Blaze of Glory
The call went out once again last night. A larger crowd started off than usual, which is a good sign. The numerous events that have been happening through Britannia of late must be keeping the land's heroes alert.
As I arrived, Kalis Sevren was talking with the group, specifically to Denria of the Twilight Fellowship, who was asking about Kalis's pursuit of the battling Blaze and Blight.
"The pursuit was most difficult, especially when dealing with flying dragons," Kalis was saying. "A deer, a stag, a monster that walks on the ground... no problem." He muttered to himself briefly.
"Aye, so were you able to keep up with them?" Denria asked.
"I followed for as long as I could, but they were soon lost to my sight." Kalis frowned. "The last I saw of them, Blaze seemed to be falling from the sky..."
"Any idea where he fell?"
"Nay, I do not. But I do wish to see if he lives. That is why I called ye all here this eve. To search for Blaze and hopefully find him alive and well."
"Where should we begin?" someone in the crowd asked.
"Blaze stated that he resides in the desert north of Papua, so it would be a good place to start our search."
"Tis a large area..."
"Aye, but some here must know where he was found before, for messengers were sent to seek him out before we left for Skara Brae."
"Some of them failed," I said, blushing slightly.
"I see. An elusive dragon to boot. Let us hope we are more successful."
Kalis made his way through the crowd to the open room.
"Well, we best take our leave. I shall provide a gate up to the Moonglow Mage Shop."
Through the portal and northward out of Papua, the Royal Guard travelled in groups, seeking any sign of the great gold dragon. Some of the Royal Guard, obviously happy to be on a mission once again, expressed their gratitude to Kalis for the opportunity.
Having little experience in this desert, I let others lead. By an odd coincidence, our path took us to the very spot that I ended up searching for Blaze -- an oasis in the middle of the desert.
As when I was here before, there was no dragon to be found, but this time there was at least a sign of his presence, for the ground was covered with blood and rended scales. The creatures that inhabited the oasis now, though, were not dragons, and their presence meant that Blaze had not likely been here for a while.
"Look around the area," Kalis suggested. The south entrance to the oasis seemed barren and uninformative, as as we returned to the northern entrance, we were accosted by large, armed (with weapons, not limbs) snake creatures.
I had been told about the ophidians by my grandfather, but had never seen one this close. Also, from my childhood stories, I was sure they usually appeared further to the east, but perhaps these were just wanderers?
It didn't seem to be the case, however, for as they were dispatched, more continued to appear further down the trail. There was a constant stream of them, and many seemed sure that this was unnatural, and that this might be something important.
Indeed, it was very important! The "end of the road", as it were, took us straight to Blaze! But instead of relaxing or resting from his battle with Blight, he was being besieged by swarms of these ophidians!
Blaze called out to the heroes as they entered the desert arena, beckoning them to assist in clearing the snakepeople from the area. Everyone laid into the ophidians, including myself, doing what I could with both flute and bow.
Now, my grandfather had told be great tales of these creatures, about how dangerous they were, but they seemed to fall easily enough under sword and spell. Even the larger avengers and matriarchs seemed to fall faster than they did in the stories, almost as if magic weapons were much more powerful now than they were back then. Or perhaps it's my childhood memories failing me...
One thing my grandfather failed to tell me about, however, was how deadly the poison was. I was struck by their venom, so I sought to quickly get out of the area and cure the poison.
Brought back to life by my fellow Guard, I went back into the fray, this time keeping my distance as an archer should. The battle seemed to be going well, for I counted many more serpentine bodies than humanoid. Blaze still stood, and was impressively dealing out pain. "They are many, but they are weak and puny," I could hear Blaze roar over the clanging of metal. "No match for a wyrm like me!"
It was good to hear that the magnificent creature could keep up spirits and bravado in the heat of battle, and while still wounded from a previous one.
As I got closer, however, I saw and heard Blaze speaking to someone, or something, atop a rocky spire. There, amidst the carnage, sat a mottled queen ophidian.
"You seem content to supervise from your rock," Blaze was saying over the din. He was too busy with forces on the ground to make the conversation more personal.
"Come my minions!" the ophidian leader cried. I was told her name was Sernaska, but I wasn't able to ask what this meant, as I had strategically hidden myself at the base of the spire to better hear what was going on.
"Kill! Death to all that stand in our way!" Sernaska was screaming, revelling in the carnage below her. This call seemed to be a summon of sorts, for superior specimens of ophidians appeared, a dark green in hue. These new deathdealers had keener senses of smell than their lesser kin, for one easily found me in hiding and struck me down in but a few hits.
Resurrected once more, by Kalis himself, I attempted -- a few times -- to retrieve my belongings. The bite of these new ophidian enforcers, both their fangs and their weapons, fell me a few times, as they did many others.
While I was in the land of the living, I tried various things to help out, but as I have found of late, my skills as a bard are nothing compared to the evil that haunts our land. There is no shame in being a healer, however, and this I did as well as I could, provided I could keep myself alive.
Over time -- and over many corpses -- the battle came down to a final ophidian enforcer. Blaze, Kalis and everyone else around all dished out what they could. Even I was able to do a handful of damage with each arrow!
Finally the creature fell, and the desert was quiet. Blaze was talking about this Sernaska creature.
"She failed," he was saying. "This region is no longer safe, she still roams... I must seek a new home."
The Royal Guard started offering a variety of suggestions, some serious, some in jest.
The dragon grinned - I think. "I know of a cave that I can stay in... for now. My fight with Blight took more out of me than I had imagined. The ophidians found me in a weakened state, and she tried to kill me."
The proud dragon lowered his head slightly. "I ask for your assistance in finding a new home."
Again, more suggestions were offered from all around, but Blaze seemed to be ignoring them, lifting his head and tilting it to the side slightly.
"For your safety, you should leave this place. Sernaska will return with a stronger army. We have won this battle, but she is not finished."
His eyes widened a bit as he detected something with his superior senses. "Fly while you have the chance!" he roared as another wave of ophidians appeared around the bend. "She wishes to lay claim to this desert and she will kill all creatures that move."
Very few wanted a repeat of the evening, so Kalis quickly summoned a moongate and whisked us back to Skara Brae.
"I have never seen such deadly ophidians before," Kalis said to the handful who made it to safety. When asked about Blaze, he replied, "I believe he left for another cave of his."
Kalis's face took on a thoughtful look. "I suppose it is up to us to find him a new home," he opined. "Or a place that he can reside in, that is safer than the desert. So feel free to give your ideas and post them."
When Skara Brae was suggested as Blaze's new home, for he could rightly be called the champion of Skara Brae (along with the Royal Guard), Kalis let out a smirk. "I highly doubt that the town of Skara Brae would enjoy seeing another dragon here... especially after what happened here recently. But at least we were able to aid him and help him as he helped us."
Kalis frowned. "Had we not shown up when we did..."
Some of the Guard weren't ready to stop for the night, and asked if we were going to return to the desert.
"If ye wish to return, ye may... but it may be quite dangerous. It seems Sernaska is claiming the desert. It seems we were wise to leave when we did."
Kalis bid everyone a good day, and walked off down the dragon-free streets of Skara Brae. As he walked into the distance, I thought how nice it was to see him again, after he chased after the duelling dragons, Blaze and Blight.
What did happen? If Blaze said anything about that battle, I missed it... is the evil dragon truly dead? And what of this Sernaska? The name seemed familiar to some. I should consult the Lycaeum and see if there is any information about her. Meanwhile, I hope the citizens of Britannia can put their minds together and come up with good suggestions for a new home for Blaze and post them on the various bulletin boards around the land.