Monday, June 20, 2011


Fifth Trial of a Dragon Knight
By Robert William Shmigelsky

The words "ascend and reach the top of the mountains without the use of your wings" echoed through the young apprentice's mind, reminding him of the task at hand.

He was brought here then left behind without being given specific instructions on how to go about doing exactly that. He had only recently earned the chosen weapon of a dragon knight. He figured overcoming this fifth of seven trials would entail using it in some way and in the process mastering the art of the scimitar.

The words of his dragon master leading him forward, the inspiring knight stood tall, high up amidst the majesty and vastness of the White Mountains, and surveyed the surrounding mountains and their cloud-wrapped peaks.

His dragon helm hiding his facial expression in a veil of secrecy, he knew he couldn’t climb any one of these mountains. As was said by his and the other four lineages, the White Mountains were unclimbable without magic, their slopes either being too tall or slippery and the wintry forces churning atop them – too fierce and far-reaching.

His mind searched for ideas: the way he was supposed to overcome this challenge. Although he did not know if it would work, one idea quickly leapt to the forefront of his mind. He picked the mountain peak before him and told himself there was only one way for him to find out.

He closed his eyes, dulled his other senses and saw the mountains and their slopes standing around him, almost encasing him. They appeared as vividly as they did in the real world.

He felt the accumulated weight of snow on the surrounding mountain slopes on his shoulders, ready to come crashing down towards him at the slightest disturbance, and saw the weakest points in the snow banks from where the conciliating motions in the air hit and bounced off their glistening white slopes.

Picking a nearby spot to his right he unsheathed the scimitar embedded discretely in his armor then using an effortless motion hurled out a bolt of spiraling green wind from the tip of his blade towards the mountain. It struck the mountain where he intended and a small avalanche of snow slid down to his right and passed him.

The bottom of the mountain to his right filled a small measure.

The apprentice repeated the process and hurled out another bolt of wind: this time to his left.

A second small avalanche of snow rumbled down to his left, brushed past him and filled the other side of the mountain’s basin.

Fully immersed, the apprentice’s lids parted open, but his eyes, channeling his innermost senses, saw only the direction of the mountain air around him and the shapes, sizes and angles of the avalanches that would result in relation to where he hit them.

He looked up above him, near the top of the peak he had chosen, and sent hurling a third bolt of wind. Illuminated in his eyes, it spiraled towards the most fragile point in the mountain, which according to what the wind showed him would produce the largest avalanche yet.

Perceiving through his second sight, a large avalanche roared to life and plummeted down the mountain top, threatening to engulf him as soon as the bolt hit the side of the mountain.

His dragon-like eyes showing no emotion through the narrow slits in his helm, the apprentice calmly crouched then effortlessly leapt into the air as the avalanche rumbled past where he had been standing moments before.

His boots propelled him high into the sky. He did not use their wings.

When he reached nearly a quarter of the way up the mountain his progress slowed then stopped altogether before he began to plummet back down.

The avalanche had run its course by the time his boots hit the added layer of snow now covering the basin.

Without pause, as soon as he had recovered from his landing, he swung his scimitar left and right. Two bolts, one aimed at either side of him, hurled through the air and hit the mountains at those directions.

Two more large avalanches roared to life and rumbled towards him, sending huge plumes of snow up through the air.

As the mountainsides collapsed inwards towards him, the apprentice swung his body left then right and directed the energies of his blade before and behind him. He leapt up into the air as the first two avalanches, followed shortly by the additional two, rumbled underneath him.

Soaring straight up through the air, he directed bolts of wind left, right and behind him at carefully aimed points. Avalanches erupted to life then gave their last gasps.

As the full fury of the mountains slid down left, right, before, behind and below him, he fired a second volley before landing back down on the raised basin. He repeated what he had done in the beginning – only quicker and with greater results, raising the compacting snow under his feet with every avalanche and steadily reaching higher and higher up the mountain as he leapt into the air, continuously hurling bolts of wind around him.

Getting into the groove of things, the air brushing against his armor, his pace only quickened and grew more effective until finally the nearby mountain slopes were nearly all bare of snow and the basin that had stood at the bottom of the mountains was no longer a basin but a mound of snow almost level with the top of the peak he had chosen.

After nearly a whole hour of uninterrupted work, the apprentice finally stopped and sheathed his scimitar. He stood motionless as he let the balance between him and the world slide back into place and restore itself.

From the last avalanche a single flake of snow fell and melted on his armor.

Finally finished, the apprentice relaxed and looked up at the peak.

Without putting much effort into it, he crouched then leapt up into the air one final time. He landed atop the mountain peak in a half-kneel as he braced himself. He raised himself up and leveled his gaze before him. Above the veil of the clouds two landscapes – one on either side of the blocking mountain range – opened up before him, showing him a strange and variegated world populated by many vastly different places.

As he absorbed in the sights of the lands around him, the apprentice reflected, finally allowed himself to inhale the mountain air and regain his breath. The air filled him as he let the weight of the moment press down upon him.

He had bested the mountains and completed the fifth trial in the way of him becoming a dragon knight like his brethren before him. Not only had he proved to himself that he had mastered the art of the scimitar, he had realized the full extent of that meaning and shown his dragon master, who he knew was somewhere watching unseen, how to wield it in conjunction with the world around him.

Nothing else left to do here, having regained his breath; the apprentice swung around towards his side of the mountains then leapt up and caught a current of wind. Riding the high wind, he whipped and curled in the air as he flew up towards a familiar sight of castles, halls, mansions, towards and arks – to slumber between trials.

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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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