Dragon Quest

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 12/28/2012
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Preface

This is a story my brother and I wrote while stuck in traffic on our way to California. We would trade off each sentence, thus confounding each other's expectations at every turn. It was often funny for us, but it may not be the case for you (the reader). Also, there is a shocking lack of dragons.

Chapter One: The Desert's Wrath.

It will be the worst of times, it will be the best of times. Or so I am told. The winter is coming about fast. That means trouble. But spring will surely follow. Or so I am told.

Dralin stood looking out over the cold desert. "Wow," he said "that sure looks bleak." He started down the mountain side towards the barren valley below. As he worked his way down he suddenly noticed a cave whose opening had been hidden from his view before. Seeking shelter from the cold, he decided to investigate the cave. As he cautiously entered, he lit his torch and was amazed to see how large the cave was. The cave was an astounding three feet deep. Most amazing was the fact that it wasn't a cave at all, but rather a hole. Seeing no treasure, and the cave/hole providing no shelter, Dralin turned and continued down towards the valley. After several minutes of walking, Dralin was startled to hear voices in the distance. He paused to try to ascertain their origin and upon reflection headed to his right--towards the source of the noise. He soon stumbled upon the owners of the voices. Before him, he saw a small caravan; a lone wagon, several horses, and a small party of men and women huddled around a meager campfire. He stood watching for a few minutes while the group of travelers remained unaware of his presence. Suddenly a loud crack filled the night air and Dralin saw rather than felt himself falling to the ground. The next thing he was aware of was the unpleasant feeling of a wet, scratchy thing moving across his face. He opened his eyes and saw perhaps the plainest woman he had ever seen scrubbing his face with a damp piece of steel wool. It caused quite a bit of pain but in an oddly pleasurable way. "What are you doing out here," said the plain woman in perhaps the plainest manner possible. Dralin paused, wondering if he could share the secret of his journey with this strange woman. "Just heading from one place to another," he said nonchalantly. "You seem awfully well-equipped for a random pleasure stroll through the desert," the woman said, all the while continuing her painful stroking of his face. While the scrubbing felt good, Dralin became aware of blood running down his face and gently pushed the woman's hand away. The woman, looking painfully surprised, said "maybe you aren't the one we thought you were," and quickly walked away. I am who you think I am, he thought to himself, but maybe I can't trust you with information. Dralin sat up, feeling a sharp pain in his head as he did so. Feeling behind his head, he felt a large metal object protruding from the base of his skull. "Not again," Dralin said despondently. Leaping to his feet he ran after the plain woman in search of an explanation. She turned as he approached and he was surprised to see tears in her eyes. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded, gesturing to the device protruding from his head. "I'll tell you why that is there once you tell me what brings you to this part of the world," she said impatiently. Making a gut decision, he told her "I am searching for the Kaibaru." At these words she froze, dropping the bloody steel wool to the ground. She called out to a man at the campfire and beckoned him to come over. "Is it who we thought it was?" he said anxiously. "He seeks the Kaibaru," she told him with knowing eyes. "That's impossible!" snarled the man and he quickly walked up to Dralin and looked closely at the back of his head. The device seemed to pulsate as if alive.

Chapter Two: How Plain Was She Really?

I am told lots of things. But one thing I know is my own heart. It has four chambers and beats like a drum. My heart is a critical component of survival.

"Who are you people?" Dralin asked, still unsure if he was dealing with friends or foes. "We are searching for the one who will lead us to freedom," replied the apparent leader of the group. "Can you start by at least telling me your names?" said Dralin. "My name is Aaron and the plain girl is far too plain to have a name but you may call her Helper." Dralin searched his memory and tried to remember all of the plain women he had ever seen. In the pale light of the evening, with the flickering of the campfire, Helper's plainness shone out more than any other woman he had ever known. If she was yogurt she truly would have no flavor. "And what is your name?" inquired Aaron. "I am called Dralin and I come from a place you have only heard of in legend," Dralin quietly replied. Suddenly the device throbbed in Dralin's head and he fell to his knees in pain. "Where did you get this device!" Dralin yelled in agony, "are you involved with those who you placed it in me before?" "It was not us," said Aaron, "we heard you fall to the ground near our campsite and when we found you it was there." "You looked to be in so much pain, that I thought the best thing I could do was divert your attention to pain in another place," said Helper hopefully. "That method is the only way I've found to temporarily relieve the pain of the device," said Dralin. "There comes a point, however, at which the new pain outgrows the old and that is when I pushed your hand aside." Helper blushed in the only way a plain girl could, blandly. "I'm sorry I said I could tell you where the device in your head came from," she said, "but I had to know if you were the one we have been waiting for." "Please join us for supper," said Aaron as he turned to head back towards the campfire. Dralin gratefully accepted the offer, knowing that it would be days before they would be able to properly remove the device. After the meal the camp quieted down and everyone tried to sleep. Dralin lay on his side with his eyes open, wondering about the many confusing things that had happened that day.

Chapter Three: The Wandering Star

It has been said that man is more akin to a goat than any other animal that walks on four legs. The person who said that was confused. Man is more like a desert frog: out of place, out of fortune, and out of water. When I see a frog it is rare that I eat it. When I see a goat I run away screaming.

As he gazed up at the stars he noticed something unusual. Each night the stars took their place in the sky and stayed there, but on this night one star kept looking for a place to rest. It would move over to a particular constellation and seemingly wait until it would suddenly head in a different direction. This was a bad omen. The last time such a sign was seen in the heavens it marked the beginning of a seven-year war. Suddenly Dralin heard something come from the darkness outside of the camp. He very slowly lifted his head and tried to focus his eyes in the direction from which he heard the sound. Crack! Dralin heard the sentry cry out as he fell to the ground. It appeared that his previous attackers had returned to finish their business. Dralin came to his feet, lit his torch, and hoisted his weapon. As soon as he had lifted his sword he heard the sound of several people running away with great haste. He raced into the night, intent on pursuing them. After just a few steps his foot caught a jutting rock, causing him to fall heavily to the ground. The jolt knocked the sword from his hand and before he could retrieve it heavy hands fell on him and began to drag him away. Dralin yelled out as loud as he could, hoping to wake the others in the camp. Struggling for life he managed to free one of his hands and struck one of his assailants. He was surprised when the gasp of pain he heard had a woman's voice. Disoriented from his fall, he hadn't realized that Aaron and Helper were the ones dragging him away. He turned his head back towards the camp and saw that everything except his own sleeping mat was gone. The star truly was a bad omen. He slowly passed into unconsciousness as he felt the rhythmic beat of his feet hitting the stones on the ground.

Chapter Four: Kaibaru

I once told a woman a lie. She believed every word of it. It was not unlike throwing a stone into a river. The ripples of the lie hit the shore and then disappeared. Or did they?

Dralin awoke with the sun overhead. He was surprised at how warm he felt. "Where are we?" he asked his two travelling companions. "If you want to live, don't say another word," Helper said plainly. Looking around Dralin saw that they were near the mouth of a great cavern-even greater than the cave he had found on the mountain the previous day. The terrain was noticeably different than the cold desert landscape he had been in the night before. And yet he took no notice of it. Aaron walked over to Dralin and kicked him softly in the side, saying "I think that we might have something that you have been looking for." Aaron gestured towards the cavern's entrance. "You will find what you seek in there." Dralin, afraid to speak lest he lose his life, tried to get up but noticed that he was tied up around his ankles and wrists. "You must find your own way," said the plain-looking Helper, "we cannot take you any further." Aaron and Helper turned towards the nearby grove of trees and walked into them. Dralin found the knife tucked in his boot and begrudgingly began to cut himself free. He was not sure if he really wanted to see what was in that cave. The bands fell loose as he finally was able to stand up and he slowly made his way to the cavern's entrance. He stopped, looking back at the trees and then again to the foreboding entrance of the cavern. With a final resolve he traversed the remaining steps and stood in awe at the entrance of the cave. Taking a deep breath he lit his trusty torch and plunged into the darkness which lay ahead of him. Hours passed-he felt like he had been walking for hours. Going deeper and deeper into the depths of the passageway he began to lose all sense of space or time. Without warning his torch flickered and died. Dralin had not come this far just to turn back. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness he saw a very faint light to his left which he would not have seen had his torch remained lit. With resolve he started walking towards the light, feeling along the sides of the cave with his hands. The closer he came the brighter the light was. It was much farther than he originally had calculated but after about twenty minutes he knew he was getting close. Finally he reached the source of the light; it shone brightly atop a lone pedestal in the center of a small chamber. There it was, the object for which he had searched for the last thirteen years. Gingerly he lifted it in his hand, its warmth and light flowed through his whole body. His joy was suddenly cut short as the device in his head activated and he suddenly died.

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