After cleaning and polishing his armor, sharpening, cleaning, and polishing his glowing sword, setting his bow and quiver against the tree next to his unrolled bedroll. Tristan picks up his sword walks to the stream and begins a relatively silent routine that he has obviously done thousands of times before, starting simple with high medium and low strikes to either side of an invisible opponent and progressing through a highly complex mock battle in which virtually every possible permutation of movement with a sword is performed.
Upper left backhand strike, riposte high, shield parry and stab at neck level…
His breathing grows more rapid, the soft footfalls of the maneuvers become ever so slightly more heavy and the speed of the routine increases. Confidence becomes obvious in his face and eyes, and he knows he’s nearer some breakthrough. He continues, the battle rising and falling in pace and timing, and after quite some time he settles back into the simple routine basic movements as his lips begin to move and he speaks in whispers to himself. His eyes become very distant.
"The trusted sorceress spoke to me the way, told me that I must find a way to separate this foreign dragon from the shell of ours. I watched as she prepared an elixir as she spoke.
“Young warrior, you must leave your squire behind, but take all that you will need for I know not what you will find along the way. I fear this is not a task you may accomplish alone, so keep an open mind if you encounter others, they may provide the crucial skills needed to accomplish your task.”
She began heating a small rounded iron pot.
“You will travel north from Caer Orkney upon the morning of the summer solstice, into the lands once watched over by the High King. Travel his road two days on horse from when you see the ruins of the great castle city. When you come to the edge of the forest press on from dawn to midday more and look for a clearing to the east, and find the ancient stone road beneath the underbrush at the south east corner of the clearing.”
Into the pot she added some herbs, a pinch of a yellow powder, two tiny red fibers, and a white trumpet like flower. It began to simmer.
“Follow the ancient road for another full day, and then upon arising on the 8th morning of your journey and preparing for travel, drink this potion and continue on till you see an ancient arch standing among the ruins of a temple.”
Marena waved her hand and the flame beneath the pot extinguished. Then she stirred in a generous dollop of honey and stirred it in.
“You will feel disoriented for this entire journey, and may encounter spirits and even fae who will attempt to trick you off your path. But it is of utmost importance that you pass beneath the arch by not long after midday while you are still under the effects of this potion.”
She then blew upon the still steaming pot and frost was visible in her breath in spite of the warm spring day.
Into a silvered chalice lined with finely woven cloth she poured the contents and she drew up the cloth pulling with it the flower and the red fibers leaving behind a crystal clear yellow liquid. Which she then poured into a waiting silvered vial and plugged with cork that she sealed with wax.
In the language of the dragon she spoke an incantation.
“Brew of mine, grant this noble soul the ability to see that which mortals cannot so that he may know where to step in the footsteps of the old gods in pursuit of his quest.”
Handing me the vial she beckoned me to bend forward. Placing the vial in my right hand, left on my shoulder she raised herself on her toes to place a kiss on my forehead.
“Be well Tristan of the Forge, the king might only know he has a friend and compatriot in you, but I know that you through this quest alone can save us from an evil Albion has never even imagined could exist.”
“I set out on the prescribed day to the sound of trumpets and cheers with a hug from the King, and a gentle knowing smile from Marena carrying the ancient infant that was not long ago her mentor and the wizard that served the high king so faithfully in both the rise and fall of the great kingdom. I do believe the infant winked at me as I smiled at Marena and saluted the king.”
Tristan brings his sword up to his face in an effortless sword salute mimicking the gesture.
“The journey was long, and barbarians attempted to prevent my travels through the forest along the high kings road. But while the final ancient path was difficult to follow I did set out on the final day after imbibing the potion so carefully prepared for me.
Tristan watches the evening sky distantly as he remembers the final morning.
“Fairies blocked my path most of the morning, attempting to entice me away from my goal. Their methods varied from alluring to conniving, but stopped short of being violent, it wasn’t long before they grew tired of the game and moved on.
“I reached the Arch at mid morning a faint shimmer present within it’s center. I only paused for a moment to orient myself to my surroundings before continuing onward through the Archway.
“The Fairies returned but only to watch in shock and horror as I approached the arch… one screamed at me obviously dismayed as I entered the archway, but my horse stepped out on the other side in front of a tree as large as a Keep tower.”
Tristan stopped there, nodding to himself and returned to the camp sheathing his sword as he entered the light of the campfire.