Thursday, September 3, 2009 By Draconi The dragons had come, and with them, power. The power to end wars, or begin them anew. Even as the platinum dragons pledged aid to the battered armies of Dawn, behemoths of crimson red had appeared alongside the agents of chaos, fulfilling vows made in the dark recesses of the void. Distractions and diversions had been tossed aside, strategies abandoned. A veritable army now answered her call, surrounding her beneath the ramparts of Serpent’s Hold. The dragons sought to pacify the threat of their crimson enemies, in a bid to give Dawn the time she needed to take her army into the Underworld and destroy the Shadowlords in their hiding place. The greatest of the platinums had spoken to her, telling her of the power each artifact held – that through them she would take on the mantle of virtue and pierce the veil that protected the Shadowlords. There plan was simple, for time had simply run out. One part of her army would aid the dragons, while the other made their way to the daemon template of Fire Island, and there, confront the Shadowlords deep beneath the earth. Now she held the last of the sacred treasures. The Bell of Courage was cold in her hands, heavy, as though weighted with the ages, and yet it resonated still – a new magic slowly intertwining with the power of the other two within her. At last, she was assured. She looked out upon the assemblage below, a sea of faces all now familiar. Her friends, her followers, simply strangers a few weeks before, now bonded together by blood and fire. Beyond the crowd a slow mist rolled in from the shore, and for a moment, in that deepening fog, she could see all who had ever stood beside her, all who were left behind. Her eyes caught those of her most loyal comrades, among them a master thief, a grizzled soldier, a young mage, and even a tiny mouse. She lifted the bell forward, holding it aloft, even as the crowd kneeled in reverent awe, quieting to hear her. “Britannia!” “Today we shall conquer! In Virtue’s name!” The crowd roared in approval. “We go not now to die for our kingdom!” “Nay! We shall live to see her free!” From the heavens a rushing sound descended upon the fortress city, as shining meteors of silvery light appeared above, in moments the platinum flight had descended upon the parapets, roaring their approval. Dawn pulled back her hand, and threw it forward with a powerful snap. The bell rang, a crystal note of righteous fury speeding through the crowd. The dragons roared again, their voices rising in a symphony of ancient song. The mortal throng too began to shout, and this was their refrain: “Rule, Britannia!” And so on they sang, even as their ships set out across the ocean towards the Isle of Fire, where at last their struggle could end.