I wrote this over 12 months ago now, with the intent to submit to to the gazette. While it was sent, it was at this time that the 'editor' for the gazette changed and I suspect it got lost somewhere in cyberspace *grin*
Anyway, I have decided to post it here as my way of supporting the new site and forums for you to all (hopefully) enjoy.
Grach Soulwalker, Trial of a Dragon
It was a time many years past, as many great stories are. A time when the world was new and the lords of the realm walked among mortals in all their power and glory. This was the time of the beginning, a time when all was fresh with vast reaches of unexplored wilderness and many strange and mysterious wonders to behold.
Into this realm of wonder, a small and seemingly helpless dragon was born, a dragon of unknown parentage yet bearing the knowledge of his race and the strange place he held in the world.
As he awoke, strange sights and sounds startled him at first as many had come to witness his birth. Centaurs and elves, halflings and orcs all came to welcome him as one of their kindred. Great angels descended from above to great him, and even the gods and immortals of the realm wished him safe journeys and much advice on the ways of the world.
Slowly the dream faded from him memory as Grach woke from a long and well deserved sleep. Ah! The memories of his childhood, of learning the ways of his kind like remembering the use of a long forgotten skill. Looking about Grach was puzzled for a moment, for the world looks vastly different to him now. Was it yesterday he was here, or last week? When had he last looked upon the world about him? Shaking his head he felt a strange tickling against his jaw. "That silly centaur has been playing tricks again" he thought as he lifted a great claw to brush the lichen from his face. What was this! This was not his claw! For before his eyes were the tiny digits of a hooman type hand. What jest were the gods and immortals playing on him now. As horrors and imaginings flooded upon his mind, he leapt and stretched his great wings to take to the sky, and in that instant his greatest fear was realised.
With a crash and a scream of agony Grach found himself diving headlong into the ground. Dazed and still puzzling this turn of events, a vision of the great father dragon Snikt flooded his mind, and dark words of horrors filled his ears...
"For thy absence and negligence in the realm, thou shall be cast down amongst mortal men. Thou must once again prove thy worthiness of the heritage of thy kind, and for this thou shall start thy life anew as little more than an ornament amongst giants"
In an almost blind panic Grach managed to scramble and drag himself to the nearby fountain tended by that kind and ageless Shaman Nom. Staring into the magical waters of the fountain, Grach could not comprehend what he saw. Staring back at him from within the fountains rippling water he saw the image of a strange creature, small in stature with small beady eyes peeking out from under a comical pointy hat, and surrounded in a sea of hair. In total desperation he cried out "What hast become of me!" only to be answered with words he could not have heard, words that tore at his heart and cut deeper than any sword could, for the realisation of its truth was a great rending to his soul. The words that echoed though his heart and soul were â€œYou are a Gnome.â€
It was some time before Grach could regain his composure, for this punishment was almost too much for one of noble birth to accept. Slowly the memories of the past several years flooded back as Grach realised that he had indeed been remiss in his task, that he had indeed abandoned his linage and heritage. So, with this great sorrow weighing upon his heart, and a new determination to once again reclaim his rightful place amongst his kin, Grach began the long and arduous rise in strength and power.
Days slowly turned into weeks, and it was with great delight that Grach once more renewed his ties with those he knew from before. Friends from childhood and those made anew, while shocked and saddened at the events surrounding his demise, offered their assistance through magicâ€™s and advise as Grach advanced in greatness. Before long Grach found himself counted as a hero of the realm, great in strength and powerful in combat. Soon the weeks turned into months and finally there came a time when his power and greatness grew to a point he decided to attempt the risky and dangerous ritual that would make him lord of the realm.
Taking a deep breath Grach became the rite of passage into the realm of the high mortals, the lords of Avatar. Slowly at first the change began. With a tremendous burst of energy he grew, rising up and beyond the plane of mortals that had been his home. With horror a great hand of magic gripped his soul as his armor and weapons were ripped from his body. Then with a sound only he could hear and a force no living soul could resist his past life was drained from his body, only to be replaced with the divine essence that the gods and immortals bestow on all new lords of the realm. Then, as his past life faded, blackness overcame him.
What happened after this time is a mystery for the ways of the Lords are not to be shared with others. All that is known for sure is that Grach was counted lord for years to come as he worked with unfailing determination to prove his worth.
One day, while the shadow of the lord Grach was visiting Midgaard, a great sorrow overcame him as the memories of his true self once more came to mind. With great sorry and anguish he cried out once again to the immortals and gods of the realm, "I have seen the errors of my ways, and proven my worth amongst mortals. Allow me to be once more be reborn to the heritage of my past, to once more fly across the realm in my truest form. I appeal to thee all." Then there was silence.
Finally there was sound. With a voice like the ripple of thunder across the sky the immortals finally answered Grachs' plea. "We have found thee worthy and just, thou shalt be restored to thy former self" was all the voice said. It took several minutes for Grach to fully comprehend what he had just heard. "Can this be true?" he thought, "I shall be restored to my rightful form as one of noble dragon birth?" The silence that followed was almost too much for him to bear, and then in an almost imperceptible whisper the answer he had longed to hear came to him, "Yes!â€
As the shock and surprise to these tidings overcame Grach, he slowly fell into a great slumber which lasted several days. When he finally awoke, it was with great delight that he once more found himself looking down on all those about him. With a roar of joy Grach leapt into the sky, and with wings outstretched flew high over the great city of Midgaard bellowing his praises and announcing to the realm that he was once more of noble dragon birth.