On the day Trevan and Kaylan left to track the kobold, just a little before noon in the small village of Hetsdale about 50 miles north of their cabin, a gnome was laying on a small stack of firewood. Beside him was a larger stack of un-cut logs. The ax he had been using was on the ground. He was watching a kitten chasing a leaf.
His appearance was typical for a gnome. He was about three and a half feet tall. He had light tan skin, light grey hair and a short, carefully trimmed beard. His nose looked too big for his face. He was wearing a dark brown leather vest and matching knee-high boots. His shirt was light blue-grey with red and green beads tied to the bottom fringe. His breeches were made of alternating stripes of red and green cloth.
The leaf that the kitten was chasing was staying just out of reach. As the gnome moved his finger, the leaf would make a corresponding move. It landed on a small pile of leaves. The kitten crouched down and got ready to pounce on it. The gnome uttered a couple of well practiced magical words. Just as the kitten jumped, a sound came from under the leaves. It was a “snap” about as loud as someone snapping their fingers. The kitten changed directions in mid-air. Its hair stood straight up and it fell over itself trying to run backwards. It took off down the dusty street as fast as it could. The gnome laughed so hard he fell off the stack of firewood.
He was still laughing when he noticed a faint glow through his shirt. It was coming from a gem mounted on the pendent he wore around his neck. He pulled it out to look at it. He watched as the glow became steadily brighter. Looking closer he could see that the star inside had turned a ruddy color and was pointed to the west. It was still getting brighter.
The trade-stone sized gem, about one quarter of an inch across, was mounted in the center of a 3” diameter silver pendant in such a fashion that it could be seen from either side. It was a dying gift to him from his uncle.
He pulled the chain off his neck and put the pendant and chain into the front pocket of his vest so no one could see the glow. He ran into the blacksmith shop where he worked and yelled, “Enard! We have to get out of town right away, a dragon is coming!”
Enard was a six foot tall human. He was hammering on a white-hot bar of metal “Don’t bother me now, Gimble. Go back to work,” he said without looking up. “I don’t have time for whatever game you are playing.” He kept on hammering.
“But . . . “
“Back to work I said!”
Two years earlier Gimble had been caught leaving Enard’s shop one night with his arms full of new swords and knives. He admitted picking the lock and taking the items, but he insisted that he was only borrowing them for an elaborate prank he was planning. He was sentenced to work for Enard for 3 months. Enard and Gimble become close friends and Gimble continued to work for Enard after his sentence was over. He was the closest thing Gimble had to a family.
Gimble’s uncle had made him promise to keep the gem and its magical abilities a secret. Now a dragon was coming and there was no way to convince anyone without telling them about the gem. Everyone else in the small village was human and, like Enard, would not take Gimble seriously. Perhaps nothing would happen. The dragon might just be passing over. Gimble was much too frightened to stay and find out. He ran to his room in the back and threw his possessions into a carpet bag. He looked at the gem again. It was glowing brightly now. He ran as fast as he could to the trees closest to the town. He hid himself and his bag behind a tree and waited.
When people began to notice the large dragon silhouette in the sky to the west, they called others who called the children to all come out and look. It wasn’t often one saw a dragon fly by and it looked like it was going to pass directly overhead. As it got closer it became obvious that this dragon wasn’t going to just be flying over. It dove and began flying very close to the ground. When it reached the town, it circled once. The wind from his leathery wings blew the laundry from the clothes lines and the chairs from the porches. It blew up a cloud of dust as it landed in the center of the town square.
The women, children and faint of heart all ran inside and bared the doors. The horses in the corral nearest to the center of town all started kicking into the air in panic. They broke down the rail fence and ran off in several directions. Many people, the youngest and weakest in character cowered where they were standing. Only the bravest stayed their ground. Among them was Enard the blacksmith. Gimble watched from his hiding place behind the tree.
What he saw was a huge reptilian creature with red scales. Standing on all 4 feet, it was over 20 feet tall at its shoulders. It gracefully folded its huge wings over its back. The scales that covered its body formed a ridge down its back that continued down the length of its tail and up the back of its long neck to divide at the back of its head becoming two rows of horns, one along each side of its head. It spoke with a deep and thunderous voice, “I am the Abraxas, the Indestructible! I have come to honor your village with my presence. All I require from you is your gems and jewelry. Also all coins, precious metal, works of art, magical items and all other items of value. You will place them here before me so I may examine them.”
Everyone stood frozen in place, frightened and not quite understanding what was going on. The dragon reared his head, filled his mighty lungs with air and blew from his mouth a tremendous cone of fire. The men sanding near felt a wave of heat pass over them from the blast as it struck an unoccupied area between them. They shielded their faces from the heat and bright flash of light from the fire. An instant later it was over. The smell of sulfur hung in the air. A roughly circular area about 40 feet in diameter was blackened and smoke was rising from it into the air.
“You have one hour to fully comply,” the dragon said. “Obey and I will leave you and your village unspoiled. Try to keep any gems or any other treasure for yourself and I will kill all of you and burn your village to the ground. Start bringing me these items now!”
Gimble remained hidden and watched as all of the people in the village began running into their homes and shops. They quickly gathered their valuables and one by one they ran out to the dragon and dropped them in front of him. The dragon picked up each gem stone and, after careful examination, placed them in a row on the ground. He noted, but paid little attention to, the coins and other valuables.
After only a few minutes, all of the village’s treasure lay at his feet. Everyone who could overcome his or her fear stood back away from the dragon and waited. The dragon looked at them and at the pile of coins and jewelry and the row of gems. There were also a couple of swords, a suit of chainmail armor and a gold-trimmed mirror.
“Someone is holding back,” he said angrily. “There is someone here who has the gem that I am looking for. The one who has it knows what I want. Bring it to me now, or everybody dies!”
Gimble put his hand on his pendant. The dragon must somehow know about his magical gem. This must be what he was looking for. He gathered up all of his courage and decided he would give it to the dragon to save the town. Just as he was about to step out from hiding, he saw Enard climbing onto the roof of the blacksmith shop, out of view from the dragon. He was wearing a suit of light armor and carrying a longbow. He steadied himself on the roof then stood up and fired an arrow at the dragon. At the same time that he released the arrow he yelled, “Now!” and a few other armed and armored villagers stepped out to begin their attack on the dragon, three men with bows in front and two with swords behind. Enard’s arrow pierced the dragon’s side and he quickly readied another. Before the other men could react, the dragon attacked. A cone of fire caught all three of the men in front and the dragon’s tail hit the other two as they ran. Only one of the men that were caught in the fire survived. He dove to one side, tumbled to his feet and fired an arrow that struck a glancing blow off the dragon’s left wing. The two men behind were thrown by the massive tail some 60 feet and crashed into the side of a building. They didn’t move from where they landed. Enard fired another arrow. It hit the dragon’s shoulder, but did little damage. The dragon moved his hands in an odd way and spoke some words directed towards Enard. Gimble recognized this as a magical spell, but it was not one he had heard before. Enard stood motionless. It was as if he were frozen. He couldn’t move a muscle. The remaining archer fired another arrow, but it missed completely. The dragon unfolded his wings, took a wing assisted leap in the direction of the scorched archer and crushed him to death with one huge rear foot. Without pausing, he pushed off into the air and flew over to the roof where Enard was left like a statue with a fresh arrow in his bow. He dropped his bow and began to scream when the dragon snatched him off the roof and began circling higher and higher above the town square. Grabbing him must have broken the spell for he was thrashing about, trying to get loose from the vice-like grip the dragon had on him.
The dragon dropped him to his death from high above the street. Gimble turned away but heard the scream that ended abruptly with a loud thud. Gimble crept away, as the dragon proceeded to destroy the town. He crawled for some distance before he felt safe enough to get up and began to run. After about an hour, he turned and looked back. Above the forest trees he could see a column of smoke. There was no wind that day and the smoke was rising straight up. Then he saw the unmistakable silhouette circle the smoke before it flew off to the south.
He pulled out his pendant. Its light was dimming. The red star inside was pointing to the south, following the path of the dragon. Gimble decided to follow the dragon. The gem continued to glow dimly for a couple of hours before it went dark. He cut across to meet up with the road and followed it south all the rest of that day and most of the next. Near sundown he came to a clearing with the burned remains of a cabin some distance away from the road. He called to a badger he saw near the edge of the forest.
Gimble was a gnome that could talk to burring animals. Only about half of them can. It always frustrated him to talk to badgers; they are so dumb. It sometimes takes a few minutes just to say hello. This badger was mostly interested in a fresh batch of sweet wild onions he had found. After a few minutes Gimble was finally able to piece a story together. The dragon had landed here and burned down the place. There are two occupants in the cabin now, who came after the dragon left.
Gimble was dragging his carpet bag up the hill toward the cabin and called out to whoever was there. A human came out first and then a kobold. Gimble had always hated kobolds but before he could react, the kobold dashed back into the cabin and returned with a crossbow and fired at him. He felt the sharp pain in his shoulder before he passed out.