The Dragons of Keanna - Book II
by Jandar Tyr
In Yadessa, at castle Zlenka, Balthazar called his entire coven in for instructions. He wanted them to go out and spread their vampire seed all over the land. Muerte had giving him orders to make as many as they could. She wanted a vampire army to overwhelm as many nations as they could. The first stop was to be Tir Na, the home of the Werewolves. She wanted the Werewolves as slaves to the vampire again, and Balthazar liked that idea. He thought they were beneath them and slavery was the only thing they were good for.
Late in the night Balthazar sat at his desk in his study. He had been issuing orders to the men and women of his coven. Sending out people to cause havoc through the different lands he had his eye on. Cabot his chief lieutenant knocked on the study door.
"Enter." He called. A tall gray haired man dressed in black walked in and bowed.
"Ah Cabot." He said. "How goes the hunt for my daughter?"
"I'm sorry to say, she and her companions elude us. The dragons move fast Sire."
"Damn her." Balthazar bought his fist down on the desk with a bang. "She must be captured. She and her mother's damn prophesies have always been a thorn in my side. Somehow we must get ahead of her and be there when she arrives."
"But how?" Cabot asked. "If she can see what we're doing?"
"I have to find someone she can't read." He leaned forward on his desk in thought. "And I think I know who."
Balthazar stood up and began to pace across the room.
"My brother Arturus is in the dungeon. He's mind blind. She can't read him, never could. But she can feel him and she loves him. We can use that to trap her. If we put him in danger, she and the dragons will come running."
"Will she come here?" Cabot asked.
"No. they'll know it's a trap. They won't give her up for him. But if we send him to Tir Na and attack there, they might think he escaped and went to those dogs for help."
"Yes!" He said, "We let him escape and chase him to Tir Na. Then Jandar, Athene and possibly Rage will go and try to help."
"And Arturus will do this?" Cabot asked.
"No." Balthazar smiled his devious grin. "He won't do it even if I take control over him"
"There are limits even to the power of Cressca. So we will make him do what we want while he thinks it's his idea. That way he will fight with all he is to accomplish this goal. Here's what I want you to do."
Arturus was being held in a dank cell with nothing but blankets and his clothing to keep him warm. Everyday Balthazar would have him beaten trying to get him to join him. He knew he never would, but he hated his brother so much he enjoyed seeing him in pain. But lately the beatings had stopped and he was given food, and from the smell of it it wasn't human blood, it was cattle. Balthazar knew Arturus would starve rather than drank human blood. He was suspicious of the change in the way he was being treated, but he was glad for the reprise. He also knew it wouldn't last. The beatings would begin again, as soon as he was stronger. So he had to find a way out of there and get away. Arturus knew he'd been in the dungeon for at least 3 weeks. From the window of his cell he counted the sunrises and sunsets and hoped for a chance to escape. He hoped the day would come before Balthazar grew tired of him and had him killed. As he sat in his cell he heard someone screaming and being dragged down the corridor.
"Let me go damn you!! Get your fucking hands off of me!!"
"Quiet Rodent." the guard said. "You're a traitor and now you're going to get what you deserve."
The door to Arturus's cell open and a handsome pale skinned young man with brown hair and expensive looking leathers was tossed in to land next to him.
"Both of you will be put to death soon." The guard told them. "Balthazar has no use for either of you."
The young man jumped up and tried to push the door open as they slammed it shut.
"Enjoy your last few days of life."
They walked away laughing. Arturus looked over to the young man and nodded at him.
"You've been sentenced to death to huh?"
"It won't happen." He said. "Not if I can help it. I'm not staying here to die."
"Who are you?" Arturus asked. "Why are you here?"
"Because I won't play along with Balthazar's crazy screwed up plans." He said. "I'm loyal to King Valkar and his damn magic won't work on me. I'm Tanis Dylar. My father is Baron Dylar from Dagan in the south. I was sent here to see Valkar about all the strange happening going on lately. But when I got here they wouldn't allow me to see the King. I was told he was not well. But I knew that was a lie. Valkar and I have known each other all our lives. We have a connection, we have since we were young. He knew I was coming to see him and he would feel my presence and made contact. I know he's not here. I just don't know what they've done to him."
"Valkar is not here. You're right." Arturus told him. "But Balthazar didn't get him. He escaped along with the dragons, his allies. I'm sure he's safe, unlike us. We will be dead tomorrow."
"Not me." Tanis told him. "And not you, unless you want to be."
"Unless you have a key, there's no way out of this cell." Arturus said. "Magic won't work in here. I've tried."
"I'll get us out of here." Tanis said. "Can you get us to Valkar?"
"Maybe. We have a long journey ahead of us if we can get out of here. There's going to be many perils in the way. And Balthazar won't just let us go. They will chase us and probably catch us. Then we will die."
"What else can we do?" Tanis asked. He kicked the straw on the floor. "Stay here and wait to be executed? My family won't like that, and neither will I."
"How do we get out of here them?"
"When they feed us, they have to come in here right?" He asked. "I don't see any slot in the door to pass us food."
"When and if they bother to feed us, yes. They have to open the door. But how is that going to help? There will be two of them."
"You think we can get them both in here?"
"Yes." He answered "One will carry the tray, and the other will have our water and he will be armed."
"Be ready." Tanis sat down to wait. They both hoped it wouldn't be too long. A few hours later the sound of the cart which carried the food for all the prisoners could be heard coming down the corridor. They heard keys rattling in the door further down from them. Tanis and Arturus stood up and waited for the cart to reach them. It didn't take very long. Balthazar hadn't collected many prisoners. Most of the people of Yadessa had no choice and fell quickly under Cressca's spell. One in maybe five hundred were immune and unless you were of high rank, they didn't consider you much of a threat.
"Get back from the door" The guard said as he put the key in. They heard the lock click and the door opened.
"Hold your breath when they get in here." Tanis whispered. They backed up away from the door leaving a clear spot on the floor where Tanis had cleared away the straw. The guards came in carrying the tray and the other had water as Arturus had expected. With a quick move Tanis threw something down to explode on the floor. Gas filled the room overwhelming the guards and knocking them out. Tanis and Arturus ran out into the hall and waited a couple seconds for the gas to clear, then they went back in and exchanged clothing with the guards. Tanis took the guard's sword and keys, then covered them and relocked the door.
"Let's get out of here." Tanis said.
"Wait. First we open the rest of the cells." Arturus took the keys and went from cell to cell rousing its inhabitants and freeing them. Prisoners scattered in all directions looking for a way out of the castle. Dressed as guards they had no problem getting out. At the loch shore, they shifted to bird forms as they heard the alarm sound. Their escape had been detected. The hunt for them was on. Arturus's flying form was a very large hawk; Tanis flew as a brown falcon. They flew high and fast as they saw three large hawks bearing down on them. They dipped their wings and dived for the trees. Once there they flew evasively from their pursuers. In and out and between branches. Their speed was unbelievable. Arturus was an elder vampire with lots of experience at flying. Tanis stayed right at his side mimicking every move as best he could. The three hawks following weren't as good flyers. One crashed into a tree but they couldn't escape the other two. Arturus sent Tanis a signal to land. They made for a clearing they saw ahead and stood ready as the hawks came in. With swords drawn they charged at them. Arturus ducked and held out his leg. His attacker tripped and went face first into the dirt. Arturus was on his back in seconds. Smashing the man's head into the ground. With a burst of strength, he was thrown off the vampires back to the ground dazed. Climbing to his feet, the vampire dived at Arturus with his sword raised to impale him. Quickly he reached out to grab a branch and stab up with it. The branch, like a stake, thrust into his chest and through his heart. The body fell hard to the ground next to him. He looked up and saw Tanis on the ground about to be beheaded. Arturus grabbed the sword and threw it. Like an arrow, the sword flew right through his back killing him in an instant.
"They were going to kill me!" Tanis said in shock.
"I told you they would be after us" He helped Tanis up. "Did you think they were going to take us back to the dungeon? Come on. We have to move fast. Tir Na is to the west and we have a long way to go."
For days they travelled through the forest. There were many times they came close to being captured. One night they camped in a hollow they found. The weather had turned bad and it was snowing. Arturus looked up and held his hand out to catch some snow.
"Snow?" He said. "This is the wrong time of year for snow. What kind of magic is this?"
Soon the ground was covered with snow and they had to get going.
"This snow is going to show our tracks." Arturus said. "We better move fast. It's time to fly again."
They shifted and took off into the air. From up high they could see there pursuers. They were close to the hollow. Suddenly from above they heard a screech. Out of nowhere a hawk came flying and attacked Tanis. He ducked just in time as its talons missed him.
[There's a cave in those hills. Hurry and I'll meet you there. I'll take care of this.]
Tanis streaked off and Arturus saw the other bird go for him. Arturus flapped his wings and shot out to catch the pursuer. With talons out, he caught up with the bird and raked him across the back. This knocked it right out of the air. Arturus followed it down and caught it before it hit the ground. Looking around he saw no other followers so he made for the cave to catch up with Tanis. Coming into the cave he tossed the falcon aside and rested. Tanis kept watch for a while. Tir Na wasn't far now. They would be there by nightfall.
It was summer in Tir Na and the snow was close to three feet deep. Drake Tyr knew something was horribly wrong. He put on his long heavy coat and left his home. Drake could feel the magic in the air. He, like his son Jandar was very sensitive to magic, but he didn't have Jandar's knowledge or as much magic as his son. He could usually follow a magic trail, but there was none here. He could feel something bad was in the works. The streets of The Wolves Lair were pretty empty. Not many were out. The snow kept them in around the fireplace. There were many of the cubs out playing in the snow. As he turned the corner he saw Tof and Ranjer in wolf form playing with many of the cities cubs.
[Father!!] Ranjer called to him. [This is fun. I like the snow!!]
Drake smiled and waved to his sons. He thought to tell them to get in the house, but he didn't want to spoil Ranjer's fun. So he let them play. Since there was magic involved, there was only one person he had to consult.
[Jandar.] He called out to his son. [What the hell is going on? There's three feet of snow here.]
[Father were on our way. There's a mad god on the loose, and she's threatening Tir Na.]
[What else is new?]
[We'll be there soon.]
Drake trudged up to the council building and climbing the stairs. He suddenly felt the presence of a friend. What would he be doing here? It could only be more trouble. Drake leaped from the stairs and shifted to his gray wolf form and dashed out into the forest. The scent was faint but getting stronger as he ran. Faster and faster Drake moved, jumping over frozen brooks and tree stumps. It took an hours run until he hit was upon the scent. Drake looked up and around and saw two wolves being chased down by a pack of wolves. From their smell, Drake knew they weren't werewolves. They were vampires. Vampires don't hunt on werewolf land. That's against the treaties he and Valkar signed. He knew Valkar would never sanction this. Normally he would have called out to him and just asked what was going on, but he decided to check for himself. This day was getting worse and worse. Drake howled and got the two running wolves attention. They turned and ran toward him with the pack following. Arturus and Tanis put on a sudden burst of speed and made it to Drake as he shifted back to human form.
"STOP RIGHT THERE!!" He commanded. Behind him Arturus and Tanis collapsed.
"You're trespassing on Werewolf land." He said. "I'd advise you to turn and go back to wherever you came from."
"The King of Yadessa has ordered us to bring them back." One of the vampires said. "Move aside and let us pass so we can take them back."
"These men are now under my protection." Drake told them.
"And you are?" They took a step closer.
"King here." Drake said. "I am Drake Tyr. King of all the Werewolves. Turn and leave now."
"You're all alone your majesty." The vampires smiled and took a step toward him.
"Am I?" Drake smiled.
All around them wolves came running out. The vampires looked around and they were surrounded by more than thirty wolves. They were outnumbered.
"So now will you walk back home." He asked "Or do we bury you here?"
Standing there surrounded by snarling werewolves the vampires backed away with their tails between their legs. They knew they had no chance of fighting their way out. So they shifted to bird form and flew off for Yadessa.
"Follow them." Drake told a few wolves. "Make sure they get all the way out of Tir Na."
Drake reached down and helped Arturus to his feet. He hugged him then asked.
"What are you doing here?"
"Running from Balthazar Gaelich." Arturus told him as he brushed himself off. "He's in control of Yadessa now."
"Where's Valkar?" Drake asked with worry in his voice for his friend.
"He's with Jandar and Rage. They got him out before Balthazar could kill him."
"Good." Drake put his arm around his friend's waist to help him walk. "They're on their way here. We have a lot to talk about. Come back to the house. Tressandra's going to want to see you."
He looked back at Tanis.
"Who's this?" Drake asked.
"He's the one that got me out of the dungeon." Arturus said looking back at Tanis. Tanis smiled. "I owe him a lot."
"No" Tanis stood up and walked over to Drake and Arturus. "You saved my life twice, and I would have died in all this snow. You don't owe me. I owe you."
"Speaking of snow." Drake turn them both towards town. "It's time we got you both someplace warm. Jandar and Rage will be here soon to explain all this. I want to meet them. Come on, let's get back to town."
High over Tir Na, Jandar flew riding on Rage's back. They looked at all the snow spread across his homeland. Behind them flew Icicle, Blink and Athene riding Cutter. They were all amazed at the amount of snow they saw. Eheren had filled them in on what he had seen in Grish, so they knew where it had come from. There was only one explanation. It had to be Muerte using the power of Kearn. Only he could turn a summer landscape into a winter blizzard.
[Jandar, how do we fight someone with this much power?] Athene asked.
[Carefully.] He answered. [Athene evil falls. That's why we're here. I don't know how, but she has weaknesses just like we do.]
[Yes.] Rage sent. [Even gods fall.]
[But what power!] Icicle sent. [I could never generate this much cold.]
[I don't know.] Blink sent. [With some magical help, I'll bet you could do. Shayn and I banished Polan's shadow, and he covered the world with it. He was no god.]
Below them they could see the snow covered roofs of The Wolves Lair. Rage began his spiral down to land. Their wing beats sent the snow flying off the roofs relieving some of the weight it bore on them. Once on the ground the dragons shifted back to their human form and they headed for Tyr Manor. A black and white patched wolf cub came running at them barking.
"RANJER!!!" Jandar held out his arms and he jumped into them licking his face." I'm glad to see you to."
Jandar laughed as Ranjer shifted and hugged his older brother.
"Can Rage give me a ride?"
"Of course I can." Rage smiled. He took Ranjer's hand and swung him up onto his back. Giggling he held on.
"We'll be right back." Rage took off running down the street shifting as he ran. Soon they were high over the trees. Jandar could hear Ranjer laughing in his mind.
[Father, were here.]
[Meet us in the council building. We'll be waiting.]
"He's in the town hall."
Jandar and his friends walked down the road passing all the young cubs playing in the snow. They were all having fun. Wolves loved running in the snow. He remembered his youth playing with Tof, Ono Jayce, and JP in the old castle. He wished his days were still that easy. Soon they were at the town hall. They were met by Tof at the door. The brothers hugged at the top of the stairs.
"How bad is it?" Tof asked.
"Worse than Polan." He answered.
"TOF! There's a lady present!" Jandar smacked his ass.
"Sorry." He said. "Come in. Fathers waiting."
Tof opened the door and held it as they all walked in. He showed them to Drake's office. There they found Drake waiting with Arturus, Tanis and another man that both Jandar and Athene knew.
"UNCLE!!" Athene ran in and hugged Arturus. "I'm so glad you're safe. I was afraid father had done something to you."
"He tried." He said as he released her. "But it's not so easy to kill this old vampire."
"I found these two running from Balthazar's men." Drake told them. "How's Valkar?"
"He's back at New Keanna safe." Jandar said. "I left him with Azeal fighting Nightwalkers. Father, this is getting bad. There are Nightwalkers popping up everywhere."
"What's going on?" Drake asked.
"Read it in my mind. It will be quicker." Drake scanned Jandar and got the whole story about Muerte and what she planned.
"Excuse me." Cutter said elbowing Jandar. "Who is this?"
"My name is Tanis Dylar." He stepped up and shook Cutters hand. Unknown to him, Cutter already had his whole true story. Cutter looked over to the man beside Drake and nodded.
"My father is Baron Dylar from Dagan. Our city is being overrun by strange vampires too. My father sent me to see Valkar hoping he could help us."
"Baron Dylar is your father?" The man with Drake asked. "How is he doing?"
"He's worried about Valkar." Tanis said. "Our families have been friends for ages. As children, we've been through alot together."
He looked at Drake, Drake looked back.
"Seize him!" Icicle and Blink grabbed Tanis and held him while Drake called for his guards,
"What is the meaning of this?" He protested. "When my father the Baron hears about this, he'll be furious."
"Will he?" The man asked walking over to Tanis. "I'm Baron Dylar of Dagan, Ambassador to Tir Na. Balthazar and his coven have been out of touch in Yadessa and have no idea what's been going on there. And you make a terrible spy."
"Why are you here?" Drake asked.
"I'm not telling you anything." Tanis told him defiantly.
"Even though they tried to kill you?" Arturus asked him. "Or did you forget? I knew the minute you mentioned Baron Dylar you were lying, but still I saved you. Why do you think I did that? Would Balthazar have done that? He doesn't want any of us free. He wants to use us like he used you. Don't you see we're fighting for you too? For everyone, but we can't do it alone. We need your help. Help us. Tell us what you know."
"He doesn't have to." Cutter said. "You have a weak mind, you know that? He's here after us. Balthazar wants Athene and Jandar and any of us he can get. He plans to invade Tir Na. You're to be their slaves again."
Two guards came running in to answer there king's call.
"NEVER!!" Drake got up and grabbed Tanis. "You think we can't protect ourselves? Let them come and see. Tir Na will never be slaves again to anyone! And you, Valkar can deal with. Put him in our dungeon."
"Wait." He said. "You're right. I know you won't trust me, but you should know not all of Balthazar's people agree with him. Some of us hate him. He's killed people we love. If I get the chance to earn your trust, I'll do what I can. And my name is Tanis. Tanis Gaelich. Balthazar is my father. You're my uncle and you are my sister."
The guards led him go as everyone stood there with their mouths open in shock.
"Is that true?" Athene asked Cutter. "Is he my brother?"
"Yes, he's not lying." Cutter told them. "Everything he said was true. I guess you didn't know you had a brother?"
"My mother died giving birth to me. So he must be from one of his coven. I didn't know."
"Neither did I." Arturus said. "We've been hiding from him for so long. So what do we do now?"
"We get Tir Na ready for anything Balthazar sends against us." Drake said. "I have more warriors than they do so fighting won't be a problem. Jandar, all this god business is in your hands. You have the magic anyway to fight them. We will keep Balthazar busy here. Tell Valkar I will give him all the help I can."
"What about Tanis?" Athene asked. "What will you do with him?"
"Take him if you want." Drake walked over and hugged them all. "Be careful, please."
"You too father. Kiss Mother and Sharone for us.”