Dragon Stone: The Magi of Enigma

“The greatest threat to peace are fanatics. I unearthed a parchment deep inside the vault. The Magi of Enigma were such a sect whose sole ambition was genocide.” Jeremiah Delalande, Lecture on Thaumaturgical Archaeology.

“We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world; and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don’t know anything and can’t read.”

Mark Twain, 4th of July speech 1873.

“Noble dragons don’t have friends. The nearest they can get to the idea is an enemy who is still alive.”
Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!

This is another short story for this months

BLOGBATTLE prompt word Jury

Dragon Stone: The Magi of Enigma

“You fled, is that what you’re saying?”  Landis flicked a hair from his cowl. His fingers drummed on the table in annoyance.

Leona tried not to bite, “Yes and no. The dwarf took one and the man indicated I should seal the traps exit.”

“And the man?”


“And you escaped with the artefact?”  If looks could kill the stare thrown at Leona by Sephiran would have the soil being tossed into her grave.

So many questions, “Not exactly.”

“Meaning no.”

“Yes, the carving bit the man just before he could execute the elf.”

She secretly fumed. Why bother submitting a report if this was going to be trial without jury. It was all there in writing. Or had this cult lost the ability to read now too?

“So you lost two of the sect, the artefact, and both subspecies that could either read the parchments or master the Stone.” Sephiran listened until hearing her illicit acquaintance had been terminated. Now she was full of fire.

Landis held up his hand. “Not now, Seph, matters of retribution can wait until the enquiry ends.”

“Not forgetting the portal field prevented deeper access. The initial target also escaped.”  Leona figured drip feeding information might interrupt the inquisitors train of thought.

“You lost the Elder Mage too. This is unbelievable. Do you realise how long it’s taken to find just one? Not just a Mage but the Sapphires stone and a portal trap with the necessary information to hunt both down and slay them.” The drumming turned into a slamming fist. “I should have you executed in lieu of the elf.



The elf looked up.

“Does a stone claim an individual or the other way round?”

She sat up. A curious question and no doubt he’d spent all night mulling it over. “I’m no expert in Dragon Stones Naz.”

“No, but how come it’s always us ending up with…” he looked at the staff. The carving slept. It had done since his vision when the Sapphire came hunting. The blue stone was never far away now. It kept drawing him, daring him to touch it.

“With what?” She was growing impatient. Ever since the stone found him there was a tendency for the dwarfs mind to distract.

He blinked and lit his pipe from an ember. “To end up lost in the middle of a sandstorm.”

“It was better when you swore, at least then I knew what you meant.” Even though she did. Both were on edge. The trap was an oversight. She should have seen it coming.

Then again she should have seen the conjurors bubble too. She still wasn’t sure if they released anything from it. Naz had blanked and her mind was fog. The same fog preventing her remembering the words on the parchment.

“He said the crow was loose. An old prophecy from the Vaults archives.”

“He also said it’s meaning was lost.”

Naz stroked the carving. Yish could have sworn it moved into his hand like a cat purring. All she ever got was an accusatory stare.

“What now?” He drew on his pipe. The carving slept again.

Yish shrugged, “I have no idea. I don’t trust going back to the Keep lest it is as you saw it. Dead and lifeless. Yet…” she stopped short of saying they might get there before it was sacked.

Naz blew a smoke ring and nodded. He knew what she meant. Their chronology was out. It was no longer just where they were, but when. “Early and we might be able to warn them.”

“And who do you tell if trust has gone?”

“Him of course.”

Her eyes said it all. Hope dashed by fate. Arrive too late and witness him lost in in a conjurors bubble hurled into the void. A temporal misfit. Behind just crumbled rock and ice.

She knew what he was thinking. No need for searching his mind. Not that she could with the dragon stone blocking all thoughts now. Still, she knew him well enough to read him.

“I couldn’t face that Naz, it would be too final. Besides we have another problem.”

He followed her stare. The dragon was looking back at her. Except, he could swear it was smiling.

Yish closed her eyes. This had thrown everything into turmoil. No chance of returning to the keep now, which in truth was a relief. To find it ruined would add more to burden her mind with.

“Stop it,” said the dwarf. His empathy with the elf didn’t need mind reading. “We know it’s fallen, just not when.”

Chronomancy again. If only they hadn’t found the Cromlech and subsequently the elder portal that threw them both into temporal chaos. “He could answer questions on the stone Naz. You’ve already seen him in your vision. Why not try that again?”

Naz blew a smoke ring and the carving opened an eye. “I don’t know how Yish. That was more a case of him seeing the Sapphire stone and appearing as the wyvern circled.”

“Try holding the stone and staff then. Stare into the flames and let your mind drift.” She felt helpless. Wanting to see him and yet discarded from the connection. Why Naz and not her? He might even know how to remember the parchments he was so interested in. She had a nagging feeling they were important. Referring to a cult the elders knew as the Magi of Enigma.

Sounded impressive, but her guts said these were hunters. She remembered the man who first greeted them. The leader of a group that ensnared them both inside an elder portal field. The trap within a trap that vetted travellers before allowing passage through. How had they learnt that and where did he get the staff from. They clearly knew more about the elders than her own guild.

That said the bulk of the vault was unexplored as far as she knew. Unless the key masters kept close their secrets. Not that Delalande could keep this mouth shut. It was not his nature to keep things quiet.

She sat on a log and watched as Naz shrugged and gathered stone and staff. An audience of one, although the sapphires avatar was awake so did that make two or even three if it’s connection to the Sapphire herself was strong.

That didn’t bare thinking about. A beast watching every move as it searched for the new keeper. Could the dwarf tame it or did the leviathan intend to tame the dwarf, or worse.

Naz sat with his back to a tree stump. The staff across his knees and stone pulsating in his palm. Purest blue and mesmerising. It took several minutes before he forced himself to stare at the flames. Curiously there was no smoke.


Eleanore Snow froze. The inquisition still prevaricating. As seer she knew when a stone was activated. She could sense it’s heart waking. This one was powerful, not far off the Black and yet softer than both emerald and ruby. The source was the wyvern itself.

“Landis, pursuit of the Sapphire just got harder.”

He looked up. His witch was pale and if he were not mistaken was showing fear. “How so Eleanore?”

“The Sapphire has claimed a rider and is searching for him.”

“Who is it?”

“The dwarf our comrade allowed free.”

“That’s a lie and you know it,” Leona flashed her eyes in disgust. “That dwarf slew two of ours with an axe. The staff rebuked the man and turned on him.”

“Aye, he saw that in the glam before leaving. He was unsettled knowing who they were tackling.”

Landis turned to Crowley, “You knew of this? Who exactly are the subspecies?”

Crowley met the gaze leering at him, “The elf and dwarf are from the keep. One is part of the High Elf Caucus and the other a master of rock and earth. Both know the Key Masters. The man knew this and still failed.”

“I told you Landis,” Leona hit the table with her fist, “my report to this façade is written if you’d bothered to look. One can read the elder texts and the other drew a natural affinity to the stone. They were not acting alone. Something over-watches and we seriously underestimated them.”

Landis sighed. “Then we have little choice but to bring closure in this inquisition. “I motion death by lack of foresight and Leona Whisper not guilty.”

All cult members present offered no resistance. Eyes were now on the witch.

“Where are they?”

Eleanore’s eyes rolled back. Her hands gripping the table edge. “A forest glade. The dwarf is communing with the Sapphire, the elf watches. There is a power coming that is beyond my ability to divine.”

Leona sat next to her. A whisper escaped, “Is it him? The one from the keep trapped in a conjurors bubble.”

The witch slumped back in the chair. Hair stuck to her forehead. She turned to face the one sat next to her. “You know it is. If he finds out it was you then we may as well slit our own throats now.”

Crowley stood. This was his area of expertise, “Intervene witch, I have a hunch the Sapphire has a mate. If they combine then both sub-species will have a Stone.”

Seph nodded. “It can be done, but you do know it may expose us and reveal the location to him.”

“The hunters turned hunted,” Leona felt her palms go clammy, “and what do we do about the absconded Elder Mage?”

Landis sighed, some days start well and end in disaster, “That is why we need one of the sub-species. The exit protocols are in the parchment. It’s one thing to seal an exit and another to pass through it.”

Leona eyed him suspiciously, “What you are inferring is the man saved my life. In which case this inquisition was pointless.”

Inside Seph fumed, “Now why would he do that?”

Leona shrugged, “Maybe he already knew he was going to die and decided to take us all down with him.”


Naz felt his conscious waver. The flames danced and dickered with his mind. The carving unfurled and folded around his wrist, the stone pulsed and he sensed a darker presence.

Elsewhere the Amanuensis looked up. The parchment he was reading was stirred by a breeze. His eyes turned toward the two black candles whose flames were in flux. Not a new experience just unexpected. He let his mind flow as he watched them flicker. An active stone and, if he were not mistaken, a very frightened witch. This warranted deeper investigation.



The stone is calling the Sapphire.

“I know,” the dwarf felt drunk. From flames to red Badlands. It left him feeling disoriented. This was not what he remembered from before.

Withdraw from the flames.


Your path has been corrupted. This is the home of another beast.

Naz drifted. He saw undulations in the rocks. Old lava flows coated in dust dropped by airs passing across deserts. Nothing lived here he was sure.

It is an illusion field.

“Yish needs help. It’s why I’m here.”

Then she still needs aid remembering the scrolls.

“Aye, and I to lose this stone.”

This is neither the time nor place.

“She needs you.”

I know, now grip the stone before the Crimson arrives.

Naz felt him pull away. From afar he heard her calling. In the distance a great shadow crossed one of the peaks.

The Amanuensis sat looking at the candles. Another awakes. But how did he know? Was the Sapphire that aligned with the dwarf already? Do the wyverns know where others sleep? Answers leading to more questions.

And here I still am. No closer to the keys to unlock this prison.


When Naz returned he found Yish next to him, “He was there wasn’t he.”

The dwarf nodded. Returning was a sickly experience. He reached for more willow bark before drawing on a water skin.

“Well?” She was agitated and impatient.

“Something hunts us. He terminated my vision.” He sat up as his memory kicked in. “There is another Yish. A Crimson in the Badlands. I was trying to see the Sapphire, but something intervened. He said it was an illusion field.”

She gripped his arm, the carving glared at the contact. “That is Elder magic. If someone’s created it then they are gifted with knowledge we scratch at.”

“He knows you want to speak with him.” He looked into her face and saw the pain invoked. “That it was neither the time or place.”

“It never is.”

Tears again. She looked like a breakdown waiting to happen. “The roads been too long elf, we need closure. Have you thought about everything we’ve seen since embarking on this errand of fools?”

She nodded. “And were we sent because he knew treachery was about to destroy all we knew?

“In which case he saved our lives. Ever thought of it that way?”

“I’d have rather died at his side in battle than this Naz.”

He put his arm round her shoulder. Her head came to rest against him. “And who would then be able to save him?”

“What do you mean?”

“The conjurors bubble, you know how they work yes?”

She sat back up. “Yes, but get it wrong and they collapse crushing what’s inside.”

“Then don’t get it wrong.”

She smiled ruefully, “Easy to say from the outside.”

The carving twitched. It’s eyes open and deep within swirls of Sapphire moved as it unwound from the dwarfs arm and returned to the staff.

The stone began pulsing and the sounds of night fell silent.

Naz poked the fire. “You sleep Yish, I’ll linger a while. I need to think.”

She nodded gratefully. “Anything in particular?”

“This,” he held up the stone. “I’m no dragon keeper. It should be you.”

“Tell that to the staff.”

He glanced across to see the carving sleeping with one eye watching him.

“You do know,” she had a rueful smile, “given half a chance I think it would curl up in your beard.”

He threw a stick at her. “Go to sleep elf.”

The Sapphire Stone

“Only the Sapphire hunts it’s living counterpart.”
“It came from an imaginary dragon that was a carving of an owl on that staff wielded by a madman. He said it was a Dragon Stone.”

56 thoughts on “Dragon Stone: The Magi of Enigma

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  1. It’s my own fault that I still feel a little lost on some of the backstory, but it’s a compliment to you that I am drawn in and enchanted by your storytelling even when I don’t know the full context. This back and forth scenes with two storylines was entertaining and enlightening. I’m so curious about what will happen with this Sapphire dragon stone and the man trapped in the bubble. Can you tell me more about that? How it works and such. <3

    1. It’s the missing year away. I had the same problem ha ha. A conjurors bubble is a form of prison. Cast on the subject which creates a temporal field around them mimicking their surroundings. In the amanuensis case it’s his tower library. Once trapped its thrown out of time. In his case far into the future. The same day repeats. Resetting at midnight when the previous days memories are erased. Escape requires knowing which of two keys is the correct one if they can be found. The wrong one causes the field to shrink into a singularity. The other, with aid of sorcery allows the inmate to return to where they were, or if they are good chronomancers to a place in time or space of their choosing. The Amanuensis gets round the memory loss by writing notes. Hence the WIP Letters of the Amanuensis which is a collection of those which are found later in time. That’s finished btw! The Sapphire is evolving. Without spoiling it’s staff and removed stone has found it’s original owner in my head. As has the Crimson in Naz’s dream.

      I’m so glad you liked this one Rachael. It’s become quite a huge world build now. Even the Letters one has provided the title of another called The Return of the Crow.

      Also, if the bubble is in a physical location then it’s surrounded by a perception field disguising it. As Naz and Yish found out a few stories back when they fulfilled the prophecy of the crow by accident.

  2. As others have mentioned, Gary, I loved how the two scenes interwove. Interesting we both wrote about inquisitions of sort, eh? I am curious to know who these inquisitors are, and what it is they hope to achieve. The fact they have a witch in their employ hints at a “whatever-means-necessary” approach.

    I also get the impression that, rather than being an extension of stone or dragon, the carving is its own beast entirely. Linked, sure. But individual, if you catch my drift? It’s sort of cute how protective it’s become of the dwarf. And speaking of, it really speaks volumes to the weight of the stone that our dwarf—normally so direct—often drifts off and needs the elf to bring him back on track.

    As always, Gary, wonderfully deep and rich storytelling. You have a McCarthy-esque talent of making it seem we are privy to real people interacting, unaware of their being observed by a reader.

    1. This wrote itself, bringing in a different end to the Elders which was more protracted than first concept suggested. This cult has already appeared inside DS the manuscript. Not fully fleshed with BB backstory yet as they appeared out of nowhere.

      I’ve also unearthed about six stones now with a reveal saying the main antagonist has one, which was most unexpected.

      The dwarf is a reluctant carrier. Most stones rest in pendants but I’m thinking the witch ripped it off the staff. This cult hunts both Elders and dragons. Like the Amanuensis she knows when one is activated. It means his actions could be less secretive than first thought. I’ve seen the other comments and most seem to think he seriously needs Yish.

      Thanks for the positive comment of the storytelling too. And I did send you the Bequest a while back too as suggested. I guess there, when or if, you get time might show the difference in writing from 2016 to now. Although narrative style does change depending on the book. But I do know back then, from editing now, bucket loads of changes are being made. The Paradox Man has had nearly 30k culled 😳

      1. I love that your own characters can surprise you, Gary! It’s like archaeology, in way. Brushing away the dirt to see what lies, hidden, waiting for discovery.

        Indeed, it’s rather hard to imagine either dwarf or elf without the other. One can only imagine how they’d react if thrust into peril without their comrade to cover their backs.

        My god, 30k darlings killed! It makes my face pale. A necessary evil, that editing malarkey. Although I oddly look forward to it with my current WIP. Probably because there are so many things I want to change, haha!

        1. I think it might be more than that now. I’m actually hitting everything hard now. Best method is to let the WIP sit a while before going to edit it. I think King says that in On Writing too.

          There was one BB tale where they got separated way back as Yish fell through a portal into the world of the Black and Naz ended up at the sacked Keep. Fair bit of chronomancy happened in that one if memory serves

  3. The atmospheres of, to us, The Unrealities of the circumstances remains captivating. You have done a great job here creating narratives around this.
    Like Abe I was very much taken with the two scenes running concurrent. There was the shift with Leona being very much the accused, to near accuser, defending her position strongly.
    The continuation of Yish and Naz’ strong relationship despite their different natures and perceptions always stands out as a certainty in otherwise ever shifting realms.
    Fascinating Gary.

    1. Thanks Roger, trouble is it’s created a new cult that’s now in one of the WIP’s. The Leona part appeared as you mention through stream of conscious writing. She led her part and I thought did quite well to turn from accused to accuser. Not really far from what Mr Raab just did haha.

      Yish and Naz are well embedded in my psyche now. BB has given so much back story there’s now a book virtually done called Letters of the Amanuensis. Just a few bits left and next months featured an extract from it with another new character that’s found herself in trouble at the end. That’s the bit I’m finishing now. It was fascinating going through all his Letters and compline them into one manuscript. Loads crossed over into Prison of Ice and Release of the Crow. I ought to send you one lol

      1. One of the rewards in writing long works is how something initially a bit of back ground, can grow and enrich the whole process. Though unlike Rabb Leona has a good case and argues with intelligence based on events.
        The Letters of Amanuensis would make a fascinating addition when read as one collection. I would like to see one.
        Keep on!

        1. Haha, I take that as a compliment having listened to the exchanges, although while I’m not keen on Mog, did you see his interview on Sky? That had me chuckling. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard him talk sense.

          I have Leona as very intelligent actually, not quite sure if her allegiance is with the cult or maybe an Elder Mage agent. I think I need to explore this lot more.

          The Letters should be finished by the time the excerpt goes up here. If it is I could do with a beta reader 😳

          1. I have to avoid TV interviews, my poor long suffering wife is weary of me muttering ‘idiots’ ‘no sense of history’ etc although she does go along with my ‘Ah. And the chocolate ration is being increased’. I restrict myself to the written accounts when no one else is around.

            It’s fun when you can’t make up your mind where a character is going, that’s the tipping point when a writer has made them ‘natural’ and believable. 👍

            I’ve never dipped my toe into Beta reading, one of the reason being….slow reading habits, with a tendency to use audio books.
            IF, tough Gary you can’t find anyone else who is experienced in the craft I’ll try and give it a shot….Might wake up a new reading habit.

            1. Don’t blame you, but for a political laugh he speculated that the complainant was a snowflake. When asked about that comment he turned it, knowing the outcome, into “a blizzard of snowflakes.” Well worth a chuckle considering it’s Mog!

              I struggle with beta readers. Most round here don’t know I write which, in honesty, I prefer. It’s about trust and here I just see self interested people. Quangos and folk that say one thing and do the opposite.

              This Letters one is more a novella. About 23k words with a very unexpected twist at the end suggesting another book as it looks like The Return of the Crow 🤔

              1. I love snowflake accusations….just send accusers random photos of those blizzards. They never reply 😃

                I could give Beta-ing a shot Gary. I don’t have a wide knowledge of your world. But it would be an interesting intro…and as said before could kick start the old reading habit again.

                1. You can take a look Roger. Some bits you may recall already. It gives (my opinion) a fair look into the events across much of my stuff. It’s basically done as if someone’s found the notes he makes in the prison of ice. Found generations later as a manuscript put together by the Arch Mage as a memorial script. Obviously I’d need an email address, but if you go to my contact page you could do it that way so it’s stays private.

                  No pressure mind.

                    1. Thanks Roger. Nothing yet, but I have no idea how long it takes. I’ll let you know if it’s not here tomorrow and run a test on it myself, although it has worked ok before

                    2. Hi Roger, nothing appeared so I just tested the form myself and it came in instantly. Any chance you can try again or if there’s a form on your site I can try from there to you

                    3. Just sent an email Roger. If it connects then I’ll send the Letters later as it’s my turn to be going out 😂

                    4. Got it and replied. Nice to actually touch base for, no doubt, more philosophical debates outside here 😂

                    5. Well the one I sent over wasn’t written by me! He did it all and I just wrote it down. In fact he interviewed me in it 😳

                    6. They do things like that. Two central characters left me with a most intractable issue to write into the narrative.
                      ‘How am I supposed to make that believable to any readers in this time and place?’ I complained.
                      ‘Aww, you’ll figure something out,’ they said casually.

                      Just to clarify Gary. Have you sent a pdf over to me.

                    7. Sorry to report….Still not arrived Gary.
                      I checked Inbox, Spam, went through my ‘deleds’ (just in case), even went to my other account (where most marketing offers end up) and did the same.
                      This is most curious, seeing as how we have established communication through other e-mails.
                      This is a ‘head scratcher’

                    8. Curious indeed. Try adding me to your contact list. This behaviour is very like Askimet on a temperamental day. The only other possibility is it’s screening for attachments or has a limit on downloading content. Although I thought that was a thing of the past now. I’ll send another with no file on and let’s see if that still works.

                    9. Hi Gary, this is indeed freaky.
                      I’ve checked e-mails and the sites of my three WP accounts:
                      1. Is this one.
                      2. One I infrequently use for ‘heavy’ political / history posts.
                      3. A moribund one I set up for my trilogy, for readers to gain additional information- very moribund with cobwebs and dust.
                      No sign on any.
                      Askimet does ‘have form’. My previous site was suddenly being treated as spam and no one knew I was posting anything, or replying to them. Needless to say neither WP or Askimet admitting to any flaws and suggested I contact ‘the other one’. Site shut down and start again!
                      Askimet still acts up, turning previous regular contributors to a person’s blog as ‘Anonymous’.
                      So it could be the guilty party; which was why I left things for a day, to see if anything had turned up.
                      I’ll go through my e-mail and WP accounts tomorrow, again.
                      It is not unknown for an electronic item to arrive later than traditional mail.
                      What a nuisance for us both.

                    10. It’s why I use four emails outside of WP. The one I gave you is friends only. I have a gmail one for WP and two others for assorted odds and sods. All are independent of those you speak of so Askimet has no role in blocking anything incoming or outgoing. Caveat being either of those have also to be independent of said sites.

                      I also get the odd anonymous post hitting spam here even though they have passed the non-spam requirements. Not so much recently mind. But then I am willing to go to the amiable helper agents. More often than not they solve it pretty quick

                    11. Hi Gary
                      After some more head scratching, and looking over my laptop and WP accounts……
                      I have this notion that there is something happening at this end, or to look at another way…..not happening /working at this end.
                      If I could prevail upon you Gary to give me, literally a step by step account of how you despatched the document, I will then go to the place where it should be and work from there.
                      I’m thinking back to the times in my Civil Service days when we used to find documents in all sorts of places they shouldn’t have been because of a flaw in the system.
                      Since WP seems to have its share of those, while it is not unknown for e-mail systems to misplace something….
                      As I say I think there is something wrong at this end, maybe I need to tinker and free the document from somewhere.

                    12. The attachment is inside the email under the text. Ie I write the email, add attach and the document drops into the body of the mail

                    13. I’m not sure now if I’m more invested in whether or not you guys finally managed to email each other or Gary’s writing… great writing obvs 🤣

                    14. Next months is possibly the first part of the Novella Letters of the Amanuensis. Hence the email debacle as attachment’s went somewhere other than Roger 🙄

                    15. That said you wouldn’t recognise any of the old stuff as I’ve battered them this year with the twins losing over 30k 😳

                    16. He is for now and has the title named after him The Paradox Man. I think the text is pretty tight now too

                    17. ‘Safe for now’ this is worrying ! I gathered he was the paradox man.
                      Oh I sent you an email you’ll have to let me know if you got it !!! 🤣

                    18. Sorted. Thanks👍
                      I am suspecting unseen oddities in computer systems….
                      It’s difficult not to, when you get e-mails from a company telling you something which you have known about for a year or so, from a pervious e-mail they sent you. 🤨
                      Still, mustn’t grumble, it’s given me an idea about AI to fit into an SF story that’s been log-jammed, also for a year.

  4. Nicely done how you sort of worked two stories in tandem. The interrogation at the opening was a good setup for the interaction between Yish and Naz. The dragon on the staff is quite an interesting character himself, and underscores how roles are reversed for the elf and dwarf – she must educate him on how to navigate in the ethereal world she is more acquainted with. I almost hope her quip about the dragon sleeping in his beard turns out to be prophetic!

    1. Thanks Abe, I’m a bit behind this week. The dragon on the staff is linked to the actual dragon that Naz has managed to find himself with its Stone. A reluctant carrier if you like. He’d rather it was Yish nit him so as you rightly say he needs a bit of an education. Although it seems reluctant to like her at present.

      One suspects if the actual dragon decided to sleep in his beard then it could cause a few humorous outcomes 😂😂

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