|"All tucked in, Alex?" Noah asked his seven-year old son.|
Alex nodded vigorously, his emerald-green eyes shining eagerly. "Will you tell me a story, daddy? 'Bout the Dragonmasters?"
"All right. Lemme see...ah! Here's one I know I haven't told you yet – the legend of Dragonmaster Arthur and the Heroes Of The Round Table. Some people say Arthur was one of the greatest Dragonmasters ever."
Alex scowled. "Even better than Dyne?"
At this, Alex lightened up. Noah cleared his throat and began the tale.
"Hundreds of years ago, The Vile Tribe tried to conquer Lunar. Led by the evil Vortigern, an army of Vile Tribe warriors invaded the mainland of Lunar, destroying anything and anyone who got in their way.
"There hadn't been a Dragonmaster for many years. The people of Lunar were divided into cities, and didn't have a single army to defend them. None of the villages had soldiers or knights strong enough to stop the Vile Tribe by themselves. Even the magicians of Vane couldn't stop them. Finally, the elders of all the different cities and villages went to visit Merlin, The White Dragon of Althena and the leader of the Dragon Tribe. The elders prayed for a Dragonmaster to protect them from Vortigern's forces. Merlin promised a Dragonmaster would be chosen soon.
"As soon as the elders returned to the city of Meribia, the greatest of the cities, a miracle happened. In the town square, right in front of the statue of Althena, a white stone appeared with a beautiful sword stuck in it. The elders looked at the sword and read the writing on it – saying that whoever could pull the sword from the stone was destined to become the next Dragonmaster.
"All the strongest and toughest knights and warriors tried pulling the sword from the stone but none of them was ever able to do it. From far and wide, from Caldor Isle to The Prairie, even from Vane, heroes and adventurers came to Meribia. Still, nobody could pull out the sword.
"Finally, a young wanderer named Arthur came to the city. He was young, only sixteen, but was tall, strong, with dark brown hair and bright green eyes. He was fleeing the city of Tintagel, where his parents had been killed by Vortigern. Not knowing of the sword in the stone, Arthur was naturally curious when he saw it. Nobody was around to explain it to him, so he walked up to the sword and easily pulled it out!
"As soon as Arthur drew the sword, a crowd gathered. Everyone was astonished that a mere boy had pulled the mysterious sword from the stone! Some thought that it was a trick, for how could an inexperienced nobody possibly be destined to be The Dragonmaster? But before the crowd could say anything, there was a flash of light, and the image of Merlin appeared in the sky.
"'Arthur,' The White Dragon said, 'for the nobility and purity of your heart and the strength of your spirit, you are destined to bear the name and arms of The Dragonmaster.'
"'Me?' Arthur cried, astonished. 'Why me? I'm a nobody, an orphan, merely sixteen years old.'
"'It is your destiny, Arthur. The future of Lunar is in your hands. You must accept your destiny, or Vortigern and The Vile Tribe shall conquer this world, and humanity will perish. But you need not face them alone. I and the Dragons will help you. Take this sword and The White Dragon Wings, and seek out the other Dragons. But as you journey down the path of the Dragonmaster, always remember this - the courage and the power are within you, and as long as these stand firm, you will overcome any challenge or enemy.'
"Merlin took Arthur to find the other Dragons of Althena. Overcoming their trials and defeating monsters and bandits along the way, Arthur soon met each dragon and received the rest of the Dragonmaster's weapons – The Red Dragon Shield, The Blue Dragon Helmet, and The Black Dragon Armor.
"By the Arthur and Merlin returned to Meribia, an army had gathered while Arthur was away, made up of thousands of knights and heroes who promised to help The Dragonmaster fight against Vortigern. The Vile Tribe was getting very close to the city, and it would only be a few hours before the attack came.
"At last, Vortigern's forces came to Meribia, demanding their surrender. But Dragonmaster Arthur and his army charged out of the city in such a rush, taking The Vile Tribe completely unprepared. Then began a fierce and terrible battle that lasted all day. Arthur and his army tore into The Vile Tribe, striking down hundreds of enemy soldiers. Merlin himself aided in the battle, shooting lightning at the Vile Tribe warriors. Finally, Vortigern had lost so many of his men that his army ran away.
"The people of Meribia, who once couldn't believe Arthur was meant to be Dragonmaster, now cheered the young hero on. Many more fighters joined with Arthur, along with some magicians from Vane. Also, Merlin gave Althena's Sword to the new Dragonmaster, to be used for the upcoming fight. For Merlin knew that Vortigern was planning another attack, and his reinforcements were on the way.
"Three days later, Vortigern once again lay siege to Meribia, this time with an army of sixty thousand Vile Tribe warriors. Arthur's army fought bravely against Vortigern in battle after battle. The combined might of The Dragonmaster, the Magic Guild of Vane, and the Meribian knights completely overwhelmed Vortigern and the Vile Tribe army. Arthur fought marvelously against the overwhelming odds, even killing the mighty Vortigern himself. After Vortigern died, what was left of the Vile Tribe invaders ran away again.
"After Dragonmaster Arthur defeated Vortigern, the whole city had a huge celebration. All the heroes from Lunar came to honor the new Dragonmaster and his victory. Arthur had an idea where he and other heroes of Lunar would work together to protect the world of Lunar and its people. So he gathered two hundred heroes and adventurers, and they swore to be honest and brave, to defend the helpless and protect the innocent, and to fight evil wherever it was found. They would meet once a year to share stories of their heroic deeds. Arthur had a round table built, so whenever the heroes met, they would sit with each other as equals, with nobody at the head of the table. From that day forward, they were known as The Heroes Of The Round Table.
"For many years, Dragonmaster Arthur and The Heroes Of The Round Table upheld the vow they had taken. All of them went on many adventures, and fought many battles against the forces of evil. Their names became renowned throughout Lunar, even to this day. And whenever things looked dark, or if Arthur ever needed guidance, Merlin was always there to council him."
"Wow! So did they live happily ever after?"
Noah sighed sadly. "Unfortunately, no. From the beginning, The Vile Tribe sought to undermine the fellowship of The Round Table. Morgana The Sorceress, Vortigern's daughter, took over The Vile Tribe, and swore that her father would be avenged. For years, she planned for the death of Arthur and the end of the Round Table. But as long as the wise Merlin protected The Dragonmaster, all of Morgana's schemes failed.
"Finally, Morgana decided to get Merlin out of the way. She cast a spell of enchantment on The White Dragon, a spell of the darkest magic from the Blue Star itself. The spell was so powerful it completely bent his mighty will to her own, and used it to seal him and his magic away forever. Even The Goddess could not undo the enchantment.
"Now, Morgana was ready to take revenge on Arthur. But merely killing him wasn't enough – she wanted to break his spirit and destroy the fellowship of the Heroes. Using her magic, she made one of the Heroes, a young knight named Mordred, fall in love with her."
"He fell in love with a Vile Triber? Aren't they demons?"
"Yes, but the most powerful of The Vile Tribe look like humans, and Morgana was very beautiful. Also, she convinced Mordred that if he killed Arthur and took control of the other heroes, they could rule Lunar. Mordred agreed, and gathered a huge army to fight against The Dragonmaster.
"Tragedy fell upon the world of Lunar as the Heroes of The Round Table were divided into civil war. Many Heroes, seduced by the promise of wealth and power, sided with Mordred and the minions of The Vile Tribe. Only a few remained loyal to Dragonmaster Arthur. Arthur had no choice but to prepare for war with those who had been his allies and friends.
"Then, the dark day came. The two armies attacked each other on the plains of the Katarina Zone. It was one of the saddest days in Lunar's history, when brother fought against brother. Yet, each side fought with all their strength and heart. The battle raged from early morning to late at night, neither side wanting to give up, and thousands dying on both sides. Finally, Arthur and Mordred met each other face-to-face and charged at each other. After a brutal fight, Arthur stabbed Mordred right in the chest. But right before he died, Mordred struck one final blow, dealing Arthur a terrible wound.
"The few surviving Heroes took Arthur to Althena's Shrine. He called to one of the knights, a young man named Bedivere, and asked him to take Althena's Sword and throw it into the ocean by The Shrine. Bedivere walked to the ocean, but he didn't want The Goddess's sword to be lost forever. So he hid it and told Arthur he had done as he asked.
"'When you threw it into the ocean,' Arthur asked him, 'what did you see?'
"'I saw nothing,' the knight replied, 'but the moonlight on the water.'"
"Arthur got very upset and said, 'You did not do as I asked! Take the sword and throw it into the sea! I don't have much time!'"
"Again Bedivere went to the ocean, but still could not throw away Althena's Sword. Again he told Arthur he had seen nothing. Arthur got very angry and promised to kill him if he lied a third time. This time, Bedivere went to the ocean, and threw Althena's Sword as far as he could. As the sword was high above the water, a bright light flashed into the sky and the knight shut his eyes. When he opened them, he saw The Goddess Althena herself hovering above the water, holding the sword in her hand. She looked at the knight and smiled.
"'Have no fear,' Althena said with a smile. 'The power of The Vile Tribe is broken. For the evil they have unleashed upon the world of Lunar, I shall banish them to The Frontier forever, where they can never again harm another soul.'
"Bedivere asked Althena, 'But what about the people of Lunar? Who will protect them now without The Dragonmaster?'
"'There will be another Dragonmaster. As long as the power of the human spirit endures, there will always be a hero to defend the people of Lunar, be it a Dragonmaster, the Magic Guild of Vane, or a brave adventurer. Evil can never overcome as long as a noble heart beats.'
"She raised the sword high into the air, and once again, a bright light filled the sky. It took the shape of a dragon, and vanished. Bedivere ran back to Althena's Shrine to tell Arthur what he had seen...but there was no sign of him. The priestesses said that Arthur had disappeared after the image of the dragon appeared in the sky."
"What happened to Arthur?"
"Nobody really knows. But many people say that The Goddess took Arthur to her Tower, where he remains to this day, recovering from his wound. Some say that one day he shall return, and once again gather the heroes of Lunar at The Round Table. The memorial to Arthur in Althena's Shrine calls him 'The Once And Future Dragonmaster.'"
"And now," Noah smiled, "I think it's time you got some sleep. You've had enough excitement for one night."
"Will you tell me another story 'bout the Dragonmasters tomorrow, daddy?"
"Of course I will. Good night, Alex."
"G'nite, daddy."THE END