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"The songs of dragons are powerful, and not meant for the minds of mortals, even ones as long lived as the asur, for it is said these songs are powerful enough to reach the minds of even the oldest star dragons. But they hold the true names of all the dragons of Ulthuan, and such secret knowledge should never be used lightly."
Prince Imrik to Lamellan.[1a]
Dragon Mage Art 1

Alongside the Princes of Caledor, Dragon Mages sing beneath the mountains.

Remembered only by the people of Caledor, Dragonsong is a catch-all term for the various songs used in awakening dragons from their slumber beneath the Dragonspine Mountains. Such music, however, is draining for it draws upon a warrior's heart and soul for its power. Even proper recitals do not guarantee success, sometimes requiring supplemental equipment such as braziers burning with heartleaf, or multiple fire mages singing in unison.[1a]

There are two types of Dragonsong, those spoken by the Asur, and the songs of the dragons themselves. Only Prince Imrik knows the latter, after swearing to secrecy with Minaithnir. So grave is this secret that Imrik will order all fire mages to return to the surface, sealing the caverns behind them, and to let none enter on pain of death. Yet, to sing such a Dragonsong alone - and as powerful as Imrik claims - is to risk death, for there would be nothing left of the singer by its ending.[1a]

Imrik's Dragonsong

Minaithnir taught Imrik these songs many decades ago, placing the words that were not words and the music that was not music directly into the prince's mind. Until Imrik had actually sung them aloud, he had never heard them. Yet he wept when he finally gave them voice. He noted how their soft beauty was quite at odds with the creatures that created them, and the elf dearly wished his race had known of these songs in ages past.[1b]

Imrik closed his eyes as he felt the dragonsong draw on his strength for sustenance, for such magical sounds could not be sustained simply by a mortal's voice. Though hot steam filled the air of the cavern, the prince felt a chill deep in his bones, wearing nothing save a loincloth as he sat cross-legged, arms hanging at his sides. His muscular body became thin and gaunt like the starved prisoners he had rescued from a Druchii slave ship so many years ago. Sleep had stolen upon him in the time between songs as well, and his dreams had been filled with the faces of lost loved ones and never-won glories. Each time the prince would wake, and curse the weakness that saw him sleep. Then he would sing, filling the air with the wondrous sound of dragonsong.[1b]

His breathing, initially long and soft, slowed as the song flowed from him. Imrik felt as though his mind was sinking into a forgotten trench at the bottom of the ocean where monstrous beasts made their lairs.[1b]

The darkness was complete, yet this was as close as he had come to reaching the vast, unfathomable consciousness of the dragons. In this deep, dark, unreachable place, their minds roam free, too vast and too far beyond mortal comprehension to be confined within their skulls. In this place of emptiness, the dragons dream of distant stars and the myriad worlds that circle them.[1b]

Now the dragonsong surrounds Imrik, the elf feeling the steady heartbeat of something infinitely more colossal than he could ever imagine pounding in the darkness. If the heartbeat of the dragons is infinitesimally slow, this was yet slower. He had no idea to what he was listening, but no sooner had he wondered at its origin than the answer was given to him.[1b]

This was the heartbeat of the world, and Imrik at last recognised the truth of the dragons. They were linked with the world in ways too complex to fully understand, but Imrik knew enough of dragons to know that as the world cooled, so too did their hearts. The dragons were as much a part of the world as were its rivers and forests, its mountains and deserts. As one rose, the other rose; as one declined, so too did the other.[1b]

Imrik could feel the colossal presences of the dragons as their minds finally registered his intrusion into their shared dreamspace. As a man might regard a fleabite, so Imrik was to the dragons; an irritant; something so trivial and minor that he was virtually beneath their notice.[1b]

Yet they had noticed him.[1b]

Though Imrik knew his body did not exist in this darkness, he sang the dragonsong with ever more passion, allowing the wordless music free rein within his flesh. Take of me what you must, but hear me dragonkin! I am Imrik, and Ulthuan needs you![1b]

Other minds, still immense, but smaller than the glittering, star-filled presences of the most ancient dragons darted around him. They looked at him as a curiosity, a diversion to be toyed with and enjoyed for a brief spell while they slept away the ages. It was the tiniest connection, but it was more than he had managed in all the days he had been singing.[1b]

A yellow eye, slitted like a cat's, opened in the darkness before him. Enormous beyond words, it filled the void, a sensory organ as vast as a landscape. It regarded Imrik curiously, before deciding he was unworthy of attention. The mind's eye closed and Imrik was once again plunged into sightless oblivion. He screamed his frustration into the void as his hold on the dragonsong faltered.[1b]

No sooner had its ritual rhythms been disrupted than his connection to this dream world was ended. Imrik's spirit was hurled back to the world above, and Imrik opened his eyes with a great intake of breath and a cry of frustration bursting from this throat.[1b]

Spoilers for Sons of Ellyrion

Imrik was only saved by a surge of power that came when the Great Maelstrom was weakened by Morathi. In that moment, where the prince thought himself doomed to the void, fire, blazing fire, surrounded him. What had been a fading glow now leapt to life as a great song enfolded him. It was the greatest song in the world, yet he knew he would never be able to do it justice were he to love long enough to recount the event. It had no words, no melody and no tune, just an exultant evocation of wondrous times of glory when Ulthuan was young and still cooling from the molten fires of creation that had shaped it.[1c]

Light pulsed from the heart of the world, billowing up in great waves that filled the air with hot thermals of the purest magic. On these winds flew the first dragons, the chosen children of the gods and the inheritors of all that magic could achieve. These were the glory days, when anything was possible, and impossibility was a concept that simply did not exist. Imrik saw this and more.[1c]

Days of glory where cycles of the universe were but the blink of an eye. Voyages between the stars, where a dragon's wings could carry it to distant suns with a single beat. Imrik saw fierce battles fought between rival dragons that snuffed out worlds and birthed them anew in the fires of their great wars. It was an age undreamed and unknown, a secret history known only to dragonkind, and told to him know by the mightiest of dragons.[1c]

Imrik found himself face to face with a vast eye. It was the size of a star, and he a mote in its eye, yet still it saw him. All that had been lost in his endless wanderings was remade by the music of the oldest dragons. They sang songs unknown to the elves and younger dragons, and bore Imrik up through the white heat of their dreamings, where no mortal was ever meant to venture.[1c]

Imrik cried out as he opened his eyes and found himself once more in the vast cave beneath the mountains. His wasted flesh was whole once more, the effort of singing the songs of awakening undone by the magic of this last song. What the power of the elves could not achieve was child's play to the dragons.[1c]

Steam and ashen smoke filled the air and the ground shook with violent tremors.[1c]

Imrik rose to his feet as mighty shapes moved and shifted in the steam.[1c]

Dragons. Hundreds of awakened dragons.[1c]

A huge beast with a body that glittered as though constellations were captured in its scales loomed over him. Its vast head dipped, and its eyes shone with ancient fire.[1c]

We are the dragons of Ulthuan, and we come to fight![1c]

Source

  • 1: Sons of Ellyrion (novel) by Graham McNeill
    • 1a: Chapter 6
    • 1b: Chapter 10
    • 1c: Chapter 19

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