The Dragons of Keanna - Book II
by Jandar Tyr
With sad eyes, Aramis and his brothers returned to Keanna to figure out their next move. Jandar had told them of the dead lands Muerte had left. This seemed like it would be a place they should investigate. As they landed they could feel her presence all around them. Aramis found many dead animals lying around. This was her death magic, he could tell.
"So what do we do now?" Atol asked as he walked around the camp. "She's devastated the lands here, home is but a memory now, What do we do?"
"We do what father would want us to do." Aramis said. "We have to end this."
Jax nodded, he still wasn't use to talking so he was silent for now. But the memories of what he saw in Fortis still overwhelmed him. He wasn't use to the thought of any gods dying, but he had seen it with his own eyes. How could she be so powerful? Jax didn't know how they could destroy her, but there had to be a way. Then Jax remember the last words he heard as they were leaving.
"Did either of you hear mother's voice before we left Fortis?
Aramis and Atol looked over to Jax in astonishment, then at one another. Neither of them had heard her or anything else.
"What are you talking about?" Aramis asked as he wandered around the clearing.
"As we made to leave Fortis. I heard a voice." Jax told them as he sat on a log. "It was mother's voice."
"What did she say?" Aramis asked. He moved over from the forest edge where he was listening for any sounds of life. He didn't hear anything. Jandar was right, Muerte had killed the entire forest and all the surrounding lands
"She said to find Alea and free her." Alee's eyes brightened up at his sister's name. He had searched for years for her, him and Nestor. But this time they had to succeed.
"So we find her this time." Atol said. "But where?"
"That's easy." Aramis said.
"Yeah?" Alee held his arms. "Where is she?"
"Up there, every night." He pointed up into the sky. The rest of them looked up and frowned. Alee smacked his head.
"Of course." He said, "She still has to make her ride. She just disappears when her rides over."
"But the problem is, we have to free her." Jax told them. "And there's only one way to break that spell. We have to know it. And unless you have a plan that will make Muerte tell us the spell, we have a problem."
"There has to be a way to get that spell." Atol said as he paced around the camp. All the rest of his brothers sat and thought. They racked their brains for an answer.
"Where was she when it happened?" Alee asked.
"She was in Yadessa." Aramis told them. Atol stopped and looked at him.
"You mean the home of the vampires?"
"Yes." Jax said. "She started it there with the Baron."
"Baron Valkar?" Atol asked. "Valkar's resurrected ancestor?"
"He was the first it's been said." Jax jumped to his feet. "You think it's possible?"
"If he was there." Aramis said. "He may know something."
"Well he's in Prafa with the rest of them." Alee said as he stood.
"Then that's where we go next." Aramis reached out to help Jax up. "Let's get onto Prafa."
As Prafa slept Tanis hurried down the street heading for Luther's house. His father Balthazar had told him that Dragons were attacking Yadessa. Rage and Valkar had to be told. He rushed up to the front of Luther's house and pounded on the door. He could hear someone shuffling to the door.
"Hold on, I'm coming." He heard just before the door opened. "Master Tanis, what in the world do you want at this hour?"
"I need to see Valkar now." He said.
"He's sleeping, can't it wait?" Grumbled Luther.
"No it can't." Tanis pushed past him and strode towards the stairway up to the upper floor. Once there he walked to the last door in the hall and knocked. To his right a door opened and Azeal stepped out.
"Tanis. what are you doing?" He asked.
"Trouble in Yadessa." He said. Azeal looked at him in surprise. "Can you get Rage? We need him."
"I'll call him now." As they talked Valkar opened his door, he was dressed in a golden colored robe. He yawned then looked to his guest.
"Is something wrong?" He asked.
"Yadessa is under attack." Tanis told him.
"What!!" In shock Valkar threw open his door to let them in as he threw off his robe and started getting dressed
"How do you know this?" He asked. "And who's attacking? Azeal, get my boots from the closet."
As Azeal retrieved his father's boots, Tanis told him about Balthazar's message.
"Dragons?" He stopped and turned to them. "Rage?"
"No." Azeal said. "Rage knows nothing about this. He said he's on his way to Yadessa to help. He wants to know what you want to do?"
Valkar got in his pants and fastened them while he thought about it. He knew he had to respond to Balthazar's request and he would need Rage and the other Dragons. This could be his way back into Yadessa. But he knew he couldn't do this covertly, he had to get Yadessa back honorably. Valkar grabbed his jacket and made for the door.
"Eheren is in Prafa right?"
"Yes." Azeal told him as he followed his father and Tanis down the hall.
"Tell Rage to meet us in the air outside of Yadessa." He said. "And have Eheren meet us at the gates. We fly tonight."
Deep in the underworld tensions were high. Azeal Tyr, had gathered together many different souls to fight Muerte when she came back. Unfortunately they all knew this was to be a suicide mission. Many were scared. They had no idea what would happen if they were struck down by her. Azeal told them there wasn't really much of a choice. Muerte had planned to empty the underworld, and no one would be coming back. This didn't frighten Azeal, doing the same thing to the living world did. For centuries he had been talking to the newly arrived, and he knew the Werewolves flourished. He even knew of his ancestor. Especially the tales of a certain werewolf mage from Tir Na and his family. Baron Valkar had told him of Jandar and Rage and their fights to save both races, and others. He was proud of them. This was what he had fought for all those centuries ago. Now it was time to do it again and he was ready.
"Love." Rage shook Jandar awake, "Wake up. We have to go."
"What? What's wrong." Jandar asked as he sat up. "Is everyone alright? Ono and Shayn?"
"Their fine." Rage said as he pushed away the covers and got up to dress.
"Then what is it?" Jandar asked.
"There's been a dragon attack." He said. He grabbed clothing for the both of them and tossed some to Jandar.
"That's impossible!!" Jandar shouted as he dressed. "What dragons? None of our clan would attack. Who's being attacked?"
"Yadessa." Rage told him. He grabbed his crimson jacket and was ready to go but he waited while Jandar got dressed in a hurry. Together they left their suite and headed out of the manor. As they walked Jandar called Dreik and Denner. They told them Valkar had trouble and to meet them at the gate.
"So where do you think these dragons came from?" Jandar asked.
"I don't know." He said. "But there's someone we could ask that might know."
"Who?" Jandar asked as they left the manor.
"Valen." Rage explained. "As the first dragon he should know the whereabouts of all the dragon clans. If there are renegade dragons loose, he'll know about them."
Outside the manor the streets of New Keanna were busy with people going about their business. Dreik, Cutter and Denner caught up with them as they headed towards the gates.
"What's going on?" Dreik asked.
"Yadessa is being attacked." Rage told them.
"By who?" Denner asked.
"Dragons." Jandar said.
"Dragon?" Dreik said. He turned to Cutter "Can you sense anything?"
"I feel confusion and pain." Cutter said. "And it's not from any of us. It's from Valen's clan."
Rage stopped and looked at Cutter.
"Yes." He said. "There's more than just him and Jade. There's three more dragons in his clan."
"But why would they be attacking?" Denner asked.
"And why hasn't Valen done something about it?" Jandar asked. "Where is he anyway?"
"I don't know." Rage told them. "We do need to find him. That's a job for Shayn and Ono."
"I'll call them as we fly." Jandar said.
At the gate Rage waved to the gatekeeper. They waved back and hit the switch to activate the gate system. As Rage and the others stood at the gate it slowly rose over their heads. Once open, they stepped out and started down the road.
"We don't know what's going on in Yadessa." Rage said. "And we can't trust Balthazar, he may be behind this. Be careful. We don't want any of you hurt."
With that, Rage shifted to dragon form and Jandar climbed on his back and they took off. Denner took the form of a Pegasus and Dreik climbed on. Denner spread his wings and they took off with Cutter to Yadessa to battle their own kind.
In the town of Relos the day had gone peacefully as usual. Farmers worked their fields, shopkeepers tended their stores and children played. In the hills above town, something lurked in the woods watching. Its eyes red with rage and death on its mind. Below the hill was a road into town. Slowly it crept out of the woods and down to the road. Just off the road inside the walled city stood a few farms. No one knew what was watching their little town, but soon no one would be safe.
In the furthest farm out from town, something knocked down the fence and found the farms cattle. They were fenced into a pen that kept them from wandering into the farms fields and crops. From the field hands cabin, the hands heard frantic panicked sounds coming from the pens. There Jeb and Luis, the two hands grabbed swords and ran for the pens. They thought someone must be trying to rustle the farm's herd. When they arrived they saw something that chilled their souls. Every cow and bull in the pens was dead. Cut and slashed apart. They walked through the carnage wondering what could have done it. Next to the pens stood a small barn where they kept the feed for the chickens and other farming equipment. Suddenly they heard noises coming from there. Pulling their swords from the sheaths they advance on the barn. They could hear growling coming out of the barn. Something must have dragged one of the cattle in there to feed on it. What kind of beast could do this? They didn't know, but they would soon find out. Carefully they reached for the barn door and pulled it open. Jeb looked in. He saw nothing and waved his companion in. With swords out and ready they went in. Checking from side to side the two men searched the stacks of feed and hay stored there. There was a strange smell in the air. It was rank and made them gag for a second. Suddenly something moved over their heads. They both looked up to see a shadow move on the wall. Neither of them could tell what it was. It looked like a large man in rags. Then they heard a strange growl that made their skin crawl.
"Up there." Luis pointed. Together they made their way over to the ladder that would take them up to the loft upstairs. From behind their backs the both pulled knives to go along with the swords. Now they were ready for anything. Just then bales of hay came flying at them from where they had heard the noises. They both dived to the side just in time to keep from getting hit. As they stood they saw it. It wasn't a man and they weren't sure if it was a beast. It had to be close to eight feet tall covered with long brown shaggy fur or hair. Its eyes were beast like and red. Its teeth were long and looked like it could chew through anything. The creature had long arms ending with clawed hands that were covered with blood. It roared and jumped at them. Fear filled both men as they were attacked. Jeb tried to slash at the creature's chest. The blade just slid off causing no damage at all. The other hand ran at it and tried to stab at its back. Again, no damage. With a roar it grabbed Jeb and ripped him in two and threw him through the barn wall. After seeing this, Luis tried to turn and run. But it was too late. A long arm reached out and grabbed his arm and pulled him back to it. It raised him up to face it and opened its mouth. This was the face of the most horrid death, and the last thing the man saw as his throat was bitten into. Bloody, Antilles dropped the man and walked out of the barn and turned towards the town. Savage death was on its way to Relos.
In the forest of Azia, a winged monster flew back and landed on the crumbling ruins of a pyramid. Once this was his pyramid, now it was nothing. Cressca was displeased. He had lost all his disciples and sacrifices, but he knew where to find more. All the children and adults of Azia would be his soon. Cressca took a deep breath and let out a silent scream. A hypnotic scream that he knew would draw the people of Azia to him. He folded his wings and took the form of the black robed priest he favored and waited for his food to arrive.
In the sleepy villages of Azia everybody was sound asleep in their beds. Children were dreaming of playing in the fields or going on fantastic adventures. Parents dreamed of casual days without working their fields and just lazing around when a strange noise slipped into their heads. It was a call to them in their sleep that none of them could ignore. Throwing off their covers they all climbed out of their beds and left their houses. None of them awake, but all of them suddenly afraid. The noise told them which way to go. Doors opened in all the houses in all the villages and everyone headed into the forest. None of them knew the horror which called them and none could guess that death was the end of their journey, but on they walked.
"AHHHHHHHH!!!!!" Shayn screamed as he woke from the nightmare. Next to him Ono jumped up. He looked around ready to shift and fight whatever was threatening his love. He found nothing there. He reached over and took Shayn in his arms to soothe his fears
"Shhh love." He said. "There's nothing here."
"But there is." Shayn cried into his shoulder. "But not here. It's out there. She set free things that are killing people. I saw it, I saw it!!
"It's just a dream Shayn." Ono kissed his face.
"No." He said, tears running down his face. "It's real Ono. You above all have to believe me. I saw a monster killing people in a town called Relos. It was a big thing ripping into people as they tried to fight it. I saw people running and hiding. But it found them and killed them. I can show you if you don't believe me."
"No, I believe you." Ono told him. "I saw your dreams, I just didn't want to believe it."
"We have to do something." Shayn got up out of bed and grabbed a pair of shorts from the chest and put them on.
"Jandar will know what to do." He said as he finished dressing
"Rage and Jandar left." Ono told him. "They're on their way to Yadessa."
"Get dressed." Shayn told him "Toric is still here. And Jayce and the Shadows. We'll fill Jandar and Rage in as we go. Come on hurry!!"
In Prafa, Athene tossed and turned in her sleep. She was dreaming of a dark figure in a forest calling out to draw people to their deaths. She bolted up in her bed soaked with sweat a scream on her lips. Her door opened and her mother Angela rushed into her bed.
"What is it Athene?" She sat on the bed and hugged her.
"I saw something in my dreams." She said. "It was horrible"
"Sweetheart, it's just a nightmare."
Athene pushed back from her mother and looked her deeply in her eyes.
"Not my dreams, Mother." She said. "My dreams are not like others. I see things in my dreams, real things. Things that are happening, future and past."
"What did you see?" Angela asked.
"Cressca, he's alive and back." Athene told her mother.
Angela drew a breath. She knew the name and what Cressca was. He was another death god. Just what they needed.
"What do you want to do?" Her mother asked.
Athene threw off the blankets and got out of bed.
"The time for fear is over." She said. "Muerte is behind this. It's time to destroy her and all her evil once and for all."
The moon had just began its ride through the skies when four men appeared inside the gates of Prafa and met up with the city guards. They had met the guards before, so they let them pass into the city. Off into the sleeping city they moved on their mission to find the one they needed, Baron Valkar.
"How do we find him?" Alee asked his brother.
"Valkar will know where he is." Aramis put his hand to his temple and concentrated. He was searching the town for Valkar or anyone he knew. He found two powerful minds in town. Women.
"Valkar's not here." He told his brothers.
"Try calling out to Rage or Jandar." Jax told him.
[Aramis. Where are you?] He answered.
[In Prafa, looking for Valkar.]
[He's here in Yadessa with us.] Jandar told him. [We have a serious problem on our hands.]
[So do we.] Aramis added. [We have to find Baron Valkar. It's urgent. He may be the answer to ending all of this]
[What do you mean?] Jandar asked.
[My brothers and I have to take care of Muerte. She's too powerful.] He told his friend. [We think Baron Valkar can help us.]
[Valkar says to go to the big house in the rear of Prafa. Find the blacksmith's house. Once inside, call him. He will come.]
[Thank you. Call us if you need our help.]
[We just might.] Jandar said. [Good luck.]
"We go this way." Aramis pointed.
Prafa was quiet in the night. No one walked the streets except the sentries set to protect the city. Jandar had said the blacksmith's house would be found in the back of the city. It didn't take them long to find it. Quietly they stepped up to the door and Jax knocked. It wasn't long before a young lady dressed in black answered the door.
"Aramis?" She said.
"Lady Athene, I'm glad to see you." Aramis reached out and hugged her. Behind him Jax smiled as he saw his friend. She hugged him next.
"I'm glad to see you both." she said. Come in."
"Thank you. These are my brothers." He introduced them to her. "Atol and Alee."
Atol took her hand and kissed it
"It's a pleasure to meet you fair lady." He smiled and bowed to her. Athene blushed at his gesture. It wasn't everyday she was faced with such gallantry.
"I guess you know what's going on?" She showed them to the parlor and they sat down.
"You mean what's happening in Yadessa." Jax said. "Yes, Jandar informed us."
"No." she said with a worried look. "So much more has happened."
"What do you mean" Alee asked.
"Muerte has set many things in motion." She explained. "In my dreams I've seen Cressca free. He's drawing all the people of Azia to him and their deaths. My mother and I were about to leave for Azia when you arrived."
"Cressca." Jax frowned. "That sick freak is loose again in the world."
"It figures." Atol said. "He's just like her. All he wants is death to make him more powerful."
"You'll need more than just the two of you to defeat him." Alee told her.
"I'll go with them." Jax said.
Suddenly a voice called out in their minds. It was Ono calling.
"It's Ono calling."
[Yes little brother.]
[Shayn and I want to make sure you and Angela are safe.] He sent. [Muerte is sending things out to ravage the lands.]
[Ono. its Aramis. We know about Cressca.] He sent [We're going to help put him down.]
[Cressca?] Ono asked in shock. [That monster's back?]
[Yes, what were you talking about?]
[I'm taking the Shadows to Relos after a beast that has torn that city apart.] He told them. [Shayn saw it in his dreams, I saw it too.]
[Ono.] Aramis sent. [You and Shayn stay in New Keanna. The Shadows can take care of what's out in Relos. There may be more to come. Who's left with you there?]
[Blaze, Ariel, Nautica, Toric, and Cheshire are here.] He told him. [Oh Blink and Icicle are here too.]
[Good, that should be enough for missions and to protect New Keanna.] Aramis told him. [With Jandar and Rage away, you and Shayn are in charge. I want you to keep Blink at your side and use the others when necessary. Stay in contact with me.]
[You could come back and take over here.]
[No I can't.] Aramis told him. [The magic of New Keanna depends on the Dragon clan. Jax and I can visit, maybe even live there. But we can't rule. Now you have work to do. Keep me and Jandar aware of what's going on. Be safe little brother.]
"Now, where is your mother?"
All heads turned to see the beautiful woman descending the staircase in the back of the room. Alee stood and caught his breath. He couldn't believe what he saw. It wasn't possible. Could this be?
"Alea?" He walked towards her and stopped at the bottom of the stairs
"We have to go Athene." She looked up then walked past Alee ignoring him.
"Mother, This is Lord Aramis and his brothers Jax, Atol, and Alee." She introduced them. "They're here to help us."
"Thank you for your help." Angela bowed. "We must hurry. Azia needs our help."
Jax stood up and looked at his brothers and put his finger to his lips to stop their next question. Then he went to the door and opened it for the ladies.
"We'll wait for you here." Aramis told them. "Be careful, Cressca is very dangerous."
Outside Jax led the woman to the gate in silence. He kept looking at Angela. He hadn't noticed how much Angela looked like Alea, but now that Alee had said something, he saw it. She did resemble his sister.
"How are we traveling?" Angela asked. "I can shift to my raven form as can Athene. How about you Lord Jax?"
"I can get us there." Clapping his hands twice the wind picked up and rushed around them and they disappeared.
Nothing moved on the streets of Relos. Nothing human at least. There were many crows, ravens and vultures and other wild animals feeding on the dead all over town. Many of the houses had also been torn apart as Antilles raged through town. Relos looked like a tornado had gone through hitting this house and missing that one. Most of the people that lived through the attack had made it away escaping earlier. But not everyone had escaped. Hidden in the debris of a shop, Will, a seventeen year old boy and his sister Beth hid from the horrors stalking the street. It had been just yesterday when something came into town and destroyed their peaceful life.
Relos was a walled in city. It had taken the people many years to build. They had to move lumber from the forest and into the lumber mill they built to make their homes, shops and the wall. The wall was built to protect them from raiders that plagued the area. These raiders had been living in the forest like savages for years preying on all the villages in the area. Once the wall was built their fears of the raiding were over. The only problem left was traveling on the road out of town. That they solved with the help of a mage they paid in Winterhaven who enchanted the road.
The wall surrounded all the farms and ranches in Relos. The only other access to Relos was by the river and Relos port. Ships infrequently came down the river bringing in supplies the city needed and giving passage to people coming and going.
But that was over now that the beast had arrived.
It was later in the afternoon and Will was on his way back from his father's fields when Beth ran up to him laughing. She jumped into his arms as they fell to the ground.
"Whoa!!" He laughed as she wrestled him on the ground. "You're in some kind of mood. What's going on?"
"He asked me." She said. Beth jumped and danced all around him.
"Who else Goofy? Tagger!!" She said. "He asked me to the festival."
"Oh him." Will frowned as they got up.
"What do you mean by that?" Beth had that look on her face that she always had when he had done something she thought was stupid.
"You know father doesn't like Tagger." Will said brushing off his shirt. "Not since that day he caught you two in the loft."
"But we weren't doing anything wrong!" she complained. "Just kissing."
"And you think that would be ok with father?" Will turned to her. She thought he looked just like father when he was trying to be stern with her. It made her smile knowing both of them cared so much.
"What are you smiling at?" He folded his arms.
"You silly." Beth took his arm in hers and they began to walk.
"You know soon both of you are going to have to see I'm not that little girl that followed you and your friends around all the time. I'm marrying age now. You can't protect me forever.”
Will stopped and looked at his younger sister.
"I'll always protect you." He said. "I don't care who you marry. You're my little sister and that's my job."
"I love you too." She smiled and hugged him. "We better get home. I have to tell mother so she can help me convince father."
It wasn't far to their home from the fields. They had to pass through the corn and the wheat fields before they got home. They talked as they walked. Beth told her brother about Tagger wrestling with the other boys then taking her down by the river where he asked her to the festival. How she had said yes and then fell into his arms. That was where he stopped her. He didn't want to hear any more details. Then they heard the screaming coming from town. It was horrible. It sounded like someone was being ripped apart. Will told Beth to go home; he was going to see what was going on.
"No, I'm going with you." She said. "Someone may need help."
Together they ran past their house. In a few minutes they rounded the corner of the tanners shop and saw something that almost scared them to death. There was a monster in town battling the town's men. Batting them aside, grabbing them and tearing them apart. Beth saw Tagger and his father with swords. She held her breath as she saw them attack the thing. With a mighty blow she saw Tagger struck down and she screamed. He was covered with blood and she knew he was dead. Will grabbed his sister and dragged her away screaming. He started for home when suddenly the thing had leaped in front of them. Will took her hand and backed away. Like soldiers, the men of Relos charged in to fight the monster. Then a strong hand grabbed Will by his shoulder, it was their father.
"Get Beth out of here. " He yelled. "Take her home once we clear the way."
"I'll fight with you father." Will pleaded. "At your side."
"No, you have to take care of your sister and your mother." He bent and hugged them both. "Promise me you will get them away from Relos as soon as you can."
"I will father." Will didn't want to go. But he always obeyed his father's wishes. He looked back it the fight and saw it wasn't going good. He looked at his father and knew this would be the last time he would see him alive. As he watched, the monster through back its head and howled. It was a blood curdling howl. Will didn't understand. It wasn't hurt. None of the men had landed a blow on it, so why was it howling?
Unknown to all, a call had been sent out. All through the forest, wild things heard the call. Wolves, bears, lions, all savage creatures heads turned and began to come from the forest and into Relos. From house to house they went attacking and killing the people. Antilles battled the men and his wild animals attacked their homes. No house or farm was safe. In his rage Antilles began tearing down the homes and shops. In one of these Will and his sister hid. They never made it back home to their mother's side so she died in their home alone. Father like the rest of the men of Relos was killed by Antilles, his body ripped and beaten in the streets. Will and his sister Beth were the last two surviving people in Relos, hiding in the ruins of Relos praying for someone to save them from what lurked in the streets.
High over Relos three figures rode the winds toward the town watching smoke rise from the ruins. Shayn had told Jayce about his dream and Cutter had confirmed it by sensing the towns fear. In their minds, Cutter had shown them what exactly that town had to fear. The monstrous terror that had come to Relos had also been in two other small villages with no survivors. With his magic, Kalin had shown them what Antilles was. Antilles was an animal elemental that had been cursed into being. His magic couldn't tell them where he had come from. But, he could tell it hadn't been long ago and the magic used was very powerful.
So off Shayn and Ono sent them to Relos. There mission was to find this Antilles and to stop it from destroying anybody else.
"There's Relos." Pelic pointed.
In the afternoon sun they saw the town surrounded by the broken wall. From up high they could see the burning buildings.
"The fires must have been set by oven and cook fires." Graym told them.
"Yeah." Jayce said. "I doubt the beast set them."
"No. But it caused them." Pelic focused on the fields and looked for trouble. "I see bodies, and they're being eaten."
"I see." Jayce said. "Any sign of what did this?"
"Not yet." Graym said flying in closer to them. "You think everyone's dead?"
"No." Jayce said concentrating on the burning town. "I can feel someone down there."
"Where?" Pelic asked. " I only see scavengers."
"I don't know." The blond angel said. "But there's somebody alive down there."
"What do you want to do?" Graym asked.
"We have to search this town. Building by building if we have to." Jayce said. "How's the shadow beast with fire?"
"Not good." Pelic called. "They won't burn, but they don't like the light thrown off by the fire. I can send them into the other ruins."
"Ok." Jayce said. "We go in. Both of you be careful. This thing is supposed to be savage. We have no idea how smart it is. Let's go."
Spiraling down they landed in the center of town. Fire blazed all around them and smoke filled the sky. Pulling their blades they moved on together.
"Send in the shadows." Jayce said.
Pelic nodded then opened his cloak. From his cloak emerged his shadow beast. They stopped and looked at Pelic. He sent them orders and they quickly took off running into town in different directions avoiding the fires.
"They'll be back when they find something." He said.
Cautiously they moved through the town. As the searched they had the feeling that something was watching them. They knew there were predators in town. They had to be careful of attacks.
"Maybe we should have brought Toric along." Graym said. "He could take care of these animals."
Suddenly from the side of a ruined house, something lunged out at them. It looked like a bear, but it was different. Bigger, more monstrous. It was at least eight feet tall with long curved claws that could rip through a man in a single swipe. As they backed away weapons in hand the bear thing roared at them.
"What the hell is this thing?" Graym asked.
"I don't know." Jayce said spreading his wings and taking to the air. "Don't let it touch you."
As Graym spread his wings he sent a row of his wing darts flying at the creature then took off. They struck it in the chest and it howled at them in pain and charged. Pelic was the only one left on the ground. As the bear thing came at him, he made himself intangible and it passed right through him. As it past, Pelic sent a magical charge through the beast knocking it to the ground. It scrambled around until it could get back to its feet. As the beast stood, Pelic rose up to join the other two Shadows in the air.
"Well." He said. "What now? How do we kill this thing."
"With this." Jayce held out Retribution. Narrowing his wings he went into a dive. As he passed over the beast, it swung at him. Turning to the side, it missed. Jayce stabbed down and pierced its chest. The bear grabbed at its wound and howled in pain. As Jayce rose back up into the air, Graym came in from behind it and slashed low cutting its legs out from under it. Down to the ground it fell again still trying to grab at Graym as it fell. Now the bear had only its front paws left to fight with. As it rolled on the ground, Jayce dropped back down in front of it. It roared and reached for him. Jayce raised Retribution one more time and with a mighty blow decapitated it
Suddenly an ear splitting scream was heard from somewhere in the forest. Jayce and the shadows looked at each other. A strange feeling swept through them. From the forest it sounded like everything had screamed at once
"What was that?" Graym asked.
"I think we may need some help."
Deep in the root cellar of Cyrus the pot seller, Will and Beth huddled in fear. Their world had come to an end. Everything and everyone they knew was now dead. Beth couldn't get the picture of her beau Taggers death out of her mind. No matter what Will did, he couldn't get her to respond. Her eyes just stared forward at the wall as her brother held and rocked her.
"We're going to be ok Beth." he whispered. "It's going to go away soon and we can get out of here."
From over in the corner, Will heard water running. All around them were scattered pottery. Will picked up a cup that was at his feet and tried to get up and go for water. Beth's eyes became frantic. She grabbed for him and pulled him back.
"NO, NO, NO!" She sobbed.
"Shhhhh!!” He hugged her. I'm only going over there for water. You're thirsty right? You want something to drink, right?"
She nodded and let him go.
"You can see me all the time." He said. Will got up with the cup and headed for where he heard the sound of water coming from. He never took his eyes off her and never let himself get out of her sight. She had the look of fear in her eyes, but he was glad to hear her voice again. As he stooped to filled the cup, he saw something move in the shadow. He tried to focus into the corner to see what it was. It looked like a dog. He rubbed his eyes and looked harder. It was a dog. But more like a shadow. It padded slowly out to Will. He backed away into the wall and fell on his butt. The shadow came out to stand in front of him. Its red eyes staring at him. Will was petrified for a minute. Then it tilted its head and sniffed him and he could see it wagging its tail. This wasn't one if the monsters that invaded Relos. It was something different. It didn't seem to mean them any harm. He reached out and it nuzzled his hand.
"Help us." Will said. He felt it lick his hand then turned and ran into the darkness. Will watched as it disappeared then picked up the cup of water and went back to Beth. He wasn't sure what the dog was, but if it wanted to hurt him, he'd be dead already. Maybe it was help of some kind. Maybe someone had sent it to look for them. He hoped so, cause that thing was still out there, and it could find them at any second.
In the dark forest high above Relos, lay the monster that tore Relos asunder. He watched through the eyes of all his creatures it saw everything Jayce and the shadows did with hate in his heart. Yes hate, for he hated the winged men and their friends the Dragons with all that he was. For one of them was responsible for him being in the form he was in. And that was Jandar Tyr, the werewolf mage. For two years ago Jandar, Ono and Jayce had met the beast in his original form. His human form, the form of Pelis Norstin the Collector. He once was a handsome mage with a black heart and a family. As the Collector, he captured many different beings and animals for his own use. Mostly to steal their magic then to use their bodies in his vile experiments. One day he captured a young centaur and the brothers of Jandar. Unfortunately that young centaur died at the hands of the Collector. For this, and the fact that he almost killed his brother Tof, Jandar sought revenge on the Collector. He beat him in a magical duel and changed him into a monster then put him in a cage in a zoo for all to see.
For two years he lived in that zoo like some kind of freak. And that was what he was, his body changing every day. One day he had parts of a elephant then the next a goat. All the people staring at him laughing as he lay there sometimes like a fish out of water. How he hated them for what they did to him.
One night a beautiful tall fiery haired woman appeared in front of his cage. She stared at him without laughing.
"Pelis, the Collector." She said. "Look at you. A exhibit in a zoo. How pathetic. Look at what they've done to you."
[If only she could hear me.] Pelis thought as he moved towards the back of his caged enclosure.
"I can hear you." She said.
He stopped and looked back at her. His body that of part alligator, part mule. He turned and lurched back to where she stood.
[Who are you?] He asked her.
"Someone that can change your whole life." She said. "Someone that can get you out of here so you can get back at them."
[Like this?] He sent to her. [Do I drag myself around after them? Throwing my shit at them?]
"No." She said. "Like this!!"
She waved her hand at him and he began to change. His legs lost the equine features and grew longer and massively stronger and clawed with dark fur. His torso became beast like, more of a bear with long reaching arms ending in great claws. He had a long snout with fangs and glowing red eyes. He stood up and bellowed his frustration.
[Make me human again!!]
"I don't need a human." She said. "I need Antilles the beastmaster. That's who you will be. I give you power to strike back at them for me and for yourself. You can use your magic again. Do you accept?"
Antilles stretched out his arms and looked at his great muscles. He flexed his arms then felt his long bipedal legs.
[Will you make me human after I finish them?] He asked.
"I'll give you the gift you deserve." She smiled.
[I am yours my lady.]
Muerte laughed, then spoke Ganon's spell and added him to the others she held in her control. She knew he would come in very useful later.
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