The experience of flying upon a dragon was from that moment on, permanently embedded in the deep recesses of Andril’s vast chamber of thoughts. It reappeared in his wonderings, in his dreams, and in his writings many times thereafter. He wasn’t then nor did he consider himself to be, an imagining type of person. He dealt in the arcane, and that meant we dealt in the fine and detailed minutia of what worked, and what did not. Nevertheless, when the beast he consented to hitch a ride with left the Circle Bay, and flew on to Far Realm, at some point he stopped cursing his gullibility and rejoiced in the sensation of flying like a dragon could.
When the creature would fly into a cloud for example, Andril would lose the sight of the steed’s spiny body below him and in that moment the mage could imagine he were the one flying so powerfully through the air. He had become able at that point to fly through his arcane arts if he so chose, but not like this. Expelling magical energy in order to push oneself through the air was one thing–this was a far different affair. It was natural. It was raw power. And Andril was hooked. He wondered if this was how Haryk felt when he used his instincts and his own muscular power in battle. Andril often teased the gunslinging warrior, but that did not mean he wasn’t envious or at least respectful of his abilities. In short, it was a new discovery for Andril, and new discoveries had a way of becoming long term projects.
Haryk did not look as though he felt the same way. In the hours long flight to Far Realm, the grizzled soldier had vomited several times. Tahg, the druid boy who seemed to be keeping twin dragons as secret pets, rode behind the old soldier and now covered in a light pink colored bile, wasn’t pleased with the ride either.
Andril had consented to the flight for one reason. He knew who these dragons were. They were the kin of that foul wyrm Abraxas. The ancient one himself had stolen Haryk and himself once, and then he had left them for dead recently. And Andril found himself forced to accept the notion that he was not consenting to aid the two because of his desire to kill Abraxas for his crimes to his person. Although he did plan to kill the wyrm for that very reason.
He also was not consenting to the ride so that he could escape anywhere. He was able to hide on the isles if he so chose. Or he could find passage, magical or otherwise back to the Great Realm of Cellinor. Neirther was it because he felt indebted after the dragons smote his enemies upon that ruin overlooking the great bay.
Instead, Andril had to admit that the reason he accepted the proposition that Tahg had outlined, from his very own adversary no less, was because of what he saw all around him.
The world had changed.
Not just the years, for Andril had learned briefly after exiting the portal that he had not just teleported in space, but also had done so in time. A much harder jaunt to make, time, he knew and he was one of few who could. His recent studies in Abraxas’ own laboratory had shown him, with enough energy it was possible. The requirements to harness that energy were immeasurable, but the possibility remained.
Whatever had brought him here in this space and in this time, Andril had known in the ether of that jaunt that this was the path to his own glory. And he knew that the choice he was now making was the right one. He also knew something else. The world was darker. And not by a little.
Something was off. It was in the patterns of the stars, the clustering of the three sister moons near the horizon, near the sunset. It was in the temperature of the air. These small changes may have scared the common man or at least made him pause, but to Andril, he knew that these small indicators, these patterns in minutia meant large things were coming.
And he knew one person had the answers to what it was.
Lost in his thoughts, several hours passed, which was long enough to make the ride uncomfortable again. Beneath the twin dragons, and the griffon riders at their wake, the green isles came into view below them in the gaps of the clouds. Then, they slid past like leaves floating down a stream. The many isles were like great floating puzzle pieces atop the sea.
Finally, a massive piece, like the great central portion of the puzzle completed came into view. Unlike the other puzzle pieces though, the island wasn’t green at all. It was dark grey as if it alone were in shadow. Andril thought his vision had failed for the entirety of it seemed blurred. He knew it should be Far Realm, geographically, but it was impossible to tell for there was a haze which hung all around it. They flew on and soon Andril coule see that there was nothing natural about the dark clouds. They swirled in the winds, but came back upon themselves in a sphere. It was as if a large black shadow in the shape of an orb simply settled there. The dragons dipped their wings and lowered themselves until they were just above the breaking waves of the sea. No one spoke as they neared the massive clouds of shadow which loomed ahead for no one knew for sure if it was Far Realm.
But then a tower broke through the swirling darkness and shone brightly in the fading sun. It was the grand lighthouse from Far Realm’s harbor. “Far Realm ahead!” Called out Haryk. “Welcome back Andril!”
“Let’s save the welcomes,” said Andril aloud to himelf. “For now.”
There was a sort of language between Tahg and the dragons that the mage could not understand. The beasts grunted in a gravelly sort of sound. It wasn’t like a man whose words were formed into speech by a tongue. It was in the throat, and was altogether more primal thought Andril. It resembled words to the mage but Andril felt as though the beasts were not speaking words as they were known to him. It was as if they were speaking ideas. Each sound conveyed much more than what a man could in the same speech. But Andril could not understand their speech, and then they were in flight. And the dragons did not communicate again, until just before they reached the island. They flew low along the sea, clearly in an effort not to be seen. Andril was astounded to see their wings grazing the sea. Looking over, the mage saw their leathery skin change and take on the hue of the sea. It was camouflage!
Andril looked over at Tahg who was leaning backwards atop the other dragon. He was motioning to the griffons behind him. On cure, the wing of griffonriders fell away to their right. Andril remembered that Tahg had spoken to Genoran about somethign before they had left the bay. This must have been the agreed upon result of that conversation.
Just then, one of the dragons spoke in a grunt, although Andril no longer thought of it as speaking. It’s message carried through the rustle of wind back to him. “Hold on, man,” is all it said.
Andril did as he was told, and he dug his arms and legs into the crude harness that Tahg had fashioned for him. With just enough time to see Haryk and Tahg doing the same, he lowered his body and hug the dragon’s back as closely as he dared with the spikes and steely tipped scales digging into his body. He was glad he did. For without so much as a change in direction or slowing it’s speed, the dragon dove into the dark sea, and Andril held on for dear life as his world became wet and cold and dark instantly.