[Continued from the May 1999 Issue]
Draken old and Demon Lord
- Stanza from The Guildmaster Scrolls
The dragon raised its head from the piled wealth that served as its bed, and drew into its nostrils what a human would have considered a vast rush of air. The exhalation glowed and was magnified a thousand-fold by the finery on all sides. It served to illuminate a hunched figure standing at the bottom of the massy pile. Its presence caught the dragonís attention immediately.
"You know that place from whence I came," it said, formally. "You know, for we were both hammered out by Him upon the Stones Anvil. Out of Darkness we came, and to Darkness shall we return. Darkness we serve; to be saved by it, or to be damned."
"I hear you," the dragon responded laconically, "and I acknowledge your presence. What news, O Voice of Shadows?"
"This news, rider of ill winds. The anchor has been uncovered, but not uprooted, and the beacon flares once more. What was cast out shall return; Him whose name we revere comes again. Yet that all might thus be accomplished, the Dwimorblaed must be found and Mordís Wyrd unbound."
The dragonís cyan eyes narrowed, and it set the rituals aside. "I have heard you, Voice of Shadows. Remove your nauseous carcass from my sight. I wish to think on these matters the more."
The hump-backed thing put a hand to the gaping hole in its chest and inclined further forwards, so that its shoulders almost touched its knees. Then the Voice of Shadows turned and limped away, carrying the reek of pestilence with it.
Alone in the deeps beneath the Bor Range, Sinnagar lay down his head and closed his eyes, and went into the kind of sleep which dragons alone enjoyed. For them, thought does not end with the onset of rest; and Sinnagar pondered long upon the scrap of news which he had been offered.
What was cast out shall return; Him whose name we revere shall come again.
The dragon flew in its dreams.
Another time, another place: the Age of Eternal Night, the wasted Doomlands. Below, there was fire--plumes that rose towards him out of roiling smoke, coming dangerously near at times. Yet the flame could cause him no harm: for Sinnagar was not there, and the outcome of the war that raged below had been decided many years gone by.
Suddenly, the fortress came into view. Its lower battlements were drowned in the uppermost cloud layers, and its pinnacle rose to impale the stars on its needle spire. It was all quarried from a ruddy stone that exhaled a heavy redness into the air. Its presence was both sickening and devastating.
This was the seat of Agarash the Damned.
And there he was!
There he stood, upon the loftiest balcony: Naarís most potent avatar, a towering reptilian incarnation in whose eyes shone the passion infernal. In his claw was a sword of great strength; and yet only three possessed the lore to name it. Among the peoples of the Darklands it was known as Adar-Dagenar--the Desolater. The Elder Magi called it simply Kai-Rashad-- Sunís Bane. But to dragon and Sommlending both it was Dwimorblaed, the Nightmare Sword.
In a few moments it would all be over; Sinnagar had seen this brief conclusion to a lengthy war a dozen times before. The Elder Magi would complete their ring and the fortress--and then Naaros would be destroyed, and the Doomlord condemned for all time.
Far below, around a lake of molten lava, the Elder Magi, harried on all sides by the Agarashi, joined hands. Light flared, brilliant and dazzling; the air was heated by a monumental wave of flame; and all that was Naaros ran and bubbled, falling to the ground like so much warmed-up jelly. Then there was a vast tearing, and into that unseen crack was Agarash pulled, wailing impotent curses that were cut short as the gap closed.
The Agarashi Empire had fallen. The Age of Eternal Night--ended.
A dozen times the dragon had seen it happen, but not once had he uncovered the fate of Dwimorblaed. The last moments of the struggle were all of blinding light, so intense that even one so old and crafty as Sinnagar could not pierce it.
He was dissatisfied. Where had it fallen? More importantly, had it survived?
I am given the task of finding it, the dragon thought. And find it I shall. But not here, it would seem.
Elsewhere, Sinnagar opened his eyes.
Lone Wolf © TM Joe Dever 1984-1999.