The Dragon in the Mountains
The Kingdom of Cardinia had a dragon problem. The Great Dragon Lundergarde had claimed the Kaasgryn Peaks as her domain and regularly attacked the king's tax collectors and farms to steal gold and eat livestock. This angered King Gruudin who sent his fiercest knights and wizards to deal with the dragon. Each expedition met with tragedy as each band of dragon slayers was burnt to ash.
Frustrated by so many lost warriors the king asked his advisors if this dragon would ever be defeated. The king's most trusted sages were at a loss, their divination, even into the far future included hints of the Dragon's continued existence. It was a young apprentice, Bradystock the Queasy, who finally saw the truth.
Bradystock, after spending a great deal of time translating an ancient tablet, discovered a ritual that would show the truth, but at a terrible cost. The King was hesitant, but eventually decided that the lives of his soldiers, people, and livestock were worth the price.
The ritual revealed that a fair haired girl of low birth marked by crows would save the Kingdom from the Dragon's rein of terror and create great prosperity across all of Cardinia.
Price paid and prophecy in hand, the king dispatched his guard to find the girl and in 3 months time, they had found Yolendi of the Stain. Her hair was the silverly yellow of fresh hay and her arm bore a birthmark in the shape of a raven.
The King outfitted her in the finest arms and armor his stores contained. Magical Ironsilk lined leather armor made from the hide of Ursine the terrible, the demon bear who could not be harmed by mortal weapons. A sword forged from the heart of a fallen starwalker, a blade so strong and sharp that it shattered the unbreakable hammer of Ruuk Ironfist. Finally, she was given a whisper wood shield carved from the heartwood of Tokcha Vandalmar and blessed by the druids of the Vurk's Grove so that any who carried it would not be harmed by flame.
Yolendi asked to be given two mules instead of a horse, and set off on the long journey to Lundergarde's lair at the summit of the Kaasgryn Peaks. After 5 weeks of travel she arrived at the ruins of Haverstock, a former mining town at the foot of the mountain. The path to the summit was treacherous so she took provisions and left the mules behind, tied up near the remains of an old farm house.
The climb was uneventful and soon Yolendi was at the mouth of the Dragon's cave. Despite her magical arms and armor, Yolendi was afraid. The Great Dragon Lundergarde was powerful and had slain thousands of warriors and wizards, each a better fighter than a peasant farmer. She stood frozen outside the entrance for what seemed like days before building up enough courage to enter.
She drew her sword, let out a fierce battle cry, and charged in. As she reached the dragon's treasure mound her feet were ripped out from under her and a great weight pressed down on her from behind. She struggled against the force and slashed wildly behind her with the Starwalker's Blade. Finally she was able to wiggle free and spin around to face her foe.
Before her lay a fallen coat stand covered with cloaks of various sizes and materials that she had tripped over in her blind change and which had fallen on her as she stumbled past. The dragon was nowhere to be found and eventually she realized that the beast must be out terrorizing the citizens of Cardinia.
In the span of several breaths Yolendi realized that she would never be able to defeat the dragon in combat. She came up with an idea for how to take care of Lundergarde for good. She set the coat stand back up and positioned the cloaks so that the fewest number of sword slash marks were visible and waited.
When the dragon returned she carried the corpses of two mules, Yolendi's mules, in her enormous claws. She watched as the dragon stalked to the center of the room, curled up on the large pile of gold in the center of the cave and ate both mules in a single bite.
Yolendi cleared her throat and said in a faint voice, "Excuse me."
The dragon was clearly surprised and immediately stood up and inhaled sharply preparing to cover the room in flames.
"Wait," Yolendi exclaimed with panic in her voice. "Before you burn me to a cinder, I have a proposition for you."
Yolendi told the dragon that in exchange for a pouch full of the dragon's smallest gem stones and her own life, she would travel down into the lands below and start a cattle ranch. Lundergarde could come to the farm and eat her fill of any livestock she desired and the profits made from the ranch would be brought up the mountain once a year and given to the dragon as tribute. This way the dragon could grow her horde, eat fresh cattle, and not have to deal with the annoyance of adventurers and warriors constantly climbing the mountain and trying to kill her.
The Dragon was intrigued by this proposition and decided to grant her request. She would stop raiding the nearby villages and start a ranch. Yolendi started Lundergarde Ranch and grew it to over 100 heads of cattle and a dozen more exotic animals the dragon preferred and before she died of old age.