Trial of Heroes

Book One - Chapter One

Winter Falls

Book One:
When Dreams Collide

Chapter One: Winter Falls

Where the principle parties meet.
Year 574 – Sunsebb 10

001_-_Wintery_Forest.jpg

It was a cold, dark, wintery night. The month was Sunsebb; the day, 1 Sunday (the 10th of Sunsebb). Luna was still dark, with Celene shining bright and whole in the night sky. Not that anyone would know; the entire sky was blanketed in low, dark clouds. Snow was definitely on the horizon.

Eishan didn’t care. This was his third winter in Fallcrest, his third winter since that night of what he calls “The First Dream”. This was his third trip back to where it all began. A small ruined keep several days travel south. It would have been a far easier travel by horse or carriage.

Again, Eishan didn’t care. This was how it began, and this was how it was to continue. A journey, on foot, alone. “Until the dream changes,” he would say to himself – all the while suspecting that this “dream” would always remain the same.

The journey this year took longer; snow always complicates things. Every year, it seemed, snow would fall midway into his journey. As if the skies couldn’t decide to allow him to pass unhindered; or would instead make his trip as difficult as possible. More often than not, the trip became difficult: wind, rain, sleet, and snow would harry his steps on his yearly pilgrimage. This was no surprise.

This year was no different. One day of easy travel. Snow, rain, and sleet developing to slow his progress. In this weather, Eishan had no fear of being interrupted. He begins his meditations and ceremonies. He could not know that this year was not like the years before.

-

“Snow,” the young ranger thought to himself.

“I’ve always hated snow.”

Daniel continued to trudge through the falling flakes, subconsciously noting that this time, the snow was sticking. He did his best to adjust his heavy load; everything he owned was on his back. He also made a half-hearted attempt to count his steps.

“A hundred ears for a hundred steps,” was his mantra as his hate continued to boil. Orcs, kobolds, goblins; they would all pay for this forced journey. He was young; but there was plenty of vengeance to be had.

The snow continued to fall, piling up the inches. Daniel looked to the sky and assessed his situation. Night was falling soon, and the snow wasn’t going to end. He knew that he had to make camp soon, or risk being trapped unprepared.

A mile previous, he had discovered a half-prepared deer corpse.

“A badly done job, whoever did this has no clue what they were doing, or what they left behind,” he would think to himself. He lost valuable time taking as much of this now-frozen meat as he could. The more provisions he took now, he knew, the less he would need later. His shoulders hurt from the weight of his load; he could barely move.

Dusk was rapidly approaching, and still he continued. He had committed to travelling as far into the night as he could. He could make camp anytime, rest anytime. The closer he got to Fallcrest, the better. He could sense a blizzard on the horizon, and he did not want to be caught in such a storm.

Then he spied it.

Against the dreary backdrop of dusk, a camp fire. If luck was with him, there were travelers to share the night, and provisions. If luck was not, there would be orcs to kill. And if luck was against him? He shuddered at that thought as he drew his bow and carefully approached. He calmed his heart and his nerves; “a wasted breath is a wasted shot,” his father’s voice reminded him. This was not the time for either.

-

“Of course it’s snowing,” Jazelyn thought to herself.

There was no one else to say it to, after all. The tall elf knelt to tend the fire that she just started.

She looked upon the wintery scene she was surrounded in. Inches of snow had already fallen; the sky a heavy grey. The snow wonderland was a beautiful sight, if not an inconvenient one. She barely heard the footfall of a traveler in the distance. Her attention taken, she had almost missed the outline of a human figure approaching.

She stood her full height to greet this figure. Her battle armor shifted beneath her winter cloak. If there was danger…

-

It didn’t take long for Jazelyn and Daniel to go from unknown entities to unfamiliar fellows. Jazelyn had camping supplies that Daniel had had to leave behind. Daniel, for his part, had fresh kill and a knowledge of the land. Together, they would insure that they both would survive this oncoming storm. The fact that they were both headed to Fallcrest was serendipitous; and helpful to the both of them.

In the dark of the night, Eishan could spy their campfire. It was the only unnatural light on the horizon.

“Fools,” Eishan thought to himself, “in this weather, why not shine a beacon saying ‘come to me’ to every damned orc and bandit.” Eishan knew that it wouldn’t take much to convince any living thing to come investigate the fire’s glow, especially in weather like this.

Eishan could feel, though, that the dreams of those that created the fire, and his own dreams, were somehow intertwined; or at least they could be. Eishan begrudgingly packed his items, and began the journey to meet them – possibly to save them.

Across the land, the snow continued to fall.

-

“Fools!” Eishan screamed to them as soon as he was in earshot. The two sitting around the fire jumped up and drew their weapons.

“Don’t you know how much attention you are attracting; this fire can be spotted for miles around – and it’s the only one!”

“Who, in the hells, are you?” Jazelyn screamed back, her mace raised as she advanced.

“Everyone, to arms,” Daniel added, “there’s something approaching.”

Before anyone could react, giant rats unburrowed at the edge of their clearing. The scent of freshly cooked meat filled their nostrils; the fire reflected red in their eyes. Crawling slowly, it didn’t take long before the rat’s hunger overcame their cautiousness.

Daniel engaged with his bow; Jazelyn with her mace; and Eishan with his… thoughts?

Though Eishan carried a large quarterstaff that he used to assist his walking in this terrain and weather, this was not what he used to protect himself. Instead, he could be seen whispering to himself, and with a half smirk, greenish bolts of energy flashed like lightning from his hands.

There were many rats, however, and soon they began to overwhelm the travelers.

“Not this way… not this time,” Eishan began snarling at the rats. With his free hand he reached into his robes and unveiled a large orb that seemed to be made of some type of psychedelic quicksilver. He presented it to the rats, “even rats must dream.”

One of the rats stared into it, and quickly went belly up. Its painful squeals filled the clearing. The other rats quickly approached the cooking meat, only Jazelyn in their way. Quickly overwhelming Jazelyn, the rats began nibbling on her; the fresh blood bringing them into a frenzy.

Daniel drew his short sword; he didn’t want to risk firing into that mess.

Eishan, however, was faster. He ran until he stood atop Jazelyn’s fallen body.

Here me now, oh dreamer deep
Awaken not, and sleep yon sleep
But touch my mind, our dreams now mate
With this power, swords I create.

As he finished his incantation, a silvery-green sword appeared in front of him. Silently, the sword began to spin an intricate pattern. Quickly, it spun around Eishan slicing into everything around him.

“We can save the rat corpses for food,” Eishan offered after the fight, “they don’t taste half bad.”

“I’m sure that the deer meat that we have left will be better,” Daniel countered, “but there is a snow storm on its way, we need to find shelter.”

“There’s an old abandoned keep a few hour’s travel from here, I frequent it during the winter,” Eishan replied, “we can go there.”

“If there is time,” Daniel thought to himself. Instead he responded “let’s go.”

The party started on their way to the abandoned keep, but luck (and weather) was not on their side. The blizzard began to strike. Travel came to a snail’s pace, and nobody could see but an arm’s length ahead of them. They would not make the keep before the worst of this storm hit, and they knew it.

“What’s that,” Jazelyn asked; her elven eyes spotted something in the distance.

Daniel’s eyes followed to where Jazelyn was pointing to; just barely through the snow he could spot a cave. “Looks like shelter, let’s get to it!”

“There’s a door here,” Jazelyn said once they got to the cave entrance.

“We can see that,” Eishan replied.

“Look at the snow. I think it’s been opened recently,” Jazelyn offered.

“We can see that,” Eishan replied.

“Maybe we should investigate,” Jazelyn continued to offer, “better shelter, perhaps?”

“We need to be careful,” Daniel offered, “whatever opened this door didn’t leave any tracks, it may still be inside.”

“I’ll light the torches,” Eishan stated as he started rummaging his pack for a torch.

“Saenirr,” Jazelyn spoke, and touched Eishan’s staff. The tip of the staff flared; a bright ball of light now emanating from it. She spoke this word of power again, and her own mace flared to life.

The doors opened easily enough, the bottom brushed the snow aside. With their light the group saw a set of stairs leading down. The stairs led down about 15 paces down – about 30 feet.

“I’ll lead,” Eishan said. Without waiting for debate or discussion, he began down the stairs. Jazelyn went after him. Daniel shrugged his shoulders and began following the other two, stepping cautiously.

The group descended and discovered themselves in a tomb. Four statues were alcoved along the wall to their right, with large sarcophagi in front of each statue. At the foot of each sarcophagus was a large wooden chest. Immediately to the right was a torch sconce, there was one present in between each of the statues as well.

“I’ll put a torch in the sconce here, this way we have more light,” Eishan said. Again, without waiting for a response he moved forward.

click

Daniel knew that sound. A trap. The fool had activated a trap.

As fast as Daniel thought it, Eishan discovered it. The chest of the first statue opened up, an arrow flying out of it straight towards Eishan.

Slamming him in his shoulder, Eishan was knocked back into stairs.

The group then heard a light, high pitched tittering.

They were being laughed at! Two small reptilian humanoids appeared from behind one of the sarcophagi. Standing just over three feet tall, both Daniel and Jazelyn recognized this small creatures; hate and anger filling their senses.

“Kobolds,” they said almost in unison. With a shout, they lept into action, avoiding the trapped stone that Eishan had stepped on.

Then they heard it. Everyone heard it. The group stopped. The kobolds stopped. The sound of stone dragging on stone didn’t stop. From the other side of the tomb, they saw it. A skeletal figure with a short bow drawn came into view.

Then another. And another. Altogether, four skeletal figures armed with short bows and short swords came into view; they did not seem to appreciate being disturbed.

The kobolds shrieked in fear as they darted past the group; it seemed that their only concern was to escape. One of the skeletons raised its bow and fired at Eishan. It struck the same spot as the arrow trap! Eishan collapsed on the ground, consciousness fleeing from him.

“Perhaps we should escape as well,” Daniel offered. Jazelyn did not disagree.

The party ran up the stairs to the sound of skeletal footsteps slowly getting closer. It didn’t take much to force the door open; Daniel discovered that the kobolds were trying to bar the door. The kobolds ran, and Daniel noticed that these kobolds weren’t leaving a trail to follow.

“No matter,” Daniel thought to himself, “we have our own problems.”

The snow had already reached half a foot in height, and there was no sign of it slowing down.

“We will need to rest here,” Daniel said as Jazelyn began to work on the Eishan’s wounds.

“We cannot travel in this weather,” Jazelyn replied.

“No. we can’t,” Daniel said, his eyes upon the closed door leading to the tomb below. “We’ll need better shelter, and there appears to be only one spot I can think of,”

“We need to think this through,” Jazelyn responded, “we don’t want this to be our last shelter.”

“No, we don’t,” Daniel thought to himself. “It won’t be,” was all he said.

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Book One - Chapter One
Ouronos

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