In the sixth book of the Assassin Chronicles, the Dragonslayer, the Knights of the Temple find themselves pitted against a dragon surrounded by an evil fairie horde.  Time seems to be dragging as they wait for the battle to start.  $2.99 at Amazon. (also available in paperback

Mark Andrew laid back on the grass and wondered how many creatures he was crushing beneath him, but didn’t care.  He was tired of waiting.  The sun was slowly, inexorably sinking toward the tops of the trees.  Lucio sat cross-legged in the grass perusing the edge of his sword. 

“This dragon…” the Italian said off-handedly.  “Where did it come from?”

“The dragon was brought here by the magician,” Sam told him from his perch on the white horse.  The elf had rearranged himself from time to time, but had never dismounted.  He now lay on his stomach across the saddle with his hands and his head hanging down one side of the horse.  “There have been no dragons hereabouts in ages.  None except for Adar and Marduk, of course.”

Lucio glanced at Mark Andrew.  Adar, the dragon.  Of course.

“So Marduk brought this dragon.  Why?  What for?  Where did he get a dragon?”  Lucio perked up.

“He created the dragon.”  Sam raised his head and looked at the Knight of the Golden Eagle.  “Dragons do not just… exist.  They are made.  Created.  Conjured. Built. Manufactured. Constructed. Fashioned. Formed. Shaped. Reconstituted. Invented.  You have to have a recipe.”

“I see,” Lucio shook his head.  The elf was like a dictionary and a thesaurus combined.  “And to what purpose has this dragon been… prepared.”  The Knight was hard-pressed to find a different word to use.

“That I don’t know,” Sam sighed and pushed himself up and then sat cross-legged on the horse’s back facing its tail.  “I’m sure it has a purpose, but I am not privy to it.  In fact, I don’t want to know.  I just want it gone.  I believe that once we have defeated these creatures, the dragon will leave.  It will have no other choice.”

“I see,” Lucio nodded.  At least the elf had made no mention that they might have to fight this dragon.  “What do you say, Brother?”  He poked at Mark’s side with the hilt of his sword.

“I say this is the longest day I have ever lived,” Mark muttered and closed his eyes.  “Will the sun never set?”

“Oh, it will set,” Sam told him confidently.  “It always sets… over there.”  He pointed with his arm to the left.  “… and it always rises… over there.”  He pointed with his other arm straight out in front of him and Lucio was puzzled by the 90 degree angle that should have been 180 degrees.  The Knight glanced at Mark, but his eyes were closed.  “What it rises upon is the question, not when.  If we see it rise tomorrow, then it will be good.  If not, well…we’ll never know.”

Lucio sat up taller and looked toward the cottage.  Here they were about to die and Mark Andrew was bored!  How so very typical of the Scot.

“Look, Brother.  Our priest.”  He nudged Mark again with the sword, this time with the pointed end and received a disgruntled glare for his intrusion.

Mark Andrew sat up and looked to where Lucio pointed.  Simon had emerged from the house again.  This time with Merry.  They left the yard and set off across the meadow toward the woods.  Merry carried one of the willow baskets under her arm.

“Where are they going?”  Mark asked the elf.

“To look,” Sam yawned.  “They always go out and look.  Every day.  They are looking for something.”

“A way out no doubt,” Lucio mused.  “That’s what I would be doing.”

“Would it?”  Mark looked at the Italian doubtfully.  Lucio would have been doing much more than looking, Mark thought to himself ruefully.  At least Simon had more control than the Knight of the Golden Eagle.  Or at least Simon used to have more control.  Who could know now?

Merry could not help but shoot curious glances at her companion from time to time.  She was proud of her work.  It had been a terrible ordeal.  Simon would not stand still while she painted him and kept grabbing her arm and then letting go of her and grabbing her again.  But she had finally accomplished the task and now he had his symbols on his face.  He looked like a barbarian for sure, but no worse than herself with her white markings.  He had immediately set about to wash it off once he’d seen it in the mirror, but it wouldn’t come off.  Then there had been the terrible argument and then she had relented.  She had tried to get the markings off him.  It was useless.  They were stuck with them now, like it or not.

“Do you think we will ever find the stairs?” she asked as they walked along.  She looked for more herbs and grasses and leaves and flowers to put in her kettle and stopped occasionally to pick something from this bush or that plant.

“They must be here somewhere,” he said.  “I don’t think we had those visions without purpose.”

“I never saw any of this in my dreams,” she told him as she pulled up a yellow flower by the roots, whispering a quick apology for killing it.  “I don’t even know if this is the right place for that vision.”

“I don’t know either,” he said.  “But we have to keep looking.”

“I have been wondering about the other powders.”  She straightened up.  “The red and the black.”

“They are nothing, I tell you.  Some trick of the… the…” he grumbled as they started off again.  He was still angry about the blue markings on his face and his hands.  He was damned for sure now and they were walking very near the cave of the dragon.  They needed to move on.

He could hear it singing even here.

“Let’s go to the dragon’s lair,”  she suggested.

“What the Jiminy Bejesus…Why?!” he sputtered and turned to gape at her.  “We’ve been there before.  There are no stairs there.”

“We haven’t been in the cave,” she said.  “Surely you don’t think the stairs would be out in the open?”

“No!  And no.”  He shook his head.  “We’re going in the opposite direction.”

“All right,” she sighed.  He was already mad at her and was just beginning to get over it.  She didn’t want to provoke him again.  At least she had gotten her way and tonight they would see if her magick had done any good.  The runes and symbols on their faces should provide a measure of protection against the baneful faeries.

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