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Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Young adult or teen  ➡  Fantasy

Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story

 

 

 

Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story

 

By T. K. Thompson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published By

 

 

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Chapters

Beldagar 5

The Mine 11

Rose 18

The Mountain 26

The Dilemma 42

A Day of Decisions 52

The Family 66

The Story and the Lie 81

The Plan 90

The Monster in the Mountain 100

The Last Deal 119

The End 124

Thank you for reading! 125

About the Author 126

Acknowledgements 128

 

Chapter 1

[]Beldagar

 

Beldagar sat upon the heaped earth staring out into the familiar land. The tall pine trees scaled into the sky and the wild summer grass, which was actually green this year and sprinkled with wild flowers. It only meant one thing to him—more work.

He rested his hand on his heart-shaped face focusing his green eyes on the details of his meadow back yard. A gentle breeze blew around him every so often; it was a moment of peace before the long day ahead. Just then the thought of the workload made his mood sink.

The sound of the back door of his country home alerted him that it had swung open as it banged against the wall. The heavy footsteps that followed were always accompanied by a loud nagging voice. He braced himself.

“You oblivious boy! Get off your butt and get going! They are expecting you in the mines! You know that. Why do I always have to yell at you to get you to go and do what you are supposed to do? You are an hour late at least. Beldagar, are you listening? Why did I bring you into this family? You owe your life to me. I didn’t have to take you into my house. No, I could have just left you there all helpless and in a basket. Are you even listening to me?”

His mind had switched off after she had called him oblivious. The word rang in his mind and though he continued to hear the rest of what she said it just didn’t register.

Oblivious fit him perfectly, he thought. After a few seconds he no longer heard her nagging, even though as he glanced back over his shoulder, she was still in a rampage. Her motions and speech seemed slower and drawn out in time. He didn’t know how he did it. All he knew was that when he wanted to turn it off, it was a simple click in his head.

He looked back to the meadow and wild flowers watching them sway lightly, magnified in his vision. His orphaned life seemed to never escape him and his adoptive caretaker Maude was his faithful reminder. Maude the Nag, Maude the monster, Maude the very bloated, ugly, blading, hag that yelled at him all day long. Maude, whose weapon of choice was a straw broom. His life was worthless except to compensate the charity that they had so gratefully bestowed upon him.

He had imagined numerous times what it would have been like to be left at any other person’s doorstep, but from the choices of their small foot-of-the-mountain village, he knew it could be worse—much, much worse. Due to this fact, he had to escape as much as possible, and since he couldn’t physically leave, he mentally did. He was thankful for his escape deep in his mind and thoughts. As long as he could be far away, he felt a little happiness, and his thoughts were always far away. He would do anything to escape the constant ringing of her nagging voice. The clicking in his mind switched off. His internal clock was pounding for him to leave.

“I swear you are the devil’s child!” Her voice continued now unhindered by his diversions. “I should let them take you up mountain and sacrifice you to whatever beast they want. With my luck nothing would eat you. No, it would spit you out lame and then they would bring you back here and I would have to wait on you even more than I already do. Don’t you ever think of anyone else besides yourself?”

His eyes glanced back to the mountain. It looked just as majestic as the gods they said lived upon it. Granted, he had only heard bits and pieces of ideas of what was actually up there. All he really knew was what he could see and the rest he made up. A small road, said to be treacherous and sharp, switch backed up the sides to whatever was up there.

He never listened too much to what they said about what was up there. He had imagined going up the road, but you didn’t just travel up the mountain. It was supposed to be a holy, sacred place. Still, he imagined trekking up and in his mind he painted tall towered structures all white and glistening in the sun. It helped the work go more quickly. Two days in the fields, two days in the forests, and finally the worst two days in the mines. He shivered at the thought, seeing the dark tunnel looming before his mind.

Suddenly, the wind was more chilling. He stood, giving in to the Nag and unyielding work that would stay with him until he died. He thought quickly with a hint of jealousy at the other children. The Nag’s actual blood children were privileged enough to be educated and skilled in trades with apprenticeships in the village and other community villages. He, on the other hand, worked to pay back his debt of life.

He looked back at the small hovel of a home. He slept in the loft even though other beds had opened up. The Nag was still nagging. Her round fat face with thin brown graying hair that was balding at the edges was pulled back in a sloppy bun and shaking as she continued her rant. He couldn’t even hear her words anymore. She always seemed so genuinely upset.

“I’m going,” he finally stated.

“You’re going. You’re going?” She had a broom in her hand and the other hand was on her large hip. He had to be sure to watch out that she didn’t swing it at his head. “You’re standing there telling me you’re going? You should have been going hours ago.”

“I don’t like going to the mine. There’s something not right down there,” he admitted heartily, expecting some sympathy, because if she had to go down there she would know just as much as he did.

“You’re ten years old. You’re not a baby anymore. There is no being afraid of the dark now.” She waived her tempered finger at him. “Now go!”

He took a deep begrudging breath and turned walking toward the mountain.

Chapter 2

[]The Mine

 

The small opening in the mountain loomed before Beldagar’s vision. He sat on his stone next to the large birch tree, allowing every single drop of sun to warm him before the call into the mountain. The precious seconds seemed anxious as they slipped quickly by. A good twenty feet sat between him and the opening, and yet his eyes were tunneling him into the cold pitch-black darkness. He could see the gray shimmering walls changing from dark gray to pitch black the lower they went. He could hear the deep breathing sounds that seemed to echo through the tunnels. They said it was just the wind.

Chills ran up his spine, causing him to shake even on the warm summer morning. His view turned observing the small grove where the other men sat waiting for the call to enter the mines. Not all of the workers had assembled yet; he was actually on time this morning. He had dragged every single step there and imagined that his footsteps had left large dents in the ground.

The other workers sat around the edges finishing their packed breakfasts, fastening their boots, and drawing closed their coats. He was the only child and always sat around the edges of them waiting for their movements. He had no coat, no breakfast, and no boots. Looking down at the oversized leather slip on shoes, he felt jealous as always thinking of the intense cold he was going to endure.

He tucked himself against a tree as his stomach rumbled horribly. He stared back at the light that would soon be gone from his life for most of the day. Then the foreman Thard walked into the area followed by a stream of workers behind him. His heart sunk at the sight of the tall broad shoulders and brown bearded man. His thick massive jaw overtook his face, making his never ending intimidating glare more intense.

“To your feet,” his gruff voice yelled.

All the workers stood from their places. Beldagar took a few more moments to sit and absorb the warmth while catching a stern eye from Thard. He shuddered and quickly jumped up, diverting his eyes to the ground. Moving into the shadows the cold bumps rose on his arms as he lined up behind the men and they all shuffled in after the foreman. A strange gust of air blew through the area chilling it even more. It seemed to radiate from the cave opening. Leaves rustled and a strange, deep breathing sound echoed, like a low, deep, growling thunder.

Beldagar halted and looked around to see the reactions of the other men, but they all stepped forward toward the mine like a thoughtless herd. His heart raced as he continued forward and he instinctually felt the drive to turn on his heels and run. It was just the wind, he reassured himself, it’s just the wind. A firm glance from Thard made him pick up his step. He didn’t want to have any more encounters with his massive fists. He could still feel the burning pains from the leather strap, and nobody at home was sympathetic for bruises.

After a few more steps, the darkness shrouded over his head. He closed his eyes for a few moments to adjust them and block out the fear. The lanterns that guided the men were meager; they hung far from each other, in-between the large wooden beams that kept the walls and ceiling stable.

They all shuffled through, breaking off into the connecting tunnels. He was to follow the last group on its way down. The large man-sized basket waited at the hole, barely big enough to fit in. Beldagar moved in with five other men and quickly after, the metal crank started dropping them down. It was a jerky decent and as usual they scraped against the stone and dirt walls. Every time he felt the fear of the basket just falling straight down, but it continued slowly jerking down until they jolted against the ground.

One man walked ahead lighting the lanterns as he followed. He liked to remain as close to the light as possible. Looking back and forth toward the dark cave tunnels, the darkness seemed to seep closer to him. Something about the depths of the mountain didn’t seem right. Just then rambling whispers echoed off the walls around him. Beldagar looked around quickly and picked up his step closer to the leading man. Then the hammers and pick axes began their work.

It was his job to clean up the rocks and pile them in the basket to be hauled out of the mountain. He picked up the wooden bucket with shaky hands as quick faint whispers continued haunting him; while making the trips back and forth to the basket. Finally, he began to hum to block out the sounds that felt were piercing his ears. He never could understand them. Stop, he begged dropping his bucket and clasping his ears. For a brief second there was an intense silence and as he pulled his hands away from his ears the words came again, but slow. This time he tried to understand. He stood there in the darkness feeling the words vibrate against him. Then he felt like his chest was burning like a fire and a strange growling sound came from the walls, breaking his concentration. He quickly picked his bucket back up.

The growling returned shaking his knees. He looked to the floor and hurried his step toward the basket catching sight of the other end of the tunnel. It had been mined back only twenty feet and a small opening continued, but no one ever went that direction. Even the thought of it made him shudder.

He believed the darkness or whatever evil that haunted him lived over there. He could see it frothing from the rock opening. The floor began to shake under his feet, buckling him to his knees and spilling his pail of stones. No one so much as looked his direction. He saw the men continue to strike their picks against the walls to break the stone and felt confused. Did they not feel the shaking? They should be trying to escape. They should be afraid.

The clanging and pounding continued without delay. Beldagar stood looking at all the men, while trying to force his body to stop shaking. Their faces flexed with each mindless swing. The sound began to ring painfully in his head. Blotting out the sounds with his hands, he felt his vision spin around him. The next thing he knew, his head struck against the cold mine floor.

He could see the darkness spreading like a thick fog toward him. The second it enveloped him, a loud guttural growl rumbled shaking his insides. He looked around wildly for the hidden monster. Then he felt the warmth in the cold mine. The ground seemed to radiate an instant intense heat. He looked down, trying to lift himself off the ground as a strange thick liquid substance seemed to flow beneath the rock.

And then something moved within the liquid. In only a fraction of second, he could see a small portion of the large scales of the beast. He screamed, feeling the heat grow burning his hands and feet. In vain, he tried to run away while seeing the monster’s thick claws, double the size of a large man scratching to get out.

 

Suddenly, Beldagar’s eyes flew opened as a large hand lifted him from the cold dark floor.

“I’ll teach you to sleep while on my watch.” He instantly knew Thard’s voice and braced himself as large fists darkened his mind once again.

 

Chapter 3

[]Rose

 

Nine years later and three days before his twentieth birthday, Beldagar walked home from the mines. The day was bright with fluffy white clouds puffing along through the sky. The tops of the tall pines swayed gently. His brown hair hung shaggily past his ears. He brushed it back and felt the energy of the earth bursting around him. Maybe it was because it was the only thing he paid attention to, but he swore he could feel the energy of the natural life around him.

Everyday his life was the same. He never saw an end to it, but it wasn’t just that. He never could think beyond it. Whenever he did try to imagine a life away from there, on his own, with maybe a wife, children and home, it just felt empty. As if there could never be anything more.

As he passed the small stone and mud houses of the village, he noticed the extra commotion. He darted around the wooden shed and slid a little in the mud. He peered out to the steady stream of individuals building booths and hauling lumber. Dozens of baskets and crates of goods were being hauled into the village center, which normally was a large patch of grass surrounding the water well. Now there were several canvas tents set up and decorated with leafy garlands and ribbons.

Then he remembered, every three years there was a great festival. He had hardly ever attended one; and by attending that meant watching illusively from a distance. The nights would be dressed with lanterns and dripping candles. The livestock would be arriving and be put in pens. Soon the songs, that he only knew part of the words to, would be sung. Then they would go up to the very top of the mountain. Beldagar looked up, noting the crowning clouds that always seemed to be above the pinnacle structure that looked pinker and happier.

He turned back, scanning the village center until his eyes caught the back of a woman. She was sitting on a tree stump under the birch trees on the other side of the festival. Her golden-blonde hair spiraled down her back and a green leafed crown sat on her head. She was dressed in a white pleated toga dress that adhered to her figure.

Beldagar felt his mind pulled and his feet naturally obeyed. He stepped closer toward her direction. His heart felt as if it was skipping beats. His feet did less walking—more like stumbling—and all the while he could hardly breathe as a deep anticipation built in his gut.

She sat all alone looking at the ground. He had to sneak around several of the tents, always looking for a glimpse of her along the way. He hoped that no one would notice him; all he needed was for word to get back to the Nag or Thard. He never quite understood why he was not able to attend the festivals, except that it was only for those worthy of it. He obviously was not.

Moving quietly around the birch trees, the woman looked away as he slipped out in front of her only five feet away. Her face was young. He guessed she was near his age. Her peachy skin looked soft, and just then she turned back looking at him with piercing crystal-blue eyes. The direct contact was exhilarating. It only lasted for seconds before she looked to the ground away from his stare. He felt in that instant as if lighting had struck his head and traveled down to the tips of his toes. For a moment he was a little dizzy and a swirl of colors flooded his mind.

He stood there looking down awkwardly at her, wishing that she would look up and say something. He searched for the words to fill the gap between them, but felt it would be better if he just left. But even the uncomfortable weight of standing near her felt better than leaving. The thought of leaving was almost unbearable.

“What’s your name?” He felt like his insides would burst making him shift his weight constantly.

Her dainty eyelashes flickered looking up at him quickly and then back to the ground. Her perfectly full pinked lips were pouted and motionless in a solemn sad state. He waited for her to say something, anything, but she didn’t. She sat there staring at the ground in her beautiful white dress.

He told himself to turn and walk away and even willed his feet to move, but he never did. Standing there waiting for her to speak was all he could do, even though he felt the fool for doing it. He shifted his weight again and his foot moved to catch a quick step.

“What does it matter what my name is?” Her eyes once again glanced up, but this time she looked to the top of the mountain before resuming her staring at the ground.

Beldagar looked to the mountain and then to all the banners and tents going up for the festival.

“Rose,” she said suddenly and quietly.

“Rose.” He repeated as if he had known the whole time. It was a perfect fit for her. He felt a strange tingle in his mind making him feel like he had stood here before.

She sat there like a statue and he stood there watching her. He could see the two of them in the small area of trees as if the world spun around their frozen figures.

“Did you come for the festival?” He knew this already, but could not come up with anything else to say. He knew that she was not from the village. The surrounding villages came for the festival of the mountain every three years. At previous festivals, he recalled seeing a line of women wearing the same white toga dresses with green leafy crowns. Holding candles in their hands with the flickering glow illuminating their faces. He remembered thinking that they were very beautiful, more beautiful than he had ever seen. But his mind had not really seen them or been affected in any way. Not like it was now.

“Don’t you know anything?” Rose suddenly barked angrily at him. She shifted her face slightly toward him.

He stood there silently for a moment absorbing her anger and weighed with all his apologies. He wished he had paid more attention to things, but his mind seemed too open to control.

“I’m not usually allowed to come to these things. The people that I stay with have a lot of things for me to do.” He searched for more words to try to excuse his lack of knowledge, but couldn’t come up with more.

She looked up to him. Her expression was not angry, which made him relax, but the deep sadness of her blue eyes made him want to crumble. She nodded slowly as if she understood. “They are not your family?”

He shook his head no and she took a deep breath.

After a second of watching her contemplate what he had said, she moved over a little bit and motioned him to sit next to her.

Sheer panic rushed up him as he thought about being next to her. Why would she allow him to be next to her? But his feet moved and sat down right beside her as if it was natural. She reached over and grabbed his hand. He didn’t know why she would do such a thing. “Did you know your family?”

He shook his head no again. “I was dropped off on their doorstep as a baby. With only my name to claim me, Beldagar.” He had imagined the scene so many times. Seeing his little cubby baby-self wrapped up in a blanket in a hand woven basket being placed on the small flat rectangle stone porch.

She mouthed his name and squinted her eyes. “I belong to the mountain,” she stated softly taking her eyes off the ground. She glanced quickly to him sending sparks up his spine.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t quite know. I just know that I will never come down off of it once they lead me up. No one who is prepared for the festival of the mountain ever comes back down.”

He sat there for a moment. Remembering the ladies dressed in their clothes holding candles. Their green wreath crowns with sheer veils made them seem heavenly. Suddenly, now a deep wrongness flooded him. What happened on the top of the mountain, if every three years they went up and never came down? A serious worry for her grew in his gut. He stood instantly. Rose jolted back a little by his instant movement. He felt sorry for his suddenness, but looked up at the grand mountain. The workers putting up the stands and tables now all seemed like the enemy.

“It’s probably best you go,” Rose piped in. “I’m not supposed to be around other people.”

He looked back at her almost unable to leave until he saw Thard’s stern face walking up to the area. He turned, looking at her one more time, and gave her a worried smile. “I’ll come back. I promise.” He felt the words stronger than anything he had ever felt before. Even his fears seemed small compared to his promise as he bolted away back home.

Chapter 4

[]The Mountain

 

Beldagar ran up the dirt path, jumping on the single stone porch and through the door. The Nag stood at the stove with mounds of vegetables around her.

“Oh, you’re here.” Her sarcastic relief rang clear. “Where did you decide to get lost to today? I need more wood and that means you get to cut it like you said you would last week, but as we can both see there is no more wood in here than there was before.”

Beldagar looked to the sidewall that was half full with wood.

“What happens on the mountain?” he blurted out trying to quickly stop any more of her complaining. He could tell his question caught her off guard as she half squinted eyes. It was true he wasn’t the questioning type or conversation type, or maybe it was his desperate voice.

“What happens on the mountain?” She shook her head at him. “What happens on the mountain?” She puffed the air out of her lips and turned throwing her hands up as she walked to the back of the kitchen.

“I need to know. A girl’s life might be in danger.”

The Nag turned back around with an unimpressed expression. “You will never know what goes on up the mountain. Only the holy and worthy go there. They do whatever they want with what goes up. I’ve heard that some they sacrifice and others go to the priests, and well we all know what happens there. What ever does happen, it doesn’t involve you.”

“Have you ever gone up?” His point was clear. She was far from holy and worthy.

“Every three years we send up crops, livestock, and the young and beautiful, to prevent our destruction. I wish that you were one of those.” She glared and construed her ugly face at him.

The problem with the Nag’s words was that he could not trust them. She lied and threatened so much that everything was far-fetched. He took a step back and stared at her, seeing her for the disgusting human she was. He had never really considered that he had any other choice than to help her, but something new pounded inside his chest. Today he felt different. He could feel everything changing as if his mind was all the sudden seeing everything for the first time.

He had no loyalty towards her. Everything tying him to her seemed to melt with every word she had said. It had all been indifference before this moment. It was the first time he felt like he could just leave, never come back, and no matter what, it would be a better outcome. The expression on his face must have set wrong with her because she squinted with suspicion.

“Wood.” She jerked her chin out towards the door.

There was no way he was going to chop wood for someone who had plenty of wood to use. He didn’t reply. He simply turned and bolted out the door past the wood cutting stump. The Nag yelled something after him, but he didn’t hear it.

For the first time, Beldagar felt like his heart was free and racing wildly within his chest. The green lush forest that he loved flew past his vision and he felt like his feet were barely touching the ground. For several minutes he reveled in this new feeling and vowed to keep it forever. He would finally be the master of his own destiny. The air whipped past his face until a bright green light glinted through the trees causing him to skid to a halt.

The light had been too low to be the sun. It almost seemed like a falling star, despite its color. He looked back to the place where the light had appeared and noticed the long indents in the ground from where he had stopped. He bent down and inspected the three-inch deep marks. He squinted and shook his head.

“Beldagar.” A soft voice suddenly whispered in the air around him.

He turned feeling a shiver down his back, but only the forest answered his vision.

“Beldagar.” The voice came again, but this time he could tell it came from the direction where he had seen the light. Slowly, he walked through the tall white birch trees to a meadow. The open space was scattered with grass and wild flowers. Beyond that nothing unusual could be seen in the area. The sun shined through warming his face. He let his head fall back while closing his eyes and behind them in his mind he could see Rose’s face clearly. It was etched there permanently. He let out a deep relaxing breath.

“Beldagar.” The voice was loud. He jumped slightly as he turned back toward the birch trees. He expected to see nothing again, but this time a tall dark black haired woman stood leaning against the trees. At first he thought he was going mad. He always heard voices, but now there was an actual person.

“Who are you?” He could hear the suspicion in his own voice.

The woman was tall and slender with a black velvet dress embellished with dark green satin. She stood staring at him with a strange light behind her emerald green eyes. Her slender face seemed familiar, the same way he felt Rose was familiar to him, like a picture painted in the back of his mind only illuminated in the moment. She had long black hair that reached all the way down her back.

She slightly jerked her chin and squinted at him.

He pulled his head back a little. “Do I know you?”

She eyed him and lifted her chin taking a deep calm breath. “Do you know who you are?”

Now he squinted hard. “Was that you who said my name?”

A small smirk climbed one side of her mouth. “Oh, Beldagar. You never change.” She stood straight and walked past him into the meadow. He followed her movement and turned around as she passed.

“Wait, how do you know my name?”

“I am here to help you, Beldagar,” she stated without answering his questions.

“Help me? How are you going help me?” His simple mindset couldn’t grasp anyone wanting to help him.

“Yes, help you.” Her eyes seemed genuine, but he still didn’t believe them. There was something about the sleekness of her face and the expressionless as she spoke.

“I will start by telling you the truth.”

This statement perked up his mind.

“You are special, Beldagar. You were placed here for a very special reason.”

Now a flood of questions came to him, but he hesitated.

“Don’t you have something important to do?” she asked him squinting her eyes.

Panic flooded his mind erasing all his questions. He noted she could obviously tell with her coaxing and lifting eyebrows.

“To save Rose?”

ROSE! He hadn’t forgotten about Rose, but now she filled his mind. “I have to save Rose. But who are you and how do you know Rose? Why are you helping me?”

She shifted her head slightly and stared at him. The slow coldness of her movements and piercing eyes made him want to turn his head from her gaze. He didn’t want to look directly at her. There was something overly intimidating about her, and yet it seemed natural as well. He watched her closely trying to figure out what about her was bothering him. She seemed calm and didn’t move or twitch a lot like he was.

“Don’t you want to save Rose?” She squinted at him waiting for him to reply.

“Well,” he started thinking just a little before answering, and wondering why she had not answered any of his questions. “I don’t know really if Rose needs to be saved,” he stated truthfully. “I don’t know what happens on the mountain.” He thought of all the horrible things said to him over the years about monsters on the mountain and sacrificing people to them. They were all just scare tactics, of that he had been sure, but now with the idea the Nag had added, of priests and those that go up, and never coming down. He had no idea what was truthful.

The lady widened her eyes and took a deep breath before continuing, “That is why I am here.”

Good, she’s going to answer some questions. He looked back to her waiting for more.

“I am here to help you save her.”

“How?” He paused, stuttering through the questions in his mind, “My…” he was going to say, “Mother.” It was the best explanation for her but in the end the word could not claim her. “The woman that I board from says that they sacrifice them to the gods in the mountain. That every three years they have to do this or horrible things will happen.”

The lady rolled her eyes. “There is no god in the mountain. It’s a great dragon.”

Beldagar drew his head back disbelieving, but hesitated. He had worked in the mines. He had seen and heard things that made him believe that such a thing like a dragon could live in there. Except for the fact that he was the only one who had seen and heard them.

“I have worked the mines most of my life. I would have seen a dragon.”

“Not this one.” She shied her head mysteriously from him. “He is calcified.”

“Calcified?” The word boggled his mind.

“He has become the mountain,” she continued.

“Become the mountain.” He looked at the stony peak above the tree tops. The mountain was majestic. He stood there not knowing or understanding what he was to do.

“Beldagar.” Her voice once again pulled his attention back. “Dragons are attracted to one thing.” She paused for a moment, building up the interest inside him. Her green eyes had a strange glow as she talked. She looked up to the mountain and her face looked calm. “They love gold and metals of the earth. They become part of them when they consume them. The iron seeps into the sinews of their armor. Copper is conducted into their organs and nerves.” Beldagar could feel his head go a little fuzzy as he imagined the monstrous beast fitted exactly the way she described. “Gold is a most precious and a pure metal that helps their blood to flow. They actually eat it and that is why gold looks so veined within the stone.” He looked to her listening to every word.

“When a dragon has hibernated for long enough without moving on its treasure trove, it begins to turn into stone.” He felt his own chest tighten with her words. “Its heart will still keep beating and consume its life source preserving its heart like an egg. Much like a Phoenix, it will have a rebirth. Its last heartbeat will turn into an egg full of life but trapped in the mountainous façade.”

She slowly and quietly looked up to the mountain. “You see that this one must have been large and curled up really tight, making the mountain cascade into the sky.” Her relishing voice echoed in his ears as she lifted her hand and waved it gently to the curve of the mountain. She paused and looked back at him with a heavy stare. He wanted to turn his face away. Instead he looked over her shoulder to the mountain, but she did not stop staring at him as she continued. “They have taken a lot of the precious stone from it and the life of the dragon can sense it.”

A rush of panic waved over him as he imagined a dragon waking and cracking the mountain in twain, causing it to fall onto the foothill village.

Her voice came again in almost a whisper, “You have two days until Rose goes up to the mountain, and if she does, she will never come down.” She stood so still that Beldagar could have sworn she was a statue. Her hair moved gently fanning with the wind, but beside that every feature of her was so motionless that a chill ran up his spine. He could hardly tell that she was breathing. “On top of that, they are getting close to the heart of the dragon.” Her voice was like the wind, chilling his arms and legs.

The thought of Rose leaving and never coming back again weighed like an anvil against his chest. This confused him; he had barely met her and talked to her, yet he felt unequivocally bonded to her.

“What am I to do?” Beldagar felt his chest tighten.

Her face seemed firm and tight. “I can help you.”

“How?” The word blurted out fast from his lips.

She squinted and one side of her smile curved up at his desperation. “I can give you the strength that you will need to take down the false priests of the mountain and save her from the waking dragon.”

“How?” His hands tightened and he clenched his eyes closed for a brief second.

She tightened her lips and he interpreted this as frustration. It was a normal reaction that he was used to from all those years with the Nag.

“I have magic.” Her eyes began to glow illuminating their emerald green color. It was in that moment that his heart fluttered and he felt like he was missing a very important facet of information. One that was staring him in the face and he couldn’t pinpoint.

“Who are you? And why would you do all of this for me?”

“I am a sorceress,” she admitted, walking a few steps away. “I have great power, but there are some things that I cannot do. I am cursed.”

Beldagar swung around her. “Cursed.” She seemed like a nice woman.

“There is a family. That lives twenty miles north of here.” She paused casting her eyes to the ground. “This…” She waved her hand in the air toward the top of the mountain and back to the foothill village. “…is all their doing. They have caused all this evil and must be stopped. I learned this and they cursed me to never be able to touch them. I have tried to warn others, but they do not believe and so every three years it all happens again.”

He stood there for several seconds digesting the story, but didn’t quite grasp it. “Why do they not live on the mountain?”

“They take all the gold from the mines and live a rich life and feed everyone the lies that make them work to their will. It keeps everyone in check. Don’t you see?”

Don’t you see? He repeated her question over in his mind. No, I do not see. He answered to himself thoughtfully. He felt unable to see and understand. He felt a thousand thoughts running through his head at all times demanding attention every second of the day. Familiar moments that reoccurred more than occasionally that stumped his mind. It wasn’t that these things were hard to grasp, he felt they had already been grasped and replayed over routinely.

“What must I do?” His response brought a small hopeful smirk to her face.

“I can give you the power to transform yourself into a great warrior. You will have the strength of a thousand men and the ability to scale the mountain in seconds. All that I ask is that you destroy the family that has done this to the people.”

At the word “destroy,” Beldagar’s stomach lurched and his eyes widened as a cough blustered out of his mouth.

“I know what you are thinking. It is a hard thing to ask. I cannot be free until they are dead and neither can the village or people.” She took both of his shoulders. “It is a heavy burden for you to bear.”

Beldagar took a few steps back from her grip and soaked in her request. He had to save Rose, and a dragon would soon awake killing all the people. But he could not kill. Could he? Just then he became more aware of the surrounding forest. He had played in it all his life. The leaves scattering the ground gently rustled and the smell of the tall firm pines filtered his senses. It was his only escape from his adoptive prison. His heart sunk at the thought of it being destroyed, even though he had no feeling for the people. They had never felt for him; they had hated him. Yet, he still felt sorry for their deaths. The sun was beginning to set drawing close to the mountainside. Soon the colorful sunset would blaze through the sky.

He looked at her firmly. “I want to know who you are and how you know me.”

She stared at him solemnly and slightly squinted. “I knew your mother.”

He sucked his breath in.

She had waited to reveal this at the right moment. “We were as close as two people could be and not be sisters. She had a vision about your birth and what influence you would have on the world, but she died in childbirth. She made me promise to place you in this town. She said it was important that you grew up here and lived next to this mountain. You were meant to save this village… and her.”

He knew she was talking about Rose, but still didn’t get how she was involved. “And Rose.”

“She’s your soul mate,” she said in a sad tone. “I have been watching you for your entire life. You’re important, Beldagar. You are meant to free this people and me. It was destined long before you were born.”

He looked up to find her walking back into the birch trees. Her figure glimmered in the fading sunlight and began disappearing before his eyes like a ghost. The wind picked up spinning the loose leaves in a torrent around her figure, and when they cleared falling to the ground, she was gone. “I will give you until the morning of the festival to answer me.” Her voice echoed through the air.

 

Chapter 5

[]The Dilemma

 

Beldagar ran as quickly as he could back to the village square right past his own house. He heard the Nag once again bellow out his name, but as far as he was concerned, he was absolutely done with her and her wretched household. His feet once again felt the freedom of speed and the wind whipping in his face.

As he neared the square, he skidded to a halt again and felt his feet dig deep into the earth. He looked back again seeing the ground fuzzily in his mind in black and white. And then in a blink of an eye the color returned making him slightly dizzy. The tents and wooden booths were almost all up and the banners and ribbons were starting to be hung.

Beldagar scoured the area looking for Rose. Several other young women could be seen wearing the same white toga dresses. He snuck around the perimeter of the celebration peeking into all the tents and areas trying to locate her. Finally, he caught sight of her entering into a canvas tent at the other end. He made his way around, avoiding Thard, who seemed to be moving about purposefully blocking all the easy routes.

After crawling in-between some of the tents he made it to the back of the one she was in. Softly he picked up the back of the thick tan canvas material and peeked in. She was once again sitting alone on a large wooden crate staring down forlornly at the ground.

“Psst.” He ducked up and down from under the canvas. “Psst!” With the canvas on his head and his end half still protruding out of the back of the tent, he knew he needed to get inside before being discovered. It would be difficult explaining his purpose. Rose seemed in an unbreakable trance. “Rose.”

Finally her head looked up confused and then over to the canvas wall squinting. He popped his head in more so she could see him. Her eyes widened at the sight of him. “What are you doing here?” Her voice was filled with worry and suspicion, but he could also see a little more light grow in her eyes.

“I’ve come to tell you that I can save you!” Beldagar heard his words and felt the hope and yet a deep worry penetrated his frame.

“No one can save me.” Rose tilted her head and lifted her eyebrows truthfully.

He wiggled all the way through into the tent and Rose looked a little skittish toward the tent opening.

“If someone finds you here we could both be in great trouble,” she warned him moving to a closer crate. The room was full of crates. Some were opened and had straw in them with ornate bowls and candlesticks. “If I am found with you alone like this, it could mean serious punishment. They will think that I have been…” She paused glancing at him embarrassed and shyly. “De-flowered and I will be expendable to them.”

Beldagar furrowed his brow at her. “You mean they will take away your name?” His mind could not grasp what she meant and her eyes widened. She waited there for a long moment in her frozen serious expression.

“Never mind,” she said quickly blinking several times.

“I can save you.”

She squinted hard wrinkling her nose, but allowed him to continue.

“I have run into a sorceress who has told me the truth about the mountain and the priests on top. It’s all a hoax.” He paused letting her envelope the news, but her face stayed stoic. “She says they worship the mountain because they think a god lives in it, but it’s not a god. It’s a dragon.” All the while he spoke he watched her expression. Her eyebrows furrowed as he continued. “She told me that it will soon wake, because of the miners in the mine. They have taken a lot of its gold from the mountain.”

Her perfectly full lips were pursed. “How does this save me?”

He shook his head getting to the point. “She said that she will give me the power to save you. She will give me the strength of a hundred, no a thousand men so I can save you.” His words rambled out and after hearing them himself, he only half believed them.

Rose blinked with her eyes wide several times at this.

He grabbed her hand and she gasped lightly at his touch and boldness. “I promise you I am not making this up. She appeared to me in the forest and disappeared before my eyes.”

“Why would she do this?”

Beldagar sat back a little feeling the heaviness return. “She is cursed. She says that there is a family,” his voice waivered. “There is a family that has cursed her and is the reason why we live the way we do. They keep us in ignorance and to feed their greed. I have to do something to release her and then she will give me the strength.”

“Do what exactly?” Rose’s voice was now suspicious. She jutted her chin out and squinted her eyes. He wished he had explained it differently. To admit what was being asked was deplorable and he didn’t want her to think badly of him for even considering it.

“She wants them dead.”

Shock widened her eyes and she pulled her hand away from him. Her head turned and again she looked to the ground.

“You would do that?”

He couldn’t tell is she was flattered or horrified. Beldagar shook his head. “No.” He sat back still shaking his head, but inside doubt filled him. He didn’t want to do it, but he also wanted to save her. “I don’t want to kill anyone. I want to save you.”

They stared at each other for a long minute and the problem seemed to grow between them in silence.

“If what they are doing is not right, isn’t it okay for them to die? To be able to release us all from a life that isn’t good?”

“I hear what you are saying. But, how do you know this is all true? How do you judge that?”

He thought on this for a second. The sorceress seemed genuine. She seemed truthful.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.” He took her hand again. “Maybe we could just run away.” The idea flooded him with elated hope. He could see the path before them clearly. He had the ability to live in the wild and take care of them. But would she agree to it?

“They will find us,” she stated simply. He smiled, mostly inside, at her not disregarding being with him.

But he also knew what she said was the truth making his feel instantly defeated. He imagined them being found and pleading that it was entirely his fault. That he had kidnaped her and made her come. They would kill him for such a thing.

“It’s selfish,” her soft voice spoke drawing him out of his worried thoughts. “Would you really sacrifice someone else’s life for what you want?”

The deplorable feeling that overcame him at the moment was almost unbearable. His gut sunk inside him making him feel dirty and unworthy to even be near her.

His mind flickered back to a portion of their conversation. De-flowered. The meaning popped into his mind causing him to shake his head that he had not understood what she had meant. “De-flowered!” He spoke randomly. “I get it!” Then he raised his hands defensively. “I would never do something like that.”

Her eyes blinked rapidly for a second and she sat silently.

He sat up on his knees looking her straight in the eyes. “I’m sorry.” He meant it whole heartily and was afraid of scaring her off. The scratchy grassy ground felt hard beneath him and he looked around the canvas tent that smelled a little musty. The wood from the crates smelled too, and he wanted in that moment to grab a handful of the straw to feel the texture.

“I am not normally this dense.” Which was not true, he was normally a very mindless person. “It’s not because I am not smart. It’s that everything around me is so familiar, so repetitious to my mind that I am confused on a daily basis about it. I feel like I have felt everything and seen everything before and that my mind is swirling around trying to make sense of it. Sometimes I fall short of paying enough attention to what is really going on around me.” He sputtered out his explanation so quickly that he feared she would dismiss him and leave.

She blinked several times squinting her eyes and then stared at the ground.

He began to lower his head with forlorn hope. Until her hand grabbed his and she knelt down next to him. “I feel the exact same way,” she admitted.

He shook his head feeling the electric validation shoot up his spine. He shifted his weight on his knees. It was the first time anyone had believed him. Her eyes beamed at him with such light and feeling he was afraid to blink and have it all disappear.

“What do I do?” he asked. If anything, he needed her wisdom. He needed for her to tell him what was right and wrong for this situation and what course of action to take.

“I don’t know.” She paused. “I don’t know that we can be happy based on another person’s destruction.”

“But what if they are bad? What if they are the reason so many girls have lost their lives and…” He paused, putting emphasis on the next words. “De-flowered.”

“I will not lie to you. I fear for my life. I don’t want to die.” Her voice broke slightly and her hand shook in his. “But I can’t with good conscious allow another to die especially if they are innocent.”

Beldagar shook his head understanding her view. Even though he felt the same, he could lose her. Her words continued in his head, It’s selfish.

“What if they are not innocent?”

He could tell she was debating and justifying the acts even if that were the case. “Then they are not innocent.”

Her answer left him with no resolve. With the concerned furrowing of her brow, he could tell she was in the same stuck place as he.

“Let’s think on this,” he interrupted their musings. “I will try to see if I can find out more about the family.”

She shook her head quickly.

“And I’ll meet you tomorrow night at the north end of the festival right when it becomes too dark for anyone to see us.”

She continued agreeing with him as he began to sneak back toward the canvas wall. She stopped him shy of it and gave him a single kiss on his cheek. The contact flushed his face instantly and he felt his heart pounding like a deep drum in his chest. He gave an embarrassed smile before crawling out.

Chapter 6

[]A Day of Decisions

 

The sun woke his eyes the next morning in the meadow that he had fallen asleep in. His stomach growled, physically moving his belly. It had been bad timing on his own part of leaving his home. He thought of how angry the Nag would be without the opportunity to yell at him, but now he had no food. It wasn’t a huge problem since he knew the land well. It took him little time to gather the natural nuts and berries of the forest.

His mind wrestled with the problems that faced the both of them. He had one day to decide. He thought of trying to go see the family in question, but even if he managed to steal a horse and ride it twenty miles north, he would be searching for a needle in a haystack. No, he couldn’t go wandering around looking for something and miss meeting Rose that night. Maybe he could inquire of some of the villagers about the family, but he wasn’t at all on good terms with any of them. The people detested him, and he didn’t quite know why. That all didn’t seem to matter now that Rose was there.

He walked back toward the village and made sure not to travel anywhere near his old home. He couldn’t imagine the fit the Nag would have if he did. The middle of the town boasted of energy and frivolity as the festival had begun. The next afternoon, Rose would be gone. He wandered around looking at all the games and goodies they had prepared. The livestock pens were full, ready for their trip up the mountain. A few more steps past the pigs and a large pair of feet appeared before him. He didn’t have to look up to know who they belonged to.

Slowly his eyes moved up the thick timber legs and green pants to the yellowed white shirt and suspenders of Thard’s stern bearded face. He was chewing on something and spit it out of the corner of his mouth.

“Why are you here?” his hard voice threatened.

For the first time in his life he was not afraid. “I have a right to be here if it’s where I choose to be.” Beldagar continued to glare right back at him without flinching. He expected Thard to hit him; it was his method of dealing with conflict, and at the same time he hoped he would. A strange strength and power pulsed inside his chest, waiting for the violence.

“You’re going to abandon the woman who supported your life?” His words spoke of a duty she had no right to claim anymore. She had never acted as a mother would towards a child, and he knew that well seeing the difference with her own children. He was just a burden to her and now he was relieving her of that burden.

“Just as much as I have decided to not be your punching bag anymore.”

Thard’s face flinched in anger but he didn’t move or budge. Beldagar could see the storm furrowing in his eyes. His face looked as if it would burst in half killing everyone around them, but he didn’t do anything. It must have been because of all the eyes watching, but due to his blatant undermining, Beldagar knew that he now had to watch his back. Thard walked past him as if he wasn’t even there, but before moving on he turned back. “Don’t think you will ever make it in this village.”

The words hurt, more than he wanted them to. This had been his home, he had gone through great lengths to protect and build it up, and now he had no place in it because he wouldn’t be their slave. Thoughts of burning the whole thing to the ground sounded justifying. A dragon tearing it to pieces sounded even better.

He didn’t know what to do or where to go. He couldn’t make it up north, he couldn’t go to work, he couldn’t build a home there, and he needed to stay away from Rose and meet her in secret. Now that there wasn’t anything for him to do, his ideas of lazing the day about seemed daunting. Doing anything was better than nothing.

He found himself on his feet walking north out of the village. The steps he was taking were all new. He had hardly ventured far from the village boarders. There had never been a day that he received time off from his work. Even when he was sick he was yelled at and accused of being a liar. He could be on his deathbed and a broom would be hitting him on the way out the door. Now that no one was pushing him anywhere, he didn’t feel a reason to leave, and yet he was walking away. His feet made a shuffling noise against the hard dirt road. He didn’t even know how long it would be to the next village.

Just then a wagon appeared on the road. Beldagar raised his hand hailing the rider to stop and the wheels clattered to a halt. A very odd skinny man with thin scruff on his face peered down at him through the dark shadow of his wide brimmed hat. His eyes had a strange glare like an animal’s eyes in the night.

“Sir,” Beldagar spoke thinking that his face looked horribly mean. “I was wondering if you have heard of a family living just north of here.”

The wagon man held his stern face and looked forward to the road ahead. For a moment, Beldagar wondered if he was going to speak and expected that he would strike the reins of his horses and move along without a word.

“I had just heard of them and wondered what they were like,” Beldagar continued realizing after he had said it that it sounded ridiculous.

Finally the man opened his mouth showing ugly rotted teeth. “Nobody goes to see the family.” His words were firm and with them he flickered the reigns and continued forward.

Beldagar staggered away from the moving wagon. The family, he questioned in his mind. Nobody sees the family.

By the sound of them, they didn’t seem very neighborly and warm, especially if nobody was allowed to see them. It made him wonder what the odds of actually being able to see them if he managed to make it there. He stood peering across the road looking down both directions. He could continue forward just to turn back later. The wagon continued its slow rattling away. He didn’t want to start walking back just behind the wagon. He didn’t want the driver thinking he had given up. Which he had, but the illusion was needed for his pride.

After waiting a couple of minutes, he decided he couldn’t just give up. He began again up the road that snaked through the tall pines. For a moment everything seemed light and airy, but his mind always wandered back to Rose and his problem.

For a brief second his vision went black and white again losing all the color of the earth. As he picked up his foot, he was no longer wearing his boots but a strange pair of strappy leather sandals and he was dressed in draping strange clothes. In that instant, his very surroundings were transformed.

Heat began to radiate from the ground flushing his face. Sweat dripped down his head and he quickly wiped it clean with his arm. Sand flooded out of his sandals covering the ground making the forest scenery disappear. He lifted his feet feeling the weight. The trees fell to the ground with the force of the sand and large hills sand sprung up. The sun clung to the height of the sky pushing down on him. He sheltered his eyes and noticed his hands and arms were dark, calloused, and scabbed.

The harsh hot wind blew through him, making it hard to breathe. In the dust filled air he saw a woman’s figure. A sweet voice echoed with the wind and he saw her eyes. The sparkling blue eyes were the only color among the golden sand. Rose. He saw her perfectly.

He turned around and instantly clay brick walls rose up towering over his head. The alleys were narrow and he could hear the buzzing sounds of people moving and talking in a marketplace. He began to tepidly walk down the hard dirt alleyway, but always found another wall with another alley. Small square windows stood at the top of the tall brick buildings, but he swore there were shadowed figures looking down at him just out of sight within the protecting walls.

The buzzing grew louder and louder as his steps quickened, but more walls always answered. He began running, coaxing himself that the end would come. Just then a scream sounded out stopping him instantly. Rose. It was her voice. His heart was vibrating in his chest.

In a quick blink, the strange vision was gone. The trees and earth were back to normal. He felt his head go fuzzy and his vision swirled as the color burst back into view. He stopped holding his head and shook it several times. What was going on? He was going crazy, but he had thought that his entire life.

Suddenly a shuffling sound came from ahead. He instantly jumped off the path and behind the trees. Just after doing so he wondered why. Just around the bend he caught sight of someone walking toward him. As the person came closer, he could see it was a woman, just older than he was and carrying a large bushel of sticks. She was very plain with thin brown hair that fell down past her shoulders. There was something familiar about her, but he couldn’t quite pinpoint it, something about the shape of her face or some small detail that he scanned for. He walked out to the road just as she came upon the spot where he was hiding.

She jumped back a little, but then scowled at him, “What er you doing? Trying to scare me to death?” Her voice was angry as she continued to walk.

“I’m sorry,” he pleaded. “I was just headed up the road looking for someone. Could you help me find them?” He noted her slender soft long arms, finding them out of place for someone who carried loads of sticks everywhere.

She stopped and looked at him, annoyed.

“I’m looking for the family.” He used the same emphasis that the wagon man had used hoping that it would signal exactly what he wanted.

Both her eyebrows shot up toward the sky. “The family. You are going to see the family.”

Her use of the emphasized phrase made his mind swirl; it was an odd way of talking about someone. It was so impersonal. He could have been talking about any family. But obviously there was just the family. It was not the family of the Glen, or the family Smith; it was just the family. Beldagar shook his head, clearing his confusion.

“Yes, I am. Could you tell me where to find them?” Beldagar looked ahead.

She squinted and puckered her lips. “You do not go see the family unless the family summons you and in that case,” she paused glaring at him, “you are taken to the family.”

The obstacle instantly dampened his resolve. “Why?” He could feel his temper rising. This was unbelievable to him.

She stood blatantly disregarding him. “You’re obviously not worthy. So you couldn’t possibly understand.”

His mind swirled at her statement. Not worthy… Did this have everything to do with the mountain and the festival?

She shook her head pitifully at him, and he swore he saw a glint of something in her eyes before she turned and continued down the road toward his own village.

Beldagar stood there for several minutes watching her pass. His mind was preoccupied with their conversation and his gut feelings were suspicious. He stared at her trying to pinpoint what he didn’t like or thought was familiar. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes several times feeling a pounding headache coming on.

Now he couldn’t even get help finding the family. More and more he had to consider that they were just what the witch had said. He turned back walking away from his course. What choice did he have? No one was going to help him. He had no idea where to go, but even with all these thoughts he felt like a failure. He felt like he was giving up and that didn’t sit well with him.

As darkness blanketed the sky and the shining crystal stars began to appear, he made his way over to the north side of the festival. Under one of the big pines, he stalked the base of it waiting for Rose to come. His mind was worse than ever as the flood gates of questions penetrated all his attention. He didn’t even hear her sneak up until she grabbed his shoulder, scaring the breath right out of his chest.

“Ah!” He spun around noting the worried expression plastered on her face. “I’m sorry.” He chanted several times while leaning an arm against the thick barked tree catching his breath.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.” Her blue eyes were honestly sincere and he couldn’t imagine them ever doing anything wrong.

“No.” He shook his head and stepped closer to her. “I was just not paying attention.”

She nodded understanding. “Did you find out anything out?”

He shook his head sorry that he hadn’t tried more. “No, I had no way of getting to them. I did travel up the road and asked about them.”

Her eyes widened, waiting for more information.

“I ran into a man and a women. I asked them both about the family.” He paused like an utter failure. “He said that no ones goes to see the family.” He added extra emphasis on the ending words to make it seem bigger, even thought that’s how he had perceived them.

“No one sees the family.” She looked at the ground with furrowed brows. “How would they even know what you were talking about unless they really were something great?”

“But we still don’t know anything about them.” His statement made them both hunch despondently.

She went to speak, but stopped shy of saying anything.

They both stood there in silence for a moment. “What about the woman?”

“She was the same, except even worse. She said no one sees the family unless you are summoned, and in that case you are taken to them. She said that I couldn’t understand because I was not worthy.”

“Worthy?” The word shocked her as well. “I’m worthy!” Rose balled her fists. “I have no idea about any of this. I’m going up the mountain! You are just the same as the rest of them all.”

He felt her anger and hopelessness. “What should I do?” He looked to her hoping for the knowledge to decide what was right.

“I don’t know.” Her temper simmered.

He took her small hand. He needed for her to tell him what to do. “I can’t let them take you.”

“You can’t kill to have what you want,” she stated clearly. “Even I can’t bear that consequence.”

“Maybe I can talk to the sorceress and she will let me see the evil of the family first.” He was reaching for anything to fix the situation. “I can’t lose you again!” he begged.

Rose jerked her head back squinting at him. “What do you mean?”

He shook his head, which felt fuzzy again. “I don’t know. I’m sorry. I’m going to figure this out. You must trust me.”

Her eyes were filled with more than worry. “I do.”

He stood wishing her answer had been more hopeful. He already felt a lack of confidence. He kicked himself for not continuing forward earlier, sure all his excuses were true, but that didn’t mean he shouldn’t have tried to the very last possible minute. He felt as if he had let her down.

As he turned to leave, the moon lit meeting he felt her hand stop him. He turned back just as she took a small step forward and raised herself on her tippy toes. Beldagar sucked in his breath as she came so close, there were only a few inches between their lips.

“Are you going to kiss me?” Her voice was soft and her lips gently pressed with the innocent intentions. His arms gently grabbed hers and as much as he wanted to sweep her up with the moment he felt frozen in time.

“I’m afraid,” he fully admitted.

She looked down. “Why?”

“Because if I don’t succeed. I don’t think I will ever be able to live with myself.”

She stepped back as an awkward tension built between them. “I understand. I can’t ask you to do what will bring more harm to yourself.”

His heart was breaking; she turned and began to walk back to the festival camps. He wanted to stop her. He wanted to do everything possible to be with her and save her life and do the right thing, but his heart sunk with the heavy reality that it might be impossible.

Chapter 7

[]The Family

 

All night long Beldagar struggled to sleep. Often he found himself awake laying under the stars, just staring into the dark glittering abyss. He couldn’t shake Rose’s face from his mind, but it changed. She would always have the same blonde springing curls and full pink lips and crystal blue eyes, but the length of her hair would change, the clothes she wore were different. For one second they would be in the desert sands or the by a vast ocean. The same love sparkled in her eyes.

He encountered her for the first time again and again, feeling the same pulling attraction. Fascination lit his mind every time he saw her face. Then it all changed, and he experienced her pain and worry over and over again. In seconds he could see her dying in so many ways. Then the view changed from his to hers. He could see himself dying and her holding him with deep tears rolling down her face. The view changed again and he held her dead body in his arms.

His soul began to crush inside his chest. He could feel his heart clambering against his ribs sending pain down every limb. The pain collapsed him to the ground next to her. He struggled to breathe and felt each last beat of his heart before it stopped pulsing in his chest.

In that exact moment his green eyes began to glow and his consciousness felt pulled out of his body. The next thing he knew, he was trapped within a strange pink liquid bubble. He reached out his hand that looked opaque and pulled it back in surprise when he realized it was the hand of a baby in the womb.

Beldagar woke up holding his chest, which was searing in pained just like in his dreams. The sun was barely peaking over the horizon. The clouds were streaking across the sky. It was the day of his decision and he still had no idea what to do. He couldn’t kill them without Rose’s view of him dampening. She could never see him the same if she knew what he had done.

Just then the wind picked up swirling around him. It began to quicken, drawing up all the leaves and dirt. Beldagar shielded his eyes peaking out at the torrent. Then in an instant it was all dispelled blasting into him.

The sorceress stood in its wake enveloped in her green glow. Her eyes pierced him with a strange wonder.

“What is it, Beldagar? What have you chosen?” Her words echoed in the air and in his mind.

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to do.” He shook his head. “I can’t kill them. I don’t even think I could do it if they were what you say they are, but I can’t let Rose die.”

She didn’t say anything but simply stared at him.

“Can I see the family for myself? Can I make sure they are what you say they are?”

Her face remained firm and expressionless. “The only way you can do that is on your own. I cannot take you there. I am cursed. I cannot go near them. You would have to do it on your own and they are inaccessible except for with the strength that I promised you.”

He started mulling through this information. He could always use the sorceress’s strength and see if they were bad and if they weren’t he could give it back. Or maybe he could still use it to save Rose, and then give it back and find another way to help the sorceress. He thought hard on the consequences of deceiving her, but what other choice did he have?

“Okay,” he spoke and felt instantly sorry he had done so. Inside he felt a wave of panic. Over and over again his conscious spoke for him to revoke the statement.

Her eyes slightly flinched, but her expression remained calm as she reached into her cloak and pulled out a dark vile of liquid. “You must drink this,” she stated as she handed it to him.

He reached out and she withdrew the vile from him. “You must do this with your own free will. No one can have coerced it upon you.”

His heart skipped a beat with the pressure. He took a step closer feeling in his heart that he shouldn’t do it. A great heaviness weighed on him. Everything was happening too quickly; there was no moment for consideration and thought. There had to be another way, but all he could see and feel was Rose’s death upon him. The inevitability of it was certain in his mind. If he didn’t do something she would lose her life.

He took the vile while studying the sorcerer’s face. She was so calm, yet her eyes were lit with anticipation. He didn’t fully trust her. His connection to her felt strange and familiar, but there was no explanation for it.

He tipped the vile and dumped the thick nasty liquid down his throat. It tasted like tar and ash. The second it hit his stomach the pain began swelling within him. Instantly, he felt sick and collapsed, doubling over.

His eyes blurred in and out as he saw the thick welts growing and blackening his skin. He lifted his hands and watched as they grew, doubling in size. His fingers thickened and long black talons grew off the tips of them. His arms and skin continued to welt with a strange red glowing beneath it. The skin expanded and thickened. The surface became like volcanic rock—hard and ashen with cracked red burning lava flowing in-between. He screamed in agony.

The ribs in his back broke penetrated his skin. They shot out and lengthened expanding out of his back. Turning his head was excruciating as he saw large wings unfold off of the bones. His legs burned bursting into greater size. The ripping and tearing of his bone and flesh vibrated throughout his entire body. Suddenly, his feet burst from his shoes and once again long claws curled at the end of them. His screams that echoed in the air became less of his own voice and more of a raging beast.

His hands flew to his face feeling it flatten and lengthen. His fingers grabbed clumps of his hair that fell out and sizzled to the ground; in their place, large knobs began to grow out of his head. There was no strength within him to hold back the cries as the ripping pain seared through his head. Reaching back, he grabbed one of the curved horns.

Finally, he completely collapsed, panting against the ground as the pain stopped and his lungs filled with invigorating air. The earth crumbled beneath his weight. When he had regained his strength, he stood slowly. As he stretched out, his height was to the treetops. Strength coursed in his arms and as his wings expanded they knocked through the trees cracking a few in half.

He looked down to the sorceress. Her eyes glowed emerald green with a darkly tinted pleased smile upon her face. “You’re magnificent.”

At first a whole slew of beastly growls cried down at her. He grabbed his throat feeling his vocal cords and stared down coldly at her.

“Just calm your mind and the words will come,” she commanded.

A deep heavy breath seethed out of the slanted nostril holes on his face. Leaves from the ground blew from his breath. He took a few seconds just to breathe. “What have you done?” His voice was now deep and strong.

“I’ve set you free.”

Beldagar stumbled back seeing her insanity for the first time. He turned to run and crashed into the forest. Everywhere he turned he could not escape without destroying the area. With a strained glance, he looked around at the snapped trees. Then his head tilted naturally upward and the sun blinded his eyes. Instinctively, his long wings flapped open causing the forest air to move around him. He could feel the muscles running up and down his back. He worked to continue the movement and he felt himself lift from the ground. The extending sensation felt good, like stretching sore muscles. He pushed off the ground and instantly his wings flapped drawing air beneath them. The weight of the world melted out of him the higher he went.

Beldagar flew through the air soaring above the trees casting a long shadow on the ground. He thought for a quick wicked moment of landing at the heart of the festival and tearing it to shreds. He could take Rose and fly away, but imagining Rose’s face afraid and screaming due to his horrendous form kept him flying north. It had been so easy to take off. It was as if his new body already knew what to do.

It wasn’t long until he found a large meadow and canvas tent. He quickly flew over and landed just north of the place. Landing was a little harder than taking off. After cracking a few trees by just landing, he knew it would be difficult with his large figure to sneak up to gain any observing access to them.

He tried crouching to the ground, but the attempt was worthless. He stood out at least ten feet from the ground, and that was with him trying. He stood huffing out the dirt. Sudden voices came through the trees. “No, I swear it came this way,” a young girl’s voice echoed towards him.

“There is no such thing as dragons.” A young man’s voice huffed out and then he moaned, “Father said we are not to travel far past the perimeter.”

“It was large with wide black wings. It soared overhead and then crashed to the ground. That was what that noise was.”

“No, it was just trees falling in the woods. That happens, you know, and they do make sounds.”

“No,” her small voice was forceful. “It was a dragon and I saw it.”

Looking through the trees he could barely see the two figures. The little girl had to be around six and the boy was older, around ten. They marched through the trees directly towards him and his body stiffened. He tried not to move or breathe, but the truth froze him in place. There was no hiding.

Looking around, he searched for anything that could shelter him from view, but there was nothing that could do the job. In the same moment, a shrill scream echoed through the air. Beldagar looked back to see the young girl pointing and screaming straight at him. The boy’s eyes were wide with alarm as he froze at the sight. The young lad quickly grabbed her arm and began yanking her away. They both took off toward the family camp.

“It’s a dragon!” he screamed.

Panic continued to encompass his mind. He had been hoping for a less obvious entrance, but then he started after the two children breaking all the trees along the way. The children stumbled as they looked back over their shoulders. He had no intentions of hurting them, but this would be a good way to get a look at the rest of the family in action.

Soon the great meadow opened up and several adults flew to the children’s aid pulling them out of the trees. Beldagar sprung into flight soaring over their heads and landing on the other side of their canvas tent. Two older children rushed out from beneath the shelter and stared in shock and horror.

An older son stepped with trepidation, unsheathing a great sword that was still larger than his grip. Just behind him, who Beldagar could only guess was his father, unsheathed another great sword and motioned for the women to go back into the trees.

“Cal, don’t attack it.” The father spoke to the older boy.

The son only responded by standing in his guarded position without moving.

Beldagar looked down at each family member. Fear overwhelmed their expressions as he looked at the lot of them. Then he realized they weren’t wearing expensive clothing. Their home was not a grand palace, but this didn’t mean anything. They could be just traveling or enjoying the outdoors. He looked deep into their eyes in hopes of feeling and seeing their deep-rooted evil, but all he saw was a man defending his family.

Beldagar shook his head and looked back towards his own home and Rose. Maybe just killing one of them would work. A rush of sickness swelled inside his stomach at the thought. He clenched his eyes shut as the image of Rose’s dead figure appeared against the grey mountainside with her crown of ivy in her hand. His heart pounded and his knees trembled.

Beldagar stooped down and looked the son in the eyes. He expected to see fear and reservation in the young lad, but he didn’t. There was the rush of adrenaline in his eyes, but there was something else as well. A great spark of light seemed to glint back at him. Cal’s blue eyes beamed with a strength that made Beldagar want to shrink away. He is just a kid, Beldagar reminded himself and as he looked to the father the same spark was there as well. He looked to each of them noting the same thing in all of their eyes.

“She has sent it, Liehr, he is here to kill us!” the wife yelled while backing the younger kids into the woods. “Kill the monster.”

Her words drummed up Beldagar’s ears. They knew of the sorceress. They knew she would send someone. He instantly crashed forward aiming for the son, but his small figure quickly rolled and dodged around him easily. Beldagar blinked several times trying to catch sight of him again, but instead he twisted his figure back and fastened his eyes on the father. The two large steps it took to snatch him should have been fruitless due to the response of his son, but he didn’t flinch and stood still allowing Beldagar to grab him. He wrapped his large hands around him and plucked him off the earth.

“Take the family,” the father yelled back toward his sobbing family. “Save them, you know what is at risk.” His last words were choked out as Beldagar grasped him tightly. Beldagar roared furiously in the air, but his intentions were to actually question him. He had to calm down in order to talk. Beldagar swung around knocking down the tent as the son escaped to the huddled family, who began their backwards retreat while watching in horror.

Beldagar tried orienting himself, tried to calm down so he could speak, but in the end the looks on the family members’ faces prevented such emotions. He had to escape. With a quick jump he lifted into the air. The higher he went the better it would be, he convinced himself. The clouds would hide him.

He looked down at the man, Liehr, his face wrenched with pain, but he did not struggle. He had given himself to protect his family. Beldagar shook this from his mind. It doesn’t matter. I have to do his. I can just fly really high and then let go and not see it happen. Then it would be done and I wouldn’t have to… He stopped himself from planning it out, not wanting to finish his thoughts. I will just do it.

The truth shook inside him as he went higher and higher, pushing with all his might to the top of the clouds where only the sun lived. He looked down at the man. His eyes were filled with pain, hopelessness, but also shining light that beamed like rays of glory. For a quick moment they were connected and the man spoke, “Don’t believe her lies. She will only hurt you. Whatever she has promised it will turn against you.”

Beldagar looked away, his eyes blinding in the sun, and screamed out Rose’s name which only translated to a horrible groan. In the same moment he released his grip and let him slip out of his hand. Liehr’s last words echoed in his mind as the sounds of his cries filled the air.

Beldagar’s heart burst shaking his body. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the screams. Pain and regret surged through his head as the long seconds between them passed. I have to do it for Rose, he told himself again and again. The simple seconds seemed to last forever as the damning tension shot up and down through his body.

Instantly Beldagar dove down. He couldn’t kill him. The panic constricted his chest and rushed his movement. He tightened his body shooting after the flailing figure like a falling star. Liehr’s face was clenched as he spun helplessly in the air. The ground seemed to be coming quicker than anticipated. They would have to slow down or they would both be crushed into the ground. Fifty feet before the ground, Beldagar reached out in haste, barely grabbing Liehr’s leg. The man stopped screaming as he extended his wings and jerked them both upright just as they hit the ground.

Beldagar felt the man’s leg crack in his hand. Shrill cries came from Liehr as he reached up grabbing his own leg from Beldagar’s grip. Beldagar floated them down gently with his wings and then gently laid Liehr down. He grabbed his leg instantly as uncontrollable cries came from him. The family carefully and quickly rushed up toward their father, but stopped fifteen feet shy. Beldagar turned his head away; as he did so the family came from the trees moving closer to obtaining their broken, but very much alive family member.

Chapter 8

 

[]The Story and the Lie

 

Beldagar flew away, far away, weighted with what he had done. His mind was flustered with the anguish of his actions. He knew that the man would be lamed from his rescue attempt. The sounds and feelings of his leg breaking in his hand crunched repeatedly in his ears. How could I have done it, he thought over and over again. Their scared faces flashed guiltily in his mind and then Rose came to the forefront of it all.

He felt his strength leave him and slowly he descended to the ground. His clawed foot reached down to break his landing, but it crumbled under him and he crashed, harrowing through the earth. He laid in a disheveled heap puffing out the dirt and pain though his nostrils. Every part of him felt weighted down as his mind sunk into despair.

“Beldagar.” He recognized the sorceress’s voice, but didn’t even bother to heed her.

Suddenly, he felt his chest cracking in two. He screamed again as the agonizing process began and his bones broke reducing his size. Everything on him went back to normal. The searing pain lasted for only minutes but felt like hours. His growls changed to human screams and in the end he laid in the rubble earth naked, cold, and exhausted. He couldn’t move even if he tried.

The sorceress’s feet stood before his face. Her emerald velvet shoes with sparkling jewels glinted in his eyes. A flash of images coursed through his mind. He could see his eyes glowing the same emerald green, but in a baby figure in the sorceress’s arms. It skipped through years of growing and then he felt an ultimate heaviness. A depression sunk in his veins as the green glow encompassed him blinding his mind and memories. He furrowed his brow trying to make sense of it all.

“Beldagar.” Her voice was forceful and cruel.

He cocked his head up to see her just as she threw down clothes. He reached up and dragged the clothes from his face. “Who are you?”

“Have you not remembered yet?” Her voice was cold and malicious.

“I see you holding me as a baby.”

She lifted her eyebrows unimpressed. “I thought I had lost yesterday when you almost kissed her,” she admitted pursing her lips firmly.

He squinted not understanding.

“You are my son,” she proclaimed. “I put you on that door step. I have put you on thousands of doorsteps.” She exaggerated, but her anger was deep. He could feel it in the earth as the ground shook under his hands.

He sat up and threw the shirt over his head and pulled on the trousers. “What?” He felt as if he lost his breath.

“I have been fighting for you to take my deal for centuries.” Her voice grew louder and angrier. She turned and walked a few steps away before flipping around.

“Who are you?” His question was no longer cordial. He could sense the darkness in her. He stared at her and waited for it all to be revealed; as he did so a shimmer of light cast over her face. Her skin flickered with illusion. Her skin was less porcelain and more pale. Dark vein like shadows hollowed around her eyes.

“Versaius.”

The name rang in his head signaling that what she said was true. “Why would you do this to me?” He felt his heart breaking as he now recognized her emotionless expression as cold and uncaring. Why hadn’t he seen?

“So you would finally follow the path that I intended for you. If it wasn’t for the flower girl of yours.” Her voice was venomous. Her dark green glow encompassed her leaving a thin line of darkness around her.

“You did all of this to make me do what you wanted?” The anger welled up in his voice. “And what do you mean I have been doing this for centuries?”

“I cursed you.” Her voice was casual, but became deep.

He could feel the ground shudder. His eyebrows slanted together, “This monster you made me is a curse.”

“Yes, but that wasn’t the first curse I put on you.” A dark shadow covered the land. Beldagar looked up, it was a strange darkness and yet he could still see the sun. “Long ago your confounded Rose deterred you from following through with the path I had for you.” Versaius lifted her hand and the empty vile appeared in it.

Beldagar swallowed remembering the taste.

“You don’t know what it took for me to procure it from the seat of death.” She closed her eyes tiredly and then opened them, glaring at him with a renewed hate. “Rose made you weak and stupid. Which is something I can tell has never worn off.” Her hateful tone struck him to the very core. “I cursed your life to reincarnate until you decided to follow me. I didn’t know, however, that I would be caught up in the curse as well.” She stared cruelly down at him.

“And Rose as well. I guess soul mates take their lot together. Every time you have died, Rose dies not too far after. Each time you are planted again within my womb, and I must birth you all over again and find a home for you, because you have proven time and time again to disobey sooner and sooner each time when living around me. Your memory comes back more quickly and it has been a tricky web to untangle before you remember. But now I don’t have to worry about that; you have made the deal and will do what I ask until I’m dead.”

He stared off into the distance. Now he understood that his freedom and his mother’s death were intertwined. Her words seemed to fill him, weighing him from ever moving again. “And Rose?”

She paused and continued to glare. “Maybe Rose can live on now and finally die a good death. You both have been born and reborn so many times, all at the same time. And no matter where you are placed in the world your paths always cross. Always merge together and it’s this meeting that ignites your memories for each other. Your lives usually end shortly after that meeting.”

Beldagar stood unable to come up with words. He didn’t even know if he should believe her, but he couldn’t doubt that he felt universally connected to Rose. “What about the family?”

Her eyes flickered to him and then to the north. “I knew you wouldn’t be able to kill them, but at least you managed to lame one of them.”

“Who are they?”

“They are my business. I’m sure you will figure out the details when your memory returns.”

Beldagar stared at his supposed mother unable to believe her. He didn’t know what to say or do, but just stand there hopelessly while begging that it was all just a bad dream.

“What happens now?”

Versaius honed her cruel stare at him. “Now Rose goes up the mountain.” She enjoyed this thought. It was plain on her face.

He couldn’t understand what he could have done to make her hate him so. “Please.” The words flowed out of his mouth. “Please let me save her. I will go with you. I will do what you ask, just let me save her.”

Versaius flinched faintly. “You will already come with me. You will already do what I say.” She lifted her hand and her green light encompassed him seizing every part of his body. He tried to fight back against it, but every limb and muscle was frozen; even his breath seemed strained. “You have made the deal. You are mine and will serve me, even if my power has to make you do it. Sooner or later, you will fall in line and learn the easy way. My power is not restricted from you. You were meant to be my greatest weapon and you became my greatest disappointment, but now you will do what I need you to do.”

With the slightest twinge of her fingers, he felt as if a thousand knives penetrated his skin. He yelled out still frozen from any movement. He looked at her face and her carless stare was more tired and tedious of the task than anything. “Don’t try to fight me, son.” She scanned him closely. “My power has been built since the beginning of time. There is no stopping it.”

She jerked her arm back and the nearby trees burst in half shattering to the ground. As she widened her mouth, which seemed to be a black hole, a shrill sound echoed out and the earth seemed to moan and crack beneath her power. More of the trees shattered to the ground.

Her scream pierced his ears, making his head feel as if it would explode. He could feel fluid draining from his ears. Darkness flooded the area and her appearance changed. The skin around her eyes veined with visible darkness and her skin took on the green glow. Her hair flailed through the air as it spun in a torrent around them. He felt stretched from limb to limb.

Her voice vibrated through the air. “You will never leave again.”

For a moment he shuddered under her weight and then when he thought of Rose something changed. He could feel his willpower rise within him, pushing through to endure the pain. Suddenly, with all of this fight, his body began to shake and vibrate. Her eyes suddenly became very fixed upon him. Her storm swirled down and ceased dropping her hair naturally against her back as she continued to study him. Indignation built behind his heart as he struggled against the pressure. “I will fight you every step of the way,” he stuttered as he managed to spit out the words.

His movement against her power was no more than quaking, but her eyes flinched darkly at him. With another flicker of her fingers he fell full force to the ground. He landed face in the dirt and released gasps of air. Sweat dripped off his head as the sweet feeling of release flooded where the pain had tortured him.

Her eyes relaxed slightly. “Fine. I will give you until midnight tonight, but if you cross me, I’ll kill her myself.”

Her threat against Rose was real. He felt his shoulders relax instinctively as the pressure seethed out of him. He could feel the natural hate build inside him. He calmed his mind; I can at least save her. He coaxed himself to back up from the area. “I can at least save her.” He spoke relieved.

“I wouldn’t be too sure,” Versaius continued.

“What?” He looked up confused, wondering what he had missed.

With an evil spark of dark fortune she answered, “The dragon will wake today.”

Chapter 9

[]The Plan

 

Beldagar raced barefoot through the forest straight towards the festival. With the sun rising to high noon, it would be only hours before Rose would be led up the mountain, and at the same time a dragon waking within it. Every racing step felt propelled with great strength. He thought briefly that it was his new curse, but his mind awakened. He recalled the strange, deep divots in the dirt after his exerted running and his ability to shut his mind off from anyone around him.

He was the child of a sorceress, so some of her power had to have rubbed off. What if there was strength within that he didn’t even know of? His mind mulled around until it and flashed back to the current problem. If only he could reach Rose and tell her everything first. Tell her that he would save her and to watch for him, watch for the new him. Then he could try to divert the dragon from waking and then fly up the mountain and put an end to their traditions. He breathed fast as the plans flew through his head step by step.

He bolted through the village and down one of the dirt walkways. The music filled his ears making the agitation grow even more. He caught a quick glimpse of the festival banners and dancing movement as he passed the last few houses. Then, he rounded the corner and saw the festival in full glory. The entire area was littered with ribbons and banners. Canvas tents and booths were open selling baked goods and pottery. The pens were filled with sheep, goats, and pigs.

At the center of it, all of the ladies in white togas danced as they held hands in a circle. They all wore their leafed crowns and the people cheered while bustling around the area. Children dodged in front of him waiving long ribbons on the end of sticks. Beldagar stood still watching the girls dance. They all had the same somber expression and looked completely unison except for their natural differing features. There were three blonds, but Rose was the only one of them with curly hair. All of their hair stretched down their backs. Their white pleated toga dresses and soft features made them look angelic. If he had not known their fate, he would have been cheering and celebrating with the rest of the village.

He had always thought that his first time at the event would be the biggest highlight of his life. Now it was all tainted with the truth. He watched as Rose moved in the circle with the other girls, despondent and aware of her fate. A glimmer of bittersweet happiness swept over him knowing that she would live.

Around them, the villagers looked on as if they were heavenly beings. The men’s stares seemed ravenous and blood thirsty, then Beldagar caught Thard’s eyes. The tall brooding foreman was staring straight at him with deep hostility. He didn’t understand the hate the people of the village had for him, but as the commotion of the village spun around him a searing pain shot through his head again.

With both hands clasped on the sides of his head, the voices spun like a whirlwind, pounding inside his mind. In that same moment he saw the villagers’ eyes turn a glowing emerald green. Their faces deformed and mutated. He shook his head trying to dispel the distortion of their hideous faces, but he couldn’t. It was all her. His mind spun over the unbelievable concept. The whole time his own mother had devastated every second of his life. He couldn’t grasp why she hated him so much. What he could have done to deserve so much retaliation?

Then he caught sight of Rose. A white light glowed around her, illuminating her porcelain skin. She looked up in that moment and caught his eyes. A sweet hope beamed from her face. He felt his heart crack in two. Her eyes squinted, worried as she beheld his expression, which he shook off instantly and indiscreetly motioned for her to meet him. She lightly nodded and continued to dance. With a few blinks of his eyes everything turned back to normal.

Beldagar looked back to Thard. He continued his intimidating stare and Beldagar glared right back, but then Thard’s attention turned to Rose. The intentions of his face made Beldagar almost burst from his position and dart straight through the crowd. He was going to rip him to shreds. Beldagar could feel the beast within, growing and pushing against the seams of his insides wanting to come out. Thard sneered a small cruel smile. Beldagar took a deep breath; he couldn’t change here and now. He had to explain the plan to Rose first, but inside he couldn’t wait for the look on Thard’s face when he came face to face with him and his transformed figure.

Beldagar stepped backward, slowly retreating and ever watchful of Thard’s frozen threat.

Soon the crowd encroached around him providing a shield to sneak away. He moved to the outskirts of the village and around to the north side where they had met before. He hoped that she would remember or even think of their last meeting. Now his mind was consumed with the worry that she would not think to come to this spot. What if she just went in the direction he had nodded? He waited anxiously pacing the area for fifteen minutes until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He took a quick step around the tree running straight into Rose knocking her backwards.

“Beldagar!” She yelled in surprise as he grabbed her shoulders and steadied her from the blow.

“Rose.” He felt foolish for his panicked actions. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.” She brushed her arms as if wiping away the pain and then moved to grab his arm and hand.

He wanted to shy undeservingly away from her affection, but the warmth that surged through him ignited his soul and was the only comfort he was afraid of ever feeling again.

“What happened?”

He looked up pitifully and her expression jolted in shock.

“You killed them?” Her question was filled with horror.

“NO,” he replied and watched as her expression dampened yet relief sparkled in her eyes.

“It’s okay. I’m glad that you couldn’t do it. It would have made you a monster.”

The word “monster” echoed inside his mind. No, he thought, he had still become a monster.

“Rose, I am still going to save you.”

Her hopeless expression made him want to crumble. He didn’t want to tell her the whole truth.

“The sorceress was not who she said she was.”

This caught Rose’s attention.

“She lied,” he continued. “I made the deal with her and she made me…” he stopped shy of what he was going to say remembering Versaius’s explicit instructions. His supposed mother had chosen precise words so he was not coerced or forced to do anything. “I chose…” He continued again ashamed that he was the only one to blame. “To do it.” A damning feeling flooded him. “It gave me great strength and I went and found that family…but they were nothing like what she had said they were. I tried to go through with it and ended up really hurting one of them, but I couldn’t kill.” He stopped unable to finish.

She swallowed hard and blew her breath out hard.

“But…” he continued stopping her from gaining too much hope. “I cursed myself by taking her deal. Taking her deal was what she wanted the whole time and I have played into her hands.”

Rose sat on the ground grabbing his hand pulling him down with her.

“She is letting me save you and I have promised to go with her and not resist.”

“Who is she?”

Beldagar felt the heavy burden finally collide with reality. He could feel tears behind his eyes, but he would not let them fall. “She’s my mother.”

Her eyes widened. “No.” She shook her head visibly upset.

There was so much he could tell her, but he didn’t want to so he skipped right to the end. “They will be taking you up the mountain soon.” He shook his head confirming and she answered nodding back.

“Stay with them for now.”

Apprehension crawled up her face.

“Trust me.” He squeezed her hand praying that she would find faith in him. “I am going to try to prevent that dragon from waking.”

“No,” she instantly protested. “You will die.”

The truth sat on his lips cringing to be set loose. “Her curse has turned me into a powerful demon.”

Rose’s eyes flinched unbelieving.

“Please…” he begged her from speaking. “It’s the truth. I will not die. When I come for you don’t be afraid of me.” He held all the sincerity he could possibly posses in his statement. She had to believe him, she had to trust him, or he would be very uncertain of being able to save her. The mere thought of that outcome devastated him.

Her eyes flickered with so many thoughts and questions, but he could not handle answering them. He stood pulling her up. “Don’t be afraid.”

She shook her head in agreement, even though he knew she had no clue what to expect.

Beldagar turned and dropped her hand. The instant disconnect waived over him. He had no idea what he was doing until it was done. Spinning back around, he wrapped one arm around her slim waist and lifted her slightly until their lips touched. The simple connection vibrated his mind and he felt connected to hers. He felt the same lightning striking sensation down from the top of his head and stinging to the tips of his toes and fingers.

He let go instantly and ran away as fast as he could. With each step he could feel his heart break more and more, and his desperation grew. A cold sensation began to creep up chilling all the warmth out of him the further away he got. His bare feet pedaled, racing toward the mine as large sharp pains pulsated in his head. For a brief second, he thought he had heard Rose scream out, but he kept going. He had to make it to the mines before the miners disturbed the heart of the dragon. Flashes of light and memory coursed through his mind—he could feel his mind awakening.

The trees blurred in his vision and he saw so many different places. The desert sands, ocean seaside, and rocky mountains all filled with people and places in the gaps of his memories. He shook his head clearing them away; no other life meant more than the here and now. In his mind, all he could see was the looming opening of the cold mine. The pain in his head continued as he raced finally hitting the rock and hearing it crunch under his feet.

Chapter 10

[] The Monster in the Mountain

 

Beldagar ran straight into the mine. For a few seconds, he closed his eyes and the darkness flooded his mind. Then, he opened his eyes seeing clearly in the darkness. He knew the tunnels like the back of his hand.

He headed straight to the back and the man-sized basket. He could hear the workers chipping away. The ground rumbled underneath his feet causing him to move faster. Jumping in the basket he signaled the miner to lower him down. The basket jerked and it slowly descended. The anticipation to hit the bottom level made his stomach turn. He was grateful that Thard was not on the site today. It would have made things a lot harder.

He had no idea what to expect. All he knew was he had to stop them from waking the dragon and if he didn’t, he would have to stop a dragon. The idea of going through the pain of transforming back into the monster demon made him almost throw up. He had no idea how it all worked, but he felt it like a trigger in his mind. It sat there like a natural part of him. He could feel the transformation just a thought away.

Just then, the basket jerked to a halt at the bottom of the shaft. As he stepped out he couldn’t quite tell what was going on. Visually, he should have seen the workers working along the left side, but there were none. He walked a few steps forward and noticed all the little alcoves were empty. Where were they? A chill ran up his spine. Maybe I am too late. Maybe the dragon already woke and had eaten all of the workers.

His fears were quickly extinguished when he heard voices coming from the other end of the tunnel. His stomach lodged in his throat. He looked to the dark tunnel down the right side and shrank back at the thought of entering it. They never worked that end of the tunnel. There was just something about it that put him off. His steps, even though he felt the urgency, treaded lightly toward the other end. As he stepped past the tunnel points that he was used to, the opening snaked around several times before it opened up into a large cavern.

Moisture dripped down the walls and Beldagar noted the group of ten men gathered at the other side of the area. Large veins of gold streaked up the focused wall in an oval shape. The gold was heavy at the bottom and streamed jaggedly up towering at least twenty feet high. It gently curved out of the wall and a large pile of rock sat heaped upon the ground as if they had fallen revealing the dragon heart.

It was the dragon heart. He was sure of it. Just as one of the men raised his pick to sink it in the golden surface Beldagar yelled.

“NO!”

His voice echoed loudly around the room. All of the men halted and turned back. They stood there for a moment looking at him. His hands were stretched forward cautioning them to stop their movement. “Don’t strike the surface.”

The men’s dirty faces squinted at him and one-stepped forward. “It’s high time you showed up.” He pointed down to the pile of rocks. “Start here!” he ordered.

“No, we cannot disturb this wall.” Beldagar stepped forward making his way around the rough ground.

The man with the pick ax stepped forward. “What do you mean? It’s gold!” He pointed up toward the wall.

“No.” Beldagar made it to the wall and stretched his hand out touching the cold surface. He felt a pulsation against his skin and warmth began to grow. “This is not structurally sound; we cannot take down this wall like this.” He was lying and trying to divert their attentions away, but he could see the gold shining in their fixated gazes as they almost drooled hungrily at it. They looked almost in a feverish trace.

“There’s no such thing,” the man with the ax argued.

“Why do you think we do not work this wing of the mine?” Beldagar pled to their sanity. “We are not to be in here.”

“I don’t care!” The miner swung the pickaxe at his head and Beldagar barely ducked enough to miss his attack. At first he was completely stunned at his actions, but then he saw the golden fever glimmering in his eyes. The miner came back and struck him across the face with his hand. He felt the sharp pain while tumbling to the ground. He could feel his eyes ignite glowing their emerald green. He could see the glow in a small puddle of water beneath him and then it clicked in his mind.

It was his eyes.

When he was looking at Versaius, he recognized his own eyes. Everything that had been bothering him flashed in his mind. The man on the way to find the family, the thought clicked, his eyes had a glint of green. It was her! He recalled the woman and her long slender hands and arms carrying the bushel of sticks. Her eyes too had the same apparition. All the miners took solid steps back.

Then one yelled out, “He’s a monster! Kill him!”

For one second the world was calm; and then in an instant a war had broken loose. The ten men went to attack him simultaneously. Beldagar pushed back the first comer who went flying into the air ten feet away. He was surprised by his strength even without changing. Fists pounded against his face as he thrashed out knocking more of the waves of men back and scattering them about the cavern. He could hear their surprised cries as they flew through the air.

The boils began to surface on his skin sending the shooting pain. Just then he caught sight of the pick ax coming down straight for his head. With one large clawed hand, he grabbed the wooden handle and stopped its motion. The man’s face grew white with terror and surprise as Beldagar kicked him back in the stomach launching him against the furthest wall. The other men began throwing rocks. Beldagar sheltered his face, grimacing, and yelling through the pain of the transformation. He could feel his leg bones breaking. His growled cries echoed off the walls.

Several men began to flee and then out of the air came another pick ax. Searing pain shot through his head as he jerked out of the ax’s path, but felt the sudden doom as it lodged straight into the dragon egg behind him. The large pounding of a heart sounded out through the room. The angry mobbing men stopped as the large, golden veined oval on the wall began to illuminate and glow red. There was no stopping it now.

The gold vein-like spider webbing through the rock began to melt and drip out of the wall. Beldagar stumbled away and toward the exit just as lava began to flow from the gold cracks. He could see the illuminated features of the balled up creature within the heart. A wicked eye flickered open just as the heart wall cracked pouring liquid heat into the cavern. The men began to race toward the exit, but were quickly consumed.

Beldagar ran wildly into the tunnel, racing toward the basket. His claws were completely formed as he batted the basked from the shaft and jumped up the hole. Grasping the walls with his claws, he pulled his feet up just as the lava surged under him. It continued flowing down the tunnels like a hot river. The raw heat began to filter up the shaft and he worked clawing and scrambling up. He could see faces or other miners looking down into the hole.

“Run!” he screamed. He saw each head disappear and heard their pounding footsteps and screams as they raced toward the mine exit. Suddenly, he felt his back ribs crack open. He screamed and half of them came out as a growling cry pierced the air. Then a loud roar seemed to answer beneath him.

Chunks of wall came apart as he continued to crawl up. When he had one hand out the shaft holding onto the floor his wings began to sprout fully, ripping his back in half. His skin began to burn and harden with the red glowing cracks. He didn’t even feel the heat of the dragon anymore. Just as the searing pain shot through his head and his horns began to grow, the ground behind him began to shake. It cracked and splintered falling in pieces into the depths of molten rock.

A massive steaming claw broke through the ground sinking into the rock surface. Its arm had thick-shingled red heated glowing armor. Beldagar turned and ran for the exit as his body continued contorting and changing. He glanced back and saw the mine roof beginning to crumble. Then, he saw it.

The dragon.

The dragon moved upward glowing red from its lava birth shielding its features. The dragon’s long torso continued up as the lava reached the main tunnel seeping toward the exit. Beldagar burst out of the mine seeing the petrified faces of the men. His wings spread out as his horns grew curling backward behind his head. It was only a couple of seconds until the lava flowed like a river out of the mine.

Beldagar skipped to move, sending the men running and screaming toward town. He turned back around and the lava split around him. He reached down and touched the steaming liquid surface. The red cracks in his skin became ignited. He could feel the strength of the heat extend up his arm. Just then, the side of the mountain above his head burst. Rocks poured down the side of it and through the gapping hole, fire breathed straight into the air. The massive elongated spiked head of the dragon crawled out. It was plated in armor and still glowing red from its molten birth. Beldagar flapped his wings and took flight.

The dragon looked around and then focused solely on him. His head was crowned with large spikes that continued in columns down its back. Its long tail whipped around crashing into the mountainside breaking it apart. Its wings, which began at its shoulder blades and ended further down its back, spread a little larger than his own into the air for the first time in a ceremonially manner. The creature stood up on its massive back legs and roared into the sky, releasing a long streak of fiery breath. In that moment, Beldagar was glad that fire had no affect on him. But as the dragon snapped its sharp jaws and dug into the mountainside with his thick claws, he felt a predestined cringe.

Beldagar flew a little higher hoping that the dragon would just move along and not engage in a fight. As he lifted higher, he could see the trail up the mountain with a little line of people half way up. The dragon seemed to instantly move his head in the same direction, as if sensing the movement; he then began to climb up the rocky surface toward the other side. He could see the people stirring with alarm at the sounds and movement of the mountain.

Beldagar dove at the dragon, it instinctively whipped his head around and its claws came out. They sunk deep into Beldagar’s shoulders grabbling him as they collided into the rocky surface. The dragon snapped at his face, but his hands held the monster back until the dragon kicked from his bottom legs, launching him back into the air. Beldagar barely oriented himself without toppling down to the ground. The dragon continued up and had crawled over to the other side within seconds. Beldagar shot into the sky to the other side.

The sudden sight of the little festival party shook him a little. Clearly they were making their way up the mountain. The dragon was so close to them. Then, Beldagar spotted her. Rose stood out of the crowd and caught her first glimpse of him as a beast. Her eyes widened and sadness shook his core instantly. His body became ridged and he could hardly breathe.

He had to act fast. As he closed in, he grabbed the dragon by the tail. The others of the party scattered and began to flee up the mountain like sheep. The dragon whipped around swinging its tail out of his grip. The motion knocked a few of the people down the edge of the mountain. His heart panicked at the sight of the people falling. He was helpless to be able to rescue them. The instant threat to Rose sent Beldagar into reaction mode.

With a large jump, he landed right on the back of the dragon and rolled him away further down the road. The dragon turned back and latched onto his shoulder sinking his teeth in deep. Beldagar roared with pain as he heard a few cracking sounds from his torso. With a quick leveraging push against the rocky surface, he launched the dragon off of him and over his shoulder. The dragon rolled only a few times and then it quickly spread its wings and caught the air soaring down toward the trees. It let up just above the village and its interest peaked with the new sounding screams.

Beldagar quickly moved back up the mountain toward where the group had been and found the path empty. He continued up and around the bend, seeing the fleeting figures disappear around the next winding bend; with them Rose was being dragged along by none other than Thard, who held a large jagged knife threatening her to go with him up to the top.

Out of nowhere, a loud angry roar echoed up the mountain blowing straight through them. Beldagar had barely known it had come from him. An animalistic drive snapped in his brain as he plowed up the mountain straight for them knocking down large boulders of stone.

Thard’s eyes widened as he continued dragging Rose. Beldagar skipped straight to the top finally seeing the great hidden secrets of the mountain. Men old and young stood looking wildly at the commotion; they were dressed in white robes and had their heads were cleanly shaven. Large white marbled pillars stood on a flat round marbled surface with chains and ropes fastened to them. There was also an alter with a dead sheep on it and a man standing just behind it with a large jagged knife.

Just then, Thard and Rose made it to the top. They stopped just shy of the ceremonial surface. He wasted no time. Thard grabbed Rose by the hair and forced her down on the marbled surface and lifted the knife. Beldagar, too, wasted no time.

He saw the fleeing circle of people as he dove down crashing on top of Thard. His large claw clenched around his arm holding the knife crushing it. Thard’s deep cry was almost forced out of him as his arm splintered beneath his skin. He dropped the knife while he looked up with agonizing pain with fury set deep within his eyes. Then they both looked to Rose. She sat panting with fear.

Beldagar’s mind whirled in the endless seconds. Does she know it’s me saving her?

Her lip was bleeding. For a second he was frozen from moving. Afraid of hurting her, afraid that what he was doing was hurting her. And then in an instant, she bolted from the ground, grabbed the knife, and lodged it into Thard’s chest. Beldagar immediately let go of his arm as Thard instinctively grabbed the hilt of the protruding knife, glaring straight into Rose’s eyes. Her panted breathing rushed out and tears streaked down her face. Thard slowly dropped between them. Her whole body shook as she stood there like a scared statue.

Rose swallowed. “Beldagar?” her voice hoarsed out.

Beldagar slowly knelt down and lowered his head to the ground. His wings folded down around her. It scared him at first, and he jolted just a bit as her hand touched his head and glided over one of his horns. He felt his entire body relax and as he did the words were able to slip out. “I’m sorry.”

Just then sound came from behind him. He stood straight and Rose staggered backward toward the stone archway that lead to the path downward. “Hide,” he growled.

As Beldagar turned, a swarm of priests came towards his back with long poles. He hardly experienced the struggle. His eyes went fuzzy and all he could hear were the sounds of the priests’ cries and the cracking of their poles echoing in his ears. He saw the faint green glow around him and his body seemed to move without his consciousness. When his senses came to, all he saw was their crumbled bodies and blood. He had temporarily lost control of his own awareness.

He shook his head, wondering if this was what it would be like serving the sorceress. If he would lose the ability to even be in control of his own mind. He had killed them not even knowing that he had done so. He panted as the wind blew through him chilling his heart.

The main priest still stood behind the alter with the dead sheep. The rest of the offering party was racing down the mountain now. The look in the altered priest’s eyes which were full of rage.

“You have tainted this holy place you unworthy demon.” The old priest pointed a large staff toward him. “The gods of the mountain will deliver justice upon you.”

Beldagar started forward and the priest stumbled off of the alter steps. He staggered backward around the rocky walls.

The heat inside him built with every step as Beldagar followed, seeing their grand marbled home and golden statues, just like he thought they would be. He trailed the priest through a courtyard and back behind the structures until a great pit stopped him from going any further. Beldagar felt an uneasiness creep up in his chest as he continued. Part of him did not want to go any further. “I am the holy servant of the gods. You may not lay your hands upon me.”

Just then, Beldagar caught sight of the pit. Large impaling spikes were inlaid in the rocky surface. It slanted down into a large crack in the mountainside. A large piece of mountain worked as a shielding barrier from the wind on the other side of the gap. Bones and skulls adorned the pit with leafy crowns and shredded, blood soaked togas. He imagined Rose lifeless in the pit and something cracked inside him. He grabbed onto the priest sinking his claws into his belly. The priest shrieked wrenching backward and grasped his own torso as he shook. Beldagar took flight seeing the deep cracks of the mountain filled with the bones of the worthy beautiful sacrifices.

“I do the gods’ will,” he bellowed out as Beldagar flew higher and higher into the sky. “I am a servant.”

Beldagar held him up and looked into his suffering face. His pleas were endless; as he looked in his eyes all he saw was the green glimmer. The priest shook violently in his hands for a few seconds revealing the disgusting monster within him. His face was contorted and evil. Beldagar loosened his grip and the priest slipped from his grasp. His cries echoed painlessly through his ears as the seconds passed quickly, until they ended with a crunching sound in the sacrificing pit.

Beldagar didn’t feel anything. There was no regret or guilt. His mind flashed back to the man he had almost killed earlier that day and the great difference of feeling. Beldagar moved slowly back to the top of the mountain and turned. Looking at the glorious place they had been afforded to live in to sustain their criminal evil practices. He instantly barreled through the marbled structures. He broke them with his hands and the force of his body. Everything that stood was crushed to the ground. He pulled the pillars down crashing them onto the golden statues. He moved to the alter area and ripped it off throwing it down the mountain.

Just as he spun around to destroy the other pillars, he stopped dead in his tracks. Rose stood on the edge of the marble floor looking at him. He paused and then sunk down. Her hand clasped over her mouth and tears streaked down her face. “What have we done?” she spoke softly. He didn’t quite understand what she meant. His hands flew to his head pulling on his horns in grief as a pained look swept across her face. She grabbed her head as if in great pain. He recognized it well. The sharp headaches and floods of memories weaved around each other. She was remembering their past lives and their entwined curse. He could only hope that now she could be free.

Beldagar,” Versaius’s voice vibrated in his mind. Screams echoed up the mountain and the deep roar of the dragon sounded out. They both looked to where they had come from. Beldagar took one large leap and grabbed Rose sweeping her up into his arms and cradling her safely against his chest. Her simple touch of holding his arm firmly made all the confusion and pain inside him cease. He took to the air and circled down seeing the destructive movement of the dragon upon the village. People fled from all directions and the trees burned flaking into ash.

Beldagar took Rose a good distance and dropped her off in a meadow before jumping back into the air, despite her protests. He had an important errand to attend to and he didn’t want her to witness it.

He honed into the center of the village heading straight for the dragon. He crashed straight into it knocking them both onto the earth. He could feel the earth crumble and move beneath him as the cries of the dragon littered the air. Its claws instantly sunk into him as it braced against the attack. They rolled, snapping and clawing at each other. The dragon pushed away managing to escape his grip, and blew his hot fire directly at his chest. He absorbed the heat and felt new strength come to his body.

The dragon growled and leapt at him latching on to his shoulder. Beldagar rolled backwards taking the dragon with him.

In a quick glimpse, he saw the Nag crushed underneath as they rolled and cracked the forest to the ground. They both laid in the heaped earth. The dragon stood and shook its head and then began to retreat toward the forest. Beldagar reached out to grab it and just as he did the green glow captured his hand, stopping him.

“No, Beldagar. Let him live. Creatures like these are hard to come by and can be very useful.” Versaius’s voice echoed through his mind. “It’s time.” He helplessly watched as the dragon retreated away and slowly he stopped trying to overcome her power over him.

“Let me say goodbye,” he pled while looking back to where he had left Rose. Jumping into the air he felt the aftermath of his encounter with the dragon. Then, his thoughts turned to Rose.

Chapter 11

[]The Last Deal

 

He let himself down gently into the meadow feeling the heaviness of his battle push him harder against the ground. Rose stepped out from the trees and ran toward him. He could feel his heart pounding at the sight of her. Her face was calm and unafraid. He wanted to crumble to the ground, but suddenly she stopped three steps shy of him and looked over his shoulder. Beldagar stood to his height and turned, seeing Versaius standing there in the meadow with them. The look on her face was cold and indifferent.

“Versaius,” Rose spoke. Beldagar looked back at her, surprised she had said it.

“How could do this to your own son?”

“Exactly,” Versaius spoke. Her voice was like the sound of thunder shaking the area. “He is my son. Mine! He will do what I want. He will be what I want and you cannot stop that now.” She looked upon him as if he was glorious. “He has made my deal and broken the first curse. We are both free of it now.” She looked up to Beldagar. “You have the strength of the depths of hell. You can find that death is very easily bargained with if you have the right price.” Her eyes glowed deeply.

“Tell me the truth. It was you. The man on the road in the wagon. The woman holding the sticks. I don’t know how, but I know that they were you. Tricking me the whole time!”

Versaius’s eyebrow flickered up. “Yes, my encounters with you have to be quick because you of all people can see me better than anyone else. You can catch the real glimpses of me through the shadowed façade. It’s because we are blood. That’s why I had to be quick and brief while talking to you. I had to turn my face so you could not see my real face.” Her voice shook the ground. “Now get his over with.” She looked to Rose.

He looked at his mother and saw her hatred for Rose. She was seething beneath her skin and he was sure that if she could, she would kill her on the spot. Beldagar turned back to Rose and blocked her view of his mother. “You must go now.” His hoarse voice spoke panicked. “I have set you free. You must live your life separated from me and this curse.”

Rose’s eyes shined with light as she looked up at him. He crouched down and she raised her hand to touch his face. “No,” she spoke firmly. “Just because you cannot yet remember it all doesn’t mean I will forsake you.” She glided her hand across his cheek. “I see you. I cannot be without you. I will not let her win.”

He took her hands from his face and stepped away, looking at Versaius. He had to go through with this and leave her out of it. “I am ready,” he stated.

Versaius glared at him. “I do not need you at this moment so you shall stay here until I summon you.” A large wooden staff with a green glowing orb appeared in her hand. She swung it around her head once and broke the glass against his foot. It didn’t hurt him, but all of a sudden he could feel a great heaviness clasp onto his leg.

He looked down a little panicked as his limbs began to turn to stone freezing him in place. The stone crackled up around him and echoed in his ears. He looked up seeing the satisfaction in his mother’s eyes and then turned to the see the horror in Rose’s face.

“No!” she screamed as the stone grew up his legs.

He could imagine her staying there watching over his statue broken hearted. “Please, Rose, be free!” he bellowed at her.

“NO!” Rose screamed again as she dashed the last few steps between them and jumped straight into his arms. He clasped his arms around her as the stone traveled up his chest enveloping her and him together. He heard his mother crying in protest as the stone quickly traveled up his stretched wings covering them to the last tip.

Versaius stood glaring at the stone statue. Rose was frozen and cradled in Beldagar’s arms. Anger steamed from her breath and in a flash of green light, she stared at them considering the cost of Rose’s actions. Just then she looked slightly over her shoulder and slowly turned her head back to the statue.

“Come out, sister. No need to hide in the background. I will allow you to shine once again.”

A white translucent silhouetted illusion appeared moving behind Versaius’s shoulders. “You know you can’t control the consequences of this.” A quiet voice spoke like the soft air behind her. Versaius just stood as still as the surrounding world mulling through the problem. “You will never be able to disconnect them.”

“I will have my day as I’m sure you remember.” Versaius turned looking at the faded ghost of her sister. Her long cloak and hood covered most of her features. Just her long light hair billowed down out from behind her cloak. Her retribution built, strengthening her resolve. “My greatest strength is I am very, very, patient.”

 

One year later.

The large statue of Beldagar and Rose sat entwined and lonely in the large meadow. Long ivy vines grew adorning and hiding its visible features. The sun steamed down against the horizon. The last golden burning light splayed through the sky. The land was set a glow for the last seconds of the day until it slowly crept down beneath the darkening earth.

As the finalizing light left the land, the statue was swept with a flood of green light. A crack split through the torso of Beldagar. It crumbled and spread through his arms, legs, wings, and back, until large portions of stone began to crumble to the ground. His clawed hands broke free gently catching the weight of Rose as her stone skin crumbled and shed, releasing her.

She felt weightless in his hands as the rest of his stone skin flaked off and his stiff knees buckled to the ground. Rose grabbed his arm tightly bracing herself to be laid on the ground.

Just then the pain streaked through his body. He arched backwards as it rushed through him. His cries bellowed through the air and his eyes seemed blind as his bones broke and reduced and his wings enfolded into his back. He could hazily see and feel Rose clinging to him, trying to help him through his retransformation.

Finally after the seizing pain ended, he laid panting in the dirt with sweat dripping off of him. He lifted his head and saw her panicked face. It was all there in his mind. All his memories and her eyes glowed the same.

“Rose.”

Her smile grew dispelling all the darkness away.

 

 

[]The End

 

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[] About the Author

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T.K. Thompson is author of YA fantasy series, The Dark Eve, epic adventure packed novels with an endless amount of fun. She also enjoys co-staring in The Ride Home Review Podcast, where film pundit Dustin Thompson and she do their best to improve movies by rewriting the story on the fly.

She’s a huge fan of Thrillers, Genre Movies, Dancing with the Stars, Stranger Things, and Gerard Butler…sing to me, Phantom. She loves chocolate milk…mmm…good, steak, and I am pretty sure she eats a whole Costco apple pie in December.

As a mother of three awesome children, T.K. is usually helping out with homework, dropping kids off at (dance, gymnastics, and soccer), or cooking some awesome concoctions with her hubs. Thank you Food Network. She loves writing entertaining reads filled with deep characters and stories littered with twists and turn leaving everyone on the edge of their seats. She dabbles in sewing stuff…note it doesn’t always work out. She is a fierce writer with Netflix always playing in the background. A girl has got to have some noise in her life.

Email: TKTHOMPSONBOOKS@GMAIL.COM

 

 

[]Acknowledgements

I want to personally thank Jerome Mayo, for his amazing cover work. He is great friend with an amazing talent and he helped this book come alive. I also dedicate this book to all those that follow me. This is a personal gift from me to you. Thank you for reading this and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it. Once again thank you to my husband, who believes in me, sometimes more than I do myself.

I don’t believe in white knights on noble steeds. I believe in my own will power and strength to carry me beyond time and circumstance as long as God’s guidance still favors me.

 


Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story

Growing up as an abandoned orphan on the doorstep of strangers earned Beldagar a life of servitude. He finds he has a strange talent to turn off the abusive voices of his heartless family, but all he longs for is equal footing among them. The worst part of it is working in the cold gold mines of the mountain shadowing the primitive village. It seems the deeper they dig the more dangerous it becomes and the strange manifestations haunting him grow more intense affecting his safety. His relentless life changes one day while safely observing the festival for the Gods, in which he sees Rose. For the first time his life seems to be altering, but in the twirling moment a strange sorceress shows up revealing to him a world of opportunity through her magic as well as warning of an ancient monstrous legend about to wake with in the heart of the mountain. The cursed sorceress foresees Rose’s death and offers him a deal to save her life. As Beldagars manifestations increase he is tempted to do all he can to save her, but what if the final cost is murder? Follow this epic spell binding YA fantasy adventure today for FREE!

  • Author: TK Thompson
  • Published: 2016-10-02 02:05:13
  • Words: 23929
Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story Beldagar: A Dark Eve Story