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|Beyond Here There Be Dragons (standard:fantasy, 2169 words)|
|Author: Comshaw||Added: Sep 14 2000||Views/Reads: 2904/1499||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|An Apprentice discovers a Dragon invasion, and learns for the first time of the Dragon wars.|
Beyond Here There Be Dragons "All four legs were aching, for this apprentice had been climbing since daylight. This apprentice had determined to be amongst meadow flowers no later than high-sun the next day. The Hunt Master and this apprentice had climbed to the meadow atop that mountain last hot season. He wished to know how the hunting would be after so many seasons; By command of the Elder Council the "taboo area" scent posts had been removed three sun-cycles before. The Hunt Master said they had been placed there while he was still in the egg, for reasons that the Elders would not reveal." "The trek consumed two sun cycles, and when we stepped into the meadow, we were astonished. The game was thicker than Wen birds on a ripe patch of Marsh Berries. We saw many Three Horned Runners, a group of Scurries, several flights of Green Fowl and two Dagger Beasts in the time from high-sun till dark. That is why this apprentice had asked, and been granted, the boon of making the Proving Hunt on the mountain." "The Hunt Master and this apprentice had followed a ridge top on the pervious trip, but both carry Slap-Stick Bush scars because of that route. This apprentice had decided to try following a gully, the kind shaped like a deep 'V', running straight down the mountain side." "Both banks were covered in moss and the trees must have been 200 tails tall. The undergrowth consisted of a few patches of Pucker Brush and Devils Club plants; There is not enough sunshine through the trees to let anything else grow. The light that does make it gives everything a subdued green glow, as if it were filtered through an emerald. And the silence--after half a cycle in such a place the fall of a twig sounds as if the whole forest is falling." "As this apprentice has said, all four legs were beginning to ache. A short rest in a sun-warmed spot would remove the ache and rebuild energy to continue the climb. A runner trail came into sight; It started at the little stream in the gully and went up the bank and disappeared at the crest. This apprentice decided there might be a gap in the trees where the sun could shine through, and perhaps a fat runner for a meal." "As this apprentice followed the trail up the bank, no runner tracks were sighted. You, as Elders, know that the earth on a runner trail will stay loose from the runners' hooves cutting up the ground; This trail was such, and there were tracks, but ones not made by a runner. The animal that had made the tracks did not have the thrice split hoof of a runner; The tracks were made by a solid hooved animal." "This apprentice followed the trail over the crest of the gully; The trail continued up the mountain on an angle. There was not a sunny spot within sight, so this apprentice continued following the trail tasting for scent every little while. The tracks must have been old, for no scent was present. After several hundred strides this apprentice glimpsed sun light reflected from a sheer rock wall up the mountain. After leaving the trail, and climbing another sixty or seventy strides, this apprentice stepped out of the trees at the base of the wall." "In one direction the wall reduced in size until it disappeared back into the trees, a hundred strides away. In the other direction the wall curved and disappeared at a large stone protuberance, twenty strides distant. A flat area extended out from the wall, with a mixture of sandy patches and boulders covering it. This apprentice found a sand patch large enough, stretched out in the sun and relaxed. The sand was warm from the sun, and the ache in the legs began to ease." "This apprentice fell asleep; When his eyes opened the sun had moved down behind the trees. There was little time before darkness came. A sleep area must be. . ." "Apprentice," rumbled the youngest of the three Elders. His gold colored hide the evidence of his comparative age. "We are aware of how a sleeping area should be selected. Thou are a fool for napping so deeply on a Proving Hunt! Thou will proceed with the story, and be quick about the telling!" Click here to read the rest of this story (144 more lines)
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