… Suddenly Deidre felt the grip on her ankle loosen and instinctively pulled herself free and dashed into the copse. There was a well trodden path and she rushed, headlong down it, as fast as her feet would carry her. She could see her heavy built, stone house in the near distance and she knew that once she was inside, she would be safe. Without thinking, she burst from the copse and continued her panic-stricken run towards her house. She was wailing and screaming as her tears streamed down her face. She was so close that she could see the dim light of the fire through the window and smell the animals in the yard.

Without warning she felt a heavy blow down her left side and she was thrown from the path and landed in a heap on the grass. She hurriedly found her feet and although she was in pain she continued towards her house crying uncontrollably. She got another few metres before another heavy blow threw her across the path in the opposite direction. She landed heavily and was winded. Her ribs and thigh were broken and she couldn’t get back to her feet. She rolled over onto her back and opened her eyes. There was a pair of fiery, orange eyes staring down at her. The deep vibrato growl rumbled in the background as Deidre realised that there was no escape. She felt the dragon's rough tongue slide up her torn dress where her ribs had bled and closed her eyes tightly. The last thing she ever heard was a triumphant roar before the Dragon tore her head off.

Thursday 3 October 2013

The Fell Drake of Mount Amber.

There was once a time when travelling around Mount Ember was a pleasant experience. The rocky slopes were littered with tightly cropped vegetation and the air was filled with the scent of the wild plants and herbs that grew there. Often, the mountain goats would venture close enough to be hunted and occasionally, if you were very lucky, you would see a Goblin in the twilight who was out gathering herbs. 

Everything changed when a young Dragon arrived and took up residence in a cave at the base of the mountain.

The Dragon was a young Drake (a male Dragon) with dark grey scales and fierce green eyes. His crest, when flared, was a bright red and he was as lithe and cunning as a weasel. When he turned up, he had come from a victory and was smeared with the blood of a fellow Drake who he had slaughtered on the plains. He was tired from the fight and found sanctuary in the mouth of a mine after ruining the entrance so that nothing could emerge from the depths of the mountain. When he was happy with his cave, he slept for a week. 

The first anyone knew of the Drake was a terrible roar from mountains and over the following weeks, the animals disappeared from the slopes and the birds fell silent. The grasses began to grow long and the sweet smell of flowers was replaced by the acrid stench of death and Dragon sign. Hunters stopped going to Mount Amber and the area was deemed too dangerous to approach. 

Over the years, many a slayer went to the cave to kill the Drake but when they arrived he could rarely be found and if he happened to be there when they arrived, he soon departed before combat could be initiated; often lashing out with his tail as he flew past to unseat a horseman or knock a Slayer to the ground. 

For twenty years the slayers have been thwarted and to this day the Drake haunts the mountain. He is widely recognised as the Fell Drake of Mount Amber but the Slayers know him as the Dark Fox of Amber, the Shadow of Amber or the Black Wraith of Amber. Amongst the Slayers, his Fire-Stone would be the prize of their collection although it would be a wily Slayer indeed to actually claim it.

Saturday 10 August 2013

The Healer in the wood.

The Mhurni healer carefully made his way along the partially paved path that led to the edge of the forest. As he neared the shady area beneath the trees, he stopped suddenly, stooped briefly and picked a small plant from the side of the path. He studied it for a moment before dropping it carefully into a small ceramic pot, closing the lid and putting it back into the satchel that he had removed it from a few moments before. The Mhurni smiled peacefully for a moment before looking at the tree-line and breathing in the fresh morning air. He briefly looked at the sky with a contented look on his face before continuing along the path into the forest.

The forest was perfect. The sunlight shone through the spring-green leaves and filled all of the open spaces with glorious yellow hues. There was a gentle breeze that carried the scent of a thousand flowers among the trees and the Mhurni felt the healing power of the earth spirit as he slowed his walk along the path so that he could breathe in the glorious morning. He stopped for a moment before opening his satchel and removing a selection of small ceramic pots. He laid a small cotton cloth on the ground and placed the various pots upon it before placing his satchel beside it. The Mhurni patted his pockets before retrieving his pipe and tobacco. He filled the pipe with the specially mixed tobacco and lit the pipe whilst puffing on it to get the air flowing. Moments later he was surrounded by aromatic smoke as he wandered about the clearing studying the herbs and plants that grew there. Occasionally, the Mhurni would pick a few leaves from a plant or pick the cap off a mushroom before returning to the pots to deposit what he had collected. After a short while, his progress slowed to a point where he felt the need to sit down. The tobacco had worked its magic and the glazed look on the Mhurni’s face was testament to the journey he was about to undertake. He breathed heavily on his pipe and watched the smoke swirl and dance in front of his dilated pupils. He hummed deeply and the patterns in the smoke coalesced into the shape of the earth spirit causing him to smile contentedly. The Mhurni sat heavily on the forest floor amongst the leaves and mulch and stared blankly ahead.

Every scent was as potent as smelling salts. Every sound was like the chiming of bells. Every sight was as sharp as looking through a magnifying glass and the slightest breeze sent shivers through the Mhurni’s body. He closed his eyes and reached out with his mind and he found the smiling face of the earth spirit.

Time passed and the light grew dim in the forest. Evening was drawing in and the Mhurni was still sat where he had sat for the better part of the afternoon. Momentarily, his eyes opened and it was plain to see that the soporific effect of his tobacco had worn off as his eyes had returned to normal. He carefully got to his feet and stretched before walking out of the clearing and into the forest. He walked directly to a rather inconspicuous looking plant and pulled it from the ground with its roots intact. He smiled broadly before thanking the earth spirit, returning to his pots and placing the plant carefully into one of them. He did this another couple of times before he was satisfied that all of his pots were full. He tidied everything away and picked up his satchel before kneeling and kissing the ground with spoken thanks to the earth spirit. He then got to his feet and hurried along the path from the forest and back to his home. When he left the forest he was greeted by a party of four Dwarfs and they were all wearing chain-mail and carrying spears and shields. They lived next to the Mhurni village and had become concerned that the healer may have been injured so they had gone to investigate. The Mhurni greeted them cordially before walking past them and off to his dwelling. He looked back and had a quiet chuckle to himself as they tried desperately to keep up with his loping gait. When he returned to his dwelling he raced inside, dropped off his satchel and returned to his doorway with four wooden beakers of fluid for his escort. He had to wait for a moment before they appeared, sweating and breathing heavily at his doorway, before he proffered the drinks in their direction with a bow. The Dwarfs accepted the kindness and drank the cups dry. They knew that a glass of Mhurni brew was as strong and refreshing as many of the Dwarf brewed ales and they were not disappointed. The Mhurni bid them farewell and returned to his satchel. He fished out all of his pots and selected a large mortar from his shelf. Carefully he selected leaves and components from some of his plants and began to mash them into a pulp with a sturdy, granite pestle. He added a small amount of water and poured the contents into a copper pan and placed it onto the hob. He then turned over an hour glass before applying pressure to the power-stone in the oven; creating intense heat beneath the pan.

Later that night, the Mhurni healer left the safety of the village and quietly made his way along the path that led to the Dwarf keep near the base of the mountain. When he arrived he was quickly welcomed inside and ushered to see the ale-man’s daughter. He entered her bedchamber and found her beset by a terrible fever. The Mhurni removed her bed clothes and lifted her nightshirt before laying his hand on her stomach. He hummed deeply and called upon the earth spirit for her blessing before removing his hand and re-covering her. Quickly, he reached into his satchel and withdrew the medicine that he had brewed that day. He selected a small, sweet wafer from a wooden tube that hung on a leather strip around his neck and dipped it into the medicine; soaking up a draft of the medicine in the process. He then opened the girl’s mouth and placed the wafer beneath her tongue before closing her mouth and holding it tightly shut.

The girl shook all over and began to convulse so the Mhurni held her down. Her mother cried out and her father stepped forward before the Mhurni turned to them and reassured them that it was to be expected. Seconds later, the girl became still and her body relaxed. The Mhurni removed his hands and made sure the girl was comfortable before turning to the two Dwarf parents.
“She will be fine in the morning. The earth spirit helped me to select the herbs and told me how to prepare the medicine. She will bear two children for her husband when he is chosen. The earth spirit has made a prophecy that her first born will be a girl and will lead a revolution in the art of sword-craft. The second born is to be a son who will follow in his grandfather’s trade and will be proud to represent the keep at the Leavensbrook Ale Festival” said the Mhurni healer.
“Thank you master healer” said the two parents and they bowed low in appreciation. The father dashed off quickly and returned with a small cask and an even smaller wooden box “for your trouble” said the father.
“It was no trouble but thank you for the generosity” replied the Mhurni and he also bowed low before tasting what was in the cask “you are a master of your trade, master Dwarf” he said. He then opened the small wooden box and inside was an inch-long effigy of the earth mother, made from red-gold and threaded onto an intricately linked, white gold, chain. “You do me the greatest honour... this is the work of George Hendrikson... a fine hobbyist!” said the Mhurni and he bowed again before fastening the pendent around his neck whilst grinning broadly; he was acutely aware of the embarrassment that the Dwarf would have endured to even enter a hobbyists shop. Both the Dwarfs were full of pride at his words and they took his advice to watch their daughter over night to make sure that she was comfortable. They were also warned to listen to her, should the earth spirit speak through their daughter and pass on some wisdom.

Seven years later, the ale-man’s daughter gave birth to a daughter; as the earth spirit had foretold. Two years later a son was born. The daughter went on to find a meteorite in the fields that turned out to contain a mix of metals that combined to make a blade that could shatter iron. The metal was steel and it led to massive innovation in the sword-smith’s art. The son followed in his grandfather’s trade and brought great renown to his family through his skill at brewing.

Thursday 25 July 2013

A Dragon's view.

The sun rose leisurely above the horizon and moments later, its warmth spread across the land. It had been a cold night and the dew sparkled in the new light of the day. All across Reptiliad, the sounds and movement of awakening began and deep in the forest, a pair of topaz coloured eyes gently opened to greet the dawn. The forest Dragon flashed its tongue across the surface of each of its eyes and shrugged; raising all of its scales to release the collection of dew whilst gently shivering to help the process. Very carefully, it slowly stretched its wings and retracted them before surveying the nearby woods for any life. Through the eyes of a Dragon, every little speck of heat shone as brightly as a star and the dragon quickly found prey that was large enough to sate its immediate hunger.

The badger checked the sky and the ground as it foraged in the dead leaves on the forest floor. It was on the edge of a clearing and was returning to its set after a night of hunting and socialising. It was a male of good age so was fully grown and had sired many a cub. It paused sharply and sniffed the air before continuing to forage.

The forest Dragon flexed its muscles and stretched its broad wings before dropping from its roost in the tall oak tree and gliding off towards its prey. Its tongue continuously flashed out to taste the air and the air was moist and dense; excellent for hunting.

The badger sensed movement and froze. He quickly sniffed the air and looked around but he couldn’t smell anything unusual and his eyesight was poor so he couldn’t see any movement either.

The forest Dragon could see the heat signature getting closer so it tucked its wings in closer to its body to gain speed for the attack. It felt the air rushing over its smooth scales and heard the rushing of the air as the speed increased. The forest Dragon could almost taste the beast as it thrust its front talons forward for the kill.

The badger sensed danger and immediately made a bolt for its set. Its legs hammered the ground as it fled purposefully towards safety. It was only feet away when the impact happened. Then there was silence for what seemed like an age.

The badger gingerly peered out of its set, making sure that it was still deep enough to feel safe. It could hear the sharp cracking sounds of bones being broken by powerful jaws. It could smell the unmistakable odour of blood and that was enough for it to back down into the depths of its set and take no further interest in what was going on.

The deer didn’t stand a chance. It was young and inexperienced and didn’t hear the Dragon until it was too late. The knife-long talons of the Dragon punctured its chest cavity with no resistance and the deer was dead before the weight of the killer pinned it to the floor. The forest Dragon raised its head and roared before shearing chunks of flesh from the deer with its razor-sharp fangs and gulping them down. In moments, the deer was gone and the forest Dragon delicately licked the ground to drink as much of the blood as it could. Once it had finished, the Dragon flexed its wings and with a burst of effort flapped itself into the air and off up above the canopy of the forest. Its hunger was sated and it was a glorious day so the forest Dragon relaxed into a soaring posture and enjoyed the heat of the new morning.

It was good to be a Dragon.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

The strangest thing.

My name is Narls Bjornsson and I am a Dragon slayer by trade; with seven fire-stones to my credit. I am looking forward to the day when one of the forges sponsor me but I seem to be doing okay without their support although it is tough work. I have followed some big hitters in the past but they tend to get in before you have a chance yourself and if I’m going to put my life on the line, I want to get the fire-stone as a reward so I have gone solo now.

Well, I say I’ve gone solo but for some reason, I seem to have adopted a follower. His name is Blit miner and for some inexplicable reason, one of the forges has seen fit to give him a suit of specialist armour to wear. Now it is a rarity for a Goblin to wear heavy armour in the first place but to wear power-stone armour is, to be honest, unique. I’ve never heard of another one; usually the Goblins take up a bow and fire at a distance but Blit, he’s a bit special. Not only does he have the special armour, he’s got four fire-stones to his credit and he got them from close combat with Dragons.

Now, you’ve seen how big a Goblin is and how heavy power-stone armour can be so you can imagine that most of the power goes to helping Blit move around but there is also a sting in his armour. He looks pretty funny to be honest; a bit like the head of a blunt mace but with arms and legs. He has a heavy visor that drops down and covers his face completely and a small boiler with short stacks on it. The weirdest thing is that he doesn’t carry any weapons. He just waddles around and goes head to head with the Dragon.

Can you imagine how ridiculous it looks when a knee-high ball of metal goes waddling up to a Dragon to fight it? Well Blit doesn’t care he waddles straight up; puffing and clanking. Normally, he’ll dodge a bit but then he just gets swallowed and you think he’s done for but that armour of his is special. It’s super tough and can withstand the bites and stomach fluids of a Dragon and when Blit is ready he activates the secret weapon. Once that happens, powerful spikes spring out and retract over and over again and the inside of the Dragon is peppered with holes. It is a horror to watch and you almost feel sorry for the Dragon as it retches and claws at itself to rid the pain from its guts. After a while, the Dragon falls down dead and once it is all still, Blit emerges from its mouth with a fire-stone in his hand.

I’ve talked to him about why he hasn’t gone back to the mines and he says that if he ever gets scared of the outside, he just closes his visor and he feels safe again. I think another reason is that he has become quite a celebrity and enjoys the opportunity to tell his tales and get rewarded. I must admit that I have become quite fond of the little chap… and he’s the only one I know who can drink as much ale as I do without falling over although I’m not sure whether some of that is down to his armour holding him up rather than his constitution.

Yes, I’d say we make a good team; me and Blit.

Monday 15 July 2013

The Ballad of Glack Miner

If you right click on the scroll and open in a new tab, it will regain its full size and will be easier to read.

Sunday 14 July 2013

It's not just a job.

Simon 'The Pious' strode forward into the forest. He knew what he was going to face. The locals called it the Great Wyrm and it lived in Spring-Tide forest. It was a fell beast of emerald green; a full fifty yards long. It's teeth were like short-swords and it's eyes were as orange as the dying embers of a fire. The Great Wyrm was a man-killer and it had taken a full baker's dozen so Simon knew it was time to slay the beast and bring peace to the land again so he set off into the forest with fire in his eyes and faith in his heart.