“Not many people–in fact, only a handful–are aware of the mythology of the dragons,” said Magnus the Heretic Sorcerer as he cut his way through the jungle, his party just behind him, “Not just is it a pity because it is a beautiful tale, but it also means that the dragons themselves have begun to forget such things.”
The humid jungle surrounded the hardened group of adventurers. They had been traveling for days by foot, literally cutting their way through the vines, ferns and the occasional monster that leaped out at them or stole into their camp at night.
“But, first, you need to understand the difference between a wyrm, a drake, a wyvern and a dragon,” Magnus stopped to catch his breath. He wiped a corner of his robe’s sleeve across his forehead and it came off wet. He did not seem to notice though and continued lecturing, “A wyrm has no legs nor wings, a drake has two legs and two wings, a wyvern is a big drake, and a dragon–the pinnacle of the species–has four legs and two wings, and a much greater size than the others. And, each dragon is tied to an element, fire, or sub-element, like ice, and giving them powers and the ability to breath that element. Fire is the most common, but water, ice, earth, air, and so on all exist.”
As if the Narrator was waiting for a convenient pause, suddenly primitive screams erupted around them. They were under attack, again! Tattooed jungle-kobolds rose from the foliage and swung down the ancient vines upon the adventures. Poisoned darts whizzed by them as Magnus began to conjure, Squok the Barbarian leaped into the midst of them with his axe swinging and Shiv the Shifty One disappeared with her trusty dagger in hand…
“In the beginning,” Magnus started up again, panting while wiping the blood off his staff as Shiv reappeared, her daggers sheathed already, “In the beginning, there was the Grass Dragon. The Grass Dragon was one of a kind. The only dragon in the world. It could change colour, but they called it the Grass Dragon because when it was not blending into its surroundings, it was the colour of the greenest grass. It was a delicate being, but a very intelligent one too.”
After consulting the old map they had, the adventurers were now moving on. They would leave the corpses of the jungle-kobolds to rot with no ceremony because that would have been an inconvenient plot device. Besides, the jungle would consume them and the circle life would continue unabated, or the Narrator noted use pop-spirituality to justify the beasty act.
“But, the Grass Dragon was lonely. She–and, yes, it was a ‘she’–was the only dragon in the world. She tried to make friends, but the other animals had their own kind and all she could do was change her colour, hide and watch them from secret,” Shiv the Shifty One coughed at this point and the rest of the adventurers laughed, “Not that there is anything wrong with hiding and sneaking around, Shiv! But, the Grass Dragon wanted company.”
The adventurers chuckled and continued hacking their way through the jungle.
Suddenly, the foliage gave way around them to a gigantic temple complex. It’s stone walls were stained with thousands of years of rain yet the intricacies of the carved monsters–mostly twisting dragons and serpents–was not lost at all. For some reason, the jungle stopped growing just at the temple complex’s ancient wall. Vines did not reach out and strange the ruins that rose sweepingly up and above the canopy.
“Yes,” Magnus panted as the adventurers ascended the ancient stairs towards the apex of the temple, “The Grass Dragon wanted a mate. She changed her colour and snuck around the world to spy on the Great One himself. Here, hiding in plain sight, she learned the many secrets of the magi and the unspoken truths of the five circles of life. Here she learned how to make her own kind. First, she practiced and made the simple type of dragon: small, innocent and vicious wyrms that were just serpents twisting around like snake. Then, the Grass Dragon began to add legs and wings and she made drakes and wyverns. Finally, the Grass Dragon stole into the Great One’s own house and stole the keys to the elements. Mixing these with the tears of her children, she forged the first of the dragons. Great, elemental beasts that control their own kind as they do at least one of each of the elements. And, so, we have the dragons of today.”
The adventurers had reached the top of the temple. At the pinnacle, the jungle was far below them and its green, wild canopy stretched as far as the eye could see in every direction. At the top was a small altar of a twisting snake with wings that formed the flat surface stained with dark streaks.
“What’s so beautiful about that story? It holds little relevance against the Great One’s own forging of the Thirteen Worlds nor the Great Truths that he gave us to live by, so why tell us this tale at all?” asked Valor the Holy. He was always so pompous. He genuinely thought his religion made him superior to others and found any way to work it into the conversation. At least his healing magic was strong and had saved the group on more than one occasion, but sometimes the Narrator thought his character a little over-acted and painful.
Magnus smiled, took out a dagger and cut into his hand. The blood dripped from it onto the old, twisted altar at the top of the ancient temple complex. The moment his blood touched the altar, the ground began to shake and the sky vibrate. A howl–distant at first, but growing closer by the second–pierced the air and sent cold shivers down the adventurers’ spines.
Shiv slipped into a shadow, Squok took out his axe and Valor began praying to his god for protection.
The Boss fight was coming, and Magnus began to laugh!
“I am lawful evil, fools,” Magnus proclaimed, stepping across fictional boundaries, “Lawful evil! That means that I can pretend to be good! This is the altar that calls the Grass Dragon and I shall sacrifice you all to her in exchange for the secrets that she stole from the Great One! I will be able to forge my own people and bind them to me! I will rule–”
And Shiv slipped her dagger under Magnus’ ribcage, rolling a killing blow and its tip piercing his heart. The wizard collapsed, his lifeblood pumping all over the ancient, evil altar as the sky opened up and a grass-green maw began to step through…
“Hey, I’m dead! Seriously!” Magnus’ Mike complained bitterly.
“Well, you wanted to go make a lawful evil character for a campaign,” Jack, the Narrator, stated, the rest of the player nodding, “And, yes, you played the character well, but eventually it comes down to good versus evil.”
“And, today, good triumphed,” Shiv’s Shaun noted as a matter of fact. Vivian chuckled at this and Simon agreed, despite Mike pointing out that as a thief, Shiv was not inherently ‘good’.
“Shiv is still better than Magnus, in terms of alignment. And, more importantly, alive!” Shaun giggled, and the rest of the players–including Mike–laughed with him at this.
The table before them was scattered with many-sided dice, Dungeons & Dragons rulebooks, paper, maps and the collection of dreams and imagination that table-top roleplaying fantasy games bring with them.
“Cool, so next week same time,” Jack noted, starting to pack up, and everyone nodded and started helping, “Next week we start with the Grass Dragon stepping through the portal, so be ready! Oh, and Mike, make another character. I’ll find a way to work them into it. Maybe they are slaves of the Grass Dragon, so use that as a backstory to launch from…”
There were murmurs of agreement with smiles and happiness. The players could not wait for the coming game.