By Lucas White

Lucas was a healer that had become a regular at the tavern. The mouse was not even three feet high, but had a history of charming other patrons with his many adventures across the world.

Lucas said, “Gabe! Sit closer friend, I was looking through my travel logs, and remembered another story last night.”

Some were self-conscious, and didn’t want to appear like they were interested for having less exciting lives. Others, as well as Gabe, sat closer to the mouse, in anticipation of another outlandish tale.

Erica, a seafaring wolfess, interjected “Who do you think you’re fooling Lucas? You would have died long ago had any of these stories been true.”

Gabe, a veteran guard who was off duty, replied “Let us enjoy ourselves woman, he’s not here to steal your thunder. You will have your time again when our little healer leaves.”

The tale began with Lucas traveling with a good friend of his, Lazy. She was a fennec who possessed a small frame, but was of an average size unlike Lucas. Between the two, neither were worthy of combat, but facing dangerous situations in spite of their weaknesses would sometimes give a different view of courage.

They had been on the trail of The Black Knight of Talimur, a cursed warrior that was hell-bent on slaying any dragons he could. He did so for no greater purpose than to sate his appetite for violence, whether a dragon was good or evil, it did not matter to him.

Lucas deviated from the story, “I was so terrified of him. I saw his atrocities in my dreams, and logged them whenever I could. This monster went so far as to even orchestrate a war by framing a nation with the murder of a queen! But I knew he was coming for this dragoness; her reputation as a powerful enchanter betrayed her you see.”

The healer had traveled through unforgiving lands before. Their journey brought them through an icy tundra, and into the winding paths of a dormant volcano. Lazy had an excellent sense of direction, which gave them a better idea of where the lair might be. They conferred to each other’s traveling experiences often, as Lucas had a better general sense of where they were with the help neighboring towns had given them. The two were nervous about trespassing upon the dragon’s home, as they also knew people were offered to appease the dragon.

Lucas explained, “But this dragoness was like nothing I had seen before. She was small, smaller than Lazy, with black and white feathers that covered a delicate frame. Oh, but she had the strength of a true dragon, that would be demonstrated soon. But for now, I captivated her interest. She thought we were another offering from one of the villages.”

At first, she would not listen. Like in most situations, I was at her mercy, being lifted effortlessly off the ground while she examined me with keen judgement. I said, “No, y- you’re in terrible danger! The Cursed Knight learned of your reputation, that you’re a dragon.”

“Little man, are you so foolish? His blade is nothing compared to mine, and I need no council from a toy like you.” But she paused, looked over me, and slowly placed me on the ground. Lazy grabbed hold of me to take me out of harm’s way, for she was much faster than I. At the mouth of the cave we all saw Him, resting on the hilt of his hideous serrated blade, staring coldly at the dragoness through his black armor.

The demonic knight’s voice resonated over the lair, “So the small one is to blame for my recent challenges. How fortunate for me to encounter the both of you.” The dragoness looked surprised, and saw the fear me and Lazy expressed for being in his presence for the first time.

Lazy protested, she didn’t always appreciate the magnitude of our adventures, of how much was being put at stake “Lucas! I don’t want to die! Why did we have to come to a place like this?”

Asil, the dragoness, confidently lifter her spear to The Black Knight. Her enchanted weapon began to resonate with power, blue veins of arcane energy trailing over the blades. “I see now, you trap my kind within the safety of their own lairs to keep them grounded. But I still have room to fly within these walls.”

The knight chuckled. “Such was the last words of your brothers and sisters.” He began to approach in a leisurely gait, his blade now resting upon his shoulder. “How quick they were to plea for their wretched little lives. It is always my pleasure to humble the great egos of dragon kind.”

Asil’s weapon fired upon The Black Knight with a powerful arc of lightning! It stopped him for a moment, for I did not believe he was invincible. However, that was part of his image, wasn’t it? He loved to terrify his prey into thinking he was unstoppable, and Asil was suddenly much more alarmed by the strength of the warrior she now faced! He too moved with a wicked speed that matched her own, burying his blade down upon her with his greater size and weight while she held her ground with her enchanted spear. She managed to divert his attack, and used her wings to propel herself back for a more advantageous distance.

He was so close to me in that moment, I tried to run away with Lazy, but he tore me right off her shoulders in a moment of opportunity and hurled me out of the lair. I was dazed by the force he threw me with, falling to my imminent doom down the mountain until I was caught by Asil. I pleaded with her, “Lazy! Please, don’t leave her in there alone!”

Asil dropped me just outside the cave, and engaged the knight again with a strike from behind while he had Lazy cornered. Her blade managed to pierce his enchanted armor, but he twisted around to crash his blade upon her spear again, as the pain he felt seemed to fuel his attack with more power. For a moment, I heard the cries of the souls he consumed, he drew on their agony to fuel his power. The strike brought Asil to her knee, and even put a crack in her powerful weapon. With martial wisdom behind her movements, she deflected the strike again, the three of us together at the mouth of the lair.

“My dear, are you having trouble? Come now, and I will cure the sickness that is your lives.”

Meanwhile, I used all the mana I had for one desperate gambit. Time was an element of healing magic, so I isolated it to use the most powerful sorcery I could with my awakened spirit. Asil wanted to defend her home, but I knew this was a losing battle.

I whispered briefly to honor the deity who allowed the use of this sorcery “Chronus, master of time. Permit us to step outside your domain, and live to honor you again.” I had never cast such a powerful time spell before, and The Aether drank from my own life force to complete the spell. I saw the Demon Knight stop in his tracks before I lost my breath. I felt my heart stop, and my vision went black.

Lucas wrapped up the tale at the tavern, “Lazy told me later that Asil carried us to safety. That I had almost managed to stop time so that The Black Knight could no longer follow us.”

Erica seemed skeptical still, “Really, Time Magic? How convenient.”

Gabe chimed in to challenge her “Show us some magic Lucas! That’ll make… erm…”

Lazy was at the tavern now too, and gave a soft slap to the back of Lucas’ head. It caused him to spill his drink. The mouse looked over his shoulder meekly, having a good sense of what was going on. Some of the patrons laughed at the scene.

“Stupid mouse! Do you have to drink all of the time?” Lazy was mad at him, but couldn’t stay mad at her friend with all the things they’ve been through.

“I’m sorry. I was just having some fun before we set off again.” She took the little guy and put him on her back.

Erica seemed to lighten up after witnessing this scene, maybe she even started to believe the tale, “Aww Lucas, that’s adorable. I’ll cover your tab today little one, just come back again sometime.”

With a brief valediction, they were off to another adventure. Lazy and Lucas, set off to make whatever difference they could. Some tales tell of heroes who defend the helpless, protect lives, and uphold ideals, but their story had always been about saving lives. They did not need strength to make a difference. Our will to do good by others was enough to make that difference.

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