Servant of the Dragon

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Book: Servant of the Dragon by Drake David Read Free Book Online
Authors: Drake David
Tags: Speculative Fiction
to tie off the shuttle before they moved it. Behind her the old soldier added in a husky whisper, "You'll like it a lot better than you do hopping like a toad for the rest of your life; and that's not the worst might happen if you got snorky about helping the lady. Understand?"
    Ilna shivered, but she pretended she hadn't heard the comment.
    Garric's body continued sleeping on the couch in the conference room. His mind got up from it and strolled out of the building. He didn't have any control over his movements, though that didn't concern him at the moment. He supposed he was dreaming.
    Garric's legs swung in their usual long stride, but he was moving faster than a walking man and not travelling through space alone. He recognized all the places he passed, but many were in Barca's Hamlet, not Valles, and some were from out of the waking world.
    The people Garric met were shadows, but sometimes they spoke to him and he replied. He couldn't hear the exchanges, even the words that came from his own lips.
    He was alone for the first time since his father had given him a coronation medal of King Carus. When Garric hung that ancient gold disk against his chest, he and had Carus begun to share an existence closer than twins, closer than spouses. But now—
    Garric felt for the medallion. It lay back with his sleeping self. He straightened his shoulders and let the dream carry him where it would.
    He reached a bridge and started across. Behind him was Valles; beyond... he couldn't be sure. Sometimes Garric saw shining walls; other glimpses were of ruins which might once have been the same buildings. The structure underfoot felt more solid than stone, though to Garric's eyes he was walking on a tracery of blue light, a fairy glow without substance.
    Garric reached the far end of the bridge. It was daylight here, though it had been early dusk in Valles when he left his couch. Before him was a city which at the time of its glory must have been magnificent; it was breathtaking even now. He strode toward it.
    Modern Valles might be larger; Carcosa in the days of King Carus and the Old Kingdom was far greater yet. In the richness of its fittings, though, nothing Garric knew from his own day or the past could compare with what this place must once have been.
    He was walking up an esplanade paved with slabs of red granite, each as wide as Garric was tall and twice as long. The labor of cutting and smoothing such hard stone made him blink.
    The blocks were cocked and broken, by time and the roots of trees crawling from the median plantings. The surface should have been as hard to walk on as a seascape frozen in the middle of a lashing storm. In this dream existence, the footing didn't hinder Garric.
    Pedestrian porticos flanked the roadway. Some of the arches had collapsed. The core was fitted stones rather than the concrete and rubble of similar constructions in ancient Carcosa.
    The buildings to either side were stone also, but originally metal had covered them. Some had worn tin, decayed now to powdery tendrils trailing from the cracks between close-fitting blocks. Others had been clad in sheets of copper and bronze whose blue-green revenants still stained the walls.
    Garric frowned. He'd heard of this place, but as a myth of the final days before the fall of the Old Kingdom. A fragment from a discourse of the philosopher Andron, captured in a quirky anonymous compendium entitled The Dress of All Peoples in All Times. He couldn't remember the exact words or the claimed location, but he recalled the description of residents wearing striped clothing which reflected variously according to the color of the mirroring walls they passed beside.
    A dream of a myth? These ruins had a solid reality.
    He walked toward the vast building at the end of the esplanade. The three stages of its facade were supported by pillars of equal height, but those of the middle level were more slender than the massive columns beneath them, while delicate

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