Last Time On… Episode Two
When they reached Goldrun, the heroes were sunburned, sweating, and nearly sunstroked. They were exhausted. What of their legendary endurance?
Goldrun was worse than they had feared. The entire city was gone, save for a few crumbled stone foundations, the town hall, and a large stone temple to Correllon. The town hall and temple still stood due to their fine dwarven construction, but all of the wooden doors and glass windows had long ago eroded away.
The heroes entered the temple, which gave blessed shade from the sun. Sand and dust was thick on the floor. Orra and Gaebriel brushed clear a series of religious symbols that were hastily carved into the stone altar: “Why have you cursed us? Our souls are restless.”
As if to prove their restlessness, a small army of dusty, cracked skeletons rattled and shook and crawled through every open window of the temple. The heroes were surrounded and outnumbered. In the ensuing battle, Orra and Charley were nearly burned to death by a skeleton engulfed in flame. The heroes fought with arms and legs that now seemed virgin to battle.
The heroes survived, wounded, and they knew how far they had fallen.
Humbled, they entered the town hall with trepidation. Their caution was well placed, for a sand-and-rock colored visejaw crocodile lurked in the basement. The beast clamped it’s jaws around Orra’s thick legplates, crushing him and dragging him into the rubble. Charley responded with instinct, jumping down after them, spinning a blast of arcane magic with her dirty harp and talented tongue. Her song caused the crocodile to writhe in panic, and Rosey, feeling weakened but still on top of his game, jumped into the sky with a flourish, plunging his dagger deep into the crocodile’s scaley heart.
In the ruins of the basement, the heroes uncovered a magical cloak and a handwritten note, preserved for ages underneath a fallen stone slab. The ominous note read, “The sky is still dark, and now the air is thick with the ash of our smoldering crop. Marsi didn’t surive, and now Tira is sick with a dragon’s cough…”
Gristol was the oldest dwarf (and therefore the oldest resident) of Goldrun – the village of Goldrun, not the city. The city hadn’t stood within his lifetime. The village was tiny in comparison, only one hundred people, cramped along the bank of the stream that used to be the mighty Goldrun River. The village had a smattering of trees, livestock, and tenacious gardens. They were meager sources of food, but it was all Gristol knew.
Gristol was surprised, cautious, and then excited when the visitors arrived. He had never seen a dragon-man or anything remotely similar to the grey-purple skinned man before. They were kind, and had proven their goodness when the one named Rostam Rose presented a goblin head (the vile creatures!), so Gristol shared the village’s shade and water.
The visitors were fit and well-fed. They brought their own food, and bought some of his village’s dried fruits and nuts with gold coins. They had hearty appetites; he wondered how they found enough food to eat as much as they did.
They were also very inquisitive. Their questions surprised Gristol. The pretty half-human woman asked the most, inquiring about the world and history and people he’d never heard of before. Gristol answered the best he could. He felt ignorant. His ancestors had told him that the fire came and the skies darkened about three hundred years ago. Some said they were cursed, others that a god had fallen to the earth.
He didn’t care about these myths. The only thing that he knew for sure was that the stream was twice as wide when he was a child and that everything kept dying. More all the time.
When the dragon-man suggested that the elves of Aluar might know more, Gristol quickly agreed with relief. He’d never seen an elf before, but he was sure that they would have answers.
At night, when it was cooler, the woman played music for the village. They hadn’t heard any in such a long time, and certainly none as beautiful as this. She sung of heroes and dragons and a time long past. The villagers danced and laughed. It warmed Gristol’s soul. Earlier, the dragon-man had told him that someday the Order of the Lost Twin would come back to this village, and they would be saved… Gristol didn’t know of this order, but for the first time, he dared to hope.
In the morning, the heroes left for Aluar. They bid Gristol and the village a fond farewell and headed towards the Indigo Pass – a dangerous tunnel underneath the Adelbore Mountains. They, too, had begun to hope. Maybe they’d find more signs of life in the forests of Aluar.