Lights of Dragomar
Dragomar, the ancient name of the mountain, which also gave its name to the island from which it arose, was not the highest mountain in Antarctica, and it was not covered with a top coat of ice as the other distinctive ground masses. Its craggy, wrinkle-ridged, silvery walls rose like an immense, outstretched claw from the Antarctic Ocean to the sky, knowing it was unprecedented. Dragomar was part of a higher meaningful understanding for millennia: a fortress and beauty for the citizens and the region. A forgotten culture that perished because of natural circumstances and wars. Many legends termed the island and the beings who resided there. The imagination of the individuals telling the stories was growing the legends and myths. The essential content was similar. The dragons of the ice had set up cultures and had already disappeared a long time ago before the self-initialized downfall of their successors.
One of these legends, the oldest of all, was ‘Dragomar Gnorth’. It originated from such a timeworn idea that there was no uniform interpretation. It was a legend of dragons, magic and murder, of rituals and power. The Song of Dragons solely was a short, almost complete series of verses.
Abandoned by honor
the magic in shell
waiting for one
who is stronger than spell.
The magical forces
in the one who withstands
the ultimate sources
beyond life and all ends.
The magical peak
as his only last sword
protecting the weak
and healing the world.
For freedom and peace
in full human scope
no selfish disease
the value of hope.
There were also heroes in the fragments of historical lore. One place: Dragomar, where different cultures had their heydays and downfalls many millennia later. The whole truth about Dragomar was kept secret by a few of the later eras. Their knowledge had disappeared with them. They lived in the age of masters, the golden age, which lasted for five thousand years and whose heydays was only a hundred years ago. The empire was destroyed at the height of its beauty, and the survivors fled. That’s what was said. There were many stories from that time and some rare documents from the ruined library. Legends and myths also existed from that time.
The age of masters, despite all the earthly and explainable stories, was an age of wizardry. Magic was practiced for the benefit of the community. It was part of everyday life, and unexplainable things in the stories passed down. These were stories of wealth, nobility, sorcery and epical battles narrated by creative individuals. After the empire’s fall, Antarctica’s inhabitants avoided entering the island. They believed there was a curse on the island and that anyone who traveled there would bring their own downfall. The stories of the past seemed to be bigger than history, but nobody knew the truth, and the tremendous stories got fed with exaggeration and flourish decoration.
For several decades, it was said, Dragomar was inhabited again. There was talk of ‘madmen’, of death-defying ‘adventurers,’ of ‘breakers’ whom no one wanted. In fact, some fought and worked for peace and beauty of the former days. Few were in Dragomar before, in recent glorious days. Nobody knew how old they were. They were legendary, although recognized by nobody. They were on Dragomar to finish their work, to leave in peace. For the continuation, following generations would be in charge.
Eremides and Galbohei stood six thousand feet above the abyss on a terrace, on the mountain that was crisscrossed with caves and tunnels. They watched the evening sky, whose light was reflected in thousandfold form, on the Antarctic Ocean wave crests and the karstic ice floes that had been pushed over each other in the many storms after the pristine surface had broken in the swell, in a recurring cycle of creation and destruction that takes many generations to understand the rhythm and the inevitable.
“It’s impressive every time, isn’t it?”
“True, in constant change. Like life, captured in a soothing image of moving light, escaping the captivity of the moment in a breath.”
“Gentle and powerful. That’s the style I would paint hope.” Galbohei took a breath, heavy with thought, holding the moment. With a reverse sigh, he inhaled before Eremides replied.
“Hope? It is a dangerous companion as long as formable opportunities are remaining unused. Persisting in hope?—For whatever or whomever?” Eremides was attentive as an aged rooster. Too often, brief signals of whatever lead to individual game-changing inspirations with just one cause, to get out of a difficult situation.
“Something that gives us strength to continue. A ray of hope. A comfort.” Galbohei tried to take the glow in the sky as a sign. The light, serving in its own cause. Spellbound, he followed with his eye the light tails, which produced new floating images.
“It’s just the green weather glow in the night sky,” said Eremides. “It doesn’t last long. You can’t hold on to it. Small particles have no use for us. It doesn’t help you except in the dark.”
Eremides would have liked to enjoy the spectacle in the sky. The thoughts of past and future battles were destroying the selfless beauty and volatility of the moment.
“Do you hope for peace or for victory?” Galbohei recalled all the conflicts of previous times and the harshness of their enemies. “Can there be peace except that we win? Probably not. Is it possible to get an arrangement of honor?”
“We must accept that hope for peace alone would be our destruction,” Eremides said without betting on the lives of many who rely on his opinion.
“You mentioned it. Our enemies do not wish peace. Only we can prevent their greed and delusion from subjugating us all. They know neither principles of existence side by side nor caring for each other. Take comfort, Galbohei. We have dealt with other problems in days long past. During the years that bind you and me, we have had times of harmony and storm.”
“It’s hopeless. Our backs are against the wall. The burden of the past seems to wait for the present and future burdens. We can only hope—or we could flee. How about destroying everything we have created ourselves so as not to further strengthen our enemies? We could again go underground to prepare a later uprising—or we could wait—hidden and camouflaged.”
“Wait? Waiting for what? Destroying even though we are building? Poisoning the source that belongs to everyone? Escape? Where to?” Eremides did not expect Galbohei to answer a single question. He would question everything. He stood for his whole life as a brave fighter for good. Galbohei lived with the warrior in himself, and nothing would change that.
“We could try to recruit like-minded people to our cause then.” The battles of the past had smashed every bone of Galbohei’s body. There should not be another false victory. He thought about retiring and spending his old age at a place he wouldn’t need to defend.
“‘Hopeless’ is a definite word for a situation we can still shape. The wall you speak of at our backs is not a blocked escape route. It is the wall that holds us,” Eremides said. He stroked the rugged rock of the mountain with his flipper, like a faithful horse, to encourage it to reach the next stage of the journey.
“People throw themselves all over the world. I don’t like them—not anymore,” Galbohei said.
“It’s true! Nothing has changed. We didn’t have peace from them.”
They glanced at each other. Both pulled their shoulders, turned their beaks forward again, and laughed. For a moment, the weight on their backs was meaningless.
“Galbohei, please remember! Humans are also part of the entity. You experienced better than me.”
“Hear, hear! There speaks the wise and revered king of days gone by, who lets himself be called Eremides,” said Galbohei with a broad, all-too-human grin.
“If I called you now ‘Fnordakyr, Gatt pertyrp! Akyr dzotb Akyr!’ you’d have quite a feared shiver under your penguin coat—then it would all come back up,” Galbohei said to get his friend out of comfort coverage. The move wasn’t bad because both were not getting younger. They needed these conversations to keep a level of mutual understanding, even if it could hurt one or both. One emotional step in the wrong direction could cause the downfall of all.
Eremides did not respond. The ancient tributes had no meaning for him. Never had. He never feared nor thought about his personal diminishment; he never valued an idiomatic approach and no matter how old and chess he would become, Eremides would never give in to the vanity of abandoning his convictions by basking in the light of cheap recognition. Eremides had fought for the abolition of special rights, although he attained the highest prominence in the golden age. It catalyzed that those who were eager to upgrade took a step in a dirty war that ended in their all downfall. He was intending to rebuild the past with all its structures. Eremides did what he always did. He continued to cling to the responsible usage of power, no matter who held it—in what environment or by what chance it sprang.
They stood again in silence and watched the colors of light in the night sky and listened to the wind and the occasional cracking of ice floes piled up on each other in the icy sea in front of them. Waves thundered on the rocks. The monstrous sound reached the top of the mountain as a reduced soft murmur. The fresh smell of the sea accompanied the symphony of mind-blowing forces in a balanced arrangement.
“Will we win?” Galbohei asked, without taking his eyes off the sky glare.
“We are in advantage,” Eremides replied. “We appreciate freedom’s values and don’t demand to lose it. We feel friendship and cannot give it up. We learned to love and desire to continue to love. We are most dangerous, like a loving and caring mother.—And we are not alone. Not only because others became part of our identity. At least the few connected to us feel the same. Freedom is the core unit for respectful decisions. Friendship is the potential for trust and development. Love is the unbeatable force to achieve the impossible for others and best for all.”
“Many are working against. Well, love, friendship and freedom might be unspellable there. I’m more in countable values. They are more. They are better armed. They have an uncatchable advantage on shore. They love trouble.—And they use magic. I do not know the current power and abilities of them. “Since you can only express it in probabilities, anyway. Not only guessing, related to the future, but also the current status. There are many characteristics and they cannot be represented correctly at the same time. It is always about decisions what you measure and value.“
“Okay. We travel to Crataomorph and explain your theory. Your flipper in my wing. We could dance to the words ‘peace’ and ‘love’ in the innocent snow, later drizzled and soaked by our blood. Our audience will get outraged by our first and last diplomatic performance.”
“Better listen, my friend. It is not about abstract values, it is about the chance of free decisions within the limits of scratching the spheres of others. Our enemies are doing more than causing disappointments. When they attack, we will have to clean the sea from them. The harder they come, the harder we go is a rule that got aged. War should not be used as a happening of trial how far one can go. You should not count thousand victims and killing ten thousand as reaction on the other side after. There is no contact, no relations, not a single leverage to make them understand before that this will not be business as usual after. I do not feel pity for their people. Their individual duty is to stand up now against their ‘heroic’ warlords. Today’s applauders cannot play tomorrow’s own victims of wrong information or oppressive government. It’s not a good idea to use war as a trial of greatness and dancing the swan then for compassion. We will all have lost something.—By the way, your dancing is terrible. Ask your wife. Uncatchable? You would never have accepted that term in the past. You would have bitten off your tongue instead. We’re getting ready, and we’re getting more. This is not the time for precipitous actions of any kind.”
“And when their wizardry becomes even greater? Our old power is extinguished forever. Almost nothing remained of the intensity. I could spit!”
“A little magic can do more than brute force. Nothing has been decided yet. We don’t know what could bring it back. It could be everything. A sign of the future or a sign of the power and beauty of an almost forgotten past.”
“You count on Eccintes?” Galbohei asked, showing no emotional movements. He also hoped that a new generation would bring in fresh momentum. But he expected they fetched the bridge to the past.
“Eccintes is the name his mother gave the egg before she died.” Eremides cleared his throat as if to shake off something so close to him he had to get rid of it to protect it.
“He is my flesh and blood. My grandson. The son of my daughter, whom I loved; the son of my son-in-law, whose decency was above all. Eccintes is still young. Nobody knows his path or upcoming abilities. He is far away from here. Safe—at least for now. It would be foolish to put all our hopes on a young penguin.—No, my old companion, we must take this one last time in our own flippers and wings. Call it our legacy to those who will follow us to preserve it all.” Eremides turned his head to the side. He looked at the magnificent, scarred albatross, which had lost an eye in a previous battle. Eremides’s eyes sparkled like the moving glint of the evening sun on the ocean’s crests. He had lowered his beak and looked into his friend’s face, over the frame of his glasses, and smiled. A delicate white flame appeared in Eremides’ flipper with a quick movement from the flipper. He stretched it aloft, illuminating Galbohei’s face, and extinguished the fire as he had made it appear.
“Your eye socket has healed well.”
“About time. After seventeen years, despite the blue sponges. When I was young. It would have taken two hours. We’re getting on in years,” Galbohei remarked. His age remained his best argument for no longer wanting to fight back, but to claim his right to rest.
“How is your son? He should be almost grown up. He hasn’t been on the island for a while,” asked Eremides, although he knew better.
Galbohei’s son was already a representative of the young generation that worked and fought for the common goal. Eremides lied to bring his friend to other thoughts, which had nothing to do with age and war but an unwritten future.
“Grown up? Tall. He’s grown. Taller than me but underweight.” Laughing, he flapped his wing at his rotund tank. “He travels a lot. A true long-distance aviator—like I used to be until I met his mother. I do not see him often. Once he is here, he does something with his friends, he says. When I ask him what he does all day, he tells me he flies a lot, eats outside, and doesn’t want us to wait for him for dinner. I could assume he has a job with overtime and night shifts. He’s a good boy and, as the family’s baby, his mother’s favorite. This year he plans to start a family. He has no girlfriend yet, I think. His mother might know more, but they are keeping tight.”
“Yes, yes. It goes on and on and on. What was destroyed is rebuilt, waiting for the next impact, and even in the most sorrowful times, there are moments of happiness.”
“Losing a wife and children is wrong,” Galbohei said, closing the watchful eye he had left. “I met my Galboheia much later. This was the fortune. My son hasn’t seen war. I hoped it would remain that way. If you and I had our old magic forces, we could handle the enemy as we like. We would have the wishless and stressless bunch of opportunities—from talking to equalizing.”
Galbohei snapped open his beak and breathed out a white mist. Then a following powerful jet of water shot out, froze in the fog as hundreds of tiny icicles, smashing against the rock wall. “This is ridiculous!” he grumbled. “I might as well conjure a seagull out of the crown. Somehow it’s humiliating what we’ve become.”
“If we got our old forces back, it would be the same with our enemy and we all would stand in firestorms at the gates of final actions. We must be careful not to destroy everything again,” Eremides said.
“Defeat is defeat. I would take the risk,” the old daredevil Galbohei bet.
“I’m going back inside. Señor Machete wanted to discuss something with me in the library. Are you still doing your evening rounds?”
“Like every night. When it’s dark, I can see fire and flashes better. It’s been quiet the last few weeks,” Galbohei explained. “Maybe they changed their minds, and there comes no attack.”
“They will attack! No need to gloss over something inescapable. But they are still inferior to us here in the mountain—and they know that. Good night, my friend.”
“Good night, Eremides,” said the albatross. “Watch out for Machete. He has a nasty cold and is in a bad mood.”
“When isn’t he? He hasn’t gotten used to the climate in all these years. How could he? It depresses him even if he enjoys being a librarian. There are always people around him, but he’s lonely. Have you seen him skating?”
“I will not pass that up. It’s great. Every Friday, at orchestra rehearsal, I watch it. He dances on the ice like nothing is around him, no past or future. There is only the moment for him and those who watch him dance.—But that has nothing to do with his sniffles. Eremides, I forewarned you. There’s a flu coming on. No doubt about it: Machete will get it when it arrives, also because he never goes out in the fresh air. Well, it’s not his favorite climate here either. Speaking of the arrivals, I’m going to take off now.” Galbohei walked forward toward the steep cliff face. He stood on the flat parapet made of rock and jumped with a set, with tight fitting wings, from the terrace into deep.
“Yeeeeeeeeeeee-haw!” Six thousand feet of free fall. Headlong, he hurtled along the straight-down mountain face. He was in the throes of speed. The ocean, with its waves and ice plates, was getting closer. Galbohei closed his eye and counted backward from five. “... Three, two, one, go!” Just before he would hit the water, he opened his wings. He flapped them eight times up and down until he had regained distance from the sea level and flew in a glide over the ocean. Eremides saw Galbohei gliding away in the night sky, illuminated by the aurora australis. With no further efforts, he flew there on his vast wings in the colored sky of the night.
“Still a man-child!” Eremides slipped the notebook, which lay beside him on a sailor’s box, under his flipper, grabbed the quill and inkwell, and went back to the mountain where he was born.
He had stayed away for a long while and would find his last rest here after making Dragomar was always meant to be. The place of shared trust and belief in the future. It was a refuge for those who were denied the hope of a future by fate.
It was the evening before the day when fate would once again find its way into the history of Dragomar. and it came as it always comes, without notice and without warning, without rank and classification—neither good nor evil. No trial to escape through negotiation or illness would succeed. It did not judge and knew neither love nor hate. But also no guarantee that fate would be fulfilled. Fate was always a companion of Dragomar without being rated. Even Eremides did not know whether they could influence it, but to surrender to fate was to be affected by inactivity. Thus, it would always remain unassessable as a force. Even if it was neither good nor evil, it always helped in luck and misfortune, victory and defeat as a consolation or an enemy. Something inexplicable explained the unforeseen that people involved could try to live on after the hit without being blamed by others or themselves for having omitted or being wrong in the review of actions or reactions.
The hope of a happy ending that would be a better beginning was the spirit of Dragomar. It was not only about the future of Dragomar. It was the endangered freedom of the inhabitants of Antarctica.
Fate also concerned the future of a young penguin who did not know what place he would take in the lives of others. Fate did not have a plan. The young penguin didn’t have a plan either—until the next day, when he would make a decision that might change everything. It was uncertain if he would fulfill his destiny or if his upright actions could lead him to escape from fate.
PART ONE: AT HOME
CHRONOTHAN, THE BLACK DRAGON
It was snowing poison, and the air smelled biting of sulfur and war. Snowflakes looked different from usual. They were not white, but dirty-yellow from sulfur and smoke. He, the greatest warrior of all time, would now set out to defeat the enemy who had inflicted immeasurable suffering on so many and brought death, destruction, and hopelessness with fire and malice. Defeat here did not mean to force a surrender, as had been possible in earlier battles, to not kill the enemy, and not to pour oneself into hatred. Defeat today meant annihilating un-mercifully with all harshness and bringing about the chance of a new beginning. The own magic would fall into a deep, inner struggle. It would be his last fight without a matter of how it would end. He would not bring in a new, corrupted seed of the mind’s unfeeling usefulness. His violence would not become part of a better future, which should grow out of tolerance and compassion.
The others stood around him. They were sure that he would win because his defeat would destroy not only their lives but also their worldview with everything they believed in. Ekky stood among his family and friends, the animals, the people, and the dragons—there must have been sixty thousand of them. The best wizards had brought him to this point, fighting against enemies. They had trained him and always stood by his side, but they would never get strong enough for the challenge in the ultimate battle. The opponent that the enemy had now sent as the last weapon overpowered all imaginations. The one who must kill this monster had gotten his order thousands of years before by prophecy.
He, Ekky, the leader of his tribe, the master of his guild, the grandmaster of all wizards and magicians, the chairman of the council, the hero of Asnalordh, and countless other battles he had led and decided. He spread his mighty wings, launched a blast of red fire into the sky, and took off on his last flight. The hopes of the inhabitants of Greater Antarctica accompanied him. For a bird, it would have been a day’s flight. Not for him.
The golden hour had come. A sea of colors greets the evening when the day begins. It was the moment painters love because time seems to stand still, and the colors of everything in this particular light shine to a mighty exaltation of everything that is perceived. With beauty, the Renaissance in Italy was fighting its way to the light. People prepared to give the death blow to the dark age for their view of humanism. They did not know that the world’s fate would be decided now and here, in Antarctica. In nature, the hour in which the creatures of the day stopped in an instant to make themselves on the way home to their still safe night camps. The creatures of the night awoke. One more moment to say goodbye with strained eyes to an unlived, splendid day. They would set out in the darkness, according to their ancestral way, to look for luck and fate.
Ekky was a dragon of the worlds, superior to all other dragons. But he was even more. He was the first dragon of all times, who not only united the worlds in himself but also his characteristics, dreams, and abilities had joined to an inseparable unity. His body was not only his body but the body of many, in harmony with his spirit, which was not only his spirit. It was the spirit of his ancestors, those who loved him, and his magics. They were not the powerful allies with free will, fighting for the common cause. No, they were all merged into a unity of pure energy, which would be the next and last step of the development beyond physical existence. He had reached the highest level of dragon existence. He was the first dragon of light.—Again. A long time ago, there had been a dragon of light. Perished as a child and now resurrected without having known it. Neither the personality nor knowledge that continued his own minor story gave legitimation to act for all. He inhabited the experience of the power and might of his ancestors, who watched over him as energy, supporting and admonishing.
His opponent was no longer far away. The two islands lying at the center of what was to decide the world’s fate he could already see in front of him. On the right was the island of his ancestors and friends of his homeland. The enemy burned the considered indestructible crystal to coal dust at the top of the mountain. The crystal had always been the symbol. It symbolized strength, cohesion, magic, hope, and resistance, the symbol of faith—used and worshipped differently in different eras—cultic and universal. It had been an object, a tool of magic. The light that had fed the crystal shot unhindered as a white, glistening beam of light into the sky. Some saw in it the sword, others the admonishing finger of a human hand. On the left, in the distance, lay the enemy’s island. Once, both islands belonged to one extensive empire.
The Island of Fire became the enemy’s refuge, and he made it his headquarters in the region. In the center of the island stood an active, enormous volcano. It spewed firebombs and drove glowing masses of rock down the slopes into the sea. Where the hot lava met the sea, it hissed in a rising wall of steam. One of his opponents would wait for him, far from home.
His adversary was the last messenger of evil and his incorruptible embodiment. Chronothan was his name. The black dragon of Hadnigor. The black dragon had never become visible in all the battles Ekky had fought and brought to mastery there. Ekky could drive away or eliminate the strong opponents in all those years. The outcome had been uncertain and always had claimed heavy casualties on both sides. He had fought against foreign dragons, traitors from his own ranks, and creatures created by the evil that destroyed everything. Chronothan was more potent.
For Ekky, as a person, it was the first encounter with Chronothan. For him, as personality and dragon, it was the reissue of the oldest battle of all times. Against former conflicts, this one would be the last. It was not the fight of the good against the bad. It was the fight for freedom against slavery. The bad itself was no individual. Ekky could not beat the bad alone with one most brutal strike, but he could act as a primer for the canvas, serving grip and clarity of the colors to come. Chronothan was the ambassador of evil. He did not show up to negotiate. He was a product, a tool, and the personified manifestation of power against resistance.
Now he was back again. More enormous, more pungent, and pitch black. The black dragon had left his home, palace, and the golden dungeon in Hadnigor. So far, Ekky had conquered all the other opponents and heroes of evil. The creatures turned into matter, corresponding to the fantasy of many evil thoughts and deeds. It was just a matter of time and unstopped efforts they would face again.
Evil is a result, not an origin. It gathers in lakes; the swords are—as an oil—everywhere, under, and on the earth. Evil is viscous, yet it creeps around. It burns not like a flash, but unleashes its full power when burning. Evil grows with bad thoughts, words, and evil deeds. At first, these wander without apparent targets like tiny, unimportant, and tolerated organisms until they become the essence that makes evil one drop richer. Like oil, one drop is enough to create a thin film that suffocates all goodness and kindness beneath it. In everyday life, evil would always have the advantage.
Destruction needs no plan, is more harmful even in small things, and finds more followers than the good on its arduous path to the light, shared with all. The good did not enter for a reward or applause in this one. It might not win but always try, regardless of how hard it was or how long it would take. Evil could wait and strike at any time. The success of the good did not grieve the evil. The subsequent destruction of hopes and dreams would only be more imposing and shattering.
Chronothan stood atop the volcano with his wings spread, gripping the crater rim with his claws as red-hot lava poured over it. The lava flowed over his claws, cooling faster as each energy fed him. He did not need that energy. Even the energy of a dragon of light did not excite him. His evil was so strong that it fed itself. The inner competition of evil against evil, with only evil intentions, was the key to optimal energy utilization. The inner wars led to the outer strength. He was unrecognizable, nor was his demeanor, but his calm, dominant eyes gave him away. His abilities were not of this world. As a former dragon of fire, his greatest weapon was still flaming. This one was no longer yellow or fire red. It did not blaze like a fire. It looked like a black metallic shimmering hard jet of gas that smothered everything it touched.
Chronothan could also spit out small black rings of smoke that would suck in anything near it, compressing it so that a giant whale would shrink to the size of a grain of sand. Yet, this grain-of-sand-small structure was as heavy as the entire whale. Once released and not absorbed by it again, the black smoke rings would not stop sucking in the matter until the whole planet would be a small lump with a gigantic mass. It was necessary for Ekky to force the end of Chronothan now.
Ekky flew on target, and Chronothan opened fire with long relays of gas projectiles that whirred through the air like straight lightning. The shooting frequency and duration showed an endless amount of ammunition, and the speed of the bullets impressed no less. On their way, the projectiles did not lose height. Ekky activated his shield, which would resist the lava, and deflected the shots. He did not escape by dodging. He also opened fire. He spat out a Barnakath, a flying powerhouse carried by flashes from his maw, which emitted other flashes on its sides. The carrier flashes brought the Barnakath high into the air and positioned it behind the black dragon. It rapid-fired barrages of lightning in brief intervals at Chronothan. When the thunderbolts were fired, they looked ordinary at their point of origin before they twirled and branched through the layers of air. These flashes flew straight, slowed down, and lost their glow just before they hit their target, like fired harpoons. The hits on the target were not classical, ballistic, or energetic impacts, but a kind of approach to the target that attracted the flashes. The hits from the lightning were heavy and had an effect.
Chronothan did not realize at first that he was being shot at. He became weaker. The indestructible did not understand what this weapon meant all about. Chronothan seemed surprised by his vulnerability and turned around. The thunderbolts had not struck and had not wounded him. The ends of the lightning bolts had dark, almost invisible chalices floating in front of his body. Flashes led chalices back to their source, the Barnakath. Meanwhile, Ekky placed two more on the approach side. Another was on its way to replace the first as soon as it exploded. The thunderbolts that connected the Barnakath and the black dragon looked like glowing wire. A glow came from the Barnakath itself. Each time Chronothan grabbed one of these floating goblets and hurled it away, it released quantities of energy in loud explosions. The explosions themselves did not harm Chronothan at all. They fizzled out in the air, and the connections to the new lightning source were gone. The weapon was no ordinary Barnakath, which lightning-breathing dragons of the highest level had in their repertoire. The Barnakah Rhe, a weapon, fed even more myths than dragons. No living being had seen one before. Only dragons of light created and controlled this weapon. Their simple mode of operation was based on using energy to bring a mass, like on a transporter rope, the lightning, close to the black dragon, and draw power from it. It created an energy bridge between the dragons and the chalices, drawing energy from the dragons and transporting it as light and heat to the lightning source. When the Barnakath reached its critical mass, it exploded without the energy flowing back. When Chronothan pushed away the chalices, the power the black dragon spent to break the bond between himself and the goblets also dissipated. He was getting weaker. Ekky had known that meeting this opponent with more fire, ordinary lightning, or projectiles was useless. He stood with slow wing movement in the air at some distance and watched his enemy. Chronothan raged against his nature and caused loud explosions when breaking the connections.
Ekky got closer to his goal and prepared for his next attack. He had brought some icebergs, only with his thoughts, already days ago into the volcano’s proximity and let them now rise from the ocean. He directed the floating icebergs behind his opponent over the volcano’s crater and let them fall into the magma-filled hole. One by one. A pop and a hiss as the icebergs fell into the molten rock, with the water vapor rising and forming a rich, dense cloud cover over the volcano. Still not enough for what Ekky had in mind. He hurled six powerful lightning bolts into the crater wall below the magma level. The rock cracked, and the magma poured into the ocean, creating a foul wall of water vapor that rose toward the sky.
Now the time had come. Ekky shot a long jet of ice crystals that flew in a silvery gas. Above the clouds, they never fell. In the clouds, the ice crystals grew into icicles that struck down on Chronothan, catching the weakened dragon cold and injuring him. Chronothan was busy, and Ekky, as the dragon of light, would now use his most potent weapon.
Suddenly, something happened that revealed all the baseness of his enemy. Evil also used a close combat weapon that tore one out of the world. Not even Chronothan could withstand it. “Get up, Ekky!” That’s what it was all about. The enemy used its most powerful weapon, the black dragon, and now sent its most dangerous, ultimate destructive force. The enemy had to be so desperate that he believed he could no longer win this war by conventional means. It would decide the battle without question and let evil triumph over the world forever. Ekky, the man accustomed to victory, the best warrior and wizard of all time, was flying toward his inevitable defeat. The best fighter will lose without a fight against the ultimate evil, which appeared merciless in language and form: Aunt Maya, the guardian of the fire and of the temple.
PART ONE: HOME
»GET UP, EKKY!«
Getting up was not his business. Incredibly not when huge, signal-red flames and vermilion smoke came out of his nose holes for the first time. Anyway, how lousy was a dream without fire? The smoke was just one reason to wait for the unfamiliar annoying to be displaced by the familiar annoying. He would love to stand up for breaking the frame set of everyday life with ‘Hey, I can snort fire!’—But for convenience, it was better to keep the usual routine as a walking aid through life.
The morning began like every morning–with a decision. Like every morning, he decided not against something but for something—to lie down. Neither the wake-up call he thought he had heard nor the flames coming out of him, he had thus ignored. No, he only wanted to ensure that the elements of fire, air, and earth, in the competition for his attention, settled among themselves. This was not fair because the elements of earth and air had a potent ally in Aunt Maja. She showed everything that ran out of track at its predetermined place in the system. This was necessary because ‘order only maintains a system.’ If she knew, what would happen if two systems, both in best order for themselves, got their feathers messed up? Okay, the fire was new. Maybe he had only dreamed of the fire issue, like so many other adventurous and strange things. A fire that was not from lightning or a volcano was not here in Antarctica, anyway. Nothing here could have burned—at least not for long. Rocks? Ice? Water? Seagulls? Ekky smiled at the thought of torched seagulls, which then just tried to steal his food on foot.