Chpt. VII: Fifth Journey

Rauron says:

Anar DF 2015 Mural new

“Oh, that’s a good one! Lots of things happened that summer. I received my second totem, powerful relics, infiltration, sabotage, we did it all. But let me start at the beginning.

It was the first summer after Autherdir Beriadanwen was called away to court to be assigned a new mission in the human lands. For a few weeks the then vacant position of Autherdir was open for anyone to make a bid, but it came as no surprise when in the end it was Condaghor Tegingûr who got the promotion from High Command. Neither was it contested, though for a brief while I had considered making a move too. Tegingûr had always operated side by side with Autherdir Beriadanwen, so it was only logical he should take her place in her absence. As such it was Autherdir Tegingûr who led us to the Feast of the Dragons this year. Having made this trip four times already, the journey and our arrival had become something of a routine at this point. We gathered in a predesignated grove, where a number of druids led us through a ritual that would guide us to the world of the dragons using the magic of the ancient woods. We arrived, found a spot within the army of the Green Dragon, and set up camp, al with practiced speed and efficiency. When all of this was said and done, we had some time left to unwind.

To my surprise, it was Limethion’s birthday. More to the point, it was his 300th birthday. There was a brief celebration and a bit of congratulating, though to be honest, it was also somewhat bittersweet. Limethion may be only 300 years of age, but he looks twice as old. This was the price he payed for fighting against necromancers and liches in the Undead War. I talked about this with Idilwen, Alyan and Lalaith, to see if maybe this could be reversed, but to the best of their knowledge, the damage was done and irreparable. Limethion himself later told me he was at peace with his condition, so that I needn’t worry about it either.
I soon found myself distracted anyway, because the Autherdir had decided I should have my tooth back. He referred to the broken tooth Autherdir Beriadanwen had knocked out of me three years earlier, when I botched a mission. I had later found that tooth on the battlefield and given it to the Autherdir, as a token of submission. Apparently she had given it to Autherdir Tegingûr, who now gave it back to me and had ordered Tarias to repair it if possible. Now, Tarias can take things somewhat literal, So if it was possible, he’d see it done, whether or not I had an opinion about it. He signaled a couple of my fellow soldiers, who promptly knocked me unconscious, then together with Lalaith set about fixing the tooth back in its place. I woke a little while later with a throbbing head and a very painful jaw.
With all the impromptu battlefield surgery out of the way, matters turned to politics. With Tegingûr now being Autherdir, there was an opening for the position of Condaghor. Idilwen spoke to me at length, expressing her desire for this position. This surprised me, as I had not credited her with such ambitions. Nonetheless, I’d support her, even if it would take me some getting used to.
The remainder of the evening was mostly just social pleasantries. A large gathering was held in our section of the Green camp, giving us the opportunity to talk and feast with our friends of the Dragon world. The Calenar were there, as was the crew of the Morigan and many others. Yuna the kender sang plenty of songs, and fire dancers provided a good show. Sylvitharion and I also took the time to visit the Pack of Tarek. We were very curious how they had fared in the last year, since Tarek had announced the pack would have to break up for a while. The pack had since recovered and thrive, it seemed. They had discovered and protected a sacred cairn against the corrupt forces of the Wyrm, founded a Sept and claimed new titles for themselves. Tarek was now named an Elder, while Karuvenna was a Keeper of the Land. These things meant little to us, but I shared in their happiness at the fortunate turn of events all the same.
Late in the evening I also had a private conversation with Sylvitharion, who explained to me all the dealings that had been going on with the orcs to the north of our homeland. He was very much involved with those tribes and their underlying alliances. He also had a fair number of enemies amongst them, plotting against him. It was one such plot that had him disappear for several months a few years back. It was a good and lengthy talk, though In the end, as I headed for bed, I felt like he had still left out the most important bits.

The first full day in the world of the dragons was mostly filled with politics, as is tradition. I still have little need or love for politics, but as I’d decided to become a more engaged member of the Anarquendor and foster some actual ambitions, I strived to show interest. Haradir and I spend much of the day ferrying messages. The first call of order was inviting the human Kartan, who was made melon an Anarquendor. I never had an outspoken opinion of the man, but he’d always been reliable and trustworthy, so it was well earned. Throughout the day there were more meetings and speeches, but the occasional stormy downpour caused regular interruptions and delays. Eventually the camp was gathered at the gate to hold this year’s election. Robert Griffin was appointed the Inner Rat, which he won from King Beor with our help. Yuna went for Ausserrat, which she won by a very large margin, again with our support. Finally Fin went for Kriegsrat, which he too won with our support, though for the briefest of moments it seemed Melion, who had agreed not to make a bid, would try to make a claim. However, he held a speech promoting the path of change, after which he expressed his support for Fin.

In our own camp there was a lesser form of politics going on, as Haradir came to talk with me, surreptitiously touching on the subject of the Condaghor position. It wasn’t hard to perceive his attempts at gauging my own interest at the position. As it turned out he supported Idilwen’s bid, but she wanted to avoid an election and would redraw if anyone else stepped up. By now I’d grown curious to see Idilwen as Condaghor, so I expressed no intentions of opposing her.
The Champion fight provided a bit of distraction between all of the talks. This year Tarias would try his hands at the title, facing of against several human warriors to determine the best fighter of the Green camp. Tarias fought his way through the first couple of rounds, to no one’s surprise. The third round was a three way battle between Tarias and two humans. Seeing the greater threat, the two humans first ganged up on Tarias, one slipping in a knife from behind and removing him from the fight. Lalaith healed him up quickly, but for him the fighting was over. After that the duels only included some humans, so I lost interest.
The Green camp often attracts elves from various worlds, but one foreign tribe drew my attention. Gilthir was among them, for starters, but I only spoke to him a couple of days later. This tribe named itself the Lonatho, and they came from a world much like our own. Their ways were much more barbaric though, and they greatly deified spirits and totem animals. They had been charged with the empowering ritual of our army’s Circle of Power. To this end, I helped them assemble some crude constructs with sigils on them. They proved a very kind sort of people, and it was nice to find a use for my woodworking skills. Afterwards I watched them perform the rites, which they did with great care and devotion. It also impressed the Avatar, who awarded them an egg for their endeavors.

In the soft warmth of the evening, Sylbitharion and I met up with Kronon and Cha’Kar. The four of us discussed the plans for the nightly raids. After the opening ritual, all was fair game, and we intended to secure some flags as soon as possible. We had our eyes set on Gold, Copper and Chaos. While the plan to secure the golden flag was solid as far as I was concerned, the plan for the copper and chaos flag was sketchy at best. I expressed my concern, but they paid it little heed. Eventually they did abandon the plans for Chaos and Copper in favor of focusing on the Gold flag first, though their reasoning had nothing to do with my objections. Did they disregard me because of my inexperience? I couldn’t guess. Whatever the case, I was satisfied with the end result, so I let it lie.

Soon night was setting in, and many Anarquendor went to attend the great opening ritual. I’d seen it plenty of times before, and many discard it as little more than a formality that heralds the start of the Feast of Dragons, but I’ve always considered it to be something more, something bigger. Even disregarding the arcane forces that permeate the Great Ritual Circle, when all the armies gather around to witness the opening ritual you can feel the atmosphere being charged with intent and anticipation. And there are always a couple of surprises. Because the Silver Dragon had won the Feast last year, the Silver Avatar was the first to be summoned into the circle. And she did so with grace, I admit. She rode in on a magnificent unicorn; a proud majestic silver-white warsteed, a radiant horn adorning its forehead. It was a strong willed creature, not so much being steered as it was permitting to be ridden.
The bigger surprise of the ritual however was the creation of a new Dragon. Two young girls entered the Ritual, each bearing half the shell of a dragon egg. From within these hollow shells sprouted flowers of a blinding brilliance, emitting a light both glorious and soothing. From this light the White Dragon, and thus the White Avatar, had been created. Or so I was told afterwards, though my sources were dubious and biased at best. Some aggrandizement was involved, I’m sure. But I’m getting ahead of the story.

After the ritual the armies broke up and went their separate ways. This is the point when security in most camps is laughable. As the armies return home, no one bothers checking every individual walking into their camp. At this time it’s generally a triviality of infiltrating another camp. We had used this exact trick a couple of summers ago in the Black camp, and Sylvitharion and I did it again this summer in the Gold camp. Once inside we mingled, asked around, talked to some locals, until we finally found ourselves in a loose collective of adventurers calling themselves The Grand Expedition. Here we stayed for a couple of hours, talking and drinking as slowly more and more humans -warriors of the Hairulf from the Green camp- trickled in, all posing as members of the Gold camp. At a predesignated time, well past midnight, when most everyone had gone to bed, our merry band of infiltrators walked up to the gate. At the same time a reasonably sized force from the Green camp arrived outside to claim the golden flag. Only a few guards were still on duty at the gate, and we the infiltrators by now outnumbered them, and dispatched them before an alarm could even be raised. We quietly claimed the flag and collectively walked back to the Green camp. Our first mission was a resounding success.

The next morning could almost be considered lazy. Having participated in the night mission, I and several others had permission to sleep in, which I did. Apparently I missed a battle outside our gates as I slept. This goes to show a warrior may grow used to anything and can sleep anywhere, given enough experience.
Shortly after my breakfast, I ended up in a conversation with Autherdir Tegingûr. The talk was brief, though intense, and I can’t do the exact conversation justice. But the gist of it was this. I no longer wanted to be beholden to anyone on account of my shapeshifting. I did not want my being unable to control it to be held against me. I did not want being a shapeshifter to be used as a means to pressure me, directly or indirectly. There’s a lot of context here that would take me days to explain, so take my word on it that this was an important conversation. The Autherdir agreed, but only if I did something in return. If I wanted to be in control, I’d need to take control away from something else. A trade of sorts. If I accomplished this, I would no longer be held in debt.
To this I agreed. I’d take control away from the Green Avatar.

Before you judge me, hear me out. We of the Anarquendor had a long running feud with the Green Avatar. She represented nature, yes, but in a fashion too docile to our liking. She lacked the fire of the wild beasts, the hunger of the hunting pack. She was more akin to the old trees of the ancient woods, strong and unyielding, but set in their ways, uncaring and apathic. She took insults and grievances and dismissed them as unimportant, blind to the message this send to her underlings. Every time we pushed and provoked, she failed to retaliate. We were allowed to grow unruly. She had lost our respect. We needed a new avatar, and for that, the old one would have to disappear. I intended to take this as far as I could. Of course I did not expect to kill an Avatar, but I figured I might hurt her bad enough, given the right circumstances. My first step was to acquire a weapon. For this I turned to the other Avatars.

I spend most of that afternoon speaking to some of the mightiest creatures in existence. I let myself be guided by my snake totem, and the words flowed like sweet honey. I used diplomacy where it proved sufficient, guile were it did not, and one after the other the Avatars blessed me or the weapon I had intended for this use. I told them I hoped to fight the Chaos Avatar using this dagger, sure that I would likely die in the attempt, but that wounding it would be sufficient for me. This tale played on their hatred for the Chaos Avatar, whom was an enemy to almost all of them, and gave it all the morale grandeur of honour and self-sacrifice. The ensuing talks were memorable. The Golden Avatar greatly appreciated my choice of weapon, the quick and invisible dagger. In the end justice was about the result, he reasoned, not about how it was executed. The Red Avatar considered my plan to be against the rules, but saw fit to make an exception, moved by my intent and conviction. Blue almost considered it great fun and was certainly willing to give me his blessing. He even hoped to attend if I could give an exact time and place, which evidently I could not. The Black Avatar was the only one who proved suspicious. Perhaps she remembered me from previous encounters, or perhaps she was simply distrusting of my story. Either way, she carefully scrutinized my intentions, her fiery eyes boring into my skull as she gauged my sincerity. In the end she agreed, placing a Dark Blessing on the dagger. If I used the dagger for anything other than what I claimed, I would be compelled to end my own life. This set me back a little, but it was nothing I couldn’t work around. I’d cross that bridge when I got there.
Other Avatars followed, and In the end I had all blessings except for the blessing of Chaos, whom I loathed, Copper, who refused me, Green, who was to be my target, and Silver. The Silver Avatar as such was the last whom I approached to complete this stage of the plan.

As I walked up to the gates of their camp I noticed a lot of commotion on the field. I was not equipped for battle, so I kept my distance and watched it all unfold. The Silver army had brought out the Black flag which they had captured some time ago, and had planted it in the middle of the battlegrounds. They then declared a free-for-all, and whomever would fight most in conjunction with the philosophies of the Silver Dragon would receive the flag and earn their trust and alliance. The result however was an absolute mess of a disaster. The temptation of a free flag provoked all armies into mobilizing and slamming in to each other. Strategy was pointless, tactics short lived. It was nothing short of a slaughter. The Green army then threw its full weight into the fray, scattering any survivors, and proceeded to lay siege to the gates of the Silver camp. Suddenly I heard a strange rumbling sound, and the air shimmered with the haze of sinister magics. A foul contraption of slithering metal coiled its way towards the Silver gate and bashed into it with unnatural force. Chaos had joined the siege, and the Green army made room for them! I had heard rumors of the Green army and the forces of Chaos fostering some friendships, but I had discarded these as absurd fancies. Now it seemed there was truth to these talks.
In a distant corner of the battlefield I spotted the Silver Avatar. She stood outside the walls of her camp, watching the siege with disgust on her face. I hesitantly approached her, still seeking her blessing. When she heard I was of the Green army, she used me a s focus for her ire at the Green camp fraternizing with the despicable forces of Chaos. Evidently I agreed with her, and my story of how I sought a blessing to challenge the Chaos Avatar found her approval.
Now in the possession of as many blessings as I was like to get, I returned home to contemplate the next step of the plan.

Before I could make my next move however, there were other tasks that needed attending. Bjorn Valgardson, a proud warrior and warleader of the Hairulf clan, was to receive a Totem. This ritual would prove tricky though. All the Anarquendor were ordered to attend and stand by in case of trouble. A wise call from our Totem-shaman, Yava’In. The totem, a Capricorn, was unfamiliar to us. That by itself warranted additional caution, but the ritual would also be lead by Hadingur. We later learned he had prepared for this ritual by letting himself be imbued by the fighting spirit of Red Avatar. The powers thus unleashed into the ritual proved very much beyond his control. Three Capricorn spirits answered the call! Bjorn had to fight fiercely and stand his ground to overcome them. In the end he was victorious, and the spirits dissipated without any of the Anarquendor having to intervene. This was just as well, because I needed to save my strength.

As the first stars appeared on the night sky, Yava’In came up to me. “It’s time.” she said. I nodded and set out to prepare myself. Haradir and Maurilin helped me with this, talking to me and keeping me company while we waited for everyone to get ready. I’d been anticipating and dreading this moment, when I would receive my second totem and my shapeshifting ability would be bound to my soul. It would be an intense ritual, involving vast unknowable powers. Alyan had arranged for us to have access to the Great Ritual Circle at the heart of the Feast of the Dragons. I’d passed it by countless of times, but now, when I’d stand in its center for the first time, it seemed to loom up on the hilltop it dominated. We of the Anarquendor took our spot within the circle of ominous statues, an otherworldly light filling the area. I was dimly aware of onlookers, friends from the Green camp, but I was too nervous to acknowledge them. Alyan, Limethion and Lalaith were in control of the first part of the ritual, which would release my shapeshifting from the grip of Rystil and deliver it to my control. Alyan began to speak, but almost immediately I felt myself rebelling against his words. “You have offended Rystil.” he shouted loudly into the night sky, addressing both me and our surrounding. “you will first ask her to forgive you.”
Something rose up in me, like a coiled serpent snapping out at a threat. “I will not!” I yelled. Rystill had inflicted me with this curse, and now that I had accepted it, the shapeshifting was mine and mine alone. Everything that had gone in my youth had been her doing one way or the other. I was not beholden to Rystil; if anything she’d have to ask me for forgiveness!
My emotions ran high, and I don’t recall exactly what was said and done after this point, but it went something like this. Alyan and I exchanged heated words and he demanded I should kneel before the altar of Rystil. When still I refused two other Anarquendor, including Limethion, forced me to my knees. My vision blurred and rage clouded my thoughts. I felt the liberating power of my beastform manifesting, but at the same time I felt trapped, confused and disoriented. I saw myself as the beast, but I also saw through my beast eyes, looking down on my elven body. Limethion was yelling. A split soul. The beast had to be killed! He raised a weapon. In normal circumstances I could easily have mauled him in my beastform, but confused as I was I could not put up any resistance. It was Lalaith who rescued me, jumping in front of Limethion., arguing with him. “Rauron and the beast are one and the same being! You cannot kill half a soul!”
Limethion relented, instead performing a rite of Angharad, Keeper of the Bridge, Goddess of Death. He tied a ribbon around my arm and that of my beastform, connecting us. He spoke, but I did not hear what he said. My vision was blurred, all sound was muted, overruled by eerie voices, muttering the ancient prayers of the long dead. An infinite void engulfed me… It was… I don’t like talking about it. I had seen, had felt that void before. Had I known what Limethion intended to do, I would have resisted. Of course I’m glad to be alive, but…
Anyway, the point is, I emerged from that void, whole again, beast and elf. I was exhausted, but I was me. The first part of the ritual was thus completed. A Fire dance purged the Ritual Circle of any lingering influences that might have crossed over from that other place, and the second ritual was initiated. Yava’In and Sylvitharion called upon the spirits and summoned forth the Totem spirit of the Beaver. I was to fight it, to prove my worth. A totem ritual is dangerous in the best of circumstances, and in my current state it was downright lethal. But I was not going to back down now, when I’d just stood up to the Goddess of Nature, survived the caress of the Goddess of Death, and had been reunited with my beastform. And even if all that resolve would prove insufficient, the jealous support of my Snake totem gave me the upper hand I needed. In the end, I emerged victorious. The ritual came to an end, the mystical lights faded, the world returned to normal. I recall the elation afterwards, the smiles and the laughs, but I can’t recall a single word of what was said. I went to bed early and slept a deep and dreamless sleep.

Apparently command had allowed me to sleep in, pardoning me missing an early shift. I woke up late, still somewhat tired and cold despite the warm morning sun. The touch of Angarad does not fade quickly. A strong breakfast restored some life to me. The early noon was spend in combat practice, and I was inspired to fabricate some training equipment. I like to think this burst of productivity was the first token tribute of my new Beaver totem.
Around noon I had some time to myself, and I took the opportunity to see the Lonatho again. I was very curious to speak with Gilthir again, to learn how he was settling after his departure from the army a few years ago. He had journeyed far abroad and had made his home amongst the Lonatho, a foreign tribe of elves. His new live seemed to suit him, and he looked genuinely happy. I was surprised to see him taking care of a child, but he explained it was a foundling, an orphan of war, that they were fostering until they could find it a home. It was sweet to see Gilthir, a survivor of the last stand of the Galathethu, be so tenderhearted.
Back in the Anarquendor camp things were far less peaceful. Yava’In and Sylvitharion had called in Hadingur for a small totem ritual. I wasn’t fully aware of what this was all about, but my guess was both shamans had something to say about Hadingur’s sloppy performance during the summoning of the Capricorn totem. All the Anarquendor were called to attend, both as a lesson and to keep an eye on things. I together with Tarias stood guard at the entrance of our camp, so I could see everything happening, but heard little of what was said. Yava’In confronted Hadingur with his lack of focus. The human was dividing his efforts between being a ritualist and being a warrior, failing to realize his kin could barely grow old enough to grasp the basics of either. The talks grew angry, escalating from reprimands to denials and accusations. In the heat of the argument Sylvitharion used his shamanic influence to strip Hadingur of his Ritual powers. Hadingur retaliated by striking out at Sylvitharion. Seeing this happen a few dozen feet away, I braced to intervene. No one strikes a fellow Anarquendor, reasoning be damned! Tarias stopped me with a shake of his head, and I heard the Autherdir say Sylvitharion deserved that punch. I relented a little, but remained tensed, ready to strike should Hadingur try something like that again. Eventually the situation de-escalated, and the ritual commenced properly. Yava’In and Sylvitharion together summoned a dozen or so spirit animals, who all confronted Hadingur one way or the other, mocking him or berating him. This went on for several minutes, until suddenly Yava’In collapsed and Sylvitharion jumped to his feet and staggered to the gate of our encampment, were he sagged into the arms of me and Tarias. He took several struggling breaths, staring into oblivion. Then, with eyes devoid of anything elven, he mumbled “Feel the beating of the heart of the eldest moon”, before snapping out of his trance-like state.
Things slowly settled down. Hadingur went back to the Callenar, Yava’In and Sylvitharion took a moment to recover, and the Anarquendor carried on with their assignments. I too had received several missions. Before the ritual, Sylvitharion had informed me about the covert objectives of our camp. This included sabotaging the alarm bell of the Silver camp. This suited me perfectly, as I had other meetings in the Silver camp. I took Torben with me, and together we talked our way past the heavily guarded gates. Once inside I… took care of some personal matters, after which we sabotaged the bell as instructed. This was mostly a matter of patiently hanging around as the entirety of the Silver army was assembling a few feet away.
We reported back in our own camp a little while later, happy with our success. Sylvitharion still had a couple of ideas though. “Do you remember those bright white flowers in the egg shells that we saw in the opening ritual?” he asked, “Can you get them?”
A mad idea came over me, and I’m sure I smiled when I said “I’ll look into it.”
Now, what happened next was one of my most efficient missions ever, and it went so smoothly the dullness of it would do it no justice what so ever. So all I’ll say is, within half an hour I returned to the Anarquendor camp, both bowls of flowers in hand and grinning like an idiot. The Autherdir was genuinely impressed and opted to gift these flowers to the Avatar. The Avatar, as it turned out, had ascended to the Green Dragon, to undergo the changes of nature, or some such mystical vaguery. As such it was a well into the night before I and Haradir, escorted by the other Anarquendor, walked up to her to present the Light from which the White Dragon had been born. The avatar, who indeed looked very different now, was very pleased with these offerings, and ordered the flowers to be planted in the great gardens of the Green camp. The light of the flowers has slowly faded as the magic of their creation has worn of, but last I saw they could still be found in the garden, resplendent with their own natural beauty.

Back in camp I was feeling on a roll. I joined the talks about tonight’s missions, our targets being the infiltration of Gold, the trashing of Silver and the stealing of the Copper throne. We also needed to set up patrols, as there were rumors of assassins inside our camp. I joined the mission to the Gold camp, where we hoped to steal the dragon eggs. We had four people on this mission. Yuna the Kender, Ria and Gustaf, humans both, and myself. Our goal was to infiltrate the Golden camp and convince them some of their eggs were corrupted by a ritual in the hopes of tricking them into giving some eggs to the Green camp. Yuna, Ria and Gustaf left first and I would follow a couple of minutes later. They soon returned however. The gatekeepers had not allowed them to enter. This threw the plan in disarray, but, bloated with confidence, I opted to give it a shot by myself. I managed to talk my way in and speak to some of the Gold mages, including Lorat, their High Mage. I even got to see the dragon egg –they only had one- but the mages were not fooled by my tale of corruption. They performed an incantation, revealing the egg to be in perfect order. Still, they congratulated me on my vigilance and for warning them. I thanked them for their kindness and surreptitiously retreated back to my own camp.

In my absence the other participants of the night missions had been busy as well. Sylvitharion had found out it was Curt who had let the assassins of Gold into our camp. His plan had been to lay an ambush, but the coördination had been unforgivably sloppy. His communication had been exceptionally poor, and his actions had unintentionally placed several Green spies in great danger. Hearing of this, Sylvitharion confronted Yuna, Curt’s superior. She too was shocked, and stormed up to Curt, whom she promptly shot dead. Both her and Sylvitharion then marched up to the graveyard, where during the Feast of the Dragons the souls of the dead return to the mortal realm. I’v already expressed how I feel about all of that, so i won’t repeat myself again. They had intended to submit Curt to further interrogation, but could not find him there. Possibly he had manifested again before they arrived. However, they were not alone. When storming out of the camp, others of the Green had followed, assuming Sylvitharion and Yuna were leaving on a night mission, and they wanted a part of the action. Finding themselves out on the field, boasting a sizeable group of fighters, they opted to try a ruse on the Copper army. In the village up on the hill, they played out a ‘fight’ between the humans and non-humans of their little band of infiltrators. The ‘unconscious’ victims were then deposited in front of the Copper gate, hoping they’d be tempted to take some prisoners. Alas, they did not bite, and the mission was called off.

The last day of our stay in the Dragon World dawned. As per tradition, this day would see the final battle. As such very little action is undertaken by any of the armies. Everyone prepares for the great battle, loose ends are tied, the last eggs are exchanged, but overall confrontations are minimal and fighting is limited to preserve strength. Most of the Anarquendor slept in and had a relaxed and solid breakfast, myself included. I still received one mission though. As I sat eating, Sylvitharion came up to me. He’d been in contact with a certain guild that I could potentially join, but as a matter of test, I was to get my hands on something that was both red in color, and did not originate from within the Green camp. I nodded slowly as I sat there chewing my breakfast. Again I said “I’ll look into it”

Half an hour later I returned with the red capped helmet of Kargas, High Inquisitor of the Golden camp. This had several Anarquendor in stitches. We elves have a sense of humor too. Again my confidence boosted. The ingenious craftiness of the Beaver totem, combined with the careful planing and smooth talking of the Snake totem, had guided me along this incredible string of successes. And this morning it culminated when the Autherdir called the morning meeting. In this meeting I was called forward. Sensing what was to come, I could hardly suppress a smile, and sure enough the Autherdir presented me with the Silver Merrythought. This little pendant is a rare honour, given to those who’ve proven themselves exceptionally skillful in completing covert missions. The sentiment is that they’ve proven so skilled they no longer need luck, so they can carry their luck around their neck like silver.
I still had a mission to complete of course, so I and a few other Anarquendor presented the helmet to Kronon. He smiled as he learned where the helmet came from. “Yes, I’m sure this will do.” he laughed.
The helmet would later be enchanted in a ritual and be returned to the Golden camp, but I never learned what happened to it afterwards. In any case it had served its purpose.

Now came the time of my greatest test during this year’s Feast of the Dragons. The Anarquendor dressed for war, donning their armors of the finest elven craftsmanship, spears and swords gleaming in the bright sun. My preparations were of a different sort. I found a quiet corner and sat down. I would try to evoke my beastform, but having never actively accomplished this before, I had little idea how to begin. In this I was assisted by Limethion and Alyan; a strange twist of fate that the two people whom I begrudged because of how they had handled the very ritual that gave me this control would be the ones to help me in this matter. But Limethion was the only priest amongst the Anarquendor and thus the only one with some insight in divine magics, should it apply. And Alyan had been the one to lead the ritual. What’s more, his unique ability was likely the only thing that could disrupt the magic of my change if anything went wrong. Their help proved invaluable. Actively effecting the change proved difficult. While the magic it involves is an innate and natural part of my own being, it was not something I was ever trained in. I still needed to accomplish it by my own force of will, but on a mystical level I could feel the guiding presence of both Limethion and Alyan. Finally I could feel something give, and the transformation began.

By now I’m sure I’ve bored you with my adulation of my beastform. I’ve given accounts of the magnificence of the experience numerous times now, but still I feel I can’t adequately express the full glory of it all. This moment was no different, and perhaps was even something of pinnacle. This was the first time I’d fight in the great battle using this form. For this occasion I had spend some of my free hours crafting a crude leather armor. Alyan and Limethion helped me don it, and then I lumbered towards the battlefield. Alyan stayed by my side the whole time, both to keep an eye on me should the transformation fail me, but also to keep me safe throughout my first bout of fighting in this form. The battle had already started by the time I lumbered in, so I placed myself on the outer left flank of our lines as fast I could. Here I spend almost the entire battle, fighting of skirmishers as they tried to circle around, at one point keeping of an entire charge. And I’m not ashamed to say the battle was fun! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t delight in suffering or bloodshed. I consider myself a caring soul. But to tower over the smaller humans and other creatures, slinging them through the air whenever I landed a solid blow! The sound and feel of armor and bone crunching when I trampled someone underfoot! I can’t laugh in beastform, but if I could I’m sure to have looked manic. Of course I struggled at times. My size alone sufficed to attract some attention. But when I was surrounded, Alyan was by my side in an instant, and not much later I saw the younglings of the Pack of Tarek charge in and relief some of the pressure.
Finally the fighting abated. By this time I was so far removed from the core of our army I had no idea whether our banner still stood and who had won the battle. Neither did I really care. I was vivid with the rush of battle, but when it finally wore of the strain of it all caught up with me. Still accompanied by Alyan I staggered back to camp and found myself easily transforming back to my elven self.

Soon enough all the Anarquendor reassembled at our encampment and we tended to our wounds and our hunger. No one had been seriously harmed, and the talks were jovial and care-free. Later on we also received a visit from the Avatar. Now, I only briefly mentioned her change before, so I should probably describe what that difference actually entailed. The Green Dragon represents the ever changing circle of life, and so it was logical that its Avatar should also change with the times. The Green camp had grown complacent and deep rooted under the previous incarnation of the Avatar. We of the Anarquendor had fought this aloof and unresponsive attitude, and we had noted other warriors of the Green army felt the same way. The Avatar represents its people as much as the people look to the Avatar to show the path. As such it is logical it should change with the shifting attitude of its followers. The new Avatar proved of a fiercer demeanor, but also more grounded in her world view. She did not consider herself a god. In fact, she considered non of the Avatars to be gods, merely powerful beings, but bound to the mortal realm all the same. She did not like the idea of the Limbus, but did deem it a part of this cycle. Even the Souleater, a dangerous entity that roamed the Limbus, was a part of this food chain.
I glanced at Autherdir Tegingûr, and while it is always difficult to tell with him, I think he approved of this new Avatar.

A few hours before dusk, and before the Closing Ritual would be held, a large crowd gathered outside our encampment. Benches were place in a circle, leaving a large space in which stood Yava’In, Sylvitharion and, most importantly, Yuna Tunichtgut. This ritual had been some time in the making, and I joined the spectators, curious how the kender would fare in her Totem Ritual. The chanting began, and soon three mystical spider creatures manifested, crafting eerie translucent webs in their wake. Much symbolic power housed within this Totem. The three spiders weaved past, present and future, and Yuna would need to trap them in their own web, while also avoiding their poisonous assaults. At the same time she needed to make sure not to be tangled in her own web. Eventually she emerged victorious, but there was a lot of blood, and it had been a close call.

At nightfall the armies were once again called to the Great Circle for the closing ritual, which would tell us which dragon had won this years war, and would rule till next summer. The mood amongst the Green was elated. Many had worked long and hard, had fought with all their being, to see a green victory this year. One by one the Avatars were called into the circle, in reverse order of how ell they had performed this year. With each passing Avatar the atmosphere in our gathered army tensed. Finally the winner was called in, and the Green army exploded as the Green Avatar emerged, the victor of this year’s Feast and ruler for one year!
The remainder of the night was a revelry of drinking and feasting. For the first time since we attended the call of the Green Dragon, we had been victorious. All throughout our camp there was partying and the human equivalent of singing. Animosities were forgotten as everyone rejoiced, exultant with this triumph. Festivities stretched long into the night, and for Condaghor Yava’In, Sylvitharion and myself this included a visit to the Thirsty Dagger tavern. By the time I reached my bed I had discovered a newfound appreciation for mead.

The next morning, dictated by strict military regime and undeterred by the aftermath of alcohol, we broke camp. Our stay on the World of the Dragons this year had been exceptionally successful, and I’m sure the Autherdir had great things to report at home.”