Ashaxei's Story

EVENTS NEWS #391
Date: 10/26/2012 at 05:02
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Ashaxei's Story

With the death of his oldest friend, Ashaxei, Han-Tolneth sobbed and
wept like a broken man. Inconsolable, he urged the Achaeans around him
to search for the site where the Dragon fell, hoping beyond reason that
she might yet live. But when he laid eyes upon the giant crater where
much of El'Jazira had been, he knew she was gone.

Han-Tolneth raged and shouted to all who would listen that the scales
had been tipped this day, and that only blood would balance them again.
Finally his grief overcame his anger. Calm but disheartened, he began to
speak of secrets that he and Ashaxei had long kept from the world. Over
one hundred adventurers stood, silent, hearing for the first time the
story of how Dragons came to be.

~ ~ ~

"She was my friend, my closest companion," Han-Tolneth started, speaking
of the white Dragon with reverence. "The very soul of Dragonhood. And
now she's parted the Veil for the last time, hunted for the last time,
bestowed Dragonhood on her last mortal. The world is poorer for it."

"But Ashaxei also had her secrets," continued the Dragonmaster, taking a
deep breath. "When Ayar created the universe, He built its most
fundamental foundations around what we call the Fire Behind the Flame.
Few mortals have heard even rumour of its existence, and the Gods
themselves only learned of it when Agatheis summoned forth the Flame of
Yggdrasil. I and the other Aldar only learned of it when I encountered
the great Dragons before the battle at Nishnatoba. It was that day I met
Ashaxei."

Han-Tolneth's voice broke as he spoke the name of his companion, but
bravely he continued, explaining the nature of the Fire behind the
Flame, which underpins the spark of life itself. Without it, he
emphasised, the universe would be nought but Ayar and unliving minerals
and gases. Even the Gods depend upon it for their very existence. The
Aldar learned of all this and more when they encountered Dragons for the
first time, for tied to the Flame's creation was an extraordinary side
effect, though whether it was intended or not remains unknown. As the
Fire Behind the Flame was brought into being, so were two races of
creatures, one familiar to mortalkind as Dragons, and another, not
encountered until recently: the Dala'myrr.

"On the world of Starhome, or 'Krenindala' in the language of Dragons,
they were born," spoke Han-Tolneth, his voice filled with awe. "Opposite
poles of the power of the Fire. Or, perhaps, two sides of the key to the
logical order of the power of the Fire. Somehow, the Dragons and
Dala'myrr, perhaps both or perhaps just one of them, seem to be tied
into maintaining the delicate web of perfect push and pull, ebb and flow
of the basest of powers.

"Now, as you know, there are many colours of Dragon. But in the
beginning there was only one white Dragon: Sycaerunax, Ashaxei's father.
I never had the honour of meeting him, but Ashaxei told me much of him.
It was within Sycaerunax that the very essence... the soul of Dragonhood
resided.

"As for the Dala'myrr, it is more complicated. There was, as far as
Ashaxei knew, no equivalent to her or her father amongst them.

"What the Dala'myrr believed, and of this the knowledge of Dragons is
very limited, was that the soul of their race awaited them in some
distant future. Ashaxei spoke of this future soul as having a name:
Bal'met. They think, Ashaxei believed, of Bal'met as the one true God,
and that He is willing them, from the future, to summon Him into
existence, so that He might will them to summon Him, so that they may
summon Him, and so on."

As bystanders looked at each other with puzzled expressions, Han-Tolneth
gave a rueful smile. "I don't pretend to understand the apparent
paradox," he cautioned, "but the Dala'myrr are singularly devoted to
this goal. They believe, in fact, that Bal'met is literally the future
incarnation of the Fire Behind The Flame, and that they are the perfect
expression of it and Him."

"As for the ormyrr that you've encountered, they appear to be to
Dala'myrr as a caterpillar is to a butterfly." At these words, a few
snorts of bemusement could be heard from the crowd.

"That comparison has limited utility," he added. "Few ormyrr survive
long enough to become Dala'myrr, and as far as Ashaxei was aware, only
the eldest of the ormyrr priesthood undergo the ritual of
transformation."

From the start, Han-Tolneth related, Dragons and Dala'myrr were bitter
enemies. Dragons, with their power of flight, ruled the skies of
Starhome. Confined to the planet's surface and interior were the ormyrr
and Dala'myrr: giant wyrms who could burrow with ease through solid
rock. For ages, all was kept in balance.

"And then," sighed Han-Tolneth, "Elara began using her piece of the
sceptre of divinity, searching for Lysithea. She probed numerous worlds
before disappearing, but none of us knew where she went. Everybody
assumed she had perished. On encountering Ashaxei and the Dragons, she
told us their story, and the pieces fit.

"When Elara was taken by the ormyrr, they stripped her of her piece of
the sceptre. They appear to have given it to the Dala'myrr, who used it
to grant themselves the power to burrow through the air... or,
effectively, to fly. With this ability, the Dala'myrr were able to
quickly begin the process of overwhelming the Dragons."

Soberly Han-Tolneth continued. "It was clear that Krenindala was lost to
Sycaerunax, his now-daughter Ashaxei, and the rest of their kin. Their
numbers had been decimated and they had no refuge from the constant
Dala'myrr assaults. Sycaerunax, seeing that all was lost, prepared to do
something he had never attempted.

"In his desperation, he summoned all his inner reserves and the essence
of Dragonhood itself. Focusing his battle-forged iron will, he began to
feel -behind- the air, seeking to grasp the very fabric of reality. For
tense minutes, Ashaxei and the others waited and watched.

"Finally, success! A thunderous roar accompanied by the alien sound of
existence being split asunder, and a rift appeared, ragged with
cascading energy. Sycaerunax had done it, and his people were filled
with sudden, unexpected hope.

"And at just that moment, the Dala'myrr launched what would be their
final assault on the Dragons of Starhome. The Dragonfather ordered
Ashaxei and the other Dragons to flee, now!

"Sycaerunax and his chief lieutenants were able to hold off the
Dala'myrr, but suffered terribly for it and began to fall as the Dragons
poured one by one through the small rift.

"Ashaxei often used to relate the last memory she had of her father,"
Han-Tolneth said, brushing a tear from his eye. "Of seeing him swarmed
by Dala'myrr, their mandibles clacking in hellish triumph. Both of his
wings were torn, he bled from wounds all about his body, and one eye had
been taken by a Dala'myrr claw.

"His eyes met hers for one last moment before he closed the portal,
saving the last of the Dragons with his life. With his death, the soul
of Dragonhood passed to Ashaxei, but neither she nor any of her fellow
Dragons knew where they were, for there had been no time. She was never
even sure if her father had known where the rift would lead to, but
anywhere was better than in the eye of the Dala'myrr storm.

"Ashaxei and her kin were devastated. Lost... ashamed... they had left
behind the soul of their race to die, and fled their rightful
homeworld." Wistfully, Han-Tolneth turned his eyes to the skies, telling
of his first encounter with the Dragons during the War of Humanity, and
his initial fear that they were an attack by the Triumvirate.

"It was quickly clear that wasn't the case, however," he explained.
"They were tattered and beaten down. Their wings were shredded and many
had missing scales. And yet the power in them was immense and
immediately obvious."

Han-Tolneth was filled with awe as he exclaimed, "They were so vital! So
primal! Even in the depths of her anguish, Ashaxei shone like the
brightest star in the firmament.

"They told us their story. They told us of their creation, of their
enemies, and of their world. Ashaxei wept. They all did. The only
patriarch they'd ever known was dead, and Krenindala, their birthplace
and homeworld since nearly the beginning of time, was lost to them. And
we told them our story. We told them of the Gods, and of the
Triumvirate.

"We resolved to help each other. We would convince the Gods to grant
them a new home, while they would lend their strength to the war against
the Triumvirate after a short period to recover their strength and heal
their wounds. And we would hide their shame."

As he concluded his words, Han-Tolneth's steady voice became stronger,
angrier. "Ashaxei's soul cries out for vengeance!" he lamented. "Her
thirst must be sated! The scales must be balanced!"

~ ~ ~

The story told by the Dragonmaster had stunned all witnesses into
silence, but Han-Tolneth was not finished. "Four hundred years ago, when
the xoran appeared on Sapience after the Death's Heart incident, I took
note, but thought it simply another mystery in a universe of them," he
said. "But it's clear now that they are related. How they got here four
hundred years ago, I do not understand, but I wager their story is not
finished."

As the shock of Han-Tolneth's words began to wear off, onlookers began
to pledge their assistance, swearing vengeance against the Dala'myrr
assassins. Eagerly, multiple bands of travellers began to journey north,
to the tundra where the portal to Krenindala still stood open.

There they faced more than a hundred ormyrr who had been brought into
position outside the portal. Assault after assault was launched against
the intruders, but the results were devastating for the Achaeans. Though
they took many ormyrr with them, they perished in great numbers.

Seeing that a quick assault on Krenindala was impractical or impossible
for the time being, Han-Tolneth's thoughts turned again to his despair.
Amami Al'Jafri kindly led the grieving Celani back to El'Jazira, where
they found Dortheron Covraci awaiting among survivors from the desert
village. Drawing comfort from both Amami and Dortheron, Han-Tolneth made
his way into the crater.

Wandering among the crystalline formations jutting from the earth in the
crater, feeling the lingering spirit of his fallen companion,
Han-Tolneth put forth his will and raised a flowing glass construction
from the sand: Ashaxei's Mirror, a monument to the beloved Dragon's
memory.

Penned by My hand on the 1st of Lupar, in the year 609 AF.