Enter Ka'kivanwyn, draconic pet of the prince and a selfish, spoiled brat. Having never been outside the castle walls and reluctant to do so, he is pressed into service to figure out what happened to the village.
Together with his friend the prince, his bodyguard, and a mysterious magi, they must embark on a simple quest to hopefully restore order to two kingdoms.
Unfortunately, their quest becomes anything but simple as they dig deep beyond the ruins...
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.77(d)|
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A Dragon's Journals
By Matthew Flentje, Forrest Gray
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Matthew Flentje
All rights reserved.
It was a rather humid evening for the small farming hamlet that sat on the edge of the Astirial kingdom's border. Dark clouds had dominated the sky the entire day, which led the villagers to believe the rain they had prayed for was finally coming. As dusk turned to night, the farmers ended their hard day of tending to their nearly ripened crops and gathered in the tavern for some well-deserved rest. The entire town seemed to be inside the building; there was a buzz of excitement about this year's harvest and it caused many to be in a bit of a celebrating mood.
"Another pint of ale for you three?" The barmaid said as she leaned down with a sweet smile to pick up the empty glasses of the three gentlemen who sat at the rough wooden table. The oldest of the three smiled right back and nodded as he tossed a silver coin onto her serving tray. "I'll be right back with those drinks hun." She gave them all a warm nod and walked back to the busy bar while the three men leaned back into their conversation.
"You know she's taken with you father." The youngest-looking of the three men, who just went through the ritual of being a man not two summers before, said with a sly grin. "You could probably have her within the month if you really tried."
"I won't be taking romance advice from you boy." Simon replied gruffly as he ran his thick, calloused fingers through his greyed hair. "Your mother was enough for me, and that is all I will ever need."
"We know father." The older of the two boys chimed in. "We just don't like seeing you lonely. Mom's been passed away for many winters; we think it might be time for you to move on. You raised a good farm and good sons; maybe it's time to think of your own needs."
Simon just gave a loud huff and leaned back with his arms crossed. He knew his boys were only thinking the best for him, but it still gave him a bit of ire when they brought it up. For him his boys and his land were enough, he didn't need anything else. He was getting on in years as well; an old buck like him had no business to run after young does, only to provide for his sons so they could start families of their own.
As he continued his introspection their next round of drinks came, where he received another warm smile with his ale. He returned it for politeness sake, and then looked back to his boys as they accepted theirs. The older boy, named Malachi, looked a lot like him; with short brown hair, blue eyes, and a rather stocky physique. Samuel, his youngest child, looked almost exactly like his mother. His hair was a similar shade of brown, but much longer and straighter, and had the same piercing green eyes as she did. He was also less tan and far more lithe then his brother, which made it harder on him in the fields but far easier when it came to matters of bartering or negotiation. Finally, there was his love of music that he shared with his mother before she died. It would only be a matter of time, he thought, before his looks would share even more similarities with her, something that caused a small knot of worry in his stomach that he tried to dismiss.
"Why don't you play us a tune Samuel?" Simon finally said. "I'm tired of this bar room chatter." Sam smiled and gave an enthusiastic nod, then proceeded to pull out his flute and play. As the sweet music filled the air most of the patrons ceased their conversations and listened in. There was always a magic laced in his music; no matter what he played it caused the entire room to stop and listen to his melody.
Suddenly, the door to the tavern slammed open, which caused the enchanting song to cease as it caught Samuel and the rest of the patrons by surprise. Everyone turned to see an extremely disheveled man, his clothing singed and hair smoked slightly. He looked at them with wild eyes, his face frozen in sheer terror as he exclaimed "Dragons! In the Fields! Gods save us!" before he passed out cold on the polished wood floor. Several people ran to administer aid while Simon and the other farmers exchanged worried looks before they bolted out of their chairs to the fields.
Once they were outside the farmer's looks of worry turned to sheer terror as they saw their fields, their livelihoods, up in flames. Despite the fear that the winged beasts may still lurk about they began to run to their various homesteads in order to try and douse the flames as best they could. Simon quickly yelled to his sons to follow before he started to run down one of the dirt roads himself, one of the few not engulfed in the inferno. They all started to perspire profusely from the intense heat that surrounded them, combined with the fear of coming face to face with one of the great beasts that possibly lurked in the flames. While they had never been face to face with a dragon before they had all heard terrible rumors of them, able to disintegrate a man in seconds with its fiery breath or pluck a full-grown man off the ground like an owl taking a mouse. Nevertheless Simon was driven to save his homestead, not only for his family to survive in the winter ahead of them, but also to leave to his sons as his legacy.
After a harrowed run through the choking smoke and ash, the three finally made it back to their land. Much to their relief they found the house and barn to be in one piece, as well as most of their tools. Unfortunately the entirety of their cropland was engulfed in the blaze, their crops withered and popped from the extreme heat.
"Malachi, see if there's anything in the well we can use to douse the buildings." Simon instructed. "Sam, make sure the animals in the barn aren't hurting themselves from all the commotion."
"But Dad, the crops ..." Malachi started to say before his father cut him off.
"The crops are a lost cause." His voice cracked slightly as he tried to hide his sadness. "For now we save what we can, better half a farm then no farm at all. Now move it, both of you!"
Samuel watched as his brother took off towards the well, possibly as frightened as he was at the intensity of their father's words. He quickly regained his composure and ran towards the barn, the heat even more stifling as he attempted to open the huge metal door. His gloves smoked slightly against the heated metal as it slowly started to open. His muscles strained as he struggled immensely, slightly embarrassed since he knew that his brother or father would have opened it already. Cursing under his breath, he managed to get it just open enough to slide in. As soon as he could squeeze through without burning himself he did so, and he fell to the straw matting on the barn floor once he made it to the other side. He could feel that the interior air was slightly cooler against his sweat-drenched body as he pulled off his charred gloves and tossed them aside, his hands very hot but thankfully not burned as he sucked in the cooler air.
Once he regained his bearings, he quickly noticed that aside from the baying of their two horses in the end stalls, not a single one of their livestock animals could be heard. They had several pigs, sheep and two cows they had intended to try and breed, but as he started to peek into the stalls he saw none of them. His heart sank when he noticed the door on the other side of the barn was completely open to the inferno outside. The light that came from the field fires illuminated the empty and open stalls, which caused Samuel to become even more disheartened. With the crops gone they could have still lived off their livestock for the winter, but now how would they survive?
The worrisome thoughts continued to swirl in his mind as he walked over to the horse's stalls. "Shhh, it's going to be ok." He cooed to them as he rubbed a hand down their very tense flanks. "The fire can't get you here, you're safe. There's nothing to worry about in this place." His words seemed to have calmed the horse's nerves, but they still had a nervous energy that Sam couldn't understand the meaning of.
As he took several water pails and doused the walls, he suddenly felt something large pass quickly by him. At first he thought it might have been one of the loose animals, perhaps a cow that tried to flee the flames outside and ran back into the shelter. When he turned around though, something distinctly larger than a cow lurked in the shadows of the stalls. It was hard to see what it was despite the fires outside, so tentatively he grabbed a lantern and lit it before he stepped forward. Whatever the creature was, it didn't seem to move at all as he approached, so he took a few more steps and leaned the lantern over the pen walls.
What he saw there was enough to make him gag in his throat. The bright light spilled over the corpses of their beloved farm animals that littered the ground. They were not much more then piles of bloody bones and stray bits of flesh, aside from a rather freshly killed cow that the shadowy creature skulked over. Samuel, terrified, attempted to back away as quietly as possible when his lantern clanged noisily against the wooden stall wall and fell to the ground. The flame and oil that spilled lit the dry hay, which illuminated the creature as the fire began to greedily devour the loose straw.
It was a dragon, at least to the best of Samuel's identification as the fire quickly illuminated the area. Blood and gore streaked it's maw as it turned from the slain animal and started to pad towards him. Sam continued to back away in fear as the dragon got closer to the flames, its red scales gleamed brightly in the light as its feral yellow eyes stared at him with hunger. The farmer's child quickly found himself backed up against the opposite barn wall, his body shaking tremendously as the dragon moved towards him with torturous slowness, like a cat that felt the need to play with the mouse before he consumed it.
Sam could feel the rancid breath of the dragon, hotter even then the fire from the burned crops as it was almost on top of him now. The smell was the worst though; the rancid odor of death and decay plugged his nostrils and threatened to turn his stomach as the dragon seemed to ponder what to eat first. He didn't want it to end this way, not curled cowardly in a ball against a stall door while a vicious beast tore him limb from limb.
Then, just as he saw the toothy maw of the dragon lower down to swallow him up, he heard a voice mutter something in a strange language that seemed to give it pause. Once more the voice spoke, though Sam couldn't understand the words said the tone definitely implied a command, and reluctantly the dragon backed away from him and flew out of the open barn doors. After a few seconds of extremely tense waiting, it seemed as though his death would be avoided this night. Shakily he got to his feet, with the rough stall door as a brace, and managed to take a few steps towards the open door. He wasn't sure why he wanted to try and follow the creature that was almost his undoing, but he was resolved to drag himself out of the burning barn towards the slowly dying crop fire to see if he could catch a glimpse of what caused the dragon to retreat.
As fate would have it his chance to see what saved him would not be that night, for as he got to the door a blinding purple light seemed to emanate from the air where the dragon would have flown off too. He put an arm up to his face, but it did little as the next second he could feel a strange current of magical energy pulse through his body. It blew him off his feet; the shockwave of such a powerful force knocked him all the way back to the other side of the barn. He fell to his knees shortly afterwards, not only from the bone-bruising blow he took to his head and back, but also because it felt as though his insides had started to liquefy from the strong magic inside of him. The pain was excruciating, and after a few seconds it overwhelmed him completely as his body collapsed to the ground with nothing more than a small, pitiful yelp as his vision faded into nothingness.
Meanwhile at the heart of the kingdom of Astirial, another dragon was hidden away in the shadows of a very large stable. There were no panicking horses, no animals that lay dead on the ground around it. The dragon itself was in a state of slumber, though it was a restless one that caused him to thrash and turn in the fine sheets that covered the coarse straw. These stables were far from typical; they were where the steeds of the highest and finest breed were kept in, nestled almost a stone's throw away from the castle that housed both royal and noble blood. The black-scaled, horse-sized dragon was also far from typical either, for Ka'kivanwyn, or 'Ka' as most of the servants had been keen to call him, had been a pet of the royal family since given to the prince when they were both very little.
The clouds that had threatened stormy weather the entire day finally made good on their promise as a crack of thunder stirred Ka from his fitful slumber. He awoke with a gasp; his emerald-shaded eyes quickly looked around as he took stock of his surroundings, his breathing heavy as he struggled to calm himself. Once more he found himself in his familiar stall, a place given to him after his continued growth had caused havoc while in the castle, particularly when a careless tail would catch on an expensive bauble or mirror and cause it to crash down. Despite this the prince continued to spoil the young dragon with such amenities as a very comfy bed, books, and small pieces of gold or jewelry. All he wanted at the moment though was his light, and as he lit the small oil lamp he breathed a great sigh of relief as the warm light filled the enclosure.
Rain began to pound on the nearby window in sheets as Ka took a moment to stretch out his weary muscles and tried to shake the last tendrils of his nightmare from his mind. He had them before; it was always the same dream and always caused him to wake up in a fright. He couldn't remember most of it except for the end, which caused him to shiver from snout to tail as he banished the last of the thoughts. There was no intention for him to return to bed just yet, instead he walked over to his shelf of books and picked out a cook book that he was particularly interested in and sat down in a small but comfy pile of pillows. The recipes he looked through not only calmed his nerves, but helped him to prepare for a dinner ceremony that rapidly approached.
Much to the chagrin of most of the staff, after it was no longer appropriate for the dragon to be merely a pet the royalty had to find some way to make the dragon's presence useful as well as secret. After much experimentation and many failures, which included fifteen knights that ended up in the infirmary after one particularly disastrous try with alchemy, he finally found his true calling in the castle kitchens. They were not only large enough to accommodate him but also made use of his exquisite draconic palette, though he had to remember he was cooking for humans and not himself. In the kitchens he was able to earn his keep while still remain close to the prince and keep his presence within the kingdom a secret.
As Ka continued to read he suddenly heard something rattle against the outside of one of his stall doors. Slowly and carefully he made his way towards the loose section of wall, setting his book to the floor as quietly as possible. The wooden panel slid away as he hovered over it, ready to strike at the possible intruder. When he saw the intruder poke his head through however, the dragon quickly relaxed his position and stuck out a paw to help him inside.
"Thanks for the help." The young male said as he moved through the hole and stood up. "I saw your light on and thought you might have had another nightmare."
"I'm honored that the prince of the kingdom would be so concerned." Ka replied as he helped the Prince to his feet. Prince Collin Astirial had just entered manhood little more than a winter ago, but with his long blonde hair, blue eyes and fair features he looked like he was still in his early teens. The dragon knew better, as they had grown up together all his life and he watched the prince grow from a child to an adult.
"Enough of that talk Ka." Collin rebuked, though in a playful tone as he rung the water out of his silken blue robe. "We are neither around family nor servants, so unless the horses begin to flap their gums you will be safe with informalities. Besides, friends do not regard each other with such rigid words."
Excerpted from A Dragon's Journals by Matthew Flentje, Forrest Gray. Copyright © 2013 Matthew Flentje. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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