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The Abnormal Tale of Prince Timothy III

Who's your favorite character  

  1. 1. Who's your favorite character

    • Timothy
    • Gregg
    • Symphonie
    • Zion
    • Odious
    • Hebron
    • Xavier
    • Mallick
    • Other (please elaborate down below)

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So I put out a SU about posting this story this morning and several people said that they wanted to read it so I must summon them! @Maddie The Succulent, @Chinkoln and @Channelknight Fadran. So. . .  Have the story.

There's a bit of graphic violence in the battle scenes if you're somehow a Sanderfan and adverse to people getting stabbed or sliced or slammed around.

Also, The Shard can't seem deal with more than a few chapters at a time, so the rest will be coming soonish.

Credit to my sister and the other two of you who helped start this story (if you ever see this, you know who you are).

Potential FAQs


Q: Why is the beginning's world building so bad?

A: Because there was none done before we started writing.

Q: Why was there no world building first?

A: Because it was a Story Circle that I wound writing mostly by myself.

Q: What's a Story Circle?

A: It's when several people take turns writing a story, each one weaving their own ideas into the story (we did the chaotic version of it). It can get so much worse than this.

Q: What if I've got another question that you didn't answer here?

A: You can reply to ask other questions and I'll answer them the best I can!




What happens to princesses and princes.

(In case you didn’t know)


  If you know anything about princesses, then you know that there are only three acceptable paths for an honorable princess. The most common option is for her to be married off to a nearby kingdom to strengthen their alliance. 

  The second most common is for the princess to be cursed, afflicted with some terrible condition that renders her useless until someone (usually a prince) breaks the spell. 

  The third and final option, and this is usually not a voluntary choice, is to be a dragon’s princess. Stolen away from her home by a dragon, and brought back to their lair to cook and clean and do whatever the dragon asks of her. This goes on until, of course, a brave knight or prince comes and rescues her. 

  You might think that the princesses have a rough life, but what no one ever considers is that an honorable prince only has one path, otherwise he is seen as a disgrace to his kingdom... 

Chapter One


Chapter 1

An almost textbook happily ever after. 

(This is the way the story is supposed to end)


  Prince Timothy III was your average prince. He had blue eyes and brown hair and was raised to be charming, handsome, daring and brave. He always assumed he'd be the one to rescue a princess and live your typical happily ever after ending. But Timothy always felt off about the idea of rescuing a fair maiden and then tying the knot straight away.


  He's seen his fair share of lovely ladies around the kingdom, no doubt about it. But even then none of them really caught his eye. Except for Zion. The way her long golden locks draped over her delicate frame was a sight not many would dare miss. Golden eyes rivaling the sun itself; teeth so white they could blind a man. Not to mention her attire. 

  She was no noble, that is for sure, though her beauty would make one believe she was. Timothy knew otherwise. He had met her father, who was a wealthy merchant named Händler who lived near the castle but often traveled out to the outlying villages and other nearby cities. Prince Timothy had inquired to his father, King Xavier, about marrying her. The king gave his go-ahead, so Timothy went to Zion’s father to ask for his approval. Händler responded that he had recently promised her hand in marriage to the son of a blacksmith as part of a deal he had struck with the blacksmith. “Once ‘e finishes ‘is ‘prenticeship to ‘is father, ‘e will marry moi daughter,” Händler said. Then, with a sympathetic look on his face he said. “Oi’m right sorry. It would ‘ave been nice to be the father of the future queen.” Then he half laughed, half sighed as he said. “But a deal is a deal. If it makes yah feel any better, ‘e is the son of the best blacksmith in the kingdom, and Oi got an exclusive deal for ‘is father’s wares.” 

  That had been six years ago. 

  Since then, Prince Timothy had tried to marry numerous other girls, but they all were either deemed ineligible by the king or married off to other men. Even the princess from a nearby kingdom that his father was about to open negotiations for was married off to another prince in another kingdom. Prince Timothy’s best friend, Greggory, had once joked that no woman wanted to marry Timothy. Timothy knew this to not be true. He had met many women who had expressed an interest in marrying him; he just felt no attraction towards them. Timothy gave up on finding a woman who he loved, so when King Xavier told him that he had found a suitable wife, he just shrugged, stating that he didn’t think he’d love her.

  When he told Greggory of this arrangement, Greggory said, “Tim, it’s about time you got married. You’re already twenty-three, it’s time to get a wife.”

  Timothy responded, “Gregg, it’s not that I don’t agree with you, I'm just afraid that I won’t like her.” Greggory, being a herald’s son, asked if he knew what her name was. 

  Timothy said, “Symphonie, daughter of Edel, a minor noble in one of our neighboring kingdoms.”

  Gregg replied, “Ah, I’ve heard of her. She is said to be eternally happy and quite intelligent. When will she arrive?”  

  “Tomorrow afternoon,” Timothy stated. “I suppose that I should try to bake her something, shouldn't I?” Six years is a long time to have practically nothing to do, so Timothy had tried his hand at most jobs (that weren’t cleaning) in the palace, and had shown quite the aptitude for baking. He had rather enjoyed it as well.

  “Perhaps you should, but it might be kind of unseemly to immediately give her something that a servant normally would make, saying that you were the one who made it.” said Gregg.

  “Well, I wouldn’t tell her that I made it,” Timothy said with a raised eyebrow. “I would just let her eat it and then ask her what she thought of it.”

  “Would the said baked goods contain a live bird or something else funny?” Gregg asked with a mischievous grin.

  “No, Gregg,” said Timothy, rolling his eyes and walking away. “I guess that I won’t make her anything, because of that idea.”

  “No, wait!” Gregg yelled after Timothy. He ran to catch up. “I think it’d be a great idea to bake her something, just not immediately.” Timothy tried to outpace Gregg, but Gregg was taller and caught him quickly. “I mean, you kind of have to tell her that you like to bake some, right? Otherwise, in, like, twenty years, you’ll say something about going to go bake something and she’ll be like ‘whaaaaaaaaat’ and you’ll be like ‘Oh, I told you that I like to bake, didn’t I?’ and she’ll be li-”

  “All right, you’ve made your point,” Timothy said, sighing and slowing his pace. “I’ll tell her sometime in the next three weeks, our wedding at the latest.”

  “That probably is a wise plan. Maybe even make your wedding present be some baked goods to her and her family. Say, what time is it?” Gregg asked.

  Timothy looked at the sundial in the courtyard next to them and asked, “Didn’t you ever learn to read a sundial?”

  “Yes, but you seem to know more than I ever could, even if I tried,” Gregg said.

  Timothy sighed and said, “About five hours after noon.”

  “Blood moons and Skaiha’s hellfire!” Gregg swore. “I was supposed to meet with my wife almost an hour ago. See you tomorrow, Tim, old boy.”

  Timothy watched his tall, strong and clumsy redheaded friend speed away to meet with his wife with a smile, then headed to his quarters for the night. On his way, he considered what the next day would hold and what his future wife would be like. But mostly he wondered if he could ever love Symphonie.



  The next day, when Timothy woke up, breakfast was waiting for him outside his room. He ate slowly to take more time before he had to leave his rooms, then, after he ate, he carefully chose his outfit for the day. In the end, he chose tan dress trousers and a beautiful blue and brown shirt that came down to his mid-thighs and had the royal crest on the chest area. 

  It was after noon when he finally came out of his room. Timothy looked at the sundial near him and saw that there were only two hours until Symphonie would arrive. He decided that he would head to the kitchens. On the way, he met Lucas Wachter, the captain of the castle guard. Wachter smirked as he saw Timothy coming and called out, “Looking all fancy today, aren’t you, your highness.”

  Timothy smiled and said back, “Well, my future wife is arriving today, so I’m trying to look my best.” Wachter laughed and slapped Timothy on the back as he walked past. 

  In the kitchens, Timothy headed straight to the baker’s section. There he met with Tobias Brackern, the head baker, and asked, “Is there anything that I can help with?” 

  “Not in that fancy getup, yee won’t,” Tobias said. “Get a smock and I’ll consider saying yes.”

  Timothy laughed and got a smock, then began helping with whatever the head baker told him to do. After an hour and a half of hearty smells and satisfying work, Timothy said, “I should go freshen up. My bride-to-be is arriving soon.” 

  “Okay,” Tobias said. “Good luck.”

  “I won’t need it, but thank you anyway!” Timothy said, laughing. He then left the kitchens in high spirits and headed to his rooms to wash up, excited despite his worries. Fifteen minutes later, he exited his rooms and went to the front steps of the palace to wait.

   A few minutes later, Gregg sidled up and spoke, “I think you’re more nervous than your face is currently showing. Am I right or am I right?”

  “You’re wrong,” Timothy said flatly. “Completely wrong.”

  “Ah, so I’m right, aren’t I? You just don’t want to admit to it. Stupid prince pride, making you think you can lie just to save face.”

  “ ‘A king who shows no fear is a strong king in the eyes of his subjects,’ ” Timothy said. “Just ask my tutors sometime.”

  “Ah, so you just can’t admi-” Gregg began, but was interrupted by a guard yelling, “Carriage approaching, sir!”

  “Excellent!” said King Xavier, walking up to Timothy and Gregg with Gregg’s father, Hermand. “Open the gates!”

  The gates opened at the king’s command, and an elegant carriage rolled through. When the carriage stopped, the coachman hopped down and opened the door. Out stepped a well-dressed woman. She was short, with brown hair, warm brown eyes and a slightly plump build. She looked around and when her eyes landed on Timothy, her whole face lit up. She had quite a smile, though her teeth weren’t as bright as Zion’s had been, but there was something better about it. Something more . . .   genuine.

  She walked up to the group at the top of the stairs and bowed to King Xavier. Gregg had to nudge Timothy to get him to close his mouth. Hermand spoke, ”May I present Lady Symphonie, daughter of Lord Edel.”

  “Greetings, Lady Symphonie. I am King Xavier, your future father-in-law. I hope that I find you well.”

  Symphonie said, “I am well, my king. Excited for my new life in these new halls. And this,” she looked at Timothy, “must be my future husband, Prince Timothy.” 

  “That would be correct.” Timothy said, smiling.

  “Excellent, now may I have a tour of this beautiful castle?” Symphonie asked.

  “Of course,” said Timothy. “Right this way.”




  The next three weeks passed in a blur for Prince Timothy. He spent most of the time with Symphonie, getting to know her and telling her about himself and his life in the castle. She thought it was cute that he loved to bake and also loved what he baked for her. He loved her company and the joy she seemed to radiate around her. He finally allowed himself to hope that he had a chance for love again.

  Their wedding was tonight. The castle was abuzz with preparations. Timothy was both nervous and excited. Last night, he had gone to see Gregg, who had teased Timothy about spending so much time with Symphonie. Timothy responded, saying, “I would rather know my wife before I marry her.” Gregg had just laughed.

  The ceremony was about to begin as the Skaihan priest standing next to the altar began his speech. Timothy was dressed and ready as he’d ever be. Everyone in the castle was busy watching or running the ceremony, so no one noticed the dragon winging its way towards the palace.

  The massive red beast swooped down into the courtyard, landing smack in the middle of the proceedings, and looked around. It had a greedy glint in its eyes as it looked around at the gathered crowd. The guards leapt into action, surrounding the beast as the crowd scattered. The people were running and screaming, and the guards were stabbing at the beast and shouting war cries. However the beast was completely unfazed by the men. 

  Most people would expect such a creature to mindlessly destroy everything in its path. But this assumption underestimates the wisdom and knowledge that dragons possess. Not to mention even more secrets that lie beneath the surface.

  The dragon scanned the area, clearly looking for something in particular. As the crowd began to notice this, only one thought went through their minds, one that had been drilled in by hundreds of stories and tales. 

  “PROTECT THE BRIDE!” somebody yelled in the distance. Guards instantly began huddling around Symphonie, trying to usher her and both families to safety in the castle. Yet Timothy did not join them. Filled with foolhardy pride for his honor and desire not to look a fool to his future wife, he rushed into battle against the dragon. 

  “You will not ruin this day! Not for Symphonie! Not for this kingdom! AND NOT FOR ME!” he screamed as he charged towards the battle. How horrible of a decision this was. 

  By Timothy making his location known, the beast had found what it was searching for. With a stretch of its neck, it carefully yet firmly grabbed Timothy in its mouth. The screams of horror echoed throughout the land, as the wedding crasher spread its wings and began to take flight, heading eastward. 

  In the stories, usually the princess is captured and swooped away against her will. What does it mean when it happens to a prince?

Chapter Two (very slight adult reference)


Chapter 2

A change in perspective.

(The cliché story gets a little complicated)


  A couple of hours passed as the beast soared through the skies. For Timothy, it felt like an eternity inside the monster's mouth. A million thoughts went through his mind during this time. Why hasn’t the beast consumed me yet? Where is it taking me? This makes no sense, I've never done anything to cause this much of a ruckus. Why me? Why on my wedding day? Then the thoughts got even more gruesome and detailed.

  What if this is a trap? What if this monster is trying to draw the kingdom into chaos? What if it’s bringing me to trolls for a price? What if the trolls eat me? Or worse, what if they heard about my search for a wife all these years and want me to marry one of their own? The stories of princes with an active imagination almost never ended well, as Timothy recalled, so he told those thoughts to stop. Though thoughts of his friends and family seemed far out of reach for Timothy, he tried to think of these beloved people and stop pitying himself. It was hard and didn’t really work, unfortunately. 

  Before his thoughts could get any more creative, there was a thump and a clack-clack-clack of claws as the dragon landed. A bright light blinded Timothy. The dragon had opened its mouth close to the ground. Timothy considered his options, which were only two, really: stay in the mouth or get out. The easy option for most would be to get out of the dragon’s mouth, but Timothy was exhausted. Then a giant tongue nudged Timothy onto the cold ground. Apparently the dragon was tired of holding his jaw open. 

  Trying to ease his head from the sudden throbbing due to thirst, Timothy slowly pushed himself up into a sitting position on the smooth rock and looked around. 

  He appeared to be near the edge of a cliff overlooking the ocean. However he could not see a thing, for a sudden mist had completely covered his vision. Only the dragon’s eyes gave any light, shining vibrantly like a full moon during a lunar eclipse. As they closed themselves, the fog disappeared with them. Then a flash of bright light struck Timothy. As his eyes adjusted, Timothy considered what had happened and what was supposed to have happened, realizing that a long sleepless night, pondering life and death, had taken the place of his long-awaited wedding.

  The surrounding area was bare, nothing but the wind and the crash of the water below to be seen or heard. It was around dawn, as the sun began to show itself over the horizon and only three moons were visible. Ishcari, the moon of luck and protection, had already set, as had Skaihalin, the moon of beauty and life. In their place was Aichivarn, the moon of folly and ruin. 

  As Timothy looked around, he realized that the beast was nowhere to be seen. Instead a tanned and distinguished man stood directly in front of him. He appeared to be a fair bit older than Timothy, with a boulder-like build, covered in cuts. Fine crimson hair ended at the nape of his neck, with animal-like teeth that decorated the toothy sneer he wore, with a large red beard surrounding his mouth. Nothing but confusion and tiredness clouded Timothy's mind at this point, but before any thought could form, one thing stood out. This was not a man to mess with. 

  Staring at the most haunting and familiar blood-red eyes he’d ever seen, Timothy struggled to slowly raise his hand with a finger pointing at the man, rasping, “Why?”

  The man’s sneer widened. “Because. You didn’t think that after all the work I’ve done, I’d just let you marry someone that easily?”

  Timothy’s confusion grew deeper. “Who are you? What are you talking about?”

  "Come on, you can’t be this stupid,” the man said, his sneer somehow widening even more. “Did you think there wasn’t a reason that you could never marry anyone? Did you really think that you were just unlucky? I have been interfering with your life since you first met Zion. I am the reason you were unable to properly act on any of your many love interests. As for my name, if you really don’t know it, I am called Odious, Wizard-King of the Veri Kingdom.”

  “Great Skaiha,” Timothy gasped. The Veri, or Blood Kingdom was the most violent and warlike of all the kingdoms surrounding Timothy’s father’s kingdom, the Ruhe Kingdom.

  “Ah, I see you do know me, or at least my name,” Odious said contemptuously. “Perhaps now that you know my name, you can see why I don’t want you to get married.”

  Timothy thought for a moment, then said. “Because you don’t want any heirs to the throne of my father’s kingdom when he dies. With me stolen and having no other children, Father has no one to pass the throne to. And as the Myrsky and the Ruhe kingdoms are the only kingdoms capable of standing up to your army, you wanted to remove the threat of the Ruhe before any war. Is that correct?”

  “Yes, it is, and it has proven harder to stop you from marrying then it should be,” Odious growled. “I only heard that your wedding was planned for the evening yesterday morning. You’re lucky that I got to you before today, or I would have had to kidnap and probably kill your almost-wife.”  

  “I don’t know if lucky is a word that I would use for this situation,” Timothy said, grinding his teeth. “What are you going to do to me?”

  “Send you off to one of my dragon’s lairs, probably Gahamarah. She needs a new slave to polish her treasure anyway,” Odious said, stroking his beard. “I think I’ll take you there now, so you don’t have any chance to escape.” 

  There was a bright flash of light accompanied by a roar that deafened Timothy. Suddenly he was being carried away by a dragon, which he now realized was Odious. The crimson color of its scales matched his hair precisely, and the dragon had the same sneer as him.

  As they flew across the Shattered Sea, Timothy wondered where Odious would be taking him and when, if ever, would he be able to escape. As these contemplations passed through his head, Timothy scanned the horizon for any sign of land. Maybe he‘ll just dump me in the sea, and get all of this over already, Timothy thought despondently.

  But soon an island appeared in the distance. It was a massive mountain covered with spiky pillars of rocks reaching as if to claw the skies. Timothy recognized the island but couldn’t remember a name. He thought hard about the name and came up with nothing, save something about dread, maybe? 

  When they landed, Odious transformed back to his human shape and said, “Starblade Island, or Angst-Kløer. Your new home, quite possibly forever.” They walked up the mountain for a while until they came upon a cave entrance. The wicked man turned to Timothy and sneered, saying, “This is the start of a new life for you. Once you walk down this tunnel, you belong to Gahamarah, Queen of the Dragons. You will do as she says, or you will die.”

  Timothy hesitated. “Do I have a choice?”

  “No,” responded Odious. “You don’t.” He then drew his battle-axe from its sheath and put it to Timothy’s back. “In you go,” he said, sneering again.

  Timothy signed and began down the tunnel, which was oddly perfect arch-shape. Soon the twists and turns of the tunnel opened up into a large cavern filled to the brim with treasure and other things such as suits of armor and banners. And in the center . . .  a large shape stirred. That must be Gahamarah, Timothy thought.

  A huge dark green head moved into the light. You would be correct, little human. Oh, I sure hope you aren’t as pathetic as my last man-servant. You don’t look like you are, but looks can be deceiving.

  Odious whispered to Timothy. “She talks into your head. Get used to it. You’ll be here a long time,” then he bowed low, so Timothy followed.

  Odious, you should know you don’t need to bow to me, my king. Who is this man you have brought with you?

  "I find that it is best to be safe, Queen of Dragons,” Odious replied. “This is Prince Timothy III, your new servant.” 

  Oh, fancy. I hope he is more useful than the last one. He was so lazy, Prince Timothy III, that I ATE him! But do your work, and you should be fine, Gahamarah thought to Timothy. So consider yourself warned.

  Timothy gulped in fear. He didn’t want to think about it, but he definitely felt scared and worried about his new life in these unfamiliar stone halls.

Chapter Three


Chapter 3

The quest for Prince Timothy.

(Abnormal circumstances require abnormal solutions)   



  The morning after Prince Timothy III was kidnapped, the kingdom of Ruhe was in panic. The only heir to the throne was now gone, with no hint to where he could have been taken. Within the castle, commotion between parties stirred and boiled over with fighting and screaming about what to do.


  “What are we going to do to get Tim back? We can’t just leave him to die! We must save him!” Greggory’s voice echoed throughout the great hall. 

  “We have more important things to worry about,” an adviser to the king stated. “When other kingdoms find out we are without an heir, they will think that we are vulnerable. We must stand strong and demonstrate power.”

  “We will retrieve the prince! Give us the word, Your Highness, and the royal guard will make that bastard regret ever spreading its wings on our land!” Captain Wachter stated. 

  “You fool! If the whole kingdom’s defense is off chasing the prince, who is going to protect the rest of the kingdom?” another adviser retorted. 

  “That's exactly why we need to get Timothy back! We have an army! Why can’t you see that, you bunch of geezers!” Gregg argued back, even more fiery. He had taken this very hard, though nobody was more devastating than King Xavier.

  When Xavier had named his son, he had hoped his brother’s spirit would be able to live on through him. All he ever wanted was for Timothy to live a good, long life and to be happy, prosperous and safe. Now only clouded thoughts of having potentially cursed his son with a dead man's name guilted him into silence. 

  “We will get him back!” a timid voice claimed, shifting everyone's attention to the doorway, where two women, one in a long cloak and the other in bright armor stood in the doorway. Even with her short stature, Symphonie stood, head high, making her presence known and grand, with strands of brown hair laid on her face, her cloak curling down around her feet. 

  Another woman, petite as could be and clad in bright armor, stood next to her. Zion, Gregg realized. Two french braids of golden hair draped her shoulders, making her pointy ears visible for the crowd to see. I guess she’s an Elf, Gregg thought. 

  As the warriors began their walk up to the throne, a group of men followed. All were dressed in a viking-like style, clad with weapons made by a local blacksmith, who walked proudly behind his wife. Once they reached where Xavier sat, they bowed low.

  “We might not be many, but we are willing to fight and bring Prince Timothy III home,” Symphonie stated with her head slightly raised. Her voice was shaking, but confidence filled her words nonetheless. 

   “Phht, please. If you think the king is going to let a bunch of inexperienced civilians retrieve his son, you are sorely mistaken!” Captain Wachter started with a chuckle. “What part of ‘you cannot leave the castle without its elite guard’ are you not understanding, you simple-minded git!”

  The advisers were getting a headache from Wächter’s ignorance at this point. 

  With a hand in the air, King Xavier silenced the whole room. He looked at the two women with a sparkle of hope in his eyes, “My dear, you have only been in our kingdom for less than a month, yet here you are. Offering to sacrifice your life to bring your fiancé home. These people both trust and follow you in your leadership to the point where they are willing to do the same.”

  He turned his head ever so slightly towards Zion and continued, “As for you, Timothy himself chased you for your heart, yet sadly you were already betrothed. But here you are, with your husband, both offering to go on a treacherous journey to bring home my son.” 

  King Xavier stood up, and walked down off his throne, raising both arms up and out, “My people! I believe my advisers make a compelling enough argument to sway me. For the protection of our kingdom, I order the royal guard to stay here and protect us, in case another event similar to what happened last night once again occurs. I humbly accept this offer given to me, and grant Lady Symphonie, Lady Zion and Sir Kai with whatever they may need for this quest. I grant them noble steeds and all the supplies they need.”

  Zion looked around the hall and said, “We will make for my homeland tomorrow at dawn. Anyone who wants to accompany us may.”

  The hall filled with a round of applause and cheers, as the people congratulated the soon-to-be heroes and wished them safe travels. Running up to Symphonie and grabbing her by the arm, Gregg fell to his knees and pleaded, “Take me with you!!!” he cried as tears streamed down his face.

  “You need not to beg, dear Greggory. I’d have it no other way than for you to join us!” Symphonie declared.

  “Yeah, but can you even fight, sissy boy? We wouldn’t want to get those pretty pantalones all dirty,” Kai said with a quirked eyebrow. It was hard to tell if Kai was messing with Gregg or being serious.

  Standing back up, Gregg wiped his face clean and straightened out his outfit, setting his jaw, “I’ll have you know, good sir, that Timothy and I practiced with swords and many other arms constantly before Symphonie arrived.” Gregg looked Kai straight in the eye and said firmly, “Let me go change, and pack some things and tell my wife, then I’ll be ready to leave.”

  “Of course, Greggory, but we don’t leave until tomorrow, at sun-up like Zion said,” Symphonie responded. “Just be ready by then, okay?” 

  “Okay,” Gregg said with a relieved smile.




  At dawn, the small group set out from Castle Ruhe with the generous provisions which King Xavier had promised and a few strong horses to carry said provisions, along with the weaker members of the party. Wachter finally backed down when the king ordered him to remain at the keep, though he did convince King Xavier to let him send a squad of ten men to guard them. 

  The squad’s leader was named Mallick, a tall and strongly built young man with dirty blond hair and sharp brown eyes. He had a confident way of holding himself. Instead of walking like a normal human, Gregg thought, he prowls like an animal stalking its prey. 

  The rest of the squad could have been brothers for how much they looked alike, all of them were brown haired and brown eyed with square jaws and powerful builds. Curious, Gregg thought, and sidled up to Mallick, cleared his throat, and asked, “Are they all brothers, or do they all just look exactly the same for no reason?”

  Mallick smirked as he said, “They’re all cousins, not brothers, so there’s a reason, Gregg. My squad was picked because they work very well together; they were raised together, so they can more efficiently scout and protect because of their life-long experience with each other.”

  “Oh, great! I guess that their being cousins and working well with each other will allow them to protect us untrained weaklings just fine,” Gregg said. “I mean, there are a decent number of us, but none of us are really trained soldiers. Me and Kai and his strange friends don’t count, by the way.”

  “I figured that the blacksmith and his friends weren’t, but why did you add yourself? And what about Lady Zion?” Mallick asked.

  “Well, I practiced weapons-play with Timothy frequently, and as for Zion, I have no idea,” Gregg said. “Elves are very strange in many ways, so she may be a warrior. She doesn’t move like a true warrior, though, like you do.” 

  “But then how did she get that form-fitting armor?” Mallick responded.

  “I can’t really say. I know some things about Elven culture, but not much,” Gregg said. “I once heard from my father that all royal Elves, when they come of age, get a suit of personal armor.”

  Mallick just grunted.

  “Then perhaps, if that is true, she does know how to fight,” Gregg decided. “Somewhat, at least.”

  “And that may be an asset,” Mallick said over his shoulder, walking away.

  Gregg sighed. That hadn't gone well. Soldiers didn’t like talking, apparently. Or, at least, that one didn’t like talking to Gregg. On that point, Gregg thought, most people don’t.




  Prince Timothy III was getting used to being Gahamarah’s servant after just a few days of work. It wasn’t terribly hard. He just had to polish her treasure up to her standards, which meant everything needed to be perfectly shiny and glittering. Gahamarah had a lot of treasure, and her last servant had been “eaten” a long time ago, so Timothy had a ton of work to do. Gahamarah had explained to him that the last servant had not actually been eaten, but was still alive and farming fruits and vegetables for her. His name was Zale Arlan, the son of a Veri farmer who had angered Odious. 

  After he’d finished his work one day, Timothy discovered that Zale was an amiable young man who lived in Gahamarah’s deep caverns. Timothy had decided to go exploring the city until he felt tired enough to sleep. He rounded a corner and was shocked to find a massive room filled with farmland: crops sprouting up in neat rows. Sheep bleated and cows mooed from pens by the far wall with pigs rolling in mud and snorting nearby.

  The other man had walked over and said, “Who are you?” 

  They exchanged names and chatted about nothing in particular for a few minutes before Timothy asked, “How long have you been here?”

  Zale responded, “I’ve been on the island for a good five years, but I’ve only been down here farming for about two years. It’s long enough to tell that plants grow faster somehow.”

  Timothy asked, “How do the plants grow down there without any light from the sun?”

  Zale responded, “Well, these huge lights that hang from the ceiling provide enough light for the plant to grow. Gahamarah comes down and somehow charges them once a week, and they provide light for the crops to use to grow.”  

  Timothy had far too much time to think during his hours spent cleaning, and Gahamarah provided commentary and answers to some of his questions, which he could ask out loud or think to her.

  During one of these many conversations, Timothy asked about the lights. 

  They are an ancient technology capable of producing light by harnessing a dragon’s Soul Fire, Gahamarah said.

  Timothy thought back, Who were these people that created such powerful machines, but seem to no longer exist? And what’s Soul Fire?

  The people were the Unduthy, the Eternal Ones, in their tongue. They had many great seers who saw the end of their kind approaching. So, they built a great many machines in an attempt to save themselves, Gahamarah said. This island was once the Unduthy city of Ounfarni, meaning The Last Haven, and these caverns were indeed the last haven for the Unduthy, as cataclysm after cataclysm struck the planet and destroyed all life on the surface, except the dragons. This city housed all that remained of the surface life that lived in that era, but also two of my kind to power their machines. This was what, above all, ended the Unduthy. A great dragon council decided to wipe out the Unduthy to save our fellows from the slavery they were facing and finish what was, evidently, Skaiha’s will. In doing so, we marked the end of the Unduthy age.

  Timothy let this stew awhile, then asked, What happened next?

  Humans, Dwarfs, and Elves rose from the ashes of the Unduthy, Gahamarah said. And made their way in this world. When your kind, and the other two, rose, we realized that the world was in an eternal cycle, going on and on forever and we, the dragons, are the keepers of the knowledge from eras past. So, one day, humans will cease to exist on this planet and something new will rise up and take your place. But that day is quite some time away; you need not worry.

  Timothy thought, Gahamarah, why did you tell me this?

  Because, child, you may need to know this during your future quests, Gahamarah answered with a touch of amusement. But you won’t need them now, as you have work to do.

  Timothy got back to work, turning what he had learned over in his head. He settled into a rhythm, working on polishing Gahamarah’s treasure. He was only brought out of this reverie when he came across an unusual looking suit of armor. It was big and didn’t look like a normal suit of armor. It had no gaps for joints, instead having a flexible but durable layer of a strange kind of metal. Even the helm had no eye slits, but had several weird eye-like things positioned around the plating, which was colored grey with orange stripes.

  As Timothy was cleaning the weird armor, he noticed unusual straps holding the back together, instead of holding the front to the back. They were solid, maybe made of some type of metal, and they looked uncomfortable. Who in their right mind would design armor like this? It doesn’t seem practical; maybe it had a different purpose than normal armor? He resolved to ask Gahamarah about it when he was done.

  Timothy stood up and looked around. What he’d polished seemed to be enough for today. He headed out to the kitchens and got some dinner. After he’d finished eating, he headed for the bathroom to shower. Then he went to his room ready to get a good night’s rest. Only once he was about to fall asleep did he realize that Gahamarah hadn’t answered his second question.



  “Great Skaiha above, my legs huuuuuurrt!” Greggory, son of Hermand, complained. It had been two days since the small group had left Keep Ruhe, and had recently reached the Elven Forests. Gregg had walked the entire way, thus far, carrying his pack and damascus-forged axe on his back, and his legs were now expressing their disapproval. 

  “Maybe you should have ridden one of the horses. That was, after all, the entire point of these beasts coming along,” Zion said, her hair flowing behind her in the wind, as her horse trotted up to Gregg.

  Gregg huffed, “All the horses were taken, and I was being a courteous gentleman and not shoving young women off their horses, thank you very much!”

  Zion hid a smile behind a hand and said, “Oh, Greggory. I need to stretch anyway, and it would be unseemly for me to ride into my homeland while others whom are not soldiers or royals walked.”

  Gregg had found out that Zion was indeed Elven royalty in conversation the night before. 

  Gregg nodded. As she dismounted, he asked, “Why should the royals of your land walk instead of riding as human royals do? Isn’t the right of royalty to be served and get better treatment than their lessers?”

  Zion stretched, saying, “In the Elven Forests, we consider true leadership to be like servanthood, but unlike a lesser servant who only serves one master, a king serves all of his subjects. So, tradition dictates that in peacetime and until they are no longer able to walk long distances, royal Elves walk wherever they go,so as to serve the people that are less fortunate than themselves.”

  “So why were you riding instead of walking?” Gregg said as he mounted the horse. He groaned in relief. “Also, why are you living in human lands, instead of in the Amethyst Forests?

  “Because I’m actually only half Elf,” Zion said. “My mother was an elf, a cousin of the king, but Dad is human.” She paused here, then said wryly, “And I’m not a very good royal Elf, in case you had not noticed.” 

  Gregg grinned wickedly, “Maybe us humans have infected you with our selfish and evil ways!” He threw back his head, cackling. The horse chose this moment to start walking, nearly dumping Gregg out of the saddle. He caught his balance, and righted himself in the saddle. He grabbed the reins, gaining slightly more control over the beast, which reared back about three seconds later, sending him flying. 

  As Gregg regained his bearings, he saw a large, armored figure, which had just dropped from the trees, spooking the horse, looming over him. The armor, he saw, was not of human making. It was a very shiny caterpillar green, and the color was not painted. That metal is… green? Gregg thought, confused. The armored figure had drawn a sword of the same color and held it over Gregg‘s chest. 

  “Stay down!” a thickly accented voice said from inside the oddly colored helm, putting the sword right to Gregg’s leather cuirass.

  Gregg scanned the scene, noting that his axe had only fallen a few feet away. Then, looking further, he saw that the party was completely surrounded by warriors in the same armor as the one who stood over him. Mallick and some of the other men were still fighting, though they were hopelessly outnumbered. Mallick himself fought four opponents, ducking and weaving around their blades, striking when possible, but mostly just surviving. Mallick’s remaining men were surrendering and Kai’s friends were overwhelmed by the superior force. The four who were attacking Mallick backed off, leaving him to a huge opponent with light blue stripes on his pauldrons and a very distinctive helm. 

  A few of the armored men yelled, “Get ‘im, Moab!” The man, Moab, Gregg guessed,  hushed them with a wave of his sword.

  Mallick yelled, lunging at his opponent. Moab raised his sword to block the incoming attack. Then Moab attacked, sending blows at Mallick, who deflected them all. They exchanged blow after blow, until Mallick knocked Moab’s blade from his hands. 

  Mallick then swept his longsword around at Moab’s breastplate. Moab put his arm up to block the blow, and the blade bounced off, leaving little more than a scratch. The sword, on the other hand, was completely blunted where it had hit. 

  As Gregg watched, Mallick’s eyes flashed from Moab to his own sword, then they widened. He slammed his sword point first into the dirt, then raised his hands, saying, “A man I can’t hurt is a man I can’t defeat. I surrender.” 

  The men cheered as Moab pulled Mallick’s sword out of the ground and held it over his head. The armored men had gathered most of the party’s weapons. Gregg’s patterned axe was now being admired by the men, who were removing their helmets. They’re all Elves! Gregg realized. It was unmistakable, with their pointy ears, rosy skin and long golden hair. They had lined everyone up and were patting them down.

  Once this process was complete, Moab stepped forward and gestured at Mallick, saying in a strong, deep voice, “I need to speak to you at once.”

  For a moment no one said anything, then Mallick said, frowning, “Why me? I don’t lead this group. That would be Symphonie, Zion and Gregg. I just lead the Guard.” He looked thoroughly confused as he pointed to each of them when he said their names. 

  Moab said, “My mistake. I assumed that the best fighter would be the leader. I guessed wrong, so I ask that you forgive me. Those whose names he spoke, please come with me.” 

  Gregg stepped out of the line with the others and followed Moab to a place out of earshot. The Elven warrior turned and his mask cracked, showing just how angry he was. Then he said in a low and hushed voice, “What are you doing here, humans?” 

  Symphonie responded slowly, “We came to request help in the search for my fiancé, Prince Timothy III, Heir of the Ruhe Kingdom.”

  Moab snorted, “I was under the impression that humans ignored ‘lesser’ species, living alone in the Great Moor while eschewing help and trade from the Elves and Dwarves. Even the Dragons you ignored until one kidnapped your prince. You put yourselves above all others in this world. You steal what you can’t take honestly. You take whatever you want and the effects on nature and others be Crusted. So why do you want our help now?”

  Zion pulled her hair back and showed him her ears, saying, “They have not completely eschewed our help, Highlord Moab. It was me whom Symphonie first approached to ask for help in finding Timothy, and she is one of the few humans that know I have Elven blood. She got my husband and his friends by accident, but she meant only to ask me!”

  Moab waved his hand and said, “Okay, so maybe there are a few good humans. But that doesn’t mean that the past sins of their entire race are forgiven.”

  “No, it does not,” Zion replied, “but, if they have been wrong, shouldn’t you extend the first hand to bring humans up into your way of life?” 

  “I guess,”  Moab said, frowning. “Follow me, then, humans.”

Chapter Four


Chapter 4

Treason and new bonds.

(The Plot and the Plan)



  After a few more days mostly consisting of polishing, Timothy had managed to clean a decent bit of Gahamarah’s hoard. He decided that the small pile he’d accrued that day of clean and shiny treasure was acceptable. He got up and stretched, feeling the satisfying crack of his tired bones and muscles releasing their tension. 

  As he walked through the halls of the caverns, he looked around him, daring to think of escape for a few minutes. There must be several entrances and exits, this is an ancient city, after all. But even if I could manage to sneak out and down the mountain, how could I get off this island if I can’t fly? There’s no way that I could swim, or even sail across those treacherous seas. His musing was interrupted by a man’s voice coming down a side corridor. 

  “Surely you are not serious, my king!” 

  Odious! Timothy thought in alarm. What is he doing here? Why did he come back? Then logic took over his confused and desperate thinking. If he had wanted to kill you, he wouldn’t have brought you here in the first place. Perhaps he brought someone else to be Gahamarah’s servant. Or maybe he’s just here to talk to her. But then, where is she? And who is that voice? 

  He snuck closer, hoping to hear more of the conversation. The man sounded tired, but also desperate, his gravelly voice rising in pitch the longer the conversation went on. 

  “I can’t do that!” 

  A pause.

  “But my king- Yes, of course I trust you, but this is insanity! Surely you don’t think this will give you an advantage!”

  Another pause.

  Timothy snuck closer, trying to see into the cavern. He couldn’t hear the king, and that worried him. What he saw was a man looking into a small mirror and holding a small cup up to his ear. This confused him further until it struck him all in a flash.

  A magic mirror, I didn’t know those still existed! The king must have a matching one, perhaps he’s not in the caverns at all.

  The realization flooded Timothy with relief, but then the man, whom Timothy now recognized as Zale, spoke once more.

  “Your majesty, I grew the nightshades, is that not enough? I can’t feed them to her myself! Imagine if I got caught!”

  Another pause, and Timothy strained to hear what was coming through the cup. No luck.

  “Yes, yes, my king. Of course it is my honor to serve you. I shall slip it into her dinner tonight. She won’t be in your way anymore.” Zale said, sounding subdued. “But I can’t deliver it myself, or she’ll surely hear in my thoughts what you’re planning. I’ll have the new boy deliver it, he seems naive enough.”

  Timothy didn’t wait to hear anymore of what was said. He quickly and quietly made his way away from the corridor and, as soon as he was out of earshot of Zale, took off in a dead sprint for his room. Once safely there, he paced around his room, thinking rapidly.

  They’re planning to kill Gahamarah. Or at least do something to her. What does nightshade do to dragons, anyway? Why would the king want to kill her? She’s so powerful, and allied with him; she could be a huge asset for his plans. But he is also powerful, maybe he’s worried that she could challenge his power?

  For a moment he thought about what would happen after she was gone.

  It would be easier to escape with her out of the way. But what about the king? Surely he hasn’t forgotten about me, maybe my fate would be worse if she were killed. But without her guarding the exits and listening to my thoughts, escape would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

  Either way, she’s been kind to me while I’ve been here. She doesn’t deserve to die. But how do I help her?

  He resolved to warn her. After all, she was a dragon; she could take care of Zale on her own.

  He forced himself to walk down the corridors as if nothing was wrong. He saw Zale, said a friendly hello and started to walk by him, but before he could get past Zale stopped him. 

  “Are you done with your polishing? I could use some help getting Gahamarah’s dinner up to her cavern.” Zale wouldn’t hold eye contact and looked like he was ready to jump out of his skin. 

  “I have finished my polishing,” Timothy answered, feeling uncomfortable himself. “But I needed to talk to Gahamarah about something.”

  “Oh, that’s perfect, you can carry it to her room on your way to talk to her. Come with me.” Zale grabbed his arm a bit too tight and pulled Timothy along behind him before Timothy had a chance to object. 

  “Wait!” Timothy shouted, trying to pull back.

  “No time to waste; she likes to have her dinner right on schedule.” Zale said, the hysteria creeping into his voice. He was bigger than Timothy, and strong from doing heavy labor for so many years, so Timothy knew he didn’t stand a chance in a fight. That didn’t stop him from tugging hopelessly to try to escape, but eventually gave up and just followed Zale, thinking to himself, How will I warn her now?



                                                           (Five days prior)

  “So,” the distinguished-looking Elf said to Greggory, son of Hermand, and Symphonie, “you would like help from the Elves?”

  King Antioch XIV: the Magnificent, the Bold, the Humble, High King of Lilastad and the Elven Forests, Ruler Over All Plants and Animals in the Holy Forests, All Who Hear His Stupidly Long Name Yield All Their Rights In Favor Of His Whims And Designs And Devote Themselves Eternally To Every Fiber Of His Being sat imperiously before them in a towering and beautifully carved amethyst throne, observing them with eagle-like eyes. Gregg had made up that last part a long time ago, but now, as he was getting to know the Elven ruler, Gregg realized that the king definitely didn’t deserve it.

  Antioch XIV was indeed humble, despite his ridiculous title. I now understand why Dad was so mad when I called him that, Gregg thought. He pays attention to his servants and laborers, making sure everyone in the palace and the city surrounding is fed and well cared for. Antioch was clearly a well-loved king; it was obvious from the adoration shown by all of his subjects.

  Symphonie responded, “Yes, Your Majesty. That is why we are here: to request help from the Amethyst Empire. We know the Elven Seers are the best that this world has. We are prepared to offer whatever you would request in return for help finding Prince Timothy, who I’m sure will be very grateful for whatever help you are willing to give us.”

  “I think,” Antioch said, “that you already know that we know where your fiancé is.”

  “Yes, we do believe you know where Timothy is,” Symphonie said. “Highlord Moab hinted that you did.” 

  “I do, indeed, know where Prince Timothy is,” King Antioch said evenly. “He is on Starblade Island, where the last remains of The Old People reside, along with Gahamarah, the Last Queen of the Dragons. And I will need to talk to Moab and tell him to be more tight-lipped,” he said with a slight smile on his lips.

  “What would you request in return for your help?” Symphonie asked somewhat apprehensively.

  “Not too much, I think,” Antioch said. “Just open trade and borders between the Amethyst Empire and the Ruhe Kingdom, recognition of the Elven right of rule in the Forests, and the promise of aid in the event of a disaster, like an earthquake or a war.” 

  “I think that will be acceptable,” Symphonie said, clearly relieved. “Gregg, do you think Timothy will be fine with these conditions?”

  “I think he’ll be happy to be rescued, and willing to give you whatever you might ask for in return,” Gregg said.  “Same with King Xavier. I mean, that is, King Xavier will give anything to have Timothy returned to him.” 

  “If these conditions are accepted,” King Antioch said, “then you will have the help of the Elves in your search for the missing Prince Timothy. As I said earlier, he is on Starblade Island, which is known to some as Angst-Kløer, the Dread-Claws. We will sail there in two day’s time,” Antioch paused here with a smile. “We knew you were coming and were fairly certain that you would accept our terms, though we didn’t know exactly when, but most of the preparations are done or are nearing completion. We could use a little more help, if you and yours would be willing to provide a few more laborers.”

  “Of course we can help,” Symphonie said. 




  The rest of the preparations had gone faster than expected, and the fleet of twenty Elven ships departed at sunrise on the second day. Within ten minutes, Gregg had realized that the sea didn’t agree with him one bit.

  Later, he was leaning over the ship’s railing to vomit for the sixth time in the four hours since they had left Lilastad’s port that morning. An Elven sailor nudged Gregg after he stopped retching. 

  “New at the sea?” the Elf said in broken English, holding a flask full of something that looked like whisky. “Here, be the drinking this for you.”

  Gregg shook his head and said woefully. “Better not risk it.”

  “No!” the Elf responded loudly, waving his arms wildly, spilling a bit of the liquid onto the just mopped deck, where it sizzled and made a small dent. “Helps, not risks!” 

  Gregg took the flask apprehensively and drank a tentative sip. It felt as if it was clawing at the inside of his throat. The sensation stopped and immediately after he felt slightly better, so he took a longer pull. Feeling a lot better, he stood all the way and grinned at the Elf, saying. “Thank you, good sir Elf!”

  “Hebron,” the Elf said, grinning back and pointing at himself. Gregg held the flask out to Hebron, but he said. “No, be keepings of that.” Hebron then walked by Gregg to get back to work, slapping Gregg on the back with a chuckle as he went on his way.

  Gregg watched the busy hustle of the sailors running to and from their assigned tasks on the Higher Purpose, Elven High Admiral Corinth’s flagship and the lead ship in the fleet that was part of the Human-Elven Pact of Mutual Aid. As others on the ship worked, Gregg realized he was just standing around. He looked for the admiral, finding him on the poop deck. Gregg hurried over and climbed the ladder to the upper decks. 

  Admiral Corinth stood straight-backed and proud, surveying his crew as they scurried about on the decks below. His gaze flashed to Gregg as he walked up, then Corinth turned back to his crew, saying. “We will be turning out to the deep sea within the hour, Lord Herald.”

  “Excellent. What is this stuff that Hebron gave me?” Gregg asked.

  “Oh, it’s a potion of some sort our Mage Healers can make. It cures nausea of all kinds. Hebron likes to just drink it for whatever reason, don’t ask me why. He is quite strange.” Corinth found Hebron on the deck below them. He was trying to tie a knot with his feet while standing on his head. 

  Gregg grunted then asked, “Is there anything that I could do to help? I’m quite bored and have nothing to do. I’d even cook, if that’s all your people need help with.”

  “My cook doesn’t even let other Elves help her, so you definitely won’t be allowed,” the admiral said. “Can you spar? I need to keep the marines fresh and have them learn some human tactics in case we find opposition on Angst-Kløer.”

  “Yes, I can spar,” said a very relieved Gregg.




  Prince Timothy III was decidedly terrified. 

  He knew that Gahamarah’s dinner was tainted with a poison of some sort. The more he thought about it, the less he had an idea of what he should do about it. If he told her, he might be killed, as he was helping bring it to her. And death was something he was really trying to avoid. If he wasn’t killed, Zale most certainly would be. Timothy didn’t want blood of any sort on his hands, but if he didn’t tell and Gahamarah survived, he would be the one that she came for.

  Timothy realized he really did overthink everything, but this was life or death. He was allowed to overthink this. 

  He resolved to tell the whole truth, including that Zale was working against her on King Odious’s orders. This plan seemed like the most likely to get him off this island alive, not to mention the one that likely didn’t kill anyone but Timothy’s worst enemy. 

  As Timothy led a massive hog into Gahamarah’s dining cavern, he watched Zale scurry to and fro in an attempt to fulfill his “master’s” imperceptible orders. A table large enough for one hundred men was piled high with fruits, vegetables and various shellfish. Zale was currently bringing Gahamarah a platter of sliced fruit. 

  Timothy took a deep breath, then said,  “Gahamarah, I need to talk to you. Alone.”

  Of course, child. Timothy can take care of the rest of your tasks here while he is talking to me, Zale, Gahamarah thought to them. Once Zale had left the room, looking quite relieved, she turned to Timothy and said, What is it you wish to converse about, little prince? Something more about the Unduthy? Or perhaps something new that you’ve never heard anything about before?

  “Uhhh . . .  none of those things, no,” a nervous tremor came into Timothy’s voice. “But you never answered my question about Soul Fire.” 

  No, I didn’t, she thought back. Well then, what is it you want to tell me?

  “Uhhh . . .  well . . .  I think that . . .  uhhh . . .  well, uh, I know that, um . . .  uh . . .  someofyourfoodmaybepoisoned!” Timothy said this last part in a rush.

  And why do you think this? Gahamarah thought back. 

  “Because I overheard Zale talking to Odious using a magical mirror or something of the sort,” Timothy said, gaining confidence with each word he spoke. “He mentioned a       ‘nightshade’ . . .”

  Ahh… a nightshade. Smart plan. A nightshade is indeed enough to kill most dragons, but I have protection my fellows do not, Gahamarah thought musingly. At Timothy’s look of confusion, she thought, A nightshade is the root of a plant with an incredibly powerful poison. It grows like a carrot under the surface of the earth and they look like... she searched around the table, then grabbed a small, round, black and shriveled-looking plant. This.

  “I’ve never heard of them before, and I had an extensive education. Where did they come from?” Timothy asked. “And what do you mean when you say you ‘have protection my fellows do not?’”

  I am the last High Royal dragon, which means that I was one of the six on the First Council. I was given more power with the others by Axiti so that we could better lead my kind, said Gahamarah, and so the high royals have been hunted by men who want to have the power for themselves, though other dragons, when killed, can have their powers taken as well. These men who have killed members of the First Council gained fantastic powers, like the ability to turn into the dragon they killed. These men are among the most famous leaders of all human history, Orissan the Honorable, Terrinan the Dreaded, King Venarite IV and Terumatt, God-King of Walen, plus one th-  

  "Wait! Does that mean Odious has killed a high royal dragon?” Timothy said, interrupting Gahamarah, who gave him a withering glare. “Sorry.”

  Yes, it does. Timothy could somehow sense the disapproval in Gahamarah’s tone, You are forgiven, child, no need to cower. Odious did kill the last remaining member of the First Council, other than me. 

  “So, does Odious know that you’re one of the royal dragons?” Timothy asked.

I don’t know, small prince. He may be aware, yes, or he may just want to remove the dragons in general, Gahamarah mused. We can give some of our power to men while still alive, so that would be a valid reason to wipe us out, in case we side against Odious and the Veri. 

  She looked back at Timothy, tapping some of her claws on her chin, I don’t completely trust you right now. You may have overheard this as you told me, or maybe you were in on the plan and were tasked with distracting me from the true threat. If you are truly telling me this out of the goodness of your heart, you will obey this order. Kill Zale, and you will regain my trust. 

  Timothy gulped. That was not going to be an easy task.

Chapter Five


Chapter 5

Ruining some plans.

(A sparring match and some proof)



  Greggory, son of Hermand, stood before an Elf, named Sychar, ready, holding his axe in one hand with a shield strapped to his other arm. He was wearing a borrowed suit of Elven armor. It was durable and covered most of his skin, but was surprisingly light and cool. It was also blue instead of green, but this time it was painted.



  Gregg had also felt a strange sensation of power since he had put it on. The Elf opposing him was also wearing armor and wielding a longsword. The captain of the Elven Marines, Cyrene, stood between them.

  This was Gregg’s sixteenth sparring match since his talk with Admiral Corinth five days ago, and he’d won all but one. The rules changed with each match, and the one he’d lost had ended at the disarmament of Gregg's primary weapon.

  Captain Cyrene looked from Gregg to Sychar, then said in a commanding voice. “This battle is to submission. There shall be no blood drawn, as with all matches. Once one of you surrenders, the fight is over. Also, once a weapon hits the deck, out of either party’s control, that weapon can no longer be used.” She hurriedly got out of the way, saying, “Begin!”

  The Elven warrior moved forward, holding her sword at the ready. Gregg moved slowly to the side, raising his shield and complicating his opponent’s plan of attack. Sychar adjusted to Gregg’s movement, then she lunged. He dodged to his right, swinging with his axe, simultaneously swinging his shield at her sword.  The axe bypassed the surprised Elf’s sword, which she had brought up in a vain attempt to block, and put a dent in her chestplate. As Gregg brought his axe back, he hooked it on his opponent’s sword and yanked. 

  The sword fell from Sychar’s grip, but as she jerked back, she grabbed Gregg's axe and pulled it out of his hand. Gregg cursed, also pulling back, putting more space between himself and the Elf. He yanked his long dagger out of its sheath, flipping it so he was wielding it backhand. Sychar now warily held Gregg’s prized axe in front of her.

  Axe versus dagger. Not a very fair fight. But then, Gregg thought ruefully, when is life fair for me. 

  Sychar obviously saw her advantage and moved in to press it. She swung heavily and clumsily at Gregg, who dodged easily. 

  She’s not used to axes, Gregg thought, his hopes going up slightly. But that doesn’t really matter.  Maybe she has less control, but any idiot with a blade, especially an axe, could do serious damage with a lucky blow. 

  Gregg narrowly dodged the next blow, but when Sychar was off-balance for her attack and unable to defend herself, he raised his shield and rammed into her, sending her sprawling. The Elf hit the deck, grunting, but she managed to hold on to the axe. Sychar jumped back up, while Gregg, not wanting to rush in and mess it up as he usually did, waited. 

  They circled each other for a few moments, then Gregg lunged, feinting with his shield, then swinging his dagger towards Sychar’s shoulder. She didn’t, however, bite on the feint and, instead, swung the axe at his head. Gregg ducked, cursing, as the axe clipped the top of his helm. He fell, landing on his side. 

  Quickly, Gregg sat back up, raising his shield just in time to block a full, two-handed, overhead swing. He grunted as the blow registered up and down his arm. He tried to stand up, but the axe had dug deep into his shield, so he was pulled off balance as Sychar attempted to pull it free. 

  Gregg stumbled, but regained his balance and immediately wrenched hard backwards, forcing the axe from Sychar’s hand. She fell, but was up in a flash, doing something that caused a blade to extend from the vambrace on her sword-arm and a large shield to appear on her offhand. Gregg did, however, have enough time to resheath his dagger and pull the axe out of his shield. 

  Sychar was the one that lunged this time. She came at Gregg, jabbing with the blade on her wrist. Gregg spun to his left, dodging the blade, then he swung downward with the axe, scoring a hit in the middle of her vambrace. 

  The vambrace dented and cracked slightly. The Elven Marine’s armor wasn’t as strong as the Elves’ in the forest. Gregg had found this out pretty quickly. 

  Sychar leapt away, shaking her arm, but then she charged him again. Gregg stumbled back, surprised by her reckless attack on him. He pulled his shield up in a vain attempt to stop her frenzied assault, but her blitz was too random to predict. A few hits passed his shield, but the blade just glanced off his armor. Despite this, Gregg still felt the physical power behind the blows. 

  As the bombardment continued, Gregg felt Sychar tiring, her blows weakening. That might make her a little more sloppy, Gregg thought. 

  This thought was proven correct as she sent a blow his way which Gregg managed to deflect down into the wood of the deck, where it stuck.

  Gregg immediately swept his axe downward and landed a crushing blow on the blade, snapping it off the armor. Sychar jerked her hand back, but instead of putting more room in between herself and Gregg, she slammed her gauntleted fist into the side of his helm. 

  Gregg stumbled, but didn’t drop the axe or fall. Sychar raised her shield in an attempt to ram him, but he had regained his balance quickly enough to only take a glancing blow. He turned and squared up to his opponent, with Sychar coming at him again. Gregg growled, bringing his axe down, aiming at her head, in an attempt to stop her. 

  The thought of a face full of axe was apparently not appealing to Sychar, so she slowed down to avoid his desperate counter-move. It was enough to save her head, but her shield was another story. Gregg had put everything he had into that swing, and when the axe hit her shield, it cracked badly, splitting almost to her arm.

  As he pulled the axe out, she used the extra momentum to give more power as she sent her fists flying at him. He managed to block most of her blows with his own shield, but one solid shot got through, giving Sychar time to rip at the shield on his arm.

  The shield’s straps stripped enough to slip off his arm, so Sychar yanked it off. On its way off, the shield caught on a flared part of Gregg’s gauntlet, pulling him off-balance. He was forced to drop the axe as he rolled back to his feet. He drew his dagger, but that was slapped to the deck by Sychar before he got a firm grip on it.

  Gregg dodged a fist. No weapons left. Or, he thought, glancing at his vambrace, no weapons that I know how to use. 

  “Tense your fore-arm, then mentally command it to extend,” said a muffled voice from his opponent’s helm. “For the stinger. Same with the shield.”

  Gregg looked at Sychar, confused, as he did what she said. A blade popped out, and he looked down at it. Then he got clocked.

  Sychar had used his temporary distraction to surprise him with a fist to the face. Gregg hit the deck, extending the shield and instinctively bringing it up to protect himself. Her second fist was caught by the shield, deflecting it away from him. Gregg forced himself to roll backwards over his shoulder to put space between the Elf and him.

  By the time he stood up, Sychar had closed the distance between them. She lunged, grabbing the blade on his wrist and, in one quick motion, snapped it off the vambrace. Gregg countered by slamming the shield into her hand, causing her to drop yet another weapon. 

  Sychar responded by tackling him. Both she and Gregg went to the deck. The air was knocked out of Gregg’s lungs, and Sychar was immediately on top of him, pinning his arms and forcing his back to the deck. 

  “Owww . . .” Gregg moaned. “I yield.”

  Sychar hopped up, then extended a hand to Gregg. He took it, pulling himself up. As he stood up, the Elves erupted into cheers, praising the one who brought down the “Red Titan,” as they’d dubbed him, in a real fight. Sychar raised her arms in acknowledgement, then pumped her fists in celebration. He nodded to her respectfully.

  As Gregg collected his axe, shield, dagger and the blade from the armor, he saw Symphonie approaching. She looked around, her eyes landing on him, and hurried over.

  As Symphonie reached his side, she looked up at Gregg, who had taken off his helm and  was now taking off the damaged vambrace. He had found that the Elven armorers could repair the armor by just running a piece of some special metal over the damage. After he finished pulling the armor off, he looked up and said, “Hey, Symphonie. What’s up?”

  “Admiral Corinth said we’ll arrive around dawn tomorrow, and that you and the warriors should ‘stop fighting and relax for a few seconds, as we might need them tomorrow,’” Symphonie said, “and I didn’t want to talk to the captain without backup.”

  "You’re scared of her, aren’t you?” Gregg said, smirking.

  “Yes, Greggory, I am. So will you come with me? Or do I have to do this alone?” Symphonie asked.

  “No,” Gregg said, “I think not. I need some water.”

  “Okay, Gregg, you go get some water,” Symphonie said, rolling her eyes. “And if you see Zion, tell her what I told you, okay?”

  “Yep. No problem,” Gregg said, walking away.



  Prince Timothy III walked down, towards the farming caverns, armed with the finest sword that Gahamarah had in her stash of weapons, plus a few small knives, but there was almost no armor that he could find which he could put on without help. All he had was a dyed leather cuirass that barely fit him, some sketchy vambraces which seemed to be older than Gregg’s great-great uncle, and an abnormally thick cloak. 

  As he approached the farms, Timothy heard Zale talking, sounding worried.

  “My king, I think that the prince is onto us!” There was a pause here, though Timothy thought he heard Odious saying something, but then Zale continued. “He asked if he could speak to Gahamarah alone, but I snuck back and heard the prince saying something.” A pause. “No . . . no, I didn’t hear anything specific. He was nervous about something when he came out of her room. He went into the treasure vault even though he’d said that he was done for the day,” Another pause. “Yes, he could have found something he didn’t want me to know about, but I cleaned the treasure for over a year. I doubt he found something I didn’t.” A third pause. “Yes, if you could bring some of the Bloodcloaks, they would be useful, I believe. Thank you, my lord. I will be ready for you,”

  Timothy entered the cave and saw Zale, wearing a leather tunic, putting down the mirror. Zale jumped, still pretending to be innocent. “Timothy? What are you doing here?”

  “I think that you may already know the answer to that,” Timothy said, drawing his sword. 

  Zale jumped into motion, running over to the tool box, pulling out farming equipment and tossing them aside. He grabbed a rake, turning around and throwing it at Timothy, who dove, dropping the sword, to the floor to avoid the flying tool. He quickly scrambled back to his feet and snatched the sword off the floor. 

  Timothy watched as Zale pulled up a false bottom in the chest and took something out. As Timothy stood at the ready, Zale turned around, holding a chain-and-ball flail, which he began swinging around. 

  Timothy circled him for a moment, then he feinted in at Zale, causing him to swing the flail as a counter-move. When the attack missed, Timothy lunged, slashing through the leather tunic on Zale’s left shoulder, catching enough flesh to get the tip bloody. Zale grunted, swinging the flail at him. It hit Timothy’s left vambrace, shattering it and stabbing him a little. 

  Timothy pulled back and shook his newly unarmored and injured arm. He narrowly dodged another blow, then slashed at Zale, who slipped away just as the blade sliced through the air where his neck had been an instant before. 

  The two men started circling each other again, then Timothy bolted back through the hallways, his cloak flaring behind him as he dashed into the vault to hide amongst the vast mounds of treasure and regroup. 

  Zale sneered, screaming after him. “You coward!” 

  As he entered the vault, Zale yelled. “You’re dead, Timothy! Even if you manage to survive the night, King Odious will be here tomorrow with three squads of the best troops the Veri have! You won’t stand a chance against them, even if you kill me!

  “If you think you can hide in here, you should know that I spent over a year endlessly cleaning the piles of treasure that you now rely on for refuge! You will only temporarily find succor within these stone halls!”

  Zale is truly an idiot, Timothy thought a little smugly as Zale’s clumping boots and once-friendly voice screaming inane taunts and threats approached. He doesn’t even realize that he’s giving away his position when he shouts.

  When Zale was just about to pass him, Timothy leapt out of his hiding spot, bringing his sword whipping around, aiming at Zale’s nearest body part, his offhand. The surprise attack caught Zale off guard, and the sword cut cleanly through his wrist, the hand flopping to the floor.

  Zale screamed in pain and rage, lashing out with the flail in his remaining hand, scoring a hit on Timothy’s left shoulder. He felt something shatter as the spiked steel ball smashed into him.

  Timothy grunted, taking the blow and countering, swinging the sword back with one arm and slicing off Zale’s other arm just below his shoulder. Timothy flowed into his next move, stabbing Zale through his chest, then yanking the sword out and slashing it completely through his neck.

  Zale’s head rolled across the polished stone floor. Timothy winced as he resheathed his borrowed sword. He walked over to the rogue head and knelt to pick it up. 

  “Oh . . .  merciful Skaiha. Oh . . .  Lady of Life, forgive me,” Timothy whispered as he picked up Zale’s head with his good arm. He stumbled away, accidentally kicking Zale’s weapon,  heading down the abandoned halls towards Gahamarah’s chambers. 

  Once Timothy reached the entrance to her rooms, he called out. “Gahamarah? I . . .  um   . . .  I finished the task you gave me and, uh . . .  I brought proof,” he dropped the head as he spoke. As it hit the ground, the head made an odd noise, somewhere between a squelch and a thump.

  Gahamarah moved out of the darkness, her massive head investigating what Timothy had dropped. She picked up the head, tossing it into the air and incinerating it with a blast of brilliant green fire. 

  She looked at Timothy and said, Indeed you have, child. I honestly didn’t think you would be able to beat Zale. You now have my full trust. Are you injured anywhere?

  Timothy breathed a sigh of relief. “Yeah, one of my shoulders got crushed during the fight. Do you have some way to heal it?”

  Yes, I do. Hold out your good hand.

  Timothy did as he was instructed. Gahamarah moved her head forward and touched the tip of her nose to his palm. Immediately, he felt a rush of raw, fiery power move from his hand all the way around his body, finally stopping at his shoulder and the small puncture wound on his fore-arm. The pain stopped in the injured areas, and Timothy thought he felt them beginning to reknit.

  Is that better? Gahamarah thought.

  “Yes, that’s much better! Thank you, Gahamarah!” Timothy said.

  You’re welcome. Now, get some sleep. You have a big mess to clean up tomorrow.

  Timothy turned to leave, but stopped, saying. “Zale said that Odious would be here tomorrow with quite a few men, so, uh . . .  just thought I’d tell you that.”

  Thank you for telling me, small prince. Maybe I’ll tell you about Soul Fire in the morning. But go rest now, as I said earlier.

  Timothy left the massive cavern and headed to the room that he had been given. He thought about the events of the day as he walked back. Then, as he lay in bed, he considered what he’d done, and eventually fell into a restless sleep.

Chapter Six


Chapter 6

The Prince is found

(Amongst other things)


  An Elf violently shook Greggory, son of Hermand, awake, interrupting him as he dreamed of huge piles of the greatest treasure on the planet: cream puffs.

  The Elf said, “Ups getting time, Red Titan, sir.”

  Once Gregg had looked around and realized that there were no cream puffs anywhere, he sighed. He rolled out of his hammock, stretched, and stood, surveying the surrounding bunks and seeing that no one else was still sleeping. He dressed quickly and headed to the mess hall. 

  After he’d eaten, Gregg went up to the deck and saw that the sun had not yet risen, though the first light was peeking over the horizon. On the horizon was a spiky island, backlit by the rising sun, and with Verisari, the moon of war and death, above it. 

  As the ships approached the island, one of the small ships broke off from the rest and went ahead to scout out potential places to land. The rest of the fleet dropped anchor and waited until the small ship returned with its information. Gregg stood, hands on the railing, watching the sun rise behind Angst-Kløer.

  Soon, the scout ship came back into view, and the message was relayed. The landing would take place in the cove on the east side of the island. The fleet moved around the island and congregated near the opening of the cove, lowering their longboats.

  As the Elven Marines boarded the longboats, Gregg prepared to climb down into the net, but he was stopped by the quartermaster, a short, fat man, who said, “The admiral said to give this to you.” 

  It was a small amethyst crystal, which was glowing slightly. Gregg asked, “What is it?” 

  “It’s a hand-held device that allows short-ranged communications. Could be useful in the caves that you’ll be heading into. The admiral says that a link unit will wait outside the cave to transmit signals to and from the ships." 

  “Hmmm . . .” Gregg murmured. “This could be very useful.”

  He pocketed the device and heaved himself over the railing, climbing down into the longboat just as it was about to pull away. Once Gregg sat down, the skipper called for the boat to depart, and the oarsmen started rowing. Mallick and his squad were in the boat next to Gregg’s. 

  Mallick looked over and yelled, “Hey Gregg! Long time no see! How was your time on the big fancy boat?”

  Gregg looked to Captain Cyrene, who was sitting next to him, and asked, “Does Mallick have one of these?” He held up the crystal he’d been given earlier. 

  She looked at him and gave him an expression that clearly said, ‘How should I know?’

  “Right, you’re not the pers- err, Elf to ask. Sorry,” Gregg said, embarrassed. 

  So he turned and yelled back, “Do you have one of these weird crystal talking thingies?”

  “What?” came Mallick’s hollered response.

  Gregg looked down at the device and flipped the switch on the side. The crystal started glowing even brighter and a fuzzy sound. He looked at it, pressed the button and murmured, “What does this do?”

  Immediately several noises rang out around the boat and Gregg heard his voice saying what he’d just said from different benches. Someone on a different boat replied, “It sends what you say to all compatible crys-comms nearby, human.” 

  Gregg jumped. That was weird. The sound was almost perfect, “Oh, cool. What other humans have crys-comms?” he asked.

  Symphonie’s voice came from the crystal, “I have one, Greggory.” 

  Kai cursed and said, “How does this blasted thing work?” 

  “Uhhh . . .” Gregg said, “you figured it out, Kai.”

  “I did? Crusted thing has no way of telling that.”

  Mallick said, “Oh . . . so that’s what these are for. I couldn’t tell what that Elf was saying.”

  Zion piped up, “I suppose I partially count towards the total human count.” 

  “So… four and a half humans with these,” Gregg said. “Awesome. Good to know.” 

  “Can you humans stop jamming up the line?” said the Elf who had spoken earlier. “We’re about to land.”

  “Oh, sure, sorry,” Gregg replied.

  The lead boat had indeed reached the beach. The first wave of Marines hopped over the edge, splashing in the surf and rushing onto the beach to scout for threats. The second boat reached the beach moments later, with Gregg’s boat and the others just behind.

  Gregg’s disembarkment was much less rushed, as he didn’t have to clear the area of threats, but he still slipped as he hit the sand, stumbling forward and slamming face-first into the beach. He stood up, spitting sand, then he ran to meet up with Cyrene, Zion, Symphonie and the quartermaster that gave him the crys-comm. 

  The quartermaster spoke first, “The crys-tech engineers and I will stay behind, with the guards you leave, to set up and protect the crys-comm link from potential threats.

  “Once you’re in the caves, we’ll open a line to the bridge back on the Higher Purpose and the rest of the fleet to begin transmitting orders and intel back and forth.”

  Before anything else was said, an Elf yelled, “I found an entrance!”

  Cyrene glared at the quartermaster and said, “Hammath, you’d better go get it set up, or we won’t be able to communicate with the ships in about a minute.”

  “Right you are, Captain,” said Hammath, hurrying away.

  Gregg turned and headed to where the Elf had found a way into the dragon’s lair.

  Before they headed in, however, Cyrene split them into groups, putting Gregg, Zion and Symphonie with Sychar’s squad. Kai went in with most of his friends and Mallick with his own squad. 

  As Gregg approached the mouth of the cave, he hesitated for a fraction of a second, then he steeled himself and stepped into the lair of a dragon.




  Prince Timothy III noticed three things soon after waking up. 

  The first one was that he had rolled over onto his left shoulder in the night, and it didn’t hurt at all. Whatever Gahamarah did had worked.

  Second was that he had slept in his pathetic leather cuirass. He hadn’t even realized he was still wearing it when he’d gone to bed. His cloak had, however, slipped off at some point in the night.

  The third one Timothy didn’t notice until he was up and heading to get some breakfast.

  There were other people in the city. 

  He heard voices coming from the upper halls and stayed down near the kitchens and his room. That would be Odious and his men, just as Zale had promised. It sounded like they had just discovered his body in the vault. 

  That means they’ll know I’m still alive, Timothy thought dismally.

  He started getting ready to fight to what was sure to be his death, checking the sword and the throwing daggers he’d taken yesterday, to ensure that they were all still there. They were.

  Of course they are, it’s not like they can walk, dummy, Timothy thought.

  He tightened the straps on the cuirass and tucked the daggers into his belt, then started towards Gahamarah’s cavern. Once he left the relative safety of the Lower Halls, Timothy had to be more careful, constantly watching and listening for Odious’ men.

  Timothy saw one man coming and ducked into a nearby shadowed area. The man didn’t see him as he ran by, but curiously he was wearing blue armor. Maybe the Veri elites wear special armor to distinguish them from common soldiers? Timothy thought.

  As he approached the Queen of Dragon’s rooms, he heard, in his head, a faint call, like Gahamarah’s voice, but weak. Very weak.

  Timothy rushed towards Gahamarah’s cavern now as fast as his prudence would allow him. Then he heard her voice.

  Little prince, where are you? Can you hear me? came her voice, somehow sounding sickly and desperate. I need to talk to you. Hurry, child, I don’t think I have long left.

  Timothy threw away all caution and ran full-tilt the rest of the way to the dragon’s chambers, drawing his sword in case he needed it.

  He arrived, short on breath and leaning against the wall. It was dark in Gahamarah’s rooms, but Timothy’s eyes soon adjusted to it. Gahmarah was lying in the corner of the room, breathing heavily and raggedly. Timothy dropped his sword, and she looked at him and shifted a little, turning towards the noise.

  “What happened? Did I do something?” Timothy asked frantically.

  Child, it’s not your fault. There was more nightshade-laced food in my dinner, and my powers hadn’t quite cleared it out when I gave some to heal you. 

  “But if I hadn’t gotten injured . . .  maybe . . .  maybe this wouldn’t have happened,” Timothy said, his voice dropping off at the end.

  I was the shortsighted one, Timothy. You should not expect to emerge unscathed from a fight with someone larger and stronger than you are. The fault is mine, and you did as well as one could.

“How did it kill you? I thought you’d said that poisons weren’t something you needed to worry about,” Timothy said, his throat tightening. 

Normally, a poison wouldn’t kill me, or even do any damage of note, Gahamarah thought weakly. But since I gave you a large portion of my healing ability and the poison hadn’t been completely eradicated, it managed to do lethal damage before I recovered my power.

I was foolish, both in sending you to kill Zale and in giving you healing. Suddenly Gahamarah lifted her head up, meeting Timothy’s eyes. But we must not dwell on the mistakes of the past. You must move on, as I will, though you must not move as far as I do. And, to help you move on and reach your full power, I name you my Heir.

  As Gahamarah said this, dark green, but still clearly glowing, flames burst into existence all around the chamber. They converged on Timothy, swirling around him, but the fire wasn't hot. In fact as the flames touched his skin, they felt cool. The fire began to absorb into him, chilling him to his bones.

  Once all of the flames had disappeared, sucked inside him, Timothy felt a searing pain on his back, chest and one of his shoulders. The pain faded as Timothy removed his armor and shirt to look at what had caused the pain. There, as he looked down, on his chest was a large tattoo of the head, wings and chest of a dark green dragon.

  Timothy looked at his shoulder and saw the body of the dragon continuing over to his back. Then he looked back at Gahamarah as she lowered her head back down to the floor.

  He rushed over to her, kneeling and touching the palm of his hand to her snout, in between her nostrils. She sighed, looking incredibly worn.

  Then she said, You must go up to the vault. There are people, amongst whom you will find friends, Gahamarah looked wearlily at him, then she closed her eyes. I have another hour or two left, and I wish to spend it alone. Now, child, she thought, go to the vault and find your friends.

  “Yes, of course,” Timothy said. He rose and walked away, tears streaming down his face, but as he reached the doorway, Gahamarah spoke again. 

  Child, do not feel any loss over me, for once I die, I will be more a part of you than you could ever imagine.

  “Oh . . .  okay,” said Timothy, smiling slightly.




  Greggory, son of Hermand, looked at the headless body lying before him on the oddly even stone floor, surrounded by more gold, silver and jewels than Gregg had ever seen. He’d taken off his helm to get a better look at the body.  He was trying to determine if the corpse was Timothy, but it was hard to tell who someone was when they didn’t have a head.

  Gregg continued to stare at the corpse, thinking. Finally, he said. “I don’t think it’s Tim. This body has far more muscle than Timothy had, uh . . .  I mean, has.” 

  Symphonie looked up from where she was sitting. She had just been crying with Zion next to her trying to comfort her.

  “You . . .  you don’t think it’s him? Then who is this? And who killed him?” she said, wiping tears from her eyes and gesturing to the body in front of Gregg. 

  “Somebody, a farmer or some other hard laborer, based on his build, and I’d guess that the dragon killed him, though a person could have killed him,” Gregg said. “But as for who he is, I have no clue.”

  Captain Cyrene was looking around the area where the body had been found. She made an exclamation of shock, then turned around holding a chain-and-ball flail with dried blood coating some of the spikes. 

  “This,” Cyrene said, “is not Elven blood, nor is it the blood of a dragon,” she looked directly at Gregg. “This is the blood of a human.” 

  “So,” Zion said, “Timothy or someone else fought and killed this man, but was wounded in the process. Might they have left a trail of blood leading to wherever they went after they murdered this man.”

  “That is a good point, Zion,” Cyrene responded. “I will look around and see if I find anything.”

  Before the captain could go searching for the bloody trail, another Elf came jogging around the pile of treasure, saying that there was no sign of anyone else in the cave. 

  “Did you see any blood anywhere?” Cyrene asked.

  “Now that you mention it, I think that I saw some splatters of blood by where we came in,” the Elf said.

  “Take me to where you saw the blood,” the captain said.

  The Elf saluted and headed over to the entrance. He looked around for a minute, then said, pointing. “There! There’s the blood, Captain! It heads out into the corridor, down the hall towards the deep caverns!” 

  He looked up. “Do you think we should follow it, Captain?”

  “Hmmm . . .  what do you think, Titan?” 

  “I don’t know,” Gregg said. “The person who did this could be Timothy, but it could also be a very dangerous person that found and killed this man. So I guess I advise caution, Captain.”

  “If you advise caution, then we will go carefully,” Cyrene said, “but if we are to escape without the dragon finding and killing us, we need to be fast.”

  As the group turned to leave, a figure with a cloak flaring dramatically behind them appeared in the entryway. Gregg reached for his axe and extended the shield on his offarm, but then the figure gasped, saying. “Gregg?”

Chapter Seven


Chapter 7

The enemy arrives. 

(On a dragon)


 Prince Timothy III dropped any semblance of dignity, rushing forward with a yelp to grab his best friend in a big bear hug. Gregg responded by yanking him off the ground and almost fell over as he hugged Timothy back. 


 Gregg dropped him and Timothy had a chance to look around. He saw a few soldiers wearing the same blue armor he’d seen on someone earlier. What in the mighty name of Skaiha is that made out of? Gregg, he now saw, was also wearing blue armor. He then continued his scan of the vault, spotting two more people that he knew. One of them took off her helmet and revealed herself to be none other than Zion. And she had pointy ears, too. Since when has she been an Elf?

 The last person was feminine in figure, but she was wider than Zion and a few inches taller. 

 The woman breathed out. “Timothy?”

 Timothy’s eyes filled with tears as the woman stepped into the torchlight, her round face tear-stained and looking hopeful.

 “Symphonie,” Timothy whispered. “It’s me. Really me.” 

 Symphonie leapt into Timothy’s arms, then looked up and pressed her lips to his. It felt like fire shot through his veins. This was better than the healing Gahamarah had given him, warm and fierce. He kissed her back, pressing into her warmth and the softness of her body.

 That moment, that perfect moment, lasted only a few seconds, or maybe it was a few hours later, until someone cleared their throat. 

 Symphonie jumped out of his arms, and Timothy felt his cheeks reddening. Gregg didn’t help matters much.

 “Symphonie, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone fly that far before. But I’ll only give you nine out of ten. You really should have tried to go a little higher. But don’t worry, it was very impressive, and I’d still pay to see it again.”

 Symphonie glared at him, which only caused Gregg to laugh. Zion shoved him and he stumbled, falling into a pile of treasure. He yelped in surprise and pain as he landed on a silvery spearhead. 

 One of the soldiers was now talking into a small shard of glowing amethyst crystal, saying, “We have found the prince. I repeat, we have found the prince. Prepare the ships for departure. We will begin making our way to the entrance now.”

 The crystal buzzed and spouted some words that Timothy couldn’t quite make out. The soldier responded, “We are heading out now. Closing the line now.”

 She stood up and said. “Alright, time to move, people and Elves. We need to get on board the ships before the dragon notices that we’re here.”

 Timothy laughed at this. “Gahamarah knows you’re here, and she knows you’re trying to rescue me, but she’s dying, and she told me to go with you.” He frowned, then continued, “But we might have some trouble coming our way. I’m guessing that you found Zale’s body, that’s probably why you’ve spent so much time here. I had to kill him, well, I guess because Gahamarah told me to, but he managed to call Odious, Wizard-King of the Veri Kingdom, here. And Odious is bringing his best troops with him.

 “Oh yeah, and Odious is the dragon that kidnapped me. He can transform into one because he killed a royal dragon. So he’s a huge threat,” Timothy said, looking at Symphonie to see her response.

 She took it in stride and, once she noticed his gaze, she said gently, “You did what you had to, Timothy, so you could survive. I’m glad that you did what you did.” 

 Timothy nodded. That was what he’d thought as well. It was still reliving to hear it from someone else. 

 “Alright, enough chit-chat,” said the Elf who had spoken before. “We need to get moving now, especially with this information.” 

 She rushed out, but when no one followed her, she stuck her head back in and said, “You will have plenty of time on the boat to discuss what has happened, so let’s go.”

 Gregg sighed. “Cyrene, can't you understand that we haven't talked to, or even seen each other in over two weeks. Can’t we have another few minutes to catch up?”

 “No, you can’t. Because, in case you did not hear, there is a dragon on his way here, with some of his best troops. And so we need to leave as soon as possible, and there will be lots of time to ‘catch up’ on the Higher Purpose. Now, let’s go!” she said, glaring at them all.

 Cyrene walked out again, and this time everyone followed her. As they headed up to where the Elves had found an entrance, the crystals hooked to several members of the party’s legs started going crazy, buzzing incessantly. This time, Timothy could make out some words, like ‘attack’ and ‘dragon’. Cyrene responded to some messages, then motioned for them to hurry up.

 As they approached the exit, Timothy heard the clash of weapons and the screams of wounded and dying men. Once Timothy reached the exit, he saw a beach covered with a fighting mass of humans and Elves centered around a large amethyst crystal. Corpses littered abandoned parts of the battlefield and, as he now saw, some of the humans had blood-red cloaks. Those must be the Bloodcloaks, Timothy thought.

 The Bloodcloaks were fighting to capture whatever that massive crystal was and, in doing so, were forced to fight on two fronts: in front, where Elves defended the device, and behind, as humans in viking-esque armor tried to reach their Elven allies. The vikings, however, had almost been completely wiped out, allowing the Veri elites to focus on the remaining Elves.

 Timothy found his eyes drifting from the battle out to sea. His gaze landed on the Elven ships, which were under attack from a mid-sized dragon. Odious, Timothy realized. Should’ve looked for him sooner. 

 Gregg unsheathed his axe and extended the shield from his armor, then he charged down the slope into the fray. Gregg didn’t even stumble on the way down, Timothy had noticed long ago that once Gregg was in the fighting mindset, his clumsiness and bad luck vanished. In its place were the skills and instincts of a truly formidable warrior, capable of wielding a large number of weapons as if he had been born with them in his hands.

 Several of the Elves followed Gregg down the dune, screaming warcries. Gregg reached the battle before the Bloodcloaks turned around, downing three before the enemy could do anything. The Elves weren’t as lucky. Some of the Bloodcloaks had turned away from the Elves to face this new threat, and they met them in force.

 Timothy looked away from the battle on the beach again with some difficulty, instead turning to watch the battle at sea. A small boat was sinking and a medium one was ablaze, but the others were still floating and fighting. The surviving ships all had glowing purple shields,  seemingly being projected from large amethyst crystals on the masts and from the bow and aft ends. 

 Odious flew about the shielded ships, blasting them with fire to see if he could find a weak spot to exploit. The ships fired back blasts of purple energy, forcing Odious away from them. He flew to the beach, disrupting the fight. The Bloodcloaks disengaged, extracting themselves from their fights, leaving behind almost a hundred corpses, but only eleven wore red cloaks. 

 Once the Cloaks were gone, following Odious around the mountain in a full sprint,  Timothy turned, heading back into the city. Symphonie said, “Timothy, where are you going?”

 Timothy looked back and said, “To protect Gahamarah. She’s dying, and it’s partially my fault, so I’m going to try to lead Odious away from her, so she can die in peace.”  




 Greggory, son of Hermand, knelt down beside Kai’s body. He hadn’t known the man for very long, but they’d gotten along well. They probably would’ve been friends if there’d been more time with Kai alive. But there wasn’t more time. 

 Zion came running down to Gregg. Once she saw who’s body he knelt by, she gasped. Tears followed as she dropped to her knees, grabbing his limp hand and bringing it up to her chest. She put her head on his chest, despite the ugly gash running across it. Her tears turned to weeping as they ran off her cheeks and mingled with her husband's blood. 

 Symphonie walked up, saw Kai’s corpse and said, “Oh . . .  Zion, I’m so sorry.” 

 Zion continued crying, so Symphonie crouched by her and wrapped her in a hug.

 Gregg stood up and walked away, hiding his emotions. He looked at the fleet, Sixteen ships, he thought. That meant four had been sunk. He searched for the identifying flag of the ship that Hebron had been transferred to, but he couldn’t find it. 

 No . . .  not Hebron too, Gregg thought. 

 He walked over to the crys-comms and asked. “Did the ship under Commander Alemeth go down?”

 One of the Elves turned and said, “Yes, I am afraid the Skaiha’s Breeze did sink.” 

 Once he saw the look on Gregg’s face, he said, “I am sorry that whoever your friend was that you lost with the Skaiha’s Breeze.” 

 Gregg mumbled, “It’s not your fault,” as he spun and walked away, stifling tears and wishing none of this idiocy had ever happened. 

 As Gregg walked, he took in the sights of the island to distract himself. The massive spires of rock reaching towards the sky were hundreds of feet tall, with bits of metal throughout it and some weird holes in a few places. 

 Gregg tried to block out thoughts about Kai and Hebron, but he failed to keep them away. The losses were too fresh, and Gregg too unaccustomed to warfare. 

 He wandered for a few more minutes until Mallick walked up and said, “You look like a soldier just after the first death in his squad. Do you need some support?”

 Gregg sighed, then said, “I’m just weak, aren’t I? I can’t even take the deaths of men I barely knew. What would happen to me if Timothy or Symphonie or Aria, my wife, died?”

 Mallick studied Gregg for a minute, hesitated, then said, “No, it doesn’t make you weak when you’re saddened by deaths around you. It means you can feel; it means that you are human. 

 “As for your question about what would happen if one you love is killed, I can’t answer that.

 “But as I see it, you can make one of two choices. One, you could let it go, knowing it wasn’t your fault, or you can wallow in self-pity and give no protection to the men and women that you care about and could save. So make a choice and maybe think outside of yourself when you do.”

 Mallick turned to go, but Gregg stopped him, saying, “I’ll help.”

 Mallick smiled. “You made the right choice. As did Zion.”

 He pointed to where she was standing with Symphonie, tears still running down her face, but looking determined nonetheless.

 Gregg saw Zion, standing up from the biggest blow of her life, but ready for the next step, and was impressed with her strength. 

 “I won’t just help,” Gregg said, extending his shield. “I’ll fight.”




 Prince Timothy III ran through the halls of Ounfarni, speeding to Gahamarah’s chambers. He sprinted by room after room as he dashed his way towards her. He stopped in the doorway, out of breath and sweating like crazy. Gahamarah was lying down on her sleeping ledge. She opened her eyes as he walked into the room.

 Child, what are you doing here? I thought I told you to leave. Why didn’t you?

 “Because Odious and his men stopped us from leaving. Remember when I told you they were coming? Oh, and I came here to see if he‘d found you yet.”

 Ahh . . .  yes. I remember now. And no one but you has entered here . . .  I think. I may have missed them.

 She reached forward, touching a gemstone, which suddenly created a map on the wall. 

 There are only the two of us in my chambers, unless Odious has somehow created a way to hide from Unduthy tracking devices. She continued to search the map, seeming to be looking for something specific. They seem to be in the vault. 

 Timothy said, “How long do you have?”

 Not long. Maybe ten minutes, at the most. You need to fight Odious, or you’ll never escape.

 “Do I even stand a chance against him and the Bloodcloaks? I’m just one man, I can’t beat fifty others, especially since one can turn into a dragon?”

 Maybe it’s hopeless, but you still need to fight. If you win here, you could forestall a war that would take more lives than this battle could, even if every Elf and human here dies. And, with me dying in the next little bit, you will Ascend into the position of a high royal dragon, giving you power greater than all others in this world.

 “But Odious holds this power too, doesn’t he? And he’s more practiced with the power; how will I beat him?”

 You can, child. You’ll know what to do once the power takes you. Ahh, Gahamarah sighed, I’m going now, small prince. I’ll see you once you reach me

 She raised her head and said in a rumbling, gravelly, tired voice. “You will win today, Prince Timothy. You’ll See. You’ll Hear. You’ll Know. He ignores the Voices of the Past, but you’ll win if you listen to them.” 

 She set her head back down and sighed. Timothy kneeled by her snout and rested his head on her nose and heard, quietly, in the back of his mind. Goodbye, little prince . . .

 The last breath came out from the great dragon’s lungs, then she died.

 Timothy wept, for what the world had just lost, no gain could make up. He closed his eyes, for he needed to block out what had just happened. He stayed this way for a long time.

 But then, he felt something, a great stirring deep within himself. He reached out, sorrow forgotten, and mentally pressed into the formless void he felt. There was something inside the void, a great power, Gahamarah’s power. He brushed it, and it found him, latching onto him, rushing through him. And he Saw. He Heard. He Understood. He heard the Voices of the Past, and listened to them, as she had told him to.

 He opened his eyes and heard, faintly, deep in his mind. Good job, child.

Chapter Eight


Chapter 8

The Last Stand.

(A chance to make things right)



 Prince Timothy III moved with a purpose he hadn’t felt since, well, ever. The Voices of the Past were a constant whisper, giving him advice, showing him the way to go. For some reason, they were telling him to go the long way. He went the direction they told him to go, as Gahamarah had said to follow their advice.



 Gahamarah was the other cause for his movement. Her death had been a wakeup call to Timothy. He wasn’t going to kill Odious for revenge, but instead to prevent more events such as what had happened today. He was going to stop the insatiable greed of Odious.

 And, Timothy thought, I should probably admit, at least to myself, that it’s a little bit about revenge.

 As he walked, he picked up tips on what to do with his new powers, like how to turn into his dragon form and how to shoot fire, amongst other things, while in dragon form. He came to where the Voices were telling him to go.

 The Voices whispered to him to go, fight, win. So he ran, heading to the vault, with no hesitance in his steps. He flew past his sleeping chambers and the kitchen. He passed the entrance that led to the beach. 

 He was almost to the vault when he ran into Gregg, literally. He tumbled to the floor and rolled into the wall. His healing started up almost immediately, causing his pains to fade as soon as they started. 

 Well, that will be useful, Timothy thought.

 “Timothy, we were just looking for you,” Gregg said. “Where were you?”

 “With Gahamarah as she died,” Timothy responded. Several gasps rose up from the Elves who were with Gregg. 

 One of the Elves stuttered. “The . . .  The Queen of Dragons is . . .  dead? How did this happen?”

 “Odious,” Timothy said simply. The Elves looked at each other in shock. They obviously hadn’t expected this. He looked around for Symphonie or Zion, but didn’t see them. Good. That means that they can’t get hurt.

 “We need to head to the vault,” Timothy said. “That’s where Odious and his men are.”

 Gregg said, “Let’s go.” Timothy didn’t miss the look in his eyes, dangerous and angry. He must’ve lost someone in that battle on the beach.

 Infuse him, yes, yes, give him some power, said the babble of voices in his head. “Gregg, come here,” Timothy said. Once Gregg was next to him, Timothy grabbed his shoulder and  pushed something inside of himself into Gregg, who gasped.

 “Wha- what was that?” he asked, moving more smoothly. “What did you do to me?” 

 “I don’t actually know, but I think I gave you energy to power an Unduthy suit of armor,” said Timothy. “The armor is gray with orange stripes, and it’s in the far north corner. I want you to find it and use it.”

 Gregg nodded and said, “Just one question, what is ‘an Unduthy’?”

 “Oh, right. They were the people that built this city and the wonders in it.”

 “Okay,” Gregg said. “Wait... this was a city?”

 “Yes, Gregg. I thought that was obvious,” Timothy said with a quirked eyebrow.

“Oh, cool. Um, it wasn’t obvious, by the way,” Gregg said. “Also, it might be the lighting, but some of your hair is green.”


 “It’s gree- you know what, never mind. It doesn’t matter.”

 They sneaked up the vault, with one of the Elves stealthily peeking around the corner. 

 “Too many men for us to fight and have a chance of winning, it looks like,” he said.

 Timothy responded, “You’ve never had a dragon on your side, I’m guessing?” He walked into the doorway.

 The Voices were clambering inside of him. Yes, yes, YES! Use the dragon’s body, yes, TRANSFORM!

 They showed him the way, telling him to imagine Gahamarah, roaring with power. As the imaginary Gahamarah’s roar hit its crescendo, Timothy roared, somehow perfectly matching the roar in his mind. It multiplied hundredfold as he took the form of the dragon in his head, unleashing a noise that deafened the Bloodcloaks nearest to him. 

 Odious turned towards him and said, “Ah, Gahamarah! About time you showed up. I was starting to think you weren’t going to try and stop me.”

 He paused here, and Timothy forced his thoughts out into the minds around him. I am not Gahamarah! 

 Based on how almost everyone fell over, Timothy guessed he’d said it really loud, or at least loud enough to rattle them. Odious was the only one in the room still standing. He looked up at him and sneered.

 He said, “So then, I’ll make a guess. Prince Timothy of the Ruhe Kingdom, correct? Did she name you her Heir, or did you land the killing blow on her?” 

 She named me her Heir, you traitor. You ordered her to be killed, and I tried to prevent her death. She thanked me with her last breath. I’ll- 

 “Enough! You’re boring me. Bloodcloaks, attack him!” Odious yelled.

 The Bloodcloaks moved in on Timothy, drawing their weapons and yelling war cries. Timothy focused his thoughts and said, Now!

 Gregg came charging into the vault with the Elven forces on his heels. The Elves engaged the Cloaks closest to them, downing them before they even had a chance to turn and fight. A few of the ones out of the Elves’ reach fell as Timothy lashed out with his massive talons, though most danced away from his claws.

 Timothy welled up power inside him and released it as a stream of fire, aiming it at the remaining Bloodcloaks, a few of whom burnt to a crisp. The Elves moved to engage whoever was left of Odious’s forces. 

 Odious himself turned towards Timothy and roared, shifting into his dragon form. Timothy was struck at how small Odious looked as a dragon. Gahamarah had been enormous by comparison, and he now inhabited her body.

 Odious launched himself at Timothy. As he flew by, he didn’t even notice Gregg sneaking by him to get the armor. Timothy managed to get out of his way, then turned and blasted him in the face with a shot of fire. 

 This did nothing but irritate Odious. 

 Idiot, Odious’s voice popped into his head, dragon scales are immune to fire. You really should try harder.




 Greggory, son of Hermand, scrambled across mounds of treasure, searching for the suit of armor that Timothy had told him to find. It would’ve helped if he’d been told what it actually looked like, not just ‘it’s gray with orange stripes.’ Seriously, Timothy could live with his head in the clouds sometimes. 

 Gregg looked around the north corner and actually spotted the blasted thing. It was standing among other suits of armor, and it did stand out. Maybe Timothy did know how to communicate after all.

 He ran up to the armor, taking off the Elven armor he had been wearing. As he reached out to touch it, a jolt of power jumped from it to his hand, and he stopped short. Gregg shoved his arm forward, placing his palm against the metal before it could zap him. In his mind he heard. Power detected. Mechanized Containment Unit/Heavy activated. Please verbally confirm which dragon the power is from.

 “Uhhh . . .  Prince Timothy III?” Gregg said.


 “Ummm . . .” What had Timothy called the dragon he’d gotten his power from? “Gahamarah?”

 Correct. Access granted.

 The suit stepped forward, then the back opened up, which allowed Gregg to step into it. The armor closed around him and the viser turned transparent. 

 The suit asked. What weapon would you like, sir?

 “How ‘bout an axe,” Gregg said.

 Configuring an axe, said the voice. In his right hand, a pole took shape, and dark green energy extended out and shaped itself into a wicked-looking blade. Complete. Is the weapon to your satisfaction?

 Gregg took a few experimental swings with the axe. It swung cleanly through the air, and even cut completely through one of the suits of armor he hit accidentally. “This is awesome!”

 Is it to your satisfaction?

 “Definitely,” Gregg declared. 

 He turned and charged towards the fight between the Elves and the Bloodcloaks. He hit like a tidal wave, crashing into the back of the Veri line and slaughtering them. Their weapons and armor offered no resistance as he effortlessly cleaved through them. 

 The wounds he inflicted seemed to instantly cauterize, so no blood escaped from the men he wounded and killed. This seemed to inflict unbearable pain on the ones who were injured, but survived his slaughter. They collapsed, screaming and holding wherever they’d been cut.

 Something crashed into Gregg from behind. He turned around to see a colossal Bloodcloak wearing unique armor and wielding a massive chain and spiked ball. The Cloak spun the ball around his head and sent it flying towards Gregg, who slashed at it with his axe. 

 Sparks flew as the two weapons collided, but Gregg’s axe didn’t cut through the chain. Wha . . . thought Gregg. The ball hit the floor with a crash. Gregg tried to step on it to prevent the Cloak from pulling it back, but he was too slow, and the weapon was whipped away, then sent right back at his face. 

 Gregg reached out and grabbed the chain, then he spun and yanked it out of his opponent’s hand. He threw it across the cavern and hit the crimson dragon that was fighting Timothy. The Cloak grinned and drew his sword, then charged at Gregg, who responded to the challenge by leaping over his opponent and smashing the axe into the Cloak’s back.

 The axe bounced off the armor plating there as it had on the chain, but it sent the Cloak flying, his sword tumbling away from him. Gregg cut through a few other Bloodcloaks to reach his opponent, who’d gotten to his feet and retrieved his sword by the time Gregg reached him. The Cloak fell into a battle stance designed to fight axe wielders, then lunged at him, slamming his sword at the armor’s joints. 

 It did nothing. I didn’t even feel that, Gregg thought. He swung his axe in retaliation and the Cloak blocked it with his sword. 

 Their fight continued to progress slowly, but it soon became apparent that because of the armor, Gregg would win. The Cloak was tiring and Gregg was not, and so he pressed his advantage, unleashing a furious bombardment on the weakened man. 

 The first blow knocked the sword out of the Cloak’s hand. The second broke his arm underneath his offhand’s vambrace. The third sliced through his knee, sending him tumbling to the ground, screaming and cursing. The fourth smashed into his helm, crushing the ground under him, but doing no real harm to the Cloak. 

 The fifth and final blow sliced through his neck and into the rock beneath. Gregg stood up over his fallen opponent, breathing a sigh of relief. He looked around, seeing that the Elves were finishing the remaining Bloodcloaks with minimal casualties. Me neutralizing thirty of them might have had an impact on that, Gregg thought wryly. 

 He turned towards the middle of the cavern, where Timothy was fighting the other dragon. They clashed over and over again, but neither seemed to be able to gain an advantage. 

 Odious slammed into Timothy, knocking him to the ground. Timothy tried to get up, but Odious leaped on top of him, pinning him down. He roared in triumph, then lowered his head to finish Timothy.





 Gregg’s scream rang out across the vault, yanking Prince Timothy III out of his head and back to the real world. Odious was on his chest, poised to make the killing blow, but he’d been distracted by Gregg’s shout. 

 Timothy looked to where the noise had come from and saw the suit of armor he’d told Gregg to find. It was charging at them with a glowing green axe in hand. Gregg must have found it, Timothy thought.

 Gregg leaped at Odious, swinging the axe, which actually cut in a little bit. Odious roared again, but it was in pain this time. He turned away from Timothy to swat the canned nuisance. Gregg dodged the first swipe of the crimson dragon, but got smashed by the second one. Timothy stood up before the Veri king could turn his attention back to him.

 Gregg hit the wall and slid to the ground, slumping over and not moving, but he’d given Timothy enough time to stand up and recover. Odious turned around, giving him a toothy sneer. Your stupid friend fought well, but he never stood a chance against me, just like you. If he somehow survived that, I’ll be sure to kill him after I finish you. He lunged at Timothy, landing on his back and digging his claws in. 

 Timothy, in turn, flipped onto his back, crushing Odious with his massive bulk. He felt something give in his opponent’s chest as Odious let out a strange squawking noise, then Timothy was thrown off of him. Timothy hit the stone floor talons first, whipping around as Odious climbed to his feet. 

 Careful, wait. He will expose himself; yes, yes, he will, the Voices said.

 Odious flicked his tail back and forth as he gasped for breath. He suddenly lashed out with his front talons, raking them across Timothy’s snout. They caught under a few scales, ripping them off and allowing real damage to occur as the second blow landed.

 Timothy roared in pain as he willed his face to heal. Heal, heal, HEAL! chanted the Voices as the flesh closed up, and the scales reknit. 

 Odious had pulled back and was now prowling around Timothy, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. His talons shot forward once he reached Timothy’s flank, the first slicing through his wing, but Timothy managed to bat the second talon away and protect his wing a little.

 His healing power roared through his veins and into his wing, and in a matter of seconds the wound had completely healed. 

 How do your wounds heal so quickly? How do you have a power that I don’t? Odious’s voice said in Timothy’s head.

 I don’t know, Timothy thought back.

 Odious roared in fury, then he feinted to Timothy’s left, then lunged at his right, snapping his jaws at the prince, who dodged out of the way. Before the Veri king could back up, however, Timothy headbutted him, his horns sinking into Odious’s right wing. 

 Timothy pulled back, ripping his horn out of his opponent’s wing and ducked under a talon that had been flying towards his face. Odious used this to grab Timothy around his neck and flipped him over and into a pile of treasure. He landed on something sharp and pointy, which pierced his back, but didn’t do any serious damage.

 Timothy flipped over on to his feet, the healing power forcing out the thing that had impaled him. He now saw that it was an oversized spear. He picked it up and threw it at Odious, but it just bounced off.

 Odious looked at the spear and thought, Is that the best you can do? 

 Then he slammed into Timothy, knocking him over and digging his claws deep into Timothy’s side and then slashed down through his wing again. Timothy had just started roaring in pain as the wounds finished healing. He threw Odious off of him and tried to catch the other dragon with a quick lash, but he missed.

 Odious rammed his head into Timothy’s chest, shoving him across the vault. Timothy tried to push the king’s head away, but he couldn’t get leverage, so he launched into the air. 

 Flying turned out to be more difficult than he’d expected. Well, the motions are coming easily enough, but flying inside a cave is probably harder than in open air. Timothy landed quickly, having only hit his head on the roof twice. 

 Odious had already launched himself at Timothy before he’d landed and plowed into him, forcing Timothy to the ground. Odious opened his mouth to deliver the killing blow, but Timothy shot a burst of flames into the king’s mouth and pushed him off with a wing. The red dragon grabbed his snout, backing away while it healed, which took much longer than it would have for Timothy.

 Timothy stood up as Odious cowered, hiding until he could bear the pain of his charred throat. He didn’t press the advantage he held because the Voices were telling him not to. Instead, he prepared for the next assault that would come once Odious was ready.

 The other dragon stumbled back to his feet, forcing his head up. Odious was obviously still in pain, but he growled at Timothy before leaping at him, claws swinging. Timothy deflected them, rolling to his right and smacking Odious with his wings. His wings were promptly shredded by the claws he’d just redirected. 

 Roaring in pain as his wings healed, Timothy pulled back to regroup, but Odious kept chasing him, forcing him to keep moving or die. 

 Eventually Timothy stopped running. He’d had enough, he was done fleeing, so, instead of leaping away as Odious jumped at him, he lowered his shoulder and slammed the Veri king to the ground. 

 Odious was back on his feet in less than a second, feinting with his left talon, then slashing his right. Timothy bit the feint and was caught in the back by the second set of claws. He grunted as they ripped into his scales and the soft flesh underneath. Timothy was barely noticing the pain that these wounds were causing anymore. His powers closed the wounds as his opponent’s claws were withdrawn, and nothing Odious did seemed to affect Timothy’s healing.

 Timothy felt claws wrap around his tail, then the world was suddenly flipping, and he was slamming into a wall. He felt several ribs snap as he hit, and they didn’t heal as fast as a flesh wound. He scrambled back to his feet just as Odious crashed into him. Timothy’s chest collapsed farther, making it very hard to breathe. He managed to throw the crimson dragon off of himself, then he gave his chest time to heal.

 Once he’d recovered, he stood up and, seeing a boulder flying at him, ducked. Odious followed the massive rock, but Timothy met him, his claws flashing. The two clashed in mid-air, then they crashed down to the ground, but neither scored any blows of note. Odious, however, had managed in mid-air to grab Timothy‘s head and had smashed it under him as they landed.

 Timothy stumbled back to his feet, disoriented and trying to push the Veri king away. Odious laughed at the prince’s feeble attempt to force him back and pulled back, taunting him. Timothy fell forward, and Odious laughed cruelly, obviously thinking he’d won the fight.

 Timothy’s head stopped spinning, and he rolled back to his feet. Odious’s face went from gloating to surprise to rage. The Veri king lunged, and the two dragons clashed, but Timothy was forced backwards by Odious’s attacks.

 Timothy’s tail brushed into something. He glanced behind himself and saw the wall of the vault. He looked back in front of him and saw the wicked expression on Odious’s face.

 Looks like you’ve run out of room and time, Odious thought, spinning around and slamming his tail into Timothy’s mouth, knocking a few teeth out and causing him to turn a little bit. Something primal suddenly welled up inside Timothy, and he used the momentum from the blow to spin around and lash out with his back claws, which caught Odious in the chin and shoulder.  

 Deep bloody gashes now showed on Odious’s shoulder where Timothy’s claws had slashed, cutting through scales and sinew like it was butter. Timothy whirled around and smashed his claws into Odious’s face as the red dragon stumbled. It didn’t cut as much this time, but it had been meant as a blunt force blow.

 Odious’s face slammed into the stone floors, and Timothy slammed his tail down onto the Veri king’s uninjured shoulder, dislocating his wing. Yes, yes, YES, the Voices said. You’ve got the traitor now! 

 Timothy pulled back, circling Odious and waiting to see what he would do. Odious struggled to get up and to turn to face Timothy, but then collapsed and lay still, letting his injuries heal a little. Get him now, yes, YES, now! screamed the Voices, so Timothy lunged.

 Odious pushed himself up, rearing and flashing his claws towards Timothy’s neck. It appeared that he could heal faster if he rested. The wounds on his shoulder seemed to be mostly healed, despite being cripplingly injured moments before. 

 He changed his Focus, yes, yes, beware, yes, yes, said the Voices of the Past.

 The blow missed and his wounds stopped healing, and so Odious turned, limping on his injured leg, as Timothy spun away and jumped onto a pile of treasure. He whirled around and leapt at the Veri king, knocking him onto his sliced-up shoulder. Then Timothy pinned him to the ground. 

 Odious actually had a look of fear in his eyes as Timothy grabbed the back of his opponent’s neck and slammed his head to the floor. You have no idea what you’re about to do, Odious thought, sounding panicked. If I don’t return to my people by tomorrow morning, they’ll attack all the surrounding nations.

 But they won’t have a dragon to protect them any more, and my side will have me, Timothy thought as he raised his head. For Gahamarah, you bastard.

 He bit down hard on Odious’s neck and was shocked by the feeling of the Veri king’s bones snapping as he crushed them. Warm blood spilled into his mouth, and though he almost vomited, he held on until Odious stopped struggling. Timothy let go of his opponent’s corpse and lifted his own head, roaring, exulting in his victory, but also cringing at what he’d had to do to get it. 

 Then he remembered Gregg, lying on the floor next to the wall, and rushed over, transforming back to his human form. He saw that the suit of armor was heavily damaged and Gregg’s blood covered some of the pointy bits of twisted metal. Timothy pulled back the armor, using strength from his newfound powers to bend the durable metal.

 He yanked Gregg out of the armor and saw, to his surprise and joy, that he’d healed from the wounds that had covered the spikes of metal with blood. Timothy pulled him out of the suit and pressed a little healing power into him. 

Chapter Nine


Chapter 9

A victory and a loss.

(The journey draws to a close)


 Greggory, son of Hermand, woke when a jolt of power ran through him. Everything was black and he wondered if he was dead, but then he heard Timothy’s voice saying, “Gregg, get up. We need to get moving. I know you’re awake, so open your eyes and stand up."


 Oh . . .  That’s why I can’t see, thought Gregg as he did as Timothy told him. Light entered his eyes, and he saw his friend’s face looming over him. Skaiha’s great breath, his hair is green!

 He pushed himself up, bonking heads with Timothy as he sat up. 

 “Whoa now, slow down, Gregg. I lied about us having to move, I just wanted you to get up,” Timothy said. 

 Gregg let himself flop back so he was lying down again, “Your hair’s fully green now,” he said, chuckling a little. “Serves you right for your lies.” 

 Timothy reached up and grabbed a strand of hair, yanking it out and seeing that it was indeed green, “Hmm . . .  Odious’s hair was the same color as his scales and mine is the same shade as Gahamarah’s, I mean, my scales,” he said, thinking. “Maybe the power’s Inheritor’s hair changes to match the original body’s scales.” 

 A shout rang out across the cavern, “Check crys-comms for an incoming update!” 

 Gregg sat back up and looked down to find his, but when he looked into the pocket where he’d put it, he found it shattered, Must have been smashed when Odious hit me.

 Since he couldn’t listen on his own, Gregg stood up and walked over to where Captain Cyrene was standing, “What’s going on?”

 She shushed him, and Gregg tilted his head to listen to the message. He pretended to understand, even going so far as to nod his head occasionally, but it was in Elvish, and he couldn’t tell what they were saying. 

 The message ended and Cyrene looked at him, saying, “You did not really understand, did you?”

 “Nope,” Gregg responded, “not a word.”

 “They said,'' she said, glaring at him, “that there were two Bloodcloaks who did not come into the city with Odious to fight us. They remained up on the beach and ambushed the crys-tech engineers. According to the report, it was a slaughter. Twenty-six Elves and seven humans died before the Marines and remaining humans managed to kill them.”  

 “Did they say who died?”

 “No, it would have taken too long,” Cyrene answered. “The admiral ordered for them to immediately retreat back to the fleet. We are to also head back as fast as possible. Once they see us on the beach, they will send a longship to pick us up.”

 Timothy walked over. He’d clearly been listening to the last part and said, “There’s no need for them to send a boat. I can just fly everyone over to the ships!” He looked quite excited by this prospect. 

 “Okay, I suppose that would work,” Cyrene said. “Anyway, we need to get moving.”

 She turned to the rest of the Elves and spoke loudly in their tongue. The other Elves moved quickly towards the exit, carefully laying down the bodies of their fallen comrades. Gregg and Timothy followed them out. As they ran, Gregg asked. “Did you hear the part about a few humans being dead?”

 Timothy looked confused, then worried. “No, did you get the names of those who died?”

 “No,” Gregg said, “Cyrene, the Elven captain, said that they hadn’t relayed names because it would take too long, and they wanted to get off the beach. So no, I didn’t get any names.” 

 Timothy suddenly showed a burst of speed and ran ahead of everyone else, rounding the corner and running out of sight. By the time Gregg and the remaining Elves reached the beach,  Timothy was walking between the rows of corpses, clearly looking for familiar faces. Gregg hurried over to him and asked. 

 “Anyone you recognize yet?” 

 Gregg winced as he saw quite a few of the Elves he’d sparred with lying amidst the lines of the fallen. He ran their names through his head as he saw them. Kedesh. Dothan. Neapolis. Patara. Elon. Kartah. Idalah. Sychar. No . . .

 “A few from the villages near the keep,” Timothy responded, his voice tense and full of emotion, breaking Gregg’s line of thought, “and a few royal guards, including Lieutenant Mallick Werner. I’m looking through the Elves to show respect. Their sacrifice allows me to go home, and I should at least thank them . . .” 

 He trailed off here, his eyes landing on the face of a woman he’d once pursued.


 Zion was dead.

 Gregg fell to his knees. He’d known that quite a few Elves had died, but he hadn’t thought that Zion would be among those lost in the battle. A tear formed in the corner of his eye. It ran down his face and was followed by another, and another, and another.

 The day after Timothy had been taken, he’d seen her as cold and aloof. But, as the journey had continued, he’d learned about her life, her fears, and her courage. He’d learned that she was half-Elf and that she feared not fitting in because of it. He’d learned that she was kind and generous, without regard for herself, once she knew there was a need. He’d found inspiration in her courage and her strength when his had failed. 

 He reached out and took her hand, whispering, “Thank you.”

 Gregg dropped Zion’s hand and looked up at Timothy, who had a tear in his eye. When he saw Gregg looking, he said, “We’ll need to return for the bodies soon. These people are heros and deserve a proper send-off, not to be left rotting on a beach in the middle of the sea.”

 He turned his gaze to the fleet and continued, “I’ll talk to the admiral of the fleet about what we can do about the burial. If it was because he feared an attack while getting the bodies to a ship, I’m certain all the Veri are dead. And so-”

 “Timothy, we need to get to the fleet,” Gregg said.

 “Oh, right,” he responded. “Sorry, I got distracted.”

 “I hadn’t noticed,” Gregg said, trying to sound light-hearted, but failing. 

 Timothy walked to an empty spot on the beach and began to transform. Suddenly he morphed into his dragon form, roaring loudly. 

 Alright everyone, get on my back so we can get out of here, he spoke into their minds, much less head splittingly loud than the last time, as his roar subsided. The remaining Elves and Gregg all climbed on Timothy’s back, and Gregg said, “We’re ready.”

 Hold on tight, Timothy thought back. He spread his wings and launched into the sky.




 Prince Timothy III stood on the deck of the Elven flagship Higher Purpose, looking out at the flaming longboats. It was evening, and the sun was setting behind the ships as they took their final voyage. There were four, each one holding the bodies of Elves and humans who had given their life to get him back home. So, he had decided he’d watch until the last ship went down, the bodies on board burned and the souls sent to Skaiha’s Bands or to the Crusts of the Underworld, depending on how they’d lived. He hoped they all went to the Bands, as their last actions in life had been that of tremendous sacrifice.

 As the last one sank beneath the waves, Timothy turned and saw the Elven admiral also watching the flaming longboats slip beneath the sea’s surface. The golden-bearded Elf cut an impressive figure, even in his great age, as he gazed solemnly out at the sea. He’d performed a ceremony honoring those that fell on the island and in the fleet, which had been broadcast on the strange amethyst crystals throughout the fleet.

 Timothy turned and walked away from the railing, lost in thought about the events of the last few weeks. He wished that he could have been less stupid on his wedding night, retreating into the keep with everyone else, where he would have been safe from Odious. If he’d done that, none of those Elves or humans would have died. His life would have been normal if he’d just put his pride behind him. 

 “Wait,” the wizened admiral said.

 Timothy instinctually stopped, only processing what the Elf had said after. He turned around and waited as Corinth slowly turned towards him. 

 “You should know that everyone on this mission knew the risks,” the admiral said. “You are not at fault for the actions of any other being on this planet.” The Elf looked back out to the sunset. “You can only really control what you do, so learn to be ready, so that when others make decisions that hurt themselves or others, you are in position to jump in and save what you can. That is the job of a leader, to be the one that cuts the losses when others mess up. And people will mess up; it is in our nature.”

 “Umm . . .  Thanks for the advice,” Timothy said awkwardly. Corinth nodded brusquely and walked off to supervise the night sailing shift. Timothy wandered around, lost in thought, trying to make sense of what the Elf had said, but he just ended up thinking about his own failures and the pain and suffering they’d caused. He looked at the Elves bustling, and thought how they surely hated him for causing the deaths of their friends. He saw Gregg talking to some of the Elves. Gregg glanced Timothy’s way, then excused himself from the group, walking over to his friend and slapping him across the face. Timothy looked at him in shock, mouth gaping.

 “What?” Gregg asked. “You were moping, so I decided to snap you out of it, or slap you out of it!” He laughed, but when Timothy didn't follow suit, he stopped, saying, “When you get like that, it’s never good.”

 “Yeah, maybe,” said a disgruntled Timothy. “But what if I want to be lost in self-pity? Did you consider that, Gregg?”

 “Yes, I did,” Gregg leveled Timothy a flat stare, “but I also decided that you’re no longer a child and that you need to look outside of yourself for a minute. That is a little something I learned from Mallick, before he died,” he said, wincing, but then he nodded in Symphonie’s direction. She was sitting next to the center mast, knees tucked up to her chest, crying.

 “I think,” Gregg said, softly and deliberately, “that your future wife needs your attention.”

 Timothy’s face softened when he saw his soon-to-be wife. According to Gregg, she had been the one to propose the journey, “Okay, point taken. I’ll go talk to her.”

 He walked over to where Symphonie was and sat down next to her, pulling her into a hug. She looked up at him, then leaned into his shoulder. He reached up and stroked her hair as she cried into his arm. They sat like that until well after the sun fell behind the horizon. Chaviter, the moon of misfortune and ruin, was close behind it, but Tainlefi, the moon of patience and love, was just rising in the northern sky. 

 They sat there for a while longer, Timothy stargazing with Symphonie crying herself to sleep on his chest. Once her breathing leveled out, he leaned his head down on hers, shut his eyes and fell asleep.

 Timothy’s dream was confusing. He’d been baking a batch of bread, but then the oven had transformed into Odious and he’d started spewing fire everywhere, incinerating Tobias and everyone else in the kitchen. Then Odious had clawed his way through the castle, burning everyone and everything in his path.

 Timothy had seen Wacher, only recognizable by the small unburned part of his captain’s coat. He’d seen the Castle Guard rush to avenge the death of their captain, but they’d been sliced to bits. He saw his father, the great King Xavier, charging the beast who was attacking his castle and killing his subjects. Xavier survived longer than anyone else but Gregg, who had Aria, his wife, cowering behind him. They were both reduced to ashes when the crimson dragon turned towards them. 

 And Timothy couldn't do anything to help them. He was stuck following Odious as he slaughtered the entire population of Keep Ruhe and the surrounding villages, forced to watch as everyone he knew and loved was murdered.

 Symphonie shook him awake. The sun was rising. “Are you all right?” she asked. “You were shaking like one of Veris’s demons had possessed you.”

 “I’m fine, it was just a nightmare,” said Timothy. “I’m good.” I think, he thought, but didn’t say. “Are you good? I know Zion’s, uhh . . .  passing . . .  hurt you. I mean to say, if you need to talk to someone, I’ll listen.”

 She sighed, her face falling as she looked away, “Thanks for the offer, but I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

 “Okay,” Timothy said. “Well, when you’re ready, just come find me.”

 He stood up and went to grab some breakfast, getting in line behind the many Elves who were starting their day late after the late night mourning the death of their comrades. They were certainly more solemn than he suspected they’d been at the beginning of the voyage. Come to think of it, I’m probably more solemn than before. Timothy thought as a large Elf wearing a smock put some hardtack and salted fish on his platter. He tried his best to smile in thanks at the cook, but it felt like he was trying to swallow something bitter. 

 Timothy turned away from the Elf, hurrying to find a place to eat. He found a spot near the front of the Higher Purpose without many others nearby. He forced himself to eat the food on his plate, though he felt nauseous with guilt. But still, both Gregg and Admiral Corinth had told him to stop moping and try to help others. That would, maybe, quell some of his guilt, as he worked to heal the world. 

 Yes, yes, this is an acceptable use of your power, the Voices said. They’d been quiet since he’d left his dragon form, only occasionally saying something.

 Resolving to work towards the good of the world, Timothy finally felt some of his guilt and pain lifting.




 Greggory, son of Hermand, stood on the bow of the Higher Purpose as it pulled into the Elven Imperial capital Lilastad's port four days later. Timothy was standing next to him, smiling, the wind whipping his hair. Gregg thought about how Timothy had gotten better as the voyage went on, but how the experiences of these past few weeks had changed him. He was no longer the more relaxed Timothy who had been Gregg’s friend less than a month ago, but instead a solemn, more serious man.

 Still, he was Gregg’s friend, and he’d go to the Crust before he let Timothy mope around for the rest of his life, which Gregg was certain he would have done if he hadn’t forced his thoughts towards helping others. 

 In a way, whatever great things Timothy did next, Gregg was responsible, because he’d been the one to push him over the edge.

 The Higher Purpose pulled over to the pier, deckhands throwing ropes down to the stevedores waiting below to tie the ship to the dock. The gangplank was lowered, and the crew and passengers disembarked. 

 On the dock, Gregg saw as he and Timothy walked down, waited King Antioch XIV and, surprisingly, King Xavier. Timothy spotted his father and let out a shout, running and grabbing him in a hug. Gregg sidled up to his king and bowed once Timothy let go of him. 

 Symphonie walked over to them and also bowed to the king. She’d talked to Timothy about what had been bothering her on the third day of the voyage and came out looking a lot better. Gregg hadn’t been a part of that conversation, but Timothy hadn’t been a part of a lot of talks with Gregg’s wife, so it was fine.

 Timothy started talking to his father, but Gregg only started following the discussion when he heard the words “Veri” and “attack”.

 “Wait, what’s happening, and why haven’t I heard about this before now?” Gregg said, looking accusingly at Timothy. 

 “Because,” Timothy responded, “I forgot about Odious’s threat until Father told me that it had come to fruition. So, what’s happened, Dad?”

 King Xavier took time to compose his thoughts before saying, “We’ve fought well and the Veri, with their allies, have retreated back to the lands they held before the conflict. I came to ask the Elves for help, as the messenger they sent said they would, due to the alliance you forged with the Elves,” he said, nodding at Symphonie. “With their help we can finish this war, once and for all.

 “Unfortunately, the enemies burned everything down in the lands they captured when they retreated. It will take years to rebuild what was destroyed. The Elves have promised us help after the war to supply workers and materials to help the rebuilding effort, as well as some soldiers for when the inevitable siege of Grendish Irin comes.

 “But, before we leave, you, my son, and you, Symphonie, must be married.”

 Gregg grinned at this. Weddings were great, and it was exactly what they needed. He’d expected this, too, and he'd be Timothy’s best man, and that meant he got a lot of attention. 




(Two days later)

 Gregg stood on a platform in the royal Elven rousing speech stage area thingie. He didn’t know its real name, which was Elvish, so that was what he called it. 

 Timothy walked down the aisle, wearing his wedding coat, something Gregg had been certain that Timothy would never get to wear. Timothy took his place on the stage next to the old Skaihan priest in his purple and silver robes. Gregg watched as the crowd of humans, Elves and even some Dwarves hurried in.

 Gregg had never seen a Dwarf before and was surprised to see that they looked mostly like humans, except shorter and far more muscular. The stories he’d heard when he’d been younger had portrayed them as fat and ugly, wielding massive axes as they mercilessly cut down human after human, and these imaginings had endured into his adulthood. They did indeed carry huge axes, but they looked pleasant and jovial, not at all bloodthirsty. Their armor was beautiful overlapping plates of metal partially plated in gold and silver.

 The guests began finding their seats. Good timing too, thought Gregg. The ceremony is about to start.

 Soon after he thought this, the procession got under way, the Elven dancers leaping out in front of the rest. Then came the bridesmaids and groomsmen, followed by Timothy’s father and Symphonie’s family. Then the priest started the religious monologue that always preceded the vows. 

 “We have gathered here today, in front of Skaiha, to celebrate the union of two young people. As we all know. . .” Gregg zoned out. All the openings were basically the same. Crusts, he hadn’t even paid attention to his own wedding’s opening, really. Instead he’d been staring into Aria’s eyes. But here he was looking out for potential dangers, so he was doing something useful while he wasn’t paying attention.

 The vows began, and Gregg’s attention turned back to the ceremony. 

 “Do you, Prince Timothy III, take this woman as your lawfully wedded wife?”

 “I do.”

 “And you, Lady Symphonie, daughter of Lord Edel, take this man as your lawfully wedded husband?”

 “I do.”

 “Then, in the name Skaiha, the Great Goddess of Life, I pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.”

 The crowd erupted with applause and cheers as the newlywed’s lips met. They kissed for a good thirty seconds before breaking apart, then turned to have their wedding patches sewn onto each of their wedding coat’s left shoulder. 

 Once this was finished, Timothy picked Symphonie up and brought her to the arch at the entrance, setting her down just outside, then stepped over himself, signifying the start of their new life together.

 Gregg watched them fondly as the reception began. He watched as the dancing started, and he felt a hand on his arm. He turned to see Aria, so he took her hand. After the first dances ended and the free-for-all began, she pulled him onto the dancefloor. And as they danced the night away, Gregg finally felt at peace for the first time in almost a month.

Chapter Ten


Chapter 10

Really the end.

 (Ten years later)


 Queen Symphonie of the Ruhe Kingdom, daughter of Edel and wife of King Timothy III, strode slowly down a hallway in the Ruhe castle, carrying her one-year old son, Phillip II, and her nine-year old daughter, Zion, on her heels. Ashtyn, their five-year old son, clung to her dress, but stopped when he saw a bird flying outside of a window. He ran to get a better look, but she called him back.

 Together, they walked towards the front doors of the keep. Timothy was getting back today from inspecting and assisting the rebuilding effort in what was once the Veri Kingdom and it would be the first time he’d meet their second son.

 All three of their children had at least a streak of the color green Timothy’s hair was running through theirs. It reminded Symphonie of Timothy every time she saw them, which was good. He was away frequently and for long periods of time. In fact, it seemed like Zion might be scared of him because of how long he’d been away. She’d been resistant to coming, but, as Symphonie had told her, she would go or she would go to bed. 

 The great oaken doors swung open as they approached, the guards saluting as their queen passed. Gregg, dear Greggory, stood outside, waiting for his best friend with Aria and their two sons, who ran and tumbled around them. When Aria saw them coming, she called, “Mallick, Kai, stand up and straighten your shirts! The queen approaches!” 

 The two boys stood up, brushing off their shirts and looking slightly abashed. Symphonie smiled at them as they tried to clean their shirts and bow at the same time. Kai, who was six, ran over to Ashtyn and showed him an interesting-looking, moss-covered rock he’d found earlier. Ashtyn looked at the rock in amazement, turning it over so he could see each side in the sun’s light. 

 Symphonie smiled fondly as her son, his eyes alight, investigated the rock, but her thoughts were interrupted by a cry from the walls.

 “Carriage approaching, my queen!”

 “Open the gates!” Symphonie called to the guards. The gates swung open as a grey  carriage with gold and dark green trim rolled up to them. It stopped in front of the stairs and, after the coachman opened the door, a tall and powerfully built man with dark green hair hopped out. 

 Timothy, Symphonie thought.

 He ran up the steps and, once Ashtyn saw him, picked the little boy up with a huge grin on his face. Ashtyn squealed with delight as his father tossed him into the air, then caught him, setting him down, then turned to Zion, who grabbed her mother’s dress and tried to hide behind it.

 Timothy looked down at his daughter and asked, “Why are you afraid?” He hugged Symphonie, careful not to squash Phillip as he did so.

 “Because you’re big and you have weird hair and I don’t know you!” Zion said, tears in her eyes.

 Timothy went down on one knee and cupped Zion’s face in a hand, brushing her tears off her face, which he tilted up so she was looking him in the eyes and said, “I know. That’s why I’m here, so you can get to know me, and I can get to know you. I’ll be with you as long as I can. And,” he continued, “it’s now safe enough that you and Mother and your brothers can all now come with me when I leave.”

 Symphonie was shocked by this statement, “You mean we can travel with you now?” she asked. “You’ll take us with you?”

 “Yes, my dear, I will,” said Timothy as he kissed the top of his daughter’s head. “You can all come with me now, if I need to travel.” 

 Symphonie watched as he stood up and looked at his family and friends, appearing satisfied. He spoke a few moments later, saying, “And I feel that our adventures have just begun.”




For now. . .



Edited by The Storming Stormfather
Sorry life got storming hectic and I forgot to add the rest
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K, I’m posting something here to remind myself to take a look at it. If and probably when I do look at it, do you want feedback? I can get nitty gritty about it, ask anyone that has let me give feedback about their writing, so if you do let me have a look at it from a non-official English teacher standpoint, you have been warned.

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1 hour ago, Mystic Syn said:

K, I’m posting something here to remind myself to take a look at it. If and probably when I do look at it, do you want feedback? I can get nitty gritty about it, ask anyone that has let me give feedback about their writing, so if you do let me have a look at it from a non-official English teacher standpoint, you have been warned.

Sure, I'll take some feedback. I might write more stories on this world in the future, so any pointers might be useful. 

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14 hours ago, The Storming Stormfather said:

Sure, I'll take some feedback. I might write more stories on this world in the future, so any pointers might be useful. 

Cool beans. Just know, when I do take the time to look at this and give feedback, I am not a professional and do not know everything there is to know about writing.

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56 minutes ago, Mystic Syn said:

Cool beans. Just know, when I do take the time to look at this and give feedback, I am not a professional and do not know everything there is to know about writing.

That's fine. I hope you enjoy it!

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