Chieftan Merik, the most feral of all the orcs, chucked his
sharpened iron war axe at the decaying head of a recently
deceased dwarf. Jagged shards of ageless marrow and clumps of
blood streamed forth in all directions from the axe's sudden
point of origin. Clutching a second axe as well as his bastard
sword, the beast proclaimed to his animal bretheran "Now the
Orcish howls filled the air as hundreds of armor-clad members of the Merk Clan stampeded toward Pridia, the proudest of all human cities and home to the King of the western world. As the Chief followed his clan in proud strides, a gleeful grunt bounded out of him. This was his moment to finally prove himself to the Merk Chieftans of centuries past, and fulfill his destiny. Pridia would be firmly under his foot before day-break, all thanks to Clowd: an elder black dragon that believed Merik to be his best friend.
Recalling the day they met, Merik grunted gleefully again.
He had been out hunting dire wolves that had gotten the best of
him. Cornered in a rocky valley, they surrounded him, five or
six adult wolves ready to feed. He had cursed Chib, the little
winged pixie, for telling him to follow the wolves. Looking back
now, it seemed to him that she was only content when driving
Merik and his clan up the wall with tricks and pranks. According
to her story earlier in the day, the wolves were no more than
two fat cubs, "perfect for a small feast." He didn't normally
take advice from strangers, but the beautiful little lady had a
kind of charisma he couldn't help being bewitched by. Before
Merik realized what he was really up against, he was trapped.
Suddenly, one of the wolves lept straight at his throut, its
teeth gleeming in the moonlight. Just as suddenly, the wolf had
vanished! Merik looked to the other wolves for an explanation
but all their expressions were just as confused as his. The
cause quickly became apparent as an enormous black dragon
decended upon them, its wings sending bits of debree sailing
through the air. Abandoning their dinner, the wolves escaped
nimbly, leaving Merik to deal with the prime predator on his
own. Fiercly proud, he held his axe and buckler steady as the
dragon's gaze met his.
"Are you Merik, son of Morun?" asked the dragon.
"Yes, what is your business here, dragon?" bellowed the orc into the sky.
"Chib, the pixie, sent me... to save you I suppose...."
"She said 'scare the wolves away and then frighten that silly orc'... I must ask, are you frightened?"
Merik said nothing but looked away from the dragon, confusion and realization fighting for control of his face.
"I have got several other errands to run before the darkness fades.... I do hope I frightened you... Good night, noble orc!" the black dragon said, fanning its impressive wings, preparing to return to the sky.
"Wait! you are one of this Chib's... friends?" Merik asked, finally piecing it together.
The dragon looked down at Merik puzzled and said "Of course, she knows all the dragons in these parts."
"So, you are telling me she planned this whole encounter?"
"Another one of the bizarre pranks she often pulls, apparently. I am just glad she did not decieve me this time."
"What kind of sick, twisted being plays tricks such as these...?"
"Pixies do, my green friend, all the time. It is the basis of their personality; orcs fight, pixies prank. Listen I must be going, would you like to join me on my journey?"
Merik looked at the innocent face of the black colossus in front of him. If the small pixie could command this beast, why not Merik, mighty Chieftan of all the Merk orcs? He instantly fell deeply in love with the idea of owning an uber-efficient killing machine and said "Sure... I will join you. I would very much enjoy talking with one of the mighty elder dragons, among other things...."
And with that, they seemed to have become fast friends. In the ten years leading up to the current assault on Pridia, they had come to know each other very well, as well as the fact that Chib lived and breathed to play cruel jokes. Among many other incidents, she turned them both into flowers, she sealed their mouths shut, she sent them five minutes into the past to meet themselves, she put a pink tint on their vision, she kept them awake for an entire month, and she shot bursts of flame at their rears on a weekly basis. "All in good fun, guys!" was her motto, and she usually said it just in time to stop the impending axe from coming down on her tiny head. At the end of the day, though, she was a good friend. Chib used her magic for good sometimes, too. Although, these times were never as memorable.
"Are you ready, Clowd?" Merik yelled into the sky.
"Yes.... I suppose... well, actually, I am not so sure... anymore," Clowd yelled down to the ground.
After a short moment of befuddlement, Merik said "What do you mean 'I am not so sure?' You upset me when you refused to allow me to ride you into battle, but I accepted that. This... this is what we have been planning for two long months, Clowd! Don't do this to me!"
"Don't do this to you? I've never killed anything in my life!"
"Oh, it is not that difficult! We orcs do it two, three times a day!" said Merik as the two approached the outskirts of Pridia. "It is too late to turn back now, orcs have already begun the seige! Our destiny is calling us, my friend!"
Clowd hovered higher into the sky above, deep contemplation on his horned face.
"And, what do you mean you have never killed anything? You are over one thousand years old and you have never even killed anything for dinner?" yelled Merik.
"I'm a vegitarian! How long have we been friends, Mer'? I cannot believe you had no knowledge of that!" yelled Clowd.
"That is a full load of warg dung! Get this out of your system and help me defeat the pathetic humans once and for all!"
"It is always about 'defeating the humans' and 'avenging your bretheren'! When are you going to think about what I want out of our friendship?"
Merik halted at Clowd's piercing words and something came over him. Bowing his head, he thought I have thought only of myself. The whole time I have known Clowd, I have just used the dragon and its incredible abilities to get what I desire... I have tried to control it for so long....
Raising his head toward Clowd, careful not to look it in the eye, Merik softly said "Clowd... I am deeply sorry. I... I have used you and controlled you for selfish reasons since the day we met, never thinking about what you want to do or what you want out of the friendship..."
Clowd's expression softened. "Please, Merik, look me in the eyes and tell me."
Their gazes met. "It's just that, you're so big and powerful... I thought that if I did not keep you under my thumb, you would leave me." Merik said.
"That is outragous! I would not... I would never leave my best friend."
"I had always thought that... you considered Chib your best friend...."
"No... you, Merik. You."
Merik was speechless; a single tear ran down his green face. Clowd landed slowly near where Merik stood.
They both remained silent for a long time, the sounds of war ringing in their ears, their silouette painted black against the full white moon.
"Well... what do you wish to do, then?" asked Merik quietly.
Innocense washed over Clowd. "Let us... let us fly away together, as high as my wings will take us! I can show you wonders of this world you have never dreamed of!"
"You said... you told me you hate being ridden by orcs..." said Merik.
"That was before... before I really knew one."
Ecstatically, Merik lept up onto Clowd's scaley back. They took off instantly into the moon lit night, hindered by nothing. Over the trees and through the clouds they soared, together, resolute, in their newly fortified friendship.
As dawn slowly approached, Clowd glided over a peaceful meadow and carefully landed. Shaking a sleepy Merik off its back, the dragon dodged away from the orc and hid its face in its wings.
"Wha... what is the matter, Clowd?" Merik asked, groggy and confused.
A deep sigh came from the dragon, its wake shook the surrounding trees. Merik looked on impatiently, waiting for an answer.
"I am afraid," whimpered Clowd.
"Tell me, what is it that frightens one of the mightest dragons in all the realm?"
"I am afraid that I am not sure... of a love no medicine or enchantment can cure."
"What is it you speak of, Clowd, talk to me clearly."
"I think I love you!" shouted the dragon. Clowd intently watched Merik's face for his reaction to this sudden declaration.
"I... I do not know what to say... Clowd...."
"Please, just say 'I love you, too'...."
"I love you, too."
They ran into each others arms as fast as their legs would take them. Their embrace was sweet and deep and they knew each other well.
Several hours later, in mid-afternoon, Chib flew about the
meadow, humming a cheeful tune. When she approached the odd
couple, she immediatly burst into uncontrollable fits of
laughter. They were spooning against a very tall tree, Merik
lying peacefully on Clowd's large belly.
"Oh... hello." said Merik, sitting up smiling. "It appears as if we won't be able to keep this a secret, now that you have found out.... Clowd and I are... well... we are in love."
Chib continued laughing after he said this.
"Chib! This is not a laughing matter, we have declared our love for one another and plan to live out the rest of our lives together."
Laughing still, Chib fell to the ground and started rolling around in the grass, unable to contain this hurricane of emotion.
"Laugh all you want... nothing can change the way we feel about each other." Merik said smugly and laid back down. Clowd murmured peacefully, still asleep.
Minutes later, Chib finally got herself under some amount of control and took back to the air. She looked at Merik's happy face intently, as if trying to make a very difficult decision.
"What is the matter? Did my clan fall in battle against the Pridians?" Merik asked, sitting up again quickly.
"No, Merik, HA! They actually defeated them! You... hahaha, you have been made King, hahaaa, over all western man! I suppose that makes... that makes Clowd your Queen! HAHAHAHA!"
"Please, Chib, restrain yourself, this is ridiculous. And anyhow, dragons are genderless."
"I just cannot let this go on... it is not natural," she whispered to herself. Circling her hands about each other, she collected a magical energy in her palms.
"First, Merik," she said as she shot a blue bolt of the energy at Merik. He shook violently for a moment.
"What... what did you do to me?" he said, stunned.
"You fell in love with Clowd last night because of me... because of one of my spells, but I have just extinguished it. Darn conscience... wish I had been born an imp, they are not cursed with one."
Merik was silent for a moment. He lept off the dragon's belly, then straightened his garments and adjusted his weapons, "I am not, in the least, amused by your joke."
"Oh, get out of it, Merik. All in good fun, right?"
"Did you really think you could destroy my love for Clowd with a bit of magic? Love does not work that way, Chib. I have learned that the only way it exists is in truth."
"I am telling you that last night, during your conversation with Clowd, I put a spell on you both that made you fall in love with each another."
"That cannot be true! I still feel a deep love for this dragon and nothing anyone says or does can change that!"
Chib didn't know what to say to this, but then it dawned on her, "I understand now! The spell will not wear off completely until I take it off of Clowd, as well." She immediately turned her attention to the sleeping dragon and shot a bolt of blue energy at Clowd.
Slowly, Clowd woke up and looked around.
Merik's gaze was fixed adamantly on Clowd now, he leaned in to hear what the dragon might offer to dismiss Chib's story.
"What happened, where are we?" the dragon said, then let out a mighty yawn.
"Do you love me?" Merik asked Clowd, impatiently.
"What?" laughed Clowd. "Do I love you? What... what are you talking about?"
Chib hovered a short distance away quietly.
"You told me no medicine or enchantment could rob you of your love for me!"
"Merik, please, you are not making any sense," Clowd responded.
Merik abandoned the short coversation with Clowd and ran to Chib. "Clowd... Clowd does not even seem to remember what happened last night.... What have you done? Turn Clowd back to normal. Turn it back now!"
Chib sprayed Clowd with blast after blast of red energy, but nothing seemed to snap the dragon back into loving Merik.
"I am very sorry, Merik. I just do not have those kind of feelings for you," Clowd told the orc with a grim expression on its scaley face.
"I am sorry, too," Chib added, truely remorseful.
"...But... but, why? What happened?" Merik pleaded.
Chib suggested somberly, "I suppose it is like you said, Mer'. The only way love exists is in truth, and for Clowd last night, it must have been false and in vain. But for you, it must have been in..."
Merik became silent and thought for several minutes, as Chib and Clowd looked on waiting for him to say something. Several minutes turned into several hours, and when he was finally ready to speak, he had to wake Clowd and Chib up from evening naps.
"Today, I have gained everything I have ever wanted, and in the same day, I have lost everything I have ever needed. I have decided to leave on a journey. I cannot stay here and I cannot reign in Pridia. Please, return to the Merk Clan and find the one named Moor, son of Mirr. He is fit to rule this land as I would. He will be King until I return from my quest... if I return. I will be traveling to eastern shores, from which I will find my way across the Drungothian Ocean to the Continent of Roq'thera. There is a city on the eastern continent called Kerra'Sa. Within the darkest corner of Kerra'Sa, it is rumored, lives a seer named Jogjet, one of the mystical Rupamayn elves. If I find him, he will reveal to me my true destiny. Clowd, Chib, do not feel bad. It is not your fault.... Goodbye, my friends."
With that, Merik turned from the two of them and walked off into the eastern forest toward the setting sun. He looked back only once, and saw that Chib and Clowd were whiping the tears from their eyes; he forced himself forward, and began to whip them from his own.