- Markshire PCs:
I could think oâ€™ a whole bunch of other things Iâ€™d rather be doinâ€™ than trackinâ€™down a dragon in Thrymâ€™s pass but the creature was headinâ€™ towards Foothold and Odin only knew what havoc that beast would be causinâ€™ if he managed to get past Sir Aeton and his gate guards! We had to stop him! I knew most oâ€™ those town folk by name and cared â€˜bout their safety! Good upstandinâ€™ people, all oâ€™ them! Fer sure I ainâ€™t wanted no damn dragon carousinâ€™ â€˜round inside their gates and causinâ€™ all sorts oâ€™ mayhem!
I mean . . . there was children in that town! For sure they was snuggled away all warm and cozy in their beds, with heavy horse hair blankets pulled up to their chins, asleep and dreaminâ€™ oâ€™ sugar plumbs and hard candy! Old folks too! back from a day oâ€™ shoppinâ€™, now goinâ€™ â€˜bout boltinâ€™ doors and latchinâ€™ up their shutters to keep out the cold Markshire night! Hanginâ€™ their stockinâ€™s what was all wet and soggy from the puddles theyâ€™d stepped into, by the chimney, takinâ€™ care not to get â€˜em too close to the fire!
Most folks changinâ€™ into their woolens, puttinâ€™ on their kerchiefs and caps and settlinâ€™ down to enjoy a cold winter night and mayhap some quiet time before turninâ€™ in! Some even lightinâ€™ a candle and settinâ€™ it on a little wobblyâ€™ wooden stand with only three legs, what theyâ€™d placed alongside their favorite chair and curlinâ€™ up, their feet tucked underneath them, ready to crack open a good book!
Oh geez, even the odd mouse or two, aware oâ€™ the darkness and bitter cold gradually settlinâ€™ over the town, skitterinâ€™ about, searchinâ€™ fer a bit oâ€™ straw what theyâ€™d be able to crawl under to keep warm so theyâ€™d not be frozen solid come the morninâ€™!
As I trudged along behind Iathoz, I thought â€˜bout all that and decided we was doinâ€™ right by followinâ€™ those dragon tracks.
Besides, I enjoy a nice walk, you know? I donâ€™t mind walkinâ€™ at all! Iâ€™m used to it I guess. It seems weâ€™re always walkinâ€™ to someplace in this land. Or runninâ€™ for dear life . . . when somethinâ€™s chasinâ€™ after you doinâ€™ itâ€™s best at tryinâ€™ lop off your head or take a bite outta your leg! Yup! Walkinâ€™ll keep ya healthy as a horse! It gets your heart pumpinâ€™ and your blood cir . . . circu . . . uh, flowinâ€™ â€˜round in yer veins! My grandpa started walkinâ€™ five miles a day when he turned seventy! It was about eight years ago we last saw him. Far as I know, grandpaâ€™s still walkinâ€™ but I ainâ€™t too sure oâ€™ that . . . â€˜cause nobody seems to know where the hel the old geezer walked off to!
We slogged on towards the little town, Iathoz out in front and Jon not lettinâ€™ up for an instant, constantly pesterinâ€™ me â€˜bout the cache oâ€™ food Iâ€™d hidden under my cloak. Men is like that you know? Theyâ€™s always pesterinâ€™ you â€˜bout some damn thing theyâ€™s wantinâ€™. And they donâ€™t give up till they get what ever it is theyâ€™s pesterinâ€™ you about! If you finally give in and let â€˜em have what theyâ€™s after, you might get a little thank you and mayhap a bit oâ€™ sweetness from â€˜em, but oh geez, if you run into them the next day, youâ€™ll be lucky if they tip their hat to you as your passinâ€™ by!
Finally I relented, offerinâ€™ Jon the baked apple with the sugary syrup what Iâ€™d pinched from Gromkâ€™s stand in Balâ€™ynez, figgurinâ€™ heâ€™d stop aggravatinâ€™ me. The little twerp looked at it for a moment, then handed it back, tellinâ€™ me he ainâ€™t liked baked apples too much and might I have somethinâ€™ else heâ€™d enjoy munchinâ€™ on? Oh geez! I hurled the damn apple at him hard as I could! It smacked into his breast plate with a splat, and there it stuck, â€˜cause it was all soft and gooey, some of it even runninâ€™ down his leg, eventually makinâ€™ its way inside one oâ€™ his boots. After that, he ainâ€™t pestered me no more â€˜bout food or any thing else for the rest oâ€™ the night!
A bit farther into the pass, we found a man lyinâ€™ in the road and a load more oâ€™ dragon tracks. Actually, Ithoz stumbled over him; beinâ€™ the wind and sleet what was swirlinâ€™ â€˜round the three oâ€™ us was makin it difficult to see more than a few feet in any direction. The man was clutchinâ€™ tight to a short length oâ€™ bridle strap with his left hand. The poor soul was beyond savinâ€™ and already makinâ€™ his peace with Odin. It looked as though somethinâ€™ had been feedinâ€™ on the corpse â€˜cause his face was chewed away, along with most oâ€™ his right arm. The lower part oâ€™ him was blackened and scorched, with smoke still spiralinâ€™ off oâ€™ him. His clothes was gone; burned right off his body, and his flesh half cooked. It looked as though someone had skewered the fellow and turned him slowly over a huge fire pit! He smelled somethinâ€™ like a roast chicken. But it was no fire pit what done this to him. This was the work oâ€™ a dragon!
Not more than fifty paces beyond the corpse we come across the manâ€™s wagon. It was wrecked and had overturned. We ainâ€™t seen no oxen, I supposed theyâ€™d run off somewhere, beinâ€™ free oâ€™ the bridle. The crates heâ€™d been haulinâ€™ were smashed, with the contents strewn all about, makinâ€™ an awful mess. It was hard to walk about without steppinâ€™ on a shard from a shattered dish or clay pot, or gettinâ€™ your feet all tangled up in a ball oâ€™ wool or a bolt oâ€™ cloth what had become unraveled in the crash. The man must oâ€™ been on his way to the dwarf city with supplies, when he was set upon. The front axle had broken off the wagon and lay twisted and bent, off to the side oâ€™ the road with one wheel still attached. Most likely when the driver had come under attack, he started drivinâ€™ his oxen hard, doinâ€™ his best to get away. One oâ€™ the wheels must have caught a rut, breakinâ€™ the axle, and flippinâ€™ over the wagon. I hoped the fall had killed the man and he was layinâ€™ there dead as dust before the dragon got to him.
While me and Jon was pickinâ€™ through the wreckage, Ithoz had wandered off and was carefully studyinâ€™ the tracks the dragonâ€™d left. We stopped our plunderinâ€™ and ambled over to him. â€œLook here! . . . and here too!â€ he said, as we approached. The ranger moved a step or two to his left, and pointed to the road. â€œBy the Gods, thereâ€™s more than one of them!â€ he whispered, half to himself, but loud enough for me and Jon to hear. The ranger was right. The dragon tracks was all different sizes, indicatinâ€™ there was more than one weâ€™d be havinâ€™ to deal with. Mayhap three or even seven! Oh geez! Well, there was nothinâ€™ we could do â€˜bout that, or the wagon driver . . . and no more we could learn by hanginâ€™ â€˜round this spot, so we turned east and continued to push on towards the town. Weâ€™d gained ground on the monster and his cohorts. He couldnâ€™t be more than a few minutes ahead oâ€™ us.
But . . . why did I have this feelinâ€™ the damn thing somehow knew we was chasinâ€™ him and had stopped his march toward Foothold? Why did I sense the beast was now layinâ€™ in wait fer us somewhere up ahead, ready to ambush the four oâ€™ us as soon as he felt weâ€™d got close enough to him? I dug into my pack and fished out a little whet stone what I keeps fer emergencies. I spit a gob oâ€™ tobacco juice on it, smearinâ€™ it around the face oâ€™ the stone with my finger. Than I run the stone along the workinâ€™ end oâ€™ my falchion a few times, straightening out the few dings Iâ€™d got in it while whackinâ€™ away at the Frost giant.
I knew in my heart, that very shortly Iâ€™d be whackinâ€™ away on somethinâ€™ else . . .