It was a dark, moonless night. A cold wind swept over the plain and a dark shadow flitted across the sky. The shadow settled at the mouth of a chasm and turned it's face toward the dark skies. Its luminous pale sapphire eyes glowed dimly in the darkness as it heaved a long sigh and settled at the edge of the chasm to wait. Soon a tiny light flickered out of the black abyss, moving upward toward the waiting shadow. The shadow bent and whispered faintly like a sighing of wind through the trees and the light began to grow. It danced and swirled, flickering in a myriad of intricate patterns, growing into a dazzling flame against the dark night. In the light of the flames, the shadow revealed itself as a pale silvery dragon, taking on a ghostly appearance in the firelight, every shadow etched on its face as if in stone.
The dragon spoke one word.
The flame bloomed and spread, washing the night in an eerie glow as it took shape. It took the shape of a face, the face of a huge scarlet dragon with eyes as red a blood. It opened its mouth and roared into the night.
"Who be it that dares disturb the sleep of Schilante?"
The silver dragon shook her shimmering scales and scraped her horns along the earth three times, an ancient dragon challenge. The beast bent down to look at her, its hot breath blowing against her face. Then it laughed, a loud booming laugh.
"So it is you, small one, and you wish to challenge me? Me, Schilante? Me, for whom all beasts scream in terror at the whispered mention of my name. I say you are crazed." The beast made to crawl back into its hole but the silver dragon stopped it.
"You do not accept my challenge, Great One? Is it not in the Law that-"
The beast was up again in a flash, flames wreathing its form as it shot toward her. She quickly sidestepped, avoiding being roasted alive by a foot. She smiled and whipped her head back, letting out a jet of frozen fire which, to fire dragons is the most painful, purposefully just missing it. Then it came at her, shrieking in fury and a jet of fire hit her shoulder, bowling her over. Her cold body absorbed the energy and she lay on her side, waiting. Schilante circled her slowly, sure of its victory, but then she was up, rushing around the beast so fast that all it could do was snap at her with its powerful jaws, missing her each time by a hairsbreadth. The silver dragon landed on a rock breathing heavily, but with her wings stretched out in defiance.
"I am called Silvierra Dol-Stithdura, the Icefire. I came, O Great One, to test your strength, that you had not grown old, for you are needed by your friends in Shillis."
The huge dragon turned away from her.
"My place is here, I have no wish to help you or your kind."
Silvierra stepped in front of the huge dragon, pale blue eyes flashing.
"You will come, if you have any honor. Forget not the vow you made, nor what you owe to those of Shillis. Now I ask; have you honor as a dragon?"
The fiery eyes slitted slightly as the great beast remembered her vow, and her debt. Finally she nodded.
"I will come with you. They will know that I, Schilante, do not forget vows once spoken, nor debts to whom they are owed."
Silvierra dipped her head in reverance. "Many thanks I give you, O Wise One."
The two dragons launched into the air and the night reentered its domain. Nothing was left to tell of their coming or going except for a hint of fire and ice in the still air.
Part One: The Rising
Fire of another kind
Shillis lay wreathed in the stillness of early morning mist. Various streams and runnels babbled merrily on their course to the Great South Sea and birds of all hues chattered, whistled and sang their morning matinee. At the village of Herden, work had already began and young children played in the streets, their laughter rising to blend with the birds.
Veygreth took a light dip on a thermal and tucked his wings to his sides, diving toward the treetops. He opened his wings at the last possible moment, skimming lightly over an elm. He had perfected that maneuver with much practice until he could preform it with his eyes closed. He was young for a dragon, in his two hundred and fiftieth year, but quite skilled in flight maneuvering. He ducked just in time as his friend, Emerale, swooped past, scraping him lightly with her heavily-spiked tailtip. He laughed and sped after her until they were side-by-side.
"Haha. Thought you were clever, eh? I knew you were sneaking up on me the whole time."
"Did not," laughed Emerale.
She chuckled to herself, letting out a horsey laugh and he shut his mouth.
"Hahaha. You said you didn't know I was there. Hahaha."
Vey realized she had played another of her tricks on him and began to chuckle with her but suddenly dove from beside her.
"Hah- Vey! Wait!"
Tucking her short legs to her sides, Emerale dove after him and they had a fast-paced chase through the trees, around rocks and huts and up the side of a cliff. Breathless, Vey landed on a ledge and Emerale landed beside him.
"Whoo! That was great!"
Then they both looked around them. From the cliff edge they could see amost all of Shillis in its morning splendor. The sun was already risen over the treetops but it was not yet noon and the forest spread, lush and blooming, blanketed in a soft mist. To the west lay the mountains, tall and barren, each snowcapped peak vanishing in the clouds. Emerale took in a deep breath. The two young dragons could not take their eyes off of the scene below them and they both sat watching the morning unfold.
There was a sound of giant wings beating the air above them and they both looked up to see a great silver dragon with a glowing sapphire on her brow and pale sapphire eyes. She settled down beside them, stretching a wing toward the forest. She had a smooth, deep voice.
"Magnificent, is it not?"
They both nodded. The silver dragon spread her wings and launched herself from the ledge, calling over her shoulder as she went.
"Follow me, young ones. You are both needed at the court of the King."
They both looked at one another then followed suit. Beating her wings in powerful strokes, the great silver dragon gained altitude, sweeping up the cliff face until she came to another ledge and a gateway etched into the rocks. There she halted and waited for Vey and Emerale to catch up. Pumping their wings furiously, the two young ones finally made it to the somewhat larger ledge with the gateway where the silver dragon awaited them. She lowered her long, graceful neck when they approached and spoke.
"Welcome to the palace of the King. I am called Silvierra Dol-Stithdura. Please follow." She turned and headed toward the gateway which was barred by a heavy stone door, covered in ancient symbols and designs. Out of the gate materialized two stone-colored dragon guards, their horns ornamented with silver and gold designs. They blocked the door with their heavily spiked tails crossed.
"Who is it that wishes an audience with the king?"
Silvierra brushed their tails aside and addressed the dragon who spoke to her.
"Don't be silly, Rakagg. You know who I am. I bring two young ones with me, one is quite astounding and, I believe, may be the very one we have waited all these centuries for."
The two dragons hid their grins and let them pass, the younger one sticking out his tongue impudently at Vey as they passed him. Vey didn't notice for, once past the gate, they entered a great hall. The roof was unseen in the height and darkness above them. The walls had carvings flowing across their surfaces and every few feet, a flickering torch was set into an engraved sconce, illuminating the gold, silver and glittering gemwork along the wall. The hall opened out into a vast room with a long carpet leading up to two gilded thrones. Two doors led off the main room on either side of the throne. Beside the large thrones were two smaller ones which looked like they hadn't been used in centuries, so covered with dust and cobwebs were they. On one of the large thrones sat a huge golden-scaled dragon with three horns on its great head.
Silvierra bowed low, horns touching the thick white carpet and the two young dragons followed her example.
"O Great King Thelinor Arn-Turtoc, Magesty. I have come, bringing these two young ones before you, Golden One, as you commanded. One of them has the Mark upon her brow as I do."