Yesterday, I finally had some brain space and energy to get back to the book I have been writing for the last year. I made a goal to write at least four books this year. I completed the first draft on two and am finally finishing the editing on one. It’s been a busy year.
So with no further ado or complaints I am leaving an excerpt of Dragon Boy here. As for the rest, well the proof is in the pudding as my grandfather used to say. I hope to get this out to Beta readers by the beginning of next year.
Chapter Twenty-One (part 2)
In all the drama, Michael had been forgotten by the participants. He didn’t mind. This was a good time to explore the hallways, the kitchens, the rooms, libraries, and even the dungeons if there was one. He whistled a little as he walked down the passageways, rubbing his right hand against the wall. Someone had taken the time to smooth the walls. Little rocks embedded in the walls had that smooth polished feeling.
If the lights were off and he held a lantern to them, the rocks would sparkle. He looked at the lights at the ends of the hall. They were nothing like what he saw in the real world. In the world they used candles, fires, and torches for lights. Some of the candles were made with pork fat and other animal fat, which made dark scorch marks on the walls. Here the lanterns were enclosed, they didn’t smell like pork or even sulfur. He had no idea what magic made the lighting possible. He had heard of people using whale fat and even that noxious gas that game out of the ground for light. But here under the mountain in the land of the dwarfs, they had some magic that wasn’t in the human world.
Off the passageway he found personal rooms and suites. When he walked into one found a young dwarf busy cleaning and polishing. He apologized for opening the door, but she just glanced down and continued her duties.
He turned left at one of the many forks. When he reached the end of the passageway, he found a wall. Something had been walled up here recently. Michael could feel the undine in small form holding on to his hair, her cold feet on his neck. He put his ear against the wall and listened. He didn’t understand why he wanted to explore further past the wall. There were no cries, just a heavy silence.
A dwarf touched his shoulder and Michael jumped. Michael expected a scolding or scowl for walking away from the others. When he had been left alone, it had been too good a chance to explore.
But the dwarf wasn’t scowling. He smiled, the smile on a dwarf is a terrible thing. There mouths are made for sternness. Still Michael felt a little better that the dwarf had made an effort.
“You are Michael, beloved of dragons,” said the dwarf.
“Beloved?” Michael’s voice rose a little. He did not expect this from the dwarf.
“For the service you did Davi a few months ago.”
That time was hazy for Michael, but he didn’t want to press the issue. The dwarf was inclined to help him. He could tell by the smile and how the dwarf’s eyes sparkled.
Michael changed the subject, “So what is behind this wall.”
“That is where the dragonlings are kept. The ones changed by the grimoire and the black mage.”
Michael shuddered at the memory of the small inn with misshapen children that had been eating their parents for sustenance. It had been a gruesome scene and one he didn’t want to remember.
“Why is it walled up?” asked Michael.
“They are feral,” said the dwarf. “They have to be tamed and civilized. When they are not in the training pits, they are fed and then put in the cells. It will take years, maybe hundreds of years to help them. They are tainted.”
“Show me,” said Michael.
The dwarf took him back to the fork in the tunnel, then another turn then a right, right, left. They were in front of a big door that was made of metal. No one could take that door down. Michael admired the work that had gone into making such a monstrosity.
The dwarf pulled out a key and opened the door. Michael followed behind him until they reached the cells. The dragonlings were already in their cells, they were in half-dragon half-human form and were taking big chunks out of their food.
“Do they speak?” asked Michael. He looked at each one. They were branded on his heart, the shapes, the grunts, and how they tore into the raw meat. They were animals without souls.
“No,” said the dwarf. “The change affected their minds. We still don’t know if they will be more than just feral beings.” The dwarf sighed. “The dragons have so few children that they cannot destroy these little ones. It would hurt too much.”
None of these dragonlings were little to Michael. Most of them towered above him in their cells. One of them noticed Michael. It roared and shook it bars. It had enjoyed the taste of human flesh and wanted more.
“And this one?” Michael pointed to the dragonling who had noticed him.
“That one will die soon,” the dwarf said sorrowfully. “It will not learn any of the commands and has tried to kill most of its trainers. He just sits in this cell. We have to force him back with fire sticks so that we can leave him food. It is only a matter of days.”
Michael felt pity well up in him. It was not this little one’s fault that he had been changed and tainted. “Is there a way to cleanse them?” The dwarf looked surprised, but when he tried to answer, Michael said, “No, the undine.”
“Undine,” the dwarf repeated Michael’s words. He looked confused.
The undine crawled out of her hiding place and looked into Michael’s eyes. She tapped into his deepest emotions and he let her in as far as she wanted. He had felt pity for these children, but with the emotions amplified by the undine’s touch, tears streamed down his cheeks.
Michael walked closer to the dragonling whose long arms forced through the bars of the cell was trying to grab and rip him to pieces.
The tears continued, fell on the ground, and became a living stream that flowed towards the dragonling. The tears touched his toes. The dragonling stomped in the water and screamed. Michael could hear the scream of human and dragon mixed.
The tears flowed upward from its toes to its head. The screams became more terrified and the dragonling fell on the ground of the cell. Michael’s sorrow increased. He could see that the taint was so buried into the dragonling that the tears might kill him.
Behind him the dwarf chanted, When the tears reached the dragonlings heart, it stopped.
“Is it dead?” Michael could see the tears clean the taint from his head.
There was silence as the dragonlings in other cells quit eating and watched the spectacle. There was a huge gasp from the downed being and it began to breath. The dwarf pulled out a key and rushed into the cell. He wrapped the dragonling in a blanket, held and crooned to him. Michael backed away and left them alone.
The undine pulled out a small glass bottle and captured a few of the tears. Then she leaped into Michael’s hair again. “What just happened?” he asked the undine.
“You cleansed me,” she said, “with the help of the clear stream. I thought that you could help the boy.”
“But isn’t it woman’s magic?” He sounded surprised. The undine laughed, clear bright and joyful.
“No, it is your magic,” she said. Soon they were in the passageways where most of the dwarfs were walking. He could smell cooking food so went in that direction. His stomach grumbled.