Dragon Fire: Episode 60

Aric stared at his swords resting on the stones atop the building and his spirit grew faint within him. This evil man, responsible for the deaths of so many, had rendered him helpless in his fear for the child Isaac’s life. Aric longed to take up his swords and put an end to this darkness, but he knew he could not.

“Well done,” Vanamir said. “Now you will stop the necromancer.”

Aric lifted the leather bag and freed the sleeping Gonorap, tossing him down to a mound of earth near where he had last seen Degan. At once the dead flesh of the golem fell away until only Degan remained.

Degan, tired and confused, looked over at Gonorap then up to Aric.

“I am sorry,” Aric called down.

“Excellent. Now let us join your friend, and I shall escort you to meet someone special. My followers will be watching us and are under my orders. If you try to escape or do anything to thwart my plans, the word will go out and the boy will die,” Vanamir warned.

 

 

*          *          *

 

 

Forced to obey, Aric followed Vanamir and his slaves through the ruined remains of the city as Degan marched alongside.

“Why?” Degan asked.

“I had no choice. He holds the boy Isaac captive,” Aric explained.

“Where is the boy?” Degan demanded of Vanamir.

“He will be with us shortly,” Vanamir said. “I must first bring you to my master. You are his new vessel. And this meddling ranger he will crush beneath his heel like some troublesome beetle.”

Walking through the cluttered streets, Aric and Degan heard chanting that grew louder and louder as they passed the skeletons lying about.

When Degan saw a few of them turn their heads toward him, he quickly quieted them with a glance in the hopes that his captors had not seen them move. The victorious Vanamir had failed to bring Gonorap with them.

“What do you mean Degan is to be your master’s vessel?” Aric asked.

“My master prepared the birth and life of the necromancer for a specific purpose, to be his new vessel. He will then rise in full strength to reenter this world and take his rightful place,” Vanamir explained.

“Rightful place?” Degan asked.

“As a god,” Vanamir said with a smile.

When they turned the corner, Aric saw before them a pyre and a great fire whose flames rose high into the air. Encircling the fire, worshippers draped in black cloth fell to their knees lifting their voices in a strange chant.

“Now you will be sacrificed to the lesser god of creation, the eternal flame,” Vanamir said.

“Wait here,” he ordered Degan.

“Where is the boy?” Aric shouted.

“He is here,” Vanamir said as two of the cultists dragged the terrified boy forward.

“Let him go!” Aric shouted.

“Bring the ranger and the boy to the altar,” he commanded his followers.

Three cultists grabbed Aric, forcing him up to the altar.

Vanamir turned to Degan with a warning.

“You will not interfere, Necromancer, or their deaths will be long.”

Degan studied Vanamir and discovered something.

“You have seen death. I can smell it on you.”

Vanamir smiled and said, “Yes. Every time I die, the master brings me back, and I return with greater power.”

He turned and walked over to the altar set atop the pyre.

“My children, we have gathered to appease the wrathful appetite of your god the eternal flame. Today we will quench his thirst and he will grant our god the power to enter our realm.”

In their frenzy, the chanting of the worshippers grew louder as Vanamir brought forth a large dagger with a twisted blade.

Looking down at Isaac, now bound to the altar, he raised the blade over the boy.

“We are born from fire, and to fire we return these sacrifices,” Vanamir yelled.

Just as Vanamir pulled back on the dagger, Degan whispered,

“Stop.”

Suddenly Vanamir’s hand stopped in mid air, the blade just inches from Isaac’s chest.

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