The Old World, The Domain of the Dragons, Dragon's Peak

The solitary towering mountain loomed up high into the clouds, its surface black and glittering under the sun. Clumps of white snow covered its peak, while dozens of large cave openings dotted its side. All along the mountain sides, were stone houses and streets, built on terraces. And at the foot of the mountain, were farmlands and orchards that were walled by a black ring of obsidian stone.

Dragons and drakes circled the air, riding the warm thermals with their outstretched wings, while people toiled the fields and tend to the animals. Under the falling snow, the farmlands and orchards were covered by a magic barrier that trapped the heat and steam given off from the dug vents of volcanic hot steams.

Nets covered the crops and orchards that helped channel away the droplets of melted snow as they formed on the magic barrier's surface. The melted snow was in turn fed into aqueducts and reservoirs which provided the people with water.

Deep inside the obsidian mountain, hurried footsteps echoed down the massive cavern as a portly figure dressed in gold and red made his way across the smooth black obsidian floor. He held on to his round cap with two jutting horns on the side as he spotted the massive gold gilded obsidian stone doors with depictions of soaring dragons carved on the door's surfaces.

He paused at the door where several guards in golden robes stopped him, and he bowed, retrieving a golden rolled up scroll and the guards stepped back, returned his bow and pushed open crack large enough for him to past with the heavy doors.

The space behind the doors stretched out into a huge yawning cavern. The space was large enough to accommodate an entire Dragon ship and vent holes alongside the obsidian floor spewed out warm air from the pools of naturally occurring hot springs.

Two rows of standing lamps stood in the middle of the dark cave, creating a lighted path, which he headed down. The air smelled strongly of the demon's breath and was warm enough that the thick silk robes he was wearing started to feel uncomfortable despite the everlasting winter of the land.

Abruptly the lighted path stopped and an expanse of black pitch darkness appeared before him. He quickly went down to his knees and took out the scroll, placing it before him and kowtowed to the darkness and called out.

"Hail the Dragon Matriarch! Queen of all Dragons!" He remained prostrate with his head touching the smooth obsidian stone. "This servant comes bearing grave news!"

"Raise... and speak..." A deep disembodied voice came from the depths of the shadows. "What news... have you brought before We..."

"This servant thanks the Matriarch!" The portly elf stood up and unfurled the golden scroll. "Our spies have watched the lands beyond the Domains and found out that the other nations are moving their air fleets!"

"Has war broke out again?" The disembodied voice sighed. "Such short lives... yet none treasure them..."

"My Matriarch..." The messenger explained further. "War has not broke out, but... it seemed the other nations are moving their forces to cross the Sea of Clouds..."

"Oh?" There was a loud grinding and scraping noise and suddenly, a huge serpentine head appeared in the glow of the lit lamps. Golden scales stained with a hint of red glittered against the light, as the Dragon Matriarch crawled forward. Her massive head with two pairs of curling horns was twice the size of the messenger who quickly prostrated himself again at her appearance.

Golden claw guards studded with precious stones rapped loudly against the smooth obsidian floor as the Dragon Matriarch stopped just at the edge of the lamps' glow. Tassels woven out from golden thread dangled down from her curled horns with more precious stones accessories adorning her horns.

A pair of huge golden irises glowed as the Dragon Matriarch looked down at the trembling servant at her feet. "They have crossed the Sea of Clouds again? Did they not learn the mistakes of their past?"

"Y- Yes, My Matriarch!" The portly elf nodded hurriedly with on the floor. "Already the Protectorate has set foot on the New World and the Iron Kingdom is following them next!"

"Fools!" The Dragon Matriarch hissed. "That is... a forbidden land! The Gods put up a barrier... is to prevent any fools from entering that land!"

"Now... these fools have broken through the barrier..." The Dragon Matriarch sighed and mused to herself. "Will our era come to an end... Just like the Era of the Gods?"

She was youngling when the Era of the Gods had ended, with heavy casualties on both sides of the New and Old Gods, not to mention the number of deaths among the mortals. She remembered the time when the party of Heroes gathered the nations to venture fore into the Sea of Clouds to explore the forbidden land but after many years, not one single ship returned from the Sea of Clouds.

At that time, she was still not the Matriarch. The previous Dragon Matriarch warned the Heroes not to go and denied any assistance to them when they approached the previous Dragon Matriarch for help. Undaunted, they took the risk, wanting to find out the mysteries of the New World.

Now, hundreds of years have passed, the songs and mysteries of the Era of Gods have faded, only the eldest of all species remembered and the foolish mortals were embarking on a path that could spell doom to all.

"Summon my generals!" The Dragon Matriarch ordered. "We must prepare for war!"


The New World, The New Kingdom of Mecca, Town of Turnstead

Cork gave a silent signal to his section, as brief snatches of singing floated over with the wind. He carefully shifted a piece of stone rubble from his position as he peeked out from the ruins of a building that appeared to be some kind of shop selling everyday items. Most of the store's wares laid blackened or broken, mixed together with the collapsed roof and walls.

"Why are you hiding like a coward?" A soft feminine voice with a hint of disapproval spoke next to his ear, her breath tickling his ear.

Cork sighed inwardly and turned his helmeted head over and stared at the pretty face framed by a steel helm. "Lower your volume! We are about to ambush them!"

"But why?" The lady knight asked in a lowered voice. "Where thou your honor?"

"Shhh!" Cork hissed and pushed her lower to the ground as dozens of red armored soldiers appeared beyond the ruined walls. Cork and his company were deployed forward to this ruined town, where days ago, their gunships had engaged and even brought down an enemy airship.

With the 2nd Regiment reinforcing and taking over the FOB back at Reachfield, the 1st Regiment was pushed forward to secure the crash site for studies and intelligence gathering. The accidental ruse given by Cork was used to great effect by High Command and the local lords made way for the 1st Regiment, allowing them to cross their lands.

But with that privilege, came responsibilities, one of which was to allow the local forces to accompany the 1st Regiment to the front, which the lay knight decided to tag along with Cork and his men.

Now, hiding in the ruins and outskirts of the town of Turnstead, were the men of UN 1st Army Rifle Regiment, mixed in with local forces. Cork's section, had taken up positions inside two ruins, that over watched a collapsed section of the town's wall. Their Infantry Fighting Vehicle had burrowed inside another ruin, it's quad barrelled 20 mm gatling gun aimed at the gap in the walls.

The singing got louder and louder as flags and banners started appearing. The ground shook every now and then, and the section's sharpshooter cursed and reported in. "Sarge... I am seeing some kind of heavy golem! The big nasty kind! And there is more than one!"

"How many?" Cork whispered back in his section comms.

"I am seeing more than a dozen!" The sharpshooter replied. "And four of them are heading our way"

"And infantry?" Cork asked as he made a signal to his men carrying the RPG - 1. "How many?"

"Enemy infantry is spread out, roughly five zero also heading our way!" The reply came into his earpiece. "In total, looks like a battalion size at least!"

"All units," Suddenly a voice cut into the comms as the CO of the 1st Regiment spoke. "Make ready! Enemy forces on approach with heavy golems in support! Wait for the command to fire!"

Cork turned over to the female Knight and said, "They are coming! Whatever happens, do not rush out! You and your men are to hold their positions!"

"I know what to do..." The Lady Knight frowned and slapped down her face shield of her helm and left to join her troops

"Damn... what a waste!" Krew grinned from the side as he watched the female knight made her way across the rubble. "I think she likes you!"

"Keep that up and you will be single forever," Cork growled as he readied his rifle. "And keep your voice down!"

"Haha!" Krew gestured to the gap in the walls and said, "When them singing whatever they are singing, I doubt they could even hear my fart!"

"Just get ready for combat!" Unable to refute his buddy word's, Cork sighed.

"Where is the damn air force when we needed them?" Krew peered over his sights at the approaching banners. "They sure do know when to attack when the damn air force isn't around!"

The approaching Protectorate soldiers confidentially climb over the ruined walls, singing and humming along. Cork eyes narrowed and he tightened his gripped on his rifle as he placed his rifle sights at the center mass of one of Protectorate soldiers.

"Cocky bastards, aren't they?" Krew hissed as he leaned into his rifle.

More and more Protectorate soldiers entered the town filling up the streets closest to the walls and gates. The massive golems with smoke puffing out their backs held back beyond the walls and stood there towering over the other Protectorate soldiers.

"LIGHT THEM UP!" The order came down from the CO.

Instantly, when the order was given, the hidden soldiers of the 1st Army Rifle Regiment open fired. Tracers from light machine guns spat out from concealed positions slapped into the surprised Protectorate soldiers, dropping them like flies.

Instantly the golems outside the walls jerked into action. They raised their shields and stormed their way forward, with both the golems' physical shield and magical barrier flickered and deflected tracers into the air.

The hull down IFV at this moment, chose to open fire. The quad barrel spun up and with eardrum shattering ripping roar, a line of tracers spat out like a beam of laser. Firing at 1,500 rounds per minute, the 20 mm gatling hosed the Protectorate golem that showed up at the wall gap.

Under the sudden surprise hail storm of shells traveling at 1,030 km per hour. The magical barrier of the golem barely held up for two seconds before popping like a bubble. Its massive tower shield fared slightly better, as the barrage of 20 mm shells hammered the shield into a unrecognizable mess of mangled metal.

The golem toppled backwards and out of sight of the IFV, its arm and frontal armor banged up from the 20 mm shells. Cork let out a sigh of relief as he saw the enemy golem was stopped by their guns, as he was worried that they might need more firepower to take those giant golems down.

He peered over his cover and saw the Lady Knight and her men crouching behind their shield wall in shock and fear at their display of firepower and he felt oddly satisfied with their reaction.

"Come you bastards! Kill those Beetle heads!"

A note from neo Koh

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This chapter is written in memory of my grandma, 1928 - July 2020

Fun facts, she was born in the year of the dragon (chinese zodiac) and on her ID card she has no birth date, only birth year. Her birth cert was purposely destroyed during the Japanese Occupation during WW2, so as not to let the Japs know her real gender and age. (she put dirt on her face n acted as a boy)

After the war, when the Brits returned, her family reported her age to be older by 2 years, (but they forgot her birth date!) so that they can take more rations, hence till today, her ID card's birth year was not correct. All she remembered was she was born in the year of the dragon. 

Thanks for all the concerns, honestly, it had been very hard few weeks. She looked after me since I was a baby and she protected and pampered me the most out of my two other sisters. I really miss her a lot. She will be remembered and forever in my heart...

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neo Koh


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