Chapter 10: Trakanon

Twelve dark robed figures stood in the large room. One stood near the center, his hood pulled back exposing his scaled head and dark red eyes. He turned to the rest, taking each of the other eleven in his gaze. No words were spoken and none needed to be. The voices of the eleven fill his head, and he responded with thoughts of his own. These twelve were the only hope of keeping Sebilis, the greatest city of the Iksar, from falling to the beast of nightmares. The unhooded figure hissed at them one final time ceasing their conversation and raised his hands. Suddenly, the twelve appeared a mile under the earth in the cavern that the creature called home. This was the outpost where the Froglok warriors and sorcerers had poured out and devastated the entire city. The twelve turned around and faced the beast. They called the energy of the planes to their grasp twisting and forming it into a single beam capable of destroying a city. The beam turned rivers into steam and rock into glass. It struck the beast in his massive green chest, scorching a hole through the thick skin, through his scarred ribcage and past the cavity that should have contained his vital organs. Trakanon laughed and seconds later the sorcerers died. The mightiest empire Kunark had ever known was lost forever.

Two thousand years later, Loral Ciriclight, Vicar of Tunare, stood just a few meters from where the Iksar sorcerers had died. He and his war party stood at the foot of a narrow, rotting bridge that led into the undead dragon's cavern. Loral had prepared his group with spells of protection from Trakanon's deadly breath and fierce attacks, but he feared these would be little protection against the ancient wurm. Still his group was ready to do battle.

Months he had spent in the swamps and jungles of Kunark, seeking the ancient ruins of the once mighty city. Finally he had found it, deep in the jungle of Trakanon's Teeth. A huge stone archway led to rows of enormous Iksar statues guarding the walkway. Loral found a cavern inside one of the outlying buildings that led deep under the city. The corridor winded hundreds of feet underground until it ended in a large room. In the center, a huge ruby orb bathed the room with a brilliant red light. Only the idol of Trakanon, an ancient key of an ancient time, would allow passage into the depths of Sebilis. Loral had one such idol.

Now Loral faced that small rotten bridge, knowing that death sat on the other side. They had little problems with the Froglok guards. Deeper within the caverns they defeated the Sebilite Juggernaughts and Trakanon's personal guard, the Sebilite Protector. They reformed their attack groups and now waited for the orders to charge. After what seemed like an eternity, the order came.

Loral's group was the first to charge in. They turned the corner and faced the beast. Trakanon smiled at them. He raised his head hundreds of feet into the air and swept his hollow eyes across the group, then they fixed upon Loral. The warriors and rangers immediately began slashing at the dragon, cutting into his thick, rotten skin. But Loral was transfixed with the beast's eyes. Tiny specks of intense light pierced into Loral from the dark caverns where apparently Trakanon once had eyes. Unlike the other dragons Loral had faced, he felt no fear. Instead he felt something he truly didn't expect to feel. The beasts pain.

Time slowed down. The room went silent. Loral stood, his battleworn mace hanging at his side, while his group charged in. Trakanon's gaze didn't move from Loral's. A millennia of isolation, the horror of living in death, the pain of existing for thousands of years as a rotting corpse. All of these hit Loral like waves of ice. Then with the boom of a wizards blast, time sped back up. Trakanon's gaze shifted off of Loral and he returned to the battle at hand.

Trakanon lifted his head and breathed his poison breath on the war party. Spells were choked off and mighty warriors fell to their knees under the thick stench of death. Loral opened up his heart to Tunare and began releasing her healing energy into the warriors of his group. Tendrils of swirling light faded away the burns of corrosion the poison left on the mighty warriors, but the taint had sunk in. Loral felt his own life-force fading under the vile poison. He drained every ounce of spiritual energy he had, giving it to himself and his party. Still the poison tore at them from the inside of their lungs and from within their blood. Soon the heroes began falling to the plague that engulfed them. Loral took a final look at the battle as his legs became weak. Half the warriors fell like timber, the other half slashed and blasted with every last ounce they had in them. Then blackness overtook Loral's vision and he collapsed to the ground.

"What has happened to you Loral, what happened to the wide eyed acolyte ready to spread the word of Tunare with peace and love?" Ciric Azilebane sat at the small tavern in Quenos across from Loral. Loral had just related the story of General V'Ghera to Ciric who did not seem impressed with the killing of the General and his minions. "You left the gates of Felwithe wearing a priest's robes and carrying the Testament of Vanear. Now you wear the blood of your enemies like some dark badge of honor. Even the high priests of Tunare don't approve of your actions anymore, most fear you to much to tell you. Your books of scripture and history have been replaced with a burnt shield and that black mace."

"Enough!" Loral stood, his chair falling backwards onto the floor. The tavern went silent. "Those fools in Felwithe have no idea what they speak of. They wish to spread the word of Tunare, hoping it's mere speaking will turn all the world's evil away. Even you believe you can make a difference, giving your protection to the hunters of rats and snakes. We are at war, Ciric. Evil pours out of the earth from every cave, every hole and every swamp of this world. Once peaceful woods are now haunted by powerful armies of undead right outside our door. You can hide behind your robes and your scripture and close your eyes, but I cannot. Beasts you can't even imagine will crawl past these walls and kill our children if we don't do something about it. And I will." Loral got up and left the bar. It was the first time he had ever had a conversation like that with Ciric and it broke his heart. He gritted his teeth against the tears and started his preparations to go back to Kunark.

The memory faded as warmth flowed through Loral's veins. His eyes opened to the plump face of a female dwarven cleric. She smiled warmly at him, stood up and walked to the next corpse. Loral got to his feet, still very weak from the resurrection, and looked around. Trakanon's corpse filled the hall. Small bands of the survivors sat and regained their strength as clerics walked from group to group, putting their hands on their wounds. Loral walked over to the enormous corpse.

The fire still burned in Trakanon's eyes, but they focused on nothing. Adventurers wandered around the corpse looking at the wounds of a thousand battles. Loral reached into the jaw of the giant beast and tore free one of the dagger sized teeth. He pulled off the red wurm scale he wore around his neck, and hung the tooth there in its place. Then, whispering a prayer to Tunare, he left. The ancient horror of Sebilis, destroyer of a nation, Trakanon, had fallen.

Deep in the bowels of his dark citadel, under the eternally black sky and air filled with the screams of innocence, Innoruuk laughed. He sat on his throne, staring into the fire that burned from the broken bones of Elven clerics and druids, now crushed under Innoruuk's hand. In it he saw Loral tie the dragon tooth around his neck. Behind Innoruuk stood a dark cleric, dressed completely in blackened charred armor, his face pale and featureless. Innoruuk turned and gazed at his minion, who stood ready to serve. "Soon we will be ready, my friend, and then you can have him."