Flames and Steel: The Chromatic War

A Side Story: A Cold Night In Varalon

Al’ev awoke. He wasn’t sure what startled him awake. But whatever it was surely was responsible for all the sweat he was laying in. He was practically swimming under the sheets on his bed! Either it was immensely warm in the room or the beds were made of water.

He looked around. The others were all sleeping as far as he could tell. Even the demon girl in the rafters and Harry’s pet badger appeared in a deep sleep. Knowing he wasn’t going to be falling back asleep any time soon, he decided to get some air. Grabbing his sword and simple clothing, he stepped out of the inn and into the Varalon night air.

It was quite cool out with a slight breeze barely tangible in the air. It felt great on his sweat covered skin as he began to walk around the city with no destination in mind. After all, his mind was on other things, like recent events.

Goblins, kidnappings, dragons…ALWAYS dragons…

With all that had happened since he first set foot outside his little house in Kassadin a few months back, he wasn’t surprised how his powers and skill had grown. Though his mother had warned him the consequences of using the magic inherent in his blood, he couldn’t help it. Events and perhaps destiny itself, were conspiring against him!

This world needed his help. That much was becoming more clear the longer he was out in it. Even if he wasn’t able to do all that much in the end, he knew he could no longer sit in some library with his nose in a book ignoring all that happened around him. The time for hiding had long since past. He had friends now that would help him out of tough spots and as he would gladly do the same for them. He recalled the wisdom of words he heard his mother say when he was much younger.

“Al’ev, while you may believe doing everything yourself proves you are strong, willing to admit that you could use help actually makes you far more powerful.” His mother had begun.

“That doesn’t make sense Mom!” A much much younger Al’ev had replied.

“It is through others that we grow, Al’ev. Without them, all that we do, all that we are, is meaningless.” She paused with a smile on her face. “Say you had all the power in the world to do as you saw fit. What would you do?”

Al’ev remembered he thought long and hard about that question before he had answered.

“I want to help people!”

Nalef had laughed then and patted him gently on the head. “So you have all the power in the world, and you want to help people with it. Good! But what if there were no people to help? What would your power mean then, Al’ev?”

“Oh…”

“Always remember that Al’ev. It is by accepting help that we are able to help others. And it is others that we become powerful for. To become powerful for any other reason is wrong.”

Al’ev found himself staring at a church’s doors and was clutching his mother’s stone in his pocket. He never let it leave his side lately. He didn’t want to lose what little of his mother he had left.

She had been right, of course. It was other people that made one stronger. It made one’s actions worthwhile. It was what made one matter.

His mind wondered to his companions and he smiled. What a crazy bunch they were!

Harry and his badger. The demon girl of the streets. The inquisitor, Eremes. The strange glowing girl, Caramel. The skilled blacksmith, Devon. Collector of excellent ale, Neo. The beautiful but strange Desira. The dashing rogue, Velius. Crim, the ever unpredictable ninja. The often perverted but amazingly talented Sindri. And Garyuu.

Garyuu….

Al’ev’s arm was growing itchy again.

Why had Garyuu’s death bothered him so much? He had been around death before. He had seen those he cared about die more often than he cared to admit! He was even forced to kill his best friend in Doul, Hal, when the dwarf had discovered Al’ev’s magic.

“So why Garyuu…” He whispered out loud.

This death felt different. It was almost as if it mattered more. As though it had been the drop of water that had broken the flood gates.

Al’ev came out of these thoughts and found himself aggressively scratching his skin. This is what had woken him up in the first place, he now recalled. Why in the name of Cayden Cailean was his arm so itchy lately?

He removed the glove from his left forearm and froze.

It was only for a moment and in poor light but he instantly recognized that tint of red anywhere. And it wasn’t blood.

“Oh no…”

He had read about this, once, several months ago.

He didn’t know much about how his dragon heritage manifested in him and had often moved from library to library in search of any information he could find. It was something to do as he hid from his father’s glance. There was nothing about him that made him different from other half elves. Even his propensity for magic he chalked down to his mother.

As he searched over the years he found there was surprisingly little scattered across the land on the subject of half dragons. It was as though half dragons were a taboo, a subject nobody wanted to delve too deeply into. Or the information had been purposefully purged from most records. But recently, just before he had been called upon by the mayor of Kassadin, he had been reading a book entitled “The Forgotten Tails.” It was a book he had borrowed from his neighbor, Ven.

This particular book was full of myths. Nothing that Al’ev ever thought could be of actual consequence. But the passage he recalled now had mentioned a woman. She was also a half elf/ half dragon and had fought against her nature most of her young life. This is why it caught his attention. She wasn’t willing to give in to the base instincts that often drove the majestic beasts.

He recalled the story…

One day the woman, Aris was her name, had found herself in an argument with a local fruit vendor. It was a petty argument over only a few copper. Nothing that should have inspired such emotion from the young woman. As the argument progressed, Aris had began scratching at her hands and growing more angry with the fruit vendor. When she realized what she was doing a couple of minutes later, she took a glance at her hand. What she had found were the scaly claws of a white dragon in place of her once normal looking elven hands. In her shock she almost missed them reverting back to normal as the fruit vendor screamed.

MONSTER!”

The story didn’t have a happy ending for the girl as Al’ev recalled. It claimed she went on to be chased out of the town and eventually hunted down by the all too prevalent dragon hunters of the ages long past…

He thought about this as he stared at his arm.

It appeared normal now and certainly wasn’t itchy anymore. But, without a doubt, those were red dragon scales.

He shuddered.

His father’s side must be taking a stronger hold on his physical being. Perhaps it was like an awakening of sorts. Al’ev’s magic had been much more potent as of late. Of course, he had also been much more argumentative and aggressive as of late too. He had even been angry at those he traveled with for no good reason!

It was clear to him, he thought as he walked back to the inn, that his father’s blood wouldn’t be held at bay much longer. It was just like in the story from “The Forgotten Tails.” Either he’d have to acknowledge it, find a way to harness it, or he’d be consumed by it.

It was that simple.

As he slipped back into the room and into bed he continued thinking about his situation.

He’d need some time away from the others soon. Hopefully things calmed down enough to give him that chance…

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