Blog Post #87: 'Norstadt of Lanshire'!
Updated: Jan 7
The following illustrated short story was produced by Gabriel Rhenals for a 9th grade English class assignment at New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami in 2000. It was featured in an NWSA student showcase at Miami Book Fair that same year.
A long time ago, during the time of kings and dragons, there existed a part of earth called Lanshire. The great King Cereliohn V, whose ancestors had been the early nomads in the area, ruled this great land of divine landscapes.
Lanshire exhibited very diversified lifestyles. Among these many one life occupations was dragon slaying. Dragon slayers were common and unified. Although they were looked down upon as drifters, outcasts and avengers, their motives were usually good. They tried to capture dragons and sell them or hang them on the wall as a symbol of triumph. One could call them Lanshire’s daredevils.
Perhaps the greatest threat to Lanshire was the dragonic aristocracy. The dragons of this land also had a government, mainly to distribute equal amounts of evil to all the kingdoms. The leader of this dragonic aristocracy was Roth, the largest and most maniacal of all dragons. Ever since the Battle of Chazefoth, in which he obliterated both human armies, he had always intervened in human conflicts. Roth was a unique dragon, the last of his kind. His distinct sharp crest propped on his head was the most terrifying of his features. His long neck and massive size proved difficult for challengers. Rumors and tales went on about men killing themselves before being discovered by Roth in his territory. They did this to escape the extraneous pain Roth inflicted on them. And so, Roth remained as the most evil and cunning of all dragons in Lanshire.
Norstadt the Dragon Slayer lived in Lanshire. Although renowned for his brilliant plans for defeating dragons, he was on the brink of retirement. Come the next autumn, Norstadt was to retire after 227 dragon brawls, all victories except for one. This one loss, to Roth, incorporated the death of his wife Lorah. Ever after, Norstadt had sought revenge on the foul beast. But he felt he was getting too old for the required skills needed to win such a contest.
One summer day, Norstadt walked calmly to the house of his friend, Quaid. He had received a message from him that was marked urgent and nothing else. And with that, Norstadt wondered what might have happened to his friend.
Quaid was an explorer and an exuberant one at that. He had explored most of Lanshire, including the Gontian Mountains, which stretched along the entire eastern border of Lanshire. He had also sailed the outskirts of the Duku, known as the Poison Sea. All these locales were ones in which no one else dared to venture. Yes, Quaid was one of a high-risk taking, just like Norstadt.
Quaid lived in a small cottage in the northern portion of Lanshire. In this small cottage, Quaid invested much time. He worked non-stop developing, perfecting and refining his map-making skills. He produced the maps mainly for kings and wealthy Lanshirians.
“Greetings, Norstadt!” Quaid saluted. Norstadt, unused to greetings of such enthusiasm due to his lonely life, answered with a nod. When both men had greeted each other, they entered the cottage. “It’s been a while, friend,” said Quaid. “A very long while,” answered Norstadt. “So what’s so urgent about this gathering? What plans have you concocted this time?” Norstadt eloquently questioned. “Well, you’ve had a long journey. Let me answer your questions over some ale and short cakes.”
Quaid reached into the cupboard in his kitchen; pulled out two plates and two mugs. Then walked over to his cellar and brought out a jug of ale and with it, two overcooked short cakes, which he set on the table. Norstadt lightly picked up a short cake and set it aside quietly in disgust.
“We are going to eliminate Roth!” said Quaid as he stood up in a confident manner. As Quaid said this, Norstadt froze like a rock with the mug in his hands as if he had seen a ghost. “You were always of a fool’s mind!” replied Norstadt after releasing his breath. Norstadt had always thought Quaid had lost it, so he took this outburst with disconcern. “Norstadt, I have found a weakness in Roth. One so obvious it boggles the mind,” In disbelief, Norstadt asked Quaid what this weakness was. “An exposed heart!
“At the Battle of Quintain, I kept secret what I saw when looking at Roth closely,” Quaid said, trying to sound impressive. Quaid retrieved a drawing from his desk. This drawing of Roth displayed the location of the exposed heart and its weakness. Norstadt’s eyes lightened up as Quaid explained that on the left side of the heart lay a central vein or hub that controls the dragons blood flow, the principle weakness of Roth’s life force. “I have discovered Roth’s Achilles’ heal,” Quaid stated with utter delight.
“How do you plan to pull this off?” Norstadt questioned. “With a thousand men and you to request them from the king.” Norstadt, now convinced of the plan, eagerly agreed and ventured off to King Cereliohn’s kingdom.
Because of Norstadt’s familiarity with the royal guards, he was let into the king’s headquarters with the greatest of ease.
At King Cereliohn’s hall, he walked up to the stairs leading to the throne. At this point, he kneeled and wished for the king’s attention for his plea. Apparently, the king was so preoccupied with overseeing his kingdom he did not wish to look at Norstadt. Instead, he sat with his throne to the window. “I wish for a grant, Your Highness,” Norstadt called out. “Norstadt? Is that you?” King Cereliohn replied. ”Yes, Your Highness,” Norstadt answered. “What kind of grant do you demand?” King Cereliohn asked with interest. “A grant of your knights’ services,” Norstadt replied. “Why?” the king demanded to know. “ I am on a quest to end the dragonic aristocracy that has plagued your kingdom for ages. I shall accomplish this by ending the reign of the legendary Roth. I can’t tell you how, but I can tell you that I will do this, Your Highness.”
And with that, Norstadt was granted the thousand men required for the task at hand.
The assault team’s destination was the forest of Tinaab, where Roth lived. Before the men marched into the forest, Norstadt and Quaid explained exactly what to do. A straight-on attack was to be made. A full-scale assassination. Not a very strategic plan; one of great risk!
Quaid ordered the men to attack nothing but the heart. Once the heart was struck, it would deal a major blow to Roth and the dragonic aristocracy. If this attempt failed, it would drive all dragons to the kingdom of Cereliohn and eventually result in the end of human sanity and government. This attack was a do-or-die situation for all humans under the rule of King Cereliohn.
The men quietly filed into the forest trying to be as stealthy as humanly possible. The forest was thick and filled with fog. Trying to see into the distance seemed useless. The denseness of the dark mist surrounding the trees blocked out any sight. Norstadt and Quaid gazed up and noticed the only light source was that from the small shafts of light filtering down through the tree branches. The forest of Tinaab was immense! The trees seemed as if they reached miles into the air. The men awaited their orders.
Suddenly, without notice, a huge shadow loomed over all the men in the forest and out of the grouping of trees in front of them burst the head and neck of Roth!
With the burst of the trees, men went flying into the air, tossed like rag dolls into oblivion. Roth’s massive size and grandeur startled all the men. Quaid, uncertain whether to attack or not, was unable to give orders. He was stupefied beyond belief. Roth was larger than he had originally conceived. He had grown profoundly since his last sighting to a present size beyond one's ability to see all of him in one glance. Norstadt and Quaid had underestimated his power and without hesitation ordered their men to retreat.
The vicious Roth bellowed and roared like an active volcano. His high pitched, ear-piercing screams from hell prevented the men from hearing orders. This proved most unfortunate for the men who were clueless as to what to do next.
Roth unleashed his thunderstruck tail and whipped it at the group of men, cutting them down where they stood. But Norstadt had escaped with Quaid early on, leaving the helpless men to die under the wrath of Roth.
Norstadt was ahead of Quaid after escaping the horrid forest of Tinaab. Norstadt heard the mens’ cries for help as they were murdered. He looked back and noticed Quaid about a half-mile back.
Over the rise came Roth right behind Quaid. Norstadt turned away, for he knew what Quaid was in for. He heard the loud, shrill cry from Quaid as he was instantly whisked away into the mouth of Roth. Then, Norstadt looked back and saw nothing but the dragon pursuing him, and him only.
Norstadt rode as fast as he could to an abandoned scout tower on the outer rim of King Cereliohn’s kingdom. He arrived at the scout tower and climbed to the top level.
With a quick, thoughtful plan, he tied a piece of rope onto an arrow, sturdy enough to hold his weight. He placed the arrow in an abandoned crossbow and waited atop the scout tower for Roth to swoop overhead.
In time, Roth swooped over the scout tower and missed Norstadt. At this, Norstadt shot the customized arrow into the dragon’s thigh. He was now attached to Roth.
Norstadt, with the greatest of strength, pulled on the rope connected to the arrow and hoisted himself onto the winged beast. Trying to maintain balance on Roth, he released his sword from his sheath and his shield from its strap and ran on the dragon’s leathery hide, running toward the location of the heart where he would deliver the final, fatal blow.
At last, Norstadt saw the exposed heart, pumping to its full capacity. He lifted his mighty sword and thrust it into Roth’s heart, thus ending his reign, the dragonic artistocracy and reviving the feeling of relief to the people of Lanshire.
Roth was finished!
And at last, Norstadt, who had defeated Roth and brought prosperity to Lanshire by ending the dragonic rule, retired; his rest well-earned.
Written and illustrated by Gabriel Rhenals.