Chapter OneLair Conversation
Imagine-if you dare-the most
hideous, spine-tingling music-screeching
violins and long, ominous
bass notes that shake the ground. A
cacophony of horror is perfect for the
scene we are about to describe. For
in the darkness of a pungent room,
though high and far from what we call
earth, sits a being so revolting and
gruesome that some have wished we
would leave him out of our story. They
urge us to shy away from scenes like
this, but what would a story be without
a villain? How could we measure the
good of one character unless we compared
it to the bad of another?
Without the being before us, we
would not understand the meaning of putrid, malevolent,
wicked, or even appalling. No, here lies the very heart of our
tale, for it is our hero's duty to defeat this foe, to utterly
cleanse the world (both the visible and the invisible) of this
At the moment, all we can see is his scaly back, along with
his twitching tail. His head bobs at something. Is he eating the
flesh of an enemy? Might he be devouring our hero even now?
Or picking meat from the bones of some trusted friend of our
hero? Or more awful still, could he be torturing someone, trying
to pry the whereabouts of our hero from him or her?
As we move into the lantern light in the corner, we clearly
see the Dragon's pointed ears encrusted with wax, his long
snout with nostrils dripping a gelatinous green substance. The
Dragon sniffs it back, and the tongue darts in and out. The
moving lips reveal stained, jagged teeth that could snap you
in two. Reptilian eyes with dark slits in the centers glow with
what seems like fascination or anticipation. And the massive
jaw is working.
The body exudes evil power, and it is all we can do to stay
in his presence-but stay we must. For he is not chewing or
singing or talking to himself or doing anything superfluous.
No, he is reading. But these are not words he can truly comprehend,
as they are written for someone with a heart, with
The Dragon shudders and mutters, "The Son, the Son, the
Son. That's all you write about, isn't it?" He clears his throat,
and a squeak of fire escapes but does not damage the book.
"'The Son shall have power and dominion'?" he chortles.
"No. Your prophecies will not come true, for your Son is gone,
a coward cowering in some corner. He will never be all you
want him to be."
The Dragon snarls at a knock behind him and flips another
page with a sharpened talon, trying in vain to tear a hole in
the book. "What is it?"
Enter RHM, Reginald Handler Mephistopheles (or right-hand
man, if you prefer), who would usurp this stinky throne
if he could. The two converse in hushed tones, the gist of the
vile talk and innuendo concerning our hero and that "We
had him right where we wanted him!"
RHM bows his head. "Somehow he defeated your demon
vipers and eluded you. But we still have the book-"
"He is getting stronger," the Dragon roars, caring nothing
for letting his underling finish a sentence. "Each time he
eludes us he becomes more confident."
"Not so strong that he could defeat you, sire."
"Of course not. But if he comes to believe he can defeat me,
he can harm our plan, all we've worked so hard to accomplish,
all we mean to destroy." The Dragon turns back to the
book. "These words speak of a new day, countering the rise
of my kingdom. They suggest a model of the world under the
"Such words would instill a false hope in the people," RHM
says. "That is why you have so wisely kept words from them."
"The fact is, he found this. The Wormling read it, and the
words became part of him. He read far enough to breach the
portal; we know that. It's to our advantage that the Son has
no idea who he is."
"He can't be far from the castle," RHM says. He draws a
circle on an aged map on the wall. "We think he is somewhere
within this area, but this Watcher of his alerts him to
our flyers, and the tracking device-"
"Has been destroyed. I know." The Dragon flips to the back
of the book, brow furrowed as if struggling to grasp the meaning.
"It says here-" he taps the page-"that their world will
be cleansed by fire."
"Your plan all along, sire."
"Yes," he purrs. "Truly perfect. They will welcome this
cleansing as for their own good, and we will strike them
down." He turns a furtive eye toward his underling. "It also
says that these beings are vulnerable to temptation."
RHM chuckles. "Right you are, sire."
The Dragon growls, and something flashes in his eyes.
"Bring the Changeling. I have an important mission for him."