Read Draykon Online

Authors: Charlotte E. English

Tags: #sorcery, #sci fi, #high fantasy, #fantasy mystery, #fantasy adventure books

Draykon

Draykon

(Book One of the
Draykon Series)

2nd
Edition

by

Charlotte E.
English

 

Smashwords
Edition

 

Copyright 2011 by
Charlotte E. English

Cover art
copyright 2011 by Elsa Kroese

 

All rights
reserved.

 

 

This ebook is
licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be
re-sold.

 

 

***

 

Prologue

 

On one cool
afternoon when the rain fell in gentle, glittering droplets and the
ground underfoot was spongy with moisture, nine-year-old Llandry
Sanfaer walked with her mother beneath the trees far to the south
of the Glinnery forests. They were gathering mushrooms, diminutive
little fungi with stems fat with juice and caps painted with
colour. Llandry crowed with delight each time she found a new
mushroom ring, picking the fattest or the most colourful specimens
with nimble fingers. Their baskets were growing heavy with gathered
produce when Ynara began to speak of returning home.

'Not yet, Mamma,
just a little bit longer!' Llandry loved these excursions, loved
the hours they spent in close companionship, just her and Mamma.
She gazed up into her mother's face with her most hopeful smile,
and of course Mamma relented.

'All right,
little love, but don't pick too many more mushrooms, or we'll never
be able to carry them home.' Llandry promised and was off once
more, her small form a whirlwind of activity.

Then a faint
melody reached her ears and she came to an abrupt stop, her keen
eyes searching the mossy slopes for the source.

'Ma, what's that
sound?'

'What sound,
love?' Llandry looked up to find nothing but incomprehension in
Mamma's face. She frowned and dismissed the thought, dancing onward
once more.

There; again, a
hint of music. Not a sound at all, in fact, more of a feeling of
spiralling harmony, drawing her onward through the vast, pale
trunks dotted like serene guardians over the meadow. In the shade
of a particularly broad-capped glissenwol tree was a glade
encircled by tall, variegated fungi. The mosses that carpeted the
circle of ground were not of the customary colour. Instead of the
deep blue that matched the eventide sky, these were lavender
touched with green. Golden sunlight drenched the clearing, bright
and glittering in spite of the glissenwol cap that rose above. And
the drifting motes of light that filled the air of Glinnery were
thickly clustered here, twinkling far more brightly than their
paler cousins, sparking with energy and laced with colour. Llandry
stood, mesmerised by this scene. She was distantly aware of her
mother's voice calling her name, but she was unable to
answer.

The thin sound of
an animal in distress reached her sensitive ears. Something moved
in the centre of the glittering circle: she saw a flash of grey,
heard the faint wail of unhappiness repeated.

Mamma had caught
up with her. Llandry was aware of her footsteps approaching, then
halting a short distance behind her. She could imagine her mother's
reaction to this place; she must be filled with wonder and delight,
just as Llandry had been. She was surprised, then, to hear a note
of horror creep into Ynara's voice as she called.

'Llandry!
Llandry, stop there. Don't move, love.' The footsteps approached,
and Mamma's arms closed around her. To her dismay and confusion,
she was lifted and carried backwards.

'No! Mamma,
there's an animal, don't you hear it? It's hurt.' The movements of
the mysterious creature had ceased, but now Llandry saw it again: a
small body, long and thin, with sleek, pale grey fur. She struggled
out of her mother's arms and ran forward.

When she stepped
into the circle, she felt the golden light bathing her skin as if
it was a physical thing, like water. The effect was beautiful,
soothing and warm, but not wholly pleasant, for a feeling of
tension hung heavy in the air and Llandry's skin prickled with
unease. For a moment she forgot about the sleek-furred creature,
but another squeak of distress drew her eyes downward into the
centre of the strange lavender-hued moss.

The animal stood
on short, shaking legs, its pointed face lifted to the winds as it
keened in despair. It was so small, so obviously feeble, that
Llandry quickly realised it must be a baby. A baby without its
mother. She picked it up, carefully cradling it against her
chest.

She turned to
show it to Mamma, but Mamma was gone, hidden behind a curtain of
light that had fallen between her and the familiar glissenwol
forests of home. It was like a wall of rain, cold and shimmering
pale; she could see nothing beyond it.

'Mamma?' Fear
stole her voice and the word emerged as a whisper. She screamed her
mother's name and heard an answering call, thin and distant as if
Ynara stood on a hilltop far away.

Llandry ran
towards the curtain and tried to pass, but it was like walking
through treacle; a strong pressure beat upon her limbs and her
face, threatening to smother her. She fell back,
sobbing.

Then the curtain
rippled and pulsed, as if struggling against something. Ynara broke
through the wall, her face pale and her eyes sparking with anger
and fear. She picked Llandry up and marched back through. The
sensation of suffocation was the same as before, and it grew worse
as Ynara bore forward with Llandry in her arms. The pressure
intensified until Llandry thought she must explode like rotten
fruit. Then they were through the curtain. All of the strange
sensations, good and bad, faded and Llandry was herself
again.

Ynara did not
stop. She marched onward without looking back. Llandry could feel
her mother's body shaking; her arms were trembling so badly that
Llandry feared she would drop her. She pressed her face against her
mother's and kissed her cheek.

'Ma,' she
whispered. 'I'm sorry.'

'You're safe.
That's all that matters.'

'What was that
place?'

'The Upper
Realm.'

'What's
that?'

Ynara sighed and
stopped at last, easing Llandry down to the floor. She frowned in
puzzlement at the little soft-furred body Llandry still held in her
arms, quiet now and questing through Llandry's clothing for
food.

'It's called the
Dreamlands, sometimes, because it's like a dream, isn't it? It's
another place, far from here, beyond the Seven Realms that make up
our world. Sometimes a gate is opened and you can pass through.
What we saw was a gate. The Upper Realm is beautiful beyond belief,
love, but you must remember that it is dangerous.'

Llandry
remembered the feelings she'd experienced as she stood in that
glittering glade; the way the light had caressed her skin and the
dancing motes clustered around her as if she was a friend. 'How can
it be dangerous, Mamma?'

'There are
dangers everywhere, love, and the Upper Realm is no different. But
beyond that, there is something else. It is too beautiful a place,
perhaps, too enticing; people go there, from time to time, but they
very rarely return. Now, promise me you will not do such a thing
again. Promise me, Llandry.' Mamma dropped to her knees to bring
her face level with Llandry's. Her eyes were serious, and Llandry
sensed renewed fear in the way her mother clasped her
close.

'I promise,
Ma.'

'Good. Now, who
is your new friend?'

The creature had
begun to shiver. Llandry showed it to her Mamma, who smiled in
spite of herself.

'Gracious. It's
an orting, love. It must have come through the gate.' She stroked
the orting's round black nose and it shivered anew, this time with
apparent delight.

'May I keep
it?'

'We'll see. Now,
are you ready to fly?'

Llandry unfurled
her growing wings and flexed them. At nine, she was big enough and
strong enough to fly for a few miles at a time. She smiled at her
mother and nodded.

'Time to go home,
then; Papa will be worried about us by now.' Mamma was wearing a
coloured sash around her waist, as she often did; she removed it,
and wrapped it around Llandry's torso, fashioning a sling. She
smiled fondly at Llandry.

'I used to carry
you this way, when you were small.' She took the orting from
Llandry's arms and placed it gently inside the sling, securing it
with deft movements.

'Now you may
carry him home. He won't fall.'

 

***

 

Papa was not at
home when they arrived, but his measured step was soon heard
climbing the stair that wound around the trunk of the lofty Sanfaer
home. He patted Llandry's hair as he passed, and she shot up in
excitement and ran after him.

'Papa, you must
come and meet Sigwide!'

'Oh? School
friend?'

Her face darkened
at the word 'school'. 'No, Pa. He's my new pet. Look!'

The orting had
been lovingly installed in his own box, padded with the best
blankets from Llandry's bed. He had gone to sleep with his head
under the thickest of them, his stubby tail twitching as he
dreamed. Aysun Sanfaer tilted his head curiously, trying to get a
look at the creature.

'Sigwide is what
you've called it?'

'Yes. I chose it
myself.'

'What is
it?'

'Ma said it's an
orting.'

He said nothing
at all in response. Llandry looked up, puzzled. His face was set
and his eyes glittered with some fierce emotion that looked like
anger. Ynara came back into the room at that moment and went
straight to her husband.

'Aysun, it's not
as bad as-'

'It's an
orting
?'

'Yes-'

'Summoned?'

'No.
Wild.'

Mamma drew her
husband away and lowered her voice, and the conversation passed
beyond Llandry's hearing. She sensed her father's anger, feeling
his eyes on her as her mother spoke. She sat down next to Sigwide's
box, confused and a little afraid. Her parents' voices grew louder,
and she overheard snippets of conversation.

'...as stubborn
as your father.' That was Mamma.

'...nothing like
my father!' Papa sounded quite upset, and Llandry began to feel
sick.

'The similarity
is obvious. You take an idea, no matter how irrational, and refuse
to be moved.'

'Because my
father couldn't accept you, you persist in assuming-'

'This isn't about
me! This creature is harmless and it will be good for Llan to have
a companion. Why can't you see that?'

'If she wants a
companion we will get her a pet. Something safer.'

Mamma snorted at
that and walked away a few steps. When she turned back to Pa, she
spoke too quietly for Llandry to hear any more. Llandry could only
sit near Sigwide's box, crouched and miserable, and
wait.

At length her
parents' conversation was over. Papa approached and knelt down
before her with a sigh.

'Llandry. Your
mother's already received a promise from you, but I need you to
promise me as well. If you ever see anything like that again, you
must keep away from it. Understand?'

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