The golden beams of the early morning summer sunshine cast its warming gift across the forest covered Motupae plateau. The gigantic trees towering up towards the cloudless sky, shading a vibrant variety of flowers and other plant life that covered the forest floor, all of which formed the ecological foundation on this sub-tropical island. Yet as beautiful at the central land mass of the Romahati archipelago was, very few mortal races from outside ever dared to venture close to it. For what reason exactly there was such a universal avoidance varied wildly from culture to culture. Although if anything, there was one thing everyone could agree upon; this series of islands is best known for being a breeding ground for Dragons. Everything that lived here was ultimately sub servant to these magnificent creatures in one way or another. With the sheer level of magical power that the various Dragon flights and their kin held at their command, all of the natives who could comprehend their place in the world worshipped the massive flying reptiles as the closest things to gods on the mortal plane.
With creatures like these patrolling the skies from coast to coast, live among the Romahati natives was mostly a peaceful one. To one beast in particular, this day was not unlike any other. Weaving its way through the roots of the trees, a small, brown furred wolf pup sniffed the ground in front of it, fallowing a long and quite distinctive scent trail. Soon enough, the little predator found what he was looking for. Planting itself in front of a seemingly random green bush, the baby animal tilted its head in curiosity at an odd rustling amongst the foliage.
Carefully stepping out of the bush, a young female Dragon Sprite named Ruiha emerged, carefully cradling a sizeable pile of berries in her arms. Immediately upon seeing a recognisable face emerge in front of it, the wolf pup barked excitedly, pouncing on her and smothering her face in affectionate licks.
“That's enough, Cho-Cho!” the little Fairy exclaimed, trying hard not to giggle at the ticklish sensation her fluffy companion's tongue caused. “Be a good boy and sit already!”
The baby wolf imidiately obeyed, wagging its stubby tail and panting with it's mouth wide open, as if it was smiling. Pulling herself to her feet, Ruiha checked over her slender, naked body to look for any injuries she may have sustained from sharp twigs in the bush, or from the rough love her canine companion had subjected her to. The Fae forger gave special attention to the assortment of black, spiral shaped tattoos that were inked on various points of her body. These markings were of great cultural significant to her people; not just a display of physical maturity approaching adulthood, but also more unique patterns to reflect their individual talents. Ruiha held the back of her hands up to her face, checking the branching tree patterns on back for any damage. If any of er tattoos were to blemish, the ones that had most recently been applied were the most at risk. Seeing no unusual markings on her light bronze coloured skin, the young Dragon Sprite breathed a sigh of relief.
Once she had picked up all of her dropped berries, the young Fairy stretched out her dragonfly-like wings, flapping them rapidly to lift herself off the ground, hovering in front of the baby wolf's face. “I was wondering where you had wandered off too, Cho-Cho!” Ruiha snapped. “I almost thought I'd have to search the whole forest for you. You know I told you to stay put while I was searching for fruit!”
The pup drooped its ears and whimpered in apology. Ruiha sighed, immediately relaxing her posture as she leaned over to gently pet her companion's forehead. “Alright alright, I forgive you,” the Dragon Sprite said in a much softer tone. “But only because you look like you're really sorry this time.”
The loving canine quickly perked up and started barking happily once more. “You'll never change, will you buddy?” Ruiha chuckled as she opened a large brown satchel slung over the little wolf's side, dumping in the berries with the rest of the natural sweets she had collected that morning. The young woman ran her fingers through her long jet black hair, sweeping it away from her pointed ears and pulling out a few tiny bits of plant life that gotten stuck while in the bush.
“Ugh, my hair is filthy,” Ruiha groaned. It looked like she had a long evening of washing ahead to get her locks back to their regular shine. “Oh well. Time to head off now, Cho-Cho.”
With a quick bat of her wings, the small Fairy landed onto the back of her furry companion and pointed it in the direction of home. The pair had not ventured far, as they took no longer than five minutes to navigate their way to the end of the inselberg, close to where they lived. Ruiha stopped for a moment to gaze out across forest below her. No matter how many times she looked at it, the scenery of her homeland just as breathtaking every time. A heavy morning dew still rested on the vibrant green leaves, glistening with a sun kissed shine. A slight breeze blew in from the coast, gently sloshing the warm ocean waters that weaved it's way between the smaller islands surrounding Motupae. Even from this distance, Ruiha could see just how clear and pristine the waters were. Despite the aid of her wings, it was a difficult task traversing down the sheer drop that separated the top of the plateau from the coastline, so visits to lands edge were rare.
I love my home so much, the young Fairy thought to herself. She could easily spend hours just sitting there, watching the world go by. But with an increasingly jittery pup beneath her, and a village full of hungry Fae waiting for her, Ruiha knew that it was time to get a move on.
But the moment she turned Cho-Cho around to head back, the smile on the little natives' face vanished. Seemingly out of nowhere, a smoky black cloud was growing overhead, slowly creeping across the island.
“What's going on?” Ruiha said to her canine friend with grave concern. “The rains usually don't start this early in the day, nor this sudden.” No sooner had those words passed through her lips, a loud bang erupted from deep within the forest. The young Sprite held tightly onto her furry mount, her whole body shaking with fear as she watched on in horror at the firestorm that had begun to rage less than a hundred meters from where she was standing.
Just for a second, Ruiha spotted the being that was causing such incredible destruction. From what the observant Fae could make out, the figure was that of a tall and frail Dark Elf, his dark poison purple skin clad in thick, black hooded robes. The malicious figure gripped a skeletal staff tightly in his hands, the magical weapon oozing a black aura from the eye sockets of what appeared to be the skull of long dead, reptile like creature. With a flick of his fingers, the chaotic Sorcerer unleashed his power, reducing any plant life the magic touched to ash.
Ruiha's's tried to move, but she was frozen in place with terror All she could think about was the fate of her people. If she ran now, would she get there in time? Was there anything she could do to save it? Was everyone already dead?
What am I supposed to do? The Dragon Sprite thought to herself, wrapping her arms tightly around her body. The biggest threats I've ever had to fight off were a few angry badgers or foxes! Nothing like this...
Cho-Cho began to growl aggressively, its wolf instincts driving it to protect his pack mate from the immediate threat. A loud bark snapped Ruiha to her senses. “I've got to warn everyone,” the fearful Fairy said to her companion frantically. She firmly kicked at Cho-Cho's side to get its attention back to her. “Run home now, and quick! At the very least, we can gather survivors.” Heading her command, the pup bolted back into the undergrowth, running as fast as its little legs could carry it.
The thought of the Dark Elf dominated Ruiha's's mind. She knew that there was a strong possibility everyone she knew was already dead, but at the very least she would get conformation of that fact. Thankfully, Cho-Cho's memory of the route meant that the village was soon in site. Better still, it was all in one piece, untouched by the Sorcerer's wrath. The village of the Dragon Sprites was a simple yet functional work of craftsmanship, consisting of leaf huts of various sizes, held together and roofed by mud and leaves. The wolf pup charged through the centre of town, skidding to a halt just short of smashing into the tribal leader's residence.
“Halt!” Shouted a pair of male guards, their faces adorned with striking angled tattoos that emphasised their intimidating expressions. Like all Fairies, they were not covered in any clothing, carrying only a wooden spear and small sheild for protection. “What is the meaning of this disruption?!”
“Help! Help! Please, this is urgent!” Ruiha yelled at the top of her lungs. “I must see Glade Mistress Atunuka, right this instant!”
“Back off!” The guard on the right yelled back, pointing his spear at the little canine. “And remove the predatory beast from this village, it is a danger too us all!”
Cho-Cho began to growl at the blocking warriors. “Please, I'm begging you!” the desperate Fae pleaded, her eyes tearing up from frustration. “I need to speak with our Rangatari right now, otherwise we may all die!”
“That's enough out of you!” the spear bearing defender on the left commanded coldly “Get out of our s-”
“What is the meaning of this commotion?!” The Fairy leader stepped out from behind the guard, her arms crossed over her chesy, tapping fingers just below the golden rings pierced onto ner nipples impatiently. Atunuka stood a fair bit taller than the average Sprite, with Ruiha's's head barely reaching the broad shoulders of her heavy set body build. The elder woman's shoulder length black hair was tied back into a short pony tail, revealing the elaborate facial tattoos that signified her rank as tribe leader.
Ruiha dropped to her knees in front of the Glade Mistress. “Please, we are all in grave danger. A powerful Dark Elf is destroying our homeland with some form of shadow magic. If we don't do something right away, it—we will all die!” the young Sprite could barely keep herself from crying at this point. “We will...loose...everything...”
“Arise, Ruiha,” Atunuka said calmly, placing her hand on the shoulder of her distressed subject. “Take a deep breath and calm yourself. You say you saw a Dark Elf wreaking havoc on this plateau. Are you certain that is what you saw?”
Taking her leader's advice, the Fae forager took a moment to compose herself before replying. “Skin like a starless night, tall and skinny figure, long pointed ears. Though I only saw it for a moment, I could not mistake this being for anything else. It is heading straight for us as we speak.”
“Preposterous!” exclaimed one of the Guards. “Dark Elves never venture this far south, nor would ever dare to disrupt the forest. Lest they seek the wrath of the High Elven lords who's magic watches over the whole archipelago.”
“I swear I speak the truth!” Ruiha snapped at the guard. “What possible motive would I have tell a lie?!”
The Fae leader shot a harsh glare at the outspoken guard, “If I desire your insight on the matter, I will ask for it,” She said sternly. “Do I make myself clear?”
The Guard nodded. “Yes, Glade Mistress.”
Atunuka turned her attention back to the Sprite who had requested her attention. “I believe that you do indeed speak the truth. The strong emotions that you displayed are impossible to fake. There is always something off about the body language of liars, none of which I see in you,” before the Tribal Leader could say any more, another explosion broke the quiet atmosphere of the village. “There can be no more questions as to the urgency of this situation. Quickly, young one, send your wolf friend home and fallow me.”
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Ruiha nodded. Forcing a smile, the nature loving Fae faced her canine companion. “Sorry Cho-Co” she said, lightly petting the pup on its nose “Please head back to your pack, they are without a doubt worried about your safety. Quickly now.”
Cho-Cho gave reluctant whimper, giving lovingly nuzzle. “Please, my friend. I will be back for you soon, I promise. Protect your people for me, and everything will be back to normal before you know it.”
The baby Wolf quickly perked up, barking a cheerful goodbye before bounding back off into the woods. Atunuka spread her wings and leaped into the air, flying out through the back of the village with her Dragon Sprite subject in tow. They fallowed a small, winding dirt path through an overgrown section of the forest, filled with tangled tree roots and huge plants that were almost twice as tall as even the biggest Fairy.
“May I ask where are we going, Glade Mistress?” Ruiha asked, unsure of what her leader was planning.
“You will find out very soon,” the elder Druid replied. “I have a strong suspicion that this is no Dark Elf that we are dealing.”
The young Sprite stared at her leader in confusion. “But what else could it be? Did my eyes deceive me when I looked upon the thing?”
“Not quite. With destruction on this level, I suspect that the Elven appearance is little more than a disguise. I fear that the true threat we face is that of an Unholy Dragon.”
Ruiha stopped dead in tracks, the weight of those words hitting her like a brick wall. “I-If what you're saying is true,” she stuttered, “Then how can we possibly prevent our apocalypse? Surely we must have done something to invoke the wrath of the Gods!”
The focused leader flew over and took hold of the Fae forager's hand. “Continue to fallow me and you will have the answer,” she said reassuringly. “But we must keep moving. Time is not something we have room to waste right now.”
The doubtful Sprite simply nodded in reply and fallowed, still feeling overwhelmed by the whole situation.
But soon she should see what her Glade Mistress had in mind for their salvation. At the end of the winding road, the two Sprites were faced with a huge stone gate carved into the face of plateau step. A serpentine shaped shrine sprang out from either side, the stone pillars that held up the structure appearing to have summoned from the ground with powerful magic, rather than from any mortal tools. The whole place was huge, big enough to tower over an averaged size man, let alone a tiny Dragon Sprite. Carved into the floor of the shrine was a series of winding trenches, following the same pattern as the coiled walls, all leading to a goblet shaped baptismal alter in the centre.
“You know how to use nature magic, don't you Ruiha?” Atunuka asked.
“I know some basic nature spells, Glade Mistress,” the Fae forager replied, “Why do you ask?”
The Tribal Leader dug out a pair of flower seeds from the ground and handed one to her subject. “Place this in the centre of the alter pool and use a spell of growth on the seed. Our magic is the key to opening the gate and awakening what will be the saviour of this forest.”
Ruhia glanced up at the massive gate in front of her and gulped nervously, the size of the task not quite matching up in her mind to such a simple spell. Still, she knew what must be done for the sake of her homeland.
Dipping her hands into the pool of the alter, seed held carefully in open hands, the Dragon Sprite and her elder closed their eyes, focusing their magic into the pool. “Matoara ika ku taniwha mana!” The pair carefully chanted this simple spell, the power of nature glowing green in hands and illuminating the pool, gradually growing the seeds that they held. As the bright flowers began to bloom, their magic grew ever brighter, summoning up more water from a well below the alter until it flowed over into the aqua ducts on the floor. Once the petals of the exotic flowers had fully bloomed, the force of the spell reached it's peak, the water flowed all up through carving on the stone gates, lighting up the pattern of a Dragons' head.
As the massive doors unlocked, they swung open wide, revealing the silhouette of a green, long necked dragon rising up from its slumber. Spreading its wings, the serpentine figure dashed out its resting place in a bright flash of light.
It took a moment before Ruiha and Atunuka could open their eyes again, having been nearly blinded by the brightness of the sudden flash. But when they did regain their vision, they stood in awe the figure before; a tall human looking Wizard, with a long grey beard, holding a crooked wooden staff that curved over into a hook that glowed at one end. The magnificent spell caster was dressed in long, flowing robes that were coloured a deep shade of moss green, adorned with a variety of living plants that grew from the weaves of his clothing. The top of his robe ended in a baggy hood, covering the Druidic man's messy grey hair, parting only to display a magnificent pair of bony antlers that sprang from the wizard's head.
“I am the guardian of this forest, Dragon Overlord Tarmagos,” the humanoid creature spoke with a deep yet calming voice. “You have summoned me into your presence, young Sprites. A deed not done in all but the most dire of circumstances. What situation is there that you require my aid?”
“Thank you for your gracious presence, oh mighty defender of Motupae. My kind is in dire need of your aid, however,” the Glade Mistress gestured to Ruiha. “This the one who has witnessed the event in question. So I think it is only right that she explain what has happened.”
Caught off guard, the Fae forager took a deep breath to compose herself in front of the Dragon's human form, making sure her words would be precise. “Greetings, my Lord. My name is Ruiha Kamuluta, and this is indeed a matter urgency. There is a threat of which only you have the power to deal with.”
The mystical forest Overlord lowered himself down onto one knee and opened out his hand in front of the Fairy. “Please, climb onto my hand. I do not like looking down upon any creature of this forest, figuratively or literally. We are all responsible in equal parts for the ecological balance these lands, so I prefer to look at everyone at equal hight.”
Ruiha hopped on and the nature mystic smiled, raising the little Dragon Sprite to his eye level. “Now please, do away with the formalities and tell me the exact nature of this threat.”
“My Lo—I mean—Tarmagos, we are being attacked by what I fear is a Dragon of darkness. He has set much of the forest ablaze already and I fear that my village may be next. Please, I beg of you. Put a stop to this cataclysmic destruction and save us all!”
“Ruiaha, we cannot be so rude as to demand a Dragon Overlord's favour!” Atunuka scaled her more brazen Dragon Sprite companion. “We must be more respectful and demonstrate why our cause requires this kind of magnificent magic through actions, not words!”
The the Fairy tribal leader smiled awkwardly at the great Druid, rubbing her right hand on the back of her head in embarrassment. “My name is Atunuka Lewa. Please forgive my subject's bluntness, I doubt she has ever properly spoken to a Dragon before, let alone one of such importance as you.”
Tarmagos lowered his opposite hand, inviting the authoritative Fae to speak more directly. “Do not worry yourself. I can tell that your subject is a kind hearted one. When you have spent as much time in forested lands as I have, it becomes second nature to tell when something has gone wrong. While I have yet to see the destruction with my own eyes, I can feel the pain and sorrow that Motupae cries out. This not a matter I can overlook. You two should head back to defend your village. I cannot say what other threats there will be, but anything you can do will be of vital importance to the entire ecosystem. I will see to it that this creature of chaos, Dragon of otherwise, will answer for this atrocity!”
Once the two Fairies had flown off, the forest elder slammed the end of his staff on the ground, summoning a stream of bright green light to envelop him. Tarmagos' robes unfolded into broad scaly wings that, with one huge flap, launched him into the air as his body morphed into his true form, flying straight towards the carnage unfolding in the distance.
“Do you really think that Tarmagos will be able to defeat this invading termagant?” Ruiha asked.
“Do you doubt the power of our Dragon Overlord?” the elder Dragon Sprite responded, wondering why her subject would even ask such a question.
The Fae forager paused for a moment to think before answering. “No, it's just that...I've never known any creature to hold such power, not even a dragon. I can barely even conceive of what effects this kind of magic will have on our way of life, even if the invader does meet its end.” Ruiha dipped her head as the weight of her words echoed in her mind. “Glade Mistress, do you think I am naive?”
Atunuka shook her head, before reaching over to embrace Ruiha in a comforting hug. “No I do not, young one. Even I was not sure I would see the day that we would need aid from such an immortal being. But if there is one thing I am certain of, Tarmagos would not be fighting for our kind if he did not believe there was a chance to save us.”
The younger Sprite rested her head on her Mistress' shoulder. “I certainly hope so.”
Atunuka smiled. “I greatly admire your unbridled sincerity, Ruiha. Let us focus on getting back to the village. We must be prepared to fight to the end, should the worst be yet to come!”
The kind words of her leader eased some of the fear in the nervous Fairy's heart, enough for her to smile and follow the elders' lead. All of their hopes now rest on the power of the Nature Dragon, Tarmagos. Though both of them had a deep gut feeling that the ensuing battle would not be over quickly.