Days of the Long Forgotten
Before the mists had risen enough for the history of humanity to be recorded there lived many races within the world. There were many gods within it. All vying for a legacy to leave for all eternity. Those remembered now are not all that ever were or, with luck, will ever be.
Some lost to our collective memories chose their own paths to anonymity, knowing they were never meant to be.
The thick layer of clouds hung low over the kingdom of Cosbein, enveloping the land in a thick, impenetrable darkness unseen by the inhabitants; for they had retired to their beds hours past. On a clear day, or a moonlit night, it was possible to view the expanse of the capital with little more than a brisk walk several hundred yards up the path leading to the top of the mountain; which began the small chain separating civilization from the wild lands to the west. Tonight, however, the bottom most layer of the cloud bank rested just below that often used observation point.
The tinker’s long trek to the top of the mountain had passed that break in the journey noon of the previous day. He could have gained the summit easily on the first day of his climb, but his steps had unconsciously moved more slowly; his mind too full of thoughts far removed from the task at hand. The world was changing more rapidly than he could make sense of. Through his journeys he had slowly come to the realization that a dark undercurrent spanned this world of many disparate and isolated kingdoms. An undercurrent which should not, by all the laws, exist. And yet, there was a palpable substance which could not be denied. He knew, from his time in the high court of the dragons, that he was not alone in his suspicions.
The number of dragons present was noticeably less in number and the missing legion went unexplained. Those desperate souls who made the journey to plead for interference in their respective lands spoke of whispers of war and a growing malevolence in their daily interactions with the forces which ruled over their respective homes.
It had been difficult for the tinker to gauge the validity of the reports. His travels throughout the kingdoms, these last few years, left little doubt the dragon presence had changed, but power had always spurred the darker nature within humanity. The complaints leveled against those who held the power within each land could, individually, be easily explained away but, collectively, the world had moved into a darker and more brutal place. He did not know if it was through the influence of the dragons or through the influence of Man that his world now stood at the brink of war.
The question of ‘Who had poisoned whom’ had reverberated through his mind at every step of this, his final, journey. Whatever the outcome, it did not bode well for the legacy the tinker had hoped to leave.
In the wee hours of the morning the tinker sat quietly staring to the west, wondering if the strange kingdom which once lay at the edge of the world could possess another who could stave off the threat of war, as Gildas once had.
The tinker’s mind wandered back to the days when this strange and isolated pocket of humanity within the vast expanse of the world he had found to exist was new to him; when he had first met Gildas. Little had he known the enigmatic little man would become his strongest ally and one day save him from death and disgrace. He could never have imagined this king at the edge of the world would become his most treasured friend and show him a glimpse of what humanity must have once been and would inevitably return to; if humanity could just survive what the tinker had come to call the in between.
The tinker knew the dragons must leave this world.
‘Oil and water’ he mused, wondering why it would have proven to be such.
The dragon lord had always known the law of the dragons was to serve humanity, to guide and protect. A noble mission somehow at odds with the laws handed down and this disparity had not gone unnoticed by those the dragons aspired to rule. Humanity had a penchant for testing the boundaries of the law, incessantly arguing against its fairness and displaying a lack of understanding for the necessity of the harsh punishments meted out to those who chose to ignore its most simple and basic tenets.
Through his travels, the tinker had eventually come to understand and sympathize with those who sought to overthrow the rule which had been in place for a century now.
‘But not like this.’ The tinker shook his head as the words quietly escaped his lips. ‘Not like this.’ He said again, with stronger conviction.
He shook his head once more. Not to reinforce the emotions he felt but to shake them from his mind. It was nearing the moment where dawn would break and he turned in anticipation; grateful to find the cloud cover dispersed with only a few tendrils left to break his view of the land below. His green eyes reflected the light of the moon, bringing color to break the bleak greys of this lifeless and barren mountaintop. He could make out tiny dots of light in the darkness of the night below; invariably being from those whose job it was to wake and begin the preparations for the comforts of those who would later rise. Suddenly aware of the heavy chill which flowed freely here at the mountain top; the wind, unfettered now and free in the barren landscape above the rising summits, pulled sharply at his coat tails in a singularity of power only such a vantage point could afford; and he pulled the coat closer to himself reflexively. The last time he had stood so high was when Gildas had suggested they come here; to watch the day break with all its glory.
It’s funny how little things, seemingly inconsequential in the moment of their passing, become the memories which grow momentous and are the ones we cling to; as we begin to come to grips with the mortality which is the reality of this world. The tinker willed this moment before the dawn to be spent without regret or sadness of moments long passed or the uncertainty of future days. He wanted to remember all that came before he and Gildas had descended into the hell of war and death. Before dragon law had warped honor into disgrace. Before what he now realized had marked the beginning of the inevitable end.
His thoughts stopped abruptly as the light of the coming dawn filled the sky with marvelous color. Peach sparred with gold and shadowy blue to gain dominance and he waited breathlessly for the sun to stake its claim on the coming hours. Rising slowly, clouds danced across its face as it took its time commanding authority of the sky and the tinker stood in awe of how natural this moment of conquest stood juxtaposed against the unnatural dawn of dragon rule. He sighed as the final moments of the beginning of the day lingered briefly and then turned as it was done.
‘This is it.’ He thought to himself. ‘This is where we begin to find out how the end will be molded.’
He moved with purpose to the path which led down the other side and quickly disappeared from sight, to begin his journey across the westward plains.
It’s funny how little things, seemingly inconsequential in the moment of their passing, become the memories which grow momentous and are the ones we cling to; as we begin to come to grips with the mortality which is the reality of this world.