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African Chess Book
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servant of evil
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Narkum fly king
cragmar man of stone
gator reptile warrior
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The Ancestral Trail #23:

Dagmar, Demon of Fire

Flames of Fury over Yellow Stone Peaks


On the Twenty-Third Day...

Beware the fire from demon sprung
By the bridge so weakly slung.
From the danger bravely run
The fight has only just begun.
Remember well what legends say,
There is a green hill far away.
The path you seek as hard you may,
But evil 'tis that rules the day.

The trio flail haplessly through the air as the hot currents carry them upward. Then, without warning, the hot air ceased and left the three friends to fall to the ground with a thud. A short distance away from where they land, they see a large patch of freshly turned soil where Loktar's pyramid once lay.

After catching their breath, the three consult the next riddle of the Book of Prophecies and continue on their journey, hearding for a range of yellow mountains in the distance. Their trek eventually leads them to a deep chasm in the mountains, the only path available being a wood and rope bridge spanning the divide. Realizing they have no other choice, Richard, Orkan, and Melek step onto the bridge.

At first their journey across the bridge is uneventful, but as they reach the midpoint, the worst thing possible happens. The ropes holding the planks together suddenly disintegrate and the wooden slats begin falling apart. Finally, the main cords linking the bridge break loose. Richard orders his friends to grab one of the ropes, and they do just as the rope swings them across the chasm. They chose the right rope, for theirs holds while the other rope snaps and falls down into the river below.

The three rested momentarily after experiencing the shock of hitting the cliff side, but they choose not to hang around for long and begin climbing. Eventually, Richard reaches the edge of the cliff and reaches to pull himself up. Suddenly, a jet of fire appears from behind him and strikes the rock face nearby. He turns around and sees a demon-like creature flying through the chasm, fire spitting from its mouth. The beast slows down and sends another stream of flame in Richard's direction, hitting close enough to sear the rope. The monster prepares for another attack to finish off the trio.

Just then, a battle-cry shriek fills the skies and large shrieks erupt overhead. Richard looks up to see the demon is now fighting with another creature: a giant red-feathered bird, which also spat first, though its flame is a brilliant blue. Richard is stunned by the scene for a moment, but remembers their predicament and climbs onto the cliff. He helps Orkan and Melek get up as well and the three hide behind some rocks to watch the battle.

The sky is filled with red and blue lights as the demon and bird try to roast each other in their flames. Eventually, after a long battle, the demon gives in and shoots like a bullet over the mountains in escape. Victorious, the red-plumed bird swoops down and lands near the trio. The female bird then speaks, revealing to Richard and his friends that she is Dion the Firebird, and she was sent to help them in their quest by Oganga.

Richard is relieved to hear Oganga had survived his battle with Boltor, and asks Dion if she has any news. Dion first gives the identity of the creature that had attacked: Dagmar, the Evil One's demon of fire. She says many forces are gathering to Golan outside the Ancestral City, and Juroot had overcome cannibal chief Zock, bringing the dwarf forces out of the Evil One's spell. Richard tells Dion that he only has one more pod to find, and Dion informs him that the final pod is in a place called Wizard's Well, past a place called Sorcerer's Falls.

Before Dion can say more, they hear the sound of wings beating and look to see Dagmar shooting a jet of flame in their direction. They dodge the fire and look up to see Dagmar now perched on a nearby crag. Sneering, Dagmar begins grabbing rocks with his claws and hurling them away, unearthing the lair of a small creature. As the creature tries to escape, Dagmar strikes out with one of its claws, grazing it. Richard thinks the creature escaped, until it falls to the ground in agony from the poison in Dagmar's claws.

Dagmar then fires again at the trio, who dodge and ready to attack. Orkan fires several arrows at the demon, but though they strike Dagmar's hide the creature is completely unaffected by them. Dion yells at her friends to run, since only she can fight him. She hurriedly gives Richard directions to Sorcerer's Falls before lifting into the air. Dagmar, seeing his adversary move, roars before chasing after her. Within moments the firebird and demon are locked in combat once more.

Seizing the chance Dion gives them, the trio flee from the battle scene in the direction pointed out to them. They eventually exit the yellowy peaks of the mountain, but even then the sights and sounds of the fierce battle are still visible and audible.

The three manage to follow a vague path leading out of the mountains, but soon they simply cross a path-less barren field of stone. In the distance they see a rocky outcrop, and far away they can hear the sound of falling water. Richard gets an intimate sense of the land ahead and says that Sorcerer's Falls is in that direction. As he points this out, a large shadow suddenly emerges behind them from the sun.

Orkan yells that Dagmar is back, but when the shadow's owner lands on the ground, they see the owner is actually Dion, whose beautiful body has been scorched beyond recognition. Dion informs Richard that Dagmar is dead, but he hurt her too badly to help them. Richard informs her that they know Sorcerer's Falls is ahead, and the trio part ways with the firebird, who plans on heading to the Ancestral City after resting for a while.

The three head again towards the rocky outcrop, finding and following a river in hopes of reaching a waterfall somewhere in the mountain. They follow the river uphill until they turn around a corner and find themselves face to face with a massive waterfall.

Unfortunately, they see no pathway for them to progress any further. With a sinking heart, Richard tries listening for Golan's voice through the amulet, but nothing is heard.


Dagmar is a dragon-like beast is known as the Evil One's Demon of Fire, a name bestowed upon him because of his ability to breathe fire. The creature meets the Chosen One within the Yellow Stone Peaks, though there is little to suggest that Dagmar dwells there - more likely he was sent out by the Evil One to hinder Richard's progress. Along with its ability to breathe fire, Dagmar also has a weapon within its claws, which contain a deadly poison enough to kill a small creature with one scratch.

"Richard craned his neck and saw a jagged shape flash through the gorge. As the speeding red blur swooped up into a steep turn, he got a closer look at the creature. Its body was covered in red scales and backward-sloping horns jutted out of its head. A constant gust of flames shot out from its sharp-toothed snout."

Dion is a giant firebird who, like Dagmar, has the ability to breathe fire, though her flames are a brilliant blue instead of a fiery red. She was asked by Oganga to seek out the Chosen One and assist him in his quest to finish his quest. She ends up arriving in the nick of time to save the trio from their encounter with Dagmar, though her battle with the demon nearly kills her and makes her unable to help Richard complete his journey.


With the twenty-third issue of The Ancestral Trail, the story begins to wind down to its inevitable conclusion. All but one of the Life Force Pods have been found, and the location of the final pod is revealed by the firebird Dion - even the location is known. Also remaining is one more captured guardian yet to be freed, so where will the three heroes find this final guardian, who we assume is of the Common Beasts?

As the main creature of the issue, Dagmar proves to be a creature of potential. He is called the Evil One's demon of fire, which is an intriguing title. What kind of work did Dagmar do for his evil master, and why does the demon reside inside these isolated yellow mountains? Perhaps the Evil One finally sent out one of his creatures to stop Richard, and the attack was only thwarted when Dion arrived.

Also in this issue, the previous pod's characteristic is associated when Richard looks at the distant crag where Sorcerer's Falls is located. According to the story, "Richard felt he had an intimate knowledge of the land ahead." Therefore, the pod Richard found in Loktar's tomb is the Pod of Knowledge.

As a final and personal note, the name Dion carries a bit of a different connotation for me. Most people might associate the name with the Canadian singer Celine Dion, but for me the name Dion is the same as a popular shopping store chain in South Africa. And since the original author of The Ancestral Trail, Frank Graves, is a fellow South African, I find that connection strangely amusing.


"Grab hold of this rope!"

"Thank goodness I got here in time. I am Dion, the Firebird. You had a narrow escape. I should have been here sooner. Oganga sent me to help you in your search."

"Your arrows are useless against Dagmar. The battle must be between him and me - you must all leave now, and finish your quest."

"I'll be okay. Dagmar's dead, but he almost finished me off too. I won't be able to help you know. I'll rest here for a while then get back to the Ancestral City to get my wounds taken care of."


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