Castle Roland

The Adventures of Howudino & Kashin

by Arthur


Chapter 5

Posted: 8 Aug 16


Copyright By ARTHUR

The three boys and two Gold Dragons, flew through the day and another night until they came in sight of the coast, they had stayed high in the clouds so any humans did not see them on their journey, they set down on a wide expanse of barren coastline to rest before taking on the huge ocean that lay before their startled eyes, none of the boys had ever seen the ocean and the sight of such a vast expanse scared them a little.

Food was called up by Davin and the three friends settled down to rest, their ever vigilant Dragons curled on the warm sand just above the high tide mark, the Dragons abilities would keep them safe and warn the boys of anyone approaching, it was a last chance to ready their many new possessions and prepare to eat and sleep in the saddle as their Dragons flew them Westward to what they hoped would be their new home among the Dragon Islands.

The next morning, just as the first rays of dawn could be seen in the sky, the three boys checked all their equipment, Sprat, who had talked with the other two during the night about finding a real name for himself if he was truly going to be some sort of Prince, had his sword held just like Davin in a very fancy scabbard that hung over his shoulder.

Baragil held onto his staff with one hand and slung his bow over his other shoulder just as he always had done, with their small packs hanging from a strap on the saddle, the boys mounted and got ready for the long flight ahead, wrapped and folded across their knees once mounted, were the warm cloaks made by the Messadine to be used for sleeping or to keep away the chill of flying high above the clouds.

Aktus told Davin that too the best of his Dragon knowledge, they would be in the air flying nonstop for at least three days and two nights before they could hope to see the first of the Dragon Islands, which ones none of them knew, from there they would have to find their way to the place that was to be their new home.

The strange group left Siava and took to the air high above the clouds and out of sight of any humans, it was cold even though the sun was bright above them, the boys welcomed their cloaks and tried not to think about the night when there would be no sun to partially warm them, they settled more comfortably into their new saddles and took short naps when they were able to.

Time passed slowly for the three friends, the Dragons seemed tireless and, when not using their mighty wings, would open them fully and glide soundlessly in the still and clear air way above the blue ocean below, the first day and then night passed and the boys could feel their butts starting to get tender from sitting so long but they tried hard to ignore it, they were on their way to a new life and could put up with a little discomfort for a while.

The night proved more chilly than any of them expected, trying to nap as best they could while huddled closely in their cloaks, the boys now and again shivered in the chill, to prevent too much cold affecting the boys, the Dragons dropped low above the ocean to fly during the dark hours, this helped relieve the temperature on the boys but their speed still sent cold chills through them every now and again.

The second day dawned and this time the Dragons stayed lower, they were well away from any prying humans eyes and the boys would enjoy the heat of the sun at the lower heights, the trio ate as they flew, Davin unable to call up any meals in the confines of his saddle, the small bits and pieces they had prepared for the trip would have to be enough for them until they found the Islands.

By the end of the second night, the boys were starting to anxiously look for any sign of the far off Islands, as the dawn broke and the Dragons lifted a little high in the morning sky, the boys tried to move around a little to ease the now very painful sore spots on their butts, while the saddles were well made and comfortable for shorter journeys, they were not made to be sat in for the extended periods that the three had had to endure.

It was an hour after the full sun had risen above the horizon when both Dragons suddenly lifted their heads and looked hard towards the West, a tingle of excitement seemed to run through all five figures as, far off and higher than they were flying, the group of five saw what looked like a huge brown mass moving towards then, it was like a low lying cloud even with the use of the Far Sight, in the lead appeared to be a bright spot of sunlight, it glinted and reflected the strong sun as the huge mass moved towards them.

Both Aktus and Baraset immediately flapped their huge wings and began to lift up higher above the ocean, if this was danger it would be better for them to have some height to fight from, the boys were too shocked at the sheer numbers approaching them to even think of danger, slowly their Far Sight made it easier for them to see the large mass of Dragons flying towards them and led by a huge Gold Dragon with two small riders, the Dragon looked easily to be larger than their own ones.

The time passed quickly as the two groups came closer and closer, suddenly they were only a few hundred metres apart, the three boys could now see just how much larger the Gold Dragon in the lead really was, the mass of Browns behind him were about the same size as their own two Dragons, the boys were outnumbered and out sized.

Slowly the two groups converge on each other, once they were only a few metres apart, the browns changed into strange formations and began to set a thick cordon of fighting Dragons around the group with the Gold's at the centre, Davin noticed that they did not set up their ranks facing inwards but outwards, they were in a protective mode for those at the centre.

The Rider of the large Gold was the first too speak.

"Welcome Riders, I am Prince Kashin and this is my Consort Prince Seb and my Dragon, Prince of Tallas Weir, Howudino, how are you named?"

Davin decided to take the lead.

"I am Davin of Ferringol and this is my Dragon Aktus, we are seeking a place called Mastik."

"Welcome Prince Davin and Aktus of Mastik, we have been waiting for you to arrive and who is the other Rider?"

"I am called Sprat also of Ferringol and this is Baragil of the Wood Elves of Siava and my Dragon Baraset."

"Then welcome Prince Sprat and Consort Prince Baragil, also welcome to you Baraset, Prince of the United Weirs we would escort you all to Tallas Weir where I am sure you can rest in safety, you have all had a long flight and there is still a full day to get to Tallas so, if you would like, we can get away now?"

"Thank you Prince Kashin, we would really like to get out of these saddles for a while." Davin replied.

With the greetings over and everyone now in one group, the three friends watched as the mass of over two hundred Brown Dragons took up a defensive square around them and they turned Westward, the three friends were at last glad they did not have much further to go, their nether regions were really feeling the strain of the long days in the saddle.

It was late in the afternoon when the trio saw Tallas Weir for the first time, what they had at first thought was a dark cloud on the horizon turned out to be a smoking volcano, it was for this tall landmark that their escort directed them, not long after, they were surprised to see the great Weir of Tallas, their escort took them down to the great stone landing place at the mouth of the cavern.

Around the boys the Browns landed in perfect ranks, the great Gold Dragon, Howudino was the last to land, all the Browns riders lifted their swords in salute to the Princes of Tallas Weir, the trio of friends were overawed at the numbers and size of the Weir, with Howudino in the lead, the friends were taken inside the cavern where more Dragons stood in ranks around the massive space, these were Bronzes and the boys were told by their own Dragons that they were females.

Once everyone had arrived in the main cavern with Kashin and Seb on their stone thrones at the head of the large space, the three boys were invited to come to the front below the thrones, their Dragons were invited by Howudino to sit by the lava pool and fill their empty bellies.

When the three friends were standing below Kashin and Seb, they were told about the war that had just been fought and the result of the battle, it was then explained that Mastik had enough Dragons survive to defend itself but the other two Weirs had suffered great losses, to this end Tallas Weir who now had control of the two Weirs, had decided to combine the two that had the greatest losses into one Weir, this one was to be known by all as the United Weir, it was this Weir that Sprat would now be Prince of, they were also told that as the three Weirs were the spoils of war, they could actually be claimed by Tallas but they would much prefer them to have their own Princes with independence of action.

After all this was explained to the trio, Kashin then asked for one more thing before they went to eat and rest. Kashin continued to explain everything to the boys, he told them about the two Generals that were watching over their Weirs until the boys took over, he also offered to let the Generals stay with the boys until they could rebuild their numbers, at the same time Howudino was also explaining all to the two new Princes as they took great gulps of the hot lava to replenish their bodies after the long flight.

"You three must understand that from now on you are not bound by Human laws or standards, you will now live by the rules of Creator and the laws of Dragons, and under Dragon law as I have already told you, we could claim the three Weirs as spoils but that is not what we want, we would like you to swear fealty to Tallas Weir and take over your own places, if in the future there is a need for your help we would want you to come to our aid, for this fealty we offer you and your Dragons the use of our lava pool or the live volcano, we would also retrain your Dragons so if we go into battle together we will all fight the same, I know you have a lot to talk over and think about so, we will have a great feast brought out and afterwards you can tell us your decision."

"What if we say no and want to go to our Weirs alone?" Davin asked.

"Then we will give you your freedom but if you are attacked, which is very likely to happen as your Weirs are weakened by the last war, we would not feel bound to help you, you would be on your own, if you decide to offer your fealty to Tallas Weir we would make sure you are never alone if attacked, is there anything else that worries you?"

Davin looked at Sprat and Baragil; both shook their heads and waited for Davin to take the lead once again.

"No thank you Prince Kashin, we will think it all over and give our answer in the morning if it pleases you?"

"Thank you Prince Davin, yes that will be fine, I know this is all new too you three but we must have some sort of alliance if we are to all go forward together, I have been told there is a bad time coming and the only way we can survive it is if all of us work together."

"Yes Prince Kashin, we know about the bad time ahead, I've had a dream and it's not good, as you can see we carry three weapons that may help us, we are told that my sword is the Sword of Plenty, Sprats is the Sword of Realms and Baragil's staff is the Staff of Life, we only have to find the last of the four and we have a chance of winning the next big battle."

Kashin smiled as he drew out Dragons Claw, its white blade suddenly flashed and a shower of sparks shot from the point, they then split into three streams and jumped onto the three weapons of the boys, no one in the great cavern knew how long they had been asleep but it must have been some time, as they all began to wake up, Davin, Sprat and Baragil looked at each other and smiled, they had found the Sword of Vengeance, they watched as the two Princes on their thrones opened their eyes and stared around the slowly waking cavern.

Kashin shook his head and looked the three smiling boys.

"I guess you have been through that before by the look on your faces."

"Yes." Davin replied, "It happens every time we found one of the items, I guess that answers any questions we might have had."

Davin looked at his two friends, with a nod from each, he turned back to Kashin.

"We don't need to think any longer Prince Kashin, we would like to swear fealty to Tallas Weir, it's obvious we were meant to be together."

By this time the rest of the Dragons and Riders had awoken and were watching the three Princes and their Consorts to see what would happen next, Davin was the first to move followed quickly by Sprat and Baragil as Davin went down on one knee, once the three friends were kneeling on the stone floor, Davin drew the Sword of Plenty and was soon followed by Sprat and Baragil as they also followed his lead, once all four weapons were out in the open, Davin led his friends in the oath of fealty.

It was not a set out oath but one he made up as he went but for all of the Princes, Consorts and Dragons, it was enough to show their intentions, when Davin finished his words, the three boys lifted their weapons and Kashin joined them, as the four magical weapons touched, the cavern was again filled with a flash of magical aura, everyone in the Weir felt the sudden jolt of pure power fill them with a renewed vigour, it was then only a matter of minutes before large quantities of food and mead began to flow and the new Princes settled down to a very long night of feasting and drinking, even as tired as the three boys were, they could not resist the atmosphere in the Cavern, it would be well after midday before the three would open their eyes to a new world and a new life.

For five days the three friends stayed at Tallas Weir, most of the time was spent with Prince Kashin and the Generals to learn the new style of tactics used by the Tallas Dragons, it was also a chance to get to know each other more intimately.

On the morning of the sixth day, they told Kashin they felt it was time to move to their own Weirs, Davin had been told that he would have a little more than one hundred and twenty Dragons to protect the Weir whereas Sprat would only have about seventy in the United Weir, to this end Kashin also sent an extra twenty Browns from Tallas to help until Sprat could have his numbers built up, with those already there under the General, they should be safe from attack until a better strength was achieved.

Unlike the Royal Gold's; Browns took six months to mature, they then had to find their Riders after which they went into training with the older Browns, the Browns were the product of the Bronze females whereas the Gold's were a gift of Creator and their magic was so much stronger, all of the Princes hoped they would have time to rebuild before the troubles started as had been foretold.

For the next year, the Weirs built their numbers, Kashin sent out messengers to other Weirs further away to tell of the coming troubles, only Palomar Weir refused to listen to the warning and ignored Kashin's request for an alliance.

Palomar Weir was one of the largest of all the Weirs, it numbered over six hundred Browns, the only reason it had not attacked any of the closer weirs to Kashin was the distance involved, they were on the far outer edge of the Dragon Islands, the distance making it difficult to attack any Weir without being seen on their approach.

By the end of the year Kashin had gathered all of the other Weirs under one alliance, they could now put over two thousand Browns in the air when the time came, as a peace offering, Kashin had made it clear that when the time came to fight, all Dragons would have the use of the live Volcano and the Lava pool inside Tallas, even the lowliest Brown knew it was an offer that could not be brought for any price and also it showed the new alliance members that Tallas Weir was prepared to give its best asset to its friends.

There was also the added advantage of the new tactics that Tallas Weir shared with the alliance, within months the thousands of Browns were performing drills never before seen in the air above the Weirs, no matter which Weir the Brown came from, he could immediately slot into any formation with the others, they had now all become a formidable fighting force.

Every two weeks all the Royal Dragons would gather in one Weir or another, each taking turns as host of the alliance, it was here that problems were solved and tactics revised or created, it had been decided that the host of the Weir would be the head of the meeting at that time, this way everyone had the same authority and no one had a position that gave them an advantage over others, the leaders of the twelve Weirs all had the same vote on decisions, if there came a tied vote it would go back for more discussion until a clear vote settled everything.

It had become the norm for the four magical weapons to be laid on a stone table when the holders arrived at a meeting, the weapons would stay there as a reminder for all that they must work together if they were to succeed in the upcoming troubles, and when it came it was without warning or pity.

The meeting was being held at Mastik Weir, each Gold had brought an escort of only ten Browns as was normal, while they met inside the Weir, the Browns would gather together and play at war games or other sports favoured by Dragons, it was while the Browns were playing a game much like follow the leader, that one of them saw three Browns flying in their direction from the north, this was unusual as the only Weir in that direction was Palomar.

As one of the Browns dived towards Mastik Weir, the others set out to intercept the three lone Browns, they were flying in a very close formation with the two outsiders almost touching their wings on the Brown at the centre, as the Browns got closer they could see that all three were badly injured, the Rider of the middle Dragon was barely able to hold on.

One of the officers of Mastik Weir drew closer and called out to the three.

"Who are you and what does a Dragon of Palomar want this far south?"

"We are all that's left of Palomar, the Weir has been destroyed, we've come for help and to bring a warning to the Weirs of the South." One of the outer Dragons said.

As the mass of Browns surrounded the trio, they could now see more clearly that the two outer Dragons were using their small amount of magic to help the Rider of the centre Dragon, all showed signs of a bad fight, there were scales missing and large gashes in their hides, the Riders were also bloody and their armour was now ragged where it had been struck with both fire and weapons, all three Riders were injured but the centre Rider was the worst of the three with a very deep gash in his side.

The mass of Browns whirled as one and escorted the three survivors down to Mastik Weir where the twelve Gold's awaited them, already the alarm was being sent out via fast flying messengers to prepare all the alliance Weirs, every Dragon was to head for Tallas and begin to fill themselves from the Volcano and Lava pool in readiness for the Royal Dragons return, the time of the troubles had arrived with a vengeance.

When the three survivors had landed at Mastik Weir, their Riders were taken immediately to the Messadine for aid, the three Dragons were brought before the twelve Gold's to make a report on what had attacked them and how they had done it, to the council of twelve it was important to have tactics to counter the threat.

While the two most injured of the Browns tried to rest, the third started with the report.

"Princes, the Palomar Weir is no more, we are the last survivors, had it not been for our Prince ordering us to find you, we also would have perished, the threat is vast and the horde was more than I have ever seen, they are a species of Dragon I have never heard of and they number in the thousands, at least three or four thousand to be more precise, their tactics are unknown to us and, while we were much greater in size and strength, they swarmed over us like insects."

The Prince of Salum Weir asked the Dragon.

"Can you tell us everything you saw before leaving to come here, the way they fought, their tactics, their fire power, anything you think may help to stem their attack?"

"They are smaller than us but built longer and thinner, they have two sets of small wings, one set above each pair of legs, with the smaller wings they are not as fast as we are but they are by far more agile, they seem to be able to use their wings either together for speed or independently for manoeuvrability, their leader rides a larger Dragon which is more yellow than gold but the Rider carries some form of staff that has a vast power, it is green with a yellow crystal at its tip, from what we saw he can only use it once then has to wait for it to gain power again. They do not seem to have any innate magic like we do but make up for it by swarming an opponent, their fire is small and only good at a short distance, it also dries up after only two or three blasts, they then come in close in big numbers and swarm over a Dragon, from what we saw, they will have two attack the underbelly of a Dragon while two more attack the head, there will then be two or three that concentrate only on the Rider."

The Brown paused to think things through while the Princes talked about what they had so far heard, a minute later and the Brown continued with his report.

"Their agility seems to be their best weapon, unlike us they don't fly in a straight line, their body seems to undulate much like a snake, they can also use both ends to attack, while you attack their head they can turn their body right around so the tail is striking at you even while you hold its head, their tail flukes are like sharp swords and they have a compound in their teeth that can eat away our scales, the main army is a very dark brown, at a distance they look to be black but close up you can see that their true colour is brown, when we left there were ten of us but for some of us to fully escape, seven of our number formed a rear guard to let us get away, had we stayed together we would never have made it and you would be at their mercy."

Again the Dragon stopped while the Princes discussed the report, quickly Sprat volunteered to have the three Browns join his Weir, which was quickly agreed to, next came a discussion on how they could counter the many advantages that the enemy had, as in the last battle it was decided that they would be best to pick their own battle ground, the unknown factor of the Yellow Rider and his power was a concern, even with their own four weapons of magic they could not be sure of being in the right place to counter the power of the Riders staff.

Davin, as the Prince of Mastik and leader of the meeting, told the Brown to go with his friends and rest, when he felt better he could talk with Sprat on how they could fit into the United Weir, it was now time to try to work out some new tactics to counter this threat from the North, the most worrying was the Rider with the magical staff, they had no knowledge of such a staff and none of the Dragons present had ever heard of such a thing.

The talk of tactics went on far into the night, by the time the first rays of sunlight were brightening the land, they had formed a plan of defence, they would only be able to take the attack to the enemy after they had reduced its numbers, it had been decided that as the three princes held swords of magic, they should each lead one section of the army, that way they would at least have their own weapons to work as a counter to the other leaders staff whichever group met them first.

The main basis of their defence would be their superior speed and strength as well as their Dragon Magic, it was also decided to use similar hit and run tactics with Howudino and Kashin forming the thick mists and clouds again, they would use the many smaller Islands that abounded as staging points for the attacks, no Dragons were to stay and fight the main enemy army, they would move in fast using their superior speed, strike hard and withdraw, every Dragon would be fed fully at Tallas Weir on fresh hot Lava, it would give them the fire power for a long fight.

The sneak attacks would be with fire from a distance, once they had disabled or killed a number of the smaller Dragons, they were to disappear back into the mist before the enemy got close enough to strike, they would keep this form of attack up as long as it was needed or until the enemy was beaten, if they reduced his numbers to much like their own two thousand, then they could perhaps go in for the kill en-mass.

They would also not use the same Island time after time, they would attack from one place no more than twice then retreat past another prepared Island where a fresh group would take over while they went to rest, they would retreat back slowly until they had a numerical advantage, that would be when they would try to strike a final blow.

Next was the division of the army into three groups, each sneak attack would contain one hundred Dragons so that each Dragon group could send up a number of attacks before retreating and letting one of the other groups take over, it was decided that Kashin would take one thousand Dragons as a last line of defence in case the worst happened, Sprat and Davin would have about five hundred each, the other nine Gold's would lead the smaller groups of one hundred into the actual attacks, it was up to them to make sure they retreated from the attack before they themselves came under attack from the swarm.

At mid morning, the meeting broke up and the Dragons headed back to their Weirs to ready for the upcoming battle, Kashin hurried off to make sure the Weir was ready to receive the many Dragons that had to use the Volcano and Lava pool, once home he sent out a number of Bronze females to the north, they were to stay high and not engage the enemy at any cost, as soon as they saw and noted the position of the enemy they were to return and report, Kashin hoped they had at least a couple of days before the attacks began, he would need that much time to get everything ready and assemble all the forces available to him.

The return of the first Bronze gave Kashin a little hope, something the Dragon of Palomar had missed during the battle that had virtually wiped out the Weir, the Bronze had been a little lower than the other dragons as a sea mist had moved in when she first spied the mass of dark Dragons, as soon as they saw her they climbed to the attack however the Bronze had done exactly as told by Kashin and climbed for height, her speed giving her the advantage, as she glanced behind her she saw the smaller Dragons trying desperately to catch her.

She had put on a little more speed and then saw that the dark Dragons with their smaller wings, did not have the lift of the larger Bronzes and so, after trying to gain height for more than a minute, the smaller Dragons had to call off the pursuit of the Bronze as she gained even more height, when fully out of range, the Bronze had turned for the home Weir to report.

As she told Kashin about her discovery he began to see another way to cut their numbers, with the added use of height they would be able to attack but still stay out of range of the horde, his old tactic of attacking both from above and below would work even better with the lack of height reachable by the smaller Dragons, Kashin sent out a report to all Weirs on the new discovery and the revision of the initial plan to include high attacks.

The bronze female had estimated that the Dragons would reach the first of the Islands in the Northern chain in about one and a half days, it was time for Kashin and Howudino to set things in motion, to this end he sent out a messenger to the Mastik Weir, Davin would lead the first attack but split his force to work from both below and above just as they had in the original battle of Tallas.

Davin sat on his Dragon with the three hundred, below, hidden by the thick mists called up by Howudino, lay two hundred more waiting for the first appearance of the dark horde, it was almost like the dream Davin had had so long ago, with the rising sun behind them, Davin's Dragons were almost invisible to the approaching horde, they did look much like a growing dark cloud as they swept over the horizon, as yet Davin could not make out the lead Dragon, if he was with the horde then he was well hidden among the others, the worry about the upcoming battle began to disappear as Davin realised this leader was not a true fighter.

The great mass of sinuous Dragons closed on the first Island, as soon as they were thought to be in range, one hundred Browns flew from the hiding place, they were all in one single line which enabled them to cover more of the vanguard of the attackers, once within range, the Browns began to pour molten fire into the massed ranks, the smaller dark Dragons began to fall like burning leaves, the massed fire taking a heavy toll.

When it looked like they had done enough damage, the Browns turned and fled back into the mist as the second line appeared, they too blasted the now disorganised ranks with more heavy fire then turned and disappeared, as the last Brown disappeared into the mist, Davin drew the Sword of Plenty and waved it in a circle above his head, this was the signal to form up line astern, in this formation he led the three hundred Browns in a long low pass above the rear and upper fliers of the horde, each dragon emitting a long sustained blast of molten fire as they passed over the smaller Dragons below them.

At the sign of more Dragons above them, the dark horde tried to turn and chase them back up into the sky, once again the superior size and speed of the Browns saved them from a frontal confrontation as they out ran the chasers, when the chasers had reached their maximum height, Davin turned his Browns and dived on them once again, the bright blue morning sky was filled with the fluttering of burnt Dragons as the fire tore through their ranks, but still the horde came on, they seemed to be unending in their numbers.

The two hundred from the Island mists had now joined Davin high up in the sky, as yet he had not lost a single Dragon, the surprise had been total, the losses for the dark horde as yet could not be established but they were heavy and yet it did not slow them, from high above Davin reset his lines, this time he dived in with all five hundred Dragons in two tiers, one above the other, the solid wall of fire that met the horde was like a stone wall, just as they got close enough for the enemy to retaliate, Davin swung his sword and they all twisted in the air and ran for height once again leaving the horde in disarray.

Once back at height, Davin reset his Dragons into small groups of ten, with fifty units he began to snipe at the dark Dragons from all directions always running back for the height advantage they held, it was at this time, with smaller units operating over a far larger area, that Davin saw the leader for the first time, he was placed near the centre of the horde and well protected, Davin lost any respect for him as soon as he saw where he had been hiding, the thick blast of yellow light from the leaders staff soon made Davin start to re-think his opinion.

In that one single blast, Davin lost five Dragons from one unit, their wings scorched until they were no more than stubs, their little Riders hung limp in their saddles, whatever the staff was, it was powerful, Davin called thirty Dragons to his side, with his own ten he now had a force of forty, forming up into a wedge shape, he led the dive towards the leader at the centre of the horde, his sword was vibrating in his hand and beginning to glow brightly.

As his Browns sprayed fire into the guarding horde, Davin aimed his sword as best he could at the leader, the bright bolt of power left the sword and struck the staff even though Davin was trying for the leader, his results however were just as effective, the leader was jolted as his staff took the full force of the blast from Davin, as the leader swayed in his saddle, Davin lead the others back out of range, the leader immediately being surrounded and covered by many of the dark Dragons.

It was not the losses that made Davin begin his retreat but sheer numbers, as they fought from above, others of the horde slinked through below them and down onto the Island, Davin decided it was time to pull back to the next Island where Sprat and Baragil waited with their five hundred, by the Gold Dragons communicating to each other, Davin was able to report his battle and the tactics he had used to the best effect, how many of the enemy had been sent to their deaths he did not know but they were many but still the horde flew on as though unaffected by the losses, they seemed never ending as the horizon filled with more and more.

As he retreated, Davin kept up the continual sniping, he also noticed the leader had not used the power of his staff again, perhaps he had damaged it or the leader in some way, it was after midday when they flew past the second Island in the chain, as his own Dragons flew on to get some rest from the continuous fighting, Davin slowed beside Sprat and Baragil, he took some time to relate all they had done and seen and the tactics they had used even though the Gold's had already passed on the information amongst themselves.

Sprat and Baragil decided to take all five hundred Browns down into the mist, it was one way of changing tactics so the horde would not know what was happening next, they would attack en-mass up through the mist and make for the heights, there was the risk of losses by driving through the very centre of the horde but, if it was effective, it could disrupt the masses further.

Sprat and Baragil estimated they had a couple of hours before the masses arrived, it appeared they had slowed to feed at the first Island while smaller groups went ahead as scouts, they were quickly picked off by the last of Davin's Browns as the other two stayed hidden in the mist, there was one more Island to defend before they were able to make it to the point where Kashin waited with the larger force, it was here that they would make their final stand with all the Dragons together, Kashin was still working on tactics for the larger force, with luck they would have a full night to get ready.

Sprats battle went very much like Davin's, they cut through the centre of the massed Dragons breathing molten fire in all directions and driving straight up and through to gain height, of the leader there had been no sight, during the charge, Sprat lost ten Browns in the melee that came as the last Dragons tried to gain height and join the rest, it was felt by every Brown in the group but did not take away from the huge losses of the horde.

After reaching height, Sprat divided his forces into units of fifty and then returned to the dive and retreat tactic, there was a noticeable lessening of numbers in the horde but they still did not give up trying to reach the larger Browns above them, it was as though something unworldly was driving them on, Sprat's Dragons took their toll on the masses but were still vastly outnumbered, it was time make for where Davin waited at the third island, they had about four hours of daylight left.

The last plan was to harry the horde for an hour then retreat towards where Kashin waited with the rest of the Brown army, the leader had still not put in an appearance, this alone was a worry as there had to be more going on than they were aware of, Sprat led the first fifty into the attack, the same tactics were continued in dive and run, there was little cohesion in the vast ranks of the dark Dragons but they still tried to attack the larger Browns in any way they could devise.

When Sprat thought the time was right, he called off the attacks and directed his army towards where Davin waited for them, the dark horde of smaller dragons were hot on their heels but unable to make the height to do any damage to their retreat, as his Browns came over the misty Island where Davin lay hidden, Sprat once again massed his Dragons after waiting for the following horde to close up on them, with a flash of his sword he went into a fast dive towards the middle of the army below him, at the same time Davin appeared at speed from the mist, with a little correction, Sprat hit the upper echelons of the horde just as Davin hit them from below, for the horde it was total confusion, as the two armies drove through them from above and below at the same time.

With the raging torrent of fire from the browns, Sprat, Davin and Baragil never got the chance to use their own weapons, not that they wanted to get caught in the middle of the mass of small Dragons that they were carving into, once both armies were well clear, they looked back at the carnage they had wrought, it was not a pretty sight, burnt and dead Dragons were spiralling towards the waters below or landing in a cloud of sand and mist into the Island.

With little more than an hour until dark, Davin called off the continuous attacks and they turned and sped towards the last far off Island where Kashin waited for them, with luck they would be able to go on through to Tallas Weir to replenish their bellies with fresh Lava, they were still able to fight but with the chance to top off they felt better.

It was just on dark when they made the rendezvous with Kashin, after a quick exchange about the earlier battles, the boys set off for Tallas Weir, they would be away for two hours then return to wait for daybreak, tomorrow was going to be the final day of battle, win or lose, they now had no more backup to continue with a long drawn out fight, it was time for the final curtain.

The first streaks of dawn were showing in the sky as the mass of Browns lined up in their pre-ordained positions, with all the help arriving from every Weir in the Islands, they now numbered over three thousand, the final battle would be conducted from up high, there would be no low flying formations, they were going to use their distinct height advantage.

There were now twelve Gold Dragon Princes, each representing one of the twelve Weirs, all had agreed that Tallas Weir would lead them into this last battle for their Island homes, the army of Browns had been divided up into units of five hundred which gave them all two Gold Dragon Princes to each unit, the tactics had been worked out and all the Dragons knew what they had to do and what lay in front of them, this was the final battle for the islands, if they lost they would have nowhere to go for those who survived and their females would be at the mercy of the Dark Hordes.

The three Gold's hovered high above the massed Browns, their only advantage was that of fire and height, the Horde had the numerical advantage but their fire was small and relatively ineffective against their larger foes, the first signs of the enemy could now been seen on the horizon, it was a dark smudge as the first rays of the sun grew stronger.

To those watching from their lofty place, the horde did not seem to have decreased even after the horrific losses it had sustained over the last battles, it was the sharper eyes of Howudino that saw the reason for the increase in the horde, far to the rear of the enemy, Howudino saw a bright yellow glow, it was not that which drew his attention, they all knew the leader had some magical powers with his staff, what brought his attention was the unbelievable sight of a rent in the very fabric of the sky itself, Howudino sent his thoughts to Kashin as he saw what was happening.

"Their wizard is using very old magic, he is calling up forces of the long ago, that's where he is getting his army from, we have to find a way to stop him before he floods this realm with those who have long passed, tell the others, we need to find a way to stop him."

Kashin called the others closer and then explained what Howudino had seen, as they sat and watched, the massed Horde grew closer, with the rising sun behind them, the defenders were almost invisible so high in the morning sky, Howudino had made large tracts of mist close to the ground in the hope the enemy would be watching that instead of above them, it was just a ruse to keep them from seeing the defenders until too late.

The four boys talked over what Howudino had seen and looked for a way to stop the Wizard from getting more of the enemy through his sky gate, it was sprat who came up with an answer, if all three Gold Princes could come together and touch wings, he would use the sword of realms to take them next to the Wizard, by the use of all four magical weapons, they should be able to finally take down the Wizard and turn the tide of battle before it got started, it was a dangerous plan as the glow of the Wizards staff could be seen far behind the mass of attackers, they would have to work fast and fight hard then escape if they hoped to return to their homes.

The three Gold Dragons hovered close to each other, their great wings touching as Sprat raised his sword high over his head, there was a faint feeling of weightlessness then the three Golden Dragons and their Riders were hovering almost beside the Wizard, they were close enough to see not only the shock on his face but the fear as well, his own staff began to shake in his hands as the three turned in his direction, their magical weapons at the ready.

Knowing that the Wizard could not fight them all at the same time, the three Dragons split up and attacked from three sides, much to the horror of Davin, the scene was reminiscent of his almost forgotten dream, as they attacked, the Wizard raised his staff and a bright flash of power shot towards Howudino and Kashin, although they were protected by their magical shield, the blast was so powerful that Howudino staggered in his flight, Davin then saw the prince consort behind Kashin slump in his saddle while Kashin looked as though he had been hit by a bolt of lightning.

The sudden attack by the Wizard made the other boys pause, Howudino shook his massive head as he dropped a hundred feet then turned and strove to gain height again as the others drove at the Wizard, he was now without power to his staff and tried to counter their charge by using the more agile abilities of his smaller Gold Dragon, the fight became a free for all aerobatic display as one after the other the boys tried to bring the Wizard down.

The fight had begun to bring unwanted attention from the Horde of Dark Dragons, as they took notice of the small fight above and behind them, the other defenders of the Island Dragons, dived into the attack if for no other reason than to take the attention of the Horde from the private battle going on in the back ground.

Howudino and Kashin recovered but Seb was still slumped in the saddle, as they flew back into the battle, Kashin suddenly realised his Consort was limp and unresponsive, with a loud cry that almost shook the very air around them, Kashin raised his sword of Vengeance and rose to the battle, the Wizard had been evading the others just long enough to get power back into his staff as he raised it once again, the boys saw the action and raised their own weapons as if to deflect the Wizards power.

The Wizards staff this time was not glowing with yellow power but was now shining bright with an unholy red rage as though it would spit fire at the three attacking Dragons, as the battle with the Horde raged below them, the boys felt the power of their own weapons, as the Wizard stuck forward at Davin with his staff, all four weapons of the boys suddenly started to vibrate and glow, as the Wizards staff released its shaft of bright red power, the four weapons of the boys suddenly increased their glow.

With an astounding crackling of magical power, the four weapons of the boys sent their own bright lance of power towards that of the wizards staff, as they all met in the middle between the two battling groups, the blast of the boys weapons joined making one single and very powerful beam of light, the results were far more than the boys could have expected, as the shaft of power from their weapons struck that of the Wizards staff, there was another shattering crack of energy, as the bright blast of light faded and the boys eyes once again could see after the explosion, they saw the results of the clash of magical power.

Kashin looked around at his other friends, they all showed the same look of exhaustion as he did, the powerful blast of raw magic had drained them all, of the Wizard there was little to be seen but the sight did bring a touch of satisfaction, both the staff and the Wizards arm below the elbow were missing, all that remained was a shrivelled burnt stump, the Wizard was slumped in his saddle and his Gold Dragon was trying valiantly to maintain his ability to fly, its wings were singed and his scales were blackened and buckled, there was no sign of movement from the slumped Wizard.

The air around the small battle field seemed silent although the main battle raged on, as Kashin looked to the masses below them, he was surprised to see a large force of the female Bronze Dragons flying quickly into the fray, this was unheard of as females were not known for their fighting skill, as he watched the unusual occurrence, the females lined up much like their male counterparts and, with long hot blasts of raw fire, they descended on the whirling mass of the dark Horde, with the additional females arriving as they did, the Horde began to break apart, there was nowhere for them to go so they tried to fight but their efforts were becoming more and more useless as the larger Browns and Bronzes took their toll.

The numbers of Browns and Bronzes had increased their numbers to well over four thousand, the Horde was now outnumbered, as more and more fell to the ground those that remained tried as best they could to escape by any means they could, it was now a rout and the Browns took an even greater toll, as the last few Dark Dragons tried to escape, the Bronze females turned back towards the Weir, they had provided just enough support to turn the tide of the battle, the clean up was now the work of the more and better trained Browns.

Kashin called his friends to his side, all their faces had the same look of weary satisfaction, loosening his thigh straps, Kashin turned in his saddle to look over Seb, his Consort was still breathing but unconscious, hoping his Seb would be alright, Kashin gave the command to pursue the last of the Horde, the ground far below them was littered with their dead and dying.

It was towards dusk before the last of the combined Weir's Dragons landed at Tallas Weir, they had pursued the last of the Horde to well outside of the Islands boundaries, Tallas now had the largest gathering of Dragons ever seen in the Islands, every weir, friend or foe had turned up to defend their homes and were now welcomed as friends into Tallas Weir where every Messadine had begun to prepare a large feast, it was also time to pay tribute to those who had fallen in the battle.

The combined Weirs had not got off scot-free, they had lost one hundred and ninety Dragons, two of which were Golds, the females had also lost twenty in the brazen attack on the Horde, for the first time in any Dragons memory, every Weir had fought alongside each other, Kashin looked around at the camaraderie that was being shown, perhaps, he thought, we can make something of this and stop all the small wars between the Weirs, however it felt it was not the time to mention it, they all needed time to relax and tell stories of bravery and battles.

In the back of his mind Kashin was still worried about Seb, he had been taken away by some of the Messadine elders for care, they had assured Kashin that it was only the effect of the magical power that had knocked him out and that he would recover with time, Kashin looked around the large hall, Dragons were for the first time feeding on the raw Lava pool, the looks of enjoyment at being given such a chance did not go unnoticed by those who were used to feeding in such a way, perhaps, Kashin thought, this could be a start to unite all the Weirs.

The night drew on and it was late before the Dragons and their Riders began to seek a place to sleep away the heavy eating and drinking, Kashin had called for all the surviving Gold Dragons to meet the next day in the hopes of settling any outstanding issues and try to bring a sense of peace and cooperation, the meeting would be held the day after next and all the Dragons were welcomed to stay at Tallas Weir until everything had been settled, this announcement had been greeted with cheers as members of each weir realised they now had a common bond, one that had been forged by battle as well as losses, it boded for a new future of the island Weirs.


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