Introduction

Long ago there was a hero named Sir Drago the Red.  He was a mountain of a man, over six feet tall and two hundred and fifty pounds of earth shattering muscle.  He wore thick scaled armor that was red like the blood of a thousand men had been spilled upon it.  His mighty shield of oak and steel bore the mark of a Red Dragon engulfed in red flames.  His sword was as strong as he was, made of the finest steel and sharpened to the finest edge.  Magic enchantments preserved the integrity of the blade regardless of where it stroke or what it cleaved.

Sir Drago the Red was loyal to the King of Ildris, a mighty kingdom located in a giant hardwood forest, surrounded by mountains to the west and south and by ocean to the north and east.  In the eastern seas lay a single island wreathed in the smoke and fire of the volcano that lie there.  Rumor had it that a giant Black Dragon used the volcano as it's lair, though it had been hundreds of years since anyone could have claimed to have seen the beast.  Over time, the legend of the dragon grew as the memory of his deeds faded.

Then one day, that all changed.

The ground shook and massive waves crashed on the beaches of the eastern shore, nearly drowning the city of Oceanica.  Then the volcano exploded sending fire and brimstone so high in the air that the residents of the coast swore they touched the sun itself.  Such a calamity had not befallen Ildris in all of its five thousand year existence.  Yet it was but just a precursor to the horror to come.  Oceanica had barely survived the fury of the mountain when the real threat struck.

The Black Dragon had risen from its long slumber, and he was ready to destroy the world of Man.

The mighty beast made straight for Oceanica, blasting fishing boats and warships alike with ghastly blue fire that caused the vessels to explode at the mere heat of the flame.  Long ago the residents of Oceanica had built defenses to ward off the dragon should he ever attack again, but these were long decayed from time and poor maintenance.  The operation of what still worked was a mystery to the guardsmen who were tasked to defend the city.  The giant ballista were rusted with rotten wood bases.  Yet it were these very defenses that the citizens of Oceanica now turned to. 

As the Black Dragon approached the city the warning horns sounded and the guards scurried about; some heading to their posts, others to their families to try to avoid the wrath of the beast.  The dragon drew ever closer, breathing his stream of blue death at some targets, and firing bursts of yellow and blue at other targets.  Regardless of the attack, the result was the same: a fiery explosion that laid waste to anything in the dragonís path.

The first ballista to fire itís arrow failed miserably.  The ancient wood frame crumbled under the force of the mighty steel bow causing massive splinters to radiate in all directions, gravely wounding the two man crew operating the machine.  Other ballista on the towers suffered the same fate.  The ballista that did fire their arrows were so ineffective that the dragon didnít even notice them bouncing off his mighty scales.

But one ballista was not so broken.  It was the King's Ballista.  A mighty machine that was larger and stronger than the rest.  The ballista lay in sight of the King's resort in Oceanica and as such was kept in the highest state of repair so the King would feel safe during his visits.  It was this ballista that all hope now rode on.

Manned by the King's Guard, the ballista was loaded with a massive arrow of the finest steel in all of Ildris.  The Black Dragon spotted the King's resort and knowing the whole of the gold of Oceanica would be there, headed straight for it.  The beasts lust for gold was unearthly and unwavering.  Convinced of his immortality and the futility of the menís defenses, the Black Dragon slowed to land on the King's porch, completely ignoring the ballista guarding it since all of the other ballista had been but a nuisance to him.

This, of course, was a major miscalculation by the Black Dragon.  The King's Guards fired at the beast as it approached the porch and struck the beast in the gut.  The arrow so sharp and the ballista so strong that the projectile disappeared in the belly of the great beast.  The Black Dragon bellowed in pain, writhed in the air and fell upon the city, destroying complete neighborhoods. 

But the Black Dragon was not so easily slain.  It slithered through the city, consuming anyone who he encountered and destroying anything in his way.  Soon he reached the ocean and disappeared deep into the waters.  Hours later the volcano erupted on more time, then it went silent.

The city of Oceanica was laid ruined.  Hundreds of people had died, every ship in the harbor was destroyed and the defenses of rock, wood and steel were destroyed.  Worst of all, the fate of the dragon was unknown and for months the citizens of Oceanica feared that the return of the Black Dragon would destroy them all.

A call was put out throughout Ildris for Dragon Slayers to search the volcanic island for the beast and bring back the wounded dragonís head.  The King himself issued a decree that any man who brought proof of the dragonís death would be appointed Lord of Oceanica, complete with all rights to the city and its wealth.

Adventurer after adventurer braved the tides to the island, but none ever returned.  Years passed and the legend of the attack faded as Oceanica was rebuilt.  Thatís when the mountain awoke again.  This time just a slight rumble, but enough that the old men of Oceanica were sent into hysterics at the reawakening of their awful memories of the dragonís last attack.

The young King of Ildris wasn't even born during the great calamity of the Black Dragon.  He renewed the call for heroes to once again defeat the Black Dragon before it attacked again.  Again each would-be dragon slayer disappeared forever.  The young King, growing more desperate as each day passed sent out a call to his personal guardians.  Thatís when Sir Drago was taked with the destruction of the Black Dragon, and the fate of Oceanica would forever be changed.

Sir Drago was ferried to the volcanic island.  The trip taking nearly a day in Oceanicaís greatest warship, he set foot on the island at dusk, and here our story begins.