A shadow passed across the setting sun and for a minute the world went dark. Jeff lay on his back and stared up with growing horror as the shape circled two hundred metres overhead, its green iridescent scales and razor-sharp wingtips glinting golden in the sunlight.
Talfyr, as designed in the Hello Kitty style of artist Adam Tupper. Not a true-to-life representation of the real Talfyr. He’s larger, with more teeth (Prints available for $10 on request)
This week we get to touch on the ever-fascinating subject of the Andvell dragons.
These creatures come in a variety of sizes, colours, and defenses determined by age, geographical factors, such as climate and terrain, and primary food source. Green, red, and blue are the most common colours in dragons under three thousand years old, but after a time, the colours fade. Older dragons appear either brown or grey.
Dragon attacks, though rare, are not unheard of in this world, although it might seem that way from how House Feldall reacts when Talfyr wakes up. The people don’t know what to do with the new threat, their fields and cattle scorched and stolen, not having had to deal with the situation for the last three hundred and fifty years.
We learn a bit about Feldall’s history with Talfyr in Evensong, when Brady explains the story in the tapestries (to be seen in week F), but the connection between Andvell and dragons predates even that.
In Eventide, Brady mentions the Dragonkin, which is the last time the dragon and human worlds collided to any extreme degree. Before those days, after so long without hearing from the dragons, the Andvellians believed they’d disappeared from the earth, and allowed them to fall into legend. As a result, fewer daring and adventurous heroes scaled the Nagan Mountains to slay the beasts and destroy the nests. This meant half a century of hatching eggs and growing dragonlings, all unbeknownst to the people below, until one day the creatures grew tired of their mountain fare and unleashed their boredom on the nearest fields, making it as far as the capital and destroying hundreds of towns and villages along the way.
King Allarion had no idea what to do. He sent his army to ride against them, but they had to retreat from the fiery blasts of a dozen young dragons. His best sorcerers gathered to create wards around the city, but all that achieved was to protect himself while leaving the rest of his people to bear the brunt of the dragons’ hunger.
For three months Andvell was under siege, the sorcerers and soldiers working slowly but steadily to take down the beasts who came too close. Dragon meat, though tough and mostly tasteless, became a popular dish as other meats became too expensive or difficult to acquire. Encouraged by the fact that they’d managed to slay so many of their enemy, more brave adventurers came out of retirement to hunt for glory, and the more of them that rode out, the faster the dragons perished. Soon, the sightings came every other day, and then once or twice a week instead of a few times a day, and hope rose that the siege would soon to be over.
One night as Allarion slept, he felt himself rise out of his body and travel towards the Nagan Mountains. Believing it to be a dream, he allowed the journey, amazed at the vivid details of the land below as he passed. It wasn’t until the darkness of the mountain swallowed him that he began to feel afraid. The space around him was vast, the smallest noises echoing, and, unable to see, he felt small. A whoosh of flame, a spark of light, and suddenly the room was aglow as the walls lit up with fire, and Allarion’s dream passed into nightmare.
Before him lazed a large brown dragon — larger than any he’d seen flying over his country. This one would have been too large to fly. It stared at him with golden eyes, the pupils slitted vertically, eyeing him with what Allarion could only call amusement.
His horror increased when the beast spoke, the words — perfectly comprehensible — falling into his head without being spoken. It introduced itself as Ixandris, the oldest of the Andvellian dragons, and among the world’s dragon elders. He had slept for a thousand years and only woke now because of the risk to the last of his children. He knew they had been rash and stupid in attacking the humans, and that, as they would only realise once the humans were gone, they needed the soft folk to survive. Now, instead of worrying they’ll starve to death, he has to worry they won’t live long enough for starving to be an issue. So he would like to negotiate.
Allarion was uncertain, accepting that he wasn’t in a dream, but actually present in some form in front of the dragon elder and having to make a decision that could potentially destroy his people. From the little he knew of dragon lore, he didn’t know if he could trust Ixandris’s words.
Ixandris assured him he expected nothing in return except for the Andvellians to leave his children alone. As thanks, he would ensure the same. He would scatter the nest, send them across the world to find new mountains, and Andvell would not be bothered as long as he lived. Although Allarion knew the solution couldn’t be a permanent one, he saw that it would give his people time to develop better defenses, so he agreed.
The elder dragon did die eventually, but by then, so many dragons had left the Nagan Mountains that Andvell remained safe from all but the most occasional attacks. Taflyr is one of the few to remain, and is old enough that he only wakes up every five hundred years to feed. Except, of course, when his sleep is interrupted by power hungry sorcerers…