Periodic Table of Dragons/Stories
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Stories told in the setting of the Periodic Table of Dragons.
Saving the Crops
I swear by the holy Sun above us, and by Mok'Te, the name given to me at my coming of age, that the tale I'm about to tell is true.
Many years ago, when I was but an unnamed child of eight summers, well before my initiation into manhood, I was playing inside my house to escape the heat of the day. My father burst in suddenly, shouting that we must keep our heads down, and not show our faces outside, for one of the great beasts was upon us.
I had heard tales of these creatures, overhearing snippets from the campfire of the men, for I was a curious child and did things I was not supposed to, and knew some of what I should not.
I was consumed by curiosity, and though my father shouted curses at me, and said I had doomed us all, he did not dare move to stop me as I went to the door and opened it, for he feared what lay outside.
A mighty creature I beheld, black as the night sky, but gleaming with a strange luster. The sand and dirt shuddered at its every step, and it left footprints deep enough that I could have hidden myself from sight within.
I saw it was headed towards our oasis, and toward our crops. I should not have done this, but I yelled out to it, for I was but a child, and knew not the ways of the world. I begged it not to crush our field, for we would starve.
The creature paused, and looked at me, and I feared I my father was right, but it looked around, as if it had not even known where it was before then. It turned aside, and left our crops alone, going by a different way.
The village cheered me then, and my father had to beat me in secret, where no one could see. I didn't care, such was my joy.
Now, I am a man of twenty five summers, and I have seen many tracks in the desert since then, though not what made them. I seek them even now, that I may understand them.
If you have seen any, I beg of you to tell me.
The life of a dragon-hunter is an obviously dangerous and often short-lived one, with nearly all of their kin being extraordinarily lethal and difficult to kill depending on the nature of the particular species. However, there are very few things than a dragon whose scales have been carved into spellbooks by loyal followers. While the exact species of magic-wielding dragons can vary, they all earn the title of "Runic" that precedes their element. Even the most basic of spells carved into the dragon's scales can increase it's might exponentially and the more powerful and dedicated the dragon's followers, the greater the spells the dragon can cast. Fortunately Runic dragons are extremely rare and those who are powerful even among their ranks are even rarer still thanks to the extreme difficulty in finding followers who are not only trustworthy enough to be allowed near a dragon's prized scales, but also skilled enough to etch the complex runes required for such magic. Those lucky and skilled enough to slay such a creature for it's scales shall find themselves a great deal wealthier as any magician or noble would gladly pay vast sums of coin for such artifacts to use in their experiments or to be crafted into personal wargear.
One of the rarest sights in nature is the elusive ritual of carbon dragons. Those gatherings often take place in the stormy valleys and remote islands, where Helium dragons are known to lay for their younglings. Presence of the concentrated gaseous Helium dragon remains and traces can act as an aphrodisiac attracting many lesser carbon dragons. Their usual progenitory prowess is naught compared to the libido awakened when exposed to them in a stormy season. The uncommon accounts of witnessing this unusual gathering tell that the ceremony begins with a strike of lightning, upon which the fierce wyverns amass, grabbing more than one usual partner. Groups and circles of twenty, thirty dragons all start going at each other. The twisted masses of flesh, scales and tails quickly begins to shed soot, as the piles forms sphere-like formations, with dragons periodically sweeping in and out of it. The beasts lose themselves in a powdery mess, driven by desire, with electric sparks and arcs emitted, as well as attracted from the clouds. The ritual is fierce and energetic, not bound to one location, but rather being a highly mobile event. Scarce stories of the sailors who happen to voyage around these report a ball of black bodies tumbling down the side of the rocky cliffs until the cold shower of water manages to separate them.
Viewing Bismuth Eggs
When today I finally arrived upon Endro Claffroy, which certain rumors claim to be a traditional gathering spot of the Bismuth dragons, I immediately found the speculations which I had gathered in the Andomen metropolis to be a mixture of grains of truth and laughable jokes. In a manner of speaking, I had spent my two weeks in that city with my eyes to the book and my ears to the merchant. If I wasn’t perusing one of Andoma’s many libraries, I was walking its market district making conversation with the people running stalls. Unfortunately, I did not keep my hand to my coin purse, and now I find myself liberated of a not-insignificant amount of money. It seems the future of this dracologist shall include more meals of turnip and bread at shoddy inns.
Andoma’s pickpockets aside, I found that most merchants weren’t so talkative after they realized I wasn’t seeking to buy any of their bismuth-scale dyes or crafted bismuth trinkets (beautiful as they were). Fortunately, I was eventually able to get audience with one of the more well-off bismuth merchants who shared my interest in collecting scales (I shall miss my Iodine dragon scale, but at least I know it still rests in the hands of a collector that acknowledges its value). With his advice and directions, I was able to locate Endro Claffroy, which is a small valley in the northern part of the Endro Hills.
It should be noted here that bismuth traders are, for the most part, a stingy and greedy lot who would rather keep secrets for the sake of profit than help a man wanting to learn and record knowledge of the draconics for the benefit of all.
True to the claim of most I spoke with in Andoma, Endro Claffroy is a place where many bismuth dragons go to lay eggs and raise young- even the attention-hungry bismuths like a bit of peace and quiet when it comes time to rear the next generation. Despite what some people might think after watching a brazen mating display, I have found that most bismuths do draw a line between public and private affairs- as I often have to remind the uneducated, the inclinations of a small few do not necessarily match those of the greater majority. In speaking with the bismuths at Endro Claffroy (who were surprised not to find in me another merchant come to barter food for scales), I learned that those “flashing ones”, as they refer to the most shameless of their kind, are rare and generally regarded with some contempt for embarrassing their kin.
Make no mistake though, bismuth dragons are certainly more open and show-offy as a species than most other dragons. It took a bit of effort and glib on my part, but the fact that I was able to talk my way into seeing a nest of eggs soon to hatch when most other kinds of dragons would at best have sent me running off before I could speak a word speaks for itself. The mated pair was cautious at first, understandably so, but once I had made myself a friend to them, they were excitedly watching for my reaction just as much as they were watching their eggs! An astonished reaction they must have seen on my face as well, for while most of the eggs I had seen walking around (the nests being made on the open ground, distanced from each other typically by at least 50 meters) were the familiar dull grey, these ones had taken on a distinct shine. The father jokingly stated that “the showiness of a bismuth starts before they do!”, while the mother told me it was a sign that the egg would soon hatch. A rough sketch of the scene has been scribbled on the opposite page.
Excerpt from the journals of Callsi Omalfen, Wandering Dracologist
Interview with an Iron Dragon
The working of a forge by an Iron dragon is an interesting sight to see. Although Iron dragons are perhaps the most well-understood of the draconics, they are still just as fascinating to me as any other species of dragon. In fact, I would venture to say they are made more fascinating by their willingness to mingle with non-dragons: it means this explorer need not spend days wandering the Wilds to find one and then hope it is in a good enough mood to humor his questioning!
In my continuing quest to find a Manganese dragon to interview about their cultural views on Runics, I have been traveling along the coast of the Hepellion Sea. Going from one coastal village to the next, most of the settlements I have visited offer little to weary travelers, because they have little themselves. I cannot blame them for this, but the carrot I have spent the day gnawing on has grown awfully short.
Two days ago, I arrived in one such village, and was surprised as I passed the local smithy by its large size. In most of these villages, I’ve found the smithy to have enough space for a lone resident to eat, sleep, and work his trade, but this one seemed large enough that I thought a pair of families must share between them both the house and the forge. Following an instinct from my gut, I investigated, and learned that size of the building was due to the nature of its inhabitant: an Iron dragon! Fortunately, my surprise that such a tiny village had attracted such a patron was received with good humor.
I shall record first a few preliminary details about this particular Iron dragon, a female who went by the name of Enula. She was only a couple hundred years old, still somewhat young by the standards of her kind (A standard that we humans could only dream of!). She had separated from her parents a few decades ago, but only came to this village six years ago.
Enula allowed me to examine her, in the form of a very brief physical. The luster of her scales, as well as their hardness, suggested Enula was healthy and well-nourished on her diet of fish and poultry. Her claws were of average length, except for on her left foreleg, which she complained often hurt. Examining it, I told her it was likely a certain sort of ingrowth, and advised her appropriately on how to fix the issue (it is best to tend to these problems while a dragon is young). This was the only defect I found in her health, something she was relieved to hear. I imagine the concerns regarding rust that an Iron dragon living coastally must fret over are significant.
I went on to ask the dragoness first about her kind’s history as metalworkers and smiths. She told me that while many other dragons take such pride in their racial features that they are left unwilling to help other races manipulate their associated element, Iron dragons are a more pragmatic sort that see potential benefit for both themselves and those around them. The generally-expressed sentiment among draconics is that the advantages of their unique elemental anatomy are theirs alone, but it seems Iron dragons are not as inclined toward this view.
Iron dragons are, of course, one of the more prolific alloyers among the draconics, and working the forges proves to an easy manner of getting the necessary scales, along with whatever else the dragon needs: in short, Iron dragons have adopted the economic spirit more that non-draconic civilizations foster more readily than other dragons. Enula stated that she suspects other dragons may eventually also come around to this same point of view, and that they stand to benefit for it a great deal when that happens (though if that day comes, they’ll have to find some other niche in the market, as Iron dragons seem to have this one cornered).
It seems that the modest Iron dragons are actually quite progressive in nature, at least in the eyes of their cousins.
At this point, I raised the fact that, despite what she says about Iron dragons seeking scales in barter, Enula has employed herself in a tiny coastal village with no prosperous economy or trade to speak of- she seemed to grow bashful at the comment and dismissed the matter without really providing a reason. It seemed particularly strange to me that she would come to a place so close to the water, where the risk of contracting rust runs high. The rest of our conversation delved into the subject of how she protected herself from the malady, as well as an anecdote about how her grandfather succumbed to rust. I decline to include that information in this journal, for the sake of keeping things organized, but should I ever compose a volume on illnesses which plague draconics, I shall surely reference this conversation again.
As our discussion ended, I asked my impromptu interviewee if she knew of any Manganese dragons living nearby. It is known that a fair number of them live around the Hepellion Sea, which was the reason I had been on this difficult adventure in the first place. As fortune would have it, Enula affirmed that there was one who lived not too far from the village. Given how her bashfulness returned at this point, I came to suspect an answer to my earlier questions about why she had come to this village, but I did not press on the matter. Young love, whether human or draconic, is a beautiful thing.
(On the opposite page, a drawing of an iron bauble has been made. According to the notes, the pendant was a gift from Enula, but Callsi found it too heavy to comfortably wear.)
Excerpt from the journals of Callsi Omalfen, Wandering Dracologist
The Legend of Saint Gilles de Mont-Eiresen
Hark ye now, children, to the history lesson for today. It is the anniversary of Saint Gilles de Mont-Eiresen, and we honor his memory by keeping it alive within our hearts.
Long ago, when our kingdom was young, still but a single hamlet underneath the awning of Mont-Eiresen going by no more regal a name than Riverton, young Gilles Urena fell foul of a mayor of supreme political misguidedness. You can still see the scars upon the mountain's peak, where the Uranium dragon Horkelen fought the Neptunium dragon Jelmno for supremacy over the pass between the crags.
Much trade passed through this pass, and our town was founded by the traders, and for long years, each mayor of Riverton swore allegiance and paid tribute to Horkelen, for the mountain had always been his, and Horkelen for his part ensured that no bandits or warlords molested the peaceful town. Mayor Brennan broke tradition, thinking himself more clever than he was, and, perceiving a vulnerability in Horkelen, allied himself with Jelmno in secret pact. With Horkelen gone, Jelmno swore to take no tribute, wishing only to slay his Uranium rival. Mayor Brennan promised to lure Horkelen into the open with a lie of some kind in turn, so that Jelmno might take him unawares.
The two came to blows, but at the last possible moment, Mayor Brennan unleashed a stolen spellbook upon both dragons, mortally wounding each. In their dying throes, they savaged the town, but Brennan emerged triumphant. The ambitious Brennan became dictator, marshaling the scum of the surrounding regions to his banner, and purchased Riverton's loyalty with stolen land and coin that no longer went to dragons. With the bandits now working for Brennan, the land came to know prosperity for a time, stabilizing the tyrant's rule.
Gilles was driven from the town, trapped on the other side of the pass when the dragons collapsed it. By the time Brennan removed the rubble, Gilles had long been forced to seek his fate elsewhere.
Gilles, friendless, without family, with only a few coins to his name, wandered the world as he grew to manhood. Serving in many armies, he developed a reputation as a capable fighter, and a man who other men would follow. High in the foothills of distant lands, at the end of a campaign under Emperor Alessandro the Majestic of Delarmien, Gilles was promoted to captain in the Delarmien Guard, and as was customary for those that earned their promotion in the field, permitted to claim a single artifact for themselves from the spoils of war, dragged from the vaults of distant lands.
Great jewels were there, born in the guts of Chromium dragons, and plates of shining Gold forged from a Gold dragon's scales. More beautiful than all else were glass artifacts of brilliant color, forged by Uranium dragons of a distant era, and a breastplate made with a single scale from an Osmium dragon was hotly contested. Goods of a more mundane nature were plentiful as well, but what man would turn down even an echo of draconic majesty?
Wise Gilles chose instead a simple spine from a Tungsten dragon, impossibly hard and sharp, which he fashioned into the head of a spear. Upon the campaign's conclusion, he thanked the Emperor for his generosity, and swore to return one day to serve under him once more.
The spear served Gilles well, and now at least he cleaved true to his innermost desire. Ever since he was a small child, watching his family be murdered by two rampaging dragons from the pass where he herded sheep, Gilles desired vengeance upon all dragonkind, since Horkelen and Jelmno were forever denied him.
Gilles is renowned as the only known human in all of history that slew five dragons, the Sulfur dragon Hes-Sarran, mighty Skethel the Leaden titan, cunning Fliqua of the Mercury breed, and the Boron dragon Chten the treacherous, who spoke of alliance with the dragonslayer, but instead betrayed Gilles to the mercy of all-consuming Quelkien the Francium terror.
Quelkien nearly killed Gilles, who managed to turn the tables on Chten and use his corpse for defense against Quelkien's radiant breath. With the scourge of the Southlands dead, Emperor Alessandro contacted Gilles once more, offering him a deal Gilles could not refuse.
With such honor heaped upon Gilles, now a known dragonhunter, and with such gifts bestowed him by the Delarmien nation, how, said Allesandro, could Gilles refuse to lead his army to war... against Brennan's Riverton duchy, squatting like a boil upon the mountain and river trade routes fueling fully a third of Alessandro's empire?
Alessandro's plans were clear to Gilles now. Gilles was to deliver Alessandro the land of his people, bringing them bloody war in the guise of liberation. Instead of Brennan's boot, it would be Alessandro's golden scepter pressing upon Riverton forevermore. Without Gilles' knowledge of the land, skill at arms, and reputation as a dragonslayer, no man would follow Alessandro into the valley flanked by peaks still glowing from dragonfire many years before. Riverton was a name of fear, ruled by a tyrant and perhaps haunted by the spirits of wrothful dragons.
Who else could dare the risk, but Gilles? And who else could have built Gilles' reputation, but an Emperor who recognized a dragon-killer in the making...
Though Gilles quailed at the thought of making war upon his hometown, he saw no way to extricate himself from his situation. Emperor Alessandro made it clear to Gilles that either he would conquer, or his spear would find a new home between his ribs. With a heart heavier than the tip of his spear, Gilles took command of the Southern Division, and marched to war.
The campaign was short, and without much interest to historians. All Alessandro needed Gilles for was to lead the army through the Mont-Eiresen pass, the disciplined warriors of Delarmien delivered the inevitable conclusion to Brennan's rabble.
Heartbroken at the carnage, Gilles entered the fray halfheartedly, playing his role by breaking down the doors before Brennan's hovel-turned-"palace", and slaying the would-be tyrant where he cowered before the throne.
Now, all that was left was to await the arrival of a true tyrant of men, Emperor Alessandro, who would arrive in person to officially claim his prize, and by his presence, convince traders that the pass and river were safe once more.
Gilles busied himself with the rebuilding of the town, at last having a job to do that didn't sicken him. Inwardly, he was thankful that none remembered who he was, for those that knew him were now dead.
In Brennan's personal records, Gilles found something curious, a series of messages to a bandit leader, detailing how merchants and bandits alike were going missing in the pass, their bodies never being found. Looking at Mont-Eiresen, Gilles noticed what others had not, too busy in banditry or keeping their heads down. The mountaintop was brightly lit, not merely by lingering radiance, but by lightning.
Gilles climbed Mont-Eiresen, telling his men that this would add to his reputation in order to calm their suspicions. Let them think him a glory-hound, so long as they let him climb alone.
About three quarters of the way up the immense spire or rock, Gilles found what he had hoped, though it chilled him to the bone. A swarm of Carbon dragons, entwined in their mating rituals, sending sparks into the air with wild abandon.
Steeling himself for what must be done, he descended into the rocky depression upon the mountain's shoulder.
Before he had gone three steps, it seemed that a piece of the mountain air itself had come to life, and was at his throat, hissing a warning in wordless tongue. Gilles had heard rumors of such creatures in his travels, of the oldest Carbon dragons, and now his hopes were confirmed. One of their old ones was perched upon his shoulder, observing him with the calm detachment of one who knows that it is in no danger whatsoever.
Gilles spoke no words, for the Carbon would surely kill him for interrupting its children's rituals, merely proffered the hide of Chten, preserved for years in Gilles' backpack. The Carbon dragon's gemstone eyes widened, and it sniffed the hide cautiously. With this, he could enter the radiant regions, and clear them out for his children to inhabit. With this, they could make a temporary stopover into a home, safe against detection by their many predators.
Gilles merely stepped back, and gestured that the Carbon should take the hide.
Now, the Carbon spoke, asking Gilles in a voice like broken glass what prompted a dragon killer to call upon dragons, for any Carbon who reached old age had eyes and ears in many lands, where Gilles' reputation had spread.
Gilles offered the hide, the mountain, and safety for all time to the Carbons. He offered them allies in the world of men, should they desire them, and the promise of easily accessing the crops of men, which the Carbons covet for nutrition.
The Carbon stared at Gilles for long moments, and with a hiss of crystal on flesh, slipped the Boron hide over himself without a word. Disappearing into the gathering night, the Carbon was gone.
Gilles feared the worst, but at least his conscience was assuaged. Whatever came now, he had done what he could.
Emperor Alessandro came upon Riverton on a bright and clear summer's day, regal in his gilded armor upon a majestic steed. Stepping to a podium, he gave a speech now lost to history, proclaiming his control over Riverton and the wealth that would surely come to them under his rule.
Though the legends are shrouded in mist, all are clear on one point. Midway through, Alessandro stopped, and rubbed his throat as if to clear his lungs. A thin line of red blood emerged, and his head fell from his shoulders. As his army, the assembled nobles, and the village looked on in horror, men began to die. A hot wind came down from the Mont-Eiresen peak, carrying a black cloud of choking dust, and the eyes of men were blind.
Something invisible passed among them, killing whom it would, a capricious spirit of wrath and horror, and a great wail of fear arose from the town.
When the black mist passed, only Gilles stood upon the stage. Only Gilles was free of the black dust. Only Gilles was illuminated by a brilliant beam of sunlight, spearing down from the church spire, though the sun was in the wrong position in the sky. If one looked carefully, one could see the spire twinkling and flickering, and the townspeople cried out that an angel had chosen Gilles to free them, and this is what the remnants of Alessandro's army told the nation of Delarmien, as they fled, never to return to Riverton.
Now, though Gilles revealed the deception to his people, we proclaim him as a Saint to all the lands around us. If ever an enemy enters the mountain pass, our "angels" swoop down upon them, and the river runs red with blood.
Our kingdom has grown since then, absorbing much of the Southlands of the dying Delarmien Empire. Without their king, and with the cream of their army dead, Emperor Alessandro's aggression came home to roost with a vengeance.
Once the breakers of nations, Delarmien is broken in turn, and its ruined lands are spoken of only with fear that it should not happen to the tale-teller.
Saint Gilles never broke his word to the Carbons, and every year we pay them a tithe of our produce. The rich river soil provides more than we need, and it is a trifle for the gift we receive in kind.
The blood of Saint Gilles remains with us now, his lineage strong and proud throughout the centuries.
How did the Saint die, you ask, if not at the claws of the Carbon, or the blade of Alessandro?
The true test of Gilles' allegiance came in the bitterly cold winter of Common Era 1327, a year when the skies darkened with soot, and the ground shook with such force that roofs and walls tumbled like matchsticks. A cadre of terrible Fluorine dragons descended from the heavens, ranging further south than any memory had ever recorded a Fluid dragon before. They wrought such havoc upon the Carbons, for they were desperately hungry, that even the old Carbon himself could not protect his kin. Gilles charged upward into the tempest, braving thunder, ash-dark, and the hellish breath of the Fluorines, armed only with his spear, and his courage.
None can say what transpired upon the mountain peak, but you have merely to look upon the pitted, corroded remnants of his spear, enshrined in the center of town, to know that not a single Fluorine dragon escaped his wrath. The old Carbon, himself a smoldering wreck of a beast, brought it back to us, and left without a word. We know not if he still lives, but the treaty Gilles signed with chisel, and validated in blood, is honored to this day.
Now then, I think I hear the Honor Bell tolling. It is time for the procession.
A Story of Radiance and Lead
When I was but a young boy living in the outer settlements I witnessed the meeting of titans in an elegant, yet brutal, display of nature.
I had been wandering in the outskirts, not quite young enough to be missed, but not old enough to be justified, when I began to hear the distant sounds of thunder.
Paying it no mind, as there were storm clouds on the horizon, I continued about my imaginary slaying of beasts and nightmares.
Upon making a killing thrust with my sword, in actuality a stick, into the heart of a bandit; I spotted movement on the nearby hill.
I stood frozen, for approaching me was one of the many beasts I had pantomimed slaying, a dragon! It was large, by account of my age and size anyway, about the size of two horses thick, and maybe three long.
I did not think to move, did not think to hide, for the dragon was moving erratically, slowly, as I would soon find out, it was wounded. As it drew nearer another shape crested the same hill, one accompanied by slow pondering thunder and ground shaking steps.
This dragon was massive, at least two dwelling tall, and three broad! It came plodding along, seemingly out for a walk, following the first dragon. Looking back at the first dragon my muscles locked with true fear as it was no more than75 meters away and coming closer, till it dropped to the ground, sprawled and heaving for breath no more than 50 meters away!
I could feel a flickering heat wash over me, varying in intensity, later in life I was informed of my luck and fortune, for the dragon was Radiant, and had it not been walked into exhaustion, I would be dead or horridly diseased from its radiance.
As the smaller lay there heaving and gasping for breath, the behemoth drew near, still plodding along in it's slow measured step. As it came upon the felled serpent, the feeling of heat washed away as the giant simply crushed its neck and began to feast.
I was informed that part of my luck that day was the behemoth's species, that of a Lead Dragon, the only known consistent predator of Radiant Dragons, as they seem to simply absorb, even subdue, their prey's radiance.
It took less than ten minutes for the Lead dragon to finish devouring the corpse, the entirety of it. After its meal, it looked down at me, and I'll swear by this walking stick, shrugged, turned about, and kept up that same plodding cadence that it had used to hunt it's prey.
What? You want to know about this walking stick? Well yes, I've had it since I was a young boy, killed many beasts and bandits with it as a lad.
Paragons: From a Lanthanum
So, researcher, you've come to ask a humble Lanthanum dragon why exactly he's so humble.
How did I know? You told your apprentice when you left your house half a mile from this watchtower. No I couldn't hear you, I just know how to lipread. Anyway, on to the question.
While Lanthanum dragons may have the best vision of all dragons, we are certainly not eligible for the upper echelons of the Paragons.
Paragons? Ah, the dragons with the most power in a specific field, and the ability to use it in combat. Diamonds, Silvers, Neodymiums, Rheniums, Uraniums and Plutoniums, Franciums, and Fluorines. What, you wish to hear more about my views on them? Very well.
The Paragons of Durability are the Diamonds, the 'Adamant Lords'. While Carbon dragons, the juveniles, are little more than fire-breathing beasts, Diamonds are the closest thing to indestructible there is in this world. They can be dropped from great heights, strapped to a bomb, and held under a Magnesium's breath for hours without a scratch.
The Paragons of Electricity are the Silvers, the 'Hammer of the Gods'. Possessing lightning strong enough to destroy castles and blind with a single blast, they are rightly feared by all dragons save Poloniums. This is made even worse by the fact that they live in large groups.
The Paragons of Magnetism are the Neodymiums, the 'Magnetic Magisters'. While they are physically vulnerable for dragons, they are nonetheless feared. Especially because most dragons are metallic, and they are fully capable of flinging around a metallic dragon without ever touching them through pure force of magnetism. They are made even more formidable by the high numbers of Runic individuals, although fortunately most prefer to enhance the precision of their magnetic fields as opposed to increasing their already impressive power.
The Paragons of Flight are the Rheniums, the 'Outflyers of Sound'. Their name stems from the fact that they can fly fast enough to outrun the sound of their own flight. While flight alone wouldn't make them eligible for the position of Paragon, their durability lets them use it to attack. One of the most durable dragons, Rheniums are fully capable of using themselves as living battering rams, and the wake from their flight can damage non-dragons.
The Paragons of Fire are the Uraniums and Plutoniums, the 'Twinned Firestorms'. They are fully capable of producing strong enough blasts of fire to destroy city walls, and can keep it up for great lengths of time. Little wonder that numerous kingdoms seek to acquire their services. Most dragons are just grateful that they have so far failed to gain the service of more than the rare greedy youngling.
The Paragons of Radiance are the Franciums, the 'Twice Brightened Children'. Their moniker comes from the phrase 'the candle that burns twice as bright burn half as long'. Except Franciums burn a thousand times as bright.
The Paragons of Corrosion are the Fluorines, the 'Corrosive Nightmares'. Many dragons bear some degree of corrosive aura, but the Fluorines can even make water explode. Even dragons revere Saint Gilles de Mont-Eiresen for reducing the number of Fluorines.
That is why this Lanthanum dragons is so humble. How could he not be, when there are such powerful dragons?
The last few days have proceeded in a very strange fashion for me. During the course of events that transpired, I admit to having slacked in the keeping of my journal, for the speed with which everything happened left me without chance to sit down and write. Now that I am in the clear, so to speak, I shall record this tale in full.
To set the scene, it was the third day of Mendel, in 1453 of the Common Era. I had been forced by the growing cold of the season to give up on my search for the hermetic Osmium dragon that is rumored to live somewhere in the Tasal Mountains. I had stayed for a length of time approaching a month at a village named Dolsengrad, tucked away in one of the mountain passes that cuts through the narrowest part of the mountain range. Dolsengrad does well for itself, better than most villages at least, because of its location: caravans and travelers heading through the mountains frequently passed through little town, leading it to be a bit less isolated than most places. It was with one such north-bound caravan that I had arrived at Dolsengrad, and it was by another caravan that I planned to leave.
The dwellers of the northern city Frostmere had sent out with a stockpile of goods going to Puos, some 500 kilometers to the southwest of Dolsengrad. Extra hands that can hold a weapon are always welcome on such voyages through the Wilds, so I had little trouble joining the group of wagon-pullers. It is common practice for travelers to gather together for safety, and it was in my own best interest to avoid becoming another of the many dead adventurers who thought they could cross through the Wilds alone. The mutual agreement, then, was that I would stand at front-left as one of the guards. This particular detail is important, for it would turn out to be greatly to my fortune.
We left Dolsengrad behind that day, after the caravan had bought some of the village’s excess harvest to fortify the reserves. We were about 15 heads strong, by my count, driving two wagons’ worth of goods. It wasn’t my business to inventory their stock, but I guessed that a significant portion of it was probably bottled spittle of the Nitrogen dragons, given the great care the caravan leaders were taking to keep the second wagon from shaking about (they had gone so far as to tie padding to the wheels). Political tensions between Puos and nearby Emmese have been increasing since the later laid claim to the recently-discovered gold mines between them, and as Frostmere is a long-standing ally of Puos, I suspect the shipment was to aid in the war everyone suspects will soon break out.
That shipment of bomb-water will never arrive, though. We were making good headway though the mountain pass, with no troubles for the first couple hours. Then, the droning noise of the creaking wagon wheels was interrupted by a deep, howling roar from the direction of the rear-guard. We all turned around just in time to see the man being grabbed and tossed against the wall of the pass! The creature that had grabbed him was a hulking brute, covered in thick white fur and hunched over like a gorilla- a rimeback. “Damn, and damn again!” I remember shouting to myself as I clutched my spear. The beast was as tall as our wagons, and beyond that, it was not alone. Several more rimebacks leapt down from the top of the cliffs, joining into the ambush now that their alpha had struck the first blow. Just my luck that a troop of these frozen apemen would be traveling along the top of the gorge at the same time as we traversed it from below!
Rimebacks, for those not familiar with the cold norths, are a voracious and violent species similar to the gorns of more tropical climates. They are well-distributed across both the frozen mountains and tundras, but it is surprising to see them this far down when the year’s chill was only just now arriving in Tasals. Their most iconic feature, and the source which their name is drawn from, is the sharp, spine-covered layer of ice that they maintain on their backs. The existing documented knowledge of their habits suggests that is for personal defense, as rimebacks are so inclined towards acts of savagery that when lacking for anything else to fight, they often turn on each other. They can survive on whatever hardy vegetation they find, being omnivorous, but will eagerly spring at any chance they can get to tear into a meal of meat- such as a traveling caravan passing through the mountains!
The alpha was already occupied by some of the others, and I was about to run to the man that had been thrown against the stone wall to see if he was still with us, but before I could I was already being accosted by another rimeback. I was too occupied to count their numbers, but the typical rimeback troop is rather small, so we likely outnumbered them... That’s good, because I don’t believe a single one of us wanted to take one of these animals on alone.
I was backed up to the side of the first wagon with another guard with me. I’m thankful that we were armed with spears, because the reach given to the rimeback by it great arms would have been very troublesome if the two of us bore swords. This man was perceptive of the ways of battle, and despite our lack of words, the both of us seemed to be thinking on the same level: one to occupy the monster from the left, the other from the right. It kept us safe, and when the burly creature moved to punch at my fellow, I was able to push the head of my blade into my foe’s exposed side. I wish that our fellows could have been doing as well as us, but as well as I could tell, they weren’t.
I caught, from the corner of my eye, the sight of the frantic horses of the second wagon panicking and the wagon driver trying- failing- to keep them from jumping about. Likewise, four of the other men were busy trying to keep the hungry rimebacks off of the horses, but the alpha among them knocked the foolishly brave man that interposed himself aside before almost casually reaching out to snap the horse’s neck with his massive hands. Shouting men, roaring rimebacks, and crying horses, all of it together was nearly as loud as a dragon, but somehow the caravan leader’s voice was able to carry over it all. There is a certain amount of contempt that quickly develops in the pit of your stomach, I’ve found, at listening to someone shout “Protect the goods!” while his men are being killed. I forgive him now, considering what happened in the following moments, but at the time, I’d have punched him across the jaw if I had any blows to spare.
It was one of those adrenaline-surged times where you take it all in and everything around you seems slow, that moment when you realize it just before things speed back up. My attention was brought back to my own situation when the rimeback I was engaged with, my spear still gouged beneath its arm, reached down and snapped the wooden handle of my weapon. I looked down upon my now useless stick before my eyes darted back up at the rimeback towering over me, pulling his arm back to strike me even as my ally sunk a second blade into its body. I was sure my life was at an end, but the gods must take either great joy in seeing me alive or great humor in seeing me panic.
Have you ever seen what happens when you take an entire wagon’s worth of bomb-water, that raw nitrogen explosive, and then knock it over? I haven’t, but I sure as hell have felt it. It’s not fun. Think of the biggest, muscliest man you can, then make him twice as big and try to imagine what it would feel like for that guy to punch you literally into off your feet, while at the same time the sound of him yelling is so loud that it deafens you. My ears are still ringing now, even! Quite obviously, I survived the explosion, no doubt on account of my distance from the epicenter, but I was knocked unconscious by the sudden force of the blast... Or perhaps it was a stone knocked against my head that did it. In any case, I can’t say with certainty what happened next.
>To be continued later