Dragon Fire: Episode 68

The sky over Ethion grew dark and threatening as thunder rumbled, shaking the earth, and flashes of lightning danced on the horizon.

“The enemy fills the heavens with the storm to block the sun,” Razham said, watching the weather.

“Does he fear the light?” Cerros asked, a bit skeptical.

“The rays of the sun burn him. Evil cannot stand in the presence of light, not in its purest form,” Razham explained.

Satisfied with his answer, Cerros looked out over the hills as they rode.

“The kingdom has changed,” he said as they neared Willowthorne Monastery.

“I have not passed this way since the days of my youth, but I fear the enemy is even now fortifying his position,” Cerros said.

“He knows the true king has returned to take his rightful place on the throne, so he seeks victory behind a legion of men who will lay down their lives for a false leader,” Razham replied.

The messenger’s letters had beseeched them both to leave at once for Willowthorne Monastery. When they cleared the line of trees, they at last saw the old church up ahead over the next hill. Weary from the long journey, they rode the rest of the way in silence. As they approached the gates, an old monk, his long pearl white beard lifting in the strong wind, stepped out to greet them.

“Welcome, travelers. I am Brother Egil. I am he who summoned you. We must speak at once, but first come inside and rest for you have traveled far,” he said, taking the horses’ reins.

Uneasy with this sudden hospitality, Cerros kept his hand on his sword as he cautiously climbed down from his mount.

“Why have you summoned us here?” he asked the old monk.

“I wish to stop the undoing of mankind, but for that I need your help,” Brother Egil said.

Looking toward Razham, he said, “You are Razham of the south islands.”

“I am. You know of my homeland?” Razham asked in surprise.

“I have seen it in a dream,” the old monk replied.

While Brother Egil led the way, he asked many questions of Razham. Cerros warily followed at a distance. They moved down several long passages until they reached a chamber with two beds.

“Please rest now. I shall wait for the others to arrive. We shall speak again soon,” Brother Egil said.

Remaining vigilant, Cerros sat down on the cot and lay back. With his hand on his sword, he decided to close his eyes for just a moment. His weary bones rested against the soft straw, and before he could protest, he drifted into slumber.



*          *          *



Cerros woke to the sound of voices nearby. When he looked over toward the other cot, he saw that Razham was not in the chamber. At once, he rose to his feet and followed the sound until he came upon another room where Razham and Brother Egil were seated at a table deep in conversation with two other men who stood just inside the doorway. One of the men was dressed in a long robe with his face hidden beneath the folds. Cerros recognized the other man as Terrin. He stood strong and bold.

There you are!” Cerros snapped, crossing to Terrin and seizing his arm.

“Where did you go?” Cerros demanded. “Do you know how long we searched for you?”

“My name is Alidus, and you will unhand me. Now!” Terrin insisted.

“Not until you explain,” Cerros refused.

“It is best that you release his arm,” The man in the robe cautioned.

Ignoring the warning, Cerros snapped, “Answer me. What is your defense?”

Terrin closed his eyes, and in a flash his body was wreathed in fire. Cerros let go at once, and the fire went out. Terrin looked at him and said,

“My name is Alidus, and I am your king.”

“My liege, please. This monastery is quite old and could easily set ablaze,” Brother Egil pleaded.

“Of course. My apologies,” Alidus said.

“The king’s disappearance was necessary for if he had stayed with you, he would not have met me.” said the tall figure beside Alidus. As he spoke, he stepped into the room.

“Please remove your robe,” Brother Egil said. “You are among friends here. There is no need to hide.”

Atol hesitated but when Alidus reassured him, he removed his robe and stretched to his full height.

Cerros was taken aback by the tall gaunt creature that emerged from beneath the robe.

“My friends, this is Atol the Shepherd, the only one of his kind. He is the steward of Idrian and Olon,” Brother Egil announced.

“Idrian and Olon?” Razham asked.

“Come with me,” Brother Egil said.

The old monk led everyone outside then took them to a nearby field.

Atol looked toward the sky, closed his eyes then softly whistled into the wind. Suddenly a dark cloud formed overhead, and with a mighty roar, a large creature dropped from the sky and landed with a thump on the ground before them. As Cerros stared at the giant pantherlike creature, its wings outstretched, he quickly drew his sword from its sheath.

“This is Idrian,” Atol said.

Suddenly a dull gray figure exploded from the ground next to Cerros, grabbed his sword in its jaws, and disappeared beneath the soil.

Cerros whirled around, searching for the thief, until Atol said,

“And that was Olon.”

When Atol tapped his foot on the hard earth, a creature shaped like a dolphin with legs crawled out of the ground, the sword of Cerros in its grip.

“Here is your weapon returned, sir,” Atol said, handing the sword over to Cerros.

Alidus turned his eyes toward Brother Egil.

“Why have you called us here?” he asked the old monk.

“I will explain in due time. Our last two guests have yet to arrive,” Brother Egil replied.

“Our last two guests?” Alidus asked.

With a twinkle in his eyes, the old monk smiled, “Yes. The soldier and the necromancer.”

Published in: on December 16, 2015 at 7:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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