The first part of a seven story long epic dealing with the rise and fall of Ebonscale, Inferno's biological father and the eldest dragon in existence - like all sagas this will deal with the core elements of the crisis, many smaller stories may emerge with time that deal with how individual characters not listed or fully developed in the "core" story progressed during this time-period.
The scene began late one night on the shores of Avalon, a dark figure dressed in light armor stood atop a cliff overlooking a great ocean - his blood red eyes glowed in the shadows as his dragon-like wings folded over his shoulders like a living cape.
He stared deep into the ocean as the waves crashed against the sides of the cliff below, icy cold wind blew against the figure yet didn't deter him as he stood in silence - with only his thoughts to keep him company:
He was Inferno Pendragon, the "foundling" son of Equinox and Titania - half-brother of Equis.. he was also the husband of Queen Red, father of Sangria and joined ruler of a land with no name.. a land humanity only knew in fairy tales and legends.
Avalon itself was a world of legend, a world that grew with its inhabitants very thoughts - the land created new life with every new emotion it experienced : a blessing and a curse.. Inferno knew only too well of the dangers such magic could spread.
Deep beneath the beauty of Avalon lay Tartarus, a realm of punishment for criminals so demented even the gods could no longer bare to tend to them - chained by shackles of their own cruelty and madness these souls were forever changing, just as Avalon did above.. countering every good act with unthinkable evil.. for the wheels of suffering and hate served the purpose of Those Who Dance In Shadow.
Inferno snorted slightly, shaking his mane as he tried to block out the memories of battle that made up most of his life - Credne, Loki, Equinox and Arodnap.. names that haunted him day and night.. names that awoke in him an emotion unlike any other : fear.
As he managed to hide that fear Inferno noticed the ocean begin to bubble as a haunting glow began to come from a large stretch of water below, the skies above crackling with red energy as stormclouds grew - at first Inferno felt it was his own fear causing the change but soon he realized what was truly happening.. at long last the being he had been waiting for was emerging..
The water below erupted into a cauldron of steam and boiling waves as a gigantic dragon ascended, towering over the cliff as heavy scales stood out like ancient armor, burning with intense heat as a pair of glowing red eyes opened, staring down at Inferno below as the beast spoke in a voice like thunder:
"Why are you here? do you not have better things to do than stare into the abyss?"
Inferno looked up and replied, "...I am here to end this.. Ebonscale.. King of Dragons.. you may of given me life, your blood may still run within me but I cast you out.. I am a Pendragon.. though they may not value my life, I still value theirs.. thus I banish you from this land : leave this place.. in the name of Arthur.. in the name of all the Kings before me.. by the blood of Avalon - I end this!"
With those words Inferno began to tremble but wasted little time, forming a small dagger from the primal shadow-energies of Twilight he sliced at one of his arms, causing blood to flow and fall onto the ground - the blood hissed as the ground shook and the storm above clashed with fury.
Yet Ebonscale simply watched, emitting a dark laugh as he spoke, "..you can not banish me, Inferno.. your blood is that of the Midnight Flight.. it has no power over this land.. Arthur is long buried and Equis is but a whelp.. Equinox gave his blood to the Watchers.. it is over now.. the days of the Pendragon.. Avalon has no savior.. now.. I shall end this foolishness myself.."
Before Inferno could say or do anything more Ebonscale unleashed a terrible blast of molten fury from his massive maw, covering the cliff in burning magma - then, as suddenly as he arrived, the great dragon descended back into the ocean waves below..
Chapter 1 - On Broken Wings
Two days later in the Royal Castle of Red a young dragon by the name of Murk paced in circles outside a great door that had been locked shut for hours - many castle guards floated around the many halls and passages as the Queen stayed behind the door alongside her greatest mages and physicians.
The call had gone out to Red's greatest allies - an act of war had been declared, an act so bold it had sent shock across the land.. the great Twilight Prince had been all but burned alive, barely able to move and saved only by a mysterious stranger who dropped him by the edges of Red's Kingdom, the stranger seemed to have tried to heal him but it was only through sheer luck he had survived this long.
Those who knew of the incident feared not only for the life of their co-ruler but also for the prospect of conflict, Red was a formidable monarch - to many she was a tyrant.. now she would no doubt seek vengeance..
A burst of green flame suddenly illuminated the hall, startling several of the guard. The flame dissipated to reveal a tall, cloaked man with emerald hair and golden eyes, who strode forth toward Red. To her and Inferno, the man was known as Arbiter, a Balance-Keeper and longtime ally of theirs.
"How is he?" asked Arbiter.
"Take a look for yourself, Arbiter.." Red replied, motioning to the bed where Inferno lay - the Pegacorn was wrapped from head to toe in bandages and the scent of many exotic herbs and magic elixirs filled the air nearby, a few monk-like healers were kneeling by one side of the bed, as if in prayer.
"..the healers do as they can yet this was a bold move, the stranger had also healed him somewhat yet didn't stay long, we could not even see their face.. you know this is an act of war, don't you? to harm a Monarch.. he shall live.. his attacker will not.." Red said, darkness in her voice.
"You and Inferno are my family in all but blood," said Arbiter. "Let our blades be united in this cause."
"I care little for words, Arbiter - I have called on those close to us to aid.. those who we can trust.. however, there is something I need you to do: something no knight or soldier can be expected to do.." Red replied, walking over to the side of the bed and sitting down by a chair, the shadows making her quite intimidating as her face seems to vanish under her red hood, the candles and incense dancing around the room.
"What would you have of me?" asked Arbiter.
Red remained sinister as she leaned back, the shadows overtaking her face even more - "..soon a group of allies will arrive to aid in slaughtering whoever hurt my Consort - I want you to ensure they do not fail.. I also want you to make sure Sangria doesn't get more ensnared in this bloody war than she must be..".
As if on command the doors open and a small figure is led into the room alongside Murk and a host of guards, a little girl with features very similar to that of Inferno himself but dressed in a manner far too typical of Red.
"..I want my daughter to see her father, Arbiter.. you keep her safe.. tears shall come - I may be her mother but I have nothing I can say to mend her pain.. so I ask you to talk with her and keep her safe.. Misery thrives in silence and I am no comfort.." Red notes, despite caring for Sangria her words held disturbing truth - in times like these she was ill-equipped to comfort her daughter, the animal within called for blood.. yet the woman she once was called for something more.
Arbiter bowed his head in silence; their ally he was, yet he too understood the truth in her words. "You have my word," he said.
The small figure made her way over to the bed alongside Murk and the guards, stopping briefly as she looked over to her father with wide eyes - the shadows parting to show his heavily-bandaged form : even to Arbiter this may be a surprising image, the great Twilight Prince, more vulnerable than he has ever been.. yet stirring as he looks to his daughter and shakily holds out a hand.
Arbiter stood, moving over toward Sangria yet remaining far back enough to give father and daughter their space.
"..the world can be full of fear.. you must learn to live in shadow.. you will understand someday.." Inferno said, Sangria holding his hand as she stared out - her eyes trembling in the candle-light.
"..the shadows protect us, they are our ally.. when the world blocks us out the shadows embrace us.. remember that.. you are a Pendragon.. so, when people make you sad and you want to cry.. remember what I said.. my daughter..".
Red growled audibly as she slowly stood up, moving towards a nearby window - Sangria turns a little to look at her mother but quickly returns her attention to her father : Red leans by the window, still growling as she stared out at the setting.
Sangria looked over to Red and spoke "..mother?" - yet got little response, Inferno letting go of her hand as he sat up.
"..Arbiter.. take Sangria to the Tower.. then return quickly.. I want to talk.. where are the others? did you contact the others?" Inferno said, looking to Red "..Ruichi, Nebula.. Equis.. did you manage to contact them?".
Arbiter gently took Sangria's shoulder. "Come, little one," he said. "Your father will be fine. He is strong. The best we can do is be strong for him."
Red finally spoke, her voice lower than usual, her cloak swaying slightly as she gripped the window with large paw-like hands covered in red fur, her body hunched over as equally large footpaws poked out - "..Equis isn't coming.. I don't know about the others..".
As if on cue, a pink burst of magical energy went off in the corridor, from which Nebula and Ruichi emerged. Nebula barreled past Arbiter, heading over to Inferno.
"Inferno?! Omigosh, what happened?!" she exclaimed, speaking faster than one may have thought possible. "I can fix this, don't worry- I know healing magic- I'll have you standing before you can even comprehend this sentence!"
Ruichi stepped up from behind, maintaining his typical silence, yet worry was evident on his face as he watched Nebula form a ball of green magic in her hands.
Inferno spread out his wings as Nebula fusses over him, yet tries to remain focused on his thoughts "..Equis isn't coming?.. I see.. at least we have some of our old friends.." - a hint of disappointment in his voice, yet he wasn't surprised.
Nebula crushed the magic ball in her hands, forming a sparkling green dust, which she spread in the air over Inferno, allowing it to settle over his body.
"...who did this?" asked Ruichi, breaking his usual silence.
Inferno shakes off his disappointment and replies calmly, "..my father.. my *true* father.. Ebonscale..".
There was a grave pause, as if brought upon by Ebonscale's name. Nebula was the first to break the silence:
"That's horrible! What kind of father would do this to his own son?"
Ruichi shifted uncomfortably, instinctively adjusting his gauntlet, which covered a number of scars arranged like tally-marks. "You have no idea."
Arbiter strode back into the room. "Sangria is in her chambers," he said. "Maria is tending to her now. I've done the best I could to reassure her, but words can only do so much. For her sake, we must remedy this situation as soon as we can."
"Touching.. if futile.. yet you are correct, we must remedy this situation.. and quickly.." a dark voice notes, a pair of yellow eyes forming in a corner of the room as a red figure manifests from the shadows.
Red growls, turning to face the new figure - revealing a bipedal wolf with red fur in place of the former Queen, save for her infamous red cloak which held to her body despite its increased mass :
"..this isn't your concern, Misery.. what do you want? we suffer enough.."
"I decide when you suffer enough and I assure you.. no one can suffer enough.. yet I am not here to speak business, Ebonscale is a danger to us all.. even the Absolutes.. that is why I suggest you seek out Merlin the Great - he guards magic itself and may be able to stop what is about to transpire.." Misery replies, remaining in her corner.
Inferno chuckles, still weak, shifting up as he glances over "..the great Tormenter comes all this way to aid us.. never knew you cared.. at any rate, how exactly are we to seek out Merlin? you Absolutes are everywhere.. Merlin is far less grand.. he takes to solitude..".
"You will learn, Pendragon, that the "gods" you mortals pray to never care to answer your prayers and never come when you are in despair.. I, however, always answer the prayers of my chosen and when you cry alone in the darkness it is I who stands awake with you... seek Merlin out near the Cave of Seers.. now, if you'll excuse me.. I have a multiverse to tend to.. for I *do* care.. more than you think.." Misery replies, disappearing into the shadows before fading away entirely.
Chapter 2 - A Call To Arms
Chapter 3 - In Shadows Dwell..
Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7