SMALL STATIONS PRESS Publications
DRAGAL III: THE DRAGON’S FRATERNITY

DRAGAL III: THE DRAGON’S FRATERNITY by Elena Gallego Abad

In order for Dragal to come back to life, possibly at the expense of Hadrián’s humanity, the descendants of the original seven knights must meet in the dragon’s crypt at midnight on the first full moon of the spring equinox, which coincides with Easter night. They must have the keys of the Secret Science with them: the parchment that stands for Wisdom, the master crystal that signifies Strength, and the alchemical egg that represents the dragon’s Secret. The parish priest, Don Xurxo, and the policeman who investigated Hadrián’s previous disappearance, Cortiñas, are considered to be two knights, but even counting Hadrián and Hadrián’s mother, that still leaves another three knights that will have to be convened if the Dragon’s Fraternity is to be complete and successfully fulfil the prophecy about the dragon’s child regaining the power wrested from its father and releasing the telluric forces. Perhaps the fire at St Peter’s, which has destroyed much of the inside of the church, will act as a magnet, attracting the other members of the fraternity and enabling the ritual to be carried out. But with services for Holy Week transferred to the sports pavilion, and a nosy bishop, the race is on to reach the dragon’s crypt in time.

Chapter 1 - A STRANGE DREAM

The wounded dragon’s shadow turned to liquid on coming into contact with the foam that slid down the sooty walls of the old church, but the smoke from the fire, mingled with the fog, concealed the paranormal phenomenon. For this reason, when the statue fell to the muddy ground, nobody noticed the shadow stirring restlessly beneath the wing that had broken off. Then, at nightfall, the spectre merged with the ghosts.

Now, with the first rays of a new dawn, the dragon’s shadow woke up.

Knock, knock, knock…

As happened every morning, those gentle knocks on the door were a sign that it was time to get out of bed. Exactly three seconds later, the echo of her mother’s voice would be heard on the landing:

‘Darling? It’s time you woke up!’

Feeling a little disoriented, Mónica turned in bed and searched for the clock on her bedside table. There, the luminous digits confirmed what her mother had told her.

‘Coming!’ she replied, before ducking her head back under the covers. At that moment, she would have given the world for another five minutes to enjoy the pleasure of being wrapped in warm sheets.

As if she could read her thoughts, her mother knocked again at the door.

Knock, knock, knock…

‘Come on, Mónica, don’t be such a lazybones!’

The girl released her pillow, sat on the edge of the bed to gather her strength and felt for her slippers with her feet. She was tired, a thickness in her head, as if she’d caught a cold. She found it difficult to breathe, her eyes itched, and there was a strange taste in her mouth… It looked like she might be incubating flu.

‘Coming!’ she murmured weakly.

The girl got slowly to her feet, attempting to overcome her dizziness. The next sign that something was wrong was an unpleasant throbbing in her right temple.

‘Just what I needed, to get ill just before the Easter holidays!’ she thought.

Mónica grabbed her dressing gown, some clean clothes, and shut herself in the bathroom to have a shower. Fighting against the sense of dizziness, she turned the taps until the water attained the right temperature. She then immersed herself in the flow and tried to remember what she’d had for dinner the night before that had made her feel so ill. Could it have been those pumpkin fritters?

The mist provoked by the hot water mingled with the smoke of her nightmare. As she rubbed her hair, now doused in shampoo, the girl recalled that that night she’d had a strange dream.

The first vision that came into her head was the image of an altarpiece in St Peter’s Church that was burning. When she closed her eyes, she could almost feel the heat of the fire as the polychrome face of one of the wooden figures filled with blisters that then erupted in small, blue flames.

To banish the memory, Mónica turned the cold on full and, as it entered into contact with the liquid element, the fire disappeared.

‘Brrr.’

Freezing, the girl jumped out of the bathtub and, having turned off the tap, grabbed the towel waiting on the rack. She then opened the small window of bevelled glass that looked on to the inner light well. The mist disappeared at once, and with it went the recollections of that strange nightmare.

‘I’m just glad it was a dream,’ thought Mónica. ‘Were hell to exist somewhere, then that’s what it would be like.’

Knock, knock, knock…

‘Daughter, get a move on, or you’ll miss the bus!’

Her mother’s words and the rays of sunlight that penetrated the bathroom brought her to and made her realize exactly where she was.

‘OK, Mum, almost ready!’

Mónica gazed at the reflection in the mirror, afraid that she might spot some trace of the oneiric images that had so disturbed her. But no, in the glass appeared only the face of a girl with wet hair and frightened eyes, who was going to be late to class if she didn’t put her skates on!

With no time to lose using the hair dryer, she opted to rub her long hair with the towel and then tie it back in a ponytail. She then got speedily dressed in between some orange juice and a bowl of hot chocolate, chewing a biscuit as she tied the laces of her trainers.

‘A quick kiss!’ she said goodbye to her mother and legged it downstairs.

The girl reached the bus stop in a flash, just in time to catch the smoking vehicle, whose engine was running, before the doors closed.

As always, she occupied a seat at the back and, having settled down next to the window, fixed her eyes on some indefinite point outside. As the bus drove down the familiar streets, Mónica endeavoured to remember.

Dong… dong… dong… dong… dong… dong… dong…

Her nightmare had begun with the sound of seven strokes, she was sure about that. Seven strokes from the clock of St Peter’s, and lots of thick, varnish-tainted smoke. To start with, she couldn’t get much further with those smoky memories. If she closed her eyes, the rays of sunlight pierced her eyelids. The twists and turns of the bus didn’t exactly help her attain the necessary concentration.

Even so, aware that dreams are made of a very volatile substance, the girl dipped back into that mist. She knew, if she thought about something else, she would forget for ever.

The images of the dream were very confused, but she seemed to be lying on the floor of the vestry in St Peter’s, defending herself from a fire that had broken out inside the church. In her hands, she was holding a wooden box decorated with the image of Dragal, in which Don Xurxo had placed the master crystal. She had to protect it, but couldn’t move or breathe.

A fit of coughing forced her to return to the reality of the bus on which she was travelling. The memory was so vivid that Mónica could even detect the smell of smoke on the jacket she was wearing.

The girl was surprised by the power of the imagination, but luckily real life continued with its routine. The images she could see through the window of the school bus, tinged with the colours of spring, allayed her apocalyptic fears.

On the pavement, several children walked to school, holding their parents’ hands. At the kiosk on the corner, two people chatted while buying the day’s newspaper. Inside a car that had stopped at a traffic light, a woman tidied her hair in the rear-view mirror…

Feeling calmer, knowing she was close to the end of her journey, the girl focused on the nightmare once more. In the afternoon, when she went to visit Hadrián at home, she would have to tell him all about it.

Mónica fidgeted in her seat, trying to remember. Was her friend also a part of that strange dream? Yes, she was sure about that. Don Xurxo, as well. She could sense them next to her, in the smoke, because she could hear them both coughing under the muffled din of a chainsaw. It was hot, very hot, but suddenly she felt something cold, that creature with the eyes of a reptile that had appeared out of nowhere.

‘Dragal!’

The girl clung to her satchel and stifled the cry that struggled to emerge from her throat. Luckily, no one on the bus had observed her consternation.

They were arriving at their destination. The vehicle stopped at the last traffic light, and Mónica gathered her things to get off. It was then, as the bus turned the corner, that she discovered St Peter’s Church had been the victim of a fire.

‘What the hell?’

 

Translated from Galician by Jonathan Dunne

Additional Info

  • purchase text:

    DRAGAL III: THE DRAGON’S FRATERNITY by Elena Gallego Abad, the thirteenth title in the series Galician Wave devoted to the best of Galician young adult fiction in English, is available for purchase through your local or online bookshop

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    ISBN: 978-954-384-076-2

    Publication Date: 20 October 2017

    Language: English

    Paperback: 270 pages

    Dimensions: 203 x 133 mm