Legend of the World Dragon (book)
by Huntress Sable
Table of Contents
The World Dragon
The World Dragon was born from the fourth moon when it hatched. No one is
quite sure how it came to be, but many are certain that one of the gods' dark
aspects got loose and planted the creature to bring about the end of Elanthia
(some suspect it was Huldah, who -- unlike Truffenyi -- despises mankind and
The World Dragon is terrible and yet beautiful to behold. Its scales glitter like black metal, and its claws are thick and razor sharp. It is all but indestructible, its maw as wide as some mountain ranges and its tail stretching from horizon to horizon. Its eyes were a glowing pool of red, its pupils slit horizontal, and its wings were leathery and long, blotting out the sun at times.
When the World Dragon hatched, shards of its egg hit Elanthia and caused massive changes. Some civilizations died, cities were crushed, when one hit an ocean it caused a massive tidal wave that drowned the entire western side of the continent upon which The Crossing resides and killed many of its inhabitants. Since the waters there have now receded, much of that area as yet still remains wild and untamed, although the ruins of that shattered land are rumored to still exist.
The Dragon's first attack was upon Elanthia itself, which it was drawn to because of its inner fire. The creature landed upon Truffenyi's domain and began to drink the fire from its depths. In terror -- for Truffenyi was certain that his world would die if the World Dragon continued -- the god of Elanthia called upon the others to aid him. He was ignored mostly, until he pointed out that if the Dragon drained his world, it would move onto the next closest source of fire -- the sun.
A great battle ensued between the Immortals and the World Dragon as it, in turn, spat its own fires across the world, scorching some of the lands. One of the moons set on fire as it blew its flames across the sky. Eluned quenched it with her waters, but the moon would be black forever after.
As the great war continued, the Immortals despaired, for the Dragon seemed unbeatable. Truffenyi rallied all the Immortals for a final, great battle against the World Dragon. The battle was so awful, that the sun hid itself for seven days behind a veil of clouds, and mountains trembled before the wrath of the Immortals.
When the battle ended, the World Dragon was weakened, but not dead. It was then that Phelim decided that it could not be destroyed, and so waited until it had slunk away and ambushed it, casting his sands of sleep in its face. The Dragon, feeble from the struggle, succumbed to the sleep and fell into a slumber as deep as Urrem'tier's void.
Truffenyi, now free to think of something else, realized that his world was dying because the World Dragon had all but drained it of its marrow. It was Peri'el who stepped forward and, in her soft and sibilant voice, put forth the idea of housing the Dragon in the place it had desired the most -- the inner earth of Elanthia. Many of the Immortals thought this idea was disastrous, but then Peri'el -- who was one of the greatest of the Immortal warriors -- pointed out that the Dragon's very skin was certainly hot enough to heat all of Elanthia, and, so long as she watched it and sang to it, it would remain sleeping.
Peri'el had been crippled during the combat with the Dragon. Her right leg was lame and her left eye had been torn out; as the Dragon was undefeatable, so were the wounds it had dealt unhealable. Peri'el had been wounded the most and was nearly useless now as a warrior, but her voice was still clear and beautiful -- and very lulling, even for vain Idon. With the Dragon and a full sack of Phelim's sands on her hip, she descended into Elanthia's inner earth, where she remains with the Dragon in its lair, playing her gold-stringed harp and singing in her soft, reptilian voice that the Dragon -- reptilian itself -- apparently finds very lulling.
It was during this war that the Immortals learned how much they needed Elanthia. While all the gods have their own worlds, only Elanthia is inhabited with the creatures they find the most amusing and inspiring: mortals.
After the fall of the Seven-Star Empire, many people turned back to
religion to console themselves over the war that the Empire's
crumbling caused. One inspired priest by the name of Sh'kial --
a S'Kra religious zealot -- brought about the worship of greatest
fear of all Elanthians -- the dragon that dwells within the heart
of their very world.
Sh'kial's theory was that, through worship and devotion, the tempermental personality of Elanthia could be controlled and prevented. If the World Dragon was appeased, then It would cease its rumblings and a golden age of Peace could be achieved.
While well-intended, the reign of the Dragon Priests (as the followers of Sh'kial soon became known) soon turned into a nightmare. Sh'kial's original doctrine followed the belief of existential offerings such as goat flesh, roses, pearls, and other valuables. His followers soon twisted this by offering up human sacrifices or -- in a special case -- S'Kra sacrifices. The S'Kra race in many places became a dominant force, crushing and subverting all other species in the belief that "those who were fashioned in the shape of the Great Dragon should hold power over all others."
Sh'kial, when he learned of the terrible things his followers were performing, ordered them to cease, and was promptly named a heretic by his closest protege, a S'Kra female by the name of Dzree. Backstabbed when he was bending over to pick up a babe from a cradle by one of Dzree's students, Dzree immediately took over as the leader of the nations the Dragon Priests had brought under their control.
Her greatest opposers were the Bards of Elanthia. Their leader, an Elf by the name of Neithrel Silverfrost, lead an army against Dzree, but was defeated. Dzree began a war upon all Bards at that point, and the songsmiths became prime targets for sacrifices to the World Dragon. All guild houses were destroyed beyond repair, and the ways of the Bards lost save to the Bards that remained in hiding. Neithrel himself was taken captive as Dzree's personal slave and scribe, and was kept chained at the foot of her Throne, with the command to record all that transcribed within her chambers. Consumed by hate but compelled by truth, the bard could do nothing but what she ordered.
The next one hundred and fifty years were a living hell for all races other than S'Kra -- and even then, many of the serpentine folk found the horrors the Priests brought upon others intolerable. Dzree lived in paranoia of her own students, and had many killed outright if she had even the slightest notion that they might be after her throne. In all, the Lorethew have accounted for over one hundred thousand deaths from sacrifices alone over the course of Dzree's reign as high Dragon Priestess.
The Prophecy of Sithsia
Old but still bitterly clinging to life through dark enchantments,
Dzree finally met her end in the year of the Silver Wyvern at
the hand of words alone.
In her time, Dzree had made many enemies, and when she turned her eyes to Leth Deriel in the hopes of taking the city as her own, she made her greatest enemy of all. Ten thousand of her highly trained soldiers went marching toward the Elven city. One returned.
The one that returned babbled like a madman, but told the tale of how the army had walked the road to the city and encountered a darkling forest midway there. As they had passed through it, strange things began to happen. Mist rose up from the ground and seemed to choke some of the men, while ravens flew down from the trees and distracted or blinded others. Then, from the forest, many dark figures appeared -- Fae of some sort, but hideously twisted. The soldiers were wiped out and this one sent back as a messenger.
Dzree became enraged, and began to send army after army toward Leth Deriel, each one growing in size as they went, each one destroyed with only one member left to recount a tale of horror and destruction beyond belief.
The following passage was written by Neithrel himself:
- It was late in the evening, for the shadows were darkening the Throne of Blood into the color of dried crimson. The high windows of the citadel let in little light, but I could still see.
- Seated on her throne was Dzree, old and bony Dzree, her eyes flickering with the fires of madness, cold and amber. Her scales were now faded to a white-gray, and she sat in the throne like a hag-queen, hunched and watchful.
- The raven landed on the window above me, and I was the first to notice it. It was larger than any black bird I had ever seen, with a wing span that I would estimate at seven feet. Its eyes were amber as well, and it glided down to land at the feet of Dzree.
- In that moment, it changed, shifting from raven to Human within moments. In its place stood a stunning woman of approximately five feet. Her hair was long and silver, her eyes the yellow of the raven's. Her clothing may have been fine once, but was now tattered and bloody, ground in with dust and the ravages of time. She smiled at Dzree and bowed, the silver circlet on her brow winking.
- "You seek the city of Leth Deriel," she said in a soft voice, "and I am here to tell you you shall not have it. The Elven Village is mine."
- Dzree narrowed her eyes at the woman and hissed, "And who are you to sssay thisss, woman?"
- "I am Sithsia, Mage of the forest. Leth Deriel is under my protection. You will not take it." I drew in a breath as she said this. Everyone knew of the mad mage Sithsia. The tale was legendary.
- It was easy to tell from the look in Dzree's eyes that she knew the name too, for she looked startled for a moment before snapping, "How dare you defy me, upssstart! Guards, sssseize her!"
- I stopped a cry as the guards rushed toward the mage. Sithsia merely laughed and gestured, and the men froze where they stood, then began to scream as their flesh smoked. They turned to ashes as I watched, leaving naught but a sword and shield to mark that they'd ever even existed.
- Sithsia smiled at Dzree. "I prophecy this, fool priest. In a years time, a warrior shall come who shall smite you where you stand and destroy you and your empire. All you have done will be as your former guards there -- ashes to the wind. This I promise, and this I say to be, I, the mage Sithsia."
- With that, the air swirled around the mage and swept her up. As I watched, she became enrobed in a tumult of feathers and took again the form of the raven, flying through a high window.
- And in her wake was her breeze, stirring the ashes of the guards on the wind....
Enraged, Dzree ordered her men to hunt down the insane sorceress,
but they all fell to the same fate as her army. Feeling the pressures
of karma, Dzree ordered the remains of her army into her citadel,
closed the gates, and remained pent up there, waiting.
A year passed, as Sithsia had prophesized, and nervously Dzree sat on her throne. Blood ran in the citadel as she slaughtered anyone she suspected to be her killer, and her sermons became more and more twisted, foreseeing a time not of golden Peace, but one of terrible war, where the World Dragon awoke and consumed all of Elanthia.
It was one year to the day that Sithsia had stood before her throne that Dzree met her end. As she paced in her chambers, one of her guards knocked on her door to tell her a message had arrived for her. Nervous and waiting for the deathblow, Dzree drew her knife as the guard was speaking to her, her crazed eyes mistaking him for the assassin Sithsia had said would be coming for her. The guard died as she stabbed him, then drew his own sword and chopped his head off.
Old and unuse to exertion, the strain of the evening were too much to Dzree's heart, and she collapsed on the ground over the guard's body. Empaths rushed in to attend to her, but she was past their skillful aid. At long last, Dzree was dead -- killed by a self-fulfilling prophecy.
While Dzree had been mad, she had still kept a tight reign on her empire. With her death, the great undulating snake of the Dragon Priests became headless. Contenders rose for the Blood Throne, but each consumed the other, leaving the empire thrashing in its death throes.
An uprising, lead by Dzree's former slave Neithrel and a young Elven warrior named Savrin, wiped out the remnants of the empire, toppling its bloody fist. Together, Neithrel and Savrin sought out the various former royal houses of the realms and, where they did not exist, set up good and wise people as leaders. An alliance was forged between many clans during this time, and an unsteady peace descended soon after.
Savrin removed herself from the public eye soon after the downfall of the Priests, fearing for herself and her children's life at the hand of former members of the Dragon Worship. Neithrel began the restoration of the Bards, passing on much of his knowledge to his daughter by Savrin, the Bard known only as Silverfrost. Soon after, Neithrel vanished, and has remained unseen since then.
So it is that history has brought itself up to now, with the Dragon Priests defamed but still lurking, and all the lands recovering from shattered promises.