Silence. For the first time in many years, the people of the countryside felt a pause from the constant declarations that this demon prince or that demon lord will take over their way of life and enslave them all or worse. Sure there were still lesser demons skittering across the land, though mostly hiding in shallow caves, but there was no longer the threat of something far worse on the horizon. The Heroes of Travance saw to that.  Most people have never stepped foot there, in Travance. Most had not even crossed the rift, however the Heroes of Travance, whom have never been seen, were included in every prayer that fell from the lips of every child before going to bed. The “Heroes of Travance” were declared in every statement of hope and defiance that the common man would dare to make.  Who are these Hero’s? What are there names? Are they real or are they just an idea that somehow inspires normal people to perform miraculous feats? They must be real; else the world would be a very different place… 

Inspiration can be a most powerful tool. One day the farmer’s boy wakes and stares at the morning sun and decides he will journey to Travance and serve the world to a greater purpose. Another morning the wife of a cobbler decides why not here in Oldetown? Why cant heroes grow and gather here as well and inspire to the greatness that is Travance? Many years from now that woman will grow in strength and try to make her dream into a reality.  More than ever, the rest of the world is in need of the same hope, the same strength, and the same heroes. The people of Travance have not simply altered the course of their own destiny, they have inspired a world to evolve; to change, grow, adapt and survive.

*    *     *     *    *

Joshua X sat in a cold leather chair in his tent. It was dark except for the faint light that glowed from his tobacco pipe. He flips through some old tomes, not really reading them, but simply remembering the words within, having already read them a thousand times… The Arrani declared that this is The Age of Uncertainty, and they were right indeed for there is so much uncertainty in the world, even what defines a Hero. This uncertainty led the Arrani to confusion and perhaps even an end. Joshua however did not believe that the end of the Arrani-tales signified the end of all things. He believed that the Arrani missed something; that it was the Hero’s themselves that were the element of uncertainty that clouded the Arrani’s vision from this point on.  The Final Book of the Arrani ends with the title "Age of Uncertainty", but to him, this age looked like so much more than that.  To Joshua X, this was "The Age of Heroes"; the world's future would be decided by the power of its inhabitants and not simply fall from the lips of prophets... 

*    *     *     *    *

Valos watches the people as they swiftly walk by. Most pay him no heed; some even splash muddy water on him as they trollop passed, too fast to care or even notice what they are doing. On occasion a person will stop and ask if he is fine and offer to help; he is thankful to them and blesses them before they go. To be the father of the light is to inspire through example; to challenge the flock with difficult situations that leave you choosing between unconditional love and trust, or a reassessment of your faith.  It is these tests that Valos favors the most; for no one is more real or more truthful in their telling then when they feel like no eyes are upon them.  Valos remembers his days as King Valos Anghelscu Gosteli. He remembers glorious armies of gold and white plate mail, blessed with holy power of the light. He remembers his early years as ruler in the heavens, as glorious battles in the sky’s raged; countless angels descend upon the forces of darkness under his command. Yet for all these glory filled moments, he feels that this moment, covered in grime and outside an establishment of ill repute, is among his best. He gets up off of the cold cobblestone ground, with the reluctant help of a scowling, middle aged lady who has worked at this hell house for far longer then she cares to remember. As she takes his hand, her heart is filled with unexplainable optimism, for the first time for as long as she can remember. Her life will never be the same. Moved to tears, and not knowing why, she offers him her week's wages, but he refuses and places a gentle hand on her cheek. “Do not cry, for the lord of light is with you, even in your darkest of days. I declare that every man, woman and child is destined for greatness, if they but seek the lord of lights power within themselves. You have much work to do…”

 

*** Bonus Epilogue ***

Pitiful man whom death has undone. Look upon your broken blade, and stare skyward. You are awoken and you cry out for blood, yet now all you see is the dragon's wrath. 
Unbound by time; all-binding, a grand design. The land and skies, and seas yearn for vengeance and demands for the cycle of eternal return…"
- The Book of The Arrani, passage 8-17

The treetops below trembled and cracked beneath the sheer force of speed. It was said that not with the force of a thousand hurricanes could the damage be matched, for no dragon on this world had ever flown harder and faster than this dragon. It was a visibly cut swath through the ancient forests so far and so significant, that it became known in the second age as the Trail of Dragon’s Dread. Air and Dragon moved so fast that the sound of the flight was trailing far behind, blurred as if a blue comet flew through the skies of Arawyn.

A living nightmare attacked her world with a fierce passion, for but two short weeks ago she had the perfect life, the perfect family and everything a Dragon could want or ask for.  The Elders made the decision that they would all leave Arawyn and return home. At home they would be eternally safe and all she had needed was for things to remain well. Instead in but a trivial span of time, her world had crumbled to ashes before her very eyes. One week ago her mate Belgoth departed on behest of the request of a human friend. He assured her that he would be back soon but his promise had become a lie. His trip led him to a battle that raged between the Fiona Argentis and forces of Mirranda. It started at the gates to the Amber Halls, and from there a portal transported them all to a place so far away that he would never make it back in time to join them in their journey home. He was across vast and endless oceans, on a large continent known as Doth Moria.  While she would not admit it, both her and the others quietly knew that he would die in that battle and she would never see him again.

On this, but mere hours before the mass journey home would begin, her only child was reported caught in a Morgazzi net and taken west, as told to her by the dying breath of Delguard the Red. The elders would not allow her to leave the valley and save her son, but she did not care about their command and she most certainly did not listen.  Even if she succeeded in her desperate quest, they would never make it back in time for the casting of “Eternal Return”.  For years she had dreamed of this return with her family, but never once did she imagine this future without her mate and offspring.  For an unknown time she flew west until finally in the far distance a tall dark castle peeked out over the horizon.  Above the castle, dozens of Dark Riders circled the keep, flying high on black and mottled griffons. They wielded weapons and armor forged of Dragon Bone and nets formed of Dragon Gut, and though even still she would not admit it, she knew deep down that her dreams would never come to pass…

The blue comet that almost threatened to destroy the black keep instead slowed to an immediate and alarming stop as it opened its great wings unraveling and casting shadow on the fields below. The sheer force of wind from the halting beast crashed into the Morgazi’s so hard that the others could do nothing as they watched one of their own fall off its griffon to a horrid death below. She glared at them with an icy death, and puffed out her chest in defiance of her fate.  She bellowed deep in her lungs a storm of Ice and prepared to lay waste to all that would come at her; however this breath was stolen by a sound so heart wrenching that it knocked the air from her lungs. It was a high-pitched draconic yelp of pain; the sound of a dragonling in terrible agony; her child.  She looked far below to see a large crater; in it was her child and its aggressors. Without hesitation she darted below and landed beside him, hitting the ground so fast she shook the earth.  She saw his leg was shackled to the ground by some fell enchantment. She turned her head and saw one of the Morgazzi wielding a great and terrible sickle, covered in blood and dark energies.  She glared at the Dark Rider and told it through stare alone that it would be the first to die… again her son’s cry distracted her and she felt him clawing at her heel. She decided that for but a moment, she would turn her head to assure her child before she began the carnage, however that moment would turn into eternity.  As her eyes met with her sons pitiful gaze, she saw that the life was fading from him fast. She surveyed his body for the wound and found a small, almost insignificant slash on its chest.  Though small in width and depth, it poured blood unlike any wound she had ever seen before. Needing to think fast, she flipped the dragonling on its back and placed her large clawed paw over the wound, invoking Dragon Magic, while pressing into it hard to stop the flow. It seemed to help, but no matter how hard she tried she could not stop the bleeding, only slow it down.  If she let go of the wound, her son would be dead within moments, and so she held on with a desperate heart.

She focused all of her attention on keeping her son alive and for reasons unknown to her, the Dark Riders had not yet descended upon them. After a while and against her will, her icy rage became replaced with a helpless despair as she tried frantically to comfort her dying son.  She lay on her side, and pressed her sons wound hard against her own chest. No matter how hard she held him, she could still feel the blood trickling past their scales and onto the ground. He looked up to her as if to ask her not to leave him, and so she forced him to close his eyes as she described to him the Eternal Return, where all dragon kind would live happy, safe and strong in the Far-Sky. She went on to describe in great detail, the sheer beauty of the Far-Sky, for he was born here and so he had never seen it.

Her despair was both crushing and maddening, and it had taken her over mind, body and soul. She refused to move or open her eyes. Her sons breathing was so slow and shallow that she simply did not know if he was dead or alive.  How much time passed she did not know, it could have been moments, it could have been days. She would occasionally hear the sound of talking around her. She heard many names spoken aloud, including congratulations to one Harn Darkmane. In her maddened state and beyond all reason, she could not move for fear of her child dying; although in truth he was probably already dead.  Instead she continued to whisper tales to her son. Together they slept and she dreamed of a different reality, one where they returned home together and lived a whole and satisfied life. Her heart finally shattered mid dream and tears flowed from her eyes; so large that she heard the splashing sound they made as they dropped into the pool of blood they lay in. The thought of that sound was the last thing she remembered for a very, very long time. How much time, she did not know, but she felt the seasons change around her far too many times to count. She heard in the distance the rise and fall of civilizations. She wallowed in despair and her torment ebbed and tainted the very lands around them.

One early evening as snow gently drifted upon her tomb, she felt an unfamiliar and commanding presence nearby. It was determined on achieving some goal within her realm, and moved forward with a confidence so strong that nothing dare keep it from its destiny. To feel such power and conviction around her again was invigorating. She had tried this before and failed, however she knew that this time would be different and in that moment, a single thought washed away all other thoughts in her mind; Vengeance!

 

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