Star Wars: How To Make It Better!!

Recently, I went and saw Solo: A Star Wars Story. I actually enjoyed it quite a bit. It was fun, full of action, loved seeing Donald Glover as Lando. But here’s the thing. I had to ask myslef at the end whether I truly enjoyed it as a Star Wars fan, or if I just enjoyed it as a fun movie? It took me a while to realize it, but I hadn’t enjoyed it as a Star Wars fan. If anything, it was just a generic science fiction movie with some interesting characters and a fun heist going on (though I will admit I did love the Kessel Run. Less than 12 parsecs, haha). I wondered why it had worked for me, but not on the level of it being a Star Wars film? There are several reasons and I think they actually start with the Last Jedi, which I’ll get to after the discussion on Solo.

Han Solo has always been one of the most iconic characters in the Star Wars Galaxy. We know his look, his attitude, and his weaknesses. We also know his history, If one looks into the character of Han Solo, they’ll realize that he already had a well established origin story starting with the book series in the 1980s, I do believe, and followed in the late ’90s with The Young Han Solo Trilogy that pretty much covered his entire youth from being a their on Corellia, to pissing off the Hutts on a regular basis (there’s also a Lando Calrissian series that I hope they consult before making any new Lando adventures). The fact that they took Han Solo’s origin and almost completely threw it out the window is part of the reason why it didn’t resonate with die hard fans.

The characters didn’t resonate with fans because most of them didn’t exist, which actually makes it more of a mess than Tauriel in The Hobbit movies. There were only three characters out of the original origin that they kept, Han, Lando and Chewbacca and that is an issue. Why? Because when you mess with people’s heroes and break canon, fans don’t like that. They want the hero that’s always been what he is due to the origin they already know and love, not some bullshit that someone is just pulling out of thin air. That’s not the way it works, especially with a fandom like Star Wars. With the continuation of the story after the Trilogy and the creation of The First Order, fan were sort of okay with that, but Disney is kind of pushing their luck. Again, completely breaking with canon is not wise.  Also, where did these characters that they added to Solo come from? Who is this Qi’ra character, or these bandit types who keep chasing them, and WTF is with that reveal at the end? It’s just confusing. And for Star Wars fans who know anything about the canon, it’s just nonsense.

So what do we have to do to fix this mess? Solo wasn’t a bad film. It was actually quite good and I enjoyed it. There were just far too many issues as a fan that didn’t make it a Star Wars film. And that is what fans have to decide now. Whether they can enjoy these films as Star Wars films, or if they have to put their faith in the franchise aside and watch the movies as “just another science fiction movie.” Because, Star Wars fans won’t keep watching if they don’t feel like the franchise is staying true. They will abandon it, because suggesting that you can give them crap and they’ll just keep coming back isn’t true at all. Down the road, they’ll realize they’ve been had and they’ll walk away grumbling about the fact that Star Wars messed up Star Wars. Some already have. And no this doesn’t have anything to do with subliminal messaging from “the left” or “social justice warriors.” Star Wars has been about social justice warriors since film one. That’s just a fact.

Solo definitely didn’t get enough marketing time. Also, it was definitely released too close to The Last Jedi. There’s no doubt about that. There was literally no time to build up hype or get excited about it. Also, I don’t think Star Wars is anything they should even try to make into a Marvel Universe kind of franchise. Releasing a film every six months is just going to create over-saturation and then there will be no excitement at all because, “oh, it’s just another Star Wars movie, who cares?” I care. Many other fans still care. What they should do Disney should space them out like Warner Brothers is spacing out the Harry Potter prequels and maybe put out a new Star Wars film every year-and-a-half or so. That way people can get excited about it, hype it, make it special again.

Diversity is never a bad thing. I think that we need a director and a writer of color to work on Star Wars. The last woman to even touch Star Wars was Leigh Brackett in 1980 for The Empire Strikes Back. She passed away from cancer before the script was finished which is why George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan also have writing credits on it. Bringing in PoC is never a bad idea. If we can get someone like Ryan Coogler to direct a Star Wars film, it would probably be great!  As for me, as I’ve stated before, I want to be the first WoC to write a Star Wars film. In fact I’ve already started. It may never see the light of day, but at least I did what I said I was going to do. Adding new voices with diverse perspectives is just something that should happen. And, we’re tired of J.J Abrams and his ridiculous nonsense, haha.

The last thing I would suggest for Disney is to go back to the original canon for the series. Maybe not completely, but just nudge it a little bit. There are so many great Star Wars characters that you’re just basically throwing in the trash. Like Mara Jade, Kyp Durron, Corran Horn, Kam and Tionne Solusar, Winter, Salla Zend, Talon Karrde, Admiral Daala, So many whose stories deserve to be told because they are part of the Star Wars fabric. And to totally throw them out and ignore them is to basically spit in the face of fans who loved them.

I have always had one rule for any director or writer who works on Star Wars, no matter who they are. They have to be fans. So far I have seen very little evidence of that. The Last Jedi was the closest film so far (maybe Rogue One), but that’s just not good enough. You have to do better, Disney, or all of the Star Wars fans are going to jump ship. Thanks for reading. I hope you liked this post! Let me know what you think!!

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Martin Freeman: Not As “Problematic” as You’d Like To Think

 

The other night, an interview came out that said that Martin Freeman was kind of glad that they were taking a long (probably permanent) break from Sherlock because fan expectation were simply too much.  I had no issue with this. If anything, I thought it was a good thing for him, after the success of Black Panther, to kind of move on from what he had been doing to whatever comes next.

Other fans weren’t that accommodating. The moment he came out with this statement, people began to attack the star and the show. They were convinced that Freeman was just whining about his success and that he was ungrateful to the fans. Well, we’ll get to the fans in a bit, but here’s the thing that really pisses me off. They think they have an excuse to call him a bad person, or in fact a terrible person, because of some of the things he has said in the past. I have been following Martin Freeman since his days in The Office, watched him when Love Actually came out. Enjoyed him as Arthur Dent in HitchHiker’s Guide, Loved him in all of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg films, was thrilled when he was cast in The Hobbit, endured The Hobbit and loved him in Black Panther. It just annoys me that people think that they can just get away with calling him racist. So I would like to address some of the “problematic issues” that people have with him. Just address them. Your opinion is your own. You certainly don’t have to agree with me.

I found this interesting list of problematic Martin Freeman quotes here . I am not going to address them all, but I will go through at least some of them. First of all, the racist thing. I found this quote especially interesting because I agree with it quite a bit.

 

I actually agree with this because I don’t like hearing that word. And I literally hear it all the time. And not just from African Americans. The teenagers in the school that I often work in are really into rap. Most of them are Hispanic. A good many of them actually call themselves and each other that word despite the fact that it’s not their word to use. So saying a word to point out that you don’t like to hear it and there was a time when people knew that it was an inappropriate word to call people; that’s not racist. If anything it’s the opposite of racist. What he’s saying is, “as a white man, I find this word to be inappropriate, and yet there it is.” He probably shouldn’t have called it “gangsta rap” and using the word was inappropriate, but that’s all it was. Inappropriate, not racist. And if you’d like an example of what he’s talking about, this is one of my nostalgia rap videos, but it uses that word  A LOT. So be for-warned.

 

Whenever I see this argument that he’s racist for his comment I think:

This is primarily because it’s white people saying these things about him while ignoring actual PoC who are telling them that what he’s saying is not technically racist. It would be one thing if he were saying that word to someone, or was saying that that word was okay to say. He’s doing the opposite and saying that he finds it annoying that it’s there. There was an incident last year with Bill Maher where he called himself that word. That was also not racist, It was wildly inappropriate and a bit flippant, but it was not racist.

Here’s another one that I just love. It’s just so funny that it’s sad.

  • His ENTIRE performance in Ali G Indahouse was super racist and classist. Here are a few clips to give you a taste, the entire movie is on Netflix instant.

Oh my golly. Look who missed the point of the ENTIRE film. The ENTIRE film. That’s the point. And for goodness sake, it’s Sasha Baron Cohen. He has never made in inoffensive film in his life. If this is what you truly think, then the satire went so far over your head that it’s not even funny. I mean, really.

 

Lets do another one, because I’m not really done making my point. And I do have one.

I met Lucy Liu at the Emmy’s who was charming, but very ugly.  She’s a dog, come on, she’s a very unattractive woman.

And here we have it. The one everyone seems to be obsessed with. Yes, he said an assholic thing. but Lucy Lui is a strong woman who has always played strong characters. She does not need you to fight her battles for her. Also, they probably know each other, had a good laugh about it, and then she called him a pasty white pile of  mashed potatoes. You don’t know what they’ve actually said to each other. And yet you’re just going to assume someone is a terrible person based on information you don’t and can’t know.  Trust me, she’s okay, and she’s gotten over it. If you ask her, she’ll probably say, “who?”

On his comments about multiculturalism. Yeah, they’re probably not good, but they’re not racist or Islamophobic. It basically means that he’s afraid of scary brown people. A good many people are. I mean, according to President Trump, I’m a rapist, murdering, durg peddler because I’m descended from people south of the U.S. border. My birth father was probably here illegally.  I’ve gotten a lot of flack for being a brown person. People chucking rocks at me, sitting behind me and telling racist jokes just for my benefit on the bus, the words spic and beaner coming up quite a bit. That is racism. Someone telling you to suck AIDs from a beaner d%$k. THAT is racism. Saying that some people make you uncomfortable and that they might be dangerous, that’s not racism. And given the research he must have done for Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, the chances are he knows the difference between terrorists and peaceful Islamic people.  When I see things like this, as a WoC I immediately think again:

One last thing I’d like to address before I get on with things.

He’s talking about a hobbit climbing a ladder to slip something to an elf. In case we don’t remember, elves aren’t real.

While it’s not alright to say that you were trying to slip something into someone’s goblet, he knew it was wrong almost right away and backtracked on it a bit, knowing that he had said something wrong. That’s why I don’t like websites that post quotes like this. They’re all taken out of larger conversations, and out of context. They make the person look as bad as possible while ignoring the actual conversation that’s being had. Not to mention that no one called Jason Momoa on his comment for five, maybe six years. The one where he was talking about raping women…not elves. Making a joke about raping anyone is not good. We either need to call everyone on it and hold them equally accountable, or no one. It can’t be, nah, we’re just gonna dump all our hate on this guy, but this other guy is okay. That’s not the way it works. He immediately knew it was bad and wrong. It took us five or six years to call Momoa on his comment.

Then again, Freeman came from a comedy background. That doesn’t make it okay, but it does make it somewhat more understandable. Jokes like that are rampant in the comedy world. Every comedian in the world has made at least one rape joke. And there Comes a time when you have to decide whether you’re going to be offended, or just let it be what it is, a piece of comedy that you don’t like. There are many comedians that are like this.

I don’t think Freeman is really like that. I think he does care. I think he cares about people and about his fans. But you have to understand, everyone is human. We all flub up. I certainly have. I’m not a freakin’ saint. Even if I were, I’d be a terrible one. I don’t know Martin. We will probably never have cause to meet. I just don’t like people crapping on others based on second hand information that’s created to make someone look like a jerk.

I love Martin’s work, but when he announced that he was getting tired of doing Sherlock because the fan expectations were too much, I heard everything from, “the show sucked anyway,” to, “yeah, but he’s a racist asshole anyway.” No, that is not acceptable behavior. Especially from some people who are supposed to be professional. A few years ago, he and his wife received death threats from an obsessive Sherlock fan. The writers and producers have received threats. And now, fans are claiming that the show was all about queerbaiting when the characters never were and never would be gay? Who are the real bad guys here? The guy who speaks his mind and should be free to do so as a human, or the idiots who are threatening him over his role in a television show. I know that’s a bit harsh, and it’s not representative of all Sherlock fans. But those who are responsible; you should be ashamed of yourselves.

So that’s it. That’s my final word on this whole debacle. But the fact is, you have no right to call anyone a horrible person when all you know about them is something you found on a website with little quotes that are meant to make him look bad. No. That’s not cool. Not everyone is 100% politically correct all the time. And if you’re offended, ask yourself if what you’re reacting to is truly offensive, or if you’re being offended merely to be offended. Because that’s ridiculous.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate it. If you’re offended by anything here…m’kay…

Harold Godwinson and Other Stories: The Method to My Madness

A few years ago, I started to work on the screenplay, Harold Godwinson. It is one of my favorite pieces of obscure history; telling the story of King Harold II and his encounter with William the Conqueror. What I wanted to do was tell a biographical story of his life because very few people have ever done that. When they tell the story of Harold in film, usually they focus on The Battle of Hastings. This makes people assume that that was the only important thing he ever did in his life. This is not true in the least. He had several events in his life that made him the man that he eventually became. The screenplay went through coverage and came out of it with stellar feedback from the producer who went through it. Then I went elsewhere to ask a few questions about the sceenplay and the reviews weren’t so stellar.

The concept and subject of the screenplay were interesting, but the person who went through it thought that covering Harold’s entire life was a bit too much and that I should have stuck to the subject of The Battle of Hasting and not try to tell the story of his life. Also they began to point out things that didn’t matter. Still others who looked at it went through it and realized that it wasn’t at all “typical Hollywood fare” didn’t think it would pass muster. Commercially, perhaps not. As an indie film with passionate film makers, it could be the next Elizabeth, The Tudors, or The Last Kingdom, which is probably the closest in subject matter to Harold, Lets go through this a bit and explore some of the decisions I made and the method to my madness.

The story starts out with one of Harold’s first battles as he faces off against King Magnus the Good of Norway.  What is the purpose of this bit of the story? This is the battle that establishes that he is a man worthy of respect, despite the fact that he’s only twenty-one. As a British noble, he has to prove himself. If he doesn’t, why would anyone follow or respect him? This is basically a necessity. Also, during a battle, originally, Harold throws a knife in order to dispatch the king. People were like, “well now he’s just a cowardly knife thrower.” This is where Hollywood takes a departure from accuracy. In battle, it’s about taking the leader off the board as quickly and efficiently as possible, just like in a game of chess.  Once Harold takes out Magnus, the battle is over because he’s effectively  cut the head off the snake and the battle can no longer continue.

Most battles in the 1000 usually lasted for two to three hours. It would be different if it were a castle siege, however, field battles were short. The Battle of Hastings was unprecedented because it lasted for nine hours. Usually though, two to three hours. Harold has to take out the king quickly. His throwing a knife and taking advantage of an opening is simple realistic. The Hollywood bullshit of a guy fighting through fifty bad guys while swinging his sword around like Jackie Chan is not realistic or efficient at all. I took it out anyway because I let people talk me out of it.

Next he goes to visit the woman who would become his consort, Edith (Ealdgyth) Swan Neck. She’s just his consort, not his wife. They don’t necessarily have to have any ceremony for them to be joined. While all of the children brought of this union are considered legitimate, that doesn’t make her any less his consort and not his wife.  The next sequence is Harold’s encounter with Beorn. The first complaint was, “Godwin wouldn’t want to protect his third son, he would let him go to the battle with Harold.” No, he wouldn’t. Godwin’s two eldest sons (Harold and Sweyn) are going into battle against each other. Godwin is not going to send his third eldest son into the fray. He need to protect his line. Sweyn could very well have killed Harold. They could have killed each other. Also, history tells us that he wasn’t there. I changed it anyway from Godwin telling Tostig just not to go, to telling Tostig to go to the king. Also Sweyn disappears from the story after that because he almost literally disappears. While he did eventually secure a pardon, he only stayed for a short time and was banished again when his father was and afterward decided to go on a quest to the Holy Land. He died on this journey. So putting him back in would just be useless filler.

The next issue that is there was  was that Harold was banished along with his brothers and father. He escaped to Ireland. “So what did he do in Ireland and why  didn’t you go into that?” Um…mostly because it doesn’t matter. He was there for a short time, two years I believe, and after that, he joined his fathers second attempt to return to England and reclaim what was theirs. Ireland would have just been useless again to go into, but I added a scene where he gathered Irish mercenaries anyway to appease the Hollywood types despite the fact that it didn’t really happen like that. The scene in Ireland isn’t necessary, but the following scene where Godwin tells Harold that his son Wulfnoth has been taken hostage in Normandy is necessary as it helps to set up a later conflict.

This sequence that this sets up is where Harold himself is a hostage in Normandy, and threats against his brother and being tricked into swearing upon holy relics mean that Harold has to make promises that he would never make otherwise. This is the event that the last mentioned scene sets up.

Harold never expected to be king. His only relation to Edward the Confessor was through Marriage to his sister Edith (Ealdgyth). The people who chose who the next king was were the Witan (If you’ve ever watched The Last Kingdom, every so often they have meetings with the Witan to discuss things. It was made up of the king’s senior advisers, Housecarls, lords, and territorial thanes). There were four contenders to the throne, not the least of them being Harald Hardrada of Norway and William of Normandy.  They chose Harold because they wanted an Anglo-Saxon man to be their king. Harold also had to banish his brother Tostig for taking advantage of the people of North-Umbria. He also had to marry Edith (Ealdgyth) of Mercia a noble woman. He still favored his consort though.

In the end, Harold fought valiantly, but could not win against William who, after nine hours, finally broke the shield wall. The Bayeux Tapestry is not exactly clear about what figure is Harold. He could be the one who was killed while still giving it his all, or he could be the figure that was shot in the eye by an arrow. Both are propaganda. The Norman version is that he was shot in the eye, which is the most commonly propagated because history is generally written by the winner. The way I wrote it is that he died bravely defending his brothers and William tabbed him in the eye with an arrow. This was kind of to solidify William as the villain. Also there are one of two places that he could have been buried. I chose the most likely one at Bosham.

There also seemed to be an issue with language. I didn’t use modern contractions. People in 1066 wouldn’t have been speaking English let alone using modern contraction. While I have no skills in writing Anglo-Saxon, I basically did the next best thing. And lets face it; if you can figure out will not, cannot, they will, that is, then that in itself is an issue. I did the same thing in Dragon Fire, Angel Light. Technically it’s not stilted, it’s accurate. Anglo-Saxon was a language with primarily Germanic roots. It did not start to morph into modern language until after the mixing of Anglo and Norman people. You can even follow the progress of the English language from Beowulf, the last great work written in Anglo-Saxon, to Chaucer, to Spencer, to Shakespeare, to Milton and so on and so on. That’s kind of what Hollywood has done to us. It has thrown historical accuracy to the wind in order to appease modern audiences, which is not a very good thing. Also telling the story of his life sort of explains why Harold II is such an important person in history.

Without him, and his interesting life, things would have been much different. It breaks the Hollywood mold, and yes, it’s basically and indie film that needs the budget of a blockbuster. However, I have no doubt that it can be big and is a story worth telling. Thanks for reading. Hope you liked it!

 

 

Writing Male and Female Characters: Why We Need More Women In The Writers Room

Recently, Wil Wheaton posted an article about the fact that Gillian Anderson was bothered by something. The fact that the writing team for the X-Files was all male.   Here is the link to the article. While this is indeed annoying, it is actually quite common. Despite the fact that Hollywood has called for change, little change is happening, and the status quo is still in effect. This could create a problem however. The issue being that the show has a team of men who are writing both male and female characters. There’s nothing wrong with men writing female characters. The issue is that there is a “team” of writers, and yet there is no room for even a single female writer on that team, meaning there is no true female representation or perspective. Writing for the opposite gender can be difficult. I’ll give you a few examples from myself that are interesting to consider.

As a writer who does not have a team, I cannot really and truly understand the male perspective. I have written male characters; many of them, but I am not an expert on maleness. For example, when writing a book that should be out this winter called Dragon Fire, Angel Light. Both of the main characters are male. In fact they’re males who love each other and have chosen to be together despite the fact that both are a bit supernatural and it creates issues. When writing the characters, while I can make the males male, some of their mannerisms and things that they say aren’t exactly the most male. There are quite a few instances in which the characters engage in what would be considered “mushy” behavior.  They will come straight out with the “i love yous” and the “I want to look in your eyes” when having sex (oh golly). They have no qualms about calling each other “my love”, “my lover” using terms like “making love” instead of just “doing it”. It’s all very romantic, but is it male? The fact is, I don’t really know because I’m not male.

Another example is my book Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons. It’s a fantasy novel based off characters and actors that have influenced and inspired me (thank you Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner). These guys aren’t lovers, they’re brothers, but even with their lovers, they don’t act very male. They have long conversation about how much they love their lovers after sex, they wax romantic when they’re asking their lovers to marry them, once again coming straight out with the “I love yous”.  They talk constantly about the merits of love and how it’s effected them. I don’t know if this is especially male either. Do men often go off on romantic mush fests? Do they just lie in bed and talk about how much they love their lovers after sex? Once again, I couldn’t say.

Screenplay Harold Godwinson has gone through many incarnations. and many drafts, however, the story has always stayed the same. So the relationship between Harold and his consort Edith has always been the same, and they face the same issues. An over romantic man driven more by feeling than by power, gain or perhaps even reason. Instead he’s more invested in justice, happiness, and caring. which is, once again not very manish, of so it would seem. One would think that the second most powerful man in Britain would be mad for the power that he could claim for himself, going forth on his own conquests and calculating his possibility for advancement. That’s not the way he’s written because when I looked at his life, that’s not the way he seemed. A man writing for this character might have seen the more calculating man in search for power. I did not. He loves his consort, he loves his land, he’s not out for himself, he’s looking out for everyone else, which may or may not be very male.

There are many stereotypes that still exist when one writes female characters. This may be because that is how women have always been portrayed to men. Seeing as history and many of the great works from the past were written by men, the male perspective may have overshadowed some of the truths about women. Throughout history, women have always been cast in certain roles. The two most classic being the fool and the seductress, or sometimes even both. If we look at the Bible, there is the story of Adam and Eve. There is Eve who is the first one seduced in the garden to eat the fruit which makes her the fool, and then she convinces Adam to eat the fruit as well, in a way seducing him into doing so. No one considers the fact that the second hand information given to her from Adam about the Fruit may not have impressed the danger of eating it. There is the story of Pandora who just couldn’t resist opening a box because, you know, the curious woman. There’s the story of Samson and Delilah, the seductress who betrays her lover through seduction and lust, and there’s the fallacy that Mary Magdalene was a whore. If we can break the stereotypes, then we can write better women. And who is the best at understanding women and the stereotypes applied to them? Women.

While it’s not a bad thing for men to write female characters; some female characters are wonderful, powerful, beautiful, and non-stereotypical. They’ve been written by great authors like Ibsen, Tolkien Hardy and so many others. However it’s also not a bad idea to have a woman to at least help better understand women and how women think, act, interact. And when you can have a team of writers, I’m sure that there’s room for at least one woman. Women need to be heard, as the female voice is just as important as the male voice, especially when a woman can write a woman for women. She wants the same opportunities that male writers get. She’s just as good, just as creative, just as interesting, and has the added bonus of being a woman. This also applies to people of color, but that’s a discussion for another time. Maybe next blog. Women want a chance to write. If Hollywood gives it to them, Hollywood won’t be sorry.

 

Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons Now Available

 

After some adventures and trial and error in self-publishing, Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons is now available. I am hoping that readers of fantasy will now be able to enjoy it. It was one of the most interesting endeavors in my writing career as writing prose is not necessarily my forte. It is far easier for me to wrap my head around screenwriting, and even that is difficult at times. I felt the story of Kellen and Ferian had to be told. And since this book is the first book in a series of at least three the Driss and their fellow fantasy characters will be pulling at me for some time to come. Thank you for your readership of bot this blog, and hopefully, the book. The characters have been dancing through my head since I saw the portrayal of the characters Fili and Kili by Dean O’Gorman and Aidan Turner in The Hobbit movies. Now, Kellen and Ferian, the Driss brothers, have a world of their own. They hope that you will join them there. Thank you.

 

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.

Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons Revamped Beginning

Hello!! I went though and I redid the beginning of this particular piece of writing and I wanted to know if it reads well, so I am going to go ahead and ask my friends and readers how it reads.  See anything amiss, let me know!! Thank you so much!!

1

Jerrick wondered where Kerrick was. While Jerrick had had to stay behind at the palace at a meeting of the High Laudriss, the leading council of their people, the Driss, Kerrick had gone off on a hunt. Jerrick had to admit, he was a bit jealous. As his father’s eldest son, he was obligated to care for his people as the man who was now their king, but he wished he had the freedom that Kerrick had. The current meeting was about the Trow, dark elves, and the Tresser who were their henchmen who had always hunted the Driss.

“Our scouts have informed the council that the Tresser have been seen Camping in the valleys just South of here. If they should come any closer to Lunaris…” Reger was one of the oldest Driss on the council of the High Laudriss. He was one of King Merrick’s most trusted advisers, and Jerrick had continued to trust him. “Our king led us to this safe haven in the North, away from the horrors of the Trow who have always made war against us. We would all be gone, if not for him.”

“And our good princes built his palace for him.” Said Wulfnoth. A younger Driss who was closer to Jerrick’s age. “We will not be driven from this place as well. If the Trow and the Tresser find us here, we will be done for.”

The other ten members of the High Laudriss agreed by nodding. “we must strike them first.” Reger said. “We must keep better watch and destroy any Trow or Tresser that come into the valley. This is our home!! It may not have the magic that once protected us in the Crystal Fortress, but it is strong, and we will not be driven out again!!”

“I will give the order to the guards and the scouts.” Jerrick said. Any Trow or Tresser seen coming into our domain must be destroyed. All must be killed. We cannot afford to lose what Kerrick and I have built here.”

“Of course.” Regen said. “Our king is young, but he is wise.”

Young? Jerrick did not think himself young. He was fifty-five, just had come of age five years earlier. He had two years on his brother Kerrick who was fifty-three. I suppose that is what young means, Jerrick thought. We are still young among our people.

Now to our second order of business.” Wulfnoth said. “We have decided to gather the rest of our people. I would ask that our king choose an ambassador to send out into the lands in order to gather our people back to us. We have been scattered by misfortune for too long. We must consolidate our kingdom and people. Who do you choose, your Majesty?”

Jerrick thought about it for a moment. Whoever he sent might be gone for a long time, as the Trow and the Tresser had spread their people thin. Who could he trust with such an important mission?

The door burst open and Fanna, the head of the guard came into the war room. He was dressed in his armor and had a grave look on his face. “Fanna, what is it?” Jerrick asked him.

Fanna bowed. “Your Majesty. We have received news that there is a band of Tresser camping up in the mountains, near to where your brother and his friends are hunting.”

“What?! How did this happen? How did they get past our defenses? I suppose that doesn’t matter now. Now we must go and save my brother. Bring my armor!!” Jerrick cried.

“Your Majesty, you cannot go with them.” Regen said. “You are king. We cannot risk our king on something such as this.”

“He is my brother. I must go to him.”

“Yes, he is your brother, but the risk is too great to our King.” Wulfnoth said urgently.

Jerrick decided that Wulfnoth was right. He looked over to where Fanna stood, still in the doorway. “Go. Bring my brother back to me.” He said and he sat down dejectedly in his seat at the head of the war room.

“I will, your Majesty.” Fanna said as he bowed once more and left the room.

“Carry on” Jerrick said to the councilors, thought he really didn’t care anymore what they had to say.

***

Kerrick loved his friends and, in all truth, he wasn’t much of a hunter, but he enjoyed being outdoors having a good time. He knew his brother Jerrick was a bit jealous that He had so much freedom, but Jerrick was king now, and his responsibilities were great. Plus Kerrick did not do this kind of thing very often. He wouldn’t pass up an opportunity though. He and Jerrick had spent so much or their youth wandering at first, and then when they had settled, they built their father a palace from which to rule. It wasn’t extravagant or anything. A simple building of stone and wood. Still, it was home, and they called it a palace because it was home.

Then, a few years ago, soon after Kerrick had turned fifty, their father had died. After that, he felt as though he was almost alone, as Jerrick was busy taking care of the palace and kingdom, and he was just…there. So the best thing to do was to get out, even if it were just for a little while.

The game seemed to be sparse that day, which was odd, because these woods always seemed to have something to offer. They had managed a few quail, a deer and a fox, but everything else seemed to have gone into hiding, as if they had disappeared. As they camped that night and cooked their quail over a fire, Kerrick couldn’t help but wonder why. “The game was sparse today,” he said to his friends. “That is unusual, don’t you think?”

“I suppose,” said Gen. “Then again, the season is changing and it will be Winter soon. They may have gone into their Winter hiding places?” Gen was slightly younger than Kerrick, and wasn’t much for hunting either.

“No.” Said Riin. “The forest seems to have emptied itself. Tat is very unusual. Not many things can have such an effect. As if they have been driven out.”

“Driven out?” Kerrick said. “But what could do that?”

“Evil.” Riin said. “They sense things that we don’t. Evil can have such an effect on them.”

“Evil…” Kerrick said. “You do not suppose that it is Trow?” He asked worriedly. If it were Trow, they would be in great danger out here in the open, as Trow could see and move easily in the dark, and the Driss could not. That was how the Trow used to conduct their massacres, Coming in the night and killing all they could while taking some and leaving only the grieving and wounded behind. A memory came to him, but he pushed it away. He did not wish to remember that right now.

“If it is, we are definitely in danger.” Riin said. He was an older Driss who came with the two younger Driss as chaperone. He knew all about the Trow and the Tresser. A scar down the left side of his face told an ugly tale of a dark encounter with them. “I think it would be wise to put out the fire.”

“Agreed.” Kerrick said. “If they do come, at least they can see us less clearly and we can see them more, if our eyes adjust.”

“Keep your swords at the ready.” Riin said. We cannot leave this place tonight, it would be too dangerous to travel at night. But we might be able to defend ourselves if we stay here and keep our backs to each other.”

“Right.” Kerrick said worriedly.

The fire was put out, and all the three Driss could do in the dark was wait. Every sound, every snapping twig, or rustling leaf put Kerrick on edge. He stayed close to Riin, but knew that if they did come, it would be hopeless. And come they did, and hopeless it was. All he saw when they did was shadows, and the flashing of knives in the moonlight. Kerrick heard Gen scream, and knew he was dead. Then he himself was grabbed, and he was thrown against a nearby tree. The air was knocked out of him, and he had to regain it before he could do anything.

Soon he knew that Riin was gone too, and they came over to where he lay, and lifted him off the ground. His energy had not returned, and he was sure that a few ribs might be broken. When they lifted him, he just hung there, waiting for them to kill him. Instead, one of them ripped the brooch off his cloak. That brooch had on it their family crest. The Trow would probably know it. Apparently they did because, instead of killing him, they bound him and took him away into the night.

2

Kerrick woke to find himself in a cave that was lit by a fire. He was bound hand and foot, and his broken ribs made sitting upon the hard floor very uncomfortable. Still he had to do something, so he sat up and looked around the cave. There were about ten Tresser in there, and at least one Trow. Man, he assumed. It was sometimes difficult to tell due to the fact that both men and women had the same pale skin and ragged teeth, as well as the black hair. Trow lived in the earth, for the most part. They lived in great cities under the ground in almost complete darkness. Still that didn’t stop them from hating just about all of the other races, especially Driss.

When the Trow saw that Kerrick was awake, it came over to him. They all wore similar white robes and walked elegantly like normal elves, or so Kerrick was told, as he had never seen elves before. Still, this creature was elegant. It came and knelt down in front of him. It reached out its hand and ran it through Kerrick hair. “Light hair.” A distinctly male voice said. “That is unusual for Driss, isn’t it?”

“I guess.” Kerrick said. “I don’t really think about it, as it’s only hair.”

“You are a lovely thing.” The Trow said. “But I have only seen women with such a hair color.”

“Yes, well if you were looking for a woman, you’re out of luck.” Kerrick said defiantly. “Why haven’t you killed me?”

The Trow continued to play with Kerrick’s hair. “You’re not dead because I don’t want you to be dead yet.” It said. “Your brother is king, isn’t he? And I have no doubt that he’ll come for you.”

“What does it matter?” Kerrick asked, becoming annoyed at the handling.

“Well, If he comes for you, I can kill him and you and be done with the entire royal Driss line, now can’t I?”

“My brother is not that stupid. Someone may come for me, but it won’t be him. Now get your filthy hands off me, you piece of shite!!”

The Trow knotted his fingers in the blond hair and pulled at it savagely, causing the Driss to cry out. “He may not be stupid, but you are. So very, very stupid.” The Trow yanked at Kerrick’s hair viciously. “If I were you, I would shut my mouth.”

“You’re filth! Let me go!!”

The Trow gave Kerrick a hard back-handed slap to the face, causing the Driss to fall over sideways. The Trow then ripped a long strip from Kerrick’s cloak and wound it around his head, gagging him with it. It wound a bit of hair in it’s fingers and yanked it out, roots an all, causing Kerrick to cry out again. “Stupid Driss. I will rip it all out before you die.” The Trow then walked away and left Kerrick to his misery.

3

Jerrick had said he would not go, but he could not leave his brother’s rescue to anyone else. He had to rescue Kerrick, and he would. He had already found the bodies of Riin and Gen. Following the trail of the Tresser in the early morning light would not be hard, as the creatures had not even tried to hide their trail as they made their way through the forest. In some ways, they did not have to. They were holding a prince now and assumed that they would have no need to hide for long. When he rescued Kerrick, he would prove them wrong.

The trail led up into the hills, which was not surprising since there were caves in those hills, and it would be the most likely hiding place for the Trow and Tresser. The Trow spent their days living underground. While they could walk under the sun, the preferred not to, since the sun hurt their eyes. That meant that they would probably be in a resting state at this point since they had been busy during the night and the sun was bright that day. He just had to find the cave they were hiding in. He crept up the hillside, watching for any sign of movement. He had not brought his armor as he had intended. He knew if he was going to do this he had to be as stealthy as possible, and armor did not make for stealth.

Jerrick thought he was being very quiet as he made his way. He was just about to check out another cave when suddenly, he was grabbed from behind, a hand covering his mouth. He was pulled into the shadows behind a rock. He was turned to look upon the face of his captor and when he saw who had taken him, he was both annoyed and relieved. The hand was removed from his mouth. “Fanna.” He said. “I am glad to see you.”

“I’m sure you are. And I am unhappy to see you. What are you doing out here, my King?”

Jerrick was embarrassed and still somewhat annoyed as he straightened himself up. “I had to come. Kerrick is my brother, my responsibility.”

“No.” Fanna said. “Your Majesty, you brother is our responsibility. You know I would have taken care of this. Do you not trust me? Do you think so little of my abilities?”

Jerrick shook his head dejectedly. “No, I do not doubt you, Fanna. However, Kerrick and I have always taken care of each other. I could not leave him out here.”

“I understand, your Majesty.” Fanna said. “Anyway, it’s too late for you to turn back now. We are almost upon them. There is a crack in the hillside some way above us. I believe that is where they are. I will scout it out. When I return, we will formulate a plan, and we will go in and get him.”

“That sounds good to me.” Jerrick said.

“I will be back soon.” Fanna said as he made ready to leave. “It shouldn’t take long. Wait here for me.”

Jerrick nodded and Fanna was off.

***

Fanna returned a short time later with news. He sat down behind the rock beside Jerrick. Jerrick was anxious to hear what the older Driss had to say.

“They have your brother and he still lives. He seems to have suffered some pain, but not so much as to incapacitate. Still, getting him out of there will not be easy. The cave houses about ten Tresser, and at least one Trow. It is well guarded so devising a plan may be difficult.”

“What are your thoughts then?” Jerrick asked worriedly.

“I have thought of a plan, but it poses much risk to you.”

“What is it?” Jerrick asked.

“That I lure them all out somehow, and while they are out of the cave, you sneak in and free your brother.”

“You’re right, that’s a slightly insane plan. However, it could work. Would it be better if I did the luring?”

“The purpose of luring is to get the majority of those you lure to follow you. It would be too dangerous for you. But if I can get most of them out of the cave, that would leave fewer of them to fight when you get in there. Also the chances that my men will catch up to me as I lead them on are good. It is safer for you to sneak in. Do you have anything bearing your royal insignia?” Fanna asked.

“There is a crest on my waist-coat I do believe.”

“Really? That’s an odd place for it.”

“My mother made this waist-coat for me for my fortieth birthday. She was very proud of me. She died not long after that. And my father died. Driss can barely stand to lose their mates sometimes. Their mates cling too closely to their hearts and when one goes, the other feels as though they must follow.”

“Yes.” Fanna said. “I know this. We Driss are very…” He searched for a word. “Romantic?”

Jerrick lifted an eyebrow in surprise. “Romantic?” He said as he began to take his jacket off. “I never would have thought that we were romantic. Still, I suppose it fits.” He took off the waist-coat and handed it to Fanna. The other Driss put it on.

“It is almost mid-day.” Fanna said. “This would be the best time to put our plan into action. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” Jerrick said. He didn’t know if he meant to say that or if he was merely trying to appear brave. Still, he had no other choice. “Let’s go.”

Fanna made his way up the hill, and Jerrick was not far behind. Jerrick satyed hidden in the shadows as Fanna stepped in front of the cave opening and shouted. “I am Jerrick, son of Merrick!! Come and get me!!” Thankfully, it worked, and the Tresser took off after the Driss as he ran back down off the hillside. Jerrick went to the cave opening and peeked inside.

At first, he saw nothing. He did see where Kerrick lay tied up, but he did not see any Trow or Tresser. Jerrick tip toed into the cave, hoping that he was right and he would not find his enemy in there. He made his way over to where Kerrick lay, and tried to untie him, but he was grabbed from behind and thrown aside. Jerrick hit the wall hard as he was tossed across the room. It too a bit for him to regain his air. When he had, he looked up to see a Trow towering over him with his brother Kerrick in its arms and and a knife to the Driss’s throat. Jerrick tried to get to his feet, but the Trow kicked him in the gut.

“I suggest you stay down, my small friend. You will not be rescuing anyone.” Jerrick lay still as the Trow took a step back, holding his brother tightly, and the knife close to his skin. So close that a bead of blood was escaping from a small cut. “As you see, I have your prince. I just wait for my Tresser to come back with your king. Or maybe they were mistaken. Maybe this rat at my feet is a king and the other Driss was merely a decoy? Thinking is not something the Tresser do especially well. However I can see in you what I need to. The elegance, regality.”

Once again, Jerrick tried to get to his feet. He was able to, but he could make no move against this creature, not while it held Kerrick. Plus the creature stood about three heads taller than Jerrick. Driss were small people. Not as small as gnomes or halflings, but small, nonetheless. Kerrick’s feet were held high off the ground.

“Why are you doing this? Why have you even come here?” Jerrick asked.

“You know the answers to these questions.” The Trow said. “The Driss are an abomination that must be wiped from this world. We will do this.”

“We’ve done nothing to you, Trow. Please, just let my brother go and I will let you pass from these lands unharmed.”

“You and I both know that you can’t make that promise. I am sure you have already put in place laws that would see all of my people destroyed.”

“I don’t want to hurt you, really I don’t, but if you don’t put my brother down…”

“Your brother…He is a stupid Driss, but I have grown rather fond of him. I think maybe when I kill you I will take him with me and keep him as a pet.”

The Trow tossed Kerrick aside, the Driss landed with a thud on the hard rock below. The Trow lifted its knife and attacked Jerrick. Jerrick was just able to fend it off with a sword hastily drawn. But the Trow was strong than him and incredibly fast. He would not hold out for long against this creature. He dodged blow after blow, attempting to stay out of the way of the Trow’s blade, but he was finally struck in the left shoulder, and fell to the ground with a cry. With a triumphant look on its face, the Trow lifted his sword, ready for the death-blow. And then it stopped, mid-swing. The bloody tip of a sword protruded from its chest. The Trow dropped the knife and fell forward. its was dead.

Kerrick was the one who had struck the blow. He walked up behind the Trow and pulled the sword out of its back. “It’s so very wise of them to just leave weapons lying about.” Kerrick said with a smile. He helped Jerrick up.

Jerrick was pained, but he knew that they had to move. “We have to get out of here.” He said to his brother. Kerrick nodded and they ran from that place and waited for Fanna’s return. Fanna arrived soon after with reinforcements, and the knowledge that all the Tresser in the band had been killed. It was over.

Back at the palace, Kerrick sat with Jerrick in the kitchen. The two of them liked the kitchen because it seemed that it was so much more private than the banquet hall. They sat and ate together and drank and talked about everything. And then the conversation got serious.

“Kerrick.” Jerrick said. “The council of the High Laudriss wish 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 brothers 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.”