Chapter 13: Purpose and Power
For some days following their conversation with Athalya, Elven seemed to stay apart from Brandyé, and he saw his friend only occasionally in passing, here and there. He was uncertain what kept him at bay, but thought it had something to do with the history Athalya had recounted to them. He had seen that Elven had been unhappy during most of it, and was surprised; for him there was only a great curiosity in learning about his past, and the events that had led to this point. However, deep in the back of his mind he recalled the look Elven had given him when he had agreed to hear Athalya’s tale, and wondered if there was some resentment there. He would have wished it was not so, but since Elven would not speak with him, there was little he could do.
Instead, Brandyé spent his time with Elỳn, and came to know her and her ways well. She spoke to him of her own past, and the events she had witnessed in her lifetime. As best Brandyé could tell, she was at a minimum three thousand years old, which was a thing that astounded him, and was difficult to comprehend. She had been among the Illuèn of Thaeìn before Goroth had set his armies upon them, and so had not witnessed the terrible massacres that were wrought upon the Illuèn of Aélûr and Cathaï. But it was with great sadness that she described their betrayal by the very men they had been protecting, and the terrible dismay of those who had survived.
Of the battles of the War of Darkness she would say little, but Brandyé learned something of the Dragon Lords, which was a thing that greatly fascinated him. Ever since his grandfather’s tale in the Burrow Wayde in his childhood, which he now recognized as an elaborated version of the final battle of that war, he had been enthralled by the thought of these great winged creatures, and Elỳn’s words reignited this curiosity in him. The dragons were creatures of Darkness, she said, but were not under the influence of the Duithèn. This he did not understand at first, until she pointed out that there was also light that was not under the influence of the Illuèn, and death that occurred without the presence of the Namirèn. They lived in the farthest northern reaches of Thaeìn, and had had little care for men, other than those who lived among them and tended to their needs.
The dragons did not belong to men, she explained, but nor did the men belong to them. Each lived side by side with the other, and where men provided food and shelter for the dragons, they provided a great protection for their companions. At first they had no interest in the coming of Goroth and the settling of Darkness over the world, and remained to the north, keeping to themselves. But something had changed for them, it seemed, for in their darkest hour, when the great city of Vira Weitor was besieged by the armies of Cathaï and about to fall, the dragons descended suddenly upon their enemy, and sent them fleeing in terror.
It was the Dragon Lords who had also brought about the defeat of Goroth, though it was, she said, an accident. In the thick of battle, the dragon of the king of the Dragon Lords sustained a great wound, and in its final throes sent itself crashing upon Goroth. At its claws and flames the demon lord was brought to his knees, and would have recovered had Daevàr not been at their side, and seized this once chance to smite him down.
But despite this victory, many dragons and their lords were wounded or dead, and they retreated once more to the north. “They have not been heard of since,” she told him, “and we suspect they have long since died out. It is a great tragedy, for they were among the most precious of beings in all of Erâth: dark, yet not under the yoke of Darkness.”
“How does that make them precious?” Brandyé asked.
“It is important to know that there are creatures in the world that are not directly under the influence of any of the seven Ageless. It is a sign that the world can survive on its own without their presence. After all, though the Mirèn are no more, life continues on.”
“It is a shame,” Brandyé said. “I would have like to meet a dragon.”