There weren’t always dragons in the Valley. There weren’t tunnels, passages and secrets either. Now there are, lucky old me to be born into an era of fear, terror and dare I be so bold as to say—adventure?
Remi, my brother was such a scary fish, always hiding away in a cave, or behind a rock. Not me, I have dragon blood running in my veins. father told me that before he—left us.
Now there is only Remi and me, I’m Michga, my name means dragon soul. Ma, has a new father for us, she brought him in, and he stayed. We don’t know where he came from or who he is and we don’t ask, nor do we look him in the eye.
The scars which cover his face tell us all we need to know about him and where he has been. He has been beyond the valley, but why would he come back? Is it worse out there than in the valley? I am determined that I will find out, I’m not staying here waiting to be a dragon snack.
Each day I run the Gaumray, the open passageway which leads through the baren landscape of rocks, sand and scrubs. The remains of trees, blackened charcoal stumps reaching out in desperation to the skies for salvation lay here and there, offering little to no protection for a runner like me.
This is what they call us, we are highly regarded, which is no where near as grand as it sounds, or as it should be. For we are the ones who dare to face the dragons everyday in our quest to find knowledge, and answers in the tunnels.
Some days we don’t all come back. This is one of those days. I never expect they will be singing the mourning song for me when I gather by bag and strap it to myself. The pouch to the front for protection, material so worn and faded it its impossible to determine what it was to begin with.
A futile weapon of a home made dagger which I sheaf on my leg with a hope, if I fall I won’t injure myself. Thin leather straps I use to attach a shield of bones. A nod to my big brother and I leave the shelter of our cave, no second guessing, or looking east or west. Head down, arms pumping I race for my goal and the safety of the tunnels.
Familiar adrenaline surges through me and the roar of a dragon spurs me to run faster, push harder. A glance in the direction of the noise gives me confirmation of my guess. A Rundervelk circles above me, our eyes lock, with a dip of the head it forms into the dive mode. Wings flat against sides, long neck finishing in the snout stretching for the ground.
My eyes dart around the Gaumray and show me nothing, not even the rock which I spot at the last minute and go sailing into the air arms flailing as though I am a dragon too, one who didn’t attend flying lessons and is making things up as they go along.
Fortune, one would not imagine is on my side, however, you would be mistaken. The tumble could not be timed better, and I avoid certain death as the dragon cannot alter her course the speed at which she travels. I am safe.
The Rundervelk’s massive wings sweep backwards in an effort to halt her descent. Although the wings are effective they cannot avoid the huge snout ploughing straight into a hillock and out the other side.
In awe I stare at the destruction, awe quickly turns to wonder. An unchartered tunnel, there before me. Wasting no more time I scurry down the hole created by the dragon. Turning left, right, right and straight before pausing to catch my breath.
The tunnel is different to anything I have ever seen before, there are no drawings, writings or riddles on the walls. Perfect smooth surfaces are filling my vision, but how? Everyone knows the tunnels have the answers, this is why we run. Why would there be empty, blank tunnels. For what purpose?
I delve deeper, another talent of a runner is an incredible sense of direction. Add this to our speed and fantastic memory we have all the skills we need. A rumble comes to me from what appears to be the direction I am travelling, tunnels can be deceiving. Even so I slow my pace.
What is that? I wonder.
“Michga?” A deep, faraway voice asks.
“It is you. Come here child if you ever want to see your Father again.”
I run in the direction of the voice, as I round a corner my feet skid to a halt instantly back peddling in an effort to get purchase on the loose dusty ground. Before me curled into a ball like a sleeping hyena, it’s magnificent wings folded around itself. Was a Ekerhusna, the largest of all the dragons, and the most fierce.
An Ekerhusna can kill you with a look, or so I have been told. I have never seen one before other than in the crude drawings on the tunnel walls.
“Fear not, I shall not harm you dragon soul.”
Every instinct in me screams to run, run fast and never look back. Pray to make it back to safety, yet wait.
“You can speak?”
“Obviously, and you, they tell me, are the bright one. Small hope for the rest of them.”
My mouth opens, then closes several times. Words fail me and a strange mewling noise comes from my mouth which I don’t recognise.
“Are you ill, are you in pain?” The dragon asks me, clearly wondering what the noise is as much as I am.
“My—father, you mentioned my father,” shaking my head in disbelief.
“A great man, a great friend. There is a reason you were named dragon soul.”
“Sorry?” My eyes squint as I try too understand what she means.
“There weren’t always humans in the valley, but there has always been your father.”
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