Enter the Dragon
Child of The Dragon Series
There weren’t always dragons in the valley. Once the war began all kinds of creatures sought refuge in the quiet hamlet of Moepe. First came the trolls. Displaced from their lands, the trolls fled north on foot in legions, leaving gigantic holes in the ground as they trampled their way to safety. Wizards and fairies came next. The wizards were the most startling appearances to the mortal villagers. They had the power to concoct spells. Their magic allowed them to transport to places with nothing more than a brisk flair of their hand, appearing out of thin air in purple poofs of smoke. The shade of the smoke varied. The deeper color smoke meant the more powerful the wizard. The fairies, fragile creatures, preferred to travel in the cover of darkness. These small beings weren’t an inconvenience for the villagers. Many fairies could fit into the tavern unnoticed.
The dragons, not so much. The arrival of dragons in Moepe was a different affair. Isolated, the dragons had long ago preferred to exist in the mountains. It was rare to stumble upon one, but most were peace-loving creatures if one happened into their territory. The war drew new boundaries and many dragons found themselves in the crosshairs of battle. They chose to leave their homes in search of sanctuary.
As the war began, Flights of dragons, some too old to fight, some too young, filled the sky above the village of Moepe as they scouted a safe landing spot. Many of them preferred to perch on Kagel Rey, the highest peak of the Dargarsar mountains which framed the sky around the valley. As beautiful as the mountains were, it was much too dangerous to stay there long.
Into the valley the dragons came, the oldest first. Dragons were loyal, dutiful even, and cared for their young much the same way as any other creature. It was safer in the village. The humans were in charge.
At first, the dragons kept to themselves. The village medicine elder remembered that dragons liked the sweetness of fruit, and the valley was lined with persimmon trees. Villagers would fill troughs with persimmon water around the perimeter of their barns. The villagers would open their barn doors wide, then scurry away. The dragons would watch from a distance until the humans were out of sight. Slowly the dragons would approach, sniffing the dirt all around the barn before drinking the fruity water. After it was deemed suitable, the dragons would retire in the safe folds of hay in the barn. Gone by morning, the only evidence they were there were the stacks of abandoned, flattened straw.
The dragons trusted no one with good reason. Voldo’s spies could be anywhere, or they could be anything. Precautions were necessary.
The war had changed so much for so many. The people of Moepe were hospitable and welcomed all the creatures, in their homes, in their barns. No complaints were registered when trolls made camp by the river.
Moepe’s tactical location made an excellent staging point for the fighters. It was the last village before the mountain passage into Voldo’s lands.
Humans, along with creatures volunteered to serve in Ogard’s army. Ogard was their only chance. He fought for the good of the world - for all beings to exist and avoid annihilation. His soldiers called themselves the ‘resistants.’ It was up to them to defeat Voldo, an evil warlock. Voldo’s forces were a blend of magic and his sires, the dreaded Kir-kirk. These spell concocted wolfmen were cunning devious intrepids that spared no life. Annihilation was their directive. The Kir-kirk were born to end all species.
The wizards were the most betrayed by Voldo, he served as their high chief. He spared none of them now, and if given the opportunity he would end a wizard before all else.
The wizards were the first to offer their services to Ogard’s army. Their magic helped advance the fight, using their sorcery to peek into the battlefields and give warnings. The trolls were workers, using their beastly muscles to move artillery as needed. The fairies were useful as spies. The dragons served as reliable transports. Their love of flight combined with speed proved useful for moving the commanders to and from battle.
Voldo’s defeat posed no small task. He was very powerful. It would take all the good creatures working in unison to have a chance. No one was afraid to die. Everyone had a purpose. If the creatures couldn’t overcome the master wizard there would be no world left to live in anyway.
Willow kicked a jagged rock out of her way as she walked along the mountain pass. The snow-covered peaks were majestic, especially against the backdrop of the red haze that filled the air above. The scenery was a reminder, that good and bad existed in this world. She felt safe on today’s mission. Willow’s worry was for her friends, the soldiers on the battlefields. The fighting was a good bit away, well over the mountain pass into Voldo’s lands. The recent battles must be fierce, the blue sky was no more. How many of her friends had perished? She shook her head, unable to contemplate the evilness of war. Willow hoped for her friends safe return. They would tell all about their triumphs in the tavern over a pint of dark ale. At least, she hoped that was the case.
War. It was all she’d ever known. Willow had no memories of anything other, no peaceful times. Willow had no memories of anything before living in the valley. Moepe was her home, she felt it in her bones, this was her place, her people. Moepe offered a simple life. Or it did once.
Willow had celebrated sixteen Sun equinoxes. She was a child no more, but she was not allowed a place in Ogard’s army. ‘Not yet,’ her uncle Slav would tell her. She was delegated to minor tasks, and for now, that would have to do.
“Good morning,” Pic said as he bumped into her side on purpose, making Willow shift her weight. His light footsteps startled Willow. Usually she was more dialed into her circumstances. Willow frowned, annoyed with herself.
Pic smiled a toothy grin as he doubled over, catching his breath, his hands resting on his thighs. No doubt his oversleeping caused him to have to sprint up the hillside to catch up with her.
Pic was good company. Willow smiled at her friend. Pic was as predictable as he was loyal. They were the same age and had much in common. Willow removed her hood as her brown hair cascaded around her face. She searched her side purse for the sourdough loaf she had set aside.
“Here,” she said as she offered Pic the bread. “I figured you’d be late.”
The image of the bread was enough to entice him to straighten his posture. “Many thanks. I have not broken my fast,” Pic said as he put half the loaf in his mouth at once.
Willow shook her head. Pic was not regarded as reliable. In many ways, he was all that a young man should be. Carefree and optimistic. As she watched him eat the bread, she wondered if he had always been so pleasing to the eye. His body had matured while his playful nature had not. Pic had the ambition to protect those he loved but unlike Willow, he was satisfied to wait until it was his turn.
“Chew and walk,” Willow suggested as she re-arranged the sword that hung on her side. The leather shoulder strap that held her weapon was a hand-me-down, so the worn material would not stay adjusted properly.
Pic nodded as he devoured the last bite of bread. “What time is the scroll being delivered?”
“Sometime mid-morning. I don’t want to be late,” Willow said as she walked faster. Now that Pic had arrived, she could pick up the pace. She would never admit that she hadn’t wanted to leave too much distance between the village, not when she wasn’t outfitted with a transponder.
Pic only nodded in agreement. “I wonder what news the scribe will bear. The red haze has traveled far,” he said pointing towards the sky. “It’ll be hard to watch for the landing.”
“I know. That’s why we need to get there and be ready. In case he’s early.”
The two walked the path, their footsteps in stride together. Their duty was not dangerous, but it was important. Pic and Willow had done this mission many times. Ogard sent missives to the village. Typically, it was a wizard delivering these important messages.
The wizards would appear in the vicinity of the designated meeting spot, at Eagle Cove, halfway up the pass. The location made it easy to get there in a short amount of time on foot, only a couple of hours in good conditions.
Eagle Cove was a level area on the mountainside. A good place to wait. It was up to Pic and Willow to be in place as the wizard could not stay long. Their magic had been weakened. Willow overheard her uncle speaking about it, one of the many conversations she gleaned information with her ear pressed to a closed door. Voldo was working on a spell to prevent the wizards from transporting altogether.
Sometimes the missives were written scrolls, which carried a liability of interception. More often the messages were relayed verbally, especially updates on the war and strategic battle information.
Sometimes it was specific messages to loved ones. This happened when a soldier was gravely injured. These were the hardest messages to deliver. It was an honor to relay someone’s last thoughts, their final goodbyes.
Whatever the message today, Willow was determined to deliver it to the commander in the village. She believed every ounce of diligence got her closer to a more important role in the army.
“Almost there,” Willow said as they topped the rise in the path that gave way to Eagle Cove.
She was relieved, eager to rest a bit before the missive arrived. Today she intended to ask questions about what was happening on the front lines. The break would give her time to work up her courage and organize her thoughts.
The transponder implanted in Pic’s wrist started pinging, first one long beep repeated by shorter multiple beeps.
Looking towards the skies, Willow feared the worst - ambush. She gripped the hilt of her sword and widened her stance, leaving Pic to read the transponder’s message that appeared on his skin.
“What’s it say?” Willow whispered.
Pic narrowed his eyes as he read the message that appeared on his wrist. This way of communication was the invention of the wizards. The signal in the transponder wasn’t strong but it worked well in the surrounding areas of the village.
“There’s been a breach. One of the lookouts says a dragon is flying towards the village.”
Willow’s brow creased. “A dragon?”
Pic grabbed her by the elbow as he led her under the nearest canopy of trees.
“It’s one of Voldo’s dragons. The Santicot.”
Willow’s blood chilled in her veins. She had never seen a Santicot dragon. No one alive had.
Something terrible must have happened, for one of the warrior dragons to be turned loose.
Pic and Willow kneeled under the tree branches, keeping still as they watched the sky over the mountains. A dragon’s flight was quick. If the scouts ahead had already seen the creature, it should be getting close to their location.
Pic and Willow were in a good position to observe and report to the village. Pic could send a warning message on his transponder. Any intel they could deliver could save lives.
The sky hummed as birds scattered to their hiding spots, in anticipation of the hunter’s arrival.
Willow marveled that animals knew of impending danger; their instincts were an advantage. The red haze of the battle fires lingered overhead. Pic’s eyes were wide as his fingers braced his weight against the ground.
“There,” Pic jutted his jaw towards the distance in front of them, high above the snow-covered peaks. Willow squinted her eyes. There was an orange mass moving quickly in the sky towards them. The Santicot would have to fly over them. Eagle Cove was the route to Moepe.
“Be still,” Pic instructed. Willow was armed with her sword. Pic had no weapons. He said he had no need for them.
The dragon circled overhead, craning its neck as it surveyed the ground below. It did not advance toward the village of Moepe.
“What’s it doing?” Willow mouthed as Pic looked at her.
“I don’t know,” he mouthed back, covering his wrist where the transponder was implanted with his opposite hand.
The Santicot circled the sky above them, flying in a large swath, descending in altitude with each pass.
As the beast flew lower in the sky, Willow clutched the hilt of her sword with wide eyes. This dragon was huge in mass, the largest she’d ever seen. Its muscles were constrained by the orange harness that fit snugly over its body.
On its next pass, the dragon changed its flight pattern, hovering over the tree branches that concealed them. Its yellow eyes searched the ground. Willow felt the icy prick of its stare, the warlock magic of his master.
“It’s landing,” Pic whispered, as the Santicot descended to the flat landing of Eagle Cove.
“Don’t charge it,” Pic said as Willow lunged forward. Pic grabbed her by the wrist to stop her.
“Let’s see what it does first,” Pic suggested.
Willow shook her head. “I won’t let it slaughter us.”
The Santicot did not land, it hovered in the air as it exhaled its breath with a loud snort.
Willow took Pic’s hand in her own. Pic squeezed her hand in turn. There was no use hiding anymore. The Santicot had magical powers. The dragon knew there were there.
“We can’t outrun it,” Willow declared. If this was her fate; she would meet it headfirst. Pic could tell by the set of her jaw that she would fight. Willow would die with honor before she surrendered.
“We go together,” Pic declared. Willow nodded, adrenaline racing through her veins. The two of them stepped out from the cover of the tree canopy. Willow released Pic’s hand, drawing her sword. The Dragon’s yellow eyes fixed on Willow's sword and it flew backward ever so slightly.
“Willow,” the Dragon said her name.
“You must come with me.”
About the Creator
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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!
Original narrative & well developed characters
Compelling and original writing
Creative use of language & vocab
Easy to read and follow
Well-structured & engaging content
Heartfelt and relatable
The story invoked strong personal emotions
Zero grammar & spelling mistakes
On-point and relevant
Writing reflected the title & theme
Expert insights and opinions
Arguments were carefully researched and presented
Niche topic & fresh perspectives
Great to see other races outside orcs, elves, humans, and dwarves. (Although dwarves are always welcome). Sounds like voldo is a nasty piece of work. Hopefully all of the unified races can knock him down a peg or two.
I'm interested in where this goes. I hope you continue it!
Good job! I could see some places where the word count could be brought down, but overall it was well done. :)
Well done. Loved the ending and wanted more.
Very good setup for a longer story
This was a very well written. Fantastic story. I enjoyed reading it