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    Kyle Aarons
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental. Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Mature story contains dark themes involving graphic violence and taboo topics that may contain triggers for sensitive readers. Please do not read further if this bothers you.

The Kandric Saga - 24. Chapter 24

Bandurlok paced in the Great Throne Room of the Obsidian Fortress, his claws clicking against the black stone under him. Around him were those he knew to be totally loyal to his cause. Beyond the main doors, a full company of his best Dragonlings guarded the door and beyond that, all palace guards had been replaced by Bandurlok loyalists hand picked by those in the Throne Room with him. All entrances were locked down with portcullis and thick obsidian stone doors.

Even as he held this meeting, the Black Dragon Prince felt a new feeling, one he had never truly experienced until now, fear. With a massive roar to show his power he silenced all talking and brought the meeting to order.

His first action was to take a couple of minutes to stare down each of those in the gigantic chamber and look for any signs of weakness. One Dragon Lord, Count Borgont, looked away far too quickly for Bandurlok’s liking. He made a mental note to kill the elder Dragon at the first opportunity and give his land to his youngest son, the still juvenile dragon was not experienced, but would blindly follow Bandurlok because to do anything else would mean his older siblings would make a grab for the land hold.

Truth be told, the Prince hoped they would, because he knew for a fact at least two of the three of them were supporters of his Nephew and the third was a total unknown. If they made a grab he could have them killed and eliminate any threat from the southern borderlands.

Bandurlok took a deep breath and forced the voice to sound much surer than he felt. “As you all know my father, our King, is dead. Even as we gather to organize my Nephew is doing likewise in an attempt to forcibly take the seat behind me.”

A round of nervous and angry sounding mummers cascaded over the chamber for a few seconds before Bandurlok silenced it with another roar. He then snarled as his head turned and his eyes swept the room. “I understand your anger and confusion, but this is NOT a time to run around like a bunch of terrified humans. We are Black Dragon and Black Dragon kin, not weak pathetic members of some helpless lower race!”

As a dead silence fell over the black stone chamber Bandurlok slammed his forepaw into the floor with enough power to send a tremble through the entire fortress. “Our King had not declared who was to follow him before his death, nor did he communicate who was to take his place before he died. The magic of the throne will not allow either me or my nephew to sit on it until one of two things happen. First is the death of one of the two of us. Second would be for one of us to concede the throne to the other.”

Bandurlok shook his head, “Unless we can show what my father’s true wishes were, there is only two choices. The first is to concede.”

This brought out a few chuckles and a couple outright laughed at the idea of Bandurlok handing the throne over to his Nephew. The rest simply shook their heads. They knew, just as Bandurlok did, that if this happened they would be stripped of all power and lands because they were the staunchest supporters of Bandurlok. Likewise, they knew Bassork, Bandurlok’s nephew was having a similar meeting with those most loyal to him. Just as here those in that gathering realized for Bassork to concede would guarantee they would forfeit their land holds and their power.

Unless something conclusive could be found stating what Blathamort’s wishes were, there was only one way to get a new king. A Black Dragon Civil War was now imminent.

One of the few other Great Dragons in the chamber, Duke Bojorm, lowered his head as a way of asking permission to speak. A wave of Bandurlok’s paw gave the floor to him. “My Prince, my soon to be king, what do we know of his death and the death of the Great Green our king had guaranteed to guard?”

“Little to nothing.” Bandurlok growled. "I got a report only hours before from one of my father’s most faithful Dragonling commanders as to the fact the base had been invaded. He was sent to trace down those who had escaped killing many of my father’s elite guards as they did so. He came to me for help. Before I had a chance to so much as figure out what needed to be done, the first death occurred. We all felt it, knew it to be a Great Dragon, knew it to have come by the hand or claw of a non-dragon or much lower dragon, but nothing more.

"I gated back here to find out where this had occurred, but even as our best sorcerers were pinpointing the area close to my father’s secret base, the death of our King erupted through the very fabric of magic. This we needed no investigation to figure out for we all knew it to be a Great Black Dragon of the highest magnitude. We felt it in our bones and scales. We tasted the foulness of death in our teeth. And we heard the horrible strangling sounds of my father as he tried to send a message to all of us as to his wishes and what killed him.

“Unfortunately, this final attempt was blocked by some means. For whatever reason our king was unable to tell us what happened or to flee. Whatever killed him did so in a way so ruthlessly powerful he was not even able to teleport back here to die nor send us any hint as to who he had decided to rule our empire. For the first time since our homeland was born, it is likely one of our kings will not be immortalized in the Dark Crypt.” Bandurlok lowered his head showing some sadness in this fact.

His momentary grief faded as he continued to tell the others what little he knew. “The deaths of two Great Dragons caused some rather unusual side effects further complicating matters. As it turned out the death of the Great Green female and our beloved King Blathamort caused a magical rupture within Bloody Rock. The ending result was to make direct gating impossible. The nearest I could gate our first responders was a full 5 leagues away, and only then by carefully scrying the magical flows delaying our arrival by several hours. By the time we were able to find a good location to gate to other forces had cut off all access to the site of our King’s death. Even a full day after his death we have not gotten close to his body to see if he left any sort of message!”

Duke Bojorm raked his claws across the floor in frustration. “My Prince, what could possibly stand in the way of our nation getting to the body of our King?”

Bandurlok snorted in disgust. "First it did not help when our scouts got jumped by scouts of my beloved nephew before they could do more than make camp. A full fledged battle was averted simply because I sent far more than my nephew did so his force withdrew rather quickly. Still it slowed us down.

"Beyond the pesky problem of my Nephew, my good Duke, you must think in large terms and understand it is not just us and the Greens who are concerned. A single Dragon death of a Great would bring other Dragon Nations to investigate, the death of two in so short a time, meant all dragon races responded. Unfortunately, the Silvers and the Blues got there well before any other Dragon Nation. Of course the rather annoying Crown Prince of Silvers, Millen, is the only Great Dragon Mind Master known, so he probably knew instantly more information than any of us did or still do.

“His forces were clearly in place before I found a good spot to gate a sizable force to.” Bandurlok waved a paw to kill conversation before it got started, “However, as best as we can tell, although the Silvers were the first Dragon race to get there followed rather quickly by a full battalion or more of Blues, they were not the first to respond.”

He paused to give his next statement more emphasis and impact. “As best as our few surviving forward scouts could tell, the first to arrive to help the lower races from the chaos and looting from our failed guardians of our Great Dragons that was sure to ensue such deaths were combined forces of the Dwarves and Elves.”

“Dwarves and Elves?” The general of all palace guards snarled in disgust, “Our Dragonling scouts were cut down by Dwarves and Elves?”

Duke Bojorm looked shocked as did all the other elder Great and True Dragons. Still he managed to glance over at the Warrior Dragon with a half disgusted half humorous smirk, “My rather ignorant general, you are far too young to understand or comprehend exactly what our future king just said without thinking it over, so let me try this again, and this time think before you respond.”

Duke Bojorm stared straight into the eyes of the general until the much smaller dragon started to squirm a little. Satisfied the Great Black Dragon’s lips twisted upward into a bit of a grin. “Our future king just said THE Dwarves and Elves, not just Dwarves and Elves.” His eyes stayed focused on the Warrior Dragon for a full minute before the meaning dawned on the much younger general.

Finally the general’s eyes went wide, “As in Alphar and Garm?”

All heads turned to look at Bandurlok, most already knowing the answer but wanting confirmation. The others stared in outright shock and disbelief. Bandurlok took in a deep breath and slowly nodded. “Indeed, my future Council members, The Garm and the Alphar do still exist as we have long suspected. Not only do they exist, they are close to the power of their former glory days and they are no longer in hiding.”

He managed a smile, “As troubling as this is, it is even more so since they seem to have a total resolve in not allowing anyone or anything inside of Bloody Rock. However, while they all but obliterated my lead scouts, my nephew and his green allies either did not understand what they were facing or were too focused on the goal of getting into Bloody Rock to care. Their entire first wave was annihilated and their second wave shattered on Garm and Alphar lines now augmented by Silver and Blue Dragon forces. Whites, Browns, Bronze, Brass, Coppers and even the mighty Golds, fought a rather round house pitched battle, but withdrew once they realized the Garm and the Alphar were holding the ground around Bloody Rock and reinforcements were arriving in huge numbers from both nations.”

"With what limited resources I have left up there, I do not have great information, but what I have is staggering. My best estimates say over 6000 Dragonlings and a dozen or more Warrior Dragons of assorted Dragon Races have fallen in the last 36 hours. While the Greens and my Nephew’s ranks have been hit the hardest, the Whites and the Brass took massive losses when they gated into the same area at almost the same time and the Bronze and Brown contingents were basically wiped out by the Copper and Gold forces.

"With the exception of the Blue and Silver forces working with the Alphar and Garm, the only others still in numbers are Green and Black. All others have retreated, most licking their wounds and trying, like I am, to see how this all came about. Although I am sure, like me, the other races also have had scouts hunker down in an attempt to glean any information they can.

“The Greens and my Nephew have yet to concede the battle. Even as we are sitting here planning what to do and how to do it my scouts have sent word of a third force of Green and Black Dragon forces getting cut to pieces in the fields and swamps around Bloody Rock. And for the first time, the being I hate the most is doing me a giant favor by assisting. Monarch has moved the full weight of his beloved Illorc forces in to support the Garm and Alphar, protecting the swamp and the outer villages around Slome. While this means I have lost all control of the passes into the Silver Spine Mountain from below, It also means my two adversaries are beating on each other while I have to do nothing but sit back and let their losses mount.”

Bandurlok paused to take a look around. As he did so his voice dropped noting a bit of sadness. “Of course this is all minor when looking at the larger picture, for like it or not, the Alphar and Garm have the bodies of our King and the Great Green female solidly behind their lines. I am also willing to bet they are not likely to give anyone or anything access. While a full push from us may be able to get in, we would take massive losses trying to do so. Since there is no guarantee the body of our beloved King holds the answers we seek, and even if it does, we may not want it to come out, the crown for the Black Dragon Homeland will have to be gained the hard way.”

The young Warrior Dragon General let out a sigh. “War.”

“Indeed.” Bandurlok managed a hard smile, “But while others may not understand why you are here, you have earned a spot in this chamber with us since thanks to you and your quickly following my orders we have a clear upper hand.”

Duke Bojorm glanced down at the Warrior Dragon with a bit of skepticism then over to Bandurlok, “Exactly what advantage did he give us Highness?”

"Thanks to him, we hold the Obsidian Fortress and anyone not totally dedicated to us has been eliminated or blocked from entry. We have the forges, both magical and mundane, we have the great hall where most of the kingdom’s magic is stored, plus we have the thousands of indentured servants below pounding out weapons for us. In addition we have the vast majority of the castles and fortresses in the Southeast, your Midnight Palace, Count Borgont’s southern Mount Black Stone and my own Eastern Shadow Citadel.

"My beloved Nephew still has the Great Northern Gloom Keep, the Western Shade Spires and the Black Temple plus numerous smaller keeps to the north and west. While this is not insignificant, we clearly start out with the upper hand.

“Of course, my nephew and his green friends impaling their forces on Garm and Alphar lines does not hurt us either.” He snorted lightly, almost chuckling. "The battle we face will still not be easy or bloodless. The loyalties of those in the center of our empire are questionable to both sides and is certainly where most of the fighting will take place. Some pacification of those hoping to break free of Black Dragon rule will certainly be necessary. Yet even as we fight this out and move in force to keep control of our nation’s heartland, we cannot totally strip our boarders or we risk loosing a large chunk of our lands to outsiders even as we fight to consolidate and unify it. I just hope my Nephew understands this as well.

“We need to get this strategy session started so we can see exactly where we stand. Once we know this we can figure out where and when to strike. If we do so quickly enough, we may even be able to inflict major damage to their forces before my Nephew figures out Bloody Rock and our Kings remains has slipped out of the grasp of our kingdom.”

Duke Bojorm nodded agreement but took a moment to glance over the assembly, “I guess the only other question is what to do about the Black Talisman of Kingship itself. We cannot simply abandon it.”

Bandurlok half tossed up his paw, dismissing the question out of hand. “Once we have secured the whole of our homeland under my rulership, I will pay whatever ransom the Garm and Alphar require. I am sure the price will be beyond steep, but so be it. Until then, we do not want it for my father will have certainly embedded his wishes within the Talisman and thus it may contain a hint as to the real wishes as to whom he wanted to lead this nation. And as much as I doubt he was leaning toward my Nephew, I do not want to take the chance. This kingdom is MINE!”


Conner groaned as his eyes popped open. As he reached up to rub his throbbing forehead, his hand didn’t touch skin, but instead hit a thick soft bandage. Confused, he rolled his head to look around. His confusion deepened as he found he wasn’t even in his own small quarters. He tried to sit and shake his head to clear it, but the pain caused by the shake caused him to fall back into the bed.

Another glance told him he was not alone in the room. Off in the corner Sharris was in a chair, but was sound asleep and there was movement in the next room. As he concentrated in an attempt to will the pain in his head to stop, he tried to figure out exactly where he was and how he got there.

The memory was kind of fuzzy though. He clearly remembered the weird lurch of the Thunder Rapids followed by a massive burst of magic which caused him to burn the captain. He also had full recollection of going below to check on the crew. There were a few minor injuries, but nothing the barge’s Healthmen couldn’t handle.

As he reached up and touched the bandage again, he tried to remember what happened next. Touching the thick bandage caused him to wince with pain so he moved his hand back. As he did so, he could see some sticky redness on his fingers. Knowing he was looking at his own blood, he wiped the fingers on his side and closed his eyes. “What was the last thing I remember?”

Even though the words came out as a mere whisper the sound caused his head to pound. He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth to prevent making more sound. As he did so he visualized himself with Captain Pontarious. He was following the old man down to the front hold. As this memory came to him, so did some other details. The ship lurched again, only this time it was way worse. He heard boards creak and several things break and some others splinter.

Conner took a couple of deep breaths as he recalled Pontarious launching off the steps in front of him. He vaguely recalled being airborne himself and casting a spell, but what it was escaped him. All he did know is it went off with way too much power. Everything after the casting was totally black so he guessed the power of the spell must have knocked him out and left him defenseless to land in the lower hold with any kind of control.

Panic caused him to try to sit up again as his thoughts went to the captain. How was the old man? The pain was too much, however. He collapsed back into the soft bed with a bit of a yelp.

Sharris jerked awake with the sudden loud sound from Conner. She jumped up knocking over the chair she had been sleeping on. The second she saw Conner reach for his bandaged head she let out a huge sigh of relief. “Captain! He’s awake!”

Conner made one more attempt to sit up, but before he was half way up a strong hand pushed against his chest while another cradled his head lowering him back into the bed.

“Don’t move son.” The ship’s lead Healthman’s voice commanded from the next room, but even though Conner’s view was blocked he could tell the voice was already moving closer. Other sounds of movement told him there were at least three probably four others who were also moving his direction.

Conner winced again as the hand on his chest hit a tender spot. With the pain becoming too much he simple let the strong hands gently rest him back on the bed. He forced his eyes open again and looked over at Sharris. “How is the Captain?” he managed to whisper as he struggled to maintain consciousness.

Captain Pontarious’ voice answered from the head of the bed just out of sight. “Thanks to you, I am fine and so is everyone else, with the few exceptions of a broken bone here or there and a couple of other nasty cuts the rest of the crew came through surprisingly intact.”

Conner took a deep breath, but instantly regretted it as he chest flared with fiery pain. The words he wanted to speak were choked off as he gritted his teeth yet again.

Conner felt a rough hand slide through his hair as Pontarious’ voice came from the above him again. “Don’t move son. You have over a dozen serious injuries including broken ribs and a nasty knock on your head.”

Conner inwardly cringed as the Captain’s hand continued to move tenderly though his hair. The feeling reminded him too much of the time he had rented himself out for the pleasure of others for a few copper. Some parts of life in the orphanage always seemed to haunt him. As he forced himself to take more shallow breaths he wondered if he would ever be rid of those ghosts.

Conner swallowed and opened his eyes again. “What about your Shaman?”

Another voice came from the far side of the room, “I have tried young man, but it seems whatever caused the sails to act crazy has put some kind of magical barrier around you as well. My spells will simply not penetrate. Both our sorcerers say the external magic is slowly fading around you, being absorbed by you they believe, but it could be a day or two before I can do anything for you. But to be honest, I am nowhere near strong enough to heal you fully.”

Pontarious leaned forward and kissed Conner on the top of his head. As he did so he saw the youngster tighten. Shaking his head with sadness he gently rested his hand on Conner’s left shoulder, one of the few places he knew the boy had no injuries. “We are closing in on the town of Amber Rose, and should be there within just a few hours as long as the sails continue to function. There is a large temple of Vindayin there, we will see if a priest can do something our Shaman can’t.”

Conner nodded understanding very slowly, “What happened?”

“It doesn’t matter, all…”The Healthman started to answer.

Conner clenched his teeth to fight the pain and spoke though a tightened jaw. He then forced his head back so he could stare into the Captain’s eyes. “Sir, what happened.”

Pontarious made a half shrugging motion as he waved off the Healthman. He then softened as he looked down on Conner’s battered body. "We hit another wave of magic, but it was way worse. We were on the stairs and the new patch broke. I’m not sure exactly what you did, but you managed to hit me with a Slow Fall spell and then, as you were flying though the air you let loose some kind of massive wind spell which totally stopped the breach and, I might add, is still in place almost 36 hours later. It is so strong down there we can’t get within a meter of the hull to check for damage. And, unlike the magic around you, the wind shows no sign of getting weaker or fading.

"Anyway, all I could do was watch helplessly as you flew past me because your spell slowed me down and allowed me to gently hit the wind spell. You, on the other hand, slammed into the main support for the lower hold. You should have been killed, but the injuries you sustained hitting the beam healed almost instantly. Unfortunately the ship then lurched again and sent you right back into the steps.

“Half of your current injuries came from you slamming into the steps. The other half are from you rolling down the stairs. Your head split open when it hit the bottom step. But whatever happened closed almost all the wounds. Unfortunately, it didn’t heal the broken bones and the bruising, and I think your head hit after the healing so that is what it is. We think you may have a crack in that hard head of yours as well, so we don’t want you moving too much until we can get it healed.”

Conner let his body go slack. “I don’t remember nothing past the sound of the ship’s hull splintering.”

“Actually, that was the main mast.” Pontarious stated with a bemused voice, “But whatever magic caused the sails to mess up in the first place also sent a backlash through the ship. As best we can tell the whole ship is totally repaired, but we won’t know for sure till your spell goes away, if it ever does. Hell, it took almost 5 hours and 3 Cancel attempts to kill the spell you put on me to allow me to walk at a decent pace and I still have to plant my foot before lifting the next one or I move to the ground a bit slow!”

“It came out too strong, I lost control. I remember the magic spilling out of me, but can’t remember what I cast.” Conner’s voice weakened as his eyes slowly closed.

“Don’t worry about it young one.” Pontarious spoke softly. He watched the pained expression fade from Conner’s face as the boy drifted back to an unconscious like sleep. Leaning forward he carefully kissed Conner on the head again as he pulled the covers up and gently as possible tucked them in under Conner’s shoulders.

He then turned to stare at everyone in the room, “I don’t want him left alone for a moment. When we get to Amber Rose we will pay whatever it takes to heal him. I want their head priest down here, and don’t take no for an answer!”


Aster woke with a start. His head quickly jerked around as he tried to get his bearings. Shade instantly snuggled in closer so the frightened boy could clutch onto something familiar as he figured out where and who he was. His eyes quickly settled on Quavis who was climbing out of the back of the moving wagon and Benem who was staring straight at him.

Benam looked over with a relieved expression, “How you feeling Teacher?”

Aster’s eyes darted around the back of the wagon before settling back on Benem, “What?”

“Are you OK?” Benem asked as he moved a bit closer.

Aster scratched his forehead as he tried to figure out what was going on. “Um, I think so… How did I get in here?”

Quavis reappeared, jumping back into the slow moving wagon with an assist from Olinday. As he spoke it was clear the boy’s voice was full of excitement. “It happened again!”

Confusion caused Aster’s brow to wrinkle a bit, “What happened again?”

Benem stayed quite a bit calmer as he spoke up, but his voice also betrayed his own eagerness to talk about the recent events. “Lady Sagell’s dragon said your brother killed another dragon, only this time it was even bigger!”

Aster’s fingers dug deep into Shade’s fur as he tried to put the pieces together. The last thing he remembered was the rush to pack up camp as Stealth gave them a brief dragon magic lesson. They moved out hurriedly from what was to be their camp. Aster remembered climbing into the back of the moving wagon to check on his traveling forge, securing the tool chest to the side then nothing.

He gazed out the back and noticed the sun was out. He knew that couldn’t be right since it was just getting dark as they pulled out of the last camp. Aster took a deep breath as the sickening feeling of missing time and information returned. Finally he looked at the two eager faces looking back at him as Benem’s words dawned on him. “As in two dragons in less than an hour?”

“Stealth says so and is really freaked out.” Quavis spoke up with hyper sounding fast speech, “He says this one was like something in line with a royal dragon. It took almost a full day for the regular animals to calm down even with Benem and Sagell working with them, and even now Dart is flying over us as is Frost. Neither have landed since the last magic burst. Rage is also a bit crazy still. He has not stopped to eat or drink since we packed up and fled the camp.”

Aster sat up and glanced down, noticing his skin looked a bit dark, almost like he was sun tanned. This distraction lasted for only a few seconds as the full extent of Quavis’ words sank in. “Almost a full day? How long ago did this happen?”

Pocet’s head poked in from the front, “Hey there’s my boy! How you feeling?”

Aster stretched and flexed his chest and arms, “Really good actually. What happed to me?”

“There was another rupture of magic, this one was truly massive.” Pocet reached in and ruffled Aster’s hair, “The Fairy Dragon says it overloaded you with power and magic to the point where you blacked out. Olinday said you glowed really bright, but with a blackish color for a few seconds and your skin darkened a bit while he was watching. He tried to catch you as you fell forward, but the power surrounding you was just too much. It flung him out of the back of the wagon like he was catapulted. All we saw was a bit of a dark shimmer around you by the time we got to the wagon though.”

Olinday nodded, “All three of your pets also got some of the overflow master. All three of them glowed right with you. Shade, however, glowed as bright, or actually as dark as you did.”

Aster quickly reached down and gently lifted up Shade’s head, “Are you OK boy?”

Shade gave Aster a quick yet very wet lick then nodded.

Pocet snickered, “I’d say he is just fine.” He reached in and patted the massive animal on the head. “I think some of it went into all the animals, even the draft horses. We have only stopped for five short breaks since it happened, and that was more for us than the animals.”

Shade let out a single bark and nodded again.

Aster slid out from under the bedroll, realizing he was totally naked as he did so. He took a moment to look over his body and frowned lightly as he noticed his entire body was now a light tan, almost olive color. In addition the scars he had on his leg and knee from past combat had vanished. He quickly reached up and felt his hair line. It was totally smooth, with no indentation where the nasty scar had been.

Pocet reached in and gently pulled Aster to him, kissing him as he did so. “It’s totally gone. I noticed right away when I tucked you in. As a matter of fact there is no sign you have ever scrapped your elbow let alone been in combat.”

Aster managed to grin playfully, “You just can’t keep your hands to yourself can you?”

Pocet turned a bit red, “When it comes to you, it’s mighty difficult!”

Aster chuckled as he pointed to Olinday, “Grab me something to wear.” He then turned his attention back to Benem and Pocet. “How long was I out?”

“Just over a day and a half Teacher.” Benem responded. “And even though the others say they didn’t see it I am telling you the magic that found you came as a huge bolt, almost like a lightning bolt, but was so dark it seemed to suck up the light as it went by. Blackie even tried to blast it with his stink glands, but it was so strong the smell went away almost as fast as it does when I use one of dad’s potions. It went straight toward you, even curved a little as it went in your wagon just so it could hit you.”

Aster took a deep breath as he put on his loincloth. “Well, whatever hit me didn’t seem to hurt me at all. If anything I feel stronger.”


Master Lannet gazed out over the land on the far side of the river. The rather hastily constructed tower wobbled lightly in the stiff breeze, but otherwise seemed sturdy enough to support his weight along with the other three looking out for trouble with him.

As he looked into the wood line only fifty meters from the opposite bank of the river, the only sign of movement was the rustling of branches in the wind. After nearly five minutes he shook his head and sighed in relief. “I detect nothing, either with my mind or my eyes. I think they have backed off.”

The Silver Dragonling snorted sending a swirl of steam into the cold air, "And a good thing. Thissss town will not beat back another attack, and the wall issss breached in too many areassss. What issss left of my company would not be of much help either asss battered and exhausted assss we are.

“You got here jussst in time.” Lord Falk stated as he looked out over the recently tilled farm fields surrounding the small town, now torn up and littered with a multitude of bodies. Green, Black, and Silver Dragonlings by the dozens could easily be seen, yet even more death could be spotted if one took the time to look. Over two score of Pantherlings and quintuple that of Hobgoblins were scattered over the fields surrounding the town.

Lord Falk let out a long hissing sigh as he watched a small, yet heavily armed, group of Pantherlings and Silver Dragonlings pick there way through the carnage looking for signs of life. From the looks of it, there they were finding far more dead than injured.

“Maybe.” The Pantherling commander stated with a wince, cradling his slinged arm as the tower continued to vibrate. “But from what I saw they were doing a great job of killing each other before we jumped in. If the beings in this town would have abandoned it, I wouldn’t have 10% of my force dead and another 20% too injured to fight if they had to.”

The Silver Dragonling let out a light snort. “My unit took ssssome heavy losssssesss too, but you cannot fault thosssse who live here for wanting to defend their homessss. None of thisss isss their fault.”

Lannet patted the Pantherling on his good shoulder, "Besides, the people here have opened up their homes to you and are giving up food that is already in short supply. All you have to do is look out there to know they will have to replant most of their fields after this as well. They are good people.

“In addition, after the pounding you gave them, there is little chance they will come back. No matter how crazed they are, they know a butt kicking when they get one. And, to be honest, this was one of the best I have ever seen.”

The Pantherling managed a slight smile, “Indeed it was. We must have decimated a full battalion of Hobs and a company each of Green and Black Dragonlings. The problem is we are no longer looking at a straight up fight. It has turned into a free for all down here with former allies beating the teeth out of each other.”

Falk nodded, “The recent magical rupture from Dragon Death hasss turned thissss into a three way war. Have either of you found out which Black and Green fell?”

“No.” The Silver Dragonling spoke up, "But we can tell you my Prince dissspatched two full battalions of our Palace Guards to an area far to the north, a place known asss Bloody Rock. Why I do not know, but I have heard your Prince ordered in like numbers of his Desssert Guardiansss. Both forcesss are being lead by multiple Warrior Dragonsss and your Prince even sssent his grandssson, Lord Bolantor asss an overall joint commander for all Blue and Sssilver Dragon forcesss above the Sssilver Ssspine Mountiansss.

Lord Falk shook his head. “Commander, I may be a Blue Dragonling, but he isss not my Prince nor do I claim any allegiance to the Blue Dragon Home Land. I am a sssubject of King Wyhrem and King Wyhrem alone. Although, I am rather happy my kin have joined this fight on the ssside of my king, I cannot claim to be part of what I am not.”

The Pantherling managed a light chuckle. “Lord Falk, you may not see yourself as part of their empire, but they do see you as one of them and highly respect you. Your devote service to King Wyhrem played a key part in the blues’ decision to come to the aid of this kingdom.”

"With any luck I will be able to repay the Blue Dragon Homeland for their kindnessss. Only time will tell. In the meantime, however, we need to refortify thisss town and prepare for the return of crazed Black and Green Dragon forcesss. The more we kill here the lessss King Wyhrem will have to face as he searches for the Dragon responsssible for this war.

The Silver Dragonling raised an eyebrow, “Lord Falk, are you telling usss you do not know who is behind all of thisss?”

Master Lannet turned shapely to look at the Silver Dragonling and Pantherling, “You do?”

The Pantherling nodded, “We know for certain the overall commander is one of two potential crown princes of the Black Dragon Homeland, Lord of Gloom Keep, Bassork. However, we know he has a direct allegiance with the Green Queen and seems to be getting orders from King Blathamort himself.”

Lord Falk’s eyes went wide, “King Wyhrem hasss no idea he is moving againsssst a Great Dragon let alone the possssibility of more than one!”

Master Lannet glanced at his Watch pin and grinned, “No, but he will shortly. We have a team with him.”

The Pantherling managed a pained smile, "You may want to inform your king, things have just become even more interesting as we noticed there were two groups of Black Dragonlings as interested in fighting each other as they were us. The hobs and the smaller force were separate and hostile to the larger combined green and Black Dragonling force. I don’t know who the smaller force was aligned with, but the larger group was clearly flying Prince Bassork’s colors.

“With any luck, we will find a few survivors from the smaller group who know something, or at the very least can tell us who they are fighting for.”

“Commander,” Lord Falk half snarled, “It isss imperative we find out all we can and get the thissss intelligence to King Wyhrem!”

The Silver Dragonling responded with a bit of a grin, “Count on it, Lord Falk, Prince Millen hassss made it abundantly clear we are here to give full aid to your King, even if we have to gate captivessss back to him to mind read.”

Master Lannet shook his head slightly, “As much as it is appreciated, I would ask for first crack at them.”

“You are a lead member of the Watch, Master, so get first shot at them you shall.” The Pantherling responded with a bit of a snarl. “But rest assured, if you cannot extract the information Prince Millen will.”


Glaster entered the large barn quietly and moved silently up into the loft to watch the boys train from above. In the almost two days since the dual explosions of magic ripped though seemingly the whole world. Fear and speculation was the rule rather than the exception. Even though it was clear no one really knew what had happened rumors were running rampant, and as the tails grew taller the local magistrate was once again showing his ineptitude, feeding the rumors by locking up the whole town and disrupting the lives of locals and refugees alike.

The gates of the town had been locked down and remained that way. Word was circulating that the gates would open later in the day for a few hours for those who wanted to venture out could and those with supplies for the markets could get in. Rumor also had it the gates would then be locked down once again and only be opened for a few hours a day for the foreseeable future. Glaster shook his head in disgust; a real town leader would have done things to calm his subjects. Unfortunately, just like the incident with his charges and the peasant boys, the man’s judgment was once again absolutely awful.

Fortunately the recent heavy snows had clogged the roads and the main pass leading down the line of buttes that separated the upper kingdom from the Barony of Everone so the only beings who really felt the added burden of the largest safe town close to the fighting was those already here. Still, Glaster eagerly looked forward to lunch where the King’s Investigator would pass his judgment on the magistrate.

He knelt, pulling Perth closer to him as he did so. Now that the boy was clean, no longer hungry, and well groomed, his true beauty was stunning to the Master Shaman. In his entire life only a couple boys could have compared and only one was more beautiful. As his hand slid down Perth’s leg, he couldn’t help but think of Kandric once again. He closed his eyes for a moment to picture the red haired bright eyed child and let out a slight sad sigh.

He shook off his desire to see his most beloved find of his life as he focused on the kids below as they started putting on armor and secured their weapons. He whispered softly. “You realize you and you alone have helped to bring your entire family out of the beggar caste?”

Perth slightly nodded as he fought the urge to push the seemingly ever present hand off his skin. “Yes sir, but me… I mean my dad will disown me if he finds out I am going to be playing with magic liquids. Potion makers are not trusted.”

Glaster responded with a shrug. "You need not worry, for I told your father you were going to be a Warrior Adept. I still do not understand the lower castes total mistrust of Mystics in this area. The rumors of them boiling babies and the like are badly exaggerated, although I am sure some do such horrible things. In the grand scheme of things, however, it is no different than a Swordsman becoming a Lockmaster and a Sect Warrior to become an assassin. It happens but not all Swordsmen are seen in such a bad light.

“I guess the real problem is they do need strange items to make their liquids and of all the Fields they tend to be the weakest in combat skills on and off the battlefield. Of course the primary reason for this is Mystics need to spend more time in classes and labs than with a sword in hand.”

As Glaster continued to stroke Perth’s exposed thigh, he used his other hand to point to the assembled boys below. “You, however, will need to learn how to fight and fight well like those below are doing if you are going to pass yourself off as anything other than a Mystic. Still, like it or not you have tested to have the gift of the Mystic we must start your training in many arts. Use this time well, for given time to fully heal, young Perth, you will be joining those boys in some of their combat training and I will get you extra training to get you up to par with them. In the meantime, watch, listen and learn as much as you can before you have the bruises those below will certainly sport before the end of this morning.”

Glaster managed a grin as the boy lightly gulped. He forced himself to stay silent as once again his mind turned to Kandric. Perth’s reaction was typical of most kids as they thought of leaning how to fight. Kandric had been just the opposite. He had not only not been intimidated by the thought, but had drunk up every gram of training Glaster could find for the boy. From the first time he had handed the boy a practice staff, Kandric had fallen in love with the very art of combat. Even the most elite Teachers in the hollowed halls of Protector’s keep had found the boy had a natural gift for fighting far above what any non-Swordsman had ever shown, and even above what many Swordsman students had.

Kandric had not even backed away from the challenge of working with and fighting other Sect Warriors. For nineteen months Glaster had paid thousands of silver to an Expert Echelon Ferret Sect Warrior to work with his determined Halfelf. He would have continued to pay the outrageous fees the woman had asked, but shortly after Kandric had reached Secondary Echelon, the woman herself stated there was nothing more to teach. For, in her opinion, Kandric had reached a skill level where he could have passed the Primary Echelon test for a Ferret. The astonished woman even refused to accept a higher fee saying if Kandric wanted to go further he would have to do so on his on merits, for unlike most Subfields, the art of a Ferret was only taught up to the Primary Echelon passing level.

This was partially because the Ferret was the only Sect Warrior without a weapon. The hands, feet, elbows, knees and even the head were weapons of choice, and Kandric had learned enough to kill with any or all parts of his body. The other part was once the ferret learned the basics, it was then blended with the being’s other skills to be the most effective, so it then was up to the Ferret to determine how best to blend the ferret into his daily life. A Ferret was a swift strike and cunning opponent, almost impossible to spot until it was too late. Even other Sect Warriors who were trained to spot other Sect Warriors often had a difficult time identifying a Ferret as a Sect Warrior.

All these skills Glaster had forced the boy to use on more than a couple of outings. A skill set which, just like all others Kandric had gained, had been battle tested and had tasted victory.

Glaster wondered if he would ever again find one such as Kandric. He shook his head, knowing it would be next to impossible. A part of him even briefly wondered if the magical explosions the world had felt were at least in part cause by his beloved boy. The focal point for the energy release had certainly been from the proper area. He snickered and shook his head, dismissing the idea no matter how intriguing it may be.

Finally he forced himself to push off all thoughts of Kandric as below the captain of the guard split the six boys up, teaming each up with his caravan partner. As this was done, one of the prince’s guards moved though the dozens of obstacles and placed a dark green cloth on an upper corner of one of the wagons located close to the middle of barn then made his way out the far side and back around to the assembled kids.

Perth’s brow wrinkled, “What are they doing sir?”

Glaster glanced over and kissed Perth on the cheek and lightly tasted the boy with his tongue which caused the boy to flinch and pull away. Glaster reached up and twisted Perth’s ear enough to cause a stab of pain. “What are you doing boy? Who do you belong to?”

Perth cringed and whimpered for a moment, “Me belong to you sir. Sorry.”

“I belong to you sir. I am sorry.”

Perth felt his ear being twisted again, “I belong to you sir, I’m sorry.”

“Two words not one!” Glaster snarled lightly as he pushed a finger into the tender spot just below the ear he was twisting. “I am sorry!”

Perth yelped and fell into Glaster, “I am sorry!”

“Better.” Glaster stated as he looked into the eyes of the boy noting his fear. “Now remind yourself out loud who and what you are again.”

“I am Mystic apprentice Perth, property of my master until I have lived fifteen years. I am here to serve my master in any and all ways and to learn to be one of the world’s elite. My goals of my servitude are to please my master and learn everything necessary to become a Primary Echelon Mystic, sir.”

“Perfect. It only took you a couple of days to learn those words. Now all you have to do is accept them. Let us test your resolve to those words shall we?”

Glaster pulled the boy’s face up to his lips and kissed him deeply and held the kiss until the boy in his grasp stopped struggling and gave in. He gave it a few more moments before releasing Perth from his grasp. He used his thumbs to wipe the building teardrops welling up from the corners of Perth’s eyes before wagging a warning finger. “Perth, the words you know as your mantra for the next several years of you life need to stop being just words. You must accept them or you will find life very difficult.”

Perth took in a couple of breaths and blinked out the last vestiges of the tears he could still feel in them. “I’m… I am trying sir.”

“I think you should try a bit harder. If you have problems now, it will only be worse once you are fully healed. On the other hand if you learn to accept and even enjoy this you can do the same for what is to come. I have had kids on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between. Those who learned to enjoy are by far the most successful today. Now you can watch the spectacle below as I give you another chance to learn to enjoy being petted.” Glaster once again moved his hand up Perth’s bare leg.

"As for your previous question, I believe it is going to be a team capture the flag game. They will have to search though all the mess you see scattered below, find the green rag, and get it back to the large man without it being taken from them. If they get the flag out of the roped in area fifteen meters from the outer edge of the obstacles and it gets taken by another team, the other team has to get it back into the circle before they can take it to the guard leader. Once it gets turned over to the man, one of the other guards will hide a flag of a different color in the middle and it starts all over again. You will note they are using wooden weapons, not real ones, so they are being expected to fight each other if needed to achieve the goal.

“Normally the first kid to get the flag back to the guard leader three times would be the winner, but since they are teaming up it will probably be five or even six times. This should be interesting for us to watch and exceedingly painful for those below. For the team with the fewest victories will have a great deal of extra chores for the next couple of days while the winners will have none.”

Perth let Glaster pull him toward the floor of the loft. He took a deep breath and allowed the man to guide his body into a sitting position just in front of the man so they could both see and Glaster’s hands could freely roam over his body.

As he accepted this, he couldn’t help but wonder if getting trained would be worth what he would have to endure over the next few years. As the teams of kids close to his own age entered the mess below with weapons ready he decided it probably would. For he would be trained with the weapons those below were wielding, would learn how to fight in armor as they were doing, and he would learn how to use magics and make magic liquids.

He vowed to one day return to this town and show all those who had looked down on him, kicked him, and belittled him, that those slights were not forgotten. He would find his father, brothers and sisters and give them a decent life. The name Perth would not end up being laughed at, instead it would be one held in respect, awe and if possible fear. Even as he felt a hand rub on the exposed edge of his bottom, he smiled as he thought of coming back to kick the teeth out of some of the higher classed kids who had tormented him literally since his birth.


King Wyhrem spun his Dragonsteed with practiced ease as he continued the inspection of the newest arrivals to bolster his royal troops. Flanked by the five man Watch team and his Captain of the Guard the King had grown tired of what he was seeing. Finally, he rolled his head in frustration, frowned deeply, and pointed to a young standard bearer. “This whole force is ridiculous! We are about to take on real dragons and this entire force is not ready to take on ranks of goblins! Just look at this far left flank flag bearer. What a disgrace!”

Instantly the Captain of the Guard jumped down. Without so much of a word the huge man grabbed long handle of the flowing gold and green flag of the Holgan Barony in one hand while cuffing the youngster holding it on the back of the head. The strike was hard enough to knock off the highly polished bronze helm and rock the bearer, but not enough to knock him down. This caused the Captain of the Guard to raise and eyebrow in surprise, but he kept the rest of his features stern and angry looking. Still he took a moment to look at the boy.

With the helmet now on the ground it allowed the man to note a few things he had not seen before. The kid had long dark black hair, pointed ear, and grayish colored eyes with a few tears threatening to spill out. The young Elf had not even flinched. Even though slender, there was a great deal of strength and self determination in the small body. The eyes were the most telling though, for they held no hatred only some confusion and anger which was clearly being directed at the commander, not the man who had just hit him with a very hard blow.

King Wyhrem pointed to the helm now laying almost three meters away while looking at the commander of the Holgan Barony force. “What are you thinking commander?”

The swordsman knelt and bowed his head, “My King, I cannot say I understand your displeasure.”

Wyhrem’s Captain of the Guard angrily picked up the helm and slammed it into the ground centimeters from the kneeling commander’s hand causing the man to flinch. “Really? Then maybe you should wear that in combat instead of the boy!”

Confusion could be seen rippling across the commander’s features as he glanced over at the helm. The man swallowed hard as he noticed the helm was now slightly bent and somewhat caved in by the extreme force of it being slammed to the ground. “My king, it came right out of the baron’s keep. It was a helm used by his personal standard bearers during ceremonies, it was a good helm.”

King Wyhrem let out a large sigh, “I am quite sure it was commander, for a royal guard protecting a baron in a city. It is quite proper,” His voice took on a bit of a growl, “and very polished.”

A gulp from the commander’s Lieutenant caught Wyhrem’s eye. He quickly moved his Dragonsteed sideways to get in front of the man. “Maybe you can tell your commander what the problem is since he cannot grasp the situation?”

The Warrior Adept knelt, “My King, our young bearers, trumpeters and drummers all stand out too much. The gear we equipped them with is of top quality and excellent for a royal entourage but not proper for a battle force. When the sun is out we would be seen because of our gear and our most vulnerable members stand out the most. Even our troops with their highly shined gear will attract too much attention under Zerris’ shine.”

Wyhrem’s Captain of the Guard clenched his fist in frustration, “What about during the night? Lunara’s moon is just as capable of announcing the locations of our forces as Zerris’ sun. Who in the name of the gods equipped this unit?”

The lieutenant glanced over at the commander who remained totally silent and shame faced.

King Wyhrem waited for several moments before tossing up his hands in frustration, “Commander, you were asked a question!”

The Swordsman spoke in a voice barely higher than a whisper, “I did, my king.”

Behind the King a female voice entered the conversation, “My King, may I interject some thoughts here?”

Wyhrem turned and glanced back to the Watch team leader. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he glanced over to his Captain of the Guard who he noted was still eyeing the boy a bit before giving a slight nod.

The woman moved her War Steed up to the group, "My King, the Holgan Barony is not used to large scale combat. They have a major problem with Kobald and Human raiders from the Kingdom of Naycrom on our eastern borders, but the whole of Naycrom is dirt poor and has the same problem. It takes everything they have to prevent the Black Dragon homeland from seizing their lands, so we cannot expect to get help from them with mere raiders.

"The Holgan Barony is a vast expanse of farmland, forests and shallow marshes good for growing rice. There is little monster problems and nothing that requires an army like they have sent you. Other than raiders, which have to be dealt with by using small hard striking fast moving units, they really don’t do or probably know how to do large scale combat. My bet is the closest they come is when the baron does royal inspections or they put on a display in wide open fields during training which is exactly why their formations are ridged, their drummer and trumpeter youth are in fancy dress, and their barding for their horses are spit polished.

“On the other hand, if you look at their scouting units just off the flanks of their formations, you will see just the opposite; even the youngest members of their reconnaissance forces have a hard edge about them. Their animals are leaner, stronger, and at least from where I am positioned look meaner than most of the animals belonging to your other scouting units.” As she finished she gently moved her War Steed back figuring she had said enough.

King Wyhrem straitened up a bit and looked over the assembled force sent by the Holgan Barony with a new perspective. As he did so he nodded slowly and took a moment to give the Watch team leader a slight gesture of thanks.

Finally he backed away from the commander and the lieutenant, leaving them still kneeling. “You all stay here and discuss this oversight with my captain. I want to take another look at this.”

As he retreated a bit further, he glanced back at the young standard bearer whose helm was now a bent mess lying at the feet of his commander. “Young man you are to be commended. My wrath should not have been directed at you, but you took it and have not done anything but blink a couple of tears out of your eyes after the heavy handed blow from a man I know well. His strength would knock most adults to the ground which is what he expected to do to you given the fact he grabbed your standard. I would consider it an honor if you would take my personal standard for I have not found a suitable bearer as of yet.”

The boy’s eyes lit up as he knelt in a horribly preformed bow, “Mr. King, I’d be most happy ta do so!”

Around the King almost everyone cringed.

Wyhrem, on the other hand, laughed at the horrible language not being even slightly insulted. If anything he liked what he was seeing and hearing even more. “What is your age son?”

The boy’s voice was strong as he answered. “Me turns fifty-one on da day after summer fest, Mr. King!”

Wyhrem smiled warmly at the lad. “A stronger thriteen year old equivalent being I doubt I have seen.” He turned to look back at the Watch team, "One of you take this slightly rough around the edges, yet fine lad to my tent and get him properly outfitted with the best we carry. Judging by the fact he carries throwing daggers and has a short sword all worn properly, it is clear to me he has experience a bit beyond the training step four Sorcerer pins he sports on his shoulders.

“In addition, let us find out what he is made of; something tells me we will all be impressed. I want him part of the combat and Sorcerer practice we put all my personal troops through.”

Wyhrem paused and snickered, “Still, he needs a bit of book work and refinement. I also want him put into classes when he is not at my side or in the field. Slot him time with my best instructors for the duration of this war. The rest of you, I would ask to accompany me, but keep back a bit. I want to see these new arrivals for what they really are.”

Finally he glanced over to his Captain of the Guard, “Hand the standard to one of these highly polished swordsmen in the front rank of this formation for they no longer have the use of this bearer.”

The Captain of the guard gave a hard nod, “Of course my King.”

The Holgan force lieutenant kind of shrugged as one of the Watch members gave the boy a hand up to his Warsteed and tore off toward the King’s encampment. “You may wish to inform our king the weird flows of magic seem to harm him especially hard and only the reason he is with us at all is the fact the boy was given the option of jail or being a bearer.”

“Really?” The Captain of the Guard glanced back with a bit of humor in his voice, “What was his transgression?”

As the King rode off in the other direction with the rest of the Watch team, the commander of the Holgan force picked up the helm and stood. “He was captured on the far southeast border by one of our scout teams. We suspected they actually came from beyond our kingdom, but a mind master verified none of them were sure what kingdom they actually hailed from.”

“Anyway, he and a trio of others were caught after they were found bedding down in one of the worker’s barracks on one of the larger farms bordering the Marshes of Tomvail. We managed to grab the others quickly, but it took almost a week to track him down and we lost two good men in doing so. Unfortunately, our baron’s advisor for the region noted they all were trained, or at least being trained. Because of this he decided they could be of use to the barony. He gave them each the option of swearing allegiance to our lands and joining this expeditionary force only to gain remittance of their crimes upon return to the barony after the campaign’s successful conclusion or going to a hard labor prison for a not less than 18 moons. It is no surprise all four took the first option.”

“Since he has been with us, this unit’s leader has reported that both explosions of magic had very adverse effects on him. The first caused some sort of wild air torrents around him. It knocked him flat and sent others close by rolling away from him. The second blew apart the tent he was sleeping in and he didn’t wake for over a full day. He had to be transported in the wagon the whole time.”

Disgust could be heard as the man continued to speak. “The fact is, he is nothing but a brat of questionable Elvin blood. Never in my life have I heard or seen an elf so poorly educated and crude, so he must be of some disgrace to the Elves. Beyond those facts we know he is a criminal who directly or indirectly contributed to the deaths of two of our scouts, is prone to the effects of magic disturbances, almost certainly an orphan, and definitely ruffian trained backwoods trash.”

The corners of the Captain of the Guard’s mouth slowly twisted upwards. “Commander, I will warn our King of the magical problems surrounding the child. However, I want it made abundantly clear our King is a man who sometimes makes decisions based on gut instinct in which he is almost never wrong. In this case, he has just decided your former outer rank flag bearer is someone destined for greatness, which means the boy will most likely be over both of us in status in a matter of a few years and will have earned his way into the upper caste our King is slotting him for. From this moment until our King is proven wrong, which I highly doubt he will be, the kid you just referred to as a brat has captured his heart and is going to be treated as if he was one of our King’s own. So, if you want to keep your teeth inside your thick skull, this better be the very last time you refer to the lad as anything other than the king’s lead bearer, and do so with the utmost of respect.”

The Captain of the Guard thrust the standard he was holding into the hands of one of the youngest swordsman he saw on the front rank. He kept a smile even as his words and voice took on an almost sinister tone. His eyes were harder than Eldwar Steel as glanced back at the Commander. “Oh, just for the record. If it happens, it will not be me knocking them pearly whites out. It will be the King himself.”


Kandric rolled over and yawned. As he did so he could feel extremely soft covers rub up against his skin. Confused, his eyes snapped open only to see a dark green and gold colored tapestry surrounding the bed he was on and a picture of a mountain above him.

The memory of the last battle came to him as he wildly glanced around wondering where he was at. His hand quickly went down to his leg and felt the area where the break had been. His hand slid down past a silk loin cloth and onto his bare leg. There was no sign of the injury and no pain. He took a moment to flex his toes and his knee while keeping his hand over the area he clearly remembered having to straighten out. A slight sigh of relief escaped his lips as he found his leg was straight and he had full movement.

This allowed his heart to stop pounding so wildly, still he couldn’t help but glance around nervously. It quickly became apparent he was alone in an extremely nice huge canopied bed covered with fine silk sheets and even the blankets covering him were softer than any velvet he had encountered.

Light was provided by glowing globs of magical light held up by a silver stand carved to look like an apple tree. Each glob of light was an apple and it seemed to put out a perfect amount of light for him to comfortably see without being too bright. Even as beautiful as it was, what it lit up was equally impressive.

The Green and gold tapestries making up the bedroom he was currently occupying had the scenes of Griffons in flight fighting a manticore and the thick comforter covering him was of a beautiful black with red trim and had a strange crest of a gold trimmed kite shield with a pair of golden arrows crossed over a black anvil with a red fire behind it. So exquisite was the craftsmanship, it actually looked like the flames flickered with each movement of the thick quilt.

Above him, were more colors and superb artistry. The canopy over the bed depicted an astonishing scene. It showed a carved out mountain with a deep blue sky. The whole of the mountain had been turned into a fortress that seemed to blend in perfectly to where it was almost natural. The snow over the upper towers looked like normal peaks unless one really looked hard. Above the main entrance was the same strange crest as was on the comforter. In the sky around the mountain were half a dozen golden griffins.

As a Ruinseeker he knew he was looking at a royal crest on the bed and on the castle scene above him, but never in his life had he seen it likes nor had he come across anything so beautifully done. As he slowly absorbed his surroundings his hands once again reached down and felt the silk loin cloth. Carefully he pulled back the covers to look over himself.

The loincloth was all he had on. It was of Black and red silk and had gold trim. A quick brush of his hand over his hair told him it had been recently washed as his hair was silky soft and there was the slight scent on apple blossoms about his whole body.

A moment of panic set in as he reached for his necklace and felt for his ring. Neither was on, but after a tense few seconds he saw both sitting on a small end table not far from the left side of the bed. Quickly he secured both times and continued to look around noting as he did so that there was very little sound coming from beyond the tapestries. If anything, all he could make out was the sound of blowing wind and some movement further out, possibly the sounds of beings moving around in heavy armor. As troubling as this all was, more of a serene feeling came over him as he spotted other important items.

Right next to the table was a small weapon rack which held his daggers, his sword, and boot knife. He took a deep breath of relief and looked over to the other side. There he found his armor on an actual armor stand, but it looked slightly different. As he slipped the ring on and secured the necklace chain behind his head he leaned forward to examine it.

At first he could not tell what the difference was. It looked exactly like the armor made by Vondum’s men, had the built in dagger holders, the patch was in the same spot, and the trim was identical. Suddenly it dawned on Kandric, what was different. It was not made of leather like the old one had been. Instead this one was made of a thick black rugged looking hide.

After a few seconds it dawned on him it had to be dragon hide, Black Dragon hide to be precise. The reinforcement of metal had been replaced by Black Dragon scales and even the sheaths for the daggers had been crafted out of Black Dragon scales. He also noticed on the left shoulder was yet another crest of the seemingly ever present arrows, anvil, and fire.

He stood to look at it more carefully. As he did so his feet touched thick soft velvet carpet. He glanced down and whistled very softly as he realized the floor was covered in a plush carpet with the exact same black gold and red crest. As he continued to glance around he spotted a second armor stand. This one had armor of the exact same style, but it was of a dark green. Forgetting about the black armor he silently made his way over to the other stand. Even before he got there he knew it was made of Green Dragon hide and scales, but still he had to move closer to examine the craftsmanship. It was just as incredible, if not more so than the black armor.

He straitened up, stretched, and gazed around one more time. Finally a single loud word escaped from his amazed lips. “Wow!”

The sound of someone in armor snapping to attention just outside the boundaries of his makeshift room caused him to spin in the direction of the tapestry ends that wrapped around to make entry flaps into the area in which he woke. Without a thought he secured his sword and called out, “Who is there?”

A strong voice answered instantly, “I am your personal guard my prince!”

Kandric shook his head quickly as if trying to clear it. He switched to the sword to a defensive position as he took a step back from the flaps. “Excuse me?”

The voice responded, “My Prince, I have been given to you as your personal guard. Is there anything you require?”

Kandric lowered the blade slightly, “An explanation would be a great start sir.”

“My Prince, I am not a knight, but if you would prefer someone who is knighted to be your guard I am sure it can be arranged.”

Kandric paused for a moment, briefly debating on what to say. As much as he would love to be treated like some royal brat, he shook off the momentary desire to be waited on hand and foot. Still none of this seemed right. Taking a deep breath he slipped into the sprit realms and took a look around. He quickly spotted his wind spirit friend, “What can you tell me my friend?”

The spirit swirled around creating a bit of a dust devil making the tent Kandric was in shake some. “It is good to see you alive. These beings have been beside themselves trying to get all sorts of stuff for your tent and there is no chance any dragon assassins getting to you. You seem to have some very powerful and impressive friends in your own realm.”

“First I have heard of it. Thanks you.”

“Nothing to thank me for. You are the Great Dragon killer and yet again you did not call for help.”

“Why, there is no way I could have you come underground!”

“As much as I thank you for your consideration, we could have found something to help you.”

“I was told if I asked for help when I did not need it I could loose the offer, so I will not ask unless I need to.”

The spirit once again swirled as it laughed, “Most would consider facing a Great Dragon as a good time to call for aid. Yet you did not even do so for a pair of greats. I have to wonder what would make you call for aid if those two did not.”

“You will be the first to know my friend.” Kandric shrugged, “So you do not think I an in any danger here?”

“None what so ever. I do not believe I have ever seen one so guarded as you are right now.”

Kandric rolled his eyes, “Very well, thanks once again for being there for me.”

“My pleasure, but I can tell you Syria’s minions have told me you have further increased your status by not asking for help and you now have guards not far away even in this realm, but they are hidden even from me.”

“Wonderful.” Kandric stated with a bit of sarcasm. “If you see one, tell them I really do not want them to waste their time on me.”

“I will be sure to pass your message on mortal friend, but I seriously doubt they will listen.”

“Yea, well it does not sound like the mortals around me will listen either.”

“I guess you will have to make them then.” The spirit lifted off the ground buffeting the tent again.

Kandric slipped back into his body. As he did so he realized he could hear extra guards moving around his tent and some sounds of concern about the wind pulling at the strong ropes. Just outside the flaps to his room the guard worriedly asked if he was OK.

Kandric groaned in some disgust “Good sir, I believe there has been a major oversight here. I deserve no attention and you are a waste of your unit’s resources standing outside there.”

“My Prince, such decisions are not for me to make, but I can assure you, there is a need for you to be guarded. There are very angry dragons wanting a piece of you and they are not very far away.”

Kandric’s face twisted into a bemused smirk, “You do realize the last two dragons to get angry with me and those I was with did not do so well, right?”

A very nervous clearing of a throat was all the response Kandric heard so he sighed, “Alright then, maybe I should speak to your commander or someone else of power to clear up this mistake.”

The voice took on a concerned tone, “I will send for Duke Mathard straight away my Prince, for I do not know of any mistake and sincerely apologize if one was made. We have done our utmost to make the bedroom as comfortable as possible. Is there anything you are missing or desire?”

Kandric’s head cocked sideways as he looked at the flaps. As he did so he lowered the sword down to his side. “Well I am awfully hungry, but I would prefer to see your commander and my friends. There is no need to bother a Duke or any other member of royalty, for rest assured I am not nearly important enough to bother one so lofty.”

“My Prince, I am confused by your requests, but will send for who you have requested.” As he said this Kandric heard the sound of a gong that was clearly right next to the being he was speaking to. “I will also send for food at once, what is it you desire?”

Kandric scratched his chin and shrugged his shoulders, “How about you come in here so I can talk to you face to face?”

There was a distinct gulping sound on the other side of the thick cloth wall before the flaps opened and a Dwarvin guard appeared wearing heavy Dwarvin Blue Steel plate mail, a heavy blue steel shield, and armed with a lightly shimmering blue steel axe. The thickly bearded dwarf took a single step in and dropped to a knee in a perfectly executed Elvin bow.

Kandric felt his jaw drop as he took in the shine of the polished armor, shield, and magical axe, all of which held the crest of the Garm High Council, a crest he had only seen in some of the oldest tomes Glaster had found for him to read. Most of which he had not even been allowed to touch. So old were the pages and so precious the information the only way the libraries would allow them to be read was to hire a mind master to turn the pages with the force of thought so nothing could damage them.

Kandric responded as his Ruinseeker training took over. In response to the crest alone, he dropped his blade and fell into an equally perfectly performed Dwarvin bow.

The situation became even more awkward as another figure pulled open the flaps and also dropped to a knee in an Elvin bow. “My Prince, you honor us with your knowledge of Dwarvin, but please stand!”

Kandric glanced over to see another Dwarf, this one in even nicer armor and with a dark grey cape with some sort of crest on the back. It was held around his neck with a clasp depicting a Garm royal crest.

Color drained from Kandric face as he once again recognized the crest. This one had been written about in an even older text Glaster had in his personal collection. It was a detailed account of a Garm leader who fought and killed a massive White Dragon and claimed the lands for the Garm. As a reward his family had been elevated to the Garm High Council and the lands around the battle sight given to his family.

Kandric lowered his head deeper as he switched to Dwarvin. “Lord of Winter Creek, it is I who should not be allowed to stand in the presence of an esteemed member of the Garm High Council!”

Duke Mathard stood, motioning for Kandric to do likewise. As he did so he switched to Elvin. “Young Prince, your mastery of our customs and language are outstanding and your correct identification of my family crest is doubly so, but trust me when I say you have no need to bow to us. Even if you were not an Alphar Prince, your victories inside of Bloody Rock will be the legends from our time and will reach though history. Your linage may say you are a prince, but your action have proven it to all those who know or who are yet to find out.”

Kandric stood on slightly wobbly legs as the nervousness at standing in front of a Duke made it hard not to tremble slightly. “My Duke, are you sure you have the right being? I am nothing more than a swamp slum Halfelf.”

Duke Mathard laughed, “Son, your mother may have been thrown out of your grandfather’s court, but you are still Alphar and you are very much a Prince. Like it or not, know it or not, you are Prince Kandric of the Alphar and a Lord of the lands of the Griffin Spires.” He pointed to the crest on the carpet. “In my opinion you have earned a right to wear something you should have been given. The fact you have earned the respect of all of us without the help of your family line is even more impressive.”

Kandric half tossed up his hands. “To be honest I am for more proud of the Wilderness Scout patch I wear. I could care less if my armor displays a crest I have no knowledge of and even less respect for. I in no way wish to dishonor you or the Alphar, but as best I can tell the man who heads this house has done nothing but hide. As a matter of fact I did not even know what it was until you told me. At least your family crest has a vast and important history. This, ”Kandric lightly kicked at the carpet, “has not been written or talked about anywhere I know of, and I have been to some of the best knowledge storehouses known.”

Before Mathard could counter Kandric made a bit of a snorting sound, “Besides, from what I have gleaned from my mother, the crest I am standing on is not one my mother or any of her kids should be allowed to be in the presence of let alone wear.”

Mathard frowned deeply. “Prince Kandric not long ago your grandfather rescinded his order and put your mother back onto his family as the heir to his throne.”

Kandric shrugged, “Good she can have it, if the Alphar Court will allow her to.”

Mathard took a deep breath and lowered his voice so others would not hear, “Young Prince it is a good thing for him he did reinstate your mother. For your actions alone would have forced him to hand your mother his throne within the next few months. Now he will get to pass it on to her when he is ready or upon his passing. Of course after this he may just put your name on it. If you were my grandson, I know I would bypass all my sons and daughters to hand Winter Creek over to the most impressive being I have ever encountered.”

Kandric leaned against the post of the massive bed as he absorbed the information. His mind raced over hundreds of possible questions, one suddenly came to him that absolutely needed to be asked. “My Duke, what of Zeltoss, Lorthorn, and Seldnat?”

Duke Mathard frowned, “Who?”

Kandric felt his heart jump for a moment before the still kneeling guard responded, his voice taking on a note of displeasure. “My Duke, I believe those are three we took out with Prince Kandric. I have heard the Orcish one tell us his name is Seldnat.”

Kandric felt his face flush with some anger, “He may be a Halforc, but his is someone I trust fully!”

Duke Mathard held up his hand to calm Kandric, “My Prince, all three of those we found with you are in a tent we set up for them. They, like you, were out for quite a while, but the Halforc one woke a few hours ago. I do not believe the others are yet moving.”

Kandric took a breath of relief and started to walk toward the exit but stopped as he felt a bit of a head rush. Duke Mathard instantly reached out to give him some support. “My Prince, you have to take it a bit easy. You have been overwhelmed with more magic in an hour then most will encounter in a hundred lifetimes and you have not eaten or taken a drink in almost two days.”

Mathard features took on an almost fatherly air as he saw the rather surprised look come over Kandric, “Yes, you have been sleeping for almost two full days now.”

“No wonder I am so hungry.” Kandric commented as he allowed the Duke to help him sit on the side of the bed. “But I still need to go see my friends my Duke.”

“Let us get some nourishment in you first.” Mathard Commanded.

“As you wish my Duke.” Kandric paused as he eyes grew wide, “What of the others from the Slome School?”

’I do not know what you are talking about."

Kandric stood again, “I was helping lead students from the Slome School in there! I have to find them!”

“Young Prince, you are in no condition to go running back up to Bloody Rock.” Mathard stopped and snickered, “Besides, I do not think you want to rush out right this minute even if you were feeling a bit stronger.”

“Why not?” Kandric responded sounding a bit annoyed.

Duke Mathard’s features broke into a wide grin as he pointed to the small chest at the foot of the bed then over to the armor. “Oh, far for me to tell an Alphar Prince what to do, but you may want to put on some clothing before exiting this tent. It would not do at all to have a near nude Prince walking around a camp so close to the front lines. Our troops might find it a bit unnerving after all.”

Kandric didn’t even bat an eyelash as he smiled playfully and looked straight into Mathard’s eyes, “Maybe this is true, however, I am sure many would enjoy it and more than a handful would want to see it again.”

The guard nearly choked on his own saliva as Duke Mathard jerked his head and took a step back. A moment later the Garm Duke boomed out a powerful laugh, “My young Dragon killing Prince, I am totally positive you are correct!”

Still chuckling Mathard gently kicked the still knelling guard, “Go fetch our guest some food and send someone to check on his three friends, make sure they are being taken care of as royal guests. Our Prince says they are his friends so we must do whatever it takes to make them as comfortable as a forward war camp can make such esteemed guests.”

The guard stood, “Would you like a fruit tray my Prince?”

Kandric scowled for a moment then shook his head, “I may have the blood of Alphar in me, but I have lived in a swamp slum most of my years as a hunter. If you really want to know what I want, how about some freshly hunted meat, cooked but with a bit of blood in the middle, smothered in gravy with some potatoes and cooked vegetables? If you still think I need some fruit because I am of Elvin heritage, make it in the form of a drink.”

Astonishment could be seen on the guard’s face as he glanced to Duke Mathard.

Mathard’s mouth twisted into a bit of a smirk, “Well it sounds like you need to send someone to our mess tent and not the Alphar’s. You heard the Prince, get moving Sergeant.”

As the Garm guard scurried out of sight Mathard let out a light snort, “Young Prince, while you are here, it sounds like you may wish to eat with me far more often than my Alphar counterparts on the far side of this encampment.”

Kandric gave a grin as he slid off the bed and knelt next to the chest. His smile quickly vanished as he looked at the silks inside. “From what I have read, I am sure you are correct my Duke. Something tells me my Grandfather will not be pleased with what he sees when I finally meet the man.”

Mathard shrugged, “I really doubt it matters. You are now the talk of the entire Alphar Court not to mention the Garm High Council. Your grandfather may not like your tastes, but there is nothing he can do about it other than deal with them and possibly hire a new cooking staff just for you.”

“There is no need for him to do so. If he thinks I am going to suddenly go to some lavish palace he could not be more mistaken. I grew up outside of Alphar lands and I intend to stay out here.” Kandric started rummaging through the chest looking more and more aggravated.

Mathard watched on with some humor as nice silks started being tossed about the floor as Kandric continued to dig though the assortment of upper royal quality clothing. “Is there something you are not finding?”

“Yes.” Kandric scowled as he reached the bottom. “How about something to wear under the armor you were so nice to make for me.”

“Young Prince there is no need for you to dress in battle garb unless you wish to do so.”

Kandric’s voice slipped into a bit of a snarl, “Good Duke, the chances of me wearing silks when there is even the slightest chance of me joining a fight are zero. Chances of me getting into silks at all is only slightly better. I want some real clothing.”

Mathard glanced at the silks strewn all over the floor with slight shake of his head finding it rather humorous both the Garm High Council and the Alphar Courts had spent a great deal of resources and money making silk clothing to perfectly fit a boy who was absolutely disgusted by them. “Such as?”

“Thick cloth and britches would be a good start and some real socks so I can wear those beautiful dragon hide boots you made out of the green female would also be nice!” Kandric growled. “I want real clothing not some fancy trash good only to show off or appear in front of a royal wedding. I may have the blood but I could care less about being from some stupid royal family and I certainly want real clothing, especially for under the armor!”

Mathard held up a hand in an attempt to calm the outburst. Seeing Kandric lower his head and drop back into a Dwarvin bow he shook his head a bit sadly. “Prince Kandric you really do not need nor should you bow to me other than in an initial greeting. Your House has a very proud and ancient history.” Suddenly the Duke’s eyes went wide, “Young Prince did you just say the green was a female?”

Kandric nodded, “Yea, and there were lots of guardians for her too. It was quite a fight.”

“Believe me when I say we all took notice of the tremendously high body count inside the cavern where you killed the two great dragons. Some of my men actually went around poking at many of the bodies thinking they had to be illusions.”

“It would have been easier if they would have been.” Kandric managed a bit of a smile, “So what is this about my mother being from so prestigious Alphar house?”

Mathard motioned for Kandric to sit. Once he did so the Duke slid up next to him, “Young Prince, I think it is time for a new History lesson. Would you care to learn something new?”

“Of course I would my Duke.”

“Excellent. First I would deeply appreciate it if you would simply call me Mathard.”

“Only if you just call me Kandric my Duke.”

Mathard patted Kandric on the back, “Deal, Kandric it is.”

“Fine by me Mathard. But please excuse me if I slip up. I am in no way used to being around royalty and every gram of my being wants to at the very least call you Duke Mathard.”

“I am sure I will slip up as well, for your house is one of the oldest and most important in the Alphar Court.”

As Mathard started to talk to Kandric a pair of Garm boys came in holding large trays of food and a pitcher of juice. Behind them the sergeant glanced over their shoulders at the mess of clothing. His confusion was obvious as he dropped into an Elvin bow. “My Prince, all we have for cooked fresh meat right now is bear, but we could get you some Frost Elk within the hour.”

“Please stand already!” Kandric stated as the smell of the meat and gravy assaulted his nose. Bear is just fine. Besides, Frost Elk should be served to those of some importance, not me."

The Garm Sergeant stood while glancing at Mathard. Uncertainty was clearly written over his face.

Duke Mathard managed a half shrug, “Sergeant, our guest wants some thick cloth garments to wear under his armor, find him something simple and suitable and make it fast.”

The Sergeant started to say something but stopped as he caught a slight shake of Mathard’s head. To stop himself he gave a fake cough before giving a slight Dwarvin bow. “At once my Duke, is their anything else?”

Kandric had to swallow some of the saliva building up in his mouth from the smell of the food as he eyed the plate with an almost animalistic look. “Yea, as matter of fact there are a couple of things.”

“What my Prince?”

Kandric stood and walked over to the food “First have the servants stop cutting my food, I can feed myself!”

Both boys backed away even before being told to do so. They were so afraid of Kandric they tripped and fell over each other as they backed away. This caused Mathard to smile slightly as he noted the sergeant had also taken an involuntary step away from a figure less than a third of his weight and only wearing a loin cloth.

The Sergeant reached down and basically flung both servants out of the room as he nervously spoke, “What else my Prince?”

“Get me a real loin cloth; my old one would be just fine!”

“Um, well my prince, we kind of burned it…”

Anger flared in Kandric’s eyes, “Why in the name of the gods would you burn something over a score kids in the Swamp Slums would kill for!” Kandric’s right hand grabbed the plate of food off the small end table while his left slammed into it. His Ferret Sect Warrior training showed as the fine mahogany table splintered under the impact.

Mathard’s eyed the table with wide eyes as his voice took on a commanding tone. “Sergeant, it would be in the better interest of you and the furniture in this tent for you to find what this young man wants. If you have to, send the servants over to the Alphar side and take some clothing belonging to their servants. Whatever you do make it happen at the utmost of speed then find a replacement as a personal guard for Our Prince here. He does not seem terribly happy with you.”

“Forget about a guard for me!” Kandric snarled, “Just get my friends their gear and make them armor like you made me and they can be my guards! In the mean time, if you absolutely demand I have some sort of protection, get Seldnat some good equipment and have him be my guard since he is awake.”

But he’s nothing but a Halfo.." the words of the sergeant stopped short as Kandric, still holding onto the food, did a spinning kick. It slammed into the middle of the sergeant’s chest with enough force to slightly dent the Dwarvin Blue Steel armor and send the stunned Garm stumbling out of the flaps of the inner tent room. He fell on back holding his chest wheezing.

Kandric advance out of the inner room, handed the food to the two servants, and dropped into a fighting stance. “I told you once he is my friend. Do not ever talk badly about him again if you want to live!” He then glanced to the servants, “Go put the food on the bed and get a new table or something!”

The outer flaps burst open as half a dozen heavily armed Garm poured into the large tent. All stopped short as they saw a Half-Elvin boy in a loincloth standing over one of their own with a slight trickle of blood coming from the boy’s heal and a dent that matched the shape of heal in the armor of the downed Garm.

Kandric glanced up, rage burning in his eyes. "Do any of you care to be next?

The squad leader instantly held up his hands and took a step back, “No my Prince, I think we will all pass.”

Kandric took a couple of deep breaths to calm some then nodded, “Good then a couple of you get him to your healer, a couple of you get me some real clothing and a couple of you go get my Halforc friend Seldnat and outfit him as my guard, then one of you go to your craftsmen and have them get started on dragon scale armor for all three of my friends you found me with and I just may forget about this!”

Kandric spun and pushed past a rather stunned Mathard who had moved up to the flaps to Kandric’s room. “I am going to eat now and I want to be able to wear the armor by the time I am done so find me my old clothing or get me something close, and don’t tell me you burned my other clothing, cause if you did you best find something very close to replace it all with. If not, fine, I’ll go back into Bloody Rock like this. I am going to find those students and Teacher Saslara!”

The squad leader motioned for two of the others to grab the sergeant and motioned for the boys to do what Kandric told them. Finally he looked over to Duke Mathard, “My lord, your orders?”

Mathard chewed on his lip for a second as he looked at the dented armor. "Well, corporal, I for one have never seen anyone dent Blue Steel armor with a bare foot, so I suggest you do as he asked. He wants thick cloth clothing and a heavy loincloth, probably of some kind of soft hide like he was wearing when we found him. Furthermore, you best all pass the word around about the status of his Halforc friend.

“Work fast, cause there is very little Elvin about his behavior, so my guess is he will eat what is on that platter like we would, so you don’t have much time to find what he wants.”

The corporal motioned for the others to get moving before turning to Mathard, “My Duke, the Prince’s foot is bleeding slightly.”

Duke Mathard glanced down and noticed several small drops of blood in a path on the carpet inside the royal tent. “Our feet would be too if we kicked full plate armor with a bare foot, and I seriously doubt we would leave a dent. Once you have everything the boy wants find someone to clean this up. I’ll go take care of the boy and try to give you some extra time.”

The corporal managed to smile, “Just don’t make him mad my lord.”

Mathard half snickered, “Worry not, I like to chew my food and keeping my teeth is a vital part of doing so. Gumming a bear steak would just be no fun at all.” Mathard started to turn back toward the inner room where Kandric had gone but paused, “OH, one last thing. Let us get our good sergeant healed up and out on the front lines. I really do not want him seen by our young guest again.”

“I will pass your orders along my lord, but I am not so sure our royal guest will not want to go to the lines the second he gets his armor on. To be honest we could use him out there, the greens are really pressing this for some reason.”

“Yes, and they are not likely to stop until we totally shatter their lines or they gain entry into Bloody Rock which is where the Prince and I will be going as soon as he is fed and in armor.”

“My Duke, it is taking over a company of our best and a company of Alphar just to prevent those within the hill from breaking out. Going in there will be very dangerous.”

“Indeed it will, but trying to prevent our guest from doing so would be just as hazardous. If he is going back in there so am I.” Mathard’s eyes hardened, “Speaking of which, pass the word so all the Garm and Alphar commanders know why the greens are so frenzied.”

“You know?”

“Not until I talked to Prince Kandric. Now, however, it is abundantly clear why the greens are so obsessed with getting in there. It turns out our young prince did not simply kill a Great Green. Instead the one he killed was a female.”

“A female…” The Garm patrol leader gasp, “No wonder there were so many heavily armed and armored dead of different races in there, they were her guardians.”

“Indeed they were.” Duke Mathard shook his head, “But now they absolutely need to get in there, for loosing her was beyond horrible for them, but making matters even worse, they also lost her lair.”

The corporal’s eyes went wide, “By the gods, they want the hatchery!”

“So would be my guess. We need to send scouts back in there ahead of the prince and see what we missed. For somewhere in there is a group of students our prince was helping to lead, a teacher from the town just a few leagues away who the prince wants to recover, plus an egg room and probably a great deal more.”


Klent knelt in the snow and studied the small group of brigands as they picked over a trio of dead bodies. Out of the three groups he had tracked down this one was the worst by a wide margin. So desperate were the four men and two women, nothing was beyond stealing including the loincloths of the two men they had ambushed and killed. The third, a young girl, was spared this final indignity as they rolled her down the hill still wearing her thin threadbare under-dress, but the rest including the girl’s shoes, shirt, britches, and coat were hastily being shoved into sacks.

Lidevar pulled back on the string of his crossbow and slid a bolt out of his hip case, “This is a waste of time.”

“Yea, but it’s good combat practice for the younger ones.” Klent sighed.

Jory yawned as he notched an arrow, “This isn’t combat, it’s barely target practice. At least the last group had a couple in armor.”

Garvol, one of the two other surviving members of Lidevar’s original group snorted; “Only leather, and it wasn’t made good at all. But your right kid, this ain’t practice, it’s not even worth the effort and we ain’t getting nothing worth it out of them neither.”

Klent noticed the others with him were nodding slightly. A bit of anger crept into his voice, "Look guys, what we get off the bandits isn’t the point. We are being paid to do this so if they have anything of value at all it is a bonus. Now we promised to find a decent group for the Master Shaman’s students to hit and to deal with others as needed. Well, let me make this totally clear, those three people were just murdered and unless we do something to stop them we might as well kill the next set of refugees we come across cause those six down there surely will.

“Now you can either get on board with this or leave. Just remember you all signed on with me, not the other way around and I paid to get us this far and get this contract which has the possibility of a huge payout. I, for one, am going to do everything possible to complete it and if any of you go against the rules the Shaman set or try to screw this up I’ll kill you or die trying. Got it?”

Lidevar was quick to support Klent. “While I really don’t like this none and I don’t get the point a what the Shaman wants, Klent’s gots us a contract and we’d be fools ta think there be a better er easier deal in this neck a the wood. If takin’ down a bunch a cut throats be part a the deal, then so be it. Besides, this be a whole lot better than boring caravan guardin’ er some such nonsense.”

Jory also spoke up as he continued to watch the small group push the last two bodies down the hill and start cleaning their cheep bronze weapons. “I don’t see any problem at all. Those folks are killers and deserve what we are about to give them. But if any of you want to walk now would be the time to do it. At least the city still has its gates locked so the Master Shaman can’t get out and find you quickly. Although, something tells me it wouldn’t matter how far away you got, if you screw him over I have no doubt he’ll find you, gut you, and stand there with a smile as you bleed to death.”

The others glanced back and forth nervously for a few moments before nodding and readying their own ranged weapons.

Klent gave Jory and Lidevar a nod of gratitude before letting out a long breath of air. “You know this really don’t look like much of a fight. The only two who might know a thing or two are the older woman and the tall skinny one with the short sword. ”Jory, why don’t you and the other two kids try to take them out on your own."

Jory glanced over with a bit of surprise, “Seriously?”

Klent nodded, "Yea. Lidevar, Garvol, Immeck and me ’ll hang back and jump in if needed, but none a us are going to get much out of this. Besides you three should be able to handle two of them each. You are all guilded and you are a spell thrower. It really shouldn’t take more than you kids to deal with this.

Jory glanced over to the other two and shrugged. The older of the boys, a fifteen year Animal Adept by the name of Pulon glanced down at his new pet a giant raccoon Klent had paid a great deal for, petted it once and gave a brief nod while Lryrod, a 14 year old Swordsman, looked a bit more nervous as he pulled an arrow out of his back quiver and notched it in his short bow.

Klent put on a smirk. “Let’s make this a bit more fair. Move on down there and offer them a chance to surrender. We’ll keep you covered from up here, but don’t look back and don’t expect us to help. It’s high time I see what you three are capable of without us babysittin’ ya all the time.”

Jory just rolled his eyes stood and readied his barb, knowing Klent well enough to realize the man was simply testing him and the others. Pulon, however, gave Klent a bit of a glare, “Me ain’t no baby and don’t need sittin’ none!”

The older boy turned to Lyrod who looked on with a bit of a nervous worried expression, "Get up and get movin‘. Yer makin’ us look bad.

Lidevar quickly added in some pressure, “Come on boy, before we go buyin’ ya some diapers.”

Lyrod clenched his jaw in an attempt to hide a slight lip quiver, but failed badly. Sill he stood and made his way over to the other two, adjusting his reinforced leather armor some as he did so further trying to hide how scared he was

Jory moved over to his side and gave him a pat on the back, “You take out the two younger ones doing most of the carrying, ”I’ll take care of the skilled woman and the old guy."

Pulon again stroked the fur of his pet, “So ya wants me to take the tall guy and the fat one, huh?”

Jory nodded, “Unless you want me to handle both the ones who seem to have some training.”

Pulon snickered, “No way. Me ain’t about to let some younger kid take all the credit. You want me ta do the talking or do you want to?”

Jory thought it over for a second and then looked over to Lyrod with a sad shake of the head. “I’ll handle this group, you get the next one. Maybe by then your friend will be comfortable enough to handle the third group.”

“He ain’t my friend none, at least not yet.” Pulon motioned for Jory to take the lead, “If’n he fights good and stop actin’ so scared all the time me just might start to like him some.”

“He’ll be fine.” Jory stated as he started to move down toward the six bandits, “Let’s go.”

Klent motioned for Garvol and Immeck to spread out and cover the three kids while he kept an eye out for other dangers. “So those two cubs were hired by Gambra huh?”

Lidevar half shrugged while nodding, “She took anyone who had a guild pin and he has a Primary Echelon pin, so yea. He did put a couple arrows into the mountain cat last fight at least.”

Klent sighed, “It’s a good thing he did or I would have tossed him out by now. He best shape up if he wants to stay with us.”

"Give him a chance, Klent. We found him with large shield covering most a him, with burns over his leg armor and a dagger in his shoulder. If it hadn’t been for your young’an me not sure he would have made it none.

“Me bettin’ the caravan attack was his first fight and damn near his last. When we find him, he was crawlin’ away with someone’s hand still grippin’ his shoulder. Garvol say he think it was the kid’s uncle’s hand cause a what the kid say when Gravol pulled it off and tossed it inta the trees, but we ain’t sure cause we didn’t really care none and didn’t want no cryin’ brat so none a us asked. One thing we be sure of though, is him had to see the hand get cut off and his face was covered in blood.”

“I’d say I was sorry, but he hired on with Gambra, so to be honest I’m not. All I care is he shape up cause we can’t have no skittish members of this party and I don’t need to constantly watch someone’s back.”

“Make him do more a this and he’ll get over it. In the mean time me’ll look after him.” Lidevar stated, defending the boy more than Klent had ever seen him do.

“You like the kid don’t ya.”

Lidevar turned a bit red, “No more than you like the Healthman kid.”

“I happen to adore Jory; I just can’t see paying his prices very often.” Klent raised and eyebrow as he saw Lidevar fidget a bit. “So you have slept with him?”

Lidvar tried to change the subject. “Ya know, the animal handler kid ain’t too bad and fights pretty good.”

Klent let out a light laugh. “OK so take it you haven’t but want to?”

“Never slept with no boy before, but…”

Klent snorted, “Do you think he was been in bed with someone? He kind of seems like he might have.”

“Both me and Immeck thinks he been used before, probably how him got his trainin‘. But we ain’t had no chance to get him alone none. Before we catch up with ya, Immeck say we ought a patch the kid up and make him grow long hair ta pay us back for his healin’.”

“What happened to the 50 silver Gambra paid?”

“No clue. He had only a few copper on him when we found him. Garvol checked.”

“What a surprise. So do you want to get him into bed or what?”

“I’d give it a shot if I could.”

“No problem, how about I start paying for two man rooms. I’ll assign the kid to your room. If he has done it fine, if he hasn’t and you want him to, make him. Tell him it’s payment for you keeping him in the group.”

“What if’n him leaves?”

Klent shook his head, “Not much chance, he may be guilded, but ain’t no one going to hire him like he is and he’d be meat in the street if he tried to go it on his own. All you have to do is make sure he sees his he has no options before hand. I’ll set the stage if you want.”

“You probably be better at it then me.” Lidevar reached down and adjusted his manhood as he took aim on the tall skinny guy down the hill. “The other kid seem ta be working out for us at least.”

Klent nodded as he saw Jory emerge from the brush holding his spike tip whip at the ready. “He is pretty good actually. He took down one of the skilled bandits by himself on the last fight and his pet took down another. All and all it was probably worth the 70 silver I paid for the fur ball, but he is still a couple of skilled kills behind Jory.”

“Yea, for a small pretty boy, he can fight. Of course him castin’ sure helps some too. He really messed them up in the last fight with the fire commin’ out of his hands. All four of their horses spooked and tossed all but one of em.”

“Indeed, but this time he is more or less on his own.” Klent sighed and shook his head in an almost sad way. “You may want to watch cause you are about to see a side of Jory you didn’t even know existed.”

Below Jory snapped his barb loudly causing the six bandits to jump and look his direction. Two of them moved their hands to their weapons while the older woman picked up her mace and stood. She raised and eyebrow as the other two emerged from the line of brush “Shouldn’t you three be with your mommies?”

Jory clenched his off weapon hand into a fist but kept his facial features totally neutral, “Maybe, but its kind of hard to believe you care since there is at least one mommy out there who won’t get to see her little girl ever again because of animals like you.”

The two younger ones dropped the bags they were holding and pulled daggers while the tall skinny one drew a short sword. He snarled as he took a step forward, “Them be killing words boy.”

The older woman’s eyes narrowed but she held up her hand to prevent the others from starting a fight. Even though she spoke in Jory’s direction it was clear her words were meant for those with her. “You three are well armed and you have good quality armor, but do you really think you can take all six of us once we spread out?”

Jory sighed as he noticed the others started to fan out a bit, “Look lady, this doesn’t need to get ugly. Drop your weapons and let one of us tie you up. We’ll take you back to town and let them deal with you.”

The tall one snorted, “We know you ain’t working for or from the city guard so who ya workin’ for kids?”

Jory cocked his head to the side slightly, "Now why would you think we are not hired by the city?’

The fat guy snorted and let out a loud fart at the same time, “Cause word’s out round hear kiddo. Someone pretty high up ain’t lettin’ town patrols go more than a single league out of town in the direction of Everone. It be well know at least some of the town council wants people like us out here keeping those fleeing the fighting from getting there.”

Lyrod looked totally sacred and confused, “Why?”

The older guy pulled a boot knife and used it to pick some dirt from under his fingernails on his left hand. “Why look there hun, trembly knee can speak.” He laughed sending some spit into the air. “Cause it costs lots a money to help all these peasent folk. Ya gots to feed em, set up camps for em, and protect em, and what does the town get?”

The older woman could see none of the three in front of her were really understood what they were hearing so she took a step forward while motioning for the others to continue to spread out and try to surround the smaller group. “The town don’t get a thing for their efforts other than having extra crime from poor desperate folk. It be far better for the rich up there to have us kill off the weak and poor and take what little they have so the town don’t have to feed em, protect em, and take up land better used for farm fields or outdoor markets.”

The fat once spoke again, now well off to Jory’s left side. “So, see, even if ya manage to get us to town, you ain’t gunna be no heroes. No sir, more likely than not someone will find a way to cut your throats for messing with their plans.”

Jory frowned deeply, “Something tells me the merchant who hired us to cut down on the bandits will not be at all happy to hear about this. He is pretty powerful and rich.”

One of the younger ones smirked as he moved forward. “Oh fancy boys work for a rich guy, well why don’t you three run back to your rich merchant and tell him.”

Pulon had heard about enough. He rested his hand on the throwing dagger on his left hip, “Which one a you is gunna go with us so we has proof?” He pointed at the kid who just spoke up, “We’d be happy ta take him and let the rest a you go.”

The tall one’s shoulders slumped a bit, “Kid, ain’t you been payin’ attention none? We now have you surrounded and we is giving you a chance to leave. Get goin’ already!”

“Screw this!” Jory suddenly blurted out as he rolled to the side of the woman and uncoiled his barb. The spiked tip of the Sect Warrior weapon made a hissing sound as if sailed through the air. Before any of the six bandits could react, the tip sank into her left thigh. Even as Jory pulled back and readied for another strike the woman went down holding her leg screaming.

Pulon’s first throwing dagger found its mark only moments later as the tall guy leapt forward to swing on Jory. The dagger suck into the man’s forearm and the tip poked out the far side. The guy bellowed in pain, but showed a surprising degree of toughness as he yanked the blade out of his arm and tossed it to the ground, “Yer blood’s gunna flow boy!”

Jory’s barb lanced out a second time at the woman, this time catching her in the face. As he yanked back the woman’s left eye flew off the sharp tip and splattered against a nearby tree. “Stay with your assigned targets!”

Pulon dodged a sword swing as he pulled out his own short sword. He waited for the fat guy to move toward him before pointing to the guy and yelling out “Pouncer, attack!”

The fat guy managed only a single step forward before a huge brown and black fur covered blur leapt out of the bushes and landed on the guy’s back. The guy staggered to the side as the weight of the giant raccoon almost knocked him off his feet. Claws dug into the guy’s shoulders while teeth gouged deeply into the upper edge of the collar bone. He spun screaming and trying to get to the creature, but his fat arms prevented him from even getting his hands on it.

Jory ignored the woman and cut off the older guy from helping the fat man, his barb whistled and snapped only air but it was enough to back the guy off. His eyes narrowed as he saw the two younger ones trying to circle to get behind the fat guy to help him. “Damn-it Lyrod, cut those two kids off before they can get to Pulon’s pet!”

Pulon gritted his teeth as he parried a sword thrust, “If Pouncer gets hurt cause a you, I’ll kill you!”

Lyrod suddenly noticed the older of the two, a kid about his own age, was getting close to the giant raccoon. He clenched his fist and jumped between the kid and the now wildly spinning and screaming fat man pleading for anyone or anything to help get the vicious beast off him.

The kid flipped the dagger between his left and right hand with practiced ease, “Me be guilded too shaky knees.”

Anger flared in Lyrod as the kid mocked him. Suddenly he sprang forward and knocked the dagger out of the air with his gauntleted right hand as the kid continued to toss it between hands. Before the surprised lad could figure out what to do, Lyrod’s left fist covered with a spiked gauntlet crashed into the kid’s jaw. Blood and teeth exploded out of the kid’s open mouth. Totally dazed the boy staggered backwards only to get a nasty shot to his gut from Lyrod’s right hand.

Lyrod felt the spikes sink in. Still trembling in fear and anger he pushed his fist in a bit deeper and twisted before yanking it out. Four jagged puncture wounds poured blood from the kid’s stomach area as he fell crying only a couple of meters from where they had rolled the dead girl down the hill. Lyrod clenched his fist as he stepped forward, but a slice to his left arm took his attention away from the kid he was getting ready to finish off.

Blood trickled down his arm as he turned to face the younger boy who held his dagger at the ready but now looked way more terrified than Lyrod had just a few seconds earlier. Much to Lyrod’s credit he noticed this so he side stepped the kid. Before the younger one could react Lyrod delivered a boot to the older boy’s face sending him flipping down the hill. They boy’s screaming stopped before the crashing sounds did.

The younger one tried to lunge but Lyrod spun out of the way and pulled his morning star off his belt as he did so and smacked the weapon into his right hand menacingly. Even though the kid he was facing had not been so much as nicked yet he started to cry.

Jory rolled at the old guy, letting the man’s staff pass harmlessly over his head. Once he got close enough, he did a leg sweep, knocking the guy on his butt then rolled over to the still shrieking woman. He pulled his dagger and drug it across her neck silencing her for good. He glanced over to Lyrod, “Much better. See if you can take him in one piece more or less.” He wiped the blade on the dead woman’s leather armor pants and resheathed it. His focus now turned squarely to the older man.

Pulon once again blocked a sword swing from the tall guy with a grunt. He took a step back and jumped to his side to avoid yet another quick jab attempt. “Just knock him out and give me a hand er somethin’, this bastard is good!”

Jory’s barb whistled though the air again. A howl of pain rewarded him as the tip embedded into the older guy’s ankle just as he tried to stand. As the guy fell again Jory shouted, “Lyrod, I’ll take the kid help Pulon!”

Above Klent nodded as he watched the fight. “Way better than I expected so far.”

“Yea, but our animal handler gots his hands full with Mr. Skinny.”

“So it seems. He’s certainly better than our boy but it is basically down to three on three. There is no way the fat guy is getting away from his pet. Just relax, cause Jory will give him a hand quicker than you expect.”

Lidevar switched his attention to the fat guy who was now down on his knees still trying to grab any part of the furry beast firmly attached to his back. The guy bled from over a dozen bites on his shoulders, arms and neck and he had yet to dislodge its claws from his upper back. So exhausted was the man, he had stopped yelling for help and now just thrashed back and forth in a futile attempt to dislodge the creature. “Wow, I don’t think a saber cat could do no better.”

“Nope and the cat would have run me an extra 50 silver. I’m glad the boy agreed to the coon.”

Below, Jory angled away from the old man so he could get closer to the kid. This in turn freed up Lyrod who moved up and swung at the skinny guy with his morning star, but this swing was easily blocked by the man who quickly used the opening it created. He lashed out with a foot and knocked Lyrod back into the brush.

Lyrod landed with a hard thud but jumped back up shook his head to clear it, “Damn, he’s fast!”

Pulon used the distraction to step back and wipe at a bloody scratch left by the man’s blade, “Yea, tell me about it.”

The man advanced and once again Pulon felt his arms absorb some of the shock as his blade met the man’s swing. Pain flashed in his eyes as he once again was forced to take a step back, “After you fall I’m going to gut yer pet and sell its fur.”

Lyrod rushed forward but once again his swing was blocked and he hit the ground hard when a well placed elbow smashed into his chest. He had to roll as the elbow was followed up with a sword swing which narrowly missed his right foot.

“Nothing like sparing practice.” The guy joked, not looking even slightly winded.

“You know my friend’s pet will be done with your buddy shortly and it will be three on one, right?” Lyrod asked as he winced at the pain of taking a few deep breaths.

“First off, he ain’t my friend. He was the one paying us to kill off folks fleeing the fighting. Second, I think he just may hold out long enough for me to drop one of you.”

“You was bein’ paid to kill these people?”

The man laughed at Pulon, “Of course we are! You don’t think someone with my skill would be out here just for this kind of pathetic loot do you? Someone in the town pays 3 copper a head for adults and 1 for youngan’s as long as they are clearly poor and unskilled. He is…” the man looked over and shrugged as he saw the fat man finally fall face down in the dirt, the raccoon still biting at the back of his neck, “well he was the one who verified the count. You all just cost me 7 copper.”

Not far away the old man stood, limping badly, “Yea, so best stay away from me grand boy and lets us all go before the town sends people to get ya fer killing one of their own!”

Jory snorted, “Someone would have to tell them who it was and you ain’t going to live to be the one to do so.”

The old guy stepped forward with his staff. Once again the barb hissed as it snaked through the air in the man’s direction. This time however he went for a block, but found the young man in front of him was more than ready for the move.

Jory gave a slight jerk causing the long whip to coil around the wooden weapon. Then, with a practiced yank back, he pulled the staff out of the man’s hands. With his free hand he secured the weapon out of mid air and did a sharp backhand swing. The younger boy barely managed to flinch before the thick wood smashed over the back of his neck and shoulders. The kid fell face first into the rocky ground, his dagger slipped from his grasp and bounced down the hill.

Jory did a quick wrist twist to fully free staff from his barb and tossed it back to the old man. “It just wouldn’t be right for me to kill you without a weapon in your hand.”

They man’s eyes went wide as he caught the staff. “I’ll take the boy and go. Us no say nothing!”

“Nope.” Jory took a moment to glance out of the corner of his eye. The younger boy had managed to get up to his hands and knees but was shaking like a leaf and bawling. Blood leaked out from his mouth from spots where his teeth had ripped open his lips when his face met the ground. “I’ll let you go, but he stays with us. Like my friend said, we need someone to tell our boss what is going on out here.” Jory’s lips twisted slightly upward in a truly mean grin, “Besides, he is cute enough to provide some entertainment to some friends of mine.”

The man bellowed in rage. Momentarily forgetting about the pain in his foot, he charged. Jory once again ducked under the poor combat swing, pulled his dagger again and spun to his left. As he did so, he plunged the blade into the man’s chest all the way to the hilt. He let go leaving it firmly embedded and finished his spin. The bard hissed yet again, this time coiling around the mortally wounded man’s neck.

Jory stood and jerked as hard as he could. There was an audible snapping sound as the man’s neck broke. He quickly secured the staff, but had to yank hard to pull it out of the dead man’s grasp. Without a second though he smacked it over the kid’s shoulders again knocking him face first into the ground a second time. “Don’t try to get up again!”

Jory didn’t bother to look to see if the kid would obey or not. Instead he tossed the staff well off to the side and advanced on the tall guy noticing for the first time both Pulon and Lyrod were bleeding, “Three against once now dirtball.” Jory grinned as a spurt of blood erupted out of the fat guy’s mouth and the raccoon finally let go, “Oh excuse me. Make it four to one.”

The guy reacted well as he quickly put a tree to his back. “I’ll take down at least one of you brats first.”

Jory lightly shook his head as he spoke a quick arcane phrase and intertwined his fingers. Suddenly reddish brown glowing vines erupted out of the ground, surrounded the guy and held him to the tree. “Maybe if one of us wasn’t a spell thrower, but I am.”

The guy’s eyes become wild as he first tired to pull at the vines then started to cut at them with his barely free weapon hand.

Lyrod moved up and smacked the blade out of the man’s hand breaking a couple of fingers as he did so. “Do you really think we are stupid enough to let you cut yourself free?”

Muscles bulged on the slender frame of the man as he struggled to break free, “What do you want?”

Jory glanced down the hill. When he turned to stare at the man, his face showed his anger “I want to be able to give a dad his daughter… Alive.”

The man shook his head wildly, “I can’t do that and you know it! There has to be something…”

Pulon shrugged and looked over to Jory, “He ain’t much different then me er Lyrod. We took the same type a deal not too long ago.”

Jory took a deep breath and looked over to Lyrod, “What’s your vote?”

“Pulon’s right. We should have been dead, but got lucky. I’ve changed my ways maybe he will too.”

Jory sighed and nodded slightly, “Fine.” He looked at Lyrod with a bit of annoyance. “Go tie up the kid before he gets a brave streak and tries to run. I don’t want to have to chase him.”

Jory then turned his attention back to the man. “OK, my friends here just gave you a huge break, but you’ll do exactly what I tell you when I release you or you die.”

The guy eagerly nodded “Name it kid!”

“First you will strip to your loincloth, then gather up all the bodies still up here and burn them. All coin and weapons you will put into one of those sacks and give to us. Finally you will tell us how you get paid so I can tell our patron as much as possible.”

A bit of fear crept into the man’s voice “Yer gunna leave me out here in the cold with no clothing or weapons?”

Jory shook his head, “No, you can have the clothing you had the kids take off the dead men and somewhere down the hill you tossed the girl’s body down is a dagger he dropped.” Jory pointed to the younger kid who was giving token resistance to Lyrod’s attempt to tie his hands. “Pulon go help him. I can handle this guy.”

The guy watched Pulon walk over and kick the smaller kid in the ribs ending his struggles once and for all. “What are you going to do with him?”

“Whatever we want. You got a problem with it?”

The guy bit his lip then slowly shook his head. “No, you does what ya want. It’s just the two boys be my nephews.”

“Too bad for you. I ain’t giving him to you and if you ever try to get him back I’ll kill you.”

“Alright, fine.” The man stated with defeat in his voice, “I’ll do what you want.”

Jory secured the guy’s short sword, dagger, and boot knife before snapping his fingers dropping the restraint spell. The guy dropped to his knees and gritted his teeth while he straightened his broken fingers.

Jory glanced down the hill again, “There is a better than even chance the other kid is alive and I noticed he had a boot knife, so even if he ain’t you can get it. With any luck you and him can take care of each other once you deal with of what I want up here. To be honest I really don’t care none.”

Lidevar shook his head and whistled softly as he heard Jory talk to the guy, “Damn Klent I though him be a sweet kid.”

“Sweet tasting, but it ends there.” Klent stood, “He has had a rough life and when it comes out it ain’t pretty. Don’t forget it, and when you see him get mad back off and let me or someone like the Shaman who hired us deal with him. Believe it or not he is quite capable of slitting your throat with a smile on his face.”

Garvol came over with a bemused grin, “So your takin’ him in was no charity. He be one a us after all.”

“In some ways he’s worse.” Klent stated cryptically as he quickly made his way down the hill leaving the other three adults looking at each other.

Copyright © 2000-2021 Kyle Aarons; All Rights Reserved.
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Well, Kandric does not seem to have the need for any trappings of royalty.  I wonder if that will be allowed to continue???

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