First Chapters from Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons

Here are the rewritten first chapters of Tales of the Driss. If you see an issue, please tell me.

 

1

Jerrick wondered where his brother was. He had sent his younger brother Kerrick out into the world to gather their people, the Driss who had been scattered by the Trow who had always hunted them. Jerrick had to remain in the North, in the country of Lunaris where he was King to their people after his Father’s death. But the High Laudriss, the ruling body of his people, had decided they wanted to gather their wandering brethren and fortify here in the North. This meant that they needed an envoy, a representative, and they had chosen Kerrick. Jerrick felt he had no choice but to agree with them. He had to remain here and maintain the security of their new Kingdom that was under constant threat by the Trow and Tresser, dark elves and their cousins who hunted Driss. He also had to guard against the other people of the world who did not trust the Driss due to their rarity and general misunderstandings. Driss were small and fair. Taller than gnomes, dwarves and Halflings, but shorter than men, elves, Trow and Tresser.

Kerrick was his little brother, and they had been through everything together. From the wanderings of their youth to their finally having found a homeland in Lunaris. The brothers had been born on the road and had witnessed many things and been through many hardships before they had come to this place. They had been hunted, chased, denied shelter by the other peoples of the world. Suffered from cold, hunger, near starvation. They had survived it all and come to Lunaris where they built their Father a palace from stone and wood. A simple fortress, but it was home to them.

Now, Jerrick was lonely as he sat at his desk, late one night, looking over books and papers, trying to find any words in the journals of his Father that would lead him to the Krystal Dragons. They were Krystaline statues of dragons, one rube, one jade, one opal and one sapphire. When brought together at the Krystal Fortress in the South, they created a shield that could protect the Driss from any enemy. That’s what Jerrick wanted. To return his people to their proper place in their own land. This place was home, but it was not the home of the Driss.

He sighed as he shuffled through one of his Father’s journals. The pages were old and falling apart. Any clue. Any clue at all would be helpful. The candle light was dim, and he was having a hard time concentrating on the pages he was looking at. His mind wandered back to Kerrick. He remembered that night in the kitchen when he had requested Kerrick go. It was quite clear to him. A night of victorious drinking after the defeat of their rivals the Trow who were trying to drive them out once again. The Trow were dark elves who lived under the earth and hated all other people, but they especially hated the Driss. They were alone in the kitchen that night. Sharing a brotherly moment, one of the last they would have for a very long time.

“Kerrick,” Jerrick said. “The council of the High Laudriss wishes to re-assemble our people.”

“Splendid!” Kerrick said. “And how do they propose we do that?”

“They wish to send an ambassador out into the world to gather them. They asked me to choose someone to send.”

“And have you made a decision?” Kerrick asked.

“Yes,” Jerrick replied. He looked into his brother’s dark eyes and said, “I have chosen you, brother.”

“What?” Kerrick said, astounded. “You want to send me?”

“Yes, I want to send you. I think it would be good for you to go out into the world.”

“Did you ever think for one moment that I wouldn’t want to?” Kerrick asked.

Jerrick thought about it. Then he realized that he hadn’t really thought about it. He just assumed that Kerrick would accept the assignment. “No, I didn’t think of that. Are you saying you do not wish to go?”

Kerrick gave a nervous laugh and said, “I don’t know. It’s a heavy decision to make. And you’re just kind of springing it on me. Have you told anyone else?”

“No.”

“Have you considered anyone else?”

Jerrick took a swig off his mug of ale. “No.”

“And you think I’m the best man for the job?”

“I think you’re the only man for the job. You’re a Driss prince, one of the last of the royal line! They will trust you, Kerrick.”

“Is this what you want?” Kerrick said.

“Yes. Will you do this for me, Kerrick?”

It was a bit unfair, Jerrick knew. He had given Kerrick basically no other choice. His brother nodded. “If this is what you want, then I will go.”

“You have my thanks, brother.” Jerrick said. “You have my thanks.”

Kerrick left soon after. They said goodbye to each other down by the gates to the city. There was a reluctant look on Kerrick’s face.

“You will be fine, brother,” Jerrick said. “I will see you again in a few months. Be careful when you are crossing through the lands of men. They cannot be trusted.”

“I will be careful brother.”

Jerrick looked up through the trees. He could see the blue sky and could feel the warmth of the sun filtering down through the branches. “It’s a beautiful day to start out,” he said. He hugged his brother hard. “Take care of yourself, Kerrick. Come back to me. What would I do without you?”

“Who knows?” Kerrick said with a smile. Then he turned from his brother and walked away into the wilds.

That had been some months ago, and Jerrick was beginning to worry. He shuffled through the journal pages. There was nothing. Why did his Father leave him no clues? Did the old King not want him to reinstate their people in the old fortress? It made no sense. His Father had been a complex Driss. Merrick never spoke about anything that happened before the Fortress had fallen. As far as the King was concerned, his life had started anew upon arriving in the North. He and his wife had lived happily in this palace built for them by their sons. When Merrick’s wife died, he soon followed after her. It was a common malady of Driss to follow a mate closely in death, whether it be a husband following a wife or a wife following a husband.

Jerrick had been fifty when his Father had died. At fifty he had just come of age. However, he was ready to take on the reins of the kingdom. He just wished that he had someone to share that burden with. And now that Kerrick was gone…

There was a knock at the door. Jerrick wondered who it could be. It was well after midnight. “Come in,” he said.

The heavy wooden door opened and Wolfnoth, a younger Driss from the High Laudriss stepped into the study. He was a meek Driss, but a good friend. He always sided with Jerrick in the councils. He carried a candle with him and he looked like he was on his way to bed, he put his hand over his mouth as he yawned. He came and stood across the desk from Jerrick. “It’s very late, your Majesty.”

“Yes, it is,” Jerrick said.

“Do you have something on your mind?” The younger Driss asked.

“I miss my brother, Wolfnoth. I did not think I would miss him so much, but I do.”

“That is understandable, your Majesty,” Wolfnoth said. “I am sure he misses you as well.”

“Should I have sent him?” Jerrick mused.

“There was really no one else, your Majesty. The Driss will trust him. They will trust in his lineage.”

Jerrick smiled. “You are right, Wolfnoth. I shouldn’t worry so much. And it is well passed time to go to bed. I will find no Krystal Dragons tonight.”

Jerrick closed the journal he had been looking through and blew out the candle.

2

Kerrick had been out on the road for many months. He had passed through the lands of gnomes and men and had come at last, to the edge of the Broken Forest. He had heard rumors in the man Kingdom that he had recently left that Driss would sometimes pass this way. So he had decided to come to this place to see if it was true. What he found there amazed him. A Driss caravan full of men, women and children who seemed to have been camped there for a while. Their wagons were old, but they were still serviceable and seemed to offer the Driss enough shelter. They seemed well and happy. Still, It was Kerrick’s job to find out who they were and to try and get them to come back with him.

He went up to a Driss man who seemed to be in charge of the group. He was slightly taller than the others and had long dark hair and a roguish grin. Yes, he was the leader all right. Kerrick went to his wagon, where the Driss was lounging upon the high seat. “Excuse, me, sir,” He said to the Driss. “Are you the leader here?”

The Driss looked down at him with a smile. “Yeah, I suppose you could say that,” He said. “Name’s Anders. What can I do for you?”

“Well, Anders. I am Kerrick, son of Merrick. I have been sent by the King to gather you all.”

The Driss looked at him in astonishment. “You’re the son of the King?”

“Actually, the brother of the King. Our Father passed away some years ago.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, you Highness. However, I don’t know if my people here would really like to be gathered. We kind of like our wanderer’s ways.”

“Where have you been wandering to?”

“Ah, we’d planned eventually to come to the North, but mostly we stay South of the Broken Forest. This is the first time we’ve been North of it for some time.”

“But why would you wish to keep wandering? We have a palace and a Kingdom in the North. What would keep you out here when you could come with me and be with others like yourself?”

The Driss pointed off into the forest. “On the other side of those tattered brambles is a place. The place that Driss are meant to belong. The Krystal Fortress. The home of our people, before we were driven from that place by the Trow.”

“Seriously?” Kerrick said. “The Krystal Fortress?”

The Driss nodded solemnly. He smiled at Kerrick again. “Would you like to see it? We can take you there.”

“That wouldn’t interfere with your plans?”

Anders shrugged. “What plans? We will go tomorrow. For now, you may sleep in our wagon, for you look as though you would take any roof over your head at this point.”

Kerrick laughed. “It has been a while. Thank you for your hospitality.”

“No worries.” Anders said. “Just a word of warning, though. Stay away from my sister. She’s not for you.”

“Your sister?” Kerrick said.

Anders pointed behind Kerrick. He looked to see several women sitting around a fire helping to cook the evening meal. However, he knew she was the one with the long red-gold locks and the sapphire eyes. He also knew that he wouldn’t be able to make Anders any promises. “Right…” He said. “Your sister.”

Kerrick had to admit that that night he didn’t know if he was thankful anymore for the roof over his head, as it put him in close proximity to a woman that was very clearly a Driss goddess, which now he thought was very unfair. That night, when everyone who was going to sleep got ready to do so. She came and sat next to Kerrick. She had a perplexed look on her face, as if there was something about him that she did not quite understand.

“Is there a problem?” He asked.

“It is your hair,” She said as she reached her hand out and touched it.“It is golden, like a womans.”

Kerrick frowned. “So people have told me.” He pushed her hand away. “Was there something else that you wanted?”

“You really live in one place?” She asked. “You do not move around, like we do?”

“I have not wandered for many years. My brother and I helped our Father build his Kingdom in the North. We lived with him there until he died. Now my brother Jerrick is King and I am his ambassador. He has sent me to gather our people.”

“Gather your people?”

“The Driss. All of us. We will be stronger if we fortify in the North, and then maybe, when we are truly strong, we can take back our lands in the South.”

“And what if we don’t wish to come?” She asked.

“If you don’t want to come? Don’t you wish for a home, a place where you can stay and won’t have to move from? Roots?”

“Trees need roots. People do not. They can carry their roots with them.”

“So I assume what you’re saying is that your people will not come with me?”

“You can ask the others when we meet with them at the crossroads. Some might, but my brother may not find it a good idea to join you in your…fortification.”

“There are others?” Kerrick asked.

“Yes. We should catch up to them in a few days at the crossroads.”

“Then I will ask them if they will come.”

“Alright.” She said.

She made ready to get up, but Kerrick stopped her. “May I know your name?” He asked.

She looked at him, and her sapphire eyes meeting his black eyes in the firelight. “I am Lusa.”

“Lusa?” He repeated. “Well, it is good to meet you.”

“It is good to meet you too, Kerrick, son of Merrick. Goodnight to you.”She left him and went to the trailer where the unmarried women slept. Kerrick, slept in the wagon with Anders and his young friends. It was a decent roof, but a little too close for comfort.

As they caravan made it’s way South, Kerrick ended up spending most of his nights wrapped in his blanket up on the wagon seat. Nobody bothered him or tried to talk him out of it. It was still warm, as it was late summer and there were still warm nights to be had. They reached the crossroads and found no one there. Perhaps when they returned, Anders suggested. They moved on to the South. Going around the forest was not the most expedient way to travel, but it was the safest, as only the elves knew the hidden paths through the forest.

It loomed in the distance, a tall jagged tower of stone. It was not fancy or extravagant, but it was a symbol of power. It was the Krystal Fortress, created thousands of years ago by Driss who knew the secrets of the Krystal Dragons. The statuettes of crystal, one Sapphire, one opal, one ruby and one jade that powered a shield that covered the fortress and all the surrounding lands. That was what used to keep the Trow and Tresser at bay. Now, the fortress stood empty. It seemed that the Trow and the Tresser had given up guarding it since the dragons had been lost and the royal Driss family had fled to the North.

Still, Kerrick could not help but go into that place. Search the empty stone halls, look at the items that had been left behind when the Driss had abandoned this place. See the skeletons of the ones that were unable to escape. This had been home to his Father and his Father before that. But Jerrick and Kerrick had never known this place. They were born as their parents traveled to the North. Still, it was sad. It seemed as though the halls were filled with angry ghosts. Ghosts that would stay there until their deaths and people were avenged.

That night, he made the royal suite his bed chamber. He had cleared off what had been the bed and had put his own blanket there, for the old bedding was rather rat and moth eaten. The bedchamber was on the top floor of the tower, so much could bee seen through the windows. The windows had no glass, they were open to the air. From the bed, he could look out and see the stars in the clear night sky.

Someone came and lay down next to him in the dark. At first, he was scared, but then he realized it was Lusa and he knew that it was safe. “What are you doing here?” He asked.

“I wanted to get out of that wagon. I have slept in that wagon for most of my life, and I just wanted to sleep somewhere else tonight.”

“Alright, but why with me?”

“Would you like me to leave?” She asked. She sounded a bit miffed at him, as if she really didn’t want to leave. Then part of him wondered if he really wanted her to.

“No,” He said. “Stay.”

She said nothing more. She lay by his side quietly and was soon asleep. Something about her being there with him perplexed him. What was it that she wanted? Anders had told him to stay away, but was that what he truly meant? He curled up next to her and went to sleep.

They camped in that place for a week, and each night she would come and sleep with him. He was becoming used to having her there. And soon enough, he expected her there. And finally, he was ready for her to do more than just sleep by his side. The night before they would journey back to the crossroads, they made love for the first time. It was that night that he realized that he loved Lusa. And it was clear to him that she loved him back.

On the journey back to the crossroads, they slept in different wagons again, because as far as Kerrick knew, no one knew about what they had done, which was probably for the best. When they finally reached that place again, Kerrick was amazed to find that there was indeed a gathering of Driss there. And not merely a small gathering either. There were probably a thousand Driss there all together. Men, women, children. All of them with their wagons and whatever they had to sell or trade. This was more than Kerrick could have ever hoped for.

As the Driss from Anders’s caravan began to disperse within the larger group to trade and conduct other business, Anders took Kerrick aside for a moment. “I assume this is what you were hoping for.” Anders said.

“Yes.” Kerrick said. “In fact I am surprised by how many there are.”

“There may be more still. We have not heard from our brethren who lay further to the Southwest and East. There may be even more than this.”

“I see.” Kerrick said.

Anders slapped him on the back. “Very good. Tonight we celebrate, for tomorrow is a most joyous occasion!!”

“What occasion is that?” Kerrick asked.

Anders gave a laugh. “Tomorrow, you marry my sister!!” He said. “What did you actually think we did not know?”

“I…”

“It is alright. She loves you. Or so she has said. But just know, if you hurt my sister, I will kill you myself.”

“Duly noted.” Kerrick said, somewhat shocked at the threat.

“Come brother. We celebrate!”Anders said as he pulled Kerrick into the gathering.

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