The Dragons of Keanna - Book II
by Jandar Tyr
All alone on the balcony of her Altorian Mansion, Muerte looked out on the city she knew would soon be hers. She could hear her children out there getting stronger every day. She smiled and thought there was no way the Dragons could stop her now. Even the incompetency of Balthazar couldn't hurt her anymore. Of course there were things that could still go against her. She could be discovered here. Muerte looked around, this place wouldn't do. She needed a more secure base to call home. Someplace she could defend. Someplace where she could see her enemies coming. Somewhere hidden where she could be comfortable. Yadessa came to mind. But there was too much intrigue there. Besides, she didn't trust Balthazar. So where else could she go? Maybe if she sent out the capture spell she could find something. Her next divine victim? No, she knew she needed to do it one task at a time.
Spreading her arms she shifted to a dark eagle and flew off into the hills and mountains, Muerte stayed high and flew straight. She was in new territory now and her search began. Muerte didn't notice the beauty of the landscape she was flying over. All she could see was how she could use it. Was it accessible to her enemies? Could she defend it? Where would the perfect place for her be? She was thinking a remote cave out in the forest, but she was no damn bat to be hiding in the dark. From up high she could spy everything around her. The lush forest spread out under her. She saw signs of people. Small roads and trails. She followed the road to a small village with a modest manor for the duke or duchess who ruled there. That looked perfect. It was in an out of the way place far enough away from Yadessa and very far from the dragons.
Muerte spiraled down and perched in a tree to watch. Whoever the noble was, he didn't have a big household. That was fine with her plans. And the small village that she had seen was perfect to. This place was isolated, easy to defend and no one knew of it she thought. Just what she wanted.
Muerte watched from the trees as the sun made its descent into the mountains. A few more hours and this sleepy burg would be on its way to being hers. She wondered what this place was called. It didn't matter, she would know all its secrets soon.
One by one the lights in the windows of the village began to come on. Muerte watched the castle as it began to light up. She flew around and noticed there were few guards at night. She would change that, can’t have her home unprotected. Muerte looked on the castle with magic sight. She didn't see any spells or enchantments on it. That was good she thought. That means no magical protection, not that it would stop her if there were. Soon the room she guessed to belong to the master of the house went dark. All that would be awake now would be servants and a few guards. It was time to move.
She took one more circle of the castle and landed on the window sill of the master bedroom. Opening the window would be easy. A simple spell was all she needed. Quietly the window swung open and she dropped in. Muerte shifted to her beautiful form and began to hum her hypnotic tune. She looked around and saw a lavishly decorated bedroom with a canopy bed and handsome older gentleman sound asleep. He wouldn’t sleep long, her song would wake him. He would be entranced, under her control. As she moved closer he sat up. She could see he was dazed by the look in his eyes. She moved to the curtains and pushed them aside. He turned to look at her.
"What place is this?" She asked as she sat down at his side. She reached over to caress his face. He reminded her of someone. Someone she loved? Impossible, She didn't love anyone. Then a face flashed in her mind. A handsome man. She could almost see his face, say his name. Vit... Then it was gone.
"Jorania." He told her.
"And you are?"
She kissed his neck. His smell made her hunger more intense. He looked into her eyes knowing he would give her anything she asked of him. His thoughts were so clear to her to read. She smiled.
"I am Alore Trison." He told her. He felt weak in her arms. "I am Duke of Jorania. Last of my family."
"I will make you eternal Alore." She kissed his neck. "You and all your people will be blessed by my kiss. Would you like that?"
"I want whatever will please you Mistress."
Drool ran down his cheek. All his will was gone now. There was no way he could resist her. She could rip off his arm and he wouldn't feel a thing but pleasure. Muerte smiled and bent toward his neck. She bit him and drank deep, savoring the taste of his life as it ran down her throat. This was the last day of Duke Trison's life. He gave it to Muerte with no regrets, while deep inside his soul screamed out in horror.
It didn't take Muerte long to infect the rest of the castle and make the whole village hers. One week and she was in total control. Slowly people were called to the castle and changed. The streets became empty by day. All the people In Jorania wondered what was happening. None guessed at the truth. No one was allowed to run. The change was quick. Every man, woman and child soon became vampires. Now that she had a safe place, she could move on to her next task. Power, acquiring more power.
Muerte set her sights on her next victim. And she had a few in mind. First, the mountain god called Dirod. He was a low level earth deity worshipped by many near Jorania. He wouldn't be hard to take. Her beauty and the spell is all she needed. She cast her spell and waited for his arrival.
Deep in the mountain Dirod slept. He was a sour god known to shake his mountains any time he felt the least bit annoyed. And it was very easy to annoy him. If he felt he wasn’t getting his due, he shook the mountains. If he was annoyed with another god, again the mountains shook. Man annoyed him most. Taking things from him without proper homage really upset him. He didn't mind mining, just give him his due first. Now he felt someone calling on him, drawing him to them. Someone would pay for this disturbance, Dirod was a stout god. He was bald and wore the leather kilt and harness of a warrior. He carried a hammer with him at all times. That way he could create or destroy as his mood took him.
Bashing his hammer into the side of his mountain, Dirod took his leave. He moved through the mountain like a fish through water until he reached the surface. Then he called forth from the ground a large boulder to carry him. With a heavy brow he was away, following the call he had received.
Rage sat behind his desk and thought about all the things that had happened lately. He had heard from Shayn and Ono about their venture to the mountain. It seemed they were right, the mountain was off limits to them. If Aramis once lived there, then he was more then he seemed. Jandar had told him Aramis had powerful emanations, and there was something trusting about him. Blaze and Jandar both could feel the good in him. Rage had had a long talk with Blaze after they left. He said Aramis could be trusted. He told Rage they had both handled the Salvation stones. That was enough for him.
Next he talked to Eheren and Valkar about the vampire scourge. Eheren confirmed the vampire was the woman Aramis was searching for and that she was a power that threatened all the lands. Valkar, Azeal and the Shadows were out at night destroying all the night walkers they could. Rage could see how tired they were. But he didn’t think this was the way to win this battle. They had to find another way. Soon she would be calling on their lands. This Valkar warned him. When she thought she had enough, she would come out of hiding and make her move. Valkar thought Yadessa would be important to her. With Balthazar on the throne, it was the perfect place to start. He knew he had to get back his throne or his people and his country were doomed. Jandar agreed. So did Drake his father. Being next to Yadessa, Tir Na would suffer with the vampires. That they all agreed on. It was time the dragons entered the into this conflict.
What they needed most was knowledge. What exactly was going on? There was one person he knew that might be able to tell him. Someone he met long ago. He had no idea how to reach the gypsy. But he had to find him soon.
Thousands of years ago there lived a glorious golden lizard. He spent most of his days sunning himself on the beach or hunting food for himself. He was a smart animal, proud with very few enemies. He learned all about the natural traps of the lands, where the dangerous muds that he could sink in were. Why he should stay away from where the smoke came from the ground. What he could eat and where it was safe to sleep. All these things he learned in time as he ruled all he saw.
One day he came across a doe in a clearing. She was trapped, her leg under a log. He watched her as she sat and cried, she knew if she didn't get up, she would die there. He thought she was beautiful lying there so sad. He'd never felt this way about pray before and he was hungry. Slowly he moved forward until she saw him. Tears rolled from her eyes, she knew why he was there. Suddenly his heart was filled with her sadness.
"Sir." She said. "I know you are hungry, but I have a baby that needs me. He will be killed and eaten without me to protect and guide him."
This didn't mean anything to him really, but for the first time he felt sorrow. Hungry as he was, her fear and sadness touched him. He walked closer to her, it was then he saw the other lizard about to attack her.
"STOP!!" He said. "You will not kill this deer today!"
"Why not?" The other lizard said as its tongue slipped from its mouth to taste the scent of the deer.
"Because I will fight for its life." The Gold one said.
"Then you plan to eat it?"
"No, I will free it, so it can go home."
The Gold Lizard stomped its feet trying to be aggressive.
"That is not our way." And the Dark lizard moved one step forward. "We feed on the weak and the injured. That is our law."
"I don't care." The Gold Lizard jumped over the deer and stood its ground ready to fight the dark bigger lizard.
"Fight me." It said. "But if I lose, promise to free the deer and let it be on its way. Then you can eat me and we all win."
"How do you win?" He asked. "You will be dead. How do you know I will keep my promise?"
"I don't, but I will have done all I can." The Gold lizard stood proud. "I will fight for the weak. To give her one more day. If I win, you will part injured or you will die, If I will lose, you will leave fatter and she will be free. I will trust your word. What do you say?"
The dark lizard began to laugh out loud. The Gold lizard thought that meant they were going to fight. He readied himself.
"There’s no need to fight." The deer said from behind him. Gold looked back and saw the deer was gone. It had changed into a beautiful light floating in the air before him. Nothing like this had ever happened to him before. He had seen the strange lights at night, but never talked to them. He stared it the light, it was so warm and beautiful.
"NO OTHER ANIMAL HAS EVER DONE THIS FOR ANOTHER. TELL ME. WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU MEET THE DEER TOMORROW, OR ANOTHER DEER?"
"My days of killing are over." The Gold one said. "I guess that means I grow weak and die, for I can not do this anymore."
"NO YOU WILL NOT DIE." He said as the light lifted up over its head and glowed brighter. "FOR THE WORLD WILL NEED YOUR KIND SOON. THERE ARE THOSE WHO WILL NEED YOUR PROTECTION. YOU ARE TO BE THE FIRST IN A LONG LINE OF PROTECTORS TO HELP THIS WORLD GROW. I WILL GIVE YOU ALL SOMETHING TO HELP PROTECT ALL MY GOOD CHILDREN. STAND TALL MY GOLDEN DRAGON. RISE AND BE MY FIRST CHAMPION, VALEN."
The Gold lizard pushed itself up as the air around it began to shimmer and the change began. From a large lizard, a great dragon was born. He was given fire to control, and he learned to fly and to make storms. He was taught how to shape the earth and make the water obey his commands. He was given the name Valen and he learned many different kinds of magic in the days ahead. He learned to make spells and to make things happen with a simple gesture. The last gift he received was his far sight. He was taught how to look for things that could be a danger to all he protected in the time ahead, and how to use the knowledge.
As time moved on he found others of his kind. Dragons of all types and colors with many different abilities, but none he couldn't master. Valen set the dragons to live in many different areas and take care of all the different races that emerged.
Close to him he kept four dragons. These he called his clan. The first was called Jade. She was an earth dragon. She enjoyed showing others what the Earth could produce with a little patience. She was very lovely in her green scales but could be deadly where angered, for she could kill with dust and rock. Then the water dragon Maxius. A strong blue dragon. He was very even tempered and fair to all that came to ask for his help. He could see into your true soul. It seemed all the hostility in one’s soul was clear to him. Next was Arik, the lofty happy air dragon in his powerful Topaz coat of armor. He loved flying and would always be found in the air. Keeping the weather and Keanna’s children safe from storms. None but Valen could match him in the air.
Valen was closest to Fiero, his flame breathing brother. Fiero was his second and could always be counted on to make the right decisions. That was good because he was in control when Valen was away. Valen had taught Fiero the ways of magic, As his second, he never wanted to leave his clan unprepared when he was away. These were the dragons in Valens clan. The Protectors.
First came the elves that lived in and with the trees. The forest were once filled with their laughter and there games. They didn't seem to want to learn anything but to play. Then one came that changed their way of life. He had a need. A need to control others. Valen wasn't sure this was a good idea. He thought they all should live their own lives to the fullest as they wished. But as he watched, they began to work together and build wondrous cities high in the trees. This pleased him. They were growing. Then things started to change. Different kinds of elves began to appear. Dark elves, fire elves, all different. Then the fairies with their beautiful delicate wings and the first to use magic. This worried the dragons. Up until now, they were the only ones with magic. Then the dark races, Trolls, Gremlins, Orcs. Valen didn't like the way things were going, but he keep his pact and protected them all, mostly from themselves. Then dwarves came to work the lands and mine for the metals to make tools. He saw this as progress. He knew the world would stagnate without new ideas, so he encouraged them all to move forward. Then man was born. The gods promised him they were to be their biggest worry. Then said watch them, for we have made them smart and given them ambition and pride.
For years the dragons watched. Then one day, a human used magic. that day the dragons knew the future was no longer so clear to them. Things would become difficult for all of them. Now Valen saw trouble on its way. He saw darkness coming and prayed to all the gods to guide him. As the years passed Valen and his clan saw many battles and enemies pass. He watched the rise of the Vampires and the making of the Werewolves. Valen was the enemy of any kind of slavery. He and his clan fought against the concept until the races saw the true horrors of it. Of course not all races were so enlightened, so the battle moved on. In their way, they were involved in all conflicts. In some they were visible, standing out to fight for the weak. In some, they were invisible, hiding and helping from a distance.
The Dragon Wars. This was a war close to The First Clan. There wasn't an onyx dragon in there clan and Valen didn't know about merging until then. He knew he had to find out for himself more about the passions of these humans. What were they about? How did their emotions rule there live? Were they worth all this struggle? So he found a young gypsy boy and watched him until he was certain he was a good man. Then Valen sat and told him what he wanted. A better understanding of humanity. He told the gypsy he wasn't sure how this would affect him, but that he knew this would help him serve everyone. The gypsy agreed and they became one. Valen learned he would now be sharing his life and powers with the gypsy. And all his thoughts of man became clearer. He understood them now. He saw the importance of man, he knew the future was still unclear but man was indeed worthy of their respect. Evil was his real enemy and Valen knew what he had to do. So he gathered his clan and went to work. The Dragon wars were on and Valen would use all his magic to end them. They were the Protector. And they would protect.
Late after the midnight hour, four figures flew through the quiet night. There's was a mission to save a dead man. A man that had died long ago and committed much evil in his time. But that was a different time. And the soul they sought to save had spent centuries being tortured for his past deeds. He never believed it, but it was true. There was no rest for the wicked. The soul was that of Baron Valkar. The first lord of the living dead. He was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, the beginning of a race with a very bloody and arrogant streak. The vampire thought they were to be the master race and everyone should serve them by right of power. This theory Baron Valkar instilled into them from the beginning. It was passed on to him by his master, the one that made him. He was told to go out and make the world hers. And he did as he was told. For years they stalked the innocents as they were hunted. They created the Werewolves to serve them as slaves. And this went on until they had their own lands.
Yadessa, home of the Vampires. Ruled by the Zlenka line. Baron Valkar ruled aggressively for hundreds of years by magic and blood. No man could come anywhere near Yadessa without being hunted by vampire or werewolves. His end came at the end of the Vampire/Werewolf war at the hands of the lead werewolf, his enemy. Azeal Tyr, a descendant of Jandar.
Being the cruel man he was, Valkar had started the war himself. He killed Azeal's son without a care like the boy was a bug in his way. That was the last insult for a slave race. No longer would they bow to oppressors or be used by them. Azeal gathered his people and fought back. They took the war to the vampires and for many years battled on. In the end Valkar was betrayed and trapped by Azeal. Bought back to the Castle where it all started. The Baron was put to death in a way that befitted his rank. The stake, the sword and fire. He was chained down with silver, then staked in the heart, beheaded and burned. That was the end of Baron Valkar Zlenka. Everyone thought the soul would burn in Hell for his evil, and they were right. Baron Valkar was sentenced to the fiery pits in the underworld where he was beaten, bitten and burned for centuries at night by his victims. He felt the werewolves rage as they set him ablaze every night in his hell. He learned remorse the hard way. It wasn't sorrow for his lot he endured but remorse for the horrors he had done to his people and his victims. He generally was really sorry for his acts. He had been watching his descendant King Valkar, his namesake. What a good man he was. The Baron learned love from afar. He also saw the change come in his people and was glad they got to overcome his influence. Now he had a chance to do good himself, to help his great, great, great, great grandson against the same evil that corrupted him. Muerte and her evil. This time he wouldn't fail. With help he could save Valkar, his people and maybe his soul. But he had to be free to do it.
That's where Eheren came in. Eheren had to find a way to free him from her with only the Barons word to go on and his magic. The knowledge of who she was the Baron was not allowed to reveal. Eheren would have to learn what he could on his own.
As they flew Tanis was lost in thoughts. He had many questions he wanted to ask, but he didn't know how to broach the subject. Would the questions upset Eheren?
[Only if you don't ask them.] He heard in his head. He was startled that Eheren had heard him.
[You’re riding on my back.] Eheren told him... [I can’t help but hear. Ask your questions.]
"Why are you helping the most evil man in Yadessian history?"
[Yes, the Baron is thought of that way. But can't centuries of torture in his hell pay for his deeds? When is he to be put to rest? A thousand more years? I can see his pain and I feel it’s time to let it go. He wants redemption. Who has the right to deny him his peace? You? King Valkar?]
"But he killed thousands!" Tanis said.
"And how many has Balthazar killed? Hundreds?" Kalin Ka asked riding next to him on Denners back. "Maybe more, and for what? Power just like the Baron."
Tanis's face went white in embarrassment. He had stood at his father's side and watched him kill. He felt the guilt burning in him.
[Don't you think he feels that guilt too?] Eheren pointed out. [He deserves to rest and I know this will help both the Valkar’s and your people. So tell me to turn back and we will. What's it to be? You decide.]
Tanis sat back and thought about Eheren's words. He knew if he could save just one of his father’s victims, he would. How could he deny the Baron the chance to make up for his sins? After all, isn't that his quest too?
"You have my support." He told the dragon under him. "No more stupid questions."
[The only stupid question is the one not asked.] Eheren said. [Never be afraid to ask any of us a question. We’re only glad to answer.]
"Then where are we off to?" He asked.
[As far as I know, there's only two ways to capture or free a soul.] Eheren told them.
"I know another." Kalin said. "Trade lives."
"What do you mean?" Tanis asked.
"It's a sacrifice." He said. "One gives his life for the other."
[That's a pretty drastic act.] Denner said. [I hope it doesn't come to that.]
[So do I.] Eheren told them. [As a spirit, I was lucky Shine chose me.]
"You were a spirit?" Tanis asked. He was intrigued by their stories and wanted to hear more.
[I've been through many changes in my life.] Eheren said. [But that's not why we’re here. Back to how we save the Baron. There are powerful spells that could free him and release his soul to move on.]
Flying next to Eheren in the guise of a great gryphon, Denner listened to their conversation. He knew of some of Eheren’s life. Things that happened before Shine merged with Eheren, and he learned more from Rage and Jandar. He had trust in Eheren as he now called himself. He even saved Shines life once. Now he followed him on this mission, ready to help in any way he could.
[What books?] Denner asked. [Is that what we're looking for?]
[Yes.] He said. [As I said, there are spells that could help free the Baron. The other way is to find his grave as you said. Then call him from it and free him. But that takes a special kind of magic that I don't possess and don't want.]
[Necromancy.] Denner said. He shuddered at the memory of Polan the last necromancer and the things he did.
[I don't blame you.] He said. [I hope we never see another one. Then we're looking for some magic book?]
[Not just some book. The Arcane volume of Ganon.] He told them. [A book of spells so powerful the gods hid them themselves out of fear.]
"Gods!' Tanis said. "Such foolishness."
[You have no idea Tanis.] Denner said.
[You don't believe? There’s so much you don't know or understand. Believe me when I say they're real and closer than you think.]
Tanis looked at the golden gryphon next to him. How could he believe in such things?
[Because they're real.] Eheren told him. [We have encountered such beings. You want evidence? Look at Jayce and then tell me you have doubts.]
"I've a lot to learn." He said.
[Yeah, you do.] Denner told him. [Just keep your eyes open and you'll see. I can guarantee you that.]
"So how do we find this book?" Tanis moved around a bit to make himself more comfortable. All this magic was beyond him and hard for him to understand.
[The Baron will help us.] Eheren sent.
"I have something to tell you all." Kalin called out. His robes flapping in the wind as he rode behind Denners wings. Tanis looked over and Eheren and Denner listened. They all wondered what the revelation would be.
"I know a large amount about Ganon." He told them. "He's an ancestor of mine. My family still holds much of his notes and books."
[Do you have the Tombs we seek?] Eheren asked.
"No." He said. "As you said they were taken when he died. This I know."
[Then we're back where we started.] Denner sent to them all.
"Not quite." Kalin smiled. "I have clues to where they will be found."
[Then we follow your lead Kalin.] Eheren said. He was glad they had a direction and an objection in sight.
"Head west. There are pages not too far away."