Medievia Mudslinger

April 21, 2000

The Heart of Darkness - By Izz

The wooden stairs creaked heavily under Izz's footsteps. Izz's father, a strong and ignorant tavern keeper, shouted up from the kitchen below, 'Where are you, numbskull?" Izz winced, muttering curses under his breath. He hated that man since he beat his mother enough to make her flee into a life of poverty. Much like I'm doing now, Izz thought happily.

He was well past adolescence, and into the years where normally men of his age would be striking out on their own, making their own way in the world. Instead it was toil and near slavery to his father. He was made to run the accounts of the tavern, forcing him to work nearly all of his spare time. It was not all bad though, thought Izz. There were times when it was purely enjoyable. For instance when he trained at the local school of magic. That was the most pleasurable thing in Izz's life. He had nearly trained his magic abilities to the max, and was anxious to try them out. He had learned the weave of magic, knowing that for casting there was a price to pay, reflecting real life.

He had also stumbled upon some people that graciously welcomed him into their fold, allowing him to participate in a real clan. House of Fire and Ice was a long established clan, and oftentimes took their time on recruiting new members that showed promise. He loved his clan brothers and sisters, looking to them as role models, friends, and teachers.

He gathered the last few items into a rough burlap sack: enough food for a couple of days, and old tough water skin, a slim dagger, and a gift from his grandmother. The gift was very special to him. This gift was the last thing he had to remember his grandmother by. It was a shimmering black shield, glowing with a pale aura. On it was emblazoned a snarling dragon, the very beast his grandfather had dedicated his life to finding and killing. In tradition, only broken by his fat, lazy father, Izz had dedicated himself to finding and destroying the beast.

So, with a sigh the young and dashing hero set off on what promised to be the journey of his life. He slowly creaked open the door, fearful that his father would hear him running away to slay a mighty beast. Suddenly the imposing image of his father silhouetted the door, striking fear into Izz's heart. Izz cried out in fear and ran as fast as he could, never waiting once to see if his father was pursuing him. He ran until he was completely out of breath. That day Izz pushed himself beyond his limits to distance himself from his past and detestable life. At last he sprawled face first onto the grassy path, gasping for air.

Izz managed to gather enough wood to start a small fire, good enough to warm him at least. Izz then broke out his supper, a boiled filet of piranha flesh, peering cautiously at the exotic food. With a shrug Izz took a generous bite and found it quite pleasing to his palate. Finishing his meal he turned to the task at hand; sleeping. Finding this task easier than eating weird fish flesh he quickly fell into a sound and fitful sleep.

With a yawn and a stretch Izz awoke to a beautiful spring morning. The sky was blue and there were no signs of bad weather on the horizon. A perfect day for adventuring, thought Izz. Gathering his gear into a bundle he began to walk down the main road, the one leading to the huge mountains his Grandfather use to tell him about.

By mid afternoon he came across a band of men looking particularly mean and dangerous. They were laughing and throwing things at people skirting the edge of the road around them. They had countless blades, and Izz thought, knew well how to use them. They were most definitely a band of criminals, looking to rob anyone that crossed their path. These men were despised by all, yet challenged by none. The road suddenly became very quiet as Izz stepped forward and in a small voice asked, "Do you know where any mighty dragons are?" Raucous laughter and jeering insults was the only thing that met his question.

The boisterous mood suddenly took a dangerous turn as one of the rogues spied the bag of gold coins hanging around Izz's belt. Izz backed into the spiky bushes that surrounded the road, suddenly feeling very scared and very cornered. The rogues drew knives and slowly advanced, giggling to themselves with the task at hand.

Izz focused his energy and blasted the ground with a tremendous tremor that sent all of the rogues tumbling to the ground in an embarrassing heap. They quickly jumped to their feet growling curses at him. Izz once again focused his magical energy into a ball of fire, burning everyone in the area, scorching surrounding plant life into a growing blaze. The band charged Izz knocking him down, momentarily stunning him. They attempted to slice at Izz's neck, hoping for a clean and easy kill. Izz jumped to his feet and while slashing out with his staff to gain some room he focused all of his energy into a ball of fire, once again burning and singeing their skin. Blood oozed from the rogue's wounds, drenching the country lane with dark crimson puddles. They screamed in agony, and fled into the thick undergrowth like the cowards that they were. But not before, much to Izz's surprise, they dropped a heavy leather backpack, in order to gain some speed by losing weight.

He stooped to examine the contents of the backpack, wading through the more mundane supplies. Surprisingly Izz felt something warm and magical hidden in a cloth sack. The sack had the insignia of a mighty ruby dragon on it, and contained inside it a map, glowing with a pale aura. Upon closer inspection he realized this was the map his grandfather had been questing for his whole life to find. This was quite a discovery for Izz, taking his grandfather his whole life gathering clues and making attempts to ascertain the whereabouts of it. With a contented smile Izz moved off the busy road and settled down to make camp.

The morning came all too quickly for a warm and bundled up Izz. With the ground still wet with the nighttime dew he woke and began to gather his things into his worn leather sack. The dragon lair map he held close inside his tunic, protecting it from getting the slightest bit damp. He focused his powers for a brief moment and suddenly a good dragon hearkened his call, crashing into the room.

The good dragon was golden in color, radiating benevolence and peace. Its scales shimmered brightly in the morning sunlight, twinkling. Izz did not doubt for a second that this kind beast could rip the head off any evil creature that tried to attack though. Izz jumped onto the dragon, clicked his heels and they were off into the morning sky. The ride was exhilarating, blowing Izz's hair into the wind, giving him a feeling of wide-open freedom. The dragon flew fast, with a solid destination in mind. In a few moments they landed with a jerk and the dragon bolted off, scared of the smell of death hanging around the lair entrance.

Izz telepathically communicated with his clan members, his brothers and sisters. A shimmering rift appeared and countless friends stepped out, using their magical abilities to phase to Izz across the boundless wilderness. He had also commissioned his friends at the magic school to search for strong fighters and clerics to help them in their dragon lair quest. He had certainly found enough people, it seemed that people were very anxious to have the chance to be a member of a dragon lair quest. These were people from far and wide, from all different races and culture. They all had one thing in common though; the need to attain the precious dragon hides. Dragon hide in the land of Medievia was prized beyond belief for its qualities at making outstanding armor and weapons. Their numbers totaled to seventeen. "Good," thought Izz, "Enough to make two groups." They all separated into the groups, dividing their forces equally, joking and laughing about past Dragon Lair experiences. "They are all so calm," thought Izz nervously, "This will be my first dragon lair and I have no idea what I am doing."

Everyone suddenly became very quiet as the first person stepped into the cool darkness. As Izz stepped into the cave the darkness enveloped him like a warm blanket, caressing his body assuring him not to worry. He kept telling himself that he had no reason to worry, but it just was not working. The other sixteen members went about with trepidation but also with an air of excitement also with the thought of the imminent fight. As they made their way through the heat- choked tunnels before the lair they slowly began to gain confidence by killing the lesser evil creatures. Finally they reached the room right before the lair. It was bare, no decorations for the dragon, Izz thought humorously. Someone hissed, "Everyone be quiet! On three attack the beast!"

Izz's nerves jumped. He was already nervous enough and to have one of his friends blaring directions right into his ears made him more scared. He collected his wits about him and began to chant the magical phrases that would let him cast the spell shockwave. Suddenly the Dragon was before him in all of its power.

The Dragon was awesome in size, taking up nearly the whole room, spanning fifty yards from head to tail. Its head was mighty, sporting huge horns that looked wicked, plastered with the blood of long dead heroes. The body pulsated with a serpentine rhythm as the dragon's magic coursed throughout the massive frame. The tail was thick and tough; ending in a multitude of spikes. The Dragon held an air of dominance, which commanded beasts of lesser power to bow down in reverence and cowardliness to it.

All of the dragon slayers focused their power into mighty shockwaves, channeling them directly into the dragon. The dragon in return blasted the whole group with acid, burning everyone in the room, weakening them considerably. It careened around the room, knocking people down and disorienting others. People were screaming in agony and the dragon was hardly even damaged! A few of the back row held up huge ordained staves and flooded the area with a white light, forcing the oozing wounds to close over and mend themselves, glowing with magical healing light. Izz felt tremendously better until the very next spray of acid washed over him.

People were swaying in pain with the loss of blood from the Dragon's blows. Things were looking grim, but the leader still ordered the front row to pound the dragon, hoping to weaken it enough for it to flee it's lair. They pummeled and pummeled the beast, grievously injuring their foe. The dragon was becoming frustrated, and began consequently began to make mistakes.

At last the Dragon gave a mighty roar and fled out of the cavern into the wilderness. The dragon slayer's triumph was short lived however because they still had to pursue the dragon and hope to somehow finish it off. "After all this was the name of the game, the Dragon wasn't just going to give his hide now was he?" thought Izz.

The leader concentrated and momentarily they were all transported to the local clan town. They heard shrieks and cries of the local people dying all around them from the Dragon's destruction. The dragon slayers scanned the surrounding area looking for any signs of the dragon. They spotted it to the east of them, ripping people's bodies apart, drenching the entire area in blood. The charged in, once again blasting the dragon with their magic. The dragon reared onto its legs and blasted the entire area with a cloud of acid, burning everything in the room. Before the dragon could be seriously damaged it fled out of the room, leaving the form with the task of resurrecting all of the dead group members and their friends who had come to help.

Once again they spotted the dragon, standing magnificently in the room, dominating the area. They charged in battering it with wave upon wave of magic. The dragon had many grievous wounds. Before they could muster together more strength and finish it the dragon fled once again.

Izz let out a sigh of frustration, thinking that if it kept doing this they would be here all day. They charged in once again, slashing out at the dragon, causing it to ooze blood over its countless wounds. The dragon slayers smelled the imminent death and their slashes and shockwaves turned into a fever pitch, throwing all caution to the wind and only wanting the dragon dead. Izz's wounds were severe, disorienting him. The hot blast of acid passed over him once again, melting his skin and burning his hair. There were screams of death all around him, his fellow clan members, and friends were dying by the claw and acid of the dragon. Confusion reigned; no one seemed to be able to see anything through the thick cloud of blood acid spraying everywhere. The leader threw back his head, laughing maniacally and focusing all his power into one mighty shockwave, blasting the dragon to pieces. Bits of dragon flesh and blood splattered against Izz, stunning him.

Izz found his magical heartstone in his leather sack and went about the task of help to resurrect all of his friends. Some moaned in agony, mortally wounded, while others lay stone dead, the faces showing a sickly green with the amount of acid in their bloodstream. Life poured into them as Izz chanted the magical phrases of the spell, draining him of his already low energy.

Everyone collapsed into an exhausted pile, resting and gathering his or her strength about him or her. Wearily the leader staggered to his feet and drew his sword. He slowly quartered the dragon, carefully slicing the thick ruby hide off of the now lifeless dragon corpse. He slammed a huge rock against the skull, crushing the outer plates, revealing the brain inside. The brain, as all Medievians knew, was priced beyond belief. Some claimed it for extreme magical abilities. He allowed every member of the form to step up and take a piece of ruby hide. Izz ceremonially stepped up and accepted his dragon hide, feeling rather proud that he could gain the experience of being with these well- seasoned heroes. "This is not a day I would likely be forgetting anytime soon," he thought hapily.