Authors: Michael Sperry
By Michael D. Sperry Sr.
Deep in early morning light of Dragon Wood, with the first golden rays of dawn beaming through the early morning mist, fourteen huge Redwood trees rose from the verdant forest floor surrounding a mythical place known as the Dawn Glade. These were the largest of the ageless heart trees standing long before man, elf or dwarf walked upon the land. Here and for miles in all directions, giant trees were testament to an age long past when only Angels of Light and Dragons roamed, before the fall. The count of fourteen is twice seven, considered to be a lucky number. Only here in Dragon Wood and in the Elf Woods many miles to the West could these virgin forest trees also be found. In this area of the deep wood, fairies stand guard. For ages they have wielded powerful magic, hiding the Dawn Glade from all others. Wildflowers and short grasses covered the glade, except for a polished, white marble platform in the center, standing on a square white pedestal with white dragon bone legs fitted into each corner of the pedestal. The legs had been carved into the shape of front dragon legs with dragon claws set into the footings. The platform’s polished white surface was veined with red, and shone as if lit from within by a slowly pulsing power. Humans had never ventured here before now. Dwarves and Elves came here rarely so that none living now remembered. Only a few humming birds, bees and other insects dared enter. Wisps floated in the misty air, muting the bright sunlight into visible streamers. Huge mountains rose high above, looking down on this glade from the
northeast. These mountains formed the Dragon Mount range, home of large Dwarf colonies, and
male Dragons among the peaks on high. Men rarely entered the mountains, and only to mine for precious metals and gems on the southern slopes of the northern range, which the Dwarves do not claim, past the great abyss and the Pit of Darkness.
The greatest and oldest of all human wizards had received a message from Michael, the Hand, highest and most powerful archangel. That message had led him here, after gathering those to be captains of the Maker’s preparation, along with a number of strange infants born to the nobles of the three races.
As the sparkling eyes of Fairies watched from the dark woods, two archangels, Sarathiel and Aniel were first to arrive, appearing with wide spread wings from opposite sides of the glade. They were handsome and muscular, especially where their wings attached. They were white as snow, each with a baby in its arms. They shimmered with light and then blurred into Elf seeming. Aniel held a girl child and Sarathiel a boy. The infants had been named Briana and Owen. They were kept well apart, though the infants reached toward one another, fully aware of each other’s presence. They appeared to be twin infants, and looked like elves, with pointed ears and slanted eyes, although their eyes were not Elven, being large and golden, with a second set of transparent eyelids and diamond shaped pupils. Few mortals ever had been close enough to a dragon to examine their eyes, but if they had would know that these two infants had the eyes of a dragon.
Six female angels appeared overhead and flew down into the glade, all carrying young babes, three female and three male. They changed into Elves as they touched the ground. The angels with a male child moved next to Sarathiel, and the angels with a girl child moved next to Aniel. Some infants were Elf, some Human and some Dwarf. The infants were all quiet and content. And their eyes were those of a Dragon.
The sound of horses and armor in the woods came to the angel’s acute hearing. Eventually, a train of riders entered the glade, led by the ageless old wizard Baird on a white stallion. Beside him rode Salece, the sorceress. Both carried staffs that glowed with power, parting the Fairy illusions and allowing entry into the Dawn Glade. Noticed only by the Angels, a Raven flew through this Gap, to land in the trees above. The Magi paid no attention to it. Behind the two eldest mages there came four other human magi: Melinda, Tarlie, Tolsen and Albrite. All were powerful magicians or sorcerers, once human but now immortal by a highly dangerous magic spell that kills far more often than not. These six comprised mankind's speakers on the High Counsel of Magi. Their horses were actually familiars, created by magic to be companions, protectors and beasts of burden. The familiars could take other forms, depending upon the wizard’s power.
Behind the mages came three groups of riders, most unlikely companions except perhaps in war. The signs portended a darkness coming. There rode twelve armored knights guarding humankind’s King and Queen of Kanley in the South, twelve more to guard humankind’s King and Queen of Sangley in the North. Queen Mary of Kanley held a boy infant, as did Queen Gennette of Sangley. Their husbands, the Kings Kirklan of Kanley and Paul of Sangley, rode by their side.
Kirklan controlled his anger with a strong will. The Queen had named her child Justin. The child was not his, so she had recently revealed. Only the Queen and the great wizard stood between him and his sword on that day. He owed Baird much, so he took this counsel because the wizard had said this was the Maker’s will. He loved Mary with all his heart, and was hurt deeply. And as King, he could not permit another’s blood to challenge his son Bruce, could he? Only Baird’s certainty and Mary’s tears restrained him. An Angel had seduced her, Mary had said. Well, the child did have those freakish eyes. Only now as he entered this glade was his doubt quelled. There was great power here, roiling in the air above what looked like a glowing altar. He could see the angels behind their disguise for a second, as they allowed him to. “
Archangels in our realm
”, he thought in surprise. “
What great calamity could bring them here
The wards in this place must be powerful beyond kin.
King Paul on the other hand was not upset in the least. He was elated. He was older now, and to have an heir gave his heart joy. He had feared his wife was barren, after trying so long. Queen Gennette had agreed to “try other means” if no heir came soon. An angel had apparently solved this problem for them, requesting only a small boon in this extra infant. Gennette was already pregnant again with what he knew from his magi was his child, a reward he was convinced. The Magi Tarlie told him it was a boy child, healthy in the womb. He would pay any price the Maker could ask, for this boon. Tarlie had also told him what the eyes meant. “
It will actually be exciting to raise a Dragon Lord and a Prince, together. The Dragon Lord could wish to protect his brother
”, he was thinking. He had already started making plans for their upbringing to ensure this. His kingdom would be safe for a long time if it only could survive what he feared was coming soon. “
The best chance would be to have a sympathetic Dragon Lord!
” he thought.
Behind the humans came Elven warriors, the Elder Onadath and other Elf magi on their Fenri mounts: to guard the Elf King Ovine, his wife Ensle and his sister Glendel. Ensle and Glendel each carried a female Elf infant. King Ovine was pragmatic after two thousand years. He had other children and elves were very long lived. To have his wife and sister seduced by angels was somewhat unusual though. Their long life together bred a few transgressions. It was condoned and even expected in the Elf society. What concerned him greatly though was why this was necessary. He had gazed into an old Dragon’s eyes once, so he knew them without doubt. “
Offspring of these unions will be so powerful in time that they could become a truly dangerous force
.” He was thinking. “
Why would the Maker allow this, unless war was coming? Only a great and disastrous war indeed could warrant return of the Dragon Lords, and there had never been lords such as these - with dragon blood. And where there were Dragon Lords, there must be a Dragon King strong enough to control them, also another with a strong and pure heart to influence their King; but if there were not
?” The great Ovine shuddered at that thought, looking more closely with his elven sight at the apparently twin infants in the Archangels arms.
Behind the Elves came dwarves, on their longhaired ponies, carrying axes, bows and staffs of power to protect King Brant, his Queen Dafney and her sister Wegan. Dafney held a male and Wegan a female dwarven infant. Dwarves live almost as long as Elves, and Brant had many other children. To have his queen and her sister knocked up by Angels amused him. His amusement vanished however, upon entering the clearing. He too could see the Angels through their glamour for a second, and the infants with dragon eyes. To have archangels present indicated a very serious matter at hand, for he knew they were forbidden, except in a place such as this perhaps. His normal joviality paled to think upon why they had taken such a risk. Like Ovine, he became worried. One of his deep tunnel scouting parties had gone missing last week. Rumors of Goblin and Ghoul droppings were the reason he had sent them down there. “
If so, they had grown bold and crossed the boundary, and now this.
Looking skyward, they could see a swarm of dragons circling, watching and guarding as they passed beneath the full moon above. A host of Fairies gathered in the smaller trees just back from the Glade, their glittering eyes like fireflies in the darkness.
Baird dismounted and approached the platform. “Please do not speak as long as we are in the Glade. Place the infants in a ring upon the stone. Alternate male and female. Do not be concerned. They will not fall, I promise you.” This instruction was for the Humans, Elves and Dwarves. The Angels needed no instruction. They placed Owen on one end and Briana on the other.
Soon the fourteen strange infants were sitting on the stone in their swaddling, and everyone backed away from it. The races were mixed on the platform, yet remained apart on the grass.
A swirling light played upon the infants in a hypnotic pattern, making their large golden eyes glitter. The infants reached out and grabbed each other’s hands like puppets. As soon as they did, the swirling lights intensified, growing almost painfully bright. In their center a figure formed, of a large and handsome Archangel with white wings laced by red, just like in the marble platform.
I am Michael”,
he placed his thoughts directly into their minds
. “This meeting was necessary because Darkness will rise here on Cotera, and the angels cannot intervene directly. Even by coming here now we have stretched the fabric of existence. To do more would open the gates of Hell upon your world, so we give you our blood instead. We do this not lightly, for you see here upon this alter gifts so precious that Heaven itself will suffer from their loss. The Maker’s love for this world and its peoples knows no bounds. Take these children to succor and protect them with your very lives. They will be your salvation. Fear not the dragons, for in their blood is our own. Beware Belaros, the son of Darkness, who spurns all law. He will escape Hell and endeavor to enslave all races of Cotera. His blood will flow within his darkened slaves. Prepare yourselves. Baird, take Owen, and Salece take Briana. Guard them and teach them all you know. Keep them apart until puberty, at all cost. You will understand why in time. Proceed as though darkness knows and will hunt these children. You will know when to act. Never forget that we love you all”.
With that, the image faded. Michael, the Hand had pointed to Owen and Briana, and had placed his thoughts into the minds of those he had addressed. No words had been spoken for watchers to hear. They had all felt the deep concern and the tough love he had conveyed. The children were quickly retrieved and dispersed among the Champions. Owen and Briana were kept separate. No one spoke. The Angels vaulted into the sky and vanished, leaving the infants they had brought. Before long, the clearing was empty and the Fairy glamour restored. The Dawn Glade removed all traces of those who had entered there, as if they never had. There had been another watcher though, beside the fairies and the dragons; the raven black as soot and with blood red eyes flew low in the trees, but not too low. He had eluded the Fairies below and the Dragons above, leaving the same way he entered. He had not heard the thoughts of the great one, or heard a single name, yet this bizarre meeting with the spirit of a great one in such a protected place was worth relating to his master.