Chapter 5: Hope

Geshtar enjoyed the life he lead, battling dragons and rescuing the women they held captive. In his months of wandering, he had gained a reputation as a good Samaritan. After a year of this work, having never been defeated, some people feared him more than their king. When he happened to stop in a village to buy supplies, he liked to gamble on swordfights. Eventually he became rich by his swordfighting prowess; in one particularly barbaric village, almost all the men and women lined up to fight him. By the time he had defeated half of them, people had started to leave the line. He earned twenty pounds of gold that day, and decided it was time to settle down. He settled down in the next village where the people were friendly and he found a pretty girl.

Geshtar set up shop in the village he chose, making his living by training young men and women the art of swordfighting. The villagers respected him for his skill and wisdom and often came to him for advice. Chaos was living the high life, eating and sleeping to his heartís content and watching the villagers come and go. As the days passed, Geshtar fell more and more in love with Hope, the daughter of the local blacksmith.

One day as he was riding, Geshtar found Hope sitting next to a well not far from the village, weeping. Concerned, he dismounted and knelt to comfort her. Through her sobs he pieced together her story: her brother had been slain by a dragon living two daysí ride from their village. Filled with rage and compassion, he lifted her onto his horse, climbed up behind her, and rode to the village. Dropping Hope at her fatherís house, he kissed her hand, then galloped away in a thunder of hooves. He turned his horse southward and toward the dragonís lair, stopping at home to gather a few supplies and pick up Chaos. Pushing his horse hard and resting only briefly, Geshtar arrived in the town nearest the dragonís lair at midmorning. After tending to his weary horse, he wandered into an inn and asked the townspeople the whereabouts of the dragonís lair. He received a few sharp glances, and one man cautiously replied, "Death Mountain. It only brings death, boy. Few venture there, and none return."

Outside, Geshtar could see what the townsman had meant: a dark mountain to the east reached above all others, its top swirled in cloud. He felt the pit of his stomach sinking toward his boots. Recalling Hopeís distressed face, he steeled his resolve and returned to the stable. Mounting up, he rode toward Death Mountain.

An hour into the ride, he realized he hadnít slept in two days. Knowing that was no state in which to face a dragon, he once again unsaddled his horse and settled down to rest. He awoke to the shriek of a dragonÖ

On to the next chapter... (not here yet)

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