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Scars and Scales (A further glimpse)

(I have decided to show more of my book to all you lovely people. With this, you will be able to see more of the world of Magitotum. ATTENTION: THIS POST REVEALS SPOILERS OF PREVIOUS POSTS. I HIGHLY SUGGEST YOU LOOK AT THE POST, SCARS AND SCALES, BEFORE READING THIS PART. THE LINK IS LOCATED HERE: https://kcjhutchins.com/2018/06/08/scars-and-scales/ )

Chapter 4

A Trip Underground

Xerxes awoke from his slumber to find himself on a shore. “Oh, my head. What smells like wet dog?” He looked to his left and saw Wolfgang perched in his werewolf form looking at him with his big green eyes. The dragon jumped back a bit before remembering what happened. “Where did the rest of the tribe go?” The black-haired werewolf did not respond but simply glared at him. “I know being silent is your thing, but you are starting to freak me out here bud. Can you tell me what happened?”

Wolfgang powered down to his human form before speaking. “The Pass of Discidium causes those who pass through to fight with their companions. I cannot figure out for the life of me why we were not affected. I was looking at you with my wolf eyes to see if there was an aura or spell that protected you which would be like mine. But I have found nothing that we both share in that aspect.”

“The wolves all seemed to start to speak their minds about the plan. Before all of them did not say a word about the decision to take on the missions that Pelzgrauen assigned them. Maybe it was because we were being honest with each other about what our thoughts were on the voyage. Somehow we avoided the enchantment by already telling what bothered us.” Observed Xerxes.

Wolfgang nodded before looking out at the sea. A distant bright light could be seen. “You know Wolfgang you still have not answered my question. Where is the tribe?”

The wolf turned to Xerxes and answered, “They pressed on with their voyage. I guided them in the right direction between the island of Kebakaran and the region of Orario.”

“I was wondering what that light was on the water. So that is the island of fire then huh? The home of all fire breathing dragons, the Matahari. A lot brighter than I thought it would be.” Remarked Xerxes.

“What do you mean? I thought as an Omni you would have visited most if not all the regions the dragons held. Not to mention you used that form so many times thus far in our battles.” Questioned Wolfgang.

“Unfortunately, no. They kept me back specifically inside our lands for two reasons. One, they felt as if I was one of their strongest warriors thus they wanted to make sure their borders were secured.”

“Well that is one thing the Omnis had right.” Sarcastically stated Wolfgang.

The dragon thought for a moment before replying, “I do not know if I should be offended or happy about that comment. The second reason was they thought I would be, in their words, corrupted by the other species.”

“What do you mean corrupted?” Asked the werewolf.

The dragon explained, “The supposed royal king was trying to make only his will to be knowledge. We were taught that we were superior to all and that all were to bow down before us. The other dragons were mere flies to be swatted away. We knew all and therefore did not need to learn anything from the others. However, some of us disagreed.”

“Yourself included I am guessing.” Half asked Wolfgang.

“You know me too well.” Smiled Xerxes. “My brother and I both would sneak out of Omnetotus to meet with other races, to learn from them. We understood their plights, movements, thoughts, and even got to taste a lot of their wonderful food. I can still taste the grilled mango, chicken, and pineapple wrapped in banana leaves the Madeira would make for us.”

“Those are quite good.” Added Wolfgang who was remembering the taste upon his lips.

“So why did we split off from the pack and more importantly, where are we?” Asked Xerxes.

“We split off from them because, as much as I do not want to admit it, you are right. We need to be a group of different races, not just the Omni and werewolves. They will get the wrong impression that way and may think we want things back the old way. As to where we are, I am sure if you looked around you could tell.” The dragon snorted at the werewolf a puff of smoke before looking behind him.

In front of Xerxes was a large valley that ran between two mountain ranges. The valley was made of grey slated rock that cragged up and down the landscape. Even the shore they were standing was made of the same stone. On top of many of the rocks, grassy moss and trees sprang up giving the valley a splash of green. A great river flowed from a mountain at the end of the gorge to the middle of basin where a waterfall crashed into the lake below. Around it, a ring of tall pine trees lined the banks. The forest spread from there, blanketing the middle of the valley of pines, spruces, and firs. The rest of the gorge was filled with loose grey rock that a few seemed to move. The mountains surrounding the basin were of the same color with snow covering those further to the North.

Thinking back to his memory, the dragon remembered this land. “This is Petram, the land of stone. The Racconto, also known as stone dragons, live here along with the dwarves.” Mechanically stated the Omni.

“That is right except you forgot one other thing. There are more than just the dwarves and Racconto here. Stonewall and his army claim their land to be here as well. They are underlings of the witch after all.” Informed Wolfgang.

The dragon agreed, “Good point. If I remember right, the Racconto are at the mountain at the end of the gorge. We should get going before we are spotted by someone.”

Night fell over the valley as the two made their way over the loose rock. They neared the edge of the forest when Wolfgang stopped them. “You think the two rocks behind us will follow in there?” Whispered the werewolf.

“I do not know honestly. They have been following us for a while. I cannot tell if they are Racconto or one of Stonewall’s men from here. I would need a closer look, but that could risk…” Before he could finish his warning, a small rock shot past them and splintered a tree in front of them. A tall stone man stood on top of the hill behind them. He was at least seven feet high and had a chiseled figure. His face was broad and scarred with his nose sharp at the tip. He was bold as rock goes except for beads of stones that went down from his chin, which they assumed to be a beard. His left arm was robotic all the way up to his shoulder. It was made of black cast iron with red veins that glowed almost magically. In his right hand he held, a rifle that looked like it was made of combination of diamond and osmium. At the butt of the gun were two metal teeth hinges that spread out in a ravenous hunger. The figure brought the back down and the hinges clamped down onto the ground. It was chewed up by the contraption and the figure put the gun back on his shoulder. He fired at their feet which made a small crater to form and for dust to kick up into the air. The two were blinded for a moment but could hear the figure order his men, “Surround them and cut off their escape. They ain’t allowed to get away.”

Xerxes was the first to recover and see what was heading towards them. The men made of stone were thundering towards them, making the very ground shake from their steps. Their faces contained big eyes, square noses, and small mouths. Soon their run turned into rolling as they attempted to get behind the pair and cut them off from the forest. The dragon turned into his Matahari form and flew them over the golems in their way. While over the forest, a shot rang out. Xerxes had been hit at the top of his left wing. The Omni shivered at the injury as it had broken bad enough for bone to pierce through the skin. The dragon fell to the forest while carrying Wolfgang who had finally gotten his sight back in his right eye.

“I did not want to open my eyes to this.” Said the son of Moonclaw as they hit the ground. He got up right away and noticed that Xerxes was not recovering. He pushed the dragon to get up. “Come on Xerxes we need to keep moving or we will be captured.”

“I can’t move much. That shot had a bite to it and it is hard to move my shoulder without having to stop. I need it healed or I could lose my wing and a fair amount of blood to go with it.” Growled the dragon through gritted teeth. Regrettably, Wolfgang knew he was right and got to work quickly on it. Using a vial of Silbermond, he began to work on the injury. The sounds of rolling rock were approaching fast. He had to hurry or this whole quest was going to end here and now. Suddenly the ground beneath him shook and the two fell through the hole. Dazed, the werewolf looked up and was astonished to see that the hole had been filled already. Looking to his right, their stood a man. He stood at four feet tall carrying a hammer across his shoulder. The black head of it had a curved end with a sharp tip while the other was like a mallet. The figure wore boots of brown leather with armor that shined brilliant colors. It seemed to be made of red scales that covered the breast plate and the back while the shoulder blades were made of iron laced with diamonds. The gauntlets were made of chrome and showed visible circuits of different colors. Around his waist he wore a belt that had several leather packs with the buckle bore the symbol of a hammer. His pants were made of scales that were thinner and blue in color. Looking at the figure’s face, he could see that his dirty blonde hair was full of bits of rocks and dirt, his beard was short, and had eyes that were steely blue in color.

“This way now!” The figure said. Wolfgang nodded and lifted Xerxes arm around his back. With the support, the dragon walked with them following the figure. As they ran on, they could hear that the enemy was no longer near them. The stranger stopped in front of them in a cavern. As they entered, they could see it was filled with beautiful gems and crystals of ruby, sapphire, emerald, and even a few diamonds.

The stranger finally spoke again. “That was close. Welcome my friends, my name is Sindri. You are now under the land of Petram, where the dwarfs dwell. We call this under realm Skapejuvel. Who are you?”

Wolfgang was going to answer until he heard the groans coming from Xerxes. “I will tell you if you can give me a space to heal him. He is seriously injured and needs medical attention.” Sindri stooped down and grabbed the dragon’s other arm and led them down a cavern full of sparkling opal gems. The brilliant colors filled the room blinding the werewolf. He heard stones move as a passage way formed in front of them, seeming to carve itself out. They carried on as the tunnel behind them sealed itself. The werewolf was amazed when he saw that they stood in a room flooded with moonlight. All around on the cavern room floors and walls were moonstones that reflected the pale light of the moon that poured in from a hole in the ceiling.

“You need the moon light, right? This is the best place for this.” Informed Sindri. They laid the dragon on his belly as the werewolf began to work.

After several minutes of procedure, Xerxes eyes opened slowly seeing only pale light at first. “Am I dead yet?”

Wolfgang chuckled a little before saying, “No not yet. It is much too early for you to leave us.”

“Too bad, then I would not have to listen to your sarcasm anymore.” The dragon smiled as he got himself up noticing that Sindri was still there. “Sindri correct? Thank you for leading us away from that battle. If it was not for you, I might have lost my wing back there.”

“Don’t thank me yet Omni. The king will not be happy that I helped a member of your kind. Although I could sneak you out of here without them noticing you.” Sternly said the dwarf.

“Well time to see if you are a descendent of Omnes. Cause diplomacy is going to be your problem.” Joked Wolfgang.

“Thanks for the support fur ball. Alright, I request an audience with the king then. I do not want to hide or offend the great king of Skapejuvel.” Sindri was shocked by the words coming out of the dragon’s mouth. None had requested an audience with their king for years, let alone said that they did not want to offend him. Never the less, the dwarf bowed and led them down a corridor that opened into a great hall.

The huge throne room was a cavern that had pillars leading to the throne. Each pillar was made of a different gem, six in total. The gems were ruby, sapphire, emerald, topaz, amethyst, and peridot. The walls had lines of gold, diamond, and silver that ran down to the throne which was made of the blue gem of lapis lazuli with a pink Thulite gem carved out into the emblem of the dwarves, the hammer they had seen on Sindri’s belt, on the top of the great seat. There sitting on the chair was a dwarf whose grey beard trailed down and around his throne. His armor was made of simple iron and steel that seemed to be clunky in nature. He wore metal boots that clanked with every shift in his movement. On his head, he wore a crown made of black onyx intertwined with four jewels of Thulite. His face was rough, with a big nose, and his dark purple eyes looked deep in thought. The king looked up from his hands and saw the three approaching. Immediately he motioned his hands to his two guards standing next to them. They both raised their axes and stood at an attack position. Sindri took a step back in instinct before bowing down.

With one arm across his chest in a fist, Xerxes stepped forward and bowed. “Great King, my name is Xerxes, descendent of Omnes. I seek to speak with you in peace. Please if you could refrain your guards from trying to show hostility towards us.”

The king looked at him straight in the eyes before speaking slowly, “Words are what breeds conflict. The tongue is a sword that all creatures are free to use. They cut each other down leaving only destruction in their path. Especially in your path filth.” Wolfgang was growling behind the dragon and was about to speak when they heard a voice.

“My king, but isn’t it also true that words can heal and instill change? One person’s voice has the ability to influence courage in others, to rise forward, to transform that which may be wrong.” Spoke back Sindri.

“Then that change may be worse than where it began. Not all change is good, most is only an illusion to mask the old tortures we once knew.” Replied the old king.

“But not all my lord. Some change is a progressive step for a better future. Those moments given are the ones we must take the opportunity to make a better world unless we stay in a ruined past.” Argued Sindri.

The old king stroked his beard several times thinking hard on what the younger dwarf had said. With another movement of his hands, the guards lowered their weapons. Xerxes stood up and looked at the king while Wolfgang unclenched his fists. Sindri stood forward next to the dragon.

The older dwarf then spoke, “You are lucky, Omni, that you have the support of one of our kin. Speak now reptile of why you came here.”

The dragon approached the throne and spoke, “King of the dwarves, I come before you to say that I am sorry. My people did terrible acts that caused the very poison of this land. When they wanted your metals, they took them by force. Many of your people were massacred and for that I am sorry. I do not wish further death and ruin to them.”

The king looked surprised at the words coming from the dragon’s lips. He spoke, “This could not be the only reason that you have come to this land for… no you seek something, power perhaps?” Xerxes knew that the old dwarf was looking for a reason to be mad. Only the truth will smooth this over, he thought.

The reptile spoke, “We found you on pure accident when brave Sindri saved us from the army of Stonewall. Thanks to him I did not lose one of my wings along with the healing of my friend Wolfgang. At first, my intentions when coming here was to recruit both you and the Racconto to join with me against Delsey. But as I was led through these tunnels I was seeing images of dwarfs burnt alive and cave-ins that trapped others to their doom with no oxygen. The one memory that made me forget asking was walking into this throne room. I saw with my eyes the reminder of how they killed your son and wife in front of you, helpless to do anything from a rock that had trapped you under. I cannot ask of you to do anything for me when you have suffered so greatly at the devilish hands of my people. With this, I will take my leave of your kingdom and leave you to defend it. Know this though wise king, if there is anything that you need of me, only ask and I will be here to help in whatever way I can.”

With that Xerxes turned to leave the throne room when he was stopped by the king’s voice. “Stop.” The dragon looked around to see the old dwarf with a tear in his eye. He spoke again, “I have one problem that I need help with. This throne has been enchanted by Delsey herself. It has made me refined to it for the rest of my life and lengthened my beard. The only times I get to walk free is when they come to get metal or need repairs. It is blackmail to make sure we do not rise against them.” The dragon looked toward Wolfgang who came forward and inspected the throne.

“What do you feel keeps you down if you try to get up?” Questioned the werewolf.

“It feels as though gravity keeps me down on my throne like a great stone is on my shoulders.” Inspecting the throne, only a little while longer, Wolfgang sniffed and glared at every inch of it. After circling around the king enough times to make anyone dizzy, he stopped for a moment. He opened one of his pouches on his belt and pulled out a pale powder. He sprinkled it around the throne and onto the beard that surrounded the seat. With a blow, he spread the rest on the king before cutting off the old dwarf’s beard. He quickly pulled the short creature off and placed him standing on the floor.

The old king stood on his two feet once again. The dwarfs bowed down recognizing that their king had risen again. One of his guards grabbed an iron hammer that was leaning against a nearby wall. It had a spike that stuck out of the end of the handle while the back end of the head curved much like a scythe. The weapon was easily the size of the king as he picked it up with pride. A smirk appeared on his face as he spun it above his head before setting it down by the handle onto the floor and leaned on the head of the weapon.

With a deep breath in and out he said, “That was something I have wanted to do for, so long. Thank you Wolfgang, honorable son of the Moonclaw tribe.” The werewolf simply bowed slightly to acknowledge the compliment. “Now back to the Omni. You recognized several things the rest of your people did not Xerxes.” Observed the old king.

“And what would that be great dwarf king?” Questioned the dragon.

“Compassion, loyalty, and even with all the power you possess, you still need help. You showed me that comradery and humbleness are more important than personal pride or power. Because of my own blindness, I was stuck to that throne due to not asking for help outside of my own people. I only allowed myself to drown in my grief and have permitted a greater threat to afflict my kingdom. I will help you in what you seek Xerxes since you have helped me. Sindri, I would also like to congratulate you as well. You showed me that even a wise king needs to listen to others. With this, I appoint you as the next king of Skapejuvel after I am gone. When that day comes, I know that our people will see a brighter future. Now let us feast!” Laughed the king as he led them to a corridor down the right side of the throne.

As they walked into the banquet hall, Xerxes could see that hanging from the ceiling were stalactites that glowed like fire above the tables. The walls were aligned with torches that lit up the room further and showed off the dwarves’ craftsmanship of stones. Three long wood tables were in the hall with many seats on either side. Each had thrones that stood at the ends of each table. The king sat at the one in the middle that was ornamented with gold, silver, and bronze that entwined the arms to the ground. The other two remained empty, the one on the king’s left made only of pink Thulite and the one on his right was made of black onyx. He looked sadly at the two seats before the dwarfs of Skapejuvel yelled, “Hail King Alfrigg!”

The king smiled and motioned for all to sit. “May we always remember the day that the honorable Omni Xerxes, his companion of Moonclaw Wolfgang, and the wisest of us all Sindri brought us out of despair. To their health and that they may free Magitotum!”

“To freedom!” the hall rang out.

The three sat on the right in front of King Alfrigg and began to discuss Xerxes’ plan of liberation. “Smart, other than the problem of how many different creatures you have to befriend. Not to mention that most of them hate your guts and that all of Delsey’s forces are looking for you.” Remarked Sindri.

“That is almost exactly what I said.” Smugly added Wolfgang.

“Ok I got it I got it. It is a difficult road ahead, but my plan has the best shot of succeeding. If we work together we could pull this off. And wait a minute. Weren’t you the one that gave that inspiring speech to the king about how we must ‘take the next bold steps toward the future?’” The dwarf shrugged before drinking more mead from his mug.

“I guess then I should go with you. After all you are going to need all the help you can get, your words do not exactly ring out as inspirational.” Bluntly stated Sindri.

“We would be honored if you joined us. Now enough business, let’s enjoy this victory while it lasts.” Mused Xerxes while raising his mug.

“I can drink to that.” Resounded Wolfgang as he raised his glass and drank the rest of his mead. The halls filled with laughter that night as the dwarfs took new steps towards freedom.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

A History Lesson

The morning came as Xerxes awoke in a corner in the banquet hall. He had a minor headache from the partying and looked around the room. Most of the dwarfs were still passed out on top of the tables or on the floor. One of the tables had been smashed into two and the king’s hammer somehow had been lodged into the ceiling. Wolfgang was in his werewolf form and laid on his side. Sindri slept with his head resting on the fur ball’s stomach. The dragon chuckled and realized he was still in his Matahari form. He looked around and could see that he may have scorched some of the walls. Further laughter came from his throat as he tried to remember the night before.

The dragon noticed that the king was not in the hall. Xerxes powered down to his human self and headed towards the throne room. The throne was still empty with the beard decaying as it leaked dull, yellow magic. He saw the king leaning against the towering emerald pillar in the throne room, looking at his reflection.

“Emerald, the stone of balance and patience. My people built this towering gem for it is also believed that it can promote peaceful dreams. Always they followed me blindly and never lost faith even when my judgement was clouded. A leader is supposed to inspire greatness in others; but in truth there are times that a leader must rely on those who follow him for strength. Never forget that Xerxes.” Wisely counseled Alfrigg as he turned to the dragon.

Xerxes bowed while responding, “I will not great king. I do have to ask, where should we precede to get to the Mount Storia, the home of the Raccontos? There seems to be only one way to get across that mountain, which would be to go through the Plains of Nocciolo. By now, the armies of Stonewall must have gotten through the forest to there and formed a perimeter around the mountain. There has to be a way around the plains.”

The king replied, “The army would not go through the forest, they will go over the mountain pass on the east side of Petram. Their bodies and weapons are to massive to fit through the gaps between trees. Thus, I advise you that in the forest, there is a cave that leads to the mountain you seek. There is a catch though. We dwarves have no idea where this entrance is. The Raccontos have kept it hidden for many generations and have not shared its location with any. You will have to find it on your own. Safe travels and may you find strength in both you and those around you.” The dragon bowed and left the hall.

Xerxes, Wolfgang, and Sindri left the kingdom of Skapejuvel from a cave that led into the forest. As they walked down the trail, Wolfgang raised a question to Sindri. “I noticed that your armor is very different from the rest of the dwarfs. Most wore a simple mix of iron and steel plate armor but yours seem to incorporate dragon scales. Why is that?”

Sindri replied. “As you know, dwarves are master craftsmen. However, when the king was deep in his grieving, most of the dwarfs dedicated their work to fixing Alfrigg, becoming masters in enchanted items such as the pillars you saw in the king’s hall. When that did not work, they began losing the love of their work. I, however, continued to make and improve my armor. I incorporated Matahari scales in the breast plate and most of my armor to increase the strength and resistance to fire. The scales of the Kikorangi, the water dragons, on the lower half of my armor are to give flexibility and better motion in case I fall in water. These gauntlets are made of a chrome like substance named Melior. It is a metal that absorbs whatever I choose to improve its strength. For example, I chose to capture electricity in my gauntlets along with some robotic tech. It gives me the option to stun opponents that get too close. It also-”

Xerxes then angerly interjected. “How did you get the dragon scales and the Melior? That metal was only developed by the Jiqeeran and the last time I checked they were far away from Petram let alone Skapejuvel.”

Sindri could see that the dragon’s pupils had turned into lines. “I was gifted the metal by the Jiqeeran for repairing a few of their dragons that had crashed here. The scales were given to me by the Matahari and Kikorangi for fixing some of their fortresses’ defenses such as ballistae and mines.” This seemed to satisfy the dragon whose eyes went back to normal.

The three made it to the lake in the middle of the forest. They searched around for both Stonewall’s men and the cave that Alfrigg spoke of. After thoroughly searching they gave up and decided to take a dip in the lake. Xerxes and Wolfgang jumped into the lake, causing poor Sindri to get soaked. He walked annoyed into the water after stripping his armor with a deep scowl. The other two laughed hard seeing that the dwarf was already soaked. The three waded in the water before speaking.

“What if we cannot find the cave? Seriously, my people have combed through this forest thousands of times and never found even a hint. What hope do we have of finding it?” Spoke a disheartened Sindri.

“Patience Sindri. Your people are strong willed and wise, but they did not have one thing.” Stated Xerxes.

“Which is?” Questioned the dwarf.

“They did not have a werewolf with them.” He patted Wolfgang on the back.

Wolfgang informed the dwarf, “I picked up a scent like Stonewall’s when we exited the cave. However, it had faint traces of sulfur that accompanied the stone smell. According to Xerxes, the Racconto can spew lava from their back stubs, so I figured that the sulfur smell must be coming from them.”

The group got out of the lake and went to dry off. Sindri finished first followed by Xerxes, but they soon were wet again when Wolfgang shook all the water off his body. He then perched on one of the boulders by the lake that was filled with moss. The other two scowled at the werewolf as they went to dry themselves off again.

Suddenly, a voice spoke loudly, “What smells like wet dog?” The rock under Wolfgang began to rumble and move. The wolf jumped off and watched as the moss slid off to reveal a Racconto. The dragon was made of gray stone that had carvings across its rocky hide. It stood with his body being a bit bulky in the gut area and its wings being small enough to cling into its body. His arms were strong looking as thick as its legs that dug into the ground. Its tail had a club at the end which looked like it could knock out any creature. Stubs protruded from its back that seemed to have set the moss on fire. The dragon looked at the group with its brown eyes carefully and noticed the Omni.

“You are supposed to be extinct. How did you survive?” Excitedly questioned the Racconto.

Xerxes looked at the other two with him and said. “It’s kind of a long story, and we are in a hurry.”

The stone dragon looked at the Omni and stated, “I guess I will not show you the secret way to the mountain then.”

The three froze as they looked at the creature. This Racconto had been listening to everything they said and now was taunting them. “Here is the deal. You tell me how you survived Delsey’s massacre, and I will guide you to Mount Storia. We have a deal, no?” The three nodded as the dragon cannonballed into the lake; getting the company wet once again. He made his way to the waterfall that crashed upon the lake below. With a stomp, a stone slab could be heard moving down. The group looked behind the waterfall to see that a tunnel had been revealed.

Xerxes slapped his hand on his face, “Seriously? The behind the waterfall trick. How did none of us think of that?”

The Racconto got out of the water and introduced himself, “My name is Fabrizio, and this is the path that you have been searching for. Please, follow me.”

As the company made their way through the tunnel, Xerxes spun his tale of how Delsey kept him as a pet, the tribe of Moonclaw rescue, and freeing of the dwarf king Alfrigg.

“I have a lot of carving to do later.” Commented Fabrizio.

“I was going to ask about that. What are those carvings for?” Asked Wolfgang.

“Each Racconto is an expert of some part of history. Whether it be about dragons or other races, we are the keepers of the past so to speak. Mine for example is about the Omnis. I thought that the tale had meet its end. Apparently, there is going to be a lot more to come.” Replied gleefully the dragon. They continued down the path until they could see light up ahead. As they passed through, they could now behold Mount Storia. The tunnel had opened to the main road of the mountain. Along the street were huge boulders that had been carved out by the Raccontos. On the insides, they could see great carvings of dragons, sea serpents, and other races as they passed each home. As they traveled further up the cobblestone road, they could see the brown brick library that stood at the top of the hill. Walls enclosed the top of the mountain and had several lookout towers that watched the plains. The library stood above all with a tower pointed above with a tin top. The tower had a spiral of brown, gray, black, and white stones that led to the uppermost part of the building. Below the tower, the main part of the library had white marble pillars that stood tall with ornamentations influences of Ionian, Corinthian, and Doric scattered every other.

The grand doors were made of Redwood as they entered the inner part of the library. In front of them, were shelves upon shelves of books that curved all along the walls of the library, making a maze of information. The ceiling had further carvings of stories of the past. At the middle of the place, was a desk that stood behind it a Racconto who had fallen asleep with a book over his face. Across his skin was the letter z carved several times upon his body. Some etchings of dragons in night caps along with what seemed like a desert were found on his stomach. Fabrizio cleared his throat and the other dragon fell to the floor making a very loud audible thump. In unison, they heard an audible “Shhhh!” from around the library.

“I think that the ‘Shh’ was louder than the thump the dragon made.” Whispered Wolfgang. Sindri nodded in agreement.

The Racconto stood up and brushed himself, responding, “What do you want Fabrizio? Can’t you see I am trying to catch some zees?”

“Never you mind Pigroc. Just let the dean know that we are coming to see him.” The other stone dragon shook his head and sent a capsule with a piece of paper inside it up a tube that shot to the upper floors. Fabrizio bowed before continuing up a flight of stairs that had white marble banisters. As soon as the group was out of view, they heard a loud thump come from the hall.

On the second floor, was an array of artifacts pulled from different parts of Magitotum history. Among them included but not limited to; a robotic arm from the Tech War, the treaty of the Conflict of Elemental and Metaphysical Forces, and a ring that Merlin wore during the Wizard’s War. In a far-off corner behind one glass container, was a small golden medallion of a cat’s face with elongated ears. Its eyes glowed green as Sindri seem to move closer and closer to the object. Fabrizio noticed this and smacked the dwarf in the back of the head.

“The Amulet of Tawala. It allows the wearer to control anyone who looks at it directly, among other abilities. We recovered it after the fall of the Pharaoh Tandaa. The mad man attempted to control all Hadithi following the Wizard’s War. He was stopped by an alliance formed between the genies, the people of the region of Uchawi, and some rogue sorcerers from Mendaxum. They decided it was best to leave the former rulers body with his people in the region of Kunyoosha, but the medallion they needed to be sent as far away as possible. They asked us to store it here and we were happy to oblige. A piece of history is always welcomed here.” Informed Fabrizio. He continued to another set of stairs. This was a large stone spiral staircase that went from the middle of the second floor among the artifacts to the upper tower. As they climbed the stairs, they looked out to see the mountains that were topped with snow.

After many steps, they finally arrived at the top floor. Inside of this tower, sat, on a seat made of blue topaz, the dean. He was an older Racconto who was made of gneiss rock and was larger than any other rock dragon they had seen so far. Its carvings filled the entirety of its body ranging from the top of his skull to its tail. Unlike the others, the stubs on its back also spread to its arms. His wings were large and had points at the end of them. The dragon held in his right hand a book which he was reading with a pair of small glasses that lay on the end of its snout. He looked over his spectacles with his brown eyes and smiled at the Omni. Putting his book down, he opened his arms to the young dragon. Xerxes gave a tough glare at the older creature, crossing his arms. The two stared at each other until they both broke out laughing. The others in the room were confused as to why the two were acting so strangely. Xerxes leapt toward the older Racconto and gave him a hug.

“It is so good to see you again Uncle Dante.” Proclaimed Xerxes. The older dragon spoke with strong voice that seemed to shake the very room.

“My little nephew. I was so worried about you. I heard what happened and thought I lost you.” The dragon gave a tighter squeeze while smiling, his clubbed tail moved up and down much like a dog, causing the room to shake.

“Excuse me for breaking up the love fest, but how are you two related?” Spoke up Wolfgang.

The Omni looked at his uncle and asked, “Shall you tell them, or shall I?”

“It is your heritage, not mine dear nephew.” Replied Dante.

Xerxes looked at the confused onlookers and explained. “An Omni chooses one mate for life. Now normally the races never mix, but on few occasions, they do and create something wonderful. Usually when dragon races mix, they create a new race like when a Matahari and Kikorangi mate and their offspring are either Matahari, Kikorangi, or Racconto. Well Omnis are different from this pattern. When the mate is chosen from any dragon race, it becomes an Omni. My mother was a Racconto that my father fell in love with when studying at this very library. It was before the “king” and “queen” made the rule of not straying from the homeland. After the stupid rule came about, Uncle Dante would sneak in to come visit me to teach me about all the other creatures in this realm. I do not know how he pulled it off since he is such a loud mouth, that and his size, but I was grateful for the teachings he gave me.” Xerxes smiled back and gave his uncle another hug.

Sindri looked at the rather large dragon and noticed that like the other dragons, he too had etchings over his body depicting different picture. However, his were carving themselves as they spoke. The dwarf asked curiously, “Dante how are your etchings carving themselves?”

The dragon smiled at the curious young dwarf. “When you are around as long as I have you pick up a few tricks. The enchantment carves the knowledge I learn as I hear it. My subject being that of the Racconto people. So understandably new carvings are being made when something note-worthy in this kingdom comes along. The return of my nephew being one of them. However, that is not the only thing.” Said Dante with a concerned look outside.

“Uncle what is…?” Xerxes looked outside as he saw the army of Stonewall approaching. Many stone warriors were marching their way with cannons rolling in. Some rode on stone horses that galloped with such force that the earth seemed to shake. The horses had a horn that sprouted forward from their heads and a smaller one that was on the crest of their noses. Their tails were long like whips with spiked rock balls at the ends. They snorted dust that covered most of the army, but one did not need to see them to hear or feel them. The tower they stood in shook with every approaching second.

“What are we waiting for? We should be charging out to meet them on the plains. That way there will only be minimal damage to the mountain and the people.” Said Wolfgang aloud.

Dante responded, “They are not close enough yet. The advantage of being heavy is that we have the momentum to roll down this mountain strong enough to level buildings and flatten tanks. At this distance we would lose that strength just before hitting them.”

“You are not looking hard enough. They have cannons and guns that can shoot from that distance. They do not need to get any closer than where they stand now. We need to attack now…” Before finishing a compressed boulder blasted through the tower, collapsing the room they stood in. Quickly Dante grabbed Sindri and Wolfgang before he curled up into a boulder as Fabrizio did the same. Xerxes quickly changed to a Racconto and followed his uncle’s lead.

Everyone inside the building had gotten out safely before the it turned to rubble. When they realized that their guests and leader were missing, they began to search through the ruins. The inhabitants of Mount Storia removed the rubble to see if they were alright. First, they found their dean and tapped on his hard skin twice. The Racconto grunted before he uncurled, revealing that Sindri and Wolfgang were fine. Fabrizio was also found unharmed from the damage caused by the golem army just outside the city. Ironically, Pigroc had slept through the whole ordeal and was unhappy being woken up from his peaceful nap. Xerxes erupted from the rubble before he was found and revealed his Racconto form. This form was made of gray granite stone while the stubs on his back were spiked and, much like his uncle, ran down the length of his arms. The end of his tail was rounded with a spear like tip that seemed to be dipped in diamonds. He looked towards the others and was relieved that they were unscathed.

“Uncle we need to fight back. Your tactics are strong but unfortunately, we do not have the opportunity to enact them. We are going to have to face them head on. Your mountain only allows one point of access to the field and the momentum you create rolling down will make it so that you will be unharmed to any incoming projectiles.” Quickly reasoned Xerxes.

Dante nodded back and rallied his men to the top of the mountain. They were ready to roll off when Sindri spoke up with an idea. “What if we could outflank them? If we could somehow force them to move closer to the mountain, Dante’s tactic would work and take out most of the army in the plains without casualties to our side.”

“We can do one better. While we distract the army, and lure them closer to Mount Storia, we could take out those cannons.” Added Wolfgang.

“Probably should take care of their catapults too.” Said Xerxes.

“What catapults?” Asked the werewolf. The Omni simply pointed to the sky to see rocks being hurled on to the mountain. The boulders flying at the mountain caused parts of the Raccontos’ homes to collapse and wreckage to layer the street. Dante looked alarmed and immediately leapt up onto one of the boulders that was lying in the side of the mountain. It sprang to life revealing one of Stonewall’s men. Dante pounced on top of the soldier and growled at the foe. The soldier attempted to punch the dragon in the face. To his surprise, the dean did not flinch from the attack, and the stone warrior’s hand crumbled to pebbles. The man was wide eyed before the reptile slammed his body into him, crushing the golem underfoot.

Dante shouted boldly to his men. “We must defend our homes great scholars. Inspect every boulder that lands on this mountain and shoot any that you can out of the sky.” A group of Raccontos lined up into ranks and shot stones from their mouths that decimated the projectiles coming towards their homes.

Xerxes turned to Sindri and asked, “What’s the plan then short stack?”

The dwarf scowled at him before answering. “Follow me.” With that, he turned his hammer around and began to dig into the ground. The dwarf seemed to have super speed as he made a tunnel that seemed to go on and on. Wolfgang and Xerxes followed him as the short man burrowed through the earth.

Suddenly their digger stopped beneath what looked like hooks. “I would guess that this is what the cannons used to stay put while firing. The enemy is right above us. Are you ready?” Without a word, the Omni broke out from the ground underneath the cannon, smashing it to bits. The stone soldiers were shocked as Xerxes in his Racconto form blasted rocks in every direction, annihilating the troops. Sindri headed towards the other cannons, crushing them with his hammer. Meanwhile, Wolfgang charged forward to the catapults. He was inches away from the first one until he was stopped by a stone shot from a familiar figure. Stonewall looked down on the werewolf who was still in his human form.

The general spoke in a mocking tone, “You are dang insulting me. I admire opponents who show me their best, not give up so easily like you done.”

“I am not giving up, you are just not worth my best.” Retorted Wolfgang. This angered the stone general who punched down onto the ground with his cast iron arm. This sent a shock wave through the ground that made it crumble and shake. Wolfgang jumped into the air onto a nearby soldier’s head. He began to jump head to head before side kicking toward the general. The older creature blocked with his iron arm, and knocked the young one away. With confidence, the boulder man charged forward with his shoulder. Wolfgang dove underneath hitting his legs, causing the old general to fall face first into the ground. Smirking, the werewolf headed back to the catapults. Reaching them, he knocked each over which caused some of the soldiers to be taken out as well. As he went for the last one, he heard a familiar sound. He quickly dodged to his right and saw as a pebble shot destroyed the last catapult.

“That takes care of that. Thanks, Stonewall, you really are one competent general.” The young werewolf said sarcastically as he ran towards Mount Storia.

Enraged the general ordered his armies to, “Pursue that mutt!” They charged across the plain inching closer to the Raccontos’ homeland. Xerxes was pleased to see this, but something seemed off. He looked towards the hole they had entered and noticed that some of the soldiers had started to jump down it.

“Good move general good move.” Thought Xerxes to himself. He dove headfirst into the hole turning into his watery Kikorangi form. Flooding the tunnel, he drove the soldiers out like a geyser through both openings. The Omni emerged from the entrance of the tunnel on Mount Storia. He looked around and saw that the Raccontos have routed the enemy to the foot of the mountain. Looking across the plains, he could also see that Sindri and Wolfgang were leading the army to the same place. The stone dragons began to gather at the top of their home, ready to roll down and flatten the army approaching.

“Nephew come join us. It will be an honor to fight beside with family once again.” Dante smiled at Xerxes. The young dragon returned the gesture and stood beside his uncle.

Stonewall could feel the ground shake below him and looked towards the mountain. Wolfgang and Sindri climbed onto two boulders at the entrance and smirked at the stone general. The old man squinted and saw to his horror rocks sliding at them at high speed. He ordered his men to shoot at the incoming enemies, but their shots bounced off the bodies of the Raccontos. They tore through ranks upon ranks of the golem army. Dante headed straight for Stonewall who dropped his gun and was ready to punch with his iron arm. The older Racconto unrolled and charged forward ready to match fist for fist. Two fists collided and surprising to both, neither seemed to be damaged from the others attack.

“Interesting ain’t it? Reckon it was lucky that I lost my arm fighting you Union dogs. That doctor is a wonder giving me this thing.” He held up the cast iron arm, astonished at the strength.

Dante questioned him, “Union? What are you talking about?”

Stonewall responded, “They said y’all would say that. I may have been unconscious for a little over one hundred years but I ain’t stupid.”

Xerxes interjected, “That is a matter of debate. You just lost about half of your army, yet you have not ordered a retreat. Sounds more like a foolish move to me.”

The general thought on this stroking his beard then responded, “You may be right. Thanks kid, I was letting my pride cloud my judgement. Troops it is time to retreat! Cavalry charge forward to cover the escape then follow!” Stonewall climbed onto a nearby horse and galloped off to the mountain range to the east.

Four stone horses, with their horns pointed forward, stampeded straight for Dante. Xerxes leapt into action in Racconto form and shot rocks from his mouth that were aimed at the feet of the incoming enemy. He managed to shoot two down, but the others were coming in fast. Spewing lava from his back, the young dragon was able to melt one of two who made it through the blasts. The last of the four however was able to pierce into Dante’s chest. In rage, the young dragon pulverized the beast. Once he was through, only the horn wedged in his uncle’s chest. The old dragon began to fall back, but was caught by his nephew. Xerxes cried out to Wolfgang who heard his pleas from across the plain. Quickly, he ran across the battlefield seeing the upsetting development. With haste, he pulled out a bottle of paste-like substance. He removed the horn slowly before filling the wound with the contents of the bottle. It glowed faintly but not enough to take full effect. Wolfgang sighed before turning into his werewolf form, then unleashed a beam of moon energy directly to the wound. Instantly, the paste became solid, Dante breathed in loudly, and smiled at Xerxes with a thumb up. The young dragon hugged his uncle before thanking Wolfgang who had powered down to his human form. They escorted the older dragon up the mountain while Stonewall watched from afar, smiling at his success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 6

A Moon Light Walk

The Raccontos began rebuilding after the Battle of Nocciolo. In the Pietrateca where they first met; Dante, Wolfgang and Xerxes sat down with the old dragon as he recovered in the rubbles of the once great building. The Racconto was telling them tales of the old days, including a few embarrassing stories about the Omni as a kid.

“I remember when he was just learning how to fly. He was so anxious to do so that he ignored almost everything we ever told him. At first, he could take-off quite easy but staying in the air and landing were different. There were many times when we found his head stuck in the ground with his legs flailing about.” The werewolf laughed at the story while Xerxes just glared at him. Dante began another story, “Then there was potty training- “

“Ok how about no more stories. Rather not give Wolfgang anymore ammunition for him to make fun of me later.” Interjected Xerxes. The werewolf shrugged while the older dragon chuckled. Sindri ran into the room, breathing heavily.

“What’s wrong Sindri?” Xerxes asked. The dwarf put up his pointer finger, telling them to wait a moment while catching his breath.

After breathing in and out several times, he composed himself and said, “Oh nothing, I just had to go retrieve someone that might be able to reinforce this place and help with repairs.” Before anyone could ask who, King Alfrigg strode in with his hands behind his back.

Dante smiled and spoke with glee in his voice, “My old friend so good to see you again. It has been far too long.”

Alfrigg smiled back and responded, “Yes it has my friend. I was kind of held up so to say, but now I am able to visit far more often thanks to Wolfgang.” The werewolf looked to the side with his hands in his pockets.

Dante chimed in, “This is ironic Alfrigg. The only reason I am living and breathing right now is thanks to Wolfgang’s healing as well.” They both looked at the werewolf who glanced back at them.

He responded, “It is the work of any son of the Moonclaw tribe to help those in need.”

As Dante and Alfrigg reminisced with stories to one another, Xerxes and company huddled together talking on what to do next. “We should rest and stay here for the night. The battle was intense for all of us and we need to recover to continue on our journey.” Spoke the dwarf first.

“No, we travel to Staude tonight.” Coldly replied the werewolf.

Sindri commented, “Are you nuts? We just exhausted ourselves fighting that last battle, and you want to go through the mountain ranges that Stonewall occupies?”

“Speak for yourself dwarf. I did not even break a sweat last battle, plus my power doubles at night.” Shot back Wolfgang.

Xerxes spoke up, “Wolfgang if we go over the mountains, not only do we have to climb over them; we would have to be on guard for Stonewall’s men. Right now, we do not have the capacity to take on that whole army by ourselves.”

Wolfgang shook his head and responded, “We do not have to climb over the mountains. Remember when we first landed here Xerxes?” The Omni nodded. “Well while you were unconscious I looked around and found a pass that led straight to Staude. If we use that path, we could avoid climbing through the mountain range. As for Stonewall, his army is too busy recovering from the battle to cover that route. Plus, we already proved that we are faster than his army.” Sindri and Xerxes analyzed the idea. The Omni thought to himself that it was a good plan, but what if Stonewall had a battalion there guarding it at all times. After debating back and forth with the idea in his head, the young dragon agreed. Sindri still was skeptical but agreed that the plan made sense.

Xerxes walked up to his uncle who was chatting happily with the dwarf king. Clearing his throat, the young dragon grabbed the attention of both elderly creatures.

His uncle smiled sadly and said, “Time to head off already?” The Omni nodded looking down at his feet. Dante walked up to him and put his hand upon the young dragon’s shoulder. “Do not worry my nephew, we will see each other again; I am sure of that.” Xerxes hugged the older Racconto once more then headed off with his company down Mount Storia.

Alfrigg spoke aloud to Dante, “You know that you cannot guarantee that my friend? With Stonewall irritated, he is likely to reroute his forces to more heavily attack our home now.”

“Well then my friend isn’t it good that I have you then?” Responded the Racconto. Alfrigg nodded with a smile. “Besides you met those three, I have faith that they will be able to restore all our lands to their former glory and give us the peace we all have been fighting for.” The dwarf king nodded and began to stroke his beard thinking of the task that lay ahead of them.

“You know Wolfgang when I agreed to your plan I did not realize I would be flying the both of you on my back all the way across Petram.” Growled Xerxes as they flew over the stone covered land. Sindri looked toward Wolfgang and noticed a considerable change from his previous behavior. The werewolf had his arms spread; breathing in the flowing wind with a smile spread wide across his face as the moon shined down on them. Wolfgang could feel eyes on him and looked back at the dwarf. The two locked eyes staring at each other.

Suddenly the werewolf spoke out, “What? Do I have something in my hair?” Wolfgang shook his hair around as he stared back at the short creature.

Sindri finally responded, “You seem different than how you were earlier.” The son of Moonclaw tilted his head to the side in confusion. “What I mean is that earlier you seemed agitated.” Xerxes snorted hearing the statement. “I meant MORE agitated than usual. Instead of treating us as equals, as per how you usually act; you treated us like pups while you played alpha wolf. My apologies for the analogy but it is the best way to describe your behavior.”

The werewolf sighed before answering, “Being a werewolf, there is the constant battle of allowing the beast within to roam free. The more I use the wolf form, the more aggression and sense of chaos I feel. It will boil over to when I am in my human form and cause me to lose a sense of who I am. Therefore, I only rely on it in dire circumstances.” The dwarf nodded and kept quiet as they approached the shore line.

The three looked toward the shore seeing the shining island of Kebakaran still burning bright. Wolfgang led them towards the pass he had seen in the mountains along the shore line. Nearing the place, Sindri noticed that the cliffs on the left were high and were perfect for anyone to jump them. He held onto his hammer firmly as they went through the pass. The three stayed silent as they marched through the path. Suddenly, Wolfgang stopped them in their tracks. He turned around and asked Sindri for his hammer. The dwarf shrugged and tentatively gave the wolf the weapon. In a flash, the son of Moonclaw leapt upward to the ledge and smashed what seemed to be a stone soldier.

The werewolf returned to the other two and said, “We got company.” Xerxes immediately turned into his Matahari form and burned a fire into the air. Over the cliffs came a battalion of twenty soldiers and the familiar cast iron armed general, Stonewall.

The commander laughed while saying, “Foolish varmints. I knew you would travel this way. I saw y’all go into Skapejuvel then go to Mount Storia. It seems to me that y’all are trying to form an army, probably to combat Delsey. That means you are going to need a grand armies’ worth of troops to combat her. Which you would need to go from land to land to accomplish this. You would not dare go through the mountains because I would reckon it would take time away from you, which it seems you do not have a lot of. This pass is the quickest way, and after I observed from you werewolf, you are a bit tentative to use your werewolf form huh? What’s the matter? Not able to control the beast? Reckon if I agitated you enough, you might even go off on your friends. Only the smart win wars folks. A lesson you are going to learn now.” With that statement, Stonewall’s men began firing at the three. Quickly, Xerxes changed forms to Racconto as he plunged his claw into the ground, summoning forth a wall of rock to protect them. Sindri jumped over the protection and began batting back the rock bullets toward the enemies; taking down each one by one with ease. The agitated general ready his gun and aimed it at the dwarf. He fired and landed his mark on the dwarf’s left shoulder. Sindri dropped his guard, as his left arm was broken, and shots clanged against his armor.

With a growl, Wolfgang transformed and leapt over the barrier. His fur was a blur, as he cut down soldiers left and right with incredible speed. All whom was left was the general. With his mouth drooling, Wolfgang rampaged toward the general who began to panic. Swinging his fist, he landed a punch on the savage beast. The wolf simple chuckled as he sliced the rock arm and two legs of the general off. With one bit of strength the general launched himself with his iron arm toward the cliffs frantically pulling himself away.

The werewolf was about to pounce after him until he was stopped with Xerxes voice. “Stop Wolfgang! I think some of the bullets pierced his armor. Sindri needs medical attention.”

“But I could end that know it all general right here and now.” Barked back Wolfgang.

“At the cost of a friend? Come on fur ball I know that is not what you want.” Responded Xerxes with a glare. The beast glared back in silence for what seemed like an eternity with no response.

Finally, the wolf shook his head and said, “You are right.” Powering down he continued to say, “Get him within the light of the moon. I still have some Silbermond I can use on him.” The Omni carried his friend to a stone slab that was bathed in moonlight. They removed his armor and found that he had indeed been pierced by several bullets. The son of Moonclaw poured the potion over the wounds and watched as the liquid began to glow with the pale light of the moon.

Sindri gasped and began to speak, “Remind me never to do that again.” The other two chuckled as they helped him sit up.

Wolfgang wrapped the broken arm in several large, purple, oval shaped rainforest leaves that had white veins running through them. With a grey piece of linen, he made a sling for the arm to rest on.

The werewolf diagnosed his patient, “The leaf is called Hinblatt. It helps strengthen broken bones. I give it a week of full exposure to the moon and it should be healed by then. In the mean time we must make sure that you do not get too injured again. By the way, how come your armor did not protect you from the blast?”

“The old man got a lucky shot in, a gap in one part of my armor. I have not found a suitable under shirt to provide basic protection for incoming fire like that. He somehow had found that out and made the shots.” Responded Sindri.

Xerxes spoke up, “He was analyzing us on the battlefield. The whole assault on Mount Storia was just a way for him to know how we fight and where we leave openings. He is trying to get into our heads and figure out how we think. We might have underestimated the old man. For now, we need to keep moving.” The other two agreed and treaded down the path.

Finally, out of the passage, they saw in front of them a dense forest. The trees were mixed of two different types. The first were glowing black bark Weeping Willows with purple shining leaves and vines that showered down to the ground. The others were radiant white barked ash trees whose leaves outshined their counterparts. Xerxes looked around confused at the development of the forest. He had been here before, but these trees did not coexist together before. They had always separated the forest in the middle, one being of the light trees and the other the dark. “What has changed?” He pondered in his head. As they gazed upon the forest they noticed a figure headed towards the edge of the coast cliff. They could tell that it was a female elf by the dress that outlined her figure and draped down, reflecting the pale light of the moon. Her white hair hung down to halfway down her back. Wolfgang looked closer and noticed that the cloth seemed baggier and not comfortable. The elf seemed to clutch onto her chest as she looked towards the sea and then spread her arms. Without even a thought, Wolfgang launched forward in werewolf form. The elf was going to jump and judging by the clothes she was wearing, drown. She had already begun to the jump by the time the werewolf got halfway to her. Increasing his speed, he finally caught her within inches of the water below. She seemed heavier than she looked, and he could feel why. The elf had tied iron weights to her hips to ensure she would drown. Looking at her face, he saw that her ears that pointed up were black in color as were her lips up to her nose. The rest of her face was a glowing white with her eyes having a green hint to them. He felt a twinge hit his heart, it could have been that or the fact that the elf was punching him repeatedly in the chest.

She kept screaming, “Let me die! Let me die! Let me die!” Wolfgang climbed with her in his arms up the cliff getting to the top. Sindri and Xerxes looked at the wolf shocked and were about to speak before the werewolf stopped them.

“I have to calm her down. Go on ahead and find the rulers of this land. They are going to want their princess back.” The son of Moonclaw said calmly.

“How do you know she is royalty?” Questioned Xerxes.

“Look at her necklace.” They looked and saw that a jewel glowed bright around her neck. It was a moonstone shaped as a tree; the sign of the royal family. Xerxes and Sindri set off immediately into the forest to find the family while Wolfgang stayed to talk to the elf.

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.