Dragon Fire: Episode 30

After commanding the dead to guard Gonorap, Degan returned with Aric to the campsite and a night’s rest.

When dawn burst into flame in the morning sky, they were back on the horses headed for the church of the abandoned town.

Hours later as the afternoon sun slipped toward the horizon, Aric asked,

“How much farther?”

Degan, tired and sore from a day of endless riding, looked up at the clouds.

“We are close, thankfully,” he said. “My strength is almost spent, and if I must hear Gonorap complain once more, I will throw him into the nearest river.”

“Gonorap does not wish to drown,” Gonorap said from inside a burlap sack. “Gonorap will be still.”

When they finally reached the old abandoned town, the moon was full overhead. The walls of the old town were decayed, falling to ruin. Most of the structures had collapsed under the weight of neglect, falling prey to the unrelenting drumbeat of time.  In the distance towering over the destroyed buildings was the tall steeple of a church.

“There,” Degan said pointing. “He should be waiting there.”

Aric looked around as they rode through the broken streets. The fleeing shadows and glowing eyes made him uneasy.

“Where are these demons you spoke of?” Aric asked.

“They are here,” Degan said. “They hide themselves.”

“Why would creatures of darkness hide?” Aric asked.

“They fear me,” Degan explained.

“You?” Aric seemed confused. “They fear you?”

“Yes,” Degan answered. “Whatever power has marked me, it is this power they hide from.”

“What manner of creature would frighten these things?” Aric asked, the evil of the place bearing down on him like a great weight.

“Their master,” Degan said.

They rode for a bit longer until they came upon a churchyard, the moon casting her soft light on the crumbling tombs. As he tied off the horses, Degan said,

“The stories I heard long ago tell of a man with a heart consumed by evil. When he died, he took control of the dark ones that lurk in shadow. They wait for their master, for his new form with which he will reclaim the world,” Degan explained.

“I too have heard the story. There is another story about a dark evil, Ashoramal they call him. He had a disciple, a man immortal who walks the earth waiting for the day when he will reclaim the life that was stolen from him,” Aric said. “These are stories told to children by the fire to keep them from going out at night.”

“They are true, ranger,” a woman’s soft voice hissed.

Aric’s head snapped up to see a young woman, her long white hair encircling the flowing purple shroud that wound around her pale flesh, covered with strange markings.

“Who is that?” Aric asked.

“Sheizariel, the adopted daughter of the priest I have come to see,” Degan said.

“Can you trust her?” Aric asked.

“If I wanted you dead,” Sheizariel spoke suddenly behind them, “I would give you to those who hide in shadow.”

In an instant, Aric had unsheathed his swords.

“Sheizarial, those who follow me will advance at a sudden movement. I cannot hold them back for long,” Degan warned.

“I do not fear them,” she hissed.

“Perhaps you should,” Aric said, pointing past her.

Slowly, the streets began filling with the dead, awaiting Degan’s command. Skeletons and decomposing corpses, some fresher than others, stood ready.

Sheizarial smiled and said,

“Very well. What is it you seek?”

“I had to leave the protective bonds your father gave me. I need his help to craft a protection that I can carry with me,” Degan explained.

“He cannot help,” Sheizarial answered.

“He must. The need is great,” Degan pleaded.

“He is not here. He did not return from helping you,” Sheizarial answered. “I cannot search for him. I must stay here and hold back the demons that seek out this place to hide.”

“Hide until their master returns,” Aric added.

“I am their master now,” Sheizarial hissed.

“Help me, Sheizarial, and I will find your father,” Degan promised.

“I cannot craft a medallion. Father never taught me. But there is something I can do,” Sheizarial said.

Sheizarial’s eyes slowly slid from Degan to Aric then stopped at Tolora, who held her ears back and growled.

“Too much spirit in that one,” Sheizarial said.

Moving again, her eyes suddenly stopped, settling on the burlap bag that held Gonorap.

“Who hides in that bag?” she asked.

“No one,” Gonorap spoke from within the folds of cloth. “The bag is empty.”

When Sheizarial held up her hand, the bag became untethered, freeing itself from the saddle and lifting into the air. As the bag fell to the ground, Gonorap, quivering in fear, floated closer to Sheizarial.

“Please do not eat Gonorap,” he pleaded.

Sheizarial smiled, “I have much bigger plans for you, little thief.”

A black vapor laced with violet tendrils drifted up behind her and shot towards Degan, wrapping around him then striking Gonorap full on the chest. Degan and Gonorap twitched and cried out as they fell to the ground.

When the energy laced smoke suddenly dissipated, Degan slowly rose to his feet as Gonorap fled.

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Published in: on July 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

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