This portion of the story is a mixture of new and old, meaning that some has been written currently and some was written some time ago. I like this scene because it gives a brief look at the entrance to the Wells. I’m not certain how well that is explained here. I know that when I go back for another rabbit-hole edit, it’s my intention to really sharpen the description. But, as you know, this is raw. This is the very basic story. Sometimes the words stay like they were to keep the energy, and sometimes I make the rabbit hole deeper. This is one section I knew would need to be made deeper.
Now, next week we get into the actual travel through the Wells. It’ll be the first time we’ve ever seen that before in any of the stories. Oh, we’ve seen space travel, but never Well travel. Get hyped for that.
Let’s get Moonhunter and Balthier moving in that direction, shall we?
Dragons of Wellsdeep is an epic science fantasy story filled with action, adventure, space travel, magic, dragons, and flying. Chapter 9 is available for 1 week only! Then it will turn back into a pumpkin and a new chapter will appear!
Previously: Moonhunter was born and his novimather (dragon mother) left him in the care of an older man named Balthier. Years later, during one of there missions, Moonhunter believes that Balthier’s informant has sabotaged them and they barely escape. Not that their lives were ever in any danger (maybe – depends on who is after them) because they are novihomidraks — new humans born of the dragon. After they get off the planet, Balthier begins to believe that Moonhunter is hiding something from him. Moonhunter is secretly trying to use his wings. It’s rare for a novihomidrak to have wings, so Moonhunter is afraid of what it’ll mean if someone finds out. Meanwhile, Balthier is trying to figure out if they were set up and, when that leads to finding it has something to do with Moonhunter, begins to dig harder. While having his friend heal his broken wing, another sapere discovers what the boys are up to and she wants in. This isn’t something Moonhunter ever planned on. He knows how much trouble they will be in if they get caught keeping Moonhunter’s transformation from those higher up. Balthier speaks to one of the saperes he trusts (a rare thing), and finds out that there is a plan for Moonhunter by some of the other saperes. They want to send Moonhunter on an off-world operation, but Balthier convinces the sapere that he should really go along. Balthier learns that they shouldn’t trust anyone.
Dragons of Wellsdeep
by Dawn Blair
The pools of Calrek were said to have been formed from the bones of a giant after the Ch’bauldi dragons killed him. The cave where they were located was supposedly his chest and the tunnels leading to them, the inside of the bones of his arms. Moonhunter had always thought the myth a bit too much because the cave looked nothing like the inside of a chest. It made more sense that this was all from volcanic activity that had taken place centuries ago. But myths were never logical. Yet, there was always some truth to it. Chances were that these caves were once where a Ch’bauldi dragon had taken on a giant of some sort. He liked to imagine that it was a frost giant trying to come through from Jotunheim and the dragon had burned it until it melted and made the pools in here. Since the water was always fresh and clean though, he knew a supply of water had to be coming from an aquifer inside the lava tubes.
The walls of the caves sparkled in the light of their lanterns as they walked. Little chips of granite glistened in the rock walls. If only the walls could speak and tell him what had happened here.
“Moonhunter! Earth to Moonhunter,” Serchk called out to him. “Are you getting lost again?”
“Probably dreaming about science again,” Sundancer laughed.
Moonhunter felt encouraged at her mocking. There was such a daring to it. He had this image in his mind of jumping from one space dock platform to another. That same kind of daring surged through him now. “Ah, come on guys, you can’t tell me that you don’t find this fascinating. Don’t you ever wonder—“
“No,” Serchk answered dryly. “I don’t look the walls when I come here. I look at that.” Serchk came up behind Moonhunter and turned Moonhunter’s head to look at a girl in a form-fitting swimsuit. “Now that’s fascinating!”
Moonhunter heard Sundancer untying the knot on her robe and the material slipping from her shoulders. He glanced in her direction, his heart stopping when he saw her. She also wore a tight swimsuit, but the straps of this one were thinner than the other girl’s. A diamond shaped pattern cut from just below her breasts down to passed her navel. He’d seen other women on lots of other planets with skin exposed, the universe’s oldest profession alive and well throughout the galaxy, but to see Sundancer made his blood heat.
He tore his gaze away before she noticed. She was going to help him with the transforming. He couldn’t get involved.
His body already was.
He wanted to growl, to roar. Suddenly he was all too aware of the steam in here. It felt so hot.
“Moonhunter,” Sundancer said, coming beside him, “are you coming?”
He wanted to lash out, to bite. He curled his fingers into fists as if it would will strength back into him. Instead, he felt his nails extending and cutting into his palms.
Sundancer stepped in front of him. “Your eyes are red. Why do you have your dragon lids down?”
Serchk seemed to have noticed that something was wrong and turned around. With a gasp, he pushed Sundancer aside. “Moon, don’t go all werewolf on me now. Come on back.”
“I’m trying,” Moonhunter snarled.
“Try harder, man. People are starting to stare.”
“Is this supposed to be happening?” Moonhunter asked, finding his voice almost a deep growl. “Is this normal?”
“There’s a reason novihomidraks stopped trying to do the Crossing.” Serchk’s own voice was low with anger. “You wouldn’t listen to me when I tried to tell you that. This is dangerous and the results unpredictable.”
“I have to get stronger,” Moonhunter said, pleading with his friend to understand, but how could Serchk when he barely understood this need himself. It just was this instinct that gnawed at him. He had to be faster, better, the best novihomidrak he could be. He felt like all of the novihomidraks were depending on it. It was his duty, this calling, and he had to heed. But he wasn’t getting there fast enough.
He needed to be alone, to practice some more. He didn’t have time for this leisurely distraction. The saperes wouldn’t understand much as they didn’t know what was happening to him. He didn’t even understand it himself, only bore it deep inside him to his bones thought he had no name to call it.
Moonhunter pulled his towel over his head as he turned and started back toward the cave’s entrance. He hoped that under the darkness of his makeshift cloak, his eyes weren’t glowing. He felt Serchk and Sundancer at his heels and thought he heard their protests but he wasn’t certain from the sound of the blood pounding in his ears.
He ran away just a touch faster, getting out of there before they could catch up to him.
Moonhunter was back out into the sunlight and cool air when he saw Balthier enter the courtyard. The sight of his mentor made everything inside him stop all at once. All the instincts he’d been feeling literally only moments before vanished in a wisp.
Balthier looked him over, then nodded. “Hope you’re done relaxing. Council says we’re up again.”
Serchk hadn’t given up the chase and caught up with Moonhunter. He put his hand on the novihomidrak’s shoulder. “We just got here,” Serchk complained. Then, seeming to remember that it looked like they were leaving, finished with, “Moonhunter just forgot to take a pee before we went in.”
Moonhunter turned and gave Serchk a what-the-hell look. Serchk shrugged.
Balthier looked less than impressed. “Duty calls.”
The words were so flat, a tone reserved for putting an end to any argument Moonhunter could possibly make.
Balthier left and Moonhunter followed. He handed his towel back to Serchk and didn’t even look at Sundancer as he continued after Balthier. How much more could he embarrass himself in front of her today? Maybe it was best that he did leave.
“No rest for the wicked, eh, Moon?” Balthier said finally as they left Serchk and Sundancer far behind. “I figured we’d be good for a week off. ‘Parently not.”
“What are we doing this time?” Moonhunter wasn’t certain he was ready to fly out again. But the sight of the pistol and dagger on Balthier’s belt said there might be more to this mission than he’d been currently told.
“We’re going out-solar this time.”
“Out-solar?” Moonhunter felt the excitement sprout inside him. If he had his choice between off-world missions and out-of-solar-system ones, he’d pick out-solar every time. He loved going to another galaxy and looking up at the stars on the world in which they landed, wondering if somewhere out there he stared up at his own galaxy. “Have we been there before?”
It’s not like Balthier ever said much, but there was something in his words that was more clipped than usual. Moonhunter looked at Balthier, who instantly cracked under the look. His shoulders sagged as he gave a defeated shake of his head.
“We’re going to clean up one of my messes.”
“Oh,” Moonhunter said. He looked down at the ground as he walked along. What more was he supposed to say to that? A novihomidrak wasn’t supposed to mess up a world while completing a mission. Due to the very nature of the novihomidraks, it didn’t often happen. It wasn’t like Balthier was always perfect in a mission, like the last one they’d be on, but Moonhunter knew that Balthier didn’t often make mistakes of a cataclysmic proportion. No wonder Balthier sounded abrupt.
“What can you tell me about Vergnamet 3?”
“Vergnamet 3?” Moonhunter asked again as if he hadn’t quite heard Balthier correctly. He knew by the look in the older man’s eyes that it was right. Vergnamet 3. Moonhunter listened with his mind for a hum he knew throughout the universe. When he felt it and could just barely hear it, he grabbed a hold of it mentally and felt its power move through him. “Vergnamet 3 is the third planet in the in the Vergnamet system and the only one designated with life. The galaxy which holds the Vergnamet system is currently colliding with its neighboring galaxy.” As he received this information from the Humline, Moonhunter broke away. “We’re going to a galaxy which is currently colliding with another one?”
“You’ve been practicing,” Balthier said proudly. Moonhunter thought he actually saw the old man smile. “And yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
“There might be cracks in the Wells. This is insane! You realize we could get lost, separated, or worse.”
Balthier laughed. “I see now why Velka gave you Serenity and Tranquility.”
At the mention of his dagger and bow, Moonhunter realized he’d need them for the mission. If they were going to a world… no, a whole galaxy currently being destroyed, he’d need them now rather than when he got there. If the Wells were half annihilated, he wanted them with him before going in. Afterward, there would be no guarantee that his weapons would make it to him. The point taken, Moonhunter whispered, “Vochey,” and his weapons appeared on him. He felt the weight of Serenity, his dagger, come into the once empty sheath at his side as if it had sneaked out for an adventure and was now coming home. His bow, Tranquility, manifested on its strap, which held it and the quiver of arrows on his back. As it settled, he felt it rub against an area of skin still raw from healing from his incident with the dragon wings. He didn’t utter a word of complaint; he couldn’t have Balthier questioning him about what was wrong. Not that it mattered too much. Having his weapons settle in with him instantly brought a flood of soothing emotions to him. Every time he called his weapons back, he realized that he’d missed them terribly.
“So why do we have to go clean up your mess on a planet which is about to be torn to shreds?” Moonhunter asked. “Does it really even matter?”
“Yeah, it does.”
Balthier’s lips got really tight and pulled into a deep frown. His steps got just a touch harder and faster, like he really wanted to storm and rage. But he added nothing to it.
They rounded the street corner and came into the council district. Large, white, marble buildings sported triangular roofs and striated columns. Moonhunter remembered thinking when he’d first seen this area that it looked like the Roman and Greek buildings of old back on Earth. He’d never actually seen the buildings because the planet had been lost first by the dragons, then by the unicorns, long before he’d become a novihomidrak. But he’d seen pictures in books salvaged by the handful of people the dragons had managed to save before earth’s total destruction.
A sapere ran over to them, slowing before intercepting them, and then bending over hand placing his hands on his knees so he could pant. As Balthier approached, the man held up a piece of paper. “The coordinates are confirmed,” the sapere said.
Balthier took the note. “Is it true the council approved his family this time? We won’t go on this quest again if his family is to remain behind.”
“The council approved,” but the sapere’s tone indicated that there was something about this decision they didn’t like. What had put the council under such duress that they would overturn one of their own earlier decisions?
Balthier unfolded the papers, glanced it over, then passed it over to Moonhunter, who took it and read it.
“This puts us awfully near the center,” Moonhunter said, as if unsure that these directions were true.
The sapere, still trying to catch his breath, fell into step beside them. “It’s a world in cataclysm. Through the dark is the only way. We do have a dragon guide for you.”
“A Ch’bauldi I hope,” Balthier said quickly.
“Sorry. The Ch’bauldi are too big to fit through some of the collapsed areas.”
“And the Council doesn’t want to risk the life of a Ch’bauldi,” Balthier finished the statement for the sapere; they all knew the truth, but only he was willing to say it.
The sapere huffed as he opened and closed his mouth. It was all the confirmation Moonhunter needed to know that Balthier was correct. “It’s an extended branch. It gets awfully narrow from the gravitational imbalances.”
“Rest it, sapere. Just tell me what dragon I should be expecting.”
“Your guide is to be a Shil’mak.”
Balthier stopped, his feet sliding on the pavement. His mouth dropped open and it was a moment before he could speak. “You have got to be kidding me. A Shil’mak?”
“She’s small enough to fit through the collapsed branch and your best shot at making it there and back.”
“You do realize that Moonhunter and I are both novihomidraks of the Ch’bauldi dragons, right?”
The sapere nervously licked his lips. “Yes, I do.”
“But you’ll send us down a black Well with a Shil’mak?”
The sapere glanced down at the ground and took a deep breath. “She’s the only… “ Then he looked up at Balthier with sharp, angry eyes. “Would you rather that I request a Nefterru? I’d be glad to find you the meanest, orneriest one I can! Maybe the two of you would get along well.”
Balthier started to laugh. “You saperes love your dragons too much.”
“And you novihomidraks are arrogant son-of-a-bitches.”
Moonhunter wondered what Balthier had seen on the sapere and he glanced the man over again looking for the clue that would make this conversation have some sense to it. What had he missed? Then he noticed it, the little tattoo on the side of the sapere’s ear written as a simple inscription: Roc’ta-vay gilish Shil’mak. I listen to the words of the Shil’mak. More and more, the dragon saperes were becoming generalists. Very few specialized in just one dragon clans’ rituals any more. A changing time, brought on by dragons crossing clan lines to mate with other dragons.
“You make demands of the Dragon Council, push them into decisions they don’t want to make, all because you can’t complete your mission otherwise,” the sapere pressed on.
Balthier pulled his gun from his holster. The word Disharmony sparkled along the side of it. Balthier leveled it to the sapere’s head as his finger rocked on the trigger. “The difference is, sapere, that if I kill you, the dragons don’t give a damn. On the other hand, I am from the purest of dragons and their champion. If I can’t get you to respect me, who is to say that this Shil’mak that you’ve chosen won’t do the same?”
“Her mate is a Ch’bauldi.”
Balthier lowered Disharmony, but didn’t put his gun away. He glanced at Moonhunter, then back to the cowering sapere. “Very well. We shall take her.”
The sapere sighed with relief.
Balthier slid Disharmony back into his holster. “Is that why you have also chosen to hear the words of the Shil’mak?”
“It is. I serve her mate directly.” The sapere pushed away the cloth of the robe covering his right shoulder and showed Balthier a tattoo there. The marking indicated that he was the direct servant of a lower class Ch’bauldi dragon family.
“Then let us delay no longer, sapere. We have a world about to be destroyed.”
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Dragons of Wellsdeep – copyright © 2018 Dawn Blair
Published by Morning Sky Studios
Cover and layout copyright © 2018 by Morning Sky Studios
Cover design by Dawn Blair/Morning Sky Studios
Cover art copyright © Ingus Kruklitis | Dreamstime.com, © Digitalstormcinema | Dreamstime.com, and © Kalcutta | Dreamstime.com
This excerpt is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.