The Rise and Fall of Vergoldet
True dragons are divided into two broad categories: chromatic and metallic. Chromatic dragons are almost universally evil, seeking only to slake their endless lust for food, treasure, and bloodshed. Metallic dragons are generally good and often protect the lands under their care. There are one of each kind in this tale. A chromatic red dragon called Guams and a metallic gold dragon named Vergoldet.
Gold dragons are the epitome of virtue. Golden scales cover the body of this majestic dragon, and a regal crest of horns arches backward above wise and piercing eyes. It is said that a gold dragon is able to find gemstones even better than an entire army of dwarves. And if it was to give you one of these precious stones, you would receive a vast amount of luck. Gold dragons also seem to be blessed by the Gods, some saying that they have been able to perform miracles. It is even possible for a golden dragon to change its shape and take the appearance of a regular person. Other metallic dragons revere their gold cousins as the agents of divine forces and the paragons of dragonkind, and often seek them for advice or aid. On the other hand, few creatures are more cruel and fearsome than the mighty red dragon. A crown of cruel horns surrounds the head of this mighty dragon. There is an intense heat that emanates from them that will burn all those that get too close. Flames that seem to get too close to the red dragon can be redirected towards its foes, and their devastating breath weapons have been known to melt stone and turn it into molten lava. Thick scales the color of molten rock cover its long body. King of the chromatics, this terrible beast brings ruin and death to the lands that fall under its shadow.
Nebligen Bergen is the kingdom directly to the West. Their great capital city, Steinhaufen lay a half days walk away from the Mountain where Guams made his home, and Steinhaufen suffered much because of this. When it all started, Guams would just raid and plunder as he pleased. But in a last ditch effort to save his people, The King of Steinhaufen piled offerings of Gold, livestock, and human sacrifices in between the Mountain and the city. This seemed to please Guams enough to quell his tastes and for him not to directly attack Steinhaufen, though there were still plenty of times that he took the offering and then more from the city.
All the time the king was sending sacrifices to Guams, he was also recruiting and hiring anyone who was willing to try and either drive the Guams out of his mountain, or slay the red terror. So many great men and women rose up to the challenge of trying to dethrone Guams from his evil throne, but all that attempted the feat would succumb to the crimson devil. All except for one. A man dressed in a golden-inlaid set of armor came to Steinhaufen one day and swore an oath to the king and his court just as all the others had, but this man was different. This man had a look to him that none of the others before had. There was a fiery passion in his eyes that burned deep into your soul when he looked at you. Leaving the court and setting off to go take care of Guams, the people seemed to hold their heads a bit higher than usual. The golden armored man gave the people real hope and belief that this evil that caused so much pain and suffering would finally be wiped out of existence.
Their prayers were indeed answered a few days later as the golden armored man walked back into Steinhaufen. He entered the throne room to thunderous applause. Cheers and shouts of joy and thanks came from all in attendance. He walked up to the King and his throne, laid a severed claw, one of the red spikes that used to form the crown on Guams head, and one of his eyes. “Your days of torment and fear are at an end my lord” the golden armored man said. And it was true. For the rest of the king’s days, he knew nothing but peace and prosperity.
The king asked the golden armored man to stay in the kingdom to help with the military and to train the city guard, and the man graciously accepted the position. He trained the soldiers hard every day, and formed strong bonds with the head of the kings guard, Huter. His renown grew with the people of the city, and not only gained the attention of the people, but the king’s daughter as well. They fell madly in love and eventually were wed. A huge kingdom wide celebration took place with many kings and nobles from neighboring countries in attendance. Soon after the wedding however, the king grew gravely ill. Nobody knew if there was foul play that caused the king’s illness or if it was just due to old age. Many masters of the arcane and divine arts came and went to aid the king, but he golden armored man stayed by the king’s side at all times, doing anything he could to help. He would only leave every few days for a short amount of time.When he came back, he would give the King a precious stone. He told the king to think of his family and future grandchildren and cling on to that hope. He was only expected to last two days, but the king clung on to life for two long and grueling months. Eventually his strength gave out and he passed away. The princess was now a queen, and the golden armored man, a king.
The golden armored man was a wondrous king. The people loved him, the queen, and their four children. They loved him not for his fame or glory that he had accumulated, but for what he did for the kingdom. It seemed that the golden armored man was a blessed man or had some sort of special connection with the gods. There was never drought, never widespread plague or illness, and no wars to speak of. In fact relations with the neighboring countries were the best they had ever been. Any and all possible conflicts were easily negotiated by the golden armored man and his diplomats. He maintained his friendship with Huter, and gained a new close friend in his council member Verraten. They could often be seen walking the halls together discussing trade, politics, and how delicious their last meal was. They would travel together on many diplomatic missions, and would go out hunting for wild game. One hunting outing would prove to be more eventful than usual, however.
The king, Huter, and Verraten were out together on foot in a small village in a neighboring country to the north. They were on their way back from a trade delegation meeting. It was a very mountainous region, and there had been quite a few attacks on people from some of the wildlife. Many villagers had claimed that the animals wouldn’t usually come and attack like this and that they would often stay higher in the Mountains. It seemed as if something was driving them closer to civilization. The three men rode out and headed into the mountains to at least attempt to help the village. Nightfall came, and they camped for the night. Before they were able to turn in, the horses became extremely startled. Suddenly a pack of dire bears were upon them. With ferocious force they charged into the camp and began attacking the three men. Were they an ordinary group of travelers they surely would have been killed in seconds, but unfortunately for the bears, this was not the case. They quickly sprung up and killed the first bear without hesitation. The next minute was a blur of fur, steel, and blood. Of the 15 that originally came upon the camp, one final bear remained and was surrounded by the three men. Before any could act they all began to hear laughter. Suddenly from the sky a huge shroud came down upon all four of the creatures. One piece of this shadow landed directly on the dire bear, as the three men all managed to get out of the way and not be crushed as well. The dire bear screamed and roared in pain as the shadow suddenly began to glow and red flames began emerging from it. The men stared in amazement as the shadow suddenly began to take shape. Horror came over Huter and Verraten’s faces, while sternness and determination remained on that of the golden armored man.
The flames revealed the shadow to be a red dragon, the flames making the scales on its hide glow as if everything was now on fire around the creature. The dire bear, completely turned to ash, was now the least of their concerns. The creature finished letting forth its fountain of flame, and resumed its maniacal laughter. “Hello Old Friend” the dragon managed to say between cackles of laughter in the common tongue. Huter and Verraten were confused at this only but for a second, until their eyes were able to adjust back from the blinding flame. The Red dragon had three legs and was missing many of the horns from the top of its head. That devastation continued down to its right eye, which was missing. They soon realized that this was not just any red dragon, but the terror Guams. The same Guams that the golden armored man, now their King, had claimed to have slain years ago.
“Run!” The king shouted at Huter and Verraten. “Run and don’t look back. Warn the village. I will take care of this.”
“No sire. We won’t leave you” Verraten retorted.
“We would rather die than leave your…” Huter began to say until Guams growled back at him, “That can be arranged!” He arched his head back and unleashed another devastating cone of flames, this time directed at the party catching both Huter and Verraten off guard. Their eyes widened as the flames grew closer. It was as if someone had slowed down time. Frozen in place they both stood there as they saw the flames inching closer and closer towards them. They began to clench their jaws and their eyes closed in preparation for the intense heat and pain that was about to envelop them. But they soon realized that they felt nothing. No heat. No pain. They both slowly uncovered their faces with their arms and carefully opened their eyes, wondering what could possibly have shielded them from being charred by smoke and flame. Before them stood not only Guams, but a second golden dragon as well.
Both dragons stood glaring at eachother. Guams was growling in a deep tone that the men could feel in their chests, and showing off his fangs in his large mouth. But the Golden dragon had quite a familiar look to it, a look that Huter and Verraten had seen many times before. Guams finally lessened his growl and said “There you are. Now in your true form.” The gold dragon did not utter a word. It just kept its gaze on Guams. “What is the matter Vergoldet? Have you nothing to say to me? How about apologizing for my arm! Or my crown of horns! Or my eye!!!” Guams let out a terrible roar. “You did this to me you bastard!”
Vergoldet finally spoke, in a voice so familiar yet different to both Huter and Verraten “If only I had killed you when I had the chance instead of sparing your life.” At that moment it became clear to both Huter and Verraten what happened years ago, and why their King was no longer standing beside them. Vergoldet was their king. He had deceived them all. Standing in shock, neither could move or say a word as they both had no choice but to lay witness to the two mighty beasts stand before them, both now with smoke coming from their mouths readying to blast the other with flame. “So Guams,” Vergoldet hissed, “do you wish to finish what we started all those years ago?”
Guams began to chuckle. “Why on earth would I ever want to do that? And break our agreement?” His chuckle grew louder and bolder into a menacing laugh. A confused yet weary look came across Vergoldet’s face as in between gasps of air Guams said “My damage here has been done. I leave you now to live happily the rest of your days. I just wished to see you one last time and thank you for letting me fly away and live all those years ago.” Vergoldet’s confused look turned to anger. He was about to say something but before he could utter a sound, Guams leaped into the air and unleashed a wave of fire towards Huter and Verraten. Vergoldet quickly spread his wings and enveloped the two men in order to shield them again from the immense heat. By the time he had uncurled from around his two companions, Guams was barely visible in the nights sky.
Vergoldet, now looking back at Huter and Verraten, his two friends, he began to say something in a language they could not understand. Suddenly the large golden dragon that stood before them once again looked like their good friend and King. A long heated debate between the three took place, and Vergoldet tried his best to explain to them what had happened.. Word had spread of Guams terror over Nebligen Bergen and he only wanted to save all the people from the death and destruction he knew would come. He argued that he had to take human form in order for the people to have tangible proof that a humanoid could stand up to such tyrannical power. But he couldn’t kill Guams. No matter how much pain he had caused he couldn’t bring himself to do it, but his decision to spare his life has haunted him every day since. He did not intend to stay in Nebligen Bergen, or fall in love with the now Queen. But he felt he had to follow his heart, and his heart told him the people needed his aid. He talked about what he has done for Nebligen Bergen, how things have never been better, and lastly he talked about how he tried everything in his power to save the old king. How he would give him blessed gemstones each day, and attempt to use his innate magical powers to save his life.
After screaming and shouting back and forth at each other, Huter finally realized that what Vergoldet was saying was true. This gold dragon did not have any evil intentions as Guams had made it seem. He could trust Vergoldet as much now as he ever had in the past. Verraten on the other hand wasn’t as convinced, but he was tired and through with arguing for the evening. So the three of them put their camp back together and slept for the night. The remainder of the trip back to Nebligen Bergen, Verraten was very quiet and barely conversed with the others. When they reached the city, the three of them tried to act as if everything had gone according to plan, that the diplomatic mission was a success and nothing else out of the ordinary had occurred.
The next few days passed normally. Everyone was able to put behind them the events on the road and be around one another without any issues. That is until a letter came to Huter that asked him to meet Verraten on the outskirts of Nebligen Bergen. Huter, more curious as to what this could all mean went and met with his friend at a small cottege in the country. Once there, he was amazed not only to find Verraten, but the Queen and the rest of the council for Nebligen Bergen. All had been given letters and summoned by Verraten. All except for Vergoldet. Their king. Verraten spared no detail in explaining the events to everyone. Gasps and shocked noises came from the people gathered in the room as Verraten told them about Vergoldet the golden dragon. Everyone except for the queen. She sat very calmly listening to everything without any emotion on her face. Every so often he would look over and ask for Huter to chime in and confirm what he had said. Huter reluctantly confirmed everything, and before he was able to try and add his own perspective, he would get cut off and Veratten would continue his verbal attack against the king. As he finished, he recounted everything that he had personally lost because of Guams. His brother and familly were all killed in one of Guams raids. Their home burned to the ground with them all in it. There were no bodies left to burry, because they were all incinerated in the flame. He had also lost friends in the raids and used as sacrifices in the offerings. He asked how many did we loose to that beast only to be betrayed by another just like it. To be tricked and lied to every day and ruled over by a creature that would just as soon burn Nebligen Bergen until it was nothing but dirt and ash. A unanimus no rang in the room as everyone but Huter spoke up in anger. Veratten then began laying out a plan of how to deal with Vergoldet. Huter listened in shock and horror as each person in the room agreed to what was said and voted in favor of going ahead with what was proposed, even the queen. He knew that he had no choice but to comply, or he feared that he would never leave this room alive. Everything was in place, and the people soon dispersed one by one. Back to Nebligen Bergen and the king who was soon to understand Guam’s parting words.
The next day, everything was in place as Veratten had planed. A servant that could be paid and trusted were with the four children. The court guards were all informed of the plan and their numbers were doubled for the day. Even the royals that occupied the court were secretly wearing armor and carrying weapons. Everything was in place. As the last of the townspeople brought up their questions to the King Vergoldet and Queen Luder, and everyone began to leave the throne room, Veratten stood and spoke aloud saying, “There is one further grievance that must be aired out today, and it concerns you my lord. For too long you have lied to us, the free people of Nebligen Bergen. And we are free people. What we are not are puppets and toys for your pleasure. No longer will we be ruled over by the same type of beast that once threatened to drive us into ruin. No longer will we take handouts from you. You have two choices before you. You either denounce your throne, leave peacefully and never step foot or claw in Nebligen Bergen again, or we will do what should have been done years ago to Guams and tear you apart and display your corpse in the grand hall for all to see.”
Vergoldet was stunned. Such hate and spite coming from one of his closest friends. He couldn’t believe his ears. He stuttered and tried to speak but before a single sound could leave his lips, Veratten quickly screamed back at him and exclaimed, “You will not use your lies and dragon’s tricks on us any longer. You have your ultimatum Vergoldet. Choose to live or choose to die.” Vergoldet had to pause again and take a moment. He searched the room, trying to find a set of eyes that would meet his with the same love that had been given to him ever since he came back with the claw, horn, and eye of Guams. But he only found fear and hatred. Even when he looked into Queen Luder’s eyes, his wife’s eyes, there was no love left to be found. “Choose” she said without any hesitation. Right then and there he knew what Guams had meant. ‘The damage here has been done’. He looked back at Veratten, knowing it was that day in the woods that was the cause of all that was happening now. He then looked for Huter and once he found his eyes in the room, he found what he was looking for. In Huter’s eyes there was regret, remorse, pain, and longing. Vergoldet knew that Huter was on his side.
“My children” Vergoldet said without breaking eye contact with Huter. “Please, my…”
“Will be safe here with their mother!” Queen Luder screamed at him, almost foaming at the mouth with rage that he would dare think of taking her children away from her.
Veratten drew his sword, and the rest of the guards and royals in the great hall followed in suit. “Choose!!! Leave or Die!”
Vergoldet’s eyes remained fixed on Huter, and Huter could not take his eyes off of that of his king. “My children.” Vergoldet said again, with an even more pleading look on his face. “My chil…” He was not able to finish saying the word even though he desperately wanted to. Vergoldet felt sharp pain in his throat, and looking down saw the tip of a long dagger coated in blood sticking out of it. He recognised the blade. He had it commissioned himself as a present for his wife, the Queen Luder. She stood behind him, breathing heavily, hands clenched around the handle that was on the other side of his neck.
She softly whispered to him “you will never see my children again” and removed the dagger from his throat and plunged it deep into his head. Over and over Luder stabbed Vergoldet, his body now lay on the ground in a pile of his blood. She stopped when Vergoldet began to growl and roar. She quickly ran as he went from being a human and turned into the golden dragon that he truly was, but the damage had been done. He couldn’t move, barely breath, and his vision was blurred. His attempts at rising failed and he fell back prone to the ground. Veratten walked over to Vergoldet’s head and knelt down beside it and said “Now we are free”. He then stood up, and with a great downward thrust, drove his sword into Vergoldet’s eye. The others in the room cheered and rushed in to add their swords as ornaments to the body of Vergoldet.
When the last breath of life finally left Vergoldet, Veratten went over to the queen, “We have escaped from this beast, but there is part of him that still remains.”
The queen looked puzzled for a second but then realized what he was really referring to. “No no no not them. They are not evil creatures as he was. I should know I am their mother. Do not do this Veratten! Do not kill my children.”
“They may be your children, but they were also that thing’s children. He tricked you Luder! He fooled all of us and with all of his lies. He wed you and had you bear his wicked, beastly offspring. They will not behave as you or I do! They will be as this dragon and every other dragon that has ever been. Evil and corrupt and full of lies. We must do this Luder. We must.”
“You… You are right Veratten. They will never truly be mine. His… That creature’s blood flows through their veins. They… must not be allowed to live.” Luder said, with tears running down her cheeks even though she wasn’t exactly sure which emotion was causing them to fall.
“Don’t worry Luder, it will be taken care of.” Veratten said. He then went over to a few knights in guard uniforms and told them to go to the children’s quarters and to take care of the dragons spawn. The knights pulled their swords out of Vergoldet’s body and headed out of the great hall. A few minutes passed and they came running back and out of breath told Veratten what they had come across. One of the servants had been knocked unconscious, and the other servant and the four children were nowhere to be found. Furious, Veratten looked at the corpse and then at all the people in the great hall. “We cannot allow this creatures spawn to live. They must be killed. We must find them and those who are responsible for their escape!” People began removing their swords sheathed in Vergoldet and began running out of the great hall in all directions. Veratten watching as everyone left, taking into account who he saw. And then it struck him like a sucker punch to the gut. Huter.
Huter had staggered back the first time Luder’s dagger went into Vergoldet, as if he had been struck by the dagger himself. He then watched in horror as Luder continuously stabbed and stabbed at his king’s, his friend’s body. He remained motionless like the rest in the court. His hands came up to his ears in order to try and muffle out the screams from Luder and the sound of her dagger. He tried to focus on anything than what was going on right before him. He closed his eyes and immediately saw Vergoldet’s face. “My children,” he said. “My children.” And immediately he regained focus. The rest of the hall might as well have been empty. Nothing mattered anymore in this room. All that mattered was getting to the four tiny babies and getting them out of the castle, no, out of the country as fast as possible. He ran through the open door like a ghost. Nobody saw that he left, not with their king turning into a dragon right before their eyes. One last act of a dying father to save his children.
Huter got to the room and quickly opened and closed the door. There he saw the four children along with two of their caretakers. He recognized one of them, Hilfe was her name. He had seen her many times with the children, but the other female he did not recognize. “Hilfe I need you to trust me. The children are in danger. Veratten has poisoned the mind of the royal court and has killed the king. I fear that the children may be next. We must get them out of here now.” Hilfe had a look of severe confusion and horror on her face, but the other female did not.
“So it seems as if Veratten’s plan has worked. We are now free of that lying dragon filth. Well, almost free” the woman said and removed a dagger hidden in her sleeve, “You won’t be taking these dragon spawn anywhere.”
Before Huter could draw a weapon, Hilfe lunged and grabbed the woman’s arm, to try to gain control of the knife. The woman quickly retracted her knife wielding hand and began to thrust it forward towards Hilfe’s gut. Huter quickly charged forward, and with the pommel of his sword jammed it into the woman’s head. She quickly flew across the room and landed hard on the floor. “You alright madam?”
“Yes yes I’m fine. Stop worrying over me and help me get these children to safety!” Hilfe exclaimed. Each with one child on their back, and one child in their arms they activated the hidden siege door next to the fireplace and began descending down a long set of stairs. The door closed behind them, as they traveled further down by torchlight. On and on they went until they reached a sewer passage. From there, they were able to quietly navigate through the many hidden pathways Huter knew about in the city; Some he had even designed himself. Hilfe and Huter eventually made it out of the sewers and safely beyond the city wall, and soon made it out of the country. Huter married Hilfe, and they settled in a small and quaint town with the four children of Vergoldet, and they lived happily ever after.