Dragon Friend

Master : A player of the Great Game. Must be clever enough to modify cultures and races, cruel and manipulative enough to wish to do so, and awesomely powerful enough to withstand the culture's desire for revenge.

I reigned in far too sharply. The mayor's horse had been nervous all along, picking up my mood The sudden shift caused him to dance. On the edge of the forest stood an elf woman, slender and tall, dressed in a simple grey working garment that the elves would consider practical for hunting troll, man or beast. It was none the less far more elegant in it's simplicity and perfect cut than Manchester's clumsy attempts at raiment suitable for dragon gift. Grey? I blinked, thinking the Starsight spell. Her suit flared into a brilliant color for which the humans have no name, centered well up in the ultraviolet spectrum. It was the house color of the Elafayin, the Riders of Elar. Her eyes were a deep blue, rather than the usual elfin green, matching precisely the sky straight above. Elfin women normally wear their hair long, straight, and in one of three distinct styles. They were thus either 'paired,' 'single and interested,' or 'single and content.' Her hair was a mass of untamed curls, following no plan, generating the effect of a small cloud on a summer's day. On her breast was a small emblem, the dagger of the Elafayin, under a coronet indicating her to be the Lady of her house.

There are roughly eight hundred dragons, scattered about the world. Young or old, they represent as much trouble as a anyone would want to get into. There are only seven Masters at any given time, and each in his or her own way is worse. As an individuals, the Masters create troubles on a far larger and far more massive scale than any dragon, excepting he who is both, the Master of Dragons, Imyr the Holocaust. Masters of the Great Game vie to shape the whole world to their image of what it should be. They think of dragons, kings, gods and whole races alike as pawns to be shifted about on their game board. Their power is great. Their mercy doesn't exist. Talora's presence here changed everything, or perhaps nothing.

I ran the list. Odin will drag you to his gallows-alter by a noose around your neck. Kali death dancer will cut you with many swords, carefully, so her torturers will be able to worship her properly. Great Cthulhu will strip your sanity forever from you mind, not with his glance, but with yours. Flight from Imyr the Holocaust's first rampage had caused a massive migration of humans away from his lair. The armies of the Roman Empire and staggered and fell trying to stem that tide of panicked and desperate refugees. Gorumthar of Trollheim's fires are slower. He will roast you alive over an open pit, slowly, and serve you at troll feast. Beelzebub's fires are both slow and hot, and you will pay for all eternity as the price of his aid.

But Talora will sit you down at her side at a high feast table. You will starve to death because she keeps you too busy talking and listening to eat. Listen to her advice, and you can not win. Disregard her advice and you lose. Close your ears, and find yourself friendless. Open them, and find death. While the other Masters rule through trickery, threat, or brute force, Talora's prime weapon is a forked tongue. During World War III, she had organized the human defense of North America, rallied the mixed human-elfin-sidhe defense of Britain, retrieved the Holy Grail for the Christians, a Raven Banner for the vikings, stole the Spirit Set of the Amerinds, then returned it, blocked the triumphant return of Arthur to the throne of England, reworked Draconic culture by issuing Talora's Laws, and rebuked God, saying "If Your kingdom is not of this world, then begone until You've matured enough to take responsibility for Your own inaction." All the while she was uttering praise for the plans and motivations of Dark Lord, Dardan, who was trying with great vigor and success to slay most everybody everywhere.

After the crisis, someone pointed out that in working with almost everyone involved in all sides of the war, she must have betrayed someone. She considered this for a few minutes, and replied. "I'm sure you must be right. I'm just not sure who." That pronouncement opened a new and fascinating inquiry for scholars of all races and political affiliations. No solid defence has been proposed to prevent her from pulling such stunts again.