The reluctant adventurer

chapter 1 dragonfire castle

I really did not want to be an adventurer in the first place. The trouble was, I didn't want to be anything else either. My father had been a cobbler and was keen for me to learn his trade. I watched him as a young boy, but my efforts were never neat enough and I was not patient enough to put in the hard work to practice and improve. My head was always in the clouds. I dreamed of some day meeting a dragon. I'd heard tales of a place where magic was commonplace. That was where I wanted to be, not some poor backwater village!
As I grew older, my mother despaired of me. Without a trade, I would not earn any money of my own. Without any money, I would not be able to provide for a wife and family of my own. Without a wife and family, I would be naught but a common street beggar.
At the tender age of fourteen, she turned me out of the house to find my fortune.
She told me to heard to city that was paved with gold. All you needed to do to become rich was bend down and pick up the coins that lay everywhere. But as I entered the city, I found nothing but dirt and vermin in the streets. I was fascinated by the hustle and bustle. Everyone had somewhere to go. I hid in the shadows and listened to what they had to say, eager of how I could make easy money.
I found myself a job at an inn. The job paid only a few pennies that was only enough to pay for a meagre bowl of soup twice a week. However, it was a roof over my head, even though my bed was only a thin layer of straw on the flagstones of the pub. My job was not difficult. All I had to do was gather in the empty glasses and tankards and place them on the bar for washing. It was an ideal job for listening in to drunken tales of bravery and grandeur.
One evening a storyteller sat by a fireside in and told about a place, not too far away. He said:
"A thousand years have passed since the evil wizard T'Siraman fell, but men still fear to enter his dark fortress of Dragonfire Castle, which squads grim and brooding atop Wyrm's Crag. In the villages that huddle it's shadow, stories are whispered of the fabulous treasures which fill the castle's dungeons and of the things which guard them. Old men draw closer to their fires and tell of the noises which echo across the valley at night, when the castle takes on a malign life of it's own. Few indeed return in daylight; their eyes are troubled and they are reluctant to tell of their adventures. None has ever returned after nightfall."
When everyone else had gone, I was so intrigued with the place that I asked the storyteller questions. He believed the tales to be true. He claimed to have passed by the sinister place himself. He said it gave a sense of foreboding throughout the valley where it stood.
He claimed a great prince had lived there. He was rich beyond anyone's wildest dreams. He had courted a beautiful young lady and wanted to marry her, but he had found that all was not as it seemed. She was actually a warty old hag who had cast a spell upon herself to make herself more attractive. The prince had attempted to kill her, the witch responded with a curse, which ails him still. The prince is now a terrible dragon who lives in the treasure chamber at the centre of the dungeons at the castle. He sleeps during the day and preys on stray adventurers who linger in the dungeon after dark. Sometimes, under the cover of darkness, the dragon would leave the castle, it would feed upon calves and lambs and swallow little babies alive.
I understood the dragon was not to be underestimated... but if he slept during the day, then the treasure lay unguarded...
The storyteller told me that even during the day the dungeons were dangerous. He said there were dead ends, monsters, and traps.

That night I hardly slept thinking about the castle and it's treasure. I thought that maybe the dangers had been exaggerated to put off people just walking in and helping themselves to treasure. I had already found out that the city streets were not paved with gold as I had been promised. I had to find my own fortune in life. I did not want to sweep floors and gather glasses all my life.
The next day, I set off in the direction of Dragonfire Castle.

I travelled for two days before I arrived in the late afternoon. I was not the first to arrive. Three others had the same intentions as I. Sir Rohan the Knight, with his shining armour and great sword, Ulf Grimhand, a barbarian from the far north with his huge double headed axe and El-Adrian the Ranger, with his deadly longbow and forester's short-sword. And who was I? I was Volrick the Brave, a swaggering adventurer armed with nothing more than a chopping knife that I had stolen from the kitchens of the inn and a wooden torch.
Early the next morning, the light of sunrise began to burn off the autumn mist. Four pairs of eyes looked towards the spiralling staircase of the keep. Four minds reflected on the villagers' tales and four hands tightened their grip on four weapons. Fools or heroes? Only time would tell.

We descended the stairs together, but took different routes when we reached the bottom. The smell the damp stone walls permeated the air. I took a deep breath. One piece of treasure would be all that I needed to keep me in unaccustomed luxury for years. I wouldn't have to work hard. I could have my own servants. I could build my own castle. With this in mind, yet shaking in my boots, I took my first step forward into the dungeon.
As soon as I stepped inside I heard a loud metallic sound and then a crash behind me. I large metal portcullis had come down, blocking my exit. If I was to get out of here alive, I wound have to find another way out. I had a look around the room and found a few coins. I now had more cash than I had ever owned. I only had to find a way out to make the trip worth the effort.
I walked through an exit to the east and down a long corridor to the next room. This room had stairs leading down to the catacombs that I was not ready to explore. I found some more coins as well. I took an exit from this room to the north. Luckily, I was still young and sprightly as I only just missed being hit with a swinging blade! I recovered my composure and continued north, finding more coins on the way. I came across a door, but I ignored it and continued to the next room. Unfortunately. This was a dead end. I retreated back to the room with the door, but opening it released a spear trap that injured my leg. I stopped, briefly to take care of my wound, then proceeded to the next room. Another portcullis descended behind me. The room had no exit, but I found a loose floor tile which triggered a secret door. I went through the secret door, but found myself at the top of a very narrow ledge with a great chasm beneath me. Cautiously and absolutely terrified, I negotiated the ledge. I was grateful that the ledge led me further south, hopefully, nearer to another exit rather than deeper into the dungeon.
I fought my way through a room full of spiders webs, I saw no spiders and could only guess that a spider of a great size could have created such a web. I thought myself lucky that the spider was not home.
I felt like I was going the wrong way, but I had no choice but to follow the maze of rooms and tunnels.

Then suddenly, I entered a large room with a peculiar green glow about it. A large dragon was asleep on top of a massive pile of treasure. I considered leaving straight away. I did not need any more money. I had enough. However, I had to find a different exit. I saw a corridor at the other side of the room. With a bit of luck that would lead me directly outside.
I hesitated on the way. The dragon was fast asleep. Maybe he would not notice if I picked up one or two bits of treasure. I watched the dragon for any changes in his breathing and managed to shove in six pieces of treasure. I dared not risk taking any more. I was in a dangerous enough situation as it was!
I wound my way around the rooms and corridors. I found a few more coins and another set of stairs to the catacombs. One room I entered appeared to be a dead end. However, as I turned around to go back the way that I came, I heard a loud grinding noise. Stone grinding against stone. I felt the whole room vibrating, then I realised the floor was moving. When I left the room, I was somewhere I'd not been before. The whole room had rotated! Phew! I was lucky to be alive! But it was not over yet!
I survived a cave-in and passed through a crypt, but did not find anything else of interest. Finally, I found another tower with stairs leading up and out of the dungeon. I had escaped! Not only that, I had not met any scary monsters (other than the sleeping dragon) and I had lots of treasure.
I left the castle directly. It was late afternoon. I was glad I had not stayed in there much longer.
I headed down the steep path to the village to get some well needed sustenance and find someone who could give me a value of the treasures that I had plundered. It was more than I had ever imagined and I saw myself living like a king for the rest of my life.
13 chapters, created StoryListingCard.php 5 years , updated 5 years
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Comments

Aquarius64 5 years
Note bontaque, it’s not finished yet! There’s still several expansions to explore before the final finale.
Bon 5 years
How crazy!! I just came home from work to a board game nightmare the guys just went out to get food so I thought I'd check some of the latest stories.

I'm literally sitting in front of a half set up game of talisman. Looking forward to reading!!