Halting his pony on top of the highest hill in the Dragons Peaks range, Lazarone stared pensively over his beloved land. Although it looked as lovely as ever, at that moment he was aware of an uneasy feeling that under the surface something was hideously wrong.
In the middle distance the Forest of Argentsiana dominated all, its vast canopy covering hills and valleys alike in a mantle more silver than green. The day was so clear he could even make out the snow-clad tops of the lands only mountain range. One peak, shrouded in strange legends, was rumoured to stand head and shoulders above the othersbut try as he might he knew even his keen eyes would never be able to separate it from its neighbours. For Geheimberg, said to be sacred to the Goddess Lazaria, was so well hidden by an ancient and long-forgotten spell that no one had ever seen it.
Lazarones musings were abruptly cut off by something very large falling from the sky in the near distance. Oh, look, Egrianhunters have killed a dragon!
But the gimlet eyes of the eaglet on his shoulder had already seen the terrible poisoned arrows strike their target and had marked the spot where the dragon fell.
Its Ravenwing, the queen, he answered in his parrot-like voice. And I heard shed laid some eggsbut they wont hatch without her. He turned his head to fix the fierce stare of his huge golden eyes on his master. Why cant human kind understand the dragons wont harm them if they dont harm the dragons? He blinked, the fierceness rapidly changing to a pleading aspect. Will you help her with your healing magicplease, Highness?
Lazarone knew the noble bird would never lead him into dangerespecially as, using his inherited skills as a Ruling Healer, he had once saved Egrians life. So, with nothing but the young eagles word that the dragons really werent the ferocious creatures portrayed in recent history books, he answered without hesitation, Of courseif shes still alive. Besides, Ive never seen a dragon close up.
Lazarone rode down the hill as fast as he dared. He dismounted some distance from the dragon to avoid panicking the pony, tethered the reins to a tree and strode forward, outwardly as bold as the warrior of his imaginary battles but inwardly tremblingfor he knew a fire-breathing monster such as he was about to face could reduce a human to a ball of flame in seconds. And it wouldnt be the first time it had happened.
However, when they reached Ravenwing it was obvious she was beyond Lazarones still immature healing skills: she could barely raise her head, let alone breathe fire at him. Taking his first look into the alien eyes of the most feared creature roaming Lazaronias wilds, Lazarone caught his breath at the sheer beauty of their jewelled, ruby depths. And the pain and sorrow in them sent through him a surge of raging grief whose intensity astonished him.
Egrian was right. As soon as he became King he would stop this monstrous, senseless slaughter!
Only that was many long years away
But Ravenwing was speaking. Leave me to die. Its the eggs that matter nowall thats left of my species. Two are mine. Two belong to Silverwing killed yesterday. He heard the dragons effortful words only in his head but had no time to wonder how come so fearsome a creature could use a skill normally possessed only by sorcerers. For next moment she filled his mind with visions of where she had hidden the eggs and how to reach them
Ravenwing stopped repeating her directions only when sure he understood. Then, flooding his mind with the sound of a dragons hatching song, she got him to mimic her until satisfied he had it right. Youll need Esmeralda. Trust no one but Esmeralda. Do everything
But Ravenwing had spent her last drop of energy; her eyes abruptly dulled in death.
© L A Barker Enterprises