As promised, here is part one of the prologue of THE NEW AGE, the third and final book of the Erth Dragons series. I’ve been wanting to show this for ages, mainly because it’s another chance to get a glimpse of two of my favourite firebird characters from Fire World (book six of The Last Dragon Chronicles). Those of you who’ve read the Chronicles will know that the firebirds live in a strange building known as the ‘Librarium’, which is filled with an infinite array of books that detail the events of everything in the known universe. The firebirds not only guard the books, they also monitor time and space and are alert to any ‘ripples’ that might occur in the timelines, which they will usually attempt to fix. Dragons, of course, can manipulate time and space to some extent. They are often the biggest source of problems for the firebirds, as below…
THE NEW AGE Prologue Part 1: What Aurielle Chased
Floor 47 of The Great Librarium
Time period: Undefined
Wind. It always worried Aurielle whenever there was wind around the Librarium. Sunshine, she loved. All firebirds did. It brought out the best of their brightly-coloured plumage. She didn’t mind the rain when it came, either. Rain made the daisies grow and brought a welcome freshness to the air. It also left pools on the great stone sills in which she could dip her fluffy cream feathers to wash out the dust from the books. There were a lot of books in a building as tall and lean as this, and an awful lot of dust.
But wind. Wind moved things around. It played with the dust motes and made the aged bookshelves creak. It also made the daisies bend, making it harder to spot irregular patterns evolving in the timelines. A junior firebird’s most important duty was to monitor glitches in the spacetime continuum. Wind could be a serious nuisance.
Raising her long hooked beak, Aurielle glanced at the sky for a moment. The clouds were puffy and mostly still, sitting happy in the blue infinity. Yet there was a definite ripple in her ear tufts. And ripples in ear tufts could not be ignored. She drummed her claws and hopped a little closer to the edge of the sill, so she could see the daisy fields better. Time was running smoothly all over the universe, except for a tiny wiggle in the sector belonging to the dragon world, Ki:mera. That made her heart pump a little bit faster. Dragons were the only creatures other than firebirds who were allowed to phase across the verges of space. Whenever dragons got involved in timeline disruptions, there was always. . .well, there was always trouble.
She sat back and pondered a little. Should she go and wake Azkiar from his nest of twigs on Floor 108? He wouldn’t be happy to be woken, but then he never was. Sometimes she wondered if the only true benefit of rising up the Librarium floors was that you simply got to sleep more often and were allowed to be grumpier when you woke. All the same, if an Event was forming, especially one that might involve dragons, a senior firebird ought to be told.
She stood up and spread her wings. At the very same moment, a gust struck. A proper blow of wind that whined as it wrapped itself around the Librarium. She heard a thud and looked back into the room. Zooks! A row of books had tipped to one side. The tiny spiracles in Aurielle’s neck nearly popped. As she turned for another look at the daisy fields, an object flapped past her. It was thin and papery and fluttery and free.
A single page had escaped from a book.
There was no time to gasp (though the Librarium kindly allowed her some); she had to catch that page and check its contents. Oh, it led her on a merry flight! Room after Room. Floor after Floor. This shelf. That shelf. So much dust! Up, up, up she went, paying no attention to how high she was flying. Until, of all the places the page might land, it skipped through a window on Floor 108 and draped itself over Azkiar’s nest.
Aurielle skidded to a halt. Oops.
Azkiar rose up very slowly, stretching his bright red wings. He dragged the page off his beak. He did not look happy.
‘What?’ he said, catching sight of Aurielle. Azkiar was a bird of very few words. There was an infinite supply of words all around him. Why add excessively to the count?
‘There was a gust!’ she panted, flapping her wings in a circular motion. ‘I need to see which book that page came from!’
Azkiar sighed and cast his eye over it.
As was his way with words, the senior firebird had very few changes of expression. Aurielle thought she had seen them all. She was wrong. She had never seen him pale before. And that wasn’t easy for a bird with deep red plumage.
‘Graven,’ he muttered.
Aurielle gulped. Her tail feathers began to quiver. Graven? The fallen son of the dragon deity, Godith? Long, long ago he’d been banished (in part) to a planet called Erth for accidentally killing his brother, G’restyn.
‘This can only mean his heart has been found,’ said Azkiar. ‘You’d better study this.’
He crunched the page between his claws and threw it into the air. It rolled out its header for Aurielle to read:
Chronicle #264986343: The Day of Moons
Underneath the header was a myriad of i:mages.
Azkiar blew on the first and a scene played out.
Aurielle watched it through twice. After the second play, she said, ‘We’re going to need a plan to deal with this, aren’t we?’ A very BIG plan, she thought.
She was wondering how Azkiar meant to go about it, when he settled back into his nest and said, ‘The page came from a book in your sector. For some reason, the Librarium wants you to repair this.’
‘Me?’ she squawked.
‘You,’ he repeated, when his ear tufts had recovered. He collapsed the web of i:mages into a sheet and handed the page back. ‘Get on to it. Immediately. And Aurielle.’
‘Try not to mess it up. . .’
If I’m allowed to, I’ll put up part two of the prologue nearer to publication time. In part two, you get to see the contents of the page that Aurielle reads… All the best for now. Happy New Year everyone. Hrrr!