Dragon Fire: Episode 73

While Cerros rode on horseback, Atol easily kept up on foot, stretching out his legs to their full length.

After a few miles of silence between them, Cerros looked over at Atol and asked,

“I mean no offense, but what type of creature are you? I have not seen others of your kind.”

“I do hope that one day the gods will bless me with that answer,” Atol sighed.

“You do not know?” Cerros asked surprised.

“I do not,” Atol replied. “One morning I awoke in a deep jungle with no memory of who I was or where I had come from. I was very young, just a boy, but I looked much as I do today.”

“What of—” Cerros abruptly stopped when he saw a black fishlike beast standing in the road up ahead.

“Olon,” Atol reminded him.

After a moment, Cerros nodded, “Yes. Now I remember.”

“An outcast child,” Atol continued, “I was forced to take care of myself, but when I found Idrian and Olon, I befriended them and raised them as my family.”

“You must have known something of humans for you speak more clearly than most men,” Cerros suggested.

“After I grew tired of watching man from the shadow of the trees, I fashioned a long cloak from animal pelts and taught myself to walk on my knees. I reasoned that my great height would make men uneasy. By wrapping myself in the cloak and keeping a safe distance, I was able to move freely among humans as I learned their language. The day came when I could mimic your language enough to speak. I wore gloves and a mask explaining that a brutal fire had distorted my face and hands,” Atol explained.

Cerros felt outrage at man’s cruelty but quickly reminded himself that in his youth he too had mocked those who were different. He was no better.

Thunder rumbled in the distance, and Cerros looked up at the angry sky, its black clouds churning.

“The rain comes soon.”

“Some would say the sky is a sign of ill fortune,” Atol suggested.

“I am a warrior. I have no need of foolish signs,” Cerros said.

“Perhaps not. Nevertheless, they are all around us,” Atol said. “This evil will not go peacefully, and one of us may fall before the sun goes down. Will you swear an oath?”

“What oath would you have me swear?” Cerros asked.

Atol looked up and for a moment watched Idrian lazily circling in the sky.

“If something should happen to me, swear that you will keep her safe.”

“You trust me with her?” Cerros asked.

“You are a noble warrior, Cerros. A man of honor,” Atol asserted.

Cerros felt the stone pulsating around his neck.

“You will outlive us; I am certain of that. But should the gods turn against us, I will guard her with my life,” Cerros promised.

“Thank you, my friend,” Atol said.

 

 

*          *          *

As they approached the front gates of the castle, the double guards stiffened and stood alert.

“Halt! You may not pass,” one guard barked.

“We are forbidden to enter?” Cerros asked to clarify.

“We are under orders to see you straight through where the army of Nesmoru lies in wait to kill you. For this reason, you may not pass.”

“Do you not mean King Nesmoru?” Atol asked.

“He is not my king!” the guard corrected.

The thunder grew louder as the black clouds swirled and lightning flashed. Suddenly the ground began to shake. Breaking through the tree line, a young woman and giant of a man flanked by two minotaurs stepped out onto the field.

“Who are they?” Cerros asked the soldier.

“She is a summoner. I have not seen the man in battle, so I know neither his skills nor his weakness,” Atol said.

“We shall soon discover his courage,” Cerros growled, drawing forth his swords.

“We are forbidden to help, but by some misfortune,” the guard smiled, “I may fail to strike you and wound them.”

“I pray it may not come to that,” Cerros said.

As Idrian landed in the middle of the field, Atol turned to face the guard.

“Make ready for we may need your help.”

The rumble of thunder grew louder and lightning flashed in the drenching rain.

“I am ready to die if it is my time,” Atol proclaimed.

“If that be true, take the foe with you on the journey,” Cerros said.

“I will see to it.”

 

*          *          *

 

Nyriad giggled when she saw Idrian drop from the sky and land in the open field.

“At last! The creature that killed my precious Kodaz. I shall take great pleasure in bathing in its blood.”

“Nyriad,” Edron warned.

“What?” Nyriad whined.

Edron turned to his sister and held up his hammer. Turning it over, he studied it then looked at her with a smile.

“So be it, but the others are mine.”

“Only at my death!” she squealed with delight.

“If necessary,” Edron said, a darkness in his eyes.

When their eyes met, Nyriad whispered,

“It begins!”

With a roar, Edron raised his hammer and charged onto the field.

“Bring them to me,” she added as the minotaurs followed.

“This will be a most memorable day,” Nyriad whispered as a sparkle of energy ran down her bare back and the trees behind her writhed.

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Published in: on May 17, 2016 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
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