Dangerous Dreams:
By Tyler Starke

A coat of mist filled the icy halls in the cavern. The walls were made of sheer ice with gems and gold glittering from within. A laugh echoed through the cavern as Mikael cam to his feet.

“You have done well,” Wa'an Apla Teski said to Mikael. Her voice was a hypnotic version of madness. Whenever the dragon spoke at least two of her heads would speak at the same time. Each head had it's own tone and rhythm making it impossible not to hear the same last few words repeated. “The wizards will be looking for you now, and that is where I want them. Travel north. Deep within the hills there is a race of stout dwarves who have no care for the wizards of Zala u'haff, and their strength is needed for your next task. I have but one I have touched ...”

--

Mikael awoke abruptly in the middle of the night. A bead of sweat dripped from his forehead and his wool cushion smelled of the burnt wood of houses. The raid on Groga was successful enough, but the advancing fighters forced him to flee into the wilderness. Rethinking the events made him laugh inside as a smile pinned his cheeks up.

He pondered a bit about the following he had left behind and then quickly gathered his belongings. The crystal phylactery which held his dragon goddess's life force was wrapped into a thick piece of wool and then bound into a leather square with cords of leather. A small piece of the crystal was now missing from the phylactery. He had chipped this piece off hoping the wizards would find it and bring it back to their simple tower. Stuffing the crystal in to his back with his lump of rations and a few small potions, he finished packing his back pack and grabbed his compound bow. The string to his bow had remained on that night, despite the dew, but he had an extra in a small oily leather sack strapped to his belt. After taking one more look back to Groga and all that he had lost he cleared his camp of any signs that he was there and began north.

--

“I don't like this,” Jonethan said to Kendrick, and instructor at the tower. “It just doesn't make sense that the villagers would want money bad enough to attack Groga. I think she is back,” he said referring to the dragon they had fought 30 years ago. “Perhaps someone has found the phylactery, or worse.”

“The phylactery was designed to house her sole, Jonethan. The dragon already broke through many barriers before she was prisoned and it is possible she broke though this one.” Kendrick wanted to remain on the line of thought that the worse possible outcome had already occurred and they should prepare for that. He held in reserver his great fear the dragon would achieve what it was she desired, to cow and enslave the realm of man.

“Regan has recovered a shard of a crystal that was in the White Dragon Clan house the night of the attack. I'll have him send it here and Carleton in the lab can take a look at it with me. I have also sent word to Das'epoch. King Garret will be sending reinforcements and they should arrive soon. “

Kendrick seemed quite content with the news that Jonethan was taking action, but Jonethan knew better than that. Jonethan turned his attention to his tea cup and stared into it feeling all together helpless. His old age was setting in and he was not sure how great the threat of the dragon returning was now that she had broken her bonds.

--

The wrenching sound of the ropes under his weight seemed dangerously loud to Na'lentu this time. Normally the wood elves sue these lifts to hall in the recent kill, but now he lie still on the platform holding tight to a laceration on his chest. “At least they are still used for survival,” he thought to himself trying to keep to the images of the beast that had attacked his hunting party. He thanked the lifer giver he was still alive as the images of the attack crept back into the forefront of his mind. Still now three more lie wounded below while two others had died from their wounds.

El'tius approached Dor'lu as he pulled the rope hauling Na'lentu up. El'tius wore hide armor that had been dyed dark green and brown. The armor had been designed by the wood elves to allow an elven warrior to camouflage himself to look like his surroundings. The armor contained small slits and pockets that held blades of grass and tree branches.

“Why are you dressed like that?”, Dor'lu barked at El'tius. “We are not preparing for war now, this was just a wild animal attack.” El'tius could hardly contain the rage he felt as he looked at the dead and dying.

“It is not a natural beast. She has come from the north and look now, there is fire and smoke coming from the human civilizations. If we don't defend ourselves against this natural monster ..”

“Just a minute,” elder Ora'liatus interrupted El'tius. He stood a half a head taller then El'tius and look as gnarled as the trees that surrounded him. In his right hand he held a staff made from a sapling branch that had been forced into it's shape using elven magic. At the top of the staff branches had been been forced to hold a gleaming white crystal, and a small sprig of new growth displayed leaves. As Ora'liatus tried to console El'tius one of the leaves fell to the ground unnoticed. “The beast is wild. We are not to tame the nature we live in, but we are to live within the nature.”

“There is something more at work here, Elder Ora'liatus,” Eltius said turning abruptly. He looked into the eyes of the elder with tight lips and a dew drop of a tear forming. “Something else is at work changing nature's course.”

“It is nature's way,” Elder Ora'liatus said firmly. Eltius responded to this by walking away. He spoke quietly to a member of his own hunting party who then turned and left quickly. Eltius looked back briefly before following. “I fear he is not too far off in his assumption,” the elder said dismally as Na'lentu finally had his way to the top of the trees.

--

Another Knowledge Arcana preview. Issue 14 is set to be released Dec. 22nd.