This fire has been burning for you, keeping warm this aged Tavern.
You have journeyed far to hear this tale woven through time.
Each thread, each character, hero or villain, will tell to you a secret from their soul.
Mayhap you shall leave with courage anew or mayhap you shall linger to ponder the mysteries you uncover upon your own path.
Whatever this tale speaks to you,
May it bring for a time, escape from your journey,
A world to explore and new companions to miss.
So hold fast your flask my friend,
This tale is a rocky road to walk.
Meadows fair, and wind so fine, bring no clouds of dark grey.
To far horizons you wander,
So with you do take the gifts of the land.
May the Mother Deer feed you well,
May the Gold Lion protect your slumber,
May the Sheep of Seasons clothe your skin,
Let the Hawk on High guide your path,
Follow not the Dancing Stars,
That shall lead you astray.
Give the Forests a gift for the wood they provide,
So the blessing of Prometheus’ Fire may be ignited.
And let all know that you have been covered in the Morning Dew,
For no Twizel can touch that which is born of pure love.
“In documenting history there are two laws;
What you think you know will be wrong,
And what you do not know will be right.”
J.H Gibbles, DA20149ZE, Life, Love and Loyalty, Avalon – Pennadot, Imperial Press
Never had Chans seen the mighty, magnificent ever-green trees that forested the palace gardens bend and bow against the tunneling howls of the wind. It was frightening to hear the groaning and cracking as each towering testament to time bend in agony. Lightning scattered the dark sky-sea. From under his hood he poked out his button nose, daring to watch as strings of the bladed energy tore at the gray coils of the clouds encasing the high-keeps of Palace-Town. It was a vicious storm, lasting endless days, and not even Avalon’s environmental control system could quell the rage. Hesitating at the threshold of light beaming out from the open door, Chans stared at his tiny foot-claws just edging at the shadows. Each clap of thunder spiked his fur and fluffed his neck feathers. Truly, he had always thought himself braver than this. He was a ward of the King, a courageous little sorcerer and sorcerer’s scoffed at storms—did they not?
The tiny wisp of light he had conducted to life within a lantern hung loose by his side, but it did so little to piece the Long Night’s darkness. How he craved for the fabled Sun he had never seen.
It was now that they needed its light, to burn away the nightmare that had fallen upon Palace-Town. In the absence of the king a shadow from generations past had crept through the corridors, striking at the heart of Pennadot.
Chans trembled, searching the long path for the shine of false-dawn. False-dawn that could wipe away the foul mold that had taken root, just for a time. His lips parted in a shout of relief, drowned out by the roar of wind. Leaping about, his wings flapping, Chans scooted down the slippery, wet stairs toward the shining burst of radiance. It ploughed toward him and his small wisp, the rain steaming as it contacted the heat of flaming skin. In a desperate, frantic swing, King Delwyn swept off his diabond, landing amongst the puddles. Chans darted up to him, searching for the king’s paladins, or mayhap his knights, or even the handsome butlers that faithfully followed him.
There was no one.
It was just King Delwyn—burning like the Sun.
A false-dawn, a starborn desperate, panicked and frantic enough to awaken dormant blood, dead for centuries. Had the situation been different, Chans would have felt pride in the man.
“Your majesty!” He barreled up against the king’s armored leg. It felt so warm, so comforting. “I received your message! I posted more guards around the Queen’s chamber.”
It would not be enough, he had known that. No amount of guards would withstand what was coming. Not even the Time Master, the great Fairy Queen, could defend against the ancient sorrow to come and she was the embodiment of the very fuel of the world. His chest sunk in defeat at the thought.
Delwyn snatched his claw. “Come! Hurry, Chance, hurry.” The king broke into a run and he barely kept pace with the man. “He is here, in the Palace, walking amongst us. He is after the twins!”
Chans fumbled about behind the king, holding tight to the Human’s flapping cloak as they hastened down the corridors of the palace. The further inward they ran the more brilliant the king’s glow grew, until even the gloss of his pure white hair was too bright look upon.
Delwyn turned sharp around lording pillars, throwing out a leg and Chans bumped roughly against it, looking up in confusion. The king waved his gauntleted hand in a gentle, assuring movement and Chans shuffled carefully behind him, only to aware that he was still a kitten. Through the towering windows, and the clear ceiling, the storm cast dangerous, scraping shadows over large doors ahead. The very air itself felt alive, with channeled breaths and Chans clutched at his chest, shuttering at the heavy, thudding song waffling through the Secondary Realm, resonating down to the tips of his wings. It was ghastly, sickening, the song that ruined the beautiful melody of their world, gobbling it all up!
He had to fight back the urge to flee from the horrors within the chamber beyond.
“Wh…where are the guards?” he squeaked.
“Look under your claws,” Delwyn murmured.
Chans staggered back, stumbling on the hem of his gown. A knife may as well have pieced his throat, gutting out the cry he wanted to call at the sight of strewn blood, gizzards and bones. The pour men he had sent forth, they had not had a chance. Was he responsible for their demise? Shaking his head Chans pushed on though the blood, ignoring the squishing under his foot-claws as he chased the king who snatched hold of the double doors before he could call out in warning. The enchantment cast on them activated upon touch and Chans winced as a crackle of Rune forged lightning burst out, sending the king staggering backward, cussing at the Sun and waving his bloodied hands.
“Gwenhwyfar!” The king charged once more. “Gwenhwyfar!” Delwyn stumbled as the doors gave way, opening inwardly to reveal the russet tinge of the chamber. The torches strung upon the golden pillars lit in flare, swirling forth in a formation of a triangular wyrm.
He had barely moments to act, and his action was swift, unrestrained and violent. Chans threw himself in the path of the inferno, bringing up both claws and wings in a circled halo, forming a conduction circle as the tips of both appendages linked.
Blood rose from the slain guards, spiraling up his arms, igniting in runic symbols, forming a incantation to complete the conduction fusion and he heard the crack as the Secondary Realm split and a crystal shield erupted forth from the bloodied lines scorched into his flesh. The firestorm of flames struck the glistening surface, dispersing in a splattering of colors. Chans staggered at the force. Whoever had commanded the fire, had done so with complete control over the elementals within the flames—it was no mere conduction.
“Chans, stay here!” Delwyn shouted, diving into the choking smoke and green rising mist spilling from the chamber. It overwhelmed the man’s luminous skin, choking the false-dawn and without his glow, the world seemed so much fouler.
Chans squawked in protest. “Your majesty, you atrocious fool!”
Had it been a command from his king, or a command from his foster father? Chans narrowed his eyes. If was a command from his king, he had to obey it, but if it was a command from the man who fostered him…well…he could disobey and not suffer to harsh a punishment. Chans snarled, clutching his conductor.
“Oh, Sun Curse us all!” He marched into the thick mist. Each step felt as though he was clawing through dozens of pine-needles, scraping at his flesh, leaving shredded thread-thin wounds, dribbling his blood. He commanded the small droplets into a gradually increasing ball, spinning softly in his claw, poised for a moment of fusion and swift conduction.
He caught the tail-coat of the King’s tunic, scooting up behind the proud man. The Starborn was trembling, though Chans was unsure if it was from rage, fear or even pain. His strong, rough fingers that had so often comforted him in his times of need folded about the hilt of his sword, drawing the historic weapon free of its sheath. Chans blinked back the blinding light as it ignited down the glass blade, refracting with the royal’s radiant skin. The shrouding mist scampered away from what had once been a dull, blunt blade and like a cloak about his foot-claws the murk became a sludgy bog.
Chans twirled about, startled to find himself within the domed chamber of the King’s courters. The milky bog about his foot-claws leeched from a figure standing aloft by the crackling warmth of the fire-fit and Chans felt his blood chill at the gangly creature, frocked in the ripples of black tar. It slowly turned, revealing mutated features of a long dead corpse. The sound of crackling and popping maggots turned his insides, even its stench, he realized, was the foul scent in the misting air. It raised a bony hand, pulling threads of flesh away from its jaw to free its mouth into a leering smile that split its features. Out of its lips trickled fresh blue liquid, catching on the edge of its chin.
Chans gasped, covering his mouth. His heart fluttered.
The Queen’s blood—its color was unique.
“Dragon!” Delwyn spat, “How dare you enter my home.”
“Do not think that just because you hold a little toy sword at me, King, that I will fear you.” The corpse cocked its head to one side.
“Where is my wife? Where is she?!”
Chans bit his lips, tasting blood in the back of his throat as he worried the bloodied skin. The tension was rising, he could feel the energy of two Realms colliding bursting down his wings and it was agonizing, and thrilling, thrilling to be inside of a whirl-wind of intensely building fury between two opposing forces.
A chuckle from the shuttering dead man swung his attention about and he gulped back bile as the Dragon made a shrugging movement as it shifted on skeletal legs. The action caused the floor to ripple and Chans stepped back at the disturbance of the very fabric of the Primary Realm. His stomach twisted into knots at the sight of the shifting plates of light impacting each other, breaking away and shattering as information was lost and eaten by the monster within the room.
Something cold and wet dribbled over his nose. Chans’ wings rattled. His chest heaved out a rasping gasp. Every inch of his fur stood on end as a droplet of thick, shining blue blood slopped over his claw and he stared at it, agape in mortified horror.
“It is said that Ra shall fall to the great serpent…” The Dragon’s chuckle was distant in his ears as his head whipped up and he stared at the ceiling far over his head and he shrieked.
Pinned to the ceiling of glass the Fairy Queen was frozen in a horrified state, her arm and hand stretched out toward them as if in warning. Her blood, crystal blood, dribbled down her arm, catching on the tips of her fingers, from a torn bite in her neck.
“Gwenhwyfar!” Delwyn cried. “No!”
“Oh yes, dear little king.” The Dragon grinned, “Not even a golem can survive my bite.”
“You Sun-cursed beast! What do you do to her?!” Delwyn charged, blade igniting in a flare of starlight. He skidded to a halt as the Fairy Queen’s body fell, landing in a clunk of heavy, limp metal. Chans cringed, squeaking in fright as Delwyn twisted in a rush for her side. He felt the rip of gravity come a moment after the snapping crack of the king’s knee from the force of the throw that hit him. He was thrust across the room by a simple hand movement of the corpse.
Chans flung out his conductor. His ball of blood splattered into a circle around his palms, burning bright as he caught the king a swirl of wind. The Dragon whirled upon him and Chans ducked the blades of thrown air, dodging behind a pillar, panting heavily. He peered out, franticly searching for the king.
“You stupid little king!” The Dragon stalked forward, snarling as he thrust a foot into the chest of the Fairy Queen. Chans cringed. “Do you think you can wave your little sword at me and win! You are not even a true starborn! You are a throwback…and this…this fairy is a vile intruder, vermin that swarms the stars!” With a inhuman screech the creature slammed his foot firmly into Gwenhwyfar’s chest, leaning into her.
“Get up and fight me, Ra of Time, or I will kill your pathetic Human!”
“Leave her alone.” Delwyn struggled back onto his feet.
The Dragon’s head titled to one side. The corpse stared at the flaming sword in the king’s trembling hand. It must have seen the starborn as nothing, surely, nothing but another meal amongst many. Chans clutched at his skull, whimpering. Of all the memories he had stored within his mind, not one of them wanted to surface now in aid. His body felt like water, runny and impossible to move but if he did not move—
He would loose again.
He never wanted to loose again.
Scampering out from behind the pillar he snatched out his bladed pendent, slicing the palms of his claw’s and scrawling swiftly circles across the marble pillar. His gaze flicked back and he winced as the Dragon dragged the Fairy Queen up by her hair, letting her dangle painfully.
“Tell me Ra, was it worth it…becoming Human? Do you like these mortal pigs that much that you would lower yourself to bare their young? I am disgusted with you…my greatest adversity, reduced to this! Fear not, I shall put you out of your misery.”
His hand moved to thrust through her chest. At its speed, Chans knew not even the queens exoskeleton would survive. She had told him that much before. He gasped, staggering back against his scrawled bloodied fusion circles as her eye’s opened with a sudden, red flare. With a mechanical whirl her arm lifted, smashing a fist into the face of the Dragon. He dropped her as he faltered backward. Her leg swung up, collecting the skull and shattering the brittle bones.
“I put you in your chains, Dragon.” She spat blue blood, “Go back to your dungeon and rot!”
“This isn’t the end, Hazanin,” it slurred.
Chans ran swiftly forward, throwing out his arms and casting his wings in a full, wide curve. Blood conduction required few words, and necromancy ever fewer. A Batitic’s conductions were of the intent behind the fusion, and he desired to rip the Dragon out of the bag of flesh it inhabited. Ripping was easy. He did not need to be gentle. His memories told him it was like throwing his soul forth as a hook, letting it latch and then snatching it back.
“Activate,” Chans whispered. The surge through his wings as the blood rings on the pillar behind him burst was invigorating and he barely had a moment to realize he had thrown the conduction forward. The slimy, foul taste of something tarry and sticky filled his throat and it took considerable effort not to retch. A physical manifestation of touching a spirit was unexpected and new.
The Dragon twisted toward him, broken, splintered face contorting in pain. Chans breathed in deeply even as the beast reared up to strike him. Delwyn suddenly lunged, taking the corpse down in a tackle.
“Keep going Chans!” the king bellowed.
Chans thrust a foot-claw forward, rooting himself in a firm hold. He sent forth a ripple through the ground and he listened with a feeling of satisfaction as the Dragon shrieked. With a backward heave, both mental and physical, he tore at the foul sensation. Laughter would have erupted from his lips had he not been taught to withhold it, but the sheer delight of feeling the Dragon tear into a scattering of shreds upon impacting his web of fusion energy was beyond satisfying. Then it came, the exhaustion and it was overwhelming, like a wall struck him from behind and he wavered, landing hard upon the floor, snatching at his chest. The pain burned as fire in his veins, impossible to quench. Tears leaked over his cheeks and he sobbed as he reached out a claw, catching the final, weak little shred of the soul he had torn from the corpse. It was unlikely the king could see it, the silver little thread, but it was so beautiful and precious in his claw. It was not the Dragon at all—it was—
“Necromancy…” he choked, clutching the silver thread to his chest. “No Batitic has tried Soul-Weaving in centuries…my little…sibling…my…my little sibling…Zilon…he…he killed my little…sibling…”
Delwyn’s heavy hands clasped his cheeks, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “It’s alright, Chance, it’s alright. It’s over.” The king crawled toward his wife and Chans gasped, scrambling up and dashing for the collapsed lady. His claws brushed the bite marks running over the thighs, arms and the brutal gash across the neck, revealing mechanical insides that still whirled and clicked at her weak breathing.
“It…it bit every artificial artery in her body.” He gasped.
“Wh…what?” Delwyn gathered her into his lap. “But her metal hull, it should have obstructed it.”
“Papa,” Chans beseeched, “a Zaprex cannot fully sustain their hull in a golem. You know that. Hazanin-sama is only ever vulnerable in this state. This was the perfect chance to kill your offspring.”
“Sun…no…please.” Holding Gwenhwyfar’s cheeks Delwyn kissed her pale blue lips, brushing away her soiled hair, “I am so sorry love, I am so sorry…I was too late.”
Her body whirled and an arm lifted loosely and a hand touched the king’s lips. Chans glanced aside, unsure of what he was doing, intruding upon their beautiful love.
“Stay with me, Hwyfar, please,” Delwyn whispered, “please, stay with me.”
Her alien eyes clicked as interior, robotic lenses focused on their features and Chans frowned. She was studying him. Her voice was monotonous, strained through her shattered, voice-box, causing it to ring with a metallic twang. “The babies…they are dying, the Dragon injected me with a…toxin…my body…cannot process it fast…enough…in this form…”
Gwenhwyfar reared back, her body twisting. Grapping for her Delwyn struggled to hold fast her jostling frame.
“Oh Osiris…Osiris…make it stop, please!”
Delwyn snatched his claw and Chans jerked back, eyes wide in fright.
“Chans! Do something.”
Do something! What was he supposed to do?
“Save them. Chance! For Sun’s Sake! Do something, anything!”
“I don’t know what to do!” he cried. “Even if I could draw out the toxin, I don’t have anything that will replace it in the fusion. The magical black-lash will kill us all. You cannot just take something…you have to…you have to have something equal of it in a fusion…my blood isn’t equal!” He would have done it, if he could, he would have given all of himself—all of his blood—to save the Time Master, the one who loved him despite what he was, who told him he was special.
“Use my starblood.”
“No!” Chans squealed. “Never! I would never do that!”
“They are my sons, she is my wife. I am ordering you to do this.”
Chans flared his wings. “I could kill you.”
“I am ordering you!”
“B…but…I…blood conduction is forbidden! That is why pap—Zilon…locked me up!” He coiled away.
Delwyn held his shoulders, his grip was vice and painful, like the shackles that had once bound him.
“You trust me, do you not, Chance? Do you trust me when I say to you that you were given to us as a gift, and your Soul-Weaving is a gift, the Secondary Realm flows in all of us differently and it is the way we choose to use it that makes us good or bad…”
“Zilon chooses bad…yes?”
“Yes, he does.”
“But…I can save people?” he whispered.
Trembling hands, stained with blue, cold philepcon liquid wrapped about his claws. Hazanin-sama looked to him, and the shine of her golem’s eyes was despairingly weakened from its usual vibrant, mechanical burn, but the smile he loved, that had first captivated him, that was always there to send him to sleep met his gaze. “Chance, you will save millions someday.”
If she said so, he had to believe her, for she was a fairy and they spoke truth.
Breathing in deeply Chans clasped at his conductor, dragging the sweet sound of the Secondary Realm’s song through the crystal infused within and with a twirl and flick he slashed cuts across the king’s arms, pulling free threads of the king’s burning, ignited blood. Despite how weak his wings felt, he flared them, circling them into a halo, allowing them to catch the sweet, beautiful song of the Secondary Realm flowing about him and he swung his conductor, searching for the foul scent of the toxin, gently reweaving it with the warm, glittering blood.
The king slumped down and Chans caught his head before it cracked on the cold ground and carefully lowered it. He soothed over the painful cuts. They would scar, and the king would forever be left with the memory of the night the Dragon found his way into their home. Chans wiped away tears.
“Yes child?” The whirl was painfully weak.
“I think I only saved one.”
Hazanin-sama’s head dropped back against the king’s limp arm, her chest inflated sharply. A single tear rolled down her cheek. Outside the chamber he heard the calls of confusion from the butlers and the maidens but he could not look up, the magical exhaustion was beginning to cloud his vision. Chans slumped forward. His wings were just too heavy and they flayed loosely in the bloodied circle surrounding them.
The king’s glow grew ever dimmer and beside him, the Fairy Queen’s breathes were fragile, pained and terrifying. Chans clutched his conductor.
He had to get stronger.
He needed to be the greatest sorcerer ever born if he was to protect his family.
Blood was never going to be enough.
He needed something more, something stronger than blood.
 DA: Dawn Age – ZE: Zaprex Empire
 DC: Of the Dragon’s Conquest
 A hound used instead of a horse by many of the higher class due to their elemental shifting and ability to move through dense forest regions of Pennadot. Acutely intelligent, a diabond will form an attachment to its master, and will protect whom its master wishes upon command.
I can’t upload anything more than the Prologue from Book 2 because if I do I’ll completely give away everything that happens in KEY: Book One.
But you’re more than welcome to join in the journey.
There is a Kindle Amazon version available and the Paperback version has illustrations!