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Artifice: Episode One


“As obscure as ever”, he joked fondly, “but what am I to do with it?”
-Watch-, came the reply, as she held out a taloned claw and beckoned for the item to be
returned.
He handed the strange rock back, and watched as she walked over to a stone arch that
seemed to be haphazardly embedded with an odd, blue crystal.
Mag then stood in front of the arch, closed her eyes, and contorted her face as if in deep
concentration.
Rheus watched on, confident that she wouldn’t put him in any danger. Plus, his curiosity had
gotten the better of him, mainly due to the fact that the portal she was attempting to open didn’t
require any strange rocks to activate, and, furthermore, that portal was supposed to only be
coupled to his quarters. He continued watching as the portal slowly triggered; the outer arch
glowing an incandescent blue, and the inside a swirling mass of white light. The swirling mass of
light gradually dimmed and coalesced into a shimmering window, allowing Rheus to see the
portal’s destination.
It was most certainly not his quarters.
***
Admittedly, it wasn’t a very big dragon. Not like the ones in stories, at least. Still, the
creature was not minute, and appeared to be just over eight feet tall. A crocodilian head sat
perched atop an elongated neck, and intently stared at John with dark blue reptilian eyes. The
creature’s skin – or were those scales? – was nearly pitch black with a hint of dark purple.
Glancing over the creature’s shoulder, John saw what appeared to be wings folded along its back
and draped along the floor like a cape. All in all, he didn’t care much for his chances should the
creature prove to be hostile.
Now, when put face to face with an eight foot tall dragon, most people would have taken
stock of the situation and bolted like the wind. Thanks to last night, however, John was still a
little worse for wear, and took a moment to fully comprehend what his eyes were seeing.
These few seconds also gave him time to notice that Penny and Em were on either side of
him, also looking at the strange creature – and wagging their tails. Also, a strangely dressed man
with a prodigious beard appeared to be off to one side of the scene. Still, the fac t that he was
almost face to face with a dragon dulled the need to find out why the man appeared to be
wearing a bathrobe.
He glanced over to the man and waved with as friendly a smile as he could muster given the
circumstances, all the while hoping that he wouldn’t order his pet dragon to devour him. The
man returned his gesture with a slightly puzzled smile and a wave of his own.
-Safe-
He jumped back a step. The word had seemed to come from the creature, but its maw had
not moved an inch.
-Safe-, the voice repeated.
“Um… Hi?”
-Yes-
”Um… did you just speak to me?” John asked, pointing to himself.
-Yes-
”Um… what do you want?”
-Come-
“Me?” John asked, pointing to himself again.
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