Castle Roland

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

by Jandar Tyr

In Progress

Chapter 9

Published: 3 Oct 16

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

Copyright © 2016 by Jandar Tyr
All Rights Reserved

The Lost and the New Dragon

It was rather late in the day when Insa arrived in New Keanna. As he hurried toward the Manor he worried about his students confronting the Orcs. Would Micah and Craven be able to take the Orc mage? Micah hadn't used any magic in hundreds of years. Could he still show Craven how to direct his spells? Insa wasn't sure. He had to make Jandar notice him and send help. He wasn't even sure he would be able to make Jandar notice him since rage was away. But he had to try. He also had to find his way home, back to his body, before Tayor found a way to destroy it.

Insa knew Jandar and Rage's study was up in the family section of the Manor. That was up on the upper floors so, he made his way there. Once in he made his way from room to room looking for the werewolf mage. In one room he found Blaze playing with his children on the floor. He moved on. In the next he found Nautica and Denner talking. They would be of no help to him so he kept moving. Room after room he checked until he came to a room with a young man sitting alone. He sat on the floor in the lotus position meditating. He knew this young man; his name was Eheren. He also knew deep inside him was the spirit of another powerful mage, Magnes, Rages father. He may be able to detect his presence. Insa drifted in closer to him. So close he was hovering right over him.

[ Magnes! ] He called out with his mind. For a second nothing happened. Then the boy opened his eyes and looked around, he had felt something. [ Hear me Magnes. It is I, Insa. ]

Eheren stood up and looked around the room.

[ Insa? ] He sent. [ How are you doing this? You're out of your body? ]

[ Yes. ] The smoke dragon told. [ I've been trapped outside of my body. I need you and Jandar's help to get back in. Where is Jandar? I've been trying to contact him, but I guess I'll need to be close to him for him to hear me. ]

[ Jandar is in Tir Na. ] Eheren said. He could feel the disappointment emanating from the spirit. [ But I can send Blink through shadows to bring him back here. ]

[ Thank you. ] He sent. [ But I need help right now for my children. There going against a very powerful Orc mage on the cliffs. Can you send them help? ]

[ Yes I can. I'll send Blaze and Ariel to help them. ] Eheren stood and walked to his door and left his room. [ But there's something you need to know. Jandar sent people to Winterhaven to investigate the problems there. It seems your council is in trouble. ]

[ Tayor Larin!! ] Insa sent. [ What has he done? ]

[ We're not sure. But the city is in peril and your body isn't safe there. ] Eheren explained. [ Cutter is there now trying to unravel the dreamweave on you and Azeal and Tanis are there for protection, but they're no match for the magic that could be sent at them. ]

[ And the others on the council? ] Insa asked.

[ Cutter says he has two members with him. Councilors Den and Humbridge. ] Eheren made his way down the hall to the apartments of the rest of the dragons on that floor. He sat down on a bench to finish his talk with Insa. [ The other he says they're having problems contacting. ]

[ The city isn't safe for any of the council anymore. ] Insa said. [ Tayor is trying to pull a coup. Make Winterhaven his own kingdom. ]

[ Will the people stand for that? ]

[ Tayor is very powerful. ] He sent. [ Almost as powerful as I am. But if he can use the right magic, it could work. Look at what Balthazar did in Yadessa. ]

[ Then we have to get your body out of there. ] Eheren told him. [ You're the only one that can oppose him successfully and reorganize the city. ]

[ How? ] Insa asked. [ How are you going to get my huge body out of my chamber and back here? ]

[ I have an idea that just may work. ] Eheren stood. [ But I'll need help. ]

[ There's not many in the city I might be able to trust right now. My students are our best chance. Once Zarin and the others are here we can make plans. I trust them. But have Blaze hurry. I don't know how long they can hold out. ]

[ They're on their way. ] Eheren said. [ And so is Blink to Winterhaven. ]

As evening began to fall in Winterhaven strange things began to happen. The siege began. Tayor knew to take the city, he would need his own troops. Youron had been recruiting men from all over. He had found many of the men Polan had used in his Black Armors and other rouges that he found in other dark seedy areas of different towns and cities. He had visited a few dark elven tribes and made deals in Tayor's name and made promises for their help and they agreed, sending warriors to fight for him. All these men were smuggled in through the hidden Larin tunnel into the city and housed on Tayor's property. Now it was time to put them to work. To take the city, Tayor knew that four areas had to be secured. The two gates, the city guard barracks and the council building. Tayor had put Yourin in charge of the raid on the the guard house. One of the dark elves, Zora Silverhand to take the main gate. The south gate wouldn't take that much effort so Zora sent a few of his men to seize it. Last would be the council building, that Tayor would command himself. With most of the council under his power, he and a small band walked in and overcame the guards at the front easily. The fighting there was over quickly and quietly, then Tayor and his men spread out through the building floor by floor seizing control and heading for the council room and Insa's balcony lair.

On Insa's balcony, Cutter and the two council members still worked to free Insa of the dream weaving without success. The spell Tayor had used was very elaborate and deeply woven on the dragon. As they worked a sudden burst of fear struck Cutter coming from the lower floors causing him to lose his concentration and waver a bit. Kneeling next to him, Councilor Den reached out and grabbed him to steady him.

Suddenly in his mind Cutter received a message. He had no idea who sent it but he knew what it meant.

[ Trouble's on its way to you. Beware!! ]

"What's wrong?" She asked worried.

"They're here!" Cutter said putting his hand to his temple. Quickly he probed the building to see what the trouble was.


"Tayor." Cutter got to his feet and waved Azeal and Tanis over. "He's got a small force with him and he's coming here to kill us."

Azeal reached for Justice and pulled it from its scabbard. The blue salvation stone in its hilt began to glow anticipating the oncoming battle. Seeing Azeal pull his blade Tanis ran over from the door and asked what was going on.

"Troubles on it's way here." Azeal told him.

"Put that away." Cutter told Azeal. "The glow of Justice will give us away."

"What do you mean?" Azeal asked. "You think anyone coming in is going to miss seeing us or this huge dragon in the middle of the floor?"

"They will if everyone can be quiet and let me concentrate." He waved them all closer to Insa and himself then shifted to Cutter. In his dragon form Cutter spread himself over Insa and began sending out his illusion. Quietly they waited as the door to the balcony burst open and Tayor and his men strode in with their weapons drawn. Tayor looked around to see the balcony empty. There was nothing there. No smoke dragon, nothing.

"There's nothing here!" A dark elf said in surprise. They all took a few steps in to search around.

"Where is he?" Tayor shouted. He walked in stopping just before he stepped on Cutter's tail. Quietly Tanis pulled a dagger from inside his shirt, ready to strike at Tayor. Azeal gripped his arm to warn him not to act.

"Spread out and search the building." Tayor told his men. "I don't know how he did it, but he has to be here somewhere."

Nodding to their leader the dark elves all turned and ran out of the chamber. Tayor stood there for a minute looking around. He could still feel Insa's magic in the room. He had no idea it was actually the dragon's presence he was feeling.

"I'll find you." He said. "And when I do, we'll find out who rules Winterhaven. Me or you."

He turned and walked out of the chamber leaving Cutter to drop his illusion and the rest to breathe easy.

"Now what?" Azeal asked. Tanis went to the door and slipped the lock back on.

"We get Insa out of here." Cutter told them.

"How do you plan to do that?" Councilor Den asked. "I could transport him, but the second either of us start a spell Tayor will find us. He'll be here before we could finish the spell."

"We have ways he won't detect." Cutter said. "We'll get you and Insa away from here."

"I don't see how." Humbridge stepped around Insa's body. "Unless illusion can move us."

"Illusion can't." A voice came out of the shadow in the back of the chamber. "But shadows can."

Everyone turned and looked as a man dressed in black came walking out of the shadows smiling at them.

"Blink!!" Azeal called out to him. "Glad to see you. We have a siege on our hands here. You could be a lot of help."

"I'm supposed to get Insa back to New Keanna." He said walking up to them and greeting those he didn't know. "Then I have to go get Jandar from Tir Na. After that I can help."

"Can you take them to also?" Cutter asked indicating the two Councilors.

"Wait!"Humbridge stopped him. "This is our city, our fight. We could be a lot of help here. We know the city and Tayor."

"Listen." Cutter said. "As far as we know, you're the last of the ruling council. We need you somewhere safe where this Tayor can't harm you. The people of Winterhaven will need your help once this is over. Besides, you two can finish the spell to free Insa. We'll need all three of you before long. So please go."

Councilor Humbridge started to object when Councilor Den stopped him with a touch and a smile.

"We'll go." She said. "Just save our city please."

"We'll do all we can." Cutter said. He turned to Azeal and Tanis. "You're staying here with me. We're unknown to these people and I can disguise us if necessary. We work from within."

The two young vampires nodded their agreement and readiness to help. Councilors Den and Humbridge shook their hands and stepped over to Blink. He took their hands and touched Insa's body then extended the shadows in the room to cover them and was gone in a flash of darkness.

"So what's our next move?" Tanis asked.

"We should secure the Academy." Cutter told them. "Once Tayor Larin has the city, he'll go there being it's actually separate from Winterhaven but still a part of it. We need to see whether the faculty stands with us or with Tayor. If with us, we'll have to organize them for a stand or what comes next."

Feeling the wind on his face as they came in to land, Zarin had just had his first ride on the back of a dragon. He loved being in the air flying with Blaze. Such freedom he thought. Blaze had taken Zarin, Rese and Reno and Ariel had Craven, Dack and Zark. Zark cowed close to Craven as they flew, scared of being in the air and really glad when they were back on the ground. Thalia and Trip flew on their own next to them. After shifting back to human form Blaze ushered them into the Manor and to a place where they could get something to eat, then he went to Jandar's study to see Eheren.

"We found them." Blaze said as they entered.

"Are they alright?" Eheren asked from the desk.

"They seem fine." Ariel said sitting down. "Those kids are really something."

"What do you mean?"

"They defeated the Orcs by themselves." She told him. "That includes the mage, and that had to be some kind of fight. Orcs train in very powerful magic."

"Insa said they had help. He didn't say what kind of help, just that we should hurry." Eheren stood up from the desk and walked over to the lounge area and sat with Ariel and Blaze.

"What do you hear from Jandar and Rage?" Blaze asked.

"Not much from Rage." He said. "I know Jandar's worried. And so am I. Ono and Shayn are still missing and Rage is out with Jax searching for them. Jandar says he hasn't felt him or heard from him in weeks. His only choice is to find Aramis for his help."

"Rage will find them, I'm sure he will." Ariel put her hand on Eheren's to comfort him.

"In the meanwhile we deal with home and Winterhaven." Eheren stood. "Why don't we go greet our new guests and see what we can do."

"Is everyone finished eating?" Rose asked. All around the table she saw satisfied faces smiling at her with empty plates in front of them. The last to finish was Dack as he scraped the endings of his eggs from his plate.

"Yes Ma'am." Zarin smiled at her. "It was delicious. We haven't had much to eat since we left home."

"You must be missing your families and school." She reached down and started collecting plates off the table.

"I'll help you." Thalia jumped up to help her taking Reno and Trip's empty plate.

"Thank you." Rose smiled. "Just make yourselves comfortable. Someone should be here for you in just a few minutes."

"Thank you Ma'am." They all said as Rose and Thalia headed into the kitchen.

"What are we doing here?" Reno asked. "We should be going home."

"I don't know." Zarin said. "Blaze said someone wanted us here. I guess we'll find out soon."

[ Rese! ]

"Yes?" Rese turned to Trip next to him. Trip looked at him.

"What?" He said.

"You called me."

"I didn't." Trip frowned. "You alright?"

"Yes." Rese said. "I thought I heard you call me. I must be tired after all the trekking with the Orcs."

Just then Eheren and Blaze walked into the room followed by Ariel. Zarin and the others stood as they came over to them. They looked at Eheren with surprise. He was a kid like them. That made them more comfortable.

"Welcome too New Keanna." Eheren smiled. He reached out and grasped all their arms in greeting one by one. "We're very glad your all here. I suppose you're wondering why. Please everyone have a seat."

"Yes." Zarin said as he sat back down. "Blaze told us someone was waiting for us, but we don't know anyone from here."

"Don't you?" Ariel asked. They all looked at her in wonder. "Don't you all know a dragon?"

"Professor Insa?" Reno asked. "What's he got to do with this?"

"Insa's part of our clan, even though he lives in Winterhaven." Eheren told them. "We have a lot to tell you all. You don't know what's happening in Winterhaven do you?"

"No." Dack said fear beginning to creep into his voice for his family. "What is it?"

"Winterhaven is under siege." Eheren sat down next the Zarin as the shock of what he had just said sank in. All of them except Zark and Rese started shouting out questions to him.

[ Rese! ]

"WHAT?!" Rese stood calling out. Everyone turned to look at him as he looked around to find who called. Trip stood and took him by the shoulders and sat him back down.

"He's tired." Trip told them. "We've been through a lot today."

"What's going on in Winterhaven?" Craven asked. "Tell us please, our families are still in the city."

"Tayor Larin has seized control of the city." Eheren told them looking from one to the other. "Somehow he's eliminated most of the council and plans to make himself king."

"The Professor?" Zarin said. "Is he OK?"

"No he isn't." Eheren put his hand on Zarin's shoulder. "He's under a very powerful dream weaving spell which has trapped him out of his body. We're trying to get his body here so we can re-integrate him back into it. But we're not sure just how it's going to work."

All around the room everyone listened quietly. None of them knew just what to say or how they could possibly help the Professor but they all wanted to. Once Eheren was finished explaining, he waited to see how they all would react. Questions shot at him from all around. He tried his best to answer, but for some, he had no answers.

"So what do we do?" Zarin asked.

"I'm sending all of you home of course." He told them. "Your families will be worried. But that's in the morning. For now, I want you all to get some rest. You need it. Rose will show you to rooms and make you comfortable."

With that everyone stood as Rose and Thalia came back in. Rose looked at Blaze and he sent to her what they had just been talking about. She nodded and ushered them towards the door.

"What did I miss?" Thalia asked Reno.

"Come on. I'll tell you all about it." He said.

"Zarin." Eheren stopped him at the door. "I need to talk to you. Come with me."

Zarin nodded and followed the young man through the halls to a large library. There they sat down to talk.

"Zarin I know you can usually talk with Insa with your mind." Eheren explained. "But since he's been out of body you haven't been able to."

"Yes that's right." Zarin said. "But you can?"

"Yes." Eheren smiled. "It's a long story. Let's just say part of me is much older then I look. I have an old soul."


"Never mind." He waved. "Sit closer."

Zarin moved over next to Eheren and settled in. Eheren reached over and put his hand on his head as Zarin closed his eyes. Lights flashed in his mind and softly he heard a voice calling him. It grew louder until it became clear. it was Professor Insa.

[ Zarin, can you hear me? ]

[ Yes Professor. I can hear you. Are you alright? ]

[ Yes. ] He sent. [ For now I am. But we need your help. ]

[ Of course Professor. How can I help? ]

[ Protect the Academy. ] Insa told him. [ And all of our students. That's what I want you and the others to do. ]

[ I'll watch over everyone in the Academy sir. ]

[ I mean all of them Zarin. ] His voice began to fade. [ In and out of the Academy.... ]

He was gone. Zarin looked up at Eheren, he didn't understand what his teacher meant by what he had said. Eheren shrugged.

"That's for you to figure out." He said. "Now, off to bed, it's been a long day for all of you."

As Eheren watched the kids leave, Blaze and Ariel walked over to join him. Eheren had a strange look in his eyes like he was somewhere else.

"I know that look." Blaze said. "Rage has it often. You have something on your mind?"

"Yeah, I do." Eheren put his arms around both Blaze and Ariel as they left the hall. "Cutter's got a little problem I think he may need help with. And I know just who can help."

The moon rode high through the night skies as the Manor slept. Zarin, Reno and Dack slept in one room and Trip, Rese and Craven in another. Thalia had been given her own separate room and Zark who would never be far away from Craven, slept sitting ridgely up in the corner watching over them. All was quiet and peaceful in the room until a sound, a voice slowly began to creep into Rese's dreams.

[ Rese. ]

He stirred and turned in his sleep dreaming of old days with his family back home. Then again the voice sounded.

[ Rese. ]

He moaned out loud a bit still dreaming.

[ RESE! ]

His eyes opened as he came into consciousness with a start and a small shout. He sat up as Trip woke and rubbed his eyes.

"Rese." He said. "What's wrong?"

"I don't know." Rese put his hand to his forehead. "I'm still hearing that voice calling."

"It's just a dream. Go back to sleep." Trip pulled the covers over himself and laid back down."

"I guess." Rese put his back on his pillow.

[ Rese, come to me. You're the one! ]

Hearing it again this time wide awake, he jumped up and rushed over to Trip's bed and shook him.

"I'm not dreaming." He said. "I heard it again. Someone's calling me."

"Oh Rese you just dreaming!" Trip pulled the covers over his head. "Go back to bed."

"Trip you have to get up. I need you to come with me please!" Rese pleaded with him. Trip tossed back the covers and sat up.

"Go where?" He said annoyed.

"I've a picture in my mind of where to go." Rese told him. "It's not far."

"It better not be back into the forest." Trip climbed out of bed. "And do you know what's waiting for us there?"

"I'm not sure but it says it's ready for me?"

"What's ready for you?" Trip asked. Trip glanced over to see Zark looking at them. He unfolded his arms and rose.

"I'll come with you." He said.

"No. you stay." Trip and Rese pulled on something warmer. "We're not leaving the city. We'll be safe. Get some rest."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, this could be just a dream he's having." They walked to the door and opened it. "We'll be back shortly."

"We go this way." Rese led Trip down through the hall to the steps and down from the fourth floor to the first. On their way through the manor they saw a few people but kept themselves hidden. It didn't take them long until Rese had led them to a door into the back garden. From there Rese went left through the hedges until they came to a cave.

"What's in here?" Trip asked stopping Rese before he went in. Heat bellowed out at them from inside. Trip didn't like this place.

"I don't know." He said. "But it's coming from here."

"How do you know?"

"It's calling me here I told you." Rese pulled away from him and ran inside.

"Damn it!" Trip took off after him. "Rese wait!!"

Worried about his new friend, Trip ran in after him. The cave was brightly lit with torches spread every ten feet. Trip wondered just what it was that dragons needed with a cave. He suspected it might be just that it was something so familiar from their past, they always made sure one was near their home. He had no idea what the real reason could be. Further ahead he could hear Rese's running steps, then suddenly they just stopped. As he ran Trip noticed shining light reflecting from the walls. He stopped for a second to look at them and realized what they were. They were gems studding the walls. Such riches, he thought. As he moved on, he began to see streaks of gold, silver and platinum. he also saw bronze, copper and other minerals. These dragons had unlimited wealth right under their city.

As he ran, Trip realized he couldn't hear Rese's movements or breathing anymore. He must have found something. Trip picked up speed and ran faster. As the path turned he came out into a large chamber. Trip stopped as he stared, open mouthed, at the heaps and mounds of gold, silver and gems that filled the room. Slowly he walked in, amazed at what he saw. All around him in the hot chamber he saw gems of all types that were the size of a mans head.

"Oh my god!" He whispered. Rese looked back and saw him. His blond hair shining from the torchlight. Trip walked in to meet him.

"What is this place?" Trip asked.

"Some kind of treasure chamber I expect." Rese said.

[ No, it is my birth place. ] Rese heard in his head.

"Who are you?" Rese asked. Trip looked at him with uncertainty. Who was he talking to? There was no one there.

[ I am your future. ] He heard. [ I am the second part of you that will make you complete. ]

"I don't understand." Rese called to the voice only he could here. "What do you want with me?"

[ We are meant for each other. ] The voice said. [ I have waited a long time for you to come. ]

"I still don't know who and what you are." Rese said. "How can you have been waiting for me?"

[ Destiny, that's how. We are destined for each other. ]

"I don't like this." Trip said pulling at Rese. "Let's get out of here."

"Shh!" Rese jerked his arm free. "I think he's right. I just feel like this is what I've been waiting for. Don't ask me why. It just feels right."

"OK." Trip said. "But I don't know."

"Where are you?" Rese asked.

[ I am here in front of you. ] He heard. [ I'm in the pile of eggs before you. Find me and pick me up. ]

Rese looked down and saw in front of him a great pile of gems. They were of all colors and sizes. As a gypsy, Rese had been trained to identify gems and know what they were worth. He saw star sapphires, bloodstones and moonstones. He saw many gems he could identify and some he couldn't. But it seemed like only one was calling to him. It was a beautiful black and red gem. One of the most amazing things he had ever seen which he knew suddenly was called a pyrope garnet. It sparkled in the torch lights that lit up the chamber. Rese reached down and put his hand on it and his heart was filled with such a joyous welcome feeling.

[ You have found me! ] He heard in his mind. [ Do you accept me Rese? ]

"Yes." He said. "Whatever you are, I accept you."

[ I am your dragon. ] He heard as the gem began to crack and fall to the ground. A small head of black with red flaming colors on it poked out.

"Rese!!" Trip yelled and leaped for him.

[ Don't fear for your friend. ] Trip heard as the dragonet leaped into Rese's chest. [ I will always protect him. ]

As the two merged Rese began to feel the power of the young dragon fill him. He fell to the ground amongst the gold and gems and the change began. On his hands and knees Rese threw back his head and screamed. Wings began to form from his back and his skin took on the reddish color of the dragonet. Claws with talons and a second set of arms formed as his entire body began to grow and become covered with scales. Trip stepped back and watched as his friend grew a tail and a dark dragons head. Soon he stood on his hind legs and roared as the change finished and he grew his horns out from his forehead.

[ Tempis is born!! ] Trip heard in his head. [ We are one now. We are Tempis the time dragon! ]

Suddenly behind them there was a flash of light. Trip quickly turned around to see a handsome man standing there dressed in brown smiling at them. With him there were two dragons. One seemed to look familiar to Trip. He looked closer at the dragon and realized he did know the gray colored dragon. It was his guardian Insa. They had moved him here to New Keanna. The other dragon was completely black except for a silver patch over his eyes. Tempis bowed to the man as he walked towards them. Trip raised his hands ready to send a spell at the man to protect them. He didn't know who they were or why they were here, and he didn't like that they had his guardians body.

[ No Trip. ] Tempis sent to him. [ He's not an enemy. He's my Lord Jandar, mate to King Rage. ]

"Welcome Tempis." Jandar smiled. "I'm glad I made it for your hatching."

[ Thank you my Lord. ] Tempis stood back up. [ This is my friend. ]

"I know who he is." Jandar reached out his hand to greet Trip. "Tryphen Troikis. Your one of Insa's wards from Andros and friend to Shayn. I bid you welcome to our city and thank you for what you've done for Rese to protect him. This is Blink. He just transported Insa's body here so we can try and help him."

The dark dragon nodded to Tempis and the boy with him. [ Welcome to our clan brother. ]

"Your welcome." Trip stammered. "Rese is my friend, I will always protect him. But can you help Insa?"

"I know you will, and we're sure going to try to help him." Jandar said. "Now watch this. Tempis, shift back to Rese."

[ Yes sir. ] Tempis roared and in a flash he was Rese again standing next to Trip smiling dressed in red, black and silver leather. Together they walked over to Insa as Blink shifted.

"Will he be OK?" Rese asked.

"I don't know." Jandar said as he knelt down next the smoke dragon. "If Gabriel the white healer dragon was here, I'd worry a lot less. But he's not. I'm hoping the dragonspirit there on the wall will help him."

"What of Winterhaven?" Trip asked.

"I have some thoughts on what to do." Jandar said. "But we can talk about that tomorrow. You've had an exciting night, let's get back to the Manor and get some rest. We all need it."

"Come on." Lord Jandar waved them all towards the cave exit. "It's time to rest. Tomorrows another day."

Cloaked in illusion, Cutter, Azeal and Tanis carefully made their way through the council building trying to avoid notice from any of the invaders. Once on the main floor they watched as the council guards lost their struggle to defend the building. All opposition to Tayor's forces were disarmed and placed in cells in the dungeon area under guard. It was very hard for Azeal and Tanis to stay their hands from the battle. But there was no way the three of them could possibly win against Tayor's men.

"We have to find somewhere safe for us to rally our forces." Azeal told them as the exited the building and made their way through the streets.

"One of us should check the guard barracks and see if we can find any of the guards that haven't been caught." Tanis said. "We'll need experienced men to help us."

"That will be my job." Cutter nodded to them. "While the both of you should go to the Academy. I'll meet you both there shortly. You both should shift and fly, that's the safest way to get there."

"We will." Tanis told the fear dragon. "You be careful to."

Cutter turned and walked off down the lane. As he walked his image began to blur and he disappeared. Azeal looked at Tanis with a quizzical look.

"Think he could teach us that?"Azeal asked.

"Don't I wish." Tanis answered. "Let's get out of here before we get spotted."

Concentrating on the change both boys shifted to their avian forms and took off into the skies towards the Academy.

Chaos ruled the streets of Winterhaven. City guards fought Tayor's invaders in small pockets on all the streets armed and unarmed. Cutter watched as a group of invaders attacked a small band fighting with whatever they could find on the streets. As the three men were back against a wall, Cutter ran in and shifted. Roaring he grabbed one invader and through him high into the air then slammed his tail down on him. Surprised at the attack from behind, the invaders turnedi o Cutter to fight back. With a quick swing Cutter knocked another two away with a crushing blow. That left four invaders left. Urged on by their sudden rescue the guards grabbed fallen weapons and waded in to the fray dispatching the four men in quick order. Standing over the bodies of their dead enemies the three guards stepped up to the dragon.

"Thank you for your help." One guard said. "We would be dead if you hadn't arrived."

[ We dragons will always defend Winterhaven. ] Cutter sent. [ But we have to find a place to regroup Winterhaven's forces. Head for the Academy, there we can decide what to do next. ]

"What of the rest of our fellows?" The guard asked. "Are we to abandon them?"

[ I'll gather as many as I can and send them after you. ] Cutter shifted back to elven form. "I want you to also. Everyone you meet of the city guards. It makes no sense to do all the fighting in the streets. We have to get organized. I'm heading for the guard barracks. I think there in it deep."

"Let us go with you." A young guard begged him. "We can help."

"You can help best by getting to safety." Cutter put his hand on the man's shoulder. "Do this for Winterhaven. And stay out of sight."

With that Cutter turned, cloaked himself in illusion and was gone.

"We better do as he says," the elder guard said. All the men nodded and slipped off into the night towards the academy and safety.

The quiet of night had descend on the barrack as Lowell Testa walking into his office, sat down and opened the log book and started today's entry. He and his wife had worried about their son all day. He and his friends were all missing, gone from the city on some rescue. He had gone earlier to see Professor Insa and been told not to worry, but he couldn't help it. Zarin was his son and it was his job to worry, and his job to go find him. But Insa had told him to stay put, the city needed him more. He wondered what the Professor meant, all was quiet here and nothing was happening.

Lowell looked at the time candle on the mantle and noticed it was almost 9:00 in the evening, almost time for him to do his check on the guard post. He closed the log and put down his quill then notice how quiet it was. Strange night he thought getting up from his desk. He looked to his sword belt and picked it up. Lowell looked at it in his hand, then something told him to put it on. He strapped it to his side then walked to the door and left the office.

At the gate to the barracks entrance two men stood guard at their post, bored as usual. This was a gloomy night as they stood there in silence. Slowly fog began to sweep in and cover their feet. One man looked down to watch as it moved in and began to chill him.

"Look at this." He called to his companion. "Kinda warm for fog don't you think?"

"Not for Winterhaven." The other said. "Next it'll be raining on us."

Slowly the fog creeped higher and higher and it became colder. Soon they could barely see each other through its thickness. Then a noise was heard, like the rattling of armor. The first guard looked out into the night trying to see if there was anything there.

"What was that?" He asked.

"It was nothing." The other said. "Just the wind blowing on the sign over the tavern. Relax, no one's out in all this."

But it didn't sound like the tavern sign the first man thought. He'd heard it a million times in the past and it never made that sound before. He stepped out a few steps and looked around. Nothing. But as he searched, the hair on the back of his neck began to raise. Something was wrong here. Just then something moved in front of him and he felt a sharp pain in his neck. He reached up and touched his throat then looked at his bloody hand. He tried to speak, but the slice in his throat stopped him. Choking on his own blood he fell forward and died as men slipped out of the night and killed his companion.

Out of the mist Youron stepped, kicking the guard out of his way. He signaled three men to go left and three right, the rest he took in with him. Inside he knew there wouldn't be any magic users so he drew his sword and made his way to the doors. Quietly he cracked open the door to look in. Inside he saw two men talking in the hall. They would have to be disposed of quietly if he wanted to keep his advantage of surprise. But he had come prepared for this. He reached into a bag at his side and pulled out two small creatures. Two spiders. He held them up and whispered something to them then put them down and sent them in. Scuttering in they made their way to their intended victims. Slowly each spider began to climb the leg of the man they targeted. Once on the neck they bit them and the men collapsed to the floor. Spinning a web all around them they covered the men and Youron walked into the hall.

"Hide them." He said. Quickly the two men were dragged away and hidden in a closet off to the side of the entry hall. Once that task was done, Youron gathered his men together to give his instructions.

"This will be my lord's night." He said. "There won't be many wandering around here. Most will be in the dining hall having dinner. I want the doors to the dining hall barred and these two potions tossed in. The potions will put everyone to sleep, then we can go through dispatching anyone that had the misfortune of not being in the hall. Do you all understand?"

All around him heads nodded in agreement.

"Good." Youron handed out the two sleeping potions he took from his pouch. "Make this quick and easy. My lord wants it over fast with as little opposition as possible."

As he finished his men all turned to leave and get to their assigned jobs when he stopped them.

"One more thing." He called out. "I want the commander of the barracks brought to me unharmed. He's very valuable to us, do not fuck this up."

Lowell's office was located in the rear of the barracks, his inspection started with the armory and the men there, then he would move on to the stables and the training areas. Once that was done he would check each gate then move in to the infirmary to check on any reports of sickness and injuries. The last place on his tour would be the dining hall. There he would have a lite snack before his journey home to Lisette to see if she had any news of Zarin and the others. As Lowell stepped outside in the fog he had the strange feeling something was wrong. He scanned the area outside and cautiously made his way to the stables. Everything there seemed in order except for one thing. The guard that was supposed to be here was nowhere to be found. Could be he stepped in to catch a quick dinner, but that wouldn't make sense. He knew Lowell would be coming and he would be put on report for abandoning his post. This is not right Lowell thought. He picked up his pace and hurried on to the training grounds. As he stepped into the dark he knew things were not right. All the torches had been doused and it was in total darkness. The training area was always supposed to be lit. Training sessions here went on at all hours, day and night. Lowell pulled his sword and ran for the closest gate, there he would know for sure what was going on.

Keeping low Lowell moved in on the side gate. As he listened he heard voices talking. Lowell knew exactly who was posted where around his barracks, and these were not familiar voices to him. Slowly in the cover of fog he moved closer to see what he could learn.

"Damn I hate being out here while they're in there moving on the guards." He heard. "I want in on the action. This is not what I signed up for. Guarding a gate? That's rookie work."

"We'll get paid just the same by Lord Larin as the others." Someone answered. "So keep your mouth shut and your eyes open and watch."

Lord Larin, Lowell thought to himself. So that's who's behind this. He must be moving on the whole city and the council. That means Insa is in trouble as is the entire council. But Insa is the only one that can get Zarin back. Lowell knew he had to get back inside to round up his men and head to the council building.

"I wonder if they're done with the council building yet?" The first man asked.

"You know you have a big mouth." The second one said. "If anyone were here to hear you, they would have just about everything now."

"Like who?" He heard. "Everyone's in there getting ragged by the rest. Who's gonna hear?"

"I might." Lowell said as he stepped out and drove his fist into the big mouthed man dropping him with one punch. Staring open mouthed at Lowell the other man tried to pull his sword to fight, but was to late. Lowell grabbed him and sent his dagger into his chest and silenced him. Looking around he found the two men that were stationed here dead. He turned back to the first man and put an end to his days. He had to get back inside to see if he could help the others.

"You can't." He heard out of the fog. Quickly he turned ready to do battle with whoever he had just heard.

"Relax Commander." The man said. "I'm not your enemy. I'm here to help. I'm Cutter, of New Keanna."

"A dragon?" Lowell asked. How could they have heard already.

"We know many things." Cutter smiled. "Like I know your son is safe in our city right now."

"Zarin's safe?" Lowell asked in shock.

"Yes, but you and the rest of Winterhaven aren't." Cutter told him. "I'm sorry but your men inside have already been taken prisoner. There's nothing we two can do to free them. But there are others we have to help. Will you help me?""

Lowell looked back at the barracks. He hated walking away without fighting for them, but the dragon was right. There wasn't anything he could do here.

"Will they be alright?" He asked.

"They'll be imprisoned and used as hostages." Cutter told him. "But we have to go. The Academy will be their next target. We have to get the children out of there."

"My wife first." Lowell said. "Then anywhere you want."

"Where is she?" The fear dragon asked.

"I left her with the parents of the other kids with Zarin." Lowell said. "Lady Rainer is quite upset over her son, so are the Tasco's"

"Let's go get them." With one last look back, Lowell and Cutter ran off into the fog. Theirs would be a busy night.

After finding young Tabor Larin and sending him home to wait for his father's arrival, elder steward returned to Larin Manor and went to the old ruined chapel that was located deep in the unkempt woods in the back of the estate. The fog had rolled and and made the forest dark and scary. Seth, the steward, pulled his cloak tighter around him. He didn't like this errand at all, but he had no choice but to do as his master asked. He knew what the consequences would be for him and his family if he disobeyed.

The forest was dark with only moonlight making the fog glow in the night. Seth walked slowly listening for every sound. Watching for any movement around him. He saw the decrepit chapel there looking like it was haunted. Sweat ran cold off Seth as he moved closer. It was a small oval structure made of wood once used by the Larin's for family occasions. But it hadn't been used for more than one hundred years, since an ancestor's fiancée was killed there by her lover for rejecting him. Sarella, the bloody baroness of Kyan of the east. Her body had been left to lay there as punishment by her lord and never properly buried. Her bones were still under the broken floor boards they say. The thought gave Seth the shiver as he stepped up and into the chapel. The wind howled an eerie sound like the woman moaning Seth thought. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a candle and a match, then found a shielded place and lit the candle. from his pocket he took the parchment and opened it up and read.


With that, the winds picked up and began to scream. Seth covered his ears and fell back as the candle was blown away. Lightning began to flash all around and strike the ground. Suddenly a shadow appeared in the air from the center of the room. It was a woman with long flowing white hair in a black gown with glowing eyes. As she solidified she began to scream a piercing scream while she floated close. Seth trembled on the ground crawling back against the wall trying to hide from the Banshee before him. She looked at him and her face grew beautiful as she smiled.

"Where is your Master?"

"He wants you to come find him." Seth cried. She reached down and caressed his chin.

"Kiss me love!" Suddenly her face turned into a horror and she began to scream. Seth screamed as his blood began to boil in his veins. He clutched his head trying to stop her scream from invading his mind and tearing it apart. The banshees scream was powerful. Blood ran from his eyes and ears as he tried to get away from her. But there was no escape. His body began to shake as he tried to crawl away. Seth rolled over on his back as his head exploded and his soul left his body and was taken in by the banshee. Lightning flashed as she tossed back her head and laughed.

"Sarella comes." She called. "To do you bidding. For now,"

More to Come

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