The Chronicles ~
Book 6 “The Rider”
– L. Clary, 1990
"...Monstrous men and manlike monsters
Battle for the end of time
Meanwhile heavy metal songsters
Cut themselves another line...
Speed now! Speed to war and horror
Speed to battle - Speed to die
Hasten, for there's no tomorrow
The future's merely another lie
Dragons sigh and dragons soaring
Marshall for their Final Fight
Chaos creatures in torment roaring
Seek the rule of Earth's old night.
Dragon brothers onward fly
Chaos summons all her might
Dragon Lord is coming nigh
Come to fight the Final Fight
Come to fight the Final Fight..."
~The Final Fight~
- song by Hawkwind
Chapter 1 : The Sagas Return ~
~ The old woman gazed out the window, as the moon shined brightly through the
opaque clouds. The gentle snowfall bringing an unnatural, and eerie quiet to the
scene at hand as the lodge grounds and surrounding forest slowly became
covered in white.
“It will be a full moon tomorrow, the first of the Lunar New Year”, she thought to
herself. “I wonder what Valentine’s Day will bring?”
She cast an eye at the old man sitting comfortably in the chair by the roaring fire,
his grandchildren playing about the large main room of the hunting lodge, which
had been in his family for centuries.
Crested shields and various other reminders of his years as a Dragon Rider of
the Eternal Knights, were haphazardly arraigned about the room, and upon the
walls. The flickering light reflecting from these objects, seemed to dance and
bring about ghosts of times past.
Several of the eldest children endeavored to complete the various choses for
which they had been assigned. Their laughter seemed out of place, and yet it
somehow soothed the harsh decorations, and reminders of a warriors life.
The old man sat brooding, staring at the fire in deep thought, still holding the
message that had been delivered by a rider hours ago, clinched in his hand.
One of the younger children approached the old man, gently climbing into his
lap and nestling against his chest.
“Tell us another story about the wars Grandpa! Tell us about the olden times.”
His train of thought broken, a smile crossed his face as he turned his head
towards the children, who now gathered around him. The toys, dirty dishes,
and the troublesome message, all seemingly forgotten for the moment.
“…It’s Story time kids….now get comfortable…there ya go”.
“Well, alright…how about this one. It speaks of times before the Guilds, the
Eternal Knights… verily, from times before teams of Dragons and their riders,
ruled the skies.
‘Twas a time many, many years ago….”
The old man’s wife listened to the story being told in the other room, and kept
busy, so she wouldn’t show her tears… fearing what was in the message that
had troubled her husband so.
One by one, the children fell asleep as the story dragged on. The old man
carried them each to the other room, and gently tucked each of his grandchildren
Closing the door quietly, he sighed. He slowly walked over to a the corner of
the room, and removed a dusty, unmarked box from the top shelf. Setting it
on the table, the old warrior opened the lid and removed a set of keys. He
fumbled with them until till he located the one he sought.
First removing a loose stone from the hearth of the great fireplace, he inserted
the key into the hidden keyhole within. With a soft click, the hearth swung
loose on well-oiled bearings smoothly, to reveal the hidden weapons room
located within. The personal weapons of his ancestors from the past millennium
were revealed to him there… he would have to make a choice as to just what
would be the right ones for the coming conflict that he now knew to lie just beyond
the horizon and swiftly moving his way.
He sat on one of the weapons chests quietly, remembering when last he had
to make choices to defend not only his own lands, but to assist with the defense
of the realm as a whole, riding the Great Lizard Skarr.
It was towards the end of the last Great Flag War… and in his minds eye, he is
once again seeing it as if it was just yesterday…..
The smoke from countless fires crossed the recent battlefield, blurring the vision
and stinging the eyes that surveyed the destruction of the once proud teams lands.
Slowly, a Rider and his fiery, winged steed enters the scene …emerging from
the smoking ashes of a once proud Keep. Dark and silhouetted against the
moon and horizon, the Rider was dressed fully in black mail and astride a dark
The full moon burned over the trampled and burnt ground like a hot coal above
a pool of blood, steam from burning trees hissed a warning as the two gazed
upon the blood drenched field. The only other sounds are the quarrelsome
yelps and snarls of dark creatures prowling through the carnage, with the
occasional snap of a bone marking the presence of a feasting lion or wild and
untamed wingless dragon…
...while the dead armies made no sound at all.
The muffled wing beat of the Dragon as the two made their way around the
carnage, startled the feasting beasts… lips drew back over gory fangs in
greetings and others stretched their wings in nervousness.
The trail of death carved a path of horror that stretched from one island of the
kingdom to the next, as a light breeze rustled the remains of Battle Standards
still clenched in the hands of their dead bearers.
“I count over twenty different flags here Skarr, we must warn our Team of the
coming battle that surely will arrive on our own shores soon… this battle has
The old man came out of his daydream, as the old woman softly spoke to him.
“You were younger then”, said his wife… knowing the meaning of his “thousand
yard gaze” into the past.
“True…but so were you…hehee! Come here wench!” he grasped her in his still
huge arms. As he pulled her close, she stroked his beard and looked into his
eyes with a sad realization.
“You know you have to go soon… so quit procrastinating and get your things
together ya big lug”, she teased, gently removing herself from his grasp. She
helped him gather his things together, quietly sobbing to herself …carefully
out of his earshot.
“Yes woman, you are right enough on that”, he said, “There is something odd
in the air …and I must visit the Oracle’s Mountain to seek advice from the
WebGoddess Pixxel, on all these matters. Skarr should be pleased though…
...’tis been ages since we rode together.”
“Well, off with ya then ya Ol’ Fart… you’re not getting’ any younger standin’
there in the doorway letting in the chilled air”.
Raising an eyebrow, Fist replied with a grin, ”You dare speak to your King in
such a manner woman? I could throw ye in chains for thy words woman!”
“When Valentine’s Day arrives with a New Moon during the Lunar New Year,
even the Gods are wary. Be careful husband… and don’t be draggin’ smelly
dragon dung into the house when you get back!”
Giggling, she kisses him gently on the cheek, “Be sure and arrive home from
your quest rested Milord Ulric the Mailed Fist… as I shall keep the bed warm
awaiting your return.”
With a chuckle and quick squeeze of her waist, he is gone.
Later as she looked towards the hills in the direction of the Temple, she notices
a low bank of clouds gathering beyond and they give her a chill and a fear she
has never felt before.
“Just hurry yourself safely home old man”, she says to herself.
…not realizing that the fear that she would not see him again in this world …had
already come to pass.
**The Chronicles - Book 6 **
**Chapter 2 : Valentines Gala**
‘Twas the morning several days after the grand gala that had officially welcomed
the coronation of the new King, Lord Ulric II, and now the new master of Mailed
Fist Keep… he being the eldest son of Lord Ulric I. He had been groomed for the
position his entire life, and he and the new Queen were well liked.
The old King and his Queen, had abdicated into what they hoped would be a
peaceful retirement, away from the formalities of the Court, to the Family Hunting
Lodge in the northern part of the kingdom. Now they happily assumed the role of
grandparents to his children, just as his own grandparents had done when he was
The new Lord Ulric awoke from his troubled dreams, unable to sleep. The reports
that had begun coming in the previous evening, did not bode well ... rumors that
hostilities had once again broken out on the frontier.
He gently removed the arms of his beloved Lady Zapra ua Clerigh from his chest,
and silently left their bedchamber for the balcony which overlooked the gentle
countryside that surrounded their home, The Keep of The Mailed Fist.
Out of habit, he wrapped the purple cloak of his ancestors around his torso,
which was crisscrossed with a fine, barely visible pattern of scars… reminders
of a lifetime of warfare on a multitude of battlefields near and far.
Life at The Keep had been peaceful in recent years, but the troubling nature
of the past nights dream, had awoke a “feeling” in his gut that something was
amiss. A shiver unexpectantly shook him, as if a blast of artic cold had reached
into him to grasp his soul.
As he gazed, into the low-lying mist that gently blanketed the valley below, a
movement on the road caught his eye.
“A rider from the direction of Sir Madd of Ox’s Realm”, he thought. “This doth
not bode well”.
Dressing quickly, and strapping his sword to his side as he descended the
staircase, several of the house guards fell into step behind as he strode into
the courtyard, disturbing the pack of dogs which lay in a group by the door.
The horse that had arrived, stood lathered in sweat, with severe burns on its
hindquarters. The rider was collapsed in a heap on the cobblestones of the
inner courtyard, his hand still grasping the reins.
One of the merchants, making the morning supply delivery, had apparently
rushed over and was checking the man.
“He is dead, Sire…and he has been in a fight…see there, a bolt hath pierced
his side and been broke off. The saddle shows also shows signs of dragonfire…
I know not how he managed to make it this far”.
Ulric recognized the messenger, as one of Madd’s personal attendants who
had been with his entourage at the coronation.
“Sergeant, rouse our forces, I fear the time of peace has passed, and I will not
be caught flatfooted, if what I fear has come to pass. Have our messengers
saddled and ready to ride soon”.
“Milord Fist, here is the message that was in the saddlebags, ‘twas hidden
b’neth the saddle”.
Ulric recognized the seal on the note as that of Madd’s… the note appeared
to have been written in haste and damaged in a fight. Heat had scorched the
message, and was very brittle as Ulric carefully broke the seal and read the note.
…”…attacked without warnin… forces ha…..... .overwelming outer defences.
…treaty has be… broken, pl… se send help, I beseech all of our alliance! Team
must be warned before…”.
“Father Bruce, have your Clerics pen this in multiple copies and given to our
messengers post haste… and contact all of the alliance with this note. Also
have a copy delivered to my own father:
The peace has been broken my friends, so the crime cannot go unpunished,
nor should we tolerate the s existence any longer. Let us send those foul misbegotten creatures back to the foul smelling hell from whence they crawled, prepare your dragons for war, and let’s go kick some arse!
Godspeed! Good Luck! Good Hunting!
By evening, majestic dragons and their Riders were bringing the news to the far reaches of the kingdom.
Few doubted that it would be anything other than a very bloody Valentine's Day indeed.
~The Saga will Continue....