Of dragons (Cho-whissir and Cho-frinnir)

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Chapter 1
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The fall and redemption of the Cho-whissir as told by Arethor the prince heir of the Cho-whissir

Aanoth, the ancient, ruler of the sky was my most ancient descendant from the birth of Choaradar. He was the first and wisest of the Cho-whissir. The Wise One taught him language, honor, and most importantly gifted him with wings that he might watch over the Wise One’s children, the Alumnir, from above.

Aanoth bore seven children through Arathien all who were gifted with both great wings and wisdom. Aakath was the eldest of the seven and bore many, many children; the eldest of them was named Adashar. Adashar bore my father Agranthor as the eldest. And I, Arethor, was the eldest of his five siblings. My grandfather Adashar had been present at my birth and still lives in the rocky islands to the northeast of the mainland that the Alumnir call Alum. There Adashar rules the Cho-whissir from the great spires above the calling waters.

In the time of Aakath there had been many of the Cho-whissir because Aakath had many children. There were so many children that they were forced to spread out to find game. Adashar, being the eldest, chose the highlands as his territory. His younger siblings quickly spread south and west. Many of them found small territories that could support them, but many more found only fear among the Wise One’s children, the Alumnir.

In the west, upon the great plain, war was made between the Cho-whissir and the Alumnir. The Alumnir greatly mistrusted the Cho-whissir and set traps for them and their children. They even pursued us into the sanctity of our lairs violating the pacts made by their fathers. Many of the Cho-whissir died one by one until Aakath heard about the treachery of the Alumnir.

Anothien the Blue, mate of Aacoth had been awaiting the return of her mate in her lair, a cave within the hills to the west of the great plain. She had recently hatched a brood of four and was tending them while Aacoth, her mate, had gone out to hunt game for his children.

Aacoth had been sailing above a forest searching for game when he spied a deer grazing in a clearing. He swooped down upon the beast being as silent as the light of Athiel and reached out to take it. But as he did, a great spear rose up from a trap in the ground and pierced him through his silvery underbelly. He had cried out in terrible pain, but the Alumnir emerged from the trees brandishing swords and spears rather than the prescribed bandages and ointments. Aacoth fought valiantly as he broke off the spear in his belly. He slew many of his assailants even though he had only just reached his maturity a mere one-hundred orbits ago. At last he succumbed to his great wound and fell before the Alumnir. With his dying breath he let out a loud warning call for his mate.

Anothien heard the call of Aacoth and prepared to defend her still flightless brood from the treacherous Alumnir. After Athiel had shone nine times in the night sky her brood was getting very hungry and keening for something to eat. She was forced to cautiously fly from her cave in search of game to feed her children. This was when she had found the desecrated body of her mate in the meadow. She could hardly even recognize him because he had been skinned of his beautiful red scales and left to rot for Cho-whissir flesh is considered unhealthy for consumption by the Alumnir. Anothien mourned her mate for a time, though she was unable to consume his flesh in the honor he deserved, for he had been dead too long. Then she went off again in search of food for her brood, and after some long time of searching she found a few sheep wandering about a meadow and took two alive.

However, while she had been gone some Alumnir heard the keening of her children and set out to investigate the sound. They entered the cave and found the young brood with their eyes still closed keening in a small depression. Seeing them defenseless the Alumnir took their weapons and dishonorably murdered them where they lay. Not only had they treacherously slain the mate, not only had they violated the sanctity of the lair, not only had they dishonorably murdered a defenseless brood, but they even took their scales and left the rest for Anothien to find upon her eventual return.

Anothien had been away much longer than she intended. When she arrived she could smell the presence of the Alumnir and feared the worst. This she confirmed quickly and once again mourned her loss eating her defiled children lest their bodies be left wolves or vultures. The hunters had not gone far, though, and had observed her return. They set themselves to wait in ambush near the entrance to the lair.

At long last Anothien gave up her mourning and decided to report back to Aakath the Mighty of her misfortune at the treacherous hands of the Alumnir. She roused herself and went to exit the lair when she was attack by the Alumnir. Having nothing to lose and despairing of her life Anothien fought ferociously and slew enough of the Alumnir that she was able to escape their grasp and break free of her lair. She flew at once over the wide plain to Aakath who still resided among the great spires and calling water.

Aakath listened carefully to the tale of Anothien and took off in a rage to decide how to punish the Alumnir for their treachery. He thought for a full orbit how best to repay vengeance upon the Alumnir for even more similar tales reached his ears as he pondered the possibilities. At first he thought he would wipe the Alumnir from all Choaradar, but the Wise One cautioned him in his dreams about such folly.

At last, Aakath decided on a plan and gathered the Cho-whissir that he could summon and flew out to make battle upon those who had defiled the lairs of his children. He would spare the southern reaches of Alum for now as only a scattered few such reports had arisen from there, and those had been judged and punished already. But the northwestern part of Alum would pay in blood for their crimes against the Cho-whissir.

As Aakath flew out over the great plain he and his subjects attacked numerous holdings of the Alumnir. They swooped down and tore small huts apart. They attacked man, woman, and child alike showing them no mercy for they had shown none. Soon, the army arrived at the great central plateau where the Alumnir had built a large settlement. This place was attacked with a vengeance for many of Aakath’s children had been slain by the cunning hunters of the dreadful place.

Aakath wiped the treacherous settlement from the face of Choaradar. His children tore the stones from each other and smashed the wooden buildings. They refused to even sully their tongues with the wretched flesh of those evil-doers for such were their lives that they deserved no such honor even in their death.

Not too much farther west in the plains, the Cho-whissir encountered a small group of Cho-frinnir, land walking fire-breathers, as they headed toward the lair of Thiel. Aakath landed for a time and spoke with his cousins. The Cho-frinnir had also lost many of their relatives and were pleased to aid in the effort to bring the Alumnir to justice in hopes that they might one day, again, recall the oaths of their fathers.

Now the worst of the Alumnir resided in the hills to the west of the great plain. There they had become skilled in the process of forging bronze and then crafting the metal into weapons. These they used not only against the Cho-whissir, but they even killed each other against the commands of the Wise One. Death they deserved as justice for their foul deeds, and death they would have in abundance.

Aakath slowed the progress of his children toward the hills so that the Cho-frinnir might keep up with them. As they went they conversed and finally made a pact. From thence forward Cho-frinnir and Cho-whissir would not encroach on each other’s territory and would meet once every five hundred orbits in a place of the Cho-frinnir’s choosing. To this day the pact still exists and is honored by both sides.

At last Aakath’s hunters reached the hills. But before they had arrived, the Alumnir were made aware of their coming by the fleeing refugees and made haste to prepare. The Alumnir had all left their homesteads to wait in the fortified cities for the Cho-whissir, and once there they had not wasted their time. They built weapons of great strength and ingenuity capable of hurling large spears and stones great distances.

When Aakath approached over the thick woods a plan occurred to him on how to drive the Alumnir from their forts. With the help of the Cho-frinnir he knocked down trees that could be carried by the Cho-whissir. These he set on fire and then dropped into the fortifications in large numbers. Between the dropping and burning, most forts where easily overrun and their inhabitants were slaughtered and their dishonorable bodies left for the carrion eaters or to be burned by the fires set in the various valleys by the Cho-frinnir.

This they did valley by valley until they came to Valle de Silencio. Here, before they arrived, the honorable ruler of the valley went out to meet the Cho-whissir carrying a young boy in his arms. When the Cho-whissir arrived he stood by a lone ash tree as had been detailed in the pact of his forefathers to parlay. Aakath alighted before the honorable ruler and spoke long with him.

The ruler pledged that none in his valley had done the Cho-whissir or Cho-frinnir any harm. Not only that but he offered his firstborn son for Aakath to kill should this be found a lie. Aakath at once took the boy gently in his talons and carried him to meet with his hunters. None were able to show a lie, so the valley and its inhabitants were spared. Although, they were strongly warned, and the pact was reaffirmed.

Not too much further to the south however was the place Anothien had her lair. The Cho-whissir descended upon the valley with a vengeance. They destroyed the valley entirely. Even the Cho-frinnir aided in the effort by burning to ashes everything within it. They even pursued the Alumnir into the caves where they fled.

Now into one cave fled the ruler of the treacherous inhabitants. This was the very same cave that had been Anothien’s lair. The blood of the young broodlings still stained the small depression where they had been brutally murdered. Aakath entered the cave to search for any Alumnir and immediately came upon their scent. As he ventured within he found the stains of the broodling’s blood and keened. Seeing Aakath’s neck outstretched to keen, the treacherous ruler leapt from his hiding place and speared the noble Aakath.

To the vile ruler’s dismay the wound was not deep enough to kill Aakath outright. Aakath broke the spear with his claw and set about catching the treacherous ruler. Aakath sought him intently as the ruler fled into the dark depths of the cavern. The ruler was cunning, and the chase lasted into the dark hours of the truenight.

At last, after numerous traps had wounded Aakath fore and aft he pinned the Alumnir in a corner and seized him. Aakath caught the foul creature in his claws unwilling to even taste him and carried him out that justice might be done. Placing the evil ruler upon a large rock before his kin Aakath breathed his last as his numerous wounds finally overcame him.

The treacherous ruler of the valley lay upon the stone too terrified to move as the Cho-whissir surrounded him and mourned the passing of Aakath in proper tradition each taking a piece of their father’s flesh until nothing remained. Anothien finally spoke to the surrounding Cho-whissir after a day of consumption and remembering, "Now that our father, Aakath has passed on it is time to deal with the charge he has left us." Saying so, she set her eyes upon the rightfully trembling ruler. "He has murdered my brood and slain our father by treachery. He and all his kind should pay for their terrible deeds. I insist that we finish what we have begun and raze this hill country west of the great grassy sea in its entirety."

This was quickly decided upon by all present, and what had been justice before now became vengeance. Anothien began by taking the rulers legs and leaving him to die upon the stone. This was the first of the terrible acts done by the Cho-whissir for half-killing in any case was strictly forbidden by the Wise One. The beginning of our down fall had begun in earnest.

A great unquenchable rage took the Cho-whissir. They even destroyed all the Alumnir’s livestock in the field neglecting to even eat the flesh. They destroyed not only towns and fortresses but the small single family lairs that the Alumnir built alone in the forests. With the help of the Cho-frinnir they burned the valleys, entirely destroying every living thing, and driving the wild game away. Even the fields of the Alumnir they burned.

One young Cho-whissir, Aadrak took a warning to the honorable Valle de Silencio of the impending wrath of the Cho-whissir. The honorable Alumnir of the valley wisely fled into the deep caves of the vale never to be seen again by their kind. This saved them from the fury of the Cho-whissir who destroyed as much of the vale as they could, for the Cho-frinnir honorably refused to break the treaty by burning it.

In such things my people greatly displeased the Wise One. The Wise One saw that the Cho-whissir had become many and evil, so He sent the Men of Silver against the Cho-whissir. These Alumnir wore the pale Actium forged in the Tower Beneath the Moon. For the Wise One had taught them at that time how forge the silver metal that His children might be avenged.

These Men of Silver fought the Cho-whissir in many places and often fell to the might of the Cho-whissir. But, they learned our weaknesses and began to destroy us one by one on various fields of battle. One of the Men of Silver fashioned a great bow, mightier than any before it, that threw a spear the size of a tree far into the air. Using this abominable device he killed the mightiest of Aakath’s children, Aadragon, whose name the Alumnir still use to frighten their foolish children.

The Cho-whissir and Cho-frinnir who had embarked on the great campaign of justice turned vengeance fell one by one until only Anothien was left, sustained despite her wounds by her great rage. By this time the hill country had been totally ravaged and made near impassible for the Alumnir except for the honorable valley. Here Aadrak waited and guarded the caves and their frightened inhabitants from the encroachment of the overly vengeful Cho-whissir.

Here also Anothien came to finish what she had begun so long ago. At last, Aadrak met her within a cave where she intended to hunt the Alumnir. "What brings you here?" questioned Aadrak upon her entering.

"I have come to reap vengeance for the murder of my brood and that of my father Aakath."

"Do you not know that Alumnir of this of this valley have made a treaty with us?"

"All Alumnir are the same murdering cowards and deserve death."

"They are not all the same. Have you forgotten your father’s teaching? I may be young, but I remember it clearly. Has not he Wise One created us all, and has He not given us the Alumnir as our charge?"

"They are murderers, all of them."

"They are but a different brood of the Wise One. And being elder we are charged with their protection, not their destruction."

"Have they not murdered our brothers and sisters? Have they not murdered our broods? Justice must be done."

"Justice has been done. In fact what you seek is no longer justice but revenge. There is no honor in revenge."

"Even so I will have it."

"Will you not change your mind? The Alumnir who killed your brood have been consumed by the earth. Justice has been satisfied. Those you seek to destroy would never do such a thing. They have made an oath and reaffirmed the remembrance of our ancient treaty. Will you betray your own kind and dishonor the Cho-whissir before our charges. Will you bring even more disrepute upon our honorable race?

"I will avenge my brood and the sanctity of my lair. I will avenge my father and siblings." With that Anothien attacked the honorable Aadrak. Although Anothien was twice his size Aadrak fought valiantly in the small confines of the cave and, at last, reluctantly slew Anothien.

To this day the wind carries the sound of Aadrak’s mourning over his grievous deed. It can be heard in most of the mountain crevices and narrow passes for Aadrak’s sorrow was great. But the Wise One was pleased with him, for he had carried out the Wise One’s instructions even though they distressed him greatly.

The Wise One came to him in a dream as he lay beside the half consumed body of Anothien recovering from his wounds. In the dream the Wise One commended him for his defense of the innocents and permitted him one desire to be granted.

Aadrak was still very naive because of his young age and answered simply that he would have peace between the Cho-whissir and the Alumnir. It is said that the Wise One smiled at his request and touched His nose to Aadrak’s. He then declared that there would be an end to hostilities between the two but that each side must pay a steep price.

The Cho-whissir would be less fruitful and their broods smaller and infrequent, but they would be more powerful and wiser. The Alumnir would be judged by a direct representative of the Wise One Himself should any Alumnir wrongfully seek to harm any of the Cho-whissir. A priest-king of the Alumnir would be raised up to rule over all of Alum except those who kept to the Tower Beneath the Moon. This representative, or Illuminarch, would enforce the treaties as needed, and be chosen personally by the Wise One to insure that the Illuminarch’s heart would be pure and open to instruction and his sword free from guilt.

Finally, the Cho-whissir would be given the gift of the Alumnir’s speech from hatching to protect themselves should their lair be invaded by accident or purposefully. Thus no brood would ever again be completely defenseless. Moreover, all Cho-whissir would be able to speak and understand the language of any Alumnir they encountered. This would have very far reaching consequences Aadrak could not have imagined.

Aadrak was quite pleased with the promise of the Wise One and slept deeply. He was awakened by the sound of two very young Alumnir who had crept into the cave where he lay. He smelled them for quite some time as they waited for him to awake and acknowledge them.

When at last Aadrak did raise his head he saw them carrying a small broodling whose smell had been covered by Anothien’s.

Aadrak nearly attacked, but he remembered his dream. The two children struggled to carry the weary broodling forward for him to see and examine. The Alumnir claimed to have found him in a cave some months ago surrounded by dead siblings. They had pulled the broodling out and taken care of her with the help of their parents for nearly three orbits deep in the caves where they had fled to. Three nights ago, however, the broodling had begun to speak and asked to be led to the surface to find its father or mother.

The Alumnir then left Aadrak with the broodling and disappeared back into the caves. Aadrak rested but a small time more and took the broodling back to Great Spires where the broodling grew. She was known as Adrathien and her daughter, Absinthian, is my mate.

copyright 2006 Frank Wacholtz