Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Night of Four Stories: Part IV

"You wanted to know how I got these eyes. How I came to see things the way dragons do. How I gained their knowledge and power."
"You are curious how I acquired them. Did I outwit a dragon? Overpower it? Did I win these eyes in a game of chance? No."
"Before I acquired these eyes, I was a slave of Koteph. I was a shade. He sent me to wander the myriad worldlets that bordered our own. Many of those worlds had last been visited by elves, or dragons, or the Shapers themselves. Koteph hoped that I might find some great power for him. I did find a great power, of course, but it didn't end up helping him."
"During one of my journeys, I was accosted by a herd of horsemen."
"A heard of what," I asked.
"Horsemen. Their upper bodies were those of men, and their lower bodies were those of horses. I expect that they were made by a Shaper. Possibly as an alternative to men. But that is just speculation."
"I was walking towards a large tree. It reached the ceiling of this little world, and I thought it might hide something of interest. The horsemen were all galloping the other way. They seemed to be running from something."
"Now, common sense says that if a couple dozen horsemen are all going the same way, running from something, perhaps you should join them, if you value your life. But I didn't value my life. I wanted to find something for Koteph. So I ran towards the tree. And came face to face with a titanic dragon."
"The dragon saw the spirit possessing me. It invoked the spirit's True Name, freeing me. It spoke to me in the True Speech, which I somehow understood."
'A lesser elf. Is that what they got up to after I left? How peculiar.'
I, of course, didn't speak the True Speech. 'The term is human. I am a human. I know the True Name of fire, and my sorcery can-'
'You are pathetic. Not even an elf. Sorcery? A poor excuse for magic.'
"The dragon was not very impressed. But he had never seen a human before. He had been wandering minor worldlets since before we had existed. He decided that I would tell him all the news he had missed. I told him how his creator, Takenor, had been imprisoned. The man in the moon. The dragon wasn't happy about that. I told him how elves didn't exist anymore, and men had been made to replace them. I told him that the Shapers had disappeared millennia ago, and nobody knew why. I told him that men had cities and magic that rivaled the elves at their greatest. He laughed, and told me not to flatter myself."
"He kept me there for several weeks. He let me sleep, and hunt. I used the True Name of fire to cook my food. I noticed the fire came up easier. He said that it was because of another dragon, a few worlds away, who was dying. Apparently, the two dragons had come into conflict, and my dragon had been the victor. The loser was still alive, but his power was depleted and his injuries would soon kill him. His mighty throes were spreading flames throughout the worlds. Only a few of the great beasts were left, apparently."
"We talked more. I told him stories of great heroes. I told him about the ancient rivalries between the Violet and Yellow Towers, or the Black and White ones."
Dran and I shot each other glances.
"I told him about Koteph. How the shade was gaining power in the north. I did not yet know his plan, but I suspected he wanted to conquer the world. Eventually, the great dragon tired of me. He flew off, and disappeared to another world. I never saw him again."
"But, as you have likely surmised, the story does not end there. I was alone in a distant world. I only half remembered the spells I had used to get there. For the first time in months, I was free of Koteph's influence. I knew that the shade was growing more powerful by the day, and he threatened the world. I thought about the power that had freed me. The dragon. And it occurred to me that for the first time in all my wandering, I had met something mighty enough to challenge Koteph. I knew that no dragon would ever return to our world to do battle with a shade. But I did have an idea."
"After days of experimentation, I reconstructed the spells too travel between the worlds. I used the True Name of fire, and divined the location of the dying dragon. I walked between the worlds, drawing closer to it. Eventually, I landed there. A world on fire. It is fortunate my power protected me, because everything else was turned to ash. I approached the dying dragon. It looked at me with its orange eyes. It knew what I was planning to do. It couldn't stop me. I got to work."
"I returned to Koteph. Impressed him with my power as I gained information. I used these eyes to see his creations, to gauge his strength. I used my eyes for good."
"That's why I took this power. Because I needed it. I pried it out of a dragon's skull to protect the world. And I will always protect the world."     

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