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Writings > Stories and Fiction > Introduction Stories: Grak's Tale
Introduction Stories: Grak's Tale
Published by Dragavan on 2006/11/5 (7133 reads)
This is one of a collection of short stories that are used in the introduction of the main book to help describe the scope of what can be done in Land of Karn: Fantasy Role-Playing Game. They were not designed as whole stories, but snippets to be used as examples of different kinds of styles and themes you can include in your games using the LoK rules.

Grak's Tale
In the darkened corner, lit only by the flickering flame of the fireplace, sits an old Dwarf surrounded by a number of young men and women, of a number of different races. Even in this state, however, there is something greater than this place about him, a history in the way he carried himself. For he was once known as Grak Hardmarble: Explorer of the Northern Peaks. Now he mainly just sits here in Kordath's Pub and tells stories to those traveling through North Guard. At least those willing to listen and buy him a drink or two.

After buying him another round, the young group of would be adventurers listen eagerly as the old Dwarf continues his tale of the old days. The night has grown long, but none of them seem to notice as his stories carry their minds to other places and times.

"So, where was I?" His gravely voice asks before he takes another swig of his ale.

"You had just defeated that Nardog." The young blue haired Frenal states with eager anticipation. Her eyes transfixed on the ancient man seated before her.

"Oh, yes." He says, remembering himself, "So it was just Kaleel and myself left. The others had all either fled or been slain by the beast before I struck my fatal blow. But we weren't about to give up, not when we knew we were this close to the old Sindwish Temple. So we struck out on our own, just the two of us, not caring what dangers were ahead.

"As night started to fall, the forest seemed to grow thicker and branches tugged at us like long fingers of some unseen beast. We hacked away at the thick underbrush to make our trail, but the travel just became too hard with only one moon shining, and it only a sliver. Plus, with Kaleel being a mere Human, he was blind as can be. So we stopped for the night and decided to set up camp.

"That night was when I first saw them."

"Who?" a young Human man dressed in worn and weathered leather gasped with excitement.

"I bet they were Vorn." The oldest of the lot says. "Weren't they?"

"No, my dear boy," Grak says with a slight chuckle, "Vorn are never seen this far north. What I saw are far more native to this area than any of us. Centuries ago, before our ancestors even stepped out from the cradle of the gods, these people lived in the trees of this area. Some say the trees themselves even created them to have someone to talk to."

"You mean the Treelings, don't you?" The young Frenal boy says with a slight air of arrogance.

"Yes, the Husno, or what you mistakenly refer to as Treelings." Grak shoots back, with a slightly scolding look to the young boy. "As I laid there and the embers of our fire slowly faded away I saw movement high in the trees. I squinted and stared to see if I could make out what was up there, and then I suddenly saw the wild haired head of a man staring back at me. His bright eyes darted back and forth between Kaleel and myself.

"Since Kaleel was asleep I made a gesture of peace and carefully poured some water on the embers of the fire to put it out. To my surprise the lone Husno smiled and the next thing I knew he was gone from sight. There was some rustling of branches and shaking of bushes, but in a few seconds he steps out of the brush and stands next to me. I was even more surprised when he spoke, welcoming me to his tribe's wood and thanking me for the care I took with my fire. I asked him of the temple and he knew of it. He said he could take us there a much safer way than traveling through the forest floor, but it would have to wait until morning. Then he was gone, strait up the tree like a monkey."

He paused for a moment and took another swig of his drink, allowing the others a moment to look around at each other with faces filled with sheer anticipation and excitement. The silence is then broken when he continues his story. "So, the next morning the man was standing above me when I awoke and Kaleel was talking to him. We found out his name was Wind Song and he was of the Bright Tree Clan. He showed us to a makeshift ladder and pointed up into the trees, as if that was where we were going. As we started up Wind Song climbed the tree next to us and could move far faster and with more ease than we could.

"Upon reaching the top of the ladder I was amazed as what I saw. What looked like a simple canopy of the trees from the ground opened up before us into a whole community of buildings, walkways, bridges, and activity. Husno were all over the place, working and living around me. There were families living in rounded houses that seemed to almost grow out from the trees. Workers building more walkways and camouflaging them from the ground. Walkways wrapping around the trees, spiraling like a child's toy. It was one of the most amazing sites I have ever seen and my guide, Wind Song, seemed oblivious to its wonders.

"He simply led us through one walkway after another, occasionally stopping to greet some of the others and to introduce me to one of his children. After walking through this marvel of construction for hours he tosses a vine rope over the edge of the walkway and pointed down. Kaleel went first and I followed, until we were both standing on the ground again and the world above us was just as hidden from view as before. Wind Song stood besides me again and pointed ahead, through the brush simply saying 'There.' On that he was gone again, into the trees.

"We smiled at each other for a moment and then pushed ahead through the brush. Kaleel was the first to see it, but when I stepped out from the undergrowth behind him a sense of awe waved across me. There, before us, was the Sindwish Temple that so many said did not exist. Sure the vines have grown over most of it and parts of it were crumbling in decay, but all the evidence we needed to know what it was could clearly be seen. We had found it and we found what was inside too."

On that he fingers an old medallion hanging from a chain around his neck and finishes off his drink. After a short silence one of the young boys says, "So what did you find inside?"

"That, my dear boy, is a story for another time." Grak says with a tired voice and a slight sigh. "For tonight it is late and I am in need of a warm bed and a good nights rest. As should the six of you if you are still intent on heading into the Marsh tomorrow."

They all look around at each other and there are a few hushed mumbles passed between them. As Grak rises and starts to head for the stairs the oldest of the boys says, "Perhaps we will see you again tomorrow night for the rest of the story. We are dying to know what happened next to you and Kaleel."

Grak chuckles softly and quietly says, "Dying is the right choice of words, at least for Kaleel. I'll see you kids tomorrow." On that he heads up the stairs and a small smile crosses his lips, for he knows he has perhaps saved these kids lives from the dangers of the swamp. At least for another day. Tomorrow he will work on getting them to go home to their families and giving up this damn fool dream of becoming adventurers.
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