Dragon Lair Nesting Grounds Gather Items Clan Profile Hoard Messages Marketplace Auction House Trading Post Crossroads Custom Skins Fairgrounds Coliseum Dominance Forums World Map Search Dressing Room Scrying Workshop Encyclopedia Media Support
Home » Encyclopedia » The Seed And The Sickness
The Seed And The Sickness
It begins.
lore_natureplague8970443.png


A light rain spattered the beach, turning the sand dark and thick. On either side of the strand where Liefa stood, figures hooded in red and green cloth stood at attention.

"Will the new ambassadors of the Plague and Nature flights please approach."

With a deep breath, Liefa took the stage in front of her. The Ridgeback watched her counterpart, Yugona, settle opposite her and felt her spines rise in response. It wasn’t the Bogsneak’s decorative face paint that made Liefa uneasy, but the scars crisscrossing her hide. Liefa couldn’t tell which scars were from battle and which were from disease. And then there was the war mantle of bones around Yugona’s sinewy neck…she shuddered.

Almon, the Earth Flight mediator, solemnly nodded to both ambassadors before addressing the crowd of gathered dragons. "This ceremony serves as recognition of the great war between the Plaguebringer and the Gladekeeper and observes our continued Armistice. The chaos and death from that dark era must never again come to pass. As agreed, the Nature and Plague flights have each selected an ambassador to serve. This dragon will act as both hostage and doombringer. Bearing the blessed weapon of their deity, they will leave their homeland to reside in the domain of their enemies.”

The reminder of the danger that lay only a few feet away caused a wave of unease to ripple through the crowd. Almon held up a claw for silence. He turned to the Bogsneak next to him, “Yugona, please proceed.”

Yugona stepped forward, addressing the assembled dragons. “The Final Infection: Created in the Wyrmwound by our great goddess. This disease can weave its way through land, air, and sea in a matter of days. It is the pandemic to end all others.” Yugona cocked her head at Leifa, flicking her tongue.

Mouth dry, Liefa faced the crowd. An ambassador-elect could step down at any time but an ambassador could not. They must serve their ten years or risk breaking the Armistice. Liefa closed her eyes and made her choice. “The First Seed was nurtured by the Gladekeeper herself, grown and plucked from the highest boughs of the Behemoth. If allowed to germinate, The First Seed will unleash a proliferation of hyperflora, reclaiming the land and all who reside in it.”

”Ambassadors, please take up your vessels.”

Leifa solemnly accepted the small basket from the previous Nature ambassador, holding The First Seed with trembling claws. To her side, Yugona did the same for the Final Infection.

Almon unfurled his wings “It is with great satisfaction that, I, Mediator Almon of the Earth Flight, hereby certify the 452nd recorded Decennial Changing of Guard and decree that another decade of the Armistice stands in effect!”

Her mantle of orange and yellow flowers felt heavy on Liefa’s shoulders as she looked over the crowd of cheering dragons.



--


It had been several months since Liefa had taken up residence in the Scarred Wasteland, and the experience thus far had not been as unpleasant as she’d feared. Having grown up on horror stories and dark legends about the Plaguebringer's humid hellscape, she was surprised to find the living conditions agreeable. The embassy was located in what the Plague dragons called a "quarantine zone.” This parcel of land was unaffected by contagion, the ground covered in an abundant swath of healthy trees and shrubs. They had told her that despite the area being necessary for her to live safely within the Scarred Wasteland, quarantine zones were also an effective tool used for the testing of strains of virus.

Liefa maintained living quarters within the Viridian Embassy. The area was under constant surveillance by ceremonial Boneguards. Her residence was located underneath a large oak tree. Beneath its ancient roots were a series of chambers that Nature Flight ambassadors had been using for hundreds of years, and she found that she wanted for nothing. For her own personal quarters, Liefa had chosen a modest-sized hollow; she decorated it with the leaves and dried flowers she was permitted to bring with her.

Her eyes settled on a small wooden basket set upon a dais near her bed. Within that basket, the First Seed pulsed, waiting to grow and flourish, to turn the world green. Shaking the thought away, Liefa settled herself into a pile of pillows, vines, and leaves to watch the sunset. The landscape was not the same, but even in the brown and hazy sky, she found a sense of peace. It did not take long before she drifted off to sleep.



--


Liefa dreamt of the Labyrinth.

She wandered its green paths. Spreading her wings, she soared to the top of the canopy, listening to the birds call. In her dreams, she would soar through the maze of branches for hours, absorbing the green beauty of home. A tree appeared on the horizon, taller than any other the world had known.

The Behemoth, she realized, flying faster towards the great tree. She landed on one of its massive branches, resting her head against its trunk with a contented sigh.

SICK...



--


Liefa lurched awake, scattering the pillows and leaves she’d been sleeping on. Above her, she saw a flash of darkness and heard the skitter of claws as something landed in the dirt. Liefa snarled and rose to her feet as the room spun.

"Who's there?!" she rasped, her voice hoarse. It felt as if something sharp was lodged in her throat. She wobbled unsteadily into the night air. She could barely discern claw marks on the ground, but it was impossible to judge what had made them. They ended just a few feet from the oak, indicating that whatever had run away could also fly.

Desperate, Liefa ran up to the stationed Boneguards. “Did you see it!?”

The largest, an imposing Imperial, turned around, a wicked marrowmask sitting atop his long snout. "Ambassador, The Boneyard is dangerous at night. We've strict orders you're not to leave the quar- ...the embassy unless the sun is out and you're accompanied," he growled.

She swallowed, "I know, I just... I think I saw someone...something. In the embassy."

He sniffed, his ratted whiskers twitching. "No one, save for you and approved visitors, are allowed within the confines of the embassy,” He smiled. “Though, we can't always catch every croaker or podid that sneaks in here."

“Thank you. I think,” she replied. “Please, what’s your name?”

The Boneguard regarded her for a moment. “The last ambassador kept to herself,” he observed.

Liefa shrugged.

The imperial sighed, eyes slitted beneath his mask. You can call me Garote.”

“Plague dragons have such cheerful names.” Liefa chuckled. “I am Liefa.”

Garote grunted, turning away from her. He resumed his patrol along the edge of the territory. Liefa wasn’t sure but she thought he looked back over his shoulder at her before disappearing into the dark night.



--


Despite her best efforts, Liefa couldn’t find any more clues regarding the creature that had entered her quarters, and her unease grew. Her days were spent exhausted, her nights alternating between sleeplessness or vivid dreams that would turn to dreadful nightmares.

As the nights passed, the dreams took on a pallid hue. She soared through the Labyrinth as the sky turned yellow, the vibrant green life below her wilting and dying. The Behemoth mournfully cried out:

SICK. HEAL.



--


“Ambassador, The Boneyard is dangerous at night. I’ve told you this before,” Garote rumbled.

Liefa gave him a faint smile. “I told you that my name is Liefa. And I haven’t been sleeping well. The fresh air helps,” She paused. “The company doesn’t hurt either.”

Garote flinched. “I wouldn’t tell anyone that.”

“What? My sleeplessness or the company?” she asked innocently. Liefa laughed when he shuffled awkwardly.

“Yes,” Garote countered the smile with a stony visage.

“Oh, I have something for you,” Liefa said as she rummaged through her satchel. She found the wreath of pressed flowers she’d spent the afternoon stringing together. “Flowers I saved from my ceremony. I thought they might liven up your uniform. Give a bit of color to it!”

“Sounds like Nature foolishness,” grumbled Garote, though he accepted the gift, donning the wreath hesitantly. His eyes slid over Liefa’s form. “You’re losing weight, Ambassador: becoming weak,” He lifted his head, twitching his whiskers. “Return to your quarters. You must sleep. You must be strong. Survive, Liefa.”

The Boneguard resumed his perimeter, leaving a speechless Liefa behind.



--


Her interactions with Garote were a welcome respite from her nightmares, but she couldn’t avoid sleep forever. Each night The Behemoth cried out for her to heal it as the Viridian Labyrinth died around her.

What does it want, what am I supposed to do?



--


“No. No. No.”

Her throat was parched. She was unbearably hot; no one had told her The Plaguelands would be so hot. “No. The Behemoth is fine, this is all a dream.”

SICKNESS....

“No!”

HEAL.

“NO!”

Liefa shrieked and fell to the floor.

YOU MUST HEAL.



--


For several days, no one heard from the Ambassador, until one red morning she emerged, staggering out from under the great oak holding a small wooden basket.

“I see your pain! I see your sickness!” she cried. “And I can heal you!” She ripped the top off of the basket. “The Gladekeeper will save you!”

Above her head, Liefa held The First Seed.



--


Warchief Morix’s band surrounded the perimeter of the Viridian Embassy. The border of the quarantine zone sliced through the dusty landscape like a green ribbon. "Almon! My warriors are in position. If you're going to talk her down, you best do it now!" roared Morix, tapping giant curved claws against his perch. He kept a tight grip on a wicked bone spear.

The aged Snapper broke through the forward line of troops, heaving and gasping for breath. He held up his front legs in a calming gesture, "Ambassador Liefa, stop! The Armistice holds! To unleash the destruction of the First Seed is to undo thousands of years of lasting peace.” He watched as the wasted Ridgeback staggered, her eyes glowing with a pale, sickly green light. Almon froze. “MORIX!” he bellowed. “What in the name of the Eleven happened to her? She’s covered in rashes and boils!” He gasped. “What is wrong with her eyes? The Ambassador’s quarantine zone was not to be used!”

The warchief thumped the butt of his spear against the rock he was standing on. "Why would we risk destabilizing the dragon who possesses the Gladekeeper’s dire weapon? To do so would be suicide!” he snarled. “Get this mewling hatchling under control or we will be forced to act!"

At this proclamation, Liefa sluggishly rolled her head to the side. "Unbridled life can save this world. I will save you all," she murmured.


Almon watched in horror as Liefa, Druid of the Viridian Labyrinth and Ambassador to the Scarred Wasteland, plunged The First Seed into the fertile soil beneath her.


A low rumble echoed across the embassy and the ground trembled under their feet. Warriors scrambled to find purchase on the unstable terrain even as Morix shouted for them to hold the line. Then the first root broke through, impaling a Guardian as it tore upwards from the earth. Morix’s dragons stared up at their fallen sister, dangling high in the air above them.

“No…” Almon whispered in sorrow; the Armistice died with the Plague warrior.

Enraged, Morix pointed his spear at Liefa. “KILL HER!” he screamed.

Two warriors leapt at the Ambassador, talons angling for the kill. But before they could close, more roots ripped from the ground, spearing one and crushing the other.

All across the quarantine zone, roots, vines, and carnivorous flora tore through the ground and the dragons who stood upon it. Hundreds of war-painted plague dragons turned as one, hacking plant life, and stamping out fledgling flora with putrid claws. From sharpened, battle-tested maws erupted fonts of noxious gases and high-pressured streams of yellowed sludge, burning away trees and shrubs that were already weaving themselves into a thick, miniature forest. Morix’s warriors were exceptionally talented, extinguishing bushes, burning away flowers, and trampling vines. The mages of the Plaguebringer fought back as well, enveloping the growth in a great festering membrane that began to form a giant cocoon around the embassy.

But it was not enough.

The weapon’s flora crawled up the membrane and down to the mages, encasing them in moss. Down the line, warriors were overwhelmed. For every tree burned, three more would rise up. Vines wound their way across the forest floor seeking the nearest dragon’s body, fouling wings before piercing flesh. Morix’s warriors were falling, used by The First Seed to fertilize and accelerate its growth. Almon watched in horror as an Imperial fell. The giant had been completely overtaken by the growth. Vines crawled out from its body, while a tree and several saplings rose from its back.

“ALMON!” Morix landed in front of the Snapper. “At this rate the Scarred Wasteland will die. Did you know of this treachery?”

Almon stomped a front leg. “You have two eyes, Morix. Use them. The ambassador is not in her right mind, she’s been infected by something. I don’t care if it was intentional or not, if we don’t stop this now nothing-” Almon cut himself off as he saw a silhouette approaching Liefa from above, “ ...who is that? Curse you, Morix! Did you send another dragon to try and kill her?”

Morix squinted up at the sky, “No. That’s one of the Boneguard!”



--


Garote circled high above Liefa and the virulent explosion of green. He called down to his unlikely friend, but she could not hear him.

The Boneguard angled lower, flying beneath the canopy of the oak, hoping to get close enough to pull her away from the expanding weapon, but he’d underestimated the power of The First Seed. Vines erupted all around him, and as he turned to avoid a collision, more shot out, ensnaring his wings. The mighty Imperial fell, crashing into the roots that surrounded Liefa.

“Druid!” She didn’t respond, and there was no indication anything was left of the Ridgeback he knew. One of his wings wasn’t working right. He called out again, the thunder stolen from his voice as a thick cloud of spores choked his words. “Liefa...you must stop…” he reached out, his claw brushing against the enthralled druid. More vines burst from the ground, constricting around his forelimb and pinned his claw to the ground at her feet. “Liefa, survive...”

“...Garote?” As lucidity returned, she became aware of the injured Imperial in front of her. “Garote! But how?”

Garote didn’t answer. Liefa looked past his form, towards the green chaos that was rapidly spreading through the quarantine zone and into the land beyond. Fallen dragons littered the ground, so many lives lost. She could feel it, the pulse of The First Seed beneath her feet. Its vibrancy, its power, its overwhelming need to engulf the world. Her eyes fell on Garote, finally seeing the vines that had taken hold of his body.

“No…”

The power of The First Seed had to be stopped before it was too late.

Liefa dropped to the ground and began digging, manic energy filling her heavy limbs. She didn’t know how long she’d been lost to the sickness and the weapon’s influence.

“Don’t you dare die, Garote,” she cried, pulling up clawfuls of dirt and throwing them aside. There! The emerald glow of The First Seed! She drove her claws down into the soil and pulled. “I will stop you!” she snarled, digging in and straining with all her remaining energy. With a pop, the roots tore free. Liefa rose, clutching the glowing seed. Her brief moment of triumph turned to dismay as the seed rapidly sprouted roots that began threading their way down, trying to reach the ground.

She looked at Garote’s still form. “Don’t die, okay? Please don’t die.”

Sobbing, Liefa held The First Seed against her body. She could feel the seed’s power pushing against her flagging magic. She wouldn’t be able to hold on much longer. The illness had taken its toll. It took everything she had to hold back The First Seed from the earth below.

“We need to leave. I will take you.”



--


Morix and Almon pushed their way towards the great oak. At the base lay an Imperial Boneguard, a wreath of pressed flowers hanging from his neck. His crumpled form bore grievous wounds, but he still clung to life. As they approached, the two dragons could see the Imperial was curled around a green glowing form.

“Hello...Almon...Morix…”

Morix recoiled, “By the gods…”

The source of the green glow was the Ambassador. Her eyes shone with an emerald light; vines proliferated all along her flanks, originating from a single place - The First Seed, now fused to the druid’s chest.

Signs of her illness had vanished but the Ridgeback’s breathing was ragged and heavy. “I’ve contained it. For now…”

“I should kill you for the destruction you’ve caused with The First Seed’s power,” Morix snapped.

“Fraction, a fraction of its power,” Liefa corrected with a wan smile. Morix blanched. She turned her attention to the earth dragon. “Almon, we must go to The Behemoth. I’ve managed to stop the attack but I can’t contain this power for long. If I die, it will be unleashed upon the land and all who dwell here. I may not survive -but The Behemoth, the great tree...bring us to the Behemoth, where this may be contained.”

Morix turned on Almon, setting his spear against the Snapper’s throat. “Get her out of here, Almon. Now. You are no longer welcome. The Armistice is dead.”

He regarded the Snapper’s trembling chin with disgust. “We will not retaliate, if that’s what you’re worried about. Only a fool couldn’t see that she was ill,” he said with a sneer. “But the damage is done. Hundreds of my warriors have fallen, torn apart by this pathetic child of the Gladekeeper. She has proven nature dragons are unable to survive on their own. Even now, her weakness threatens to destroy those around her. Take her back to her own kind.”

Almon tried to respond, but Morix cut him off, “I said now! Our mages are on their way to begin reclaiming this land for the Plaguebringer. Unless, of course, you want to be sealed as well...”

Liefa struggled to rise before falling back with a rattled gasp, “...Garote…”

Morix bared his teeth at her. “He will survive or he won’t. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t a child of the Plaguebringer.”



--


Deep within the Viridian Labyrinth, a Treewarden snapped, "You are to leave at once, We will see to it that you are returned home without harm. You may have a few moments to gather your belongings."

Yugona Marrowbite flicked her tongue, unimpressed, as she rose from the pile of dry, dead grass she had been reclining on. The guard retreated, dropping the cloth hanging that separated her quarters from the rest of the embassy. She waited until she could no longer hear his footfalls and clambered over to a small woven sack that held her personal effects, reaching inside with a thick clawed hand. She found the edge of the secret flap near the bottom of the pouch, and lifted its edge to probe further inside. Casting one quick look behind her, she removed a small, neatly-bound roll of parchment and carefully untied it.

With another flick of her tongue, the corners of her mouth twitched upwards slightly as she read.

Go into hiding. We will tell you when it's time.



© 2013 - 2018 Stormlight Workshop. All Rights Reserved
Terms of Use | Rules & Policies | Privacy Policy | Employment Opportunities | Credits | Support