Sunday, May 15, 2016

Prisoner of Stone - Chapter Two

Chapter One
(working title, rough draft)

Chapter Two

Brother Aron arrived in the village of Grantwood and was greeted by some of the locals. He found himself in the company of a man called Father Sharpe. Sharpe had a collection of tomes and scrolls from which he taught the gospels and lessons on various subjects.

“What do you know about dragons?” Brother Aron asked, curious. Actually his master was curious, Aron could feel the presence of his master in his mind.

White-bearded Father Sharpe walked, with the help of a cane, to one of the shelves and plucked two scrolls, and the returned to the table where they were sitting.

These scrolls were copied from much older texts.” Father Sharpe explained, rolling one of the scrolls open across the table. Aron was able to study the drawings that accompanied the written accounts.

It would appear that dragons were known in the old days, the far distant past, but that they were rarely encountered.” Father Sharpe explained. “These mountains were one of the regions where it was said that dragons lived. They lived apart from humans, although there were occasions where they met and occasionally fought. It seems, though, that humans and dragons got along well for the most part before disappearing entirely.”

So, would most of our legends and tales be based upon these events?” Aron asked.

The man shook his head. “Far too few know of the real record of dragons. Our myths and legends are made up fairy tales for the most part. Used to keep children obedient or to tell morality tales or just to frighten people. I would say that dragons, as they were, have been forgotten as nearly as it is possible to forget them.”

You believe they really existed?” Aron asked at the behest of his master, the growling in his mind told him what to say.

The records are quite scant, it took me a long time to collect these. I would have liked to have access to more of the monasteries records, but that isn't allowed of course.” Father Sharpe said, stroking his white beard. “The mystery is what made them die out. Supposedly their weakness was their true name. Myths and legends say human knights hunted them to extinction to show their bravery, but that's poppycock.”

Brother Aron heard the dragon chuckling in his mind. “Humans hunted us to extinction, that is a very humorous idea.” it was saying.

Thank you for sharing this information, Father Sharpe. I will request my Monsignor to search his records and send you anything he finds.” Brother Aron said, before rising to leave. The dragon in his mind made him stop and turn back.

Is there anyplace in the village to hire help? I am afraid I need to hire laborers for some restoration work back at the hermitage. It was in disrepair when I arrived.” Brother Aron asked. The truth was too grim to think about.

Thankfully he was a stranger here and didn't know any of these people. He found the Guild House next to a tavern, naturally. The village was too small for anything like an actual Guild Hall. Knowing humans as well as he did, he chose to enter the tavern.

The barkeep was a frail-looking old man and the place was more or less empty. Still, he had to do it. “I'm looking for a few handy souls to labor for a few days at a keep in the wood, a half-days walk from here. I'll pay you for a fortnight, plus room and board of course,” He announced.

'Word of this will get back to the Monsignor! I'll never be trusted again,' He thought toward the presence of the dragon in his mind.

'Doesn't matter. Just do what I say,' The dragon sent back with enough force to cause pain. Brother Aron winced, but otherwise continued.

One disappointed-looking man had started to come forward but hobbled back to the table he had come from. Three others accepted the offer of work. He gave them some coppers for an advance and two of them left to give this to their wives.

'They have families, do you really need to do this?' Aron thought at the dragon.

'I suppose I could just eat you, but then I don't think you have much nutritional value,' The dragon joked while making Aron's head ache, 'If I am to be free, I need the sustenance.'

Once they returned, the men followed him back to the wood. Brother Aron was worried and hated himself the whole time.

'You just need to do as I say,' The dragon who called himself Grotiss told Aron, 'That is how you can keep yourself alive. When you become useless to me...'

Up ahead the misshapen mountain came into view.

Eh, that is one ugly hillock.” One of the men said, the others laughed.

'My prison,' Grotiss projected, 'Their grave.'

It's going to be dark soon enough,” Brother Aron told the men, “You can sleep in the basement, it's comfortable down there.”

He opened the heavy wooden doors on the front and followed them in. He was busy lighting a torch in the nearest fireplace while the men drifted around.

It's like a very small castle.” One of them said.

It's called a Keep.” Brother Aron told them, “It has a significant purpose to the clerical order.”

He led them through the inner door and down the circular cave. The men grew quiet, uneasy. Then they reached the heavy doors at the bottom.

No problems, you will find bedding and pottage inside. Have a pleasant sleep.” Aron told them and opened the door. They did seem quite ill at ease but moved forward toward the door. Inside it was pitch black and he could barely see them from the entrance.

It's too dark to see anything.” One of the men said, “Give us a torch.”

Of course, you need fire to see by.” Brother Aron said and then slammed the door shut, he dropped the large piece of timber across the lock bars.

Here's some light!” Grotiss roared and the men screamed. Brother Aron heard the screams and then the pounding on the other side of the door. He backed away and then ran back up the circular cave to sit in the study. He didn't want to hear the screams, but they were as loud as ever.

It was Grotiss mentally relaying the suffering of his meal to Aron. Torture. Aron covered his head and lay it on the table, he began to hum and recite Bible verses to make it go away. The dragon had other ideas because he could feel the bodies of the men crunching between his jaws and taste them in his belly.

Stop it, Please! No!” He cried over and over again throughout the ordeal.

The horrible minutes felt like hours. Brother Aron was simply crying now.

You're a monster!” Brother Aron said.

'Yes, have you only just noticed?' The dragon asked, 'Now I can get out of here and fly free again!'

The Keep shook, books and herbs fell off the shelves and racks. Pieces of the ceiling began to buckle and he thought he heard bricks crashing to the floor outside of the study. As soon as the quake subsided he ran out of the study to find himself feeling the outside air. Much of the keep had been torn away, a hole toward the dungeon below showed how the dragon escaped.

He heard something and spun about. The dragon was nearby and eying him.

'Well, human Aron,' The dragon projected, 'What shall it be? Join me? Perish? I leave the choice to you, of course.'

Brother Aron didn't have a preference at that point. “If I choose to live for the sole purpose of finding your weakness and returning you to your realm forever?”

The dragon laughed. 'Then so be it. You may serve me until you can defeat me. You can be my jailer.'

Then I shall. Master Grotiss.” Brother Aron said, “One day I shall return you to your prison.”

'Human Aron, you should sleep. For on the morrow, we pay a visit to the Monsignor. While you sleep, I shall hunt.'

Brother Aron was shaking, but nodded and waved at the dragon before returning to the study, which was now all that was left standing. The dragon stretch its wings and then flapped them, finally with a roar he returned to the skies of Earth for the first time in more than a millennium.

It was near morning when Aron finally slept well enough to dream. In the dream Father Sharpe appeared to him. “Brother Aron, you must learn the true name of the dragon in order to defeat it, it is a monster unbound by time or distance. Only you can return the beast to where it belongs.”

When Brother Aron woke and had refreshed himself, he ventured outside. For the first time he could see the dragon fully, in broad daylight. It was enormous, it was much larger than could have ever fit in the dungeon. Maybe even its size was unbound by Earthly rules.

You slept a bit late, Jailer Aron. Perhaps an earlier bedtime would be a good idea,” The dragon said out loud. Which was not true, a mental projection combined with a roar had the same effect as actually speaking it seemed. Then it projected, 'We have a busy day ahead of us.'

------------- Chapter Three

Nel is seventeen and has some normal teenage problems, angst over her super-powers, worries over a super-powered world war and that "arch enemy" stalker she might have to fight to the death!

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