Excerpt from Dragon Pendant

Last year for my birthday challenge, I posted excerpts from both novels and a short story to my blog.  As I promised something challenge-worthy for this week, here is the prologue from Dragon.  Enjoy!

Te’Kalyn stretched as her body finished its transformation.   The space between her shoulder blades itched terribly, as always, and the pendant that now hung from her neck was warm against her skin.  She took two steps across the room to a small table next to a mirror.  Her eyes were focused on the prize lying on the table. Greedily she reached for the medallion.  The weight in her hand was much more substantial now that she was in this smaller, weaker physical form.  She absently rubbed her thumb across the symbols and images carved into the unusual metal.  This talisman had cost her dearly, although she was shrewd enough to guarantee its effectiveness before making her purchase.  She was also smart enough to know that the maker was only a liability, and to ensure his inability to speak of what he had made for her.  A satisfied smile crept across her face.  It revealed the pointed teeth that, along with cat-slit pupils, betrayed Te’Kalyn as a Khai in human form.   Fortunately, the irises of her eyes were so dark as to be black, concealing the pupils, and it was easy enough not to smile.

Slipping the medallion into the pouch on her belt, Te’Kalyn paused to admire her carefully created appearance in the mirror.  Small and slender, a black a-line skirt and white buttoned-down shirt accentuated her petite frame and strikingly pale skin.  The professional image of the outfit was spoiled by her chunky black boots and the black collar that hugged her slim neck.  Her black hair, so dark it barely shone in the light, was cut in a short, spiky style that still made her look feminine.

Pleased with the overall effect, she confidently strode toward the door of her home.   She stopped long enough to don a flowing hooded cloak made of rich black velvet, in order to make herself less incongruous while still on Erova.  Walking was not her usual mode of transport, but horses would not pretend to tolerate her presence, much less suffer her to ride.  Walking would be her only choice.  Fortunately, her destination was not far, and she had magic enough even in this shape to keep herself comfortable no matter what the weather.

The path to the ruins was dirt, well compacted but with the intrusions of plant life that disuse brings to a road.  Ancient fir trees shadowed the lane, their lowest branches high above Te’Kalyn’s head.  Birds stilled their voices as she walked near them; they recognized a Khai as a predator regardless of her current shape.  The world around her provided little distraction to the young woman, absorbed as she was in her own thoughts and plans.  She was finally within yards of her lifelong goal, finally near the ruins and her passageway to another world, a world more suited to her tastes and desires.

Te’Kalyn walked around a bend in the road and the ruins suddenly loomed ahead of her.  She had spent the last year overseeing her servants as they meticulously rebuilt one wall of the damaged structure.  The original stones, identified by magic, had been collected from their scattered resting places.  Three smaller ones had even been recovered from the walls of her own home.   Now, standing again where it had stood centuries ago, was a gateway.   Te’Kalyn gently stroked the smooth wood of the door.  This was the only part of the gate that was not original, for the door had long since deteriorated.  It had taken weeks of magical work to recreate the door – for something this important, a substitute could not be used.  Everything about the gateway must be identical in magical signature to the original structure in order for it to work.  The Khai had not been pleased at the amount of magical energy that the re-creation had required, but it was fundamental to her goal, and so she had spent herself dry for days on end.

Now, at last, she had received the final requirement for passage: a gate medallion.  The slimy little magician who had created the metal disk in her pouch had somehow managed to steal and duplicate a very strategic key, one of the few that could open any gateway, regardless of age or deactivation.  This theft and the subsequent results of his work had proven the depth of the man’s talents; it had been unfortunate that she had been unable to allow him to continue using those gifts.  It had been quite enjoyable to watch the man twitch and struggle as she slowly drained the life from him, his painful whimpers turning to agonized screams as she finished him off with flame.

Smiling a little to herself at the pleasing memory, Te’Kalyn removed the medallion from her pouch and approached the gateway.  Making certain that the symbols were oriented correctly, the Khai reached up and placed the surface of the disk against the matching depression in the stone to the right of the door.  She used a tiny trickle of magic to activate the disk, and the metal warmed in her hand.

For a moment, nothing happened.  Te’Kalyn was unsure if the process would work; each part had been done correctly, but with a rebuilt gate, a replica of the door, and a magical duplicate of the medallion, there was always the possibility that a flaw had found its way in.  After a moment, though, the wood began to give off a glow visible to the Khai’s other sight, and she smiled insidiously.  Placing her hand on the knob, she opened the door, shed her cloak, and stepped through into a different world, the first Khai in a generation to venture onto Earth.