“Dragons were always around, as much a part of Aesor as any other living thing. We’re all a beast of some sort, just varying in intelligence and willpower.” The weathered captain gave a toothy satisfied smile, showing off his two wooden teeth. His tunic showed green beneath a short coat. His boots planted squarely, he was seated with hands on his knees as he surveyed his audience. Eyes wide with curiosity, the children were soaking it in. “All Aesorians are in this together after all. But we didn’t really understand that back then.” His lips pursed with resentment, lost in an old thought for the briefest of seconds before regaining focus. “So dragons…big and small were everywhere as part of the skies, over fields, and on the coasts from time to time. Even at a distance though, I’ve always felt excitement and wonder at just the sight of them.” Gesturing ahead of himself, his left hand was spread wide as a mock dragon flying about in front of him. “Sure many ranchers cursed at them for eating into their herds from time to time.” His right hand balls into a fist and his left swoops down and flies off with it. “But….while they did eat our food, we humans weren’t really on the menu.” Hands open, arms out wide. “But that does not mean dragons couldn’t be convinced to eat you, it was just more of a nod at mutual boundaries. Boundaries are important, the whole lot of you should never forget that. There are limits in all things, both rights and wrongs and after Dragonfall, everything changed.

I recall the day it happened. As fate would have it, I was out on the water with my da that day. Ironically, da allowed me out with him on the boat for the first time & it was almost my last. I was eleven, we’d left well before the morning’s light. As da would always say, “The best time to get through the straits is while the monsters are still asleep.” Truth be told though, monsters never do sleep. A couple of hours is all it takes to get through the straits if you know the currents, and there was little more my da knew better. Just outside the straits there is an underwater mountain of faintly shimmering coral, an undersea reflection of the shattered light above.” He pointed and looked up in dramatic captivation. Some of the crowd giggled in amusement. “The Nepheli call it Nalilaku, which loosely translates to shiny paradise, or something like that. One of the most amazing sights to see, I must say. Nalilaku emits a field of tiny glittery bubbles. Inside many of them are these tasty neon algaes. A favorite treat for those fat and juicy kimerals you’ve all come to know and love, the captain said pointing to the adolescents. Da would tell me stories but that day I'd finally seen it for myself and that really does make all the difference. While he did his thing dropping the kimeral rigs and such, I’d spied a most spectacular view out to the east. After stealing the spyglass I could see far out to Aepollum, The Dragon Isle in the distance. Even at this distance enormous dragon silhouettes showed in contrast against the sky. I could make out about three at this distance, and a scattering of smaller ones flickering in and out of visibility. They must be huge, I thought to myself in wonder. To my delight more and more appeared, flying high up into the sky. So entranced, looking way way off, I didn’t notice the crowd gathering around me. Pointing to the sky wide eyed he shrieked, “Dragon breath!”, he roared and mimicked blowing fire through his fist at the crowd. Startled, the kids jumped. “Dragons began bespeckling the skies, spreading outwards from Aepollum. Breathing magical clouds and darting amongst themselves, a sight not often seen. It didn’t take long before they began streaking across the skies overhead, diving and weaving through the air. Many were as large as the ship, yet the danger wasn’t so apparent at first, that’s when everyone began to notice. The dragons were snapping and tearing at each other. Some began falling from way up high beyond the clouds. I wasn’t scared though. Not until hearing the splash of a small dragon, no bigger than a horse, falling into the water not far off. Something was very wrong. A trio of dark ravenous dragons, as big as dogs swooped down and atop a sailor not 5 feet away from me. We didn’t have a name for them then, but they were Aria. I’d fallen over from the impact of their landing.” He jumped up to his feet for effect. “The sailor, his name was Sendal, poor soul. He barely felt a thing. It was over quickly for him. Poor soul regardless. Two of the beasts tore into him, the last scrambled yet failed to get more than scraps before flying off after the first two. The waves around us began getting choppy as more and more dragons began raining from above, splashing violently into the water. The crew snapped into action, with no time to think, instincts took over. It felt like forever for them to haul up the nets and riggings before we could get going.” Taking wide unbalanced steps the captain moved stumbly through his spectators. “ The boat bobbed in the sea as the waves grew larger, threatening to engulf us. By all rights we shouldn’t have made it home that day, and were so lucky to only have lost Sendal. Between the oceans trying to swallow us, dragons threatening to crush us beneath them or simply rip us to shreds, it was a damn miracle really. Once back into the straits the boat held more steadily. Later pa told me how we navigated the straits so well. “We had help, he said, from below…some Gilcast.” The Nepheli gained my respect and thanks starting that day, and ever since.” Having made it back to his seat, he reclaimed it. “And that is my Dragonfall story. It was two weeks before da went back to sea, and when he did, I rejoined him.”

“Tell us about Ephyr!”, one of the children cried out, “Yeah what happened in the jungle?” said another, “How did they survive!?” from yet another, “Were you there, too?” another asked.

“Well, The Tragedy of Eyphr is just as mysterious as Dragonfall i suppose. No one but the Eyphran keepers are said to know what really happened that day and they aren’t being very forthcoming about it. As the official story goes their overlord, or King, was too greedy with his thirst for marcry power and that cost him and almost his whole race. How the Eyphran’s survived or managed to rebuild their destroyed jungles is still not widely known, but miraculous nonetheless. There are those that believe such a tragedy was necessary to finally end the calamitous age forever known as the Rage of Fates, and if that’s true….we should all thank the Eyphrans for their sacrifices and remember that, in the end, we are all Aesorians and must endure the shadows together, if we're going to save the light.