Dragon Fire: Episode 71

Dark clouds slowly uncurled across the sky, transforming the heavens into a thick blackness, as Razham and Degan made their way towards the ruins of Ethion. Every mile brought them closer to the immortal hunter Vanamir and his mindless followers. An icy blast roared across their path scattering the brown dead leaves as a flock of wild geese passed overhead, their chorus of honks filling the air.

“They flee from the coming evil,” Razham said.

“Yet death is but a passageway from this land to another,” Degan replied.

“In your time, you have seen many wonders, have you not?” Razham asked.

“In my time?” Degan responded in surprise. “It is my understanding that you have walked this earth far longer than I.”

“How do you know this?” Razham asked. “Your powers?”

“A mere effect of my powers. I am able to sense someone’s death, even the hour, as well as how long they have lived,” Degan explained. “But for you, my friend, I see neither beginning nor end.”

“This is a gift to my people. The gods that preserve our land have blessed us with long life. In turn, we are to keep the land and care for its plants and creatures,” Razham explained.

“Will death forever pass you?” Degan asked.

“Oh no,” Razham corrected. “I have seen many of my brethren fall to blade and beast.”

“I pray that this night you will be preserved from death,” Degan said.

When they reached the crest of a hill, Razham remarked,

“We do not travel alone.”

Degan turned in the saddle to look toward the road behind.

“Are we being followed?” he asked with concern.

“I speak of the one who hides in your satchel,” Razham explained.

When Degan looked down at Gonorap, the creature whispered,

“Gonorap is not here. You do not see him.”

“You have nothing to fear, little one,” Razham promised. “In my country, there are others like you, plentiful as the fruit of the trees. Many of your kind work to harvest the crop, leaving the fruit in the highest branches as their reward.”

“Gonorap has brothers?” Gonorap asked.

“There are many in the land of my birth,” Razham said.

“Gonorap has always been alone,” the little creature sighed.

“Perhaps one day we may travel to my country. It has been far too long since my weary eyes beheld the hills of home,” Razham remarked.

Just over the next rise, they saw the burned gates of Ethion in the distance.

“What shall be our plan of battle?” Degan asked. “I have but one fighting skill and have been forbidden to use it against the hunter.”

“You must build a defense to hold back his followers while I attack the hunter. The gods granted me one blessing when I left my home. If I must, I will use it to bind Vanamir’s soul to the earth so that he cannot rise again,” Razham responded.

“You can do this?” Degan asked in surprise.

“Yes, but it will deplete my power, the power that sustains my life. If I must sacrifice myself, I am ready,” Razham declared.

“No, my friend,” Degan objected. “You must not make this sacrifice.”

“Calm yourself. I speak only of surrendering my immortality. Once I return to my homeland, it will be restored but I must remain there. Every member of my tribe is given six blessings of life and health. Since the day I left my country, I have used five,” Razham explained.

“So you will live as a prisoner in your homeland?” Degan asked.

“A prisoner in the land that gave me life along with those I call brother and sister. If I must make such an offering to overcome this evil, I can do no less,” Razham resolved. “How can I refuse if to do so leaves us with no world in which to live?”

“Die a hero, not live as a coward,” Degan remarked.

Suddenly the ground began to shake. Before Degan could respond, a great troll broke through the trees. He plodded into the road, pulled back his arm, and struck Degan across the jaw.

Degan flew off his horse, throwing Gonorap from the satchel. Quickly Razham raised his staff in defense as the troll turned toward him.

He closed his eyes and blurred out of sight, leaving the surprised troll to look around him  in confusion.

“Who are you?” Razham asked, quickly moving from one spot to another so as not to give away his position.

“Why you hide?” the troll asked.

“Answer my question, and I shall answer yours,” Razham responded.

“No time for questions. Master angry. I lose fire breather. He promise to bring back brother if I stop fire breather. First I take Master’s new body to safe place. Then I help stop fire breather,” the troll said, reminding himself of what he was to do.

“You will not do this. I forbid it,” Razham ordered. “Your master is an evil man and must be stopped.”

“You lie. Master say you lie. Stop hiding. You not hurt Master’s new body, and I not hurt you,” the troll bargained.

“What if I promise to keep him safe and bring him back here?” Razham suggested. He carefully studied the troll looking for its weakness.

“No. Master tell me not trust you. You lie,” the troll said.

“Then our conversation has reached its end. You will not take him!” Razham commanded.

Suddenly the troll grew angry and began to stomp the ground, sending a cloud of dirt and dust into the air. Before Razham realized it, the dirt gave away his position.

“There you are,” the troll said, swinging out and knocking Razham to the ground.

Just before he lost consciousness, Razham helplessly watched as the troll lifted Degan into the air, threw him over his shoulder, and disappeared into the trees.

 

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Published in: on March 17, 2016 at 6:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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