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Dragon Hunt – Chapter 1, Part 1 – Tracking a Kobold
July 20, 2012Posted by on
I am writing a novel, just for fun. I will post it here in installments. Please leave comments. Criticism, critiques and corrections are welcome! I have never done this before. I am loosely basing all of the characters on Third Edition D&D. Perhaps we can all have some fun and learn a little about dragons along the way.
Trevan was only 14 years old when Kaylan, his older brother, took him on his first deer hunt. They were only going to be gone for two days so he put what he thought he might need into his backpack, grabbed his crossbow, a box of quivers and some hard bread and dried meat. It was mid summer so he wouldn’t need a heavy coat or blanket. They left at first light.
Their family’s cabin was located in a clearing in the Dark Woods forest. Contrary to its name, this part of the forest was only lightly wooded and was penetrated by many small streams. Trevan lived here with his brother and his father. He never knew his mother. His father told him that she died of a fever shortly after he was born. His father had been a ranger when he was younger, but now he was too old to get around much and spent most of his time sitting in their one room log cabin making and repairing crossbows.
At the far east side of the clearing they came to the edge of a dirt road. This was the only road in this part of the forest. It clung to the edge of the clearing. To the north it disappeared into a dense patch of pine trees. To the south it crossed a small dry creek bed before curving southeast. Across the road there were trees with light undergrowth, easy enough to walk through if you watched for thorn bushes. Trevan had played in these woods all of his life, and knew them well.
Kaylan stopped at the edge of the road, bent down onto one knee and looked closely at the tracks in the dirt. “What do you see?” he asked.
Trevan hated it when he did that. Kaylan was 5 years older than him. His father had taught him to track, and now he was teaching Trevan. He knew that his brother saw some kind of tracks in the dusty road but he could hardly see any tracks at all. The road was seldom used. Once or twice a week they would see someone on it. Usually in groups of two or three on horseback, or riding in a cart or buggy of some kind. The low morning sun angle showed up some horseshoe prints and wagon wheel tracks, but these were not recent. He knew that these were the tracks that Kaylan expected him to see. There had to be something else. There were definitely no deer tracks. He was anxious to shoot his first deer. Then he saw it. “Rabbit tracks!” he said. “They are right here next to the edge of the road.”
Then Kaylan asked, “And what was he doing?”
Trevan looked closer. After studying them for a minute he shook his head and said, “There is no way to tell. I see a couple of hops and then it gets all jumbled up. I guess he was just standing around.”
“Don’t just look at the track,” Kaylan said. “Look at everything else around them and try to think like a rabbit.”
Trevan laughed. “How am I supposed to know what a rabbit is thinking?” He looked more closely at the side of the road. There was some young grass and, “He was munching on the grass!”
“Yes, and then something frightened him. See here? He stood up on his hind legs to get a better view and then he ran off in that direction.”
“Let’s see where he went,” Trevan said as he started walking in that direction.
Kaylan said, “No, let’s see if we can find out what frightened him.” He crossed to the other side of the road and started looking around, being careful not to disturb any tracks that he might find there. It wasn’t long before he called to Trevan, who was looking several feet away. “Here it is. I think it may have been a fox. No! Look at those three claws. This was no fox. This was a kobold!”
Trevan jumped up and drew his crossbow. He had it cocked and a bolt loaded and readied before his brother could say, “Don’t worry; they only come out at night. I think the sunlight hurts their eyes or something. And, besides, it looks like there was only one of them. They would never attack anything bigger than they are unless they outnumber them by at least two to one.”
“How big are they?”
“The biggest ones are not much over three feet tall. From these tracks, it looks like this one is only a little over two feet.”
That calmed Trevan down a bit. But still. He had heard tales of kobold raids, and of their evil ways. He wasn’t sure how much of it was true, but he had no desire to meet up with one face to face. “Let’s go find a deer,” he said.
“Trevan …” Kaylan started to say something else but stopped.
“Trevan, I’m going to follow these tracks back to his lair. Why don’t you go back to the cabin? Tell Father what I am doing. He will understand. I’ll be back in a day or two. We’ll go deer hinting when I return, I promise.”
Trevan said, “Well I don’t understand. Kobolds should be avoided, not chased! And what if you do find their lair? They say that kobolds put traps all around the entrances to their lairs. That would just be too dangerous. Don’t do it!”
Kaylan thought for a minute, then said, “Have you ever seen a dragon?”
“I think I saw one fly over the cabin a couple of years ago. You know that. Anyway, what has that got to do with anything?”
“They say that kobolds are distant cousins of dragons. If I can learn more about kobolds, it might help me kill a dragon.”
“Kill a dragon? Are you nuts? First you are chasing kobolds, and now you are killing dragons! You don’t know what you are talking about!”
Kaylan said, “Our mother wasn’t killed by a fever.”
Trevan stopped fuming and stared at his brother.
Kaylan continued, “Shortly after you were born, a red dragon landed beside our cabin. We had a couple of cows then and Mother was milking one of them. Father and I were standing right over there.” He pointed to a spot in the clearing several hundred yards from the cabin. “I guess the dragon was hungry. The horse ran off, the dragon pushed mother aside and casually ate both cows. I don’t think it saw you. Mother had laid you on some hay beside a large log. While he was eating the second cow he started to step on the log. Mother screamed at him. Father and I were running to her as fast as we could. I couldn’t hear what she said, but the dragon simply turned and stepped on her. Then he flew away while he finished eating the cow. Father said he wanted to wait until you were older to tell you the truth. He didn’t want you to be afraid. I guess you are old enough now. Anyway, that is what happened and that is the day I swore to kill that dragon. I am planning on leaving next spring. If I don’t find that one, I’ll kill as many as I can.”
“I want to kill dragons too. I’m going with you when you leave.”
“You are too young, and Father will need you if I am not here.”
Trevan thought for a second. Then he said, “Okay, but I am going with you to track this kobold.”
“All right,” he said, “but keep your eyes open. You are right about kobolds setting traps.”