Dragon’s Breath Option Aa: Find Out More

Welcome back for the end of Jael’s adventure! Thanks to everyone who participated. It’s been a pleasure to share her writing with you.

Now let’s see where the adventure takes us!

Dragon’s Breath Option Aa: Find Out More

blue-dragon-1578149You desperately need to get out to find the flower, get home, and heal your sister, but the temptation to stay and find out more is almost overwhelming, so you creep even farther into the cave. Suddenly, you hear voices again.

“Gosh,” says one, “that human has made the entire cave system smell.”

“Come on Greatness, it’s not that bad,” says another.

You can’t see them so you assume they’ve moved elsewhere in the cave.

“Well, I agree with Phoenix,” says another dragon, “your nose hasn’t been right since the Great Depression.”

“Very untrue,” responds the first dragon, sounding injured.

“Hey ladies, knock it off. Greatness’ sense of smell is perfectly fine,” says a male voice, all the others have been female.

“Don’t you dare call me a lady, Glacier,” hisses Phoenix.

You’ve never really been afraid of animals but this dragon’s voice is the definition of scary, maybe because there’s an underlying tone of threat in her voice.

“I can smell them too,” says Glacier.

“Oh really, and that makes you right?” says a new voice, another male.

“No, but your noses aren’t very good anyway,” replies Glacier.

“Oh really?”

“Yes.”

“Ha, like that’s true,”

As you’ve been listening, your nose starts to itch madly, warning you that you really have to sneeze. You try everything, from pinching your nose to holding your breath. All of a sudden, you can’t hold it any longer and, you sneeze, and it isn’t just a tiny sneeze. It’s one that the entire cave system can hear, bouncing off the walls and echoing back to you. The talking inside cuts off abruptly. You hear feet marching toward the door and then a huge dragon looms in front of you. She’s black with silver scales scattered across her body.

“What is it, Phoenix?” asks Glacier.

“It appears that you and Greatness were right, the human’s right here.”

The dragons all start talking at once.

“What did it hear?”prison-1198488

“We should put it in prison.”

“What is it doing out?”

Then Glacier’s voice above all the others, “Just put it in prison.”

Then both he and Phoenix grab one of your arms and carry you off.

Sad to say, you didn’t survive that prison. You always wondered what happened to Cassandra.

The End

Oh no! Not exactly the ending we were hoping for but well done, Jael, on writing this adventure! Next week we get to explore Haylee’s adventure. I’ll introduce her on Tuesday =)

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

Dragon’s Breath Option A: Tell the Truth

Welcome back to the adventure! It’s awesome to see everyone again and get the ball rolling with such a fun adventure. Let’s get back to it!

Dragon’s Breath Option A: Tell the Truth

You’re tired and don’t think you can make something up on the spot. Liam has removed your gag, so you tell him everything fromblue-dragon-1578149 the moment your sister fell ill, but once you get to the part about needing Dragon’s Breath, he jumps up and runs off at top speed without a backward glance.

“Well, that was interesting,” you mutter.

Having nowhere else to go, you follow Liam. You pass many cave entrances, but one in particular strikes you as strange, with glowing orbs of fire hung around the sides and top of the mouth.

So, abandoning your plan to follow Liam, you stop and look in. What you see almost makes you scream again. Thankfully, you have gotten better control of yourself. Five gigantic dragons stand in the room beyond. Three of them look related to Ruby, the blue and green dragon who left with the big white and yellow one. The rest of them look like neither of the others. They’re murmuring too quietly for you to hear them so you creep closer and hear a bit of the conversation.

“We need to attack now while they’re least expecting it,” says the largest one, one of the ones not related to Ruby.

She’s picking her teeth with something that looks disturbingly like a human thigh bone, your stomach lurches as you realize that’s exactly what it is.

“But what if that little one can tell us something, like what kind of weapons they have? And what about the barrier?” argues one of the ones related to Ruby.

With a jolt, you realize they’re talking about invading the mainland. Though you’re not sure what the barrier is.

So do you:

Aa:Find out more?

or

Bb:Sneak away?

Adventure to finish on Tuesday. See you all then =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

Dragon’s Breath

confetti-1154283Hello everyone! It’s great to be back to the adventure and I can now reveal a surprise that’s been brewing since last fall.

When the school year started, my sister asked me to help with my nieces’ and nephew’s English lessons. She wanted to work on their story telling and teach them such things as protagonist, point of view, setting… you know, all the story telling things that are right up my alley!

And the kids blew me away. They put me to shame! Seriously, I need to up my ante to keep up with them. =)

The fantastic part is…they wrote their very own adventures. Options, multiple endings, the whole speel.

So for the next while, we get to explore the adventures these kid’s imaginations came up with! It’s gonna be awesome!

This first adventure was written by Jael.

Let’s meet her in her own words:

My name is Jael Rohman. I’m 11 years old, in 7th grade and I have always wanted to write a story. I wrote a poem that was published in Creative Communication. I’ve started writing tons of books but never finished. This is the first time I’ve ever finished a story, and it’s a little long. I love reading and some of my favorites are the Wings of Fire series, the Wish List and so many others. Enjoy the adventure. “

And now on to Dragon’s Breath

“Hey!”

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

You jolt out of a dreamless sleep, look around and think until you remember where you are. The dripping of water off enormous, vine covered trees reminds you, you’re  in the middle of a rainforest island being kidnapped by dragons. Right. You suddenly remember your dogs who you brought with you but you don’t see them.

“Hey!” the voice repeats.

You try to turn around and realize you’re lying down and your hands are tied in front of you. You look up instead and almost scream. Thank goodness you’re gagged as well as tied up.

Three tremendous dragons stand above you. One is green and blue and looks to be female. The second is brown and gold and definitely male.The final one is a male with scales so yellow they’re almost white, and they hurt to look at.

“Oh good, he’s awake,” says the green and blue female.

“I told you he wasn’t dead,” says the gold and brown one, sounding relieved.

You glance at the last dragon, expecting him to say something, but he just continues to examine you with obvious contempt. Finally, he says, “Liam, take the prisoner to the dungeon, then follow me an’ Ruby to the council room.”

“Yes sir,” replies Liam, the gold and brown dragon.

As the other two leave the room, he walks towards you, gently picks you up and asks, “What are you doing on Dragon Island?”

You can’t decide how much to tell him. You came to the island to find a flower called Dragon’s Breath to heal your sister, Cassandra, from a fatal sickness called Hydra-Bane. Liam seems trustworthy, but you never know with dragons.

So do you:

A: Tell the truth?

or

B: Make something up?

Thanks Jael for the adventure! We’ll continue on Thursday.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Time and 2016

Wow time moves fast anymore! Makes me think, when I’m gray in the hair, that I’ll blink and decades will pass.

Awe well, such is life, right? =)

Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be intentional with right now. In fact, it just reinforces for me the need to be intentional and not let

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

the things we want to accomplish slip away because time falls through the hourglass.

Looking back on 2015, I accomplished only a few of the things I wanted, particularly in writing. So to start off 2016, I’m going to take January to finish one of my 2015 goals.

That would be finishing the last edit on Dryad and getting it ready to submit. This has been my writing baby for quite some time now and it’s time to get it done!

What that means for the blog? Sadly, that means a short break. But I’ll be back in February with a bit of a surprise. Promise =)

Till then, Happy New Year! And good luck with your own goals =)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Tracker

forest-and-fog-1406291Fog swirls around your feet in playful eddies. You watch them instead of the back of the man walking in front of you. Even though you’re not looking at him, however, you can’t escape what his presence means.

His knock came at your door less than an hour ago. You live well away from town, anyone visiting in the early hours of the morning isn’t a good sign, but this one’s even worse than usual. Grim faced and clothed in his distinctive blacks, he held out his badge and asked for you to follow him. It wasn’t a question though. You weren’t given a choice. No one refused the Inquisitor.

“Found the body by the lake,” he starts explaining without any preamble. “Someone took a wire to the girl’s neck.”

“Who is it?” you rummage up enough courage to ask.

The Inquisitor glances over his shoulder. The look’s dark, disapproving. “None of your business. All you have to worry about is tracking the culprit.”

You keep your silence although part of tracking is anticipating where somebody’s going to go and seeing if the evidence supports your guess. A-wounded-deer-heads-toward-water kind of thinking.

The sun crests the horizon before you reach the scene. It’s not warm enough, though, to burn off the fog. All it does is make it bright and crisp.

“Over there,” the Inquisitor gestures to where you can just make out the edge of the lake in the fog. It laps gently against the dark rocks of the shore.

You see the crumbled shape of the woman and approach by stepping on larger rocks. You needn’t have been so careful, though. There’s a bevy of footprints around the body.

You keep your eyes averted from her bloodied throat and focus on the ground around her.

“Disturbed the scene rather badly,” you mutter.

“Old fisherman who lives down the lake found her,” the Inquisitor replies. He comes to crouch beside you. “These prints,” he points out a smooth, narrow set of prints. “Are his and these,” he points to heeled boot prints, “are mine.”

You glance at his feet.

“Let me see the soles.”

He scowls but you hold out your hand like you’re asking him to hand something over.

“Tracking’s my job,” you insist and keep your hand out.boot-1256402

He grumbles but lifts up one foot so you can see the tread on the bottom of his boot. You examine them and move on.

“These are her’s,” you trace in the air a smaller impression. The woman walked more on the balls of her feet than her heels, which left little but the toe print of her slippers. “You have anyone else out here?” you ask.

“My boy,” the Inquisitor answers, “he’s in training.”

“Boots like yours?”

“Just smaller,” he nods.

You move around the body, disregarding the prints you know until you find some you don’t. “Odd,” you mutter under your breath.

“What?”

You jump and only then realize you spoke out loud.

“The fisherman may not have been the first to find her,” you point to two round spots in the sand beside her body. “Someone knelt here and tried to stem the flow of blood from her throat. When it didn’t work, they pitched the rag they used.”

“How do you know that?”

You point to some willows by the shore. “They threw the rag into the water. The water brought it back.”

A bright red cloth tangles in the long stalks of the willows. The Inquisitor moves to retrieve it and you welcome the two seconds when he’s not watching you.

“Whoever tried to stem the blood may have witnessed the murder,” you say, “those tracks are pretty clear heading that way.” You indicate a trail headed toward the fisherman’s house down the lake. “These tracks might be the killer,” you point to another indentation but it’s faint, smudged by others and lacking much to make them distinctive. Leather shoes maybe, you guess, because there’s no hard sole to the indentation. “They’re going to be difficult to follow. Which do you want first? The Witness or the Killer?”

The Inquisitor drops the bloodied rag into a leather sack and doesn’t look up.

“You decide,” he says, “who do you think you can find faster?”

A. The Witness?

Or

B. The Killer

Tracker Option A: The Witness

forest-and-fog-1406291Neither the witness nor the killer will be easy to find but the witness’ tracks are by far the clearer in the sand. Plus, you’d rather not track a killer while the fog’s so thick.

“This should be faster,” you point at the witness’ prints. “We following them now or do you need to do something with her body?”

“My boy’s coming to get the body,” the Inquisitor gestures for you to lead the way up the shore.

“All right,” you move forward at a low crouch until you spot where the witness moved into the trees. The fog still swirls around your feet and the tree trunks but the day’s slowly warming and the gray mist has thinned to the point you can see ten or so feet ahead. The dew from it clings to the branches and wets your hair and shoulders as you move into the foliage.

The Inquisitor’s steps crunch softly on the damp underbrush behind you.

The trail heads deep into the trees where the witness brushed past several thorn bushes. You stop to pull a piece of fabric from one of the thorns.

“Same kind as the bloodied piece we found earlier,” you observe and hand it over to the Inquisitor. “It’s from a pocket,” you explain further, “a decorated pocket. We might be looking for a girl.”

“You tell that from a piece of fabric?” the Inquisitor asks, one brow raised.

“No,” you start moving again as you speak over your shoulder, “the fabric confirmed my suspicion. Length between the knees and the feet when the girl knelt was what clued me in.”

The Inquisitor gives a grunt in response. It’s the most approval you’ve gotten so far from him and you hide your smile as you inspect a tree with a broken branch.

“The dead girl was Cora Straight, wasn’t she?” you ask but keep from looking back so you don’t see the Inquisitor’s  dark frown of disapproval.

Silence. It’s enough of an answer for you, though. You didn’t know Cora well, met her once or twice at a community dance, and you wanted confirmation of her identity. But, despite living away from town, you stay informed about the goings on in the community.

The biggest to do lately was about Cora. She had three suitors and it was becoming an issue because she wouldn’t choose one. Bit of a flirt but a sweet girl as far as you recall.

“Your boy was one of the suitors, wasn’t he?” you ask and this time you do look back to gauge his response. He gives you such a look that you almost look away but then some part of you rebels and you lift your chin and hold his gaze.

He frowns, perhaps confused that you didn’t give in to his dark demeanor.

“Afraid he’s part of this?” you press.

“He was with me last night,” the Inquisitor finally responds, “but that in itself will look like favoritism unless I have more proof it wasn’t him.”

People hate the Inquisitor, fear and hate him. You can see his point. People will take the first possibility to call his judgment into question.

You move forward. You’ve never dealt with the Inquisitor before but now you’re starting to see, he must be a very lonely man. Appointed to this town as law keeper but restrained, by his duty, to not get too close to anyone. Tends to make people hate the law keepers, the rule about remaining aloof.

You hold up your hand for stillness and the soft crunch of the Inquisitor’s steps goes silent. You gesture for him to stay where he’s at and move forward on your own into the small glade you just found.

Small patches of grass are laid over from the girl’s steps but the grass is springy. The girl was here recently.

A faint whimper comes from the far side of the glade. You continue forward and then sit down in the grass beside a young woman. She’s just old enough to wear a woman’s dress but not old enough to be comfortable in it. And she looks like a smaller version of the dead woman.

The Inquisitor’s far enough back that the fog keeps him hidden.

You pull your cloak off and drape it over the girl’s shoulders. Then you simply sit beside her and wait.

“She had a date,” the girl finally says, “with one of her suitors.”

“Which one?” you ask when she doesn’t continue.

She shakes her head. “Cora wouldn’t say but she was so excited I wanted to see who it was, so I followed her to the lake.” The girl cuts off and stifles a sob against her hand.

twig-1526282A twig snaps and she swivels around in fright. She spots the dark shape of the Inquisitor and utters a screech.

You grab her arm before she can bolt.

“Did the suitor look like him?” you ask.

“Yes—no, I mean, kind of,” she shakes her head hard and tears roll down her cheeks. “The suitor had a dark cloak like him but he wasn’t the one that killed her.”

You shoot the Inquisitor a dark look. The only ones allowed the wear black cloaks are the Inquisitors and their trainees, which means the Inquisitor’s boy did see Cora the night before. He lied to you but you refrain from saying anything for now.

“What did the killer look like?” you ask.

“I didn’t see him well. I was leaving to get back home before Cora when I heard her scream. When I got back to the lake I saw a man crouched over her. He was stocky in the shoulders and had a green coat but the hood was up, so I didn’t see his face. I hid until he left and then went to help Cora but—but I couldn’t.” Full, shuddering sobs overtake her and you wrap an arm around her shoulders.

“The other two suitors match her description,” the Inquisitor mutters. “One’s a woodsman, the other’s a smithy.”

“Green coats?” you ask.

He shrugs. “Only one way to find out. Which one do we see first?” he asks.

You’re not sure why he’s asking you. Taking a moment to think on it, you can’t come up with a good reason not to call the two suitors to the Inquisitor instead of him paying them each their own visit. But you kind of want to look over the tracks at the crime scene again now that you’ve heard the witness’ story. Do you…

Aa. Opt to See the Suitors?

Or

Ab. Reinvestigate the Scene?

Tracker Option Ab: Reinvestigate the Scene 

“See the suitors if you want,” you say, “but I’m headed back to the lake. I want to make more sense of the tracks now that I know more of the story.”

The girl, definitely Cora’s younger sister, looks at you with a horrified expression but the Inquisitor simply nods. “Makes sense.” He gestures for you to lead the way.dew-covered-nettle-1499321

The fog’s cleared by now, leaving dew on every branch and leaf. The small bits of water sparkle in the weak sunlight. It’d be beautiful if you weren’t searching for a killer but the day’s cold and you can’t keep a shudder from running your spine.

The girl hurries to keep close to you. “He’s kind of scary,” she whispers.

You glance back at the dark man in his Inquisitor clothing. The expression on his face stays bland, almost expressionless, but you catch his eyes and there’s a hint of worry there. Perhaps he’s concerned for his boy.

“He’s just doing his duty,” you reply. “It can’t be an easy job.”

The girl gives you a wide-eyed stare like the concept of the Inquisitor being human never occurred to her.

When you reach the shore of the lake again, you find nothing disturbed. Thankfully, the Inquisitor’s boy hasn’t arrived yet to gather the body. You gesture for the girl and Inquisitor to stand back while you look at the scene again.

So much of it has already been muffled by others walking around the scene that you can’t find where Cora and the Inquisitor’s boy spoke to each other. For all you know, that spot could be directly beneath the body.

It’s easy, however, to locate where the girl knelt to help Cora. Tracing those tracks backwards, you find they come from the same direction as Cora’s prints. That makes sense. She followed her sister from home. You follow them to find where the girl hid to watch the encounter. Just within the tree line you find the spot, clearly outlined by the fact that she sat on a bush to keep from sitting on the damp earth.

You look for her prints when she headed back and then heard the scream. The incoming tracks speak loud and clear. The outgoing tracks—you look carefully to make sure they aren’t mixed with the incoming—but even taking that possibility into account, you don’t see where the girl left her hiding spot to head home. You do see where she rushed toward the lake and Cora though.

You start looking again to make sure you’re not missing something. Before you’re finished, you hear voices back by the lake.

“I was only here for a few minutes,” says a voice you’re not familiar with. You peek out of the trees to see another man with the Inquisitor. Due to his blacks, you know it’s his boy in training. “I wanted to give her the necklace I made.”

tool-n-toy-1557954Necklace? Although you didn’t look closely at the body, you’re pretty sure she wasn’t wearing a necklace.

The boy jumps when you appear out of the trees. “What necklace?” you ask.

He looks to the Inquisitor before answering.

“Made it out of cord, three strands of different colors. Nothing fancy but I wanted to give her something unique.”

The girl stands behind them with her face down, chin and nose tucked tight into the collar of your cloak that she’s still wearing. Even with her head down, though, you catch the upturn of her eyes. She’s watching the Inquisitor’s boy through her lashes but you can’t quite tell if he fascinates her or scares her.

You return to the body and actually look at Cora this time. No necklace hangs around her neck but you can see where something was drawn tight around her throat.

“Could this necklace have cut her?” you ask.

Tears well in the boy’s eyes. He nods. “I made it sturdy. Wanted it to last awhile.”

The tracks you pointed to earlier as maybe being the killer’s catch your eye. You look at the boy’s feet and, sure enough, he’s wearing soft soled shoes, not the boots he must have worn earlier when he and the Inquisitor came to investigate.

The girl’s story doesn’t fully add up. There are no more tracks, so there wasn’t a second man who came to kill Cora.

A sinking sensation makes your stomach roll.

The Inquisitor asks the boy another question but you don’t focus on it while you’re reexamining the scene. You’re sure of your conclusion, however. The only people who came to see Cora are standing on the shore with you right now, except the fisherman who found her. You disregard his prints though, because they’re clear and the fisherman had no reason to kill Cora. He’s mostly a hermit.

The killer’s right here but who is it? Where’s the necklace? You glance at the others from the corner of your eye. You could pull the Inquisitor aside and tell him but there’s the possibility he’s trying to cover for his boy. If that’s the case, you and the girl could be in danger.

Or it could be the girl. In which case, it’d be advantageous to clue the Inquisitor in so he can catch her in her lie.

Do you…

Ab1: Speak with the Inquisitor?

Or

Ab2: Protect the Girl?

Tracker Option Ab1: Speak with the Inquisitor?

In the past, the Inquisitor’s shown he puts his duty above personal attachments. He obviously cares for his boy in training, but you doubt he’d put the boy above justice. Plus, you’ve got to trust someone.

“Can I show you something?” you ask him.forest-and-fog-1406291

The boy and girl try to follow when you move to show him where the girl hid within the trees.

“Just the Inquisitor,” you tell them. “This won’t take long.”

They glance at each other but don’t argue and you lead the Inquisitor away.

“Something doesn’t add up,” you tell the Inquisitor softly. “Can you confirm the existence of this necklace?”

“Saw him working on it over the last week,” the Inquisitor confirms.

“There’s no necklace on her body,” you tell him. “And there are no tracks from the girl heading towards town.” You point out the bush she sat on. “She never left her spot, so she either saw Cora’s death or she did it. Also, I’ve identified all the tracks around the body. There wasn’t another man here last night. It was your boy, Cora and her younger sister. The only others belong to the fisherman.”

“If my boy did this,” the Inquisitor says, “why would the girl cover for him?”

You tilt your head back toward the other two. Since you’ve left them alone together, they’ve struck up a stilted conversation.

The girl’s dark head remains down through most of the conversation but she keeps glancing up through her lashes. At this distance, you can just make out the faint tint of a blush across her cheeks.

“She likes him,” you say.

“Enough to cover for him?” the Inquisitor’s voice for once isn’t monotone. You hear the pain in the words.

But you don’t respond immediately. The girl stuffs her hands in her pockets and fiddles with whatever she’s carrying. It’s a nervous gesture. Something she’s not even aware she’s doing judging by how focused she is on her conversation with the boy.

“What colors were the necklace?” you ask.

“Blue, green, and purple,” the Inquisitor’s watching you, waiting. He seems to have gotten to the point where he trusts your observations.

“She’s not covering for him,” you say and look away from the boy and girl just as she glances toward you. “She’s got the necklace in her pocket.”

You saw it, just for a moment, before she realized she was fiddling with it and pulled her hands from her pockets.

“You’re sure?” the Inquisitor asks.

You simply nod. All the pieces fit except the why. Why would she kill her sister? For the boy, perhaps. She did keep the necklace instead of destroying it.

“What’s the world coming to?” the Inquisitor mutters but it’s a rhetorical question and he walks away before you can answer.

“Miss Straight,” the Inquisitor addresses her for the first time.

She jumps and hugs your cloak tight around her like she can hide within it.

“Yes?”

“Tell me your story again. What happened last night?”

She starts to tell it but instead of letting her tell it uninterrupted, the Inquisitor stops her again and again, asking questions at each small detail. His skill in the questioning unnerves you but you see the purpose in it. Within moments, her story starts to fall apart.

“I started to head home—“

“The tracks don’t support that. You saw the murder,” the Inquisitor interrupts.

“I looked away, I saw nothing, I—“

“Was the necklace on her when you rushed to help?”

“No—“

“Then how did you come by it?”

The boy gasps at this and Miss Straight goes completely silent as her hand sneaks into her pocket. She shakes her head as thoughfriendship-bracelet-4-1495065 to deny his question but then spins to run. Her feet catch in your cloak and she falls.

The Inquisitor moves to tie her up.

“Why?” he asks. “Why did you kill her?”

“She had everything,” the girl mutters with enough venom in her tone that it doesn’t sound like her. “I didn’t mean to kill her. I just wanted something pretty. Something small.”

***

After more investigation, you and the Inquisitor find out that Miss Straight has always been a bit unstable, tending to steal things she finds pretty. The Straight family kept her cloistered due to it, but on the night of Cora’s death, her younger sister snuck out to follow her.

All she wanted was the necklace but Cora fought her when she tried to take it. Things went downhill from there.

You develop a professional friendship with the Inquisitor and he calls on you for any case in which your skills might be useful but you rarely speak of that first case. Something about it always haunts you.

The End

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend!

Jennifer

 

The Tournament

rain-4-1520316Rainwater drips from the porch above you and the siding of the building weeps with moisture but, for the moment, you’ve found a dry spot. It’s just a sheltered piece of cobblestone. A two-foot by two-foot section where the rain isn’t drenching the ground. There’s not even enough space to lie down but the spot’s yours and, as long as you don’t move from it, no one will challenge you.

You’re not homeless. You just can’t find an Inn that’s not already full because of the tournaments being held at the coliseum. For the moment, you may as well be homeless. But at least you’re a well-armed homeless.

Thus why no one will challenge you for your shelter.

A sword peeks over your right shoulder from its holster on your back. From your belt hangs a woodsman’s knife the length of your forearm and, unstrapped since you’re not hunting, you hold a bow in your right hand. Over your left shoulder, the fletching of arrows plays peek-a-boo around the hood of your cloak.

All of the weaponry right now is just extra weight. Your cloak is the prize possession with the rain.

But you’ve come here for a purpose. The tournament boasts a multitude of challenges. Fencing, archery, jousting, hand to hand combat. They all pay well for the winner.

You’re not here for the pay, though, you’re here for a person. For years you’ve heard nothing from your family, ostracized because of your choice to be a woods ranger instead of following in the family baking business. But last week a messenger found you.

“They took Ruben,” the messenger said, “because your family couldn’t pay the rent on the bakery. He’s being forced to work the quarry until he pays off the amount due.”

“And what do they want from me?” you asked. Working the quarry was hard, dangerous work but, considering the amount on the bakery couldn’t be that high, Ruben shouldn’t be there that long.

“The family hasn’t paid in over a year,” the messenger explained, “so Ruben’s assigned the quarry for the next five years to pay everything off.”

No one survived the quarry that long.

“All right,” you conceded, “what does the family want?”

“In the tournaments, you can ask for the release of a worker if you win one of the challenges.”

You have an ‘ah ha” moment. No on in the family could win such a challenge, expect you. You considered briefly refusing. The family hasn’t spoken to you in years, much lest lent a hand whenever you needed something.

But this was family and a man’s life. You couldn’t refuse.

“When does the tournament start?” you asked.

“Beginning of the week.”

And thus why you’re hunkered under a porch instead of sleeping in an Inn. By the time the messenger found you, you only had two days to get to the capital. It was a three day trip.

An Inn wouldn’t have helped much anyway. There’s only an hour or two before sunrise and then you have to be at the coliseum to check in as a contestant. So as you wait for the warmth to arrive from the rising sun, you debate whether to try archery or fencing first. You’ve never attempted jousting and don’t want to start now. As a last resort you can try hand-to-hand combat but that’s not your forte and you’d prefer to start with your stronger skills.

So do you try…

A. Archery?

or

B. Fencing?

The Tournament Option A: Archery

archery-1305993The rain subsided with the morning sun and now you’re standing in line to register for the tournaments with the sun warming your shoulders. It burned off the mist within an hour and your cloak’s almost dry as you approach the table at the entrance to the coliseum.

The man behind the table holds his pen over a sheet of paper. He waits for you to say which challenge you want to participate in.

“Archery,” you inform him.

He grunts and accepts the papers you hold out containing your information. They tell him everything from your name to where you were born and to which family.

“Isn’t this a baking family?” he asks, pointing at your last name.

“Mostly,” you reply, perhaps a bit shortly but you’ve been questioned like that your whole life.

He eyes you and your weaponry and then shrugs and hands your papers back.

“The archery field’s to the left,” he says, “first tournament starts in an hour.”

You thank him and move on.

The coliseum’s huge, made to support gaming events and trials but today, instead of hosting a single event, the ground is split into five wedges like a pie. Spectators mill around the seating above, able to see all five areas.

On the ground, however, you can only see the wedge you’re standing in and the two neighboring wedges.

Archery is immediately to your left. On either side sit the hand-to-hand combat arena and the fencing grounds. You guess jousting is on the other side of the coliseum because you can make out the heads of several horses in that direction.

The fifth wedge you can’t guess at. All you can see in that area is a crowd milling about.

You approach the table at the edge of the archery field and hold out your papers to the man standing behind it. He waves the papers away and simply points to a spot on the ground.

“Stand there and wait,” he grumbles.

Where he pointed is a spot in the middle of the wedge but closer to the narrow side of the pie. You move to it and nod at the man beside you. He’s standing in place as well and behind him stands five others, all holding bows. These are your competition.

The man sneers but the look vanishes as you pull your bow from your back, step through and into it, and string the long bow in one fluid motion. This is your comfort zone. As a woods ranger, you’re not only required to hunt and keep the forests clear of dangerous animals, but you’re required to train for long shots in case of war. You’re the snipers of the kingdom, as it were. A little known fact, but you don’t explain this to the man.

Instead, you pull your cloak off, slide your arrows back over your shoulder and pull on the bow a little to feel the draw. You nod at the man again and then turn to face the field where several targets are placed.

The first one’s close, about 100 yards out. If you’re not careful, you’ll put an arrow all the way through the target at that range. The second target’s another 50 yards or so and the third doubles the first. A 200 yard shot. Now that’s where your bow will give you the advantage.

This first round must be designed to weed out the amateurs. You jump up and down while waiting to warm your body.

Finally, the man from the table walks out onto the field and raises his hands for attention.

The archery wedge goes silent.

“First round,” he shouts in a voice that bellows through the coliseum, “three targets each. Hit the bull’s eye on the targets. Top four contestants will proceed to the next round. We start with the archer on that end.” He points to the man on your left and then leaves the field.

Once he’s clear, he gives a nod to the first archer and the man takes aim. His three arrows hit within an inch of the bulls eyes in rapid succession.

Your turn. After pulling out an arrow, you hold it loosely against the string. Then you eye the first target and wait for everything around you to fade. Nerves make your hands sweat. You wipe them on your pants without looking away from the target.

Your ears ring with silence. Your peripheral vision becomes nothing but gray. The muscles in your back tighten and the bow archer-1578365comes up in one move.

Then the arrow’s away and you’re pulling the second before the first hits its mark.

By the time you release the third arrow, the dull thud of the first has already sounded and the second follows immediately after.

You know as soon as you release the first that it was off but when you look back, it sits right beside the arrow of the man who shot first. Your other two are dead center of the targets.

You find yourself almost holding your breath as the others go, hoping your initial mistake doesn’t ruin your shot at the top four archers.

The last man shoots and you breathe out in a heavy sigh. You made it to the next round.

The announcer points to you and the other three who made it. You all step forward.

He points at you again.

“Distance or Difficulty?” He shouts. The question bounces around while you take a second.

Do you answer…

Aa. Distance?

Or

Ab. Difficulty?

The Tournament Option Aa. Distance

The announcer continues to point at you while his shouted question fades with the general roar of the crowd. The longbow rests against your shoulder.

“Distance,” you respond just loud enough for him to hear.

“Distance,” the announcer repeats so the entire crowd can hear and then he points to the next man.

FullSizeRenderYour palms sweat as the adrenaline from the first challenge slowly fades. You vaguely hear the other three contestant’s choices. Only one chooses distance with you.

You meet the man’s gaze and give him a nod. He holds his own longbow at his side in a loose grip. He tilts his chin in acknowledgement but his eyes stay cold like he feels none of the tension from the challenge. On his jacket sleeves is sown the crimson arrow of the King’s personal guard. This man may very well be the King’s own sniper.

Your palms sweat even more. It he’s who you suspect, he’s well known for his ability with a bow.

“Next round starts in ten minutes!” The announcer hollers.

You’ve nothing to do in that ten minutes. To pass the time, you pull out a piece of jerky and gnaw on it while you wait. As the salty, savory flavor fills your mouth, your stomach growls. You didn’t eat breakfast because of your nerves that morning but now you’re stomach’s telling you about it.

The other archer stands in place as well. He stretches his shoulders and flexes his fingers and then he picks up his bow and walks over to join you.

You reach in your pocket and hold out another piece of jerky to him. FullSizeRender-2Without a word, he takes it, nods his thanks and starts gnawing on it.

In unison, you both turn back toward the archery field and watch as people hurry about to set up the next challenge.

Closer to you they haul out several cages with small, furry creatures inside. The creatures skitter about like they’re chasing each other. You squint and then grunt when you realize you’re watching training rabbits. They’re raised to never stop moving. You recognize them from your own archery training in which you had to shoot five of them before progressing to the next stage of training.

Along with the cages, they bring out boxes, hay bales and logs, all things the rabbits can hide behind or skitter over. This must be part of the difficulty challenge.

You dismiss those preparations and scan farther afield for the distance challenge.

A box wagon pulls up near the wall of the coliseum. When it stops, the wagon continues to rock side to side.

“Something big,” the other archer comments.

You grunt agreement. Whatever they have in the box has to be big enough to throw the weight of the wagon.

The wagon jolts and rocks onto two wheels before thudding back into place.

“Something real big,” you agree, and wipe your palms on your pants.

A snorting growl comes from the wagon, loud enough for you to hear over 400 yards away with the crowd.

“You’ve shot a bear or two in your time, haven’t you, Ranger?” the man chuckles.

A surprised laugh comes from your throat. “Sure have,” you respond, “but that’s not a bear.”

This time when he glances at you, there’s a spark in his eyes, maybe surprise, maybe excitement. You’re not sure. Then he raises a brow in question.

“Troll,” you answer. From the snorting growl, you guess it’s a snow troll. Just a few weeks ago you had to track one and kill it because it kept wandering into a small village up north. Nasty beast that tried to throw a broken tree at you before you shot it through the eye.

You glance at the rabbits. Whoever made up this tournament must not know what they’re dealing with.

As you’ve been talking, those preparing the arena have installed tall fences along the archery wedge to contain the troll. They’re heavy fences with lots of iron, probably enough to keep the troll in check, but the rabbits and obstacles for the difficulty challenge are still within the confines of the fences. Snacks and ammunition. That’s how the troll will view such things.

“What?” the other archer asks.

The announcer steps into the center of the wedge and starts shouting before you can respond.

“For Distance, our two contestants must put down the beast. Whoever shoots the killing shot wins. The farther out the kill shot, the more points you get against those competing in the Difficulty challenge.”

He steps back and the crowd roars, drowning out your shouted warning to the other archer.

They release the latch on the wagon and the troll throws the door free. It scans its surroundings as it stretches long, white-furred arms. It’s a good 450 yards out but it spots you and the rabbits in no time. A husky, delighted chortle huffs out of its throat as it slumps down onto hands and feet and starts running your way in a loping gallop.

It’ll be in range in no time.

Before taking aim, do you shout to the other man…

Aa1. “Shoot for the eyes.” ?

Or

Aa2: “It’ll go for the rabbits first.” ?

The Tournament Option Aa1: Shoot for the Eyes

No matter where the troll goes, the eyes are the way to kill it. The skin and fur over the heart tends to thicken the area so much that the troll has to be within about 100 yards before an arrow will penetrate enough to stop it. Anything before that will only anger it more than it already is.

“Shoot for the eyes!” you shout.

The other archer frowns, glances at the troll loping toward the rabbit cages, and then nods his agreement as he turns and pulls an arrow. He holds it loosely against the string of his bow while he waits for the troll to come within range.

By running on hands and feet, its head lolls up and down with each stride. The eyes come up as the troll’s torso rises. It looks side to side and then the eyes disappear as its head falls into another stride.

300 yards and it veers sharply to your left, straight toward the rabbit cages.

archer-1578365You and the other archer raise your bows at the same time. The snap of your strings is lost in the crunch of the first rabbit cage. The troll didn’t even stop but stepped on the cage and caught the only rabbit that didn’t get squished.

It stops long enough to eat the rabbit in two bites, which timing wise, means your arrows bounce off the top of its head.

You and the other archer grunt in unison and the troll’s head swings up. It swipes at the top of its skull but the arrows bounced off and there’s nothing to swipe away.

Almost as though it’s shrugging, the troll hops to the next cage and breaks it open.

Your second set of arrows glance off its lowered skull and sink into its shoulder. The beast bellows and breaks the arrows off with a swipe of its arm.

rabbit-1402890This time the troll doesn’t go back to eating rabbits, it takes a moment to look around and spots you.

With a roar, it pitches the next cage into the air. It hits the ground not five feet in front of you and explodes into shards of wood. Several pieces fly into your leg.

The troll chortles as you stumble and it throws one of the hay bales next. You dodge to the right and raise the bow before the troll can pitch something else.

The arrow glances off the side of the beast’s head and takes a chunk out of its ear. Blood draws a bright line down the head until it hits its shoulder. This doesn’t seem to phase the beast. The troll hauls back and lobs a log into the air.

You pull the bow and aim as the troll rocks forward with its throw. There’s a twang from the other bowman’s string at the exact same time as you release your own arrow.

The log thuds into the ground between you and the other archer but you’re not watching it. You’re watching the troll. Arrows blossom from its eyes. It stumbles, thuds to its knees and then falls face forward.

The arena’s silent for only a second before erupting into deafening cheers.

You and the other archer meet eyes. You’re tied. What happens now?

You don’t get to ask though, as you’re led into part of the coliseum where a surgeon pulls several chunks of wood out of your left leg.

While you’re being seen, you miss the Difficulty challenge. Considering the troll ate half the challenge, you’re not sure what they came up with to replace the rabbits.

Finally, you’re led back into the arena and are brought before the raised platform of the King.

You’ve never been this close to him before. He’s older with deep lines running from the corners of his eyes.

“The other two contestants have been disqualified for fighting with each other,” the announcer tells the crowd. “So here before us we have—“

The King stands and the announcer falls silent.

You bow to the older man as he walks to the edge of the platform.

“Never have I seen such bravery in an archery challenge,” he says to you and the other archer. “I will not take away from such heroism by trying to come up with a tiebreaker challenge. I don’t believe there is such a challenge. So what would you each have as an award for winning this day?”

You hesitate, shocked by his offer.

“My brother, Sire,” you finally say, “has been told to work the quarry for a debt. May I have his release?”

The King stands a bit taller and looks you directly in the eye. “You can ask for anything and this is what you ask? Are you sure?”

Something in his tone makes you hesitate again. Did you ask for too much? Not enough? You can ask for anything. 

“His freedom and a year’s worth for the bakery he owes on, if it pleases you, Sire,” you say with a bow, hoping you read his intention correctly.

He beams. “Fair.” And he goes on to ask the other man what he’d like as an award.

You leave after seeing Ruben’s released. Your family doesn’t acknowledge what you accomplished but you’re not really concerned. You’ve lived for quite some time without their input.

Later, the other archer finds you in the woods. He hunkers down beside your fire and offers you a piece of his bread he brought for his dinner.

After a while of silence, he finally addresses why he tracked you down.

“I’d like to train you,” he offers. “To replace me as the King’s archer.”

You were right. He is the King’s archer. You hesitate only for a moment before agreeing.

The End

Well done on this Adventure!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Scorpion Dragon Option Bc1: Continue to Fight

It hasn’t been that long since we explored this adventure, but it was requested and it’s a lot of fun. Plus, the last time you died, so a second run just sounds like a good idea. Without further adieu, here’s Scorpion Dragon. =)

Scorpion Dragon

“It costs a King’s ransom, though,” the doc warns you.

“But a cure exists?” you ask again.

He nods and lays a sympathetic hand on your shoulder before leaving your one room cabin. The dirt under your feet and the paper over the windows just accentuates what the Doc meant. You’ve no money.

You take a steadying breath before heading into the lean-to off the back of the cabin. The lean-to, and the only private part of your home, belongs to your mother. You built it for her when she fell ill in hopes she’d sleep better. But no amount of sleep will cure her.

You’re mother smiles when you look at her. You stop, taken a back. The haunted look in her eyes from moments before when the Doc told her she had only a few weeks left has been replaced with a gentle sort of peace.

“Mom, are you all right?”

Instead of answering, she points to a book on the table. It’s the history book she taught you from when you were younger.

“Flip to the back section on regional myths,” she says.

You sit on the three-legged stool beside her bed and do as she asked. She never covered this section in your education, so you’re unfamiliar with the picture of a large dragon that graces the top of the page. The picture’s colored in red and highlights the dragon’s tail that hangs like a scorpion’s over its head. Even the end of the tail has a stinger but clearly the rest of the creature represents the fire-breathing drake.

“Read there,” you mother taps the page.

island-1502822The island of Scorpus sits far off the coast, and looks like nothing but a pile of rock and sand to passersby. But myth claims it the home of the scorpion dragon who sank Princess Maya’s ship in 1102, capturing her gold and keeping her prisoner. According to the myth, Maya is kept in a castle in the cliffs of the island and is forced by Scorpus to polish his red scales daily. 

 You frown at your mother. Perhaps the disease already took her mind, but she’s looking at you with such hope. You shrug, not getting why she showed you this.

She points again at the page.

“Look,” she says, pointing to the bottom of the page at another picture.

It’s a detailed sketch of a sword. You pull the book closer and then glance from the lean-to into the main room of the cabin. The only thing of value the family owns hangs over the fireplace mantle. A family heirloom, a sword with bluish steel.

You glance between the sword and the picture several times but there’s no mistake. The sword’s distinctive engraved handle is sword-1420556perfectly depicted in the picture. Below the drawing is the caption “The only weapon known to hurt the scorpion dragon.”

“I never showed you this because everyone in our family dies looking,” your mother admits, “but if the sword exists, so might the island and the princess’ treasure.” She flips the page to show you a poorly drawn map. “Find the island for me?”

“How do we still have the sword?” You ask. Surely someone thought to take it with them.

“They all took the sword. It finds its way back, they do not,” she shrugs, clearly hurt at the memory. “Find the island for me?” she asks again.

***

The hope in your mother’s eyes when you said yes lends you strength as you row toward the island. This is the third such island you’ve checked out but this one just feels right. And if any island simply looks like a pile of rock and sand, this is the epitome of rock and sand islands.

You row one more time and your boat hits the beach. Far out in the water, you can still see the Wind Born. The captain agreed to wait for two days while you explore. If you’re not back, he’ll chalk the rowboat up as a loss and leave you behind.

You heave the rowboat onto the beach and retrieve the sword and your pack from inside. All you brought were food and water. Wasn’t like you owned anything else to prepare you for this trip.

The book stated the castle of Princess Maya is hidden in cliffs but it doesn’t say if the cliffs are inland or on the beach.

Do you…

A. Explore inland?

Or

B. Explore the beach?

Scorpion Dragon Option B. Explore the Beach

island-1502822The beach lays barren around you except for the occasional rock that breaks up the smooth, dark sand. Before you, toward the center of the island, the rocks grow bigger until you’re pretty sure they turn into cliffs.

The history book mentioned Princess Maya being held in the cliffs of the island, but walking inland looks a bit rough. You scan the beach and decide exploring the open area might be a better way to start.

Perhaps you’ll find a path inland if you look farther around the perimeter.

So you strap the sword around your waist, sling your pack over your shoulder and head to the right along the beach.

The sand sinks beneath your steps in little divots and the sword swings against your thigh with a soft slapping sound. Other than the swish of the tide, that’s the only sound you hear.

On your next step, the sand doesn’t sink as far. You grin since this makes walking easier. After five or six steps like this, however, you get curious. Why aren’t you sinking as far into the soft ground?

When you look back, there’s a noticeable difference in the divots your footsteps made, like perhaps the sand’s covering a section of rock. You kneel down and dig your hands into the damp sand. It sticks to your skin but you keep digging until your fingers hit something hard. Pulling your hands free, you look into the little hole you made and frown.

The ground’s red. You brush away more sand. For rock, it’s incredibly smooth…too smooth.

The ground shifts beneath you and you fall back onto your backside. The beach continues to move. You throw out your hands to steady yourself as everything starts rising into the air and sand trickles, then runs, off the red ground in a cascade of beach.

With the sand sliding away and nothing stable beneath you, you’re balance falters and you slide with the sand.

You hit the ground with a thud and sputter sand out of your mouth. Grit fills your eyes until you’re almost crying just to clear your sight.

When you finally get a chance to see, you wish you’d been buried and could hide under the sand.

A gigantic red snout grins down at you. Above it hangs a tail with a stinger on the end. You were just walking on a dragon. The crafty beast was hiding under the sand.

“Hello little human,” the drake’s voice rumbles.

“Um, hello,” you respond at the same time as you try to look around.

“Not much escape out here,” the dragon grins. “What ever shall you do?”

His comment isn’t entirely accurate, however. Underneath his belly, you spot a line of cliffs jutting out toward the ocean. Those cliffs are dotted with caves. If you run for it, you might be able to reach the cliffs and disappear inside them.

Or, since you have the sword, you could try to fight the dragon and hope you’re lucky enough to incapacitate him.

Do you…

Bb: Run for the Cliffs?

or

Bc: Fight?

Scorpion Dragon Option Bc: Fight

You’re fast but pitting yourself against a dragon’s speed might not be your wisest option. You pull out the sword and hold it in sword-1420556both hands.

“Come get me!” You scream at the beast. If you’re going to attack him anyway, you may as well make a good show of it.

The dragon throws back his head and bellows a laugh that ripples through the scales on his chest. Before he’s done showing his mirth, his tail rears back and strikes downward.

You’re watching him though and dodge to the side just as the stinger on the tail sinks a small crater into the soft sand. Scorpus, for this must be the dragon the history book spoke of, screams his anger at missing. His jaws dart forward and you step several times backward. The teeth crunch shut only inches from your face.

You swing the sword at the snout and the steel slices a deep, clean line across the dragon’s face.

He rears back with blood dripping from his jaw line. The blood hits the sand, where it starts to steam.

You step away, careful not to get dripped on since you don’t know what the blood might do to you. But you’re watching the drops and so you catch when the steam takes form. It changes to a deep red and then hardens into several tiny replicas of the larger dragon.

Scorpus laughs at your surprise.

You dash around the growing collection of tiny scorpions and cut into his front right leg.

The blood you draw will, obviously, create more tiny scorpions, so you have to be quick to overcome the larger dragon. Your hope is, once the larger beast dies, so will its smaller versions.

In quick succession, you slice into the dragon’s side, this one of his hind legs, and them catch his snout again as he tries to eat you. Blood flows freely from all his wounds. Before you can strike again, you’re surrounded by the horde of small scorpions.

The tide washes up the beach and the creatures scatter from its touch. As it washes away, one of them stings you, then another. Your foot instantly goes numb. A scorpion tries to climb your leg and you swipe it away with the blade of your sword.

The tide washes forward again and the creatures scatter for a second time.

This time, when the tide starts to recede, you stay with it, always keeping your feet in the water.

The scorpions follow the edge of the water but never enter it to get at you. Since you’re able to stay out of their reach, you return your attention to Scorpus, who backed away to watch his smaller versions torment you.

“Can’t finish me on your own?” You taunt him. “Have to rely on these to do the job for you?”

He bellows and rushes forward but, like the others, he stops when the water starts to advance up the beach again.

He swings his tail out over the water without actually stepping into the surf. You lunge backward to avoid the stinger and Scorpus grunts as the weight of his tail almost pulls him in.

“Come and get me!” you taunt again.

The tail swings again but the surf’s still rolling in and the distance is even greater this time. You dart forward, stab his foot and dart back out into the water.

He bellows, huffs and then spins away and starts to leave.

Why does he fear the water? You pull your pack around and scrounge inside until you find your water bottle. Uncapping it, you run from the water and pitch the content onto the dragon’s back.

water-1329581He shrieks as the water steams on his back. Then he shudders and shrinks a fraction before the water dries on his scales and the shrinking stops. You can make him small, you realize, if you can force him into the waves.

But getting him there might be more than you can handle. It’d be herding a dragon, a seriously angry dragon.

Do you…

Bc1: Continue to Fight?

or

Bc2: Let Him Go?

Scorpion Dragon Option Bc1: Continue to Fight

Scorpus limps away from the beach. You hear his huffs of anger and pain with each step. Once he heals, he’ll be just as dangerous as he was when you first encountered him. Considering how many members of your family have disappeared because of this beast, you can’t just let him walk away.

You grip the sword hard enough that your knuckles turn white and run from the water. Scorpus doesn’t notice you until you race around and confront him. He snaps his teeth but the gesture’s halfhearted, like you’re a gnat buzzing around his head.

With a shout, you swing the sword. It slices a deep line down his snout that wells with blood.

You swing again before that blood falls and creates a bunch of tiny scorpions you have to contend with too.

Scorpus backs away while his tail rears up and smashes into the sand just to your right. His blood has now created a small horde.scorpion-1315063 As you step forward to close the distance between you and the dragon, you kick at the mass of tiny scorpions and dozens of them fly into the water. They hiss and disappear.

Scorpus moves to bite at you again and you swing at the same time. The sword connects with his teeth, and slices right through three of them. The dragon steps backward, screeching.

His back leg hits the water and it starts to steam. He tries to step forward but you’re right there, preventing him from advancing.

Foam froths around the edges of his mouth in his anger and he swings his tail at you again even as you try to push him back farther. His aim’s off but, because you moved to swing again, the stinger of his tail hits the outside, fleshy part of your right arm. Instantly it goes numb and you almost drop the sword. Scorpus howls in victory. He raises his tail to sting you again.

You recover in time to swing the sword with your left hand. The swing wavers but still manages to slice part way into his tail.

The dragon shudders and steps back, not once, but several times, until all but his front legs are in the surf. Steam rises from the parts of him touching the water.

Your right side’s so numb you’re having issues standing. If you don’t finish this soon, you might collapse and Scorpus will get away.

In a last effort, you raise the sword and scream in defiance. Thankfully, it’s enough for the dragon to back away again. You don’t even have to swing. Between his small step and the tide coming in, he ends up completely standing in the water. He’s steaming so much that you’re surrounded by mist but you can still see the red dragon’s shape.

He shudders, then shrinks in a rapid combination of shudders and shrieks. Then he’s gone. You walk forward to make sure you didn’t miss Scorpus sneaking away but after a bit of searching, you’re sure he’s gone.

You haul yourself back onto the beach and lay down to rest. The mist slowly dissipates but your right side doesn’t seem to be regaining much sensation.

***

old-castle-in-ogrodzieniec-p-1235457You search the island for the rest of the day and find, hidden within caves in the cliffs, a castle. The next day, you search the castle, but you don’t find anything resembling treasure or any person who might be the princess. There are signs of someone living there, but you never spot an actual person.

There are places that, because of your numb right side, you just can’t quite get to, but finally you resign yourself to going home without the treasure.

On your trip back, you decide to sell the sword. It’s not quite enough to cover your mother’s medicine but you make an agreement with the apothecary to work for him until the remainder of the cost is paid off.

You keep to the bargain and are still working at the apothecary but, in random moments of free thought, your mind returns to the sword. It feels, strangely enough, like it’s calling to you, like you shouldn’t have given it up. Someday, maybe, you’ll have to track it down and bring it back to your family. Until then, you suspect its loss will always haunt you.

The End

Well done. You managed to defeat the dragon!

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,

Jennifer