The Mist of the Night

In the beginning, there was nothing. Nothing roamed the great plains of the North. Nothing inhabited the swamps and mountains of the East. The Deserts of the South was barren of all life.

Then came the mist.

Out of the Night it formed. Swirling and congealing into vague shapes. Never holding solid form for very long. We can only now guess about the origin of the mist. Some say it was the breath of one of the great gods. Or even the creating of JLH, the high god of all. But whatever the origins, the mist brought life.

Coming out of the great plains of the North, the mist created wolves, bears, magic creatures, and all sorts of good things. Traveling throughout the lands, it deposited good creatures in its wake. From the North, to the East, travelling South, eventually settling in the West, the mist created.

After it settled in the West, the mist grew, day by day, it grew soon becoming so thick, the animals could no longer walk in and out of it. Than, on the 4th night, a new set of creatures walked forth from the mist. The adventurers of the land had been born. But the mist wasn't done yet. Slowly it allowed itself to form into great buildings, and streets. Finally, the mist was gone, all that remained was a great town, beckoning new travelers and adventurers.

Life prospered in the town, adventurers came, than left. The town was dubbed Nightmist by the people, naming it after its origins. As life went on, the people began to spread out. Rangers and Druids foraged ahead into the wilderness, the Knights, Paladins, and Clerics civilizing the land behind it. Soon the towns of Cloud City and Northkeep popped up on the maps. Trade flourished, and the good people were happy for many years.

But not all the people were honest and happy. Along with the expansions of the new communities, the dark underside of the world showed forth. Assassins started killing people on their ways from the towns, and thiefs took gold from traveling merchants. But the people counteracted and posted guards, and soon things fell into a balance. Until one assassin went to far.

Along with good, always comes bad. So is true in medicinal discoveries. Along with healing potions, came poisons. Most were essentially harmless, used just to stun unwary prey so they were easier to rob, but one fellow decided to take things to far. He created a potion tainted with his own evil essence, though, not being powerful enough, and not naturally gifted with magical powers, could do nothing to amplify it. But, in order to try it out, he went and waited in ambush one day. As luck would have it, a powerful druid, Norinth, and his bride to be SilverFyre were walking down the road, and Norinth was wounded from behind by the tainted dagger of the assassin. As he fell to the ground, he called forth the power of lightning to kill the assassin, not realizing the antidote would die with him.

SilverFyre, being the naturally gifted healer she was, tried her hardest to remove the poison, but the taint was so strong, it had soon blended with the heart of the good druid. As he died, a change happened. His skin turned grey, his hair grew wilder, and he arose. No longer a powerful and good druid, but now an undead Druid, with a power seemingly amplified by evil.

Norinth unleashed havoc, killing many people, creating horrors like goblins, and ogres to terrorize the good people. Soon, once good citizens began to defect, turning their lives into evil rampages with only greed and evil itself to keep them going. Many battles were fought between the forces of good and evil. Brother fought Brother, Mother fought Son, Sister fought Father. None were exempted by the all out assault upon the lands.

During one battle, the forces of good were under siege in the city of Northkeep. The mages had a protective shield placed against the stones, and lightnings from the sky, and the paladins and knights fought the undead outside the city. The battle raged for days, until the Druid Norinth appeared at the head of his forces, protected by a barrier of pure evil. Calling forth a swarm of deadly drones, he charged at the city, but was suddenly blasted back by a beam of light. From the gates of Northkeep, a mage stepped forward. In a booming voice, he announced,"Evil shall not corrupt this world, I may not be able to kill you, but I will die trying!"

With those words, the mage Ewin unleashed a magical assault never seen by anyone before. Norinth countered blow after blow, but was losing, and losing fast. In a desperate attempt, he sent his general Kalados in to try to assassinate this new threat, along with his pet Ssilx, and evil dragon of great bloodthirst. Seeing the danger to their protector, the defenders of Northkeep rallied out onto the fields. Combining their powers, they let loose a great Flame of Fire upon the evil forces.

When the smoke cleared, they found Norinth had magically teleported himself, and his generals away from the battlefield. The evil had fled, good had prevailed. The price was heavy however. In defeating Norinth, Ewin and his allies had burnt half of the plains into a dismal waste, where fire twisted creatures roamed, looking for someone, or something, to put them out of their misery.

That wasn't always the case in all the battles however. Memorable battles in places like Pern Valley were fought where evil dominated, and soon overran the place.

But, soon, balance was restored. The lands were still in a constant conflict, good forces against evil, but no more great battles were fought, no more major victories for either side have been won.

But there is no end to the age old story. Plots are being formed every day, adventurers trying their skills against the evil, and the evil against the good. Perhaps good will once again embrace the entire land, healing the scars, or maybe evil will succeed in destroying everything. Only time will tell.

The Wrath of Kyriarchia

For farmer Jebediah, it was a normal morning; as usual, he woke up before sunrise to milk his cows and collect the eggs from his chickens. It was a simple life, just as he liked it; he preferred not to get involved with petty battles or go loot a cave on the outskirts of his village - in fact, if he didn't go to church on a Sunday, he would never leave his farm, having more than enough food to feed himself and his family and to supply the village. He inhaled a lungful of fresh morning air and faced the East to enjoy the sun rising above the horizon, and closed his eyes and let himself be bathed in its warmth. It was the last thing he did before a massive black dragon swooped over the mountain and bathed farmer Jebediah in his own warmth. With most of the population still in their beds, Kyriarchia razed the entire village before anyone could even look out of their windows.

"They dare defile our land," Kyriarchia growled to his lieutenant as he touched down outside a mountain cave. "I don't understand why the dragon queen doesn't teach them manners herself," his lieutenant added, equally disgusted at the behaviour of such lesser species; "not only do they pillage our loot, but they fight amongst themselves when they have it. They have no fear, no respect for the dragons, or nature." "Worry not, Icewing," Kyriarchia grinned, stretching his legs and tail; "the realm will be cleansed of the lesser species in due course." "What of the dragons that don't see it your way?" Icewing queried, "There are many that do, but I have my ways to persuade those unsure of our crusade; but those who still wish to side with the lesser species will be treated as equals to them, as are all traitors to dragon blood." Icewing knew exactly what this meant and bared grime-covered, sword-length teeth in anticipation.

Elsewhere, the noble purple dragon queen, Borealis, brooded over Kyriarchia's extremism. She could understand a retaliatory strike against a group of pillagers or dragonslayers and, like her predecessors, was willing to turn a blind eye, but she was becoming more and more troubled by the frequency of Kyriarchia's indiscriminate attacks. Both Borealis and Australis had an element of respect for the humanoid races, despite their apparent barbarianism, due to their ability to adapt to so many different environments and situations, often using ingenious methods. One thing that really made Australis smile in particular were Druids and Shamans who took good care of Mother Nature and all of Her creations when utilising what She had to offer. Indeed, Australis stumbled upon a group of Druids once willing to share information about their culture, and he felt obliged to return the favour. Humanoids are so misunderstood, he thought.

She was discussing with Australis, feeling bitter because she kept ruling out a direct confrontation, how to deal with this angry dragon, when Borealis' messenger, a young green dragon, arrived to announce that Kyriarchia had attacked another settlement - this time, an Elven village in a deeply rural valley. Coincidentally, it was near to where Australis had met those Druids, and he knew it! "First the human farming community and now an innocent Elven village; mother, they respected the dragons, you can't turn a blind eye to this," he growled furiously. "Remember your place, Australis; don't you dare challenge your queen," she snapped her jaws on Australis' tail, causing him to yelp and back down with drooped ears. Despite being fully-grown, he did not wish to try fighting his mother.

"Legatus," she called to her messenger. "My queen," the green dragon lowered his head. "Find Kyriarchia - tell him that his queen demands he stop attacking and his presence is requested immediately." "Yes, my queen," Legatus bowed again and took to flight. "Australis," she turned to her son, nuzzling a bruised tail; he looked at her worried, but Borealis simply helped nurse the tender scales. "You may be right, son... Kyriarchia is becoming dangerous." "I loved those Elves," Australis said sadly, almost crying like a humanoid, thinking of the Druids he met.

A few days had passed, and other messenger dragons were reporting that Kyriarchia and his tatsu were still attacking humanoid settlements. Borealis figured that Legatus had been unsuccessful in convincing him to stop, but he should have arrived back by now. Just then, a deafening roar echoed around their home and Icewing swooped overhead, dropping something that bounced and rolled to Borealis' feet - it was the severed head of Legatus. She let out a shriek of horror and animosity, causing the other dragons to back away from their queen in fear.

"Summon all of the dragons that have not been turned by Kyriarchia," she ordered her nearest lieutenant. As he bowed and took to flight, Australis looked upon his mother and queen apprehensively. "The dragons are at war," she growled, snorting smoke and flexing her purple wings angrily.

The Coming of the Second Mist

Only a few thousand dragons came to Borealis' call; too many had been corrupted by Kyriarchia or were simply unable to fight for one reason or another. Borealis tried not to show her dismay, but it was seen by Australis, who bravely marched up to the tatsu of dragons and stood at their side.

"No, you won't fight, Australis," Borealis attempted to discourage her son from joining them in battle. "You must survive this war to continue our bloodline." "Mother, forgive me for talking against you... if you want to save the realm and ensure the continuation of our noble blood, you need every willing dragon at your side, including this one. The females will fight for their queen to the death, so I cannot continue our bloodline while the battle rages." Though Borealis saw plenty of loopholes in his argument that could be exploited, she knew too well that the odds were not in their favour and a powerful red dragon like her son would be a great asset for them. "Just don't die, my son," Borealis looked upon him admirably but fearfully. "I won't, my queen," he replied.

With a synchronised battle-roar, the dragons took to flight, lead by the dragon queen Borealis, flanked by Australis and other lieutenants as they flew in formation to the mountains where Kyriarchia and his own tatsu awaited. A number of young humanoid children laughed and pointed up excitedly at the huge formation, and so did some adults, although most of them knew something very bad was about to happen and immediately started making preparations to leave.

As Borealis approached Kyriarchia's dwelling, the chaotic evil dragon's own tatsu revealed itself from the shadow of the mountain, outnumbering Borealis at least three to one. Both leaders faced each other off for what seemed like an eternity, hovering in mid-air and probing each other for weaknesses. It was Borealis who first broke the silence, trying one last act of diplomacy. "This can't go on, Kyriarchia; dictatorship and fear over the realm will not bring it peace." "And neither will leaving it rot under its own corruption," he rebuffed, unmoved. "The humanoids have their quarrels, but it is not our place to interfere with their affairs. We can still teach them without dominating over them." "Humans, Elves, Dwarves... they raid our caves, pillage our loot, and then fight over it, and any of those rare individuals that try to bring order to their species either get silenced or become corrupted themselves. The untouchable creators could bring order to the species, but the fools choose not to." "Who are we to question our creators, Kyriarchia?" "I don't question them, I show them how it is done, and nothing, not even the revered dragon queen, will stand in my way." Realising it was hopeless to convince Kyriarchia otherwise, there was no choice but to fight fire with fire; Borealis and Kyriarchia both attacked each other with fireballs almost at the same time, and that was the cue for all the other dragons to engage each other.

Those people who had not seen the dragons, Elves and humans alike, were puzzled at the exceptionally active aurora that was colouring their skies, unaware of the epic battle several hundred miles away that was forming it. Soon though, an aurora would be the least of their worries, for the combined might of several thousand dragons locked in mortal combat with no restraint on the energies they wielded started to have side-effects. A constant rain of fire fell upon the land, already torn to pieces by the earth dragons, slowly breaking the crust until jets of lava erupted from the exposed mantle and consumed large chunks of land in an instant. These sudden volcanic blasts took many of the warring dragons by surprise and killed a great number of them; Borealis and what was left of her tatsu were reluctant to continue fighting and were prepared to surrender to save what was left of the land they had sworn to protect, but Kyriarchia was taking no prisoners, forcing the demoralised dragons to fight on.

As the days wore on, more and more of the land was being destroyed, not by dragons, but by the spreading lava fields and the depressurisation of the planet. Most of the humanoid races had been killed in the process or had managed to evacuate to a neighbouring land mass, although it won't be long before that one is consumed too. One brave group of humanoids of all races, including natural enemies like Drow and High Elf, ventured across the lava fields to the edge of the battle zone. A single Elven Druid stepped forward, her face charred and her lungs heavily damaged from the fumes, and called out to the dragons using mostly psychic means, begging for them to stop fighting. Icewing, previously engaged with Australis, decided to use the group as target practice, launching a fireball in their direction. Australis dived in front of the group and took the full force of the attack, collapsing out of the sky and landing on his back nearby, breaking the small island that they stood upon. Too injured to pick himself up, he looked towards the Druid and her group and shed a dragon tear. "I'm so sorry for this," his voice echoed in their minds, before the island broke apart completely and all were consumed, but not before the Druid cried out "Mother Goddess".

Borealis, seeing the fall of her son, flew into a rage and immediately attacked Icewing, not bothering to use her fire-flack, but more content to simply tear him to shreds with her bare claws, which she did effortlessly, keeping him alive long enough to feel the pain of Australis and the rest of their brethren. Not satisfied with just slaying Icewing, she charged head-long into Kyriarchia's army with no regards to own well-being. All was lost now, but she sure would not let Kyriarchia rule over what was left. In the end though, despite the valiant effort portrayed by Borealis and her tatsu, even a pyrrhic victory was looking unlikely, for now only the two great leaders themselves were still airborne.

The very battle to save the realm was destroying it, inciting the gods themselves to intervene. With almost the entire continent now an uninhabitable wasteland, a new storm began to form in the stratosphere, one of creation and destruction, one that would soon be known as the Second Mist. Borealis, exhausted with her purple scales blackened by volcanic ash, knew what was coming, being a hatchling during the closing days of the First Mist; while she was willing to accept her fate to save the realm, Kyriarchia would have none of it.

Just when Borealis thought she had seen all that Kyriarchia had to show, he unleashed a terrifying shriek and sprouted a second pair of wings, white and celestial in stark contrast to his jet-black corporeal pair. His body crackled with lightning and Borealis got a very brief glimpse of not the Kyriarchia she knew, but of something skeletal and demonic. His four wings flapped in unison and he snorted a stream of blue flame towards the descending mist. Initially, the mist around them started to disperse, but it soon clouded over them again as the gods fought back against this powerful entity. Somehow sharing his fire-flack between both his nostrils and his mouth, three jets of blue flame now converged on the mist, dispersing it again momentarily. The mist everywhere else had descended below their altitude now, and only Kyriarchia's sheer power was preventing the abyss below him from being cleansed with the rest of the land. As the mist started to gain the upper hand once more, his flame turned as black as the void and tainted the resisting mist, colouring it crimson. Borealis, who up until now could only watch in horror, suddenly found an urge to help her creators, and she charged him; concentrating so much on the new celestial threat, Kyriarchia could not retaliate against his nemesis. Borealis clasped her body around him and the pair plummeted into the great fiery chasm below as the red mist finally drew level with the untainted green mist to terraform the realm once more. The Second Mist had come.

Australis stirred and felt his wing spasm. He was dazed and his senses were confused, but he knew that he was not dead. As his vision cleared, he found himself on his back looking up at a clear blue sky with song-birds circling above him, singing their melody; that was when he felt the soft grass against his scales, and the delicate Elven hand rubbing him tenderly. He rolled away from the touch onto his paws a bit more abruptly than he intended, but the Elf was not scared by his movement. Instead, she looked on curiously. It was the same Elven Druid that he saved.

"I owe you a life debt, great one," she spoke sincerely, kneeling before him. Australis was still a bit puzzled though. "Why are we still alive?" he asked her. "We perished in the earthly fires, great one, and were reborn from the Mist." "What is this place?" "We call this place simply the meadow, great one, and the city to the sun is the new human capital of the realm, Nightmist." she answered. It was just then that Australis saw construction work in the distance behind a line of trees. "Most knew better than to disturb you, great one," the Druid went on. "I'm no great one, not like my mother," Australis wasn't sure how he knew of Borealis plunging Kyriarchia into the depths of hell. "My name is Australis. What is yours?" "The humans simply call me 'Elf'." Australis smiled at the simplicity and beauty of her name. "Your mother, Borealis, made a great sacrifice to save our realm, but I fear it is not the end. Both are trapped in the underworld, and I'm sure Kyriarchia will try again to rule what is not his." "Make sure our story is not forgotten, Elf." "It won't be, Australis," she reassured, "the great scholar, Bishop Dragontongue, has already written about it. Everyone in the group who ventured to the battle were blessed with the dragons' memories as well as another chance, but Mr. Dragontongue has unparalleled knowledge and respect of the great ones." Australis sniffed the fresh air and smiled, glad that such a battle had brought on a victory in its own right.

"I must see the new realm, but there is one thing I would like you to do for me, Elf," he asked her. "Anything, great one," she eagerly listened; Australis chose not to react to being called 'great one' again. "Ensure that the humans do not desecrate this meadow; it is a beautiful place." "I guarantee it... Australis."

Australis stood fully upright and flexed his gigantic wings, ready to take off. Elf ran and hugged his right forepaw affectionately; he gently nuzzled her head in response then took to flight. Elf looked on, smiling, before picking up an acorn that was underneath Australis when he was unconscious, she looked it, then reburied it and summoned a small sprinkling of water over it.

"Grow strong, little acorn, for you will be the Oak Tree of Australis," she blessed the acorn.