Tales of As’r – Introduction, Chap I
Posted by Range Officer Rhonda on March 31, 2008
The following is an excerpt (unedited) of a fantasy piece I started in the late 1980′s:
TRAVELS OF AS’R
From Crone Maga’s hovel we hear the story of the legendary griffins. Some say the griffins were basically good, helping the good wizards of yesteryear. Long ago, several bad wizards drove the griffins so far north that a freak storm froze them in a crystal cave.
“Legend has it that only a person of the old royal magic blood can bring the griffins back and eventually free the wizards who are now trapped for eternity in the Magic Isles.”
As’r, one of the boys listening to the crone’s story, often dreams of griffins and magic. He leaves the crone’s hut to ponder her tale and to carry on his survival as a small, orphaned thief. When he is nearly caught stealing in the market, he must flee or be put in one of the labor camps where unwanted children are worked to death. He decides to run away, heading north into the woods to figure out his next move.
One night while camping, an unsettling dream comes to As’r in his sleep, parts of which he seems to have experienced before. When he wakes, he knows he must journey further north and attempt to find the Griffin’s crystal as shown to him in the dream.
During a brief capture by slavers, As’r befriends Chowt in a daring escape attempt. They find unexpected help from an innkeeper, Bozs, near the territory border. Bozs doesn’t take to the slavers so the innkeeper outfits the young men with warm clothing and food.
As rumor of a slavers’ raid party reaches the inn, the two fugitives bid Bozs a fond farewell and journey to a wise mage’s cave, of whom they had learned while in the slavers’ camp. Upon finally reaching the mage’s cave, they find the mage near death and try to nurse him back to life. He revives, somewhat, but knows his death is immanent. In exchange for a promise of a proper burial, the old mage tells them of an old rhyme that may possibly lead them to the griffin’s lair.
Tho’ trader not, I follow their trail
On dark northern mount, look up at a grail.
Thru the pass pulled by wind I was beckoned
Down to quiet deep forest I reckoned.
Two days I pushed on, ‘till like-blood
Doth the mighty river flow thru mud.
Then on a reed raft, upriver I row
Till ice forced me out into the snow.
At end of winter, the sun rose up high
And caused a great flash, ‘most blinded my eye.
Toward the beacon, till out my body gave
I made it not to the Griffin Ice Cave.
Shortly after extracting the boys’ promises of a proper burial and reciting the poem as best he remembered, the mage dies. As’r and Chowt fulfill their promise to the mage, and then make their way into the mountains. Pausing near sunset after a strenuous day, the boys build a small camp and light a warming fire. “Well, Chowt,” asks As’r, “how do you think we can find this grail thing?”
“I suppose,” comes the reply, “we must look up like the poem says – maybe for a cave or sump tin?”
“That’s it!! Look Chowt,” cries As’r, “see that rock formation? It looks like a grail! Tomorrow we head towards that pass.” After a short discussion of their plans, they both bed down, almost too excited to sleep.
The following day, they make it across the mountains after nearly freezing to death and reach a very heavy forest. Entering the forest, they stumble across a small being that only stood about one meter tall; he was very hairy and had a very deep voice (which never seemed to stop sounding). “Hey you,” the strange little man cries, “What is the meaning of destroying my snare? I was so looking forward to a rabbit to dine on.”
The two boys apologize and help him reset his snares and then begin to look around for a good camp site. Further in the woods, the two pause at hearing a loud snoring noise. “What is that?” whispers Chowt in surprise.
“I don’t know, but I sure wish that little guy was here, he…” begins As’r.
“The name’s BOGN, and I am NOT a little guy, at least not where I come from Harrumph!” And into the clearing appears Bogn with a brace of rabbits over his shoulders.
“Oh, beg pardon sir,” As’r stammers with embarrassment, “But since you are here, can you tell what that noise is?”
“Nothin’ to fear, me boys, if you’ll just help me skin these two varmints, and build a fire, why I’ll get us some food cooking. A man can’t think well with a growling stomach.” At that, he hands them each a rabbit and promptly disappears, leaving the young men to fulfill his request.
When Bogn returns, he hangs a small kettle of food over the fire that he carried with him. “I calls them noisy things Pigits cause they look like pigs and smell even worse. Fortunately for us, they’ve been foraging and found some spoiled red fruit that had fermented and they’ve gorged so much, they’ve passed out. I figured they would sleep for a time, so I sneaked over to the Pigit camp and took this here kettle.”
Making quick work of their meal, the three continue with their journey. The travelers have little trouble other than dealing with nature, something neither of the two young men have much skill at, having come from villages and such. They learn much of each other and agree to continue on and search for the Griffin’s Crystal.
As they journey north, they find winter setting in and decide to make camp for a few days and try to accumulate supplies to carry them further in their journey. As the fabled griffin Lair can only be approached in the spring time, they must hurry to find the location before the key time has passed. Following a long, cold trek through the winter snows, spring shows signs of breaking in the northern reaches. Following the clues of the wise mage’s poem, one sunset they are lead by a sharp beacon of dazzling light straight to the Griffin’s lair. In it, frozen in the ice, they find several griffins. Towards the back of the cavern a pile of multicolored crystals lie, around which is curled the largest Griffin.
As’r peers closely at the frozen seeming monster and suddenly finds himself transfixed by the stare of one eye. “Do not be scared, royal one, I cannot harm you. I have been frozen here in time for many millennium and only with the magic of all those present have I been able to remain awake long enough to impart my message to one who was foretold would come. You must be he because I detect the magic blood in you, but you do not approach or appear in the normal way. Why is that, mage?”
“I….I, uh, I’m As’r. But I don’t know why you call me mage; I am just a poor village orphan, now without a village. I received a dream and a wise old mountain mage directed me here” stammers the boy in confusion.
“Ah, me” sighs the griffin. “Very well, you’ll have to do. Take one of these eggs and guard it carefully with your life. Take it to the warm sands in the caves beneath the southern reach volcanoes. There, tend it will as it bastes in the warm sand so that the future of the griffins will not perish. Once done, you must tend my baby well, she will mature quickly and with your help, you should be able to return before winter sets again and free us. If you do not return, we will perish and the good wizards in the Magic isles will remain locked there for eternity.” With that, the griffin closes its eyes, seeming to freeze solid as the others.
“But wait,” cries As’r, “I have so many questions, can’t you tell me…”
“Alas, I cannot remain awake, good luck royal mag…” and the presence of the being could no longer be felt.
“Now that’s a fine whooped dee doo,” states the little manling, “now I suppose ye wants me to go wid ya to the south now and tote that fancy rock of yourn, huh? Well, I never! Wish you’d make up your minds, first we fight wild critters in the forest and then we have to freeze and near starve to death and now, NOW, he wants to go ALL THE WAY TO THE OTHER END OF THE WORLD, well, I…” With that said, Bogn turns and walks further in the cave.
“Chowt,” asks As’r, “will you help me too? I can’t do this alone, why; I don’t even know where to start.” Turning to the griffin, he creeps closer and chooses the large crystal egg the griffin seemed to have indicated in his speech.
“Well, As’r, I feel I owe you my life and my freedom for helping me escape the slavers, so I will go with you. I’m sure we will find the right place. Just think, a real live Griffin!” Chowt stares around the cave in awe.
Agreeing to journey together to the south, our three friends gather their belongings and the griffin crystal egg. With this adventure at a close, they ponder what new excitement awaits them as they journey south to raise the baby griffin and perhaps free the wizards one day.