I think I have worked out all the little glitches and this is done. Dragon’s Eye By A.V.Wedhorn Chapter 1 ‘In service to all.’ Micah stared hard at the redstone medallion called the Dragon’s Eye. He knew he had seen golden words flashing across its face. Delving into his past, he tried to remember the forgotten stories his father had told him about why he had always worn it. He couldn’t remember anything about glowing words but he did remember what the words meant. They were supposed to be a summoning. Twenty five years ago in their shoddy little trailer, his father had told him that they were men of the blood. That he was a Man of the Blood and was supposed to serve as the protector of a land called Illanor on a different world called Allryss and that possibly someday he could be called to fulfill that duty. According to his father, none had in several generations. Micah remembered the fanciful stories about the Dragonworld. He also remembered searching a world atlas from top to bottom and never finding any place called Illanor. Hard lines cut grooves into his forehead as he stared at the dark redstone. He had laughed at twelve, now, twenty five years later, he wasn’t laughing. When he had turned eighteen, he had sworn to his father to always wear the medallion. He had done so while he had been incarcerated, but had stopped shortly after his death. Until today, he couldn’t remember the last time he had seen the silly thing. I know I saw them. The words had been there. Turning, he looked at the cardboard box, bitter laughter parting his lips. His ex, Mariynn, must have put it there. She also hadn’t believed father’s stories. The box had been warm, he had felt heat through its side. Afraid of fire and knowing with what was left of his police severance he couldn’t afford another efficiency, he had opened it. The Dragon’s eye had been the only thing filling the bottom. The last time he had seen it had been after his father’s death but then the eye hadn’t been glowing. Not thinking, he had reached out. The words, In service to all, had filled his head, coming from everywhere, sounding as if a hundred different throats were speaking to him all at once. The summoning, his father had told him of. Images had followed. Visions of gnashing bone white teeth and red armored scales. The feeling of armor, it had encased his body and a massive battle had been fought all around him. He had been flying high in the sky over troops crashing together with wild screams and flashing weapons. Wind had filled his ears and he had felt a sword’s hilt filling his hand. The sensation of flying stole everything else away and in the distance he had heard the roar of a giant beast. Then it was gone, the vision shattering in his mind, splintering like glass from a broken mirror and he thought he had felt the pieces cutting into him. For a brief moment, while his head had been spinning, it seemed as if he had done all of it before as if he should be remembering everything he had seen more clearly. Shuddering, he had staggered backwards, reeling across the room. Running a still quivering hand through his hair, he snatched up a pencil, and looped it through the medallion’s chain and placed it on the table. It wasn’t glowing now, it looked perfectly ordinary. Head aching, he glanced out his small ice covered window and saw snow and skyscrapers. I’m still in Chicago. This is ridiculous, I must have imagined it? The case, the divorce, losing my badge, lack of sleep, alcohol, no wonder I’m hallucinating. Turning his thoughts inward, he tried dredging up more memories from his father. Still nothing that mentioned glowing. But several stories about duty to one’s people and how he was supposed to be to be there to protect them if called came to mind. According to his father, every time the medallion had been passed on, the wearer before had answered the call and had died, as the story went, ‘In service to all’. Tentatively, Micah reached out, flicking the gold chain with a fingernail. Nothing. Heart pounding in his chest, he flicked the stone, and jerked his hand back as if stung. Nothing. The adrenaline pumping through his veins left behind a cold tingle but the stone still did nothing. There was no pulse, no warmth, no flickering golden letters and no sense of flying, nothing that said there had been a summoning attached to it. The amulet just lay there, looking like it always had every day that he had worn it before stuffing it in that box. The only difference he could tell was that now his heart was racing like a freight train across uneven tracks. Feeling silly, Micah took several deep breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth, using the breathing techniques he had learned when he had been younger. Slowly his pulse calmed. Reaching out, he traced the top of the cold stone with his fingernail. Nothing, he thought disgustedly. Taking a chance, he rested his palm on the eye. It didn’t glow. I must have dozed off. Palm still on the eye, he shook his head wearily and rolled his eyes. He didn’t remember falling asleep though his mind had seemed murky for a few moments. In his head, he saw the spidery words of gold form again. Not thinking, he mumbled the phrase that he had learned from his father who had learned it from his, “In service to all.” Chapter 2 White light exploded as the golden words faded and the dragon’s eye began pulsing. It took him a moment before he realized that the stone wasn’t cold now and felt like a beating heart. The light writhed about him, a myriad of swirling colors that looked like tendrils slowly wrapped about his body. Covered in the glowing nimbus, Micah felt pressure on his skin, sort of like a comforting caress. Suddenly it changed. The caressing tendrils locked on him like an iron grip and became a jerk. It felt like a thousand hands grabbed him at the same time. Desperately, fighting off a wave of anxiety, he tried removing his hand from the dragon’s eye but couldn’t. It felt as if the two were locked together. He pulled until it felt like his arm was going to pop out of his shoulder but his hand still wouldn’t come free. Anxiety changed to fear, his blood felt like ice in a frozen river as he saw the dragon’s eye grow larger. Everything became indistinct as a blinding blur of rainbow-like colors enveloped him from head to toe. The last thing he remembered was the light turning the same color as the stone before it all faded away. Groaning, Micah ripped his hand free from what it was touching. It felt like he was tearing his insides out, as if he was breaking a connection inside his body. The redstone didn’t look a stone anymore. It looked like an eye, a large yellow one, at least the size of his head. Frozen in place, Micah watched as the eye rotated in a wide circle. Slowly a slitted black pupil came into view and a reddish pebbled lid closed as it blinked. Throwing himself backwards, he knew he should have crashed over the top of his couch, but it wasn’t there. Landing hard on stone, Micah scampered crab-like until his head hit a rough hewn wall. Swimming specks of light exploded in front of his eyes. Shaking his head, he tried removing the swirling image. The lights faded but the image didn’t. “What the hell…!” His voice trailed off into wordless silence. Eyes widening, he felt his jaw drop incredulously. A gigantic shape filled a large chamber, a chamber a lot bigger than his small apartment that he had been in a moment ago. Slowly, he moved his eyes down a serpentine body covered in scales the color of dried blood. Large spikes ran down a ridgeline forming its neck and back until they ended in a long spiked tail. Turning his wide eyed gaze back towards the head, he saw a giant maw filled with teeth the size of glittering daggers. Two bright yellow eyes stared back, regarding him with a look that he swore was both anger and disgust. He knew what the creature was but confusion swept through him. It’s not possible, it can’t be! Micah rubbed at his eyes with his fingertips, trying to force himself out of whatever dream he was in, trying to do something that would force him back to reality. Dragons don’t exist! They aren’t real! Dragons, like the ones in his father’s stories, only existed in fairy tales. His father had been mad. He had given up belief in them when he was a child, after his father had been locked away. Irrationally, he focused on a morbid thought, why isn’t it trying to eat me? Glancing at its body, he saw golden chains. Large manacles clamped to its clawed feet, holding them in place. Squinting, he saw strange writing engraved on them in a cursive flowing script. Looking upwards, he saw a low ceiling keeping the beast from unfurling its gigantic wings. I must be dreaming again. This can’t be real! Dragons like this don’t exist. I fell asleep staring at that silly stone, thinking about my deranged father’s stories and now I’m having another damn dragon dream. Instead of moving out of range of the massive beast’s head he started walking towards it. If it is a dream, it can’t hurt me. If it does, I will wake up like every other time, safe in my bed. Standing next to the golden chains, Micah heard a rasping scrape. Spinning, he saw the dragon sliding over stone, following his progress with its wedge shaped head. In spite of its large size, it moved with a deadly grace that fascinated the eye. Momentarily their eyes met and the dragon’s piercing look made him feel as if the beast was trying to see into his soul. Panic wormed through him, cutting a hole through his insides. Even if this is another damn dream, that thing is frightening. Bending low he examined the chains. A tingling sensation crept through his body as his eyes followed the flowing script. Scrubbing his hands across his forearms he realized it felt like an itch was crawling across his skin. Slowly, he reached out towards the golden surface and saw the strange writing begin to glow. A voice rumbled behind him, filling the room with a throaty snarl, “If you can feel the magic in my chains without touching them, then I wouldn’t advise doing that.” Jerking his hand back, Micah spun, eyes wide with astonishment. “You can talk?” Never in any of his other dragon dreams had one spoken. Drawing back its massive head as if it had been slapped, the dragon growled in an affronted tone, its voice dripping acid, “Of course I can talk! Stupid human!” It rolled its eyes and replied angrily, “I always forget, despite your years, how ignorant you men of the blood are when you first come over. Well, that might change, but I doubt it. You probably will not live long enough though.” The last part came out low, almost as if the beast didn’t expect Micah to hear, but its words echoed through his ears like a distant thunder. “What?” asked Micah, looking at the chains and the glowing script, his eyes filled with derision. “Magic?” Scoffing, he glanced back at the dragon, his mouth a demeaning smirk. “Magic’s not real. Dragon’s aren’t real. I don’t believe in fairy tales!” This last part came out as a croak as the dragon suddenly lifted a large clawed foot as far as the chain would let it and pointed a long talon at him. “If you don’t believe Man of the Blood, go ahead, touch them.” An ominous twist touched the dragon’s lips and the grin of glittering long teeth following turned his blood again to ice. “But,” A warning tone creeping into its voice as it waggled the claw, “they're powerful enough to hold me.” Again Micah swept his eyes down the massive scaled body, rippling with powerful muscles. His smirk faded into a wan smile. Slowly his hand dropped back to his side. Doubt began creeping through him and he glanced about uneasily at his surroundings. Stone walls and flagstones. Magical Chains. His gaze fell on the beast. A dragon. Sweeping his eyes about, he mumbled, “Where the hell am I?” “Humans call this Illanor. Although Man of the Blood, I doubt you will find any here willing to welcome you!” The dragon’s voice had hardened and what sounded like contempt and revulsion filled it. With a click of teeth, it savagely snapped off its last words, making them sound like a curse. “Most, humans and dragons,” it growled, its voice now a low, angry snarl that caused an icy shiver to creep down Micah’s spine, “would probably be grateful to see you dead! They would probably prefer you that way now!” Its words were followed by a venomous glare. Before he could stop himself Micah raised his hands as if to ward off a blow and blurted, “What? Why? That’s crazy! I haven’t done anything to anyone. Silently he thought, at least not to anyone here. Could this dream creature know about why I’m not allowed to be a police officer anymore? Pushing that thought aside, he stated accusingly, “According to you, I just got here.” The dragon’s wedge shaped head snapped down in a blur of red and before Micah could blink they were eye to eye, barely an inch between them. The snarling dragon’s maw filled his sight and he felt hot breath wash over him. Feet frozen to the stone floor, he tried moving but the stark terror filling him, encasing his bones in ice, denied him the will. In a voice tinged with creeping menace, the dragon hissed furiously and nudged him with the tip of its scaly nose, knocking him back a few steps, “That’ss right Man of the Blood, you did nothing!” Micah jumped in fright as the dragon’s long teeth came together in a vicious snap, only inches from his nose. “You didn’t wear the medallion like you were instructed to. You didn’t answer the summons when you were called for nine long years ago. You didn’t come to help stop the wars. You didn’t do your duty! Now thousands of humans and hundreds of dragons have died! All because you did nothing!” The dragon’s hissing words cut through the air like a whip’s lash. Micah found himself flinching as if each were hitting him. He jumped in shocked surprise as the dragon’s spiny tail came down on the stone with a resounding crack that caused a shudder under his feet. “After the Griega came, led by Al’sonar, only a few dragons and dragonlords escaped their purge. Not many and not enough to matter and they really wouldn’t do anything at first without you here. You were supposed to answer the summons and come to lead them.” The dragon’s horned head swept out over the chains holding it and then it snapped back in front of him with a speed that caused him to jump again. A note of bitterness crept into its voice as it growled, “And I, I have been a prisoner, trapped in these chains for nine years unable to help or save anyone from those deaths, all because, again, you did nothing!” Micah found himself leaping sideways, narrowly dodging an angry jet of flame shooting out of the dragon’s nostrils. Ripping off his burning shirt, he heard the anger fade. Shaking its horned head, the dragon finished sadly, its eyes meeting his accusingly, “We should have been there to save them Man of the Blood. Now almost all have died. Most of the Dragonlords are gone and the people of Illanor have been defeated. The great cities lay in ruin and all of this happened because you did not answer the summons when called.” Chapter 3 After what seemed like the longest silence Micah had ever endured, the dragon growled disgustedly, “What did you do with the medallion, leave it in a box somewhere?” Flushing guiltily, Micah raked his fingers through his dark brown hair. “You didn’t, did you?” exclaimed the dragon incredulously. Its eyes lit with fury and another small jet of fire blew out its nostrils. Not waiting for his answer, the dragon’s growling voice rose upwards several octaves. “Weren’t you told by your father to wear it at all times? Didn’t he tell you about your duty? Your obligation to the people of Illanor? That as a Man of the Blood, could be called at any time to fulfill it?” Again Micah flushed, this time anger darkened his cheeks. In a stiff voice he stated,“How dare you talk to me this way!” Waving his hand around at the room he met the dragon glare for glare. “This isn’t real! This is all a dream. Dragons don’t exist! Illanor is a place of make believe, a fairy tale made up by my deranged father before he was institutionalized.” The lines around the dragon’s mouth drew upwards. It was hard to tell because of its long teeth, but it looked as if it was smiling. “A dream?” answered the dragon sardonically, echoing his words, its horned head snaked about the chamber indicating their surroundings. “None of this is real? I am nothing but a figment of your imagination? A child’s storytale made up for you by Benjamin? I am just something you dreamed up for amusement?” Micah thought the beast sounded offended. Momentarily, something unrecognizable gleamed in the dragon’s yellow eyes and that’s all it was. Before he could blink the dragon’s head shot forward with incredible speed and seized him. Long teeth clamped down onto his body. Micah screamed in terror as giant beast tossed its head sideways and he was flying through the air towards one of its chained clawed feet. He tried, as he had been taught, rolling with the impact, but didn’t succeed. Air exploded out his lungs as he landed on the stone floor. Fear overwhelmed him and his heart leapt up into his throat as he tried scrambling away, but a bone white talon caught him by the legs and knocked his feet out from under him. Angry eyes pierced him as the same talon rolled him over like a puppy in his master’s hand and pinned his chest to the stone. Staring at the giant claw, Micah, his heart still racing, suddenly realized he wasn’t waking up. You’re supposed to wake up when you were about to die in a dream. The thought was fleeting and flew out of his head as the dragon moved its head closer to his. Growling, it deftly slid the long talon down his chest. Dismayed and frightened, Micah flinched as he watched in stark terror as it popped buttons from his shirt. Placing its claw against his bare skin, yellow eyes blazing with indignation the dragon snarled malevolently, “I am no dream Man of the Blood! And this is no fairy tale created for you by Benjamin.” It was all Micah could do to keep from crying out. Suddenly the dragon’s eye pulsed with a bright red glow, a radiant flaring fire and the dragon recoiled. Large yellow eyes flew open wide with shock, and the dragon jerked backwards, releasing him. Almost like a cowering dog, the dragon slowly backed away. “Although I would like to kill you Man of the blood, it seems I’m honor bound and not permitted,” snarled the unsmiling dragon. Glaring angrily at the still pulsating stone it hissed, “But, I also don’t have to help you. Get out of here! Leave this place! You’re a disgrace to the memory of your father and the other riders who came before you. The sight of you disgusts me, you’re not welcome here!” Twice Micah had heard the name and trying to pull the tattered remains of his shirt back over his exposed chest he asked, scrambling backwards away from the dragon, “How do you know my father?” The dragon stopped as if struck. Head wheeling back around, eyes wide with surprise it asked, “What do you mean, how do I know your father?” Realizing after a few moments when Micah didn’t answer the dragon responded, “You don’t know do you? He didn’t tell you?” “Tell me what?” demanded Micah, not sure what it was he was asking for. The dragon examined him, its yellow eyes scrutinizing, looked as if it was trying to see a lie in his words, something he was trying to hide. Finally the dragon gave a harsh bark of laughter, “Your father was the last rider to his duty here when needed.” The dragon’s expression changed to scorn, “Unlike some, he answered the call when duty required him.” Gaping incredulously, Micah blurted out before he could stop himself, “My father has been here?” Thinking back to his childhood, he remembered how vividly his father had described his stories and realized the truth before the dragon answered. Changing the subject, the dragon shot him an appraising look, “Have you ever even held a sword Man of the blood?” Its skeptical expression showed him that it thought it already knew the answer. “Can you defend yourself? Do you have any skills that might make you useful to the people of Allyrss, something that might help them defeat the griega?” Micah thought back to the hapkido lessons he had taken for years as a teenager and as an adult. Then he had been proficient with a sword but that had been years ago, he had stopped while in the military. Now he was better with a baton, thanks to his police training. But still, he had never used the thing and couldn’t remember the last time he had stepped into the ring to do any sort of real fighting. “Not since I was a young man to the first question, and some to the second,” he answered, hoping the dragon didn’t detect the doubt in his voice. “Why would I need to protect myself?” “Didn’t you hear me? Like myself, the rest of Illanor, the dragonlords, the people, and the dragons along with the Griega would like to see you dead?” Rolling its eyes, the dragon looked at him as if he was being deliberately dense. “Damn humans, you never listen to anything unless you’re frightened half to death or it is screamed at you.” Micah shook his head, “I heard what you said damn it, but what I meant was why me?” “The dragon’s eye,” answered the dragon, pointing with a long talon at the medallion clasped in his hand, “is what the Griega seek. As for the rest of us, we just want you dead because you didn’t come to stop them. You didn’t answer the summons nine years ago when we needed you” “Why? What’s so important about the eye,” Micah asked staring down at the medallion in his hand, “that it would cause such death and destruction?” The dragon eyed him as if he were an ignorant child who should already know, but answered, “Benjamin should have told you. The eye is but one of three parts of a greater object. The eye, the tooth and the claw, only those three together can open the heart.” Seeing Micah’s confused look the dragon let out a long heavy sigh. “Sit in the corner, this might take a while.” Micah did as he was told and listened without having to be screamed at.