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Leather Was Amazed
Story by METLMASHER

A treasure she never knew existed, and she literally, blindly stumbled across it.

It was an ancient thing, but could have been made just yesterday. She reached for the treasure, and she felt a warm, waxy feel on the handle, that spoke of aeons in the fetor, but the thrumming was a telltale sign, of powerful ancient magicks.

She staggered back, hopefully toward shore, and ate the mithridate. Her mind was slow to clear of the effects, but was racing in anticipation.

The blade was slick. She wiped it upon her Cassardi trousers, and blinked tears, and fought to see the thing. Her fingers knew the shape, her mind knew the shape, but her eye was dim, and she stifled a scream of impatient frustration.

The blade was materializing slowly, and the handle had bare few markings of note.

Her eyes were getting the stinging numb sensation back and she saw the blade materialize...

She wept. Her pawn had long since died, and she was wet, exhausted, alone.

The power of the stone was electric. It hummed a near silent, tonal pitch.

The energy was flowing into her from the nearby water.

She neared the path to the Greatwall, west of the stream she followed, when the beast landed before her.

She was alone. Her experience was so low, she was in real fear for her life.

She remembered the jade knife in her hand yet, and stabbed the great beast with all her might. Over and over she put The Dragons Tooth into the mane and face of the horrible creature, and each time she felt a thrill. "I can kill it!" "I can kill it!" "I WILL kill it!"

She screamed the primal rage that had become the consuming fire of a thousand thousand hosts. Lives that had been torn and ravaged by the tides of time, and cruel fate, and hell.

She screamed again and again and landed a crippling blow to the face of the stripped meat left there. The swinging strips of red sprayed blood upon her and she delighted this. The beast was slowing and with every strike her power grew.

The girl named Leather, was arisen.

She jumped upon the back, high up, and struck. An instinctual urge to destroy the source of the deadly magick was overwhelming , the goat before her, the now crippled lion of seconds past, the tail spewing foul toxins... it all was a trivial jape, was it not?

"I have ridden dragons, I've flown the skies above cities, now bereft of life, and unknown to any... I'll have this meat!" Her shrill cry, punctuated by a vicious stab to the center of the goats eye, was a crescendo of surprise, and then, elation, as the snake attacked physically, and a slice of its head, became an adornment for her heaving sweating, breast.

Her hand stung hot near the bolster of the knife, she welcomed the pain, as each slash, and stab sent a jolt of vital energy into her.

Finally, she hopped down, a last sickening thud sounding hollow and wet, as she plunged the blade into the lion, finishing the gruesome deed.

She had to scream, as the power assailed her, she wrought the sound from places, and time, no living man had seen.

The sound was deafening, even to her, and she shuddered and nearly fell as the effort, and the spinning world of Gransys, left her sight, and she realized she was breathing so hard; the sound was rushing wind to burst her.

She scraped the black thirsting blade upon her shorts again but no stain was there, not even the previous time had lain any mark there.

Leather walked away from the bewildering battle, with a good many questions, and only one answer. This thing was no ordinary blade.

The heft was good, it felt only slightly heavier than a steel knife would. But that was as far as the similarities would go. The stone was never so sharp as to cut her, as she tested its bite 'gainst her thumb. And yet the glancing blows of her first timid slices, were as a razor, and the ease, and depth of the cuts was savage.

And as the reality of the fight caught her mind, a turmoil erupted there, she marveled at the strangeness of that dark stone.

She was covered in blood and gore, except where sweat was streaking through it. She wiped a drop 'pon the dark blade and surprise registered on her beautiful face, so furious and deadly mere seconds ago. The blade had dried the instant it was wetted.

She stuck The Dragons Tooth into her belt and walked with growing confidence, toward the Greatwall.

Wolf and Goblin alike were dispatched, first, with wariness, then strength, valor, and finally, pleasure...

She dreamed of flying. The clouds sailed by like mists, distant and soft and kind.

In her mind, bursts of panic careened and left a trailing angst behind, and as if awakening further, she knew why. The Dragon!

She clawed with all her might toward the heart of the great beast. The wind was sear and merciless, and her strength was fading and she remembered, The Tooth! She reached for the blackness at her waist, and stabbed into the scaly hide. The unforgiving surface, near immune to other blades, was flayed open deep at every strike. The blade was a hold for her, and she crawled forward. She was close now.

The heat was unbearable and yet.. closer.. closer.. just a.. little... there! With a war cry from some forgotten language, she screamed it. "Pi'a saf nethret cassar pune'!"

And with a fury born in fire, she locked her legs around the shoulders of the red beast. She looked like a madwoman as she plunged the blade deep.

She was falling. Tumbling. She saw it then, the dragon was coming straight for her, mouth wide, a gaping chasm. It would engulf her!

Leather woke with a start and peered through the gloam-o-morn. A deepening red, the sky bode storm and rains.

She wiped sleep from her eyes and sniffed. The weather wouldn't hold another hour, thought she.

The stalwart man had taken all her burdens, and the stone near the gate was glowing still. Her Loyal pawn, Ebon, snoring and at peace beside her. He mumbled, something like a growl, then laughed hearty, waking himself, still grinning.

She tried to clear her mind of troubling things, and the wall of 'what if's and 'why's and 'how's were a slough to wade, after a hot cup of liquid vim, or three...

The trip into Gransys was a fog to Leathers mind.

Ebon, in his deep, thick voice, made japes at her vacancy, and stopped mid-sentence at a glance from her.

He went back to collecting wild mushrooms for their breakfast, surprised that Leather would miss the chance to tease him for his slower gathering. The game was an old favorite for her, they would race from patch to patch, each watching the others gaze, to see any the other saw.

Leather walked on deep in thought "Who would know?"

When they hit the alehouse, Ebon gave the mushrooms to the Arsmith, and Leather ordered frothy, hot, liquid vim. She shook off the webs and fog, and finally, brightened after her third.

"We could see the Dragonforged, if any alive would know it, he would."

Ebon finally teased, "Mm, you'll be able to hunt mushrooms again?" and they laughed.

The dark cave was a tomb of the living.

Down the steep stairs, along the wall, into the dimly lit cavern at the bottom, they were hesitant, till they saw him seated there.

He was ancient.

They were silent for uncomfortable seconds, and finally the gravelly words came, "Welcome, ask all that you would know."

Leather was awed by the wizened man. He was not the valiant dragon slayer of the stories of her youth. He was something more than what was seen, somewhat less than she'd imagined.

The blackened hands and arms of the man bore testament to fiery battle, Dragonforged... He was old now, even he knew not how many hundreds of years he'd lived.

She drew The Dragons Tooth, and shuddered, a slight movement, not lost on the grey eyes of the ancient. He put a hand forward, so she offered the blade, but he didn't touch it.

He held his hand out, like warming it near a flame, and spoke of things she had no understanding of. He said "Perdus nethret sen draga fid, Pi'a saf nethret cassar pune' - The black lost his favorite tooth, and dreads the day he finds it!" and laughed hard, and coughed.

His loosely interpreted translation, a jape he only, could enjoy. He finally added, "Not all dragons are red..."

"My Loyals crafted that. They had no idea of its power."

A silent tear welled in his rheumy eye, and he turned away.

Leather quietly thanked the ancient man, and left tributes of mushrooms and sobering wines, and left the dark place.

She vowed to wield The Dragons Tooth with honor, and care.


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