Based on the first Dragon Warrior game on the NES
**Disclaimer - This is my own take on the world of the first Dragon Warrior(Quest), and the name given the hero is one I used on my own save game. Sorry the story is so short, but gaming takes priority over my writing, so I'm sure you can see the dilemma...=)
"As this is a tale based in a world of few descriptions, I shall say that it was the year 436, just over 28 years since the great warrior Erdrick took hold of the Ball of Light and cleansed the kingdom of Alefgard of a great and terrible evil. Hmph. Ball of Light. Why couldn't the powers that be name it something more dramatic? You know, like the 'Shining Orb, or the 'Luminous Sphere'? Bah! I'll tell you why, because it shouldn't be them up there telling us what to do, it should be me! I've got more smarts then any of the brain-dead loonies running things now, and yet I'M the one stuck trudging along every beaten path, deer trail, and rocky ledge that they choose to throw at my feet!
"Oh, and in case you're wondering what the focus of this story is, you're talking to him. That's right, this is a story about my adventures. My name is...well, the minstrels refer to me as Aldrick, so that's as good a name as any. I don't remember ever being given a real name, and most of the chuckleheads around here seem to enjoy refering to me as the 'Descendant of Erdrick', as though I'm really just the shadow of a once great man. Truth be told, I'm actually Erdrick's red-headed stepchild, having no true blood relationship to the Hero of Light. Oh, the old man has plenty of full-blooded sons, but the reason I was sent to the king is because I am expendable. He seems to think that just because he wasn't the reason for my existance that somehow I'm not worthy of his name.
"In any case, here comes my bard, draggin' his off-key lute and singing in absolutely the worst pitch I have ever heard in my life. King Lorik could have sent his new hero a better set of lungs, but instead he handed me this pasty-looking runt with the lung capacity of a flea...go figure."
"Milord, might I be allowed to entertain this fellow traveller with a story from one of your past experiences? It would provide an opportunity for you to rest, and prepare for any battles you may yet have to endure before reaching the next town."
"Fine, fine, just don't go tellin' anything embarrasing about me. ...Wait, you're not going to tell him about the slime, are you?"
"No, Milord. I thought that perhaps a story that portrayed you as more of a heroic figure. Will your victory over the goldman suffice?"
"Um...Yeah, ok. While you're telling him the story, I'll be over here, sharpening my sword just out of earshot...so I can listen for enemy attacks, I mean."
"Of course, Master Aldrick. Take as long as you need. Now traveler, just wait with me a moment...there! He's out of range. Alright, now that we are free from the vulgar speech of Sir-I'm-the-New-Hero-Bow-Before-Me, I am free to tell you what has really happened to the old blowhard of late.
"Oh, and despite what he may have said to you, there is actually nothing wrong with my voice. He's simply jealous that I can actually carry a tune, while the mewling of the stray cats is prefered over his rasping voice. In fact, give him even one tankard of ale, and he'll be so tone deaf that he could wake the dead and proceed to scare them away in a single breath! But enough stalling, allow me to begin."
Aldrick, our new Hero of Light(Lord, help us!), sat under a towering elm near the edge of yet another patch of monster-ridden forest, recovering from damage taken in the afternoon's battles. How this man had made it through even one day in the wilderness was anyone's guess. This was an issue often raised in reference to the state of his garb. For many days Aldrick ventured out into the forests outside of Brecconary, and at the end of each day as the sun set he returned in the same sad state, tunic and undergarments tattered and covered in a slimey, gelatinous residue. The color of that slightly acidic goo varied on occasion, sometimes it was a pale green, at other times a bright red. Despite his victory in battle, his winnings were meager, usually only enough to pay for his room at the Inn. Gold was the currency in the land of Alefgard, and getting enough to stay fed was a chore. The leather armor he had purchased from a local shop helped him last a bit longer amongst the wildlife, but he had yet to obtain a weapon, as King Lorik of Tantagel Castle had been, shall we say, a bit stingy on providing an allowance. And so, he continued this sorry existence, each day the innkeeper handed him a sewing needle and a full tankard of frothy brown ale. When he arose the next morning, it was obvious by his appearance that the tankard had taken top priority. Again.
After several days, the new Hero of Light had finally scrounged up enough gold to afford his first real weapon: a thick, splintering wooden club. As he examined his purchase, the shopkeeper saw a look of disgust cross Aldrick's face.
"Is something the matter, milord?"
"I'd have to say there is, merchant. How is it that I am forced to pay such a steep price in gold for a piece of wood that looks like it was picked up off of the forest floor?"
"If you are certain you can obtain another weapon by just examining the area around a grove of trees, I will be quite happy to buy this weapon back from you."
Aldrick gave the club one last glance, then handed it back to the portly shopkeeper, who in turn delivered a small pouch of gold to him. However, he quickly realized that the bag felt much lighter, and upon opening it counts out only half of the original amount.
"Excuse me merchant, but there seems to be a mistake. I sold you back your weapon, but you did not restore the full weight of my gold to me."
The shopkeeper's belly jiggled as he let out a roaring laugh. Apparently, this was not the first time this kind of situation had occured, and the end result seemed to amuse him. It took a moment for him to recover and straighten his faded emerald-colored robes.
"Listen here! I don't see what could possibly be so amusing!"
"Why, good sir, I have paid you for your used weapon. I am only required to pay up to half price."
Aldrick stared incredulously at him, taking a few seconds to form a single word in his mouth.
"Used?!" he finally croaked.
"But I haven't even had the chance to use it! How can you stand there and tell me that weapon was used?"
"Sir, as soon as an item leaves the protective safety of my store shelves, it is automatically used. After it has been bought back at half price, I undergo heavy restorations in order to make it shelf worthy again. My attention to quality is what makes the price of my weapons so high."
"Surely you jest! You can't possibly be serious!"
"Oh, but I am, milord. There is nothing worse than hearing of some poor souls' death, then coming to find that it was due to an inadequately refurbished weapon. In the past, I would have looked upon those incidents as purely coincidental, but as time passes, the more misfortune is traced back to you, the less likely you are to receive customers. And travelers' gold is the only way I know to fill this belly o' mine." The merchant rubbed his rolling paunch, finishing with a light slap that sent body fat in waves around his waist.
Again our hero became speechless as his jaw hung down, his hand barely managing to catch it before it could grace the turf with it's presence. After taking a moment to reset it in place, the gears in his head finally began to turn. It was then that he knew this battle was lost, and he would be forced to earn back the money he had lost in this incident. Aldrick allowed his head to droop forward as he turned away from this experienced swindler, mentally exhausted, all the while uttering indecipherable curses under his breath.
Many days later, after he had once again earned the money necessary to puchase a club, Aldrick made his way past the rolling hills and evergreen forests along the passage to Kol. However, as a result of his inexperience in land navigation, he became irreversibly lost in a patch of poisonous marsh, and though he had finally managed to learn a heal spell, his efforts to stay conscious only delayed the inevitable. When at last he succumbed to the deadly fumes of that watery wasteland, he saw a soft glowing light, and attempted to reach for it. But fate would conspire to cause him more suffering yet, and our hero is returned to his senses, awakening with a start on a cold stone floor.
"Huh? What? How the devil am I still breathing?"
Glancing around the dimly lit hall, he finally realizes that he has somehow returned to Tantagel Castle. As his eyes adjusted to the light emanating from smoky torches along either end of the hall, he is startled by a voice coming from behind him.
"Welcome back, descendant of Erdrick."
Aldrick stood and turned to look into the knowing eyes of King Lorik, who bore a handsome smile as he began yet another one of his dramatic speeches. By the time the monarch had finished his monologue and our hero turned to leave, Aldrick noticed that his pouch had been relieved of half it's gold. This was starting to become a nasty habit as he interacted with people, so he spent several minutes exploring the room to see if the money had simply fallen to the ground. Finally, certain that it was no accident that his gold was missing, he approached the king and inquired as to the disposition of his hard-earned cash. The king smiled again and shifted into a reclining position, something he often did when addressing subjects utilizing more casual forms of conversation.
"Ah yes, you have been billed for resurrection services performed by the royal magicians. It is customary for us to accept payment after the subject is revived, but many have been reluctant to provide the fee at that point, so we abscond with it beforehand now."
Whether called for or not, Aldrick felt his anger rising, aimed mainly at this old fool who had made off with his gold. Glaring at the aging ruler, he stormed toward the throne yelling, "You stole half of my gold, you pompous old man! I worked hard to earn that, and I want it back!"
Suddenly the court guards leapt into action, forming a barrier between him and their sovereign, weapons drawn and pointed at Aldrick. King Lorik rose to his feet and stared down the would-be hero, then quickly responded in a voice that seemed impossible for such a feeble-looking individual.
"Test not my patience, you spoiled whelp of a boy! If you feel that the price of restoring your life to you was too high, the procedure can be easily reversed." He flashed an amused grin as he said, "However, what good would gold be to a dead man?"
The words of King Lorik chilled our courageous hero to his very core, and he found himself slowly backing away, only interested now in reaching the door and fleeing from the wrath of this normally pacifistic dictator. But just as quickly as he had begun, the king's temper subsided, and his wisened old face held a solemn expression.
"Come Aldrick, tell me of thine adventures so that I may list them in the Book of Records. It may save you trouble in the future."
Aldrick sighed as he reluctantly moved to stand before the king, knowing his deeds were something he did not wish to be recorded. Whether he ever manages to prove himself or not, only time will tell.
"I heard that, you sorry excuse for a minstrel!"
"Blast! He's done sharpening his sword already? So sorry, traveler, but I must be going. He'll have my head if I don't find him some cheap ale after telling of his failures! Farewell!"
All That Glitters Is Cold 2 Fanfic Competition
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