Ghoun was still awake when I stirred in the middle of the night. He sat next to the pile of sticks I had put together, staring through the shriveling trees and into the star-filled sky.
I sat up and moved next to him, but he still stared silently. Right when I decided I’d have to say something since he must have not noticed me, he spoke... “Isn’t it beautiful. Arounds us lays darkness and death, buts somehows aboves us stays as beautiful as ever. If our lands is destroyed, I’ll just turns to the stars, knowings that they’ll never be takens from mes.” Not knowing what to say, I too stared up into the night sky, deciding he spoke the truth once again. Minutes went by like hours before I chose to speak again.
“Ghoun... what was that name Dran Drako called me? What does it mean?”
He turned to me now, “A Kir’Draz. The last one to walk these lands since the centaur, Algon Ranean.”
I couldn’t help but interrupt, “Algon? The centaur you befriended? But that was only years ago, not centuries!”
“Ofs course it wasn’ts him! But closely related, for it was his grandfather. You musts remember thats centaurs live much longers than mans. Though nots as long as us dwarfs. Centaurs lives an average of 200 years, most humans live fors 70 years – though the oldest wizard lived to 153. Anyways, Algon dies overs 300 years ago. His son, Daldon, dies less than 100 years ago, 20 years after he gave birth to his son, whom he named Algon after his father. Algon is the only descendant I know of, if he was still alive he’d still be only 55 years old, hardly a young adult.”
“55 years old! Only?? I though you said he was a young centaur when you met him a few years ago!”
“He was a very young centaur! Only 32 years old to be exact. You must understand, that is a child from a viewpoint of a centaur. I’d say equivalent to about your age. That was 23 years ago, which is many years for you, but only a few years for me.”
Though it all made sense, I was still amazed. “May I ask your age, Ghoun?”
“I ams 254 years olds, Falconth.” My eyes grew wide, he was ancient! He seemed only in his mid-adult years...
But of course, a 254-year-old dwarf was in his mid-adult years. Dwarves lived an average of 350 years old. Even outliving centaurs. Ghoun was still young enough to possibly outlive even my kids. He’d easily out-live me!
A sudden thought came to me, “Does that mean you lived while...”
“Yes, I lived whiles Algon was ans adult. I was alives when he studieds the powers of thes Kir’Draz. His training beguns not til evens eyes was a young adult. Bys then, I hads studied much. In facts I was his fighting trainer. I taught him how to use manys weapons. I taughts him strategys and everythings. Backs thens, we hads a sort of training plan fors Kir’Draz’s. The longer lived creatures likes elves, dwarfs, and centaurs weres the trainers. I wa honoreds to work withs such a wonderful Kir’Draz. I believes it musts have beens destinds to meets you, Falconth. I believes I ams meant to trains you.”
Not sure what to say, I spat out, “Me? I don’t deserve such training! I don’t even know what a Kir’Draz is!”
Ghoun smiled. It was the first time I’d seen him smile for a while. “A direct translation would be something like Multi-Class Godlike. It represents someone whom is a natural warrior, wizard, rogue, and knight. The Kir’Draz symbol represents all these classes under strength, magic, stealth and quickness, and honor. Its a circle containing swords, firebolts, the ancient horse, and a centaur horseshoe. Centaurs are of course the most honorable race of these lands. If you ever come by a centaur you can trust one they say. Elves are another race which you can trust, as long as your careful with your word-choice, for they are keen at finding loopholes. Buts, anyways, I’m getting off-topics. I haven’ts done much fightings latelys, as I’ve been hidings, but it’ll come backs quickly. I’m afraids I’m not familiar withs magic. Syth could hads helped yous with its, if you hads beens more exceptings.” I frowned at the thought. When would I learn to listen? I have regretted so much due to not listening!
“An elf wills have tos teach yous magic.”
“An elf!” I exclaimed, “But I thought they no longer existed.”
“Justs likes dwarfs no longer exists?” Ghoun’s eyes gleamed with slight humor, “The Drans even knows that they’re ares plenty magical creatures lefts, they just keeps it quiets as to trick others into believings thats they are all powerful and controllings.”
“So they let them live in hiding?”
“No, they just can’t find them. If drwafs and elfs are good at anything, its living unnoticed. Elves ares the bests at its.”
“But the centaurs! What of them? They can’t be gone, you saw one just years ago!”
“He could have easily been the last of them,” Ghoun frowned, “Unfortunately they stood out more than others. You see, centaurs weres a prideful creatures. While elves and dwarfs kepts to themselves and preferred to bes left alones, the centaurs cared more about the land as a whole, while dwarfs cared only for the mountains and belows the ground and elves the forests. So the centaurs fought for what they believeds was bests fors Bunlar Island, while others only did whats they thoughts was bests for theirs own species – hiding in orders to live. Now dwarfs would bes the lasts to admits all ofs thats, but I haves comes to accept what I hads once denied.”
“And I will too,” I stated while facing the pile of sticks. “Teacher or not, I will take the responsibility of a Kir’Draz and practice magic. And I’ll learn combat if you’re willing to teach me.” Ghoun smiled at this as I went on, “I was able to set a single stick on flame,” I motioned toward the pile of sticks, “But that many I fear I’m not ready for.”
He held out a stick, thinking of it as some kind of test, I focused until the upper half lit up in flames.
“A singles stick,” he said, taking the flaming stick from me, “Is wheres one must always begins.” He dropped the stick back into the pile and we watched as the whole thing set aflame.
“Well woulds yous look at thats,” Ghoun said, turning to the sky.
“It’s sunrise,” I said as I looked toward the beautiful sky, ignoring the blackened trees.
“When’s there a better time to dual thans the dim mornings lights?” He took an old silver sword from next to where he had been sitting. On it, was an emblem I had never seen before, though I had remembered hearing about it before.
“It’s the Kir’Draz emblem. Algon gave it to mes to gives to the next Kir’Draz befores he died. He figured I’d live olds enough to stills be around.” Ghoun smiled at the thought and held up the sword to me.
Out of respect, I took the sword and thanked him for such an honor. I examined it and noticed how beautiful it actually was. The blade itself had a beautiful pattern on it, but when you passed your fingers over it, it was smooth enough to make one believe nothing was there. It must have looked old due to this pattern, I decided, for up close it looked magnificently new.
“I sees you like it,” Ghoun smiled.
“Yes, its beautiful. But what will you use?” He took out his rusted axe and I frowned.
“Don’t worrys, I’ve grown accustomed to its.” Deciding not to argue, I held up my sword, and got in what I believed was the right stance.
Ghoun laughed, “Haves you evers done this before?”
Embarrased I replied, “Only back at Lebrieth with Thawl. He’s always been better than me.” I noticed Thawl was awake now, watching while warming himself by the fire, the sky was more beautiful than ever.
“I’ve a change of minds,” Ghoun motioned Thawl to come over, “You two wills dual with sticks. I wills teach you boths. Thawl will bes an extremely good fighter one days, and Falcnoth has potentials tos be great at everythings.”
He handed us long and strong sticks. He showed us the proper starting stance and the footing for basic attacks. We learned to block and dodge. By the time it wa sover, we were both sore and dripping in sweat. What started out fun, became harder than I had imagined.
“Yous both aren’t conditioned, buts that wills come in times. Yous both now knows the basic positions, proper balance, and a littles defense. I woulds like you boths to practice togethers every night by yourselves, work on the things I showed yous. Whens its perfected then I’lls teach yous mores. I expects yous both to always give it alls you gots! Or yous bes in troubles!”
Thawl and I merely groaned in return as we drank from our supplies of water.
“Yous two pack up camp, I wills put out the fire befores any of the Drans spots it in the daylight. We’res going tos head North east as Syth said to.”
“But we can’t until we rescue him!” I felt strength come back to me at the need to argue what I believed.
“I’m afraids it’ll have to bes the other ways around, Falconth. As of nows we will stands know chance. You not onlys must train mores, buts me also must get Thawl a sword, and mes a decent weapon. Not to mention armor, or at leasts more protective clothings.”
“Where can we get all that?” Thawl asked curiously. I suspected he’d like a sword, he seemed to miss the feel of his old sword in his hands. The one he had always used at the Lebrieth training arena.
“Everyones knows the best metal crafters ares the Dwarfs!” Ghoun smiled broadly.
“But how would you find them? Didn’t the Drans destroy all the homes?”
“Yes, buts only a dwarf really knows the whole underground city. I believes they only destroyeds whats they coulds find.”
“But the entrances! Weren’t they abolished?”
“Once again, Falcon... the entrances they could find. But lets gets a move ons, we aren’t far froms the Ash Mountains.”
Thawl’s eyes grew wide at the name, “Ash Mountains??? I’ve heard terrible stories, I never thought the mountains really existed! Haven’t you heard the one when...”
“Thawl! Remember last time you did this? We met Syth! Nothing bad happened!”
Amused, Ghoun said, “No, no. Go on, I’d like tos hears it.”
“There’s a terrible clan of evil dwarfs protecting some of the entrances, and at night they’d sneak out and kill al sorts of creatures! They’d surround it, and then SNAP! The creatures dies terrible gruesome deaths! They were always thirsty for blood... like vampires! Yeah, like dwarf vampires!” Ghoun had been trying to control himself but he now broke out in laughter, as I frowned at Thawl, unamused by the ridiculous stories he told me.
“What???” Thawl looked between me and Ghoun, “It’s true! And you both will see if we go there! We’ll have no chance!”
“No, Thawl, I thinks we wills have a chance. You sees, the Slan Clan was the onlys clan that guarded the entrance at day ands hunted for food at nights. That’s my clan!”
“So it was you??? You’re clan ate innocent people for food??” Thawl stepped back from Ghoun slightly.
“Nos, not peoples, yous piece of Dran Dung! Wes hunted the sames creatures thats yous humans hunt! Birds, bunnies, fishes...”
“I’d never kill and eat an innocent bunny for food! Bunny killer!” Thawl glared at Ghoun in disgust while Ghoun laughed.
“Thawl! We always eat them! We used to almost every day!” I was even smiling now at Thawl’s stupidness!
“I thought that it was rabbits we ate all the time! Don’t tell me that you secretly kill the innocent bunnies too!”
Ghoun and I both laughed at this and began walking Northeast again. It wasn’t until a few minutes later, once we were done laughing and Thawl was getting tired of asking “What’s so funny?” when we told him that rabbits and bunnies were the same thing.