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by Thomas Durbin 4 months ago in Fantasy
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wormwood absinthe

Chapter 1

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Enchantress Selene had inhabited the realm known as Valley long before the arrival of dragons. Her invitation to enter Valley had been accepted by the elder dragons, Mysteris and Cymru, on behalf of their thunder.

Cymru was a magnificent red dragon known as Y Ddraig Goch in the old language. He had been ruling alongside Mysteris for a millenia. The language of their homeland was still spoken by the elders and taught to the hatchlings. The elders spoke of the days of old as they taught the yearlings to control their bursts of flames, to fly, and to think. Despite their size, power, and ferocity, intelligence and strategy were their primary assets and the elders knew it. The thunder of Galacius, the ice dragon, had not endured for six millennia merely on strength and fire. Galacius was the first of the great philosophers among dragons. Galacius taught his offspring that training the mind was as important as training the body. He spent centuries contemplating all possible scenarios, experimenting with ideas, and perfecting his gambits. His knowledge was passed from generation to generation and recorded in the high aeries of the ancient homeland.

Galacius had a rare friendship with Decimus, one of the Generals of Men. Decimus and Galacius shared a love of mind games and challenged each other on the gaming boards of Scorpius. At the boards, they exchanged ideas and tested gambits as they would be enacted in actual battles. Their skills were honed to the finest degree during their hours testing each other at the boards of Scorpius. Their efforts proved fruitful in every battle in which each engaged their forces. Neither suffered the ignominy of defeat during their respective reigns over dragons and men. As a mark of the greatness of their friendship, on a rare occasion, Galacius carried Decimus into battle against the forces of the great sorceress, Isthmelda.

Mysteris was a direct descendent of Galacius, the ice dragon. She was the eldest of the ice dragons and the most powerful member of the Thunder of Galacius. Her wisdom had impressed Enchantress Selene, who knew of the history of Galacius and Decimus from her training in Etherworld. Selene sought a similar bond with Mysteris and the two became a formidable pair, both feared and respected throughout Valley and in the villages of people in Land of Misty Streams. Land of Misty Streams was the bountiful land inhabited by the descendants of the people of Decimus beyond Valley. It was vigilantly protected by Mysteris and Selene. In return for protection, the descendants of the people of Decimus mined the ores of Valley and reaped the crops in Land of Misty Streams. They brewed the absinthe and smelted the gold prized by the Thunder of Galacius and Enchantress Selene.

Valley was a land of torment, dotted with caldera, geysers, and hot springs that made it nearly impossible to navigate. Mature dragons flew across the desolate stretches of landscape hiding fertile murky fens, wormwood bottoms, and enchanted timberlands on daily patrols to exercise their wings and sharpen their senses. Young dragons patrolled well-worn trails and perched on rocky outcroppings keeping watch over the lands of Valley. Any sentient creature caught in Valley was brought before Mysteris and Selene.

Mysteris and Selene decided the fates of all who entered Valley in the high court in the aerie above the entrance to Land of Misty Streams. Seldom did an invader succeed in pleading a case justifying trespass in the land of Valley before Mysteris and Selene. Sentences imposed in their court were harsh and executed without delay. Cymru, the red dragon, bore the responsibility of executing sentences for the high court. Emblazoned on the wall of the high court in the old language was the oath "Gwasanaethu ac Amddiffyn" above the visage of a shieldmaiden of Decimus riding Maisie, a red dragon and the mate of Galacius.

Their oath had been upheld against challenges from rival Thunders and Kinds of Men for three millennia since Enchantress Selene invited Mysteris and Cymru and the Thunder of Galacius to share Valley and the bounties of Lands of Many Streams. A new challenge from the mightiest of the remaining Thunders and a newly crowned King of Men from the outer realm for possession of Valley must soon be met by the forces of Mysteris and Selene.


About the author

Thomas Durbin

Raised in rural east-central Illinois, I appreciate nature and the environment. I'm a father, grandfather, professional engineer, leader, researcher, coach, scouts leader, stoic, minimalist, costumer, historian, traveler, and writer.

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