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On the other side of the world--not the other side of the globe, but the other side of existence--a dragon took flight. He was silver and brown, and seemed to meld with the mist that wreathed the steep, sharp crags. The mountain he circled was one of strange myths, so tall that no man or elf or four-footed beast had ever climbed it, so hard no dwarf had ever dug its depths. Some thought God lived at the peak, some considered it the domicile of husband sun and wife moon, and some believed it a barren wasteland where no life could ever survive.
The dragons knew the truth. Only they had breath enough and will enough to reach the highest of peaks. And this dragon was testing his breath and strength and will; his magnificent wings, with membranes so fine and clear they seemed like a net meant to capture the stars, strove hard, cleaving the wind, pushing just a little bit farther. He was tiring, and even he, a prince of the northern frost dragons, felt the cold like an ache in his bones.
Heaving forward, he broke free of the last of the clouds, his scales glittering like snow in the pale moonlight. The summit still seemed far away, but he continued, straining, for he had no choice.
When he finally made the top, he didn't stop, flying almost vertically until he had no more breath and darkness dotted the corners of his vision. He dived, let gravity take him, folding his wings back against his body. Closer to death than he had ever been, he did not see this as the end. This was a dive of faith, and he concentrated instead on another place only seen in dragon dreams. Soil and rock rushed up to meet him, but he kept his eyes open. He was close enough, in those last seconds, to seethe fine cracks in the parched earth.
Then he was tumbling through absolute blackness. First came emptiness as his magic was ripped away; then pain as his bones began to shift. He concentrated, reminding himself where he was going, who he was.
He came out of darkness and into twilight, fetching up against a tree. He pushed himself up, trying to focus on the land around him. His bones shifted again, and the prince of dragons threw back his head and screamed as wings withered, as scales transmuted into cloth. His coming was like a flare in the night for those who knew how to watch, a ripple across minds and hearts. They knew he had crossed through, but they did not know who or what he was, what his presence meant to them.
On the The Flying Dutchman, a group of elves looked to their captain. The captain's wife pulled out her charts.
"It's only the first sign," she whispered, "But the blue moon is coming."
The captain looked at his crew of refugees. "I swear to you now what I swore to you then. No one will force us back."
Grim silence greeted him, broken only by slap of waves against the hull and the creaking of wood.
In the cave beneath the ruins of her parents' castle, Nimue of the Lake stirred. Her pale-green eyes opened sleepily, but there was no quickening of magic in her soul. She sighed and rolled over, back into dreams.
In a one-bedroom apartment, Sabin felt the stirring in the atmosphere but couldn't interpret its meaning. He shrugged and looked at his wife, shook the car keys. She winced at the sound but continued scrubbing dishes and pretending not to cry.
"Dry your hands, baby," he said. "It's time to take a ride."
Others heard the cry. Some trembled, some nodded and began to make plans.
"The blue moon is coming," they whispered, in fear and anticipation.