August 24, 2000
The large, red dragon Cebrak awakens slowly, emerging from pleasant dreams of plunder, death and destruction, to find herself wrapped around a high, exposed pinnacle of rock, far above the forested valleys below. The intense heat of the sun slowly warms her massive body; she moves forward and upward, curling around the pinnacle so those portions of her body previously shadowed were exposed to the sun's enervating rays. Basking, her glistening ebon eyes half- lidded, she is tempted to slip back into that comfortable, chaotic dream-state from which she had just emerged. Something, however, was nagging at her, and a feeling of restlessness began to grow and intensify within her as she warmed.
Knowing that to try and resist the urge is useless; Cebrak rises from her bed of stone, talons scraping on the mountain's rocky surface. She stretches her mighty legs and elongated neck to remove the last of the stiffness that her long rest has acquired. Then, with the impulse to hunt growing stronger within her, she springs into the air with a single powerful lift of her crimson wings to begin an afternoon of hunting for her favorite kill, and greatest source of entertainment. Adventurers.
Scrying the sky and land, with keen eyes, she notices another beast airborne. One of her golden cousins, his majesty violated by his human rider, flying eastward towards the city of New Ashton. Shivering with disgust at the ruined beauty of her good-natured relatives, she thought of the gap between the different breeds. She hated the gold and silver dragons, not only for the laboring services they perform for the lesser creatures of the world, but they will even attack and kill other dragons, all for gold to add to their hoards. I will never stoop to such greedy devices, she thought, my breed only takes from the weak races what is ours by right. Their gold and their life.
Envisioning the fresh meat and plundered gold she will find in today's hunt, she continues her southward flight, quietly skirting around the edge of the mountain home of Vryce to avoid notice. Vryce, The lord of the gods, is a devoted supporter of dragon hunters, and is not the best being for her to gain the attention of if she wished to remain attached to her head. Not enjoying the thought of the many books and shields her hide would cover if detected, she turns her head toward the city of Riverton to scour the roads for hapless victims.
From her vantage, in the sky, Crekac surveys the landscape with her keen eyes, and soon sights her first prey. A lone merchant with covered wagon in tow, pursued by bandits intent on stealing his cargo. Completely distracted by the bandits, the man doesn't notice the dragon circling over head until her fearsome roar makes him look skyward. Crekac watches in delight as the man abandons his goods in fear for his life, and dashes for the safety of the forest. "Fear brings out the best flavor in meat," she thinks, as her reptilian lips curve into a malevolent smile. Tucking her wings to her body she begins her plummet toward the area of forest where the dragon fear first took effect on the man.
With the trees and earth rushing closer the ancient leviathan's long, dripping, forked tongue is already moist in anticipation for the fresh kill. Crashing through the canopy her gaping nostrils flare. The scent of human fear, nearly intoxicating to the winged titan, leaves an easy to follow trail through the densely forested wilderness. The dragon follows the trail, which leads due south, except where the man has zigzagged, trying to confuse the beast. Breaking through the underbrush in to a small clearing, she finds the warrior, who has run himself to a near collapse, standing defiantly over his bulging purses of gold. With sweat dripping from his forehead, the man's skin pales as the foetid breath of the dragon assaults him. Crekac, eyes glimmering with unholy light, knows that the pitiful manling is doomed to now fill her gullet. Drawing herself to full height she prepares to engulf the man within her great jaws, the stench of decay filling the air as she opens her mouth to receive the tasty morsel of manflesh.
But she is surprised when a signal from her 'meal to be' brings a fierce warcry of many voices from all sides of the clearing. She realizes the trap too late, as she sees the dragon hunter's badge fastened to the dark cloak of the man she had chased. Many more humans spring forward into the open, weapons drawn and spells being uttered.
Crekac, letting loose a howl of anger, knows her mistake; the easy prey has now become the deadly hunter. The band of charging humans, in their mismatched and dented armor, immediately attack at the command of her former prey, clearly labeling him as the leader of the assault.
The chance of her wining the battle has become much less with the new arrivals, eighteen in all, but too drunk with the greed for gold and the hate of man to care she lunges forward into the oncoming army. A warrior lunges at the colossal beast with his broadsword, only to be knocked - devastated and shattered to the ground by the dragon's massive tail. She disembowels another would be hero with her sword-like talons, and sends yet another scrambling backward with one less limb than when he approached.
But for every warrior who is dashed lifeless to the blood soaked ground by her blows, another breaks through her guard to render savage wounds into her flesh. Even the men she kills give her no satisfaction, for many of those who have died by return to the fray, their souls re-awakened in their bodies by the diligent prayers of the human healers.
By the sheer numbers of her foes, she is forced steadily backward, step by gory step. Until a lucky thrust from a female warrior's sturdy sword pierces through tough dragon hide, and into the lungs of the great obscenity, drenching the attacker with a splash of acid blood from the exhausted beast. As the acid blood burns the life force from the woman a pained smile forms on the her face, for the wound she had caused is a mortal one, even to the fearsome leviathan.
The sound of chanting voices fills the woods, as dark robed mages begin casting various incantations, sending the dragon staggering under the impact of fire, ice, and lightning. The deadly skill of the warriors and thieves has also taken its toll on Cebrak, and she realizes that the battle belongs to the humans. Her breathing becoming shallow, she knows she has but one chance to flee, and that chance is almost lost already.
With hatred and rage she charges her enemy, to gain room for her retreat, crushing a cleric tending to a fallen comrade, with a sickening, juicy crunch. Gathering her remaining strength Crekac launches into the air in a desperate attempt to break free to safety. With a fierce shriek of outrage, she is dashed to the earth by the bombardment of wizardry from the robed mages.
As her lungs fill with blood, Crekac surveys the carnage around the clearing with the last of her waning strength. The ground is soaked with blood, both hers and that of her human foes and the bodies of dead and dying heroes lay scattered around the areas where the battling had been most fierce. With a cruel smile, she exalts in the thought of the many men that have already died, and the many more that will follow her into death from the wounds she has left them.
Gasping for air, she watches with dwindling sight as the remaining warriors and spellcasters circle around her. The man she had hunted in the wilderness approaches her feeble form with his dragon hunter's badge shining with a godly light and a smirk of satisfaction on his face. Lifting his battle-axe high above his head the man looks down upon the evilness lying vanquished before him. He winks an eye and then smiles at the dragon. Then brings the axe swiftly down rending head from neck. As the magical light fades from her eyes the red dragon Cebrak is overcome by the darkness of death.
Cebrak embraces the darkness as she has done uncountable times before. Her memories are already beginning to fade into a fine skein joining the misty memories of countless others on the astral plain. Patiently she waits, neither existing nor gone. She knows that all she need do is but to rest and sleep. For soon the gods will rejuvenate the land and she will be summoned from her rest to find herself wrapped around a high, exposed pinnacle of rock, far above the forested valleys below, basking under the intense heat of the sun, and she shall recall dreams of plunder, death, and devastation.