Rise of the Dragon

Prophecy of Thios the Exile: Carved into a cave wall on the Island of Tal-Thios in the Year of Genesis 77.

When the shadow walks in light, soul to soul the dragon begets his own.
Death for life.
The Dystroyer strangles breath from the world.
The exalted one burns out and the brand of life sets upon the one chosen flesh.
Hidden power made known once more in the hearts of men.
The Paladin comes, times unknown, and Dystroyer is destroyed.

 

Prolouge:
The planet floated, nameless, dead and gray in the blackness of the universe. One of millions in the shimmering galaxy, it waited for the hand of the Lifegiver to turn Her attention its way. And in so doing, bring forth life and color to the round blank canvass of coal and dust.
When the eye of Genesis was aroused, centuries, maybe millennia later, for time was nothing to Her, She chose a unique awakening, as She did with each new world that caught her eye, and focused a multitude of her light and energy into one single creature. The One sent to rouse the dormant life force of the still, silent planet.
The creator breathed. One breath and the creature grew from a spark of light into a shimmering figure. The spiral horn a crown upon his forehead. The bearer of the horn of life, Lior, the light-bringer, sent forth as ambassador of the great one, sent to carry out the duties of genesis.
On a cloud of sparkling dust the light-bringer came, and with his mere presence, the planet erupted in fire and ash. Giant cracks formed and mountains rose up in place of flat rock. Where the light bringer stepped, life grew-plants, trees and flowers bloomed. Lava sprang from fissures in the ground, and with one touch of the magical horn, turned from golden red to the purest blue water.
But there were places that the light couldn’t pierce. Places that the horn bearer couldn’t reach. And in the planets awakening everything lived and grew. But in shadowy places grew shadowy things.

 

Awakening:

The boy stood at the precipice of the great smoking mountain, the bottom of his feet searing to the super heated blackened rock. Last year it had been Kort standing naked before the shadowdragon, and Serat the year before, now it was Oboth, son of Orben, the one expected to fulfill the omen. To do what the others could not.
Sweat covered his bronze skin as waves of heat rose from the bubbling pool below. He longed to run back down the Path of the Burning, across Asha Valley, and plunge himself into the icy water at Ebony beach, calming his scorched skin. But he was watched; here at the top by one, the Seer, down the path, by the painted many, the five Ashen tribes, the ones he must unite. He must show no chink of weakness. Shaking away the flakes of ash that speckled his blonde curly hair, he looked down into the crater. The stagnant smell of sulfur gagged him, but he dared not the slightest grimace.
“Jump!”  The Seer glowed red, silhouette entwined with the flaming rays of nightfall as the sun plunged over the blackened cliff behind them. A water soaked thong, tied around nose and mouth, kept him from the mountain’s fumes, but nothing could protect from the heat. His light tunic and breeches dripped in testament.
“Jump!”  The Seer commanded once again, poking Oboth in the ribs to urge him forward.
Oboth could only stare, mesmerized by the broiling red lake beneath him. He had to obey, he was the sacrifice. He told himself to jump, but his legs would not bend to his will.  To be chosen for the Burning was a great honor, so they told him, but he knew it only as death.  Never again would he see the shores of Thorn. No one ever returned from the Burning.  No one. The Seer was wrong, always wrong.
Hands on his shoulders, hot and slick. “Do not disgrace me, Oboth.” The Seer hissed.
A lump rose in the boys throat and he wiped his brow with the back of his arm, transferring a smudge of ocher from the sacred symbols that snaked and twirled across his naked body. The gaping caldera opened before him like a giant mouth, and he thought about what it would be like to die, to be swallowed by the beast, to be burned alive in a wave of hot magma. Despite the heat, he felt a shiver form in his feet and travel up the back of his spine. He was craven, not worthy to be of Thorn and Flame. The shadowdragon would reject him and another would have to be sacrificed in his stead. Another useless death.
Catlike, Oboth darted to the left, making for a large pile of rocks, hoping it would lead him down the back side of the mountain, away from the madness of his people, away from death. His dark eyes stung from the smoke. He swiped at the water that fell in protest, focusing on the movement to his right.
The Seer countered with a giant step, blocking Oboth’s path with his hard body. Oboth ducked around his outstretched arm, smaller and faster than the heavily muscled Seer, and scrambled on hands and knees towards the downward path. Better to be a coward and alive than another hollow immolation. And the Seer was wrong. Always wrong.
Pain traveled down the boy’s spine as the Seer drove his heal into the back of Oboth’s neck, forcing him to the ground. Oboth tried to wriggle free, but the Seer dug his heel deeper into the boys flesh. A hand gripped his hair, jerking his neck backward “You are chosen.” Orben the Seer crouched over him, hissing in his ear, his breath hot and smelling of Sour Ginroot. He roughly rolled the boy over, grabbing him by the forearms and raising him off the ground. He chanted the sacred prayer of The Burning as he approached the edge of the caldera. Oboth dangled above the open mouth of the mountain; the Seer’s firm grip bruised his arms as he squirmed.  Each breath filled his lungs with smoke and ash, burning the delicate tissue within.
“Please, father, don’t!” The boy coughed and sputtered as a wave of lava exploded beneath him. “I want to live!” He pleaded with the man, hoping to touch some paternal feeling within him. His father’s coal black eyes fixed on his; no loving gaze of father to son, only the grim focus of Orben the Seer.
“You will.” His father’s voice was hard and sharp as an arrow’s tip.
The boy’s eyes widened as the Seer’s grip waned.  He scrambled to hold onto Orben’s flesh, but the one who beget him shoved outward, leaving Oboth to fall to his fate.
He clawed the steep rock as he descended further into the burning pit. Reaching his blackened fingertips forward, he grabbed for a small ledge, no more than a hand’s breadth wide, and jerked his body to a stop. His legs slammed against the crater’s face, his shoulder popped with his weight, but he held fast. He stretched his toes to find a foothold, but the sides were smooth as an otter’s fur. His fingers ached and his lungs burned. The bowls of the earth growled and rumbled around him. “The Mountain Has Spoken!” His father’s voice echoed off the ravine. The mountain shook, a small tremor followed by an angry seizure quake. “The shadowdragon will accept our sacrifice and our people will be avenged!” Boulders tumbled past Oboth, stirring up soot and ash. A fit of coughing brought on tremors of his own, but he refused to give up, refused to fall to his death. The boy pulled with all his might. One elbow, then his left knee, one more leg and he would…
Fire scalded his already raw skin, he screamed in pain as a molten wave splashed upon his dangling leg. The heat spread quickly, eating away at his flesh, melting the muscle, burning through to the bone. The boy bent his head and spilled his final meal on the black rock beneath him.
The mountain shook violently and the ledge gave way, he tumbled, helpless, down, down, into the fiery pit, the rest of his flesh journeying to join his leg in the raw burning liquid.
“Death come quick!” He screamed. Jarring pain shook him as his bones crunch on the jagged rocks surrounding the edge of the bubbling pool. Numbness, blackness, death.
“Not death, my son.” Something near him breathed. “Life!”
Onyx claws clutched his arms, onyx eyes stared into his own terrified blue ones. “You have finally come.” The mountain growled around him, deep and gravely. “Of all the others… only you. Only you are my son.” The creature breathed out a stream of smoke. Gray and hot, it forced its way into the boy’s nostrils. He held his breath and struggled to turn his head, but the shadowdragon gripped tighter with his claws. Oboth’s lungs burned for air, his vision darkened as he fought to keep his breath. The smoke probed further inside him, shoving itself down his throat, suffocating. He willed himself to breathe out, not in, but there was noting left inside but the aching need to inhale. He gulped, desperate for the pressure in his lugs to be released. The black vapor air filled his chest.
A burning jolt of energy rocked through his body. He felt the beating of his heart, alive for the first time. He felt the blood rushing though his veins, he felt the life of the mountain, the magic alive in the earth, he felt one with it, felt its anger and its pain. At once he knew the power of the dark places, of the places of fire and smoke, and it was his. Oboth Thanatos, the Shadowdragon, the Dystroyer.