A Prison of Worlds (The Chained Worlds Chronicles Book 1)

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A Prison of Worlds

Book One of the
Chained World Chronicles

By Daniel Ruth

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To the
three wonderful women in my life, Wendy, Krystal and Amberlyn

A Prison of Worlds

Book One of the Chained Worlds Chronicles
Copyright ©
 
2014
 
by Daniel Ruth
All Rights Reserved

ASIN: B00R9ZBF62

Revision 4

Chapter 1

 

The
huge scaled claw grasped me around the waist and bore down.  At this exertion,
the last feeble energies that made up my shield collapsed and the sharp digits,
each at least a half foot wide, slowly began to sink into my hide.  It was excruciating
and added more to the panic and terror erupting within me.

I
had already summoned my barrier several times throughout the battle, only to
have this forty-foot-long, scaly brute seemingly, almost lazily wear it down
and then sink his fangs or claws in my flesh.  At this point I was tapped out.
Exhausted of all my resources, I beat on my captor’s grasping hand with all my
remaining strength.  My arms spun like scythes, restricted from full strength
by the positioning of the hand grasping me, but still respectable in my own
eyes.  Bruises and shallow cuts formed and healed almost immediately.  Damn
dragon regeneration.  Of course, my own similar regeneration was the only
reason I was still alive.

Through
my adrenaline and fear, I was overjoyed not to feel the claws sink into my body
inch by inch.  I had blocked the pain from my wounds at the start of the battle
and I really couldn't decide whether to curse myself or not; it also meant I
had exhausted my energy reserves a tiny bit sooner.  A small part of me idly
decided I was glad.  If this thing was going to kill me, and it really looked
like it wasn't avoidable, I could at least try to keep what was left of my
pride and dignity by not screaming like a piglet.

Out
of psionic tricks, I tried one last ace in the hole and fuzzily willed my body
to make the transition from the scaly form I wore to a formless cloud of mist. 
I saw a movement from the corner of my eye and then the universe went black.

 

I
think I was conscious for a minute or so before I actually realized it.  The
world seemed surreal, the gigantic leering dragon face hovered over me like one
of the old time derelict human construction cranes I ran across in one of the
city ruins.  So absurdly huge, I felt I had been shrunk to the size of a mouse
for a moment.  As things came more into focus, I noticed the incredible pain in
my head and some red liquid pouring into my eyes and over my body... and of
course the ever present spears of pain piercing my side.

A
low rumbling reverberated around me and it took me a moment to realize that the
dragon was speaking to me. “Finally awake?  I was afraid I broke you prematurely.”

I
really wanted to say something sarcastic and witty, but it was all I could do
to keep my eyes focused on that huge face.  In fact, the creature was even
larger than I remembered it being during the battle.  My muddled brain tried to
grasp this oddity.  Did he use some sort of spell to grow?  Why would he?  He
had already won.

It
suddenly dawned on me.  My skin was pink; well, what I could see of it under
the blood.  I was in my human form.  Now I was really confused. I definitely
did not remember changing into anything.  The last thing I remembered was being
sucker punched while I was planning my escape as a cloud of animated gas. 
There was absolutely no human form involved in my plan.

“I
see you noticed your new condition, my little trespasser,” the dragon stated in
his rumbling gravel tone.

“Huh,”
I angrily mumbled through a jaw I could swear was broken.  Even when you heal as
fast as I do, see if you can come up with something smart to say when you feel
like your head, sides, and chest are going to explode or burn up respectively. 
Honestly, I have been hit with fusion grenades and walked away feeling better.

“Your
companions were merely human, so I simply eliminated them.  I expect no more or
less from vermin.”  The giant paused in thought.  “You, however, are another
issue.  You are from a branch that I thought had died off, but still, a dragon
is a dragon.” The creature’s next pause was filled with menace.  “A dragon
should know better than to trespass on another's territory, even a hatchling
such as yourself.”

“Hrphhgr.”
I filled the pause with my broken jawed wit.  Okay, even I didn't know what I had
tried to say.

“I
have been experimenting with the older magics, from the time of the birth of
our race.  Lesser beings tend to explode when you apply them, but you... you
came at a good time.  I think these won't kill you,” he stated gravely while
his other massive hand came into my view and painfully poked my chest.  “But
they will expand my understanding of how they interact on ... well... you, and
help keep you out of my home.”

Looking
down to my chest where the dragon was tapping, I suddenly realized there were
new symbols etched there.  Marks emblazoned and appearing like red tainted
scars.  The two new symbols on my chest were not my work; however, looking at
them I instinctively knew what they were.  One was the symbol for ‘human’ and
the other was the symbol for ‘anchor’.

A
slow surge of panic percolated through my numb brain.  I had no idea what
language these were in, but I had an instinctive knowledge of numerous things,
many of them mystical in nature, and somehow I knew what these meant.  And
somehow, deep down I knew I was screwed.

“Yes. 
I see you understand.”  A rictus grin stretched across the thing's face as it
realized I knew what he had done.  “No more changing shapes for you.  You came
to my home as a human and now you'll stay as a human as you leave.”

He
still had one hand wrapped around my waist and his claws embedded deep in my
body.  This filled my attention as he stood up straight, and I jerked up in the
air like I was a marionette, or more aptly, a hooked fish.  It elicited a low
moan.  The motion hurt quite a bit.  Damn, guess that technique I used to
banish pain had worn off while Mr. Evil had been at work; we hadn't been
formally introduced so that was how I thought of the creature.

He
turned away from me, and my panicked eyes feverishly darted over the area we
were in.  We were in a clearing and there was no sign of the fight, nor
thankfully the remains of my friends.  That would have hurt more than this guy’s
talons in my gut.  What did catch my attention was a rather large circle
chiseled into the ground.  My handy instinctive knowledge triggered and I knew
that the circle was meant to open a dimensional portal.  Once I realized this,
I spread out my senses and realized that we were smack dab in the middle of two
ley lines crossing, a point of enhanced power and incidentally a weak point in
the fabric of reality.  I was starting to get a bad feeling for what this guy’s
plan was.

“When
I get back I am going to rip your guts out and feed them to the demons,” I
finally spit out as my jaw healed enough for me to garble out.  There were
always demons slipping through the rents and tears of our battered world. 
Might as well get some use out of the horrid things.

I
think he understood because his other hand came out in a blur and broke my jaw
again.  Did I mention I am a moron?

“You
are really exceptionally powerful for one so young.  It is unfortunate you had
to try your hand against me.” I could almost hear mirth in his voice underneath
his natural malevolence.  “You will find that I am likely to be the most
powerful dragon you'll ever know, at least until I send you to meet the dark
dragon god.”  I had kinda figured that out.  We are hugely territorial, but I
had met a few others... briefly.  Mr. Evil was in his own class.  He must have
been at least ten millennia older than anyone I knew of.

I
am not really up on the nuances of various world religions, but I would have to
be raised in a box not to understand his reference to the patron god of evil
dragons.  I think he was promising to kill me.  I suppose this was only fair
since I had just threatened something similar, if more graphic.

“By
the way, you will be staying exactly where I send you until I come to see the
results of this little test.  The second rune will ensure this.”

My
eyes went a little wide at this.  Rune magic was a very powerful lost art that
was said to be forbidden to learn.  I guess being a bad ass ancient dragon
makes you fearless in certain areas.  As Mr. Evil was gloating, he reached the
circle and began the process of activation. 

I
stared hard at the circle while he absentmindedly waved me around in the air. 
I couldn't draw this circle, or any other, but part of the hereditary knowledge
that allowed me to know what it was also told me that the specific squiggle there
was the place you put the coordinates that controlled where this thing went,
and more importantly, where you were in relationship to it.  I rallied my
wavering concentration to impress this information on my brain.  If that old
lizard was right then I wouldn't be able to use my own powers to teleport
back.  I would have to do it the hard way.

I
think that Mr. Evil got tired of me wriggling around.  Admittedly, he was about
three times stronger than me and way healthier, but I like to think I was
strong enough to distract him from the more complex magics involved in creating
a portal.  I even tried to bite his hand, but human necks turn out to be pretty
inflexible.  One moment I was upright craning my neck towards his talons and
the next I had been flipped upside down and I was seeing the ground race
towards me.

 

 

 

I
woke up covered in sweat and engulfed in almost complete darkness.  That's okay,
I see in complete darkness, but the trip hammer of my heart and the laborious
breathing was definitely not normal.  Or at least it hadn't been before an
ancient creature killed all my friends, trapped me in human form, and then
exiled me to another dimension.  I guess that's what growing up is all about.

Without
turning on the light, I looked at the barely luminescent clock and noted that I
had gotten two hours of sleep.  Not comfortable but plenty for me.  Sighing, I
trudged to the kitchen and got out a roasted ham I had bought from the store
and stuck in the cooler for later.  Precooked, it really does taste better in
human form that way.  Who knew?

Slowly
the sweat on my skin evaporated and the energetic heartbeat slackened as my
body realized it wasn’t about to die.  I was too young for this crap.  At my
age I should still be mindlessly throwing myself into stupidly dangerous
situations, not waking up in the middle of the night scared of some scaly
boogieman. 

I
walked back to the study and used a trickle of mental energy to lift one of the
books from the pitiful remaining stack of less than twenty ragged hardcovers leaning
up against the wall.  They varied in age and condition from the newly printed synthetic
nupaper to the old yellowed and barely legible acid stained paper of bygone
ages.  There was a slew of furniture options to choose from in the cozy room,
but I slouched into my favorite overstuffed faux leather chair.  My hands were
still greasy from dead pig, so as I finished off the last bit of meat and
licked the juices off my hands, I levitated the book, moving it in front of me
and read.  I flipped through the pages rapidly, my eyes scanning the page in a
second before moving to the next one.

This
massive tome was a more recent copy of a copy. After about 20 minutes, I felt a
mild throbbing as the concentration I was investing in the levitation and
memorization of the book started to wear on me.  I was tempted to just ignore
it and continue, but memories bubbled up where injudicious overuse of even
minor abilities had caused my resources to run dry at critical points. 
Grunting in slight dismay, I floated a towel from the kitchen to me and wiped
my hands clean while allowing the book to fall lifelessly into my grasp.

I
know bibliophiles that would kill me for touching a book without thoroughly
washing my hands, but I was too dispirited to worry.  The book I was reading
was what this world had to supply regarding magic.  It was written by a quack. 
A really verbose quack with diarrhea of the mouth, or quill in this case.  When
one of my kind are born we get a lot of baggage and a cornucopia of gifts.  We
inherit the general memories of our forefathers and some truly staggering
physical gifts.  That’s not to say that I remember what my father ate fifty
years ago on a Tuesday, but I get a seed of their skills.  I know how to make a
pie, add, subtract and multiply, whack people with some basic skill with a
sword and even know Ohm's Law for electric circuits. My parents must have been
true Renaissance people.  I can't say I am an expert at any of these things,
but with a little practice these seeds can grow more rapidly than you'd
expect. 

The
skill I most value from my inheritance is knowing what to do with my psychic
power.  All of my kind, and in fact all of our breeds, have it bubbling up
inside us, much like our magic.  Most don't do much more with it than toss
around balls of energy, form a sword, or move furniture around.  Basically,
flashy parlor tricks. 

Someone
in my ancestral line must have been a true pioneer because once I started to
actively develop my skills, I found entire repertoires opening up from my hard
work and meditation.  Not to boast too much, but I haven't met anyone better
and may never unless I ever actually meet my ancestors.  Moreover, I truly enjoyed
exploring the powers of the mind, delving into the sleeping potentials and
teasing them out, working with it until it blossoms into a true gift.  That’s
what psionics are to me and I love them.  This actually is more than a little
odd for one of my kind of any age, since to be honest, we relate more to
magic.  Heck, in so many ways we are magic.  I still had my instinctive
knowledge of magic and that was once more than enough.  I took to my budding
memories of my psychic potential like a duck to water and never looked back. 
Until I got exiled here.

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