It was a heart-stopping five minutes before the creature moved on, and they could breathe again. They climbed up the treacherously rocky slope, ever upward; only stopping to rest a few times.
“Where are we going?”
“We need to find a doorway off this world.”
“Back to earth… or to another world?”
“Well, If I’m right, the doorway further up should take us to another world or realm in which we can find another portal that will take us back to earth and somewhere along the way, find an Egyptian vase that was stolen nearly 3 centuries ago.”
“You’re oddly forthright.”
“No point in lying. How much do you know about me?”
“Clearly not enough.”
“Well that’s obvious because you took the gig in the first place.”
He laughed, and jerked on the ropes again, they were beginning to chaff his wrists and he feared they would begin bleeding.
“What do you plan on doing with me?”
“I’m going to take you back to Earth and let my associates deal with you. They can be a tad… protective of me.”
“I see… Do you want to know what I’ve learned about you?”
He sounded smug, like he knew something she didn’t or he thought he did. She turned and smacked him in the chest, causing him to stumble back into the cliff.
The wind whipped around them and he gasped at the pain in his wrists as the rope finally broke through skin.
“First thing you should know about me, is that I don’t play nice. I’m trained in several different fighting techniques from Canadian military to various forms of martial arts. You’re merely an annoyance to me that I’m going to get rid of as soon as we get back to Earth.
“So, in reality what you think you know about me isn’t important.”
“Thanks doll, that makes me feel so much better. But I did my research on you; there are some very interesting people interested in you. Also, why am I still tied up?”
“Easy; because I don’t trust you and until I can get back to Earth, I feel slightly safer knowing you’re tied like an animal I can lead around.”
She grinned a feral sort of grin that caused him to step back into the rock wall. Without looking back, she picked up the rope and began walking forward again. Jules fell into step right behind her.
“Your name is Eryn Lillian Jessica-Williams. You had a daughter with your late husband and partner James Braden Williams who died a year after your daughter was murdered from an overdose of poison. You claim it was an accident because it happened on a mission off world; but there are sources that think otherwise. Since then nearly every partner you’ve had has either disappeared without a trace or ended up dead on an off-world planet. You’ve been a teacher at the University of Ontario for 17 years, making you to be in your early forties and yet due to an anomaly in your DNA, you haven’t aged past 25. Recently, you’ve hooked up with a man named Jayson Storm; a very wealthy industrialist and business man.”
She stopped and swung back to face him, her hand going to his throat as she pinned him against the cliff wall.
“When we get back to Earth; I’m going to rip your intestines out through your nose, wrap them around your neck and hang you from your master’s balcony after I flay you from asshole to appetite and leave you for the buzzards to pick apart. Do you understand you, pathetic waste of human flesh?”
Her eyes glowed a feral greenish yellow and her fangs extended the tiniest fraction as she saw his eyes widen in fear.
The man reeked of fear and the predator in her begged her to set him loose so she could hunt him down and bathe in his blood. Jules began choking as she dug her fingers into the soft flesh at the base of his throat.
He gasped, nodding weakly against her grip. She jerked him forward again and continued moving uphill. The ground beneath them had become hard packed but treacherous with loose rocks and Earth debris. That night was cold but in the morning, they would make it to the portal and go home. Jules was sleeping awkwardly on his arms and stomach and once she sure he was sleeping soundly; she dressed his wounds and retied his wrists.
Then she sent a quick message to Jayson asking him if he could research the bounty on her head. He replied a few minutes later saying he would.
She slept lightly, always keeping one ear open and part of her brain alert.
“Why do you help me, why keep me alive?”
“Because I have an ex-partner who doesn’t like it when I kill indiscriminately; don’t get me wrong, I don’t like you and your life isn’t worth shit to me. But if it weren’t for a deal my partner made, I would have tied you to a tree and let whatever lifeform is on this forgotten world tear you apart and suck your eyeballs out.”
“You can be quite descriptive; if unnerving.”
“Thank you, we’re at the next doorway now so please don’t try anything stupid, these things can be very tricky and will rip apart your molecules and rearrange them in less than a second so keep still when you pass through them.”
She pointed to a grey rock surface that had the distinct impression of water flowing over it. Jules looked at her skeptically and she gestured to the rock surface again.
“I’m so going to regret this….”
The last thing he heard before disappearing into the rock was the sound of Eryn’s amusing laugh. There was an odd feeling of weightless disconnection from his body before he was thrown out of the portal onto the other side. Eryn exited the portal a few seconds after Jules and all she could hear was sound of his screaming.
“Jules! Where are you?”
“Over the edge, I can’t hang on much longer.”
She crept to the ledge of rock they were on, and peaked over the side. Jules was hanging onto a branch that was embedded in the cliff side. She secured a belay line and stepped over the ledge, lowering herself until she was just under Jules.
Securing the rope around his midsection and upper thighs, she cinched the rope giving a reassuring tug to make sure it would hold before explaining to him that he would need to let go if he wanted to survive. He gave her the most panicked look, shaking his head. She gripped his hands and pushed him back off the branch.
For a terrifying moment, they hung suspended like that until the metal triangle supporting them broke free of the rock face and sent them plummeting to the ground. Her suit activated and the canvas wingspan folded out, jerking her up in the air.
Much like a parachute in deployment, the only difference being it spread out like wings instead of just a domed cover. It was a design and gift from her friend Timothy Rogers; who had it especially made by his tech crew.
“I’d hang on tight if I were you.”
Her voice was lost in the wind rushing around her. She didn’t even catch what Jules said in response, she was more focused on the adrenaline coursing through her body, the rush of pleasure as she sailed through the sky. She was looking for a place to land when she felt a tugging on the rope holding Jules, looking down she gasped.
The ground was a burnt macabre scar. It was like looking at a volcano and the aftermath of the explosion. The wind that blew around her was scorched and burning.
Finally, she directed the sails to a black crevice she was hoping was a cave of some sort. They dropped into the black abyss of shadow and cold, away from the burning topside.
She untied Jules, repacked the wing suit and took out a flashlight instead. This was turning out to be one hell of an adventure. Oddly enough she missed having JB as her partner…
But he was a Reaper now and couldn’t be her partner. Her thoughts trailed to Jayson and she wondered what had happened to him after the warehouse incident. They hadn’t talked or seen each other since.
“Tell me again why you were after her or I’m gonna start pulling your fingernails off one by one, the first five minutes have been a breeze but I am quickly losing my patience.”
“She was the best bargaining chip.” He hissed as Jayson cut off the first knuckle joint on his index finger.
“Best bargaining chip for what?”
“To get you to reveal yourself.”
Jayson snarled bringing his face close to the admiral, his face demonic and his fangs extended to their full length. “Revealing enough for yah?”
The Admiral didn’t flinch; instead he bashed his forehead into the other vampire’s nose. It sounded like rocks being smashed apart.
“Your reputation deceives you General; the stories of your torture methods are gruesome. Gone soft hanging out with your human slut?”
Jayson stumbled back slightly, cracked his nose back into place, and hocked the blood loogie that was clogging his throat. He clenched his fist so hard his knuckles cracked, the resounding crack of the admiral’s nose echoed across the room causing his lieutenants to look up briefly in time to see the admiral fly across the room.
Jayson’s eyes flared with anger as Scotty walked into the room and burst out laughing. “Still got it eh General?”
“And you thought I was getting old.”
“I merely implied it; age can get to you even as a vampire.”
“Boy, don’t make me give you a whoopin next, besides, you ain’t much younger than me.”
Scotty just laughed and walked over to the table where the rest of the lieutenants were sitting.
Jayson walked over to the Admiral, grabbed him by the hair and dragged him back to the centre of the room.
“What could you possibly gain with Eryn?” Every word was punctuated with a blow to the face.
“She belongs to you; the best way to hurt you is to hurt her.” Keene gasped through bloody teeth and a broken nose.
“That’s a bad idea son.” Jayson picked up a scalpel and cut into the veins on the admiral’s arm. He screamed in pain as Jayson cut deep.
He had to give Keene credit; vampire or not, not many creatures were able to withstand a nearly continuous beating like that. But he wasn’t finished… far from it. The night was still young and he was just getting started. The man while still tied to the chair was just as cocky as when he had first started.
“What are you even doing with a human harlot? I thought you were true to your race.”
Jayson ignored this and jammed the scalpel right above his kneecap. “Now tell me for real why they are coming after her or I’ll pop your god damn kneecap off.”
“Ahhhh ok, ok, we want her for leverage to trade you for the ancient vampire weapons.”
“Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?” Jayson turned the scalpel and popped his knee out. The vampire screamed an eerie inhuman sound of gut wrenching pain.
“Why do the Blades want the ancient vampire weapons? Their jewelry.”
Keene panted heavily and his arm and leg were bleeding freely. He was on the verge of passing out, but he couldn’t pass out… not yet. Gritting his teeth, he raised his head; glaring fiercely at the General.
“Alone, yes their nothing but enchanted weaponized jewelry…. But all seven pieces combined create a weapon that completely obliterates vampires. It’ll wipe out you and your entire army of miscreant mongrels. The Blades will rule this world once more and humans will be nothing more than cattle like they once were.”
With an enraged roar, Jayson blasted the vampire into the wall; shattering the chair he was tied to and most of the cement wall.
Snarling, he stalked toward Keene, his eyes glowing a demonic red as the anger swirled through him; his magic powers coming to the forefront.
Jayson slugged Keene again and again, until the anger began to ebb and he remembered where he was and who was watching. The Admiral slumped to the ground unconscious now from the brutal beating he had just taken.
Standing in the center of the room; he fought to get his emotions under control. Keene’s body was still crumbled at his feet.
For a few minutes, nothing happened and it felt like time had stopped momentarily. Then the Admiral began to rouse, he crawled to the wall and leaned heavily against it.
“I told you everything you needed to know.”
“I’m aware of that, but you know I can’t let you leave here alive...”
“Well then, get on with it.”
“Oh, I will; except for now we’re just going to keep you here. Let you heal and then in three days’ time… you will fight my lieutenant Scotty. I like to think that I’m a fair man Admiral, so I’m gonna give you a chance. See the big guy sitting over there?”
Keene’s eyes blurred in and out focus. His body was healing; slowly and he could barely keep his head upright, let alone his eyes open.
“You get to fight that big man, if you win you can go free, if you lose, you die. The only catch is this; the fight is to the death.”
“Alright I’ll fight the big guy… in three days’, right?”
“Yes. In three days.”
The General turned his back on the sorry excuse for a vampire and began walking back towards his lieutenants; a hint of fear underlying the respect they had for him.
“Oh, by the way; your father sends his regards.”
Jayson stiffened a moment before walking to the door at the far end of the room, wiping his hands on a cloth while his lieutenants stalked toward the injured and bleeding vampire with gleaming feral looks.
Three days later the Admiral was released from his room and brought back into the room where they had tortured him for information. He stood proud with his shoulders square and jaw clenched.
His hands had been bound since the morning; but there was a fierce battle-readiness to him that said he was unafraid to fight to his death. After all; it was an honorable custom among the ancient vampire kind.
Jayson untied Keene and walked over to Scotty who was taking his jacket off.
“Put on a good show big man.”
“Oh, I will.” Scotty smiled and cracked his knuckles.
“You’re the guest in this house; I’ll give you the first shot Admiral.”
Keene swung his fist at Scotty, striking him across the jaw, his knuckles stinging from the contact. He swung again, Scotty swatted his hand away. He lashed out with a kick; Scotty blocked it and backhanded him, knocking him to the ground.
“How did you get the rank of admiral if you can’t even land a hit son?”
Scotty was goading Keene and though he knew it, the insult got under his skin. The Admiral snarled and struck like snake with a swift kick to the other vampire catching him between the jewels. Scotty gasped in surprise and fell to one knee, feigning the pain; and with a powerful growl he swung back up with an uppercut sending Keene flying into the air.
The Admiral hit the ceiling, shattering cement and the light fixture. As he started to fall back down Scotty landed a brutal side kick in mid-air sending him straight into the wall.
The cement cracked deeply under the impact of a vampire body hitting it and Keene slid to the ground in a daze. Scotty walked over to him, the predator in full force as he cornered the other vampire. Keene waited until Scotty stood directly in front of him before rising and slamming punches into Scotty’s abdomen before lashing out with a roundhouse kick to the leg and throwing a left hook.
Scotty grabbed his fist and started crushing his hand. The room was filled with the sounds of the two vampires going at each other. Terrifying and glorious; Jayson and the rest of his lieutenants looked on in bored amusement.
Keene went for another kick to Scotty’s groin to which he blocked with his foot, grabbed the admiral by his throat and lifted him straight off the ground.
“I don’t like vampires who fight dirty. Who taught you to fight anyway; your grandmother?”
Keene snarled in defiance and threw a barrage of punches to Scotty’s face but was growing weaker with each punch as he began to lose consciousness. In a 180- degree motion Scotty threw the admiral across the room.
Taking a moment to regain air through his bruised esophagus, the admiral rose unsteadily to his feet. There was warm liquid running down his neck and when he took his hand from his neck it was covered in blood.
He chuckled a darkly amusing sound that would have sent chills up a human’s spine. Scotty beckoned the other vampire forward and with a cry of feral rage he launched himself at the massive vampire standing center of the room. Scotty charged headfirst at Keene and they collided with boom that shook the walls of the room.
Scotty wrapped his arm around the Admiral’s neck, lifted him off the ground choking the life out of him for a few brief seconds, before he jerked the Admiral’s body, breaking his neck.
“Well that’s that.” Jayson said exhaling the smoke from his cigarette. Scotty let go of the vampire’s lifeless body and stalked back to the other lieutenants.
“Apparently, he didn’t know I have a bionic arm.” Scotty chuckled lighting a cigarette.
“I’d better call Eryn and tell her what I found out.” Jayson said pulling out his phone.
“Something on your mind?”
Jules voice echoed weirdly in the crevice. She glanced over at him sitting crouched by the smouldering rock fire. Occasionally it would flare up and then go back to smouldering.
“Nothing worth sharing.”
“Is that because you don’t trust me and I’m a bounty hunter?”
She went back to ignoring him and watching the outside world smolder and burn. They were in a volcanic fire realm and only underground seemed safe for now; because the topside was burning rock and rivers of molten lava. She also vaguely wondered if she were back on Earth on a volcano. Of course, if she were on Earth, she would have had better cell reception.
That made two worlds which would need cell towers and receptors; her and JB had hired a crew of engineers to construct special cell towers that received and sent messages but also location, co-ordinates, star systems and lifeforms for that world. They continued their trek through the molten rock realm hoping to find another portal back to earth.
He watched them quietly from the shadows. It had been eons since he had been back to his home world. Shifting forms, he became human once again and followed his friend and her pet? He didn’t quite understand why the other human was bound by the wrists. He disappeared back into the shadows.
Something or someone was following them. They had found a small cavernous space to rest in and while Jules found a comfortable way to keep his bound wrists, Eryn was on high alert.
“You know, if you stand in one place in this realm for too long; you’ll either freeze in place or get burned up by the molten rock on the surface.”
She grinned as Tyver stepped out of the shadows and embraced her.
“I didn’t know you could get out.”
“Well… This is my home world after all.”
“Seriously? Cool. Tyver this is Jules, he’s a bounty hunter who’s after me.”
“Is he now?”
Tyver immediately went over and glared at Jules assessing him.
“He’s only human… purely human.”
“I know, but he’s been quite a pain in my butt.”
“Would you like me to get rid of him?”
“Maybe… it depends is his life of value?”
“Not really; humans are always disappearing in time.”
“Excuse me; but what are you talking about deciding my fate? Who the hell are you? Another bounty hunter? Well back off bud, she’s mine; I found her first.”
Jules looked rather upset and was glaring between the two of them. It looked quite comical because his hands were tied and he looked like a petulant 12-year-old who needed to use the bathroom. Tyver burst out laughing and Eryn grinned, the tips of her canines peeking through her lip.
“Oh child, you have no idea who or what I am. I am Tyver Timeous lorduns the fifth; I am a Dragon Time lord. If I so choose to, I could wipe you out of time without blinking; so, I suggest puny human that you show some respect.”
Tyver had an intimidating presence to begin with and when he was pissed off it became much, much more terrifying; the cavern filled with a red electrical energy that danced and sparked.
Jules cowered away from the angry dragon whose form was beginning to shift. Suddenly Jules began screaming incoherently, his eyes bulging and white with terror.
“Tyver, stop. He’s only one human. Erase him from time or send him back without memory but please make him stop screaming.”
She held her hands over her ears and was cringing against the sound of Jules screaming in pain and terror.
It echoed around bouncing off the walls and reverberating through the cavern. Tyver shrugged and backhanded Jules so hard he went flying into the wall of icy rock behind them, his head making a sickening snapping crunch sound as it contacted with the rock.
His body slid down the wall leaving behind a rather large red smear down the ice. It then dissolved into the shadows. Tyver turned and looked at Eryn who looked slightly ashen.
“You didn’t have to go overboard.”
“I’m sorry; humans upset me when they hunt people I care about.”
She smiled and shook her head. He was after all, just one human erased from time.
“Oh, I have something for you by the way.”
She dug through her backpack until she had found a small USB chip no bigger than Tyver’s pinky.
“What’s this for?”
“Last time we spoke, you said you missed the classical era of music, so I brought all the classical music I could find. There are dozens of songs and artists; Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, Brahms, and Handel to name a few.”
She was beaming from ear to ear in her excitement. He laughed and embraced her again, his lips connecting with hers in a passionate kiss. Even in his home world he could see the other part her, and it was just as beautiful to him as her human face.
“Come, I will take you to my home and you can meet my family. Or at least what’s left of it.”
She could see the sadness in his eyes and yearned to comfort him somehow. As it was, she laid her hand against his cheek and he turned his head toward it cupping her hand with his cheek. Then he reached up and took her hand. She followed him through the twisting tunnels of ice and glittering frozen caverns until he brought her up to the surface again.
“It’ll be much faster and safer if we fly. I promise you it won’t be nearly as sickening as last time, though I do ask you to hang on tightly; the fall would be rather fatal.”
She started at what he was asking, but before she had time to react, he stepped out into the burning scorching land and transformed into a massive 80-foot red dragon with black diamond shaped scales. His eyes became huge amber flame ovals and scaled spikes rose over his back.
She gasped in awe as she took in his true form. It was magnificent to behold as his nearly 150-foot wingspan stretched out. Scaly red leather –with a black symbol for time burned into each wing. He breathed smoke and flames and she marveled at the entire sight of him as his form solidified.
“Wow… You’re a lot to take in.”
His laugh rumbled through the ground and reverberated through her body, it shook everything around it, and the massive dragon inclined his head to her and knelt close to the ground. She laughed and climbed onto his scaly back, his skin though rough was soft much like lizard hide. She settled herself between his head and the first of the spikes on his back.
“Just please don’t drop me.”
“Don’t worry my little panther, I’m a smooth flyer.”
His deep baroque echoed in her head. A moment later she was clinging tightly to his neck as he lifted from the ground and flew off over the landscape of fire and brimstone burning continuously. A dragon’s paradise; scarred by the Time Lords battle as it had raged through time and space. 500 years that battle had gone on, the dragons versus the time lords until both species had nearly obliterated the other.
One could not survive without the other, though the Dragons were proud and would not be controlled by the Time Lords because they existed outside the normal time realms.
At one point in time this realm had been beautiful; a thriving, living paradise where Dragons of every kind; element, hybrid, and rare dragons co-existed peacefully.
When the Time Lords had come, they turned the dragons against each other and waged battle with other Time Lords and Dragons. It was chaos and destruction for millennia. She could feel his pain as he retold the history of his home world.
Some things could not be erased from history. The impact of his landing jarred her from her reverie as they had now reached his home. She felt much better now that she was on solid ground that wasn’t burning or freezing her feet.
Beside her Tyver shrunk to human form; though his human form was still much taller and broader than she was.
“Welcome to the Dragon’s paradise. Welcome to my home, my little panther.”
He smiled down at her and gestured her forward. Cautiously making her way, she entered the world of the Dragon’s nest.
It was beautiful with a crystalline waterfall at one end and molten lava waterfall at the other end with lush green plants.
“You’re the first the human that’s been here since the time wars. At one-point humans and Dragons co-existed for hundreds of years. We taught them everything; looked after them, educated them and adored them. But then the Time Lords came, and started the wars. So, we brought the humans to Earth, to keep them safe and hidden. Now; Dragons are nothing more than myth and legend.”
There was anger and sadness in his voice and she could feel the betrayal he felt. For some reason, she got the impression that the Time Lords were more a product or by – product of the dragons and humans.
“Were the Time Lords a product of human and Dragon?”
He clamped a hand around her mouth and pulled her into a covered niche behind a large boulder.
“What makes you say that?”
“Your voice echoes your betrayal; you’ve taken great care to not be seen, and though we’ve seen other dragons, we haven’t actually met them. You’ve been edgy and on point ever since we got here. So, I’m guessing something happened where you were shamed or you did something terribly wrong.”
He turned his head away, but not before she caught the naked, unguarded shame in his eyes. Taking his arms, she turned him until he was facing her again.
“What happened that’s causing you so much pain?”
“Not, here. Come.”
She followed him to a stone cavern that depicted the dragon’s history. Much like human cave paintings except these were much more detailed. He pointed out one story and let her wander through the timeline. There was a time of peace and prosperity between dragons and humans.
Though not quite slaves but more like pets, the humans were a miniscule part of the dragon’s history until they weren’t there anymore.
One picture showed a red Dragon very much like Tyver with a human woman. She followed this timeline more closely.
The Dragon council found out about the child and banished both the Dragon and the woman. Then chaos began to ensue. Something happened that caused unrest among the dragons.
“Was this you?”
“No, not my mistake, the mistake of my great-great-great grandfather; the first Dragon Time Lord. Time exists continuously, but he was the first to harness the power of time, and use it like magic.”
She had gotten to the Time Wars; a brutal scar in the history of the Dragons. By the time, she had reached the end of the storyline, she had pretty much pieced everything together.
“Your great-great-great grandfather fell in love with a human woman… and had a baby with her … didn’t he?”
Tyver nodded; his eyes dark and hooded. “It was forbidden to mate with the humans. They were pets; more or less.”
She nodded, understanding piecing the last of the puzzle pieces together.
“He created an army of time soldiers who then became time lords, and they rebelled against the dragons.
“The dragons brought the humans to earth but the war continued to rage. After the war though… what happened? It’s just blank.”
“When the war was over, the Time Lords were nearly extinct. Father Time was the first born… was hidden with the humans. But since he couldn’t exist in that realm; he hid himself in an alternate realm.”
“I remember, I found his house when JB and I were on a mission. We quite literally dropped into his front yard. His wife and children are lovely. But what I don’t understand is the shame you feel?”
“My family was killed in the war, and I was exiled. So, I became the Time Keepers librarian. I am the sole remaining heir to the Time Lords…”
“You were exiled because you’re a hybrid? That’s why you can take human form… isn’t it?”
Tyver nodded; his eyes still sad and far away. She went over to where he was standing and put her arms around him; he stiffened a moment before accepting her embrace.
“How did you find this place anyway?”
“Oh, I was on another world looking for an Egyptian vase, and went through a portal which essentially brought me here.”
“Of course, I know the guy who keeps track of shiny objects that get lost in time. Though I should warn you; the guys a nutter.”
“Fantastic well, let’s go then.”
“It’s not where, it’s when. Here you’ll need to wear this.”
He materialized a dark red dress with puffy shoulders and a flouncy bell skirt. She took it and when she met him again he was dressed in a dark blue suit with a ruffled shirt. They looked like people did back in olden times from quaint little towns far from normal civilization.
“So why are we dressed like this?”
“Because we’re going to a party.”
He grinned, the tips of his fangs peeking from under his lip and his eyes sparkled with an amber light. Taking her hand, he flashed them through time and space to another world; this one perpetually stuck in the 1800’s. She dry-heaved into the bushes until everything settled out and she could stand up straight again.
“So where is this guy?”
He took her hand in his elbow and together they walked across a cobblestone bridge that overlooked a slowly moving stream. The moon shone coldly bathing the landscape in cold light. It was like a photo in negative with the way the silver light played with the shadows. They entered a hall where slow, classical music played and people in dresses and tuxes danced around the room to the waltz. They danced their way into the center until they had come across another couple. The woman wore a lovely powder blue sparkling dress that swirled and spun with her movements. The gentleman she was dancing with had grey hair and eyes the color of liquid silver, his suit was a dazzling black with what looked like sequins but upon closer inspection was inlaid with sliver tinsel in such a way that it looked like stars.
“Mind if we trade? The lady is looking for something.”
Tyver whispered to the gentleman who glanced between them, and finally agreed. With a swish of dresses and a smooth parting of one partner to another, she found herself looking not at Tyver, but at the gentleman with the oddly colored eyes.
“Good evening my lady; I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before.”
“Good evening, no, I’m not from around here.”
The music and dancers swirled around her in a bizarrely enchanting twinkle. Her head felt dizzy and light. The gentleman’s eyes moved oddly, almost as if they were spinning.
“The young man you came with, says your looking for something?”
“I’m looking for an Egyptian vase that went missing through time. I was told you would be able to help me find it.”
“Oh, I can help you find it… for a price.”
“And what would that be?
“Just a dance; my lady.”
“Isn’t that what we’re doing?”
“Be careful; how badly do you want that vase?”
His accent became hypnotic and still his eyes swirled. Something was wrong now; the music seemed different, haunting and ethereal. The swish and swirl of fabric and dancers sounded like a thunderous backdrop to the music and her head began to pound in time with her heartbeat with the music. She was falling, and yet she felt like a cloud. A swirling cloud of lead and death and pain; of melting colors and pounding noise.
Suddenly; a dark mass of swirling crackling shadow in the form of a panther roared at the gentleman, tackling him to the ground.
Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she slipped into unconsciousness. Tyver caught her just before she hit the ground hard. The gentleman hissed baring a mouth full of sharp pointed teeth. The shadow panther disappeared along with the rest of the dancers and the music and the town itself. They were in a cavern; pale moonlight bathing the landscape outside in pale silvery pink light.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“You should have known better than to bring a human here Dragon.”
“She wanted to find something, and I didn’t have it in the archives. I thought you would be the best person to help her find what she’s looking for.”
The gentleman grunted and pushed his sunglasses onto his nose. “What’s she looking for then?”
“An Egyptian vase that went missing through time; we had an agreement. I’m calling in my favor.”
The gentleman laughed a mirthless sound and glared mercilessly at the dragon before him. “Very well, but this now marks us as even. Wait here and I’ll go get it.”
He returned a few minutes later holding a golden intricately carved vase with Egyptian hieroglyphs decorating the sides. Eryn awoke screaming and snarling, the moonlight streaming into the cave sparkling off her metal claws and her eyes glowed a feral greenish yellow. Both men looked startled at her sudden change in appearance, though not entirely surprised. With a waving curl of his fingers, her eyes misted and drooped until she passed out again. Tyver curled his arm around her, making sure she didn’t fall on her face.
“What did you do to her?”
“Nothing, she’ll recover and be fine in a couple of days. Take her home now, and make sure she doesn’t remember seeing me… it’ll be better for her that way.”
Tyver scooped her up along with the vase and was just about to leave when he heard the gentleman’s voice; a threatening undercurrent to his tone.
“And Tyver, just remember I don’t exist anymore. We’re square got it.”
Tyver nodded and disappeared.