With the madcap adventures of the Grand Tour behind me, I found myself out on a lonely desert road under the cover of darkness with no one else around. Some say I may have been lost and wandering aimlessly in said desert, I prefer to say I was exploring the region with keen interest with no specific destination or course in mind.

While scaling a rock escarpment to get a better lay of the land, and quite possibly to get my bearings, I came across something that sent shivers down my spine and something unmentionable down my leggings. I had only heard about such things in mythical tales told around the pub or campfire and had only seen the name written on navigational charts as a dire warning. Before me, hovering in the air, was a dragon.

And not some cute little dragon that you might have inklings of taking home and sitting on your desk, or perhaps training to do fun little tricks while you stand around in the town center of Braemar, but a great big beast, beating the air with it’s spiked wings, spewing fire and whipping about it’s tail. It was the spewing fire portion that really had me the most on edge.

I admit to being a touch paralyzed with fear. Never before have a I seen such a beast and all those terrible encounters with trolls came back to me. Why can’t the troll just sit down to a proper cup of tea? Why does it always have to make with the stomping feet and crushing hands? The dragon seemed to be of the same social disposition. I was not under the impression we were going to have a glass of ale together. As the fire scorched the earth, I could see a band of travelers gathering together, working to tame or perhaps destroy the great winged devil.

And by gathered I mean it was a frenzied scenes with people running in all directions, fireballs flying in random trajectories, the clash of swords, the mystical incantations of spells and of course, the scream and cry of agony as adventurers were beat down and singed by the fiery blasts.

Without thinking, I grabbed my sword of smiting and threw myself into the melee. I lunged, parried, thrust, summoned and attacked with all that I had. When I realized I was doing nothing more than attacking the big toe, I changed my tactics.

But it was too late. The earth around me was consumed in a blazing ring of fire. Then I felt the stinging whip of the tail as I was hurled across the battlefield. Trying to gather my bearings, I pushed forward, a vain attempt at another attack. I’m going to say it was another attempt at an attack, I may have simply been too out of sorts to pick the correct path of retreat.

I suffered a staggering blow to the sternum and woke up in a field by myself, my helmet smashed about my head, a terrible ringing in my ears and the visions of sugarplums dancing about my eyes. Before things could get serious I decided to take my leave, and stumbled away. I will need to consult the literature on the proper etiquette and tactics needed to fight a dragon. Running in with nothing but a sword in my hand just wasn’t working.

I returned home to find Barry was no longer catching up on his beauty sleep. He was instead working diligently at the crafting stations. I was unaware that Barry possessed such skills or interests. In fact, I was unaware he possessed the thumbs for such activities. But there he was, working the forge and following the recipe out of my recipe book.

When I inquired as to his vocation, he indicated he was working on some new lamps to go with the new bed he made for himself. “New bed?” I asked. “What’s wrong with the one I made you?”

I was informed that my efforts at crafting a bed had yielded one that was both too lumpy and too small. Barry needed his space and was not content with the current sleeping arrangement. Thus, using the tools and materials from the crafting cabinet, had built a new bed which of course had to be bigger than my own and was now making luminaries so that he could read at night. Well color me confused, I had no idea Barry knew how to make a night light.

When asked what he did with the other bed, that perhaps we could donate it to some poor traveling minstrels or offer it to the less fortunate who might be more relieved to sleep on a lumpy bed than a lumpy cobblestone street, he responded that it had been turned to ashes. Instead of salvaging boards from the previous furnishings, he used them as kindling to stoke the coals in order to make his lamps.

“You’re a hard one to please, Barry my boy.” But far be it for me to stand in the way of Barry having hobbies. “Since you’re at the station anyway, how about fixing some of my older boots and putting a couple repairs to the old armor.”

I’m not sure if he gave a nod of approval, but I left him to his crafts because at this time we received word from Blake about venturing back to the Blood River to speak with the Tour Guide. It is indeed a lovely place, except for that blood part, so why not make a second trip.

Alley and I said we would meet Blake at Soltown, then travel the rest of the way together. It is a fair distance to journey, but usually quite safe as the bandits don’t seem to venture that far out. After some lovely meals along the way and fine lute playing, we reached our destination. Blake was immediately quite taken with the butterflies that adorned the local flora. In fact, he went so far as to lie in the grass and rest his weary brow. But his meditations were interrupted as wolves bounded out to great us in less than savory tones. I believe they had intentions of supping upon Blake had he not readied himself for combat in the nick of time.

From our previous travels, we knew the Tour Guide to be setting up shop on the bridge on the outer edges of town. While Blake and I chatted with him and I tried to get more information on his gypsy background, which he still wasn’t quite admitting to, Alley took the opportunity to go fishing.

While this may seem like a fine idea and an idyllic spot, let us not forget, this is called the Blood River. I do not believe it to be the best course of action to eat whatever may come out of the water. It’s not an absolute rule, but I think it’s a good one to follow.

Again, not to interfere with someone’s hobby, Blake and I waited by the gypsy wagon and discussed the upcoming festival with the Tour Guide. Thinking quickly, Blake and I secured passage on the wagon and when Alley was ready we set a course for the festivities. Alas, we came to the humbling realization that indeed we had no horse and not only was the Tour Guide not in the mood to budge or give us a hand, he seemed to lack any sort of towing capacity.

Perhaps we can try our hand at piracy to loot a vessel and travel by sea.

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Yep, gonna need new leggings for sure

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When the devil did you learn the fine art of crafting? And what do you mean that bed was lumpy? I made that bed myself! It’s a quality item and I will hear nothing to the contrary! You used to sleep and do your business in the woods before I brought you home. Now you’re all uppity and Mr. Fancy Pants!

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Ah ha, found you just where I left you. You have quite an affinity for this wagon. All right Tour Guide, let’s talk about this gypsy background of yours.

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Lovely thought of catching us dinner, but I hesitate to bring up that we are indeed in a location called the Blood River and that water is not what one would exactly call clear. Although that waterfall does look surprisingly refreshing.

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Ha ha! We’re off to the festival!

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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