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Posted by
Jul 17, 2005

Lightning flashed, a crack of thunder boomed across the land. A lone traveller made his way through a village towards two points of light, the local inn.

The lone traveller opened the door of the inn to drunken looks and stares from the local youth. He shouldered his rucksack and drew back the hood of his cloak. A fat, balding man stood behind the bar absently cutting meat with a small dagger.

"You'll be wanting a room then?" The barman asked, without looking up. "One for the night will do" the traveller replied.

"5 Silver coins" stated the barman. The traveller paid the barman and deposited his belongings in his room.

The traveller went back to the centre of the inn, which had filled up considerably since he arrived. He found a seat at a table in a dark corner of the inn, just out of the firelight.

He looked across to the other resident of the table, an old dwarf and introduced himself. "Greetings, I am Zane" "I be Otho" replied the old dwarf.

"Well Zane, it looks like we are going to be here for a while. This here village, Bladrun is known for having storms which last for a score of days at a time. You won't be able to leave this inn."

Otho looked towards the window where all that could be seen was a curtain of rain, pummeling the earth.It was then that the barman came with the meal for the night. Zane ordered two beers and turned back to his meal.

"Have we met before?" Asked Zane, between mouthfuls.

"'tis unlikely. Although you remind me of a man I once knew, a man by the name of Blade" Otho turned back to his meal.

"My great grandfather was called Blade. I have been told he was a great warrior." Zane said, finishing his meal.

"Aye that he was. He was the greatest warrior of his time, and my best friend." Otho finished his meal and the beers arrived.

Otho fixed Zane with a look, a look telling of ages passed.

"Since we are to be here a while I will tell you the story of this great man." Zane settled into his seat, clutching his beer as the old dwarf launched into story...

Posted by
Jul 17, 2005

"Once upon a time on a dark and stormy night, and this is a true story-"

"You've got to be kidding." Zane interrupted, almost spilling his mug.

"Bwah, I caught Blade with that line too, ya really are his bloodline." Otho retorted. "Actually the skies were dismal that day, a wednesday if I recall correctly..."

From the bushes, the dwarf lept upon the boy's back, grabbing his cheeks as his prey made a sound close to "yeeewarfffuh!" The giant child stumbled around with the ravenous kobold upon his back until he slipped upon a mudpatch, flipping upwards and solidly on the body of his assailant. Scrambling up, the boy yanked his sword from his belt and rained blows upon the dwarf, who was still quite in shock from being squashed. "Arg, get that wooden toy away from me ye stupid manchild!" he yelled as he held up a thick hand to shield himself and the other to rise from the ground.

The young man circled around the now standing dwarf while keeping his sword pointed at his target. "You shall be the first opponent I defeat on my quest to greatness!"

"Not with tha' stick of a weapon ya wieldin." Otho caught a laugh. "You be tresspassin on me lands boy, didn ya read the sign?" The stub man pointed to the sign a mere walk from their location.

"How can I trust you, vile vexing venomous vermin!" Shot back the child, still circling.

"Cuz ya can't read dispite ya vocabulary, and I'm not a vermin, thank ya very much." The boy stopped circling and relaxed his guard, but only slightly. "What's ya doin all th' way out 'ere anyway?"

The boy raised his elaborate stick to the sky. "I am on the quest to greatness!"

Otho stared stalely. "Ya parents know this?"

The child dropped his sword arm to his side taking up a halfboyish stance. "'ve been lost for a few days, but I'm going to prove to them that I can achieve greatness!" He raised his psuedosword to the sky once more.

Otho ignored the last comment altogether, thinking about the possiblity of a reward for the missing child. "Well lad, then come wi' me, Otho the OrgeFlail, and I'll find you greatness and your parents-what's your name?"

Striking another heroic pose the boy answered "Blade, the BeastSlayer!"

Groaning, Otho started walking. "Come along then Boy the BranchSwinger..."

"It's Blade! I swear!" Blade started to follow indignantly

Posted by
Jul 18, 2005

Otho let out another small laugh at Blade's antics. And truly the child was a sight to behold. His plain white shirt ruffled with the steady winds of that day, and though the skies would've presented a dismal attitude, there was a light in his eye like a fire that refused to be put out. On his legs, he wore a pair of dark pants, stained, most likely from running around in the mud that littered the ground from recently fallen rain. Short, disheveled, crimson hair sat atop his head, crimson like a newborn flame. Truly, his entire form seemed to hint at an aura of audaciousness too great for human eyes. Otho looked upon him fondly, if only because of the slight chance that he would get some much needed Silver coins upon Blade's safe return home.

Leaves rustled in the trees around them, as Otho lead the boy to the nearest town. Most likely Blade had run away from there as there was not another town for miles. Moments later, the duo found themselves out of the wild and on to the road to Truigal, a peaceful village spared the trouble of being located on a major trade route.

"Where are you taking me?" asked the boy impatiently.

"Ya'll see," replied Otho, his hard face betraying no hint of his intention. Satisfied with this answer, Blade drew his "weapon" once more and swung it around in the air, yelling out occasionally as imaginary foes were vanquished one by one. Unable to resist, Otho chuckled.

"What's so funny?" retorted the boy, noticing the sudden disturbance in his pretend battle.

"Ya remind me of someone."

"Who? Was he a great warrior?"

"Ya could say that," replied the dwarf, beaming a little.

Finally, after an hour of marching, fighting, and victories, the unlikely companions found themselves at the edge of the village Truigal. Above them, the dismal clouds had begun showering the already waterlogged land with even more drizzle.

"You mean I could've just followed that road to get home?" said Blade, somewhat disheartened.

"Firs' the sign, and now this. I dun see how ya survived that many days out there in the wild. Anyway, so which way's ya home?"

Otho smiled a little, the glint of silver in his eye, as Blade began to lead him around town

Posted by
Jul 19, 2005

Trudging through the mud and rain alike, the lad led the dwarf through the hamlet's roads.

"So, this great hero I remind you of," the boy questioned smugly while holding himself up high, "can you tell me about him."

"Hold it right there, Otho," interrupted Zane. "Is this going to turn into a story with in a story?"

"Nay, human one, I would be too full of mead to keep that mess sorted," replied the dwarf before downing another pitcher. Wiping the foam from his lips and beard, he went on with his tale.

"I cannot tell ya much, man child," confessed the OgreFlail, "as I was only a wee thing myself when I met him, and for a dwarf, that's sayin' somethin'. His name was lost to his own livin' legend, bein' called only then by the title, 'The Mighty'. 'Tisn't typical, but I only remember that human as well as I do since he saved my life when I stumbled into the gold laden den of a drake. I remember everything about him and always shall." Awestruck by the hero's majesty, the human child continued on in silent, deep thought. Otho was contemplating as well but on a different matter. Peering about the city ways and houses, he saw no sign of life at all. Even in the downpour, there should have been some hint of activity. "Ey, kid, is your town normally this quiet? ... Kid?" He awaited a response, but one never came. Blade was intently focused on studying his surrounds with a demeanor the kobold had not seen about him before. "What is it, boy?" No verbal answer was given. The lad squat low to the ground and, before advancing, pointed off in some direction. Confused, the finger's path was traced to the front of a house whose door was smashed open with large claw marks rending the doorway. "Ey, kid, why dun ya get somewhere safe, huh? This doesn't bode well at all." The child had already advanced some way and now remained crouched in the mud with his hand on his makeshift weapon's handle, awaiting something. Before the squat legs of the dwarf could carry him to the boy's position, a terrible thing lurched from one of the alleyways ahead: a large, lumbering beast that walked upon all fours whose speckled hide was covered in sparse bristles and warts. Thick, powerful claws adorned each of its three-toed feet while a mauled carcass hung from its massive jaws. It's long ears perked at hearing the slightest sound of breathing through the heavy rain, and its six eyes went quick to find the source. The top, left one was first to locate the two humanoids, and the rest joined in the honing as its huge body turned to face them.

"I believe we know why the town is so quiet now," coldly stated Blade, who was pulled back by the dwarf.

"Aye, we would," he agreed while removing a thick mace from his back. "Now stay at a distance, boy, this could get ugly.

"But-" A loud click sounded with a turn of the weapon's handle as the large head plummeted to the muddy earth attached by a released chain. Building up speed with his flail in the air, Otho charged the evil beast. The heavy head struck hard and true against the monstrosity's skull, resonating a dull thud through the empty streets. Slowly, its head lowered back to its original position as its many eyes blinked out of conjunction. It was slightly phased by what should have been a fatal blow, but that was all. Its putrid skin was not even scratched. With a sweep of its stout neck, it crashed its head against the kobold, rocketing him up onto, and eventually through, the roof a nearby house.

"Ack, that would be a firs'," the OgreFlail huffed as he worked to gather his wits about him, but then he remembered the child, and knew he had no time to spare. Forcing himself to travel on wobbly legs, he only managed to stagger to the doorway before collapsing against it. Barely able to raise his head, he saw the small boy now boldly standing before the monster while retrieving a pouch from his belt. Opening it, he tossed its contents before the behemoth.

"Are these what you seek, mother," he questioned, "your children?" The pouched contained what seemed to be severed ears, similar to those possessed by the beast who roared fiercely at the presentation. "I did not mean to cause you suffering, but they threatened my life. I did what had to be done. My village should not have been blighted for my actions. Your ordeal is with me, and it will end by me." Drawing up his crooked, wooden sword, he called out, "SplintEdge, Vile Bane, aid me now as you have before." The dwarf smacked the side of his head with a broad palm as he was not sure just how hard he had been hit. In spite his uncertainty, the battle began as the monster lunged at the slayer of her young. Spryly bounding out of the way, he drove his stick down into the back of the beast's head as it passed, striking like steel. Gingerly landing upon the unsteady ground, he faced his enemy who crashed into it harshly. Springing herself backwards with its front legs, her back pair lashed out, catching the boy by surprise, but she was still not quick enough as he was able to lean out of the way enough to avoid any physical harm. The ruffles in his shirt, however, were caught on the talons and were torn from his body.

"Now I know I ain't seein' right," the dwarf swore as he rubbed his eyes thoroughly. Looking up again, the image was still there. The shirtless lad assailed the monster with a consistent rhythm of blows, striking vulnerable locations such as joints and the eyes while weaving around any attacks against himself. Such was not what Otho had trouble accepting. On the boy's chest, and back as well as more, was a large, intricate marking. The black lines bent around his form but a shape arose nonetheless. It was a mark that he had seen when he was but a youth when mountains that were no more had stood. It was The Mark that he had seen emblazoned upon the shield of The Mighty, the great hero of legend

Posted by
Aug 2, 2005

Blade performed a complicated flipping maneuver onto the beast's neck where he plunged SplintEdge into the gap between plates. The beast reared up and Blade fell back. He scrambled to his feet and ran over to where Otho was.

"Are ye all right laddie?" Otho asked as he lurched towards Blade for support. "I'm fine, but are you?" Otho's face turned white as the beast came crashing back down and lumbered towards them. Then, with a colossal scream the beast's legs gave way and it fell to the ground in a shuddering halt.

"Look Blade, I'm sorry about your family..." Otho turned towards Blade "Oh it's ok, I am an orphan you see."

"Yes I do.." Otho realised that all hopes of a reward for the boys return was out of the question.

"All I was told was that I was left at the local monastery till I was 12 and I have been at the Orphanage for a year. The town was no loss for me, everyone was nasty to me except for the monks" Otho drew out his pipe and lit it up before replying,

"Yes. How did you come about to have those marks upon you Blade?"

"I've had them since I was born. The monks didn't know where they came from either." Otho drew deep on his pipe, "Blade, how would you like to come to my home village to see the grand elder. He will tell us the origin of the markings" Blade looked around, deep in thought." Yes, I will come with you Otho" Otho emptied his pipe "Good. but first we will go back to my home and get you a real weapon."

Blade and Otho trudged wearily out of the smoking ruins..

** There is still more to this story. Continue to the next page. **

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