Jump to content
  • Join For Free and Get Notified of New Chapters!

    Are you enjoying a great story and want to get an alert or email when a new chapter is posted? Join now for free and follow your favorite stories and authors!  You can even choose to get daily or weekly digest emails instead of getting flooded with an email for each story you follow. 

     

    Israfil
  • Author
  • 3,024 Words
  • 1,604 Views
  • 5 Comments
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

The Transporters - 2. Chapter 2

The queen’s palace was always cold, even by dragon standards. Only those who drew their power from the astral plane were unaffected, the cold void of space already a part of their very being. The queen kept it this way deliberately, she wanted no one to forget who ruled here.

“You know your part then, Anshar?” Mithras asked, falling into step beside him. Their footsteps echoed across the empty marble corridor. Too loud for Anshar, they seemed to announce his guilt to all who heard - a rhythmic chant of "traitor, traitor" with each foot fall.

“Assuming you haven’t changed the plan in the last five minutes, yes, I do,” he replied, making no attempt to mask his irritation.

Mithras placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “Almost there, my friend. You’re doing the right thing.”

Anshar took a deep breath. “It feels nothing like it,” he said quietly. "I swore an oath to my queen. Not just as her champion but as her-"

“I know.” Mithras squeezed his shoulder. "You also swore an oath to your people," he reminded him.

Anshar nodded. It was the argument that had persuaded him to Mithras’ cause in the first place. The Sky Warden fought for the empire first, above any particular monarch. Even if they were family. "I did. My sister must be stopped."

"It's the right thing to do," Mithras repeated.

 

"It was the right thing to do," Tia's voice pulled him back to the present. The young wizard was a few feet ahead of them and Tia had fallen back to walk with him. "The Void Queen-"

"My sister."

"But to everyone else she was the insane Void Queen. You've hated yourself for three hundred years for betraying your sister. You also saved our people from a ruler who forgot her purpose and turned on those she was supposed to protect. You couldn't have known what would happen afterward, she had to be removed regardless. Stop punishing yourself already like some damn martyr."

Anshar was forced to crack a smile at that. "Perhaps once the trial is over, he is sentenced and this whole sordid saga is finished. Perhaps then." Tia rolled her eyes. "But for now, let's discuss this little detour of yours..."

 

“We’re losing valuable time, Tia,” the boy, who Jenson had only heard referred to as Ann, complained. It clearly was not his name but he responded to Tia using it, albeit grudgingly. Jenson suspected it was best not to follow her example, tempting as it was. Something about the dragon’s human form grated on him. The short brown hair was severely gelled to stand almost straight up in front, practically screaming “frat bro”, and seemed to give his eyebrows a permanently raised expression. The mouth, already a thin line, was in near constant motion as he chewed on his upper lip with anxiety.

“There are other trains tonight, we can-” the frat dragon tried to continue.

“There are also other trains tomorrow,” Tia interrupted. “You heard Jason-”

“Jenson,” Jenson corrected.

“That’s what I said. Anyways, if the gnolls come back with others like he said, we won’t be able to keep him,” she jerked her head at the dog, “contained and fight them off at the same time. We need to stay off the streets tonight.”

“But at a civilian residence?” Apparently he considered himself some sort of military too. Keeps getting better and better, Jenson thought darkly.

“If you have a better idea, I’m all ears. But it better include dinner because I am hungry.

Jenson winced at her emphasis. “Parker did the groceries today so I’m sure there’s something good,” he volunteered, primarily as way to clarify as tactfully as possible that his roommates were not on the menu. He still wasn’t completely sure why he had invited the two dragons and their strange little dog back to the house. On the one hand, Tia had saved his life and the gnolls would be after them for it. If they got attacked it would be his fault. On the other hand, they were clearly involved in something neither he nor his friends would go anywhere near if they could help it. Why would the two of them be traveling overland with someone or something disguised as a dog? He had no desire to find out. Dragon intrigue was always possibly fatal. It certainly was to non-dragons. It was too late now anyways, he had opened his mouth and offered. Parker and Evan wouldn’t be happy about it but there was nothing to be done.

 

After a five minute walk, they were in front of a rundown - but Anshar suspected that would describe just about everything about Deadwood - townhouse. Paint chips flaked off the door as Jenson pushed it open, leading them up a stairway smelling of beer and cigarettes. The prisoner’s lip curled in disgust and Anshar couldn’t help but agree as he fought back a similar reaction. The door at the top creaked open and he found himself waiting for it to fall in. Jenson went in first, followed by Tia then Anshar and the prisoner. Just inside were two other youths, both of whom sighed with relief at the sight of their roommate before the taller one strode forward, sweeping up a wooden staff from the umbrella stand on his way and bringing it down with a sharp smack on Jenson’s head.

“Ouch! What the hell, Parker?”

“How many freaking times do I have to tell you to take the Owl with you when you’re going to walk home at night?” the other boy, Parker, snarled. Green eyes flashed through a veil of brown wavy hair as he glared down at Jenson.

“I didn’t know I’d be working late!” Jenson whined. He straightened up, rubbing his head, “Anyways, how do you know I even needed it?”

“We saw the police cars,” the second roommate volunteered in a mild voice. His dark hair was buzzed short, drawing attention to a face that wore a neutral expression behind a pair of wire rimmed glasses. Day-old stubble outlined a set square jawline, the only indicator of any kind of anger.

“So? What does that-”

“And heard the explosion.”

“Dammit.”

Parker took a deep breath before placing the staff back in the umbrella stand. Anshar got a brief glimpse of a sword's hilt hidden among the umbrella handles. Their host gave a dimpled smile and extended his hand. “Hey, sorry about that. Our friend here just gave us a bit of a scare. We don’t usually hit each other with sticks. I’m Parker and this is Evan.” The spectacled boy raised a hand in greeting.

Anshar shook the offered hand and tried to return an equally charming smile. “I’m Andrew and this is Tia. We were just walking the dog when we heard a commotion in the alley. We didn’t mean to impose like this.” The story was broadly true, Anshar considered. They had been walking the dog and Tia had come running when they heard the explosion. No need to complicate things with the where or the why.

“No problem, pleased to meet you. And who’s this?” Parker asked as he crouched in front of the prisoner, who promptly began to growl.

“Rover.”

“Sparky.” Anshar pinched the bridge of his nose and Tia grimaced. “Dammit,” she muttered under her breath.

Parker looked up with a smirk. “Guessing you didn’t decide on his fake name yet, huh?”

Tia rallied well. “What do you mean fake? We just got him and haven’t chosen a name yet.” Anshar nodded emphatically.

Parker stood and chuckled. “Look, it’s fine. I know that’s not a real dog anymore than the names you gave are your real ones.” He held up a hand as Anshar opened his mouth to protest. “It’s fine though. You obviously saved my friend’s life and that’s enough for me. I’d have thought dragons would be better liars though,” he added with a grin. Anshar cursed inwardly, he had hoped Jenson hadn’t recognized Tia for what she was during his rescue - naturally he would alert his friends. Tia, on the other hand, simply laughed.

“Our cover story could have used a little work, I guess.” She held out her hand to the young wizards. “The truth then,” she said, ignoring Anshar’s warning glance, “I am Tiamat, this is Anshar. We’re escorting this adorable pup to the pound.”

With the last sentence she reached down and gave the prisoner a hearty scratch behind the ears. He growled but his tail began to wag regardless. The growling abruptly stopped as he turned to glare at the offending appendage.

“You’re saying that’s the truth?” Parker asked, eyebrow raised.

“In a nutshell.”

“Dude, I don’t think we want to know any more than that,” Evan warned from kitchen, taking out plates and cutlery. Parker gave the prisoner one more look before nodding. That one, Anshar thought, could be a problem. He hoped they would not have to kill him.

Those green eyes were really quite striking.

Dinner was a crispy, blackened affair of what was supposed to be chicken on pasta. The result was closer to bland pasta with pieces of dry meat scattered throughout, all doused in store brand tomato sauce. A rewarding feast, it was not.

Feeling something of a hypocrite, Anshar surreptitiously passed a forkful under the table to the prisoner, who gave it a disdainful sniff before snapping it up with his tiny jaws. Not engaging with the prisoner most certainly included not sharing food, but in his dog form he would appreciate the burnt chicken and cold pasta far more than Anshar. He couldn’t let his hosts’ food go to waste, after all. It was a courtesy, really.

While the apartment itself was not quite as decrepit as the neighborhood it occupied, it was also inhabited by three 20-something year old men. The dining table abutted a modest kitchenette on one side and a living room on the other. The cushions of the mismatched couches lining the walls were flattened and worn with use, both as seats and a makeshift coat rack. Various envelopes and folded papers, many of which looked like bills, littered the scarred and notched wooden coffee table at the room’s center.

The only thing that looked like it hadn’t seen better days was the wide screen TV that dominated almost one wall of the room, seeming as polished as an obsidian mirror. He shuddered and tried to push away the memory but it was too late. The memory of a gift from a lost loved one was painful enough, one from a lost time was far worse. He quickly looked away, just in time to notice Parker watching him. Anshar returned his gaze with a stony glare. This one was definitely too curious by half.

"So how does a third-rate wizard get the whole local gnoll clan after his head?" Tia inquired with the same tone as asking about the weather.

"Third-rate?" Jenson frowned. Tia shrugged and smiled.

"Any other term for someone who throws around that kind of combustion magic and nearly crushes himself?" Both of his roommates whipped around to glare at him as he slumped down into his chair.

"One of them tried to mug and/or eat me a few days ago. I just meant to burn his muzzle but since I was panicked I guess I overdid it."

"Was that the night you came home smashed?" Evan asked suspiciously.

"I'd just exploded a guy's head. I needed a drink," Jenson shot back.

"And you didn't tell us about this because...?"

"Well, I was drunk.... And the next day it seemed dumb to worry you guys." Parker rubbed his temples and sighed.

"Why did you not inform your guild?" Anshar asked, curious despite himself. "Surely they would have taken steps."

The three of them exchanged glances. "We...parted ways with the local guild a little while ago," Parker answered.

Tia nodded but Anshar was surprised. Almost every wizard or human magic practitioner was a member of a local guild. Essentially a union, guilds gave the community a voice to protect its interests. If members abided by its rules and paid their dues, they would enjoy the standard public services such as education, law enforcement and a degree of protection from the machinations of other more powerful magical races. Such as dragons, Anshar thought to himself bitterly.

"That's a bold move," he commented.

"We're doing just fine so far, if that's what you mean," Evan responded, obviously believing Anshar was being condescending.

As if on cue, the prisoner chuckled from beneath the table, startling their hosts before being cut off as he dodged a kick from Tia. Trotting out to as safe a distance as his leash would allow, he turned to regard the young renegade wizards with amusement. "What he means, my young outcast, is that there is safety in numbers," the small dog stated as his eyes flicked over each of them in turn. "It’s the one defense the deer has against the wolf,” he paused to lick his lips, “and you and your friends have willingly cut yourselves off from the herd."

 

Evan was the first to sense the power radiating from the little terrier, feeling the prickling heat on his skin as if he were standing too close to an open flame. Parker felt it a moment later and his hand flew to his hip, reaching for the blade that instead rested in the umbrella stand by the door. Jenson saw this too and his eyes began to dart between the table and the door, before sharing a glance with Parker, who gave a slight nod. The dog's shadow had begun to grow, creeping up the wall behind it as its shape warped into the silhouette of another creature altogether. A long tail lashed along the wall and a pair of enormous wings unfurled to envelope the ceiling.

Tia stood up with such force her chair fell over. "That's just about enough out of you," she said firmly as she thrust out her arm. Evan felt a sudden pressure on the inside of his forehead from the sheer force of the binding spell and he clutched his head reflexively. Pained exclamations to his right told him his friends were also feeling the backlash.

However, the power emanating from the creature only intensified and the lights in the tiny apartment began to flicker. Tia snarled and took a step forward as she poured more energy into the spell. Her eyes flared and the green scales spread down her cheeks beneath them.

At that moment Evan’s shamanic wards outside were triggered. Intruders were rapidly approaching the house - four of them. “Tia! The others are coming,” Anshar's warning confirmed, “He’s channeling them.” He was right - Evan could sense the link through which the creature in their living room was drawing on the magic of those outside. Soon it would have amassed enough power to shatter the binding and assume its true form. The dog had been surrounded in a swirl of ebon smoke, expanding over the room every time the lights flickered, the shape unmistakably changing to match the monstrous shadow behind it. “You all should leave,” Anshar addressed the three of them from beside Tia. “We cannot hold him much longer and when his servants get here we will not be able to protect you as well. Run.

There was the metallic hiss of a blade being drawn.

“Who says we need protecting?” Parker asked quietly. He stood by the table, a simple long sword in hand. Jensen had managed to retrieve the sword and staff, and shot Evan a wink from behind Parker. Evan wished he could share his confidence.

The blade emitted a pale blue light that trailed after it as Parker swung it in a tightly controlled arc. Evan felt the link with the creatures outside shatter and the smoke immediately lost its dragon shape. Receding across the room, it rose into a swirling column and cleared to reveal a dark haired young man standing where the dog had been. A few days’ worth of stubble lined his jaw and icy blue eyes narrowed at the two dragons before scanning the three young wizards. His eyes came to rest on Parker and his sword.

“You severed the connection - I haven’t seen a sword like that in ages,” smiled the dragon.

Parker returned it with a smile of his own. “Oh, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of swords like this one,” he replied, pointing it at the dragon, “you just haven’t seen anyone like me before.” Evan sighed inwardly, they all enjoyed bantering but there was a time and place - and he was fairly sure this was neither. If Tia and Anshar were unable to force him back to his animal form, the prisoner was far from helpless.

The dragon laughed heartily. “I like you, young warlock. Tell me, since leaving your guild, have you considered any...alternatives? There are other ways for promising young wizards to move up in the world.”

“I wouldn’t bother recruiting any new talent if I were you,” Tia cut in. “You’re still going to trial, and after that the only part of the world you’ll see is what’s beyond your cell bars.”

The prisoner shrugged. “As entertaining as your little charade of justice would be, I’m afraid I have some friends on the way who will insist I accompany them.” He spread his hands in mock helplessness. “They swore an oath, you see, to stand by me always, and they take it rather seriously. Say,” he paused as if just remembering a trivial detail, “didn’t you once make a very similar vow, Anshar?" He turned to the other dragon, who had been silent until now. "Or do my memories fail me?”

Anshar's gaze fell to the floor. “No. No, they do not, Mithras.”

Israfil
If you enjoyed what you have read, please leave a reaction and/or comment for the author!

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

Well what have we here? Interested to learn more about the connection between Mithras and Andrew. I'm ready for Chapter 3. Is it done yet?

Link to comment
On 06/08/2015 10:18 AM, Cynus said:

Well what have we here? Interested to learn more about the connection between Mithras and Andrew. I'm ready for Chapter 3. Is it done yet?

Their relationship is best described as...complicated. And working on Chapter 3!

Link to comment

Please tell me it's ok that I'm still confused who the Void queen is (besides being Anshar's sister)! 

 

But besides that, I enjoyed this chapter too. I agree, you are slowly rounding your characters out and there was a little more to chew on in this chapter. I'm definitely wanting to know who Mithras is in relation to his prisoner status and his dog form... I do think it was a little difficult to keep track of who's head we're seeing things from and we bounce around a lot. Take this with a grain of salt, but I don't think it would detract from your story if you just picked one or maybe two of the characters you want to follow closely and get in their heads! 

 

I liked the description and the setting a lot! I kinda imagined being in my rundown apartment and then Holy shit! The alarms are triggered! The apartment's about to become a war zone and the little doggy prisoner, who said they'd be sorry, finally has his day. I loved the past snippet in the beginning, because it confused me at first and I didn't know where or when that scene took place, but right at the end, we realize that the conversation we overhead is very important because now it seems like everybody is screwed and we're the only ones who know it! Yay! 

 

The perspective is a little off, but you are doing excellently with building the tension and I'm now anticipating the action to come! Good work! 

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Good pacing and really descriptive prose; truly did enjoy this chapter as well.  Have to wonder why the three wizards parted company with their kind; there must be a good story there.

Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    You probably have a crazy and hectic schedule and find it hard to keep up with everything going on.  We get it, because we feel it too.  Signing up here is a great way to keep in touch and find something relaxing to read when you get a few moments to spare.

    Sign Up
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..