Status: Super Moderator
Join Date: Aug 2005
Current Game: Guild Wars 2, VtMB, TOR
Well, it only took me, what, 2 months to get the next chapter done.... However, I wrote a short story (which, due to content, I can't post on LF), 7 or 8 poems and worked on this, along with various exercises for my creative writing class, so in the last two months I've created or revised something like 200 pages of material. Whew.
This version will likely be revised, so if it sounds a bit rough, please forgive me, but I wanted you to enjoy anyway without further ado.
Jory slipped silently down the hall with a fluid grace attained from years of practice. Jailyn followed his footsteps, stepping as quietly as she could. They edged up to the entrance of the main room. Shrieks pierced the din of the cracking wood of breaking chairs and battle-cries. Metal weapons clanged, ringing across the large room. Jory's eyes swept the room. Four Fest'ari fighters in heavy leather armor and the gray fur mantles swung curved swords at scattering patrons. One of the men picked up daggers and stabbed at an invader. He was cut down with a single ruthless hack. A long-gowned woman tripped, and a muscled warrior plunged his blade through her back. Blood sprayed up in a death-fountain. He turned and slashed at a buxom server. She dodged, screaming as she ran.
Jory pointed at the largest of the four men, one with a scar running across his eye, signaling who to attack first. Then he signaled them forward, taking the middle position. They moved quickly into the room, stepping over the dead and broken chairs.
The man with the scar saw the three Elani and called out to his squad mates. One of them pushed the woman he had by the hair roughly. She fell and slid across the floor into the wall, groaning as she slammed into it. The other two Fest'ari let go of the people they held in death grips. The victims ran for the door. The man with the scar swung his blade around and grinned. He charged at Jory. Jory's sword wove a deadly pattern through the air. The Fest'ari leader stepped back several times, dodging. He howled as he brought his sword up, thick biceps bulging as he drove the blade down towards the head of the wiry older Elani. Jory saw the split-second commitment to action in the subtle ripples of his opponent's shoulders. He jumped to the side as the sword cleaved the air a fraction of an inch from his head. Jory brought his blade around, slicing the man through his middle. The man's one good eye widened. He looked down at his insides spilling out, grunted his last breath, and collapsed.
Jailyn brought her sword up and set her feet in the battle stance her brother taught her.
Balance, Jailyn, balance. Take hold of my kae now. We fight as One.
She reached out for Talithra's kae. The magic infused her, and she shook her head a moment at the sudden double vision, seeing the room through her eyes and her dragon's perceptions. She took a deep breath to steady the whirling feeling. She saw not just the fighter, but every tiny movement and muscle twitch. She could hear his heartbeat, the growl of hunger in his gut, the crackle of cartilage in his bad left knee. She felt the air eddies from the people moving, the open door, the broken windows. The smells were a mix of reeking battle stench and burnt bread forgotten in the oven in the heat of the fight, magnified a thousand times. She saw him bring his sword to bear, the movement of his arms, his shoulders, his eyes. She moved her sword just enough to parry, their blades clanging together. She slid her sword down the length of his. Her hilt locked against his weapon. She twisted it around, then pulled up sharply. It flew out of his hands. She raised her sword high and drove it down, splitting his head. Blood and fragments of skull exploded.
Jailyn whirled around to find the other dangers. Jory and Tirius fought against the other two brutes, swords flashing bright arcs in the air. She ran behind the fighter attacking Tirius. He turned as she sliced sideways through his gut. His hand went to the deep wound. Bright red blood poured around his hand and through his fingers. He raised his curved weapon as he looked at her, hatred seething in his eyes. He slashed at her side, then abruptly brought his sword up. Jailyn jumped back, arching away from the deadly steel. The sharp tip cut through her vanbrace and into her forearm. She jerked her hand back, then slammed her sword into his chest. He crumpled to the floor. The death pallor spread across his face.
She scanned the room, danger still making her hair raise on the back of her neck. Tirius and Jory were battling the last fighter. The enemy tried to back away. Tirius swung at his head. The fighter lifted his blade to parry. Jory snapped his blade around, slicing into the man's chest. He dropped to the ground. Jory bent down, pressing his fingers against the man's neck to feel for a pulse, then nodded satisfaction.
She relaxed and blew a breath out as her sense of danger drained away. The pain in her arm throbbed for attention. Jailyn turned her arm over. The broken vanbrace hung in pieces, and the gash bled freely. She set her sword down within easy reach and covered the wound with her other hand. She looked around for something to cover it.
You're hurt, Talithra said, worry coloring their telepathic link.
Not bad. It might need some stitches.
A moment later, Jory and Tirius looked over at her as one. Tirius bounded across the room in three long strides and grabbed her arm. “Patrinthra said you're injured.”
“I'm fine, Tirius,” she said. “Dragons are terrible gossips, you know.” She smiled weakly.
Jory joined them as Tirius gently removed the shredded remains of the armor. Both studied the gash with practiced eyes.
“It'll take you all night to bleed to death,” Jory grunted. He looked her up and down as she chuckled. “You weren't hurt anywhere else?”
“No, just that gash. I should have seen the feint coming.”
Tirius frowned. “I noticed. Your technique needs work if you want to stay alive.”
Jory waggled a finger at him. “Criticize later, Tirius, when none of us are still riding our battle anger. Get that wound dressed so that the two of you can help me work with the wounded.” He pulled first aid supplies from a small pouch on his belt and handed them to Tirius.
Mykos stumbled from behind the bar, holding his unconscious wife in his arms. Her arm hung limply and her head lolled. His face was ashen, and worry lines creased deeply into his face. “Jory,” he croaked.
The Elani ran to his friends and quickly assessed Hanneh. He took her gently out of Mykos' arms. “I'll fly her to the healer, my friend. We'll do what we can. Tirius, Jailyn—stay here and help Mykos and the injured. I'll be back in a couple hours.” He moved swiftly to the door, Mykos following to help them mount his dragon. Jailyn watched the gleaming purple dragon lift off with the two on his back.
Tirius cleared his throat. “I'm, well...I should have...um,” His eyes were locked on the wound he cleaned and bandaged.
“Should have what?” She tipped her head, trying to catch his eye.
He made the final tie in the dressing before he looked at her. “I'm sorry if I was hard on you. It wasn't very fair, after you cut down the one soldier who had me in his sights, and did it so skillfully. I just don't want the Elani to lose any other good people.”
“You were right, though.” She looked down at the floor and rubbed at an imaginary spot with her boot. “If I'm ever going to be as good as my brother, I have a lot to learn if I ever want to be more than an initiate.”
“Jailyn, look at me.” He waited until her eyes met his. A small smile lifted the corners of his lips, softening the sharp edges into firm, handsome features. “You're every bit as good as he is, and the way Talithra and you used your kae in the fight was better than Daerved could, and I considered him an excellent fighter. You have better instincts with your kae than he could ever have. It'll take time to polish the rough edges, but I think you'll be a great Elani.” His hand gently squeezed hers.
Both of them looked down at their joined hands. They abruptly separated, as if their hands had suddenly caught fire. A red flush spread across both fighters' cheeks.
“I think we should check on the wounded,” Jailyn said.
Tirius nodded vigorous agreement. “I think you're right.”
They had rounded the room, triaging the worst of the injured, when both dragons howled. Jailyn clapped her hands to her ears, but the sound pierced through her head.
“Jory's in trouble!” Jailyn yelled out to Tirius, as she ran to the the door.
He followed on her footsteps out the door, then passed her as he sprinted to his dragon. Both fighters mounted and strapped themselves into the riding gear as the two dragons sprang up and snapped their wings for the liftoff.
It took only a few minutes to reach the old Elani and the four creatures that were attacking Nayanthra, boxing them as if the dragon were in the center of a pyramid. He was flanked if he flew up, down, or straight. The creatures had leathery black wings and small arms with long, sharp talons at the end of their three-fingered hands. Long teeth jutted from their long snouts that angled up to glittering black eyes. Their pointed ears were bent back in the wind, and their long tails whipped the air behind them. The violet dragon dove up and down, dodging the streams of bile-green fluid they spat at them. Jory clutched Hanneh tightly in his arms even though she was strapped to him to keep her from falling off.
Patrinthra said we need to break their formation. We are to attack the eastern-most creature. Tirius will attack the top one, Talithra said.
Acknowledged, Jailyn said.
Tirius held his forearm up in a ready signal as they approached, and then pointed forward to signal for them to attack.
Talithra dove for their enemy as it spewed another stream of the vile fluid at Nayanthra and Jory. The green liquid hit the edge of Nayanthra's wing. He howled in pain and spun to breathe a cone of purple haze. The black beast flapped its wings and flew up as the haze skimmed under its belly.
Jailyn felt a low rumbling in Talithra's chest. The vibration shook her as it built in strength. The creature dodges up, Talithra. Attack just above him.
It will not dodge much longer, Talithra growled. She took a deep breath, then roared out a blast of pure white light. Jailyn felt the pull on her kae as Talithra drew energy from her as well.
The inky dark monstrosity flew up again as it saw Talithra exhale, straight into the light energy. It screamed as pure white streaked all around it like bright lightning, then imploded as if the light crushed the dark creature. A clap of thunder exploded out from it as it disappeared into nothingness. The concussion shook both of them and knocked the breath out of Jailyn. She pressed a hand against her chest and forced herself to inhale.
What just happened, Talithra?
I don't know. This has never happened before. They always explode into fire.
We need to take out the others. You have enough energy?
More than enough, especially when I link to you.
Nayanthra is attacking the western enemy and Patrinthra has taken the top one. We take the northern one.
Talithra's chest rumbled as her energy built up again, pulling on Jailyn's kae again. Jailyn braced herself for the concussion. Pure white exploded from her. The black creature howled as the bright light snaked around it. It disappeared into nothingness, and thunder blasted around them.
The white dragon wheeled around to attack one of the other two enemies. Jailyn saw one of them splayed on the ground dead, wings iced over. Tirius' blue dragon joined Jory's violet one to kill the final foe.
Hold, Talithra—Patrinthra's already taken out his enemy and he's helping Nayanthra now. Hanneh can't take the concussion.
Agreed, Talithra said, disappointed.
Patrinthra exhaled a glassy stream of liquid that expanded into glittering sheets of ice. The beast ducked under it, right into purple waves that Nayanthra had expelled. The creature's muscles went slack. Its wings fluttered uselessly and its head lolled as it plummeted to the ground.
We fly together to the healer then fly back here to investigate, Talithra relayed to Jailyn.
Jailyn scanned the ground and air for more of the black creatures before and after delivering the unconscious woman to the infirmary for the healers to care for her.
The three fighters slid down the sides of their dragons to examine the dead enemies.
“Tell me what happened, Jailyn,” Jory said as he bent down to lift a wing and then looked over its sharp-toothed snout.
“I'm not sure. Talithra drew on my kae so we'd have longer range with our attack. She breathed her attack, and the creatures imploded. They just disappeared in the thunder.”
Tirius' eyes widened. “You're sure that's how it happened?”
“Yes. I don't know what happened to them after that. Is that unusual?”
Jory grunted as he stood up. “It's almost unheard of. I only saw that happen when I was a young buck and Jamie rode the mother of Talithra, who was also a white dragon. She attacked a thisnauer just like this one here. It disappeared the same way. The Elan'or thought it was from the mixing of the positive light energy that white dragons create and the black energy that all thisnauers wield.”
“What's a thisnauer?” Jailyn asked.
“It's an evil creature—one of the underworld servants. These must have been how the Fest'ari at the inn traveled. Nayanthra said they had no horses.”
Jailyn blanched. “Who would be calling evil forth from the underworld?”
“I don't know, but we need to find out before there are so many called here that we can't stop them,” Jory said.