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Humakt and the Crystal Dragon

Or "Humakt Hijacks a Vadrudi Heroquest"
as told by Blackbeak the Deathdrake
By Reinier Dobbelmann with apologies to Trotsky

One day Humakt was wandering in a dry, hard land. The sun was hot and he was tired; he had been cleaning up another mess that his ex- brother Orlanth had made. Presently he came to a cool place where Chalana Arroy and Ernalda had made a camp. They healed his wounds and gave him food and drink. In return he offered to do them a favor.

Chalana Arroy and Ernalda look at each other and then look at the ground. Then Ernalda says, "Well… Orlanth is away … again … and Heler is tired." Humakt glances at where Heler should be but he is not there. Then Raven giggles, but Humakt doesn't get it.

Relieved, Ernalda winks at Chalana and continues, "Look Humakt, Heler can't help us right now and we need water. Can you help us?" Humakt looks doubtful, but Raven says yes and Humakt knows better than to doubt his scout, so he tells Ernalda he'll see what he can do.

The first thing Humakt does is to go talk to Heler. He finds him in the sleeping tent tied up in the sheets and looking sheepish. Humakt cuts him loose but Heler looks terrible; there are dark circles under his eyes and he looks all shriveled. His fur is patchy and there are tufts of wool scattered around the tent. "Ugh ... thanks Humakt," he says, rolling over to put his head under a pillow. The Death God asks him for water, but Heler groans and says "Please, let me sleep now. I don't have the energy to play anymore." But Humakt is impatient: "Dammit Heler, Ernalda needs water! If you can't help me at least tell me who can!."

Heler looks at Humakt and sees he doesn't get it, and he grins, scratching his beard. "Well, my little cousin Tarena has been eaten by a dragon. Normally I protect him but he ran away and I was busy over here. Can you take care of this dragon and bring Tarena back?"

Humakt looks interested. "A dragon? Is it a big one?"

"Sure," says Heler. "It's over there in those mountains. It's really big and scary."

"Hrrmph!" Humakt says and strides away. But Heler stops him and says "Here take my sword; this dragon is a tricky bastard." Humakt doesn't need it but he loves weapons of all kinds - especially swords - so he takes it and strides off across the plains.

Soon he meets a fat man with a mule, who introduces himself as Figyerredit Ollovit the merchant. "This is bandit country and they can see the dust of your trail from miles away, so you should only travel at night", Ollovit says. Humakt agrees to help him next time he comes this way, then continues walking towards the mountains.

After a little while Humakt sees a dust cloud in the distance. Raven warns him that it is Gagarth, looking for travelers to waylay. So Humakt takes off his pack, plants his javelins in the ground, and sits down to wait, sharpening his swords. Gagarth approaches warily, and when he sees that Humakt is waiting for him he stops. But he is a rude bastard, so he asks "What are you doing here, all alone, playing with your sword again? This is my father's tula and he'll crush you into dust just like he's crushed all his other enemies here." And Gagarth kicks at the sand.

Humakt just looks at Gagarth and the bandit flinches and starts to run away, but Raven flies over and apologizes (Raven and Gagarth used to be friendly before Raven met Humakt). "Hey sorry; my master's in a bad mood. He was looking for a dragon to fight over there in the mountains but it's too small for him."

"Oh yeah?" Gagarth says, eyes wide.

"Yeah but listen," Raven continues. "He thinks it's got some pretty good treasure so he was going to tell Orlanth about it but uh, ... I figured it's not my fault if you happened to come across it first ... by accident."

Gagarth gets it and laughs "Hunh!", snot coming from his nose. "Later!" the bandit shouts to Raven as he disappears into the distance.

But Humakt doesn't get it. Raven tells him that they need to buy some dragon-fighting equipment from the merchant, but the Death God looks at him and spits. Then he tells him the merchant is weak and needs help, but the warrior sneers at him. Finally the Raven says he thinks Gagarth might go attack the merchant and maybe the bandit will get close enough for Humakt to skewer him. The Death God grins and tracks down Ollovit's trail.

As the days go by, he sees that the weather in the mountains gets pretty bad. First there's a sandstorm and a tornado, but the tornado doesn't last very long. Then there's a big cold front from the north, and a great hailstorm that seems to crush everything turning the mountains from green to gray. Then things quiet down, and it rains.

Soon enough he catches the fat man with the mule again. "Surely a great warrior such as yourself cannot travel the desert without accompaniment?" Ollovit says and winks. But Humakt doesn't get it. Raven is about to open his mouth, but Ollovit beats him to it. "I see you have no mount. How about a nice horse?" But Humakt only spits. Not to be discouraged, the merchant shows the War God his tools. And Humakt sees many things which might be useful against dragons, and many things that might be useful at other times, and he buys all of them, trading his armor and his black clothing and weapons - but not his beloved swords.

Finally Humakt comes to the mountains, and finds the spoor of the wyrm. After cleaning his boots, he follows it to a cave, where he finds Vadrus moping next to the corpse of a big crystal dragon with violet eyes. "Hey you! Fat man! Merchant! Give me some of that beer!" Vadrus shouts.

"I'll give it to you for nothing if you tell me what happened here," Humakt replies with Raven's voice. Blowing and howling with pride, Vadrus tells him how he had smashed the dragon's brains out with his hammer, and how he had ripped the dragon open from crotch to throat with his axe when it came back to life. Then he describes how the goddess Tarena stepped out of the dragon's belly and made the rain - which quickly turned into snow - and his voice goes quiet and his eyes go dreamy. "But the damn girl ran into the cave to hide and it's too small for me to go in there!"

Now Humakt throws off his merchant's clothes, draws his swords, and grins. "Well, if you need to be hacked into tiny little pieces, I can help you with that!" Vadrus looks up in surprise and fear, bellowing, "You sneaky, filthy bastard! You look like a merchant and you smell like shit!" as he kicks Humakt's boots away. "Gagarth told me you were gone!"

"And I'll deal with him later," Humakt says while he cuts Vadrus into tiny little pieces.

Then Humakt calls into the cave. "You can come out now, Tarena! Heler sent me to fetch you. See? Here is his sword." Tarena steps out of the cave, lured by Heler's sword, and Humakt has to admit that Vadrus was right: she is beautiful and rain-blessed, susurrant of voice and soft as the morning mists. But Raven croaks in his ear: "OK boss, time to go; don't keep mother Ernalda waiting."

Humakt starts at this and sets to work, stripping the dragon's corpse and putting on his merchant's clothes. Soon it is time to go back. On the way out of the mountains Gagarth tries to ambush them just as Humakt had hoped. Unfortunately, Humakt only manages to cut off his ears before the bandit escapes and Raven urges him back to Ernalda's camp.

When he gets back to Ernalda and Chalana's camp he finds the merchant with the mule and trades some of the dragon parts for his old posessions, and with a big smile on his face Ollovit claps him on the back. "My friend, call on my any time! I am always ready to help men like you." But Humakt gets it and grits his teeth.

Ernalda and Chalana Arroy are happy and grateful that he has brought back Heler's cousin. Ernalda was doubtful at first, but Chalana nudged her and said, "I know you were expecting a boy but I'm sure ... Tarena ... can make herself useful. Can't you Tarena?" Again Humakt gets it, and grits his teeth, but this time Raven speaks up and says, "Last time you two treated Heler so badly he lost almost all his fur. This time I want you to promise me you'll treat Tarena right, as she expects to be." The two goddesses agree, and soon the land is green and in bloom again, while Humakt and Raven disappear into the sunset.

And when they are far away from Ernalda's camp - far enough that they can't be seen - Humakt winks at Raven and throws him a morsel taken from the Crystal Dragon.

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