And then the sound of marching feet sounded, though not like boots on the ground, but like talons on stonework.
‘Vaurotha,’ Glaril said, nudging him in the ribs. ‘I think I can guess which of our allies are about to arrive.’
Vaurotha nodded, smiling more than ever before. ‘Dracobites.’
And then they appeared. A multitude of colours, often tinted with others, wearing armour that, in most cases, matched the colour of their scales.
Their heads were long and crocodilian, and occasionally a Dracobite would appear without a helmet. Some had horns, others didn’t, and most had colourful crests that looked like hair.
They were tall and straight-backed, their wings folded neatly at their backs, and their tails swaying rhythmically as they marched, the craws of their feet tapping on the ground.
Their armour, Vaurotha saw, was made of small steel plates, connected by rivets and lace, and seemed to be attached to leather backing.
He turned to Hala, and asked, ‘Why are there so many different colours?’
Hala chuckled. ‘I thought you would have read about this.’ He sighed, though not as if frustrated. ‘The Dracobite’s Empire is made up of thirteen regions. Each region was the original home of a tribe, and each tribe had a unique scale colour. Now, although the tribes have mixed, each region uses that scale colour as the regional colour, and they use that colour for their armour.’
He laughed. ‘Put simply, it’s a way to identify which Dracobite comes from which region.’
Vaurotha laughed in reply. ‘I get it.’
As the Dracobites reached the Great Tower, he noticed the swords. They were made of folded steel, and were slightly curved.
Some carried spears, which were topped with a similar style of blade, and the bows looked a lot different from the bows he had used.
They seemed sturdier, and looked to be reinforced.
‘Bamboo,’ Hala whispered, having noticed Vaurotha’s confusion.
The Dracobites halted simultaneously, and from the midst one stepped out, accompanied by two guards in golden armour.
But it was the one who had stepped forward first that interested Vaurotha.
He had a thin, wispy moustache that hung down far below his chin, and his scales were almost pure gold, though with a slight tint of red and purple.
‘That is the Emperor,’ Hala whispered. ‘Zen’Kamus. He’s quite old now, but the way he carries himself doesn’t suggest that at all.’
‘His Honour, of course,’ Vaurotha said, smiling. ‘That, I have definitely read about.’
The Emperor entered the Great Tower, accompanied by the two guards – the Emperor’s Private Guard according to Hala – and then disappeared.
A Dracobite standing at the front of the column stepped forward, and turned to address the soldiers.
He adjusted his wings slightly, and ran a hand along his golden, red-tinted scales and cleared his throat.
He addressed the soldiers in the native tongue of the Dracobites, but from his reading, and experience with the other allies, Vaurotha could tell it was an order to spread out and spend time with the Doomlaxen.
The Dracobite who had stepped forward approached Vaurotha and Hala, and upon reaching them smiled.
Vaurotha could scarcely tell it was a smile, and was only aware when Hala smiled back.
A new extract. This time, an introduction to the Dracobites.
Kyle J Durrant
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