Dragontongue: Introduction by snyprecon
316 Gateway Drive
Pacifica, CA 94044
by FJ Magalit
Thudthud … Thud, echoed a soft knocking. No answer.
ThudThudThud, a bit louder than the first time. Again, no answer.
She readied her knee-high leather boots and BANGBANGBANG. “HELLO!”
Suddenly a gust of wind blew past her blowing her hood right off and exposed her bun-tied blond hair. She fluttered her pointy ears independently and rubbed her nose off of the water dripping from a branch of the naked oak tree that stood slanted next to the house. She hugged and wrapped her self with her woolen cloak and began mumbling complains of all sorts.
“Important, they said … only a month, they said …” muttered the veteran captain of King Kardon’s army.
“Tracking a man who’s probably been dead for the last two hundred years!” she said while peering through a small gap on the side of the chipped door. Hoping to see some movements she saw nothing but a small round table and on top of it was, “… eight, nine, ten!” she counted. Ten toppled over bottles of mead. She knew that only bottles shaped like a woman’s body was used for mead and that ale was either poured through jugs or kegs.
“Oh great! I’m too late! He probably drank himself to death!” she complained thinking she had just wasted her time. She thought of ending her journey and start heading back, but she dreaded how she would have to explain her reasons to the Council why their savior is dead and she knew that a simple apology would never be good enough for them. Then there’s the list of foolish questions she knew they would bombard her with: “Did you see the body?” “Did you touch it?” “Was it warm or was it cold?” “How did he look?” or “Why didn’t you bring him back?” She felt hopeless and out of frustration she banged her head on the door.
“What a pointless mission! I would’ve been glad to receive the death penalty, but no, instead they gave me this!”
It had been nearly a year since she was forced to comply with the demands of the Council. Charged with treason for disobeying a direct order, she was given the punishment of retrieving a man they called “Dragontongue”, a valued asset to the Council who had gone missing for almost three centuries.
She sighed and backed away from the door that hung on two rusted hinges, which nearly fell off from her banging earlier, and began looking around the weathered cabin. She noticed how the place appeared to be a big jumbled piece of wood, uneven pieces of lopsided lumber one on top of another, as if it was built with little care for attention to detail and much less for its looks. It reminded her of a house she once built with twigs when she was a child, but even that she thought was somewhat more pleasing to look at.
She decided to not bother looking behind the cabin, assuming it would be the same or probably even worse than the front. She inspected the place more closely and noticed how mud and straw was stuffed in random crevices of the wall and clumsily hammered nails stuck out in most places.
“How is it even able to stand?” she wondered.
The cabin stood at a good height of ten feet and rested on top of a small mound. It had a flat roof, which appeared to have been made out of thousands of intertwined strips of twigs and branches, like it was just thrown all together. There was no front windows and surprisingly no chimney either, a very important feature considering the cabin was located up the Adena Mountain or “Shifting Mountain”, as the locals came to call it, where light rain can all of a sudden turn into a blizzard without any sign of warning.
She decided to try and knock again and this time, a hint of life finally revealed itself.
“We're not interested, no thank you!” yelled a drunken voice from the inside.
“I'm not here to sell you anything!” she yelled back in shock from the rudeness she had just received.
“Then what do you want? I've no money!”
“I don't want any of your money; I've got enough of my own, thank you very much!” she huffed. “And mind you, I’m in no mood to be spoken to in that way!” It was at this very moment that she knew her task was going to be much harder than she had expected.
“Well unless you've got ale or even better, mead, then you've no business here! Go away!” the voice was starting to get louder and much more irritated.
“As a matter of fact … Yes!”
“Yes?” said the voice excitedly. “So you've got ale or some mead then?”
“NO! Not that part! I meant the business part!” she yelled annoyingly. “It's a matter of important business!” She sighed and started quivering because of the freezing breeze that decided to greet her all of the sudden.
“Oh? And what business is so important to bother such an old man in his sleep?” This time the voice appeared to sound as if it was right behind the wooden door. “And you can start by giving me your name!”
“Old man? Sleep?” she wondered why a man, whose voice sounded more like a boy who just reached his adolescent years really, would be sleeping during the middle of the day.
“My name is Emily Alehart, Captain Alehart of the 131st Brigade! I’ve gathered some information from the town of Asden below and was informed that a man who goes by the name of Rowan Aldrich lived up here!” she continued to yell.
“Did that nosy bar owner Bibsy open his big mouth again?” he asked and then mumbled something like; “I could’ve sworn I paid him back.” And went on with; “Wait … did I ever pay him back?” He gave a loud curse and banged his head on the door.
“Anyway, he did! But he's long dead now, so it's best you get going on your way, otherwise I'd be forced to chase you down this mountain … you hear?” the man threatened, now heated about his own debt.
“Then perhaps you might know the half-elf named Aden Budreux-the man I’m really looking for?”
There was a long pause. Of course he knew of this person she spoke of, but he’d not heard that name for a very, very long time.
“Uh … no … I meant-NO! He’s very much dead too!”
“Then who, in the Drars dead toes, are you?” she insisted now annoyed being out in the freezing cold and having trekked the mountain for half a day just to be harassed by a rude and stubborn old man.
“Uh …” the man began to think of aliases he had never used and began glancing around the cabin for any ideas. “… Bed …” he said while staring at his wool covered cot. “… Gold …?” as he sees a piece of change embedded between a crack on his wooden floor. “… I meant Bed Gold-I am Mr. Bed Gold!”
“Bed Gold? Do you take me for a fool? You would have me believe that a mother would name their child after what they slept in?” she said while giving the door another slam with her boot.
“Why … yes! My mother was quite an ancient woman and back then names weren’t all that important, you know.”
“You really think I’m as brainless as the man who built this cabin? I tell you ...”
The man interrupted, “If you must know, I put my whole heart into making this place and it only took me a year!”
“A year?" Even a child would’ve been able to build a nicer place than this eye sore in a year! Only a man in his sleep or possibly drunk in his mind can build a place like this!”
The man began to think hard for an explanation before saying anything. “You know I don’t really remember hammering after all.”
Emily sighed heavily and muttered, “Just as I thought.” Then out of nowhere she was startled with an, “Aha! Now I remember!”
“Oh great! What lies did he just conjure up now?” she thought.
“I was drunk!” He gave a hard laugh. “I remember cutting down trees around here and the next morning I woke up and it was there! Quite impressive, if you think about it.”
“It’s nothing to be proud of,” she said flatly. “So I guess you were drunk then.”
“Obviously! Aren’t you paying any attention at all? You must be slow in the head aren’t you? I’m amazed the army decided to promote someone like you. Oh, things surely have changed.”
Emily just shook her head.
“Anyway, I assure you I’m no “Dragontongue” or any persons you’re looking for! I’m just an old man trying to go sleep!” explained the man.
“What was that? What did you just say? You said ‘Dragontongue’. Who ever mentioned anything about that?”
The man cleared his throat. He knew he had slipped the truth and tried to cover it with another lie. “Uh … I said ‘I once saw a dragon’s tongue’?” But Emily saw past it.
“No … you said ‘Dragontongue’. And I know that only me, the Council and …” she gasped. “… You! You are him!”
“Um …” He swallowed nervously. “… No?”
“Listen here old man; I’m through with your silly games! You come out this instance or I will be forced to break open this door and introduce you to my sword … you hear?” she demanded with a very frightening tone of voice. Dead or alive she was going to bring something back.
But there was neither an answer nor the sound of the door being unlocked. Instead she heard a muffled cry of squirming inside.
“All right that’s it! I’ve had it with you!”
Finally losing her patience, she drew her sword and kicked down the front door. There at the back window, about three feet above the ground, was a disturbing image of two bulky legs and a bare backside.
“What are you doing?” she tried to sound serious, but slipped a giggle when she smacked his rear with the flat of her sword.
“Uh … what do you mean?” said the man, like a fat burglar stuck in a chimney. He wiggled and kicked once more, but again with no effect.
She then began to wonder if this really was the Aden Budreux, the first of his kind who supposedly saved the world once from slavery. Why does he have thick legs? Why does he have ten plump toes? And why does he seem to have such a round curved bottom? As much as she wanted to get a glimpse of his face, the man’s rear wouldn’t allow her to. And as reluctant as she was, she spoke to him while half his body dangled outside the cabin.
“I meant you trying to run away and all.” she said and sheathed her sword.
“RUN?! Ha! Running is for cowards!” He said. He wiggled some more and kicked again but with no results.
Afraid that he has been found by those he had been trying to avoid the past two hundred some years, he had tip toed his way to the only window available that happened to have always had the problem of opening completely.
“Um … I’m a bit stuck here, would you mind helping me a bit?”
“There’s a door next to that window and you chose that as your exit?”
“Then you would’ve heard me open the door!”
“I suppose you’re right, the sound of you squeezing yourself through that window and making all that jerking noise is much more discreet,” she said.
“Well …” She paused and sighed “… there’s really only one way to get you out of that …” she stalled for a while.
“Well what?” the man asked anxiously.
“It’s really easy, actually …” she stalled some more. The man grunted and growled something unpleasant, but she ignored him. “… We simply cut off your legs!” she declared in a serious tone and made sure he heard the sound of her sword being drawn.
“Wait … what!” the man yelped and took a big gulp. “You’re not serious are you?” There was no answer. He started to worry so he thought of an idea of rapidly clenching his rear in hope of popping out at least one cheek to give him a better chance of freeing himself. No results.
“I suggest you keep still and loosen up, unless you wish me to cut off more than I have to.” She said calmly.
“Loosen up?” he said in a high pitched tone.
“No worries, I’ve done much timbering in my old days …” she said.
“Timbering! Is there any roots or leaves you see growing out of me?” the man cried.
But she pretended not to hear him and lightly tapped her sword behind each pair of legs to demonstrate the hacking motions it took to cut down a tree.
“Well, it’s a similar process really: you just concentrate on one spot and hack till it falls off. That’s it! And judging by the thickness of your legs I’d say it would take about five, perhaps less hacking … if we’re lucky.”
Surely her serious tone had really begun to sink in the man’s head by now so he cried and begged for another way to get him down.
“Please … there must be some other way …”
“Tsk … Tsk … Tsk …” she shook her head. “… unfortunately it appears to be the only way … Mr. Bed Gold …”
“Ready?” she asked him, but before he could answer she began to count. “One … two … on ‘ten’ okay …” she declared and the man clenched harder. “… three …” but before she even reached ‘six’, she stood in a fighting stance and poked the end of her sword into his left butt cheek!
“AHHHHH!” the man screamed and jerked even harder than a hooked worm, shaking the cabin like an earthquake.
The captain, at last, broke her silence and began to laugh like a possessed woman.
The man gave one last effort to jerk his way out and finally, POP, he was free … or so he thought. Somehow he’d managed to tumble forward and out the window instead and fall flat on his back on a pile of snow.
“How did that happen?” Emily thought. She leaned over the window to make sure he was all right, but witnessed yet another disturbing image, this time to a hairy pair of open legs.
“Oh for the Dragons’ hairy noses, would you please cover that up!” she demanded while looking away from his crotch.
The man, who was still gasping for air and moaning with pain, ignored her and started to rock himself up to his feet. No result.
It was then that he realized that for the second time of the day, for what seemed like the millionth time really, even as happy as he was being freed from the window, he was once again stuck.
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