True Path (Chapter 12)
Also on Royalroadl.com, my username is Jaleil there
Prologue: An Unexpected Slumber
In the Niandre Forest, two fleeting specks of crimson dashed by between the tall, ancient trees of the forest. On a closer inspection, one can see that these crimson specks were, in fact, birds chasing and playing with each other. They dashed and weaved seemingly effortlessly through the trees, narrowing missing numerous branches and leaves. One would occasionally stop and let out a quick chirp and wait for the other one to catch up, before resuming their small game of tag. Their chirps resounded throughout the entire forest, and were answered with numerous other chirps, squeaks, and screeches from the other animals in the forest. The light of the suns squeezed past the dense foliage of tree leaves, and gave the forest floor a faint and beautiful golden glow. Just the sight of the glow caused many to feel content and relaxed, temporarily soothing their fears and doubts. Unlike other forests, which emitted unfriendly auras and gave one the feeling that something was watching them, the Niandre forest caused those who passed through it to feel perfectly safe and happy. Today was another beautiful and peaceful day in the woods of the Niandre Forest, just as how it had been for countless years.
The birds continued to zoom to and fro in the forest. Eventually, a faint, trickling sound was heard. The birds stopped their game and hopped onto the same branch. They chirped happily when they realized that it was the sound of a stream. The birds hopped into the air and resumed their flight, eventually reaching a clearing in the forest, where the warmth of the suns truly penetrated into the ground. An enormous and colorful rock laid right next to the stream. The stream ran directly through the middle of the clearing. The birds landed directly into the stream, causing two gentle splashes. They frolicked in the water, enjoying the coolness and cleanliness, while also taking a few sips, pecking their beaks into the water.
The birds froze, and saw that what they thought was a rock was actually an enormous living being, which opened its giant maw and let out a mighty yawn. A few moments later, they resumed their bath, unaffected by the giant mass. In the Niandre Forest, there was little that the inhabitants feared.
Another unremarkable and boring day, mused Ladriath, as he laid on the ground of the clearing in the forest. This particular clearing was his favorite spot to relax in, as the rays from the suns bathed him in warm, radiant light. He rolled onto his back, enjoying the tickling sensation of the grass rubbing against his green-azure scales.
Of course, Ladriath was a dragon. Dragons were renowned for their fierceness, regality, and pride. Currently, however, Ladriath was not acting rather dragon-like.
A puff of gray gas escaped from his nostrils as the grass touched a sensitive spot on his back.
Ah, that felt rather pleasant.
Ladriath rolled around for a little bit, snorting and spewing gas everywhere. Suddenly, Ladriath felt a particularly strong tickle, and a bit of bright orange fire flew from his nostrils. The fire landed on the grass, quickly causing the bright green filaments to wither and grow black. Ladriath hastily patted the grass with one of his four powerful legs, while another’s claw scooped some water from the stream onto the affected patch of grass. The fire was put out, but the grass and the grass near the vicinity of the flames were completely flattened and pushed into the ground by Ladriath’s patting (stomping). It was a rather sorry sight. The birds chirped sharply at Ladriath, reproaching him for his carelessness. Ladriath let out another snort, and composed himself into a position fit for a noble dragon. But, why was he, Ladriath, acting like a newborn hatchling just the moment before?
Boring. Boring, boring, boring. How many years have passed by without incident? When was the last time I ever had a challenge or felt excited?
Indeed, Ladriath, one of the most powerful existences in Draen, was acting like a child simply because he was bored. Ladriath wasn’t just a mighty dragon. He was the mightiest dragon currently in existence. In fact, he was the strongest being in the entirety of Draen! Large armies of minor races would instantly flee the moment they saw him. Major races feared him so much that they did not dare to even be within a thousand miles of Ladriath. During the Three’s Conquest, entire armies scattered and mass hysteria was induced simply by him flying in the skies. There was no mistaking of Ladriath’s unique green-azure color. While he was not the biggest of the dragons, he was unquestionably the strongest. No other dragon could hope to be his opponent. Whatever he wanted instantly belonged to him, whether it be treasures, food, or mates. Crying babies would instantly be silenced when their parents told them that Ladriath would eat them if they cried anymore. Ladriath went by many names. Ruler of the Skies. Earth Shatterer. Destroyer of the World. Dragon of the Gods. He Who Consumes All. (author’s note: Lol I just made up all these names in like two seconds.) Ladriath preferred to be called his true name, however.
It was the fact that Ladriath was an existence akin to the gods that he was isolated. Back in his younger days, when he wasn’t at all as powerful as he was now, Ladriath frequently interacted with other dragons, and fought with them at times, even to the death. He remembered when armies were actually brave enough to take him on, and the multiple times he was hunted for his Core and body. Nevertheless, that was a time when Ladriath felt truly alive. Before he knew it, however, he reached the peak of mortal power, and was close to immortality. However, even after countless eons, Ladriath had never broken through to the next level: Ascension. Many of his friends and family members had also obtained the power Ladriath had, but they managed to achieve Ascension and shed their mortality and left the world to become Immortals. Even though Ladriath had the greatest talent and potential of them all, he was still stuck at the peak of mortality. And that made him frustrated.
Nowadays, Ladriath would pass his days either by relaxing in the Niandre Forest, or flying high into the skies at night to see the countless stars that illuminated the dark sky. Ladriath had already lost interest in worldly desires and possessions. Ladriath was not a bloodthirsty dragon. Many in his situation would actively seek out and kill, perhaps even wiping out the entire world of living beings in order to quench their endless thirst for battle. Ladriath disdained such petty things. He already considered himself a being on a separate level from mortals; why should he lower himself and do such petty things? Besides, he knew that he would obtain little benefits from it. He could wipe out an entire kingdom if he wanted with one single powerful breath of dragon fire. He had nothing to fear anymore, except for time. Even though Ladriath was at the epitome of power and had the longevity that came with being a dragon, he knew that if he didn’t Ascend, he would one day pass into the void.
Ladriath let out another yawn, but this one was of a much greater magnitude than the one before. Ladriath was actually becoming drowsy! Normally, beings of his level had virtually no need to eat, sleep, or drink, as they took in nourishment from the world. However, Ladriath was actually becoming sleepy after countless years! Ladriath did not completely realize the significance of the fact that he was becoming tired, as drowsiness muddled his normally sharp and pristine mind. Because of this, Ladriath unconsciously was building up fire in his chest. He realized it too late, as the surge of fire exploded from his mouth, lighting up the entire sky in orange flames. Luckily, his mouth was pointed up when he was yawning. He ceased his breath. However, a lot of smoke then fell from the air, making it hazy and uncomfortable for the inhabitants of the forest. The two birds were no where to be seen. They were startled greatly, and decided that playing around with such a sleepy dragon was not a good idea. Ladriath looked around, as the grass and the green trees slowly turned into a mush of grey-green.
With a gentle breath, Ladriath blew away all the dust and ash away.
I haven’t felt this feeling in a long time, Ladriath thought, as he laid down on the clearing in the night.
What’s happening to me?
Ladriath wasn’t too particularly concerned, however, as little could harm him in his day and age. However, as the night continued to grow, Ladriath grew sleepier and sleepier.
I can’t be passing into the void now....It’s too early. Ladriath tried to stay awake, but his feeble attempts only made him more and more exhausted. He found it difficult to keep his eyes open. Nevertheless, Ladriath enjoyed the feeling.
This was what I used to feel before, when I was younger. It feels wonderful. Maybe I’ll shut my eyes for a little bit. Ladriath’s breath grew shallower and slower. His eyes, which could easily see in the dark as they could in the day, saw darkness approaching from his peripheral vision. Eventually, the darkness took over the majority of his vision. He closed his eyes.
And all was gone.