Erulasto stood on the tall mound of charred earth, yet another in the seemingly endless wasteland that stretched as far as his eyes could follow. It was hard to imagine that just one sunrise ago, the ground on which he stood had been the place of his home, and the scorched land all around him had been the site of Brulgnych. a prosperous city. All that was left was whatever the citizens had managed to bring with them before almost everyone had been brutally scorched alive. As far as he knew, he was the only one who had survived the merciless attack on their city, brought without warning by the dragon Orcheius, which had left almost everything destroyed.
He sat to the ground, his head hung in sorrow. His thick, dark hair fell down over his brown eyes as he held in his hands the last few possessions he had been able to salvage from the fiery onslaught. They had belonged to his father, a great warrior who, when killed by the dragon, had left behind a young son who stood right on the line between child and adult. It was his father's scabbard, fashioned of the finest material in the land, and his sword, a shining silver blade that was said to have been blessed by a fairy long ago, and thus could triumph against any earthly force. That must have been why it had withstood even the dragon's fire.
Erulasto took in his hand the sword and put the scabbard on his belt. He stood to the ground and boldly faced the sky. "Orcheius the dragon, hear me! You have destroyed my city, but I shall not rest until I destroy you"
That had been days ago. He had no idea where to find the dragon, but he refused to give up. Instead, Erulasto traveled across the entire land, through the great deserts and lush forests, over hills and rivers. All this time he had traveled, he had met no other creature; man nor beast, elf nor dwarf, he had seen no other life. That was why he was so surprised when he saw a figure coming up over the horizon. He at first thought it to be a hallucination, but then realized that the figure was very real.
"Who goes there?", he called out, wondering whether the figure was friend or foe.
"Why, I could ask you the same.", the still far-off and hard to see figure replied. The boy was even more surprised when he heard this because the voice was not of a man, but of a young woman. They were walking closer towards each other now, and he could see that the figure was indeed a girl, probably about his own age, or a few years older.
He spoke again. "I come from the city of Brulgnych.", he said, feeling that he could trust this girl. "Our city was left desolated by an attack of the dragon Orcheius, and I seek to avenge all who have perished. But now that I have told you of myself, who are you"
"Your home was destroyed by Orcheius?", she inquired. "The same happened to me. I hail from the land of Gig, which only five days ago was scorched by the dragon's onslaught. I, too, seek to find him"
Erulasto brightened at the realization of this. "The land of Gig is not far from Brulgnych.", he pointed out. "It is likely that the accursed dragon went right from your home to mine in the same trip, and destroyed them both." He outstretched his hand. "I am called Erulasto.", he said.
"And I Eruvande.", she replied. "It is good to meet you"
"And you as well.", Erulasto said, smiling. "Perhaps we should travel together; this way, once we find Orcheius, he will have two to deal with instead of one." Before Eruvande could answer, almost as soon as he had spoken, Erulasto's shoulders slumped. "Only, I do not know where I am going, or how we would be to find him"
"Fear not!", Eruvande exclaimed, reaching into her pocket. "Has it not long been said that Orcheius rests in the great cave of Droom?" She produced a tattered piece of parchment from her pocket. "And look, I brought from the land of Gig a map to the cave of Droom"
Once again, Erulasto smiled. "It is good that you have this.", he stated. "Now it will be possible for us to find the dragon!" He paused, realizing what he had said, and then added, "That is, we can if you wish to travel with me"
Eruvande eyed Erulasto's sword tucked away in his scabbard. "Yes, I think that wise.", she agreed. "I shall lead our journey, and you can defend us from danger"
"Indeed.", said Erulasto. "I shall do my best to keep us safe and, when the appropriate time comes, to slay the dragon who has slayed our peoples." With that, the two of them continued walking on, following Eruvande's map towards the dragon. They made light conversation as they walked, until Eruvande asked her companion, "Do you think that when we reach Orcheius we shall truly be able to defeat him"
Erulasto paused. He had considered this in his deepest subconscious, but had not dared to bring up the subject before. In truth he was quite afraid to face the dragon, yet he knew he could not back down. "I do not know.", he admitted truthfully. "Though I carry this sword, I know not how to use it well; though I may seem as a warrior, it does not mean that I am. We may very well die on this quest, but all we can do is try our best and not give up"
It was not much later when something strange happened. They saw a bright blue light begin to materialize right in front of them. The light glowed and moved and changed; it seemed to be growing into the shape of a man.
"What trickery is this?" Erulasto called aloud, never having before seen anything like this. "What wizardry doth produce this glow"
The glow had now taken full shape, and seemed to appear as an old man, who had a long white beard hanging down to his waist. As if this was not startling enough, the figure spoke. "Wizardry is correct, young lad, for I am a wizard," he said. "Or rather, the shape that you see has been projected by a wizard to come and contact you"
"But why must you contact us?" Eruvande inquired. The wizard replied, "Am I correct in guessing that you two are seeking to kill the dragon Orcheius"
"Yes," Erulasto answered. "But how do you know this"
The wizard's eyes looked down, apparently in remembrance of sorrowful things. "I am called Sarudalf, and I hail from the faraway kingdom of Lorthorien. About a fortnight ago, I set out to vanquish evil in the world using mystical means. I battled Orcheius the dragon, but I failed to realize his might, and he was able to best me in combat. Now he has captured me in his dungeon and his servants cast a spell that prevented me from escaping, even through magical means. But though I cannot escape myself, I was still able to cast a spell that projected my image to any who seek to defeat the dragon, that I might aid them in their quest"
"Your story is a strange one, but not unbelievable," said Erulasto. He turned to Eruvande with a questioning glance. "What do you make of this?" he asked.
"I see no reason to doubt him, especially if he is from Lorthorien," she replied. "It is said to be a noble land of brave heroes. 'Tis doubtful that this wizard means to harm us"
"All right.", Erulasto spoke, turning toward the image of the wizard Sarudalf. "I trust you. But if you are locked up in the dungeon, then what aid can you possibly give us here?" He said, "When I first came here, I carried a large shield, golden in color. When the dragon's servants came upon me, I inadvertently dropped the shield during our struggle. Not far from where you are lies a shallow stream, which is where I was at the time of my capture. In this stream you should find my shield"
"Thank you for this guidance, Sarudalf.", Erulasto spoke. "Truly, I am grateful for your help"
"This shield is no ordinary shield; it is enchanted, and cannot be burned by any fire, even that of a dragon's mouth. Use it wisely, and may your quest be successful. But my power is fading now; the magic is almost gone. I cannot keep this image any longer, and must leave you soon." "I understand.", said Erulasto. "But before you leave, is there anything else we must know for this quest"
"Just be careful.", the old sage spoke. "At the stream, you may encounter--" They heard no more, for at this moment the magic failed, and the wizard's image faded. "What may we encounter?", Eruvande inquired.
"It is now no use asking.", Erulasto said. "His power is gone. We must keep going now, and be prepared for anything when we arrive at the stream"
The stream had been closer than they realized; in a little less than an hour, they had come to it. Initially they saw no danger, but were still wary of the wizard's unfinished warning.
Erulasto stepped up to the stream and looked down to the bottom. He saw a large object shimmering gold, undoubtedly the shield which had been spoken of. "Eruvande, the shield is here.", he said to her. "I am going into the water to get it." He knelt down on the edge of the stream and reached into the water. As he was doing so, he abruptly felt a rough and unpleasant blow to the head. Erulasto instinctually let out a cry of pain, and turned to see what had caused it.
To his horror, a pair of ogres stood over him, brutal weapons in their hands. The larger of them laughed an ugly laugh at Erulasto's pain.
"Ogres!", he cried aloud. "Eruvande, take cover"
Erulasto reached for his sword instantly, hoping to defeat the ogres before they could cause any harm. He didn't know where they had come from, but it was clear from the blow to his head, and from their being ogres, that they meant to hurt the quest. One of the two ogres came after each of the two heroes; the larger of the two tried to capture Eruvande, and the smaller, though he was still quite large by human standards, battled Erulasto. "What do you want with us?", Erulasto asked while simultaneously trying to keep pace and save his life.
The ogre spoke with a voice like stones crumbing into dust. "We were sent by Orcheius the dragon to stop your quest. He learned of you through the wizard, and now you will not continue." With a malicious roar, the beast jumped at Erulasto, who just barely managed to slide out of the way in time. Once he was to a point of relative safety for at least a few seconds, Erulasto looked across the space to see how Eruvande was faring against the other ogre. To his horror, he did not see her, but only saw the ogre walking off into the distance. Presumably she had been captured and was being brought back to the dragon's lair. Presumably they meant to do the same to him.
"Eruvande!", the boy cried out, concerned for his friend.
The remaining ogre laughed cruelly. "She is gone, and will be kept in our master's cave. The same will happen to you, if you do not submit to me"
"What--", Erulasto began to ask.
The ogre cut him off. "But, my master Orcheius possesses a great amount of wealth and riches that comes from all over the world. If you give up your quest to kill him, come with me and join him, then you could take a share in all of that as well. What do you say?" The ogre, his heart long ago corrupted by evil and greed, felt sure that this pitiful human boy would accept the offer.
"No!", Erulasto exclaimed, much to the ogre's surprise. "I could not take worldly treasures over the value of honor and friendship! I'll never join you!" In a furious rage, before the ogre could react, Erulasto swung his sword and struck the vile beast. The blow was to the leg and was not fatal, but it caused the ogre to scream in agony and fall to the ground, paralyzed for life. "Come back!", the fallen one yelled. "You're making a great mistake"
Erulasto paid no attention to him. He only went to the stream and, now that there were no more interferences, took the shield. Having won this battle, but still with another quest to complete in finding Eruvande, Erulasto walked off in the direction that the first ogre had gone.
He was able to follow the ogre's trail back towards the cave of Droom; the rest of the way there wasn't very far to go. He no longer walked, but ran, now with two quests to complete and one less person to aid him. He did not notice the rocky ground around him, or any of the scenery he crossed over, save what would help him in finding Droom. With his passion and determination, he was at the cave entrance quickly.
It was time for him to test the supposed magical qualities of the sword. The cave entrance was guarded by an iron gate, but to his amazement, Erulasto found that his sword could slice through it easily. Once the gate was disabled, he ran into the cave and searched for Eruvande.
He didn't have to search long. There in the dungeons was she, and Sarudalf the wizard along with her! Both were happy and shouted with joy at seeing Erulasto, and he quickly relayed the story of how he had defeated the ogre and been able to arrive here.
"But no more talk.", Erulasto said after all the pleasantries and rejoicings were finished. "It is time to face the dragon." He began to run down one of the cave's tunnels, but Sarudalf stopped him.
"Wait.", said the wizard. "This cave's passageways are many, and twisted and convoluted in ways that it would take days for you to get through without knowing the cave before. Let me transport you there another way." Concentrating hard, the wizard spoke a few obviously magical words. "Tropsnart mih ot eht nogard"
As soon as these words were spoken, Erulasto found himself in the cave's inner sanctum, right behind the dragon! His heart quaked with fear; he had waited long for this, yet the concept of it still intimidated him. Thinking quickly, he crept up beside the dragon--but it was not quietly enough! The dragon turned its head and noticed the intruder. Angrily, it let out a stream of fire to deal with the new threat.
Almost out of instinct, which was very fortunate for him, Erulasto raised the magical shield and covered himself with it. He could feel the heat as the dragon's fire came against him, but it did not burn or scorch the shield.
Orcheius the dragon let out a yelp of consternation. He had never before seen a mortal able to resist his fire! He prepared to let out another flame blast, stronger this time. But he did not have the chance. Erulasto quickly drew his sword and brought it down on the dragon's neck, piercing through the creature's scaly hide and severing the head. Orcheius the dragon would trouble no one else from that point on.
Once the major quest was over, Erulasto was easily able to return to Eruvande and Sarudalf through use of magic. The three of them went all throughout the dragon's cave, freeing all the innocent prisoners they could find (such creatures as elves, dwarves, and humans) and slaying or imprisoning all of the dragon's evil servants (such creatures as ogres, goblins, and trolls). They found a way to remove the spell that imprisoned Sarudalf in the cave. After all this was done, they left the cave with the feeling of a job well done.
What happened next? That was most of the story. Sarudalf returned to his city of Lorthorien and continued battling evil with his knowledge. Erulasto and Eruvande did not fall in love, as is often the case in such stories, but they did become very good friends and talked together often. They still went on other such quests occasionally, but none was as exciting, as perilous, or as rewarding as their original quest with the dragon. Because of these three fighting wrong, the world became a better place for all peaceful creatures to dwell.