The Dragon Prince Coming soon: Here is a sneak peek.
Lightning forked in two different directions across thick, black, roiling clouds that hung low over the mountain tops. Thunder rumbled deep, shaking the ground with its force. A gray light of predawn ran along the horizon where the valley floor met the sky, yet the storm ragging in the cliffs was turbulent and unruly like the man traveling below.
The powers that be, are at work this morn, Robert the Dark thought as he prowled along an old, worn pass into the Dun Lepuron Mountains. These mountains were in an area in northern Britain that most shunned for fear of harpy and dragon but to him it was home. The strong wind whipped at his hood and cloak as he forged ahead. The power of nature converged with the power within him. The two forces clashing and melting together and he raised his face to the elements. He'd been a prisoner from the daylight far too long. The dark arts had molded the boy into a man that dealt in pain and death. He had a darkness he kept hidden and a power few had seen. It moved in him seeking to take over his body, invading every organ, and every thought. There was a constant battle raging internally. The power he held burned behind his eyes giving them an unnatural glow.
Robert hissed out his breath through his teeth as he forced the darkness back into its hole, deep within his soul. Many had died at his hand. He had become lethal and cunning to survive. He had earned the name Master Sorcerer, Robert the Dark, but now he must throw off his chains and roam unfettered, for the ancient ones called him back to meet his past.
The shadows of night cloaked him. Darkness was his domain. He was in his prime, powerful in body and stronger in magic with the success of every test the wizards had thrown at him. He had the brands on his body to prove it. Yet now, he felt weighted down with what he must do.
The steady tap of his rowan tree staff marked each step in time, returning him to face his demons. The tale of his birth had destroyed a young boy's dream and made him endure the flames of damnation licking his dark soul. He bared his teeth in a snarl, fighting the urge to throw back his head and unleash a savage growl at the Fates.
No longer did he hear tender endearments or feel the soft caress of a woman's hand. They were naught but a bittersweet dream better left in the past. Now, he only inspired people to cower in their houses or tremble in fear of his wrath. The gold symbols falling over each shoulder of his black cloak declared his rank of power and the forces he could wield.
Would he never have more? Would love never ease his loneliness? Even with the forces he controlled, he was still a flesh and blood man. But no one saw the man, they only saw the power.
The rising wind whipped the folds of his black cloak about his sides like dragon wings. The lightning strikes, forked across the sky like eerie fingers. The trees, dark guardians, stood over mist-covered lochs and hills, in a place hidden from the outside world.
On one rock-strewn cliff sat a ring of stones, giants frozen in time, watching over this sacred place. It was there he would seek answers. With long strides, he climbed the rocky hill to reach the outer circle. The storms fury picked up swirls of dirt and small pebbles tossing them about with each gust. The forces of nature were turbulent and chaotic.
Robert brought forth a vial from his pack and poured the spicy ointment on his fingers to smear a cross on the stone’s face, then circled it, unlocking the inner realm.
"Mother earth and guardians, accept your humble servant, and let me pass within." He bowed with a slow nod. His deep voice rolled out strong from under the hooded cloak as he stepped within the stone circle. An unnatural calm of suspended time pervaded the inner ring as if he had passed from one time to another. Here the green grass grew thick and soft under foot.
Robert walked to the center and knelt on one knee. Planting his staff firmly in the earth before him, he held it with both hands and bowed his head.
"I invoke you, Mother Goddess, here among the woods, groves, and hills of Britain, where time stands still. See your servant in this consecrated place, and send me knowledge and clarity so my feet are set along the right path."
In answer to his request, a strong wind blew up, buffeting him in gusts, pure and cool unlike the storm raging outside this realm. It brought clouds of mist to seal him in a white tomb. The large red crystal, sat on the tip of his staff, glowed bright until it burst into a blinding fire. His cloak slapped and snapped behind him in the growing wind, yet he held fast to his place. The mists turned red and parted to reveal a nightmare. He inhaled sharply as screams of the dying pierced his brain and the clang of many swords echoed along the moors.
Hulking brutes draped in animal skins invaded their realm, slaughtering the innocent, their beards and arms covered in blood. The acrid smell of smoke from the burning villages stung his nostrils and burned his eyes. Severed heads, of those who stood and fought, adorned stakes along the roads. Death rose its emaciated head to devour every living being. No mercy did it show, be they man, woman, or child. All at once, lightning sliced across the blood red skies, a deafening roar thundered through the heavens, the earth trembled, and large winged creatures cast shadows over the land, driving death into the sea.
A deep disembodied voice spoke to his mind, "The Dragons must return. The prince, born of death and bathed in blood and pain, must drink from the vial of dragon's blood and be reborn. Only through death and rebirth will the power be granted, and salvation from his enemies, be assured." The mist closed around him, and darkness fell so thick, he found it hard to breathe. He fought against its strangling hold.
Robert collapsed upon the grass. Through the vision’s darkness, he struggled to reach the light. He could feel the beast's breath along the back of his neck, but the damp coolness of the grass on his cheek and smells of heather held his mind earthbound.
Forcing his eyes open, he greeted the sun with a groan. The familiar weakness after a vision invaded body, causing his muscles to quiver slightly. He sat up, propping himself on one arm while hanging the other arm over one raised knee. The limitation would pass quickly if he rested.
The future prediction was always the same. He must take the final test. Robert raised a hand to the crystal pendent hanging about his throat and twisted it between finger and thumb. As the sunlight touched the dragon's eye on the crystal, a rainbow of colors sparkled outward.
By drinking the dragon's blood, he might die. All knew how deadly it could be.