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The Sword of Andrion
Ages and ages ago, in the world of Tirisade, a land called Diantir existed. This land was said to be the purest land ever, and that only good was to emerge from it. Of course, these tales were just rumors, and nobody knew what would really happen. Well, almost nobody. There was a strange old prophet, who wandered from town to town, preaching all sorts of strange things. Everyone knew that the prophet's words never came true. Everyone would just laugh at the prophet.
Once, the prophet was visiting Sindain, a town close to Diantir. He prophesized that the king of Sindain would be overthrown and a regular peasant would take his place. The king was infuriated by the prophet's words and ordered him to be hung at dawn.
The night passed ever so quickly for the prophet, for it was his last. In the early hours of morning, the guards woke him up and grabbed him violently. They brought him to the town gallows and bound him in chains.
"Have you anything to say for yourself?" inquired the king.
"Indeed I do, his wickedness!" the prophet replied smartly. The entire crowd
gasped in shock. "I put a curse upon you and your subjects and this city. May the land of Diantir only bring evils for you! And I shall reveal to you how 'twill!
"In ages to come, a reign of fear,
Dragon's march, fire breath,
Forever gone is everything you hold dear.
And they shall bring destruction and death
To all they come near.
Born and bred inside the fire of ages
Full of spite, power and anger
Seeking to settle their fiery rages.
Shall they extinguish any luxury and languor.
Though beware of them, for they are the ancient sages!"
The locals, guards, and even the king burst out in laughter. The king smiled and said, "Old man, have you not learned anything in your experienced years? 'Tis a shame. But very well. Executioner! Hang him!"
The executioner, a man dressed in all black with a black mask, tightened the noose around the prophet's neck. Then with one swift tug of the rope, he put the old prophet out of his misery.
The next day, the king took down the body and nailed it to the gates of Sindain, and put a plaque by it saying, 'The Old Man who Defied Sindain.' And so as time went on, the townspeople forgot of the prophet and his words, except for the town scribe, who wrote down every single word the prophet had said.
Hot. Sweltering. Boiling. Stuffy. Only a few words to describe the blacksmith's main workroom. The blacksmith, Serandin, was working in the room with several apprentices. Recently, the miners had found a large supply of iron, hiding in the Snakestone Mountains, to the West. Several teams of men had been sent to retrieve an ample supply of iron for use. Right now, Serandin was working on a sample of iron that they had brought back when they first found the cache.
The metal seemed to be unusually easy to shape. It bent like clay but was as solid as stone. Serandin was holding his clamps, with the to-be blade held by them, in the fire. One of his apprentices was fanning him or bringing him cool water, because he had to use a strangely high temperature fire to be able to work with the metal. Maybe that's why it bent so easily... but Serandin had other thoughts in his mind.
Serandin continued to bang on the iron with his mallet. By now the metal was starting to take shape as a sword. The blade seemed to radiate in the blaze. When the blacksmith was satisfied with the shape, he lifted it out of the flame, and it felt extremely light. He set the sword in cold water, and suddenly wisps of steam hissed out. By the time the blade had cooled down, almost half the barrel of water had evaporated.
"Perhaps I shall show this to the king" thought the blacksmith. If he was to do that then he needed to make the sword presentable. He had some gold left over from a previous job, so he made the hilt of the sword out of it and stuck in a red, blue, green, and a purple jewel on both sides of the hilt. Finally, he plated the sides of a diamond and attached it as the pommel of the hilt. Serandin called over one of his apprentices and sent him to polish the blade till it shines, threatening that if he saw so much as a dent or scratch he would have the apprentice's head. Seeing that his master was not saying that euphemistically, the apprentice nodded without a word and gently took the sword and tiptoed over to a comer to set to work.
When all the work was finally finished, Serandin took a sheath and encrusted it with the leftover gold and jewels and put the sword gently into it. He attached it to his belt and set out for the king.
The blacksmith's shop wasn't very far from the castle, a walk of only a matter of
minutes. When he reached the gate he was prevented by the guards.
"I wish to see the king," demanded the blacksmith.
The guards laughed. "Honorable Serandin, now you know we can't let anyone
who wishes march into the castle. For what purpose do you need to see his highness?"
"It does not concern you. All I shall say is that I have found something very
interesting that the king would like to see."
"Well, old friend, normally I would cast out a storyteller like that, but since I know you are honest and true, I will allow you to enter. However, the king is not in the castle at the moment, but you may wait for him-"
As soon as the guard finished speaking, a loud trumpet sound was blast followed
by, "King Resgath of Avant, capital of the land Diantir approaches!"
The voice was soon followed by clops of horseshoes. The guards immediately began to lower the drawbridge. By the time the king's white stallion galloped past, the drawbridge had just touched the ground. The king was soon followed by his escort. When everyone had entered, Serandin bowed to his friend and entered as well.
Resgath had just sat down on his throne when the blacksmith Serandin entered his court. He smiled courteously to him and asked, "What may I do for you today, fine sir?"
"In a good mood, are we not, highness?" Serandin grinned. "Do you remember
the sample of the iron cache that was brought back from the expedition?"
"Yes, I do. For what reason?"
"I have fashioned a sword out of it and thought perhaps you might like to look over it" Serandin drew the sword from the sheath. and held it under his shoulder, hilt facing the king.
The king pulled the sword out from under him. He inspected it sharply and a wide grin crept across his face.. "Quite masterfully constructed, Serandin. The gold and jewels add a strong effect. However there is something quite strange about it. It feels too light for iron or any type of metal."
"Yes, that is what I have come to talk to you about. The iron was shaped very easily in the furnace, but only at a very high temperature. It radiated with a pure glow. I believe there is something quite special about this type of iron."
"You may be right, Serandin. Have you tried its slice?" The blacksmith shook his head "Very well then, let us try now."
The king lifted the sword and swiftly cut a piece of wood lying around. The sword made the air vibrate and make a sound. The slice was so clean that you could think that the wood was made in two pieces. Resgath and Serandin exchanged puzzled and bewildered looks.
"Serandin, this sword is both a blessing and a curse. It is wonderful we have such a weapon, but it can be dangerous in the wrong hands. I hereby put you in charge of guarding the sword," commented the king. He returned the sword to Serandin, who quickly sheathed it.
Serandin returned to his workshop and nodded in acknowledgement to one of his apprentices, signaling his return. He went to the back room and pulled out a two keys from his pocket and looked around to make sure none of his apprentices were behind him, then moved a brick in the wall and pulled out a golden steel box. He unlocked the chains around the box, then the box itself. He opened it, removed his sheathed sword, and laid it in the box, then quickly closed, locked, and replaced the box behind the brick.
The blacksmith walked out of the back room casually as if nothing had happened, but in his mind he knew he carried a great responsibility - responsibility for what might be the most powerful weapon ever.
It was a small house he lived in. He was quite young, only twenty. He was in good health, so it looked like he had many years ahead of him. And here he was, hunched over his table, writing. He was learning to become the scribe of Avant. Right now he was writing a book about his life and peasant life in general. Who would have thought when he was a child, that Andrion Legillas would be able to read and write when he grew up, and even become a scribe?
Andrion was a tall man, with brown hair and eyes, and a charming smile. His old friends used to joke around that all the girls fell in love only with his smile and not him. He was rather muscular and strong, but didn't train his military skills very often. He wasn't the fighting type.
Aside from writing his own book, Andrion also wrote a journal of new things happening in Diantir each and every day. He called it a 'newspaper' but everyone just laughed at the name. He wrote several copies of the 'newspaper' each day and gave
copies to important officials, the king, and so on. He was very familiar with what was going on in Diantir, as he was friendly with lots of people.
Andrion set his quill down on the table and got up and stretched out a bit. He looked out the window of his small house and saw it was starting to get dark. His stomach started to rumble. Andrion took out some slabs of meat he bought in the market earlier that day, and stuck them on a stick and put them on top of the fire that was already burning away happily.
When the food was ready, Andrion ate hungrily, then continued writing for an hour or two, then went to bed on the hay-covered board he had in his house.
A horse came galloping at full speed toward the castle with a single rider on it. He rode over the drawbridge and slowed his horse down to a stop. He tied the horse to a wooden pole and ran to the Captain of the Guard.
"Sir! Sir! The other scouts were killed! Only I managed to survive!" the rider
The Captain's eyes widened. "What? What? Slow down my boy! How were they
"The Euphidarians! They are mounting for an attack!" exclaimed the scout.
The Captain knew what this meant. Their neighbors to the North, the
Euphidarians, were gathering in large numbers and armoring themselves for attack on
Avant. For all he knew, they could already be marching their way towards them now.
"Scout, how long ago did you see this?" inquired the Captain.
"Four days ago. I came as quickly as I could. It looked like they would set out a
week from when I saw them, making them setting out in.. .three days! Whatever shall we do, sir?"
"I will alert the king of the mounting danger. Thank you scout, you will be
commended!" replied the Captain of the Guard.
The Captain pushed the scout out of his office and rushed to the king.
The Captain burst into the king's chamber, running towards him.
"Your highness! The Euphidarians are mounting for an attack! A scout from the
patrol returned to me and said that they will start their march on Avant in three days! Their army is massing!"
"Very well, then we have perhaps a week to prepare. Gather all the men of Avant! And send riders upon the fastest steeds to Calhorn requesting assistance! Begin overproduction in the blacksmith's shop! Go, hurry!"
The Captain ran out of the chamber and mounted a horse outside, and began riding through the town shouting 'Prepare for War! Prepare for War!' and rushing to Serandin's shop. On his way, since it wasn't far from the castle, he stopped off at
"Andrion, have you written today's 'newspaper' yet?" asked the Captain.
"Not yet, for what reason, sir?" replied the scribe.
"Write in it to prepare for war with Euphidaria! We have one week to strengthen
"War! Oh my!" exclaimed Andrion. "Do we have enough men to withstand the
"We shall see when the time comes," answered the Captain nervously.
"Then I shall fight and assist my city!" shouted the scribe.
The Captain blinked and gaped at him. "Andrion, are you sure? When was the last
time you picked up a sword? Ages ago, no?"
"Don't worry about me, Captain. Don't you have more important work to do?"
The Captain grinned and left Andrion's house.
The messengers from Avant reached Calhorn in two days of when they were sent. They met with the Duke of Calhorn and urged him to send reinforcements to defend the capital city of Diantir. The Duke agreed to send a legion of knights and horses, plus a full company of archers.
The scouts led the Army of Calhorn to Avant. One stayed a day ahead, in order to inform the town of the army's coming. By the time they had arrived, they had only a day left.
Meantime in Avant, a great tension was forming. The knights were gathering and shining their armor. The archers were carving new bows and arrows. The cavalry were armoring their horses and sharpening their lances. Serandin had to have more people work for him at the blacksmith's shop, working all day, producing armor, swords, and shields. The anxiety in the town was building up. They had not fought a battle in years. Some even feared they had forgotten how to fight.
Once the leading emissary to Calhorn reached Avant, the morale of the Avant army grew largely. Calhorn was known to have one of the best armies in Tirisade. Calhorn was also close to Melasinia, a nation allied with Diantir.
When the armies of Calhorn had joined the army of Avant, their numbers almost
doubled. They knew that the Euphidarians would reach Avant the next day. They were both excited and afraid.
Towards the evening, Andrion put down his quill and parchment, and came out of
his house. He walked over to Serandin's and asked him if he had any extra armor suits.
The blacksmith chuckled. "You? Andrion Legillas? Fighting? Heh! No offense
but you might be better off writing about the battle than being in it!"
Andrion grinned. "Really, do you have anything for me?"
"Well, I just happen to have an extra full set of chain mail, and a shield. but I'm afraid I'm all out of swords."
"Swords? How can you be out of swords?" Andrion asked.
Suddenly, Serandin heard a loud thud in his back room, followed by the clanking
of metal. His eyes widened and he cautioned Andrion to stay where he was, as he rushed back. .
To his surprise, he saw the coffer containing the Sword he was in charge of lying on the floor. But what was even more puzzling, he saw the chains of the chest unlocking themselves! As if someone invisible had the key and was opening it!
Too stunned to prevent anything, Serandin stood still in awe. Andrion wondered what happened to Serandin and if everything was okay, so he ran back and observed the same phenomenon.
Once the chest had unlocked itself, the cover flung open and the room filled with light. The sword seemed to lift itself and flew right into Andrion's hand. Andrion's jaw dropped immediately and let go of the sword, but it just flew right back into his hands.
And the blacksmith was watching all this. He wondered how this all could be happening. There was something definitely strange about this sword. He thought of what the king told him about the sword being in the wrong hands. But Andrion was true of heart, honest, just, and moral. He would use the sword only for good.
"Andrion," the blacksmith began, "this sword was a sword forged from the new iron discovered in the Snakestone Mountains. It is quite light for iron though, and it slices perfectly. There is something peculiar about this sword."
While Serandin was saying this, Andrion was maneuvering the sword around perfectly, as if he was a master swordsman who had trained all his life. It seemed natural to him, as if the sword was an extension of his body.
"Andrion, I want you to take the sword," he continued. "Use it only for good and justice. For integrity and honor. For morality and wisdom. Use it to defeat evil."
Andrion nodded solemnly. He bent to the floor and lifted the gold-studded sheath out of the metal coffer and attached it to his belt and put the sword in the sheath. Serandin took him back to the workshop and sent one of his apprentices to fetch Andrion the full set of chain mail and a shield. The apprentice handed it to him, and Andrion bowed in gratitude to Serandin.
"I shall not let you down, old friend!" Andrion promised.
The light began to emerge. Dawn had come. The scouts in the watch towers of the castle were on full alert. Horse riders had been deployed to the pure fields of Diantir to reconnoiter and sound the Horn of War when the enemy approached.
The armies of Avant and Calhorn were rearing for the battle. Out in the fields, the wind was whistling past the pure green grass. The land of Diantir was pristine and perfect. Over the horizon were the parapets of the enormous castle Avant.
And then, the Horn was sounded.
The archers of Avant stood by the inverted windows of the castle, waiting to release their arrows, while the Calhornian archers were in the midst of the infantry. The guards of the castle lowered the drawbridge.
The cavalry burst out first. Rushing towards the army of the Euphidarians. their armor gleaming and glistening. Lances in hand, they pierced the armor of the front liners of Euphidaria.
Next were the swordsmen, pikemen, axemen, and Calhornian archers. They ran with all their power, despite the heavy armor, to fight the ground troops of the enemy. The sharp-edged swords of both sides drew blood from the other, contaminating the ever pure fields of Diantir.
The archers in the castle were now very busy, trying to pick off any invader into their home. The drawbridge was raised so no one could enter. However, the Euphidarians had brought a battering ram and catapults.
The catapults began launching huge stones into the fortress, trying to take down the walls or anything else they could hit. Swarms of people moved the battering ram into
place and crowded around it. They grabbed the handles of it and began hitting the drawbridge. The drawbridge was quite strong, but enough wear could take out the bottom and make the entire thing collapse.
Seeing this, the castle archers had an idea. They began lighting their arrows on fire and releasing them at the wood parts of the catapults and battering ram. Other peasants who couldn't fight poured oil into containers and lit the oil on fire, and threw them at the Euphidarians.
Down on the battlefield, many casualties were being inflicted upon the Euphidarians. Andrion was in his chain mail that Serandin had given him, marching towards the battle, with his shield in hand. He seemed unfearful of anything. He reached the enemy and drew his sword. The blade shined madly in the noon sun. With every movement of the sword, it emitted a sound, as if slicing the air.
A mad Euphidarian warrior shouted a warcry at Andrion and moved his sword towards Andrion. Except that by the time it hit, he had no more sword. Andrion' s sword had sliced the warrior's in half just by contact. The warrior shrieked and tried to run, but Andrion stabbed him in the back.
Andrion marched on through the crowd dauntlessly, killing each and every enemy he saw with one swift stroke. By sundown, half the Euphidarian army was dead thanks to him, and a battle that Diantir should have by all rights lost, due to sheer difference in numbers, was almost a flawless victory.
After the battle was over, the army of Avant returned to their homes, while the army of Calhorn embarked on their journey to their own city. The next morning, the sun shone brightly on the fields surrounding Avant. But it was no longer pure. The grass was destroyed and crippled, and the field was all red with blood.
The townspeople of Avant duly buried their friends who had given their lives in the battle the preceding day, although Diantir's casualties were in the hundreds and the Euphidarians' were in the thousands. Not a single enemy was thought to have survived.
. The king came over to Serandin to gratify him for his nonstop work for the past week. The blacksmith explained to him what had happened with the sword and Andrion. He told him of Andrion's major success in the Battle of Euphidaria.
"Are you saying to me that one man took out thousands of warriors of the
enemy?" the king queried.
"Yes, your highness. But he isn't only a man, there is something special about
him." Serandin responded.
"If that is the case then he deserves public congratulations and gratification! First
I shall go myself though." .
The king did not, however, go straight to Andrion's home. However, he returned to the castle and took his daughter, Princess Valkyrie, with him. He wanted to introduce her to Andrion.
When the king and his daughter had reached Andrion's house, they saw through the window that he was writing about the battle. The king quietly opened the door, and Andrion peered up, and suddenly jumped from his chair and kneeled before the king and princess.
"Sire! Princess! What superior deed have I done to have the tremendous honor of
having you at my humble home?" Andrion inquired.
"Oh Andrion, you are quite modest. You know well enough what superior deed you have done," the king replied. "Valkyrie, I would like you to meet the noble Andrion."
Andrion took Valkyrie's hand and kissed it while kneeling. Valkyrie was the prettiest woman in all of Tirisade. Her blue eyes were as clear as the sky, her hair as gold as the sun. She smiled as Andrion kneeled before her.
"Noble Andrion, please stand. You need not continue with the standard
formalities," Valkyrie explained.
Andrion stood up and he and Valkyrie gazed into each other's eyes.
"Well I knew you two would love to meet each other!" the king grinned.
"Anyway, the reason we are here Andrion, is to personally thank you for the good you have done to Avant. The Princess and I request your presence at a ceremony and feast in your honor tomorrow."
"The Princess requests?" Andrion beamed. "If that is so than I shall be most
certain to attend!"
"Very good, Noble Andrion!" the king said.
And with that Valkyrie curtseyed to Andrion and the king bowed and left.
The following day, Andrion woke up late. He hastily ate a roll he had in his kitchen and drank some milk and jumped out the door. He had no idea where this feast would be, so he figured he should just go to the castle and wait there.
On his way into the main courtroom of the castle however, one of his friends from when he was a child caught him and told him that everyone was waiting outside in the Tournament Fields. They began walking, reminiscing of the past, exchanging stories, and catching up on current happenings.
Shortly before they reached the Tournament Fields, his friend departed hurriedly trying to make some excuse to leave. Andrion thought nothing of it and continued walking. The moment he stepped on to the fresh grass of the Fields, everyone in the bleacher stands stood up, cheered and clapped. Andrion's face began to grow red like a tomato.
"Mighty Andrion!" the king called out loudly from his throne. "Please join us as
our honorary guest!"
Andrion walked up to the king's throne and sat down next to Princess Valkyrie.
They looked at each other and smiled.
The king began to introduce Andrion. "My loyal subjects of Avant! It is with great pleasure I present to you Andrion Legillas, slayer of thousands of Euphidarians! He has accomplished that what normal men do not accomplish in lifetimes!"
The entire crowed cheered and clapped incessantly. Andrion stood up and thanked the king and Serandin and his friends. By now, Andrion was blushing severely, and when Valkyrie saw, she giggled.
"Andrion, kneel down. I hereby proclaim you Protector of the Royal Family." The
king ceremonially knighted Andrion. "Serandin, the sword."
Serandin stepped from behind the king and handed him the sword which Andrion had used in the Battle of Euphidaria. Andrion wondered how he got it, then just guessed that someone had come while he was sleeping and taken it.
"Andrion, I officially present you full ownership of this sword. It shall now be known as the Sword of Andrion!" the king proclaimed as he gave the sheathed sword to Andrion. "However, it is customary for the owner of a new sword to name the sword as he wishes. What name do you choose for this mighty blade?"
Andrion thought deeply. He wished it to mean something to the Princess. "I
choose to name this sword Valyn, in name of the Princess Valkyrie."
"Ahhh. a fine name for a fine sword! Also a name of valor you choose!" the king
commented. "And now, we shall let the activities and the food commence!"
Andrion sat down in his seat next to Valkyrie and smiled at her. She began to tell him that they were holding a tournament of the knights in his honor. The king had ordered a large feast to be served while the entertainment was taking place. Servants of the king had begun bringing soups and appetizers.
The tournament was underway. Several knights had now engaged in a jousting competition, trying to knock the other off his horse. Once everyone had fallen, they moved to the hand-to-hand combat stage of the tournament. Each knight had different colored shields with their family crest on it.
Back in the stands, Andrion and Valkyrie were talking about all sorts of things. Andrion told her stories about his life and how he grew up and learned to become a scribe, while Valkyrie told him about life of royalty, and of how her mother died. The two seemed to be growing very close just in one day.
The king saw all of this going on, and was quite happy. He wished that his daughter would become close with Andrion. He knew that if Andrion were to marry her, he would be a wonderful husband for her. He was very confident that Andrion was the purest person in Tirisade. Which he was.
Days, weeks, months, almost a whole year had gone by from the day that Valkyrie and Andrion had first met. Andrion now lived in the castle, since he was the Royal Guard. Every day Andrion and Valkyrie would stay in each other's rooms late at night talking to each other. Andrion had continued to write the 'newspaper' every day and made a special copy for Valkyrie herself.
Sometimes, they would take long walks around the castle or the town. or wherever they pleased. They spent hours and hours each day together talking, being together, or just holding hands.
Andrion knew that the princess's birthday was coming up soon, and he wanted to do something really spectacular for her. He went to the Minister of Mining and requested that some gold be brought to him as soon as possible. The Minister did not inquire for what, he trusted the Royal Guard, and made this his first priority. By the end of the week, Andrion had the gold he needed.
Andrion stopped off at Serandin' s workshop, which had prospered since the Battle of Euphidaria. He handed the gold to the blacksmith and asked him to make a ring out of it, with little diamonds embedded throughout the ring.
"Hmm, what's it for old friend?" inquired the blacksmith.
"A friend's birthday," Andrion smiled. He knew that Serandin had no idea about
his relationship with the princess, so he tried to hide it.
"Alright then Andrion. Is it important?"
"Yes, very. Try to have it done as soon as you can."
"Okay boss. I'll have it ready for you tomorrow."
Andrion thought about this, but then realized that Valkyrie's birthday was
tomorrow! "I really need it today. Extremely important. Think you can do that?"
"Hmm...well I'll get to work on it right away; come back around dusk," Serandin
"Thank you greatly!" Andrion exclaimed.
The next day, the king had an enormous banquet in honor of his daughter's twenty-first birthday. A large feast was being served in the main courtyard of the castle, and all the townsfolk of Avant were invited.
In the middle of the banquet, King Resgath stood up on an empty table and called everyone's attention. "My faithful friends, I would like to propose a toast in honor of my daughter Valkyrie!"
All eyes turned to look at the Princess; she was wearing a white silk dress with
gold threads braided through it. Andrion was getting a little nervous.
"Friends, lift your goblets in honor of the Princess Valkyrie!" the king finished, as
everyone raised their cups and cheered.
This was his chance, Andrion thought. He got up onto the empty table after the
king had sat down and took Valkyrie's hand and pulled her up onto the table with him.
"My lady Valkyrie," Andrion began. "I have come from the depths of peasantry all the way to this level. I have known you for only a year, and yet it seems like more than a hundred lifetimes. It is no coincidence that you and I were brought together," Andrion fished around in his pocket and withdrew the ring he had prepared. Andrion got down and kneeled before the princess. "Princess Valkyrie, Daughter of Resgath, King of Avant of Diantir, even though I don't deserve such an honor, I shall not relinquish to ask. Will you take my hand in marriage?" Andrion slowly slipped the ring onto Valkyrie's finger. The entire crowd was dead silent.
"M'lord Andrion, you are more than worthy of the honor. And you shall have it," the Princess replied. The entire crowd stood up and cheered so loudly that Valkyrie could not hear the 'I love you' Andrion had said to her.
As Andrion and his fiancée stepped down, the king whispered to his daughter and future son-in-law, "A wonderful birthday present, no? Heh!"
The following spring, they were married, and again a large celebration was at hand. The royal cooks had been working for months preparing food. The king was very proud of his son-in-law, whom he considered a son by blood. Andrion had trained another young boy to read and write and become the town scribe, while he was busy with his duties as Royal Guard.
The next day, Andrion and Valkyrie left Avant to wander around in the fields for a while. They spent the night out under the stars in the fresh plains. It was their first day together as a married couple. But that night changed the direction of both their lives.
Andrion had a strange dream that night. He dreamed of an old man coming to him and telling him to take the sword Valyn and follow it. Andrion however, had no idea what the man meant by 'following the sword.' He recognized the face of the old man, he had seen a picture of his face once. He thought he saw it while reading about the history of Sindain, a cursed town right by Fire Mountain, although he couldn't figure out who he was.
At the same time, Valkyrie had a dream of the same old man coming to her and telling her that one day she will be forced to choose between Life and Life. The old man's words seemed very enigmatic to the Princess.
When they woke up, they told each other of their dreams. Neither of them had any clue what their dreams meant. So they returned to Avant to retrieve Valyn to see if they could make any sense of 'following the sword.'
Andrion drew the Sword and attached the sheath to his belt. He glanced at the blade of the sword and suddenly saw a desert followed by an old, run down city, populated by Ores and Trolls. He had no idea what this was supposed to mean, but he was guessing he was to go to the city. Valkyrie was watching this and clutched his free hand.
"We had better tell my father about this," she said.
Andrion and Valkyrie came to the king and told him of their dreams and of the vision in the sword.
"A desert city.. .perhaps it is Keisaan, which is south of the Tirisadian Desert," Resgath commented. "I have heard many bad things about Keisaan. It used to be a prosperous city of Dwarves, until the Ores and Trolls of the Far East, past the desert, invaded the city. Until now, no one has heard or seen anything of Keisaan. Andrion my dear son, I do not wish to let you go to Keisaan, but you have Valyn, so I know nothing shall stand in your way. I will assign a full escort for you."
"What about me, father?" asked Valkyrie.
"You? What do you mean? Are you trying to tell me that you wish to go along on this perilous quest?! I understand your love for each other, but don't be foolish and run off on a dangerous adventure! Stay here, and Andrion will return," the king explained.
"No! I will go with Andrion!" she shouted.
"You shall not!" the king ordered. Valkyrie burst out in tears, and before Andrion could hug her and comfort her, she had run out of the king's chambers.
The king sighed. "You understand why I am doing this for her, right?"
"Of course I do, it's for her own safety. This is my quest," Andrion assured him. "Very well. My best men are on an errand for me right now, but they will return
tomorrow night. You shall leave for Keisaan in two days at dawn."
As soon as Andrion left the king's chambers, Valkyrie jumped out behind him. "Andrion, I am coming with you, no matter what my father says. I know a way
out of the castle without anyone seeing us leave. But I need you to get weapons and
armor for the both of us; I'll get food and provisions for the way. Once you have everything, meet me at the library. I'll see you soon," Valkyrie said, as she kissed her husband and left.
Andrion went back to their room and took Valyn and sheathed it. He ran hastily
to Serandin's shop.
"Serandin, you still have my armor from the Battle of Euphidaria?" Andrion
"Sure do. Need it for something?" Serandin replied.
"Yes. Make another suit of armor just like it for a woman. And also the finest
sword you can forge," Andrion requested.
"You and the Princess going on a little adventure eh? Don't worry, your secret's
safe with me!"
"Thank you Serandin. But this adventure might be more important than you or I
Serandin realized that his joke wasn't really a joke; rather, it was a serious fact.
"I'll get to work on it immediately!"
"I'll wait here then."
Serandin had finished making the other suit of armor plus a shield and sword, and handed it to Andrion along with his own armor and shield. Andrion gathered everything together and ran to the library where he met up with Valkyrie.
"Hurry, push in the right wall and drop the supplies there," Valkyrie said, as
Andrion did so. "Good, come with me."
Andrion followed his wife and she started searching the rows of books for something. She then pulled a book from the shelf and suddenly they fell through a hole that had opened beneath them.
They both hit the floor at the same time - except not on the floor. They landed on a large pillow. They were in a well-lit chamber. Across from them they saw their supplies. They quickly put on their armor and slung their shields over their backs. Each of them grabbed a pack of supplies, and then Valkyrie led Andrion to a small opening through which they had to crawl through. They did so, and then saw the fresh plains of Diantir. They were out of Avant.
Andrion and Valkyrie left Avant hurriedly, before someone would notice Valkyrie's absence and catch them. They traveled for several days through the forests of Diantir without rest during the day. Finally, they had reached the Whispering River. The Whispering River ran from two days' walk from Sindain down to the Sea of Tirisade. The River protruded near the Desert, and near Keisaan, so the best plan would be to ride down the River and cut their time twofold.
Despite its name, the Whispering River did not whisper at all. In fact, it was known to be a very violent waterway. The other river of Tirisade, the Rambling River, was also the opposite of its name. The Rambling River was actually rather quiet and smooth. The miners of Avant in the Snakestone Mountains sent their quarry down the river, since it ran for half the path. Then, another group of workers dragged the quarry to Avant. But no one ever understood why a quiet waterway was called the Rambling River and a violent one called Whispering. Some people had claimed to understand why, but they were just laughed at. It had been known throughout the land that no one could solve the Riddle of the Rivers.
Andrion drew Valyn from its sheath and swiftly sliced down a tree and pushed it over. He cut up the trunk into wooden boards and tied them together to form a makeshift raft.
Andrion and Valkyrie climbed onto the raft, both of them paddling and struggling for control over the raft. The water put up a long and hard struggle. Finally, they reached a calm place in the river. The entire world around them was silent. The only sound Andrion heard was a rather loud sound of the rolling waves. Andrion and Valkyrie were tired out from their struggle against the choppy waters, plus night was nearing. They pulled the raft up on the shore and set up a small campsite.
Once the fire they lit had been reduced to crackling embers, they fell asleep. Andrion was dreaming of the river. He saw the waves crash against the banks, but instead of hearing a loud noise of the impact, he rather heard quiet, calm, rolling waves. The same sound he had heard when they reached the passive part of the river. Could it be that he was hearing the actual sound? No, he was sure he was asleep. He listened closely to the waves. At first it was all he heard, but then he could faintly make out some words. Some sort of whispering. Some sort of a poem.
"I shall tell you what none can see
In your journey there will be stops a three.
Before ye shall enter thine peril of fire
Shall ye enter the depths of mire.
Through the vast deserts of sand
Shall ye incur a helping hand.
In the mountains of snake's stone
Shall ye discover that which is unknown.
The city of the sea shall be thine third sojourn
Where your course will then turn
To thy final stop, a place of ancient disdain,
The historical and legendary bane of Sindain."
This poem kept repeating in Andrion's mind By the time he woke up, Andrion knew the entire poem by heart. He pondered all during the morning's meal its enigmatic meanings. He thought that the line about .'vast deserts of sand" probably meant Keisaan. But what helping hand would he incur? And also, what was he going to be doing in this bane of Sindain? He had heard of the town in his studies but thought it to be in ruins now. He had decided not to tell Valkyrie; there was no point in getting her worried.
As they neared the part of the river which they had to get off at, Andrion began hearing the wave-poem again in his ears. He began to twitch from nervousness. Valkyrie noticed this and asked what was wrong. He made a dismissing gesture and said it was nothing, he had just developed a twitch from the air. Valkyrie shrugged and turned back to paddling the raft.
After they left the river, they had about half a day's walk through the desert to reach Keisaan. They had made sure to fill their waterskins to the brim from the river water. Even half a day through the Tirisadian Desert was enough to make you die of thirst.
The trek through the desert was a hard one, since they walked on foot and had to carry all their supplies and provisions. The armor they wore especially weighed them down and slowed them to a slow trot.
Finally, as night approached and the desert was getting cold, they had reached the entrance to the ruined Dwarven city of Keisaan. The arch of the entrance still stood, with its gates wide open. At the apex of the arch was a glowing orb with misty vapors swirling around in it. Andrion looked up at it and observed the patterns of the swirling colors. For one moment, he thought he saw the mists arranged in a pattern of a skull. On one of the sides of the arch was a plaque which read "Dwarven Orb of the Omen".
For now, there was nothing the couple could do. It was getting very cold and it was very dangerous to wander around for fear of being captured or worse by the Orcs and Trolls than scour the ruined village. They entered the old guardhouse by the arch, brushed away some spiderwebs, moved some old skeletons and fell right asleep.
When Andrion and Valkyrie awoke, they were no longer in the guardhouse. Instead, they were in a dank and smelly cellar, chained in shackles. They heard grunts and snorts that sounded like the Orcish language. Sure enough, by a small window at the top of the cellar were two Ores arguing over something.
As Andrion peered around the cellar, he could find no trace whatsoever of a door or and opening, except for the window, which was barred. Then how could they have been thrown in here in the first place? Andrion's thoughts were interrupted when one Orc guard barked to another and they leaned down and looked through the window and
pressed their pig-like noses up against the bars.
"You us preesoners," one guard snorted.
"We make you into Ore stew!" the other shouted. "Orc stew taste very good with
hoomans. We roast you hoomans and put you in stew! Us Orcs feast on stew tonight!"
"Dordon, we no take out hooman preesoners now. If we do, they see secret entry," the first Orc rationalized
"Not if they stew!" Dordon replied, to which both guards broke out chortling with glee. Dordon sniffed around and commented, "Peeeeeeyooooo! You hoomans steeeenk!." Andrion didn't think the Ore was one to be talking. The two Orcs walked away snorting and chuckling.
Andrion began to consider what the second Orc guard had said. There is a secret entry to the prison cell, which must mean it is also a secret exit. But where could this mysterious exit be? The walls looked solid, the floor felt smooth, there was no object to cover any sort of opening, the ceiling.. .there! In the ceiling there was a patch of discolored wood, different from the rest of the ceiling.
"Valkyrie, climb on top of my shoulders and try to reach that patch of wood that's
different from the rest of the ceiling!" Andrion said excitedly.
Valkyrie climbed on top of Andrion's shoulders like he had said, but couldn't reach it. She started jumping to try to reach it, but couldn't. All the jumping started to
hurt Andrion's shoulders.
"I can't, I can't, it's too high!" Valkyrie complained.
"Maybe you need a little more height," a gruff voice said.
Out of the dark, a short person with a long beard stepped into the light from the
window. He had red hair, a red beard, bushy red eyebrows and a strong face. '
"My name is Drekkar," the figure introduced himself. "I'm the only Dwarf that remains from the destruction of Keisaan. The Orcs and Trolls fought over who would imprison me and hold me captive. Trolls are usually nicer to their captives but.. .well, never trust a Troll to win in a battle of intelligence."
"I am Andrion, this is my wife Valkyrie," Andrion introduced themselves. "We were just resting in the guardhouse and when we woke up, we were here. We think that we may have found the exit. Would you please help us reach it?"
"Sure, I'm sick of waiting here doing nothing," Drekkar replied. He climbed on top of Valkyrie's shoulders, and she on top of Andrion's. Drekkar managed to touch the patch of wood and pulled it open with one of the holes in the wooden planks. Heavy armor and supplies fell out of the compartment, clobbering the three and knocking them down to the ground.
"Ouch! So that's where my armor's been hiding these years!" Drekkar commented.
The three decided that since there was no secret entry or exit and the Orcs were just trying to taunt them, they would break out of the cell with their weapons. They had armed themselves up, ready to go, and drew their swords and started hacking away at the wooden walls.
When they had finally broken a hole big enough for them to fit through, they all climbed out. Right before Andrion climbed out he noticed a big wooden door right next to the hole they broke, in plain sight and easily opened. That must have been the secret entry. Orcs obviously didn't understand what the word secret meant.
After they had collected all their supplies, Andrion had thanked Drekkar for his help and bid him good luck wherever he traveled.
"You helped me get out of that horrible place, I owe you. I really have nothing to do now that every Dwarf near here is gone. The only Dwarven cities left are in the Far East, where it is heavily populated with all the races. Would you mind if I just stuck with you, help you out a little when I can?" Drekkar asked.
Valkyrie grinned widely. "Of course, we would be more than happy to have you
travel along with us!" she said.
"Yes, quite happy..." Andrion remarked. "Come, let us find our way out of here
before any of the Orcs see us."
It took them about a day in order to find the exit to the city without being seen. That night, they had made sure to sleep far away from the city, even if it meant being in the cold desert night. When they were asleep, Andrion dreamt again of the old man coming to him and telling him to follow Valyn. Valkyrie dreamt again of the choice between Life and Life. Drekkar dreamt a dream similar to Valkyrie's; he would have to choose between Loyalty and Loyalty.
When they awoke, once again they had told each other of their dreams. Andrion was the only one that had understood his dream. He drew the golden-hilted sword from its sheath and gazed into the blade. All he saw was the reflection of a vulture circling
Drekkar's head and releasing its droppings onto it. Andrion chuckled. But yet there was no strange vision like the first time
And then the blade flashed brilliantly. The blade began to glow and then a grand vista of towering mountains appeared in the blade. He saw little people scurrying around them, hauling iron and other metals. He recognized that what he was seeing were the Snakestone Mountains and the people were the miners of Avant and Calhorn. He realized that his journey would now lead him to the Snakestone Mountains. He tried to recall what the wave-poem at the Whispering River had said about his second stop...
"In the mountains of snake's stone
Shall ye discover that which is unknown."
What would he discover that was unknown? Only time would tell.
They began their journey westward that day. They guessed it would take them perhaps three weeks to a month to reach the Snakestone Mountains. They could not take any shortcuts this time, since the Rambling River ran eastward and they needed to go west.
They began walked through the desert for several days. Finally, they had reached the Whispering River where they once had rafted down to reach Keisaan. Which meant they were also close to Avant. Valkyrie longed to return home but wished to stay with Andrion. They had to remain cautious, because by now the king had probably sent scouts to search for them.
They continued traveling, now two weeks having passed since they had set out from Keisaan. Their provisions began to run low and their waterskins began to dry out. They would reach the Rambling River soon, so they could fill their waterskins, but where would they get any food? Their stomachs rumbled incessantly.
Once they had reached the Rambling River and drank all the water they could, they laid down to sleep by the river bed. Just as he had by the Whispering River, Andrion dreamt once again of the river and its soft waves. And along with the waves, he heard another wave-poem. He had solved the Riddle of the Rivers.
"Not as three shall ye end your journey; ye shall need more Another one you shall meet, making your tally four.
For they are four, but one shall ye see
One for one, but not the other three.
Gold, silver, red and black are they;
If ye fail, a large price will there be to pay.
Creatures of the fire from which they are born
Live to make all near them forlorn.
From Diantir have they come
To destroy those in Sindain struck dumb.
Keeping a prophet's curse upon the town,
Tearing its houses and buildings down.
These are the creatures of the Mountain of Fire,
The Four Dragons await to make your pyre!"
This wave-poem was even more elusive and enigmatic than the first. But Andrion had understood what it meant. Their final destination would be the dreaded Fire Mountain, home of the Dragon's Grove, where lived the Four Dragons.
When Andrion studied the history of Sindain, he had read that an old prophet had cursed Sindain before his death that Diantir would bring only evils for Sindain. Years later, four monstrous and horrific dragons appeared out of Diantir, flew to Sindain and reduced it to rubble without mercy. After that, they had nested on Fire Mountain, not far from Sindain. Since then, no one has neared neither city nor mountain.
When he was young, this history of the Four Dragons had deeply fascinated Andrion. He read any books he could find about the topic. He discovered that the Four Dragons were in four colors: gold, silver, red and black. The black was Andritakna, the dragon of war. The red was Lataka, dragon of magic. The silver was Reitakya, dragon of wisdom and knowledge (dragons are very smart actually). The final one, the leader of the Four Dragons and the rarest type of dragon was Nertakda, the gold dragon of chaos. No one had ever seen the dragons and lived, so there was no accurate picture of them. All that was known was their color, name, and what they represent in the Astral Plane.
The Astral Plane is an ethereal place where all living things are represented by their life forces. The Astral Plane is what determines the characteristics of the Earthly Plane. Those things that cannot be represented as a living thing in the Astral Plane, such as war, magic, wisdom and chaos, are represented by a great and powerful dragon in the Earthly Plane. It is said that he who slays a dragon inherits its power over the realm it controls.
After he awoke, Drekkar already had a fire going and was roasting some meat
from a deer he had shot with his bow and arrow. Valkyrie was still asleep.
"Drekkar, tell me, what was Keisaan like before the Orc and Troll armies
invaded?" Andrion questioned.
"Well, Keisaan used to be known as the most prosperous Dwarven city of Tirisade," Drekkar began. "I used to be a war trainer. I trained the young little dwarves of the city how to fight and what strategies were the best in a battle. Dwarves are quite resourceful, especially in war, as you might know. The Dwarves have an inherent sense of battle and craftiness passed on from our ancestors who first fought in the Dwarf-Elf War.
"We had heard rumors of a great army massing to attack Keisaan. We thought it was an Elf army from the East. They were very jealous of our prosperity and wealth. We were wrong. We had prepared for battle with Elves but we got war with Orcs and Trolls. Orcs and Trolls normally don't get along. There must have been a great jealousy of us for them to fight side by side. We had fought valiantly, but they slaughtered every single thing that moved. They do that quite well. Now, the ruins of the city are divided into the Orc Sect and the Troll Sect. I'm the only Dwarf left from Keisaan."
After Drekkar finished his story, Valkyrie awoke. Drekkar had finished roasting the meat and divided it up among them. They had about two weeks to go until they reached the Snakestone Mountains. They decided it was best to start early, so they packed up and headed off.
About a week had passed and they were still following the Rambling River, since the river delta was on a mountain in the Snakestone chain. They had stopped for a while to rest under the shade of some trees. The wind rustled noisily through the leaves of the
trees. The three were exchanging stories of their youth.
"What was that?" Drekkar interrupted.
"What was what?" Valkyrie asked.
"I just heard a low growl or grunt of some sort," Drekkar explained.
"I didn't hear anything," Andrion commented. "It's just the wind."
"No, I don't think it is...there it is again! Did you hear it?" the Dwarf inquired.
"I heard something.. .not sure what it is," Andrion answered.
They got up and drew their swords, standing back to back very silently. The
grunting continued, but more quietly, as if a whisper now.. .and then it stopped. All that could be heard now was the jaunty chirping of the birds.
All of a sudden, a deep but loud warcry was sounded from all around them in the trees, followed by dozens of ugly creatures jumping out at them with clubs. The creatures had horns curled up at the sides of their heads, their clothes were rags with a rope tied around their waste. Their skin was very dark and their faces made them look like a primitive being.
"Ogres!" Drekkar shouted, dueling one of the horrid creatures off. Their weapons were simple wooden clubs and they were easy enough to fight off, but with numbers they could kill. But then again, anything with their odor could.
After they had fought off the last one, they collapsed on the ground to sleep.
It took them another full week of nonstop traveling, but finally they reached the delta of the Rambling River. The Snakestone Mountains towered above them. This was the second stop in their journey. The Whispering River wave-poem had said they would discover that which was unknown. They had yet to find out what that would be.
They met the lead miner there and asked him where the new iron supply was located, because they wished to discover why Valyn was such a powerful sword. He directed them to the center of the mountain chain and left them there.
Andrion noticed a faint glimmer off in the distance, so they began walking towards it. It seemed like it was in the dead center of one of the mountains. Since the inside of the mountain was so dark, the glow was their only light source, and consequently they kept bumping into each other.
When they had reached the center, there was a platform with steps up to the top. On the platform was a pedestal holding a brilliant crystal, glowing fervently. They stepped onto the platform and looked around. In four directions was the same straight path, directly towards the middle.
Valkyrie moved to lift the crystal from its pedestal but burned her hand when she
touched it. "Ow!" she yelped in pain, grasping her wounded hand.
"Gotta be careful with that," Drekkar said calmly.
"I wonder if anyone knows about this crystal..." Andrion trailed off. "It's
probably what gives the iron its power."
"Now who in Tirisade would ever be deluded to thinking a dumb crystal gives
iron power to slice cleanly like a knife through butter?" Drekkar retorted.
"There is a plaque below the crystal; if you can block out the light and manage to
read what it says, maybe it will provide some useful insight," Valkyrie suggested.
The Dwarf bent over and shielded his eyes from the light and managed to make out what the plaque had said. It said, "The Crystal of Light. Hollower of Mountains. Guardian of Mithri1 "
"Hollower of Mountains. . .this crystal must be what keeps the inside of this
mountain hollow. Okay, that's simple enough.. .but guardian of mithril?" Andrion asked.
"'Mithril.. .back in Keisaan, I used to be real friendly with the blacksmith," Drekkar began. "I seem to recall hearing him say something about a strange yet powerful
type of metal called mithril. Now that I think about it, its description matches Valyn. Mithril is the most lightweight of all metals. Very powerful. Very dangerous too, if it
falls into hands of one that is not pure."
"How does one know if he is pure or not?" Andrion asked.
"He doesn't. Purity is represented in the person's life force in the Astral Plane,"
Drekkar replied. "Most people aren't though."
"No, huh? That can't be good. The king has already sent to have more mithril mined. They don't know the consequences of it. Something must be done to prevent any more being taken." Andrion looked at the crystal, then at Valkyrie, then gazed back at the crystal intently and thoughtfully. "I've got it! We need some way to get the crystal out of here, that way the mountain will collapse. And we have to make sure that we aren't in here when it does." .
"How are we going to do that?" Valkyrie asked demurely.
"I have some rope here. Not long enough to reach the exit though," Drekkar said. Andrion thought for a while. "If we tie one end to the crystal and the other to
something else, we can pull the crystal off its pedestal.. . but what will we tie it to?" Andrion looked around him. Nothing around but mithril. "That's it! We tie it to some mithril!"
"Sounds good to me," Drekkar remarked. He pulled out a coil of rope from his bag and tied it tightly and firmly to the crystal, and ran as far as the rope would go. Andrion sliced off a long pole of mithril and tied it to the other end of the rope. They all ran out of the mountain and Drekkar pulled the pole with all his strength and managed to knock the crystal off. The mountain began rumbling violently, then imploded and collapsed on itself, leaving nothing but a pile of rubble. That was the end of the mithril.
"What was once unknown is now unknown again," Andrion mused.
They left the Snakestone Mountains the following day. That night, once again they had the same dreams they had after they left Keisaan. Neither Valkyrie nor Drekkar could make sense of their dreams yet. All they knew was that there was one final stop to make, which meant one final vision in the sword.
The next morning, Andrion woke up and dutifully drew Valyn from its sheath. They gazed into the blade and saw flocks seagulls over the water and wooden ships getting ready to set sail. The nearest port city was Hiarthus in Melasinia, which was in the far northwest.
And so they set out once again, knowing that the end of their journey was near. They would finally find what they have been traveling endlessly for. The whole journey was well past two months. None of them even knew why they even started the journey
anymore. Maybe for adventure, maybe for fame. But it didn't matter anymore either, since there was no turning back now.
They had decided to stop and rest near the border of Melasinia. All around them were plains, no trees for them to stop under for shade. Off in the distance though, they could manage to make out a cave of some sort. Perhaps that would suffice as shelter.
The cave was dark; the only light they had was a lantern that Drekkar carried around The cave was dank and gloomy. Drops of water fell from the pointy stalactites above them. Thin rivulets of water ran down the cave walls. The ceiling seemed to grow lower and lower, forcing them to a crawl.
Towards what they thought was the rear of the cave, they saw a faint glimmer of light. Further on, torches began to appear on the walls. There was a large round anteroom. that was fairly well lit. Four doors to different chambers were lined up at the back of the room. In the center of the room was a round table that looked similar to a tree stump. The three sat down on the table and let out a big sigh of relief and relaxation.
They relaxed too early. Out from each of the four chambers appeared one of the masters of this cave. From the first came a hydra, a serpentine lizard with seven heads. From the second came a manticore, a lion-like creature with a mane of poison and wings. From the third, a gorgon, a large and fat bull with horns as sharp and pointy as spears and a breath of fire. And from the fourth, a basilisk, a stout lizard-like creature. The four creatures advanced slowly onto the intruders who proceeded to draw their swords.
The basilisk was first. It leaped into the air and latched on to Valkyrie's back. She started shrieking and screaming and running around, trying to knock the lizard off. Drekkar aimed his bow and arrow carefully, then loosed the arrow which plunged into the basilisk's back, spurting blood all over. Valkyrie smashed the dead creature's head with her elbow to knock it off of her.
Seeing the volatility of the intruders, the other three began to advance. Drekkar lifted his sword and began decapitating the hydra's heads, but to no avail. What was once one head was now two. Finally, Drekkar figured out that he should stop cutting off heads, so he plunged his sword into the hydra's underbelly. The hydra stopped moving and its heads fell to the ground.
The manticore crept closer and closer to Valkyrie. When she tried to swing her sword, the creature just spread its wings and flew out of her way. Valkyrie backed up against the wall and felt desperately on the floor for something she could paralyze the manticore with. And then she felt Drekkar's bow. She picked it up carefully, drew an arrow from the quiver, knocked the arrow, and fired it at the manticore's wing, lodging the arrow into its body. Now the manticore's wing was stuck and could not be moved. Valkyrie drew another arrow arid fired at the other wing as well, paralyzing the creature
who yelped and roared in pain. Since it could not do anything to avoid her attacks, it began to launch poison shoots from its mane. Valkyrie quickly grabbed her shield and blocked it, then swiftly swung her sword into the manticore's body, killing it.
The gorgon, seeing the death of its fellow creatures, charged madly at Andrion. He brought up his shield to block the spear-like horns of the creature but his shield was dented. The gorgon snorted fire from its nostrils, trying to disintegrate Andrion's shield, but it was made from mithril. Andrion drew the jewel-studded sword Valyn from its sheath. The blade of the sword was glowing brilliantly in the presence of evilness.
Andrion sliced off the gorgon's head as easily as the sword had sliced the wood apart in its first presentation to the King of Avant.
After they were all tired out, they dropped to the floor for a well earned rest.
After their encounter in the cave, they had only several days to go to Hiarthus. Melasinia was a land of much trade, so many of the races of Tirisade were constantly present. Melasinia was in the far northwest, near the ocean. Ships were constantly departing and arriving every day. Some ships were for trade between the west and east coasts. others were for exploration for any other land beyond Tirisade, which as of yet had returned negative results.
They had finally reached Hiarthus three days after they entered the borders of Melasinia. The air in Hiarthus smelled like the sea since it was a port city. Docks littered the city, some even made small businesses from sending out fishing boats. Flocks of seagulls circled the city, squawking wildly.
The band of three wandered through the city, searching for a ship headed towards Fire Mountain. They saw signs saying "Heading to the Dwarf Country," "Diantir or Bust!" "Ship Going to Euphidaria." Andrion thought for a moment. Euphidaria was the closest destination to Fire Mountain that they would be able to get.
Drekkar had a desire to go home and remain loyal to his Dwarf race. But then again, he had stuck with his friends through all this. He wished to stowaway aboard the boat to the East. And then he understood his dream. He made up his mind to stay with his
"Come on. We are going on the Euphidaria ship," Andrion motioned.
They paid the dockmaster the fee for the trip and boarded the ship. They
wandered around the ship before they sat down. Andrion and Drekkar went to the ship's cabin while Valkyrie sat and guarded their supplies.
As they opened the door to the cabin, they saw an elf with pointy ears leaning back against one of the walls. Drekkar quickly drew a dagger from his boot and held it up
"Watch out, elf!" Drekkar warned.
The elf simply laughed. "You still warped in that old race feud? It was over ages
ago, Dwarf. Get with today. Elves and Dwarves are supposed to get along now."
Drekkar snorted and put his dagger back in his boot. "I'm Drekkar," he extended
his hand in a sign of peace offering.
"I'm Renaltil. I'm from the Elven lands of the East. I own this ship, the
Courageous," the elf captain introduced himself.
"I am Andrion of Avant, my wife Valkyrie is on the lower deck right now,"
Renaltil nodded. "Where you headed? Someone from Avant like you wouldn't be
going to Euphidaria." .
Andrion hesitated for a moment, but decided that disclosing his destination couldn't hurt. He told him about Fire Mountain and about the dragons. Soon enough he found himself telling about the whole entire journey. And all the while, Renaltil listened intently, deeply fascinated.
"We still need one more to fight the fourth dragon," Andrion stopped and glanced
at Drekkar who nodded in return. "If you would not mind, Renaltil, would you come along with us?"
"Well.. .I have my ship to take care of...I...I can't," Renaltil started. "But
still...I've always wanted an adventure in my life...couldn't hurt I guess...why not?"
Valkyrie came up to see what was keeping them. She introduced herself to
Renaltil and smiled slightly. "Glad to have you with us!" she said.
The trip to the edge of Euphidaria would take at most one week, and that was if
the seas were very bad. This was a very good detour from the normal three-week walk
that it would take from Hiarthus.
The first two days of the trip were rather pleasant with the sun shining brightly.
But the third day began to look rather dreary. Ominous clouds gathered in the sky.
Towards the evening, a raging storm began. A storm like this was very bad at sea. Andrion, Valkyrie and Drekkar all took shelter in the lower decks of the ship while
Renaltil tried to steer the boat on course. It was a hard struggle he had put up, but on the
fifth day of the trip, the storm had subsided and land was in sight.
When they had reached land, Andrion and Drekkar cut down a tree and cut it up
into two poles that they could tie the Courageous to. After the ship was docked and anchored, the four had to make final preparations; the end of their journey was upon
them. Renaltil had kept his battle armor in the bottom deck of the Courageous. The other three had theirs in their travel packs. They had made sure to purchase an ample and bountiful supply of food and provisions while at Hiarthus. And now, here they were, only two days' walk away from the dreaded Fire Mountain.
The walk didn't last too long. The excitement, the anxiety, the fear all eroded
away any sense of time. But after what had seemed like two hours to some, two years to
the others, they had arrived. They stood at the foot of Fire Mountain.
Andrion pictured in his head the two wave-poems, which by now he had named the first one Riverjourney and the second Dragonsong. Each one of them had to face on dragon.
"I shall fight the red dragon, Lataka. Elves are skilled in the arts of magic. Should I win, I will be able to control the realm of magic," Renaltil volunteered.
"I will fight the black one. Andritakna. The one of war. I've grown up mastering the arts of war and training others in it. I wish to have this privilege," Drekkar requested.
"The silver's mine. I can contain the realm of wisdom. Reitakya, watch out.
Valkie's comin' to get ya!" Valkyrie said.
They all looked to Andrion. "I shall face the golden Nertakda of chaos. I do not know if I can manage the realm of chaos, but one thing I know is for sure. He must not be permitted to continue to ravage Tirisade!" Andrion exclaimed. Everyone cheered after him.
They looked around, but saw only one entrance to the cave in the mountain. Everyone had wished the other good luck and bid each other farewell. It was very probable that none would see the other ever again. No one in the known history of Tirisade was known to have killed a dragon. Valkyrie hugged Andrion tightly and kissed him goodbye. The Elf and the Dwarf put away any past quarrels from their ancestors. And then, they all entered the cave, one by one. Renaltil went in first. As soon as he did. a blue magical haze covered the cave's entrance. When it dissipated, Renaltil was no longer there. And so Drekkar proceeded, then Valkyrie who was reluctant to leave her husband. When no one else was left, Andrion breathed deeply and went to face his
As he stepped into the mouth of the cave, he saw the blue haze covering him. He
felt like he was being pulled in two different directions. The two planes were vying for
Andrion. As it always has or ever will, the Astral Plane triumphed.
Mortals never entered the real Astral Plane which contained every living thing's
life force, so Andrion was no exception. Where he was seemed just like a copy of the
Earthly Plane, except that in the Earthly Plane, the Dragon Sages could not be challenged
for their power.
All over the cave, mist smothered Andrion. He slung his shield off his shoulder
and drew Valyn from its sheath. The blade shined insanely, as it was in the presence of
the most evil power that could be found: chaos.
After the mist cleared, Andrion found himself in a large and spacious room. The walls were covered in gold, as well as every candelabrum lighting the room. The entire place looked like a king's dream of a treasury. While Andrion was marveling at the wonder of the room, he began to hear heavy footsteps. This was it. He turned around and saw a boulder sliding in place where he entered. He looked around slowly and to his right was towering over him the largest creature he had ever seen.
It was probably ten times his size at the least. Its gold scales shimmered and
reflected off the light from the candles. The creature's wings hung high above its back.
Its serpent-like body was covered in gold. The dragon's eyes were sharp and aware. Its
tail motioned like a whip studded with gold pieces, perfect for any torturer to injure a
prisoner. Wisps of smoke curled out of the demon's nostrils as it snarled violently. As the dragon caught a glance of the mithril sword Valyn, its eyes widened and it let out an even fiercer snarl than the first.
Andrion raised his sword and let out a warcry, then charged towards the dragon's foot. The dragon simply made a snarling chuckle and kicked Andrion away violently, who fell to the ground. Andrion picked himself up, and undauntingly ran for the back of the monster. Perhaps if he could climb on to its back, he would have the advantage. But the dragon just raised its tail and casually flicked Andrion aside, almost piercing his chain mail armor which he had used originally in the Battle of Euphidaria.
The dragon seemed to be making what its version was of an evil grin. The dragon turned itself and reared its head, gathering in as much air as it could take it. Andrion quickly got to his knees and raised his shield just in time before the dragon released its fire breath and roasted the little human to a crisp. Andrion's shield was completely blackened and charred now. Thankfully it was not him that was blackened and charred.
The dragon snorted disgracefully and snarled malevolently at Andrion. It spread
its wings and lifted itself into the air and began to fly around the cavern. Catching
Andrion off guard it rear and let loose fire from its mouth again, but Andrion was quick enough raise his shield before any more damage was done to him than a few bums.
Giving up on this plan of attack, the dragon rested on the ground. Its nostrils flared with anger and rage. This human was getting the dragon exasperated. Andrion began to hear some cracking noises. He thought the ceiling was about to cave in, and he had to finish this battle before it did with time to escape.
While the dragon was contemplating its next strategy, Andrion ran towards the dragon and manage to pierce the dragon's underbelly. The wound wasn't fatal, but it was enough to stun the dragon long enough to make a fatal wound. As Andrion raised Valyn, which was glowing brighter than the sun now, he prepared to make the final charge and kill the dragon.
All of a sudden from behind, he heard a loud snarl followed by intense heat. He had caught on fire and had just managed to spin around to catch a glimpse of a green dragon hatchling that had just emerged from its shell. Before he collapsed to the ground, he recalled from his studies that there was a fifth dragon that no one had yet seen. It was Sartaeka the Green Dragon. This elusive dragon was the Dragon Sage of Life.
He was so close to killing Nertakda and being the heir to the Realm of Chaos in the Astral Plane, where he would be immortalized forever. But now, he was dying. With his last ounce of strength, he raised Valyn which was now blazing with fire, not with dragon's fire, but the fire of justice, into the air. And then he collapsed on to the ground.
The gold dragon had regained its strength by now. It detached the sheath from Andrion's belt, took the fallen Valyn and placed it in the sheath. It then gave the new hatchling the sword to safeguard, for the new green dragon would grow to be stronger than the gold one. The gold dragon then snatched the dead corpse of the brave hero who gave his life to fight, moved the boulder blocking the entrance, and threw it back into the Earthly Plane.
Meanwhile, Drekkar, Renaltil and Valkyrie were outside by the foot of the mountain, waiting for Andrion. Each of them had succeeded in slaying the dragon which they had chosen to fight. Since each was experienced in the realm of the dragon which they were fighting, they could use that experience to fight back. Drekkar had said that when the dragon breathed fire at him, he simply shot an arrow lit on fire into its mouth. Renaltil had joked that Drekkar had 'fought fire with fire.'
"Actually, when I had killed Reitakya," Valkyrie began, "a voice whispered to me that a new sage was to be created, the sage of Life. I was offered a choice of immortal life in the Astral Plane with power over the Realm of Wisdom and have another being inherit the Realm of Life or, I would have a mortal life in the Earthly Plane with limited power over both realms. I decided to choose immortal life. One realm is enough for me! I guess that's what my dream meant, choosing between Life and Life."
Just then, they saw Andrion's corpse come flying out of the mouth of the cave.
They gasped in fear. Before they could say anything, a voice echoed around them.
"Now that three dragon sages have been slain,
Three dragonslayers shall be immortalized in the Astral Plane!"
They instantly felt a strange feeling and were no longer on the Earthly Plane. They were life forces in the Astral Plane, in charge of their realms. Each of them presided over their field.
Once they had adjusted to the hazy feeling of being in the Astral Plane, the master of all the realms had come over to them. She introduced herself as Astra. She had explained to them what had happened to Andrion.
"The dragon Nertakda is still alive, as well as Sartaeka. What’s worse is that they have in their hands the only mithril sword that is in existence currently. I am afraid, as sad and unbelievable as it is, Andrion has failed his mission to defend Tirisade," Astra had concluded.
And so, the two remaining dragons departed from Fire Mountain and left for the East, ravaging cities and towns in a rampage of fury for their lost kin, the other three dragons. And they had settled on a new mountain now in the East, which came to be known as well as Fire Mountain.
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