Red Dragon Codex
Greenthumb Scene One
Greenthumb Drakecutter swung his axe in a deadly stroke.
Thwack! It plunged into the log, splintering it into three perfect pieces of firewood.
He stood another log up on the chopping block.
“Take that you loathsome beast,” he said, picturing the neck of a mature blue dragon like the ones his father had fought during the war. Swinging with all his might, he plunged his axe into the dragon’s neck, severing the head from its massive body in a single stroke.
The wood shattered into a hail of splinters, and the axe buried itself in the chopping block. Drakecutter–future slayer of dragons and dwarf of great renown–grunted, trying to pull the head free. The handle broke off in his hands.
“Greenthumb?” His father called to him as he strode from around the house.
Greenthumb hid the axe handle behind his back.
“You got that firewood finished?” His father asked. His gravely voice sounded as scarred as his face. A jagged line from a dragon claw ran from his scalp to the gray beard on his chin.
Greenthumb nodded and sat down on the stump so his father wouldn’t see the axe head he’d buried in the wood. The woodcutting axe had been well built, but it just wasn’t Drakecutter, the magic axe from which his family took its name.
Drakecutter could pass through dragon scales with ease, and pull free again ready for another blow and another. It would have cut through the log, the block, gone deep into the ground, and come back up again without dulling or breaking.
Greenthumb was forbidden to touch it. His father had hung it over the fireplace never to be taken down again since the war had ended.
“Get up, boy,” his father growled. “There’s work to be done. Go hitch the horse and plow the south pasture.”
His father tromped away.
Greenthumb dropped the axe handle and headed for the barn. “I hate farming,” he muttered under his breath.
“I heard that,” his father yelled from around the side of the house. “I’ve told you before, the Drakecutters are done fighting. Your ma and I named you to be a farmer, and a farmer is what you’re going to be.”
Greenthumb grimaced. Stupid name. He planned to ditch it as soon as he was old enough to set out on his own. He’d go by Drakecutter, and anyone who called him differently would feel the edge of his axe.
Greenthmb Scene Two
Greenthumb Drakecutter stared at the fallen enemies at his feet. He gripped the ax in his hand harder than he’d ever held any plow. His muscles quivered and his stomach churned. He cursed himself for freezing when the gnolls at first appeared. He’d trained all his life to do battle, but when the opportunity finally came he’d faltered. Not for long enough to make a difference, just long enough for him to see his own weakness.
The memory of his father cradling seeds in his rough hands and saying, “Farming is grand. We’re planting the seeds of new life,” came back to Drakecutter as he gazed at the gnoll’s severed heads. Their tongues lolled out of lifeless mouths, their eyes glossy staring at nothing.
“Drakecutter,” Kirak yelled. “Mudd’s hurt. Go find Iroden.”
Drakecutter tore his eyes away from the dead gnolls. Hiera knelt next to Mudd, trying to stop the bleeding from a gash in his arm. Mudd’s shoulder looked like it had been savaged by a mad dog.
Kirak still had both his swords in his hands. He scanned the trees around them, ready for further attack.
Iroden was gone. A sudden fear twisted Drakecutter’s gut. The gentle kender wouldn’t have survived long against the gnolls.
“Check the meadow,” Kirak said. “He ran that way.”
“Humph,” Drakecutter said, marching through the trees and out into the tall grass and flowers. “I’ve never seen a kender run in fear before. They’re more likely to hang around just to see what happens.”
Warm sunlight still played across the meadow. Wind rustled through the bluebells. The meadow lay empty of gnoll or kender.
“Iroden!” Drakecutter waded out through the tall grass. “Iroden. The gnolls are gone.”
A small head peeked up from the center of the meadow. Iroden looked at Drakecutter with wide eyes.
“Yes. Come on. Mudd’s hurt.”
Iroden stood. His shoulders barely lifted above the lush plants. His brows wrinkled with worry. “How bad?”
“Very bad. Blood everywhere. One of them ambushed him from the trees.” Drakecutter waved for Iroden to get a move on.
Iroden’s face went crimson. “I . . . I saw that. B-but I didn’t know what to do. I’m from House Cleric not House Protector. I don’t know how to fight. I’ve never hurt anything in my life. I almost smashed a spider once, but it looked up at me with its beady little eyes, and I just couldn’t do it.”
“Stop yammering and get over here,” Drakecutter roared. “No one expects you to fight. But if you don’t heal Mudd this instant, he’ll die.”
That got Iroden moving. He sprinted toward the trees, passing Drakecutter and vanishing beneath the pines. By the time Drakecutter reached the others, Iroden knelt beside Mudd pleading with E’li to heal him.
Kirak maintained his fighting stance, seemingly convinced more gnolls were on their way.
Hiera stared at him. “You’re a wizard, aren’t you? You cast some kind of spell to stop the gnoll from jumping on me.”
Kirak flushed. “Not a wizard. Not really. Some things just come naturally to me.”
“What else can you do?” Hiea asked. She stroked Mudd’s forehead, dividing her attention between her brother and Kirak.
“Not much. I can only do that slow fall thing you saw. Feather fall I think some call it, and I can make it foggy. Sometimes I can get the wind to do what I want like blow flames away from my face and such.”
Drakecutter snorted. He cleaned his ax then dragged all the gnolls’ bodies into a pile and shoveled dirt and pine needles over them. It wasn’t a real burial. He didn’t have a good spade to dig up the ground, but it would have to do. He’d dug dirt and put seeds into the ground all his life. It struck him now that nothing would grow from the things he’d just buried.