Alright folks, it's time to vote on CCC #72. This time around, the theme was "Dragon Warrior," which is also the title of the picture he picked as our inspiration. Let's get to it.
|Voting rules are simple:|
|BlueEcho - Untitled (Maryam)|
"Make me a bronze bikini," she had said, seemingly without any sense of humour or sarcasm.
"How in the name of Vulcan am I supposed to know how to make a bikini? Let alone one made out bronze?" I thought to myself. Still the customer is always right as they say, and I could see that the young lady had a metal bikini on her mind.
"Perhaps some half plate might be more useful?" I asked, more concerned for her well being than the fact that half plate would cost more.
"It would be too heavy for my dragon to carry," she said.
"Oh, you ride a dragon do you?" I asked.
"I am a sorceress," she said, "I control the elemental forces of fire, and tame dragons as though they were dogs."
"Impressive," I said, still not certain if she was speaking from truth or craziness.
"Can you make it?" she asked. Of course I could make it, I had designed the Colossus of Rahm, the sentient stone behemoth that had defended their city when their army had failed. I had designed the Wings of Arras, allowing the warriors or Arras to fly across the battlefield, and I had created the Automaton Army or Ulm. A metal bikini was nothing to those things, I could bang it out in under an hour, and then maybe another hour to stitch it together with leather.
"A pair of chaps perhaps as well?" I asked, "Riding a dragon in a metal bikini must lead to some chafing?"
She looked at me with a pained look on her face.
"My left thigh does get a little rough at times," she said.
"There we go!" I thought to myself, trying to get a bit of common sense running through this girl's head.
"Anything else?" I said. She looked around the shop and fixed her eyes on the wall, looking at an adamantine spear and a bronze shield.
"How much for those?" she asked.
"I tell you what," I said, "I am in a giving mood today, the bikini, one chap, the spear and the shield for 100 gold pieces."
She weighed the offer for a short moment.
"You have a deal," she said.
"Come back tomorrow," I said, "it will all be ready."
"If it is all the same," she said, "can you meet me at dawn on the castle's roof?"
"I will be there," I said. The rest of the day was spent working on this odd request, but I still had time by the end of the evening to sharpen the adamantine spear, not an easy task as most smiths will tell you. I met her at dawn as requested. She changed into the bikini right in front of me, I guess sorceresses are not known for their discretion, but I still tried to avert my eyes as much as possible. She spoke a few words of an unknown tongue, and then turned to me.
"What is your name?" she said.
"I am Tim Smith," I said, "the finest smith in the city."
"I am Maryam," she said, as her beast appeared from the sky. At least I knew now that her claim of a dragon was not fanciful nor insane. She spoke no more words before mounting the beast and taking to the sky. I said a silent prayer for her as she disappeared into the clouds, but my mind was soon again busy with the requests of others, perhaps another colossus to build, but hopefully my last bronze bikini.
|Batkevin74 - Untitled (Vallejo)|
“Um, you can’t be the Dragon Warrior,” Kelvor of Qworan declared to the red haired woman astride the blue-grey reptile.
“What?” She hissed as her fingers danced on the shaft of her javelin. “How dare you ev...”
Kelvor held his hand up. “I hate to interrupt but you can’t be the Dragon Warrior.”
She pulled the reigns of her viscous steed and jumped forward to confront the blonde upstart. “I am indeed the Dragon Warrior, little man! I defeated Ithaca the Grim, the previous Dragon Warrior to claim the title!”
Kelvor nodded. “I get that but you can’t be The Dragon Warrior because what you ride ISN’T a dragon. Also I’m not a dragon, so either y...”
“BY RATHGLORN’S SPINE! I AM THE DRAGON WARRIOR!” Her spear shot forth and rested microns from impaling his Adams Apple. Kelvor slowly gulped, feeling the tip of the enchanted javelin against his skin.
“I’m not a dragon,” Kelvor said. “Wish I was, but I’m simply a farm boy with a dream of adventure. And you, you ride a wyvern, yes?”
“Yes!” She yelled edging her mount closer so it’s hot carrionous breath filled his eyes and lungs.
“Wyverns aren’t dragons,” Kelvor said. “It’s like horses and ponies, similar but different.”
“What are you babbling on about?! I am the Dragon Warrior! Whether I ride a...”
She furrowed her brow at the interjection. “I am still the Dragon Warrior.”
“Because you fight dragons or ride them?” Kelvor asked.
“No, because I FIGHT LIKE ONE!”
Kelvor scratched his head “So you breathe fire?”
“Well then how do you fight like a dragon? They usually fly in, under their own wings and not a wyvern, blast the area with fire and then eat whoever is stupid enough to still be standing. Is that how you fight like a dragon? Or do you grow claws?”
“Little man, I am about done with your rambling tongue!” The javelin slightly pierced the skin.
“Look, I’m sure you get challenges all the time from every Tomar, Dikon and Hagar but I’m serious about why you’re the Dragon Warrior when honestly there is absolutely nothing draconic about you, your steed, how you fight, or anything!” Kelvor said. “It seems more ceremonial than anything and as ridiculous as your armour.”
The wyvern snarled as it’s rider leant forward. “Did you cal...”
“Not you,” Kelvor corrected himself. “But look at what you’re wearing. You are a spectacular looking woman but your armour...does it chaffe? It looks like it would.”
“You have wasted enough of my time little ma...”
“Kelvor of Qworan,” he bowed as he introduced himself. “And you? Do I just call you Dragon Warrior?”
“Vallejo,” She grunted as she pulled her spear back.
“Vallejo,” Kelvor said the name aloud. “It means dancer in Elmarish. Suits.”
Vallejo cracked a slight smile at the corner of her mouth before regaining her stern demeanour. “So what do you want Kelvor of Qworan?”
“Well, this is going to sound silly but I am on a quest to find my bride.” Kelvor said as he looked down at the ground. “My aunt, the village mystic, said I would travel to a far off place and meet a stunning woman atop a dragon with a name of Elmarish origin.”
Vallejo scoffed and patted her wyverns neck. “You look for romance.”
“Indeed! She also said the woman I would marry would have fiery red hair,” he pointed at her. “Most of what she described is, well you.”
“You seek to make me your bride? I am the Dragon Warrior, not some lute playing maid in waiting who needs a suitor!” Vallejo said.
“Oh it can’t be you because she also said she’d be riding a dragon, and you’re on a wyvern. Which is how I got onto the how and why of what the Dragon Warrior is because I don’t get it. Do you get dragon powers?”
“Can you speak to dragons?”
“So being the Dragon Warrior is pretty much the title and that’s it, yes?” Kelvor asked.
Vallejo nodded. “You take it from the previous Dragon Warrior.”
“Have you been the Dragon Warrior long? Like, it’s not your first day is it?”
“I have been the Dragon Warrior six winters,” Vallejo said proudly.
“Wow, impressive,” Kelvor said. “You don’t wear that in winter, do you?”
“I have a cloak.”
Kelvor pondered that image. “Well, thank you for this chat. I don’t really understand the Dragon Warrior thing, nor your armour. It is a shame that you are not the one destined to be with me, but honestly how lucky would it have been that the first pretty girl on a dragon would be my bride.” Kelvor bowed deeply. “Vallejo, it has been an honour.”
The Dragon Warrior smiled and that smile vanished as Kelvor rose up, sword in hand and slashed through the neck of her wyvern nearly beheading it. The beast reared up in shock and pain throwing Vallejo backwards. She hit the ground with a thump and Kelvor was upon her like a hungry wolf on a sick lamb. His sword pierced her shoulder crippling her shield arm.
“You should really get some scale mail like me,” Kelvor said kicking her javelin away. “Perhaps in your next life.”
“I’ll see you in Gehenna!” Vallejo spat as Kelvor rammed the cold steel just beneath her sternum and firmly through her until it could go no more. Kelvor watched as her life ebbed away and turned to the thrashing wyvern that clung to life despite the fatal slash.
“Would you just die already,” Kelvor asked it as he removed a scroll from his side pouch, unfurled it and gazed upon it. It was a long list of names some crossed out, other not. He ran his finger down, past The Knights Who Say Nee, The Eater Of Worlds and The Tiger Prince, to The Dragon Warrior. Kelvor took out a quill, dipped it in the pool of Vallejo’s blood and crossed it off.
“Who shall be next?” Kelvor pondered aloud as he looked at his list.
|Wildvine - Untitled (End of Cycle)|
The warrior dragged half limped, half dragged herself over the next mound rubble, and came face to face with the dragon. One of the smaller breeds, but a dragon for all of that.
“You look ready to meet your ancestors. The war did not suit you so well, fair warrior.” The dragon said calmly, as if he had not participated in the very battle, for the enemy side. Though it is said no dragon ever truly takes a side in human skirmishes.
“It suits you no doubt, master dragon. Many a fallen comrades for you to become engrossed with.” The woman replied holding her injured side, and leaning heavily upon her sword.
“Not so much. I am near the end of my cycle, and have wearied of tending my flesh. I’m very tired and ready to meet those who came before me.”
“Forgive me if I’m found without pity, master dragon.” The warrior slide to the ground and propped herself back against a large rock. “But may I lend an ear, as I have nothing else to do? Tell me of your kind, where do you go when you pass your cycle?”
“We are born in the sky. We live in the sky, and we are meant to die there. When the time comes near we take to the sky and go beyond the second heaven, to meet our gods.”
“Why tarry then, master dragon? Do you fear this meeting with your makers?” The warrior half smiled, half grimaced.
“Dragons are born in pairs and die in pairs. Naturally, I should say. Things happen, such as--” the dragon gestured to the battlefield with its tail. “Your new weapons work splendidly against my kind.” The dragon said, his voice almost having admiration. “I always dreamed I would make the journey with my other.”
“Are you afraid?” She asked with something like amazement.
“Yes” The dragon replied without hesitation. “I’m afraid of dying here and being lost, but also afraid of flying into the next heaven alone. Unbecoming confession for a fiercesome beast, no?”
“Not to worry, master dragon. I won’t be telling it over a mug anytime soon.” The warrior sighed.
“What of your dreams, fair warrior?”
“I wanted to be free. Every occupation is a prison, though of them all soldier seemed the most free. I suppose I’ll have the final freedom soon enough.”
“The greatest freedom is the freedom from your limits.” The dragon replied. He seemed to become lost in thought for a moment. “I can bring you the greatest freedom you will know in this world.” he finally said.
“Freedom from my fate?” She chuckled.
“That is far beyond me, I’m afraid. But I could take you to the next heaven. Being free from the bounds of this world is the greatest freedom.”
“Perhaps I could bring you some company, in exchange for such a gift, master dragon.”
The dragon replied by lowering his head to the ground, making himself quite vulnerable to her sword. Vengeance though was last in her mind. As the beast took slowly to the air she understood the freedom he spoke of. It was more exhilarating than any battle she had fought. Together the old enemies flew into the setting sun, on path to the next heaven.
“The sky is quite beautiful.” The warrior said, breathlessly.
“Yes. Yes it is.” The dragon replied.
|RichGenX - The Warrior Returns|
On a far off world, two members of an old race, the Plorians, sat at a console, their feet up on footstools, watching things. They weren’t checking things very hard, however, since their outpost was in a sparsely populated area. It was the latest world claimed by the Plorian Empire, whom had progressed from Plore Prime in an effort to make the universe great.
This latest conquest was very important as it harbored a dangerous life form, according to their leader, Loc-Nar Incarnate. The two at this outpost felt their posting was someplace that the creature could not be found, and were thus very lax in their duties, spending the time learning some of the ancient lore.
One of the Plorians stretched, and said to the other one in their language, “Dude, this has got to be the easiest assignment we’ve ever gotten. We just take it easy, enjoy the place, and occasionally look around.” He punctuated this statement by uncrossing, and recrossing his legs on the footstool.
The other one nodded, and said, “Yea. I’ve been going through the old lore.” He then looked at the first, and said, “You know, I found the old lore about what we need to watch out for. You know, the creature that is supposed to be the mount of The Destroyer. Apparently, it was like one of the fly creatures they‘ve seen south of here. It wouldn‘t be comfortable up here. I mean, you felt how cold it is at night.”
The first Plorian let out a laugh. “Yea, I saw the effect it had on our footstools.” This elicited a laugh from the second man, and then the first one started to stand up. “Speaking of that creature, I guess I better start my patrol.” He then stood up, and walked to the door, reaching for his long distance viewers.
As he reached the door, the second Plorian said, “Yea. Wish we had to keep an eye out for The Destroyer. Lore says they were a sight to see. Definitely not like our footstools, or any of their lot.” The first one momentarily glanced back at his colleague, and let his eyes fall on the footrests.
At one time, the two beings that the Plorians had been using as footrests had been Plorians, except they were born as the weaker gender, the one who had no need to speak, and just to serve the males. Since time long forgotten, they never called these types of people by anything that denoted a gender other than male. It had been scrubbed from their lexicon. Now all these people did was what they were told to do. Right now, the naked forms were on their hands and knees, being footrests.
The first one then said, “Yea, that is how the legends go. Now I better go watch the skies. One of those flying things might show up.” He stepped out the door that led to the parapet, and started scanning the skies. At one point, he swore he saw some sort of bird, but it was too far away to tell.
He started to raise the long distance viewer to his eyes when he colleague shouted, “Hey, mind if I borrow your footrest. Thinking about The Destroyer got me a bit excited. Must have been the claims of the hot body she had.” Those words made him pause, not because of what the request was, but the word it included. He turned his head away from what he was going to look at, his mouth agape.
After what seemed an eternity, he finally stammered, “You did not just say what I think you said, did you?” In his voice, he heard the alarm. His colleague broke one of the sacred laws of Loc-Nar Incarnate. He said a female word.
A loud profanity came from the inside, followed by a pleading voice. “I didn’t mean to say it. It slipped out. Loc-Nar, I didn’t mean to say it.” There was a pause, before the second Plorian said, “He can’t strike me all the way here, can he?”
The first one knew that the long distance was no hamper to any of their kind now. Plorians, thanks to the power of the great Loc-Nar Incarnate, had developed thought travel. In the old terms, it was called spatial folding, but thought travel sounded more manly. Every planet was only a thought, and a step, away. The first Plorain knew his colleagues time was up.
Before he could respond, though, he felt a brief pain in his ear. It ended quickly, however, as did his life, as the arrow that just entered it went through and thunked into the wall behind him. The utterance of the forbidden word was enough to draw his attention away from what he was going to look at, which ended up being a great creature that in the past would have been called a dragon.
The second Plorian gaped as he saw what happened to his colleague, but he forgot it as a figure with a bow came into the doorway. At first, he thought the figure had a body similar to what The Destroyer had to of had. Then he realized that he was looking at what the Destroyer had been. It was what they called the weaker gender back in the dark times: a woman.
She was clad in what could only be described as a chain mail version of the outfit that was called a bikini. Only certain members of the weaker gender were allowed to wear that much. As it was, the Plorian made an attempt to regain authority by focusing his gaze on the figure, and demanded, "Stand down, and get back in the normal attire of your ..."
His orders were cut short when the figure shot two more arrows, each on pinning his hands to wall behind him. He yelled in pain, and the woman walked forward. This caused both of the other figures in the room to look at her.
She glanced at both, and for a moment, the woman saw a spark in their eyes. Her presence was awakening something in them, much like the presence that guided her to her mount had done. The one who didn't have someone resting their feet on them had the stronger glint in her eye, so the woman pulled out a knife and handed it to that one, saying "Lorena knew what had to be done."
The Plorian knew that word, and started to shake his head. He would have spoke, but words were failing him. He could not fathom what was going to happen, more so that it was happening. Every Plorian had the nightmare that a member of the weaker gender would become a Lorena. He tried again to say something, but it became a strangle cry as he was mutilated.
As the Plorian bled, the dragon rider looked at the poor souls that had been made to remain silent, and enslaved. Their bodies looked like they belonged to a much older person. It wasn't right, and she needed to help them. The guiding force that led her to her mount would share their gift with them. That she knew for a fact.
She extended her hand to the two figures, and a light enveloped them. She saw the them float into the air, their bodies arching. The figures changed before her eyes, and she would have sworn that their bodies were changing to a figure like her own.
The light faded, and the two women returned to the floor, standing up and looking full of life. They were even clad in similar attire to her, and glowed with a magical aura. Each woman had also been blessed with a lock of red hair.
All three stopped looking at one another when they heard the sound of someone coming up the stairs of the outpost. They all turned to face the new arrival, each one drawing a weapon they didn't have moments before. Soon they were joined by a rather disheveled man. He wore rags, and they all noticed his hands were manacled.
Seeing the trio, and sensing that they were against those who oppressed the world, the man bowed down. He then said, without looking at any of the warrior women, "Thank you, but you must flee. The second those two were both dead, an alarm was triggered. More Plorians are on their way."
The dragon rider nodded, and then felt the calm power of the spirit infuse her. This man had been one of the men of her world, and had been made into what the Plorians called the Disgraced. The spirit's magic flowed through her, and enveloped the man. In an instant, the chains he was wearing were disappearing, and the man changed. He went from skinny to muscular in an instant, and into a more visually appealing attire as well.
The man looked at himself, brushed back his hair, which now had a red streak in it, and nodded. He then looked to the dragon rider, and said, “We need to go. There isn‘t time to help any of the others here.” She nodded, and then led them out to her mount. She wasn’t surprised, however, that her mount wasn’t alone now. Three more dragons had appeared as if out of nowhere. Each one looked at the people with the first, and each nodded for their new riders.
The full redhead, mounted her dragon, and took to the air. The others followed, mirroring her movement. She had her dragon turn to face the tower, and the others did the same. As they flew, the redhead noticed in the air another mount, birdlike in form, and ethereal in nature, ridden by two riders. One of those riders was a woman like herself, with wild, flowing red hair, while the other was a young girl in a green dress.
She prepared the dragon to attack the tower, having it bring its head back a little. The others did the same, and she glanced at the ethereal mount, and it appeared to do the same was well. She then shouted, thrusting her fist into the air, “In the name of Taarna, for freedom, and the fall of the Loc-Nar.” The others repeated it, and all the mounts shot their fiery breath into the tower. In that moment, the dragon rider realized that she was Taarna now, or better, Taarna Incarnate.
Inside, the fire torched all that was inside. This happened just as more Plorians started to climb out of the tunnel that connected that tower to its closest neighbors. All the people left in it, as well as closest to the ends of those tunnels, were instantly incinerated. The loss of those hate filled people were not missed on the planet, but they were missed elsewhere.
That elsewhere was Plore Prime, countless light years away, or just a thought away. There, Loc-Nar Incarnate, the primitive leader of a country state countless ages ago now possessed by the Loc-Nar, shuddered. The Loc-Nar had taken over this being, will little effort, and kept all his followers alive, in a non changing universe, for countless millennia. Now, SHE had returned. Her spirit had found a powerful host, and Loc-Nar knew she would be making her way to him, to destroy him. He had not achieved all this, keeping the universe unchanged for twice the time that Ploria Prime’s sun had left when he took over. The Loc-Nar had almost conquered all, and he wasn’t going to lose it now. Taarna’s spirit would be snuffed out, as well as all her vessels.
|Stumpy49er - Dragon Warrior: Dicea Scarlett|
Dicea Scarlett grabbed her shield and spear as the war drums thrummed throughout the castle courtyard. The courtyard walls were enormous and draped with various flags of different colors, all depicting different dragons. Scarlett's red hair draped onto her naked shoulders, wearing only leather undergarments, she ran towards the dragon pens. Each dragon pen was gargantuan and had a different colored flag covering each one. Scarlett ran towards the gray colored flag, the gigantic pen made out of iron.
“You in too big a hurry to put on some armor, Scarlett?” yelled a sturdy, blonde warrior woman wearing full body armor. “Or did you just forget?”
“Not for me, Amber.” Dicea laughed as she jumped onto her owned dragon, Grey Nathair. “I love feeling the wind on my skin.”
Grey Nathair flapped his leathery wings as he flew up towards the sky with Dicea on his back. Ugge Amber struggled to climb on top of her owned dragon, the brutish Yellow Riese. More warrior women wearing armor ran towards the dragon pens, climbing onto their dragons and flying to the sky.
“Hey Ugge. You need help getting onto Riese?” joked a dark haired woman, wearing an eyepatch and purple armor. She climbed on top of her owned dragon, Mauve Wyrm. Looking around she noticed a dragon missing from the pens. “Where the hell is Dicea? She already in the sky?”
“Yeah, Raven. She’s fast.” Amber answered.
Lilit Raven spit on the ground before Mauve Wyrm flew up to the sky. “Damn, Scarlett. Always needs to one-up me in battle.”
Scarlett flew towards the battlefield, over a small army of men from her castle battling against skeletons and monsters. Beast men riding griffons flew towards her. She squealed with excitement as she crouched up on Grey Nathair and commanded him to fly as fast as he could into the middle of these griffons. He was the fastest dragon in the fleet and she worked her spear even faster as they flew into the middle of the group of griffons striking over a half dozen with her spear. The beast men fell from the sky.
Behind the battlefield Scarlett saw the creatures in charge of this raid. They were the lieutenants of the necromancer known by many names but whom the villagers had taken to calling Anbeter Teufel (Devil Worshipper); War Claw, the black furred werewolf who commanded the beast men; Cetus Cyan, the teal scaled commander of the fishmen; Skinn, the demonic zombie commander of the skeletons and finally; Teufel’s right hand man and main assassin, the handsome commander of the snake men, Attercroppe.
Scarlett considered for a moment just flying towards these lieutenants and striking them down with her spear, if she could get to Attercroppe it would be retribution for many of her armies fallen generals, but she knew it would be a suicide mission.
Skeletons riding on bat winged serpents, not quite dragons but smaller cousins, rode up to the sky, led by Skinn, whose entire face was covered with yellow skin which quivered as he spoke.
“Princess Dicea Scarlett. The daughter of the famed warrior goddess, Queen Boudicca Scarlett. You’re head will make a fine trophy.”
Scarlett didn’t take the bait, as she flew backwards and waited. Finally, she was met by her companion dragon riders, Lillit Raven came first, wielding her bladed whip; then came the platinum blonde twins, Elise and Bebe, carrying their deadly accurate bows and arrows, they were followed by eight more of their dragon rider sisters, then finally Ugge Amber, carrying her massive war hammer.
The twelve dragon riders, led by Scarlett, all flew towards Skinn’s battalion of skeleton men, crushing their ranks. Scarlett took out three skeletons before flying straight towards Skinn, impaling him through the his skin covered face, decapitating him. Lilit’s whip sliced through a half dozen of the bat winged serpents, while the blonde twins provided cover with their arrows. Finally, Ugge Amber riding on Yellow Riese, flew right into the skeletons, her war hammer crushing through dozens of them. Her brute strength took out most of the skeleton men.
Skinn’s decapitated head quivered on Scarlett’s spear, “You have not won this battle.”
His headless corpse riding on the bat winged serpent flew up over her and jumped down on Grey Nathair, wiedling two sickles. Scarlett whipped around with her shield and blocked Skinn’s slashes. Then she kicked the headless zombie in the chest, putting enough distance between her and him that she could lunge her spear into his chest. Skinn began to laugh as his head started to crawl from the spear back onto his body.
Horrified, Scarlett swung her spear, still stuck in Skinn, and flung the demonic zombie off of Grey Nathair. As Skinn fell into the sky Scarlett commanded her dragon to follow it. As the zombie’s head started to morph back onto its body, Grey Nathair breathed fire onto it, burning it in the sky as it fell to the ground.
The skeleton army all collapsed. The men fighting them all cheered.
Attercroppe looked at War Claw and Cetus Cyan giving them orders before sneaking away.
War Claw produced a thunderous howl which stopped the beast men, followed by Cetus Cyan emitting an ear splitting siren. The beast men, fish men and snake men all retreated from the battle. A few mindless monsters stayed on the battlefield, too unintelligent enough to know their side has lost, they stayed behind to get slaughtered by the men’s army.
The dragon riders all flew down to the battlefield, they were all greeted with cheers.
Dicea Scarlett was the last to land, as she did the whole battlefield roared with approval. Lilit Raven looked away in disgust.
“Scarlett. You won the day.” said the army commander. “You killed one of Teufel’s Lieutenants, disabling the skeleton army. Queen Boudicca will be pleased.”
“Yeah, I’m sure my mom will tell me what I did wrong.” Scarlett replied. “I need a new spear made.”
Attercroppe watched from a small, hidden hole in the hill as the soldiers and dragon riders all praised Scarlett. He smiled through his poisonous teeth as he saw the jealousy rise within Lillit Raven. The handsome seducer of women knew he could turn this dark haired diva on his side. He snuck away and made preparations. All it would take is a disguise and some contacts within the castle. He had plenty. Lillit Raven would soon join his side and help him take out this thorn in his side, Dicea Scarlett.
Maybelle walked through out the battlefield, searching for men who needed medical assistance as well as any valuables to take. She was a poor, seventy year old grandmother of eight and her grandchildren needed the assistance. As she searched for wounded survivors she came across a headless, completely burnt corpse. She decided to avoid this as she heard a scuffling sound from behind her.
"Is someone there?" she asked. "I can help you. Call out to me."
A piece of yellow skin flew up to her face, covering it completely. She fell to the ground, trying to scream desperately but the skin molded itself over her face, suffocating her.
Eventually she stood up. The yellow skin on her face quivered,
"I will have my revenge on you, Dicea." Skinn's voice said, followed by Maybelle's voice,
"But first, I need to go visit my grandchildren."
Scarlett walked to her room. She had just fed Grey Nathair and thanked him for his companionship. She was tired of all the attention from the citizens of the castle, her mother’s discerning disapproval, her father’s unquestionable love and the endless stream of men wanting to marry her. She just wanted to be alone.
As she lay in her bed she dreamed of battles to come. This put a smile on her face.
To be continued..
|Cbishop - The City of Dragons|
"Are you sure this is the right way?" my companion asked for the seventh time in an hour.
"Without doubt," I said tersely.
He persisted, "I only ask, m'lord, because this cavern hardly seems like the way to the City of Dragons. Are you sure they don't live among the Floating Rocks? It seems like creatures what could fly would live on floating rocks, don' it?"
I stopped then. I stared ahead at the birds circling one of the giant twisting roots we would have to traverse to get to our destination, and sighed. Taking a deep, slow breath, I turned to the man carrying my supplies, and asked, "What did you say your name is again?"
He smiled nervously, but answered, "You never asked my name, m'lord; only if I would carry your pack on this journey." He smiled wryly, but added, "My name is Kaseem, m'lord."
"Well, Kaseem, I keep telling you that the dragons do not live on the Floating Rocks. They don't live here in the Roots of Yggdrasil. Only the God Squirrel does, and he is not concerned with our presence, although he will surely let his master know that we have been by this way. They don't live in the Cloud Realm. That's the heavenly hosts. They don't live in the Volcanic Flats. That's the phoenixes. They don't live in the Dark Waters of Wy. We don't know what lives there, but dragons don't hide... although they do like their solitude at times. But they do not live on the Floating Rocks. Something else lives on the Floating Rocks, and not even the dragons go there. If you ask me about the Floating Rocks again, when we get to the City of Dragons, I will throw you from the city bridge as we enter."
He cowered only slightly, not quite sure if I was serious or not. He gulped as if his mouth had gone dry, then plucked up his courage enough to say, "I was jus' askin' m'lord. I suppose it doesn't matter to dragons how we get to their city. They probably get there by air anyways." He nodded approvingly at his own words, but still asked, "Don' you think?"
I forced a thin smile. "They have wings. I suppose it would be foolish if they did not." I turned and continued up the next long root, and he followed.
We traveled in silence until we reached the birds I had seen circling in the distance. They were circling a pile of the God Squirrel's dung. It wasn't a pleasant smell, but the birds seemed to like it. Kaseem complained only mildly. I remained quiet, preferring to concentrate on breathing shallowly.
We had navigated another seven roots when Kaseem said, "This path is treacherous, m'lord. Are you certain they don't live on the Floating Rocks?"
I stopped and glared at him.
"I'm sorry, m'lord. I've just always wanted to go there. I've heard tales from my youth, and it just seemed so fantastic that such a place could be real. You seem like someone who would know such a place, and I had hoped..."
I said nothing, only raising an eyebrow.
"...I had hoped that was where you were going."
"And yet, you did not ask me where I was going."
Kaseem chuckled. "Well played, m'lord," he said cheerfully, and we continued on.
We had entered the Living Jungle a few hours later, when Kaseem asked, "Do you mind me askin' what your business is in the City of Dragons, m'lord?"
Just then, the jungle trembled so violently that it threw us both to the ground. It was the frequent quakes that gained it the name the Living Jungle; some local tribes believed it was trying to wake from a long slumber. When the quake subsided I helped Kaseem up, and handed him back my pack.
"The Tournament of Dragons," I said in reply to his earlier question.
"The Tour-- you're going t'fight, m'lord?" he asked, plainly astonished.
I smiled genuinely. "No." I pointed the direction we needed to go in, and said, "No, my days of fighting dragon warriors is long over. I go as a guest of the king."
Kaseem stopped as I continued on, but then ran to catch up. "M'lord! You... you know the Dragon King? You've seen him?"
I balked. "Don't be absurd! No man has ever seen the Drachenkönig. I have dealt directly with the royal Escort many times."
Almost to himself, Kaseem repeated, "The 'Drachenkönig.'" Then to me he said, "I have not heard him called that in many years, m'lord. You must be an old friend of the dragons indeed."
We entered an overgrown temple area, and I said quietly, "We've known each other a long time, yes."
Paying more attention to our surroundings now, Kaseem ventured near one of the doorways, and I jerked him back. "Stay with me if you want to see the City, man."
Something growled from within the darkened space, and Kaseem nodded, practically walking in my footsteps after that. "I saw the torch, and I assumed--"
"--As you were meant to," I said calmly. "Our doorway is the one at the end."
We entered the doorway I mentioned without incident, and it was only a few minutes before we emerged on the other side to a tremendous stone wall and gate. It had a series of waterfalls cascading over its sides into the deep gorge between us and the wall.
"It's... it's magnificent, m'lord," was all that Kaseem had to say.
"Yes. Isn't it?" I replied. I pointed to a rough path, and said, "That's how we get to the bridge."
"That is the bridge?" asked Kaseem.
"Yes," I said. "What's the problem?"
"It hardly looks safe to walk on, does it? I think those are planks dangling in the middle!"
"It is as you said, Kaseem- the dragons get there by air. They don't care how we get there." I smirked. "Come on, man," and started down the path.
We reached the bridge after a short while of careful treading down the path, and it was remarkably taught- it hardly swayed at all as we crossed. A little over halfway across, we had to step one-by-one over the large hole created by the dangling planks Kaseem had seen earlier. I crossed first, then held my hand out. "Give me the pack. You'll have an easier time crossing then."
Kaseem handed over the pack.
I set it behind me, and then held out my hand for him. He took it, and hopped across. As his foot touched down on my side of the hole, I punched him in the stomach. Then I grabbed him by the back of his neck and the belt of his pants, and swung him over the edge of the bridge. As he screamed to his death, I said, "I did warn you, Kaseem."
Then I hefted the pack, and continued to the gate. The Escort was waiting for me there. "I thought I might have to kill you for bringing an uninvited guest."
I chuckled. "Good to see you too, Heironymous."
"The king will be pleased to know that you are here," he said, motioning for me to enter the city gate.
We had not gone very far at all when a young woman with bright red hair and scant, bronzed armor descended before us on the back of a purple dragon. "Ho! Have you come to fight, dragon warrior?" she barked hopefully.
I nodded at the honorific, and responded, "Not this year, dragon warrior, but I wish you well in the Tournament."
"Your wishes are not needed!" she scowled.
From the corner of my eye, I saw Heironymous narrow his eyes only barely. Nodding at me, she added, "But I appreciate the sentiment, warrior. Welcome to the City of Dragons." Then she nodded at Heironymous, and said, "Escort."
He said, "Princess," and she flew away, further into the city.
"She has grown."
"Yes, she has. Being her Escort has been a privilege," said Heironymous.
"And being your daughter makes no difference at all, I suppose?" I said under my breath.
Heironymous stared at me seriously, and said, "Careful how you wag that tongue in this city, Saint George. You owe me a fight yet."
"Not until my sword is found," I said simply.
"That again? I'm not the one who lost it. That meddlesome boy will resurface, and if you don't find him first, I will help you get Ascalon back."
We seethed at each other only momentarily, and then I sighed. "This is not what I am here for, Escort," I said, emphasizing the title. "Let us enjoy your beautiful city."
Heironymous lingered on his anger only a moment more, and then smiled accomodatingly, if not quite friendly. "Yes, you're right. Come. Enjoy the City of Dragons once more. Tomorrow, we attend the Tournament together, and see how the Princess fares!"
I clapped him on the back. "You don't want to face me again anyway," I prodded.
"HA!" bellowed Heironymous, and we headed towards the Alabaster Castle. "How are the Floating Rocks?" he asked.
"Ah. You know," I said. "There's no place like home."
"Yes," he smiled. "On that we can agree."
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I'm glad you're here, and thanks for reading! -cb :^D