DC/RH Special

DC/RH BK II, CH 25: … Once Heroes

Chapter Twenty-five: … Once Heroes

In ages past, the narrow strip of land between The Battlehammer Mountains and the Galronde Forest was left unaligned at the request of the Golden Throne. Dwarves with their stoic and stern demeanours seldom made friends with the mercurial fae and so it was thought wise to leave a buffer between their respective lands. It was never forbidden by law to roam these lands but all thought it wise to avoid them. The dwarves were notorious for protecting their mines and hidden entrances in the area and the less said of those who fell afoul of the fae, the better. Things were different now. 

Now, a town grew smack dab in this once-taboo region. The dungeon town of Black Briar sat in this poorly explored wilderness like a new landlord. The newly settled and fast-developing town of adventurers was a hub of activity and excitement, filled with explorers, traders, and mercenaries from all over the land.

Wooden shacks and rough-hewn cabins line the outskirts and sidestreets, and the sound of saws and hammers can be heard as new buildings are erected. Despite its rustic appearance, the town is alive with energy and enthusiasm. Adventurers of all kinds gather here to plan expeditions into the acclaimed ‘Realm of Valour’ and share tales of their exploits. Traders hawk their wares in the bustling market square, while blacksmiths and leatherworkers toil away in their shops, crafting weapons and armour for the next great dungeon delve.

Black Briar Town is the fastest-growing settlement in the empire and as it continues to develop and grow, it has become a beacon of opportunity and prosperity for those seeking adventure and fortune. The air is filled with the promise of new discoveries and untold riches, and every day brings with it new opportunities and challenges for those brave enough to take them on.

Today, as the sun begins to set and the shadows lengthen, a sense of unease descends upon the small town and that promise of adventure that lingers in the air acquires a very different note. Fear. Running scouts rush through the town warning of an unseelie fae creature walking out of town’s eponymous dungeon. A sense of fear and apprehension quickly spreads among the townspeople.

By this point, everyone has heard the stories. The taverns have been rife with rumours. Every adventurer knows that Thorn Clearwing and his dungeon fae have been humbled by the faerie duke who rules The Galronde. By dint of force, the fae had been forced out into the light and brought to the negotiation table. That fact should assure the adventurers. It does not. No one wants to get on the bad side of the dungeon fae and everyone with sense is hoping to not get caught in the crossfire of a fae rebellion.

It is a while before the creature appears, walking slowly and flanked on either side by two small, bright sprites. The contrast between the dark, menacing presence of the unseelie and the livelier spirits of the sprites creates a surreal and otherworldly effect, sending a wave of confusion and disorientation through the townspeople.

As the trio makes its way down the main street, the town’s gatehouse having opened without a word to let them pass; some people stop and stare, unable to make sense of the conflicting energies that seem to be at play. Others cross themselves and mutter prayers, hoping to ward off any malevolent powers that might be lurking in their midst.

Sieg watched from the sidewalk as the trio marched down the middle of the road. He had expected Thorn Clearwing to be a thing of sickly pale skin, menacing eyes, and sharp claws. The former hero was different from his legend. Brown almost mahogany-toned skin could be seen in the places his armour left uncovered. His hair was like a living, green and black flame and his eye shone light burning coals. Gossamer thin wings like those of a wasp wrapped impossibly around him like a lace cloak and at his side hung a silver rapier that oozed ill will. 

It was obvious that the brightly coloured sprites that flanked him were trying to balance out his dark energy with their lighter, more earthy nature. They flit around the faerie’s flaming head, chattering inaudibly, but their presence only served to both contrast and highlight the unseelie’s frightfully otherworldly presence. 

‘Maybe that is the point’, Sieg thought as he watched a newly stalled lamppost rust over in seconds as the faerie passed. 

Several other watchers make signs of protection, crossing their fingers or clasping holy symbols in their hands. Others cower in fear, retreating into their homes and bolting the doors and windows for fear that they might be the next target of the ominous magic.

The unseelie and its companions continue on their way, seemingly uncaring of the attention upon them. It is obvious what their goal is, the Adventurer’s Guildhall at the centre of the town. A grand and imposing building, it is the heart of the adventurer community in the surrounding area. The guildhall is made of sturdy stone and is adorned with intricate carvings and reliefs, depicting famous adventurers and heroes from throughout history as well as scenes from legendary quests.

The entrance to the guildhall is marked by a pair of tall, intricately carved, steel reinforced, wooden doors, which open onto a grand foyer. The walls of the foyer are lined with tapestries and oil paintings depicting great battles and heroic deeds, while a large chandelier hangs from the ceiling, casting a warm and welcoming light over the space. Beyond this foyer lies the main hall, a vast and impressive space filled with long wooden tables and benches, where adventurers gather to plan their expeditions and share tales of their exploits. Being relatively new, the hall is sparsely decorated but its style is enough to broadcast its mission to all newcomers. 

Sieg watches as Thorn and his companions are met at the steps of the guild by none other than the Warden himself and frowns. Things are moving in ways he cannot predict. The curious ranger would have loved to be there to hear what was going to be discussed but he knew he did not merit a seat at that table. He was far too unimportant. A feeling of stagnation and being left behind fills him and not for the first time. Walking away, he wonders to himself if his cousin and newfound friends aren’t right.

The grand council chamber of the Adventurer’s Guild is a spacious and impressive room, designed for meetings of the highest importance. The chamber is situated in the upper floors of the guildhall and can be accessed via a grand spiral staircase or a large, ornate elevator.

The walls of the chamber are lined with rich tapestries and oil paintings, depicting famous adventurers and their great deeds. The floor is made of smooth stone, with intricate patterns carved into its surface, and the ceiling is adorned with a massive chandelier that casts a warm and welcoming light over the space.

In the centre of the chamber stands a large, round table, made of polished wood and surrounded by high-backed chairs. This is where the guild council meets to discuss matters of great importance, such as major expeditions, the allocation of resources, and important policy decisions. The table is often covered with maps, charts, and various other documents, as the councillors debate and negotiate their positions.

“Welcome to the Black-Briar Dungeon Affairs Council!” Gauwyn greeted the dungeon fae. “I’m sure you remember Druidmaster Nader.”

The man nodded warily at Thorn, who nodded back.

“Count Allerton!” added the warden, gesturing towards the only person in the room who was possibly more on edge than the druid. The man greeted Thorn nervously, his eyes constantly flicking to the other side of the room.

“Master Shaper Dwali and Mage Adept Grimsby!” The dwarf gave Thorn a surprisingly friendly wave while the mage returned a simple nod.

“New in our number is Farseer Tonos”, The warden continued, leading the fae towards the giant whose wide smile seemed to take up half the room.

“… and of course, our faerie representatives, Dreamweaver Oinos and Huntsman Hazel Silverblade!”

Thorn looked at the uncomfortable expression on his son’s face and knew this was going to be a long meeting.

The dungeon knight let out a tired sigh. “That could have gone better”, he confessed to Nettle. The gold-winged sprite snorted. 

Four hours. Thorn wasn’t sure he had sat still for so long since before Makas’ rampage. The bureaucracy of the Adventurer’s Guild appeared to have only gotten worse in the century he’d been gone. The council had gone over everything in detail. 

“I didn’t know one statement on a contract could have so many sub-clauses”, Bellwhispers said, his tone equal parts fear and awe.

Now, it was Thorn’s turn to snort. The guild was covering every angle hoping to wrap the faeries involved in enough bindings that they’d have to waddle around just to do their jobs. He may have overplayed his hand with his initially aggressive approach. Thankfully, their side held the balance of power in this. The guild wanted — no — needed the dungeon open and at its best. Their master had been right about that. This meant they were forced to grant them some leeway even if they really didn’t want to.

“Laugh it up! We have to be here again tomorrow”, Nettle reminded him.

Thorn groaned. “Don’t remind me!” 

Four hours of negotiations and they weren’t even halfway done. Whatever the dungeon knight was going to say next, however, died on his lips when he watched his son step out of the Warden’s private office. He would have stood there for an untold amount of time running scenarios in his head if Nettle did not nudge him forward. Hard! He shot a harsh glare at his old friend before conceding the point.

“HAZEL!” he called out. 

The faerie huntsman turned around. Sadly, neither of them would get to say any more because the very next second, a second yell resounded through the private hall.


The dungeon knight turned to see a strangely familiar dwarf barreling towards him.

“Ulak!?” he cried out in surprise at the sight of his former party member.

The armoured dwarf let out a booming laugh before bundling him up in a tight hug. 

“LOOK AT YOU!” the boisterous dwarf exclaimed happily. “I NEARLY DIDN’T RECOGNISE YOU. WHAT’D YOU DO TO END UP TALLER THAN ME?” 

Author’s Note:

Okay. I bet you guys were expecting a father-son reunion. That’s coming but before that, here’s a reunion between two old, heroic friends.

Yep! Thorn is going to be in an interesting place for next couple of chapters.

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