How to Betray Your Dragon
Into the tense month that followed the assault upon the Peak by the second group of Mature Dragons, a small and barely noticed descent occurred into the Tolborolla Valley. Three more Mature Dragons, who had previously approached – and fled from – the city of Magnagora landed within the quiet environs. To their alarm, they were discovered by several people from the very city they had been horrified by, led by the Warlady herself, Kailanna n’Kylbar.
It was not an easy feat for the group to calm the Dragons down, and convince them that they meant no harm. They were aided by Orventa Trueflight of Hallifax, who helped to assure them that the Magangorans could be trusted. This would later prove to be incorrect, but for this moment at least, the Dragons were appeased.
There was, they explained, not long left. Soon they would have to attempt Yugomaru, or be consumed by the hunger that had ravaged all of them since their Quickening. They warned that there were two other groups also suffering in this way, and that they would soon approach – those who had been trapped in the Dreaming, and those who had hurled meteors upon Hallifax and Gaudiguch.
Cunningly, the mortals present saw an opportunity. They pledged to help this group of more cautious Mature Dragons in return for information on those groups. Their aim would be to take out the other two groups, allowing the cautious group to seek Yugomaru safely and carefully.
It was during this conversation that the second group made themselves known. With an almighty crash, two Mature Dragons – in their true forms – crashed down upon the Ackleberry Highway and Alabaster Road. Their bodies were quickly found by Xenthos and Gurashi An’Ryshe, along with Esei Shee-Slaugh, with members of Gaudiguch and more quickly following to investigate.
They began to consider ways to deal with the Dragons, who were sleeping – their bodies stuck half in physical form and half in dreambody. It was Geran Ebonrose who first had the idea to utilise the High Magic ritual of Kether. He took to a separate portion of the road and attempted a quick ritual to use it upon the Dragon, but found that he alone was not sufficient, though there was some connection.
As he returned, unsuccessful, Xenthos went to seek the wisdom of Brennan Stormcrow and Queen Maeve of the Fae – accompanied for the latter by Tyrus and Qin of Serenwilde. Together, they and others began to realise that the ritual of Kether and Violet was a way to cast the Mature Dragons back into the Deep Dreaming, ensuring that they were unable to attempt Yugomaru.
Those present began to feel galvanised by this plan. After days of confusion, they finally had something to work towards. But a spanner had arrived in the works of their progress: for just as they were starting to think about their ritual, the final two Mature Dragons had turned up. They were working to try and wake their kin, claiming they wished to all go towards Yugomaru together. To the displeasure of many around them, Mboagn Lunarose was also making a concerted effort to wake the Mature Dragons.
Stubbornly, the others tried to begin their ritual anyway – only to find that they were summarily slaughtered by the maddened Dragons, who unsurprisingly disapproved of people trying to interfere with their kin. This perturbed the ritualists, but did not deter them, as they came back instantly and with determination.
But Kailanna had seen that they would not be able to complete the ritual with the two chaotic Dragons present there. So, with seeming reticence, she admitted that she knew the location of the three other Mature Dragons, and would be willing to lead the two Dragons to them.
Some became quickly concerned that Kailanna was now playing into the Dragons’ hands – but, cunningly, she had no intention of leading them to the Tolborolla Valley. She led them instead on a merry chase throughout the Basin, eventually making her way down towards the Undervault, assisted by Ruiku i’Viani in her deception.
In the meantime, the ritualists succeeded – led by Geran – in timing their ritual to the moment that the sleeping dragon was in dreambody form. This ensured that it was cast into the Dreaming, not made fully manifest in the waking world. They moved onto the second dragon, but found it far more awake than the other. Uzriel d’Vanecu began quickly working to weave the Dragon back to dreams, but unlike with the first, he alone was not sufficient, nor was the music of Gurashi.
Whilst the ritualist turned to singing lullabies to lull the second Dragon to slumber, the maddened ones in the Undervault had lost their patience – and their belief in Kailanna’s deception. Slaying her, they tore their way through a portal and vanished. The ritualists braced themselves, continuing their work even as they feared that the assault was now surely coming for them.
To their great fortune, there was no assault. With effort, they lulled the dragon back to sleep and cast it, too, into the Deep Dreaming. Exhausted, they began to discuss amongst thesmelves what would be done next, both with the cautious group of Mature Dragons and the mad ones still at large.
Returning to the cautious group, Ruiku and Uzriel found that they were beginning to suffer from holding Yugomaru at bay. They insisted that it had to be now, no matter what the two Magnagorans said. Taking a page out of Kailanna’s book, Ruiku offered to lead them to Avechna’s Peak. He intended at first to take them elsewhere – but as soon as he led them towards the gates of Magnagora, the three of them panicked, recognising at once the city they had fled from.
No longer believing him, they began to panic and call him a betrayer. He came to a halt in the Prime Fulcrux, and – to Uzriel’s horror – explained that Avechna’s Peak was to the north. The three of them left, walking onto the Peak without their escorts.
As others began to curse Magnagora for assisting the Mature Dragons, the three flew up to prepare for their Yugomaru. But no sooner had they taken to the air than, tearing through a rift, the two maddened Dragons came. Battle ensued: those watching from outside the Cave of Time fearing at points that they were sure to die.
In a horrifying and unintentional betrayal, one of the cautious Dragons panicked and unleashed a breath made half of flame and half of the temporal energy that had unnaturally Quickened them. It obliterated one of his companions, leaving him roaring in dismay at what he had done.
But, buoyed by the time they had been given to reflect and prepare, the Mature Dragons steeled themselves. “We will not fail now,” they cried. “We are hers, and she is the courage of Dracnoris.”
Together, the two once-cautious Dragons took out their enemies, obliterating one and casting the other back through the very rift they had arrived in. Then, turning to the gathered mortals below, they explained that they intended to seek Yugomaru peacefully, as they had pledged some days ago.
At the adventerers’ concern, the Avenger Himself appeared behind the Dragons, gazing down upon both they and mortalkind in equal measure. Mortalkind had done enough, He explained. Whilst the merging of these two Dragons with the Seal of Time would render it more unstable, it would not be enough for the cracks to extend to the Nine. The Realms of the Domotheos would remain strong.
Though distracted by petty squabbles, the mortals below did eventually step aside, allowing the Mature Dragons to achieve whatever broken form of Yugomaru they were able with the Seal. Though the mountain shook, there was no further damage.
Now, Avechna proclaimed, mortalkind must prepare themselves for the coming Ascension: to repair the Seal of Time, and the weakness it had passed to the Nine Seals upon the Almighty’s prison.