End of Days: Rebirth VI

The Dragon of Old

Millions of stars shining brightly over my head. They formed a spinning cluster of light far out of the reach of any man. Their light made the field of flowers glow with a pale blue. I stood in this clearing awestruck by the beauty of the night. A horse’s neigh off in the distance startled me. I looked to see where it had come from and on the horizon, I saw a valiant white steed in full gallop heading my way. The horse almost seemed to float across the sea of flowers noticeably change color from pale blue to bright yellow as he passed them. The sun rising in the distance behind him as he came closer. The stars faded away as the sun climbed through the sky. The horse slowed down to a trot and the stopped feet away from me. The sun at its zenith. 

“Cenredi you are my master” a voice said inside my head. I looked around to see that it was just me and this horse of tremendous beauty and strength. Then I remember a part of my training. Every Paladin of worth had an otherworldly horse. I had finally earned one of my own. 

“What do I call you?” I asked as I reached my hand out. The horse nuzzled my hand and as I began to pet his flowing mane. 

“Arionix is my name” he stated. I felt a strong bond forming. This was my partner for a Paladin is nothing without his horse. 

“Let us ride Cenredi” proclaimed Arionix with a neigh. As I mounted him I felt a strong sense of power flow through me. And the next thing I knew I was galloping across the flower-covered field, the sun seemed to follow us through the sky and as daylight began to fade away the stars began to reappear. We headed straight for the sun setting on the horizon and as we drew closer I could see that this field was floating through the sea of stars. Arionix galloping steadily grew in speed until we bounded of the island of flowers and into the sea of stars. As we began to fall we landed in the sun, now shining light to the underside of the island, the light of the sun forced me to close my eyes and when I opened them I found myself surrounded by the others still asleep as the sun was beginning to rise.

I began to put away my bedroll and other supplies. Once finished I began to don my armor. The noise seemed to cause the others to stir from their slumber, and soon after the camp was cleared and as we were about to head out I showed the others my newfound ability. The ability to summon a horse was definitely a shocker for them. And as I mounted my steed I made a few quick jabs with my lance. “Let’s see who is foolish enough to mess with us now” I said to the others. 

The day went by fast and just before sunset, we closed in on the bridge. We decided that we would cross it tonight and set up camp on the other side. As we approached the bridge we could see that the structure was just as it was described at the end of the bridge on either side were the jaws of a whale, facing outwards, bound to the posts. Along the length of the bridge, the rib cage was placed so that at the longest bones were near the jaws at the end of the bridge, they shrank in size until the shorter ones in the middle of the bridge. Once we were on the bridge we could see the mountains where the crypt was looking inland at the large lake. And to the other side, we could see the river as it continued out to sea. The sun was almost completely set and it washed its oranges and reds over the hilly plains and the sky alike. Once we made it halfway across the bridge the Swordsmen took out his whistle made from the same bleached white bone as the bridge. The high pitched whistle pierced through the silence, it rang out across the land and then he stood there, waiting for something to happen. After a few minutes passed he put the whistle away and we started to walk away to make camp. Tahn noticed that Hayes was toying with his compass while he walked back and forth.

“What are you doing with the needle?” He asked. Hayes looked at him as he returned the compass to his pocket. 

“It was fixed to the bridge it won’t help us anymore.” Replied Hayes. We walked until the sun gave no more light and then we made camp for the night. After a restful evening, we made our way towards the mountain. The elevation of the land becoming steeper and steeper as we went. Eventually, we found ourselves at the foot of the southernmost mountain range in all of Sovereign. As we began our ascent Tahn lead us through a series of twisting mountain paths. Our pace was slow but unrelenting. We climbed ever higher and most of the day went by before long. A little after midday Hayes pointed out that a group humanoid skeletons were placed as if to warn people not to proceed any further. Tahn told us that we had to be careful for there were goblins nearby. Not even an hour later we found ourselves walking through a small canyon. The walls a good twenty feet high and the path we were walking on less than half that across. And as we walked through countless arrows began to rain down us from above! The others quickly began to run down the canyon path, leaving me trailing behind them, constricted by my armor. Holding my shield above my head I trudged after them. 

“Come on laddy” called The Swordsmen from around a curve in the path. I could feel the arrows of the goblins plinking off my shield and armor. Now it felt good to have the 50 pounds of metal covering my body from head to foot. As I ran to catch up to the others I could hear the sounds of battle from above. Rounding another corner I found ropes hanging down from the cliff face and climbed up found most of the goblins defeated or close to it. I charged the closest one killing it instantly as my lance ripped through his torso. Then I turned to see Hayes land a two-handed blow on one of the other goblins. The sound of his morning star shattering the skull of the goblin on impact followed by the flesh of his neck tearing loose. His head and what had to be half of its blood flying through the air spraying anyone nearby with a fountain of warm red liquid. “I wish I had a sword,” he said in a monotone voice. “I hate making a mess.” With the last of the goblins dead or fleeing, we decided we should camp here. The goblins weren’t about to try their hand defeating us anytime soon, and we had a good view of the surrounding from where we were. After everything was set up we retired for the night. If we were to make for the summit tomorrow we would need our rest. 

When we awoke the next morning he told us that a dragon-like creature woke him up and took his compass from him in the middle of the night. He then pointed off towards the summit. “He flew that way, I figured since that’s where we were heading so it could wait until morning.” Most of us were shocked that he didn’t wake us sooner. I couldn’t think why he wouldn’t want the only clue to he was with him at all times, as I held the silver ring in my hand before slipping under my shirt again. 

“There is no time to waste then.” I said, “let’s go get that compass back.” It didn’t take long before we came upon a small goblin settlement. To the far end were two very large doors. “Well,” I said as we gathered closer to each other. “First we must alert them of our presence, if you do not agree with my methods you must separate yourself from me.” 

“That is a terrible idea,” said the Swordsmen “your honor is going to get you killed boy.” With a little bit more debate we began an our attack, Hayes set a rope for us to use to lower ourselves down into the village. As I was repelling I fell and my armor let out a large clang. The goblins fully alerted to our presence began to face us in battle. “Looks like you’ll have your honor yet boy” the Swordsmen yelled jokingly. Then Hayes glided down the rope followed by Alessisa and Tahn. The Swordsmen jumped across the ledge of the canyon so he could flank the goblins. I quickly summoned Arionix and the fray of battle began. The sound of metal rending flesh and the ring of metal on metal filled the air. Alessisa sang her song infused with bardic magic inspiring us to win as we normally do. Tahn and Hayes fought the goblins closest to them while the Swordsmen leaped down from the cliff face landing at the entrance of the small village. From horseback, the goblins posed little threat for me and my lance, and as we fought and their number diminished the ground began to shake. A large worm burst from the ground with a goblin riding it. I had found my target.

 I raced towards the colossal beast and impaling the beast with my lance between the segments of its carapace. It let out a loud squeal and then I heard Alessisa’s song change and all of the goblins turned to her. Now the battle was ours. The beast started to move towards her as did the other goblins. Slowly The Swordsmen, Hayes, Tahn, and I made short work of the goblins and their pet worm.

We then headed for the doors at the other end of the village. The doors had to very ornate dragons carved into the stone. And two of the dragon-like being Hayes saw during the night stood in the doorway. As we approached they fled into the cavern of carved stone. Still being on Arionix I cracked the reins and he went into a full gallop, I tried to keep as close to them while managing to keep my companions in my sight as well. Keeping pace with the dragons was rather easy for they were no match for Arionix’s speed and grace. After a few minutes of chase, we came to another large door and it swung open and they neared it. Once they were inside they flew upwards and disappeared leaving me alone in a vast library with books and gold scattered around the floor. Once the others arrived a large eye opened on a strange device made from multiple glass lenses. The pupil of the eye almost enveloping the whole glass. 

“WHO DARES ENTER MY CHAMBERS!?” growled a large powerful voice followed by a plume of lightning and smoke. Then the largest thing I have ever seen stepped forward from behind the viewing device. The oldest and most powerful bronze dragon stood before us. Its color seemed faded and tarnished with age, it’s wings flowing its entire body length. 

“You must be the dragon Morgul was talking about.” I said. 

“MORGUL? THAT FOOL IS STILL ALIVE? The dragon questioned. Lowing its massive head down to our level. Even though I was on Arionix I still only came up to the dragons gaping maw. “I AM PENDOS! GOD-DRAGON OF WISDOM.” Boomed Pendos. Releasing another blast of arching lightning. “YOU THERE! CLERIC SOMETHING WAS STOLEN FROM YOU BY ONE OF MY DRAGONKIN.” Barking into his halls. A scared-looking dragonkin produced the compass handing it back to Hayes. Pendos then threw the smaller dragon into a shelf and laughed as it scurried away from him. He then scanned our group. The Swordsmen took his attention first.

“YOU SMELL OF SEA SALT AND OF MY BROTHER JORGUND. WHO ARE YOU?” The Swordsmen look upon the dragon “I don’t know, none of us remember who were we before Morgul brought us back from the dead” “BAH! YOU COULD BE NO OTHER THAN THE DIRECT DESCENDANT OF BROM UTSLER.” The dragon said confidently. “YOU ARE BALFOR AND YOUR FOUR SONS CURRENTLY WAGE WAR WITH EACH OTHER. THEIR BLOOD TURNING THE WATERS RED.” The Swordsmen was delighted with knowing his name, his grin wide-set on his face. “IF YOU ARE TO HELP MORGUL IN HIS TASK, YOU MUST END THEIR SQUABBLES AND UNITE THEM ONCE MORE.” He boomed. “YOUNG PALADIN.“ His attention on me now. What secrets was I going to learn about myself? Will he tell me some information on whom I was? What was he about to tell me? “YOUR FATE IS TO THE CAPITAL, THAT IS ALL THAT IS CLEAR TO ME.” Pendos stated. My path to the capital was confirmed. It appears I am the one to bring justice to the corruption of the capital. “DWARF I SENSE MUCH ANGER FROM YOU. YOU SHOULD NOT BLAME THE DRAGONS FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR PEOPLE. MY BROTHER AKOR DID THIS ON HIS OWN ACCORD.” Then his view shifted, his eyes widened, and then his brow furled as his mouth turned to a snarl. “AFTER ALL THIS TIME YOU RETURN ALESSISA!” Growled the dragon. He grabbed her with his tongue and tossed her some thirty feet. He bounded after her blowing smoke at her as she stood. The fumes overwhelming her he stopped. “WHAT BRINGS YOU HERE ASSASSIN?” He inquired.

“What are you talking about? I’m not an assassin!” She proclaimed. Confused by her statement Pendos pushed her away from him.

“YOU ARE THE LEADER OF A GUILD OF ASSASSINS, YOU BEAR THE MARKS. THEY COVER YOUR FLESH.” Pendos growled to her. “YOU BETTER GAIN CONTROL OVER YOUR FOLLOWERS FOR THEY RUN WILD WITHOUT YOUR LEADERSHIP.”

There is no way what he said was true. I could not be traveling with some vile murder! The very thought made me sick. I hope her new life lets her let go of her past, I would hate to have to fulfill my duties as a Paladin and put an end to her.

 “Pendos, I would hate to interrupt,” I said. The dragon took his gaze off of Alessisa and turned to me.“ We came here in hopes that you could read this scroll we got when we left the crypt Morgul brought us back in.” The dragon moved over to his viewer.

“PLACE IT UNDER THE LENSE. I WISH TO STUDY THIS SCROLL.” Pendos ordered. After it was set he let off a bolt of lightning loose on to the viewing device and it shifted to life, the lenses twisted and turned and soon the dragon fell silent as he read. “The Murder” Pendos muttered under his breath. “Akor, what have you done?” “HOW DID YOU COME ACROSS THIS SCROLL?” Questioned the God-Dragon of wisdom. We told him of the crows and our escape of the crypt. “IT APPEARS THAT AKOR IS TRYING TO USE THE MURDER, THE GROUP OF CROWS YOU SAW, TO BRING ABOUT THE END OF DAYS.“ Pendos said. “HE IS TRYING TO GAIN THE POWER OF THE GOD-DRAGON OF DARKNESS, WHO WAS BANISHED BY MY BROTHER THE GOD-DRAGON OF LIGHT. THEY WERE AT WAR COUNTLESS AGES AGO. NOW AKOR HOPES TO FINISH IT.” “COME WITH ME” he ordered as he left the room, walking into a large open room that allowed the setting sun to cast its light over the treasures that Pendos had managed to amass. “YOU SHALL REST HERE AND HEAD OUT AT MORNING. YOU MUST MAKE HASTE. THE MURDER MUST NOT PREVAIL.”

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