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Dragon Lore

Chapter One: Once Upon A Time...

By Timothy S PurvisPublished 10 months ago 23 min read
Dragon Lore
Photo by Carlos Cram on Unsplash

Chapter One: Once Upon A Time…

"There weren't always dragons in the Valley…" her grandfather had once spoken. "No, the truth was that that green and verdant place played host to a myriad of creatures you might consider… mythical."

"Yet, they were real? Momma, my mother… sorry," Artessa said pulling her legs to her chest.

Her grandfather looked down upon her then. His gentle eyes piercing her own crystal blue irises. "Why are you sorry?"

"It isn't appropriate for a princess to address her queen mother in such a manner."

"And what fool has drilled that into your head?"

Artessa scrunched up her nose and tried not to frown. "Well… father always says—"

"Your father…" her grandfather hmphed then and offered up a shallow chuckle. "If only he knew half as much as he pretends to. Well, we might not have ever come here to begin with, I fear. The greater our loss, too, I might add."

"I don't understand, grandfather," Artessa said and her grandfather placed a firm, thick hand on her shoulder and rubbed along her back. His smile glistened and his laugh was full of joy.

"There is no need to understand any of it, now. Simply enjoy being a child of seven and worry not about those tidings of the past," her grandfather waved his left hand out towards the valley beyond where the forests rose high above the sparkling river and the plains wavered with the light of a sun slow in its march towards the horizon. Night would come soon, yet the warm air flowed gently and caressed them both where they sat upon a hilltop. "Look, imagine a valley much like this. Full of life and majik…"

"Majik? Like the majik momma says protects me from within your crystal ball up on the mantel place?"

"Oh yes. Much like that, indeed. Now, imagine looking into its recesses. Seeing the great dragons of Minark Rithe soaring high above, speaking in their ways and gossiping of the day's happenings. The denizens following the S'eidinwei, those wise dragons of yore, content in their pleasures," her grandfather sighed and his gaze drifted off over the valley where birds flocked, the fish leapt in the rushing river, the wild dogs and animals frolicked in the reaching plains darting in and out of the forest proper.

Artessa felt an energy growing within her. One derived from the warm winds and the clear blue skies and the verdant lands below and the wildlife at a temporary peace, done with the violent business of survival for the day. Yet, a thought continued rolling in Artessa's head. One of the past: of duties to perform, of an uncertain future that she was sure her parents and her family and her friends and those promised to defend her were keeping out of her awareness. And she turned to look up at her grandfather. A large man with a divided mustache, gray and wise looking, hanging from both sides of his upper lip. His long hair running along his shoulders equally gray and thinning in his age. His mouth smiling yet strangely still downturned. Like a lizard in the lake sunbathing upon a risen rock enjoying the waning sun.

"Were you a king, grandfather?" Artessa queried before she could even consider the words falling from her mouth.

Her grandfather chuckled again but didn't meet her gaze this time. "Once, granddaughter. Once a long time ago and in a kingdom quite far away. But those days have come and gone. Better left to the myths and legends of eager warriors and the lively songs of minstrels."

"Was it Minark Rithe?"

He turned his head and looked down upon Artessa, so young and so innocent, his gaze firm and full of knowledge. Her grandfather let his smile broaden but he spoke no further on the topic.

"It's getting late. Young ladies such as yourself need their beauty sleep if they are to grow up wise and generous in their rule."


Strange that I should think of such things, now… Artessa turned away from her window overlooking the castle courtyard.

Below, knights in full armor sparred and practiced their skills; the clashing of metal on metal, the braying banter of boastful boys, whinnying coughs of already exhausted mounts, and the harsh commands of firm men-at-arms, hired to whip their wards into shape, filled the air blowing through that window.

She walked over to her mantel place whereupon sat her grandfather's ancient orb. Its color pearl and its base a tan claw with long white talons holding the sphere in its rest as a great eagle carrying a feast for its young. Artessa gently touched the top of the orb and pushed down. The claw opened wide allowing her to take the ball from its roost and held the object aloft before her eyes. Within its depths she swore she could see a great valley full of wise dragons gossiping about the day's happenings. Swore she could see villages full of life and hope going about their daily chores without complaint but joy. Could see children playing with the wild creatures of the woods and splashing in the river running through the valley with life providing vitality.

There was… peace.

Not peace from war or hate or fear. But peace of mind. Peace of purpose. Peace of merely existing and she was calm in that moment. Every moment she held her grandfather's orb, she felt that peace and solitude of mind that seemed to evade her ever since his death nearly a decade on.

"And once more I find you reminiscing about your youth and days long gone."

Artessa turned her head and found her mother standing in her doorway. It wasn't as if she didn't hear the door open. Creaking and rusted the hinges as they were. Even the wooden build sounded to splinter upon opening. She smiled at her mother holding the edge of the door in one hand and the frame in the other.

"That door still creaks like a madman raging down the streets in the lewd."

"I keep bringing it up to the castle master that this door needs tending to, yet, he continually excuses himself by suggesting his wards are lazy vagabonds. Shall I be more forceful in my requests?"

Artessa laughed lightly. "And here I thought their duties were first and foremost to the royal family. No. I think it isn't as dire as all of that, mother. In fact, I find it rather comforting. Nobody could dare sneak within my room without my knowing. Maybe, therefore, it should remain a secret security measure, yes?"

"Perhaps," her mother smiled and walked into the room closing the door behind her with a loud squeaking symphonic thump. "Still, it's an annoyance to say the least. I do wish you'd take a more guarded room deeper within the castle. Next to ours, perhaps."

"Indeed," Artessa replied returning her gaze to her grandfather's orb. It almost seemed to glow. "I enjoy it here, mother. Anyhow, I was merely wondering once more upon Minark Rithe. Does it exist, mother? Or is it an old wives' tale?"

"What do you think, daughter?"

Artessa looked to her mother, Relsonia Ni'wayla the third. Queen of the Valley Marivius. Wife to King Kelvin Olvon the second of the kingdom of Olvonia. Daughter of Herald Ni'wayla, the old man of the ancient age whose history had never been spoken. And she forced a smile as she felt the weight of ages on her shoulders.

"I think I've been kept in the dark for far too long, mother. Will you speak of knowledge that has been kept from me? Or am I to remain ignorant as a ruler in the future? Kept from a heritage that might be mine, but also might be rumor and fantasy."

Her mother stood a moment, leaning against the heavy wood of the door, and cast her glance to the floor. Then, she looked towards her daughter.

"You are nearly eighteen. Time enough to learn of your heritage. It's not that I haven't spoken of it directly to keep these things from you. Not in the least," Artessa folded her hands over her stomach as her mother continued. "In fact, you might say I've already told you the tale. Many a time before."

"You and grandfather always told me stories and legends. When did you speak of our heritage?"

"To hear, one has only to listen, Artessa," her mother smiled and stepped forward to grip her daughter's shoulders in her hands. "For now, you have your riding lessons."

"Mother, I already know how to ride a horse. I don't need any further training."

Her mother laughed. "That may be, but there are soldiers down there who have pledged their loyalties to you and I. It would do good to remind them they are not forgotten in their endeavors."

"I suppose."

Artessa pulled away, walked towards her bed, and picked up her vest to throw over her riding wear. Tan pants and white shirt. Elegant but not overly fancy. At least, she hoped that was the case. Then again, maybe a lady of her station was expected to carry such elegance at all times. She sat down and pulled on her knee-high black boots.

"Don't worry, Artessa," her mother said folding her arms across her breasts and watching her daughter finish dressing. "The day will come when all truths will be revealed to you. Until then, we must keep up appearances. As mundane as they may be."

"Indeed," Artessa replied brushing blonde strands of hair out of her eyes and sitting up straight as she folded her hands unto her lap. "A proper lady, that I am. Every morning, riding and waving. Encouraging young, daring men who would be my saviors and defend my being with their very lives. Though, to be honest, I feel that a great many I would have to defend in their steads. By the looks of the brigand below."

Her mother gave a hearty laugh and wiped the tears as a result from her eyes. "Now, now, Artessa. Don't be so flippant. They are brave and courteous. Noble. As should be the want of every kingdom."

Artessa stood and curtsied. An almost absurd gesture given she wore the pants of a rider and not the garments of a princess. Her mother cocked her head towards the door.

"Go greet your adoring saviors, daughter."


Artessa rode hard and fast across the plain towards the valley ridge overlooking the river roaring past the summit of their kingdom. Castle Vassim sat upon the great hilltop overlooking the same river, a cliff of sheer rock falling down towards the banks and the plains below.

"Mi'lady! Mi'lady!" a knight behind her shouted. He struggled to keep pace with her ride, but his mount proved little challenge for her own mare, Prudence. A name her mother had bestowed upon the beast to, 'Remind you of your own position, Artessa. You have a certain responsibility to this nation and your desires are always interfering!'

Ah, those were the days! Artessa laughed and pushed Prudence harder towards the edge of the cliffside leading down into the valley proper, her braided hair flying out behind her like a whip ready to strike any who dared to stand in the way of her progress.

The knight, Jamen Collus, finally caught up only when she brought Prudence to a stop at the trail leading down the cliff and towards the plains below. She cast her glance across the valley remembering a time when she and her grandfather sat upon its summit ruminating of tales and myths and ancient history beyond lore and understanding.

"Mi'lady," Sir Collus said seemingly somehow out of breath when it was his own steed doing the heavy lifting. "It would not be right to transgress into the valley. It is our task to defend you here. Who knows what ne'er-do-wells linger below."

Artessa pulled the reigns of Prudence and turned her towards the knight. "My apologies, Sir Collus. It was my impression you were the better armed defenders in all the kingdom. Was it that I was misinformed?"

"Mi'lady! Of course not!" Sir Collus tried not to yell as the other four in their entourage caught up. "It is just that we have a hard enough time caring for you when you're not running about as you do."

"Why, Jamen, was that an admonition towards your princess?"

Sir Collus pushed his steed closer to her. "Princess, it is our duty to keep you safe. Yet, you are still as ornery as a pup rooting into the staff's shoes."

Artessa chuckled. "You should simmer down. I merely wanted to come to the cliff and remember a time in the past."


"Yes, Jamen, you do have memories where you hail from, do you not?"

He shook his head at her pursed grin. "Mi'lady, it is true we have memories. It would only be simpler if you would stop trying to outrun us."

"Where's the fun in that, Sir Collus?" Artessa cast her glance to the others behind him. "Are you men so shook in your duties you can't give your princess a moment of peace? We've been in practice for hours now, yes?"

"My princess, anything you require is my humble guarantee," one young knight said, his smile broad.

The black bearded man shook his head once more, "As it is you desire, Princess Artessa. So shall it be. Spread out, men. Keep your eyes open and your swords at the ready. Memories are at hand."

Jamen cast a casual smirking glance at Artessa and went to give his knights-in-training further directions. Artessa dismounted and went to sit by the edge of the cliff, ignoring the intended jest. She drew her legs up to her chest and stared out over the valley.

'Secrets are the enemies of wisdom,' she intoned in her own mind. Isn't that what Mavin used to say? She furrowed her brows thinking back on the viceroy they once had five years earlier. He'd argued with her mother over something he held very important and she heard him remark the such as her grandfather bade he leave the castle grounds and never return. Strangely, her father had no qualms over the matter and said nothing of it to her or anybody else that she could remember. Secrets… are the enemies of wisdom. And yet secrets have been kept from me all my life. What is so prescient that these secrets cannot be muttered to me?

A sigh escaped her lips as she kept her gaze on the horizon beyond. The sun was not quite high above the treeline behind her as she watched the birds flittering about, agitated by some beast hunting, she was sure. In fact, her gaze fell upon one such predator far in the distance. A great raptor gliding gently over the far reaches of the forest growing larger in its silhouette.

An eagle? Perhaps a vulture? She held her head up from her arms and let her legs stretch outward as she attempted to suss out the breed of the creature. In its drift, the beast began sliding side to side like the slithering of a snake on the ground. Yet, its wings were wide and she noted a tail waving behind it as well. No great hurry, this bird. What are you?

"By the saints!" Sir Collus screeched in a sudden bellow. "Mount your horses! Princess, your mare! Quick, to the castle!"

Artessa turned towards the man-at-arms and quirked her head. "What bothers you, sir?"

"Mount up! Hurry!"

She did as instructed, her heart heaving heavily in her chest in the process. She glanced back and saw the beast growing closer. It was no bird she had ever seen. In fact, it seemed to be—a dragon! But, that's impossible! Grandfather even said they never followed here… but…

"What is that thing?" a young knight howled.

"Take the princess back to the castle, Williamson! Go! Summon the captain! Tell him a dragon has come and beckons at the gates!"

"A, a dragon! But, they're a myth, are they not, sir?"

"Go, go, go!" Sir Collus commanded as the six of them rode as hard and as fast towards the castle gates as their mounts could carry them.

They seemed to have no issue with that as the meandering beast over the valley continued its slow progress towards them. Young Williamson hurried beside Artessa and encouraged her to ride even harder.

"We're almost there! We must sound the alarm!" he shouted.

Artessa scarcely could utter a word as she looked back. The dragon landed and bore what could only be called a smile as it swept its great talons across the four mounted men challenging its strength. Several went flying, one skewered with a claw, and Sir Collus pulled a spear to jab at the creature. It reared back and let loose a stream of red-hot fire towards the men and their horses.

She turned away, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her eyes fell on her mother racing towards her upon her own steed.

"Artessa!" she screamed. "Artessa!"

Williamson waved her forward. "Go! Return to the queen! I'll signal the alarm!"

Yet, he had hardly rode twelve meters before every soldier in the garrison churned out of the gates and raced towards the beast beyond. Williamson turned to follow and a great roar of battle cries rose up into the air.

"Come on!" her mother commanded coming up beside. "Calimin? No, impossible. He was destroyed. No. It cannot be!"

The queen turned her horse around and raced towards the gates. "Follow, Artessa! Quickly! There isn't any time!"

Artessa matched her mother's harried pace and soon they were through the castle gates. The clashing of swords on scaley flesh echoed throughout the air. Pained voices followed shortly thereafter. Artessa did her best to ignore the anguished death cries of those sworn to defend her.

They dismounted within the courtyard, her mother guiding them towards the tall tower that played host to Artessa's room near the summit.

"Calimin… Calimin… how did he get here? How? It can't be, it can't! No time… No time for such concerns."

Her mother stormed up the spiraling stairwell, Artessa right on her heels. All the while, the queen of the kingdom kept ruminating on some evil she had yet to reveal.

"Mother! Mother! Momma!" Artessa pleaded struggling to keep pace. She was fast and athletic, but her mother ran with the wind of Hermes despite being clothed in a long, billowing dress. "Who is Calimin? Who! How can a dragon be here? Grandfather said they were legends from a long ago place! The Valley out in Minark Rithe!"

"No, no, no…" her mother rattled off picking up the hem of her dress and somehow, impossibly, racing even faster towards the top of the castle tower. At the top, Artessa knew there was a corridor to the depths of the castle itself. Directly connected to the throne room, even. Only the knights guarding the base would come up the stairwell. And she could see why so few deigned to do so. It was an exhausting climb. "No time, no time, no time. I wish there were, but there isn't. Calimin is here. Calimin is here!"

Beads of sweat swelled upon her mother's brow as they reached the hall leading to her room. Her mother slammed the door shut behind them as they entered and hurried towards the mantel.

"Hold out your hands. Hurry!"

Artessa did as requested and her mother slammed a hand upon her grandfather's crystal releasing it from the claw. She removed the orb from its hold and thrust it into her daughter's hands.

"Take it and leave! You have to go now! While there's still time at hand! We're already caught unawares! How could I have allowed this to transpire?" her mother shook her head and stood back.

Artessa held the globe in her hands, stared into its recesses briefly, then returned her gaze to her mother. "I, I don't understand? Where am I to go? There is a dragon at our gates a, a, and I don't know what to do!"

"Don't worry, daughter—"

"Don't worry? There's a dragon attacking our soldiers and you're telling me to run away with my grandfather's crystal! How can I not worry?"

A thrumming boom rattled the tower and a voice came from behind them. Both turned in synchrony.

"Oh, indeed, Relsonia. What a magnificent question to be asked."

Artessa and her mother stared at the window where the dragon Calimin waited patiently, clawed right hand bracing his chin. His grin broad and his teeth sharp and brilliantly white. Twin stripes of iridescent blue and green running down his neck broke the deep red of his scales. His angular face poked in through the small window and ended with pug nostrils that rose and fell with his expelled breath. Somehow, the hot air he exuded had a sweet smell to it. Artessa felt nauseous at this fact given his battle with the knights of Vassim.

"Calimin, you treacherous demon. Last I witnessed you were somewhere deep in the trenches of Ien'to. Drowned by your own ambitions," her mother spat. The vehemence in her voice unlike anything Artessa had ever heard from her mother before.

Queen Relsonia raised both her hands towards the beast in the window, his arms stretched out over the tower roof. Artessa heard his nails digging into the layered ceramic roofing. Calimin moved his head back and forth. Once more reminding Artessa of a snake looking for the opportune moment to strike with lethal accuracy. She held the orb close to her chest watching the standoff between her mother and the dragon.

"Oh, you know, sometimes our own ambitions raise us up. Allow us to see as I see you now," Calimin said, his voice a deep resonating growl; velvety and gritty all in the same moment. "You hid yourself well, I must say. But not even the spread of space and time can keep you from me indefinitely. Oh, and look, your daughter has already done me a favor and holds that which I seek upon her breasts. Simply hand it over, and I'll leave you to your wretched dominion. Ruling over these… pedantic peasants. Concerned with their trivial lives, as they were. Bothersome pests."

"Never, monster. You should have remained in the abyss and ruled in the under realm as is the only station you are deserving of!"

"Now, now, Relsonia," the low intonation of her mother's name rumbled the tower interior as he removed a clawed paw from the tower side, pulling away stone and mortar, and raised his talons into view. His smile grew wider. "There are deeper depths to plumb than that in which you left me in. Hand the orb over, and that will be that. No further destruction need be met. Merely give me what I desire; the last of the seven hearts."

"There! The beast clutches the lady's tower! To arms! To arms!" the clattering armor of knights remaining raced into the courtyard, shouts of angry denizens of the kingdom picking up swords and shields.

Calimin rolled his eyes and glanced down. Her mother closed her eyes and brought forth some magical force driving it towards Calimin with all of her strength. Calimin howled as he fell from the window and down into the courtyard below. Her mother turned immediately towards Artessa dropping the glowing white and blue energy barrier. A great boom echoed out as the beast hit the ground and the screams of those coming to fight howled their rage.

A cacophonous din filled the air and heat filled the tower. Her mother fixed her eyes with her own, "Quick! Hold the orb to your bosom! Do it now!"

"Mother, what was that? What did you—"

"Do you not hear me, daughter? If only I could say, but he will only be hindered for—"

The entire top portion of the tower ripped away and Calimin perched atop the remains, anger in his vivid, red eyes. The remnants of the tower summit rained down upon the courtyard below. Screams and shouts and agonized howls rose up to join the shouting commands of knights racing up the spiral stairwell beyond the door. Her mother turned a swift pirouette and blasted white blue energy towards the door driving the stone inner walls into it holding the entrance in place and, in an instant swirl, brought her barrier back up between them and Calimin.

"Oh, Relsonia, not wishing our reunion interrupted by those brave fools claiming to be your protector? I don't blame you. Merely cannon fodder to the offering," Calimin covered the wide opening of the freshly cleaved tower top and glowered down upon them both. "Give me the orb! Always you and your ilk denying me what is rightfully mine by birth!"

Calimin brought down a massive claw and met the resistance of the growing force before her mother. Then, Relsonia did the one thing Artessa didn't expect, she pulled one hand to the side and shot energy straight at her chest.

"Hold the orb to your breast! Hold it to the center, Artessa! Ensure your grip is strong!"

One hand held the great beast back as he stomped and battered, spat crimson fire and wrapped his massive jaws around the curved air in front of the queen. All attacks that her mother held back, though the sweat on her brow increased. Artessa held the orb to her breast and stared at her mother.

"What are we to do! Where are we to go?"

"I love you, Artessa. Seek out the tomb of your grandfather…"

"B, but…!"

A roar filled the sky as Calimin broke from the tower top. Pounding at the doorway joined the chorus of discharged majik, roaring dragon, screaming people, and crumbling stone. And her mother's eyes glowed a sharp blue. The pulsating power within her engulfing her entire form. Her dress billowed broadly around her like a cloak of protection. And a void opened around Artessa.

She couldn't speak. She couldn't think. She could only hold as tightly as she could to the orb, feeling the strange power within it raising up through her arms tingling her senses and casting a bright light in her eyes. As if she was staring out from a brilliance she could barely fathom.

"If this is how you will have it, Relsonia, so be it!" Calimin boomed and gripped the tower side once more.

Every portion of Artessa's being trembled. Her flesh pulsed. Her mind blanked. She could only watch as her mother focused her one hand upon her, driving her back into some dark space, as the demon Calimin stared at them both, his own eyes a deep glowing crimson red. Energy spilled outward as some out of control fire. He drove his tail into the side of the tower as her mother turned her full attention towards the dragon and held her barrier before her once more.

"Never more shall it be, monster!" her mother shouted pushing back against Calimin as the tower shook.

"As you wish, my queen!" he responded raising his paw high into the air.

A void collapsed around Artessa and she screamed, "Momma!"

The floor beneath her mother collapsed and she fell through, the barrier dissipating. Calimin stared at Artessa with his malicious eyes and her whole body convulsed as his words covered her in the angry resonance of his chaos and his paw slammed into the tower where her mother had only recently stood.

"I see you, princess. I will always see you!"

The sheer force of his words pounded against her flesh and she screamed yet refused to let loose the crystal within her grip.

Then, there was only the void.


About the Creator

Timothy S Purvis

Just a writer trying to find his way in this crazy world. I have a blog at and I'm selling my books over at Amazon on the Kindle. Check it out and thanks for stopping by. Just type in Timothy S Purvis.

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