DISCLAIMER: There is minor reference of gore, no adult content, no illicit language, no nudity, some violence.
A Lucid Dream
The Tale of Arlem of Tourhut, a Dragon Knight
Stories of Blood, and Memories of Sand
My father once told me a story, about the beginning of our world, the beginnings of time itself for our races. Our world, Litos, a world forged from the love of two goddesses; Eos, Goddess of the Sky and light, sister of the suns, and Dione, Goddess of the Earth and mother of shade. Or so they say. A legend would have it, the two Goddesses, out of love and curiosity, wanted to see life blossom. They created our world in the midst of the chaotic cosmos. They poured their love into our world, sculpting our lands and mountain ranges by hand, as they worked, tears of joy filled them, and fell upon the world, creating shimmering oceans and playful rivers. They built forests, and plains, fields of green and beaches of fine white sand. Or so they say. These legends also tell of the Goddesses populating the world with wonderful creatures, each with a purpose, and a soul. Providing them with sanctuaries to live and prosper within. To watch over and protect their children, they created the dragons, majestic and gigantic winged beasts, with shining scales, and powerful bodies. The dragons ruled over the lesser races, teaching and caring for them.
The Goddesses were so overcome with the joy of their creations, that they hastened to finish, leaving their final and most powerful protector of their creation imperfect. This final creation, was the dragon Kharvag, made to watch over and protect and lead the other dragons. Alike the other dragons, Kharvag was created to teach and protect the creatures of this new world created by the two Goddesses. For a time, it did. However, within Kharvag’s soul, grew something the Goddesses had not meant to allow into their world. An intense and overpowering greed grew from its flawed heart. The want of power, to ascend past the power of the Goddesses themselves, became Kharvag’s dream, its desire. Kharvag drew about it the weakest of the creatures in the realm, the easiest to corrupt. Through torture and vile experimentation Kharvag bred an army of flawed and twisted races. Their hearts and souls, as black as the Dragon’s own.
The other Dragons, had taught the more intelligent races about their world, about life. They imbued them with their own divine powers, their strength, fortitude, intelligence and wisdom. The lesser creatures flourished beneath the dragons. Right when their world had reached a peak of learning and knowledge, calamity struck. In hordes, Kharvag’s **** creations swept across the lands, defiling and butchering all that they had once held dear. Seeing the destruction of their homelands, their temples to the Goddesses, the inhabitants of our world panicked. Some, overcome with fear fell in amongst Kharvag’s ranks, proclaiming themselves first amongst his armies. Allowing his Avarice to scour their hearts and souls, leaving them wicked and broken.
Many tried to resist the onslaught, armies were raised, proclaiming their rights to live in the name of the Goddesses. The Aelfylin, having long ago branched into more distinct races of Elves, Felynx, and Diel used their knowledge of the arcane that the dragons had taught them, clashed with Kharvag’s defiled Aelfylin, the dark elves and succubae. The Lycans, betrayed by their brethren the werewolves, sought the help of the divine blessings of the Goddesses, hoping to one day cure their cousins. The youngest race, the humans, prideful and unskilled in comparison to the Aelfylin, joined the Lycans in their research of the divine. Among the races, warriors without the divine gifts of the magi and paladin, rose to the call of their burning homelands, driven to do all they could to protect their friends, families and ways of life. Under the leadership of the dragons, they fought back.
One by one, their Dragon watchers were destroyed before them, their armies crumbling with unmatched beneath the swarms of Avarice driven wretches. The Diel, masters of stealth and archery, vanished as a whole, leaving behind faint memories as Kharvag’s flood devoured all in its path. The evil dragon was close to his victory. When, amidst great strife and against all odds, a pocket of resistance appeared, breaking the ranks of Kharvag’s armies like waves upon a cliff. The army was made of those declaring themselves Dragon Knights, and having tapped into the hidden powers of their own souls, were able to harness the teachings of the dragons in ways none could before. The war grew bloodier, and stretch across the world. The Dragon Knights fought with unparalleled vigor, as they were the champions of Eos and Dione, who it is said, joined the fight themselves in ethereal flesh. Though the champions lost many, they were able to force Kharvag to retreat, to the northern most frozen Isles. Within the snow and ice, they were able to defeat Kharvag, and entomb the dragon forever. The Dragon Knights disappeared, lost in history.
Or so the stories say anyway. What I do know to be true though, is that over the next few centuries war ravaged our world still. In the calm that followed the calamity of Kharvag’s Avarice, the land divided into nations, each with a similar goal in mind, but with a different opinion on how to get it done. With Kharvag defeated, and the dragons extinct, the question arose, how will we defend ourselves should such chaos emerge again? The nations claimed the lands the Goddesses had created as sanctuaries, and began to build kingdoms. Wars followed, nations crumbled. Amidst the destruction a small nation arose, holding true to the original value passed on by their ancestors, and worshipping the Goddesses whose names were all but forgotten. The Goddesses championed this nation, named Ruemon after its Emperor, and helped them to flourish. The surrounding nations bent knee, their strength no match for the power of Ruemon. A tower was erected, in the center of Litos, amidst a lake surrounded by cliffs and waterfalls. Bridges from each of the lands were constructed, connecting them all at this center point. The people of Litos named the tower after their Emperor, Ruemon, and worshiped the Goddesses at its peak.
Temples and cathedrals were raised, each a tribute to the Goddesses. The world flourished once more. Over time, the population grew complacent. A divide grew in the people, of which was caused by the Goddesses. Acts of violence and aggression were carried out in the name of either, and due to the need to raise one above the other. More conflict ensued, but not nearly on the same scale as before. The three nations of Raden, Ledise and Emtlant arose again, quelling the struggles, claiming dominion over their own territories, and dictating the power of those that worshipped the divine.
I remember when I first came to the mainland of Litos, alone, and aboard a ship wearing the worn and beaten armor of my forefathers. My own father’s one handed long sword, pitted and scarred from years of battle and the recent skirmishes on Balt Island was strapped to my side. My family was of the mainland originally. From the small border town of Tourhut between the kingdoms of Ledise and Emtlant. My father had fought in those wars reclaiming the lands from the standoff between the Goddesses factions. The factions themselves having bent knee, and swearing fealty and obedience to the lords of the realms. It was after these wars, during our current calm, that my father, choosing to change the ways of which our family had lived in generations, took us to Balt Island where I was raised.
As a boy, I had helped the local village of INSERT herd bison, and fished off of the coast with my friends. We ran through fields, and played in ruins that dotted the edges of the island. We always laughed and joked of the Avarice War, playing that we were Dragon Knights, exploring the caves on the Southern Balt Beach. It was when I had finally taken over my father’s fishing boat, that everything changed. My friends and I, had been hauling in our catch nets taught from the weight of the fish within. We watched in awe, as boats the like we had never seen, passed the island headed towards the mainland. A foreboding drumming drifting across the waves. For the past few week before this, our world itself had seemingly begun to change, and not for the better either. The packs of wolves roaming the plains had become far more aggressive, crabs had begun to swarm like ants across the sand. A woodcutter had brought tales of mushrooms coming to life, and woodland cherubs that were violent and cruel. The town guards had been assaulted by gigantic spiders and giants made of stone when they had tried to deal with the anomalies.
The first day the boats from the north landed, driving through the white soft sand, ramps dropping to the ground, and a manner of beasts I had never seen before had run ashore. We withdrew into the caves off of the south beach to watch. Small doglike creatures with makeshift axes, and gigantic birds, lizard men and walking frogs, brutish hulking beast like creatures. With them, came three that stood out from the rest. One of the frog people had a crown upon his head, rusted and with placements missing gems, he strutted out, croaking in a language we were unfamiliar with. A lizard, coated in armor, and carrying a wicked blade lashed the backs of any of the creatures before him, gaping maw gnashing as it cried out at them. The last, was a large brown mountain of a beast, twice the size of those that looked similar to it. He bellowed, and they began to rush up the beach in a swarm, separating into like groups. My friend Kalieri, a Felynx, stepped out from the cave, curiosity getting the better of her as always. She raised a hand, covering her face from the sun, when one of the lizard men saw her. It screetched, getting the attention of the armored one, who turned.
To this day, I all too well can see the sickening grin that spread across its yellowed maw, it waived a claw, and Kalieri fell backwards, a large black shaft sticking from her chest. She gasped, hand reaching towards the bolt, eyes glazing over. I was frozen, shocked by what had just happened. Tenrir, a Lycan and Kalieri’s mate ran forward, and dropped to his knees by her side. He lifted her in his arms, cradling her against his barreled chest. Tears poured from his eyes as he cried, howling her name. He shook, anger taking him, as he laid her down and turned towards the lizards. He ran at them, barring his teeth, and fists clenched. They had stood there, a cruel and horrible laughter coming from them. When Tenrir reached them, he grabbed the one that had shouted by the neck and lifted the creature into the air. With his bare hands, he tore through the lizard, and a he did so, he was impaled by blade upon blade. The armored one came to him, wrenched his head back, and cocked its head to the side, starring at him with one beady eye. Then, with a flash of its wicked blade, Tenrir’s body dropped, a welling stream of blood absorbing into the sand as rivulets dropped from his head, which was still held by the creature.
“Tunkra!” the lizards began cheering, shouting and clambering amongst one another to get close. I am ashamed to admit it, but I dropped to my knees then, completely helpless and feeling lost. My parents had died years before, and Tenrir and Kalieri were as close to the only family I had had. I heard footsteps coming near me in the sand, and I looked up, into that horrid yellow grin. The beast knelt down beside me, and dropped Tenrir’s head in my lap. I looked into my friends eyes, grey and lifeless, but still defiant and full of rage at the death of his love. I looked at the beast, and it smiled wider. “It will remember usss,” it said, in a grating whisper, and it dropped one of its claws upon my shoulder. My shoulders had slumped, and I stood on wavering legs, completely lost. I trekked back to our village, my mind blank.
When I had reached the gates, the town was already mobilized, teams of soldiers were rushing to the entrances, posting sentries. Some I knew saw me and called out, I kept walking. I had come to a halt, not knowing where I was, until I concentrated on my surroundings. I had come to a stop in front of the Mayor’s manse, I pounded on the door with my fist, he needed to know what had happened. The Commander of the Guard, INSERT NAME was the one who answered his face, grim.
“Ah, the fisherman, what news, has something happened?” He said, taking in my bloodstained clothes.
Crowded Markets, and a Forest of Night
The first thing I had noticed about Ledise, was the way the city seemed to shine in the sun as we approached her by ship. I stood on the deck, amongst a throng of other survivors and refugees from Balt. Some, like me, had donned old armor and weaponry. Most had been joined by friends and or family, small groups of adventurous and glory seeking heroes to be. Most of course would be, and I; thinking back on it now, was no different. I came to the mainland, in search of something more, to make a difference, and to live a fast paced life, adventuring and fighting against this new threat that had come to Litos. As we docked, most of the adventuring parties took off immediately, rushing up the great steps of the Watergate, to the crystalline city beyond. I myself, took a different path, down an alley, passing an abandoned inn and some storage buildings. I emerged, in a massive throng of color and noise. A marketplace from the look of it.
All about me, men and women of different races moved in and out of shops, hawkers cried their wares, and lines formed among the more popular areas. Dogs and cats ran between feet, and children laughed and played, as they chased each other up and down the populated plaza. Colorful merchants tents were erected within the middle of the square, their owners boasting a variety of strange tonics and items. Fanciful weaponry was carried by groups of adventures, their armors and robes displaying colors I had assumed dedicated them to one royal house or the next. As I passed a Walren Merchant, he stopped me, large flipper like hand against my chest. He greeted me, his bristled mustache quivering over his tusks as he spoke.
“Good day friend, I have the finest wares around. Care to take a look?” He smiled.
“I honestly am just exploring the city,” I replied somewhat suspicious of how forward he was.
“Ah, new to our city of Ledise then, eh? You must be one of them from Balt, terrible thing that. But no matter, welcome to the Crystal City.” He said with a chuckle, the massive girth of his stomach shaking. “You should head to the city center, seek out our Lady Luann. We had heard of your plight, and she and The Council have made arrangements to greet you and your fellow islanders. I believe they even have made accommodations for you all and are working to find you all work.”
“Thank you!” I said, hopes raising at his words. “Erm… where exactly do I go?”
Smiling the Walren had pointed me in the direction of a set of stairs heading west, and out of the Market Square. I followed the road, up the stairs, and into a brilliant plaza, dominated by the massive sanctuary at its center. Around here, I saw familiar groups from the boat leaving, papers clasped in their hands. Riders of horses, lions, and giant lizards wove through the throng, their disciplined mounts patiently stepping around those on foot. I followed the crowd, heading to a point just above the Watergate stairs, where a mass had gathered to hear a woman speak. Standing before us, was an elf, dressed in a white gown, and accompanied by impressive guards and a priestess. She hailed us all, and when she spoke a general calm befell the crowded area.
“Greetings adventurers, welcome to the City of Ledise. I hope your journey was safe and swift.” She said, her voice strong but gentle as it carried out among us. “I am aware of your plight on Balt and the other Isles, and am deeply sorrowed by your losses, but am pleased to have learned of your victories. Many of you, have come seeking refuge, others, to enlist in the militaries of the mainland as we face this new and ancient threat. I welcome you all to our home, and offer you three nights stay in the eastern barracks. Should you wish to move on, and settle into another town, we have caravans leaving for each daily. The divine oracles, and their magics of teleportation are reserved only for those who wish to aid in the fighting. But their use comes at a price, due to the strain it places upon them.”
“If you would all gather into a line, and approach my commanders, you will each be gifted a voucher, and with it you will receive a basic set of items from the merchants in the square. Present your voucher, have it stamped, and carry on. There are many of you, and our supplies are limited despite our prosperity. For those of you looking for work, please check the City’s notice board, for contracts and requests. There is much to be done now, and due to the rising threat, we have fewer and fewer of our soldiers to deploy to each area. We of Ledise, greatly appreciate your help. You will be rewarded for each completed contract with gold. Thank you all for attending this welcome ceremony, and I wish you all the best of luck. Thank you.”
She stayed among us, overseeing as everyone hastened to reach the guards with the vouchers. As each person stepped forward to receive theirs, the guards recorded their names and information on a ledger. Finally, I reached the guards, and was asked like all the others before me, “What is your name, place of birth, and if you will be fighting, what is your battlefield occupation?”
“My name is Arlem, and my place of birth…” I paused unsure of what to say. I decided the truth was best if I explained it. The guard raised an eyebrow at me, his patience already waning in the noonday sun. “Tourhut, but I have lived on Balt Island my whole life. My occupation,” I touched the pommel of my father’s long sword at, my hip. “Warrior. No divine skills of the paladin.”
“Very well, Arlem of Balt, welcome to the mainland.” He said, presenting me with my voucher. “Quite the battered blade you have there,” He observed. “You should buy a new one, first chance you get. That old bit of steel is sure to break in real combat.” He waived me on, turning his attention to the Felynx behind me.
I pondered his words, as I walked through the city, stopping at each shop indicated on the voucher, and learning of their trades and skills. Some offered gold for an hour’s work, others items of use. When I reached the Howndrik, running the storage valts, I was shocked to learn of the magic that operated the warehouses. He explained, that ancient dragon magic much akin to that of teleportation made the vaults able to connect and communicate with each other, across the cities and towns, so that each owner, was able to access their inventory at any time they were nearby. Gratingly, I had taken the guard’s advice, and stored my father’s sword, making mental note to have it worked on at a blacksmith’s one day.
TO BE CONTINUED, SHOULD YOU ALL WISH, AND WITH AERIA and THE DEVS CONSENT: