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The High Priestess bowed low before the Dragon, atop his treasure hoard. Her costume was ornate, heavily accented with gold; but the primary accents were sapphires and azure, fitting the colors of the draconic lord.
The Blue Dragon had a name, of course, but it was never spoken by any of his servants. A handful of other Dragons knew his name, but he did not converse with them, and indeed intended to kill them.
“How goes the day, faithful one?” the great blue wyrm enquired.
“All is well, Great One.” She smiled up at the great creature. “All the realm sings praises in your name. As you know, the gold mines are running thin, but the new gem mines show much promise.”
“Yet I sense your heart is troubled,” the Dragon prodded. “Which of my subjects disobeys?”
“None, Great One!” She hastened to reassure her master. “Rather it is your rival to the north, the Silver pretender, that causes us trouble. Her servants raid our territory.”
The Blue Dragon lifted his head and gazed through the walls with the power of his Sight. He saw, indeed, that the Silver Dragon had sent raiding parties of her own followers; Dwarves, mostly. His followers had successfully repulsed the attackers, he saw; but a few had been lost. Enough to cause concern.
“We will soon have to send some of the priesthood into battle against further attacks,” murmured the priestess, anticipating his thoughts.
The Blue Dragon felt a surge of annoyance. “Do not presume,” he grated, sparks of electricity showing between his massive teeth.
She genuflected. “Apologies, Great One!”
“However,” he went on in a more conciliatory tone, “You are probably correct. Therefore we shall anticipate the next attack. You will indeed appoint ranking members of the faithful to lead our own assault parties into the pretender’s territory. In the meantime, a separate party will be sent into unclaimed territory to gather more recruits.”
“Do we offer membership, or take slaves?” she asked.
“The former, if possible. It is always better to inspire loyalty than create resentment.” Actual slaves in the Blue Dragon’s domain were few and far between. He wanted loyal followers, not rebellions waiting to happen. “Try the southwest first, then the east. Many there are desperate after the raids of the Red Dragon.”
The High Priestess doubted those easterners—Lizard Folk and a few Orcs—would welcome her Blue lord any better than the Red. But both races respected strength.
The Dragon read her thoughts. “We will probably have to kill a few,” he said. “But the rest will fall into line. A greater challenge will be integrating them into our society.”
The High Priestess nodded. “It might be prudent to use them as shock troopers against the Silver pretender, at least at first.”
“And perhaps set up their own separate enclave afterwards,” he agreed, “In the long term, they will see the benefits of working with my other subjects.”
She bowed low. “It will be done.”
“You have served me well.” The compliment was genuine; he valued his subordinates. It was also a dismissal.
The High Priestess left the Great Lord’s personal cavern, descending the great stone steps. Looking around the main cavern, she was pleased with what she saw.
There were a few openings to the sky; occasionally the Great Lord liked to spread his wings and fly. It was not a true underground cave network, though there were several tunnels leading to the underground realms. The Great Lord, she knew, did not intend to broach those realms just yet. One thing at a time. Conquest of the surface was the first priority.
She heard laughter from the common market to the northwest; the the south, the clink clink clink from the mines. New cartfuls of gems rolled out daily. A bard was reciting the triumphs of the great lord, to laughter and applause. The taverns beyond, tucked under an overhang, were doing well; the Great Lord understood well enough to keep his servants happy.
He had come to these lands some 400 years ago, subduing the few villagers and miners who lived there with ease. But he had only killed one; like any sensible Dragon, he wanted to rule the realms, not send people scattering to the winds.
Through the centuries, he had built his empire slowly, first by encouraging the locals to breed, and also by bringing in new recruits. Like his Silver rival to the north, he treated his subjects relatively well; they were raised to believe not only in him, but to understand that his way was the best one.
She went to one of the lesser temples at the southern edge of the main cavern, and met two of her ranking priestesses. “Come with me,” she said. “The Great Lord has work for us.”
Eventually, a tunnel led outside, where some of the guards and hunters were in camps, waiting.
Storm clouds were coming in; one of the archers was grumbling about the weather.
“You are correct, the rains do come,” the High Priestess said, breaking into their conversation. “But we press on regardless.”
“We meant no offense, High Priestess!” the hunter declared, bowing low.
“I know, worry not. Our Great Lord has a task for you. Each of the priestesses with me will lead one of your hunting parties to find new followers to join our peoples. Don’t enslave if it can be helped. Likewise, only kill if you must.”
The hunters nodded; they knew their master’s creed. “Good, we need new blood.”
“Others will march north into the enemy’s territory and strike first, before they come to us again.”
Now there were grins amongst the crew. “Oh aye, that will be a pleasure!”
The High Priestess smiled indulgently. “Try to keep yourselves alive though; no berserker fury. “
“As our Great Lord commands!” The hunters raised their bows, pikes, morning stars and fails. Some claimed the flails were impractical, and didn’t do much damage; well, they had never seen the guards and hunters of the Blue Dragon’s forces wield such weapons! (Also, the High Priestess suspected the Great Lord’s own magic was involved in making weapons so effective.)
Her lieutenant priestesses walked amongst the hunters, giving their orders; the High Priestess turned back, returning to the enclave proper.
She passed through the peoples, some genuflecting as she passed; it did her heart good to see so many of her Great Lord’s followers. Oh, there were occasional malcontents, of course; but on the whole, theirs was a prosperous, and happy society.
As she prepared her evening offerings for the midnight mass, she reflected how much better off they were than those living in the wilderness or under more cruel Dragon Lords.
So I make the mistake of asking my smartarse dad what he wants for Christmas and he says “check around among the deviantart crowd and/or elsewhere, and find a few websites (NOT amazon) where you can download low-cost or freemp3s (they would obviously have to have a HUGE selection, or would be no use to me). please trouble to actually TEST these sites by downloading a song you might like, and when you’re sure they work well then you can send them to me in an email.“
So does anybody know any sites like that?