Jasmine Snippet #94

More notes for The Story of Jasmine:

Lt. Adrian Cartwell rode at top speed with his injured prize and did not slow his pace until his horse desperately needed rest. Galloping so hard for so long, exhausted the poor beast. He was exhausted too. Although they had not yet made it out of the forest, he felt he was far enough along that he would be safe from attack.

The lizard-dragon Gryth had long since given up squirming. The Lieutenant hoped the creature was still alive. He dismounted and carefully laid Gryth limply on the ground. It seemed weak and made disturbing chortling sounds. It must be hungry but the Lieutenant did not know what it ate. However, he did have a water canteen and dripped water into its mouth. That helped. The water revived Gryth enough to demand more. A good sign.

The Lieutenant wetted a handkerchief and washed Gryth’s wounds. Some were nasty but most were superficial. It hurt Gryth so much to move, Lt. Cartwell concluded it must be because of that awful kick he received from the woman. He realized how painful the horse ride probably had been for it and felt it best for the patient not to be jostled anymore on horseback. Lt. Cartwell risked a fire, deciding that warmth along with peaceful ground rest would help the dragon mend his internal injuries.

When the fire was crackling, they rested near its warmth. “Little Gryth boy…” he kept repeating as he tended to its torn body, “poor little one… you will be alright.” He urged the creature to rest. He soothed the animal by speaking to it in the same tone and repeating the same words that his own mother said to him when he was little and in need of comfort.

He placed his entire focus on Gryth. He did not want to leave room in his mind to think about how he abruptly abandoned the men under his charge. But saving Gryth was important. First and foremost, it was Bardulf’s pet. To lose Gryth was to lose his life. But also, there was another amazing reason. He had heard the little dragon speak to him.

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Jasmine Snippet #93

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

From her perch on a lonely mountain rock, Jasmine watched the outcome of the day’s battle. She desperately wanted to help and paced morosely back and forth from her horse to her vantage point. Oh, how she wanted to turn all those hideous creatures into stone! But without her staff, she felt she did not have the power, or the means. And she faced the truth. Even if she did have her staff, she did not know how to wield it for such a purpose. She felt stupid and ineffective.

Witnessing the Wichtleins’ eventual victory was devastating. She watched in horror as those large menacing men slowly surrounded her protectors. There was a pause in the fighting that opened into a space. They were completely surrounded but instead of killing them, they took their weapons. They captured everything but the staff, which Ahearn held on to tightly.

“What can I do?” she asked out loud, as if she was appealing to the sky. And to her surprise, her plaintive call was answered.

“Listen to the wind” was the response.

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Jasmine Snippet #92

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

The ensuing battle temporarily united Bardulf’s soldiers with Jasmine’s protectors against their non-human foe. The Wichtleins, still uncertain about the magical staff Ahearn held aloft, concentrated their efforts on eliminating the second group of men who’d arrived on horseback.

In the fighting, the Wichtleins slowly closed in on them, noting how the staff held by Ahearn glowed ominously. In the end, superior numbers won the day. By twilight, only Jasmine’s protectors remained alive. Because of their deep superstitions regarding magic, few Wichtleins were willing to engage them.

The day ended with Glynn, Thorne, Ahearn and Rogan completely surrounded, their weapons taken from them. “Guard them.” ordered the Chieftain, who seemed to have something in mind. The Wichtleins began clearing the battleground of all the fallen. Although they had won, three times as many Wichtleins were dead. Cleaning up was a grim affair.

Many Wichtleins were relieved they did not have to deal with the lady in white who had ridden off at the onset of the battle. None would go after her. The land across the bridge was taboo. All Wichtleins who ventured there, never came back. All agreed she would probably share the same fate.

As the dead men were being picked up and all their horses lead away, Glynn praised the valiant efforts of the fallen men, who arrived with the dragon lizard. They were good fighters. Glynn was unsure, but he seemed to recognize one of them. “It was in another place, at another time,” he sighed, “I think we had a drink together. I’d raise one in honor now, if I could…”

Thorne reacted violently when the body of her hawk was picked up. “Don’t touch him!”  she cried, only to be ignored. Then she cursed Jasmine again, under her breath, for the death of Gavin, her sweet, great bird.

Glynn addressed her, “Curse her all you like, but we are alive now because of her.”

Thorne snorted, “How do you figure?”

“Her staff saved us.” Glynn replied as he watched Ahearn whorl the staff around as if it was a fighting stick.  “It’s clearly a weapon, but it’s the only thing they clearly would not touch. They are afraid of it more than they are afraid of us.”

They all looked at Ahearn, who remained focused on looking menacing. Rogan had nothing to say.

At length, they heard the sound of drums in the distance. Ahearn then started talking gibberish. To the accompaniment of drums, he spoke non-words in a commanding way and would keep up the act throughout the night.

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Jasmine Snippet #91

“The Story of Jasmine” notes continue:

When their commander’s massive head was split in two with one cleave of that dwarf’s battle-axe, none of the Witchleins knew what to do. Was this magic, or a mighty warrior? Their second thought was of eating a warrior as mighty as this. They would feast on his strength and fortitude. What a great and honored feast he would make. But until that time, the dwarf still dangerously possessed his warrior’s spirit.

Most Witchleins were only familiar with raids carried out at night, when their victims were asleep. Subduing awake victims during the day seemed to be ill-advised. Most were reassured that as long as Ikvokeg was there to lead and guide the attack, everything would go as smoothly as planned. But Ikvokeg can no longer give them a signal. How do they know when it is the right time to strike?

How did that dwarf warrior know to attack lkvokeg’s spot? Suspicious and overanxious, once they saw and recognized Ahearn as he rode in, one of them cried, “Dock-far person meat!” They all then prematurely left their hiding places in the rocks above. They were not in any hurry but by the time they reached level ground, there was another group to fight.

*  *  *

Jasmine remained on her horse, still stunned by her encounter with the dragon-lizard. Ahearn quickly rode up from behind, and grabbed Jasmine’s arm to pull her attention back to the here and now. His touch shook her out of her dazed state and Jasmine realized the danger all around them. She realized Thorne was cursing her.

“Ride ahead, princess…” Ahearn said with an air of authrity, “ride until you see a bridge to the right and take it!”

“What?” was all Jasmine could muster as a reply.

Ahearn grabbed the Staff of Erlkyng,”Trust me!” he said, “I’ll, ah … we’ll join you later. Now GO!”

He slapped the rear of Jasmine’s horse and the animal gladly distanced itself from the fray. Having witnessed Jasmine heal the winged creature, the Wichtleins allowed her to ride past unharmed. She was magical. But Ahearn was another matter. They closed in on him.

Knowing he’d be caught up in the fighting, Ahearn held Jasmine’s staff aloft for all to see. “Magic! Magic!” he kept repeating.

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Jasmine Snippet #90

The Mounted Warriors Faction Card and the Attack Event card from “Jasmine: The Battle for the Mid-Realm” collector card game.

New notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Uncharacteristically, Lt. Cartwell arrived at the clearing before his men and witnessed Thorne’s brutal kick and Glynn’s resolve to kill it. Although the wounded dragon lizard was hurting, it wiggled away quite expertly. With an already bloodied battle axe, Glynn was prepared to take this opportunity to strike it down once and for all. But a couple heart beats or more before Glynn raised his mighty battle axe, Ieithoedd, to cleave the creature in two, Lt. Cartwell clearly heard the wounded dragon speak to him. “Save me now…!”

No longer than it took him to hear the command, Lt. Cartwell acted in one swift motion. He dove from his horse, rolled his body mid-air, scooped up the bleeding dragon-lizard and ran with him, out of the fray, blood streaming. The Lieutenant was already gone when Glynn’s axe hit the ground.

The Lieutenant’s horse quickly followed his master, back in the direction they came, but was nervous around the pitiful creature. Lt. Cartwell took off his jacket, wrapped Gryth within it, and managed to remount his reluctant horse. As he rode away, with his arms wrapped tightly around the wounded creature, the Lieutenant called to his men, “Our orders are to apprehend them. Do the best you can. I’m told we have back-up on the way.”

His men were momentarily puzzled.Why would any leader leave in the midst of a fight? Why was protecting that creature so important to the Lieutenant? These and questions like it popped into their brains. Save for the Lieutenant, most of these men were well-trained, seasoned mercenaries, whom Bardulf had picked up for his army. They well understood what was expected of them. They were loyal to those who paid them. So they were loyal to Bardulf. Each wondered why they agreed to such a low fee, and secretly wondered if they had not been magically induced to lower their prices.

Most of the trip had been so boring and uneventful, Lt. Cartwell’s men were itching for action. They knew what to do. Would they reach a wide enough space to maneuver their horses into their customary wedge attack formation? At least, they knew who to look for. Their primary target was a young blonde maiden. And there she was, riding a horse away from the clearing in the other direction. They also saw a dwarf on the ground with a battle-axe and two male riders. They initially thought their numbers could easily take three fighters and one woman.

When they rolled as a group into the clearing to attack, they noticed large, ugly things crawling down from the rocks, like giant clumsy spiders with clubs. Once on level ground, these ugly giants swarmed with frenzy and ferocity. With the Lieutenant absent from the fight, they were going to have some big problems posed by the new threat. No longer did they possess superior numbers. When did Lt. Cartwell say back-up would arrive?

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Jasmine Snippet #89

The Story of Jasmine notes continue:

Thorne’s eyes never left Gavin. She was aware of the battle, and knew her hawk was in the midst of being victorious against the foul creature. Her combat-trained hawk was about to finish off the evil-looking black lizard when that damned girl healed it!  Why did she do that? Thorne saw it all happen. Gavin broke off his attack when it landed on the head of Jasmine’s horse. And, for but an instant, she saw the staff glow, just as Jasmine touched the creature’s heart with her hand. The ring glowed too!

Thorne had made it to the clearing when she saw that horrible black, evil creature suddenly spring away from Jasmine. In a flash, he was already in mid-attack, when Thorne called a warning to her retreating bird. The dragon-lizard struck such a powerful blow, the bird instantly fell from the sky, pursued by Gryth.

Thorne heard no cries from her hawk when he landed on the ground with a thud. Gryth pinned Gavin, concentrated his breath and breathed into Gavin’s nose. Momentarily stunned, the hawk still had plenty of fight left in him. But he was no match for Gryth’s poisoned breath. As the hawk took its last breath of air, Thorne dismounted and ran to her bird. With all her might, she kicked the creature away from her pet. The lizard-dragon shrieked in pain and writhed away. While he rolled, Thorne swung at it with her sword, but missed.

*  *  *

Lt. Cartwell arrived more quickly than his troup. He had witnessed Thorne’s brutal kick and Glynn’s impending action. Although the wounded dragon lizard was hurting, it wiggled away quite expertly. With an already bloodied battle axe, Glynn was prepared to take this opportunity to strike it down, once and for all. But a heart beat or two before Glynn raised Ieithoedd, his mighty battle axe, to cleave the creature in two, Lt. Cartwell clearly heard the dragon speak to him. “Help me out of here, quickly…!”

No longer than it took him to hear the command, he acted in one swift motion. Lt. Cartwell dove from his horse, rolled his body mid-air, scooped up the bleeding dragon-lizard and ran with him, blood streaming, out of the fray, leaving in the direction he had arrived. Glynn’s axe hit the ground.

The Lieutenant’s horse followed its master, but was nervous around the creature. Lt. Cartwell took off his jacket, wrapped Gryth within it, and managed to remount his reluctant horse. As he rode away with the wounded creature, the Lieutenant called to his men, “Our orders are to apprehend them. Do the best you can, we have back-up on the way.”

His men were momentarily puzzled. Why was protecting the creature so important to the Lieutenant? Why would their leader leave in the midst of a fight? These and questions like it popped into their minds. Most of these men were well-trained mercenaries that Bardulf had picked up for his army and they well understood their job. They were loyal to the one who paid them. So they were loyal to Bardulf. Each wondered why they agreed to such a low fee, and secretly wondered if they had not been magically induced to lower their price.

Most of the trip had been boring and they were ready for action. They knew what to do, and usually attacked in a wedge formation. Would they reach a wide enough space to maneuver their horses like this? They knew to look for and head towards their primary target, a blonde maiden. They originally thought their numbers could easily take three fighters and two women.

But then, they noticed large, ugly things emerging from the rocks. Quickly re-assessing the situation, with the Lieutenant’s absence, they were going to have big problems. They no longer possessed superior numbers.

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Jasmine Snippet #88

Another snippet for “The Story of Jasmine,”

Bardulf’s men, lead by Lt. Cartwell, were stirred by the sounds of aerial combat. At first, they were only focused on the sky upward. Then the Lieutenant was the first to notice some commotion further up ahead. After calling upon his men to be keen, he shouted, “target ahead, Prepare to engage.” He thought victory was easily within their grasp. They picked up speed and quickly closed in on the five. It was only a matter of minutes.

*  *  *

In the meanwhile, Glynn quickly dismounted and got his horse off to the side. If the others could follow his example, in the minutes before they’d be overtaken, they might gain a slight advantage against their pursuers.  If they could but take the offensive… Glynn was barking orders to that effect as he headed towards an outcropping of boulders to conceal himself. Glynn heard a noise and instantly readied his weapon.

With adrenaline coursing through the dwarf’s system, he charged whatever was behind that rock. Turned out, a large man-like thing with a nasty-looking club glared back at him menacingly, ready to strike him dead with a foul blow. For being so large, this warrior was amazingly capable of blending into his surroundings. Glynn finished off his enemy with one, well aimed cleave. As he noticed more of these hideous people peeking from their hiding places, Glynn instantly realized their grim situation, “Aho,” he cried, “A trap!”

*  *  *

Two flying creatures were locked in mortal combat, clawing and biting each other mid-air. When Jasmine appeared out in the open, the leathery creature flew to her, and rasped out a piteous call. It seemed to bow to her.Jasmine was startled. The poor creature was clawed, bitten up, very bloody and badly scratched. Was this his appeal to seek her protection?  This was not what she expected. He’s a loving creature. In an act of compassion, Jasmine stroked the bloodied beast with her ringed hand, getting its blood on her. She forgot she had her staff in the other hand. Jasmine’s grace offered the creature solace. This momentary interaction had the effect of reinvigorating Gryth.

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Ten Dragons

Hello Fans!

I’m very happy my Ten Dragons t-shirt design is very popular, at least with the parents. A hardy THANK YOU to all my Texas fans who bought a t-shirt!

I’m really happy it has turned out so well. I remember working out the details as being very tedious and laborius, but the result is well worth it.

This year, at my NTRPGConX Convention booth, I’m planning to sell some color reproductions of this design, just in case anyone attending wants a signed copy.

See you there in a couple of weeks.

D

Design to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of North Texas RPG Con X

Jasmine Snippet #87

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Ahearn was uneasy. All morning Rogan had monopolized Jasmine’s attention, thwarting his intentions on several counts. First, he wanted to ride closer to Jasmine, more towards the front of the caravan. He had not expected the group to act so jovial. It made it harder on his conscience to carry out his devious plan. Jasmine was usually walled up inside that cloak of hers. It was going to be so easy. Just grab the reins of her horse and they’d be out of there before the ambush commenced. He smirked at the thought that their last memories of him would be in gratitude that he successfully rescued Jasmine from their fate.

The hawk spotted something. They had not yet arrived at the ambush site, which was nearby. Ahearn felt excitement. The trap was nearly ready to be sprung, but for that damned bird.

The hawk’s piercing screams were answered by another more disturbing call, which sounded like a cross between a crocodile and a lion’s roar. Everyone surged ahead to try to see what was happening.

When he caught a glimpse of it, Glynn shouted an alarm. It was Gryth, the creature Jasmine spoke about only last night. “Beware!” He shouted, “Bardulf’s soldiers are nearby! Ride ahead to the opening in the trees. Well make our stand there.” At Glynn’s urging, everyone charged ahead.

Ahearn was stunned. This was a possibility he had not planned for. They were riding at top speed towards the ambush site. This was all wrong. The cannibals are apt to believe he double-crossed them. At first, he just intended to slow things down by getting in front of everyone. Then, damned if he didn’t sense the vibration of earth being pounded by hooves behind them! He charged past Rogan, almost knocking Rogan and his horse into the brush.

Glynn arrived at the point where the road opened up into an incredible vista with a blue sky. The sun nearly blinded everyone who emerged from the thicket. When Glynn reached this place, he was dismounting to find a place among the rocks and shouted instructions for Jasmine to find a hiding place as well.

Before Jasmine could respond, they heard the blood-curdling cries of two creatures locked in mortal combat and Thorne screaming from behind, the name of her pet.

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Jasmine Snippet #86

Notes for The Story of Jasmine continue:

Bardulf was now ready. He took the restraints off of Gryth’s leg. He looked Gryth straight in the eye and visualized the Ring of Emeth, very clearing in his head. “Go find.” Bardulf bid as he launched Gryth up in the air. Through the Crystal Ball, Bardulf reassured Gryth that he was to finally go search for the ring.

Earlier, Bardulf dispatched some troops to the White Throne mountain, hoping to garner more information. When his men discovered two of the best horses missing, he’d ordered a few men to follow the road to catch up with and punish the horse thieves. At this late hour, he enlisted the aid of more nearby troops to follow behind.

Swartzborg was east and south of UR. It would take some time for Gryth to reach UR, and longer yet to reach Oxted. He did not know the creature’s endurance. He let Gryth stop to take rests if he couldn’t find an updraft to float upon. If Gryth followed the ring, it was in a general north westernly direction. Bardulf did not let him take the straightest course.

He wanted his men to follow Gryth as his backup. So he steered Gryth to stay near the main roads, and close to areas and land marks familiar to Bardulf or on the maps he was consulting. Gryth followed the usual westward route. Bardulf aimed to intercept his handful of men who had been ordered to apprehend some thieves. Those men were the closest in proximity to his ultimate target.

His men had traveled most of the way through the stretch of the great plains when Gryth caught up with them. A young Lieutenant Bondfeld was in charge of those men. It was a point of pride for Lt. Bondfeld to notice everything around him, at all times. On this day, his keen observations were rewarded. He recognized Bardulf’s pet and stayed his men from raising their weapons.

The Lieutenant looked up and addressed the creature. “G-G-Grit, you are called?” he asked. As Bardulf directed Gryth to move toward the Lieutenant, a gurgling sound came from the throat of the beast. Gryth dropped a weighted parchment down to him.

To unroll the parchment, the Lieutenant had to break the thick wax seal of Bardulf, the High Reigning Lord King himself! His orders were to abandon their present pursuit and simply follow the dragon-lizard until it stopped — no matter where it lead them.”

The Lieutenant nodded as he read further, “When the little dragon stops by certain people and does not move on, immediately apprehend those people, keep the one with the ring alive.” When the Lieutenant completed the message, he saluted the dragon, then made ready to carry out his new orders.

Bardulf’s message also informed the Lieutenant that Gryth was his eyes. Bardulf could see everything through the eyes of the little dragon and now he looked directly upon the Lieutenant as he read that very message and could also see his men. The Lieutenant was bright, inquisitive, practical, and very rattled.

Following a dragon-lizard was at least different. His men easily fell into the change of routine. They were encouraged through good humor. Lt. Bondfeld wore his most serious face and his mannerisms became more formal. Given his seriousness, his men became doubly amused to have witnessed the absurdity of their superior saluting a lizard.

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