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Dragon Hero: Chapter 1


Raspan stood at the bottom of a staircase seemingly made of crystalline starlight. It rose up into the sky, climbing toward the brightest star in the sky, an eight pointed star known as the Dragonstar by the elves. Stepping on to the stairs, the young elf felt a weightlessness about him that made each step easier. He ascended what seemed to be miles of stairs in mere minutes, and soon he was so high up that he could not see below him.

You’re almost there! A voice called to him as he neared the precipice of the mysterious stairs. He glanced around, seeking the source of the encouraging call. It seemed very close, almost as though it was just behind him. But nothing was nearby in the dark, starry sky. Undaunted, he continued to climb.

Once he reached to the top of the mystical steps, he faced a wide open glass floor that reflected the Dragonstar above, shining as though it was scant yards away. At the opposite end of the landing from the stairs was a narrow pillar of white light, seeming to ascend to the very heart of the star from the floor.

Somehow Raspan knew that was why he was here. He needed that light. It was very important. As he reached for it, an incredible force started to push against him, like a wind from the worst storm. He tried to step forward, but his feet began to slide back. Unable to control his momentum, he fell forward and was pushed back toward the stairs. He tried to use the steps to reorient himself but they fell away under his feet, shattering into twinkling fragments of starlight, leaving him to cling to the cold, slippery platform, suspended miles above the ground.

What’s the matter? The voice asked. You can do it!

“I can’t!” he shouted to the air. “It’s too strong!”

Well, why do you ask me for help?

Raspan looked around. “Where are you?”

I’m right here! Trust me!

The elf twisted back to the light, still trying to get up onto the platform. His grasp slipped and he fought to retain his hold. “Help me!” he cried desperately. “I need that light!”

Raspan felt something lift him up from behind, and he clawed his way back onto the platform, slowly standing up.

Don’t worry, I won’t leave you! The elf felt a pair of small hands rest on his back, though he knew there was no one behind him. We’ll do it together!

Raspan nodded, raising his arm to shield himself from the battering force. Now his steps found purchase ahead of him, and he slowly made his way toward the pillar of light. His arm seemed to deter the force, and a silver aura surrounded it. His feet slowly brought him to stand beside the solid white column, the force intensifying as he neared.

He knew he needed it. But now that it was right there, he did not know if he could take it. Its power was too much for him to control. What was he supposed to do with something like that?

That was when he saw the stone. Hovering just out of range of the platform was a massive chunk of onyx, its angry aura a deep crimson. Raspan was taken aback by the sight of it, and its anger crawled on his nerves. He wanted sorely for it to go away. He never wanted an enemy like this.

Raspan realized that it was the one trying to push him back. As it came nearer, the glassy floor began to crack, just as the stairs had. Once it was over the floor, the area under the levitating stone shattered. If it moved any closer, the floor below the light would be destroyed. Raspan could not tell what would happen if the stone’s power engulfed the light.

Why are you waiting? Stop it before it destroys everything! The voice begged him.

Raspan thrust his glowing hand into the light, feeling its energy flow into him. In mere seconds, the light flared from his hand like a sword. He swung it desperately at the floating stone.

There was a glaring flash when the light touched the evil onyx. The hateful aura faded away, taking with it the incredible force that was pushing him away, and a crack spread across the face of the stone.

For a long breath, everything became still and quiet.

“Is it gone?” he asked, expecting the voice to respond. He waited a while for it to say something when he suddenly noticed that the feeling of hands on his back had disappeared. He now felt very alone, desiring the presence behind him again.

A sharp crack brought his attention back to the onyx, the crack widening and spreading. The outside of the stone warped and flexed as though there was something inside trying to escape it. Raspan became very anxious, longing for the small hands to return and support him. But they did not return. Whatever was coming next, he would face it alone.

The onyx burst open, scattering black shards everywhere. In its place was an orb of pearly white energy, pulsing and trembling, brimming with raw power. Its presence and size were awesome to behold, and Raspan started to back away, unsure of what it meant.

A shadow began to spread over the platform, something darkening the star above. Raspan looked up and saw to his horror that there was nothing in the way; the part of the star that was touching the orb and the area around it was turning stone gray. He looked at the floor to see the glass was becoming unreflective and dull.

Raspan tried to attack it, but it was too late. The orb suddenly exploded outward, consuming all the light of the star and blackening the glass. It went further than Raspan could see, taking the light from everything. The entire world was turning to stone …

Raspan’s eyes snapped open and he shot upright in bed, suddenly awake. His breathing came in gasps and his heart pounded at his ribs. He grasped at the bed sheets, drenched in his sweat, trying to grasp what it was that he just experienced.

Premonition? He thought in the quiet. His studies were consuming him even in his sleep. He had just read through an essay on precognitive magic, and how true precognition was never achieved through arcane practices. Even the prescience of psionic power was limited. But in the essay, it mentioned that even the dreams of the most magically stunted individual could have bearing on the future more accurate than any magical prediction.

“Get a grip,” he told himself quietly, shaking his head and wiping the sweat off his forehead and chest. “It was just a bad dream.”

Sloughing off the rest of his lethargy, he took stock of his room. A thin drizzle of daylight seeped through the crack in the heavy wool curtains, and a pool of light gathered on the opposite wall and along the floor. It illuminated the many things that covered the floor as well. Books, primarily, but there were also assorted articles of clothing, various alchemical instruments, and reams of paper scored with lines to indicate a musical scale, some spotted with ink and others empty, waiting to be filled. His desk, directly across from the window, was smothered by parchments and yet more books, the large shelves flanking the cluttered desk strangely bare.

He was thankful that Renda, the castle housekeeper, had left his room alone since he began his studies. She would have throttled the prince for the way he kept his room. He knew this habit was not appropriate for one of his station, but he really was very busy, keeping up with his mother’s lessons, continuing his own research and experiments, practicing swordplay, and trying to compose a song he was happy with for more than a day. Still, he thought it was not such a problem … as long as he could find everything he was looking for.

He slid off the side of his bed, poking around the floor for garments that were fresher than the rest. Once he was suitably clothed in a thin white tunic and matching trousers, he stumbled through the collections of clutter over his floor to the window, where he threw the curtains wide open. He stood for a moment, as though drinking in the warm sunlight. There was still mist rising off the forest floor, barely reaching the crowns of the trees of Sprite Woods. It had been a cool night, but the morning was warming rapidly. He could practically smell the onset of summer, the palpable fire in the air.

It was still too early, as far as Raspan was concerned. He did not mind morning, but the night’s chill was only just starting to wane. Today was only going to be another round of training and lessons, but only if his mother had the time and was not busy helping his father with the many things that demanded the king’s attention. It was not a day that ordered an early start.

But the thought of the dream kept him from returning to bed. A shiver crawled down his spine as he recalled the final phase of that dream. No matter how he tried to shake it from him, it stayed with him. Even as sleep began to wane from him, he could not help but feel sad, like its inevitability was cast in his shadow. The more he thought on it, the more he felt like it truly was a vision of the future, a warning of some kind.

If his mother was free later, he would have to ask her about it. For now, he would seek a less educated, but more confidential opinion. Besides, if Raspan was not allowed to sleep in on a chilly morning, there was no way his brother would escape the same fate.

He left his room and stepped out onto the balcony that connected the residential towers of R’mass Castle. The courtyard sprawled out before him, looking more like a grand park than a palatial court. All over the yard he could see his people, the elves of the Sprite Wood, going about their business in front of the palace. The court of R’mass was dead center in the middle of the elves’ settlement, the largest elven settlement for miles, and probably the only permanent elven settlement in Dragon Valley. There were elves elsewhere in the valley, sure, but they were Newcomers, not born in the valley. The elves of Dragon Valley were its guardians and leaders. The R’mass family was in turn the leaders of the elves, its “royal family” so to speak.

The entire valley deferred to the R’mass family in its decisions, but Raspan’s parents had made it clear when Raspan was very young that the elves were only the guardians of Dragon Valley; the true rulers of their home were the people. The members of the Royal Family were sworn to protect and guide all the people of the valley, elf and non-elf alike, with what little power they had. They did not have great allies, a vast army, or the backing of the gods, but the people listened when the elves talked, especially Raspan’s family. Raspan felt that if there was ever some dire threat to the lands in his valley, there would be not just the elves to defend it, but every citizen, down to the last pitchfork wielding farmer and his frying pan swinging wife.

Raspan thought for a moment to go down to the courtyard for a while, to see if there was anyone who needed help. Many merchants and peddlers set up stalls on the roads that passed through the castle walls, and as long as he was not dressed recognizably, he could pass for a commoner. He enjoyed giving a hand to merchants setting up; their commerce was what helped the people of the valley thrive, and he never asked for payment, which spared the merchants their coin, increasing their profits and bringing them back day after day. The simple work was hard, but it fulfilled the young elf in a perplexing way. He knew his sword master, Colonel Shaystar, disapproved of him doing such menial tasks, but his father admitted that he would not stop him from helping anyone. That was what the R’mass family was here for, in Raspan’s eyes.

After scanning the yard, he decided there were enough workers to go around for the day; he would not be doing any favors to the people who actually needed the spare coins for the day. Instead he crossed from the eastern tower where his quarters were to the western tower, where his brother roomed. He climbed the outer stairs of the tower and knocked on the door. There was no answer, and Raspan sighed.

“Photass, it’s well past sunrise,” Raspan said, loudly enough to be heard inside.

“Liar,” came the sleepy reply from within.

“I’m coming in,” Raspan said. “We’ve got some training today, but we should get breakfast first.”

“I was thinking lunch would be better,” Photass answered.

Raspan shook his head. “I’ll bet Fynder will be less than happy with your slacking.”

“He sleeps in just as late as I do.”

“He’s the night watch.”


Raspan sighed again. “I’m coming in.”

He opened the door to a dark but Spartan room. Unlike his older brother, Photass was not subject to the excessive studying that arcane science required. He had made it quite clear early on that the younger R’mass brother had no interest in magic, or even swordplay. So where Raspan’s room was littered with things, Photass had space to spare. Aside from his bed and a small table and chair there were only his bladebow and his latest quiver of arrows. Where most elven archers made it a point to reuse ammunition whenever possible, Photass could never remember where his arrows landed. He was a great shot, but his memory could not keep up with his eyes.

Photass laid face down on the bed, his face covered despite the dark. He groaned and swiped at the light from the door, defending the last vestiges of his slumber.

“You know what others say about us, right?” Raspan said, pulling the chair out and sitting down. “We’re the only elves in the castle that sleep. I hear that some of the servants call us the Royal Dreamers.”

“That’s crap,” Photass mumbled. “I’ve only ever heard ‘em call me Lazybird.”

Raspan smiled. “Do you even dream? Or is that too much activity to expect of your mind all on its own?”

“Sure. I had the bird dream again.” Photass finally lifted his head, running a hand through his bright blond hair and grabbing his red headband. Raspan and his parents agreed that if he ever forgot to put it on the top of his head would just come off and he would really lose his mind.

“I was over the desert this time, but I had no flock,” Photass continued. “It was pretty awesome at first, but after a bit I felt like I had been abandoned, and just when I was about to land …” he snapped his fingers. “There it was again. Biggest eagle I’d ever seen. Came outta nowhere and grabbed me. Then you knocked.”

Raspan sat back in the chair, considering his brother’s words. “Do you think it means anything?”

“Um … that I spend too much time birdwatching?” Photass said meekly.

“Not exactly what I meant.”

“I dunno, you tell me, bro.”

Raspan shrugged. “Hard to say. I have been reading up on the arcane theories of precognition.” His brother stared back at him blankly. “Seeing the future with magic. Some scholars say that magical studies have not progressed enough for anyone to accurately predict the future. But some people do have the gift of foresight. The thing is they have no control over their power and the visions they do get are usually confusing.”

“Are you saying that I’m dreaming the future?” Photass asked, standing up and stretching.

“No, I think your dreams are perfectly normal. I’ve had flying dreams before.”

“Where you dreamt you were a bird?”

“Not a bird.” Raspan smiled.

“Aw, you and your crazy dragon dreams.” Photass shook his head. “Dragons, bro? Really? You don’t like cats or dogs or mice or something that wouldn’t just as quickly kill you as look at you? It has to be dragons?”

Raspan’s smile never left. “I don’t get it either. Statistically, I will probably never see a dragon. I think that’s why I want to meet one so badly.”

“No, I’ll bet it’s a science thing. You wanna study ‘em.” Photass grabbed his bladebow and shouldered it, and slung the quiver across his back.

“I’d ask some questions, sure,” Raspan admitted. “But I think they’d be far less scientific in nature. I want to really get to know them, especially if they were very old. Some dragons live for over a thousand years! Think of the wisdom a creature that old could possess! The thing’s they would have seen and done! That’s the kind of thing I’d ask a dragon.”

“If you love ‘em so much, why don’t you marry one?” Photass jeered, heading for the door. “You promised breakfast. Make good on it.”

“Sure,” Raspan said, still grinning.

The mess hall was mostly empty this time in the morning. That would change when the guard did around noon, Raspan knew, but for now only a few of the merchants and a few commoners were here. The castle mess hall was a common area for people to stop and rest after or before a long day of work, and for a few coppers they could get a warm meal. Raspan would have made the castle mess hall free for everyone, but admittedly the prices for a meal here were better than any tavern in Alden, the village southeast of the Sprite Woods. The only thing the money went to was getting supplies for the mess hall, so it worked out fine.

The brothers took an out of the way table in the corner after getting a bowl each of a sweet smelling porridge. Photass looked expectantly at his brother as he started in on the bowl.

“Did I spill some?” he asked.

“You know the deal,” Photass said flatly. “If one shares their dream, so does the other.”

“I told you already,” Raspan half lied.

“No, you mentioned that one you had a while ago,” Photass smirked.

“Why is it you always remember the right things to harass me, when you can’t even remember what you ate for breakfast yesterday?”

Photass ignored his brother’s flagrant cheap shot and frowned, his face serious. “What’s wrong, bro? You dream something bad?”

Raspan put his spoon down, and took a deep breath. “I don’t know why I’m avoiding it. It simply wasn’t a good experience.”

“Well, it won’t hurt to talk about it,” Photass said, shoveling a spoonful of porridge into his mouth.

“I suppose.” Raspan said, still reluctant. “Okay, well …” He related the dream scene for scene, from the crystal stair to the light shining from the Dragonstar, from the evil onyx stone to the force that emerged from it.

Photass sat with his face screwed up in concentration after hearing it, his spoon full of porridge suspended several inches above the bowl, never having made it to his mouth and rapidly cooling. Raspan didn’t pressure him after he was done relating the story, knowing that interrupting his thought process might ensure that he never found it again. He really did want to hear what Photass thought of his strange dream.

Finally, the younger R’mass put his spoon in his mouth, and swished it in his mouth thoughtfully before swallowing and saying, “Who was that voice supposed to be?”

Raspan shrugged. “If I had any idea I would have said something.”

“Fair enough,” Photass conceded. “This sounds like something you might talk to mother about. She’s good with this type of stuff.”

“Sure, but what do you think?” Raspan pressed.

Photass stared into his porridge for a moment. “Honestly bro? That’s some scary stuff. I mean, I habitually get eaten by giant eagles in my dreams. You? You get convinced by weird voices to slay evil stones to release world ending evils. That’s not cool. I’d be pretty scared to wake up in the morning if it was me dreaming that.”

“Do you think it means something?” Raspan asked, lowering his voice.

“You are overworked. Maybe it’s just stress.” Photass swallowed another bite of porridge. “But if it is supposed to be a dream about the future … Wow. I wish I could help you there.”

Raspan thought on his brothers words. It was clear he was going to have to consult with someone more knowledgeable. “Do you really get eaten by a giant eagle every night?”

Photass shook his head. “Sometimes it’s an owl. But in those dreams I’m a mouse. But I’d say nine times out of ten I get eaten.”

“That’s rough.”

“For the privilege of flying, I’d take it.”


This story is the property of Tyler Clapp, Author (AKA "Cael") Copyright DarkFireGraphics.com