Chapter Two: What Fates Impose|
Dyne was dumbfounded as Iseult's words echoed through his head. "Dragonmaster? Me?"
Iseult nodded. "You have the green eyes, just like the Dragonmasters of the past. But even more so, the noble, selfless heart of a hero beats within you. Otherwise, The White Dragon never would have given you the Ring, a symbol of heroism."
"How do I become a Dragonmaster?" His voice was laced with doubt.
"First, you must visit the Four Dragons of Althena in their lairs. Pass their trials and receive the four pieces of the Dragon Armor."
"Where do I find the Dragons?"
"That I do not know. You have already found The White Dragon. He shall lead you to the other dragons. But do not become overconfident. Yours is a difficult task that many before you have tried and failed. And the life and responsibilities of a Dragonmaster is not an easy one. A Dragonmaster is not just a champion against evil, but The Goddess's ambassador to all humanity, and the sworn protector of the entire world of Lunar. Knowing this, will you still bear the title and responsibility of Dragonmaster?"
Dyne felt a chill at the solemn words, but with determination, he said, "I will."
Iseult smiled. "Then you shall no doubt succeed. But you must leave now. I sense Amalek's presence growing stronger, and he may strike at any moment. Go with the blessings of the Goddess."
Dyne bowed, and he rejoined his companions. Although he did not want to part company with them, this was his task, and his responsibility. Besides, if it was as dangerous as Iseult had said, he did not dare risk their lives on his own account. "Guys, I'm sorry, but this is something I must do alone."
"Like hell you are," said Mel gruffly.
"We're not going to abandon you," Lemia added.
Dyne was adamant. "I'm the one that must take the Dragon Trials, not you. Besides, if Amalek arrives before I've completed my quest, you may be needed to at least help innocent people."
"At least take one of us with you," Ghaleon said urgently. "You may need our help."
Dyne shook his head. "If I can't cut it alone, then I'm not worthy of being the Dragonmaster."Dyne shook his head. "If I can't cut it alone, then I'm not worthy of being the Dragonmaster."
"So, how exactly are ya plannin' on gettin' around without the Darkfire?" asked Mel with a grin.
Dyne smiled. "I'll manage."
Lemia still was not satisfied. "So what are we going to do while you're gone?"
"We have guest quarters here at the Shrine," said Iseult, cutting into their debate. "You may stay here if you'd like."
Ghaleon, Mel, and Lemia looked at Iseult as if she was an albino baboon with a bullseye on her forehead.
"It's for the best," Dyne said. "You three may be needed in case Amalek strikes before I can complete my quest. Please. I need to do this on my own."
The three of them didn't look to happy about the idea, but they nodded their agreement.
"You had better spend the night here as well," Iseult said. "It will be very late at night by the time you reach Meribia, and probably won't be able to charter a ship until tomorrow anyway. One of the priests will take you to your room."
"Fine with me."
Iseult left the four of them alone with the awaiting servant. There was a strange chill in the room.
"Hey," Dyne said cheerfully, "It's only going to take a couple of days for me to do this. I'll be back soon."
Dyne's companions looked at him sadly, but they weren't about to argue with him anymore. Dyne knew they didn't want him to leave, and even though he knew it was for the best, he still felt guilty about leaving them. Unable to look them in the eye, he followed the servant to his guest room.
That night, unable to sleep, Dyne sat on the steps of Althena's Shrine, pondering on the new direction his life was heading. From country boy to world traveler to...Dragonmaster?
He heard footsteps coming up behind him. "Hello, Ghaleon," he sighed.
Ghaleon smiled. "How did you know it was me?"
"I've known you for over eleven years. And besides, everybody else knows better than to bug me when I'm alone."
Ghaleon nodded. "What's on your mind?"
Dyne was silent.
Ghaleon sighed. "Dyne, look. I'm your friend. You can talk to me. You're not helping yourself by holding your problems in and shutting the rest of us out."
"I'm not shutting anybody out. Like I said, this is my destiny, and I must earn the title of Dragonmaster on my own."
Ghaleon gave him an understanding look. "Anything else?"
"It's just that...I've never had to deal with anything like this before. I've never had to go up against a legendary demigod, or be a representative of the Goddess Althena...or have the lives of so many people depending on me and my actions."
"Are you worried about failing?"
"Yeah, but not for myself. If I go down fighting Amalek, then fine. I can handle that. I just don't want the people of Lunar to suffer because I may not be up to the challenge. How do I deal with feelings like that?"
"Those feelings are the energies which must keep you going. The lives of all of Althena's children, or maybe Althena herself, may be in mortal danger. Humanity always needs a protector. They cannot survive without one. If you truly wish to be that protector and help the people of Lunar, you must remember that they are depending on you, and that you cannot let them down."
"Gee, thanks. Like I need more pressure."
"It's not meant to be pressure-it's motivation. A Dragonmaster's duty is to defend all that Althena has created. You must know what that means to the people of Lunar, and what your responsibilities to them will be."
"I guess you're right. Say, in your many studies, have you ever heard of Amalek?"
Ghaleon nodded. "A little. I don't have much to add to Iseult's description. But I do remember a few scraps of information. He was known for his contempt of humanity. They say that the evil in his heart rivaled Zophar's. You know that symbol on his armor that you described, the eye with the sword through it? He chose that for himself because it was not enough for him to merely kill his opponents. He delighted in crushing their spirit, their hearts-their very souls. And the eyes are the window to the soul."
Dyne shuddered. "Can such an evil be destroyed?"
Ghaleon shrugged. "Maybe not permanently destroyed, but definitely contained. Humans struggle against the evil within their hearts every day. Evil has always existed, and always will, unfortunately. However, Amalek was stopped once before by a dragon. So why would a Dragonmaster fail where a dragon succeeded?"
"Iseult said Amalek would be much stronger now."
"True. But then again, a Dragonmaster is much more powerful than a single dragon."
"Yeah," muttered Dyne. "I never dreamed of having that much power, or even that it was possible to do so."
Ghaleon smiled. "Destiny never takes you down the road you expect it to."
After saying farewell to his companions, Dyne walked to Meribia and chartered a boat for Saith. The trip took two days to reach Saith. Although it had been eleven years since he had been to Caldor Isle, the task at hand out weighed anything else on his mind.
As the ship docked in the Saith port in the early morning, Dyne looked around at the small village, memories of his first adventure returning to him. When he had first arrived, it seemed to strange to him, even though it wasn't too much different than Burg. Probably because it was the first village I'd ever been to outside of Burg. But now it seems so small, so...run-down. Then again, Saith can't really compare to Meribia or Vane.
He made his way from Saith through the Weird Woods, his swordsmanship and magic enabling him to keep the monsters safely away. He paused as he reached the village of Burg, the home he had left eleven years ago. It hadn't changed at all, as if time didn't exist, except for day and night. He longed to see it again, and visit his old friend Noah. But now was not the time. Amalek might arrive at any time, so every second was precious.
The journey to the White Dragon Cave from Burg was shorter than Dyne remembered it to be, most likely due to his longer legs. Although it had been many years since he had been to the Cave last, he still remembered the way to Quark's lair as if it were only yesterday. His greater combat experience allowed him to dispatch with ease the very same monsters that had almost killed him long ago.
Eventually, he found his way into the corridor that led to Quark's lair. The peaceful, magical serenity within the tunnel was till there, but Dyne had no time to waste to enjoy it. Instead, he marched straight into the lair.
Upon entering the lair, Dyne saw Quark sleeping on his icy pedestal. Quark's nose twitched as he smelled Dyne's scent. He rose to an upright sitting position and looked down at Dyne.
P>"So, Dyne, you have returned," said the Dragon.
Dyne smiled. "I wasn't sure you'd remember me after so long, Quark."
"It has indeed been quite some time, but I have not forgotten. What brings you here now?"
Dyne told Quark of his dreams about Amalek, and how Lady Iseult said he was to become the Dragonmaster to defeat Amalek.
"By Althena..." Quark growled. "I knew you would one day become Dragonmaster and challenge a great threat to our world. But I never imagined anything like this!"
"Iseult said I must get your permission to receive your piece of the Dragon Armor."
Quark smiled. "That, old friend, was granted long ago. Take these. They will help you fulfill your destiny of Dragonmaster."
There was a flash of light at the top of the chamber, and a lavender orb slowly floated down towards Dyne. It shattered open as he touched it, revealing the White Dragon Wings to be inside.
"With these, you will be able to travel great distances in the blink of an eye," Quark explained, noting the curious look in Dyne's eyes. "All you need to do is think of where you want to go. The Wings do the rest. Since you must hurry and find the other Dragons, these should prove to be quite helpful."
"Thanks. Where can I find the other dragons?"
"Blaize, The Red Dragon, lives in the volcanoes to the southwest of Iluk. Her Cave is surrounded by mountains on all four sides, but you can use the White Dragon Wings to fly there. Saphyr, The Blue Dragon, lives in an underwater temple to the north of Lyton. The elder of Lyton will tell you how to raise it. Shakor, The Black Dragon, lives in The Black Dragon Fortress, built by the villagers of Pao, which is to the south of Tamur and past the Forest of Illusion. Can you remember all that?"
"Then I suggest you make haste. Amalek will arrive soon, and The Dragonmaster must be ready to challenge him. I wish you the best of luck, and I shall pray to the Goddess for your safety."
"Thank you. Well, guess I'll be on my way."
"Farewell, Dyne. May The Goddess grant you success."
Quark watched Dyne leave his lair. Do not let me down, Dyne, he thought. All is depending on you. I pray that you are up to the task at hand and the destiny I foresaw long ago.
Meanwhile, Ghaleon and Lemia stood on the steps of Althena's Shrine. Lemia was pacing back and forth, while Ghaleon was staring absent-mindedly up at the Blue Star. Mel had returned to the Darkfire, not feeling comfortable in a shrine.
"He's been gone for three days already," Lemia said impatiently.
"Give him time, Lemia. By now, he should be on his way back from Caldor Isle."
"One of us should have gone with him, though."
"His mind was made up. As frustrating as his stubbornness can be, sometimes all we can do is stand back and let him go his own path."
Lemia looked at Ghaleon curiously. "You don't say that like you believe it."
Ghaleon sighed. "Maybe I don't. But there's nothing I can do about it now."
She laughed suddenly. Ghaleon gave her a sour look. "What's so funny?"
"I'm just amazed at how well you can cope with anything. No matter what, you never lose your nerve, and always stay confident. It makes me feel better, somehow."
Ghaleon kept silent, uncertain how to reply. Lemia's words, however, couldn't prevent him from smiling.
Suddenly, he saw a strange, crimson light glowing upon the Blue Star. He watched in fascination, curiosity, and fear as the light became brighter and more intense. Then the light began to move...and descend towards Lunar.
"So," he said grimly, "it's beginning."
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