Sunday, January 27, 2008

Chapter 1: The fires of the past

       Caden loved to listen to Eric's stories. It's possible he was the only one in town. Caden only lived for 15 harvests, and was not allowed in the tavern. Instead, he sat on the roof by the chimney, and listened to the stories drift up with the heat and smoke. Caden knew Sir Eric's warnings against the Dragon Knights, but he didn't care.

     To him, the Dragon Knights were adventure, travel to the foreign lands. Protecting border towns from the pirates of the Starcia Desert, and defending the elves in the east from the troll armies. Most importantly, Caden wanted to fulfill the sacred duty of the Five Great Sages.
      Five millenia ago, the Five sacrificed their lives to seal away the Dragon Queen. Their sacrifice was the birth of their great kingdom, and the Dragon Knights served to ensure the dragons would never return.
     That night, as Caden watched Eric stumble home, he saw the forest near Eric's homestead glowing orange-red from a great fire. He climbed off the roof and followed Sir Eric.

     Sir Eric, not nearly drunk as he wanted to be, traveled home, so he could continue his drinking alone. He saw the fire in the forest. The river would protect his land, yet the red glow of the moon was an omen he couldn't ignore.
     He altered his course to take him to his dock and small boat. He didn't see Caden watching him paddle across the river to investigate the blaze.


In the Pyoksan Mountains, the people are wealthy. They had the richest mines of gold and iron in the Kingdom, and would never leave their homes. The Dragon Knights patrolled the passes and valleys of the mountains, to protect the locals from the Starcia Pirates.
    Sir Eric marched for days in those mountains, with no warning of when an attack might come. The pirates flew in on their mechanical dragons, and dropped firebombs from the sky. The fire was horrible, hot enough to melt your armor into your skin. Sir Eric was cursed to hear the screams, smell the burning flesh, forever at his side. In the flames of the forest, he saw his friends being consumed.
     Yet it is not the flames that woke him up in the night. It was the prisoners the Dragon Knights captured. They were the ones who haunted his dreams. They were the ones that Sir Eric tried to drown in an endless tide of ale and shine.


     Caden watched the river for Eric's return. When he came back from the other side, he had someone else in his boat. The stranger's body and clothes were burnt, and Sir Eric carried him with care. Caden moved in closer, trying to see who the stranger was. 
     Eric carried him to his homestead, and went inside. Caden watched Eric house. Shadows moved past windows, but Eric never lit a light. Caden sat in the bushes and shivered. The full moon lit up the clearing around the house. Caden couldn't get any closer and was cold.
       Caden returned to town and entered the bakery. He did his chores, cleaned the kitchen, and went to sleep next to the cooling ovens.