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       Dark Wyng, p.1

           Chris D'Lacey
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Dark Wyng

  For Sarah Leonard
























































  GABRIAL a young dragon, just nine Ki:meran turns old. Referred to as a “blue” because of his overall color pattern. His impulsive nature often frustrates his mentors and superiors, even though he has proved himself in battle. Guardian to Grendel and the two wearlings Gariffred and Gayl.

  GALLEN commander of the feared wyng of fighting dragons known as the Veng. Like all Veng, his coloring is an unmistakable bright green.

  GANNET a good-natured roamer.

  GARIFFRED a precocious blue wearling. His choice of name is controversial because it means “flame of truth,” implying he is closer to Godith than other dragons.

  GARODOR a highly intelligent member of the De:allus class, sent to Erth to research and assess the situation after the devastating battles with the goyles.

  GARON Gabrial’s father and a member of the Wearle that came to Erth before Gabrial’s colony arrived. Believed to have perished in the first goyle conflicts.

  GARRET a talented mapper, thought to be the best in the Wearle.

  GAYL a female wearling and Gariffred’s sibling. Gayl is fragile and underdeveloped, but extremely sensitive to the world around her.

  GIVNAY a disgraced Elder, now dead, who almost destroyed the Wearle when seeking to manipulate the dangerous effects of fhosforent.

  GOODLE the only other mature blue (besides Gabrial) in the colony.

  GOSSANA an aging and fearsome queen (and Elder) with an overinflated opinion of herself. Dark green, with eyes that can change color according to her moods.

  GRAYMERE a brilliant dragon of the De:allus class, who tragically lost his life during the goyle conflicts.

  GRENDEL a young, beautiful female with touches of gold in her purple coloring. Along with Gabrial, she has taken on the task of adopting and raising Gariffred and Gayl after their mother, Grystina, was killed.

  GRENDISAR a historical De:allus whose theories about the legend of Graven once caused much controversy among the superior ranks of dragons on Ki:mera.

  (PER) GROGAN once a mentor to Gabrial. A wretched casualty of the goyle attacks, his shocking death has long-lasting reverberations for the Wearle.

  GRYMRIC herbalist, potion maker, and a studious practitioner of the healing arts. His role is to gather up Erth’s flora and fauna and assess the benefits of what he finds.

  (PRIME) GRYNT a tough, no-nonsense Elder with a streak of armored silver on his throat and breast, which stands out against his overall light purple colors. Grynt is responsible for the security of the Wearle and is the supreme commander of the Veng.

  GRYSTINA mother of Gariffred and Gayl, who tragically lost her life when those wearlings were barely out of their eggs. Due to her powerful gift of transference, her spirit now resides in and guides the Hom boy, Ren.

  GUS a lumbering, gentle giant of a roamer, blessed with a kind and thoughtful disposition. His one desire is to serve his Wearle faithfully and well.


  REN WHITEHAIR a young lad of twelve winters with hair lighter than the color of corn. After being bitten by Gariffred, Ren has formed a close association with the wearling and is rapidly learning the ways of dragons, a fact that does not sit well with the men of the Kaal or the dragon high command.

  BRYNDLE WOODKNOT brusque father of Rolan Woodknot. Bryndle takes care of the tribe’s whinneys. An injury sustained during childhood prevents him from being involved in any fighting.

  COB WHEELER a loud, brutish man, who only becomes the leader of the Kaal because so many other, worthier, men have died.

  EVON TREADER the widow of Waylen Treader. Evon is deep in mourning for her husband and believes his spirit is around her still.

  MELL Ren’s mother. A loving soul, also recently widowed, who is not afraid to speak her mind or stand up for her rights.

  MERRILYN WIDEFOOT wife of the one-eyed Oleg Widefoot.

  NED WHITEHAIR Ren’s father. A brave man who, like many of his people, was lost in the fight to regain the Kaal’s mountain territories from the dragons.

  OAK LONGARM one of a small party of men who died trying to raise the darkeyes against the dragons.

  OLEG WIDEFOOT so named because his feet, when together, do not point straight. A good bowman.

  PINE ONETOOTH a girl who has just one tooth in the middle of her mouth. Pine “wafts around the settlement like a leaf on the breeze.” She is thought to be simple and is generally ignored, until she decides to join Ty in his quest.

  ROLAN WOODKNOT a young man, not much older than Ren, who is considered to be wise beyond his years. He is catapulted into a dangerous quest by virtue of the fact that he is one of the few strong men still alive among the Kaal.

  TARGEN THE OLD the aged, and now dead, spiritual leader of the Kaal.

  THE FATHERS the spirits of the (Kaal) dead.

  TY a stranger who comes to the settlement apparently out of nowhere. His confident manner and magical ways soon win over the Kaal, though his eyes always harbor the threat of darkness.

  VARL REDNOSE a gruff character, who was not dissimilar to Cob Wheeler in attitude. Killed in the skaler battles.

  WAYLEN TREADER a farmer, famed for killing a dragon with an arrow to its eye. Waylen is another casualty of the battles, though his wife, Evon, insists that his spirit has not gone to rest with the Fathers …


  GODITH a female deity who, according to dragon legend, created the world from a single breath of flame and afterward made all dragons in Her i:mage.

  GOYLES (OR DARKEYES) dark, grotesque creatures with a remorseless taste for killing.

  GRAVEN AND G’RESTYN the two fabled sons of Godith, who allegedly fell out in a spat of jealousy, which ended with G’restyn dying and Graven’s third heart being ripped from his chest by his grieving mother. Superstitious dragons have always believed that Graven will rise again one day and take his revenge on all dragonkind.

  SHADE a female whinney with a spiraling horn growing from the center of her forehead. She possesses magical gifts, the most notable being the ability to vanish into thin air. She is ridden by Ty, but seems to have little affinity with him.

  THE TREEMEN a tribe of people that inhabits the Whispering Forest.

  TYWYLL another name for the black dragon that Graven became—just one part of G
odith’s punishment for killing his brother.

  In the homing caves of Mount Vidor

  On the dragon world, Ki:mera, nine turns ago

  “Tada, tell me a story.”

  Garon snorted softly and rasped his tongue over a run of fine scales around Gabrial’s ears. It was late and the pale yellow moon, Cantorus, was throwing its golden light all across the homing caves. A good night for hunting, Garon thought, but equally good for telling stories. “What kind of story shall it be?” he asked.

  “One you haven’t told before,” said Gabrial. “Tell me about … the black dragon.”

  Garon stretched his neck and glanced across the cave at his partner, Gaverne. She was fast asleep, her fine purple head tucked under one wing. Gabrial’s sister, Graile, was curled up beside her, snoring softly. “There is no such thing as a black dragon, Gabrial. Whatever you have heard from other wearlings is a myth. We can have black markings—you have some on your wing tips and tail—but no dragon can be completely black.”

  “Why not?”

  “Godith forbids it.”

  “Doesn’t She like black dragons?”



  That word again, Garon thought, the one that Gabrial used like a hook to draw all worldly truths out of him. Was he this inquisitive when he was a wearling? Possibly so. He licked Gabrial’s ears again. Sooner or later, the drake would come to hear this story, so why not now? It was the right of every dragon to understand their beginnings, to know what was—and what might have been. “Very well, but don’t expect to sleep tonight.”

  “Mama says I sleep too much.”

  “Hmm. And Mama will growl if she hears me telling you a tale like this. So this is for your blue ears only, yes?”

  “Yes, Tada.”

  “Good. Then this is how it begins—at the very beginning. You know that Godith created Ki:mera and all the worlds beyond from Her fire?”

  “Yes. Hrrr!”

  “Shh! Don’t wake your sister.” Garon glanced at the females again. Gaverne would roast his stigs to points if the wearmyss was woken for no good reason. Quietly he said, “You know, as well, that Godith created dragons in Her i:mage?”

  “Like me?” Gabrial gave a swish of his tail.

  His father immediately trapped it under his.

  “Like you and Graile, like the Veng and the De:allus and the Elders and the Prime. Like every class of dragon you can think of. We are all one in the eyes of Godith. But there was once a dragon who defied Her will. His name was Graven. He was Godith’s firstborn.”

  “And he was black?”

  “Not in the beginning, no. When he was created his scales shined gold.”

  A little breath of wonder seeped out of Gabrial’s spiracles.

  “Brighter and deeper than Cantorus, they shined. So pleased was Godith that She said to Her son, ‘I give this moon, Cantorus, to you. There you shall build your eyries and make more dragons in your i:mage.’”

  Gabrial’s mouth fell open in awe. His primary teeth, perfect and white, glinted in the moonlight like a row of small mountains. “Graven made gold wearlings?”

  “No. Keep listening. As you can imagine, Graven was pleased with his gift. Here he was, the first son of Godith, and he had a whole moon to himself. He bowed to Godith and pledged his love to Her always.”

  “Hrrr!” went Gabrial.

  Garon opened his foreclaws and used them to gently close his son’s mouth. “Quite. And so Graven flew to Cantorus, there to explore his new surroundings. He was pleased with what he found. One day you and I will fly to Cantorus and you will see its giant mountain ranges, and the rivers and fire beds that flow through them. But for now, just listen, don’t hurr, yes?”

  Gabrial nodded.

  Garon eased his claws. “Now, if you’ve been watching the night skies, you will know that another moon rises in front of Cantorus sometimes.”

  “Crune,” said Gabrial, eager to show his knowledge.

  “Yes. Well done. I can see you’ve listened well to the teachings of per Grogan.”

  Gabrial twisted his snout.

  “What was that for?”

  “What, Tada?”

  “I didn’t miss that snouty twitch. What’s the matter? Don’t you like per Grogan?”

  “He’s mean, Tada. Every time he roars at me he says it makes another wrinkle in his eye ridges. He said his body was as green as the Marad Valley once and that it’s wearlings like me who turned his head scales gray. He says he bit off his third claw because a drake he was teaching couldn’t tell the difference between a rock and a hard place!”

  Garon snorted a smoke ring from his nostrils.

  “He did, Tada!”

  “He did not,” said Garon. “He lost his claw in a battle. He’s teasing you, Gabrial. Per Grogan cares for your welfare. He is a good and wise mentor who will always stand by you. You must listen to him. He can teach you the history of your family line and more. Now, where were we with our story?”

  “On Crune.”

  “Oh, yes. Now, Crune glows blue, like you of course. Godith gave this moon to Her second son, G’restyn.”

  “She had two sons?”

  “Hmm. What do you think about that?”

  “Per Grogan says a mama can only have a myss and a drake.”

  “That’s right. She can.”

  “But you said Godith had two sons, Tada.”

  “Patience, Gabrial. We’re not finished yet.” He blew smoke into Gabrial’s ear, making the wearling snort and wiggle. “Graven was happy with this arrangement because Cantorus was bigger than Crune and as the firstborn son he felt it was his right to be … better than his brother. But of course there came a time when Crune rose up and cast its shadow over Cantorus. Not only that, it blocked Graven’s view of the center of Ki:mera, where Godith had Her settle.

  “Graven was furious. His fire sacs ignited and his claws extended as far as they would go. He flew to Crune and demanded that G’restyn hurr on his moon and move it to a different orbit. Both dragons were very large. They could move planets with a single breath. But G’restyn refused to do it. He said the orbits were made by Godith and no dragon had the right to change Her plan.

  “Well, they roared at each other until they both grew tired and grumpy. Graven flew back to Cantorus, and G’restyn stayed on Crune. But Graven could not rest and his anger would not settle. And so he came up with a plan. The next day, when Crune had risen to its peak and was casting even bigger shadows over Cantorus, Graven focused his optical triggers on his brother and waited and watched. Eventually, he saw G’restyn lift away from the surface and disappear around the far side of the moon. When G’restyn did not reappear, Graven flew down to Crune and positioned himself to one side of it, the side that his brother had left abandoned.”

  “He’s going to hurr on it himself,” said Gabrial. “Tada, this isn’t very scary.”

  “It will be,” said Garon. “Graven took a breath so huge and blew a wind so strong it could have made the mountains bend. Crune began to move. But it did not change orbit as Graven had intended. Instead, it began to spin. And spin. And spin. And spin.

  “Graven was annoyed. He tried hitting the moon with his tail, but that nearly broke off his isoscele.”

  Gabrial twitched his tail. He checked his own isoscele, just in case.

  His father went on. “So, instead he did something very foolish: He tried to move the moon with his fire.”

  “Did it burn?”

  “Yes; that’s why to this day you’ll see dark craters on Crune. Those are the scorch marks Graven created. But it wasn’t just the moon that burned. G’restyn was asleep on the surface. He was big, but he was blue, just like you and me, and Graven didn’t see him. Only when G’restyn took to the air in a blaze of wings did Graven realize what he’d done. He had flamed his only brother.”


  “Poor G’restyn fell back to the surface, dead.”

  A flutter ran down Gabrial’s wings.
The fine scales on his neck began to clink.

  His father rested an arm to calm him. “I told you it was scary. Perhaps that’s enough.”

  “No,” said Gabrial. “What about Godith? What did She do, Tada?”

  Garon sighed, but hid the sound well enough. He remembered pausing like this when he was young and had first heard the tale. How the icicles of terror had crept under his scales and made gritty bobbles of the flesh underneath. He looked out at Cantorus and offered Godith a silent prayer before he continued. “Godith heard G’restyn’s squeals as he burned, and came to see what had happened. She found his body and wept so freely that storms blew up all over Her universe. She saw the scorch marks on Crune and knew what had happened. She flew to Cantorus, there to punish Graven for his wild act of jealousy. Some say She planned to kill him, to tear off his wings and burn him as he had burned G’restyn. She found Graven quaking, weeping at his foolishness. He begged Her to be merciful. And in some small way She was. She decreed three laws: First, no dragon could ever give birth to two sons; second, gold could never be a dominant color; and lastly, and most mysteriously, no dragon would ever be able to flame any dragon it was related to.”

  “So I can’t flame Graile?”

  “Definitely not. The pers will tell you these are good laws, but you must know they rose from a moment of sadness. For Graven, the sadness did not end there. Godith used a cold flame on his scales to suck the color out of them. That beautiful shining gold She’d created was reduced to nothing, to black. Her flame was so strong it opened Graven’s chest and exposed his three hearts. Godith reached in and tore out the smallest, the one that keeps us closest to Her.”

  Gabrial shuddered from his nostrils to his isoscele. He crossed his forearms over his breast, where his primary heart was thumping like thunder.

  His father went on, “You might hear it said that Graven was born without a third heart and that this is what led to his vanity and foolishness. But that will come from the mouths of those who want to believe Godith has no fury. Understand me when I tell you, Gabrial: Godith is a loving but vengeful Creator. She punished Graven severely. In Her claws, his third heart turned to stone. She crushed it into a thousand pieces and scattered the fragments in a hiding place known only to Her. It’s said that his blood poured out of the heart like scalding rain and killed every living thing it landed upon. Graven was never seen again. Yet the legends insist his auma survives because his grieving mama could not bear to destroy it. This has led some Elders to teach that Graven will rise again one day. They say that even now the fragments of his auma reach out into the universe in search of the evil that will help him restore his heart and his power.”

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