The celebration had been going on for hours and the sounds of the feast could be heard from miles around. The clink of goblets and cutlery. Raucous and merry laughter. The lovely chords and bright chorus of minstrels. The high-pitched voices of the fairies mixed with the gruff voices of men, both of which contrasted with the tenor of the windhawks' songs and excited screeches. Starlight filtered through the open roof of the feast hall, signaling that it was time for the night's main event.
The symphony of merriment began to die down as the Sage entered the hall. By the time the Sage had mounted the stage, the entire room had fallen silent. The Sage cast his gaze around the room, meeting the eyes of each person and creature at the feast. Then he began to speak.
"As is tradition at the annual celebration of the founding of the Danvesh Empire, I will now recount for you the ten greatest feats of our first Emperor, Traylor the Tenacious."
1. Slaying the Cove Lizard
Born to Torvauld, king of Danvesh, Traylor was the youngest of five sons. By virtue of their birth and age, his brothers' respective positions were crown prince, king's regent, sergeant at arms, and lord of the treasury. There was no official position for a fifth heir and Traylor was given the choice of serving under one of his brothers. Instead, Traylor decided to set off into the world to make his own fortune.
The Empty Sea on the Eastern coast of Danvesh had never been sailed across and none knew what lay on the other side of the great ocean. Many ships had attempted to sail across it, but all either turned around when they ran low on supplies or were never seen again. Traylor decided he would be the first to cross the Empty Sea.
Accompanied by Garroth, his sworn protector and guard, Traylor journeyed to the coast. All he carried with him were a few sets of clothes, his weapons and armor, fifty gold coins, and a box, enchanted so that it could hold innumerable items without becoming too heavy to carry. The box was filled with food and fresh water. Traylor was hesitant to hire a large ship, not wanting to unnecessarily risk any lives. He walked along the shore until he came upon a fisherman named Thomez.
Thomez had a large family for whom he was struggling to provide. Traylor told Thomez he wished to procure his services, explaining his goal and the associated risk. Thomez agreed to become his boatman, on the condition that Traylor ensure his family was taken care of in his absence. Traylor gave Tomez's family forty-nine gold pieces, keeping only one for himself. He also handed them a letter with his royal seal, promising that they need only present it at the palace, and they would be given whatever supplies they required.
The next day Traylor, Garroth, and Thomez set off across the Empty Sea in Thomez’s boat. Thomez worked the rudder and Traylor and Garroth took turns at the oars when the wind died down. After many months, they spotted an island in the distance. As they pulled the boat onto shore, a cove lizard burst from the sand. Measuring over twelve feet long, the cove lizard snatched up the trio's boat in its massive jaws, rending it to splinters. Traylor and Garroth attacked the cove lizard, but their weapons could not pierce its thick, scaly hide.
Gripping his sword, Traylor leapt into the cove lizard's jaws and dove down its gullet. The cove lizard began to thrash, backing up toward the place it had burst forth from the sand. Soon the lizard lay dead, Traylor having gutted it from the inside. With Garroth's help, Traylor cut his way out of the lizard and they set about taking stock of the island.
With their boat destroyed, the trio needed to find a way off the island. Unfortunately, the few trees the island possessed would not be enough to make a raft. Traylor looked down and saw that the cove lizard had trampled its own nest, but a single egg had survived. Traylor protected the egg until it hatched. He named the baby cove lizard Toke and raised it as he would a hound, taming and training the beast to serve as his companion.
2. Capturing the Mist Cat
Three years passed and Toke grew to be nearly sixteen feet long. Traylor and his companions climbed on Toke's back and the cove lizard swam away from the island. They eventually landed in the country of Westonopolux. News of three men riding a lizard out of the sea soon spread to the king of Westonopolux and he sent for the travelers. On the way to the palace, a beggar happened to catch Traylor's eye. Demonstrating his kindness, Traylor gave the beggar his last gold coin.
When they arrived at the palace, the king saw how tame Toke was and marveled at Traylor's skill with beasts. The king then begged Traylor for his help. A terrible beast was plaguing the countryside, carrying off sheep and killing the shepherds who tried to defend their flocks. The cat-like beast could turn itself into mist, making it nearly impossible to kill or capture. The king offered Traylor one hundred gold coins if he could slay the mist cat. Traylor agreed, asking for a quarter of the gold up front, which the king provided.
Traylor used the gold to purchase a dozen of the finest sheep. Then he hired a glassblower to craft a large glass bottle. Bidding Toke to return to the port to await their return, Traylor, Garroth, and Thomez set off to confront the mist cat. Traylor ushered the sheep inside the bottle, then he and his companions hid nearby. Once night fell, the beast turned itself into mist and floated inside the bottle. The mist cat returned to its normal form and began to devour the sheep.
While the mist cat was distracted, Traylor ran forward and fit a cork into the top of the bottle, trapping the beast inside. Soon the mist cat suffocated, and the trio carried the bottle back to the king of Westonopolux. The king presented Traylor with seventy-five pieces of gold and threw a feast in his honor.
3. The Crossing of Crescent Canyon
Despite being invited to stay at the palace, Traylor and his companions wanted to explore Westonopolux. Toke needed to stay near the sea so Traylor regretfully left him behind, vowing to return for him one day. With his enchanted box once again filled with supplies, Traylor, Garroth, and Thomez ventured deeper into Westonopolux.
One day, they came upon a huge canyon that cut through the land from coast to coast in a wide crescent. There was no way across the canyon nor any way to sail around it. The ocean at the Northern end was filled with whirlpools that would suck a ship into the ocean. The Southern end of the canyon was the hunting ground of a huge flock of windhawks. Left with no other choice, Traylor and his companions began the long climb down the canyon wall.
At the bottom of the canyon, they found a hot spring. Before they could sit down and rest, they were set upon by a troop of goblins. Traylor ordered Garroth to protect Thomez before drawing his sword and rushing to meet the goblins head on. The battle lasted for hours but finally Traylor emerged victorious. Badly injured, he slumped forward and happened to fall into one of the hot spring pools. Instantly, his wounds were healed by the mystic waters of the spring.
4. The Demonstration of Honor and Purity
Climbing up the canyon's opposite wall, the trio found themselves in a dense, foggy jungle. The canopy of leaves above was so thick that very little sunlight filtered through. The trunks of the trees were all so wide that none of the men could wrap their arms completely around so that their hands met on the other side. All around them grew flowers with blossoms wider than wagon wheels and stalks taller than houses.
The three travelers wandered into a clearing and found themselves surrounded by fairies. Each fairy stood only a foot tall. Each had a pair of elegant wings sprouting from their backs. The fairies, floating in the air around them, notched arrows into their bows and prepared to fire. Since both Garroth and Thomez were sworn to serve him, Traylor could have easily offered their lives in exchange for his own.
Instead, in a demonstration of his great honor, Traylor offered his own life if the fairies would only spare the lives of his companions. Suddenly, a man ran into the clearing. Traylor recognized the man as the beggar to whom he'd given the gold coin. The beggar transformed, revealing himself to be a fairy. His name was Molund and he told the other fairies of Traylor's generosity, convincing them to spare the trio's life.
Molund bowed to Traylor before pulling three golden berries from his pocket. Molund explained that although he trusted them, they needed to prove themselves to the rest of the fairies. The berries would poison anyone who was not pure of heart. The three men ate the berries and were unfazed. Having proved their purity, they were brought before the throne of the Fairy King.
The Fairy King asked for Traylor's assistance. Duke Tanneby of the nearby country of Eastinnaton, had recently betrayed the fairies. It was because of Tanneby’s treachery that Traylor and his companions had needed to prove their purity and trustworthiness. Tanneby had kidnapped the Fairy King's daughter and stolen a magical bell. He had then used the bell to erect an enchanted wall, preventing the fairies from following him. The Fairy King asked Traylor if he would journey to Eastinnaton and rescue the princess. Traylor agreed, and accompanied by Garroth and Thomez, set off at once for Eastinnaton.
5. Passing the Gatekeeper
On the edge of the fairies' jungle, the three travelers were confronted by the wall. It was made of solid black stone and rose high into the clouds. The men made their way to the wall's only door and confronted the gatekeeper, who in turn issued Traylor a challenge. All Traylor had to do to be granted entry through the door was to land a single blow on the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper, armed only with a staff, explained that Traylor would only have three hours to accomplish the task. If he succeeded, he would be allowed to enter Eastinnaton. If he failed, the Gatekeeper would execute Traylor and his companions.
Traylor accepted the challenge and put on his armor. Drawing his sword and hefting his shield, Traylor charged the Gatekeeper but was unable to breech his defenses. Repeatedly, Traylor attacked the Gatekeeper, but each time he was repelled by the Gatekeeper's staff. As the end of the three hours drew near, Traylor sheathed his sword and pulled off his armor. Unencumbered by the weight of his armor and weapons, Traylor made it past the Gatekeeper's defenses, landing a single blow on his chest. The Gatekeeper bowed and allowed Traylor and his companions to enter Eastinnaton.
6. Rescuing the Fairy Princess
The trio journeyed to the palace, where the princess was being held in a tower by Duke Tanneby. Garroth and Thomez distracted the guards, leading them away from the palace and allowing Traylor to slip inside unnoticed. He snuck through the halls of the palace, eventually locating the magic bell. Traylor smashed the bell, freeing Eastinnaton from its mystic power and destroying the wall on the country's border.
Traylor then slew Tanneby and entered the tower. There, not only did he find and rescue the princess, but he also found Prince Chazler, the rightful ruler of Eastinnaton. As a reward for restoring him to the throne, Chazler offered Traylor lordship over any land within the borders of Eastinnaton. Traylor chose the Southern Mountains, long plagued by the windhawks.
7. Victory Over the Mountain Witch
Traylor soon learned that the windhawks were controlled by a witch, who used the birds for her own nefarious purposes. If he could defeat the witch, the windhawks would stop terrorizing the countryside. Traylor ordered Thomez to escort the fairy princess home, then accompanied by Garroth and Molund, set off for the witch's lair.
The windhawks were huge raptors with ten-foot wing spans. Their blood red feathers constantly rained down as they soared through the skies. Traylor collected the fallen feathers and fashioned them into a windhawk suit. Molund clung to Traylor's back as he put on the windhawk suit, concealing them both, while Garroth put on Traylor's armor. With Garroth masquerading as Traylor and Traylor disguised as a windhawk, the trio made their way to the peak of the tallest mountain.
Molund's magic allowed Traylor to fly while Garroth clutched the windhawk suit's claws. Disguised in this way, Traylor landed in front of the mountain witch and presented Garroth to her. Fooled by their ruse, the witch thought one of her windhawks had captured the great warrior Traylor. As she bent over Garroth, ready to cast a spell to make him her thrall, Traylor threw off his disguise and ran the witch through with his sword. As the witch died, her control over the windhawks faded. Victorious, Traylor claimed the Southern Mountains as his new home.
8. Awakening the Stone Army
Traylor built a castle and married the fairy princess. They lived happily in the mountains alongside the windhawks. Since the windhawks were no longer a threat, maritime trade became possible between Westonopolux and Eastinnaton, and both countries flourished and prospered. Traylor had Toke brought to his estate and found the cove lizard a mate. Soon domesticated cove lizards lived freely along the country's Southern coast.
East of Eastinnaton lay the Inmast Ocean and further still lay Traylor's home country of Danvesh. In between sat the country of Slover, followed by a wide band of islands that stretched across that half of the world. These islands, called the Golesh Isles, were home to a tribe of ogres. The Golesh Isles made travel between Danvesh and Slover impossible. Any ship small enough to pass between the islands would fall prey to the ogre's attacks. This meant that Danvesh was effectively isolated while Slover was free to trade with Eastinnaton.
One day, word came that Slover had formed an alliance with the ogres and conquered Danvesh. Upon hearing this, Traylor vowed to liberate Danvesh from its enemies. Traylor knew the kings of Westonopolux and Eastinnaton would come to his aid, but he feared it would take them too long to organize a large enough force. Instead, Traylor pinned his hopes to a legend.
Along the Northern coast of the country, on the terminal edge of Crescent Canyon, stood a series of tall cliffs overlooking the sea. Centuries before, the country of Roddworf stood North of Eastinnaton and Westonopolux. According to legend, Roddworf had been cursed by an evil sorcerer. Roddworf's king had sent an army to Eastinnaton. The army had been charged with capturing the sorcerer and forcing him to lift the curse.
The army cornered the sorcerer on the Northern Cliffs but fell under his power before they could capture him. The army was forced to watch as the sorcerer cast a spell and their country was pulled into the sea. It was said that this spell was the cause of the whirlpools that still spun on that stretch of ocean. The sorcerer then turned the army to stone and vanished, never to be seen again. The fairies had tried to restore the soldiers, but all their attempts had failed.
Traylor, Garroth, and Molund returned to the bottom of Crescent Canyon and filled several large urns with water from the hot springs. Then they journeyed to the Northern Cliffs and located the stone soldiers, each of whom was short and stout with broad shoulders and muscular limbs. Filling a cup from one of the urns, Traylor poured the spring water over the head of the first stone soldier. The water trickled down, instantly dissolving the stone to reveal Captain Walder, leader of the Roddworf army. Soon all the soldiers had been freed from the stone. They bowed down before Traylor and vowed to serve him until the end of their days.
9. The Conquest of Slover
Riding on the backs of cove lizards and escorted from above by a flock of windhawks, Traylor and his army made their way across the Inmast Ocean toward Slover. The king of Slover sent ships to form a blockade, but Traylor’s army tore right through them. The cove lizards punched through holes in the hulls of ships as the windhawks snatched sailors from their decks. Traylor’s forces reached Slover and the invasion began.
After nearly a year of brutal fighting, Traylor conquered Slover. Then he led his forces to the Golesh Isles where they slaughtered the tribe of ogres before continuing to Danvesh. The enemies who still occupied Danvesh quickly surrendered and Traylor liberated the country from their oppression. His family having been slaughtered by the invaders; Traylor was made king of Danvesh.
10. The Unification of the World
"The greatest feat of Emperor Traylor," the Sage concluded. "Was that he united the countries of the world into a single empire. During his travels, he forged lasting alliances with Westonopolux, Eastinnaton, and the Fairy King. After his return to Danvesh, he gave Slover to Captain Walder and his Roddworf soldiers, and gave the Golesh Isles to the windhawks. All pledged themselves to serve him and the Empire of Danvesh was formed, uniting the world under Traylor's leadership. During his life, Traylor never faltered. He rose to every challenge and overcame every obstacle, truly earning himself the title of Traylor the Tenacious."