Dragon Quest IV

The Orcish Emancipation

(The Return of Daedric Dragon)

"Rodgha objekflu fupdagh!" cried out Prince Daedric Dragon, much to the amazement of the healers in Jhelom. "Aawaagh! Jjadrugug gurtloghag. Ouch!". The healers were, by now, becoming terrified. What on earth was going on? What strange sight was this? A human that could speak that hated language, orcish, well and fluently? Especially a human like the one before them, none other than the great Dragon Prince and Ancient! It was well known and documented that Daedric had the blood of Dragon Ancients flowing through his veins, and hence, was known to revert once in a while to his true form afflicted by wyrmbane. But not this! Daedric had fallen to the floor and was cringing in pain, all the while yelling unintelligible things in orcish, writhing and squirming back and forth as a white broth spewed from his mouth. It was obvious he was trying to fight back the malady, or whatever it was, but why? How was this possible? Was it a curse? Some kind of "blood poisoning"? And more importantly, why him?

Very gently the healers raised him from the floor and placed him on a bed. They removed his armor and gently wiped his sweating brow with a soft cloth dipped in rose essence, and also washed his body. They bled him over and over. The Prince seemed to grow quiet for a while, muttering and groaning. But it seemed that anything they did was to no avail. Daedric only grew worse as time elapsed. Even the healer guildmaster, was deeply worried. It seemed they did not know the remedy for this malady, and nothing they did helped. What to do?

Meanwhile, on another plane, the gods and Ancients were angered. Daedric Dragon was returned on purpose to Sosaria to restore the balance of the world, and to right an old wrong done in the past. But due to an unexpected eclipse of the moons, the phases of the gate that returned him went awry, and Daedric's mortal self was placed in grave danger among a marauding band of orcs. His old enemies wasted no time in torturing him, and the orc mage placed a curse on him that would be so difficult to break no one would humanly be able to. A plea was sent to Daedric's friends, the Dragons, but none answered or even bothered to investigate. A spirit of indifference and uncaring had set in during the long years the Prince had been absent. Selfishness had set in, causing even his Dragon friends to abandon him in this hour of need. It was even rumored some had turned to the black arts and sorcery. But it also seemed that most did not believe that he had really returned to Sosaria. He had been gone for about 5 years already.

It was his Lady friend of old times, Lady Samantha of the Sunset Knights, that heard of the problem in Jhelom and, very much alarmed, quickly transported herself there. But alas! , By the time she arrived, Daedric was much worse. He no longer recognized anyone, not even his beautiful friend. After some deliberation with the healers, Samantha took over the task of nursing her dear friend, soothing him and with her ever-gentle ways and powerful magery, trying to keep him quiet and help him rest. But even that was not enough. The Ancient would awake from his stupor, and fly into one of his orcish rages: " Aawagh! Tk. Kdder. Nughigga!". He would then jump outside and run, eyes bloodshot, seeking to attack someone! Poor Samantha would run after him in distress and quiet him down again, and gently but firmly bring him back to his bed. It was on one of these episodes that the guildmistress of the S.K. decided to seek help, as she feared the situation getting out of hand. So she decided to summon the Knights of her order.

One by one, the friends came. Powerful knights and heroes showed up, legends of ancient battles and quests, such as Don Thomas, Ar-Kane, Wildboy, Xena Dragon, Xeep Dragon, Octal Dragon, Naomn, Iron Skull, Billbo, Agronan, Kevlar and Undomiel. All paid their respects to their sweet friend and proceeded to remark on their happiness at seeing the great Dragon back in the world, but not in these circumstances! What was happening? Was it a curse? A new ailment sent by the gods to punish Sosaria? Why was the Prince in such suffering? And above all, how would they go about finding the cure? "Has he said anything intelligible?" some of them asked. "Nay," wept Samantha, "nothing at all. Just orcish." Xeep Dragon comented that maybe finding a book in Orcish might help. After much deliberation, it was decided to look for aid. Maybe the most powerful mages of the land would have a clue. Or some ancient tome might be found that might shed light on the engrossing problem. At any rate, something had to be done, and nothing would be accomplished in Jhelom. They would have to look elsewhere.

Someone suggested that they try Lord British's library, or even his Seers. Others suggested the City of Honesty, center of magicka in Sosaria, which is Moonglow. So off they went then, not without first casting a protective wall of powerful magic around Daedric, to keep him safely at rest under the watchful eye of the healers while they were gone. "Ehm ehm ehm ehm ehm ehm" muttered the ill Prince, while tossing in his sleep.

Atlantic Mage Tower Nothing turned up in Lord British's headquarters that would help the Dragon Ancient. Nothing turned up either at the Mage Tower in Moonglow, seat of the most powerful mages in the land. As they started to lose hope, someone in desperation, suggested they try the Lycaeum, where all the great and most ancient tomes on just about every subject were carefully preserved. Samantha thought this a good idea, and went there quickly with the group. They searched and searched each of the library rooms, but just when they were about to give up hope, she noticed a very old book, its pages deeply yellowed with time, and the print nearly faded. The words immediately caught her attention, but also, made her lovely features pale. Mustering all the strength she could to find her voice, she could barely scream to call the rest towards her.

"Oh no, oh please the gods, no!" she cried. "My friends, this is terrible! Listen to this I found in this ancient book!" She went on then to read: "It is written in the scrolls of Julianos the prophet, that in the days of Lord British the orcs wouldst experience a new thirst for knowledge and power. Saith power deriveth from an ancient and godlike artifact known as the eye of the Oracle. It is also written that for saith power to become absolute, an Ancient one must be sacrificed. Then all Sosaria will be plunged into darkness, and the orcs would riseth to power and rule with the evil gods for a thousand years."

Everyone stood petrified when they heard these words. The tenseness in the air was so thick, one could slice it with a knife! What horrors did this prophecy contain? What did it mean? The orcs...a rise to power over Sosaria? Good god, please no! It was obvious now, that it had something to do with Daedric, he being the stricken "ancient one". But why him? Why were these words happening now? "Sacrificed"? Obviously, Daedric had escaped that somehow, unless... could it be... No one dared say it. The thought of it was too much to bear!

So now what to do? How to avoid or curb the outcome of this prophecy? Something obviously was going to happen, and they had to stop it. But how? Where to turn? And what was this about the eye of the Oracle? No one had ever heard of the Oracle, let alone seen it! In the mind of many, already, the idea that Sosaria was somehow cursed as well, now loomed. Once again, it was Samantha that suggested they try to look for information on the Oracle. Where or what was it? Sadly, the Lycaeum contained no clues as to what it was. So they decided to go into the major towns and conduct a thorough search for information. Something had to turn up. Others suggested they pray to the gods at the temples and shrines, asking for aid. That too, seemed a good idea in this dark hour.

"Alms! For sweet life's sake, I beg an alms!" cried the leper. Arkay the leper, pushed his way as unnoticeably as possible through the crowds in Moonglow, begging. Lepers were uncommon in Sosaria, but every now and then, one would show up, cursed with the dreaded disease, which caused one's skin to rot. A white fungus would spread over the area that was particularly afflicted, causing severe deformity and making the stricken individual particularly loathsome to many. It was also thought the disease to be contagious, causing the afflicted one to be even more rejected by the healthy. "Please help me! Are there no charitable souls left in Sosaria? We see our faces, but not our hearts." Few bothered to even look at the horrible apparition. It was the gruesome apparition that made many skins shrink and crawl underneath their armor or clothes. The vast majority failed to realize that underneath the foul and bent form of the poor leper, lay a human being like themselves, albeit buffeted and scorned by the world at large, and to whom life's wounds and hardships were constant. But even more, what no one could possibly know was that, underneath this horrible form, lay the power and true form of the god Arkay, God of birth and death. And his surprise visit to Sosaria was no coincidence, nor was it a welcome accident.

While the friends wandered around and looked for help to anyone they felt could have a clue, no one, of course, thought of looking in the direction of the leper. Most scorned beggars anyway, and even more so, lepers. Some of the friends saw the leper, but in their desperate need, at first, took no notice. "Alms! I beseech thee! Alms!" cried the leper, as he moved from place to place. Someone had pushed him aside. So he moved elsewhere, all the time keeping an eye open for any healers, to ask for Daedric. This was one of the god's main purposes, to find the stricken Ancient and remove him from Sosaria, before fulfilling his ultimate task. As he was about to take the teleport in Moonglow to another area, Octal Dragon noticed the hapless leper and felt pity for him, and rode over to him to press some gold into his withered hands. Nothing, however, could prepare her for what was next.

"Thank thee. May the light of the gods illuminate thy path in like manner." said the leper, bowing. Octal thought this unique, and decided to ask the question. "Good man, hast thou, perchance, any information on a mage that can cure a friend of ours?" asked Octal. "He is stricken with a rare disease like thine, except it is a reverting to orcish. We are seeking desperately a remedy." "Why dost thou asketh me that?" retorted the leper. "I am not a mage, just a leper, outcast and a reject." "I just thought ye may know, good man." "If I did, I would not tell thee for a measly sum of gold," answered the leper. Octal then hastily pressed some more gold into the leper's withered hands. But just as he did so, the leper disappeared into the nearby teleport! Octal now grew suspicious, and promptly called his comrades. All then, decided to quickly follow the leper through the same teleport, and they managed to surround him at the Lycaeum's gardens. "Let me be" cried the leper. " I warn thee." "This man may have some information about Daedric's malady," said Octal. "But he refuseth to tell us." Samantha and the rest followed suit: "Be not frightened, good man. Pray tell us. We will not harm thee." If they only knew! For even as they were talking, a strange light shone around the leper as his crouch disappeared, and he slowly stood before them glorified, tall, fair and straight. His voice deepened and boomed, the earth shook beneath their feet as the now gathered group witnessed the impressive sight. The leper had transformed himself into the god Arkay! "I am Arkay, god of birth and death!" said the god. "I witnessed each of thee's birth, and now the time has cometh to witness thy death! Prepare all to journey into Oblivion!" The women in the group screamed, the men were terrified! It took all the courage she could muster for Xena Dragon to bow low before the god and state her plea, in a voice that shook as a leaf: " Please Milord and Mighty god, alloweth thy humble servant girl to speak. How and why must we perish? Was it something we have done? If so, may we not be allowed to rectify? Why are we being punished so harshly?"

"Foolish mortals," he exclaimed. "Dost thou think ye can fool the gods? Dost thou think we have not noticed they selfishness, thy hypocrisy, thy bent on killing each other, thy careless ways in every day life? Ah, but we have. We had decided to let thee be, but not insomuch as it concerneth my envoy, Daedric Dragon. 'Tis thy fault he lies helpless, stricken with a curse. But I have come to take him away, as he is needed elsewhere. Now, where is he?" Samantha managed to find her voice: " Milord," she said in a sheepish voice," 'twas I that wast taking care of him. We came here looking for a cure for his malady, as he seemeth to be reverting to orcish. Nothing we do seems to help him, so we are worried for our dear friend. If it pleaseth thee, Sire, help us to help him. Is he under a curse?" "Ye have done enough, young one. Now where is he that I may end this and take him away?" replied the god. "Nay Milord, please, nay! Pray do not take our friend from us. We DO love him so...we did not know. "Twas an accident when we found him at the healers. He wast gone from us for so long...how can ye take him away again ? Is there nothing...nay, I ask thee humbly - tell us what to do to help him please, and if ye sent him to accomplish any task left undone, we will gladly undertake it for him." Samantha pleaded and wept bitterly. The others stood speechless, some in shame, others to the point of giving way to tears as well. "Thou art worthless mortals. Why shouldst I believe thou wilt be able to undertake the dangerous task assigned to our Avatar?" retorted the god Arkay. "We will try our best," answered Xena. "And if we fail and die, well then, so be it. At least, let us try, Mighty god!" The others also followed, each offering himself/herself gladly to take Daedric's place. Arkay looked at them and pondered. "Very well then, mortals, pay careful heed to mine words. I sent Daedric to stop the flow of an ancient prophecy, one that wilt surely spell doom for thee. The orcs, it seemeth, hath come into ownership of an ancient artifact belonging to the spokesman of the gods, known as the Oracle. Without it she is hampered. I sent Daedric to get it back, but the phases of the moons changed at the wrong moment, and the gate landed Daedric in the midst of an orc band. That and thy carelessness did nothing to save him. He was tortured by them and cursed. Miraculously I created a distraction to allow him to escape, but the curse is irreversible." "This is sad news Milord, " cried Xena Dragon. "But now how can we help? Where can we find the Oracle? We had no notion it even existed." Arkay the god dropped a rune before them, on the ground. "Mark ye hast given thy word. If ye fail, I shall without fail come for all of thee, and thy entire world will be destroyed." Without waiting any reply, he disappeared into thin air.

It took a while for the entire group to bring themselves together after this. The terror in the air could still be felt when Samantha then remarked : " Well my friends, this is the answer we had been seeking. It is the prophecy we had read we need to break, and thank the gods, we have found out where to turn. This rune marketh the place where we will find the Oracle, no doubt. I hope 'tis not a dangerous place."

The Oracle was blind, and very very old. However, she is the wisest of sages, knowing all the answers to the past, present, and future. But no one had seen her. Hence, no one knew what to expect. So, as they all checked their armor and weapons, several gates were opened, and one by one, the entire party left to find the old sage. Before they went, however, Samantha took partial leave of the group to check on her beloved friend back in Jhelom.

Upon arriving, Samantha thanked the gods! For by then, the protective magic surrounding Daedric had vanished, and he was once again in the throws of the curse. It was the sweet maiden Kara, of the ROC guild, that when passing by on her daily duties, saw the commotion and stopped to offer the healers her aid. So it was, that the strong warrior maiden gently helped to soothe Daedric, quiet him down with potions and some magic, and helped to hold him back when he flew into his "attacks". She also tried soothing him by softly humming songs into his ear. Kara noticed this seemed to quiet him somewhat, but only strong magery would help him now, and neither she nor the healers could help there. Daedric was getting out of hand again just when Samantha appeared. She lost no time in casting the most powerful magery on her friend, and thanked Kara for all her timely help, and invited her to join them in their search for the cure. The girl readily accepted the invitation, and donned her armor to join them.

The party found itself in a black forest, with little sunlight shining through the trees. A few animals could be seen here and there, and the chirping of birds could be heard in the distance, but nothing else seemed to stir. As the party searched and searched, they were befelled by bands or orcs, accompanied by their allies the ettins. One by one, all of them were dispatched by the great warriors. Then, suddenly, they were struck by the most nerve racking cackling one could ever hear! What on earth was that? As they came closer, trying to become accustomed to the dim light, look! an old woman, blind as a bat, with skin a translucent white, that contrasted against her robes! The Oracle! She was bent forward over a steaming cauldron, stirring something that looked like a thick soup. Before her, there was a rickety table, with some utensils, animal parts, some organs, and reagents known only to an old witch . "Who goest there?" cackled the witch. Xena Dragon went forward respectfully and peered at the old woman. She turned towards her friends and nodded, motioning to them to stay quiet and not startle her, as she was blind. She then said, " Old woman, if it pleaseth thee, we mean thee no harm. We came in search of thy wisdom and help." The Oracle cackled in glee: " Ah! After so many years, do I hear a human voice? Come closer that I may feel thee. I think I know thee too." Xena Dragon warily stepped a bit forward, motioning to the others not to worry. The sage cackled again. "Afraid, are ye? Fear not. I will not harm thee, although my friends the elementals might. What hast thee to fear from an old woman anyway?" Having said this, she raised a withered old hand and passed it over Xena's features. Xena flinched. "Ah, nay, ye are not the one I expected." The cackling rattled everyone. "Good sage, we have come in need of thy help.", said Xena. The old sage nodded, and said:" But if I cannot see, I cannot help thee, young one. " Xena tried to get more information from her, but all she said was: "If I cannot see, I cannot hear. Find my eye that wast stolen by the orcs and lost deep inside a dark cave near an accursed town of undead, and I will then tell thee what ye wish to know." So saying, she turned her back to the group and fell silent.

What could the sage have meant by those words : " deep inside a cave near an accursed town of undead"? There were at least two accursed towns full of undead in Sosaria, but a cave near one? A cave...ah, could she have meant a dungeon? The group returned to Samantha in Jhelom and related their findings. After some deliberation among themselves, it was suggested that they try the dungeon that lies near the City of the Dead. No one goes to that place, due to the proximity of the aformentioned undead that lived closeby, many of them quite powerful. So after having double checked their weapons, they all gated far off to Delucia, and from there, took the path leading to the town of the undead, and the nearby dungeon.

A nauseating feeling swept over them as they entered the accursed place. The journey, already beset with perils from monsters and undead of all sorts, had now led them to this, a pitch black cave that undoubtedly, had already claimed the lives of many. Huge disease infested rats fell on them from all sides; giant poisonous scorpions; enormous poisonous serpents; acid slimes that ate away their armor and weapons; and more, all were dispatched one by one by the noble band, as they searched under every rock and nook and cranny for anything resembling an "eye". Many days and nights were spent in that place, and already, a feeling of illness and tiredness was beginning to set in among them. But onwards they pressed, healing one another with powerful magics, searching. Then suddenly, just as they thought themselves lost, Samantha noticed something shiny partly buried under a pile of debris, almost at the end of a dark corridor with no exit, save the entrance. A horde of mongbats were around it, all of which she despatched with powerful magic. As she uncovered the object, look! a shiny glass crystal, opaque inside, but nonetheless, an artifact of sorts! This must be it, the long sought after "eye"!

It was with great relief that the party was able to see sunlight once more, and breathe the fresh air outside. Feeling worried again about Daedric's health, Samantha passed the "eye" to Xena Dragon, and bade her carefully guard it and take it to the Oracle. Xena acknowledged and promptly opened a gate for her and the party to the location of the Oracle. Imagine the happiness of a child when it has recovered its long lost toy! Such was the happiness of the old sage! The Oracle thanked them all and placed the eye on her forehead and said: " May he that looketh, Be the one to flee, The spell that curseth, Will now set free. Leavest me now, please, to my regained treasure. Be off with thee."

Aha! An answer in the form of a riddle! But what did it mean? As the re-united group now deliberated, the words, slowly, started to gain meaning. "He that looketh"..."the spell that curseth"...it seemed the words pointed in the same direction. The spell that cursed Daedric was obviously of orc origin, and the only one that could have cast it was an orc mage. Therefore, as he was the one to look and cast it, he must be the one to break it. But how ...that wasn't exactly understood. However, it seemed that somehow, they had to bring an orc mage and somehow, face him with Daedric. This was a dangerous prospect. An orc mage cannot be brought into town, and such ones were also extremely dangerous. It was well known that an orc mage could quickly disable and kill any able bodied warrior with flamestrike, a spell that required enormous power and magery. Besides, the orcs would surely put up a strong resistance. But there seemed to be no other way. So it was decided to take Daedric, under heavy guard, to one of the orc forts in Sosaria. A strong group would storm the fort, kidnap the mage, and bring him outside. They would then force the mage to face Daedric and break the spell that held him cursed. It was hoped that this is what the Oracle meant.

And so indeed it was. After a bloody battle, the orc mage at the fort near Minoc was brought outside, under force, all the while the rest of the group fought back the onslaught of his comrades. Orc after orc fell...it was horrible to see. But at last, the mage was brought face to face with Daedric. "Pagu stukhgho epghed!" cried Daedric as he faced the orc. The mage immediately attacked Daedric and sought to kill him, but his friends kept him healed as Daedric and the orc fought. Then, a thunderclap was heard, and a flash of lightning fell around them! The mage was paralyzed! Daedric dropped from exhaustion, and lay unconscious for a long time.

The party drew around the Prince and carefully administered restoration spells and potions, until he awoke. "My...my friends..." he stammered, " where am I? What happened?" Cheers arose from everyone as they saw their loved friend slowly come back to life, and recognize them one by one! "My Prince", said Xena, "thou wert ill for a long time. But the curse has been broken now. May the gods be praised! Ye have come back to us!" Samantha kissed him gently and remarked: "Dearest Prince, thou art our light in this dark world. Ye have returned to us! May this be a glorious day indeed!" The rest of the group payed their respects to the Ancient Dragon, and with tears of happiness, expressed supreme joy at having their friend of old back in the realm. And although no one could see, the gods and ancients were appeased.

Thus Daedric Dragon returned to Sosaria. An ancient wrong had been rectified, and the world was once again set right. Evil had once more met its nemesis, and justice had been served. But what future tasks would be set for the Prince and his friends? What quests were yet to be accomplished? Time would tell, as we shall see.