April 21, 2018

S is for Skoven

        In that long, deep valley between the Mountains of the Sky and the Mountains Mioruilt Ãdun fought strange, dreadful beasts and won his way past the haunts of terrible monsters, and ever he followed the course of the River Oosial, until it brought him north into the sharp heights of the Mountains Mioruilt and led him at last to the cave of Skoven, the White Dragon who could speak only truth.

     At conquering Ãdun's call, great Skoven came,
     The white steam curling from the stone cave's brim.
     His argent crest struck diamond sparks from the rock
     In the dark cave's doorway as he raised his head.
     The rattling scrape of scales on the blackened floor,
     Gouged into grooves by the dragon's silver claws,
     Brought the bright Skoven's jaws and his flickering tongue,
     Blue as a stormy sea, into Ãdun's view.
     Long as a man was the monster's narrow head
     Mailed in his milky scales and whispering steam,
     And his talons rasped the rock like sickle blades
     As Skoven flicked his forked and pointed tongue.
     Three-cornered eyes like moonstones blue as ice,
     Slit like a cat's, stared into Ãdun's own.
     And when the dragon spoke, his silver teeth
     Clashing like knives against his armored lips,
     His breath hissed flaming with his clangorous voice,
     Boiling the icy Oosial into steam.

        Skoven asked King Ãdun, "How has this journey atoned for the death of thine innocent brother?"
        And the king was stung in his pride and replied haughtily, "I have faced death many times since then.  That is atonement enough for a warrior and a sorcerer and a king!"
        But the White Dragon who could speak only truth replied, "No, King Ãdun, it is not enough.  For it was pride that killed thy brother and pride that turned thy victory false, and thou hast not given up thy pride.”
        And there amidst the peaks of the Mountains Mioruilt, scalded by steam from the spring that would become the Oosial, King Ãdun allowed his pride to make him foolish.  Once he had believed lies spoken by one who wished him ill, and it had brought him only grief.  Now he refused to believe the truth spoken by one who wished him well, and again he drew his furious sword in pride.
        Long was the turbulent battle between those two, the mighty Ãdun and the dragon Skoven.  The blue dragon-fire flared from Skoven's throat, and Ãdun's sorcery drew down blazing copper lightning, so that even in Eotheort could people see the jagged and forking flames kindling the sky above the peaks.  The clapping of the dragon's unfurled wings cracked the air like thunder, the ringing rattle of his argent scales writhing on the mountaintop shivered the valleys' pines.  Iron clattered against dragon mail, talons rang against iron.  The Oosial seethed into billowing steam, the stream-bed was scorched dry, until it ran again with gore, brave Ãdun's flowing mixed with the dragon's sizzling blood.  And finally King Ãdun's violent pride guided his fell sword to Skoven's heart and drove the notched point deep.
        White Skoven who could speak only truth now roared his death cry, the brazen echoes rolling ringing down the frozen mountainside, and King Ãdun, having slain the noble dragon, in the very moment of his fierce triumph realized the crime he had committed.  Crying, "Atonement!" he threw himself beneath the falling dragon, letting himself be crushed in Skoven's death.  And where two heroes had met at the birth of the Oosial, now lay one heap of bones, the slender rising spiral of steam still marking the place to those on the plain below.

        Skoven from Song Against Shadow, first book in a high fantasy series for middle school-or-so through adult (excerpt from Chapter VII: Angduv).  More information here, or “Look inside” at Amazon.

[Picture: Drawings of Skoven by AEGN, c.2007.]

A-Z Challenge, all posts for the letter S.


Jacqui said...

I don't know that I've ever seen a white dragon. Maybe I don't know enough about dragons...

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Hmmm... makes me wonder how many dragons of other colors you've seen! =)

Jui said...

This sounds interesting! Thank you for sharing...I will look into it for sure.
Jui Positive Cookies

KatyTrailCreations said...

Have you ever considered printing on fabric? Just curious. Love your artistry!
Stephanie Finnell
@randallbychance from
Katy Trail Creations

Kristin said...

This seems like a fitting end for the prideful knight.

Anne E.G. Nydam said...

Stephanie, I have done a bit of printing on fabric for quiltmaking. Using small, not-too-detailed stamps and a very thin layer of acrylic paint works reasonably well. It's hard to get fine details to show up, and it's hard to get a large block to print uniformly well.