Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Hytiliaphby John Calvin
Malitia bent down low and picked something shiny up off the ground. "The beast definitely comes through this corridor on a regular basis."
Avertium surveyed their surroundings. The mountains rose up on either side of the party like giant black teeth, covering the secluded valley in constant shadow. A waterfall cascaded off of the peaks and into a clear mountain lake before them. Jagged, moss covered rocks jutted up around the lake's southern end. "Are we alone?" he asked Malitia. She tucked whatever it was that she had picked up into a pocket on the inside of her tunic and dashed off into the underbrush. The birds and crickets quieted their chirping.
After several minutes Malitia reappeared and the nearby animals resumed their calls. "It's clear. I don't think he's been here for a ten day."
"Well," grunted Avertium, "this is as good a place as any to lay our trap. Get to work you slugs."
"You sure this thing will work Demetrion? It seems like we're taking a pretty big chance putting our faith in this trinket you've constructed." Malitia inspected a black tipped arrow at arms length as she lounged among the jagged rocks.
"It better work," said Avertium standing by the lake side. "We've invested our entire collective wealth into this little expedition."
"If you can hit the wyrm, it'll work." Demetrion looked up distractedly. In one fluid motion Malitia placed the arrow back into her quiver and plucked another one of those shiny objects up from among the rocks. "Now, if you wouldn't mind, stop distracting me... I have preparations to make..."
Vendo and Proelium were also busy with their own preparations. Proelium was stalking the length of the clearing, intoning the name of Vanya and sprinkling oils and powders about. Vendo spent most of his time on the outskirts of the clearing, in the underbrush or at the water's edge. Time was of the essence. None of them knew when the dragon would be back.
The sun was high in the sky and the wind had just died down. Demetrion licked his lips and tried to swallow the dryness out of his mouth. He was prepared. The wards and traps that he had set were in place and ready. The birds went quiet and a rush of hot air nearly knocked Demetrion over.
The dragon knew they were there, of that they were certain. In fact they were counting on it. If all went as planned, the Arrow of Binding he had crafted would bring the wyrm crashing out of the air. Then it was up to Demetrion and his fellows.
Demetrion felt a hefty clap on his back and looked up to see Avertium. "Look sharp, it's coming around for a second pass." Demetrion looked up, but something was wrong. Malitia was scrambling to the top of a tree at the far end of the clearing. The dragon made a barrel roll in the distance and Malitia raised her bow. The profile was wrong. The wings were manta-like, not bat-like, and as the dragon turned it glittered in the sky.
"It's not a red."
"What?" said Avertium.
"It's not a red." Demetrion repeated. "You said it was. We have the wrong dragon."
"Keep focused Demetrion!" Avertium nearly ripped his sword from its scabbard. "We have too much at stake here! That's a dragon damn it. It's a menace. I don't care what colour it is. We're going to kill it!"
No, Demetrion thought to himself. What was it Malitia had said before? It comes here on a regular basis. It comes here. What evidence did she base that on? What was she constantly picking up around the site? Demetrion had been too engrossed in his preparations to notice. Scales? Did they clean the site before bringing Demetrion here in order to remove most of the evidence? But that would mean that the others had known all along.
"No!" Demetrion yelled, but it was too late. The gold dragon flew over the lake and was nearing the jagged rocks at the south end. It was more than the group could have hoped for. Malitia let loose the arrow and it slammed into the dragon's chest. Wispy tendrils shot out of the wound entangling the dragon's limbs and wings and with a mighty roar the beast came crashing down into the rocks.
"No," Demetrion said again, this time to himself. "I won't let you do this." As Avertium raised his sword Demetrion pulled a slim wand from his sleeve and pointed it at the warrior's back.
Hytiliaph first mated with the gold wyrm Meryitharia in 935 AC at the age of 125. This union produced 5 offspring, 2 females (Felminaria and Marilithal) and 3 males (Oeraphon, Taralinaf, and Tiliatherum). The two wyrms raised their clutch together for ten years, but in 945 AC they decided to part ways. Neither dragon was ready for a long term mate. Meryitharia took with her Oeraphon, Marilithal, and Felminaria, while Taralinaf and Tiliatherum stayed with their father. Both wyrms remained in contact and still took active roles in the raising of all of their wyrmlings.
In 950 Felminaria left her mother's lair but did not go far. She had befriended the local elven tribe and wished to study with their elders and learn their ways. Two years later Tiliatherum left his father's lair to travel to far off lands in search of ancient knowledge.
"What is it Yuri? What do you see?"
Yuri took a deep breath and twisted the Farseer he had held up to his eye.
"Damn," he said again, but the others could already make out the scene over the distant mountain peeks.
Sergei leaned back in his saddle. "Fire in the sky..." They all knew what that meant.
Yuri's mount shifted beneath him and let out a frosty grunt. "It's that damn fool Demetrion." A chorus of voices rang out behind him and his commanders shouted to regain control from the men. "Enough!" Yuri called, and all fell silent.
"What do we do now?" asked Guntar. Yuri still found it strange to look upon the face of the young Thyatian and think of him as an ally. No, not Thyatian. Hattian. There was a difference, and Guntar was an ally.
Sergei twisted on his mount. Looking behind him he addressed the men and drakes as his sword rasped out of its scabbard. "We have no choice now. Our lot is cast." He raised his sword above his head shouting, "For Yuri! For Traladara!"
More swords were drawn and lances were levelled.
"No," Yuri said, slapping the Farseer against his thigh compressing it.
He stood up in his stirrups, greeted by grim faces all around him, "There is always a choice." Several of the ice drakes flapped their wings in anticipation, but their riders held them back. Yuri raised his voice so that all could hear. "There is always a choice. Our choice remains the same. To bend knee before Empire... or to be free!"
A great cheer echoed from the mountaintops. As one, the men around him shouted out "Freedom!"
"Then now we must act!" A small change in pressure on the stirrups and Yuri's dragon mount leapt into the air. He did not look behind him. He did not need to. He knew the mind of his men. Roars and the flapping of massive wings filled the cold air behind him.
In 960 the Alphatians attacked Thyatis in what would later be known as the Spike Attack. Demetrion called upon the support of his old friend Hytiliaph and the old wyrm was honour bound to answer the call. Hytiliaph and Taralinaf met the initial Alphatian attack but were driven back (perhaps by the betrayal of the Order of the White Wyrm). Hytiliaph was severely wounded and Taralinaf was killed. Taralinaf's death sent his mother into despair. Marilithal tried to console her mother but to no avail, while Oeraphon flew to his father's side, itching for revenge. Meanwhile, Felminaria and the elves were fighting their own guerrilla war against the Alphatians, but when she heard of her brother and father, she also rushed to his side.
The ancient dragon bones that bound together the unliving ship creaked and groaned as it made a steep bank to the starboard, breaking off the attack. "Master Alketh! What are you doing? We must attack!" the young Randel adjutant was nearly beside himself with apoplexy. "We are engaged sir! The Grand Marshal has ordered us to engage the enemy, yet you turn tail and run!"
From under his hood, the hunched figure of Alketh ignored the young Randel officer. "That fool Tylion's war is lost." With an imperceptible nod to the darkness behind the adjutant, Alketh turned to look over the railing of the skyship's bridge. A grey figure stepped forth from between the shadows and promptly put a knife in the young officer. Blood streamed from his mouth as he crumpled to the deck.
"Bring Dverithon about. We are returning to Blackheart."
The grey figure nodded curtly to Alketh, its dead white eyes unblinking and it sidled up next to him near the railing. "Would you risk the Emperor's wrath?"
"This war has sealed Tylion's fate. He will not trouble us."
"And the Randel?"
Alketh waved his had over the rapidly receding battle behind them. Smoke and flame mixed with bolts of lightning as gold dragons flew among the Alphatian skyships. "Soon they will trouble us no longer. Unfurl the dragon wings. You know the part you play."
The dead creature nodded as Alketh pulled a large golden mask from the folds of his cloak. Alketh stretched the mask between his arms to reveal the striking head of a gold dragon. "Mord. Adnem. Taralinaf." Alketh muttered from under his dark hood and the mask took on a shadowy countenance. He handed it to the dead thing saying, "Do not fail me."
The dead thing nodded for the last time and stepped back into the shadows.
"That ship off in the distance. It's breaking away from the others. Do you see it?" The wind rushed over the Vyalia Glynwyth, taking the words right from her mouth. Her mount Felminaria heard her none the less. "Do you see the sails it is raising?"
A deep rumbling filled the void all around Glynwyth as her mount, and long-time friend replied, "I see it." The prow of the ship was made of a gigantic dragon's skull. The rest of the vessel was covered in what once must have been the rest of the beast's now brown with age bones. From between double masts shaped like the giant claws of a dragon's wing bone the ship unfurled brilliant golden sails. The sails could only be one thing. Wings torn from a gold dragon. The wings of Taralinaf... of Felminaria's dead brother. "That must be the ship," rumbled Felminaria, "...the one that murdered Taralinaf."
The sending came almost right away. Even with all of the wind blowing in her ears, Glynwyth could hear the voice of the human mage clearly. "Maintain attack. Do not break off." The elven princess felt a slight twinge run through the muscles on her mount's back, almost as if Felminaria could hear the sending herself, or feel it... perhaps she could. "What is it?" the dragon rumbled in that deep voice she had.
"It's Demetrion. He says to let that abomination go!" Glynwyth had to shout at the top of her lungs just to hear herself, though she had no doubts that the dragon beneath her could have heard her words had she whispered.
The hesitation in her mount was slight, but lasted not even a moment long. "No," the dragon growled. Glynwyth needed no prodding. She wanted revenge for her friend nearly as much as Felminaria did herself. She spurred Felminaria on by squeezing her knees slightly against her mount's flanks.
"Are we pursued?" Alketh asked the helmsman.
"Yes my lord." The helmsman held the Farseer to his eye and adjusted it before replying further. "One of the gold beasts has broken off its attack of the Randel and now makes its way toward us.
"Which beast is it, the large one?"
The helmsman hesitated for a moment, and Alketh let out a sigh of discontent. He knew what the helmsman's answer would be before it was spoken. "No my lord... I'm sorry. It is one of the smaller beasts that flies toward us now."
Alketh waved the man away. "It's of no concern," he hissed from underneath his dark hood. "Send the ship into a list, as if it were damaged. Ready the boltmen." Alketh would just have to make due with the catch he was given.
"She's front heavy, and listing off to starboard," Glynwyth shouted. "Must have taken some damage already!" Off in the distance behind her the others were locked in a battle to the death. The fighting was still fierce, but Glynwyth was confident that Demetrion and Hytiliaph could pull off a victory and prevent these Alphatian ships from reaching Thyatis City and resupplying their comrades there. Without more troops the Alphatians controlling the capital wouldn't be able to hold onto their prize much longer. Glynwyth and Felminaria should have been in that fight as well, but this was one Alphatian they were not going to let escape... not at any cost.
Felminaria roared as she dove in from above and behind the damaged skyship. Several streaks of lightning stretched out, nearly singing her scales. Glynwyth pulled her friend back. "They may be hurt, but they're not out of the fight yet!" she shouted. The boltmen had fired just a bit prematurely. Had they waited a few extra moments both Glynwyth and Felminaria may have been charred fairly badly. "She still packs quite a punch. Swing around to her port side. We'll try coming up on her belly!"
No bolts shot forth from the ship as the two dove beneath it. Felminaria let loose with a mighty roar as a stream of fire spewed from her mouth to hit the belly of the skyship. As the passed beneath the ship and its great shadow encompassed them Glynwyth felt a shiver run down her spine. Something wasn't right. Glynwyth didn't have long to ponder her feeling. One minute she was flying beneath the skyship, and the next she was fighting for her life. A cold, iron grip clamped down around her neck and something that felt like a steel mallet began crashing against her skull. Glynwyth fought just to remain conscious. She thrust her elbows into whatever was behind her, but to no effect. After what seemed like an eternity, but must have only been a few moments, she heard a loud snapping noise. The straps that held her in her saddle were severed and Glynwyth found herself floating through the air.
It was too late. Thought he and Hytiliaph rushed to the aid of the dragon's daughter, Demetrion knew that they were too far away to help. With magic enhanced sight Demetrion could see Felminaria's rider being thrown from her back. Blast that damn haughty elf! Why didn't she listen when he told her to hold back?
Ectoplasmic fibres and tentacles sprung forth from Felminaria's new rider and entangled the dragon's wings. The young dragon came crashing to the ground. Demetrion winced. She was probably close enough to the ground that the fall would not be fatal. Still they were too far away to reach her. Perhaps another two minutes of hard flying before they came to her side. That was not enough time. Demetrion gasped and then swore as he saw a figure place some kind of shroud over the unconscious dragon's form. Then everything around her went black. When the darkness cleared away like a mist, neither Felminaria nor her unknown attacker were anywhere to be seen.
Beneath him Hytiliaph gave such a roar of anguish that Demetrion could hardly keep from shedding tears. He looked back to the sky. There was at least one other who they could make pay for this cruel day, but Demetrions hopes were shattered. The evil looking skyship had also vanished from sight.
Together with rebel bands of elves and Thyatians, the dragons led their own personal war against the Alphatian invaders. Meryitharia sequestered herself in her lair and slowly became estranged to her former mate and offspring. The Alphatians were finally driven out, but not without cost. During the battle Felminaria was captured and spirited away to Alphatia (perhaps to Blackheart). Meryitharia believed that her daughter had also been killed and the others did not dissuade her from this for fear that she would mount a suicide attack against the Alphatian wizards.
The cool scent of pine blew gently through the forest glade. Squirrels jumped through the tree branches overhead and somewhere nearby a family of woodpeckers was setting in stores for the winter. For several days now Glynwyth's tears had been dry. She still felt like crying, but could not find the strength.
Quiet came over the animals. Glynwyth could sense them move away from the glade even though she couldn't see many of them. None of her clan had disturbed her since she began mourning, and none of them would. This was the moment she had been dreading for all these long days. He was here.
For several minutes he didn't say a word. Glynwyth didn't turn to face him, but she could feel those golden eyes boring into her. She wondered then if he would kill her. I deserve it, she thought. I'm the reason Felminaria is gone. Remaining kneeling she tensed as she felt him draw nearer to her. Glynwyth prepared for the worst. I won't fight it, she thought. At least it will end my suffering.
"She is alive."
The words hit her like an avalanche. She turned to face the father of her best friend, but found she could not speak. She could hardly draw breath from the news. When none of her own clerics or mages had been able to determine Felminaria's fate, Glynwyth assumed the worst.
The elf standing before her was beautiful to behold. Rich robes in green and gold flowed over his tall lithe frame. Golden hair blew gently in the breeze. His eyes, deep pools of gold with only a trace of pupils, stared at her... stared through her, without blinking. As if sensing the questions she had, he spoke again. "Demetrion knows the right questions to ask." A small grin flashed across his face, but only for a moment. Sadness replaced it instantly. "She is alive, but in torment. She is hidden, but I know where to find her. I will. I will bring her back."
Tears welled back in her eyes unbidden. Glynwyth's view of the elf standing before her clouded over, and she began to sob again.
"If you would help... you know where to find me." With that said he left, and Glynwyth collapsed to the ground.
Shortly after the spike attack Hytiliaph fell in love with the elven princess Glynwyth. Hytiliaph took in his fallen son's offspring and is raising them as his own. Oeraphon and his brood moved away from his mother and back to Triple Peaks. There the two dragons and their allies prepare a strike force strong enough to rescue Felminaria.