Ian moved up the hillside and along the hilltop toward his hometown. The day was in mid summer it felt humid, the trees all around were green with leaves as was the grass and shrubbery at the forest floor. Ian look out over the side of the hill to his right. Out and past the dirt path he was on down the hillside was a sheer jump just a ways out that came down sharply to meet the silvendonia river. He looked over down at its waters sparkling from the sun high in the sky overhead. He moved his gaze to see the far bank and the rise of the hill on the other side mostly a forest green from the trees on the other side. Ian was going home to visit his friends and family that were in gord valley ahead down the path a mile or two. He looked ahead and the path did start to droop down but it came up again and farther off he saw it decline steadily and the line where it dropped he could see yet another rise in a hill. Looking forward and right he saw not too far off the hillsides coming closer together almost meeting. This was where the Lidaning valley met the gord valley. He looked ahead seeing the edge of where the path dropped down coming closer as he moved toward there. Ian found himself looking left where the side of the path slanted off but much more steadily meeting a small yet inclined clearing where the trees seperated but the grass kept going to the other end where the hill picked up steeply meeting the top and crown of a patch of trees. Ian scanned ahead to where the end of the glade just ended abruptly with the incline in the hill and he noticed a large form close but not on the edge of the clearing there. He stopped and peered closer. The thing, whatever it was moved, it was large and seemed lithe from here. Ian couldn't quell his curiousity, he had the time to burn, they weren't expecting him in Gord city for a while so he went off the path slowly and came behind tree to tree stopping to look at it. Whatever it was it was animal of a kind he saw and quite lithe from here with a long neck like a snake Ian surmised. He came behind a path of fern and a moss covered tree not too far off from where this creature was. Ian couldn't see its front end since it was facing the other way. He saw though that the thing was a large serpent with green scales and quite lithe. He did find it odd that the thing had four limbs with claws much like a lizard than a serpent. The beginnings of it's neck to where Ian couldn't make it out was as lithe as well. Ian could feel his heart quickening and the sweat not already triggered by the sun pouring out much faster. He made sure he was out of sight from the thing behind the tree he didn't want to take a chance whatever the thing was. Then he gasped when he looked at it again it was gone. Then he felt a breeze at his back, a welcome feeling cooled him off but he stopped for the breeze kept stopping and starting abruptly. Shaking he turned slowly around and stared face to face with the creature into it's diamond green eyes atop a long snout with horns to the back of them. The breeze was the breath from the two nostrils which sat atop it's snout. His mind raced but he was almost tranceawed amidst his fear he knew what the thing was . . . a dragon.
"Hi." The creature uttered, it's voice a low hiss.
Ian couldn't even bring a word to bear. The thing moved it's head a little back and Ian saw firstly how it's bulk literally dwarfed him. He uttered an eep in return and the dragon gave him an odd look.
"You speak funny."
"I . . . I . . . do?"
"Yeah really." The dragon looked at him closer again.
"Ack..." was the only thing Ian could muster and he looked away from the creature's piercing gaze and backed up against the tree. He felt he couldn't move the fear was so numbing him.
"Do not fear me."
Ian tried to look over to his left away from the thing but he found the dragon angled his neck to peer at him again. His face was about the quarter of the size of himself. Ian moved and ran toward the edge of the clearing and stopped at the top of the steep incline down and whirled back around. The creature wasn't too far off but was moving slowly toward him and Ian saw it had wings unfurled, he must've missed them, and heart sunk, he couldn't outrun the thing if it had the capacity to fly, it'd catch up. Ian looked and saw a branch from a near tree. It looked sturdy and about his size so he took it and brandished it.
"You look good." The dragon chuckle hissed coming closer and furling its' wings across it's back.
"Stay away from me!"
"What? You came to me." The dragon hiss laughed.
Ian lowerd the branch, "What?"
"You came to me. I saw you."
"Yes." The dragon came within several steps of Ian.
"I heard you."
Ian lowered the branch even more. His fear started dropping down, "I was just curious. I mean, a dragon here. You're supposed to be a myth. Your kind's supposed to be off on the fireclaw star."
The dragon tilted the side of his head toward Ian. He saw that there was little opening there, and thought them to be ears. "I am sorry. I do not understand human speech that well. Could you speak shorter slower?"
"Really? I was saying that I thought your kind was beyond the fireclaw star."
"Fireclaw. I am from there."
Too perculiar. Ian looked toward the path and up into the sky where he remembered the Fireclaw star to appear. The whole way from there?
"That's unbelievable. You couldn't have flied...."
"No. I walked."
Ian stared at the creature. No way he could have walked.
"You're messing with me, dragon."
"I walked, here I will show you."
The dragon moved up beside Ian and down over the hillside moving right zigzagging down and dissapeared over on the far end and toward the Silvendonia river. Ian used the branch to steady himself and clamored over the steep side of the hill. It was lidden with brian and thick foliage so it took a while and he almost fell a few times but finally came around to the side of the hill where the Lidaning valley met the Gord valley. It flattened out on the hill side. He now saw he was closer but still a little ways off from the Silvendonia river bank. Ian saw the carved into the side of the hill, on the Gord valley side of the hill facing the silvendonia river was an opening, a cave he guessed. Cut into the side of the hill almost like a gash it wasn't that big but big enough for the dragon to slide through his head appeared suddenly from the opening making Ian jump back. Perculiar he thought since he'd heard read and seen pictures of dragons in or around a cave. So, that legend was true.
"Here is where it is."
The dragon slithed out and came before Ian and Ian fell back over a short bank before the cave opening and onto a flat area before the hillside sloped farther down. He got quite dirty from tumbling over so stood up and dusted himself off and looked off down what was left of the incline, it wasn't far before the hillside met the creek he knew as Glen's Run. It went out a little ways in a small s pattern before emptying into the Silvendonia. In back into the gully carved by the run were a string of various houses.
"I'm surprised you didn't startle the people there."
"I do not think they noticed me." The dragon said back.
Ian looked back up at the cave, "So you came in from there. How is this?"
"I came through the cave here. I found it to be new though."
"Started familiar then went different?" Ian offered since the creature's hiss and dialect confused him a little as well.
"Well..." Ian looked up at the cave's entrance. No sound issued from it's entrance. He felt a little uneasy about the entrance though he knew he had nothing to fear at least at present. It was just a feeling he did not want to dismiss, though. Ian wanted to go on his feeling and not go in the cave.
"Well." The dragon said.
"Well, I may have to look at it sometime when I'm around here. What about you?" Ias asked.
"I will go back and tell Sharclaw about this."
"He is our leader. He will probably investigate this." The dragon told Ian.
"I would tell my leader but I doubt he would do anything." Ian admitted.
"He would not. A long story."
"Too long? I have time." The dragon confided.
"Well it's rather boring. He's just well most everyone feels he could do better."
Ian heard several squeaks coming from deep within the cave. The sounds instilled in him an unknown fear now. Ian wanted to get away from the cave, he couldn't deny the feeling now.
"Bats?" He asked standing up and pointing to the cave.
"I do not know that. There are many passages in the cave."
Ian's fear was answered. If the dragon could come through the cave from a far star. What else could come? He knew he'd have to tell King Ziek no matter whether or not he would do anything. The stay in Silvendonia would have his divided attention Ian could see that now.
Looking up in the sky the sun wasn't too far off from where he saw it last but he didn't want to stay near the cave, "I should be going."
Ian looked back at the dragon. He was curious to talk with the creature but not here in front of the cave, "Maybe we can talk some other time while I'm around here up in the clearing."
"I guess so. I am not doing much."
"Tommorrow then." Ian said and turned around looking for the path. It wasn't too far from the cave it actually came down over the hill a little bit off back over behind the cave. Ian looked back at the dragon who was watching him leave. He felt content rather pleased to have met a creature and not because it was one that hadn't been seen much since centuries past. Ian didn't have many friends and he found it odd that this was a creature he wouldn't mind getting to know. As he crossed the bridge over Glen's run he looked back and was dissapointed since it was gone. Looking down the path it curved around the hillside there just above the banks of the Silvendonia. Rounding the corner he glanced across the river and saw little islands in it's midst but closer to the opposite shore. Looking again down the path he saw the town of Gord opening up. It was carved into the hill with the various shaped and colored houses in the rows. Farther downward several small buildings in sight came up higher than the house. Not all was level there and some houses were built on a slant. Several people passed him and he saw them stop. This didn't really mind Ian, not many used the path he just came from since most had a transer and could get from one place to another in an instant. He looked back once more and seeing the dragon still wasn't there he turned and went into the limits of Gord city.
The light of dawn cast the Gord Valley in a glow. The light of down caused the mist on the Silvendonia started to form small whirlwinds of the myst escaping into the sky. Ian was out early though, he was interested in finding the dragon again and talking with it. He hoped that the creature wouldn't be at the cave though. The thoughts of the cave very well disquieted him. He was usually curious he noticed but the cave and just the aura about it set him on an edge.
The dragon wasn't near the cave as he rounded the bend toward Glen's Run, and he sighed relief. The only problem he perceived was where the dragon might be and if it would be indeed where he met it before. Ias moved along the path across the Glen's Run bridge, a bridge of stone in side and on path in an arch. The Glen Run below was not very large, more a creek size. Ian passed across the bridge and followed the path up the hill and through a grove of trees the path went through. To his left the grove started again and low and behold near the edge was the creature. Ian moved closer and was soon a few meters away from it.
"Good day." The dragon greeted him.
"Yes it is," Ias replied looking up at the dawning sky at the sun peaking up from the far horizon past the edge of where the grove ended and dropped off to the top of the hills there back around Glen's run.
"You left in a hurry."
"Yeah, sorry about that I was needed in town." Ian lied since he didn't want to sound afraid of the cave.
"Well, I could show you." The dragon said and before Ian could say anything the creature moved and went down over the edge again. Ias solemly followed dreading to the cave again. It was the same as usual and Ias took care to stay a good few feet from it's entrance.
"Maybe some other time, I mean I really don't even know much about you." Ian said when the dragon appeared at the entrance.
"Okay. But what did you want to know?" The dragon moved to come in front of Ias.
"Well... your name."
"Name? Ah... but it's hard to pronunce in human tongue."
"Well maybe you could shorten it and we'll start with that."
"Okay, then it's Jock."
"I'm Ian," Ian said extending his hand but stopped.
"Oh it's nothing it's a greeting humans do, shaking hands."
"Ah," the dragon extended a talon.
Ian felt awkward but took the the tip of the claw, being his hand was smaller than even the tip, he felt a sharp pain and withdrew his hand seeing it seeping with a stream of blood. Never did he think the creature claws could be that sharp. A slight fear started in him and he backed off a step to check his hand.
Ian looked at his hand and found it wasn't more than a slice wound so he turned back and shrugged at Jock. "I didn't realize your claws would be that sharp."
"I should have told you, sorry." The dragon looked upon his hand and then snorted.
"It's okay," Ias replied and moved down to Glen's Run to wash it off. The water was rather cool and made the wound smart a bit. The water did reflect his image back at him. He glanced at his blue eyes and dark hair. Suddenly he saw something else something that froze him on the spot. Some other image of a pointed eared creature appeared in the reflection from across from him but looking back up on the opposite bank he saw nothing. It was enough to set him more on edge than the cave originally set in him. Now the whole vicinity seemed to reek with the feeling. The sun started to dim a little and he heard a distance sound sounding like a low muffled cry. Then the light returned to normal and the feeling retreated from all around. Ian stood up slowly from his crouched position by the Run and looked around shaking a little but soon he regained his composure as he heard some birds start chirping again and a light breeze pick up.
Cautiously though he returned from the stream. Jock waited patiently lying down on the ridge before the cave, his neck and head between outstretched forelimbs and talons.
"Did you feel that... just a second ago?" Ian said noticing that it was more a whisper that came out of him.
"Many odd things happen like that." The dragon replied his gaze moreso away from Ias than much else. Ias though he looked a little tired, probably from the sun he surmised which was coming into the quarter of the sky.
Ian felt the feeling from the cave again so stayed several paces away from even the ridge as before. "So, what's Fireclaw like and your leader?" Ias thought the question would pass the feeling of the cave.
"It is rather beautiful," Jock said lifting his head and neck up and looking at Ian. "It is not like this world. It is filled with dragons. The only humans are far away. Sharclaw only looks over us dragons of south fireclaw. There are others to the north, west, and east who oversee." Jock paused for a moment seeming to Ian to be contemplating or reflecting. He continued slowly, his voice reverant, after another moment, "Sharclaw is the most respected of the dragons though. He's really done so much for us. Everyone cannot compliment him enough. Because of him we have gotten through sickness and wars. He has built many a many grand network of abodes for us... grand underground cities you would have to see..."
Ian listened to the creatures voice and looked upon the thing. He found he didn't mind the dragon's company at all. The ordeal yesterday had happened so fast he hadn't had time to really appreciate what had happened. The fear of the cave seemed to subside but not go away as he looked upon the creature into it's eyes diamond green deep seeming to Ian, deep and holding it's own inner beauty. He saw the depth and rather the a glow from within. He pulled back to view the creature again. It seemed the thing almost glowed on the outside as well. Probably from the sun on it's scales he decided and wiped some perspiration off his forehead. The action made him break his attention on the dragon for a moment.
"What about you?" the creature asked when he returned his attention.
"Oh. Well our leader is King Ziek, he's been the king for the last eighteen years I think. I work for him as a castle hand. I wish I could say more but I could risk dismissal and even worse." Ian said this feeling no dignity remembering how much hell it was sometimes and how pathetic it was at others. He really didn't want to say much more. It was hard telling who was on his side and Ziek didn't take well to insolence even if it was an opinion.
Ian feared the dragon might ask that question, "Well... he's had people imprisoned."
"Oh..." The dragon did look upon him with a peculiar look his features eased and open. Ian guessed Jock sympathized. There followed a pause and Jock spoke up again, "What of your family?"
Good selection Ian thought, "Yeah. My family itself isn't great in prestige but we're good. I do appreciate my family. I'd do anything to be able to move back here with them." He meant every word of it. Really he didn't have many friends in Silvendonia, so mostly he came to see his family. The words did instill in him a longing to live back in Silvendonia. He had had the feelings before but the cave and Jocks presense really brought it out to him. Ian sighed asking solemly, "What about yours?"
The dragon perked up, "Well my family is soldiertry, I think you call it. We have been soldiers since I know."
"Ah dragon warriors. That would be a sight to see."
"Maybe we could go and I'll show you..."
"No no... No offense, but since I think it's me, this cave...."
The dragon looked back at the cave almost leisurely it seemed, "What about it?"
"Don't you feel that feeling it's unnatural. I've been in caves before out in Yivel."
"Yivel? is that?"
"Yes. Yivel is where Granis Castle and city is and where I work." Ias explained.
"I see. But what is this cave?"
"It's actually along the edge of where Yivel passes into Maduri region. A famous writer supposedly got lost in it with his girlfriend."
"You talk too fast again." The dragon pointed out.
"Sorry, but you see I like caves. It's just that this one is just not right."
"I have not felt anything."
"Maybe it is me," Ian resolved but looking at the cave again he shivered with the feeling again. Jock didn't say anything but looked at the cave with him. Ian wanted to take his mind off the place again, "So, how did you end up here, being you're probably a soldier?"
"I actually was scouting it for sharclaw. An odd force was coming from it." The dragon told Ian returning his attention to him.
"But you said you didn't feel anything?"
"Del sarto detected an odd force." The dragon replied
"Oh is he a synth user?" Ian asked.
"A what? Oh. Maybe he is what you speak. He uses some odd ways, making some strange things happen."
"Sounds like a synth user." Ian said marveling at the same time. He'd not realized how advanced Dragons were. Synth was a great discovery to the whole of the kingdom of Yivelis. Without it transers wouldn't be able to work and many other necessities taken for granted. The thought of life without applied synth was just unimaginable to Ian. He himself, though, had not had any formal knowledge of it as he didn't take any classes in school about it. The only problem was that Ziek didn't care at all about Synth himself so the carelessness was causing the kingdom to fall Ian reflected.
Jock didn't respond but layed his head down on the dirt and closed his eyes. The sun wasn't much into the sky still but did radiate fair warmth. Ian was a little dissapointed though he hoped to have a little more of a conversation but he couldn't think of the words to start one. He looked back toward the bridge over Glen's run and toward the hill up overhead through the stones on the hillside to the trees up top. He brought his sight back over toward the dragon and was about to sit down when he stopped cold and there in the darkness just inside the cave two glowing eyes appeared and started drifting closer and closer toward him. Ian staggered backwards and was about to let out a cry when something of a blur shot out of the cave coming like a bolt of lightning toward him and before he could move he was knocked back down the hillside and landed hard on his head. His world swimmed for a moment and then he blacked out.
Chapter 1 The Relief Guild
The morning sun put a glow about the plains. The farmers were just starting up their equipment and starting down the roads toward their cropfields. The birds had risen some time before them and chirped gossip to one another. Insects in the grass alongside the crop fields buzzed with insects answering the birds talking. Nivil laughed as he thought it might be about him, as he walked down the street toward the town of Granis. The whole town of Granis was rather a citadel with Castle Granis in a rise toward the center of the structure. Indeed, Nivil saw as he did every morning the place he worked at. Tending to Ziek's inner affairs as counsel. Whatever use it was Nivil thought to himself scowling at the outer stone walls. Some of the stones had big chunks missing from them while others looked to almost want to fall out the rest looked to him weatherbeaten and cracked. The castle from even as far away as he was looked even worse. A turrent to the right side was actually lopsided. Several battlements atop the whole castle itself also were slanted and one was held up from falling over by a stig of wood. Down upon the window some of the shutters sagged and one was missing from a window. Nivil shook his head, the look of it depressed him. He perked up for a second to wave at people passing him on the road coming from Granis itself. Then there were more and they waved enthusiastically as well. He was used to it. When he could he tried to help out some farmers and people under King Ziek's nose. Ziek almost found out one time and that would have resulted in his jailing indefinitely. It did make Nivil smile to see he was at least appreciated if that was the case. Again it was truly hard to keep the smile while knowing he had to report to the one who he disobeyed. Really he couldn't help it, not because his parents were magistrates in his town of Sparikle. That was enough he decided to be an incentive but maybe it was his parents' influence on him for they shaped Sparikle into what it is today, the citizens good and well off. The signs of Zieks rule though were showing through there too and the town had started on decline. He could barely keep enough aid going there under Ziek's nose. Sighing he kept moving toward the gates of the citadel. Passing through, the town itself spread before him up till the foot of the castle. Mostly toward the front were, as usual the lower housing residencies. What made up the town were the great guildhouses double story or more that were like mini castles of their own almost but made of moreso wood and metal than stone and metal. Toward the back rows of the city buildings were the largest taking up a few lots in size. All of it was assembled in neat rows probably the neatest thing in the whole citadel. The houses did show signs of King Zieks rule. The people themselves gather along the main street Nivil was on to the sides to market. The whole street was filled with a heavy murmur of talking. Nivil passed these as he had on other days and proceeded down the street. Castle Granis got larger and the street went up a ramp and up upon the stone pedestal that the decrepid castle stood on. From the distance now it was even more pitiful. The portcullis which was raised had two spikes bent on the underside of it. When Nivil finally came to the start of the ramp to go up to the castle gate he looked down the lot here past the largest guild houses and saw the one far to the left side. It was the only one not used. Nivil had hoped to be able to get use of that guild house and start his own guild. Maybe something that would help give relief. Though looking back at the castle solemnly he sighed knowing that Ziek wouldn't allow it. He walked up the ramp having to step aside as a cart transer passed up the ramp by him. He'd seen these all to many times the transer a black mobile vehicle almost like a capsule. This cart transer was open at the top and bowled up and was laden with sacks. He watched it hover up and into the front gate. Continuing he moved up the ramp and mounted the top continuing on without stopping in through the front gate.