SMALL STATIONS PRESS Publications
DRAGAL IV: THE DRAGON’S LINEAGE

DRAGAL IV: THE DRAGON’S LINEAGE by Elena Gallego Abad

All is not well between Hadrián and Mónica. Hadrián is licking his wounds, after having been betrayed in the crypt and lost the dragon’s powers as they were being transferred to him. All he thinks about is getting the dragon’s powers back and being able to fly again. But he has started avoiding his girlfriend, Mónica, who reminds him of the status he has lost. And yet he can’t help remembering the last time they were together at the Moor’s Pool and the intimacy they shared. Meanwhile, Mónica has problems of her own – and not just the mathematical equations set by their teacher Miss Ermidas. Her period is late, and she is aware of an ever so slight heartbeat in her womb. If the prophecy that said, ‘The day will come when the dragon’s son will regain the power wrested from its father,’ did not in fact refer to Hadrián, could it refer to the creature she is carrying? And how will Hadrián react to the news that she might be pregnant? In this fourth instalment of the saga about the Galician dragon Dragal, the relationships between the members of the Fraternity – Hadrián, Mónica, the policeman Cortiñas, the museum director Iria, Hadrián’s mother Carme and his erstwhile rival Brais – become confused. Their ambitions collide, so they cannot always work together. And a new parish priest, Don Miguel, enters the mix, who is as keen as anybody to discover the ancient catacombs beneath the church that lead to the dragon’s crypt. But with the summer solstice approaching, who will make it there first – the dragon’s allies or its enemies?

Chapter 1 - NO SIGN OF THE DRAGON

The dragon’s shadow took control of the early mornings of Hadrián, who had barely been able to sleep in recent weeks. As soon as sleep overcame him, the ghosts of the exact same nightmare would take hold of the night and steal his rest. Even so, he would remain lying in bed, waiting for the first light of dawn. He didn’t want his mother to worry any more, she was already quite worried enough.

The boy lay down, closed his eyes and sought refuge in the flannel sheets. He didn’t want to think about anything, but the memory of his body covered in scales wouldn’t leave his mind. As soon as he relaxed, he imagined his arms turning into claws once more. And on his back he could feel the growth of some invisible wings.

This constant wish, that of turning into the dragon again, filled every night’s vigil. He just wished he could fly all over again!

But his wounded memory preserved the echo of a litany:

 

Ecce Dragal veniet,

gloriosus in saeculae

et erit in die illa lux magna

Benedictus es in templo gloriae tuae.

 

Seven knights had come together in the crypt on that fateful early morning, waiting for a sign from the moon. The dragon Hadrián had turned into had stretched its wings, awaiting the miracle, while that voice recited the magic spell:

 

Dragal, surge et sta in excelso

Excita potentiam tuam et veni

Ostende nobis faciem tuam, draco.

 

It was written in the prophecy. But just as the beam of light had started transferring Dragal’s absolute power over to him, he had been stabbed.

The traitor had slipped through the shadows of the night.

Vade retro, maleficus draco!

Pain. Unbearable. Because of the ambush and because of the poisonous fig that had been stuck into his back. The wounded boy writhed on the ground in the throes of death. His blood poured out on to the table, but the knights were incapable of stemming the haemorrhage. A prisoner in his scaly armour, his human essence struggled to survive. His body lacked oxygen.

‘Noooooo!’ someone had shouted in his dream.

The dragon had lost its wings, like an angel expelled from paradise. With no more strength to keep beating, its heart petered out. It was a miracle that Hadrián clung on to life.

‘Ahhhhhh!’

The boy couldn’t remember any more. As every night, he woke up at the exact same moment in his recurring nightmare. As every night, his mother’s worried face peered around the door. As every night, he told her his dream and let her tuck him in again.

‘Try to get some rest, my darling.’

‘Yes, mother. Good night.’

But, as every early morning, he wouldn’t manage to sleep peacefully. Nor would he fly again. Ever perhaps.

Hadrián had been trying to recover the dragon’s powers for weeks. Every day, from the first hours of the morning, he would exercise his body and his brain. At dawn, he would punish himself with a series of push-ups, sit-ups and squats, which were meant to improve his fitness. Then, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, he would empty his mind in an attempt to re-establish the lost connection.

‘I know you’re there. I can feel you!’

That wasn’t quite true, but all the same…

‘I know you’re there. Show yourself!’

He didn’t want to renounce Dragal’s power.

‘I know you’re there. You have to come back!’

He’d lost count of the days he’d been trying to do this. Until the dragon’s shadow finally manifested itself. At first, it was just a throbbing, dull presence under the skin of his wrist. Then he felt the uroboros moving about.

‘I know you’re there. I can see you!’

The boy reflected in the mirror gazed with expectant eyes at Hadrián’s face, searching for the tiniest sign of scales. He couldn’t find any. But on his forehead, beneath his hair, he came across a slight shadow. What was that mark?

‘It wasn’t there yesterday!’

Hadrián gazed back at the boy trapped in the surface of the mirror, trying to remember.

What you have in your hands is Dragal’s third eye. The dragon used it to open bridges between different dimensions, to be master of its time, to read minds in the present and to know the future in the stars. It needs this magical attribute to regain the powers that were taken from it. Pay attention!

That conversation… He’d been talking to Mónica about the magic stone that gave off flashes of light. When he’d placed it on his forehead, the skin had opened up in order to receive the master crystal.

In which case, that mark…

The boy passed his hand over the mark. Beneath his skin, he could feel a bump that wasn’t visible in the mirror.

‘The dragon’s eye…’

He closed his eyelids and channelled all his strength, as Dragal had taught him. The sign, barely visible beneath a flop of hair, didn’t change.

‘Come on, dumbo, you can do it!’

He tried one, two, three more times… He’d almost lost hope when the master crystal reacted. His forehead seemed to open up and, inside the crack, he could make out the magic stone in a beam of light in the mirror.

It was an amazing sight.

‘Wow!’

Tiny images swirled inside the crystal. Dragal’s memories perhaps?

A voice on the landing broke his concentration.

‘Get a move on, son, you’re going to be late!’

The mirage suddenly disappeared, confronting a dazed Hadrián with his reflection in the bathroom mirror.

‘Oh, come on… Don’t do this to me!’ he protested.

But the illusion of the master crystal had completely disappeared, as had the mark on his forehead, which showed not a trace.

‘I don’t know how you do it, but the earlier you get up, the harder it is for you to be on time.’

Hadrián tucked into an enormous bowl of milk with biscuits without saying a word. He couldn’t explain the effort involved in undertaking that process of rehabilitation, which he practised in secret every day.

If there was a chance of retrieving Dragal’s magic, then he would recover his lost powers. He didn’t care what it took. But his mother shouldn’t know about it, just in case she took it upon herself to stop him. After Don Xurxo’s act of treachery, he didn’t know who he could trust.

Going back to classes at school had not been easy. After his disappearance – which had involved the whole teaching centre in an impressive search – the discovery of his wounded body at the Moor’s Pool and his subsequent convalescence in hospital and at home, Hadrián’s return to school had turned into quite an event.

Having lost his anonymity, during the first few days, he had been powerless to prevent colleagues and teachers coming out with surprising displays of unbounded affection, which he wasn’t sure how to respond to.

And then there was Mónica.

‘Shall we meet this afternoon to go over the calculus exercises Miss Ermidas gave us?’

Hadrián smiled at his friend, partner and companion, trying to make up his mind.

‘We don’t have to hand them in until next week. What if we leave them for another day? I’m feeling pretty exhausted right now,’ he said by way of rejecting her proposal.

The girl did not insist, she just gathered her things before getting off the bus.

‘See you tomorrow then,’ she remarked in farewell.

With the taste of her kiss on his lips, Hadrián watched her move away from the bus stop and felt a knot in his throat. After all they’d been through and, ever since they’d left the crypt, they hadn’t been on their own together once!

He was always coming up with a reason not to. When he wasn’t hiding behind his physical condition, he was laying the blame on his mother or digging up some other excuse.

Why won’t you meet up with Mónica? You’re behaving like a complete imbecile!

He wouldn’t meet up with her because… Because every second he spent in the girl’s company reminded him that things would not go back to the way they were before.

When you recover the dragon’s powers, when you can fly, then everything will be the same again, he promised himself.

And in the meantime?

He didn’t want to meet up with her, but every afternoon he shut himself in his bedroom and relived the last time they’d been together at the Moor’s Pool.

 

Translated from Galician by Jonathan Dunne

Additional Info

  • purchase text:

    DRAGAL IV: THE DRAGON’S LINEAGE by Elena Gallego Abad, the nineteenth title in the series Galician Wave devoted to the best of Galician young adult fiction in English, is forthcoming

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    ISBN: 978-954-384-100-4

    Publication Date: 08 November 2019

    Language: English

    Paperback: 272 pages

    Dimensions: 203 x 133 mm