Monday, March 17, 2014

Of Dragons, Elves, and Freedom

    This struck me as I sat pondering things and watching Top Gear. Not sure if I'd use it for a novel, short stories, or an RPG campaign. But it's out of my head, on paper, and ready to be revisited in the future.

Of Dragons, Elves, and Freedom

    It began with the elves and the dragons. Two races of immortals fighting for dominance in a world populated by mortals and the short-lived. A millennium of stalemate that saw minor changes of territory at the expense of the short-lived. No winners, only those who suffered and died. By chance and fate, a boy escaped elven servitude and returned with a story. The elves kept a great weapon, one of terrible power that they dared not use against the dragons. It would, he said, surely destroy their ancient foes but only at the cost of their immortality. Mutual annihilation, an unthinkable option for a race that had existed since the first days of the world.

    But the short-lived acted. A great army formed and marched upon the Elven kingdom, intent on bringing down their oppressors and freeing themselves from the yolk of tyranny. This so amused the dragons, that they helped a small group to infiltrate the great sky-city where the weapon lay dormant. Beyond all expectations, this small group succeeded, as the elves distracted themselves by annihilating the approaching army. Even the dragons, no longer thinking it a grand jest, warned the elves. Too little, too late.

    The last of the intruders gave her life to activate the great weapon, devastating the seat of the all draconic power and sole nursery of the race. Less than a handful of eggs survived the strike, while the great dragon stone cracked and shattered. In an instant, the dragons fell from the sky, unable to resist the sudden absence of power that they held their life-force. Those that remained, the youngest, fled to the wastelands, no longer protected against the arrows and swords of the short-lived.

    For the elves, their demise came slower, making the death of the dragons a mercy. Time took its revenge, aging the former immortals. Each day, they aged a year. In a rage, they attacked the short-lived only to find they too were susceptible to the sword and the axe and the arrow. Elven magic failed, drawn into the great weapon for fuel. The elves withdrew to their sky-cities to preserve their race and find a way to halt the march of time. In a year, they watched half the population die to the short-lived, accident, or suicide. At the end of the second year, less that a quarter of those remained, fleeing the failing cities and disappearing into the wild. None were seen again.

    The short-lived races returned to their lands and sought to rebuild. Peace lasted for a time, until memory faded and old grudges resurfaced. Common ties frayed and armies once again marched. War and expansion became the norm. A few tried to keep the peace, only to fall to the sword or ignored. The brave and curious sought out the lost dragon lair and the fallen cities of the elves. Few returned with tales of danger and terrors that guarded treasure and lore beyond imagination. Magic returned to the short-lived races, a fraction of power wielded by dragons or elves, but a power to be reckoned with.

    Rumors persist of elves and dragons in the deep and dark places of the world. But those are tales of fools and bards. Thus you know the tales of the elves dragons, as it was told to me by my grandsire, from his grandsire, from his grandsire. Someday, you'll tell it to your grandchild, young one. Now go and remember.

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