1st 2 chapters of Ian's Realm the Trilogy

The Realm


Fierce flames burst from the dragon’s scales; its eyes lit white with wrath. A fountain of molten fury poured from its mouth as sparks flared from its nostrils. The blaze roared at Ian, boiling his blood, and drawing sweat from his pores onto his cheeks. Ian, panic-stricken, covered his eyes and rolled away from the inferno, his heart pounding when—Poof!

The sparks turned into the popcorn texture on the ceiling, and he opened his eyes. He listened to the thumping of his heart as he caught his breath. He squeezed his eyes shut, opened them again, and blinked the sleep away.

Once Ian realized where he was, still in his bed under the covers, he moaned. The moon cast a cool glow across his blanket and illuminated the cluttered desk, his homework, and an empty soda can. The pencil drawings of swords he’d created that afternoon still fluttered in the draft from the open window. Sounds of the lazy neighborhood filtered into his room. A motorcycle engine switched gears in the distance. Someone’s television across the street announced the baseball game and was hastily turned down.

Ian propped himself on one elbow, eyeing the closet door which was held slightly ajar by yesterday’s jeans rolled in a bundle on the floor. Dirty socks peeked out from the dark beyond.

Ian laid back down, rolled over and closed his eyes while the breeze cooled him, bringing comfort, and hopefully sleep.

Soon the draft from his window turned into an icy wind that numbed his body. He fell, plummeting past the cold jagged boulders on a dark, lonely mountain. Landing on the cliff, bits of gravel stuck to his flesh as his body rolled. The salty taste of blood filled his mouth. His burning hair sizzled and curled before finally being snuffed out in the dirt. He trundled off a ledge and again dropped through the air. Hands raised over his face, he shielded his body from stones and rubble that were airborne with him.

Men dressed in deerskin with quivers on their backs, and carrying bows ran out of a cave as he flew by. Arrows spun past him toward the dragon. Whether any hit the flying serpent, he did not see. He crashed into the icy bank just as the arrow planted itself deep in the snow next to him. A tombstone. The shaft vibrated as a silent lament.

It was then Ian realized he wasn’t the one who had fallen. A stranger lay in a snowdrift, limbs hanging loose at his side, face bruised and swollen. The man smiled at him and then his blond lashes sealed his eyes shut.

A voice broke the silence. “Father!”

Ian woke again.

Beads of sweat dripped down his forehead and trickled past his ears. The curtains that framed his open window ruffled like ghosts dancing in the night. Neighborhood dogs barked at the moon.

Letting his heart settle he lay there as he did every night, hoping for a restful sleep, one that didn’t take him back into the world he’d been seeing ever since his mother died.




On the parchment of time a scene is drawn

Whispering lines taking animate form

Like pages of life its corners are turned

Again, and again until lessons are learned

A breath of sweet wind and motion is given

A Realm is created; a Life is within.


Young Amleth tossed his strawberry blond curls over his shoulder and steadied his eyes on the leather door. The wind whistled outside. The skins of the yurt flapped like a muted drum, and the oil lamp flickered dancing shadows on the walls. The chill crept under the doorway, making the other children huddle closer to the fire.

An old woman whispered, beckoning the young ones to lean closer toward her so they might hear her. White braids hung over her shoulders. Her plump body, wrapped in woven blankets, rocked to an unsung melody.

“The Songs of Wisdom weep,” she said.

“Weep? Grandmamma, why are they weeping? Is something wrong?” When the little girl who spoke shivered, her older sister wrapped another fleece around her, combing her long golden locks with her fingers.

“Something is always wrong here,” Amleth said, folding his arms across his chest, and settling his gaze on the flames.

“Sit down, Amleth.” The old woman patted her sheepskin as an invitation. “I’ll tell you the stories that my grandparents told me.”

“I already know the stories,” Amleth sneered. His stomach knotted with anxiety. He didn’t want to be here with the orphans and the village grandmother. Restless, he didn’t consider himself an orphan. Not yet. He’d been here only an evening. It was too soon to tell if his father had died. After supper, all he could do was pace back and forth like a caged cougar. He knew he should be out in the storm with the men looking for him. They had refused his help and had said at twelve-years-old he was too young to be out in such a storm.

The old woman took the littlest girl in her arms. “The wind has a name. Our people call it ‘The Songs of Wisdom’.”

“Do the Meneks call it that?” A little boy asked, peeking out from under his blankets.

“No. The Meneks don’t know it by that name. They’re afraid of the wind just as they’re afraid of Stenhjaert, the dragon,” the woman answered.

“They’re fools,” Amleth sneered. “The Meneks are slaves to the dragon and will be all the days of their lives.” The boy turned his back to the fire to warm it, and to glance anxiously at Grandmamma. “Why do we bother to help them?”

His father had left for the mountain three days before. Everyone in the village knew it was a dangerous journey. Whenever the moon was a smiling sliver in the night, the dragon rose from his lair on the dark side of the mountain. That’s when the bravest Kaempern men would set out to Deception Peak. There they would risk their lives to slay the dragon and save the Meneks from its tyranny.

As always, their plans failed. The dragon saw the men, and Amleth’s father offered himself as a decoy to save the lives of his friends. He was struck by the dragon’s powerful tail and thrust from the mountaintop. Though his friends had escaped to tell the story, his father was now lost in a snowstorm and a search party had been sent to look for him. Yet, no one knew if he were dead or alive.

Amleth kicked at the fire, breaking the burning logs, and sending a stream of ash into the room.

The old woman shook her head. “Dear child, you are so much like your father. Settle down and let me tell the story. The children need to know the Kaempern legends.”

Though heat from the warm flames in the fireplace comforted Amleth’s shivering body, there was no solace for his aching heart.

The old woman cleared her throat and began. “The wind sings when it passes through the trees, the valleys, and through the tall fjords to the north. You never know what its voice will be like. Sometimes…”

She looked at the wide eyes of the children as they sat up on their sheepskins, listening to her, and to the gust outside. “Sometimes it is sweet and light, like snowflakes that tickle your nose on a quiet winter’s day.”

The children laughed, exchanging glances with each other. Amleth watched them somberly.

“And yet,” her wrinkled face scowled, her voice deepened. “Sometimes the voice of the wind is deep, like the iron bells that ring off the shores of Skerry.”

“To warn the fisherman of the sandbar?” a boy asked.

“To warn all the sailors.” She put her finger over her lips.

The oil lamp flickered and died, sheathing the room in darkness. Gasping, some of the children hid under their covers. Amleth walked to the pile of wood near the doorway and set a log on the coals. He blew on the embers and soon the wood burst into flame. Again, the shadows danced across the walls.

“In the summer, the Songs of Wisdom cause the dandelion feathers to fly. I’ve seen you all frolic with them.”

The girls giggled.

“The summer is too short. It’s easy to forget its beauty when the dark and cold of winter drags on.” Her brow narrowed, and she glared into each of their eyes. “You must not forget the summer. Even though it becomes a howling cold wind, it is still the keeper of our world. It talks to us. It keeps its promise to cleanse our world of evil: of the wickedness that grows in the deep, dark…” She pounded her fist on the ground, “…dungeons below.”

One of the little girls whined and buried her head under her fleece.

“Whenever the Songs of Wisdom meet with darkness…,” With a raspy voice, the old woman threw her hands into the air, “…A squall rises and picks up the rubble. With a mighty gust, the songs blow the stench through the open window of the world.” As if throwing something out the window, she tossed her arms, causing the girls to cry out. The boys clapped their hands.

“Is that what’s happening now?” a boy asked.

The old woman looked at the door of the yurt as it flapped violently. The red bear that was painted on the rawhide moved in a rolling motion, its two black eyes keeping rhythm with its round body. The image of an arrow hung over the animal, marking the sign of a hunter’s home.

“Yes,” she said.

“What about the dragon? The dragon is the evilest thing in the world,” Amleth contested. “Is there a storm big enough to blow the dragon away?”

He studied the old woman’s face. Amleth abhorred the dragon more than he pitied the Meneks, the dragon worshipers who lived by the sea. It was the Meneks who had banished him and his father from their village and forced them to forage in the wilderness. It would have been a fate worse than death had they not been trained hunters. Amleth and his father had finally joined with other outcasts, and together they formed the Kaempern settlement. Amleth never understood why the forest people risked their lives to free the Meneks from the dragon. Such a sacrifice became a way of life for the tribe.

“It would be a horrendous storm. Our people could not survive that big of a storm,” the village grandmother said.

“What if it happened?” Amleth pressed. He had to know. If the dragon were gone, no one else would die. There would be no more orphans. “What if a horrendous storm came and took the dragon out of the world? Could it get back in? Or would it be gone forever?”

The other children looked to Grandmamma for an answer.

“That’s a difficult question. No one knows the answer. However, deep in the mountain, under the dragon’s lair, lies a crystal sphere. No one knows exactly where. It is told that one day a man will come from far away, from through the window perhaps. He will find the sphere and then the dragon will be uprooted from its nest and cast from our world. The sphere will seal the window shut and evil will be gone forever. That day our people will know peace.”

“I know that legend.” Amleth’s voice sharpened for he had a hard time believing that story. “A curse haunts the caves where they say the sphere is hidden. No one can find it. Our fathers search the mountain, see visions, and come home wild and crazy, if at all. We wait for them, caged like wild animals, wondering if we’re orphans.” Amleth’s voice fell short, fading into the sound of the wind.

“You carry a heavy burden, Amleth. I am sorry,” she said.

Amleth faced the fire. He felt as though he would burst, yet he didn’t want the other children to see him weak. He was the brave one, the strong one.

“What’s on the other side of the windows of the world?” another boy asked.

The old lady laughed. “You children are filled with too many questions tonight.”

“They don’t want to go to sleep,” an older girl said with a smile.

The old lady nodded, a twinkle in her eye. “There is a Great River, A Great Man, on the other side of the world, who washes all the evil clean. This Man will not wash the dragon from our world. Instead, he will send it far away to the land of fire where it belongs.” Grandmother stood. “Now it’s time to sleep.”

The children nestled into their sheepskins as the woman covered each of them, gently resting her hand on their heads, and whispering in their ears.

“Lay, and rest, Amleth,” she spoke softly when the others were tucked in their beds.

He took out a sheepskin from a pile of blankets and laid it down apart from the other children. He’d rest, still, how could he sleep knowing his father was injured and suffering in the snowstorm?

The woman stroked his hair. “They will find your father.”

He wanted to believe her. He wanted to hold on to hope.

With the children tucked in their beds, the woman settled into her own fleece and whispered, “Maybe the winds will rest in the morning.” She closed her eyes.

Before dawn, a violent rapping at the door awoke Amleth. The woman sat up and looked around the room. The fire had died to ashes and all the other children were sleeping. He looked at her anxiously.

She rose, picked up her shawl and walked to the door, opening it slightly. Snow blew in through the crack and coated her skirt.

“They found him.”

Amleth jumped out of his bed and raced to the woman, looking out at the messenger.

“They’ve brought him to the House of Helbrede”

“The House of Helbrede? Then he’s alive?” Amleth’s heart raced with excitement.

“Barely,” the messenger said.

The old woman turned to him. “Go. Be with your father.”

Amleth grabbed his woolen fleece and left with the messenger.


To see my portfolio please click the button below.