Friday, May 30, 2014

The Cover Tale from Codex of Aihrde

All about the portico the battle raged, upon the mountain's slopes and in the skies above. Dragon fire ripped the evening skies. The clouds opened and rain fell, and lightning cut the skies, called by creatures great and small. Wicked blades of all shapes and sizes, spears and swords, all born into battle, wreaking havoc on flesh and bone. There was no order to the tumult, only madness and death.

And in the midst of it all stood Thorax, girded in armor of plate, fashioned of dragon bone, with the Sword of Embers in hand, wrapped in the Cloak of Red. Few could withstand his visage and all who tried, failed, dying upon his hellish blade. He laughed as he slew them, in all his beauty, he laughed and the sound of it carried far over the noise of the battlefield.

Thus Frafnog found him. Landing upon the rocky ground before the porch, that dragon, first born, stood before Thorax like a mountain. Thorax laughed at the dragon and pulled his head free of his helm and his hair fell, long and black upon slender shoulders. His eyes shone.

"At last beast. We meet. Too long have you lay hid and only rumor of you could I find."

The dragon rumbled deep in his chest and his eyes narrowed. In truth Frafnog had come into his prime, filled with the wisdom of age and the power of youth. He coiled around himself, his tail wrapping around a column and his long neck pulled back, much like an adder. "Aye." The dragon's voice was as a great slide of gravel over a rocky slope. "We meet at last. What measure must one take of the Red God to know his quality?"

"No measure made, dragon, charts the Red God.

But in him Frafnog could see strains of weakness, for Thorax had given much of himself in his minions, the Homeless House, diverting the Arc of Time and binding the Cloak of Red to him and the goblins not least of all. As the dwarves were want to say, "nothing comes of nothing" and Thorax the Red God had given so very much to the worlds of his creation.

"I see a measure, and you are less than you were so long ago. The world is lost to you."

A shadow of doubt passed the Red God and he frowned, the furrows on his brow marring his forehead. "Let us dance dragon and I'll show you the ire of the All Father!"

He leapt high, riding the terror of the Cloak of Red and the dragon balked, snapping his head to the side so that the blade cut its throat. Deep and burning the open wound bled and the blood spilled out, but Thorax did not wait to see what damage he wrought, but landing, turned and rent a gash in the dragon's leg and another in his chest. Agony shot through the mighty dragon, an agony of fire and hate, of loss and sorrow and the numbness of the Void for through the Sword of Ember flowd the power of the Red God. And these were wounds never fully healed and bothered the dragon ever after.Raising his fanged maw to the heavens his cry echoed the mountain slopes. Rocks slid down upon the portico and swept all that stood near into the doom of chaos below.

Thorax smote him again and the dragon reared upon his hind legs and came down on the earth with a mighty stomp. Such was his weight that the ground leapt, but as boulders flew high Frafnog pulled the column of the portico free and slammed his massive head and neck upon the roof of the All Father's house. All this threw the Red God high, he staggered back into the collapsing rubble, buried beneath the falling house. And Frafnog breathed upon the ruin. Beneath his breaththe stone melted, fusing Thorax into a prison, no mortal could ever hope to escape.

But the Red God was no mortal. Breathing life into the stone, it rose an image of himself, tall and terrible in its beauty and rained blows upon the dragon, driving him down and off the ledge. Frafnog rose swiftly on wings, and coiling his tail about the golem, hurled it to ruin in the rock below, smashing it to bits, so that pieces of the golem rolled and tumbled down into the lowlands, there harvested by sorcerers of later days. And Frafnog breathed again and Thorax threw up the Cloak of Red as a shield and the breath washed over it, like the sea a rock.

Thus the battle raged for many hours and all that came near to aid one or the other, fell victim to the chaos of the struggle. But in the end the Red God's Cloak frayed, for it was never only his, but made of the blood of Mordius and he enslaved it to his purpose. Time and again the dragon's breath washed over the Red God and time and again he smote the beast. But ever more the Cloak began to fray, pieces of it blasted away, taken by the winds to lands far and away. As the Cloak broke, so did the dragon bone armor and it melted, for no beast of his own kin could withstand the might of Frafnog, not living, or dead.

Shorne of his armor and cloak the Red God stood as naked before Frafnog and he knew fear. He saw the truth of his weakness, and the unspent might of his foes, and ever did he rue the day he gave of himself to the world and its peoples. But he was not destitute in the face of the dragon for he was of the All Father's first thoughts and his hidden desire and in him no creature, great or small, found the taste of victory. And the Red God rose in a mighty pyre of burning wind that cast back the shadow of the flame of the All Father as it burned when the Ember Sword cut his flesh. And Frafnog was taken aback, for that light reflected creation unsullied and the dragon knew fear. He balked, growling in rumbled rage, moving from the Red God for he knew then that no power of the world could defeat Thorax.

And Corthain came down from the heavens, unsullied and fresh, for he had not wet his blade on the blood of his enemies, deeming that his time had not come, and the Gonfod was not arrived. All fled before him or died at his hand as he waded through the morass of battle seeking his brother.

And Thorax saw him from afar and his pillar collapsed in of itself and in terror he fled from his brother, for he was sore to and spent from his contest with the dragon. His laughter gone, he left the dragon and Corthain and the battle behind. His host fell back as well. Everywhere terror reigned and they saw death or banishment in the eyes of Corthain and his people. They fled to the portal, back to the Wretched Plains, or into the world at large, to hide themselves from the hunters that followed them.

~The Codex of Aihrde,
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