April 19 2015

The Exodus – by Themo Lock – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Themo Lock, entitled
The Exodus
(historical account from the Lockbrier archives, as recorded by Jerison the bard)
Background music “Lowland Invasion” by Smartsound

Therion Lock sat on his heels at the mouth of the cave system and stared up at a sky in turmoil, what should have been blue skies instead was smoke and fire. In the distance an enormous, jet black meteor sheathed in flame, parted the clouds and plummeted to the ground with a tremendous boom sending up plumes of strange purple dust high into the air. Shardfall, fragments of a shattered moon raining down on the land and laying waste to civilisation. He shifted his attention to the smoking ruins of Paxlair and clenched his fists in frustration and anger, the twin towers had been reduced to rubble and many of the cities homes still smouldered and smoked a sight that brought tears to his eyes. But it was not the deadly hail of stone that was the cause of this destruction; the bane of Paxlair travelled on leathery wings and had a name of her own… Adelind. The dragon had been driven from her lair by the shardfall several weeks previous and she now sought shelter in the cave system on the city outskirts. For many months the citizens of Paxlair had worked to shape these caves into a new home at Governor Winfield’s behest, the project was to be a haven from the chaos and a bunker in which to weather the shardfall. Deep within the underground system was a natural spring, stores of food and other supplies as well as an established mushroom farm. The senior mages of the city had also been experimenting with an unstable rift at the back of the cave as a possible last ditch escape route should worst case scenarios come to pass. Losing the caves to the dragon would surely seal the fate of the city’s population and all now worked tirelessly to secure the area.

Three times the beast had assaulted the city, each time driven off by Nanoc and the militia but at the cost of many lives. Therion and his family were masons and had been tasked with overseeing the construction, an overwhelming task hindered by tremors and darkness. Construction of the subterranean housing was now halted as focus shifted to the caves entrance, wooden framework was in place and stone recovered from the fallen towers was stockpiled nearby ready to be set in place. Governor Winfield now ushered the last of the Paxlair citizens into the cave system, a long procession of soot-covered refugees carrying the remains of their possessions while Nanoc and the militia worked to repair a damaged ballista and erect earthworks. Therion’s sons were were off with the foresters gathering timber and he nervously glanced at the distant tree-line before picking up his tools and returning to work. The wide cave-mouth needed to be closed off to a narrower, more defensible size and it was going to require a lot of stone to withstand the onslaught of a dragon.

“Dragonsign!” the shout rang out from a nearby watchtower and raised the hairs on the back of Therion’s neck, he spun on his heel and cried out to see plumes of fire descending from the skies into the streets of the emptying city. The militia took up position in front of the cave, readying their arrows and spells while Nanoc screamed instructions at a terrified engineer. Therion sought cover behind the piles of cut stone and fumbled to string his bow with trembling hands, he had not fired an arrow for over a decade. A deafening roar from above and the dragon came into view, wings folded back, maw open in a hideous sneer, the beast dove from the sky directly at the militia. “Loose loose loose!” screamed Nanoc as the militia launched a barrage of spells and missiles into the air, very few found their mark. Undaunted, Adelind unfolded her wings and slowed her descent, coming to ground directly in front of the militia. Molten saliva dribbled from her mouth as she inhaled deeply, a look of pure rancour in her eyes. With a loud twang the engineer fired his ballista with surprising accuracy, the oversized arrow piercing the dragon’s right shoulder and throwing her off balance. The beasts head flung to the side, spewing flame across the hillside as she whipped her tail at the ballista shattering the engine into splinters and sending Nanoc and the engineer tumbling back into the cave. The militia pushed the assault, leaping over the earthworks and bearing down on the beast with pole-arms and blades under cover of another barrage of arcane lightning and arrows. With horror Therion watched as the dragon regained her footing and charged, flinging the militia aside and disappearing into the cave. Screams echoed from within and the sound of dragonfire as those remaining outside fell to their knees in defeat, all was lost. Broken and bloodied, the engineer hobbled into view with a large yellow flask in hand “This prize will be her last!” he screamed, smashing the flask into the cave wall. The explosion knocked Therion to the ground, a stone splinter embedded into his forearm and ears ringing. Dazed, he looked around in dismay… the militia were all dead or badly injured, the city was once more in flames and the cave system was sealed. The governor and citizens could not have survived; there was no safe haven from shardfall. Paxlair had fallen.

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