by BIG BAD WOLF
A collection of various short stories and poetry.
|What happens when J.R.R. Tolkien’s LotR Heroes meet up with those of Gordon R. Dickson’s Dragon Knight series?
If you’re wondering what inspired me to write this, I joined Deadliest Fiction Wikia, which is a Spin-Off of the Deadliest Warrior Wikia- which dealt with the now cancelled TV show of the same name. Essentially, if you’ve got two favorite Warriors, or Criminals, or some such thing, and you want to know what would happen if they got into a fight- DF Wikia is the place to go. Of course, there are some rules- the big one being that the fights must be fair- You can’t send a Templar Knight against a Jedi Knight after all, unless the Templar has a bunch of friends.
To the casual traveler, a group of four men, two in armor, one messing about with some arrows, and the forth, an old man in a red robe, and a large dog wouldn’t be much of a notice at a campfire, especially since two of the men were knights. To a more informed traveler, the shields of the two knights told you who they were, and most likely, who their companions were as well, James Eckert, Baron of Riveroak, de Bois, de Malencontri, who had a dragon on his shield, and Brian Neville-Smythe, of Castle Smythe. The others were Carolinus, one of the most powerful Magicians in the land, who was allowed to be called a Mage, and thus wore the red robes his status as a AAA+ magician befitted, Dafydd ap Hywel a Welshman who as a master with the longbow, if not The Master Bowman, and finally Aargh the Wolf, though only he could say his name properly.
James was setting up his pallet, a series of bundled reeds he’d made to sleep on some time back. In spite of his years of living in this medieval world, he’d yet to accustom himself to sleeping on the naked earth. Also, he couldn’t take the chance that any bed, outside of his and Angie’s at Malencontri, was truly free of lice and fleas, as his 20th century teachings, and past experience, had informed him about the diseases that the pests had carried. However, those with him, except maybe Carolinus, wouldn’t understand that, so he’d come up with a believable excuse; Magic rules.
When he’d came to this world, he’d found himself in the body of a dragon, and his girlfriend, Angie, was kidnapped by a rouge dragon. He’d met the others during his quest to get her back, and took on the forces of evil at the Loathly Tower. After that, due to the use of some powerful magics, his real body was brought to this world, and his soul was placed in it. After that was done, he was placed in charge of Malencontri, as he’d helped to dispose of Hugh de Bois, as he’d given himself to the service of the Dark Powers, and was a Baron, due to a lie he’d told Brian when talking about himself. Of course, now that he was in his human body, he’d asked Brian to teach him how to use a sword, as he didn’t know the first thing about fighting. Brian had taken him on, and under his rough, and somewhat painful, training, James had learned how to use a sword, or at least keep himself alive at any rate. Ten months later though, a problem emerged; James had found himself turning between a dragon body and his human body. Since magic had been involved in getting to this world, he could use magic, but didn’t know how to use it- so he sought out Carolinus, and became his Apprentice as a result.
Nowadays though, while James still had some trouble with fighting in a battle with a sword, he could use his magic to great effect, like putting up protective barriers, making himself seem to disappear, moving to a better location, and of course, healing wounds, even doing blood transfusions. Of course, if worse came to worse, he could always turn himself into his dragon form, and use his teeth and claws, as well as his tail and wings.
Once he finally set up his pallet, he sat next to the others. Brian looked at him with something akin to amazement, especially since Carolinus had summoned a cushion of some sort without a word, using just his magic. “Why don’t you save yourself the trouble, and just summon your pallet with magic?”
James looked at his pallet, glanced at Carolinus, who had an amused look, and then back at Brian. “It’s out of Respect to Carolinus,” he said. “Would you not wish to show the knight who took you on as his squire the utmost respect, and do things somewhat harder than he does?”
“Hmm, I guess you’re right,” said Brian. “I was forever taking care of his horse and weapons.”
“Exactly,” James said. “Of course, since I can’t manage Carolinus’s magic, or his home, I must do things in a more mundane way around him; that is, to do things without magic.”
Aargh opened his mouth and gave out a silent laugh. “You two-legs are always talking instead of doing.” He got up on all fours and walked away, vanishing into the darkness. “I’ll keep watch while you snore like a bunch of bears during the winter.”
“I swear, if he wasn’t a good friend, that remark would cause me to draw my sword and go after him,” Brian muttered, and he set up his saddle and blankets, after checking up on his horse, Blanchard.
“You know how he is,” James said, as he took a look at his horse, Gorp- the name forever reminding him of the old Ford car he once had. “He probably doesn’t want to smell us all night.”
“I don’t blame him,” Dayfdd took a look at his own horse, whom he’d named Owen, after Owen Glendower, the last leader of Welsh resistance before the English had finally taken over the country of Wales. “If not for the Dark Powers, I’d be at home with my Golden Bird, helping her with the children.”
“So would I,” said Brian.
“So would we all,” James said. “However, if the Dark Powers are not stopped here, there’ll be plenty of trouble.”
“I guess you’re right,” Brian said. “But still, me and Geronde Isabella de Chaney have only been married for six months; the two of you have been married to your wives since we met five years back.”
“It was only like a month afterwards,” James said.
“True, but you’ve had plenty of chances to bed your wives,” Brian said. “Aside from our wedding night, me and her haven’t had much of a chance.”
Dafydd chuckled. “There’ll be time after this.”
It was then that Carolinus stood up, and walked towards the stone paved Roman road. James followed him. “Anything going on?”
Carolinus looked at him, his face in a frown. “You’re neglecting your tutelage if you can’t sense what I do, considering you’re almost an A-Rank.”
James looked again. “I don’t see anything.”
Carolinus scoffed. “Make your eyes see magic then.”
James thought out a spell, and gave his eyes the ability to see those who used magic as the color red, and the stronger their power was, the brighter the color would be. Almost immediately, he was blinded by the color that came from Carolinus. Quickly, he adjusted the spell to exclude the master magician, making him appear normal. Way off in the distance, he saw something that had to be as bright as Carolinus was, if not brighter. He looked at his teacher. “Anyone you know?”
“It’s not the other two AAA+ magicians,” Carolinus said. “And I know the feel of most of the others that could rival my power, not that any of them have a reason to be here, unless the Council sends them, if we should fail.”
“I hope that will not happen,” said James. “We don’t want the Dark Powers to win.”
“We do not,” Carolinus said. “I’ll go check this person out.”
“What if there’s a bandit out there?”
Carolinus chuckled. “That will not bother me- I’ll use that hypnotism trick of yours; stick a leafy twig in my robe or something, and convince those who don’t have one that I’m not there. Besides, even a bandit wouldn’t be foolish to attack one such as me; bad things might happen.”
James chuckled a bit. “Right, you’d make them think they’d been turned into a beetle. Still, wouldn’t that leave us unprotected if the Dark Powers tried to attack us directly; your shield is what kept us safe during the Loathly Tower incident.”
“Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs,” Carolinus muttered. “You act as if I hadn’t thought of that. Here!”
James soon felt like he weighed an additional five pounds.
“Touch the others, and they’ll be given protection too,” Carolinus said. “If you’re given what would otherwise be a mortal wound, you’ll fall into a state where time stops for you; you won’t bleed, breathe, think, or anything, until you’re healed.”
“Much like the time Dayfdd and Brian were injured by those pirates when Sea Serpents tried to attack England.”
Carolinus smiled. “Much like then, only I’ve improve upon that Finnish lad’s spell; no one will be able to touch you, unless you, or someone you trust, or someone they trust, would trust the person trying to help you.”
James chuckled. “That would keep us from being captured.” He then looked at his friend. “What if something were to happen to you?”
“I’ve put a similar spell on myself,” Carolinus said. “If you’ve sensed that I’ve fallen, I’m advising you to complete this first, then come for me. Nothing is more important than stopping the Dark Powers, not even me.”
“I understand,” James said.
Carolinus nodded, and began walking, using his staff to aid him, the staff giving off a faint light to help guide his way.
James then walked back to the others. Brian and Dayfdd looked at him. Turning off the spell he’d cast on his eyes, James said, “We aren’t the only ones out here. Keep your weapons near you at all times. Lord Chandos and Prince Edward are leading the English army here.”
The other knight and archer nodded. Nothing else needed to be said.
“I’m glad we found each other,” Frodo said as he munched on some bread. “Me and Sam were practically out of supplies when you found us.” He then looked at his four friends, Aragorn, a human who was skilled with a sword, Legalos, an elf who was an expert with the bow, Gimli, a dwarf who was highly skilled with an axe, and Gandalf, one of the most powerful wizards in all Middle Earth. “I hope he’s alright.”
Gandalf smiled. “I took him to some friends in the army following us. The Kingdoms of Men, Elves, and Dwarves have all joined for this final attack on Sauron.”
“That’s good to know,” said Gimli. “I was worried about whether or not my father would be able to rouse them after I sent the message about Balin’s death. How many do you figure?”
“Nothing less than ten thousand when I first got there,” Gandalf said. “If the banners were any indication. Of course, there’s more now, at least a hundred thousand; plenty of volunteers were coming from all over.”
Aragorn smiled, and looked at Legalos, who also had a smile. “That will give us a fighting chance.”
“I’ll say,” Legalos chuckled. “We’ll likely drive them out of Mordor.”
“Don’t get ahead of yourselves,” Gandalf said. “Sauron is full of tricks.” He then looked into the darkness. “As it is, I’ll have to leave you for a while.”
“Why?” asked Frodo.
“There’s someone out there,” said Gandalf. “Someone as powerful as me, if not more.”
Aragorn nodded. “Be careful.”
Gandalf stood up, picking up his staff and checking his sword.
“You do realize that Sauron has made Mordor almost impossible to walk though without some sort of protection,” Legalos said.
“I’ve thought of that,” said the old wizard. “Here!”
The members of the Fellowship soon felt slightly heavier- not much, maybe five pounds each.
“It will keep you safe from death, and capture, from enemy forces.”
“That will be useful,” said Frodo. “I didn’t like being captured by Orcs the last time.”
Gandalf smiled. “May your paths be safe.” He then wandered into the night, a glow coming from his staff.
Carolinus soon noticed the glow coming in his direction. He frowned a bit; the person coming towards him was indeed more powerful, but that was not what worried him. James himself had once held him in place with a simple “Hold” spell, along with another AAA+ Magician, though that was an accident, as he was trying to stop a dozen enemy men-at-arms from rushing him and the others, including the women the three younger men loved, though James’s spell had included practically everyone in the castle. What really worried Carolinus, was that this person was trained to use their magic in an Offensive manner, a Sorcerer, one who’d traded their soul to the Dark Powers to have this ability. He frowned deeper; the last powerful Magician who’d crossed to the other side had been a good friend of his, before he’d given into the Temptation, and lounged for money, power, and control over others. However, that one had crossed one line too many, and the Kingdom of the Dead had taken him, and had him executed. Carolinus sighed, grabbed a leafy twig, and placed it under his black skullcap- a trick he’d learned from James when the young magician was in France, trying to rescue the Prince. He then did the spell- no one without leafy twigs in their clothes would be able to see him, but he’d have to keep quiet. He also turned off the spell that lit his staff.
Gandalf noticed the light vanish. He frowned a bit. While he could still sense the person, as it was hard to completely hide one’s powers, not being able to see what one was striking could make things difficult. “Might as well make things even,” he said, extinguishing the light on his staff. “If I can’t see you, you might as well not see me.” He then drew his sword, and slowly approached.
Carlolinus noticed the other light vanish. “You’re smart, I’ll give you that,” he muttered to himself. “Most fools would have left the light on in hopes of seeing me, making themselves a better target in reality.” He slowly walked forward; he might not have been as great at his woodsmanship as the Welsh bowman was, but he wasn’t so clumsy as to allow himself to step on dried grass, twigs, or other such things.
Gandalf soon sensed that the other person was near, and swung his sword, Glamdring, to prevent a similar blow from catching him unawares. However, instead of striking the metal of a sword, the sword struck some sort of protective barrier.
“Like I’d let some sword-swinger ruin my staff,” a voice snapped, coming from thin air. “I thought your sort was above that.”
Gandalf leapt back. “Show yourself. Are you in the service of Sauron?”
“Depends on if he’s an ally to the Dark Powers or not,” the voice said. “If he’s with them, then I’m against him.”
“Sauron is a force of great evil,” Gandalf said. “His goal is to conquer the world, and put all to the sword.”
“Are you his ally, or enemy?” the voice asked.
“I’m his enemy, to the Death, if need be.”
“Then you and I might be allies.” The person revealed themselves, causing Gandalf to gasp in shock.
“How’d you do that?” the wizard asked.
Carolinus held up a leafy twig. “A little trick I picked up from my Apprentice; wear one of these things, and those who aren’t wearing them shall not see you, or at least, their eyes will refuse to see you. It’s a form of hypnotism, one that uses very little magic, especially for him.” He passed the twig to Gandalf.
Gandalf looked at it. “Can this be used on any twig?”
“Picked that up when I came out to meet you,” Carolinus said with a slight smile. “One has to be careful around strange people.”
“I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have thought of such magic,” said Gandalf.
“Neither would I, if not for my apprentice,” said Carolinus. “However, he got part of his education on some other world, and he has applied that education to his use of magic.”
“Sounds like someone I’d like to meet with,” Gandalf said.
“I’ll take you to him,” Carolinus said. “But first, how about the two of us have a go at it?”
“A go at it?”
“A mock fight, as knights would call it,” Carolinus said. “We shall see which of us is better at utilizing our respective magics, in combination with other factors.”
“Not to the death I hope,” Gandalf said.
“Of course not,” Carolinus said. “Just until one of us is unable to fight, after which, the victor is to heal the wounds of the other.”
“I’m agreeable to that,” Gandalf said.
“Good- it’s been years since I’ve faced another magician close to my own power, let alone over it,” Carolinus chuckled. He gripped his staff with two hands. “You first; the rules of my Collegiate forbid any directly offensive abilities.”
“And you think that you’ll be able to best me,” Gandalf said, slowly waving his sword around, and pointing his staff at Carolinus.”
Gandalf swung his staff, sending a stream of fire towards the other. Carolinus jammed his staff into the ground, holding onto it, as the flames parted around him.
“Not bad,” Gandalf said.
“The same could be said of you,” Carolinus said.
“Then how about this!”
Suddenly, the ground fell under Carloinus, forming a deep chasm, but the magician seemed to stand in the air.
“Another trick I learned,” Carolinus said, as he moved over to Gandalf’s side. “Use the shield to allow transportation in the air.”
However, instead of seeing the wizard, Carolinus’s eyes were blinded by a bright light, and he screamed as a pain he’d not felt in years enveloped him, that of cold steel entering his body.
The scream echoed in James’s ears, forcing him awake, and getting him on his hands, and feet, and looking out into the darkness, his vision better than normal.
“Are we under attack?” Came Brian’s voice, along with the sound of steel being drawn, which seemed slightly louder than normal to James. “Is that why you’re in your dragon body?”
James looked down at himself; the scales on his arms, and the claws on his hands were a dead giveaway. “We’re not,” he said, changing back into his normal, and thankfully clothed, human form. “Carolinus was though. I heard him in my sleep.” He then put the magic-seeing spell on his eyes; the color Red was twice as bright. At first, James was worried that the other was more powerful than he thought, but then he put two and two together, and altered the spell- part of the red became blue, as blue as Carolinus’s eyes.
“I have good news, and bad news,” he said. “The good news is that Carolinus is still alive; the bad news is that the other magic-user is also alive. With any amount of luck, Carolinus will keep that one tied up until we’ve completed our mission.”
Brian and Dayfdd nodded. While James may have talked in his strange manner, from his far away land of Riveroak, they understood his meaning.
“It’s good to hear that the Mage is alright,” Brian said.
“The only way the Mage wouldn’t be alright was if he was dead, or near to it,” Aargh said as he slinked back into the camp. “All creatures encounter that fate, even I and the Mage, though the Mage would be more deeply missed than myself.”
“That reminds me,” said James. “Before he left, Carolinus charged me with making sure you’d all be protected from harm.” He then touched his human companions on the shoulder.
“What sort of magic is this?” Brian asked. “It feels like my armor is a little heavier, yet I don’t see any difference.”
“I could ask the same question,” Dayfdd said. “My leather jerkin feels a little heavier, along with the rest of my clothes.”
“Remember the time you were injured fighting that Scottish pirate when Sea Serpents were invading England?” James asked.
The two nodded.
“Something similar will happen if any of us get mortally injured,” James said. “Also, it will keep enemy forces from capturing us; only a friend will be able to touch our bodies.”
“That is useful,” Brain said.
“At least it won’t affect my aim,” Dayfdd said. “Unlike the armor you two normally wear.”
“That’s good to hear,” James said as he knelt before Aargh. “Aargh, I know that you rarely bother with such things, but you know how Carolinus can be when his instructions are not followed, so I’ll ask you if you’ll let me touch you, so that you can be protected.”
“Very well,” Aargh growled. “You can touch me on the head, but if you get any funny ideas about petting me like one of your tame dogs, I’ll tear your hand off.”
James chuckled, as he placed his hand on the wolf. “I have no doubt that you would.” He then removed his hand and stood up.
“What about me?” called a voice from the sumpter horse.
James stood up, and walked over to it. The horse carried all the extra gear the party might need, including battle armor and spare weapons. It also had one child-sized passenger; the brown-tan colored creature simply called Hob, like all castle hobgoblins were. While he seemed to be of no interest to most, unless it was their first time seeing such a creature, Hob had proven himself useful, with his ability to travel on the smoke of any flame, and even going through places that smoke could, like cracks in the wall. He was even brave, to a degree; while next to useless in a fight, though he was recently given a sword that was suitable for his stature, he was very willing to protect those he called friends, and would protect them to the death if need be.
James chuckled, as he pondered this. “Of course you should be protected, above all else.” He then placed his hand upon the creature.
“Thank you, Your Lordship,” said Hob.
James chuckled once again. “Just remember to keep the horses calm if there is to be a fight.”
“Yes m’lord.” Like a number of hobgoblins, Hob could talk to horses, and many other animals, in a manner of speaking, that was somewhat beyond James’ own attempts at duplicating- wolves and dragons could speak, but other animals, and even trees and other plants, just didn’t talk in the same manner that humans did.
James then walked to the rest. “Aargh, since you’re best at keeping watch, it would be a good idea if you could keep on doing that.”
“Like I’d want to sleep here,” said Aargh.
“M’lord, I could do that,” said Hob. “You know that hobgoblins such as myself doesn’t need to sleep.”
“In that case Hob, you can stand watch,” said James. “Aargh, you can go and get yourself something to eat; it’s not like you’d want any of the food us humans tend to eat. Just remember to come back if you find something that might be of interest to the rest of us.”
Aargh gave his silent laugh. “And what would be of interest to you?”
“Oh, another group of people,” James said. “Especially those with weapons.”
Aargh gave one of his grins, some of his teeth showing. “I’d tell you about such a group, even if you hadn’t asked me to look for one.” The wolf then walked away, vanishing into the darkness.
James looked at the others. “Let’s get what sleep we can; we’ve got a lot of work come sunrise.”
“Gandalf’s been gone for some time,” said Frodo. “Shouldn’t someone go look for him?”
“That wizard can take care of himself,” said Aragorn. “There’s not many who could possibly rival his power.”
“My people have plenty of stories about him,” said Legolas.
“We’ve seen him take on a demon,” Gimli said. “And we’ve also seen his other powers. Nothing could possibly beat him.”
“You have to remember though, Saruman almost killed him,” said Frodo.
“That was practically an ambush; Gandalf didn’t expect to be attacked by a friend,” Aragorn said. “Also, Gandalf won’t be caught off-guard this time; he’ll probably destroy whomever it is that’s out there.”
“We can hope that the person isn’t hostile,” said Legolas. “We can’t afford to be delayed if we are to destroy the Ring.”
“We’ll worry in the morning,” said Gimli. “Let’s get some sleep.”
<b>Back with Gandalf and Carolinus</b>
“I didn’t injure you too badly, did I?” Gandalf said as he put some cloth padding upon Carolinus’ wound.
“Do you not have the ability to simply heal wounds with your magic?” Carolinus asked, cocking one of his eyebrows.
“To my regret, that is something I cannot do.”
“Bah!” Carolinus scoffed. “In that case, I’ll just heal myself!”
Gandalf gasped in amazement when the Mage took off the cloth, revealing intact skin, with no sign of a wound. “Amazing.”
“I can heal any injury inflicted upon me, and my friends.”
“That does have some uses,” Gandalf said. “You’re completely whole?”
“Just a minor irritation, but nothing serious,” Carolinus said. “Of course, I can’t make a person regain lost blood- only they themselves can do that. My apprentice though, he knows of a way to transfer blood from one person, and place it into the body of another, a process he calls a Transfusion.”
“By transporting one drop of blood at a time, very slowly, otherwise, as he says, the recipient could die from sudden shock,” Carolinus said. “Also, you have to make sure that the donor’s blood will mix well with the recipient’s own blood, or else you could still kill them.”
“But isn’t blood just blood?” Gandalf asked.
“Not according to my apprentice,” Carolinus said, as he stood up. “And thus far, I’ve seen no reason to disbelieve what he’s said. He doesn’t think like your typical apprentice either; he could probably take you on, and win.”
“If you couldn’t beat me, how could he?” Gandalf asked.
Carolinus smiled. “You might say that James knows things that you and I could never fathom. Also, he can use more than just magic.”
“You’ll find out soon.”
“I guess I will,” said Gandalf. “How about we get some sleep, and we’ll have our groups join forces in the morning?”
Carolinus grinned. “I’d be pleased to meet your friends, especially if they are as good as you.”
“Same with me meeting your friends,” Gandalf said.
James woke to the smell of breakfast cooking, something akin to a meat and vegetable stew. James took a look- the meat was from dried venison, and the vegetables were from last year’s carrots, onions, and other such European root vegetables that could be stored over the long winter. Of course, unlike similar stews he once ate in the late 20th century, there was no potatoes, as it wouldn’t be for a few hundred years that Europe would get that plant from America, much less grow it, and eat it.
“Morning James,” Brian said, as he filled a cup for him.
James took a look in it; small beer. He drank it with a minor look of disgust; he’d of preferred milk, but there was none to be had, unless he changed the beer into the substance, but he had to save his magic for the upcoming battle.
“A refill my Lord?” Brain asked.
James handed him the cup, watched as it was once again filled with the beer, and once again, he drank down the liquid. About the only good thing about it was that it kept you from being dehydrated. “Have we any wine?” he asked.
“We do,” Brian said, as he stood up. “I’ll get you some.”
James then looked and saw Dayfdd put some stew in a bowl. “For you, m’Lord,” the archer said. James nodded as he accepted the bowl, and took out his eating utensils, knife, spoon, and a fork. Dayfdd got himself a bowl, filled it, and then used his knife to stab the pieces of meat and vegetables, and transferring them to his mouth in that manner.
“Aargh hasn’t come back,” Brian said, as he came to fill James’ cup with wine.
“Aargh’s been back,” the wolf said, startling the knight, causing him to spill some of the wine on James’ hand.
“Sorry m’Lord,” Brian said.
“It’s alright,” James said, as he got out a towel-like cloth. “Aargh surprised me to.”
“Teach you to keep a better watch than a hobgoblin,” Aargh said.
“I saw you come in,” Hob said, as he floated on the smoke, some ten feet above the fire. “I just knew you were a friend.”
James turned his head, and noticed that Aargh was laying in the shadow of a good sized boulder. “How was your hunt?”
“Caught a rabbit that was foolish enough to leave the relative safety of its den, not that the hole would have kept me out anyways.”
“Did you see anyone else out there?”
“There was another fire out there,” the wolf said. “There were four people around it; one was a man, but as for the other three, their scents were nothing like what I’ve smelled before. One was as tall as a man, only he had pointed ears; he carried a bow. Another was short with a long beard; he carried an ax. The fourth creature was the size of Hob, and carried a short sword; he also had something else, one of those pieces of metal you like to have on your fingers, only there was something about it that has my fur stand on end.”
“What about the man?” Brian asked.
“Taller than James,” Aargh said. “And he carried a sword.”
“How close did you get to them?” Dayfdd asked.
“Close enough to see that they aren’t anything like anyone we’ve fought before,” Aargh said. “Also, I could smell blood on them; they may have cleaned their weapons, but I could smell the trace amounts. The blood reminded me of-” he casted a glance towards Hob, before returning his gaze towards James- “Deep-Earth goblins, only more powerful, and some was mixed with the scent of human blood.”
“Was there any such creatures in the Kingdom of Demons?” James asked, as he looked at Hob, as his kind, and Deep-Earth goblins had once been the Least of Demons, up until 800 years in the past when the goblins, first those like Hob, who later became Hobgoblins, who were gentle even then, were forcibly removed, and then those who became Deep-Earth goblins were removed afterwards, when they were blamed for the weakening of the Demons’ powers over men, especially those who believed in some kind if Faith.
Hob scratched his head. “Not that I know of,” he said. “But you know just how powerful demons can be; it could be that they took some evil men and changed them to be more demon-like.”
“That is possible,” James said. “We’ve seen that sort of work before, when we rescued the Prince from Malvinne- he liked to turn his prisoners into creatures that were half-animal, half-human.”
“God forbid that such things happen to any of us,” Brian said, as he and Dayfdd crossed themselves. “Unless it’s part of your doing of course, not that you’d do such a thing to your friends.”
“I’d never do such a thing to my friends,” James said. “Not unless I had your permission, much like the time I turned you into a dragon when we were in Lyonesse, Brian.”
“That’s very considerate of you James,” Dayfdd said. “However, we will need more information about this group; are they friend or foe?”
“Good point,” said James. “Hob, I’d like you to check this group out; talk to them if you can, and let us know the situation.”
“Yes m’Lord,” Hob said. The hobgoblin gathered a bunch of smoke, and floated off.
“Why did you send him, and not Aargh?” Brian asked.
James looked at his friend. “If a strange wolf came upon you, would you stop to listen to it before attacking it?”
“Probably not,” said the knight. “I’d try to kill it.”
Aargh gave out one of his laughs. “Like you or any other human could do that on your own.”
Brian looked at Aargh, before looking back at James. “So you sent him because he’s less likely to get attacked.”
“Of course,” said James. “And furthermore, on the smoke, he’s faster than any of us.”
Some Minutes Later
The Fellowship was finishing up their own breakfast when Frodo noticed that Sting, his sword, was glowing blue. “Orks are near,” he said.
Legalos grabbed his bow, and nocked an arrow. He scanned the area around them carefully, and he soon saw something coming near, floating on a cloud of some sort. “I see him.” He aimed his bow, pulled back on the string, and loosed the arrow. A high-pitched scream entered his ears, as the creature grabbed its shoulder, where the arrow was sticking out of. The creature turned itself around, and took off the way it had come.
“Did you kill it?” Gimli asked.
“No, just wounded it,” Legalos said. “It wasn’t like any other ork I’ve seen before; it floated on a cloud.”
“Must be a scout,” Aragorn said. “Though why it would come out during the daytime is beyond me.”
“Could be a new breed,” said Frodo. “We’ve seen that before.”
Aragorn nodded. “Let’s move out.”
The group finished their meal, doused the fire, got on their horses, and began riding.
Back with the Companions- another few minutes later
The preparations for James and his friends to leave their camp site were interrupted when Hob practically dropped on the sumpter horse, clutching the arrow in his shoulder. “I never got a chance to tell them anything,” he said, pain in his face. “The one sent an arrow at me before I got close enough to talk to them.”
“What distance?” Dayfdd asked, as he looked at the arrow.
“Quarter of a mile,” said Hob.
“You got lucky,” Dayfdd said. “If it was me, the one on the other end would have been dead.”
“Brian, Dayfdd, hold him for a bit,” James said. “I’m going to remove the arrow, and heal the wound.”
“Will it hurt?” Hob asked, as the two humans carefully grabbed a hold of him.
“Not too much,” James said, as he held up his hand. In the next moment, the arrow was being held by him, and Hob’s shoulder was as good as new.
“Thank you m’Lord,” Hob said, as the two released him, and went to check the arrow with James.
“What do you make of it?” James asked, as he handed it to Dayfdd.
The arrow had a gold-colored tip that was in the shape of some sort of leaf. Dayfdd compared the arrow with one of his own. “It can penetrate deep into flesh, and possibly through bone,” the archer said. “With a strong enough bow, like mine, it could potentially go through plate armor, two or three armor-wearing foes even. Hob must have been at the furthest reach of the archer.”
“Do you think that you could take him?” Brian asked. “I’ve seen you make similar shots, and take out the foe.”
“I’m a Welsh Bowman,” Dayfdd said. “Such a shot is child’s play to such as me.”
“In that case, Dayfdd, the archer’s yours,” James said. “Brian, the tall one with the sword will be yours. Aargh, you get the short one with the axe. I’ll take the other one; he probably has some sort of magic if he could sense Hob at a distance, and only I can do magic here, at the moment.”
“You sure are generous,” Brian said. “After all, you could put a spell on them, and have them stand in one place.”
“I probably would,” James said. “If I only knew who they were, and what they looked like, and where they were. As it is, if any of our foes are giving you too much trouble, I will Still them; should that happen, do not attack that person- it would be unfair otherwise.”
“I’m in agreement,” said Brian.
“As am I,” said Dayfdd.
“I’d sooner kill my enemies, but I understand the rules of your order,” Aargh said. “I won’t kill my foe if you put a spell on him.”
“Good,” James said, as he got on Gorp, just as the other humans also got on their respective horses. “You lead the way.”
Aargh gave his laugh, and trotted off.
James looked at Hob. “You well enough to ride?”
“Yes m’Lord,” said the hobgoblin.
“Alright,” said James. “Let’s ride.”
Battle Part 2
Some distance away, the area became that of marshland, with the South side of the Fellowship’s road being bordered by a raging sea, as was the North side of the Companion’s. It was in a clear area that the two parties saw each other.
“What do you see?” Aragorn asked, as he looked at Legalos.
“The one armored man has the image of a stag on his shield (Brian), while the other has an image of a dragon (James),” the elf said. “The third man is an archer, and a very good one at that.”
“How can you tell?” Gimli asked.
“Look at enough things at a distance as I have, and you’ll learn to pick out such thing,” Legalos said. “As for the wolf, he walks with a slight limp, very slight. It tells me that he broke his leg, but it was healed with a very skilled doctor. However, he isn’t some tame pet; his eyes are too wild for that.”
“What of the goblin?” Frodo asked.
“He’s on the other horse, untied.”
At the same time, James and Dayfdd were looking at the members of the Fellowship, James having turned his eyes into those of a dragon. “The one with pointed ears and the bow is an elf, and the short stout one with the axe is a dwarf,” James said as he turned his eyes back to normal.
“What about the other one?” Brian asked.
“I’m not sure,” James said. He then looked at Dayfdd, who was still studying the others. “What can you tell about them?”
“The elf is their archer; he’ll be mine as you said,” Dayfdd replied. “The human is good with his sword; Brian, he’s yours. The dwarf is good with his axe, but is likely the least agile; Aargh can have him. As for the fourth, the little one doesn’t seem to be any good at fighting, but there’s something about him that sends a chill throughout my soul.” He looked at James. “You were right when you said that he was yours.”
“In that case, time to send a message,” James said. “Give me the arrow we took from Hob, and one of yours, one that can go the distance- I’m going to use them in a little communication spell.”
Dayfdd pulled out the two arrows, and handed them to James.
James looked at the arrow that had belonged to the elf. “Once in the ground, you shall project the images of the one who shot you, and those with him, and their voices shall be heard by us,” he said. He then looked at Dayfdd’s arrow. “Likewise, you shall project our image and transmit our voices, once you hit the ground.” He then gave Dayfdd’s arrow back to him. “Aim just in front of them, and release your arrow when I tell you to. Brian, could you dismount for a moment, and come around to me?”
Brain got off Blanchard, and came over to them. “Yes James?”
James gave him the elf’s arrow. “When I tell you to, stick that in the ground.”
James looked at Dayfdd and nodded. The archer nocked the arrow, stretched his bow to its limits, and loosed the arrow. James then looked at Brian, and nodded. The knight stabbed his arrow into the earth, and jumped back as images of the others appeared before him. Quickly composing himself, Brian got back on his horse.
At the same time, the Fellowship was doubly shocked, both at the distance the one had loosed his arrow from, and hitting just in front of them- almost half a mile, and the fact that images of the others now appeared in front of them.
“What sort of magic is this?” Aragorn asked.
“Just a little something so that we can see, and hear, each other,” James said. “If you were to move to the one side, you’d see images of yourselves in front of us, just like there are images of us in front of you. It’s much easier on the nerves than to hear my voice in your head.”
“What’s the meaning of this?” Gimli asked.
“Your archer attacked a friend of ours, when he was only traveling with peaceful intentions,” James said. “Such actions demand satisfaction. Now, you could simply apologize, Hob tends to be the forgiving type, and perhaps we can go about our respective businesses like civilized people, or we could settle this like a bunch of savages, and have ourselves a pointless fight to the death, or until someone gives up.”
“Like we’d apologize to an ally of Sauron,” Gimli said as he got off his horse, and charged the images with his axe, destroying the arrow in the process.
“Looks like will be a fight to the death!” James’ voice echoed in the minds of the Fellowship. “You’ll be wishing you’d apologized when the Dragon Knight and his Companions are through with you!”
“And you’ll find that the Fellowship of the Ring isn’t made up by a bunch of cowards!” Gimli shouted. He looked at the others and laughed. “That showed him a thing or two!”
“Gimli, you’re a fool at times,” Legalos said.
Suddenly, an arrow found itself behind Gimli, and once again, James and his friends showed up. “We’ll fight where our roads join,” James said. “And it will be you who will be shown a thing or two!”
“Bah!” Gimli said, as he struck the arrow, breaking it. “I’m not afraid of you.”
“It isn’t a matter of fear,” Aragorn said. “That one can use magic; how else could he project his image?”
A touch of fear entered Gimli’s bones, as he stared at the Companions on the other side of the marsh. “Do you think he’s the reason Gandalf isn’t back yet?”
“It’s possible,” Aragorn said. “That or they have someone even more powerful with them, and that person is keeping Gandalf pinned in place.”
“Do you think that we can beat them?” Frodo asked.
“It’s possible,” Aragorn said. “But we’ll have to be smart about it.”
Meanwhile, James was busy casting a spell upon the image in front of him and his friends, one that revealed any spells upon the Fellowship, and their belongings, and what the spells were for. “Let’s see, the sword of the human is enchanted so that it will always cut, and the little one’s can detect those of goblin blood- I guess that’s why they attacked Hob, and all of them are under a spell that will place them in a state of suspended animation if mortally wounded- means they’ll be placed in a state of sleep if seriously injured.” He then stared at the One Ring. “Now that really worried me; there’s so many spells on it that I doubt that Carolinus could make sense of all of them.”
“What does it do?” Brian asked.
“Initially, it would just make you invisible- preventing others from seeing you. However, over time, it will corrupt your soul. What’s more, Forces of Evil can track it down.”
Hob gulped. “Do you think that these people are part of this Evil Force?”
“It’s possible,” James said. “If we can get the Ring, I can at least get a hold of the other Magicians, and inform them about it. One of them must have heard something about it.”
A while later, the roads joined up at a long bridge, and the distance between the Fellowship and the Companions was roughly 100 feet.
“Dayfdd, you’d best arm yourself with my spare sword,” James said. “You’ll need it if this fight gets too close for your bow.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice,” Dayfdd said as he removed the weapon from the stumpter horse.
“Brian, given that you and me are armed with lances, do you feel that we should charge them, or should we walk up to them, swords in hand?”
“I’d rather not risk losing Blanchard by going into that ocean,” Brian said. “And at close range, our lances would be next to useless. Sword in hand it should be.”
“Aargh, I don’t need to tell you how you should fight.”
“And you shouldn’t,” Aargh growled.
“Good,” said James. “Let’s go; Dayfdd, cover us, and keep their archer occupied.”
“You don’t need to tell me,” the Welshman said, pulling an arrow from his quiver, and James, Brian, and Aargh began moving forward.
Aragorn looked at the three coming towards them. “Frodo, stay here with Legalos; he’ll keep their archer busy. Gimli, you and me will take on these three, and then deal with their archer.”
“About time,” Gimli said, swinging his axe. “I was worried that my beard would turn grey from old age standing there.” The two began walking forward.
James looked at the two coming towards them. “Aargh, Brian, stay with your assigned targets, I’ll assist whomever’s having the most trouble.”
“As you wish,” Brian said, as he drew his sword, and checked the straps on his shield. “Just don’t ruin all the fun.”
“You’ll have your fun,” James said as he drew his own sword.
“Talk, talk, talk, is that all you ever do?” Aargh asked. The wolf sprang forward, just as an arrow impacted the ground near where his head had been. “Watch yourselves!”
Brian and James got their shields in a position to protect them additional arrows, which came at the rate of machinegun bullets.
“Would it not be easier to protect us from the arrows by using a magic shield?” Brian asked.
“I’d better do that,” James said, as one pierced through his shield, stopping just before his eye. “There!”
The arrows kept coming, but ended up stopping, or bouncing off about four feet in front of the three.
James laughed as he used his sword to clear off the half dozen arrows that had struck his shield, and had remained stuck. “I should have thought of that in the first place.”
Brian was silent as he cleared his own shield, and Aargh gave out a silent laugh, as he was unscathed.
Aargh then ran forward, and tackled the dwarf with the axe, and was busy trying to get his throat, but Gimli had stuck the shaft of his axe between them, and was preventing the wolf from doing so. Aragorn swung his sword, in an attempt to decapitate the wolf, only for it to meet the blade of Brian, who had charged forward with the ease of one who’d worn armor since he was seven years old. The two men began fighting each other, Aragorn trying to use his larger blade, and body size to his advantage, but Brian had fought more than a few large foes in his time, causing the giant’s blows to glance off his shield, while trying to hack Aragorn’s side, but the man was quick enough to either avoid the blows, or block them with his sword.
James slowly walked forward, watching his two friends doing battle, keeping an eye on their progress; Aargh was using his claws, in addition to his teeth, though the dwarf was doing a good job at protecting his throat, considering that he was still on the ground. Meanwhile, Brian and his foe seemed to be matching blow for blow, though the larger man’s sword was leaving a good-sized gash in Brian’s shield. James also watched the other two foes; the archer was still trading arrows with Dayfdd, while the little one stayed by the horses. James looked back at Dayfdd; the Welshman was still going at it, though he was now collecting his opponent’s arrows, and sending them back, much like the elf was with Dayfdd’s arrows, both of them moving around the battlefield, each seeking the advantage. Suddenly though, the large man kicked Brian in the groin, causing the knight to fall to his knees, and prepared to behead him.
“Still!” James shouted. “You cannot move! Aargh, I want you to get off your foe and escort Brian back to me.”
As Aargh got off his foe, Gimli stood up, gripping his axe. “We’ve got them on the run!” he shouted. “Let’s get them!”
“Don’t even attempt it!” James commanded. “Do anything other than what I tell you to, and your friend shall suffer dearly. That goes for the two of you back there: any arrows or anything else, and your friend shall remain in place for the rest of his life!”
It was then that Gimli looked at Aragorn; the man stood in mid-swing. “What have you done to him?”
“Your friend is unharmed,” James said. “However, he’s unable to move, unless I give him permission to.”
By this time, Aargh had brought Brian, who was walking somewhat stiffly, over to him.
“Are you feeling alright?” James asked.
“Nothing a cup of wine won’t fix,” Brian said. “I almost won.”
“That’s good to hear,” James smiled. “Now, go and enjoy that cup of wine.”
“Gladly.” The knight and the wolf walked over to Dayfdd, who was busy collecting his arrows. Other than a few scratches, the Welshman was alright. James took this opportunity to look at his foes; the elf, much like Dayfdd, was but lightly scratched, but he was keeping an arrow nocked to his bowstring. The dwarf was covered in scratches and bite marks on his face and the parts of his forearms that weren’t covered in armor. As for the large man, if he didn’t have at least two broken ribs on his left side, James would eat his own gauntlets, metal and all. As for the other one, he was still by the horses, only he was even more scared.
James chuckled as he looked at the large man. “It’s not a nice feeling, to be made a prisoner in your own body; I should know, as it once happened to me. However, I’ll be nice, and allow you to move your head, and speak.”
Aragorn groaned, as he moved his head to look at James. “How are you doing this? Are you a wizard?”
“No, but I am an Apprentice to the Mage Carolinus,” James said. “At least, it was through him that I learned magic- the Council has yet to decide whether or not to make me a full-fledged Mage, as I’m still just a B ranked Magician, or Magikian as they like to pronounce it.”
“A lesser rank, just as a Lord would be beneath a King,” James said, as he walked forward. “Still, I’m skilled enough to control you, and even your friends, if I so chose. After all, as one as skilled as you can clearly see, I’m practically a novice with a sword; you only need to look at the way I hold my sword, not in the manner of one who has spent the better part of his life using such weapons. Of course, I don’t normally have such need of a blade, though I’m a fair hand at it.” At this, James sheathed his sword, still walking towards Aragorn. He then stopped in front of the man, looking him in the eyes. “As you can see, I’m one who is skilled in the ways of magic, if not so much in the ways of weapons. Of course, an even bigger question is this: What else am I?”
“What else are you?” Aragorn asked.
James grinned. “I’ll show you.” At once, the man vanished, and in his place was a dragon, not as big as the Smaug of song and legend, maybe thirty feet in length, but a dragon none the less. Four legs with long claws, a set of wings nearly the size of the rest of the body, a pair of twisted horns, a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth, and was colored in all the hues of the rainbow. “Now, I will tell you this,” the dragon said in a deep voice. “What you are seeing is a representation of my true form, but only in your head. Your friends, and mine, don’t see, or hear, this, but unlike yours, my friends would not get scared at my transformation. What you need to worry about is if I could do this to my friends, and if you’d end up facing several dragons, instead of one.” The dragon turned back into a human. “Now that you know something of me, you’ve got some thinking to do: Should I continue the fight, or sheath my sword until we get this whole mess sorted out? I give you back control of your body.”
Startled at the prospect of being in control of his own body, Aragorn leapt back, and got his sword in a defensive stance to cover up his shock.
“Did you break his spell?” Gimli asked.
“No, he let me go of his own validation,” Aragorn said. He looked at the man in front of him, the man who was a dragon, a dragon who used magic.
“What’s it to be?” James asked. “Do we keep fighting or not?”
Aragorn breathed slowly, trying to calm his mind, and clear it of any possibility that this man-dragon had planted a spell in his mind. He looked the person over: he clearly wasn’t as good with a sword as the other was, though he’d had some experience with it. Aragorn then looked at the others; the wolf was still in good shape, as was the archer, and the other human had caught his breath by now. He then looked at his friends, and thought about what would happen if the man-dragon decided to cast his spell upon all of them. There was only one thing he could do to save them. “Legalos, Gimli, Frodo, sheath your weapons,” he said, sheathing his sword.
“Why?” Gimli asked. “We can take them.”
“We’d only get ourselves killed for no reason,” Aragorn said. “This one is not what he appears to be.”
“Wisely stated,” James said. “Hob!”
The hobgoblin floated over on a cloud of smoke. “Yes m’Lord?”
“Follow me,” James said, as he walked towards the other members of the Fellowship.
“Are we going to just let them go near the Ring?” Gimli asked.
“Fight him if you want,” Aragorn said. “Just don’t complain to me if you end up in the position I was.”
James stopped in front of Legalos, and held up his hand. “I believe this belongs to you.” Legalos’ arrow appeared in his hand, and he gave it to the elf. “The next time you shoot an arrow, make sure that the person on the other side is a rightful target. As it is, I believe that you owe Hob an apology.”
“You’re very strange,” said Legalos. “You’re armed with a sword you don’t use well, but you can use magic to stop a powerful warrior from killing your friend. Something tells me that you used other magics as well; Aragorn doesn’t give up that easily.”
“I am more than I appear to be,” said James. “My friend is still waiting on that apology.”
Legalos looked at the hobgoblin, who was floating by James, his arms and legs crossed, with a serious expression on his face. “I’m sorry for shooting you; a bunch of goblins have been giving us problems, and we thought that you were one of them.”
Hob’s face cracked into a smile, and he burst out laughing. “I’m so sorry, but I just couldn’t take holding that pose for much longer; it’s not like me.” He then stopped laughing long enough to compose himself. “Apology accepted; I couldn’t hold a grudge against you anyways, it’s not in my nature. How about I take you on a ride on the smoke, so that you can see that I meant you no harm?”
“Later Hob,” James said. “Get back with the others.”
“Yes m’Lord.” The hobgoblin floated off.
“Your friend is very strange,” Legalos said. “He doesn’t hold a grudge?”
“It’s not in the nature of a Hobgoblin to hold a grudge against anyone,” James said. “The only exception is, perhaps, against Deep-Earth goblins, for killing those like them, and kicking the Hobgoblins out of the rest of the Goblin Kingdom. Hob and others like him are happiest when they make sad people happy.” James then turned to Frodo. “Now, what are you? The elf and dwarf I know of from stories spoken of in my homeland, but none say anything about creatures such as yourself.”
“I’m a Hobbit,” Frodo said. “We tend to live in a place called the Shire, and very rarely travel far from it.”
“So, why are you out this way?”
“To destroy this.” Frodo held out the Ring on a thin chain.
James gulped as he actually looked at it; one didn’t have to know much in the ways of Magic to feel the Evil that was inside the item. “How?”
“By tossing it into the very fires of Mordor itself,” Frodo said, as he put the Ring back inside his shirt. “However, it’s a very difficult journey, and is very taxing on one’s Will.”
“I can believe that,” James said. He then took a look at Legalos. “Exactly, what does your journey consist of?”
“We’ve had to fight one horde of orks after another,” the elf said. “As it is, the toughest part is yet to come.”
“Hmm, who among you is the leader of the group?”
“That would be Aragorn, the human over there.”
“Good to know,” James said, as he walked away.
Eventually, he stopped before Aragorn. “It looks to me that we are on the same side; you’re off to fight a force of Great Evil, just as I’m off to fight a force of Great Evil.”
“What’s your point?” Aragorn asked.
“I’m suggesting that we join forces; both of our groups are no slouches when it comes to fighting, you yourself can attest to that,” James said. “You could use us, just as we could use you.”
“How do you figure that?”
“Let’s walk a ways.”
The two walked down the road a bit.
“Dayfdd, our archer, is one of the best, if not the Best, in all of Wales,” James said. “As you witnessed, he can hit his mark from half a mile- your archer-”
“Legalos, missed his mark at half that distance, though Hob tends to move fast on the smoke, so hitting him would be luck in most anyone’s book, not that people would try such a thing, given our most recent battle where the Hobgoblins aided the Prince in battle against an evil group of goblins. Then there’s Brian; as you’ve seen personally, he’s very good with a sword, one of the best in all of England. Granted, he can be a little hotheaded at times, but there’s none better to have at your side, except maybe Aargh. That wolf’s a good asset to have- he’s worth any five men armed with swords and spears in a battle, as your dwarf friend-”
“Gimli, found out. Furthermore, he can scout out positions without being detected; it was he that found you in the first place, not Hob. Then there’s me, James- a knight, who is a mage, who is also a dragon.”
“Can you really turn yourself into a dragon?”
James smiled. “That’s one ability I have that doesn’t require magic for- It’s a Natural ability, just like Hob’s ability to control smoke- it’s something I can do, even if I don’t know the exact reason why, though I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that when I first came to this world, I ended up in the body of a dragon.”
“How’d that happen?” Aragorn said.
“To put it in words that you’d understand, you could say that there was some misuse of magic- first my wife came here- completely whole and healthy, and then me- however, my spirit was separated from my body, and I ended up possessing the body of a dragon- he wasn’t happy about that, but sense, through my actions, he was considered a Hero, like me and the rest of my friends, due to our experiences in fighting the Dark Powers, he can’t complain too much, and even the rest of the dragon community respects him more.”
“So, what can you do?”
“My magical abilities include illusions, telepathy- talking to you inside of your head that is, teleportation, shields, holding people in position, some of which you’ve experienced,” James said. “Of course, here’s one you’ll find beneficial for sure.”
Suddenly, Aragorn felt some minor pain, as his rib bones got back into their proper position, and knitted themselves together. “What was that?”
“Fixed your rib,” James said. “Brian gave you a good pounding there, in spite of your best efforts at protecting yourself.”
“I’m surprised that you noticed that,” said Aragorn.
“I know Brian, he likes to batter a person’s ribs to pieces,” James said. “It’s about the most effective way to defeat someone wearing armor, especially if you plan on taking them prisoner.”
“And your dragon abilities?”
“Flying, see and hear long distances, not to mention smell them, good tolerance to cold, good restorative abilities, and a high resistance to the effects of alcohol.”
“I can drink a great deal of wine, and not get drunk. However, I can’t breathe fire; that species can’t do that.”
“Ah. In that case, I accept your offer,” Aragorn said. “We’ll join forces, and help each other out.”
James smiled. “Good to hear.” He held out his hand, and Aragorn clasped him behind the wrist, and he did the same. “Let’s tell the others.”
Aragorn smiled. “By the way, can you really turn others into dragons?”
James chuckled. “I’ve done that a few times, with my wife and Brian.”
“Might come in handy. We could fight our enemies like that. Of course, I wouldn’t do that around Gimli; his kind has reasons to fear, and hate, dragons.”
“Not unless you know how to fight as a dragon- took me a bit to learn that.”
The two of them walked back to where the battle had been, and called the others over.
“Gentlemen, we have come to an arrangement,” James said.
“We shall join forces, and work together to defeat the Forces of Evil that are our common enemies,” said Aragorn.
“This calls for some wine, and a feast,” Brian said with a hearty laugh.
“Go easy on the wine, Brian,” James said. “We’ll want to be clear-headed in the battle-to come.”
“You expect me to fight alongside a wolf?” Gimli asked. “Why are we working with some sorcerer?”
Aargh growled at this, causing Gimli to jump back. “I’m not happy about working with you either, but if you call James a sorcerer again, I’ll tear your throat out.”
“He means it,” said James.
“I’m not going to apologize to you,” Gimli muttered.
“You don’t have to,” James said. “I’ll just withhold my healing magic from you; maybe getting your injuries infected will teach you a lesson or two.” At this, James waved his hand, and Dayfdd, Brian, Aargh, and even Legalos were healed of the injuries they’d sustained in the skirmish.
Gimli’s eyes widened in shock as he saw this. “How can you do this?”
“Because I can,” James said. “Just be glad I don’t consider your actions bad enough to turn you into a beetle; that’s within my capabilities. Of course, I could haunt you with nightmares of your deepest and darkest fears; dragons coming to steal what’s yours, and taking it away while you’re unable to do anything.”
Gimli gulped as he heard this. “Please, wizard, don’t haunt my dreams with those visions.”
“Then apologize for being the cause of the fight; Legalos apologized for his involvement, now it’s your turn.”
Gimli looked at the elf, who had an amused look on his face. “Very well, I’ll apologize, but only if this is never spoken of to anyone.”
“Works for me,” said James.
“I’m sorry for causing the fight, and incurring the wrath of you and your fighters,” said Gimli. “Does this satisfy you?”
“It does,” James said, as he waved his hand, healing the dwarf.
“Well done my Apprentice,” said a familiar voice. “Well done.”
“Well done indeed,” said another voice, one that put a smile on Aragorn and Legalos’ faces, as well as that of Frodo and Gimli.
At this, Carolinus and Gandalf revealed themselves, both holding onto a leafy twig.
“This trick sure is useful,” said Gandalf.
“I told you that my James and his friends were good fighters,” Carolinus said.
“And you were right,” said Gandalf. “Just as good as my friends.”
“The little one could use some improvement.”
“Hobbits are never ones for fighting.”
“True, you’ll always have those.”
The two walked to the others.
“I’ve heard many things about you,” said Gandalf as he looked at James. “Ogres, wizards, pirates, sea serpents, demons; all have fallen at your hands.”
James blushed; it wasn’t the first time that someone had exaggerated his role. “Please, I’d be nothing if it wasn’t for my friends; they’ve done most of the work.”
Gandalf laughed. “And he’s modest as well; making his friends’ contributions just as important, if not more important, than his own.”
“That’s a habit of his, Great Mage,” said Hob. “It’s why I like him more than most other humans I’ve known; he’s always kind, honest, friendly, forgiving, doesn’t chase you with a knife or broom and-”
“Hob, mind the horses,” James said.
“As it is, I’ll have to test you,” Gandalf said.
“You and me- we’ll test each other’s abilities- I was able to best your teacher, but he claims that you could best me.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Think of it as a learning experience,” said Carolinus. “You could use it as a way of learning how to protect yourself against someone more powerful than even me.”
James gulped as he looked at Gandalf. It would be like pitting an Army Recruit against a Marine Drill Sergeant, and putting your money on the Recruit- Long odds. Of course, he’d faced long odds before, and come out ahead.
“Alright,” he said. “Any restrictions?”
“Anything goes except killing each other,” said Gandalf.
James chuckled nervously. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come that close.”
Wizard Versus Dragon
James looked at Carolinus, and then looked back at Gandalf. “You wouldn’t mind if my teacher and I, along with my Companions, talk with each other for a bit; we’ve been sort of worried about Carolinus ever since he didn’t show up until just now.”
Gandalf nodded. “I don’t mind waiting.”
James and his Master-in-Magic walked over to the others of their group.
“So, you and this other Mage will have a Play Fight,” Brian said.
“To be correct, Gandalf is not a Mage, or a Sorcerer, nor a Warlock, in such manner as I’d call them,” Carolinus said. “Most Men call him a Wizard, but he’s not like those in our sense of the word, except in one fashion; he can use his magic for offensive purposes.”
“Do I have a chance at beating him?” James asked.
Carolinus grinned. “Head to head, you’d fare just as well as a one-year old wolf would against Aargh, and his over twenty years of experience fighting other wolves, bears, and boars, to say nothing of other creatures. However, you’ve got that otherworldly knowledge in your head; you can think of things he wouldn’t. Also, you can turn into a dragon; that body is immune to any magic directed against it- he can’t still you, burn you, or attack you, directly. Of course, if he’s smart, he’ll use magic on the area around you, in order to slow you, or cause you to fall into a pit.”
James grinned. “That’s good to know. As it is, I have the beginnings of a plan. Could you do me a favor, and make it so that he can see, or hear, any of us, even with magic?”
“Teach your grandmother to suck eggs,” Carolinus muttered. “You could do that yourself.”
“I know, but you could resist him a little better if he should try to pierce the spell than I would,” James said. “As it is, I want to give him the surprise of his life, just in case he does beat me.” He transmitted his plan to the elder Mage using a mental communication spell.
Carolinus chuckled. “You remind me of when I was young. There! He cannot see or hear any of us, and neither can the others for that matter.”
“Good,” James said. He then looked at the others. “I’ll need two leafy twigs from those bushes, and Dayfdd, I want one of your arrows, preferably a junk arrow.”
“What do you want those for?” Brian asked. “Not to offend Dayfdd here, but you’re not an archer.”
“That’s because I have a little surprise for my opponent, just in case he does defeat me.” James then told the others his plan, and a very mischievous grin appeared on Aargh’s face.
“I can see the merits of this plan,” the wolf said. “I’m fine with it.”
“Very well,” said Dayfdd. “I shall play my part.”
“And I shall do my duty to you,” Brian said, slamming his armored fist over his chest, about where he thought his heart was.
“Good,” said James. “Let’s get to work.”
Meanwhile, Gandalf was watching where the group was, or should be, and a grin came to his face. “The young man is clever.”
“What is it?” Aragorn asked.
“The young one convinced his Master to ward the area from any spell I could use to spy upon his plans,” Gandalf said. “This tells me that he’s planning something.”
“Something tells me that he’ll show you his true form.”
“His true form?”
“He calls himself the Dragon Knight, and for a very good reason.”
Gandalf smiled. “I guess there was a reason that Carolinus said that James wouldn’t be as easy as he was.”
Carolinus lowered his spell, and watched as James left the others, as Brian, Dayfdd, and Aargh stayed by the Mage. He looked at the other three. “Be ready for James’ signal, and remember not to move if you don’t have to Brian.” The knight nodded, as did the archer and the wolf.
Soon enough, Gandalf and James were facing each other, their swords drawn. Gandalf held onto Glamdring with one hand, and his staff in the other. James held onto his steel sword with his right, and wore his shield on the left. Both looked into each other’s eyes, looking for an edge.
“I can tell that you don’t have much experience at this,” Gandalf said. “I’ve used my sword for better than seven decades, and I’ve killed more than a few foes with it.”
“I might not be the expert that you are, and maybe you will win the fight,” James said. “But I’ll prove to you that I’m not an easy foe to fight.”
James rushed the wizard, and swung his sword, hoping to end the fight fairly quickly. Gandalf merely swung his staff, and knocked James’ sword out of his hands. He then swung his sword at the young knight’s neck, and would have done some serious damage, if not for one word coming from James’ lips- “Still!” Gandalf found himself unable to move.
“Very clever,” the wizard thought, as James ran to retrieve his sword. “But not clever enough.” He used a counter-spell, and was able to move again.
James picked up his sword, and was somewhat astonished to find his foe walking towards him. Then he grinned, saying, “I guess Carolinus wasn’t exaggerating your powers. Maybe you can beat me, if I were to rely on just magic and swords alone.”
“That I can,” Gandalf said. “Of course, it’s not just magic that you have.”
“Nope!” At once, James the Mage-Knight was gone, and in his place was James the Dragon.
Gimli bit back a curse. “He’s a dragon?”
“I told you that you didn’t want to fight him,” Aragorn said, as Legalos grinned.
James then once again rushed the wizard, and struck him with his claws, sending the older man flying some distance. He then took to the air, and flew around the area, bent on locating his prey. The next thing he knew, a force of air was sending him in the opposite direction. James flapped his wings heavily, and managed to right himself. He then flew around the disturbance, and managed to locate the wizard. “You’re mine!” he roared.
Gandalf watched as the dragon flew towards him, his ribs aching. Curiously, the dragon-James didn’t breathe fire, not that it really mattered, as he was very strong. To protect himself, Gandalf casted his shield, which James crashed against. The dragon shook his head, looked at Gandalf, and then swung his claws- this time going through the shield, forcing Gandalf back. “How’d you do that?” the wizard asked.
James chuckled. “I tricked your shield into thinking that I was you- used a similar spell to deal with some enchantments a Rogue Mage had set up when he imprisoned the English Prince.”
“I’ll have to remedy that!” Gandalf shouted, as he slammed his staff upon the ground, opening a hole under James. However, the dragon flapped in midair, so Gandalf used another spell that forced James to fall into the hole.
“I won’t be beaten that easily!” James shouted, as he began to climb.
Gandalf watched as the dragon climbed the rock face. “I don’t think so.” Using his sword to channel the spell, Gandalf began sending down lightning bolt after lightning bolt, striking the sides, causing pieces to fall and hit James, who managed to hold onto the wall by digging his claws into the rock. Then Gandalf aimed a lightning bolt directly at the dragon, causing his muscles to contract in pain, and the surrounding rock to break, which caused James to fall down into the darkness.
“That’s a deep grave!” Carolinus snapped at Gandalf, as he appeared before the wizard, with James- still in his dragon form- unconscious, beside him. “You’re lucky I got to him in time!” The Mage opened James’ eye, and then the other. He then looked at Gandalf. “Nothing too serious; he’ll be up momentarily.”
Just as he finished speaking, James gave a groan, and got to his feet. “What happened?”
“You only got hit by a bolt a lightning that should have fried most people, and almost fell to your death, if not for me teleporting you to safety,” Carolinus snapped. “In short, you lost the fight.”
James shook himself. “Got it.” He then turned back into his human form, and looked at Gandalf. “The sparring match was most instructive; I won’t get caught off-guard like that again.”
“I learned a little myself,” Gandalf said. “You almost got me when you tricked my shield spell.”
“Still, you won, fair and square.”
“That I did,” Gandalf said with a smile.
Fellowship is Victorious!
“Of course, if my intentions were to kill you, you would not be walking away intact,” said James. “Now!”
Gandalf felt himself being struck to the ground by a heavy object, and he saw an arrow sticking half its length into the ground, still quivering. He could feel, and smell, the warm moist breath of a wolf coming onto his face. “How did you do this?” He then looked above him, then at the arrow, and then towards where Brian and the other two Companions stood. “Oh, I see now.” The wizard began to laugh. “You can tell the wolf to get off of me, and reveal the tricks you used.”
James smiled. “Dayfdd, help Aargh to remove his leafy twig. Brian, you can toss that broken arrow away.”
At this, Brian removed the snapped arrow from his helmet, and tossed the pieces away, which caused Dayfdd and Aargh to vanish. However, the archer and wolf soon reappeared by Gandalf, the archer holding onto two leafy twigs, one had a length of bowstring around it, just long enough to be tied around Aargh’s sides. Aargh got off of the wizard, allowing him to get up.
“You set up an ambush for me,” Gandalf said with a smile. “You set it so that I was focused upon you instead of your friends, who probably would have done me some serious harm.”
“We’re closer than brothers,” James said with a smile. “We’re the sort who’d take a bullet meant for one of the others.”
Gandalf blinked at this. “What did you say?”
“It’s something from his homeland,” Carolinus muttered. “In short, they’d put their own lives at risk to protect each other.”
“I can understand that feeling,” Gandalf said.
“Good,” said Carolinus. “Because time is drawing short; the Dark Powers are sending their forces towards us, along with the forces of Sauron. They will be here within an hour.”
“They’re coming here?” Frodo asked, as he and the others came forward. “What do we do? There’s no way that the Army of Free Peoples can get here in time.”
“Same goes for the English army and its allies,” said Brian.
“We’ll hold them here!” James said, in a determined and commanding voice. “We must buy time for our respective armies to get here, and assemble for battle, not to mention get into formation, and know who is friend and who is foe.”
“We’re with you James,” said Aragorn. “What’s your recommendation?”
James looked at the bridge. “We block the bridge in such a way, that only a few can get through at a time, so that we can pick off any who manage to get to our side. Also, we have to make sure it’s blocked at a far distance from here. Once our armies are here, we can remove the blockage, and slowly move forward, crushing any who try to attack our homes.”
“I hope there’s plenty for me to kill,” said Gimli.
“You can stay with the horses if you get scared,” said Legalos.
“James, I take it that you want me and our one friend here to whittle the foes down with our bows and arrows,” said Dayfdd.
“Yes,” said James. “Just know that you can use my spare sword Dayfdd. I have a feeling that you’ll need it.”
Dayfdd grinned. “Always happens in such cases.”
“Good,” said James. “Carolinus, defend us from those who’d use magic, or some such thing. Gandalf, kill those who use those abilities against us, and as for the rest of us, we’ll deal with any who get through.”
“What about the Ring?” Frodo asked. “We must destroy it in order to win.”
“M’Lord?” asked the hobgoblin.
“Do you think that you can take him with you on the smoke to where he has to go?”
“He’s light enough, so yes, I could.”
“Will you do it?”
“Yes m’Lord, I will not let you down.”
“Good, then take him now, and make sure that you fly in such a way, that you avoid most of the forces coming towards us.”
“We’ll not fail you.” Hob then grabbed a hold of Frodo’s hand. “Come, it will be fun.” In almost no time, the two were out of sight as they rode on the smoke.
“What do you think their chances are?” Aragorn asked.
James smiled. “Hob can sneak into any place he wants to; probably be done before we know it.”
Aragorn grinned. “Then let’s make sure that our enemies don’t know it until it’s too late.”
James turned, and saw the dust clouds in the distance. “I just hope that we’ll be enough.”
To be Continued!?