Readers Gazette Short Stories


Short Story A Dragons Menhir

A Dragon's Menhir by Cheryl Matthynssens Fantasy short story

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Nate hit the cold dark marble floor as the two guards tossed him forward. His hands were bound behind him, so he was unable to catch himself. The throne room of Jesparian Nethandial was not a welcome place as he managed to pick his head up enough to look about. The pillars, the floor and even the walls were lined with the same black stone. The trimmings were all in blood red and the only brightness to the vast room was the crackling fire behind the dais.

Nate did not dare to pick up his head any higher to look upon that dais. The only sound was the rustling of the two guards, the crackling of the fire, and his own labored breathing. Fear made his heart pound as an additional sound was slowly added; a slow determined step. The sound of boots slowly making their steps down from the dais above him till at last he could see the toes of them shining in the torch light just inches from his face.

“Raise him up.” The command was curt and held no warmth.

Nate cried out as his hair was grabbed by one of the two guards and he was jerked to his knees. Despite being fully upright now, he kept his eyes down cast. He wanted to give this man no reason to cause any further harm to him.

“Look at me boy.”

Nate slowly raised his eyes up the black boots, the well-made leather pants, to the red vest, decorated in elaborate knot work of black. He could not bring himself to look into the eyes of King Jesparian.

“My men were sent to find a Lerdenian of pure blood. Tell me, boy, are you Lerdenian?” The King reached down and grabbed hold of Nate's chin to force him to look all the way up into the man's eyes.

“Y...Yes, your Grace.” Nate managed to force words through his dry mouth.

“Do you possess magic of one of the spheres?” Jesparian pressed as he let go of Nate's chin.

“I-I do. I share magics of nature's sphere.” Nate's words were barely audible beyond the King and the two men behind him.

“Green then. Excellent.” Jesparian began to pace back and forth in front of Nate. “Green, we have not found that before. Perhaps this time, a different sphere will work.”

Nate did not know what the King was speaking about but by his tone, it did not sound as if they would let him go home. He had been taken by the two guardsmen on his way home from fishing off the coastal rocks. That had been two days ago. His mother would be worried sick by now. Nate's thoughts were interrupted by the King's sudden question.

“Tell me of this Great Isle your people come from.” The King demanded.

“I-I was but a boy when we left, y...your Grace.” Nate stammered.

“Then tell me this, is it true that dragons fly freely upon your isle.” Jesparian stared at the lad. “That your people revere them as if they were magical beings from the Gods. Is this true?”

“Yes, your Grace.” Nate answered softly. “While they are hunted for their magics by those with greed for power, most still hold them in a place of reverence.”

“Hunted for their magics, how?” Jesparian demanded.

“I …” Nate did not want to tell this man the gifts that the dragons left. His mother was one of those that still held dragons in reverence.

The King's backhand caught him off guard as much as being dragged back to his knees by the guard behind him. He could taste blood in his mouth and his eye immediately began to swell. The King's hand had been gloved with metal.

“You will answer every question I have immediately or I will just have my men go find your parents.” The King's evil hiss reminded Nate of a snake. “Now, try again. Hunted how?”

“Their blood...,” Nate whispered. “Not their living blood, but blood set into the ground at their deaths. They create stones called bloodstones. A mage can drain the magics from these stones to enhance his powers or... gain new ones.” His heart pounded with fear and a pain shot through him as he saw the greed in Jesparian's eyes.

Jesparian grabbed Nate by the throat. “Tell me boy, how long must the blood bind in the ground before it can be used.”

“I-I do not know.” Nate closed his eyes for another blow.

“Can any mage pull these magics?”

The blow had not come. The King must have believed him. “No, only those with enough strength can empty a bloodstone. Neither my mother nor father was strong enough to do so. It is why we left the Isle. There is not much of a life for those that cannot use great magic.”

“What of warlocks?” The King circled him like a cat circling prey.

“I do not know. I … I do not think there are warlocks on the Great Isle.” Nate answered daring a look at the King. His hair was a dark red, left loose beneath an elaborate golden circlet. His eyes were a deep brown, barely discernible from their centers. What caught Nate the most was the malice that seemed to exude from the man. Those eyes seemed as if they bore no tenderness for anyone or anything.

The King tapped the toe of his boot a few times then turned and headed back up the dais. “Send a scout ship to map the coast of this isle. I want a detailed report on its size, defenses and most importantly, descriptions of any dragons spotted.”

Nate heard a man acknowledge the king then he heard steps walking away behind him.

The guard behind Nate spoke up. “What would you have us do with the boy, my Liege?”

The King turned as one foot hit the top of the dais and looked down at Nate. Their eyes met and Nate knew at that moment that he was not going home. “Chain him to the dragons' menhir. Assign someone to observe.”

Nate had no idea what a menhir was as they pulled him up and out of the throne room. The fact that it belonged to dragons made him long to turn and beg the King to kill him now. Dragons had long hated Lerdenians according to his mother. The second thing he remembered her saying was ... dragons had very long memories.

To see more of Cheryl Matthynssens work, click the link to her website or scroll down to the bottom of the page to view her member details Visit Cheryl Matthynssens Website.

Images used for the story are Visit Menhir El Cabezudo at wikimedia.com

Visit countryside twilight at pixabay.com

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Short Story written by Cheryl Matthynssens

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