Roads Go Ever On – Clamavi De Profundis

The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea;
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June,
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon.

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star,
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.
Eyes that fire and sword have seen
And horror in the halls of stone
Look at last on meadows green
And trees and hills they long have known.

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

And what became of the three dragons born of the Lonely Mountain? Those three progenies of Smaug the terrible, whose very existence had at first caused the lands of Middle Earth to tremble with fear for what these young drakes might bring upon them? The offspring that Saphira had wished for, for many years, and had been more precious to her than life itself. What had happened to them in this epic tale?

Saphira had raised them whilst also completing her duties as a founding member of the new Ride Order. She remembered her promise to Smaug, that their children would never be subject to man's laws, nor would they ever be made to serve another; instead they would be wild and free to decide the course of their own lives. And she had stuck to that agreement with pride. Her children had learned the history of wild dragons and their conflicts and triumphs, whereas her other students learnt the customs of other races and how to better harness the magic of their bond. To hunt, to guard, to have pride had been their studies. To be observe and be the bearer of the wisdom and knowledge that not only they had seen and acquired in their own lives, but also those of the ones who had come before. Several of the Eldunari had had wild sires or dames that had passed on their bloodline memories through the egg. As Saphira's mother had done. It was through sharing of this knowledge, as well as the memories and experiences of Smaug that he had passed to Saphira during their time together, that had been the foundation for Calvar, Aurye and Mithriel's education.

Of course, they had been the first wild dragons to be born in centuries. And with this had come much concern. Smaug had been their sire, and so it was of great interest to the peoples of Middle Earth that had been terrorised by him, that his children not inherit his evil. And should they have, then they were to be destroyed in order to prevent the spread of misery. Saphira had fiercely squashed any notion of bringing harm to her children. They were hers and innocents who had yet to lead their own lives, and so should not be judged on the actions of their father. However, she and Eragon had been met with fierce resistance, particularly by the humans that had survived Lake Town and their descendants. This debate had raged for quite some time, until King Fili of the Blue Mountain dwarves had spoken in defence of Saphira's children. They had saved his life, after all, and so he wished no harm to befall them. And with his vote of confidence, the matter was finally laid to rest.

And so Saphira had been allowed to enjoy her children, for as long as they had need of her.

But, like all children, Calvar, Aurye and Mithriel had to grow up. They were perhaps eight years of age when they finally matured into adults and finally left the nest for good to pursue their own happiness. Saphira had known the time was right, had sensed this moment coming. She had made sure that all of them knew how proud she was of them, and that she wished them all the best of luck in their lives to come. Fate would have them cross paths at some point, she knew; but for now, this was goodbye.

And so Saphira had mourned the loss for a solid week.

Exactly one month later, the first five wild eggs in the vault had hatched, and of course, they needed a mother. Saphira still felt loss, for nothing could ever replace her children. But these new little ones needed her too, and so she adopted them, loved them, and cared for each of them as if they were her own flesh and blood. Being of her breed, these wild ones matured at only six months old, and flew the nest soon after. As soon as one nestful had gone, Saphira would give it a week, and then go down to the vault to find that another few wild eggs were about to hatch. They were all waiting their turn to be hers, to be loved and cherished, to have the experience of her as their mother.

Seeing a child leave her never got any easier. Saphira still mourned each time, feeling a sense of being lost without the direction her children provided her. But she never felt regret, only pride.

As for her three offspring, though they had been close throughout childhood, life had taken them down separate roads, likely to never meet again once they left the nest and parted. This is not something to be sorrowful over, for dragons, like most other creatures of the earth, do not feel sadness at this inevitability. It is merely accepted that siblings must go their separate ways to live their lives alone, and look back on their nest-mates with fond memories rather than to later see them become competition or threats.

Calvar had been the eldest and strongest of the three. As he had grown, his strength was unmatched by any o his peers, and some wondered how unstoppable he might be should he learn to use it. Unfortunately, such academic queries would forever remain unanswered. For despite his size and power, Calvar was the last one to turn to violence. In his youth, he mostly stopped the fighting between his siblings or others, using his weight to barge in and force others to stop. He preferred order and level-headedness over rash action and violence.

Naïve and passionate to explore all the knowledge of the world, Calvar had devoted himself to learning everything he possibly could. Though he liked treasure as all dragons did, knowledge and facts were the real jewels of his horde. He spent much of his early years devouring all the knowledge he could possess. It is said he even tracked down the Ents to learn of their women, for no other reason than that he was curious.

And woe betide the fool to keep from him the information he sought. One human had thought him merely a beast come to burn his library and so had shut him out and ignored Calvar's requests to peacefully exchange what they knew. In a rare fit of anger, Calvar had broken the library's roof and plucked the little human out from it. For the first time that day did he use the dragon-spell in his gaze, the ability he had inherited from his father, to force the mortal to do as he commanded. The mortal had then been forced to sit with him for three days as he read out loud every book in the former library without stopping. The text was much too small for Calvar to read, you see; and the librarian had insulted him – it only seemed right he should die of exhaustion as a result of his folly.

Calvar had found a mate when he once returned to the Grey Mountain fortress that was his mother's territory. Saphira had welcomed him with open wings and joy in her heart and thoughts. It was then that Calvar had met the dragoness Laverne, a recently matured and fully fledged member of the new rider order. The two swiftly became mates, though many had speculated that it wouldn't last long, as Laverne's duties would take her far from him. And yet, despite this, the pair of them had managed to produce one clutch of eggs.

But when Middle Earth could give Calvar no more new knowledge, he flung his wings to the wind and explored the regions of the world he had to know of. He ventured far into the east, crossing the great ocean to head to the lands from which his mother originated from. There, he had stayed for quite some time, learning of all the different races and their histories, the magic, the cities, the languages, geography and all the mysteries still unsolved.

Calvar was born the fighter, but as his life would prove, his true strength lay in his mind.

Aurye had always been fierce, but he was not cruel. His tenacity in battle was tempered by his desire to be anything but malicious. He ruminated on what his father had once been, and then on what he had done, and the punishments Smaug had faced. Aurye did not begrudge the hand of fate, and instead strove to be what his father was not.

So, as soon as Aurye had flown the nest, he had travelled far beyond the northern borders of Middle Earth, and had discovered the Withered Heath. There, he had infiltrated the kingdom of lesser drakes that awaited him. He had lived among them, wild and fierce, battling for food and dominance in the paradoxical chaotic order of nature. He learned their ways, came to know their weaknesses and failings, and made note of those traditions he admired, and those he wanted to disband.

After several years, Aurye climbed to the top of the social ladder until he could battle the resident alpha-beast for total dominion over the Withered Heath. The battle had been long, hard, and bloody. Though he was terribly scarred from the events of that day, Aurye won the challenge, and so was unofficially crowned 'king' of the Withered Heath. Upon having everyone else recognise his authority, Aurye had set to work changing everything about life in the frozen north. No longer would there be killing for the sake of doing so, for herds must be encouraged to return so that everyone might hunt better game. There would be no more preying upon another's eggs – dragons of all kinds were rare enough, and so each one must be precious.

Of course, as new wild dragons left the care of Saphira to make their way in the world, some went back to Alagaesia, and others came to the Withered Heath. Hot headed males sought to challenge Aurye's position, but he defeated them all and they quickly fell in line. But females would come seeking something else…

Aurye had taken a mate – several, in fact. Dragonesses clamoured to secure his genes for their offspring. If you were to ask him, Aurye couldn't tell you the names of all his children at this point.

And so in the Withered Heath he has remained to this day. A king of the frozen north. And since his arrival and subsequent rise to power, scouts into the foothills of that icy kingdom have reported that relative peace had come over the region, all enforced by Aurye. Of course, it was Aurye that had told the servant of Sauron during the war that the wild dragons would not join the Dark Lord. And it was that decision that had (rather unknowingly) saved the world.

Never let it be said that he wasn't a dragon on a mission.

And as for Mithriel, the youngest of the three, she had many expectations thrust upon her as she grew. Her beauty had come to rival her mother's, and many young male in the order had thought to woo her once she matured, with very little success. She was clever and self-determined. If an elder told her that something wasn't to be done, she would interrogate them as to why, and should the answer be unsatisfactory, she would do it anyway. Only to see if she could. It had landed her in trouble more often than not.

Saphira's only daughter, she had been the last to leave the nest for good. Though wild dragons are meant to be solitary, females tended to tolerate each other with a lot more civility than their territorial male counterparts. Mother and daughter had been especially close, and it was rather difficult to part, with the idea in their minds that they might not see each other again.

At the start of Mithriel's journey, she had set out for the Blue Mountains, and had frightened half the kingdom of dwarves therein. She was curious about King Fili, how he had progressed since she'd seen him as a hatchling. Though the King was relieved to see it was her, his council had been very vocal in their disapproval of her coming to them. And once more, Mithriel had to wonder why, and when their prejudiced answers did not satisfy her, she made it a point to visit the Blue Mountains once or twice yearly for the next few years. Each time she sought to arrive in a more dramatic fashion, to try and frighten the elders and the dwarves half to death for the fun of it.

For a time, she did not know what to do. Calvar was off learning all the knowledge of the world, and Aurye was ruling the north and the other wild dragons that lived under him. She fancied neither prospect. She went to Alagaesia, briefly, to explore the sights of the world. But nothing held her attention for very long. Many a male came to try and win her over. During her first mating season she had over two dozen suitors. She rejected them all. She did not want a mate, and certainly did not want eggs at this time. Instead, she wanted her own purpose.

To try and find this elusive concept, she eve travelled to Isengard to speak with the wizards. There she stayed for many months, learning all she could of them. But Saruman's prodding questions irked her, and so she left him. Yet during her time with the wizards, she learned something that had achieved what she thought impossible – her imagination had been captured.

Far to the west, over the horizon, lay the land of Valinor, the realm of the gods. Only the elves, the dead, and those that were deemed worthy, could set foot there. No dragon had ever been there because it was widely believed that dragons were the creation of Melkor, the evil one, and so the discourse in their souls would not be permitted on those hallowed shores. But Mithriel dreamed of a land unreached by any of her kind. She fantasised about speaking with gods and knowing them, and having them come to know her. The idea of doing the impossible had always been at the forefront of her personality. To be the first… in anything… was her greatest wish.

So, one day, she returned to her mother and told her of her plan. Saphira did not pretend to know all the intricacies of the cultures of Middle Earth, but she still knew the gravity of this situation. Though her mother tried, Mithriel would not be swayed. She said her goodbyes, and ventured out into the West.

No one heard from her for many years. Saphira always asked the Eldunari to cast long-seeing spells to see if they might find her, as Scrying spells wouldn't seem to work. But not even they could claim to sense her. Saphira had been on the threshold of despair. She grieved for her foolish daughter that had flown to her death. Until one night, she dreamed of Mithriel. It was a simple dream, only the image of her daughter, smiling and flying. A rational mind would've dismissed it as wishful thinking, but Saphira clung to that dream as her last shred of hope for her daughter's survival.

And then, about a year after the end of the War of the Ring, Mithriel reappeared. She had grown, and there seemed to be a calm radiance about her. Wherever she went, all people of Middle Earth were brought to tears by her stunning beauty, calmed by a magic about her that perplexed even the most steadfast elf. She would not say whether or not she had reached Valinor in her travels. Only that she had found a place she might one day call home again.

It was then a surprise to all when Mithriel decided to finally take a mate. She chose Firnen, Arya's green dragon. She even left Middle Earth all together to live in Alagaesia where she might stay with him. She had a healthy clutch of five hatchlings a couple of years later. Two of those were given to the Riders, which brought Saphira no small amount of joy to train her grandchildren.

And in the forests of Du Weldenvarden, Mithriel has remained, still seeking every now and then to do the impossible.