"If I punch him really hard in the beak, I bet he'll shut up."
Eledran sighed. "Come now, that's not really necessary."
"Oh, I think it is," Urdam replied. "I've never even seen one of these aviaks before, and I'm already sick of them." The bruiser cracked his knuckles and frowned.
"Hooluks, dear boy. Hooluks!" Jabber Longwind asserted. "Although most Norrathians would label all of us as aviaks, in truth we are quite distinct from one another. The vultak, for example, have their own unique habits that cause them to behave very differently from hooluks or aviaks. One theory on this is that plumage determines one's emotional tendencies, though personally I've always felt that--"
"Okay, this is the part where I punch him." Urdam clenched his fist and took a step forward.
Anturan moved himself in front of the bruiser. "Did we really need to bring this thug along with us, Eledran? We can't have him picking fights with everyone we meet up here."
"Stepping out of the way quickly would be the smart move, kid," Urdam growled. "Besides, I didn't hear you complaining about my manners when we saved you and shorty here from your big lizard friend back in Antonica. If Eledran and I hadn't shown up, you'd both be puddles of goo on the steps of the Claymore monument right now."
"Don't ye be threatenin' me friend, bruiser!" Tulfor snorted. "I'll show ye what a dwarf can do with his sturdy axe in hand!"
"Calm down, all of you," Eledran told them. "We are here to explore, not to pick fights with the locals--or each other. Frankly, I don't see how any of you could squabble in the presence of such a remarkable sight."
They marveled again at the floating isles scattered in the twilight sky all around them. Everything seemed lush and green, the thick vines and twisting roots fed by flows of clear, bright water.
"You said you've seen something like this before, Eledran?" Anturan asked.
The elf stroked his chin and nodded. "It was long ago, when mortals were still able to walk within the realms of the gods. This place reminds me of the Plane of Sky, domain of the dragon god Veeshan. And yet, this feels far less desolate than I remember Sky to be."
"Oh, the Plane of Sky was vast, let me assure you," Jabber interjected. "Mortals only ever saw the smallest bits of it. Like most things planar, what mortals could actually experience was merely one facet of the plane's true nature. Which, of course, begs the question as to whether the planes were real at all, or if they were merely facades projected into the minds of mortals so that they could at least conceive of their surroundings. Then again, were the planes projections of the gods, or were the gods projections of the planes? I once got into a rather fascinating discussion on the subject with a friend of mine as we took our morning flight..."
"Please, please let me punch him." Urdam said with a wince.
"Earlier you referred to this place as the Overrealm," Eledran addressed the hooluk, ignoring his companion. "What did you--"
"Yes, yes, the Overrealm. Well, only a part of it really, known as the Dragon Isles. Dragons are interesting creatures, don't you think? So powerful, yet they can be so petty. I remember one story told to me by my mother not long after I was hatched. Come to think of it, she might have told it to me when I was a bit older. Yes, that's it, because I was old enough to fly on my own to the library. I wanted to find a book on history, you see, for a project on--"
"Enough!" Urdam snarled, raising his fist. "We were attacked down on the surface by some oversized dragon-headed thing, and we want to find out what it was looking for. So I suggest you make yourself useful and tell us where we can find him, before I decide to see what it feels like to punch a walking bag of feathers."
Jabber's eyes opened wide. "The droag," he said soberly. "You seek the droag."
"Where can these droag be found?" Eledran asked. "It seemed to be investigating a monument of some importance on the surface."
The hooluk nodded. "If it was seeking information on some kind of powerful artifact, then you should begin your search in the Sanctum of the Scaleborn. It isn't far, but go with care. You will not be welcome within."
"Finally a straight answer," Urdam said. "Let's find this place and pay our friend a visit."
"For once I agree with ye, bruiser!" the dwarf answered.
As the fighters prepared themselves, the Ayr'Dal spoke quietly to Eledran. "We barely drove off the one droag that attacked us. Are you sure we should venture into this sanctum filled with even more of them?"
The high elf paused for a moment. "If the droag are after relics of power like the Claymore, then the fate of both Qeynos and Freeport may depend on us uncovering the mystery of these isles. I feel the answer may be tied to this 'Awakened' that the droag spoke of."
Anturan nodded. "Let's go," he said to the others. They walked forward through the stone archway.
Jabber was silent as he watched them go. "It begins," he said softly, "just as it was foretold."
His feathers ruffled slightly as a cool wind drifted through the twilight sky.
-- Source:[Official Website]