THE TIME OF TRIALS: before the Great War
The Time of Trials had yet to begin. None were aware of it looming over the heads of the people of Darkshom or Rorn. Secrets back then were so easily kept—even from one’s own self.
You could walk the cobbled streets of Vor’Sahran without fear or trepidation. Faces such as drow were unseen. The dragons kept to themselves. Cohen’s own people were a bed of silence for the past 100 years—so there was not a care in the world other than the monsters or wildlife that were beyond the city walls. Children danced the streets like autumn leaves dancing the wind. It would seem that laughter was free.
None were aware that one woman would be a sign of the illness that loomed just beneath the surface. The boil would fester and be tender to the touch. It’s heat would slowly spread across the world…and the woman would be one of the catalysts to cause the festering wound to burst to the surface.
Allendra was clearly a beautiful woman. Her shoulder length hair fell in brown waves framing a heart shaped face with the self-same brown eyes. She smiled frequently, especially when she was around the man she would soon wed. Her heart could burst near to full when she was around Christopher—the War Priest of Fate. They spent every moment they could about each other. Even the King and Queen found the pair refreshing. A grand wedding was planned by the royal couple for the favored couple of Vor’Sahran. Christopher and Allendra were a sign of the glorious times—an omen of grande things to come.
Omens, oh to speak of such things! Shame. Hide them in silence. The wedding day arrived and the first words of darkness filtered across city streets. A drow had been sighted. This one was a throwback—brownish skin and black hair. Her eyes were river blue to match the reflection of the sky. I knew who she was, but was sworn into my silence.
The drow…an omen. One who did not know of her heritage. Christopher was a member of the royal guard and was put on alert about this. He would be active the next day.
The darkness of this omen was that the drow female was first sighted the VERY DAY of the wedding. Clearly a bad sign. So horribly wrong. Bad things would happen at such a celebration. Still the King and Queen passed an edict that the wedding would still remain public. In this they would keep an eye on the stranger. Still the whispers loomed.
Yet darker knews fled from the northern islands to Vor’Sahran that day. It arrived on ship as a parchment nailed to the chest of the ship’s dead captain. The People of Cohen would begin their hunts that day for any of sorcerous leanings. Bards were barely protected because their magic only touched on the edge of sorcery. It did not matter. The letter was signed by a man named Sardecens whom none had heard of. Still, it was difficult to laugh this off. This was the same day as the sighting of a drow in their very city walls.
It was nigh on dusk when the bells rang across Vor’Sahran. Town criers chanted “come one come all” on the streets like this was to be some circus. Excitement mounted. The happy couple thought nothing but of the night to come. Questions of where Allendra’s great power came from did not exist. Even questions as the presence of the lone dark elf throwback were forgotten.
Ah, it was a grande eve. My best Singers were appointed by the Royal Family to perform. I lined twenty five to a side behind the visitors. Music surrounded all who watched and formed the aisle that bride and groom would walk down. It bounced off the stone walls of the courtyard and reached to the heavens where the first stars were peeking. There was nary a cloud. The Fae Dragons swam in the air around the Singers and lent their warbling in a cascade of sound and their brilliant colors. The candle-lit street lamps began to glow. Moths surrounded the light and made it seem like flower petals could almost rain down on us. It was a time for fantasy.
The music piped up. Everyone was standing and the sounds of the populace grew hush. The drow female stood alone, and as bride and groom passed she only received a moment’s glance. Allendra was radiance itself in fine armors that shone white to where they almost glowed. The polish made them appear as mother of pearl against her tanned skin. White flowers and bits of white dragon scales and pearls were woven into her hair. AND SIR CHRISTOPHER! His armor matched hers, but it did not compete with her. To glance on them both was pleasing to the eye. His rugged features shone with happiness.
Priests of the Life Aspect of Fate performed the ceremony. They granted blessings from their god on to the couple. The vows were spoken, the kiss was granted, then the shock fell on all in audience.
Sardecen’s own men had arrived. They were searching for sorcerers—and Allendra was deemed as such. Of course none of us had known that their real target was the lone elf with dark skin and river blue eyes hiding in the back. Even Sardecen’s own men did not see their real target. They only saw Allendra. She would be made the first example of the new edict issued by Cohen himself.
All sorcerers were to be killed. At that moment, I looked on the eyes of my friend Fate and realized that my own people were in danger. Bardic power could be deemed sorcery in the wrong hands. I had to glance back as my own people escaped while Allendra was burned in front of all. Fate stood back, hidden where mortal eyes could not see him. His task was not one he enjoyed.
At the stake, Allendra’s eyes had locked with his. Those brief seconds I saw it and KNEW she was not a mortal. The dark creature within me stirred in response.
It would be some time before any of us knew the trickery involved—the extent that Sardecens would go to in order to obtain weapons and power. That day the wedding had ended in tears and terror. Vor’Sahran would be changed forever at that funerary pyre.
It was a few moons before she was seen again. We immortals knew who she was—but others did not. Sir Christopher had known what happened and slowly word did spread. Allendra was alive and back in her natural form. Sardecens had used the pyre as the means to kill her—but a red dragon does not die in mundane flames. She rose from them like the pheonix.
None had known she still lived until the Great Plague. Everyone who cast spells had random effects that hit anyone. Limbs would fall off. People would become lepers or just die. Brains became ill.
During that time a cure had been found for the plague. It required some sacrifices that none were willing to take. Certainly the god Cohen refused to let his people make any changes. They were protected from it—for they were the cause. While Cohen is not known for any kindness, he will protect his own to further his ends. So he did. I digress.
The cure took some research to find and many rallied together to do just that. Sir Christopher took in full his responsibilities as the War Priest of the god of Fates. He would have to perform the cure. Of course there were many herbs and components that had to be added into the holy waters of the Temple of Aria….vervain, bloodwort, bloodstone, hematite, rubies. Other components were needed: the living blood of a drow virgin, and the sacrificial blood of a white hatchling dragon.
The white dragon is most pure. They are the embodiment of innocence and favored by the gods. Dragons without color have perfect minds and hearts. However there were none known to the lands. Dragons can slumber for thousands of years. Had there been one the peoples did not know. The plague continued unrelenting. They had the exceedingly rare component of the virgin drow—the throwback known as Black Feather. However, the white hatchling was going to be a problem.
A fighter of little reknown stumbled on a goblin in the Tang Mountains who knew of the answer. There was a red queen dragon who just clutched deep within the mountains. In the clutch was a white egg that glowed even in the darkness. Most of the time the evil dragons would kill good eggs in their clutches—for the egg mixture is fairly random and they can lay eggs of up to 30 at a time. However, this red dragon had been touched by madness. She had once loved as a human woman, and had been brutalized. The Rorn Steel collar was placed on her neck in the dragon form so she could not shift out of it.
She was Allendra.
A black guard of Sardecen’s—not the great Codus—and 2 thieves made their way deep into the heart of the Mountain Tang. For days they wandered the twists of caverns the crazed red queen had dug to elude predators. Eventually they found her.
She had painted her own wings with gold leafing and other metals. The flames rose over her red sails in shining gold. She had embedded rubies into her chest plates, and painted horn and spike tips in black and bronze. Allendra was a beautiful dragon, and just as deadly has she was insane. Scars were around the collar that was tight on her neck. She had spent a long time trying to remove it with her front and hind claws. She had tried to rend her own flesh to escape but the wounds became scars--the sign that she had surrendered.
This time she wasn’t giving up. The black guard held her at bay while the thieves crept in and stole the one sparkling egg in her clutch of 10. She made short work of the black guard and lumbered over the two thieves running in terror. They narrowly escaped through a crack in the cavern behind her gold hoard. There was no way they were stopping for easy coin!
In trying to capture them she tore through cavern walls. Part of the Tang to this day is barren stone pits where the walls collapsed around her—burying her hoarde. People still seek the fabled piles of gold and jewels. Mages had helped bring the mountains down around her so the thieves could narrowly escape.
The egg was still warm but hard now. The thieves approached Sir Christopher in a double cross. Sardecens would pay them well, but greed became paramount. Christopher had the backing of the church and paid them triple—unknowing at the time who’s egg he purchased.
Sardecens had killed the thieves. It’s rumored their screams can still be heard throughout Allendras Falls.
The egg was brought to the temple of Aria. Components were placed in the waters. Black Feather’s hand was pricked, but the drow did not know of the final piece of the puzzle. The egg began to hatch and the white hatchling’s head cleared the shell. Black Feather had been watching and was very close. She reached out her hand to touch the white head. Hatchling brushed her hand affectionately. Her blood had been smeared on it’s head in the contact. Neither noticed their surroundings—only eachother. Christopher did what had to be done—for Fate is neither good or bad. If things had to be done so be it! This was one of those moments.
Of all the creatures to instinctively know—this hatchling knew. Inside it’s head came the true name of the drow Black Feather. It had only time to let it’s own name be known to her. The female was named Mirrbeth.
Before the bond could be completed the hatchling’s throat was slit by Sir Christopher. Blood spattered temple walls—a mixture of the white dragon and the drow. It’s said Black Feather collapsed and had to be dragged out. Everywhere the blood spattered it burned like fire from the sky. The land of Emerald Harbor began to shake. Across the continent the Sweet Water River flowed backwards. The temple fell into the Emerald Harbor and only the head and arms of the statue of Aria remained. Black Feather babbled for days until the insanity the plague had given her had passed. Her own grief did not release though—for she had bonded with the daughter of Allendra the Red.
It would be some time before rumor finally spread out of the mountains that once more—Allendra had been seen alive but in chains. Everyone learned who’s egg—who’s child—had been sacrificed.
Sardecens began to make more and more appearances outside of Zaladorn and other cities throughout the continent of Janus. He was even making appearances on the continent of Kordukahen that lay south of the Vortex of the Emerald Eye Sea. People were becoming more and more afraid. It was still said he looked for the woman who would give birth to Magic. Yet, that was not all he sought.
He was looking for power. The dragons that had helped him previously when he took over Vor’Sarhan were fickle when it came to helping him again. Allendra was the only one he had total control over. He lorded it over her—and how he had destroyed not only the gold egg, but her entire nest. The reminders were continuous.
Allendra watched how the insane ruler controlled his people. For a time he had the throwback drow as a slave. The dragon’s curiosity grew when the drow was handed to Codus as a gift. Neither mortal had noticed she was present in the days to come when Codus would tell Black Feather her real name.
If Allendra had control like she did prior to her days as a human, she would have tortured and killed the drow for the fun of it. Such acts were how the dragon once attained enjoyment. Humanity was a punishment for her past cruelties. However her time served as a human softened her enough—or made her insane enough—to begin stalking. This she did of Black Feather. She always watched. Occasionally she would make appearances in Zaladorn to bring the fear that Sardecens wanted—but there was an ulterior motive. The red was startled that the drow respected her and would kneel before her. She would tell Black Feather that power was the only reason the drow wanted Codus—but something stirred in Allendra. Memories flooded her. She watched from afar as Christopher took on a new life—and a wife. Time was passing in human eyes.
The anger festered. Then another catalyst was sprung.
Codus slew the goddess of Compassion--Black Feather--in the tombs of Sar’Anderost. The world shook and rivers flowed in reverse. Many mourned. Sardecens celebrated and seemed to forget about his red pet.
Codus went on an 18 year killing rampage. He seperated from his army that had fractured off from Sardencens' own church. Allendra stayed far from the man when she witnessed him slay an albino bronze dragon—the king of the good dragons who was named White Tiger. The killing spree went on and on, and all of the good dragons went into hiding. Many of the dark dragons fled as well—but even safety in Rohrn was not guaranteed. Codus would find them.
Only those sided with Sardecens were safe. Allendra hid beneath Vor’Sahran for 18 years.
When Codus’s half-drow daughter emerged from the orcish lands—his killing spree ended. Another year had passed that was insignificant to the dragon except she was helping Codus thwart Sardecens. Slowly the two of them began to betray the insane wizard. He was still focused on killing all sorcerers. He did not see his own downfall was coming.
Codus began to confide in Allendra. Then the day came that the red decided to stir up the pot. Even though the black guard was feeling guilty for slaying his soul mate—the dragon knew it wouldn’t be enough. She felt he had to be punished just like his master. Her twisted sense of justice sprang from her grief over her own loss. Still, if she was able to rid the world of Codus everyone would focus their efforts on destroying Sardencens.
She contacted a priest of Ti Malice.
The priest of the Goddess of Chaos was more than happy to help with Allendra’s plan. As Codus was unawares—the two helped cast a curse on him. Allendra flew away in laughter as Codus was made to be like a paladin. He became lawful good. As a result he asked the gods to forgive him for everything he had done—and to grant his daughter sight for she had been born blind like her father had been.
In the end Codus was publicly executed as was his wish. Sardecens did not even attempt a rescue, but his power was waning.
The drow and the orcs began an attack on Zaladorn without the help of the warlord Hennen. Allendra had gone to the orc Master Hunter and told him of Sardecens plans to destroy the orcs and not adhere to the deal made where lands would be granted to the orc people. Master Hunter kept his Hunters away from the battle.
About 10 dragons helped the attacks as Sardecen’s forces marched on Old Zaladorn. During the fray, Allendra used the chaos to her advantage. She had become a servant of chaos and Ti Malice favored the dragon with increased power. There was one requirement—Sardecens would have to die.
Allendra relished the thought as she turned and dove on Sardecens. As the war raged the wizard found his power was waning further. Someone had broken the rorn steel collar that the dragon had worn. She had been wearing one of plain steel to fool him, and he learned of this as soon as he tried to control the red dragon.
She chased him for the length of the rise of a moon. Troops continued to fight as the wizard was chased from Zaladorn to Vor’Sarhan. In her rage she never hesitated to crush the landscape as she went. Her increased power was evident in the amount of damage she caused. For 200 miles the land was destroyed. Allendra’s Fire is actually known as an increased dragon breath now. For back then, Ti Malice had made the fire breath more destructive. It is more than flame—it becomes a physical force that can move mountains.
It was as if a rock fell from the sky and could not stop for the 200 miles. The swath of damage remains to this day. It is a quarter mile deep and 10 miles wide. In her fury, the red queen destroyed villages and even Vor’Sarhan itself. The old kingdom was divided in half. Even now the locals feel the land is cursed and neither of the two remaining kingdoms will cross the swath of land called “Allendra’s Falls”. That was 500 years ago but the peoples there still speak of it like it was yesterday. She is spoken of with hate and contempt.
At the end of her tirade—the few elves that still live who witnessed this event say she chased the wizard clear off the cliffs leading into the ocean. He had no more spells to protect himself. She spun in the air and roared as his screaming form hit rock after rock. Eventually the waters swallowed him and Allendra the Red flew away.
There have been sightings since. Now it has been told that the dwarves of DarkGate have a pact with the Red Queen beneath their mountains. She guards the most rare of metals in their mines. In return they house her.
For all the damage the dragon had caused—she actually was granted favor by Ti Malice. Inside her cavern are 4 crystals that cannot be reached by physical means or magics. They keep Allendra immortal. With them she can never truly be destroyed. Killing her only removes her from this plane for a short time and then she returns.
She has not claimed a mate since. Many times I have spent been with her, but she tells me she has no desire for a male anymore. Instead she guards her hoarde and treasure. I have tried to convince her to come out of her den but she will not. I would claim her as mine if she would have me.
She is still a beautiful creature. I know this whether I am in my true form or that of my dragon. There is an inherent sadness though. She still grieves the loss of something she cannot name. I know what it is, and who it is.
She grieves the loss of human feelings and love. It permeated her soul when the human man she loved died in the Great War.
One can but ponder if her sadness can be lifted some day.
copyright: 5/17/2006 Christine H. Rietsch