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The Tale of Anok, Part 2: The Northbound Road

Four Years after, in the taverns and places of congregation in Ryav, Woym, and Laklund, Anok would silently make his name known, and make his intentions clear, he would track and kill this Wyvern, like his childhood hero Kain Arcwin.

Of course, the reputation he garnered was more as a madman than a would-be Dragonslayer, for everyone knew that the Wyverns had been completely defeated for some time.

Moltencrag had been the only of the great Father Wyverns to survive past the breaking of Aph, and Kain had brought his head before the gates of Antramar.

So in the warmer months, when the snows of the Achovi tundra ever so fleetingly thawed, Anok would leave from the taverns and the work he took to sustain himself and attempt to track the beast himself.

He would come to realize that the dragon had been harassing many a pasture in the north, often leaving no witnesses alive, and then seemingly retreating even further north, eventually following the beasts flight leading him right to the shores of the northern Drakken straits.

Much to Anoks frustration, the Dragons activities had been put off as a band of raiders and thieves to many in the north, that was until he returned to Wovym only to hear that two men had been desperately seeking an audience with him.

A merchant and his bodyguard detachment had been travelling in a caravan, men from the far off southern realm of Grayle in Stalnia, they had supposedly repelled what they saw as a great Dragon, at the cost of many men, with only the merchant and one bodyguard surviving.

The merchant was known as Lieman Twillian, a patriarch of an aristocratic family in Grayle, he was a wealthy and prudent trader and a gifted Magi schooled in Artimere, the latter talent having been what had saved them from the Dragons wrath.

The bodyguard was Durgo Araka, he was a smith's son and former smith himself, he had lost many friends to the Dragons attack, and similarly craved vengeance as Anok did.

Together they explained to Anok that the beast had stolen many items of great import that were strapped to the saddlebag of their caravan animals, items they hoped to recover, and so they would contract Anok to lead them to where he had tracked the beast, and reward him with a great bounty if they could succeed in killing it.

Anok accepted the proposal, one step closer to his vengeance, he began to once again to plead for volunteers to accompany him on his voyage north hoping to better their odds, but even with the backing of this reputable merchant, Anok was still known locally as a Dragon-chasing madman.

He did find an old fisherman from Ebbiken who promised to take them as far as the shores of his homeland across the Drakken straits, but no further, it seemed as if the party of 3 would have to hope their odds were well enough as it was, until Firent arrived.

Firent Numund was a Gailishman from Laklund, he had left his home eastward bound and hoping to discover some great call to purpose and adventure, and upon hearing rumors of 3 madmen hiking into the uncharted north in search of a Dragon, he ecstatically sought them out to join them.

Anok was hesitant, seeing as the boy was a mere 19 years of age and would likely be of little use, but Lieman and Durgo convinced him that the lad had fire in his heart, and that could be worth more than it would seem at face value.

With their group set and their resolve sharpened, well stocked with weapons from the departed bodyguards, the 4 hunters and the sailor rode out from Wovym to the port of Norwyn.

Along the tundra road though Archov, Anok gradually got to know his companions through conversation, learning more about why this admittedly mad journey seemed worth it for them.

Lieman was old, his family back in Grayle had long considered him as good as dead, only useful for continuing to run the family's caravan as he had for all of his life.

Lucrative though it was, Lieman wanted a true legacy, not only for him but for the family of Twillian, the goods in the saddlebag meant less to Lieman at this point then the potential prestige of slaying the beast that had robbed him of them.

Durgo obviously did not see protecting his employer as worth the risk involved with pursuing what he had seen take the lives of many of his bodyguard companions, but apart from his desire to avenge those fallen brothers he also sought out a boon of prestige, but not for himself.

Durgo’s family had once been relatively successful smiths and craftsmen in Grayle, but had fallen on hard times when his father passed, and so Durgo had left his brother to run their forge while he took up bodyguard work for extra money.

He hoped that if they could slay this great beast he could perhaps salvage some of its legendary scales, enough to allow him and his brother to craft a masterpiece to boost their families fame in the realm of Graylish smithing.

Firent was a simpler man in some ways, he had left a broken and abusive household in Laklund, hoping not simply to escape his cruel family, but to escape the stale confines of his city, to find adventure in the vast unexplored lands of the north, not only to escape a bad life, but to find true freedom and satisfaction, to forge a good one.

Anok often found Firents optimism to be grating, but the boy did unboutetly have spirit, and Anok could not help but silently admire his drive towards his goal, however ambiguous and unattainable he found it.

The fisherman talked little, it seemed he simply took what meger coin was being offered by Lieman to ferry them across the straits to buy more booze when he returned home, but although not talkative he was a surprisingly outstanding cook.

At last they arrived in the small village of Norwyn on the White Bay, from here they boarded the fishermans small rickety vessel and began the perilous journey across the Drakken straits, during the voyage not one but two sudden storms nearly brought the boat down, but the sailor had a steady hand and managed to safely get the company to the stoney shores of Ekkhoulen.

Ekkhoulen and Ebbiken by any metric was a strange land, few from Aphal had ever even made the risky journey, but reports of the men living shoulder to shoulder with Linunkin and strange Dragonmen had given the village a reputation, and the party did not seek its shelter for long.

Lieman paid and thanked the fisher, they restocked with fresh salted fish for and other supplies from the market, and soon enough they had begun the treacherous hike through the furthest of the far north, westward towards where Anok had tracked the source of their common foe.
Along the way, soon the party began to notice they had been tracked from where they had set out, noticing bright eyes at time peeking out from over the hills.

Their paranoia had the party sleeping in shifts, but soon enough their collective fear revealed itself, striding calmly up to their campsite under Firents watch one night.

The group's weapons were drawn, but soon the hoarse low voice of their stalker came forward, proclaiming his peaceful intentions.

His body was wrapped in a thick suit of furs and leathers, with a hood that covered his face, but he asked them if they had come for the Dragon that lives in the mountains.

Everyone had trouble hiding their confusion, but eventually Anok spoke up, telling him that they had, and asking him if he knew where to find it.

The stranger peeled back his hood, revealing a strange, reptilian face, with the piercing orange eyes they had seen in the night.

The draconic stranger told the group that he was from Ekkhoulen, and that despite what his appearance may suggest he owed no allegiance to the Dragon they hunted, and that to the contrary, it had been the harbinger of a great tyranny over his village since it arrived, and that he sought its demise as they did.

He told them of where the Dragon lay, a great mountain they would know upon sight, called Drakespire by the people of Ekkhoulen for its peculiar shape.

Anok was unsure if this stranger was trustworthy, but he offered a token of his good will, and a tool that he hoped would aid in the Dragons death, a map leading to Drakespire, and with instructions of how to ascend to the mountains summit and the Dragons roost without being detected.

The Stranger warned the group that they would need it, and that the Dragon had many allies in the far north, ensuring them that they had been lucky he had been the one to follow them out from Ekkhoulen, and with that, he departed back towards the west.

Slightly perturbed by the strangers ominous warnings, as well as his unusual appearance, the group nonetheless continued on through the wilderness.

By nightfall of the next day they had finally spotted the mountain they sought, marked by its unusual and almost unnatural overhanging summit which gave it the appearance of a wave about to crash upon the shore it overlooked.

They made camp on a cliff overlooking the mountain, reminiscing about the strange journey that had undertaken so far, and sharing optimism about its conclusion, Firent even managed to get a laugh out of Anok with a joke about the old fisherman's cooking, the first time any in the group had seen him so much as crack a smile.

Dawn began to break and the group began to descend the cliff approaching the foothills of the looming mountain before them, as they began to scout forward for paths that could ascend to the Dragons Roost, the stormwinds began to howl again.

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