Tuesday, June 7, 2011


The Dragon King
By Robert William Shmigelsky

The high wind, tossing and turning over top of a vast kingdom of castles, mansions, towers, halls and arks, flew towards a tall, distant blue tower, which spiraled up into the night sky to the top of the veiled heavens beyond like a whirlwind pulled up from the ocean and frozen into place.

It rode in, through a narrow slit in the tower’s wall, to the top of the tower and into its main hall, which, like most of the floors in the tower, stood majestic with its wealth and splendor and its dazzling arrangement of hanging blue banners embroidered with the emblems of dragons, behemoths and other fierce beasts, presently empty but frozen blue alcoves awaiting the return of their absent occupants, rows of glistening bluestone pillars, glass mirrors backed with the high wind and crenellated balconies standing out like distant mountain peaks.

Like the king he was, Kalaran Stormrider stood on his raised dais with his half-full, half-empty, cup raised in his hand. He was amongst his fellow dragon knights, his four brothers and those that had happened to be present for a night of food and drink in celebration of the victory that would be sung from hall to hall until it was etched into memory, sung by their children then their own children after that.

Except for two diagonal slits revealing his dark-auburn brown eyes, offering a glimpse into the mind of the dragon master, Kalaran Stormrider’s facial expressions were concealed behind the metal snout and frame of his dragon-inspired helm. Running down the length of his arms and legs glistened blue mithril plate wrapped around his body like a strange wind: metal as light as a feather. But standing out most, with their polished shine, was the glittering pair of mithril dragon boots, with tiny white Pegasus wings attached at the heels, he wore on his feet.

One part on account of his night of heavy drink and being swept away by the emotion of it, the other to his usual pretentious ways, Kalaran exclaimed to his brothers:

“In the name of the Light, the four godly gifts it bestowed upon us and in honor of our triumphant return from the First Dark Crusade, I here challenge my three extraordinary brothers,” Kalaran said, gesturing with his right hand towards the kings of sages, rangers and temporal knights; who, by all accounts, looked magnificent in their fine robes, armor and jewelry. “But not my fourth brother, who is ordinary as he was not given a gift of his own,” he added, gesturing towards the king of those who were ordinary, who like the king were dressed in plain ordinary clothing. “To a series of ‘friendly’ duels to see who amongst us four is the best and brightest.”

While the first three brothers showed no obviously ill feelings towards their brother, raising their arms in the air and turning to face the crowd when Kalaran called out their names; Dalahan, the fourth brother, was clearly less than impressed. He crossed his gauntlets over his chest and his face tightened slightly.

His broad shoulders and lofty frame complemented by his long and silvery cape, Kalaran walked forward into the crowd and directed them to clear the floor to make space for the match. He faced his brothers and asked: “tell me—who amongst my three brothers is the bravest? Who shall step forward to face me first?”

The rangers in the crowd, well known for their boisterous and adventurous ways, quickly hollered the name of their king, encouraging him to step forward.

Feigning reluctance, Eldaeron Shadowwalker obliged his fellows and stepped forward. Rather than use his own, Eldaeron asked for and received another ranger’s bow before walking forward and stepping into the ring.

The crowd died down as Kalaran and the ranger-king walked towards each other. They stopped a fair distance from each other then gave each other a pair of cynical good lucks.

When Kalaran stood ready, in less time than it would take to blink an eye, the ranger-king slung out his bow from over his shoulder, sidestepped into dimensional shadows, reappeared to the left and sent a pointed blue arrow, wrought of winter’s touch, hurling towards its intended target.

But in response, Kalaran simply unsheathed his sword from the scabbard embedded in the left legging of his armor. The scimitar’s spiraling green vortex whirled and hissed before him and from it a small storm hurled outwards.

Eldaeron’s arrow flew into the storm and was immediately sent hurling away from Kalaran toward a far off wall, encasing it in ice.

As Eldaeron gazed upon the arrow’s splintered remains, Kalaran stood up and gave the cheering crowd his victory pose, bowing low with his hands stretched wide.

Knowing he had met his match on this day, the ranger-king bowed humbly and returned to his fellows, who—always enjoying a good show even though it did not have the outcome they desired—clapped their king on the back for giving it a good try.

Continuing down his pretentious path, Kalaran stretched out his hands before him and asked the crowd: “Now, who amongst my brothers is the second bravest?”

The sages in the crowd, known for their initial caution but their fervor once something had been tried and tested, hollered out the name of their king, who in response to their fevered cries teleported in front of Kalaran and stood amply ready in his fiery red garb and crimson rod. The ruby-inset ring on his left index finger glowed with spiraling flames within.

Kalaran raised his hand, asking for a moment. He sauntered up the steps of his raised dais, stopped in front of his throne and swung around. In position, he bowed before his brother in slight jest.

Intending to punish his brother for his lack of respect, when Kalaran stood up, Ragnar Firebringer teleported again, but kept teleporting around Kalaran, making it appear there were twelve wizards around him.

Using the same concentration he used when listening to the wind to discover the world’s mood, Kalaran stayed absolutely still, closed his eyes and listened. He kept his senses attuned to the vibrations around him, recognized the patterns and waited.

As soon as he sensed the slightest change in the fluctuations, in that fraction of a second, Kalaran opened his eyes, reached over to the side of his throne and swung back.

The next moment a giant fireball struck Kalaran’s pronged shield and vaporized harmlessly into a cloud of dust.

Noticeably vexed, the fire-king swung his robe over his shoulder and tapped the head of his staff onto the cold tiled floor and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Kalaran looked before him and gave the crowd an exaggerated gesture with his hands and face as Dalahan watched on with great interest, a deep and attentive look engraved on his tired, timeworn face.

Before Kalaran could further boast, the temporal king stepped forward and stopped before the dragon-king.

With a deceivingly youthful look on his face, a breeze of confidence lingering in the air around him, Ither Timeholder looked at Kalaran, but did not bother to unsheathe his sword from its scabbard.

Kalaran smiled with much anticipation. He knew this brother would be the hardest for him to defeat. It was not that his skill matched his own; he knew the temporal king could simply stop time around him if needed be.

He resumed a fighting pose; the temporal king simply stood there.

His cape giving him that extra boost, using his mithril dragon boots, Kalaran gave himself a starting run then leapt into the air and swung out with the blade of his scimitar, but before his blade reached its intended target; Ither Timeholder clutched the golden looped cross around his neck and froze time around Kalaran then simply walked away, restoring the distance between them.

Ither would stand there for a few moments and wait for the spell to wear off. When Kalaran was unencumbered once more, he would turn and face his brother with a look of increased determination etched on his face.

Kalaran know realized his brother would freeze time no matter how quick he was, whether on his feet or not, and that his experience and prowess as a dragon knight would be useless for him from here on.

He decided to converse his energy by walking towards his opponent, but when he thought he was close enough, perhaps close enough to catch Ither off guard, Kalaran leapt again, but the result was the same: the temporal king would simply stop time then give himself a comfortable distance.

The temporal king asked his brother if he wished to admit defeat, but Kalaran shook his head in stubborn defiance and pushed on.

Their game of cat and mouse continued on a couple more rounds until, with the sheer weight of time pressing down upon him finally taking its toll, Kalaran’s reactions slowed; his movements became slightly off balanced; and his body began to reach its limit.

Once more the temporal king asked his brother if he conceded.

Kalaran felt the match slipping away from him. He delved into his own thoughts. Though he kept it from the forefront of his mind, he believed he had noticed something about his brother. Although he should have noticed it beforehand, he had never fought his brother before. While he knew it would be a gamble; he also knew it might be the only chance he had to defeat Ither Timeholder.

He lowered his head, said nothing in reply and walked forward, stopped before an unsuspecting Ither.

“Do you concede, brother?” Ither Timeholder asked.

Kalaran did not immediately look up and answer, but Ither Timeholder remained absolutely patient, having all the time in the world.

Kalaran looked up at his brother and gave him his answer.


Ither’s face flashed with surprise.

“Why is that, brother?”

“For the same reason you do not fight back.”

“And what is that?”

And so Kalaran told him.

“The reason you do not attack me after freezing time is for you have been freezing time around me. If you attacked me – time would freeze for you as well, brother.”

Ither laughed. “That is ridiculous, brother.”

Kalaran raised his sword and shield casually into the air and said: “then come and finish me, brother. Here I am.”

Ither Timeholder looked at his brother for a moment as if not believing what he was seeing and hearing, but then he smiled and let out a boisterous laugh. Ither embraced his brother with both hands and told Kalaran: “I hate to admit it, brother, but I think you have me figured out. I admit defeat.”

Relieved that he had won, Kalaran leaned into his brother and embraced him in return. Ither gave his brother a small slap on the back before leaving the floor to his brother.

Everyone in attendance clapped and cheered this magnificent display of heroic feats, even those that had been cheering against Kalaran. Even Dalahan himself gave a small clap for his brother and the intension that had been on his face seemed to ease.

Kalaran swung back around and faced the crowd and resumed his high and mighty pose. He turned and bowed for the crowd and gave them a series of exaggerated gestures with his hands. “Thank you, thank you all for coming to celebrate this glorious night, made even more glorious by my extraordinary brothers,” he hastily told the crowd, “but I’m afraid this will be the end of my demonstration, unless of course you all wish to see me best my fourth brother,” he added with a grin.

Dalahan’s long and bearded face once more rifled with indignation as everyone in the main hall laughed. Ignoring their voices, he motioned for those around him to follow before swiftly departing.

“Now, I must wish you all a good night and a very fond fare well – until tomorrow night that is and the next party it brings,” Kalaran laughed, who raised the cup in his hand for one final toast.

With that said everyone still left in the vicinity turned around and began filtering out of the tower while Kalaran, wanting to lie down in a real bed for a change, retreated to his private chamber in the enjoining room at the back of the main hall.

Kalaran sat down at the edge of a pleasing couch bed and slid out of his boots. After all, all men must sleep at night and Kalaran was no different and like them – they don’t usually wear their boots to bed. Finished undressing, he laid down and soon sleep came to him as the wind coiled unheard towards the chamber’s open balcony and out into the night.


As Kalaran slept and the wind blew fierce in the middle of the night, a dark figure dropped down onto his open balcony.

Careful not to make a noise and risk waking Kalaran up, Dalahan quietly made his way from the balcony and edged towards his brother’s bedside.

He stopped next to the pair of mithril dragon boots sitting on the ground and looked at the face of his brother. He was still fast asleep.

Dalahan glanced enviously at his brother’s boots before unsheathing his dagger and stepping towards his brother. Without pause, he slid the curved edge of his dagger across his brother’s throat whilst his boots were off believing Kalaran was just a man without them.

Kalaran screamed in agony before the gurgling of blood flowing out his parted throat and down his front muffled his screams and Kalaran fell down dead.

Knowing someone might have heard the scream, Dalahan hastily grabbed his brother’s boots and ran off with them, thinking now the boots would make him extraordinary.

Dalahan quickly rejoined the rest of his men in the main hall.

“Did you kill the guards and the others while they slept?” Dalahan asked them.

“It is done my liege,” one of the men quietly replied, his sword in hand.

“Good. Then let us swiftly depart. I have what I came for,” said Dalahan.

“But do you plan on wearing them? If so – the others will know it was us. What good is this gift if you can’t use it?”

“Oh, I will wear them all right, even if it’s the last thing I do.”

“But sire that would surely lead to war!”

“I’m counting on it: its time someone taught those who are extraordinary what it means to be ordinary. Now, come. Let us depart!”

Just like that, with his prized trophy in tow, Dalahan and his men disappeared into the night, the blearing of the wind stifling the sound of their retreating footsteps.

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Robert, a residential care aide, is unapologetic in his pursuit of excellent high fantasy. Robert has been writing fantasy for himself in his spare time for the last seven years, but has only recently begun writing for others. Besides reading and writing, some of his hobbies include computers and medieval and ancient history. He has a dry sense of humor, which he blames his stepfather for. Also, he has a habit of making history jokes no one but he understands.


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