Chapter 38:

38

Balancing the Scales: The Sage Hero's Story


Roarke knocks on the flimsy wooden door of the main house, it opens and a stocky woman grabs Roarke and wraps him in a hug. She then peers over his shoulder and sees everyone, a busty naga, a skinny kobold, and a blue dragon, and the town smith, all patiently waiting behind him. Kaz hops off of Saphana's back and goes up to introduce himself. "Hello Ma'am, I am Kaz. Roarke has stayed with us these last few years. We were hoping you'd allow us to stay for a while." Kaz asks politely. The woman's eyes narrow, "Tis fine, but the big blue one sleeps in the barn." She replies. "This is Tasi, Lucia, and Saphana, my wives. I'm sure you know Mister Ferron." Kaz says as he introduces the girls. The woman lets them in, Saphana waits outside and pokes her head in through the window. The woman sits down, "Nice to meet ya ladies, name's Freida. I'm Roarke's Ma, make yourselves at home. His Pa is out back doing chores. Why don't ye' go lend him a hand when you're done settling in?" She suggests. Bookmark here

Kaz and the rest set their things down in the guest room and head outside. Lucia stays inside with Frieda, while outside Tasi helps Ferron set up his forge equipment. Kaz follows Roarke to go and find his father, they come across him chopping wood further in the brush. Just as Roarke was about to introduce Kaz a wicked looking black creature approaches from behind Roarke' dad. Before either Kaz or Roarke could so much as draw their blades, all three were knocked on their rears by a torrential gust from above. A green blur swooped down like a falcon at great speeds directly impacting the beast sending it flying into a nearby tree with a loud crack. The creature's back struck the trunk of the tree shaking several branches loose, as Kaz got a closer look he realized it was none other than Zen who had come to assist. He cautiously walks up to the motionless demon and swiftly jabs his front claws into the cur's chest ensuring it won't rise again. He turns to Kaz, Roarke and his father, "I apologize for having to meet up with you like this. I smelled it coming down the mountain and got here just in time." Zen says.Bookmark here

 Roarke's father looks absolutely lost, they all walk back to the house and Kaz drags the body of the demon back to show the others. They all introduce themselves on the wall back, "Many thanks big guy, you swooping in to take care of that nasty critter. The name's Richard, Call me Rick. Now, I reckon you're one of them dragons my boy's been writing to us about?" Richard asks as he opens the gate to their field. Zen nods and walks over the fence to see Saphana. Everyone meets Ferron and Tasi, who have everything set up and ready to go already. Lucia comes out as well, "Kaz, what is that?" She gasps as she points at the body of the demon he'd dragged back with him. Kaz drops it in the dirt, "I figured we all should get a good look at what we're going to be fighting, so I brought it back with me to study." He explains. Lucia averts her gaze and heads back inside. Zen lies down on his stomach, "You should know Kaz, this one is merely a scout. If it was anything else I couldn't have done it in so easily. The others are much larger, and several times smarter." Zen goes on to educate the group on demons.Bookmark here

Later that night Salamat returns with a group of twenty-three dragons, all holding a large sack of treasures all made of silver mithril. They pile it up next to the forge and head back out into the hills to find a suitable place to dig in. Salamat pokes his head in the house through the window and introduces himself as well. Everyone had already eaten, but she had made too much extra for the guests. She threw the leftovers into a cloth and wrapped them up, she went outside and unwrapped the food in front of the large drake, "My boy hasn't caused your people any trouble, has he?" She asks Salamat. He shakes his head, "Not at all ma'am, Roarke has been a tremendous help. He has become one of the few humans I know I can always trust." He replies as he carefully lowers his head to lap up some of the food. Frieda pats the drake's scaly snout "I'm glad." She says as she walks back inside to go to sleep. Bookmark here

Everyone is awoken to the smell of breakfast wafting through the small cottage. Kaz had slept on the floor in Roarke's old room with him, Lucia and Tasi slept in the guest room, while Ferron bunked on the couch in the living room. Tasi looked especially disheveled, the bed she slept in wasn't quite big enough for a fifteen or so foot naga. As they all found a spot to sit down, Lucia brought a plate of eggs and sausage to everyone. Freida had just woken up and wondered what the smell was, she was shocked to find Lucia had made breakfast, "What a treat, I don't have to cook this morning!" She cries gleefully. "Rick, wake up! Miss Lucia made us breakfast!" She turned back and yelled at her sleeping husband. As they all ate Frieda and Rick were startled when Saphana poked her head through the window to say good morning. They both apologize, "Sorry Miss Saphana, We aren't quite used to having such large guests here in our wee home." Frieda laughs as she walks over and rubs her snout. Saphana smiles, "Not all at Ma'am, thank you for having us." Saphana replies, "Don't worry about my meal, Father caught a deer for me." She says.Bookmark here

After breakfast Ferron straps his leather apron on and slips on his thick hide gloves, "You ready for round two Tasi? Miss Lucia, I could also use someone with your finesse for something today." Ferron asks as he stretches his arms preparing for a long day of work. Lucia nods and follows Tasi and Ferron out to the corner of the yard where the forge was set up the day before. Ferron began by filling the forge with fuel, mostly logs and whatever charcoal he had brought with him. He then handed Lucia a rolled up measuring tape and a clipboard, “Could you go get the claw measurements of the dragons at their camp up the mountain?” He requested. Lucia rolled up her sleeves and took the tape from Ferron and headed up the mountain to find the dragon’s camp. She walked for a few minutes before she caught a whiff of ash wafting around her. Following her nose it wasn’t long before she found them, they were all gathered around a bonfire tearing into large, beefy animals she’d never seen before. A smaller grey drake noticed her approaching and called out to her in English as best he could, “Lucia come. Join us!” he shouted, struggling to speak properly. Lucia didn’t know any of their names, but she had seen a few of them spectating Kaz’s training in the yard back at their manor in Rath. She was nervous as she passed by all the massive dragons, they all greeted her in broken English as she walked by. Lucia sat on a small stump beside the grey drake, “H-Hello, I’m supposed to measure your claws.” She shuddered as she spoke. Bookmark here

The grey drake rose up and extended his foreleg in front of her, Lucia looked up at him and saw his smiling face. This made her a bit more relaxed, “Name is Garos.” It told Lucia, realizing she forgot a writing utensil, she stood up quickly and grabbed a small charred twig from the fire and sat back down to measure Garos’ claws. Lucia had never really gotten so close to a dragon before, despite living with Saphana this whole time. She was amazed by the beauty of the scales that covered his body, and the smooth, leathery underside of his foot was rough when you rubbed one way, but smooth going the other. She jotted down the measurements with the charcoal end of her twig and thanked Garos. Garos stood up, “Kaz lucky, has such a kind mate.” Garos told her, Lucia blushed and Garos went to get the next dragon for their turn. Nearly an hour or so later Lucia had finished measuring all the dragon’s claws, she bowed and said her goodbyes as she began trekking back down to Roarke’s cottage.Bookmark here

Upon arrival she opened the gate and handed Ferron the clipboard. Him and Tasi immediately got to work after dividing up the names between themselves. Kaz and Roarke were having a mock fight with Salamat, they had wrapped their new mithril weapons in cloth so they could practice without holding back or hurting each other. Kaz opened up with a horizontal slash across Salamat’s chest, but he backstepped just before it connected. He was much more agile than you’d imagine for someone his size, Roarke leaped forward with his mithril spear and unleashed a flurry of speedy thrusts at his right side while Kaz repositions himself on the left of Salamat. Salamat side steps to the left knocking Kaz onto his behind with a well timed swipe of his massive wing. Roarke’s jabs fail to connect, however his feet glow bright green and he propels himself forward a few more steps and lets fly a last straight jab that catches Salamat off guard, striking him square in his side. Salamat was surprised, “Ho, wind magic?” He mutters. Kaz was just as shocked as Salamat, the drake complimented Roarke on his hit and suggested they take a break for lunch. Bookmark here

Saphana was helping Ferron and Tasi melt down the mithril that Salamat and the other dragons had brought to begin forging weapons that fit over the claws of dragons to make them more effective against the larger demons Zen had mentioned. Ferron and Tasi just grabbed their food and returned to their seats at the forge and continued working on the claws, after they finished their meals Ferron brought their plates inside. He then went out and found Salamat in front of the forge talking with Tasi.Bookmark here

"Hey, Mister Salamat! Stand still for a minute." Ferron called out as he grabbed his measuring tape. He went on to measure out the dimensions of Salamat's head and horns, he thanked the drake and returned to his spot yet again. He began hammering a large sheet of mithril flat and shaping it according to the numbers he had just taken. A few rigorous hours of hammering and chiseling later Ferron calls Salamat over again, "Lower your head for a second." Ferron says. Salamat does just that and Ferron slips a fierce looking mithril plate over his head and horns. "A perfect fit!" Ferron cheers. Salamat walked to the nearby well to see his reflection in the water, he was pleasantly surprised with the helmet. He thanks the smith and continues what he was doing before.Bookmark here

Tasi and Ferron worked late into the day on finishing the weapons for the dragons hammering away. When Tasi finished her list she got up and stretched out her stiff back and then turned around to check where Ferron was on his work. He was just finishing up the last one, as he fits the leather straps on the claws and finishes the last set he gets up and bends backward, popping his back. Tasi went to find Saphana while Ferron went to use the outhouse, Saphana was found snoozing in a pile of hay outside the barn, "Saphana, help me carry the claws up to the dragons please." Tasi requested as she gently shook the slumbering dragon. Saphana opens her eyes, "My, you're being awfully polite to me this evening. Very well, load them up and I'll help you deliver them." She replied as she stood up and shook the hay off of herself. Ferron returned from the outhouse to find Tasi placing the sets of claws in a burlap sack, he helped her bag up the last few. "Heya Tasi, thanks for working with me. If you're ever in need of a job, I've always got an open position at my forge in Vance." He thanks her and gives her a thumbs up. Tasi gives Ferron a hug, "I appreciate the offer, I'll keep it in mind. I'm off to get these to the dragons with Saphana. Tell Kaz we'll be back in a bit." Tasi says to Ferron as Saphana tucks the heavy sack under her wing. Bookmark here

The two scaly ladies ascend the side of the mountain and find the dragons digging in for the night. Saphana sets the bag down and Tasi loosens the drawstring and pulls out the first pair, she reads the small scrap of paper tied onto the leather straps, "Garos, I have your weapon ready!" She calls out. The grey drake comes shuffling out the shallow hole he dug to sleep in and comes up with Tasi. "Weapon ready for Garos?" He still struggles with his words, but Tasi was able to understand. She asks him to lift one foot at a time as she tears the name label off and slips the claw on each of his front feet and tightens the straps. "Alright, you're good to go!" Tasi announces and pats his bulky upper foreleg. Tasi and Saphana went and called out the names of each dragon and put their claws on. By the time they finished the sun had already gone down, Tasi was absolutely beat. She had never done so much physical labor in one day, "Saph, I think I'll just sleep up here, I'm too tired to make it back." Tasi groans as she collapses onto the ground. Saphana shakes her head, "Just this once." She mumbles as she shovels the exhausted naga onto her back with her muzzle. She ferried Tasi back to the cottage, her long tail was dragged behind her on the ground, but she was too tired to care. They arrived and Saphana shook Tasi off of her back and went to the barn to go to sleep in her pile of hay. Tasi slowly slithered in the door quietly and opened the door to Roarke and Kaz's room, she stealthily coiled up around Kaz and fell right asleep with the warmth given off by his body. Bookmark here

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