This is the opening of Sprocket and the Heart of the North by Bryan Pentelow.
In the North lived a very skilled glass maker by name Cedric. There were many glass makers but only this one was a Dragon Friend and made Dragon Glass.
His workshops, on the edge of a great forest, were large and many of the local people worked for him or supplied him with the materials he needed.
The secret of his success was dragon fire. He loved the fiery creatures and treated them with kindness and respect. In return they gave him all the fire and heat he needed to work his art and skill with the hot treacly mix of melted sand and other trace elements which made his glass so special.
Because of the dragon fire, used to melt and form the glass, it became very tough and resilient. Cooking vessels never cracked on the fire and were easy to clean after use. Lamps that he made burned brighter and their candles lasted longer. It was however his sculptures which made him famous.
These beautiful objects formed from crystal threads and woven sheets as fine as gossamer captured the light of sun and moon and spun it into ever changing spectrums which dazzled the eye and made men’s hearts sore. Each work was different and enclosed in a globe of glass like a soap bubble but was so strong that even a blow from a hammer or sword left no mark.
Everyone wanted his glass products and wealthy men and kings came from far and wide to marvel at the beauty and artistry of his work. He was offered wealth beyond the dreams of most men but would only sell to those with pure intentions and one piece was not for sale at any price.
The Heart of the North was his master piece. Not large or ornately showy. A globe, barely a hand’s span in diameter, it pulsed with an inner fire and warmed the spirit of any that looked into its depths. When asked about it he would shrug, and simply say it was the beating heart of the land, then smile and turn back to his work.
One night, when thunder hammered the high fells and lightening splintered the darkness into blinding shards, a hammering came at his door. He roused himself from the comforting fireside and went to see who would venture out that terrible night. As he crossed the room light blazed around the solid oak door and it crashed open almost bursting from its massive iron hinges. A tall cloaked figure with burning red eyes loomed in the doorway then strode into the room brushing the glass maker aside. Finding nobody else in sight he turned back to Cedric and demanded he give up his best work. The glass maker refused and the stranger became incandescent with rage.
When morning came, with skies swept to a clear cold blue by the night’s storm winds, the villagers found Cedric’s cottage in ruins and the glass maker lying crushed beneath a heavy beam. It took five strong men to lift the huge trunk of oak from his body but life still beat faintly in his shattered chest. They carried him gently to his workshop and placed him near the kiln to give him warmth. The village healer was called and came with her herbs and potions but after a brief examination of his injuries she shook her head in sorrow and bade them make his last moments as comfortable as possible. Knelling beside him they asked what had happened but all he could gasp was that the Heart was lost and woe would come of it.
A crowd scoured the ruin of the cottage and though many of his prized pieces were found there was no sign of the small treasure that was his finest creation.
When his end finally came two large dragons, one a deep red the other a pure white, flew silently down to the workshop and asked that the body be brought out. Four of his workers wrapped him in a sheet and carried him into the light of the setting sun, placing him in front of the huge beasts. The dragons bowed low over the body and remained silent and still for several moments, then took hold of the sheet in their talons and leapt into the darkening, sky carrying the remains of Cedric with them.
With The Heart and its maker gone the village lost its purpose. People no longer came to trade for there was little to trade. In less than a year all its inhabitants had drifted away and the buildings were no more than tumbled heaps of moss covered rubble. No dragons came, in fact very few were seen anywhere in the land and soon they became no more than a folk myth.
The Heart had gone from the North and sorrow and decay took its place.
You can find out more about Bryan Pentelow and his books on his website.