'The naka-duskael had a good idea, for once. Even Helian might approve of these costumes. The treats they are offering are tasty as well, though the hard candy gets stuck between my teeth... The one named Holm in the Festival Crypt tells some decent ghost stories. There is a particularly good one about a naka-duskael named The Impaler. I have a tale or two to tell myself, if you would like to hear them. The first is of a dragon named Burnbones. The second is a naka tale called, Of Thorn and Wood .'
The Costumed Dragon is an NPC dressed up in a dragon ghost costume. He tells two stories: the classic dragon tale "Burnbones" and a biped one "Of Thorn and Wood".
There is an old game dragon hatchlings play at parties, or when friends come to stay the night, or late at night when the adults are asleep. They gather around a lava pool with much giggling and whispering, until one of them declares "this is serious!" and everyone tries to look solemn. One by one, they place treasured items from their hoards on the edge of the lava pool and look around, daring each other to place a more valuable item even closer to the glowing, molten rock.'
Once the last glittering bit of hoard is sitting by the lava, the hatchlings begin to quietly repeat a single name...
Deep into the molten rock they stare, daring the long-dead spirit to arise.
Burnbones, the Dracolich.
Burnbones, the Hoard Thief.
The stories claim that he appears as a charred skeleton, wreathed in smoke. Smoldering embers fall from him as he moves, and his eyes are black, bottomless pits. Sometimes the hatchlings imagine they see him in the churning lava - and sometimes they actually do. He doesn't appear very often, for it taxes him greatly, but a valuable trinket is a strong lure and the occasional appearance ensures every new generation of hatchlings knows his name.
When he does appear, he erupts out of the lava and lunges for the most valuable hoard items and seizes them in his mouth before the hatchlings can move to reclaim them. Usually they're so frightened that they scamper backwards, leaving all the offerings unprotected and he can claim them easily before withdrawing into the molten stone.
The cries of the hatchlings bring their parents, who listen to the frantic explanations with firm skepticism, then shoo the hatchlings to their lairs and leave them with threats of dire consequences if they don't stop all this foolishness and get some sleep. When morning comes, the hatchlings almost always decide that their imaginations got the best of them and that there is a logical explanation for the fact that their hoard items are missing. In time, they, like their parents, will forget the exhilaration and terror of these childhood tales. They may watch their children try the same game, and gently shake their heads.
Burnbones watches it all, and waits to be summoned again. He passes his time meditating upon his hoard, deep in the molten rock of his prison. He remembers every glittering gem, every biped-crafted sword, armor segment, tool, and piece of jewelry. He remembers every scale and spell. He remembers every rare and exotic item he claimed, every grave he opened and every corpse he desecrated and ransacked to get them. He remembers the fury of the mob that followed him, and the searing agony of Helian spell and Lunus chain binding him deep within his hidden hoard treasury as it was slowly flooded, condemning him to live and burn forever in a hell of molten stone.
Their fury and disgust meant nothing to him. His hoard was the biggest and the best, and he would be remembered forever for acquiring it.
Of Thorn and WoodEdit
'OUCH!' An over-sized bundle of sticks scattered to the ground. The youngling, who had been struggling to carry the burden up a steep hill, stood sucking a finger pricked by a thorn that gave the wood its name. He looked closely to make sure no sliver had lodged in his skin, for all knew that it was an ill thing to let a thornwood splinter fester.
Goods made from the gnarly wood had a rich, dark luster that brought good coin from two-legged Istarians as well as four, but few knew the secret of shaping it. Tansen began to suspect why after a long day running hither and yon, searching for trees that were scattered across the Autumn-hued grasslands north of Harro. Their ominous silence had made him jumpy. He could almost feel their presence before he spotted them. And each appeared to him like a grotesque caricature, frozen in a silent scream as it ran in fear from.. something.
Now he understood why Grandfer had warned him to take only deadwood on the ground. He couldn't bring himself to touch the trees, and shuddered at the thought of taking a limb from something that seemed almost alive. Even so, after a long day spent collecting, he was not about to lose any of the precious wood, so he carefully regathered it and was soon on his way, grinning in anticipation.
After much wheedling and cajoling, his grandfather had thrown up his hands and consented. On the morrow, Grandfer would teach him to carve thornwood. Perhaps Tansen would some day become the finest carver of thornwood in Harro, as his father had once been. The coin would surely be welcome. Mam worked hard to make ends meet, but life had been difficult since pappy disappeared with nary a word as to where or why he was going.
The pricked finger was long forgot by the time Tansen set the bundle at his grandfather's door. He hurried back downhill to the cold supper his mam had set out, and then crawled into bed to dream of fame and gold.
The moon rose full and cast its cold white light through a small window. When it touched a hand that had become twisted and swollen, Tansen started awake. In the half light, he watched in wide-eyed horror as dark streaks crept like worms from hand to elbow. In moments his skin had turned black and shriveled. Tansen knew not what magery had hold of him, but he must move quickly to stop its spread. The door banged as he ran screaming into the night.... "GRAAANFERRRR!!"
An old man watched the sun's first rays peek over the horizon. Bones creaked as he stretched muscles gone stiff from the cool Fall night. He spied the large bundle of thornwood sticks and chuckled. The boy must have spent a whole day gathering. He went inside to wrap the tools that had lain, rusting on a shelf, since the boy's father had gone missing. They were newly oiled and sharpened and ready for use once more.
When he ventured forth again, it was true day and sunlight left a shadow where none had been before. The old man gasped in surprise, for there on the hill was a thornwood tree. Frowning, he glanced at the bundle of sticks and then up at the tree again. With tools in hand, he hurried towards Harro. He paused for a moment to examine the tree more closely. His pace quickened until he was running as fast as aged legs would carry him. Throat so tight he could barely breath, he threw open a door and called his grandson's name.
Of course, there was no answer.'