And a Child Shall Lead Them

For four days the little mute orcish boy named Grendel had labored at his project in the small clearing atop a hillock overlooking the northern fork of the Marruse River. This was an overlooked portion of Maelonbourg on the edge of the barony of Serenity. It was perfect for what the little orcish boy had in mind. He had written his adopted mother a lengthy letter detailing what he intended to do, and in her wisdom she had agreed whole-heartedly that he should proceed. Grendel had set out the next day and made himself a camp on this hillock and the next morning he had commenced his work.

Although small, Grendel was deceptively strong. Being an orc made him well-suited to the sort of endeavor he was undertaking. He had already located a number of good-sized branches and to this he took a hatchet and a small knife and began to carve. It was a time-consuming task and Grendel turned all of his attention and focus on his work. Each one of the branches began to take shape as a brilliantly and exceptionally carved dragon. The branches were taken from three different types of tree, so they provided a pleasant contrast when the carvings were placed together. Grendel was able to craft the carvings with such precision that the five dragons could be stacked atop each other so that they formed a totem pole roughly six feet tall. Grendel formed the base of the totem pole to look like a mountain on one side and a cave on the other. The last day of his project Grendel put the totems together and made sure that they not only looked good but functioned correctly. When all of the pieces were in proper position they would slowly move about and change their appearance slightly as if they were themselves actual dragons. It was a glorious thing to behold, the sort of thing one might stumble upon in the woods and mesmerize whoever happened to gaze upon it.

There was still plenty of snow to be had here in the wilderness of Maelonbourg and it felt as if winter was just getting started. Grendel made a small snow hut to shield him from the wind, and inside he kept a number of animal hides he had brought. When his task was done in the evening of the fourth day he took a small hollowed out animal horn and blew it several times. Then he waited. There weren’t any clouds to be seen in the sky, and Grendel looked heavenward. He smiled to himself and watched the twinkling of the stars as the dragon totem slowly moved and turned in the clearing behind him.

The first to arrive was a magnificent silver dragon. From the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail she measured just over two hundred feet in length. Her name was Ella, and lately she had been roaming about the city of Resurrection polymorphed into the form of a somewhat short and voluptuous human female. Like all silver dragons she adored living in human form among other people. Ella loved beer and had befriended a number of people including Grendel’s adopted mother. This was how Ella had come to know Grendel. When Grendel had approached her with an idea he had been working on Ella had entertained it purely out of kindness initially. But the idea began to make more and more sense to her the more she watched Grendel as he drew it out with charcoal on parchment. While mute the orcish child was able to communicate complex ideas with tremendous effectiveness through artwork. Ella alighted in the clearing and watched the totem move as she walked in a great circle around the edge of the clearing. “So wonderfully entrancing!” she said with an audible gasp.

The next to land was a deep dragon, his maroon scales glistening in the starlight. He warily set down in the clearing opposite of the silver dragon, and the two looked at each other with distrust. This dragon’s name was Jurgen Tarragon, although he went by a number of aliases when he assumed human or dark elven form. In this his natural shape he measured around a hundred and twenty-five feet long in total. The two dragons hissed at each other but took no other action other than to pace a bit with the totem between them.

The third dragon to arrive was another deep dragon, this one a female named Yvellia Blackheart. She was the smallest of the dragons that were gathering here tonight, measuring a mere seventy feet in total length. Her small size made Yvellia feel more vulnerable than usual, and she was not accustomed to the wide-open spaces of the surface world. She circled a couple of times surveying the clearing and trying to discern if there were any threats to her well being aside from the humongous silver dragon. Finally, Yvellia decided to land, and set down almost on top of Jurgen. Curling up behind the larger deep dragon Yvellia stared menacingly at Ella. “I don’t trust you.” Yvellia hissed at Ella.

Ella ignored this and all three of the dragons looked upward as they heard two roars in the distance. Two gold dragons soared into view and set down in the clearing. The area now was quite crowded, and the dragons had to make room uncomfortably in order to keep adequate space between the metallic and chromatic beasts. The largest of the gold dragons was named Burkhart Klaproth, and he measured about two-hundred and thirty feet long. The smaller was named Syren Mirabelle, and she was close to a hundred and sixty feet long. Only a few days ago Burkhart and Syren Mirabelle had been married by the Archduke of Maelonbourg. Grendel had been their ring-bearer. As the five dragons sat apprehensively around the totem Grendel stepped closer to the newly completed carving and motioned for the dragons to pay close attention to the slow and deliberate movements of the mystically enchanted sculpture.

All five did, and it didn’t take long for the mighty lizards to become immersed in the ever-changing carving. It seemed to be telling them a story. Grendel sat down in the clearing and closed his eyes. The little orc was tired from his work, and he shortly began to nod off. As Grendel collapsed in the snow wrapped in his fur blankets the dragons continued to watch the totem silently and peacefully spin and dance. Hours passed. It was nearly daylight when Ella finally broke her concentration and blinked as she looked at the other assembled reptiles. Her voice calmed in reverence, Ella almost whispered, “I agree fully, and I am unanimous in this.”

Ignoring the silver dragon’s absurd use of the term, the other dragons nodded their heads, and each said, “I agree as well.”

Burkhart sat up fully and looked around the circle at each of the dragons. Here he was, normally considered to be the greatest of all dragons, and he had been taught a valuable lesson by an orcish child. Burkhart sent his tail out towards the totem and curled it around the base. In quick succession the other dragons did the same, and just like that a trio of lawful good dragons made a pact with two chaotic evil dragons. They weren’t going to work together because that just wasn’t ever going to be acceptable to any of them. But there was a lot of world to live in, even in the confines of this archduchy. Grendel had shown them a path forward, and they were going to follow it.