Once upon a time, there was a majestic female dragon named Fulgoris. She was the undisputed queen of the skies of the Enchanted Valley.
In those days, the Valley was a peaceful place and all of its inhabitants lived in harmony.
In particular, the dragons were the balance keepers of the whole kingdom.
They were incredibly intelligent and able to communicate telepathically between each other. Every one of them had special powers, according to their species.
Above all, they were known as Guardians of the Semsons, the seeds of life.
They allowed life to flourish everywhere. They looked like a gold dust and smelled like sulfur.
In their absence, the most experienced plow and the most fertile ground would not be enough for a seed to sprout.
Similarly, a cow would not give birth to her calves and a bee would not pollinate a flower. Where there was a Semson, there was life.
Fulgoris, one of the most elegant beings of the kingdom, had incredible flight capabilities and for this reason, she was the main protector of the Valley.
Her emerald eyes could see miles away and could detect even the slightest suspicious movement.
Because of her presence as a guardian of heaven and earth, everybody in the Enchanted Valley could sleep soundly at night.
The Enchanted Valley at the Age of the Dragons was a fertile and prosperous land. The forests thrived, and the flora and fauna boasted an endless variety of species.
Everything was in perfect order.
In that time, of course, the human race also existed, although it was not yet so developed and evil. It used to live in harmony with the rest of the system.
There was an excellent communication between dragons and humans, but humans could not even compare with the dragons' sensitivity and wisdom.
It was a beautiful day in the Age of the Dragons, when Fulgoris found the twins who gave life to the history of the two kingdoms.
Fulgoris soared high in the clear morning air, when she suddenly heard a strange noise.
She subtly folded her colorful wings to descend in altitude and began to glide over the tops of the pines.
From there, she could distinctly hear some wailings. Thanks to her sharp sight, able to filter the texture of foliage, she spotted an abandoned basket on the shore of Rio Mastro.
It was stuck on the sand and little waves broke onto it, making it sway back and forth.
Fulgoris landed silently, gracefully.
She approached the basket cautiously. From there came a muffled cry, which almost created a melody together with the lapping of the waves.
Inside, two small human babies, exactly alike, were about to face a new life.
From the very moment she found them, Fulgoris took care of the twins and put them under her wing. She looked after them maternally, as if they were her own cubs.
Not only did she keep them safe in rainy nights, but also provided them with food and helped them to take their first steps. She even taught them how to fly riding a dragon, being therefore the kings of the heavens.
Obviously, she made sure that they learned the customs and habits of their race as well, so she decided to give them a place into the community of men.
The twins were welcomed into one of the best families, and thus, they learned the fundamental values of the human race: honor, strength, wisdom,
and, above all, the respect for the system of the Enchanted Valley, for the delicate Semsons, the pillars of the life cycle, and for the dragons, the secular guardians of peace.
Thanks to Fulgoris, Gladius and Barbaridor, these the names that the human community had given to the twins, were formidable intermediaries between the two species.
This led to an even deeper understanding than in the past. This was the brightest era ever known in the Enchanted Valley.
While growing, Gladius and Barbaridor revealed how the contact between the worlds of humans and dragons had made them special.
They both were great communicators and people admired them for their intelligence.
As time passed, they acquired the ancient wisdom accumulated over the centuries by the dragons, as well as the adaptability of the humans.
One day, the inhabitants of the Valley decided it would have been fair to allow the twins, who were now adults, to guide the people. They consulted with the dragons and had their approval.
Moreover, the Rio Mastro was established as the boundary between the lands to the east, entrusted to Barbaridor, and those to the west, under the guidance of Gladius.
The two kingdoms were run peacefully for many years.
However, as Barbaridor grew old, he became increasingly greedy and tyrannical,
while Gladius was celebrated for his great generousity for distributing the Semsons within all his realm; which helped his land to become rich and its people to prosper.
This provoked Barbaridor's anger and envy. His frustrations deeply affected his kingdom and his people were suffering because of his selfishness.
Indeed, Barbaridor began to think that guiding the people gave him the right to privileges. He began to feel superior to those whom he now considered his "subjects".
He decided that from then on, he would not equally distribute the Semsons among the beings of his reign. He left the others with just the bare minimum to survive and kept everything else for himself.
The realm located to the east of the river grew to know poverty and deprivation so much that it was called Miseridom, or kingdom of misery.
The reign to the west, on the contrary, was named Excelsior, or kingdom of excellence.
Barbaridor's selfishness became so strong that it turned him into a corrupt and wicked man.
He wanted to overcome his brother, but he could not compete in terms of justice and virtuosity, so he decided to alter the life cycle, to beat him in immortality.
However, to do so, he needed to gather even more power and to seize all the Semsons of the Enchanted Valley.
He then appealed to magic and uttered a curse against Gladius and his kingdom.
He deprived all the living beings in Excelsior of their right to life. He condemned them to live as prisoners within a space from which it was impossible to leave.
To ensure that, he spread Dragovamps, mortal bloodsucking monsters, all over the border. There grew a thick forest of impenetrable thorns, which was called Lockwood.
However, the most dismal part of the curse concerned the Semsons. He dragged every bit of Semson away from Excelsior and seized it. That is how he became immortal.
The flowers, the fruits, and the rich vegetation of Excelsior withered slowly. Animals stopped reproducing, and so did humans and dragons. The balance was broken.
However, Gladius did not remain helpless in front of the dreadful spectacle, but invoked his supernatural power to utter a mighty spell in return.
He knew that only the dragons could restore the former glory, so he announced that a day would come a dragon able to break the curse.
Unfortunately, for the spell to take effect, he had to make use of all his powers and that left him exhausted and lifeless.
As soon as Barbaridor learned about the counter-spell, he made a drastic decision: if a dragon could break the curse, then all the dragons would have to die.
He led a fierce massacre, butchering all of the dragons of the Valley and destroyed all of their eggs. He sought and hunted them in every corner on heaven and earth. There was no escape.
He killed most of them personally, even the lovely Fulgoris, that, until the end, could not fight back the man she once considered as her son.
The dragons were extinct. The Enchanted Valley no longer existed. Hope seemed lost.
Those were very dark times. Excelsior seemed destined to succumb inevitably, repeating the fate of Miseridom.
Rarely would one hear the cheerful shouts of children in the streets.
Most of the plants were dried up and the flowers had withered. Dragons were only a distant legend that no one believed.
It was a lost land without guidance, where everybody struggled to survive.
A few gone crazy and desperate ventured deep into the borders of the kingdom trying to cross the threshold of the Lockwoods. They never returned, or they were found later, pale and lifeless.
It was said that eternal darkness had fallen around Excelsior, as if to seal the death of an era. And the dragovamps, who were nocturnal creatures, spread terror all around.
No one had ever been able to spot them, or rather, no one had ever come back to tell.
The old Barbaridor had retired to his castle on top of the highest peak of the Valley, where he was surrounded by a few faithful and evil followers.
Darkness fell on everything that had once been Miseridom, which now was nothing but a heap of rubble and death.
Such was the time Frenk grew up in. A sixteen year old boy with an energy that did not match the rest of the atmosphere.
He was an orphan. No one knew anything about his origins or his parents. He was son to everyone and no one, like many in that sad era.
Unlike other teenagers, who had become as grey as their epoch, he was lively, active and could not stand still.
The eldest and wisest members of the village tried to provide some guidance for the youth, despite them not having much of future to look forward to.
It was not an easy task, though. It was even more difficult with a guy like Frenk, who did not accept his people's resignation.
He was dynamic and believed that happy days in Excelsior were not over. If only somebody would be willing to fight for it.
Thousands of times the wisemen had tried to discourage his inclination, reminding him that without Semsons no future was possible.
But he wouldn't give up. He was stubborn and decided to undertake a series of secret expeditions.
His greatest wish - his only wish, actually - was to break down the barrier of the Lockwoods and neutralize or kill the dragovamps.
This way, his people could be able to find the Semsons somewhere else in the outer world.
One day, Frenk was right in the middle of one of his expeditions.
Actually, he was taking a little break lying against the trunk of a tree, with his hands crossed behind his neck and his gaze fixed on the dome of vegetation above his head.
Suddenly, he noticed something unusual. “What is this?” he wondered, while observing a big round object, hanging from one of the branches of the tree he was leaning against.
He stood up to have a closer look at the object. It looked like a big oval stone, and it was partially covered with vines and debris.
He freed the mysterious object, to try to understand what it was.
He continued examinating it. It was very heavy, but the surface was smooth and oddly flexible. It was opalescent and it displayed different colors, according to the angle of the light.
If not for that particular consistency, it could have been a huge gemstone. Perhaps it could be a useful weapon against the dragovamps.
He thought he had once heard a wiseman saying that fire was the only element which could seriously harm those terrible beings.
Unfortunately, no form of the known fires had ever been effective yet.
Frenk, a boy of a curious nature, grabbed the stone with both hands and shook it vigorously. Nothing. He put the stone close to his ear, continuing to shake. Still nothing.
He lifted it up with all of his strength and threw it to the ground. At that point, something strange happened.
The object started to throb and crack, as if it was about to break.
The cracks flashed for some seconds, and then they unespectedly healed over. The object had gone back to its former appearance and consistency.
He was puzzled for a while, the big round object between his hands, trying to figure out what to do.
Although he had been wandering around the woods for a few hours only, he thought it was better to go back.
Sunset was approaching and the neighbourhood of the Lockwoods was no longer a safe place after a certain time.
He had found a huge elastic and indestructible rock,
however, another day was over and he still could not find any passage or way out, nor a clue of hope for the people of Excelsior or himself.
He shook off those sad thoughts and opened his haversack to put the strange object in. He would take it home and ask for advice from the old men of the village.
He slowly set out for the center of the kingdom.
He arrived home at crepuscule, but there was still the red glimpse of the sunset. It always felt good to reach Excelsior, being welcomed by the warmth of the sun.
He entered his humble home. Exhausted, he put down his bag and pulled out his heavy discovery.
He toyed with it for a few minutes, observing the nuances that the twilight created on that perfect and polished surface.
Then, lost in his thoughts, he placed it on the table in the middle of the room, and crawled into his bed. He slipped into a deep and dreamless sleep.
The next day, Frenk woke up at dawn. It was a beautiful morning and the air was clear. He was stretching in bed, when he bumped into something solid under the blankets.
He threw off the sheets and found the mysterious object. "But... But... How is it possible?" he thought, dismayed. "I was sure I had left it on the table!"
Mentally, he tried to picture his last movements before going to bed and looked for the object on the top of the table. It was empty!
The strange stone was lying right there, beside him.
He touched it. It was hot. He placed both hands on its surface and it began to throb, again cracking and fracturing along its superficies.
He grabbed it without hesitation, put it into his haversack and ran towards the center of the village to talk to the Old Madantin.
He entered the wiseman's workshop out of breath. The Old Madantin was sitting behind his desk, hunched over a magnifying glass. He was observing some tiny little pebbles.
He looked up to Frenk and said, "This dust may contain Semsons residue." After a short pause, he added, "It was found near the Lockwoods."
Frenk, who had not listened to anything the Old Madantin had said, burst out, "Look at what I found yesterday!" He reached into his haversack, pulling out the majestic stone.
The Old Madantin, eyes widened, took it into his own hands. He turned the wierd stone around for what seemed an endless time.
He carefully studied it, rubbed it and leaned his ear over it for several minutes. He looked stunned.
"This is an egg!" he said finally.
Frenk, who had envisioned a jewel provided with magical powers, or maybe the decisive weapon against the dragovamps, remained silent and disappointed.
The Old Madantin looked even more intrigued, "It is not a common egg, son." He stroked his long beard, then added, "This egg takes me back in time."
Frenk did not understand, "Well, what kind of egg, then? I thought birds had long since stopped laying eggs."
"I believe that this egg belongs to an ancient era; an era in which birds were not the only flying beings in the skies of the Valley to lay eggs.
This would also explain why it has not hatched yet."
The Old Madantin looked nervous and began to talk excitedly, "I must find those scrolls!"
Frenk was increasingly astonished. "Come on son, go now. But remember: if you've found this egg, there is a reason. Guard it and try not to tell anyone."
Quickly, he gave the egg back to the boy and led him to the door.
Another week was over, and everything stayed the same, more or less. Frenk went out to the edge of the forest to explore. He searched, but couldn't find anything.
He came back home, always to find the egg in a different spot.
Most of the time, it was between the blankets of his bed, or close to the fireplace. It seemed to prefer warm and cozy places. Also, it was throbbing more and more often.
He had followed Old Madantin's advice and hadn't told anyone about his strange discovery.
Still, he felt increasingly curious to find out which weird creature was hidden inside.
At home, the presence of that living thing was clearly strong. It already showed its likes and dislikes from inside the egg.
By then, Frenk was used to all of these oddities, and had started to cuddle the egg.
He was just holding the egg on his lap, when it broke. The cracks opened without healing this time, and the flexible shell fractured into pieces.
Very thrilling moments followed. Curious nostrils appeared in between the fissures. The next moment the egg shattered completely,
and a magnificient dragon appeared, glowing in all of its race's former glory.
A little dragon, actually. In fact, he was just a baby, about the size of a lamb.
He looked around bewildered, with large emerald green eyes looking for protection and reassurance.
Frenk was in a state of wonderful admiration. He observed the beautiful scaly skin of the creature, iridescent and brilliant in silver and rose; the wings, already imposing and majestic;
and the attitude, so tender and insecure, but at the same time elegant and intimidating.
Finally, their eyes met. That moment was magical. They knew immediately that their lives and their destinies were forever linked. They stared at each other enchanted, for what felt like forever.
For his part, the little dragon studied with loving respect the being who had taken care of him and had cuddled the egg.
"Mommy!", cried out a shrill voice in Frenk's mind, while the little dragon pointed the muzzle toward him, puffing a violet smoke from his nostrils.
Frenk gasped in fright and surprise. "Eh?!" was the only thing he could say.
And again, he heard, "Mommy, mommy, you are so beautiful! I did not imagine you so, while I was in the egg!"
At that point, Frenk thought without even realizing it, "Don't tell me you think I'm your mother!"
Only when he saw the little dragon now had wet eyes and it was about to turn into a crying baby dragon, he realized he had unwittingly spoken to the little creature.
And not only that! The little dragon could hear his thoughts and had been hurt by them.
"Hey, hey, wait. Don't cry, I didn't mean that", Frenk tried to mend, talking loudly this time and leaning toward the little dragon.
Immediately comforted by the words, it perked up. It stared at Frenk, with eyes full of sweetness and asked through his thought, "What's your name?"
The boy was fascinated. Neither of them spoke. Actually, neither of them spoke in the conventional way of moving their mouths and producing sounds. Yet, they heard each other perfectly.
He was talking to a newborn dragon. Astonishing! He also replied, mentally, "My name is Frenk."
"And mine? What's my name, Fenk? ", said the little dragon. Frenk looked amused. The little dragon could not telepathically pronounce his name properly. He concentrated for a moment,
but the dragon's name came out in a natural way, as if he had always known. "Porfix", he said.
Needless to say, Frenk and Porfix immediately became great friends. They were so close because of reading each other's mind that they were practically joined at the hip.
"I'm hungry!", complained the little dragon. Thus, they both went looking for suitable food for hungry baby dragons.
Initially, Frenk had no idea what could be good to feed a dragon, so he had to seek advice from the Old Madantin. Hunting and fishing, these were the solutions.
They went fishing together. Porfix studied carefully the water surface. With his eyes, able to see through it, he could spot even the fastest fish.
Unfortunately, however, he was still awkward in his movements and whenever he plunged a paw in, he lost his prey.
Frenk then built a fishing rod and tried to fish in his place, while Porfix lied in wait on an hill and mentally informed Frenk when there was a fish approaching.
Unfortunately, however, Frenk was not a skilled fisherman either, so they both had to settle for poor meals.
They even tried to go hunting together. Porfix, with his pinkish-silver skin, could perfectly comouflage himself among the rocks to ambush small, unlucky mammals.
However, he was still too noisy not to be noticed, so he often had to give up his dinner.
Frenk built a bow with arrows. They tried to hunt with the same method they used for fishing, but Frenk's aim was still lacking too much.
Moreover, Frenk passionately devoted lot of his time to the study of dragons. Thanks to the Old Madantin, he could access books and scrolls in abundance.
According to his researches, Porfix was a fire dragon, belonging to the volcanic category.
The adults of his species - recited the formularies - could spit flames several meters long and incinerate anything.
Frenk consecrated entire days in an attempt to stimulate Porfix gift of fire.
He followed the exercises contained in manuals, as well as his own improvisation, but nothing happened, just the usual puffs and pants of purple smoke.
From Old Madantin's ancient books, they also studied the flying techniques and the maps of the heavens.
In fact, the time came when Porfix would have learn to fly. But this turned out to be rather a difficult challenge too.
They tried to jump from cliffs, tree tops and rock peaks, but always ended up crashing and hurting themselves more or less seriously.
Once, Frenk even broke an arm, and Porfix the tip of his tail.
In short, the two spent most of their time together.
They were laughing far more often than what they were suffering and this is how Frenk and Porfix grew up together, linked by an everlasting bond.
Excelsior was now their training ground... Lockwood would one day be their battlefield.
Miseridom, four years later...
Barbaridor, from his gloomy castle, contemplated the decay all around. He was by then old and wizened, but stood immortal on his high throne.
It had been years since the last time he had left his cold fortress. He regularly received news from his informants, and that was his only contact with the outside world.
For example, whenever someone from Excelsior was killed by the dragovamps, he was informed by his guards, who were scattered all over Miseridom.
Although it was the darkest time ever known in the history of the Enchanted Valley, it was also the calmest.
Barbaridor spent much of his eternity pent up in the Treasure Room, where all the Semsons had been sealed off.
He was right there, breathing their magical essence, the day the guards noticed something strange.
"My lord, the sentinels on duty on the west tower have detected an anomaly in the sky."
"What anomaly may be so important to allow you to disturb me when I am here? You know I want to be left alone!", Barbaridor thundered.
"A winged creature, silvery in color with pink reflections, far bigger than any known bird – said the guard promptly – it's flying above the eastern part of Miseridom, on the border with the Lockwoods."
Barbaridor winced. A lightning of sudden terror crossed his eyes. "Bring me my mirror, immediately!", he ordered imperatively.
Barbaridor stared at the silver mirror. On the matte surface a vortex of gray clouds appeared...
Their favorite game was gliding over water and caressing it, producing fun refreshing splashes that were perfect during hot days. "Wow!", shouted Frenk at the peak of excitement.
They were whirling, faster than the speed of light, doing perfect flying acrobatics. First, they were lunging in crazy nosedives going along the side of a cliff,
then they turned up, only when a few feet away from the ground, to go up again, higher than the clouds.
Frenk was now an experienced knight and Porfix an imposing and majestic dragon.
They were playing wild, so deeply taken by their somersaults, that they did not notice they had crossed the air boundary of the Lockwoods. The clouds they were zipping through were those of Miseridom.
As soon as Frenk realized they were flying into darkness, he knew they had entered Miseridom and Porfix corrected their direction immediately.
Barbaridor desperately tried to chase their reflection, but they were so fast it was almost impossible to keep up with them, despite the magic mirror had no speed limits.
He moved his arms frantically, giving directions to the mirror. Discovering Porfix and Frenk, Barbaridor was almost struck by a heart attack, and would have really died, if only he were not immortal.
Barbaridor would have never allowed anything to break his curse and threaten his immortality. He thought, "You believed you had won with your stupid spell, Gladius.
But I have already killed thousands of the damned dragons. One more won't make any difference." "Guards!!!", he exploded, full of the worst nefarious anger.
All the guards and soldiers of Miseridom were gathered before the evil Barbaridor.
The ancient fervor and the old hatred had awakened inside his heart, even stronger after the long torpor.
"In the westernmost part of our kingdom, a suspicious creature has been sighted. Well, I myself have checked on its nature with my magic mirror and I can say what it is without any doubt."
The guards awaited the response with anxiety. "A dragon! That's what it is!", shouted Barbaridor, with a powerful and contemptuous voice.
Among the guards was a confused and incredulous murmur. "We thought they were an extinct race? We thought we had killed them all?
Yes, we felt safe here in our kingdom, waiting for the end of Excelsior. But we were wrong! One has survived! And do you know what that means?"
He thundered frighfully, pointing his scepter toward the audience, as to question it.
"That our peace is over. That soon, those yokels from Excelsior will feel great, with their dragon, and will come to take our Semsons. They will take them by force!
Yes, all the precious Semsons we got through sacrifice and sweat."
He gave his speech so vehemently that the whole legion was infected by his hatred. Some guards responded with enthusiasm and grunts of approval. "War!", shrieked others.
"And we should stay here, waiting for them to overcome us with their dragon?!" A unanimous chorus arose from the crowd: "No!"
"Truly, I say to you, let's go get them, and give them what they deserve!" "Yes!", they answered all together.
"Yes – echoed Barbaridor, like a possessed man – hunt them, bring me their heads, as we did at the time of the dragons! Hop on your Dragovamps and have no mercy.
But careful! The dragon and its rider belong to me!"
Frenk and Porfix had no clue as to what was about to occur. Simply, one of their flight exercises had gone too far and they had lost control.
The guards of Miseridom had caught sight of them and now a whole contingent was moving in their direction.
Fortunately, the Old Madantin, who used to study the omens contained in birds flight, realized that something fatal was about to happen.
He sought immediately Frenk and Porfix in order to communicate to them his fears.
As soon as they knew about the prediction, they immediately start patrolling the whole area. When they checked up on the eastern side, they understood what was about to come.
Porfix, thanks to his sight which could penetrate even the thickest darkness, saw Barbaridor's soldiers marching the barren lands of Miseridom.
Some of them on foot, others riding dragovamps. They were moving toward Excelsior, armed and ready to fight.
Frenk decided to go back to warn the Old Madantin, so that he could somehow prepare the people of the kingdom for the upcoming battle.
The wise old man stopped Frenk, before letting them go, and handed him a thin and ancient parchment. He stared into the boy's eyes and said,
"Here is written the formula of the past that explains the present and which condemned the future. Read it and when the time comes, you will see the truth."
As usual, though, Frenk was already fully catapulted into the imminent action and did not pay too much attention to the words of the old man. He hugged the wise man, put the gift aside and went to his dragon.
At that point, the dragon and his rider headed firmly to the battle.
Porfix described circular flight paths on the top of Lockwood forest, "Maybe we'd better wait until they come out of darkness", thought the dragon.
"Yes, you're right – ascertained Frenk – if we fly higher, we will not be an easy target despite their numerical superiority."
Barbaridor's army had already reached the forest, but he wasn't anywhere to be seen.
The king was in fact at the bottom line of his troops, protected by a temporary spell of invisibility, and had brought the magic mirror with him, so that he could follow the battle from afar.
As soon as the troops arrived into the forest, Porfix began to attack. "Better not let them get too close to the heart of Excelsior. We need to fight them here, as long as we can."
He swooped on them at an incalculable speed, Frenk clinging strongly to his back. When the dragon reached the necessary distance for the blast, it was too late for the soldiers beneath.
He opened his dangerous jaws and blew a huge purple flame at least ten meters long. Anything alive within the fire range, charred instantly.
The middle column of the infantry was literally stone dead. Gradually, all the deployment realized what had just happened and panic spread fast among the soldiers.
All their heads turned upwards to gaze, in astonishment and bewilderment, at the first real dragon to be seen after a very long time.
The soldiers had no time to respond to the attack. Porfix had already incinerated another row of the formation. With great surprise, Frenk discovered that the victims of that sector were both knights and dragovamps:
but, while there were no traces of humans left, the dragovamps had been petrified in the position they were at the time of the impact with fire, and had become grey statues.
"Have you seen?", Frenk asked Porfix, triumphantly. "Here's the only fire which can destroy the dragovamps!" They winked at each other.
This time, however, part of the riders had had the time to organize their counter-attack. The dragovamps unfolded their wings, as black as night, hissing and flying in Frenk and Porfix's direction.
They pulled out their deadly fangs and assaulted them.
To defend himself, Porfix started to screw on his axis, spitting flames in all directions. His power was so great that anyone who came close to him was simply wiped out.
Meanwhile, Barbaridor followed the battle from his mirror without missing a single wing beat. He was amazed.
The last time he had seen a human flying so close-knit with a dragon, he was still a boy, he reflected, while his brother's outline was clearly taking shape into his eyes.
His troops were halved, the battlefield strewn with petrified dragovamps and the dragon and his rider dominated the scene unchallenged.
He decided to step in.
Barbaridor ordered to blare the trumpet to announce the retreat.
At that sound, all surviving soldiers fled, scattering into the darkness of Miseridom. Only the rests of the dragovamps could be seen on the ground, petrified in the form of statues.
Frenk and Porfix were then fighting against a non-existent army. They had won. They could not help but exult.
"We did it!", screamed Frenk, euphorically. "They're running away! Yuppie!" Porfix hovered in an aerial dance, unbridled at the peak of joy.
"We gave them a lesson", they cheered. "Yeah, they fled. We have been great! "
Finally, the euphoria gave way to exhaustion and the two friends ended up landing near the shore of Rio Mastro, to drink a bit and relax the tense muscles.
Porfix laid on his stomach with the muzzle between his paws watching with amusement his master, who instead continued to bounce from side to side recalling the most incredible maneuvers of the clash.
They were only having a short break after the hard battle, but unfortunately they had let their guard completely down.
The treacherous Barbaridor had followed the two heroes after the retreat, and was now not far away, watching them from a steep terrain on the opposite bank of the river.
He was still wrapped by the spell of invisibility, but soon he would interrupt it in order to launch his wicked attack. By surprise, of course.
Frenk, still exuberant and full of adrenaline, remembered the dangers they had just escaped, imitating Porfix's maneuvers.
It was right while he was doing one of his agitated somersault that he saw the silhouette of Barbaridor appearing from nowhere, on the headland not far from them.
He was carrying an enormous bow and an arrow nocked, pointing straight... at the heart of Porfix.
Frenk had only a fraction of an instant to realize what was about to happen. Everything took place in a matter of seconds.
He finished his turnaround, threw himself in front of the arrow, and fell. Frenk laid there, still and lifeless.
Barbaridor vanished with the same speed he had appeared, at the very moment he launched the fatal arrow.
Porfix did not want to believe his eyes. But his eyes were never wrong. He had seen exactly what happened.
He could not look away from the body of his best friend lying dead on the ground.
He couldn't believe that just until a moment before, life flowed powerful in Frenk's veins, and the next moment it had abandoned him forever.
He felt a chasm opening in his heart and blood pulsing wildly.
He let out the darkest and deepest roar ever known in the history of dragons. It boomed like an earthquake from the bowels of the Enchanted Valley.
Like lava from a volcano, it hit all living beings in Excelsior and Miseridom. Nothing like that had ever been heard before. That was dragon pain.
Porfix poured out all of his torment by spitting columns of skyward fire, which reached the highest clouds.
The whole Enchanted Valley was staring at those explosions of light that, for the first time in decades, were able to dispel the darkness from Miseridom.
Porfix's pain was so great that it made him lose control of his wings and tail, which he struggled relentlessly, as if they were possessed by an unknown force.
The impact generated by the crash of his heavy tail caused a huge earthquake and the frantic beat of his wings unleashed a wind storm.
Every living thing in the Enchanted Valley tried to escape, seeking shelter from the immense disaster.
Meanwhile, the old Madantin, who was aware of the recent horrible tragedy, cried silent and bitter tears.
Porfix managed to appease the storm of anger and pain that burned inside his heart only when he realized that the body of Frenk was twitching because of those shakes.
He suddenly calmed down as if awakening from a nightmare, and with cautious movements, almost on tiptoes, he approached his friend's helpless body.
He relived the joyful moments, the shared achievements, the anxieties and fears beaten together.
He saw his playmate from childhood, and his adventure companion from adolescence. He saw a brave young knight, but above all, he saw his best friend.
All those vital images where Frenk seemed invulnerable were in stark contrast with the being that now laid before his eyes.
Porfix gently brought his muzzle to Frenk's face, tapping it gently, as if to awaken him from too long of sleep.
But nothing happened. Frenk stayed there, motionless, with the arrow piercing his heart and a thin ring of blood around it.
Porfix, taken by a sudden and uncontrollable tenderness, lifted Frenk's corpse with his paws and grasped it gently within his claws.
Something snapped inside his heart and made him burst into slow and unstoppable tears.
He headed toward the center of Excelsior, flying indefinitely, accompanied only by a grip of loneliness in his throat.
Throughout the Valley resounded the echo of the crying dragon.
The first tear fell as he left the ground. The others followed as a plentiful rain. Dragon tears fell from the sky for a long time that day.
That enchanted rain left a trail of sadness and magic throughout the land. In fact, whenever a dragon tear touched the ground, a miracle happened.
A sprout appeared from the driest earth. Succulent and colorful buds flourished from the plants.
But the most incredible phenomenon occurred when the fairy tears landed on the gray statues of the dragovamps that had fallen in battle.
The terrible shapes shattered as if they were eggs and, unexpectedly, a great variety of dragons came out.
Once free from the stone, they looked around confused, almost dumb; then they began to fly gladly and cheerfully chanting in chorus: "The spell is broken! The spell is broken! "
"This was Frenk, the guy you all know," the Old Madantin began, addressing the crowd that listened carefully to him.
He was indicating the solemn podium with the straw mattress on which Frenk's body had been laid for the funeral.
"What you do not know however, is that four years ago he found an egg on the edge of the forest and treasured it until the time it hatched.
It did not contain a common creature, but a prodigy. The last specimen of a race, long ago massacred to extinction by the evil Barbaridor, was born." He looked at the silent crowd.
"Exactly – he nodded – I'm talking about a dragon.
If any of you still believe that this legendary species only exists in books illustrations, well I can prove you are wrong. Come out, Porfix!" The old man cried out.
Porfix broke through the lowest clouds appearing in all of his breathtaking beauty. He landed majestically, not far from the pulpit. Amazed murmurs rose from the crowd.
The dragon greeted the audience with a puff of purple smoke and immediately walked to the podium where the great bed of straw with the body of his inseparable friend was.
People whispered in disbelief, while some children even screamed in fear.
Madantin restored the silence with a gesture of his bony hand. "People of Excelsior, I have the duty to tell you the story of this young man before beginning the funeral.
We owe him our lives." Porfix sighed painfully in the background. "Frenk and his dragon fought to protect us.
They faced Barbaridor's troops with extreme courage and prevented them from plundering the heart of our kingdom, already poor to misery.
Indeed, no one noticed the battle that was going on just now, only a few miles away, inside the Lockwoods." They all nodded.
"Our beloved Frenk and his faithful Porfix," he said, indicating the dragon, "fought valiantly, they defeated the enemy forces and the deadly dragovamps achieving a landslide victory."
There were shouts of acclamation. "However do not rejoice. Unfortunately, Barbaridor's cruelty has not changed over time, but rather has deepened in his soul even more firmly.
This is why we are all gathered here today: to mourn the death of a hero. Barbaridor ambushed them after the battle and murdered the boy, however that arrow was not meant to kill him, but Porfix.
Until the end, Frenk proved his great courage and unwavering loyalty by saving his partner. He did not hesitate to sacrifice his life.
But Barbaridor left unpunished."
Everybody heard the heartbreaking lament of Porfix, who was torn apart by the ceremony.
"Our young hero is dead – went on the Old Madantin – but leaves us with an important message of hope: if you believe in an ideal, you have to struggle with all your strength to make it come true.
And Frenk believed that a free and flourishing Excelsior could still exist. He has not died in vain, as long as we are here!" The people were moved and they praised the wiseman's words.
At that point, Madantin descended from the pulpit to approach the groaning dragon, who was watching Frenk's body, with his emerald green eyes shining with tears.
The old man stroked him gently and asked him if he was ready. Porfix finally looked away from Frenk to gaze at the old sage. He did not know if he could do that;
to perform the ceremony himself, according to the tradition by setting fire to Frenk's bed. He stared at the Old Madantin, intensely. After a few long seconds,
Porfix went up stomping on the podium with the bed of straw who hosted Frenk's body. The villagers watched his movements as if hypnotized.
"Give me the time to say goodbye", he sobbed. He looked at Frenk's face for the last time. He was pale,
but his fine features were calm and relaxed, almost as if he had closed forever his eyes to the world in satisfaction.
The plain truth however, was that he had abandoned his dragon forever, leaving him alone to face the second worst time in the history of the Enchanted Valley.
If only he had had time to intervene at Rio Mastro, or if only Barbaridor had thrown the arrow in a different direction, or if just Frenk had not stepped in to save him.
He would be still alive now, bursting with energy as always. Porfix had to be in his place! Fate had made fun of him.
These were the last thoughts, or rather the final guilt which consumed the soul of the dragon at the time of the extreme goodbye with his inseparable friend.
Once again, the emotion broke through the barrier of restraint and the pain that tore him apart could no longer be pushed back.
The crowd had gathered around the podium to look closer at the sensational funeral, for the first time being administered by a dragon.
Those big, deep emerald eyes were full of tears, up to explode. Large and heavy tears flowed from the eyes of Porfix, bent forward the body of his master.
The tears fell on the cheeks of Frenk, sliding down his face. The marks left by the tears turned immediately into the rosy colour of a skin pulsating with blood.
Shortly, the entire face of Frenk was flooded with the thick tears of the dragon and was back to the vivid hues of life.
Porfix, blinded by grief, did not notice that amazing phenomenon.
Finally, he was ready to give out the flame that would have guided his friend's soul to heaven, when he clearly heard coughing from the bed beneath.
And almost at the same time, a disoriented start echoed in his mind. It was a voice he knew far too well.
The first melodic voice that had welcomed him on this earth when hatched. A voice he had given the name of "mom" without hesitation.
Porfix was in shock. "Where are you Frenk? Are you here?!" At the same moment, there was another cough, louder this time.
Then, Frenk suddenly sat up continuing to cough, breathing again, inhaling air into his lungs after a long time.
Porfix was dismayed, his eyes wide open. The Old Madantin thought that aging had driven him crazy. The crowd did not understand what was happening.
However, no one had the time to ask new questions or answer the previous ones, because some strange hissings began to fill the air. At first they were far away, but then they became menacingly closer.
People were terrified and threw themselves to the ground seeking for shelter from what sounded like an air attack. With a further approach the sound became clearer.
It resembled the noise produced by bellows to blow fire. Indeed, it was clearly the sound of large wings beating.
Then the noise stopped, and all around the podium and the crowd that had gathered there, appeared countless, different specimens of dragon.
It was total chaos. Human voices overlapped. Confusion was the only protagonist of the scene. The calls of the dragons filled the air.
Now, above all, Frenk was back and full of life! He stood up and immediately jumped off the mattress to hug his dragon.
"Oh Frenk! What happened?! I thought you were dead!", Porfix questioned him, wagging his tail at the peak of joy. "It's like I've been sleeping! But it doesn't matter now, I'm back!",
Frenk exclaimed, squeezing Porfix with all his strenght. The Old Madantin came, and as soon as Frenk saw him, he threw his arms round his neck with the same energy, so that they almost fell down.
"My boy, you made us suffer a lot...", the old man sighed, as lightened by a heavy burden. "Something strange must have happened," said Frenk.
"The last thing I remember was the silhouette of an old man who appeared out of nowhere and tried to kill Porfix. Then I must have died. And now... Well, something must have happened."
"Something has happened, for sure..." said the Old Madantin, indicating all those fantastic creatures that had filled the arena.
Frenk looked around, stunned. The return to life was already shocking in itself, but this...
"Where do they come from?!" he asked in amazement, looking at Porfix with questioning eyes.
"I do not know, my little friend. All I know is that my heart was in pain for you, just this", replied the dragon, thinking.
At the same time, some members of the crowd shouted as for an incredible surprise. It looked like that day the list of unespected things was endless.
"Look!" they yelled. "The tears of the dragon!" Some arms lifted up to indicate the violet drops which slided slowly from the bed of straw, crashing to the ground.
Wherever a tear landed, a blossoming plant sprouted.
The Dragons, who were listening and watching everything carefully, exclaimed in unison, in human language: "The spell is broken! The spell is broken!"
The dragons that had appeared so miraculously told the community about how they had survived Barbaridor's massacre, at the time of the curse, to suffer an even worse fate.
They explained how they were transformed into dragovamps and exploited by the evil Barbaridor to ensure that no living being could escape from the realm of Excelsior.
Who better than dragons, could fulfill that task, thus condemning the entire realm to a certain death? Such was the cruelty Barbaridor was capable of committing.
Only the purifying fire of Porfix and his sincere tears had the power to break the curse and return every dragon to its original essence.
So, the dragons revealed that Porfix was the creature who was mentioned by the spell of Gladius, and that everything that had happened,
including Frenk's death, was part of a greater plan, with the purpose of breaking the old curse.
But the list of sensational surprises did not end there.
The released dragons also reported that Gladius' counter-spell foresaw that the one to break the curse could not be a common dragon.
It had to be a fire dragon to petrify the dragovamps, and in fact Porfix was a volcanic dragon of the porphyritic category.
Also, it had to be smart in order to mentally interact with humans; but most of all, it had to be sensitive to be able to break the curse.
In conclusion, it had to be the descendant of Fulgoris, the ancient protector of the Enchanted Valley and the twins adoptive mother.
To the wisemen of the village, everything was much clearer now. Porfix was the direct descendant of Fulgoris, and Frenk was the legitimate heir of Gladius.
This was the information contained in the old and worn parchment that the Old Madantin had entrusted to Frenk before the battle.
Discovering their origins was upsetting for both, and the two fellows felt soon the burden of a great responsibility. Now, they were sure that the fate of the kingdom depended on them.
Porfix wanted to redeem his race. Frenk, who had always believed in the liberation of Excelsior, felt the compelling need to accomplish with that ideal.
In conclusion, realizing that Barbaridor was the culprit of the ambush at Rio Mastro represented the last straw.
They decided to undertake a punitive expedition against Miseridom and its tyrant.
Again, they were saying goodbye to the Old Madantin, but this time in front of the whole village. They were ready to leave, when the wiseman stopped them and said,
"This time, my boys, you will not go alone. The people of Excelsior are with you!"
They looked around and noticed that many dragons had taken off among the crowd, each one of them with a rider on its back. There was a roar of cheers from the public.
Frenk and Porfix looked proudly at each other and with renewed enthusiasm they left, heading to Miseridom.
The formation of dragons and knights flew silently, shrouded in the heavy darkness that had overshadowed Miseridom over decades.
They had almost reached the castle. Frenk looked at his teammates, first those to his right, then those to his left, and made the signal.
The dragons located to the right wing flew down to besiege the fortress by land, the others would attack from above, while Frenk and Porfix looked for Barbaridor.
It did not take long for the sentries positioned on the towers to notice something suspicious in the air, so they rushed to warn their lord.
Barbaridor became furious. He grabbed his magic mirror and discovered, in disbelief, the army of humans and dragons that was assaulting his fortress.
A blind rage took possession of him and he ran instinctively to the Treasure Room. "They want to usurp the throne! They want to seize my Semsons!" he cursed.
He locked himself inside the secret room, frantically devising a plan to get away.
He had to leave the Semsons if he wanted to escape, but could not be safe without them. He felt he had no way out.
He uttered the spell of invisibility, the same he used for the battle in the Lockwoods, and hid in wait. He decided that he would stay there with his Semsons.
And even if they steal them, he would find some spell to get them back, as in the past.
Outside, the battle was raging. Every dragon made use of its supernatural powers: fire, ice and gas. It was a memorable clash.
The dragons had never been so motivated and in shape. The people were excited because of that magical alliance and could finally see the possibility for Excelsior to return to its former glory.
The soldiers of Miseridom were in great difficulty. Frenk and Porfix took advantage of a weakness in the guard and snuck inside the castle through the drawbridge at supersonic speed.
The atmosphere was dark and cold, very unwelcoming. Porfix emitted puffs of fire at regular intervals so that Frenk could see too.
The few guards scattered inside the castle fled at the sight of fire or got charred.
After a long pilgrimage into the labyrinth of the castle, Frenk and Porfix found themselves in front of what was supposed to be the heart of Miseridom.
Facing, stood a huge door. It was perhaps twice the height of Porfix and as wide as his body from nose to tail. It was richly carved with sculptures depicting dragon heads
and other legendary animals, and completely inlaid with gold. It seemed like it was impossible to lift those wrought iron handles. That door was simply majestic.
Frenk said aloud, "Whatever is hidden in here, must be priceless..."
"Yeah," Porfix replied. They knew they were close to the treasure they had heard so much about.
Porfix put his snout beneath the handles and pressing upward managed to lift them up with a snap. The doors opened as if by magic.
Inside the room was a dim light coming from some torches hanging on the walls. A huge amount of chests and trunks sealed with heavy locks appeared from the shadows.
The dragon and his master looked around, stunned. "We found them, at last!"
Porfix smashed one of the locks with a snap of his jaw. As soon as the chest opened, there came a strong smell of sulfur and a dazzling golden light which brightened all the surrounding area.
Frenk dipped his hands through the contents of the chest. He raised his fists full of fine golden sand that slipped through his fingers. "Here are the Semsons!!!" they both exclaimed.
In the following minutes, many of their allies arrived in dribs and drabs and told them, "Frenk, Porfix! Outside the battle is over. We have won!"
"Excellent!" the boy congratulated. "Unfortunately, Porfix and I are still looking for Barbaridor. We think he might have escaped, but look at this!" he said, pointing at the contents of the chests.
The room was getting crowded and Barbaridor, aware of being powerless and trapped, with the two heroes and all their allies, kept on laying hidden, cowardly.
"Wow!" people cried out in astonishment. Exclamations of wonder went on endlessly. "The dark times are over!" "The misery will be only a distant memory. Hooray for the Semsons!"
"Now we need to secure the treasure," said Frenk. "Each dragon will grab a chest and will fly it to Excelsior.
There, the Old Madantin with the council of elders will determine how to distribute them. Come on, now let's take them away from here!" "Aye!" echoed all the present.
Dragons and humans began to load the chests and cleared the Treasure Room diligently.
Barbaridor, protected by invisibility, observed the scene terrified. While the room gradually got empty of its magical content, the powers of the cruel Barbaridor began to fade too.
The first to lose its effect was the spell that kept him concealed from the eyes of his opponents.
For every chest that left the room, a part of his body reappeared. First his grizzled hair; then the eyes, injected with poison and revenge; finally all his bust emerged.
In no time, only a few trunks were left in the room. Everything was bare and desert. Only the torches on the walls projected a faint glow.
This time, Porfix was the first to notice the evil presence. "Frenk... He's here!"
The young boy gasped at the view of the image: the same he had seen before he died. It was a gloomy vision, cut at the bust.
Barbaridor grinned at them with a perfidious expression. "Hi, damper!", he said to Frenk.
He could not help but flinch. However, he felt immediately Porfix's body at his side, steady and ready to protect him.
"And you must be that damned dragon of my brother's spell!" continued Barbaridor. Porfix growled menacingly.
"Calm down, dragon! I'm not afraid of you!" As Barbaridor spoke, the spell vanished completely, leaving him totally exposed and visible.
Frenk and Porfix realized that his powers were dissolving. Porfix warned, "It's because of the Semsons! If we take all the coffers away, we will make him vulnerable. He's worth nothing, without them! "
Frenk hesitated, but then decided, "Go then, take these last trunks away. I'll take care of him!" "No, I won't! I'll never leave you!", said Porfix firmly.
"You have to! Without Semsons he can no longer hurt me; and I have a score to settle", he concluded.
"All right then. I'll be faster than the speed of light", he said disappearing with a pair of coffers in its claws.
As Porfix left the room, Barbaridor began shaking with violent coughing. He spat blood.
"What a pity, meeting you in such conditions, my dear uncle!" Frenk said scornful, indicating the bloodstains on the ground.
"I bet we don't have much time left to spend together." Barbaridor winced. "Say what?! You... you... you'd be Gladius' son?", as another cough shook his chest.
Barbaridor imagined again Frenk and Porfix darting in the mirror, at the time he had discovered about their existence, and remembered how he could not help but recall his brother Gladius. Now he understood ...
"Yeah ..." replied Frenk, as if he had listened to his thoughts. Only two trunks of Semsons were left. Barbaridor was hunching under the weight of the long years he had not expiated.
Frenk observed him, trying to imagine how his father's face would have been, without the grooves produced by the soul cruelty of his twin.
Then, unexpectedly, Barbaridor stood up with one feline spring for which he had gathered all his left energy, and pounced on one of the open coffers to seize the Semsons.
Luckily, Porfix, who had flown back and forth faster than light, arrived and took the chest away from Barbaridor, just a moment before he grasped it.
"Quick, get in!" the dragon summoned his master. No need to say it twice. Frenk had already grabbed the last remaining chest and mounted astride Porfix.
They were flying suspended in mid-air, while Barbaridor slowly collapsed onto the floor.
He tried to lift up his body in a final desperate rattle, spitting more blood, "Give me my Semsons back! You may be damned!"
After that, the evil man was completely consumed by old age, which struck him inexorably. First, the skin wrinkled on his face, digging deep marks, and then it was totally pulverized.
His eyes continued to burn up till only his bones were left. They also dissolved in a cloud of gray smoke and disappeared forever.
That was the end of Barbaridor. And of Miseridom.
The Old Madantin, in agreement with the council of elders, decided that dragons would have had the task to spread Semsons all over the Enchanted Valley. There should be Semsons everywhere.
Darkness disappeared from Miseridom and everything went back as vivid and bright as it once was.
Fruits and flowers painted the whole Valley with their glowing and shining colors and the proliferation of new lives made it as dynamic as in past times.
Dragons and humans returned to live in perfect harmony and Frenk and Porfix were chosen as the People's Guides.
The present era in the Enchanted Valley is now called “Jubilance”, because they all lived happily ever after.