The Battle for the Four Realms: Dragon Bone
By Aldrea Johnson
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult/Fiction
Siblings Aliedori and Maldar, heirs to the throne of the Southern Realm are attacked by an unseen assailant while camping in The Sacred Forest. Aliedori’s brother Maldar and his golden dragon, Keidrop, are trapped by a powerful binding spell; a spell that leaves Aliedori strangely unaffected. In an attempt to track down their unseen attacker Aliedoqri uses her natural gifts and casts a “Seeker” charm enabling her to pursue a chase to a shadowy figure through the dark woods until he mysteriously disappears without a trace…and the adventure begins!
As the trio sets off in the direction the mysterious figure disappeared they encounter mysterious creatures formed from dark magic, a mage powerful enough to incapacitate dragons and other threats only ever spoken of by the Chronicler.
As they journey East more of the Chronicler’s prediction come true, Aliedori’s destiny lay ahead along with … the battle for the four realms!
About the Author
I was brought up on stories, tales of adventures of far off places, of princesses in peril and their princes rescuing them, they filled my head and sparked my imagination from an early age. I have very fond memories of “Lloyd Brown” or “Lloydy” as he was known to us children, telling the most wonderful stories. The only time he didn’t stutter was when he was telling stories, I would travel with him to those far off places from the Grimm fairy tales and just around the corner of the “Anansi” stories of Jamaican fables, these were amongst my favourites. By the time I had to swap the Jamaican sunshine for the winter “watery” sun of England at the age of almost eleven years old. My head was already crammed full of stories to accompany me on my very own adventure to far off England.
I may have spent my formative years in the Jamaican countryside with the wild green woods and perfectly clear rivers but I grew up in London. Long winter days and darkened evenings would find me with my head in a book, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Arabian Nights and closer to home Enid Blyton’s Famous Five were later replaced but not forgotten by Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, and Sterling E Lanier’s Hiero’s Journey.
I was a shy introverted child but while at school I was regarded as one of the “cool” kids; I was a real Jamaican with the accent to prove it. Libraries became my playground; they helped to fuel my imagination where adventure after adventure played out again and again in my head. I could be anywhere, any place, anytime from my little corner of the local library. I lived in my head; my stories gave me a sense of belonging, they sustained me and now somehow one of my adventures found its way onto the page and is about the be shared with others.
After many weeks of travelling, resting for very short periods and only rousing Sibley long enough to feed her, the scruffy, smelly, tired and very dirty band of travellers arrived in the city. Dragon riders visiting the city and seeing it for the first time saw it from the air were spellbound by the majesty and size of the capital. Fengardia lay on the mouth of several large freshwater crystal blue ocean-lakes. They were fed by rivers winding from the snow-capped mountains of Ferran-Gar and springs coming from as far away as Stornvale on the distant side of Broken Hills. The city was flanked on one side by the vast Southern forest and on the other three sides by the fresh waters of the ocean-lakes.
The water was as blue as the sky and stretched out as far as the eyes could see. It disappeared over the horizon and appeared to merge with the skies just before it dropped off the end of the Realm. Boats, commercial and private, large and small, lined the wharf and docks. Their sails were a multitude of colours catching the breeze and dancing their bellowing riot of hues across the bay. The clatter of traders was carried up to them in the air as gifts and offerings for their safe return. Of all the entrances into the city, this was a sight Aliedori loved the most, but it was the one she saw the least. This entrance showed Fengardia off at its best. The ocean-lakes sustained the vast and rich metropolis with fresh water, commerce and fishing. The trading ports bustled with traders and beyond the port, the sandstone and slate roofed buildings of the main city stretched out away from the crystal blue waters to the right and into the green of the forest. Bridges and walkways connected the mainland to an island in the centre of the largest ocean-lake and to the Temple Gardens, a place of worship and pilgrimage for many of the Realmers. A shard of an ancient mountain remained in the centre of the island; sharp, jagged bare rocks on one side while the other side had slopes covered with an abundance of fruit trees, shrubs, plants and wildflowers.
At the base of the slope stood the Temple Gardens and an ancient ruined temple palace said to go back in the mists of time. The temple was once the site of the original palace and home to the first Grand Naturalist, Anterian. The rest of the island disappeared when distant melted water had swelled the lakes, breaking the banks of the individual lakes and they became one large expanse of water to be known as the ocean-lakes. All that had remained on the island was the old palace and temple as a new palace was already established on the knoll overlooking the bay. After the swell, centuries before, all that remained on the island was the temple to the ancestors.
Closer to the forest and land was a turquoise lagoon where the remains of a mountain range jutted out above the water providing a perfect place for swimming. Several peaks had bathing temples and steps cut into the rock to provide access to the lagoon. While others were covered in dense shrubbery and only dragons and dracs traversed them. On land, a bridge linked the main section and oldest part of the town to the palace. The bridge was ornately decorated, carved out of one solid block of white marble to span the narrow inlet. The highly decorative swirls and curves of the solid structure mimicked the ebb, flow and gentle ripple of the ocean-lakes. Each side of the wide bridge was planted with palms and flowers, but the many coloured plants did not distract from the bridge but instead enhanced the purity of the white marble. Above the heads of the people were suspended walkways connecting the mainland to the island and the temple gardens.
On the ground, equally ornate roadways made from red and yellow baked bricks, linked all the outer settlements with the city. High above the city were the dragons’ towers reaching into the sky. Structures of steel, bricks, entangled with vines and trees; the leaders’ magic was used especially to grow the vines and plants that clung to and bound all the towers. They were commercial towers owned by the city merchants and used for dragons and their riders from all across the Realms as trading posts. All across the city, dragon towers housed stables, dwellings for travellers and places to dine, play and even gamble. Many traders came to the city without ever landing on the ground and chose only to see the city from the towers. The central windows in all dragon towers housed the dragon masters and the keepers whose lifelong devotion was tending to the needs of dragons only.
Aliedori never grew tired of seeing her home from the dragon’s eye view. But morning she barely noticed the city below her that still had not risen from its slumber. The palace was built on a large sweeping curve of the bay in the ocean-lakes; on the south side was a spectacular view of the town. Between the palace and lower town lay a lush shallow ravine and the palace, which, like the other buildings in the city, had been built from sand stone and coloured slates.
The main residential area stood closest to the lakes and extended over the water on stilts of living trees, making that part of the palace look like it had grown out of the tree trunks. There had been many, many times when she and Maldar would dive straight from her window or veranda into the crystal blue lake. It was a race to see who could touch the roots first; she was never allowed to cheat by using magic. Maldar always beat her, bobbing back up through the water first, fist raised in triumph and a grin so wide it threatened to blot out the sun. The structure over the water was wooden framed with a wooden floor interspersed with ornately carved blue wooden tiles from the blue wood of the Amelia tree. The walls and beams were also ornately carved with flying dragons, galloping dracs and plant life. The entrance from the water was large enough for guests of the palace arriving by water to moor. On the other side of the palace in the wall of the lower level lay another entrance to the grand hall and garden from the town.
The large scrolled gate was set in a gateway of an ornate arch overrun with ivy, vines and other climbing plants and flowers. Within the walls was an enormous lawn surrounded by fruit trees, herbs, shrubs and edible plants. Beyond the garden was the main building, which consisted of four domed roofs. The domes were covered in green slate interspersed with blue tiles inspired by the natural surroundings of forest and water.
From the dome spires, symmetrical turrets reached up into the sky, gleaming with warmth and magic sparkling from every surface. It was a beautiful place, but it was a fortress all the same; every wall, every stone, every brightly coloured tile was impregnated with magic – but a defence against what? Aliedori had never questioned why the palace, indeed every building needed to have a magical protection. On the far right of the wall close to the forest was the dragon tower that served the palace. The building contained the stables for the dragons and was home to the dragon knights, riders, and the palace’s personal guards.
Wulfgar’s dwelling and apothecary was not part of the main palace but was built in the canopy of several very large and sturdy trees and connected to the palace by walkways to upper and lower levels. The ground was reached by a spiral stairwell carved out of the trunk of an even older tree, which allowed him and his apprentices direct access to their beloved forest to collect herbs and plants. The very ground floor was where sometimes he, but mostly his apprentices, worked in the apothecary freeing him up to see customers. The nearest access to Wulfgar for a dragon rider were the upper terraces and it was into these that Keidrop and her riders landed close to dawn.
The viscous fluid from the Grey had ripened and though Aliedori had managed to rid herself and Maldar of the worst of it by casting and incantation, the smell and stain still clung to them and had even transferred to Waifyn’s clothes and hair. It did not help that Sibley emitted the smell from every pore of her clay-like skin. She remained docile though she had continued to beg for release throughout the long journey. She was taken from Keidrop’s saddle and was carried between Maldar and Waifyn to the physician’s door. The first knock summoned an apprentice, who appeared so quickly it was as if he had been behind the door waiting for just such a summons. He jumped back crying out in fright at the sight of Sibley, almost shutting the door again in their faces. Only Aliedori’s quick reaction prevented the door from slamming. She calmed the apprentice as best she could and instructed him to go and get the physician. In his fright the apprentice forgot all his manners and protocol to rush from the hall and disappear behind a curtained off area. He returned a few seconds later to deposit the basket of herbs and other medicinal paraphernalia on the long waist-high cabinet against one wall and disappeared again. Still flustered, he returned a second time and invited the weary travellers in but kept a close eye on Sibley as he closed the door behind them and disappeared behind the curtains again.
Light footsteps could be heard, then voices, and in a few moments, the physician appeared on the upper level, looking over into the hall. He made an exclamation of surprise and, gripping the rail, vaulted over with feline grace to land perfectly balanced in front of the visitors. Middle age had not robbed the physician of his agility and grace; despite herself, Aliedori smiled as he showed off his skills.
“Intendant… Maldar… Waifyn…” Wulfgar exclaimed, bringing his palms together and inclining his head. He knew Waifyn very well and there was no mistaking his sister’s youngest child. With his head still inclined, Wulfgar said, “Who or what have you brought me at this hour of the morning, children?”
Wulfgar was used to Aliedori and Maldar bringing all kind of strays and the sick to be healed, but this was something new. He had attended Aliedori’s birth and attended Maldar when he was first brought to the palace and had even attended Waifyn as a child. They were young people he had known and loved all their lives, but now his eyes were firmly fixed on Sibley. He would talk to his nephew later; there was much to be said, especially if the rumours were true. He was handfasted to a humankind and it would appear that his nephew intended to do the same.
“What manner of creature is this?” he asked, raising his eyes to the three young people standing before him. Wulfgar was once a great warrior nymph, skilled with the bow as well as the sword. He had chosen to leave his beloved forest home and spent his formative years as a soldier. He had fought in border skirmishes with the Western Realm in defence of the liberty of the Eastern Realm.