Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mirror, Mirror on the wall. 18

As the clock struck the fourteenth hour, Bram sat quietly staring down at the flaming pyre in the center of the room. It had been hours since he had returned from Valturm. He thought the dragons would be here waiting for him, but so far there was no sign of them anywhere near Sorrowdown. Where could they be? With his mystic flame, he had searched Vasagi, the home of the Vampires and the forest land of Tir Na, the Werewolf haven. With great care he had sent his probe into Winterhaven, being very careful to stay clear of the council building. Though he knew Insa wouldn't be, there were others that he knew would detect his presence. Others of both the dark and the light persuasion.
From Winterhaven, Bram moved on to Aspara Bough, the land of the Fairies and Elves. The first village he spotted was busy with life. Both male and female fairies buzzed around going from place to place. The air was full of the sound of bells and chimes. Bram cringed at the sound of the Fairies hated music language. It always set his nerves on the edge. From high above, Bram slowly sent his probe down into the glade of the Fae. He kept a careful lookout to be sure he hadn't been detected. Moving slowly with care he went from flower to flower listening intently for any news. First, he heard of the Gremlin invasion to the Blueberry patch. A young fairy dressed in green and yellow with a daisy headdress said it was touch and go for a while, but when the red and black armored warriors arrived to back up our forces, the dark little beasties had no choice but to run. The daisy said right after that, Queen Nula arrived and set about to heal the wounded. She thanked the Red and Black warriors and promised her aid whenever they needed our help. The little brown oak fairy seemed pleased to hear that. It mumbled something Bram didn't understand, then nodded and was on its way. Bram started on heading toward a village by a small pond hoping for more news. In his head, the voices were arguing over what he should do. Most of the voice said he should just give up. They said what little power he had would never be enough to defeat the Fairy Queen. But Bram cared nothing about the fairies unless they got in his way. Then they would all see his anger.
Satisfied that the dragons hadn't been there, Bram pulled his probe back to Sorrowdown. On his throne, he opened his eyes and stepped down and walked to the huge mirror that had been set in the audience chamber of the Sorrowdown empire. This was the biggest mirror in all of the empire. Midoa had it made special just for his throne room. The glazer that made his mirror was a master sorcerer and he linked the mirror with two of his enemies. Their souls to this day were still trapped in the speculum, looking for a way out.
As Bram stood in front of the mirror, he watched as one of the spirits rammed and beat at the glass trying to escape. Bram just smiled as he relished the pain in the spirit's eyes. He knew it wanted its freedom. Maybe one day he would free them. But they would have to earn their freedom. Right now what he needed was information. If they could supply him with the right answers, he might think about granting their wish.

"Mirror mirror on the wall.
I call those who are trapped to tell me all.
Information is what I need.
From those who wish to beg or plead.

As Bram stared into the looking glass, it started to ripple and blur. The mirror grew hazy as two faces appeared. One was old with a long black beard and a scar above his right eye. The other was younger with a very pale look on his face. Bram could feel the fear pouring from him like heat from a torch. The younger spirit started to wail and cry as he was called forth. With a snap of his finger, Bram silenced the morose phantom and sent him back into the mirror. The other one stared out at Bram looking as if it were annoyed with his intrusion.
[So you are the new master of Sorrowdown.] He said turning his nose up. [Well don't expect me to bow down to you, it's not going to happen. I didn't bow to that fool Midoa, I won't bow to you.]
"You will bow if that's what I want," Bram said as he twitched and snarled at the specter. "If you ever want your freedom, you will do my bidding."
[I've been here in the mirror a long time.] He said with a dismissive look. [I've heard many promises over the years. Win or lose, you will be the same as all the rest. So why should I bother helping you?]
"Who are you?" Bram asked.
"You'd like me to tell you my name wouldn't you?" The spirit sneered. "Then you would have power over me. You will have to do better than that,"
Bram thought for a minute. He was right. This mage has been in the mirror for years. Maybe over a thousand years. There was not torture Bram could use that would force him to follow his commands.
No lie would convince him either. The was only one way, only one thing that the spirit wanted that could make him obey. Bram would have to free him from his mirror prison and then trust him not to run. As Bran stared into the mirror deep in thought, the spirit moved closer staring back at him. From the table that sat right next to the mirror, Bram pulled a dagger with an 8-inch blade. He took a step forward to stand right in front of the mirror and held out his arm. After pulling back his sleeve Bram put the blade to his pale wrist.
"I swear to you on this, the tenth day of Sular. I Bramble Tiberius Thorn will free your soul from its eternal prison in the mirror on the completion of the tasks that I set for you. I pledge this with my blood and my soul. Do you accept?"
[Yes.] The spirit smiled with a devious grin. [I accept your offer. Now what is it you want me to do?]
"First. what  do I call you?"
[You may call me Drekkar." The spirit bowed to him. [Drekkar Manzati.]
Bram smiled, for he knew that was not his real name. It was only a moniker he was using for the time being, but he would obey his orders and that was the what he wanted.Turning away from the mirror, Bram stepped back then faced Drekkar.
"You are free." He said. "You can come out of the mirror now."
Drekkar stepped closer to the mirror and raised his hand to touch its glassy surface. Usually, the intense pain would radiate out causing Drekkar to fall back screaming. But this time there was no pain. He felt a slight resistance, like stepping out from water into the air. But no pain. Smiling, he pushed on through to stand on the other side free at last. Seeing Drekker step out of the mirror, the other spirit tripped there made a mad rush to get out. Unfortunately, the spell that Bram had used was only for Drekkar. When the young spirit crashed into the mirror, the spell that had been keeping them there snapped back on and tore through his body sending wave after wave of pain into him. He fell back away from the mirror screaming as Bram pulled the curtain down to cover it.
As Bram turned back to Drekkar, the voices in his head were screaming out at him, taunting him and scolding him what he had done.
Drekker stared. At that moment he knew Bram was another madman that was in control of him. He smiled thinking this might not be as he thought. All he had to do was to tell him what he wanted to hear and Drekkar would get his freedom finally.
"I thank you for my freedom as limited as it is." He bowed. "I'm grateful to be out of the mirror."
"Limited is right." Bram as he sat down behind the emperor's desk. "I will give you a chance to earn your freedom. Follow my orders and do everything that I ask and I will give you your freedom and much more."
"How do I know I can trust you?" Drekkar asked.
"You can't." Bram as he smiled up at the wizard. "I'm very unpredictable. Hot-headed and impulsive. At least that's what I've been told."
"You're just misunderstood." Drekkar with a sly smile. "They just don't understand your point of view. You're right and everybody else is wrong and you're going to show them all the great mistake they're making by taking over all of Keanna. Then they'll all see."
"Don't patronize me!" Bram slammed his fist down on the desk. "I know what I'm doing and it's not insane. I'll show them all. I'll make them all see what I can do!"
"Yes, you will. What is it you want from me? Why I'm I here?"
"I what you to find the rest of my rings." Bram held up his hand to show him the three rings on his hand. One was gold with a ruby fitted in the center. Another was silver with an emerald. The last ring was either brass or bronze with a large topaz crafted into its center. Drekkar leaned closing to examine them. He could feel the power radiating out from them.
"Interesting." He said, "Very powerful. With these, you just might able to even beat the Dragons. I'm guessing that is what you have planned,"
"Not just the Dragons." Bram sat back in his chair. "I have much higher aspirations."
"I see." Drekkar stroked the hair on his chin. "I will do what you ask. My only request is that when you do face your final battle, I want to be there to see your enemies defeat. Do you agree?"
"Fine," Bram said in a dismissive tone. "Just find my rings and get them back to me."

It was dark by the time Caius arrived at the gates of Sorrowdown. Most of the fires had burned out and the city looked deserted. Caius climbed down from his horse and pulled his sword from its scabbard. The rider had said there was a slave revolt that tore the city apart, but Caius had a feeling there was more to it than that, There was somebody here. He could feel the eyes watching him from behind the dark ruins. With his sword drawn and ready, Caius slowly made his way into the city. He kept a close watch as he stopped at the gatehouse and took one of the unlit torches. From his bag, he took a fire kit and struck the stone to the flint. In two strikes the torch caught fire and Cauis was ready to go see what still lives in Sorrowdown. He walked down the main avenue keeping a close watch on the three store buildings that lined the street. Every now and then he saw a flicker of movement in the window. He wasn't sure if it was man or beast up there, but he did know that it was dangerous. From the city gates, Caius moved in through the ghettos that surrounded the outer areas of Sorrowdown. These were three or four story buildings that house the lower class citizen and the workers of the city. Caius moved quickly through there avoiding all the blocked lanes and climbing over any downed and ruined buildings. The next part of Sorrowdown was the marketplace. Once this was a flourishing metropolis with vast amounts of commerce. You could find almost anything you needed from the slave market to the stalls that sold the spring harvest and livestock. There were numerous blacksmiths, cartsmiths, builders, carpenters, silversmiths, tinker, tailors, and jewelers. But now all the stalls were empty with whatever wares that had been there, gone or smashed into the dirty floor of the stall. It was quiet as Caius looked around. There were no barkers calling out their wares, no scruffy kids there pickpocketing or stealing from the stall. There was nothing here now except rats, stray dogs. Sorrowdown was a dead empire. But most of the buildings were still standing, the fires hadn't totally destroyed the city. If Caius could lay claim to what was left of the empire, then he could be Sorrowdown's new emperor.
From the marketplace, Caius moved on into the housing part of the city. He walked down the lane passing house after house. He passed the old Herkalus estate and his parent old home. Looking at the front gardens of the manor, he remembered sparring with his friends in the back courtyard. Back then, he and his friends were real bullies to some of the younger children. They harassing them at school, in the bathhouse, and in the market. Nowhere in Sorrowdown was safe, there were even times when they could bully at their own homes. But that seemed like a long time ago, though it was only last month.
From the housing estates, Caius moved on until he came to the gates of the governor's manor. The gates hung open swinging in the breeze. Caius remembered that once he swore this would one day be his home. He had dreams of the day when he would come and force Pius and his entire house out and into the stadium to face the gladiators and whatever wild beast they had that season. Then the crowds would cheer as they watched the old fool Pius get torn to shreds while he cried for mercy. But there would be none. Not for him or anyone from his house.
As he made his way through the gates, Caius stopped inching his sword out as he searched the court. His ears were sharp for the sound of warriors moving through the burned-out remnants of his palace. His eyes were searching all around for traps or an ambush. Once he was convinced there was nothing there, Caius continued on. From the palace, Caius headed on and into the dilapidated building where Sorrowdown's Senators use to argue over the new law. The building was three stories tall and made of marble that had been shipped down the river by Stone Elves from the quarries of Thewis. As Caius stepped into the auditorium. he felt the remnants of past arguments being screamed across the floor by long-dead Senators, his father included. Sorrowdown had better days. It was Caius's plan to bring that all back some day with himself as the new Emperor.
"I don't think so!" Echoed all through the auditorium as Bram appeared from a great flash of smoke and lightning.
With his hand on the hilt of his sword, Caius stepped up to challenge the Warlock.
"Who are you?" He said with a demanding voice.
"Don't you recognize me?" Bram said as he stepped closer to Caius. "I am Sorrowdown's emperor. You should be on your knees when you address me."
Caius looked at the wild looking Warlock. His hair was frizzled and he had a twitch in his dark eyes. His robe looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years. No court Warlock would ever present himself looking so dirty and shabby. But there was also a spark of power that blazed in his eyes. Caius thought he'd better be careful dealing with this one.
Kneeling, Caius took his hand from his weapon, but his eyes never left the Warlock.
"My apologies great one, How can I serve you?"
"Go kill yourself you sniveling suck up!" Bram shouted. "Shut up!"
Caius stared at the Warlock. He didn't know what to make of his last statement. Is he crazy, or is it some plot to throw me off? Either way, Caius couldn't trust him, but he had better follow his instructions.
"My Empress," Bram said conjuring a vision in the air of his wife. "She is missing. I want you to find her and bring her to me."
"Do you know where I can find her?" Caius stared at the vision of beauty and wondered how he had managed to get her to marry him.
"Look in the Underworld!" Bram laughed almost choking on his own spit. "

to be continued.


Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gromor the Grim. 17

The trip from Mystwinter to Valturm took only a few hours by air. Below, Niro and Hoddie followed on horse back with Yarden running at their side. They traveled by night keeping themselves hidden to sleep during the day. They passed many Dwarven villages as they traveled and found a few of them in ruins. Bly flew into the first village with Rowyn to investigate. The village was covered in mud. The houses and buildings were all splattered with dirt and the streets were a like a river of mud and debris. This was obviously the work of one of Brams elementals. The second was much bigger, more like a small town with a seaport and a very large market and business district. As Niro, Hoddie and Yarden rode in they looked around and saw the dead bodies of hundreds of cattle and Dwarves spread all through the streets. Hoddie jumped down from Akhrua's back and slipped his hand into his cloak and grabbed one of his daggers. The town looked as if a hurricane had dropped down on it. Every tree had been ripped out from the ground and tossed through the air. Most of the houses had been completely demolished and the homes that still stood were all severely damaged.
"I think we're to late." Hoddie said as he kicked an old wagon wheel onto the side of the road. "He's already been through here."
"We should look for any survivors." Niro suggested. "There could be people here trapped in the debris."
"I hope not." Yarden said. He turned his nose away from the awful smell of rotting flesh. "If there's anyone buried in here, not even my sensitive nose would be able to find them."
"We should look anyway." Niro said. "Just to be safe."
For hours they picked through the debris. They went through the remnants of each and every house, shop and building. Niro lifted massive walls and dug through great mounds of debris until they were all exhausted. It wasn't until the last house that they heard something to give them hope.
Yarden had been picking through what was left of one of the many shops when he heard a soft moan. His ears perked up and he stopped for a second to listen. It wasn't very loud, as a matter of fact he actually thought it was one of the many crows that had been picking at the dead until he  heard a second cry.
"There's something here!" He shouted to the others. Niro and Hoddie hurried over to see what he had found.
"What is it?" Hoddie asked.
"I heard something over there." The Yetisan pointed to a small mound of broken wall. He had started digging through it when he saw a piece of yellow material sticking out of the wall.
"Help me lift this."
Niro came in and reached down and grabbed the side of the wall and heaved it up and flipped it off to the side. Beneath the wall they found a Dwarven man lying there unconscious. His clothing was all covered with blood and they could see both his legs were broken.
"Don't touch him!" Niro said as he held Hoddie back. "He needs a healer, call Rowyn and the others."
A few minutes later, Rowyn and Bly came flying in to land right beside them. As soon as she saw the dwarf, Rowyn knelt down at his side and held her hands over him. A golden glow spread out from her into the dwarf filling his body with her healing power. The dwarfs breathing became a little more sturdy as his eyes started to flicker.
"He has excessive damage to his heart and lungs." She said sadly. "All his ribs are broken and his legs. I have started his body to heal. Now all he needs is someplace safe where he can rest."
"Can you wake him?" Bly asked. "He might be able to tell us what happened here."
"I can try." Rowyn moved her hand up to his head. In a few seconds he woke up and his eyes opened and he made a soft moan.
"Aiya Sir." Bly said softly. "Don't try to move. Your body's been crushed and there is a great deal of damage. We are trying to heal you but the damage is to quite severe. You will heal in time, but now you need to rest."
"Mmmmmmm!!" He moaned with a weak smile. "I thank you for your help."
"My name is Bly." She told him. "These are my friends. Can you tell me your name and what happened here?"
"Aye lass." He coughed. "My name is Gromor Kilgore. I am the second son of Gozurim Kilgore and the master of Kilgore mountain the third richest silver mine in all of Hernborim. I have the honor to yield the mighty Scourgebane forged over a thousand years ago in the heart of Kilgore mountain. I have always been a proud and strong warrior able to claim many victories for my clan, but on this day it was my heart that was my downfall."
"Tell us what happened Gromor." Niro took Hoddie's water skin and put it to Gromor's mouth and gave him a sip of Goblin wine. Gromor winced at the powerful taste.
"Thank you Lad. That was a powerful brew made for a dwarf. Now where was I? Oh yes. It had been a busy day in Valturm. I came in with five of my warriors intending to challenge Leda Redhelm, the mistress of Valturm for her hand in marriage. This was my sixth challenge. Three I lost, two I fought her until the judges declared a tie to our battle. In a tie, Mistress Leda as the challenged gets to make her own choice whether to accept my proposal or to refuse me.
As we arrived at the city gate, we were greeted by Thorid Ironbrand, chief Gatemaster of Redhelm keep.
"Hail Gromor Kilgore." Thorid called from his post at the top of the gate wall. "We are honored to have you back at Redhelm Keep. To what do we own the honor of your visit?"
"I come again with a new petition for the hand of your mistress Leda." Gromor called back. "This time I have added mithral to my armor. I won't be so easy to defeat this time."
"You can make your challenge if that is your wish Gromor." Thorid said as he pulled the switch to open the gate. "But me thinks the result will always be the same. She will win and you will lose. Mistess Leda's heart will always belong to her dead mate Egon. No one else with ever share her bed. You should accept this and find another who is more interested in your petition."
Gromor grumbled and turned his horse on away from Thorid and his unwanted advise. He had been watching Leda all his life, from back when they had both been young and training in Valturn's city guards straight up to the day she and Egon took the mating ritual, That was one of the worst days of his life. That day he stood in the crowd of her mating ceremony and watched as the woman he loved promised her life to another. It was a dark day for him indeed. And worst of all, being from Valturn's closest neighbor, Gromor had to swear his friendship to this revel for his love. Everyday he had to watch as they rode out and hunted together. They laughed and practiced battle strategies looking so happy together. Gromor had even fought at Egon's side in many encounters with the Dark Elves and the attacking Goblins on Valturns eastern border. If only his hammer could make one accidental slip.
On the day Egon died, Gromor had been many miles away in Lands End negotiating with the diggers for new terms in their contract. He had wrapped up all his business and was on the road back home when a rider intercepted him with the news about the Troll attack on Valturn. The rider said that three Goblin troops had invaded the northern border of Hernborim near the county of Grostein, west of Valturn. Leda and Egon Redhelm along with troops from both Valturn and Grostein had rode out to intercept the Goblins before they could make it to Grostein and the first of Hernborims many iron and copper mines located in the northern mountains. The report said that Leda caught the Goblins off guard as they were attacking Grostein. She had surrounded the city and slipped in during the night and wiped out two troops of Goblins.
Egon on the other hand didn't have the same luck as his mate. As Egon and his troops marched north, a troop of Gobins caught him as he tried to sneak into the city of Rokonar to try and defend the city's iron mines. The fighting was fierce, Egon armed with his battle hammer and dagger took down 16 Goblins before the unfortunate blow that broke his helmet and crushed his skull. His first lieutenant was able to save the mines and rescue his body and get it back to Valturn so Leda could give her mate a proper Dwarven funereal.
Now that Egon was dead, Gromor saw this as his chance to make his way back into the Battle mistress's life. After waiting a proper amount of time for grieving, Gromor packed his warriors and made his way to Valturn.
From Valturns city gate, Gromor guided his men through the lust forest pass the lumber yards full of tall red and white pines. The sweet smell of fresh tree sap and flowers filled the cool morning breeze.
Rabbits and other small wild life scampered and run away as they made their way along the long twisted road. As they traveled, Gromor went over his petition over and over in his head. He was convinced that this time, Leda would hear that what he was saying was coming from his heart. He would pledge to her half a years worth of silver from his mine. Twenty horses from his prize stable and his heart forever more. Surely this time she would give in and accept his proposal.
As Gromor and his warriors rode in through Valturn, the skies grew grey and the wind started to blow more fiercely. Thunder cracked far off in the distance scaring the horses. Gromor pulled back on  the reins and tried to sooth his small mount and keep it under control. Beside him, Onar Oakbranch grabbed his arm and pointed out over the horizon.
"Gromor." He said. "Look!! Something attacks that village!
Gromor looked out and sure enough, something was flying around over the village ahead of them sending lightning bolts down into the village.
"By Hekkeal's beard!!" His hand went quickly to the hammer at his side. "That be Leda's village!"
"Sure as we stand here it is!" Onar said. "But what is that in the sky attacking? A Banshee?"
"I know not." Gromor said. "But this be my chance. If we can kill it, Leda will be in debt to me. She will have no choice but to accept my petition. Gather your weapons, we're riding in!"
With Scourgebane set and ready, Gromor slapped his pony into a charge and set his warriors on into the ride for Leda Redhelm's heart.

High in the afternoon sky, right over the village that housed the manor house of Leda Redhelm, huge gray clouds boiled and rumbled. From deep inside, an hysterical laugh could be heard between thunder and lightning strikes. On the ground, Dwarves run for the cover of the great trees in the forest while warriors set about loading and firing bank after bank of arrows and missles into the clouds at the attacking magi in the sky. Diamond tipped arrows were launched at Bram as he dropped down to blast again and again at the village. Smoke filled the sky and fires blazed out from each burning building as the Dwarves fought trying to save their homes from destruction. Any Dwarf with water magic had been ordered in to try and stop the fires but it was to late. Every time Bram saw a magi directing his water spells, he would launch a new set of strikes down at the poor unfortunate little wizard. The village lawns were littered with the bodies of the dead, both magi and warriors.
With his ring back on his finger and Leda dead, revenge was all that was on his mind. Bram would make them all pay for what had been done to him. Calling on the powers of the ring of Air, Bram sent strike after strike down on a group of Dwarves set high on the burning manor house firing iron bolts at him. Between lightning strikes, Bram ducked and dodged the iron bolts that were coming with uncanny precision. Closer and closer the iron arrows came to him making him fly higher or drop lower out of their range. He wasn't sure which, but one of those Dwarves was magically guiding their shots and protecting them at the huge mounted crossbow. If he didn't figure out which one it was, they would soon find their mark and he would be hit and that would end his revenge.
[Give up now.] Screamed a voice in his head. [You don't deserve revenge. Your the threat these people are running from. Just let it go and let Nestor take you back down to your punishment.]
"Never!!" Bram screamed. "I will never give in! I will destroy them all and make Tagittia mine!!
Switching his vision over to second sight, Bram looked down on his attackers. One Dwarf standing just to the side handing each bolt over to the Dwarves manning the crossbow had a bright blue glow about him. That Dwarf had to be the one guiding the attack. Swerving to avoid two arrows, Bram lifted himself high up in the sky then called on the power of his energy ring. He set himself into a dive then formed a shield of power in front of him. Arrows came in and pinged off to the side as he dived down. Below he could see the Dwarves setting two huge bolts in to the crossbows and taking aim at him. At that moment, Bram let loose with the power of the Energy ring. The wizard of the group fell screaming to the rooftop and grabbed his head. In seconds the wizard started twitching and convulsing as the energy inside him started building to a critical point. As Bram called on his lightning for a final strike at the warriors, the wizard exploded into a thousand pieces which rained down all over the roof. With his protection gone, the Dwarves tried for two last shots at Bram, but it was to late. Lightning struck down at them, frying them all in place.
With  final blast of hysterical laughter, Bram turned back up into the afternoon sky and headed out toward the white pine forest. Below him, Gromor and his warriors charged in with their weapons out and ready for battle. As the mad magi sailed over the Dwarves, Gromor ordered his warriors to attack. Onar leaped from his horse and grabbed his crossbow and bolts and took careful aim. As Bram flew overhead, Onar let fly with his first iron bolt. The bolt sailed straight up into the sky and hit Bram burying itself deep in his right shoulder.
"Arrrggh!!!" Bram screamed. With the bolt buried deep in his shoulder, Bram twist and turned in the air and fell frailing into the pine forest floor.eager and ready to
Grabbing Scrougebane, Gromor called for his warriors.
"Your aim as always is true." He smacked Onar on his back. "Now on to victory!"
Climbing back into their saddles, they kicked the horses into a charge down into the pine forest. Gromor eager and ready to prove himself and claim victory and the hand of Leda Redhelm.
Stunned and in pain. Bram pushed himself up into a sitting position. His shoulder ached as be reached up to touch the iron bolt in his upper chest. But there was no time for pain right now. That bolt had come from somewhere out beyond the pines. That meant the enemy was close, just out through the trees and heading in to destroy him. Bram stood up, then reached up and grabbed the bolt. He gritted his teeth and pulled it out.
"ARRRRGH!!!" He screamed out. He looked down at the bloody bolt in his hand, then let it drop to the ground. As he looked up, Gromor and his warriors were charging down on him.
"Come little warrior!" He growled as he raised his hand and summoned the power of his energy ring. "I have something for you!"
Pulse bolts of energy blasted out from his hand as he cackled his hysterical laugh.One, two, three bolts flew out at the incoming warriors. Gromor quickly urged his steed right, then left to avoid the oncoming danger. The power bolts missed him by a hair but the same couldn't be said about the warriors behind him. One blast flew off and hit a pine tree off to the left, but the other two struck their Dwarf target knocking them back off their horses. Two of Gromor's warriors were down, but that wouldn't stop him. He took a deep breath and roared out a challenge as he jumped off his horse to confront his enemy. Bram threw up his hands and formed a shield just in time to keep from being brained by Scrougebane. As Gromor's hammer rebounded off the shield, Gromor spinned around slamming his weapon down again and again trying to break through the Warlocks power shield. Each blow caused intense pain to radiate through Bram's head. He fell back to his knees overwhelmed by the pain as the voices in his head screamed for him to surrender. But Bram would never surrender. Not as long as there was still life in his body.
As Onar and Gromor's last warrior reached the battle, Bram jumped to his feet. He reached out with a paralyzing spell and grabbed the three warriors and held them in A tight grip.
"How dare you attack me!!" He screamed at them as he held suspended high in front of him. "Don't you know who I am?"
I know who you are." Gromor shouted as he struggled to free himself. "Just another little wizard who thinks he has the power to rule Taggitia. But your wrong. It takes more then power to rule here. It takes courage, strength and compassion. Three things you know nothing about. You may defeat me and the rest of the Dwarven nation, but there are others you will have to face."
"You mean the Dragons? Bram laughed at the thought. "Your dragons don't scare me. I have faced them before, but this time I will be ready for them and all their tricks."
"Have a care Wizard." Gromor moaned. He was in desperate pain. His ribs were cracked and his arm was shattered. Right now all that was in his mind was Leda. He had to find a away to get back and warn her for this mad man. He could be at her door in just a few hours.
"It's to late little Gromar." Bram snickered. "I know what you are thinking and I have already seen the battle maiden Leda Redhelm. What remains of her is there by the old camp fire. I took back the ring she stole from me, but I will let you live to tell the dragons that I am coming for them and their families. I plan to kill them all and anyone that stands with them. Taggitia will be mine, then the rest of Keanna will fall. No go and deliver my message."
With that said, Bram raised him high over the trees, and threw him into the forest.
"And that was the last I saw of Bram Thorn." Gromor said. "When I woke up I was here lying among these flower all bloody and broken. I figured the wolves would soon be here to put an end my misery, but instead, you found me."
"That's quite a story." Ranjer said. "Do you know how much time has passed since Bram put you here?"
"Yes." Gomor nodded. He looked up at sky, then turned back to Ranjer, Bly, Quynn and Niro. "We rode into Valturm at high noon yesterday.It had to at least an hour later that we engaged the Warlock."
That means Bram has at least a days distance ahead of us." Niro told them. "We can still catch him if we hurry."
"No." Quynn said shaking his head. "Your thinking like a warrior. Bram has magic. He doesn't need a horse to travel. He can port anywhere he wants in a blink."
"Then how are we to track him?" Niro asked.
"We don't." Ranjer said. "We find the rings. Bram will find us when he's ready."
"Then where are we going next?"Bly asked.
"First we have to take Gromor back to the village. Then we move on after the next ring. Rowyn and Myor will show us the way."
After they finished talking, Niro carefully lifted Gromor and carried him back to the horses. They all knew there was no way Gromor could ride horse back in his condition. So Niro and Hoddie fashioned a sturdy sling for him to lay in. With a quick spell from Quynn, the sling was made to ride on air waves so there would be no bouncing around. In an hour they had Gromor safely back at home and in the hands of his servants. Gromor had their provisions re stocked and the said their good byes and were off on the search for the next ring.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Trouble at Home. 16

Back in New Keanna, Emrel hurried through the manor carrying clean sheets and a vial of  Dragon flower serum to Seven and Toric's suite. The time for the birth of her child was getting near and she wanted to be prepared for it. Toric, like most men was absolutely useless right now. He spent most of his time pacing and worrying about impossible complications that Macan had already assured him wouldn't happen. Seven had sent him to visit his mother back at the Collector's compound just to keep him busy and out of their way.
With the wives of Blaze and Graym, Tara and Rose and Athene there to help with the baby's birth, Emrel felt they could handle any problems that might arise magical or medical. And she was almost right in her thinking. These four could handled anything they would need with the birth of the baby, but there were other problem that might just be over their heads.
It was a beautiful day and Seven was laying in bed in her suite with her legs up and ready to give birth. Her contractions were coming at about five minutes apart, and Athene and Tara told her the baby would be there soon. Rose was there sitting at the side to take over if there were any medical complications the others couldn't handle. Emrel was there to hold her hand and to try and keep her calm. She had brought in their mothers Dragon flower potion to ease the pain of the contractions. Dasyra Eventide had always sworn that the potion was the one thing that helped her in the birth of all her nine children. The Dragon flower potion had been an old family secret of the Eventide clan. It was used for pain relief and for healing after the birth. Dragon flowers were a very rare flower that only grew in two places. In the enchanted groves of Eventide and in the magical hollow of Aspara Baugh, in Queen Nuala's garden.
Seven had been drinking Dragon flower tea for an hour and her contraction pains had dulled down to something that she could handle.
"The time is near." She said as sweat ran down her face. "The baby will be here soon."
"Yes." Athene smiled as she placed a hand on Seven's belly. "He will be a handsome boy just like his father with strong elven traits."
"And what about dragon?" Seven asked as a surge of pain hit her. "Will he be a dragon?"
"Elaric will be a very strong dragon." She said. "He will do things that make us all proud."
"Elaric?" Emrel smiled.  "That was our grandfathers name!"
"Yes." Seven said. "That's the name that Toric picked out."
Seven smiled as Emrel wiped the sweat from her brow. Now the only question was what kind of dragon, but that didn't really matter as long he is healthy.
As Athene moved her hand around Seven's stomach, the smile on her face suddenly changed. Seven didn't see it, but Emrel did.
"What is it?" she asked. "Is there a problem? Should I get Macan back in here?
"No." Athene said shaking her head. "But he missed something."
"What? Is the baby alright?"
"Yes." Athene looked up at Seven. "They're fine."
Seven laid back relieved. Then what Athene had just said hit her.
"They?" Seven pushed herself up. "You said they're fine. What are you saying?"
"I have a surprise for you Seven."  Athene smiled and looked into here eyes. "Elaric is not alone. He has two brother with him."
"What?" Seven squeezed Emrel's hand hard. "Brothers?"
"Why not? Your a twin and twins always have multiples at born. You're having triplets. Three sons and they will be here soon."
Seven wanted to scream with joy and tell Toric the good new, but another contraction hit her sending ripples of soft pain through her body. Emrel reached into Seven's mind to help her with the pain. She soothed her mind and sent loving relief to her sister in her time of need. The pain ebbed to a point where Seven could relax a bit. She was almost ready to give birth to Elaric, the first of her three children.

Down in the bay, a small fishing boat from Winterhaven sat in the cool blue water with their nets cast out fishing for red chested Sunfish, a delicacy in Winterhaven and the surrounding area. Their hold was almost full, it had been a good day. The captain of the ship, Braga Kolias was at the wheel calling out orders to the three men that manned the fishing nets. Tilkin Rinlar had had a hard day hauling in nets and shoveling fish into the hold. His face had been burned by the sun and his hands were raw from pulling on the nets. Tilkin wasn't usually a fishermen. He was a farmer by trade, but he had lost his land to a gambling debt. A full house beat his three of a kind and he had bet heavy. He lost everything he owned that night and put himself on the streets of Winterhaven. His cousin had found him work on the fishing boat to hold him until they could find a way to get him back on his feet. He never liked fishing, not even when he went out with his family. It always made him sick the rocking of the boat on the waves. Even the smell of fish turned his stomach and grossed him out. But this was all the work he could find and he would need money to bet with if he wanted to get his home back.
As Tilkin stood at the rail of the boat pulling up the net, he gazed out over the water. He was hoping to see one of the Mermaids that swam in the bay and played with the sailors. He could use a pretty distraction. Something young and sweet to take his mind off his troubles. As he stared out, he saw something surge in the water. It looked like a bump that was moving through the waves. It could be a Mermaid he though for a minute. Then he realized it was to big to be a Mer person. It could be a whale, they swam in the bay a lot. But a whale would be bobbing in and out of the water, not swimming straight in towards the cliffs. Tilkin dropped the net and raised his hand to shield his eyes from the sun. whatever that thing is, it was just about to the boat. They had to get off the boat before it crashed into it.
"Braga! Tilkin yelled. "Get off the boat! Something is coming at us!"
Tilkin reached out and grabbed the rail and jumped just as something crashed into the boat and it exploded into pieces. Fish and debris rained down into the water as a great surge hammered past them. Tilkin floundered in the waves trying to stay a float as the monster barreled pass. From under the sea, he saw a great tail as it sped toward the cliff. Something was heading for the Dragon city. And whatever it is, it's big.

The sun was high and it was looking like a beautiful day as Tobyn Avenda started on his way up onto
the walls of New Keanna. Today was his fifth day on watch over the gates of the city. It was a job his father Graym had gotten for him and he planned to take it very serious. Tobyn, a medium sized teen with brown hair and gray piercing eyes and his father the Shadow Angel hadn't been getting alone very well lately. His grades had been down lately in school and he had been lost in class. Confused actually, but it wasn't his fault magic history and ancient studies didn't interest him. But Graym thought as one of the founders of the city, his son should help set an example for the rest of the young and excel at everything. Tobyn tried, he tried very hard but he sometimes he just couldn't grasp what the teacher was saying. It was like the words would get all jumbled in his mind and they just didn't connect. Sometimes he thought there was something seriously wrong with him. His best friends Luca Rudd, Blaze's son and Quynn Tyr was sweeping through their classes like wildfire and so was Tobyn's sister Jocea. They tried to help, but it didn't work. He seemed to be the only one having these problems. It was embarrassing. He was the oldest of all the children in New Keanna and simple lessons seemed to elude him and he didn't know how he could fix it. He wished there was someone to talk to. Quynn was his usual anchor, but he was away with Ranjer on some strange mission. He wished there was some way he could talk with him and get his confidence back.
After seeing Tobyn's last grades, Graym had given him a stern look. He sat him down in his study for a talk.
"Can you explain this?" He asked.
"I can't understand what Master Aeson is talking about." Tobyn said. "Father, it's like he's talking a different language that I just don't understand."
"How can that be?" Graym asked him. "I've reviewed his classes and they seem simple enough to me. You're just not trying.
"I try father." Tobyn threw up his hands in frustration. "I try very hard. In the beginning I understand, but as he gets deeper into his lecture, his word jumble up in my head and I get lost. Quynn said there's a look in my eyes like I was far away, but I'm not. I'm right there but I just don't understand."
"Then maybe school isn't for you." Graym looked at him with disappointment. He had such high hopes for him. Tobyn had always seemed so bright. "You are to report to Captain Stroker for training. Maybe a little hard work marching and standing guard will clear that thick head of yours. I want you there first thing in the morning. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes father." Tobyn looked down at the floor as he turned and left his fathers office. Out side his mother waited to comfort him. But Tobyn would have none of that. He didn't want to be comforted, not after he saw that look on his fathers face. He just pushed away and ran off. Rose called after him.
"Tobyn! Wait!"
But he didn't stop. He ran for the door and was gone out of their apartment. Rose grabbed the handle to the office door and pushed it open and went in furious at her husband.
"Graym Sewell Avenda!! Do you see what you've done to your son? "
Graym stood up to calm her down and explain.
"No!" She yelled. "Not this time. You do the battles out there with the dragon's and I take care of the children, that was your promise. Now because your son is having trouble, instead of listening and trying to help, you yelled at him in disappointment. Don't you know that boy worships you! Did you know that while you were away back in Dansport, he sat at the window staring out looking for you for months!"
"But nothing!" She slammed her hands on his desk. "Has it occurred to you maybe there is something wrong and that's why he's doing so bad!!"
Graym looked at his angry wife. That thought had never occurred to him. He always thought his children to be perfect, unable to do any wrong.
"Graym." She said after calming down a bit. "Tobyn is sixteen summers old. He's becoming a man and he isn't the perfect little boy that plays with his toy dragons anymore. He has to learn responsibility and patience and he has to learn these things from you. He has to learn to be a man before he can be a warrior. Aeson and the other teachers can't teach him these things, only his father can and that's you! If there is something wrong, we'll figure that out but don't let him hide away feeling like his father doesn't love him."
"THAT'S NOT WHAT I SAID!" Graym jumped from his seat. "I never said I didn't love him!"
"But that's what he heard." She said softly. "Children read more into your words then what you might be trying to say. He heard your anger and your disappointment more then your words. Get up out of that chair and go find him. Right now, he is the most important thing in your life."
Graym stood up and walked around the desk to kiss her and tell her she was right and he was sorry, but she stopped him with a hand.
"Go find Tobyn now!"

Graym searched for hours for Tobyn. He checked with Blaze to see if he was there, but neither Tobyn or Luca was there. Tara, said the boys had been there for a few minutes, but Tobyn had seemed upset and they left. Then he checked with the rest of the manor, but they were no where to be found. Frustrated, Graym checked with Dreik and that's when he got the notice that Jandar and Rage wanted to see all the Dragon's and Shadoe's for what he called an emergency. There was trouble in a far off land and Rage wanted all hands ready to go. He thought it might be that important.
When Graym tried to explain this to Rose, she just turned away and told him to go. She would find Tobyn and do whatever she had to to deal with the problem, but she wanted him to know how disappointed she was with him.
"Go be a hero." She said with venom in her voice. "I will take care my children."
Graym tried to reassure her that he would fix this when he returned.
"That's IF you return." She slammed their bedroom door shut in his face leaving him standing there looking confused. Graym shook his head and grabbed Retribution, he opened the doors to the balcony and took off to meet the others for the mission.

For the next few weeks, Tobyn joined Captain Stroker in his training class for the city guard. He worked hard at sword training and learning the rules the guards needed to know and the responsibility's of standing a watch. He wanted to show his father he wasn't a complete failure. Captain Stoker worked him hard, pitting him against boys his age, then older men in the guards. He learned the discipline and the technique of one and two handed warfare, then moved up to the next level of training which was unarmed hand to hand. There, he did well. He went home each night bruised and sore, but it was worth it if he could gain his fathers respect back. Each night his mother would prepared a nice hot bath for him with a touch of foxglove and a pinch of numbweed to sooth his pain. He knew she was still mad at father for what he had said, but Tobyn couldn't shake the feeling that it was all because of him, and that made him work harder each day to learn as much as he could.
The next morning as Tobyn started on his way across the wall, he looked out and saw something strange in the bay. It looked like a water dragon, but that isn't possible. Nautica was away with father and Maxius died in the Shyr fighting for Aqualona. Could it be something else? Whatever it is, its big and heading right for the cliffs of Kolvir. That means it will be in the city in less then an hour.
Tobyn turned from the wall and ran to the gong set at the stairway. He grabbed the hammer and started banging the alarm. Captain Stroker came running out from the guard house to see what the threat could be.
"There!" Tobyn pointed out into the bay. "Something's heading in to attack!!"
"That looks like a whale." Stroker said dismissing him. "Nothing to worry about."
"Excuse me sir but that is no whale. And its not a dragon either. We're about to be attacked!!"
"Nonsense." Stroker said annoyed. "Maybe your father Graym is right. Maybe this isn't for you. You're relieved of your post. Go home and find a girl to play with."
When Tobyn heard his father's name, he lost his composure. He grabbed Stroker by the front of his tunic and pulled him to the wall.
"That is not a whale." He pointed to the mound in the water heading their way. "And if you won't do something, I will!!"
Tobyn let go of the captain and took off down the stairs. He had to get to Denner in the Manor before it was to later to warn them of the attack. Running with all his speed, Tobyn made his way through the city and to the Manor. He busted in the front door yelling for Denner and anyone else that was there.
"What is all the noise about?" Denner asked as he came out of his and Nautica's apartment. Tobyn ran up the stairs to him.
"We're under attack! Something big is coming out of the bay!!"
Denner looked to Tobyn and saw the fear in his eyes. He ran back into his apartment and grabbed his sword.
"Show me!"
Together they ran back to the wall where Denner gazed down and saw the creature rise out of the water and start its way up the cliffs.
"CAPTAIN STROKER!!" He yelled. "We're under attack! Get your men ready for battle!"
Captain Stroker gave Tobyn and mean look then called for archers to man the wall. In a few minutes, fifty archer were shooting down at the climbing beast. Arrows hit it and sank deep into its flesh, but it kept on climbing.
"Tobyn." Denner said. "We need more help. I need you to go and see if Shayn and Ono are back from Tir Na. Get them here fast."
"Yes sir!" Tobyn said. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to try and stop it from getting into the city. You should go! Hurry!!"
As Tobyn watched, Denner shifted forms and became a huge ferocious Griffen. He spread his wings and launched himself out off the wall.
Tobyn took off down from the wall and head back to the Manor to look for the two princes. He prayer they were back or they all might be in big trouble. In his mind, he was screaming out for Quynn to come home and help them.

At had been a busy morning as Quynn, Ranjer and the others stopped to rest. They had been traveling south all night and they were just about to enter the Dwarven lands. Bly, Niro and Rowyn were busy setting up camp. They had decided Myor and Quynn needed time to sleep. Ranjer and Hoddie had gone out to hunt up something to eat while Quynn and Myor relaxed. Suddenly a voice screamed out in Quynn's head causing him to fall back in pain. Quynn grabbed his head and concentrated on the voice trying to see who it was calling out to him. He knew it wasn't his parents, both Jandar and Rage would find a more subtle way to contact him. It had to be someone else familiar to him. Quynn listened to the call, then he recognized Tobyn Avenda's familiar mental touch. Something dire must be going on. He had a panicked sound to his call.
[Tobyn. What is it? What's wrong?]
[Quynn?] Came his answer. [Is that you?]
[Yeah, its me. What's wrong? Are you ok?]
[No!] He sent. [New Keanna is under attack. We need help. There's no one here except Mr. Denner and he can't fight that thing alone.]
[What's attacking the city?] Quynn asked him.
[I don't know what it is.] Tobyn said. [But its huge and climbing the cliffs to the city. My mother and sister are here and Ariel is about to have her baby. You have to come back and help!]
Quynn knew there was no time for him to fly back. By the time he got there, the city could be torn to pieces. There had to be another way. Another Dragon he could call that was closer and could go to the city's aid. Tempus and Professor Insa were in the academy. They were to far away, Torch and has clan were in Slovinia, again to far away. That only left Gird in the Egg chamber. He wouldn't be any help, he's to small. Then needed something bigger. Then and idea hit him. It was risky, but it just might work.
[Tobyn.] Quynn sent. [I need you to do something. It's a bit scary, but it might save the city if you succeed.]
[What is it?]
[Do you remember the cave I showed you when we were ten? The one with all the jewels and gold in it?]
[You mean that haunted cave where Gird lives?]
[Yes.] Quynn sent. [I need you to go in there. I know it's scary, but there's something in there that might help if you can find it.]
[What?] Tobyn asked.
[You hurry and get there. I'll tell you once your in. Be quick.]
Tobyn hurried out of the Manor and made his way to the the west end of the city. As he ran, he could hear screams and roars from Denner and the creature as they battled just out beyond the wall. Tobyn hoped Denner could hold the monster until he could find whatever Quynn was sending him for.
As he approached the entrance to the cave, Tobyn took the key he had found in the Manor and put it in the locked gate and turned it. The lock clicked and the gate swung open and Tobyn went in. At the entrance there was a barrow filled with unlit torches. Tobyn grabbed one and lit it from the torch at the entrance and went in.
It was hot and humid in the cave, almost like an oven. Tobyn slowly walked in holding the torch high to keep the shadows back and away from him. He passed mounds of gold and silver coins. There were bars of platinum and bronze with huge stones of obsidian and jade scattered all through the cave entrance. Tobyn wiped the sweat from his brow and moved on. He really didn't like this cave. He had a real scare here when he was younger. Quynn had tried to show him the cave, when this huge bat winged creature had come out. Tobyn ran screaming from the cave. Quynn tried to explain that it was just the caves guardian, but Tobyn refused to come back here. Until now.
As Tobyn moved deeper into the cave, he saw the abundance of riches there. Huge diamonds and emeralds. Ruby's the size of his head and sapphires like melons. He was amazed at the riches stored there. He had no idea the city had such riches.
Suddenly something called out to him in his head. He thought for a second it was Quynn, but the voice was different then his old friends.
"My name is Tobyn Avenda. Prince Quynn sent me here to find help for the city."
"You know my father?" He asked.
"The city is being attacked and there isn't anyone here to protect it accept Mr. Denner. Right now he is fighting out there all alone. Prince Quynn sent me here to get help."
"This is my home." He said. "My fear means nothing when New Keanna is in trouble. I will go fight the monster myself if that is what it takes to save the city."
Tobyn stepped forward as a Sunstone the size of his head started to glow and shake. Tobyn picked it up and his life changed in a flash.

Out beyond the city walls, Denner dived down to attack the monstrous creature ascending the cliff towards New Keanna, It was huge, bigger then any Dragon he had ever seen. It was covered with scales but built like a man with two massively muscled arms and two sturdy legs. It hand claws that had to be at least five feet long and a great barrel of a chest. It had a fish like head with deep black eyes and a mouth full of jagged teeth that could swallow one of the city's biggest wagons in one gulp. Denner estimated the thing had to be more then fifty feet tall with flippers and fist that could devastate New Keanna if he didn't stop it. His Griffin form wasn't big enough to do any real damage, so he shifted to a Red Dragon form. He knew he wouldn't be as strong or powerful as Rage or Blaze, but he had to try. That thing had to be stopped before it tore down the whole city.
As Denner dived, he took a deep breath filling his dragon lungs with air. He could feel the chemical reaction deep in his chest as the air turned into a flammable gas. He narrowed his wings and ducked beneath the Bog things swipe at him then aimed for its chest and released his blast. Flames shot out from his maw and blasted at the monster's chest as he sped pass. It howled in pain as its chest caught fire. As smoke rose up at it's face, it started to beat it the flames with its wet moss covered hand. In seconds the flames were out and it turned its attention back to the battle just as Denner was coming turned to attack again. Reaching back, the Bog thing threw out its hand and launched a mass of mud and moss into the air at Denner. He turned just in time to keep from flying right into it. The mud flew pass him and crashed into the wall knocking men back and off the wall.
As Denner turned back to the Bog thing, it reached out and smacked him sending him tumbling through the air. He opened his wings to slow and steady himself, but he was to late. He hit the wall with a crash and fell down knocked out onto the ground. The Bog monster roared and with heavy steps, headed straight in for the kill. All it would take would be a few stomps and Denner would be dead and the city would open for the attack.

With a sudden stab of pain, Seven screamed out as she leaned forward to push. It was time for Alaric to make his entrance into the world. Emrel held tight as Seven squeezed her hand. Athene sat ready between her legs whispering a pray to Aramis the god of life for a safe birth. In her mind, Athene heard her mother warn her of what was going on at the gate.
[The city is under attack.] She said. [A dangerous man is trying to get his revenge on New Keanna for his own past mistakes.]
[Mother!] Athere sent. [This is not the time. Neither Ariel, Emrel or I can go out to fight!]
[I know Sweetheart. Steps have been taken to protect you. But you must hurry. If all three are not born in the next ten minutes, none will live.]
[Then make sure your help is able to hold the attack away from here and I will bring them into the world!]
Just then, Alaric's head crowned and push out into the world. Athene gently reached out and guided him as he pushed his way out and fell safely into her hands. Athene whispered a soothing sound to him as she cut the umbilical and held him up for Aramis to bless. A light shined in through the window and touched the baby, and it started to cry.
"What is his full name?" She asked.
"Alaric Tanyl Norstin." Seven said as she smiled and Emrel wiped her sweaty brow.
"Aiya Alaric Tanyl Norstin." She presented the baby to the gods. "Welcome to our clan. We must send word to Toric that he is now a father."
"He knows." Seven said as she laid back and the pain started again. "He is on his way home. I think Elaric is coming!"
Athene looked down to see another head crowning. Quickly she passed Alaric over to Rose, who wrapped him in a soft blanket, then Athene got ready for the next birth.
"Push." Athene told her.
Emrel lifted her into a sitting position and Seven pushed out allowing Elaric his chance to enter the world. The baby slid out right into Athene's waiting hands. Shew reached over and took a blanket to wrap him in.
"He is very handsome." Athene said. "What are you naming him?"
"Elaric Jakari Norstin." Seven said. "He's named after Jake."
"Aiyi Elaric Jakari Norstin." Athene lifted him for his blessing. Aramis shined his light down on the baby as its made its first cry. "Welcome to our clan!"
Rose took both babies and held them down for Seven to see.
"Aren't they beautiful! You should be so proud."
"I am." Seven said. She relaxed for a second knowing she still had one more to go. "But there's one more. Toric Rensan is waiting to for his chance at life."
Rose took the babies to a cradle Seven had made for Alaric and put them in to sleep. Emrel promised to conjure two more when they were done and Seven could get some rest. Just then there was a knock at the door and Syrune Brightsong hurried in to tell them about the attack. Seven pushed away the blankets and started to get up. Emrel stopped her and pushed her down.
"Where do you think your going?"
"To protect the city." She said. "I'm a Dragon, I'm responsible."
"Not today." Athene said. "Your about to deliver a baby, or did you forget. You can barely walk much less fly or fight. Someone else will have to it. Trust the gods, they won't let us down."
"I hope not because here comes Toric!!"
Emrel grabbed on as Seven strained to push the last baby out. As Athene watched, she saw the baby's bottom crown and stop as it was stuck in the birth canal. Rose rushed to Sevens side and told her to stop pushing.
"Somethings wrong." She said. "The baby's coming out the wrong way! Don't push, just breathe easy"
"We should call Macan." Emrel said. "He'll know what to do."
"I know what to do." Rose said. "We'll have to use magic. Athene can do it."
"How?" She asked. "What should I do?"
"Put your hands on her stomach and close your eyes." Rose guided Athene's hands to her belly. "Do you feel the baby?"
"Yes." Athene said. She had her hands right over baby Toric's body. "I can feel it right here."
"I want you to visualized the baby, can you do that?"
"Yes, I see him." She smiled.
"Now, bring him out carefully. Concentrate, he'll come to you."
Athene summoned her magic and called out to the baby. Seven's belly started to glow and Toric disappeared out of her womb and reappeared in Athene's arms crying.
"Aiya Toric Ransen. Welcome to our clan."

After Seven and the babies were safe and in the care of Emrel, Athene shifted and took off out the window and headed to the wall. She saw the Bog monster coming toward the wall as she flew in. The guards were all gathered on the wall firing arrow after arrow into its hulking body causing absolutely no harm at all. As she reached the wall, she spotted Denner laying passed out at the foot of the wall. The monster was heading right for him. Athene flew up and hovered before the creature and spread her arms to cast her first spell. She shot an bolt of lightning at the monster, causing it to stumble back a few steps and fall to its knees. It climbed back up on its feet and looked at her and roared and threw another moss ball at her. Athene dived down out of the way and sent a power blast behind her as she flew pass the monster. Howling the Bog thing quickly spun around and cast a moss wall in front of Athene. Unable to avoid it, Athene flew right into it and found herself stuck like a fly in a web. The Bog thing roared out in triumph beating its chest. With Denner and Athene down. it was now free to attack the city. With a triumphing grunt, it headed in to smash Athene, then on to Denner and New Keanna.
The monster took three steps and reached for Athene, when suddenly something roared and a blast of hot burning sand streaked out and hit it in the face. The Bog thing fell stumbling back as a bronze Dragon with huge wings and a thorny ridged brow came flying out of the city to attack. Sandstorm flew in and snatched Athene from the moss wall and carried her back to the wall.
Shocked, but comfortable in the claws of a Dragon, Athene let the Dragon put her down on the wall.
[Thank you for the save.] She sent. [But who are you? I know all the Dragon's in our clan, I've never seen you before.]
[I am Sandstorm.] He sent. [You make sure Mr. Denner is alright. Let me deal with this thing.]
[That thing is big.] She sent. [You won't be able to destroy it alone. Keep it occupied while I check on Denner. We'll be there to help in just a minute.]
[Yes ma'am.]
With Athene safe on the wall, Sandstorm launched himself back into the sky. He flew straight up, then turned to dive at the Bog monster. As he dived, Sandstorm roared and sent a tremendous wave of heat down at the Bog thing. It tried to cover its face form the blast and took another step back. Sandstorm dived until he was just about over head, turned up and smashed down with its tail. The arrow head shape at the end of his tail smashed down and split the Bog thing right down the middle. It screamed as it stumbled around swinging its arms trying to hold itself together.
Sandstorm roared in triumph, He thought it was all over and he had won. Then he looked down and saw his mistake. The monster was not done. It was pulling itself back together. Its torso had already reformed and the head was filling back in.

Down at the foot of the wall, Athene had dropped down to check on Denner. She lifted him into a sitting position, them smacked his face litely to wake him up. Denner opened his eyes and moaned in pain.
"What happened?" He asked as he looked up at her. "Athene?
"Yes." She said. "You were in a battle. Something attacked the city. It must have hit you and knocked you out."
"A big ugly mud thing." He reached up and rubbed his head. "What happened to it?"
"It's right there!" She pointed to the thing fighting Sandstorm.
Denner looked up and saw the Bronze and the Bog thing in battle.
"Who the blazes is that?
"I don't know." Athene said. "But he called me ma'am and you mister. Whoever he is, I think he knows us."
"He fights pretty good." Denner said as he got up. "But I think he'll need our help. You ready?"
"Let's go." Athene smiled.
Taking a running start, Denner jumped into the air and shifted back to Dragon form. He grabbed Athene and put her on his back and headed into the battle. Like an arrow they charged right in. Sandstorm had turned in flight as he saw them coming so he was out of the way when they started to blast the monster. Athene raised her hand and sent a blast of power at the Bog monster while Denner took a deep breath to get his fires burning again. Her blast hit the thing making it scream. As they streaked pass, Denner let go with his flames. The Bog thing beat at the flames, then jumped for Denner. Denner swerved to the left, then flew around the monster shooting flame. It burned with intense heat as they started up for another pass.
[Your flame isn't hot enough to kill this thing.] Sandstorm sent. [And neither is my hot sand. But if we blast it together all three of us, we might be able to take it down.]
[Good idea.] Athene sent.
[I'll go left, you go right and we'll hit together.] Sandstorm banked left for a turn and Denner went right. They both turned and came back at the monster. Moss balls flew like arrows at Denner as he zoomed in at the monster.
[On three.] Sandstorm sent. [One, two, THREE!!]
Heat and hot sand flew at the Bog thing tearing into its mossy body. At the same time from the other side, Denner blasted it with his flames and Athene with her power blast. The creature screamed as pieces of it burned and tore off away from it's body. It grew smaller and smaller as they kept on with their attack until there was nothing left but the man that had been buried under all that moss and magic. He looked up at them and said something and fell over dead.
Denner and Sandstorm circled then landed on the field outside of the city. Denner shifted and he and Athene walked over to the body.
"I never would have guessed there was a man under all that muck." Denner said. "What did he say before he died. I didn't hear him."
[He said thank you.] Sandstorm sent. He shook his head and stared down at them.
"Thank you for your help." Athene smiled. "We would not have been able to defeat him without it."
[You're welcome.] Sandstorm sent. [But it's my city too. It was my duty to fight.]
"Who are you stranger?" Denner asked. "I feel like I know you."
[You do.]
Sandstorm shifted and Tobyn Avenda was standing there in brown and tan leathers.
"Tobyn?" Denner looked at him in complete shock. "How? what?..."
"I think Graym is in for a big surprise." Athene laughed. She reached out and hugged Tobyn. "Welcome to our clan Sandstorm.

It was early evening when Quynn woke up. Myor was there on the other side of the fire and Ranjer was next to him sleeping. Yarden, Bly and Rowyn were also asleep while, Niro and Hoddie stood guard. As he sat up, he remember the dream he had just had. So Tobyn is now a Dragon, Quynn smile. Good for him. He deserved the honor. What disturbed Quynn was the Bog monster. There was a man buried in that thing. It could only have come from one person. Bram Thorn. He would have to tell the others when they woke up. But now, he needed more rest. They still had a lot to do and a long way to go before this would be over.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Revenge. 15

Things had been quiet in Bellshore since Ranjer left. Nadir had made what peace he could with the people of Bellshore and all the other surrounding villages. He released all his prisoners and tried to right some of the wrongs he had done while under the influences of the ring. He repaired homes and paid out gold from his treasury to the city and its people, but he knew that wouldn't be enough to gain back the people's trust. That would take years, until then he would just have to do his best to prove himself.
It was a cold gray gloomy day as Nadir went from field to field clearing stones, tree trunks and turning the soil in the fields around Bellshore. He was tired but the work had to be done if the people were to have any chance at a harvest next year. Beside him, villagers worked spreading seeds and bulbs in each row. He used his magic to enrich the soil and repair what tools the people had broken. After hours of work, Nadir re directed an underground stream to connect to a set of wells and he was done for the day. It had been a long day and he was glad it was over.
The city gates weren't far away and Nadir thought it was a nice day to walk and get some exercise. Spring flowers were  just coming out and there was a cool breeze to ease his tired mind. Nadir walked and watched as two bees danced from flower to flower collecting pollen to take back to the hive. As he watched, two tree nymph came dancing out of the forest. They bowed to him and waved then started a beautiful dance with their green and yellow silk scarves. They jumped and darted in and out from tree to tree laughing and singing a sweet merry song. Nadir stopped and took a seat on a boulder to watch their wonderful merriment.
As he watched, the sky started to go from clear to cloudy, then suddenly that cool gentle breeze became cold and harsh. The two nymphs stopped dancing and ran for their trees. Nadir stood up and looked up into the cloudy sky. He knew this turn of the weather was to sudden to be natural. It had to be attack of some kind on him. Suddenly a bolt of lightning came hurling down and struck the boulder he had been sitting on. Nadir jumped to the side to avoid getting hit by the raining debris.
"Who attacks?" he yelled out. "Come out and show yourself!!
As Nadir watched, the wind picked up blowing furiously all around him. A swirling air funnel dropped down to land twenty feet from where he stood. As he watched it started to slow down until there was a tall thin man dressed in rags standing in front of him.
"Who are you?" Nadir asked. "What do you want?"
"I am Solaris." It said in a echoy voice. "Are you Nadir Payne?"
"Yes I am."
"I have come for the ring." It said. "My master wants it back. Give it to me."
"I don't have any rings." Nadir said as he readied himself for a fight. "Who is your master."
"I serve Bram Thorn. Master of the Nine Rings Wisdom.  Where in the ring?"
"Wisdom?" Nadir laughed. "There's nothing wise about that ring. More like torment.
"Then you do know of the ring?" The winds started to pick up and blow even harder. "Where is the ring."
"In hell I hope!" Nadir turned and started to walk away. Solaris hurled a bolt of wind at him. It struck Nadir on the shoulder causing a huge bruise and spun him around. Nadir grabbed his shoulder and backed away from Solaris.
"I will ask you once again." Solaris stepped forward with lightning buzzing out from his raised fist. "Where is the masters ring?"
Nadir was in pain but he wasn't helpless. He knew spells that he thought were just as powerful as Solaris. He cast out with his hand and sent a bolt of power at Solaris. It hit him and knocked him back off his feet.
"I may not have that damned ring." Nadir said as power started to surround him. "But I'm not afraid of you!"
"Then you will die!" Solaris rose up spinning into a small tornado. Lightning flashed out striking trees and rocks all around Nadir. Nadir sent another bolt it the Air Elemental, it passed right through it. Solaris started to laugh as a bolt of fire came flying one of the sky. It hit Nadir and set his robes ablaze.
"Did I forget to tell you I am not alone?" Suddenly a great being of fire appeared and dropped down next to Solaris. "Meet Ember, now where is the ring?"
"Somewhere where you will never find it!" Nadir fired two bolts at the Elementals. One at each of the Elementals. One hit the Fire Elemental and blew him to bits. The other hit Solaris and disrupted his air flow dropping him out of the air. Nadir dowsed his burning robes and took a step toward the ragged man, planning to encase him in a force bubble when suddenly he exploded in flames. The Fire Elemental had reformed and attacked sending a torrent of heat and flames at Nadir. The Wizard screamed as his body burned while the two Elementals laughed. In minutes the flames were sucked into his lungs and the Wizard of Bellshore fell to the ground dead. Solaris got up and ran to Nadir's burning corpse.
"You fool!" he shouted at Ember. "You weren't supposed to kill him! We don't have the ring! The master will punish us for this!"
"Then we don't go back." Ember said. "We have power, we can go somewhere else far from here."
"You think he won't find us?" Solaris screamed. "If we don't go back, we will forever be hiding from every shadow and storm. Every bit of fire or rain. All the elements will be after us for the rest of our lives. We have no choice but to return."
"Then let's go and get this over with." Ember lifted off into the air. "How bad can it be?"
Solaris spread his arms and let his winds take him up into the air. He had failed Bram, his only hope now was to find the ring, or whoever had the ring. Maybe that would please the master.

From the Roann peaks, Quynn flew east with Yarden and Myor on his back. Ranjer in his raven form flew at his side. The trip was to be straight and fast since they were worried about what Bram might be up to. They passed the Willow Mire and the Fionn woods then turn toward Fay Shrea. The last time Ranjer had messaged Bly and the other's, they were in Mystwinter looking for Eldar Mystwinter and the ring he possessed. He wondered what had happened. Did they find the ring? Once they were pass the Fairy lands and in the Eleven lands, Ranjer had Quynn turn towards Mystwinter.
The forest around Mystwinter looked it had been ravaged. Trees were torn down and the ground looked like some great giant had come along and scooped a large trench out of the ground. Somehow, there had been some kind of disaster here.
"What in Rimnar's name did this?" Yarden said as he watch Elves doing their best to help the broken and damaged greenery. There were scorched and burned trees and bushes, whole fields looked as if they had been set ablaze. This had to be horrible to the forest Elves. "Could there have been a battle here?"
"My guess is Bram Thorn." Myor told him. "He was here looking for his ring."
"But Rowyn and Bly was." Now he was worried about their friends. "We have to hurry down there."
[Bly!!] Quynn sent. [Are you here? Is everything alright?]
[Yes.] She answered. [We're fine and very glad to hear from you. Where are you?]
[About to land in Mystwinter.]
[We'll meet you near the trench.] She said. [It's time we move on.]
Quynn circled then set down near the trench. Myor and Yarden climbed down and him and Ranjer shifted back to their normal forms. While they waited, looked at the ruined forest.
"This is terrible." Yarden said. "My people love nature. If this had happened to us, we would be looking for someone to punish. There would be war."
"My father's would be upset too." Quynn said. "Dreik would lose his mind. So many trees destroyed, he would have felt their pain."
"We'll figure something out." Ranjer said.
"We better." Niro said as he rode up with Hoddie behind him. Rowyn and Bly flew down out of the trees. "If we don't, this will keep happening."
"I'm glad your all safe." Quynn said. He went to Bly and hugged her. "We were worried."
"As were we." Rowen smiled. "Did you get the rings?"
"We found two." Myor held out his hand showing them the rings. He had the ring of water and light.
"That makes four rings." Hoddie said. "There's still five out there. Do we know which one's Bram found?"
"Well." Rowyn sat down with Niro. "We know he has Eldar's ring of fire and we know he has the ring he found in Yarden's cavern. That's all we know for sure."
"Then we should go check the last two members of the original group." Bly said. "Leda Redhelm and,,,"
"Manius Regulus." Niro said very grimly. "My father's betrayer."
"Do you know what happened to Manius?" Ranjer asked.
"No. I never knew him, but I did know his son Caius." Niro explained. "He was a cruel one. He took pleasure in torturing anyone he thought was from a lower family since he was related to Midoa. I didn't like him."
"Were they still in Sorrowdown when it fell?" Bly asked.
"No, I don't think so." Niro thought back. "Regulus was rewarded for his betrayal. He was promoted and sent somewhere. I'm not sure where. Sorrowdown had many outpost spread out through the empire. There were a few outside. Maybe we should go back and check the records."
"You think he as a ring, don't you?" Quynn came over to stand in front of Niro. "Or is it just revenge?"
"Oh I hate him alright." Niro said. "But yes, I think he has a ring. I think he set my family up for a fall, then ran to wait out the emperor. He knew my father would fight and probably kill Midoa. Then he could come back and claim the empire by right of ascension."
"Doesn't look like that's going to work out for him." Ranjer smiled. "You destroyed the Empire."
"No." Niro stopped him. "I destroyed Sorrowdown. The empire still stands. But I'm not done yet. I will destroy it completely with a little help from my friends."
"You want us to help you bring down the empire?" Hoddie said. He looked up at his new friend. "My people wouldn't go anywhere near Sorrowdown. They used us in the arena with no chance for freedom. I'll help."
"We'll help if we can." Ranjer said. "But Bram is our primary mission. He comes first."
"I agree." Niro stood up and shook Ranjer's hand. "'You have my word. Bram Thorn comes first, then the empire will fall."
"Let's get back to finding those Rings." Quynn said. "Rowyn, Myor, which way?"
"West to Hernborin." Myor said. "To the Dwarves."

After Quynn, Ranjer and their friends left the area of the trench, Caius stepped out from behind the trees. He had heard all that was said about his father and he knew it was all true. Manius had betrayed Niro's family. He had turned on him the moment they returned with all kinds of lies, and it worked. The Emperor declared Vibius and his family enemies of the state and confiscated all their holdings. Niro was sent into the gladiator camps and his mother Helen was hanged. All the while, Manius Regulus took his family and his reward and moved on to Parandor Keep where he was put into the post of Governor.
Now Caius had heard Niro take an oath of vengeance. That meant he and his friend would be coming for him and his father. Well let them come. Caius rubbed the ring on his finger. He would have something waiting for them.

As Quynn and the other's gathered their stock and readied themselves for the trip to Hernborin, Bram Thorn was busy sending out his Elementals to many of the different kingdoms of Taggitia to demand any and all magical rings be turned over to him. To emphasize his point, he ordered his minions to destroy the cities temples to their patron gods.
In Snaea Clana, a Faerie kingdom. Bram's Thunder Elemental attacked the temple of Alee, shattering the walls and bringing down the marble pillars. With it's mighty scream it devastated the temple and sank it into the ground. Above their heads, the skies bumbled in protest. The Gods had heard and saw the carnage.
In far off Oselela. A land of Humans. A being of light flashed down into the halls of King Lyniodis. He ordered the king to relinquish all magical rings in his possession. The King ordered his men to attack and in a flash, they were all dead. Stricken down by flashes of lightning. King Lyniodis threw down every ring he owned and begged for mercy. The Elemental laughed and sent a bolt at the king frying him where he stood. With the king dead, the Elemental went on to attack the Temple of Alea the Goddess on the moon. Lightning streaked down to rain on the temple shattering the roof and caving the whole structure in. As Alea looked down on what was left of her temple, a tear ran down her face. She knew this was the work of only one mad man. Bram Thorn. He had taken her daughter and disobeyed her mate. His madness had to end, he was to dangerous to be allowed to continue. Fortunately, she already had things in the works to bring him down.

Everything was quiet as they made their way from Mystwinter west through Aloevan and down to Hernborin. While they traveled, Yarden told Niro and Hoddie about what had happened in Bellshore and the Roann Peaks. He told them about Gnark and what he had told them about the origin of his ring. Both Hoddie and Niro wondered if the was a dead mystics soul trapped in their rings. Neither had ever heard anything from their rings. So far they had been strangely quiet.
Above their heads, Rowyn rode quietly along on Quynn's back. She had gotten a lot of rest back in Mystwinter and was ready for whatever was over the next border. Bly flew down to land on Rowyn's shoulder and sat down.
"You seem quiet." She said. "Is anything wrong?"
"I'm not sure." Rowyn said. "Something feels wrong. Like we're heading into danger or something. I can't describe the feeling."
[Myor.] Bly sent out. [Are you feeling anything?]
[No,] He sent to all of them. [Just a little anxious. Everything feels....]
Then suddenly there was a powerful cry in Rowyn and Myor's mind, like a thousand minds crying out in pain. Myor started to shift back to his Human form and fall out of the sky. Ranjer dived down and did something they all thought was impossible. He shifted to a handsome bronze Dragon and caught Myor.
[RANJER!!] Quynn called out. [How can this be?]
[What?"] He said as he landed and released Myor and shifted back to his normal form. [I caught him, that's all.]
As Quynn landed, Niro and Hoddie rode up on Akhrua with Yarden at their side. They jumped down off the horse.
"Did I just see a Dragon?" Niro asked.
"Of course you did." Ranjer said annoyed. "Quynn's been flying over head all day."
"No." Yarden said as he came closer to them. "We saw a bronze Dragon, Quynn is silver and black. It wasn't Quynn."
"It was Ranjer." Quynn said. "I don't know how, but he shifted into a Dragon. He was the Bronze Dragon!"
"It's not possible." Ranjer laughed. "You're all seeing things. I'm no Dragon."
"Then how did you save Myor?" Quynn asked his cousin. "Your Raven form can't carry someone so heavy, How did you catch him and land safely? That is impossible for a Raven."
"The real question is what made Myor fall?" Niro asked as he went to check on Princess Rowyn. She was sitting on the side next to Myor as Bly tended to her. "Are you alright? What happened?"
"There was pain." She said in a faint voice, "So much pain. He's hurting people looking for his rings. He tears down the god's temples and desecrates the land. He must be stopped."
"We'll stop him." Hoddie assured her. "All of us and our next stop is Hernborim. We should get moving before he beats us there."
With Myor on Quynn's back and Rowyn taking to the air, they moved on into the Dwarven lands.

It was a long ride for Caius back to Sorrowdown. He really had no idea where to start looking for Bram so he thought he might as well start where it all had started for his father. When he reached the outer walls of the city, he saw it was in ruins. This is what Niro had done to his city. The walls were down in many places and he could still smell the smoke from the burned out buildings.
Caius tied up his horse and headed in through the gates of Sorrowdown. All the outer buildings of the city looked as if they had been torn down by hand. He guessed it must have been the city slaves taking their revenge on the Empire. There were skeletal remains scattered all through the area. Dead guards in what was left of the city armor lay by the gates where they had been killed along with some of their attackers.
As Caius moved on, he began to see the burned out buildings. The market place and the slave auction pens had been ripped apart, and in the center of the pens he found Emperor Midoa's body hanging from the the main auction building.
The city seemed quiet but Caius could feel there was someone here watching him. He put his hand to his sword and moved on through the city. His first stop was his parents old manor. It hardly looked the same. The iron gates around the property looked like it had been ripped apart and the  building was over grown with ivy that hung from the roof and climbed the walls everywhere. The front door had been knocked down and all the statuary of Midoa and his royal consort in the front yard had been smashed. Caius stepped into the manor and saw everything was in ruins. All the furniture had been destroyed and the floor was littered with leaves and broken plate ware and clothing. Further in he found there was three burned bodies laying in the broken fireplace. Caius was glad his family had left Sorrowdown months before any of this had happened.
Turning away, Caius left the manor and headed down the road that lead to the royal palace. He passed many manors and home of his neighbors and they were all in the same condition. As he neared the palace, he felt it again. Like eyes were everywhere staring down at him from above and in the shadows. From the side of buildings and deep in the ruined manors. Every now and then, he even thought he could hear whispering coming from right over his shoulder. He would turn as quickly as he could, but there was no one there.
The palace was about two miles ahead and the sun was just going down behind the mountains of the Silver Hills. With his hand still on his sword, Caius moved carefully down the road watching the shadows for any movement. He passed the last of the manors and entered the avenue where all the military officers were housed. All of these apartment building were in the worse shape. Not one building was untouched, most had been torched and burned to the ground. There were soldier, slaves and gladiators remains scattered all along the road decaying where they fell.
As Caius made his way toward the palace, he heard something growling behind him. He turned and found the biggest, ugliest dog thing come walking out from between two buildings. It was the size of a pony and cover with what looked like mud and dried dead grass. Caius took a step back as it looked at him and started to back. Loose clomps of mud fell from his side with each step it took forward toward him. Caius grabbed his sword and pulled it free of its scabbard and stood ready for the attack. With a mighty leap, the Mud dog attacked. It dived at him barking and snarling with its fore claws out stretched to attack. Caius with both hands, swung his sword and sliced it right down the center of the Mud dogs nose cutting it in two. It crashed to the ground and struggling as it tried to push itself back to its feet. Caius re sheathed his sword and turned to leave thinking the beast disabled and defeated. Then he heard something that made him turn back. There was growling again coming from behind him. Quickly he turned back. The two pieces of the Mud dog were reforming. Already the two heads had re formed and as he watched, the body expanded and the legs were growing. Caius turned and ran, he wanted to get to the palace before the two Mud dogs could get after him. As he ran, he could hear the barking getting closer. The Mud dogs were after  him. Caius poured on more speed. He took a quick glance to his left. Two more Dogs came running from out off a torn down building. To his right, another one came snarling and foaming from its mouth. Caius pulled his sword and slashed at the closest Mud dog, then grabbed it and threw it back in the path of the oncoming freak dogs. The first two ran straight into the withering body and fell. The others leaped it and kept coming. Caius made it to the doors of the palace, ran in and slammed them shut behind him. He grabbed a coat rack and snapped it in two and shoved it through the handles locking the Mud dogs out. They hammered again and again into the door but it was built to withstand a siege, even their strong lunges couldn't bring it down.
With a sigh, Caius relaxed knowing he was safe and those monsters couldn't get through the door to get him. He wondered what other monsters he might find here in Sorrowdown. He was confident he was up to defeating anything he ran into.
"Maybe not everything."
Caius turned and pulled his sword when he heard the voice behind him. There stood and older man in dirty gray robes. He cast out his hand at Caius. The sword flew from his hand to slide across the marble floor and bang against the wall.
"You won't be needing that son of Midoa." Bram laughed as he walked in to meet Caius. "Tell me, what is the son of my enemy doing here? Have you come seeking your death?"
"No," Caius said. "I'm here to reclaim my empire."
"Your empire?" Bram lifted his hand and pointed at Caius. He lifted up with his arms held out suspended in the air before Bram. "The Paratus empire is dead, just like you little warrior."
"You can kill me if you want." Caius said calmly. "But without me, you won't kill your enemies and you will never get back what your looking for."
"And what am I looking for?" Bram walked out in front of Caius. He didn't trusts the emperor's blood. He knew them to be liars. "What can you offer me?"
"I know where to find the rings." Caius said. "And I could bring them to you, for a price."
"I could just kill you." Bram said as he thought about the proposition. "But you interest me. I will listen to your proposition."
"I will get your rings back for you." Caius said. "All of them. And I will lead your enemies right to you so you can destroy them."
"And what do you want for this favor?"
"My empire back." Caius looked down at Bram. "And the power to get my revenge on an old friend."
Bram thought about what Caius was asking. He could always get rid of  him after he retrieved the rings. He wouldn't need him after that. Let the boy do the hard work then kill him. He is a Parantus after all, one of his enemies.
"I will give you what you ask for. "Bram said. "But if you fail me, you will pay."
Bram reached out a took a hold of Caius by his leg and started his spell.


Then Caius started to scream as Bram filled his body with the power of the Elements. Lightning blazed as ice and fire combined to filled his body and mind. Rocks streaked up from the ground to form into armor to cover his face, legs, arm and chest. His eyes began to glow crimson red as sparks began to flick out. Smoke and steam seeped out all around him as he staggered back against the wall.
He looked down at his armor encased hands and screamed again as flames erupted from his palms.
"What have you done to me?"
"You wanted power." Bram laughed. "I gave you power. Now I have one more trick for you. This is what will happen if you fail me."
Bram flared out with his hands and increased power in Cauis. Flames and lightning started to shoot out from his body as he started to overload and burnout.
Bram dropped his hands and the power started to stabilize. Cauis fell to the floor still smoking and breathing hard.
"I can destroy you anytime I want to." Bram pointed out. "It does not matter where you are, so don't fail me. Now go find my rings."

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Elementals. 14

It was dark as Quynn, Ranjer, Yarden and Myor made their way through the mountains of Roann. The only light came from Myor as he streaked brightly between the peaks. With Myor in the lead lighting the way, they searched the peaks until they found the cave that Myor had seen with his mind probe.
[There.] He pointed to a ledge to the opening as he circled around the peak. [That's our entrance.]
Quynn flew down and was the first to land. Yarden and Ranjer jumped from his back as Myor set down.
"How far down do we have to go?" Ranjer asked as he looked into the dark hole.
"You're not afraid of the dark?" Yarden asked with a smile. "Are you?"
"No." Ranjer said. "I can see just fine. I was wondering what’s down there."
"I guess we'll find out." Quynn said as he stepped into the cave. "Can you still find the ring?"
"I got us this far." Myor said. "We're going to have to go down and find it. I know it's here."
"I'll lead." Yarden said. "My nose can help us make our way through these tunnels."
With Yarden in the lead, they made their way through the twist and turns of the dark tunnels. They passed amazing rock formations and walls lined with all kinds of gems and precious metals. They saw veins of gold, silver and platinum. They saw iron and bronze. Quynn made a remark about how the Dwarves of Lands’ End would love a chance to mine in this cave.
They found an underground river that raged into a set of falls then pooled into a great lake. Yarden called a stop and went fishing for huge trout that they cooked in the campfire for lunch. While they ate, they heard strange growling noises coming from somewhere in the darkness.
"What is that?" Quynn asked. He stood up and walked out away from the fire and gazed into darkness. Dragons usually live deep down in caves, so the darkness was nothing to Quynn. He saw huge rodents skittering all about through the cave. But that can't be what growled. Quynn looked deeper, then looked up. There were strange white bats all over the ceiling of the cave. They were no threat to them. As Quynn turned to go back to the campfire, something shot out of a side cave and attached to his leg and pulled him off his feet. Falling on his back, Quynn looked up and saw a ten-foot half mantis, half spider come lurching out of the darkness toward him. It was a Flashclaw. He had heard tales about them from his father, but he'd never seen one before. The Flashclaw stood like a Praying Mantis, it was black as the night with red stripes that ran across its thick exoskeleton with two front main appendages for stabbing and slicing its prey. Its lower body was more spider like but covered in black armor and it moved on six crab like legs. It also had a spider’s spinneret and a deadly bite that injected acid into its victims.
As the Flashclaw advanced on Quynn, he struggled with the web trying to rip it loose from his leg. With a chattering squeal, it raised its spiked leg to stab down into Quynn. Without thinking, Quynn shifted and bellowed out a blast of flame that sent it scuttering back away from him. As Quynn ripped the webs off and climbed to his feet, the Flashclaw started to scream an ear piercing yell. Ranjer, Myor and Yarden came running from the fire as four more came charging out of the cave. Yarden shifted and dived in and grabbed the closest Flashclaw by its forelegs and slammed it into the cave wall then threw it out into the lake. He reached out and tore a stalagmite free from the ground and waded in swinging it like a club. Myor and Quynn started blasted the giant bugs with their flames while Ranjer fired energy bolts. Soon, one by one the Flashclaws died or ran off back into the caves where they had come from.
"We should hurry and find the ring." Ranjer said. "Those thing will be back and there will be a lot more of them."
"Then let's get moving." Quynn said. "And fast."
With Yarden back in the lead, they ran on through the tunnel. They ran through another tunnel filled with giant rats. Myor took the lead there and blasted the tunnel with fire to clear the way so they could pass. Finally, they came to a huge chamber with a high ceiling covered with diamonds and a green phosphorescent alga. Yarden stopped them just before they entered. He sniffed the air and frowned.
"There's something alive in there." He said. "And it smells worse than a whole colony of Kensi."
"Someone needs to go in and see what's in there." Myor suggested. He stepped to the entrance and gazed in. "Someone who can slip in unnoticed."
"That's not me." Yarden moved over to a boulder and sat down. "I can merge with ice and snow but not rock. That would take someone with powers over rock, or maybe someone who can become invisible."
"Invisible?" Quynn said turning to his cousin Ranjer. "How about a mist? Would that work?"
"Me?" Ranjer looked at them surprised, his gray eyed flashed red.
"You can slide in as mist and see exactly what's living in there." Quynn explained. "Then we can figure how to get in and what to do."
"I guess that will work." Ranjer took off his bag and handed it over to Quynn and walked to the entrance to the chamber. He closed his eyes and summoned the air and water particles from all around to cover him as he dissolved into the mist and flowed into the chamber.
The chamber was huge, big enough to fit a small city in. A small river flowed through the center and the walls on each side were lined in tiers with rooms and apartments dug into the walls. Ranjer slid in low to the ground and spread himself out so he could explore every part of the chamber. He found areas where there were small cooking fire pits had been build in many of the rooms with crude knives and other cooking utensils. In many rooms, he found sleeping furs piled in what he thought might be some kind of nest or den. Yarden was right. There was something living in here, and from what Ranjer found, it looked like it might be a whole tribe. But a tribe of what? Ranjer had no clue.
[What do you see in there?] Quynn asked from the outer chamber.
[It's a really big cave.] He sent. [There are cook fires and furs for sleeping. I found what looks like plates and bowls and a lot of old gnawed bones.]
[What about the ring?] Myor asked. [Do you see it anywhere?]
[No.] He sent. [I don't see anything like a ring, but I haven't been able to search very much. This chamber is really big. It could be anywhere in here.]
Ranjer searched the apartments one at a time. He went from level to level going through sleeping furs and everything else he saw but still no ring. Then from deep in the back of the chamber, something moved. Ranjer drifted up towards the roof of the chamber, then to the back where he thought he heard the noise. There was something there. It was huge and covered with long hair all over its body. At first, Ranjer thought it was some kind of bear, then it lumbered out grunting into the chamber and he recognized it. It was a Troll, but not  like the Trolls back at home. At home the forest Trolls were big hairless brutes that scavenged and attacked travelers on the road or from under bridges. This one was different. Though it was hairy, it wore clothing and its eyes had a strange glow. Ranjer got the feeling this thing was much more intelligent just forest Trolls. And there was something else. Something on its hand sparkled. Ranjer slowly drifted down for a closer look. Then he saw it. It was wearing a ring!
Just as he was about to message the others that he had found the ring, the Troll turned and looked up in his direction.
"Fe Fi Fo Fum." The troll swept his hand up at Ranjer. The water in the caves river sprouted up and rushed at him. Ranjer's mist form absorbed the water molecules making him to dense to hold his form. Struggling to keep himself together, Ranjer fell to land at the Trolls feet. "I smell the blood of a foreign one. Who dares invades the chamber of Gnark?"
Gnark reached down and grabbed Ranjer and threw him across the floor the chamber. Ranjer crashed to the ground and rolled into the wall where he lay there unconscious. Feeling Ranjer's panic, Quynn shifted and rushed in to Ranjer to stand over him and Gnark charged. Quynn took a deep breath and blew out a torrent of flames that stopped Gnark and forced him back. As Myor and Yarden joined Quynn, Gnark lifted both arms over his head forcing the river to shoot out at them in a blast of hard water. The water struck Yarden, he was knocked back to the entrance in a muddy heap. Myor raised a shield to protect himself and Ranjer from the water. Quynn launched himself over the top of the shield at Gnark, his claws out stretched as he reached for the Troll. In response, Gnark swept the water around and formed a barrier between him and Quynn's razor sharp claws. Quynn roared out his frustration and beat against the solid wall of water. There had to be a way to get through to fight the Troll. He had to get that ring back. It was the only way if they were to have a chance at beating Bram Thorn.
"Bram Thorn?" Gnark lowered his hands. "I see a name in your mind little dragon. It is a name I know. Bramble Thorn is alive?"
[Yes.] Quynn settled down and shifted to his Human form. "He escaped from his prison in the Underworld and he's returned and swore revenge on the people of Taggitia. So far he destroyed Ammath and all of its people but one. He raided a cavern in Mada looking for one of his rings and killed everyone that lived there. A whole Yetisian clan dead. He poisoned the corn crops of Diva and murdered all its people and there are many more in his way."
Gnark dropped the water wall and stepped in to confront Quynn and Myor. He waved his hand at Yarden and sent a gentle rain of clean water to shower the Yetisian and wake him up.
"Your friend will be alright." He turned in toward the cavern. "Follow me."
Leaving Yarden and Ranger sleeping peacefully, they followed Gnark to a crystal set in a wall by the furthest dwelling in the cavern. Gnark stood in front of the crystal and waved his hand in front of it. As the crystal flashed to life, scenes of life in the undersea city of Mabin streaked by. They saw a Mer wizard with a young apprentice at his side as he worked for the betterment of the citizens. He cured the sick and eradicated many diseases. He used his magic to protect and to fight many enemies of the city. He did his best to teach compassion, honor and bravery to his young eager apprentice until one day that apprentice learn that the wizard had met a new young initiate.
"On that day." Gnark explained. "The apprentice learned jealousy. He thought his master had turned against him and planned to leave all his magic knowledge to the one he thought to be his rival. Of course, he was wrong. The new initiate was actually meant for a city far away were the master hoped they would be friends and allies. But friendship was not one of Bram Thorn's strong suits. Neither was patients or faithfulness. No matter how hard Aenon tried, certain lessons just escaped Bram's comprehension. Lessons that would be important if he was to be made a master."
Quynn and Myor listened well. Some of what Gnark was saying explained Bram's rage and so much more. His cold heart and his stubbornness, his hate for those he thought had more power. It all started here.
"Then the final day of judgement was on the two students." Gnark gestured at the crystal and it showed them standing on a island undergoing their final test. "Young Christian worked hard and passed every test Aenon put to him, but Bram's anger was so high, he couldn't concentrate and failed miserably. Aenon passed on the ring of knowledge to the boy and congratulated him. That was when Bram's anger became out of control and he struck. He cast out his spell, an evil spell that ripped all the life and magic from both Christian and Aenon infused it into the ring. It gave the ring great power over the water and drove the two minds in it to insanity."
"This is the first of Bram's nine Rings of Madness." Gnark held up the ring. "They are the rings that drove him mad. I have been able to free Christian from his hellish prison and he is now here resting in peace. But Aenon is still insane and in the ring and very dangerous to he who wears the ring. He has his moments of clarity but they are few and unpredictable. I will give you the ring, but you must promise me two things. One, you will never put the ring on and two, you won't allow Bram to get it. I want your word, both of you."
"We promise." They said together. Then as he handed Quynn the ring, Quynn asked a question. 
"But what of you and the other Trolls here? Won't you lose your magical protection."
"Do not fear for my people." Gnark smiled. "Christian will protect our cavern."
Together they walked back to where Yarden was waking up with Ranjer. 
"He is at peace but he is still here. He will always be here with us. This is his home, don't worry about us, you have enough with Bram on the loose in the world. His madness is a threat to all the people of Tagittia."
"Thank you Gnark." Myor bowed to the Troll. "Tagittia is in your debt."
"Fare you well young heroes." Gnark nodded. "May the gods always be at your side."
With Yarden and Ranjer awake and back on their feet, Myor led them back up and out of the cave.
"Where to now?" Yarden asked as he enjoyed the night air of the mountains.
"I think we should go find the others." Quynn said. "And see how they're doing."
"How about we rest tonight and start out fresh in the morning." Myor dropped tired and pulled his robe closed around him.
"You're not worried what Bram might be doing?" Ranjer asked. "I can tell you he's not resting. He might be attacking someone else right now."
Myor moaned his frustration but he knew Ranjer was right. They should hurry back. Myor got back up on his feet to get ready to fly.
"I'll tell you what." Ranjer said. "You ride on Quynn and I'll fly. You can rest on the ride back."
"Fine." Myor said. "Let's get moving. We have a long way to go."

The night was dark and hot as Bram Thorn entered what was left of Sorrowdown. All its citizens had fled after the slave revolt and the preceding riot. The slaves had set the city on fire in revenge for the years they had spent under the yoke of Sorrowdown and their cruel masters, before they ran off to the freedom of the forest and beyond hoping to never see the city again. All that was left were small bands of roving scavengers looting what was left of the market place and the burnt out abandoned homes of the city's nobles.
As Bram entered the city, a small gang of men watched as he pushed his way through the debris that littered the main road into town. From the way he carried himself, they thought him to be an easy mark. Just another noble who had come back to see what was left of his house and property. As far as they could see, he had no warriors with him for protection, it didn't even look like he was armed at all. Just a mad man raving to himself about his losses as he searched for his belongings. The men snickered under their breath thinking how easy this was going to be.
Splitting into two groups, one went to the left hidden by small burnt out buildings while the other went right thinking they would trap the stranger between them and rob him of whatever gold and jewelry he had. As they waited to attack, they could hear him screaming obscenities at no one as he walked.
In seconds he would emerge from between the two ruined buildings. There were four men waiting with swords ready on each sides. They raised their swords ready as they listened to his angry ranting. The stranger walked straight up the road, his arms flailing about in crazy gestures. From each side the men charged out at him to attack. He ignored them until the last second then thrust out with both arms grabbing the men up in his spell. They rose up into the air trapped in the coils of magic like the tentacles of some mystic octopus as they fought for their freedom. Below, Bram Thorn's mad laughter echoed out through the ruins of the dead ex-empire city.
"You like the others thought me weak and helpless." Bram reached out and squeezed them in his spell. "You were wrong. I am as powerful today as I was the day I was killed."
The men screamed and cried out for mercy. Bram laughed harder enjoying their moment of fear and pain. He walked out to stand under them as they struggled against the spell trying to free themselves.
"You want mercy; I’ll will show mercy." He said as he casually strolled beneath them drooling in madness. "But I require something in return for my generosity. I will spare all your miserable lives but you must serve me."
The men in the grips of his spell all cried out their objections. They screamed out their denials and renewed their fight to free themselves from his magic. Back and forth they swung in the air as Bram laughed below them and applied more power to the spell. It squeezed harder, soon they could hardly breathe and had no choice but to accept his conditions. Bram through back his head and cackled as he turned and threw his hands up into the air. The eight men caught up in his spell screamed as they descended to the ground and the change began.
"Though I don't have the right rings." Bram said. "I still have enough control over the elements for this. You will be my elemental warriors. Two of you will be fire, two will be wind, two will be water and to will be soil."
As he chanted, two men screamed and burst into flames. Their clothing and the air all around them burned as the fire fused into their bodies turning them into fire Elemental's. One by one, the men changed. The first two to fire, then two to air, then water and soil until eight Elemental's stood in front of Bram ready to follow his every order.
"You will do." He said as he walked around inspecting his work. "Who is your Master?"
"You are." One of the fire elemental's stepped forward dripping sparks and dropped of lava. "Bram Thorn is our master."
"Follow me." Bram turned and headed into Sorrowdown. He passed through the lower city were the people of the lower casts, the marketplace and the ruins of the Emperor's arena stood to the part of the city were those who owned land lived. Not quite the rich or the nobles, but the working class. From there he moved on to the garden part of the city were the nobles live. The villas and manses made of marble, brick and cement with lavish gardens and unique architecture and decoration. The roads here were paved and usually kept clean by slave labor but now the whole area was in chaos from the riot. This area was the home of the pampered and the privileged with the palace of the Emperor on the highest level and Bram's destination.
He led them in through the tore down fence and into the courtyard of the palace. From there with a wave, Bram swept open the doors and went into his new home. He looked around and smiled satisfied with his choice.
[You don't deserve this.] A voice said. [You should be down in the ghetto with the rest of the trash living in the mud. You’re a pig!]
"Shut up." Bram mumbled to himself. "I don't want to hear it."
[And I don't care what you want, you crazy bastard,] The voice laughed. [You did this to yourself, not suffer for your misdeeds.]
[Yeah yeah yeah. Fuck you.]
Bram lost control and sent a bolt of energy at a wall blasting it out. The voice just laughed at him provoking him even further.
[Weak fool!]
Angry, Bram closed his mind and headed further into the palace to the Emperor's throne room where he made himself at home. He called in the air elemental to attend him. The curtains blew as the being of air blew in through the hole in the wall. As it landed down in front of Bram, it bowed to its Master. The change had turned him blue and transparent. He wore rags that blew in the winds that swirled around him.
"You called Master?"
"Yes." Bram said. "I think I will call you Solaris. I have a job for you my Elemental warriors. There are people I want you to kill."
"As you wish my Master." Solaris bowed his head. "Just tell me who and where."
"There is a man in a small town called Bellshore." Bram leaned forward. "He has something I want. A ring.  I want him punished for stealing my ring. Take Embar, one of the flames with you and get it back for me and kill the thief."
"Your wish is our command." Solaris said. "Is there anything else?"
"Yes, find me one more from the city. There is one more element I need as a guard."
"Yes my master."
He lifted his arms and started to spin into a small vortex and disappeared through the broken wall. Bram started laughing again.

As the sun set to the west, Hoddie and Niro used their strength to help the Elves dig out and rescue anyone still buried by the damage of Bram's storm. Sima's delicate nose led them from house to house where he showed them where to dig to locate any buried survivors. Rowyn spent the night lending her magic in the healer tents tending to the wounded while Bly kept watch with a group of Mystwinter's guards for looters thinking to raid the damaged city.
By morning, everything had settled down and Mystwinter was quiet. Niro woke up and did his morning business then went looking for his friends. He found Rowyn sleeping in the healer tent. Passed out from exhaustion while Hoddie guard at the door. The Goblin nodded a greeting and made a motion spooning to his mouth. He was hungry and didn't want to leave his watch on the princess while she slept. Niro waved then went to the dining tent and picked up some bread and cheese and a bowl of beef stew and brought it back to Hoddie. He took the pack and thanked Niro for the breakfast and started eating. Niro took a seat next to him as Hoddie handed him some bread and cheese.
"What are you thinking?" He asked as he spooned stew into his mouth.
"I was thinking about where we should be heading next." Niro said. "Any ideas?"
"Bly wants to go find Bram." Hoddie said. "But I'm not sure that's a good idea. We have four out of nine rings. I don't think that's enough. Don't forget, he broke out of the Underworld with no rings at all. Now he has at least two that we know of. He could have more."
"So that means so far know four rings have been found." Niro folded the towel the cheese and bread had been wrapped in and stuck it in his sleeve. "There are still three out there somewhere for us to find. I wonder where the next one is?"
"It's in Hernborim." Bly said as she flew in to land on Niro's knee. "A Dwarf has it. We have to head into Dwarf country and find Leda Redhelm. I just hope Bram doesn't find her first."
"Hernborim is the south." Niro said. He lifted Bly then got to his feet. "We'll have to book passage across Lake Goras. It might be a good idea to find Tarron and Marissa and get them back here first. They can arrange passage for us. Is there anyway to trace Eldar's spell to find them?"
"We'll have to ask Rowyn when she wakes up." Hoddie said. He turned to Bly. "You should get some rest. You've been on guard all night. When Rowyn wakes up, we'll come get you, then we can get moving."
"No." She shifted to her larger size and guided them out of the healer tent and to a turned over bench. Niro flipped it over and they sat down. "I get my energy from the sun, I don't need much sleep. What I need is some kind of action and I have an idea about how to find the king and queen."
"What were you thinking?" Hoddie asked.
"All magic is done with different colored lines of energy and power." She explained. "Any spell can be traced, undone, unraveled or reversed if you can see and follow the lines."
"I understand that." Niro said. "My tutor back home told me all about it, but I never had the ability to touch or manipulate the lines. I can see them but them, but I can't get them to work for me."
"But in a way, I can." Bly said. "Let me explain. I can't see them, but if you can, you can show me which lines to use and I can reverse Eldar's spell. It's going to hurt like hell, but I can do it."
"Why don't we just wait and let Rowyn do it?" Hoddie asked He looked from Niro to Bly. "She's more adept for magic?"
"Rowyn spent the night exhausting herself using her magic to heal." Bly explained. "When she wakes up, she'll still be very weak. It'll take her hours until she has enough power and in her weakened condition, it could kill her."
"If I know our princess, she'll still want to do it." Hoddie agreed. "I think she's done enough for now. You're right, we she do this now before she wakes up. What do you need?"
"Just Niro and the room they were in when the spell was cast." As she explained, Sima came over and laid down next to Niro. He put his hand down and rubbed her head. "If you can keep everyone clear of the throne room, it shouldn't take us too long."
"I will have Captain Nierde place a few of his guards on the the palace gates." Hoddie stood up. "They will keep everyone out to give you time to work on Eldar's spell. I'll stay here and watch over Rowyn until she wakes up, then we'll come and find you."
"Keep Sima here with you." Niro said as he and Bly got to their feet. "All the magic might frighten her if she follows us."
[Not scared of magic.] Sima sent. [But I stay by princess.]
[Good girl.] Niro hugged the cat and he and Bly headed to what was left of Mystwinter palace.
They stopped at the gate and waited for Captain Nierde and his warriors. When they arrived, Bly explained what they were planning to do. She told them that just as the storm had hit Mystwinter, Eldar had sent King Tarron and Queen Marissa away to somewhere he thought they would be safe from Bram Thorn.
"But you have no idea where he sent." Captain Nierde looked from Bly to Niro. "You don't even know if they made it or not. Lord Eldar could have sent them straight into the heart of Mount Mornmist for all you know."
"It's possible." Niro said confused. "But why would he want to do that? Eldar didn't seem like the type to be disloyal to Mystwinter or Tarron. I can't image he would do anything to hurt the king."
"Eldar is second in line to the throne." Nierde said aggitated. "Brothers kill each other for such advancements. That we all know is the history of royal siblings."
"But here in Mystwinter." Bly objected shaking her head. "Mystwinter has always had the noblest of royal families, loyal and true to each other. Eldar would never betray or hurt his king. Tarron is safe, that I can promise you. We just have to find him and bring him home."
"I beg your pardon Lady Bly." Captain Nierde bowed down to Bly. "The storm and all the troubles have put my mind on edge. I meant no disrespect."
"These are hard times Captain. All I ask is that you trust us a little more and we will try and bring your king and queen home to Mystwinter. Can you do that for Mystwinter?"
"I will trust you." Capt. Nierde promised. "Without you and your friends, Mystwinter would be in ruins. Bring our king home safe."
"We will do our best."
With Capt. Niedre and his men on guard, Bly and Niro headed into Mystwinter palace. From the entrance, they made their way through the ruined palace. They went over and around huge piles of rubble, broken fancy furniture and over large gaps in the floor until they made it up and into the throne room. Once inside, Niro switched to a visual spectrum that was sensitive to magic. All around the room he saw red, green and blue bands of magic. There were all kinds of spells active to the room."Whoa!" He said. "There are centuries of magic here. Spells on all the windows and doors, even some of the furniture has been enchanted."
"Do you see the spell Eldar used?"
"Not yet." Niro walked further in closer to the throne. "I see Bram's spells. His spells are black. Stay away from the throne, it's has a very dark and gloomy glow to it."
"Can we undo it?" She asked.
"I wouldn't touch it." Niro shook his head. "I don't have the training to try taking that spell apart. That's death magic, very tricky. It could backfire and kill us both."
"Then move on. Where should we look next?"
"Over here." Niro said from behind the throne. "These spells are purple. This has to be Eldar's magic."
Bly came over and put her hand on Niro's shoulder. Suddenly she could see the spells through his eyes. She looked around the room and saw all the other spells. Most of them were of colors but in more duller shades. The spell behind the throne was of a more deep, richer shade of purple."
"The richer the shade." Niro said. "The more recent the spell. This spell here was cast in less then twenty four hours. See how the spell traces that specific shape in the air. This part here is the point of origin. This last part here is the destination. All you have to do is touch the destination, then trace it back to the origin and we'll know where he sent Tarron. Then we can reverse the spell and bring them back."
"It's that simple?" Bly was surprised. "I can do that."
"But can you do it without touching any other lines?" Niro looked up at her."That's where it takes skill and precision. If you touch any of the other lines, you totally disrupt the spell and anything could happen. Do you still think you can do it?"
Bly studies the intricate design. There were many twists and turns and the lines at some points came really close, but she thought she could do it. All she had to do was be very careful, move slowly and don't let anything break her concentration.
"So how do we start?" Bly rubbed her hands together anxious to get started. Niro could see the excitement written across her face. She seemed in a rush and that was her first mistake.
"Slow down." He said. "You have to relax and be calm. Magic is all about precision, clarity and control. If you plan to trance the spell, you should listen up."
"OK." Bly raised her hands giving in to Niro's advice. "What should I do first?"
"First I want you to sit down and study the spells design. I want you familiar with every twist and turn. Every line, loop and curve until you can see it with your eyes closed, then you can start on Eldar's spell. Now take a seat."
Bly sat down in front of the spell and with her finger, traced out each line in he mind until they glowed in her memory. She went over and over each line learning its length and thickness until the spells exact measurements and dimensions were committed to her memory.
"Do you see it in you mind?" Niro asked. "Each line, each turn, can you follow it?"
"Then it's time to start." Niro's voice was strong and firm. "Reach out and touch the top corner. Don't move yet, just feel the power of the spell. Let it's power flow into you and through you. Take control of it, make it obey your command. Now we can begin, follow the first line, slow and careful."
With her finger, Bly slowly followed the line straight across, then made the first turn as sparks started to flare up. She worked slow and carefully through each line and turn as the power kept building. With every inch she felt the power intensifying. It felt like electricity building through her hand. It was beginning to burn. She was three quarters of the way through and not sure if she could make it all the way to the end. Then there was a sudden flash that caught Bly completely by surprise but it didn't stop her progress.
Standing behind her, Niro jumped as something blasted out of the spell into the air above Bly. As he watched, it streaked out like a storm and rolled all across the ceiling then formed itself into face made of energy and sent a blast down at Bly. Moving with incredible speed, Niro pulled his ax from his side and dived in front of Bly. The blast streaked in and came at Niro's like a bolt of lightning. Focusing all his strength, Niro swung out with Stormfury and batted the blast off to crash into the ceiling.
"I am Voltar." Buzzed the Elemental. "And I have been sent here to kill you."
"We'll see about that!" Niro yelled as he threw Stormfury. It hit the Electric Elemental then bounced back, hit another wall then returned to him. "Don't stop. Finish the spell or it could kill you!"
Niro leaped high and slashed through the elemental. It howled in pain and fired more strikes at him. Spinning his weapon, he caught each strike with the head of Stormfury then cast out with his earth ring causing pieces of broken masonry to fly up and attack the Elemental. Like arrows straight from the bow of a centaur, bricks and rocks flew at the elemental. They didn't cause and damage, but for a second they did distract it. That was all the time Niro needed. He run forward to the throne and leaped up at the Elemental with Stormfury raised to attack. Like the hammer of a god it crashed down onto the electrical beast sending sparks raining all over the room. Weakened by Stormfury's magic, the Elemental fell. It howled as it tried to get back up to attack. Thinking quickly, Niro grabbed a rope that was laying in a huge puddle of water and tossed one end at the fallen electric entity grounding it causing it flared up and exploded as he dived away to safety. As he sat up in the smoky room, his first thought was for Bly. He turned to the throne to find her just finishing the last turn of Eldar's spell.
"I know where they are." She said as she fell back exhausted.
Niro stood up and brushed away ash from the explosion then looked back to where the Elemental had fallen. There on the floor lay what was left of a man. He was badly burned and dying. Bly and Niro went and side at his side.
"Who is he?" Bly asked.
"This is what came out of the spell to attack us." Niro said. "He was an Elemental."
"Bram did this." She said. "Somehow he used Eldar's to trap us. He knew we would be coming here."
"Then he might go after Quynn and the others to get the rings they're searching for. We better go find them."