The Silver Talon, an epic fantasy by A.J. Cunder

The king of Farahdin paced across his throne room, his muscles twitching. In his hands he held a scepter almost one yard long and carved from polished redwood. Several minute fissures had formed in the wood, but they had been filled in with streaks of molten gold. The king looked at the Scepter gleefully. His finger traced the runes along its surface, and his eyes lingered on the gold embellishments. The silver symbols pulsed as his hand ran across the length of the instrument. 

“Today will bring me one step closer to absolute power!” he whispered feverishly. The throne room doors banged opened, and the king wheeled about to face his soldiers as they dragged a prisoner between them.

One of the soldiers spoke, “Great Master, it took fifteen Men to subdue him, and one of your Morgat as well.”

The Morgat, dressed all in black with piercing red eyes, stepped forward and hissed, “Silence! The king did not address you!”

The creature raised a hand to strike the soldier when the king stopped him. “No, Mythas. I am feeling…generous today. Happy, you might even call it. The captain may speak whenever he wishes.” The king’s eyes were not on the creature, though. They were riveted to the prisoner still struggling against the soldiers’ grip.  

The Morgat froze and then lowered its hand. “As you command, Dark Master of the Realm.” It stepped aside as Contemno approached.

Tapping his fingers against the Scepter, the king surveyed the man as he was forced to his knees. The prisoner wore a brown shirt with sleeves that covered his wrists. His hair was blond, and his eyes were blue-green. Contemno reached down and pulled up his right sleeve. A silver bracelet glimmered on the man’s wrist, and the king smiled. “So, the old man was right. Or, rather, his memories were right!” he chuckled. The soldiers all joined in the king’s laughter, though the Morgat remained silent.

The king looked at the Scepter, and then back at the prisoner, whose hair was long enough to obscure his eyes. “Do you know what this is?” Contemno asked. When the man remained silent, the king grabbed him by the hair and wrenched his head backward. “Of course you know what this is, Summoner.”

The prisoner spat, his mouth turning into a snarl. The captain struck the prisoner across the face.

Contemno watched as a trickle of blood dripped from the corner of the man’s mouth. “You know what I need,” he said. “I have this Scepter, capable of summoning all dragons, living and dead, bound to my command!” His feverish eyes glowed brighter. “But there is a problem,” he muttered. “With the cooperation of the old man who was here before you, I learned that I need several items for this instrument to work. First, I must have the blood of a living dragon and Ryù.” The king chewed the name in his mouth before spitting it out. “Second, the Summoner of Dragons must speak the incantation to activate the Scepter.” He smiled broadly. “And now he is in my hall!” The king laughed.

“Your creature killed my wife!” the prisoner screamed. “I would rather face all the torture in the world than speak the summons for you.”

Contemno shrugged. “No matter. The old man was defiant as well, but I have discovered a new way to extract information when it is not given willingly. A rather complicated and painful method that I would prefer not to use. But if you leave me no choice, I will not hesitate.”

A wild grin twisted the prisoner’s mouth. “Try,” was his only word.

Contemno clenched his jaw and thrust his hand onto the man’s head, only to be knocked backward, the Scepter flying from his grasp, as a blinding light seared the air where his hand had made contact.

The prisoner’s eyes gleamed. “Your efforts to wrest the summons out of me will fail! It is sealed by unconquerable ancient magic that exceeds even your power.” He laughed in spite of the soldiers who began to beat him.

Contemno stood up, his sable eyes raging. He lifted the Scepter and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. A drop of blood stained his black glove. “You are wrong,” he said quietly, his face darkening. “I will wring it from you if need be. You will sing my song before the week is done. You will beg for mercy by morning!” The king looked to the Morgat. “He is yours. Do whatever you wish, but ensure he remains alive. If he dies, you will wish that you could suffer as he will.”

The Morgat’s eyes glowed even brighter. “As you command, Great Master.”

The creature strode out of the hall, signaling the King’s Men to drag the prisoner. The man resisted feebly, but still he smiled. The silver bracelet burned brightly, and Contemno shielded his eyes with a hand.

When the hall was empty save for the king, Contemno howled and flung the Scepter across the room. It smashed against the wall, shattering into pieces. The moment the fragments touched the floor, they fused back together. "Ancient magic," Contemno growled. "All magic will be mine to command! All of it! The world will be mine!" The throne room echoed his claim. 

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