Of Poetry And Farewells

Yeah, that title sounds like a Dashboard Confessional song. Eat it.

Anyway, I’m going on a class trip. Leaving tomorrow. Will be back a week from monday. And yes, I know I didn’t keep to my schedule and put out another chapter of that Alara thing on tuesday, but c’mon, I had 2 reports to write, a final project, and a “Bouree in E minor” to memorize. Fucking bach.

So I leave you with poetry. These are some poems I wrote at various times, mostly during classes that I didn’t want to pay attention in. My best work is done while not paying attention.

(editor’s note: I started out numbering my poems, but I got bored so now my numbers range from “thu” to ∞. Also, one’s title was just a doodled symbol that looked kinda like a k, only with a dot instead of the upper right leg.)

Poem #q: Dragon

On a boring day in June,

I found a dragon in my laundry.

He was a small little thing,

Merely a wyrmling.

He (for I knew it to be male) looked at me.

Looked at me with sad eyes.

And I wondered,

What is this wyrmling doing,

Sitting there,

Serenely,

In my laundry?

One does not often find dragons in one’s laundry.

It’s quite an odd occurence,

worthy, indeed,

of a poem.

Perhaps he was trying to find other dragons.

Perhaps he was

lonely.

Perhaps my laundry, being laundry, was simply a warm place to rest.

Or perhaps dragons gravitate towards laundry.

I don’t think I shall ever know, as

after that initial moment,

the dragon turned and fled.

I doubt I’ll ever see him again.

Dreams

I’m bored.

Sitting here in German class, having a children’s book read to me.

Nothing to do but think.

So I think.

And dream.

Dreams of battles far away,

Dreams of seas of clouds.

Dreams of horned beasts,

of sailors,

of gods.

But I wake.

And I’m sitting in German class.

Having a children’s book read to me.

Fuck.

Those are the poems I feel like typing up. Feedback is welcome but not required, I already like those two poems so I don’t need external validation this time. Peace out, see you in a week and a half. I’ll probably have more poetry.

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Things’ll be done MY way around here from now on!

…although, I suppose they usually are.

I’m gonna adhere to a rough schedule for a while.  Every tuesday I’ll post a chapter of that book I’m working on, and between then as filler, I’ll either post something random on Alara or post some poetry, ’cause I’ve been getting into poetry recently.  Call me a dork if you wish, I like writing poetry.  Anyway, there’ll be a slight interruption in a few weeks ’cause I’m going on a class trip for a week, but other than that I should be doing this for a while.  The reason for this schedule is to make me actually work on my writing, as opposed to just putting it off indefinitely.

Anyway, Chapter 2 is up, read it bitches.  And maybe enjoy it.  I dunno.

Chapter II

So, what I want you to evaluate on this chapter is whether or not it captures your interest. That’s all. Just whether it captures your interest. Grammar and spelling help is still appreciated, of course. This chapter’s shorter, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Anyway, happy reading.

recap from last week: Captain Drogo Corentin arrives in Below.  Goes to find a friend of his, who sends him off to Sentinel Watch to find a dwarf who knows wtf is going on.

II

Corentin, of course, wanted to leave immediately. The issue with this was the fact that his entire crew was busy getting drunk and going home with women of dubious morality. As this rather impeded Corentin’s ability to leave, he decided to float around Below for a few days; or, at least until his crew could be rounded up.

It was this decision that led him to the Hanging House.

Universally considered the trashiest tavern in Below, the Hanging House was named aptly, hanging suspended by several badly made chains from several streets in the darkest parts of the Ramshackle. Though most of Below was lit by an odd series of lamps, created by a combination of magic, chemical reactions, wind power, and wishing really hard, the area around the Hanging House was dark. Most of the lamps had long ago been either broken by vandals or stolen and sold. The dinginess served the area well, however, as no one really wanted to see it in a good light.

The only method to access the Hanging House, apart from flying or jumping, was a decrepit staircase, more akin to a rope bridge than a real staircase, covered in grime and in the habit of swinging back and forth whenever it was descended. It was this staircase that Corentin gingerly stepped down, hoping to all the gods who might be listening that the ropes would hold.

Carefully, he lifted his foot and placed it on another stair. The plank produced an ominous creaking. The ropes holding it together squelched blatantly, as if to taunt Corentin with the fact that ropes really should not squelch.

You know, self, reflected Corentin, compared to this, it was probably a better idea to just jump. It was only about ten feet, after all. And they had a bale of hay set out to land on. Very hospitable of them, really.

Well, yeah, he replied, but the hay was green. And slimy. And we’ve no idea what was living in it. Anyway, we’ve got to continue now, if only because one of the stairs fell out behind us and we really don’t feel like leaping.

Corentin ceased his mental conversation. Arguing with himself could come when he wasn’t suspended over nothingness on a bit of rotting wood and soggy rope. He took another step, onto a plank thankfully less decayed. It appeared that the steps further down were less decrepit than those above, though Corentin could think of no logical reason for this. He tested his theory with a few more steps, and, finding himself correct, scampered quickly across the remaining stairs to the platform upon which the tavern sat. He paused to catch his breath.

The tavern itself was in a state similar to that of its staircase. A few wooden structures served as walls, with a canvas roof, propped up in a vaguely triangle formation to repel rainwater. The walls had what could be termed windows, but were probably more accurately referred to as gaping accidental holes.

Corentin walked slowly through the door-hole, allowing his eyes to get accustomed to the light. The interior of the Hanging House was slightly lighter than the surrounding gloom, if only because of a dimly lit fireplace, blatantly against Below regulations. It was filled with tables and figures in various states of shabbiness, drinking and gambling and swearing.

Walking up to the bar, Corentin caught the attention of the barkeeper. “Your staircase is missing a step,” he informed the man. The barkeep grunted in response. He was a large man, grotesquely fat and unbearably hairy. He occupied himself by washing a dirty glass with a dirtier cloth.

Corentin sat down, and looked around. There didn’t appear to be much of interest in the tavern, although in the corner several men were playing some form of card game. Corentin could probably beat them, though they might stab him for the slight. They didn’t look like particularly pleasant people.

“Hey, puny, yeh gonna order?” grunted the barkeep.

“Oh. Uh… one ale, please,” Corentin muttered distractedly. He slid several coins across the counter. The barkeep bit one, determined it was real, and went to fetch the captain his drink. Corentin continued watching the group in the corner.

After several minutes of slowly sipping a bad ale, the captain reached a decision, and wandered across to see what the men were playing.

Taking up a position behind one of the players, he watched for several hands. It was a game he knew well, Auj. A relatively simple partnered trick-taking game, the entire point was the take the deuce and the trey of as many suits as possible. The issue with this was that the deuce and trey were the two lowest cards, so most of the strategy was relegated to playing a point card on your partner’s high cards. Corentin could see they were playing a southern variation, in which the kings suit was trump. Though they were playing with six players, any even-numbered combination was possible.

As he watched, the leading player threw out an eight of dwarves, his last card. Two of his opponents followed suit, playing a trey and five of dwarves. His partner threw a deuce of winds. Another opponent had no dwarves, but could only play his final card, a deuce of lords. The game came around to the last player, who grinned through a grimy beard and played a trey of kings, winning the trick.

“That gives me four points, friends. Looks like we win…” said the player in question, pulling the formidable pile of coins at the center of the table toward him. The rest of the players glowered at him, excepting his partner, who was flipping a coin up and down and watching it with rapt attention. The dealer reached across the table slowly, grabbing the four extra cards left undealed.

“Hey, you’re not supposed to do that!” said the winning player, leaning forward in his chair.

“Watch me…” muttered his opponent. Corentin had by this time maneuvered himself behind the dealer, and saw the extra cards. They were a four of knights, a deuce of dwarves, a five of men, and a six of winds.

The dealer looked up, glaring at his hairy opponent through vaguely bloodshot eyes. “I dealt you this five of men… friend. You switched cards on us.”

The winner was now slightly panicked, and stuttering. “You… you can’t have known that! You cheated too!”

The dealer stood, and moved his arm calculatedly. The light of the fireplace glinted briefly off metal, and a dagger pinned the bearded man’s hand to the table.

In another flash of movement, the dealer’s partner produced another dagger and held it to the throat of the stricken man’s partner. “You have anything to do with this, schmuck?” he grunted roughly.

It struck Corentin now that the former winner’s partner was rather out of place. While the entire population of the tavern existed in the dubious space between shabby and composting, the man now held at dagger-point wore a clean leather tunic, with a short sword buckled at his side. His beard was neatly trimmed, and his brown hair was close-cropped. Around his neck was a pendant of obvious value, an intricately crafted silver object with all manner of mind-boggling spirals. The fact that it had not yet been stolen was a testament to the fact that the surrounding ruffians were rather uncomfortable with anyone clean.

The well-groomed man, who had thus far been paying no attention whatsoever, now gave his situation some small bit of notice. “Oh, no, I had nothing to do with it. Just met the man today… slightly before we sat down to play, to be honest.”

His would-be attacker grunted dubiously, but sat down. Two bouncers, a large man and a massive minotaur, ran over to remove the wounded man. The other five sat down, and began their game again.

“’ey, you,” said the apparent leader of the gang – the man who had stabbed his opponent. Corentin realized with a start he was talking to him. “We’re short a player. Ever played Auj?”

Corentin nodded, and sat.

They played for several hours. Corentin was an experienced Auj player, and he could see that his opponents were very good at the game; although they seemed to be better at circumventing the rules. The captain had to pleasantly remind the dealer several times that he had, for example, accidentally dealt from the bottom of the deck, or that he appeared to have dropped some cards in his sleeve.

What was odd, however, is that Corentin’s partner appeared to be a perfect player. He constantly led the exact right things, to the ire of his opponents. Even when dealt a hand full of fours and fives, and devoid of kings, he managed to gain several points. Though he and Corentin were by no means winning, most likely due to the efforts of the dealer, they were losing much less than could be expected.

The current hand was going badly – Corentin’s team had three points, compared to both of his opponents, who had five each. Each player had a single card left, and the dealer had led an ace of kings, essentially guaranteeing victory for his team. The cards were played: an eight of dwarves, a deuce of kings, a deuce of swords, and a six of kings. It was Corentin’s partner’s turn to play.

He smirked slightly, and threw out a deuce of winds, which, by an obscure rule, was the only card capable of taking down the ace of kings. This won the game for him and Corentin, as well as a substantial amount of money.

The card table immediately exploded with outrage.

“There’s no way in the seven hells you could’ve had that!” shouted the dealer angrily. In the blink of an eye, weapons were drawn all around. The table had, in the commotion, been overturned, spilling a large pile of coins all over the floor. This was immediately set upon by the scum of the surrounding tables, and the scene quickly degraded into complete anarchy. Several of the bouncers began toward the group, intending to intervene.

“Run!” shouted Corentin to his former partner. The two ran together through the mass of writhing bodies, reaching the door just as one of the bouncers, a minotaur, struck down a card player who had been threatening him. A fight broke out between the card players and the bouncers, with the card players obviously losing.

Corentin and his friend escaped quickly, running over the decrepit staircase. It fell behind them, the stress of bearing so much weight too much to handle. They caught their breath on the street above the Hanging House, watching the chaos from a safe distance. A small Underfoot was defenestrated as they watched, falling for several feet before the wind caught on his clothes and he drifted to safety.

Turning to his newfound friend, Corentin extended his hand. “I’m Captain Corentin, of the Lucinda, by the way. Who are you?”

“Padrig Gensemerse Saruch of… well, not really anywhere. Call me Padrig.”

“Lovely. I’m going back to my ship to get some damn sleep. You can come, if you like.”

“I think I will.”

The two set off toward the Lucinda.

Chapter I

So, here’s the first chapter. (Esty, if you’re reading this, I still want comments on the prologue). My main concern here is whether or not I described Below decently, it’s a bit of a mindfuck, so I want to be sure I paint an accurate mental picture. It’s a bit long, but it’s double-spaced so reading it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Opinions are mandatory. You shall be assimilated.

I

Far away, another ship, a different ship, pulled into the docks of Below, the city beneath the world. Here, the rain was lighter, more of a depressing drizzle than an obliterating downpour.

The crew of the Lucinda scurried about, making ready for landing. They were making port for the first time in months, and all were excited. Some had wives and children on land that they were eager to see, but most simply looked forward to ale and wenches, probably in that order. The only crew member not in a frenzy was, oddly enough, their captain. He stood, solitary and drenched in rain, at the bow of the ship, looking toward the city, thinking. The crew knew their captain, and knew that if he was thinking it was probably about something important. This was because he rarely bothered with thinking, preferring prompt action and sorting out the mess later.

He stood, staring at the the city of Below with his pleasant blue eyes, though not entirely seeing it. He looked about thirty, perhaps either ending his third decade or beginning his fourth. His left hand engaged in a constant struggle with his long, black hair, which was attempting unsportingly to blow into his face and obstruct his view. His right, in contrast, was deep in this pouch, gripping something unseen.

He wore the standard clothes for a sailor of the Cloudsea: baggy, beige colored pants that had probably once been red, tight at the waist but loose at the bottom, so that if he fell overboard the rising thermals would catch his clothes and arrest his fall. His shirt, though white, adhered to the same principles of design as his pants, with many seemingly extraneous folds designed to catch the wind while not catching the rain. He wore a small leather pouch, for personal effects, in which he currently had his right hand. The only way he differed in dress from any of his crew was the bright red, silk sash tied loosely around his waist, like an afterthought, proclaiming his rank of captain.

One of the crew approached him, a man of medium height with a long scar on the right side of his face, though otherwise unremarkable. “Captain Corentin,” he said in respectful tones, “We’re ready to dock.”

The captain stood still for a moment, likely finishing his thought. He spoke without looking at the sailor, keeping his eyes on the city. “Pull in on one of the upper docks.”

“Cap’n, that’ll cost a bunch! Th’ docking fees are bloody crazy up there.”

“I know; I’m in a hurry. Give the order.” The sailor ran off, shouting at the rest of the crew to get to work.

The docks of Below were rather oddly situated. The problem with Below was that, as it was an entire city placed on a sheer cliff face on the underside of the world, it had rather more vertical space than it did horizontal. Thus, the docks were on the underside of the rest of the city, so that the city did not have to deal with them taking up space. The uppermost docks, usually reserved for visiting nobility, were a few seconds walk away from the Main, the area where most of the work went on in the city. The lowermost, on the other hand, were both rather poorly constructed and cut off from everything else, the only access available a series of bizarre mechanized lifts whose maker had probably been several cards short of a full deck.

All this, Captain Corentin thought of as his crew prepared to dock in the ritzy upper levels. They pulled in alongside a richly decorated transport ship, its triple sails and freshly painted red sides cutting a stark contrast to the Lucinda’s shabbiness. Aboard it, some pompously dressed fop looked at the Lucinda with disdain. His look was greeted with rude gestures from several of the sailors.

Corentin leaped off the bow as soon as it neared the dock, leaving his men to tend to the ship and setting off at a brisk pace.

“Cap’n!” called a voice after him. He turned; it was the scar-faced sailor from earlier. “Shouldn’t one of us go wit’ you, sir?”

“I think I know my way around Below, Arak,” replied Corentin. He turned back to the city.

Despite his hurry, he took a moment to breath in the sights. Below was, truly, an amazing place. The city had been founded, as a mere outpost, a century and a half previously. The idea was that the bountiful wind-power of the Cloudsea should be put to some good use. Of course, the group of crazy dwarves who had the idea thought it was too simple to merely build a city on the coast. There are lots of cities built on the coast, where’s the fun in that? So, they gathered up their equipment, and made it, somehow, down the side of the world and to a cliff face that would soon become Below.

The original outpost was constructed on a kind of ledge, an outcrop of rock that, while near the underside of the continent, was probably still technically the side of it. A cave behind said ledge provided shelter and the main living space for the scientists, while on the ledge itself they performed their experiments. Then, they discovered that the underside of the world was actually incredibly strong and could support any number of things hung from it. Thus, Below grew into a city partially on a ledge above itself, but mostly hanging down in the form of all manner of docks and hastily thrown-together buildings.

Most of the scientific work in Below occurred in the Main, the most sturdy area. A grid-like system of ramps and wooden streets ran everywhere, cutting the Main into neat little squares. In each square was a building, or several buildings, dedicated to the pursuit of wind science. Underneath the streets hung bizarre instruments, doing everything from measuring wind-speed to powering transportation to just sitting there, blinking with seemingly incongruous lights.

Further back in the gloom underneath the world lay the living area for most of the workforce of Below. It hung like a badly-constructed model, streets going random places, sometimes stopping, sometimes having large pieces missing, and saturated with a myriad of badly constructed houses, if they could be called that. The house-like objects mainly took the form of large communal living areas, low and squat, with canvas sheets as roofs, as that was the most conservative way to construct them and wood was expensive. The thinking of the scientists was that their living quarters should not be particularly comfortable, as the most important aspect of the city was the technology. Thus, they hadn’t put much effort into their living quarters, earning it both the ire of everyone living in it and the nickname the Ramshackle.

In between lay the area of the merchants, where the hardworking men and women who had nothing to do with science were yet intimately connected with it, as all their customers were either scientists or grunts working for said scientists. It was a combination of the styles of the Main and the Ramshackle, slightly less organized than the scientific district but not as decrepit as the living quarters, as that just wouldn’t do for the merchants. Here, one could find butchers and bakers aplenty, though candlestick makers were a rarity, as open flame endangered the mostly wooden city. The merchant area had no name, as such, though some called it the Mainshackle and thought themselves incredibly witty.

Corentin took all this in within the space of a second, seeing everything going on in the busy city. He continued along his path, though looking all around him as he did, for Below still amazed him, despite the many times he had visited. Around him swirled daily life in Below, a confusing, busy thing. The main population of the city were the Wind Dwarves, dwarves who had forsaken their native mountains and come to further the pursuits of science, their close-cut hair and shaven faces a blatant contrast to their mountainous cousins.

Nearly as numerous were humans, who came in every size and shape but were mostly relegated to grunt roles in the technological city. A sizable minority were the Underfoot, a race of mischievous beings roughly the same size as human children, who scampered about doing all sorts of odd jobs. Though these three were the clear majority, nearly every other race could be found in Below: elves, attempting to remain aloof and distant in the bustle of the city; the winged Rhokari of the northern forests; horned minotaurs, bull-men from the islands to Below’s south and east; a few of the Njorlghar, rat-like beings who subsisted in filth and squalor. Corentin even thought he caught a glimpse of purple-furred Satyr, deep in conversation with a dwarven overseer. Though all were different, all shared the same style of dress: loose clothes with safety folds in the case of a fall – a very real danger in Below.

Watching all this, Corentin was pleasantly surprised when his feet took him directly to where he wanted to be: the Below headquarters of the Explorer’s Society, a squat building made of a patchwork of stone and wood, bearing the symbol of the society, a boat imposed upon the rising sun.

He entered, and found everything aflutter. The welcome room, though small, was large for the standards of Below. Dozens of people ran about it, giving papers to each other and checking various bags, occasionally scurrying into a back room, and all talking in very loud voices.

Corentin, after blinking slightly in the face of the bustle, grabbed one of the hurrying men by the arm. “Excuse me, do you know where I could find Shorac?” he asked the man, who motioned toward one of the back rooms and sped off. Corentin shoved through the multitude and opened the door gingerly, fearing another scene like the one he had left.

He was greeted, however, by a scene of quiet and calm, a small study warmly lit by a glowing lamp. A desk on the far side of the room was covered in all manner of papers, books, and assorted hodgepodge. At it sat a slight, balding man, who had not noticed Corentin’s entrance. His nose was nearly touching the book he was reading, and the tip of his quill was tracing the lines as he read them, occasionally underlining something of apparent importance.

Corentin watched him work for a bit, smiling slightly. He then grew bored, and contemplated the best way to interrupt the scholar. After thinking a bit, he said “Boo!” in a loud whisper. The man jumped, and looked up. He was obviously annoyed at being interrupted, but the scowl on his face quickly turned to a warm smile.

“Drogo Corentin!” he said, rising from his desk.

“Thale Shorac!” replied Drogo, and the two embraced. “Though,” began the captain after the greeting, “You should know as well as anyone that I despise my given name.”

“Don’t see why, perfectly pleasant name,” replied Shorac, grinning. “Name of a saint, y’know. Saint Drogo. Healed the emperor of a deadly sickness, a few centuries back.”

“You’ve mentioned before,” said Corentin, prodding Shorac in the ribs playfully. “You also mentioned that the emperor died of the same sickness a few months later.”

“A trifle!” exclaimed the scholar, and the two fell about laughing at the same conversation relived for the thousandth time.

“Drogo Corentin, where in the seven hells have you been?” asked Thale after the levity was finished.

“Oh, you know, here and there.”

“Here and there!” said Thale in mock rage. “You bastard, I haven’t seen you in three years!”

“Three?” said Corentin, genuinely surprised. “I was last in Below six months ago, didn’t I visit you then?”

“Six months? Six months? No, last I saw of you, you were headed off to the outer islands in search of the fountain of youth!”

“Ah, that.” Corentin’s face glazed over in a smile of hazy remembrance. “Good times. I guess I could probably be forgiven for forgetting to visit you last time, I was being chased by minotaur assassins. Bit preoccupied, y’know.”

“I shouldn’t ask, should I?”
“Probably not.”

“I guessed. How’d the fountain of youth go, though?”

“Oh, we never found it. Turns out the map was forged. We did find the fountain of death, though. Bit of an awkward conversation with that sailor’s parents when we got back to port…” Corentin’s brow furrowed, and he stared at the wall for a short while. “Anyway,” he began again, “what’s going on with you? Officially registered Scholar of the Explorer’s Society, you must be very proud! Last time I was here, you were an assistant!”

“Yes, I got the promotion last year. Only a conciliatory gesture, I’m afraid. The Below chapter wanted someone with a bit more prestige to do their research, and headquarters agreed. Still, the pay raise is nice.”
“What’s all the ruckus in the other room, anyway?”

“Oh, there’s an expedition starting… well, about two hours ago, by now. The sixteenth expedition to the center of the continent. They’re convinced they’ll find it this time.”

“Will they?”

“All things are possible!”

The two friends chuckled quietly together for several moments more, then silence fell. After several moments, Thale began speaking again, this time in a more serious tone. “Corentin, what exactly is it you want with this visit?” he inquired, attempting to be polite.

“Couldn’t imagine what you mean,” replied Corentin uncomfortably.

“Oh, come on. You only ever show up when my knowledge could be of use to you. Back in Wyrmspire, you and your delinquent followers came by only when you wanted advice on how to beat the neighboring street’s gang!”

“Hey! You were more my friend than any of those sheep!” exclaimed Corentin, offended.

“That may have been, but you only remembered it when you wanted something. Hells, last time you were here it was only to ask my opinion on that map you won!” The two stood in awkward silence for several moments.

Corentin started again, stumblingly. “I may have something I wish to ask your… opinion on.”

“Ah, here we go,” smiled Thale. “What is it? Another map? Perhaps an ancient artifact you ‘acquired’ and wish to have examined?”

“Closer to the latter…” mumbled Corentin as he fished in his pouch. He pulled out several things, some identifiable and some not, before he got to what he was looking for. “Ah!” he exclaimed, and pulled it out.

It appeared to be a shard of pottery. It was small enough to fit comfortably in Corentin’s hand, but large enough so that he could not entirely close his fist around it. Though obviously broken, it was decorated on both sides as well as on the edges. The decorations were dizzying, all manner of colors and designs, swirls and paintings. Dominating them, however, were several large swirls of silver, shining even in the dim light of the study. They danced intricately, confusing the eyes and confounding the mind.

Both men were silent for several seconds, studying it. Thale broke the silence first. “May I hold it?” he asked. Corentin handed the shard to him, and the silence continued. The scholar turned it over and over in his hands, examining every part of it, every bit of paint.

“I’ve no idea what it is,” he finally pronounced, handing it back to Corentin. The captain looked downhearted, but listened as Thale continued. “It’s… an oddity, certainly. The silver shouldn’t shine like that, but it does. And it’s obviously very old, as the other paint is worn and faded, but none of it’s chipped away. The color has faded, but evenly, which is almost unheard of in artifacts of this age.”

“What should I do with it?” asked Corentin, speaking for the first time in several minutes.

“Well, first, you should tell me where you got it.” Though he loved his friend, Thale was no fool, and new that anything Corentin brought him was probably earned illegitimately. The scholar was fully prepared to scold his friend for theft, gambling, or whatever he had done to earn this object.

“Well…” began Corentin, sitting down at his friend’s desk and putting his feet up, “You know who Dracart Kavarus is, right?”

“Of course, most do. Currently the most dangerous member of the Twelve, ambitious as all hell, pledged unswervingly to Anator. Not a nice person.”

“That guy. Well, d’ya know that he has a daughter?” This proclamation from Corentin was greeted with a glare from Thale, who knew where this was going. “Deadly beautiful,” continued the captain, “and just as evil as her father. But naïve. Doesn’t know when someone’s trying to… coerce her.”

Thale glared at Corentin for several seconds more. The captain continued, speaking a bit faster. “Anyway, she and I had an… encounter… and while the guards were chasing me out of the fortress I found myself in a trophy room. Nice place, with a bunch of obviously valuable things.”
“Well, what possessed you to grab this bit of pottery, then? Surely there was more of value there.”

“Oh, sure. But it was big. There was a statue that I could’ve sworn was solid gold, and a battleaxe made of mithril and etched with all kinds of things, but the guards were getting close and they had some unpleasantly pointy objects and orders from her father to kill, so I grabbed this and legged it out the window.” Corentin paused for a moment, contemplating. “Fortunately, the castle was on the coast, and I fell into the Cloudsea, where my crew rescued me. It was a bit high up, I doubt I would’ve made the fall if not for that…” He lapsed into silence, having finished his story.

Thale sat for a moment, obviously decided something, and spoke. “Well, I can help you.”

“You can?” Corentin almost jumped out of his seat.

“Of course,” said the scholar, smiling smugly. “I’ve a fellow scholar, a dwarf, who specializes in this manner of thing. Artifacts, and the like.”

Corentin was sitting on the edge of his seat with excitement. “Thale, I love you! You’ve no idea how curious I am about this thing!”

Thale began to say something, then blinked and switched to another. “Why?”

“Huh?”

“Why are you so curious? I’ve never known you to care about something that isn’t directly on the path to your fortune.”

“That’s just the thing, I’ve no idea! It shouldn’t interest me at all, but it does, and that makes it all the more interesting! It’s driving me crazy! Now, where the hell is this dwarf you’ve spoken of?”

Thale paused for a moment, then continued. “…well, that’s the thing, he’s a bit of a long way off.”

“Where?”

“Sentinel Watch.”

“Where in the name of Zaran is that?”

“It’s a newly constructed outpost. On an island to the west… here, I can give you a map…” Thale began rummaging around in one of his piles. Corentin leaned in to look, and gave up after several minutes of not being able recognize anything that flashed under his friend’s hands.

After a seeming eternity, Thale found what he was looking for. “Aha!” he exclaimed, holding a shabby piece of parchment high. He pressed it into the captain’s hands, pointing toward a recent addition to the map, added in relatively newer ink.

“Sentinel Watch…” read Corentin. “By the gods, that’s further to the west than I’ve ever been! What’s the purpose of an outpost there?”

“You’ll find out. You’ll find the dwarf there, his name is Galeun.”

“I suppose I shall…”

Exchanging several more pleasantries, Corentin departed. The room through which he had entered was just as busy as it had been previously, but he paid it no heed. He knew where he was going next, and that’s all an adventurer needs.

Prologue

Oh god, I’m trying my hand at writing again. What has gotten into me. This is only the prologue, which doesn’t have any of the actual characters in it, ’cause prologues can be crazy like that. I already have the first chapter too, but I need to streamline that a bit more before I post it. It takes place in Alara, because I’m a whore and enjoy literary masturbation. Comments are mandatory. Don’t comment and I will ball you. That’s where I take off your balls. I’ll figure it out for the females among you.

Prologue

Rain. Cold, depressing rain, pouring down through the blackness of night like the anger of the heavens. Thrashing everything it touches, driving even the hardiest to find shelter. All across the Civilized Lands, it rains.

And far offshore, deep in the morass of the Cloudsea, a ship. The storm is worse here; gusts of wind whirl unpredictably, making it practically impossible to sail. The black clouds above descend to the horizon to merge with the equally colorless clouds below; the ship appearing to float on a backdrop of midnight. Solitary and unseen by any observers, the ship is tossed like a toy by the powerful winds, a plaything in the hands of the gods.

On board, figures scurry busily about. They cannot be seen clearly, as in the gloom, they are only silhouettes subject to the occasional flash of lightning. None of the figures is exactly the same, some tall, some uncannily short, and some with horns. All run frantically, shouting commands to each other and desperately attempting to save their ship from the damnation offered by a plunge into the Cloudsea.

In the center of the bustle, somehow commanding all attention without being unique in any way compared to the myriad around them, are three figures. They struggle with a series of ropes, trying to confound the storm.

“By all that is holy, brother, how can you find this relaxing?” shouts the figure on the left, a woman. The center figure, a good two heads higher than his two companions, and obviously the only one truly comfortable with the current predicament, merely goes stoically about his work. “I maintain that we should have met on my terms…” grunts the same figure again.

The figure on the right lets out a short bark of laughter, all the breath he is willing to expend. “Sister, how is a smoke-filled room full of mysteries and secrets any better than a piece of wood teetering on the brink of destruction?” he shouts.

“I can think of a few ways!” replies the woman. The two fall silent for several moments, concentrating on the task at hand. The storm continues unceasingly, and the sailors match its fury blow for blow.

After several minutes of toil, the woman speaks again. “I suppose we should get to business, then,” she shouts over the roar of the storm.

“The sooner we start, the sooner we finish,” replies the man.

“To the point, then: we all know what is coming. The only thing we don’t know is how many of the others know.”

“I think you can be assured our brother will discover soon enough.”

“Of course. All we can do is try to delay that discovery as long as possible.

The center figure, silent and looming, now speaks for the first time. “We can do more than that.” The other two turn to him, questioning glances implied, if not seen in the gloom.

“What have you in mind?

“Yes, what, brother?”

The massive figure straightens, taking pause from his work. “We could swear not to interfere,” he says.

The other two explode immediately. “Preposterous!” shouts one, the woman. “We should have a hand in this, the same as any of the others!”

“Such oaths are not to be taken lightly, brother!” shouts the man.

“It begins on your turf! Would you be a hypocrite?”

“Are we to be helpless in this?”

The center figure raises his hands in a gesture of pacification. “Siblings, hear my reasons! What is to come will come. The presence of our hands will only attract the attention of the others. Far better to leave our influence to be spent towards the end, and allow the beginning to unfold unobstructed!”

The others, now also having ceased in their work, stand in stony silence, contemplating their brother’s words. The figure on the right, the man, is the first to acquiesce. “Brother, you are wise, though how you come by it is a mystery to me. I swear, by my siblings and my children, not to interfere in the events to come.”

The woman folds her arms, glaring bitterly at her two brothers. Finally, she agrees. “As do I,” she says softly. The three stand together a moment longer, silent in their thoughts.

An outside influence breaks the mutual reverie, coming in the form of one of the sailors. “Captain!” shouts the horned figure gruffly, “The storm worsens! What are your orders?”

The figure in the center appears to grin, though his face is invisible in the black rain. “Back to work, my brethren!” he shouts in glee, and takes up a rope.

Alaran History: Elves

Disclaimer: This history may be mostly fabrication up until E.F. 800, as is the human history (a discovery made by Thulin Thunderboot in A.F. 827.) The elves insist it’s true, but we don’t really pay attention to them.

The Elves of Alara have a considerably longer lifespan than the rest of the races – there are rumors of some living to see 1,000, although for most 500 or so is pretty damn venerable. As such, their history is on a rather grander scale than that of the humans. As elves are also very patient and very, very methodical, wars can last for millennia and political grudges for even longer. Thus, I give you: the history of the Elves of the Civilized Lands.

~E.F. ? – The Elves are under the whip of a mysterious race known as the Maraki, who worshiped a dark god by the name of Banaraat. It is unknown for how long the slavery lasted, as almost all records are in the language of the Maraki. The Elven records from this time use an unknown dating system, marked “Fall of Aldar”. What is known is that the Maraki empire spanned an incredibly great area, and the Elves were only one of the many races enslaved by them. The others are named by ancient Elven records, but they were named in Old Elvish, so we’ve no idea what they were.

~E.F. 18,000 – The Maraki Empire falls. Elven records indicate that this is due to an elvish uprising, but it’s more likely that the Empire fell simply due to reasons most empires fall: corruption, decadency, barbarians. Etcetera. The Elves essentially loot the corpses of their former masters, and thus ‘invent’ bronze weapons. Elves were never that good at metalworking in the first place, so they just had to steal shit.

~E.F. 17,300 – The last of the Maraki is hunted down and killed. With this, the Elves turn from a rampaging bunch of angry savages into a proud, empire-building race. The irony of this is lost on them. The Elven Empire begins. The official state religion is the Elven druidism that began during their slavery to the Maraki; though freedom of religion is also embraced. Tevarüs Brighteye, the leader of the expedition that slew the last Maraki, takes the throne.

~E.F. 15,000 – Under the rule of Hadaris Brighteye, direct descendant of Tevarüs, the Elves continue slowly but surely building their empire. In doing so, they come across roaming tribes of humans. They enslave them, ’cause they need more muscle to build the previously mentioned empire. The irony at this point is so thick that they should literally be suffocating in it.

~E.F. 11,500 – The Elven state religion, under Garatæne Brighteye, changes from the old druidic tradition to worship of a god known as Patarien Thurei. This change coencides with a massive push in elven conquest of surrounding territories.

~E.F. 10,500 – The Elven Empire reaches its greatest extent under Thælis Brighteye, covering the entirety of what is currently known as the Civilized Lands.

~E.F. 10,200 – It is discovered by a group of elves known as House Dawnsong that Patarien Thurei is in fact the same god as Banaraat, the dark god of the Maraki that had enslaved them. They use this fact to begin a rebellion among the elves. House Brighteye, currently between emperors after the death in battle of Thælis, does not do much, knowing that fighting the rising populace would lead to their destruction. This leads to some of the populace actually remaining loyal to them, as well as Patarien Thurei.

The Elven Empire splits into the two states of Narandavir and Heletül, Narandavir in the east, the current territory of Wyrmspire and Argan Vas, and worshiping Patarien Thurei, and Heletül in the west, current territory of Elenaiar and Asernaiar. In Heletül, the old druidic tradition is revived, and the human slaves released, as they consider slavery another reminder of the Maraki empire. The human tribes take up the druidic traditions of the elves, as they really have no other religion to mess with. Galegar Brighteye takes the throne of Narandavir, and Faralis Dawnsong takes the throne of Heletül.

~E.F. 9,500 – The freed human slaves unite and attack Narandavir to free their still-enslaved brethren. This does not go well for them, as the elves of Heletül, noting the violent tendencies of the humans, conveniently “forgot” to tell them how to craft bronze. So, they wage a war on Narandavir with stone and hate as weapons.

~E.F. 9,200 – After three hundred years of Narandavir basically slaughtering the humans and the elven senate of Heletül arguing over whether or not to help them, Heletül, under the rule of Gæren Dawnsong, finally steps up and begins to attack Narandavir. This begins a massive bloody war.

~E.F. 8,000 – The human slaves are all essentially freed from Narandavir. The humans, knowing a shitstorm when they see one, decide not to participate in the rest of the war, universally considered “probably a good idea”.

It should be noted, here, that elven warfare is not at all like that of humans. It’s more a constant state of dislike, occasionally interrupted by a battle or a mage going crazy and fireballing everyone. This enables wars to continue for thousands of years, far longer than human wars continue for, even accounting for the difference in lifespan.

~E.F. 6,200 – The Elves of Narandavir take a turn for the evil. The more evil, that is. They begin participating in dread rituals, blood sacrifices, and the like to summon demons and bolster their armies.

~E.F. 6,000 – Femæra Dawnsong, queen of Heletül, forges an alliance with the roaming human tribes, who have by now forgotten why there’s a war on or if they were ever involved. Together, the elves and humans begin the final assault on Narandavir.

The next millennium is spent in an elevated state of warfare. The noted elven warfare style of years previous goes out of style in favor of straight war. Entire cities are built around battlefields, leaving an odd phenomenon of twin cities being discovered thousands of years later, with one decimated due to the victories of one side. Some individual battles, including the final siege of Narandavir, last for centuries.

~E.F. 5,000 – Narandavir is felled. The city is sacked, and the now corrupt demon-elves hunted down and executed to the last.  The constant battle of the last millennium has completely decimated everyone involved.  Heletül is greatly weakened.  Nothing much differs among the human tribes, ’cause they’re just random humans and you can’t really have weakened tribes.  Doesn’t work.  Point is, Narandavir is demolished and Heletül is in a bit of shithole.

~ E.F. 3,500 – The estimated time of Heletül’s falling in two.  Not much is known, as elven records disappear randomly for about a thousand years, and when they come back again Heletül has become the twin city-states of Elenaiar and Asernaiar, Elenaiar under House Dawnsong and Asernaiar under House Galebreak.  At around this time, the focus shifts from the elves to the humans.  The elves don’t really do anything very important ever again.  They are also mostly ignored by Ulëndras and the empire of Drak’an, who seem mostly interested in humans.

~E.F. 1,300 – The Dwarven invention of iron weapons changes elven warfare for the first time in seventeen thousand years.  This vaguely shocks the elves out of complacency, as they’ve realized that, apart from overthrowing Narandavir, they haven’t actually done anything in their entire history.  They’ve added to the knowledge of magic, and have produced several hundred philosophers, but… whatever.  After this point, the elves resolve to take a more major role in the politics of the land, instead of just festering.  Both Elenaiar and Asernaiar decide this independently within several years of each other.

~E.F. 600 – The War of the Twin Spears, the Elves’ unified attempt to free the humans from their draconic overlord, Dräsilith, ends badly for the elves.  The humans, it turns out, are just fine with their overlord.  This is the bloodiest war in the entire history of the elves or humans, as the elves were surprised by the humans ability to war and the humans were surprised that the elves weren’t just forest-pansies like they always believed.

~E.F. 30 – The Elves watch in bemusement as the humans’ dragon-worshiping society completely eats itself over forty years or so.  They also watch in interest as the new gods, the pantheon of Archus, arrives from across the sea.

0 – The Archan Empire is declared.  The elves essentially sit back and think “yeah, that’s gonna work out great”.

A.F. 12-40 – Japhasath, prophet and living voice of Archus, spends thirty-eight years discussing matters of religion with the elves of Asernaiar and Elenaiar.  This is a remarkably short amount of time for an elf, but Japhasath somehow still manages to convert them from their old druidic tradition to the worship of Archus, though they take more to the worship of Omora Agabai and Rudolphus.

A.F. 55 – The Archan Empire falls.  The elves, despite having been converted to Archanites during that time, still giggle to themselves and think “I told you so.”

~A.F. 200 – The Elves maintain a vaguely cordial relationship with the Niaran Empire, by which we mean that they don’t attack them and are in turn not attacked for a few hundred years.

A.F. 598 – Darius the Mad declares war on the elves, marking the first opportunity for true elven warfare in over a thousand years.  They go mad.  Of course, this all ends when Benedict I takes the throne and reaches out to them, but they have fun in the meantime.

A.F. 652 – The Elves of Elenaiar and Asernaiar enter into the treaty of the Alliance, as dictated by Benedict I, the Wise.  Though there are still some disagreements among the allied races, as Elenaiar doesn’t really like Asernaiar, it’s reciprocated, the dwarves are annoying, and this is the first anyone except the humans has heard of the minotaurs, the Alliance generally works.

A.F. 788 – With the death of Kæran Galebreak, and through some odd incidences of intermarriage, Ambrellis Dawnsong takes the throne of Asernaiar, marking this the first time in over four thousand years that House Dawnsong has had sole control over the elves – though this does not mean that the elves are united.

A.F. 810 – The Amen-Kathar invade Asernaiar, sacking the city and leading to the exile of the elves from their homeland.  Some go to Elenaiar, some to Wyrmspire, and some to Below, but a lot remain in the general area and become the Phoenix Guard, a group of militant elves under the leadership of Ambrellis Dawnsong who will, if given the chance, return to the ancient ways of the Elven Empire.  This is generally considered a bad thing, as is a bunch of squid-things having control over a once-great city of the elves.

A.F. 823 – Present day.  Queen Ellesmera Dawnsong, a half-elf related to the house of Dargonne, presides over Elenaiar.  Asernaiar is still in shit.  Ambrellis Dawnsong is waging constant war on the Amen-Kathar, and random dwarves have begun digging up ancient elf ruins, attempting to fill in the blank areas of elven history.

Alaran Bestiary: Dragons

Dragons. Though massive, absolutely massive, and obviously reptilian in biology, they posses a similarity of movement to cats, and an intelligence far beyond that of the most ancient elf wizard. Though obviously intelligent, they are still relegated to the position of “beast” in the thinking of most prominent Alaran biologists, as thinking of them as more than creatures would both creep many the hell out and put in a rather nasty perspective the many, many dragon-purges that have occurred in the past – genocide is such an ugly word. Thus, their inclusion in the newly-formed Bestiary section, not in the Races section of years past.

Dragons have existed on Alara for gods know how long. Which is accurate – the gods probably do know, but they aren’t telling anybody. Their origins are contested: prominent religious fanatics believe they were created during the war between the Elder Gods and the Young Pantheon, though which side created them depends on the particular bias of the theorizer. Some mighty wizard-scholars argue that they were a side-effect of the genesis of the world, magic energies gone crazy and creating some equally crazy shit. The dragons themselves believe themselves to be created by their god, a divine being whom they do not name, as they consider it profanity for any to speak or even think the name.

What is known is that whatever their birth, dragons exist, and have had a profound effect on history in their time. The history of the human race is melded with that of the dragons, as they were ruled by them for several millennia. Even now, almost a thousand years after dragons were usurped as the rulers of the land, dragons commonly influence the goings-on of politics, war, and generally everything. Dragons are powerful, intelligent, and ambitious – generally, as dangerous as a creature can get.

Dragons come in two main varieties: the Greater or Noble dragons, and the Lesser, Common, or Degenerate dragons (though only called degenerate by people who don’t particularly like them, i.e., greater dragons). Lesser Dragons are not going to be covered in depth in this article. It’s generally thought that Lesser Dragons are all creations of bizarre experiments or epic spells, and that the Greater Dragons are the pure form that was originally created. It’s probably the Greater Dragons that created most of the Lesser – attempts to create more easily controlled underlings, for example. Due to this genesis, the Lesser Dragons are incredibly varied in form (anything from humanoid dragons to cat-sized dragons to dragons with two heads), though all draconic, while the Greater Dragons are more consistent.

Greater Dragons all share various physical features. They are four-legged, bear the aforementioned resemblance to cats, and winged. Most of them have some kind of horns, and they can all breath fire, though the variety and heat of said flame differs depending on species. All have some proficiency in magic, though some choose not to pursue this path. Greater Dragons all live upward of 3,000 years, though only Sand Dragons have been known to reach 4,000.

And, strangest of all, all Greater Dragons, after reaching a certain age (it’s thought puberty is the boundary) can shift into a humanoid form to go without notice among their enemies/minions/dubious allies/whoever they feel like going without notice among. This mortal form varies; some dragons shift into elves, others into humans. Very rarely some shift into dwarves or underfoot, but almost never any other race. Though the Greater Dragons can shift into humanoids, they cannot change the physical features of their humanoid form, and always appear in the same clothes. It is generally thought, by dragon-scholars, that a dragon’s humanoid form is determined by some element of its personality, and cannot actually be changed at will by the dragon. Dragons have been known to change their human forms, but it is almost always after some traumatic event or epiphany that significantly changed the dragon’s personality.

There are many species of Greater Dragon, and though they all share the physical aspects mentioned earlier, they are incredibly varied in other ways. A distinguishing feature of dragons is that their species can often be identified entirely by their name, as each type has its own naming conventions.

Mountain Dragon

The Mountain Dragons are the most prolific of the Greater Dragons. They live (duh) in the mountains, most often in caves and other lairs, but often in massive citadels or towers if they are particularly military-minded. Mountain Dragons have scales of a stormy and cynical blue, occasionally turning gray with age, and backwards-sweeping horns. They’re what most people think of when they hear the term “dragon”, as they’re average in most ways. Not too large, wings are average size, flame is normal, etcetera.

In terms of personality, Mountain Dragons are to other dragons what humans are to other humanoids. They’re equally likely to be malevolent bastards or relatively nice. Of course, they’re dragons, so they don’t go around handing out love and kisses, but they’re the species of dragon most likely to enter into alliances with humans, or, in rare cases, act as a mount, though this usually involves either a threat to the entire world or copious amounts of gold going into the Mountain Dragon’s coffers. Mountain Dragons, when shifted into humanoid form, can take any of many forms, but often appear rough and rugged, dressed as a typical adventurer.

Mountain Dragon names are usually long, and involve double letters. Examples of this would be Alagaaz and Aagnar, both Dragonkings of old.

Flame Dragon

Flame Dragons are not “usually” found anywhere, they are essentially wanderers, though they can often be found near human settlements, dwelling in deep caverns. Their scales are a bright, flamelike red, though before puberty they often tend more toward orange. Flame Dragons posses only a single horn, sprouting upwards from their nose. It would be called rhino-like, if anyone in the Civilized Lands had ever heard of rhinos. Flame Dragons are of average dragon size. A Flame Dragon has the longest and most powerful of all dragon flames: it is incredibly hot and it more like a concentrated blast of energy than a stream of flame. Merely the force of a Flame Dragon flame can topple a tower or destroy a building. And then it catches fire.

Flame Dragons are, in general, complete psychopaths. There are some exceptions, but for the majority, their goals tend toward wealth acquisition at any cost, or just rampaging based on the age-old philosophy of “screw you”. Flame Dragons are most often loners, as their insanity is not often tolerated by others, even of their own species. If one finds a Flame Dragon, even a newborn, it is probably prudent to simply slay it on sight, if possible. Though the wyrmlings are cute… it’s said that they can be raised to be innocent, but it’s challenging. Flame Dragon’s humanoid forms often have spiky red hair and glowing eyes, and often wear leather, though flame dragons are in general reluctant to shift to human form.

Flame Dragon names are short, harsh, and to the point. They also often include apostrophes, which both serve the triple purposes of heavily emphasizing the preceding syllable, performing a glottal stop, and looking really cool. Example Flame Dragon names include A’ka and Ka’ath, both Dragonkings. The reason I use Dragonking names as examples is because I am a lazy bastard, and I already had most of them written down. Fear my indolence.

Sea Dragon

On Alara, a Sea Dragon is a bit of a misnomer. They should more accurately be called water dragons, or lake dragons. Some have recently recognized this and begun calling them Storm Dragons, which is also a bit of a misnomer, as they really don’t have much to do with storms either. Sea Dragons live in large bodies of water, such as Crown Lake. They have shining blue scales, occasionally stained green in places. They have no horns, and are slightly smaller than average for dragons. Their wings are developed more to be used as flippers, and thus are smaller in size than the wings of other dragons, making them clumsy and ungainly in the air. A Sea Dragon’s flame is more like a high-pressure jet of boiling water. Sea Dragons have not been observed to flame above water, and have a maximum lifespan of about 2,500 years, shorter than those of other dragons.

Sea Dragons are the most bestial of the Greater Dragons, and there is a movement among certain high-minded Mountain Dragons to have them reclassified as Lesser Dragons. They do, however, share all physical aspects with Greater Dragons, even if they do seem to prefer hunting and survival to more common dragonly pursuits, such as wealth, maidens, or kingdoms. Sea Dragon’s humanoid forms often have long hair and wear ethereal, loose clothing, with sea-green eyes.

Sea Dragon names seem to include many u’s and the occasional th or dh. Examples include Uruth and Dhuir. There were never any Sea Dragon Dragonkings, as a Sea Dragon has never been that ambitious.

Swamp Dragon

Swamp Dragons live in swamps. They have pitch-black scales. They are smaller than average for dragons, as swamps are usually hard for great bloated lizards to navigate. The occasional exception is found in a Swamp Dragon so large that the swamp can actually grow on its back, but there doesn’t seem to be any in-between. Swamp Dragons have forward-sweeping horns. Their bodies are craggy, rough, and well-suited to life in a swamp. A Swamp Dragon’s flame is less powerful than that of other dragons, it is colder and oozes more than jetting. However, it also produces toxic smoke, which is more than likely to kill the target and everybody around him before they die from the heat.

Swamp Dragons are undoubtedly the nastiest of the dragons. They posses an insanity much akin to that of the Flame Dragons, but much more focused. Swamp Dragons gather minions, form alliances, build fortresses, amass wealth. All for the purposes of destruction. Swamp Dragons revel in destruction and decay, to make everything like their native swamps. A Swamp Dragon will decimate an entire city just to watch its ruins slowly fall apart and fill with plant like over the years. Swamp Dragon’s humanoid forms are always deadly attractive, and they always dress in black cloth.

Swamp Dragon names are cynical and short, often with harsh consonants. Examples include Kharr and Akun, the former a Dragonking.

Forest Dragon

Forest Dragons live in forests, and their scales are shiny-green. They are the smallest of the dragons, as they are often surrounded by trees that need to be navigated. They have horns bloody everywhere. Their shoulders have spikes, their heads are lined with spikes, and they have tail-spikes. They look like something akin to dragon-porcupines. Forest Dragons are the only Greater Dragons that do not posses a flame, a development designed to prevent them destroying their own homes.

Forest Dragons are pretty much bipolar by definition. They’re content to spend hours simply walking among the trees of their territory, enjoying life to the fullest, listening to the sound of brooks, smelling the flowers, watching birds. And then, suddenly, they’re aching for a fight. If nothing presents itself – a large bear will do, even – they rip up a few trees to cool off. If something does present itself, it’s screwed. Unless it’s another Forest Dragon, in which case they feed off each other’s energy and the fight escalates until they’re both left exhausted and bloodied. Forest Dragons are extremely pleasant to talk to in the first mood, and extremely unpleasant to be within a mile radius of in the second. Forest Dragon’s humanoid forms are often elven, wearing leather and an unsettlingly pleasant smile.

Forest Dragon names often include nasal sounds, such as n, m, and ng. Examples include Ungelnar and Kungeg, both Dragonkings.

Sand Dragon

Sand Dragons are larger than normal for dragons. They are not found commonly within the Civilized Lands (no deserts) but mostly in the great desert to the north. Sand Dragons have shiny, copper scales, and spend most of their time prone in the sand, contemplating. Sand Dragons have a pair of backwards-sweeping horns, much like mountain dragons. Sand Dragon flames are excessively dry and hot, though less powerful than that of the Flame Dragon.

Sand Dragons are highly contemplative philosophers. The desert lends itself to this kind of thought, so Sand Dragons will spend years appearing to be asleep – but thinking. Some of the greatest problems in the world have already been solved by Sand Dragons. Sand Dragons are a great resource, if you can find one and convince it to share its knowledge. A Sand Dragon often has a great store of riches, and will gift it to anyone who can give it a puzzle it can’t solve. Of course, giving it a puzzle it can solve often means being eaten for the interruption to whatever metaphysical thing it was currently thinking of. And it can solve most puzzles. Sand Dragon’s humanoid forms are often ancient, white-haired men or elves.

Sand Dragon names often include many s’s, and are superfluously long. Examples include Salsalarith and Rashagnasa. There have never been any Sand Dragon Dragonkings, they really don’t truck with politics.

Cloud Dragons

The denizens of the Cloudsea, Cloud Dragons are absolutely massive. They are nearly twice the size of an average Mountain Dragon – the more room to spread out in, the bigger one grows, I guess. They have no horns, and their wings are around 1.5 times the size, proportionally, in comparison to other dragons. These extra-large wings allow it to float for hours on end. A Cloud Dragon can actually sleep on the wing, if it finds a good thermal. Cloud Dragons roost on small islands in the Cloudsea, but spend most of their time in flight. Their scales are pure white, and their eyes are blue, a remarkable thing among the dragons, who mostly have green eyes. Cloud Dragon’s flames are average.

Cloud Dragons are undoubtedly the most whimsical of the dragons. They simply spend all their time flying about, enjoying life and the breeze. This does not mean a sailor has nothing to fear from a Cloud Dragon, as the dragon may decide that the ship looks like a wonderful new toy and begin to flip it about. But it’s all done with innocent intent. If one converses with a Cloud Dragon, one will find it aloof, constantly thinking about something else. Cloud Dragons are very willing to help anyone who asks, though they may forget the task halfway through. Cloud Dragon’s humanoid forms are often children or Underfoot, with a glint of massive wisdom in their eyes.

Cloud Dragon names often include a large assortment of vowels, with very few harsh consonants. Examples include Kaeala and Aegealai. A Cloud Dragon has never been a Dragonking.

Royal Dragons

Royal Dragons are now extinct, but at one point were the greatest of all dragons. Evidence suggests that they were larger than even the Cloud Dragons, with hotter flames than those of the Flame Dragons. Their horns were different for each one, but always formed what appeared to be a crown, or perhaps a halo, and were always perfectly symmetrical. It is unknown what color the Royal Dragons were, as the statues have long since lost their paint. Suggestions include shining gold, pure white, or even a bizarre mixture of colors, a tapestry of sorts.

Royal Dragons were notoriously high-minded, given to empire-building, philosophy, and generally just being obnoxiously good at whatever they tried. Interestingly enough, there are suggestions in certain ancient scrolls that Royal Dragons did not posses the dragon ability to transform into a human form, though no one knows why this would be.

Royal Dragon names are long, and include umlauts that both emphasize the vowel in question and change its pronunciation. Examples include Ulëndras (oo-LEEN-drahs) and Dräsilith (DRAY-sil-ith). Both of the above were rulers of the ancient empire of Drak’an.

(Note: Due to an ancient scripture discovered by Thulin Thunderboot, the entirety of human history has been thrown into question, and the existance of the Royal Dragon is no longer exactly a sure thing.  In fact, a lot of prominent scholars think it’s bullshit.  Terribly sorry.)