Manny Lark is a half-dragon, raised by an ancient half-elf and a battle-hardened orc along the flowing Arkansas river within Oklahoma. With dragon magic - the magic of manipulating probabilities - his life has been easy so far, but all of that is about to change when his draconic father delivers orders to him from the council of Ancients.
I awoke with a start, and promptly banged my head. What the hell? Unless I’ve gained a few feet this definitely isn’t my apartment. It was pitch black, it smelled unfamiliar, and there was no feeling of air circulation at all. Where the hell am I, and what had led to me being here? I didn’t have any memories that would explain my current situation. I didn’t remember anything past going to bed the evening before, at least I presume it was last night, after solving a rather strange case in which I'd been hired by an elderly, wealthy woman to find, and retrieve her pet dog (a toy poodle. I can't stand lap dogs. What is wrong with these people?), who as it turned out had run away with an unusually gentle bridge troll to escape said lady and her extreme over-protectiveness. Now all three of them were living happily in a newly built mansion right next to the troll's favorite bridge. Like I said, it was a strange case, but I got paid and everyone left happy. Doesn't get any better than that.
While rubbing my quickly swelling forehead I held my other hand out in front of me and briefly concentrated a small amount of my energy into my palm, summoning a flickering ball of light about the size of a large candle flame. My eyes slowly adjusted to the light, and I took in my surroundings. Metal walls. No discernible door. No windows. Low metal ceiling with a slight blood smear from where my head had whacked into it. Cheap carpet on the floor with metal underneath. Just great. I was in a metal box. Perhaps someone had decided to pack me off for storage and forgot to tell me. Far more likely that I had pissed someone off and they were feeling too innovative to go for the traditional concrete shoes. I couldn't hear much through the metal, but I'd have bet money that I was on my way to the deepest lake in Oklahoma. Huh. I wonder how thick this metal is to offset the buoyancy of the air inside. Shit... More importantly, just how much air is there inside of this thing?
Don't panic Manny, just don't. I immediately panicked. Gasping for air that didn't actually seem to be running out. I acted without thinking. Flexing my metaphysical muscles I slammed pressure outward from me in a wave and into my metal encasement. Nothing happened. Well not quite nothing. My nose started bleeding, my whole body ached, and my light went out, but the damn box didn't seem to be having any problems. Stifling a groan, I made the usually small effort, now surprisingly painful, required to summon back my small light. It appeared in my palm again, albeit a bit weaker, and shakier than before. Think Manny! How did you get here? You have to have some memory of how you ended up in here! A long pause followed. "Nope. Not a damn clue. Sorry irritating inner voice".
Just then the whole container shook as if hit by a giant hammer... or dropped onto to something very solid. Sound began to filter into the box as an indistinct buzzing. I put my ear to side, hoping to make out the noise with more clarity. "Told you....don't care......stupid......help me bury this.” This last bit really set me worrying, and I imagined myself trapped in a metal box at the bottom of a deep hole while angry goblins quickly buried me with their busy little shovels. I shouldn't have been so optimistic. Mere seconds into my dread filled fantasy there was a horrible screeching sound, and a giant claw punctured the roof of my cozy little room. The claw retreated, and light streamed in for a second or two, and then the claw was back, but with company. With a screeching sound far louder than before the whole top of my prison ripped off, and went sailing into the air. Huh, I really am in a hole. I could see walls of dirt surrounding me, and going at least a good six feet upwards. That was the nice part. The bad part was the thing standing over the hole. It was my father.
Peering into the hole from above was a gigantic reptilian head. The head of a dragon, and not just any dragon. This was lord Braxus. I should know. Like I said, he's my father. "Hello pops." One large orange eye peered down at me. "Manny get out of there. I've come to speak with you, and I hardly have time for your silly games at present. I can't believe that you thought you could actually hide from me this way". Sighing, I decided to forgo explaining that this whole thing was most definitely not of my choosing. He would never believe me anyway; dragons don't look at the world the same as the rest of us, or like anyone else for that matter. Dragons take being self-centered to a level that would shock and awe a psychologist. That is if dragons didn't make a habit of eating them on sight. Sadly the DSM will never get a chance to be applied to a full-on dragon. Half dragons like me are something else entirely though. I have a whole slew of diagnoses from different therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Some of them even thought that I might have some father issues. Go figure.
A long glistening claw reached down into the hole and snagged me through the metal box, piercing my jacket. "Damn it Braxus! I like this coat!” Swiftly brought up into the air and facing one of the dragon's reptilian, orange eyes I tried to remind myself that he definitely didn't scare me. I folded my arms as best I could while dangling from his claw and gave him my best glare. Not as effective as it might have been, given the context, but hey you do what you can. "Manny, I tire of your games. The Council of Ancients has requested that I pass a task on to you.” My facial mode went immediately from glare to shock. At that point I also forgot to remember that I wasn't afraid. "Why would they want anything from me?” My voice quavered as I asked this, and it says something that it didn't even bother me. Hell if it hadn't quavered I might think that all of those shrinks were right, and that I really did just suffer from delusions of grandeur.
The Council of Ancients is a mysterious and terrifying force. They are are group of the very oldest beings in the cosmos, and even the dragons do whatever they ask. The council was also reputed to be responsible for making Mars uninhabitable back when they decided the species evolving there was going to be more trouble than it was worth. These were definitely not beings whose radar I wanted to be on.