Dragon Stone: Return of The Crow

Flynne smiled, recollecting the frustration Mortain was renowned for. Cryptic over clarity. Her mind was tempered by the allusion to another oncoming storm. She suspected he inferred the necromage was not dead

“A poet can write about a man slaying a dragon, but not about a man pushing a button that releases a bomb.”

W.H. Auden

“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 Crepuscular

Dragon Stone:

Flynne sat back, exhausted. She turned the last page over, expecting more. Did he make it back? Stupid question: The former Arch Mage edited the manuscript in front of her. It struck her as a random document. What answers did he find? Most seemed devoid of real answers, apart from the pervading uncertainty about prison or sanctuary and self-doubt about the art of necromancy; seduced by the lies that crept in. She read about that after a lecture on philosophical history. It began with a treatise by Eldred Mortain on the folly of hiding the subject through fear. At one time, it was taboo, and his argument thread was scathing of old politicos, who buried their heads in the sand.

This document only whetted her appetite. Did The Amanuensis find the elf again? How did they trap the Necromancer? Did that creature escape or wither away? If he was trapped, then where? It was both enlightening and frustrating, teasing her as a puzzle with no guidance to complete.

Did he find an Elder Mage, and if so, was he still presiding over the Time Library? Even now, an ageless timekeeper, crafting the books unseen.

She stood and placed the manuscript carefully back on the lectern. The lights dimmed, and the Arch Mage returned as before. She took a seat in the empty lecture theatre.

“I suspect the thirst for more tampers with the inquisitive mind that has completed the written accounts. There are more, but not part, of the time spent inside the conjurer’s bubble. These reside in the library archive, along with vast amounts of unexplored historical tomes. A place both Lord Cresswell and Jeremiah Delalande marvelled at before realising time had run out. Neither had an opportunity to make good their discovery. I hope that this manuscript will lead you to complete what they started. To learn from history is to protect the future.”

His eyes looked around as if addressing a packed room. Flynne thought he looked sad and resigned.

“There is further knowledge in three larger treatises. These are called Dragon Stone, The Prison of Ice and Release of the Crow. I believe, by now, there may be more. These do not explain the return of the Amanuensis. For that information, you will have to find his shrine. There you will learn more. All that is left here is to insist,” now he looked directly at Flynne, “that what you discover does not remain secret. I implore you to place this knowledge into your work. Create a manuscript that will be a permanent reminder that ignorance is folly.”

He turned, as if to fade as before, “One last thing, the darkness is not gone. While the crow prophecy predicted chaos, there is another. Heed it well.” With that, the light returned as the Arch Mage disappeared.

Flynne smiled, recollecting the frustration Mortain was renowned for. Cryptic over clarity. The allusion to another oncoming storm tempered her mind. She suspected he inferred the necromage was not dead.


By the time she returned to her chambers, it was dark. Sleep no friend, as she tried to make sense of the journal. She was trying to put herself into the shoes of the Amanuensis. What must it be like to be isolated in a chamber, locked outside time, far in the future when all you once knew was dust? To look out and see ruins atrophied in millennia, locked in ice and snow. To realise each day was the same, except each turn erased much of what you knew the day before. Were it her, would she have been able to realise that making a journal was the only way to make progress?

It was apparent that the Key Masters chose well. To send the one that had the skills to commune with anyone, at any point in time, and gather information. She would merely sit until madness took over after being forced to leave the elf he loved out of reach. How she hoped he succeeded and they found happiness. It would be a fitting end.

It struck her that the ghost of the Arch Mage had nudged her in the direction the answers might lie. A shrine, which was somewhere deep in the Vault. An unexplored section, which, even now, covered most of it. They never learned that past mistakes should be there to guide the future. Do not render it as another chapter of the past.

Then, had he not said, she would continue the research neither assassin nor Scribe had time to complete. But how? That archive was vast. How did Elder Magi use it? Could this Jeremiah Delalande or Lord Cresswell also have left notes explaining more?

Then there was the vague insinuation about another prophecy. The necromage was not dead, which meant the crow still rested somewhere, waiting until another accident released him. She felt it was important to know where he was and ensure current Key Masters ensured it remained guarded in perpetuity.

By the time sleep found her, it was near dawn. Even then, it was interrupted by a live dream.


As I cut the red flame, the black one extinguished. My world creaked and flexed. The edges faded. For a moment, I thought they would begin to contract. Nausea hit me, and I passed out. On waking, I was in another ruin. Not mine. Euphoria replaced sickness, which was short-lived. It was not the Keep; it was Mossgarde. The place where Elijah of Darrow was to meet Raenisa of the Dökkálfar. That part of the tale I do not have the answer to. But this was the home of Yish. She said it fell, but why am I here and when? Am I before the Keep falls or not?

I must find this oracle. But first, Yish.


Flynne started awake and cursed. They called these live dreams, but this was a vision brought on by the Letters of the Amanuensis and near exhaustion. She was close to discovering whether he found his love, to find it stripped away by waking, an omen, perhaps, something to make her find the rest of the parchments.

It was near midday. The hunt would have to resume after eating. In the refectory, she decided the shrine might be closer than first thought. There was a room in the old tower nobody used. If that were the chambers of the legendary Amanuensis, it was because it housed the shrine. A room held in perpetuity to honour him. She felt excitement build as certainty replaced doubt. If she was right, some answers might be closer than presupposed. It would be there she would visit first.


Filled with apprehension, she stood in front of an oak door. It looked unused, forgotten, and avoided. That was not surprising, given its location. She doubted any of her peers even knew there was a tower here, never mind the history behind who once lived in it. Standing outside turned her to the past, almost touching ghosts that once moved in and out of the room, drinking tea. It was a time when all chronology was in chaos, with sacrifices made now lost in antiquity. Humans, she expected to bury their heads in the sand. It seemed an evolutionary trait, given that life was brief. Even so, they were not entirely stupid. It was choosing to ignore their intellect that made it that. Her sadness was because her kind should know better.

She breathed in and pushed the door open. It was heavy but unlocked, swinging inwards on hinges offering no resistance to reveal the legendary library. The very room once displaced in a conjurer’s bubble. That was the legacy of the Amanuensis. Why did so few know or care that it existed? It was here that the Arch Mage found the Letters. Lord Cresswell, Jeremiah Delalande, and all manner of magi convened in a crisis. Here they talked about Dragon Stones, Elder Magi and chronomancy. It felt wrong to invade the threshold.

She had to know. Were there other parchments Mortain should have included? If the latter, then it may have been intentional, and the reason he redacted parts of the manuscript. In this case, she would be invading long-guarded privacy.

Flynne stepped inside and closed the door. It was quiet. The balcony had a glass door leading onto it, sealing the room from drafts. To think this was the actual balcony where The Amanuensis once stared across snow and ice fields. Her heart was beating faster.

Moving to the desk, she could not help but sit in the leather chair. She could feel history moving in the snug, where ghosts talked and breathed in life. Not suspecting their futures would meet with crisis and death. Flynne touched the bureau and drew her fingers over the ancient patina. Felt its age. She pulled open two drawers and, within one, found the missing letters bound together by a ribbon. As she reached for the first, the two candles in front ignited. It startled her, and she sat back in the chair. Each burnt with a separate flame, one red, one black. Déjà vu.

“Flynne of the Elves,”

“Who is this?” Anxiety filled her. Had the Arch Mage’s ghost warned her against this after all?

“Time is a curious child. Ghosts are generated by perspective. Some are created by time, as lives expire in age, and others pass naturally or by design. Those latter few often tarry to become spectral revenants.”

The voice sounded bemused, mocking, or, she considered time, resigned. “Who are you?”

“Come, Flynne of the Elves, in whose chair do you sit?”

“It can’t be. You’re long dead,” excitement pushed back anxiety. “I read your Letters.”

“So Mortain was true to his word. I expect he buried them deep within the Vault and left a token lecture to any who found them.”

“He did and inferred more could be found here. And that there is a second prophecy hidden in the archive.” Confidence was growing. It was the Amanuensis himself.

“Always a man of verbosity. There are many prophecies. My old friend, the Exorcist, would say that most come to fruition after the event when any argument fits. Hindsight is the tool of the ignorant. Foresight and intuition lead to visionaries. Some call it divination. The man, Stringer, knew all about that.”

Flynne burned with questions, “Did you ever find Yish?”

“I entered Mossgarde and found ruins built upon ruins. All that remained was an old dead fire left by Elijah of Darrow. Of dwarf and elf nothing.”

“You mean nothing you will tell me,” Flynne was both disappointed and understanding. It was, after all, private. She knew this was why the Arch Mage redacted sections in the first place.

“I mean, there is nothing to tell. Mossgarde was empty.”

“And the oracle?”

“I found after some difficulties. Without an Eye, dragons are elusive beasts unless bent on revenge.”

Flynne thought fast; how long she had left was an unknown, “And what of the necromage? Your Arch Mage was vague, but I thought he was imprisoned.”

“Aye, it was no easy task. To lure anyone into a conjurer’s bubble requires temptation and a degree of unwitting eagerness.”

“So, he is alive, and the other prophecy refers to a resurgence,” Flynne felt her pulse rise. Was that the message? Learn from the past, lest the present is underestimated and taken for granted. Were they about to make the same mistakes again? “How do you prepare for it in advance?”

“We have.”


There was no answer. Flynne felt deflated; no answers, only more questions. She yearned to know if he had found his love. That untold story was as large as any other and endured separation in time and space. Even if it was a tragedy, then it was worth telling. Perhaps the answer was in the drawer after all. She stared at the ribbon. Red like the flame and tied with a bow in the middle. The first page glared at her on the desk until the words sank in.

“I realised betrayal is an easy word. Even if the intention is well-meaning, the unexpected rocks the soul. It was at this desk, alone, collecting my thoughts on the discussions with Cresswell and Jeremiah. On my desk, the candles ignited, one red, one black, each was fluxing. They held my gaze. As enlightenment dawned, I needed an audience with Mortain. As I left, so did I return, held inside the same room. I remember not what happened next, for the room was filled with incense. I slept, then awoke and, from my window, saw ice and snow.”

Flynne hesitated, her fingers about to turn over the page. She glanced up at the two candles, one red, the other black, and anxiety returned. She replaced the letters in the drawer and pushed it shut. At the door, her palms felt clammy. It swung inwards. The corridor looked unchanged and led toward the atrium, where another door opened into the chamber. She reached this with relief. The shrine could remain a shrine; she would use the archive instead. As she pushed the door open, incense hit her. She felt dizzy and staggered against the wall. Closing her eyes, she took several deep breaths to clear her mind. When she opened them again, her fingers ran over a parchment, ready to turn the page.

Outside the green of Tor Angra lay under ice. It was dawn, deer made use of what scant vegetation there was. A harsh crepuscular existence. If there were bats then they would be unnatural. What she was doing prior to waking was lost. All she knew was upon the desk in front were two candles and a manuscript bound in ribbon.

Dragon Stone: Key Master

I feel these are an incomplete collection.  No Key Master found out why, and the reason was taken to the grave by the Amanuensis.
What she sought were the fabled ‘Letters of the Amanuensis.’

11 thoughts on “Dragon Stone: Return of The Crow

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  1. This moves seamlessly from the novella Gary, while also being able to stand alone. This is the beauty of Dragon Stone, although there is an obvious thread, each extract works as a separate tale, pieces of a long history.
    Weaving in and out of this featuring more of Flynne there is a feeling of an element of danger lurking in the shadows, as if she is going to turn a particularly telling page and something will leap out at her. She is treading through a place as threatening as any.
    The narrative of her conversations with The Arch Mage and Amanuensis across of ages and distances are striking. I had this feeling of viewing this through a quantum spectrum in which all our mere three-dimensional perceptions are redundant.
    All is challenging, just when you think you’ve got a handle on everything, something shifts the perspective and as the reader you’re left with the captivating thought ‘No. I’m still just beginning,’
    Maybe it’s experiencing what Flynne is living through, moving through dusks, nights and dawns.
    Put all the manuscripts together and the whole could be majestic.
    Keep up the good work

    1. Too kind Roger, been hectic here as a lost cat decided to return last night and didn’t look too happy. Methinks he got stuck and got disoriented so he’s currently grounded for two days!

      Part of the stand alone versus longer theme is down to doing so many short stories here. I find after a time they begin linking together. DS itself has a cast list that’s getting rather large. I almost need a genealogy novelette now 😳.

      How you describe the quantum spectrum viewing is fascinating. My own perception is not conscious as such, but very linear even though I know it isn’t.

      Re Flynne, that’s an example of what RPG calls in character info versus out of character info. To play well you have to do it from the OOC perspective despite knowing the bigger picture. A case of as Flynne, what would she know as opposed to what I want her to. It’s why stream of conscious writing I find easy.

      Maybe you’d like to read DS once it’s done. Pretty sure it’s getting quite close now, but no novella for sure. That said it’s building toward several finales which will lead into the follow up.

      I think it might need a fair bit of editing after, but I’d like someone to read it raw

      1. I have many a hair raising story about cats and their wandering antics. You have my sympathies Gary

        In my books the method was to pile characters in and myriad situations in to cause confusion and differing agendas, so I was never sure how things who turn out, the big picture only evolving as the words progressed.

        I would be interested to read a draft, though couldn’t promise a quick return, as my reading habits are a bit slack at times.
        That said the DS does have a fascinating ring to it.

        1. The good news is he turned up last night looking very sorry for himself. Currently fast asleep next to me.

          What you said I was doing until finding the Magi cult had almost 15 active members, two elf war councils with 20, and a plethora of additions as the various cast move forward. Keeping tabs is now getting harder. Ergo I have a crib sheet that sits under the writing chapter. Although even that’s getting in need of better organising now. It’s even more twisted as it turns out two light elves are related to the dark elf warlord. That appeared out of nowhere but Elijah has already found a possible use for it.

          I can send it over once it’s finished although I could just as easily send five chapters at a time so by the time you catch up it’ll be done 🤔

  2. “To learn from history is to protect the future.” History has a way of repeating itself because of those who don’t learn from it, and yet despite her efforts, Flynne seems caught in repeating history! 🙂 The whole timey-wimey setup does twist the imagination – when the Amanuensis speaks to her, I wondered if he was actually doing so from the bubble. And yet the reference to how ghosts manifest could be a clue that theory is inaccurate. Also wondered, when she sat in the leather chair, if any dust stirred up since the place seemed so unused. Or would that be incense powder? 😉 Looks like another adventure in chronology!

    1. Thank you, Abe. The incense I have originates from the candles as the trap is sprung. Dust and so on are lacking, partly due to it being a sealed room and partly because it suffers thaumic aftershocks due to it being used before. It resets periodically which is why the Arch Mage kept it off limits and put a perception field around it so anyone unaware would fail to see the door.

      All the previous cast are long deceased in this time period. Flynne I’m thinking of having Yish as a distant ancestor. That would give her the ability to find the Letters deep in the Vault, be able to see the door and make her a good candidate for the trap. Mostly because the Amanuensis always thought Yish would do a better job than him. This was never meant to be anything but a novelette record of what he left behind as a historical account. While writing it Flynne became more of a character and by the time she reached the chamber this ending was self-writing along with the title Return of the Crow.

      Roger has already read this as a beta reader. His report has given me more inspiration to continue it.

      Must complete DS first though haha. Mind you it’s near 80k now and reaching the point where that stops and transitions to The Prison of Ice!

      1. Your mention of thaumic aftershocks reminded me of a Dean Koontz novel where the bad guys use a time device invented by Tesla to keep renewing and prolonging their lives – and even though the buildings and other setting details were old, everything appeared brand new. And I did like how you tipped us off those candles were bad news!

        1. Never trust a thaumaturges candle. Ok normally but if the time continuum is in flux then steer clear and drink tea. I think I’ve read that novel too. Long time ago now though. Might have to read it again now although my TBR pile is large and I should do better 🙄

  3. I Do like your writing style, conjures up a myriad of images, which is very very important to the reader.ni was trying to buy one of the books but got sidetracked. Will attend to it post hasteclol

    1. An unexpected surprise Wendi, or should I say DW? I’ve been writing for quite a few years now and this piece is from a Novelette called “Letters of the Amanuensis.” it’s part of a vast world build called Dragon Stone which I explore here developing back story. Feel free to explore too. There is a mix or fantasy (like this), sci-fi (see I Am Corona), gothic horror (Sanguisuge) and assorted supernatural horror. That said Dragon Stone is my current WIP.

      As for books in print, thus far I’ve not published and have a growing pile of manuscripts in waiting.

      Also, I’m not sure if this piece mentions The Vault. With my creation, you get better returns than LOGH!

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