"Ivan."

The voice was familiar.

A baritone that rang in the ears.

"Young Ivan, awake."

His head swam and his stomach flipped. Groaning, Ivan stirred. "Go away..."

"AWAKEN, CHOSEN ONE!"

Ivan jolted and jumped perfectly straight up on his feet, ready to strike.

"What the dev-oh," Ivan dropped his hands. "Cecil."

Indeed. The Wizard glowed serenely above, looking even more pristine and bright white in the black darkness of the dark forest shadows.

"Your destiny awaits you, mortal." Cecil bellowed grandly, gesturing with his piccolo, causing something glittering and ivory to materialize at Ivan's feet. He had never seen anything like it. The blade was curved in the strangest way and the handle was bulky and round, loaded with grooves and notched chambers with switches.

"This is your weapon, Dydelius! Your gift from the gods!" The Wiseman's eyes briefly flashed. "Take it, and you will have the power to find and kill the Dragon of Discord! Come one, now, quickly!"

Carefully taking the strange bladed weapon in his hands, Ivan glared up, his gaze going from the Wizard to the still-present pillar of smoke in the sky.

"Come down here," Ivan demanded flatly.

The magic man lowered his arms and shot him a look. "No. Not even for you, Chosen One."

"Oh Most Honored and Unquestioned Great Wizard Cecil," Ivan cajoled, his voice dripping with contempt. "How I hate to not be able to understand and receive your words of wisdom. Alas, my lowly mortal ears have been so ruined by the Dragon's roar! Won't you please go a bit lower so that I can hear you?"

Glaring , the Wizard obliged and went down three feet.

"Lower."

Two feet.

"Bit lower."

The Wizard's pointy shoes and long robes brushed the tops of the long grass.

"You see the future, and you've predicted my destiny." The mortal stated calmly.

"I see it laid out before me," He agreed. Ivan took a step forward.

"You knew what would happen in that village." Another step.

Cecil nodded. "Played out perfectly in accordance with your journey."

"I see." Ivan now stood face to face with him. "So, this great, holy, noble hero's quest you see for me, does not begin by preventing HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE BEING BURNED TO ASH?" He unsheated the bizarre blade and held it at the Wizard's chest. "Why should I not turn this weapon on you? Have you no shame for what you've let pass?!"

"No." Cecil's eyes were cold. "You do not know anything of which you speak. There is no branch of fate in which that village survives but the Dragon is defeated."

Ivan's glare didn't waver and he tilted his head, confused. "Are you...grieved? Why? Your injury must have made you forget I had to intervene before they strummed your head off!"

"That doesn't mean that everyone there deserved to die!"

"Argue all you please, the dead care not! Now stop standing so close, I can smell your breath."

Ivan just shook his head, sheathing the blade. "I don't want your quest. I'm going back to my homeland."

He turned and tossed the sword at Cecil, who put up a light shield and sent it flying back into his face.

"It is too late for that, Chosen One."

"What?"

Cecil put his flute to his lips and began to play. A circle of light and air clouded above his head as he played a frantic, piercing tune.

Ivan's hair stood on end as the image of a giant yellow pair of eyes stared out from the illusion, closing out until he saw the whole thing's grotesque dark purple body.

"You may choose to try and reject your quest. But remember this: So long as you live, this Dragon will never stop its pursuit of you. It will always find you and destroy whatever place you try to call home. "

Cecil levitated the sword into his free hand and held it out.

"Your best chance at finding any peace and permanent estate, is to drive this straight into the damnable creature's heart."

Ivan took it back. The weapon began to pulse rhythmically in his hands. "It...It's thrumming, like a heartbeat."

"Take heed. The closer the Dragon is, the faster those beats come. So hurry, find your horse and ride to the next settlement. The first member of your adventure party waits-Ah!" The Wizard clapped. "Yes, before I forget." Cecil held out his flute. "Put your hands in front of you."

Ivan obeyed, and a big weighty sack fell heavily on them. "Oof!"

He heard metallic clinking from inside. "Is this..?"

"Money." Cecil answered simply. "Enchanted coins. A world-saving quest isn't going to be cheap."

Ivan huffed before heaving the sack over his shoulder. "I imagine."

"Yes, well..." The Great One reached down and gave him an awkward, 'I don't actually want to touch you' kind of pat on the shoulder.

"Best of luck with the quest and your guilt complex, Chosen One. I have faith in you."

Cecil immediately pulled out a piece of cloth to wipe his dirtied hand, another for his shoes, threw them both down and set them ablaze, then snapped his fingers and was again gone in a flash.

—-

A Few Minutes Later

The benevolent face of the chartreuse moon was nearly blocked out by the branches of the dancing Dorem trees tinged blue, swaying gently in the wind as Ivan ignored them and sprinted forward, tripping over roots and rocks and animal bones, and his own two feet.

"Greysong!" Ivan shrieked through the trees, his face violent crimson from the effort of heaving around his new fortune. Anxiety mounted in his heart as the sword's throbbing at his hip got the tiniest bit faster. "Here, horse! Come back now before that thing kills us all!"

Still all he heard were long silences broken nocturnal birds doing their best not to hurt each other by hooting and chirping as far apart and unevenly as possible.

"GREYSONG!" He screeched, voice rising to a high pitch completely beyond any note Ivan thought he was capable of hitting. The birds scattered.

There was a rustle behind him.

Turning cautiously, Ivan went forward and pushed down the shrubs blocking...the charcoal gray horse just standing there and staring at him. Judging him.

"Shut up." He snapped, self-conscious. He sighed when the horse backed away from his attempt to grab the reins.

"Look...I'm sorry about your old master." Ivan said, setting down the sack and putting a hand on her gray mane. "Perhaps one day we'll go back to the village ruins and find something left of him. But for now we have to go...alright?"

Greysong blinked, then bowed her head. He fastened the bag at the back and got in the saddle.

"To Badinerie, then!" He paused, glancing around. "Uh...do you know the way?"

Greysong snorted at him and galloped off.


A/N-Do you ever wonder if Gandalf the White used a lot of magic to keep his Whites white with all that they were doing in Mordor? That stains.

Two chapters now one for length purposes!