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Love And War

BOOK: Love And War
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Dragonlance - Tales 1 3 - Love and War
Dragonlance - Tales 1 3 - Love and War

Dragonlance - Tales 1 3 - Love and War Various

Dragonlance - Tales 1 3 - Love and War
FOREWORD

Fitting it is that the many years of creative work on the DRAGONLANCER saga should come to
a provisory culmination with this collection of short stories, the most pleasing and
powerful yet. Some of the writers represented in this volume are veterans of TALES 1 and
2, and certain of them will continue to write about the world of Krynn in an exciting
series of DRAGONLANCE novels in the immediate future.

“A Good Knights Tale” by Harold Bakst suitably begins this volume that has love and war as
its theme. Told by a Knight of Solamnia, it is a tale that involves both love and war -
the warring of passions of a selfish father's heart.

Love is painted in a more tender aspect in “A Painter's Vision,” by Barbara Siegel and
Scott Siegel, but then what can you expect when a dragon gets himself involved? The story
of love as sacrifice is recounted, along with the tale of the undead who haunt Darken
Wood, in another of Nick O'Donohoe's revisionist interpretations of a portion of DRAGONS
OF AUTUMN TWILIGHT.

“Hide and Go Seek” by Nancy Berberick is the story of the love friends bear each other as
Tasslehoff risks his life to save that of a kidnapped child.

“By the Measure” recounts the courage of a Knight of Solamnia fighting impossible odds.
Written by Richard A. Knaak, this is the haunting story of a young knight's courage and
devotion to his Order.

The adventures of a very young Sturm are recorded in “The Exiles” by Paul Thompson and
Tonya Carter. The boy learns his first lessons in courage, facing an evil cleric of the
Dark Queen.

A lighter moment is presented in “Heart of Goldmoon” by Laura Hickman and Kate Novak. A
tale of romance and adventure, it tells of the first meeting of Riverwind and Goldmoon and
how the Que-shu princess came to learn of the existence of the true gods.

Continuing in the romantic vein, “Raistlin's Daughter” written by myself and Dezra
Despain, relays a strange legend currently circulating in Krynn. It will end, for the time
being, the DRAGONLANCER saga with - what else - a question mark.

“Silver and Steel” is the legend of Huma's final battle with the Dark Queen. There are
many such legends about the valor of Huma, but this one, written by Kevin Randle, is a
gritty, moving account of war that will not soon be forgotten.

It is fitting that the book end with “From the Yearning for War and War's End,” Michael
Williams's poignant reminder for us all that war - though sometimes sadly necessary - is a
destroyer of both love and of life.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman A Good Knight's Tale Harold Bakst In those chaotic years just after the Cataclysm, when the frightened citizens of Xak
Tsaroth were fleeing their beloved but decimated city, there was among them a certain
half-elf by the name of Aril Witherwind, who, while others sought only refuge, took to
roaming the countryside, carrying upon his bent back a huge, black tome.

Even without his peculiar burden, which he held by a leather strap thrown across one
shoulder, Aril Witherwind was, as far as half-elves went, a strange one. Though he was
properly tall and willowy, and he had the fair hair, pale skin, and blue eyes typical of
his kind, he seemed not at all interested in his appearance and had, indeed, a
slovenliness about him: His shoes were often unbuckled, his shirt hung out of his pants,
and his hair was usually in a tangle. He often went days without shaving so that fine,
blond hairs covered his jaw like down. In addition to everything else, he wore thick,
metal-rimmed eyeglasses.

All this, though, had a simple enough explanation:

Aril Witherwind was, by his own definition, an academic. More particularly, he was one of
the many itinerant folklorists who appeared on Krynn just after the Cataclysm.

“The Cataclysm threatens to extinguish our rich past,” he would explain in his gentle but
enthusiastic voice to whoever gave him a moment of time. “And if peace should ever again
come to Krynn, we will want to know something of our traditions before everything was
destroyed.”

“But this is not the time to do it!” often came the curt response from some fleeing
traveler, sometimes with everything he owned in a wagon or in a dogcart or even upon his
own back, his family often in tow.

“Ah, but this is exactly the time to do it,” returned Aril Witherwind automatically,
“before too much is forgotten by the current sweep of events.”

“Well, good luck to you, then!” would as likely be the answer as the party hurried off to
some hopefully safer comer of Krynn.

Undaunted, Aril Witherwind criss-crossed the countryside, traversing shadowy valleys,
sun-lit fields, and sombre forests. He stopped at the occasional surviving inn, passed through refugee
encampments, and even marched along with armies, all the time asking whomever he met if he
or she knew a story that he could put into his big black book.

In time, it became clear to Aril that he usually had the best luck with the older folks -
indeed, the older the better. These grayhairs were not only the most likely to remember a
story or two, but they were the ones most likely to be interested in relating it. Perhaps
it was because they welcomed the opportunity to slow down and reminisce awhile. Or perhaps
it was because they had not much of a future to give to Krynn, only their pasts.

In any case, Aril Witherwind soon learned to seek them out almost exclusively, and his
book slowly began to fill with stories from before the Cataclysm, when Krynn had been in
what he considered its Golden Age.

He gave each story an appropriate title, and then he gave due credit to the source by
adding: “. . . as told by Henrik Hellendale, a dwarven baker” or “. . . as told by Verial
Stargazer, an elven shepherd” or “... as told by Frick Ashfell, a human woodchopper” and
so forth.

People often asked Aril what his favorite story was, but, with the professional
objectivity proper to an academic, he'd say only, “I like them all.”

But, really, if you could read his mind, there was a favorite, and that was one “. . . as
told by Barryn Warrex, a Solamnic Knight.”

It had been on a particularly lovely spring day - a day, indeed, when all of nature seemed
happy and unconcerned with the political upheaval miles away - when Aril, while traversing
the length of a grassy and flower-dotted valley, espied a knight, kneeling at the base of
the valley wall. The knight, as luck would have it, was an old one.

“Perfect,” murmured Aril to himself as he strode toward the grand man, stopping several
paces away.

At first, the old knight didn't seem to realize he had an audience. He simply continued
his kneeling, his head bowed in either deep meditation or perhaps even in respectful
prayer to the recently deposed gods of Krynn. Behind him was a low, rocky overhang, almost
a cave really, which was apparently serving as his humble, if temporary, shelter - The
Order of the Solamnic Knights, you see, had been destroyed in the Cataclysm and fallen
into disrepute, its few remaining members scattered by the four winds.

It seemed to Aril Witherwind that such events must have taken a truly terrible toll on
this fellow, maybe making him look even older than he was, for he had a drawn, haggard
face; his hair, though thick, was totally white; and his hands, clenched before him, were
gnarly, almost arthritic.

Still, Aril could see much in the man that boasted of the old grandeur of his order. He
was dressed in his full plate armor, a great sword hanging at his side, his visorless
helmet and shield resting nearby on a flat rock. And though he was kneeling, he did seem
to be quite tall - that is, long of limb. But what impressed Aril Witherwind the most was
his truly copious moustache, a long white one that drooped with a poignant flourish so
that its tips nearly brushed the ground as he knelt there.

A lot of pride must go into that moustache, mused Aril as he waited patiently for the
knight to finish whatever he was doing.

Now, all that time, the itinerant folklorist thought he was unobserved, so he was startled
when the knight, not so much as lifting his head or moving a muscle, spoke up in a deep,
though tired, voice:

“What do you want?”

“Oh! Pardon me,” said Aril Witherwind, stepping ahead, bent forward as if he were bowing,
though, in fact, he was merely carrying his heavy tome. “I didn't mean to interrupt
anything. Only, if you are done, I would like to speak with you.”

“I am in meditation.”

“So you are. But perhaps you could return to it in a moment,” suggested Aril. “This will
not take long.”

The old knight sighed deeply. “Actually, you're not interrupting much,” he said, his body
slumping from its disciplined pose. “I no longer have the concentration I once did.”

“Then we can talk?”

The knight began to rise to his feet, though it clearly took some effort. “Ach, it's
getting so I can't distinguish between the creaking in my armor and the creaking in my
bones.”

“I believe it was your armor that time,” said Aril with a smile.

At his full height, the knight indeed proved to be a very tall man, as tall as Aril, who
himself, when he did not carry his book, was a gangly fellow. And when the knight faced
him fully, Aril got goosebumps because engraved upon the knight's tarnished breastplate
was a faint rose, the famous symbol of his order.

“On the other hand, I do not feel much like talking,” said the knight sullenly, walking
right past the half-elf and seating himself upon a large rock where he leaned back against
another and gazed languidly up at the blue sky and white clouds bracketed by the opposing
walls of the valley. “I am a man of action only.”

“I quite understand,” said Aril, following. “But it does seem to me you are at the moment
- um - between actions. The thing is, I am a folklorist - ”

“Aril Witherwind.” “Yes, that's right. You've heard of me? I'm flattered.” The knight
squinted at the gangly blond person with the large book upon his back. “You are indeed a strange one.”

“It takes all kinds,” said Aril Witherwind, again with a smile. “In any case, you know why
I'm here.”

“I do not wish to talk.”

“Oh, but you must make yourself. A knight such as you surely has many wonderful tales of
derring-do, bravery. Why, this may be one of your few opportunities to set the record
straight about your order before the world forgets.”

The knight appeared unmoved at first. But then, despite himself, he tugged contemplatively
at the tip of his long moustache. “Perhaps,” he said slowly, “if I do think about it -”

“Yes, do think about it!” said Aril Witherwind as he hurried to another, smaller rock,
where he sat down, his bony knees pulled up. He brought forth his book and propped it open
on his legs. He then took from his pouch a quill and inkwell, placing the inkwell on the
ground.

“You're a pushy one,” said the knight, arching an imperious eyebrow.

“These days, a folklorist must be,” said Aril. “Now then, first thing's first: What is
your name?”

“Warrex,” said the knight growing ever more interested. He even sat up. “Barryn Warrex.”

“Is Warrex spelled with one 'r' or two?” “Two.” “Fine. Now what do you have for me? Some
tale, I bet of epic battles and falling castles, of heroic missions - “ ”No,” said the knight
thoughtfully, again pulling on his moustache, “no, I don't think so.” “Oh? Then perhaps a tale of minotaur slaying or a duel with some fierce ogre - “ ”No, no, not those either, though I've done both.“ ”Then, by all
means, you must tell of them! People one day will want to read such knightly adventures - “ ”Please!” snapped Barryn Warrex, his
old milky eyes flashing in anger. “I have no patience for this unless you will listen to the story that I
WANT to tell!”

“Of course, of course,” said Aril, closing his eyes in contrition. “Forgive me. That is,
of course, just what I want you to do.”

“To a Solamnic Knight - at least to this old Solmanic Knight - there is one thing as
important - more important - than even bravery, duty, and honor.”

“More important? My, and what would that be?” “Love.” “A tale of love? Well, that's good,
too,” said Aril Witherwind, nodding his approval and dipping his quill into the inkwell. “A knight's tale
of chivalry - ”

“I did not say 'chivalry', ” snarled Barryn Warrex. “Pardon me, I just assumed - ” “Stop
assuming, will you? This is a tale told to me when I was a mere child, long before I ever thought of becoming a knight. And though much
has happened to me since, this tale has stayed with me all these years. Indeed, these
days, it aches my heart more than ever.”

Aril was already scribbling in his book. “... more - than - ever,” he repeated as he wrote.

Barryn Warrex settled back once more, calming himself. “It is about two entwined trees in
the Forest of Wayreth - ”

“The Entwining Trees?” interrupted Aril, lifting his pert nose from his book and pushing
his slipping glasses back up with a forefinger. “I've heard of them! You know their story?”

“I do,” returned Warrex, trying to stay calmer. “Indeed, my garrulous friend, I intend to
tell it you if you would but be quiet long enough.”

“Forgive me, forgive me, it's just that this is exactly the sort of story I look for. The
Entwining Trees, yes, do go ahead, please. I won't say another word.”

The knight looked at Aril Witherwind in disbelief. But, sure enough, as he had promised,
the bespectacled half-elf said nothing further. He only hunched over his book, quill at
the ready.

Satisfied, Barryn Warrex rested his head back. Then an odd change came over him: His eyes
glassed over with a distant look, as if they were seeing something many years ago; his
ears perked as if they were likewise hearing a voice from that long ago; and when he
spoke, it seemed to be in the voice of someone else - so very long ago. . . .

Once, when the world was younger, there lived in a small, thatched cottage on the
outskirts of Gateway - where cottages were a stone's throw from each other - a certain
widower by the name of Aron Dewweb, a weaver by trade, and his young daughter, Petal, who
was considered, if not THE most beautiful, then certainly among the most beautiful human
girls for miles in any direction. Petal was slender and delicate, with a long, elegant
neck, large brown eyes, and long fair hair that reached her narrow waist.

BOOK: Love And War
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