The Caput Draconis, otherwise known as the Dragon’s Head, was said to be the stone that fell from Dathilios’ head, the third eye, when the East was banished from the Spirit Realm.
It’s been titled the King’s Jewel, and rumored that once Aelya, the Traitor Goddess of the North, tried to have it destroyed by striking it with a hammer that was said to crush anything that fell beneath it, but before the blow was struck she had a vision—so terrible and mighty—that it sent her mad, and led her to the betrayal of her three kin, fleeing the world and never returning. It has been sought by both tyrants and holy men, and is said to have been kissed by the Cloaked One herself; some claim she currently clutches it to her breast to this day, and that is how she sees the future. Others deny this tale and claim that when the Cybernetics took the East they melted it down, and the Ten Fang drank it, shutting out the East’s future forever. And that is why the East blackens and dies.
However, some sources say the stone still exists, hidden by a secret society, magicians keeping it locked away and safe from the world. As the Utilitarian stretches his hand over the East, his greed and craving for the stone has become well known, and a massive hunt has been exacting itself over the decades, criminals and heroes alike, eager to find the King’s Jewel and become kings themselves, as the reward grows only with the passing years. Nothing in the East is more sought after in the modern day than the Dragon’s Head. Nothing more shrouded in myth, desire, and skepticism.
That said, when Tangalula’s serpent tongue hissed out the words, how could one refuse? Certainly not anyone, and certainly not a thief like Rov.
“Ss’take the Lefst Way, and fosllows s’tha Hunter’s Arrow. You’ll find a pasth—s’take it. Fosllows ifst down… Sss s’when you gets s’to s’the narrow door, knock s’twice on the Raven’s head. Ss you’ll see old Janga is an honesst lizard s‘then, Grrov…You‘ll ssee…”
The fat gator was untrustworthy, and slime, yet his directions proved dependable, even in their vagueness. If the lizard was wasting Rov’s time, he had put a lot of thought into his practical joke. For three nights Rov followed the Hunter’s Arrow, traveling northwards, and when on the horizon a path revealed itself serpentining through the stony mountain hills he had been traversing, his brow raised in slight disbelief, and as Bo-Janga instructed, followed it down. Only a single day it took him to reach the foot of a jagged outcrop, curling at the top and looming as a wave over him from the rock. There was a thin, arched door, cut from the stone. He approached with curiosity, a bit of eagerness, and satisfaction brimming in him.
The Dragon’s Head. A stone of the Cardine gods.
The late evening quiet, with bare, twisted trees spotting the distance, jamming their way out of the craggy granite landscape, Rov stood before the door, his boots crunching lightly over the harsh pebbled ground. The smell of the air was dry, chill; the door he examined; it was taller than he was though just a sliver, a slim crack, only large enough for a man to slip in through sideways, should he be slim enough. There on its face were three creatures, the two above falling into the gaping mouth of the beast below: a raven, that flew above a hind, that leapt above a dragon, with fanged snout held open and thin tongue dancing, as though prepared to feast. It had an eeriness to it. Ancient, and forgotten, and a sensing desire not to be disturbed… It had sat without living eyes upon it for many moons, and seemed to know of a presence before it. Rov felt an insect, climb up his back to his shoulder, before the buzz of it filled his ear and shot out into the coming night. Something was existing, without knowledge.
Rov slung his backpack down and moved closer to the door, pausing, wondering if his journey would in this moment amount to nothing. Eyes sharp, keenly gazing through his black tresses his hand he lifted to the raven’s head, bent upward and crowing in its last flight, and gave two solid knocks, the sound echoing in the unnerving stillness of the dead world around him.
Nothing happened. He immediately made move of his lips to curse when the door broke from its stone bindings and cracked, trembling backward deeper into the rock before at last splitting down the center and folding its two pieces neatly aside, unveiling a long, narrow passage, without a speck of light to be seen.
Rov, stepped back, surprised to say the least. The slimy cretin was telling the truth after all…
The dark from the crevasse, was pitch, and the air teemed of cold, crawling forward over Rov and sinking itself into his bones. There was death in there, he sensed it.
“S’tha Dragon’s Head.”
Bo-Janga’s hiss chimed in his head.
“A labyrinsth. Quite Differenst. Nost the ssame… designed to s’lead you somewhere. Direct you s’to your desstination.”
Grabbing his rucksack, Rov took his matches from his right pocket, and striking his callous thumb over the red heads three flared bright, giving light to the darkness. Turning his body, and taking a breath and exhaling, he slipped into the tight crack, and disappeared into the deep.
When hours had passed, without his knowing, the narrow door shivered, and closed him in.
There upon the door the dragon’s fangs loomed closer to the raven and the hind, its wide eye, hungry.