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Orienous and Delaemol

by Karen Eastland 3 months ago in Fantasy
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Dark Fire Reigns

Delaemol (Del-ee-mol)

There weren't always dragons in the Valley, but with the dawn came fire and from the fire, dragons rose. In the beginning, the people thought they came to save them. How wrong they were.

“Ester? Ru— oh god!” Marcus cried as her hand slipped from his and she fell.

He thought she might’ve fallen over the edge, but that would have been a mercy.

“Ester?” he screamed, dropping to his knees, searching the ground through thick smoke for just a hand, a finger, for anything to lead him to his love. “Ester?”

Ester’s screams died in the fire, and just when Marcus thought he’d found her, the dragon swooped down and picked her body from the side of the mountain pass they’d been travelling. He looked up to see the dragon swallow her whole, and a part of him died with her. The pass was engulfed with flame, and Marcus escaped by the skin of his teeth. He was protected by a large boulder. It shielded him from the heat while other boulders melted.

They’d heard a tale about a saviour on the mountain. Were sent by seers to find the one known as Orienous (Or-ree-nous). Those who first witnessed the arrival of the dragons had sent scouts to every corner of the realm to find a legend. None had travelled as far as Marcus and Ester.

Orienous was said to have the power to control the dragon horde, but Marcus thought she was just that, a legend, but Ester believed, and he believed in her. It was his love for Ester that kept him on the path, on the hunt, for the elusive Orienous.

In the time before the dragons, Orienous, frequented the village taverns and told her tales of her power over dragons, but her stories had been reduced to myth. She said they would return and when they did, they’d be angry, hungry. So they came, and they were, still are, angry, hungry and they’d been feasting for over two-hundred-years.

“The dragons,” Marcus’s mother told him when he was just a boy, “were slain. They’re beautiful creatures of pure magic. If they ever do come back, it’ll be to protect us.”

“Yeah. Right!” Marcus said, listening to the cries of the dragon as it hunted him.

He was trapped between a rock and a hard place… literally, and the love of his life was gone. The flames were dying, and the dragon had given up its hunt. The sun was setting, and night was falling. Marcus had no time to mourn his Ester, no-one in the new world had time to mourn their losses. It was kill or be killed and their houses were in order before every great battle, every great journey, and this was the greatest journey, because it was the last.

Every mountain terrain had been explored, and no Orienous.

“Pull yourself together, Marcus,” he said, peering around the boulder, checking for an escape. “Time to go.”

After securing his backpack of rations, making sure the dagger on his belt was secure, and after making sure the coast was clear, Marcus got to his feet and started up the mountain.

“You’d better be here, bitch!” he muttered. “We’ve lost—”

“Everything?” a female voice echoed as if from a large, cavernous dome some way ahead of him. “Are you looking for me?”

“Depends,” Marcus said, and pulled the dagger from its sheath. “Who are you?”

“Well,” the voice said, and it was nearer, “that’s the question, isn’t it?”

Marcus took several more steps up the mountain, towards the voice, ready to slaughter at a moment’s notice.

“Why’s that the question?” he asked, took another step and to the left of him he saw a dark opening and someone standing just out of sight in the middle of it. “Are you Orienous?”

“That depends,” the woman said and stepped from the darkness wearing a thick deer hide coat, boots, and holding a spear. “Who are you, and what could you possibly want from her?”

The woman was standing on the lip to the edge of an embankment separating the entrance of the cave from the pass, barring Marcus’s way forward. He was about to speak when something behind her captured his attention.

“What? What is that?” he asked as a pair of bright burnished orange eyes moved towards them.

“What’s what? Oh, you mean him,” she said, raised a hand and from out of the cave, walked the strangest juvenile dragon Marcus had ever seen. “This is Delaemol. Isn’t she beautiful?”

Instead of answering, Marcus raised his dagger and lunged towards the embankment. He was scrambling to get to where the woman was, his grief pushing him forward, but when he neared the top, a greenish gold scaley paw reached down and took him by the hand. Before Marcus knew what was happening, he was being held mid-air by Delaemol.

“Now,” the woman said, “I could have Delaemol put you down, but why are you looking for me?”

“Orienous?”

“That’s me.”

“So? Why are you here?” Orienous asked. “shouldn’t you be fighting dragons on the lower plains somewhere? Surely an old drunk like me has nothing to offer the towns people?”

“I… I… I’ve been sent to—”

“Find me? Put him down now, Delaemol.”

Delaemol dropped Marcus to the rocky ground. The pain if his landing was accentuated by the sharp stones partially buried beneath the earth and when he screamed, Delaemol ran back into the cave.

“Now look what you’ve done,” Orienous said, barely containing her anger. “Come in. Delaemol won’t come out again for a few days now… you know, you’ve just undone six-weeks work!”

Marcus picked himself up off the ground, choked down his fear and followed Orienous into the cave. Delaemol bounded ahead of them, his tail slamming the dusty ground, creating small plumes like dust bombs as he bounded, and Marcus was more than a little conflicted. Not too far from the entrance, the cave opened into a huge cavern. An open fire was roaring in the middle of it, and on a stone ledge towards the back was Delaemol. He was lying down, staring at Marcus.

“Is he going to eat me?” Marcus asked.

Orienous motioned for him to take a seat next to the fire. A rabbit was rotating on a crudely made rotisserie. She handed him a clay fired bowl, then pulled the back roasted legs from the rabbit and gave Marcus one.

“Delaemol? Come on, Delaemol,” Orienous called. “It’s okay. He won’t hurt you.”

“Hurt him?” Marcus asked in disbelief. “His grandad ate my girlfriend.”

Orienous laughed so hard she had to stand to hold her stomach.

“What the?” Marcus asked, his anger rising.

He pulled his dagger from his belt again and made a dash for the stone outcrop where Delaemol was lying.

“Stop!” Orienous commanded, and Marcus stopped. “Sit. Back. Down.”

Marcus had no control over his body. He mechanically walked back to the fire and sat.

“Now, if you want to live… if you want to save those worthless mortals of the lower plains,” Orienous said. “You’ll shut up and you’ll listen.”

Marcus couldn’t answer, couldn’t move.

“Good,” Orienous said. “Now we can talk. Eat your rabbit.”

Marcus picked up his bowl and began eating the rabbit she’d served him.

“It’s all right Delaemol?” Orienous said. “He can’t hurt you now.”

Delaemol climbed from his ledge, gave Marcus a wide berth, walked around the fire and sat next to Orienous.

“Here you go,” she said and pulled the rest of the rabbit off the rotisserie.

Delaemol’s eyes sparkled and the crunch and crackle of the rabbit in his mouth unnerved Marcus, no end. It was the same sound he heard when Ester was eaten. He wanted to run but couldn’t move unless Orienous allowed it.

“So, this is the deal,” she began. “Delaemol will not… let me start again, cannot harm you or any mortal. He is not like the dragon’s terrorising you family and friends… I could’ve plenty of times… but bully for me for not doing it.”

Marcus was transfixed on Delaemol, and not because Orienous had complete control of him. He could hear the words, but his anger, his grief, was drowning out the message.

“Hey!” Orienous snapped. “Look at me!”

Marcus shifted his gaze as though his eyeballs were made of steel and Orienous’s words were a magnet.

“Oh good, rapt attention,” Orienous said. “As I was saying, Delaemol won’t hurt you. He was born the day the dark dragons rose. I did warn you all that day would come, but when I’m around… mortals, my power doth overflow and the ale doth keep me from… well, from slaughtering you all.”

Marcus sat staring at her, chewing on a rabbit’s hind leg bone because Orienous said, to.

“Speak!”

“What the,” Marcus said, spitting the bone into the fire. “Why would you want to slaughter your own kind?”

“You are not my kind, and my power is rooted in darkness. It’s why I live up here,” she said. “The mountain, the sky, the earth is greater than my power.”

“So, not mortal?”

“No… and yes,” she said and ran her hand down along Delaemol’s snout.

“What do you mean?” Marcus asked.

“I may look like you,” Orienous said, stood and picked up a gourd, filled two cups and handed him one. “Take it.”

Marcus reached for the cup and rested it on his lap.

“Drink,” she said. “Can I trust you not to go for Delaemol again? A nod for yes, a shake for no.”

Marcus looked at the dragon and how it was obedient, or reliant, to Orienous. He didn’t want to get eaten too, so nodded.

“You can move again,” she said. “And speak, but if you reach for that dagger, I will throw you outside and feed you to the dark dragons myself. Do we understand each other?”

Marcus nodded before he found his voice.

“Yes. Yes. Okay, no dagger,” Marcus said, “but can he just stay there with you?”

“Of course, he will,” Orienous said, and stroked the dragon’s snout again.

Delaemol nuzzled into her neck and his eyes flashed a range of light and colour, finally settling on a bright yellow. They were cool like gold, with flecks of black and red sparkling against the yellow glow of the cavern.

“Delaemol is not of the lineage of the dark,” Orienous said. “He is of the old ones and will bring into the world a new race of dragons and together they will defeat the dark ones.”

“How?” Marcus asked. “There’s only one of him.”

“Do you know what I loathe? Mortals and their linear idea of time. Their belief in the supernatural, but not in the truth of the supernatural, unless it fits in their puny little minds. Well, look around you… what’s your name?

“Marcus.”

“Marcus. So, listen up and look around, ‘cause I think it’s time for a history lesson. There are more of the old ones than your puny little mortal mind could even conceive. You’re near the top of a mountain, the enemies outside and here we sit with your salvation… have you seen it yet?”

Orienous swept her right hand around the cavern, and Marcus followed her lead until it came to a stop. On a ledge not far from where they stood was the opening to another cave.

“What’s that?” he asked and forgot all about the baby dragon at Orienous side.

He rushed to the cave opening and felt intense heat rising from somewhere deep inside it.

“What is this?”

“The old ones,” Orienous said, and a chorus of roars filled the cavern.

Marcus ran backwards from the opening, straight into Delaemol’s scaley legs. Realising where he was, Marcus ran from Delaemol through the fire, taking the rotisserie with him. He reached for his dagger but recalled Orienous’s warning and stopped. He turned and considered, in the mere seconds, he had to react, running back out into the night, but the sparks from the fire illuminated his presence in full sight of anything outside the cave. He carried with him the aroma of roasted rabbit, its juices a tantalising treat for any beast looking for a meal.

“Get away from there,” he heard moments before hot white flame shot in through the entrance.

Orienous pulled him from the flames, and Delaemol pulled him in between his legs, saving his life, gently roaring as he did.

“Shush, Delaemol,” Orienous said, cooing softly to stop the baby dragon from giving himself away. “It’s okay. There’s a good boy.”

Marcus fell to the floor of the cave and sat under the one thing he’d grown up fearing: a dragon.

“How can I help?” he asked.

Fantasy

About the author

Karen Eastland

I write primarily, Urban Fantasy, but because my style sits on the cuff of several genres moving into paranormal fantasy was an easy step. I became a Vocal+ member to provide interactive access for my readers.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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