Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Icicle and the Snowdogs. 53

The snow in Orton had climbed to over ten feet, with snow drifts that covering the town and everything else. No crops survived, the livestock on the farms all froze to death. And any people that hadn't make it to proper shelter, froze wherever they were. But in the caves, those that made it there were safe, so far. But for how long? Outside strange noises could be heard. The howling of something strange. No one knew what it was, they had never heard it before. Everyone huddled by the fires quietly and listened.
" I don't think that was a wolf." One man said to the people in his group as they sat by a lava pit. " It's to deep."
" What could it be?" His wife asked with fear in her eyes.
" Whatever it is, its big." He said.
" What should we do?" asked another. " Someone should go out and look."
" No!" The first man said. " We should stay right here where its safe."
" This isn't safe." A woman stood.
" We're not freezing. We have food and drink." The first man said. " This is safe. Unless someone goes out there and brings it back in here."
" How long do we stay here?" The woman asks. " I hate it here."
" Would you rather be out in the cold with your family?" Kara asked as she walks over and joins them. " And whatever that is howling?"
" We could defend ourselves." The woman's husband said getting to his feet. He walked over to his belongings and pulled out a sword and held it up.
" And what do you plan to use that on?" Kara asked " The wind? the snow? If you leave, will it keep you warm? And how are you going to get out? The cave opening is covered now."
People began to gather around them to see what all the arguing was about.
" Listen to me all of you." Kara said sternly. " We're in real trouble here. Its the middle of summer and ice and snow cover all our homes and land. Do you think this is natural? Of course not. Bravosa is under attack from something magical."
" Well maybe your friends in the tower did this." The man stormed." How do we know they're not responsible."
" Cause I trust them." She said. " Whoever s attacking us, Chuy and Jona are our only hope. Haven't they kept us safe in the past? When we were invaded ten years ago, who stopped the legions of Ashonti from taking us all as slaves? Chuy and Jona. Who held off the last hurricane and the tidal wave from flooding Orton? They did! We have to trust them again."
Many of them knew she was right. Chuy and Jona had saved them before and there was no reason to think they couldn't do it again. They owed them there lives and there trust.
" Kara's right ." The farmer said. " I'll trust them. When my wife took sick, Clea and Jona sat with her and cured her. I owe them everything, so I stand with them."
" So do I." another shouted.
" And I."
Many called out there agreement. Kara smiled and hugged the farmer for his help. Then out of nowhere came another howl sending fear through all of them.
" Quickly." The farmer said. " Everyone with weapons gather them. We may have to protect ourselves."

Not much of Orton could be seen with all the snow covering it. Only the tops of houses and large building could be identified. Many homes had collapsed under the weight of the snow on there roofs. On padded feet, Snowdogs carrying snowmen roamed through what was left of Orton. Nothing moved except the Snowdogs and there masters. They where searching for something to bring Kearn. Something important.
Outside of Clea and Jona's house they caught a scent. It was the scent of a woman and strong magic. The snowmen thought this was what Kearn wanted so they ordered the dogs to follow the scent. Following behind the dogs they let them loose to track the scent through the town. Running on there webbed paws, the dogs sniffed there way from house to house until they reached the edge of town and saw the tower in front of them. Spreading out the snowmen surrounded the tower but stayed out of sight. There they waited. One of them had to go check the tower to find a way in. Slowly the lone snowmen crept to the tower and walked around it. He could find no doors or windows in the structure. But he could feel the magic energy emanating from it. So he walked back and joined the others. There they sent a message to Kearn. He ordered them to stay there and watch the tower and wait for anyone to exit. Then to bring them to him. So they did as they were told and waited.

The sun blazed down in Prafa and warmed the city as Atol sat on the wall and watched the vampires work to repair the damage done by the recent attacks. He and Aramis had decided to stay there and wait for a while until all these attacks Muerte had orchestrated where over. They knew how important some of these people actually were to Keanna and the rest of the world. There were future kings and queens among them and some very wise people that would do the world a lot of good now and in the future. Atol knew how important it was to keep them safe.
As he watched, Aramis joined him on the wall. He came and sat beside him.
" Brother." He said. " What's on your mind?"
" All of this." Atol told him. " Did you know what would happen when you created all these different types of people?"
" No." Aramis smiled." I saw good in most of them and evil in some. I hoped they all would have positive futures and some have way beyond my expectations."
" The Dragons?" He asked.
" Yes, my protector." He said. " I gave them the choice of good and evil and they made me proud."
" What about these vampires?" Atol asked.
" They were created my Muerte." He said. " She wanted them to destroy my work and it was working. But without any help from me or her, they changed. They saw life as a greater thing then death. That's what lifted there curse, there blood lust, there arrogance and made them a better people. Now both werewolves and vampires are fit to live with humans whom they once used as prey."
" And now she wants to end them all." Atol looked down at the vampire human town.
" But we won't let that happen, will we God of love?" Aramis put his arm around his shoulder.
" No." Atol said. " We can't let her win."
" Come with me." Aramis said as he stood. " It's time for our mission."
" What are you planning?" He asked.
" To do what Jax suggested." Aramis pointed up to the sky. There they saw the moon riding dimly but steadily. " We're going to find Alea and Nestor and free them."

From her throne in the underworld, Muerte sat and watch the goings on of all her minions. Things were not going good. Cressca had failed to rid Azia of its residents. They were all free now and he was battling her brother Jax. She saw Pelis had destroyed Relos but instead of moving on, he was fighting the dragons. Only Kearn looked to have success. He had frozen a whole continent and sent her many new souls. But she also knew what he had planned. To keep Bravosa for himself. He was wasting his time. She planned for all to die, snowmen to. There was no safe place from her. Dirod had yet to start his mission. All he'd done was capture the first dragon. It was time she made her move. Time she went back and began to spread her gift over the world. And not even Vitale could stop her.

" I've stopped the snow from falling." Alee told everyone in the tower. " But its still freezing out there. If I try to melt the snow, there all be flooding everywhere."
" Then everyone in the caves will drown." Clea said. " We can't do that. There has to be another way."
" I know of only one thing to do." Blink told them. " Nautica controls water. She might be able to channel it all to the sea."
" That might work." Alee said. " But he's still out there and we'd have to be exposed in order to work."
" We can protect you." Icicle said. " The four of us."
" And me." Jona stepped up.
" No." Chuy said. " You and Clea should go to the caves. Everyone there must be scared witless. We have to provide our people protection too."
" From what?" Jona asked.
" You think this Kearn is going to just let us undo what he's done?" Chuy asked his apprentice. " He's going to try and attack. And we don't know where. What if he finds the caves? He'll use all those people in someway against us."
" He's right." Blaze told them. " He'll come up with a way to use them. You can be sure of that."
" Besides, Kara will need our help assuring everyone that things will be ok." Clea told her husband. " I want to go help her." Jona wasn't sure what to do. He wanted to stay and help fight, but he knew his master was usually right and Clea would need him with her.
" Please Jona." Clea tugged on his sleeve. " Come with me."
" Ok Clea." He kissed her. " I'll come with you. But I want to be kept advised of what's going on."
" Be careful." Chuy said. " Both of you."
Jona and Clea walk down the stairs. At the bottom, Jona walked to a closet in the hall. He waves his hand in front of it then opens it. Clea looks in and finds all kinds of winter clothing. She smiles and pulls out two heavy coats and hands one to Jona. He helps her into hers then put his on.
" You don't want to go, do you?" She asks as she looks into his eyes. Jona buttoned up her coat and smiled.
" It's that obvious?"
" I know you Jona." She said. " Very well. You stay and help. I can go alone."
" Not with all that snow out there." He slid into his coat and took her hand.
" I won't leave you alone." He said. " Besides, how will you get through all that snow alone?"
" How will you?" Icicle said as he came down the stairs and came to the front hall. " You know how deep the snow is?"
" I figured I'd blast a path through it." Jona shrugged.
" That would be a great waste of magic." Icicle told them. " I could take you there or Blink could much easier."
" How?" Clea asked.
" I'm an Ice dragon." Icicle held out his hand and blew on it. A frozen little statue of the young couple formed in the palm of his hand. He handed it to Clea. " For you."
" How beautiful." She said as it danced in the palm of her hand. " Look Jona."
" It's wonderful. Thank you. We'll have to keep it cold.
" Don't worry." Icicle told them. " It won't melt, ever. I can take you over or through the snow, Blink can take you through shadows, or Blaze can melt his way through."
" We can manage it ourselves," Jona said as he ushered Clea towards the wall.
" Jona Wait!" Blink and Chuy stood at the second floor landing looking down at them. The dragon took Chuy hand and stepped into the shadow at their side and emerged from shadows next to the closet doors.
" We're not here to be your enemy." Blaze said. " We are here to help save Bravosa and all of the people."
" If you let us." Icicle said stepping over to them. " The whole world is in trouble and we need your help to save it."
" Jona, this is what dragons do." Chuy said. " I trust them. But you have to make up your own mind about them." Jona stood there confused about what to do. This ice dragon has the power to do all the things that's been happening in Orton. But of what he knew of dragons, Chuy was right. They were protectors, not destroyers. what should he do?
" Hey." Clea turned her husbands face to her. " Your magic is strong. And so is your heart. Look there for an answer." Then she kissed him.
Blink, Blaze and Icicle stepped over and held out there hand. Jona looked at them, into there eyes. There he saw something. Sincerity glowed in there eyes. His mind was made up, he would trust them.
" Icicle, could you take us to the cave?" He reached out and shook both there hands.
" Of course my friend." He smiled. " Ready when you are."
" If there's any trouble. Call us." Chuy told them as he hugged them both. "And be careful."

Outside the tower the snowmen watched and waited for someone to exit. As they watched they saw something shimmer into view. Three people emerged from the walls. Quietly they hid in the shadows there white blending in with the snow. They must be on there way somewhere. All the snowmen slowly went to there dogs and got ready to ride.

" Once I shift, climb onto my back." Icicle told them. " It won't be as cold."
Spreading his arms he shifted to his dragon form. He was as white as snow with a long barbed tail and huge wings. From his muzzle hung what looked like icicles and from his head stood two horns.
[ Climb on.]
Jona lifted Clea until she could step on the leg Icicle held out for her then she climbed up on his back. Once she was on, Jona climbed on behind her.
[ Where off.]
Spreading his wings Jona leaped into the air and climbed as he flapped his wings. From Icicle's back they could see everything. Orton seemed gone, buried under snow. Not much showed above the snow.
" Orton is gone!" Clea cried. Jona hugged her from behind and kissed her neck.
" But the people are safe." He said. " And that's cause of you."
[ I see heat over to the left.] Icicle sent. [ Is that your caves?]
" Yes it is." Jona said. " Have you always been called Icicle?"
[ That's my dragon name.] He said. [ I have a human name to.]
" May I ask what it is?" Clea asked.
[ It's Dylan.] He said. [ I haven't used it in many many years.]
" It's a strong name." Jona told him. " We had a king many years ago named Dylan Kur. He was a great leader."
[ Thank you.] He said. [Hold on. I'm landing.]
From above they could see smoke rising from thermal chimneys from the caves. With his dragon sight, Icicle could see where the cave entrance was located. That was where he decided to land. As he came down they could see the entrances was actually buried under snow. Icicle shifted and walked them to the snow covered entrance.
Jona raised his hand to blast the snow away when Icicle stopped him.
" I have an easier way." He smiled.
He raised his hands and parted the snow mound. Snow swept down from the entrance and parted to reveal the cave before them. As they stood there heat came flowing out at them in waves.
" Lets get you two inside." Icicle said.
Together they entered the cave. Torches had been placed on the walls at certain intervals apart showing them the way to go. It took less then five minutes to find the chamber that housed the people of Orton. The sounds of there voices could be heard as they approached. Entering the chamber, all eyes turned to them and all talking stopped.
" Kara!!" Clea called out.
" Here!" Came the answer. Clea turned to see Kara running toward her. They met and hugged.
" I'm so glad your all OK." Clea said,
" Whats going on out there?" She asked. " We keep hearing this strange growling."
" Coming from outside?" Icicle asked.
" Yes." Kara's husband Kuan said as he walked over carrying a sword. " We were going out to check on it when we found ourselves blocked in."
" We didn't see anything when we came in." Jona said. " But we'll check the outside just to be safe. Clea, stay here. Would you help Dylan?"
" I'm at your side." The ice dragon said when he heard his name.
" Everyone wait here." Jona said as he and the ice dragon left.
" Is there any wild beast in Bravosa that could have made those noises?" Icicle asked.
" Nothing that could have survived that storm." Jona said. " We're tropical here. It's never snowed here before. The animals are suited for heat and hot weather not this snows."
" Then this is something Kearn's responsible for." Icicle frowned. " I think I know what it is."
" What?"
" Snowmen." Icicle told him as they left the cave. He looked down and searched the snow as they walked. Searching from side to side, Icicle spotted something, Jona looked where he pointed. There he saw strange paw prints. They looked webbed but they were huge, bigger any prints he'd ever seen before.
" What are they?" He asked.
" Snowdogs." Icicle said.
" Snowmen, snowdogs? What are they?" Jona asked."
" Up in the far north there's a land that's covered with snow all year round. There are human colonies but its mostly the home of the Kensi and Snow people." Icicle explained. " Snow men can live in absolute zero degrees and live off whatever animals they can catch, even humans. They're carnivorous nomadic people always on the move. You can guess who it is they worship."
" Kearn." Jona said.
" That's right." Icicle said. " So if he's here, I'll bet he's bought his followers to."
" What do they want?" Jona asked.
" Food for one thing. And if Kearn brought them here, and that's the only way they could have gotten here." Icicle said. " They'll do whatever he wants."
" Then we better find them." Jona said.
" Come on. I think I can find them." Icicle told him. " They're cold, so being ice and snow, I should be able to sense them.""

Icicle shifted and Jona climbed on and they took off to find the snowmen. Unknown to them two snowmen had been hiding in a outcropping or rock on the side of the cave entrance. Once Jona and Icicle were gone they entered the cave. The heat was almost unbearable to them but they kept on. They were under orders from Kearn to bring him back a treasure, and that was what they would do. Following the scent they had found earlier, they moved deeper into the caves. Soon they heard voices. They looked in and saw hundreds of people in there. With a mighty roar they leaped in and started ripping people apart with their claws. Woman screamed and men grabbed weapons to fight. But the snowmen were fast. They tossed men as they searched for the one they were looking for.
" Kara, take Clea and get out of here!" Kuan yelled as he pulled his sword from its scabbard. The snowmen were heading in there direction.
" No!" Clea said. She stepped forward and raised her hands and uttered a few syllables. From her hands came a blast of energy that struck the first snowman and sent him flying back to crash into a wall. In the center of his chest, there was a large hole from her blast
" I've learned a little magic myself." She said.
Running forward, Kuan raised his sword and struck down at the other snowman. It blocked with its arm and deflected the blow. Moving quickly. Kuan stabbed at it. Feeling no pain as his sword pierced its side it backed up a little from the force of the blows. With axes and other instruments men jumped on the downed snowman and hacked at it until it was in pieces on the cave floor. As Clea readied her next blast, the snow man reached out and grabbed Kuan and threw him at her. She screamed as Kuan's body bowled into her and knocked her out.
" KUAN!!" Kara screamed.
Sniffing the air, the snowman leaped at Clea and Kuan on the floor. Kara came running at it. It pushed her away and grabbed Clea. Tucking her under its arm, it ran for the entrance batting anyone that got in front of it out of its way. With its prize captured the snowmen ran for its mount and took off across the snow.

From up high, Jona heard Clea's scream in his head. Something had happened in the cave.
" Dylan!" He said. " Clea's in trouble. We have to head back to the cave!"
[ Hold on!!]
Spinning in the air, Icicle flipped around and headed back the way he came. On the ground they saw six snowmen on there mounts riding across the snow field. Icicle dropped down and landed in front of them. Jona jumped off and sent a bolt of energy at the crowd. He knocked one off his mount and sent another towards them as the surrounded them. Icicle reared up and roared. Dropping back down he grabbed a snowman and tore him in two. Attacking with spears, all but one snowmen dismounted and came at them. Leaping to his left, the lone snowman disappeared into a cloud of snow that appeared before him. When the cloud dissipated he was gone.
" Noooo!!!" Jona screamed. Lashing out he sent bolt after bolt at the snowmen while Icicle ripped into them. Soon all the snowmen were dead on the ground. All that was left were the snarling Snowdogs slowly advancing on them. Jona gathered his power into a great ball to disintegrate the dogs when Icicle stopped him.
" They're all we have that can lead us to Clea." He sent. " Let me try something."
Shifting back to human form, Icicle stood in front of the growling Snowdogs. He cleared his mind and then sent out his dragon touch to all the dogs minds. They all stopped growling and stared at him. The biggest of them all slowly moved towards him sniffing the air. He concentrated on the lead dog and sent out strong feelings of his alpha presence. The Snowdogs ears perked up. As the snowdog stared back, Icicle felt him take a hold in his mind. It was a fight for dominance to see if he was strong enough to be his rider. Icicle pushed back with all his strength taking hold of the dogs mind and holding him down. Back and forth the mind battle went until he felt the dog give in and he heard a whimper. He looked into the dogs eyes and saw him lower his head to him. Walking forward, Icicle reached out and put his hand on the dogs face and felt an instant connection.
{ You Alpha now.}
[ What are you called?] Icicle asked. The dog panted and butted his head against Icicle sniffing him all over to imprint his scent in his mind.
{ Me Viggo.}
One by one the others stepped up to tell him there names. Rush, Tug. Mia, Geo. Runner. Each one had white fur but different markings. Viggo was the tallest with what looked like almost a check mark on his chest, Mia was his mate. She had the shaggiest fur of them all. Tug had a scar on his muzzle from fighting when he was younger. Runner and Geo were almost identical except Tug had blue eyes. Rush was the smallest of them all, but as his name revealed, he was the fastest and the one that got into things first.
After learning there names and greeting each of them, Jona came over to join them. All the dogs heads turned to him curious as to who he was. Jona stopping fearing they may attack him
" Come closer." Icicle waved. [ This is my friend. So he's your friend to. Understand?]
{Yes Alpha.} They all gathered to him an got his scent. Runner butted against him and licked him.
{ Friend?} He asked. Pushing his head into Jona's hand. Jona smile, he realized he liked these animals. He ran his hand over Runners fur feeling how soft and thick it was.
{ Come Ride.} Runner sent to him.
" We have to find my wife Runner?" Jona told him.
{Wife?} Viggo asked.
" His mate." Icicle told them. " She was carried off by the snowmen before the fight. We have to find her and get her back."
{Cold men eat her soon.} Mia sent.
" Yes, so we have to stop them." Icicle told them. " Can you find them?"
{ Yes.} Viggo said. { Snowmen bad. we help.}
" Good." Join said rubbing runners ears. " First we go to the tower, then we find Clea."
{ To wer? What that?}
" A big building with no windows or door." Jona said.
" He doesn't understand." Icicle told him as he climbed on Viggo's back. " You have to show him in your mind. If he's been there , he'll take us there."
Jona climbed on runners back. Then they both showed them the Tower of Chuy.
{ I Know big rock.}

[ Then go!] Icicle sent. Faster then any horse could ever run, the band of Snowdogs took off towers Chuys tower. They had new masters now. Masters that would treat them much better. They could see it in there minds. For once, the Snowdogs were happy to have riders.

In the tower Blink had slipped into a dark room and into shadows where he came out back in New Keanna. In his mind he called out to Ono and explain what was happening in Bravosa.
[ Your right. Nautica is you best choice.] Ono said. [ I only hope she can move that much water.]
[ I can try.] She said as she made her way to the top floor where Blink waited. [ Tell Denner where I've gone if he comes back.]
[ We will.] Shayn sent. [ Blink, you come back after you drop her off. We my need you here.]
[ I'll hurry.] Blink said.
On the top floor Nautica found him outside of the empty dark room. She smiled at him.
[ Ready?] He asked. She nodded. [ Take my hand and close your eyes.]
Hand in hand Blink opened the door. Soon as he closed it they slipped into shadows and were gone from the Manor. Cold enveloped her as they made there way back to Bravosa. In seconds they were back in Chuys tower.
" What a way to travel! " She said.
" Come meet Chuy."

Cold wind streaked pasted her face as Clea woke in the saddle riding across the snows. She shook her head to clear her thought and looked around to see where she was. She was on the back of some large animal. Fear filled her as the animal stopped running. They must have arrived at wherever they were going. She looked up into the face of the rider and saw it was a snowman. In shock she raised her hands and sent a blast into it's face knocking it off the back of its mount. She jumped down and looked around ready to run when she heard laughter. Clea turned to see Kearn standing there with more snowmen at his back. She backed up and bumped into something that growled at her. It was a great Snowdog.
" Beauty and powerful to." Kearn said. " You must be a great treasure to the dragons."
" What?" She said. " Dragons?"
" Yes my dear. Your champions, your heroes." He said as he walked toward her. The closer he came, the colder it got and Clea began to shiver. Kearn was a tall man with skin as white as snow. His winter cold emanated from him out freezing all around him. He wore a stern look on his face from his frozen heart. His head was crowned with bluish spiky hair on which he wore an icicle crown. Kearn dressed in a long white coat with black vest and a snowflake pin. Black leather pants with knee high boots finished his attire.
" They will come for you." He said and reached out to touch her face. As he did, his touch was so cold it burned her and she pulled back.
" You know how I know?" He laughed. " They are heroes, That's what they do. And it will be there deaths, and maybe yours. Maybe. I might decide to keep you as my bride. How's that sound to you? You could be queen of this frozen land, until my touch kills you."
" Your mad!! " Clea cried.
" No, I'm a god!! " He turned from her to the snowmen. " Bring her. And don't hurt her."

It didn't take Viggo and the rest of the Snowdogs long to get Icicle and Jona back to the tower. Jumping off Runners back, Jona ran to the tower and waved his hand before the wall and passed through. Icicle climbed down and pet Viggo's head.
{ We stay or find snowmen?}
" Send Rush and Geo to find the snowmen. Tell them to be careful and not to let the snowmen catch them. If they see Clea, keep a watch on her. Get her away if they can do it without being seen.
" Icicle told him. " Mia and Tug should go to the cave. Have them stay out of sight of the people. Tell them not to let any snowmen into the cave. You and Runner stay and wait for us. We'll be out soon."
{ We obey Alpha.}
Viggo trotted back to the others and gave them the orders. Mia and Tug barked there unmistakable calls and took off for the cave. Then Rush and Geo ran off in a different direction on there mission. Icicle watched them go then turned to the tower and went in.
In the front parlor on the first floor, Jona was telling Chuy what happened at the cave. Icicle saw Nautica and went and hugged her.
" How are the people in the caves?" Chuy asked.
" I don't know." Jona said. " We were so distracted by the snowmen we didn't get a chance to go back and see."
" I can go check. " Blink said. " There's plenty of shadows in those caves. I'll just slip in and see."
" Let me go with you." Nautica said.
" Why? I can do this alone." Blink said. He was puzzled why she wanted to go.
" Don't take this the wrong way brother." Icicle said. " But your a bit scary sometimes. Besides, don't you have to get back?""
" It's the dark thing I have going." he clapped Icicle on the back. " Suits me well sometimes. And yes I do. But I can drop Chuy off before I go.""
"Good. Some of them may be hurt." Chuy said. " They may need a healer. I'll go and stay with them for the time being."
Blink walked to the closet with Chuy. They turned and waved as he opened the door and took them off into shadow and was gone.
" I'm worried about Clea." Jona told them. " We have to free her as soon as we can."
" You all know Kearn's going to be expecting us to come for her." Icicle told. " That's why he took her. To draw us out to him."
" And it's going to work." Jona said as he looked from one to the other. " Right? We are going to save her?"
" Yes we are." Icicle said. " Don't worry. I sent Snowdogs to find her and keep an eye on her. If anything threatens her, they'll call us."
" So what do we do?" Jona asks.
" We have to take care of Kearn before we try and do anything about the snow." Blaze said as he paced the room. " Otherwise we expose ourselves so he can hit us while we work. Its the only way."
" I agree." Alee said from his chair. " First we get rid of the snowmen, then we get their master. That's going to be my job."
" Why you?" Jona asks.
" Fire destroys ice." He shrugs. " Besides, if any of you want to try taking on a god, be my guest. Blaze, you can generate a lot of heat but, I have to warn you, he won't be easy to defeat."
Alee looked around the room to see if anyone had any other thoughts or ideas. It seemed they all agreed with him.
" Fine, here's what we do."