The Dragons were listless. Ever since their beloved Prince Daedric Dragon was brought back from the Outer World, he had suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Confusion started reigning among his friends. What had happened to Daedric? Where was he? Some had heard some confusing stories. "Daedric is not available". "Daedric is away training in a monastery under the guidance of the Ancients." "Daedric is in the Ethereal Void, preparing his physical and spiritual self." What did all this mean?
As the Dragons gathered together, more confusion reigned. Daedric had been sporadically sighted in town running errands, but his answers to any questions were the same as above, vague, to say the least. Weeks had past, and some started to blame each other for the great Dragon's disappearance. "Tis thy fault", yelled Gargish bitterly to Xena Dragon. "Daedric loved thee, and ye refused him!" "Nay", retorted Xena, "tis not so. We were and are close, true, but our Prince lovest another, I think." Xena wept. "Tis my fault. He asketh me long ago for some scrolls, but I was not able to comply. I feel I may have failed our Prince" retorted Furor Dragon. Octal Dragon angrily spat: "Tis all thy fault, all of thee. While I was away visiting my relatives, ye all agreed to help Daedric with the new guild plans! What were ye thinking of anyhow?". To all this bickering, Edge Dragon sought to bring about some order. "Please, please, my friends, stop! Tis none of our fault. I heard from our Lady Lacy Dragon, the only one who hast since been allowed to see Daedric, that the Ancient Wyrm was displeased at Daedric's poor training in combat skills and magery, and it seems he blameth us, for taking up too much of our friend's time. We selfishly thought only of ourselves, and gave no heed to Daedric's needs."
As the arguing continued, behold! Who should wander into the meeting Hall but the Ancient Wyrm himself, looking for an escaped mongbat for lunch. The Dragons gasped and shivered in fear. The 10,000 year old Dragon was again in their midst, and again, a cold chill swept over them. As they all hurried to pay their respects to the Ancient, his gaze swept over them in disdain. "By hell's fire! Tis the pesky dragonlings again! Foolish mortals", his voice boomed, "Begone with thee, elst I assume ye mayhap have chased away my lunch." Octal Dragon rushed to the front, and bowing low, respectfully asked the Wyrm for news of Daedric. "What do ye want with him?" asked the Wyrm in a careless tone. "He is fine, and wanteth nothing to do with thee. Be off!" "Please, Great Ancient", Edge Dragon tried to sound calm lest the great Dragon become angered, "We would really like to see him. We miss him so very much. He is more than just a dear friend to us." Lacy Dragon, clasping and unclasping her hands in fear, fell to her knees before the mighty Wyrm. "Great Wyrm, if it pleaseth thee, I know that Daedric loves us all very much. I visited him lately in the Ancient's Water world battlegrounds, and I know he thinketh of us constantly." Others insisted also, quickly taking up the queue . "Ah, I have heard of thee", boomed the Wyrm, pointing an accusing finger at her. "Thy influence has been specially harmful to Daedric. Ye will not be allowed to see him again." Lacy wept bitterly. Upon looking at Lacy's sobbing, and the others worried faces, the Wyrm continued. "Foolish dragonlings, ye are a discredit to thy calling. Dost thou think thy eternal quest for blood has escaped the attention of the Ancients? Thy mock wars? Thy craving for killing of thy equals? Dost thou?" The Wyrm's voice shook the ground. "Very well, ye think ye are good enough for Daedric, prove it then." "How can we prove that, Mighty Wyrm?" asked Caramon Majere, all the time shaking in his boots. "Bringeth me Azura's Bear Mask," retorted the Wyrm. "If ye CAN get THAT from the Daedra Goddess, then mayhap I will reconsider", grinned the Wyrm evilly. Caramon Majere turned white. "Good god!", he screamed. "Ye want us to deal with a Daedra Goddess? Tis our death! To say the least!". "Where can we find her?" someone asked. "Find her Priestess, young one. She may be collecting souls in the Warrior's battleground. She is my great great great grandchild. So watch thy step." The Wyrm then let out the most bloodcurling laugh anyone has ever heard. It chilled all to the very bone. It certainly seemed he was deliberately sending all of those present to certain death, and he knew it. But they were determined to show they were better than the Wyrm thought they were, and good enough friends of Daedric's.
Warrior's Battleground? After some deliberation, they figured it must be the Warrior's Arena in Jhelom. So off they went, all of them, not any wanting to be left behind to face the wrath of Azura or even the Wyrm alone. After looking for a time around the Arena in Jhelom, they finally spotted her, the Priestess of the Goddess, Azura's Star. The acolytes of the Priestess promptly barred their passage to her, but upon hearing the group's being sent by the Ancient Wyrm, the priestess dispatched her acolytes with the vases full of souls to the temple. She then inquired what they wanted. Edge Dragon and the others answered: " Milady, we are sent by the Ancient Wyrm himself to inquire of thee how to get for him Azura's Magic Bear mask". The priestess turned to look at them annoyed, and her face showed deep anger. " Ye want WHAT? Blasphemers, thou shalt pay for thy disrespect! But if thou wert sent by my Great Ancestor himself, alright then. Here is the key. Follow me then to thy deaths." As the Priestess recalled out, she dropped the "key", a special rune that lead to somewhere.
Quickly a gate was cast upon the rune and all stepped through. Balancer, a woman that had witnessed all that happened there, followed them in search for adventure. They all found themselves, where else but in a remote place, and in a temple! The temple of the goddess Azura! "Welcome to the temple of Azura, Daedra Prince of Moonshadow in Oblivion, and Goddess of Dawn and Dusk. The Goddess wishes and deals only in one thing, souls. Nothing else is of her interest. Art thou prepared?" asked Azura's Star. Shaking in fear, Gargish Dragon asserted , "Aye, we are!" Others asserted the same. Azura's Star continued: "No one cometh here and leaveth alive. Less even to ask of the Goddess an article of her belonging. So, thy souls are forfeit! Unless thou art prepared to offer her a substitute. " "Aye, a substitute!" they all answered. "Very well then", she said, "each of thee bring a soul of a humanoid to offer the Goddess in place of thine. As guarantee that thou wilt comply, I will keep one of thee with me here, and hold her soul as bond. Go now quickly". Almost at once, they saw as the powerful priestess pulled a screaming Lacy Dragon towards her, and held her in bondage till the group's return.
"If it pleaseth thee, " asked Octal Dragon, "how do we trap souls for Azura?" "Just bring whatever is left of the dead, once the corpse falls." answered the Priestess. "Now be off." All of those present, still shaking with fear, quickly marked runes to the temple area and donned their armor and weapons. It was decided that it would be best to search in the woods between Yew and Britain for Orcs and other humanoid monsters. It did not take the party long to collect the souls of at least 20 of those smelly creatures. When they returned, the Priestess commanded them to stand in line in front of the altar area, and one at a time, offered the Goddess the souls of their dead, as she chanted the rites. Once done, however, none were prepared for what was next. For as they stared in amazement, the Priestess, with eyes turned white as in a trance, spoke in tones of doom: "All is not done yet, foolish mortals. I will not release the souls I have under my power, till thou bringest me one more thing I crave. I want thee to bring me The Blind God's Heavy Crossbow."
Everybody stood petrified. No wonder the Wyrm laughed so disdainfully when he sent them on this suicidial quest. The Magic Heavy Crossbow of the Blind God? What on Sosaria was that? Again, it was Xena Dragon that mustered the strength to ask. The Priestess answered: " I cannot help thee there. I had a tome, that spoke of this ancient and powerful artifact. Alas, it was stolen many years ago by an evil mage called Phyklar the Lost. He was last seen in the City of Honesty, or was it of Spirituality? I don't recall.. But I would like to have it back as well. That is but all I can tell thee."
The party then made plans. They had to move fast if they wanted to wrest the Goddess's control over the two girls. Skara Brae? or Moonglow? So, two groups were formed. One would search in Skara Brae, the other in Moonglow, till they found this mage. The group that went to Moonglow decided to search all magic shops for surely that was where one could expect a mage. Xena bumped into Jet Dragon who without hesitation offered to help searching. But it was all for nothing, Phyklar was not in Moonglow after all. As the others searched and searched, lo! there in the tavern of Skara Brae they found Phyklar the Lost, drunk and singing to the top of his lungs, and otherwise making a complete nuisance of himself, being rude to all, even to the ladies. Quickly everyone was called to come to the tavern. As they tried to ask him for the tome he stole, the drunken mage refused to comply. He professed not to know what they were talking about. How to get him to cooperate? "Mage, tell us, or we will cut out thy soul and give it to the goddess Azura!" Xena threatened. The others followed suit. That did it! The mage turned white, and between his fits of stupor, remembered he had lost the tome in a card game to a woodcutter in Vesper. What woodcutter? "What is his name?" Xena asked. "I don't remember ", sobbed Phyklar. "I do recall he was as strong as a bull." Well then, obviously their answer lies now in Vesper. As the one group communicated with the other to meet it Vesper, they were going to look for a woodcutter "as strong as a bull". Not very much to go on, there must be a hundred woodcutters in that place alone!
As they all searched, asking any woodcutters they met, they spotted one, who was quietly chopping trees. His name struck everyone, Lone Bull. He was, by far, the strongest lumberjack anyone had ever seen. Dozens of trees fell with just a few swings of this woodcutter's mighty axe. No one was faster or stronger than he. As they approached, he eyed them suspiciously while they asked, " If it pleaseth thee good lumberjack, dost thou recall a tome ye won in a card game from a mage some time ago? It speaketh of an ancient artifact from The Blind God." The lumberjack answered suspiciously, " What if I do? What is it to thee?" Xena answered, "If it pleaseth thee, we would like to have it, purchase it from thee. What will ye take in exchange?" Lone Bull raised his mighty axe above his head and said, "Ye want my book? Nay, I read it on lonely nights. Ye cannot have it, by no price. Go away." The frightened lumberjack turned to run, but as Sargon of the Sunset Knights, Octal Dragon, Balancer, and the others tried to surround him, he then added in despair, "Ah, I understand now! Thou wert sent by the mage to kill me and get back his book, aye?" Almost at once, the terrified woodcutter ran way screaming for the guards. The group followed him, trying to dissuade the poor man's fears. It was Lady Samantha, with her beautious form and kind ways that finally managed to get close to him. "Come now good man, we can reward thee handsomely for it. Fear us not. We are not hear to kill anyone," she said sweetly. "What can we offer thee in exchange of the book?" "Milady", said the lumberjack, bowing low to the lovely Samantha. "Look at me. I have naught! Look at my axe! It is old and corroded. I have nothing, being too poor to purchase even my basic needs." How about a very good axe? Better than the one ye have now." So off they went. They purchased the lumberjack new axes, some clothes, even Lady Lilliana Rune of the Serpent's Cross tavern gave him some gold, and pleaded with him to accept her gift. His eyes lighted up for joy as he looked at his new treasures, and released to them an ancient tome. The pages were falling off, twas rotten and decayed. Carefully turning each page Xena read the book out loud for everyone to hear:
Ancient Artifacts Tome 1
People who were passing by stopped and listened in awe. A passer by called Caelin II was very interested in the book and scribed the words in an empty book as they were spoken. When Xena closed the book everybody was wondering, where would they go to find the Blind God? He "protects the fortified grounds", belonging to a sovereign. After some deliberation, they decided to try Lord British's Castle, and see if they could find any clues there. As they were getting closer to the castle, they met with Daedric Dragon's daughter, Nymph Dragon. "Hail friends! What art thou doing here?" said Nymph, "We are looking for the Blind God" said Xena. Nymph became curious. "Really, why?" asked Nymph Dragon. "Well, we need to obtain from him his Magic Heavy Crossbow, for the Priestess of Azura." Nymph gasped, " Thou met my cousin??!! And thou'rt still alive??!! By Julianos! Thou'rt truly lucky and brave! Ah well, I just came from speaking with the Blind God. Being one of the Ancients, he sometimes giveth me news of my father, who is in the Etheral Void at the moment. Come, I will take thee." A short walk took them to a statue in one of Lord British's gardens. They stood in the presence of the statue. Nymph, assuming a penitent stance, then cleared her throat, and in a sullen voice, she chanted the mantra 3 times. Like magic, the most magnificent heavy crossbow appeared at the statue's feet! Everyone stared in awe at the powerful aura of magic the crossbow emitted as it lay on the ground. Very carefully, Xena picked it up and placed it in a backpack. Now they were ready to go and claim their prizes.
As they recalled back to Azura's temple, the Priestess was waiting. Very respectfully they returned to her the tome, and the Magic Heavy Crossbow she wanted. Seeing that both the tome and the bow were returned Azura's Star threw the Magic Bear Mask on the floor. Xena could not resist the temptation and picked up the mask and put it on. A strange sensation overcame her, but she could not determine the effect the mask had on her. "What about Lacy ? We want her back." said Xena to Azura's Star. The priestess then issued a small chant, and with sparks flying, she released her hold on the soul of Lacy Dragon. "Not for long though," she cackled. "Thou wilt be mine soon enough. Enjoy thy life while ye hast it."
When they returned to The Wyrm, the mighty Ancient was visibly impressed. He did not expect that the Dragons would be able to retrieve his precious Magical Bear Mask. Unfortunately he did not take into account the many friends that were willing to help in this quest. Not only did the Sunset Knights do an excellent job, also along the way Balancer, Jet Dragon, Caelin II and Lilliana Rune offered their help. Xena handed the bear mask to the Wyrm and asked if the Wyrm would now be willing to help them find Daedric. The Wyrm responded "Well well, ye are better than I thought ye were. Good. I am pleased to see my young protégé Daedric has such good friends after all. Very well, go to the Hall of Virtues and await him there. I will send word for him to be sent there." And so they left.
The joy was boundless among all as, after a short wait in the Hall of Virtues, the Dragon Prince appeared! The men howled for joy, the women wept with happiness. Daedric had returned! Ten times more powerful due to his training with the Ancients, ten times wiser as well! However, terrible danger was about to fall on the land. "My friends," said the Dragon Prince, " I see thou hast had dealings with a Daedra Goddess. Ye were lucky, she is a cruel one, but not unduly so. However, there is one Daedra that hateth all Britannians. He is known as The Guardian. Beware of him if he ever shouldst visit this land. However, my return obeys another matter of import. Someone is in grave distress, and hath called on The Ancients for aid. I was sent by them to help. Wilt thou help me, my friends, in this mission ?" "Aye!. We all will indeed!" they exclaimed eagerly. But Daedric knew this new task would tax their very mettle to the limit.