Kenneth Eng, Dragons: Epic Eternal
Dragons: Epic Eternal
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Date: Sept. 7, 2017
Length: 258 pages
The World floated in the middle of space, a silver green-blue orb hovering against a backdrop of stars infinite. Mystical energies swept across its lands, seas and airs, majestic in splendor and grand in fantastic brilliance. Countless surreal environments blanketed it across all of its seven magnetic poles, covering its surface, mantle and core with limitless realms imaginable. Truly, it was a sight to behold, and those that inhabited it had much to keep their minds busy. To them, their dreamy reality was all well and good.
But to others, it was going to be all but peaceful.
An ominous shadow loomed over the globe’s night side. It was a gyrating disk, capped on its top and bottom by domes of smooth, unearthly metal. Slowly and eerily, it spun, orbiting the planet as though it was a satellite meant to replace the recently shattered Moon, an observer that spied the sphere like an unseen wraith.
From its domes, it emitted several radio signals, scanning the cosmic entity it had come to examine.
“Object: Dragonworld. Mass: 500 sextillion tons. Orbital velocity: 1,884,000 miles per day. Sidereal rotation: 29 hours, 56 minutes, 4.099 seconds. Mean distance from the Sun: 300 million miles. Life: Carbon and mana based.”
Its radio beams penetrated the entire planetary sphere, locking onto the neural signals of every intelligent organism in the World. Running an analysis algorithm, it ciphered through each of them with cosmic celerity.
A million beings passed through its processors every second. Consciousness, endless streams of consciousness, filled its systems with data on the mental strength, magical attributes, hit points, physical endurance and weapons of untold creatures of fantasy. Easily, it understood every piece of information, and quickly, it gathered up all the knowledge like a cybernetic vacuum of wisdom. In a few seconds, it finally found its target. The radio waves reoriented toward the edge of the planet where daylight was about to break, running along the semicircular arc of morning. Upon a forested region they converged, focusing on one particular creature whose mind seemed to extend beyond the reaches of space and time.
“Life form detected. Target acquired.”
A hologram lit up inside the flying saucer. The light dimly shone upon the operator of the craft, illuminating his vaguely humanoid figure, silky gray skin and distorted simian features. His dark ovoid eyes examined the three-dimensional image whilst elongated fingers reached out to stroke it as if it were a solid mass of clay. Yet, the hologram he looked upon displayed a creature far different from himself. It was not human, thunderbird or kraken.
It was a dragon.
“Initiate protocol. Dennagon must be annihilated. The Epic must be completed.”
A flash. The Unidentified Flying Object zipped across the orbits, plowing through the World’s atmosphere. Behind it, it left a trail of transparent fire, menacing and uncanny. There was much to do and much to destroy before the closing of the World. Before that which lay beyond time ceased its bidding.
A story is not a means of entertainment. It is a tool to achieve the meaning of life. Just as encyclopedias encode volumes of objective information, a myth is meant to encase events along a string of spacetime. Drama shapes the fabric of a tale, for without the directing force of emotion, what would be the point of a tale? What would differentiate it from a list of facts? Every true story has a meaning, but so too must it have a feeling. To the ends of eternity, infinity and all the elements cosmic that dominate our existential consciousness, stories will be there to guide us through every facet of reality, shadowing our lives with purpose and intellect. There is no real end to an epic, lest the darkness of death usurp all things great in life.
In the evergreen woodlands of Lifewall Forest, the light of day was just hatching from the horizon. Pine trees grew fruits of all kinds, tropical, temperate and arctic. Apples, bananas, starfruits and honeydew sprouted from the canopies, falling occasionally to the forest floor where lesser animals might consume them. It was a placid dawn, one that gave way to morning daydreams, yet the Sun’s rays cut through the branches in a way reminiscent of a dream itself. One could not help but hope that the rest of the Worldly rotation would be as brilliant.
Alone on the forest floor, a single dragon sat, cradled against a tree. With a ragged book in his lap and a serene smile on his face, he mused as if living in his own little world. There were many ideas upon his head that he had yet to organize, but he was not too concerned about busying himself with order. He was just enjoying the birth of a new day like any being should, deeply thinking to himself as the light scintillated against his green crystal scales and highlighted his semi-biomechanical infrastructure. The birds chirped merrily in the canopies above, and his song joined theirs, a draconic hum in the middle of the woodland.
“Once I had a life as grand as that of my favorite dream,” Dennagon sang melodiously. “It came to me as though it was of a limitless power unseen. Through the darkness I did chase until my mind grew old. Only then did I understand all the truths I had to know.”
From the shrubs, a coconut was thrown at him. Its milk splattered against his gem of a body, spilling white fluid all over his shoulders. Behind the bushes, a wurm with a goofy grin snickered, carrying in his limbless clutches a load of arboreal treats.
“Pretty precise, huh?” teased Dradicus.
Dennagon elbowed a tree trunk. Ten fruits fell in front of him, and he heaved a mighty breath, blowing them in an exact direction. Acutely, they all hit Dradicus, drenching him in sugary water and chunks of strawberries, avocados and kiwis. His grin turned to a determined expression as a pineapple landed on his head, positing itself like a hat dripping with yellow fluid.
“Touché,” he replied, wiping the juice off himself. “Any idea when we’re moving out? We’ve been here for days.”
“Days, weeks, months. Who cares anymore?”
“Something new is happening. There may yet be another adventure awaiting us, otherwise we would not have been called here.”
“Do not hope for such a quest. It is a folly of the mind to think that purposeless journeys are enlightening.”
“Whatever. I’m just here for the fruits.”
He took a bite out of a green coconut on the floor. Dennagon, uninterested in food, retrieved a quill of pure light from his belt and wrote upon his book. His Lexicon.
The Dreadborne Hollows were not far off. Their entrance orifice lay in the midst of an azure swamp, leading down to a subsurface cave below. Bluish swamp gas rose all around it, steaming from smoky pillars that seemed to have come from the bottom of the ocean. The atmosphere was gloomy even in daylight, and few creatures ever came here for the purpose of amusement.
Lyconel, a female drake, watched the skies as she stood upon the marshlands, her scales just as sapphire as the heavens above. The land’s vapor beclouded the light of morn, yet she appeared not to have her spirits brought down by the somber atmosphere. She too was thinking deeply this dawn, and there was no time to be depressed or playful. She merely kept her mind at a neutral state, pondering in strategic and tactical terms.
An amphiptere, a dragon with no legs and two wings, flew to her side. His scales seemed to blend into the background as a chameleon’s would, camouflaging him.
“Morning,” greeted Lyconel. “Any word from the others?”
“May words, but none meaningful,” Eldariore replied in a classy tone.
“Eroness said she’d be here. She’ll call any minute.”
She equipped her mace. Something did not feel right. Then again, nothing felt right for the past three months.
“There’s been an evil essence throughout the World as of late,” she noted. “Maybe this has something to do with her rally.”
“There is always evil in this World. From it we were crafted.”
A ringing sounded. Lyconel drew from her belt a crystal ball and put it to her ear. Its mana churned inside of its glassy surface and processed the voice of another dragon not far away.
“We are ready,” signified Jaendorf. “Get in.”
Dradicus busily gorged himself on what fruits he could find. He was surprisingly slender for a being with his appetite, but then again, his occupation as a scout gave him plenty of exercise to work off the weight. Dennagon, on the other hand, was not at all interested in rations, for he did not have to eat. Nor did he have to breathe, sleep, heal or exercise. The Lexicon was all he needed to live, and in it was the power to change the World in any way he saw fit so long as it complied with the rules of logic. It was his source of omnipotence, his mind, his heart and his soul. It was one of the only things he thought of all day, and ever since he acquired it, he had been immured in writing upon its blank pages, scribing text that no other being had ever seen.
Dradicus curiously wondered what the god before him was so busy scrawling.
“Something on your mind?” he asked.
His words did not seem to have been heard. To get attention, he slithered up next to Dennagon and peeked over his shoulder.
“You’ve been immersed in that book of your ever since we finished our primary mission. Care to tell me what it’s about?”
“Stories, legends, heroes.”
Dradicus could see words written alongside sin waves and little drawings. However, he could not decipher what it meant.
“An adventure tale, eh? Is it about your attainment of the Lexicon? Or maybe how you acquired your eminent power? Perhaps it is an account of how you vanquished the humans and sent them all back to the golden depths of vile Aurahelm where they belong.”
“Nope. Not about me.”
“Well, it must be about you. After all, you are the one omniscient being. You saved the World from the sapiens and ended the war of knowledge. Totality lies dead because of you, and everything is now peaceful.”
The reptilian scribe turned away. However, Dradicus simply followed him.
“You can tell me, ol’ buddy. I can keep a secret.”
The tattered tome slammed shut. Crystalline fangs snarled viciously at the prying wurm.
“So can I,” growled Dennagon.
The green jeweled eyes seemed to pierce Dradicus’ like needles of light. He backed down, frightened by the sudden change in demeanor. He knew Dennagon would not attack him, but his anger seemed more pronounced than usual this time, as if some act had long annoyed him to the brim of his patience. There was nothing to do but stare back at the infuriated visage with a surprised expression.
Just then, the shrubberies shuffled. Lyconel walked in, bearing news.
“Is it time?” asked Dennagon.
“Long past time.”
The underground depths of the Dreadborne Hollows enclosed a cavern of pure jade. The stalactites and walls were built of fluid, yet non-molten stone, whereas the craters where puddles would have been were solid. Everything bore an eerie azure luminescence that bathed with strange sapphire luminosity the many dragons that gathered in a circle inside its walls. Quietly, they chattered amongst one another as they waited to be briefed, speculating on what this gathering was supposed to be about. The fact that they did not yet know clearly pronounced its secretiveness.
A tiny albino fairy dragon flittered to the center of the circle, silencing all banter. With the compound eyes of a wasp and the wings of a dragonfly, she bore the semblance of an insect, but was still recognizable as reptilian with whitish scales and serpentine features. Her name was mystical Eroness, and from her tail, she cast forth a trail of magical dust. It settled into the foggy image of a DNA strand built of four nucleotides.
“The humans are evolving,” she stated. “In less than a month, they have developed their puny hominid intellects to superior cyborg processors.”
A dissatisfied clamor. Krinius, a pink female pterodrake with more than two wings, Jaendorf, a yellow basilisk with more than four limbs, and Eldariore were three amongst the ranks of dragons.
Krinius had the head of a snake, and was the smallest and youngest of the three. The white nylons she wore on her talons went up to her thighs, and were surprisingly resilient in combat. Battle lingerie was normally expensive, but it was a gift. Jaendorf fidgeted a hell of a lot for a reptile his size, and were he not as large as he was, he would have been the brunt of jokes. Eldariore was rippling colors across his scales, which is what chromatophoric dragons usually did when they were pissed. Speaking of piss, he shouldn’t have drank that fine radioactive wine last night.
“Just our accursed luck,” complained Jaendorf.
“What else do we hold vigilant?” asked Eldariore.
The dust transformed into a vision of a grand golden Technocastle.
“Recon indicates an immense source of evil emanating from their kingdom, Aurahelm. Estimates predict that in 30 hours, their essence with span 3000 miles.”
“That is impossible,” shot Eldariore. “It would require over 50,000 sapiens to create such an energy field.”
Jaendorf slammed his ten fists into the ground.
“We’re doomed! What are we gonna do? What are we gonna do?”
“Slash your tongue! It isn’t true!” shouted Eldariore. “There isn’t enough mana in the World to build such an army.”
“Are you certain?” came a voice from behind.
Lyconel entered from the shadows. Dennagon and Dradicus marched by her sides.
“The avarice of man knows no bounds, as we know no limits in cognition. Who is to say that the enemy cannot craft a legion that stretches across the entire planet?”
“Lyconel,” smirked Eroness. “A pleasure it is to see that you are still a whole dragon.”
Lyconel nodded to the other dragons, as they nodded to her.
“I say we rush ‘em right now,” blared Jaendorf. “If they’re gonna kill us, we’d better kill some of them.”
“I am for a defensive strategy,” declared Eldariore. “Gather more reconnaissance and smite them with spies.”
“How about returning to Drakemight II?” suggested Lyconel.
Everyone was stunned at the voice of unreasonable reason. Krinius gestured a muted hiss at she who would dare utter such nonsense. Drakemight II was not a place to go to in such emergencies, and even if it was, few warriors would compromise their courageous images by asking for help.
“That might waste valuable hours,” Eroness warned.
“Hours can’t be wasted if we know what we’re doing.”
“And do you know what you’re doing?”
“Knowledge is as far as one’s imagination.”
Outside, the swamp gases stirred. Draconic wings batted them in tremendous sweeps, making them roll away like the waves of a sea.
A vast umbra loomed over the marshy rocks.
Dennagon’s head perked. From inside the Hollows, he felt something.
“What’s the problem?” nervously asked Dradicus.
“I don’t know. There’s something strange in this space.”
Everyone else, meanwhile, conversed in a heated argument.
“Humans cannot think for themselves,” said Lyconel. “It is obvious that they are directing their forces by a single consciousness more evolved than their own. They tapped into the beginning of time long ago, so they might have accessed something more than the center of creation.”
“You can’t be serious,” mocked Jaendorf.
“As legend tells, there is only one being that lived at the sentient Big Bang.”
The same dreaded thought struck everyone simultaneously.
“The one without a name...” voiced Eroness.
“But I thought he was forever exiled to a time beyond reckoning,” reminded Eldariore.
“Indeed,” agreed Lyconel. “But exile is not a nullification of one’s power. If we stay on the planet, surely we will incur his full wrath. However, if we fall back to Drakemight II before the sapiens can make their move, we might be able to gather enough sorcery to prevent them from taking the World.”
“Of course, you are aware that we risk the chance of leading the enemy to our homeland, yes?” admonished Eroness.
“Risks must always be taken to achieve victory.”
Eldariore and Krinius scoffed. Jaendorf snorted fire, resenting the mere idea.
“!*#@ you, Lyconel. Your head is always in the clouds, but your tail is forever planted in the stony grounds. Your dreams will never amount to anything.” He growled. “They will be your death.”
Eroness, however, had other sentiments. She always knew Lyconel to be a daring warrior, and her dreams always set her apart from typical beings. Unwilling to resort to conservative battle in this scenario, the fairy dragon knew what had to be done.
“We mobilize to Drakemight II,” she commanded the dragons.
As everyone continued strategizing, Dennagon skulked up to the entrance.
The shadow grew darker, but shrunk in size as its creature of origin approached the ground. Lingering in the air, it seemed to draw all light away from its surroundings, darkening the very illumination of day. With reddened eyes, it peered into the hole in which the dragons had assembled, sensing the spirit of the organism it had sought to attract.
Something dropped from its grasp.
“For Eternity, Sentry Dennagon.”
As quickly as the creature came, it evanesced into nothingness, melting away as though it were a mist. Dennagon emerged from the orifice just as it disappeared, startled and bewildered. He warily surveyed the environment, scanning the lands and skies for any abnormal entities or sorceries that might have generated the sensation he felt. Nonetheless, he detected nothing out of the ordinary.
Quizzically, he turned around. Just as he was heading back into the cavern, though, he stepped on something embedded in the mud. Curiously, he pulled the object out of the ground, disentangling it from some roots that had ensnared it. Dangling it in his claws, he brushed bits of dirt off of it, revealing its true form -
-- a wristwatch.
Jaendorf was enraged by the decided verdict.
“But Eroness, there are so many details that can go wrong. What if the humans blow up the core of the planet? What if they create more than 7 magnetic fields? More importantly, why don’t we just send that book-wielder out to finish off the evil kingdom once and for all?”
Eldariore presumptuously hissed.
“I would not trust one whose allegiance formerly lay in the collective. Besides, they claim that he has a tome that serves as a compendium of all knowledge. Dost thou place your beliefs in such hyperbole? Even if he did know everything that means not that he can-”
Dennagon burst back into the cave, interrupting the conversation.
“Everyone get out. Now.”
“Why?” inquired Eroness.
WHAM! A portion of the liquid wall started to deform in the shape of a dragon cranium. Although it was supposed to be twice as hard as diamond, it bent easily against the force of whatever hit it. Frightened, everyone scattered, retreating through cavern holes and corridors with fleet haste.
Everyone except Dennagon.
The wall erupted into liquid jade shards. In came three Technodragons - Tyranoth, a blue robotic dragon, Karynor, a purple female wurm, and Daetheon, a brown ouroboros. Mechanically, they surrounded their prey, splaying their claws.
Dennagon casually took combative posture.
“How goes the day?” he asked.
The Technodragons’ systems droned.
“Target acquired. He is the Lexicon,” said Daetheon.
“Shall we annihilate him?” questioned Karynor.
“He is just -”
Both of Tyranoth’s forearms dismantled. Rearranging their parts, they transmuted into double-taloned enhanced plasma cannons, one on each arm. Crossing them, he glared menacingly at his foe.
“-a simple dragon.”
He attacked, firing super-charged plasma shots that were shaped like macrocosmic atoms. Although the barrage was relentless, Dennagon easily parried the vehement assaults, slapping the energy balls down as though they were flies. Like pinballs, they ricocheted against the walls and ceiling, bouncing wildly across the cave. The Technodragons themselves had to dodge their own fire.
Spreading open his jaws, Dennagon returned a breath of green cybernetic fire. However, Tyranoth merely deflected it with his advanced armor type. Both of them stared at each other for a second, appearing like equals locked in a stalemate. However, there was one dragon that knew better than to make such a silly assumption.
“Augmentations. Interesting,” commented Dennagon.
With that, he swung around, bashing the Tyranoth with his tail. All three Technodragons attacked at once, hurtling their claws, jaws and fists with furious punches and bites. Dennagon’s talons were everywhere, parrying and delivering slashes with solid speed. Quickly, he hammered his enemies about, knocking them all away. They recoiled.
“But not enough.”
Tyranoth slung out a pair of nunchakus. Whirling them around his shoulders and back, he lunged in for another onslaught. Karynor, armed with a flail, and Daetheon, armed with a saber, joined him.
Dennagon took the Lexicon and inserted it into his head. Like a spellbook chip, it united with his brain, linking up to his cyborganic processors with nerve-like wires and circuits. Mechanized light beams stretched out behind his eyes and wrote upon the wordless tome embedded in his cranium, etching paragraphs of numeric and logical symbols on its blank pages. Sin waves and mathematical equations emanated into the air like extensions of his mind.
In an instant, the physical laws around him changed, and he teleported overhead as the adversaries tried to run him through. A foot jacked Tyranoth in the back of the metal skull, taking him down with a concussive force. Karynor, slightly more agile, somersaulted behind the target and attempted to wrap her flail around his neck. Dennagon craned his neck back just as she landed, clamping his fangs around her abdomen to prevent her from firing that plasma ball from her jaws. Snapping his head forward again, he slammed her into a diamond-hard liquid stalagmite, splashing its rock-solid substance into globs of fluid. The plasma shot blew up inside of her throat.
Daetheon equipped his double-taloned plasma cannons and a third plasma blaster from his mouth. Thrusting his weapons forth, he fired triple super-charged plasma shots, burning up the very air in the cavern with the energies of star. Nevertheless, as powerful as his attack was, it was no match for the abilities of the light crystal dragon. Dennagon effortlessly caught the three emissions, holding them like solid objects in his palms. With a sharp swing, he threw them back, blowing his enemy away with an explosive hit. Daetheon careened back into a wall, shuddering the entire chamber with a mighty impact. Tyranoth was about to get up, but a stalactite cracked off the ceiling and fell on his mechanical head, smashing his titanium cranium into a spurt of circuits.
Dennagon cracked his knuckles.
Crystalline clouds separated a murky atmosphere from the celestial zenith. A glass ozone layer shimmered brilliantly against the morning light, and just below it, the dragon Errants glided along the tops of the heavenly vapors, seeking refuge from their enemies. Far below, they could see the Hollows exploding from the battle within, but they could not go back for their comrade. That fight was his, and no one else’s.
Lyconel held a crystal ball. In it was the image of Eroness flying through a forest of sideways trees.
“What was that?” asked Lyconel.
“My clairvoyance detected a group of Technobeings...and something else...”
“How far are we from the point where the Sun is at the zenith?”
“The Sun is at 12 hours right ascension and 0 degrees declination. Ergo, we should be there in 10 minutes.”
“Is Dennagon in danger?”
“If he were, the Technodragons would have caught up by now.”
“Where is he?”
Just then, the celestial gases behind them erupted into an upward plume. Dennagon shot up from the clouds like a missile, ripping through the stratosphere with speed such as no terrestrial being had ever known. Above his comrades, he rocketed to the ozone, sparkling brilliantly as he crashed through the atmosphere in a trail of light and flew into the realm beyond.
Into space he soared, reeling around the World as a reptilian god. Lunar fragments from the destructed Moon riddled the star-speckled heavenly backdrop as he raced through the voids, orbiting the planet at the speed of sound. Almighty, he watched over the globe like a draconic satellite, scanning his sorcero-mechanical eyes over the lands, seas and airs. He could see everything. He could feel everything. However, he could not quell the desire for something more.
“I’m tired of this World. I think I should have time to contemplate.”
Instantly, he dashed back down to the World, leaving tufts of cosmic energy in his wake. Accelerating to the velocity of light, he transcended the reality all beings in the Middle Ages knew, and sped into yet another realm yonder. The fantasylands melted away before his eyes, and transformed into a place neither of the same space nor time. Metallic entities passed through his sights, complete with robotic parts, computers, and virtual cybernetic visions. He was no longer in the past or the present. He was in -
-- the Technorealm. A landscape of computerized metal was riddled with futuristic architecture as far as the eye could see. Towers constructed of hundreds of gigantic cybernetic terminals rose to a starless and infinite black sky, bearing the semblance of enormous organic trees, all of which surrounded a central cylindrical Mainframe. The terrain resembled that of earthen topography, save for the fact that it was metal and appeared to be pixellated like an image on a computer screen. Here, there was no one time, for it was the past, the present and the future melded. Here, a billion years ago was as far back in the past as yesterday, for ages and divisions of temporal flow meant nothing. Here was Dennagon’s sanctuary.
Upon the cybernetic plains he landed, rippling the ground with ever-expanding circles. Galloping toward the center of the reality, he shook the floor with every step he took, heaving winds with his very motion. He stopped at the Mainframe and opened up at its base a monumental control panel that was studded with keypads and buttons labeled with various unworldly symbols. Rubbing his talons together, he was in the mood for education.
“Hear me, Technorealm Mainframe, and tell me truths beyond truths untold.”
Jumping on the control panel, he pressed the enormous keys and typed in the word “Art”. The screen lit up, processing the inquiry with its quantum, infinite-variable algorithms. After a few moments, it searched through all logical pathways in every type of philosophy and came up with only one conclusion. As if proud of its accomplishment, it displayed the term “Undefined”.
Dennagon put his tongue in his cheek.
“Can you not bequeath to me the definitions I seek? Or is definition a thing lost to definition itself?”
He entered the word “Clarify”. The computer responded with “Undefined - the inability to define ‘undefined’.” Dissatisfied with the creative yet useless answer, he furrowed his brow and focused on what he really wanted to know about.
He typed in “Legend”. The computer analyzed the term and sat still for a minute as if to contemplate deeply about it. Nonetheless, he recognized its prolonged delay as another way to communicate that it did not have any acceptable response. Either that, or it was getting tired of his ceaseless questions and was ignoring him.
“Have it your way. But I must ask one last question.”
The blank screen stared mutely at him.
“Why have I never heard of this ‘dragon homeland’?”
The Sun was older than the Universe itself. A blazing celestial orb of silver fire ringed by prominences that shot out from its chromosphere, it was the one thing that was thought to be more enduring than the cosmos itself. The World always changed, what with all its wars, its climate, and evolving life forms that readily shaped the planet every moment of its existence. However, on the stellar entity that lighted the globe, there were no such battles, extreme alterations in weather, or rapidly evolving life forms. There were flares that acted as forests, faculae that mimicked clouds, granules that were akin to plate tectonics and sunspots that looked like islands, but there was no such thing as chaos in its burning heart. The Sun was and always would be, long after the World passed and the Universe’s son grew old. It was a cosmic amaranthine, a solar rose as glorious as it was everlasting.
Amidst its immortal stellar halo, a vortex suddenly opened up. Lyconel and Dradicus soared out from the spatial rip, breathing the high-intensity gases in the uppermost part of the corona. Before they could go any further, one particularly large prominence rose from the fiery clouds of the Sun beneath them, surrounding them with a ring of flame. Serving as a gateway, it blocked their way to the photosphere, quarantining them in case there were any stowaways that had followed them from the wretched World. This was standard procedure.
“Hear me, great Sagathar, executor of Drakemight II,” heralded Dradicus. “Your brethren approach your grand kingdom that has stood for a thousand ages. The kingdom that shall abide through the same doom that shall inexorably usurp the Universe and its Multiverse yonder.”
The sizeable loop of fire whirled around them at a tremendous speed. Mana spewed from its edges, washing over their bodies to run an efficient scan on their genetic structure, eye configurations and brain patterns. After confirming their identities, it receded back to the flames from whence it came, allowing the dragons passage. At ease, they descended to the orb’s chromospheric atmosphere, floating past tufts of radioactive gas that hovered in the stellar air like clouds. The mists blurred their sights and mutagenic heat made their visions ripple, but eventually, everything became clear. The expansive vista of the photosphere soon consumed their view.
A vast city composed entirely out of colored fire was built upon the solar surface. Polyhedral buildings reached high into the Sun’s sky, creating a maze of interconnected three-dimensional shapes. In the center, a spherical edifice of metallic conflagration hovered as if to keep all other pieces of architecture together, drawing mana directly from the core of the Sun upon which the fiery metropolis was set. Walls made of prominences surrounded the entire civilization, temporarily lowered as there was no current threat, but still as imposing as the kingdom they guarded. This was no mere breeding ground meant for the perpetuation of primitive life. This was a place of intellect beyond knowledge, and imagination beyond intellect. It was Drakemight II. The true dragon homeworld.
Lyconel and Dradicus took a relaxed breath as the sight bathed their eyes. The World appeared at the zenith of the solar sky, marking noontime at the sector of the Sun they were traveling on, and they mobilized confidently to their fabled city.
“How I have missed our habitat so,” sighed Lyconel in relief.
Other dragon Errants that had been ferried from the World also descended from the clouds of the sunsky, heading their own ways. However, one particular one rocketed in from the reaches of space, cutting through the corona like a comet. Without being hindered by the gateways, Dennagon followed them into the flaming city, completely perplexed by the majestic splendor he saw and speechless at the mind-boggling energy of the environment. Mostly, he was perturbed by the fact that any creature aside from himself could survive upon a star, and even if they could, he wondered how any of them got from there to the World. Addled, he gradually flapped his wings slower as he neared, marveling at the fantastic metropolis his eyes were fortunate enough to lay witness to.
“You took a while,” greeted Lyconel.
“Not the first organism to have traveled beyond the World?”
She pointed to the planet in the heavens.
“The World is but one facet of the cosmic diamond. There are fantasies beyond it.”
“How many ages has this Drakemight II existed?”
“Ages are irrelevant. Time is not linear, but one vast stretch of mixed eras and eons. One hundred billion years ago could have been yesterday or it could be 100 billion years in the future. In a similar fashion, an eon to us may be nothing more than a fleeting trice to another being. Time is relative.” She smirked at him. “You above all beings should know this.”
No length of time in existence. No recognizable present. That could only have meant one thing.
“There is no history to this place?” Dennagon wondered.
“Chronology restrains one to an arrangement of epochs. This place has no definable past, nor should it.”
“Does it have a future?”
“That is for us to decide, isn’t it?”
Gliding over the maze of polyhedral edifices, they smiled warmly at one another. Their wings touched and they held talons, warmly caressing each other in midair. Nuzzling their heads together, they prepared to embrace and celebrate their passage into the dragon motherland, their lips almost locking above the city for all to see.
However, Dradicus poked his head in between them. With his tail, he held a crystal ball to his ear.
“Yeah. Yeah. Uh huh. Okay.” He disconnected its telepathic link. “Sibling, that call was for you. You have to go to...*ahem*...Sagathar.”
“For your sake, you’d better do it now. I heard he’s doing that pacing thing again.”
She knew what that meant. Rolling her eyes, she yawed to the side, flying down through the aerial streets of the polyhedral labyrinth posthaste. Dennagon was about to ask her who this “Sagathar” was, but by the looks of it, she was in a hurry, and he did not want to hold her. Judging by the fact that she didn’t even give him a goodbye peck in the cheek, it seemed like a part of her wanted to see this unknown individual.
Dradicus wormed his way through the air. Tapping Dennagon in the wing, he pointed to the distance, showing him the grand panorama of the Sun city.
“Welcome to Drakemight II, friend. Let me show you around.”
Tugging him like a whelp, he led him down to the streets. Dennagon’s eyes sparkled in bedazzled wonder as he could not help but stare at the glory of everything around him.
At the foundation of Drakemight II, below the maze, there were many dens speckled upon sunspot patches. Despite the fact that most of them were made primarily of lava, each of them was unique, designed by their owners in their own special way. Ornaments and trinkets from journeys outside of the Sun adorned their exteriors, hanging like the lights one might put upon a home during a holiday. Inside, most of them had kitchens riddled with firewheat and the flesh of various flame-based animals that had been hunted across the plains of the photosphere. However, there was one lair that did not have any such sissy decorations or culinary facilities. This lair sat like a tomb amongst the others, a monument of Death in a field of life.
The helmets of knights made up its domed shell. Inside, human bones were laced together into various pieces of elaborate furniture. Trophies of many defeated enemies embellished the walls, most of them stuffed with taxonomic expertise, but a select few of them left alive in preservative sorcery. Those unlucky souls spent many hours glaring at their conqueror, the elder dragon who paced about in the center of the room. Made completely out of rainbow fire, his name was Sagathar, and it was he who Drakemight II owed its erection to. His flames, which bore the consistency of crystal, flared up as he thought, fluttering behind him like a cape of blazing diamond shards as he moved. An architect, artisan, and skilled tactician, he was a fabled warrior of warriors, a general that had fought in many strange battles the universe over. No other being aside from he could bear the title of the kingdom’s Executor, for his rule was solid and his morals were rock-hard.
However, the magma bubble gum he chewed in his mouth was as soft as he was when it came to an indulgence for sweets.
Just as he was pondering about how he should regulate the lava irrigation systems throughout the kingdom, Lyconel entered, nodding curtly as a rhetorical gesture of courtesy. Despite her prompt arrival and attempted politeness, the oldster stringently faced her, stomping the floor as he halted. He was ready to vocalize the speech he had been preparing for many hours and berate her insubordination.
“Stars shine, planets revolve, galaxies spin, and galactic superclusters turn over the eons. We sit here in this mundane cosmos and watch from our lofty starthrones, thinking ourselves astronomers of the highest minds celestial. Yet, few astronomers ever lift a hand or an eye to finding a way to change the cosmos, and are content to stay back whilst the forces of nature control them. These observers I declare are no more transcendent than the animals they so resent. He who battles not for a higher intellectual purpose exists in a living death. An adventure as meaningless as the most trivial of minutiae.
“Thence I ask -- do I still have kindred or has the madness of gratuitous adventure usurped my two offspring as well?” he started.
Lyconel was an expert at thwarting his never-ending lectures.
“Fear not, for adventure knows no bounds in the imagination.”
Sagathar took out a planner book. Each of the pages was a television screen numbered by day in calendar form. It kept track of all the things his poor memory could not retain, and he quickly flipped through it to remind himself again of why exactly he was so angry. A few scribbles he had written down a few days ago were enough to spark his recollection, and after a brief review of them, he slammed the book shut. The force of its closing pages quaked the ground.
“Eroness told me about your little escapade to find the Lexicon.”
“We found it.”
“That’s good. BUT WHY WEREN’T YOU ESPYING AURAHELM LIKE I TOLD YOU TO?!”
Volcanoes of fire burst out his jaws and auditory holes as he shouted. Lyconel was so accustomed to it that she yawned as his breath blew against her.
“Because you have eons of recon records. We only have one omniscient.”
“Knowledge is useless without purpose.”
“And purpose without knowledge is equally hazardous.”
“I thought you promised to this kingdom that you would be an antithesis to knowledge. Why do you waver in your principles?”
“I waver not, for ‘knowledge’ exists insofar as it relates to the certainties of reality.”
She had a good point. But it wasn’t enough to save her arse from his tirade.
“Don’t try to change the subject!” he yelled. “Reconnaissance is of the highest priority, for without proper planning, one cannot execute an effective attack!”
“Planning too much is as miserable as procrastination.”
“I am not going to argue with you.”
“Arguing is what made the greatest philosophies.”
“Fine, I will argue with you. However, the rules are as follows: We use only logic. We do not impose subjectivism. Objective information is allowed with limited amounts of inductive reasoning.”
“Okay.” Sagathar pursed his lips. “What were we arguing about?”
“I don’t know. Nonetheless, subjectivism is a form of objectivism in many cases.”
“Obviously. One can say that a tankard is half-empty instead of half-full but that does not change objective information. The fact of the matter is the tankard is still half-filled and half-empty.”
“Perception creates reality on all levels of existence. Therefore, individual perspectives on the World alter the way the planet turns. The World is what you make of it.”
“Rubbish.” Sagathar created marbles of fire in the air. Each had its own unique features. “Let us say these orbs represent alternate realities. If subjectivity changes the visage of the cosmos, then they are all equally real, correct?”
“But if that were so, then they all exist simultaneously. All of them are ephemeral. Thus, if one did have the limitless ability to mutate the cosmos, he would be bound to infinite chaos. Subjectivity is not freedom. Entropy is just another prison.”
The marbles rotated around one another. Like the accretion disks of a young solar system, they crashed and collided until nothing but a mess of fire was left.
“Ultimate power by your logic is no more than a dungeon disguised.”
“Who says it is disguised? Only to a dupe would such a thing be unnoticeable.”
“And yet you yourself once searched for the infinite power in the universe.”
He opened his mouth and pointed his finger, but froze like an ice statue. His unwillingness to admit defeat came before his ability to come up with a response.
“Don’t say things,” taught Lyconel, “if you don’t really believe in them.”
Sagathar summoned a staff of crystalline flame. He swung it over his subordinate’s head, grazing her cranium. Not intimidated in the slightiest, she sharpened her claws against one another.
“Tell me not about life, for I have lived more ages than you can count with your claws,” he warned.
“I thought ages had no meaning. An expanse of time is only as lengthy as the progress one has made in that time.”
“True. But I am the Executor, so watch your jaws.”
Lyconel went cross-eyed.
“That’s pretty hard to do without straining your sights.”
Just when it was starting to get silly, Sagathar realized how much they were diverging. Shaking his head and talons, he gestured as if to wipe their invisible slate of conversation clean.
“Never mind. What do we do about Aurahelm?”
“Why are you asking me, oh mighty Executor? I’m just a subordinate,” sarcastically stung Lyconel.
“Then again, I think this predicament we are in calls for no more than a peasant’s intellect to resolve.”
Sagathar opened his talons to show his claws. Rainbow fire whirled around them, looking like lightning.
“Oh really? And what would you have us do at the present situation?”
“We should summon the mana of Drakemight II and attack Aurahelm directly.”
“Are you insane? That would do nothing more than tickle them.”
“It is better than procrastinating. What have we got to lose? Drakemight II is wholly out of the reach of our enemies so long as the prominence barriers hold.”
“I’ve no time for games. If I am going to launch a strike, it shall be such a strike as to be worthy of my time and effort.”
“We have Dennagon. He drove all of the sapien minions back to their spawning grounds. He razed Grandyre, Londyre, Halthyre, and all their auxiliary installations, ensuring there is nowhere else they can run to. If we hit Aurahelm, we are hurting them all.”
“But thanks to you, Lyconel, we do not have enough info to aim our systems accurately.”
“One does not change the World by being a spectator.”
“Before I expend my homestar’s life force, I need to know what I’m shooting at. If Dennagon were truly a worthy warrior, we would not even be discussing this now. I’m beginning to get the feeling that he favors conflict for the sake of conflict, else Aurahelm would have been a smoldering ruin by now. And I think that he’s not the only dragon obsessed with combat here.”
Lyconel did not know whether to confirm or deny the implied accusation of her motives.
“In the meantime,” he resumed, “you’re staying here where you can’t cause any more trouble.”
“A bit unwise to leave one of your greatest warriors behind, don’t you think? As I recall, it was your recklessness that gave you your vaunted name.”
“You would know all about recklessness, wouldn’t you?”
“You would know all about my specialties,” Lyconel replied. “Dad.”
Draconic dens of lava spanned across the fields of firewheat. Serpentine peasants armed with pitchforks, plows, axes, threshers and various other dragon farming implements were busily harvesting their crops, gathering flaming fruits and vegetables from the plants they had sown. Barns were posited behind the homes, corralling a multitude of fiery livestock, which supplemented their agriculture. There was even a windmill in the distance that spun to catch the solar winds, along with a well from which the molten heavy elements at the center of the Sun could be drawn. Hard working were the denizens of the villages, for they spent every solar day tending to their plants and the animals they maintained. Truly, the consciousness of diligence was alive in them, beating with every seed they sprouted and every tract of land they loosened. Nonetheless, there was a somber sense of emptiness in their assiduousness. Something was missing from their lives that seemed so rife with duty and responsibility. For although they were productive, no stories were ever written about them, and no bards ever sang of them in the halls of mightier beings. There was no majesty to the farmlands. No heroes ever rose from those fields.
Dennagon and Dradicus walked through, thinking of the peasants as little more than background filler.
“It’s been ages since this many Errant warriors have returned,” the scout informed. “Everyone must think we’re in serious trouble.”
“Heed not what others think, but what you feel.”
“Don’t other consciousness’ perceptions count for something?”
“Not when I have my own mind.”
Dennagon looked at the peasants surrounding him. Where he came from, the only commodities were the black orbs of knowledge, and the only civilians were the sentries that were sent to collect them. Never had he seen a dragon domesticated into working in a farmland. It seemed like a complete contradiction to the very anatomy of a dragon. He could not help but feel a sense of pity for those villagers, who were bound to do nothing but work to eat and eat to work for the rest of their lives. Then again, their lack of perseverance and intelligence probably enslaved them to those crops in the first place.
Dradicus, on the other talon, did not have such negative sentiments about the fields. Memories of whelphood games and diversion made this place a happy one for him. Smiling, he reminisced about all the times he and Lyconel used to frolick in the grass, pretending they were battling knights and gryphons. Humans used to frighten him back then. How the tables turned when he had his growth spurt.
In order to prevent his present memories from tarnishing the ones he had in the past, he decided to speak of what little “history” the kingdom had.
“This kingdom came after the Death of Shevinoth. It was erected in his honor, some say. You do know Shevinoth, don’t you?”
Of course he knew Shevinoth. Everyone knew him, and those who did not obviously did not get out of their lairs much.
“What of the legend?”
“He was the first king of the dragons. Myth tells that he fought through the cosmos as a scholar of the stars, trying to divine what made time tick. With the Power Cosmic, he could travel across Universes in deep time and live through the earliest cosmic ages all the way to the oldest in what would seem like a minute to him. Many bizarre enemies that even I cannot fully understand stood in his path, but he defeated them all until finally, he faded into the brain of the heavens. Odd that we should not see a constellation of him upon the eve celestial tapestry, but then, there is no such thing as a god.”
Dennagon looked to the sky with his omnipotent eyes. He was right. There were no constellations.
“So Sagathar built this city in his name, trying to honor his memory,” continued Dradicus. “But really, it was just a knee-jerk reaction to the rising of Drakemight on the World. The old Executor didn’t want the knowledge of the planet he deemed to be a dungeon to infest the cosmos, so in a fit of jealousy, he simply made this kingdom to boast his cunning. When it dawned upon himself what his real intentions were, he took shame, and acknowledged the fact that if Shevinoth was truly beyond time, then there would be no need to pay him homage. All in all, he deleted the city’s past to make it all a little less lame.”
That made the stranger wonder how old this place really was. If there was no chronology, then there would be no need to perpetuate any biological functions. Time would not move forward, which hinted the possibility that everything around him was just an illusion. Just like everything else in reality.
“This place is timeless. Why do these peasants labor so arduously?”
“Oh them? Don’t ask me. I’ve never had to do the rubbish they do. I’m royalty.”
He gave Dradicus a cockeyed glance. The image of the wurm being wheeled off into a reptilian looney bin suddenly popped in his mind.
“Ooookay...Where are the warriors then?”
“The warriors each have their own homes. Here, they do not have to eat, sleep or drink as the peons do, since the Sun itself feeds its mana to them and gives them unnatural vitality. The thing is, we fighters earned the right to battle because of our commitment and bravery. While the peasants are sedulous, they are simply inferior and do not have the same cosmic objectives as we do.”
“And you were allowed to be a warrior why?”
Dradicus lowered his eyes at the insult. Sycophantically, he chuckled.
“I didn’t get into this gig just because of my father. I had to prove I had qualities fantastic and singular. Mine eyes spy many things most see not, and after trials of courage, I was dubbed an Errant.”
“So what happens when you lose? You end up as a peasant?”
“Their lives are pathetic. Why don’t they just kill themselves?”
“Suicide requires bravery.”
“By the way, I wanted to ask you something.”
Dradicus took out a tome that was laced with 21st Century hardware. It was once an ordinary spellbook, but it had been haphazardly upgraded with technological enhancements, making it a cyberspellbook. Wide-eyed, he showed it off. Its shoddy construction did little to impress Dennagon.
“You’re sort of a technomagician right?”
“There is no rift between sorcery and technology,” replied Dennagon.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the creation of machinery from magic. It’s just so much better than building stuff from scraps that I find laying all over the World. If you have time, would you mind, like, you know...Teaching me some stuff?”
Dennagon rolled his eyes and hissed. He was about to reject the request, but the cyberspellbook glowed in his presence, catching the attentions of all the nearby villagers.
Dennagon despised them, but some strange sensation compelled him to return their gaze. The same sensation that leads serpents to watch snakefights.
Kenneth C. Eng’s Biography:
Kenneth Eng is the author of Dragons: Lexicon Triumvirate and this new sequel, Dragons: Epic Eternal. He has written for AsianWeek and appeared on FOX News, CNN, NBC, ABC, Today, and was mentioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Mayor Gavin Newsom. He has recently appeared on Science Fantastic with Michio Kaku, who is the cofounder of string field theory.
Dragons: Epic Eternal can be found here:
Copyright © 2018 by Kenneth Eng