Read Dragon Choir Online

Authors: Benjamin Descovich

Tags: #romance, #fantasy, #magic, #gods, #ships, #war, #dragon, #pirates, #monsters, #swords and scorcery

Dragon Choir (26 page)

BOOK: Dragon Choir
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The key to free us shall fall in your hand,

holding a
note, but no name.

Sounding the
choir to your aid,

shifting the
balance, sinking the stars.

Darkened
threads will stain the weave,

summoning the
blood monsoon.”

There, it was
out. Minni studied Elrin, tried to gauge him, measure his fit and
weigh his response. Elrin was confused at first then thoughtful. He
removed his reassuring hand and rubbed his neck, squinting his left
eye.


Amber!” he said, excited, grabbing her shoulder again.
Realising his outburst, he quietened his voice. “Amber is the Key.
It has to be her, she had no name, she weaved that magic with her
voice and those notes she was holding made such potent elemental
magic. Her power would rival sorcerers in the Order of
Calim.”

Minni just
listened, smiling with him, loving his exuberance.


You said, ‘sounding the choir,’ it has to be her. Perhaps she
sings and the Dragon Choir is activated. What is the Dragon Choir
anyway?”


We aren’t sure; some kind of device to summon
dragons.”

Elrin’s hope
dropped, touched by doubt. “I suppose we shall soon find out. Once
she has it, do you think she would let me use it to help my
father?”


She doesn’t know about this. Elrin, you mustn’t say anything
yet.”


Why ever not? She might already know about the Dragon Choir.
Have you asked her?”


I did. She has overheard Uighara speak about it more than
once. He must seek it too.”


How did he know Amber was the key?”


He is a powerful redeemer, close to the High Priest of Jando.
Those dogs have their ways.”


At least she’s safe with us now, out of the hands of that
cruel monster. It explains why Uighara was so upset when Kobb
refused to give her back.”

Minni agreed,
Amber must be the Key; everything Elrin said made perfect sense. So
why did she still think it was him? Why didn’t he even have an
inkling that he might be the Key? She had secretly hoped that the
prophecy would have sparked something for him, something to light a
beacon of truth to make the path clear, but telling him made no
difference. She still had two keys and couldn’t decide which one
fit. Some ‘Lock’ she turned out to be.

Minni pressed
on, looking for a sign. “What about the rest of the prophecy? What
do you make of that?”


Your mysterious prophet must like teasing you with riddles. I
didn’t understand much, though it didn’t sound pleasant at the end.
A blood monsoon, that can’t be good. And what about the stars
sinking, do you think that means the Jandan armada?”


That is what we hoped,” said Minni, desperate for Elrin to
find himself in the prophecy. “You were told to seek the aid of the
choir, weren’t you?”


That’s what Herder Kleith said. Though, I didn’t have time to
ask why or how before the guards came for me and I had to
run.”


How did he know about the Dragon Choir or to go looking on
the Hoard Islands?”


How did you know?” Elrin shot back.


We were told in the Prophecy of the Fist.”


Another prophecy, how many are there?”


Many.”


Fine,” said Elrin, holding his hands up in surrender. “I get
the hint. I don’t need to know.”


No, you don’t,” Minni chided gently. “Not now.”


So there’s hope for me, then?” Elrin’s mischievous grin was a
gem in the night.


Maybe,” Minni returned the smile, expecting Elrin’s lips to
take her own.

Elrin just
held her eyes for a moment longer, his smile warmed her heart, but
his lips never approached. He adjusted his position against the
barrel, shuffling a touch nearer.

They sat
together quietly. Elrin chuckled then looked around to make sure no
one was near.


What are you doing?” she asked. He’d kiss her now. How could
he not?

He brought his
face closer to hers and whispered. “I’d bet my pants you both
planned for Kobb to capture us and take us to his hideout. You did,
didn’t you!”


Careful what you bet, Elrin.”


No, you don’t fool me. Why else would Delik say that
Bone Dancer
was my
passage? He knew. You knew.”

She leaned her
face close to his, caught in his know-it-all grin. “Keep your pants
then, and keep that smart mouth shut too. If Kobb finds out we’ll
be overboard before you figure what you’ve missed.”


What did I miss?” whispered Elrin, his grin
fading.


Wouldn’t you like to know!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN

Rally the Faithful

 

Pelegrin was compressed to dust, then stretched to the stars.
A heartbeat felt a day, and then in a blink he was himself again.
Every organ rebelled against the contortion. His mind spun and he
collapsed to the floor in the grip of nausea. With a heave his
stomach emptied upon polished black tiles.

Uighara was on
his knees, panting. Even with bloodshot eyes and blood dripping
from his nose, the strain of the blessing was not enough to weaken
the Priest’s severe manner. “You’ll be cleaning that up.”

At that
thought, Pelegrin wretched again, his vision blurring with
tears.

Leaving the
circle, Uighara opened a drawer and tossed Pelegrin a rag. “Quick
now, before it spreads to that sigil! Disturb an active net and
you’ll know about it.”

He did as he
was told, mopping up the mess with care not to rub out any of the
red luminescent powder.

They had been
delivered onto another temple stone, surrounded by neatly cut black
tiles, which formed the four points of the black star. It reminded
him of the mosaic in the high temple, though this was much smaller.
At each point of the star was a bowl with a green flame burning
above a thick red substance.

What was wrong
with his head? He was thinking through a fog. He took care as he
rose to his feet, fighting to control his senses. The air was damp,
smothered in a pungent mix of urine, burnt hair and manure.


Where are we?”

The redeemer
snorted, but didn’t answer. He busied himself, writing something
upon a table in the corner. Pelegrin stepped out of the glowing
circle, tossing the soiled rag beside a large wooden crate. The
crate shook and a rooster crowed from inside. Startled, Pelegrin
took a quick step backwards, bumping into a cabinet and rattling
the jars and bottles on its shelves. Beside him came the short wail
of a baby. He reeled in shock, not knowing how he could have
trusted Uighara. A child in a place like this? It was abhorrent to
think of such a thing. Pelegrin pulled back a dark cloth covering
the large cage.

Inside was a
monstrous rat covered in feathers. It pressed its fanged snout
through the bars, licking and mewling like a babe. Pelegrin covered
the drape over the cage again.


What demons do you keep?”

Uighara’s face
screwed up at the distraction from his writing. “Would a demon keep
in a cage like that? Leave the colo colo be! Unless you want to
feed it?”


What does it eat? Human flesh?”


Spittle!” The priest close to spat the word himself, his
annoyance growing. “It’s a colo colo, imbecile. If you want to feed
your flesh to something, open up the cockatrice crate and stuff
your nose in there!”

The small room
crowded in around Pelegrin. He had to get some air. The only
shutters were above Uighara’s writing desk. There was no door.
Pelegrin strode over to the desk. He pulled on the shutters, but
they were nailed closed.


Do you mind?” Uighara shoved him away. “You’ll ruin the
script.”


How do we get out of here?”


Oh, calm yourself, for mercy’s sake.”


What are you doing?”


Nothing at the moment, you keep interrupting.”

Pelegrin
retreated, confused by his memories. How did they get here?
Wherever here was, he didn’t like it. He found a stool by the wall
and sat, trying to navigate the fog of his memory. He remembered
being set free and Uighara healing his arms. He remembered the
strength he had, rowing so fast, the sea shining silver and then
the dead bodies of his men on the docks. They went to the temple
and Uighara delivered a sermon. He remembered that much, Uighara
was amazing, the Lord shone upon him. Something went wrong though,
what was it?


There,” said Uighara, sprinkling sand over the paper. “All
done. Patience pays its own rewards.”

Pelegrin shook
his head full of cotton and rubbed his brow.


What happened? We were in Rum Hill a moment ago, a day ago,
how long? Why can’t I remember?”


The Lord’s power is difficult to fathom without his gift.
Don’t worry yourself, you are home, Commodore. We are in
Jando.”


That’s ... that’s impossible.”


I agree and yet we are here. The Lord’s blessings are many.
Come now, we mus—”


The blessing! You were to give me a blessing.”


And I did,” said Uighara, twisting his mouth around a smile.
He walked toward Pelegrin and took his hands. “You will convince
your father to rally the armada.”

Pelegrin’s
head cleared. “Yes, I will convince him,” he said, confident in his
task.


You have proof the rebel leaders and the pirates are hiding
out on the Hoard Islands. He will be grateful. You will be
rewarded.”

It was true.
“I have the proof. I will be rewarded.”

Uighara let go
of Pelegrin’s hands and walked over to an empty bookcase against
the wall.

Pelegrin
straightened his shoulders; everything made perfect sense. The Lord
was great and mighty. The Lord was with him, guiding his hand. He
was blessed with righteous power and would see the Lord’s will
accomplished, or die trying.

The redeemer
leant his shoulder against the bookcase and it slid to the side.
Behind was a door with strange symbols scratched into the timber.
He incanted a coarse unintelligible phrase, tracing over four of
the symbols. They glowed after his touch and with a soft click the
door opened into a dim corridor.

They strode
through a mess of silent halls and small connecting chambers,
passing furniture draped in linen and caked with years of dust.
Webs hung in the corners, the spiders absent, given up on catching
anything. Uighara opened a door into a stairwell where reverent
choral voices drifted down with the specs of dust, filtered and
faint like the moonlight from a skylight high above.

The singing
invigorated his spirit. Pelegrin sung along with the hymn in his
head as he climbed the stairs. The Seas of Faith. It was the very
song that had played for his graduation from the academy. Every
step up brought him closer to crowning that small glory. This would
please his father and be an end to the Scrambletoes. An end to them
would end the rebellion and the glory of Jando would bring peace to
the chosen land. The grubs and wanderers, the scalers and frogs,
every corrupted soul would yield, or serve under the yoke.

Uighara took
him through a door and into a back room behind the choir, just as
the hymn came to a close. An acolyte was peeping through some
curtains, a lookout for two others who were taking swigs from a
carafe of wine as red as their robes. They lost all colour in their
cheeks when confronted by Uighara. The boy with the carafe returned
it to the table and dropped to his knees. The other two followed
his lead.


Forgive us! Don’t tell Brother Brennan.”

Uighara
snorted. “I need not forgive anything here, seek it from the Lord,
or Brother Brennan if you prefer. I need one of you to take this
message to the Lord’s High Admiral.”

The boys were
shocked; none made a move to take the message. Each waited for the
other to do something. Pelegrin remembered being caught in a
similar situation. He also remembered the thrashing Brennan gave
him.


You there,” Pelegrin selected the lookout, he’d less likely
smell like wine. “Come on then, take it, quick and quiet. You know
what he looks like?”

The boy
nodded, he took the note from Uighara and left through the drapery.
The Lord’s High Admiral had never missed the evening service in his
life. Pelegrin knew he would be seated in the front row with
perfect posture, his fresh pressed blue uniform, adorned with
medals of iron and bronze, his rigid attention on the sermon.

Uighara guided
Pelegrin out of the choir’s recess past several guards into the
High Priest’s receiving room where they found Brother Brennan
tasting the wine from a small table of refreshments.

He swallowed
the wine with an awkward smile. “Brother Uighara! Does the High
Priest know you have returned? I have not had notice on his
appointment list.”


Be at ease Brother, no notice was given.”


Would you like to make an appointment then, I’ll get the book
and see if he can fit you in. He is so very busy, as you
know.”

Brennan
removed himself from the room. Pelegrin chuckled as he made himself
comfortable on a red velvet seat by the wall. He picked several
grapes from a fruit bowl and enjoyed the juicy crunch, cleansing
the aftertaste of bile from his palate. Uighara did not sit. He was
motionless save his whispering lips, his hands held together,
praying for an appointment or praying Brother Brennan didn’t
return. Perhaps, praying that the Lord’s High Admiral would rally
the armada to end the rebels once and for all.

BOOK: Dragon Choir
10.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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