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Prologue: Into the Serous Womb

By Omar Al-MahmeedPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 9 min read
Photo by simon sun on Unsplash

There weren’t always dragons in the valley. Come to think of it, there weren’t ever any dragons in the valley. When the flooding came pouring over the brim of the mountaintops it filled the basin below. The roaring waters cascaded down the mountainside and snuffed out many flames of life in a matter of minutes. It spilled over the tops like overflowing lakes and rivers the people of the valley were accustomed to, usually revering the gods for plentiful irrigation for a healthy harvest. The valley was usually quiet, and not much stirred the wills of the people. That was until the flood brought Dragons.

Dragons wasn’t really the correct word for them. They held naught the cat-like grace or majesty of what was featured in books of legend and fairytale; no furling leather-bound wings carried them to the valley and the scales they were said to have were likened to that of a fish over reptiles. These dragons were more like giant scaled eels or hagfish, slithering along the face of the deluge that brought them down into the spinning basin, slinking down the mountains like earthworms erupting from the rich and deep soil after a heavy rain. That same rich soil was now four miles below sea level. But this was what to come, and not what had happened. The Dragons never existed, not really, and their scarcity was because they were yet to be divined.

Oltoir sat quietly in the study halls of Academe when the image of the basin filling with black waters filled his sight. He watched as the waters engulfed the valley under the falling waves destroying everything before it. What little wisps of air he held onto was forced out of his lungs in a violent punch to the gut as the serous blackness collided with the walls of the city-sized magic school. A heavy dread clutched his heart as he watched the waves cascade and crash into everything he knew.

He was anchored down, and silence held him there.

The waters washed over his body as he waited to feel anything other than the crawling dread of suffocation that swam into the back of his mind. His breath sat trapped within, heavy and filling the cavity of his chest as he sank into the sea and waited for a warm embrace. The salty sting irritated his brown eyes when he opened them to see what the sea stored beneath her. Everything below the water, the drifting seaweed, the seashells, and the occasional crawling crab was drowned within a slow, slinking stillness. The sea was devoid of the strength and freedom of the open sky. Under the sea, everything waited for something exciting to happen, but nothing but the cold ripples of her drift pulled at his person, slowly strangling and strangely circling around him like a predator. She was cold and unwelcoming to him. Oltoir wanted to come up for a waft of fresh air to grace his screaming lungs. He opened his eyes once more to look at his oppressive warden. Nothing but sand and murky waters looked back at him. The sting of brine came back to his eyes. It was cold and wet and dreary. He heard his muffled cries in the vision and a word echoed in the vastness, muffled behind a mouth full of saltwater. A bright yellow light erupted from nearby and the waves were split on either side of his sight. Beyond the split he saw a monstrous form. A maw the size of a building, unhinged at the jaw with jagged boulders for teeth that collided with the yellow light.

He gasped heavily as the peripheries of his vision began to slowly fade back from black. He now found himself face down against the hard stone floor of the study hall he was in, gulping for air like a guppy-fish out of water.


The imprint of the vision flooded his mind again as he scrambled back up to his feet. The off-white tunic he wore on his person bellowed in the soft campus air and his tussled hair flowed down his forehead and covered his brown eyes. Oltoir was known to not wear any shoes as he sauntered the halls of the school—much to the dismay of his friends and teachers. His pink toes spread themselves out against the bare cold stone floor as he tried to gather his strength to root himself in place. He swayed lightly as he came back to and began to move, steadily, down past the long, dark oak study tables.

Every step he took was a conscious choice. He heaved his weight onto the table for support, his head still reeling from what he had saw not a moment prior. Oltoir quickened his steps until he was now barreling down the school halls, he ran with complete abandon, hoping to run into someone else on the campus grounds. The dread of the vision came to the forefront of his mind again. He ran past classrooms and statues of great mages that came before him. He ran until he felt like his lungs were going to pop from the strain, barely catching his breath as he hurried through the grand campus halls.

“Oltoir?” The gentle sound of something recognizing him snapped him back to where he had come to. Oltoir was now standing in the office of Maester Cosain, Echelon of School of Hedge Wizardry and Protective Spells.

Oltoir’s eyes focused on to the good Maester. He was a middle-aged man with a small goatee on his pointed chin. The straggle of hairs there were a tangled mass of dark blonde with a bright patch of white that stained the bottom right side of it. “Are you well?” He asked softly.

Oltoir gasped again, gulping in air like a guppy, his hands resting on his knees as tried to speak, “Vision…water flooding the valley…I didn’t know where to go…”

Maester Cosain pulled himself up from his large study chair and walked around his desk to Oltoir. He had a look of worry on his face, but Oltoir couldn’t help but see something else. Pity, maybe?

“Oltoir,” Cosain motioned the boy over and walked him to the emerald upholstered couch in the corner of his office and sat him down. He trailed off to a small potions cart beside the couch and began to clink some bottles.

As Oltoir finally gathered his breath he willed himself to calm. He looked over at his professor, who now had his back turned to him while he began to mix something together. The clink of metal rods against crystal bottles filled the room in a dull, calming whine.

“I saw something, Professor.” Oltoir began. “Water spilling over the Myra Mountains. It came fast, crashing into everything in the valley.” He shifted his weight forward and rested his heavy head in the palms of his hands, elbows placed precariously against his knobby knees.

Maester Cosain walked back to the boy and handed him a vial filled with a crystal blue substance and motioned for the boy to drink up.

“Drink. This will ease your mind,” the Maester reassured.

“I don’t have vision, Professor. I have never had a vision.” Oltoir spat.

“It is unlikely,” the Professor said, “our sorting process always places a young mage into the school that will allow them to flourish best. The School of Divinatory Arts would have known before any of us if you had the prophetic sight.”

Oltoir looked back at his professor. His expression was softer now, but something else was still masked behind it…the pity he saw was now more prominent as his features softened up. Oltoir tipped the small vial of the bluish drink into his mouth and stood up.

“Where are you going?” Asked Maester Cosain.

“It was real. It felt real,” Oltoir said, “I need to know what it means.”

Maester Cosain began to swish his hand in the air, his index finger pointed out as if writing invisible words. “I’m sending Maester Draya a message explaining what you had seen and hopefully she can ease your mind, O—” The Professor was cut off as he stood there behind his desk, his eyes began to dart wildly from side to side. “Oh.”

Maester Cosain’s eyes fixed themselves on the boy. “It seems your vision may indeed be truthful, Oltoir.”

“What do you mean?”

Maester Cosain began to walk over to the door of his office.

“Come. Maester Draya needs us. Apparently, you aren’t the only one to have such a vision,” explained the Maester, “It seems you and the entirety of the Divinatory Arts mages have all had a collective Call.” The Maester left the office, leaving Oltoir to grasp at what he had just learnt. The boy got up to his feet and began to follow.

“Tell me, Oltoir,” Cosain began, "did you see any beasts in this vision?”

Oltoir stopped to think for a while. “No,” he responded. “I saw the wave hit the side of Academe. Then a flash of yellow split the water from side to side, as if a barrier was raised. Wait, you said beast? Is something coming, Professor?”

The professor was now twenty feet away from the boy as he stopped after the question was asked. “I don’t know," he paused and a look of great concern was etched along his face, "Come.”

Maester Cosain turned a corner past the campus’ stone halls and disappeared out of view. Oltoir hurried behind him.

At the divination wing, Oltoir heard no sounds. The students there all stood around in somber silence. They were pouring over manuals and books and scrolls as Maester Draya looked over them from behind the banister of the second story loft. The halls of the School of Divinatory Arts were filled with bookshelves that houses all the known prophesies and premonitions to ever be seen by anyone in the valley. Every know magical word and spell was documented within these walls, as were the secrets that the aether willed into truth. The shelves stretched high up to the ceilings of the hall, each face of the fortress-sized walls was brimming with books and tomes that littered every little part of the ceiling-high shelves. A voice pierced into Oltoir’s mind.

Welcome, Oltoir. The voice echoed in the emptiness within his mind until he was once again seeing the vision he had not moments earlier. The waves came down the mountain and drowned the valley in darkness, and he knew someone else was watching. Maester Draya was now with him in the vision and he felt her soft hands against his temples. She forced his vision downwards until he was now looking at his own hands. A powerful abjuration was proclaimed moments before. He felt his chest ease up as the air filled his lungs again and his senses welcomed in a moment of respite. Something echoed.


It was only a fleeting whisper in his mind. Oltoir then found himself back in the library. Maester Draya was now before him, her long black hair fell like curtains on the sides of his face, blue eyes gleamed behind half-moon spectacles.

“Ólmaith,” she whispered again. Oltoir looked back up at her, confusion streaking his face.

“Is that the word?” Asked Maester Cosain. Draya walked to one of the large study tables and drew out a price of parchment. She wrote the word on the page and handed it to a student.

“We have the spell we need and we have Oltoir here to thank, but we have much to discover still,” Maester Draya said.

“I don’t understand.”

“The word you learned from your vision was a truth already spoken into the aether. Divination magic comes from things that are known and the words for spells are no exception,” Maester Draya furthered. “This new word must have something to do with protection, since it was given to a Hedge protection mage.” She pointed that last remark at the student who she handed the scroll to. The student nodded.

“We must work quickly, Cosain,” Draya began to travel up the staircase to the second story loft, “once we have the spells your pupils must erect a barrier around Academe.”


About the Creator

Omar Al-Mahmeed

Omar Al-Mahmeed is a bi-cultural, dual national Bahraini-American currently living in Houston, Texas and a graduate of the University of Houston’s English Literature department. He enjoys writing fiction, playing D&D, and reading edits!

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