An ancient scroll reveals the dragons' secrets in the novel, "The Ghosts of Walker Pines."
DRAGONS AMONG US
The Complete Text of the Scroll
Excerpted from Book I / The Ghosts Of Walker Pines
Contained in the first book of the DRAGONS AMONG US series, the deciphered content of an ancient Germanic scroll occupies nearly two complete chapters. In a very real sense, the document's account of a prehistoric, previously unknown relationship between humans and dragons almost stands alone as its own novella. Designed as a combination back story and flashback, the testament is part sci-fi adventure, part fantasy, and part Greek tragedy -- all on an epic scale.
The scroll also represents the result of over three years of concept development. In order to sync perfectly with a broad storyline that would span four to six novels, possibly even more, the multitude of interlocking story components were written, rewritten, then rewritten again and again. As the basis upon which so many other plot elements rested, it was essential that the scroll document be as detailed as possible, thus its rather lengthy content.
Because the full text of the scroll doesn't appear until chapter (episodio in Portuguese) twenty-two, a reader may choose to ignore this material, read the novel itself, and thus discover the answers it provides in the sequence I originally intended. In hindsight, however, I've included the scroll on these pages because reading it first won't really spoil anything, but might entice others who would have otherwise never read the full text, to get involved with the novels themselves.
Presented here in its entirety, word for word, is the second half of the scroll exactly as it appears in the novel. The scroll is not divided into two parts in the book, and has only been split here in order to make it easier (and faster) to read. Again, if the language reads as a bit stiff or stilted, this was largely intentional, the aim being to imbue the scroll with some leftover antiquity despite its modern translation.
Vinte E Tres
Gesenet Sind Die Kinder Die Im Krieg Zu Frueh Von Uns Genommen Wurden
Blessed Are The Children Taken Too Soon By War
Among the world of humans, reunited families set about planting scorched battlefields with crops of wheat instead of digging graves for the fallen. Burned buildings were fitted with white, unstained bricks, corrals were built and stocked, but the name of dragon was stricken from the words that men spoke, wrote with inks, or hammered into stone. Much effort was spent erasing the existence of the beasts from rock and from memories alike.
All the while, the dark and damp subterranean chambers of the dragons flickered under firelights of misery and despair. The soldiers who had known only war, many still wounded or maimed, trudged down hollow tunnels, limped through passageways to underworlds that were forever sealed behind them. Sentinel guards stood posted to ensure no human should ever intrude upon dragon, nor should dragon again venture above.
And when it was done, when all had been settled, men gradually healed from the terrible sins wrought by centuries of warfare. A great wisdom spread among the ranks of humans, warrior and citizen alike. Never again would the Demons of War be bridled to chariots whose tall quivers of spears ran red with the blood of misjudged enemies.
Neues Zeitalter Fuer Entdeckung Und Erforshung
A New Era Of Discovery And Exploration
Men and Women would use their minds to conquer the plagues and diseases of ignorance and intolerance. And though the many places of the world were known, humans sought to heal the malignancies of malice that yet lurked in the hearts of many.
Without dragons to smelt platinum from the last of the ore that held it, gold would instead line purses and gild temple walls. Silver, ivory and gemstones adorned both skin and flowing robes. A new and hopeful age of humanity emerged from the scars and bloodshed of the past, and in the millennia to come, names like Lumeria, Mu, and Atlantis would all but replace the six kingdoms of the ancient eras. The shelves of great libraries overflowed with scrolls on science, literature, medicine, mathematics, music and the arts.
But far below the cobblestone streets and the alabaster buildings whose stone towers gleamed beneath a noonday sun, the dim and dismal galleries of the dragon Truebloods echoed with sounds of wretchedness and discontent. Against the unheard songs of the humans above, the once great firedrakes languished in confusion and without purpose. Councils of Elders who normally directed the affairs of dragons, still sat helpless under the weight and blight of long and senseless wars.
Throughout the lower regions the Truebloods, known as such because of their loyal devotions to clan and kingdom, waited for someone to show them a path of light amid the darkness. Warrior dragons, restless in the absence of victory, wandered within an underworld of loosely connected caves and tunnels, where grottos and caverns lay filled with crystal and quartz. And with platinum.
Veterans of endless combat, the soldier dragons had for centuries known little more than battles and bloodshed. And it was they who first seized upon the rich new veins of platinum ore. The warriors also knew that once in abundance, the medicinal ash from burned platinum could hasten the healing of physical wounds and restore vigor to depleted spirits.
Thus it was that the soldiers who had suffered losses of limbs and wings and eyes, should lead the way for all others. Though the platinum itself was again plentiful, the eating of red meat was replaced by mosses and grasses, ferns and the plentiful small fish that swam in dimly lit rivers and streams. Other sparse foods, delicacies, grew in pinprick patches of sunlight that arrowed down from the surface.
Their stomachs full, soldiers accustomed to conflict then used their fire against those who were disobedient to the orders they gave. The warrior Truebloods soon ruled as stern despots throughout the underlands. Joining with the clans of the other kingdoms, their throats brimming with flames, the tyrants reigned supreme and unquestioned.
Commoners, mothers and their young, the aged, even the Councils of Elders, all obeyed the strict laws imposed upon them. Little, it seemed, was different from the torments of the surface; only the taskmasters were changed, from humans to those of their own kind.
Neither evil nor vile, the self-declared Lords of the Below did what was necessary, what they thought was best, demanding loyalty and inflicting punishments for disloyalty. And though tyranny governed all the clans and all the kingdoms, semblances of order and orderliness forged a new life that replaced the sorrows and despair of the early years after the wars.
With discipline restored, the self-assured warriors decided to explore and expand the horizons of the underworld’s many realms. Via enforced servitude, mighty flocks of dragons sought out the biggest caves, the smallest caverns. Giant tunnels and lengthy flyways were excavated until the lower realms were a thousand times their former size, in both breadth and depth.
Found beneath the pale, sometimes dawn-bright light of luminescent ceilings and other large formations, dense forests were discovered, plus dry deserts and humid jungles. Even the poles of the Earth were penetrated from underneath, where regions of snow and ice spread the same below as above. Most beautiful and unusual of all, an enormous lake, tens of kilometers across, lay in the middle of all the kingdoms, beneath all the seas and oceans that perched overhead, as if great drainages of water kept the lake replenished and full to every shore.
In the very center of this minor sea, an immense island of stone and sand rose from the water and sat beneath a roof of rock, the peak of which hovered a kilometer or more above. In the distance lay volcanoes, where some of the tallest vents disappeared within floating mists of steam or smoke, as the summits reached toward the remote and distant ceiling.
But hunkered away in private, guarded meetings, Councils of Elders whispered among one another and conspired against their soldier tyrants. Truebloods could never, must never, live as dumb beasts serving masters who enslaved a race of nobles meant to thrive free as wind and cloud.
Because the warriors ruled by force of fire alone, those who sought to overthrow their oppressors knew what must be done. Having governed for centuries, the veteran fighters grew smug and overconfident. Unsuspected by them, secretive groups who opposed the bully leaders began to steal from their supplies of platinum ore, the combustible fuel for those who profited from use of the metallic coal as a weapon.
Slowly, small mountains of the crucial ore grew within the confines of deep, faraway caverns. Places hidden and unknown to the Trueblood rulers, where all existing veins of the platinum had, stone by stone, been sequestered away and buried. As the warriors lie napping, returned from their sojourns elsewhere, the large caches of their precious shards were steadily and stealthily stolen from them. Meanwhile the Elders’ secondary, but most imperative plan for liberation was already well underway.
From among the ranks of the most educated, the brightest of minds, philosophers and poets alike, most of them females who had lost mates, who mourned sons and daughters taken during many years of war, were chosen an elite group charged with an important but dangerous responsibility.
Given no other choice, the Elders sent away the selected body, directed them to find a distant location for themselves where they might perform dire activities of a questionable nature. A hundred strong, they would be named as Elementals in deference to their task of delving into the natural – and unnatural – processes of life and of death.
With stakes urgent and desperate, the Elders risked a step more in their advice and assistance to the Elementals. Known only to the few, a sacred truth kept guarded for countless millennia was divulged such that it should further aid the anointed membership.
Upon the great Trueblood exodus into the underworld, they had brought their dead with them. It was agreed that the fallen from each kingdom should have a common resting place, sites referred to as the Pits of Bone and Honor. Both hallowed and terrifying, the yards were broad as lakebeds, deep as any well, and their acres of exposed bones glowed green from the digested platinum that saturated them.
The Elementals, eager to complete their appointed mission, their backs loaded with hastily fabricated cages, entered one of these flooded Pits and filled their containers with vermin and snakes, the largest and smallest of loathsome things. Even with the eels and millipedes who slithered or crawled within this most vile of abodes.
Their baskets jostling from the writhing contents inside each, the Elementals journeyed to where no Trueblood had yet to venture. And it was there that they began their strange researches. Aware then, as learned from the Elders, that platinum possessed hitherto unfamiliar properties and abilities, large quantities of the metallic ore had been brought along as well.
And so it was that not long after the group of elites had vanished into parts strange and foreign, the last of the platinum reserves were rounded up and stolen away. Hence the day soon arrived when Trueblood soldiers searched their supplies of ore and found nothing but ordinary rocks and gravel. The warriors knew that their time of rule had come to an end.
Outnumbered by angry crowds and with no fire to throw in their defense, the unlawful tyrants of every kingdom were arrested and put on trial. The great Councils of Elders again gathered from among all the six empires, and debated the fate of the hundreds who for hundreds more years had betrayed the Trueblood vows of honor and conduct, and brought disgrace to themselves and to their families.
Old and disfigured, many still with missing limbs and wings, the outlaws stood their ground, faced the Elders and other witnesses against them, and proclaimed that they possessed no families to shame. How all had been killed during the wars, and since they were little more than the living dead themselves, their lives meant nothing to them.
At long last, the Councils pronounced their unanimous verdict; not one more dragon would die from the wars of the past. But neither would another breath of fire be throated in malice or anger. The hurling of flame was henceforth banned forever. And except for their few sacred rituals, any caught with platinum would be forever exiled from clan and kingdom. Banned for life to the wilderness wilds of the underworld’s hinterlands.
So it came to pass that all the citizens of Solana, the name chosen for the newly liberated subterraneous regions as a whole, collected the platinum stones wherever they were found. The precious rocks were dug out of every cave and stored in single, giant heaps – ominous piles that lay on the outskirts of each of the under kingdoms. As the last piece of ore was placed, the disgraced warriors would spend the balance of their lives earning the trust they had trampled upon for so long a time.
The Elders then spoke before each of the clans of each of the kingdoms, and addressed the crowds who had gathered to listen. The leaders’ words were filled with dire warnings that made hearts tremble and legs grow weak. A new order of guards were coming to each of the realms, like none ever seen by dragon or non-dragon – dangerous creatures whose duty included the slaying of any who dared tempt their sanctioned wrath.
The Elders then beseeched the dumbstruck crowds to hurry away, flee the platinum stores before it was too late to save themselves. They entreated the throngs to warn all others as to what they might see and hear. Leave these unholy places, the leaders implored the citizens of Solana’s many domains.
And so the Truebloods, filled with awe and hope, obeyed the Elders’ admonitions and left the platinum to its new and fearsome protectors. As the first swarms of the horrific creatures arrived, they leapt onto the nearest piles of the ore and took their survey of each. Stricken with terror by what they witnessed, curious dragons who yet lingered, quickly turned and fled for their lives.
Tethered by thick ropes and leashes fashioned of strong vines, more of the sneels, as they were named by those who had created them, appeared and squirmed with unearthly growls, their wormlike bodies buzzing and hissing, filling the air with strong scents born of crackling, sparking currents. Crossbred among electric eels, plus snakes and giant scorpions, the unwholesome hybrids coiled and pulled against their restraints.
Deadly stingers poised erect and menacing above the bony spikes that ringed the sneels from fanged jaws and spiked heads, to their lower ranks of millipedal legs and large forepincers. Fast, ill-tempered, and anxious to occupy the cavernous troves, the creatures were held checked by the Elementals, their masters, who followed after them with whips snapping as they went.
As the last of their collars were loosened from around the large, irregular skulls of the sneels, the hideous guards assumed their places among the others like themselves. Upon the sound of a final clap-crack of lash, the clustered creatures broke into groups of those who would keep watch, and others who would dig, but neither of whom would ever again live elsewhere.
The covert plan so devised would fulfill its formidable design. Few Truebloods ever again swallowed the forbidden fruit-of-fire. And lived to tell of it. And so it was that word soon spread how the platinum was defended by unpleasant creatures both obscene and profane, so that dragons might never again live as slaves to their own anger and suffer domination in the guise of their own kind.
Their assigned duties completed, the Elementals returned to where their creation of the sneels had been accomplished. Among the other dragons who saw them, claims were spread that the Elementals were somehow different, that they themselves had changed in ways both subtle and sublime. Unknown to all, a new plan was on the agenda of these, the most serious minded of the Truebloods. A scheme even more daring than that responsible for the sneels, but one kept secret from everyone, especially the Elders.
In a reversal of fortune, things had not gone well for the once prosperous humans who lived high above the Trueblood kingdoms below. Ruthless forces of barbarians and other men of violence had gathered outside the thick walls and heavy gates of Lemuria and Mu. Even Atlantis had come under siege, where armies of archers and lancers, backed by other advanced armaments including crystalline beam weapons, were all that kept the unruly hoards at bay. Civil men who had reached the pinnacle of enlightenment suddenly found themselves at the mercy of those who dwelt at the lowest levels of savagery and instinct.
As if the gods had grown angry with humans who aspired to be gods themselves, terrible storms then raged as the mighty ocean waters flooded the great laboratories that operated the most powerful of their weapons. When couplings of both earthquakes and tidal waves fell upon the cities, droves of survivors made good their escape in boats of every size and configuration. While the walls of the ancient cities collapsed, fierce attackers rushed in, seemingly just more of the deluges that swamped everything in their unstoppable paths.
Within the abilities of the city leaders was the power to scuttle entire continents, so mighty was their influence over the natural world. Knowing all was lost, the men of virtue who remained behind, refused that their great inventions and other technicals should be granted to men of brutish temperament. As heavy switches were thrown and massive levers pulled, many drowned in a cataclysm of the ages. In the midst of celebrating their victory, the marauding invaders could only watch as the oceans tumbled in and took them. It was the end for human civilizations everywhere as each of the continents, of Lemuria, Mu, and Atlantis, slipped below the waves.
But not everyone had perished. Those in ships had loaded them with trunks and chests inside of which were many of the sacred scrolls that spoke of science, philosophy, and agriculture. Seeds and the tools for planting, more advanced than any, all made their way to far flung, distant shores where refugees founded new settlements, sowed fields and raised livestock in what historians would mistakenly record as the true beginnings of civilized men.
Still inside caves atop the peaks of the tallest mountains, hidden behind waterfalls and living in lakes and the darkest forests, dragon stragglers, those left behind after the truce, had witnessed the fall of men and their rebirth on barren lands. Fearful of encounters with the humans, the final bastions of the upperworld firedrakes remained aloof, guarded, only occasionally spotted by those whose reports were only scoffed at.
So much was gone, the early records lost or destroyed, it was thus the case that dragons were eventually relegated solely to myth and superstition. As the great new empires and newer kingdoms, those of the Mediterranean, in Mesoamerica, Egypt and Greece, Asia and elsewhere, rose and fell during the ages that followed, the legends and lore of the firedrakes persisted. Newly formed cults and sects worshipped the creatures and included them in their religious rituals. Ridiculed by most others, some believed that dragons had indeed once lived side by side with men.
But ahead lay the present days of darkness, a most perilous time for our Order, when the great serpents again find conflict in the shadows of men’s ignorance and intolerance. These hallowed words are written hurriedly as the fires in the minds of troubled souls would seek our names and take our lives. All for daring to reveal the truth of the past and for keeping it alive.
In haste, we of the Brotherhood now finish what we can, before we cannot. What is sung by chant no longer, must then be set to parchment and the prophecy revealed. Hear ye now, the last of our words, and prithee there is yet time to write them.
Sealed off from the rest of the surface world, numbers of Truebloods came of age, lived long lives, and drew great benefit from their denial and loss of fire. Once a year, however, during the rite of Chookotah, young dragons were allowed to partake in the Branding by Flame, a solemn ritual of scaring that provided a first and last taste of the forbidden platinum ore, and served as a reminder of the grief wrought by its misuse.
As men toiled high above the caves and caverns below and strained to recover what was already known to them, the Truebloods again wandered the full span of Solana, a name that recalled the forgotten, unseen sky and sun above. As though a real dawn had risen within the core of their expansive domain, the great serpents enjoyed a temperate peace and tranquility not seen for many thousands of years.
And while the sneels snarled and hissed at any who dared gaze upon them, other new creatures, gentle and mild of manner, bounded among the underbrush, peeking over stems of bushes and between the petals of the giant orchids that flourished everywhere. The last thing any Trueblood expected to find was something they could have never imagined.
So it was that during the modern epoch, when men struggled to regain their ancient heritage and rebuild anew, the last of the above-ground Truebloods – dragons born to stubborn mothers who yet prevailed amid the foothills of history and legend – wandered the world and in futility, fought with men who slew them by spear and with arrow. Pursued and finally defeated, the existence of the firedrakes faded from a world no longer in flower, no longer willing to believe in things fantastic and magical. Things that reminded men of the elusive greatness from whence they came.
In the span of years since the last dragon was spotted by willing eyes, the stories of winged and mighty serpents, like smoke drifting from jaws filled with fire, wafted off into tales tall and full of mythic bravado. Among the ranks of humans, whether citizen, farmer, or soldier, none knew the truth of it, none suspected that beneath the sandals and boots and bare feet of men, living Truebloods yet stirred and sought a destiny shared by both.
A very old prophecy, its exact origin unknown, had long ago entered the lore and legend of both dragons and men. Said to have been before either took to war and went their separate paths, the foretelling spoke of two divided worlds linked by common bonds. A time of reckoning, long overdue and uncertain in its outcome, called to those whose minds and hearts yearned for knowledge and understanding.
And though men comprehended it not, the siren whisper that hailed them, the young and the old who were wise before their time listened to the lessons carried on the wind. Each sought out the others who had also heard, all who had felt the fateful pull of the prophecy.
It was said of this foretelling that dragon clan would unite with dragon clan, and rise against those who might yet break the truce, tear the peace asunder, and seek to destroy the Truebloods once and for all. The affair would mark the beginning of the last of days, and nothing could save the children of the world except a child. A human female would come among men and dragons alike, and show to all the great truth of the world. How the hearts of firedrakes and humans flowed with the same blood. That it was this lass whose kin had witnessed the slaying of a dragon at the hand of a man, had brought forth the lasting Pact of Peace. And it shall be the same who might mend all wounds for all time yet to come.
Should brothers under scale and skin fail to merge their differences, be unable to make the world whole again and leave unhealed the numberless wounds that have held each apart, one from the other, the prophecy speaks to the Armageddon of Old and the demise of both worlds. A great war shall once more be waged and consume the Earth in flames breathed by dragons, and from the machines of men. None would be spared in this final conflict between brethren of blood who had become as strangers, knowing not, that as the slain die, so do their slayers.
And thus it must be that a child of dragonspawn should weigh decidedly the balance between the forces above, pitted against those below. But were this innocent to perish, her life in harm's way since birth, the prophecy declares that none shall awaken from a moonless night to see the morrow’s sun.
The name of the lass is unknown to the Brotherhood, as is the time when she will again walk the Earth and be as a dragon among us. The prophecy marks a path that can be followed only by the few who might know her, and who would wish to protect her. Because many will seek her death, it is yet to be written as to who shall prevail.
But while the mighty pageants of men and of dragons went about their diligent, industrious ways, the great pillars of the Earth trembled on the precipice of a future where neither beast nor human may live to hear a single word spoken, nor see any that be written, ever again.
I, a simple monk whose name matters not, am the last of the Brothers to quill this holy tome. A hostile crowd approaches, brandishing torches and many weapons. If I delay too long, they will be upon me. I must hide the scroll and do so quickly. I know the place. My work is….