Dog And Dragon – Snippet 01
Dog And Dragon
Meb/Scrap/Anghared The heroine of Dragon’s Ring, transported back to Lyonesse. A mage of power but no experience.
Finn/Fionn The black dragon, planomancer and trouble.
Díleas A black and white sheepdog of great intelligence and vast loyalty, whose name means “faithful.”
Mage Aberinn High Mage of Lyonesse.
Earl Alois Southern Earl of Carfon, Guardian of theSouthern Marches.
Prince Medraut Regent of Lyonesse.
King Geoph Last king of Lyonesse.
Queen Gwenhwyfach Last queen of Lyonesse.
Lady Cardun Chatelaine of Dun Tagoll.
Neve Tirewoman to Meb.
Lady Vivien Widow of Cormac, the late captain of the Royal Guard.
Lady Branwen Wife of Earl Alois, not of the House of Lyon.
Owain Alois and Branwen’s son.
Gwalach Second-in-command of the Army of the South.
Mortha Wudewasa wisewoman.
Sir Bertran A knight of Brocéliande.
Avram, Dravko, Mirko Travelers who trade between various planes.
Mitzi Avram’s dog, and Díleas’s light o’ love.
Back to the sunset bound of Lyonesse —
A land of old upheaven from the abyss
By fire, to sink into the abyss again;
Where fragments of forgotten peoples dwelt,
And the long mountains ended in a coast
Of ever‑shifting sand, and far away
The phantom circle of a moaning sea.
Idylls of the King, Tennyson
“Who are you?” hissed the lithe, dark-eyed man with the drawn sword.
Meb blinked at him. Her transition from the green forests of Arcady to this dark, stone-flagged hall, had been instantaneous. The stone walls were hung with displays of arms and the horns of stags. Otherwise there was not much to separate it from a cave or prison, with not as much as an arrow slit in the walls — let alone a window — to be seen in the stone embrasures.
In Tasmarin from whence she had come, she had known just who she was: Scrap, apprentice to the black dragon that destroyed of the worlds. You could call her anything else, but that was who she had been. Now…
“Cat got your tongue, wench?” he said quietly. “Well, no matter, I’ll have to kill you anyway.”
He swung the sword at her in a vicious arc.
Moments ago, before she’d made the choice that swept her magically from Tasmarin, from the green forest of Arcady, she’d thought she might be better off dead rather than leaving them behind. Leaving him behind.
Now she discovered that her body didn’t want to die just yet. She threw herself backwards, not caring where she landed, as long as it was out of reach of the sword.
She screamed. And then swore as the blade shaved across her arm to thud into the kist she had fallen over. She kicked out, hard, catching her attacker in the midriff, knocking the breath out of him in an explosive gasp. Trying to find breath, he still pulled weakly at the sword now a good two-finger-widths deep into the polished timber of the kist. Meb wasn’t going to wait.
But it looked as if she wasn’t going to run very far either. Her scream, and possibly the swearing, had called others and they burst in, flinging the great iron studded doors open. Men-at-arms with bright swords and scale armor rushed in.
As she turned to run the other way, her passage there was blocked by a sleepy-looking man — also with a sword, emerging from the only other doorway.
There wasn’t a window to be seen.
She wanted one, badly.
And then she saw one, just in the embrasure to her left. She just plainly hadn’t spotted it before.
She ran to it, and realized it wasn’t going to help much. In the moonlight she could see that it opened onto a hundred feet of jagged cliff, to an angry sea, frothing around sharp rock teeth far below.
Some of the soldiers surrounded the man she’d kicked. They’d blocked her escape too, but you couldn’t really call it surrounding her. Not unless that included “getting as far from her as possible, while not leaving the other prisoner, or the room.”
The man who had looked so sleepy moments before didn’t anymore. His sword was up, ready, his eyes wide as they darted from the window to her, seemingly unsure which was more shocking.
“Who are you?” he asked.
There was something weaselly about him that made her very wary about answering, in case her words were twisted against her.
And why did they all want to know something she wasn’t too sure of herself?
There was a narrow bridge across the void. Along it walked a black and white sheepdog, followed by a black dragon. The dog never looked back at the dragon, just forward, his questing written into every line of his body, from the mobile pointed ears, to the feathered tail.
The bridge itself was narrow — made of vast, interlocking blocks of adamantine — or at least that is the way it looked. Reality might be somewhat different, at least to the eyes of a planomancer. Such eyes would see deeper than the ordinary spectra of light, and could see patterns energy. Fionn, the black dragon, saw it all as the weave of magics that made the bridge between the planes of existence. He knew the bridge was fragile and fraught with danger. That did not stop him walking along it, any more than it stopped Díleas the sheepdog.
The bridge was barely two cubits wide and had no rail. Far, far below seethed the tumult of primal chaos. The only way the dog could go was straight ahead. He kept looking left though.
That was where he wanted to go. Sometimes he would raise his nose and sniff.
Fionn knew there was nothing to smell out here. The air that surrounded the bridge was drawn and melded by the magics of it, from the raw chaos. It was new air, and Fionn knew that it did not exist a few paces behind them, or a few paces ahead.
He was still sure Díleas was following the faint trail of something. A something which even a very clever dog could best understand as scent…even if there was nothing to smell.
At least he hoped that was the case.
Hoped with ever fiber of his very ancient being.
Fionn had long since given up on caring too much. He was not immortal, as far as he knew. He could certainly be killed. But compared to others, even of his own kind, the black dragon was long-lived. Time passed, and so did friends. His work was never done, fixing the balance, keeping the planes stable. He moved on.
He’d been hated. He’d been worshiped, though it irritated him. He’d been laughed at and reviled. He’d been feared.
He’d even been loved.
He had never loved before, though.
The black and white sheepdog was more experienced at love than the dragon, and he was a young dog still, maybe eight months old. Barely more than a pup. But Díleas — whose name was “faithful” in an old tongue, long forgotten by most men — would go to the ends of the world for her, and beyond, as they were now. His mistress was his all and he would search for her until he died, or he found her.
Fionn knew that he’d do the same. His Scrap, his inept apprentice, had been plucked from them by magic. Her own magic and her own choice, made freely for them, and for Tasmarin, the place of dragons. Fionn knew, however, that it had cost her dearly. For him, left here without her, it was a worthless sacrifice.