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Eorgina
Eor ail'Giina or more commonly, Eorgina [E-or-GEE-na]

Nagothrym

Within the great cavern of Nagothrym, there was born a grey drake. She was quick and cunning, and she fought off her rival fledglings with savage strength. As she emerged from the underground murk into sunlight, she spread her red-tinged wings and flew. And she knew she was beautiful as well as strong.

She grew quickly, and the older drakes inhabiting the mountains watched and approved. She was very fast, delighting in acrobatic feats that were considered reckless by some of her brethren. There was one that nurtured a special interest in the elegant grey youth. He was a huge, old drake, black in color and wise. He was also known to have a fearless and brutal nature, and he took pleasure in domination of the lesser races.

It was not too long before the youthful grey drake became close with the older black, spending time with him and learning of the world. She flew the countryside with him and quickly matched his agility and speed in flight. In time, she revealed a nature fierce enough to equal his brutality. Together, they gloried in the essence of strength and dominion. The old black had waited so long to mate that it seemed he never would, but it now became a common assumption that he had finally found a female that suited him. And the grey was known to encourage that belief.

On one beautiful summer morning, as the grey drake soared over the craggy mountainsides, the sunlight was especially bright. It glanced off pockets of ice dotting the cliffs like reflections in a diamond. She was bemused with the pristine allure of it, intoxicated with the heady momentum of the wind currents on which she was borne. She circled and dived, rushing faster and faster through the crystalline light. She closed her eyes and circled through a fringe of cloud, reemerging into the light with a sensation akin to being born. The grey threw her head back on her elegant, long neck, watching as the sun's reflection played across the glistening, translucent scales covering her back.

Arched like a floating swan, with her head thrown back and her wings lifted, she never saw the sharp outthrust of granite that suddenly loomed out of a cloud. She had misjudged her distance from the rugged cliffs. The impact caused a horrible thud, which echoed across the mountainside like the blow of some great hammer. Hearing the sound, the black drake screamed and launched into flight, arriving at the place just moments after the body fell into a circle of pines below the rock spire. She lay grievously injured, her wings torn and her sublime body broken and bloody. However, as she died, she gave the black a savage, victorious look, her expression as intense as had been her brief life.

As light died in the grey's ruby eyes, the black drake keened. The sound of his sorrow and fury circled the glade, growing stronger and more vehement by the moment. It gained in amplitude until it was deafening, and other drakes on the mountains quailed in the face of its rage. Suddenly, a fork of lightning sundered the peaks, striking the granite outcrop with a tremendous boom of accompanying thunder. The rock exploded into shards and pelted the glade in a hellish rain of stone. Finally, the downpour stopped and following on the coattails of such bedlam, the silence was almost palpable. As dust settled across his back, the black drake crouched, his breath rasping in belabored huffs. He was bleeding from numerous wounds inflicted by the hail of stone. As confusion, fury and black sorrow filled his thoughts, he saw something stir amid the debris and cloud of dust. A form crept from beneath one of the grey drake's limp, ragged wings and rose to its feet. He beheld a newborn Arkati, issue of the horror of one drake's death and the fury of another's anguish. She was tall, slim, and very beautiful. In the depths of her large, grey eyes, the black drake saw ruby flecks that reminded him of the luminous eyes of the drake he had cherished.

The black drake lowered his huge snout, drawing his muzzle close to her face. She did not flinch. Outraged that she should be alive while his chosen lay dead, he was inclined to end her life with a quick snap of his great teeth while she was still newborn and vulnerable. On the other hand, he saw the same fiery passion in her expression that he had seen within that of the grey drake, and he could not stand to see it die again. She gazed back, unafraid and curious.

He was called Beh'Amant, he told her. Before returning to the caves to mourn, he bathed her in steam from his nostrils. It settled upon her form and resolved into a grey velvet gown with ruby edging. Then, he gave her the name by which he had known his chosen, Eor ail'Giina, a name that celebrated the exultation of flight and strength. This she later shortened to Eorgina. As the black drake departed on his wide, dark wings, she watched him until he was only a speck on the horizon. It would be many ages before she saw him again.

Early Years

It is written that Arkati are born fully formed, although as they mature, their features change to reflect their mental development. Ancient texts also state that they are all born fair of feature and beautiful of body, no matter what form they ultimately assume.

Eorgina was a tall, slim woman with long, dark hair. Her features never lost the loveliness she possessed at birth. However, as she grew and came into her full maturity, they assumed a luminous quality, as if one always viewed her by the light of the moon. She shimmered as she passed, a quality that was magnified as, over time, she collected the bejeweled chains, pendants and rings that delighted her. The gems had a mesmerizing effect on her, a trait common among the drakes.

For many years, Eorgina dwelt in the vast chambers inhabited by the drakes. She spent time with one, then another, never aligning with any particular individual. The huge creatures welcomed her for her quick wit, and they called her the 'Diamond' for her sharp intellect, as well as for her preference for that gem. And at heart, she was as hard and resolute as a diamond, and she knew no fear.

A few hundred years passed quickly for her. Content among the drakes, she wanted for nothing. And there, she eventually met a powerful, handsome Arkati called Koar. She was still considered young then, while he was already much older. However, her beauty was remarkable, dazzling even, and it took little time for him to become intrigued by her. Her unusual ruby-flecked eyes sparkled with intelligence, and spending time in her company was more often than not an adventure. She shocked him sometimes with her draconian proclivities, but he grew to greatly admire her courageous, undaunted spirit.

Days passed into months and years, and Koar and Eorgina, if not constant companions, were nevertheless together enough to be considered 'close.' Other Arkati sometimes spent time with them. Fash 'lo nae in particular was frequently numbered in their company. The three of them, all with their surpassing intellects, were known to have lively debates that sometimes lasted days.

As she came to spend more and more time in the company of her fellows, Eorgina finally decided to have a dwelling built. Finding the most skilled elven craftsmen and artists of that age, she brought them to the heights of Nagothrym. The group numbered two hundred and nine, and included architects, weavers, sculptors and those who knew the secrets of the finest wood. Painters were among them, as well as smiths. Through a combination of their considerable talents and Arkati magic, the house called Li'aerion was built. It perched on a steep promontory, with graceful arching eves and flying buttresses that looked like the bony ridges in a drake's wing. The structure was large and spacious, and it had huge open windows that looked out over the mountains, admitting the sometimes-fierce winds that rushed around the peaks. From the tall ceilings hung long curtains of grey velvet. They covered many of the walls and as the gusts of wind caught their vast expanses, they billowed in a graceful dance.

In the center of an expansive balcony on the east side of the house, there stood a pedestal made of grey marble veined with red. It was circular, and in its center was a cone-shaped depression with a circumference large enough to hold a wagon-wheel. In that cradle rested an immense diamond. It was positioned precisely so it would catch the first rays of the sun as it lifted over the eastern horizon, sending out reflections of colored light that sparkled throughout the manse. Legends say the tints playing over the grey velvet curtains called Eorgina from her rest each morning, and she chose the color of gems she wore that day based on the most vibrant tones. It is also said that any mortal seeing the burst of light as sunlight struck the colossal gem would be blinded for life. And so it was that Eorgina sent the elven craftsmen and artists back to their homes, sightless and unable to create anything again that might equal Li'aerion.

As the Arkati came into being, a few possessed great power. However, most were lesser beings, gifted in some special, spectacular way, but lacking the strength and overall capacity that grew in a few individuals with each passing year. Some even lacked the essential quality of immortality, though they were exceedingly long-lived. Eorgina, studying this and measuring the growth of her own power against others, was pleased to discover that she was not only powerful, but exceptionally so. She found new arrivals as they were born and played the role of kindly benefactress, entertaining congregations of the beautiful ones in the splendor of her graceful Li'aerion.

As time passed, the attitude fostered among these gatherings began to be subtley steered by Eorgina, with collaboration by Fash'lo'nae and a few others, toward a decided perspective. It was one that fostered a belief that all lesser races were destined to be nothing more than slaves to the needs of the Arkati and ultimately, the Drakes. Drakes already had little, if any, concern for the frail, mortal beings that inhabited the lands beneath the great mountains of Nagothrym. Eorgina advocated that the Arkati should strive to emulate the greatest creatures extant in Elanthia. Only in this way could they hope to fulfill the promise of grandeur and power that was both their gift and their destiny.

Many of the Arkati fell into step with her beliefs, swayed by her promises of significance and captivated by the persuasive quality of her beauty and wit. As Eorgina came into the full flowering of her immense power, she was the epitome of a Queen -- beautiful, accomplished, clothed in wealth beyond measure and as insightful a politician as was ever born. Her fans and followers adored her. And her stature was magnified by the presence of Koar at her side during many of her receptions. Only to him was Eorgina ever known to acquiesce.

There was, however, another faction of Arkati who were less than persuaded by Eorgina's influence. Among the group were some who held substantial power. Eonak and his young consort, Imaera, were principal among them, as was the somber Jastev. Eorgina was well aware of the group and their opinions of her, however she never failed to extend all the courtesy of a close friend whenever she encountered them. For Eorgina knew that Koar respected them and shared with them a bond of friendship that he valued.

On the day that Eorgina was drawn to the edge of her balcony by an unprecedented trumpeting of the drakes, she dismissed it as some mating-related ritual among the leviathans. Certainly, the flight of parrots rising over Larydur was a pretty sight, lifting in a thick red cloud into the sunlight. She was pleased she had witnessed the spectacle. When she later learned the events had heralded an Arkati birth, she resolved to find the new arrival and, if worthy, adopt the newborn into her care. However, Lumnis, as the name was told to her, had slipped away on unknown business, and other pursuits took Eorgina's mind from the matter.

In the following years, Eorgina had little cause to think of Lumnis, other than to learn that the Arkati was indeed talented, but hampered by a pitiful indulgence for the mortal beings of the land. After a few solicitations to Lumnis proved ineffective, she decided the woman, though comely, was of little interest. Eorgina regretted the woman's lack of insight, for she had planned to offer Lumnis the honor of being her handmaiden. Lumnis was, for a fact, lovely and would have made a satisfactory ornament to Eorgina's retinue. Besides, Koar had mentioned her a few times in a complimentary sort of way.

Fash'lo'nae brought Eorgina the news that Koar and Lumnis were to be wed. She did not rant or tear apart the walls of Li'aerion as she felt inclined to do. In fact, she said not a word. She only nodded, then indicated with a graceful wave of her hand that Fash'lo'nae was to leave her. As he did so, her servants ushered the Arkati guests residing in Li'aerion out and closed the great doors. Then all the Elven servants within the manse were thrown over the parapet of the eastern balcony, until at last Eorgina was alone. And alone she stayed for years.

Not even Fash'lo'nae could gain entrance, though he pounded on the doors of Lir'aerion at regular intervals. Eventually, vines and large rhododendrons overgrew the terraced walks leading to the house, and ivy obscured the once-polished doors.

When the drakes determined that the Arkati had to be sent to the moons of Lornon and Liabo, an emissary was sent to summon Eorgina from her prolonged confinement. As the sun set one evening, wide, dark wings carried a massive form to Eorgina's once-celebrated balcony, and on its flagstones, alighted. As she emerged from the interior of the dwelling, summoned by the sound of the wings, she beheld a black drake. It was Beh'Amant, who had filled her first view of the world. She realized he had finally emerged from the solitude of sorrow, and was summoning her to do the same.

The black drake told her of the decision to send the Arkati away. It was not a happy meeting, although she felt great love for him and a measure of joy to see him again. However, the idea of leaving Li'aerion was repugnant. She protested, but in the end Beh'Amant persuaded her that she had no choice. She must go. And so, she consented. Climbing to his back, she clung to his immense scales as he soared through the sunset and winged his way to a congregation of Arkati and great Drakes.

As Eorgina alighted from the back of Beh'Amant, she was met by a delegation of Arkati. Koar led the group. Eorgina allowed him to clasp her hands, and for an instant, felt joy to see him awaken within her. However, seeing Lumnis as his side, she dropped his handclasp and backed a step away. He had come to entreat her to go with those leaving for Liabo, to accompany Lumnis so that he could be sure that the two women he most cared for would be safe and have kindly company.

Eorgina glanced to either side. On one hand she saw those bound for Liabo, and on the other those going to Lornon, known to be a much more intemperate and unforgiving place. With a small, hard smile at Lumnis, she turned and walked to the Lornon group, taking a place between Fash'lo'nae and a young Arkati she had known only briefly, named Luukos.

Koar nodded cooly, and ushered Lumnis to the Liabo group. As the Arkati departed, Eorgina stared toward the rugged moon with anticipation. She would make good use of the time there. She glanced back only once, and it was to Beh'Amant that her eyes traveled. She watched him grow smaller with distance, his huge, faceted eyes locked on hers. She felt his strength and his inconceivable store of knowledge, a sea so vast it was staggering, a river that she had not had the chance to tap.

Lornon

The Arkati delegation on Lornon set about finding natural caverns in which to live, since the severe storms that sent winds raging across the moon's surface were grievous even to those of great power. Eorgina was content to abide by her long-time friend
Fash 'lo 'nae, and agreed to the company of Luukos as well. However, he left them after only a few years, bereaved by the loss of the Drakes' company and embittered by what he considered a betrayal by them.

Others occasionally spent time with the two scholars, but by far, the majority of the ensuing ages was spent in expanding their understanding of power and improving their control of it. While Fash'lo'nae was, for the most part, intrigued with the idea of understanding and defining the arcane energy, Eorgina lived to harness and master it, and finally, to assume it as though it was nothing more than one of the velvet cloaks she wore about her lovely shoulders. Fash'lo'nae warned her to be cautious, but Eorgina had never known the concept of the word any more than had her namesake.

When the Ur-Daemon wars commenced and the potency of the foes was realized, the Lornon Arkati were benumbed. The idea that something could threaten the power of their patron leviathans was a sober realization, as well as a worrisome one. If the Drakes were not able to halt the Ur-Daemon aggression, there was little hope for the Arkati. Some of the Lornon inhabitants wanted to attempt to return and aid the Drakes in their stand against the peril. Others protested the idea, saying the Drakes would only be encumbered or distracted by what little the Arkati could offer against the Ur-Daemon might. In the end, a few Arkati returned and died, while the rest could only watch as Drakes battled, were wounded, killed and driven mad.

Finally, the Ur-Daemon threat was stopped, but at great cost. The life the Arkati had previously known was gone forever. The slopes of Nagothrym were littered with bones and bodies of those who had previously dwelt as masters of the peaks. Within the birthing caverns, the sands were now cold and littered with the shards of eggs. Summoned back by a dying Drake, the Lornon and Liabo Arkati were dismayed at the devastation.

Eorgina left the cavern and traveled toward Li'aerion, dreading what she might find. Walking down the broad walk that lead up to the front doors, she was forced to step carefully through thick vines obscuring the beautiful stone paving. Pieces of rocks and other vegetation littered the jumble of vines. Arriving at the doors, she was relieved to find they still stood unbroken, although there were the telltale scars of wildfire marring their once-lovely, carved surfaces.

Drawing a key from a long, gold chain in her cloak, Eorgina inserted it into the massive lock and turned. At first, she felt resistance but the expert elven craftsmanship of the lock prevailed. The tumblers clicked, and with a shriek of protest from the hinges, the great doors swung open.

Debris lay across the manse's floors, while remnants of the velvet curtains fluttered listlessly in the breezes blowing in. Years' worth of dead leaves lay piled into decaying banks in corners, and moss coated the northern-facing walls. Eorgina walked through the halls, her footsteps echoing hollowly in the derelict corridors. As she reached the eastern balcony, she found the colossal diamond still resting on its carved pedestal, though its depths were inky black and cleft by a deep crack. And instead of reflecting light as it once had, it now gave off a strange, shifting luminosity that flickered in the early-evening twilight. Eorgina was pleased with her discovery. To her great amusement and delight, things were not as bad as they had seemed.

In the months to come, the two factions of the Arkati came to a tenuous agreement as to the dispensation of labor needed to rebuild and repair Nagothrym. Additionally, some of the Arkati took responsibility to bring help to those of the lesser races most severely affected by the holocaust of the Ur-Daemon conflict. However, the numbers of Liabo individuals willing to deal with the other races markedly outnumbered those of the Lornon group. Eorgina was among those who advocated giving aid.

Lumnis was pleased with Eorgina's unexpected willingness to help, as well as her apparent change of behavior. Eorgina had been cordial, if not downright warm toward Koar's wife. Thus, when Eorgina asked specifically to work with the Elven populations, Lumnis was inclined to support her petition at once. Not only would this serve to reinforce and encourage Eorgina's modified viewpoint, more importantly, Lumnis was well aware that with Eorgina's remarkable powers, she had a great deal to offer the beleaguered populations.

Eorgina lost no time in locating the remnants of the gifted Elven artisans. These were offered aid in the form of shelter and sustenance, which many readily accepted. Thus, Eorgina transported a great number of the families of these artisans to Li'aerion. Once there, the Elves were told that it would be necessary for them to complete needed renovations to the manse in exchange for Eorgina's hospitality. This was no small task, and additionally, the spouses and children of the artisans would be required to work as servants and general laborers. And most notably, they were not to be allowed to freely come and go - for their own protection, explained Eorgina.

Having knowledge of the mutilation of the original builders of Li'aerion, some of the Elves refused Eorgina's proposition, demanding to be returned to their home despite the harsh conditions to be found there. In response, Eorgina chose ten Elves, all spouses and children of the dissenting group, and cast them off the eastern balcony to their death. When Eorgina assured them she was more than happy to select ten more if necessary, the Elves quickly reversed their stance and submitted to the forced labor. Afterward, any action that Eorgina considered contrite or subversive among Li'aerion's Elven work force was quickly dealt with in like fashion. If the number of workers fell below what was necessary to move the construction forward with the least delay, Eorgina simply conscripted new artisans from the extant population trying to survive both famine and deprivation in the lands below Nagothrym.

It was almost two years before rumors of Eorgina's activities among the Elves leaked out to the other Arkati. Certainly, a few of the Lornon faction had known; however, when Lumnis learned of the situation, she went to Eorgina and demanded an explanation. Eorgina's reponse to Lumnis was, essentially, a blunt statement to mind her own business.

Lumnis was furious. She knew, however, that she could not counter Eorgina's power within the towering walls of Li'aerion. Along with renovations, Eorgina's Elven minions had fortified the ramparts. Additionally, there was now some sort of magical power defending the manse. For Eorgina had not been idle -- she had already learned much from the great black diamond occupying the eastern balcony.

The only recourse was for Lumnis to go to Koar, and this she lost no time in doing. However, she would get no support from him. Koar had less interest in the lesser races, and certainly less compassion for them than did his spouse. His attention was much more concentrated on finding, and trying to save, what few Drakes remained alive. And while he regretted the fact that Eorgina had infuriated his wife, he told Lumnis that it was more important to maintain the tenuous balance between the Lornon and Liabo Arkati, than to risk forcing Eorgina into a standoff over a relatively small group of Elven artisans. For it was a sure thing that if she was provoked, there were other, powerful Lornon Arkati who would rise to back her in a confrontation.

Koar was regretful, yes, but deciding the risk of taking a stand between Lumnis and Eorgina was too great, he declined to 'officially notice' the situation. It took much counsel, but finally Lumnis was persuaded to see the diplomatic conundrum of rescuing the artisans, and she regretfully surrendered the cause.

Forever after, Eorgina and Lumnis waged a quiet, though ruthless cold war one against the other.

As the centuries went by, descendants of the captive Elven contingent continued -- under harsh duress by Eorgina -- to expand the hillside compound. Eventually, the dwelling had not only grown to the size of a small town, but also included a vast complex of tunnels beneath, a labyrinth within the mountain on which the manse perched. Here, the Elves lived out the whole of their lives, a span of time notably shorter than normal for that race. Once an Elf was too old or infirm to contribute to the building or service within the house, they disappeared. The population was told that these individuals were returned to their original homes; however, many suspected that they were simply dealt with in the most convenient manner. In time, memory of a life of freedom grew dim, though tales of the beautiful country of their birth were passed orally from generation to generation, in secrecy, so that Eorgina would not discover evidence of the custom.

Meanwhile, among the Elven populations, legends of the captured ones were told and retold, becoming an agelessly popular subject of songs and tales. Eorgina's Elven slaves eventually became known as the "Li'aerion Artisans", and Li'aerion itself was reputed to be the most beautiful construction ever built.

Eorgina prospered after her return to Elanthia, growing in power as she expanded both her residence and her collection of gems. It was said that deep within the mountain, she kept a chamber full of gems possessing magical properties, and this collection was so vast, Eorgina herself did not know their number. And within the manse, valuables from all the greatest Elven cities adorned the rooms. She seemed to grow more beautiful by the year, and her power was eventually measureless. For a brief time, it was thought among the other Arkati that she might ally herself with Luukos, a raven-haired Arkati who was still considered beautiful of feature despite his snake-like characteristics. However, the alliance faded away after Eorgina suffered a distressing event.

Eorgina and Luukos had gone to a stretch of mountains in the far-southern reaches of the DragonSpines, there to search for evidence of minor gem caches forgotten and lost after the Ur-daemon conflict. They made a few satisfying finds, probably once possessed by either a large species of dragon-like lizard that had become extinct after the wars, or perhaps Ur-daemons themselves. They impressed a local town of humans to load the treasure onto mules and cart it out of the peaks while the Arkati continued their search.

Exploring on her own, Eorgina discovered a tunnel that had been blocked by a sizable fall of rocks. As she forced open the entrance by moving a boulder the size of a barn, a whoosh of stale, dead air rushed past her. It kindled within her a feeling of fel apprehension, not an emotion she usually experienced. Something within was dreadfully amiss. She continued on, moving past the threshold into a vast chamber, and ignoring qualms of alarm beating at the edges of her mind like frantic birds.

Piles of treasure began in small heaps that quickly gained in size and richness. Ingots of gold, silver, mithril and vaalin were piled here and there, while strands of pearls lay everywhere in shades of black, green, pink and glimmering white. At one turn, rubies and sapphires the size of hen eggs created a hillock as tall as a building, and chests of peerless weapons and armor were piled in even larger mounds. As Eorgina walked through the unbelievable trove, her footsteps echoing in the silence, she grew cold and grave. She knew what this was. Only the mightiest of the Drakes could possess such a horde, and she feared what she might yet find.

As she reached the far wall of the cavern, she saw there was another chamber past that. Inside, great stalactites and stalagmites gave the place the look of a leviathan's open mouth. Curled up within was the body of a Drake.

The creature had not deteriorated, perhaps due to the cavern being sealed. However, the Drake's skin, where visible between the huge scales, had taken on the patina of marble. Vicious wounds across the its back and side showed the cause of his demise, doubtlessly wounds incurred fighting the Ur-daemon menace. One of the immense eyes was still open a slit, revealing the luminous golden color that it had possessed while alive. As Eorgina walked toward the body, she felt sorrow fill her chest and throat. Reaching the Drake's scaled snout, she reached out her hand and stroked it, dismayed at its bitter chill. She had found Beh'Amant.

Eorgina left the cavern and sealed it behind her with so much power, it could never be opened again without considerable force. She spoke briefly with Luukos, asking him to relay the news of the Drake to the congress of Arkati, and explaining that she needed time to recover from the shock of her discovery. Thereafter returned to her home, where she remained for a time in solitude.

Eorgina was never to get close to another Arkati after finding the body of Beh'Amant. She retained a friendship with both Fash'lo'nae and Luukos although they were never as intimate as they had been. It is said that she will never marry until she discovers the secret of reanimating the black Drake she yet loves.

 

 




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