Chapter 1
Off to the Front

AT 1082 (AZ 1454) - Early Spring
Hall of the Dragon King, Valley of Tiamat

After three failed expeditions to uncover the relics of Xargos, the quest became a distant thought in Xorgoth's mind. Without a particular goal in sight, life moved at a slow pace for Dragons. Ordinarily, there was no great urgency in their day-to-day affairs. Once you achieved your station, there was little to do but settle in. In fact, Xorgoth was seriously contemplating a hibernation when the Dragons' lazy days were suddenly disturbed.
"Your Majesty, there is an intruder," one of the guards said. "An alien presence... A shadowy power..."
Xorgoth sensed it as well. It was no Dragon, but what creature would be foolish enough to enter into the sacred Valley of Tiamat, even into this very hall?
From the long shadow cast by Xorgoth's throne emerged a dark figure. It looked much like a human, but its power was something quite different. What was it supposed to be?
Xordor, an impetuous young prince, took it upon himself to challenge the intruder.
"Interloper! You dare to pollute this holy ground!?"
The strange creature did not quail at the sight of a full-grown Black Dragon in all his fury. He did not even bend an inch.
Surprisingly, the creature spoke in the tongue of Dragons, to Xorgoth directly, saying, "I am not interloper but emissary. The Monarch Lich summons you, O King of Dragons. With all haste, to the Darklands come with fifteen hundred of your kind."
"The conditions of our league was for a thousand," Xorgoth said.
"The conditions have changed," the creature replied. "Or would you defy my master? The consequences would be... dire."
The creature stretched out its hand and Xordor let out a terrible screech, collapsing to the floor, writhing and thrashing about in agony. Black lines like veins spread out across the yellow scales of his underbelly and began to swell. It was strange dark power capable of laying low even a Black Dragon. It was the power of the seed of the Dark Race transmitted through his proxy before them.
The whole court was astir but none more than Xordor's own father.
"Xordor!" he cried.
"Release him!" Xorgoth demanded. "The seed of the Dark Race will have his Dragons. I will lead them myself."
No sooner than the words were spoken, the creature withdrew his hand and the black veins receded. Xordor's thrashing stilled and he was silent a moment before recovering his senses and rising back up in a daze. The court was quiet and still as a tomb.
The creature broke the tense silence, saying, "My master will be pleased to hear it. Make all due haste, King of Dragons."
Sinking into the shadows, the creature was gone. Anger and humiliation burned in Xorgoth's breast, but he dared not defy the seed of the Dark Race after that demonstration of power. His servants would scour the Darklands from one corner to the next if needed to find the relics of Xargos. Once his power was magnified by that of the relics, he would avenge the insult of this day. He had but to bear the shame a little while longer.