Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The legend returned|
It was a couple of weeks after the tomb was finished that fleeing people reached the city. They spread rumors of a huge dragon attacking and burning farms in the north. From the reports we knew it was slowly heading towards the city. There were old legends of real fire breathing dragons that spread quickly. Since the city still had the recent memory of the dragon minor they were more then willing to believe the stories told.
The description of this new dragon was much larger than the other dragon. The first attack came two weeks later, the dragon flew low over the north wall and breathed flames that melted even the stones of the wall. It dropped into a marketplace and grabbed a large draft horse before leaping into the air and flying away. The city council didn’t wait and came to me.
The tavern was packed as I fed ground up food to little Sky. Flower was singing as she cleaned tables and Song was echoing her as she leaned against me watching her daughter eat. The room was silent as I joined the melody and continued to feed Sky who liked listening to music or singing. I glanced at the door when the council came in but continued singing.
As our voices drifted away the men and women began to talk. I wiped Sky’s mouth as the council walked towards me and lifted her out of the handmade chair one of the customers had made and given me. I gave her to Song before turning to the men as they stopped. I expected them as soon as I heard about the dragon attacking inside the city.
This time I asked for my tavern to be exempted from the city taxes. They didn’t even hesitate and agreed. After they left I went into the kitchen, Song turned from the stove and smiled, “they want you to kill the dragon.”
I nodded and she sighed, “we will be waiting.”
I went up to our room and took the last vial of the only poison I thought might work. I slipped my short swords on before leaving. I stopped at a weaponsmith and bought a couple of long spears. I went to the marketplace the dragon had taken the horse from and looked around. I stopped one of the guards, “this square needs to be cleared. The dragon will return here when it get hungry.”
The guard looked around before calling to another guard. I walked across the square to a farmer selling a large oxen and started bargaining for it. I wasn’t surprised when everyone almost panicked and fled the square after the guards spread the word that the dragon would return. I cleared the center of the marketplace and staked the oxen out with food.
I applied the poison to the two spears and sat to wait. The day stretched out and then the night slipped upon us. The sun was just rising when there was a cry from the distant wall and someone began beating an alarm. I was right, the huge beast came over the wall and right back to the marketplace. It landed and snatched the oxen as I stood and threw the first spear.
It hit the dragon’s eye and it screamed as it went to its back legs. It breathed a huge stream of fire as it roared and I ran towards it as it turned and crouched. I jumped and landed on its tail behind it rear quarters as it leaped into the air. I held on as the dragon continued to roar and breath fire while climbing higher. I barely held onto the spear as I started crawling hand over hand up the back of the dragon.
I was between its front shoulder blades when it twisted its long neck around and struck. I rolled to the left as I held onto a scale with my left hand. I jabbed the spear with my right hand into the dragon’s mouth and struck its forked tongue. The dragon screamed as it jerked back its head and dropped towards the ground. It spun and twisted as we fell and I rolled to the right and held on.
Our landing was more a crash as the dragon roared and spewed fire. It started to roll and I quickly stuck the spearhead between two scales covering its spine. As the dragon rolled onto its side I began slipping and angled the spear. The dragon rolled onto its back and there was a moment as the spear held it up. I rolled against the side of the dragon already on the ground.
The spear bent and then slammed through the dragon’s hide and into its spine before shattering. The dragon continued to roll but I was already free and coming to my feet. I ran straight for the head and pulled a short sword. The dragon was thrashing around and bellowing and I stabbed through its remaining eye before rolling aside and back. I ran towards its tail as it roared and spewed flames everywhere.
The huge dragon spasmed and kept jerking but the spear had cut the spinal cord so it couldn’t move. Since I was by the tail I was safe from the flames. I glanced at the city walls in the distance and squatted to wait. It was a long time before the poison from the two spears took effect and the dragon stilled. It was growing dark when I moved and walked around until I was behind the dragon’s head.
I looked closely before slipping the point of a sword between two scales. I used all my strength and slammed the sword through at the base of its head and worked it back and forth. I worked all night like that and as the morning sun began to rise I finally managed to remove the head. I walked back to the city and brought back a wagon and Cutter with several of his helpers.
We put the head in the wagon and he took it to my tavern as I started the difficult task of skinning the dragon. When I was finished I cut it open and looked for a gizzard. Inside were a dozen huge fist sizes colored diamonds with hundreds of smaller ones. Cutter helped me put the rolled up skin in the wagon and I went home. I gave Cutter and his helpers some of the gems since they had been the only ones willing to help me.
Over the following weeks I cleaned, tanned and the mounted the dragon. I curled it up in front of the tavern. We had a lot more custom after that with people slipping coins into a large stone fountain Cutter had made beside the dragon.
The Sidhe Host on the move
The tavern was half full of evening diners. Flower moved through the crowd easily to remove dishes or mugs as she sang. I was singing a counterpoint to her song as little Sky held her fist to her mouth and kept yawning as she fought to keep from going to sleep. I glanced at the door as three sidhe entered. They looked around and stared at me before moving to a table.
One of the serving girls went to take their order as Henry slipped out the kitchen door. Her crossed to me and I leaned over so he could whisper in my ear as I continued singing, “there are hundreds of sidhe camping all around us.”
I nodded and looked at the door as several more walked in, “watch the horses.”
I straightened and gestured to the other serving girl and she opened the kitchen door. Song walked out wiping her hands and picked up the lullaby as she walked towards me. One of the sidhe stood and reached out towards Song and I stood. Flower moved towards me quickly as the room fell silent, “let her go.”
He smiled and shifted to finger the handle of his dagger. I shifted and gave Sky to Flower, “you wish to face true death? Very well, I am Lan formerly of the Quirrin clan.”
I started towards him as people moved out of the way. The sidhe shifted and his friends stood, I barely glanced at them as I reached the arrogant sidhe and continued to move. He was totally surprised when I moved to the side smoothly and grabbed the hand holding Song. I yanked it back and twisted before bending it and bringing it back and down.
He screamed as his wrist snapped and he was slammed to the floor. I moved and twisted his wrist as I kicked out into the closest sidhe as he pulled a dagger. My kick struck true and his leg snapped back and he screamed and went down. I looked down at the one on the floor and started to snap his neck with my foot.
I shifted and turned to see a dozen more sidhe at the door. I looked down at the one at my feet before letting him go, “if I see you again you are dead.”
I turned to face all the sidhe, “this is my place. You will not touch those here.”
The sidhe that had spoken stepped forward, “we are not used to a lowly tavern keeper telling us what to do, not even one who is of our people.”
I looked at him carefully, “I am a Quirrin master who wishes peace. If you or anyone disturbs that they will pay dearly.”
I gestured to Song who had moved to Flower and her daughter, “Winter’s Song is my mate, touch her and I will kill your clan.”
The sidhe looked at me for a minute before nodding. He looked at the sidhe on the floor, “leave, go north and scout the way to the summer lands.”
He looked around, “we will honor the peace.”
It was several minutes before everyone began talking and most of those that were regulars left. Song kept her daughter with her and Flower moved carefully as even more sidhe came in. Word had spread but many kept watching me. When the elder sidhe walked in, it went quiet. He ignored those around the room and headed straight towards me.
He didn’t wait for an invitation and pulled out a chair and sat. I looked at him for a moment before gesturing to Flower. She moved through the tables, “father?”
I smiled, “water and a meal.”
She looked at the sidhe before nodding and turning to head towards the kitchen. I sat back and glanced at the elder, “well?”
He smiled, “you are much like your father, but tempered.”
He looked towards the door as more sidhe entered, “these city people fear and loath us but are more then willing to take our gold.”
I shrugged, “if you act badly people will despise you. Business is business.”
He smiled, “and you?”
I looked at him as Flower came out of the kitchen, “if you act badly here I don’t care if you have gold.”
He grinned and then laughed and sat back. I gestured to him when Flower arrived and she slipped the tray onto the table. I pulled her beside me, “it is to quiet and still, sing something to sooth the beasts and calm the animals.”
She smiled, “you always say that about our guests.”
She turned and thought before beginning a song that brought instant silence. I watched as she let the music fill her and began moving through the tables. The elder leaned forward to listen as did every man in the room. The room almost breathed the song in and exhaled music that sank into the soul. Song stepped out with Sky and her voice began a counter point to Flower’s song.
It was but moments before the front door opened and sidhe women began walking in. Their voices joined Song’s as they moved along the wall and more women and then girls followed them. When Flower stopped she was back at our table and smiled, “I think that worked.”
I smiled but the elder laughed and stood, “come visit our camps and we can...”
I held up my hand, “I think the sidhe need to see and feel something they have lost.”
I stood and reached for Song’s hand before taking Flower’s. I looked at the elder sidhe, “send for all the clans.”
He stood slowly and looked at me almost warily, “why?”
I started for the door, “Because it is time the clans became one again.”
I stopped and turned to look at him, “we are called sidhe.”
He grinned and laughed as he strode after me, “what do you propose?”
I gestured, “bring the clans and I will show you.”
He barked orders and several sidhe ran as the others stood to follow us. I led them out and around to the tomb of the lost king. We waited for almost an hour as more and more sidhe gathered. I finally turned and unlocked the tomb and pushed the door open. I looked at Flower and Song, “a song.”
Flower was wide eyed but Song barely shifted before starting a song of passing. It was picked up quickly by the other women and I led the way in and down. Soon the song filled the air and each sidhe breathed it in. In the great hall they spread out until it was filled and then I started on. By the time I led them into the throne room they were all singing as if they knew what they would find.
I crossed straight to the throne and knelt. As the sidhe slowly filled the room they made room and knelt. Finally I stood and turned as the song died, “I know not why or who killed the king. I know only that he was left here alone. My mate has said he is our lost king and that may be true. What I do know is the sidhe are no more than nomads blowing in the wind.”
I looked around, “They say we are the oldest race but the clans act no better then wild beasts. It is time we had direction and purpose.”
I looked at the elder and a moment later he stood, “you propose?”
I smiled, “I propose the clans speak together once more.”
He looked around before gesturing and clan leaders stood. I gestured to the wall niches, “each of these tell me of the clans. Perhaps this place will remind you of the past you lost.”
I reached for Song’s hand and then Flower’s, “remember those that went before and created what we are.”
I led the way out and left the sidhe around the king. It was quiet when we came out and Song squeezed my hand. I sent her and Flower in as I started around the inn and stood looking at the sky that was so different than the one I grew up looking at. The shifting sounds of the night changed and I moved smoothly to the side and into the shadows.
Sidhe rushed me with daggers and I moved into them. I turned and grasped a wrist before twisting and snapping it back and around into his stomach. I pulled and side stepped to pull him into another sidhe before letting him go. My hand struck out and into the throat of another to crush his windpipe. I back stepped and brushed a lunging dagger away before catching the hand.
Twisting and pulling, I yanked him against me and shoved the dagger into his heart. I spun and twisted to avoid a striking dagger before moving into the sidhe. I twisted his arm to spin him as my left hand went around his head and grasped his chin. I let his arm go and grabbed his head and twisted and there was the familiar pop as the neck snapped.
I looked around at the bodies and glanced towards the tomb. These had been the sidhe that had first entered the inn, all except the one sent noorth anyway. I stayed in the shadows until the sidhe began to emerge. They saw the dead and moved towards them as I watched. When I moved out of the shadows the old sidhe looked at me as his eyes narrowed.
I glanced at the others, “I told you I am a Quirrin master. These returned to attack me and that is not a wise thing to do.”
The elder looked at the men on the ground, “so much for your fine...”
I stepped towards him, “arrogance? Do you not see what comes from that?”
There was a murmur and he looked at me, “and your boost about being a Quirrin master?”
I sighed, “it is not a boost, it was meant as a warning.”
He snorted and then nodded, “and in our arrogance we chose to see it as a boost.”
I shrugged, “sidhe are old but not alone in that.”
I turned away, “find a place to make your kingdom and show the world what being sidhe means.”
The Quirrin Master
The sidhe stayed for two weeks before leaving. Everyday many would go down to look at the old king. After they left things returned to normal and a few months later Winter’s Song was pregnant again. Every time I saw her she seemed more beautiful. Flower was learning to cook and was spending more time in the kitchen. She took the time to come out and move through the room as she sang though.
Sky was growing and actually staying awake longer. We had a lot more women coming to eat with the men so the atmosphere was calmer. Winter was almost over when he came, the room was crowded as Flower and Song sang together when I felt his presence and looked at the doors. He stepped into the room and his eyes swept the room before locking on mine.
He crossed the room as I turned to put Sky in the cradle on the table. The Quirrin Master sat across from me, “you should have continued to run.”
I smiled, “I wasn’t running, I left to seek a true home.”
He looked around, “the clan is your home.”
I looked into his eyes, “you are assassins that take money to kill. You sell your honor and thought to use me to make more.”
He shrugged, “true but you owed us...”
I stood, “I owed the clan for what was given and left instead of killing all for the lies and treachery that was done. You refused to acknowledge me a full master when you knew there was no other but you that could face me.”
He stood, “and that is why I have followed, to judge and sentence you to clan death.”
I gestured to the door, “then let us go out into the night. Clan business is clan business and not for outsiders.”
He smiled, “you have until the midnight hour to face me Lan.”
He stood before looking around the now quiet room. He glanced at me before turning to walk out. I sent everyone home and pulled Song out of the kitchen before giving her instructions in case I did not return. I knew the master wouldn’t just be waiting, I also knew where. I went to dress carefully and sat to think and let my mind center.
I stood at the midnight hour and smiled at Song and Flower before walking out. I walked to the tomb and opened it before starting down. When I entered the throne room it was dark and silent. I let my senses reach out as I took a step and brushed a thrown dart away with a dagger, “you can do better master.”
Silence answered my statement as I moved to the side and began circling the room. I deflected another dart, “you have become lazy.”
I kept moving and ignored and slight sound across the room as I turned and slipped a knife into my other hand. My dagger blocked a striking dagger and I sliced the forearm that held it before sliding back and sidestepping, “sloppy.”
I brushed two more darts away and moved after him as he faded back. I paused and then silently drifting into the darkness using the stealth I had master. I stopped to listen and shook my head when a dart hit the wall several paces away. It was several minutes before I struck out and stabbed into the master’s side before moving back. I continued to move around silently and stopped to one side of a niche.
It was a long time before I felt him drifting close. He moved as if to enter the niche and I sliced across his arm cutting deep. I slipped back into the darkness and moved away, this time I stopped in the opening to a niche and waited. It was a couple of minutes before I felt the master. He slid to one side and sliced to the side of the niche and I slid in to cut his inner thigh before sliding back and away.
This time I moved to another niche and then out into the dark room. It was several minutes before I felt him again. He drifted between me and the niche before I heard the dart strike the niche wall and then the wall on each side of the entry. I slipped closer and stabbed in and out before moving sideways and back. He spun with a hiss and threw several darts before going silent.
This time I moved to the entry into the room and to one side. It was a few minutes before the master tried to move past me towards the way out. I moved in a quick strike and my knife struck his spine below the neck and above the shoulders. He dropped to the floor and there was silence. I squatted beside him, “you should have let it go.”
He gasped for air, “kill me.”
I shook my head, “you will die soon enough.”
He cursed, “KILL ME!”
I looked into the darkness where his face was hidden, “A clan with no honor will not survive.”
I shifted and reached out to slid the blade of my dagger in under his ear and up into his brain. I stood and quietly walked out without looking back at the man that had been my mentor and father. When I walked into the tavern Song was waiting and walked into my arms.
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