The Manor entrance, once beautifully decorated and pristine, was now colored with slashes of blood and littered with corpses of the followers of Bardomir. His banner, such a source of pride to the Dragonsworn, was now tattered, soiled and cast to the ground, as reports suggested had been the man it represented. A gruesome act had occurred here.
On the eastern side of the large manor a slender man staggered into a grand room, the study of Bardomir. ‘Is it true?!’ He gasped with exhaustion. ‘Is it?!!’ He barely had the strength to express his anger and shock. But it was true. It had always been true. And deep inside, he had always known it to be true.
The bloodied and headless corpse of Lord Bardomir was sprawled on the floor of the once immaculate study. The corpse of the False Dragon.
A larger man who was already present sighed. ‘There is no damage done to the Manor gates, nor the walls. There is no sign of a breach... I don’t understand, was there no one on guard duty? How could they have penetrated the manor?’ he blathered on in confusion, clearly refusing to accept what lie in front of him. Refusing to accept perhaps, who lie in front of him?
‘How could we all have been so blind?! Where was everyone?!’ the slender man snapped harshly, and just then a neatly disguised trapdoor opened up, and a third man came through.
‘It was one of our own.’ The man pulled himself up and climbed to his feet. He threw to the floor a weathered red coat bearing a golden dragon and a cuendillar dragon pendant on a simple chain. ‘We were betrayed by one of our own. And we were all blind to it, each and every one of us.’ He smirked wryly as he cast an eye over Bardomir’s butchered corpse. ‘Vile way to go,’ he chuckled inappropriately. Maybe he too was unwilling to come to terms with reality? Or maybe he too had always known this day would come?
The slender man spat in anger and turned to leave the scene, but before he could take a step another man had entered the study. A clean-shaven head and a triangular scar on his cheek were the only things that set this man aside from the bedraggled group of followers that quickly filed in behind him. The scarred man wore clothes so plain and worn, one might even have mistaken him for a beggar.
‘Yet one shall be born, to face the Shadow,’ he uttered calmly, gazing directly into the eyes of man who had stopped in his tracks. He started making his way further into the study, a room that had once belonged to a wealthier man, a man of power and stature. As he moved forward, the slender man stepped aside, struck at once by both confusion and awe.
‘Born once again, as he was born before,’ the bald man continued, finally breaking his gaze, and quietly proceeding forward to stand before the larger man.
‘The Dragon, shall be... Reborn,’ he uttered with calm reverence directly into the face of the man, reciting lines that seemed well rehearsed.
‘And there will be wailing, and gnashing of teeth at his rebirth.’
‘In sackcloth and ashes, shall he clothe the people.’
‘And he shall break the world again by his coming, tearing apart all ties that bind.’
‘Like the unfettered dawn shall he blind us, and burn us.’
‘Yet shall the Dragon Reborn confront the Shadow at the Last Battle.’
‘And his blood shall give us the Light.’
This strange, compelling newcomer calmly moved about the room, reciting verses, apparently sizing up the place as he did, examining every little detail, though his eyes lingered not at all on trapdoor, as if he considered it unworthy of his attention.
‘Let tears flow, O ye people of the world.’
He halted at the bloodied corpse, knelt beside it and whispered, ‘Weep for your salvation.’
‘Weep. For your salvation,’ he said louder. He stood up and cast his eyes around the room, meeting each face slowly in turn. He was in full view of the audience that had huddled together near the entrance to watch him survey the room as he spoke. Every eye was upon him, no one dared speak. They were captivated by his presence.
After a moment of silence, the slender man exchanged a glance with the larger man. Who was this newcomer, dressed up like a beggar, but with such confidence and knowledge of prophecy? But still neither of them dared to speak. They had devoted their lives to the Lord Dragon, whoever that may be. Zealously they clung to this notion, as did all of their brethren. But if Bardomir was false, as it now so obviously appeared…
The silence was broken when someone at the back of the group barked out, ‘Heed Masema Dagar, the Prophet of the Lord Dragon!’
The rest of his followers chanted immediately in reply, ‘Heed Masema Dagar! The Prophet of the Lord Dragon!’
To his surprise, the slender man realized his own voice was among them. He turned to the larger man, found him chanting too. They exchanged a nod.
In an instant, the confusion left in wake of Bardomir’s death was no more. For this strange man who had appeared as if from thin air, whoever he was, clearly knew more about the Prophecies of the Dragon than Bardomir had ever known. They had been blindly following a False Dragon, swayed by his arrogance and charm, and most tellingly, his wealth. He knew they would not, that they could not, make the same mistake again.
‘Heed Masema Dagar!’ he bellowed, even louder. ‘The Prophet of the Lord Dragon!’
‘Heed Masema Dagar! The Prophet of the Lord Dragon!’