Lorekeeper I: Chapter 8 – Half and Half
Is my goblet half full, or half empty?
It depends whether I’m pouring or drinking!
–Brian the Luck
Anyone who says men are the worst at asking directions, has never seen a lost Dragon.
To be fair, it is a proven universal fact that the males of every species are not gifted in the skill of direction-asking. Dwarven males would rather dig a tunnel for 10 years into dense granite than admit ignorance by asking ‘which way to the gold?’. Elven males will dance around aimlessly in the woods all evening, instead of suffering the uniquely Elven social stigma of asking ‘which way to the party?’ And Orcish brutes will just start killing unfortunate passers-by rather than suffer the ultimate barbaric indignity of asking ‘which way to the battle?’. Don’t even get me started on Centaurs…
It’s a different kettle of wyrms for Dragons though.
By the time a Dragon lands to ask for directions, everything within half a mile has either fled, or taken shelter beneath a stray piece of masonry. About the only source of directions for Dragons is other Dragons, and being, well, Dragons – a sarcastic and supercilious, grossly overpowered, overconfident, and overbearing race – they tend, for the most part, to not be very helpful. The best you usually get from another Dragon is a riddle, and when you’re just looking for a late night snack, the last thing you need to hear from another smug-looking Dragon is ‘You seek snacks? Then approach the eye of the moon, and when the rune of withering calls to the midnight crow, snacks there will be!”
You see what I mean?
This is true for both male and female Dragons by the way, so on the bright side, at least it’s nice to see one race making strides towards gender equality, albeit in an area that nobody really wanted in the first place.
Which brings us back to Dimetraxia. She was lost, tired, and frustrated.
At least she wasn’t hungry.. The lands of Stormheim were filled with Arctic Foxes to snack on. Don’t judge – Dragons aren’t vegetarians, and a family of soft fluffy white snow foxes, is the Dragon equivalent of eating marshmallows
Dimetraxia had been searching for this Halfgrim Halfgiant character for almost a week now. She’d even tried flying down to small settlements to ask directions, and been rewarded in one case with an arrow to the nose, and in the other case by watching 50 people go running to hide in a snowdrift, including one wrinkled old woman with a humorous limp.
And so she’d gone back to circling, day after day, methodically moving from area to area, looking for any sign of whatever a Halfgiant was. It would also have helped if her eyesight wasn’t so bad. Couldn’t this Medea have found a younger Dragon to help?
On the seventh day, as she was about to call an end to her search, she caught sight of a dark vertical line on the horizon. That usually meant smoke, and smoke meant either battle, fire, or another Dragon. It was worth investigating.
When Dimetraxia flew closer, she could vaguely make out the shape of an army far below. She couldn’t make out exactly what the army compromised, but the sickly ale-sweat-and-dust smell indicated that at least a few Dwarves were present.
She decided to try her luck again.
Swooping over an army ended poorly for her last time, so she landed a half-mile away, close enough that she’d be seen, and far enough that she’d be safe from arrows.
And she waited.
It wasn’t long before she heard, then saw, group approaching her.
There were five in the group. Four on horses, including a Dwarf who looked about as uncomfortable on the beast as a Dwarf can look. The fifth warrior was walking though, striding effortlessly through the snow, and by virtue of the fact that he was eight foot tall, he kept up with the horses just fine. He was well muscled, probably under-dressed for the weather, and strangest of all, his skin was blue. To top it off, his hair and beard were fiery red, and he had a greataxe and an enormous blue shield strapped across his back. Why did everyone she met lately have blue skin, Dimetraxia mused?
Then he stepped forward.
“I am Halfgrim Halfgiant,” he announced proudly, pounding his chest with a meaty fist. “What is your purpose here, Dragon?”
He didn’t sound at all scared. Dimetraxia figured he’d probably never needed to hide under a stray piece of masonry in his life, if he could even have found a stray piece that big.
“My name is Dimetraxia,” the Dragon replied, bowing her head politely – she hoped these creatures understood the gesture. “I’ve been looking for you, Halfgrim.”
The blue-skinned Warrior grinned, and with a swift motion unlimbered his huge axe.
“That is what Halfgrim had hoped,” he said, menacingly.
“Oh, not to fight you,” Dimetraxia snorted. “I’m here to talk.”
Halfgrim looked confused, perhaps even a little offended, and slowly began to put his axe away.
“Talk?” he asked, warily.
“Yes, talk,” the Dragon replied, emphatically. “No hitting. No burning. No biting – from either of us. Just talk, okay?”
“Talk then,” Halfgrim grunted.
“I was sent to find you,” Dimetraxia began, “to ask for your help.”
“Help? What does a Dragon need help with?”
“Not just a Dragon. A lot people need your help too. There is going to be another Blight.”
“Blight?” Halfgrim looked confused again. Dimetraxia suspected he had some experience with that particular emotion.
“Daemons,” the Dragon clarified. “A lot of Daemons are coming, and I was told you kill Daemons.”
“Daemons…” Halfgrim’s eyes glinted. “Halfgrim kills them. Big ones, small ones, it doesn’t matter to Halfgrim. Daemons have been everywhere in Stormheim of late. We slew three score today.”
Dimetraxia was impressed. Both by the number of Daemons slain, and the fact that Halfgrim seemed to be able to count so high.
“There is just one small problem,” the Dragon said.
“Problem?” Halfgrim looked confused yet again.
“I don’t know where the Daemons are,” she admitted.
“Silly Dragon!” The Halfgiant laughed. “You just tell Halfgrim where they are, and he will come kill your Daemons! How many are there?”
“Thousands,” Dimetraxia admitted. “Maybe tens of thousands.”
Halfgrim’s eyes lit up, and he looked a little deranged. Dimetraxia took that as a good sign.
The Halfgiant held out his hand – it was like a monstrous soup ladle – then spat into it. And offered it to the Dragon.
“Deal,” he stated.
Dimetraxia awkwardly stepped forward and lifted her foot with a claw extended. Halfgrim grabbed it and shook it enthusiastically. It seemed the bargain was made.
“I have one question for you though,” Dimetraxia said as she freed her talon. The Halfgiant’s grip was fierce.
“Ask,” Halfgrim declared.
“In all my years on Krystara, I’ve never met a Halfgiant before. Are you really half a giant?”
“Father was man,” Halfgrim nodded. “Mother was Giant.”
“How does that even…” Dimetraxia trailed off.
“Father was brave,” Halfgrim’s deranged smile was back. “Father built stepladder.”
“Anyway,” the Dragon quickly changed the subject. “I have others I must talk with. Thank you Halfgrim, for your offer of help. I need to learn where the Blight will be. When I know, I will find you.”
“Look for the battle,” the Halfgiant nodded. “Halfgrim will be slaying Daemons.”
And with that, Dimetraxia leapt into the air, her old leathery wings unfurling and lifting her high into the clouds, where she turned west towards the kingdom of Urskaya. This Sorceress. Medea, may not have known where the Blight would be, but the Dragon would bet that the old seer of the north, Baba Yaga, would know more.
A short time later, Halfgrim strode into camp, his entourage in tow. He had laughed all the way back.
“What’s up with the boss?” One of his men asked.
The Dwarf who’d ridden out with him, climbed down awkwardly from his horse.
“Halfgrim’s havin’ a good day,” he said gruffly. “Killed Daemons. Found more Daemons to kill. Shook hands with a Dragon, AND the ol’ git managed to convince somebody else ‘is father were a Human, and ‘is mother were a Giant.”