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by Stewart Brewer 4 months ago in Fantasy
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Realm of Fire

Ignus: Realm of Fire

There weren't always dragons in the Valley. Neither were there heroes…

The scaly beast's razor sharp claws barely miss slashing E's throat as he dodges just in time. Instinctively, he pivots, thrusting his sword deep into the dragon's chest. The sword comes close but misses the mark. It is stuck in the thick, black scale covering the dragon's heart. Recoiling from the blow, the dragon falls from the mountain cliff, taking E along with it. Twirling as they plummet together towards the jagged rocks below, the dragon spreads his wings, righting himself at the last moment. Hanging on with all his might, E dangles perilously from his sword protruding from the dragon's chest as it flies back to Mal Un's castle. As they disappear from sight, an ominous black moon winks in the foggy night sky.

In a small, dimly lit dwelling carved into the side of a grassy hillock sits a gray-haired man wearing a white robe. Sophos puts his reading lenses on the end of his nose as he holds a dusty leather scroll near the flickering candle. He rocks gently back and forth as he studies the words. Murmuring low in the long-forgotten language of the ancients, he carefully deciphers the cryptic prophecy. His eyes open wide and his face contorts into a pained scowl as understanding turns to horror. "No! No! This cannot be!" he exclaims, but there is no one there to hear him. Shaken by the foretelling, he leans back in his chair and rubs his temples. After taking a moment to steady himself, he waves his hands briefly, then touches his index finger to the side of his nose as the lifeless embers in the fireplace burst into flames. Using a willow branch he lights his pipe. Deep in thought, he draws a slow puff from a long-necked pipe. Wisps of white smoke curl up into the night air above his linen hat. Troubled by the writings, Sophos drinks strong mead and nods off to sleep in a chair covered with loose animal furs. Troubled is his sleep. Batting his arms against unseen foes, dreadful dreams leave him restless and he awakens with a start. Hands trembling, the mystic adjusts his reading lenses and again pores over the scroll. It remains unchanged. Reading aloud he whispers, "When realms of air, water and fire align, a portal unto a dark realm shall open and a great evil will fall upon the land. A black moon shall swallow this realm and there will be unending darkness." Squinting through anguished eyes, he peers again more closely, spying something at the bottom of the scroll. Hidden amongst the decorative artwork lies more text. Translating the glyphs from an even more ancient language he reads, "All will be lost unless the one chooses love."

Meanwhile in the heart of the village, Honeymel sits braiding her long, red hair when a large piece of roof is unexpectedly torn from the house by a dragon. Grabbing her father's sword and shield, Mel leaps just as the dragon spits a billowing stream of fire at her. Deflecting another fiery blast with the shield as she runs, Mel retreats down the stairs escaping outside to hide beneath the cover of the thick forest. Having failed to capture Mel, the dragon turns and with a hushed whoosh of wings returns to his master.

Early the next morn, Sophos gathers traveling supplies in a satchel, summoning his staff as he heads towards the door. The staff flies to meet his outstretched hand. The cottage's "door" is the trunk of a mighty willow tree. As he approaches, an opening appears where heretofore there was wood. After he passes through the threshold, it once again becomes solid.

Sophos sets out on his journey. After walking at a good pace for a time, he approaches the woods surrounding Spes when he hears a faint cry, like that of a dove just off the road. Seeing at first only her fiery braid from behind an oak tree, he asks, "Mel, is that you? Are you alright?" "Yes, tis me. I am ok," she sniffles. "What has happened, child? Why are you in the woods, crying?" he asks. "Another fire-breather attacked the village last night and I fled to the woods. I know not if anyone was hurt." Turning to look up into his ice blue eyes, "Why doth this happen? How can we live when we are besieged by such creatures? Who can make it stop?" she cries. Helping her to her feet, he says, "Do not lose heart, child. Come with me and together we shall find a way to stop this evil." They walk for a while in silence until Sophos says, "I read a dark foretelling which said an alignment of three realms is nigh. Let us travel to Periculum, where we will find gems to activate the ancient portals." "To Periculum, the dark mountain?" she asks with fear and dread in her voice. "Yes child, that may be our only hope of salvation," he says solemnly. "First, let us see what there is to see," he says as he digs into his satchel. He pulls out a leather drawstring bag and holds up a shiny, black sphere. He gently tosses it into the air but instead of falling, it floats before him. Sophos waves his hands near the orb and it awakens. Mel gasps at the orb floating between them. The hovering orb changes from the blackest black to snowy white and then becomes crystal clear. Sophos speaks an otherworldly tongue in a droning chant and the orb shoots high into the sky above them. Spinning, as if to see in all directions, the orb slowly drifts back down and floats once again between them. Sophos appears to gaze deeply into the orb, but instead peers through the orb into the beyond. A moment passes as he stands transfixed by what he sees. Suddenly, he blinks and the orb goes black. Sophos snatches it from the air, as if it might escape, then returns it to the leather bag. "What did you see?" Mel asks timidly. "I saw the darkness growing," he sighs. "Come child, we must hasten if we are to save this realm. I fear it may already be too late. It falls on us to find the chosen one and the gems before all is lost," he says with a mix of hope and fear in his voice.

Arriving at Mal Un's castle, the wounded dragon lands hard prepared to resume the fight with the swordsman but E is ready. As soon as the dragon's feet hit the ground, E kicks and pulls with all his remaining strength, dislodging the sword from the dragon's scale. He bolts away and slides down between two walls of the castle before the dragon can give chase. Instead of pursuing him, the dragon curls up and begins gently blowing blue flames onto her injured scale. The scale glows until it is red hot and the wound vanishes.

"What is this place?" I wonder. We must have passed into another realm because this is definitely not Domos. Wishing I was back in The Valley, I force my feet forward as the sweat drops from my brow sizzle on the blistering obsidian under my feet. I've only been here a few moments and already I miss The Valley's cool, green grass and the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle wafting through the air. Instead of honeysuckle, the acrid smell of sulphur vomits up from cracks in the ground mixing with a sickly sweet odor of decay filling my eyes with tears. Leaning my hand against the castle wall for a moment to rest, I withdraw it urgently as the castle walls are burning hot. What kind of evil must live in such a place, I wonder? Then all at once the thought strikes me like a club, "If I passed through a portal, how will I be able to return? How can I get back to Mel?" My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of something stirring nearby, something big. Pressing myself flat against the stone wall, I feel its heat through my clothes. Passing in front of me a few yards away is another, even bigger dragon being led by some sort of creature. The creature is short and compact. Its arms and legs have powerful-looking, dense muscles covered by a scaly skin, making it look like the unholy offspring of a person and dragon. Once they pass, I scurry to a shadowy corner hidden by some piles of garbage. My mind wanders to Mal Un. Who or what is he? What does he look like? Where does his power come from? Can he be vanquished? If so, how? These thoughts race through my mind in a flash. "It matters not what happens to me, you shall be stopped. This I swear," I whisper. Somehow, I must slip inside the castle, find Mal Un and find a way to defeat him. With such a solid plan, how can I go wrong? I grin and laugh as I begin climbing the scorching hot castle walls.


About the author

Stewart Brewer

Stewart Brewer has a curious mind and enjoys learning new things. He also enjoys reading books of many different genres. It is his love of reading that sparked his interest in writing.

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