April 21, 2000
A menace. A freak of nature. Plain and simple. All other dragons up until this time seemed small, insignificant. They seemed mortal. This dragon, this ruby dragon, with his piercing wail that could knock grown, hearty men to their knees from a great range, ruled the land. This is the epic of Fothgolia.
"Dad, I have a question" This is how it began sometimes. The old man's son would ask a question, and in turn the old man would spin a yarn to explain the question so his son could understand it. "How did you get that scar?".
The wizened man reached up with a single finger and traced the long, white, narrow scar running the length of the right side of his face, marring his cheek. The aged veteran turned to his son. "It's been a long time since anyone has inquired about this. Not many people care anymore."
"Was I wrong to ask?" the boy gulped nervously. His father shook his head slightly, and the boy smiled.
"When I was a younger man...".
"...They say he can't be killed. They are wrong.". The stout, arrogant young man pounded on the table, sending firebreathers flying.
"What makes you so sure?" inquired an elder, more experienced member of the council.
"Because I feel it, and the last time I saw it in his eyes, he was scared, we had him, we just couldn't finish him.".
The elder snickered. He'd seen all of this before.
"And I suppose that you have a grand plan to take him out, correct?".
The dragon slayer's lip curled into a sneer. "I've already posted it in all the towns.".
The elder gazed at this arrogant, cocky, pompous fool who was going to get himself killed, and yet felt a slight twinge of remeniscence. He too had once been daring, had achieved much only others had dreamed. He reconsidered. The elder locked eyes with the dragon slayer and asked softly, "What do you need?".
In the following days there were many rumors floating about. There was going to be an attempt on the mighty dragon. The fighters were stockpiling healing staffs, gathering sanctuary staffs to protect themselves, and mustering their courage. The brash youngster requested thirty-four people heros, the elder, and himself. Four formations of nine, all from different clans, different beliefs. All wars would be put aside temporarily for this one cause. When the battle was all over, they would continue their private wars, but for this struggle, Medievia would be one.
Above the ominous lair they stood. They had left their families and children, for this one chance to end an ongoing horror. The elder turned and whispered to the young man, "Remind me why I'm here again?"
The youngster smiled sagely. "You're here because we both know what has to happen here. They'll listen to you though. I'm nothing. You're respected. Lead us in.".
One, two, three, four forms, thirty-six warriors, thieves, clerics and mages went into the lair. The first level went quickly. The valiant forms slayed the dragon's pathetic parasites who lived in his lair and did nothing: thoughtshifters, gnoll lords, brambles and hydras all met death from magic and steel.
The old man chuckled. "What's so funny dad?" his son asked.
"I was so nervous that I forgot to prepare for underwater combat and ended up choking a little bit during one of the fights. It was kind of amusing, actually."
The little boy gasped. "Why is that funny?"
His father petted his head with a gnarled hand. "You'll see when you get older. Anyways".
"Ugh, now I remember why I hate hot places" the elder lamented as his form reached the second level. Searing flames were everywhere, scorching the ground, the brave people who came into the lair, burning everything. The forms had to rest often. Lavalanches, flame spirits, lava hounds kept pounding them, and thanks only to the clerics that they stayed alive. People started grumbling, when the elder finally spotted the underground water tunnels which were on their way. The forms all sighed with relief, defeated some peeling leeches, and cooled themselves. Rejuvenated, the forms healed up and took a small rest, then headed off to the last level.
The first of the dragon's offspring they met caught them offguard. Some tried to flee from it and into another room, but were turned back. There was a great struggle. The hatchling died a horrible death though, and on the forms trudged. Onward they fought, eliminating undead crusaders who had so foolishly entered the lair alone, dragon hatchlings, and firejags with their ferocious tailwhips. All were defeated. As the forms finally stood before the dragon, and as they put on their gear which allowed them to withstand or at least weather the dragon's breath, the elder spoke up. There was a gleam in his eye.
"You all know what to do" his aged voice creaked slightly. "I'll be in there with you, fighting to the death if needs be. I know you're all tired. Vryce knows, I am. But we are on the cusp of something truly great. Give it your all. That's all I ask.". The elder nodded, slowly. The cleric raised the orb, casting sanctuary upon them all for the last expected time. A last check for fireshield on the dragon. None. The first form went in. Second. Third and fourth forms. Wave after wave pounding the dragon. A piercing wail emitted from the beast's mouth, wounding all severely, knocking many to their knees. Another wail. People thrown from the room. People getting crushed by his tail. Grimacing from his wounds at long last, bracing for another attack, the dragon fled up to the surface to regroup.
There was no celebration. Many were injured. The people didn't win. They had avoided destruction. And It had to be done again. Healing others, blessing themselves, calling upon their beliefs of good and evil, getting ready for another assault, they prepared. Almost back to full health, but still mentally weary, they launched up out of the lair up the chute and slammed into the dragon again. The behemoth was not prepared yet, he had not expected another rush so soon. Much damage was dealt, some rended the dragon with their Frostreavers and their Vigilances and their Mirrorblades, made from the hides of the dragon's brethren. Seeing this the dragon flew into a fit of rage and off to a nearby merchant town, where he could wreak massive destruction in his fury.
Again, the old man tipped back in his chair and smiled.
"Then what happened dad?" ask the little boy anxiously.
The father glanced into the room with the fireplace, and at his wife. "This is when I met your mother."
The boy's eyes opened wide. He hadn't heard this story either. It was like two stories in one for him! The son sat back and listened attentively.
The young man, no longer sure, slumped to the ground exhausted. He was tired. He was badly beaten up. His spirit and his drive were gone; he was ready to quit. Then felt a hand on his shoulder. It was not a man's hand. "Need help up?" the young hero asked. Too hurt to say no, he accepted. Her hand was delicate yet strong. She quietly prayed to the gods to help her heal him, bandaged him, and then looked into his eyes. The others were too busy gathering themselves to notice this brief exchange.
She whispered to him, "The way you conduct yourself when you lead is wonderful. You treat people like they are people, not just slaves to follow you around. I respect you for this." With that, she hurried off to her form, but he couldn't help but watch her as she ran off. He smiled. They could still do this. Far off in the distance there was a great struggle going on. Buildings were being ripped apart, set on fire, villagers were dying. It was time.
The forms made haste to the city, and immediately hit the dragon. His breath was devastating. Much time was spent recovering. They hit again, and again, each time more furiously then the last, but sunlight, and time, were running out. All the people of the town were gathered to one place, for one last beautifully horrible attempt on the dragon's life, before it was too late. They charged. Steel and talon clashed. A piercing wail, death cries. Fought on they did. Fothgolia barely clung to life, fighting with every ounce he had left. Then, silence. Darkness. The last rays of sunset slipped under the mountains; the last hope for the valiant slipped away, and Fothgolia: bleeding, sore, blackened; slid away into the night, and was never known again, but to Vryce. "This is the story of Fothgolia".
"In that final rush, a talon from Foth caught my face and tore it open. It took many weeks to heal such a gash, and I still have this to carry around, for the rest of my days."
The boy smiled. "What about mom?".
"Your mother was the one that stitched me up. She stayed with me and took care of me. We fell in love and got married shortly afterwards."
With this his wife came over and gave him a long hug, to the boy's disgust.
"Ewww, mushy stuff! How can you stand to DO that?!?!"
The old man peered at his son. "You'll understand when you get older" he said, smiling sagely. His son rolled his eyes and ran to his room. His wife smiled at the old man, and went back to what she was doing. And after telling his story, the one he had carried with him for his life, he sat back in his chair, and quietly faded off to dream.