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.|