Chapter 28 - The Priestess Ziya
Draxus stood silently brooding after having just defeated the bounty hunter assassin Salid, with his chest heaving in and out slowly along with each of his breaths. With no intention of tending to the minor cut on his arm, the mighty Dragon King turned to face Queen Katherine who stood silently nearby with an expression of both fear and surprise painting her face as she stared back at her son-in-law.
Throughout her years as Queen she had heard many different tales about the infamous Dragon King’s unmatchable skills and strength and as she had just witnessed they seemed quite accurate. But it also appeared that the rumours of his lack of mercy reined true as well. She wasn’t sure if she should thank him or run from him.
Draxus’ deep and husky voice helped her to decide.
“You should probably make a run for it now, while you still can.” he calmly suggested.
“What about you?” she enquired.
Draxus turned to look around the remainder of the burned down structure as he replied, “I’ll continue the search for King Greggory.”
The Queen shook her head as she began to make her way over to stand beside him.
“Greggory is my husband, I’m coming with you.” she commanded firmly but Draxus held strong and lifted his hand up to stop her in her tracks.
“No, you need to find your way out and wait for me Queen Katherine... It isn’t safe in here.”
As Draxus turned his back to her a second time the Queen’s kind eyes suddenly turned pitch black as they narrowed. She pushed out her hand in his direction and caused him to suddenly freeze in place.
Caught entirely by surprise Draxus began to fight against this invisible grip which had somehow taken a hold of him, but to no avail. No matter how hard he struggled he was unable to move his arms and legs, rendering him completely helpless as he stood in the middle of the courtyard and at her mercy.
Held in place he continued to struggle and grunt while the impostor Queen began to walk around from behind him, her darkened eyes locked on her captive as she inspected him from head to toe.
“I have heard a lot about you, King of Dragons… And I have to say, I’m somewhat impressed upon having now met you in person. You took out Salid like he was nothing…”
Her voice had changed entirely; it now sounded far more chilling and demonic than it had before as she circled around to face him from the front. But the woman standing before him was not Queen Katherine anymore, her appearance had changed into that of an unfamiliarly short woman with an hourglass figure.
Her hair was messily styled in very long black and white dreadlocks and she wore long black and white tattered robes which hung loosely over her shoulders, and all the way down to the ground. They dragged along behind her as she walked. Finally, around each of her deep black demonic eyes there were black markings scratched into the surface of her skin to give the appearance of the flesh being worn away from the areas surrounding them.
He knew one thing for certain; she was not a friendly!
Even though his entire body was unable to move due to the effects of her incredible powers, he found that he could still speak.
“Queen Katherine, where is she?” he demanded sternly, choosing not to show his enemy any sign of fear in his vulnerable moment.
“She’s somewhere safely tucked away, along with her husband… for now anyway...”
“And who the hell are you?” he snapped. “Some other demonic hussy sent to kill me?”
Ziya smiled defiantly at the invisibly bound King standing before her. He was feisty and she enjoyed a challenge.
“I am Ziya, High Priestess of the Black Covenant and loyal follower to the future ruler of all, King Xytsis.”
“Your so-called ruler is nothing but a cowardly bast- Aargh!”
Before he could finish his sentence she immediately raised her hand and used her powers of the dark arts to intensify the pressure on him, crushing his muscles even tighter and causing him to let out a loud groan of pain.
“Uhh!” Draxus cried out, then proceeding to pant loudly as soon as the pressure had subsided once more.
“I would highly suggest that you consider your words before they fall from your lips, Dragon King.” she warned him sternly, “King Xytsis is destined to rule over all, there is no denying it.”
Draxus knew that he could continue to taunt her further about working for Xytsis, but that it would only cause himself more pain in the process. He decided to ask her more questions instead, to loosen her focus on him and lower her guard.
“Enough games, witch… What do you want?” Draxus’ voice was now harsh as he glared down at her with restricted rage, still partially out of breath.
She stepped forward meeting him face to face and looking him right in the eye as she lifted both of her hands up to rest against the smooth armour protecting his solid chest. Upon closer inspection Draxus noticed that her eyes appeared to give off a strange black smoke. She moved her outstretched palm to rest over the top of his chest, positioned right over his heart as she began to speak confidently.
“Do you know why I despise humans, King Draxus?” she hissed at him. “Because they’re weak… Their bodies are so fragile, so easy to break. All it would take is…”
Draxus watched as her hand began to clench and a sharp pain in his heart immediately followed, causing him to wince with incredible pain as it shot through his chest. She was using her powers to crush his heart!
“I wonder how long it will take to break the infamous Dragon King?” she added with a demonic grin.
Feeling the overwhelming and incredibly tight constriction on his chest and the ache in his now-struggling heart, Draxus knew he needed to do something and fast if he were to survive this deadly encounter. She was clearly extremely powerful in the dark arts and fully intent on killing him. To get through this he would need to fight magic with magic.
As hard as it was to do so, he focused his thoughts on pushing through the pain and channelling his incredible power in order to make a secretive call for help.
“I’m impressed, you’re a lot stronger than I thought you’d be.” she announced, gritting her teeth together, “Perhaps you need a higher dose of my power…”
Draxus instantly let out a loud and pained cry as the constriction on his chest and heart suddenly tightened dramatically; his armour was beginning to cave inward as he struggled to breathe from all of the increased pressure. He would not be able to fend her off much longer.
She revelled in the power over him as she continued to taunt her captive, given his vulnerable state.
“How does it feel, Draxus… to know that your end is near… that you will never again see your precious wife?” Ziya gave a small chuckle before adding, “… Don’t worry, as I understand King Xytsis has a special interest in her. I’m sure he’ll take GOOD care of her after you’re gone.”
That was what he needed to hear.
Even with all that was happening to him, Draxus suddenly felt a second wind rushing through him as he glared down at her with his now golden-yellow eyes. They had thin black slits through the centre of each of his irises now and glowed brightly with his incredible power which had now been activated.
It was time to turn the tables on this menacing Priestess!
As she met his fearsome gaze her black eyes widened in shock and fear at the obvious change in his apparent attitude. Draxus grinned back at her defiantly as she furrowed her brows with obvious confusion.
“Why so smug, King Draxus?” she queried with intrigue. “What are you hiding from me?”
“I sent for backup…” his deep voice answered simply, then proceeding to turn his head to the left to see something.
Needing to know what he meant by this, Ziya mirrored his actions and turned to see what he was looking so smug about, coming face to face with a truly terrifying sight; one she was completely unprepared for.
The massively dark-scaled dragon was standing beside them silently, its glowing neon green spherical eyes fixed on her as it's voice rumbled deeply. Ziya sucked in a sharp breath and her blackened eyes widened with sheer terror at the ferocious beast eyeing her. She hadn’t yet realised that her magical hold on Draxus was now failing and the King used this singular opportunity to strike back.
Reaching down to grasp a dagger from his belt, he ruthlessly thrust it towards her stomach aiming to stab her, but she somehow saw it coming and caught his hand before the tip of the blade reached her robes. Draxus looked to her with shock as she outsmarted him once again; he was in disbelief at how strong she was.
Now her attention was back on him and she was not impressed!
“Nice try.” she whispered to him with a smirk.
With one incredible thrust of her free hand toward him she sent him flying backwards using a powerful force and watched as he landed hard on the ground with a loud groan.
From his new position on the stone floor Draxus watched as the mighty beast beside Ziya sucked in its breath and caused the entire length of its neck to glow a neon green glow from the concealed flames. Ziya acted fast and quickly summoned all of her power to protect herself from the incredible heat about to hit her.
As Drako unleashed his heated flames down upon the Priestess, Ziya held both of her hands out in front of her body to help prevent the intense heat from hitting her; a spherical orb now surrounding her and successfully managing to hold back the glowing flames as they flew by and surrounded her. As they continued to burn around her, she furrowed her brows with concern. She could feel as a warm black trail of her blood began to seep out from one of her nostrils; the apparent consequence for using so much of her power in one hit.
A few seconds later the flames ceased to shoot out at her and the worn out Priestess fell to her knees balancing her weight with both of her arms as she breathed in and out heavily, over and over. The incredibly high level of power she had used for this last moment protection spell had taken a serious toll on her and unfortunately for her, she was in a moment of weakness after having exhausted herself.
The Dragon King now had the upper hand.
Now moving to stand over her, Draxus looked down at Ziya with a powerful glare as his eyes remained bright and unforgiving. She would pay for her attempt to kill him.
“I’ll admit I didn’t see that one coming…” she forced herself to compliment him, “Well done Dragon King… well done.”
“Any last words?” Draxus spoke harshly down to her, clearly feeling no amount of mercy at all for what he was about to do.
Ziya knew she stood no chance at winning this, but she would not go out that easily. She still had one surprise in store for her foe.
As Draxus leaned in and grasped her roughly with his fingers wrapped firmly around her throat, he pulled her up to stand before him completely unaware that her right hand had slowly moved inside of her robes to grasp something. She watched as his eyes bored straight into hers, appearing to glow a bright golden-yellow colour as his powers surged driven by his anger and deepened rage against this woman.
As he began to tighten his grip around her throat and the Priestess’ airway was cut off entirely she acted quickly, thrusting her hand through the small space between them and stabbing the jagged blade of her tiny dagger into the left hand side of his stomach.
Feeling the sudden sting of the inserted blade Draxus cried out with a loud grunt and released his hold on the Priestess allowing her to fall back down to the ground. Taking a couple of steps back from her he glanced down to assess the damage and lifted his hand to touch the wound, now leaking his precious life’s fluid from it. A large warm crimson stain began to form in the space between his armour where he had been stabbed and he could feel the shock beginning to set in. His heart was racing at a tremendous speed and his normally perfect vision began to see brightly coloured spots all around. Looking down at Ziya he glared at the Priestess as she slowly began to rise back up to her feet, clutching the tiny dagger firmly in her hand.
“Now I will truly enjoy finishing you off, Dragon King!” she announced, lifting her hand up with a clenched fist as she began to activate her powers yet again.
A thick blackened smoke gradually formed in front of her, growing in size as she magically generated several silver spears and knives from within its cloud; each aimed directly at Draxus and intended to run him through! Watching as the assortment of magical weapons were formed, he breathed deeply and was about to unsheathe his sword to try and defend himself when he noticed his massive companion lurking from behind Ziya and paused with a confident smile. He had one more ace left up his sleeve.
“Prepare to meet your maker, King Draxus!” Ziya commanded as her eyes smoked heavily and she prepared to shoot every single one of her newly-made weapons straight at him.
“Right back at you!” Draxus announced with a grin.
Before Ziya had the chance to form a word of reply, the giant creature behind her lunged forward with its wide open jaws and quickly snapped them shut, it’s incredibly sharp teeth chomping her clean in half in one powerful force! As it lifted its head back up again and proceeded to swallow the half it had snapped up, the lower half of her body dropped lifelessly to the floor below, followed directly by all of the formed weapons which had been hovering in the air before her.
Draxus breathed out a sigh of relief as he relaxed his body and closed his eyes, suddenly succumbing to the serious pain caused by his injuries. They were a lot worse than originally believed and as Draxus looked down he noticed that he had lost a lot of blood from his wound; his entire shirt and the top of his pants were saturated with it!
“That’s not good…” he muttered to himself softly, then looking up at Drako with hooded eyes.
He could feel his heartrate slowing as his legs suddenly lost their strength and he collapsed landing hard on the cold stone floor below. His right hand clutched at his wound, attempting to prevent blood from escaping, but it was no use. He was too weak and was slowly slipping into unconsciousness from the severe blood loss. He needed help; fast!
"Drako... get... help..." he spoke softly, his arm outstretched for his winged companion across the floor.
The last thing he remembered seeing was his dragon's glowing pair of neon green eyes looming down over him and the warmth of his heated breath as Draxus' eyes slowly closed and the world around him slipped away...