Cyrus the Determined strode
into the room, helmet in hand. The plates of his well-worn armor clanked
as he approached the three men awaiting him in the Warriors' Guild meeting
hall. Cyrus boomed a boisterous greeting, driven by his barrel chest.
"Ho, Phildar! Wellim. Ardin. I'd given the lot
of you up as Troll chow – ha-HA!!! Well lads, since you're all here,
this gathering of the Warrior's Guild is called to order!" Cyrus was
a dedicated veteran, having seen many a conflict and scandal. As the
Guild's senior member, it was up to Cyrus to manage the guildsmen when
they were called upon.
"I can tell you're all wondering why you were
called back from the frontier. Well, the Sovereign needs us for a special
task." They'd heard Cyrus use that phrase many times, but its meaning
was never the same. It could mean the Kingdom was on the verge of being
overrun by vast legions of Undead, or it could just mean some peasant
saw a single Goblin and gave the Sovereign the jitters. Regardless of
the actual severity, the Sovereign's Warriors were duty-bound to respond.
Cyrus continued, "People have been disappearing
on the outskirts of town. These aren't your run of the mill "lost in
the woods" incidents. There's a sinister element at work."
Wellim drew his sword and jumped to his feet.
"What-HO!" he exclaimed. Wellim always let his enthusiasm get the best
of him. Cyrus calmed him down with a disapproving glare, then continued.
"We found tracks, charred ground, and wind-damaged
trees. But all doubt was cast aside when the local Rangers reported
discovering some Dragon spoor."
The response from the group was a mix of excited
chatter and knowing groans. Wellim's eyes gleamed with the excitement
of a new, impending challenge. Phildar the Proud, newest to the guild,
raised his hand.
"Good Sir Cyrus, a question. We total four brave
and strong Warriors. What chance would a single dragon have against
such a mighty force?"
Cyrus paused for a second, unsure of how to
respond. "What chance would a puny lil' house-sized, fire-spitting lizard
who's older than the gods themselves have against four men with pointed
metal sticks?" Cyrus looked into Phildar's eyes and saw the enormity
of their undertaking start to take hold in the young warrior's mind.
Cyrus let the question drop, as the answer was obvious to all assembled.
"Good fellows, we need to act swiftly and hit
this dragon hard. Cast aside any illusions you may have of this being
easy. If you've got any gold left to your name, then by the gods, get
out there, sharpen your weapons, and beef up your armor. And try not
too get distracted on the way…" Cyrus glared at the Ardin the Swift.
Ardin's penchant for indulging in Elven vices was known throughout the
village and had jeopardized more than one of the Guild's past operations.
"This should be a creature fight, fair and square.
No magic involved. If we stay cool and fight with our heads, we can
beat this thing. We always deliver our best for the Sovereign, so it's
time to get out there and do it again. We'll gather at noon, tomorrow,
by the Blacksmith's."
Four swords flew from the scabbards and were
held aloft, touching one another in a Guild salute. The next day they
would do what they do best: put their life on the line for the Sovereign
and the Kingdom.