We rode through the foothills of the mountains. Specifically, the large, unnamed mountain range in the middle of the continent. I call them the Green Mountains, since that's what people at the University tend to call them. They weren't green, but whoever came up with that name evidently did not care.
Dragoneyes was still entertaining himself with the creation of swords. But he had also developed the hobby of erecting small houses every night. "Tents are rather primitive," he explained.
At one point, after watching him create an especially intricate structure using nothing but his own power as a mage, I was burning with curiosity. "How did you get like this? How on Earth did you manage to kill a dragon?"
"I'll tell you later."
"Tell us now," Dran insisted.
Dragoneyes sat down as a wooden chair erupted from the floor. "How about each of you tells me a story, then, if we haven't fallen asleep, I'll tell mine."
Cassinder returned from wherever she had wandered off to, responding to Dragoneyes' proposal before Dran or I could. "They will agree."
"Umm, yes, I will," I stammered.
"So will I," Dran said.
"Well, in that case," Dragoneyes said, "I think Cassinder should tell us a story as well."
"The stories don't have to be about us," I clarified.
"Of course. I've been present for every interesting event in your life."
"Well, that's not entirely true..." I struggled to think of an exception. "One time, when I was doing research into the history of irrigation in the Etoran Empire..." I thought for a moment. "Actually, maybe Dran should go first."
Dragoneyes summoned chairs. He even made a campfire. I cast a charm to keep the smoke under control. Then, Dranarius began to speak. "I'm going to tell you what we know about Ochekol'kan. My father was an authority on her monstrous children. He found this story in a book called The Ossoniad."
I couldn't help but interrupt him. "Your father had read The Ossoniad?"
"He owned a copy. Read it several times. Said I could have a look when... never mind" Dran didn't want to talk about his late father. "He told me this story to help me sleep at night. It was not effective."
"As we all know, Ochekol'kan was one of the Shapers of the World. The beings who spoke in True Names and made the universe with their power. What many people don't appreciate is that she wasn't very high in their pecking order. She was dwarfed by an even greater evil, Takenor."
"Takenor was probably the greatest of the Shapers. He created the Dragons, and probably also the mountain range we are all enjoying right now. We don't know the name of his primary rival. Translations of translations of Elven texts call him 'Our Maker'. More recent scholarship calls him the Elfshaper. That's how I'll refer to him."
"Takenor decided he didn't want this Elfshaper challenging him. He decided it was time to show the other Shapers who exactly ruled the universe. But he knew that he couldn't battle all the rest on his own. So he made more Shapers. Most of their names are lost to history. Actually, all of their names are lost to history except one: Ochekol'kan."
At this point, Dragoneyes interrupted. "I am no scholar of history, but I'm pretty sure Ochekol'kan and Takenor were lovers."
"We don't know for sure about that," Dran responded. "We do know for certain that he was her creator. Infer from that what you will." Dran returned to his story. "Now, Takenor was defeated. One bit of writing says he was chained to the far side of the moon, although that may have been a metaphor."
"Most of his offspring were killed in the battle. But the Elfshaper argued for lenience for the rest. He pointed out that they couldn't really be blamed for being loyal to their creator, and they shouldn't be punished for it. So they joined Shaper society. They even shaped some forests and valleys of their own."
"Now, let's talk about the elves. They were probably like humans. Probably taller, and fairer. We know they were immune to age and sickness, and that they spoke the True Speech and knew only True Names."
"They created six towers from which to govern the world, while the Shapers ruled the heavens. White, Black, Red, Blue, Yellow, and Violet. One fateful day, the Lord of the Red Tower, and elf name Aelaian, decided to hold a great celebration of his daughter's beauty. Some of the Shapers elected to attend. Elves and Shaper's alike marveled at the lovely elf. As you can imagine, the other women were rather jealous. Most of them swallowed their bitterness. But one didn't, Ochekol'kan. She... Well, you might say she overreacted. She destroyed the entire Elven race in one bloody day."
"The other Shapers were outraged. The Elfshaper, especially. He destroyed most of her creations as recompense. But that was not enough. He ordered that she be imprisoned. He created a final Tower, green, in memory of the elves, and buried her beneath it. And, to prevent her escape, he caused her to forget the True Speech. What we know from her few visitors suggests that she quickly lost all ability to reason."
"The Elfshaper wanted to recreate his children. But the other Shapers of the World urged him not to. The Ossoniad said Ishii and Noouk gave impassioned speeches on the subject. They said it was folly to create a race that could challenge them in knowledge and power and greatness. So instead, men were made. Mortal men, who could never compete with their creators, never arouse their ire. Men who must now contend alone against the god who destroyed their predecessors."
"And that's who we're fighting to stop. Someone who destroyed a race in a single day. One who has been driven beyond reason, beyond the ability to be reasoned with. One who has had thousands of years to grow very resentful of everyone else."