Wraith Lords of Zeiglon by Steve Stephenson
In book two of the War of the Staffs trilogy, vampire lord Taza continues to weave intense dark spells in a demonic attempt to find the missing piece of the Staff of Adaman and bring the magical world of Muiria under his evil control. Taza uses a dark warlock named Melgor to find and destroy Taza’s nemesis, the great wizard Celedant, who accompanies Prince Tarquin on a dangerous quest to find the missing staff, encountering horrific attacks by earthly and inhuman assailants.
Targeted Age Group:: All Audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This is the logical follow up to War of the Staffs a short story I started for a creative writing class in high school. I loved the first story so much that I left unfinished plot lines at its end. It is the natural progression of the epic story and the adventures of the companions as they complete their quest.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I normally create them in my head. I shape their back story and then my mind runs away with the project. A good example is Hority the odiferous dwarvan monk who worships garbage. That one came out of nowhere and was the funniest character I've had the privilege to develop.
One night after the evening meal when everyone was asleep, Eldahir took the first shift of guard duty. Celedant, who hadn’t been asleep for long, felt a familiar tug on his mind. Rising from his bedroll, he slipped into the trees, carefully picking his way through a thick carpet of dead leaves and twigs covered with a light dusting of new-fallen snow. After walking 300 yards, he reached a large clearing, filled with the presence of Azimuth, a magnificent, one-hundred-fifty foot, golden dragon.
“What a wonderful surprise,” Celedant exclaimed as he approached his dearest friend and the dragon he had bonded with upon entering the Wizard Academy on Dragon Isle so many centuries ago. “What brings you?”
Azimuth lowered his head to allow the wizard to rub his neck ridges. His rumble of pleasure was the only sound in the forest as his voice filled Celedant’s mind.
“My mate and I were relaxing in the aviary, surrounded by our dragonets when suddenly, I felt guilty.”
“Really? Why is that?” Celedant replied with a knowing smile as he brushed a few errant flakes of snow from his shoulder-length, chestnut-brown hair.
“I thought about you out here, risking your life on a quest for an ancient artifact that could change the course of the war, while I relaxed among my family and fellow dragons. So I decided to join you.”
Celedant chuckled. “What you really mean is that the dragonets were driving you crazy so you decided this would be the perfect excuse to get away for awhile.”
Azimuth gave him a wolfish, draconic grin. “Exactly.”
“I would like nothing better than to have you along, but are the dragons ready to reveal themselves to the world at large?”
“I fear that with the coming war, we may have no choice. Wouldn’t you agree, Lord Eldahir?”
Startled, Celedant turned to find the elf entering the glade next to him. “I wish I knew how to move as silently as an elf. It would be a great benefit at times.”
“I did not mean to intrude,” Eldahir apologized. “But when you left camp and did not return, I thought it best to make sure some mishap hadn’t befallen you.”
“I appreciate your concern,” Celedant replied honestly.
“When I sensed his approach, I thought it best to include Lord Eldahir in our conversation,” Azimuth explained.
“Thank you,” Eldahir said with a bow of respect. “It has been many years since I have had the honor of speaking to a dragon. To answer your question: I share your concerns. Although elves, wizards, and sorceresses have known and interacted with the true dragons for centuries, the rest of the world has always believed that fire drakes are dragons.”
“Those puny little pretenders are an embarrassment to my kind,” Azimuth grumbled. “But for the safety of all concerned, we have always felt it better to keep the knowledge of our existence from the others.”
“Considering how immense dragons are, compared to fire drakes, I have always believed that decision to be a wise one,” Eldahir said. “But with the kind of evil the world is now facing, I don’t think the dragons can sit back and watch from the safety of Dragon Isle.”
“And I agree. For the past week, my fellow dragons and I have been in council to discuss the situation, and we came to the same conclusion.” Turning to Celedant, Azimuth continued. “Even though as their leader, I could have commanded it, I decided that all should have a say on whether or not to enter the fight. You will be happy to know that we all agreed that our presence was crucial. In fact, I had to draw the line and restrict the younger dragons under the age of two hundred. They will remain on Dragon Isle to care for the dragonet’s, in case… If the rest of us were wiped out, their existence would insure the continuation of dragon kind.”
Celedant patted his friend reassuringly. “That’s not going to happen. So what’s your plan?”
“From now on, we will assist in all major battles. In the meantime, I have sent several spies to infiltrate the major cities and governments.”
Celedant and Eldahir looked so surprised that it was Azimuth’s turn to chuckle.
“How is this possible?” Eldahir asked. “Your immense size would make it…”
“Impossible? Yes, it would, but we don’t plan to appear as dragons.”
This announcement left his audience dumbstruck.
“But how?” Celedant asked.
“Like this,” Azimuth chuckled.
Suddenly, the dragon’s immense body disappeared in a whirling mass of confusion, and a moment later, the figure of a tall, handsome, High Elf, complete with long, golden blond hair tied back in a ponytail and deep lavender eyes stood before them. Azimuth’s next words were spoken naturally in a smooth, baritone voice.
“I am sorry we had to keep this ability secret from everyone. But it was decided long ago that we would not reveal our tri-nature until it was necessary.”
“Tri-nature?” Celedant and Eldahir both said at once.
“You mean…there’s more?” the wizard asked.
“Yes and the ability should prove quite fortuitous on our journey. I’m too large and noticeable to travel with you as a dragon, and since you don’t have a spare horse for me, whenever we’re on the move, I will travel in my third form.”
As he finished speaking, the elf became a large, muscular golden wolf and his voice once more filled their minds. “When in this form, I will need to communicate telepathically, since neither my wolf nor dragon vocal cords are capable of human, elven, or dwarvan speech.” Changing back to an elf, he continued. “The rest of your party will need to be told of my ability to become a wolf, since it would be impossible to hide. However, I think for now, we should keep my true draconic nature to ourselves. At least until a situation arises where returning to my dragon form would be more beneficial.”
“Agreed,” Celedant said, shaking his head in continued amazement. “What else are you keeping secret?”
Azimuth smiled wickedly. “That, my bonded friend, remains to be seen.”
“We had best get back to camp before the others awake and come looking for us,” Eldahir said. “I will leave the explanation of Azimuth’s sudden appearance to you, Celedant.”
The wizard nodded in agreement. As they headed back to camp, Celedant couldn’t help asking, “Why a High Elf?”
Azimuth chuckled. “No offense, Celedant. Appearing as an elf makes perfect sense. As the guardians of the world, the dragons have infiltrated human, elven, and dwarvan cities for centuries. No one has ever realized that we weren’t true elves. If we looked human, it would be extremely difficult to explain our long lives. Some of our dragons spend centuries in the same city.”
“That makes sense,” Celedant agreed.
“As for my looking like a High Elf, our appearance is regulated by our draconic coloring. Since I am gold, my hair would naturally be blond. The lavender eyes just came with it to complete the disguise. Berlundi my mate being a red dragon had red hair and brown eyes, so she looked like a Wood Elf. “Fascinating,” Eldahir marveled. “I wonder how many elves I know are really dragons?”
“Maybe someday, I’ll enlighten you,” Azimuth said with a chuckle.
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