Prologue: The Mighty Morg

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Morg's shadow greased over the smooth backs of hills and fluttered across the deep valleys clumped with pine. Passing over a river, it disintegrated into a shimmering school of fish that sliced across the rushing current. It reconstituted itself on the far bank, dark as night, then lurched up a cliff face to glide across the highland sage.

Morg marveled at its beauty and perfection. Behold the broad wings with their spiky pinions, the sinuous stretch of torso, the whipping tail with its triad of spikes, but most of all the serrated head shivering in the heat mirage of its own breath. In all of nature, there was no shadow as terrible and majestic as that of a dragon in its prime.

His shadow set a herd of caribou stampeding. The weaker ones stumbled and fell behind, bleating pitifully. Morg paid them no mind. It was the caribou king he was after. But when he finally spotted him at the head of the lead group, he decided it wasn't worth the bother. What did he expect? It was late in the season, and he had already culled out the most vigorous beasts from the herd.

Disappointed, he turned west, his shadow dwindling as he surged up into the frost-winds. Mountains rose up in white-capped rows that misted away to the horizon. He had just reached the first rocky buckles when a bright glint on the ground caught his eye. He swooped lower for a better look. There it was again! Much brighter this time, a white-hot shaft of reflected sun. His blood boiled with anticipation. Only one thing in nature gave off such a crystal-sharp gleam. Manling!

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