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A Warning: As Told to Clayton Trembell
I had walked to the Trinsic gates that night. As a young, well trained warrior, I felt prepared for anything the undead armies of Juo'nar could throw at us. No, of course, I wasn't alone. I might only be as yet an inexperienced warrior, but I'm only idiot enough to go to Trinsic... not to go alone. I could see my own nervousness echoed in the fidgeting of my comrades, but when any of our eyes met, we smiled bravely. Roland, the most experienced of us, took a deep breath and then began climbing over the barricade. 

I moved to follow, when suddenly the silence of the night was blasted by a shrill roar. In the distance, I saw a flash of light, but it quickly disappeared. Roland by this time was on the other side of the barricade... alone. He turned and beckoned to us to follow, and then looked on in puzzlement as we began edging backwards. Despite the overriding desire to turn and flee, I somehow found control of my arm, lifted it and pointed behind Roland. And began to whimper. Roland, sensing the fear in my stance and manner, blinked his eyes and then turned around in one sudden movement. I stood terrified, afraid to move forward but somehow resisting the urge to run away in panic and leave my friend. All of our other companions had fled. 

A large dark shape ducked down under the sandstone arch at the entrance of the town and bent down towards Roland. Puffs of flame escaped the sides of the dragon's mouth as it slid nearer to Roland... stopping barely a foot away from him. From just behind the massive beast, I heard soft laughter. Nothing menacing... almost inviting. From out of the shadow of the dragon strolled a woman. She was dressed in a revealing black leather outfit that contrasted harshly with her pale skin. The staff she carried shimmered a faint but resilient blue. She whipped her raven black hair playfully and then stroked the dragon's head between the two great piercing eyes that remained locked on Roland. 

The woman turned to Roland and said, “Dost thou know who I am?” Roland didn't move a muscle or dare reply, though I did notice a puddle down by his feet that had not been there before. The woman noticed it as well and laughed harmoniously. “I supposed ye do.” 

She glanced at me and then back at Roland. “I'd like the two of ye to do me a favor... thou would both be willing to do me a favor, wouldn’t ye?” she asked. I couldn't speak for Roland at this point, but I was certain that any attempt I made at a reply would result in total panic followed quickly by an abbreviated effort at escape and the kind of heat only freshly smithed swords ever know. 

“Good,” she continued, not really expecting a reply, “I want ye to bring a message from me to everyone ye meet. Tell them the story of how we met. But more importantly, I want ye to tell them the fate of those who try to bring dragons, or any enslaved animal for that matter, into Minax's realm.” She closed with a dark chuckle that was spared the burden of any humor. 

At that the dragon raised his head. Roland uttered a feeble cry and collapsed in a motionless heap. The dragon ignored Roland, lifted its head over the barricade, and spit something dark toward me. It landed with a crispy squish and lay before me on the ground twitching. 

One of the former tamer's hands appeared to have merged with the scorched wood of what was probably once a very nice shepherd's crook. He convulsed on the ground. I could almost hear him screaming soundlessly when one eye fluttered open painfully and stared directly at me. He seemed to be begging for death. Minax watched him in amusement, then her deep, soulless eyes met mine and she said forebodingly, "Oh yes, he'll live on for quite some time yet in exquisite agony. Make sure not to leave out that delicious little detail when ye recount the deeds of this night.” She chuckled again, and I could feel any thoughts of manhood draining from my body and fleeing into the black sky. 

“Farewell, my puppets, I'm sure we'll meet again.” And with that she and the dragon turned and left. 

I sit in the bars of Britain each night retelling this tale. It's dark outside now. I order another ale and wait for the sun to arise. I recently vowed never again to set foot into a dark night. The only thing I fear more than that night is the thought that Minax would actually come after me for not doing so. The smell of leather fills my nostrils, and my ale slips from my hand as I begin to panic. I prepare to leap over the bar and hide beneath it when I notice that it is only a warrior wearing armor made of leather. Still shaking, I stand with my hands on the bar trying to slow my breathing back to normal. Then I go over to where the warrior is sitting and a surreal calm say, “I had walked to the Trinsic gates that night...”

Published: March 2000
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
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