Dragon Fire: Episode 81

Watching her every move, Razham followed close behind Lady Elizabeth as she seemed to float from one rooftop to the next.

“Hurry!” Gonorap pushed.

“Patience, little one,” Razham corrected.

“We must hurry. Gonorap runs out of time,” Gonorap pleaded, his voice rising.

Lady Elizabeth stopped and turned to him.

“Down there,” she pointed. “Do you see the creatures milling about in the street?”

Gonorap did not look down but instead kept his eyes on Lady Elizabeth. In the streets below, some of the burned people stood in one place as though waiting for something while others wandered about hunting.

“Yes,” Gonorap answered.

“They are looking for someone, anyone, they may turn to their beliefs or at least devour. The less noise we make, the less likely they are to find us. But the faster we move, the more difficult it is to remain quiet. Patience is what keeps us safe. Do you understand?” Lady Elizabeth asked.

Gonorap stared at her in horror and asked,

“They would eat Gonorap?”

Lady Elizabeth looked him over then said,

“No. I think not.”

Gonorap sighed with relief.

“No. You are too small to eat. They would kill you and feed you to the dogs.”

At that, Gonorap hid his face and began to quiver with fear.

“You are under my protection, little one, but she speaks the truth. We will keep our voices low and speak only when we must,” Razham said.

From rooftop to rooftop, they wound their way through the city. Long ago when the town was built, guards had used the roofs to patrol the city above the crowds. Each roof was connected to another in some way.

“Do you know where Vanamir is?” Razham whispered.

“These creatures who worship fire are under his command. Not far from here, he hides himself,” Lady Elizabeth answered. “I have never encountered an immortal before. What will happen when my arrow pierces his heart?”

“He will return,” Razham said. “He has been killed many times.”

“Then we need to find a way for his death to be final,” Lady Elizabeth declared.

“I have a plan, but I will need protection to carry it out,” Razham said.

“I will guard you as best I can,” Lady Elizabeth promised.

Just then two of the burned creatures stopped beneath them and lingered for a moment. Lady Elizabeth signaled for her companions to remain perfectly still. Once the creatures shuffled down the street, Lady Elizabeth moved forward.

She reached out her foot and stepped onto a board connecting two of the roofs. As she slowly walked across, the board began to creak, drawing the attention of the creatures below. When they turned toward the sound, Lady Elizabeth and Razham quickly lowered their bodies, drawing as close to the rooftop as they could.

After a few minutes, the creatures moved away.

“Gonorap, you must cross the board before me,” Razham instructed.

“Do not leave Gonorap,” the little creature pleaded.

“I will not abandon you, little one. The board is not strong. You must go across then wait beside Lady Elizabeth while I follow,” Razham explained.

Struggling to overcome his fear, Gonorap slowly walked across the board.

After waiting for another burned creature to pass by, Razham rose to his feet and carefully inched his way across the creaky board.

Three steps in and the board snapped, sending Razham plummeting to the ground. Instantly, Lady Elizabeth reached for her quiver to withdraw an arrow. But before she could pull it free, Razham held up his hand to stop her.

He pressed his back against a wall, closed his eyes, and began a chant like the hum of a thousand bee wings as the burned creatures moved closer.

Lady Elizabeth watched in awe as Razham suddenly disappeared. Four of the creatures bent down to examine the broken board, sniffing at it like feral dogs.

Worried they would find Razham, Lady Elizabeth freed the arrow from her quiver, nocked it and fired, sending the arrow sailing through the air in a slow arc. It struck a wall across the street, catching the attention of the creatures.

They whirled around at the sound then raced toward the wall. As they bent down to examine the arrow, Razham reappeared and quickly began to climb the wall. When he was within reach, Elizabeth stretched out her hand and helped him to the roof.

Just as they moved away from the eave, they saw a figure standing on the roof across from them. Half his form was black and shadowy while the other half was nothing more than bones encircled by a black slime that slowly crept across the frame.

“Extraordinary!” the figure said.

Lady Elizabeth at once drew an arrow but the figure stopped her.

“You cannot harm me, but you will risk giving away your position.”

“You will sound the alarm, so I risk nothing,” Lady Elizabeth disagreed.

“No. You are mistaken,” the figure corrected. “Watching you hide from them is far too enjoyable.”

“So you believe we will fail, and you wish to see it happen?” Lady Elizabeth asked.

“I will watch with delight,” the figure laughed.

Glancing at Razham, he added, “You they will tear apart.”

“And you,” looking back at Lady Elizabeth, “I will spare. Having a woman with me who is not half burned will be very pleasant.”

“I would rather die,” Lady Elizabeth spat.

“As you wish,” the figure responded, “but know that your death will not thwart my purpose.”

When the figure suddenly disappeared in a cloud of smoke, Elizabeth felt a shudder run through her.

“You must not allow him to distract you,” Razham advised.

“I suffer neither confusion nor fear. His death is certain. My arrow will find its mark,” she boasted.

“No hope. No hope for Gonorap,” Gonorap moaned. “Nightmare creatures will kill Gonorap. Burned man will kill Gonorap.”

“Take this,” Lady Elizabeth said, pulling a small knife from her boot. “It will protect you.”

Gonorap reached out for the knife and gathered it to his chest, hugging it as a child would a doll.

With great compassion, Razham gently placed his hand on Gonorap for a moment then said,

“It is time, little one, to continue our journey.”

Published in: on January 17, 2017 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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