Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dragonborn and Bred

Ghanash seated himself in a warm corner of the inn – away from the crowds but close to the fire. Though his brown-bronze scales were thick, they did little to protect his cool blood from the elements and it seemed, to him at least, to be uncharacteristically cold for the time of year. He looked around the room. It was dirty, noisy, and smoky but had been the only lodgings he could find – and even then only after he agreed to pay double the usual asking price.

He had encountered anti-Dragonborn sentiment before, of course, but nothing like here in Highmarsh. No-one would trade with him in the market square, and only this morning an insolent farmer had called his proud heritage into question. That soon changed, of course, once Ghanash had chastised him with a gentle tap of the flat of his battle axe. Ghanash chuckled merrily as he recalled how the little man had dropped to his knees in apology.

More unnerving, however, was the continual feeling that he was being watched. Every time he turned around though – no matter how quickly or how subtly – there was no-one to be seen.

As Ghanash settled in to his seat, the flames from hearth reflected in his red eyes and he cast his mind back to the events that had led to his travelling alone. His grandfather had been one of the first Dragonborn to arrive in this land. He had been so heroic during the annexing of Febril that he was able to raise his own tribe to set out in exploration of the new country. When he died gloriously in battle, Ghanash’s own father, had deservedly become the tribal chief. He had been a strong and just leader until – too young – he was taken ill. It soon became apparent that no natural remedy would work and the tribe’s shaman admitted defeat. Ghanash’s father died a prolonged, painful, and undignified death. It was an insult for such a strong and proud leader to waste away in such a fashion.

While an adult by Dragonborn standards Ghanash was deemed too young to become a tribal leader, and despite the elder council’s best efforts the clan dissolved without a figure-head to lead them. Preferring not to join any of the smaller groups who intended to sell themselves as mercenaries, Ghanash decided to strike out on his own and forge his own clan. The further he wandered from his old tribal grounds, the more resistance he had met. He had met no other Dragonborn and admitted to himself that he was becoming somewhat lonely. Perhaps he should not have held such high ideals. Perhaps he should have just accepted his lot and become a mercenary.

Suddenly a voice called out “Your kind aren’t welcome ‘round ‘ere, lizard lips!” Ghanash looked up to see a human approaching him, and sighed. Would he have to defend his race’s honour twice in one day? So be it. “I suggest, human, that you hold your tongue. If you wish to fight, however, my axe and I shall meet you outside.” Ghanash stood up and walked unopposed towards the door. Often the threat of combat had been enough to silence his critics, but Ghanash was surprised to see this one following him onto the street!

As soon as he was out of the door, the human cried “Get back to the wilds, scale face!” and Ghanash reacted only just in time to halt the man’s scimitar with the shaft of his axe. He fluidly turned the block into a counter, but the human sprang out of the way. Soon a crowd formed around the pair – hurling insults at the Dragonborn but shying away as the fight edged closer to them. The struggle continued well into sundown but neither combatant could gain the upper hand. The human’s attacks were blocked or clanged harmlessly off of Ghanash’s chainmail, while Ghanash’s own blows were deftly avoided or turned by the human.

Eventually, both began to tire. Summoning up his reserves, Ghanash pushed the other man back.

“Enough. We are equally matched.”

“Huh. You fight well for a dinosaur” the man conceded begrudgingly.

“And you for a shaven mon-keigh!” Ghanash laughed and amicably slapped man’s back so hard that he staggered. “We have both worked up an enormous thirst, I am sure. Come - let us quench it together.”

While the crowd dispersed – robbed of its entertainment – the two foes turned to face the bar. As they did so , a figure stepped silently out of the shadows…

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