Posts Tagged ‘Dragon’

When It All Ended Pt. 15

February 2, 2019

Morgan’s Raiders had circled the roof of the palace. The dragon Kanaaq suddenly appeared in the very center of the roof in human form thanks to the courage of the Princess. The dragon looked pissed, her eyes glowing a fierce green. So, it was with great courage that William Havelock walked toward the dragon, his sword and shield in his hands. The dragon gave him an arrogant smirk, hands on hips. It looked like she would have laughed had she not been so angry at being interrupted and torn from her makeshift lair. That laugh died somewhere in her throat and for a moment, wisps of green blew out of her nostrils and her skin shimmered as scales for a moment before returning to a perfect human form.

“Dragon!” William yelled. “I’m giving you one chance to fly away now before we kill you dead right here, right now.”

“Puny warrior,” Kanaaq said. “Run before I make a snack of you. Take your friends with you. I grant you your lives. Just this one chance.”

“Puny? I am William Havelock, the first Lion of Eloria!” William shouted, pointing his sword at the dragon. “We are Morgan’s Raiders and we will end you! Look around, the city is rising up against your followers. It’s all over.”

As if on cue, <C> the djinn flew by at top speed, fighting the Wyvern riders in the air. The djinn was making sport of it and that brought out Kanaaq’s rage yet again. “Come and try!” The dragon yelled and started to change shape.

To his credit, William did not flinch as the dragon began to tower ovewr him. The dragon breathed green gas into the air and started to tilt that spray down toward William. That was when Morgan herself let fly an arrow that hit the dragon in the throat. Then the battle began in earnest. Morgan’s Raiders were a practiced and experienced team. Morgan kept moving around the roof, sniping at the dragon and ocassionally shouting strategy. William stayed in the dragon’s face, trying to keep its attention and taking swipes with his sword. Cassandra tossed every spell at the dragon that she could remember, her hands and fingers a blur of constant motion and her lips constantly moving. Garth darted in and out and stabbed the dragon whenever its back was turned. Percival shouted constantly, his words healing his friends and hurting the dragon. Galath moved as fast as his short legs could carry him, trying to keep everybody healed and on their feet.

The team worked in concert, moving like nobody could unless they had worked together for a long time. As time went by, both the dragon and Morgan’s Raiders were injured. The battle raged on around the castle roof but neither the dragon or the adventurers had time to pay it any mind. Both sides had put their pieces on the board, they would have to trust that. The bloodied dragon started to lash out more desperately and the Raiders were heartened by what they correctly perceived as fear. The adventurers tried to hold on, ready to fight to the finish. In the end, the bloodied dragon was no longer seeing green, it was seeing pure red. She lunged at the frailest of Morgan’s Raiders, Cassandra but William stepped in between. Cassandra cast a spell reflexively and William grew to twice his size and grabbed hold of the dragon, keeping her from reaching Cassandra. Morgan shot an arrow below the dragon and vines stretched up and between the vines and William, the dragon was wrestled to the ground. Garth jumped from the tallest tower, bringing his dagger down hard into the back of the dragon’s head. The thing fought briefly but slumped to the stone, eyes rolling back into its head.

The Raiders stood there breathing hard, hardly believing their own victory. Then they turned to look out over the battle still raging around them. One by one they started shaking their heads. They had nothing left. They had just fought a dragon. They could barely stand much less join the battle around them. Then, a miracle occurred. The King’s forces muscled their way through the northern gates. Cassandra started to jump up and down and cheer and the rest of Morgan’s Raiders were all smiles as they watched the soldiers return to clean house. William walked over to the dragon and slowly dragged his sword across its throat, its poisonous blood gushing over the stone roof. Morgan gave him a look and William shrugged.

“Just to make sure,” William said. “How many times have we thought we killed something and it came back to try to kill us?”

“He makes a good point,” Percival said. “Though they’ll need more than a mop to clean up that mess.”

“I can only imagine what it looks like downstairs,” Garth said. He had been grinning as he admired his handiwork atop the dragon. The rest of Morgan’s Raiders felt that they would always be reminded by Garth that he had gotten the killing blow.

“Oh no!” We have to check on the Princess!” Cassandra shouted. “She might have been injured getting the dragon up here.”

“Let’s go down there then,” Galath said. “We need to help whoever we can.”

They searched and found some stairs and made their way down into the castle. The place was eerily quiet after the chaos of outside. The atmosphere felt strange. All over there were strange plants growing through the cracks in the stone of the castle. Garth watched one closely and William pulled him away just before it belched a little cloud of spores. They moved on, keeping their hands to themselves. Finally, they found what had to be the throne room and William and Galath worked together to muscle the door open. As soon as there was a gap big enough between the double doors, Cassandra made for it even though Morgan tried to shout for caution. Cassandra rushed into the room and thankfully there were no traps, no troops. The arrogant dragon had put everything outside of the castle. Instead, there was a shaken young woman sitting in the throne who got to her feet and readied a sword. When she saw Cassandra, Princess Cora broke down in tears and dropped the sword. She and Cassandra embraced as Morgan and Garth hurried into the room, followed by the rest. The Princess was sobbing but smiling with pure relief.

“It’s going to be alright, Princess,” Cassandra said. “We’re here.”

Galath moved to tend to the Princess’ wounds as Morgan’s Raiders established a perimeter and Cassandra comforted the exhausted princess.

Interview Questions 13

January 21, 2019


Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I would have to say George Takei who has since become even more famous. There used to be an amusement park near where I live called Paramount Kings Dominion which was affiliated with the film studio. I only remember going to the park once and it was with one of my best friends. Back in the day, my friends and I absolutely adored Star Trek. We religiously watched The Next Generation and soaked up what we could of the original series in a pre-Netflix world. We even studied the blueprints of the ships and talked endlessly about the world of the shows. So, it was no surprise that we attended a 25th Anniversary event at Kings Dominion. We stood in line to meet Mr. Takei and he was so nice when we got to the head of the line. He was very gracious when faced with two Trek nerds nervously gushing over the series. We noticed that he had a cast on his leg and he explained that he had had an accident but that he was doing alright. I don’t remember but he probably apologized for not taking pictures with people. That was fine, I got to meet Sulu in person and take a picture on the original series transporter pads. On a different wavelength, I would also make a mention of meeting Barbara Mikulski who was a US Congresswoman for forty years in both the House and the Senate. We met when I got to have lunch with her due to an auction my parents had won for charity. On the way to lunch, we also ran into Governor Donald Schaefer. Both of these people were voted in by hundreds of thousands of people so I would say they were also pretty famous.


What scene from a non-horror movie scared you as a child?

My first impulse is to say Ghost which I saw pretty young with my folks. There is a scene near the end where Patrick Swayze (the titular ghost) is fighting the villain (a non-ghost). The villain is halfway through a window when it breaks and a piece of the glass falls and he is impaled. That is pretty gruesome for a kid but then shadowy figures appear and drag Carl’s spirit off presumably to Hell. Those shadow monsters scared the heck out of me as a kid and increased my fear of death. It was also such a departure from the rest of the movie which was more of a comedic supernatural crime/romance film. However, I contend that that moment was supposed to be a horror scene. So I would also put forward the bee scene from My Girl. In the movie, a little girl is befriended by a nerdy little boy and over the course of a summer, they kind of fall in love. Long story short, the boy goes into the woods to retrieve a piece of jewelry the girl dropped and he is swarmed by bees and dies from an allergic reaction. This came so far out of left field that it shocked me. One time when I was a young kid, I was also swarmed by bees and it left an impression on me (but thankfully I was not allergic). The sudden death of a kid who was not unlike me (I was also sickly as a child) shook me.


If you could be on the cover of any magazine which one would you choose?

I think I would most like to be on the cover of Dragon Magazine which is the magazine put out by the offices of Dungeons and Dragons. It should be pretty obvious by now that I am a big fan of D&D and being on the cover of the magazine means that I would be responsible or connected to some of the content inside the magazine. It would be a dream come true to write for Dungeons and Dragons and join the likes of Mike Mearls and Chris Perkins as part of the creative team. Either that or I am being interviewed in the magazine because I did something of interest to the readers and fans of Dungeons and Dragons. I would join names such as Wil Wheaton, Matt Mercer, Holly Conrad, and even Joe Manganiello. In the same vein, I would not mind being on the cover of WWE magazine or any other Pro-Wrestling magazine. At this stage in my life I know I am never going to be a pro-wrestler but in an alternate future, I could stumble into being a manager. Being a part of something I have loved for over 20 years would be so amazing (which is why I once considered applying to be a part of their ring crew). Both are unlikely but never say never, I guess.

When It All Ended Pt. 14

July 23, 2018

“So, is it time to go on the attack?” Amien asked, sliding up to Morgan’s side. He exuded a sort of wild, animal aura that was hard to ignore. It definitely peaked the interest of the wood elf half of Morgan but she easily shook that feeling off. She was committed to Percy and neither of them believed in polyamorous relationships. If the reverse were true, Morgan would have added Amien to her harem a long time ago. However, Amien was an alpha werewolf and would have never gone for such an arrangement either.

“Yes, please marshall your forces, Amien,” Morgan said.

“Already marshaled, Ranger,” he said with a smile. “Shall we go in first?”

“Yes, but please hold off for a moment,” Morgan said. “We’ll release the djinn first to cause maximum chaos before our troops enter the battle.”

“You have a djinn?!” Amien asked. “You have been busy.”

Morgan merely smiled and shrugged at that. She looked over at Cassandra and nodded at her. Cassandra stepped forward with the jar that contained Monela. Everybody took several steps back from her.

Cassandra whispered to the jar. “Monela, I release the seal to your prison,” she said. “Remember the bargain we made last night. Come out and have some fun with us.” She smiled and unscrewed the jar and before she had the lid off, Monela was leaking out as smoke and wind that blew Cassandra’s braids a little. She aimed the jar toward the sky and the smoke and wind took the form of a mighty djinn, a lithe and ever-changing female form. That form suddenly took off toward the castle grounds. As Monela took to the battlefield, Clio looked up and shimmery, glittery wings sprouted from her back and she took off after her. As she cleared the outer walls of the capital, she blew a kiss back toward the gathered force. Or maybe that kiss was intended only for Garth Whispernight. Only the fae knew for sure but she was obviously itching for battle too much to stand still a moment longer.

Without another word, Amien led his wolves to the gate and they opened it and walked through. The Guard started in after them, a little less sure than the stalwart wolves but they looked ready to do their duty. After a few moments, there were obvious sounds of battle from within the city. The enemy sounded very startled.

Morgan signaled her Raiders to gather in. “Here we go,” she said. “If anybody wants to back out. Now is the time.” She did not wait for an answer but instead walked through the gate. The rest of the group followed close behind and not one of them backed out. Morgan had expected as much. They made their way through the streets as quickly as possible. They tried to keep a low profile as they ran through the city. Any obstacle that showed up was usually cut down by William or received an arrow in the neck from Morgan. Cassandra was conserving her spells. They did not stop for long. Luckily, the dragon’s army was surging towards the werewolves and the Guard who were fighting toward the middle of the town. They reached the castle and they started to climb the outside. Morgan’s Raiders were no strangers to scaling rock faces. They were determined to go into this fight as fresh as possible.

Morgan looked down from the wall she was climbing, past William and Galath at Cassandra. “Now would be the time, Cassandra,” She yelled.

“Right away, Morgan,” Cassandra said and carefully touched her pendant and kept climbing.

* * *

Princess Cora was sleeping on the floor. The dragon had not allowed her to leave the throne room and she was forbidden to even think about touching the throne. Khandara was serious about being the new regent of the castle and would not brook any statements to the contrary. And so Cora was slumped on the floor, sleeping wrapped up in one of her father’s old robes. The dragon fed her but it was often cooked to a cinder or almost completely raw. Besides, Cora feared that the dragon may have purposefully or accidentally poisoned each meal. She ate what she had to in order to survive. She held onto the hope she got from Cassandra’s words the evening before. Somebody was coming. She just hoped it was enough. From where she was, the dragon was all-encompassing and unstoppable.

The Princess fought hard not to react to that physically even though the Dragon was not in the room. “I am here,” Cora thought. “What’s going on?”

“We’re almost in place,” Cassandra though. “Can you get the dragon to the roof?”

“I think I have stumbled upon a possible solution,” Cora thought. “My family has prepared for a lot of contingencies.”

“If you can get the dragon to the roof then please do it,” Cassandra thought. “But please do it safely. We don’t want you to get harmed anymore.”

“Please get into position,” Cora said. ” I will get the dragon there.”

If Cassandra had anything else to say, Cora forcefully pushed it out of her head as the dragon strode into the room, still in human form. She did not have her usual smirk plastered on her face. She looked irritable like somebody had farted in her presence.

“Do you know what’s happening outside?” The Dragon bellowed. “Of course you don’t. I’ve locked you in here without a window to the world. They are challenging me. There are magical being and mortals both fighting my soldiers. There is a goddamn fairy in the sky.”

“Are you going to go up there and sort out then?” Princess Cora asked. She kept her eyes cast down. She knew the words themselves were a challenge.

“Still such impudence,” the Dragon said. “No. While I still have my army to fight, I have no need to go out there myself. If they come here, I will prove my might.”

Cora stood up and brushed herself off. She let her father’s robe fall to the ground but not before plucking an old pendant from its pocket. “My family designed this castle with defense in mind ages ago,” she said.

“And now it’s defending me,” the Dragon said. “So poetic.”

“Through the years, we have studied and improved on its defenses,” Cora said. “In fact, when I was little I studied magic to try and help my family make our improvement. I was worried about what happened if the enemy got inside.”

“Well, whatever you did failed,” the Dragon said.

“There was not a chance to activate it,” Cora said. “You were too swift. In fact, I had forgotten about it until this morning.”

“I’m so afraid,” the Dragon said. “What is it? Keep in mind that I can kill you in an instant.”

“Can you kill me from the roof?” Cora asked. She dropped to her knee and pressed the pendant to the floor. In a flash, old lines carved into the floor lit up and a bright light appeared under the Dragon. The Dragon rushed toward Cora but disappeared at the last moment.

* * *

As Khandara the Dragon looked around at her new surroundings, she realized she was indeed on the large flat roof. Standing directly in front of her was an armored knight but her attention was drawn to a woman with a bow and arrow standing on one of the surrounding towers.

“You must be the dragon,” Morgan said. “We’ve been expecting you.”

When It All Ended Pt. 5

January 20, 2018

“Who are you?” Princess Cora asked, her voice still shaky. She was now sitting on the floor in a sort of daze as the dragon sat on her father’s throne. The dragon had taken the sword that the Princess had been wielding and had stabbed it into the seat of the queen’s throne. It definitely sent the message that the dragon was now in charge.

“You mean besides being a dragon? My name is Khandara,” The dragon said. “It’s so nice of you to ask. Most people either attack or run away screaming. Just a note: If you do either of those things then I will kill you.”

Cora swallowed hard and nodded. “I guess I’ll just sit here then.”

“Good girl,” Khandara said with a smirk. “And they say that royals are dumb.”

“But why are you here?” Cora asked.

“I heard that the King and Queen were away at war,” Khandara said. “They’ll probably die there what with all the demons and undead on the march. I thought I would upgrade from my old home. A palace is definitely an upgrade.”

“My mother and father will return with an army,” Cora said. “What will you do then?”

Khandara smiled and her form shifted into a mirror image of the Princess’ form except with green hair and green eyes. “I’ll welcome them home with open arms just after I pick bits of your guts out of my teeth. When their guard is down, I’ll eat them too. By then, this place will be quite inhospitable to any army. So many magical traps. Besides that, I brought my own fighting force.”

Cora just looked down and wished she was powerful enough to do something. Talk of being eaten by a dragon made her feel powerless and desperate and she was now spending most of her brain power on finding a way to protect herself from the dragon. Once she was protected, she could formulate a plan on what to do next. There had to be something. Ther Royal Family never gave up. They just figured out another way around a problem after defeat.

* * *

Morgan was in the lead as they reached the gates of the Capital at a fast trot on their horses. There seemed to be a small makeshift village at the gates and Morgan lept off of her horse and tied it to a post. A member of the Guard ran up to her.

“Miss,” the guard said, “The city is dangerous. There is a dragon present. I’m afraid whatever business you have in the city will be delayed. I would fall back to a safer position as well.”

Morgan held up a makeshift badge that all of her crew carried. It was modeled after her old Ranger badge as a sign of how she ran her group of adventurers. “My name is Morgan Moonglow and this is my crew, Moonglow’s Raiders. I’m afraid that the dragon is our business in the city. With everybody at war, this falls to us.”

The guard’s mouth hung open for a few moments. “Are you sure?”

“We’ve made up our minds,” Morgan said. “We have to at least try.”

“I’ve heard of your adventures and your victories,” the guard said. “If anyone can accomplish this right now, it is you.”

“Thank you,” Morgan said. She motioned for the Raiders to gather closer. “Now, please tell us what the situation is inside the walls.”

The guard took a deep breath. “The reports say that the dragon has disappeared from view. We believe that the only possibility is that it has somehow entered the castle. Outside of the castle, there are still lizard men and wyverns patrolling. If you are to reach the dragon, you’ll have to get past them somehow.”

“Will your forces be able to assist when we attack the dragon?” William asked.

“We can probably commit some forces,” the guard said. “I’ll have to send the message up the chain of command. Some of us have to remain at the perimeter to keep this contained as best we can.”

“Is the Royal Family inside the castle as well?” Cassandra asked.

“Only Princess Cora was in residence as of yesterday,” the guard answered. “We don’t know what her status is. We hold out hope that she’s alive.”

Cassandra turned to Morgan. “I know her, Morgan. She might be able to help her if she’s alright. We have to save her.”

“I know,” Morgan said. “I want to do that too but we can’t just charge in there.” She turned to the guard. “Thank you, please let whoever is in charge know that we’re here to help.” The guard nodded and walked off with purpose, leaving their compatriots to guard the gate. Moonglow’s Raiders walked off a ways to talk in private.

“So, what’s the plan?” Galath asked.

“Our obstacles seem too much for just us and a few Guard to handle,” Percival said. “I suggest we call in some favors owed to us.”

“For a dragon?” Garth asked. “We might need to call in all of them.”

“And use all of our assets,” Morgan said. “Percival, could you open your doors to us so we can eat and start planning?”

“Anytime you ask, my love,” He said with a wink that made Morgan smile but roll her eyes. He pulled out a small ivory door, a silver spoon, and a piece of polished marble. “Welcome to my mansion!” The items swirled a bit in the air and then the ivory door planted itself in the ground and grew to full-size as the other items dissipated. The doors opened and everybody walked inside. It was always a little overwhelming to step into Percy’s mansion no matter how many times the Raiders had done it. The style was reminiscent of the Grand Library in Silverlight where Morgan had first met Percival. In fact, there were shelves of books and scrolls scattered in most of the rooms. “The servants are already finishing up a feast for us.”

“Fantastic,” Morgan said. The mansion had begun to feel like the closest thing to a home over the years. Sure, it disappeared but it always reappeared looking the same and always welcoming. “We’ll eat and then we’ll start figuring out who and what we can count on.”

When It All Ended Pt. 4

January 13, 2018

Princess Cora stood in the throne room with several members of the Royal Guard beside her. She knew that everything outside must have been chaotic outside. She had been consulting with her parent’s advisors hours ago but it now seemed like ages ago. When the impact had shaken the castle, everybody had rushed off to gather information on what must have been a new threat. Anything that could shake the castle like that this far from the front lines of the war was nothing to take lightly, of course. So, Cora had been shuttled off to the throne room by the Royal Guard. The Throne room was the most secure place in the castle aside from the undercroft. She looked at her hands and they were shaking.

It was not even the first time that her parents had left her in charge but nothing had happened on those previous occasions. Both of her brothers were off at Battle Arts and Cora had felt alone that morning but now she felt helpless too. She had to be strong. She swallowed and took a deep breath and tried to think about her parents’ strength. They had both always been so strong, a shining example to Cora and her brothers. She kept taking deep breaths and looked at the members of the Guard, members who had been chosen to protect her royal family. They were trusted and some of the best in the land. The absolute best were fighting in the war but these men and women were dedicated to Cora’s safety.

“Have you heard what’s happened?” Cora asked the nearest guard. He was carrying a huge two-handed sword which he had out and ready.

“We have no idea, your royal highness,” The man said, his voice rough and a little raspy. “I won’t lie. It can’t be good.”

“Only too true,” Cora said. “I’ve never felt the castle shake like that. I’ve never felt it shake at all.”

The guard nodded. “I can definitely tell you that I have been here since your father was a young boy and the castle has not shaken in all of that time.”

“Have you been here that long?” Cora asked. She could see that the man was an elf which wasn’t very common for members of the Guard but it made sense that it might have landed him in the Royal Guard. Rarities made it into the Elite Guard. There was nothing ceremonial about any of the palace guards.

“Yes,” the man said. “Your grandfather helped save several members of my family so it was only natural for me to come here to pledge my sword. Don’t worry, your royal highness, I have faced many threats before in defense of your father.”

Cora smiled. “That does make me feel a little better. I’m sorry but I don’t know your name.”

“My name is Severn,” the guard said with a crooked smile.

“Just Severn?” Cora asked.

“Yes, your Royal Highness,” he answered with a slight shrug as if he had already explained everything.

Cora’s attention was suddenly drawn to one the other guards whose eyes suddenly widened as her body went rigid for just a moment. The guard turned and nervously brushed the hair from her face even though it was not in the way.

“Excuse me, princess,” the guard said with urgency. Cora knew that the Guard were drilled to use the correct address so she knew that something was up.

“Yes, Abigail,” Cora said. “Please speak.”

“I have just received word that a dragon has landed on the castle,” Abigail said. Cora gasped and she could feel the Guard tense around her.

“A dragon!?” Cora asked. “Are they sure?”

“A green dragon and there have been several sightings,” Abigail said. “The town is in a panic. The dragon gassed the central square. There are dozens dead.” Cora’s heart was both filled with fear and sorrow for her people. It was her family’s obligation to protect and lead the people

“Sightings?” Cora asked. “Are there eyes on it now?”

“It seems to have disappeared,” Abigail said.

“How does a whole dragon disappear?” Cora asked. “Do you think it has moved on?”

The doors of the throne room burst open, the strong hinges of one side actually warped a little bit with the force. “She did not move on,” a female voice called out. “She is just making herself at home.” A tall, lithe woman with green hair and green eyes and a flowing green dress practically glided into the room. She had a very mean-looking smile on her face.

“You!” Cora shouted. “You’re the dragon?” The guard around her had been tense but now they sprung forward as their training had drilled into them. They would not let the dragon take another step forward. “No, wait!” Cora called out. She knew something must be wrong if the dragon was so confident.

The dragon posing as a woman took a deep breath and then blew poison gas from her lungs and it enveloped all of the guards. They dropped like flies as Cora watched but Cora did not stay seated on the throne. She grabbed one of her mother’s swords off of the wall and wheeled around to face the dragon. Her family never gave up. However, when she turned, she could see that somehow Severn was getting up from the floor and he was lifting his great sword. The dragon’s hand transformed into a green clawed hand and she stabbed it through Severn’s neck and the man slumped to the ground. A pool of blood started to form in the middle of the throne room, soaking a carpet that had been there for decades.

“Now, now, your Royal Highness,” The dragon said. “Why don’t you put down that weapon? I promise that I want you alive.” The dragon was strikingly beautiful now that she was moving closer and Cora found the tip of the sword was slowly sinking toward the floor of its own accord. It was foolish to fight such a creature. Right?

“Alive?” Cora asked. “Why?”

“Well,” the dragon said. “I don’t want to break all of my toys just yet.”

When it All Ended Pt. 3

January 6, 2018

“A dragon?!” William Havelock nearly shouted when the group had reconvened. “We’re seriously considering fighting a dragon?”

“Such concern from the man who charged headlong into a cave with three hags in it the day before yesterday,” Morgan said.

“Hags are different and you know it,” William said.

“I think my contract specifically excludes messing with dragons,” Garth said. “Sorry guys, my hands are tied.”

“We never actually got around to drawing up a contract, Garth,” Morgan said.

“Well, that was an oversight on my part,” Garth said. “I won’t make that mistake the next time somebody needs my help.”

Morgan found herself smiling somewhat fiercely. She did not particularly want to go after a dragon either. However, the oath she had uttered when she became an adventurer was similar enough to the one she had made as a ranger. In Morgan Moonglow’s mind, that oath was unbreakable and if she could make a difference then she would. “Well, if you gentlemen are too afraid then there is no shame in camping right here. We should be back to collect you later.”

“Afraid?” William asked. “I wouldn’t use that word exactly. With you all at my back, I could charge into any battle. Garth, you can camp here alone.”

“A talent on my level should not be idle,” Garth said. “You know how my fingers start to itch when I’m bored.” In fact, that had led to complications with various members of the Guard early in their association as a team.

“Your skills are so legendary, Garth,” Morgan said with just a little sarcasm. “We need your sneaking skills and those deadly daggers of yours.”

“Well, the Shadow Teeth are not just any daggers,” Garth said. “That much is true. I guess I’ll have to come along but you definitely owe me for this.”

“Put it on my tab,” Morgan said. “How about the rest of you? This group has always been strictly voluntary. None of you have ever backed down from a fight yet but you can now.”

Cassandra spoke up, almost a squeak of a voice at first. “Well, I backed down that one time early on.” The moment when she had turned her back on them when the fate of the world was in the hands of the Scar Brotherhood would always be a painful memory for Cassandra. The fact that the magic she cherished so much had been her undoing had made the situation all the worse. She had seriously considered going back to the academy after that adventure.

“That’s hardly fair,” Galath said. “You were under an enchantment and at the end of that adventure you redeemed yourself twice over.” In fact, she had. Cassandra had broken the enchantment on her mind at the last possible moment and had provided just the distraction the team needed to save the world that first time.

“And you have been a constant companion ever since,” William said.

“Well, I’m not backing down this time,” Cassandra said. “A spellcaster is needed when taking on a dragon and besides I have studied them excessively. I’m in.”

“I have also read a lot about Dragons,” Percy said. “And none of you are as adept at counterspelling as I am. You would be dead in an instant without me. Besides, I would walk through fire for you, Morgan.”

Morgan found herself blushing, a slight crack in her usual tough demeanor. “And you have. I’m sure you remember the bit with the elementals.” Percival Stardane had seemed like an arrogant know-it-all when they had all met but that moment when he had literally walked through fire to offer a healing word to Morgan had convinced her that there was something more to the librarian.

“I remember everything,” Percy said. He and Morgan kissed. It was still new for them to show affection in front of the others but with a dragon looming on the horizon, neither of them really cared. They could be embarrassed afterward. Morgan found herself blinking and smiling as she finally pulled back and the world came rushing back in.

She cleared her throat. “What about you, Galath? You’re the last of us.” She managed to ask, turning toward the dwarf. He had been the last one to join the group but it had still been a long road together.

“Ms. Moonglow,” Galath began. He was always so formal. “If it were not for all of you then I would have been lost to time. I would have existed only as my own stone memorial, abandoned by the world in the forest. You restored me to life and gifted me with a whole new world and a whole new purpose. Namely, keeping you all alive. I know that all of you save Mr. Whispernight will say that there is no debt. There is a duty, though, because you are the closest thing I have to family now and I will always be there when things get rough.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Percy said. “Well, I probably could have but you get the idea. We’re all in then.”

“Then we’ll be off to save the King’s house and all the people of the city,” Morgan said. “We’ll be facing a green dragon. We do not know how old this thing is. It could be an adolescent, it could be ancient, or it could be anywhere in between.”

“If it’s ancient, there are many things that it is capable of,” Cassandra said. “Percival and I can write up a list together.”

“Between the two of us, we can probably tell you everything there is to know about it,” Percival said.

“What I’m wondering,” William said. “is why the dragon would attack the capital now. Is it just opportunity or is it part of a bigger plan?”

Morgan had not thought of that yet. “What are you saying, William?” She felt free to use his real name while they were all alone. Addressing him by his real name was a show of respect. “Do you think that this is somehow connected to the war?”

“That was my thought,” William said with a grave nod.

“That’s a scary thought,” Percy said. “There aren’t a lot of ways for the army of Shera to both summon and control a dragon. I have never heard of a dragon working with demons. They are usually selfish, arrogant creatures that have to be in charge and I would bet you that Vistra is much the same.”

“Well, whatever the answer to that mystery is,” Morgan said. “We might discover the answer.”

“If we survive,” Garth said.

“I have faith in us,” Morgan said.

 

Shield of the Ishim Pt. 2

July 6, 2015

Ishim Shield

“Do you hear that skittering sound again?” Maya asked, tugging lightly on the goggles resting on her brown leather mask. She still kept close to China so she wasn’t crushed by the gravity spell surrounding them. It had been an hour since they had started searching for a nasty intruder at the old Belvedere Hotel but there was nothing but skittering noises so far. This was not the usual hunt an Ishim faced these days. Normally the supernatural creatures leapt out and attacked pretty quickly so it was strange to have to try and follow their prey through the hotel like they had so far.

“The ballroom this time.” China whispered from behind that perfect porcelain mask. “At least there’s open ground there. Less chance of it getting away this time. Let’s go.”

China turned with a flip of her long gray hair and walked confidently but carefully toward the ballroom which forced Maya to stick close once again. They were surrounded by a chorus of creaking floor boards which was completely unnerving. Maya looked to her right and watched a spindly dining room chair get crushed under the weight of the spell. She felt confident that the gravity spell China was conjuring would protect them from physical attack by slowing or smooshing their attacker. At least, that was the theory.

If the spell covered physical threats, Maya carried various totems and charms that protected her from magical attacks. She had no idea what the great China Gray was relying on but the woman seemed confident so it was hard to be too concerned for her. Maya was still having a hard time figuring out China’s age with all of the contradictory evidence. Gray possesed confidence and wisdom like an elder and she was taller. However, she also lacked patience and moved far too easily for an elder. After all, most elders were too heavily injured to move like they used to.

They rounded the corner and pulled open the big double doors under the plaque that said this was the ballroom. They pushed open a second set of double doors just a few feet inside. The ballroom must have been really spectacular in its day. There was plenty of intricately carved woodwork still on the walls and empty bronze rods where drapes must have hung. A lot of the tarnished brass light fixtures were still there but a lot of them were dangling off the walls by thick wires.

Maya swung her torch around and focused the beam of light with a force of will. There were a few ruined chairs that were quickly flattened around them along with some partially collapsed tables. She thought she saw something twinkle on the floor so she focused the light there next to investigate. She gasped and clutched her torch tighter and she could almost feel China tense up next to her even though the other woman was silent.

There on the floor, draped over a shattered chandelier, there was a dragon the size of a Clydesdale. It was dead and there could be no doubt. There was a cut the length of Maya’s forearm in its neck and two clean puncture wounds in its torso. It had definitely breathed its last breath ass it was statue still with one wine-colored eye open and unfocused. pointing vaguely torward the ceiling.

“Did somebody complete the job for us?” Maya asked, the thought of an elder not taking them seriously brought on a hot flush of anger that she knew turned her skin reddish pink. Thankfully, her face was covered by the mask.

“It looks that way, doesn’t it?” China responded bitterly. Her voice was filled with annoyance once again but this time Maya felt she wasn’t the cause. For once, she felt more kinship with this stiff, by-the-book woman. She also guessed that she was not an elder because this absolutely did not happen to elders.

Suddenly, a blood red symbol flared to life on the wall where somebody had carved it through the wallpaper and into the wood beyond. Maya didn’t recognize the symbol but while they were staring, blood red words ignited above it.

‘The Ishim Will Die’ They said.

Maya and China looked at each other. “What does that-” Maya started but did not finish her sentence. Dozens of brown, shiny beetles the size of small puppies exploded from every vent in the room. They surrounded by nasty little insects that let out horrible shrieking noises like crickets from Hell. Maya raised her torch and once again she was interrupted as China already had something in mind.

It was one of those series of moments that slows down so that you can see every detail. The beetles leapt at them as one, brandishing pincers as sharp as daggers. China yelled out what sounded like “Unleash!” and a bright flash of light spread from the epicenter of the gravity spell they were standing in. In an instant Maya felt forces push her and China up off the ground. Around them it was if a giant mallet slammed down into the floor, wooden floor planks and beetles and everything went flying. Then China went limp and Maya reached out for her as they started to tumble into the darkness of the basement.


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