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Rated: E · Book · Action/Adventure · #2217001
The Story continues.
#1015962 added August 21, 2021 at 10:56pm
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Final Preparations
         Tapping his feet at the edge of the pier, The instructor peers down, concerned for Drake and his student’s well-being as the giant eagle perched nearby. His purple feathered harpy assistant offers the large bird a cashew nut the size of a mans arm while she gently rubbed its smooth yellow beak. The eagle graciously grabbed the nut with its and consumed it as it shook its head.

         “Why did you throw the off in the first place when you knew that neither of them could fly properly?” The feather calmy asks as she offered another cashew to the eagle.

         “…Intuition,” The instructor said tapping his feet a little faster trying to keep himself calm.

         “You know,” The harpy sighs shaking her head. “You’ve gotten us into a lot of trouble whenever you say that. It might be a good idea to try and rescue them. I’m sure if you leave now the eagle will probably catch up to them…if Cody somehow managed to fly.”

         “Ugh fine,” the fed-up instructor says as he turns around and walk towards the eagle. “Start prepping the chicks to fly. We’ll continue training when I get…”

         “WHOOOHOOO” A distant shout from behind stopped the instructor.

         The black feathered tengu ran back on to the pier and once he looked down, Cody burst from beneath in a violent gust of wind that lifts the instructor off his feet. Falling on his back the instructor watches as Cody do spirals in the air while carrying Drake by the waist. Drake nervously clenches Cody’s arm while Cody laughs and cheers his new found courage.

         “Ok man, you can put me down now.” Drake shouts as his feet dangled about.

         Cody soar towards the ground and releases Drake’s waist. Drake slides to a halt in the grass while Cody lands behind him and folds his wings behind his back.

         The instructor rises and pats the grass of his black and gold armor.

         “Well, well it looks like you’ve made…”

         Drake socks the instructor square in the face and the black feathered tengu stumbles back and collapses on his backside.

         Huffing in rage, Drake straightens from his punching stance and glares at the instructor.

         “Next time, tell me when you’re going to throw me off a cliff.”

         The instructor smirks as he wipes his bruised cheek with the back of his fist, raised his feet and jerked himself to the standing position.

         “Not bad,” The black feathered tengu says swiping the grass from his shoulders. “I figured you’d had what it took to get Cody over his fears.”

         “And what made you so sure?” Drake says, still seething.

         “Instinct…” The instructor says walking past Drake. “Now that we’ve gotten this far, its time to fly the eagles.”

         Looking into the sky, the instructor covers his mouth with his hands and whistles loudly into the air. His whistle echoes through the sky and soon faded away as four giant Eagles soar from the top of the forest and down towards the instructor. Opening their wings, they glide together, circling each other as they opened their yellow talons and landed around the instructor.

         “My beauties,” The instructor says gazing at their white feathered manes and yellow beaks. One leaned in towards the instructor and he gently runs his hands through its feathers feeling their smooth strands and the occasional stem between his fingers. Majestic and powerful were the eagles able to fly high and far. Yet, year after year despite losing their lives in fighting with the avians, they continue to serve them as tools of war. As such, the relationship between the two species has always been one of trust and stability a quality that served the Avians well.

         Drake gazes up in awe at the brown feathered birds as one opened its wing so wide that its wing span shaded the entire training camp.

         “Have you rested well, Diana?” The tengu says hugging the birds neck. “I wish that we would be able to fly free together, but fate has different plans. We’ll be going to battle again soon and I hope to bring us back, but if I can’t…take me with you into the skies of Endina.”
The eagle, somehow responding to his request opens its wings and gives several reverberating squeaks that echo through the air.

         “Thank you, my friend,” The tengu smiles.

         “If all of you can fly, why do you need eagles?” Drake asks walking beside the instructor.

         “We can fly,” the instructor sighs clasping his hands behind his back. “But at slow speeds and for a short period, especially when you take combat into consideration. Its similar to swimming for humans. Once we tire out, or our wings get damaged, we fall. The eagles though can fly as long as they want and can still fly even if their wing is injured. Thus we rely upon them for long distance flying and fighting.”

         The instructor spins around and looks at Drake. “I’ll have you fly with Cody as there’s no time to fully train you. Be careful when you’re using your verses. They may have unknown side-effects on the eagle and you don’t want anything to happen while you’re flying in battle.”

         Drake quietly nods his head as he stares at the double seated saddles on the eagles back. Drake sucks in a puff of air and releases it as he apprehensively stares at the eagles.

         I wonder how the fights are like? Drake thought to himself.

         “You can rest now if you like.” The tengu says. “But make sure you’re ready. Air battles are very unpredictable and you can find yourself dead if you’re not careful. If I were you, I’d practice new verse combos.”

         The instructor looks at his squat and addresses them.

         “Alright chicks saddle up,” He boisterously says. “Its time to fly some eagles!”

         The entire troupe excitedly ran up to the eagles gazing at their enormous size. They waste little time before they were on their assigned eagles and flying them through the air practicing their drills. The instructor maintained his stern authority shouting at the troupe to maintain discipline and order.

         Sitting cross-legged in the grass, Drake stares at the eagles as they perform loops, diving maneuvers and all manner of movement that made Drake’s stomach turn just from looking at them.

         I gotta fly with them while doing that? Drake thinks to himself. I don’t think my stomach can handle it.

         “Here,” A feminine voice says.

         Drake looked to his side and sees the purple feathered harpy assistant holding a trey of food in her wings. Drake reaches and takes the trey and sits it on his lap where a modest meal of roasted turkey leg with some fruits with a cup of vine juice on the side.

         “Thanks,” Drake says. Looking at the feathred harpie.

         “The king says you can help us win this war.” The woman asks staring seriously at Drake with her amethyst eyes. “Is it true?”

         Drake looks up at the harpy and thought for a moment as he wasn’t sure what to say.

         “…We’ll just have to see.” Drake says, not wanting to get anyone’s hopes up. There was a lot he didn’t know and he wasn’t going to waste his breath lying to someone about what he could and couldn’t do.

         The harpy didn’t answer nor did her expression change. She just turns around and walks away without saying a word. Drake lowers his head in disappointment, wishing he had a better answer to give, but he shakes his thoughts away and starts eating his meal. Afterwards, he wipes the excess grease from his mouth with a fresh towel provided, place the trey on the grass nearby and lies on his back. Staring at the partially clouded sky, Drake’s mind race with many thoughts as a smooth course wind cools his face.

         I wonder what happened to Kevin and Maria. They were the ones that helped me back at belle city and the fluorescent thorn. I know Kevin doesn’t want to see me again after finding out what my grandmother did. Despite what happened between us, I understand how he feels. Drake scratches his neck from the grass tickling it and sighs. If only there was a way to fix everything.

         “Drake,” Fane speaks into his mind. “Now is a perfect time to educate you on how to use your newly acquired verses. Stand and summon me.”

         Drake did as he was told and wrote ‘FANE’ in the air with burning letters. The burning verse exploded into embers that gathered in Drake’s hand and formed his Ruby crystalline sword. Clasping the hilt, Drake swings the blade several times to test its weight.

         “Write ‘TRIPLE’ on your blade.” Fane says, “Make sure to hold it erect when you do.”

         Holding the blade with both hands, Drake stares at the blade’s brilliant red face as he could see flames burn within. He scribbles ‘TRIPLE’ onto the face of the blade and holds it with blade pointing to the sky. The white glowing letters sinks into the blade and suddenly and instantly his muscles tighten from the extreme weight. Arms trembling from stress, Drake bends his knees as he struggles to bear the weight of the sword before it slips from his hands and crashes flat onto the ground. Drake stares at the sword for a few moments squeezing his hands into fists to rid himself of the throbbing.

         “What just happened?” Drake asks staring at the sword firmly lying on the ground.

         “You just tripled the blades density, therefore it was heavier than normal.”

         “A lot heavier,” Drake says squatting to get a closer look at the sword.

         “It doesn’t look any different from before,”

         “Its more dense…meaning there’s more inside the blade than before.”

         “But how does this help me…I can barely hold the thing up.”

         “And here is what the instructor meant by verse combos. Some verses can alter or change to such a degree that’ll make it unsafe or unusable by the user. Therefore, other verses are needed to properly use them. In this case, the tripled blade is too heavy for you to use. Now do what you did to Cody to yourself.”

         “You mean Double and Heatswell?”

         “Correct.”

         “But I already used it. I can’t use it again till sunrise.”

         “Remember your battle against Ryzor. Whenever you used your soul verse you were able to reuse your verses.”

         “Alright.” Drake exhales as he raised his arms and stretched. He shook his hands and wrote. WOTBW in fiery red letters. Heat waves burst from Drake’s feet as red-hot strands burst from his back and wrap around his torso, his arms, legs and face. The strands solidify into a long sleeveless cloak with seven tails at its end. His left hand burst into flames that shaped into a furry wolf-headed gauntlet.

         Raising his left hand, Drake observed the orange-red trailing fur waving in its own heat. Lowering his hand, he writes ‘HEATSWELL’ and ‘DOUBLE’ side by side. An intense burn courses through Drake’s veins as his muscles tighten and bulge. His eyes erupt in flames and smoke ebbed from his shoulders.

         “Now pick up your sword.”

         Drake reaches down and clasps the black hilt. Veins pulsing in his hand, Drake’s arm trembled alittle as he lifts it from the ground. Still heavy, Drake clasps the blade with both hands and raises it at ready.

         “It…still… feels heavy.” Drake says as his smoky arms tremble under the weight.

         “You’ll get used to it once you’ve strengthened yourself. Now swing your sword towards the sky. Make sure its not towards the eagles flying in the air.”

         “Ok…” Drake says.

         Bending his knees, Drake cocks the blade over his shoulder, clasps the sword tight. Swinging his edge, a loud swoosh burst from the momentum and parted the clouds above. Drake staggers back as the heavy blade almost pulled him from the swing and brings it back around and hoists it over his shoulder.

         “Whoah,” Drake stares at the parted clouds in awe.

         “That is the potential that verse combos have. Understand your verses and know them well. It will serve invaluable in any situation.”

         “So what else can I use double and triple for?” Drake elatedly asks as his seven tailed cloak dissipated into embers.

         “It depends on what you chose to apply it to. If applied on certain objects it’ll probably increase its properties, on others it can increase their number. Same with verses as well. Experiment whenever you have time so you can be prepared.”

         As Drake finished speaking Fane, A haprie hurriedly rushes past Drake carrying a letter underneath her wing.

         “Lieutenant!” She shouts. “Message from the King!”

         The instructor pulls on the reins on the eagle and it flew towards the woman waving the letter over her head. The Eagle gently lands in the grass and closes its wings while the black feathered tengu hopped off and landed nearby. Rushing up to the lieutenant the harpie formerly bows and offers the letter to him. The instructor takes the scroll and unrolls it. Eyes gazing at the sheet, the instructor’s face turn pale with disappointment before he rolls it back up and hands it back to the harpy.

         “We’ll be ready by sundown. Go and tell the others.”

         The woman nods her head several times in reverence and quickly departs.

         As soon as the harpy was out of sight, the instructor lowers his head in sorrow. Drake walks up to him and quietly watches as the instructor take a deep cleansing breath and turns around.

         “IRON CROWS!!” His voice boomed through the skies.

         Five eagles quickly descend towards the area and they land in the field. All of the trainees leaped off their saddles and, while scrambling between each other, stand in formation.

         “That’s all for training today,”

         The troupe confusingly look at each other for the sudden announcement.

         “The King gave his command. We are to attack and destroy the western wall the dragons are currently building.”

         A howling wind passes through the field as a pale silence falls on the students.

         “The Dragons expect the attack and there will be heavy opposition…to the excess of one thousand wyverns.”

         Drake stands silent as he swallows a lump down his throat.

         “I wish we had more time to train, but I’m confident that we are ready to face them. We attack at dawn. Until then, spend time with your love ones. Cherish them, have fun with them, eat, drink celebrate for tomorrow we very well may die. Damien… Camelia step forward.”

         The two confusingly looked at each other and walked forward.

         “The princess heard of your engagement and wishes to marry the both of you personally. The wedding is tonight so prep your vows.”

         Camelia’s face lit up with happiness as she rushes towards her lover and wraps her arms around his neck and kissed him.

         “Did you hear that sweetie?” she says, “We can get married now.”

         Damien smiles as he lifts her in his arms and spin in a circle, laughing and kissing.

         “Hazel,” The instructor shouts. “Step forward.”

         The red feathered harpy stepped forward and saluted while the couple enjoyed each other’s embrace. The instructor walked up to her with his hands clasped behind his back.

         “I’m promoting you to squad-leader.” The tengu says. “Should I and my tailfeather fall in battle, it will be your responsibility to lead your team to victory and fly everyone home. Dead or alive.”

         Hazel’s eyes water as a sense of accomplished pride fills her chest knowing that the instructor has that much faith in her. After a firm nod, she stomps her talon into the grass and slaps her chest with her wing.

         “Yes sir,” She firmly salutes.

         “I will brief all of you before the night is over. So report back to your training area at midnight…DISMISSED.”

###


         Silence fills the room as Debra sits on her chair grooming herself in the mirror. Using a white rose brush, she strokes her long smooth auburn hair as she stares at herself in the mirror. Placing her brush on the polished dresser, she dips her fingers into a vase filled with oil, rub the substance into her hands and smooths her hair back twisting the red strands it into a long braid. She rests the braid over her shoulder where it dangled over her white night gown and she takes in a deep breath and releases it.

         “This is soo boring.” She sighs as she dips her finger in the oil and gently rubs it onto her pinkish lips. “Wish I was back on Salatia. Had my own army and I was able to move freely. Now I’m sitting here day after day grooming myself for a husband that my father will chose for me. And if he’s anything like Tinsley, then I’ll probably die from pure boredom. Ugh!” she slams her hand on the table. “Why can’t I chose?”

         “Choices are for the powerless,” A deep voice said behind her. “A peasant has the leisure of going where ever he wishes. But for royalty, there is only one place we must dwell, live and die…the throne.”

         Debra turns in her chair and see’s her father leaning beside a bed large enough to hold a sleeping Dragon. Arms folded across his chest he dawns his usual red and black armor with spiky shoulder plates and gauntlets. His red hair covers part of the white mask that hid his marred face while he taps his index finger on his arm.

         “Father,” Debra says somewhat shocked at his presence. “What are you doing here? Aren’t you supposed to prepare for the war?”

         “I’d figure I’d stop by and check on my only daughter.”

         She turns her back and face the mirror in defiance.

         “Well you didn’t have to bother, you and mother locked me here for days and all I have to do is groom myself. I’m already tired of smelling the oil.”

         “Brazen as always,” Radius chuckled. “If it weren’t for your mother constantly seeking grooms for you, you’d probably scare most of the men away anyway.”

         “So… If he’s to become king of the dragons, then he should be able to withstand a bite or two from me.”

         Radius laughs as he stands from the large bed and walks towards her and gently places his hands her shoulders.

         “That’s my little princess.” He says staring at her through the mirror. “You are your father’s daughter.”

         “Well, I wish mother would understand. She’s been nonstop with drilling me on wifely duties and proper grooming. I thought being royalty was about power, leadership and loyalty why do I have too just...” She sighs in frustration as she disapprovingly shakes her head. “I don’t think its fair.”

         “My child. Your mother is just worried. Years in constant combat has made you even more brazen and it led to one of your suitors dying.”

         “Please father not this again?”

         “Remember our plight, Debra. If we can’t find a suitor for you, then our throne will be destroyed and our race, doomed. As I’ve spoken before, the throne carries a weight so great, that a year alone, would break the strongest of us. But, I will speak with your mother about her guidelines about your mate...uhh…what kind of mate are you looking for?”

         Debra eyes shift upward thinking of an answer as she tapped her finger on the table.

         “I want someone who is confident.”

         “Tinsley was confident.” Radius says with an raised eyebrow.

         “No…he was just cocky,” she says dismissively waving the idea away, “Too cocky. He wanted the throne and didn’t care whether I liked him or not. I want someone who I can look up to. Someone who’s confident and doesn’t have to brag about it. Someone who doesn’t see our throne as an opportunity, but something he can make better. And someone who knows how to deal with me, so I can feel safe.”

         “Have you felt safe around anyone before?”

         She lowers her head as her face turned beat read. Her heart races as she recalled one person.

         “N…No, I haven’t.” she says.

         “You’re face betrays you my daughter. But I will…see what I can do. Until then, obey your mother and carry out your duties as she directs. The more you can appease her, the more likely I can convince her to find the mate you’re looking for….Understand? Radius says glaring daggers at her while waiting for a response.
Debra sighs giving up on resisting her mother’s chores before nodding her head.

         “Well that settles it.” The King says as he walks away towards the large wooden double doors. “Make sure to gather the meals necessary for your baby brother,” he says as she pushes on the squeaking doors. “He’ll be hatching pretty soon.”

###


         The rushing waterfall behind the King and Queen’s throne mixing with the crackling water that’s irrigated through the sides of the throne room, serves as a relaxing backdrop to Queen Relaxing to the intrinsic noise, she hums a song to her young while she slept somewhat peacefully while she rubs her baby-sized egg. The deep-blue and black swirled throne room had two very large columns reaching high towards the ceiling of the mountainous throne room. The thrones themselves seemed very small compared to the size of the throne room. The corners of the throne room were gutted out perfectly allowing water to run from the waterfall to the sides of the throne room and out besides the large double doors.

         Slipping into a deeper sleep, Herria ceased her humming and her caressing as her head droops to the side and the tiara on her red head slips off and clank onto the floor unnoticed.

         “It must be nice to give birth in times such as these, your Highness,” a female voice echoes in the chamber.

         “Hmm?” Herria says rousing from her sleep. Raising her head, she opens her eyes and wipe the drowsy tears away as she yawns and stretches with her one arm.

         “Who’s there?” She asks looking around for the woman. She looks down and sees Mahogany in her half-dragon form. Her white scales went well with her brown skin as her draconic wings folded at her back kneels and tail sweeping across the marble floor.

         “Mahogany? How did you get in here?”

         The white scaled woman knelt and bowed as her raven curly hair bounced about.

         “I’ve requested an audience the day before yesterday and the guards allowed me in.”

         “Yes that’s right,” Herria sighs rubbing her forehead. “Forgive my weariness… giving birth to the next heir has left me…forgetful.”

         Mahogany keeps her head lowered, but she casts a suspicious glare at the woman before her.

         “What is it do you wish to speak to me about?”

         Mahogany rises to her feet and presses her spectacles to her face.

         “I wish to know how you managed to give birth my queen. A miracle such as this can be the very thing to rescue our race.”

         “While it is a miracle that I’m able to give birth, there’s no guarantee that the boy will survive the disease.” Herria says. “Once we know that the boy will survive, then we’ll share what we’ve discovered.”

         “Forgive me for noticing, but you don’t seem all to frightful about the ordeal. I’d be too afraid to bring him back here if that were the case. Isn’t that what the previous queen set off to do?”

         “That would’ve been the case if her children hadn’t died from the disease.” Herria says.

         “It must’ve been tragic for her, I’m sure.” Mahogany nods. “Is that how she was defeated by the humans?” she asks raising an eyebrow.

         “I could’ve been,” Herria coldly sighs. “Though, the humans were a lot more prepared for us than we were of them.”

         After that, there was a silence as Mahogany stares at the egg resting on the queen’s lap. She didn’t move, nor did she blink, but she almost went into a trance.

         “Is there anything else to discuss, Mahogany?”

         Mahogany snaps out of her trance and shakes her head.

         “Not at all, you highness,” she quickly replies.

         “Are the wyverns ready for battle?”

         “All wyverns are awaiting my orders. When the Avians appear, there will be…,” She sneers as he places a hand on her hip as she opens her white draconic wings. “A surprise waiting for them.”

         “Very well…You may depart.”

         Mahogany bows, turns around and walks away with her heels clapping on the marble floor. Herria face turns serious casting a suspicious glare at Mahogany for inquiring about the previous queen as Mahogany was Reina’s closest advisor. To the extent that she nor Radius couldn’t even reach her. Herria makes a mental note and resumes stroking her egg and humming amidst the rushing waterfall.

###


         An orchestra of crickets fill the forest as rectangular paper lanterns dangle lightly over and around a round wooden platform in front of whistle top palace. Harpies with their colorful feathers stand facing outward in a full circle holding small-lit candles as the vanilla scent fill the air. Glowing fireflies peacefully float about in the canopy giving the site a calming but mystic glow. White flower pedals littered the platform floor as Camelia’s stands at the center holding a bouquet of white flowers. Her white gown beautifully glistened under the lamp light as her wedding veil hid her face.

         Tengus, wearing a dark blue suit lined with golden fabric, slowly march in an arrow formation with their wings folded at their backs. Placing one foot in front of the other, they march quietly, as the sounds of hooting owls and chirping crickets sing for the night. Damion led the formation, being the only tengu wearing a black military suit with pants and a sword at his side. As the arrow formation approach the circle formation, the harpies facing the tengus walked away opening the formation for Damion to step forward and stand before his love.

         The rest of the formation splits and march around the harpies and lined themselves by the palace doors facing each other. In unison, they grab their hilts, yank their swords from their scabberds and points them upward where their swords crossed over a passageway. After a few moments, the doors to the palace creak open and Jasmine walks out in her human form with a bouquet of flowers in her hand. She walks beneath the crossing swords towards the couple standing side by side and both kneel in reverence.

         “Please, rise” She says gracefully bowing.

         The two rise and the fair skinned woman hands the bouquet of flowers to the bride.

         “Camellia,” she says. “I remember when we flew together in the treetops. By the time we reached the boy’s camp, you’d get distracted and slam straight into a tree.”

         The two share a hearty laughed as Camellia silently nods.

         “That’s when you told me about your crush Damion.” She giggles. “I told you to meet him, but you were too shy, so I summoned him and you together and all you could do is stutter.”

         The laughing calms and Jasmine gives the bride a genuine smile.

         “Your loveliness matches your beauty, Camelia. I mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

         “You’re so kind, princess.” Camelia says sobbing underneath her wedding veil and both wrap their arms around each other in a warm embrace.

         “May the winds bring peace, love and prosperity for years to come.”

         She releases Camelia, steps to the groom and grabs both of his hands as she smiles at the blonde young man.

         “Damion, ever since you met Camelia, you’ve been fawning over her like the helpless romantic that you are. Seeing you love her the way you did really helped uplift her spirits after she lost her family to the war. Although it can be overwhelming at times, you’re love for her shines as bright as the sun. Something that I envy of Camelia.”

         She respectfully bowed her head and releases his hands.

         “May your legacy live on through the winds of time. You have my blessing.”

         “Thank you, Princess Jasmine,” The tengu humbly bows from the waist as he sobs and sniffs. “Thank you for this opportunity. It means a lot to me.”

         Grateful tears trickle down his face, and he rises as he wipes the tears away with his black and gold sleeve.

         “I’m humbled by your thoughtful words and presence,”

         Jasmine smiles as she takes a few steps backward and formally addresses the both of them.

         “Damion, Camelia as the Princess of Avian, Daughter of King Ozden and Queen Xolia I officially name the both of you husband and wife. May your children soar in the skies and your love beyond. Damion, you may kiss your bride.”

         The tengu turns towards his beauty and lifts the white veil and his eyes lit up as he sees the reflection of fireflies in her purple eyes. Her cheeks flush red as a beautiful smile warms his heard. He grabs her cheeks lean in and they share a long kiss under the lanterns and colorful glowflies.

         The tengus and harpies erupts in jovial cheers and celebratorily claps. Harpies tossed flower pedals over the embracing couple as they collect on Damions broad shoulders and Camellia’s wedding veil. Harpies and tengu happily dance around the newlyweds while others play flutes and tambourines.

         Drake sits cross-legged watching everyone dancing and laughing with each other as he claps his hands to the music playing. Jasmine walks up besides him and sits on her ankles and watch the jovial event quietly.

         “You guys sure know how to celebrate.” Drake says enjoying the music.

         However Jasmine quietly watches as the smile disappears off her face and she stares off somewhat sorrowful. An awkward silence settles between the two as Drake notices her worry understanding what’s to come. He sucks in a deep breath and releases it while scratching the back of his head.

         “Drake,” Jasmine asks.

         “What’s up?”

         “Whenever you were trapped in the mines, did you ever think that it’ll end?”

         Drake casts a concerned look at the princess as she stares off into the distance. He looks ahead as he pulls on his ankles.

         “No,” He replied. “I’ve been there soo long, that I thought what was happening to me was normal.”

         “When did you realize it wasn’t?”

         “My grandma…” He sighs as he lays on his back resting his head on his hands. He wiggles his leg as he rests its ankle over his knee. “She kind of…taught me about the places she been to. Strange lands, fruitful lands- all kinds of places.”

         “Did she ever tell you about this place?”

Drake thought for awhile while he stares at the colorful glowflies dancing between the paper lanterns.

         “Come to think of it, she did.” He says. “The floating islands she said with some of the freshest air and the cleanest water.”

         “Well, if she said that then she’s defiantly been here before.” Jamine says rubbing her shoulders as a cold breeze pass between them.

         “How are you feeling?” Drake asks looking at Jasmine out the corner of his eye.

         “I…” She pauses for a moment as adjusts herself on her ankles and run her hand along the sides of her temples. “I don’t really know. I survived an attack that was carried out against our people…some of which probably died. I just married my friends who must go on a suicide mission and I may never see again. And just this morning…”

         Jasmine reaches into her gown and pulls out a balled fist with a bunch of feathers sticking from between her fingers. Drake’s eyes widen in horror as he quickly sits up and notices a bundle of feathers protruding lying at the sides of her feet. He didn’t know what to say as guilt held his tongue. He knew that the dragons were after him during that last attack and if it wasn’t for that, then the princess wouldn’t’ve gotten poisoned.

         “Oh no,” Drake says shaking his head.

         “Its not your fault.” Jasmine says. “It would’ve happened sooner or later.”

         “If your Dad found out,” Drake says

         “Then he’ll condemn the people of whistle bottom forest to greenpeace,” she finishes as she casts a teary eyed smile at Drake. “I heard everything and I thank you for putting your life at risk for and saving mines as well.”

         Drake rests his arms on his knees and blankly stare at the dancing to flutes and tambourines’ with dozens of thoughts flowing through his mind.

         Man this is getting out of control and it’s all my fault. He sighs rubbing his hand through his head. Why do I feel so powerless? I want to help them, but I’m not sure that I’m good enough. Fighting against the dragons was difficult enough on the ground. Were talking about fighting them in the sky.

         Then Jasmine breaks down sobbing as tears flow from her face and pads on her thighs. Drake turns looks to see Jasmine covering face in sorrow as she hunches over.

         “We just want peace.” She squeals “We just want to dance, love and fly.”

         Drake’s heart sank seeing her in her state. He hesitantly places a supportive arm around her shoulder and she leans on his as she sobs bitterly.

         “Why can’t we just be happy.”

         Drake stares up into the canopy seeing a shooting star through zip through the cosmos above. He inhales and closes his eyes and wishes for an end to all the suffering while Jasmine cries herself to sleep on his shoulder.

###


         “We will deploy all remaining eagles. With the ones returning from reconnaissance, we’ll have a flying force of one hundred strong.” A harpy general speaks standing in front of a drawing of the map of the seven sky islands.

         A tense silence loomed inside the war council as a group of squad leaders sat in wooden chairs beneath a green tarp flapping to the wind. Fire lanterns scattered through the tent gave the room an orange glow in the night as a distant roar quietly sent cold chills through everyone’s spines.

         “The enemy outnumbers us ten to one, so verses that target multiple wyverns is a must. But our real mission,” She grabs a quill from the desk in front of her and draws a neat circle around the area between the west and southwestern islands and taps it with the back of her hand. “Is the wall the dragons are currently building. When finished, it will be at least 45 feet thick and wide enough to block the winds to keep us afloat. Our plan of action is to throw everything we’ve got at their main wyvern force and use a detachment of six eagles loaded with some of our most powerful verses available, including the foreigner. She bangs her fist against the paper mat and casts a resolute look to her fellow avians. “To obliterate their wall.”

         Clasping her hands behind her back, the dark green feathered woman looks at her troops faces as they sit nervously glancing at each other.

         “I know what some of you are thinking and I understand that most of us may not make it back alive…” she says walking towards the center of the room. “For years the dragons has terrorized us with one threat after another. They attacked us with their dragons, but we’ve beaten them back to their lairs. When they couldn’t topple us in strength, they used diseases and plagues to take away our strength and our pride, heh they’ve even resorted to attacking our eagles before they arrived.” She stops at the middle of the room, spins around and points at the map on. “The once proud and mighty dragons whom most land dwellers fear now resort to cowardice and sabotage to deal with us…the avians. What does all this means? It means that they fear us, that’s what. We rose to the challenge, met them in battle and defeated them time and time again. With each sacrifice that our brothers and sisters make,” she continues repeatedly pointing towards the floor addressing their soil, “We drive fear further into their hearts and we make our homes a safer place for our children. Lets drive that fear further into their souls with our fearless strength so that one day, they’ll seek peace under threat of our beaks.”

         Tengus and Harpies alike proudly shoot from their seats, and with a thunderous stomp and slap to the chest they shout in unison.

         “FOR AVIA”

         “Myself and Tengu Captain Zed will lead the charge, report to your stations…dismissed.”
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