And so it begins… I am posting The Dragon Pendant (post-first-pass-copyediting) for your enjoyment every Thursday (hopefully; trying to be consistent without chaining myself too much 😵)

Chapter 1: The Shadow of the Past

“Happy birthday, Ebony!”
Ebony took the small packet from her mother’s fragile hands and looked at her. She smiled her tired smile, the one that always meant she was fighting the pain. Her mother settled back in her wheelchair and waited, and Ebony couldn’t help remembering the old days, when her mother could walk and run and dance and teach Kung Fu.

Her father took a seat across the table from Ebony and leaned forward. Something about this was strange. Something was happening that she didn’t understand. She looked searchingly at both of her parents, but they only smiled a little and waited. No explanations. She inhaled deeply. Her quick fingers popped up the tape and unraveled the wrapping paper.

A box. A small, simple, standard cardboard box. Ebony lifted the lid and peeked inside. Glinting up at her fatefully was a pendant, like blue-green glass or crystal, like the sea captured in a diamond. It was small, no bigger than a dime and about twice as thick. She stared at it. She had seen it before. Her father had worn it all the time for as long as she could remember. She looked up at her parents, confused.

Her mother pushed her dark hair back from her face, pulling it down on one side. “We have a story to tell you, Ebony. A story that goes with the gift. Do you have time before your club rehearsal?”

Ebony nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure they can wait.”

“Alright then,” her father said. “You know that your brother Xalo is missing. I’m going to tell you why you’ve never had the chance to meet him. Your mother and I, well, we come from another place, and we did not leave it willingly. It broke our hearts, because it tore our son from us forever, without even allowing us to say goodbye. You were born after we began our lives here, and though we searched for a way to return and tried year after year… we could not.”

Ebony’s eyes flicked between her parents. Both were sad, immeasurably sad, Ebony thought, but they had set themselves to the story and would not stop until they had finished. “Why couldn’t you go back?” she asked.

“Because it wasn’t anywhere in this world that we wished to return to,” her mother explained. “We wanted to get back to Mystra. To the sister world of Earth, split off sometime in the few hundred years after the fall of Rome.”

“What was it like? That other place, I mean,” Ebony asked.

“Beautiful,” her mother said. “It was green and alive. Low hills and rolling plains, heavy rains and warm sun. The hush of winter’s sleep, so still but tense with waiting life. The rush of spring, bursting out in eager chattering life and growth. The rich and heavy summer as it settles into mature strength. And the autumn, when the touch of sleeping death comes to the world and the sky mourns and weeps! There is no place here quite like it. Not that I’ve ever seen. I’ve never stopped missing it and what it held for us, not since the day your father and I were exiled from our world into this, and the Gate was sealed against us. We at least may never return. Not by that way.”

“And it is the only Gate known to us. Or to any of our friends, even those skilled in the Arts.”

“That’s awful!” Ebony said. “What exactly do you mean by ‘the Arts’? You can’t mean like painting.”

“No,” her father said with a slight smile. “I’m referring to the power that binds the world together, that makes it up and holds it together and keeps it functioning; it is the Essence. It is, I believe, the same as what Earth calls magic. Masters of the Arts know how to shape and change the Essence without damaging the world itself. Certain skills are easy to learn and with little risk to the world. Others require extensive training and wisdom to master. Such is the matter of Gates. Opening a Gate between worlds is dangerous to say the least, and takes great skill and knowledge. I knew a man once who spent his life researching Gates. None knew more of them than he, but for all his searching, Coriarkin never found another besides the one already known.”

“Why were you and mother exiled? I don’t understand why anyone would do that to you. It’s just cruel!” Ebony frowned, calming the anger she felt building in her at the unknown people who had done this.

“Well…” her mother hesitated and glanced at her father.

“We were in the way. We had gotten in the way once too many for some power-hungry people who didn’t like what we stood for and what we stood against. They were angry when the captured us, and it was due in no small part to venting their anger that they did everything they did. This way, we’ll never be in their way again.”

Ebony glanced at him through her black hair. There was something he wasn’t telling her, but she didn’t press for it. It wouldn’t work anyway. If he wasn’t going to tell her, he wasn’t going to tell her, and that was that. But there was more to the story, a part she hadn’t been told yet. And it was coming.

“Before the day we were caught and forced through the Gate into this world, Ohbi Whan came to me,” her father said. “He was an old friend of mine, had actually instructed me a little in the Arts. He gave me that pendant and told me to seek out Coriarkin. I asked what it was, because he told me to keep it with utmost secrecy and care, even to guarding it with my life. He said only that Coriarkin could tell me, and that I was the only one he trusted. He said, ‘tell Coriarkin these exact words, and he can help you:

The time will come.

Seek for the Dragonborn.

The one who holds the power lost.

The one who makes the stars dance.

The one to right the wronged,

To repair the broken,

To return the stolen,

And to restore the dying.

The hope of the world.

The hope of all the worlds.

The one foretold. The one to come.

The day, the year, the time

It has come now, not before

The fifth among us will end it.

The Apocalypse will bow before them.

And if you do what must be done,

If you right the wronged,

Repair the broken,

Return the stolen,

And restore the dying,

You will have done what no one has ever before done,

And been what no one has ever before been.

You are the only Dragonborn.

He will know the meaning of these words and explain everything to you.’”

“You remembered all that all these years?” Ebony asked, amazed.

“He made me repeat it until I could remember it perfectly without even thinking. The words have stuck with me ever since. A thing that gets you exiled like that usually remains. And most of it was bits of the Dragonborn Prophecy, which everyone in Mystra knows by heart practically as soon as they learn to talk.”

“Can you write it down for me sometime? I’d like to memorize it myself.”

Her father smiled and pointed to the box. On the bottom was a folded piece of paper she hadn’t noticed before. She unfolded it and glanced at, recognizing the lines. She tucked it into her pocket.

“So they exiled you because of the pendant? Why?”

“I think it must have contributed. They didn’t know I had the pendant, because Ohbi Whan had told me to keep it a secret, so I had. And I think it was because I refused to give them anything but non-information that they got so angry. I mean, they had reason to be angry at us before, of course, but that angry? I don’t know, honestly.”

“We were on our way to Coriarkin to get an interpretation and find out what this was all about,” her mother put in. “Before Ohbi Whan met us, we were on our way to visit… some people, and had left Xalo in the care of Dancia, an old friend of mine, while we were away for our short trip. Then Ohbi Whan met us in secret on our way, gave us this pendant, and we changed course and headed to find Coriarkin. And then we were nabbed by this group of radicals that, well, we weren’t exactly on friendly terms with, and they interrogated us.”

“They didn’t offer us any choices at the end. They just said ‘enough!’ and threw us through the Gate into this world. And that was that. The end of it all. We never could return, and no one, that we know of at least, has ever come through after. We made Gotham our home because it was here, on these streets, that we found ourselves when we came through the Gate, and we never completely gave up the hope that someday it might open again, and somehow we might find a way back through.”

Ebony looked from her mother’s face, filled with quiet sadness, to her father’s face, lost in time-buried pain and loss. She lifted the fine, nearly invisible silver chain of the pendant and slipped it around her neck. It was like putting on her parents’ story, the sadness, the pain, the loss, the strength and hope through it all, around her neck. She tucked it beneath her shirt, just as her father always had. Together they sat, staring at the table, their thoughts far away in a distant world, flooded with an impossible story that no one here but the three of them would ever believe.

Author’s Commentary: Yes, I know. That was a shamelessly undisguised information dump. You’re welcome. 

{Read Chapter 2: When The Sky Rips here}

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