Epilogue
A Troubled Slumber

AT 1085 (AZ 1457) - Late Winter
Hall of the Dragon King, Valley of Tiamat

The cursed wound burned. It burned without ceasing. How many moons had waxed and waned and yet it still burned as much as the day it was first inflicted on him? Would that he could once more take that thrice-damned rebel in his jaws. There would be no escape and she would pay in full for her insolence. The thought comforted him somewhat, but it was a comfort that brought little relief.
There was, perhaps, a greater curse afflicting him than the wound that would not heal. There was no hiding the fact that he led his people to a miserable defeat, the likes of which had never been seen before. It was one thing for Dragon to fall to Dragon, but for so many Dragons to be slaughtered by creatures so insignificant as humans was a disgrace Xorgoth could never overcome, not even if he made all the world bow to him as the undisputed King of everything under the heavens.
He needed rest for his body to heal. Ten years, twenty, thirty, or even a hundred. He had time enough. Once he was healed, he could restore his lost honor and remind his enemies why he was King. Healing came first, though. He could not bear the torment any longer. When he entered into his slumber, he would notice little of the burning pain that threatened to drive him mad.
While he slept fitfully in his chamber, the world around him was not entirely subdued. He was aware of what was going on around him. He heard almost as keenly as if he were still awake.
"You cannot enter," one of the guards said.
"I do not mean to enter," a voice replied.
It was Xorud, son of Xorun, who was named Steward of the Valley in Xorgoth's absence. Like Xordun and Xordor, he descended from the line of Xoratha. He was second in line to the throne until Xorgoth's own son Xormoth hatched while he was away in the Darklands. What business did he have here? Did he dare to mean treachery?
"He is not worthy to be called King," Xorud said. "He led our people to humiliation and defeat, The blood of our slain brethren calls out for vengeance, for judgment."
"You cannot enter," the guard repeated, too stupid to say anything more.
"I said I do not mean to enter," Xorud said. "I mean for no one to enter and no one to exit ever again. Stand down. You are no longer needed here."
"The King has ordered us to--"
"I AM KING!" Xorud roared. "The elders have decided. Xorgoth is your King no more. You will do as I command or you will share his fate!"
Xorgoth stirred. The elders had turned against him? Impossible. Not once in six thousand years had the elders stood against a reigning King. How could they begin to do so now?
"Stand down," a raspy old voice said. "Xorud is our King now. His commands we obey."
It was Rohanshalashak, the Chief Elder of the Red Dragons. Next to the King, his was the voice they would obey before all others. If the guards left their posts, Xorgoth would be left defenseless. It would take time to fully awaken and even if Xorgoth could wake in time, Xorud was younger and stronger and he was not alone. Xorgoth stood little chance of surviving, but at the very least he could die in such a way that none would forget that he was indeed King of Dragons. If only he could wake up sooner.
However, Xorud said he did not mean to enter the King's chamber and he actually meant what he said. After a moment of silence, presumably time enough for the guards to slink away, Xorud said, "Seal him in."
He was to be trapped in his chamber to slowly starve to death? Would his cousin truly show the throne so little dignity by subjecting him to such a fate? Even the rankest cowards were given the opportunity to die fighting and prove themselves true Children of Tiamat in death. Xorud would deny him even that.
It took hours for Xorgoth to fully rouse himself, but by then it was too late. His chamber was sealed fast. He clawed in vain at the tightly-packed rock secured by the seals of the court sorcerers. There was no getting out, at least not in the state he was in. He needed his rest. Just a little time to recover himself and when he was healed, no rock, no sorcerer's seal would hold him. He would remind them all who was the true King of Dragons, teach them all a lesson they would never forget. All in good time.
His wound burned anew. He breathed a curse against the one who cursed him as drifted back into his slumber. Once the pain left him, it would be his turn to inflict pain. It was this thought that comforted for what little comfort he could find in his troubled sleep.