Chapter Two: The Awakening of a legend

The path to the temple seemed strangely quiet; the Wartocks had done their business and moved on, only the odd one or two remained to ensure no survivors could escape and find help. Little did they know that somebody would do exactly that. As the temple came into view, a lone Wartock came down the path seeing Rynn and came charging at her, its battle hammer held high. Rynn readied the axe she found on the rocks and took one swing at the Wartock's arm but the rotten wood gave way and the axe blade went flying off to the side leaving Rynn holding the handle. The Wartock's face drew into a slight smile at the human's misfortune and took a downward swipe at Rynn's head just as she rolled sideways out of the way reaching for the Mithril sword as she did so. Surprised by the Human's agility, the Wartock knew this may not be an easy fight and stepped back somewhat uneasily. The human made her attack, cutting through the light armour but it did not do much damage, only a small wound. Grunting, he made another swipe but she was simply too fast for him and managed to get behind landing a neat blow to the neck. The Wartock roared and fell over clutching his neck as his lifeblood slowly drained away. He looked up. The Human was nowhere to be seen.  

At the end of the muddy path, the imposing temple stood on a rocky outcrop linked to the shore by a short stone bridge. Rynn carefully made her way across looking over the edge for any potential traps or ambushes but saw nothing but waves crashing against the rocks below. She carefully pushed open the main doors of the temple and went inside, the doors closing behind with a solid crash. Thankfully, this place did not seem to have been attacked by the Orcs and the pews and various ancient tapestries that hung between the stained glass windows were still intact.

Inside the temple (Order of the Flame screenshot) (c) 1999 Psygnosis

Rynn pulled out the book and walked up to the altar looking it over for any clues as to what the connection was between it and the book. There was nothing but she spotted the podium stood next to it with a recess that matched the book perfectly. Shrugging, she placed the book into the recess and waited. Suddenly, the two columns at the other side of the temple started to revolve and the floor opened up in the centre of the room revealing a secret staircase leading under the temple. Cautiously peering into the darkness, she could see lit torches below and taking a deep breath, descended down the stairs.

At first, there did not seem to be anything down there; just a long staircase descending into a pit which seemed to have no bottom due to the light. Rynn noticed a circular midsection about 20 feet down upon which sat a book resting on a short golden stand. She went to investigate and saw that the book was beautifully written with pictures of men riding dragons. Interested, she dusted it off and began to read from it; carefully turning pages with her fingertips to prevent tearing the old, already deteriorating paper.

In the earliest times, Drakan was a world of chaos and endless struggle. It's many tribes and races were scattered, warring amongst one another in a vicious cycle of death and retribution. The two greatest races -- the elder breed of Dragons and the younger tribes of Humanity -- fought bitterly against one another. Where mankind encroached on the nesting grounds of Dragons, the great beasts razed human villages and scorched their croplands. And in further retribution, stealthy bands of men would seek to trap and kill lone Dragons wherever they could.

This madness raged for centuries, until at last, one tiny flicker of reason shone forth. High in the central mountains of the great continent, a lone tribe of men enacted an uneasy truce with the neighbouring Dragons. Through time, this peace grew into a mutual trust, and the two tribes began to work for their common good. The strength of this alliance gradually spread to the surrounding regions, and the seeds of the first great civilisation were sown. As a symbol of the greatest virtues of this society, the two races agreed upon the pact known as The Bond. Through the magic of an artefact known as the Dragonstone, the bravest and most noble of men would join their life essence to that of a single dragon, linking the two forever as one. These Bonded formed a loose alliance known as the Order of the Flame, serving as roaming protectors and arbitrators. The Order embodied the ideals of brotherhood and co-operation upon which their society was built.

Led by the gleaming example of the Bonded, the Order of the Flame rapidly spread its influence and philosophy throughout the continent, gathering the warring races and petty kingdoms into a single great nation. For generations, this peace held fast, enforced by the formidable dragon-riders. Freed from the constant threat of warfare, their scholars turned to the study of magic, devising potent spells to alter the very land around them and mould it to their needs. Nothing, it seemed, was unattainable.

The Betrayer

But as in all times, there were those whose hearts held only hatred and darkness, who longed to rule over others and destroy the Order of the Flame. Equality is by nature preventative to profit and superiority, so many were displeased with the Order's vision. Secret societies and subversive factions took shape; gradually building an invisible network of those opposed to the Order. The most malevolent of these groups would come to be known as the Dark
Union - an alliance of the strongest and most influential of the Order's foes.

At last, it was a man called Navaros who would bring an end to this Golden Age. A War Mage of tremendous power and an honoured member of the Order, Navaros was in truth a member of the Dark
Union 's inner council. Under Navaros' direction, the Dark Union had been conducting vile experiments in genetics and forbidden magic, deep in the trackless wildlands of the eastern frontier. The discoveries made in these desolate lands were kept hidden from the world, known only to Navaros and the Inner Council.

Impatient with the bickering of the Council, and certain that the time to move against the Order had come, Navaros took matters into his own hands. Through quick and bloody decision, Navaros crowned himself as supreme leader of the Dark
Union , and set his plans for the downfall of the Order of the Flame into motion. Mounting his ancient dragon, Kaeros, he gave quiet instructions to each of his lieutenants, then disappeared into the eastern waste, not to be seen again for another ten years.

Navaros' brethren within the Order, unaware of his true nature, had mourned his disappearance and many had searched for him in vain. Ten years later, when he appeared on the steps of the great
Dragon Temple , he was greeted with joy and disbelief. A meeting of the city's Bonded was hurriedly called, so that all could hear Navaros' story and welcome his return. Navaros stood silently until the last of his brothers was seated. Then, with a grim smile, he uttered a Word of Power not spoken in over six hundred years, and destruction ripped through the hall.

Outside, a dense fog had risen, blanketing the streets in a dismal mist. Blinding flashes of light rippled across the city, and streams of dark, hulking shapes poured from the alleys, laying about them with blood-clotted axes and great butcher's blades. Within minutes, the streets were choked with the dead, and the air resounded with the bestial roars of the Dark
Union 's monstrous servants. By nightfall, the city was in ruins, and the brightest minds of the Order lay sealed in the smouldering rubble of the Dragon Temple . The Dark Wars had begun.

The Armies Gather

As word of Navaros' treachery spread, the remaining cities rose up against him, and war engulfed the world. Everywhere, the agents of the Dark
Union streamed to Navaros' side, cutting a swath of treachery and murder. Among them were several of the Order's greatest mages, and many of the Bonded. Spells of unimaginable destruction raged across the world, levelling cities and armies on both sides. One by one, the great achievements and marvels of the Order's golden age were ground into dust.

In his years in the waste, Navaros had amassed a nightmare army, strengthened by dark magic of his own design. The elder race of Giants, long driven into the wildlands and forgotten, had re-emerged under the Dark
Union 's banner. From the creatures of the wilderness, Navaros' magic had produced legions of twisted and vile monsters, which crawled and hopped at his command. Most dismaying of all were the Dark Union 's shock troops -- the wartocks. Never a part of the Order, the wartocks had always been a primitive and volatile race, distant from the world of men, but not evil. Under the Dark Union 's sorcerous influence, the wartocks had grown bestial and murderous, their minds clouded with the lust for blood. It was the wartocks, in wave after wave, which drove back the forces of the Order, until it seemed all would be lost.

Seeing victory within his grasp, and no longer content to share the reins of power, Navaros betrayed the Dragon, Kaeros. In a foul perversion of the ancient bonding ritual, he devoured the creature's soul, absorbing its body into his own. Now, grown monstrous and nearly invincible, Navaros prepared to lead his armies against the last remnants of the Order of the Flame.

The Last Stand

At the foot of
Mount Tibor , the remains of the Order gathered for one final stand. In a last, desperate hope, the surviving mages had invested their power in a single weapon -- the Runeblade. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Order's only chance lay in this sword. The weapon was borne by the warrior Heron, and the dragon, Arokh.

As the armies clashed, Navaros entered a mystic trance, drawing power for a massive spell of destruction. The sound of the battle around him had become an unending roar of chaos, but he was undisturbed. With the stolen strength of his dragon's soul, Navaros had grown far mightier than any mage before him. Unimaginable forces filled him, dancing about his monstrous body like living smoke. As the words of destruction rose to his lips, a lone dragon came shrieking from the clouds, weaving amidst the streams of lightning and fire that flooded the sky. On Arokh's back, Heron gripped the Runeblade in both hands, and with one final cry, drove it deep into Navaros' blackened heart. All sound went silent somehow, in the moment of the act.

The tremendous forces Navaros had summoned were unleashed without direction, rippling across the field in jagged, searing bolts, which gouged and tore at the earth. The clash of swords was heard no longer, and blackness hung over the field. Only the low moans of the dying echoed in the gloom. When at last the smoke cleared, the two great armies lay decimated. Where Navaros had stood, a wound-like rip had been torn in the very fabric of space, its edges glowing and flickering with a dark and fibrous energy. In the smouldering crater below, Heron lay dead, the Runeblade broken in two at his side. In that blackened pit, only the dragon Arokh still clung to life.

The Order of the Flame was no more, but their enemies had been scattered. With the fall of Navaros, the Dark
Union 's hold on its bestial armies collapsed. But without the Order, survival became the world-imperative, and thoughts of nobility were forgotten. Chaos spread across the land. Weary of the human world, the remaining Dragons withdrew into timeless slumber, never again to return. The world split once more into many tribes and kingdoms, and the great achievements of the previous age were soon forgotten.

Magic and glory had faded from the world, and of the Order of the Flame, only the legends remained.

Stunned, Rynn placed the book back and looked around "Is this it? Is this what Atimar wanted me to see? A stupid book telling me what I already know?" She shouted in the darkness. "Just one of his silly stories and superstitions, he could be so infuriating at times. Oh well, I might as well make my way back, I have better things to do than read old books" she continued as she began to go back up the stairs. However the stairs began to crumble and disintegrated leaving her no choice but to go down. She could see a lit tunnel to one side and leaping from the platform, made her way down to it using the rocks around the edge of the pit.

The air seemed clammy and musty inside the pit, undisturbed for centuries. Wanting to be out of the place, Rynn continued into the tunnel but stopped when a sudden noise startled her. There, in front was a set of five swinging blades blocking the path, which swung by some magical force. They had obviously been activated by her presence and the sight filled her with dismay. To the left was a deep chasm leading down to infinite darkness preventing her from avoiding the lethal blades, the only way was through them. But, however, this simple trap was no challenge for the experienced warrior; she simply waited for each blade to swing by and ran out of the way.
"Well that was hard!" she said sarcastically to herself, still angry at feeling that the whole thing was delaying her pursuit of Delon. She brushed aside a group of cobwebs and continued onwards to see where the tunnel came out.
The natural rock of the tunnel gave way to beautifully made marble walls the likes that she had never seen before; only royalty and the very rich had things like that. Awe-struck, she continued till she came to a large underground circular room decorated with statues twice her height and marble figurines. Above, the ceiling consisted of magnificent coloured crystal illuminated by the magical properties contained in the crystal itself. In the middle of the room, lay a sarcophagus surrounded by a deep moat that she could not cross.

All of a sudden it dawned on her. What she was standing in was Heron's tomb!
"So, it seems that Heron did exist after all, Atimar was right! I wonder if the same goes for Arokh and the rest of the Order?" she mused to herself. Leaning forward, something caught her eye; a crystal of some sort on the end of the sarcophagus - Rynn knew that Heron was buried with Arokh's soul crystal when he went into eternal sleep. It had to be true! If she could get that crystal, maybe it would lead her to the dragon himself then she would have a real chance of finding Delon.

Shivering with excitement, Rynn looked around the room for a way to cross the moat but all she could find was three floor switches that did nothing. Thinking that they had to be pressed in a certain order, she ran over them in every combination possible but still nothing happened. Disappointed, she sat down pondering about her situation. It would seem she was trapped in this place.
"Bah! As if the Elder Breed of dragons existed, I was a fool to have believed it. The only so called dragons round here are those damn blackwings, nothing but reptiles with feathers" she said to herself angrily.

After sitting there for a few moments, her eyes turned to the three statues; she noticed that they were just behind the floor switches. Maybe the statues had to be pushed onto the switches? She wondered. "Yes, that's it" she exclaimed as she ran up to the first statue, broken in half due to ageing. It pushed onto the switch easily but the other two were simply too heavy to move. Sighing with disappointment, she tried standing on the switch and to her relief the crystal began to glow brighter and with confidence she stood on the third which activated a bridge across to the sarcophagus.

Rynn leapt over the bridge with excitement and with trembling hands took the crystal from its place. A large booming sound erupted from below and some stairs replaced the deep moat rising upwards from the dark recess. Thinking that the stairs might retract again, she hurried down them until she came to another natural rock lined tunnel leading to an ancient lift. Heart beating, she pulled the lever beside the platform activating the lift and after a quick ascent up a deep shaft, found herself just out of town behind Atimar's house.
"Now to find Arokh's Lair, its supposed to be a few miles out of town in the northern hills" she said to herself as she pocketed the soul crystal thinking for a moment of its possibilities if the legend turned out to be true.

Distant thunder reverberated through the hills as Rynn emerged from the cave; a storm sounded like it was on its way, which could bring snow possibly blocking or slowing her progress. It had been mild recently but the weather could soon change in the mountain lowlands in which her village resided.  She realised that she must hurry and find Arokh. She stopped a moment to wonder what he would be like, from the legends he was supposedly the most powerful dragon known but Rynn was more interested in whether he would help or not. The thought crossed her mind that he might even kill her because legend had it, he was an arrogant beast with fearsome nature. It was a risk she was willing to take.

The path ahead led over the river, which had split into many forks as it flowed around the hills, and mounds that made up the lowlands of the mountains almost surrounding her village. Unfortunately, since the new bridges were built, the old wooden ones leading to the barren foothills fell into disrepair and most of the planks had rotted away. She glanced over the river. A couple of Orcs had seen her and came to the edge at the other side of the bridge but they did not cross to attack. She could see why; the bridge in front was almost impossible to cross due to missing planks. Jumping across would mean putting her weapons away but would leave her open to attack once she reached the other side. "If only I had a bow,” she thought to herself.  

Rynn walked up to the edge of the bridge eyeing the Orcs to see what their next move would be. Maybe they would be stupid enough to try and jump and fall down the hole but they knew the danger ahead. They did have at least some intelligence.
One of them started jumping up and down excitedly whilst the other one walked off back up the path he came from.

Now was the time for Rynn to attack. She took a few steps backwards and ran across the bridge jumping over the hole and catching the end plank with her outstretched hands. She quickly pulled herself up and drew the Mithril sword just as the Orc took a swing at her but she blocked it with the sword breaking the creature's weapon in two. The Orc stepped backwards but Rynn ran him through and turned to face his companion who had come to see what all the commotion was about.
"Human die, all human die" he grunted in broken Drakanese; a language officially spoken by all humans since the Order's rule. Those words were probably the only words he knew and the only words he would ever know as Rynn chopped off his head before he could even pull out the wooden club from his waist belt. Glancing around briefly, Rynn sheathed her sword and continued on the path leading further away from her village and into unknown territory.

A plume of smoke rose up from behind a grass mound up ahead and the smell of cooking meat drifted in the air carried by the slight breeze.
"A camp. I'd better be careful,” Rynn thought to herself as she quietly crept up to the mound of grass looking out for stray Orcs or Wartocks. As the campfire came into view, she could see several Wartocks sleeping around the fire, one was on guard, his back turned. Near the fire were a couple of decent looking weapons and some armour; something she would definitely need soon, the rusty old chain mail she was wearing was falling to bits. Knowing that she was outnumbered and practically defenceless, she drank the invisibility potion she found earlier and crept up to the sleeping Wartocks, completely unnoticed.

The Wartock stood up and yawned. He was sure something moved over by the pile of wood and the axe he had just been using had disappeared. His eyes flicked over to the sword next to the skeleton and right before his eyes, the sword disappeared. Rubbing his eyes and holding his bottle of ale up he exclaimed, "Surely I haven't drunk that much!" and struggled over to investigate. The skeleton lifted up by itself and the armour lifted off and some worn armour clattered onto the ground. "What is going on here?" he shouted "Wake up, something strange is happening, things are moving about by themselves!
"Don't be stupid" another answered. "Get some sleep, its someone else's turn to take watch."
Rynn by this time had gone.  

Examining her new weapons, Rynn was pleased to find them in good condition; she gained an axe like the one she found on the rocks near her home and a longsword. Not armour piercing but a sharp weapon nevertheless. Useful against Orcs and the deadly Scavengers usually found within the lowlands.
Rynn came to another fork in the path and taking the right hand path came to an old cemetery, which had not been used for what looked like centuries. During his teachings of the Order, Atimar had mentioned a cemetery just out of the village that contained the graves of warriors who died during the Dark Wars but never said exactly where it was. Rynn, like most of his stories, had treat it with scepticism but now, she was beginning to believe all what he had taught her.
She carefully pushed open the gate, which was covered in moss and fungus but yet strangely opened easily as if somebody had been there recently. Knowing that she might need a hasty retreat, she propped it open with a stone and crept up to the first line of gravestones.

Nothing was heard apart from the rush of the wind as she walked amongst the final resting places of the Order’s warriors. She stopped to examine one.
"Here lies Argorn, bonded of Werokh who gave his life protecting Drakan from the evil of the Dark Union. May he rest in peace and never be forgotten."
"Wow" Rynn whispered "The Order really must have existed."
She looked across the graveyard and saw an open tomb, which seemed too good to resist. There had to be something good in there, unless of course the Orcs has been there first.
Walking up to the entrance, the young warrior noticed it had been recently forced open confirming her thoughts of it being looted; there was nothing to be found inside except for a few statues similar to the ones in Heron's tomb. This one must have been of somebody very high ranking within the Order, perhaps a General she thought.

Rynn was just about to leave when she noticed one of the walls at the end of the long tomb had collapsed revealing a courtyard with a pedestal in the middle. She went to investigate when she saw something on top of the pedestal but she couldn't quite make out what it was. Suddenly, a scavenger emerged from behind a rock hissing in defiance at its newfound prey. Startled, Rynn drew her new long sword and took a swing at the hideous creature cutting off one of its feet. She ran past as fast as she could taking a sideways stab as she did so and flipping over backwards landing neatly behind to land the final blow. She ran forward and grabbed the object from the pedestal and ran back to the safety of the tomb.

Examining the object, Rynn could see it was a magical crystal of some sort, orange in colour and images of flames carved into the crystal.
"I wonder how this works" She thought. She held it into the air and nothing happened. "Fire!" she said loudly and suddenly a ring of fire emerged from her feet gradually spreading out burning everything in its path.
"This will definitely come in handy" She said to herself as she left the graveyard.

As she walked back up the path leading deeper into the wilderness, an Orc noticed her and called for others. Without wasting any time she crossed the bridge and knocked them down as quickly as possible. She didn’t want them to gather to create problems for her. As she moved down the path another one was waiting for her taking advantage of being at night hoping to go unnoticed. She knocked him down too - they were no match for the skilled warrior. There was more to come though, Rynn spotted four orcs blocking her path but they didn’t notice her. She wondered if she had something better to fight; the Orcs were becoming boring having to deal with them on an almost weekly basis; attacks on humans were very frequent.

She was about to leave but something stopped her, it was the whispers that she heard and down to her right she found some orcs standing in a group below. She noticed two large rocks to one side near the top of the small cliff and something suddenly struck her mind. She could roll those rocks onto the unaware Orcs getting the upper hand. Laughing to herself, she rolled them and dropped them just above the orcs crushing them and blowing up a nearby barrel of explosives reducing some resistance. She carefully walked over to the other side and further down she found some arrows behind the box but it was useless without a bow. Still she kept them hoping to find a bow soon.  

Looking around, she noticed an open gate hoping to find some weapon in the small cave inside and she quickly ducked in and found a long sword and some health potions, which she quickly drank and was back to full strength. Noticing another cave entrance she moved in and after ripping apart a scavenger took another fire crystal. "Great another one of these, very handy!" then she turned back to her path and kept moving up the hill. Ahead, she was unaware of the trap that orcs laid for her; as she approached them she noticed an Orc ready to slide a big rock down towards her but the thing she didn't notice was another Orc standing behind the hill ready to roll another huge rock at her. Rynn heard something coming towards her from behind and she suddenly stepped back. "That was close,” Rynn said as the huge rock came thundering past. She then ran up and cleared the broken bridge, as she knew the orcs won’t be daring enough to jump over, also every second was important for her and she didn't want to waste time fighting them. The only thing she expected were enemies that could attack her anytime so she was alert and she cautiously continued deeper into the wilderness hoping to find her goal soon.  

It was almost morning when Rynn finally reached the location of Arokh’s Lair. It was near a large open plateau set directly at the base of a huge snow capped mountain, which towered high above her. Many caves littered these rocky lands mainly populated with scavengers who preyed on unwary travellers. Humans, Orcs and even Wartocks who were unlucky enough to stumble by their lairs became food, stripped to the bone in minutes; hardly a place for the home of the saviour of the world. As Rynn looked across the plateau, she noticed a different cave between two pine trees; one who's entrance was carved into the shape of a Dragon's head.
"Arokh's lair!" She exclaimed, her heart skipping a beat as she suddenly realised that she would probably be the first member of the Order of the Flame reborn. That is if Arokh is willing to bond and help find Delon. She took a deep breath and walked up to the entrance.

The large Dragon head loomed above her, it was beautifully carved in intricate detail showing the sharp teeth and the glaring eye. She took a moment to observe it, wondering who or what took the time to carve such an intricate structure in the solid rock. Taking another deep breath, she ventured inside. The short, natural tunnel opened out to a small passing point cave and then narrowed again when it gave way to a man made stone tunnel leading round in an L shape. As Rynn neared the L shaped junction, a large clanging noise sounded and a couple of swinging blades came out of the walls moving slowly up and down the passage ahead.
"Traps!" she hissed "I had a feeling this wouldn't be easy" she remarked as she observed the timings of the blades. If she ran down the tunnel jumping at the right moment, she would make it past the trap. It was all down to timing. She noticed a couple of skeletons on the floor; obviously belonging to would be adventurers that met a messy ending in the deadly traps.  

Rynn stood there in the semi-darkness for a good few minutes waiting till the time was right to make her move. "Now!" a voice seemed to say to her in her head and she ran as quickly as she could jumping just as a swinging blade came towards her. She landed in a dusty tunnel at the other side leading to another set of blades, this time three of them. Rynn put her hand over her mouth and coughed as the dust blew up in plumes from her feet where they had disturbed it. She lit a nearby torch and examined the next trap ahead of her kicking a single dragon scale out of her way so she would not slip. She never thought that she had just cast away a part of the legendary Dragon’s body…

Again, this one was down to timing and after a few moments she made her move ducking, running and ducking then doing a neat side roll to avoid the third blade. Heart pounding she reached up and lit a couple more torches fastened to wooden beams supporting the ceiling. The flickering flames revealed a partially collapsed floor. Carefully, Rynn stood on the fragile floor but it crumbled and the bricks fell away. It was a long time before she heard the bricks hit something; the pit below must be hundreds of feet deep. Seemingly impossible to cross, Rynn leant against the wall observing the remaining stone bricks. She could just make it if no more stones fell. With a sudden boost of adrenaline, fuelled by her determination to find Delon and not letting anything stand in her way, she jumped across the pit neatly landing on a brick at the other side. The mortar around the stone began to crumble.

Panicking, Rynn jumped again and landed in the dirt face down, she had made it across but now she could not get back again. If Arokh were to attack her, there would be no way out. She grabbed a torch from the wall and lit it, carrying it with her illuminating the walls with flickering orange-yellow light. She was the first human to set foot in that cave for six hundred years and the thought made her feel somewhat privileged and better than the would be adventurers who’s remains were back in the traps.

Shortly, Rynn came to a large open topped cavern lit only by the moonlight coming in through the hole in the top. Down below, on a platform was a large statue of a Dragon in a magnificent pose and below it, a strange looking altar made from crystal the same colour as the soul crystal she found. Around the edge of the cavern was winding path leading down. Shaking with anticipation of what may lie ahead, Rynn began her decent to the bottom.

Small stones made a crunching noise under her feet and dust sifted down from overhanging rocks untouched for centuries as she stumbled down the steep path. Reaching the bottom, She looked up and saw the statue towering above her like it was keeping watch over something, whoever had created it was a good sculptor she thought. There was utter silence bar the sound of the wind through the hole in the cavern top. The young woman carefully walked up to the crystal structure, her footsteps echoing in the circular cavern and noticed that it had a small recess in the centre.  

"I wonder where Arokh is, maybe he's sleeping somewhere" she said to herself as she reached for the soul crystal.
"I suppose I put this here,” she said aloud as she placed the crystal into the recess. Almost instantly, the crystal was pulled out of her hands and rose up till it was between three crystal prongs at the top of the structure and it began to glow very brightly. There was a crashing and thundering noise as fragments of rock showered her. She looked up. The statue had come alive!

Arokh glared down onto the pathetic looking human with two cruel red eyes. His red scales shone in the semi darkness where the yellow light from his soul crystal struck them making it difficult to make out his true colour.
"Who dares awaken me?" he growled. "Answer me!"
Rynn cleared her throat and uneasily replied "It was me, you may call me Rynn."
Fury grew up inside the dragon’s body and with a roar he jumped down onto the cave floor knocking Rynn to the ground. He put one foot onto her chest pinning her to the floor.
"Inferior Upstart!" he roared "Where did you get that cursed stone?"
Rynn began to panic. She was done for. Trembling she answered "No need to be angry, I'm not your enemy you know. You see, Atimar sent me. He said something about the Order of the Flame."
Arokh craned his neck back slightly and rolled his eyes. "Atimar hmm, can't say I've heard of him, I never knew anyone by that name in the Order" he said thoughtfully, recalling the names of humans and dragons that he had met during his service in the Order.  

"It has been six centuries since Navaros's defeat, Arokh. Atimar is the scribe of our village and teaches us the legends of the Order" Rynn informed.
"Six centuries, bah!" he snarled moving his head closer to her again. "It was supposed to be forever. Why have you awakened me?"
Rynn tried to move but she was securely clamped to the floor with Arokh's foot, she stopped struggling and replied fearfully hoping her answer would justify awakening him. It didn't.
"There was a Wartock raid on my village and my brother was kidnapped, I need help to find him,” she said quietly but loud enough for the dragon to hear.

Arokh Awakened (Order of the Flame Screenshot) Click to enlarge (1024x768)

Arokh loosened his grip on her and Rynn began to slide backwards on her elbows. Arokh did not bother to stop her.
"WHAT!" he yelled "You awaken me, Arokh, bonded of Heron, defeater of the Dark Union and saviour of all Drakan for THAT!” He put his head nearer to the terrified woman demanding an answer. She could feel his hot breath on her face.
Rynn remained silent.

Arokh cursed in Draconian and muttered half with sadness, half with anger “you don’t know what you have done human, you really don’t. You have no idea what you have done to me. Have you?” he hissed.

Rynn didn’t answer and it was her turn to be the angry one. She jumped up to her feet and replied "How dare you! That's the life of my brother you are talking about!" She shouted making to hit Arokh in the side of his face. She soon stopped when she realised what she was about to do.

Taken aback by this, Arokh replied "hmm" and there was a slight pause. "You show courage but you are still only a pathetic peasant girl" he continued, his dagger tooth mouth curving into a sneer. "What could I possibly do for you?" he said scornfully, his eyes boiling with rage.
"You could bond" Rynn replied.
"HAH! What makes you think you are worthy? What makes you think you can be a knight of the Order?" he snorted in disgust.
Rynn did not reply.
Arokh snorted again and looked away then he sighed and gave a slight bittersweet smile. He had to bond with this human to prevent him being used for evil intent. Anyone could bond with him; all they had to do was say the final phrase. The girl didn't know it though.
"Very well Rynn, I will listen" he finally said turning to face her again.
"But does this mean you will help me Arokh?" she asked in a shaky voice, feeling nervous and awkward in the dragon’s presence.
"I do not have much choice" he snapped. But if you wish to bond you must show your respect for me and fully understand the rules of the Order."
Rynn shrugged and said "So, yeah, I suppose so."
"Fine." Arokh replied. "Kneel before me and swear that you will respect and honour me and in return Ill be your companion and ally for the rest of your life. We will always be together from this day on. Remember that. Treat me with disrespect and you will bear the consequences."
Rynn didn't bother to ask what the 'consequences' were and dropped to one knee at Arokh's feet. She looked up into his eyes and said, "I swear" and just for good measure went down on her hands and knees and kissed his left foot. She stood up and looked him in the eye.
"I didn't tell you to get up!" he shouted.
Rynn straightway knelt back down and looked up at him, her heart pounding.

Arokh smiled to himself and continued "Good, now there are certain things I must tell you about the bond. First of all, any pain and injuries I suffer, you too will share. And if I am killed, your fate will be worse than death. You will be pleased to know that you will benefit from a longer life. You will age at the same rate as me and die when I die of natural causes."
Rynn knew the fate would mean her becoming a soul shadow and shortly replied "I understand."
"You seem too sure." He said in a quieter voice and seeing that Rynn did not reply he continued. "Very well Rynn, if you wish to bond with me simply say by fire and by blood I join with thee in the Order of the Flame" his stern voice echoing in the circular cave.
Rynn thought for a moment. Surely Arokh's attitude towards her would change once they had bonded and she could prove him wrong that she was not a 'pathetic peasant girl'.
Not bothering to ask any more questions and without fully thinking, she slowly stood up and walked over to the opposite side of the soul crystal so it was between her and Arokh and repeated the words Arokh had just said.

As the last word left her lips, Rynn could feel herself being lifted into the air by an unseen force. She looked across at Arokh who was opposite her hovering in the air and the glow from the soul crystal spread out around the cavern like lightning and touched them both. Pain began to fill her body but she did not cry out. Then, just as it started it was over and she slowly drifted down to the floor.

Something was different though; an indescribable feeling, somehow she felt the dragon's power within her and she smiled to herself.
"Congratulations, Rynn. You are now a member of the Order of the Flame" Arokh welcomed.
"Lets get going!" Rynn said as she walked up to Arokh. He dipped to let her onto his back, which she climbed on with ease as if she had been doing it all her life.
"By the way, you don't have to hold on, magic holds you to my back during flight" Arokh said.
"This is easier than I thought,” Rynn thought to herself as she settled between his shoulders, his soft but yet strong scales surprisingly comfortable, padded by the powerful muscles beneath them.
"What about your soul crystal?" Rynn asked tapping the dragon on the neck thinking he had forgotten it. He grunted in reply "It will be safer where it is."

Together, the pair flew up to the hole in the roof of the cave and over the wilderness back towards Rynn's village eventually arriving at the tunnel leading under the mountains Rynn visited earlier. The journey only took a few minutes making Rynn's attempt at covering the same distance seemingly pathetic.
Arokh landed and together they walked into the tunnel, the river flowing noisily beside them. She hadn’t quite grasped the situation that she was now bonded to something of legend, something that was once the saviour of mankind, a hero.

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