Clark Gillian

The Devious Dragon and the Fall of the Emperor


Chapter 1.
The seven cat envoys.

"Capture the Princess and her Fool, and lock them away with the captured Emperor and Empress!" barked the Imperial Council, their words echoing through the opulent halls like angry crows. An army, clad in armor as shiny as a thousand fireflies, flooded into the Whispering Woods, their mission to imprison the runaway Princess and her unlikely knight in the same cold stone dungeon.

High above, perched on a rooftop bathed in moonlight, the Cat King surveyed the bustling City of Stars, the Empire's heart that glittered like a spilled handful of dreams. Below, the soldiers marched, their boots thumping a rhythm of impending doom like a giant's restless heartbeat. With a flick of his whiskered tail, the King knew his ancient duty had arrived. He summoned his feline envoys, seven shadows flitting through the night like whispers carried on the wind, to sound the seven enchanted cat bells that guarded the land's magic.

In the underground cat city, a tapestry of cobblestones and flickering torchlight, the King convened his court. Among the noble felines with fur the color of polished obsidian and eyes like emeralds, seven cats stepped forward, bowing low before their whiskered king.

"For generations, we have upheld the tradition of the seven cat envoys," the King spoke, his voice a soothing rumble like distant thunder. "You, noble envoys, each came from your distant cat cities with the sole purpose of returning only in times of gravest peril. I am sorry to announce that such a time has come. We must ring the cat bells in the seven cat bell fries as soon as paws can carry you!"

The cat people listened with bated breath as the King unveiled the dire state of the human world: an Emperorless Imperial Council, Kings and Queens imprisoned in their own castles, and a Princess in exile guarded by a Fool as her knight.

"If the soldiers find their way to the elven gate," the King continued, his voice grave, "the Enchanted Deer could close it forever, banishing the last whispers of magic from the land. A life without magic would be like a world without the purr of a contented cat, a symphony without its sweetest note. It is our duty to protect this fragile beauty!"

A chorus of meows erupted from the assembled cats, their voices echoing with shared purpose. The King addressed the cat envoy with fiery red trousers and braces, who stood out amongst the sea of muted tones.

"Open this treasure chest," the King instructed, gesturing with a regal paw. "Within lies the key that unlocks the door to the cat clock atop the cat belfry in the City of Bridges – a place where injustice and falsehood cannot abide."

The cat envoy with the red trousers broke the seal of the treasury, revealing a chain with a large key dangling at its end. He bowed low and vanished into the shadows, a streak of crimson racing towards his destiny.

"To you, envoy clad in fiery orange," the Cat King spoke, his eyes twinkling like emeralds in the torchlight. "Within this chest lies the key, a spark to ignite the cat clock atop the belfry in the City of Sheets. There, courage resides, a shield against whispers of fear and doubt."

The cat envoy with the orange garb, his trousers a blaze against the muted tones of the court, broke the treasury seal with practiced ease. The necklace with the weighty key dangled from his neck as he bowed, a silent promise shimmering in his gaze before he vanished into the night.

Next, the King addressed the envoy adorned in golden threads. "Unveil the key within this chest, a conduit to awaken the cat clock in the Proud City of Flowers. There, words bloom with power, fueled by the unseen forces that bind us all."

With a flick of his wrist, the envoy in gold unsealed the treasury, the key glinting like trapped sunlight. He clutched it tightly, bowed low, and set off like a gilded arrow towards his destiny.

The King's gaze fell upon the envoy clad in verdant green. "Within this chest," he rumbled, "waits the key to unlock the cat clock nestled high above the City of Acorns. There, abundance flows freely, a testament to the tireless spirit of its people."

The envoy in grass-green trousers broke the seal with nimble paws, securing the key to his belt. A mischievous glint sparked in his emerald eyes as he bowed and darted out the door, eager to play his part.

"Open this chest, envoy of cerulean hues," the King instructed, gesturing towards a treasure adorned with swirling patterns. "Within lies the key to the cat clock that crowns the City of Pants. There, truth flows like crystal waters, cleansing hearts and words alike."

The envoy in light blue, his gaze as clear as the sky itself, broke the seal with reverence. The key, a symbol of honesty, rested heavy in his palm as he bowed and embarked on his mission.

Finally, the Cat King turned to the envoy cloaked in the deepest purple. "The key within this chest holds the power to awaken the cat clock in the City of Lovers," he intoned, his voice deep with gravitas. "There, loyalty burns bright, a shield against the allure of deceit."

The envoy in purple, his expression solemn, broke the seal and draped the key around his neck. With a bow, he disappeared into the shadows, determined to protect the flames of devotion.

The Cat King turned to the final envoy, garbed in a twilight violet that spoke of quietude and dreams. "Within this chest," he rumbled, "rests the key to awaken the slumbering cat clock in the City of Hazels. There, peace has reigned, but now vigilance is required."

The violet-clad envoy, calm and deliberate, broke the seal with a flick of his paw. The key, heavy with unspoken urgency, settled around his front paw. A silent nod was their exchange before he melted into the night, his journey the longest and most shrouded in secrets.

Each envoy faced their own path, some traversing bustling landscapes, others navigating moonlit forests. Yet, all bore the weight of their duty, their hearts drumming a rhythm in sync with the rising moon. As it reached its zenith, bathing the land in silvery light, a collective breath seemed to be held across the seven realms.

With swift yet reverent paws, they ascended the ancient cat belfries. Centuries of dust danced in the moonlight as they fumbled with rusted keyholes, the metal groaning in protest. Finally, with a symphony of creaks, the long-dormant doors creaked open, spewing forth the musty scent of forgotten time.

Meanwhile, in the City of Stars, a sea of feline faces peeked from every rooftop, whiskers twitching in anticipation. Their eyes followed the tiny figures of the envoys high above, each burdened with the fate of the land. The wind whispered warnings of the approaching soldiers, carrying a chill that pricked the fur of even the bravest cats.

One by one, the envoys reached their belfries. Fear tugged at their hearts, the rusted keyholes mocking their efforts. But duty roared louder, and with trembling paws, they inserted the keys. A symphony of agonizing groans filled the air as the ancient doors yielded, spewing forth dust motes that danced in the moonlight.

Below, the cats held their breath. Finally, a single, high-pitched chime echoed through the night, followed by another, and another. Each bell, crafted from precious metals and adorned with forgotten symbols, sang a unique melody that resonated far beyond human ears. Yet, the message carried effortlessly across the land, stirring creatures from their slumber.

As the seventh bell tolled, a collective gasp rippled through the animal kingdom. Birds shot awake, their songs filling the air. Deer lifted their heads from slumber, eyes wide with newfound awareness. Even the slumbering trees seemed to rustle, their leaves whispering, "I am awake."

Then, in the stillness of the dawn, a mighty wind arose. It swept across forests, mountains, and fields, carrying on its breath the scent of change. Whispers of the wind rustled through the villages and cities, carrying a single, chilling message: A storm is coming.