This is a part of a chapter from Summer Storm, an urban fantasy. The main character found something earlier in the story and he has no idea how important it really is. I hope you enjoy it!
I drank the cup of tea and decided bed would be better than sitting there, shivering. Bed and warm covers where I could let myself slip off into sleep. I felt exhausted. I stumbled into the room stripped to my underwear and crawled under the blankets, grateful to be still.
I didn't sleep so well.
The nightmare began almost immediately. I think I jerked awake once, grateful to be out of it -- but maybe I dreamed I was awake, because as soon as I went to sleep again, I dropped right back to the same spot.
I stood in the midst of a medieval battle. I could hear the sound of swords and the yells of men and other creatures as they fought. I directed things, which on one level scared the hell out of me since I know nothing about tactics and strategy. My dream self knew what to do, though.
People surged through the courtyard, shouting, angry, worried and afraid. Then other things came out of the darkness and through the already destroyed gate: huge creatures, with red eyes and blood stained mouths. I watched one catch a woman, break her neck, and bury his mouth in her chest. I could hear the crunch of bone and the tearing of flesh. I would have been ill, but the me in the dream ordered an attack.
When I raised my hands and blasted the creature, the magic felt right, though I could see we wouldn't stand up to this onslaught.
"We can't hold!" I shouted. I heard cries of dismay and shock. "Get to the keep! Protect Vane!"
"There is no protection for me," someone said at my back. I spun to see a tall, thin man shaking his head with loss as he looked out at the fallen and the continuing battle. "I must fight with you or we are all lost."
"If you are lost, sir, we lose ourselves. Go back to your chamber!"
"They have already breached my chamber. There is no safety, my friend."
Shock, horror; but I fought those emotions aside. We could not have fallen this easily! There had been treachery involved, but I didn't have time to hunt out the threads with all else falling around us.
I wouldn't give up! I spun to fight, creating my sword from the magic around me while trying to keep Vane at my back. He wouldn't stay from the battle, though. More of the clan surged in around us, and we formed a square, but the enemy broke through before we could draw on the power. Others rushed past the breached gate, swinging axes and killing everyone they saw. I couldn't tell the clan. They hid their identity from us.
I knew we couldn't hold, but I refused to give up the fight. We had to do something to survive.
"We have to go," I said, feeling frantic. "We have to get out of here. Retreat to one of the lesser holdings."
"There is no time," Vane replied, his voice steady. "But I will give you what help I can."
Vane began to change: his human outline melted, shifted and grew. Huge. Gigantic. Others leapt away as the dragon took shape. I knew this meant we had little chance of winning, if we needed the dragon to help us.
And we did need him. A wall of creatures like none I had ever seen swarmed through the gate, and charged forward at us: Black, shapeless things from the Other Side which made them dangerous and unpredictable. We were already losing against the other fae and creatures. We could not fight these as well.
They swept in and killed everything they could reach and before I could shout a warning, they swarmed over the dragon as he threw himself before the last of us. He howled and began thrashing. We all backed away, friend and foe alike. I had to help him!
Vane rose on his back legs, screamed to the sky, and threw himself amid the enemy again, crushing quite a few and tossing aside the black creatures. He battled away others and broke a path for us to the gate. We could get clear!
And the dragon fell and didn't get back up.
A great shout went up from the enemy, which spurred us to new anger, though we had lost all hope. I fought and killed everything that came at me, heedless of my own wounds, and reached the dragon. Vane blinked at me, the left emerald green eye already half clouded. Wounds bled everywhere across his damaged silver scales.
"Get the egg," he whispered, a sound too soft from such a huge creature. "Get the egg and go . . . elsewhere."
His eyes closed; his breathing stopped. I saw a flutter of color lift from his skin, dance in the air and dart into the keep. The essence of life would migrate to the dragon egg and impregnate it with life so the dragon could be born again. We had to protect the egg, which I knew we couldn't do here.
"Get the egg!" I shouted. The others hadn't realized the dragon had died and a cry of despair rose around me. I sent a wave of magic at the enemy and so did a dozen others, using all we could to make a shield, though the magic wouldn't hold long. "Gather, everyone gather! We're going to ride the wind. We're going outbound!."
I heard more calls of alarm but everyone obeyed. People came from the keep carrying something large wrapped in magic. We didn't have time to take more precautions. Damned dangerous work, to take off like this.
"Brandis, try to center us," I yelled to a man who came limping towards me. He had good, strong magic.
The shield started to flare and break. I glanced frantically around. "Protect the egg! You hold our only hope!"
We grabbed horses out of the magical wild. I glanced back at the dragon's body and shook my head as I put my hand to the symbol at my neck. "We will meet again, Vane. You'll remember us. We won't let you go."
And then we wove magic so strong the power felt like fire in the air. The shield went down and we went up and outbound through the nether, the battleground disappearing in a blur of colors. The others formed into squares upon squares, those holding the egg in the middle. We traveled the netherworld for a breath and another, holding to this cold place of too bright colors.
I brought us out somewhere else and skimmed along clouds stretching below us. I caught a glimpse of buildings and a river. We drew magic from the flowing water and the air tasted fresh after the stink of battle, though I felt the taint of technology all around us. We wouldn't be staying here. I put my hand on my medallion and tried to believe we would survive, regroup and win over the enemy. The sun rose in our faces and while half-blinding, still felt warm and welcome. I could see hope in this new dawn.
"We'll follow this river for a little ways, gather power, and then head outbound once more. We need to gather strength and catch our breath!"
"Where shall we go?" Brandis asked. His long dark hair hung in snarls and he sounded worried and lost.
"What took down the dragon?" he asked, his eyes narrowed as he glanced back at the egg.
"I don't know, but I felt they came from the other side."
I heard shouts of anger as the rest of the clan learned the enemy had banded with such creatures --
I felt a shield spring into existence before us, so sudden and strong the air turned to ice. The storm clouds we had ridden danced in a chaotic frenzy and lightning flashed bright, blinding us. We turned, spun -- I tried to keep track of the others, and see where the egg had gone, but the squares broke up. Dangerous --
"Hold on! Hold back!" I shouted, knowing we'd fallen into a trap.
Then I saw a few hundred of the enemy rushing us with weapons and magic already flying. My horse faltered. I put my hand to my chest and the dragon medallion I wore there, and wished the next leader of the clan a better chance. I took it off --
I saw the javelin flying toward me and I dropped the chain as the weapon hit.
I fell, fell, the storm, the wind the rain --
Falling. . . .
I leapt up, calling out in surprise, dismay and loss, with my hand on my chest. I expected to find blood.
No. I stood in my bedroom, not riding horses in the clouds.
I had never, never had a dream so real in my life. I could still feel the wind in my face, the smooth glide of a horse flying beneath me. I felt sadness at the death of the dragon and hoped the egg had survived and hadn't fallen to the enemy --
Not real. The battle, the dragon -- everything had been a mishmash linking the storm with the dragon medallion I had found.
I settled into bed, looking out the window where another storm raged. The remnants of the dream haunted me through the remainder of the night.
(Back cover to upcoming Summer Storm novel)