This was the first draft of an epilogue for a story that has now changed endings.
The sun had set, and the temperature was dropping dangerously fast.
A man shifted further into his coat; the phoenix down it was lined with emitting the warmth of warm coals from a fresh fire.
The man carefully checked the pouch hanging around his neck once more, a satisfied smile appearing on his lips, though the smile did nothing to soften the iciness of his blue eyes, one of which was forever narrowed in a glare because of two painful scars that ran vertically across it.
The man whistled, and a buckskin stallion trotted over from where it had been grazing. Mounting, the man kicked his horse to a gallop, leaving the rich green hills behind. Blackened terrain engulfed them, the smell of death, ashes, and smoke still overwhelming though centuries had passed since the plains had first caught aflame.
This was the sight of the Unquenched Burning, where the home of the elves, the plains formerly called Evermore, had been utterly decimated by the wrath of a single dragon.
The man smiled cruelly, the memories of that dragon fresh in his mind.
Of course, they weren't originally his memories, but those of a dragon elder by the name of Lor'Tae Jaggedpath. The milky-white dragon had been a chore to find, but the information he had provided before death claimed him was well worth the sacrifice.
It took almost three hours to reach the man's destination, a group of crumbling ruins; the entrance sealed shut by a stone door created by magic eons ago.
Pulling his horse to a stop a few feet before the door, the man dismounted. He undid a saddlebag with hands scarred by battle, to retrieve a small silver harp; though most of the silver was hidden by strips of white cloth. It was a simple harp that could easily be held with one arm while leaving the other free to play, and it looked like it had seen better days.
It was the kind of instrument he expected a harper or bard to carry around, not something created by the elves when they were at the height of their power.
The man shook his head to dispel his misgivings about the harp. If it was the one, then it didn't matter what it looked like as long as it worked. Just as it didn't matter that a runaway servant had been the keeper of the harp.
He left his horse saddled and loose, knowing that the stallion would come if called, and walked to the door. The man slowly lifted the harp and began to play a slow, somber piece the elves wrote called the Elegy of Remembrance.
As he played, the man suppressed a shiver and kept playing as the song's mournful notes covered everything nearby with an essence of pure sorrow. Dark clouds seemed to cover the full moon as note after note the harp sang, memories that couldn't possibly be his flooding the man's vision. But still he played, the scenes of endless agony crying out for him to stop playing, to turn around and leave, never to return. But the man ignored the cries, and finished the elegy.
After the last notes left the harp, the man lifted his head, his eyes cold, calculating. He waited, watching the stone door as the faded runes that covered its surface began to glow, soon becoming so bright that the man had to squint his eyes against the harsh light. Then there was a groan of shifting stone, followed by an implosion. Then there was nothing but the night and dust. Placing the harp in a case, he strapped the case to his back and tied a cloth around his mouth and nose. Then man stepped into the cloud of dust; carefully moving forward over the rubble that was all that remained of the door.
The man slowed as the dust settled, allowing him to see his surrounding. He was in a long corridor that sloped downward, into thick darkness. Using his left hand, the man untied a pouch from his belt, and let it fall open to the ground; releasing a small creature called a Seirios. This seirios looked like a small silver bat with glowing wings. The seirios flew up until it was in front of the man, awaiting his command.
“Vaati, you are to lead me to Cor'zuh by the most direct route, while avoiding any traps the elves set before abandoning this place.” The man ordered. The seirios named Vaati flew in a quick, tight circle before taking off down the corridor with the man following. The man ignored the lingering beauty of the ruins as they went down the corridor, but took note of the various rooms they passed that led to unimaginable secrets left by the elves. After a while, the corridor opened to a large chamber completely covered with mirrors. Vaati paused just inside the chamber, flying in a circle counterclockwise. The man snapped his fingers, and the bat-like seirios grew to the size of a horse. Vaati stopped flying and landed, allowing the man to climb onto it's back. Then it leaped in the air and flew, the reflections of itself proving to be irrelevant in stopping the seirios from finding its way through the chamber. The man closed his eyes as they made their was through the chamber, the mirrors utterly disorienting him. With his eyes closed, the man was able to chart their course after a moment. They were flew in a series of twists and turns, then downwards. Further and further down. Opening his eyes, the man saw that they were no longer in the mirrored chamber. Instead, they were in what he could only guess was a narrow abyss, for both above and below were hidden by darkness, and the walls were just barely two feet away from the seirios wingtips.
Down they flew, for what felt like hours, until finally, the seirios reached a cliff in the abyss. The left the seemingly unending abyss and flew into another corridor that began on the cliff, this one sloping upward.
Then the man had nothing to do but wait as the seirios steadily flew upward, seeming to follow a map with its mind. Then after a while it turned right and flew straight. Another hour passed, and the man could sense that midnight was almost upon them. A left turn, and they were in a cavern.
The seirios flew down and landed on a wide ledge. The man climbed off the seirios and looked around, taking note of the opening in the wall that must be the cave called Cor'zuh. Looking up at the roof of the cavern, the man noticed a small opening that let a faint light in. Satisfied that this was his destination, the man removed the case from his back and and opened it.
Then he settled in to wait.
Time passed by, the light from the opening in the roof slowly growing stronger and stronger. Until finally, it was midnight.
No longer needing the light from the seirios Vaati to see the cave opening, the man gave two short whistles. The seirios shrunk to its original size and flew over to the man and back into the pouch it had emerged from.
The man walked over to the mouth of the cave named Cor'zuh, removing the pouch hanging from his neck. Opening it, he placed the object it held on a flat rock at the mouth of the cave that had strange symbols on it.
Taking a step back into the moonlight, the man lifted the harp out of its case and began to play a song called the Nocturne of Awakening. It began tranquilly, the notes echoing back and forth off the walls of the cavern. Then the music shifted, taking on a more gloomier form. The man continued playing even as the moonbeams began to weave together in the form of a dragon at the mouth of the cave. He played, letting the notes dance together as they echoed back and forth throughout the cave; growing entangled with the moonbeams. On he played, as visions from the past flooded his mind; telling the story of the Chaotic War, of the dragon that brought two races, two enemies, together under the mutual need to survive. The dull black scale he had place at the mouth of the cave began to shine as it joined with the moonbeams and music, bringing back the dragon it had once been a part of. The man finished the song, watching as the Bringer of Chaos, the Dragon of Destruction, awakened.
The metallic black dragon lifted its head, yellow eyes scanning the cavern. Catching sight of the man, the dragon smiled; an action that revealed thin, most likely razor sharp, fangs.
“A psych frees me, using the elves Harp of Harmony.” The dragon spoke, his voice pleased. His thick, whip-like tail wrapped around the man and lifted him up to the dragon's head. From that close, the man could make out four thin scars on the left side of the dragon's snout, and could see just how sharp the horns on his head were, whether it were the two large ones above his eyes, the five fin-like ones on either side of his head, or the small one on his chin.
“So tell me, to whom do I owe thanks for releasing me?” The dragon asked, his breath hot and smelling of decay. The man kept his eyes locked on the dragon's as he answered proudly.
“ I am Sir Magnus of Drake, commander of the North and member of the council of Alistair.” The dragon laughed when Magnus finished speaking, lowering him to the ground but keeping his tail wrapped tightly around the psych.
“The council still rules, eh? Well, I think we should fix that...” With a cold glint in his eyes, the black dragon leaped into the air, unfurling his wings and flying up to the opening in the ceiling. With a roar, he breathed white-hot flames at the opening, widening it until it was large enough for him to fly through. Once outside, the dragon flew north, over the ruins he had been imprisoned within.
The final words of the dragon Lor'Tae echoed in Magnus' mind as he stared at the Plains of Despair from above.
“I warn you now, Sir Magnus, that if you do not turn away from this course now, it will be too late. For you are attempting to release an uncontrollable evil, under the gross assumption that you will be able to control it. Remember my words,Magnus of Drake. If you release the dragon known as Plague from his prison, then you are sentencing all of Terra to the same fate the elves barely escaped.