The third snippet for The Uncommon Rider is here!
Have you been waiting for the third snippet for The Uncommon Rider? Well, here it is! Dragons are awesome, aren’t they?
The fountain pen scratched against the parchment, making one of Hiker Wallace’s favorite sounds in the world. He liked simple things: the smell of coffee, the sounds of the morning and a long ride over the Expanse.
He glanced up, his eyes finding the crackling flames in the fireplace, slightly mesmerizing him as he thought about what else to include in that day’s log.
Flipping to the page before, he read yesterday’s entry and frowned. It was pretty much identical to the one from this day. He turned back to the week prior, then the month before and finally last year. Almost all the submissions were the same. The Dragon Elite always did the same thing at the Gullington: ate, trained, studied, cared for the dragons and got plenty of rest. Still, Hiker always kept the log. Records were important, even if they didn’t differ from day to day.
He closed the log book and sat back in his chair, his gaze drifting out the window to where the Pond stretched for as far as he could see, even with his enhanced vision. Lately the monotony of each day had made him restless, waking him up with dreams of the life he lived before mortals were blinded to magic. It wasn’t so bad though. Usually he could put himself back to sleep. He wasn’t like Adam, who was consumed with picking back up the dragon rider’s mission.
The world wasn’t ready yet though, Hiker thought, pushing up from his desk and striding back and forth in front of the fireplace.
The older dragon rider hungered for the fight again, the chase. He wanted to take back the mantle of the Elite, resuming the role as adjudicators for the mortal world.
They weren’t ready, Hiker told himself, although it was getting harder to convince himself of that since the mortal world could see magic again.
Long ago, Hiker, Adam and many more dragon riders had ruled the world, intervening in the affairs of mortals—keeping peace. And then one day, the dragons were all like ghosts, unseen by mortals.
That simply made the riders of the Dragon Elite appear like loons, professing that they had dragons. Overnight, mortals had forgotten about magic and worse, they couldn’t see it. What was the point in serving as the judge, jury and executioner to a world who didn’t believe they existed?
And so, the Dragon Elite had disappeared, many of them confining themselves inside the Gullington. Since the world couldn’t see them, they were soon lost.
Not all stayed in the confines of the Elite’s headquarters known as the Gullington. They were too restless to be confined. Some disappeared. Some mysteriously died. And the others—Hiker and Adam, simply learned how to exist.
The world outside the Gullington changed, but the Dragon Elite knew nothing of it. They stayed inside the Barrier for the most part, wondering if they’d die without a purpose.
And then, very recently, everything changed. Hiker wouldn’t have even known about it if not for their housekeeper, Ainsley. She’d been at the market, buying the food for the week. She ran all the way back, not shifting into her normal appearance when she stormed into Hiker’s office. He pulled his sword, wondering what the old strange man was doing there. Ainsley shifted back to her normal appearance, her auburn hair framing her pointy chin.
“Sir, I have news,” she stated, curtsying to him in her normal manner.
“Go on then,” Hiker had demanded, sheathing the sword he hadn’t used in quite some time.
“Mortals can see magic again,” she’d said in a hush.
Those five words should have changed everything for the Elite, but they didn’t.
Presently, Hiker strode back over to the log book and flipped it open again, reading the entry from that day when Ainsley brought the news from the village. There had been a celebration among the riders then. They had consumed more mead in a day than in a year. There had been much talk about the future. About mortals.
He flipped to the next day. It read the same as the day before. And then the day after that… until things went back to how they had been. The Dragon Elite woke, ate, trained, studied, cared for the dragons, and got plenty of rest.
Even after the news that mortals were finally awake again, nothing had changed for the riders and their leader was responsible for that. It hadn’t been an easy call for Hiker to make, but he still stood by it.
Mortals weren’t ready.
“Give them a few hundred years to adjust to magic before we startle them with dragons,” he’d told Adam.
His oldest friend and fellow rider, hadn’t been happy about this. The two had disputed it time and time again. But Adam knew Hiker was right. Mortals needed time to adjust. According to Ainsley, just the sight of a fairy flying around the market had sent many mortals running, locking themselves in their cottages. How would they react when a dragon flew down from the sky, and a rider slid off it, stating they were there to oversee all disputes among mortals?
They would panic.
And then it would be another few hundred years of solitude for the Elite. Hiker could handle that. He had.
Adam though. It would kill him, as it had many a rider before.
No, it was better for everyone if the Dragon Elite stayed put, safe inside the Barrier. Then when mortals were ready, the riders would reign once more.
He went to check the log again, thinking there was something that he could add. Quiet, the gnome, had caught an extra fish that day. That was worth noting.
Picking up his fountain pen, Hiker, began to add to the log when the globe that sat next to the bank of windows displaying the Pond beeped.
He jerked up. Dropped his pen. Eyes widened.
It had been a century since he’s heard that noise.
The pen rolled across the desk and dropped onto the oak floor, landing with a crash. Hiker jumped, looking down at the still rolling pen. He pulled his eyes back to the globe. Five red dots were lit on the huge globe that was inlaid with gold from the giants. The stone had made up the bulk of the sphere mined from the gnome’s caves. And the wood was the finest Polynesian given to the Dragon Elite by the elves. And the magic that tracked every dragon rider on Earth was gifted to them by the magicians, specifically the warriors of the House of Fourteen.
The globe was more than an incredible art piece made up by the major magical races. It was the way Hiker tracked the riders, which hadn’t been a problem in…a long, long time. Hiker had little reason to keep track of the riders since they’d stayed inside the Gullington, for the most part. But…
He strode over, hoping it was a glitch.
The magicians messed up long ago and the problem was only now becoming apparent, he told himself.
Or maybe the metals, wood and stones had made the magic malfunction and the gnomes, giants and elves were to blame.
He swiveled the globe around until he found the blinking red dot.
It had been a long time since Hiker had sucked in a gasp like the one that assaulted his chest.
It wasn’t a malfunction.
It was one of his.
It was Adam.
He was in trouble.
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