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Old 01-18-2013, 03:10 PM   #25
Drizzt Do'Urden

Join Date: November 24, 2001
Location: Neverending Nights
Age: 48
Posts: 634
Default Re: Dragon Age: Life Begins With Death.

Quinn spoke the twisted words of magic, gesturing with one hand as the other clung to his staff for support. The words seemed to float between reality and dream, becoming almost ethereal sounding as they fell from his lips. When Quinn clenched his fist shut, the spell came to an end, and a small light appeared at the tip of Quinn’s staff.

The bleak caverns now illuminated by Quinn’s magic sent shadows dancing across the wall, like rats scurrying away from the light.

Seemingly melting out of the shadows, Berik suddenly appeared next to Quinn. “I found them,” Berik said with a certain amount of lack of emotion. “There’s lots of them.”

“Lots of who? Or what?” William asked, trying to get Berik to be more specific.

“People… and drakes… and… a dragon,” Berik said the last bit with a great amount of hesitation.

“A dragon? In here?” William asked, astonished. It made sense, where else would these people be getting the blood of a dragon?

Berik led them through the twisted maze of caves; his experience as an assassin allowed him to track anyone.

They soon came to a portion of the cave that widened. Standing there was none other than the innkeeper who William had run through with a sword. The innkeeper was there, holding the very same sword in his hand.

“I know you’re there,” the innkeeper said. “Just as I know the assassin snuck past me. I can smell you. Come – there is more to this than you know. There does not need to be any more fighting.”

William was about to take a step forward and come out of the dark, when Quinn placed his hand on the Grey Warden’s shoulder. “What are you doing?” he whispered frantically.

“Going out there,” William answered.

“This could be some kind of trap,” Quinn replied. “The innkeeper may be standing there, but there could be drakes ready to pounce on you at a moment’s notice.”

“We shall see,” William answered. “If anything happens, you know what to do.”

Quinn shook his head and released his hold on William’s shoulder.

William walked out into the light and stared at the innkeeper. “You say there is no more need for fighting, yet did you not try to abduct my comrades from the inn?”

“There was a reason,” the innkeeper assured him. “We believed you were here to slay the dragon. We needed to capture your comrades to use them to make you at least hear us out.”

“I am listening,” William shouted back.

“There is another who could explain things much more than I could,” the innkeeper said. “If you would all just follow me.”

“Follow you? Into a trap? Not likely,” William shook his head, folding his arms across his chest.

The innkeeper threw down his blade and kicked it across to William, putting his hands in the air. “I surrender myself to you. Put that sword to my neck, and sever it from my body if we ambush you. I merely wish to take you to someone who could explain things.”

William kneeled down and picked up the blade and put it to the innkeeper’s neck, who offered no resistance. William signaled to the others who came out of the dark.

The innkeeper led them through the dark tunnels, the same path that Berik had taken to find them. The cave opened up to a larger room, where there were rows upon rows of stables, all with drakes of varying ages within them. Some of the stables still had dragon eggs. As they continued down, there was a room where there was a dead drake, and the blood from it was being siphoned into seemingly countless vials.

The innkeeper led them into a circular room within the cave, where at the far end, a throne adorned in jewels rested; more startling was the dragon that laid its body around it, and a human who sat in the throne.

The human stood. “Hello, Grey Warden.”

William released the innkeeper by shoving him away. “What is the meaning of all of this?”

“All of this?” the human who sat at the throne smiled and gestured around him. “All of this as you say… is about immortality.”

“But,” the human added, folding his arms behind his back. “That was not always the case. In the beginning this was about finding my place in the world when the Blight ended.”

“The Blight has not ended,” William corrected. “If anything, it is more powerful now than it ever was before. Ostagar has fallen to the Darkspawn. Teyrn Loghain has betrayed the Grey Wardens and turned on us. Claiming we are the ones who betrayed King Cailan who fell in the battle of Ostagar.”

“Teyrn Loghain?” the human seemed to take the name into consideration. “I know not who this Teyrn Loghain is. Or King Cailan.”

“How can you not?” William asked. That’s when William took note of the human’s armor. He wore the symbol of the Grey Wardens. But one… William had not seen before.

As if reading William’s thoughts, the human touched the emblem on his chest. “Ah yes, I was a Grey Warden once, much like you. My rise came during the time that Zazikel awoke.”

“Zazikel?” William asked, confused. “That’s impossible. Zazikel was the Rise of the Second Blight. That was…”

“A long time ago,” the human nodded. “Yes. I remember when we got the reports that the Darkspawn had obliterated Nordbotten. I remember aligning with the Free Marches and Orlaians to help defend them against the Darkspawn under the command of Emperor Kordillus. I remember, as if it were only yesterday, the victory at the Battle of Cumerland, and the true, final battle in Starkhaven. I remember the Thaw Hunt afterwards. Chasing the fleeing Darkspawn into the Deep Roads. We slaughtered every Darkspawn we came across.”

The human, as if suddenly aged, sat down on his throne. He looked up at William. “But what then? What do you do when you have found every last Darkspawn? What do you do when your whole life was being a Grey Warden? What do you do when you no longer hear the Calling within your head? The silence… it was deafening. Almost… maddening!”

“I needed a new purpose to my life,” the human said, standing up suddenly. “I began hunting down dragons.”

Then it struck William. If this human was indeed from the Second Blight, and the Dragon Hunter who had become known in the Grey Wardens… “You’re Gabriel from the Grey Wardens…”

“Ah,” Gabriel smiled. “So my name was remembered.”

“You became renowned for your dragon hunting, after the second Blight,” William said, almost disbelieving the words of belief were falling from his own lips. “Some have gone as far as crediting you for the reason so few dragons exist now.”

“Yes,” Gabriel sat down again, resting his arms on the jeweled throne. “That was before I saw my error. The dragons have attacked man, because man hunted down dragons. The Dragons are peaceful. They seek to only exist as we do. They hunt as we do. Granted,” he shrugged, “they have been known to prey on our farm animals… but they are hunters, just as we are. We have gone about this all wrong. We could have a symbiotic relationship with the dragons. Could you imagine their power behind the Grey Wardens?”

Gabriel clenched his fists. “We would be unstoppable.” Gabriel seemed to come back to reality and looked at William. “But you’re no doubt wondering how I can still be alive… after so long?”

Gabriel smiled. “When I killed the first dragon after the Second Blight, I duplicated the Joining Process – but with the Blood of the Dragon I had slain. I thought to myself, if drinking the Blood of the Darkspawn allows us to hear their Calling; perhaps I could drink the blood of a Dragon and hear them.”

Gabriel seemed to drift off into thought, recalling those days now long gone. He smiled again, then looked at William. “As it turned out… I could hear them. This led me to dragon after dragon. I killed each and every one of them. But it was not until I came across Diskeria,” he gestured to the Dragon behind him, who raised her head slightly, “that I truly heard the Dragons. I… had not realized that each time I heard the Dragons… I could do what no one else could… I could understand them. Their roars were … words to me. But in the heat of battle… I did not listen… not until Diskeria.”

“The Dragons are not evil,” Gabriel shook his head. “They have only attacked after countless years and centuries of man hunting them down… just as I had. Diskeria showed that to me. She was the first that could have killed me… after years and years of killing dragons… I was wearing down… she could have killed me so easily… instead, she pinned me beneath her claws… I waited for her to rend my flesh from my bones… instead, she spoke to me… told me to listen to her… to truly listen.”

“She told me that they were not evil… she shared her thoughts… she’s… thousands of years old… she showed me how man has hunted her and her children… slain them… because they perceived dragons to be evil… to be dangerous… she said she wanted to use me as an avatar, so to speak… to be the human that reaches out to others… to show them that we have nothing to fear from Dragons…” Gabriel explained. “So when a band of survivors fleeing a Darkspawn attack nearly froze on these mountains, it was Diskeria who told me of them… she sensed them on her mountain… I went to them, and helped them… brought them to Diskeria’s lair… to show them… they took part of the Joining, using the Dragon Blood, so that they could hear her… understand her… and so Nahash was founded.”

Gabriel frowned. “Admittedly, much like the Grey Warden Joining… there are some who… do not survive the process. There have been others… whose bodies… changed, because of the Joining. But over all, it has been successful. As the years turned, imagine my surprise when I found… I was not aging. Something in the Dragon’s blood that allows them to live centuries had carried over into mine, from when I had originally done the first Joining process with the Dragon’s blood.”

Gabriel rose, “As these others have, that you see before you. Some of them, though they look no more than a mere twenty years of age, are well over two hundred years old.” Gabriel began to pace back and forth, “As an added bonus,” Gabriel continued, “the song of the Darkspawn Calling began to subside as the years went on. The Dragon Blood had… cured me, for lack of a better word, of the incessant sound of The Calling.”

Gabriel heaved a deep sigh, smiling contently, “So in short, it has cured me of the Calling… it has granted me immortal life… or at least a very, very, very extended life… it has allowed me to understand the Dragons… do you not see, Grey Warden, all the benefits there is to this mutual relationship that we have developed with the Dragons?”

Gabriel looked over the group and stopped when his eyes met Quinn’s. “If you don’t believe me, ask your Blood Mage friend there. I can hear the blood in his veins. Comrades, it would seem, who you defeated and killed… and he did his magic to absorb their blood… to strengthen him… and it has done so, has it not, my friend?”

William turned to look at Quinn questioningly. Quinn’s eyes went from Gabriel, to William, and back to Gabriel. “It’s true,” Quinn said. “Already I can feel the Dragon’s Blood healing my body.”

Gabriel sat down on the jeweled throne again. “My apologies for our rough beginning,” Gabriel gestured to the innkeeper, “but when he saw the emblem of the Grey Warden on his chest, he assumed you were here to put an end to our utopia. We merely sought to capture your comrades, so that you would at least give us a chance to explain ourselves. So what of it, Grey Warden? Will you join us? Or leave us in peace? Or will you seek to destroy us?”

William paused.

He knew not what to do…
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