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By Richard Fierce

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“There has often been theological debate as to who, or what, is behind the forces of evil. No one is certain, but there is one thing everyone agrees upon: whatever it is, it certainly calls the Viss Mountains home. The feeling of evil there is palpable.”

- from the Book of Faith

Year of the Divines 418

It was dark and cold. The distant sound of dripping water echoed throughout the narrow tunnel, part of a large system of interconnected passageways and caves deep in the Viss Mountains.A hooded figure navigated his way through them hesitantly, pausing every few paces to run his fingers along the stone walls. He desperately wanted to light a torch, but he knew it was a foolish thought. If he brought light into that chamber …

The figure halted as he felt the familiar sigils on the wall. He had traveled through this cave many times now, yet it seemed he could never memorize his way to the central chamber within the mountain.

“I sense you.” It was a sound unlike anything in his most insidious nightmares. “Come forth.”An intense fear overtook him. His breath came short and quick and he could feel his heart throbbing inside his chest. His hands began quivering so he clenched them into fists, hiding them within his robes. Closing his eyes momentarily, he forced a deep breath before stepping into the chamber.

Every rational thought told him to flee. A horrible feeling wriggled its way into his heart, melting his resolve like wax in a fire.

“You have carried out my instructions?”

The man crumbled to his knees. He could almost feel it hovering around him, able to see everything while he was as blind as a bat.

It was more of a demand than a question. The man could barely speak and meekly nodded his head. “I have arranged the bones in the cave as you said.” Something colder than ice touched his shoulder, causing his entire arm to go numb. It could only be the touch of his unholy master.

“You have pleased me. I shall reward your obedience when all falls into place.” It seemed to him that the words slithered across the cave like snakes, wrapping themselves around him.

“Yes … m-my … lord.”

“They thought they destroyed me. But I cannot be destroyed … no, I am eternal. And now … I will unleash hell upon the land.”

The man looked around futilely in the dark cave and could see nothing. But he could feel it. A shudder in the ground, a tremor in the walls. He could hear loose rocks clattering against each other as the rumbling grew stronger.

A wicked, cackling laughter erupted, making him flinch unexpectedly. Then silence. Suddenly there was a loud cracking sound, as if something were splitting open. He heard the roar echo out across the mountains, but he also heard the distinct sound of flapping wings.

An ancient and mighty creature had been awakened. The man couldn’t help but wonder: what have I done?

Death was coming. A dragon was coming.

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About Richard Fierce

Richard Fierce is a fantasy author best known for his novella The Last Page. He's been writing since childhood, but became seriously vested in it in 2007. Since then, he's written 7 novels and a few short stories.

In 2000, Richard won Poet of the Year for his poem The Darkness. He's also one of the creative brains behind the Allatoona Book Festival, a literary event in Acworth, Georgia.

A recovering retail worker, he now works in the tech industry when he's not busy writing.

He has three step-daughters, three huskies and two cats.

His love affair with fantasy was born in high school when a friend's mother gave him a copy of Dragons of Spring Dawning by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman.

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