(Chapter 3)
To avoid having to go through the whole story again for 
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Characters' Names Index 
Places' Names Index
-"As you should have deducted by now through your little adventures, Alymndes is only part of a much vaster world in spite of its own great size. Alymndes is what you call a continent, a large landmass, located on a sphere and not a flat surface, as you might have believed... revolving around the sun. You had better ask Numnir for the general physical aspects, as I am sure he will enjoy teaching the rest of you...”
Numnir felt somewhat surprised at the praise.
His father continued: 
-“Alymndes was not always the name of our present land. Through the ages, various civilizations with different names dwelt here. Each civilization took at least thirty millennia to develop and only a few more to disappear, victims of greed, war and catastrophes of its own doing. 
Ages passed in between. Some eras knew only the existence of a sole race, others a multitude of them. 
Sometimes great magic was used and witnessed, other times, eons passed by drearily for lack of it. 
Our present age is remarkable; a blossoming of many kinds of intelligent if not wise creatures and a melting pot of civilizations and cultures. As you discovered for yourselves, once you have passed over the Reef and turned back inland, you will find a seafaring race. The races of the Desert and the Sea occupy the desert shores stretching far south living in cities by the coast called harbours.”
Umatar wondered what a harbour could mean, but she did not dare interrupt her sire. 
-“A city is where many creatures co-exist in an organized fashion. A harbour is a city by the sea with a protected area for their boats that they use to assist in catching fish, their staple food, and for carrying their belongings. They also trade. Trade is an exchange of goods, which cannot otherwise be obtained. It might strike you as a queer notion, but do not forget we can move far quicker and farther, so we can always obtain all we wish for in a relatively short time. 
Creatures with striking black skin, height and strength considered great by others (but quite unremarkable when compared with our own) predominantly populate the Races of the Desert and the Sea. These people are called humans. They act peacefully, kindly and show a great fondness for revelry. They do not anger very easily, but once roused they can become unmanageable. Other races usually try to ensure good relations are kept with them.”
Ekan tried to imagine himself as a human having the same skin colour as his. He wondered if humans came in varied colours as dragons do.
-“South of the desolation called the Stone Desert lies a very wide area covered with steppes. The land is not as arid and forbidding as in the north and can sustain some kinds of life. This is the country of the Free Tribes of the Steppes. Also humans, although smaller than the people who populate the Races of the Desert and the Sea the Free Tribes are thin and wiry with brown skin. They are fiercely independent and jealous of their territories, although they will agree to trade.  They roam the whole breadth of the continent on four legged beasts known to them as horses. They live nomadically and do not like cities, but dwell in shelters made of skin or cloth called tents or yurts. Their leaders are Shamen who believe they possess great magical power. Actually these are frauds that feed on their kin's superstitions.”
Umatar started dreaming of vast expanses, but Glamrun’s voice brought her back to reality.
-“South of the Steppes, the land can be roughly divided into two areas. The width of the continent tends to diminish by almost half there, and one third of the whole breadth of the land from the Eastern Shore right to the Western Sea grows a very thick and wide forest inhabited by various Elven Races. These races share an unusually giddying height, thin and wiry bodies and limbs, clear skin and hair of strikingly different colours and hues. They do not grow any facial hair but there are other obvious traits to help you decide between male and female. The male Elves are great lovers and caretakers of nature and they venerate their woods and trees. They are also remarkable artists and create many beautiful things for the sake of art or plain everyday use. The females are fearful magicians, wielding powers unrivalled, the only race capable of doing so to my knowledge.  
They keep themselves aloof of other races' concerns but actively engage in trade and always welcome visiting artists and scientists of any kind. Being terribly efficient at protecting their realms; Nobody may enter their forests without their permission. But once accepted, their hospitality is such that no other race can match.” 
Dargelblad certainly approved of such independence and would ask a few more pointed questions later.
-“Finally east of the Elves’ Forests vast plains and hilly country stretch right to the shore. A very fertile land especially famous for its wines and food, it is inhabited by very eccentric people with a quaint hierarchy: at the bottom you will find the farmers, very respected as they produce more than half of the food consumed on the whole continent. Then come the Guilds, grouping craftsmen and artists, and the merchant class, very rich and very active, and according to their own values find themselves under a kind of elite called the Blue Knights and the Walkyries. The latter class is probably the strangest of the lot, although quite lovable. The Blue Knights are awash with tradition and ceremonies and beset with feuds of all kinds, most of them of their own imagination, while the Walkyries, proclaiming themselves equal of the Blue Knights, will usually choose their betrothed among these men. Once they have found their life partner, another of their quaint customs, these men and women will fight alongside their chosen alone. All Walkyries being left-handed protect the left side of the Blue Knights who are always right-handed. The only way you could unite these two groups of warring individuals would be the desecration of their farms, an act their laws would not forgive of anyone, whatever the reasons of their quarrels.”
Amrel had some difficulties to understand eternal betrothal indeed, but she could appreciate the romantic situation.  
-“There are many more tales to tell about these races, yet I think you have learned enough for one day, although I must add that the land south seems even narrower and is cursed with an endless succession of volcanoes spilling poisoned lava across the whole land. As far as I know, the only access to that land is by sea or through a narrow gap south of the Blue Knights and Walkyries Realm, although I have never ventured that far. What lies beyond the volcano belt, I myself have yet to discover."  
His story told, Glamrun was about to lay back to rest when he heard Ekan comment:
-"You forgot one race!”
Glamrun checked his retort as the young black dragon spoke very little as a matter of course and would never dare cut into somebody's words without very good reason. The young Wyrm had already reached an enormous size for its age and radiated incredible strength. Nonetheless he had a very quiet character and his brothers and sisters, even Dargelblad, took natural refuge behind his solidity. Ekan had taken the habit to lie or sleep in the entrance of their lair while all his siblings slept against his back or sides. For all his seemingly stolid disposition, his watchfulness could not be failed. Glamrun had known for a long time he could call the imposing youngster the ‘Guard’. 
-"Father, forgive my impertinence, but Numnir has discovered a fifth race on the southern slopes of the Crags, inside them actually!" 
-"Do you mean the Dwarves by any chance? I thought they had all disappeared along with the other dragons against which they fought and fought again over the same stores of riches and gold."  
-"I do not understand what you really mean by riches and gold, intervened Numnir, but these creatures are relatively small compared to the races we have seen so far, but very thick and powerful. They live underground, but I have noticed some outside busy on the slopes. They never seem to stop working, even at night!" 
-"Hmmm.” Glamrun paused to contemplate. “Well, I suppose some investigation is required to learn about this so called fifth race of men. I have lost contact with the outside world ever since you were born." He sighed. 
-"When shall we go, then!" exclaimed Umatar with obvious delight. The golden she-dragon was the smallest, but the most agile of them all. Always happy-go-lucky, even wild, keeping her still for any length of time was a feat yet to be achieved. Ever curious, she spent her time nosing around checking everything inside and outside their cavern, the valley and the gods only know where else. She proved a great companion for Numnir who with his own constant curiosity had found an ally while the other dragons did not bother much. Many a time he did have to extricate her from scabrous situations, but she did not give a damn about his warnings or scoldings and Glamrun would certainly not interfere.   
Not only did Umatar possess the keenest eyes, but she showed an incredible array of all senses. Nothing could move within great distances without her knowing or guessing it. 
Humans would call her a "Sentinel", mused the Old Wyrm. 
"Sooner than you expect!” roared a familiar yet foreboding voice in the night!
Glamrun stood erect over his surprised and disoriented charges their wings splayed in defense to this unknown vocal entity. 
For the first time the old Dragon felt something akin to fear in their minds. Well, well, interesting... Their fear of their mother could prove useful in the future, he thought. But where was Zamrel? 
     Suddenly in the air beyond the ledge a light appeared...

(Chapter 4: The Mission)

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