Dragon Valley

Nature’s magic is always strongest in the gloaming. The gatherers know it. The wraiths who hunt them know it.

A haunting song, melodic and melancholy at the same time, rose up from the mist. The gatherers stopped and listened for the answering songs, but only one responded. The valley echoed with dragon songs once, now they were fewer and fewer. Soon, there would be none if they couldn’t halt the disease claiming the dragons, but gatherers with the gift of healing were nearly as rare as the dragons. The disease claimed the dragons, and the wraiths claimed the gatherers.

The gatherers picking their way through the rocks knew time was short if they were to find the treasured herbs before sunup. Wisp stones glowed with an ethereal pale blue radiance, lighting their way and yet they stepped carefully through the rocky gulch.

Dragon Valley at dawn was a place of life and magic normally. Earth magic was most powerful in the first hours with the pale golden veil of first sunlight. Many herbs only bloomed at night and closed tightly when the dew faded along with their vigorous arcane energy. Some ores could only be detected in the early morning hours.

The gatherers picking their way through the rocks knew time was short if they were to find the treasures. Wisp stones lit their way dimly, but they stepped carefully through shadows of the rocky gulch, knowing one misstep would send them tumbling.

“Dragon’s blood.” Elrhyn whispered it softly as if she were afraid the mere mention would attract unwanted attention.

 The group stopped, turning to look at her. “Where?” asked the young man in front of them.

“I’m not sure,” she replied, “but I can smell it. It’s near.” She crouched down, weaving he wisp stone slowly before her, searching for the deep scarlet splotches she knew were close. Her head raised, like a hound casting for the scent of prey. “There.” She crawled slowly to her left. Her free hand swept in front of her until she touched the low-growing plant hidden in a rocky crevice. The nearly maroon flowers nestled deep within the nest of soft green leaves, peeking out of the rough, gray rocks.