Old Wives' Tales

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LadyTevar
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Old Wives' Tales

Postby LadyTevar » 2015-11-06 05:23am

It had been a long time since the town of Morshower had been attacked. Perhaps, too long, the old woman known as Granny Verry thought as she sat amid huddled, frightened children on the cobbled town road. Horsemen were continuing to round up stragglers, while men afoot were corraling them all in the wide central market around its water fountain of the Mage and the Dragon. Like cattle, the men were separated from the women and children, and then the younger women from the children and seniors. There was a purpose to all this, Granny knew. Until then, she and the other grandmothers whispered to the youngsters, helping to calm them and by extension their parents.
There was little resistance otherwise; the town relied on strong walls and reputation instead of force of arms. No one on either side of the mountain range wanted, or could afford, annoying the Mo'Cain Merchant Guild and the town of Morshower. Having control of the only safe path over the Dragon Break Peaks had brought the family wealth and also a certain untouchablity. No army had camped at their gates in over a hundred years, due to the threat of economic shutdown. Granny Verry couldn't recall the last time the Orcs raided, or goblins. Those were easy to put down.
And yet, the mercenaries had struck in the night, covered in a spell of silence to prevent even the smallest sound from waking the town. How they got in was clear in afterthought, and Granny Verry had to admit it was clever. The merchant caravan that had arrived too late for the last trip out openly admitted they were carrying weapons for sale. They even showed the wares for those who might be interested, although at prices that turned people away from buying. The ten men with the two wagons had been the inside force, silencing the alarms and opening the gate to the rest of the intruders. The Night's Watch were already in the market square, unconscious, bound, and gagged, when the old woman had been shepherded in. That, with the separation of the townspeople, told Granny Verry there was more to this than a raid for wealth.

It did not take long before Granny felt the spell of silence lift. A man in fine garments stepped onto a plank held by some of the bandits, and was raised up to be seen by all. "I am Enoe Werth, and for the moment, I am in charge of Morshower... or, should I say, Mord's Tower?" the man began, and Granny Verry recalled him instantly. He had come through the town before, and asked in the tavern about the legends of Mordkenkinen's Tower, the last stronghold the renowned wizard had built, and where legend said his greatest treasure lay. Enow had been years younger then; no grey in his dark hair, several pounds lighter, an apprentice looking for answers. But she remembered him. Granny Verry never forgot when a mage came to Morshower asking the wrong questions. He'd been fed lies and legends, and other tales of the tavern, and she'd watched to make sure Enoe had gone away with nothing of value; information or otherwise.
"I have spent many years waiting for this moment," the mage continued. "I searched ancient libraries, uncovered ancient dungeons, and pieced together hundreds of tiny clues left across three dead kingdoms. I even found the basis of the legend behind the Mage and the Dragon." Enoe Werth bragged, waving a hand at the stone water fountain. "You, the Mo'Cain, are the children of Mordenkinen, and here, in this town, is hidden Mordenkinen's Tower. I want what's inside. Then I will leave you peacefully."
Dead silence reigned after the pronouncement, as Granny Verry noted Mage Enoe said nothing about what the Mercenaries would do. The mage nodded, as if to himself. "I knew it would not be that easy. The hunt for knowledge never is. Bring me that woman," he pointed into the press of young women.
Young Ginny was the mayor's daughter, red-haired and green-eyed, and as fair as a nymph in the wood. Mage Enoe had been eying her as a target from the start, Granny knew. Now, it would be threats of torture, calls for the Mayor to break the silence or watch his girl die. The mayor would break, he was only human. He would tell what he knew, but it wouldn't be enough for the mage. Granny had to do something.
She stood up, saying just loud enough to be heard, "Come children, come with me. We'll we off to the Tavern fer a bit of a snack." The mercenaries, shifted, turning weapons towards her, but backed up as she started forward herding the children in front of her. Their hesitation nailed her thought; the Mage Enoe might leave in peace, but the mercenaries were looking for slaves as part of their pay. Boldly she looked up at Mage Enoe, meeting his gaze. "I'll be takin' the children elsewhere. They don' need to be seein' this." It was a challenge, and most mage egos did not take challenge well.
The effect on the man's ego was totally unexpected. Instead of ranting and demanding who she thought she was to defy him, the mage looked at her with eyebrow quirked, and then sat down on the plank. "You're right, children shouldn't see bad things happen to good people," he said conversationally, and the old woman realized how dangerous this mage was. "They should be sound asleep in their beds, dreaming of festivals and holidays," he continued, his voice almost sing-song, drawing all the children's faces to him. "Yes, they should all just be Asleep..."
The spell took hold fast, and the children wavered and toppled over like wheat before a scythe, deep in magically induced sleep that would hold them for hours. Even the other grandparents slumped down, unable to fight the urge to sleep soundly. Only Granny Verry was left uneffected by the spell, to the mage's sudden interest. "A spell of sleeping," she spat, loud enough for the children's parents to hear over their sudden panic. "Well, now that's problem solved nicely... They'll not be wakin' fer hours."
"But you did not fall asleep," Mage Enoe mused, hopping down off the plank to walk towards her. "Why is that, Granny Verry?" Getting his attention was Granny's plan, but he was not reacting quite as she wanted. It made her very cautious as he drew closer. "Oh, yes, I remember you from the last time I was here. Odd, you don't seem to have aged a bit. Why is that, Granny Verry?" he asked smoothly, stepping over a child to come closer to her. "Do you want me to guess?"
Granny Verry knew several reasons why the Sleep Spell would skip a person. Their strength of will could overcome it, for one. It was not that powerful a spell, after all. Those who fell to it were usually beings weak in mind and body, like goblins, or children. "I couldn't say," she answered truthfully, her voice nearly even. Damn the quiver of old age, but it brought a smile to Mage Enoe's face. Granny believed he thought it was fear in her voice.
"Do you know what I found in my research? A mention of a granny who misdirected the adventurers, sending them straight into a orc ambush," Mage Enoe answered his own question. "That was over two hundred years ago. But, before that, another mage was told that a aunty knew where the tower lay, but he too was waylaid."
Granny Verry straightened. This mage had done far too much research, had found far too many pieces of the puzzle. It was annoying how much had slipped through the purges. "So, you figured it out. The secret of the old wives tales."
Mage Enoe laughed, a sharp sound in the night. "Old wives, yes. That's been the secret all along, hasn't it?" he grinned like a dragon, all teeth and joy. "The men don't know, do they? They never have! It's all passed down the daughters!" he shouted in glee, throwing his arm back to point at Ginny.
"I've not told her yet."
That stopped his laughter, and Mage Enoe paused to gauge Granny's impassive face. He looked back to Ginny, who was shivering, and whatever he saw there was convincing. "No... of course not," he muttered, turning his eyes to the rest of the women. Whatever sign he was looking for, he couldn't find it behind their terror either, which left him looking down at the elders sleeping amongst the children. "You've not told anyone yet, have you, Granny? None of them have the brains to hide it all." He turned back on her, eyes dark with anger. "You will not be leading me astray, Granny. The tower isn't outside in the forest, or atop these peaks. The tower is right here, inside this town."
Granny Verry took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. It steamed a little in the air. She'd been counting, there were a full eighty trained men in the company. Even if she could make a diversion big enough, the townsfolk would not be able to take them all out at once. Another deep breath, and a slow exhale. Mage Enoe's grin was widening as the tension drew out, and Granny slowly started to nod. "I've no choice then, do I?" she said plaintively, turning away and slowly stepping over bodies to the water fountain.
The mercenaries moved the captives back, giving Granny and the mage room as she lead him to the back of the dragon. Here, the wings curved down to touch the brim of the fountain, arched like a double doorway from the dragon's back. "Of course...." Mage Enoe breathed, "I should have guessed.... Captain, will you join me, to make sure the good Granny doesn't treat us false?"
She'd noticed the captain before, but he was still only a secondary consideration. The squad of ten he summoned over, however, was not. It was the same ten who had pretended to be merchants, well enough to fool everyone. Now they were well armed and expecting treachery. Another deep breath that steamed as it exhaled, and Granny Verry stepped forward to put her hand on the dragon's wing.
The words she said were not just magic, but High Draconic. They rasped and growled out of her mouth inhumanly, casting the spell that opened the way to Mordenkinen's Tower. The wings shown, forming a great door between them. The fountain base also faded out, becoming a staircase up to the door. Granny Verry started forward, only to be grabbed by the arm.
"Oh no, you are not going first, Granny," Mage Enoe childed. "I do not want you triggering alarms and traps before the men and I join you." Uncomfortable, both at his grip and at his vision, Granny let herself be dragged forward between the mage and the mercenary captain. "Keep your hand on the shoulder of the man in front of you," Mage Enoe warned. "We wouldn't like to be separated going through."
Entering the tower was almost anticlimatic. Mosaic covered the floor, banners and tapestries still bright with color hung from the walls, which went up to dizzying heights. This entry room alone was large enough for the whole mercenary company to march through in formation, horses and all. The hallway beyond was emmense, stretching farther than the town's full length. The walls had stairways guarded by statues of men and beasts, leading to upper walkways lined with doors. Light came from above, filtering down from whatever ceiling might be up there, but whether natural or magical could not be said. The only one not in awe was Granny Verry. The grip on her arms had slackened, and none of the men had bows.
It was a quick and dirty little spell, but it never failed to surprise. Granny barked a sharp word, made a tossing motion, and instantly the twelve men around her were batting at a gold, shiny dust that was falling amongst and blinding them. Granny herself took off running out and into the colossal hallway, dropping the bent back and shuffling gait of an ancient aged lady.
Behind her, she heard Mage Enoe casting. Hold Person, she identified absently, letting it wash over her harmlessly. If he thought that would stop her, he was an idiot. Behind her, someone was runnning towards her. The captain, who wasn't blinded by her Glitterdust spell. She reached the hallway first, heading for the first set of stairs.
In the middle of the hallway, even with the staircases, she turned and faced the captain, casting as she did so. He swing at her, missing as she dodged and finished the spell trigger. With a creaking crumbling sound, the armored statues to her right came to life, stepping off the pedestal and closing in on the captain. It's twin stepped down and started towards Mage Enoe and the blinded mercenaries with slow measured paces. Across the colassal hallway, two stone leonid beasts shook themselves to life and padded in the same direction.
Mage Enoe was no fool. He ran for the gateway out, only to run into the wall. The gate was there, he could see it, but he couldn't go through it. He didn't have one of the triggers. He didn't have the Bloodline. The captain, judging the statue's speed, took the chance to swing once again at Verry. She merely held up her arm and let it bounce off as if hitting scaled armor. She grinned at his shock and surprise, much like Mage Enoe had earlier. "I do not like ssslaverrss," she hissed she took her true form.
The true reason for the size of the hallway was revealed -- it was to hold the sheer bulk of Vaerilevexen, ancient wyrm and once companion of a wizard who went by both Leomund and Mordenkinen, and who had created many spells dealing with demi-planes. Her scales were the color of autumn trees; crimson and russet, vermillion and blood red. Her wings stretched nearly up to the hidden sky, burning red embers outlined in black. Her head was immense, with ash-pale horns that curled back and up like the prow of a ship. But it was her eyes, those brilliant green eyes so like Ginny's, that terrified both captain and mage. This time when Vaeri inhaled, it was to blast the captain from above with the full force of her breath weapon. The heat of the flames roiled over his body, boiling his blood in his veins. When it stopped, his entire upper torso was gone, burnt away. His dessicated legs stood in rictus comedy, two smoking twigs with the smelted remains of his sword.
Vaeri breathed in again, enjoying the scent of baked mortal. It had been some time since she'd had a chance to let go. The blindness had worn off the other mercenaries, but beset by stone golems and a colossal red dragon, they were screaming for Mage Enoe to get them out. Well-contained for now, Vaeri ignored them. There was the matter of the rest of the mercenaries, all seventy of them, left guarding behind. In Her Town. With Her Children. Children who needed reminded how to fight, even if surprised. They needed punished... perhaps if the men who let themselves be captured should die valiantly....
A familiar twinge hit Vaerilevexen between the eyes. It was not as prominent now, well hidden by her scales and her size, but the ruby that marked her debt to Mordenkinen was still there and able to remind her of her promise. Protect the Tower and their Bloodline. While one could find wiggle room, arguing that what was inside the tower wasn't exactly covered, Vaeri was a Dragon. Everything in the tower was Hers, just as every single red-haired human in the village was Hers. One does not come and mess with a dragon's horde, much less with that of a RED dragon.
But first, she could feel her breath weapon was again fully stoked, and she knew a trick to make it last longer and burn hotter. A word in Draconic had the golems blink back to their pedestals. The remaining mercenaries stared in confusion, but Mage Enoe looked to Vaerilevexen in fear. She closed in on the entry room, breathing deeply through a wide grin as she did. They had no where to run, no where to hide. Then, there was only ashes, and Granny Verry stepped through the portal. One dragonic mage against seventy human fighters seemed bad odds ... for the Mortals.
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madd0ct0r
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Re: Old Wives' Tales

Postby madd0ct0r » 2015-11-06 10:48am

it's a little less coherent towards the end, but that might be intentional.
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LadyTevar
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Re: Old Wives' Tales

Postby LadyTevar » 2015-11-06 08:19pm

I'm not sure if it was coherent, or the fact it was 5am and I'd been up since 8a.
Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.
"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" -- Leonard Nimoy, last Tweet


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