Dragon Fire: Episode 48

Aric and Degan followed Vanamir through the darkened streets as they made their way to the dividing wall of Ethion and the trees of the black arrows. The town, a thriving city of trade, grew silent as they neared the wall. Forsaken buildings, once filled with busy merchants and their wares, now lay crumbling beneath the weight of time, assaulted by beasts seeking shelter. Aric imagined that the doomed structures, discarded husks of better days, wore faces of anger.

“These are dark times indeed,” Degan commented, interrupting the rhythmic clip of the horses’ hooves on the broken cobblestones.

“What do you mean?” Vanamir asked.

“The streets are quiet. Only the whispers and the cries of the dead. And there is no light for even the moon withholds its beams.”

Aric looked up and saw that thick clouds filled the night sky hiding both stars and moon, their comfort lost to the lonely traveler.

“What happened in this place?” Degan asked.

Aric came alongside and asked,

“You do not know?”

Degan nodded, “No. I suppose I have spent too long a time in exile.”

And so Vanamir told the story.

“Long ago the ruler of the gods reached down and opened a cavern in the earth. Within the walls of the cavern, he hid the power and life essence that had once belonged to a fallen god. He aspired to create a new god who would step into the place of the fallen one. But what the ruler of the gods did not know was that the power of the fallen god was filled with malice. Before the gods knew of this mistake, mortals entered the cavern. A pair of twins, brother and sister, were hunting in the woods one day when they came upon the cavern. Curious as to what might be inside, they decided to explore.   Deep within the cavern they discovered a pool of clear water that had formed from the moisture dripping off the cavern roof and walls. Thirsty from the day’s hunt, they rested on the mossy rocks at the water’s edge, cupped their hands and drank deeply from the sweet water. Soon after they returned home, they began to change. They grew more powerful and knew wisdom beyond that of any man. From the pool they had drunk of the fallen god’s life essence and power. But the malice of the god’s power corrupted them, twisting their souls into evil. Together they sought to destroy their village and any realm that lay in their path. When the twins found the city of Ethion, they began to lay waste to it. The king had heard the story of the cavern and so sent out a priest to guide the king’s army to the cavern’s pool. He hoped its power would save his city. The voyage was a treacherous one, and only the priest survived. Desperate to save his people, the priest drank from the pool. But by then, the gods had realized their mistake. In their mercy, they allowed the priest to escape before they destroyed the cavern. With the blessing of the gods, the priest fled to Ethion to use his new abilities and stop the twins. This is the part of the city where the twins were defeated.”

“And the people never came back here to live?” Degan asked.

“To some this place was cursed. To others an open wound they had no wish to remember,” Aric explained. “Too many people were left for dead because the city would not send help.”

Degan could hear the anger in Aric’s voice.

As the men grew closer to the wall, the horses began to grow restless. The cobblestone streets became rock then black dirt that ended at a large iron gate.

“We are here,” Vanamir said. “The black gate of the wall. It keeps the evil in and others out.”

“Why is it not locked?” Degan asked.

“With the years, the lock rusted and fell to the ground, and the city was no longer afraid of this place,” Vanamir explained.

“We should hurry,” Aric said moving toward the gate.

“Wait!” Degan said.

“What is it?” Aric asked.

Degan looked around nervously, tilting his head to one side as though listening for something far away.

“What is wrong?” Vanamir asked.

“This place. It holds the voices of those long dead. They cry out,” Degan answered.

“Then we should hurry to rescue them,” Vanamir said.

“No. Not that,” Degan responded.

“What are they saying?” Aric asked.

Degan tilted his head again to listen.

“They warn us. This place holds only death and pain. There is evil here. We must keep away.”

“If evil is in there, I am going to find it and kill it,” Aric said.

“Yes. We have come this far,” Vanamir agreed.

Aric moved closer to the gate then stopped. Turning in the saddle, he looked back at Degan and advised,

“Stay here in case I do not return.”

Before Degan could answer, Aric had led his mount inside the gate. Degan waited for a moment then followed.

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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