Samples, Scales Series

Scars and Scales

I have mentioned earlier that I am working on publishing my first book, and I realized that I should probably give all of you a sample of my work to see if you like it. So here is the first three chapters of my book, Scars and Scales:

Chapter 1

A Stranger

Night had long since fallen upon the dust filled yet green land. The moon lay high in the sky as the stars danced beside it; a sense of peacefulness was in the crisp air. Yet on the ground below there was one creature who did not have the luxury of gazing upon the serene heavens. He did not remember the last time that he had walked about freely. All he knew was that finally he could feel the earth beneath his feet. Clutching his cloak, he remained in disguise while in enemy territory. He needed a safe place to rest and stay the night. His path had taken him out of the land of Mendaxum, to the nearby area of Contritus. He passed through the nearest village of Bello Cap, the houses and shops were made of brown stones for the walls and the houses had teal slated roofs. Noticing that the place had still not recovered from the war, he observed that buildings still had burns, singes, and smashed in every conceivable way of damage. Most of the shops had since been closed and found what appeared to be the old local market. The stands had been tipped over and the fruit had fallen on the ground, rotting with flies pouring out of them. Looking above the town was a castle; that at one time had five towers of teal standing tall. Now all but one had fallen; most of which had slid down the hillside and into the town, crushing several other buildings. It looked like the keeps had been stationed on each corner of the walled fortress. At a set of bronze doors, the only standing barbican towered over them with a cannon situated on the top. Inside the walls was a dome with a bronze top. The town sat in front of the beach that opened into a bay which had several small wooden docks built on it. The sand was surprisingly well kept other than the few bits of scrap metal and wood, probably damage caused from the same battle that hit the rest of the town. A far-off cliff exhibited more of the past scars with the rocks broken off, leaving columns of white rock standing in front of a cove under the castle.

The native race in these parts that he could recall were the goblins. In appearance they looked very similar to humans; other than their oddly colored skin, longer noses, and pointy ears. They were a warrior race, an honor bound society. Their battles were waged in fair combat for noble purposes. Why did they align themselves with such evil? Delsey, the sorceress queen of Mendaxum, only wanted to quench her thirst for power. Her lies have caused the near extinction of an entire race; his race. How can one person bring about so much destruction just by words? How can they convince countless others to join her like the goblins? It did not matter now, he just had to keep moving. The eyes of the locals were starting to turn to him, raising suspicions. They must know that a human would never be able to make it out this far at least without magic on their side.

“I have to hide.” He thought. He looked from building to building, waging out the best possible option. “If I hide in a broken structure it would raise suspicion if they saw me climb in; not to mention it would not be easy to defend. If I go to a resident’s house, I would have to convince them to let me into their home. Knowing goblins, they would ask too many questions and we would end up dueling. That would attract too much attention. Then it will have to be a pub, hopefully no one is drunk enough to pick a fight with me.” He thought. He made his way to a rundown building, right before dark; that notably had sword slashes, bullet holes, scorch marks, and blood stains upon its walls. On top of the place was a sign that said, “Ol’ Bera”.

Walking in he looked left and right, scoping out what was before him. On the walls were mounted with all kinds of weapons; plaques were placed under them telling who had owned each item. One of them intrigued the stranger as he looked at a sword with the name ‘Beowulf’ carved into the handle. Underneath the sword was a plaque that read,

“To Roland, an honorable goblin to whom I owe my life when I had gotten stranded in the ocean and was attacked by a sea serpent just off the coast of Conflictus. He braved the sea, grabbed my sword, and slashed a horn off the beast. It ran off, he brought me to shore, and nursed me back to health. The sword should be given to the only other being who has been able to make use of it. Thank you, Roland. Beowulf”

“Well that was an awful long statement for something for a bar; most of the beings here would not have gotten past the first line.” He thought, “Then again it is also stupid to have a bunch of weapons on the wall with a warrior race who are under the influence of alcohol.”

Looking around he could see that it was not all that full. There was a handful of goblins in the back, throwing daggers at a target with a picture of some sort of reptile. The picture had been stabbed too many times to tell who or what it was captured in the photograph. In a corner booth was a group of tiny men, either leprechauns or dwarves, he could not tell from this distance. Above the bar a beam with ropes and buoys hanging from it had two gargoyles perched, one being orange and the other blue. These beings were humanoid with wings that sprouted from their back. Like the goblins, gargoyles lived in Contritus in the city of Suregarde. However, their skin were fish-like scales that covered them from the horns on their heads to the tip of their pointed and long tails. By the sounds of their gossip about boys, he was guessing that they were of the female gender.

On the stair case was a human in appearance, but the clothes did not match the style the typical human wore. Instead she wore a necklace that was a circle with three others inside of it. Her blouse was black with long fishnet sleeves and was matched with magenta leather pants which looked like it contained at least eight pockets around the belt area. She also wore black boots, with matching gloves that went over her wrists, and a black fedora with a fuchsia ribbon. Looking around the room again he could see that the counter stretched out with a black marble top. There were four large barrels that acted as seats for the bar. Behind the counter were matching shelves of the material with bottles of different shapes, colors, and sizes.

A goblin, dark purple in color, stood behind the counter wiping down the top with a red rag. His right ear had part of it bitten off while the left had a silver ring pierced through it. He stood at a normal height with an average build; multiple scars and cuts decorated the length of his arms. He wore a cut sleeve blue shirt with brown baggy pants that where held up by a white rope. The green eyes coming from the goblin shot right at him and raised an eyebrow; seeming to see right through his disguise.

“Can he actually tell? No, there is no way. There are only a handful of creatures able to do that and there is no way a goblin could just by looking at him.” Panicked the stranger in his head.

He approached the bar and sat down to order a drink. The goblin spoke first, “Welcome to Ol’ Bera, my name is Roland owner of this establishment. What might your name be?”

“Uhm… it’s Salaud.” Answered the stranger trying to think of the first word that he heard one of the goblins address each other. Roland started to chuckle, before bursting out in full out laughter. The whole bar was looking at the two of them now.

Roland recovered himself and addressed the room. “He was just telling me a good story about being fooled by mermaids is all. Go back to your fun.” Most of them seemed to go back to what they were doing, except for that human. Roland handed him a drink. Not even thinking about what was handed to him, “Salaud” drank from the cup and the pupils of his eyes turned into slits, like an animal about to attack. His eyes lit up red through the darkness of his cloak as he peered at the bartender.

Roland simply nodded looking at the eyes of the young man. “So that is why you did not give a real name before, no? You are one of them, the race of dragons that Delsey killed when she started her rise to power, no? The Omnis?” The young man nodded yes hoping that the drink would not show anything else. “So, what is your real name?”

“Xerxes.” Replied the stranger.

“Well, Xerxes, any race is welcomed here, as long as they do not cause any trouble. May I ask something?” Continued Roland

“I guess so.” Replied Xerxes.

“How come you survived?” Questioned Roland.

“She wanted power at first. I was the last one standing, the rest had been slain with their scales ripped off some of their bodies by her magic. My wounds numbered many with a broken wing, fractured leg, and multiple cuts and bruises. I was surrounded by ogres, archers, tanks, and every conceivable enemy of the lands. The three brothers were standing there as well, laughing at the demise of the once strong race. She came over slowly knowing that I was already too tired and injured to move. I tried to shoot a fireball at her, but she batted it off with the back of her hand. She summoned stone clasps from the ground that held me down. Her footsteps kept getting closer…” Xerxes breath began to leak fire. “Her hands glowed with that cursed dull yellow color…” His skin began to turn into scales.

“Xerxes.” Said Roland quietly, while putting a hand on Xerxes’ shoulder and looked him in the eye.

The dragon stopped, taking a deep breathe, before continuing with his story. “She put this scar over the right side of my face with her magic.” Xerxes took his hood off, revealing his brown messed up hair and his red eyes. The scar seemed more like a burn mark that stretched from the top of his forehead down the length of the left side of his chin. “It allows her to send images into my head of past and possible future horrors; which basically induces extreme anxiety. When I awoke afterwards I was in a cage above her throne room. Every day she would bring her captured enemies to where I was to show off her might. She started collecting all kinds of races at one point before getting bored with them. Then she had an idea. What if she could create a whole new generation of my kind? A generation she controlled. She tried several times to clone me with her magic…”

“The tools are broken, no?” Roland tried to joke.

“Not funny.” Replied Xerxes. “That sort of magic does not work on me. Though it does beg the question why she did not try breeding? It would not have worked anyway. My kind chooses the mate and cannot be forced to do otherwise. When it did not work, Delsey thought that making me a training grunt would work. I was the punching bag so to speak. Her spells limited me to strictly hand to hand combat, flight only up to ten feet, and fire balls restricted to the size of a baseball.”

Roland was confused at this point. “Then how did you escape?”

“That was by a stroke of luck.” Replied Xerxes. “One of the new captives came in that day while I was in my cage. His hair was a mess and his left eye had a similar injury to mine except that is was a single cut mark instead of the burn-like injury I sustained. As he was forced to kneel before the “queen” a flash of light filled the room, and something was thrown up into my cage. It was a crescent moon medallion with three slash marks behind the moon, the mark of the clan of Moonclaw.”

Roland seemed surprised. “You mean the werewolves known for their healing, yes?”

“Yes.” Replied Xerxes. “I put it on and instantly the incantations that were put on me were lifted. I easily broke out of my cage and escaped during the confusion. Once I got far enough away I went into my human disguise and came here.”

“What happened to the one that helped you escape?” Asked Roland.

“I do not know, but I have to return this to him.” Xerxes took the medallion out of the cloak and showed it to Roland. It gleamed a moonlight white glow and was a wonder to behold.

The goblin thought about something else after Xerxes had finished. “Why did you just tell me all this? You are in, what you would consider, enemy territory.”

“The sword over there.” Xerxes pointed at the weapon owned by Beowulf that he had been looking at earlier. “Beowulf was considered a great hero. True, he would be a bit boastful at times, but he had a big heart and a good sense of judgement. Not many people did he consider an equal, so when I saw that he gave you his sword, there must be a good heart beating under your skin. That and the fact that you were clever enough to identify my kind with their favorite drink. Only someone who partook in meals with us would know to serve this; which suspects you to be either a general or royalty. Since you are of the purple variety of goblin, you must be royalty.”

A stunned Roland looked at him before responding. “That is correct, but for tonight that will be all you get to know. Now you must be tired, no?” Xerxes could only shake his head up and down. “Then we shall get you a room. Chelsey?” The woman that had watched them on the stairs came closer to them. The light showed her face from the darkness. Her eyes were hazel in color and her skin was dark. Xerxes could tell by looking at her that there was an aura of magical energy emanating from her. From the color, he could not tell what type of magic she focused in. “Chelsey, I want you to show our guest to his room. Make sure he gets everything he needs.” Chelsey nodded. Roland continued speaking, “I will talk with you in the morning, yes?”

Xerxes responded, “Yes, thank you Roland for your hospitality.” The Omni bowed then looked toward Chelsey.

“Follow me.” Said the woman. They went up the wooden stairs that creaked with every one of their steps. Xerxes looked at the walls seeing pictures of many different races until he stopped at one frame. It contained a variety of thirty-two different scales, claws, and teeth from all the races of dragons. One slot was left, and Xerxes could guess what was supposed to go there, the thirty-third race of dragons, the Omnis. He began to growl under his breathe before he heard a voice interrupt him.

“Impressive isn’t it?” Commented Chelsey.

“One word for it.” Shot back Xerxes. “What are you doing in this territory?”

“What do you mean?” Asked Chelsey.

“For one you are a sorceress of some kind thus the energy emanating from you. If I remember correctly, you are all under strict orders from Delsey to never leave Mendaxum. So, I will rephrase my question, why are you here?” Questioned the Omni, his eyes going back into slits. Chelsey looked stunned when the dragon spoke with such force. She could tell that Xerxes was ready to attack at any moment if she gave the wrong answer.

The sorceress answered, “You know that not all of us decided to join her right?” The dragon calmed, and his eyes went back to normal. “Most of us actually oppose her, there is even a faction that is forming an army though it will not work if we cannot figure out a way to counter her spells. Does that answer your question to your satisfaction?” Xerxes nodded and smelled something odd. He smelt the scent of a campfire mixed with pine trees.

“Follow me please.” Pleasantly requested Chelsey with a bow. While following, he could hear the comforting sounds of a slow running river gently rolling over rocks of a river bed. His hands and feet felt like they were touching soft grass as he followed Chelsey to his room.

“This does not make sense.” He thought, “None of that exists here. Maybe I am just too tired and starting to hallucinate about…” He could not complete his thought and stopped walking. Trying to forget the unpleasantness, he shook his head to the mere idea before continuing to follow the witch in front of him. Passing many doors, they finally made it to the room number, which so happened to be thirty-three.

“This is definitely a trap.” Thought Xerxes.

“Here we are, room thirty-three.” Chelsey stated, “You looked worried Xerxes, is everything alright?”

The dragon snapped out his thought to address the question. “I am just a little stressed and tired from my trip is all, sorry.” He went to enter the room and found that there was a bed with many different colors of linens draped upon it. In the far-right corner there lay a bed of rocks that could be heated by a fire. Across the way was a black leather chair that rocked back and forth from the visitors’ footsteps. The walls were a plain white color with cracks here and there; wooden support beams aligned the door way and the corners of the room. His chamber was lucky enough to have a window overlooking the quaint but broken town. Outside he could see he was on the top of the building and that the moon was full over the town. His glancing was interrupted by a voice once again.

“Great room isn’t it?” Questioned Chelsey.

“Yes, it is very nice.” Spoke the Omni with apprehension in his voice.

Out of the blue, Chelsey stated nonchalantly, “You know Xerxes I think you need a massage.”

“A what?” Xerxes questioned.

“A massage. You know the act of helping to relieve your body of knots and aches. A way to destress so that you can focus on a task at hand or to relieve pain.” Began Chelsey sarcastically lecturing the dragon.

Xerxes stuttered back, “Yes, yes, I know what a massage is. What I am questioning is why you are offering to give one. I did just meet you and I am pretty sure that the bar does not provide this service.”

The witch put her palm downward towards the dragon while soothing, “Calm down Scales this is not a scandal or anything. I just like helping those in need, that is all. From what I can tell from your demeanor you definitely need to relax.”

Finding the idea enjoyable and having no energy to fight her advances, the dragon lied face down on the bed and waited for Chelsey to begin.

“Uhm, I need you to strip so that I can get along all the muscles.” Stated the sorceress. The Omni sighed out while stripping off his clothes including the medallion around his neck. Finding it hard not to stare, the witch looked up and down his figure. He was physically well fit for someone who had suffered years of torture and malnourishment. His abs were firm and glistened with sweat from his long days of turmoil. On his untrimmed chest were several cuts, burns, and gashes; the sorceress figured this was from the years of being a punching bag. The rest of his body had similar marks from the brutality that was shown to him. She had seen nothing like him before and could tell power pulsated from his body. Not just in strength, but in pure determination. His spirit had not broken from the torture of that tyrant now ruling over Mendaxum.

“I get it is the first time you have seen something like this, but please hurry up before I change my mind.” Blurted out Xerxes nervously.

“Right… right.” Chelsey blushed before continuing. She laid her hand onto his shoulder and immediately the Omni almost elbowed the sorceress in the head.

“Sorry it has been a while since I have had a gentle touch on my back.” Apologized the dragon. A pang of compassion hit Chelsey’s heart as she gently went back to the shoulder and moved down using her knuckles to dig into the spine to release some pressure. The same smells, sounds, and feelings he felt coming up here hit Xerxes again.

“What is going on?” Thought Xerxes while moving a little.

“Shh, easy Scales, just calm down. Let yourself ease out and relax. You need to, or you are going to cause some serious damage to yourself. Relax and breathe. Focus on your breathing and count down from five, starting now.” Xerxes started counting but did not even get to four before passing out.

 

Chapter 2

A Moonlight Walk

Later that night, Xerxes awoke in human form to find himself in his bed. Something struck him as wrong from earlier. Since there were no injuries, he was alive, and not caged, that ruled out the idea of an ambush. Then what else was there to gain from him being asleep? At that moment, the scar on his head lit up yellow and a nightmare began to unfold. He was in a cage with Delsey on the outside, holding a spear dipped in her yellow magic. She poked and stabbed at him making him lose each sense other than his hearing. Her voice fair but dipped in poison kept asking the same question.

“Where is it? Right now, your only worth is to listen and obey. You cannot speak, see, feel, taste, or smell. All you can do is listen to me. Your race was vile and needed to be purged. They were weak and corrupted, thus leading to their dethroning. Now you will tell me their secret.” He shook his head back and forth. “What was that? You dare still defy me?! Speak!” Her dull yellow magic glowed from her hands and hit him in the face.

Xerxes spoke wheezing, “If we *wheeze* were as weak *wheeze* as you say. Why do *wheeze* you *wheeze* need our secret?” He breathed out heavily before continuing. “And look *wheeze* who is *wheeze* the tyrant *wheeze* now.” With the last statement he spat right on Delsey’s face.

The sorceress fell back, and her yellow magic glowed more intensely yelling, “You insolent fool! I will kill you! I did not hesitate to kill your whole race and I will not with you either! Now tell me!”

Regaining more of his strength Xerxes replied, “No you will not. You need the information I have, and no kind of magic can grab it from my mind. So, you will keep me for as long as I have that information which is going to be forever or before I escape to use it against you.” The dragon glared up at her with his eyes burning red and his eyes in slits; breaking her incantations over his sight.

The witch stepped back before laughing. “Escaping? Who do you imagine would want to save you? Your race of Omnis was hated as much as me. No one is coming to save you. This will be your new home.” With a snap she restored his senses saying, “Rest up play thing, we have a whole day of torture tomorrow.” With that the image ended.

“Have not had one of those in a while.” Thought Xerxes before realizing what was missing around his neck, the medallion. That was when the visions stopped was when wearing that item. He looked to the bedside and found that it was gone. “That little witch!” He screamed letting electricity fly from his scales. He calmed down after several minutes and finally noticed a figure in the corner. A brush of messed up black hair and an eye with a scar that stretched from the top of his left eye and wrapped around his cheek. The scarred eye was grey in color while the other was green. His clothes were made of linen and leather. The linens were black, and the shirt hung loosely around the frame of the person. Pants, also black in color, were under the shirt and tied with a silver rope with the shirt tucked in. The brown leather padded the shoulders, chest, forearms, and shins. It was the one who had freed the dragon.

“My apologies son of Moonclaw, did I hit you?” The figure got up and did not say a word. Instead he handed a piece of parchment to Xerxes with the word, “Follow” on it. “Great of course I get the half blind and mute werewolf as my protector.” He thought. The werewolf in his human disguise glared at him as if knowing what he was thinking before preceding out the window. Xerxes followed not knowing what was going to happen. They jumped stealthily onto the roof and carefully made their way from broken building to building before making it to a cove near the pillars of white rocks and underneath the cliff of the castle.

Inside the cove was a small group of tents. The guide who had been leading him stood up right and strolled straight into the camp. Looking from tent to tent, Xerxes could tell that the insignia of the Moonclaw clan was on every tent totaling about fifteen small and one large one that they were entering. Inside sat a hooded figure with a large staff that was at least two times its height sitting in front of a fire. The figure was maybe four feet high and sat with its legs crossed. The legs were like wolfs with fur of white with stripes of grey. It finally stuck its head up and showed a snout of a wolf with a cut on its nose, a face of white fur, and a short grey beard. His blue eyes looked at Xerxes before speaking.

“Introductions are in order I think.” The werewolf said in a gravelly voice. “My name is Pelzgrauen and I am chief of this tribe. We have come to release you from Delsey.”

“Why?” Asked Xerxes, knowing that most people wanted only to use him.

“What? You mean that Wolfgang did not tell you?” Wolfgang looked at them both before growling and leaving the tent. “Well I guess he is still upset.”

Xerxes looked back at Pelzgrauen and asked, “Upset about what?”

The old werewolf looked seriously at him before speaking. “When the Omnis were in power they ruled over all the lands if you remember.” The dragons scar activated again showing his race burning villages and plundering homes. He saw as they killed family members in front of each other and laughing at the tears that others wept.

“Yes, I remember.” He said horror stricken from the memory of his savage race.

“During that time, you needed healers to help with your armies. So, you came to our tribe for this purpose. The Omnis promised protection from harm for assisting you. When the time came, Delsey invaded and they forgot about us; leaving us to be slaughtered. We fought back as best we could, but it was no use. They killed Wolfgang’s family that day. His anger filled him as he tore through the ranks of soldiers. Charging in, he took out several warriors before facing down Delsey herself. But it was no use, her spells were too strong. He lost his sight in his right eye that day. Before he was about to be killed, a dragon came down from the mountain to help us. He set ablaze the ogres that were near the village and zapped the air born troops. Delsey’s armies retreated to the main force to attack the Omnis while Delsey chased the one who had ruined her attempt to end the lineage of the Moonclaw people. That dragon was you Xerxes.”

Wolfgang from outside the tent lifted his head and opened his eyes listening, more intently. The dragon, who had been looking at the fire in the center of the tent, finally looked up at him. “I remember… The rest of Omnis said to leave you all for dead, but I could not stand by and let you suffer for our mistakes. That attack cost us the break in our defenses and eventually the defeat of my people. I will live with that for the rest of my life knowing I chose one race over my own. Though looking back, I know I could have done more. I could have led her out to the ocean or away from the battle field all together or into a volcano… or something.”  Xerxes was visible distraught and close to breaking down reliving his past.

Right before tears began to fall a hand rested on his shoulder, it was Wolfgang’s. “Thank you.” Spoke Wolfgang quietly.

The dragon only nodded back before composing himself. “So, what now?”

“We were going to ask you that.” Said Pelzgrauen.

“I think that we need to unite the people again. All of them, excluding those who already serve in Delsey’s army, to make this land free at last.” Responded the dragon.

“You are an idiot.” Bluntly stated Wolfgang. “There are too many races of beings that are not enlisted in Delsey’s forces. Several of which have stayed neutral since the time of the Omni oppression. Not to mention that the humans have their own goals which include targeting all magical creatures as enemies since Merlin left their council. Arthur leads them blindly now and hides within the walls of Camelot. He lets his generals merely defend their home. The magicians have also formed their own army, but lack the courage to move forward. Not to mention that they lost their homeland to Delsey who they put on that throne. Did I also mention that the leaders of their eight orders are all missing due to their hasty retreat from Mendaxum? Lastly if you do not forget, there are the dragons. How many kinds are there again? Oh, right there are thirty-two other kinds that we need to rally, most of which hate each other. Did I miss anything?”

“Well actually there are only thirty-one since the Armorph race of dragons follow the commands of Delsey. That and we have the support of the Moonclaw tribe already.” Mildly stated Xerxes. Wolfgang just growled back at the statement.

Pelzgrauen was stroking his beard as he thought on this plan. Finally, he spoke, “Your quest will be difficult, but it may work. The combined strength of the creatures in Magitotum should be enough to defeat the witch, but you cannot do it alone. You are going to need a group of you to accomplish this feat. I can give you a group of our warriors to go with you once we get to the homeland.”

“With all due respect Pelzgrauen, I think it would be better if the group was more mixed then strictly werewolves and one dragon. We need to show that all of us living in Magitotum want the same thing. That is why Wolfgang and I will go out on foot tomorrow and head to where the magician’s rebel sanction is hiding.” Firmly commanded Xerxes.

“No, you won’t. You will do as I say so that we can assure both of your survival. The way you are suggesting is suicide. The goblins would see you and it would be all over. Not to mention we do not know if these magicians will even support you. We do it my way.” The old werewolf said with a snarl. Xerxes started to growl back, and fire started to leap from his breath.

Both of the creatures were ready to pounce at each other until Wolfgang broke the stare down, “Stop it now. There is an easier way to settle this. We could do a Zweikampf.” The dragon looked questioningly at the half blind werewolf. “Single combat between two warriors. It helps decide conflicts without bloodshed. The fighters are not allowed to kill each other or use powers of any kind.” Informed Wolfgang. Pelzgrauen and Xerxes looked at each other and nodded in agreement.

In the middle of the camp, Pelzgrauen and Xerxes stood facing each other. The other werewolves formed a circle around them, eager to see the fight unfold. The dragon enveloped himself in flames from the campfire nearby. Red scales spread across his skin as spikes shot out of his back and down his tail. They form a v-shaped at the tip that he could use as a weapon. The Omni stood at ten feet high and his wings were proportionate to this body size, able to wrap around him like a cloak. He stepped out of the flames while menacingly looking at his opponent. The wolves gazed in awe of the fire that danced around him as he looked just like one of the fire dragons known as the Matahari. The older werewolf simply yawned at the dragon in front of him not moving an inch while holding his staff. Wolfgang moved to the center with his arms crossed.

“This Zweikampf will be between chief Pelzgrauen and Xerxes. This will only be physical combat with no powers what so ever; that includes self-healing or elemental attacks. Flying is allowed in the match. Those who break the rules will be disqualified and restrained by the tribe and the opponents plan will be chosen. Let the match begin.” Wolfgang jumped back and clapped his hands. Xerxes charged forward and punched with his right fist in front of him at the chief’s chest. The old wolf twisted to his left, dodging the punch, and swung his staff; making contact directly at the back of Xerxes head. The dragon felt dazed by the hit, but would not give up that easy. Using his tail, he grabbed the werewolf by the leg and flung him to a wall in the cove. Pelzgrauen used the momentum, rolled in the air, and kicked off the side of the wall. Xerxes saw this coming and prepared himself for the return. The chief span his staff in a circle like a tornado at him. The dragon slid under the staff and landed a punch right in the werewolf’s gut. The older opponent had to jump back after the hit to recover.

“This is my chance.” Xerxes thought. Right before he lunged off to attack, his scar began to glow yellow again. “Not now.” He thought. Sure enough, a nightmare hit his mind again. His scales had been stripped of his body leaving him exposed.

“You lost Omni. Give up. Your plans are going to fail.” Taunted Delsey. “No creature is going to line themselves with an evil such as yourself. Your people destroyed this land. I am here to restore it.”

“A real bang up job you are doing of that huh?” Chuckled Xerxes.

“And your people did so much better.” Delsey shot back. “Now let us see if we can find the last piece of the puzzle from your mind…” Her yellow magic glowed and shot at the eyes of Xerxes, ending the vision.

The dragon reeled back into reality to find that Pelzgrauen was nowhere to be found. He was still standing, and the fight had not ended yet since the wolves were still in the circle with an upset Wolfgang looking at him.

“Darn it. He has taken the upper hand and hidden on me. That means he is looking for an opening, my next move is going to decide the outcome of this match.” Thought Xerxes. He looked around in the darkness to see if he could see any glint of something that was off. There was nothing then he thought of a better way. Using his sense of smell he could tell where the old timer was hidden. He flew up towards the ceiling of the cove smelling that the wolf was there.

Suddenly, a blur of fur zoomed past him hitting his upper left wing. “No way. How could he mask his smell?” Xerxes could not believe that he had been tricked. He knew that he had fallen for a trap and had to be wary of his attacks. The blur of fur came out again and hit the upper right wing. The dragon was starting to feel the strain of flying with his wings damaged.

“I have to quiet down and listen.” Thought the dragon. He closed his eyes and listened for any noise that would give away the location of the werewolf. There were two sounds he could hear. One was of wood hitting stone and the other was claws clutching rock.

“So, he thinks using the staff to hit rock will distract me huh? Well I know where he is now, so I will wait for him to strike.” Thought the Omni. The sounds of the claws became loud then disappeared.

“Got you.” Mused Xerxes as he opened his eyes and used his tail to smack the wolf down to the ground. The dragon smiled but then felt more pain. Looking to his wings, the bottom right had been damaged by a claw. His wings could no longer support him as he plummeted to the ground, hitting head first. Both creatures were on the ground, both dazed from the other’s attacks.

Wolfgang declared. “The first person to rise wins the fight.” Xerxes heard the words but was feeling so dizzy and beat that he was having a hard time getting himself up. He looked across the way at his opponent and was stunned. Pelzgrauen had gotten up, supporting himself on his staff. Wolfgang proclaimed, “The chief is the winner. We shall go with his plan of action.” Xerxes growled from where he laid beaten on the ground.

Pelzgrauen came over and lifted the dragon to his feet and brought him to his tent. Together with Wolfgang they began healing the scaly creature. Xerxes opened his eyes and saw that the two had their hands covered in a silvery liquid.

“It is Silbermond if you were wondering. A potion that heals with the power of moonlight.” Pelzgrauen stated while pointing at the opening at the top of the tent. “You know you would have won if you had continued your momentum. What stopped you?”

“My scar activated in the middle of the battle. It left me stunned and I had lost where you were at that point.” Replied Xerxes.

The older werewolf smiled and went to leave. “Get some rest noble dragon. We set off in a couple minutes.” The Omni sat up, noticing that Wolfgang had finished the healing, and that the wolf still in human form had turned away.

“You lost it?” Questioned Wolfgang. Xerxes was nervous knowing that he had just recovered, and that this werewolf had a dark energy about him. Thinking on it, he had never gone into his wolf form the whole time he had been with Xerxes.

The dragon answered, “Not lost, stolen. I know where the thief is going. That is why I wanted to go towards the faction of the rebel magicians.”

Wolfgang whipped around his eyes had gone to slits and his fur was beginning to grow on his face. “That was a family heirloom. It was the last thing my father gave to me before he died!” His body was transforming more rapidly with black fur growing everywhere.

“I am sorry for losing it, we will get it back Wolfgang. Trust me I know how precious it is to keep the heritage that others left behind for you. I promise that we will get it back undamaged.” Sincerely apologized Xerxes. Wolfgang looked at the dragon and was satisfied with the answer he was given. Slowly the fur went away, and his eyes went back to round pupils. As the moment passed, the two soon prepared for the journey ahead.

 

Chapter 3

The Voyage

The tribe had to make sail fast. Dawn was approaching, meaning that the werewolves would be at half strength.

“Why do we not wait till the next night? They will not find us here with the protections we have placed to shield us.” Questioned Wolfgang.

Pelzgrauen sighed and looked at the young wolf. “Because we are only strong with the moon. Those wards will not be as strong as what they were at night. You know this.” Wolfgang looked at the side gritting his teeth. “Trust me Wolfgang. We will get your medallion back. But right now, we need to get back to safety or at least another land where they will not find us.” With that, the older werewolf turned to the ships. The tents had been packed onto the eight boats, they looked more like kayaks, but the wolves were insisting that they were to be called boats. The “boats” were made of single pine trees hollowed out so that they could float across the water.

“Oh, this feels safe.” Sarcastically stated Xerxes aloud as he climbed into the boat with Wolfgang. The werewolf glared at him wanting to say something back but smiled and shook his head in agreement.

Pelzgrauen stood up at the head boat and spoke to the tribe. “Wolves of the moon. We will return home with our mission accomplished. We must have courage as we pass over the Moana. Stealth is what we need as we cross over rolling wave after wave. Sail to the north first toward the island of Graecia. We will go through the Pass of Discidium, north of the island. Make for the region of Orario in the land of Epoca before sailing along the border toward our homeland of Baum. May you take faith in each other as we set off.” With that, the old werewolf sat down and made ready to sail. Xerxes and Wolfgang looked at each other and nodded before grabbing their oars and rowing.

The sun was about to come up as they left the cove. The dragon could tell that the wolves were not looking as strong as they had been, appearing more as humans. Passing pillar and pillar of stone, the tribe was silent as they effortless navigated without a sound. They were just about to leave the coast of Contritus when Pelzgrauen suddenly used his staff to summon a moon shield. Xerxes was surprised until he saw what was happening. From one of the stone pillars, a bullet had torn through the sky and hit the old werewolf in the right arm. His arm now bleeding a little, the wolf held the barrier as multiple shots hit the shield. They could see now that the pillars were lookout towers used to spot enemies, and they had fallen for the trap. Three of the pillars were in range of them. Xerxes eyes went into a slit as he transformed into Matahari form. He shot a fire ball at the closest tower and watched as it crumbled to pieces. The other two towers blew horns before the werewolves could shoot their arrows at the occupants. “Not good not good.” Panicked Xerxes. Looking at the sky, he could see the bat like creatures coming at the boats. The Armorph dragons, about four of them, had come to answer the distress horns.

Information came flooding into the Omnis brain about the strange race. The Armorph had the unique ability to transform parts of their bodies into weapons. They were developed by experiments that Jiqeeran and Chenfa dragons performed together. They took one of the Chenfa and tried to see if it could mimic other objects other than itself. While attempting and not really succeeding, one of the guns being used was fired off by accident and hit the machine they were using. A blast of purple energy shot out and morphed the weapons into several of the Chenfa dragons. Their appearances changed from their single colored skin like scales to purple bat like skin. Their arms had morphed into swords without them thinking about it. The wings on their back grew twice in length and had sharp metallic edges to each bat like wing. Down their back formed curved spines like claws that went down to their now elongated tail which had a mace head at the end of it. They found out that they could morph their bodies into weapons and went to go show their clan in the land of Yin Ben. The Chenfa were horrified by the weaponized creatures that came home to them. Not knowing what these dragons would do, they banished them from their land. The new weaponized creatures left saddened and angered to the land of Contritus. There they found comradery with the goblins who welcomed them with open arms. Ever since that day, they have called themselves Armorph and have stayed loyal friends to the goblin race.

Now these dragons were attacking the tribe of Moonclaw. The beings let loose a rain of missiles, bullets, and arrows. Pelzgrauen could no longer hold the shield as it broke into pieces. The Armorph dove in changing their hands to swords to slash at anyone near them. The wolves could not keep up with them in their boats, many getting slashed and injured. Wolfgang jumped up as one of them got close. He stood on its back and waved at it as it reared its head back at him. With that, he dropkicked his leg down onto its right wing and broke it. The dragon roared as it swirled down while Wolfgang jumped off and landed on another boat. The other three were still swarming the canoes. Xerxes could not do anything for they were too close to the tribe and too fast.

“Only one thing to do.” He thought. All the sudden the sea around his boat flowed up to him and incased him in a ball of flowing water.

Wolfgang jumped back onto his boat and asked, “What do you think you are doing? You are going to sink the boat!”

“Just watch.” Replied Xerxes. The flowing water broke into droplets and revealed that the Omni had changed forms. There stood in front of Wolfgang a dragon with dark blue scaled skin. Down his back where spines that shot out webbed together with skin. A large dorsal fin shot out from his back that were between two webbed wings. His tail had transformed into a caudal or tail fin with smaller fins formed two on each side. In the front, his chest to belly were a teal in color. The arms where of the same dark blue as the rest of the body with five clawed fingers with webbing in between them. The feet were similar but only had three digits webbed while the one stuck out in the back of the foot. The dragon flew up into the sky and spurted a blast of water from its lips directly hitting one of the Armorphs into the water. The other two came at him, their hands thrusted forward into lances. The scaled lizard dove into the water quickly. The other two stopped and looked around, waiting to see a glimpse of the enemy. From out beneath them, Xerxes sprang up and hit one of them with his tail fin while the other was blasted with a jet of water from his mouth. The two were launched away into the water. Moments later they flew out, grabbed their broken winged comrade, and retreated to Contritus. Xerxes went back to his boat and water flowed out of him, bringing him back to his human form.

“How?” That was all Wolfgang had to say. Omnis were known to use any power of the other dragon species, but not turn into them. Again, he asked the question. “Xerxes, how did you change forms to a Kikorangi?” The dragon looked from side to side, avoiding eye contact with the wolf.

Pelzgrauen answered his question, “The Gem of Cogni correct?” They both looked at the Omni, who sighed. He began to glow and showed them the item. The marquis jewel shined brightly in an arrangement of colors.

“I thought that was just a legend?” Astonished a surprised Wolfgang.

Xerxes began to spin the tale, “Long ago after the creation of the original races there came a time of great conflict. They began arguing over lands and who was higher than whom. A war, the Conflict of Elemental and Metaphysical Forces, broke out that showed no side was going to win, only death for all who partook. Instead the land became polluted both in nature and of mind. New species of dragons were created, and darker beasts were being formed. Thus, one day the Omnis were born, well to be correct one of them was created.”

“Why not a whole army of them? Wouldn’t that have been quicker with less blood shed?” Questioned the young werewolf.

“Then you would have ran into the same problem that occurred later in history. You know the one that caused all this catastrophe?” Pointed out the dragon before continuing. “Anyways his name was Omnes and he was given the gift of the Gem of Cogni. With this he was able to transform himself into any race of dragons. Using this, he spread peace throughout the land of Magitotum not only with force but with words. Being able to show them that even the most powerful of beings can humble themselves to make a better world. Those were the principles we were taught before the corruption began.” Xerxes finished his story and found themselves between the coasts of Graecia and Fabulum.

“Then why did this not appear earlier? The conquest of the world would have been much easier for the Omnis with that weapon. Being able to infiltrate societies without anyone able to notice them.” Remarked Wolfgang.

“You missed the point of the story then young wolf.” Informed Pelzgrauen. “The gem is not a weapon, it is a tool for understanding. Only the dragon with the right intentions was going to be allowed to even touch it.” The gem went back inside Xerxes as they sat in the boat. “We are reaching the pass soon. Be on guard and stick together.” Ordered Pelzgrauen before going back to his boat while holding onto his arm.

“Yet another detail you forgot to mention.” Commented Wolfgang with annoyance in his voice.

The dragon closed his eyes before giving him a reply. “I tend not to open up to anyone Wolfgang and you cannot blame me, given my back ground. And come to think of it, you are not one to talk. You seem to stay silent except for when you choose to criticize someone’s decisions.”

The young werewolf growled back and turned away from the dragon. “Since the death of my family I vowed an oath of silence until I had gotten justice. I only broke that silence since you saved my people. I thought I could trust you.” Quietly stated the son of Moonclaw. Xerxes eyes opened and looked at the half blind being in front of him. He looked down at his hands, weighing out the risks of telling him anything. Giving him any information what so ever could cause a risk to both him and the one who carries the knowledge. Finally realizing that the werewolf was right and that he trusted him as well, he began to tell the son of Moonclaw about his life before the invasion of Delsey. The two talked back and forth both laughing about their lives before the witch.

“I remember one time a leprechaun came into our village and was very rude. Ruder than an ogre’s table manners.” Reminisced Wolfgang. The two chuckled at the joke. “Any way he was making a ruckus about how we, in his own colorful words, were flea bitten pups who were weak for serving anyone especially the Omnis and he demanded for my father’s amulet. As werewolves you know that was not going to go over well. So, we grabbed the shorty and strung up a net. We played volleyball with him as the ball for about an hour. Then we watched him stumble this way and that before walking straight into a tree. He snapped out of it and yelled that he would remember this day; before running to his ship. It was an entertaining day.” Wolfgang seemed like he was living back in that moment.

Xerxes began to share his tale, “Back during training, we used to have multiple areas of expertise. There were basic exercises such as jogging, flying, target practice, climbing, sneak attacks, and etcetera; but one of my favorites was elemental focuses or Primus abilities. Each of us excelled at different disciplines of power. For Omnis and all dragons, there are two major branches of abilities. There are the Primus and Eximus categories. Primus dragons are those of the more the basic foundations such as the ones influenced by fire, water, and electricity. The Eximus are complicated powers such as time, dark, and light. My focus area is Primus so when the teacher came in I thought it would be funny to shock him when he was not looking. Every time he turned around to mark something on his tiny blackboard that he wheeled around, I would give him a quick shot of electricity. He would then whirl around trying to catch who it was shocking him. After about three shocks he got upset enough that he accidently spun himself into a tornado. He went up then fell head first into the ground. We all busted out laughing and I said that I could watch that over and over again. My younger brother, being an Eximus dragon, used his talents of time to replay the stunt repeatedly. We ended up having to take care of all the damage the tornado did along with a hundred wing ups, but it was well worth it.” Chuckled Xerxes with his eyes sparkling from the memory.

“You had a brother?” Asked Wolfgang seriously.

The dragon did not realize that he had slipped that out. He recoiled back with a sad expression and held his legs with his arms. “Yes, had being the main word in that sentence.” Responded the dragon sadly.

The werewolf gazed at the dragon and found himself asking a question. “Xerxes, are you going to be ok?” The Omni did not respond at first but sat with his eyes empty. He starred into his mind and saw his brother smiling back at him. Xerxes knew that he owed his brother to make this world a better place.

His eyes slowly came back to focus and answered, “Yes Wolfgang I will be fine. Just that the past still haunts me as you well know from experience.”

The two looked at each other in silence before Wolfgang asked silently, “By the way what is a wing up? Do you touch your toes with your wings? Because that seems like it would be too easy for you.”

Xerxes looked back at the werewolf while smiling. “A wing up is basically just a pushup but using my wings instead of my hands.”

“You Omnis always had to outshine the rest of us.” The wolf said sarcastically. Xerxes patted the creature on the back.

They had spent three days in the boats and where halfway through the Pass of Discidium. The pair was sitting down sharing more stories with each other laughing all along the way. They started to realize around sunset that the others were not as jolly. As the night approached, the kayaks began to be in chaos. The tribe was quarrelling and starting to attack each other.

“Why did we even go on this mission?”

“Yeah the Omnis left us for dead when we were attacked.”

“Did you not listen to the story? We saved the hero that saved our village!”

“Except it was his people that caused our ruin.”

“But we can rebuild and have peace.”

“No one can oppose that witch. We must secure our borders not chase after a fantasy.”

The werewolves argued back and forth like this until Pelzgrauen spoke up. “We will help the Omni because it is our duty to do so. We did not stand up against them the last time and we let the world fall to ruin because of it. We will not make that mistake again.”

“What do you know old man? You were the one that aligned us with them in the first place. You are not even worthy to lead us.” Pelzgrauen’s eyes turned to slits as he charged forward and smacked the wolf who said it in the face with his staff. The werewolves all began to turn into their true forms. Furs of gray littered the water began to show. Their claws extend from their hands as they snarled and growled. They pounced onto each other clawing and biting. Pelzgrauen had three werewolves attacking him. One launched himself at the older chief, and was grabbed by the tail. Pelzgrauen used him to smack the other wolves away before throwing the sore creature into the water.

Xerxes and Wolfgang were baffled by the spectacle before them. They charged forward trying to hold back the werewolves from killing each other. The dragon changed to his water form and knocked a few of them out with the ocean while holding others by the scruffs of their necks.

Wolfgang went straight to the chief staying as a human. He grabbed the old man’s staff. “What are you doing leader? This is not like you.”

“I have suppressed the thirst for battle long enough. I will let my inner beast free. You are weak to deny yourself that pleasure. You were always weak, that is why your family died.” Hollered Pelzgrauen. The young wolf snapped as his fur grew to its black color. He began to grow in height to double his size. His claws grew long and razor sharp. More impressively, an energy with the pale light of the moon began to glow around him.

“That’s it… This… ends… NOW!” With that, the energy around him exploded out, splintering most of the ships. Xerxes saw the blast coming but could not get out of the way in time. The tribe was blasted into the water with most of their boats destroyed.

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