March 28, 2004
The imp careened off the tunnel walls in his haste to complete his task. Veering to the left, and then to the right, he emerged in the large cavern, collapsing in a heap at the Golden Wyrm’s tail.
"What does he want now?" growled the golden dragon. "He knows I’m busy making orbs." He paused to look at the imp, "Now, look at this one. It’s a garden orb."
He held up a green and orange swirling mass for the imp to see. The imp blinked without comprehension. The Wyrm sighed and said, "Well, get on with it."
The imp scurried to stand in front of the dragon, unrolled a scroll, and began to read from it.
"The imperial wizard, ‘Marious the Magnanimous,’ holder of the keys to the castle, keeper of the Orb of Vryce..."
"I AM NOT AMUSED!" roared the Wyrm.
The imp read on hurriedly, "Requests your presence immediately - Please. I think that 'please' part was written in by someone else, because the ink is..."
"BE GONE!" roared the Wyrm.
The imp scrambled toward the cavern tunnel and was indeed gone.
The Wyrm mumbled under his breath as he disappeared into thin air.
The War Room in Castle Medievia was filled with noise from an odd assortment of heroes from across the land. Some were sitting on benches talking, some were leaning against the walls picking their teeth, and others were sparring. One, standing near the door, had captured a strange looking cat and was trying to dangle it out the window.
"Macardry, put that cat down," Marious growled as he entered the room.
The leader of the Black Rose Clan grinned as he dropped the cat.
The aging wizard made his way through the crowd to the dais at the end of the room.
"Silence," he commanded.
The room hushed.
"Will one of you kindly seal the room?" he asked as he shuffled some papers.
A half-dozen wizards chanted in unison, "Vas Ort Grav." A dazzling hemisphere of energy expanded, covering the room.
"I asked you all to come because you need to be aware of the situation that is unfolding in the realm." Marious paused and glared around the room. "About a century ago a pirate ship, called the Fury, roamed the seas. We would watch it from afar and notify the coastal villages when danger was imminent, so they could prepare to defend their homes. We fought it time and time again. Then suddenly it vanished. We were not able to track it any longer. The raids continued, but the ship was gone. We felt it was somehow sailing under a cloak of invisibility. Our coasts have taken a beating on many occasions, because they could not be prepared. Now, it is back and sailing under full sail in the Sea of Infinity. Whatever magic it was using has weakened, and I suspect it is looking for a new source."
Two dragon orbs slid silently from a taloned claw onto the window sill.
"We must be prepared," Marious continued. "I want all of you to put your affairs in order and be ready if the city comes under siege. I will ask the Golden Wyrm to make the Dragon Fleet aware. I requested that the he be here tonight, but apparently he had other affairs to attend to."
With the flick of a talon, the first of the orbs sailed into the room, hung above the dais for a moment, and then exploded in a fountain of orange and green sparks. Roses, tulips, and cabbages rained down, and pandemonium began. The second orb quickly followed and exploded. Blue and silver sparks were followed by a strange orange fog. Gasping and choking, everyone rushed to the doors and windows to escape.
A low chuckling was heard.
"That one seems to need a little work," said a voice from the fog.
"Wyrm, have you nothing better to do than to cause havoc?" gasped Marious.
The fog lifted on an empty room, save for an aged wizard and a golden dragon.
The dragon blinked slowly, doing his best to look hurt and innocent at the same time.
"Wyrm, do you know of the Fury?" asked Marious.
"I know she is only the beginning of your problem." the Wyrm said absently.
"What do you mean?" asked Marious.
The dragon blinked and flicked his tail, sending several benches flying.
"Wyrm, speak to me!" the wizard shouted.
"Marious, you tired old wizard," the dragon began, "of course I know of the Fury, as do the senior members of the Dragon Fleet. I too have been watching her, and her companion, the Eagle. Have you not noticed the second ship that has been trailing her?"
Marious made a choking noise and quickly grabbed the cauldron that was sitting at the end of the table. He stirred it with his wand and because quite agitated.
"You are correct Wyrm! How could I have missed that? And what is this? Flaming warts!"
"Ah," said dragon, "you must be looking toward the Great Blood Sea?"
"Yes!" Marious exclaimed, "Where, by the name of all wizards, did that army come from?"
"Three days ago," the dragon said thoughtfully, "they were three separate ragtag contingencies. Now they have massed and are moving rapidly to the west. If we add the pirates into the equation, it does not bode well. There is magic at work here. I believe the City of Medievia will be under siege by morning."
The dragon flicked a talon and a garden orb appeared. It danced across the table and exploded, sending radishes and daffodils in every direction.
"Wyrm!" the wizard exclaimed.
"It helps me think," the dragon replied.
"Well, go think somewhere else. We need a plan, not this!" said the wizard, gesturing wildly at the colorfully littered floor.
The dragon snorted, began remembering, and for a long moment just looked at the wizard.
The wizard nodded slowly and said, "You are correct Wyrm. We have been through worse than this. I will rouse the city and send couriers to the clans via the portals. We will be waiting for them."
"See, you do have a plan," the dragon said. "Be assured, the Dragon Fleet will help wherever they can."
The dragon flicked a talon and two golden orbs appeared. He handed one to Marious.
The wizard looked at him and slowly smiled as he held his orb aloft.
"Here’s to magic!" he said.
"To magic!" replied the dragon.
Golden sparks flew, and the friends were gone.
The morning dawned to find the Eagle and the Fury far south of the city anchored in a bay. The pirates had left their ships and were coming ashore in boats. The Medievian guard fought them - sword against sword, knife against knife.
The clansmen had portaled into the city and were fighting a vicious army east of the Great Tree. Warrior members of the Dragon Fleet had joined their ranks.
The junior guardian dragons circled above, transporting the wounded and carrying supplies.
Theo, flying close to the Wyrm, shouted, "Can you tell who’s winning?"
They circled down to get a better look.
The clansmen were fighting with lances and spears against the huge dark army. An area set behind the lines for the wounded showed many still bodies, but it also showed too few clerics. Theo saw a warrior dragon rear up. He had been badly wounded. Dark gashes showed in his sides, and one wing hung uselessly at his side.
"It does not look good Theo. The clans are taking heavy casualties, and the Medievian guards have called in the mercenaries to help. Look! The pirates are moving into the southern part of the city." he shouted back.
"We must help!" cried Theo, as they again gained some altitude, "I have friends down there!"
"Keep watch here Theo. I must speak to Marious. Do nothing until I return!" shouted the Wyrm as he banked toward the castle.
Theo watched as the dark army beat the clansmen back until they were almost to the Great Tree. He was beside himself with fear. He could see the Wyrm returning, wings beating hard, until he was once again alongside him.
"I’m going down to scorch a few tails!" Theo shouted. "I need to help! They are nearing the great tree!"
"No, Theo," the Golden Wyrn said. "I have just spoken to Marious. He insists there is a more urgent mission for us. He believes we will aid them far better if we find the magic source. The pirates are draining its power far more than before, giving them near-invulnerability in battle. They will no longer be able to cloak it, for it is weakened, and we must eliminate it."
The Wyrm paused and looked directly at Theo. "Get your twig out of your pack."
"What?" sputtered Theo.
"Your twig! Hold up your twig!" the Wyrm shouted.
Theo dug in his pack and got out his twig. It was pulsing with a strange red glow. It twisted in his claw as if reaching out to something.
"Hold it high, Theo, and follow its direction," said the Wyrm.
They flew to the castle and then began to fly in ever widening circles toward the perimeter of the City. As they neared the wharf the twig twirled and pointed south.
The hugged the shoreline, their wings beating in time with their hearts. They passed the Academy of Braneri and the Village of Gnomenel. At Kabaljau Cove, they circled over the Sea of Infinity and checked the twig. It was still pointing south.
They were nearly to Tanivsport when the twig nearly flew out of Theo’s talon.
"Look down there!" Theo yelled, pointing at the two ships that were just in view.
The Eagle and the Fury were anchored just off the coast of Tanivsport. Sailors from the Mystara were exchanging volleys of missiles with the two pirate ships. The dragons circled low to look.
"The twig is pointing toward the Fury!" Theo yelled again. His nose began to twitch, and he sneezed.
Smoke billowed, followed by a clear stream of flame.
The deck of the Eagle erupted in fire.
"Theo, try not to sneeze again!" the Wyrm shouted as he set a glide path toward the Fury. Theo banked to the right, and following the twig’s direction, landed on the deck. The Wyrm landed beside him.
The pirates who had been fighting on board quickly jumped overboard. Cheers could be heard coming from the Mystara.
Theo clung to the twig as it led them below the decks to the hold. They worked their way through the passage, at last coming to a barred wooden door. The Wyrm looked at it for an instant before turning it into splinters with a talon. They stepped into the darkness beyond. The glow from the twig became brilliant, illuminating the gloomy room.
There in the center of the room lay a white dragon. Her dried scales littered the floor. Bands of swirling glass tethered her legs.
The Wyrm bellowed in rage and rushed forward. He grabbed the white dragon and held her head close to his body.
Unused to light, the dragon shut her eyes tightly and began to thrash about.
"Lyrvon, Lyrvon, my little sister, it is I," the Wyrm said softly, as he held her. "You are safe now."
She blinked a few times, and then her eyes grew wide as she gathered her wings about her. She became still.
"Wyrm! Is it really you?" she asked, her voice weak. "I had given up hope! I was taken prisoner by an evil sorcerer during that battle so long ago. He sold me to the pirates. They have been using my magic, and now it is almost gone. I am so weak. I had resigned myself to death."
She looked down at her legs. The shackles swirled, the light showing scars and fresh wounds from the constant chafing.
"Please," she pleaded. "Please, free me from these."
"I cannot," the Wyrm said, "for they are shackles made by an evil magic, one that is full of hate. Ordinary magic can never shatter these bonds. Only a child of your blood, one born of love, would be able to undo these abominations."
Lyrvon shuddered, and sighed deeply. "Only death can release me," she whispered.
"But," the Golden Wyrm said slowly, "there is someone here who can help. Theo, I think the time has come for your true task."
Understanding dawned as the young dragon touched the twig to the shackles. They fell to the floor and disappeared. The joy he felt was indescribable.
Lyrvon watched as the young dragon came forward to touch her bonds. She watched them fall from her legs, only to disappear like smoke. For a brief moment, she remembered a time when she had put her child into a crevice and tucked her glowing twig under his wing.
"Can this be?" she murmured as a warm glow filled her.
She looked from Theo, to her brother, the Golden Wyrm. He nodded and smiled at her.
She reached out, gathering her lost family into her wings and began to weep with joy.
Theo’s heart was nearly bursting out of his chest. What could be better than this? In the blink of an eye, he had gained not only an uncle, but best of all, a mother!
"Harrumph," said a very familiar voice from the door, "I thought you might want to know that we have everything under control. They are running like ants. They have been beaten back and are fleeing. The pirates have taken to their boats and are being chased out to sea by your Dragon Fleet."
Marious materialized long enough to bow to the beautiful white dragon.
"Good day to you Lady Lyrvon. You and your family are looking well," he said smiling at her; then he disappeared.
The Wyrm followed as Theo helped his mother to the deck. He looked around, but his old friend was not there.
"Do you think you can fly?" the Wyrm asked his sister. "If you can, I would like to take the two of you home," he added.
"My heart is already flying, so why should my body not follow it?" Lyrvon answered, beaming a smile at Theo and the Wyrm.
Theo sneezed as the three dragons lifted off the deck of the ship. The sails of the Fury burst into flames.
The Wyrm chuckled and with the flick of a talon, a golden orb exploded over the City of Medievia. His voice boomed, "Here’s to magic!"
Back in the war room of the castle, Marious smiled, lifted a golden chalice and said aloud, "To magic, my friend. To magic!"
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