Dragon Fire: Episode 27

Terrin stood at the edge of the clearing, uncertain how to proceed. It had taken some time to convince Cerros and Olds to let him discover if Vanamir were a traitor. Not far from Terrin, Cerros waited just inside the tree line.

He moved slowly up to Terrin and said,

“Go and speak to him, but if he attacks, I will not be still.”

Terrin nodded and stepped out into the clearing. A few yards ahead at the edge of a basin, his bow tightly gripped in his hand, Vanamir watched the birds flit from tree to tree.

“How are you, my friend?” Vanamir asked as Terrin approached.

“What do you mean?” Terrin asked confused.

“I have heard that you had some trouble during the last attack,” Vanamir replied.

“I am well. Thank you,” Terrin said, stopping a few feet away.

A smile slowly forming on his lips, Vanamir turned and watched Terrin.

“The others believe I had something to do with the attack,” he said.

Terrin just nodded.

Vanamir shook his head.

“A pity. Rangers and hunters like me always suffer. We work alone, sometimes for many days. People in society think we answer to no one and do whatever work pays the most coins with no care for honor.”

“I am sorry—,” Terrin began.

“Why do they think I am the one responsible for the attack? I am in this party only because I saved your life. Does that mean nothing now?”

“I am sorry—,” Terrin repeated, again unable to finish what he would say.

“What will happen now?” Vanamir asked. “Am I to be cast aside as though dead? No, for they would not leave me behind. Not a traitor. Surely they would tie me to a tree or kill me.”

Vanamir studied Terrin.

“Is that why you are here? They have sent you to do this?”

“No, Vanamir. I did not come to raise a weapon against you. I am here to ask if you are an honorable man. Have you betrayed us?” Terrin asked.

Vanamir let his head hang for a moment.

“I am grieved by this duty,” Terrin said.

Vanamir slowly looked up and began to laugh. His laugh grew louder as he threw back his head. Confused, Terrin smiled a little as well.

“You know,” Vanamir said, “I did not foresee you as the one, but I am pleased this time has finally arrived.”

“What time?” Terrin asked.

Vanamir began pacing as he spoke.

“I know he has plans. He tells me you are someone important, but I no longer care. The mask I joyfully remove.”

“What are you saying?” Terrin asked, growing increasingly uncomfortable.

Vanamir whirled around to face Terrin and said, “This.”

With impossible swiftness, Vanamir drew an arrow from its quiver, notched it, and fired at Terrin. The arrow sailed through the air, striking Terrin in the chest.

From the trees, Cerros bellowed in rage and charged into the clearing, his ax raised.

As Vanamir laughed and reached for another arrow, Terrin felt a rush of heat race up his legs and into his arms. The color poured out of his vision as he yelled and a ball of fire almost five feet in diameter formed in front of his outstretched hands. The fire extended into a column, crawling through the grass as it struck the stunned Vanamir and consumed him.

When the column of fire disappeared, Terrin stumbled to his knees, the arrow still deep in his chest. He raised his head just long enough to see Vanamir’s burned corpse fall quietly over the ledge into the basin.

Cerros ran to Terrin and caught him as he fell.

“Boy?” Cerros yelled. “Boy, speak to me.”

Unable to speak, Terrin’s vision faded and everything went dark.

*              *              *

In the valley of the basin, a pack of wolves broke from the trees and ran to a small brook to drink. Their leader glanced up to see man falling down onto the valley floor. The pack moved cautiously up to the charred body, sniffing as they slowly approached. But when the leader lowered his head and nudged the body, a creeping tendril of black energy circled out from under the corpse and coiled around the animal’s leg. As more tendrils spiraled around the wolf’s body, grabbing the rest of the pack, the leader yelped. The weakened wolves fell and darkness claimed each one.

*              *              *

Vanamir sat bolt upright in the grass. The carcasses of what looked like wolves lay all around him, their bodies drained and hollow.

“I really must remember to kill him next time,” Vanamir said as he stood.

He felt a pressure in his chest and grabbed at it as a face formed in the dirt before him.

“I sent you to follow the boy, not kill him,” the face spoke.

“I am sorry, Master,” Vanamir, said lowering his head.

“I will not waste my power on your mistakes. Leave the boy. I have something else for you,” the face commanded.

“What is your bidding, Master?” Vanamir asked.

“Something of mine has been taken. Find the one who stole it.”

“Yes, Master,” Vanamir said.

“His name is Degan. Bring what is mine and kill the man.”

“Yes, Master,” Vanamir answered. “It will be done.”

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Published in: on April 7, 2012 at 9:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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