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The Dragon Maker – Excerpt

Magic comes to MIgar (our realm)

 

 

CHAPTER 1: Mack

 Mack’s hand searched the sheets for Aisne’s soft, warm body. He pulled her back to his front and whispered against her neck. “Morning.”

“Hmm.” She wrapped her arms around his. “It’s nice having you around in the morning.”

“I’ll talk to Dave about starting later.” Even with his promotion, that wasn’t going to happen, but he could dream.

“That’d be lovely.” She turned in his arms, capturing his lips in a quick kiss. “Do you hear that?”

“The TV?”

“Yeah. Her favorite show just started.”

He could make out the theme song to the Dancing Dragons cartoon. “And?”

“That means we have a half hour”—she kissed him again—“of child-free time.”

“Thirty minutes, huh?”

“Yep.” Her hands skimmed down his back. “Thirty minutes. You and me. Alone.”

“What do you suggest we do?” He grinned, knowing exactly what they were going to do.

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?” She leaned over him, her lips barely a breath from his. Her long, silky, dark hair cascaded over his shoulders and tangled around him like a restraint that he never wanted to break.

“I love you.” He’d loved her since the day they’d met. She’d been almost seventeen, heavy with child, and so alone. He’d been eighteen with no real family, only Nana Blue and Uncle Percy. “We should make a baby.”

“I thought we were getting ready to do just that.” She laughed as she wrapped one long leg over his hip.

A scream echoed through the room.

“Bridgette.” Aisne’s eyes widened and for one second, she tightened her grip around him.

“Tissues or paper and pencil?” He hopped out of bed, pulling on a pair of sweatpants.

“Paper and pencil.”

“You think?” He glanced at her, loving his life—even this interruption. “Tissues happen more.”

“I put the tissues on the top of the cabinet in the laundry room. She can’t reach them.”

“Cheater.” He leaned down and kissed her.

She pushed at his chest. “You better hurry. She’s getting ready for another blast.”

The screaming had stopped but only long enough for Bridgette to gather her breath.

“Got it.” He hurried out of their bedroom.

Ruffalo stood outside their door, his large, fluffy tail wagging slowly.

“You’re supposed to warn us if she gets the tissues or paper and pencil.” Never pens. She only used pencils to poke holes in paper before rubbing her hands over it as she screamed.

The big mutt barked at him before trotting down the hall toward the laundry room. He followed, his pace increasing as the noise grew louder.

“Everything okay?” yelled Aisne.

“I think so. Ruffalo’s not worried.”

The first few times Bridgette had screamed like this, he’d raced through the house, his heart ready to burst from his chest until he’d found her and had realized that she was fine. Now, logic told him it was nothing but her quirks, but deep in his gut he couldn’t shake the fear that something horrible was happening to her. His hand trembled slightly as he opened the door.

His daughter sat on the floor in her pink pajamas, staring at the torn-up tissues scattered around her and screaming. His heart broke at her tear-stained cheeks and red face.

“Hey, baby girl. It’s okay.” He strode into the room and picked her up.

“Da-daddy.” She buried her face against his shoulder, her snot and tears wetting his skin.

“Shhh. Baby. Daddy’s got you. It’s okay.” He turned and shooed Ruffalo away from the door as he walked down the hallway and into the kitchen.

“Which was it?” Aisne came into the room. She’d put on a pair of sweats and a T-shirt. With no makeup and her hair pulled back in a ponytail, she looked no older than she had when he’d met her almost seven years ago.

“Tissues.” He clutched Bridgette tighter. “I’m going to take her into the living room.

“Okay. I’ll bring some breakfast as soon as I”—she lowered her voice and moved to where Bridgette couldn’t see her—”clean up the remains.” She grinned as she picked up the broom and dustpan.

He went into the living room, Ruffalo behind him, and sat on the couch. “It’s okay, baby. Nothing’s going to get you.”

Bridgette rubbed her nose on his chest and turned on his lap. “Dragons.” She snuggled against him, her eyes locked on the TV.

He kissed her dark brown hair, so like her mother’s. She was almost a perfect, little replica of Aisne, except for her eyes. Aisne’s were the green of the forest and Bridgette’s were brown, so dark it was sometimes hard to see her pupils. They must’ve come from her biological father. Fortunately, they were close enough to his brown eyes to answer her questions until she was old enough to understand that biological didn’t mean crap. Love was all that mattered, and he loved her. She was his daughter. “Bridge, why are you afraid of torn up tissues?”

She didn’t answer, lost in the cartoon.

“Bridgette?” He poked her side, making her giggle. “Why do you tear up the tissues if it scares you?” He’d asked her this so many times, but she never answered. He’d keep asking until she either stopped or told him her fears. That was the only way he could help her.

“Stop, tickling me.” She wiggled on his lap, laughing.

“Oh, I can’t do that.” Her laughter made his world right .He held up his finger. “This is the tickle monster, and you woke him.” He lowered his voice. “Now, he must be fed.”

“No.” She squirmed and squealed as he kept poking her.

Aisne came into the room with a bowl of cereal and put it on the coffee table. “Young lady, you wasted an entire box of tissues.”

“Sorry, Mommy.” Bridgette climbed off his lap and took a mouthful of cereal.

Ruffalo squeezed in by her side, eyeing her dish.

“Why Bridgette? Why do you keep doing this?” asked Aisne.

“And why does it frighten you?” he added.

Bridgette shrugged, her eyes back on the television.

“You’re buying the next box with your allowance,” said Aisne.

He stood and took his girlfriend’s hand. “She’s watching her show now. We can”—he glanced at their bedroom—“continue where we left off.”

“We don’t have much time. I need to go to the grocery store before Dave’s party.”

“We’ll take a shower. Two birds one stone so to speak.” He grabbed her hips and backed her toward their bedroom.

“Bridge, honey. Be good. Mommy and Daddy are going to their room for a few minutes,” said Aisne.

“Okay.” Bridgette waved but never moved her eyes from the dragons on the TV.

CHAPTER 2: Romak

 Romak floated in the abyss of his prison, his body motionless for centuries, but his mind always wandering, weaving a path between his memories and his revenge. The sound of scratching grew closer. Soon, his enemies would pay.

For loving the wrong woman, those who ruled the realms had imprisoned him in the Trident’s Tray. They’d taken everything from him—his freedom, his best friend, his love and his child—but they were fools. The prison was the first of the Ugulats many mistakes. Elongating the fabric of time, making every second seem like years, hadn’t weakened him. It’d made him stronger. Surrounded by a mist of endless fog, heavy and blinding, he’d had nothing to do but think and plan.

Their second mistake had been underestimating the air. Those of the land and sea always did that. To them air was something to breathe and to warm or cool their bodies. To him and the other Tollseers, the wind was a friend. It searched for them, traveled with them and helped them when called. He’d definitely called, and his friend had answered. It’d taken centuries but the air was winning. It always did. It won against the sea, directing the waves, and the earth, etching away the rocks. It took time, but imprisoned in the Trident’s Tray, he had nothing else.

The scratching grew louder. Soon the pinprick would give and he’d be free. He opened his eyes, seeing nothing and then brightness flooded his prison, stinging pupils that’d grown accustomed to darkness. The fabric had surrendered. He wanted to burst forward, but now was the time for patience. He forced himself to remain still, to stay calm. The Trident pulsed around him, feeling for motion. If he moved too soon, he’d be given another kiss. He cringed at the memory and the large, reptilian tongue of the Trident swayed toward him.

He closed his eyes, forcing his body to relax as the tongue, cold and smooth, skimmed over his face. He pushed down his disgust and let his lips fall open, just a bit. The Trident tested him, searching for a reaction so it could slip inside his body and feed on his fear and anger, leaving him drugged and unable to think.

The tongue glided past his lips, tapping along his teeth. He emptied his mind, his teeth opening and the tongue, metallic and slimy searched his mouth. He drifted along in the fog, calm and motionless. The tongue retreated and he opened his eyes, watching as it disappeared in the mist.

A soft breeze skimmed over his face. Now. He had to go now. In his mind he pushed forward, stretching the ties that bound him to the Tray. He bared his teeth as the manacles burned his flesh, but he would not stop. No pain could hurt more than what he’d already suffered. Nothing would keep him from his freedom and his revenge.

The tongue flung forward, sensing his escape. It slapped at his face, but he called to his old friend the air that was slowly filling his prison. It swirled around the Trident’s tongue, snapping the snake-like appendage back and forth. The Trident roared, shaking the Tray.

Now that the Trident was busy, he could use his body. His skin sizzled as he yanked and tore at the restraints, but he moved forward toward the pinprick in the prison wall. His nose brushed against the opening. His body convulsed as hot bolts of energy zapped him, the Trident’s useless attempt to keep its prisoner. He could not, would not fail. He called for more wind, more power.

His nose popped out of the prison as his face and skull entered. He screamed, the pressure threatening to explode his head but that was a trick—mental magic—and another mistake by the authorities. Tears ran down his cheeks, wetting his skin and easing his passage. More light flooded into his prison and the Trident screamed with rage as Romak’s body expanded the hole. The air—his air, his power—wrapped around him, lending its strength. He used his ability as a Tollseer to become one with the wind, to make his body malleable, more fluid. He bent into shapes no physical form should withstand as he tore through the Trident’s Tray. He fell into the mist, but his wind caught him, carrying him through the fog and spitting him into the other realm.

He crashed to the earth, its dark warmth cocooning him. Pain, glorious pain, raced through his body as he sat up. For too long there’d been nothing but the agony in his head. It was good to feel the ache of flesh once again. Colors assailed him—the green of the trees and grasses, the brilliant blue of the sky and the dark brown of the earth.

He ran his fingers through the dirt, so loved, so missed. He was finally home—Alfiedom, the realm of beauty and magic. It was where he’d been born but not where he was meant to stay. The Tollseers traveled the realms, but his heart had stopped wandering when he’d met her.

“Romak, you made it.”

He looked up from the hole his body had carved into the ground. “Draken, my brother, you look no different.”

They were not kin. Their bonds were born from pain and wars not blood. Unlike his tall, lean body and fair complexion, Draken was short and dark like all the Credark clan. His eyes were as black as a byway bog and his hair even darker. His features were blunt like stone and his grip strong.

Draken grabbed his hand, helping him climb out of the earth and then embracing him. “Romak. It’s good to see you.”

“For me it was forever.” He held his friend close for a moment—the contact so warm after centuries of cold solitude. He stepped back. “How long has it really been?” Time meant nothing to him. His kind aged slowly but the other realms were different, especially the realm of Migar where his love been sent. In the realm of humans, time sped by with no magic to slow the progression of age.

“Years, my friend, but not too long.”

The sound of a horn rang through the air.

“Come, we need to hurry.” Draken tugged on his arm. “They know you’ve escaped.”

“Let them come.” He was eager to show his enemies what they’d created with their rigid adherence to archaic laws.

“Not yet. The Weave. Cathesor found an opening.”

“Already?”

“Yes, but it’s small. With your escape, the Spinners will be scouring the Weave for weaknesses. They’ll find it and they will close it.”

He grinned. “Then we shall help them find it by punching a hole in it so big all the Spinners working as one won’t be able to stitch it together again.”

“You can’t fight them all, Romak.” Draken tugged on his arm again. “Come. We have a safe place.”

The horn sounded again, closer this time.

“Thank you, my friend, but there is no hurry.”

“But…” Draken’s black eyes were wide with fright as he glanced over his shoulder toward the sound of the horn. If he were caught helping the Destroyer, the Betrayed Prince, he’d be executed.

“Trust me.” Romak spun his finger, creating a small whirlwind and then flicked his wrist, sending it on its way. The wind shifted and the horn blared again.

“They’re going in the other direction,” said Draken.

“Yes, they are.”

“How did you…”

“I’ve had centuries to hone my magic. They’ve only had years to prepare for my wrath.” He stared into the forest, replacing the bleakness that had occupied his mind with life and trees, and memories of her. “Come. It’s time to reclaim my bride.”

CHAPTER 3: Romak

Romak sat on the parapet of the tower hidden in the clouds. He hadn’t expected Draken to find him a place in the sky. His brother was of the earth, never venturing farther up than a boulder. Cathesor, however, was of the sky like him. She was as beautiful as the air with blonde hair and eyes so blue they hurt to look at. If he’d married her as their parents had arranged, they’d be ruling the realms now, but his parents had died, and he’d broken that covenant when he’d met his queen.

“Romak, the time is now. Are you ready?” Cathesor stood at the back of the balustrade made from clay and dirt. The villa may exist in the sky, but it was made of the earth, built by Draken and the Credark clan.

He stood, the clouds shifting beneath his feet. “If this abode falls, the bricks will tumble to the ground like a storm of boulders.

“Then we shall make sure it crashes over our enemies’ heads,” she said.

He smiled. “You’ve become even more vicious over the years. It looks good on you. Puts color in your cheeks.”

“Tribulations do that.”

“I’m sorry…for everything.” His betrayal and imprisonment hadn’t been easy on her either.

“So you claim, but enough of the past. Are you sure about this? Once you set the magic loose you won’t be able to control the outcome.”

“I will control everything.” He wouldn’t lose them. He’d worked too hard to find them.

“That’s not how it works.”

“Enough.” He waved his hand, and the wind pushed her backward.

“Stop that.” She struck back, making the air leave his lungs. “You’re acting like a child. This temper of yours caused all this.”

“It wasn’t my temper they disliked. It was my choice in brides.”

“Yes, of course.” Her face heated.

“Cathesor…” He hadn’t meant to hurt her, not then and not now.

“You should begin.” She turned, stopping in the doorway. “I hope you’re right and you can control what you start because if you can’t, lives will be lost.”

He was well aware of the price of actions. He’d been imprisoned for one and had spent centuries analyzing every possible scenario to ensure that he’d be victorious. He closed his eyes, his spirit and most of his body dissipating into the wind. He flew on currents he created, the feeling familiar and yet so strange after being motionless for years.

It was easy to find the Weave. The wind didn’t like being blocked. It battered the wall of magic, creating gusts even an earthbound could feel. He glided along the barrier, his hands skimming across the fabric, searching for weakness. The Weave was strong but those who’d left the realms of magic years ago to live in Migar weakened it. The barrier wanted to welcome back those lost to the world their ancestors had abandoned.

A slight tickle danced over his fingers, followed by a jab, like the pricking of a pin. “There you are.” She was strong. Stronger than he’d imagined she’d be living in the vile land where humans reigned, and magic hid.

The light peeked through the tear. It was the opening he needed. He tugged on the thread, making it spin and pull, causing the hole to grow. It was time for the sacrifice. The earth always required an offering and for magic this strong the price would be blood.

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