Dragon's Bane & Gossamer
Click on image to enlarge.
by Jeffrey Turner
Description: War has come to the kingdom of Edron, and young Jerrimon Tullson is eager for battle. But the enemy controls a terrifying weapon--a dragon of devastating power. The Edroni people face defeat and annihilation. Desperate for help, Jer and his comrades ally with Trevar Gerrier, the mysterious stranger whose own magic was long thought extinct. Though Trevar holds the only hope for defeating the mighty creature, Jer discovers that his friend and leader guards a terrifying secret of his own.
eBook Publisher: The Fiction Works, 2004 http://www.fictionworks.com
eBookwise Release Date: April 2004
25 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [429 KB]
Reading time: 283-396 min.
Despite the terrifying visage of the fanged skull mounted above the thrones in Castle Windessy, few people realize that Trevar Gerrier actually prevailed over the dragon. Even the royal historians of Edron stubbornly refuse to acknowledge Trevar's greatest victory. In fact, Trevar's final quest is popularly perceived as a forgivable eccentricity, a mad restlessness of the sort to be expected in a man of war who is suddenly afflicted with enduring peace. All of Edron remember Trevar as the hero who saved us from extermination by Angkora. Ironically, I alone know our salvation was incidental to my friend's true purpose.
The last true coincidence in my life was my first meeting with Trevar Gerrier. My training section was on our final field test in the upper reaches of the Othros Mountains. The previous six months had been the hardest of my twenty-four years; my goal was to start my military career in King Trelliant's elite Rock Infantry. My father had prepared me thoroughly, albeit grudgingly. Instead of working the farm with my brothers, I'd spent the past five years studying. The basic swordsmanship my father taught me was augmented by lessons from a private docent. When the time came for me to sign on for the army I could read and write Angkoran in addition to Edroni. I could find my way through the forests by position of the stars, and fight with either hand. Most of my fellow trainees were content to breeze through a half year with as little effort as possible. I, on the other hand, attacked my training with the fervor of a swordthrall. My entire family had sacrificed to give me an edge and I wasn't going to disappoint them by becoming another nameless foot soldier.
Docent Rion had led our group of twenty high into the Othros two days before my first encounter with Trevar. We'd established a base camp in a pocket of forest on a plateau measuring a few leagues square. On the second day of the test, Samoval Pollik and I sat near the edge of the cliff and enjoyed the last of our carried provisions. To the north, the Edron Valley lay sprawled beneath us. Faint wisps of clouds drifted between us and our homeland. Although the snow didn't extend this far down the mountain, the air was noticeably cool. The rock face to the west was decidedly sheer; I knew that the last challenge of the week would be a climb up that wall unassisted.
"I'm a bit concerned about this test," Samoval began. His words were deliberate and careful, as always. Although physically powerful and quite handy with his sword, Samoval was not the fastest thinker in our training group. This had apparently been the case for most of his years; Samo had long ago taught himself to think carefully before speaking, and to remain silent as much as possible. He preferred to follow orders rather than initiate action. His mental clumsiness bought more than a fair share of derision from the rest of the trainees, but Samo never let them spark his anger. Somehow, he and I had become fast friends in the early weeks of training. I knew we'd end up separated when our unit assignments were written, and I knew I'd miss him a great deal.
"Stop worrying," I said, interrupting the concern that he'd been voicing for the past day and a half. "Gnomes haven't been seen in the Othros for years. There's nothing of value to mine here."
Samo brushed a lock of brown hair away from his eyes and offered me a roll of hardened bread. "Still," he said, "it's possible that they've migrated here over the winter. The Athreans aren't that far away, and don't you think even gnomes would rather live near Edron than Angkora?"
I managed to repress a sigh with some effort. Docent Rion appeared near the edge of camp and I guessed that we were about to be summoned. The reason for Samoval's distress finally dawned on me as I took a final draw of water--this morning's exercise would require each man to spend the day alone in the forest. Samo had spent the trek up convincing himself that the mountain was infested with gnomes, and he was worried about being caught away from the group.
"Listen," I said, pulling at the drawstring on the neck of my shirt. "Remember a few years ago, when a few gnome raiding parties actually came down to the valley and threatened the outlying farms?"
Samo's brow wrinkled. "I think so."
No such thing had actually occurred, of course, but Samo had far more faith in my memory than his own. I felt a bit guilty about taking advantage of his trust, but rationalized that the rest of the week would be much easier on him for it. "My father hired a thaumaturge to protect our farm," I continued. "He gave each of us a charm to ward off goblins, gnomes, and anything related." With that, I passed Samo the small pendant I usually wore on a leather thong around my neck. It was actually just a piece of polished stone with my family crest carved in the face--my younger brother made it for me some years ago. Samo regarded it almost reverentially; I knew from our months together that he was completely awed by anything magical.
"Did it work?" my friend asked.
"We didn't see a single gnome all summer." That part was true, at least.
A hunting horn sounded from the vicinity of camp, two short blasts followed by one longer. I motioned for Samo to put the pendant around his own neck. "Take it," I said. "If there're gnomes about, they'll run before you ever get near."
"But what about you?" Samo asked immediately. His loyalty could be damned frustrating at times.
"I'll be fine," I told him. "I'm actually headed higher up the mountain today, high enough that gnomes can't breathe."
"You're sure?" he asked, slipping the pendant on hesitantly.
"Positive." At least he didn't think as to why I was climbing higher for the day's work. The horn sounded again and we headed for camp at a quick trot. The polished rock bounced against Samo's chest, and gnomes were no longer a threat.