Chapter 1 Part 6 .......... The Paladin's Song
|The Paladin's song
The interior of the tower was empty and black except for flashes of lightning which penetrated through a few small, cross-shaped windows. A staircase clung to the interior wall and spiraled upward. Thunder rolled on and on unceasing. The wooden stairs shuddered as if some siege weapon hurled stones from the roof. The Wizard James lead the way as his brother, Jonn, and nephew, William, followed him up the last steps to the tower's rampart. James pushed William protectively behind him as he looked out of a narrow gate.
"There is a dragon here," yelled James above the noise of battle, "Come and see... but do nothing! This is a time for waiting and watching."
William did not say a word, he was dumb-struck by the spectacle before him. No thunderstorm nor siege engine was visible; there was, however, a dragon and a hero fighting in single combat.
The dragon had a long tail and equally lengthy neck, the body was sleek. Fifty feet in length, It had strong rear legs and narrow wings almost as wide as the beast was long
"William," said James pointing, "see the warrior seemingly so small and feeble, he is a Paladin like your father. The Dragon and he are father and son. Let us hope they come to their senses before this goes on to a unfortunate end."
. The beast regarded his opponent, a man with long white hair who moved with amazing speed for one who appeared so old. The Paladin was encased in the steely armor of his faith, sword and shield ready, all glowing silver and blue. His faithful blade screeched metallically as it scraped across the heavy dragon scales which glittered as emeralds. The serpent's armor held fast and each strike of the sword was accompanied by an explosion of sound and sparks. Alconis was in trouble as his formidable opponent adroitly closed in. The elderly man held high his sword and it burst into yellow flames. He aimed a killing thrust at the great beast's chest. Lightning, striking a brilliant white , danced all about the tower, brought forth by the contending magicks of the Paladin and the Dragon. Each vied for dominion.
The dragon proved faster, the man's sword was slowed by its master's doubt and mercy. The serpent turned about in time to catch his foe unbalanced and slashed at him with his tail. The Paladin received a sharp powerful blow that caught the armor on his left side, it struck with a deafening crunch. He turned and blocked with his shield to avoid the next strike but was thrown to the ground and his sword flew out of reach, the blade ringing loudly. Leaping up the Paladin narrowly avoided the dragon's teeth as the jaws loudly snapped shut-- Empty. The loyal paladin sword did not hesitate and it leaped into its owner's hand and the old man swung hard into Alconis' side opening a long, wicked wound. Dark red blood oozed from the injury.
The beast roared as he was knocked down by the force of the Paladin's strike but he quickly regained his balance. He counter attacked with the dragon fire that slammed into the Paladin's shield crushing the man's ribs and tearing at his armor; setting fire to every wooden object on the tower. The ancient warrior knelt on one knee, breathing hard, he faced the dragon without fear, their eyes locked upon the other, hearts broken, yet their will unyielding. It was almost over.
Jonn said to James, "how evil the days have become that two old friends should come to this, each one shattered and broken. But it can not be stopped, not by us, we can only make things worse. The stubborn convictions of dragons and paladins have consumed their love. We must not let it consume ours."
The Old Magic swirled around the Paladin as music, a song so old the words have vanished and naught is left but the notes. Now, the old man called on all the strength of this ancient hymn to come to his aid.
The Wizard James whispered in William's ear, "This is civil war, I hold with the man and your father does not. His loyalty is with the dragon. He and I our on opposite sides of this thing. With thy spirit eye, see there the Paladin. He is the Wisest of his order and the most powerful... watch as his strength grows. Do you know his name? Does the music sing to you?"
William turned away from the battle and gazed sharply at his Uncle James.
"Grandfather," said William with conviction.
"Yes, very good," said James, "He is your Grandfather Ferdinan; your father's father."
"I know the Dragon's name too. He is Alconis, I have seen him before, Uncle, I know you and he are brothers. Do something! We cannot let this go on any further, they will kill one another."
William's Grandfather renewed his attack with sword and shield shining in the blaze. All the fury and flame of the dragon could not pass Ferdinan's defense and armor. He was part dragon himself and would not yield.
They attacked each other with the fierceness that was their inheritance. Dragon and Paladin wrestled fire and sword, claw and shield. But unseen, it was the magic within each that determined the contest. Each heart sang its verses of battle, each note twisting about the others creating one long song of strife. But the Paladin's song was the greater and Alconis weakened.
The magnificent dragon was pushed back and back to the edge of the tower. The city of Inari-Anar glowed behind him in the light of a setting sun and storm clouds flowed in from the north. He was wounded and exhausted... overthrown. Alconis raised himself to his full height and with the last of his strength breathed the dragon fire. The Paladin charged straight into the flames with his shield held high and with his sword stabbed deep into his foe's body. Then Ferdinan brought down his shield hard just above the dragon's eyes and Alconis collapsed to the heavy timbers of the floor sending tremors throughout the tower and almost bringing it down. He was very still at first but after a long moment his breathing began again.
William darted out onto the battleground and stood between the Dragon and the Paladin. He was determined to end this. "Stop! What are you doing. You are my family,"
"William," called the wizard, "No! They are not in their right minds."
A flash of light and a sharp crack of thunder upset the battle, suddenly there appeared James. The Wizard stood large and threatening in the center of the tower floor.
"Father, halt this insanity! Here is William, son of Jonn and heir to the House of Ferdinan-- will you have your grandson's first memory of you be filicide. All this is in vain, this is not the way."
Alconis slowly raised his head and from behind him walked the Paladin Jonn. "I am also here, little brother." He placed a hand on the serpent's bloodied body. Jonn then began softly chanting a plea of rest for the weary and healing for the wounded. The wind changed direction and turned chill with the smell of fallen leaves upon the breeze. William felt the pain leave his body and his mind was calmed.
The Dragon managed to heave himself up and with renewed strength he stretched his wings and looked upward into the gathering clouds.
"Alconis, my son. I know you wish to do good but you have allowed sentimentally to cloud your vision. I cannot allow you to return to the Dragonis Gemot. Not all the dragons there can be trusted."
The Dragon listened to his father as he kept his eyes on the sky. "Father you will have to kill me to keep me away from the Gemot, the counsel of Dragons is my home. My first loyalty is there."
The three brothers turned to their father, who stood leaning on William and staring at Alconis. All became still. For that one brief moment the mighty House of Ferdinan was gathered together in a moment of peace.
William found his voice and spoke. "What would Bartholomew say about all this. What side is he on?"
Alconis replied, "Alas, his loyalty is with your grandfather."
"How could all this have come about. Two members of my family trying to kill each other and I have only met all of you today. I wish to trust all of you."
"You can trust all of us to love you William" said the Dragon.
Ferdinan stepped away from William and walked towards Alconis, James and Jonn both moved in front of their brother. Ferdinan stopped. He turned with effort to face William and said, "what say you William, how should we settle this dispute?"
"I do not know the cause of this strife, yet I believe that there should be a peace between us no matter what the cost or danger. Harold son of Clarence is here in the city, perhaps you will listen to him."
Ferdinan seemed to shrink and his armor and weapon ceased their deadly luminescence . He looked down at the ground. "Perhaps the boy is right," thought Ferdinan, "perhaps I have lost myself in this struggle." Despite a gnawing apprehension of evil; he spoke. A sad lonely note within his voice. "So Alconis, my son, go if you want to. I will hinder you no longer. But it may be best if we all meet the Prince, there may be foul forces at work that we are unaware of."
Alconis faded away and left a man standing in his place wearing an audacious formal suit colored green, gold, and yellow. He resembled William a bit though shorter and rounder and much older. He limped over to William and shook his hand. "Well, now. We will be able to communicate much better this way. I want to thank you, only you could have brought a truce amongst us.
"Peace, my sons, hearken to the bells.