Castle Roland

The Dragons of Keanna
Book II

by Jandar Tyr


Chapter 22

Published: 19 May 16

The Dragons of Keanna - Book II

by Jandar Tyr

A Cold Heart

On a frozen throne of ice and snow, Kearn sat in deep contemplation. His thoughts were on Muerte and the task she set before him. His job was to destroy all the people and the lands of Bravosa. A grim smile spread across his face as he thought about it. He hated all these warm blooded folk and wanted to populate these lands with his frozen subjects. Muerte's order was the perfect excuse for him to begin his conquest of the lands. The joke was on her he thought. Once he had frozen all of this land, the cold would give him all the power he needed to hold them. Not even the goddess of death would be able to remove him once he had taken control. From his throne he sat and radiated the cold and grew the storm stronger. He saw many people dragging carts and livestock east trying to find somewhere warm away from the cold. He didn't know where they were heading, but he knew they wouldn't make it. He stretched out his hand and sent a blast of frigid cold their way. The winds howled as they frozen in place in the sudden cold. Kearn laughed and sent more of his ice and snow out over the snow covered lands.

"This will make a perfect place to start freezing the world! HA! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! "

Riding on the back of Blaze, Alee sat tight and held on. He wasn't use to riding on dragons. He usually flew his way across the skies on his daily journey alone. It was nice for once to have company.

[But isn't this more comfortable?] Blaze asked.

"I have to admit it is." Alee smiled.

[Just don't heat up on me Sun god. I'm a fire dragon, but I know you can generate more heat than I can.]

"Don't worry my friend." Alee laughed. "I'm saving my strength for later."

[What exactly do you know of this Kearn?] Icicle asked flying beside them.

"Kearn is not of my family." Alee explained. "He's of a more northern line of gods from a wintry land. He's very powerful and cold hearted. The kind that demanded live sacrifices of his people. You know how it goes. Mortals outgrow their need for us gods and only the most powerful can survive without them."

[What about your family?] Blaze asked.

"My family's been in Fortis since before man stepped on this world." He told them. "We don't need worship. We interact with mortals in order to help them evolve. That's my father's law, the most important one."

"But what of Muerte?" Icicle asked. "She's so evil."

"Yes." He frowned. "My brother Vitale, you call him Aramis spent eons trying to teach her compassion. But she cares for nothing but power. That's why he took her into banishment in the underworld. He loved her so much, he went with her. Alas she escaped. Now we have to deal with her evil intentions."

There was silence after that. Neither Icicle nor Blaze knew what to say. Blaze understood what Aramis had tried to do. He would do anything to save his family. That included all the dragons, his wife and children and the people of New Keanna. He knew all the rest of the dragons felt the same. A warm feeling went through him as he thought about them all. It was love for his clan. Up ahead of them, they saw the great gray clouds over Bravosa. Icicle could feel the storm already.

[That's where we are heading.] He told them. [I can feel the power of the cold from here. ]

"So can I." Alee said. "I can strengthen the sun, but I don't know if it can break through that cloud anytime soon. It's been building so long. It will take time."

[Do what you can. ] Icicle told him.

[Blaze, Icicle? Can you hear me?]

Startled by the call they answered their brother. It was Blink calling. [We hear you brother. What's wrong? ]

[I'm in Bravosa, I came in shadow. The ice is overwhelming. They're freezing to death here.]

[We know. We're almost there.]

[You have to hurry.] Blink called.

High up in the tower in the crystal room, Jona and Chuy watch as the Dragons flew into Bravosa. They looked at each other in wonder.

"Could this be the cause of the storm?" Jona asked his master.

"There have been Dragons that powerful, yes." Chuy scratched his chin. "But that's not the Dragon's way. We have had no quarrel with any dragons, so why would they do this to us?"

"I don't know." Jona said as he started for the door. "But I'll make them pay."

"Stop!" Chuy grabbed his arm. "You don't have the power to face a dragon that powerful. Even I don't."

"But together we may be able to do it." Jona looked at his master pleading.

"But not both of them." Chuy said. "Besides, we don't even know that they're responsible. They could be here to help. That's what Dragons do. They're guardians, not power mad killers."

"What about that shadow dragon that tore up the lands overseas?" Jona paced back and forth. "He killed so many."

"And who stopped him?" Chuy said as he moved to a chair and sat down. "Dragons stopped him. Maybe these same dragons that have come here. A Mage gets all the information he can before acting. You know this. For now we contact these dragons and see why they're here. We don't act, we don't attack the unknown."

"Yes master." Jona settled before Chuy's chair.

"Use the crystal to call them here." He told his apprentice. "And stop worrying, it will affect your decisions. I will be in my study."

Jona bowed as his master stood and left the room. He knew his master was right. He was still young and too emotional at times. What he needed was Clea beside him. She always seemed to calm him down when he was troubled. But he had a job to do now. He stepped up to the globe and passed his hands over it. The room darkened and the globe filled with flashes of multi colored light and became brighter as a vision of the dragons appeared. He saw a man riding on the back of one. Just as he was ready to call out to them, Clea walked in. He waved her to his side and called out to them.

"Aiya. I am Jona. Why have you come to Bravosa?"

[We are here to help you.] Blaze sent. [Can we land and meet you to talk?]

Jona looked at Clea. She nodded her approval. It seems Chuy was right.

"The crystal will show you the way here." Jona told them. "We'll be awaiting your arrival."

As Kearn watched his storm, he saw something in the sky. Something with huge wings. He knew just what it was. The Dragons. Muerte had warned him about them. She had said they were enemies that were trying to bring her down and to stop them at any cost.

"You won't ruin my plans."

He thrust out his hand and sent a icicle shower at them. As they whistled to their target, the dragons went into their descent toward the tower. Something caught Blaze's hearing and he turned to see a flash coming at them.

[Look out!!]

He folded his wings into a dive towards the ground. He moved so fast Alee rolled off his back and began to fall. As he fell he saw the ice missiles heading for him. Alee waved at them and sent a blast of heat out and melted the first two into steam. Braze blew his flame out and caught two more heading at him. Icicle hovered for a moment and let them strike him in his chest. Blaze screamed his name in fear that he may have gotten hurt and flew to catch him.

[Don't worry brother.] He said as Blaze reached him. [As fire can't hurt you, no ice can harm me. I just absorb it.]

"Did either of you see where the attack came from? " Alee asked.

[I didn't see them until they were just about to hit. ] Blaze hovered next to them.

"There's the tower. Let's get down there."

All together the three swooped down to land. Outside of the tower, Jona and Clea waited for them draped in heavy furs. Soon as the landed, the two dragons shifted to human form and walked in with Alee radiating heat beside them. Blink slipped out of shadow to greet them.

"What took you so long?"

"Heavy winds" Alee smiled at him.

"I'm Jona, apprentice mage to my master Chuy." He reached out his hand and shook all their hands. "This is my wife Clea."

Alee bowed to her and kissed her hand. "We are charmed lady Clea." He smiled his blond hair waving in the heat coming off him. Clea blushed as the three dragon's introduced themselves.

"If you know what's happening in our skies, we're glad you're here,"

"We do." Alee told him. "Perhaps we should go inside before you two freeze out here."

Jona held out his hand and ushered them to the tower.

"My friends." Clea said. "You're not dressed for this cold weather. How can this be?"

"Blink, Blaze and I are dragons lady." Icicle told her. " Most weather doesn't bother us."

"And you Sir Alee? Jona asked.

[Don't tell them about you godhood. Most people don't react well to meeting gods.]

Alee heard in his head. It was Aramis talking to him and the Dragons. [Just tell them you're a mage.]

"As you can see from the heat rising from me. " He said. " Cold isn't a bother either. It's a complex spell. Very complex."

They arrived at the tower. None of the three saw a door and looked at Jona in wonder as to how to get in. He laughed and put his hand on the wall. It passed right through. The three looked at him and smiled.

"Another complex spell." Alee said. "You and your master are very talented. Shall we meet him?"

"We will in just a few minutes, and then you can explain what's going on."

One after the other they all walked through the wall and found themselves standing in the first floor entrance of the tower. Chuy stood there in his white robes holding his staff waiting for them.

"Aiya my friends." He said spreading out his hands. "What brings you to our lands in these troubled times."

"Just that sire." Blink said shaking his hand. "We come to tell you of the terrible thing invading your lands."

"This storm you mean?" Jona said.

"Yes. But it's not just a storm." Blaze told them. " It's much more."

"Come into the palor and rest and you can tell us all about it."

Clea showed them the way in. As they walked in, a barren room suddenly became a furnished living room with couches, chairs, tables and comfortable furnishings. On a table sat a tea service set which Clea served once they all sat down.

"Please tell us why our lands are freezing." Chuy said. Alee put down the cup of tea he was drinking, looked into their eyes and asked a question.

Blink leaned over the table and looked them in the eyes.

"Have you ever heard of Muerte?"

Back on the snowy fields, Kearn paced around his throne. He had seen the Dragons arrive and tried a first unsuccessful attack. Now if he wanted his plans to come about, he would have to be more aggressive. He knew there would be no way for him to hide from them. They were very powerful and tracing his power should not be hard at all. So he could either wait here for them or go on the attack himself. With his cold hands, Kearn fashioned out of snow something special. He created a group of seven foot tall snowmen with a variety of weapons at their sides. Swords, axes, spears, and shields. Next he molded some of the most savage creatures of the north. Snowdogs. Sabre toothed and the size of large horses. The Snowdog's look could freeze the blood in any one that gazed upon them.

Kearn looked on his creations. With a mighty breath he breathed life into them. As they woke they shook off the loose snow and took their first steps toward their master and bowed to him. Pleased with his work Kearn give his Snowmen there orders.

"Find my enemies treasure. Something they would die for and bring it out. Once you have found it, call me and I will bring you to me. Now go!"

Roaring out and beating their chest, the snowmen mounted up on the dogs and rode off on their mission. Kearn walked back to his throne and sat down.

"I need something else to fight the dragons with." He said to himself.

"But what? What will help me kill my enemies?"

Nightfall on Yadessa and the streets of Vasagi its capital were quiet. Like the rest of the cities Muerte had attacked, many bodies litter the streets. Bodies of young and old vampires that died in the dragon attack. The smell of burned and bloated bodies was overwhelming. Dressed in dark cloaks with hoods over their heads, Valkar, Azeal and Eheren quietly made their way through the city. Many buildings were burning or blown apart by the attack of fire, wind and water. Valkar was determined not to show the others the pain he felt seeing his city like this. Every now and then they saw someone darting in and out of the ruins. Sometimes there were large groups of vampires hiding in damaged buildings. They would show them the way out of Yadessa to safety.

"Tir Na was the safest place for you." He would tell them. "Go to the Werewolves. Drake promises us sanctuary."

"Can they be trusted?" an elder vampire asked. "They're our enemies."

"Not for a long time old sir." Valkar put his hand on the man's shoulder. "Trust them and act with honor while in their hands and you will be fine."

As the crowd started to move out of the ruined building, a palace guard stepped up to Valkar. He went down on his knees and placed his sword at Valkar's feet.

"Sire, my mind is in a blur." He said. "This last month is like a haze to me. What has happened to me? To Yadessa?"

"Count Balthazar is what happened." He bid the man to rise. "With magic he confused the minds of the people to rebel and took the country. This is the result of his treachery."

"Then I stand at your side." The guard told his king.

"No, I need you to take these people to Tir Na. Gather everyone you can and get them there safely. I will free our home."

Ashame for betraying his king and the loyalty renewed in his heart gripped the man.

"I will return with all the help I can once every one's safe." He bowed again and picked up his weapon.

"Thank you Knight." Valkar smiled." Now get them moving."

"You heard the King." He turned to the crowd. "Let's move."

As he started to head out the Guard turned back.

"My King." He said. "Balthazar prepares himself for war. He created a small army of some kind of creatures from palace guards to fight for him. He will turn them on you. Be careful. He has eyes everywhere."

"Thank you for your warning."

From across the way, eyes watched Valkar and the others. Not friendly eyes at all. Leathery wings flapped and something took to the air. It was on a mission itself. To report back to Balthazar what it had just seen.

Deep in the jungles of Azia a raven flew high in the trees. It went from tree to tree watching the mass of people making their way towards Cressca's pyramid. In her mind, Angela prayed to her moon goddess for guidance for she didn't have a clue how to turn these people from their deaths. She couldn't think of any spells strong enough to break Cressca's hold on these poor people. She had been told early in life of Cressca's tales of death. Most vampires had known that they had been created by a death god and worshiped her for centuries. But that ended a long time ago. They had been free of Muerte until she was freed from the underworld and set on her mad quest to bring death to the world.

From a tree top she looked down on the long line of walking sacrifices heading to their death. Maybe Athene had some idea what to do.

[Any ideas how to wake them?] She asked.

[None, Cressca's hold is strong.] Athene sent. [I guess we wait until Jax attacks and weakens his hold.]

[Then we have to get close to the front of them and be ready.] Angela took off from her tree. [Once the battle starts, we'll have to move fast.

[I'm on my way.]

All around the pyramid stood Cressca's guards. Gray faced and drained of all but the smallest part of their life force, they stood guard. One would think they would be weak, existing on such low amounts of life force, but any one of them could drop a tree with a few strikes. All they could do now was follow Cressca's orders to the letter. And that's what they did. There orders were to watch for any threat to Cressca and to keep the people moving in so Cressca could keep feeding his bottomless hunger.

Watching from the edge of the jungle, Jax and Sting waited. In front of them stood two guards, huge and powerful pushing the people through to the pyramid silently.

"This is going to be a real battle for us." He said as he looked Sting up and down. "You're going to need to be much stronger and have a clearer mind for this."

[ME STRONG.] Sting sent to him lifting and snapping a tree limb with his claw.

"I know my friend." Jax smiled. "Now I'm going to make some changes in you. I'll explain when you can understand."

Jax stood and walked behind Sting and placed his hands on his back.


All around Sting's great form a glow began to appear and the power of Jax began to fill him. He lifted his claw to look at it and noticed the razor sharpness all along its edge. Then like a dream his mind cleared like a cloud passing over the sun.

[I can think again!] He sent to Jax. Sting turned to him and his small eye stalks focused on him.

"How do you feel?" Jax asked.

[Almost like my old self again.] He said. [Thank you my lord.]

"No." Jax told him. "I may be a god, but I'm your friend. I should have done this when first we met. It is I who owe you an apology. No longer are you sentenced to this monstrous form. You can change to your old form whenever you want. Just think of your old self and you will change back to a vampire. Try it."

Sting concentrated on what he looked like before Balthazar did his experiments on him. His body shimmered out of focus then in a flash a handsome vampire stood where a monster was before. He looked down at his hands and his naked body then reached up to touch his face. Tears appeared at his eyes as he looked at his naked form. Two legs and two arms again, not multiply legs and two claws and a stinger.

"I've made you stronger, faster and giving you your mind back. All I ask is that you always fight with the Dragons for justice and to help people. Agreed?"

Sting reached out his hand to Jax in gratitude. Jax took his hand and shook it.

"I can't thank you enough." He said shaking his hand. "You've given me back my life."

"You're welcome Sting." Jax smiled.

"My name is Adam." He told him. "I'll only be Sting when in that form."

"Then Adam it is. You ready?"

He closed his eyes and shifted back to the Sting form and snapped his claws together.

[I'm ready.]

As Jayce and the others sat and listened to Will's story about the destruction of Relos, Toric could feel a familiar feeling. He didn't understand exactly what it was but he knew he'd felt it before. But where? It was before he met the dragons, he knew that. Was it something from the pens in the old compound? Something of his uncle's? Or his father's? Then it hit him. He did knew that presence. How could he forget it? He had dreaded feeling it for so long he'd forgotten it. It was his father out there. Pelis the Collector had come back in some more powerful form. This had to be Muerte's doing. She had found him and given him the power to have his revenge.

[Toric, I can feel something's bothering you.] He heard in his head.

[Where are you Ariel?] He sent back.

[I'm about to land and join the rest of you. What's wrong?]

[I know who attacked Relos.] He told her.

[Yes, Muerte did this.] She sent. "And I'm here."

Toric turned and watch her walk towards them. His heart began to pound in his chest as he gazed on her beauty. Her long white blond hair pointed ears and slender body in her sky blue leathers. Toric knew he had to ask Rage and Cutter for her hand. Ariel walked over to them as they all watched. She smiled and stood next to Toric.

"Glad you're here Ariel." Jayce smiled. "This is Will and Beth, the sole survivors of Relos. They were just telling us what happened here."

"I think Toric has something more important to tell us." She turned to him and took Toric's hand. That made him feel more confident. He was going to have to tell them anyway so why not now.

"What is it, Toric." Graym asked.

"Ever since we entered Relos I've had this familiar feeling. Like there was something here that I've known before." He said. "I couldn't put my finger on it until I heard their story. Now I know what it is."

"Go on." Jayce told him.

"The monster that destroyed Relos, is my father." He said. "The Collector."

Jayce looked at him in shock. He knew the Collector. He had almost killed Ono once and Jandar had made him a freak for it.

"Are you sure?" Jayce asked. "And how is that even possible?"

"With Muerte, anything's possible." Pelic said.

"Yes, I can feel him even now." Toric said. "And he's much more powerful than before. He doesn't need our power any more. Muerte has given him his own."

"Everybody up and on your guard." Jayce said. "We have to find him. Toric, can you find his trail?"

"I think so." He said. "What about the kids? We can't leave them."

"Ariel can fly them to New Keanna." Jayce said. "There they'll be safe."

Will stood up and stepped to Jayce. " I want to help kill it."

"NO!!" Beth screamed. "You can't leave me! I'll be all alone, you'll get killed just like Pa and Ma. You can't go!!"

"Shhh now." Ariel took Beth into her arms to calm her. "He's coming with us away from here. Right?" She looked over to Will. Tears flowed down his sister's face. He knew he had to go with her. There was no way he could leave her alone no matter what he wanted to do. He went to his sister and took her from Ariel and held her.

"Yes I'm coming." He told her. "I won't leave you ever again."

"That's settled." Jayce said. "Ariel, you fly them home and tell Shayn and Ono what's going on then come back. We may need you."

"Of course I'm coming back." She kissed Toric and took the kids hands and led them off to a place where she could shift and take off.

"OK Toric, which way?

"We're going up into the hills above the town." Toric told them. He started walking towards the city gates. Jayce looked to Graym and Pelic and nodded. Spreading their wings they took to the air. Swooping down Graym and Jayce each grabbed one of Toric's arms and lifted him high into the air and out over the wall to land beyond the city's gate.

Once Toric was out of the city, he stopped to probe out for his father's presence. It didn't take him long, he felt him right away. Once he did, he started walking towards the embankment where the hills started.

"It's a long way up through these woods." Graym said as he stood on the edge of the road.

"Now which way?" Pelic asked.

Now that he knew what he was looking for Toric knew he would have no problem finding Pelis. He closed his eyes and searched for an exact location of his presence. In his mind he latched onto his memories of his fathers, and then reached out into the hills. Like a shining beacon Pelis's aura shined out at him.

"I found him." Toric opened his eyes.

"Where is he?" Jayce asked.

"Not far. Less than a few hours from here." He said.

"Did he detect you?" Pelic asked.

Toric shrugged his shoulders. "If I can feel him, I'm sure he feels me."

"Damn!" Jayce said. "Then this won't be a surprise. He'll know we're coming. We'll just have to deal with it. Here's what we'll do."

Sitting in his damaged throne room, Balthazar sat with folded hands in a sour mood. The Dragons had attacked and tore Yadessa apart. Many were dead, not that he cared, but he knew Muerte would be here soon to finish what the Dragons had started. Where was Valkar and his allies? They were supposed to be here to battle her and end her threat on Yadessa. Then he would finish them off while they were weak from the fight. Things we're not going as he planned. Somehow he would have to adjust his plans, get them here before she arrived. Suddenly a noise overhead caught his attention. It was one of his familiars. Maybe there was some kind of news to report. From the ceiling the bat flew down and perched on his shoulder. It whispered in his ear. He's here. Balthazar smiled his dark smile.

There was no way to sneak into Cressca's pyramid, so Jax and Sting decided the direct approach would work best. Out of the jungle they walked right toward the guards. The first one looked up and saw them. He charged bellowing his warning to his master with his spear raised to strike Jax down. As he reached Jax, Sting stepped in front of him and raised his claw to intercept the strike. A loud clang rang out through the jungle as they met. Snapping closed on the spear, Sting wrench it from the guard and whipped his stinger around and batted the guard aside. He didn't stay down long. They maybe be dimwitted, but their reflexes were fast. From the ground he jumped back up and attacked Sting. Blow after blow rained on Stings carapace pushing him back with the force of the strikes. With incredible speed, Sting struck out with his claws and stabbed into the chest of the guard. Impaled on Stings claw he died just as the next guard came into sight. Jax stepped up and put out his hand.

" HOLD." He bellowed. "Tell your master Jax the god of Justice challenges him to combat. Come out and meet me in battle."

"I hear you Fortis god." Rang out from the pyramid. The sound of great wings flapping came from the ruined structure. From the shadows a large dark muscular man in robes with great bat like wings emerged. He walked out to stand beside two of his guards and pushed back his hood. Cressca's face was more bat like than human with a flat nose, a wide fanged mouth and long pointed ears. In his hand he held a long spear decorated with locks of human hair bound by bone.

"Welcome Jax, brother of Muerte." He said. "To what do I owe this visit?"

"I'm here to stop all your horrors, Monster." Jax stepped forward. "Did you think Justice would not come for you? Did you think all these souls cry would go unanswered?"

"I thought all of Fortis was destroyed by Muerte." Cressca answered.

"You were wrong." Jax told him. "And so is Muerte if she thinks we'll let her destroy the people here."

"The death goddess is more powerful than your justice." Cressca said. "You can't stop us."

"I can stop you Rodent." Jax smiled.

As Jax stared into Cressca's eyes he knew he needed a weapon to fight this monster. Not just any weapon would do, he needed something special. Something ancient and powerful that would bring Cressca down for good. He thought of all the weapons his brothers and sisters had created in all their past battles and only one he thought would be strong enough to do the job. It was a weapon his sister Serina the war goddess had forged to fight her predecessor Helion. It was a great scimitar forged in the center of Keanna's largest volcano to give it great power. She called it Hazard. It had a golden blade that gave off the heat of the volcano in its strike. Its hilt was made of silver forged by Dirod for the gods use. All along the blade were spells etched in it to make it indestructible. This was the sword he needed now. Jax called out in his mind to it and asked it to come to him in his time of need. In a flash, it came to him and settled in his hand, Jax rushed forward at Cressca raising the weapon for a strike. Cressca jumped into the air spreading his great wings to avoid the hit. But he would need to do more than that. Jax may not have wings, but that didn't matter. He was a god and didn't need wings to fly. He jumped into the air and slashed at Cressca and made a thrust for his chest. Bringing his spear up, Cressca blocked Jax strike as smoke and sparks flew up, and swung the end up toward Jax head. Ducking he kicked out and hit Cressca in his chest. The kick sent him flying back at the pyramid. Responding quickly, Cressca opened his wings and slowed his fall. Angered by the strike, Cressca raised his hand and sent a blast of energy at Jax. Lighting up the night, the blast flew at Jax. Raising his sword Jax blocked it from hitting him and deflected the blast into the jungle.

"You fight well Jax." Cressca said as they circled each other.

"My sister the goddess of war taught me well." Jax smiled.

"We'll see about that."

Cressca launched himself at Jax, stabbing at him. Missing he slashed out spinning his spear low and around at Jax legs. Ducking the stab, Jax missed the slash and the spear hit his legs knocking him to the ground. Seeing his enemy down Cressca tried to thrust down into Jax chest. Jax rolled away. Cressca followed stabbing down again and again into the ground where Jax had just been. Using all of his speed, Jax was able to get far enough away from Cressca to get up and send his own blast at the bat god. With seconds to spare, Cressca sprang up into the air and sent blast after blast at Jax. Back on his feet Jax raised his sword to block Cressca's blasts. One after the other Cressca's energy blast was deflected away from Jax as he strongly stood his ground.

Standing on the side opposite Cressca's stood his slow minded guards. Sting began to slowly back his way out of the courtyard. In his mind he called out to Athene and Angela.

[Lady Angela, Lady Athene!] Sting sent.[ Cressca is distracted. Try breaking his spell now. ]

[Sting?] He heard Angela. [Your mind feels different. What's happening there? ]

[No time for that. Jax is battling Cressca. Now's your chance to free the villagers and get them away from here.] He sent to her. [You have to hurry.]

As he turned he began to shift to human form. He stopped at the dead guard and removed his kilt and wrapped it around his waist. Now dressed he took off down the trail to stop anyone else from wandering in on the battle.

[ I'll be back for you Jax.] He sent back. [ Stay alive.]

[I plan to Adam. Don't worry about me. Get all those people away from here.]

[We will.] Adam said as he ran through the jungle to find the ladies.

Running and jumping over fallen trees, Adam looked up to see a raven flying overhead. It was Lady Angela heading for Athene. Adam called out to her, but she couldn't hear him. She was flying due west. He turned in that direction and shifted to a wolf and went after her.

Athene had found the front of the line of people stumbling toward the pyramid. In her mist form she floated down to reform ahead of them. Like the walking dead they moved slowly, their minds fighting the compulsion to get to Cressca. Athene raised her hands and uttered a spell. A bright light flashed from her hands blinding the sleeper. They shielded their eyes for a second and stopped. But she couldn't keep it up for too long. Soon the spell faded and they started walking again. Overhead she heard a squawk. Her mother had arrived, flying down to land next to her, Angela shifted back to her beautiful human form.

"Mother." She said. "We need a spell. Something powerful enough to break Cressca's spell."

"We'll have to make one ourselves." Angela told her. "I don't know anything that would work."

From the edge of the jungle a reddish colored wolf came speeding towards them. Angela raised her hands a spell on her lips ready to cast at the wolf.

[No lady!] Adam sent then shifted. "It's me! Sting!"

She lowered her hands and stepped closer and hugged him. "What in Rimnar's name happened to you?"

"Jax happened." He said. "But we have to hurry. Jax may need our help. How do we turn them back?"

"I have an idea." Athene said. "If we can show them in their minds what they're heading for, it may stop them, break his hold. But I haven't seen the pyramid or Cressca up close, I don't know what's going on there."

"I have." Adam said. "Can you link my memories To your spell?"

"Yes I can." Angela told them.

"I'm going to need both of you. I don't have the power to affect all these people." Athene said. "Join hands."

Hand in hand, the three stood there as the people came closer and closer. A soft glow began to build around them as Athene gathered there power together. Then she began her spell.

Sight to sight and clear to the eye.
A vision we send that you can't deny.
Of horrors to come, the Monster you seek.
His true self we show you. we give you a peek.
Of blood and bones and death to come.
We show you his lair and what will be done.

Suddenly all forward movement stopped and everyone stood transfixed staring into space. Scenes from Adam's memories flashed through their minds. Pictures of where they were heading, the ruined pyramid and all the carnage around it. They could see all the bodies piled in the pit rotting away. The guards pushing their friends towards their death and the monster in the shadows. Then Adam revealed exactly what called out to them. Cressca in all his terrible glory dripping with blood laughing as he fed. Cressca's visage shocked them out of the spell and awake.

"You did it!!" Adam called out in surprise.

"We did it." Athene smiled. "All of us. I couldn't do it without both of you."

Dazed and confused people wandered over to them. They all had a frightened look on their faces.

"What are we doing here?" A gray haired farmer asked. "And what was that monster ?"

"That was Cressca." Angela told him everything that had happened. The man's eyes opened wide. "I see you remember him."

"Yes, that monster killed my oldest son a few years ago." He said. "If he's back no one's safe here. Only the Mage, Jandar and his friends the Dragons destroyed him before. What do we do, how do we contact him now for help?"

"We'll help." Adam said. "Take your people home and let us deal with him."

"You woke us and stopped us from certain death. We'll trust you for now and go back home. Once you finish him we'll tear the rest of that pyramid down and bury the dead. Thank you all for your help."

With that he led his people away toward their homes. Angela, Athene and Adam were glad they had done their part for these people. Then Adam remembered Jax.

"Jax!!" He shouted. "Come on, we have to hurry back to him."

Turning back to the jungle, Adam shifted back to wolf and sped away. Looking at her daughter, Angela kissed her cheek.

"You did well. Now let's go help Jax."

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