Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Duke Vallas, entitled
The History of Beran’s Reach: Beran & The Dragon
Background music by Smartsound
While the present circumstances of Beran’s Reach are well-known within the realms of New Britannia, the origins of the Metropolis are not so clear. Indeed, despite an exhaustive search of every library and scribe-hold from coast to coast there seems to be little which sheds light on the matter. It is perhaps surprising that the authority on the topic, though I use authority in the loosest of terms, is that of the tavern bards that ply the regions. Indeed, despite a slew of inaccuracies and inconsistencies that I firmly blame on continued efforts to outdo their peers, the tale of Beran divulges the story in interesting detail.
As with many such accounts of old, this one begins with a Dragon. In a time long since past a beast was ravaging the coast, leaving nothing but death and destruction in its wake. One by one the coastal settlements burned and their people devoured, their defenses unable to withstand the assault. One day, the dragon came across a sleepy settlement, barely a score of ramshackle houses huddled together against the winter chill of the wilds beyond. Seemingly unimpressed, the dragon decided to have some sport with the inhabitants, challenging its champions in single combat. The terms were simple, if he were bested then the villagers would be spared, if not then their lives would be forfeit.
Three villagers volunteered to make a stand. The first was an ageing Paladin, long in years and past his prime. The second was a fool, quick in wit yet slow in reasoning. The third was the village blacksmith by the name of Beran, a brute of monstrous size and foul of reputation. Despite their bravery both the Paladin and the fool met a grisly end to both tooth and claw, but the blacksmith, who knew that victory on such terms was impossible, took a gamble on an alternative. Standing before the great beast clad in smithing clothes and brandishing a great forge hammer, Beran proposed a challenge more worthy of such a ‘noble adversary’, a game of wits where the smith would be hunted atop a nearby rocky hilltop. The dragon, vain as any of its kin accepted this proposal, confident that it would provide a worthy distraction before the inevitable victory.
It is at this point that many tales differ. Some bards tell of a game of cat and mouse amongst the deep crags and jagged rocks. Others speak of the hunt taking place in a dense and ancient wood which one grew there. Others even tell of these exploits taking place below ground, amid the lightless depths of the caverns and subterranean tunnels that are rumored to run deep into the mountains. In any case, it is clear that before long the dragon was growing increasingly impatient. After three days and nights of fruitless searching, this impatience had grown into a deep and unrelenting rage. It’s patience faltering, the dragon called out to the smith to show himself and settle the challenge lest its wrath be turned on the village once more. The dragon drew itself to its full height, its head held high and wings unfurled in an effort to demonstrate its might. Perhaps the moment that he had been waiting for, the smith left his hiding position and threw his hammer with such force that the hammer struck the surprised creature to the head with a thunderclap, killing it instantly. As the beast fell, the fires within created an inferno that enveloped the hilltop almost instantly, raising a firestorm that burned intensely for a night and a day. Once the fires had subsided, no sign of the smith remained only the skeletal remains of the dragon that had been felled. Within it, a carpet of glittering gold and jewels that were the remnants of the dragon’s horde.
It is here that the story is commonly brought to a close. It is widely speculated that the village mentioned was the long-lost village of Porth Mae, rumoured to be at the base of the hill that later became the foundations for Beran’s Reach herself. Of the smith, there is more speculation. Some believe that Beran was consumed in the flames. Others believe that he survived the inferno, taking a sizeable portion of the treasure to start a new life. Other more fanciful tales claim that Beran wasn’t a man at all, but an ancient spirit intent on bringing balance to the land and undoing the evil that was sweeping it. Regardless, the story of the service rendered by the smith in defense of their home is one that has never been forgotten.