The Dragons of Keanna - Book II
by Jandar Tyr
What hides in the dark
Over the dark forest of Azia, Alea flew with the moon lighting up the sky. Below on the edge of the forest a group of people appeared out of a swirling wind. Jax opened his arms and released his companions. Athene, Angela, and Sting stepped out of his embrace.
"We're here." Jax told them. They all looked around at the dark forest. It was very loud with the noises of the night. The howling of the night creatures, the croaking of the toads and insects and other animals trying to survive the night.
"Which way do we go?" Angela asked. Athene stepped up to the front and scanned the forest. She held out her hand to feel the vibrations of life in the area. As she turned she felt something. There were people out there where there shouldn't be any.
"We go this way." She pointed to a path leading north. "Come on."
Athene like her mother had worn black to blend with the night. Leather pants and a tight bodice for comfort. Instead of their usual sandals they wore boots which were better for tromping through thick forest. They looked almost like twins with their hair tied back in ponytails.
Winding through the forest they felt many eyes on them. All the night stalkers looking for prey for their next meal watching them. In the lead, Athene kept her eyes and ears open for any suspicious sound near them. Soon the sounds of crashing footsteps came loudly through the bush. Athene stopped and held out her hand to quiet them. In front of them there was a hill and over that hill they could hear what sounded like an army marching. She waved for them to slowly move forward and see what the noise was. Moving to the bush, Athene took her hands and slowly made enough room to see through. Behind the bush she saw people trudging deeper into the forest. Knowing where she was and what was in the direction they were heading, she turned back to the others. They all had seen what she saw.
"They're heading for what's left of Cressca's pyramid." She told them.
Angela looked back through the bush. There were people of all ages walking down the path. Adults and children, walking and crawling if they had to. She was amazed at how many there were. All heading for their deaths.
"How do we stop them?" She asked. "We can't allow Cressca to get them."
"Mother." Athene said. "He's already killed some of them. I'm sure the floor of what's left of his pyramid is littered with bodies. All we can do is try and stop the rest of them from reaching him."
"How do we do that? Jax asked.
"We destroy him." Athene said. "It's the only way."
"That will be my job." Jax stood up. "I'll take Sting with me in case he has others helping him. The two of you take care of all these people. Break his spell, turn them around and send them home."
"Wait." Angela grabbed on to Jax's arm. "You can't just walk in and take on Cressca. He's a god. You're a powerful mage I know, but no match for him."
Jax smiled at her, then reached over and took her hand and kissed it.
"He's a lesser god my dear. A monster." Jax waved his hand in the air and pictures of Fortis began to show before them. Pictures of him and Aramis dealing with the beast outside of New Keanna and in the cave where they fought.
"I am Jax, the son of Rimnar and Sailia. The High gods of Fortis. I am the God of Justice and I am not blind. We will have justice for these people and today, Cressca will be judged."
Back at the ruins of the pyramid, Cressca had picked the three strongest men to be his watchers. He had endowed each of them with a touch of power giving them certain abilities in order to help protect him. He gave them strength and speed to overcome his enemies, and the ability to paralyze with a touch. Then he sent them out to herd the people into the pyramid so he could take their life forces for his own.
So far the bottom of the ruined was littered with bones, and the bodies of those that had arrived first. They laid there with that deathly stare in their eyes from his watchers torch.
Outside of the ruins the watchers waited. The people came in groups, sometimes big and sometimes small families. Once they made their way into the ruins. They were sent to wait on a platform where they were paralyzed and freed from Cressca's spell. It was then they realized what was about to happen to them and fear set in. It was then that Cressca came down and drew off their life.
"So how do you want to fight them?" Angela asked.
"Can either of you break his spell on these people?" Jax asked.
"I don't know." Athene told him. "Maybe if he's distracted we can do something."
"Fine." Jax got up and stepped over to Sting. "Do what you can to turn them. Sting, it's you and me. Ready?"
"Let's go." Jax took a hold of Stings claw then waved his hand in front of them and they disappeared in a rush of wind.
"Are you ready?" Angela asked.
"Yes Mother." Athene smiled. Then she faded into her mist form and swiftly drifted off. Angela watched her daughter flow away
"Here we go." She spread her arms and shifted to raven and flew off into the forest after Athene.
As the sun began its descent into the west, a beautiful topaz colored dragon made her way towards Relos. On her back rode a single rider. They were coming to answer a call for help from their friends the shadows.
[That's Relos ahead of us.] Ariel sent to Toric. [Look for Jayce and the others.]
Toric nodded and sent her his acknowledgment. From the skies they could see most of the fires had burned out. But some still smoldered and a few still blazed.
"Look at these fires." Toric said. "This town is no more. Pity, looks like it was beautiful once."
[Yes.] She sent back to him. [These people worked hard to establish their homes here.]
"And it's all gone now." As they flew, Toric felt something familiar. It was a strange feeling. He knew he'd felt it before, but he wasn't sure what it was. In the distance he saw three figures closing on them.
"There!" He pointed out to Ariel. "There they are."
Leading his two friends, Jayce glowing in the sun came winging his way closer to them.
"We're glad you're here." He said.
"What did this?" Toric asked.
"We're not sure." Graym said. "But there are some pretty strange things down there."
"Look!!" Pelic pointed back towards the forest. Suddenly Toric had that feeling again
From the trees rose a thick cloud into the air. They watched as it came closer.
"They're birds!!" Jayce called to the others. "They're coming for us!! Everybody watch yourself!!"
In they came, there were hundreds of them. They weren't just your average birds, they were the nastiest dirtiest things they had ever seen. Everyone scattered in different directions. Graym sent his darts flying as he flew, driving them into their bodies and wings, knocking them out of the sky. Jayce swung Retribution cutting them down. Ariel blasted them with lightning and blasts of wind while Toric aimed his bolts at them and burned them from the skies.
"There's to many of them!" Toric yelled. "We can't get them all!"
[Jayce!] Ariel sent. [Take Toric and land in Relos. I'll take care of this!]
"No Ariel!" Toric held her tight. "I won't leave you!"
[You have to. I can't do this with you on my back.] She told him. [Go with them. I'll meet you in Relos later.]
Jayce flew up to Ariel and pulled Toric into his arms and veered away from her.
"Good luck sister!!" He called as they dived towards the town.
Spreading her wings and batting away the squawking birds, Ariel sent a series of lightning strikes out to kill the birds around her. Then she picked up her speed and started flying in a wide circle churning up the air around her. Faster and faster she flew tighter and tighter the circles became until a vortex began to drop down. She had created a tornado which pulled all the birds in as they tried to escape her winds. Flying in the center Ariel controlled the vortex as she flew it away from the town and her friends.
[I will meet you shortly once I've dispatched the storm.]
From the ground Toric and the others watched her as she led the storm further and further away from the town.
"Well." Jayce said. "Let's get on with it. Call the shadow beast back. Let's see if they've found anything."
Pelic nodded and sent out his call. As they watched, small dark shadows began to come out of all the ruined buildings and dash into Pelic's cloak.
"I've found them." Pelic said. "There are two in a cellar over there."
He pointed to their left. In the lead, Pelic headed toward the house his shadow had found the two kids in. Walking next to Graym, Toric looked around. He could feel the eyes on them. They were not alone in this town. He stopped and looked deeply into the shadows of the ruined buildings.
"What's wrong?" Graym asked as he stopped next to them.
"This town is full of strange animals." Toric whispered. "Like those birds. They're everywhere. This is why you called for me Jayce?"
"You have a way with animals I'm told." Jayce said. "Is that right?"
"I'll see what I can do." He told his winged friend.
A few minutes later they were in front of a torn up shop. The sides of the shop had been bashed in by some strong force. Stone and timber for the shop lay all around and the roof still covered the foundation.
"They're under there?" Jayce asked Pelic.
"Yes." he said. "It's a boy and a girl, and she may be hurt."
"Hurt!!" Jayce stepped close and started pulling timber off and throwing it aside.
"Help me, all of you." He said.
"No! Wait" Pelic pulled him away. "We could cave this whole structure in trying to pull it apart."
"Then what do we do?" Toric asked.
"I can go in and bring them out without touching anything." Pelic faded into his intangible state and stepped into the ruins descending into the depths.
Down below, Will had found some sacks of roots. These would make good blankets he thought. He emptied out the roots and took them back to Beth. As he picked her up she moaned. He pulled her to him and held her close as he pulled the sacks over them for warmth. The sun was setting and it was getting dark and cold. Maybe there was no one out there to save them he thought. Maybe it was just a shadow and he was imagining what he saw. Maybe they were going to die here like the rest. Tears ran down his face as he thought about his parents. Why did this happen? Who's responsible for all this? Back and forth he rocked Beth as the light from outside began to fade.
"Will?" Beth asked. "What's that?"
"Nothing," He said. "Just another shadow."
"Yes, I am a shadow." He heard. "But a good shadow come to get you out."
Will jumped up holding Beth and took a step away from Pelic. All he could see was a dark cloaked form coming towards them
"Who are you?" He asked.
"I'm the one that sent the hound looking for you." He said. “Please don't be afraid. I've come to help, to get you out. My name is Pelic. Come, I promise it's going to be all right."
Pelic held out his hand to Will. Not sure what to do, Will stood there for a moment. They he realized he really didn't have much choice. He could stay there and die with Beth, or trust this Pelic. He reached out and took Pelic's hand and stepped closer to him.
"Will." He said. "I want you both to close your eyes and promise to keep them closed until I tell you to open them. It's going to get cold for a few seconds, but you're going to be fine I promise. Can you both do that for me?"
"Yes." Will told him.
"Good." Pelic told him. "Now cover her eyes and keep them closed tightly."
Will took his hand and covered Beth's eyes then closed his. Pelic opened his cloak and wrapped it around them. Suddenly Will felt cold all around him. He held Beth tight as he felt Pelic holding him. Seconds later, Pelic spoke again.
"Open your eyes."
Will opened his eyes and found he was standing outside, the sun was almost down and there were two angels and a man standing there with Pelic. For the first time he actually saw Pelic, he was a shadow like he said. But Will wasn't afraid of him anymore. Just then Will had a thought. Mother. He has to go see if she was safe. He started to leave when one of the angels stopped him.
"Hey, where are you going?" He put his hand on Will's shoulder.
"My mother's all alone. I have to go get her." Will looked up into the big man's eyes.
"I'm sorry son." He said. "We've searched this whole town. There's no one else here alive."
"No!!" He cried and tried to run for home. Jayce held him as tears ran down his face and he struggled to get free.
"She has to be there!! I have to save her! Help me please!"
"There's nothing to be done. " Jayce hugged the boy and let him cry. "We're sorry."
Will dropped down to the ground in tears. They were both dead now, mother and father. He sobbed as Beth hugged him close.
The blond angel sat down with them and put his arms around them both. Will could feel the warmth and strength coming off him almost relieving him of his pain. The others gathered around them.
"Listen Will." He said. "My names Jayce. This is Graym, Pelic and Toric. We're sorry we came too late to help, but can you tell us who did this?"
"How did you know my name?" Will asked
"Angels know certain things." Jayce smiled. "But please, tell us who did this."
"Not who." Will told them. "But what. A nightmare came to Relos. And I think it's still here."
The skies over Yadessa were dark and full of smoke. On the ground the buildings were burning. Vasagi looked like a war had raged there. Dead bodies littered the streets everywhere. In the distance, they could see what was left of the city, and like Relos, it seemed like the city was dead. High in the sky, two Dragons with riders came flying from the north. Jandar on the back of red Rage and Dreik in his green leathers, riding Denner.
"By Rimnar's beard!!" Dreik said as he looked over the devastation. "What in the world happened here?"
[Smell the air.] Rage sent. [Dragons happened here.]
"I can't believe dragons did this." Jandar said to his friends. "What could make them do this? Surely Valen's clan can't be responsible."
[Who else?] Denner asked. [We didn't do it.]
"It could be Muerte and her magic." Jandar claimed.
[I'm sure she had something to do with this.] Rage told them. [But she didn't do this, dragons did.]
"So what do we do about it?" Dreik asked.
"We find the dragons that attacked." Jandar told him. "That's our responsibility."
[No!] They all heard. [That's my responsibility.]
All heads turn as they noticed something flying in from the south. It was Eheren arriving with Valkar and Azeal riding Cutter.
[Besides.] Eheren sent. [You're going to need my help to find them.]
"We're glad you're here." Jandar called as they caught up to them. "There's a lot going on right now."
"I know." Valkar said. "Athene filled me in on what's going on. I trust them to handle it while we track down these dragons."
[We need to find Valen.] Eheren told them. "He's a big part of this."
[I think he'll find us once we find his brothers.] Cutter sent.
"And Balthazar?" Azeal asked. "What about him?"
Valkar looked back at his son. Pride swell in his chest. Of course he would think about the knife in all their backs.
"Like Muerte." He said. "We have to watch for him. He'll strike when we least expect it."
[Agreed.] Rage sent. [ Cutter, which way do we go?]
[Somewhere you won't like.] He told them. [There at the site of our old cave.]
"They're in Durmista?" Jandar asked.
[I'm afraid so.] Cutter nodded.
Jandar could feel the rage building in his mate. He bent down and rubbed his neck ridges to calm him. Durmista was where the old cave where his brothers had been killed by Polan Dressek.
[I know love.] Rage sent to him. [I'm trying.]
"Right now." Valkar said. "My city is my highest priority. Drop Azeal and myself here."
Jandar and Rage turned to Valker. They could see the determination in his eyes. Nothing they said would change his mind. But they knew the two vampires should not go alone.
[You know where to find Valen.] Eheren sent to them then turned to Valkar. [I'll go with you. You may need my help.]
[Besides, we're all together in this fight.] Rage said. [And we will always stand with you and Azeal.]
Valkar nodded his approval. "Keep in contact, let us know what's happening. And be careful."
[You too.] Jandar called. [We'll meet you back here once we have Valen.]
With a wave the two parties split. One, headed back toward the mountains of Durmista. The other two quietly slip into Yadessa to find a way to free the city and save what was left of the country.
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