I am Jean-Luc Atien, a Ranger
in training. In my search to complete my skills I had the
fortune to come under the sphere of influence of Padwa,
a Ranger of considerable ability. In the lands of the Pacific
shard of the Gem of Immortality, those in training marvel
at the legends of the great Rangers. When those Rangers
gather, they speak of Padwa.
Thus it was to my surprise and delight when the forest
sprites brought word that my mentor wished to dine withme,
and bade me to meet him at the Inn that very night. Which
Inn was not mine to know, as Padwa's skill with the creatures
of forest and dungeon didst not necessarily translate as
well to humankind. Despite the early start of my search,
I was running late. I strolled into the Pirate's Plunder
in the city of Buccaneer's Den and realized my search was
over. Few, if any, people keep a hell hound as a close companion
and I presumed that the only table in the house with one
beneath it marked my teacher's spot. Besides, it was the
only table left that was still standing and in one piece.
The hell hound took my scent as I sat down, and recognizing
me as friend, allowed me to stay. I scratched in her favorite
place behind the ears, and waited while Padwa finished explaining
his dissatisfaction with the service he had been receiving.
He caught sight of me, and the energy of his anger seemed
to channel into pleasure, as the swat on my back that accompanied
his bellow of greeting knocked me dizzy as the finest Skarian
"Good ta see ya laddie!" Padwa shouted as he
helped me back into my chair. "Eat, eat! Tell me of
yer travels after ye ha' a full belly!" Padwa grabbed
a cooked leg of mutton and sitting down, began to dine.
I was grateful that Padwa wanted me to wait until after
the meal to talk about myself so that he could tell me of
his own travels. Strange forces were about in Britannia,
and Padwa had been to a new landmass that I had heard about.
Ilshenar by name, the lands were fertile ground for a Ranger
with a will to explore. I was regaled with tales of new
creatures, new dangers, deserted cities and battles fought.
The light faded, and the night was no longer young. Stuffed
with food and wine, I was a tad surprised when Padwa suddenly
ended his tales and
asked after my training.
I explained that I could tell much about any creature I
laid eyes on, and my ability to heal animals was as good
as anyone. But I had some questions about things I had heard,
rumors actually, and I needed to know if they were true.
Padwa filled his pipe, leaned back in his chair propped
his feet on the table. "Aye" he said, "'tis
about time you were askin' these things. Ha' ye been tamin'
dragonkin yet?" "Trying to" I admitted. My
best efforts so far had been dismal at best. "Hmm.
I thought I detected a scent of sulfur strong for even auld
Sasha here" he nodded, scratching the hell hound's
ear. "Well, I suppose you went there first thing when
you realized you could speak to one and it would hear ye.
Am I right?" He was and I told him so. Padwa chuckled.
"Patience was ne'er yer strong suit was it lad? No
matter. A dragon will join ye when 'tis time for a joinin',
and that's no lie. Tis the way of dragonkin. Always it was,
always it will be."
"Even for a Glorious Lord?"
Padwa's bellow of laughter sent waitstaff running and the
bartender hunkering down beneath the bar for cover. "Ah,
thankee lad! I ha' nae heard that one for a while! Listen
lad. The bravest knight and darkest scoundrel in the land
matter not to the animals. If they be yours, they be yours.
You'll have no better control, no easier time taming them
as a Glorious Lord than you would as a Dread Lord. Animals
look beyond fame and karma to a place in yer soul that I
canna' explain. The only difference in taming is that many
creatures will attack a murderer on sight. Keep yer aura
blue and it will ne'er be a problem for ye." "So
fame and karma have no effect on difficulty to tame or control?"
I asked. Padwa blew a large cloud of smoke. "None whatsoever.
This dragon you wanted. Why did you spend so
much time on it?"
"It was a red one." I said, as if that would
explain it all. "And
?" Padwa asked. "Padwa,
it was red! Everyone I talk to knows that red dragons obey
better, they are better all around than brown ones!"
Padwa looked bemused. "Oh really? Well I didn't know
that laddie. As last I knew, dragonkin was dragonkin. Color
has no sway. But what do I know?" "So a dragon's
color doesn't matter?" "No lad, color matters
not one bit. Dragonkin will travel with ye until they don't
want to, they will obey ye until they don't want to. Color
is only important if ye want them to match the furniture.
Since you've been "colored" on the subject, so
to speak, I'll tell ye now that the color of a nightmare
has no bearing on its value either. A pure black is nae
better than a blue. Oh, and the length of the mane doesn't
matter either. Blue longmanes and pure blacks are few and
far between, of that there's nae doubt. But they are no
better than them that you see right regular nowadays, and
"How long does it take to train
one then so that it will be able to make you invisible and
protect you in combat, or resurrect you if you've been killed?"
I asked. Padwa looked at me sternly, and then sighed. "Tis
my fault lad. I've nae met ye as oft as I should ha', and
ye ha' been talkin' to too many people that dinna ken what
it means to be a Ranger. Worse than that, ye ha been listenin'
to what any Ranger knows is false legends." He went
on. "Jean-Luc, no matter how much training you give
yer pets, the spellcasters will nae' do two things. One
is cast a spell of invisibility on ye, and the other is
resurrect ye when things go awful bad. I've seen my
mare cast invisibility on herself, and something like that
can lead ta' an interesting situation in a crowd of ophidians,
I'll tell ye that fer free. But no spellcaster will give
ye a cure, or a heal, or restore your life. Sorry to burst
yer bubble my friend, but best to know now and spare the
disappointment later on, eh?"
Crestfallen, I realized my store of knowledge was not as
vast as I had hoped. It was time for me to take the role
of student again, for I was no master, and it seemed I was
not even close. "How well can pets be trained then?"
I asked. "Ah, now there's a good subject to learn from"
Padwa answered. "There was a time, years back, when
animals could gain strength and speed to areas that seemed
supernatural. Horses could match up agin' monsters they
would ha' had no business fighting. It was a time when Rangers
were few and our magics were strong." Padwa seemed
to look beyond me into the mists of the past. "But
that time is gone now. Now, you can train your pets, but
they will ne'er be like they were before. Seek the knowledge
that's available, and ye will learn those limits. Had high
hopes fer that grizzly of yours did ye?" "You've
heard about him?" I asked, somewhat stunned. Padwa
roared his laugh again, setting off yet another round of
people scurrying for defensive positions. "Heard that
he's killed a deamon with ye, and that he's as mean as a
hungry balron! He's well named then!" I reddened. While
I had named the bear after Padwa for its' orneriness, I
had never considered the possibility that he would have
heard about the bear and my adventures together. "I
meant no disrespect," I mumbled in apology. "And
there's none taken!" Padwa leaned over the table and
asked in a conspiratorial tone, "How do ye think my
nightmare got HIS name?" he laughed softly and gave
me a friendly pat on the arm. "What else have ye' been
hearing?" "Well," I said,
"I've been told that if one of my pets goes wild then
all the training I've given it will be lost."
Padwa looked thoughtful. "No, that's not correct. While
it is true that a dragon tamed in Wind will not have the
magery to get back in once you leave, if you train your
companion's skills, they stay trained. Before you ask, if
you give your pet to someone else, it's skills will stay
the same also. Trained is trained."
"Speaking of training," I
asked, "Can loyalty be improved with training?"
"Ye best be trained to feed your friends in a timely
manner, if that's what ye mean lad." Padwa answered.
"Loyalty is best served from a filled belly. Keep them
fed, and they will be loyal. Training your pet will only
mean facing a stronger, faster opponent if it goes feral
"Will my pets fight differently
with training?" Padwa pondered that one
for a moment. "Well, that's a tough one to answer.
If you mean different as in "better", aye, that
will improve. But if ye mean different as in will yer dragon
run off a tad and set an ambush, or have better tactical
abilities, the answer is nay. Take a frenzied ostard fer
example. If you gets up on a ledge a bit away from an access
point, well that frenzied will just sit there an' let ye
talk it right in to comin' with ye as a friend. Get on that
ledge to escape a silver serpent, and ye best have another
plan right quick, cause that snake will find that access
point, and you with it. Tamed or not, the frenzied will
never learn to just walk over and up the hill, while serpents
have the smarts to do that naturally."
"Should I have waited in training
my Animal Lore until I mastered my ability to tame creatures?
I have heard that lower Lore speeds up your skill in taming."
Padwa shook his head sadly. "Ah, now there's a good
one. No doubt some hard-workin' lad or lassie with no knowledge
of what they were taming mastered taming in a relatively
short amount of time. Someone else followed their advice,
and imitated their work ethic, and lo and behold! They mastered
taming too! Such is the price of false information lad.
How well you can tame is based only, and I do mean only,
on what and how much you tame. If ye want no more Animal
Lore skill than the ability to point at a creature and say
'That is a whatever', then that's yer choice and no one
else's. You'll gain no faster or slower. I suspect that
them that started that little tale tell it to those that
want to be Grandmasters in a day or three."
"I've noticed that when I want
to transfer an animal to a customer, I don't always succeed.
When I reach Grandmaster status, will I stop failing?"
Padwa shook his head. "I know I will still fail from
time to time. Honestly, with 100% skill in Animal Lore and
Animal Taming, you skill stand a small chance of failure
when telling a tame to go with another, even if that person
has top-notch skills in taming and lore!"
"One last question. If I tame
a creature, then free it, would I be able to come back later
and grow in skill if I tame it again? A lot of people seem
to think that is possible." "Ah, that's
a good one! While it may be possible for the very new Ranger-in-training
to gain in that fashion, it will not happen once ye get
more than 30% of your training done. Many folks make the
mistake between gaining skill even though they fail to tame
the animal, and gaining skill off an animal that has been
tamed by someone else, with being able to gain skill from
and animal that they tamed once before." "Say
you and I were out working on skills. You tame a bull, and
free it. Maybe you gain, maybe you didn't. Then I tame the
bull, and free it. Maybe I gained, maybe I didn't. Ye can
now tame and release that bull 'til the end of days and
ye won't gain one more speck of skill. Thus it is, and thus
it were meant to be lad."
All my questions answered, we traded stories of our adventures,
and I sought more about the new lands that Padwa had visited.
The sunrise found out tongues tired. I walked with Padwa
out to his mount, only to find it was not the mare I was
accustomed to seeing him on. I was confronted by a gold,
green and red
something that looked akin to a large
letter "S" that someone had turned on the side
and attached 4 legs to. "It's called a ki-rin by the
natives of Ilshenar" Padwa said. I looked at him dubiously.
"I shall have to take your word for it." He laughed.
"If you're taming dragons, you'll soon be ready to
tame one of these. Send word through the forest sprites,
and we will go get one together." The thought of taming
with my mentor at my side brightened my spirits immensely.
My skills were not getting better as fast as I would have
wished. But the lessons from Padwa would certainly stop
me from wasting time
chasing false claims.
A blue oval opened, and Padwa mounted his strange ride
and moved toward it. "Give my best to Mordanna"
he said, and with a flash, he and Sasha were gone. I thought
of all the lessons I had been given over the course of the
evening, and was shocked at all that I hadn't learned prior
to this time. Many things that I thought were truths turned
out to be nothing more than rumors.
"HEY!!!" an angry voice behind me shouted out.
"Who's going to pay for all this food, and the damages
to my Inn?!?!?!"
Stuck with the bill again. And to think that was a lesson
I thought I had already learned.