A gift for Scryer-Wyrmthief. I think it's going to be three parts
Warning: This is slash and very dub-con. Not giving any spoilers but only read if you are used to reading weird slash stuff, otherwise go find something a little tamer.
"To protect the weak, to protect the defenceless to and fight for the good of all."
A code. One which every knight must follow and complete. Never must he falter in the face of darkness, less he be a coward. Never must he give into the temptations of the common man. While they would flee from danger, a knight must take arms and go to war. But also a knight must follow his Lord. To be both his sword and shield. Unless the wishes go against the code.
A true knight knows no fear. A true knight fights for what is right. He is not interested in rewards and money. No worldly possessive is important but for the sword and shield at his hands. A lady perhaps. One below all others, but even She must come after the fight.
Dwain was loyal to his Lord Master Driskol. However it was not his lord he was currently serving, and if it was not for the fact his current Lord was a good friend of Lord Driskol, he could have laughed at the idea of being used for such a mission. His Lord had asked him for his one favour though, and he would not let down his Lord Master.
Which is why he was currently riding on his noble steed over the northern plain heading towards the mountains on the border of their lands. Beyond the mountains were too dangerous for people to venture out. In the badlands, creatures of nightmares stalked the lands preying on anyone too weak to defend themselves. Even in the mountains, it was not safe. Only the very brave or the very foolish willing went to the mountains. Or those who had been ordered to.
Dwain was nothing but loyal and so despite the warning, the badlands was where he was heading. To fight a merciless beast and bring home much needed gold for the lord. The lord he was serving was neither greedy nor wasteful of his money, however being too close to the badlands meant his land was often plundered by creatures, leaving destruction in their wake. The people needed the money to rebuild.
It was going for this reason that Dwain would allow himself to undertake such a mission. He refused to be known as being a tomb raider, or worse as a thief. However there were few options left. He was not afraid to die. Nor was he afraid to fight this so called beast and win his horde. He had fought giants and dragons, serpents and wild dogs. He was prepared to fight.
Slowly the scenery around him changed. The mountains now towering above instead of being shadows in the distance. His horse slowed to trotting pace as they entered a forest as the base of the mountain. Tall trees which blocked out a lot of the light, leaving the atmosphere in the forest quiet and in many ways almost nauseating. Animals moved about freely, undeterred by his figure on horseback. There wasn't a lot of plants on the ground, the trees above stealing all the light.
Dwain was not too proud to admit he felt uncomfortable in the forest. Something curled in his stomach, akin to fear, but not quite that yet. Something about the tension in the air, the few sounds and where he was, was setting his senses made. Instinct was a powerful thing. Any true warrior knew that.
As they bore deeper into the forest, they saw less and less animals, heard less birds. By the time they came to the cave mouth, no creature was around. This was the place.
Dwain climbed down from his steed, his horse neighing at him. Animals knew when danger was near and his steed was no different. The only thing that was different about his horse was that he was loyal to his master. He wouldn't leave his masters side in times of great need. He let out a low whine as Dwain started towards the cave entrance, his tail flicking nervously.
"Calm down Nightrider. I'm be fine" Dwain told his loyal steed, seeing how uncomfortable his mount was with him going into the cave. With how the entrance was, Nightrider would be unable to follow him in. He would be on his own from here on out. The horse stomped its hoof down and watched with sorrowful eyes as Dwain ventured in the cave.
The cave was dark and damp. He could feel moisture on every rock he touched to stable himself. It was pitch black, but he couldn't risk lighting up a torch, less he reveal his presence to the creature who dwelled in the darkness. The rocks were slippery as he walked deeper, water dripping from the ceiling, echoing in the small same.
He could taste sulphur and brimstone in the air. As he went further and further in, the heat became more and more intense, making him wish the armour he wore was lighter. It was starting to feel really heavy, like it was slowing him down, but he knew better than to take it off. Without his armour he was vulnerable.
With the heat increasing, so did the humid feeling in the air. It was slowly becoming harder and harder to breathe. Sweat making his hair stick to his forehead. He could not shake an ominous feeling. He had not yet fought and already he feel tired. As that thought crossed his mind, he shook it off. He wasn't going to give up so easily. Anyway, he knew it was only his mind playing games. He couldn't the amount of creatures who tried to ward of strangers by making their nest and lairs unsavoury.
Then there was light. His eyes narrowed as he pointed a flickering light coming from a far off corner of the cave. Creeping over slowly, making sure it was not a trapped, he went to investigate. It was an orange light, the sort at came from fire.
Drawing closer, he realised the light source was coming from round a corner. Crouching low, he drew his sword and bare sure his shield was in front of him as he turned the corner. Only to find no beast ready to attack. Or at least not yet. Instead he saw a cave of gold and wonders, which deserved every word and rumour about it. It was breath-taking. Riches beyond the imagination of any human.
Taking it slowly, step by step, he walked into the large cavern. Looking around carefully for a trap, or for some big shadow to cover him. While at the same time, taking in everything he could see. Piles of gold coins higher than two storey houses, jewellery made of precious stones. Statures of gods, rick materials of silk, armour made from what appeared to be made from drake scales. The strongest material known. Weapons too were scattered in the treasure troves, as well as crowns and spectres. Around the room were pots which had fire burning in them, lighting the entire thing. It was truly a sight to behold.
He wasn't sure what made him to it. Maybe he heard an intake of breath, or the sound of movement, but neither way, he knew. He dived to the side, placing his shield up in front of him, just in time to block a fierce heat as fire reined down on him from above. Ducking behind one for the piles, he looked around to see his attacker, but saw nothing a miss.
"Well, well. For once a thief who has some instinct" a deep voice rumbled though the cave, sending chills down Dwain's back. This beast could speak human tongue! Only powerful ones could... Not that he could fight them mind you. He had taken down his fair share of powerful creature from the depths of hell. "Interesting..."
Dwain dived to a side as another shot of fire went barrelling past him. He pulled off his cape as it went up in flames, only just getting it off in time. In doing so though, he dropped his sword. He cursed mentally. "What are you beast?" he demanded loudly, "Who speaks in human tongue but uses fire as a weapon and stays hidden in the shadows?" He turned and blocked another attack of fire with his shield.
"You truly do not know who I am? Pity I guess time has moved on" the beast commented, his voice almost sounding disappointed. As he spoke, Dwain edged towards his sword, not liking at the idea of facing an unknown old one with no weapon in his hand. He took a chance and dived towards it, with intend to pick it up and get back into a defensive position but something beat him to it.
A huge beast appeared, sweeping down and grabbing the steel sword before flying off with it, landing on one of the large piles of gold. It held the sword in his claws, looking at it unimpressed. "This the best you got little one?" he laughed generally amused, "I had been impressed by you human. But this is? This is an insult" he commented, his laughing deep and making the entire cave rumble.
Dwain would have blushed at the comment if he had not been gawking at the creature in front of him. He had already heard myths of course, but no-one had seen one forget fought one in a hundred years. A true dragon. Not one of its weaker and less intelligent cousins, a fire drake. By gods, a dragon! Just what had he got himself in too?
The dragon snapped the sword in half with a flickering of his claws before looking back down at the human, its eyes narrowed. "What is the matter little human? Scared of me now you see me?" He asked sneering. Dwain growled, clenching his fists.
"I've faced bigger beasts than yourself drake. I'm not scared of you" he growled. He was going to be insulted by a monster such as this.
"Yes, I do smell the blood of other old ones on you" the dragon said matter-of-factly, "That and the fact you have amused me so far is why I offer you a choice. Leave me now in peace and without touching the treasure I guard. Leave now with your life, or die by my claws!"
Dwain paused, letting the dragon think he was considering it. But really there was only one answer to that one. "Thank you for the offer, but I fear I must stay and fight. Without some of this gold my kingdom will fall"
"Then your fate is own fault" The drake said, "Pity"
Then all hell was let loose.