For three days the furry one has been stalking his prey.
Carefully he has shadowed the gnome sitting about thirty feet away. Ever
since hearing the gnome tell a tale in a tavern in the city of never-ending
mists, he has pursued the short one. He trails the gnome not for food,
but for knowledge. Leaving the city of never-ending mists by way of the
rising sun gate and past Highleaf. Onward the gnome has traveled and the
wild canine has followed. Now the gnome sits tending a small campfire on
the side of the rutted path. The sun is lowering towards the western horizon
as it has always done.
A wagon can be heard approaching the spot where the gnome is sitting on a log. A short time later someone cries out "Ho small one, may we partake of your fire for the evening?". The small one slips down off his perch on the fallen log to answer that they may indeed camp with him this eventide.
The human pulls on the reins to lead the horses off the side of the path and into the small clearing. Quietly he checks the breeze to make sure his scent isn't blowing from him to the horses or he will be found out and have to flee. Once safe the wind is in his favor, he settles back in. The human is not alone, he has a woman and two small girls with him. They introduce themselves, the man is a carpenter heading to what he calls Evermist. The woman is his wife and the girls are his daughters. He gently sniffs the air and is almost overwhelmed by the scent of fresh wood. They are not lying to his prey, he is sure of it. His quarry introduces himself as Gert Taleteller, one who travels and tells stories to survive.
After the passing of an hour, all have settled in once again. The carpenter and his quarry are deep in conversation. A few minutes pass and the carpenter stands, calling to his girls to come hear a tale. The carver of wood tells his mate to put some more meat and vegetables in the pot sitting on the campfire. A bargain has been struck, the wolf's leader shall tell a tale in return for a fine meal.
As the gnome stands and moves closer into the light of the fire to begin his tale. The wolf who has shadowed him closes his eyes and rests his muzzle on his forepaws. His ears swivel around listening to the forest to make sure nothing stalks them. Once secure that they shall be undisturbed, his ears turn back towards the gnome called Gert as he proceeds to tell his story.
The well dressed man peers over the wooden fence at the
muscular black stallion. Deep in thought about something only he knows.
His brother turns to him and asks why he bought the horse. His reply comes
slowly "I am not really sure why. There are stronger war horses and faster
ones. Though, I must admit there are also weaker ones and slower ones.
I really can't put my finger on it. Somehow I was just drawn to him and
before I knew it, I was paying the one hundred gold for him from the trainer.".
They go back to watching the stallion standing in the castle paddock. Each
lost in his own thoughts for a short time. The older brother speaks up
"You can stay if you wish.". The one who has bought the war horse turns
to his older sibling, saying "The rights to our lands belong to the eldest.
They are yours, my path in life shall be a roaming path. Traveling through
the world, righting wrongs and punishing evil for the suffering it inflicts
upon this world. Would be nice to stay, yet it is my duty to carry our
family banner far and wide letting the world know that our house stands
for all that is right in this world.". The older says to his younger sibling
"Well at least name the beast, Targwal!". Targwal says "I shall name him
Thunder.". His sib asks what Thunder is. Yet Targwal can not answer, for
he himself does not know. All Targwal knows is that the name seems to fit
the horse, so he leaves it stand at that.
Many years have passed, many battles have been won. Dragons
have been slain, wizards' evil plots have been foiled, damsels have been
saved. Thunder has been scarred many times over, yet still he doesn't shy
away from the battles. Scorched from dragon breath, electrocuted by magi's
magic, scarred by blades of evil knights that strayed from their target.
Across time and battlefields, he has refused to let the noble knight upon
his back down. His rider has never taken him to a tournament where they
fight only out of pride. When spurred into battle, he charges with all
his might. Onward till he thinks his heart shall burst within his chest,
he gallops. His only joy is to the noble one, upon his back, is well served.
Because Targwal, his knight, has never once been tempted away from all
that is good in this world. The snows of winter won't stay him from serving
good in his own way. Nor will the rains or the hottest heat of the desert.
Now he finds that Targwal has been called forth to ride with the Riders of the Mist and help save the humans from being slaughtered in a swamp. He has never failed Targwal shall not fail now. It has been a long, hard ride to this swamp. The sounds of battle carry out of the marsh to his ears. The smell of death hangs heavy in the air. They have charged in and out of mists, seeking foes to fight. Blood has stained the ground red in many places. They stop to listen to the sounds of battle, wondering where the rest of the knights have gone.
Separated from the other knights, they stand alone in a clearing. A shadow detaches itself from the other shadows and moves out to the far edge of the clearing. A knight is barely visible on horseback. The unknown rider raises his face shield calls out across the clearing "Come foolish human, your death awaits on the end of my lance!". Thunder digs at the ground with a hoof, letting Targwal know he is ready to charge. The evil vampire lowers his mask once again.
Thunder feels a slight nudge in his ribs from the spurs Targwal wears. It is all that is needed for Thunder to drive forward. He shall carry this noble one into the battle with pleasure. Great chunks of moss and mud fly up from his hooves as he unleashes all his pent up might. Driving forward with no other thought then to help his noble knight succeed once more. They come together, the ground rumbling with all of their pent up fury being unleashed once again against evil incarnate. The distance shortens to the point where a few more strides and they shall meet. The evil rider's horse places a hoof wrong. It's front hoof slides forward, breaking the stride. Realizing something is wrong, Thunder sees that as the beast goes down. The riders lance is dipping straight for him. He has a split second to turn away and live or to continue on. He stays his course and feels the point of the lance punch through his chest piece. Driving deep into his chest and into his heart. The lance continues on out his far side. The world swims red for Thunder but he refuses to go down till Targwal's lance strikes home. Targwal's lance drives into the vampire's body and out the back, snapping off. Three more strides carry them past before Thunder's legs can no longer support them. Down they tumble in a flurry of metal and flesh. Their momentum sends both sliding across the bog. Targwal is carried clear of Thunder. Thunder musters the last ounce of his strength trying to get up to make sure Targwal is well. Seeing Targwal pushing himself to his hands and knees slowly. Thunder collapses never to ride into battle ever again.
All that is good in the world, call them the eternals,
call them gods, stare from above at what they just witnessed. They slow
time till it almost stops. Turning to each other, they converse among themselves.
They reach an agreement that something should be done to mark the passing
of such a noble beast. One speaks up "Why not do this. We have clouds that
contain evil. The darker they are, the more evil they contain. What those
below call rain, is nothing more than the clouds crying because of the
evil they hold deep inside of them. Yet sometimes clouds contain more evil
than they can hold. When that happens, evil breaks free and strikes out
at the ground in a bolt of pure hatred. Let us place this noble creature
upon the cloud tops and if evil breaks free. Then this beauteous horse
can charge across the cloud tops trampling evil back into it's place. To
continue helping all that is righteous protect the world.". The others
agree with the one who has just spoken. turning their gaze back down to
the world below, they increase the speed at which time flows once again.
Targwal rolls over and pushes himself up onto his hands
and knees. He turns his gaze towards his faithful mount which never failed
him. Yet all he sees is Thunder raise it's head towards him before falling
back into the mud. Thunder's eyes glaze over and he knows Thunder has died.
A beam of pure white light lances down out of the heavens at Thunder's corpse. A light so bright, it lights up the fog for miles around. As the beam strikes Thunder, the corpse slowly sinks into the ground from sight. Right before Targwal's eyes, a red rose slowly sprouts from the ground in the same spot. How long the light lasts, no one can say for sure, but the tide of the battle has turned by the time it is gone.
The gnome has ended his story. He turns towards the children
and says "And that children is how thunder came to be in this world. I
shall never be afraid of lightning. Because all I have to do is wait for
Thunder to come charging across the cloud tops, trampling evil back into
it's place in the world.". One of the little girls asks a question "Yet,
if that is true, then how comes I sometimes hear thunder when there is
no lightning?". Gert replies "On those rare occasions, Thunder is racing
off in pursuit of bringing evil to bay someplace else in the world.". The
other child pipes up "What about the rose ?? Did the knight pluck it from
the ground?". Gert shakes his head from side to side while saying "Nay
lass, the legend states that the rose still grows somewhere in Falcon Bog
to this day. No one has ever found it, and probably never will. Falcon
Bog is large and one can get lost in there for years on end till they find
their way out again.". The father hustles them off their bedrolls for sleep
to take them.
The unseen furry observer, hidden within the bushes, rolls his eyes towards the cubs' mother. A few tears leaves tracks down her cheeks from hearing the tale. He speaks in nothing more than a whisper "Aye human, consider yourself lucky. For canines can not shed tears of sorrow and right now this one wishes he could shed a river full of them.".
After awhile, the fire has burned down and the camp has grown silent. The furry one slowly stands up and slips back into the woods to hunt while they sleep the night away. A sound of thunder echoes above the tree tops. He hears a small voice mumble from behind him "Get it Thunder.". He glances skyward and whispers "Aye, get it Thunder.". Into the woods he passes and is gone hunting for the night.
(When one dedicates themselves to good, they get a great reward when knocking on death's door)