Book 2, Chapters 1 and 2

 

Derkesthai Series,Book 2, Chapter 1

Aresia’s Arrival

Day 7, 12:30 A.M., September 8th

Aresia asked, “Why do you think it’s happened that Lessiam was awakened in these final days and then I was led to you?”

Klawsan looked over his back at her, happy he was able to fly again, “I’ve no idea, but whatever miracle brought you to me, I’ll take it.  We’ve been without hope for so long, then Jos and Lessiam arrive on my doorstep, and now you.  These changes give me hope where I’d had none.”

“Well, I don’t know what we can do, but if we can find Jos and Lessiam soon I think we’ll all be able to form a plan,” Res finished just as they finally made it to Angel’s Grace.

As they crossed its peak they saw a vast array of huge and very evil looking dragons approaching the western mountaintop.

At that moment, a wizard appeared on the mountain’s crown.  He was glaring down at a group of people and dragons on and near a set of stairs leading to a tower below.  Klawsan saw all of this as well.  He yelled out to her, “There are Lessiam and Jos!”

Suddenly a long bolt of lightning and fire shot from the wizard’s chest at the group on the stairs.  As the missile flew through the air, the group of dragons swept over the western mountain and flew right at the crowd.

Klawsan sent out the command to his crusty old carcass, “Now’s the time, give it all you’ve got!”

His body responded in an instant, soon he’d accelerated into the fastest, steepest dive he’d ever attempted.  His wings were pinned to his back and Res, terrified, did all she could to hold on as the wind ripped through her hair and clothing.

Jules dove to the step below at the same moment as the horseman fired a second shot.  The assailant wasn’t able to keep up with Jules’ reactions, which now had him doing a handspring off of the lower step.

The rider pulled up his steed.  He was frantically reloading when the heels of one very angry Jules slammed under his rib cage and into his internal organs.  The horseman’s lungs burst as his sternum was driven through his chest and into his neck.  He was dead before he hit the ground. 

As Klawsan and Res raced to intercept the flame of death that Doldrus had sent forth, Klawsan had the distinct feeling that this would be the end for him.  Nonetheless, he plunged on.  Just before hitting the steps he curled his snout in to his chest and let himself roll.  Simultaneously he let Res in on his plan.  As he spun, head over feet, Res clung even tighter to his back.  Coming full circle, Klawsan threw open his wings, stopping his gargantuan frame directly over the steps that led to the landing on which Jos was dying.  Below him, the crowd scattered. 

The lightning bolt was just instants away now.  Klawsan reared up in front of it.  Roaring, he faced the inevitable.  He would protect Jos and Lessiam.  And he would die. In that moment, a worried thought flicked through his mind.  He hoped Aresia lived on, the world needed spirited girls like her.

Jules bounced off of the chest of the assassin.  His hands contacted the earth in front of the tower.  Using the momentum of his fall he drove the energy into his hands, flexed his elbows and sprang to his feet in one flip. Seeing the frightened steed run off, he ran to the dead assassin and grabbed the firearm off of the ground.

He pulled the firearm to his shoulder and took quick, certain aim at the large leader of the pack of fast-approaching dragons.  Jules squeezed the trigger, the recoil slamming back into his firm shoulder. The firearm exploded with sound and the lead black dragon’s head jerked back momentarily. But on the beast came, only now it was clearly wild with burning hate.

Narrowing it down with fierce eyes, Klawsan vividly saw the instrument of his death coming right at him.  The blue-tipped lightning bolt of crackling energy was encased in licking, orange-red flames. 

As the bolt pierced Klawsan’s chest just in front of his heart, he flinched and shuddered.  Yet, there he forced himself to remain, shielding Melou, Dliv, Red and many humans from the entirety of the evil magic. 

Once the last of it passed into his body, he used what remaining energy he had to droop gently onto the steps, thinking of Aresia’s well-being.

Jos’ world spun, he’d managed to cushion the fall with his arms just in time to keep his head from being cracked on the landing he’d been calmly standing upon just moments before. 

Lessiam had watched as Jos was hit and as Jules killed the assassin.  Now he bent over Jos.  He saw that the lad would soon die.  Throwing his entire being into the effort, Lessiam worked with Jos to heal the bloody wound and the internal damage the bullet had caused. 

Res dropped to the ground, grief nearly overcoming her for the noble act she’d just witnessed in the amazing old dragon. She looked at the huge body of Klawsan, limp on the steps by her. He was dead. 

The deep crack of a firearm snapped her to the present. A muscular man stood a few yards from her. He’d just fired upon the onrushing beasts in the sky. The lead one took the hit. Yet on it came, enraged.

Aresia felt a resolve come over her.  She would make Klawsan’s sacrifice worth something.  Her body rose in the air as a white energy engulfed her skin’s surface. 

Lessiam’s snout was near Jos’ face, concentrating on helping save his friend’s life. Jos concentrated on the bullet inside him.  It had burned through his flesh, wreaking havoc on his internal organs.  He knew he would be dead in moments if he didn’t act fast.  Moving his mind’s eye around the bullet, he encased it away from the flesh.  He then began to force it out from his chest.  Bit by excruciating bit, he twisted it out from his torn tissue.  The bullet clinked as it hit the stone step he was laying on, bouncing twice before settling. He then started healing his internal organs and rejoining the shattered bones of his ribcage. All the while he was quite oblivious of the external tumult. 

Melou was startled to see the human that had just slipped off of Klawsan’s back was now rising through the air. A brilliant white scintillation danced across the girl’s skin as she shot at the oncoming dragons, a suicidal move if Melou had ever seen one.  Melou lifted powerfully off of the ground and burst through the air to her side.

Jules saw Dliv taking off to follow Melou.  He threw down his spent firearm and leapt upon Dliv’s back, drawing his sword as Dliv shot to Melou’s side.  

Crystal had just dispatched a large brown beast with her firearm.  She sensed Jules was gone and spun to find him.  He was flying off on the blue Sea Dragon!  Of all the insane acts! Flying on a dragon’s back! 

She saw the Red Dragon preparing to follow the others and took a deep breath.  She leapt up two steps and catapulted onto Red’s leg.  Red looked back and smiled.  The connection was immediate.  “Hold on to your swords,” he thought to her. 

She scrambled to his back, pinned her knees under two scales and slid forth the two swords from their resting place upon her back.  “All right, I’m holding on,” she thought to Red, who was already springing to Dliv, Melou and the glowing girl’s side. 

Brent was hiding in the trees with thousands of other recently-release prisoners.  He was frightened to the bone, but thrilled to see the battle unfolding before his eyes.  The three defending dragons shot forward with their two riders, the glowing woman leading the desperate group.   

Lukas and Jules’ Commanders stood firm, each with a firearm.  They would remove as many of the onrushing beasts from Jules’ path as they could.  They raised their weapons and fired as one.  Six dragons faltered for a moment and then drove on.  The guards and other armed humans followed suit, firing at the wave of attackers.  More of the beasts slowed and a few dropped from the sky. 

Doldrus was furious, the bolt meant for the leaders of the uprising had been absorbed by one old beast!  He raised himself into the air on a black, swirling cloud and jumped, spinning headfirst towards the rebels.

Rage pervaded Falkaw’s vision.  All shapes were black in a world of blood red.  Only one target was in his sight, the  man who had dared caused him such pain—the man that was now astride a pathetic blue-green dragon, a puny sword in his grasp.  This sad little rebellion was about to feel the pain of destruction!

Brent, trembling in his nearby hiding place, witnessed the next moments.  The swirling black cloud of a man and the glowing woman impacted one another in a collision that rocked the valley; branches shook over Brent’s head.

The woman reeled back, but glowed all the brighter. The evil Wizard Doldrus rebounded back some twenty feet.  His form was now clear, the cloud he’d been riding on had dissipated.  The woman made the next move, putting her hands forth into the sky— both the Wizard and the woman disappeared from clear view.  In the place they’d been, the sky looked like a river’s surface, vague shapes flitting in and out of view.

The female dragon, Melou, was the next to enter the battle, tackling the black dragon with bared talons.  Brent knew this black beast to be evil to the core.  Commander Falkaw he was called, and there was a reason he was head of the Lexiter Guard.  Brent cringed, the female had no chance, she was half his size.  Falkaw took her attack head-on, caught her, and swung her lithe body through the air. Hardly pausing, he surged violently on towards the blue-green dragon with the black rider. Melou spun through the air, out of control.

Dliv saw the angry black dragon rushing him.  Instinctively he reared up and took a deep breath.  Jules read his thoughts and held on tight.  Dliv shot forth icy gas and water from his lungs and through his mouth, each moment the passed the mixture grew all the colder.

Falkaw flew right through the silly barrier, laughing to himself at the pathetic attempt to hinder him. Then his wings froze. 

He lost control of flight and shot toward the tower which stood dead ahead.  Now his tail, arms and legs were frozen.  Desperately he looked down and attempted to flame his own chest.  As the gaseous mixture moved from his lungs to his mouth, the ice sealed his jaw. The flame, having nowhere to go, blew his head off as his frozen carcass impacted the tower wall with the force of a three-hundred foot oak dropped to the earth from the clouds.  What had been the fiercest and meanest of the Lexiter Guard was now a million splinters of ice, sliding to the earth. 

Jules, filled with surprise and duly impressed, yelled out “With you, we may actually have a chance! I had no idea you had such skill!”

“I guess you should probably get to know me,” was all Dliv had to think.

The two of them turned their backs on the damaged tower and faced the oncoming rush of evil— the vast remainder of the Lexiter Dragon Guard.

Melou regained control of flight and returned to try to find Aresia.

Jos, now healed satisfactorily, turned his attention outward— as did his loyal dragon friend Lessiam. Such a battle as the one that lay before them has seldom been seen in history.

Derkesthai Trilogy

Book 2, Chapter 2

Battle’s End

Day 7, 12:35 A.M., September 8th

Aresia felt the world fade. It was just she and this dragon-killer now.

Doldrus was stunned and more wary now. He circled the floating girl, watching her every move.

She sized up the wizard. He was skinny, his robes tattered. Dried blood matted his hair. He looked disconnected from his surrounds, he was all eyes on her. He had bloodlust pumping through his veins. She could actually feel his overriding desire to kill, kill, kill.

Doldrus sprang first, into her mind, he would take her over like a puppet! He shot his arms forth and before Aresia could respond to an attack the likes of which she’d never before seen, he was in her head. Still floating some twenty feet away, but getting closer, he started feeding on her thoughts and emotions.

She began to doubt herself and why she had even tried to face him. She should just give herself to the wiser man. No! She came to and tried to fight back, but she was overwhelmed. He was strong and he had his foothold in her now.

Doldrus felt the cackle forming in his chest as he prepared the final assault. He would turn this girl on her friends. He would feed on her powers until she was dead in his dungeons!

Still fighting back, she waned. She was losing all consciousness.

“Call to me and I will come” a kind, feminine voice had trickled into Aresia’s head.

Doldrus sensed this and fought the new force. But the presence of it was of a nature he couldn’t seem to defeat so easily.

Melou felt a tender link form with the girl as she urged the lass to call to her. All that would be needed is the call and she would come.

Dliv and Jules both saw it as did Red and Crystal The onrushing dragons would soon meet Melou and rip her apart. And she was doing nothing to prepare. She hovered, gazing mindlessly at a ripple in the sky. She looked serene as a nurse at the bedside of one she knew she could heal. But she was about to die.

Dliv shot the thought to Red, “You go in low, I’m going in from above. We’’ll hold them off! With that, Jules bent across Dliv’s neck and Dliv shot into the sky and then down onto the oncoming dragons.

“Hold them off until when, we die?” is all Red thought to himself as he raced to Melou’s side. He nudged her with his right wingtip, but she didn’t stir.

The men and women below had fired what ammunition they could and dozens of dragons still they faced.

Diving, Dliv pulled up all the fluid he could from his body and froze it on the way out. Through his gaping mouth shot jets of water that formed into ice spears in moments, impaling five dragons through the chest, including one dragon who was about to tear into Melou’s neck. The dragons fell to the earth and crashed in a cloud of billowing dust.

A second shot like that one left Dliv feeling drained and another three dragons dead in the dirt.

Red saw two large, brown beasts on the attack. They were intent upon slicing open Melou. Twisting and slipping through the two large, muscled legs of the first beast, Red’s talons found the soft skin under its wings and he ripped into its flesh. Crystal’s two swords leapt into action as Red was attacked from behind by the second beast. She thrust one sword between the scales of the beast’s heavily protected chest.

The beast plucked the sword from his chest and tossed it through the air. He snarled his disdain at the pathetic attempt, “My chest is impenetrable. You shouldn’t have brought a human’s tool to a dragon fight, weakling!” Drawing open his wide jaws, he drove his head towards Crystal’s torso, not noticing the second sword still in her hand. She slipped this in front of her chest and into the soft palate of the beast’s gaping mouth, and let go of her poor sword with a sigh. Reacting to the pain, the dragon stupidly closed its mouth hard, driving the blade into its brain. It died before hitting the ground.

Dliv and Red were now side-by-side. A vicious, black dragon leapt up at Dliv’s underbelly. His large, spike-like teeth threatened to gut Jules’ newfound friend. “Roll!” Jules thought out to Dliv. Roll he did, and Jules swept his sword out in a wide, powerful arc. The black dragon’s snout, up to his jaw, was lopped off, and blood spread out in a mist through the air. The beast turned frantically the way he had come, spinning and shrieking into the ranks of the old Lexiter Guard. They became wary, collecting up in a spinning circle around Dliv, Red, Melou and the riders.

Dliv knew he was in trouble. He had no remaining resources in him. He sent his worried thoughts out to Red.

Red came up with the plan, turning into the swirling beasts. “I can beat any five of you!” He screamed! And five dragons immediately responded, they shot at him, their large bulks impelled violently through the intervening space.

They all flamed him at the same moment. Red raised up his chest to protect his rider. Crystal held tightly to her swords and clamped her knees in place in the gaps of scales.

Red could feel the bubble of his molten chest. But still he flapped his wings and waited. When the five were nearly upon him, he dove, taking the beasts away from Melou.

From the moment of the latest attack, Dliv flew directly up, high into the sky. His speed was like that of a star, shooting across the night’s sky. Soon Jules and Dliv were in the clouds, mists of the atmosphere surrounded them. Jules could feel Dliv’s scales absorbing the elements.

The five followed him, around to the back of the tower, into the woods where Red dropped amongst some tall, fat scalewood trees. Red’s chest was barren of all scales now, they had melted right off of him.

Another attack like that would kill him with his protection gone. Perhaps he could break up the group here, and have a better chance against them. He told Crystal to go and hide in the underbrush. She refused. She insisted that she would fight with him. Red resigned himself to this and rapidly made his way amongst the trees, squeezing first one way and then the next.

The five dropped rapidly into the trees, one after the next. One was tangled up in branches, wings ripped, before he touched the ground. But the other four started the search, ripping branches out of their way and roaring for their quarry.

Lessiam and Jos took off from the landing as Red shot off into the woods and as Dliv rose into the clouds. Lessiam could see what their plan was— and that it left Melou momentarily exposed. He reached her side, and she vanished.

Dliv now dove, his belly full of fluid. He was relieved to see Jos and Lessiam below. Where Melou had floated mindlessly only moments before, was empty space. “Where is she?!?” Dliv asked Lessiam.

“She just disappeared. I don’t know what happened.” Lessiam replied, the anxiety clear in his thoughts.

The old Lexiter Guard circled closer.

Jos thought out to Lessiam, “We will never defeat this many, there must be two dozen of them remaining. We need reinforcements!”

Turning his attention to the visible enemy, Lessiam muttered, “Sometimes the only reinforcements you can find lie in yourself.” Death seemed to be near, and he knew it.

It was then that Jos noticed something. The flat, cleared land in front of the tower was now deserted of all people as they hid in the trees. The partially destroyed wood of the old prison compound was a few hundred feet off. They could possibly use that.

He sent his thoughts out to Lessiam, Dliv and Jules.

The link formed, Aresia was aware of Melou, she called out to her, “Melou, help me. He’s in my head. I’ve lost control.”

Melou thrust back against Doldrus as she entered the ripple of space. All the world vanished but for a ragged Wizard some twenty feet away and a dying lass, near at hand.

Sending waves of mental attacks against Doldrus, he retreated. Then, in a blast of anger, he left Aresia’s consciousness with violence. Aresia stuttered in the air, faltering and then falling.

Doldrus would finish the girl now, and he would kill this female dragon.

Aresia plummeted towards the earth. Melou dove after her and shot a wing out.  Catching her just before impact, she curled the lass in to her chest and landed with grace.

Doldrus hovered menacingly above and shot forth a crackling bolt of energy directly at Melou’s chest.

Aresia had regained full consciousness and now put up her best defense. “Thank you my friend,” she said to Melou, as a strange noise filled the air. A white sheet of light shimmered over Melou’s body and Aresia glowed anew from her shelter at the dragon’s chest, behind her wing.

The bolt changed from a piercing point to a wave of energy as it engulfed Melou and Aresia. Doldrus smiled wickedly, the cackle returning to his throat. 

The twenty-four remaining dragons circled above as two dragons and two riders tried desperately to form a semblance of a plan.

Meanwhile, Red was in dire need of a bright idea himself. He was pinned behind a scalewood tree, hoping. For what, he wasn’t sure.

A hulking shadow appeared, interrupting the rays of dusty light that made their way to Red’s toes.

This was it, it was all over.

More shapes appeared. “We know you’re near, we can smell your burning carcass and that stinking human on your back!”

Red, though terrified, gathered himself up and thought to Crystal, “It was a valiant effort, we may as well go out fighting.”

Crystal, weaponless, reached up, snapped off a branch, and replied in Red’s head, “All right then. Let’s do this.”

Red, knowing he faced flame dragons, felt he had no defense, as Red was also a flame dragon, and they had him so out-numbered.

He then remembered a childhood moment, Crystal picked up the thought. 

Red was surrounded by big black bullies. He had placed fire bags on the rock seat of the lead bully during class that day. And, when the mean dragonling had sat down, he’d gotten a hot surprise.

Now Red was surrounded by the lead bully and his four cronies. They were all fire dragons too. He had led them to a creek and———Crystal, having gotten his thoughts, was prepared for what happened next, she leapt up to Red’s neck as he burst from cover. She swung around his neck and hung in front of his chest.

Red ran with all his might, he was smaller and quicker than the four beasts waiting for him, and he twirled amongst the trees more agilely than they. But not agile enough to escape the flame that he felt licking his tail and spine. Crystal felt his pain, but on he ran, left, than around a huge trunk, then right, sensing the nearby river.

There it was, the rushing water. “Hold your breath,” he thought out to Crystal, and he dove, headfirst and with four dragons on his tail, into the deep water that Lessiam and Jos had escaped through only days before.

Lessiam and Jos, Dliv and Jules looked at one another. The circle of dragons around them was almost near enough to flame them now. They couldn’t run. The hiding humans below would all be tortured and enslaved at best. They all understood. And they all dove for the River Diluthian.

The circling dragons were not about to let them get away. The chase was on. Jules spun and scrambled to Dliv’s tail, sweeping out with his sword anytime a beast got too close. A few more dragons had lost their snouts in the process.

Jos, though reserving his energy, was forced to throw out a few bolts of energy to force their pursuers back.

As the trees cleared, they knew the Diluthian was dead ahead. Lessiam spun upside down right over the last trees. Jos let go, tumbling into the braches.

The onrushing beasts didn’t notice Jos’ disappearance as Lessiam, Dliv and Jules dove headfirst into the deep Diluthian.

Jos scrambled down the tree he’d just plopped down into and ran with all his might back to the clearing.

The four beasts chased Red right into the water, as he’d planned. They submerged behind him as he immediately shot forth into the sky. He hoped this worked as well as when he was a youngster. While it was a proven fact that wet wings really slow a firedragon’s flight, and knowing that smaller dragons are almost always quicker didn’t help his confidence much as he raced back to the tower. The four wet beasts were spurred on by the furor they felt as they flew out of the water, spotted Red and took off after him.

Aresia’s shield not only held, she’d made it with tiny pores. The energy of Doldrus’ attack filtered through these pores and into Aresia, empowering her.

She asked Melou to release her, and she stood in front of her new friend.

Doldrus’ cackle died immediately as the shock of their survival came over him. He bared his nails and flung himself at the girl, he would kill her if it killed him!

As he reached her, Aresia thought to Melou, “Step back.”

Aresia curled into a ball and Doldrus flew over her head into the dirt, rolling along the ground, out of control.

Doldrus was out of his mind now, he’d spun to a stop, and twisted himself raggedly to his feet. He ran full bore at the lass, who stood her ground, watching the man as he dove through the air at her. She put her hand up, stepped to the side in a flash as he passed, and brought her hand down upon his neck. The crack of breaking bones and a gasp for air and the old wizard was dead.

As Jos entered the clear ground in front of the tower, he got to work. He knew full-well that Lessiam’s life depended on how fast he did this.

Rising up his arms, he brought forth two dozen logs from the pile of debris that had been the prison walls.

As the logs rose from their dusty resting place, Jos felt their weight come over him. It was taxing his strength quicker than he’d anticipated, he faltered. This may be too much for him.

Suddenly Melou and Aresia appeared as if from nowhere. He was shocked. The logs crashed to the earth. Aresia was alive! And here! Joy came over him as he ran to her and her to him. They embraced.

Holding her in front of him by her shoulders, he explained the situation to her rapidly, Melou listening.

Aresia explained that she could help and the two of them again raised the logs into the sky.

It was then that Red, four very angry dragons on his tail, and a wet woman on his back, appeared from over the trees.

Melou sent out a thought to Aresia and then a thought to Red, “Drop and roll.”

Aresia sent four of her log spikes through the air at the soaked and sluggish tailing dragons. They didn’t have a chance. They were each impaled head-to-toe.

Aresia raised four new logs into the air and, she and Jos ensuring they were all still sharp and ready for use, Melou landed and picked them both up. 

Red spun and followed Melou and the two-dozen logs to the Diluthian.

Jules watched from the bank as the remainder of the battle unfolded. He had dove to the bank and rolled right as Dliv entered the river, knowing the beast, being a Sea Dragon, could hold his breath indefinitely, as could Lessiam, a Hybrid.

The twenty-four remaining members of the Lexiter Guard hovered over the water. Their leaders, two large brown dragons named Dinx and Livert, would wait and they would avenge Klawsan’s death.

Lessiam and Dliv simply swam to the bottom of the river and hoped Jos had the power to pull this off. Occasionally one of them would break the top of the water for an instant to keep the twenty-four transfixed on their quarry.

The final attack was over before either Dinx or Livert could issue an order. Of all of them, Dinx was the only one who even got a look at the agent of their end. He looked up right as a hail of huge spikes hurtled through the bodies of the remaining members of what had once been the unruly, mean and low, Lexiter Dragon Guard of the Wizard Doldrus. Dinx’ last thought was a simple exclamation.

To be continued……………………..

Note: “Derkesthai” is the Greek source of the word “dragon” and means “to see.”

© Daniel Thomas O’Connor 2007