Dragon Fire Episode 40

“What manner of creature was once trapped behind these doors?” Aric asked.

“A dark and powerful magic. Something unholy,” Degan said.

Aric saw a troubled look in Degan’s eyes as he spoke.

“I know this because the dark magic that flows through me seems oddly at peace here.”

“This creature, this power that escaped is somehow connected to you?” Aric asked.

“It would seem so, my friend,” Degan trailed off as his eyes slowly moved up the wall. “Why would someone release this force?”

“You are mistaken, Degan. No one loosed the creature,” Aric said, pointing to the edges of the broken door. “This iron has been torn from the inside.”

“It set itself free?” Degan asked.

In the stillness, a raspy voice suddenly hissed, “There will be time, after my king is finished with you.”

Quickly reaching for his blades, Aric spun around and found himself facing two palace guards. Black veins ran through their skeletal arms as they gripped the hilt of their drawn swords  and watched Aric and Degan with pallid eyes for any blink of movement. Aric knew he was outnumbered but he braced himself for a fight.

“You would be wise to do us no harm,” Degan warned.

From inside the bag at Degan’s hip came a scratching sound as Gonorap trembled in fear.

“Take us to your king!” Aric demanded. “I will have words with him for failing to protect his people.”

With crudeness of spirit, the guards threw back their heads and laughed.

The older guard answered, “As you wish. But in case you are considering something. . .”

He brought his withered lips together and sent out a bead of tar-like spittle that instantly encased Aric’s right hand. Before Aric could react, the guard spit again, this time covering the left hand.

“That will keep your swords still,” the guard snorted.

“And what will keep me still?” Degan asked, surprised by their indifference toward him.

“You are a mere conjurer, of little value to the king,” the guard explained.

With one guard leading and the other behind, Aric and Degan were taken through the ruins of the castle. The halls of the palace were filled with the dead, the king’s people, wrapped in black plant growth and the slime that covered both of Aric’s hands.

The throne room was lit by a single torch that burned brightly, casting shadows across the crumbling walls. The king, seated on his royal throne, was hunched over, his withered hands resting on the faded red velvet of the golden chair.  His gray skin hung in folds on his slight frame, and his wiry dark hair fell across his spotted forehead. When the guards brought in Aric and Degan, the king looked up and Aric saw that his left eye was gone from its socket. His right eye was dull, covered with a white film into which the pupil had disappeared.

“Who are these people?” the king moaned.

“Intruders, Your Majesty,” the guard answered as he stepped forward.

“Ahh,” the king laughed, saliva dribbling from his mouth and sizzling when it hit the stone floor. “The old man said someone might come looking for him.”

Degan’s eyes grew wide.

“What happened to him?” Degan insisted.

The king cackled, black spittle flying from his mouth.

“You may see for yourself when you are finished here. That is if the dogs have left anything of him.”

Degan growled, “You will pay for what you have done.”

The king roared, “Who are you to threaten me, conjurer?”

Degan looked down at the bag on his hip and said,

“Gonorap.”

A trembling voice responded,

“Y. . .ye. . .yes?”

“Leave me, but stay close,” Degan ordered.

Turning his head to peer out of his one eye, the king watched as Gonorap slowly crawled out of the bag then fled.

“I do not fear you, conjurer,” the king said.

“You will,” Degan assured him.

“Stand!” Degan ordered.

Startled, the king suddenly rose from the throne and stood upright. His cries of protest were lost in the sounds of rising bodies throughout the palace.

“What are you?” the king demanded.

Degan let loose his full power, and a dark violet energy radiated from him.

Filled with fear, the king inhaled suddenly, his skin turning to a pale white.

“The vessel,” he whispered.

“Yes. And you will pay for what you have done, but first you will suffer,” Degan said.

Aric felt the ground begin to rumble, and in the distance he heard a loud pounding. Just as he turned, the wall crumbled and a massive creature formed from the joined flesh and bone of the dead broke through. Rising twelve feet into the air, its long arms scraped along the floor.

Clutching the back of his throne, the king trembled in terror and the guards stood frozen in place. Slowly the throne room filled with the dead. Hungry to inflict vengeance, each face turned toward the king, their eyes ablaze. Like wolves waiting for a strike, they drew closer.

“Forgive me,” he pleaded.

“The time for mercy has passed,” Degan said.

Degan pointed toward the king, inhaled deeply and shouted,

“He is yours!”

At the command, the creature and waves of the dead cried out and rushed forward.

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Published in: on July 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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