Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Steelheart



            The air grew colder the closer he rode to the coast, and Remenissions made another prayer as the scent of salt air led to the sight before him: The Sword Coast at last.

            The water ebbed and flowed with a violent rhythm as waves crashed against the shore, the light of Selune and her tears spray glow like liquid silver.

            A biting chill blew off the water. Warm months were gone, and the sea before him spoke of cold months ahead.

Remenissions pulled the broken amulet from his pouch and stared at it, “A lot more trouble then I'd have expected just to let the world be rid of this thing.”

The paladin pulled his arm and back and threw his pieces as far forward as his strength would allow.  The dull and broken remnant of a tooth flew into the water.  Whether it sunk to the bottom or floated he could not tell, as the waves obscured most of his sight, and the crashing obscured his hearing

He breathed in deep and let the cool air hit him for a moment, “I guess ideas of traveling to the Moonshae Isles will have to be put on hold for a couple seasons. But I suppose anywhere is better than home.”

His face numb from cold, Remenissions turned his dappled grey around and started the return trip to Daggerford, the roar of the waves gradually fading to a whisper before being replaced by the silence of fall.

            Remenissions had lost track of the time, and the moon was little help in that matter. He knew he had not slept in some time, but he had expected to go a while longer before delirium set in. He was sure he must be unbalanced from loss of sleep, because what he saw in the distance did not make sense.

He was unsure of what it is at first, but as he approached was almost positive now.  He had found a giant boulder made of steel.

"What the?" Remenissions mumbled to himself. This was not the way he came. He would have noticed something like this on the journey westward.  He swung out his warhammer, resting its bulk on the pommel of his saddle.

"Tread lightly little warrior, what decision you make next may be your last." A massive voice came from all around him as the boulder stretched out a serpentine body, and flexed its reptilian wings.

The dragon, for Remenissions recognized it for what it was, yawned. Its steel colored scales shined bright in the moon light. Remenissions could not help but gape at the beauty and awe he felt in this creature’s presence, at the same time he felt his bladder constrict, and feared he would mess his breeches. 

            The dragon stood on its haunches, staring at Remenissions. The paladin was unsure what to do. He would not stand long against the dragon. He held the reins of his mount tight lest it try and run or buck him off. The horse seemed to care little that the dragon was there, enjoying the chance for a rest as it chewed on some of the dried grass of the plains.

            "Can't I take a nap with people trying to slay me?" The dragon chuckled.

            "You... you... you're..."  Remenissions found he was unable to complete a sentence as every story he had ever hear about dragons rant through his head.

            "A dragon yes, and you are or were a warrior in the charge of Torm." The dragon turned its head and eyed the paladin.

            "A... pal-paladin... w-were...?" Remenissions warhammer fell from his grasp, landing on the ground with a loud thud. The creatures voice both soothed and terrified him.

            "I am surprised you have not noticed yet," the dragon clucked its tongue, and reached down placing one of its claws on Remenissions horse. A bright light briefly lit the area around the paladin, healing the wounds of the paladin’s mount.

            "What species of dragon are you?" Remenissions blurted. Terrified and embarrassed the paladin tried to apologize, “didn’t mean to…”

            "I am a steel dragon, I am known as Steelheart."

            Remenissions sighed and let himself relax. He did not know much about dragons. He knew there are many classifications, and fortunately, he  knew he should be able to trust this one not to devour him just because he felt like it. He also knew that regardless it was a dragon and only a fool disrespects a dragon to its face, "Thank you for healing my horse."

            Steelheart the dragon chuckled and nodded, "but you have greater problems than a dragon. You do not have to be the most powerful of creatures to tell you are in turmoil."

                        Remenissions looked down at his own, "you knew Torm by my tabard?"

            "I knew Torm by the cloud hovering over your head,” Steelheart replied, “it has his distinct method of justice about it and about you." The dragon craned its neck down to look Remenissions square in the eye, "You are at a crossroads."

            "As I have been for the past year. This time the paths are just clearer."

“You do not seem to understand,” Steelheart replied, "you need to atone for what you have done. I think Torm had great hopes for you. I can smell on you what he is doing, and only one who has grieved him so much would have this done to them."

"I suppose you are right,” Remenissions replied “though a quick death would be an easier passing then this." The paladin remembered the feeling of the lizard man’s blood as it washed over his hand. “No,” Remenissions said, “everything I have done has been by his law. He has no reason to punish me."

            Steelheart the Dragon chuckled again, a deep throaty sound, "are you sure? You are still early in your change. What have you done in the last few days that may have angered him?"

            "I have done nothing,” the paladin snapped.  “I have sought justice when companions have fled. I have fought for the defense of other people. And I have given swift, painful death to the traitorous."
            “'Swift painful death to the traitorous?’” Steelheart replied, “and who were these traitors?"

             "A member of a tribe of lizard men in the swamp that had turned on their other tribes and started attacking human villages,” Remenissions said as he dismounted and retrieved his warhammer. He could feel the dragon’s gaze never leave him. "I killed him quickly seeing as he was a traitor to his people. Other's I killed in combat, thus more slowly."

             "Lizard men tribes fight each other for dominance. As they have always done, did he betray his own tribe?" Steelheart asked.

            "No,” Remenissions shot back. “Though he did not stand and fight valiantly. And if they have always fought, then why were they all at peace until this one tribe found an amulet to allow them to control the dinosaurs and use it to betray the peace of the land?"

"Are you sure everything is as you claim?” The massive dragon sat back, shaking the ground as he his oversized body came to rest, “Seems as if you may have executed a lizard man, when you had the chance to bring him to justice. The villagers he harmed may have been done some good seeing the creature go on trial."

            Remenissions snorted, "Justice and good coming of a trial executed by those put in positions of power are rarities. I have seen these trials often and have been taught by the ones that performed them. People in positions like that are not to be trusted to make the right decisions."

            "I can only surmise, young warrior, that you acted in haste,” Steelheart let out a long slow breathe, “you can seek atonement, or forgiveness. If you will excuse me, it is a beautiful night, and I wish to enjoy it." Without a word Steelheart stood up on his back legs and launched himself into the air.

            A mixture of fear and awe once more filled the paladin as he watched the steel dragon fly off into the night.

            "Good night then, dragon." Remenissions mumbled before once more mounting his horse and heading east, at least he hoped it was east.

            He rode for several more hours, or at least it felt like several more hours. His eyes were growing heavier and heavier as he pushed on. His eyes and ears were playing tricks on him. Many times he reached for his hammer only to realize he was about to attack a shadow created by clouds and the light of the moon.

That is why when he finally realized his danger, he thought only of riding past his minor hallucinations. That was until the first goblin attacked.

            From piled grass the small creature leapt, mace in hand, scoring a blow on the exhausted paladin.  He felt ribs crack and could smell the rust form the goblins mace as it stained his tabard.
                       
            A second goblin tried to followed suit, only to trip and stumble, dropping the mace on its own foot.

Steelheart, dragon and adviser.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Remenissions Journey to the Coast.



Marpenoth 19, 1367 DR - Year of the Shield

            Remenissions cantered south passing through fields, some plowed and some left fallow. Peasants worked the field at frantic pace, all struggling to begin the harvest. None paid any attention to the armored warrior on horseback riding through their fields and Remenissions was fine with that. He had a growing feeling of dread ever since he slayed the lizard man. It was scum, unworthy of life, but somehow he now felt wrong about it.
           
            He had hoped his growing dread would have decreased by now as he reached rough and rugged terrain. The slow ride through untamed plains and brush did little to ease his mind. Remenissions shrugged off the feeling as he continued his ride long after the sun set. The stars twinkled overhead only overshadowed by the fullness of Selune. 

            The paladin pushed forward giving his steed small rests as it needed. The horse’s temperament never improved, neighing and biting at Remenissions whenever the opportunity arose.

            “Relax,” Remenissions muttered as he patted the side of the horse’s neck, a vain attempt to calm it down.

            The infrequent clouds, remains from the storms above the swamp to the north, increasingly forced Remenissions to a walk as the darkness was near total. When the moon and stars once again broke through the cloud cover they played tricks on his eyes.
           
            The feeling of dread returned, as images of horrific beasts crawling after him swarmed his imagination. The grey dappled stallion stopped and refused to move. It neighed as the paladin dug his heals into the horse’s side. But still it removed to budge, its nostrils flared wide.

Remenissions at last took the hint and looked to his left and right. He cursed as a large cat jumped from the darkness. The paladin leaned back, causing the big cat to miss and land on the other side of him and the horse.  The plains lion’s eyes glowed in the moon light as Selune once more broke through the clouds.

“I must look like easy prey,” The paladin said as he swung out his warhammer from behind his back, “let me dissuade you of that notion.”

The plains lion snarled its response, lunging at Remenissions stallion with its claws.  Its instincts as a predator helped the big cat rip its claws into the hide of the horse. The horse screamed as the lacerations began to bleed.

            “Leave my steed be!” The paladin yelled. As the paladin swung his mighty hammer at the big cat only to see it dodge the blow and once more rake its claws into the horse.

            Remenissions stallion kicked out making the big cat growl as a hoof landed a soil blow to its ribs. The lion tumbled and once more charge at its bleeding prey as the horse reared up in panic.

            Remenissions struggled to stay in the saddle and heard a crunching noise as the horse finally set its front legs down.  The paladin looked around for the hungry lion, gripping his hammer tightly with both hands. He pulled back on the reins and the horse backed up. Remenissions looked in front over his steeds head. At last he found the lion. Its skull crushed and its brains clinging to his mount’s front hooves.

            He shrugged as the silence of the night returned to its normal white noise. Remenissions stopped the horse as he turned and looked once more at the dead lion. He slid off and walked up to the dead lion. Small insects had already started to claim the lion’s carcass, storing up its rotting flesh for the coming winter. The light of Selune as his guide he collected as many teeth as he could, and shoving them all into one of his saddle bags as he returned to his mount.

The horse’s temperament had only become worse as it bled form the parallel cuts along its side, biting into Remenissions’ hand as he grabbed for the reins.

“Stlarning horse!” The paladin cursed. His gloves stopped him from losing a finger, but pain will always be pain. “I get the idea. I will heal you.”

Remenissions once more let the reins hang loose and laid his hands upon the horse. “Torm, your humble servant and warrior in the name of Justice beseeches you to heal this poor beast.”

Remenissions waited, expected to see the slight glow from his hands and feel the warmth of his god’s love. Nothing, no worse than nothing, the paladin thought as he felt a distinct emptiness.

Remenissions pulled off his gloves and looked at his hands. They looked normal felt dry as the feeling of dread once more overcame him. The paladin shook his head, replaced his gloves and examined his horse’s wounds. The wounds looked angry but not deep and had already begun to clot.

He carefully grabbed the reins and mounted his horse, careful to not let himself get bitten again. Remenissions pushed on once more. Something was different. He felt slow, and disconnected. Every time he stopped to give the horse a short rest the animal would turn its head toward him, giving him an eye. As if making sure he was in fact himself.

Remenissions did his best to shrug off these thoughts. He was a true paladin of Torm. Not like those pretenders he left in Westgate.  They were all heretics as far as he was concerned.

Remenissions thoughts were broken as he heard the distinct sound of a cow. He cursed as he realized that he had let the horse ride him into the middle of a herd of someone’s cattle. He forced the horse to walk with slow and deliberate steps.  Even on horseback a stampede is a dangerous thing. Or so he had been told by a former friend.

The holy warrior looked around for the fastest way out of his dangerous situation, only to see a tent nearby. The soft orange embers of a fire recently gone out shined a dim light on the front of the tent.

Remenissions walked his horse up to the tent, “Hello?”

He waited for a response, only to hear the casual low moan of a nearby bull or cow.  Remenissions crept closer to the tent, his eyes alert as he looked for movement. The herd had created a space around the tent, and his steed began to resist his guidance. Soon her understood why as he smelled the distinct coppery scent of blood on the air.

Remenissions dismounted and armed himself with his scimitar and body shield. His eyes darted to and fro as he searched for a body or an assailant. Closer he crept peering as much as he could inside the tent.

May the gods watch over he muttered as he found the source of the scent, as well as the possible owner of the cattle. A young man in the brown leather breeches and homespun shirt had been torn to shreds.


“Mountain lion?” Remenissions wondered aloud. The paladin opened the tent flaps further, spying a dark colored feather in the moonlight. The feather sat upon pooled blood, though much of the blood appeared to have dried.  The paladin took the father for inspection in the morning sunlight, and began to poke around the deceased herdsman’s things, “You won’t need any of this anymore. And I still might. Thank Torm for small miracles.”

Remenissions pulled out a small healing kit bearing the mark of Chauntea. He pulled out trough bandages and prepared poultices and tried to do what he could for his horse.  

The animal’s attitude improved, but only enough so that it wouldn’t bite hm. But a little was better than nothing he supposed.

The paladin patted the side of the horse’s neck once more then went over to the cooling embers and stoked them up to moderate blaze.  HE looked around and narrowed in on what he needed. A small pile of wood and peat had been gathered, and he could see the pile in the silver light cast by the moon. The flames climbed higher and higher, soon his eyes stung from smoke and his skin burned when he was too close. The holy warrior nodded, it was time. He gathered the herdsman’s body into his arms, and prepared himself for the discomfort to come. With a stumbling gate born of exhaustion and the smoke from the flames, Remenissions approached the bonfire he had created and tossed the body into it.

            The corpse crackled and burned on its makeshift pyre. Remenissions stepped back and nodded, reciting a short funeral prayer. The words felt hollow and empty. As though there were no life to them. The feeling left him cold. He once more ignored these feelings and watched as the flames died down. He mounted his horse and pushed on to the coast. He would ride all night if need be.

Remenissions and the lion