Lost Runes: Book Two of The Runespell Trilogy
Caspar travels south into Belbidia with his companions
Hal and Brid into the heart of the New Faith, the enemy of Brid's Goddess. Trailing
Vaalakan spies, they seek the Druid's Egg which alone can keep the fortress of Torra Alta
safe from the enemy attack. But in the land of the Inquisition, all trace of ancient lore
has been stamped out, including a sect of mute priestesses known as the Keepers. And
without the lost runes they guarded, the Egg may never be found.
Book Two of The Runespell Trilogy. Published by HarperCollins
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I chose this chapter because so many people have said
how moved they were by the plight of the dragon; and I certainly enjoyed writing it.
The water smelt familiar. Cool, fresh; the sound was comforting. But the heat was in
the air again. Must wait. It burns
Where are the thieves? Theyve stolen the glow. I remember the glow, but its
gone. I can feel the heat - nasty, scorching heat. He missed the cool, wet rocks of his
The mountains would be safe. The air was fresh and sharp, and the eagles shrieked
somewhere in the emptiness high above him. There would be a cave in the mountains,
somewhere to hide from the burning in the sky. He hated the smell and the noise, the
constant shrills and twitterings of the birds. Too much noise all around him.
He gnawed at his claw. His tail limply dragged behind him and the pain in his head
He coiled up his long neck and tucked his snout under a foreleg. The pain
But that was nothing compared with losing the glow. He had been able to see the glow.
There was nothing else like it. He had loved the taste of the bright metal objects that
had lined his nest in the cool caverns. They had always been there. His old mother, she
had described them as bright and glittering. He couldnt imagine what bright and
glittering was; he no longer cared for them: but the glow
He could see the glow.
The stumps on his back ached. They nagged at the back of his mind and he fluttered them
feebly. At night he dreamt he could spread them into vast wings and glide through the
emptiness above his head. He moved on, sniffing out a place to hole up.
The mouth of the cave was tight. He squeezed his snout into the entrance. It smelt dank
and wet and cool. He sighed. He needed the rest. His tongue caught the heady scent of
bear. Cubs squeaked and squealed. His jaws snapped as his great snout darted forward.
The meat was good. He curled up contentedly, coughing on a fur ball that stuck in his
craw. He tried to coil his tail around him but it was too limp. These bears were different
to the hairless bears, he thought. The hairless bears have sharp, sharp claws. They scream
and squeal; they smell like little, weak creatures; they move with feeble sickly
movements; but they have sharp claws.
He knew it was his eye. The pain was like the burning that fell out of the sky but more
intense and deep. It hurt round the rim, where he had first seen the glow. The centre
didnt hurt. He felt nothing, he sensed nothing at all from the centre, but he knew
his eye was still bleeding. He could taste the acid of his own blood dripping down his
They have powerful claws. One or two on their own seemed unthreatening, like the bear
cubs. He smacked his jaws together contentedly. But they flock. They pack together like
the howling wolves only into vast numbers - numbers that shake the earth. Then they are
He feared them. He feared nothing that crawled on the surface of the earth except for
the naked bears. His mother had feared them and his grandfather had feared them. His
grandfather spoke of a time when he could roam free on the surface. Both his mother and
grandfather could see. His own world had been darkness. A world of rich sounds, of touch,
of smell - until he had found the glow.
She had dropped it. She was in the caverns, running. He had heard the light patter of
those little feet. She was running; she was frightened. Frightened creatures make easy
supper. I didnt have to crawl up onto the surface for supper it was running towards
me. Pitter patter, pitter patter; little soft feet running through the long twisting
Then I saw the glow; pure light, a circle of wonder. I saw the glow. I forgot her and
saw only the glow. There were more feet running. They slapped the ground more heavily. I
concentrated only on the glow. The glow had life and fire and energy. The glow had power.
She screamed. I remember the scream. So much pain. Like the scream of a wildcat when
you crush it in your jaws. I forgot to kill her. Only the glow mattered. She dropped it
and for the first time I put my claw on the glow.
I felt the thrill of ancient power. She was still there though, in the glow. It was
confusing. I knew she had gone. I heard the other one drag her away out of the tunnels,
but I could still feel her presence in the glow. At first I felt her terror and the heat
of the power, but then I felt a terrible pain of cold at the heart of the stone, an aching
cold loneliness. He understood loneliness. His grandfather had died and then his mother -
he understood the emptiness of being alone. He remembered her chewy scales and brittle
bones, of course, but after she had gone there was only terrible loneliness, which only
the glow could fill.
He could see the glow.
Now it was gone. The naked bears had taken it. The creatures with the sharp claws had
taken it. He must have the glow.
He could smell its trail. He could sense the shimmering power of the glow imprinted on
the bones of the earth. He was blind and so he lived and breathed and moved by vibrations.
He tracked his prey and sensed their movements, knowing when to strike because of the
vibrations. But more than that he was the last of an ancient breed and he knew the power
of the earth. He knew he was born from the earth and he understood her sensations and
tremors. The naked bears were taking his glow south.
It was quiet now. The bird-song had ceased and the burning pain that fell from the
emptiness above had gone. Cool moist air bathed his parched scales.
His dragging tail slowed him up. His claw was regrowing now where the sharp-toothed
naked bears had stabbed between his talons. It was sore but it didnt slow him up.
Only his dragging tail made progress difficult. He heaved his belly over the jagged rocks
and slithered along the valley floor, coiling southwards following the trail of the glow.
They had taken it towards the great rift in the mountains and into the Old Nest. He
couldnt go near the Old Nest. His grandfather had warned him of the danger. He said
they had piled stones over the entrance and from there they could spit claws and fangs
that could pierce even the armour-plating of a Fire Beings scales if struck with an
unlucky blow. His grandfather told him never to go near the Old Nest but if he had to, he
must keep his snout low to protect his maw and keep the fire in his belly burning. He must
always keep the fires ready.
But he had no fire. What should have been a vicious heat within his belly was an aching
cavern of loneliness. He had no fire. But the glow had made him feel like he had fire. He
needed fire; he needed the glow.
But the glow had moved on again.
He slithered down out of the mountains towards the southern plains, where the grass was
wet, lush and soothing on his underbelly, but he knew there was danger. Few men lived in
the mountains. The mountains had caverns, grottoes and caves but out here, beyond the
mountains, it was flat. He could smell them everywhere. They would spit their claws at
The glow was moving away, along a smooth hard surface. He licked the worn rock and felt
the tremor of feet scurrying along it. He turned away into the empty places. He
couldnt follow on their beaten course. He would move away where he could find hills
and cover. He would track them from a distance. He would wait. He smelt horse and
remembered his stomach. Horse was good. A quick and easy kill, plenty of meat; horse was
They had moved towards the plains where the naked bears flocked together in vast
numbers to nest. He would bide his time and wait for them to come out. They would move to
an empty place soon. He would wait for the glow.
He sucked in cavernous lungfuls of air, filling the great bladder beneath his throat.
He threw back his neck and was about to roar out his furious pain but instead let the air
waffle out, fluttering through his stretched nostrils. He had to be careful. The naked
bears had sharp claws.
Horse was good but he could only find it where he also smelt large numbers of naked
bears. He soon discovered that sheep were just as easy to kill, came in large numbers but
lived further from the nests of naked bears. They were found in hollows in the rolling
hills. Here the air was damp and it stroked his scales with a constant drizzle that was
cool and refreshing. He enjoyed killing sheep. They huddled together. One swipe of his
claw killed three or four at a time. He ate several of them but soon he had gorged himself
on so many that he didnt bother to eat them anymore and just enjoyed the killing for
its own sake. It made him forget his solitude and filled his time as he waited for the
moment when the glow moved out into the open.
He knew the glow had gone into a wood but he didnt like trees. He couldnt
squeeze between the branches and if he had to fight his way through them he knew he would
draw too much attention. Then flocks of naked bears would hunt him down. They hunted in
large numbers. Grandfather had said that thousands of the Fire Beings had been killed by
the little creatures. They hunted in packs like wolves, only they could throw their claws.
He wanted the glow.
He could hear the sheep bleating and the noise angered him. He killed a few more so
that he could sleep peacefully.
He woke with a start. His tail hurt less and he could move more freely now. He
stretched out his long neck to ease the stiffness of sleep and lumbered up onto his squat
legs, wondering what had disturbed him.
He stood still, letting the vibrations shimmer through the earth to feed his senses. He
quivered as the throbbing energy pulsated across the land. The glow was moving towards
Hope you enjoyed this and didn't find it too much of a strain on your eyes.
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