The Dragon's Embrace

book one of the chronicles of perennea

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A Novel by K.A. Dreelin

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"A story is beginning, a story will unfold,

Starting with the shedding of the blood of old,

Starting with the opening of the black-bound book,

Starting with the road which the travelers took,

Starting with the armies of the dragon king,.

Starting with the fire that destroyed everything,

Starting with the first footfalls so shall the story begin,

The past is repeating, repeating again and again."

- The Oracle of Andrëa-Daviis

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Prologue

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The battle was hopeless, the small party of hired soldiers could tell that much. Already more than half their number lay dead, and the few who struggled to hold their lines were falling like flies. The trolls fought viciously, hacking and slashing as though mad. The mercenaries desperately fought them off, their swords glinting in the setting desert sun as it sank beneath the dunes on all sides of them.

The youngest soldier there appeared hardly twenty, his brown hair falling against his jaw. The young elf coughed, his lungs choked by smoke and dust and the reek of fresh blood, but despite his watering eyes he hauled himself to his feet, wielding his blade as he had done so many times before. He was paid to do this, to fight battles that others found difficult. A troll came at him and he sent it away screaming, its left arm severed.

The soldier, who was called Dart, threw his head back, letting a battle-cry escape his lips. He charged forward, not caring that there were several dozen more trolls than there were soldiers in his regiment. He felt his sword slice through flesh, unfamiliar troll flesh that screamed as it died. The young mercenary was a navy blue and white blur, the standard tunic he wore stained with crimson, letting his blade kill again and again. He dragged his sword through the sinewy neck of a nearby troll, whirling to completely behead a second. He narrowly parried a blow from another, the troll's serrated blade slicing into his shoulder. A wound, but not a deep one. Dart shouted in pain and rage, swiftly killing the troll that dared to strike. The mercenary felt something hard slam into the back of his skull, the iron gauntlet of a traitor soldier. Sinking to his knees, darkness begged at the corners of his vision, but he fought it as he weakly looked up at the man who had hit him.

"Captain Shanath…?" Quite suddenly he felt everything going black as he crumpled to the ground, his thought and his anger and his pain fading into an oddly soothing black as he went unconscious.

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