Dragon Fire: Episode 36

Degan quickly slipped down from his saddle and stepped in front of the horses. Behind him in the road, Aric struggled to breath as the vines tightened around his throat. Degan watched the shambling townsfolk as they grew nearer. There were five in the group, each carrying a weapon fashioned from a farm tool or torn from the ruins of a house.

“Turn around now, and no harm will come to you,” Degan warned the approaching villagers.

But when they kept advancing, Degan hung his head in regret then said,

“Very well.”

When he opened his right hand, a black flame suddenly appeared in his palm. Raising his hand in the air, Degan turned the palm toward the townsfolk and a dark brown skull wreathed in black fire formed. The jaw swung open and screamed as it flew from his hand, shooting towards the villagers. Striking the ground, it exploded and threw rock and dirt up in a spray, knocking the people backwards. Degan whirled around to the humanoid mass of roots and dirt that choked Aric.

With a piercing stare, Degan raised his left hand and looked into the creature’s eyes.

“Your mind is my mind. Your soul belongs to me.”

Slowly, the creature loosened its grip but then suddenly tightened it again.

“Release him!” Degan commanded.

When the creature refused, Degan’s voice sounded louder as he repeated the command.    At once, the creature began to writhe in pain, releasing Aric.

Dropping to the road, Aric coughed as he struggled to breath.

“Are you injured?” Degan asked.

Aric shook his head no and feebly pointed behind Degan.

Degan spun around to see that the townsfolk were rising to their feet as they gathered strength.

When he thrust his palms downward then brought them up, two large hands and arms formed from the dirt and rock of the road.

Following the movement of Degan’s right hand, the right earthen arm swung down, striking the villagers and knocking them to the ground. As a few of the men began to stand back up, Degan motioned with his left arm, and the left earthen arm slapped at them like mosquitoes. When Degan lowered his arms, the earthen hands and arms dropped to the ground, disappearing into the road.

Turning back to Aric, he asked, “Can you stand, my friend?”

“One remains,” Aric croaked.

Degan looked back at the fallen townsfolk to see a burly man slowly pulling himself to  his feet.

Degan gave the man over to the humanoid root creature.

“He is yours.”

Suddenly, the creature slid into the ground, resurfaced behind the last villager, and encircled his neck, disappearing into the earth and pulling the man under.

Amazed, Aric watched as the man’s feet disappeared into the earth.

“Why have you never done this before?” he asked Degan.

“I have always been at work keeping calm those who followed me,” Degan explained as he extended his hand to Aric.

“It takes much focus to keep them under control.”

“I think I understand,” Aric said, reaching out for Degan’s hand.

Just then the old woman, still leaning against the door of her house, gathered what little strength she had and cried out. Degan turned to see a man coming out of the field headed toward the woman, a rusty sickle in his hand.

Quickly, Degan extended his free arm. A bone spur the length of a pike appeared, slicing through the air and impaling the man to a nearby fence post.

Still holding onto Degan’s outstretched hand, Aric slowly pulled himself to his feet. On shaky legs, he followed Degan as he walked up to the porch of the crumbling farmhouse.

The poor woman clutched her chest in frozen terror.

Fear burning in her veins, she was unable to speak. Degan lowered himself and gazed into her blue eyes. As Aric watched, Degan’s brown eyes became blue then quickly returned to brown.

He stood up and said,

“She has told us of the terrible storm that brought sickness to the king and all who stayed. Some of the people prayed while others hid from what many called the wrath of the gods. As the plants and livestock died, her food supply dwindled. The last time she had the strength for a trip into town in search of food, she found bodies littering the courtyard where they had fallen dead.”

“Is all hope gone from this place,” Aric asked, still coughing.

“That is what I fear,” Degan said.

Turning to the root creature that had returned, Degan commanded,

“Do not disturb us. Do not let us be disturbed.”

In response to Degan’s words, the creature disappeared into the ground.

“Where are we going now?” Aric asked.

“We shall continue our journey to see the king,” Degan replied.

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Published in: on March 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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