This is a little piece that I wrote for fun for a gifted and talented camp that I was on last week. Good fun.
The great city of Setmorris was known far and wide for its wealth. Merchants used to say, if there was anything that you wanted, you would find it in Setmorris. Poets would argue over which part of Setmorris was the most beautiful: the scenic dining houses, the beautiful parks, the many statues and pieces of public art. And the old wise men, you know, the ones that exist in every city, would say that the person who was tired of Setmorris, was tired of life.
Travellers from all over the world would come to Setmorris, to buy and sell, and some came simply to say that they had visited the great city. Food from all over the states and counties would flow in each day, to be transformed by chefs into culinary delights. Rich and precious materials would come from the mines and the forests, and would be transformed by Setmorris’ artists into beautiful works of art or pieces of jewellery, or even the great townhouses around the city.
For a hundred years, Setmorris prospered. But wealth can make people lazy, especially when it is wealth without purpose, and the rich merchants of Setmorris became complacent. They looked ever inwards, only seeking to make the most profit in their trading guilds and companies. They felt that the outside world was of no interest to them, and so they did not hear about the Dragon Waking.
Far from Setmorris, in a region known only as the Purple Mountains, a great and terrible lizard had awoken from its slumber. This beast, had slept beneath the mountains for hundreds of years, for, as everyone knows, ancient dragons spend much of their time asleep on their hoards of gold, dreaming dermas about their past. But miners, intent on finding more gold, had awoken the beast, and it had roared back into life with a great and terrible anger.
The beast had swept through the region, laying waste to town after town with its fiery breath. Noble lords had raised armies and led them into battle, but the beast was as fearsome and strong as it was cunning, and it killed the lords and scattered the armies.
And now it had come to Setmorris.
It arrived just as the sun was setting, swooping in from the darkness faster than any horse could travel. It landed in the main square of the city, and the thunderclap of it crashing to the ground levelled two merchants’ townhouses. Its long tail, snapped out, destroying a very fine statue of the president of the merchant’s council. The dragon snorted, and breathed out a long stream of flame, incinerating two horses and a dog.
A crowd of people, including the merchant council, the rulers of Setmorris, gathered before the dragon, quaking in fear.
‘You people’, it said, in its great and terrible voice. ‘You have awoken me from my slumber, and disturbed my dreams.’
The people cowered before the dragon, sure that their end had come.
‘I only wish for return to sleep, but you all must pay a price before I do so.’
‘Anything, anything,’ cried the merchants, hoping that the price would not be their lives.
I seek the Jewels of Prosperity. They are strange and powerful objects, created long before humans walked upright. They are artefacts of the elder folk, and have long been lost to our knowledge. If you seek out the gems and return them here, then I will not destroy your towns, kill your wives and husbands and eat your children.’
The merchant council looked perplexed. They had never heard of these gems. They had never even known they had existed. This was not something that they could buy or build – even with their treasuries full of gold coins and precious gems.
They were about to say this to the dragon, and accept their fate, but suddenly, a voice rang out.
They looked around. The speaker was an old man. He was not a merchant, but he came from an old and distinguished Setmorrison family.
‘My ancestors were kings in Setmorris, long before the Merchant Council became rulers. Now, you say we do not need kings.
‘What do you want, old man?’ The merchant council were rude: they wanted to know a solution to the problem, not about some old man’s family history.
‘Be silent’, the man said, and just for a moment, he looked like one of the kings of old. The Merchant Council, hushed, were still.
‘There is an ancient prophecy. It states:
In times of blood and trouble,
When Setmorris is reduced to rubble
Look not to your coins of gold
But to adventurers bold.
When the dragon great and terrible is here
And the end looks to be near
To find the jewel and set things to rights
You need a band of St George’s knights.
The Merchants laughed. ‘We don’t have time for your silly riddles.’ They said to the dragon, ‘Surely, we can come to an arrangement. Surely, we can give you money or precious gems.’ The dragon didn’t even bother to reply. Instead it snapped out a wing, levelling a whole row of town houses.
The merchants said, ‘We need to find some knights of St George.’
This then, is your challenge. Are you strong enough, are you brave enough, are you clever enough to take on the quest for the jewels of prosperity? It will be a daunting task, filled with trials and tribulations, and possibly great danger. With your band of adventurers, you will undertake a series of challenges in the quest for the Jewels of Prosperity!