Chapter Forty-Eight

April 21, 2012


12th of Saltmonth


            After the battle, we find Hans with all of his fingers broken.  Briggette heals him, and we all work to gather the various treasures around the room.  Briggette and Korvinean head out to look for the refugees we sent running to ensure their safety.  They find the group and speak to the leader about plans to move through this nightmarish wintery land.  Briggette and Korvinean head back to the keep.
            After about an hour, the temperature changes begin to slow down and stabilize until they eventually hold steady at the normal underground coolness.  We move back into the main part of the keep and make camp for the night.
            The next morning, we head back to where the freedmen are gathered, and help them pack up and move out.  They are going to move back to the keep and relative safety.  Additionally, we know there are plenty of food stores at the keep to sustain them.  We stay with them for a day, getting them settled and making sure they're comfortable.
            In the morning, we head out.  As we leave, the dwarven leader stops Ulric and says, "What you have done for us can never be repaid.  Your house can always count on the Black Gauntlet clan."  He cuts his hand, as does Ulric.  They join hands, and he continues, "The blood of my ancestors runs through me and through my children.  It would have ended if not for you and yours."
            "It is my honor to serve all those who live in our Kingdom, be they dwarf-kind, elf-kind or man-kind," Ulric replies.
            The dwarf continues, "From now until the mountains erode away and the sea claims the land, your house will be honored and befriended by us. Your house can always count on the Black Gauntlet clan--always--forever."  He turns toward Briggette.  "And you, Knight of Cuthbert, you, too, have made a friend with us as well, you will always have a home with us, a fire to warm yourself, an anvil to repair your armor, and a strong glass of mead.  A home."
            We thank him for his kindness and begin our journey.  On our third day of travel, Briggette wakes up feeling anxiety emanating from Chancellor.  She goes to him and he seems extremely agitated.  As she looks around, she glances into the sky and sees two glowing red orbs, then sees something fly over that is large enough to block out some of the moons.
            "Dragon!!  Dragon!!" she begins to yell, and Ulric draws his sword and begins running toward Briggette's voice.
            "I don't see it!"  he screams.
            "It blocked out the moons!" she replies and begins pointing up.
            As Ulric looks and sees a large shape diving in and out of the clouds very high up, the rest of us begin to wake and ready ourselves for a fight.
            We all see it now as it dips out of the cloud ceiling again and swoops over our camp.  It flies about 200 feet beyond our camp and lays a line of fire before a quick ascent back to the clouds.  We ready ourselves and wait.
            Korvinean blows his horn and a thick mist begins to roll in.  Brianna gathers up the rescues who are not already cowering, and she begins to usher them to whatever cover she can find.
            The dragon dives back out of the clouds about a mile away, folds in his wings, and plummets toward the ground back in our direction.  At the last possible moment, he throws out his wings, lands and shoots a jet of flame into the air around him.  Then he lets out a terrible roar before taking off again.  He flies over us, and swoops near Briggette, where he brings down his tail and slams a tree with his tail, sending it flying toward her, but obviously not meant to hit her.  Korvinean fires at it, and as the beast flies away, it glares at him over its shoulder.  We do not see the dragon again that night, but we hastily break camp and push forward.
            All throughout the next day, the dragon harries our travel.  About every thirty minutes, he pops out of the cloud cover, sometimes near, sometimes not so near, but never openly attacking.  At around 5pm, he flies out and releases his excrement right next to Ulric before gliding back into the clouds.
            When we arrive in Reghin the next day, we see Connor and some fifty other men training with gruisarmes.  He whistles, and his horse rides our from beside a building.  He mounts up and rides out to meet us, then he rides with us on into the city.
            The captain of the guard greets us and enlists a few of his men to help set up a tent city and some fire pits for our 300 refugees.  Ulric and the captain agree that anyone who so wishes may stay here until the spring when travel will be easier.  Some families head toward their homes, and some ask to travel back to Brasov with us when we leave. 
            We stay for about a week, then head out for home.  It takes about two weeks, but we get home with no issues.
            We arrive back in Brasov to great fanfare and celebration.  Ulric's father buys drinks for everyone in the tavern and spends several hours there with us going over what our travels have been like.  It is a joyous occasion, and everyone feels more relaxed as the evening wears on.
            The next morning, Brannick returns to town, and the celebration continues.  He catches up with us and spars with Briggette.
            Ulric spends part of the morning speaking with Brannick, then heads toward the castle to talk with his father.  I follow.  He asks him for permission to "throw a wedding" in order that he might marry Briggette.  He apologizes for the urgency, but Brannick must leave again in two weeks, so he wants to take action now.  His father agrees, and Ulric must now go ask Briggette if she will, in fact, be his bride.