I slipped into a dream.
I woke up as a citizen of Soma.
I live in the northern peninsula near the Brachial Rivers. I leave my home in the morning, just as I do every day, to work in my designated profession. Everyone in the village is talking about the invasion in the southern regions of our island. I hear their chatter as I make my way to my workshop on the other end of the dusty town. Many are worried that Soma’s Defenders are losing the battle. Reports of blackened lands and loved ones lost have been arriving daily for the past few weeks.
The Neutrophil Berserkers are flooding the southlands, leaving their birthing creches of the Marrow Labyrinths deep within the Skeleton Mountains of the east. Thousands surge into the south in great waves but none have returned. The Ancients of Sententia have supplicated our gods that a warrior be sent. But our gods are shrewd and never send a warrior unless our enemy is named.
The attacking creatures of the south are rumored to be dragons. The beasts are relatives of the very same golden dragons that live in the Narees Caverns of the north but also live in rocky alcoves of the Outer Wall. I had always thought of them as docile creatures, never invading inland. Yet, some of the older men of my village remember a time long ago that the golden dragons flooded our northern peninsula after a crack had formed in the Outer Wall, but the Defenders fought valiantly and destroyed them.
The dragons were different then, the elders make sure to mention – flightless, smaller, and without the ferocity that the invading creatures seem to have in the southland. A man from one of the Red Ships mentioned that the people in the south are calling the dragon swarm “Merrsa” or something to that effect. And so “Merrsa” is the name the Ancients have whispered to the gods.
It is as I am about to step into my workshop when a boy comes running into the square shouting frantically, “They have heard us! They have heard us!”
The local blacksmith is nearby and catches the boy before he can collapse from exhaustion. The child looks up at the blacksmith and gasps, “It was the Dragonslayer, Vancomycin! I saw him appear on the riverbank just south of here. He looked just like the old stories said he would. He moved like lightning, he did! He ran south, along the Dark Brachial River!”
The village remains silent. Everyone within earshot has frozen in time, it seems. Looks of worry, fear, and some of relief are scattered throughout the crowd. Most know that if the Dragonslayer has answered the call, the threat is great and the situation dire in the south. Much worse than we could have ever imagined.
The boy, surprised by the muted responses of the villagers looks to the blacksmith again and asks, “He will save us, won’t he?”
Head raised and staring hard toward the south he answers, “I hope so, son. I pray to the gods that he does.”