Simon Knox and the Prophecy of Asragur

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Chapter 4

"At long last!", Rodan's voice echoed from the castle out over the Lake of Eldor. The great rock in the middle of the lake, where Rodan's prison had been built by Asragur's magic, began to quake. The fog of Eldor revealed to its lord that the great Gateway to the Worlds had opened and granted the Chosen One entrance into Morana. Now it was only a matter of time until the last of Asragur's magic spell would be broken by Rodan's increasing power.

The castle looked foreboding upon the nearly black rock in the middle of the lake, the shore of which was surrounded by hills and dark forests. A quiet and cold forsaken place, built for all eternity or so it seemed. Helpless to do anything, Rodan had wandered around in the cold corridors of the dungeon, lit only by a few torches here and there, during these past centuries. He knew every single stone of this dark dwelling place, from the massive tower to the large hall down below.

The day of reckoning was drawing near. Rodan had sworn to crush anyone who refused to submit to his authority. He looked out over the water and a gruesome smile came to his face, revealing a deep scar under his right eye from his battle with Asragur.

Rodan had always been a fierce and furious elf, who demonstrated his superiority in his early years by playing horrible and dangerous games with the children of the moor elves. As a young elf, he delved into the black arts. Any morals, compassion or gentleness he might have had long ago disappeared from his being.

Full of hate, he thought back to the day when he was called to appear before the Council of Elders, only to be expelled, not only from the village but from Xuria entirely.

They had been afraid of him, he could sense it. He could literally smell their fear. He enjoyed the feeling and a pleasant shiver ran down his spine.

They were nothing but worms and dared to oppose him, and again he was blind with rage.

Rodan had spat at the feet of his people and cursed them for all eternity.

"Someday I will be the mightiest prince Morana has ever brought forth. The moor elves will beg for mercy on their knees, before I utterly destroy Xuria", he had spoken in a clear voice and conjured with raised hands. The skies over the moorland had grown dark.

Shortly thereafter, Rodan disappeared from the moor and peace gradually returned to Xuria.

From that time on he roamed Morana and in time became known as a mighty wizard to be feared throughout the land. Dark shadows always announced his arrival and terrified the creatures of Morana.

After wandering for so long and being tired of loneliness, Rodan met the Nagrim Oldur who, for worse rather than better, struggled through life in a small wood just east of Mount Tularon. He was also an outcast like Rodan.

The hunchbacked attacker ambushed his victim from behind with a moss-covered tree root to rob him of his food, money and boots.

Oldur punched at Rodan with a loud roar, not realizing whom he was trying to rob of property and life. Rodan warded off the attack of the Nagrim with one swift movement, like shooing a bothersome fly. Oldur flew in the air above Rodan's head and landed on his back in the middle of the path.

Rodan's shadow rose menacingly over Oldur. Like scales falling from his eyes, Oldur suddenly realized whom he had attacked. He was sore afraid and began to whimper and beg for his life.

"Oh my lord, my master", the Nagrim sobbed miserably in desperation. "Please forgive me. I will do anything you wish. But spare my miserable life. You will see that..."

"Shut up!", Rodan commanded the squirming worm under him. The feeling of power and superiority was exhilarating and so he chose to show mercy. He stood over the Nagrim with his legs spread and his cold eyes were upon the one who was lying at his feet and begging for his life.

"On your knees, you dwarf!", he commanded. Oldur scrambled to his knees, and looking up submissively, noticed a twitching at the corner of Rodan's mouth.

"Pitiful, stupid creature", Rodan thought and stared at the Nagrim with his baldhead and hunchback, who held his hands sobbingly over a face disfigured by scars and warts. Rodan considered how this hapless good-for-nothing, clothed in rags, could be of use to him. He decided that it was time for a mighty wizard of his status to have a servant to do the dirty work he himself detested so much. Thus he spoke to frightened Oldur. "Stand up, you worm! I will spare your life. In return, you shall serve me for all the days of your life. From now on, you will do what I tell you!", he said and leaned menacingly over his new servant.

"My master, my gracious lord", Oldur the minion replied. Again he fell to his knees and kissed Rodan's boots.

"Many thanks. I will prove myself worthy of your mercy and be your faithful servant."

Disgusted, Rodan gave the Nagrim a kick. "Grab my bundle and make haste, before I change my mind", he spoke grimly and continued on his way. Happy to be alive, Oldur went quickly about gathering his new master's belongings and hurried to follow Rodan.

Oldur very quickly proved to be as cold and cruel as his new master. Moreover, his submissive manner and his fearful gratitude made him a faithful and reliable servant, who endured his master's many temper tantrums in silence. But the first time in his life Oldur wore boots which Rodan provided him, along with coarse trousers, a simple shirt and a cloak to keep him warm. All of this only served to strengthen Oldur's loyalty towards his master and to bind them all the more ominously.

Many years passed in the land and Rodan turned into an elf driven by his desire for power and revenge. Impatiently, he roamed around Morana in search of Asragur the dragon king, to challenge him to the fight that would decide everything.

Help came by chance. One fateful day in the ravines of Mount Tularon, Rodan stood his ground against Asragur, knowing full well how powerful the dragon was.

"Your way ends here, elf!", Asragur thundered to Rodan. The dragon straightened up to his full terrifying height in front of Rodan.

"You can no longer keep me from the Well, Asragur. You will have to kill me, dragon", was Rodan's cold reply, sensing the chance this moment held for him - namely to usurp the power over the Well and to reign over Morana forever.

"So be it!", Asragur replied.

A fight to determine the fate of Morana broke out in the snow-covered hills of Mount Tularon.

Rodan ordered his servant to run for cover and started his attack on Asragur. The hours passed and they both fought to utter exhaustion.

Asragur knew that losing this fight would open the way to the Well for Rodan, thus forfeiting Morana's future. With all his might, the dragon forced himself into the air and gashed Rodan in the face with a powerful stroke of his tail. Weak and panting, knowing his end was near, Rodan fell backwards into the snow, bleeding badly. He watched as Asragur went into a dive, moving in for the kill.

Right before the dragon king reached Rodan, Oldur tossed a dagger to his master who rammed it into Asragur's body. Roaring with pain from the dagger in his chest and angry over being tricked, Asragur stood in front of a tired Rodan who was smirking with victory.

"You tricked me, Rodan of Xuria!", he thundered.

"I defeated you, Asragur, and now I demand my prize from you. I am the new lord of the Well and henceforth the ruler of Morana forever. Reveal now the way to the Well, king of dragons, before the last breath of life leaves your scaly body", demanded Rodan.

"You shall receive exactly what you deserve, elf", Asragur rumbled and the sky began to turn dark. A mighty storm came up and ice and snow lashed down over the land. All of Morana began to quake and huge rocks arose out of the water masses of the Lake of Eldor, upon which a castle appeared by the power of Asragur's magic.

All the inhabitants of Morana were witnesses to the next words of Asragur, which were carried to the farthest reaches of the land by the storm.

"Rodan, you fool, listen to my words", the dragon swore to his adversary. "The Well of Hope will manifest itself only to him who comes with a pure heart to quench his thirst. Only he shall be worthy to escort the Chosen One to Morana. Some day in the distant future, long after my reign has ended and before the Well has dried up completely, the great Gateway to the Worlds shall open to allow entrance to Morana for the new ruler. His power and devotion will nourish the Well for many years and will lead Morana into a prosperous future!", Asragur's words droned over the land.

"Rodan", Asragur angrily continued and lifted himself one last time into the air. "Henceforth you shall be banned to the fortress in the Lake of Eldor for the rest of your life, to ensure peace and hope again in Morana!", spoke Asragur, dropping down into the ravine to escape any counterspell by Rodan.

The snowstorm was so strong that Rodan and Oldur could hardly remain on their feet. Rodan heard Asragur roar angrily one last time out of the depths of the ravine. At once he felt the powerful magic of the dragon king. The icy storm carried him and his loyal servant away to the gloomy dungeon, where Rodan was to abide to the end of his days.

Badly injured and feeling how his strength was failing him, Asragur withdrew to the protection of the cold caves hidden deep within the ravines of Mount Tularon. Before putting one last mighty spell over the Well, he wrote down his prophecy upon the sacred stones. Approaching the Well for the last time, he sank into its depths forever more. Only a scale that had covered Asragur's heart remained at the edge of the Well.

"It won't be long", thought Rodan and stepped through the gloomy hall of the dungeon. Soon Asragur's spell would no longer be strong enough to hold him in this prison. The Chosen One had finally arrived. He would smash him like a cockroach, Rodan swore. Sinister laughing escaped this throat and carried out to lake. Time was short and he had to forestall the Chosen One by whatever means.

He wandered up the tower and looked over to Eldor, the moon reflected in its dark waters. His floor-length coat, made of ravens that had refused to submit to Rodan, blew in the arising wind. It appeared as if he would rise into the air to escape his damp prison. But he would have to be patient a little longer.

A lot of time had gone by and meanwhile grey strands could be seen in his long black hair. He angrily thought back on all the centuries full of deprivation, coldness and inactivity.

"The ravens!", he thought and went back into the dark hall.

"Oldur, Oldur!", he shouted through the castle. "Where have you gotten to, you good-for-nothing?"

The patter of feet hurried up the ancient stone steps to the hall.

"You wish, my lord?", Oldur asked bowing down to Rodan.

"The fog of Eldor has brought glad tidings that the Chosen One has come through the Gateway to Morana to accept Asragur's legacy.

"That is joyful news, master", Oldur replied.

"Send the ravens throughout the land. They are to bring me daily reports. I've got to know who is foolish enough to stand in my way and who he has at his side", ordered Rodan.

"My time is almost here", he continued to think out loud and his narrow lips formed a grim smile.

"What are you standing around for? Get a move on, or else! Or should I feed you to the ravens, Oldur?", he asked his servant and laughed aloud.

"No, lord, don't do that! I'll hurry!", Oldur hurried off in haste to do what was commanded him.


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