Chapter Two - The Flight of Gaia
Gaia was the offspring of Draga, and of the line of the great dragons of the Elder days. He was small in size, still but a young beast not more than a few hundred years old. But his speed, power and pride of the creatures of his race was no less than that of his elders. Standing upright, Gaia was as tall as a giant, his wingspan was greater than any eagle’s. His hide, instead of the rough scaly scab of his ancestors, was softer and he was able to bear men or other creatures upon his back, though his pride would probably not allow this. Also unlike his race, Gaia busied himself with the goings of the world, and would usually be visible flying over forests and seas, being a bearer of news, good or bad.
It was on one of these many travels that he met with the great Leviathan of the sea, a beast who none now nor even then knew or remembered. Gaia was flying and caught a glimpse of the huge creature’s eye just below the surface of the water, as if searching for something. Gaia flew down towards the surface of the water, and even though he was of the race of dragons that grew to towering heights, he was surprised at the size of this new creature that he saw, for the creature’s eye alone, blue like the sea and seeminlgy full of an age-long wisdom, was larger than himself.
“Greetings great Eye.” Said Gaia, cautious of what the creature might be. “I am Gaia son of Draga, the North Wind. What news of the sea?”
The great creature’s eye sank further beneath the surface of the water, and then there came a sound, though nothing could be seen, like a huge roar of thunder but from very far away. “Greetings son of Draga.” The voice was so powerful that Gaia felt insignificant even for one of his race, his pride was humbled. “I am…” But the great beast had no name, and was only referred to as the Great Leviathan, Titan of the Sea. That was in an age forgotten by all that now live, except for the learned few. “I am the Sea, and it is in peril.” The voice replied.
“Of what peril dost thou speak, O Great Sea?” Asked Gaia.
“A great storm is approaching, and I see dark creatures that were not seen for an age. The creatures of the Sea are mortally afraid. Do you know Eriseth? He can help us, or none can.” Spoke the voice.
“Alas, no he cannot!” Said Gaia. “For Eriseth is a Wizard of ages long gone, and none have seen him for eons. But his, and the descendants of his kindred, still live in the great Tower of Eul of Gondland, south of here.”
“Eriseth is no more? What became of him? I fear that I have been asleep for too long a time. Very well, can you, kind Son of the North Wind, give to them this message?”
“It would be an honor, sir, to be the mouth of a creature such as yourself.” Spoke Gaia, and he was correct, although he still did not know what the creature was.
“Tell the descendants of Eriseth this. A great storm is rising, one that will herald a new age into the world, be it light or dark. The creatures of the sea are afraid, evil things move in, about and above it. They are seeking something, but what I do not know.”
“And what could the Wizards do?” Gaia questioned.
“Their duty: to learn. Learn why these new creatures are about, and with this new knowledge stop them.”
“What? Stop What? What is now about?”
“The Guardians, or at least their beasts. They are searching for someone from the land of Arianor from the Elder days. These now reside in Atlantia, the pride of men. Their city was attacked two nights ago, but the Guardians found nothing, the beasts are returning, I see them. They will be upon the vessel that escaped the attack, the vessel that holds that which they must not get. In two nights nigh, they will converge at this spot, and I am yet too weary to hold them off, gather the descendants of Eriseth to help. In two nights!”
Gaia bowed. “May we meet again Great Sea!” And he flew away southwards with haste, not because he understood the words and the need of haste of his mission, but because the Great Leviathan had inspired him greatly with his power and knowledge.
It was on the morn of the next day that Gaia had arrived at the great crater of Mount Fergathd the Furious. He had flown over the sea and land, over the lands of the people of Arák and Luijan, though none saw him for he was so swift. The trees however were aware of his passing and bent,their leaves rustling. The people of Luijan said, “oh, the north wind is passing. A storm must be gathering on the seas.” And those of Arák said, “a great storm is about to come, any caught at Rhorim unawares will suffer.” They did not know how correct their statements were, nor that all that they spoke were to come to pass.
Gaia strode up to the entrance of the cavern, which was nothing but a crack in the cliff wall of the crater with drawings of a staff on either side and an ancient script on top, and he called out. “Great Wizards of Fergathd, hear my call.”
For a long while nothing happened. Then an old man came out of the dark caves, with along gray beard and a grayish-blue robe and a pointed hat with a wooden staff in his hand.
“Greetings strange creature.” The wizard said. “I am Berégan the Blue Wizard, and appointed guardian of The Cavern of Fergathd”
“I am Gaia, son of Draga the North Wind, and I have a message for the descendants of Eriseth, something concerning what the mighty wizard hath done.” The dragon said. “Would you accept and listen?”
“The descendants of Eriseth do not dwell here, Gaia. They are away south, in the Tower of Eul, you know that.”
“I do, but my message and flight would be in vain if I had to take such a long journey. I shall deliver my message to any Wizard with the strength and Wisdom to fight the oncoming war.”
“Then give the message to my leader and councilor for it will be more effective if heard by him. Any message concerning the Mighty Wizard Eriseth is too great for a less learned wizard such as myself. Follow me young Dragon.”
Then Berégan led Gaia into the cave, which was dark and moist, and looked as if none dwelt there. The air was thick and the dragon found it hard to breathe. The path was small, and even though Gaia was a very small dragon, he had to fold his wings neatly behind his back and bow his head to get through. The only thing guiding the two was a bluish-white light that shone forth from the crystal of the Blue Wizard’s staff.
The passage eventually got larger and the Dragon could now walk comfortably. They finally reached a wall of smooth rock, and engraved in the middle of it were the same two staffs and inscriptions as were on the entrance of the cave, though no entrance was seen here. Where the door should have been, the wizard took his staff and while whispering something inaudible to Gaia,tapped softly. And lo, cracks appeared in the smooth walls and it swung open silently like a huge door. “Go!” Instructed Berégan “The Lord awaits.”
The dragon stepped into the new room in the cave, and found that it was not a cave at all. The room was a huge hall, with a very high ceiling. There was a soft glow that enraptured the entire room, where these came from the dragon could not see. It was as if the air itself shone with luminosity. The floor was carpeted and soft and scattered about the hall were statues of creatures and peoples, all lifting up the great ceiling. There was a human warrior with a sword in one hand, while the other held up the roof, another was a great serpent whose strength was so great that it still looked menacing while holding the roof up in one of its many coils. There were also numerous wizards and few dragons, which Gaia wanted to inspect more carefully, though he had not the time. The statues of dragons made Gaia looked small, the largest of these dragons only had the top of his head from the floor to the ceiling of the hall, where Gaia was only as big as one of the creature’s tooth.
In the middle of the hall there was an absence of statues, but there was a huge rectangular table with many chairs around it. Upon the table were piled many books and scrolls and inks and other items that were frequently used by wizards, but none interested Gaia very much. At the head of the table sat an old wizard, very much older than Berégan, and very much more tired. His beard was white, as were his robes, and his white pointed hat sat on the table next to him. Beside his chair, though still firmly in his left hand, was his staff, a long, smooth white rod with the tip that ressembled a man, or wizard’s, hand. Within the grasp of the metal hand was a softly glowing white crystal.
This great wizard glaced up from the scrolls he was reading and looked at the dragon. “What a small creature you are, young Gaia. Your father Draga would not be dismayed.” The wizard spoke. “Nor would any in your race.”
Gaia felt this a very rude way to greet a guest or messenger, but spoke kindly, for he was cautioned that wizards are very powerful and quick to be angered, especially those who looked very learned. “I am Gaia, Son of Draga.” The dragon said out of mere formality, for the wizard had already spoken his name. “I bring you news from the Great Eye of the Sea.”
“I am Dergathd the White, Wizard of the North, and I know of no Great Eye, young dragon. You are wasting my time. Why did that fool of a wizard let you in? I will deal with him later!”
“The Eye says that he is the Sea. He wanted to speak to Eriseth, but when I informed him that he no longer lives, he told me to give the message to Eriseth’s descendants. Since the message would not serve its purpose had I done so, I brought it here. It concerns the actions of Eriseth, or so I think.”
“Eriseth the Wise? Did this Eye know him? He must be an ancient creature indeed, and yet even I have not learned of him. Tell me, son of Draga, of this Eye’s message, and forgive my prior rudeness, for small matters were not meant to be handled by great minds. But if what you said is true and Eriseth’s actions were involved, then it is a great matter indeed.”
Then Gaia told of all the things the Eye had said, and Dergathd made him describe the Eye very carefully. Dergathd immediately went to another room and came back with numerous books and scrolls, and went through them, while Gaia waited on, for he was instructed to do so.
It was late in the afternoon when Dergathd raised his head from the books. “The Guardians the Eye said? That is a myth long forgotten, or is it legend? These books do not tell.” And he thought for a long time, stroking his beard and rubbing his head. And then a shadow passed over him and he realized something and became worried and scared. “You must bear me Gaia, we have a sea to calm!”
With speed, the two ran out of the hall into the passageway. Berégan was surprised to see them and asked, “What are the news lord? What is the need for haste?”
“A storm is coming! Eriseth’s job was unfinished or incomplete! We should hurry before what he struggled against grows to its old strength!” And with that Dergathd said no more, and continued running out of the cave. Then, Gaia did not understand what was said, but he knew that he had to bear Dergathd, but why and to where?
Outside, Gaia stooped low while Dergathd climbed upon his back, and away they flew. “Faster!” Commanded Dergathd. “Faster! Bear to the point in which the Great Eye was seen!”
Gaia was flying faster than he had ever flown before, and against the north wind. Night came quickly, the second night after Gaia had met with the Eye.
“What storm was the Eye referring to?” Asked Gaia, flapping his great wings.
“I do not know.” Answered the wizard. “But I think he meant a raging storm that affects both nature and the balance of power in the world.” And as he said this he pointed to the north. The were storm clouds were already gathering, and flashes of lightning were seen.
“What does it mean?” Asked the dragon again.
“Dark times, son of Draga.”
“And of Eriseth’s unfinished task? What of that? Was Eriseth not the greatest amongst your race? What foe is there that he could not finish that any now can?”
“Alas, this question I cannot answer.” Began the Wizard. “Lord Eriseth was the greatest amongst us, the greatest of the Arch-mage, the race of White Wizards. His tale none remember in its entirety. But this I recall: He had struggled in the greatest battle, the one fought two ages ago. We recall that he was the instrument for crashing the great Titans of Gág-un. An age ago, he led the army of all the races against the might of the Dark Lord Gorgath himself.
“It is said that after Lord Gorgath’s army was defeated, Eriseth himself went up to Gorgath and the two fought upon the remnants of the tower of Arlar, high in the skies. The sky was red, it was said, mourning the loss of all that perished in that war. Eriseth was there, gloriously on the first unicorn Firmane, glowing with a piercing white light, his wings beautifully beating against the black sky. But Gorgath was on his steed, the black copy of the unicorn that he had wrought. It was made more powerful and stronger than both the Unicorns that were sent to Eriseth for his task.
“The two fought, swords clashing, thunder roaring about and upon them. The rains came, and still they fought. Then Gorgath summoned a great beast, the Titan of his father that was not destroyed. For Gorgath was a wizard in his youth and had the power to summon creatures, which were taught to him by Gág-un himself. The last Titan was a Great Serpent, who spat acid and fire. Its body was huge and on fire, and it also had wings and claws, and red eyes that burns. And while this Titan fought with Eriseth, Gorgath fled. Eriseth eventually slew the Titan, and went flying through the still dark skies in search of Gorgath.
“Gorgath was found, and their battle continued. In air they fought.His body had crumbled and his spirit fled to the stars, but it was not welcomed there, Gorgath was slain. The beast Gorgath rode on, went into hiding, and gave itself the name The Zermane of Gorgath, after his former master and the first unicorn after whose likeness it was made.”
“What became of Zermane? It that the creature that the Eye spoke of?”
“I am not sure, but the Guardians had nothing to do with Zermane. After the last battle of the Tower of Arlar, A great council was summoned. What was said here only one alive knows, or perhaps two. The Wizards of Gondland have the event in scrolls, but they foolishly locked them away. In the council, it is rumored that great things happened that had never, nor will ever happen. Great powers were locked away, and to these powers were assigned Keepers from every race. And each race had a Guardian to protect its Keeper.”
“Then it is these Guardians of which the Eye spoke?”
“Possibly. But these Guardians were good, I wonder what had happened.” And with that the conversation ended.
Very soon the stars were concealed with thunderous clouds and the rain began to fall, lightly at first. As they came to the sea, the rains seem to only trouble the water’s surface, but farther out the sea became wild, with waves reaching to monstrous heights. Gaia flew very high to avoid slamming into great waves, which would prove grave at the speed he was flying at.
Dergathd found it difficult, for the speed at which Gaia was now flying through the cold air, caused the rains to feel like stinging marbles against his face. The wizard’s robes were soaked, he found it hard to keep hold unto the dragon, though that was not necessary for Gaia would not let him fall, but nevertheless he kept a tight hold about his staff, the light of which was now extinguished.
After a while, great creatures of the skies were seen attacking something on the surface of the waters on the horizon. Dergathd saw this and a greater fear fell upon him. “Whatever happens…” spoke Dergathd. “… Do not let the thing that the creatures are attacking to get into their hands, save it at all costs.”
And with that the Wizard pointed his staff at the creatures, freezing them from attacking what they were. But every so often one would break through and attack the boat. For as they got closer the keen eyes of Gaia saw that it was a boat that the creatures were attacking.
“The storm is feeding them, the storm brings fear that feeds them!” Shouted Dergathd, and keeping his staff pointed, spoke some words that calmed the sea and broke the clouds. But this spell had drained him much and he collapsed unto the back of the dragon.
With the storm gone, the creatures fled, but why, Gaia wondered. He thought for a moment, and then turned around. He had decided to place Dergathd ashore and then returned to help the thing, as Dergathd had said, that as in the boat.
On the shore, away from any of the villages of men, Dergathd was placed, still unaware. Gaia flew away back to the boat.
With the boat in sight, Gaia also noticed that one of the creatures were returning. But before the creature had reached the boat, Gaia came upon him, and the two fought, claw against hoofs, wing against wing, dragon against horse.
Yes, the creature was a horse, if he could still be called that. It's huge black wings beat down like great drums, but Gaia’s wings were just as powerful. The horse had a hideous face, with black eyes that shone darker than the night. Its skin was like that of rotting flesh, and every scratch that Gaia made seemed to have no effect, just a wound that would heal itself up. Gaia only wished that none of the other creatures came to help this one.
The dragon first tried to scratch the creature’s neck, but it healed almost immediatly. Gaia was so taken back by that, that the horse hit him with a huge hoof that sent him down inches away from the surface of the water. Flapping his wings, the dragon sprung back up and flew, jaws opened towards the horse. The horse, thinking that the bite was intended for his neck turned sideward, and the dragon got hold of the horse’s wing, biting into the flesh, tearing the thick skin that beat against the air. Gaia tasted the wing, letting go of it instantly, it was poisonous instantly. But now the horse was slowed, for its wing did not heal as easily.
This was the greatest battle to date that Gaia had to face, yet his greatest battles were to come, and these two creatures would once again fight, though in another story. In this battle, Gaia had already won. The horse no longer bothered to fight the dragon, but turned towards the boat, but the dragon stopped him. Again he tried, and again the dragon stopped him.
As they were fighting, the sun began to peer above the horizon in the east. The dark horse looked at the sun and sped away with the torn wing, forgetting both the boat and Gaia. Gaia dared not follow him, for fear of the horse’s numerous companions.
Far away the boat had drifted while the two beasts were fighting, and Gaia now saw that within the boat was a little boy who had seen no more than twelve years of the earth. The dragon quickly made himself invisible, as by the rules stated ages back for dragons pertaining humans. Not much of why this rule was made and when is told in this tale, save this. ‘Dragons were used by powerful men in the ancient days as instruments of war.’ Gaia could not understand how, because humans are a small race of creatures, and never had they played a great part in the development of the earth or its wars.
Gaia then stayed beside the boat, watching for the return of the other creatures, lest they should return. He did not know what to do, and thus guided the boat in the general direction of the area in which he had set Dergathd. But being invisible, dragons are weakened of their physical as well as mental strengths, and little did Gaia know that he was steering the boat towards the human village of Arák.
Three days past before the human in the boat woke. He looked out at the waters moving and let his hand touch it. He then looked up at the cloudless sky,no sign remained that there had been a storm three nights before. The boy then looked at his boat, and for the first time saw that it had a large amount of water, with more coming in, though slowly. He began to dip some out with his bare hands, but that was futile. He then caught sight of a sword that was lay under the water in the boat, picked it up, sheathed it and put it around his waist. He then looked to all horizons, hoping for sight of land, but none there were, not yet. The boy then sat down and slept again, for he was tired.
Gaia now realized what the boy had, the boat was sinking. Taking one of his huge, now invisible claws, he tried his best to keep the boat afloat, a task that became harder with every passing hour.
On the fourth day after the battle of the winged creatures, the green treetops of the land of Dúlan were seen. (Dúlan was the great mass of land where only the northern tip is governed by the Guijan kingdom and where Arák was but a spec.) Gaia knew that the boy aboard was hungry, and that being amongst humans would serve him well. Thus, when he saw the children of Arák playing on the shores, he steered the boat in their direction.
A little boy came up to the boat, and called out. The boy in the boat woke up, stood up, and jumps out. Just then Gaia let the boat go, and it sank below the sea.
Away Gaia flew to the east, where he had set Dergathd four nights ago. And after he was out of the sight of the people of Arák, the made himself visible again.
Upon his arrival, Dergathd was gone. A message was scribbled on the tree where Gaia had placed Dergathd next to.
“Bring the contents of the boat to me, Son of Draga. I am waiting!”
But Gaia did not. Instead he flew off to Fergathd to inform the wizard Dergathd of what he had done.
He again landed in the crater, but this time, Dergathd was at the cave’s entrance.
“What was it?” Dergathd asked. “Was it an amulet? A Ring? Where is it?”
“No, Great Wizard, it was a boy!”
“A boy?” The wizard asked. “So then where is he?”
“With the Arakaynians, north of here.”
“Fool!” Shouted the wizard. And he seemed to grow tall and dark. “Why did you disobey the commandments of a white wizard? Feel my wrath.” And Dergathd raised his staff.
Gaia tried to fly away, but an invisible force help him back. “Release me, wizard! The boy is not yours to keep! Let him go, let me go!”
Then the wizard laughed, and released his hold on the dragon. Away Gaia fled. He did not know that Dergathd thought of a plot to get hold of the boy.
Gaia had thought of telling this tale to the wizards of Gondland. But then thought against it. “If you help a wizard and get such thanks, then I would rather work against them.”
None knew of this tale until the boy, Ardeth, had grown and learnt of it himself.
--Dhabih 16:09, 29 January 2006 (UTC)