Lizards of Sagefield Marsh
A Darlunia short story
By J L Rees
The Deranged Dragonfly Inn was bustling with chatter and rumours of a fallen star that came crashing to the ground just days prior.
Two guards of Caeropolis sat enjoying a drink and listening to the tall tales and gossip being told. A grizzled man with a wooden leg hobbled over to the pair of guards.
“I want you to go get that star for me.”
“Why would we do that?” said the blonde guard.
“Because there’s a hundred gold in it for you. Each.”
“What’s so special about it and why do you want it so badly?” said the other guard that had spikey brown hair.
“I’m Sagefield’s best blacksmith, I want to use it to make something,” The blacksmith replied.
The two guards looked at each other shrugged and agreed to retrieve the meteor for the blacksmith.
The guards had extraordinarily little information to help find where the star had fallen.
“Somewhere in the marshes. That’s helpful,” said the dark spikey haired guard.
“It’s one hundred gold each. I Callan Skysmith, could certainly use the money.” Said the blonde guard.
“Or does Onyx Brimstone, not need the money,” He continued.
“I admit it would help buy a few components and ingredients for my spell crafting,” replied Onyx.
Plop. Squelch. Slurp.
“Looks like we’ve hit the marshes,” Callan said as he puled his foot out of a puddle of sludge and tried to shake it clean.
“I think I’ve found some dry land here,” Onyx pulled his friend up onto a piece of dry land.
“This is a total guess. But, if we stay between these clumps of grass and reeds, we should stay dry.”
“I hope so,” Replied Callan.
Minutes passed when they came across a shallow looking lake with an island raised in the middle of it.
The sun had started to go down. The island started to glow with the light from torches and lanterns of the inhabitants of the island.
“Who or what do you think is on that island?” asked Onyx.
“Beats me. Wait come to think of it, I’m sure there are Lizardmen out here,” Answered Callan.
“Lizardmen? A bit sexist, I think you’ll find there are also Lizard women.”
“Okay, how about Lizard folk?” Callan answered as he stared at Onyx.
“Yea, Okay. I’m happy with that. I was just saying, I didn’t wat us to offend anybody,” Replied Onyx.
“Fine,” Callan huffed.
The two guards crept closer and closer, hopping from each piece of dry land. They reached the shore of the tiny land mass and ducked into the overgrown grass.
Tall lanterns flickered against the darkness and were spread almost equally along the coast. In the middle was a red glowing rock on a pedestal made of bones. The inhabitants of the island danced and sang around the rock with chants and hisses. On closer inspection the inhabitants were indeed Lizard people.
“Looks like that’s the rock we need,” said Callan.
“But how will we get it?” asked Onyx.
“We need a distraction,” He continued as he fumbled through his pockets.
“What are you looking for?” Callan said as he glanced between Onyx and the dancing lizards.
Onyx pulled out a wooden mechanical toy bird, wound it up and clutched it tightly in his one hand. From another pocket he pulled out his wand and cast a spell that ignited the toy bird.
“Hot, hot, hot,” He said as he aimed and released the bird towards a tent made from animal skins. Within moments the tent was ablaze. The Lizard people scattered in all directions in search of buckets of water to extinguish the flames.
“Now’s our chance,” Callan said while he dashed toward the glowing rock.
“Wait for me,” Onyx exclaimed trying to keep up with Callan.
Seconds later Callan and Onyx stood in front of the meteor. Onyx slowly stepped forward and reached for the rock. The intense heat from it began to burn his hands.
“Ouch!” he cried and searched his pockets for something to wrap around his hands. He was in luck and found gloves. Onyx slipped them on and reached for the rock again.
“Shh… I’m concentrating,” Onyx whispered back.
“Onyx. Leave the stone,” Callan suggested.
“No way, it’s what we came here for, it’s ours for the taking.”
“Seriously, Onyx leave the stone.”
“Why?” Onyx asked.
“Take a look around,” Callan instructed.
Onyx sighed and looked around.
“Oh, I’ll just put this back.” He said while he placed the meteor back on to the pedestal and gave it a reassuring pat to make sure it was placed securely. The two guards were now surrounded by hissing Lizard people.
“Run.” Onyx shouted, but it was too late, the Lizard people pounced on both of them and grappled them to the floor. Their hands were bound, and each guard was dragged up onto his feet. Pushed and prodded they were marched into a wooden cage that was swiftly locked behind them.
“Great, how do we get out of this?” Callan asked and slumped to the floor.
“We’ll figure something out,” Onyx tried to reassure Callan.
They both watched the Lizard folk scurry back and forth with buckets of water trying to put out the flames that still coming from the tent. The blaze was finally extinguished. The Lizard people went back to dancing and chanting around the meteor. After what felt like hours, a Lizard person appeared from the big tent, still smoking. He walked passed the cage, glared at the prisoners and hit the bars with his stick then hissed menacingly.
“I’m guessing that wasn’t a friendly welcome to his tribe,” Callan said.
“It definitely wasn’t,” said a voice from another cage.
In the cage sat a dwarf.
“He said, you both will be skinned for burning his tent down,” The dwarf said.
“You speak Lizardman?” Onyx asked the dwarf.
“When you’ve been here as long as I have, you pick it up.”
“How long have you been here?” asked Callan.
“A long time. I’m not sure how long to be honest,” Answered the dwarf.
“Is there anything you can tell us about them? What do they want the meteor for?” Callan enquired.
“They seem to think it gives the shaman great powers. Three tribes have already surrendered to him and joined his tribe. Now he’s planning to build an army and attack Sagefield.”
“But why? Why does he want to attack Sagefield?” Callan asked.
“They believe, since the humans built Sagefield, they have tainted the lands around the town. The lizard people and their traditions have been affected and their food supply has started to dwindle.” The dwarf explained.
“That would be why they sometimes attack the travel carts,” he continued.
It was getting late so the three prisoners decided to get some sleep. When they woke up, there seemed to be more lizard people rushing about as they prepared for war.
“We have to escape,” Onyx said.
“Do you have any other interesting items in your pockets,” asked Callan.
“Just some sleeproot. I was keeping it in case I couldn’t sleep back at the noisy Inn at Sagefield,” Onyx replied and pulled out something that looked like a parsnip, but it twinkled like it was covered in stars.
The cage rattled. Onyx and Callan looked around and saw a wild boar had charged the cage. It snorted furiously and stepped back a couple of steps before it charged and stomped into the cage again.
Onyx put the root back into his pocket and the boar turned away and snuffled around the ground near one of the tents.
“I wonder?” Onyx thought and pulled the root from his pocket again.
Instantly the boar pounced and twisted in the air. It glared at the root in Onyx’s hand. The cage shook violently after the boar charged it again.
“What are you doing?” Callan asked, “the lizard people will notice and kill us for sure.”
“No they won’t they’re too busy preparing for war,” Onyx replied.
The boar charged a final time and broke a hole in the cage bars big enough for them to escape. The problem was there was a huge, angry boar between them and escape. The boar was ready to charge once more. Onyx threw the root into the crowds of lizard folk. The boar twitched and ran straight into the crowd. In the commotion caused by the lizard warriors falling over the boar, they managed to escape.
“What about the dwarf?” Onyx asked.
“We’ll have to come back for him.”
Onyx and Callan ran and tumbled into the long grass.
“We have to warn Sagefield about the lizardmen,” Callan said.
“I don’t think we have time,” replied Onyx.
They both peered through the grass and to their dismay the lizard army was gearing themselves up to march to Sagefield.
“There’s only one thing to do. They can’t march without their leader, we need to abduct the shaman,” suggested Onyx.
“Let’s do it,” Callan agreed.
Callan and Onyx crept quietly to the shaman’s new tent, pushed open the entrance flap and snuck in. The tent was huge, you could fit a hundred people in it easily. Behind an animal skin partition they could hear hisses, the shaman was talking to someone. Onyx and Callan both looked at each other in confusion. The light from the torches around the tent showed only the shamans shadow.
“Must be giving himself a motivational talk,” Onyx said.
“Who’sss there?” the shaman asked.
The shaman ripped the partition back.
He grabbed his staff and threw a shard of ice at Onyx. Onyx dived out of the way just in time, the ice shard exploded against the tent wall and created a huge icy patch. The icy patch spread along the wall to the door flap and sealed the tent shut.
“No essscape,” the shaman hissed.
“Yeah, for you,” Callan fired back.
“Yeah, we didn’t even want to escape…pfft,” Onyx added.
Onyx whipped out his wand, Callan put up his fists. They split up to attack from both sides. The shaman twirled his staff above his head and shot another ice shard, at Callan this time. Callan was also too quick and ducked under it, he could feel the air temperature above his head drop significantly when the ice sailed above him. It gave Onyx the chance to throw a fire bolt at the shaman. The shaman hissed when the small ball of fire hit its hands. The rage built up in it’s body and he cast a wall of ice around his right side, blocking Onyx from view. He turned his attention back to Callan.
While the shaman was concentrating on Onyx, Callan had made several steps closer to the shaman. When the shaman turned back to face him, its face was met with Callan’s fist. Callan threw two more punches before the shaman kicked out and caused Callan to stumble back and trip to the floor. The shaman strode toward Callan and held up his staff and positioned it above Callan’s chest. The staff froze over. At the tip a sharp, icy spike formed and was ready to be plunged straight into Callan’s heart. Callan kicked his attackers leg, causing the shaman to collapse on top of him. He Pushed the lizard shaman off of himself and got to his feet.
The wall of ice glowed red. Onyx burst through it, his wand held out straight and a flurry of flames spewed from the tip.
“’Ello, mate. What did I miss?” he said, when the flames had subsided from his wand.
“Not a lot, I think I’m winning,” Callan answered.
The shaman scrambled to its feet. The entire tent became ice cold, then there was a roar like an animal was being torn apart. The tent around them was ripped away. Standing behind the shaman was a giant. The giant was blue with a long white beard, a horned helmet and a massive club made of stone. Behind the giant was a path of destruction, the bodies of lizard warriors were piled high. If any of them had survived they had scarpered to safety.
“Ahh… here isss my sssecurity,” the shaman said.
“You just killed half your army and the rest have run for safety,” Callan said.
“It’sss no bother, Lizzzardfolk are like rabbitsss. We lay a lot of eggsss. There’sss plenty more to build an army,” the shaman explained.
The ice giant held up his huge club.
“I ‘ates lizard peoples, I do,” it said.
“Wait a minute, you’re my ssservant, I sssummoned you,” the shaman said in surprise.
“Yes, but I was ‘av’n a nice dinner in my cave, an’ you int’rupted it. I like my dinner I does.”
“Well kill thessse humansss and you can go back to your nicccce dinner.”
“No,” said the giant.
He grabbed the shaman by the neck, threw it into the air and swung his club like he was playing baseball. The shaman flew through the air and landed in the swampy marshes on the other side of the island. The giant turned towards Callan and Onyx.
“You guys ‘ave a good day. I’m goin’ to ‘ave my dinner,” he said and slumped off into the swamp walking towards a mountain in the distance.
“The dwarf,” Onyx cried.
To their surprise the small man was running after the giant.
“Do you live anywhere near the Blue dwarf clan?” he yelled after the giant.
“You,” the giant answered.
“Wait for me, I’ll come with you.”
The giant and dwarf disappeared into the swamp. The dwarf did any way; the swamp, reeds and grass came to the giant’s knees. The dwarf reappeared seconds later climbing up the giants back.
“Oh let’s get this meteor and go home,” Callan said.
With his hands wrapped in his robe sleeves, Onyx picked up the stone and they headed back to Sagefield. They walked to the blacksmith and handed over the stone. In return they received the gold promised to them as payment and promptly left.
“I can’t wait to get back home,” Onyx said.
The two guards returned home to Caeropolis the capitol city of Quaydosia.