Messengers of The Forest
After the earth elemental was dealt with we quickly started to search for civilians that hurt by the creature’s path of destruction. I had been meditating for most of the battle, but luckily our group is composed of a good mix of people that kept it under control. Most of the people of Skrayhorn ran as soon as they saw the elemental form out of the dirt and rocks. Ylloh had opened her doors to the people of the slums where most of the damage had been done. She was serving soup to the masses and making sure any wounded were well taken care of.
I had a strange feeling that we would be seeing more of these indescribably powerful elementals until we helped restore power to each of the God-Dragons. I could only think of how doomed this world would be if Morgul hadn’t revived us. Were we the only ones? Was that why Morgul kept disappearing on us? To look for more people that shared in our fate? All we had to go on was that all of this corruption was because of Akor the God-Dragon of war. He was the root of all of the problems this world was seeing and he had to be stopped.
I thought about all these things as I walked through the streets of Skrayhorn helping anyone in need. Mostly moving rubble out of the slums so they could rebuild their small shanties. It pained me to see that so many were forced to live like this in order to be free from the oppression of the Queen. If I were only strong enough to do something about it, But I am only one person. The people who lived this in this part of the town were those who fled the larger cities of the east to live as far away from the Queen as possible. All of the women had cut their hair to shaggy messes with patches missing. Their faces scarred in different patterns telling a story I could not begin to understand. The Queen was a very jealous person and anyone who was deemed more beautiful than her simply disappeared. They had to mutilate themselves to escape her wrath. No one should have to live this way.
I eventually returned to the Blonde and headed downstairs to see that the others were talking with Morgan, Balfore’s youngest son.
“My crew is about two days journey from this town and they need to know what is happening.” The pirate said. “You must find them and tell them to head back to the ship and prepare it for departure.”
“We should leave soon, there is little time to waste. We have to find a whale to sacrifice so that Jourgund God-Dragon of water may return from his exile” Balfore interjected. After we prepared for our trip we left Skrayhorn and headed out to the wooded area that Morgan’s crew was camping at. It didn’t take us long before we were out of sight of the small merchant village and once again roaming the rolling hills of the plains that seemed to go on endlessly. Our journeys were always quiet in comparison to our stays at the Blonde it was if we all knew that our current goal was the most important thing anyone could be doing. Our moods weighed down by the importance of our task, but when we made it back to Skrayhorn we would always allow ourselves to feel unburdened.
Hours went by and night began to set as we arrived on the edge of the forest and according to Morgan we would near is camp sometime the next day. We looked for a spot that would make a good campsite for the evening. That is when we heard a howl in the distance. As it echoed through the trees the lone voice became a harmony. We knew what we were up against before we saw the pack of blink dogs as they ran and teleported their way to us. There were many more than the last time we had fought these strange creatures. Their number was easily the largest pack that I had ever seen. I made no difference to us. We would handle them the same way we had handled any other hoard.
Alessisa’s battle song sent us into our conquest for glory as our group divided to conquer. Tahn struck first with a rapid burst of his fists causing one of the blink dogs to fall backward and then teleport away. Balfore was also using his blades to carve the dogs that were foolish enough to stay within striking range. Haeys used his vast knowledge of divine spells to punish the blink dogs, and quickly the tides of the battle began to turn to our favor. With traveling all day using Arionix to speed up the process I found myself without a horse for this battle and with the speed and teleportation that the dogs used to get the upper hand I found my armor to be a burden and it was preventing me from being as fully affective as normal in combat. This did not stop me from dispatching a few of our canine foes.
After the battle, we caught our breath and began looking for somewhere to spend the night. As we walked through the woods we heard a sound and turned around to see a small group of men dressed in the familiar garb of pirates. Balfore stepped forward and greeted them.
“I am Balfore Yuestler, Father of your captain Morgan Yuestler.” The gang looked upon him in disbelief. I suppose it would be hard to believe Balfore looked to be younger and in better shape than Morgan. “He sent us here to find you and bring you to Skrayhorn so you could prepare to journey on the Great Sea once more.”
“You expect us to follow orders from a dead man who claims to be our captain’s father?” one of the men questioned.
“That is exactly what he is going to do.” said an old Elf as he walked out of the twilight. He was the oldest Elf I have ever seen, his body burdened by age and wisdom. I didn’t think it was possible for an Elf to appear as such. “I was once one of your crew Balfore, You look the same as you did the last time I laid my eyes on you. We will head to Skrayhorn and prepare.” Then as fast as they were, they retreated into the dark of the woods with only torchlight to guide them.
After making camp in the mouth of a small cave we made a small fire and ate a hardy meal after a day of traveling and fighting. We took turns boasting about our victory over the pack of blink dogs and talking about our plans for once we were able to free Jourgund. It was our biggest lead for getting things back to the way they were supposed to be. After meditating for a while I decided to go to bed, the warmth of the fire, and a full belly helped me drift off into a peaceful slumber.
As peaceful as it was couldn’t help from feeling like someone or thing was watching us. You could feel it the forest air we were not alone. As the first glimmers of light illuminated our camp, we all began to awaken. Our morning routines were quite ritualistic having spent so long together. We all did our part packing up camp and preparing breakfast. When all of our work was done I would sit and meditate while the others prepared to depart. Haeys told us of a group of mushroom creatures that had entered our camp during the night. He said they weren’t hostile so he just let them walk around and do their business. I shook my head and focused on my breathing trying to free myself from the chains of thought. Knowing that Haeys had let another intruder into our camp while everyone was asleep made it difficult to do so.
After a few deep breaths, I entered into a trance and I felt the warmth of Uther’s light around me. The heat made my breath catch and I returned to the world outside my mind. I took off my helmet as sweat began to drip down my face. I noticed a small cloud of what appeared to be mushroom spores encircling me and the campsite. I saw that Balfore was running around kicking groups of mushrooms, adding to the tempest dance of swirling spores. How he managed to move so fast in the heat astonished me, yet he continued. I noticed that the others were also free of the burden of heat. It must have been my armor! I had to take it off! Tahn was stuck in a fit of laughter and Haeys seemed to be right at home taking in the beauty of the forest. Alessissa seemed to be following a trail of some sort and began walking away. The heat did not subside, even after I was out of my armor. I felt naked without the weight of the steel against my skin. The others continued their activities and I saw that Haeys was heading after Alessisa. I knew that I had to follow and needed to bring my armor along, but something wasn’t right. I wiped my forehead clean of the sweat as I tried to think of what was wrong. My hand was rather damp and I couldn’t think of a time I have ever sweat so much. I gazed upon my hand out of curiosity and noticed that I had a hand full of my skin! My skin was falling off! I began to panic. Scrounging up all of my skin I could find and reattaching it however I could to get it to stay on. Once I had as much of it on as I could get I tied the rest together and let it drag behind me. I would get the Cleric to heal me. It was the only way. I had to catch up with him and Alessisa. I followed the trail of rocks that they were following and eventually I caught up to them. They were surrounded by giant mushroom people! I readied my lance. Krinix and I would save them. I took a step forward, but my feet felt heavy. I looked down and the tips of my toes and fingers were turning gray as I lost feeling in them. I slowly forced myself forward. The others were also slowly turning as well. I felt helpless as my body gradually hardened. There was nothing to be done.
Slowly my senses faded. Touch, taste, smell, and sight leaving me in a dark void with the only connection to reality being hearing. I could hear the fungal creatures scampering around and grunting as though they were lifting heavy objects. Then my hearing was also taken from me. It was like the time on Uustler’s Bridge, only this time I had been turned to stone instead of killed. How long would we be like this?….
Then the light began to return. Our surroundings had changed, but the mushrooms were still there. We all gazed upon each other in confusion. None of us seemed to know what was happening and the others gave me odd looks because my armor was all mismatched, or at least what I was wearing was. The rest was tied together not far from me. Before we had time to speak with each other a thunderous roar echoed through the wilderness. We were standing in the presence of a very large dragon.
“WHO DARES ENTER MY FORREST?!” The Dragon questioned.
With my vision still coming into focus, I looked upward and a flare of sunlight blinded me. I shielded my eyes and squinted; I managed to make out the shape of the massive green dragon that we had awoken in front of. His scales seemed dim and dying; covered in moss and dirt. He laid in the shadow of three trees that dwarfed him in size. Their girth at least 70 paces in diameter and about halfway up their towering height they seemed to grow together creating a humongous canopy for the great wyrm to seek shelter under. He raised his head higher stretching his neck to its full length.
“WELL? WHY HAVE YOU ENTERED MY FOREST?!” His bellow shook the trees sending a flurry of leaves dancing through the woods around us. I approached the dragon, standing fast in my convictions.
“I am Cinredi. My friends and I are here on a quest from Morgul that has introduced us to Pendos, The God-Dragon of Wisdom. I believe that you are one of his brothers; am I correct in this assumption?” The dragon let out a roar.
“THE FACT THAT YOU KNOW THESE NAMES INTRIGUES ME.” The dragon said. “ I AM DROMETORN, GOD-DRAGON OF EARTH.” He then looked over our group smelling us and gazing at us as though he was looking inside our very minds. “HA HA HA HA HA” he laughed, “I SEE WHY YOU ARE ON THIS QUEST.”
“YOU ELF!” he said as he directed his eyes upon Haeys .“ YOU ARE THE OFFSPRING OF THE HIGH DEVONIST, THE LEADER OF THE PARLIAMENT. SHE WAS MOST-LIKELY AWARE OF THE QUEST YOU WOULD HAVE TO TAKE PART OF, THE QUEST YOU FIND YOURSELF A PART OF NOW.” Heays looked into the eyes of the great God-Dragon without question. Then Dormetorn looked to Tahn “YOU DWARF, YOU HOLD MUCH RESENTMENT FOR MY KIND, AND IF YOUR PEOPLE ARE TO FLOURISH AGAIN YOU MUST LEARN TO FORGIVE US, MY BROTHER AKOR IS THE ONLY ONE THAT SHOULD BE HATED.” Tahn’s fists clenched giving me the impression that he was unprepared to let go of his hate. The great Dragon then looked to Balfore and said “YOU! YOU MUST BE A UTESLER, I CAN SMELL THE SALT OF THE SEA IN YOUR BLOOD. YOU MUST FIND A WAY TO BRING MY BROTHER JOURGUND BACK FROM HIS EXILE. YOUR FAMILY HAS A STRONG TIE TO HIM, SO IT MUST BE YOU TO DO IT.”
“So it will be then.” Balfore said as he cracked his knuckles. Then the great Dragon turned his gaze upon me, his eyes shifted and then he furrowed his brow.
“YOUNG PALADIN, YOUR FATE LIES IN THE CAPITAL, IT IS NOT MY PLACE TO SAY MORE.” Said the great God-Dragon of Earth. I played with the ring that I’ve had since my resurrection. I could not help but feel let down by this information. I have always known this. I had to stop the suffering of this nation’s people. I had to stop the End of Days.
Drometorn looked to Alessisa “AND YOU, I KNOW YOU FROM BEFORE, I CAN SEE WHY YOU WERE CAST OUT TO THE CRYPTS WITH THE OTHERS.”
“Why might that be?” She questioned back. A grim grin distorted the Dragons maw.
“BECAUSE YOU WERE THE ONE WHO KILLED THE KING.” The Dragon stated disdainfully. “IT IS BELIEVED BY MY BROTHERS AND THOSE THAT STAND WITH US THAT THE QUEEN HIRED YOU TO KILL HER FATHER AND TAKE THE THRONE. THEN WITH AKOR’S ASSISTANCE, THEY SUMMONED THE MURDER. THOSE FOUL DREAD CROWS THAT SIT AT THE GATES OF HELL AND THE NEGATIVE ENERGY PLANE LOCKING AWAY NEGAN. THEY STRUCK DOWN THE PARLIMENT AND ONLY MORGUL SURVIVED TO TELL THE TALE.”
As all stood there in shock of what the God-Dragon said, he turned his head to the sky.
“IT APPEARS MY BROTHER AKOR HAS BECOME AWARE OF OUR MEETING AND HAS SENT HIS DRAKES TO DEAL WITH US. HIS MINIONS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN TO BATTLE WITH MY MICONIDS.” the great Dragon called out as he stretched wings. As his ancient body moved the dirt and moss caked to his scales started to fall loose, and with two mighty beats of his wings, the God-Dragon of Earth rose from the ground and gave a loud roar that shook the forest down to its roots. “IF YOU WISH TO KNOW WHAT ELSE I HAVE TO TELL YOU HELP ME RID MY FOREST OF THESE INTRUDERS.”
We then readied ourselves for the battle. The cacophony of the Drakes approaching was deafening, there had to be hundreds of the beasts. They came from every direction in manifestations of every element. Air Drakes floated in through the trees and clouds above, Water Drakes swimming throw the rivers in serpentine patterns, Fire Drakes leaping from tree to tree as they left a blazing path behind them, and the Earth Drakes tearing the ground asunder. They all converged on our location. Drometorn made short work of them as the broke throw the lines of his Miconid army, melting the Drakes with lines of pure acid, reducing them to nothing but smoldering bone. The few that made their way to me and my fellow warriors were strong enough to give us a challenge, which made me wonder, how strong are these God-Dragons? and if we can’t hope to match the power of the ones that we have allied with, how will we ever manage to end Akor?
Shortly after the battle Drometorn landed and began spraying his acid on himself, and as the old damaged scales began to melt away I noticed the scales underneath were bright and vibrant. “IT APPEARS THE BLOCK THAT AKOR PLACED ON MY POWERS HAS FADED. I NOW HAVE CONTROL OVER MY ELEMENT AGAIN AND I HAVE YOU TO THANK.” the God-Dragon said to us with sincerity and gratitude. “NOW, I BELIEVE I SAID HAD MORE TO TELL YOU. MY BROTHERS AND I, THE GOD-DRAGONS WHO RESIDE IN THE WORLD. YOU KNOW OF PENDOS, JORGUND, AKOR, AND OUR ELDEST BROTHER UTHER, BUT KNOW THIS, THERE ARE OTHERS. LONG AGO UTHER SACRIFICED HIMSELF TO BIND NEGAN, THE DARK ONE, TO THE NEGATIVE ENERGY PLANE. DOING SO HE HAD TO SEAL HIMSELF IN THE POSITIVE ENERGY PLANE. NOW AKOR SEEKS TO UNDUE THIS, AND WITH THE HELP OF THE MURDER THEY WILL BREAK THE CHAINS THAT HOLD THE DARK ONE APART FROM THIS WORLD.”
“We can’t let this happen.” I said
“THEN YOU MUST FIND AWAY TO BRING JORGUND BACK TO THIS WORLD.” The God-Dragon said.
“We must hurry back to Skrayhorn and meet with my son and his crew.” Balfore said. “For this could be our only chance.”
“YES, THAT SEEMS THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION FOR YOU BALFORE, FOR HEAYS HOWEVER.” The dragon said as he looked upon the Elf. “YOU MUST MAKE FOR CELA, THE ELVEN CAPITAL CITY THAT WAS DESTROYED BY NEGAN LONG, LONG AGO.” as Drometron said this a swarm of Miconids began to carry Haeys away. “WHILE YOU ARE THERE YOU MUST REPLANT THE WORLD TREE, MY MINIONS WILL CARRY THE SEED WITH YOU.” The Elf relaxed on the top of the larger Miconids and took a puff of the strange spores floating around it. Haeys was a strange one put his involvement in the fate of this country was that of the highest importance.