Bard Tales

The Legend of Enjolras and the Fiend

In the days when the walled city of Istur was still a free city, a small mining community grew up in the mountains of what is now northern Suress. Named Heliodor for the bright yellow gems discovered by its first settlers, it quickly grew into a fairly prosperous settlement. The people built carefully crafted cobblestone roads, a covered market place, and shrines to Azkal and Wajen. Heliodor became a pleasant, affluent village.
Then disaster struck. One day, the miners heard a great rumbling noise from within the mountain. They didn't even have time to wonder what it was before a great red dragon crawled up from the bowels of the mountain. The fiend, whose name was Azeroth, had slept there for centuries untold. This fateful day, Azeroth awoke, killing all the miners in his path as he sought his way out into the sunlight.
Azeroth descended upon the village, roaring in savage fury. The people ran in panic, expecting to be bathed in fire, and the warriors drew their bows and swords in preparation for battle. The people counted themselves fortunate when Azeroth, ignoring the pitiful efforts of the warriors, destroyed only the shrine to Wajen, and feasted only upon the cattle. Except for two priests and a few unfortunate miners, the people of Heliodor escaped death that day.
But they knew it could not last. Sooner or later, the fiend would destroy them all. A few people packed up their belongings and fled, but most were unwilling to leave the home they'd worked so hard to build. They were determined to fight back against this terrible monster. But how? Even the best of their warriors was no match for Azeroth. They decided to send their fastest rider, the blacksmith's son, Jivan, to the nearest shrine to Estereal, to beg for help from the good priests.
Jivan rode hard and fast, but he knew that the shrine was at least two days' ride from Heliodor, and he feared that he would be too late. He prayed to Estereal to let him reach the shrine in time.
No sooner were his words uttered than he spied two riders heading towards him on the road. They stopped, and the taller one waved at him. Curious, Jivan slowed his mount to a trot and rode up to them.
They were an odd pair. The shorter, thinner one wore travel stained clothing and leather armor that had seen much use. His shoulder-length brown hair was uncombed, and dirt crusted his fingernails. Seeing Jivan, he sighed wearily and took a long pull from a flask hanging at his side.
The taller one was handsome and proper. His armor sparkled in the sunlight, his neatly trimmed, dark hair was perfectly combed, and not a spot of dirt marred either his clean-shaven face or his red and black cape. He watched Jivan with serious blue eyes.
“Good morning, young sir,” he said in a deep baritone.
“Name's Jivan, m'lord.” The boy wasn't sure if this man was nobility or not, but he certainly seemed wealthy enough. It didn't do to offend that sort.
“I am Sir Enjolras, and this is my trusted companion, Grantaire. We have come to help you.”
“To help us? But, how? Did you come from The Lightbearer's Shrine? How could they know we needed help?”
“The gods heard your prayers, my son.”
The knight's companion muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “But not mine.” Jivan looked at him in confusion.
“I'm sorry, did you say something?”
“Not a thing.”
“Come, let us not waste time,” said Sir Enjolras. “Your people need help.”
Seeing the sense in this, Jivan turned his horse around and led them to the village as fast as they could ride. The people stopped in the street and stared, astonished to see him back so soon. Jivan's father, Murcah, came out from his smithy, wiping his hands on his trousers.
“What's this? Jivan, you can't have gone to the shrine and back already. Who are these men?”
“I found them on the road, papa.”
Sir Enjolras dismounted gracefully. His companion slid wearily out of the saddle, narrowly stepping back in time when his mare tried to bite him.
“Good blacksmith, I am Sir Enjolras, and this is my most loyal friend, Grantaire. We have come to help the good people of your village.”
A crowd had slowly gathered around the stranger, and many applauded at this news. Jivan noticed that most of the women were staring at the knight with wide eyes.
“You're a knight, then,” said Murcah. “In whose service?”
“Sir, I serve only the gods.”
“Ah, you're a paladin, then? That is good news. ´Tis a fiend from the Abyss that stalks our village, that is certain. Thanks be to Estereal, that one of His own has come to save us.”
“I honor Estereal, but I am not His paladin.”
“No? Soltana's then?”
“Not entirely. I have come from afar, honored to be of service to each of the Six. I answer to one no more than another.”
Murcah scratched his head. “Ah, well, I suppose you paladins have a lot of complicated rules. Why don't you two follow me, now? Jivan will see to your horses. You can stay at my house. It's plenty big enough, and my Bonnie's a damn fine cook, if I do say so myself.”

Jivan took his time stabling the horses, and gave the knight's beautiful white stallion an extra good brushing. If these men were going to save his village, he wanted to make sure to treat them right. When he joined his family for dinner, he found the newcomers seated at the table with his parents. His mother was stirring her famous lamb stew, while his father poured hot tea for everyone. Two apple pies were cooling on the window sill, and fresh bread and apple butter had been set out on the table. His mouth watering, Jivan quickly took a seat next to the one called Grantaire.
“Where's Cyn?” he asked, referring to his older sister, Cynara.
“She'll be along any minute now,” said his mother. “You know how she is, always looking after stray animals. I told her to stay closer to home, what with the dragon about and all. Does she listen? No, not my girl. It's no wonder I've got gray hair, with the way you kids behave.”
Jivan didn't appreciate the way his mother scowled at him. He wasn't the one out roaming around when there was a dragon loose.
“Now, mother,” Murcah scolded fondly. “Don't worry yourself so. Cynara's not a little girl any more. She can look out for herself.”
They heard the front door open, then slam shut.
“What did I tell ya? Here she comes.”
They all turned as Cynara came running into the kitchen, her boots clomping loudly on the wooden floor. She stopped and stared at the strangers, her gaze fixing on the knight.
“Oh, dear.”
“Dearie, where have you been?” their mother scolded. Cynara looked a sight. Twigs were stuck in her long, golden hair, and dirt smudged her face and her dress. A frightened rabbit struggled in her arms, which were scratched from the creature's claws. Still, Jivan noticed both of the men smiling at her. Dirty or not, Cynara was a beautiful woman.
The knight stood and bowed gracefully. Jivan tried not to snicker when he saw his sister blushing.
“Forgive me, my lady, for intruding so unexpectedly. I am Sir Enjolras, and this is my companion, Grantaire.”
“They've come to kill the dragon,” Murcah informed her.
“Oh, uh, how nice. I'll go clean up for dinner.”
Cynara turned and raced upstairs. Jivan did snicker then, until his mother smacked him with the wooden spoon.
“Ow! What was that for?”
“For laughing at your sister. Murcah, my love, help me get out the bowls, so I can serve these good men some stew.”
Grantaire raised an eyebrow at Enjolras. “Terror-stricken townsfolk, huh? Huddled in misery? Hiding under their beds?”
“Perhaps I over-stated the situation,” the knight admitted reluctantly.
Jivan felt obliged to come to his defense. “We are awful scared of the dragon. It's just that he only killed a few animals, when he could have got us all if he'd wanted to. It seems awful strange, is all.”
“Dragons are cunning,” said Grantaire. “And cruel. Sometimes they like to torment their prey, like a cat with a mouse.”
“I have three cats,” said Cynara, coming back into the room. Jivan noticed that she'd put on her best pink dress.
“They are not cruel. They're very sweet creatures, actually.”
The knight rose and pulled out a chair for Cynara. Jivan had never seen anybody do that for his sister, and she seemed surprised, but she sat down and smiled at the knight as if she liked it. Well, she liked something anyway. Jivan had never seen his independent sister act so nice before.
“Forgive me,” Sir Enjolras said as he sat down beside her. “I am certain that your cats are sweet. With a mistress like you, how could they not be?”
Jivan rolled his eyes. This was getting a little too syrupy for him, and they hadn't even gotten to dessert yet. He glanced at Grantaire then, and noticed that he was staring at his friend with wide eyes. Jivan figured that maybe Sir Enjolras didn't flirt with women like this too often. He wondered if something serious might come of it. It might be kind of neat to have a knight and a dragon slayer for a brother-in-law.
His parents seemed to be thinking the same thing, because they fussed over the knight all through dinner, and pointed out all of Cynara's good qualities at least three or four times. Jivan got bored and ended up talking to Grantaire, who knew an awful lot about archery. Jivan had just gotten his first bow on his birthday, and Grantaire promised to show him a few tricks as soon as they had time.

Sir Enjolras and Grantaire decided to go hunting the dragon first thing in the morning, so Jivan figured he wouldn't get the chance to practice archery with a real expert. He resigned himself to a boring evening in the sitting room watching his mother fuss over everyone while Sir Enjolras and Cynara stared at each other. He was surprised when, after a few minutes of this, Grantaire got up and tapped him on the shoulder.
“Get your bow, kid. Let's go do some shooting.”
“But it's dark.”
“You've got a barn, don't you? We'll hang up some lanterns.”
Excited, Jivan raced to gather the needed items. He whistled as he followed Grantaire to the barn, where they hung the lanterns and set up a target on a bale of hay. Jivan had a hard time at first, but with Grantaire's expert coaching he started to get the hang of things.
“Well done,” said Grantaire when Jivan hit near the center of the target for the first time. “You've got a good eye, and a steady hand. With a little practice, you'll make a damn fine archer some day.”
Jivan beamed with pride. “Thanks, Grantaire. How did you learn to shoot so well. Did your father teach you?”
“I never knew my father,” he said without a hint of regret. “Most everything I know, I taught myself. Guess you could say I've always been independent.”
“So how did you end up with Sir Enjolras?”
“Now that's a long story.”
“Aw, come on. I want to hear it.”
“Maybe some other time. It's getting late. I don't want to upset your parents by keeping you up all night. Besides, I have a dragon to hunt in the morning.”
“Can't you tell me anything? I mean, it's just so strange and all. Sir Enjolras, I mean. He's not like other people. And I don't mean just because he's a paladin. He's, well, mysterious like.”
Grantaire grinned. “Enjolras, mysterious? I never thought I'd hear anyone say that about him.”
“Well, how come he won't say where he's from?”
“Oh, that. That's because he comes from so far away. Why bother telling people where you're from, when they don't know the place and can't get there? I guess he does seem a little mysterious. There was a time, you know, when he told people everything. I cured him of that. He was too trusting, you see, and reckless. I didn't want him to get in trouble because of that. He won't lie, being a paladin, but I finally convinced him that he doesn't have to answer every question people put to him.”
“Sounds like you've been looking out for him.”
Grantaire grinned. “I guess you could say that. We'd better go in, now. It's past your bed time.”
They carefully extinguished all but one lantern, which Grantaire carried out of the barn so they could find their way back to the house. Grantaire almost dropped it when they saw Sir Enjolras and Cynara in the garden, kissing. Thinking quickly, Jivan grabbed the lantern and pulled Grantaire back behind the barn wall.
“Come on. We'll go the back way so they don't see us.”
“I don't believe it,” said Grantaire. “Enjolras, kissing a woman.”
“What's wrong with that?” Jivan asked, offended. “Cynara's a good girl.”
“Well, sure. It's not that. It's just that Enjolras has always been so awkward around women. They stare at him, you know. It always made him jumpy. Now all the sudden he's poised, and gallant. And kissing in the moonlight -- my god, that's positively romantic!”
Jivan shrugged. “I guess they like each other. What's wrong with that?”
“Not a thing, I guess. I just hope it all works out.”
Having nothing to say to that, Jivan took the bemused Grantaire by the hand and led him quietly back into the house. Excited by the day's events, Jivan had a hard time falling asleep, and he noticed that it was very late when his sister and Sir Enjolras finally came back in.
The next morning, Jivan got up before dawn to brush and saddle the dragon hunters' horses. When he came inside, he was astonished to find his mother weeping over the breakfast table.
“Mama, don't cry. They'll get that dragon -- you just wait and see.”
“Your mama ain't crying about that,” his father said. “Sir Enjolras and your sister are married.”
“Really!” Jivan exchanged a surprised look with Grantaire.
“Yes,” said Sir Enjolras. “We spoke our vows before the gods last night.”
“So why is mama crying?”
Cynara smiled fondly at their mother. “Because I'll be moving away, to live in Enjolras' home. I don't know when I'll see you all again.”
Jivan didn't like to hear this. He knew it wasn't fashionable for a boy his age to love his sister, but he'd really miss Cynara if she left home for good.
“Maybe we could all go with you?”
Cynara looked hopefully at Sir Enjolras.
“If you were all willing, I would be pleased to take you along. There is plenty of work for a good blacksmith.”
Jivan's parents exchanged a look. His father nodded. Shrieking with joy, his mother hugged Sir Enjolras and cried all over him.
With that settled, Grantaire and Sir Enjolras set off to find the dragon. Jivan was a little worried. He didn't see how they could track a beast that flew through the air. But Grantaire assured him that Sir Enjolras had a knack for such things, and they would find Azeroth without any problem. As for killing the dragon, Grantaire told him not to worry about that either. He showed Jivan a magic necklace that held five big red gems. When you took the gems off and threw them, they exploded. Between that and Sir Enjolras' uncanny strength and fighting ability, they'd have no problems at all.
Jivan believed Grantaire, and he set about helping his father in the smithy without any care. He didn't worry when that day passed without any news, nor even the next, for he knew it might take them a good while to find the dragon. But when a whole week went by without any sign of either the heroes or the dragon, Jivan started to get worried. He could tell his family was worried, too. Nobody talked at dinner, and Cynara hardly ate at all.
The next morning, they heard a great roaring noise, like a sudden storm approaching. Rushing outside, they looked up to see a great, winged shadow blotting out the sun. Azeroth had come! The people ran, screaming. Jivan, fearing the fiend had killed his new friends, rushed to get his bow.
But he was too slow. He was running back into the street and reaching for an arrow when Azeroth swooped down and seized Cynara in its huge claws. With one beat of its powerful wings, the dragon lifted Cynara out of range of any bow and flew off with her.
“Cynara!” His father cried in fear. Jivan's mother fainted dead away. Jivan only stared after the departing dragon with tears in his eyes. What had happened to Sir Enjolras and Grantaire? How could they let the people down like this? How could they let a monster carry away his only sister?
The terrified people of Heliodor held a meeting. They all agreed that the heroes had failed. Even Jivan's own parents gave Cynara up for dead. They decided that they would all pack their things and flee the village as quickly as possible.
But Jivan couldn't give up on his sister so easily. In the dead of night, he packed up some supplies, his bow and arrows, and his father's old sword and rode off into the mountains to look for her. He hadn't gone far before he ran into Sir Enjolras and Grantaire, galloping down the trail towards him.
“What have you done?” Jivan cried. “Azeroth came and took Cynara. You were supposed to kill the dragon, not chase it into village!”
Jivan stopped his tirade when Grantaire and Enjolras got closer. They were both bandaged and bloody. Sir Enjolras could barely hold himself up in the saddle.
“I - I'm sorry. What happened?”
“We wounded the dragon,” said Grantaire. “But it got away.”
Sir Enjolras took a deep breath and wiped a tear from his eye. “Grantaire, you go on. Find someone to tend your wounds. I must rescue my wife.”
“Are you crazy? You're hurt worse than I am. You can't go after the dragon like this.”
“It is my duty, and my destiny. I will not leave Cynara in the clutches of that fiend. I must rescue her, or die trying.”
“I know which way the dragon went,” Jivan piped up. “I can show you.”
Grantaire frowned. “Kid, we can't --”
“I'm not a kid, and she's my sister. I have the right to help rescue her.”
“Jivan is right,” said Sir Enjolras. “Lead on, son.”
The boy lead them deep into the mountains. For two days they traveled, and Jivan began to lose hope. Knowing which way the dragon had flown meant little. Azeroth could be anywhere.
But on the third day, they began to hear the steady roaring of the beast. It echoed across the mountains, shaking free loose stones that fell down like tiny avalanches.
“Sounds like he's in terrible pain,” said Jivan. “Maybe he's dying.”
Grantaire shook his head. “Enjolras hurt him bad, but not enough to kill him. He's luring us to him. Azeroth wants revenge.”
“Do you think Cynara is still alive?” Jivan asked fearfully.
“There is only one way to find out,” Sir Enjolras said grimly. “Jivan, I want your word that you will hang back. Keep your bow ready, and fire if you get a clear shot at the fiend. If Cynara gets free, we'll send her to you. Take her and ride off as fast as you can.”
“I will, sir.”
“I have your word?”
“Yes. Don't worry. I won't fail you.”

The dragon's cries grew louder as they rode higher up the trail. Soon, they came in sight of a large cave. The roaring came from inside. Jivan had to hold tight to his terrified horse, but Sir Enjolras' stallion was calm and quiet. Grantaire's mare, however panicked. She reared and threw him, then ran back down the trail.
“Leave her,” said Grantaire as Enjolras helped him to his feet. “Ungrateful little bitch.”
“Grantaire, watch your language.”
Drawing a long dagger from its sheathe, Grantaire glared at the knight. “At a time like this, you're worried about my language?”
“Manners are important, Grantaire. Even in adversity.” Sir Enjolras looked steadily at Jivan. “Remember, stay outside the cave. When Cynara comes to you, take her and run.”
Jivan nodded. He was terrified, and didn't want to speak for fear that the quiver in his voice would give him away. Neither Sir Enjolras nor Grantaire looked scared at all.

Sir Enjolras left his stallion behind, and Jivan stayed put as the two heroes marched into the cave with weapons drawn. But curiosity got the better of him, and he crept up to the mouth of the cave to watch.
Grantaire had been right -- Azeroth was waiting for them. He was curled up, cat-like in the center of the cave, with Cynara trapped beneath one massive claw. His yellow eyes glared at Sir Enjolras as he stood before him, shining with some holy light. Jivan didn't see Grantaire, until he saw a shadow moving along the cave wall, towards the back of the cave.
“Release the woman at once,” Sir Enjolras ordered the dragon. “This battle is between us, Azeroth. She has not harmed you.”
“Enjolras, run!” Cynara screamed. “He'll kill you!”
The dragon chuckled, and steam puffed from its nostrils. “The silly girl has more sense than you, paladin.”
Jivan gasped. He didn't know dragons could talk. Azeroth's voice was deep and guttural.
Sir Enjolras scowled. “Release her, Azeroth. Or does the king of dragons find the need to hide behind a woman's skirts?”
Azeroth's roar shook the very walls of the cave. He lifted up his claw to free Cynara. She ran to Enjolras and wrapped her arms around him. Meanwhile, the dragon slowly got to its feet. Spreading his wings wide, Azeroth nearly filled the cave. Jivan could see a bloody sword wound trailing down the dragon's chest.
“The girl may go,” the dragon declared. “But you, paladin, will die this day.”
Sir Enjolras turned to Cynara. “Go, my beloved. Your brother waits for you outside.”
“No, I won't leave you.”
“You must. For the sake of our child, if not for yourself.”
“Our child? But how...?”
“The gods saw fit to honor me with a vision. If I do not survive, you must raise our son to honor them.”
“If you don't survive? Enjolras, no! Don't leave me!”
“Jivan!” Sir Enjolras called, as if he knew the boy watched from nearby. “Take her now!”
Reluctantly, Jivan did as he was told. He grabbed Cynara and started to drag her down the path. Cynara resisted, and progress was slow. Looking back, both were able to see what followed.
Enjolras cried out something that was drowned out by Azeroth's roar and charged. The fiend bathed him in a blast of flame, but Enjolras pressed forward to plunge his blade deep into Azeroth's hide. The dragon bellowed in pain. It sank its claws into Enjolras, pinning him.
The dragon opened its maw to devour the paladin. Suddenly, a sparkling gem went flying threw the air above the dragon's head. It hit the cave ceiling and exploded. The cave ceiling crashed in, sending rocks and debris flying everywhere. Outside, both Cynara and Jivan were thrown to the ground.
When the dust settled, brother and sister searched in vain for some sign of the heroes. But they soon realized that nothing could have survived that explosion. Dispirited, they returned home to tell their sad story to the people of Heliodor.
No two bards agree on how the tragic tale ended. Some say that Cynara died in childbirth, and the babe too. Others say that the grieving widow drowned herself in the river, but only after safely giving birth to a handsome son, whom she named after his father. While all agree that Sir Enjolras must have died, many stories tell of Azeroth surviving, and of a lone archer hunting him down.
Of the village of Heliodor, nothing now remains. But a church expedition sent any years ago to uncover the truth behind the legend found two artifacts that have been passed down from one generation of the faithful two the next. One was a leather-bound volume with an inscription reading, To Enjolras, with my deepest admiration. Your greatest strength will always be your faith. -- Father Felix. The other was a small platinum orb hanging from a golden chain and bearing the symbols of The Six great gods. Believed to be Sir Enjolras' own holy symbol, it was presented by Archbishop Francios Desjardin to Sir Tomas Lissar, first Grand Master of the Paragons. It has been passed down to the leader of that order ever since, and is said to glow in the presence of those who have earned the love of all the gods by acts of great faith, courage, and selflessness.