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Dragon Mark

 
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10/6/2008 0:03:14   
mastin2
Member

Dragon Mark


Mastin





Prologue
The Gifted, The Cursed


Carnage. Pure, simple carnage, mixed with terrible roars of death and destruction. This is not a battle. In battle, loses are nearly equal.

Massacre is more accurate. When one side of a fight barely takes a scratch, that is massacre. Venat soars above his men, powerless. He is not the side doing the killing.

This is no ordinary battle. This would be the end of the Dragon War, the final ‘battle’. Either his side or his foe’s side would win. So far, it had not been his side that the fates favored.

The fates do not favor me. No. That is not quite true. The fates nearly always favor good over evil. But dragons are the only ones bound by fate. Humans…we came here to fight our last battle on their planet. They are not bound by fate. In truth, they are what decides the outcome, not fate. Evil won them over. So evil will win.

Venat sends a powerful blast of magic at another dragon, slaying it. I cannot let humans undo fate. They ignore it…but those similar to myself…

The truth hits Venat. His fate he knows…but a plan is formed. So, it will be my fate to perish on this battlefield. The leader of good will die here, as will all good. But if this works…then fate will rule over humans. I will form a prophecy…and that prophecy will rule their lives. It will be a blessing…but also a curse. Many will fall. There will be death…but good shall not perish in this fight.

He is weakening. A wound in his neck sends streaks of pain through his body; an earlier encounter with a dragon champion begins to haunt him. His breathing is labored. His forces are shrinking. It will be minutes until his defeat. He will have to hope that those minutes are enough time to accomplish his goal.


He scans the battlefield. The dragons coming to the human world had nearly destroyed their planet. The massive magical duels had leveled cities. In the short time since they had come, the human race had nearly lost everything.

…yet this is what he is seeking. Humans. Not the soldiers below, aiding in the massacre of his troops. Innocent humans who would understand his cause. If he won, he’d help rebuild the human race for the better. He caused the destruction; he would try to undo it. But that is a fantasy he knows will not come true. He knows he’ll lose, so he prays humans will understand.

He would help, then leave. But his opponents would not. The evil dragons would not leave, but rather, betray their pact with the slayers and conquer the humans. He can only pray that his efforts will not be in vain. That humans will have a chance at living.

He spots a large group of people. The are probably watching the battle mostly taking place in the canyon below and the skirmishes in the skies above. They may be all that is left of a city.

The location was once a forest. A great city had once been nearby. Now, magic had morphed their home into a desert. The humans below are some of very few still inhabiting the area peacefully. They may not be the only, or even the largest, group, but they are the closest.

He flies up to them. Soaring above them on good winds, he swoops down. They are nearly knocked down by his strength, so he dives into the canyon, allowing only his head to stick up.

“Terrified of me? I am not surprised. I am a dragon. I am the scourge of the skies, the destroyer of civilization. I won’t lie to you; that much is true. I’m fighting a war. In war, things are destroyed. You look upon the losing side. Albeit unintentionally, I’ve caused great harm. But I am not evil. I speak the truth. It is up to you to listen; ignore me if you wish. I won’t force you to listen. I tell you my story, now, for the good of mankind…”


He tells them the truth. Telepathically, he shows them what has happened. The wars long since passed on a dozen different worlds. The fights. The desperation. They all listen. They show sympathy; they are not evil. He instructs them on the ways of magic.

“And now, I leave you one last gift.” Venat breathes over all of them. The warm breath seems to somehow change them. “You all bear The Mark, now. It will spread to all of your direct relatives. Even so, you, here, will remain the strongest. The younger ones will forget this all upon my passing. For those who remember, you have one simple task: teach them everything…when the time is right. Goodbye; I wish you luck.”

With those words, Venat charged back into battle. He met a gruesome end within five minutes. Another five minutes later, and the battle ended. Evil had won. But the older members of that group did not forget. They would raise the others, keeping hope alive. Good had just passed to the next generation…
Post #: 1
10/6/2008 0:04:31   
mastin2
Member

Chapter One:
Tattoos of Magic


Ryan D. Siwel parries another blow, swiftly striking back. He smiles as his small opponent leaps back. His opponents are three young children; he was instructed to teach them a few weeks ago.

While he is not good with children, he accepted them. He understands why others would want him to teach them; theoretically, he is one of the best swordsmen around. He takes a second to brush his right hand through his brown hair. It is a sign to attack.

Another charges from the left, coordinating with the third from behind. He swerves until he is in a position to block both at once. As soon as the blows are about to hit, he parries with his wooden training swords.

“Good!” He thrusts at one of the two, scaring the young man off. For the other, he delivers a soft punch to the gut.

“A coordinated attack is key in any fight. Whether it be a dragon, a single man, or an army, just charging into battle will get you killed. With strategy, though, any fight can be won.”

“Wyan, tat hurt!”

“And how do you think a real sword feels? A punch to the gut is nothing. I could aim at other, extremely more painful places. A real foe would. In time, you will learn to anticipate those attacks and evade them. That is, if you want to live. Real foes use real swords.”

The oldest of the three speaks up. He can’t be much older than seven, but training starts at a young age. “It depends.”

“What?”

“How much a real sword hurts. A sword to the leg is painful. But a sword to the neck or head is painless because you would die.”

“Good logic! It’s true as well. Technically, it would hurt, but the pain would only last seconds.”

“What if spiwits feel pain?”

“Then I suppose it would hurt even more. But without a spirit to talk to, if you even believe in spirits, I have no way of knowing. But you three are learning how to fight, not how to become a philosopher.”

“Yes, Sir Ryan.”

“Oh, I’m not ‘sir’ just yet, though I do appreciate the compliment. Now, to work on swordsmanship. I specialize on tactics and that. You finished the tactics session of the day just now. So on to your skills with a sword. For other things, such as, philosophy, you have other teachers for.”

“I heard you’re a good bowman as well, Sir Ryan. Why don’t you teach us that?”

“Oh, I’m only an amateur. My bow skills are basic, at best. Most of my knowledge of how to use them comes from years ago. I’m a bit rusty. I might be able to use a bow, but certainly not how to teach others to do it. There are much better archery teachers out there. Now, shall we?”

The four practice for another hour. Ryan calls it a day after striking the oldest with a jab. While some teachers expect students to be able to surpass them in some shape or form, Ryan knows better. They’re still so young with much to learn, against an expert theoretical swordsman. Many more sessions will be required before they can hope to hit him; he knows that. “Keep practicing! You three will soon join the Dragoslan Warriors with that skill, just like me.”

When the three run off to practice, Ryan is left alone. He sits down and rests for a while. Knowing that he’ll eventually be on guard duty, he puts on his leather armor. He wears the standard military issue sandals. He wears light armor around his legs. For his upper arms, he wears similar gear. For his lower, a simple leather guard does fine. Leather gloves suit him fine as gauntlets.

He finds his real sword and straps it to his belt. He takes a quick glance around the area. From what he has heard, the area was once two amusement parks in one before the reset. The reset…the time everything changed. Why can’t I remember anything from that period of time?

Whatever it was, though, it now houses the few thousand Dragoslan Warriors and about five-hundred civilians. It now serves as Enchanted Wave Fort. It suits all of their needs, with enough environments for anybody’s tastes. Amongst the diverse environments are a forest, a desert, and a lake.

Outside is much more desolate, much less habitable, though. Only desert stretches for miles upon miles. The only landmark within visual range is the Canyon. Some say it was once a creek, river, or road. They are not sure. Whatever it was, it now is a seemingly endless gap in the earth, continuing on for miles. While it is rumored that across the canyon many miles away, a forest is said to lie, there is no evidence of this. Sure, survivors exist in other areas of the world. But scouting parties have searched for the forest and found nothing. For all serious purposes, the fort is the only real place to live.

All of the survivors from the reset live in the fort. Those that set out without a predetermined point to turn back never return. The fort is their only hope of living. His section is one of three; it is the smallest, reserved for only the elite. All of his surviving family lives there, albeit in different locations.

With nothing better to do, Ryan begins wandering around his section. Nearly everyone there he knows. In a section with only a few hundred calling it home, people learn to speak with other people to maintain sanity.

He wanders past a metal barrier. It is comprised of several sections of slightly rusted metal, with gaps located everywhere. It runs many feet above, but serves no real purpose. Several colors once existed there; now, he only sees the rust. It could not possibly have any purpose to a mindset like Ryan’s.

At least, not anymore. His father, when Ryan is that bored, talks about the past often. While his father taught him everything he did not instinctively know not involving fighting, Ryan finds himself at a distance from him. In his revering, his father insists it was once on of Ryan’s favorite rides years ago. All Ryan can see is a lump of metal, waiting to be melted down.

A large grind informs Ryan that somebody is working on the rails. My father is nearby. Ryan signs. He’s working on connecting another one of these things together. I am glad I no longer have to live on that mobile home. The only reason this metal remains is that he somehow managed to convince people that it was worth it. Emergency sources of transportation, or something like that. In truth, it is because he interlinked them for nothing more than a memento of the past.

He keeps on walking, ignoring the sounds. He knows that he is in the center of his section; he has a choice of where to go. He can view nearly every single spot in his section to visit.

My brother is on a mission. My friends are training at least until lunch. Being as good as I am, I’m the only one who doesn’t need to train with them for anything other than keeping my skill up. I’m not going to my dad; he is too insane, even for my tastes. I need someone to pester. I suppose that only leaves…


“Ryan?!? What in the name of Nogard are you doing here?!”

“I’ll take that as a ‘get out, NOW!’.”

“So what are you still doing here?”

“Pestering you, of course! When was the last time I did what you told me to?”

“When I blackmailed you a year ago.”

“Really? I could’ve sworn it was two years…”

“Okay, though, seriously, what are you doing here?”

“We haven’t seen each other since your birthday, months ago.”

“Your point?”

“Isn’t a brother allowed to worry about his little sister?”

“Not really.”

“That wasn’t a joke. Not this time, anyway. Yes, I’ve got nothing better to do. But mom died during the reset, and Lisa died during a dragon raid…”

“Yes. I know…”

“I worry about my remaining family. In this world, even today…”

He pauses. His sister takes the liberty of finishing his train of thought. “You could die any day. Any of us could. Even in this fort, we are not entirely safe. You want to spend as much time as possible around friends and family, because you may never get the chance again. Right?”

“Yea. That’s pretty much it.”

“I understand. Though…despite the fact that this is the public pool for this sector, you really shouldn’t be here.” She gets out of the pool to face her brother. The pool for the area is not particularly large. It had to be built from scratch. Ryan has the layout memorized; in his free time, he’ll occasionally swim during the night. A hot tub lies next to the pool and changing rooms are nearby.

“Why?”

His sister sits down on a nearby bench. “General Marthulus and his goons hang out around here a lot.”

“Don’t they have their own pools?”

“Yea, but those sickoes come here often, looking for a date.”

“So?”

“They should be here soon. I’m normally a mile away by that time. And they hate anybody who could possibly be competition. You’re just talking to me, but they…I sometimes wonder how Marthulus ever became a general with an attitude such as his.”

A group of men comes to the pool. Ryan backs slowly away. He tries not to meet the eyes of the leader of the group, staring down. “Yo! Ryan! What are you doing here, today?”

“N-Nothing, sir!”

The general gets closer. Ryan is forced to meet the crimson eyes that many despise so much. The man whispers, “You might spoil the ladies’ moods.”

As if. Any who actually go out with him will cut the date short.

Ryan remains where he is, seeing no threat in staying put. “Learn your place, kid. You are strong. You will one day lead the DES. I once did as well. After that, you may make general, like me. But until then, I am your superior.

Ryan backs away some more. He watches his sister leave the premises; that is all he needs. “They’re all yours…” With that, he runs off in disgust.


His sister approaches. “Why do you let him do that?”

“What?”

“Bully you around!”

“He is greater than I—”

“I’ve seen your strength! Don’t give me that junk about him being stronger; I know you’d win in a fight.”

“True. I could win in a fight. But that’s not what I meant. He is greater in rank. I cannot stand up to him without being punished.”

“That is just…stupid!”

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to change that. Believe me, nobody wants change more than I do…but at the moment, nothing can be done…”


“Sir Slayer, are you sure there are two dragons we are to hunt down?”

“Positive. There are two. We’ve traveled quite a distance from the village; it won’t be much farther until we have proof.”

“But where?”

“As DES, it is our job to find out.”

“…And exterminate, I know.”

“Relax, sergeant. You’ve only done this once before. It takes great nerves taking on a beast like the dragon. Their magic can crush us. Their flames are mighty and can burn us. But they are not invincible.”

Daniel the Slayer, leader of the DES, stares at the two sides of the canyon. His party had descended into the crack two hours ago when they saw signs a dragon was nearby. Daniel determined there were two dragons by the magical remnants they leave behind. From many past hunts, he knows that a marker can only extend so far and be noticeable. Two hours later, though, and he has yet to find their lair.

“We know they are near. I am the best there is for tracing magical energy. They could use magic to conceal their lair; keep on guard.”

“Yes, sir. We will wait for you to find it.”

The thing is, this is harder than I thought. These dragons are good. It is fortunate they all have similar tastes, though; experience tells me they dug a hole into the wall of the canyon. They are nearby. I can feel it. It is only a matter of time until I can feel the magical barrier concealing their cave. No…I feel it already. It’s!

“There! A hundred yards on the left side! There is a strong presence there. Positions!”

Most of them climb to the top again. By now, the fort is long out of visual range. Two hours in the canyon could equal three or more heading back. They position themselves just above the point Daniel specifies.

They set equipment up. Three ballistae and a catapult are assembled. The archers ready themselves. Giant rocks are positioned above the cave. In addition to those above, two ballistae are in the canyon, primed and ready. If the dragon were to expect them, it could wipe out half of the forces at once—but the other half would nail it. Decoy men enter the cave, walking through and dissipating the invisible barrier.

No matter what strategy it uses, we will kill it.

A minute passes. The men emerge and duck for cover; their part is done. The beast breaks out and tries to take flight. The men push out the stones, pummeling the dragon. No matter how thick a dragon’s hide is, no matter how tough their scales are, rocks this big hurt. This dragon was too surprised to use magic to break them; now, it will not be able to fly.

The dragon hits the canyon floor. The ballistae and archers will not be needed anymore. It is safe from them, but now is vulnerable to the swordsmen. With magic and well-aimed fire, though, the beast can still cause great damage; caution is needed more than ever.

From the looks of things, this is a female. This is truly a rare thing to find. Most dragons these days are males. This is indeed a precious find.

Daniel descends into the canyon. His men are trained to act fast from all angles; the dragon might be able to batter some of them away, but never all of them. They acted fast; ropes bind the dragon to the ground as Daniel hits the ground. He wields a sword enchanted with the blood of a dragon to more easily puncture the dragon’s underbelly. He moves in for the final strike.

“Kill me, human. Just get it over with. I have been held here against my will; I have suffered greatly. When you came, I had hoped to escape. I hoped I could leave; I hoped for freedom. That is futile, now. The only freedom I can have is death. Ease my suffering and end it already; I will give no resistance.”

Daniel hesitates. As far as he is concerned, all dragons are evil. This has to be a trick. Still, it could just be a stalling tactic. But if the dragon is telling the truth, a free kill is a free kill; he grants her request with a swift death.

Now, what trickery is this? No resistance? I know she said she wouldn’t, but still…why? He remembers the other dragon. And where is her friend? The thought hits him. Based on the evidence he has, it makes sense. But he hopes it is not true. No…

“Sir? Shall we begin the skinning? We need to salvage everything we can, right?”

“Negative!”

“Why?”

“We need to get back to the fort…NOW!”

“What?”

“The other dragon! It’s heading for Enchanted Wave Fort! We’ve been set up…”


Ryan is just about to head to the barracks. Most of his friends will have just completed training; he wants to talk to them. Maybe a little sparring as well; he wants to do anything that they would consider entertaining.

…But then, the alarm sounds. A roar tells Ryan all he needs to know: a dragon is approaching. Just our luck! A dragon attack when the Dragon Extermination Squad is away! Oh, well…DES or not, the dragon always loses.

He reports to his battle station—the gate. He is just an expert swordsman with minor experience with a bow. But this is where he is of most use; if the dragon lands nearby, he can bring it down. He stands the greatest chance of killing it. If not, he’ll be an archer at a strategic position.

Marthulus approaches, spouting orders here and there. The men are panicking. He holds them together. I must admit, despite his other flaws, he’s good at what he does. During situations like this, I understand why King Leonidus appointed him general…

Then, Marthulus approaches Ryan. What does he want with me?

“Ryan Siwel…I have a task for you.”

“Yes, sir?”

“With the DES, I wouldn’t even need to be here. Daniel would take care of it all…but with their absence, I am responsible for the safety of the fort.”

“I know, sir. My orders?”

“We will certainly kill the beast…but there may be civilian loses. Many of them. I believe you know this better than any other.”

“Yes, sir. I do. I’ll do anything to help save lives.”

“Good, because what I want you to do might just cost you your own…”


Ryan is alone. He is outside of the fort, about to confront a dragon with nothing but a horse, his bow, his sword, and a message. This is a stupid idea…a really idiotic idea…why did I accept?

The general’s words ring in his ears. It may only have a one in a thousand chance of working, but if it works, no life will be lost.

This isn’t one in a thousand! This is one in a million!

I want to try diplomacy. Deliver this message: General Marthulus Premius, by authorization of King Leonidus Arshan, offers peace. You will perish of you attack. We can discuss this, or you can leave. The alternative is death.

I really hope right now that the pen really is mightier than the sword…


The dragon comes to the ground. Ryan obviously leaves the impression of a messenger; at least he isn’t fried…yet. Ryan gulps. He delivers the message, hoping he won’t end up charred. The dragon laughs.

“You really have guts talking to me like that, trash! Diplomacy is only a stalling tactic allowing enough time for your slayers to return! It is true; I could just leave. But I’d be back. Nogard is coming. He is coming at full force; the time is approaching. It makes no difference to me, so I shall consider it. In fact, I’ll make up my mind…as soon as I’ve had you as a snack. It is hard to think on an empty stomach.”

So much for me living. When dragon and man clash one-on-one, or even TEN to one, the result is the same: dragon wins. At least even a dragon has a sense of humor, though. It is right; thinking on an empty stomach is impossible.

Ryan feels the dragon’s power. The magic is pouring through him. He abandons his horse. Or more accurately, the dragon’s power forces it to flee. As a last sign of superiority, the dragon lets out a roar, sending a massive amount of magical energy into the ground.

It passes right through Ryan. He can feel the vastness of this dragon’s power. The magic morphs the desert in a one mile diameter around the fort. Desert, in the blink of an eye, becomes dead grass, plains.

“I am showing you just how outclassed you are, human. I just wasted all of that energy transforming the landscape. This is the largest drain of power I know of. Yet I have plenty to spare. That was just a fraction of my power. Meet your end well; I like playing with my food.”

Ryan is desperate. Against a foe so powerful, what can he do? He draws his bow and readies his sword. He notches an arrow, readying it to fire. If he is lucky, he would leave a dent. I don’t want to die! Not yet!

In his desperation at the moment the magic passed through him and the dragon gave its speech, a mark appeared. He did not notice the black dragon wrapped around his right arm. He had been focusing on other things and still does not see it. Yet it is there, its dormancy over.

At that same time, an invisible magical force spread around the world. Now, others would find themselves with similar marks, if they would care to look.


Daniel is desperate. From what he knows, when DES is absent, the most civilian casualties are inflicted. For that matter, most in the army do as well. He wipes the tears away; like dozens of other, he has lost a relative in the attacks. He urges his horse to run full speed.

He curses at himself for wearing his full battle armor; it slows him down greatly. The metal gauntlets have a firm grip on the reigns for his horse. He wears a large steel plate. His upper arms have chain mail, while his lower arms have metal braces. His legs are covered in the plates as well. Knee armor has spikes attached to it; similar spikes are on his feet.

All in all, it is a load. That is not including the two days supplies he carries on his horse. His sword weighs a good deal as well. He can only go so fast on his horse; he fears it is not soon enough. In his rush to return home, he does not notice an identical mark on his forehead…


Ryan’s sister has been in the shower for nearly an hour. She had been in the pool since the morning. Her friends have morning duty on their career choices. She, and most of her friends, had different careers in mind…but with the reset, they became invalid. Veterinarians would be useless. She had no reason to attend school, since she had nothing to study. She had learned everything she needed to know.

While a decent swordswoman, she experiences a similar problem to her brother: she is theoretically good…but when it comes to actually killing a foe, she wimps out. Her brother had hidden it…she could not. So she had to settle for waitress duty at a restaurant. Unfortunately, the morning positions had been filled already when she applied for the position. She got stuck with evening duty.

Like normal people, though, she gets up early in the morning…and has nothing to do. She practices many things often, but after a few hours, gets bored. With nothing better to do, she will swim. She swims nearly every day out of sheer boredom. Ryan might be a nuisance, there only to annoy her, but the interruption earlier was a nice distraction.

She would get to chat to her friends for a few hours after her shift, which she is preparing for now. She has to get the chlorine out of her hair, after all. Since she is isolated in the shower, she has nobody to point out the mark forming on her back…


The distant forest is no myth. Everyone knows, at least, subconsciously, that all the forests in the world could not be wiped out. In fact, some forests actually grew. Some sprouted out of the ground in what once was a desert.

So it is no surprise that there is a distant forest. This magical forest is one of the few that was magically created during the dragon war. What is surprising is that there is human life in the forest. While not exactly normal humans, that is the best word to describe them. A young woman amongst their numbers looks at her right leg—to find something she knows too well. The mark…I see. So…the time…yes, yes…the time…

Many soldiers had been in the barracks, finishing training. Then the alarm had sounded. They instantly put their equipment on when they heard the roar; they all feared the dragon coming. It would be their duty to protect the fort. In their rush, about a dozen of those others experience the same thing, though they do not notice.

About ten others, though, have a different reaction. Some of them had died years earlier; their comrades aren’t invincible. Even so, they all have a similar reaction. They initially don’t notice it…but rather, feel it and look.

A certain man on the railway looks as the dragon materializes on his left hand. That’s…! This means that…no; not yet. It is close to the time. But not yet. I think Venat wanted one last thing to happen…


I feel a magical pulse nearby. No…wait…two of them! One is evil. My guess is that it is an agent of Nogard. That dirty…that monster is why I am in hibernation. I don’t know where my remaining family is. Most are dead. But I know some live, like I do. I just don’t know where they are.

I want to. But only a magic user of pure heart can do it. All of my kind like that have been dead for four years. I don’t think I can be awoken any more. This shell around me may be permanent. But this other is human. Wait…how does that work? Human? It is rare, but not impossible. Oh…yes. I see. He will wake me…



Ryan ducks for the cover of the tall grass, avoiding another large blast of flame. The heat singes his skin. His sweat evaporates instantly from the heat. The fire begins to spread. He can barely keep his eyes open; the heat presses against them, wanting them to close and never reopen. A wave of smoke saves his eyes…but destroys his lungs.

He rolls again and again, avoiding the fire, avoiding the smoke, but most importantly of all: avoiding the dragon. The magic of the beast could destroy him in an instant. Another jet of flame and a hail of lethal icicles bombard him.

He gets out of the way, firing a quick shot from his bow. Much to his surprise, the arrow connects and punctures deep into the beast’s skin. He looks in shock. The wide-tipped arrow would cause more damage…but would have trouble piercing even the hard underbelly of the dragon. “I…hit him?”

The dragon hits the ground. The vibration in the ground is fierce; if he wasn’t there, he would think that it was an earthquake. “You! I had not expected you to have the time to fire! If I did, that arrow would never have made it. My magic could have shattered it in an instant. And worse…you got lucky. You hit one of my lungs.”

I…hit a lung? I didn’t even aim!

“I can’t fly on only one lung. At least, not for long. Believe it or not, it takes a lot to stay airborne. A single good blow can cause enough pain to break my concentration. Blows like that…You just made me angry! It is time for me to stop messing around. You…die…now!”

And I actually thought I’d live for about three milliseconds. Why do humans cling to those illusions? Hope can be a cruel thing. On the ground, my bow is useless…

Ryan draws his sword. The short sword is nothing special; it is just standard issue. The decent length sword is double-edged. It primarily is for hacking and slashing, though can be used equally as well for stabbing. The hilt is not custom made for his grip; it is a universal size for one hand. The guard is wide enough for one hand to be protected. The pommel is small, giving just enough of a counter-weight.

I wish I had one of those DES swords. It wouldn’t help much, but I know for a fact that they are at least customized to the user! He dares to stare into the dragon’s eyes. Their ruby gems glow with rage. He looks away immediately and surveys the black scales for any weakness.

A scar is all he is able to find. A giant scar on his neck shows a pattern he has memorized; the pattern is that of a dragon bite. By the size of the mark, a giant dragon tooth had caused great damage.

He fought another dragon. From that scar, a rather large one, too. It had to be powerful; dragons are said to have great healing capabilities. While it could have been a normal dragon, I seriously doubt that. The only way that could be true would be if this dragon was bitten while still young. By the looks of things, this dragon is old.

It’s hopeless, but in the impossible chance I get close enough, that is where I’ll aim.


Fire is launched. Hails of arrows appear out of nowhere. The grass begins to turn into blades…and all of it is aimed at Ryan. He dashes towards the dragon, zigzagging his way past the attacks.

A wall of magic slams him back. Only a swift recovery prevents him from being charred by a stream of fire. Another blast of magic hits him, this time puncturing his stomach. The magic is physical, now.

He feels a tear in his left arm. It lays limp at his side. The last magic blast had left a nasty mark. He rolls to avoid the next fire blast. He coughs up blood. Not good! He keeps dodging. He grows more desperate. He is getting rips and tears in his armor, slashing at his skin.

But then, he can suddenly see the previously invisible magic blasts as clear as the fire shot at him. He sees the magic tearing at him. He keeps on dodging. Now, he stands a chance. He closes the gap again. Another wall of magic is pushed towards him; he develops a split-second strategy. He flows with the wall, backing up with it instead of against. Within a few seconds, he passes through.

Much to the dragon’s surprise, Ryan is right next to him. Ryan strikes with all his might and speed at the scar, delivering a powerful thrust. His sword briefly appears to have made it through, going a few inches in.

…But after that, it shatters. Oh, great! There goes my hope! The fragments embed themselves in the scales of the dragon, vibrating. The wound has opened. The dragon lets out a roar of pain.

Though it would not die from the wound. Ryan’s one chance…wasted. The sword had caused great harm upon impact, but the dragon would push the pain aside and instantly retaliate…or so, Ryan expected. To his surprise, the dragon doesn’t strike back.

It lies there, in pain. The wound obviously had caused more harm than it appeared to. Maybe magical dragon scars always leave a streak of pain? He doesn’t know. But he does know one thing: a few seconds later, and it will recover.

If that were to happen, Ryan would die. Reactive purely out of instinct, Ryan draws out a thinner-tipped arrow. He doesn’t need a wide target; nearly any place in the neck would be lethal. What he does need is penetration. He drives it into the narrow gash.

Another roar of pain from the dragon erupts. It echoes; nobody in the fort can’t hear it. Blood pours over Ryan’s hand. The crimson liquid covers the mark he did not notice during the entire battle. And then, there was silence.

Daniel coincidentally comes into visual range of the scene at about the same time that the roar exploded over the horizon. To his shock, there, in the middle of the field, lays the second dragon.

A single figure is out there. Not a whole army, not a squad, just one lone man. Ryan collapses from exhaustion, yet feels a rush of energy through him. The conflict causes him to lose consciousness.

Ryan had just done the impossible. Daniel cannot believe his eyes. Ryan had just done something that not even he can do. Ryan had done it without backup. Ryan—with literally just one hand—had just killed a dragon alone.
Post #: 2
10/6/2008 0:05:38   
mastin2
Member

Chapter Two:
Now and Then. Here, and over There


“No human could possibly do that, Ryan.”

“I know! I should be dead! I-I still can’t believe it happened…”

“So, tell me the highlights, again.”

“The dragon was toying with me. I managed to dodge those attacks. After a magical bombardment, I fired my bow.”

“How did you get enough time to do that?”

“I had already notched an arrow. I suppose I kept it ready until then.”

“That should not be possible. Keeping the arrow ready even after all of that, and then, firing it when you couldn’t before.”

“What are you saying?”

“That you might unintentionally be exaggerating.”

“I wasn’t!”

“I am just stating a possibility. Now, please, do continue; I want to know why you’re not dead.”

“I got lucky. The arrow pierced one of his lungs. I didn’t aim; the only explanation, I admit, is pure, dumb luck.”

“How do you know it was his lung? You’re not exactly an expert at dragon anatomy.”

“He said so. While he might not have known exactly where I hit, I confess, the end result forced him to land. It doesn’t matter if it was a lung or not. He stopped messing with me; he was going to kill me.”

“What then?”

“I noticed the scar.”

“He let you see it? He didn’t fry you while you were doing nothing but watching?”

“I must’ve seen it when he was talking to me.”

“Now, continue on, Ryan.”

“I zigzagged between blows.”

“That seems rather…hard. Were the blows coming in at a more rapid rate?”

“Not only that, but the intensity as well. But I find that many, rapid, strong attacks are, ironically, easier to avoid when the dragon focuses on where you are, not where you are heading.”

“I see. So the dragon was careless?”

“No. He was testing me, adjusting. If it would have gone on for much longer, than he would’ve killed me. The waves of magic nearly succeeded when he sent them at me.”

“How’d you survive?”

“No clue. The magic shredded my arm and nearly killed me with a strike to the gut, but I survived.”

“Barely. I can see the damage.”

“Yea…about that…how long until I get to the hospital?”

“We can’t carry you any faster and a medic can’t treat damage this serious outside of the hospital. You’re barely awake. To answer, five minutes. Now, do continue.”

“I did my best, but could not dodge the magic. I was able to sense it and dodge the brunt of the blows, but some got through.”

“Then what?”

“I don’t know how, but…I suddenly could see the magic as clear as…well, anything. It looked like a stream of water in the air, or something. You know me; I’m terrible at describing things, sensations, like that. It had solid form in my eyes.”

“That’s not possible!”

“Yet it happened. I charged at the dragon, avoiding everything. I saw a wall of magic and formed a strategy. It hit me, but I moved back with it.”

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. I went with the flow. The barrier dissipated. I caught the dragon off-guard and stabbed him.”

“The sword broke…”

“But not before opening a large gash. I didn’t think even a dent would be made. Do dragon scars have some type of magic in them?”

“None. In identical situations, our special swords had trouble passing through the scale. For a normal sword…”

“It shouldn’t be possible. Weirder yet, the dragon was stunned for double the time I was taught.”

“Double?!?”

“Might have been longer if I hadn’t driven that arrow into the gash. It was purely by instinct. So, that’s what? Five times I should’ve died?”

“Eight, actually, by my count.”

“Whatever.”

“Well, anyway, Thanks. Assuming what you have said is all true, you might have done a great service to the people. You might just have helped all members of the DES.”

“Jealous?”

“Of what? Dumb luck?”

“That I did what you could not. Are you sure this isn’t because you want to know how to outdo me, Danny?”

“Danny!?!”

“Sorry. It…just popped out. Bad habit.”

“I haven’t gone by ‘Danny’ in three years. You stopped calling me that two years ago. A year ago, you ceased even teasing and taunting me with it.”

“I suppose I’m just messed up, today. Sorry, Daniel.”

“That’s better. Now, we’re here. I think I’ll see you after the operation.”

“Oh, gee, thanks…”

“Do you honestly expect more? I’ve got paperwork to do; I believe that you left quite an impression. Some even say that you’ll be joining DES. That comforting?”

“Kinda. Not so sure I want to be under your command, no offense.”

Ryan goes into the operating room and does not leave for several hours. His wounds are extensive. Daniel was right; he should have died. But he survives. The very few humans with magical talent, priests, and the best doctors around work for hours to ensure that their new hero, new champion, survives. He is released late that night with a clean bill of health.

“I hear you were in fairly nasty condition.”

“How could you know that? The people around me, for some crazy reason, suddenly think that I survived without a scratch!”

“Doctors are rare these days. Word spreads quickly amongst them. While I chose not to be a doctor—too much blood and death, for my taste—when it was clear being a veterinarian was pointless, I still have some old friends.”

“Do tell me.”

“Why? You know better than I do.”

“Rumors are often vastly exaggerated.”

“Your left arm had to have an implant in it because the damage was so bad.”

Ryan rubs his left shoulder. “It was fairly bad. Now, I’ve got metal wires, chords, circuitry, and Nogard knows what else running just below my shoulder. I’m now one five-hundredth cybernetic!”

“Ha, ha…nice one, Ryan.”

“I’m fine, though. Really; it was nothing.”

“Oh? I hear otherwise. You had to have healers called in to lessen the damage to your gut. Healers are our prized possession; they are rare. They are the only humans in existence capable of using magic. To have them, royal guards who serve the king directly, called in means that it was truly dire. You had priests praying for you and offering some medical advice. You had hundreds of stitches. I hear you won’t be able to digest food for a week!”

“Three days. I’ve got a few scars here and there, but I really mean it; I’m fine.”

The two share a brief moment of silent. His sister observes the marks around his body, her attention eventually shifting to glimpse his right arm. She locks her gaze on that spot, curious.

“When’d you get that tattoo?”

“What Tattoo?”

“The one on your right arm!”

Ryan instinctively raises his right arm to look; he is alarmed by what he sees. “It wasn’t there before the fight.”

“A ‘gift’ from the dragon?”

“I dunno. I saw one identical to this one on Daniel’s forehead as we talked.”

“You did?”

“Yea. I thought it was just a tattoo. I guess I was wrong.”

“Oh, well…I’ll visit tomorrow to monitor your recovery. I swear, you men mess with dragons far too often.”

“You would as well, if they hadn’t thrown you out!”

“Speaking of that, how’d you manage to kill a dragon? You always wimp out of fights because you don’t want to kill.”

“I honestly don’t know. I suppose when driven to live, anything’s possible.”

“Well, see you later.””

Ryan watches as his sister leaves. He feels something…different…about her. He got an identical feeling from Daniel. He pushes it away as nothing. “Later.”

As soon as she leaves, Ryan falls asleep…


I feel him nearby. He will wake me. Tomorrow. I will send my magic towards him tomorrow. Fate tells me that he will find me then. I am not sure I am ready for bonding. I know that he is definitely not. But the fates are fulfilling a prophecy. I can feel it. What that is, I do not know. Who wove it I know not. But I am a part of it. So is he. It may take years, but…I am sure Nogard will fall. The time, the end of all evil…will come soon. I am sure of it…


Ryan wakes early the next morning. Nobody else will wake for at least an hour. He watches the dawn; he enjoys the sunrise. He does it every morning; there is nothing unusual to his day…yet.

A pulse. Not painful, but noticeable. Ryan feels a pulse in his right arm. It disappears. Then it comes back again. Again, it disappears. Ryan looks. His arm is the same. Then, the tattoo glows golden; he feels the pulse. The two are in perfect sync.

Odd…

He takes his freshly repaired armor and his bow, nothing more, save the quiver for the arrows. He doesn’t feel like taking a new sword. With nothing better to do, he stands up and decides to have a look around. He walks around the complex. When he nears the gates, though…the glow is brighter.

Does it want me to leave?

He lets curiosity get the better of him. He opens the gate. The guard on the wall pays no attention; Ryan often leaves in the morning, anyway. This, to him, is no different. Ryan would later return and he would open the gates.

As Ryan approaches the canyon, one step at a time, the pulse gets brighter and more frequent. Three-quarters of an hour pass. He reaches the canyon. The pulse gets stronger when he faces left.

He keeps on walking. The pulse gets brighter and stronger. It wants him to come…but why? He stares down to find a pit of sand on the floor of the canyon. It ends a hundred yards to the left. He walks over to the point. His heart races at an equal rate to the pulses.

He, with no equipment, descends into the canyon. His heart rate increases. The pulse glows brightly. The golden light is pouring out. About half-way through, he finds a cave. The markings suggest the cave has been there fore at least five years.

This must be where the DES were yesterday. Why am I here?

He enters the cave. He still has no clue why he is even considering it. The pulse is bright enough to light the cave with no outside lighting. Suddenly, it slows down. The brightness increases, but the pulse is lessened. Now, it is only a few beats a minute. He scans the cave with the long-lasting pulses.

At the end, he finds something. A large, oval-shaped object. It is green, but pulses gold. The rate of the object matches the rate of his arm’s pulse. It gets brighter and brighter, lasting longer and longer…but the rate remains the same. Is that…an egg?

He reaches his hand out…and touches it…


He had been watching it for over twelve hours. Every second since it appeared. No sleep. No food. No water. He had been waiting. And then, he saw it. He felt an explosion of energy in the distance. His mark glowed golden, just for a second.

It is time…that Ryan learns the truth. Or, more accurately, relearn it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I am certain that is him. He may have ignored me…but, then again, I’ve been making myself seem slightly crazy. I probably am. But it really doesn’t matter. It…is time…


“Lady Archer! Your leg!”

“It’s not anything of concern.”

“What is it?”

“A sign that I received yesterday. How much do you know of Dragons?”

“As much as anyone else, here. Why?”

“How much do you know about their marks?”

“You mean—?”

“Yes. I have a rare gift. A dangerous power, it is. It is a blessing and a curse. It is why I remain unchanged in here. A very wise and powerful dragon gave me this. Yes, I’ve seen a good dragon with my own eyes. I have my Dragon Mark, yet I did nothing. Can you guess the importance of that?”

“I’m…not quite sure what that means. Are you saying…?”

“Prepare our forces. Double their training length and intensity. We need all the strength we can get.”

“You’ve only been here for four years. You don’t fully know how things work around here. That—would be almost impossibly, Lady. They’re already doing as good as they can. Anyway, to be quite technical, you’re not even a higher ran—”

“Lord Zurokal! NOW! This is a matter of dire importance. Our lives depend on it. The lives of everyone depend on it. Our freedom might be put at risk, very soon. Too many lives have been lost for us to fail…so, consider this not an order, but our one hope of living. Whether it be dragon, or army…we need to prepare for war.”


“This better be important; I’m about to leave on another dragon hunt. Dragons won’t attack us so shortly after one of their kind has fallen so easily. It is a perfect time to strike at them. I believe there are more dragons in the area. So do be quick.”

“Ryan’s not here!”

“The guard said he went out on a stroll, something he does often.”

“But he should be back by now, right?”

“He is likely just taking his time. Now, if that is all…”

“There’s something else. If someone slays a dragon, can a mark appear?”

“Not to my knowledge. Why do you ask?”

“I saw a mark on Ryan’s hand. He said it wasn’t there before the fight.”

“Personally, I’d ignore it. But you…that’s not like you. You worry too much; why’d you just push it away?”

“Because he said he saw the same mark on your forehead. You haven’t looked at a mirror in a while, have you?”

“Yesterday, before my mission. I have that mark?”

“You saw it?”

“Interrogating Ryan. It’s been a while since I’ve seen him; I thought it was just a tattoo.”

“This is…weird.”

“I will look into it later.”

“One last thing, Daniel…”

“What?”

“I was seeing what looked liked white water in the air, centered around Ryan. It seemed to glisten with a slight tint of gold. I have no idea what it was; I suppose it runs in the family to describe things badly.”

“As did I.”

“You…saw that as well?”

“Yes. No other around me seemed to notice it. I believe they were just too centered around Ryan.”

“What is it?”

“If I did not know better, I’d say magical energy.”

“Okay, why can it not be magical energy?”

“One: it is impossible for a human to see magic. Not even the mages can do that. Most dragons can’t even do that!”

“Ryan seems to have proven otherwise with his account.”

“That could have been any number of things; I doubt it was really magic.”

“Are you questioning Ryan’s honest?”

“It is a possibility. Remember, he isn’t exactly the most honest individual out there.”

“Did you look at his eyes?”

“Yes. They seemed to tell of his honesty. But just because he thinks he’s telling the truth, it doesn’t mean that’s what really happened. There are some things in this world that we simply do not understand. Some of them we can occasionally perceive and immediately think of the thing that, to us, seems the most logical.”

“Alright. What about the other?”

“What do you mean?”

“You said ‘one:’ implying there’s at least one more.”

“Very well. Two: humans can’t use magical energy. Nor do they even have magical energy. The few mages in existence draw magic from…somewhere. I don’t know where; you’d have to ask them. But that energy is from somewhere else. I might have it reversed; I don’t really care. The point is, there is no possible way that Ryan could have magic flowing around his body like that.”

“Still…I’m worried about Ryan.”

“I am not. I’m leaving now for the hunt; do not bother me further. This time, I am tracking a strong magical presence. I won’t rest until I find it. Push this matter aside. It is unwise to stall the DES.”

He heads for the gate, ready to leave. “Daniel Slayer!”

No response. “Danny!”

He turns around again, facing her. “Be quick.”

“You’re saying you have no concern for him at all? Why?”

For a final time, he turns his back, departing for his mission. He shrugs it all off as if it is nothing. His voice tries to show no concern, but sympathy bleeds through. “I can’t. Concern interferes with my work. Sympathy has no place with a warrior. I cannot…because it’s my job.”


No fair! Vocor, why do you always have to be first?!? I can feel you. Your magic, albeit weak, can’t help but reach me when it’s enhanced that greatly. Why do you get to wake up before any other? Just because you’re the oldest…oh, that makes me so frustrated. Always because you’re the oldest. It is more like the largest bully. That’s all I remember of you.

Brother…just do me one favor, please? After all you’ve done, we’re still family; I still care for you. The bully that you are probably doesn’t even exist any more. You’re the oldest amongst us…traditionally, you would lead us. Of course, personally, I don’t think you can do it…but Venat did. So…please…don’t die…



Rain. In the desert, there is supposed to be no rain. Yet a large torrent of rain comes crashing down to earth. It isn’t because of sadness. The tears of the past were shed long ago. It is that of happiness, that of warmth. The warm hail pours into what once was a cave. These magical tears show pure joy.

I am alive…

“W-W…WHAT HAPPENED?!?”

A small dragon’s eyes open. He lives again. Now, he will be able to do what he has wanted to do since he was forced into his previous condition. Now, he can finally have that freedom that many years of solitude had taken away.

“You…freed me. I owe my freedom to you.”

“Who…are you?”

“My name’s Vocor.”

“Y-you’re a dragon!”

“How observant of you. I do not believe there are any other types of lizards with wings around.”

A crackling sound emits from Vocor. It takes a second for it to sink in: he is laughing. The dragon has a good sense of humor and knows how to laugh at a joke. This is certainly not what he was expecting.

“What happened to the cave? Why were you here? Why is everything I know about dragons being redefined? And most important of all…why am I here?”

“I’ll answer what I can…but first…what’s your name?”

“Ryan. Ryan Siwel.”

“Alright, Ryan, I’ll answer those questions to the best of my ability. The cave was destroyed by our powers merging.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’ll explain later. Needless to say, it exploded because you touched my shell. I am here…because this is where I chose to hide myself when your kind decided to help Nogard. By your expression, you have absolutely no idea what I’m saying, do you?”

“Nope.”

“Then you won’t understand my answer to your next question. But as for your last…you may understand. Do you believe in fate? Don’t answer—humans do not. But it governs the lives of dragons. You are here…because it is Fate’s will.”

“Fate?”

“You’re hopeless.”

“I am not.”

“Yes, you are. You don’t know anything.”

“I know lots of things! Just…nothing about what you’re talking about. If it were properly explained to me from the beginning, then it would!”

“Later. I’m going to teach you one thing, though. It’s incredibly easy. Even for a human.”

“What?”

“Telepathy between us two. Just…don’t try it between another.”

“Go ahead.”

“This will help us understand each other better…and more importantly, why I’m in a hurry.”

Vocor gives the crash course on telepathy. Soon, Ryan has mastered the basics, including how to send location and pictures. He can now communicate on much deeper levels with Vocor; even Vocor is impressed at his speed.

“Good! Now you know.”

The rain stops. Vocor flaps his wings and disappears into the clouds. “Where are you going?”

“Away. I strongly suggest you do the same. In the mean time, let me tell you why. The reason I’m in a hurry is because, when a dragon awakens, the pulse of magic does not go unnoticed. Landmarks can be leveled; creatures can sense a presence…”

“In other words…”

“Dozens of dragons may be here soon. Send me an image of where your home his.”

Ryan does his best. He instantly finds himself easily with a better memory than before; the image of his home, the fort, is clearer. Using his new-found powers, he sends the too lifelike image to his companion miles above in the sky.

“There.”

“Good! Now…don’t sit there…RUN!”


Ryan begins to climb up the rocks. The cliff has become more of a rocky hill in the area that was the cave; going up will be a hard hike, but easier than it would have been before. As soon as he reaches the top, he dashes for home.

“Stay away until I say it’s safe, though. Dragons…well, don’t exactly have the best image around my home.”

“Ah. I’ll meet you there. When you say it’s safe, I’ll descend.”

Ryan continues running. His companion is still far above, probably taking half of the time to get to the location as Ryan will. He then thinks of how he’ll explain how late he is; it’ll take a while to get back. ‘A long stroll’ should be an acceptable excuse; as long as he isn’t late to report in for duty, nothing will be noticed.

As he heads off for home, the sun breaks through the gray blankets previously consuming it. It shows that it is higher than he once thought; he could be late. The gray clouds shift to white; he wonders if Vocor has something to do with the freak weather. That little thought aside, he thinks back to his current dilemma:

I’ve been gone longer than I thought…

He increases his pace, hoping, praying, that he won’t be late. If he so much as gets to the gates before he would have to report for duty, then he’ll be fine and will get off the hook. Nobody will think of anything strange; they certainly wouldn’t think he has a dragon. At least, that is what he hopes for…
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