Age of the Dragons
Ah, the twists and turns life take us on… When your feet start down a path and you just start to get comfortable, there is a fork in the road or if your unlucky a jagged cliff plummeting into an gaping abyss of darkness and nightmares. My life started simply in comfort and fond memoirs. My parents where kind, raised me to respect and help others for the betterment of everyone in our small town of Braven. I was lucky then, the most beautiful girl in town, Sarah, chose me for her lad. I’m not talking about an ethereal beauty of silk and lace I’ve encounter later in life but a stable earthly beauty. The way the sun glinted of her hair, the way she smiled; the left corner of her mouth tugging slightly before blossoming as flower to the sun. She was my hearth and she was my home always. I still don’t know exactly what she saw in me, a lowly lad with dirt behind his ears apprenticed to a leather worker but we built a humble life and started a family. If I ever had grander dreams of moving to the city and opening my own tannery. Passing my trade down to my sons. It was so peaceful, I was content, and they ideal sunlight dreams.
It wasn’t to last though. Our little town was along the border of a neighboring kingdom and one day men came pouring out of the mountain pass. At the head of the charge was a large man in sinister looking heavy armor carrying a standard showing three interlocking steel rings on a white and red background. I was at the shop when the screaming started. My master rushed to the door only to be met with a naked blade. I was stunned, my eyes affixed on the blade protruding from my master back, his body now robed in crimson. The searing image nearly cost me my life. A monster of a man followed the blade into the room, seeing me rooted to the floor like a rabbit in a snare a broad grin spread across his face. As he advanced upon me I was finally able to break my mind free and I sprinted for the back door, a disgruntled shout following my flight. Far from freedom I dashed into a hell that had sprang up to engulf my small town. People running, screaming and being cut down. Halve the town ablaze. I too, ran for my home, my family, my only thought was to protect them from this madness, make sure they where safe and to escape the demons that shattered my peace.
I was able to reach my home in one peace by miracle or devils design, I know not. My house lay on the outskirts of Braven, closer to mountains than most and it seemed miraculously in tact. My hopes soared seeing the chickens in the yard and house not ablaze. Then came crashing down for as I approached one of the raiders leaves by the front door. Rage washed over me and, seeing only blood, I blindly charged the man as he fumbled with his belt. Plowing into him, I bore him to the ground his head making a resounding crack as it struck the cutting log by the door. Dragging myself to my feet, I lurch to the door knowing what waits inside but not able to stop myself. The smell of blood hit me full in the face as I entered. The tang it left in my mouth lingers in my worst dreams to this day. A gurgling noise caught my attention, drawing my gaze to my wife as she gasped her last breath her life’s blood pouring from a gadded gash across her throat. One eye as clear as the day we met, a sharp contrast to the other. It was as swollen as a pig carcass left in the sun for a week, crusted over with blood. Her clothes torn and disheveled. One arm bent at a grotesque angle. I dropped to my knees tears streaming down my face, wishing I’d never stepped through the door. Tearing my gaze from my wife longing for any kind of reprieve as my world crashed down around me. It wasn’t to be had for my daughter’s body lay next to her in little better shape. My son pinned to the wall a bolt through the chest. His last moments would have been the violation of his mother and sister. My mind trying to regent the things that lay before my, wanting to run but nowhere to go. I turned and the contents of my stomach added its own flavor to the stench of the room. Rage and sorrow combated for control until nothing was left. Darkness then clouded my mind and nothing was left to see.
When I woke there was nothing left of the town but ruins and ash. I take it if anyone else had survived they had already moved on. I was one of the hardest thing in my life to do but I did right by my family. I washed and rapped their bodies, dug their graves, and laid them to rest on a hilltop under the maple tree that grew near our house. A favored place of ours. Its where Sarah and I spent many a night and watched the sun rise. Where we conceived our first child. I had no words to say, often I wondered if they found peace without a priest to guide them to the next life. There was not I could do about that, though. There was something I felt I could do though. So I walked back to the corpse of the raider, retrieved his weapon and left seething for vengeance against those who had wronged me. It never occurred to me then why they hadn’t bother to go looking for there dead or retrieve the equipment left behind.
I turned a new page in my life then. My goal always in the forefront of my mind. I went to the city i’d once planned on making a new home in. Joined the guard and rose quickly through the ranks, finding out who the symbol belonged to. Then with unwavering loyalty to the king and willingness to do what ever it took to get the job done, I found a new niche in life. Diplomat, spy, assassin. Many titles, many jobs, all for the “good” of the kingdom. All until the day my actions lead me to the doorstep of my nightmares. I’d set into motion a plan to bring my nemesis to his knees. It started so simply. A work here, a knife there. It lead to a desperate man doing desperate things to save what little he had of his power he had. Worst part was, he was just a pawn on a much bigger board. I watched as his small part of the world burned. The screens and death I witnessed that day made me realize I’d become what I hated most. I was now the raider. The realization left me stunned. I didn’t even try to move out of the way as peasant lunged at me with his rusty blade. He struck me in the gut and was then cut down. Holding my stomach and trying to stanch the bleeding I stumbled back to camp. I didn’t go to the healers we had on hand but to my horse. I mounted and road away. I didn’t stick to roads, had no destination in mind and only stopped when exhaustion made me. My horse died, my wound got infected, still I moved on. Welcoming the pain of body in an attempt to escape the pain of the soul. Stumbling through the woods on my last legs, I collapsed. Death was soon to come. I knew it even through my fever rattled brain. Would I finally escape the ruined life of mine? Then I saw Sarah. My beloved and cherished Sarah. As vibrant as the first day we met. She beckoned me to her, the smile I so loved on her lips and turned to leave. Using my last reserves to drag myself to my feet and lurch after her. Calling after her I begged her to wait and not leave me again. If only I could reach her I knew everything would be alright. I could undo my past mistakes and remake the world with her in it. I became to run after her sunlight hair. Her pace never seemed to change but I never closed the distance to her. Finally with nothing left to give my body fell again. She finally stopped turned and smiled one last time before vanishing. Was I inside? How did this happen? I rolled onto my back and found myself at the base of an alter. Laughing, gurgling, choking I thought it a fine joke, my final act to desecrate this abandoned alter to a probably forgotten god. The darkness closed in, my breath rattling, then stopping altogether.
My vision faded, then a burst of light and a voice.
“Do you wish to see your love again? Do you wish to hold her in your arms? Talk with your boy, seek forgiveness for your daughter? What will you give to so? I seek a man of your bearing. I seek a man who will be an extension of my will, to heal and protect the weak. You have much to answer for and much to do to right all the wrongs you’ve wrote. Through faithful service to me, I’ll reunite you to your family. What say you? "
“Yes! With all my being and heart yes!”
“Then you will be remade and reborn to this world. You will be my son and you will learn and follow my teachings. An example to all of men should strive to achieve.”
Another page turned. I had a new driving goal in my life and as with everything else I dedicated all to its pursuit. I learned of Leoh and the Chance at a new beginning he gave me. His path lead me to Tarren Hill and a group that needs my help. Especially the little girl pip who some how got tangled in this mess. So like my own daughter lost and yet so different. I hope to guide her down a righteous path but I have to accept that her path is different from mine. I think I can teach and guide her to do right by the people of the world if not right by the law of the world. We’ll see.