Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?
Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?
In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon team sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.
Plumes of dark smoke billowed into the air across the city. The sickly smell of smoke
and death wafted on a gentle breeze across the market square, tugging at the canvas of the
overturned market stalls scattered haphazardly amongst the raging fires.
Off to one side stood the giant archway, which for hundreds of years had been regarded
as the main entrance to the city. Normally a giant monster of an oak gate and portcullis hung,
attached to the weathered archway, providing a reassuring air of safety to all the residents of
the city. That had all changed about fifteen minutes ago. Now all that remained was the
splintered outline of the huge beast, where it had casually walked through both oak gate and
metal portcullis, as easily as a knife would slice through butter.
Steam rose from the dark cobbles of the market square; some glowed yellow and orange
with the heat. A trickle of water could be heard coming from the debris which not more than
ten minutes ago had been the ornate fountain, the grand centrepiece of this magnificent
square. The remaining buildings were on fire; the smell of burning flesh and bones was
everywhere, but despite this the people still alive were mesmerised by the sight before them.
At the entrance to the square, with wreckage on either side of it, hovering a few metres in
the air, was a giant dragon. The dragon was matt black all over with a wingspan in excess of
fifty metres, and flame was dribbling down both sides of its colossal jaws.
In spite of its size the dragon was clearly agitated, roaring occasionally, scraping the
large claws on its feet along the top of the rubble on either side of it, and banging its tail into
the ground intermittently. The object of its agitation stood directly opposite, on the other side
of the square: out of breath, clad from head to toe in chainmail armour, and clutching a rusty
shield in one hand and a shining sword in the other. The knight was sweating profusely and
parts of his armour were blackened from fleeting encounters with the dragon’s flame over the
past few minutes.
The knight seemed to have spent the last few seconds deciding on a course of action and,
in one swift motion, dropped his rusty shield and threw his helm to the ground. He then
proceeded to remove his gauntlets and the armour around his feet. You could almost hear a
collective gasp from the city folk left alive, as the armour came off and the knight appeared to
mouth a silent challenge to the giant beast on the other side of the square. Impossible as it
may seem, the dragon appeared to understand the knight’s whispered challenge from over
three hundred metres away, and with one huge flap of its wings propelled itself forward,
creating such down force that stone, wood and dead bodies were hurled across the square. At
exactly the same time, the knight started sprinting towards the dragon, with most of his
armour now removed and just his shining sword for company.
Time seemed to stand still as the speeding dragon travelled towards the knight, just
above the ground, emitting a thunderous cone of fire in front of it. As the city folk watched in
awe, it seemed there could only be one possible outcome: that the knight would be obliterated
by the mighty beast.
As the apparently inevitable drew closer, the sprinting knight managed to find a little
more speed and at the split second before hitting the tip of the flame, dived headlong towards
the cobbles. The extra speed had caused the dragon to miscalculate and as the knight rolled
underneath the dragon, he managed to turn over and thrust the heavy two handed sword into
its dark underbelly with just one hand.
The flames died away instantly as the dragon thudded awkwardly to the ground, its
massive body narrowly missing the exhausted knight. The dragon let out a low pitched holler
that could be heard citywide, as its jaw cracked against the stone of the square. The knight
hauled himself up from the ground, visibly panting as he did so. He slowly walked along the
side of the downed dragon, as if inspecting it, only stopping when he reached its head.
Kneeling down he started to recite some words only he and the beast could hear. Seconds
turned to minutes as the knight continued to whisper to the fallen dragon.
Meanwhile, the city folk appeared to be recovering from the shock of previous events by
helping the wounded, putting out fires, and comforting those people mourning the loss of a
From one side of the square a group of people, headed by the mayor, made their way
cautiously towards the knight through the burning rubble, thick black smoke, and numerous
bodies. As they approached, the knight finished his whispered conversation and a soft purple
glow slowly spread from the dragon’s head to the tip of its tail, finally encompassing its
The knight walked back along the dragon until he got to its belly. Crouching over, he put
two hands on the hilt of his sword and swiftly pulled it free from the dragon’s body. As he
did so, about a dozen tiny scales clattered onto the stone cobbles. These scales had dropped
from the immediate area around the sword’s entry wound and were each about the size of a
man’s fingernail. Quick as a flash, the knight scooped them up and poured them into a silk
bag which he had produced from beneath his armour. He then sheathed his sword and turned
to face the newcomers.
“Is it dead?” asked the mayor, nervously.
“For all intents and purposes, yes,” said the knight.
“How can we ever repay you for what you have done here today, brave knight? That vile
beast would surely have destroyed everything had you not stepped up, valiant Sir,” whispered
“I require no reward. I’m sorry for the loss of life and damage to your city,” the knight
replied in a heartfelt manner. “I have companions who as we speak are making their way here
with great haste to assist with what has happened this day, among them healers and
engineers. I ask that they are allowed to help out as best they can, and also that you not
address me as Sir, as I have not yet earned that title, but by my name: George.”
The group of dignitaries nodded their agreement in unison and told George that lookouts
would be posted to greet his companions, before hastily rushing off, clearly still frightened by
the body of the giant dragon.
Over the next two days things progressed quickly. All the major fires were put out using
water from the city’s surrounding rivers, as the people formed giant human chains to pass the
buckets along. Those not involved in controlling the fires helped the wounded, either in the
hospital, by escorting them there, or by collecting herbs and roots outside the city to
manufacture new medicines. The bodies of the dead were collected and taken to giant pyres
that had been erected outside the walls of the city. The spire of the city’s magnificent
cathedral, fortunately undamaged, cast its long shadow over the city square, as if joining in
the people’s collective sorrow.
During this time George’s companions started to arrive on their own and in pairs. They
were easily identifiable because they all wore the same tunics as George. These tunics were
white with a bright blue trident running diagonally across them. Upon arrival they were taken
through the bloodstained boulevards to the overcrowded hospital, where George was helping
to tend to the seriously wounded in a dark, dank, death-smelling ward.
George, seemingly in charge, dished out assignments to the new arrivals straight away.
The healers stayed in the ward to assist the injured, most doing so immediately even though
they had travelled for many days and were hungry, tired and weary.
Other arrivals included planners, politicians, and engineers. The planners and politicians
worked closely with the mayor and his advisors to try and co- ordinate the rebuilding effort
and temporarily re-house those folk who had lost their homes.
The engineers, meanwhile, seemed to be working miracles. Working around the clock,
they designed and built two massive conveyor belts, spanning the entire circumference of the
square, powered by an array of shire horses. They had also taken the one decaying crane that
belonged to the city, reinforced it so that it could lift ten times the weight it had been able to
bear previously, and made it mobile.
People watching the efforts of these men whispered in hushed tones that they were doing
the impossible and that they must be using some sort of… magic.
During all of this, the giant body of the broken dragon lay in one corner of the square,
eagerly avoided by everyone. Its magnificent black wings were lying at an excruciating angle
with its delicate, flimsy arms tucked in under its bulging belly. If anyone had bothered to look
closely at the corpse, which of course they didn’t, they would have noticed that its scales had
taken on a shimmering purple hue.
As the days passed, the progress in repairing the devastation was phenomenal. The crane
moved around the square lifting debris onto the conveyor belt. Usable building material was
taken off at different points of the belt, while anything with no value was left on until the end
and then taken away by horse and cart. In the meantime the planners had drawn up a
blueprint of where the new buildings would go, agreed it with the mayor and his advisors and
passed it on to the engineers who would implement it.
In the hospital all the minor injuries (broken bones, burns, concussions etc) had been
taken care of and the patients discharged. Seven patients remained in the ward; all had been
critically ill when they came in. The doctors and nurses performing triage had given them
absolutely no chance of survival at the time, and moved their blood soaked bodies into a
mouldy, shadow-ridden corner of the ward. The patients all remained alive now because of
George. He had found them, waiting to die in that corner, and tended to them personally. The
good doctors and nurses had gone about their work, dismissing George’s actions as a waste of
time because the patients seemed too far gone. But remarkably, one by one the patients’
conditions seemed to stabilise, much to the delight and surprise of everybody on the ward.
With less work to do in the hospital, George spent more time checking on the rebuilding
work and conversing with his companions. As he moved through the streets of the city,
people would approach him, men shaking his hand, women kissing him on the cheek, all
offering thanks for the seemingly amazing feats he and his companions had achieved. They
were all grateful that George had managed to halt the mighty dragon before it destroyed their
beautiful cathedral. Everybody in the city remarked what a true and inspiring leader of men
he was. If only they knew the truth…
It was in the early hours of the morning on the seventh day after the battle with the
dragon, that in the shadows of one of the partly rebuilt houses on the edge of the square,
George held a meeting with his companions.
“How long until everything here is complete?” he asked.
Hannah the chief politician replied,
“Two full days from now the whole thing will be finished; the city will be as good as
new, if not better.”
“What about the chamber? Will it be ready on time?” enquired George.
“As far as we know preparations are in an advanced stage and it will be ready when we
get there,” answered Hannah.
“Have we procured any transport for Troydenn?” was the next question George asked,
directing it towards the engineers. From the back of the building out stepped a short, fat,
balding man with a great big, thick, grey beard. Although nothing special to look at, this man
clearly commanded great respect, as well he should, for he was renowned as one of the best
engineers that had ever lived. His name was Axus.
He moved through the crowd to the front so that he could address George.
“We’ve asked the mayor if we can have two of the massive freight sleighs that they use
in winter to transport goods up the main road and through the pass. I don’t think there will be
a problem as they will still have six left and as it’s only spring, they will have plenty of time
to build replacements. We know how to convert the runners on the bottom of the sleighs to
work effectively on road, grass and mud. The biggest problem we have now is that because of
Troydenn’s massive frame the sleighs will have to be attached so they run side by side and
must be reinforced dramatically. At the moment we have no way of doing this. I’ve sent word
back home and they are going to send someone out to us with a couple of new mantras to try.
All seven miles of the route to the cave have been checked for any obstacles that may impede
the sleighs, and the two miles inside the cave have been reinforced and lit up. Guards have
been posted discreetly along the entire length of the journey.”
On hearing all of this George gave a huge sigh of relief.
“You’ve all done a fantastic job over the past days, but as you know the hardest part is
almost certainly still to come. I ask that you all continue the effort you’ve been making for
two more days so that we can finish our tasks for these good people. Also, I’m sure we all
know to be extremely vigilant. Anything out of the ordinary, no matter how small, should not
be overlooked, because if they get him back, this will all have been for nothing. Let me know
if there’s anything else I can do.”
As everybody started to sneak back to their accommodation, George pulled Axus to one
side for a quiet word.
“Is there any word on how or why he’s changed colour?”
“Not so far,” replied Axus. “The council are working hard to find out though. Nothing
like this has ever happened before as far as anyone knows, so they are sifting through the
royal library, the dragonkin database and asking the relevant people if they know anything,
but nothing as yet.”
“Okay, let me know if you hear anything,” whispered George, as they slid out of the
building and into the night-time shadows.
The next day, the building work continued at a frantic pace. All of the buildings were
nearly finished and the last intricate pieces were being added to the almost totally rebuilt
fountain, the square’s centrepiece. The mayor told the engineers that they were welcome to
take the sleighs that they needed. He added that because that night was due to be their last in
the city, a massive feast would be laid on to thank them all, and in remembrance of all those
who had lost their lives.
Late in the afternoon a visitor arrived on a horse, asking to see Axus. Once guided to
him, through the hectic preparations for the feast, the visitor dismounted, pulled three large
cylindrical objects from his saddle bags, and handed them over. All the engineers gathered
round as Axus opened the first cylinder and pulled a large sheet of parchment from it. From
this point onwards the group of engineers looked more like a party of naughty school girls, all
huddled together, whispering, sighing, even giggling at one point. They stayed like this for
the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening, pausing only to obtain food and drink
from the feast.
The feast itself was a great success. The food and drink were wonderful; the fires
crackled and the scent of roasted meat swept across the city. The sound of music and dancing
filled the air on this warm spring night. Towards the end of the evening, the mayor gave an
emotionally charged speech, naming all those who had lost their lives in the attack, praising
George’s courage in confronting the dragon, and thanking him and his companions for their
help in restoring the city to its former state. He also announced to everyone that George’s
entourage would be taking the dragon’s corpse with them when they left the next day.
As the sun rose early the next morning the city seemed to be a hive of activity. The smell
of freshly baked bread wafted down the streets as people cleaned up from the night before,
dismantling stalls and marquees, collecting all the litter, washing shop fronts and streets.
George made his way towards the nearly finished square, eager to talk to the engineers about
their progress. On arrival he was confronted by a group beaming with pride but looking much
the worse for wear after the previous night’s merrymaking. Axus appeared to one side of the
“Blimey, that wine was potent last night. My mouth feels like a badger’s bottom,” he
said, looking completely bedraggled, with chunks of meat and bread littering his unkempt
beard. “Still, could have been worse I suppose. Poor old Hopkins spent most of last night
whispering sweet nothings to those two sacks of flour over there. He even came over at one
point to tell us that he thought one of them might be marriage material. Haaaa haaaaa, I don’t
think he’s going to live that down for quite some time!” muttered Axus hoarsely.
“Anyway, onto important matters. It’s done! One of the mantras sent out did the trick
nicely. The two sleighs are as one and look as though they have always been that way. We’ve
been up all night testing it to make sure it’s okay. Only a matter of getting him on there
now!” exclaimed Axus.
As George listened to what Axus was saying he noticed out of the corner of one eye a
small boy appear from between two buildings and cautiously make his way towards the
dragon’s body. George stood riveted to the spot. None of the city folk would go anywhere
near the dragon; most refused to even look at it.
As the boy got closer he seemed to be pulling something from his belt. Quick as a flash
George had moved to put himself between the boy and the dragon.
“What exactly would you be up to, young sir?” asked George politely. The boy stood
looking rather sheepish, suddenly realising that not only had he attracted the attention of
George, but everyone else in the square as well.
“Well… um, I, er… my name is Sam, Sam Smithers. My dad is Elron Smithers, the city’s
best known butcher. I um…. thought it would be such a waste, you know, what with some of
the not so well off people in the city not having enough food and all. I thought it would save
you the trouble of having to take it away as well.”
“Let me get this straight,” exclaimed George dubiously, “you were going to skin it!”
“To make sausages,” added Sam.
The group of engineers burst into laughter as one. Everyone else looked on in
astonishment as Sam’s face turned a deep shade of scarlet. George ushered the crowd to
“Young Sam, you seem full of noble sentiment which I admire greatly. But unfortunately
there is a bigger picture which, because of your age, you fail to grasp. Perhaps you would
take your knife and try and skin the dragon for me? If you succeed you can keep all the meat
you like,” declared George.
With the eyes of all those around on him, Sam pulled his knife from his belt and headed
determinedly for the beast. With the knife in his right hand, Sam put his left hand on the
dragon’s right thigh to brace himself and, drawing his arm back, he thrust the knife at the
At the first point of contact the knife buckled in on itself, and the shock from the impact
forced Sam to drop the now useless blade onto the cobbles. Sam stood with a look of absolute
amazement on his face.
George wandered over to where the bewildered Sam stood and put his arm round his
“Sorry Sam, that was a bit mean, but I thought a demonstration would be more effective
than anything I could say to you. The reason we need to take the carcass away is that it
requires very special measures to dispose of a dead dragon. And since you’ve ruined your
best knife you can have this as a replacement,” George said, slipping a gleaming dagger made
from white gold, encrusted with tiny jewels, from his tunic and into Sam’s shaking hands.
Sam managed to squeak a “Thank you” before heading gingerly back through the crowd
towards his father’s shop.
With the excitement over, everybody went about their work with a quiet dignity,
knowing that they had all contributed to a job well done.
By early afternoon all of the building work was complete and the city’s giant crane
perched over the body of the outstretched dragon, like a huge heron waiting to rip into the
water to catch a fish. Leather harnesses crisscrossed the dragon and met in the centre above
him to form a gigantic net. The horses that George’s companions had arrived on had been
tethered together and attached to the front of the double freight sleighs that now occupied one
corner of the square. Axus was busy co-ordinating the efforts of all the engineers. Time
ticked by slowly as the crane took up the slack in the gigantic net. The creaking and groaning
of the crane’s timbers could be heard all across the square as the dragon was raised a few
metres into the air.
It seemed the whole city had come out to see this happen. People were crowded onto the
city walls overlooking the square, hanging out of windows, and packed onto balconies. With
the dragon suspended in mid-air, the sleighs were guided very slowly into position
underneath. The dragon was gently lowered onto the transport after about forty minutes, and
the watching crowd let out a resounding round of applause.
Axus and the engineers checked the sleighs to make sure everything was secure and then
formed up behind them. The politicians and planners had lined up in front of the sleighs to
form a convoy headed towards the rebuilt east gate of the city. George shook hands with the
mayor and took his place at the head of the convoy, leading them towards the exit, to the
sound of a fanfare from the trumpeters, high up on the city’s walls.
It took an agonisingly long time to reach the gate, at the slow pace they were going. But
as George crossed beneath it, he reflected on all that had happened in such a short space of
time. The good folk of the city waved him off believing that he had conjured up some sort of
miracle to defeat the dragon. If only they had known the truth: that he too was a dragon,
along with all his companions, just in their mutatioform at the moment.
Being a dragon in human form (mutatio) gave George enormous advantages over normal
humans, such as superior strength, stamina, intelligence and agility. Also his metabolism
could heal him faster, he had a higher tolerance for pain and he was tougher, making it harder
to wound or injure him.
That’s not to say it was a fair fight by any means. The dragon in its natural (solitus) form
is virtually impossible to kill. A normal human would have no chance of killing a dragon as
there is only one spot to strike on its entire body where it would be vulnerable, and it would
take a perfect strike to actually slay it. Even a blow to injure it is remote, as generally the area
of vulnerability is very small.
George was able to discern the exact point where Troydenn, the dragon, could be hurt or
killed when they fought, because he was a dragon himself and whether a dragon is solitusor
mutatio, another dragon can always see that special weak point. When George thrust his
sword into Troydenn, he knew it wasn’t a killing blow because of the angle the sword went
in, purposefully inflicting a massive amount of pain and incapacitating the dragon for a short
period of time.
As George pondered all of this, the giant sleighs with the matt black dragon attached
made their way out of the city and into the countryside at a slow pace, escorted by George
and his companions.
The troop travelled for the next five hours before finding a suitable place to stop for the
night, just before sunset. The place they had found was a clearing near a small brook, off the
main road, if you could call it a main road that is. As the horses were released from the
burden of pulling the sleigh and led to the brook for water, George told everyone what they
needed to do.
“We need lots of torches lit. Plant them into the ground to form concentric circles all the
way to the edge of the road, with Troydenn right at the centre. I don’t want anyone sneaking
up on us tonight. If they are going to come for him I want to see what’s going on. We will
fight them here and we WILL win. Also we all need to get used to this, because at our present
rate of speed we are going to spend at least two more nights in the countryside with only
ourselves to depend upon before we reach the cave.”
With guards posted all around the clearing and the horses tied up by the brook, a small
fire was set up in the middle for cooking and warmth. As the food was cooked and eaten,
people not on sentry duty tried to get some rest as best they could in the centre of the camp.
As George sat to one side quietly eating, Axus trudged across from the fire to sit beside
him, bread in one hand, a mug of water in the other.
“No bloody wine again, huh! I know, I know. Need to be sharp and all that. Still what’s
an old… man supposed to do?”
As they sat eating, Axus gave a nod towards the dragon at the centre of the camp.
“Slightly ironic that you were sent to bring him back I suppose. I mean what with you
growing up in the same nursery ring and then being in the council’s royal guard together and
There followed a great silence between the men. All that could be heard was the
crackling of the fire, the meat sizzling on the spit and a few whispered conversations from
around the camp. Axus, not normally one to worry about what he had said, started to have
serious misgivings about the situation because the silence had lapsed into minutes and
George still sat there with a faraway look on his face. A few more moments passed by and
George let out a deep breath, a look of relief on his face.
“It was no coincidence that I was sent to confront him and bring him back. The council
knew after what happened at Panama that it had to be me. Not only that, but apparently there
are prophecy mantras that predicted that all of this would one day happen, depending on who
Axus, visibly stunned, sat on the ground shaking his head as George continued. “What I
don’t understand Axus, is how anyone is capable of doing what he has done. As you said, we
practically grew up together; I’ve fought alongside him on a battlefield, letting him watch my
back. I would have laid down my life for him at that point. Believing that he was capable of
that level of deception and those atrocities was never really an option for me, until I saw what
happened firsthand at Panama. It had to be me that confronted him and returned him to the
others. I never really believed it before but I know it now.”
The noise in the camp had died down. Only the sound of the burning torches and the
cooking fire could be heard as the two men contemplated what had been said.
After finishing their food and drink George piped up with a question, keen to move away
from thoughts of the past.
“Can I ask about the area in Antarctica?”
Axus, clearly happier at talking about an engineering subject, replied,
“What do you want to know?”
“Well I know that it’s a containment area, only to be used as a last resort, but that’s about
all I do know. Perhaps you could tell me a bit more, as it seems increasingly likely that it will
come down to that.”
Axus stroked his beard thoughtfully as he answered.
“About fifty years ago, some of our best geologists were in southern Chile looking for
new laminium deposits. They were looking at two volcanoes in particular, Monte Burney and
the more southerly Fueguino. Now although no new deposits were found, the cutting edge
technology that they had with them kept giving off very strange readings. Instead of putting
the readings down to a fault with the equipment as most would have, the geologists decided
to investigate and made a startling discovery. Running from Southern Chile, out towards the
Falkland Islands, was a large underground channel. The channel was about half a mile wide,
running approximately two miles under the ocean’s surface. Just before it reached the
Falkland Islands the channel branched, with one branch leading to a surface entrance on the
Falkland Islands and one twisting sharply and heading directly south towards Antarctica. The
geologists were amazed and had never seen anything like it. Most bewildering of all was that
these highly skilled individuals could not tell if the phenomenon was naturally occurring or
not. The group kept following the channel south but eventually came up against a problem
they were not equipped or prepared for.”
“Of course,” said George quick-wittedly, “the temperature.”
Axus grinned wildly.
“That’s right. And with low temperatures having such an adverse effect on us dragons,
sapping our strength, energy and stamina as well as clouding our minds, wisely the group
stopped before the temperature plummeted too low. At that point they decided to set up a
camp there, while two of them returned to fetch specialist protective mantras. After
discussions with all the leading experts (and more than one visit to Gee Tee’s Mantra
Emporium), appropriate mantras were found, although because of the difference in volume
between mutatioand solitus, the mantras were deemed most effective in human form. Once
everything they needed was procured, and the council informed of what was happening, the
geologists set off into the channel heading towards Antarctica. They continued for many days
and nights, only able to survive because they were in human form, protected from the cold
that would almost certainly have cost them their lives, solely by the protective aura of the
specialist mantras they had returned to get.
As the group trudged on, the temperatures plummeted even further and the channel
became more treacherous. Two of the team succumbed to frostbite in their feet and had to
turn back, accompanied by one of the healthy geologists to make sure they returned to the
camp safely. By now things were looking really bleak for the team but they were desperate to
find out more about this phenomenon. As they sat round the make-shift camp fire eating
nearly the last of their provisions, they concluded that they could travel for another twenty
four hours before they had to turn back. The group set off early in what their body clocks told
them was morning. As they set off into the darkness, the floor of the channel started to
descend quite steeply. Weaving their way through giant stalagmites growing up out of the
floor and ducking down at times to avoid even bigger stalactites hanging from the ceiling, to
the group it looked just like giant jaws about to swallow them whole. At the point when it
looked as if they would have to turn back defeated, the path ahead of them opened out into a
gigantic cavern, like nothing any of them had ever seen before. This was as far as that group
got, due to the cold and the fact that they had run out of food.”
George let out a long breath that crystallised in the cold night air as he contemplated
what he had heard.
“Any tales that have something to do with cold always send shivers down my tail no
matter what form I’m in.”
“Aye,” chuckled Axus, “but that’s not the end of it. After that startling discovery, more
expeditions were sent to see what else they could find out about the place. Six expeditions
over a fifteen year period finally revealed all. The cavern that the geologists came to the
entrance of, below Antarctica, is believed to be the biggest on the planet. It’s in excess of five
hundred square miles and has a depth in places of over two miles. Unusually it has
underground fresh water streams running through it, the source of which has yet to be
determined. Another odd fact is that there is no geothermal activity whatsoever, with not a
single trace of any known mineral deposit anywhere in or around the entire cavern system.
The channel seems to be the only entrance into the cavern and the temperature never gets
above -10o C, which is ideal for the purpose the council has in mind, I think you’ll agree
George ran both hands through his long black hair as he considered everything Axus had
“It just feels so permanent, Axus. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, and that the
council can find another solution.”
“Aye, I know what you mean son, but these are undoubtedly the darkest times we’ve
ever faced as a race. Even all the trouble that went on in South America pre-Balfor, pales into
comparison with all of this. None of this sits that comfortably with me George, but I trust in
the wisdom of the council and so should you. Once they’ve made their decision, whatever
that should be, we can be confident that the hard work of so many has left us all well
prepared. The cavern is well stocked with everything needed to survive well into the future.
Individual shaped charges have been laid, starting at the exit of the cavern, going ten miles
back into the channel at five hundred metre intervals. They have been carefully tested so that
they only bring the roof of the channel down and do not disturb the ocean above. If it’s
decided that Troydenn and his followers should be incarcerated then they will be, well and
truly, in that cavern.”
“Well, I appreciate you telling me some of the details Axus. Let’s trust in the council’s
judgement and wait to see what they decide,” George said firmly. With that the two parted
company for the night, George to go on guard duty and Axus to get some sleep.
As the sun rose over the camp, those sleeping were woken, bread and cheese passed out,
and the horses watered, before the day’s journey started. The convoy continued as it had
started the previous day.
The journey over the next two days proved uneventful. The convoy passed many people,
including travellers, salesmen, and farmers, during that time, most of whom didn’t seem
surprised to see a giant matt black dragon being pulled through the countryside on a massive
sleigh. When these people were passed, sometimes sly hand signals were exchanged,
sometimes a look was enough, or maybe even a whistle. All the cloak and dagger business
with the passers-by, showed that the way ahead had been checked for any danger and that
none had been found.
In the middle of the afternoon on the third day, the convoy left the muddy main road at
the point where a blue trident had been inconspicuously painted on a large boulder, and
headed across an open field in the exact direction the trident pointed. After crossing the field,
the group came to a coppice and noted the same trident carved into a tree, pointing in another
direction, and duly followed it. This went on for about two more hours, until they came over
a rise and into a meadow. In the distance, beyond the long swaying grass dotted with flowers,
was a large rocky outcrop.
Just as the convoy entered the meadow, hundreds of warriors and archers appeared
silently from within the grass and on top of the outcrop. Bows and swords appeared from
nowhere in the hands of all members of the convoy as they formed a defensive position
around Troydenn, even though they were massively outnumbered. A tense silence enveloped
the meadow and the outcrop; the only movement was that of the long grass rippling in the
wind. George stood up from his kneeling position in front of the massive dragon with his
shining sword in his hand. As he did so, a loud horn could be heard all across the meadow.
One of the foremost warriors stepped forward from the long grass, sheathed his sword,
walked towards George and clasped his free hand. George and the warrior exchanged
whispered greetings while all around them bows and swords were stowed. The soldiers in the
field parted swiftly, forming a huge path straight to the rocky outcrop. The convoy followed
the path to the outcrop where the entrance to a massive cave was revealed; as they did so the
soldiers in the meadow behind them closed in to form a great ring around them.
As everybody gathered at the cave entrance, the exhausted horses were untethered and
led off into the meadow to graze. Meanwhile ropes appeared from the well-illuminated cave
and were threaded through the sleigh on either side via a series of pulleys. More ropes were
attached to the back of the sleigh and then led out into the meadow.
Once everything seemed satisfactory to Axus, most of the warriors in the meadow picked
up the slack on the ropes in two lines and a large horn was sounded deep inside the cave. The
rope in and around the pulleys on the sleigh began to go taut, and the sleigh with its giant
burden moved slowly forward through the cave’s entrance. Moving at a funereal pace, the
convoy began its descent into the cave’s massive interior. Daylight from the entrance
gradually faded the further the group moved, being replaced by small circles of yellow light
on either side of them, coming up from the stony surface they all walked on. Every twenty or
so paces, jewels the size of a man’s fist throbbed with bright yellow light from their place on
the floor by the cave wall. These jewels lined the path all the way to the party’s destination,
just over two miles away. The rate of movement was incredibly slow and very occasionally a
tight hairpin bend would have to be negotiated, which meant that distance was measured
more in inches, rather than miles, per hour.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually just over eighteen hours, the weary
travellers reached their destination. The winding path opened out into a gigantic underground
cavern, which seemed to be filled with a lot of people. The same jewels that lit up the path
were placed all over the floor of the chamber and up the walls at intervals as far as the eye
could see; nevertheless, it was still impossible to discern the ceiling. Far from being damp
and cold, the chamber was warm and a subtle breeze flowed through the whole area. The
reason for this may have been the sporadic sections of molten lava around the edges of the
chamber and oozing down parts of the shiny stone walls.
Shuffling feet could be heard in the dimly lit arena, as men and women moved to the
edges to let the sleigh through to the middle. Once there, those who had travelled with the
convoy from the city gradually moved away from the massive sleigh towards the edges of the
cavern, merging with those already there, with the exception of George. Little men came
scurrying out of the shadows, surrounded the sleigh and started to inspect it purposefully.
After much whispering, one of the men asked George to step back from the dragon,
which he duly did, while the other men circled the sleigh and began chanting. It started as a
quiet whisper but soon reached a crescendo of raised voices, all in unison. All of a sudden
there was a huge BANG!!!!!
In the subsequent near silence, it would appear that instead of a scene of utter
devastation, the only thing that had happened was that the double sleigh on which the captive
dragon had been resting had completely disappeared, leaving the dragon lying on the cold
Unexpectedly, huge stone doors swung in on themselves right in front of George and the
dragon. Through them walked a tall man leading twenty four other men. As the crowd in the
chamber saw this, they as one all started to kneel down and bow their heads, realising it was
the dragon king and his councillors.
The king in his mutatioform looked nothing short of amazing. He was nearly seven feet
tall with long golden hair flowing down past his shoulders, colossal muscles protruding from
under his tunic, which was bright purple in colour and had a bright blue shimmering trident
on the front of it. Most stunning of all though, was the real trident the king was carrying in
his right hand. It was as tall as he was and appeared to be made of a bright blue metal that
quite literally seemed to have a mind of its own, visibly flowing in different directions all the
time, while also somehow remaining solid. An eye catching ring pulsed with different colours
on the king’s left hand.
The king thumped the trident onto the stone floor and spoke.
“Be upstanding everyone,” he said. “You should all know why we are here. Let the
proceedings begin,” he bellowed.
One of the councillors approached Troydenn, pulled some parchment out from under his
robes, and started reading the mantra on it. Everyone in the cavern could see the purple glow
throughout the giant dragon’s body recede more and more as the mantra continued. After
finishing the mantra and slipping the parchment back into his robes, the councillor addressed
Troydenn for everyone to hear.
“Will you voluntarily turn back into human form?” The dragon’s mighty skull moved
slightly, dragging its massive chin along the black stone floor, while two dribbles of flame
came out of its nostrils.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no’ then shall I?” replied the councillor, stepping aside to let the king
through. A little quiver seemed to run through the defiant dragon as the king raised the trident
and pointed it at his head.
“Since you won’t change of your own free will, I will force you to change which will be
most unpleasant… something I had hoped not to do.”
With that, shimmering beams of blue energy lanced out from the tips of the trident
towards Troydenn. When the beams hit his body they formed straight lines all along it, from
head to tail. All the while Troydenn remained motionless, except for his eyes; they flicked
from side to side, betraying the fear he felt.
Once all the horizontal lines were in place, the energy seemed to ‘flip over’ and form
vertical ones that crisscrossed the horizontal ones, giving the impression that a giant net
encased the dragon. Troydenn mustered all his strength in a panicked attempt to get to his
feet as though sensing what was yet to come. The shimmering net of blue energy crackled
ferociously as it began to shrink, causing Troydenn to let out a blood-curdling wail.
With Troydenn’s pain echoing around the cavern and the contracting lines of energy
crackling, sparking and smoking, it became very hard to see what was happening inside the
energy net. Certainly a change was taking place because the area the net covered had
diminished to about a third of the size it had been originally, and the wails and screams
coming from within it were now much less those of an animal and much closer to those of a
The transformation only took a few more seconds to complete. Lying slumped on the
cold stone floor, gasping for breath, was a stocky bald-headed man with a goatee beard and
strange black tattoos on his cheeks and neck.
A low murmur of disbelief rippled through the crowd after what they had just seen. Most
people realised that it was history in the making, as the last time a dragon had been put
through this was nearly three hundred years ago.
Unsteadily the man got to his feet, all the time taking in his surroundings as if he had just
woken from a long sleep. As he gazed over the king’s left shoulder, Troydenn looked into the
pale blue eyes of George, standing only a few feet away.
“Traitor!” he shouted, as he lunged towards George with a crazed look on his face, only
to be stopped inches away by hulking guards that appeared from the shadows. Troydenn spat
in George’s face and wriggled and kicked in an attempt to break free from the guards’ vicelike grip.
George wiped his face, desperately trying to maintain a façade of calmness and serenity,
even though every muscle in his body screamed to fight. With his feet dragging along the
ground, the guards hauled Troydenn back to the spot in front of king that he had previously
occupied. A red beam of energy shot out from the trident, hitting Troydenn in the foot, and
curled upwards towards his head, forcing him to stand bolt upright.
“Enough!” roared the king. “You will stand and listen to the charges brought against you
and your supporters.”
Out of the darkness, above the giant stone doors, a balcony suddenly appeared,
illuminated by an eerie green light. Dressed in scarlet robes lined with purple, and a matching
hood over her head, the magistrate appeared, gavel in hand. She smacked the gavel onto the
stone balustrade in front of her, causing a THUD to echo around the giant cavern.
“Troydenn, formerly of the high council’s royal guard, you are charged with the gravest
of crimes. Your followers have already admitted that they murdered, maimed, kidnapped,
stole, threatened and embezzled, all on your orders, for your own sordid purposes. The one
thing that is sacred to us as a race, taught to us throughout our formative years in the nursery
rings, is that we as a society are here to protect and guide humans at all times because of their
potential. Throughout dragonkin history, nearly all dragons have strived to obey this founding
principle laid down in our law.
I declare that you, Troydenn, are not only guilty of the crimes previously mentioned, but
of the worst crime possible in our civilization………… manipulation of humans for your
own selfish purposes. Since nothing on this scale has happened in over fifteen hundred years,
the punishment will be decided by the king and his council,” said the magistrate, clutching
her gavel tightly.
As the magistrate stood on the balcony overlooking everyone, the eerie green light that
had illuminated her started to fade away, after a few seconds making her indistinguishable
from the stone walls behind her. Simultaneously the same light appeared around the king and
With his long golden locks, backlit by the soft green light, the noble features of the
king’s face turned from quiet contemplation to steely determination as he prepared to speak.
“The council and I have spent the last two days discussing the sentence that should be
imposed on you, Troydenn. I can honestly say that this has been the hardest thing that the
council members and I have been required to do during our tenure. I believe the outcome was
reached in a fair and unbiased manner, considering all the relevant options and
circumstances, although it should be pointed out that the decision was not unanimous, but
reached by a majority of twenty four to one. The council hereby decrees that, YOU,
Troydenn, and all of your conspirators currently in custody, will be transferred forthwith to
our secure, remote detention facility, where you will remain for the rest of your natural lives.”
A huge ‘GASP’ echoed around the cavern from all the shocked dragons in their human
forms. In the shadows, a few feet behind the king, George stood rooted to the spot, absolutely
shell-shocked. Not for a moment did he believe the sentence would be so harsh or absolute,
despite his earlier conversation with Axus.
Throughout all this, Troydenn had remained totally impassive, with his jaw jutting out
and piercing eyes not moving from the figure of the king.
The king continued speaking.
“Because of the natural constrictions of the facility, you will all be extremely limited in
using your powers or any ‘ediscere’.” (Ediscereare mantras that are memorised, as opposed
to those that are written down.)
“ Provisions and equipment will be on hand to prevent any unwanted fatalities; however
you will have to work hard and manage the limited resources available to you constantly, to
ensure your continued existence. If you have anything meaningful to say, Troydenn, any
words of regret or apologies, you will now have your chance to do so.” The red beam of
energy holding the evil dragon in place faded away.
Troydenn held up his arms and turned around as if addressing everyone in the chamber.
The green light cast an ominous shadow over his malevolent face as he snarled,
“We will break free from whatever prison you confine us in and when we do, we will
destroy your precious dragon society and visit terror on all your little human pets. Whether it
takes ten years or five hundred, we WILL find a way.”
“Enough!” commanded the king. “The sentence has been passed. Secure him for his
flight with the rest of them.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” said the leader of the guards, as Troydenn was surrounded and
then bundled away by the rest of the soldiers.
A booming THUD resounded around the cavern as the magistrate smashed her gavel
against the stone balustrade in the darkness of the balcony high above and declared,
“This tribunal has ended.”
As the people left the cavern via variously concealed exits, George stood with a heavy
heart, on his own in the darkness. Tears started to stream down his face and he didn’t really
understand why. He realised that the crimes committed by his former comrade in arms were
amongst the most serious his kind had ever seen, and on an intellectual level he understood
that the sentence was probably the best thing for dragons, humans and the whole planet in
general. But somehow he couldn’t help thinking that this was a sad day in dragon history and
that this might have serious repercussions in the future.
Suddenly a well muscled arm appeared around George’s shoulder. Immediately alert and
ready to fight George pulled away, turned, and squared up to…………………. the king.
“I’m, I’m, I’m sorry Your Majesty,” George muttered, dropping his fighting stance.
“George my boy, less of the majesty, please,” said the king.
“Sorry,” replied George, wiping his tear-stained face on his sweat covered tunic.
“Listen, son. I know you have reservations about what’s happened here today and that’s
understandable. I also know you did a wonderful job bringing him in and repairing the
damage to that city. It’s no surprise that it’s affecting you badly considering how close the
two of you were. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. But try and think about the bigger picture.
The pain will ease over time and gradually fade altogether, but it might take a while.
You’re a good dragon, George, one of the best in fact. One day you will make it onto the
council and I think you’ll go on to become a great king, mark my words. But tell anyone I
said that and I’ll have to have your tongue cut out, as I’m supposed to be entirely neutral in
these matters,” said the king, winking and smirking at the same time.
George finally broke into a smile, for the first time in days.
“Thank you, Majesty,” he emphasised with a grin.
The king smiled and said,
“That’s much better,” and broke into a great big belly laugh.
The light-hearted moment was over as quickly as it had begun, the bond between the two
concealed, as one of the councillors approached.
“The flight has gathered with the prisoners, Majesty, and is ready to take off on your
command. A tracking station has been set up in the magistrate’s main office so that we can all
monitor their progress to the detention facility,” said the councillor sombrely.
“George and I will be there shortly Osvaldo. Thank you for letting us know,” replied the
The councillor nodded and walked back the way he came, giving George a disapproving
look as he did so.
“Hmmmm…,” whispered the king. “There’s something about that dragon which bothers
me, always has done, but I just can’t seem to put my finger on it. He’s always done his work
well, acted responsibly, helped others, and been a model councillor in fact. But just recently
the way he’s acted and some of the things he’s said have been really out of character.”
Osvaldo Rosebloom had been the one councillor who opposed Troydenn’s sentence.
“Anyway, no time to think of that now. Let’s get to the magistrate’s office and get this
over and done with.”
George followed the king through the concealed exit that Osvaldo had left by, and along
a maze of corridors, in almost total darkness. After a few minutes, the king stopped suddenly
and started to run his hands along the wall high above his head. Just as George was
wondering what was going on, there was a sharp ‘CLICK’ from overhead and amazingly part
of the wall silently slid away to reveal a brightly lit room bustling with activity.
Against each wall of the square office was a big desk, with a dragon in human form
sitting wearing a shiny metal helmet connected by coloured wires to a machine at that desk.
On the desk in front was a great big map of the world with different locations lit up and
marked on it. A couple of dozen or so leather-clad stools had been arranged in the middle of
the room. The main door to the room was exactly opposite where George and the king had
entered. A tall wooden bookcase stood next to the door, piled high with old books, looking
strangely out of place.
The king entered the room and, avoiding the stools in the middle, immediately headed
for the far corner where the other councillors were gathered. As George stepped into the room
and tried to make out what was going on, a little part of him recognised that the door through
which he and the king had arrived had closed completely, without making any sound, or
showing any sign now that it even existed at all. George was baffled and had never seen
anything quite like it. He made a mental note to himself about this and promised himself he
would try to find out more when he got the chance.
George regained his focus, and through all the noise of people talking and moving about
the busy room, he heard the familiar gruff tones of Axus. His no-nonsense approach was
always totally refreshing.
“We have four dragons flying separately from the rest of the flight, Majesty. Their job is
to transmit the images that they are seeing directly to their opposite number in this room.
Once the images are received, they will be passed on through the wires in the receiver’s
helmet to the tiny screen in the projection device. Light-emitting crystals will then shine
through the tiny screen, thus projecting the nearly real-time images onto one of the four walls
of this room.”
George looked around the room and seemed to get the gist of what Axus had been telling
the king. The flying dragons would travel with the guards carrying the prisoners to the
detention facility, but their job would be to transmit telepathically the images that they were
seeing so that everyone here could make sure the prisoners were successfully incarcerated.
George knew that all dragons had telepathic abilities, but he figured that these four were
probably stronger than most in that department due to the importance of this assignment.
Perhaps they even worked for The Daily Telepath itself, or were in some other way
The Daily Telepath was known to every dragon outside of the nursery rings, (as those
still in the rings are deemed too young to receive it) as a daily news bulletin that is
transmitted telepathically throughout most of the world, although dragons would find it
increasingly hard to receive in either remote or very cold places. Reporters gathered and
collated the news from all over the world, and it was then edited into a kind of telepathic
newspaper to be distributed to those that wanted it. Those who worked at the Telepath were
generally exceptional in their field of study, particularly if that field of study was telepathy.
The ironic thing about the Daily Telepath was that its offices were situated directly beneath
the Daily Telegraph offices in Fleet Street, London, England. Dragons in their various guises
worked for the Daily Telegraph, making sure that all the news collected about the human
world there was available to the editor of the telepathic news bulletin, as well as everything
Once edited, the bulletin was broadcast, at precisely five fifty eight am GMT daily, via
giant thought-amplifying transmitters located in the basement of its offices. Having left the
basement, the information travelled throughout the underground world of the dragons, using
massive crystal boosters, powered by geothermal power, located strategically throughout the
world. The day’s issue was stored in small crystals throughout the land, then over written the
next day. The crystal storage system allowed dragons to access their local paper and pick up a
copy. A typical Daily Telepath bulletin consisted of the main news story, (sometimes dragon,
sometimes human, sometimes one and the same) usually with a bold headline. Weather
warnings played an important part: not local warnings, but global warnings, about weather
systems such as typhoons, blizzards, and tidal waves. Sport was also on the agenda, as just
about all dragons were keen on sport, particularly laminium ball. There was also a letters
section where dragons commented on just about everything, and an obituaries column where
dragon death notices were placed. These, in particular, were very important as dragons very
rarely die; when they do, dragons can travel from far and wide to attend the normally
extravagant funeral proceedings. Any news to do with the king or the council would also
feature heavily in an edition of the Daily Telepath, and a selection of human news from
around the globe was also included.
The system seemed to work quite well for the most part, and dragons can often be heard
in human and dragon form discussing subjects from that day’s Daily Telepath. Just recently
the Telepath had been experimenting with images and had tried incorporating them in the
news bulletin. Even though dragons can successfully pass telepathic images in colour to one
another, the images tried by the Telepath in their experiments were in black and white and
had turned out to be quite poor in comparison. Most dragons complained that the images
were blurred and barely visible when the bulletin was looked at. This had apparently been put
down to the fact that the boosters that transmit the bulletin around the globe could not handle
the extra information entailed in the images. It now looked like most dragons were not going
to get to see pictures of their favourite laminium ball stars in the bulletin on a regular basis.
George’s mind, having wandered off, was brought back to the room by hearing Axus
finish off telling the king about the projection system.
“So you see Majesty, this was the only way to use the boosters in that area and keep the
transmission secure. We certainly don’t want every dragon in the world viewing the captives
on their way to being incarcerated, do we?” asked Axus seriously.
“Not with some of Troydenn’s followers still unaccounted for, no we don’t,” replied the
Axus clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention.
“Could everybody please move to the centre of the room, as that’s where you will get the
best view of all four projections. Dim the lights and start the projectors please!” ordered
All the people gathered in the room moved to the stools in the centre, except the
projectionists, Axus, the king, and strangely Osvaldo, who remained where he was, casually
leaning on the bookcase next to the room’s main entrance. As the room plunged into
darkness, the walls became alive with moving images. It took George a little while to process
exactly what he was seeing on the walls of the room.
On the ‘main wall’ in front of those gathered, was an image from a dragon that was right
in the middle of the convoy. The image showed dragons flying to the left, to the right, above
and below, all flapping their gigantic wings to propel them along. The flying dragons all had
tightly fitting harnesses strapped to them, with anything from one to three sedated dragons in
human form unwillingly attached to them.
On the ‘left wall’ the view was from a dragon clearly flying at the back of the pack, high
on the right hand side. It showed all of the dragons and their cargo from above, flying at
break-neck speeds through a large open cavern.
On the ‘right wall’ the view was from a dragon skimming along the surface of the
cavern, underneath the left side of the dragon flight. As the dragon looked up, he could see
the giant underbellies with the prisoners strapped to them and the bones and muscles in the
dragons’ wings working furiously to keep them aloft and propel them along at about five
hundred miles an hour.
On the wall behind the gathering of people, the scene showed the dragon convoy from
quite a distance away. The dragon projecting this image seemed to be trailing the large group
by about one and a half miles, with the dragons only really showing up as small dots, but dots
which appeared in corresponding shades to those dragons in the convoy. The captives
attached to the dragons could not be seen from this view because of the distance involved.
Those gathered in the centre of the room all seemed to have a different idea about what
was the best projection to view the proceedings from. George found himself gazing at the
‘behind’ view most of the time, while the others kept swivelling on their leather clad stools.
The limited light in the caverns that the convoy was flying through made the spectacle of the
dragons look like stars in a dusky night sky.
Progress was seemingly slow, but dragons were renowned for their patience and
understanding. Everyone in the room knew that this was only the start of a long journey. The
underground route for the convoy involved flying south west from Europe, towards Africa’s
eastern coast. Once there, the dragons would head south under the coast until they reached
the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown. Turning south west again they would then fly under the
south Atlantic for about three thousand miles, before arriving under the outskirts of Rio de
Janeiro. Following the coast of Uruguay they would head towards Buenos Aires in Argentina
before heading directly south towards the Falkland Islands and joining the massive trench
there that would take them all the way to the detention facility in Antarctica. The entire
journey was over eleven thousand miles long and would take about twenty two hours in total.
Most of the dragons in the room had let their concentration slip and their minds wander
more than a little. It had after all been an extremely intense and historic day, and the most
important part of the journey and the incarceration would be at the very end, from the
Falkland Islands onwards, so trying to relax now was by no means a bad thing. After all,
dragons had the ability to become instantly alert at a split second’s notice anyway.
George was no different from the others, and found his concentration waning in a room
where the only noise was that of Axus, who was constantly circling the room, whispering
instructions to each projectionist, adjusting the tiny light crystals or fiddling with the wires
that joined onto the dragons’ helmets. Occasionally Axus would inform everyone where the
dragon convoy was in the world and how far they still had to go.
“So far the convoy has flown under the Mediterranean and along the coast of Morocco.
They have just passed beneath Casablanca and shortly you will see from the projections
increased magma activity as the group skirt around our Canary Island geothermal power
plant,” said Axus with authority.
George could see from his preferred view, the long distance one, that the bottom of the
cavern systems now being traversed by the party was growing increasingly bright. Giant
slithers of molten lava weaved along the floor and lower walls, making it look like an
enormous spider had spun a mammoth fluorescent web.
George, like all other dragons, knew all about geothermal power; he had after all spent
months studying it in the nursery rings like every other dragon. The subterranean dragon
cities were all powered and heated using geothermal power and had been for many centuries.
Huge underground areas had also been specifically heated to exacting temperatures, so that
they could grow a diverse range of crops all over the world, just like giant underground
greenhouses. Although these achievements were amazingly clever and interesting, most
dragons’ favourite part of the geothermal process was the HOT SPRINGS……..
Just thinking about hot springs made George’s tail wave around in delight, even though
he was in human form. Whatever form he was in, George remained convinced that a dragon’s
tail was like its soul, and that you just could not be parted from its essence. So much so that
sometimes he even had to look behind him to check that he wasn’t dragging it along the
ground when he was disguised as a human. This thought, it must be said, was totally private
and not something he would ever want other dragons knowing, for fear of ridicule.
“Hot springs,” he thought, “are just pleasure personified to a dragon – that, and chewing
your way through a mound of charcoal… totally the best draggony things to do on the whole
If there’s one other thing that most dragons like, it’s gossip. Dragons are always sharing
the latest rumours about anything and everything. There was undoubtedly always talk about
the next big project to use geothermal power. George had overheard some of Axus’ engineers
gossiping back at the city after the fight with Troydenn. They were speculating on rumours of
a planet-wide transport system being built underground, which harnessed the geothermal
power. Pure fantasy of course, thought George. Just like the idea of different flavoured
charcoal and that absurd rumour about each city getting its own automated dragon wash.
With regard to geothermal power, it is widely hoped and believed within the dragon
community, that with the right guidance and a gentle nudge or two, humans in the coming
decades and centuries, as they develop and become more advanced technologically, will take
up the mantle of geothermal power because of its abundance and pollution-free properties.
Most dragons hark back to Roman times and point out that the Romans themselves were
subtly nudged in the direction of geothermal power and achieved it quite successfully,
especially at Pompeii, that is until the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
George’s wandering mind was once again interrupted by one of Axus’ updates on the
dragon convoy’s progress.
“The convoy has nearly reached Freetown and will soon be changing to a south westerly
heading,” muttered Axus, with distinctly less enthusiasm than an hour ago.
Over the course of the rest of the day, the dragon convoy followed the planned route and
made good time, with no extraordinary occurrences. Axus continued with the regular updates,
while some dragons in the room paid more attention than others; some closed their eyes and
meditated, while others, chiefly Osvaldo, left for short periods and then returned.
Once the convoy entered the trench at the Falkland Islands, the tension in the room
became apparent. Dragons shifted on stools, paced the room and held whispered
conversations with one another, betraying the nervousness everybody felt. Even Axus was
more agitated than George had ever seen him before, not being able to stand in one place for
more than two seconds and constantly berating the technicians flitting in and out of the room.
Only one person seemed unaffected by the tension and the pressure: the king. He sat on one
of the stools in the centre of the room looking like he didn’t have a care in the world: the
calm centre of a hurricane raging all around him.
“Majesty, the convoy are about five hundred miles out from the entrance to the cavern
and should be there in approximately one hour,” announced Axus. “The detention facility is
fully stocked with provisions and equipment for the criminals. It should just be a matter of
the guards releasing them from the harnesses and using the mantras to bring them round.
Once the mantras have been activated, it will take about five minutes for the fugitives to
recover completely. The first thing the captives in their human form will have to do is to set
up all the cold weather gear we left there, as they will not have the benefit of the protection
mantras, unlike the guards dropping them off. By that time the guards will be long gone and
the shaped charges will have been set off, trapping those remaining behind a permanent wall
of rock and ice.”
George knew the whole sorry episode was nearly at an end now, but as he looked around
the room at the different projections of the convoy on the different walls he couldn’t help but
pity those dragons being carried to their internment, to live the remainder of their lives in that
horrifying environment, so totally alien to all and any dragons. Even worse, to know that you
would end up dying there as well, with absolutely no chance of ever mating or reproducing at
all. A wave of sorrow washed over him and once again he thought of Troydenn and
wondered how it had all gone so horribly wrong.
Everybody in the room continued to watch the convoy moving towards their final
destination. As the minutes progressed, the images on the walls seemed to deteriorate,
sometimes becoming blurred, sometimes cutting out altogether for a few seconds at a time.
Axus was working even more frantically than he had been before, something that had to be
seen to be believed.
“What seems to be the problem, Axus?” asked the king, calmly.
“It’s the telepathic boosters, majesty. We’ve increased the power output on them all to as
much as they can handle, but the range is just too great. The cold may be having an effect as
well. The pictures will continue to break down I’m afraid, and there’s nothing more we can
do from here.”
“How long before the convoy reaches the cavern, Axus?” asked the king. Axus strode
over to the great map on the desk at the front of the room and began to study it carefully. As
he did so the projections on the walls around them began to cut out and flicker more
frequently. After a short period of time, Axus turned from the map to face the king, grinning
“They’re only a few minutes from the entrance, Majesty,” he said, sounding relieved.
The king nodded his head and everybody went back to focusing their attention on the
Although George could see the left and the right side projections out of the corner of his
eyes, he remained concentrated on the back wall and the view from the dragon flying far
behind the main convoy. It seemed that there was less interference with this projection,
maybe because it was further behind than the other images, making it easier to take in what
All of a sudden Axus pointed at the front projection and roared,
“There it is, the entrance to the cavern!”
Everyone in the room, even George, turned to look at the projection on the front wall.
Through the distortion and interference they could just make out the gaping entrance to the
detention facility, back-lit by the artificial light put in there for the captives’ benefit by Axus
and his team of engineers.
At that exact moment………….ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!!!!!!!!
It was difficult to tell quite how it started because of the poor quality of the images that
were being projected onto the walls, but the captives were all turning from their human form
(mutatio) to their dragon form (solitus). Everybody in the room looked slack-jawed and
stunned at this shocking turn of events: that is, everybody but the king and Osvaldo
Some of the prisoners had broken free of their harnesses and had turned back into their
dragon form while dropping towards the ground at great speeds. They could be seen heading
towards the ground as a human, dropping like a stone, only to transform on the way down
and swoop back up as a dragon, ready to join the fight. Others, however, were turning back
into their dragon form while still attached to the guards in their harnesses, bursting free and
taking their guards completely by surprise.
In every projection it was the same, dragon fighting dragon. Streams of flame spewed
from the mouths of the different dragons, looking like tiny candles high up in the cavern
entrance from the dragon projecting the images from furthest away. Dragons were headbutting, biting, and crashing each other into walls and stalactites, or using their talons to rip
through each other’s wings, sending their opponent spiralling to the icy cavern floor way
below. Some were also using their tails to deadly effect. In the middle of it all was the terrorinducing sight of the huge matt black dragon that was Troydenn going on an absolute
“Where are the closest reinforcements, Axus?” asked the king calmly, never taking his
eyes from the scene of carnage and mayhem before him.
“Not close enough I’m afraid, Majesty. The prisoners would easily be able to get back to
the Falkland Islands and escape in plenty of time before we could get any kind of force even
vaguely close,” Axus replied, shaking his head gloomily.
George noticed Osvaldo out of the corner of his left eye. Unlike everyone else in the
room who looked shocked or horrified at the turn of events, Osvaldo just
All of a sudden the projection on the left wall cut out totally. The operator at the desk on
that wall fell off his chair to the floor and in a panic-stricken way scrambled to remove his
headset, before letting out a blood-curdling scream and losing consciousness. Some of the
technicians watching the carnage rushed over to aid their colleague. A medic arrived within a
minute or so.
Everybody in the room could see what had happened from the images on the back wall.
There, through a crowd of dragons, flying, fighting and roaring fire at one another, in the
middle of the cavern entrance was a pale dragon with bright flecks up its back and tail. Its
long slender neck was being gradually crushed by the giant vice like jaws of Troydenn. The
two dragons hovered in mid air with the chaos ensuing all around them, long after the life had
left the pale dragon, which had been projecting images back for all to see. Drawing a gasp of
horror from all in the room, Troydenn’s gigantic jaws finally clasped together, totally
severing the poor dragon’s neck, and letting the two pieces of the body swirl to the darkness
at the bottom of the cavern. The dragon sending the images back that was furthest away from
the action, focused in on Troydenn. Flapping his massive matt black wings in mid air, he had
a crazed look in his eyes and a huge grin on his face.
In the monitoring room you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. In the stony silence
that followed, everybody looked towards the king. He stood and with his left forearm
smashed a vacant stool halfway across the room.
“ENOUGH!” bellowed the king. “Blow the explosive charges now!” he shouted across
Axus turned timidly towards the king.
“But Majesty, what about the guards? They’ll be trapped along with the prisoners,” he
With a look of absolute fury on his face, the king roared,
“DO YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW THAT THEY’LL BE TRAPPED AND LOST
FOREVER? THINK HOW MANY HUMANS AND DRAGONS ALIKE WILL BE
KILLED IF TROYDENN AND HIS FOLLOWERS ARE ALLOWED TO LEAVE
THAT PLACE. I COMMAND YOU TO BLOW ALL THE CHARGES AT ONCE.
As for me………I look after my two girls, and when they’re at school I’m a teaching assistant. When they’re not, I help them with their homework and school projects, and can often be found up to my neck in one of their lego kits, helping them out of course. I love playing hockey, and help coach kids, mine included. Other interests include reading, building computers, squash, cycling, great days out with my wonderful wife and kids, as well of course as WRITING!
Currently I’m working on the third instalment in the ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon’ series, entitled ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’.