Vedra and krimon the twi.., p.1

Vedra and Krimon the Twin Dragons, page 1


Vedra and Krimon the Twin Dragons

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Vedra and Krimon the Twin Dragons

  With special thanks to Allan Frewin


  Title Page


  Dear Reader

  Story One: Twin Beasts

  Chapter One: A New Peril

  Chapter Two: The Dark River

  Chapter Three: The Twin Dragons

  Chapter Four: Flying North

  Chapter Five: The Boy on the Mountain

  Chapter Six: Magic Dust

  Chapter Seven: Malvel’s Laughter

  Story Two: Danger in Rion

  Chapter One: Blizzard

  Chapter Two: Dragon Fire

  Chapter Three: The Labyrinth

  Chapter Four: The Evil Charm

  Chapter Five: The Chasm

  Chapter Six: The Heart of the Maze

  Chapter Seven: The Full Moon

  Character Guide

  Also Available


  * * *

  Welcome to Avantia. I am Aduro — a good wizard residing in the palace of King Hugo. I bring you a tale of a great Quest from Tom and Elenna’s past — the birth of twin dragons, Vedra and Krimon.

  The baby Beasts needed to make the journey to the neighboring kingdom of Rion where they could grow up in safety. But the evil wizard Malvel is never far away and the young Beasts needed protection, especially when a foe you may recognize showed up for the first time.

  So how did Tom and Elenna protect Vedra and Krimon? You shall see….



  * * *


  “Get well soon, Storm,” he murmured. Tom’s horse had been lamed on a rock, but was healing well in the palace stables. Tom’s friend Elenna’s pet wolf, Silver, lay in the straw at his side, refusing to leave Storm. “I have to go now,” Tom told the animals. “But I’ll come and see you again as soon as I can.”

  Tom left the stables, crunching through snow as he gazed up at the tall purple spires and the sea green domes of the Royal Palace. Frosty midwinter lay over the towns and villages, fields and forests of Avantia. But in the Great Hall of the palace, a party was taking place to celebrate King Hugo’s birthday.

  Tom took a seat beside Elenna, her black hair a short-cropped tangle, her bow and quiver of arrows at her side on the bench. The hall was full of people eating and dancing to the music.

  “A toast!” called one of the royal courtiers. “To King Hugo: Long may he reign!” There was a roar of approval and everyone raised their glasses.

  Tom felt a rush of pride that he was a friend to the noble king. Elenna smiled and tapped her goblet against his. Then she leaned over and whispered into Tom’s ear. “And to the Beasts of Avantia!”

  “Shhh!” warned Tom. As far as most of the people of Avantia knew, the Beasts were just legend. It was the greatest secret in the realm that the old stories about the Beasts that protected the land were true! Tom and Elenna had seen the Beasts! And more than that — they had freed them from the evil power of the wizard Malvel.

  But as Tom looked along the table, he thought it was strange that Aduro, the good wizard of Avantia, did not seem to be enjoying the party. The elderly man sat silently in his chair, wrapped in his faded red silk robes, his face solemn and his hand stroking his wispy gray beard.

  The wizard turned and his gray eyes stared straight into Tom’s.

  “You are right,” Aduro said with a grim smile. “I am troubled.”

  Tom had forgotten for a moment that the wizard had the power to read minds. Aduro pushed his chair back, rose, and came over to them. He rested his hands on Tom’s and Elenna’s shoulders.

  “Come with me,” he said quietly. “I have some news to tell you.”

  They got up from the table. Aduro parted a tapestry curtain and they slipped quietly out of the hall through a doorway. They found themselves in a little room with tall windows that looked out over the snow-covered town. Night had fallen and the town was bright with twinkling lights and the red glow of watch fires.

  “Has something bad happened?” Elenna asked. “Are the Beasts in danger?”

  Aduro gave her a mysterious look. “The Beasts you saved from Malvel’s evil power are safe. But, elsewhere in our realm, something strange and wonderful has taken place. Something that happens only once in a thousand years.” He leaned close, his eyes sparkling. “The forces that rule our world have created two new Beasts.”

  Tom gasped. “I didn’t even know that was possible,” he said. “What kind of Beasts are they?”

  “Twin dragons, Vedra and Krimon,” Aduro said. “Hatched from a single egg that lay hidden for centuries in the Caves of Nidrem.”

  “Baby dragons!” Elenna breathed. “Will we ever get to see them?”

  The wizard’s face was solemn. “That is why I brought you here.” He drew himself up to his full height. “The birth of Vedra and Krimon could put the kingdom of Avantia in terrible danger once more.”

  He closed his hand around the jewel that hung from a thick chain around his neck. Tom saw a blue light shining out from between his fingers. The light hit the wall of the chamber. In the circle of light, Tom could see that the wizard had conjured a vision.

  It showed a dark cave of sharp black rocks. At the back of the cave, Tom could see the broken shards of a thick white egg — an egg that must have been the size of a wagon when it had been whole.

  Curious shapes lay curled on the floor of the cave.

  “I can’t make it out,” Tom said, peering at the magical scene. “What are those green and red things?”

  “Can’t you guess?” Elenna said. “They’re the dragons!”

  “Oh! Yes!” Vedra and Krimon were curled up together, their wings and tails and long necks wrapped around one another. Their eyes were closed and thin streams of smoke drifted from their nostrils. Tom felt his heart lift at the sight of the newborn Beasts. They were magnificent and precious all at once.

  “It is rare for two Beasts to be created at the same time,” Aduro told them. He took his hand from the jewel and the vision faded away. “And, at this age, they are at their most vulnerable. If Malvel learns of their existence, he will do everything in his power to corrupt them.”

  “We’ll protect the dragons,” Tom vowed.

  “We’ll do whatever it takes!” Elenna added.

  Aduro smiled. “I hoped you would say that,” he continued. “But I must warn you, this will be a dangerous Quest, unlike any you have undertaken. You must be sure that you are up to the task.”

  Tom and Elenna looked at each other for a moment, then turned to the wizard.

  “We are!” they said together.

  THE WIZARD LED TOM AND ELENNA THROUGH a side door and down a long, winding stone stairway lit by flaming torches. Down and down the stairs went, and Tom realized with excitement that Aduro was leading them to the cellars that lay deep under the palace.

  At last, the stairs ended and they followed the wizard through many dark cellar rooms while the sounds of the celebrations faded away far above them. Finally they came to a locked door. Aduro lifted his jewel pendant and touched it against the wood. The door sprang open.

  He took a torch from the wall and led them into the room. It was small and round and quite bare except for a large wooden chest with metal straps that stood in the middle of the stone floor. A bundle of cloth lay beside the chest, and next to it were Tom’s shield and sword, along with Elenna’s bow and quiver of arrows. Aduro must have magically brought them here, so they’d be ready and waiting for them.

  Tom looked around.

  “Why have you taken us here?” he asked. “There’s no way out.”

  Aduro looked at him. “Isn’t there?
he said.

  The wizard walked over to the chest and waved his hand over the curved lid. It flew open with a loud, startling clank.

  Aduro picked up the bundle of cloth and then climbed into the chest. “Come, bring your things,” he said.

  Puzzled, Tom picked up his sword and the magic shield. It was decorated with powerful tokens from each of his previous Quests. It could save him from drowning and even protect him from fire. He climbed into the chest beside the wizard, leaving room for Elenna behind him with her bow and arrows.

  Aduro stamped his foot twice and a panel in the bottom of the chest slid away to reveal a stone stairway that led down into utter darkness.

  The wizard began to descend. Tom and Elenna exchanged a brief look and then followed.

  The torchlight shone on the walls of the narrow stairway. Their footsteps echoed, but Tom could hear another sound. It was coming from below, an odd rushing sound that he almost recognized.

  Dampness oozed from the walls, making the stones shine in the torchlight.

  “I know that noise — it’s running water!” Tom exclaimed.

  “It is the hidden River Dour,” announced Aduro as they came to the end of the steps. They found themselves by a wide, rushing underground river of black water. “This will take you to the very heart of the Caves of Nidrem, the sacred place where the Beasts gather and where none but the Master of the Beasts has ever set foot.”

  Tom had heard of the Caves of Nidrem, but they were the most sacred place in all of Avantia and he had never expected to go there. He frowned, realizing that they would have to go on this Quest without Storm and Silver. “Will you come with us?” he asked the wizard.

  “This is your destiny, not mine,” said Aduro. “Only you can enter the Caves of Nidrem.”

  Aduro led them along the rocky shore until they came to a place where a small rowboat was moored.

  “The River Dour will lead you to the caves where the dragons hatched,” the wizard told them. “Once there you must take Vedra and Krimon north, into the mountainous kingdom of Rion. There they will be safe from the evil reach of Malvel.” His eyes glittered in the torchlight. “But beware — if the dragons are not taken to safety before the rise of the full moon, then Malvel will be able to cast his wicked spells over them.”

  “But what if Malvel gets to them first?” asked Tom. “Is there anything we can do to break the spells?”

  “It would not be easy,” Aduro said. “Let me see your sword.”

  Tom drew his sword from his belt and handed it to Aduro. This sword had helped him on so many adventures. It shone brightly in the torchlight. Aduro drew the blade up to his lips and whispered an enchantment. Tom’s fingers tingled at the words.

  “Your sword is now enchanted,” Aduro said. “If Malvel has already put an evil spell on the Beasts, then the only way to set them free is for you to score upon their tender underbellies the symbol of Good.” He looked at Tom. “It will take only a single touch, a light stroke from the tip of this blade,” he said. “Enough to scar but not to wound. Only the steadiest of hands can make such a cut, and it must be done before the full moon has reached the very top of the sky … otherwise Malvel’s spells will be unbreakable and Vedra and Krimon will be corrupted forever.”

  “I can do it,” Tom said.

  “Now, my friends,” said Aduro. “It’s time to go.”

  Tom and Elenna climbed down into the bobbing boat. The rush of running water was all around them.

  “Take this,” Aduro said, handing down the bundle. “It is food and drink for your long journey — and warm cloaks to keep out the cold. I know that your shield has Tartok’s claw on it to protect you from cold, Tom, but the cloak will save you from getting soaked to the skin if it snows.”

  “Thank you, Aduro,” Tom said, placing the bundle in the bottom of the boat.

  “Farewell,” said Aduro. “May your Quest be successful.”

  Tom looked up at the wizard from the prow of the boat. “While there is blood in my veins, I will do everything I can to keep Vedra and Krimon safe!” he said solemnly.

  “And so shall I!” Elenna added, her eyes flashing.

  “Then go, my brave friends,” said the wizard, handing them the torch. He loosened the rope that held the boat to the shore. Elenna set the flickering torch in a holder in the prow and they sat side by side, each using an oar to bring the little craft out onto the belly of the dark river.

  A sound came to their ears — a distant booming like sinister, mocking laughter.

  “Malvel?” Elenna muttered.

  “Yes, I think so,” Tom said. He shivered. The River Dour was leading them into who-knew-what deadly dangers.

  “Will we succeed again?” Elenna mused anxiously. “Can we defeat Malvel once more?”

  Tom stared out over the prow of the boat.

  “Don’t worry,” he said, trying to reassure her. “We’ve never failed before — and we’re not going to fail now!”

  THE RIVER CHURNED ALL AROUND THEM. THEY had been swept along on the dark water for hours.

  “Oh no!” Elenna said, peering forward. Tom looked. There was a thin line of whiteness in the water ahead. The noise of the river had become louder and more urgent.

  “Rocks!” Tom gasped. “And the current is pulling us toward them!”

  The two friends dug their oars into the water, fighting to turn the boat out of the path of the rocks. Sweat ran down Tom’s face, his muscles aching as he thrust the oar into the water over and over again. Tom knew that the splinter of Sepron’s tooth that was fitted to his shield worked as a protection against fast-flowing water — but he wasn’t so sure it would save them from these rocks! They were very close now. He could see them glistening in the torchlight.

  “Come on!” Tom shouted. “We can do this!” He wasn’t going to lose heart so early in the Quest. Gradually, the boat began to turn.

  “We did it!” Elenna cheered as the first of the rocks slid by. But there were more sharp black rocks stabbing upward out of the swirling water. White foam broke against them as the river tried to dash their boat to pieces.

  They rowed furiously, and at last they came through the rocks and were able to get their breath back.

  “I hope this river doesn’t have any more nasty surprises for us!” Tom gasped.

  They became aware of a faint blue light far ahead — not daylight, but a soft blue glow that was like a steady flame.

  As the light grew, they were able to make out the banks of the river and the ridged stone roof high above their heads. The blue light played on the water, getting brighter and brighter.

  Their boat floated gently into a wide, calm lake under a high dome of rock.

  “The light is coming from the rocks,” Tom said. “And look! There’s something in the water.” He pointed.

  A large shape was cutting through the water, sending up spouts of white foam. They recognized the Beast at once.

  “It’s Sepron!” Elenna shouted joyfully. The huge sea serpent was snaking through the water toward them, his scaly green body crested with a long fin and the seaweedlike mane streaming back from his head.

  He opened his massive jaws and let out a deep, bellowing cry of welcome.

  “Hello, Sepron!” Tom shouted. The Beast was huge — he swam around the boat, surrounding it with his long, shining coils. Then they saw the other Beasts gathered together on the shore.

  Cypher the Mountain Giant came striding out into the water, his massive feet making loud rumbles with each step he took.

  “Careful, Cypher!” Tom shouted up. “You’ll swamp the boat.”

  None of the Beasts could speak, but Cypher gave a grunt as though he knew what Tom meant. He leaned down and gently picked up Tom and Elenna, then turned and waded back to shore.

  The huge fire dragon Ferno lay under a cliff, his black wings folded along his back, smoke drifting from his nostrils, his red eyes friendly. Tartok shambled forward, making welcoming snuffling sounds as she squatted down
in front of the two friends. She reached out her two great hairy arms and pulled them into her fur. It felt to Tom as if he was being wrapped in a huge fleecy blanket until Tartok let them go again.

  There was a loud croaking at their backs and they found themselves staring up into the fiery eyes of Epos the flame bird.

  A mighty clopping of hooves announced the approach of Tagus the Night Horse. He reached down to Tom and Elenna, lifted them up with his human arms, and placed them onto his broad back.

  He made a sound that was half speech and half neighing, and then he went cantering off along the glowing blue shore of the great underground lake with Tom and Elenna clinging to his back.

  “Hang on tight!” Tom called to Elenna. He looked back and saw that the other Beasts were following. Tom felt good to be surrounded by all of his extraordinary and powerful friends.

  They quickly came to a large cavern. A little way off, the stone floor sloped upward and they could see daylight — it was the way out of the Nidrem Caves! Tom and Elenna jumped down from Tagus’s back.

  The two newborn dragons lay together in a nest of golden straw. One was emerald green, the other red as a ruby. Their trusting eyes gazed at Tom and Elenna, white steam rising from their nostrils.

  “That’s why the Beasts are all here together,” Tom said to Elenna. “They’re protecting Vedra and Krimon.”

  Even newly hatched, the two Beasts were twice Tom’s height.

  “We’re here to help you,” he said soothingly as he approached them. He realized they didn’t know what he was saying but the Beasts often seemed to understand the meaning behind his words.

  Vedra, the green dragon, let out a nervous hiccup of excitement and a small spurt of red fire belched from between his jaws.

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