Chapter 4: Beginnings are Also Endings
Dragons’ independence is their greatest strength, but also their greatest weakness. An individual dragon is the most powerful mortal in existence. It may have lived for hundreds of years, and they grow larger than any other creature on Draezoln. They instinctively wield magics which human wizards spend lifetimes seeking, and their scales mock all but the greatest weapons.
And yet, for all their power, dragons are a diminishing race, for they have one weakness—a group of dragons is nothing more than several dragons in the same place, and may well be as inclined to fight among themselves as anything else. Even the oldest and wisest of dragons, though they recognize the success of the Races of Men, cannot truly comprehend the advantages of long-term cooperation. Though they have their own society, dragons will never have a true civilization.
This shows in the rearing of their children—whereas the children of Men are given much aid and care in their upbringing, dragon hatchlings are provided little more than protection, food, and the most basic of instruction, and otherwise are largely left to their own devices. That Solkh’Tolkharkha did as much as he did for my education was unusual for a dragon, even though it may seem callous among Men.
It seemed a morning much like any other, but before noon, Solkh’Tolkharkha led his young charge again to the armory. This time, however, he did not as usual indicate that Garkhen should take a weapon, but rather motioned him back with one claw before going to a bare spot of wall opposite the entrance. Then he began to chant, slowly tracing runes and sigils on the wall.
The gold dragon chanted in a Draconic so ancient Garkhen could understand only a few words—ward, lock, open, guard, light. The half-dwarf waited patiently and watched intently, sensing that whatever his mentor was doing was of great import. Finally, Solkh’Tolkharkha changed into his human form, and pressed his hands carefully on the wall. Suddenly a section slid back slightly, and with a slight grunt the shapechanged dragon slid it aside, revealing a hidden alcove.
Come, Garkhen, he said, speaking as usual in Draconic despite his human guise.
Slowly, Garkhen approached, looking beyond his mentor at the alcove. He could see only part of what was in it, but even that was amazing. A single suit of armor rested on a rack in the hidden compartment, but armor such as he had not seen even in the courts of the Kings of Men. It seemed made of pure platinum, yet it seemed hardly metal, but rather something living, for it was made to look as a suit of dragon scales. Almost Garkhen thought he saw eyes gazing out from the empty sockets in the helmet, shaped like a dragon’s head. But what most drew the gaze was the symbol of Bahamut on the chest of the armor, made of platinum and studded with diamonds.
The Platinum Bulwark, Solkh’Tolkharkha named it, Or so it was called. It has rested a long time… but it is time for it once again to do its duty.
Don’t worry, we’re almost to the part of Book II that sort-of has a plot!