Dragons of Orion: Prelude

I will be posting the first few chapters of my latest manuscript. Dragons of Orion, a fantasy, is the story of Tom Brace and the strangest dragon ever born on Dragon Island, the dragon Four. Tom is the youngest son in a family of famous dragon riders who have competed and won the Great Guardian Tournament over the years. But Tom has not shown the promise of his forefathers and will have a hard time living up to his heritage, especially when the other dragons get poisoned leaving Tom and Four as the island's only hope to stay in the competition.
Enjoy and please, please feel free to comment.

PRELUDE

THE NANNIE OF DRAGONS

Though she had the shortest distance to travel, Nan Sasha, Nannie of Dragons and the current Sovereign of All Islands, was the last to arrive on Orion’s Doorstep, the small island where the Tournament Council was held. She was an old woman, pleasantly plump and resigned to the fact that this would be her last tournament, but if all she had planned and done, it would not be the last one for dragons.

The boat docked and she asked her acolyte’s to help her onto shore. There was some huffing and puffing and grunting as they pulled and pushed Sasha out of the boat.

“There you go, Ma’m,” Beatrice, the first acolyte said, helping Sasha to straighten her robes. Margie, Sasha’s second acolyte, was bent over trying to catch her breath after all the exertion of pushing the Nannie of Dragons out of the boat.

“You know, I’m not that fat,” Sasha snapped at Margie. “It’s that when I ride in these old boats, my muscles get stiff.”

“Even so, Ma’m, you could lose a few pounds,” Margie said, having recovered from her effort.

Sasha gave Margie a glare, but then both women grinned at each other.

“I really think we should adopt a more respectful and dignified attitude while here,” Beatrice scolded both Sasha and Margie.

“Oh, Beatrice, you really must learn not to worry about what the others think. After all, we are dragons,” Sasha said gently, but firmly.

“Yes, Ma’m,” Beatrice said with a nod. 

“Are we going to tell them about the clutch?” Margie asked.

“Wings above, no! Now you two listen, no one is to know we are down to our final clutch and that, well, that there are no more eggs.”

The two younger women nodded solemnly.

“Good. We must be careful at this meeting. The others will try to get us to tip our hand. Especially the griffin. Now, shall we?” And then the three women walked up the path, climbed the stone stairs to the keep perched on the hillside.

Though it was a short distance, Sasha was out of breath when they arrived before the great doors. She bade her assistants wait a moment while she caught her breath and composed herself.

“Are you all right, Ma’m?” Margie asked, touching Sasha’s shoulder and arm.

Sasha nodded and took one big breath and then said, “I’m fine. I’m fine. All better. Let’s go in and see the others, shall we?”

Beatrice and Margie went to the doors and opened them before the Nannie of Dragons. Sasha stood as tall and as proud as she could as she entered the great hall. Inside, the other heads of the islands were gathered at a table, their assistants standing back while they made pleasant small talk awaiting their final member.

Sasha paused looking at the statues of the extraordinary protectors of the Orion Islands — the Great Guardians. Three or them were draped in black as they had gone extinct. Now there were only four statues that remained uncovered. The Unicorn, the Griffin, the Thorpin and the Dragon. Sasha looked at the statue of her dragon. It was modeled after Hawa, The Great Dragon. The Mother. 

It was a beautiful statue that glistened with the four colors of the elements. She shivered at the thought of Hawa’s statue draped in black.

“Ah, at last, the Nannie of Dragons, our Sovereign. I feared the worst…,” said Prim Nadine, of Griffin Island.

“Would you consider my death the worst, Prim?”

This caused a gasp from the Lady Cressida of Unicorn Island, but Prim Nadine smiled and offered a deferential nod. “Heaven forbid the death of yourself Sasha. You know the love and respect I hold for you.” 

“Hmmph,” Sasha said, but smiled at the weaselly Prim Nadine. “Well then we are both pleased. I am not dead, though I dare say you won’t be pleased to hear we have four hatchlings for this tournament and six children who have passed the trials.”

“That is wonderful news,” Lady Cressida said. “I am relieved and happy to hear this.”

Lady Cressida came and hugged Sasha and then gave the traditional bow and greeting required of all the heads of the islands to the one who’s Guardians had won the last tournament and secured sovereignty over the islands for the next two decades.

“Oh, it might also interest you to know, Prim, that one of the children who passed the trials is Thomas Brace.”

The polite smile faded from Prim Nadine’s face at the mention of that name and he gave a curt and quick bow.

“Shall we begin?” the Mayor of Thorpin Island, asked after a polite bow. “We have much to plan to bring this tournament together.”

Sasha joined the others at the table to begin the labor of creating the tournament to crown a Guardian and its rider as champions of the islands and bring in a new sovereign. For though Nan Sasha was the current Nannie of Dragons and head of Dragon Island, she suspected she would not see a champion crowned, so even if her dragons won, there would be a new sovereign. The dragons had held the sovereignty of the islands for nearly sixty years, twenty of them before Sasha herself became Nannie of Dragons. It was a surprise, when the dragons won on the last day of the competition. 

So the stakes were high for the dragons and for the other islands who all wished to take leadership of the islands and the coveted big island of Orion the seat of power in their archipelago. 

As Sasha listened to the reports from the other islands, and they matched what she had learned from her own scouts. The teams the islands were bringing to the tournament were among the most formidable ever and unfortunately, this year’s dragons were, well, never more strange.

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