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The great wyrm's eyes closed as it glided high above Toril in the hot evening sun. Had its eye's been open it may have noticed the eagle that communicated the dragon's presence to its human counterpart entering the forest below. Darelius Goldensil's stiff muscles relaxed into the hot moist air that buffetted his body as he glided beaneath the clouds coming off the Thunder Peaks. The first flight after a dragon sleep was always one of life's more simple pleasure's, especially after a meal in the Hullack Forest. He was amazed how much a catoblepas tasted just like griffon when you are hungry.
The cloud flashed lightning. Darelius opened his eyes slowly and began a slow dive away from the increasingly volatile clouds.
"By the Blood of Asgorath," he thought with a giant dragon smile, "and a shower too! It is a shame that I probably shall not enjoy waking from another dragon sleep."
Deep in his heart he sensed his twilight. That time when a dragon's great accumulation of years would crash within him. A Conscious taking from a dragon of all the experiences of long life. His mind enfeebled by the twilight, his death would soon follow. It had been long since his eleventh shedding.
He was proud that he had survived this long. He had chosen exile from the island of his birth rather than combat. It was his quest to see his life complete. His longevity and his horde were all he had for his honor. He pondered what would become of his centuries of learned wisdom.
When the next burst of lightning flashed, Darelius's shoulder felt a sharp pain. Looking at the wound while he lost altitude, he saw a small spear the shape of a bolt of lightning buried deep into the muscle. He reached back with his front claw in an attempt to pull out the impaled bolt. He pinned the bolt between his long nails. When he pulled the bolt it exploded. His roar was louder than the thunder and shook rain from the clouds. Darelius struggled to slow the inevitable approach of the forest below him by spiraling. His lack of control forced him to crash amidst the trees.
The eagle landed upon the ranger's shoulder. The ranger, dazzled by the sight of the crashing dragon, moved not at all until the eagle nipped at the point of his ear. The ranger acknowledged the eagle by heading quickly in the direction of, what he hoped to be, the beast's carnage.
Coreolyn Elginor moved with ease until he picked up a trail that did not need a ranger's skill to follow. Great trees pushed over, like lances leaning against a wall, pointed the way. Coreolyn's pace slowed as he came closer. He came to a spot where every tree in sight lay upon its side. Roots, both great and small, lay exposed to the night. Though Coreolyn's forest lay a thousand miles to the west, his love for the rhythms of nature stirred anger for this damage.
Even the sound and smell of the rain changed as he neared the monstrous wreckage. The soft hush of the forest's thirst was replaced by the sound of the rain bouncing off the nearby dragon's hide. The smell of the moist forest bed was sublimated by an odor of which Coreolyn was unfamiliar.
A movement on the ground in front of him made him scurry for cover. He moved the scabbard of his two-handed sword to the ready. A serpent like beast undulated by the upturned roots of a great tree. He thought that the creature lay pinned by the tree above it. He drew his sword to the ready in the dim light of the stormy evening forest. Its blade failed to glow in its customary white glow. A glow that too often had warned Coreolyn of danger even before he was aware of its presence.
He realized that the roots were not roots at all but the huge hind claw of the dragon. The giant snake was but the tip of the dragon's tail. The claw that pinned the tail was more than twice the height of Coreolyn himself. A single talon, nearly half his height, was wider than his broad chest. A wave of fear rushed through him and he felt disoriented.
"You are the foulest elf I have ever smelt." Darelius's deep voice shook into the surrounding forest. "Approach before I rise and step on ye."
The eagle flew off his shoulder and Coreolyn's heart raced. He knew precious little about dragons except from legend and lore. A child's rhyme echoed through his head.
With wyrms of metal,
the good may bargain and settle.
The wyrms of the gem,
be polite and your life might not end.
But if a wyrm of the colors
pray to be remembered by others.
Coreolyn could not make out the dragon's type. The twilight gave no clues to the dragon's hue.
"Approach elfish stench. "The pain in the god-like voice betrayed both his physical pain and hinted of a pain deeply emotional. "Approach, or face the powers of my self-defense. You only need to fear for your life if your foolishness is more foul than your odor."
Coreolyn gathered his courage. "I shall not die a mouse," he thought. His plain looking sword seemed to grow smaller with each step of the long walk to the dragon's head. He replaced the sword back into its scabbard upon his back and continued the long march. Even as he walked beside the immensity of the beast, the twilight failed to reveal any clues to the wyrms nature. The deep gashes and the twisted wing revealed the dragon's condition.
Coreolyn lost his thoughts about his life, and felt them replaced by awe for this magnificent creature. When he stood across from the eye he could see his entire body reflected life-sized in the depth of the eye's pupil. Even the dim twilight reflected back the brilliant golden-silver outline of his iris. When the dragon inhaled deeply to gather its dragon's breath, Coreolyn felt helpless to move. In moments he found himself trapped in mists of the dragon's breath. Peering through the mist, he again saw the wyrm's eye. This time he felt as if he fell into it.
He seemed to float within the darkness of the eye as he drifted toward a light. He came to understand, to his horror, that he was inside the great wyrm's eye. He found himself beating his fists upon the inner cornea as if it were a window. Outside, the dragon held Coreolyn's body in its claws and brought him close to his mouth. The dragon inhaled deeply and Coreolyn watched on helplessly as his hat flew off his head and up a cavernous nostril. Even his sword, yet still without a glow, flew from its scabbard to imbed itself in the outer ring of his nose.
Darelius stopped sniffing the witless elf. He placed the body back on the ground as if it was a porcelain figure, and flicked the sword from his nose as one might shoo a pest. The dragon knew it had been long since he studied man or elf. Not since the elves began to debate abandonning Faerun and to return to Evermeet had he felt obliged to care. This creature, that smelled like both a man and elf, aroused his curiosity. With a grunt of pain and a sigh he closed his eye's and returned Coreolyn's mind to his body.
Coreolyn noticed that the rain had ceased to fall and that night had fallen complete. Coreolyn then dared to speak before he lost the opportunity, "Oh great dragon lord, for surely a lord you must be.."
Darelius winced from the reference to his clan and from the pains in his body, "Be at peace creature. I confess I know not what you are. This is why I grant you your wits when I ask of your own freewill to share the healing you carry in your bag. I give my honor to you that no harm shall befall you whatever your decision."
Coreolyn felt intrigued by the great wyrm's request. He thought that the dragon might be vulnerable this night to the many creatures that already gathered in the darkness. Creatures that were eager to take their payment from the wounded destroyer of the woods. Worst of all, he would be exposed to men eager to gain fame and riches as the killer of the Electrum Dragon of Thunder Peaks. Morchaint Meneldil was the name more than a few sages had given the wyrm over the years.
Coreolyn shook his head as if to clear it. He did not know that he stood before an electrum dragon, nor had he ever heard the title of Morchaint Meneldil. It was then he realized that the dragon was speaking with him - in his mind.
"What manner be your magic?" Coreolyn spoke aloud, "I have never seen nor heard of the art being used as you display it. With what art did you speak into my mind, and imprison me to travel the depths of your eye. Is the honor that I now feel before you of my own true feelings, or an enchantment? For by your word, you have returned my wits."
"What you feel is my art and more!" Darelius bellowed with impatience, "How manlike to ask more questions than to have the patience to wait for complete answers! The dragon paused and calmed his voice, "It is upon my honor to ask you, of your own freewill, to share the healing you carry with you."
Coreolyn pulled out a flagon. "I cannot see what good this thimble could do you. If you feel it will aid you, then gladly I will share it."
"I have already exhausted my healing for this day, and already I feel better. However I do have I need for that... thimble, " Darelius pronounced carefully. "And I also need for its application to be with better claws than these." Darelius clicked his claws together. "Upon my shoulder lay a great wound. I would be grateful to feel the contents of that thimble washed into that wound."
Coreolyn looked at the dragon's undersides and saw that many gashes had disappeared and the other's looked less terrible.
"I would be honored." Coreolyn proceeded to step into the claw that was extended before him. As Darelius lifted him to the wound, Coreolyn continued, "So what is it I should call you Morchaint Meneldil, or the Electrum Dragon of Thunder Peaks?"
A long pause ensued as Coreolyn stepped from the claw. He delayed washing the wound as he waited patiently for an answer.
"Those are the names declared of me by man. I was declared Darelius Goldensil's by the council of clans. Even though the title for me has meant my exile, I have pledge to Asgorath to carry it to my twilight." Darelius sighed of relief as Coreolyn washed the wound. "It would please me to have you stay with me until this dark moment passes."
"You request I stay the night?" Coreolyn attempted to clarify, as he checked to see that a quaff still remained in the bottom of the flagon before returning it to his bag.
"Yes... Night. That is your word for them. Will you keep me company then?"
Coreolyn could not believe that he was considering staying the night with this creature. Even less could he believe that it was not the dragon he feared, but the creatures of this forest and of whatever could have brought this great wyrm crashing to Toril.
This was not the Misty Forest he knew so well by night or day. He was in an unknown forest, curious as to it's nature, when the dragon fell. Many months ago, he had joined a huge merchant caravan when it left Waterdeep on the Sword Coast. He watched it whittle down from ninety wagons to one as they each completed their idle quests, or to found misfortune. He had recently left the last wagon from the caravan in Tilverton. It was there that he heard much of interest about the life of the Hullack Forest. So much so, that he allowed himself to foolishly venture here on his own.
The great claw plucked him gently from the shoulder and placed him on the ground.
"For what purpose would you have me stay?" Coreolyn asked.
The dragon stood and stretched his aches and gently folded the mammoth wings. Having completed his stretch he lay back down. His body encircled half of the newly created clearing. The dragon's head settled to the ground just in front of Coreolyn.
"You are a new creature to me. I should like your company as I rest. You need not fear the .. night .. My magics can protect us both and I desire to better recover before I return to my lair."
Coreolyn thought before he spoke, "Darelius, if you are confused by my nature, it may be that I am both human and elf, and accepted by neither."
"Leave it to human-kind to shorten already short titles, but I understand that this is your nature. I doubt, creature of diverse halves, that you could possibly know myself any better than you did when you hid in the brush, but, I admire your courage." Darelius snapped a portion off a large tree. He crushed it into a small ball while his other claw dug a pit in the ground. Placing the balled branches in the ditch, he set it ablaze with a point of his claw. "I would be warmer still but am certain that you would feel discomfort. You asked of my arts and waited not for an answer. Would you appreciate the answer completed?"
Coreolyn collected his sword. He took comfort in its lack of light as he settled into a seat next to the rim of the fire.
"Of which art would you know more of first? These unspoken thoughts, or the secrets within the depths of my eye?" Darelius implied the thought directly into Coreolyn's mind.
"It would please me to be called Coreolyn. I would ask you to tell me of this link within my mind, and ask that you not use it as it makes me uncomfortable. Though it is similar to the way I speak with Teligor my eagle companion, who apparently has abandoned me, it's clarity is terrifying in comparison. I would also like to know the cause for your terrible calamity."
"I have such a hard time understanding short lives controlled by fear, so I will forgive your impatience." Darelius grimaced in frustration. "A strange bolt from the heavens impaled me and resisted my examination by exploding upon my touch. I sensed no menacing predator and assume it is another residual effect of Asgorath's banishment of the god's of men to Toril."
Coreolyn gave Darelius a puzzled look, "Asgorath?"
"Certainty you can see that only the God of Dragon's could banish the other less significant god's?" Darelius sighed condescendingly.
Coreolyn shuffled uncomfortably for he worshipped no god. A priest's sermon from either a dragon or a man was not something he endured quietly. Then he recalled that Darelius could read his thoughts and Darelius howled in laughter.
When the laughter began to subside Coreolyn ventured, "I fear this link you have with my mind and again ask that you break it."
"My most humble apologies," spoke Darelius as he gained control of his amusement. "It is well that you do fear it Coreolyn. This link is the control of the minds eye. While it is known by few, including men and elf, its very nature often drives a creature to seek solitude from others. Every creature sees its own world. One has only to see with the other's eye to control much of the power of that world."
"But I was referring to your link within my mind, not the magic of your eye." Coreolyn scratched his head confused.
"So it is that I have told you. Though the answer stands clear before you, still you cannot see. " The wyrm paused in careful thought, "Maybe you would better understand if I explain that the art within my eye is but a natural ability to confuse another, touched with my own implacable style developed over much time. I found too often that when I took control of a creatures wits, it was always difficult to regain that creatures trust. After a creature has seen my intentions while it is totally helpless, there remains some hope of gaining mutual trust when I return them to their right mind."
Coreolyn recalled the vulnerability he had felt while trapped within the dragon's eye and stared into the flames within the pit. "I am not adverse or uneducated in the ways of the art. Yet it seems I am incapable of understanding your meaning. Perhaps I can better explain the cause of your wound though."
"Really! This sounds amusing. Please go on."
Looking up from the flames Coreolyn looked into the dragons eyes for the first time since he had been trapped by them. At first, he thought he saw a childlike fascination within the face of the dragon. Upon closer inspection realized that the dragon held the face of an elder, who's great years has once again granted the pleasures of childlike play.
"It is told, in Arabel, that a wizard by the name of Kaymendle sought to remove the lightning from the storms that gather often off the mountains. The bolt that impaled you sounds similar to the misbegotten results of the mage's spell."
A long pause ensued. The crackling of the fire helped Coreolyn to remain silent as the dragon appeared deep in thought.
"So it is the foolishness of man that I have to thank. How I rue this new order. I despise such waste to what was once beautiful. Many centuries ago the damage I have caused to these woods would have been insignificant. Now, because of the foolishness of men, I feel I have done great injustice to the creatures that called these trees home. Why is it, though my twilight is so near, I fear more for the living than my own end?"
"You fear Darelius? You with such strength, size and art have fear?" Coreolyn looked into the darkness that lay outside of the fires reach and shivered from a cool breeze.
"Yes Coreolyn, I fear. Not fear such as you have for the darkness. The dark moments of a long life become as numerous as the times of light. Time is the only thing that limits ones sense to the balance to these things."
Darelius lifted his head and stared hard into the darkness. "BOO!" he bellowed loudly into the night. A trampling of brush could be heard in many directions from the clearing.
The purity of Darelius's ensuing laughter compelled Coreolyn to hold his belly from the pain of his own laughter. Upon seeing Coreolyn's condition Darelius erupted into uncontrolled laughter. Every time the laughter began to quell, brush could still be heard as it was trampled ever farther into the distance. The sound of which would cause the laughter to explode again. The two were long recovering. From the safety of the darkness, Teligor paced a branch in confusion.
As the laughter gently gave way to silence, both creatures smiled into the fire pit and raised their eyes simultaneously to look upon the other.
"You are all wrong you know," stated Darelius as his eyes stared back down to the flames.
"About what? The wizards magic?"
"No not what. You. You are all wrong. Half elf, half man. Man should not be aloud to breed at all, yet they have the audacity to breed with elves? Surely the maiden must have been soiled by the lusts of a man judged foul even by man's crude standards."
Coreolyn felt rage within his heart, "My mother is human and my father a gold elf of high standing on the Sword Coast. Though she is but one of many wives I will not have you, even though I risk my life, attack her honor in such a fashion."
"Oh honor it is now? Even though, by your own words you are accepted by neither? Your own words confess a lack of honor. I have simply echoed your own thoughts. I know not your heritage just your own actions."
Coreolyn picked a handful of pebbles from the ground and began to throw them into the pit one at a time.
"One does not choose what they are in life," Coreolyn said throwing a stone. "Even you great wyrm. Why does your name for you mean exile? And why do you feel that man should not be aloud to breed?"
"Because they only know how to ask many questions and rarely listen to the answers! When they do, they only act upon their acquired knowledge if it is for their own gain. As for my exile, it is due to my mixture of gold and silver blood. A condition that leaves me as excepted by my own as yourself. So you see, I speak not in accusation, but from experience."
"No I do not see," said Coreolyn as he crossed the fire pit to stand defiantly before Darelius. "I see a creature of great age ready to condemn those that do not conform to its vision of value."
Darelius's eyes narrowed to focused slits, "Would you not condemn those that have made of one great forest many small imitations? Would you not condemn those that for the sake of vanity wage war upon themselves? Surely even you can see that man's nature is chaos!" The dragon paused long and then scoffed, "Lightning bolts that turn to metal. Even the elves have left to find sanity among themselves. No one but man is able to cope with this new reign of man. Were it not for their numbers, man would be but just another creature listed in one of my catalogs. Instead men proliferate to destroy the great balance with each of their short lives."
"I wish that I could disagree," muttered Coreolyn as he walked back to the far side of the pit and pulled out a blazing branch. He held it high so as to illuminate the shadows upon the dragon's brow and to clearly see the dragon's eyes. "At least I still feel a hope. I cannot see living without it. Man's nature is good, but too often it is corrupted by his ambitions. It is my dream to see the elves return in the hour of man's greatest need. For I see within my own nature a balance of ambition and long history that allows for the loves of man to live in harmony with the life around him. Perhaps if you lived with man, as I have, you would see him differently then as just another creature to be categorized. They have few years, many fears and great needs. In spite of this, they persevere to do more than just survive."
In the distance could be seen the light of the coming day. A ruby glow filled the space beneath the clouds and through the trees. Darelius stood and stretched. Golden sunlight shown upon the wyrm's upper body as he stared down from towering height to regard Coreolyn. The Dragon's eyes began to glaze over with a glowing opaque color. The Dragon began a chant of magic.
Coreolyn certain that he had somehow offended the dragon stood defiantly before the great beast's feet. "I will not die a mouse." He told himself with pride. Drawing his sword from its scabbard he found himself knocked over by a great cloud of smoke. The glow from the fire pit caused the smoke to glow an eerie red. He stood at the ready peering through the cloud to find a place to strike. A small shadow seemed to move toward him.
Out of the mists, came a man of average proportions. Dressed in robes, sandals, and a pendant the man smiled benignly.
"On the off chance your right, I owe it to myself to learn of this hope." The man smile became affectionate, "Now put away that sword Coreolyn and take me to this place called Arabel."
Coreolyn stood dumbfounded, unable to move.
Darelius sniffed himself and said, "I guess this means I will have to get use to this stench."
The two laughed together and began the exit from the Hullack forest. Teligor watched from above, flying in the warmth of the morning rays of Flamerule.
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