SOMETIME IN FELMONT OF 1005 AC
A cave in the Dymrak Woods
The birds of the Dymrak Forest, scared by a huge beast, quickly fled from the top of the trees.
The gnome and the hins tumbled down on the cave floor, when the young green dragon landed vertically through the hidden funnel, letting go the net, uncaring for the safety of the “snacks.” Two other dragons were present, another young of about the same size – 25 feet from head to tail – and a huge one – well over 40 feet long.
Glimreen could only stare, powerless, the huge reptiles speaking in their draconic tongue and see, with horror, the bigger green dragon catching the screaming hins with satisfaction and eat them in a gulp – And now it’s my turn … by Garl, let’s make it quick …
“Aaaah, delicious!” – the big green monster said in Dwarvish, with thunderous voice, looking with malevolence to the cowering gnome – “But not you, AH AH AH.”
But the joke was wasted on Glimreen, the big dragon looked angrily to him, shouting in several languages, to which the scared gnome didn’t dare to answer. The fetid chlorine breath of the dragons, screaming the older, laughing the youngsters, remembered him almost fondly of the smell around Matazumi. In the end he understood – “Are you deaf or only blindly stupid?” – so strange a scream in the gentle elven tongue.
“Wha … no, your … your Dragonship, I do not know Dwarvish.”
“A gnome, not knowing his cousins’ tongue” – a look of suspicion in terribly round yellow eyes.
“I am quite young, your Excellency, my education is far from complete and I come from a small community, no Dwarfs at home, but plenty of elves” – the lie seemed plausible; not even in dire danger Glimreen could speak to these beasts of his flying home.
“Where did you fall from?”
“A prototype of mine, a compact flying machine but a joint broke and I could only fall with my safety device.”
“It’s true” – said the young dragon – “I caught him in flight, attached to a strange … fungus.”
Snorting with derision the big one continued in Elvish – “I am pleased, you did better than your son!” – looking to Glimreen’s kidnapper, full of evil pride, and his other son, barely retaining a murderous rage.
“And yet, you should know better than to bring me a gnome, of all things! Only Dwarves are more disgustingly hard and stringy than gnomes. I will never eat it! But you can play with it as long as you like” – joy and anger switched sides in the two young dragons.
The old serpent looked down with sadistic glee to the gnome trying to be even more inconspicuous, cleaning a broken tooth from halfling meat, with a formidable talon, longer than a human sword.
Even in his fear, Glimreen could not avoid to think, in fascination, how marvelous these cruel beasts were and powerful too! Completely ignored by them, a few goblins lay humbled on the floor, as useless pets, rhythmically moving at the sound of primitive and monotonous chants, not even daring to raise their eyes upon the huge creatures.
They are worshiping them as gods – Glimreen realized, looking to the crates, half-filled of carcasses of various animals and other gifts, a few gold and silver coins and cheap shiny stones. The half-eaten animals were a testimony that gods can, sometimes, be easily pleased, a half-eaten goblin was a testimony that, sometimes, they don’t!
The goblins, clearly powerful members of their clan – chiefs, shamans and wokani – were all painted green, with geometric patterns in the likeness of scaly skin, and bringing totemic staffs, bones inserted in noses and ears, shrunken skulls, furs and other such paraphernalia. A few of them wore complete wolf pelts, including head and, sometimes skull, used in place of a helm.
Really fascinating! Like in the old stories of the Dragon Kings of the North. If only I had my drawing kit now … – the historian in him dispersed a part of his fear, but not for long.
The “daddy” dragon dismissed the goblins with a single gesture and ignored his sons, probably going to sleep, after the good meal, in the far side of the cavern. One of the youngs immediately flew out; the other one took the gnome in the paw and went out as well.
His cave was moist, quite small for a dragon and discomforting for the gnome. The green dragon was really cruel with Glimreen, wounding him and menacing him but, in the end, trusting the story he told him (not so false in fact) of a gnome falling down by accident from one of their flying machines.
In the meantime, Glimreen discovered that he had strange dreams or visions … all for that damn book! Thinking of his past, Glimreen remembered all the strange creatures of Serraine, none as stranger as his master, Chief Librarian Matazumi: he (it?) decided, unexpectedly, to take personally care of Glimreen’s education, instead of punishing him, after he touched that book. After a quiet youth in the library, full of stories of heroes of old, and modern ones like “Captain Topcat – The Story of a Flying Ace” – ah, to be able to enter in the Top Ballista! – Glimreen found a strange book in the library! It was on the desk of Matazumi among the, as yet, unidentified books: the druj was very useful, for its immunity to most magic, especially curses. Glimreen knew he had not the permission to touch such tomes but he was drawn to it: thin, a not so expensive look, without the author but a promising title: Rimes of the Ancient Mariner! Maybe a worthless poetry book or, much better, a book of stories of the sea, with pirates, sea monsters and cities under the sea! The ivory white cover was covered in geometric serigraphs and mystic symbols: if you looked to them with a side-glance, they changed like if there were some slow waves. A slight dizziness and confusion should have been a useful warning sign, but he opened the book nonetheless. A small iron symbol on a thin necklace fell down but he took it up and put it around the neck, while opening the book. He had visions and sensations that he cannot fully remember, ending in pain and dark, a bite on the shoulder and a Darkness spell of Matazumi.
After that day, Matazumi took him as an Assistant, often asking if he was sleeping well or not – actually he was and Matazumi was quite satisfied. Then there was the accident, not a real accident in truth, he thought about it a thousand times, and he was sure Matazumi used the Telekinesis in his magical golden tooth to push him past the border: in addition, there was the very concerning fact that the force field around Serraine, was not there! A very very unlikely occurrence, an impossible coincidence but Matazumi could not have deactivated it: its energy came straight from the Relic, his boss could not even approach the place! And other things had conspired to bring him safely on the ground – well in a dragon’s lair at least – the bumber chute and the Flying potion seemed to have the same scope and he found that the answer of Master Helsing of the Onyx Tower to Matazumi, was not at all that! It was a closed, unsigned letter, with only the drawing of a sail on one side and, on the reverse, the phrase: “To the One many calls Rheddrian, but which answers to the name of Benekander.” Glimreen had no idea who these Rheddrian and Benekander people were and decided not to open the letter for now.
For the rest he always dreamed the same dream, after his fall: he was on a boat directed to the East and wanted to speak with the helmsman, but when he turned to speak to him or her, he always woke up feeling a strange tingling in the hands. He didn’t even see the helmsman, Glimreen only knew he was there, but whether an elf, man or another being, he could not really say! After several days, he tried strongly to push the dream and quickly turn: he saw a glimpse of the back of the helmsman and woke up in pain, his hands on fire, a violet fire-like haze cackling with lightning. Instinctively he pointed the hands to the wall, which was scorched and scratched: in time, he discovered that he could do it many times and the source of the power was very far, inside of his mind.
For a while, he didn’t sleep at all but soon the old dream came back, stronger and with greater details: Glimreen was able to sense the salt in the air, the cries of the seagulls were very clear and he was able, finally, to turn his head. In front of him the helmsman turned as well: it was a young man, a tall and lean sailor, with garish clothes. His hair were raven-black and his eyes, but they sparkled in the sun like his teeth: he was warmly smiling, as if sincerely happy (“But is he? And he seems not old enough to be the Ancient Mariner …”) and his demeanor was relaxed: he was alone, apparently he didn’t need help to steer the ship. His skin was tanned like a native of the Emirates of Ylaruam, at least from what Glimreen read in the Great Library of Serraine. He wore no armor but had a mirror-polished steel scimitar at his side and an amazing silk scarf, decorated in ever-changing swirls of rainbow colors. The young human said: “I am the Wanderer, young one, but I will not travel for a while: I am going east to my city” – indicating where the ship was still going – “and you will find me there, if you need me. But not in while, your adventure has only just started!” The Ylari mariner didn’t wait for the questions of Glimreen but screamed to the skies, parroting the seagulls, who happily answered: Glimreen’s eyelids felt like lead and he sank deep into sleep, so deep in fact, that he suddenly jumped up, fully awake on the other side of the dream … He didn’t dream the human sailor and his ship anymore, though sometimes he had the impression to dream the sea and to feel the seagull’s screams.
His powers grew quickly and he started to be able to create small flames and a magical protective field around his body. The dragon perceived the magic inside the gnome but could not ascertain its origin and, in the end, he considered the gnome only a curious oddity. Glimreen had to serve every dragon’s whim and amuse him, like a jester, with stories of faraway places and time, display of simple magic, small inventions and, sometimes, he had to prepare a show for all the three dragons: in these occasions, he tried to gather info about the older dragon but could not find anything useful.
At least for a long time, when …
 The Wanderer … Glimreen thought a lot about this (sur)name but he cannot remember anything specific about it: for sure this entity/spirit/creature do not appear in Gnome history and Glimreen do not know enough of the sea and it’s legends! The Gnome, in the following months, think about him (it?) only as The Mariner, without even knowing, but suspecting, that he is the writer of the Rimes of the Ancient Mariner book