There’s no safety from a tempest at sea, from a dragon in it’s lair, but especially from an angry lizardman when his tail is up.
Frank had never thought he understood this island expression. It sounded a bit exaggerated he supposed, but he would come to discover that every word of it was true. From his new life on, Frank spent every waking day he lived again thankful that Thrak Yak was on his side.
He just made sure that the side he was on, wasn’t the one where the great beast was swinging his axes!
But how did Frank the Lighted, Order of Silver, start his new life? Since he wasn’t technically there, he had to hear it second hand.
“Why am I always the last to know?” He joked that evening. For the first time since he was a child, he allowed his tail to swing loose behind him in front of others. It was a liberating feeling. The little red barbed tail swung side to side, emphasizing certain words he spoke with a pause, or a jolt.
Near him was Thrak, who was watching Frank’s tail swing side to side without seeming to mean to do it. Thrak’s tail, which had grown to most of it’s original size sometime ago, began to swing along with it in time. Iricah stood between them, drinking her second helping of The King’s Grapery with Genoran. She was trying hard not to giggle into her cup as both tails were taking turns slapping her back or her legs, the table, chairs, and banging against Genoran’s armor like twin drums in a Celn parade. The fact that neither Frank, nor Thrak seemed to know that they were doing it was causing quite the laughter from the other celebrators there that night, most of whom had had a bit more than their second helping of wine!
Zy’an had gone to talk with Q, but many others were there. This lot included Taryn and Mesilla, the famous duo, the Lords of Alpha as they were known. They never missed an opportunity to open a cask of their famous brew to celebrate a Celn victory, nor did anyone else. Also at the party yet tucked away in a corner of the galley, Bolvist was arm wrestling Portia in the shadows of the lamplight. Gaelon sat there, covered partly in a blanket. He smiled at Iricah from across the space from time to time, and looked at peace, even grinning when Portia was caught stealing a few coins from the half-orc’s pockets during the bout. Next to them, a small porthole was open, and the stars shone brightly through it. The sea was calm– a few seabirds called out now and again. There was the distant sounds of a few sailors making repairs on other ships. Nearer, the sea lapped against the hull. But little of that could be heard inside.
For there was much to talk about that night in the ship’s common galley! The only thing the Celns were known for more than their superstitions was their celebratory feasts and revelry.
Frank, for the second time that evening, recalled for the hushed crowd exactly how Thrak had destroyed the traitor known as Wrath. “So here is Thrak, spinning his axes in tight circles, right? He’s looking for something to chop, to whack I suppose right Thrak? Yeah, I know big guy. So anyway he can’t find anything to attack, because duh, the whole big thing is the monster, you know? And we’re headed right for the last line of Celn ships…and…the wall is coming alive, like this huge face, the face of Wrath, and I know I’m about done…so then, there’s this electricity in the air, sizzling everything, blue bolts of lightning arcing all around us, and I yell to Thrak, “Thrak! Make the campfire!”
“Make the campfire?!” Hollered Iricah. She had not heard the tale yet and Frank thought then she must think he was crazy. “Frank, what are you even talking about?”
“Iricah,” replied Frank. “When we camp, what is the first thing we ask Thrak to do?”
“Well, his hands fumble a bit with the tent flaps and such, sorry big guy, and his tail can sometimes knock down the poles so we ask him to…” Suddenly a look of pure understanding spread across her freckled face. “We ask him to build the fire!”
Frank propped himself up a bit in his chair, a bright smile spreading across his red face. “And how do you build the fire, Thrak?”
“Are you telling me you took down one of the the three Betrayers of Mankind by making a campfire?” Asked Genoran. His mouth was hanging open, a reflection of Iricah’s face next to his own.
Frank finished, “So the last thing I remember was a huge hand reaching out from the wall and a streak of black magic coming my way, which I suppose must have killed me…but I can guess what happened…”
All eyes looked to Thrak, who unclasped his axes one at a time. He held up the weapons and swished them through the air near one another. The blades grazed, causing sparks to spray outwards. “Ssssparksssss.”
The revelers cheered and their was an eruption of laughter. Shouts of Thrak the Mighty, followed by Celn songs followed. Frank watched Thrak look confused, for he knew that the lizard man would have no idea why his greatest moment was laughed about in such a way. He chortled a bit to himself watching the others tease him.
“But how did you get out of there, Thrak?” Someone asked. “And how did you save Frank and Gaelon in the process?”
“He didn’t.” It was Zy’an, who had returned from belowdecks. He had his hands behind his back, and looked as though he had repaired a few tears in his simple robes with fresh thread. He also looked a bit deep in thought, but that wasn’t unusual for the monk. “I saw what Thrak was about to do, and placed Frank and Gaelon atop his shoulders. Then, we took a leap of faith.”
“That was some leap,” said a sailor.
“Indeed,” answered Zy’an whose somber disposition seemed to have quieted the crowd once more.
Frank tried to lighten the mood a bit. “Well, anyway, that’s how it happened. The great battle ended with Thrak building a campfire. If only I got to see any of it for once, instead of hearing about it second hand from you lot!”
“Frank,” laughed Genoran. “This time you were the last to know, because you died!” He winked at Iricah. “So you can’t really blame us for keeping it from you on this one.”
Frank took a cup of ale out of the little space in the spiral of one of his horns. He had one more cup on the other side, where the other horn was too. Roscoe had noticed earlier in the evening that they were a perfect fit for holding cups of ale, and placed both there to keep Frank hydrated, thinking that might reduce what Roscoe deduced was a fever in his skin. “Take two of these after a resurrection in the morning!” He teased.
“You people always have an excuse to keep me in the dark, don’t ya?”
“Get it,” chided Taryn, “The dark?”
Frank took a sip of his ale, and blazed his eyes at the ranger turned general. “That was a real shot in the dark, Taryn.” Taryn stared back, placing his hand on his magnificent sword hilt in a theatrical way, hand gripping the hilt. There was a pause while the two eyed each other and finally Taryn broke into a reluctant grin. “I accept defeat for this is no pun at all.” He raised his cup, guffawing and complaining he couldn’t think. Frank patted him on the shoulder and they laughed some more.
Iricah scoffed. “If I had known you would wake up with jokes this bad…”
“You’d have done it again. And again,” smiled Genoran. His diplomatic face with it’s perfect smile melted into a genuine moment of reflection. “To the men, women and all those goodly folk who gave their lighted souls so we could be here tonight and hear Frank’s terrible jokes. Cheers!”
“Hear hear!” Called those around him. This too, as it had several times already caused the raucous celebration to dwindle down. Faces grew long and thoughtful.
Frank took a pull and grew silent in thought for the cost of their victory. Forcing a smile, he looked over to Iricah and finally asked the question he had been waiting patiently to find the answer to. His voice grew serious. “So…Iricah. How did you bring me back?”
The galley grew so quiet the creaking beams of the Celn ship could be heard.
“I didn’t Frank,” she said far too seriously for the moment. She nervously brought the cup back to her lips, hiding her expression. She took a long pull herself, and when the cup pulled away, it was even more difficult to read. She opened her mouth, but closed it. She looked around at the others and tried again. “I didn’t bring him back.”
“I don’t understand,” said Frank clearly confused and perhaps a little worried if he was being honest with himself.
“I don’t either,” said Genoran looking confused as well. “Iricah. What do you mean, you didn’t bring him back? We all saw you do it.”
Iricah explained how she arrived to talk Thrak down. Everyone nodded. Frank watched her carefully. He had sensed something was wrong. Now he knew where that something lay, but not yet what it was exactly.
Thrak nodded, sharing the details of that moment in the most Thrak way possible. “I was hungry,” he tried to explain. “You brought me a chicken.”
“Wherever did you find a chicken in the middle of a naval battle?!” Someone called out, and the giggling and laughing resumed again.
“Nevermind about the chicken,” Iricah sighed and her tone hushed all once more. Frank sensed a burden in her words. Something was troubling her. “The point is when I got to Frank, his light was gone. And I was surrounded by so many.” The bard began to speak quickly, fumbling over her words. Genoran held her tightly while she continued. “I knew I couldn’t bring him back. I have never touched the Flame, as Frank and Genoran have. But I thought, for his sake, maybe for all of ours, I would try.”
A cleric named Thaedron stood across from the table and Iricah looked up into his large brown eyes. The others looked at him as well.
“I saw you, Iricah,” said the cleric. “I too hoped, prayed. But knew the flame had not returned those lost of the body back to the light. I prayed for you to bring back Frank, but the light did not find me Iricah.” Thaedron, clearly struck by the memory, bowed his head in shame.
Iricah paused to find her words. She looked exhausted just then as if just conjuring the moment was tiring. “The light did not find me either Thaedron. And that’s when the second miracle of the day happened. I felt a power flow through me, and into Frank. I saw his wounds bind, and his skin mend. I felt the breath come back to chest, the spark of life came back into his soul.”
The Celns stood around Iricah now too quietly. None would look at her, even Genoran. The Celns were a superstitious people. It was in their nature Frank knew. There was no explanation for this, and that could never mean a good thing. They all looked at Frank. Horns sprouting from his head, skin and eyes sweltering with red tints, his tail flicking behind him. There was a few quick hoots, a short peal of laughter, but none of them were merry anymore. Something had changed. A familiar sense of worry crept over Frank, and he asked the only question he could think of.
“But if it didn’t come from you, Iricah, then where did the power to bring me back come from?”
Iricah’s eyes were now filling with tears. She looked around the space and finally her eyes found one person. All eyes turned to him.
“I think it came from him.”
Zy’an stood now across from her, his hands still behind his back. Thaedron took a step back as did a few others. Genoran looked suddenly puzzled and not a small amount of worry crept across his brow. Frank looked from Iricah to Zy’an completely puzzled. He stood up from his chair. “Zy’an? You saved me, then friend?”
Zy’an though wasn’t looking at Frank. His gem like eyes still gleamed at Iricah. “Not from me, Iricah. But you’re getting warmer. Very very warm now.”