The Dune Wars Lesser Tales

After a long delay, one of the Dune Wars Lesser Tales will soon be coming out as an ebook on Amazon. While parts of this work have previously found their way to this platform, the complete story will tie together loose ends and hopefully make for some enjoyable reading.

Though thought to have been extinct for hundreds of years, reports of a dragon have been circulating in a remote and secretive kingdom. Heroes from the great kingdoms of the age have tried and failed to battle the beast. Now an unlikely champion has emerged. He is the Dragon Hunter.


Padre

Mystic Encounter

Campfire, Ash, Wood Ash, Grilling, Firewood, Hot
Pixabay

The pair entered through glade into a clearing that was obscured by fog. At the centre there was a fire, the source of the the light that had led them that way. Seated at the fireside was a crone, tending the flames and occasionally tossing pinches of some herb into a boiling pot.

“Welcome Jan. Oh, and Oskar too,” she said with a gravelly voice.

The brothers stared at each other and then back to the mystic figure before them.

“Are you surprised that I know your names? Why, I have known who you were since you were lads. Your identity is no secret to me. In fact, I have been waiting for you. You certainly have taken your time to arrive,” she said with a low cackle.

“How . . .. Who?” Oskar stammered.

“That’s no interesting tale,” the crone responded. “Let us just say I knew your mother, and her mother as well.”

“And have we met you before? I am sorry, but I don’t recognise you,” Jan said.

“You have indeed, but you were but babes.”

“And you say you have been waiting for us?” Oskar asked.

“Why yes, for days now.” You really were rather foolish with that chest, if you you don’t mind me saying. It is a greedy guts, that one. But good to see you didn’t waste too much time on trying to get your coins back.”

“How . . .?” Jan began.

“It’s all in the pot, Lad. It’s all in the pot,” she said throwing another pinch into the bubbles. “Now, you are running late my dears, so you can’t dally. You need to go north to Ringstead, and look beneath the bridge. You will know what to do then,” she said emotionlessly.

“North?” Jan repeated with a puzzled tone. “We have just come from the north.”

“North,” the crone said again, and threw a handful of red powder into her pot. Suddenly their was a bust of steam, and then the clearing was bathed in sunlight and all that remained of the crone and her fire was a cold ring of ash.”

“North?” Oskar asked.

“North,” Jan said with a resigned tone.


Padre

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge: Use fire, mystic, and identity in prose or poetry

The Chest

brown wooden box
Jouwen Wang

It couldn’t really be called light.  It was more of a glow of energy, but its presence was real.  Oskar gestured to Jan to sweep around the chest, and the two would approach it from opposite sides at the same time. 

“On three,” Oskar mouthed, a command Jan acknowledged with nod.

At the count of three, Jan jerked the chest open from behind while Oskar steadied an arrow should something untoward emerge from the chest.

Nothing – there was nothing in the chest.  Its interior was dark and vacuous, yet the exterior of container continued to glow.

“What do you think?”  Jan asked.

“I’m not sure,” Oskar responded.  “It looks empty.”

Jan rifled through a pouch on his belt and withdrew a silver coin and tossed it into the chest.  It rolled around the bottom of the chest and came to a stop and fell over.  Suddenly a second silver coin appeared next to it.

“Hmm, try again,” Oskar instructed.

Jan dropped in a copper coin, and brass token.  These behaved much as the silver coin and again multiplied.

“I think we are on to something,” Oskar said with excitement in his voice.  “Throw in your gold.”

As Jan loosened his coin pouch from his belt, Oskar did the same.

“On three,” Jan said. “One, two, three.”

Both brothers tossed their pouches into the chest at the same time, and they landed with a heavy thud.

The chest shuddered and then the lid slammed shut.  A couple of seconds later the lid opened only wide enough to expel the brass token and the empty pouches before closing again with a firm click.

Try as they might the siblings could not open the chest. 

As they stood back to consider their options, Jan could swear he could hear the chest chuckling to itself.


Padre

Quest

CCC144

Oskar and Jan stood where the pathway dead-ended and opened the scroll. Jan began to translate the ancient text aloud:

“Brave Adventurer, 

If you are at this point, it must be the 12th of August.  Leave the woodland and pass through the screen of tall grass and enter the field beyond.  At the centre of the field you will find a standing stone.  At precisely 2PM walk to the end of the stone’s shadow and dig two metres down.  You will find a clay jar which contains a key.  On the opposite side of the field you will find three gates.  Open the lefthand gate with the key and you will find a stone chest.  Open this chest and remove a further key from it.  Return to the stone and at 3:30PM dig at the limit of its shadow.  There you will find a chest, open it with the key and all will be revealed. 

Good luck, Adventurer.”

The pair followed the instructions, and in the chest they found a note:

“Return all to the way you found it, and place your quest scroll under a table at the nearest inn.  Well done brave Adventurer.  You will receive your reward from the barman.”

The pair again followed the instructions, and at the inn they received a voucher for 10% off their next quest.  The fantasy world isn’t what it used to be.


Padre

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #144

 

Serpent (Part One): Dragon Hunter Tales

Pliosaurus, Dinosaur, Sea Monster, Reptile, Dino
Pixabay

It had started much like any other day. Rolan loaded the nets on the boat and waited, as usual, for his brother to arrive at the boat. The sea was calm and the morning warm, and there was just a hint of feathery cloud as the sun began to ting the horizon.

“Get a move on,” Rolan bellowed at Kiffer as the latter appeared on the jetty still pulling his jerkin on.

“Sorry,” Kiffer said as a matter of course. “Lily slowed me up.”

Rolan knew that it was probably true as Kiffer was still a newlywed, but scolded his brother nonetheless. “Let her hold you up on your own time, those fish won’t wait all day for us.”

Soon the pair had cast off and were making good time to their usual fishing ground.

When they arrived they set their nets and opened the breakfast basket. Winnie, Rolan’s wife had made-up some biscuits and boiled eggs for them, and their was a bit of a surprise that there was cold mutton from the night before’s dinner in the basket as well.

“Good omen, I’ll tell you,” Rolan said as he placed a slice of meat on a biscuit.

“Well, good eating anyway,” Kiffer said dropping some shell overboard and popping an egg into his mouth.

The boat made a sudden jerk, and then settled.

“Net’s snagged,” Rolan said as he got up and began to haul in the guide cable. Kiffer joined him and the net came up easily. There was a decent catch in it, but not enough to have jolted the boat. The catch was dumped into the hold, and the net inspected. No sign of damage was detected, and so it was lowered again.

“Funny,” Kiffer observed.

“Funny?”

“Didn’t you notice that there was no birds?” Kiffer asked.

“Didn’t think anything of it, but is odd,” Rolan said thoughtfully.

As he spoke a huge looming form crossed under the boat causing the boat to lift in its wake.

“What in the spirit’s . . . .” Rolan began only to trail off as a huge head broke the surface.

The apparition gazed at the boat for a moment an then dived. The brothers were knocked to the deck by the force of their net being caught in the beast’s jaws and the dentire boat began to be towed into deeper waters.

It was then that Kiffer had the presence of mind to cut the net cables freeing the boat from its seaward course. The brothers quickly took to the oars and beat a retreat shoreward. After what seemed an eternity, they beached themselves some three miles from their harbour.

“They will never believe a word of this,” Rolan said.

“I’m not too sure of that,” his brother retorted pointing to an eight-foot-long gouge along their larboard and the nearly footlong piece of broken talon embedded in the wood.


Padre

Dragon Scourge ( Part 10 )

Menacing Monstrous Wall Mounted Iridescent Dragon Head Wall Sculpture  Trophy NEW | eBay

In the aftermath of the Dragon scourge, Althonyr’s body was excavated from under the rubble and his head and wings mounted and used to adorn the wall behind the Viceroy’s throne. Soon after, representatives from several magical and alchemical guilds arrived to haggle over the great beast’s bones, nearly compensating the Viceroy for the fee he had paid to Wilfred and his company of Dwarves.

A few people made any comment on the seeming differences from Althonyr’s heart and those in the jars, however.

“Now that mind,” Runny quickly announced, “be on account that they be different species. The whole beast bein’ a Purple Cavecrawler, and the others be Reds.”

“Why yes,” the Viceroy’s chief alchemist piped in, in his own bid to seem authoritative. “Quite different creatures, I assure you,” he said to the assembled gainsayers.

The result, of course, was that the matter was laid to rest by such an “official” declaration.

Later, on the Viceroy’s recommendation Wilfred was knighted, as was Runny, being dubbed Sir Runnyreer Roundbottom. The now Lady Plucky, was thrilled by the honour, though it was all seen as a nonsense to Runny himself.

Wilfred was inundated by offers from cities as far afield as Nordland and the Sultanate to come and reenact the epic Battle of the Worms. These performances netted Wilfred and the Dwarves quite lucrative honoraria.

The Dragon Hunter’s reputation was now firmly set, and he and his team were summoned by rulers and officials for all manner of mysterious dealings, most of which their distinct talents transformed into profit.

That was until they received a desperate missive from the Sealands about a sea monster plaguing that nation’s coasts. That, however, is a tale for another day.


Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part 9)

As it neared five o’clock, Shortwhisker was preparing to light the fuse of another flame effect. It was then that he caught the glimpse of movement inside the cave. His jaw dropped and he involuntarily dropped his taper as he backed away from the apparition of an eight metre purple Dragon.

Runny caught glimpse of it at about the same instant. “It’s, it’s . . . ,” he stammered.

“A ‘reality’ Dragon,” Wilfred said completing his friend’s sentence, and against his better judgement drawing his sword.

“Really?” Althonyr asked incredulously.

Wilfred looked at his sword and then back at the dragon.

“Um, yes, I suppose so,” the Dragon Hunter replied.

Althonyr’s first inclination was to dispatch these nuisances and get back to his nap, but it had been all too long since he had the opportunity to manipulate a human.

“I see you are with Dwarves,” the great beast observed. “I hate Dwarves,” he then muttered giving a side glance at Runny. “So, what do you intend to do, Sir Knight? Or is it My Lord?” the Dragon asked cooly.

“Um, it’s neither. You see I am a, ah, kind of a showman,” Wilfred tried to explain.

“How interesting,” Althonyr almost purred. “What might your performance entail, might I ask?”

“I – I, we . . . we travel about where there are reports of, um, Dragons and we put on a show of riding the place of them.”

“So, you kill dragons?” Althonyr asked accusingly.

“Ah, no, ah, to be honest you are the first we have actually encountered. As I said it’s a show.”

“How do convince your audience you have completed this monumental feat?”

“With props,” Wilfred said, backing away slightly as Althonyr stepped fully into the cave mouth.

“Props? How intriguing.”

“The Dwarves fashion things like Dragon heads and we pass them off to the guilable.” Wilfred said quietly.

“I suppose there is a market for such theatrics. After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now,” the Dragon observed.

What had gone unnoticed at this point was that Shortwhiskers’ taper had continued to burn and its flame had now inched its way to the fuse of the main charge which had been designed to bring the cave down. Suddenly there was a tremendous blast which threw Wildred and Runny ten metres and caused the entire upper chamber of the cavern to collapse.

When the smoke and dust cleared the cart that had carried the props was overturned and weapons were strewn all over. At the former cave mouth, Althonyr lay trapped under tons of stone with only his left shoulder and head exposed.

“Showman, what have you done?” the Dragon gasped. “My back is in agony, and I can’t feel my legs. Dig me out, and I will spare you.”

It was obvious however that the great worm was going nowhere. One of the prop harpoons had pierced his neck with the force of the blast, and his back and wings were broken.

Wilfred rose and dusting himself off he approached the disabled beast.

“Showman?” Wilfred asked. “I’m no showman. I’m the Dragon Hunter,” he announced.

“I will pay you handsomely,” Althonyr pleaded.

“I don’t think you could match what I will get from this,” Wilfred said. “‘After all business is business; and speaking of business, I guess it is time for me to kill you now.” With that Wilfred and Runny drove the harpoon deeper into Althonyr’s neck. Thick blood spewed forth and the light went fron the Dragon’s eyes.

“I am of the mind that this looks about perfect,” Runny said. “A few details here and there, but it will do the treat.”

One of the heart jars was broken beyond use, but the red heart in it was transfered to the jar that had contained the purple one. That heart was in turn buried and a large rock slid by all of the Dwarves over its location. Meanwhile, Plucky was sent to the palace to invite the Viceroy and his retainers to “the site of battle.”

By the time the officials arrived the four red-heart jars were arranged two on either side of Althonyr’s head. Wilfred was seated on the overturned cart, and all signs of pyrotechnic equipment had spirited away by Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker. Runny and Wetwhistle wandered about the site drawing a diagram which detailed the epic battle, the death of the four Reds in the bowels of the cavern, and the final confrontation of Wilfred and the “Great Purple Worm.”


Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part Eight)

Explosion, Fire, Forest, Nature
Pixabay

Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker spent a good part of the evening cutting charge holes and setting explosives. They then exited the cave to prepare the pyrotechnics display that was to be viewed from the town and palace. About midnight they made their way back to the forge to get some much needed rest.

“You lads all finished?” Runny asked as they entered.

“Aye, but you didn’t but half find the hardest stone my old bones ever had to drive a rod through,” Breaker complained.

“It were as if it be tempered,” Digger added. “It be done though.”

“Good, good,” Runny said. “Now get yourselves some shut eye.”

Runny ticked a few items of his list and then went to go cuddle down with Plucky who was already fast asleep.

“Only me, My Lovely,” he said as she started. “Go back to sleep. Busy day morrow.”

The Dwarves were up a little after dawn, and spent an hour after breakfast reviewing timings for the “big show” which was to begin at about three in the afternoon. The plan called for the three pyrotechnic Dwarves to take a circuitous route to the cave to avoid detection as Wilfred decked out in shining armour would again visit the palace to announce that the operation was beginning, and again stress the need for observers to keep their distance. Then he would ride boldly towards the cave followed by Runny and Wetwhistle and the cart of weapons.

Plucky stationed herself on the path leading to the cave site and added the jars of “Dragon hearts” to Runny’s cart as it passed. All was going according to plan and at five minutes past three, Shortwhisker launched a flare that gave the appearance of a stream of flame against the back drop of the dark hills.

These pyrotechnic effects were repeated at different angles according to Runny’s detailed time table, and on three occasions during the afternoon a white illumination charge was set off to create a bright enough flash as to project the shadow of a paper cut-out of a dragon through a lens against the hillside.

In the meantime, Runny helped to spread soot in patches across Wildred’s horse, while Wilfred himself singed his cape and applied soot to his armour and surcoat.

He then settled down to enjoy a pork pie and watch the fireworks.

* * *

Althonyr woke and opened a sleepy eyelid. What is that infernal banging?

It wasn’t that he hadn’t heard noise in the upper cavern before, humans occasionally entered to shelter from a storm or to have a look about. None stayed long, nor did they ever venture deep into the interior. In fact, it must have been twenty years since Althonyr’s slumber had been thus interrupted. This was different. The banging, no hammering, was getting annoying.

Althonyr stretched and scratched under his left wing. Then pushing his great mass upright, he retreated down a tunnel to an underground stream and had a drink. He then moved down to a deeper chamber and tried to resume his nap.

Some hours later, he was once again disturbed by the ringing cracks of some kind of explosion, and by bright flashes of light which stabbed at his eyes that had become accustomed to decades of darkness. This will never do, the great purple serpent thought, and once again roused himself to investigate.


R. V. Mitchell aka Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part 7)

Middle Ages, Medieval Festival, Riedenburg
Pixabay

Once inside, Wildred and the six Dwarves gathered around a work bench where Runny had placed some elaborately drawn plans.

“Thank you all for coming, and I hope this will prove a profitable enterprise for all of us,” Wildred said in welcome.

The Dwarves each nodded and muttered agreement.

“As you all be knowing, Cracky Breakstone ain’t with us on this one, him gett’n married recently and all, but the rest of us should be more than enough as these folk don’t seem to know too much about Dwarfs, and nothing about dragon-lore,” Runny said. “We need to ‘kill’ ourselves five dragons, and give that Viceroy feller a proof that we done it. Wilfred here will do the sweet talk’n and take the credit as usual, but that be no here or there as we all knows we is a company and share an share alikes.”

“I will let the Viceroy know that he needs to keep the people well away from the cave that Runny has found. You can see its location here on the map. I will stress that not only will any observers be in danger, but that they could cause a distraction to “my” success. Just to be sure, once we are set up, I will need our Plucky to keep an eye out for any curious parties that get too close.”

“I will indeed,” Plucky said tapping on a cudgel hanging from her belt.

“Now ’bout the cave,” Runny said. “Digger, Breaker, and Shortwhisker, you is goin’ to make a fire show, but will need to prepare the cave to collapse as the show stopper. You’ll be need’n to start your work tonight when you won’t be noticed. Till then my Plucky and Wetwhistle will be making up our proofs. Shortwhisker, you can make some more harpoons and the like, till you need to go, but don’t make them expensive mind as they is only props.”

With that each went about preparing for the “show.” Shortwhisker stoked up the forge. Digger and Breaker began measuring various fuses, and double checking the pyrotechnics in a shed behind the smithy. The most elaborate, and down right disgusting preparation was carried out in an enclosure that had been erected out of canvas curtains downwind from the smithy.

“Whao, that is potent,” Wilfred said as he poked his head in.

“They are a bit ripe,” Plucky agreed as she added a florecent red dye to a vat which already had five whale hearts in it.

“They be a bit old,” Wetwhistle said. “Runny said I needed to get some that weren’t easy to trace, so I couldn’t get them direct from Nordland, but got ’em from a certain Ralulee trader I knows,” he said tapping the side of his nose.

“Remember one of those dragons is purple,” Wilfred said.

“We got that covered,” Plucky said, holding up a bottle of blue dye. “I’ll do the finishing touches after we jarred the others,” she said with a nod to the six glass jars at the edge of the enclosure.

“I will leave that in your capable hands,” Wilfred said as he departed.

As the sun settling towards the horizon, Wilfred mounted his horse and headed to the Palace to give his crowd control advice to the Viceroy. Meanwhile, Wetwhistle, Breaker, and Digger loaded the wagon with fireworks. Runny and Shortwhisker loaded the cart with the “dragon killing” weapons, and then then drove them through town, stopping at the Ferret for a drink, just to be sure everyone got a good look at them. Plucky, remained at “headquarters” to make sure it didn’t get any unwanted visitors.


Padre

Dragon Scourge (Part 6)

Wooden Barrels, Barrel, Wine Barrel
Pixabay

————

Early the next morning, Wildred woke Connor and reiterated the plan and the agreement. He then sent the man home to tell his sister they were being hunted by dragons, and that they had to flee southwards. The Dragon Hunter then made his own way to the palace, and told the attendant that he needed to speak with the Viceroy with some urgency. The whole affair went much as planned, and with the business concluded the went to hurry Connor on his way.

In the meantime, Runny scouted the hills north of the late forest and found a suitable cave. He then scribbled some instructions in Dwarfish onto a small pieces of parchment and tied the notes onto the legs of two pigeons which he set loose. His labours done he made his way back to the smithy, and sized-up the resources available there. Noting some deficiencies he jotted down some additional orders and set off his last two pigeons.

“Saw the birds leaving,” Wilfred said as he entered the forge.

“Took all four of ’em,” Roundbottom said. “Found a good dragons’ lair though, and we had near ‘nough all we needed here.”

“My visit with the Viceroy went swimmingly,” Wilfred said. “Connor and Annabelle are heading south as we speak, and I am fairly sure we will not see them again.”

“Good, good,” the Dwarf said. “Always best to keep the amateurs at a distance for work like this.”

“I was an amateur when I met you,” Wilfred said with a chuckle.

“A right clever one,” Runny said, “and more true and canny than most human-folk.”

“Why thank you Sir Dwarf,” Wilfred said with a bow.

“None of that,” Runny said in a dismissive tone. “We got work to do.”

And work they did, they made a big show of making flimsy but rather spectacular looking harpoons and lances which they arranged outside the smithy for the benefit of any nosey bystanders. The real work, however, began two days later when three Dwarves arrived with a wagon-load of pyrotechnics. Later that same day a fourth Dwarf arrived with a pony-cart bearing a large barrel with Nordlandic writing on the side.

“Better cover that scribble-up” Runny instructed as three of the newcomers unloaded the barrel.

The following morning, a female Dwarf arrived with a cart loaded with six large glass jars packed in straw.

“Morning Mr. Wilfred,” the She-Dwarf said as she climbed down. “You seen Runny?”

“He’s in the forge,” the Dragon Hunter said with a smile. “How was the journey?”

“Bit rough, glad I bringed an extra jar. These folk need Dwarfs to be laying a road for them, as they have more holes than path I tell ya,” Plucky Roundbottom observed.

Just then Runny stepped from the smithy and embraced Plucky. “How’s me old-girl doing?”

“I don’t know about your old girl, but your gorgeous wife is fine,” she said giving him a thump on the chest.

“Glad to see you, My Lovely,” Runny said. He then turned his attention to Wilfred and said, “Looks like we have everything now. We should be ready to go after them there Dragons in the morrow,” he added for the benefit of two passers-by.


Padre