JANE WELCH

Book One in the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) Book Two in the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) Book three in the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor)      First of the Book of Ond Series which follows on from the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) Second of the Book of Ond Series which follows on from the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) Third of the Book of Ond trilogy which follows on from the Runespell Trilogy (Artwork by Geoff Taylor)
Artwork for Dawn of a Dark Age (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) The Broken Chalice (Artwork by Geoff Taylor) The Allegiance of Man Book Three of the Book of Man (Artwork by Geoff Taylor)


 

Lost Runes

Book Two in the Runespell TrilogyThe 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

ISBN 0-00-648200-7

Order it Today! Amazon.com

        Order it Today!

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.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE

The water smelt familiar. Cool, fresh; the sound was comforting. But the heat was in the air again. Must wait. It burns … burns …

Where are the thieves? They’ve stolen the glow. I remember the glow, but it’s gone. I can feel the heat - nasty, scorching heat. He missed the cool, wet rocks of his home.

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 couldn’t 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 didn’t 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 snout.

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 deadly.

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 didn’t 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 tunnels.

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 didn’t 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 couldn’t 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 Being’s 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 him.

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 couldn’t 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 good.

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 didn’t 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 didn’t like trees. He couldn’t 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 him.

Hope you enjoyed this and didn't find it too much of a strain on your eyes.

Anyway let me know what you think my e-mail address is janewelch@janewelch.com

 

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Copyright 1998 JANE WELCH
Last modified: January 02, 2002