you never give it up. ever. your body becomes old, frail, you find aches and pains where once there were none, your eyes dim, your hearing is replaced by little annoying hairs, but despite all that, you never give it up. from the moment i was given the holy symbol of our goddess of the north, the beautiful enfyenda, until i exhale my last dying breath, i am a sworn paladin in the service of the gods. yes, now, i reside here in doren, retired, in a way. hobbling on this old cane, teaching youngsters like you the ways of adventuring. but if word were to come from on high requesting me to fight or defend, may the goddess have mercy on those who wronged her. for i am a paladin, and i am the defender of those without agency.
so yes, young ones, despite my frailty i am still imbued with divine ichor, which flows through my blood and gives me power when i seek it. but i do not seek it any longer, not actively. no, my days traveling the world are long gone. shall i tell you of my last valiant battle? of course, of course. this is a tale better spoken by my dear friend leyva the bard, who played so gracefully upon her harp as she sung this story into being, welling the eyes of everyone with tears as she performed. alas, she is gone, given the gift of human mortality by her god yalga the bowyer. i had lived twice as long as her before we had ever met. she … was a good human.
but i digress. the tale of the dragon! my colleagues and i had adventured for nearly a decade together, braving forests, mountains, oceans, rivers, jungles, and even a brief trip into another dimension. yes! i will tell that story another time. doren is very secluded from civilization; i’m sure many of you are chomping at the bit to leave this dusty old village and travel to a city like altavir, the crystal shield. i have been to altavir, and kostor, and hen, and the wailing spires. i have seen sirens bathing in the streams. i have defeated devil and demon alike. i have done all of this because adventuring is a dead man’s game, and thus my friends and i were a prized commodity, especially in our later years. and so it was on this particular hot summer day, during a period of downtime–unusual for us–that we were summoned to the briar queen’s chamber in kostor to alleviate a particularly nasty dragon problem the citizens there had been facing.
like i said, adventurers are few and far between, and those who choose the lifestyle are often dead before they even know it. for a span there i was convinced we were the only adventurers in the entire world! regardless, the briar queen required our services, and quickly–she had a wizard conjure up a gateway between where we were and her royal chambers in kostor. there, she and her council explained the situation, which i will condense for your young minds: there was a dragon. a big one, an ancient green dragon which had been awakened after decades of slumber by a severe tremor which caused much of the earth to rend asunder, destroying several buildings in kostor and even collapsing part of their legendary wall surrounding the city. the dragon was roused and began causing more havoc against the people of kostor, destroying their farmland and spitting vile acid which ate away at everything it touched.
we were tasked with bringing the dragon down. the briar queen told us that the dragon had finally returned to its underground nest to rest for bit, but that it would return shortly. so we gathered up our weapons and armor, and our wizard ruminated on her best spells. leyva tuned her harp, the monk gojen meditated, i honed my sword and prayed to enfyenda for guidance, and tully the rogue practiced his sleight of hand. by nightfall we were off, spelunking down this enormous cavern that had opened up because of the tremor. inside were all sorts of monsters–enormous bugs, beetles, and vile creatures from the underdark like drow, ghouls, goblins, and more. but at this point they were like child’s play to us, and we toyed with them like you might toy with a field mouse nibbling on your grain before you feed it to the cat.
finally we reached the dragon’s lair. she was enormous, and her scales were embedded with so many jewels and gems that the wizard’s light made her entire body glint and glimmer. she was not asleep. rather, she was waiting for us. as i withdrew my sword to attack, she spoke. “i am lisandera,” she said, her voice low and gravelly. “i am the keeper of this land upon which you have built a great empire. that empire is mine, and i will rule it.” she hissed at us but did not move. despite our years of adventuring, we all knew not to head straight into battle. something was off about this. i tried to move closer to begin parleying but found that my body was rigid. “i can’t move!” i shouted, and the others announced the same. it was at this point that the wizard, whose vile name i dare not repeat ever again with this holy tongue, stepped in front of us. she walked to the dragon and turned to us. we had been betrayed! the wizard was a sorcerer, but had disguised herself as a wizard since the moment we met. now, she removed her guise, and we discovered that the ancient green dragon was in fact the progenitor of her ancestry! the sorceress laughed maniacally and we were certain of our doom.
[a loud clangy triangle sounds in the distance]
ah, is it supper time already? goodness. we shall have to pick up this story after i have eaten! [the children groan] oh, don’t worry, i shan’t forget you. now, somebody bring me my walking stick. and you, beatrice, help me up! i refuse to ever miss a good meal,not after being trapped in the ice caverns of north berteroy for nearly six months…