Return of Hadrach
Nazal the Spiteful
“Names” – a tale of Nazal the Spiteful as told by the bard Gunnbjörg Tjorra
This is not a tale of heroism, but it is a tale of bravery.
It is not a story of humor, but it is a story of finding joy.
It is a tale of fools and folly, of a man learning that the cold does not care.
Sixty years ago, in the year 835, Urga suffered one of the worst winters ever known. An icy blizzard descended on the area and blew for an entire month. Guards froze to death at their posts, travellers and merchants were found dead, sometimes yards from the gate. During this deadly winter, the white dragon, Nazal came and began to prey on the city of Urga.
Nazal earned his name ‘White Death’ during that blizzard. He would come swooping out of the sky, and scoop up his hapless victims, many never to be seen again. Others claim to have seen him land in the middle of a group of travellers, and with flashing tooth and claw, he would devastate all of them in seconds. On the day that first blizzard ended, it was hard to tell which people had died from the storm, and which had been killed by Nazal. Later, the dragon began demanding tribute of those he came across- They say he would insist on slaves or horseflesh, and failure to appease him would mean their destruction.
By 845, The masters of Urga had sent out four separate expeditions to trap and kill the dragon, but it only resulted in the destruction of the entire expedition, save for one last person. Nazal would leave the youngest member of the expedition alive to spread terror, warning people not to return. However, even with his infamy spreading, the idea that he let one person who attacked him live so galled Nazal that he would always find a way to pick that survivor off after they had delivered their message. One such survivor got the idea to stay out of sight until summer, when Nazal was never seen. On the longest, warmest day of the year, the survivor left Urga and fled as south as quickly as he could. The man’s plan appeared to have worked, that is, until two weeks after he had left the city, when the man’s frozen, mangled corpse fell from the sky and landed in one of the plazas of the Silver District. It was then that the people of Urga began to call the dragon Nazal the Spiteful.
That same year, Count Artem finally gave up trying to hunt down Nazal, and promised anyone who could kill the dragon would get to keep his hoard and get hefty bonus bounty of 15,000 Crowns.
It would be 28 years before a group of heroes assembled to bring the dragon down. Nine heroes and mercenaries decided they could sneak up on Nazal in his lair, where an army could not. The theory went that none of the expeditions ever found his lair, and if they could surprise the dragon, they would have a chance to succeed, where a larger expedition would be easily spotted and destroyed long before they ever got close. Piotyr Vitoli was one of those nine, and he went bravely, one of nine heroes willing to place himself between the cold fury of Nazal and the citizens of Urga.
The expedition set out on a beautiful day and their group marched into the mountains. Once there, searching the mountains was no easy task, especially in the dead of winter. Three weeks of climbing snow-capped peaks, walking through frozen passes, skirting icy gorges and sleeping in barely adequate snow caves, left Piotyr and his compatriots exhausted and at the end of their supplies. They had faced giants and worgs, and creatures beyond the ken of normal men – but then, those are different tales from this one – happier tales.
Early one morning, with the sun cresting the still, ice-capped peaks, Piotyr and his companions were discussing turning back to Urga for more supplies, when they finally spotted the monster land on a hidden stone ledge and enter a dwarven temple, nearly invisible to the human eye. Excited, the party began their final climb towards lair, and towards their destiny. It took most of the day, for the leader of their party had hired the hapless elf uchoneh Luthial, convinced they would need his magical skills. Even after weeks of climbing and descending and crawling across the icy mountains, the uchoneh was as clumsy as he was at the beginning of the expedition.
Unfortunately, the climb took so long that Nazal spotted them on the way up the mountain.
White Death attacked Piotyr and his friends, the first pass knocking the uchoneh and their cleric off the side of the mountain to their deaths. Nazal circled around and his second pass blew deadly ice and left two more of their number frozen solid. Piotyr and the remaining companions fired their crossbows in return, but the little bolts bounced harmlessly from the dragons iron-hard scales. Nazal circled around for a third pass, and their brave mountain guide leapt onto Nazal’s back. They saw the mountain guide moments later plunging to his end, having been shaken from the dragons back. Moments later, Nazal returned, clinging to the side of the cliff. With a single swipe of his claw, he slashed through Piotyr’s shield and took off his leg at the knee. Turning to the remaining three members of the party, Nazal crushed and mangled them in seconds with tooth and claw, until only Piotyr was alive. Nazal the Spiteful turned his deathly cold gaze to Piotyr, and in that moment, our friend Piotyr was certain his life was over. Nazal’s mouth opened, and took a long, deep breath of the cold air, said to him, “go, Five-toes. Tell them of my magnificence, of me bringing cold, icy death to your compatriots. Go and live, but count the blessings of your life on your remaining toes.”
A heroic man might have attacked Nezal, despite his injuries – but our Pete learned that heroism will not keep you warm.
A humorous man might have tried to befriend White Death, despite grieving for his friends – but our Pete learned that there are simpler joys to be had in hearth and home.
Our Pete may have been a fool, and through the folly of searching for glory, he found himself, and us, and a place to hold the cold back for the last 22 years, and maybe, just one more day.