Those who have heard the mystical tales...

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Second Tale of the Bards: The Dragon of Mille

Mille was a quaint village up the banks of the Bamah River, a two-and-a-half day's journey from the kingdom of Bamah itself. It was Gizmo's former home, and many wanderers found themselves in its inn from time to time. The people there knew of Gizmo, and the great King Carl, who both formerly lived in its borders. However, the townsfolk knew nothing of Gizmo's reappearance in Bamah.
One day, a majestic three-headed dragon, terrible and fierce, and with the wings of a bald bat, flew into Mille and began terrorizing the people. Afraid, Mille called upon army after army of other kingdoms, who battled the dragon heroically, but to no avail. Finally, the people of Mille, in denial and despair, came together and decided to reach out to King Carl. His power and authority great, he immediately responded to the challenge. Turning to his people, Carl himself decreed that the mightiest warriors, save the Knight, join him in battle. The reward would be great: a pardon for generations.
At Dumon's Flat, the Bards readied their latest medley of joyous songs, best fitted for revelry, as opposed to war. Fox, Holden, and Schaff wielded their drumsticks with great force and precision, while Paddy used mallets to carry a tune no other had ever heard. Gizmo's fingers flew across his strings like no falcon above had ever before or since, and Dumon and Badger's reeds sang lighter than any lark. The music was a beautiful sound, pleasing to all who heard.
The Bards finished their lovely piece, when Qabel, deputy of the King Carl, came through with the decree. He announced it to all warriors and nobility; any who could prove their worth in battle could claim it. Freddy the llama was off on his own adventure (another story for another time), so the Bards looked to each other. Gizmo and Schaff, realizing the possibility, readied for war. The other Bards saw their speedy responses and remembered the prize. As Schaff and Gizmo began to leave, the other Bards stopped them. It was then and there that the Bards stood together; each had their own path, but they would never walk alone.
On the eve of the march, the Bards assembled. Fox was joined by his lovely maiden Kat, Badger by her love The Great Scott, a magician from the southernmost Bamah Fort Ni Aps, (which translates from the ancient "higher mountains"), Holden by his darling Haley, and Schaff by his secret princess Claire. These were the names of the Bards' better halves. Dumon and Paddy were already established as being a pair, and were happy in each other's company. Gizmo had yet to pierce the heart of a woman, but that was not his battle yet. His battle, was, however, on the horizon.
The magnificent warriors from Bamah approached Mille. Seeing his hometown, Gizmo was moved. He could not be physically changed, but he felt the motion of fate to his side. He felt half the weight of the world. Looking to Schaff, they met eyes. The sons of Atlas were to be redeemed; their sins forgiven.
The town of Mille welcomed the Baman armies with open arms. They were treated to their finest foods and drinks; everyone had their fill. Paddy told many merry tales, especially those of the moon-bear and the origin of the cosmic numbers. Finally, before all was quiet, Gizmo pulled out his stringed lyre. Plucking an introduction, the melodies and chords he played and sang rose above the crowd in the hall. The Bards joined in, one by one, adding percussive or harmonic detail to the piece Gizmo began. At the end of the song, the hall cheered with applause, and the Bards left to their quarters.
The next morning, the Bards prepared for the grueling day. One woman came up to the Bards and asked Gizmo his name, citing familiarity. Cornered, Gizmo revealed himself. Word spread, but not before two men asked of his voice, again claiming to have known it. Three sparks lit the fuse, and as the procession of Baman heroes, regiment by regiment, left for the dragon's lair, crowds gathered. As the Bards came past, the town of Mille found its heroes. Cheering them on, the Bards' spirits rose, and confidence was their own.
The three-headed dragon was the most fearsome beast any could lay eyes upon. Armies advanced and were driven away by its flaming breath. One unknown hero finally took one head of the beast, while the other two took the man's life. The Bards were almost alone on the field that once numbered 250 men, but their minds ran furiously. Calling all the men to regroup, the Bards circled the dragon and charged the beast. Schaff, Gizmo, and three other Baman men scaled its back, while the remaining twenty-nine men fought its belly; the dragon was distracted from the true intentions of the Bards. The beast burned men alive and beat them back with its wings and great legs. Schaff and Gizmo were shaken, but of the five who began the ascension up the beast, they remained. The beast lost toes, scales, and blood, but it was winning the skirmish. Finally, Gizmo and Schaff reached the beast's neck, and as the Baman armies stopped to watch, the two toppled the beast's heads with single blows. As the beast fell, Schaff and Gizmo were thrown to the ground. Mostly unharmed, the Bards came together. Schaff and Gizmo led the return to camp. The many dead bodies were buried outside Mille, with highest honors to the first beheader. The Bards were celebrated for their tactical skills, as King Carl made good on his promise. The Knight also came, to meet Bamah's victors, and so when King Carl moved to officially pardon Gizmo and Schaff, the two fathers finally recognized their sons. The joy of the occasion drowned whatever rage Carl had for Schaff, so the King requested the Bards' joining him in residence at his castle Fole.
The Bards who were not Dumon and Paddy considered their friends' Flat. Dumon and Paddy, gracious toward the group chemistry that the Bards had officially enacted, declined the King's offer. The King, being the powerful ruler he was, still offered them solitude in his castle.