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Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Fantasy · #1945126
Continues from Part 1
         The dragon roared once again and the knights yelled behind the four mages, rushing around them, eager to deliver their blades into the beast. It growled and swiped its claw, knocking some of the knights away. They ran towards it and some kept running to where they were under it, and behind it. Attacking its stomach and hind legs. Their steel swords didn’t affect it that well however, and they bounced off its strong scales.
         Behind them, on the castle walls, the guards sent bullets and cannons at the dragon, those did more damage and the bullets tore its wings and the cannon balls knocked it back and forth.
         “Hell we can’t let them do all the work.” Rynn said in his cocky voice, running forward, fire ball already in hand.
         The brown robed mage through the fire ball at the dragon and it exploded on its right front leg. The beast roared and pulled back.
         Rynn turned and smiled at the others, laughing somewhat maniacally. William answered this by rushing forward, sending a lightning bolt at the dragon.
         Their magic worked wonders and the dragon flinched at the bright blue and orange magic spells.
         “We have to do something.” Laela yelled to Nicholas.
         “You know the lightning spell?” Nicholas asked sarcastically.
         Laela sneered and rushed towards one of the fallen knights. She bent down to him and asked him where it hurt.
         “My leg, ugh I think it’s broken.” The knight answered.
         Laela placed her hands on the broken limb and mumbled. “Da mihi virtutem sanandi.” The blue light formed in her palms and the light circled around the injured knight’s leg, reattaching the broken bone and healing any injured flesh under the armor.
         The knights stood after the wound healed, without a word, and rushed the dragon, steel sword and shield back in hand. Laela smiled at the knight’s bravery, then followed up by moving onto another injured knight. Nicholas did the same.
         The dragon growled but, was interrupted by a cannon ball that slammed into its face, managing to knock one of its fangs out. It roared loudly and flew up towards the castle, breathing fire onto the wall, killing several of the gunners and destroying some of the cannons. Laela didn’t know what it was planning because, now the dragon was in between the small army and castle.
         Nicholas was close to the beast, he was healing a knight when it moved. To Laela’s horror the dragon reared back its head and prepared to use its infamous attack. Laela turned her head, not wanting to see the brave knights and her friend be burned alive. She heard the scorching sound and a roar as the fire left to monster’s mouth. To her surprise however, there was no screams.
         She looked at the beast and, to her shock, Nicholas was using Magic Barrier. He held his hands up strong as the magic destroyed the fire and sent it away from him, and all of the knights behind him.
         While Nicholas was using the advanced spell Laela heard one of the knights yell “fire” and the shooters sent a fray of bullets and fire balls at the black dragon. The ground exploded around it and it roared in pain.
         “Hell yeah, I knew you clerics would come in handy.” Rynn laughed. Having a little too much fun with the fighting.
         The beast glared up at the shooters and began to fly towards them, ready to burn them all. As it flapped its wings to gain height Rynn chucked another fireball at the dragon. He struck it in its left wing and sent it off balance. William followed this up by shocking it with Lightning Bolt. This caused the monster to fall down onto its back. The knights cheered and rushed towards it, digging their swords into its exposed stomach.
         The dragon rolled back over, knocking the attacking knights away. It looked at the mages and knights with hatred and roared.
         “Whiny bitch ain’t ya?” Rynn mocked as he threw another fire ball at the beast.
         This one connected with the dragon’s mouth and it sent the beast in a rage of fury. It jerked its back and forth, putting the fire out and then it roared again, this time in pure hatred. It glared at Rynn but, instead of attacking him, it drew back on its hind legs and sent its fiery breath into the castle, killing some more guards.
         To Laela’s horror she realized its goal. It sent all of its body weight down onto its front and slammed itself onto the ground, sending knights and William flying. William connected with the ground and Laela started to rush towards him to help. The mage didn’t need help however, he stood right back up and prepared another lightning bolt. A lot of the other knights did too, with only a few getting broken bones.
         The dragon leaned back and sent another storm of fire at the knights that again was blocked by Nicholas who used Magic Barrier. Laela gave Nicholas a hateful look. She was jealous that the mage had learned the barrier spell before her. She shook off her anger though and focused on the giant beast from legends.
         Before anyone could attack again the dragon began to roar. It seemed to get louder as the short seconds passed. Then, without warning, it turned and charged down the street away from the army of knights.
         “After it men!” A knight yelled.
         The army of knights charged after the dragons. Laela and the other mages followed too.
         “What the hell was that?” Laela asked Nicholas.
         “What?” Nicholas asked confused.
         “The magic barrier. When did you learn that?”
         Nicholas shook his head. “That took me a year to get down, another six months to get it good. You failed once and think I’m better than you?”
         Laela felt bad after that, she figured her friend probably lost respect for her after that comment. She wanted to talk about it with him but, right now wasn’t the best time.
         The dragon had turned and breathed fire down the street to the right of them. Laela didn’t know what it was attacking but, ignored it.
         The knights reached it first and began attacking its legs. It roared in frustration and whipped its tail at the knights. It clipped a handful of them and sent them flying into a building. It placed its head down to see better behind it, and as it did a knight came around the corner, no helmet and one arm broken. The knights pushed forward and threw his sword into the beasts right eye.
         The roar it let out was so unimaginably loud and horrible that it made everyone, even the knights cringe. The dragon was clearly a beast that wasn’t used to pain and as a result was affected doubly by it.
         The beast turned and roared at them all. It looked back down the street, where it had ran to in the first place, and as it did left an opening on its injured eye.
         William took this time to use the blade as a conductor. Since it was metal, William knew that his lightning bolt would draw to it. He mumbled the spell and unleashed his full power onto the blade. The tip of the bolt connected cleanly with the handle of the sword and the dragon roared and thrashed as the bolt electrocuted its head.
         The beast lowered its head as the spell took affect, and the knights rushed it. They saw how easily it was harmed when the one knight attacked its eye so they all knew where to attack now.
         The dragon had been shot by muskets, burned by fire balls, shocked by the lightning bolt, knocked around by cannon balls and hacked away at by swords. Not to mention being partially blinded. It didn’t take long to kill it. Rynn and William continued burning and shocking it. The knights destroyed its other eye and used their weight to push the sword deeper and deeper into its head. Something happened. Maybe one of the swords hit its brain, maybe one of the spells burned its way to its heart. No one knew, all they knew was that it was dead.
         After the final blow that ended the mystical beast’s life it reared its back and roared once again at the night sky, the full moon just behind it, rising for the night. As it growled in defeat its scales began to fall off, burning into nothing as they did. The flames they produced were a beautiful dark purple and each and every scale did this. The dragon stopped roaring as its scales burned away and its skeleton was shown. The bones of the beast began to wither away too. Cracking as the rest of the dragons body was engulfed in the purple fire. As pieces of its bone fell off , they turned to dust that either vanished or was swiped away by the wind.
         Within minutes the mighty beast vanished into nothing. The knights, and Rynn, cheered triumphantly. Raising their swords in the air.
         The dragon was dead.

         “Yeah!” Sajume roared when the dragon burned away. “They did it did you guys! See that they killed a dragon!”
         Ynin barked happily at his master.
         “Dad!” Jest yelled, running to the cheering knights to hug his father proudly.
         Sajume ran after him.
         “Guys wait!” Yerl yelled, following his friends.
         Sajume stopped in his tracks though. He remembered his sword. He looked down at the wooden toy and noticed the words had stopped glowing. They now held that same black color they always had. He had always thought they were black from paint but, maybe it was something else.
         He didn’t have time to think about it though, for Aldar came towards the young boys. His arm was healed now, probably from the mages, and he had Jest on his shoulder who was raising his wooden sword up with the other knights as the cheered. Jest’s father was in a much better mood now and greeted Sajume by petting his head playfully.
         Hammerclaw had won.

         “Do your mothers know you’re here?” Aldar asked as he passed plates of food to the boys.
         The boys looked at each other scared. They just now remembered that they left their mothers without warning.
         Aldar laughed at them. “You’re just like your fathers.” He clapped Yerl on the back and ordered a cup of ale. “You’ll get punished for this you know?”
         The boys nodded glumly.
         Aldar laughed again. “You’re probably the only boys in the nine kingdoms who’d be sad after seeing a dragon be killed.”
         Sajume smiled. He was close to Aldar and always enjoyed listening to the knight talk. He reminded him of his uncle‘s friend.
         “Do you have anything to drink?” Yerl asked.
         “Not unless you’re feeling like getting drunk.” Aldar laughed.
         Sajume smiled. “We can have ale?”
         “No.” Aldar said.
         “Oh come on!” A voice called. “Let the boys have a cup.”
         The four turned and saw the mage dressed in brown. He had a cup of ale in one hand, a peasant woman in the other.
         “I’m sorry I don’t think I know you.” Aldar said to the drunken mage.
         “I am Rynn of Blackhall.” The mage followed it up with a burp. “And you knights are my new best friends!” He cheered and raised his ale in the air, he was met with cheers from the knights, but embarrassed glares from his fellow mages.
         “Those three don’t look amused.” Aldar noted.
         “Bunch o’ uptight rich kids.” Rynn burped. “Not too bad though, I know the one in black ‘ill whip me good when we leave.”
         “Where are you-?” Before Aldar could finish the mage turned and began singing drunkenly to the woman, nearly tripping over nothing on his way.
         Aldar looked at the kids confused. “Excuse me.” He said to a service woman. “How many cups of ale has that man had?”
         “Three sir.” The woman answered.
         Then Aldar laughed at the mage, and the boys did too.
         While they laughed Rynn who failed at wooing the woman, the king of Hammerclaw entered the room. He had his own table and golden chair sat in place where he took his seat.
         “My fellow knights.” King Beltan the third said to the royal guards. “This is the finest victory Hammerclaw has ever had the honor of seeing.
         The knights responded with a victorious cheer. They raised their glasses of ale in the air, and quieted promptly as the king continued.
         “This is the time to celebrate so I wont spoil it for us.” Beltan said. “But, a dragon just attacked our great city. A beast from legend. This isn’t to be taken lightly and is definitely not to be dismissed.”
         The guards mumbled amongst themselves.
         “There have been rumors of a dragon egg on a mountain to the north, I will send a small group of you to go there with our new friends.” Beltan motioned to the three mages sitting in the corner.
         “Now, enough business talk.” Beltan clapped. Then he grabbed a cup of ale and raised it in the air. “This is a night for celebration!” He yelled.
         With that the knights cheered and no one slept till morning.
         “Where have you been!?” Calene yelled at Sajume.
         “Mom, I wasn’t in danger.” Sajume answered to his mother.
         When Aldar first brought the boy back to his mother she cried and held him in her arms. Then she grew furious and slapped in across the face and started yelling.
         “There were cannons, and guns. You know you’re not supposed to go anywhere when you hear them.” Calene responded. She also began crying again.
         “Mom I’m sorry.”
         “Sorry doesn’t come close to it. I thought you were dead, Sajume.” She wept.
         Sajume sat uncomfortably. Ynin was next to him on the floor, panting and looking up at his master. Carefree and completely oblivious to what they were fighting about. Sajume looked at his dog sadly. He knew it was wrong but, he couldn’t help himself. None of the boys could.
         Sajume sighed. “Please stop crying mom, I’m fine honest. Not a scratch.”
         “There was a dragon! Get that through your head. It wouldn’t scratch you it would burn you, crush you eat you I don’t know.” She fell into another crying fit and went into her bedroom, leaving Sajume and Ynin in the kitchen.

         “At least your mother only slapped you once.” Yerl said. “Mine basically assaulted me. Did worse than that dragon that’s for sure.”          
         Sajume and Jest laughed at their friend. He didn’t think it was so funny but, laughed about it with his friends anyway. Like Aldar had said, it was hard to feel sour after they had just seen a dragon.
         “How was your mother?” Sajume asked Jest.
         “She only cried a little when Dad and me got home. He hugged her and said everything was fine. She was okay within a few minutes.” Jest answered smiling.
         “Lucky bastard.” Sajume joked.
         Jest got off easy for one reason though. His father was still alive. His mother hadn’t experienced the pain of losing a husband. For Sajume and Yerl, they were all their mothers had.
         The three boys walked around the streets of Ardenti. They liked their small town but, every now and then they’d glance over at the large Castle Hammerclaw. Thinking about their future, the busy streets and, of course, the fire breathing monster from legends.
         They were heading to a lake that they would play around some days. However, as they walked in the direction of the water, Sajume noticed four familiar faces approaching them. Beside them were four knights that Sajume didn’t recognize. They walked towards the boys with intent in their eyes.
         They were the four mages from Blackhall.

         The knights raised their glasses as the cheered in the king’s dining room. Laela, William and Nicholas sat in the corner, out of place and focusing on the tasks at hand.
         “Look at him.” William huffed.
         They were looking at Rynn. The brown robed mage was drinking a cup of ale, forbidden in the school of magic but, outside there was little they could do.
         “He’s going to give us scholars a bad name.” Nicholas agreed.
         “We already have a bad name.” Laela added.
         The two looked at her confused.
         “You heard the innkeeper.” She reminded them. “To people here we’re a bunch of spoiled rich kids.”
         “Well we can’t say this because of one person.” Nicholas tried to reason.
         “Oh come on, Nicholas.” Laela said. “You think it’s just one person who thinks this? How many here do you think thinks that? Also, how many people who aren’t in the Blackhall School thinks that?”
         Nicholas and William didn’t answer.
         They looked over at their friend, Rynn. He was drunk and talking to three boys and a knight. William and Nicholas shot him a dirty look but, when he ignored them they resumed their conversation.
         “Look, don’t feel like you have to prove anything to these people.” Nicholas tried to comfort her.
         “What the hell are you talking about?” She asked offended.
         “Look Laela I wasn’t trying to-.” Nicholas started.
         “You know what? Save it, I don’t want to hear anything you have to save.” Laela interrupted him.
         Before he could argue any further the room silenced. The three mages looked over to see what the problem was. It wasn’t a problem though, it was their king. The man wore a long dark blue robe laced with a golden edge. He also had a long white beard similar to Rolof’s. He stood in front of his golden chair, preparing to give his speech. In his hand was his golden goblet, filled with ale. ‘Gold, gold, gold. It’s like it’s supposed to symbolize something,’ Laela thought, remembering her large house in Blackhall that she didn’t miss the slightest.
         The king gave his speech and even said he’d send along knights with the mages. They really didn’t want the soldiers but, it wasn’t proper to disobey a king, even if he wasn’t yours.
         After the king left the party resumed. There was music, ale and women dancing around. It made the mages sick, well all but Rynn who joined in happily in the songs and drinking.
         “By the gods they’re like animals.” William huffed.
         “A bunch of brutes.” Nicholas agreed, watching the guards in horror.
         “This would be unheard of in our school.” William noted.
         “It will make a good story over tea.” Nicholas laughed though.
         After listening to the two “nobles” complain about their guests she stood and went out to the balcony.

         It was night time now, the moon resting gently in the black sky, stars littering the dark void. Laela was confused. She didn’t want to drink and dance with the knights but, she didn’t want to talk down to them and talk about studying and tea. She removed her hood and let her dark brown hair down. A cool, gentle breeze pulled it back and refreshed her as she looked over the city of Hammerclaw. She could see candles lit and people walking about, even during the night it was the busiest place you could be.
         “Fun huh?” A voice said behind her.
         She turned her head with mild interest, expecting a drunken, dirty knight looking for a happy ending.
         She was half right. It was a knight but, he had short blonde hair a thin beard. Unlike most of the others who had thick dirty dark hair. He stood straight too so, she figured he wasn’t drunk. He wasn’t wearing armor but, she knew he was a knight because, only royal guards were allowed in the king’s chamber. All of the waiters were women too. Only a few rare quests were allowed like the mages and children tonight.
         Laela didn’t respond and looked back out at the city. The man approached her and rested his arms on the balcony rails like Laela. He was holding two cups of ale and smiled at the mage.
         “Look, I actually came out here to be alone.” Laela said.
         “I figured but, that’s no way to be during a celebration.” He said. “I’m Aaron by the way.”
         Laela didn’t respond.
         “Have you ever had any?” Aaron asked, raising a cup of ale.
         “No.” She said.
         “Try some.” He handed her the glass.
         She looked inside at the liquid. She had never tried anything other than water or tea. Usually she would have denied it and ignored the knight but, after hearing William and Nicholas she was having second thought about being a scholar. She raised the glass to her lips and sipped the drink.
         It was foul and burned her mouth as it went down but, she fought off the urge to make a big deal out of it. She set the glass down and looked away from the knight, trying to force the poison down.
         Aaron laughed. “Don’t feel bad, you handle it better than a lot of others do their first time.”
         She managed not to throw up and looked at the knight with slight anger.
         “How do you drink that?” She asked, honestly unsure how they drink it regularly.
         “Take another sip, the first time you drink it it’s foul.” Aaron assured her.
         She looked at the drink reluctantly but, without much urging, finally took another sip. The second drink was so much better for some reason. Laela was unsure of why the drink suddenly tasted better but, after she took an actual drink she found an odd love for the alcohol. She smiled at Aaron and the two went back inside to join the others in the celebration the kingdom had after every victory.

         “They say that it was glowing.” A voice said.
         “It’s a wooden sword, how the hell was it glowing?” Another said.
         Laela set up, as she did her head ached badly and she fell back down. As she opened her eyes the bright light blinded her and she placed her arm over her eyes. She grumbled as she rolled over, her stomach began aching too, as she remembered she hadn’t eaten since getting to Hammerclaw, or maybe she ate last night she couldn’t remember.
         “Ah, we got us a live one.” The second voice laughed.
         Laela looked over at the people who were talking. Both were knights, still wearing their armor. One had a long, curly brown beard, the other had a dark brown beard. Both were holding a goblet of ale and drinking happily as they watched the mage awaken.
         “I remember the first time I had ale.” One of them boasted.
         “We all remember that night.” The other one said. Then they laughed.
         Their laughing made Laela’s head hurt even worse and she placed her hands on her ears to try to block out their loud laughs.
         Finally, Laela set up. She was in the king’s dining room. There was food and cups and sleeping knights and women all over the floor. Laela leaned herself against the wall and looked at the two knights.
         “What were you two saying?” She asked.
         “Ah, eavesdropping huh?” One of them laughed.
         She sighed in confusion and tiredness.
         “Some people say they saw one of the little boys, Seros’ son I think, with a wooden sword that was glowing.” The other knight explained further.
         Laela looked at the knights seriously. “Impossible.” She said in awe.
         “That’s what we agreed on.” The knights laughed.
         “No, it’s not impossible.” Laela said. “It’s just, a little boy?”
         “Yeah.” One of the knights said confused.
         Laela shook her head and stood, she stumbled a little but, found her footing and made her way through the filthy dining room. As she was leaving she saw a familiar body. It was Rynn. He was asleep on the floor, surrounded by women and two cups of ale in his hands.
         “Rynn.” Laela shook her friend. “Rynn get up, we have to go.”
         Rynn mumbled something but, rolled away from her.
         “Come on!” She yelled and kicked him in his shin.
         Rynn jumped up and grabbed his ankle. He looked up and saw the angered Laela. “What the hell are you doing?” Then he grabbed his head as his headache took hold.
         Laela bent down so she was level to his face. “Rynn, do you have my books?”
         Rynn looked at her completely dumbfounded. He looked as drunk as he did last night.
         “Oh, yeah they’re in my bag.” He answered with a stupid smile.
         “Where’s your bag?” She asked.
         Rynn started to answer and then stopped. “Um… I think it’s… um…” He fell off into silence.
         She rolled her eyes and stood, placing her hand on her forehead, feeling sick.
         “Oh wait!” Rynn yelled. He stood and then tripped over a woman. He fell down into a table and pushed it away. The two knights in the corner laughed so hard that the whole castle probably heard them.
         Rynn found his feet and went forward. He moved a chair out of the way of a distant table and pulled out his large brown knapsack. He held it forward, waiting for Laela to take it.
         She grabbed it and immediately found the book she was looking for. She flipped through the pages and looked at them in a mix of horror and excitement.
         “What is it?” Rynn asked. Laela didn’t answer, she just looked at him, her eyes full of terror and glee.
         “We need to find that boy. Now.” She simply answered.

         “That dragon’s gonna be gone ‘fore we’re half way there!” Thraz called to his partner.
         They had been walking for nearly an hour and Thraz had been caught in thorns and smacked by low branched. He hated the forest but, followed his friend anyway.
         “You could have stayed back on the mountain. I’m sure the bandits would have kept you company.” Gall joked back.
         “There was no ale back on the mountain.” Thraz pointed out sadly.
         “Yeah, cause you drank the last bottle.” Gall laughed.
         “It’s our fault for not bringing more.” Thraz noted.
         “Please, for us we’d need all the ale in Hammerclaw to last a night. ‘Course it’s probably been destroyed by the dragon by now.”
         “Nah, you don’t know the guards there, my brother was a knight in Hammerclaw, ‘till he died.” Thraz reminded his friend.
         “Yeah yeah, we’ve all heard your stories.” Gall said as he chopped the thick bushes away with Thraz’s machete.
         As Gall broke the thick leaves and branches, they found themselves in an opening. There were no trees, or grass for that matter. Instead, there was a camp. There were tents, a fire, and some bandits roasting a pig over a fire. There were three around the fire. Two more were walking towards the fire. There was one inside a tent. Four more were bringing large piles of wood back to the camp. All of them stopped and looked directly at the two travelers.
         “Damn it all.” Gall said.
         The bandits roared and drew their weapons while they charged the two. Gall swiftly handed the machete to Thraz while he drew his pistol. Gall shot his first, killing one of the bandits with a shot to the chest. Thraz fired his seconds after, and his bullet connected with one of the brute’s head. Unable to currently reload, the two holstered the guns and drew their melee weapons. Thraz wielded his machete and an iron short sword. Gall used his swift daggers and the two rushed the group.
         The bandits were unorganized and unprepared and Thraz dug his sword into one’s chest, while bringing his machete down onto another’s head. Gall’s daggers tore through their thin armor and flesh with ease as he killed four within seconds.
         Two left.
         They fell back when they saw their friends die so swiftly. One man and one woman. They slowly reached for each other’s hands while Gall and Thraz approached them with the intent of killing them, for obvious reasons.
         “Well now.” Gall laughed. “Looks like you’ve lost.”
         The two bandits sneered at Gall.
         “Well that’s no way to act.” Thraz noted.
         “Very unprofessional.” Gall agreed.
         Then he turned and smiled at the two defeated bandits. “Would you kindly point us in the direction of your food and alcohol?”

         The bandits were tied up and sat away from the fire quietly. Gall and Thraz helped themselves to the pig and ale happily and laughed around the fire while they ate and drank.
The bandits didn’t stir and sat patiently, waiting for whatever was next.
         “Well you two look like the sourest pair I’ve ever seen.” Thraz mocked.
         “I’m sorry but, your group did attack us first.” Gall noted.
         They didn’t move.
         “I don’t know if I like their attitude, master Thraz?” Gall said.
         “Very odd, master Gall.” They were trying to sound like rich folk. Entertaining their prisoners.
         “Maybe they’ve lost hope.” Thraz pointed out,
         “Maybe. Or maybe they haven’t.” Gall added.
         “Hmm, please explain master Gall.” Thraz played along.
         “Maybe they’re waiting.”
         “Waiting on what, my good sir?”
         “For their friends.” Gall leaned towards the bandits, who tried to hide their surprise but, failed due to their uncomfortable shifting.
         Gall stood and lost his rich person act. “You hear me you bandits! Come out here and face us like real men! You bastards hear me, I know you do!” He bellowed through the forest.
         Thraz laughed and stood, holding his pistol in one hand and his crossbow in the other.
         As if on cue, the rest of the bandits jumped out of the bushes and rushed towards the two men. Thraz shot his gun and crossbow as Gall skipped the gun part. He rushed one side with his daggers and hacked them down.
         Thraz pushed forward and sliced his machete and short sword, killing three in one blow. The two travelers hacked through the bandits with such ease it was as if they were making their way through the forest.
         Not a minute passed and the rest of the group was dead. One of the bandits did clip Gall’s stomach and right hand but, other than that he was unharmed. Thraz also had a blow connect with his right leg but, nothing that wouldn’t heal. The two smiled at each other with a mix of victory and excitement.
         They loved fighting.
          It was their favorite part of traveling. The capitol cities were pitch perfect, save for Woodbay and Clearwater, and so their were nearly no crimes. However, the forests surrounding Hammerclaw were littered with thieves, bandits and other horrible excuses for humans. They loved traveling through them and did so every chance they got.
         The two set back down and, after bandaging their wounds, began eating and drinking again.

         “Excellent meal.” Thraz said to the bandits.
         “Indeed.” Gall said. The two laughed after that though and broke their fancy, rich getup again.
         “Enough of that.” Gall said, brushing the crumbs from the bread off of his waist and standing.
         “Bed already?” Thraz asked confused.
         “Of course not.” Gall smiled and raised his eyebrows, nodding at the bandits.
         Thraz smiled and drew his sword, ready to kill them without a second thought.
         “No, no.” Gall laughed uncomfortably.
         Thraz looked at him confused. “What?”
         Gall nodded again… but this time slightly more to the right. The Thraz understood, Gall wasn’t nodding at the bandits. He was nodding at the woman.
         Thraz looked at Gall with shock. Losing a large amount of respect for his friend even if he was joking, which he prayed to all the gods he was.
         “You can’t mean?” Thraz was horrified by his friend.
         Gall frowned. “Look, she’s a savage.”
         “I…” Thraz was simply appalled.
         Gall shook his head. “That’s fine.” He said, as he started towards the woman.
         Thraz turned away from his friend and closed his eyes. He tried to block out the sound of the woman screaming and her lover bellowing at Gall.
         The sad thing was, Thraz couldn’t tell who the savage was.


         The voices never stopped. They followed Darius as he made his way through the forests towards Hammerclaw. Most would yell and curse at the branches as they blocked your path and smacked your face. Darius ignored the plants though, and rushed through the forest swiftly and quietly.

         Darius moved through the forest quicker at the voices. They usually didn’t bother him but, adding the name into the mix of horrible words has changed everything for him. This, ‘Sajume’ has to be someone important.

         No. Darius wouldn’t. The voices have never been his friend, they’ve never guided him or aided him. They’ve only ever haunted him. Maybe they’re the voices of demons or the people he’s killed. He didn’t know and he’s never told anyone, so, he may never know who or what they are. The only reason he’s listening to them now is because they’ve pointed out someone, a specific person who they want dead. Darius knew he had to find this person, he just didn’t know why. He knew it wasn’t to kill this person though, that was for sure.

         Darius tried not to think about the voices. He tried to move them out and away from him but, trying to block them out was another form of acknowledging them and, when he did that, was when they were most active.

         Darius liked fighting. That was when he could ignore them, when he was focusing on fighting another person. Only then, would he be able to block them out.
         Darius had gotten used to them over the years however. He went through a part in his life, mainly when they first started, where he nearly went insane from the constant talking. Telling him to kill, murder, etc. They nearly broke him, for good reasons. The he met his trainer.

         Darius leaped through a thick bush and found himself in a large opening. There were tents and a fire set up that crackled brightly. There was also a man, a thief or a bandit, bent over onto a log. There was a man standing over him, holding a large steel axe. The man was dressed in thick steel armor and brought the axe down, straight onto the man’s neck.

         The knight looked at Darius with caution. He whistled and several more knights came out of tents, and out of the woods. There was another man by the one with an axe and he stood to face Darius.
         Darius walked towards the group of knights. There were eight of them. They all stood in silence, swords drawn, ready to fight if they had too.
         “Who, are you?” A knights asked.
         Darius stopped and looked over the group.
         He didn’t respond.
         “Who are you!” The knights yelled.
         “A traveler.” Darius answered coldly.
         “Name, town, don’t you know how to answer a question properly?” The knight added coldly.
         Darius smiled. “I am Darius.”
         The knights waited for him to continue.
         He didn’t
         “Where the hell are you from? Stay your tongue again and I swear I’ll cut it out of you.” The knights yelled angrily.
         Darius smiled again. “I guess you could say I’m from Rosegrass.”
         The knights looked confused and mumbled amongst each other.
         “I don’t expect you to know about it.” Darius interrupted them.
         “Well then explain!” The knight lost his temper.
         Darius glared at him.
         The knights looked back at him. Knowing he should attack the traveler for his behavior but, his face made it clear he was equally terrified for some reason.
         “Where are you heading?” The knight asked.
         “Why not?”
         The knight stepped forward, gripping his sword tighter, ready to cut the smart mouthed traveler down.
         Darius didn’t move.
         “Answer the damn question.” The knight said irritated.
         “Well,” Darius said. “There’s a few reasons.”
         The knight looked angrily at the traveler.
         “Tell me this.” Darius said. “Are you from Hammerclaw?”
         “I’m not answering any of your questions.” The knight sneered.
         “Of course you’re from Hammerclaw.” Darius nodded. “Why else would you care about why I was going there. By the way, Your armors a dead give away .”
         “Why are you going to Hammerclaw?” The knight asked once again.
         “I keep telling myself it’s because of the dragon.” Darius finally answered.
         The knights mumbled amongst each other, oblivious to the news everyone else knew about.
         “What dragon?” The knight asked.
         “Well, most dragons have wings, and scales like a lizard. They also have the ability to-.”
         “Not what the damn things are!” The knight yelled.
         Darius smiled. “Of course. There was one attacking Hammerclaw a few hours ago.” 
         The knights looked at the traveler unsurely and in denial. Obviously they weren’t going to believe him.
         “Tell me, do you want me to finish answering your question?” Darius asked.
         “No.” The knight snarled. “Hand over your weapons.”
         Darius looked at the knight angrily.
         “Now!” The knight yelled.
         Darius slowly approached the knight. He stopped about halfway to him, and pulled back his black robe. He removed the two repeaters and held them forward.
         “Unload them.” The knight said.
         Darius nodded and pulled the clips out of each. Then he held the, now unloaded, repeaters towards the man.
         The knight walked forward slowly. He was clearly expecting a fight. He approached the black clothed traveler with caution and took the repeaters after sheathing his sword.
         “You’ll stay in the cell until morning, understand?” The knight asked.
         Darius didn’t react.
         The knight sneered at Darius and turned around, expecting Darius to follow.
         Darius reached down and removed the dagger from his boot. The knight’s throat was slit before the others had time to see the traveler move. Darius retrieved his repeaters promptly and reloaded them both within seconds. He followed up by sending a fray of crossbow bolts into the group.
         The bolts didn’t pierce their thick steel plates. However, they ripped through their leather gauntlets and killed some if they struck them in the opening of their helmets. Darius had killed four after unloading his bolts, counting the one with the slit throat.
         The knights unsheathed their swords and rushed at Darius. He dropped the repeaters and looked at the four with little worry.
         After the four got closer Darius yelled, with all his might and putting all of his energy into his these words. “Di mihi dent ignem!”
         The knights stopped after the words and watched the large spray of fire leave the traveler’s hands. Darius pushed forward, sending all of his power into the fire spell. The fire engulfed the last four knights and they screamed in agony until the fire finally burned through them, killing them within seconds.
         Darius looked over the eight dead knights. He didn’t enjoy killing, he was just good at it.

         Darius searched around the camp for a shovel. He expected the knights were on a long trip and would’ve most likely brought food, water, and other tools that would be useful. He found a shovel in a chest that was locked up behind a tent. He mumbled and fire spell and created a torch like flame that he tried to use to melt the metal lock. It didn’t work. He shook his head and drove his fist into the wood. On his second hit the wood snapped and he tore the rest away. He found the shovel along with a pickaxe, extra clothes and some gold. He took the gold and shovel and got to work.
         He dug eight individual holes where he laid the bodies into. He knew the knights and people of Hammerclaw worshiped the god of earth. However, Darius didn’t so he didn’t know prayers or rituals of their religion. So, he simply buried the knights and left without a word.
         He ate a few pieces of pork and drank some water out of a flask. He took the water and went back into the woods. Eager to get to Hammerclaw and find the person the voices keep mumbling.

         The woman in white robes approached Sajume. She grabbed the wooden sword his uncle gave him and turned it over to see the words carved in it.
         “Hey!” Sajume grumbled and reached for his most prized possession.
         The woman turned and read the words. Her eyes grew large and she turned back to Sajume.
         “Where did you get this?” She asked with awe.
         Sajume looked at her scared and confused.
         She knelt down to where she was level with him, and said in a much softer tone. “I need to know where you got this from.”
         “My… my uncle gave it to me.” Sajume answered.
         Jest and Yerl were standing back, afraid of the mages and knights. Afraid they were arresting Sajume.
         “Where did he get it from?”
         “I don’t know.”
         “Where is he at?”
         “He travels.”
         The woman nodded. She looked back to her friends. Sajume only recognized the brown robed, Rynn from the night before. All the others were strangers to him and he didn’t like it.
         “You don’t know it, and I know your uncle didn’t. You have one of the most important pieces of equipment on the planet.” The woman explained.
         “It’s just a wooden sword.” Sajume said.
         The woman nodded. “That’s why it was glowing last night right?”
         Sajume looked away.
         “Born from earth.” She said.
         Sajume nodded.
         “I need to take this.” The woman said.
         “No!” Sajume yelled. “That’s mine my uncle gave me it.”          
         “Your uncle didn’t know what it was, neither do you.” She explained.
         Sajume ran towards her and two of the knights held him back.
         He was starting to tear up.
         The woman looked at him neutrally. “Would you like to come with us?” She sighed.
         Sajume looked at her, stunned. The mage in black whispered something to her. She shook her head and mumbled something back. Sajume didn’t know where they were going or why she had invited him. He was getting scared but, he couldn’t show his fear. He wanted to become a knight one day.
         The woman approached the boy again. She knelt down to face him again and spoke.
         “My name is Laela of Blackhall.” She introduced herself.
         “Sajume.” He bowed.
         “If you don’t trust me with your sword, I understand. But, you don’t understand what this is.” Laela explained. “If you come with us I can show you what it does and what it is. If you can’t, I’m sorry but, you will never see it again.”
         Sajume felt like crying but, again he fought back tears. “I’ll go.”
         Laela nodded and smiled. “What of your parents?”
         “My dad’s dead.”
         “I meant, tell them you’re leaving, ask permission or whatever.”
         “Oh.” Sajume said, remembering his mother crying and not wanting to go through that again.
         Sajume sighed. “I’ll go ask her.”
         Laela looked back at Yerl and Jest. “What of you two?”
         The two looked at each other and her confused. “Are you coming too?”
         The three boys took off to their houses to ask their mothers to go. They knew it wouldn’t be easy, after last night’s incident, but, they hoped they could go.

         “Absolutely not.” Sajume’s mother answered firmly.
         “But, mom.”
         “No. I can’t believe you would ask me that, to go with people you don’t even know!” She screamed.
         Sajume sighed and shook his head. He knew it was inevitable. He kept trying anyway though.
         “Mom, they’re going to take my sword.”
         “Thieves then? You want to go with thieves.”
         “No, they’re not… why do you do this?” Sajume asked.
         “Do what?”
         “Twist words around. There’s no reason why I can’t go.”
         “There is a dragon!”
         “Was a dragon. Those mages killed it though.”
         Calene crossed her arms angrily.
         “Do you even know where you’re going?” She asked.
         “They think there‘s a dragon egg on the mountain to the north.”
         Calene shook her head at her son.
         “Mom, nothing’s going to happen to me.”
         “And how do you know that?”
         “Because they killed a dragon!”
         “Don’t yell at me. You left without a word last night and I thought you were dead, Sajume.”
         “Would you have let me go last night?”
         “Of course not.”
         Sajume sat on the kitchen table. Not knowing what to say, about to tell the others he couldn’t go. Then Jest appeared in the window.
         “Coming Sajume?” He asked.
         “Your mom let you go?” Sajume asked.
         “Yeah, I told her how I was going on a trip with some rich mages that killed a dragon. She said okay.” He smiled.
         Calene and Sajume stared at Jest in disbelief.
         Then Sajume looked at his mother.
         “No.” She said.
         “No. You’re not going just because your friends are.”
         Yerl came up behind Jest. “My mom wont let me.” He said sadly.
         “Okay, that’s fine.” Jest said. “Come on Sajume, we can buy another wooden sword later.”
         Sajume looked at his friend confused. “Aren’t you going?”
         “Not if you guys can’t. Come on, we’ll just play some more.” There’s was something in Jest’s smile that convinced Sajume to leave.
         Sajume nodded. “I’m sorry for last night mom.”
         Calene nodded. “I only do this to protect you Sajume.”
         “I know mom.” Then Sajume and his friends left.
         As they walked down the street, Jest began to pick up speed slightly.
         “I’m sorry you’re not going because of us.” Yerl said to Jest.
         Jest laughed. “My mother told me I couldn’t go either.”
         “What?” Yerl asked confused and, somewhat horrified.
         Sajume started laughing.
         “We’re going.” Jest said.
         “Damn right we are.” Sajume agreed.
         Yerl shook his head but, continued following anyway.
         “You guys think there’s a dragon egg up there?” Sajume asked.
         “Probably, they might be going to kill it before it hatches.” Jest answered. The boys were running now, eager to get back to the mages.
         Sajume was excited, even if he didn’t know what they planned to do with the egg, or with his sword.
         The boys made it back to the mages who were, thankfully, still there waiting on the boys to return. They looked angry at each other but, Sajume didn’t know, or care, about what they were arguing about.
         They nodded at the mages and the group of eleven set off for the mountain in the north. Where bandits, a dragon egg, and whatever else was waiting for them.
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