Chapter 3: A Royal Dragon?
Doune woke with a start and with much confusion; he was lying next to a campfire smoldered out since the sun was well up into the morning, and he relaxed, thinking it all was only a dream and that he was someplace nearby his fort and camped out instead.
This brief period of peace lasted very shortly when the large blue dragon from his nightmare lumbered into sight, with a smug look on his face as he held what looked like a well-cooked slab of meat.
Doune started to hyperventilate, and scuttled back and away from the dragon as it got into an unusual sitting position, with its armored body and folded wings behind him, and it looked right at him.
"Oh, you're awake. Want some chicken? 'Caught it about an hour ago and roasted it myself." The dragon almost had a tone of quality and slang much like a humans', but Doune did not fully enjoy the presence of a talking blue dragon.
"What…? You can talk?"
"Of course I can talk, all dragons that exist today can still speak basic fluently and draconic just as well – though now that you mention it, I am having some handicap to that war slang you humans use – it's very garbled…"
"Whoa whoa whoa, you say there are other dragons like you still around? I thought dragons were all hunted into extinction."
"Oh that, well, after we were hunted by your kind, we fled to a hidden and abandoned continent and made our home there. Besides, you looked the type that they spoke of…"
Doune was still trying to cope with the fact that he was talking to a dragon, whose race had not been seen for centuries; and here he was, talking to one that had a funny naive ness of talking with him, as if…
"Right, why did you help me back there anyway?"
"Because we think you have great potential…"
"Okay, who is this 'we' and what potential, I'm nothing but a local tracer, and possibly the of my kind on this earth. Who are you and what authority do you and your associates have to see great potential in someone you don't even know?"
The dragon leaned back a little, and laughed very heartily and from the bottom of his stomach, shaking the ground slightly and then the great blue creature responded with much amusement,
"That's where I don't think you want to hear anymore, Doune Tremaine – you see we, my own kind, we all know about you and your past, and your ancestry for that matter. But not is not the time for you to find out such morals, but I don't think you'll believe any more of what I tell you."
Doune puffed a little bit in rage and responded likewise,
"What? C'mon you can't be some famous dragon since nobody's ever heard of any dragons for centuries…"
"Very well. I am Shinryu, son of Bahamut, and under this way of which I helped you before, is to guide you to become what all your other ancestors have aspired to do before you."
Doune was too overwhelmed and got up shakily and backed off, trying to grasp what little reality he had left in him.
"What?! You're saying that you…you're the son of Bahamut?"
"Yes, father has had some duties lately, but he wanted me to escort you personally, since those two have an evil aura about them."
Doune continued to grow ecstatic, and he asked one final question, "You mean he and other dragons are still alive?"
Shinryu simple nodded and smiled politely at Doune, a friendly smile, as if he could take it as friendly, coming from a dragon and all.
Doune sat back down next to the dragon and was silent for many minutes, most of which he watched Shinryu eat the chicken with such politeness and cleanness that he must have been taught to eat so picky for many years for him to get it right…that is you supposed that with a few years…
"How old are you?"
"One-hundred and thirteen years – rather young for my color, and I'm still learning some things about dragonhood."
"113 years? 1-1-3?! Damn, you guys sure are getting a little old…how old is your father…er, Bahamut?"
"Five-hundred and eighty years, and still much in shape for his age, but has not had company for as long as I've been born – the world's lifespan is winding down we believed…until we found you, or at least some people found you…we hope it's you…"
"Whoa whoa whoa, who do you think I am? 'Some sort of hero? Why would I do anything out of my own concern for the world, what could I do? You don't know how much my life has been ruined, so you just sit there and listen to my story."
"All I know is that I was raised by monks in a monastery north of my old fort, and that they trained me hard – for what reason I am here, I don't know or think so, but I learned hard the art of swordsmanship and chivalry. Over time, you could say I kinda got tired of all that fancy stuff, so I convinced them I wanted to go out on my own.
"They did not argue with me at all, and packed me with several supplies they had not given me access to before; my armor, a light broad sword they said had much holy value, and an amulet…"
Doune revealed his neck by pulling back the collar of his armor, showing a glimmering silvery necklace with a medallion made of what could be guessed to be electrum, but then he hid it and continued,
"…which they said belonged to a very famous and important knight, also of which they tried to convince was one of my ancestors. Anyway, I set off with all I had and the local goblins and their hobgoblin scum proposed a big threat, as I was only used to fighting monk warriors. I learned what to expect, and ran into man races, including the elves, who brought me in with welcome. I traded my 'holy sword' for one of their highest quality rune swords, which they crafted every century or so, I think. Anyway, I left for adventure and found a guild of knights, dragoons, and lancers, all of whom I had known really well from that point on…"
Doune paused again to sniffle lightly and then hid his apparent weakness and gave Shinryu a gruff and cold frown, trying to make up for his showing of emotion. Shinryu furled his eyebrows, (what few he had) and nodded, urging him to go on.
"…and then that damned necromancer combined his powers with the psionic…and they…UUURGH!"
Doune got up from the campfire, and threw his food away like a javelin; hurling it to the world he never knew could be so cruel. Shinryu decided it best not to intervene, to give Doune some time alone. And so Doune ran off to the forest to be alone and think what in the world he would do next, since dragons existed when his friends died at the hands of evil powers – something was happening.
Doune returned to Shinryu with his sword in hand, readied, and he had an intent look on his face, looking deep into the dragon.
Shinryu had not stern look to return Doune's confusion, and instead smiled cheerfully back at him, making Doune feel like he wanted to slap him upright with his sword – but then again, he was dealing with a dragon still growing up and still learning when not to kill or…wait a minute…
"Why are you still here?"
"Because you want me here to help, or is there a concealed desire to find something else…?"
"What? Why are you helping me, and I want the truth!
"You want the truth? You can't handle the truth!"
(ooc, me and my friend rping this, we couldn't continue for a full hour out of sheer laughter for such a well-placed question.)
"C'mon, what is so special about me that you want to stay around and say 'that you can help?'"
The large dragon sighed and drew in a deep breath and let it out, and almost seemed to dig in for a long-past memory (for it was.)
"You, Doune Tremaine, are the descendant of Cecil of Baron, paladin of all the world, who brought peace, a sort of pax romana of our time, and became the last dragon rider and paladin to exist. My father was his dragon, and we lost contact of Cecil's children after his death. We searched silently for any possibility of his descendants, but none were found, and the world collapsed after the reign of the paladins and knights…"
"So you're saying that you think that I'm the descendant of Cecil himself and you think that…that I can restore peace to the world?"
"Yeah…pretty much what I just said, and meant."
"Maybe all that aging gets to your heads, you dragons…"
"We DO have faith in you, but proof exists that you ARE."
"Oh yeah, what proof would that be?" Doune's voice started to shake lightly, as if he expected what it was to be what he thought it was, but not entirely ready to hear it.
"You know that silly human, your amulet, its given to you by the monks…It belonged to your father. In my young age, I saw him wear it myself. Only the monks would reveal that to a stranger without our approval, but as it turns out, you have the skill and ability of your great-great grandfather…"
"What about the monks? You're saying they knew about me?"
"Please, they only hoped you were, but they believed it, as monks do in this of peril, and the world is in a dire crisis in need of a deliverer and warrior that will stand up for the recovering world, and away from the power-hungry mages, they very ones we fought last night."
"So why don't you dragons do it yourself? You're strong enough, aren't you?"
"That's' where the deliverer comes in, only a holy paladin can forever ward off the evil that plagues this earth. We dragons only have nobility and power, but no such enchantments or blessings. That is why I am here."
"To do what?"
"You prepare you and teach you in the ways to becoming a paladin. And we have an invitation from Bahamut himself to come to our city and be trained there by our finest scholars and…a special guest, I would say."
"Okay, so you want me to come with you to a dragon city?"
"You get weirder every minute I talk with you…"
Doune sat for a minute, and then got up and gestured Shinryu to get up too, and forget the campfire.
"…C'mon, let's go before I decide to dice you up for dinner."
"I'd like to see you try."
"You wanna bet?"
"How much you got?"
"Nevermind, I don't wanna crash and burn on my first try…"
"Bah, you humans are so stubborn, try loosening up, and you live so little compared to other species – why not try to learn some things, eh?"
"Remember what I said about stopping at any time?"
"Right, to town, we need a ship."
"A ship? Isn't your race one that can be ridden the back on? I heard knights used to travel on the backs of their own dragons like kin, why not here?"
"Three reasons, ONE: You aren't a paladin, and aren't qualified to do so, and TWO: I'm a little tired from yesterday's battle, let's walk instead, besides, I like the scenery here."Chapter 4: Public Relations
The highway going to the port town of Lockbrook was bustling and full of activity, yet no soldiers or guards appeared to be patrolling to make sure that all was civilized (hence it was not.)
Doune walked nervously through the crowd of people, shoving and pushing just to get a place in the train for him, but Shinryu, being a big dragon, stark blue, was very unpopular to be around, and he had no trouble getting around. Doune found this very naïve behavior.
"What the hell are you doing? This is public! There are a lot of hunters that would kill a lot for dragon scales, and you're a hot target for most here. What do you think you are just waltzing through the roadside crowds and acting casual?"
"You nor I are in any danger, I'd like to see them try. Your kind is awfully fragile, and they aren't much harder with a sword or anything mind you. Besides, we're only going to town for a ship, not some bounty."
"Urgh, never mind you. But can't we just make it look authentic and explanatory that I just caught you, and you can get into these shackles and…"
Shinryu glared unhappily at Doune, and he got the picture.
"Okay fine, so we'll waltz into town and ask just anyone for a ship out of town – I'm sure so many people will be so happy to help us find a way out of their grasp…"
"Trust me, Doune, it'll be fine; we'll go to a tavern for some breakfast and ask the owner for information."
"You really think he'll just give it to you?"
"I'm a large, blue dragon, aren't I? Trust me."
Doune mumbled something about getting killed in a brawl, but then hid it up as he escorted Shinryu through the town gates, also not guarded, and squeezed through the town streets into the plaza, also jam-packed with huddled masses of thieves and merchants.
The plaza was about with noise pollution that was unparalleled even by our standards, for not so many wretched people had ever gathered at one town, except in Lockbrook, which made it's surplus trade very large, and also very uncontrollable – there was no mayor or even a magistrate; maybe a few powerful crime or slum lords, but overall, the town was up for grabs to the battle of the survivors.
The two warriors found a local tavern, the ICe RiPper Tavern, run by a lot of unknown tenders, most of which had good company to the local farmers who did not steal for a living, and provided a haven, with the many foreboding bouncers standing nearby the bar and nodded to Doune, then looked at Shinryu, their eyes popping out as wide as walnuts.
Shinryu paused as everyone in the tavern turned around to look at him. He smiled glumly and he bowed slightly before all of them and gestured his presence was not for fighting or hatred, just breakfast.
Shinryu picked a seat nearest the fireplace, paused, and then smiled sheepishly as he sat next to the fireplace in a corner so he would not flatten any of the wooden chairs. Doune relaxed a bit as he found his seat and waved to the worst dressed tender, and looked around. The tavern was filled with a lot of grubby-looking farmers and merchants, and he spotted a kender trying to sneak a bag of gold out of one of the bouncer's pockets, and he too waved at the bouncer.
The biggest one getting ripped off, looked down at the kender and picked him up by his neck, and growled at him, and walked off out of the tavern. Doune smiled, Crime never pays, he thought.
The tender came by with extreme cheerfulness, something that made Shinryu feel at home (for some odd reason), and he looked up down at the big lizard and shakily asked with little sound in his voice,
"…Can I help you?" Doune started, but was interrupted by Shin.
"Yes, please, thank you. I'd like a full turkey platter, cooked very well, a bowl of clam chowder, and some ale."
Doune sat there stupefied by the lavish requests by the dragon.
As a result, Doune made some whimpering noises as he requested simply, "Some elven wine please…" and shot a stare back at Shinryu as the tender pranced off happy that the blue lizard didn't kill him. Doune was defiant,
"How in the world can you order that stuff in a place like this? And the cost! That could be almost 45 gold! I never had that much in my life! I…"
Shinryu was about to speak, but as dirty as the tender was, he was the best meal maker, and returned with all three parts in hand, and set them before Shinryu with pleasure. "There you are."
Doune looked up even more confused and defiant than before.
"What about me?"
"I'm sorry, we're out of elven wine. How about some ale?"
Doune apparently wasn't pleased and pounded his fist on the table and gruffed out, "Fine, hurry up though."
The tender went away briskly and returned with a glass of ale almost instantaneously. Doune was about to grab it out of his hands when the tender pulled his hand back away from him. "Ah ah ah! Pay first my scrubby little friend! It'll cost you 52 gold today!"
Doune was about to strangle the tender when Shinryu hushed him as best he could and held up a clawed hand to the tender.
"It's okay, I'll pay for it this time Kylan."
As Doune watched in pure awe, Shinryu dug through his thick armor and pulled out a fat sack of change, and pulled out 50 gold shiny coins that shone brightly in the morning sun, and was about to pick out two more when he though of a more novel idea…(though picky, as it was.) Shinryu dug through the bag some more and found twenty silver coins and dumped it all into the open hand of the tender, who Doune supposed was called Kylan, and that Shinryu knew him well. Kylan curtsied before them and pranced off to another table full of people, whom he wanted to serve, but were instead staring in a gawked look at the bag of cash Shinryu had, as did Doune.
"Damn boy! Get that bag out of here! You're making everyone stare at us like we're walking-talking capital-one cards! Geez!"
Shinryu locked the bag back into his armor and chowed down while the tavern slowly crept back into its normal state. Doune felt as light as a feather and didn't bother ask where Shinryu got all that cash, but why they couldn't spend just a few hundred on some things he'd always wanted in the business.
Shinryu told him after dinner that the cash was for escort; and Doune pleaded with him, trying to convince him that it would be an escort if he had some better equipment to help escort him out of town safely, since there were so many thugs out there that you simply needed a mage-crafted shield to keep yourself alive out there, and that 5000 platinum coins could be departed with for such a lovely deal – don't you think so? – I think so – C'mon man, just one? – Shin, old pal, give me just one favor and I'll pay you back…all had the same answer: NO. And all the way out of the tavern, Doune was reciting the Doh Song out of pure unhappiness as he was dragged away from the magical armories and near the coastline.
On the coast of Lockbrook, was a shabby house of soggy oak, and sat right on the edge of the cliffs overlooked the vast Draconic Ocean.
The house was owned by a businessman who had a long history behind him, like all of us. But this man was not very ordinary, maybe one other person in the known world existed just like him – he was a survivor.
His name was Eltriuqs Damcyan, and he was a mage that was prided in his old age for having survived the Great War, and still recalled some of his old spells. This mage, shorter than anyone in town, was a tad eccentric, but could be denied a no less trustworthy man as Kylan, and he was too, proud of that reputation.
No one ever bothered him, for fear of being turned into a bunny rabbit or some obscenity that would not survive in this world. He had enchanted his house with a spell that only strong evil could break, since he had little experience since the war with such powers.
Eltriuqs had lead a perfect life, except for the fact that he was growing old, and had no companions or adventures, and sold boats to people who needed more adventure than such little was offered in Skenland. That was, until he met the two 'youngsters', Doune Tremaine, an arrogant and self-confident tracer, and an unusually blue dragon, a dragon 25 feet tall, and one that was as old and wise as he. It was nice to meet another who understood his feeling for survivors. It was until he got down to business when he realized there was something else going on here.
"You heard me right, Doune and Eltriuqs, I want the cheapest voyager you have. We need one that had decent sailing capability, three decks, and a rotating cannon turret. The cheapest one you got."
"Shinryu, only one exists in the harbor, and that isn't cheap."
"Fine then, but we need to get to my homeland within a few days, four tops."
"I can give you ship on one condition, son of Bahamut…"
Doune and Shinryu leaned in, "…that you let me come with you in your quest, I have much knowledge of magic of the old order, and I'd like to meet your kind."
Doune was defiant and walked out of the house saying,
"WHAT?! You're crazy old man, I'd sooner rent a luxury liner than take a trip with you – which reminds me Shinryu…"
"Welcome aboard then Eltriuqs, it's a pleasure you decided to come with us. Doune, take the pass to the docks and show it to the bouncer there, and prepare the ship for both of us. I have some catching up to do with this mage."
And so the trio of holy knights had a ship, and readied their voyage to the ancient northern continent. Little did they know who was following close behind…
Deep in the dark shadows of the mage market in Lockbrook, was a crowding and meeting of forces not known to the average person who simply read his bible every day. No, these scourges were the very evil that threatened the world – and here they feasted on fear and their own ambitions as they bought mage plates, staves, and even shields imbued by the very darksmiths that forged the counterpart of what could have been the dragonlance. But such a weapon was not created, or even requested, yet. Such was the ambition of Jeff Nottingham and Hal Nazdar, necromancer and psionic, who had high standards, and little patience.
Jeff tried to throttle the blacksmith in the corner of the market, and he apparently wasn't happy about what he just heard. The blacksmith dodged him and Jeff flew through the wooden walls and back onto the street. Hal, on the other hand, fared much better.
"Come now, you needn't cause him any more pain – just mold him a mage dagger and get on with it. We have 2000 platinum, and who cares who its from?! Let us in on the war and we can credit you for it…" The smith glared at Jeff as he ran back in, held back by the will of Hal. The smith gulped a second and replied shakily, suggesting that he probably didn't like his customers' intentions or motives, but nonetheless in utter helplessness.
"I told you, I can't craft the dagger, or your shadow blade without at least three of the main elements that require such power: mythril, dark matter, and the relic that possesses such power that you wish to imbue it with. You'd have to find those at the very least – I can't fund all of the smithy work, I need the metals and elements you wish to use…I just craft them into a usable weapon…"
Jeff lunged again past Hal's reach and mind, and the smithy dodged again and let Jeff fly almost headlong into the furnace. But along the way there in that instant, Jeff hit his head straight into the forging anvil, and stopped dead. He looked up, his forehead bleeding, and then he ran out, disgraced. Hal made a prayer motion and bowed before the smithy and he walked out too.
Hal helped Jeff get up out of the dung pile in the street and continued to convince Jeff of elsewhere.
"NO! There's got to be a smithy here that can make us Man Eater or Doomslayer, I know it!"
"Hold up, you won't find it here in the scum of the universe market, we need those metals first, in order to make our weapons worthwhile. As for that pair of human and dragon, let's follow them and see what they're up to. If they're traveling all around the known world, we can probably get a peek into the mines they enter, and maybe steal some of the relics."
"Yeah, good idea, I knew that – let's go find a ship to shadow them! How much money do we have?"
And at that very instant, as luck would have it, a big thug ran up to Hal and slapped him upside the head, hard. This knocked him out, and before Jeff could try another desperate tackle, the thug tore off with Hal's cash bag in hand. They just went from 2000 platinum to zero in twenty seconds – and the thug got lucky finding the weakest group of weakling that just happened to have the majority of the money in the market.
And so, Hal ditched in his last favor and got themselves a partner, a bounty hunter, as a sort of bodyguard, and it was worth it. The hunter was almost invisible with the magic cloaks that he wore and his eyes shone through the silks a dark blue that pierced even Hal's mind. He wielded three blades, two smaller, shorter ones in a single right hand, and a long, swift blade in the left. His belt was filled with pouches either glowing, wriggling with something, or filled with some material that was needed in large quantity.
They marched off to the docks and found themselves the cheapest boat they could find – and the poor bounty hunter could've felt so bad, as he probably did – hanging around with two complete idiots who were trying to make some legendary weapons. Bah, they'd never get it done, but at least he'd get some action rather than this bodyguard crap…
Nonetheless, their boast was the cheapest piece of shit anyone could come up with, a whole 20 silver for a beat-up rowboat. And so they got to work, left, right, left, right, and so on just to keep up with the multiple-decked galleon that Shinryu had bought. Why the three misfits even bothered, who knows. But they had a diabolical plan destined to create world chaos…
First up, the Continental Orifice, the great ocean where the greatest city of all time rested at the bottom of the sea, and its only revealed plateau was the Metallic Temple at its very and mathematical center, supposedly some temple to the gods of the old age…but really happened to be the highest building in the ancient city, touching the very limits of the atmosphere, and providing the one and only entrance to the city surrounding it. But not a single being alive could find a way into the city, until now.
Past the Continental Orifice was the land of Mirage Banks, directly across from Skenland, and between the two, north of the Orifice, was the continent of the lost cities, now frozen over, and dubbed very originally, Antarctica. And such was the land where the dragon city was claimed to be.