Epilogue: The Dragon’s Library

gerliliam

© James Pyles

“Dragons roared and children picked up musical instruments and played. Many alighted to the ground to dance, and the singers clung to tree branches like birds. It was a moment of grandeur and promise. But as bright as it was in the city of Vovin, the city of dragons and children, a dark night was coming.

“The end.”

The ancient dragon Gerliliam reclined in his favorite chair in front of the fireplace in his library, and slowly closed the book he had been reading.

“What do you mean ‘the end,’ Gerliliam? That can’t be the end. What about the Grey God? How are the kids supposed to get home? Does that mean the demons are going to come for us, too?” The excitable and feisty sparrow hopped annoyingly back and forth from one of the dragon’s shoulders to the other. In ages past the dragon would have simply swatted him with one of his wings, but then, that was ages past.

“Excuse me, but I think he’s right. You can’t stop reading now. There’s so much more to tell.” Mr. Covingham, a brightly colored garter snake, was comfortably curled on a pillow set on the floor, not too close to the fireplace, but not too far, either.

“But that’s what it says, my friends, ‘the end.’ That rather means there is no more to read.”

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Vovin

bridge

© Sue Vincent

The bridge between the exile of the Dark Hills and the tree city of the dragons Vovin was massive and ancient. Even the dragons and the elves had no name for it, nor did they know how it was built. It was wide enough to admit six golden dragons the size of Shay and Kaleen standing side-by-side, which was fortunate, since he was escorting his still weak and limping wife back toward home.

Danijel and Aidan were walking between them, the former feeling nearly as wounded and exhausted as her mentor.

Behind the dragons were the five Davidson children, and behind them was the Royal Vizier of Direhaven, Wynjeon, alongside the Mage Raibyr. In turn they were leading a troop of twenty elven warriors, the remains of Sergeant Petran’s meager forces replenished by hand-picked soldiers from the army’s main body.

“I can’t believe we made it.” Mandy was talking more to herself than anyone else. For months, they had fought the most deadly of foes, suffered immeasurably, and yet the five children were here, alive, and for the most part well.

Mandy wouldn’t tell anyone, not yet. The gift of healing was nothing short of miraculous, and she still didn’t know how she acquired it, but the healing came at a price. She was trying to hide her limp, the same one Shay suffered from, doing her best to conceal her fatigue, and the nausea that plagued her.

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Last Stand

wave

© Sue Vincent

“Archers! At the ready!” Petran gave the command to his meager squad of elven soldiers as they formed a perimeter around the five Davidson children and the magician Raibyr. Nine-year-old Taylor was at the center with his siblings when he remembered he also had his bow and arrows.

The wind was frigid and fierce, which fortunately made the attacking Beelzebub horde uncertain in the air, but would also make accuracy with the bow extremely difficult.

The sense of the warrior Azzorh within Taylor came over him, and he nocked his first arrow.

The bat-winged demons were in as tight a formation as possible given the storm that was tracking toward the party from the west; a massive cloud of swollen, sickly green flies whose home was sewage, and whose taste was for blood.

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When Hell Boils Over

shark

Photo: Discovery Channel

Stop! If you haven’t done so already, read The Quest to Save Landon first.

Landon’s soul shot straight up from the pits of Hell as fast as he could go, but Hell was a lot more confusing than he realized. There were all kinds of tunnels and passageways all over the place. Which one led him out of Hell, and even if he could find it, how was he going to get back to the Moose realm and his dying body?

“Wait!” He saw a blue light just above him. “That’s got to be it.”

He heard yelling, and screaming, and a bunch of voices making vile threats against him. Looking back, there were hundreds of winged demons pursuing him, and they were catching up.

“Oh no.”

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Dire Beginning

beginnings

© Sue Vincent

The afternoon sunlight, which had been shining dimly through the mist and overhanging trees, flickered and threatened to extinguish, as if a giant was blowing out a candle.

“They came! They heard me and they came!” In spite of their dire circumstances, trapped between an army of demons on one side and a strangely alien Shay accompanied by the resurrected Sakhr on the other, little Zooey was jumping up and down with excitement. Coming in from high above and crossing the sun was an unprecedented legion of vultures. It was impossible to tell the birds apart as the vast flock began its dive toward the demonic forces, but the girl knew that Gyffus was at the lead. She took the single feather he had left behind, held it up and waved.

The rest of them looked up and then back again at the wounded golden dragon and her companion, Dani’s shadowy reflection, who seemed no worse for wear after having been impaled on the dragonrider’s sword.

“Sakhr! I killed you!” Dani’s right hand ached as she tightly gripped Witherbrand’s hilt. The blade felt heavy, threatening to pull her arm downward, lowering her guard.

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The Quest to Save Landon

anime girl wand

Anime version of Hermione Granger holding a wand

Nine-year-old Landon and his classmate and friend Ana were in school, which was strange, because school was out for the summer. What was even stranger was that Landon was at the head of the class and Ana was the only student.

“Now today class, I want to introduce you to magic wands.” He was wearing a white shirt and tie, dark slacks, and was wearing something that looked like a cross between a jacket and a robe while Ana was dressed similarly.

“Stop being silly. I’m the only one here.”

“Just trying to get into the mood, Ana.”

“Fine, you teach me how to use a wand, and I’ll teach you moose healing magic.”

“Are you sure we should be keeping this from Buddy?”

“You said you knew enough to begin my training yourself. Besides, we’re ready to start the fourth grade. I think we’re old enough to handle the basic stuff ourselves.”

“Okay. Anyway, this is a magic wand.”

“It looks like a long, thin stick. What makes it magic?”

“We do. Wands help us focus our spells, especially ones that normally would affect a wide area.”

“Like my light spell.”

“Exactly. The elemental light spell explodes like a bomb or a flash bulb on an old-fashioned camera. If you focus it through a wand, you can create anything from a flashlight beam to a laser.”

“Cool. Can I try?” She stood up at her desk and held out her hand.

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Descent

feather

© Sue Vincent

The little girl had picked up the carrion bird’s feather, the only remains of her connection to the griffon vulture who had delivered the dire news of the Great Gray God, and tucked it in her pocket. For a few short minutes when their minds met, she had seen through his eyes, had seen the world from six miles up, flown through clouds and smoke, and witnessed the falling of a god to a vast army of demons. Zooey was only five years old, but in the space of a few weeks, she had seen so much of life and death.

“The Quag Lands.”

Dani stopped them at the edge of some unseen boundary. It was mid-morning and they had been walking through a grassy marsh since just after dawn. For the past hour of their journey, the grasses had become darker and the tree branches more twisted. The air was humid and thick with the smell of the dying, not that there weren’t living birds and animals here, but somehow that life didn’t belong solely in their bodies.

“It’s what I saw.” Jake was standing next to the dragonrider. She knew the way into this stinking pit because it was the one area of the Exile she had always been taught to avoid. The seven-year-old also knew by the dubious virtue of his dreams, both waking and sleeping.

“It gets darker ahead. She’s in there, Dani. Shay’s almost dead.”

They all turned as Paris shrieked. She had walked off to the edge of the trail and was gazing into a shallow pool when she saw it. Taylor was the first to reach her.

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Victory and Judgment

moosemods

From the Moose Mods YouTube channel

Stop! Don’t read this unless you’ve first read The Runaway Stuffed Rabbit, The Battle for the Holy Grail Moose Milk, and then Fierce Combat in Moose Valley.

Ana was still hanging on to the barely conscious dragon Merlyn and his companion Alfred, the bunny in the bow tie, using her amulet of flight to keep them up in the air. They were just above the treetops when they drifted over a trail. In fact it was the trail, the one that led back to the Moosemen village, and it wasn’t empty.

All of the Moosewomen, led by Ha Shu’s wife Lai Ma Moose, were riding on a herd of moose, the herd that had led Ana to the village in the first place. They were all wearing armor and helmets and carrying spears and swords. The little girl managed to glide in for a landing just a few hundred yards ahead of them, but Lai Ma had to pull up on the reins hard, as did the other Moosewomen warriors, to keep from running over the trio.

Lai Ma quickly dismounted and rushed over to them.

“Can you do anything? He’s hurt.” The child was pleading with her voice and her eyes.

“I believe so. First, let’s get you off of the road.”

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Conflagration

conflagration

© Sue Vincent

After Dani attached the leather leg band containing the message to her brother Aidan, Zooey whispered into the crow’s ear and released him into the air. The ebony bird took wing and flew up and northward, disappearing into the midnight blue sky.

Sapplehenning finally poked his head above Zooey’s shirt collar. He had refused to come out while the crow was around, knowing of the bird’s taste for mice.

“Yeah, but why a crow and not a homing pigeon?” Even with the grim task facing them, Taylor still could tease his youngest sister a little.

“Because crows are really smart, unlike you smartypants.” Zooey stuck her tongue out at the nine-year-old just like in the old days before they came to this Exile, and before the demons had tried to kill her. “Besides, homing pigeons don’t work the way you think they do.”

“You’re sure the bird knows where Vovin is?” It had never occurred to Dani to send a message home before, but that’s because she thought Shay was watching over them. Now they were alone, and if there was any hope of saving the dragon, it was with them.

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Fierce Combat in Moose Valley

battling moose

Photo taken at Grand Teton National Forest – Found at Parkcamper.com

Stop! Don’t read this unless you’ve first read The Runaway Stuffed Rabbit and then The Battle for the Holy Grail Moose Milk.

Sam was dressed almost like a cowboy version of Batman without the cape and mask. The big, floppy hat, and flowing long coat made up the difference though. He was also heavily armed with about every medieval weapon and gadget he could carry. He’d need all of it, too. The battle between the Moosemen the Demons was raging just ahead of him.

He thought about yelling out a war cry and diving right in among the Moosemen, having caught a glimpse of his good friend Ha Shu Moose in the melee, but then, spying a large tree overhanging a portion of the battle, he got an idea. Swiftly climbing the trunk and then the hardy lower branches, he perched himself above the Moose Army so he had a clear field of fire of the Demons.

The Hell spawns were trapped between the Moose Castle and its warriors, and the Moosemen from the village, but they were still holding their own. Sam, the Demon Slayer readied his device, which was a cross between a belt-fed machine gun and a crossbow. He unwound the unwieldy belt from his backpack and set up the contraption. It could fire a hundred arrows a minute, which meant he’d be out of ammo in five, but with the Demons all crowded together, that meant he couldn’t miss.

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