Tuesday, May 27, 2008


One concept sketch for Illiath
King Alexander's Palace


The King of Illiath

Many years had passed since that night in the mysterious woods, and the boy grew in stature and wisdom. This boy, Alexander, never forgot his night in the Dragon Forest. Soon after, King Aléon of Illiath in the land of Théadril, died. Alexander inherited the kingdom and ruled with all fairness and humility as his father had before him. Years later, Alexander loved Lady Laurien of Glenthryst and the two wed. A few years later, King Alexander fathered a son. After nine years of bountiful joy together, one winter his beautiful queen became ill. The King and the Prince mourned her death.

Now, with a young son to rear and a kingdom to rule, he found himself at a crossroads. Once more evil had entered the kingdom as the inevitable rumors of war spread through the valleys and between kingdoms as the scales of the Dragon were still coveted by man.

King Alexander sought to protect the forest green and leave it in peace.


“Where is Master Peter?” asked the Steward. “He is to eat his lunch now.”

In the large steamy kitchen of the great castle, the busy servants looked at the Steward with confusion as they did not know where the lad had squandered off to this time. Always hiding from the servants who wanted him to eat or do his school work or clean his room, Peter was a master at hiding in the large castle.

The Great Palace of King Illiath sat high on a hill overlooking the different lands it governed. Many other kings thought Illiath foolish to build his castle so low to the river’s edge instead of carving it out of a mountain peak to ward off enemy attacks and sieges, but Illiath knew that in order to build his castle out of a mountain, he would have to build it away from the Dragon Forest. And this was not a possibility. He insisted the forest remain in his sights at all times. Rolling hills covered in grasses painted the landscape in green hues like an artist’s canvas. The Castle, made of grey limestone, brick, timber, and earth, took decades to complete, but it was worth the toil and labor. Illiath, King Alexander’s grandfather, for whom the kingdom was named, hired masons and stone workers from far away lands to construct a manor worthy of a King. Enormous walls surrounded the outer court as a ring of defense. Here was where the archers and foot soldiers perched with a clear field of fire in case of attack. Past the first ring of walls and towers stood the second ring of grayish stone walls and wooden gates which led to the main castle entrance. The two rings made the castle imposing and one would approach with apprehension were it not for the gates facing North, South, East, and West. These gates allowed the citizens from the nearby towns and farms to enter with leisure in order to conduct trade and commerce. Surrounding the castle was a mote dug deep and filled with river water to prevent enemy attacks over the walls. A drawbridge was constructed to be lowered when the main gate was opened to allow villagers to enter at will. The courtyard was an open thriving place of business for the people of Illiath. Here was where the stable grooms looked after the horses of the King and his Knights. The blacksmiths made horseshoes and other metal objects of use. The Armorer mended the armor and weapons of the Knights so they would always be ready for jousting games or battle. The Chaplain had his chapel next to the Solar and this is where the King had his own private quarters. The Chaplain, who led services for the King’s garrison, Knights, and squires, lived on the other side of the courtyard as did the servants in their quarters. Huntsman and falconers trained daily to perfect the hunt as they knew at anytime the King himself would join them on their next adventure for pheasant, wild boar, or duck. All the game they brought back each day would be stored in the keep next to the kitchen. The cook and his scullions prepared the food for each meal. Not only did they serve the King and his men delicious meals, but they prepared food for all the soldiers and servants. The smell of fresh bread always lingered in the courtyard as the bakers and their assistants were busy baking all day and into the night.

The wine was supplied by the vintner, and the King’s butler took charge of the wine cellar hidden far beneath the Castle’s foundation. The wine and spirits flowed every time the Knights and their squires celebrated a victory in the great hall. Amongst all the fuss and noise and business in the castle court were the women workers who spun sheep’s wool into thread to help sew up the torn uniforms of the Knights and soldiers. They made clothes for everyone who lived in the castle as well as washed the clothes and repaired them. It was a lowly job, and so the King always made sure these women and their families dined with him and his family every Harvest Moon. He appreciated all the hard work of his servants in the Palace.

Woodworkers, tax collectors, soldiers, and servants worked hastily every day as the farmers bought and sold their hogs, sheep, and goats all within the castle courtyard. It was a small city within the walls. It was a peaceful and prosperous time in the land. As each soldier stood along the outer curtain walls of the palace, they could behold the Dragon Forest to the north with all its mystery and beauty.

Peter hid in his usual place in the castle this afternoon. Still small for ten years of age with his mop top of thick brown hair, he peaked out from under the massive mahogany table in the center of the large meeting hall. The noon sun shone through the large colored cut glass of the windows and its light cast down on the checkered floors. The floors were so shiny that Peter could see his reflection in them. And he could see reflections of others too. Prince Peter knew all the perfect hiding places of the castle. For all these ten years, he had many excellent opportunities to search them out. His father was very busy fending off threats of war and attack. Peter chose this place on this day because he knew his father, the King, would be meeting here later that day.

“Caught you!” yelled the Steward as he quickly lifted the red tablecloth up to reveal the Prince.

“Time…for…lunch!” he said as he sternly took Peter’s arm and pulled him from underneath the table when the trumpets sounded. “Too late,” he mumbled. “…your father is here.”

Relieved, Peter scurried away as the Steward released his arm and stood at attention to greet the arriving King. The huge wooden doors swung open and revealed the King followed by his many knights and their servants in waiting. Their armored bodies clanged loudly as they walked by, and their armored shoes clicked along the floors of the entryway making such a clamorous commotion that all the nearby servants peaked out from behind the walls to see what was happening. Their faces were serious and rigid, leaving the impression that this meeting was most urgent.

“My Lord,” the Steward said as he bowed his head toward the King who hurried by him. He noticed a distressed look on the King’s face. He then turned to see if, by chance, Peter was still nearby. But, alas, it was no use. The Prince was off to find another hiding place.

“Attention!” the head knight exclaimed as they all entered into the great hall to hear what the King had to say.

The hall was grand indeed. The ceilings, almost fifty feet high, loomed over a large painting of The Dragon Forest on one wall and the beautiful portrait of the Queen fair on the other wall behind the King’s throne. Great arches framed the doorways and halls. Long velvet drapes hung alongside the entryway held open with cords of fine silk thread. The walls near the entrance were decorated with royal crests of each of the ten rulers made from hammered steel and framed in mahogany wood. A few sets of full armor suits stood by the crests as memorials to past armor designs of Alexander’s father and grandfather. Standing in the middle of the Great Hall, stood a large table big enough to fit all the King’s knights around it. A thick and heavy red table runner with the King’s crest stitched in gold upon it lay on the table. Fine tapestries hung near the windows. Gifts from overseas, they were brought by visiting dignitaries. Burning torches lit up the great room. On this particular day, all of the Knights eagerly gathered around without patience even to sit. Their armor reflected the light of the torches and candles sending streams of light bouncing throughout the room. It was an awesome sight to see these warriors together in one room. Peter found it hard to conceal his delight.

The King’s forehead was wrinkled and his mouth formed a solid frown, for he had been to a secret meeting with one of his spies earlier that day. And the news was not good-the most distressing news was about the illusive Lord Caragon and his plans. The King shared this news with his men.

“My Lord, we must have those scales!” his head Knight shouted as he pounded his fist on the large table. The crash of fist meeting table sent a loud echo throughout the hall. All their eyes were on the King.

Sir Peregrine, the head Knight, had been the King’s most noble and, indeed, his bravest knight for many years. He had fought alongside Alexander when he was still a young Prince in the Battle of Cornshire. It was this battle that impressed the young Prince to name Peregrine his head Knight once he became King. Knighting Peregrine was one of the first acts of Alexander’s rule. Now the two of them faced possible war again. The King was glad his brave friend was beside him once more. With Sir Peregrine on his side, he felt they could win any battle.

“It is our only chance,” another knight replied. The Knights looked worried and agitated. “Here, here!” the others shouted in one voice.

Many of the King’s Knights lived outside the kingdom in their own nearby estates. They had earned the respect of the local villagers for they were men of great wealth and prestige. Now they were gathering once again with their King to have their voices heard.

Peter, listening and watching from up on the balcony near his room, overheard the knights’ words. He couldn’t believe what he had heard and he gasped. Hoping they did not hear him, he continued to listen as his father explained his plans to his knights. Peter’s hands were tightly wrapped around the stair rails as he pondered the idea of an impending war with all its consequences and destruction to the lands.

Sir Peregrine laid out his detailed plans. He desired to take some archers and foot soldiers and enter into the Dragon Forest to capture the Dragon for the kingdom in order to have the scales for themselves.

“The enemy must not have them, sire.” He explained as he walked around the large table. “If they obtain those scales before we do, all is lost.” His silver armor glistened in the light of the many candles above them. Of all the King’s Knights, he was by far the bravest, having won every joust and battle for the King and kingdom.

“You would dare enter into the forest where no man has entered before and lived to tell his tale?” the King asked. “Well, no one except one boy…” he smiled.

Peregrine stood silent.

“All is not lost,” the King said. “We must not take what is not ours.”

He paced the great hall as his men discussed the news. Their voices were getting louder and louder as their frustration grew. The King understood their desire for the scales and for battle. Lo these many years, they have gone without war and the idleness of peace has caused some of them to dangerously lust for war while others, blindly led by their complacency, craved peace. But a wise King must always hesitate to reflect before going into any battle. He must carefully weigh the costs involved. There is a high price for this kind of wisdom that every King must face…alone. Inside his head, the King found himself standing before the portrait of his late wife. Gazing into her lovely face, he missed her wise counsel. As he stood still, he could almost hear her voice. In the fine portrait, her long black hair lay across her bare shoulders of white skin and he could almost smell her scent of wild cornflowers and lavender.

His thoughts then turned to their son and all the families in the village. As King, it was up to him to protect those families. As he turned to make his way back to the table, he saw the large painting of the Dragon Forest across the room. Its beauty was mystifying as well. Its haunting presence had been with him all his life. What lay inside the wall of trees was unknown to all except the young boy who grew to be King. He stared at the massive, detailed painting in its enormous frame covered with gold. He could almost smell the mist. The memory of the black crow and its “caw” stirred him from his trance. He realized his men were staring at him now in silence. With head down and hands folded behind his back, he cautiously walked over to the table. Finally, the King spoke.

“We have truth and honor on our side,” he said as he looked at the large grand painting of the Dragon Forest once again. “With these attributes, as well as justice for our shield, we will not fail. We will not be defeated.”

“Here, here!” the loyal Knights shouted in agreement.

“I, as King, have the awesome responsibility to protect all the people of the village. I have sworn my life to the cause. Therefore, I must weigh all the costs involved in war. It is a heavy task indeed. One I do not take lightly,” the King finished.

Tapping his gloved fingers on the table, Sir Peregrine sat somberly and patiently listed. Avarice deep inside his heart for the scales of the Great Dragon had changed him. It was incomprehensible to him that his King wanted to protect the beast he had never seen at all costs only because of a legend and myth told to him long ago. He wanted to say this to Alexander, but he knew it was of no use. No one could change the King’s mind once it was made up. Still, he wondered how he could continue to serve a King he no longer believed in.

He looked around the table searching for the eyes of those who were in agreement with him and gave them a signal. They nodded in approval.

Peregrine stopped tapping his finger.

“But I am afraid you do not see the urgency of this moment!” Peregrine offered to the King as he stood. “We know Lord Caragon is already devising a plan to enter into the forest, strike the Dragon, and use the scales against us. We are defenseless without those scales. There is only so much we can do to protect the land.”

Many Knights nodded in agreement.

The King would not relent.

“We will go to war to defend our land, but we will not take what is not rightfully ours in order to do it. We can stand on our own…and we will!” The King shouted.

His beloved friend looked on with anger. Something had happened in that instant between the two men. The King thought it just a disagreement, but Peregrine saw it as the beginning of the end.

Peter’s heart began to race in his chest and he could hardly stand still. He wished he could be part of this meeting. He felt he was ready to stand with his father. His fists tightened around the stair posts even tighter than before until his knuckles were white and his fingers ached. He watched a little while longer as they argued on into the afternoon.

He ran to his room and opened the window that overlooked The Dragon Forest.

There it was. His window framed the forest now as some sort of gilt frame around a painting in the hall. The sun was lower in the sky and the trees were a dark green. It looked so mysterious and yet so ordinary at the same time. He had stared at the forest since he could peak out this window. He could still hear his mother’s voice telling him all the secrets of the Dragon and its lair. He picked up his small wooden sword in his hands. Looking out at the great forest green, he dreamed.

All his life he had heard the tales of the forest and the Dragon who lived there. Tales he heard from his father, his mother, the servants, and the Knights swarmed in his head. He had wished he could fight alongside his father in battle, but he was still too young. He lined up his stuffed toys and wooden soldiers along his bed and told them of his plans for battle. They listened to their master in silence. He grabbed his sword and raised it high above his head. He then pretended to fight the Dragon as his toys looked on. His sword sliced through the air as he imagined slaying the mighty beast and taking its scales. He climbed up on his bed as if climbing a mountain. He leaped down as if charging the great Dragon. He raised his sword and stabbed the great beast with one fatal blow. It was done. The kingdom was saved. Then he climbed on his soft feather bed, lay down, and dreamed of what real battle must be like.

“I wish I could slay dragons, don’t you?” he asked his toys, but they remained silent.

Their silence was deafening. He stared at them wishing he had someone to talk to. His toys never laughed with him or made up games to play with him. He rolled over and stared out the window as he dreamed of what was out there. Hours had passed and the sun was low in the vast sky casting long shadows throughout the room. Light bounced off the bed and the shelves in Peter’s room as he daydreamed.

He remembered when he and his father would play together in his room. They would laugh and play until they were so tired they could not laugh anymore.

But, lately, his father had been so busy with things about the kingdom that they had very little time together. He missed his father. He wished he had an adventure. He wished he had a friend.

Then the Dragonslayer fell asleep.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


The Mysterious Woods

Many have asked where I got the idea for this book. I have been working on it off and on since 1989. My husband was in the USMC and we were stationed in North Carolina. He was gone most of that summer on different short term trips with the squadron he worked for, so I found myself alone on those rainy afternoons.
I would go to the library on base almost everyday and check out all sorts of books. One time I checked out a book about illustrating children's books. Once I read through it, I realized I could easily write a children's book. I was naive...

I decided to write down a couple of ideas I had for a book:

a boy and a dragon
a porcupine and a cactus

The dragon book came to me faster than the other so I went with it. I wrote down a brief synopsis and then did some sketches. Over time, the idea changed many many times until finally I settled on one idea.

Then, years later when we moved back to Phoenix, AZ., we had a son. So, the book was placed on the back burner as my son took all my time and energy.

When he was 6, I told him my book idea and he liked it. That gave me hope that maybe my idea was a good one. So, the book idea was brought back out again and I tossed around different scenarios.

When my son was 8, we read The Chronicles of Narnia books and watched the Lord of the Rings movies. These books and movies gave me more ideas for my book, but it truly was the stories from the Bible that impacted me the most. Stories of covenant oaths, loyalty and fidelity to those oaths, and the sacrifice of oneself for others all came together in my story.

The legend of King Arthur also impacted my book with its tale of the quest to restore the kingdom and lands.

When my son turned 10, he pretty much forced me to get to work on the book and he even provided me movie music to help stimulate my creativity and ideas as I wrote. He's the best!

Finally, this year I finished the book and sent it to be copyrighted. I am already on chapter 2 on the second book and it is coming along nicely.

Well, that's it in a nutshell! I hope you enjoy the story and my illustrations. My prayer is to have it published and available in early 2009.


Here is chapter one. I may add a few changes to it, but so far this is what will be published...


The Mysterious Woods

The trees that stood on guard in the forest were nothing extraordinary in appearance with their deep green hue that drew cautious approaches by the villagers. But within the forest green was something more beautiful, more mysterious than anything else in all the lands surrounding it. No one alive could describe it. For no man had entered and lived to tell. Yes, outwardly, the forest was nothing to behold, but inwardly…the mystery deepened.


The young boy felt the chill of the wind strike his face. His muscular steed trampled the earth beneath his body. The tan horse with white mane galloped with the confidence of a champion over the grasses. Together they rode in desperation to try and make it home in time for dinner. The boy feared his father would be angry if he was late. He had forgotten the time while he hunted in the green hills of the valley with his trusted quiver and arrows. His empty quiver dangled on his back. The arrows had long run out and with no game in his sack to show for his hunt, so he decided to return quickly while a sliver of sun still remained on the horizon.

Its neck wet with foamy sweat, the horse tried to keep riding while the boy tugged on the reigns to stop. Finally, the beast reluctantly obeyed. The boy stood by the entrance of the forest as the colorful leaves swirled in the breeze. The enigmatic woods, the great mystery of his youth, remained quiet. A small wooden sign splintered with age, windstorms, and rainfall through the years, with letters scrawled in black paint stood near the path. The boy stooped to try and read the faded words. Beware the Dragon Forest. He placed his fingers along the grain of the wood, but he did not heed its warning to trespassers. The boy knew it from legend. He hesitated. .

He could feel the change and smell the dampness in the autumn air. The wind blew colder. Snow is coming, the boy thought. He gazed up at the towering trees staring back down at him in a menacing way, or was it his over active imagination? The sun continued to set. He knew he had to make a decision quickly because the day would soon give way to nightfall. He decided to risk entering the forest in order for his horse to drink of the lake. The boy knew of the legend, but he did not fear what was inside the mighty wooden columns whether it be a temple for a Dragon or not. The forest somehow seemed to call to him.

No, he did not fear...at least, not yet.

The trees towered over him and hid the departing sun and, suddenly, it became very dark. The indigo mist rose in the darkness from behind the trees. Black crows hovered over the tree tops in their undisguised disapproval. Black as midnight they flew. He tried to remember the mythology of the crows. One crow is a bad omen, the boy thought. Or was it two? He saw the mist all around the lake and slowly led his horse to drink. With each footstep, the mist gave way to reveal the dark earth beneath them. They heard the soft breeze echo across the width of the blue waters and the echoes of the horse’s hooves clomping in the moist dirt below. His horse stirred. The clouds had parted to reveal the waxing moon. Its partial face glowed a white light glaring down as a sort of spotlight guiding the way to the lake. Rising high above the trees, the moon caused the trees to cast the blackest of shadows all around them in a web-like pattern on the ground. The boy felt like trapped prey waiting for a spider as he made his way out of the shadows and into the clearing. From time to time the crows entered into the white light of the partial moon. Fear began to penetrate the boy’s brave façade until, finally, he surrendered.

A chill moved across his flesh. His horse hesitated and neighed nervously. The boy questioned his decision to enter in, and he quickly changed his mind. In his repentance, he turned to mount his steed to quickly leave this place, but as he turned, he lost his way and could not remember from where he entered the forest. The trees, with their black bark, seemed to have engulfed him and hid the point of his entrance. Could it be that they were watching our every move? He thought.

He became even more dismayed with this thought as the wind became colder on his skin. Jumping down off his horse, he sat down by a tree and realized his escape would not happen. His body stiffened as the thought of what was out in the night paralyzed him. Together the two watched as the mist grew denser all around the lake like a thick veil. Is this the great creature’s breath? He wondered. He now feared that he had proof of the Dragon his father had warned him about, but now his father was far away and was most definitely very angry with him.

He closed his eyes in deep thought. His room with its soft feather bed and warm pillow ran through his mind. He closed his eyes even tighter and pictured the window of his room yellow and glowing warmly from the lantern placed beside his bed. He missed his toy soldiers carved from wood and his little wooden sword. Oh how he wished he had it with him at this moment. All he had was his bow, an empty quiver, and nothing to show for his hunt. His stomach growled when he thought of the smells of the kitchen and the warmth of its fire. His belly ached from emptiness as he thought of all the wonderful food. Oh, how he missed the food!

Just then his father’s face appeared and he opened his eyes. He missed his father most of all.

Suddenly, with eyes wide open, he heard a slow elongated hiss from behind him. It startled him, and the wind blew through the trees causing a black crow to flutter away. He jumped at the sound of the wings fluttering and the “caw” of the obnoxious black bird. The tree, with its scary web-like shadows on the ground, enveloped the boy and his horse as the branches rose up across the black sky lit only by white moonlight. What is going to happen to me now? he thought to himself.

He shivered as the breeze touched his bare forearms so he wrapped his small arms tightly around his bent legs until his knees were under his quivering chin. His horse stood nearby and he was still. Its eyes looked back and forth through the trees. It sensed something was near. Realizing he would have to stay in the forest all night until the sun came up, he sighed from frustration. Daybreak seemed forever away. Oh, come quickly bright sun! the boy thought as he closed his eyes.

Just then, from behind him he heard the same hissing sound. It was nearer to him now. He felt something deep within his soul tell him that someone or something was watching him. He turned and quickly asked, “Who is there?!”

No one answered. The blue mist was all around him now.

“Who is there, I say?” He asked again, but only the wind whispered through the trees. “My father is the King!” He hoped this would scare away any robber barons hoping to harm him.

Suddenly, and as quickly as the blinking of an eye, there before him was a small fire burning. He jumped to his feet and watched the orange fire glow cut through the darkness. He supposed it came from the trees nearby, but how? He looked all around but saw no one. The only sound he heard was the flickering of the flames. Smoke rose high into the night sky as the small fire illuminated the trees surrounding it. All he saw was the detail of the tree trunks in the orange glow of the firelight. They weren’t monsters waiting to wrap him in their looming arms. They were just trees, after all.

Something on the ground sparkled in the firelight as he looked down at his feet. A small scale glistened in the fire glow. Sparkling like a jewel on the ground, the boy wondered if it could be a dragon’s scale. He picked it up and admired it closely. He put the scale in his pocket for safekeeping.

He felt the fire’s warmth as he sat down beside it. The fire gave him comfort from the darkness and cold wind. He watched the orange sparks cast off from the twigs of the fire twirl high into the air traveling ever higher and higher like the fireflies of summer. The boy saw a few stars in the sky and felt assurance that all would be fine while somehow the trees hanging overhead no longer frightened him. Instead, they made him feel safer. He blinked harder and harder as his eyelids grew heavier. He watched the flames dance into the night sky above him and his horse. He slowly lay down next to the fire and soon fell asleep. His loyal horse kept guard over the small boy’s sleeping frame as the fire remained safely lit all that night.

The next morning, the boy awoke to the sound of his horse nearby scraping the ground with its hoof munching on some grass. Only smoke rose from where the small fire had been. Realizing it had been extinguished, he looked around the quiet forest. Only a few brown sparrows rushed from the trees into the morning sky above them. A brilliant blue sky greeted him as a slight breeze filled with the moisture of morning dew blew across his face. The smell seemed familiar. It smelled like home. His horse whinnied in a friendly way and shook its head. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, the boy mounted his rested horse and inspected the small space where he had slept. Then, grabbing the reins to steady his horse, he turned it left and looked over to see the blue mist that hovered there above the lake. The sight was beautiful. The peacefulness and tranquility gave the boy an overwhelming feeling of safety. He remembered.

“Thank you.” He softly whispered to no one he could see, but he had an idea, a feeling deep within, that the legend of the Dragon just might be true. He felt a presence. This thought gave him comfort, but only for a moment. He knew now he must return to his father who waited not knowing where his son was that morning. He could almost see his father pacing back and forth from fear.

He yanked the reins right and saw there in front of him, the very spot where he and his horse had entered into the forest. He wondered why he hadn’t seen it the night before. The winds blew and more birds sprang forth from the tree tops welcoming the warmth of the morning sun. Then the boy, with hands tightly grasping the leather reins, gave a gentle kick on his horse’s side. Together they quickly rode off in between the majestic trees. The black crows still circled overhead, but they remained silent as they watched.

Riding quickly over grassy hills and through the villages, the boy never looked back at the Dragon Forest.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Which cover design do you like?

Let me know.....

The master elf, a smith by trade, waited for special instructions from the two strangers standing in the entrance of the cave. Their faces, lit only by the fire pits being stoked by the elves, seemed tense.

“You must do this work now,” the stranger said, handing him a carved box. “And you must do it quickly.”

The master elf nodded and took the elaborate box and opened it. Inside the box was a sword. He took it into his hands. The blade glistened. The handle, made of ivory, felt good in his grip. He turned the blade over and noticed the intricate design, a most rare filigree he had never seen before. He studied it closely.

“Where did you get this?” he asked.

The stranger shook his head nervously.

“That is of no concern to you,” he said.

“I knew this was a mistake,” the second stranger spoke. “He will discover us.”

The elf, tall and thin with long white hair braided over his shoulders, adjusted his robe to protect himself from the cold. He studied the anxious strangers and motioned for them to follow him into the cave.

“I will do this work,” he said. “Follow me.”


In the beginning stood the mountains rising out of the western lands blocking out the sun as it set casting a long black shadow over the desert plains. Upon seeing the sight, the first settlers named the mountains “The Black Hills” when they compared the silhouette of the mountains against the violet sky of sunset. They surveyed the lands, the rolling grassy hills, the flatlands for farming, nourished by a river of blue waters, and hemmed in by a mysteriously dark green forest standing to the north.

Here the kingdom Théadril rose out of the dry desert plains east of the Black Hills encompassing the vast grasslands heading out toward the sea. And it was here that the settlers, men and women and children, began their work. It was here they came after fleeing the darkened lands behind the mountains to claim their own region where they bravely evaded the menacingly dark presence by passing through the elfin kingdom of Vulgaard and by traipsing through the great mountain gorges, until finally finding their paradise. Time and again this kingdom of man stood firm against invasion from the west by enemies who sought to destroy all that had been built.

In those early years, ten leaders arose and divided ten regions. Certain boundaries were set, as they always are where land is concerned, in which one region faced the sea while another took the hills to the northwest. One region claimed the desert plains and more took the eastern lands.

But one particular leader claimed the grassy hills facing the green forest for reasons unknown. Deagan of Illiath and his family obtained the land south of the forest for themselves. Each region, with its own customs and traditions, still came together as one when called upon. These lands and the people therein shaped the kingdom of Théadril much as it is found to this day if it is found at all. It was at this time when leaders chose to chronicle their lives in the kingdom as they had learned from the Elves who had mastered the art of letters. This is how the history of Théadril had come to be long before it passed into legend, long before legend passed into myth.

One thousand years had passed in the land as peace reigned. In the later years, large castles of grey stone were built by the rulers of the ten regions where they faced the endless sieges of the dark knights named Baroks, their wolf-like Zadoks they used to attack, and, of course, the dragons.

These monstrous flying beasts, with black talons and leathery wings spanning several feet, would swoop down and breathe their fire onto the farmlands destroying everything in their paths: all the harvest as well as the villagers. Occasionally, the ogres from the desert plains pilfered sheep, and the trolls from the mountains alarmed the regions with their brooding packs, but nothing caused more grief than the threat of the Dragon.

But one Dragon stood out from among the many. Year after year it rested within its cathedral of trees in the forest green north of the kingdom of Illiath, son of Deagan. Appearing only to protect Théadril from certain doom, this Dragon destroyed all the Baroks with their black armor and kept the ogres and trolls to their own country in the desert hills. Because it protected the people, it earned the respect of the villagers and certain Kings, but it instilled fear in the hearts of the other dragons, keeping them at bay. The harvest was allowed to grow. The people were allowed to rule. Peace had come to Théadril.

The ten rulers of each region gathered together annually to seek counsel from the great Dragon of the forest for they knew only the Dragon could help them keep the peace.

But, as with all kingdoms of man, the peace did not last. The vanity of man entered into the hearts of the rulers who sought power to rule over their lands without the help of the Dragon. All turned to their own ways except one: King Illiath. He ruled with humility and taught his son, Aléon, the ways of the Dragon Forest. And as a result, only he and his heirs could enter into the forest realm.

At this time, the rulers of Théadril sought more powerful weapons from the hands of the mystical Lord Bedlam for they feared the rulers across the seas. Lord Bedlam, a mysterious ruler from the far west lands near Vulgaard, had survived the darkened times that caused the settlers to flee for their lives. Some say he survived with title and lands in tact because he entered into accord with the darkness. With his sorcerer’s ways, Lord Bedlam forged great weapons of war as the rulers fought against neighboring kingdoms for wealth and more power.

With time, each ruler died one by one, passing onto their heirs the desire for power. But when Illiath died, he passed to his heir, Aléon, respect of earth and of the Dragon. Aléon did not trust Lord Bedlam for good reason: Lord Bedlam sought the scales of the Dragon for himself. For the scales of the Dragon were more powerful than any weapon forged by man.

In order to show his respect for Théadril, Lord Bedlam bestowed great and wonderful gifts to the sons of the ten rulers.

Ten swords were given. Ten Kings stood together and vowed to respect the lands and live in peace.

Glaussier the Brave

Aléon, Son of Illiath

Baldrieg, Son of Glenthryst

Théadron, Son of Ulrrig

Mildrir the Warrior

Byron, Son of Gundrehd

Beátann the Wise

Hildron the Mighty

Niahm, Son of Egan,

Naál, Son of Leámahn

After the swords were graciously bestowed upon the rulers, Lord Bedlam retreated to his land where he lived in quiet solitude. All was well within the kingdom once again as the sun rose and set on many prosperous days. But wise Aléon was not deceived by the impressive swords of Bedlam with their intricate designs carved into the steel blades. Hiding his sword away deep inside his castle, he waited patiently for the appointed time to use it in war.

Over time, a change came to the land. Subtle at first, many storm clouds hovered in the air above the land as a strange darkness approached. The moon remained new and the winds blew cold. There were no more harvests and the stench of death was thick in the air as the people began to starve. Then the people remembered the legend of their fathers about the darkness that caused them to flee. But Aléon, son of Illiath, questioned the strange phenomenon as he suspected Bedlam. So he ordered a meeting of the ten rulers.

But the vanity of man is a powerful thing. The ten rulers refused to listen to the reason of Aléon, for they loved the weapons of Bedlam and the power they wielded. With no where else to turn, Aléon sought the counsel of the Dragon. And in its counsel, Aléon was warned of the coming of war.

Lord Bedlam deceived the Kings and, in his betrayal, met them in battle, vowing to destroy the Dragon Forest. But when he reached the threshold of the forest, it was the Dragon who put the siege to an end. Bedlam was spared. He fled and the darkness lifted.

Three rulers fell, but seven held fast. After the wars when they buried their dead, the seven rulers came together and swore an oath. Never again would they put their lust for power ahead of the land and the people. Together they vowed to protect the Dragon Forest at all costs and leave it in peace. They vowed never to enter into its realm.

As they stood beneath the stars on the highest hill in the kingdom of Théadril, raising their swords into the sky, they sealed the covenant of Théadril with their words, with their swords, and with their blood.

Seven swords remained. Seven rulers returned to their lands:

Glaussier the Brave

Aléon, Son of Illiath

Baldrieg, Son of Glenthryst

Théadron, Son of Ulrrig

Mildrir the Warrior

Byron, Son of Gundrehd

Beátann the Wise

Three swords were lost.

This is the legend of Théadril, the legend of the Dragon. As the years came and went, the legend became myth, and the myth passed into history. The legend was written down in a book for posterity. But as generations of Théadril passed on leaving behind no remembrance of the swords or the covenant or the Dragon, the legend was soon forgotten.

When the skies grow dark, some say it is the coming of winter, but others say it is Bedlam returning for the harvest, to claim the scales of the Dragon. The time of the Dragon has come to an end. The time of man is only beginning.

….and the Dragon Forest remains.