Castle Roland

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

by Jandar Tyr

In Progress

Chapter 8

Posted: 29 Sep 16

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

Copyright © 2016 by Jandar Tyr
All Rights Reserved

Honor Bound

As Emrel stood outside the stables that dreadful feeling came over her again. She felt like there was danger all around her and she was no longer safe in Winterhaven. She wished Adanar would hurry with the horses so they could be off. While she waited she saw many students she knew and smiled a greeting. When asked, she told them she and her brother were taking a ride through the animal sanctuary in the vast forest behind the Academy inside the city walls. This was something they did often so no one's suspicion would be aroused by this. A few minutes later Adanar led their two horses out of the stable. Emrel smiled as she saw her mare Windy coming towards her. She took the reins from Adanar and hugged her speaking softly to the horse in greeting. Then she turned to her brother.

"Any problem?" She asked.

"No." He said as he began to put their provisions into saddle bags and take the saddles from where they were stored. Pulling an apple from her pocket she fed Windy while waiting for Adanar to finish.

"Have you thought about how we get out of Winterhaven?" She patted Windy and pulled him over to Adanar to be saddled.

"There's only two ways out of the city." He said. "Neither are really safe for us. We'll be reported no matter which we use."

"There's always magic." Emrel smiled slyly it him. "I could use a charm that would make them forget after we leave."

"You have one powerful enough to work on elves or maybe vampires?" Adanar thought about her idea. It had possibilities. And he knew her charms were powerful.

"Vampires, yes. Elves depends on what kind." She told him. "There's no dark elves in the guard and it won't work on Morganz. But it should work on the others."

"Then we better hope cousin's not at the gate." Adanar took Emrel's saddle and heaved it up onto Windy's back and fitted it in place. Bending down he fastened the straps secure.

"Thank you, brother." Emrel took the reins and climbed on and trotted Windy out to the road to wait. Done with his sister's horse, Adanar set to saddling his horse, Brand, and rode out to Emrel.

"Ready?" He asked. She nodded. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Yes, brother. It feels even more intense now. We should go."

The south gate of Winterhaven was much smaller then the main gate. There was a much smaller guardhouse, able to house no more then five men. There were no sleeping spaces. This one was used only to watch the road out. On this day it was being watched by two men. Bored, they sat talking about the latest news in Winterhaven. How strange things were going on in the council. They talked about the forest outside and how dangerous it had become. Not much traffic was coming into the city these days except by boat. The roads were no longer safe and no one seemed to be doing anything about it. The only way to use the roads now was with armed guards or to be a most powerful mage.

As they talked they heard the sound of horses approaching. Quickly they stood and went to the door to see who it was. Their gate was hardly used these days. It was more an emergency exit than an access to or from the city. Once at the door they saw two regal looking elves dressed in plain gray cloaks coming towards them. As they came closer they noticed it was a male and female. The two guards looked at each other in surprise. Where were these two going? Stepping out of the guard house they stood and waited for the two riders as they rode up to them.

"Greetings!" The taller of the two guards called. "What brings you to our gate today?"

"We're off on a task for the head master of Andrake." Adanar said as he slowed his horse down.

"Then you have a written pass from him to get out of the city." The guard looked up at his as he stepped forward. "I'll have to see the order before we allow you out the gate."

"Of course." Adanar told him. "My sister has it."

Emrel nodded and reached into her saddle bag and began to search for something. A frown appeared on her face then suddenly she smiled.

"Here it is." She pulled out a piece of rolled up parchment and opened it. "I'll read it to you."

"No lady." The guard stepped towards her horse reaching for it. "We need to have..."



As Emrel spoke the last words a dazed look come over the two guards. They stood in place looking at them. Adanar climbed down off his horse and walked over to the first guard. He waved his hand in front of his face and got no reaction.

"That spell worked well."

"But not for long." Emrel said. "Hurry and get mounted. We have to go."

Adanar went back and climbed on his horse. Emrel trotted to the guard and spoke quietly to him. He nodded his head and turned and walked to the gate where he and his partner unlocked the mechanism and lifted the bars to let them out. With a strong push the gate opened and Adanar and Emrel galloped out and away from Winterhaven.

Back in Emrel's room in the academy Elan, Aron and Tabor stood at the door looking in at her roommate, a young witch from a far off place none of them knew. As they looked around they could see empty bureaus and scattered personal affects. It looked like someone had searched the room or had packed in a hurry.

Tersa Krell looked up at them in surprise. A little scared in fact.

"What do you want?" She asked getting up with pieces of clothing in her hands. She backs up as she faced them not sure she could trust them. Maybe they were responsible for this.

"We're looking for Emrel." Elan said. "Have you seen her?"

"No!!" She yelled at them. "I don't know where she is. Get up of here! You did this! I know you Tabor Larin!"

"Calm yourself." Aron said stepping toward her. Scared of what they might do, Tersa threw out her hand and spoke a repel spell. In a flash of power, the three young mages were blasted back in the hall. With an angry look on his face, Tabor climbed to his feet muttering how no one does that to him. He stepped back into the room and raised his hand to send his own power ball back at her when Elan stopped him.

"No!!" He held Tabor's glowing hand. "Not here. Don't forget our plans for the Academy."

"Plans that are going nowhere right now." Tabor dropped his hand back to his side sneering at Tersa. She cowered in the corner as they talked.

"Look around." Aron said to them. "This wasn't a search, Emrel made this mess herself as she packed her stuff to leave. Tersa, is any of your things missing?"

She calmed herself and looked around. Going from bureau to the closet she found only Emrel's things were gone.

"No." She told them. "Only Emrel's things are missing. Where could she have gone?"

"I think I know where she's gone." Elan said. "And we better hurry if we want to catch her. Come, we can talk out in the hall."

Together the three friends left the scared girl trembling in her room lost and confused as to what had just happened.

"Where Elan?" Aron asked. "Where did she go?"

"Home." He said. "Back to Eventide. And we have to go after her."

"That's a long ride."Aron told them.

"Do you think you can get us out of the city?" Elan asked Tabor.

"It's more than just getting out of Winterhaven." Tabor said as the moved down the hall.

"What do you mean?" Aron asked.

"You both know what's going on here." Tabor explained. "My father's about to make his bid to take Winterhaven from Insa and the council. He's set all kinds of things out in the forest surrounding us. You would have to get past all of them once you get out of the city."

"What do you mean you?" Elan asked. "You're not coming?"

"I don't think so." Tabor said. "Father may need me and I have to find the ring if we want our plans to work. But I can give you a spell that will get you away from here safely."

"What about getting out the gates?" Aron asked.

"We have a secret passage out of the city my father had built years ago in case we needed to get away." Tabor said to Elan. "You can use that. But that won't get you to Eventide. Do you know how to get there?"

"I do." Aron said. Both Elan and Tabor turned to him in shock. They both were a little surprised at this admission.

"Are you sure?" Elan asked.

"Have I ever disappointed you in anyway El?" Aron gave him that look they share when they were alone in bed. Elan smiled. He knew then he could never go through with this marriage and he had to find some way out. He couldn't lose Aron no matter what happened. Even if it meant banishment from Darkshade and his family. He loved him too much.

"Then we better get moving." Elan said. He turned to Tabor. "We'll get provisions from Azi in the kitchen and meet you at your manor. Have two fast horses ready in an hour."

"If this all works." Tabor smiled. "We will be the two most powerful people in this Academy."

"Three." Elan said with a stare.

"Whatever." Tabor turned to go. "You just do your part."

Aron started to say something as Tabor left when Elan stopped him with a touch on his lips.

"Don't worry nin meleth." He said. "Somehow we'll get through this together." Aron smiled as they left to gather the things they needed to travel.

Captain Morganz of the Winterhaven gate guards, rode out to the south gate on a long overdue inspection. He had been very busy lately and had been putting this inspection off all week. Things in Winterhaven were really strange these days. It seemed like the council were split in two, warring over some subject no one wanted to talk about. The infighting was so fierce it was beginning to affect all parts of the city and government. Even the Academy and students were beginning to be affected. Everything in city had a down, depressed feeling like something very bad was about to happen and Morganz wanted to be ready just in case.

As he rode up to the gate Morganz started feeling something in the air. Something familiar he'd felt all his life. It was magic. And not just any magic, but familiar family magic. Someone from his family hand been here casting magic. Morganz pushed his horse on faster. He wanted to know just who it was out here casting spells. There were only three members of the Eventide family in Winterhaven. Jake, Adanar and Emrel, his cousins. He doubted every highly that it was Jake. Being as close as he had been to Jake and Seven, Morganz knew he would knew his magic immediately. That left Adanar and Emrel. But how could it be either of them? They were both safe back at the Academy, weren't they?

As Morganz rode up to the gate he saw the two guards standing outside the gate house with a dazed look on their faces. The sense of Eventide magic was even stronger here at the gate. These two must be under a spell he thought. Morganz climbed down from his horse and walked over to the guards. Both their eyes were glazed over. At their feet Morganz spotted something. It was a scarf in the Eventide green color. A woman's scarf. Emrel had been here, now he had no doubt what so ever. And if she was here, her brother Adanar had to have been here to. But where could they have gone? They had to have left Winterhaven for some reason. But he had to be sure. He had to contact the one person in the city that could help him. Their own brother Jake Eventide. Cutter the fear dragon.

[ Jake ] Morganz sent out.

[ What is it cousin. ] Came the answer. [ I'm a bit busy here. ]

[ Adanar and Emrel may be in trouble. ]

[ WHAT??? ] Cutter sent back loudly. [ What are you talking about? ]

[ Cousin. ] Morganz said. [ I need you to tell me if they are still in Winterhaven. Can you do it? ]

[ Just a second. ] He said. Morganz wait while Cutter searched the city for his brother and sister. He prayed to the trees in their scared grove that Cutter would find them somewhere in the Academy doing their lessons, but he was sure that wouldn't be the case.

[ They're not in Winterhaven. ] Finally came Cutters answer. [ They're in the forest outside. Morganz you have to go after them. That forest is dangerous, please! ]

[ Of course Jake. ] He sent to his dragon kin. [ I'm on my way. ]

With a few smacks he managed to rouse the two guards and gave orders to let him out and re lock the gate. Armed with only his own personal weapons and a canteen of water, Morganz was off after the two young Eventides. His job now was to protect his cousins and get them to safety.

The council of mages in Winterhaven consisted of twelve men and women all powerful mages in their field. Some dark and some white but all with the safety and the best interest of the city in sight. Long ago the city had been ruled by a king. But after years of useless wars over who would reign when one king died, and assassination plots, and plain greedy or evil kings, they had had enough and the council was formed. Since then, three centuries ago, the city had been in peace internally. Outside wars happened, but Winterhaven always managed to stay neutral and out of the fighting. Even when the fighting found their gates, Winterhaven managed to not be involved. It was usually because they made it clear to the combating fractions that they would turn their magic against both sides if they were pulled into the war in any way.

But now it was their turn. Now a coup was in the making by Tayor Larin, one of the leading men on the council and few in the city knew. Tayor had been working all day meeting with as many council member as he could. His new cane had been busy sapping the wills of those he met. He had taken control of seven out of twelve members and killed one, his first victim. Now he had enough to control the council. There was still four he didn't control, including Insa. But they didn't matter. They didn't have much choice. They could either join him or go just as Begaise had. Insa was still his biggest problem. Even out of body the smoke dragon was still powerful. There were ways he could cause him trouble. As he sat at his desk he thought he had to find a way to destroy his body. That would put an end to him. Now he thought since he controlled the council, this was his chance to remove him from his balcony lair and destroy him.

Rising from his desk he grabbed his cane and cloak and called out to his aide Yoron. Wrapping his cloak about him he made for his study door. He found him out in the hall hurrying to meet him.

"You called my lord?" He bowed.

"Yes." Tayor said. "It's time we remove the dragon from our midst. Get your men and meet me in the council building. And hurry."

"Yes sir!" Yoron smiled and ran off. He knew this would be his master's greatest day. This time he would not fail him.

Tayor smiled as he moved from his study. His plans were coming together perfectly. Suddenly he felt something. Someone was trying to reach him. He opened his mind enough to recognize who it was. Talsara Darkshade, Queen of the Darkshade elves.

[ Your Majesty. ] He sent. [ I'm honored. ]

[ How goes your little endeavor? ]

[ Everything is working as planned. ] He said. [ The city will be in our hands by night fall. ]

[ Your news pleases us. ] He could feel her air of superiority. [ Things move slow here, but in our direction of course. There is something we wish from you. ]

[ Anything my Queen. ] He said. [ What do you wish? ]

[ I have set my son Prince Elan a task. He is to bring me the Princess Emrel Eventide. ] Tayor listened closely. [ But he does not sound very eager to do this. I feel something holding him back. I want to know what it is and I want him and the princess delivered to me. ]

[ And where would we be finding the prince and princess? ] Tayor asked.

[ One would guess in the academy. ] Talsara's said sternly. [ If he's not there, you'd better have him found or we will remove our support and all other elven support we have arranged. ]

[ I understand. ] Tayor answered her and their connection was broken. Right now he needed the support of the dark elves, but soon he wouldn't. Then his magic would be far more superior than hers and he could add the elven lands to his own. But for now, he had better send someone to find her son. Prince Elan was always hanging around with Tabor, he would know where he is and maybe that princess too. Tayor walked over to the bell and summoned one of his house staff. It didn't take long for someone to answer him and there was a knock at the door.


A short man dressed in the Larin house colors entered and bowing to his master keeping his eyes down. Tayor walked out from behind his desk.

"Yes my Lord?"

"Find my son and have him brought to me as soon as possible." He told him, then had a second thought. There was another that could find them no matter where they were.

"There's something else I want." He said. "But this could be a bit more difficult."

He took a piece of parchment and a quill and began writing. Once finished, he handed the note to the man.

"Follow these instructions to the letter." He told the man. "I mean this, to the letter. Tell the one that answers they are to come to me directly if they wish to be free. Now go!"

"Yes sir." He turned and hurried out to carry out his master's orders.

Tied by their hands Trip and Rese struggled their way up the slope. It wasn't an easy climb at all with the Orcs in the front pulling them. But they tried as hard as they could to keep up. Skang still had that hungry look in his eye every time he looked at them, which scared Rese to no end. But Trip was still as rebellious as ever. He would sneer at them showing no fear.

"They're going to kill us." Rese whispered. "I know it. Just look at Skang.

"Calm down. Gorak won't let him hurt us."

"Gorak can't watch over us all the time." Tears began to appears in the young man's eyes. "How much further do we have to go?"

"It's a long way to Ardia." Trip told him.

"Great, a death march." Rese exhaled in self-pity. He saw his death coming closer as they walked.

"Stop it!" Trip said. "We're not going that much further."

"You mean they're going to kill us now?" He looked Trip ready to break down right there. He stopped walking for a second and was yanked into movement.

"Listen to me." Trip pulled the young boy to him. "My friends aren't that far behind us and New Keanna is just ahead over the cliffs edge."

"What's that mean?" He asked.

"It means safety. I'm sure my guardian has alerted the dragons that I'm missing." Trip smiled at him reassuring him. "They'll be looking for us and we're walking right into their territory."

"Dragons?" Rese looked afraid at the thought.

"Yes, dragons." Trip said quietly. "My guardian Insa is a smoke dragon. By now I know he's searching everywhere for us."

[ Not anymore I'm not. ] Trip heard in his mind startling him. [ Stay calm Trip. It's me, Insa. Don't allow them to know I'm with you. ]

"How is this possible?" Trip asked him.

"What?" Rese asked. "What are you talking about?"


[ Talk with your mind. ] Insa told him. [ I'll hear you. ]

[ Professor. where are you? ]

[ I'm out of my body right now and I don't have a lot of time. ] He sent. [ Zarin and the others are right behind you close. And I've warned the dragons. I want you both to stay calm and follow their direction and keep safe for now. This will be over soon. ]

[ Yes sir. ] Trip sent. [ I knew you wouldn't abandon me Professor. Thank you. ]

[ There are a lot of things going on right now Trip. ] Professor Insa told him. [ But I'd never abandon you, neither would your friends. Both of you be ready when Zarin and Reno catch up to you. ]

[ We'll be ready. ]

Not far behind, lower on the cliff, Zarin and the others were gaining ground on the Orcs. Zark, Reno and Craven moved swiftly hand over hand climbing while Zarin and Thalia flew ahead to watch and make sure Trip was safe. In the fly shape Zarin had shown Dack he sat on a tree watching the Orcs move. Pulling Trip and Rese behind them slowed the Orcs down greatly. Usually climbing would be easy for them but their hostage made it clear they could not keep up the speed the Orcs could.

"We're moving to slow." Skang called to Gorak. "We should get rid of them now and be off home."

"NO!" Gorak yelled. "We're almost at the top then we'll move faster."

"But not fast enough." Skang pulled his knife to cut the line and drop Trip and Rese.

"You cut that rope and I'll burn you where you stand." Gorak stared at Skang. "We'll need them if there's any challenge ahead."

"Challenge from what?" One of the Orcs under Trip called up to them. He pushed at Trip to move faster up the rock wall. It was steep and dangerous, but he knew the boy could move faster if he wanted to. He was beginning to think Gorak was right. These humans seemed to be stalling. Then again death did await them at the end of the road, so why would they rush to it. Suddenly a raven streaked past them followed by an eagle. Strange he thought. Eagles and ravens don't fly together. The eagle must be hunting the raven. He watched them as they sped up and over the cliffs edge and out of his sight.

"Someone may come after them." Gorak said. "I want us much further away than this."

"Why?" Skang frowned as he crested the top of the cliff and pulled his sword. "Whatever they send against us, we can handle."

"And how many mages can you fight at once?" Gorak asked smugly. "One? Two? more?"

"I'll leave the mages to you." Skang snarled at him. "That's why you're here."

"Get the others up and let's be off." Gorak turned and walked down the trail into the forest. This was a strange place he thought. He could feel the magic all around them. He knew powerful beings had been here recently. Maybe it was this guardian the boy had spoken of. He turned back to see Skang grab Rese and toss him to the ground. Next came the other boy Trip and the others of their group. As the last Orc made it to the top, he got up and ran to Gorak.

"We are being followed." He said.

"Where?" Gorak asked.

"They're coming right behind us up the cliff." Sweat ran from the Orcs face as he pulled his club from his back to be ready to fight. "What do you want to do?"

"I'll take care of them." Gorak started back the edge of the cliff mumbling the beginning of a power spell. He looked over and saw Reno and Craven scrambling quickly up the wall. Gorak raised his hands to cast down at them as a huge eagle came at him with Its claws extended, squawking. Gorak dived back out of the way to the ground barely missing the strike.

"By the Queen Mother!!" Skang ducked. "What was that?"

"The beginning of the end for all of you." Trip smiled as he stood up there and the eagle came down to land at his side. In a flash a young man was suddenly standing at his side. He reached down and took Rese's arm and helped him to his feet.

"Are you alright?" Zarin asked them.

"I'm glad to see you." Trip smiled at him. Zarin examined the two boys for injuries. He saw the collars and wondered what they were. He touched it and felt a spark of magic ran through him.

"Zarin." Trip said. "Get them off us please."

"Grab them!!" Gorak yelled to the others. Startled, the two Orcs ran to grab them when something came flying over the cliff to stand between them. One was a six-foot snarling werewolf, red eyed and claws bared to fight. The other was the young mage the Orcs had fought at the villa. Craven stood before them with his hands glowing with power.

"Zarin!" Craven called out. "Take them somewhere safe! We'll take care of this!"

Zarin looked from Reno to Craven. He wasn't sure what to do. "Are you sure?"

"Yes!" He said. "Go!!"

Zarin hauled both Trip and Rese to their feet and pulled them into the forest away from the battle. He had to get them safe, then he could come back to help.

"You are the one from the villa." Gorak said getting to his feet. "If you leave now, we won't kill you."

"We're not leaving without our friends." Craven said to them. Skang smiled pointing his sword at them.

"We are four strong Orcs." He said. "You are three boys. What can you do to stop us from taking them from you?"

"You won't believe what we can do." Craven said. "And we're not alone."

From behind them a great form rose from beneath the cliff and stretched his limbs. Zark stood there with his arms folded in front of him.

"So you live, huh dog!" Skang spat in his direction angrily. "And you stand with the humans. Good. We'll feed on your bones. We feast tonight!"

"I see you're still trying to be the leader you'll never be Skang." Zark stepped in front of the boys as he spoke. Things had changed with him. He had seen what respect felt like from these young people. He had never felt that from his people and he liked the feeling. Orcs lived only on aggression, hate and fear. The Orc world was dog eat dog and life was a battle everyday just to live, even in family units. Now he had found something different and he would fight to keep it.

"You know you will never be able to go home to Ardia again." Gorak said. "Our people will wipe you from the Orc memory. Even your family will have nothing to do with you."

"I accept that." Zark smiled. "But It won't matter. For you will never make it back to Ardia to tell anyone. Still I won't be going back, ever. So let's stop talking and see who goes home tonight."

"It won't be you!!" Skang charged forward with his sword raised to strike Zark. Moving with Orcs speed, Zark pulled his blade and blocked Skang's downward swipe and spun around hitting Skang in the back of his head with the hilt of his blade as he passed. Skang howled in pain and spun and they began fighting. Their swords flashed in the blazing sun as they fought back and forth. With a quick swing. Skang drew first blood slicing across Zark's chest. As if nothing happened, Zark kicked out into Skang's chest knocking him back. Jumping forward to press the attack Zark forced Skang further into the forest away from the others. There would be no help for either of the combatants. This was a fight to the death by two enemies and nothing would stop them.

Roaring out his rage, Reno leaped at the two Orcs slashing at them. He caught one completely by surprise ripping through the weakened old black armor he wore. Green blood splattered all over Reno as he tore into him. He dropped his weapon and fell as Reno jumped for the other Orc. This time he was prepared and batted him away. Landing on his feet Reno snarled and began to circle his enemy. Facing an armed foe, Reno had to be quick and careful. The Orc thrust in stabbing at the werewolf moving as fast as he could. Orcs were fast, but werewolves were much faster. Reno leaped high over his head while slamming his fist into the Orcs hard skull again and again then coming down behind him and kicking him in the back. Recovering quickly the Orc swung low with his club knocking Reno to the ground. He raised his club to bash Reno to death. But he wasn't fast enough. Before the club hit the ground, Reno was on the move again slashing at him and growling. On Reno fought, slashing and ducking swings of the Orc's club. Reno had calmed his rage. He knew he needed all his wits to keep out of the way of the huge Orc he fought. As he kicked out, the Orc grabbed his leg and threw him over his shoulder. Tumbling through the air he righted himself as he hit the tree legs first and launched himself back at his enemy. Reno's speed was almost like lightning. Before the Orc knew what was happening he was on him. Slashing and pounding on him and tearing through his decrepit armor Reno finally knocked him to the ground. Grabbing the club, the Orc had dropped, Reno raised it over his head and smashed down killing him with a single blow. Breathing heavily, he stood and let out a blood chilling victory howl. He had just taken two Orcs in battle and was ready for whatever foes still live.

As the fighting began. Zarin pulled Trip and Rese away from the battle. He wanted to take them somewhere safe and out of harm. They found a safe spot where Thalia and Dack flew down and shifted there forms back.

"I'm so glad you're alright!" Dack grabbed him and hugged him.

"I'm fine." Trip told his friend hugging him back. "Just get this collar off, please."

"Let me see this." Thalia said stooping to examine the collar. She reached out to touch it and a spark flew off it. Thalia looked up at the others gathered around.

"Can you get it off?" Trip asked. "Reno needs help. He's fighting two Orcs. They'll kill him!"

"I don't have the magic to break this spell." She said. "Zarin?"

"I've never seen anything like it."He shook his head. "Maybe Craven can help."

"Why would he?" Trip asked in anger. "He's the reason I'm in this damned thing."

"It's not his fault, Trip." Zarin explained. "He was under a Larin spell all the time. We would never have found you without him. He caught the Orc and got him to help us."

"So we have our captors to thank for our rescue." Trip frowned as he got up to his feet. "Are you sure about that spell?"

"Yeah," Dack told him. "We're sure."

"Then we better go help him." Trip walked over to a pile of bush and picked up a large branch. He tore off all the remaining foliage the looked at his friends. "You coming?"

Zarin looked over to Thalia as she smiled at them. With the collar on, Trip wouldn't be able to use his magic. He would be better off staying here with his new friend Rese and letting them do the fighting. But he knew that wouldn't work. Trip was Reno's closest friend. There was no way he would stay out of this. Unless Zarin cast a spell on him to force him. And Zarin didn't want to do that.

"Stay close to me or Thalia." He told Trip. "Dack, you keep Rese here. We'll be back shortly."

"What makes you think you have a chance against a fully trained mage like myself." Gorak said as he smiled at Craven while gathering his power to him. A dark glow began to surround the Orc.

"I may die fighting you Orc." Craven said. "But my friends will get to safety. That's all I care about."

At that moment a familiar feeling gripped Cravens soul. He wasn't alone anymore. His grand sire had returned to him.

[ I'm here Craven. ] Micah said in his mind. [ I'll direct you and show you what to do. Are you ready?

[ Yes Grandfather. ] A warm comforting feeling flowed between them as Micah directed the magic to get ready for battle.

With a wave of his hand Gorak sent a wall of energy at Craven. Quickly Cravens hand reached out to stop it as the energy battered against him. All around him the trees and brush were flattened down. Craven pushed back and dispelled the energy and swirled what was left into a ball. Flipping his hands forward he sent the ball back at Gorak blasting at him.

"Ha! ha! ha! ha!" Gorak laughed. "Is that it? is that the extent of your power? How's this boy!"

From his hands, a red burst of power shot out at Craven. One after the other Craven batted them all aside to crash over the cliffs and fall into the sea.

"Your much more powerful than I thought." Gorak shouted. "But you're just a boy!!"

"I got your boy!!" Bashing his fist together then thrusting them out toward Gorak, magic battered at Gorak, knocking him to the ground and into a tree. As Gorak stared in disbelief he focused his energy on Craven. Bands of magic began to surround Craven and squeeze him. Gorak got to his feet and wiped the green blood from his mouth.

"You think you can defeat me!!!" He screamed. "I am Gorak Ra' Enar Orc Master Mage! I will not be beaten by a child!"

"Then let this be a lesson to you!!" Craven summoned his power as Micah directed him and forced the bands apart. Further and further he pushed out as Gorak stood there in shock, unable to believe what was happening. Soon Craven was floating high off the ground covered in a golden glow. He looked down at Gorak and raised his hand.

"No!" Gorak screamed. "Next time we meet; you will die at my hands! You and all your friends!!"

With a quick flourish of his hands, Gorak disappeared just before Craven's bolt crashed into the spot where he had been standing. From the forest Zarin and the others had been watching the fight. they all came running out as Craven floated back down to the ground and passed out in a heap. All together they all ran forward to catch him. Thalia pulled him up into her lap as he opened his eyes.

"What happened?" He asked. He looked around as they all gathered close.

"You beat him." Rese said. "I don't understand any of this. You're the one that put us in all this danger. Now you save us. Why?"

"I'm sorry Rese." He said as he sat up weakly. "You're right. I could have gotten you killed. It's all my fault."

"Nonsense." Dack told them. "This is all Tabor and his father. You were under their spell and didn't have much choice. There wasn't much you could do against Tayor Larin and his magic."

Craven looked up into Trips eyes then looked away. He was still ashamed of what he'd done. He had tortured him to get the ring Tabor wanted so bad.

"Trip." He started to talk, then stopped. He was unable to even try and apologize.

"Craven, I understand that you were under a spell." Trip held out his hand, "So I'll forgive you. But I'll be a little upset for a while. Just give me time and we'll be OK. After all, you did save us right?"

"Thank you." They shook hands. Craven looked around. Someone was missing. "Where's Zark?"

They all looked around for the Orc and didn't see him. "He and the other big Orc moved into the forest fighting."

"We have to find him." Craven said as he tried to get up.

"Shhh." Thalia said pulling him back down. "You're in no shape to get up much less be fighting another Orc. Just rest and Reno will find your friend."

Suddenly a strong wind began to batter at them making them shield themselves. The foliage all around blew back. Something was coming. Zarin looked up to see a two large dragons descending on them,

"On no!" Rese yelled. "Dragons!! Run!!"

"Relax!" Trip grabbed him before he he could bolt in the forest. "I told you dragons won't hurt you."

Out of the sky dropped two dragons into the clearing ahead of them. One red and the other a deep shade of purple. Once on the ground, to Rese's amazement, they changed to a man and a woman. The man was dressed in red leathers and his companion wore purple. They were both handsome as they walked towards them.

"I'm Blaze and this is Ariel." The red man said with a smile. "We're here to help, but I see the battle is done."

"Thank the gods." Rese sighed. "But what next? Where are we going now?"

"We have to get back home to Winterhaven." Zarin told them. "We still have tabor and his father to deal with."

"And the Ring." Trip nodded. "We need to get it before someone finds it."

"First you must return with us too New Keanna." Ariel told the group. "There's someone there that needs you."

Off in the forest the two Orcs battled on. They beat at each other fiercely, neither gaining ground for a time. Breathing heavily, Skang swung high and kicked out at Zark's knee. He missed and fell forward into Zark's fist as he delivered an uppercut to his jaw. Skang fell back trying to regroup but Zark pressed the attack. Zark swung hard connecting with Skang's arm brace again and again until the Orcs arm was becoming numb from the beating. In a bull rush Skang charged forward slamming his head into Zark's chest knocking them both to the ground. Forced to the ground fighting, both Orcs lost the weapons and fought hand to hand. Skang delivered a number of punches at Zark before he was thrown off to the side. As he scrambled and grabbed his weapon, Skang dived back onto Zark's chest. He raised his sword to deliver a death blow screaming out in rage as Zark pulled his dagger and thrust it into his chest stabbing deep into his heart. A shocked look appeared on Skang's face as he fell forward onto Zark and died.

"Goodbye old friend." Zark pushed him off and got to his feet. He looked down at Skang's sword laying where he dropped it then reached for it and picked it up. As respect for a friend he'd killed, Orc customs said Zark was to keep his sword and use it as his own. He placed it in his belt and headed back to find Craven and the others to see if they needed help. As Zark arrived he look around and saw the bodies of the two dead Orcs beaten and slashed on the ground. He looked for Gorak and didn't see him anywhere. That could be a problem. He walked up to Craven sitting with the others. There were two people dressed in colors he didn't know. But the whereabouts of the Orc mage was more important.

"Gorak?" He asked. "Dead?"

"Unfortunately no." Zarin told him. "He made his escape before he could be dealt with."

"He has no honor." Zark reached down and helped Craven to his feet. They walked off a distance to talk. "He ran instead of finishing the fight. What know Shakh?"

"Shakh?" Craven asked him. "What does that mean?"

"It is a blood title of respect." Zark said. "From this day on I am bonded to you. I will follow you and the others faithfully wherever you go as your protector."

"But you are free now. You can go home to your people." They stopped and looked out over the cliff. It was getting late in the day and the sun was beginning to drop down. The bay looked so beautiful from there.

"You and the others are my people now, if you will have me." He pulled his sword from its scabbard as the others came to join them. "My sword is yours now Shakh. All of you. Do you accept?"

"This is quite an honor." Blaze told them. "When an Orc gives you his sword, he swears his life to you."

"What if we don't accept?" Reno asked.

"Then his life is over." Blaze said. Zark nodded his agreement and turned the sword on himself and placed the point over his heart.

"We accept." Craven said looking into Zark's eyes. He reached up and took the sword by the hilt and handed it back to the Orc. Zark nodded and took the sword and placed it back in its place at his side.

"So I guess we're off to see the dragons." Zarin smiled. "We should hurry; our families must be worried."

"Professor Insa to." Thalia said. "He must be out of his head."

"You have no idea how right you are." Craven smiled.

More to Come

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