The Chronicles of Valana Volume 1: Shadowlands

by AB

Chapter 11

Rise dragon riders of Dara

Elves fair and immortal will stand, Speakers loyal and stubborn will stand.

Human hearts are easily deceived, magic, sword or spirit will be deceived.

Orkhavoc stand for evil, unpossesing of requirement to resist the evil.

Wyrms of fire stand divided, for evil, for survival they stand divided.

2 weeks ago in Zah Dah.

Olan sat sprawled on his throne, one leg over the other, one hand laid over the arm of the black marble throne while the other held a black glazed looking spherical orb.

"General Atrik, commence the attack on Lavonia. General Naire, unleash your army on the Kingdom of Eri'Adar. The rest of you have your orders." He spoke to his Generals through the black orb.

Atrik bowed and left. Naire looked in the black orb on his side.

"My Lord, why attack now? Our spy has told us of Liandras' plans and the path of the bearers of the prophesy."

"I know the High-King of the Elves…he will not wait a month, and neither will I. I will assume control of the battle against him. Do not fail me in Eri'Adar Naire." Olan said and threw the orb on the floor. He brought the blade onto his lap and caressed it and its gems.

"Soon…soon my pretties…soon…I'll make him open doom…soon…"

"Duck silly!" Aer'andil yelled at Lucas and a split second later he let loose one of the arrows. Flicking his fingers, he switched the second arrow he was holding from the spot behind the feathers and brought it to the bowstring.

Lucas ducked, the arrow passing inches from his cheek as a fierce looking quadrupedal animal rushed out of the nearby ruined columns and charged after them. The first arrow grazed its hide. It growled and just as it jumped, the second and third arrows found their mark, one between his eyes and one in the base of its neck. It fell down dead. Aer'andil spun around to see Feldon fall another one.

The beast looked like a disfigured mix between a lion and a dog, but twice as big as any lions Aer'andil had ever seen, with no eyes and an oversized nose.

"What the fuck are these things?" Aer'andil yelled as he scanned for others that may have been lurking about.

"Daghesi…nasty buggers, they hunt from a distance by making their prey feel tired and constantly irritated until it is so disoriented and tired it doesn't see them coming…but they are not the only things hunting us…GILTHIAN!!! COME OUT YOU CRAVEN BASTARD!" Feldon yelled at the air.

For Merol and the rest when the two Daghesi died it was as if a veil lifted from their minds.

"Daghesi….I hate Daghesi….Speakers can't fucking sense them…" Merol said in a growl and fisted his sword and shield bringing them.

"What…what happened? I barely remember anything from the past few days…" Lucas said coming up, dusting his clothes.

"Not now…Gilthian? Where are you, you fucking pest?" Aer'andil said his face ashen with rage.

An eerie, unearthly laughter filled the crumbling citadel then a black mist filled the space around them.

"Good to see you again…hunter…you really sure you killed me back then?" Gilthian appeared before them, in a dark cloak and hood. His twisted, disfigured face barely showing under it.

"Oh I did kill you fiend. Ready to die again?" Feldon snarled and charged.

Gilthian laughed, "Not this time old friend. This time I have friends. Shadowkillers attack!" He said and out of the black mist, hooded figures materialised holding daggers and bows.

"I've killed worse things, coward." Feldon said and swung his spear. It connected with nothing but mist. Gilthian vaporised to materialise behind him. At the same time hooded figures appeared from within the mist.

Gilthian spread out his hands towards the ground and grinned. "Welcome, my friend to one of the headquarters of the dark brotherhood. Jabegha." He said and the ground shook. The Citadel changed before their eyes, from a crumbling ruin it transformed into a renovated building as if built only recently.

"Shadowkillers…kill them all. Bathe our headquarters with their blood." Gilthian said and attacked Feldon. The Shadowkillers charged against the still dazed party.

Soon enough they were dodging dagger attacks and black magic. They were outnumbered and in some cases outclassed.

Feldon swung his spear and yelled "Liostro!" at the same time. A projectile beam of light erupted out from the blade of the spear. Gilthian avoided it but the Shadowkiller behind him did not. It struck him square on the chest. He fell dead on the floor with a horrible hissing sound.

"Use light magic or runes, light is the only thing that can kill them." Aer'andil said and let loose a stream of light from his hand. The shadowkillers avoided it.

He launched another one and caught one in the stomach. He hissed and fell dead.

The battle progressed but it was soon evident that it was not going well. The twins had to turn to vapour, as they could not battle the Shadowkillers. Segaru had a deep cut across his left hand and had three shadowkillers against him Micraal was nowhere to be seen Lucas was deflecting and exchanging sword blows with four of them Merol had at least ten of them and even if he was killing them with light runes and Speaker abilities they just kept coming and coming.

Feldon was battling with Gilthian and a score of other Shadowkillers.

He was truly a warrior to behold. He held the Spear of Galorn right hand and unleashed magic upon magic with his left all the while dodging attacks as if he knew where and how they were coming. A choreographer could not have set it up better if he tried. Shadowkillers would attack him from everywhere and not a single blow would land. He would protect himself with the Spear and attack with magic and vice versa in a flurry of movements. The Shadowkillers hissed and grimaced but his face did not change.

Aer'andil tried to get close but it was as if Shadowkiller after Shadowkiller would jump in his way.

One of them run to him dodging one attack after another and brought a sword on his head. Aer'andil dodged it and in a lightning fast move brought a dagger up to his neck.

The Shadowkiller dodged and the dagger missed his neck but it caught his hood drawing it back. He was vile. Perhaps one of the vilest looking creatures Aer'andil had yet seen. He had no lips, cut at the base of the mouth, no eyelids, red eyes, bald with only sparse hair, half cut ears and a putrefying skin.

"God you're ugly." Aer'andil said in disgust.

The Shadowkiller laughed a skin-crawling laughter. "Hello again young one, remember me?" His voice made the hair on the back of Aer'andil's neck stand up.

Aer'andil dodged another attack that grazed his light leather armour. "I don't know you fiend, now will you please die already?" He said and launched another attack at the Shadowkiller.

"Yes, you do. I almost killed you twelve years ago. I stood above your cradle and had almost slit your Royal throat when your bitch of a mother interrupted me and killed two of my brethren. Tonight I get my vengeance." He said dodging the magical attack and attacked Aer'andil using both hands armed with black looking fang-like daggers.

"How dare you talk of my mother like that? Die!" Aer'andil closed his eyes and concentrated on a single word of compound magic.

"Fedlaso ial Liostro!" He whispered and opened his eyes. Blue flames erupted from them and a concussion wave of intense light pushed outwards.

The Shadowkiller tried to turn and run but even he was too slow. The light enveloped him. He burst into flames, his ash scattered by the pushing wave of light.

"Talk about my parents like that again…oh no wait, you can't 'cause YOU'RE DEAD!" Aer'andil said and turned his attention to the other Shadowkillers near him.

Lucas tried not to laugh with his friend's taunting of the dead Shadowkiller but the momentary lapse in attention allowed the Shadowkiller he was fighting to land him a blow on his ribs, cutting him up.

Lucas cringed, "How many of them are there?" He yelled to no one in particular. He met the dark assassin's blade with both of his blades and then feigned an attack to his neck.

The Shadowkiller raised his blade to protect his neck. Lucas grinned, at the last minute grabbed both blades with one hand, and kneeled. He pressed a rune on the Shadowkiller's waist and rolled back. Before it could react, the rune exploded in a burst of light killing him.

The black mist surrounded them. It felt cold as if it was sapping their life energy.

Lucas pushed through the mist only to encounter yet another dark assassin. "Oh come on this never ends. Will you guys just d….ouch!" Lucas had been paying attention to his front, which allowed another Shadowkiller to stab at him from his back shuttering his protection rune and stabbing him at his right bicep. The Shadowkiller laughed eerily and removed the blade only to stab at Lucas again.

Lucas did not wait and spun around in a whirlwind motion with his blades extended. He knew they would not hurt them but it would buy him some time. His arm was bleeding and he was getting tired.

Merol was fighting as if there was no tomorrow, swinging his blade every which way, using his shield both as a defensive and offensive tool blocking enemy attacks and using it to push back and smash it on enemies.

He placed a rune on the front of the shield and then raising it up to head level; he pointed it to the nearest bunch of Shadowkillers.

"We're not hurting them…this is much like the caves of sorrow…were they illusions then or Shadow killers like now…We kill them…the mist envelops the area and then something new…the mist…" Aer'andil was thinking as he fought his way to Gilthian and Feldon.

"The mist…but how…GILTHIAN you owe me blood!" In the traditions of Elves if an enemy drew blood, then the elf had to draw blood back from him or there would forever be a link between them. It made the elves ferocious in battle and without mercy for the enemy.

Gilthian turned around. A score of Shadowkillers stepped between him and Feldon.

"If it isn't the young elf…ready to die child?" Gilthian asked and launched at him.

"Not this day." In one swift movement, he brought the bow to his fore and pulled back three arrows at the same time. He let loose with a whisper.

"Arrows can't hur…AAGGGHHH!" Gilthian started saying when he broke an arrow with his dagger so that it would not hit him. The moment the arrow broke, it released an astounding amount of light energy, two Shadowkillers burst into flame.

He vanished with a screeching sound, "Good effort boy, but I am not that easy to kill, ask Feldon." He heard a voice from somewhere around him, the mist had seeped in after the light had faded away.

"Feldon…fire light at the mist itself." Aer'andil screamed at Feldon as he defended himself against more dark assassins.

Feldon did not reply instead he jumped sideways landing inside the mist. Then light erupted from it. All of the Shadowkillers screeched in unison in horror.

"The Sahe'gehern….stop them!" Gilthian's voice reverberated across the citadel. The mist looked like it was bleeding black blood.

"Everyone! Cast light into the mist!" Aer'andil yelled when something impacted his temple and he staggered back falling on the floor.

He looked around dazed, Segaru was kneeling on the floor clutching his stomach, Lucas was holding on to his bleeding hand, the twins tried their best but would soon not have any more spirit energy to transform between states. The mist and the battle were taking their toll on them. Merol still stood but more Shadowkillers surrounded him by the second.

Feldon sighed. "This has gone on long enough…I hope they are as magical as the reports make them out to be and nearby…or we are lost." He thought and stood up. He brought the Spear to his fore and held it with both hands. He closed his eyes and opened his mind to the world.

"Hear me oh Wyrms of Fire. I am Feldon Leolin. We require thy aid against the darkness. Those who oppose Zah Dah and everything it stands for need help. Follow the light into darkness, for survival, for life, fight for us, with us!" He cast out his thoughts with as much strength as he could muster. Opening his eyes, he raised the Spear a few inches from the ground and then with force he banged it down against the soil with a word on his lips. "Nilothliostar!"

A column of light erupted from him and the spear upwards into the sky. Feldon held it for as long as he could. Feeling exhausted he kneeled on the ground swirling the spear left and right.

A Shadowkiller approached him from his left. He stabbed him with the spear and the battle raged on all around him. Minutes passed in almost an hour. It was almost lost, Segaru was bleeding, the twins had retreated unable to fight no more even Merol was sporting cuts and bruises over his ribs and arms.

Lucas snapped his head to the skies above. He felt it, a yearning, an unconquerable need rising from the depths of his soul, strength he knew not he had. Something was coming closer, a force of nature, fire incarnate.

Thudding sounds, loud as thunders filled their ears.

The next moment fire erupted all around them followed by a deafening roar.

"Dragons of Fundor, remnants of Vaser save those that stand against the darkness." A deep, calm voice resounded across the ancient citadel making their chests pulse from its bass intensity.

One roar after another, huge figures swept down from the skies above bathing the Shadowkillers in wyrmfire.

Through the pitch black, the light of the fire allowed them to see huge aerodynamic figures on wings fly up and down, bodies full of scales and mouths full of teeth. Glistening reptilian eyes gazing down at them.

"Dragons! Lucas!" Aer'andil yelled in excitement, fatigue forgotten he started casting about one light spell after another directly into the mist. "Dragons! Breathe fire into the mist! Destroy the mist!" He yelled at them hoping they would understand him. He said in the human tongue and repeated in his Elven language then continued casting light into the mist.

The Shadowkillers hissed and wailed but could not even land a single blow on the flying creatures above.

The dragons seemed to understand him as some of them landed into the mist and bathed it in fire.

"Retreat!" Gilthian said before vanishing.

"Come back coward! You still owe me blood!" Aer'andil bellowed but it was too late. The mist dispersed and the Shadowkillers vanished.

He fell to his knees feeling as tired as he had not felt in a good long while, not since before their stay in the Elven isles.

Some of the dragons continued to fly overhead, some landed on the perimeter while another landed near Feldon and brought his oval shaped elongated head to the same level as Feldon's.

"You be the one that called us, you stand against the plague that is Zah Dah?" He asked in a deep bass voice.

"Yes, I am the one that called you. We all stand against the darkness of Zah Dah. Thank you for helping us." Feldon made a small bow with his head.

"We can save the introductions later this place is not safe…ride on our backs and let us fly away from this place." The dragon said and turned his head seemingly searching for something. He sniffed the air and walked on the opposite direction towards Lucas and Aer'andil.

A dragon landed and lay down so that Feldon could climb up behind its neck. The dragon spread its wings and took off.

Merol, Segaru, Micraal and the twins followed suit.

Aer'andil was next. The dragon leader smelled him and pointed to another dragon that landed near him with his snout. Aer'andil smiled and nodded.

The dragon sniffed Lucas, "You, you are the one I've been looking for. I thought it would be the other human, the one with the men and swords clad in silver but he chose Karadenia. Ifeel…connected to you, drawn like moths to fire, will you be fire or sun?" The dragon spoke to him.

Lucas had not felt like this. Ever. He could feel the dragon tag at his heart, his very soul. He looked at the deep white-red pools of wisdom and touched the dragon's snout.

"Ifeel the same, I have the same questions. I have no answers…yet. I am Lucas…"

The dragon looked right back at him, "No, that is not your name, but I can sense you know it not either, ride me rider of mine. Let us and Karadenia make a new era for my species and yours. Let us be sun to darkness and fire to our own. I am Fundor leader of the resistance against Droholost the dreadful." Lucas hugged him across his neck. He felt…full, no longer missing or lost.

He climbed up on the dragon's back. "If I am to ride you we will soon have to make you a saddle or my thighs are going to severely tear up and chuff from your scales."

Fundor spread his wings, and with a thrust, they were airborne. Lucas held on with his hands and legs around the mighty beast's neck and back but the sensation of having this kind of primordial, raw power under him felt strangely invigorating and content.

The dragons flew them outside of the Firefly forest by the river Jithral. It was almost dawn break.

"We thank you for your assistance. Would you be willing to fight Zah Dah with us?" Feldon dismounted and got straight to the point.

"Yes. Droholost and Olan cannot be allowed to win, it will mean the destruction of both Elaria and this place you call Valana. I am Fundor leader of the resistance against Droholost the dreadful. I and my dragons will be your allies if you will have us." He said.

"Olan?" Segaru asked.

"The Master of Zah Dah." Fundor replied looking at the boy. Segaru whimpered took a couple of steps back.

"Why do you not ally yourself with Zah Dah like Droholost?" Merol asked.

Fundor reared his head and let loose a huge pylon of fire skywards. "Ally myself with the kinslayer? With Darkness? The dragons stand divided but Droholost will bring ruin to my people, my dragons. Olan will never allow him to get the power he wants. Droholost thinks OIan will give him the Elven Islands as reward for his alliance, I think not. I will fight them until my dying breath."

"Tell us oh great Wyrm, what is your story? Where are you from?" Feldon enquired.

Fundor sat on his hind legs and folded his wings to his sides. Lucas would not break away from him. A hand on the dragon's neck.

"We come from a place called the archipelagos of Vaser in Elaria, a landmass to the south of Valana. We were always unwelcome to the lands outside of Vaser, humans and Orkhavocs always battled us. A few thousand years ago, a man but not a man came to Vaser. He promised my brood's grandfather untold riches and power, revenge over the humans of Elaria if he helped him in his war in the north. My grandfather said no and soon after his son betrayed and killed him. My father, Droholost's father. From a young age Droholost vied to gain his father's…our father's acceptance, soon enough he enjoyed many things that go against a Dragon's nature, my nature. When I was of age I challenged Droholost and begun the civil war and the resistance. If we do not win, my species will become extinct. My father and Droholost have slain too many humans to be welcome there ever again, Vaser has become too unhospitable to live, and lay nests there, my people are slowly dying. We seek more than an alliance. We seek a place to call home, to lay nests with enough food and isolation from anyone who would wish us and our young harm." Fundor said in a bitter, sad voice.

"And what of Orkhavocs? Humans your sire and brother have killed, what abo…" Lucas started but Fundor cut him off with an ear splitting dragon-laughter.

"Orkhavocs? We kill them, vile and easily deceived things that they are and eat them, no dragon will ever feel bad about that! They do taste awful though." Fundor said with the other dragons joining in the laugh.

Aer'andil looked at him with the new day's light. He was truly a majestic creature. Blood red with large curved horns on either side on the top of his head and on his chin. A membrane extruded from spikes from the top of his head to the base of his neck. The top of his head was more angular and flat whereas the bottom of his head and jaws were curvy and round.

As he spoke rays of sharp teeth showed in his mouth and a forked tongue. He looked to be over twenty meters long and five meters high. His wingspan looked to be about seventy meters from wing tip to wing tip, with thick dark red membranes connecting the various bones and thick, powerful muscles connecting them to the rest of the body. A web of veins dotted the membranes.

Two sets of front and rear legs ended in curved thick large black claws. He looked as ancient as he looked wise and kind.

"A gentle but fierce giant built to soar the skies." Aer'andil thought.

"I am Aer'andil son of Liandras, Crown Prince of all Elves. We will be your allies in this war and after. Aid us and with all the authority of the Royal Palace of Gel'anr, I can promise you land to call your own. The islands of Tel'Naro to the west and south of Gel'anr are uninhabited by Elves and long have we wished the Harpies gone from them. The blood marches would be an ideal hunting ground with little to no human presence. With the same authority and so long as your dragons do not kill humans or farm animals I can make sure the humans do not harass your kind." As he spoke with his back to Feldon, he missed a slight grin form on the lips of his tutor and protector.

"I think Batorn will not mind giving your people the lands of the firefly forest and the black hill, no human goes there if they can avoid it. The same applies for the flat spires north of Lavonia. Both will be equally a good place to hatch and raise young." Merol said grinning. "Both are equally remote and avoided by any sentient life."

"I agree with those terms, the dragons of Fundor are your allies against the darkness." Fundor said and spreading his wings, he let out a fierce roar, his head tilting back. The dragons landed or airborne followed his example.

"Marco, how did you know…when to attack the Daghesi?" Lucas asked him when the dragons fell silent.

"Oh, simple. Feldon has always told me that when in the wild always be behind that which you protect, the moment he passed in front of me I knew it was time so I pushed your buttons to cause a ruckus and throw the Daghesi off balance long enough for me to spot and aim at them. I knew something was off before we even reached Padala's watch." Aer'andil said. "What I do not know…Feldon how on all that is good did you know the dragons would be near?" He asked Feldon turning to see him.

"Merol and the others were too influenced by the Daghesi and you are blind to all except Norion and Tha'ala, you must let go now or fear losing them forever. You all never looked where you should have. I saw them circling above us in the far distance, sensed their magic. I knew they were following us since we landed in Kilvi Vindro but keeping their distance. When the twins told us the rumours from the tavern in Padala's watch I knew they meant us no harm." He said looking at his protégé.

Aer'andil nodded and looked down sad.

"Speaking of which…what took you so long in the tavern?" Merol asked the twins who blushed and grinned goofily.

"Oh…eh…Daghesi have a…different effect on us than normal humans. We…uhmm…" Beck started saying and Drake finished his sentence. "…become hornier…sooooo we were taking care of…stuff…" Lucas and Aer'andil shook their heads and rolled their eyes. Segaru was a mixture of shock and a something else. He readjusted his package and cleared his throat.

"The problem now is this…" Merol started saying. "What do we do about Dara?... My brother is in chains or dead that bitch my third cousin Garinha sits in the throne we go in there we…" Lucas cut him off.

"Actually…that is exactly what we must do…you are the rightful king of Dara aren't you?" He asked Merol.

Merol sighed. "I was…when…when my wife died during childbirth and our son died as well…I just could not stay there anymore…so I wondered the lands before settling down where you found me. My brother keeps the throne warm until….until I return I guess. How did you know?"

"Clues here and there…something Liandras said about a year ago then your reaction to Batorn's king, the respect the Elves showed you in general. I am good at rationally thinking things through." Lucas replied.

"So what did you think? Why is that important? That I was the rightful king of Dara?" Merol asked him raising a brow.

"We walk…well fly right through the front door and confront your cousin. She does not have the people's support, she does not have the army's support, she won't have the support of the majority of the nobles or she would have the support of the army. She is saying that she is consolidating power but she's locked up in the Royal palace because if she walks out she is quite likely to get killed….soooo fly right through the front doors and turn everything in on her head. Rally the army, the people and the nobles and take her down."

Merol looked at him with an incredulous look on his face. "That…might actually work if Fun…" he started saying but Fundor cut him off.

"The dragons are with you, let us fly." He said simply and lowered so that Lucas could climb. "Ygala, take the twins and the arrogant one," He said and pointed at Segaru with a front leg claw.

"I am not…" Segaru started saying but Fundor's look cut him off instantly.

"Hageron take the two Elves, Nakorol take the other human and Merol." Fundor said, "The rest of you, fly in a wedge formation behind us."

They mounted and they were off. The dragons climbed to as high an altitude as they could. It was a unique, new and strange feeling for everyone. Lucas and Aer'andil of course knew more about planets and stuff than the rest of them coming from Earth but seeing the world on the back of a dragon, flying as high as this where the curvature of the planet they were on could be understood with the naked eye was almost a spiritual experience for them as well.

"Does it go forever? Is the world endless?" Segaru and Micraal each on his own way,

"Look! That must be Batorn on our left right?" Lucas yelled, his voice carried by the wind.

"Yes! Dara connects to the mainland only through two passages to the north and south. They are of course heavily fortified." Merol yelled back at him.

It was a strange thing to view the landscape from such a high altitude. Below them Batorn, a bustling city looked like a small dot, the farmlands appeared as if a patchwork, like the ground had torn and someone had patched it up with a variety of different colours and shapes. The river Jithral flowed through the land like a great vein carrying life with it through its journey to the sea. The dragons kept going straight when the river below them turned right. They could see its eventual spill into the sea far to the south.

Soon after the dragons began their descend. In about an hour later they saw the glimmering city of Dara in the horison.

"Rider of mine, stealth or awe?" Fundor asked Lucas who grinned. "Shock and awe!" He yelled out and tightened his thighs in anticipation.

Fundor chuckled and rearing his head back, he bellowed a roar followed by a stream of dragon's breath.

Below them villagers shot out of their homes to look up in the sky.

"Nakorol, take us lower, I have a message to give." Merol said and the dragon folded its wings. Micraal yelled as vertigo overcame him from Nakorol's sharp descend.

The dragon leveled just above the rooftops of the village. "Hear me citizens of Dara! I am Merol Keen, rightful king of Dara! Garinha is nothing but a usurper to the throne and a user of dark spiritum! Aid me to take her down!" Merol yelled. He obviously had also used a rune because his voice boomed all around them.

Some of the villagers below cheered, others run inside their houses, some to exit holding weapons.

Merol repeated this in every village and small town they passed over. Behind them, an increasing swarm of people followed in their fastest pace.

Finally, the Emerald gates of Dara depicting cosmogenesis according to the speakers were clearly visible in front of them.

"Do we break them down?" Fundor asked.

"No." Merol urged, "It is of great importance to my people, fly us over and set us down near that tower. I can open the gates from there." Merol told him and pointed to a tower left of the gate.

The dragons hovered near the parapets allowing them to jump on the walls. It was all done so fast, from their appearance to jumping on the dinuchin machal, or spirit walls, created after the pact was made and supposedly blessed by the spirits to withstand any and all attacks against Speaker and magical attacks, that the guards on the walls had no time to react.

"Lieutenant Harol! We are under attack! Dara is under attack!" Someone screamed. Margarmir, a dragon under Fundor reared her head ready to bathe the guards with fire but Merol stopped her.

"Plan of attack?" Fundor asked flexing his claws.

"No!" Merol yelled to everyone. "Wait, these are my countrymen, my…subjects, kill them only if first attacked, do not attack them first!" He urged not just the dragons but his companions as well.

A man wearing the colours of Dara and the Lieutenant's insignia run out of the tower. "What in the name of….wait! Do not fire! That is the King! The King has returned! Merol Keen has returned!" The Lieutenant yelled excited. He run to Merol as he landed on the tower and knelled before him.

"My King! Your country needs you, your people need you, the usurper Garinha has locked herself in the Royal Palace but has left the mercenaries to guard key locations in the city. Your orders are our command." He said and kept his head bowed.

"Get up, I am no one's King, I have long since abdicated…but I am back to undo what that bitch has done…Where is my brother? Is he dead?" Merol asked motioning for the Lieutenant to get up.

"He is held at the Palace's prison. She would not dare execute him without first consolidating her power."

"Fundor, want some action?" Merol asked the great, red dragon.

Fundor chuckled and let loose a puff of smoke from his mouth.

"Take the Lieutenant and have him direct you to the various spots in the city where the mercenaries are using to control the city. Bring them ruin and death."

Fundor landed on the wall and allowed the Lieutenant to ride him. "They are dead." He said and took off.

"Darastrishil! Mrith ve!" He roared.

"The rest of you, follow me to the Royal Palace." Merol said and started walking to the city after opening the Emerald Gates.

When the citizens of Dara realised who was walking amongst them again they cheered. Others called to arms and made profane taunts to the mercenaries and Garinha.

They heard a thunderous roar from another district of the city followed by explosions as the dragons fought the mercenaries and their holds over the city. Screams followed the dragons like long lost friends.

With thousands following them, they arrived at the Royal Palace.

Built by the sea the city was one huge fortification, with walls encircling and diving it into different districts. Essentially the whole city was a giant citadel built inside a giant citadel. It had no frivolities or excess beauty, unlike the Elven islands. In fact, the only carved surface in the city that could be seen on the exterior was the Emerald Gates. The Royal Palace was a large building complex in the center of the city with walls of its own and tall towers.

"GARINHA! GIVE ME BACK MY CITY!" Merol screamed at the Palace. A thunder tore at the sky and landed near him.


Another roar and more screams followed by bright lights sounded near them. The dragons were closing in.


Merol turned to Feldon and whoever else was near him. "I am not sacrificing innocent lives for her. I prefer to have to rebuild part of the castle. We wait for the dragons." He said and turned his attention back to the Palace.

A black cloud descended on them from the tallest tower of the Palace.

Merol took out a rune from his satchel and cast it around them. The black cloud dissipated and vanished.


They waited and the dragon roars came ever closer. A while after two figures came on the top of one of the shorter towers. Lucas could tell it was two women even from a distance. One of them was wearing black robes and hood.



"I DID AS MY conscience DEMANDED! I DID WHAT I DID FOR MY PEOPLE!" She yelled back.



Fundor arrived with some of the dragons and flew in circles above the Palace.


Garinha turned to speak with the General of Zah Dah. The distance and wind made it impossible for anyone to hear what they said.



The two women spoke some more between them and then in a sudden move the Dark General pushed Garinha over the tower's edge. She plummeted into the void and down to her death. Fundor dived for the Dark General breathing fire, claws at the ready but before Fundor or his breath of fire was even remotely close she vanished in a black mist.

Merol looked behind him to the citizens and army of Dara that had followed him there. "The Palace Gates. Open them." He said.

He walked over to Garinha's dead corpse and shook his head feeling sad. "Where did it all go wrong? At one time you were my favourite niece." He whispered and then turned his head to one of the army officers.

"Corporal, what is your name?"

"Sir, Lakiri Dothos, sir!" The corporal saluted and answered him.

"Fine name soldier, your parents must be proud of you. My niece even though she is a traitor is still one of the Royal bloodline. Please see to it that she is buried in the family crypts but without any official honours."

"Sir, yes sir!" The officer saluted and with a few more soldiers, they boarded Garinha's dead body into a wagon and carried her off to the Royal crypt in Dara's cemetery.

The mob meanwhile was breaking down on the Palace Gates cheering and screaming.

As the Gates were about to give way they opened from the inside.

"Hold your fire! We surrender." Voices came from the inside.

The moment the Gates were open most in the mob looked at Merol, to gauge his reaction, to listen to what he would tell them.

Aer'andil, Lucas, Segaru included saw his face reveal emotions for the first time. "Surrender? They used Dark Spiritum against my people….no, no surrender, no justice, no mercy. Kill them all. Empty my beloved city from this filth." Disgust and anger manifest as he spoke. He released his sword from its sheath and moved to the opened Gates.

Awkward silence gave way to exorbitant yelling as the Daran mob forced through the Gates opening them ajar as they stormed the Palace.

The defenders stood motionless, some thinking that if they don't attack they would be spared some were stunned by the offensive of the mob.

By the time, the defending mercenaries understood there would be no mercy from the Darans they were upon them and the fight at the Gates was over.

"Clear out the other floors from this filth, we are going to the Palace prison. We must talk with my brother." Merol said.

They followed Merol through the stone corridors and then down the stairs to the prison.

Two mercenaries stood at the prison doors. They charged at Merol who didn't even swing his sword. Instead, he grabbed at a rune and threw it at the air.

"Freeze." He snarled. The air pulsed and Ice formed all over the two mercenaries. In an instant, the two men stood frozen on the spot encased in ice crystal. Merol walked passed them and whirled his sword smashing the ice and the men in bits and pieces. He pushed the door and scanned the elongated room.

Another mercenary charged at Merol. Merol grabbed at the wrist and squeezed. They heard the wrist snap and the man crYout in pain. The cry did not last long. Merol grabbed the man's neck and twisted it in a fast but sudden motion breaking his neck.

"You filth do not get to soil my blade with thy blood." He told the dead man and let go of his neck. The man fell down dead.

Merol searched through the rooms releasing prisoners as he went, Feldon knowing how his brother looked like helped him along. The boys remained in the central room with the dead guard.

"Ifound him! Come help me." Merol yelled. Feldon went to him but grabbed Merol's hand and stayed him from touching his brother.

"No! Stop…" He urged Merol. "Look at his eyes…his skin… Lavosh'nadri…touch him and you die." Feldon said.

Merol took a deep breath. "Those sons of whores…I can't even touch my own brother…?"

The others came to the cell door. Lucas and Aer'andil entered it. Aer'andil looked at him. He looked broken, beat up, with broken bones, cuts and bruises all over his rags-covered body.

"Something's wrong…" Lucas whispered.

"Yes…death skin, anyone touches him they die instantly." Merol said.

"No…something else…Merol, let go of your emotions they are clouding your Speaker abilities." Lucas told him and kneeled in front of Merol's brother.

"The…the child is correct…Merol…drinor…they cast drinor on me…then they cast death skin and I am sure I am bleeding internally…If…if…" Merol's brother tried to speak with intense coughing cutting him off.

"Oh, my brother…what have they done to you? To remove the death skin and drinor I have to touch you, but if I touch you I die…and if you tell us what we are here to ask you, you will die and we cannot heal you…sadistic sons of whores…Carahal…did you tell them anything?" Merol asked his half-conscious brother.

"No…Liandras saw to it I could not…he knew…knew I was vulnerable while he was not…so he cast a partial amnesia spell on me…I know I have something to tell you but until I see both bearers of prophesy I remember not more. So come closer children…let us get this over with…I want to rest." Carahal said coughing up blood.

Lucas and Aer'andil walked closer to him. Carahal groaned and his pupils dilated.

"What did Liandras tell you?" He asked the two boys who knelled in front of him.

"He told me who I was, the prophesy, cosmogenesis according to the Elves, and of the previous war." Aer'andil answered in a low voice.

"Have you his passion child?" Carahal asked.

"Yes…and then some…" Lucas replied for his friend.

"Then I think he told you not all of the prophesy…"

"What? How can you know what my father told us?"

"Your reply just verifies it…if he had you would not be here right now…"

"What? Why?" Aer'andil's voice was becoming more intense as questions passed.

"Let me tell you the whole of the prophesy although I think it is only a verse or two you have heard not before." Carahal said sadly and then looked at nothing in particular as he begun reciting the prophesy."

Evil's will ancient beyond aeons, first of all, it wills after aeons.
An offspring twiceborn of the Fairfolk, of high descend amongst the Fairfolk.
An offspring of the Speakers, highest and first amongst the speakers.
Together they shall be born, under a pale moon on the last of summer's days they shall be born.
Elf and speaker from death they must leave, from Valana they must leave.
To Earth they must go, to rise and train they must go.
To return when ready, to face the evil when ready .
Two shall guard the prophecy, two shall remember of what was before prophesy.
One of the Fairfolk, one of the Speakers. Two shall remember of offspring of Speaker and Fairfolk.
All shall forget of what was, all shall remember when offspring is told of what was.
Two offspring many a hardship will face, first of all evil they will face.
Many a league they will traverse in a quest, across Valana in a quest.
But cruel is not fate, there are unknowing mentors and guardians by fate.
War will come to Valana, it will spread from the Shadowlands to Valana.
Blood and destruction, no one can avoid the destruction.
War's wrath will spread, where will loyalties lie when it spread.
Elves fair and immortal will stand, Speakers loyal and stubborn will stand.
Human hearts are easily deceived, magic, sword or spirit will be deceived.
Orkhavoc stand for evil, unpossesing of requirement to resist the evil.
Wyrms of fire stand divided, for evil, for survival they stand divided.
To face what is neither there or here, they must go both there and here.
Primordial magic does not lie, but those that use it lie.
Wyrms inside them have fire, and their temper is of fire.
The speaker will be whole, with innate ability and fire will be made whole.
The Fairfolk will be whole, with Elven Grace and primordial fire will be whole.
Father of one must sacrifice to make offspring whole. Father of one must guide offspring whole.
To open the Gathlail Aeternae is to open doom, to use yesterday magic speak intent and will doom.
Death and creation, death can bring creation.
Creation and death, creation can bring death.
To kill what is neither here or there, one must understand what is here and there.
Neither here or there, only celestial essence can bring there.
Neither there or here, only fire can bring it here.
Neither here or there, it cannot exist in here and there.
To Undo become Yesterday's magic."

All was silent for a brief moment after as everyone recounted the prophesy as told by Liandras, trying to find what was different or missing from Liandras' reciting. Then Lucas and Aer'andil looked at each other both whispering the same verse at the same time."

The speaker will be whole, with innate ability and fire will be made whole.
The Fairfolk will be whole, with Elven Grace and primordial fire will be whole.
Father of one must sacrifice to make offspring whole. Father of one must guide offspring whole."

"I must go to my father! Now! No! Why would he not tell me of this?" Aer'andil said as he rose to his feet.

"That is exactly why Aer'andil…he…he knew how you would react to this…and if you were there with him in the battle of Lavonia…he would concentrate on you not getting hurt…Liandras in Elven means sacrifice…Merol Keen in Daran means noble sacrifice…one will die and one will live. One will make his name true." Carahal told him in a dying whisper.

"I could get hurt here…or later in Zah Dah…I'd be with him…he's done this already once…why would he do it again!?" Aer'andil replied stubbornly.

"Because he loves you more than anything in or on this world, child…do not blame or judge your father…parents do stupid things thinking to protect their kids…" Carahal told him.

"What is my name then? Who are my parents?" Lucas asked anxiously.

Carahal chuckled spitting blood, "Cruel is fate…that I would lay eyes on you again and not even be able to hug my own nephew…I am sorry brother…his death may have been a lie but her death was not, she did die at childbirth…uggghhh…." Carahal said and then with a dying groan he passed away from the world of mortals.

"His…nephew…but…that…I…we…I am your son?" Lucas stuttered looking at Merol.

Merol looked between him and his dead brother. "I…my son is not dead…? For thirteen years…" He stuttered in return and surprised everyone by hugging Lucas tightly.

"He was one of two guardians…he had no reason to lie…you are my son…Berandor Merol…as per Daran traditions the child gets his father's name as surname."

"No, I do not like it, I do not care for it…my name's Lucas…I can accept Lucas Merol if it must be so, but Lucas is my name." Lucas said.

"Your na…" Merol tried to say but Lucas cut him off.

"No. I have been called Lucas all my life, I will not change it and I care not if I am the prince of Dara or not, I am Lucas."

"So be it…Lucas it is then…I cannot believe it…after all those years…" Merol did not argue with him anymore, instead he caressed his cheek and hugged him.

A few moments later a soldier came running in. "My Liege, the Palace and the city are liberated, it is over, the civil war is over."

"Then let us go crown the rightful King of Dara, round up the nobles we do not have time. Also see to it that my brother is taken care of and buried according to our customs, full honours according to the Royal burial traditions of Dara." Merol told the soldier who saluted and left.

"You will retake the throne of Dara?" Lucas asked him as they walked to the prison's door.

"No, you will." Merol told him. "I will guide you from now on but I will not be King again. For now all of you head to the throne room I need to go find some documents that prove your rightful succession to the throne." Merol told them and headed off.

They headed to the throne room and waited as ordered was restored and the nobles arrived.

Merol came a while later carrying various parchments which he showed to the nobles and then talked with them for a span before returning to Lucas and the rest of the company.

"The nobles accept your right to the throne without contest or doubt, let the rightful heir to the throne be crowned King and Dara be made whole again." Merol told them and all of those gathered. The populous that had assembled to see the crowning of the King cheered.

"May you…Lucas Berandor Merol be crowned King. May you lead our people into a new age of prosperity and peace."

Dara had many traditions on how its Kings were crowned but Merol pushed for a shorter ceremony for now and a full one when the war with Zah Dah was over. Everyone including Aer'andil bowed to their knees when Merol placed the King's crown on Lucas' head.

Lucas couldn't help himself blushing from all the attention turned on him.

"All hail the king! Long live the King!" Merol spoke loudly for all to hear. Everyone in the throne room repeated yelling. Merol repeated twice.

Just as everyone were getting to their feet a messenger pushed through the throne room's doors opening them ajar with a sound and run through the aisle between the nobles and the commoners gathered to see the crowning of the new King.

"The Kingdom of Eri'Adar is under attack. The port of Raeri and the fords of Elandros have fallen. The army of Zah Dah led by the Dark General Naire Oira and the Wyrm-King Droholost are already heading to the city of Eri'Adar."

Merol dismissed him.

Feldon walked over to Merol and Lucas. Aer'andil and the others followed him. "There is no time to go there by boat, feet or even dragon-borne…we need something faster…what was that the High-King said…?" He said crossing his hands in front of his chest.

"The dragons will need only a few days to fly us there…" Lucas started only to be cut by Feldon.

"No, if the army has already destroyed the port of Raeri they'll be on Eri'Adar's gates in two days at the most. There is a faster way…Liandras has already told us of it."

There was a few seconds of silence.

"Valkion's way? I thought we could not go by feet?" Segaru said.

"Valkion's way is not a literal way or road…it is a Speaker ability…it is the Speaker ability that sent you two to Earth, it can send some of us…three of us to Eri'Adar's outskirts within minutes if not seconds." Feldon said to Segaru, Lucas and Aer'andil.

"Why some of us? Why not all of us?" Segaru continued.

"Because each two of us requires the death by loss of energy of one spirit…I doubt that that many willing to die spirits can be found in such a short time…besides I think Merol, Lucas, the twins and Micraal should go with the dragons…find the prince clad in silver, we will need him in Eri'Adar." Feldon said.

Merol nodded his approval and gathered the nobles and the ranking officers of the Daran army.

He gave the nobles a piece of parchment with various names hastily scribbled on it. "This will be the regency council until the King returns, betray me not." He told them and dismissed them. He turned his attention to the Daran high-ranking officers. "Gather your men, embark on the ships, follow the rivers Jithral and Padala to the north of Gel'anr and join with the rest of the host where the rivers Lavor and Astorn meet. Make haste." He told them. They saluted him and left.

He turned his attention to the rest of them. "We will need to summon two spirits and fast. Micraal, Beck, Drake go tell the dragons of what we are doing and that we leave soon. We must make haste or Eri'Adar will fall. Guards! Bring me six Speakers from the royal army and two runes on Valkion's way." Everyone scampered off leaving Feldon, Lucas, Aer'andil, Segaru and Merol to prepare.

They headed to the summoning chamber. Merol drew some symbols on the floor, then symbols intersecting them until they all formed a large circle.

The chamber was a low ceiling one with torches as the only source of light. The walls were of dark brown bricks and the floor of grey granite.

"Lucas…can I ask you something before we leave…" Aer'andil asked him. They went to one of the chamber's corners away from the others.

"How much of what you said in the forest was actually because of the Daghesi…?" Aer'andil asked in almost a whisper.

Lucas raised his head and hugged him. "You are my best friend Marco, never forget that…what is, is and neither of us can change it but I…we can and must adapt to it." He told his friend.

Aer'andil pulled back and looked Lucas in his serious eyes. "That is not what I asked you…"

"That is what I can tell you now…but either way Marco, it is not your fault and I do not blame you for any of this."

"I…guess it will have to do…Lucas something else…" Aer'andil whispered to his best friend for some time before walking back to the others.

Lucas nodded and followed him.

The Speakers of the Daran army arrived carrying the two runes. Merol, Lucas and the six speakers stood on around the circle in a crossed cross shape. One man on each point of the compass with a man between each of them.

Merol spoke to them before turning to those that would travel.

"Aer'andil, Feldon and Segaru stand inside it, in the center. Place one of the two runes on the floor, stand around it and hold the other one with both hands." Merol told them.

They followed his instructions.

"This is going to feel…strange." Merol told them and removed a rune from his satchel. He threw it in the air and all eight of them spoke two words.

"Tanero ybra Eri'Adar!" Aer'andil felt the same tag on his chest he had felt when he and Lucas touched that medallion a little over a year ago.

In the blink of an eye, they were gone.

Lucas saw them flicker and then disappear as if they space around them had imploded. "So that's how it looks like from the outside?" He wondered then looked at Merol. "So I am the King of Dara?"

"In a way…you are not of age yet so you'll have your regency council, of which I will be a member." Merol said choosing his words carefully.

"In the end though what I say goes?" Lucas pushed on.

"Yes…unless the council believes unanimously that what you are doing is against the nation's best interests…in which case they can have you removed." Merol replied in a grim tone.

"That will not be required and the council needs to remember that the King can just as easily replace them as well but for now…I think…somehow I know that I have a binding ritual to make…a new pact to reinforce the old one, to change it for the future…this will be done now, follow me." Lucas said and walked off. Merol tried his best to stop himself from grinning. Yes, his son had balls and guts. "Nara…you would be proud of your son…my love." He thought and followed Lucas.

Lucas found Fundor and the other dragons just outside of the city's gates. Some of the citizens and soldiers of Dara followed him and Merol.

"Fundor…I believe that the fates of our two peoples are united, we need to stand together or perish, what say you?" Lucas asked him standing before the huge Wyrm.

Fundor brought his head lower to meet that of Lucas and touched his forehead with his snout. Raising it a few centimeters he brought it down again and locked eyes with the boy-King.

"Yes…you know your name, you know who you are, now time to learn…learn what you are Darastri-drau." Fundor said.

"I want a new pact, one between dragon, Speaker of Dara and elf…I do not know how Aer'andil knows but he does…so here goes…" Lucas spoke a few words in a language that neither he nor anyone else around knew of or could understand.

The space around him and Fundor warped and distorted before coming back to normal. Three holes tore the space between them and bright light joined in the middle then shooting like lases they joined Fundor with Lucas, a third one shot southwards.

Lucas felt as if a part of his soul was reaped from him and replaced with something else. Fundor and Aer'andil in Eri'Adar felt the same.

"It is done. Man, Elf, Dragon and spirit are now bound by pact, although I know not the full extent of it…" Lucas said, "I just hope this was not a colossal mistake…Marco…" He thought and touched Fundor's snout.

"Your dragons are always welcome in Dara and if you agree…I would like Dragon and Human to work together as one unit."

"Zar difadir." Fundor shook his head in approval.

"Darastrishil egtar douth munthrek urthalrel!" Fundor spoke to his brethren. They took off in search of their dragon riders.

"My brothers and sisters will find their human riders, when they do they'll bind. Our offspring will do the same in an everlasting pact. The dragon riders of Dara rise, we ride for Eri'Adar within hours." Fundor told Lucas.

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