The Dragons of Keanna - Book II
by Jandar Tyr
The Gods can be Cruel
With his family in bed asleep, Tomar sat at his desk and went over the reports of the last few week. They were all reports of strange man-like beast in the forest around New Keanna. Tomar knew the forest very well and had no idea where they were coming from. They hadn't been here long, that he knew, only a few weeks. The problem was that the road into New Keanna wasn't safe anymore for anyone to travel. Supplies had to be flown in now from the ships in the bay. And that took time. Besides, now no one was safe outside the gate, and that had to be remedied. So far six people including Aramis and Jack had been attacked. There injuries ran from broken bones to slashes and cuts. So far no one had been killed, but that was just luck. Soon someone would be noticed missing and there remains would be found during a search. Tomar knew it was time it do something. A sound from the front entrance caught his attention. Someone was knocking at the door. Tomar got up and went to see who it was. He opened the door and found Aramis there with a grim look on his face.
"What can I do for you this late?" He asked his new friend.
"Can I come in?" He asked. Tomar stood aside and waved him in. Aramis followed Tomar to the study and sat down.
"Everyone's sleeping." He told Aramis. "So quietly. What can I help you with?"
"Tomar, I just had the strangest dreams and I don't know what to make of it." Aramis said. "I dreamed of gods, but they seemed so familiar to me and called me brother. And a woman, she was so beautiful and evil. She could kill millions without a thought."
"Maybe I should call Cutter. This is his area. Dreams and omens." Tomar sat up. "He might be able to tell you what it's all about."
"If you want, but I was told in the dream to come to you." Aramis told him.
"What?" This caught his attention. "Me? Why?"
"They said you would help if I mention Blessa."
Tomar fell back from his chair. Aramis rushed to help him up.
"Did you say Blessa?" He got back to his feet and righted his chair.
"Yeah. Who is she?" Aramis sat back. Tomar told him all about Jayce and the Salvation stone. How he had sworn for them all to protect their world and the people on it. They had all agreed to honor the pledge Jayce made. Blessa had been the angel Jayce had talked with and made his pledge to. Aramis listened closely as Tomar talked. He still wondered why the people in his dream, seemed so familiar. Maybe they were his family. Maybe he was projecting his real family into his dream. He had no idea, but he knew he would find out. But first he had to deal with the evil woman in his dream. Alea told him he and the dragons had to find her and stop her before she turned the world into one massive cemetery. Somehow he had to get the dragons to help him. But how? Maybe all he had to do was ask for their help. These were good people, and if what Tomar just told him was true, it's their job. Maybe if he helped them with a problem, they would help him. He looked at the desk and saw the drawing of the beast that chased them into the city. If he helped get rid of them, just maybe they would give him the help he needed.
"Tomar." He said. "What are those things?"
"I don't know. They look like men, only much more savage." Tomar pulled the drawing closer so they could both see it better.
"Did anybody notice anything strange about them?"
"You mean other than they were suddenly here?" Tomar said. "Hmmm. Yes, a few people told me they were all covered in dirt, and they had a strange smell."
"Yes," Aramis said. "They smelled like dirt. Like miners smell. Do you have a mine near?"
"Yes. Winterhaven is mining a new vein of iron near here in the forest. They shut it down because of some accident, three men were found dead."
"Have they? Do you know what happened?" Aramis asked.
"Dreik went to check, but they wouldn't let him in." Tomar told him. "He didn't like their answers, but we leased them the land and Rage promised no interference."
"I think maybe we should check this out." Aramis stood up and handed Tomar his red leather jacket. Tomar took it,
"You think it's that important?"
"Maybe." He said. "Depends on when the creatures start showing up?"
"Right after they open the mine." Tomar put the jacket on and started toward the door. "I'll call Dreik and Cutter. They'll want to come."
"I'll wake Jack."
Tomar opened the door and a smiling Jack was standing there.
"Did I just hear my name?"
"How does he do that?" Tomar asked.
"Magic." Jack told them as he followed them out.
Dreik took the lead as they walked through the dense forest. Trees, bushes and shrubbery all moved themselves aside as they past. That was the power of an earth dragon. After Dreik came Cheshire and Cutter, then Jack, and finally Aramis and Blaze.
"We're here." Dreik called out. "This is the mine.”
They all kept down and looked through the brush. They could see all kinds of mining equipment outside a cave carved out of the hill. There wasn't a soul in sight, but there was stray scraps of clothing and equipment scattered around. Boots, gloves, Aramis saw the packs that the miners would have bought with them. There were also those magic lanterns dwarf's use for light deep in their mines.
"See these?" Dreik said picking up a lantern. He held it out. "These are very expensive. Nobody would just leave them here on the ground. Look around, there are all kinds of things these men need. Something bad happened here and it sudden."
They all looked around for any other evidence. All kinds of personal items were scattered around. Jack called out to them. He had found something.
"What is it?" Cutter asked.
"Drag marks." Dreik knelt down to examine them. "They lead into the mine."
"Look here," Blaze called. "Footprints. Big footprints."
Cheshire came over and caught the scent of something and began to growl and hiss. Everyone watched as he padded off toward the mine entrance.
"He wants us to follow." Cutter told them. Aramis, Jack and the three dragons slowly followed Cheshire into the mine. On his way Aramis picked up a mine's torch. Dreik showed him how it worked and they were off. All through the mine they found equipment scattered, but they kept following the drag marks. They came to a crossroad that split in three directions. There the drag marks stopped.
"Now what?" Jack asked. "Should we split up?"
"No." Cutter said. "We follow Cheshire, he knows where he's going."
"And if we get lost?"
"I know the way out." Dreik said." I can't get lost in a cave. Come on. Let's go. He's on a scent."
Cheshire tugged and pulled Cutter down a passageway. The air down here had a funny smell. Stale, like dirt, different than what they had smelled so far. Cheshire began to growl louder. Suddenly he ripped loose and leaped to his left. Dreik, Cutter and Blaze saw the beast man as Cheshire attacked it. He bit him in the shoulder and injected his venom. The creature howled in pain as the paralysis took hold and it fell back. Behind him stood five more beast men. They charged at them snarling and reaching out to grab them. Aramis took a step back and raised his hands and sent a pulse of power at them. All five were thrown back off their feet.
"Everybody back!!" Blaze sent out a stream of flame to block the beast men in. They all scrambled back into the passage they came from scorched by his flame. The only one left was the one Cheshire bit. Cutter went over and checked him out. His pulse was stable for now, but not for long.
"Can you find out where they're coming from?" Blaze asked.
"If there's a mind in here I'll find it." Cutter sat down in front of the beast and put his hand on the beast's temple. Diving deep into the beast mind he slipped past the hunger instinct, past the survival instinct. There he found something that didn't belong there. A memory of a beautiful woman and a command to find pages? The beast didn't understand but he knew what to look for. He hadn't found it yet so the rest of the beast were still looking. Cutter withdrew from his mind and got up.
"Well?" Blaze asked, "Where did he come from?"
Cutter stood there and looked at them. He had no idea what to tell them. He thought there was no way they would believe him. It was way too farfetched to be true. But he had no choice but to tell them what he saw.
"I know where they are from." Cutter told them. "But that's not the important part. It's what they're doing here and who sent them. They're looking for something. Pages it seems."
"What?" Aramis asked. "What kind of pages?"
"I don't know. But I think we better find them." Cutter told them. "They seem to be important."
"To who?" Blaze wanted to know. He and Jack walked over to the others. Who was the question they needed to know.
"I saw a woman in his mind." Cutter said. "She was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. But I could feel the evil in her, and her hunger for power."
Aramis looked at Blaze with a shocked gaze. All color had drained from his face.
"It's her. The woman from your dream?"
"Yes." Aramis said. "It sounds like it. Cutters right, whatever she's searching for, we have to find. We can't let her get it."
"Then let's not waste any more time talking. I'm pretty sensitive to magic, and I'm guessing these pages will be powerful magic." Jack said. "How about you Cutter? I'm betting you are to."
"You're right. I feel strong magic from you both." Cutter said.
"Then we split up and search. Cutter take Dreik and Cheshire with you." Jack suggested. "Blaze come with me and Aramis. We need to hurry. The beast are searching too."
Off they went in separate directions to search the many passages and shafts of the mine. Jack kept his senses open for the slightest indications of anything magical. He could feel the beast men close to them so he tried to make sure they didn't meet. Not that he feared them; he just didn't feel they had time for the conflict. Aramis held the lantern for light as they made their way around. A strong smell assaulted their senses suddenly. It was a smell of death. Turning a corner they found out what it was. There in the middle of the passage they found the dead miners. They stopped for a second.
"There's nothing we can do for them now." Blaze said. "Keep moving."
"Wait I feel something." Jack held out his hand and turned toward the east passage. "This way."
Jack followed the trail he had found to a wall. There didn't seem to be a way past .
"It's here." Jack said. "Whatever it is, it's there."
Suddenly a roar came from behind them. The beast men had found it too. Blaze and Jack turned to confront the oncoming threat. A group of seven or eight beast attacking them
"Aramis, You're gonna have to get it."
Fire erupted around Blaze's fist as he swung for the nearest beast. He delivered a burning blow to its face and turned for the next. Jack, with his speed slammed blow after blow into the crowd knocking them back off their feet. Quickly he pulled a sword and started stabbing at them. Aramis knew he didn't have much time. How was he to get through the wall? He thought maybe the magic he used to repel things could attract whatever's in there. He reached out to the wall and started to activate the magic when he bumped his hand into nothing, There was no wall. He reached in and found a hole there. Aramis felt around and found a rolled up scroll. He pulled it out and told the others.
"I've got it!!." He yelled to them.Aramis saw the crowd of beast man and blasted them out of the way as Blaze sent his flames out.
"No stop!!" Aramis screamed. "Don't kill them!!"
"It's too late." Blaze said. "Come on, we're clear. I've called the others. Dreik's gonna seal this cave. He's showed me the way out."
They ran through the twists and turns until they saw light from the opening and dashed out. Dreik, Cutter and Cheshire were waiting outside. They ran out to meet them.
"Dreik. Please don't do this. " Aramis said." There has to be another way. They are under someone's control. Cutter, tell him."
"He's right." Cutter said. "If you seal them in, you'll kill them. And they're innocent creatures scared to death."
"Then what do you want to do?" Blaze asked. "We can't let them wander the road attacking everybody."
"Maybe Toric can help." Cutter said. "He and I can get them to someplace safe."
"Ok." Dreik told them. "I'll put food in there and bar the entrance. It's up to you to take care of them Cutter."
"Thank you." Aramis told them." Now we have to tell Rage and Jandar what's going on." Blaze said. "This has gotten serious."
In a deep dark cavern a youth named Eheren Dernier woke. He was completely naked laying on dirty furs. Eheren had no idea where he was or how he got there, all he knew was that his head hurt and he was scared. He felt his head and found a sore spot. Someone had hit him and knocked him out. The last thing he remembered was leaving home to get water from the well. He thought he had felt someone behind him than nothing. Eheren sat up and rubbed his eyes. Where was he? Why was he naked? He looked around the chamber and noticed three other boys along the wall. He didn't recognize two of them, but one he knew. It was Wes, a boy from his village. Eheren slowly got to his feet. He almost fell back down he was so dizzy. He put his hand on the wall to steady himself and took a step and refocused his eyes on Wes.
"Wes?" He called. "Is that you."
The boy looked up at him. Eheren could see a large bruise on his face. He went over to him and sat down beside him.
"Wes. Are you alright?"
"What's going on?" Wes asked. "How did we get here?"
"I don't know. I just woke up." Eheren looked over to the other boys. One was blonde like him and the other boy had dark hair. They were all muscular and fit. All were naked.
"We have to get out of here." Eheren told his friend.
"There's no way out." The blonde said. "We've tried. The entrance is blocked."
"How long have you been here?" Eheren asked.
"A week maybe." He said. "There were more of us. But they come and take us one by one. My name is Jess. I saw them bring you two in."
"Who?" Eheren asked. "Who took us? Do you know?"
"I do," The other boy said. "We're sacrifices for Cressca. This is his temple."
Eheren knew who Cressca was. All his people did. They had heard he'd been destroyed, but gods never die. He also knew what it meant to be his captive. Many boys and girls had been taken years ago to be his disciples. None of them were ever seen again. Eheren had no plans on being one of them.
"We can get out of here." Eheren said. "If we stick together we can fight our way out or die trying at least."
"There's no way we can beat all the robed men here." Jess said. "Just give up."
"I don't know about you." Eheren said. "But I'm not dying down here. You can lay there and give up if you want, but Wes and I are going home. So what's it going to be?"
Dreams are something we all should pay attention to. Especially when our dreams have a way of telling the future. Athene slept soundly in her room in her cottage while Jandar and Rage talked. Being vampires, she, Azeal and Valkar slept better during the day but it really didn't matter. Deep in her dream she found herself in her garden picking herbs. Suddenly she heard her name called. She looked around and saw a tall regal man standing at her gate. She knew the man, it was Baron Valkar. She stood as he walked in with a stern look on his face.
"Baron." She said. "I have been warned not to trust you."
"I'm not surprised." He told her. "I have done some horrible things in my life. But I'm all done with that. I'm trying to keep our people from becoming the demons we were meant to be."
"Meant to be?" She asked. "What do you mean?"
"There's not much I can come right out and tell you. I'm under a spell that keeps me from revealing certain things. Things you need to know. But there are ways you can get this information. Places I go, people I see. My mistress."
"I need more than that to make the others trust you." She said. "There has to be something you can tell me."
"I can tell you why the vampires are rebelling." Said the Baron.
"I already know that." Athene walked to a bench and sat down. The Baron followed her." My father is behind that. He's always wanted to rule Yadessa."
"But can your father make loyal servants turn on their king?" He asked. "Is he that powerful?"
"No he's not. Very well." She said. " I'm listening."
"Your father has help. Immortal help." Athene looked at the Baron with distrust in her eyes. What was he talking about?
"There are gods involved here Athene. Gods you know of. A god the dragons have fought before."
"What are you saying?" She asked.
"Cressca, the Unholy has come back."
Shock filled her as she heard that name. Cressca has killed so many his name was feared all across the land.
"Now you understand?" He said. "Warn the dragons. You must hurry. I can't be here long. Wake now!"
Athene sat up in bed wide awake. She knew just what she had to do. She jumped out of bed and quickly made her way into her parlor. There she found Jandar and Rage talking.
"Rage." She called out. "We need Mags quickly. Baron Valkar is here and he wants to show us something. He says it's important."
Both of them looked up to her in surprise. Neither quite understood.
"And you think we can trust him?" Rage asked her. "I'm not sending my father into danger on his whim."
She told them all about Cressca and all the Baron had said. She believed him.
"Yes. I trust him." She sat down next to them. "I have this feeling that this is important. I had a dream."
"Call him love. Cressca explains everything that's happening in Yadessa. I can't believe we have to deal with him again. Mags can verify what he's saying." Jandar told his mate. "Her dreams have never failed me."
"I remember that fanged monster and his temple." Rage said. "I can almost still smell it. You say the Baron's still here?"
"Yes." She said. "But he can't stay long. I think there's more, that's why he wants us to see. Something about a mistress."
[Yes Rage.] He answered.
[We have a mission for you. There's a spirit here. I need you to follow him and see what's going on.]
The golden dragon flew in the window and landed in Rages lap. He laid down and fell asleep and Mags separated from the little dragons body. He floated up into the air. There he saw another spirit waiting.
[Greeting.] He sent. [I am Magnus Tolon. You may call me Mags.]
[I am Baron Valkar the First. We must hurry. Ask no questions and once we arrive keep out of sight from my mistress. She will be able to see you. We go.]
Off they flew from the cottage.
Eheren woke up and all he heard was someone screaming. He turned and saw Jess being dragged towards the entrance by two men. Jumping to his feet he rushed to Jess and kicked one robed man in the stomach.
"Wes!" He called. "Help me!!"
Wes and Bruz the other boy came over and grabbed the other man. They threw him to the floor and kicked at him. The man Eheren kicked tried to grab Jess again. Jess moved behind Eheren as Eheren crouched into a fighters stand ready to defend the boy. He pushed him away and back to the floor. The four boys stood together ready to fight for their lives. Battered the two men backed out of the chamber and closed it back up.
"Next time there will be more than two." Jess said.
"Then we'll fight harder." Eheren said. "I'm not gonna let them take either of you."
The four sat down together, Wes and Jess was scared to death. Eheren was defiant. He knew he'd die before letting them take any of them away. Minutes later the entrance was uncovered again and another boy was thrown in. Bruz and Jess ran over and pulled him back with them. The boy was still unconscious. A robed man pushed back his hood and laughed.
"You think you can protect yourselves." He said. "You belong to us now, all of you. Fight all you want, it won't matter in the end."
"Anyone that tries to touch us will see what matters." Eheren told him. "If you don't believe it, come a little closer and see."
"Your day is upon you." He said. "My Lord will love your strength and vitality."
"Come and get it." Eheren told him as the entrance was covered again.
As they came down to the temple, Mags looked around and saw the dead city right beyond the crevice. He could sense no life there, but there was something else. He wasn't sure what it was, but it was dark.
[We are here. Again I warn you, stay away from my mistress. She is very powerful and will detect you if you are in her sight.]
[How am I to report on her if I can't get near her?]
[You will feel her. That I can promise you. Keep well behind me as you enter. Then you are on your own. Do not call out to me. She will hear you. Meet me there in that small house in six hours. If you have to flee, then go. Don't worry about me.]
With that, the Baron sailed into the crevice and into the caves. Mags waited a few minutes then followed him. He went from chamber to chamber searching until he found Cressca high above his altar froze like a statue. Mags knew right away something was wrong. Cressca out in the open? That was not like him. He usually wasn't visible to his disciples, only his head priest were allowed to see him. Mags moved up to the altar and closer to Cressca. Still he didn't move. Was he dead? No, he couldn't be. Mags probed for his mind. He felt nothing. Then he must not be in control of himself. Someone else had him under a spell. Mags know he couldn't probe the temple. Whoever this Mistress is, she would feel it. So he moved on.
He saw all the robed men and woman. He could tell they weren't alive. At least there was no heartbeat coming from any of them. Mags knew they had to be vampires. And not like Valkar or Azeal. These were the dark kind that fed on human blood. Nightwalkers. That sickened Mags, especially when he saw the children. They had also been turned.As he moved around he began to feel something powerful. It must be that Mistress that the Baron talked about. He could feel she was a vampire too, ancient and very powerful. No vampire of this time could amass that much power. He knew he had to stay clear of her. He decided to go deep down to see what he could find. From the altar room, he found a tunnel that went down into the mountain. There he found many dark chambers all inhabited by sleeping vampires. Then he felt something else. Humans. They must be captives. Food for her of course. Mags kept moving until he found the chamber where they were being held and slipped through the slab that covered the entrance. There he found five young boys naked and cold, covering themselves with the furs from the floor. There was no food here for them to eat. Mags guessed they didn't expect them to be here long, so why feed them. The five boys huddled together for warmth and protection. Suddenly the slab began to move. The four boys jumped to their feet and grabbed rocks. Two vampires came in baring their fangs. One blonde boy stepped forward and readied himself to fight. A vampire charged him. Down came the rock, smashing into the vampire's mouth. Blood and teeth flew in the air. The blond kicked out at its legs and it fell to the floor. The other boys had fashioned a long stake like spike from rock. Two held it down while the blond plunged the spike into the vampire's chest. It died there on the floor screaming while the blond stood there waiting to see what the other would do. The vampire backed out the door and pushed the slab back in place. Mags knew then he couldn't let these boys to die here. He had to do what he could to save them. Anything he could no matter what.
A freezing wind blew down through the caves of the temple of Cressca. Frost began to cover everything. Icicles formed from the ceiling like stalactites as a cold white haired man walked in. A cloud of frozen air swirled around him as he walked. Robed vampires rushed out to stop him but none could get close enough to touch him. Hands reaching for him were frozen, fingers just snapped off. This was Kearn, the winter god. And he was here to see Cressca. He had killed and made vampires of all his followers in the city Grish, just outside of the temple. This angered him beyond belief. Grish and all the surrounding areas was his territory. It was an insult to him that they had come and settled there. He would make them pay for their insolence. From each side, two groups of vampires charged at him with raised swords. Kearn swept out his hands and sent a blast of cold it them. Ice and frost coated them as they froze in place. With another swept of his hand he smash them all to bits.
"Where are you?" He yelled out. "You have trespassed and taken what is mine. I am here to claim my rights. Come out now!!!"
From all around vampires charged him. He gathered his breath and blew out blasting everyone with his cold. A frigid ice storm filled the room freezing everything. The walls, the floor and anything that moved froze solid. All around the chamber there were frozen vampires still in the position they were in while attacking covered in ice and snow. Walking on Kearn made his way to Cressca's altar. There he found him hanging from the ceiling.
"So we meet animal." Kearn shouted. "You have much to pay for."
"Yes we do cold one." Kearn heard the sweet voice coming from behind him. He turned and saw Muerte, her beautiful blazing hair flowing in the wind.
"Who are you?" He asked.
"His master." She pointed up to Cressca. "Now yours."
Quickly she called out the words for Ganon's book. Within seconds Kearn's powers went out of control and the temple began to shake. Kearn felt all his will wiped from him. He no longer had any control over himself. Cold radiated out from him and froze everything except Cressca and Muerte. The cold was so intense; it weakened the walls making them brittle. They began to collapse in.
"You are mine now winter god." She said. "We're done here. Time to move on. Come Cressca, Our children can survive without us. They will grow and make my army."
Cressca flew down and stood with Kearn. Muerte cast a shield over their heads protecting them from debris.
"You two would be better off like the Baron. More out of sight until I need you. Wait for me in the shadows. Go!"
Together Cressca and Kearn faded out and did as she told them. As the temple fell she walked out laughing, on to her next task.
Down below all hell was breaking loose. Robed vampires rushed around trying to reach the floors above to protect the God. Eheren and the rest of the boys could feel the cold seeping down from above. They hugged each other for warmth as they stood there and shivered. Mags had been above and seen what was going on. He wasn't sure exactly what Cressca could do about the cold god, and the Baron's mistress was still a mystery to him. He had to find out more about her. Who was she? What was her objective? The battle up above was tearing the whole temple down. Pieces of the walls and ceiling fell all around. Bruz was hit and fell to floor. Jess ran over and tried to protect him by covering him with his body. Wes went to the entrance and tried to move the slab again. It was no use, the slab was too heavy for him. He began to beat on the door calling for help.
"Stop!" Eheren told him. " No one's coming to help us. We have to get out of here by ourselves!!" The new boy huddled in the corner crying for his parents. He was scared to death. Mags knew he had to get them out. If he still had his dragon body it would be easy. He would just blast the wall, grab the boys and fly them out to safety. But that wasn't possible, his body was back with Rage. He didn't have time to go for help. The boys would be crushed, frozen or vampires when he got back. If only he had his own body. A simple spell would get them all out. If he only had hands, or a voice to cast spells with. He wished he could tell one of the boys the proper words to speak. But then they didn't have the magic needed to cast those spell. What if he could take over one of them? Then he could use their voice. He had the magic, they had the means to use it. Could it be that easy? Could he do it? He'd never tried before.
A large piece of the ceiling fell and almost hit Jess and Bruz. Eheren dived over and pulled them closer to the wall. Mags didn't have time for any more debate with himself. He had to act now. One of these boys had to accept him in order for this to work. Mags rushed down to Eheren and settled his spirit on his chest. He had to make contact now.
[I am here to help you. My name is Magus. If you can accept me and my magic, I can get you and the rest of the boys out. Will you accept me?]
Eheren looked around, he thought he was hearing voices. This must be making him mad. There was no one here but him and the others.
[No!!] Mags sent to him. [Listen to me! I am a Mage and I want to save you all. I can do this but I need you to let me in. Please Eheren, Let me help you now! We don't have much time before this place comes crashing down on you all!!]
The back wall fell in pushing them all together closer to the front entrance.
[It has to be now Eheren!!]
"Yes!!" He shouted. "Help us please!!"
Mags moved into him and took over his body. He could feel the blood moving through his body, his breathing, his pulse. Mags could feel the small pieces of debris hitting him. He had hands now, and a voice. He had a body and a voice again!!
NOW I'M HERE, NOW I'M GONE.
TAKE US AWAY, AWAY FROM HARM.
TAKE US OUT. THESE BOYS AND I.
MAKE US SAFE, NOW WE FLY.
Magic gathered around them and in a flash of bright light they disappeared as the ceiling came crashing down. They reappeared outside of the temple with the ground shaking beneath them and Eheren hugging them. He looked around and saw the temple falling.
"Run for the city!!" He told them. Fast as they could the boys took off running. The city wasn't very far away. Their chest rose and fell as their legs pumped moving them away from the ground crumbling under their feet. Soon as they were a safe distance away, all the boys fell to the ground in exhaustion. Their ordeal was over, they were safe for now. Eheren looked back and saw her emerge from the cavern. She looked over towards them and laughed, then faded away. She was gone. That had to be her he thought. He could still feel her evil presence in the air.
[Yes, that was my mistress. Fear her, for she has plans for this world. We must stop her or all is lost. Tell the others.]
The Baron's voice faded away into the distant and Eheren sat down and rested. He knew trouble was on its way.
Sitting on the outskirts of Grish, Eheren and the boys rested. The sun was at high noon and it felt warm on their skin after their time in the coldness of the temples underground caverns. Eheren looked to the city, his and Wes home. It was quiet and still. He knew much of what Mags knew now so he knew his family was still there. But they were different now. They were vampires. So was Wes's family. He knew he had to tell him and how hard it would be for him to accept.
[We're going to have to show him.] Mags told him. [Either that or just let him go.]
[We can't let him go.] Eheren thought. [We can't, He'd go home and they would get him. I accept what's happened to me, can't he come to New Keanna with us?]
[Of course, he'd be welcome.] Mags told him.
[What about us?] He thought. [What's to become of me?]
[I am now a part of you. We have merged forever. My magic is now yours as your body is now mine. But I want you to know this is your body. I am a part of you now. Yes, and I can leave for periods of time, but I will have to return or I will die. But you will always be in control. I'm sure there will be times you turn control over to me, but I am happy just to feel again. You have no idea what it's like to live as a spirit, to never touch except in my dragon form.]
[What about your dragon form?] He asked. [Will he accept me?]
[I think Shine will accept you.] Mags told him. [You have the heart of a dragon. That's why I picked you not any of the others. Your bravery and courage. The way you cared for them. Yes, I have no doubt have a dragon's heart.]
[So what now?]
[We take them home and then you and Wes come back to New Keanna, if he agrees.]
Wes walked over and sat next to Eheren. He had a smile on his face. Eheren smiled back.
"What?" He asked.
"Thank you." He said. "If it wasn't for you, all of us would be dead instead of going home."
"You're welcome." Eheren told. "There's something we need to talk about."
"You mean how we got out of there?" Wes whispered." I don't care that you have magic. My grandma does too. She could make things fly through the air. It's no big deal."
"No Wes, not that." Eheren called all of them together. Jess, Bruz and Haran came over and sat with them.
"It's time to get you guys home." He told them. "So I need to know where you're from."
"I'm from here." Jess said. He pointed to Grish. "I don't live far. I can make my own way home. Don't worry about me. Thanks for all your help. I won't forget you."
He waved and turned to go. Eheren stopped him.
"No don't go." He said.
"But my Ma and Pa will be worried. I've been gone so long. Eheren it's not far,"
"Both of you look at Grish." The boys turned to look at the city. Nothing moved. Not a cat or dog. Not even birds flew overhead. It was completely silent. Usually you would find children playing, men going back and forth to the docks or work, smoke rising from the various houses. But there was nothing. The city looked dead.
"The city is dead." Eheren said. "Vampires raided and took all of them. I know my family's dead. So is yours. I'm very sorry."
"No!!" Jess said backing toward the city. "That can't be true! They're not dead!!"
"No there not. They're vampires now. I'm sorry."
"NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Jess turned and ran into the city.
"Come back!!" Eheren and the others ran after him into the city. Pass the dark shops and closed and covered windows of all the homes they passed. Not a single ray of light could get into any house in this city now. Jess found his house as Eheren caught with him. He grabbed him by the arm and spun him around.
"WAIT!!" Eheren shouted. "After all the vampires we've seen and how close we are to the temple you don't believe me? Where did you think all those vampires were coming from? Those were our people Jess. They were all changed."
"Please." He said with eyes full of tears. "Not my family."
[He has to see it for himself Eheren. Take him in. I can protect you.]
"You want to see?" He asked.
"I have to." Jess answered.
"Wes, you need to see this too." Wes walked up and stood beside him." All of you stay close to me. Don't wander off."
Eheren pulled at the door. It was closed tight but he got it open. The inside of the house was dark as night. Eheren made a gesture with his hand and a light probe appeared. He cast it into the house then slowly walked in. Room by room they searched. They didn't find anything.
"See?" Jess said. "My families safe somewhere."
"Where does this trapdoor go?" Wes asked. He pointed to a door in the floor.
"The root cellar. There's no one down there."
Jess pulled the latch then threw back the door. He started down and Eheren stopped him.
"Me first." Eheren walked down the stairs with the probe in front of him. He looked around and saw all the storage the cellar was used for. Then he saw some kind of blankets covering something on the floor.
"Stand back." He said. He reached down and pulled back the blankets and there laying on the floor was Jess's parents with blood running from their mouths. All the boys stepped back from the horror they saw.
"Nooooooooooo!!!!" He grabbed Eheren and sobbed into his shoulder.
"Come on." He said. "We have to go now."
Quietly they all made their way back upstairs. Jess grabbed clothes for them all and then they made their way back to the abandoned house on the edge of town.
"So what are we going to do?" Bruz asked.
"We're going to get you all home." Eheren told them. "I know a safe place for Wes and Jess."
"No." Jess said. "Not until we destroy everything in this city."
"I know people that can take care of that." Eheren told them.
"No." Wes said. "We have to do it, not others. This is something I want to do. You can go if you want. But I'll kill them all if I have to by myself."
"We will all help." Haran said." Your magic can help us Eheren."
[They're right. This is something they need to do. You and Wes and Jess have lost your whole families. They want to strike back.]
[But how can they help?]
[They can't. But I can teach them a spell that will set the city ablaze. It will be us casting it, but they won't know that. First we have to call for help. We need to be able to get out of here.]
[Call for help. I'll tell then the plan.]
Eheren told them about the dragons coming and about how they were going to burn the town. The boys agreed happily.
[Rage, I need help.]
[Father, what's wrong? Are you hurt?]
[No my son. I need you and Blaze here right away. I'll explain while you travel. Bring my body please.]
[I'm on my way] Blaze sent.
[So am I Father.]
It didn't take them long to fly to Grish. The boys stared in wonder as Blaze and Rage came flying in. They landed out beyond the house and shifted back to human form and came on to the house. Eheren walked out to meet them.
"How do you do" Rage smiled. "You're one of the young men my father spoke of. I'm King Rage. It's nice to meet you."
[I guess there something I forgot to mention.] Eheren smiled.
Rage looked at him in shock. He knew that voice had come from him, and it was Mags mental voice. But it came from this boy.
"It's me Rage." He said. "Or more like, it's us now."
"It's a long story, but it's the only way I could save them. Give my Shine please."
Rage reached into the bag around his neck and took out the small dragon and handed it to Eheren.
[What do I do?]
[I recognize and accept you Eheren. Hold me to your chest. I will do the rest.] Shine spoke to him.
[I told you, you had a dragon heart. Do as he says.]
Eheren took the dragon and held him to his chest. Shine woke and moved into him. Rage and Blaze stepped back and gave him room to shift. The change began. His arms and legs grew and became scaled. His neck lengthened and his head changed. Wings and tail grew and he became Shine, the energy dragon. He roared.
[We are one. I like this.]
"Welcome Eheren to our clan." Rage said.
He shifted back to human form dressed in tan leathers.
"Let us introduce you to the boys." Eheren said. They walked back to the house.
"So are you Mags, Shine or Eheren?” Blaze asked.
"We're all three." He said. "We're all in here, but you can call us Eheren. We like that name."
Back in the house Eheren introduced them all and told them of the plan and why the town had to burn.
"These are blood thirsty thing in there." Eheren looked at all four boys. They came over and stood with him.
"Blaze, you go to the north end of town. Rage southeast. The boys and I will stay here. On our mark we blast this town and burn it to the ground killing all of them. Let's go."
Everyone went outside and Rage and Blaze took to the air and flew off to their burn sites. Once they were all at their marks Eheren told the boys the spell.
FIRE, FIRE, COME TO ME.
FIRE, FIRE, BLAZING FREE.
FIRE, FIRE, BURNING FREE.
FIRE, FIRE, SET THEM FREE.
From three places the town began to blaze. Higher and higher the flames grew until soon all the city was covered with flames. Blaze and Rage came back and picked them up. From the skies they watched the town burn. Blaze took Bruz and Haran home and Jess and Wes came back with them home on Rage. Eheren had a lot to tell them when they got home. But first, he got some rest.