The Farmer and the Fald - 2nd Edition Extract
An extract from the soon-to-be-released reedition of my fantasy Novella
Here is an extract from the first chapter of my fantasy novel: ‘The Farmer and the Fald’, as it will be when the 2nd Edition is released in February 2023.
A few things have been altered and embellished, the lore had been updated and amended to be more inline with the old stories depicted in the poems of The Faerfolk’s Edda, my ongoing poetry anthology.
Farmer Bundon has just bought milk, bread and linens for his wife, who is great with child and like to burst any day! However he finds himself distracted by a promise of magic and wonder in the form of an ancient story…
I hope you enjoy!
“I look about the town and I see faces. Many faces. Faces who have not yet graced our Dragon’s Temple.”
The voice was familiar. The farmer looked about and found the source. The Krillian, standing on the cobbled auctioneer dais in the market square, arms outstretched, ready to speak. Children gathered in their multitudes, all sitting cross-legged at the foot of the dais. Eager, bright faces excited for the magic to come.
I’ve not seen one of the Temple’s sermons since I were a lad.
The farmer recalled fondly the time his pa had taken him to market, and he had sat where the children sat now. Wide-eyed with wonder. The Krillian had seemed old back then, when Bundon was a boy; but now… he seemed even older. Doddering, almost.
Farmer Bundon led Veg to the edge of the growing congregation and watched on curiously. The Krillian and the Brothers of the Temple were known for their glamours and tricks, intertwining their weekly orations with clever sleights-of-hand and colourful enchantments. Bundon recalled the smiles and the laughter; he had little time to dawdle, he knew, but how often did simple farmers get to see such wonder? The promise of mystery and magic paused his stride.
“Come, listen, gentlefolk. To a tale as old as the mountain. A story half-hidden and near forgotten, filed away in the vaults of history. Of that time, long ago when dragons ruled the skies! But what are dragons?” The old man asked, allowing the eager children to proffer some suggestions.
“Lizards!” One cried out.
“Magic lizards!” Another amended.
“Monsters!” Came a third.
“No, no, no,” the Krillian chuckled, shaking his head. “Lizards are benign little creatures. Native to this mortal realm. Monsters? A little closer to the mark, perhaps. But for a clearer understanding, let us start many long ages past. Before even the elves held dominion. When our World was fresh born, coupled as she was with her shining Prince; the Sun. Together they bore six children. We see their like everyday. They be the Mountains, the Seas, the Wilds and the Storms. They be the Stars and the Moon. And, for a time, the this divine family moulded, and shaped the world; carving out a fair home for all elvenkind. But the Sun Prince bore another child in secret. He plucked out his right eye, glinting like a cut emerald, and carved from it a monstrous son, with hardened scales, a long neck and tail and two great leathery wings. He hallowed the beast with speech and cunning and commanded each of his trueborn children to present a gift to his newest creation.
“The Mountains gave the gift of humility. The Seas the gift of truth, the Storms gifted patience, the Wilds; love, the Stars; gratitude and the Moon; vigilance. And the Prince of Fire gave the most generous gift of all; a sacred fire. One born from the very heart of our great, golden Sun. And then, with deft artistry, the Prince summoned from the cosmos the might of those ancient, formless titans. Nameless primordial giants that dance through eternity, unbound. There, in the heavens, the Prince wrangled them, as one might wrangle an angry bull. Taming the chaos and ushering life into his grandest creation.
But the children in their jealousy had tricked their father; the Prince of Fire. And though they swore their gifts were virtues… the bitterness in which they were given, coupled with that formless chaos, corrupted the virtues to sin. The gifts of humility and honesty twisted and writhed into pride and deceit. Patience and love now took the forms of wrath and desire. While gratitude and vigilance withered to naught but envy and apathy. And the generous, sacred fire trusted to him burnt now with a deep, insatiable greed.
And thus was born the first dragon. But certainly not the last. For the chaos spread, and spread hungrily. Spawning many more titans as it went. Red dragons, gold dragons, bejewelled sea dragons of jade and silver. Fairy dragons that could sit a man’s hand and fearsome fire drakes whose wings could blot the sun.
“The Prince of Fire was dismayed. As were his children. And with all their might they sought to bind this spreading chaos. To cage the dragons deep, deep within the molten heart of the World. And there the beasts remained. Until that fateful day. The day the elves named: Gadawieth. ‘The Orphaning’. When the Prince of Fire and all his godly children ceased their labours on the world and withdrew their weary hands from the loom. Abandoning us to our fate. And as their influence broke from the world so too did the Prince’s hellish cage; and soon the dragons soared. Erupting from the earth in great geysers of fire and ash.
“But stay a moment, here. Put a hand to your chest, just so. Feel it beating? Your heart. Within you. Guiding you. Dragons, though… dragons can place their hearts where’er they wish. And being mistrusting creatures by nature, if nature it be, most desire to keep their hearts within their hoards. Locked away. Deaf to the wails of their conscience. Silenced, but safe. Safe beside their chased goblets and cut gemstones, within chests not of blood and bone; but of oak and iron. Amongst clinking coins beyond count, wrought of copper, silver and gold. Gold most of all. For dragons have hearts of gold, you understand. Cold, inert and unchanging. The grander the hoard the grander the dragon, you see, and oh how quickly their hoards would grow. Power beyond reckoning. Beauty beyond imagining. Titans of gold and fire.”
The crowd was growing quickly, the grownups fast outnumbering the children, with gasps echoing through the whole congregation as the Krillian threw clouds of many-coloured smokes into the air with graceful flicks of his wrist, dazzling the little ones as the clouds sparkled and took the shapes of writhing dragons, all clawing at one another, and breathing their foul fire. A hundred tiny dragons, perhaps as many as a thousand, all swarming through the coloured clouds of the Temple’s divine illusions.
“But as the dragon’s grew their sins grew with them. And in the company of such prideful creatures, how could peace e’er hope to survive? Dragon soon fought against dragon. And the calamities that followed sit now like scars across the earth. Those of draconic bloodlines regard themselves as second to none, you see, so how could any but one exist? And so the skies were a constant battlefield. Ashen clouds alight with dancing fire; pained roars like thunder from the mountains. Many thousands of dragons were slain, each one bequeathing their hoard to the victor.
“Some, though. Some did not fight. Fearing too much their own demise. These lesser dragons chose, instead, to hide. Masked in glamours and guises, enchantments so deftly threaded that magic and material walk seemingly hand-in-hand. Roaming the world in the shapes of men and women, coveting their remaining wealth. Resenting their fragile form. Ugly, in their eyes. Stanching their wounded pride with endless webs of desperate lies, often entangling their own minds within them. But for true dragons the wars waged ever on. Their undying fires turned the skies to ruin. Ash fell like snow, blotting the sun; allowing the icy hands of the north to reach down from the Cold Beyond. And so the world froze over. Nothing grew. Nothing lived. The dragons had sundered all. And the world might have stayed such… had it not been for Him.” The Krillian stopped, picked up his blackwood staff and planted it on the ground with a solid thwack; a bright green cloud erupted from its tip, moving in the air to form the shape of a great green drake in flight. Bundon found himself awed by the spectacle, it had been many years since he had watched one of the Temple’s sermons, and he did not remember them being so... magical.
I will bring my own little ‘un here one day. Bundon dreamed happily. And he shall sit there cross-legged, listening on, as I once did.
“Behold, Kri!” The Krillian roared as gasps echoed from the crowd, now comprised in equal parts; men, women and children.
“You might recall him. The first dragon. Sired by the Sun itself. He bore a hide of shining emeralds and wings of cloth-of-gold, and bright, golden eyes that beheld an ancient wisdom. The lingering wisdom of those half-forgotten gods. For when he sat amidst the clouds of the Dalkamont and watched as an eternal winter buffeted the land… he did not skulk beneath the earth, as many of his kin had done. Nay. He did not hide, nor mask his tracks with deceit. He saw now the folly of such destruction. Such cowardice. Was this to be his legacy? Was he to be king of naught but ash and snow? The destroyer of all his betters had created? No. No, not He. Instead he called forth his brothers; lesser drakes with scales of obsidian and wings as bright as fresh shed blood.” The Krillian twisted his staff, and two clouds of black and red circled in the air, forming two more dragons that stood stalwart by their great green brother. The crowd gasped and cheered and the children clapped their wonder as the three illusions soared over Dalkaford; over the market stalls, coiling around the stone bell tower and roaring their divine fire into the clear blue sky.
“Kri beheld the ruin of the world. And he wept. For this was the land of his father. Of his brothers and sisters. And with them gone, surely now its stewardship fell to him. And with this thought alone… the bitterness that had corrupted him so long ago withered and fell away, revealing the old, tarnished virtue beneath. Kri and his brothers flew o’er the icy wastes, grief marking their faces, golden raindrops cascading down to the earth below. And from the warmth of their tears… the ice began to melt. They beheld this wonder and made a bold decision. Kri bid his brothers burrow into the earth. To rid themselves of their monstrous hoards, the hoards that had corrupted their kin so. To make the hills and the forests and rivers their hoards instead. To place their hearts in the natural riches of the world. And so they did. And His brothers died to give that gift." The black clouds faded from sight, dissolving into the low autumn sun, and then the Krillian grew sombre.
"As his brethren lay there lifeless… having given away their hoards; our Dragon, our Noble Dragon thought o’er what it is he might give. And from those thoughts came a whispered prayer. A prayer we would not hear for ten thousand years or more. For he recalled the Prince’s gift. The sacred fire that burnt within. And he said unto us 'By my Dragon’s fire, so noble and strong. I give you my sacred flame'.
"The prayer was then etched onto every stone on every mountain. To every wave on every sea. To every leaf on every tree and every cloud in every sky. It shone out by the light of the moon and stars, so that we might bask in it for all time. Hear it and be reminded of his sacrifice. For when Kri lay himself down and gazed about the ruinous lands… he breathed away his last weary breath. But no fire issued forth, no. No inferno. But a warm wind, like that of a summer’s breeze. And with it the buds of the first forest blossomed into trees. The ice receded to the bitter north. The rivers ran quick and clear with crystalline water. But our Green Dragon had given away his hoard, and with it the essence that made dragons immortal. He lay there high on the mountain as the first rains of the century beat down upon his back. There he closed his eyes and melted into the earth.”
The green cloud faded, carried off on the autumn breeze. The Krillian stood unsteadily, head hung in prayer. He seemed spent. His hands shook, and there was an odd tremor to his voice.
“A sacrifice,” he said, white whiskers trembling. “For this world. For Tyr’Dalka. For us. For the possibility of us. In all of our innumerable variations. For the kindnesses and falsehoods alike. All that we are. All that we can be. Dragon’s are evil, yes. Deceitful and prideful. Lustful and wroth. Envious and uncaring and wrought with avarice. And yet… Here we are. Breathing. Beating. Burning, and burning bright. Because one dragon, just one, stood stalwart against the evil innate within. And so too must we. Hold fast, brave people of Dalkaford. Be as the willow; stand strong even as your last leaf falls. Plant your hearts in the riches of the world and resist the foul influence of lesser dragons where’er it might be found. The coming years will be hard, I think. Let us remember the bonds we hold now, here; in days of plenty. To better remind ourselves should less prosperous times avail us. I am tired, but I grant you now what little I have left. From our Dragon’s fire, so noble and strong. I give you my sacred flame.”
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I am a fantasy author, illustrator and aspiring poet. If you’d like to help support my projects, you can find my fantasy work here.Thanks for reading Greenjack's Journal! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.