Human Histories (Lanival's Tale)

Author:  Bard Silvyrfrost
Source:  Academy of Learning of Riverhaven

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: The Immortal Ten
Chapter Three: Lanival the Redeemer


Chapter One: "Introduction"

There are ten names in the time to which all follow -- and each is that of people or things.  Those names are Akroeg the Ram, Ka'len the Sea Drake, Lirisa the Archer, Shorka the Cobra, Uthmor the Giant, Arhat the Fire Lion, Moliko the Balance, Skullcleaver the Dwarven Axe, Dolefaren the Brigantine, and Nissa the Maiden.

All know of the clans, and the Great Empire that rose from the ashes of the wars of the races and the clans.  All know of how this Empire lasted and lasted, and finally fell to decay and shadow, a shamble of jumbled alliances and broken promises.  And how, from these ashes, arose a new Phoenix, known as the Dragon Priests, and from them, the Dragon's War, and from this the state of the world as we know today.  But in the winding threads of every one of these tales there are faces that have surfaced and left hard imprints on the mind of the thriving creatures known as Humans.

Lanival the Redeemer once said, "Those who are known with snorts of derision as Humans, are only treated so because they are feared.  In the mortal brevity lies a desire to accomplish much before Time cuts their strings, and in this they find the comfort that change is their immortality."

That Lanival himself was not really true Human is of no concern; he was more Human than he was Elven, and it was Humans who accepted him, and Humans who he came closest to understanding.

So, while this accounting may not be entirely about Humans, it is Human in that each is connected to one great Human, Lanival the Redeemer, who I shall speak of after I have told the tale of the others.


Chapter Two: "The Immortal Ten,"

The Immortal Ten

======
Akroeg
======

Akroeg the Ram laid down the tracks to the Empire.  A king amongst lords, he was a noble man who was the son of a clansman.  At that time, clans were scattered and many, each one quibbling and snarling at the other, none attempting unity.  Even with the disaster of the Elven-Human wars, the quibbling still continued, albeit lessened.

Akroeg was the first of his people to try and unite clans.  His attempts were a mingling of soft words and a thick fist.  His greatest virtue was his fairness; not only to his own clansmen but to those he united.  His offer was this:  join his clan, and those who did would be treated with equality.  Fail to, and he would bring combat down on them, until in subversion they were won.  Those who fought him were not given instant equality in the Clan of the Ram, but their children were, and any who swore allegiance to Akroeg and his line.

Akroeg did not treat himself as the one and only ruler.  Indeed, while he was identified as the leader, he was in fact only one amongst many counselors.  Each time a clan was added to Akroeg's, their past leader (assuming he or she still lived) was taken in as a counselor to the clan (assuming the clan had willingly joined).  This idea -- quite new in world of benevolent despots -- was to be the basis of the Seven Star Empire.

Akroeg sired ten children with his wife, Lirum.  She herself was a great and noble woman, although not as visible as her husband.  Still, the realm of Therengia saw fit to include her face on their currency when time came to choose such.

Akroeg died in a snowy battle in the wild northern wastes that lie beyond Therengia.  His son, Verek, took up his position.  His fairness was testimony that Akroeg's blood bred true, for when the Empire was established it was created on the foundations of Akroeg's ideas, and it was one of his descendants who was the first among Humans to sit at the table of counselors.

======
Ka'len
======

Ka'len -- called the Sea Drake -- was the master of the Dolefaren, a great ship of war.  Ka'len himself was a spunky Halfling with a massive mop of black hair and one eye lost from past battles.  Dolefaren has been identified over time to be an Old Gamgweth word for 'Victory'.

Ka'len was active in the Resistance Wars, when the Seven Star Empire was just beginning to fall.  A master of ambush on the sea, Ka'len both boarded and rammed ships, although it is said he used that last only when the first was not possible (some say out of pity for the enemy, some say because an intact ship is worth more than a sinking one, I am partial to believe it was both).  Ka'len was called a pirate and a friend by Lanival in the early wars.

As Lanival's right hand maritime warlord, Ka'len supported the great wizard in his tireless work to split the Empire into the five Realms.  Ka'len ultimately met his end in the straits of the Segoltha Sea, narrowed in by five enemy Elven warcraft.  Although he carried two of the ships with him, he and the Dolefaren sunk in the icy sea, forever lost, to Lanival's sorrow.

======
Lirisa
======

Lirisa the Archer was a Ranger and -- or so it is rumored -- may have had Elven blood in her.  Some claim she was a daughter of the Huntress Sable, who in turn was the daughter of Sorril.  Lirisa neither confirmed or denied the rumors.

Lirisa was a devout follower of Kuniyo.  A tireless tracker and incredibly competent hunter, her arrows never missed their mark.  She brought to justice several traitors of the Empire, bringing each down with one shot from her silvered bow.  Another of Lanival's close friends, she also neither denied or confirmed the rumors that she and the Redeemer's right hand mage -- Arhat -- were lovers.

Lirisa appeared and disappeared with enviable silence.  The only mark of her arrival was the whistle of an arrow and then the blooming of a shaft in a chest, neck, or eye.  Her last hunt she never returned from, although it is known that the man she hunted -- an Elven warlord -- did fall.  It is believed that she was badly injured in her last trip out with her bow, and probably died someplace in the forest.

Rumors persist that Lirisa became a saint of Rangers, appointed by Kuniyo, and some Rangers claim to have been guided along their life by a slim, almost Elven Human with pale blonde hair and glowing green eyes.  These tales may or may not be the product of active imaginations -- even if they are, Lirisa is still revered by Rangers, and some carry images of her in their pockets alongside holy symbols of Kuniyo.

======
Shorka
======

Shorka the Cobra was a S'kra Mur who was the first to join with Lanival to create the five realms that exist today.  Shorka, to whom the S'kra Mur have varying opinions of, was also one of the first people to openly worship the World Dragon.

Shorka's main claim to fame was her ability to convince the S'kra Mur that what Lanival wished was for the best.  Not an easy task, since Lanival was Human (or partly).  Shorka lived a long life, through the hardships of the Resistance Wars, and eventually retired as a politician with many children amongst her clutch and a home in the sands northwest of Therengia.

======
Uthmor
======

Large even for a Gor'Tog, Uthmor the Giant earned his namesake when he was still a toggler, carrying it to his headstone.  His size often made people underestimate his intelligence, a dangerous thing indeed.  Uthmor was a tactical genius.  Born into a family of slaves owned by a rich S'kra Mur (Gor'Tog slavery was not totally abolished amongst S'kra Mur, and those who could still afford them kept them), he was released from this captivity when a band of Lanival's men swept through Uthmor's master's home.  At the time, Uthmor was ten -- his parents were dead from ill treatment and his brothers and sisters had been sold off or died in the same way as his parents.  A Lorthew named Benjor -- who happened to be one of Lanival's counselors -- saw the young orphan decided to take the toggler in and educate him.

When Uthmor reached eighteen, it was already obvious from his bruised sparring partners and often heated debates with Benjor that he was an unusually talented 'Tog.  He helped to change Lanival's men from a band of energetic warriors to a corps of trained warriors.  He became invaluable after the battle at the Segoltha River, where he cornered the S'kra Mur war party and cut them down with minimal losses.

Lanival made Uthmor his honorary General, and left much of the battle planning to the 'Tog.  The Resistance Wars ended two years later thanks to Uthmor's tactical execution and his cooperation with Arhat, the Human Warrior Mage.

Uthmor's main weapon was a massive axe given to him by the Dwarven King Hexoch.  Legend has it that the weapon's name was much more elaborate and involved than "Skullcleaver", but the 'Tog disliked long names, and opted for the simpler -- and he said, more appropriate -- one.

Skullcleaver was lost after Uthmor's death. Its location is as yet unknown.

=====
Arhat
=====

Arhat the Fire Lion was to magic what Uthmor the Giant was to combat.  An incredibly competent and original Warrior Mage, Arhat was a little crazy, but still very good at what he did.  Keenly in touch with the fire elements, his bright red hair and gleaming blue eyes made him a favorite among the ladies and a force to be feared among the enemy.

Arhat went on to establish the first of what would be the nine guilds of the Realms.  Previous to his arrival, most mages were trained individually or learned from books as they went along.  Arhat insured consistency where otherwise there was none (which had sometimes lead to painful and frequently lethal "accidents").

Arhat died of old age, one week after Uthmor passed away due to the same causes.  Some believe that the two were such good friends, neither could live without the other.

======
Moliko
======

Moliko, a quiet and beautiful Elothean woman, oversaw the writing of the laws for much of the original Empire.  Black of hair and silver of eye, she was firm in her convictions, and it was her idea to employ a single guard for all the Empire rather than allowing merchants to hire their own. "Justice for all," was her motto.

Lanival followed Moliko's ideals very closely, and quoted her frequently.  Her decrees still color many lawmakers today.

=====
Nissa
=====

Nissa the Maiden was an Elven lady who escaped the warlord Teiro's ironclad fist during the beginning of the Resistance Wars.  The story of her arrival into Lanival's army is that she -- a healer for Teiro's men -- had come upon Teiro and some of his captains testing a whip out on the back of a Human child they had found.  Outraged, Nissa had cast a sleep spell upon the Elven lords and then plucked the child from the post where they had bound him.  She then mounted the closest steed and rode it into Lanival's camp under a black flag of peace.

Lanival was charmed by the elegant lady's strength of will and calm insights.  She eventually became his closest and dearest advisor.  An Empath, it is said Nissa was kept near at hand by Lanival to remind him that while war may be necessary, bloodshed must be avoided at all cost.  Nissa stayed with Lanival for many long years, but when Lanival was captured by Lord Teiro, she offered herself to the evil Elven lord in exchange for Lanival.  Teiro may have hated Lanival, but he despised Nissa for leaving him and for being outcaste.  An upstart was one thing.  A traitor to the Elven Clans -- that was insufferable.  True to his word, he released Lanival, but not before he slew Nissa before the Redeemer's eyes.

If Teiro planned this to humiliate the Redeemer's army, he was wrong.  The Elven lord's armies were crushed by Lanival's enraged men and women, and Lanival borrowed Uthmor's axe specifically for the purpose of Teiro's head in the final battle.

Nissa's body was never recovered, but Lanival carried a symbol of her -- a ring of clasped silver hands -- forever with him, and many believe that if Lanival ever had a true love, it was her.


Chapter Three: "Lanival the Redeemer"

====================
Lanival the Redeemer
====================

Lanival was born the son of Sorril and Kanton, and raised partially by members of Kanton's Clan until Akroeg arrived and invited the clan to become part of his.  The young Lanival, who most considered lazy and often annoying, watched with disinterest as his clan became dissolved into Akroeg's, and eventually wandered off to teach himself the ways of the Warrior Mage.

Lanival spent many hundreds of years as a vagabond, flitting from place to place in life with little care for himself or anyone else.  His sister, Sable, remained with her clan, and was later appointed by Akroeg as the "Protector" or "Huntress" of all clans.  Sable mostly avoided her brother after he left, although from time to time he would appear and they would speak.  Mostly, however, the twins remained apart.

=================
Lanival's Journey
=================

Lanival was a thin, intense young man.  Dark haired and bright eyed, he was charming despite being a nuisance to many.

Lanival's drifting eventually drew him into a place to the south of what would become the present-day Zoluren.  In the range below Leth Deriel -- the mountains known as the Spine of the World Dragon -- Lanival began to hunt the caverns and hills, searching for the creature for which the range was named.

For a long time Lanival wandered the mountains, relying on his hunting skills and his magics to survive.  What he did not expect, however, was to be struck by a disastrous blizzard while in a cave near Icespear Reach.  Stuck for nearly a week, he subsisted on what food he had, then had to resort to eating his leather backpack.  When this ran out and the storm had abated enough for him to struggle into the snowy wastes, he found no landmarks to identify where he was, and no prey to hunt for food.

Lanival wandered for another week, becoming delusional toward the end.  With nothing to eat but snow and the withered leaves of a few trees that he stripped of vegetation, he was weak and close to death when he stumbled across a cave high up in the mountains.  With what remained of his strength, he dragged himself inside the cave, lit a small fire with his spells and curled up near the warmth, hoping that should death visit him, it would be from starvation and not hypothermia.

What Lanival failed to notice in his weakened state was that he had stumbled upon the cave of a creature very much like that which he had sought out.  As he laid down beside the fire, the dragon, just awakening from slumber at the sound of magical words being spoken, watched with curiosity as the not-quite-Human and not-quite-Elven mage fell asleep.

Well aware of what most mortals thought of his kind, the dragon -- whose name was Glacis -- altered his form into that of a mortal and moved Lanival further inside the cave and closer to a larger fire that the dragon himself built up.  And then he waited.

===============
Lanival's Dream
===============

While Lanival awoke many times -- and was tended generously by Glacis -- mostly he dreamt, and in his dreams he walked....

From Lanival's Journal:

It has been a while since I have been strong enough to write.  My friend Glacis has been keeping a careful eye on me and has only just now allowed me to take up quill and paper to scribe these things.

I had never met my mother before, but in my dreams, I saw her.  She was very pretty, much more so than the clansmen had ever reported, and she was sad.  In her eyes I saw that I had somehow shamed her, but when I asked her what was wrong she said nothing.

My father, also, was there.  It was clear that he, too, was disappointed with me in some inexplicable way.  His eyes reminded me of the hawk's -- very much like my sister's -- and I felt like the prey.  I could not hold his gaze for long, and when again I asked, what was the matter, he did not answer, only folding his arms across his chest and challenging me to meet his eyes.

I do not know how I *knew* these two to be my parents, but I knew it.  I saw bits and pieces of myself in both of them, and I figured that the only two who would concern themselves with my fate were them.  And somehow...I knew...they were displeased with me.

My sister also, I saw.  Crouched by a firering, the flames drawing shifting lines on her face.  She looked up and smiled, raising her cup, and I wondered that she could see me.  And then she said, "I see you have got yourself killed at last, Lan."  And she shook her head, laughing, and I knew that what she saw of me was an apparition.  And I wondered that I was not yet an apparition....

And then it seemed that I walked beyond my family, and into other families, and I saw the way the Empire was falling.  I saw petty squabbles disintegrating families and getting children killed.  I saw on a scope wider than just me, to everyone.  It was as if I saw all for a brief moment, and FELT all.  Every small ache and pain...like it was MY pain.

It was then I knew what a waste my life had been.

When Lanival's fever finally broke, Glacis helped the young man to return to health.  He gave Lanival books to read and kept the delirium from returning with herbal mixtures.  When Lanival was finally well enough to walk around, he was pensive, pacing about the cave with his mind deep in thought.  He talked for long hours with Glacis, who knew much in the way of the world, telling Lanival stories of the times before the clans, before many of the races, even.

One night before he was to leave, Lanival had another dream.  This time, his dream was of the land he knew so well.  He saw it from the raven's view, stretching out from the deserts and mountains to the north to the forests to the south.  Suddenly, the land buckled and rippled, and a dragon's head rose up from the water of the Eastern Ocean, its maw wide open and its eyes blazing.  It breathed, and fire flew from its steel-trapped jaws and spread over the land.  But instead of consuming it, it drew lines over everything, separating the great Empire into five separate realms.

When Lanival awoke, it was to a feeling of conviction.  He parted ways with Glacis, thanking him heartily, but not before Glacis told him that, if need be, the mage could return to him.

=============
Lanival's Foe
=============

Meanwhile, as Lanival wandered, his greatest foe was beginning to marshal his forces.

Teiro was born of good Elven breeding and fought in the Elven-Human Wars as a scout.  His fine fighting abilities and keen eye for finding the weak spots in people and strongholds resulted in many promotions, but even his fervor did not save his people.  Angrily, he watched as what he considered to be weak leadership draw the Elven folk into a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Humans.  Perhaps the worst of it all was the Dwarven retaliation, and the "reparations" they forced on the Elves.

The years of peace at the creation of the Empire was tedious to the war-thrilled Teiro.  He married, had children, and began to find a modicum of happiness in the complacency of a plot of land and a pack of peasants until his wife (who he was very close to) died with many other high Elven officials -- including the Elven ruler -- when a Moon Mage spell set to transport them from place to place misfired, killing them instantly.  This reawoke the anger in Teiro, leaving him now not only frustrated, but also in mourning.

His wife was a great and noble woman, a wizard of high power and a member of the Elven council that the Elven nation's ruler convened with on all decisions.  After her death, her daughter (Nissa) took her place, and Teiro was elected as the Elven nation's ruler, also known as The Voice.

Regretfully, while many thought this decision wise -- Teiro was a well-bred war hero decorated with countless medals and a great love for the Elven people -- Teiro had twisted from whatever he may have once been.  When the Empire collapsed, he saw his chance -- and took it.

Rallying some of the "old-guard" Elves, he began to form an army.  When the Council argued against him -- Nissa at the forefront -- he had over half of them assassinated, and quickly bullied his own child into silence.

And that was when the Elven Lord began to take his revenge on the Humans who, in his regard, had stolen the glory of the Ilithi nation.

====================
Lanival's Redemption
====================

When Lanival returned to the Empire -- not the same as the man who had left it -- he found his dreams to be all too true.  The land was in turmoil, the wars raging similar to the great Elven-Human War to which his parents had been so key to.  With the aid of his sister, Lanival began to unite the clans once more -- as Akroeg had done seven hundred years previous -- and with them he began to wage a campaign against the chaos of the Empire and especially the Elven lord Teiro who was trying to reclaim the Empire as his.

The wars lasted for nearly twelve years.  The first five were the best for Lanival and his men, and the last two the grimmest.  Lanival's dream -- to make the Empire into separate realms that would be more manageable but still retain the purpose of Moliko the Balance's laws -- finally became realized on the day of his Victory over Teiro.

=================
Lanival's Victory
=================

          Lord Teiro we are coming
          No matter what the cost
          Lord Teiro can you hear us?
          The voice of those who were lost

          Our sisters, and our brothers
          Our children and our wives
          Our husbands and our families
          Are screaming for your life

           You can walk with a thousand regrets
          But the people do not forget.

The final battle between Lanival's corps and Teiro's armies was met on the bloody fields below the Spine Mountains.  It was a final battle where both sides were equally matched, and both sides were ready to fight to the death.

Lanival was, by now, sick of the fighting, while Teiro was not only delighting in it, but desperate.  At all costs, he was willing to extend it, and so it was that he revealed a spell of power from ages before.  The same one that had caused the loss of several S'Kra Mur men and women in the Elven-Human wars.

Scoffing at claims that the Guardians would come and put an end to his magic, Teiro had the spell cast anyway.  It blasted into the Redeemer's men and women, destroying one third of two of his seven companies.  Uthmor immediately called retreat, and Lanival brought all the commanders together for a meeting.

Hope was bleak.  There was literally nothing they could do to stop the mad lord's power.  At dawn, they knew, they would have to make the decision to fight a hopeless battle, or surrender.

What Lanival did then would put his name forever into the histories.  Leaving the tent and its contemplators behind, he walked away from the camp.

(The next section is in Lanival's own words, more fitting than my own.)

When I left the camp, I was not sure what I was doing or where I was to go.  I like to think that during my state of wandering (a dangerous time, indeed, for who knows what foul villain could have snuck up upon me and killed me or brought me again to Teiro's throne?)  I was guided by the insights of Nissa, but I am not sure that is so.  I would say that I imagined I heard her voice, talking to me as she was oft to do, soothing me as only her words could.

When I came to the edge of the forest that hedged in the back of our army I stood for a long time and gazed at the trees.  It was then that I finally emerged from my stupor, and wondered where it was I had wandered to.  I felt a chill of fear, for I realized when I looked behind, I could not see the armies.  I could not smell the blood.  And I wondered if I *had* been murdered, and now stood upon the Plane Between, where Urrem'tier sends those he is waiting to place judgment on.

Then movement in the forest caught my eye, and I saw what I would never think to see at this moment.  It was Glacis, my old friend and caretaker.  I stared at him for a long moment, and then bowed, not sure if it was trickery or....

"The war tells on you," he said.  "You are not the youngster I knew a few short years ago."

I shrugged.  "All things change."  And then, for I was never one to wait long, I said, "What are you doing here?"

He smiled at me, his eyes going past me to beyond.  I looked over my shoulder, then back at him.  He said, "The war does not go well.  A powerful spell he uses.  An unwise one.  It invites attentions he may not wish...."

I let out a slow breath. "I only wish that it would."

"Perhaps it has," Glacis said, and there was a rustling near him.

Something opened its eye beyond him.  And when I say it opened its eye, I do not say this because I saw a face and then one eye open.  All I *saw* was the eye.  One giant, golden, luminescent eye.  I shouted and pushed him aside, drawing my sword as I prepared a spell.

Glacis' voice -- but much louder now -- spoke behind me, "Do not attack your allies, Lanival!"

I turned toward him, but my old friend stood no more behind me.  In his place was something massive.  Incredibly large, I would say it approached the size of four Water Clan longhouses in length, several stories in height.  I stared up at what few have ever seen and the gods alone know why I did not fall to my knees.  It is not every day one meets a dragon.

Glacis spoke, his voice loud and ringing like silver bells, "Once we were known as Guardians.  Some of us have remained so, observing the world and using their Great Magicks to bend things around in favor or against some mortals who dwell on their world.  And some of us who desired to be closer to those mortals we felt we were too distant to chose a new form.  We fashioned it after a fury you may have known as the World Dragon.  As terrible as that being is, it is still an elegant form with much power in it.  It is the closest we can come to donning our true form without appearing as a god."

Two more floated out of the sky to land beside him.  One I recognized by her luminescent golden eyes, and she identified herself as Eerayn.  She was a shimmer of gold and rainbows, but I find it hard to describe her.  Much like describing red to a blind man.  You must see it to understand.

The second was a body of shadow, and the only part of him that stood out were his eyes, which were clear as water.  He was frightening to behold, and something about him unsettled me.  He introduced himself as Silduaa, and I sensed that -- somehow -- he did not like Glacis.

"The Guardians who intervened in the Elven-Human war," Eerayn said, "have chosen not to do so in this one.  We do not question our brothers and sisters, for since our acquiring these forms we no longer see with their scope.  But we who once stood in their council cannot stand by and let happen what we stopped before.  We shall aid you, Lanival, but only until all the mages who know or use the spell have been destroyed or allowed us to pluck it from their mind."

I bowed my head. "It is --"

"Gracious, we know," Silduaa purred, his eyes slitting wide, then tight slowly. "We have our reasons."

I bowed again.  There is a saying among Halflings.  Do not look a gift dragon in the mouth.

"Now, flight is a rare thing," Glacis said.  "And something you should experience, my friend.  It is a long walk back to camp."  He lowered one wing and one lip pulled back in a smile.  "Shall we?"

The war turned in that night from a loss for Lanival's to a staggering win.  Even though Silduaa and Eerayn remained true to their promise to only stay until the spell could no longer be used, their presence struck terror into the hearts of Teiro's army, resulting in a stampede of demoralized soldiers.  To top it off, Glacis did *not* leave as his two brethern did.  The war was quickly over with the help of -- as they became known -- "Lanival's Dragons".

Glacis left as soon as the war was ended.  Once again anonymous in the form of the elderly hermit, he bid Lanival one final farewell.  Again, another log from Lanival's journal.

I was unsure a little of whether dragons drank wine, but Glacis accepted the cup graciously, and settled himself down across from me.

The tent was quiet.  Everything was quiet.  The war had brought a pleasant silence with its ending.

"And now?" Glacis asked, sipping his wine.

"And now?" I echoed, looking up at him.

He gazed at me, then said, "I heard of the woman.  I am sorry."

I nodded, twisting her ring around my finger.  It was too small for all but my littlest finger.  "Aye," I said, then shrugged.  "I have a lot of years left."

"That you do.  Do you think you will make a good ruler?"

I smiled.  "I will not be a ruler at all.  I have no more desire for power.  I know what I will do with the lands...."  I touched the Book of Moliko.  "She wrote it years ago.  Let those who know...rule."  I shook my head.  "I do not know.  I will not rule."

"If not you then...."  And he shot his brow up.  "Who will?"

I smiled.  "The Elven Council have a few remaining -- they shall become whole again, I feel.  The Elotheans also have kept their leader.  Uthmor would, I feel, be a good leader, and some of my other advisors... would that Nissa still lived.  She would have made a Queen as none ever saw...."  I touched her ring again.  "And what happens to the great hero?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said.  "I think he will go back to wandering, or...."  I ran a hand through my hair.  "Perhaps he will wander to another place."  I touched my ring.  "A place where shadows cannot find us."

"And what happens if a new villain rises?  What then?"  "Then they can damn well deal with it themselves," I snapped.  "I'm tired.  I am so *sick* of it all.  I...."  I shut my eyes, realizing I had not drunk any wine.  Perhaps that was what I needed.

Glacis' hand touched my forehead, and from a distance I heard, "Perhaps, for now, you should just...sleep."  And I felt the brush of magic.

When I opened my eyes again, it was dawn.  Glacis was gone, and I knew somehow that he had put me to sleep for a reason.  It took me many nights to realize what he had given me, and when I understood it at last, I laughed.

With the end of the war, Lanival began to divide the lands amongst their peoples.  In the center of what had been the former Empire he established the city called The Crossing, where -- mid-war -- he and his soldiers had captured the Segoltha.  To the Elves and Elotheans he left the ancient Ilithi lands -- and the Spine of the World Dragon Mountains -- and to the Humans he bequeathed all of Zoluren.  Therengia became home to a line of Barons, and the remaining two realms he left to the S'kra, Dwarves, and 'Togs.  The Halflings, ever the wayward types, requested that all lands be their lands, and Lanival ensured this.

His work done, Lanival expressed to his friend and companion Uthmor a deep and abiding weariness.  There were still many who disliked him, and assassination attempts were sporadic but frequent.  The Elves mostly considered him an upstart, and hated him for his heritage.

His final journal entry is perhaps a clue as to what happened to him next.

Few understand.  Uthmor understands, but he has stood on the battlefield amidst the sweat and dust and blood....

Taking a life is not a simple thing.  It is not something you do without thought.  Bards may think so, but I do not.  You *cannot* command armies to slay thousands and *not come out unaffected*.  This is not plucking flowers.  This is a snuffing of candles...of lives.  Everything they are and would have been -- gone.  Nissa taught me that.

I have her blood, my men's blood, the men my men murdered's blood, and my own on my hands.  My soul is a weight, and yet life is now too precious, I realize.  I will not take another life by destroying my own.  So instead, I will...sleep.

Alone, Lanival slipped out of The Crossing and headed south.  He left a note to Uthmor stating he would be gone for a few years...ten at maximum.  What he did not anticipate were the five assassins waiting for him in the mountains.

As the legend goes, he made it nearly to Glacis' home when the five Elven men and women sprung from the snow with knives bared.  He fought well and furiously, but the odds beat him.  Five assassins were dead, but their target was nearly the same, and he dragged himself the rest of the way to the dragon's home, where he collapsed, weakly calling out his friend's name.

Glacis was a healer, but not a profound one.  He knew of a way to save Lanival, but it would be a dragon's healing -- it would take not weeks, but decades.  He made sure his friend trully wanted what it was he would be offering, and then spread the sands of sleep over Lanival's eyes.

Lanival slipped into the magic-induced slumber, wounds no longer bleeding, healing slowly.  Glacis moved him deeper within the cave, ensorceled the cove so it would not be disturbed, and then took up watch at the cavern's maw.

Whether Lanival ever awoke is unknown.  What scraps of legend remain point one way or another like a crazed roadsign.  Some believe he sleeps on still, others that he wanders the realms now, fully healed and under other names.  There are some who also believe he has since passed on to either the netherworld, other realms, or even another world.  The most popular notion is that the sleep Glacis placed him in is spelled so that he awakens when his realms need him most.  And that, once his task is done, he returns to Icespear Reach to once more sleep, and dream of his lady lost.

========== Conclusion ========== 
Lanival's calm attitude, strong insight, ability to stay cool under fire, and ferocity in both hand to hand and magical battle earned him many names, but the one that always stuck was the one attributed to his seemingly inexhaustable wisdom.  Even before Glacis' and his friends intervention, the name that is most closely associated to Lanival came to be.  It is said that Uthmor was the first to begin calling Lanival "the Dragon", and the name always stuck, even up to the formation of the provinces.  So much so, that they are still sometimes referred to as, "The Dragon's Realms".

Whether, someday, Lanival may return...remains to be seen.

By my hand,

Bard Silvyrfrost

(Editor's Note:  There is a story of a highly popular and well-received Paladin of the Gor'Togs who helped drive back the Dragon Priests.  There are further claims that this Gor'Tog was Lanival returned.  Since Lanival's mother was Elven and his father was Human, this claim is, of course, highly dubious to most knowledgable scholars, and the champion himself never substantiated these claims by acknowledging them.  But...as they say in Shard -- "Stranger things have happened.")

End