The Crowned Prince of Seandra looked out of his window at the City below. The city he was born in almost two hundred years ago. The City that was about to fall. His tears were bitter, his heart even more so. The Brown Dragons had decimated city after city, backed by their minion armies, and their allies, powerful Dark Mages. Every death on their side added one more warrior to the Browns. They had no chance.
The wall had breached less than an hour after his father had fallen. Now there was fighting within the very streets of the grand city, and jewel of the Seandrian Kingdom. The keep was heavily defended, both by the Seandrian army, what was left of it, and some of the best Magical defenses known to the world. However, not even those two combined will stop the inevitable.
A knock came to the door, Xavier, now in his halfelvin form, turned. Garnet had not waited for an answer, and walked in, followed closely by Xavier's closest friends. Those that had rushed to his aid, and those who had risked their own lives to protect him and his father. "It is time." Garnet said softly. "Your father has summoned us. He lies in the Throne room."
Xavier nodded and turned once more to look out over the City. The fires were already burning on the south part of the city. They had already evacuated all those that could, and would flee, to the tunnels beneath the City, with luck, and enough time, brought by those who stayed behind, they would be able to make it to the only city that had yet to fall. The Great City of Sand Storm was the main Mining and Trade port for the Kingdom. From Sandstorm, hopefully those that fled would find refuge.
Without turning, Xavier spoke softly. "None of you need go with me. You could make it to Sandstorm, and from there to anywhere." He paused a moment to gain control of his voice. "You need not come with me."
"You did not abandon me in Colgilan..." Malachi said, in his typical Dwarven gruff voice. "You have not abandoned any one of us. We will not let you face this on your own."
"Come Xavier." Olpha said in a soft voice. "We have already gathered our things, as well as yours, it is time to go."
Xavier turned and nodded. He walked up to Garnet who held his pack out. Xavier took it, and smiled softly. "Thank you my friend." Prince Xavier took a moment to clear the tears from his eyes, then lifted his head, so it was held high. He took a deep breath, then strode from the room.
Soldiers rushed about, either heading to the city to fight, or those that could, returning. City folk were lining the halls, waiting to be moved down to the passages. Many of the woman and children. Most of the men stayed to fight, to give their families time to escape. It was a sea of people in the halls of the palace.
Yet before them the sea parted. Those that could, took a knee, while those that could not, bowed as well as they could. Most had witnessed their Prince’s fight to save his father’s life. As well as the Prince’s friends leading the charge of those who exited the city to bring their King back.
Xavier walked down the quiet hall, his head held high, his back straight. These were his people, and he would not let them see defeat, not in his eyes. The group was about halfway to the throne room when a young boy's voice rang out in the quiet hall. "My Lord!"
Xavier stopped and turned, to see a young Drow boy of perhaps eight equivalent years, run up to him. "My Lord!" The boy stopped in front of Xavier, breathing heavily.
Xavier thought hard for a moment, then the name came to him. "Crevean, son of Dramount. What may I do for you?"
Crevean looked shocked. His family were farmers. He'd only met the Prince one time in the Market. Yet the Prince knew his name. He recovered quickly though, knowing that time was short. "Prince Xavier. Please. My father gave me this..." He held out a well made steel dagger, "...before he sent us here. He told me to protect my mother and younger brothers with it. I want you to take it, and use it on your journey."
Xavier looked at the small dagger in shock. It was a good dagger, yet nothing like what he had. But the quality did not matter. This boy, a boy who he'd only met once, was trying to give away his only weapon to try and help Xavier. The Prince nearly cried at the gesture. He knew he had to take it, even though he had better. But the quality did not matter. It was the love and kindness behind the offer the touched Xavier. "Thank you my young friend." Xavier said as he reached out and took the blade. "You show me great honor, and for that you have my thanks."
Xavier pulled the boy into a hug, and held him tight. "May the Gods speed you on your journey." The boy said as he pulled away from Xavier, and ran back to his mother. Xavier nodded and continued his journey. Fighting as hard as he could not to let the tears flow.
When Xavier and his group stopped outside of the doors to the Throne Room, they were met by Vobilon, Olpha's father, and the Royal Mage of the Seandrian Kingdom. "King Rathort is deep in meditation. He does not have much time left, and he is gathering all the magical power he can. Time is short, but we have gathered everything we can, to try and aid you."
"Do you know where we are going?" Xavier asked in a small, soft voice.
Vobilon smile a tight smile as he looked up and the Prince in his halfelven form. "The question is not where, my young Prince, but when. Your Father is going to combine all of his magical power, with the death gift of the Dragon, and send you forward in time. Hopefully far enough away from this place to where you will be safe. Xavier was about to protest, to demand to stay with his people, but Vobilon stopped him in his tracks. "My Prince, please honor your father's last request. He could not protect your mother, nor your elder brother. He wished to for his final act to be saving you and your friends. Do not take that away from him."
Voblin held Xavier's eyes for nearly a minute before Xavier looked away and nodded. "Thank you." The elder Halfling said. "Now come, we have little time, and much to explain. We have gathered everything we could think of, for your trip."
Vobilon turned, waved his hands, and the doors to the Throne room opened quickly. The first thing Xavier saw was his father, laying in his full Dragon form, at the end of the room. Several royal attendants were swarming him, trying to bandage the many wounds on his body. Xavier could tell by his fathers deep breathing, and closed eyes that he was deep in meditation.
Xavier forced himself to look away from his father, and follow Vobilon. There were several people, as well as a draft horse, loaded down with supplies. Five large war horses, and two huge War Steeds. As soon as they approached, several of the people moved to intercept. The Elf that approached Xavier was one he called aunt. Frendra had been one of his mother's closest friends, so this duty fell to her.
"Prince. Come, allow me to help you get ready for your journey." Xavier nodded, and followed her to one of the War Steeds. On the floor beside the Steed was a set of beautifully crafted armor. Xavier stopped and gasped, causing the woman to smile. "Your father ordered it made form the Hide of the Great Brown you fell in Colgilan." Xavier nodded as he ran over the scaled armor. It was mostly Dragonhide, with scales covering and augmenting the vital areas. No metal to interfere with his spell casting. "We have also gathered as much magic from our armory as we could. Your father made it clear that we should spare nothing to equip you all."
The next hour was spent going over all their new equipment, as well as the new weapons, and items. Xavier, who had always had good equipment, was starting to feel overwhelmed by everything. They were nearly finished when the room fell silent. Xavier turned suddenly when he heard his father's voice.
"Are you ready my son?" King Rathort asked from across the room. Xavier nearly fell over his own feet as he ran towards his father. At the last moment he stopped and gently wrapped his arms around his fathers huge head. He couldn't hold back the tears, nor did he try. He wanted to tell his father not to send him, he wanted his father to accept the healing that everyone knew would save his life. He wanted to curse the Browns to the deepest of the Demon Realms for what they have done, but he did none of those. He simply held his father's head and cried.
"My son... Xavier. You are a man now. I need you to face this challenge. To continue our line. To avenge our deaths, and rebuild our Kingdom." Xavier stepped back and looked at his father. He almost spoke, but his father gently shook his huge head. "I know what I am asking you is near impossible. It would most likely take the luck of the Gods themselves to do it. But somehow, deep in my soul, I know you can do it. Honor what was built here, what we all have struggled and fought to protect. Rebuild Seandra." The King's words were cut of by a deep rumbling cough, as the huge Dragon closed his eyes in pain for a few moments.
When the pain passed, King Rathort opened his eyes once more, this time though they were not focused on his son, yet on his sons friends. "And what of you all, are you each willing to go, and protect my son?"
Only one of them spoke, Garnet. He still wore the skin of a Dragonling as he stepped forward "Yes my King. It is our honor to go with your son. None of us wish to do any less then accompany him on this journey."
"Please..." The Dragon said before being caught by a coughing fit that made his already frail body look even worse. However, when his Healthman came to try and render aid, the Great Dragon waved him off with the raise of a huge talon. "Please. I must hear it from all of you. I am not ordering you to do this, as it will be beyond dangerous. I have no idea where or even when you will end up. Please, for my own soul, I need to know that you are all willing to do this."
They looked at each other, before one of them, a white haired, purple eyed Drow stood straight and met the eyes of his king. "My King, you would have to order each and every one of us to not go. Even then we would still try and figure out a way around such a decree. Prince Xavier, is more than our Prince, he is our friend." In turn, each of the other teens nodded their heads when the Dragon’s eyes fell on them.
"Very well. Gather your belongings. I do not have much time." King Rathort said as he closed his eyes and lowered his head to the floor. The next several minutes were frenzied as the seven children got their armor on, their weapons sorted, and their equipment rechecked. Vobilon then went around to each of them handing them large pouches. "We have no idea what you will find when you arrive. We have filled these with as much coin as we feel you can safely carry. It's not a huge amount, but it should be enough."
They finally gather around the king one last time. The children and the horses all as close as they could be to each other, and everyone else standing well back. King Rathort opened his eyes one last time and smiled. With a trembling claw, King Rathort pointed towards the symbol of Seandrian rulership. An ancient longsword, whose magical powers were only known to those that wielded it. "My son..." Rathort breathed out. "My time is nearly over. The Blade of Seandra is yours. Take it, and honor all those who wielded the blade before you." Xavier moved over to where the sword stood. It was big, much too big for his small halfelvin form. When he placed his hand around the hilt, he felt the blade itself reach out and 'taste' Xavier. Even though he knew it was coming, to have the sword 'taste' him was not a pleasant feeling. He waiting, knowing that if the sword did not like what it found, Xavier would simply cease to exist. Quickly though the feeling went away, and Xavier had a weird sense of acceptance form the blade.
Rathort nodded as Xavier joined his companions once again. "I await to see the deeds of this group of young ones. For I know that fate trembles at the power held within each of you. Stay true to your hearts, and to the ideal which is Seandra. That ideal is something much more than just brick and stone, more than just the people of one place. As long as at least one of the line of Seandra lives, so to does the ideal that makes us strong. Go forth my son, and may the Gods themselves tremble."
Rathort than gathered the magic to himself, ripping it out of the very air, like only a Sorcerer could do. He held it within himself as he spoke words that few have ever heard before. The air itself was vibrating with the magical energy that was flowing around them. Finally as Rathort's head crashed into the floor, the seven children and their mounts vanished.
They all dropped to a knee as they appeared. This was nothing like what they always had to deal with when going through the magic portals, and it took a serious drain out of all of them. Garnet was the first to struggle to his feet, looking around for any trouble. The entire world felt off somehow, he couldn't put his finger on it, but... he pushed that aside, as he scanned the area for anything that may threaten his Prince. Once he was satisfied, he finally looked around to the others.
Xavier was on the ground, curled up, and sobbing. Olpha had gathered her wits about her, and crawled over to Xavier, trying to ease the boy's pain. The rest looked on, and mirrored Garnet as they all had tears in their eyes. Out of all of them, Xavier had lost the most. However King Rathort was either a father or second father to every single one of them. Most of them not having parents anymore... The king stepped up, and took them all in. Now he was gone.
Garnet moved away to start looking around. He was more than just Xavier's bonded blood brother, he was also Xavier's body guard, a job he took most seriously. He was chosen, shortly after his birth, to grow up with, train with, and always be with the young Prince. This tradition was an ancient one within the Sand Dragons, although Garnet figured it would not continue past he and Xavier. Though all thoughts of the future could wait. Now though, he had a job to do.
"Olpha. Stay with Xavier." The small Halfling nodded her understanding, while the rest looked up towards Garnet. "Malachi, Syth, get Xavier's tent set up, and get him moved in there." He looked around, including everyone in his next orders. "Then, check your gear, make sure you have everything you came with. Check each other’s armor and weapons. Make sure everything came through intact." They nodded and Garnet moved towards Lucas, to check his gear over.
This group of children had been working together for so long that they all fell into line quickly. Garnet has spent a great deal of time learning military command and leadership from some of the best that Seandra had to offer. They all knew that, and easily allowed him to take charge in situations like this. Besides Garnet, in his Dragon or Dragonling form, Lucas was the tallest of them. This made he and Garnet pairing up a natural choice, when they had to check each other over.
"Do you have any idea where we are at?" Lucas asked as he held his arms out to the side. Being a Mage, Lucas's armor contained very little metal. It did not take long for Garnet to stand back and give the thirteen year old equivalent Highman a nod.
"No. This is no area that I have ever seen before." The large Dragonling sighed while looking around. This entire area seems off some how." Lucas nodded in understanding.
"Magic seems almost stale." Lucas said, which caused Garnet to snap his head around and narrow his eyes as he looked at Lucas.
Finally though Garnet nodded. He was a Warrior Adept, which meant he has some spell casting ability, yet he wasn't able to put into words what he was feeling. "I do not understand what it means, but I feel you are right. Magic itself just seems, different." Garnet considered for a few moments before he nodded, more to himself than anyone else. "I wish for you and Olpha to see what you can figure out about the magic here. Do not take an unnecessary risks, but see what you two can figure out. For now though, I would ask that you take a look around, and let me know what is around us."
Most people would not think that a Mage would be the best pick for a scout, but Lucas was a skilled outdoorsman, taught most about forests and plains. Now the area they found themselves was certainly not plains, it looked more to be foothills, but they were in a heavily wooded area, which made Lucas the logical choice. Add to that, the fact that Lucas was the only lockmaster in the group, he became the best one to sneak around, and let Garnet know what was around them. Lucas nodded, then slipped out of the small clearing they had appeared in, and started to look around. The sun was low in the sky, which meant it could be either close to dusk, or just past dawn. Only time would be able tell.
It quickly became apparent that night was falling, and falling quickly. Thankfully those who had set up their equipment thought of the possibility that they would not appear near where Seandra. It was late winter as far as everyone could tell where they were at, and that contrasted heavily with the fact that they all grew up near a desert. While they had all had training in dealing with all types of environments, snow was something that they dealt with rarely.
Even so, it took the group less than an hour to get everything set up, their equipment stored, the horses tended to, and a small fire going. Choosing to play it safe, at least till they know how and why the magic was different, Garnet choose to start the fire in a more conventional way, rather than using Magic.
One by one, everyone save for Xavier and Lucas made their way to the small fire. No one spoke, all of them lost in their own thoughts. Thoughts of the future, and thoughts of what they all left behind. None of them even knew where to begin. They had just lost their homes, family and loved ones. Now to find themselves in a strange place, where they had no idea even where they were at was weighing on them all heavily.
They all looked over as Xavier emerged from the tent. His eyes were haunted, but beneath that was the cold strength they all knew he had. Without a word he walked over to his War Steed, and drew the Royal Blade. Slowly he pulled the large black colored blade from its sheath, and stared at it.
The blade was an ancient one, attuned to Xavier's blood line. However, only after the death of its wielder, could it bond to another. Xavier took a deep breath, and placed the blade in his open hand, slowly closing his fingers around the blade. He took another deep breath, then slowly drew the blade across his hand, drawing blood.
The pain he had expected never arrived as the blood seemed to be drawn into the blade. When he released his hand, he saw the wound was closing on its own, and the blood on the blade was being absorbed. Less than a moment later, the blade started to shimmer and shine.
Moments passed as the everyone watched the blade. Slowly it started to shrink, and less than a minute later, it was sized perfectly for Xavier. The boy knew that this was only the first step on the blade bonding with him, the rest would happen over time. No one, other than the bonded truly knew what the blade could do. It was not something spoken about.
Xavier stared at the blade a moment longer before he slammed the blade back into its sheath, which also had shrunk. He slung the blade over his shoulder, then looked up, and met the eyes of his friends. When he spoke his voice was thick with emotion. "Thank you all for coming. You will never know what it means to me, that all of you, my closest friends, risked yourselves to come with me."
No one had a chance to answer as Lucas came back into the clearing. The urgent look on his face caused Garnet to rise to his feet quickly. "There is a small town to the south, maybe half a days ride. There is also a major road to the East, but I did not see any traffic." Garnet nodded in thought, as he started to look around a bit.
"There is more." Lucas said. The tone he used had everyone else stop what they were doing, and turn towards him.
Lucas took a deep breath. "There was a major battle near here. Not long ago. I did not get too close, but there were scores of dead." He sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "It was bad, that much I know. The amount of magic that was thrown around... It reminds me of the final battle..."
They looked at each other in shock before Lucas continued. "The battle was at least two or three weeks ago, but with this cold and snow, there is still a lot of bodies left around."
Garnet nodded before he spoke. "We will keep watch this night, tomorrow we shall go take a look." He looked at his Prince and gave him a sad small smile. "We know that your father did not know where we would end up, but perhaps the Gods have helped pick a spot out for us."