A deafening screech sounded. Jarlon’s limbs vibrated from the piercing cry of a teledicthus. The dragon’s minions.
The twenty-foot-high shelves rumbled, and books rained down. Screams came from outside the library door. “Jarlon you must escape,” the king commanded. “Go into the forest and find the Lady of the Eyes. I need you safe. Go.”
The library doors flew open. A teledicthus, flapping large leather wings and screeching its horrible wail, flew into the room. The monster’s red face featured a mouth that was more like a barracuda than that of a bird. Its lower jaw was longer than the top, and both were lined with a double row of razor-sharp teeth. The creature’s large, black eyes darted about, then settled directly on the prince.
The master of arms pushed Jarlon toward the doorway, but the giant bird swooped closer. The soldier lifted his sword.
The teledicthus swiped. Blood sprayed from the soldier’s shoulder, and he fell. The bird screamed in triumph and flew upward, preparing to attack again.
Jarlon leapt to the soldier’s aid. Using a sleeve of his waistcoat, he made a tourniquet by tying it around the man’s arm to stop the bleeding.
The Sword of Legends in his hand, the king yelled to Jarlon to run and hide.
Jarlon looked up and saw the glistening teeth of the giant bird come closer. Blood covered the bottom double row. The beast then closed its mouth, and the blood vanished. The creature dove toward him.
Unsheathing his sword, Jarlon waited for his moment to strike. The wind from the teledicthus’ wings whisked across his cheek and a touch of saliva brushed his arm. He swung his saber at the bird’s neck.
The teledicthus dropped in midair to dodge the blade. Still, the bird did not avoid the sharp blow to the back of his head as Jarlon hit downward.
“Maglot!” he swore. He hit the bird squarely but with the flat side of his sword. The sharp end had failed to pierce the beast’s skin.
The teledicthus flew up and out of reach. A second screeching bird swooped into the room, and the two circled their prey, their sights set on the king.
Jarlon ran toward his uncle. Everything slowed. His heart pounded.
The teledicthus dove closer and closer still.
With arm held upward, Jarlon placed his body and his sword in front of the king, waiting for the beasts’ jaws to tear into his flesh. Instead, his uncle shoved him to the floor, and Jarlon watched the king ram the Sword of Legends into one of the great birds.
The bird fell dead.
Jarlon pushed himself to his feet but not in time.
The other teledicthus sliced into his uncle’s chest, leaving a gash that exploded in red and ran down the king’s robe. His uncle was dead!
A scream, more primal than any teledicthus could make, erupted from Jarlon. “No!”
The giant bird flew back to the roof of the library.
Watching it circle above, Jarlon held his sword tightly and waited to die. Then the stone floor rumbled beneath him. Something grabbed his leg.
Tryff! Where was he?
Jarlon looked down. A stone from the floor had been removed. He scrambled through the opening and dove into the darkness.