Once Walked With Dragons

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Chapter Forty Seven

The next morning, Keara and Deryck were riding along the outside perimeter of the castle walls. They were checking the magic ward surrounding the walls for any weak points and any areas that may have been damaged. They had packed supplies, knowing that they would probably spend a few days outside the wall. They kept their weapons within easy reach at all times, deciding that they would rather be over alert than get caught off guard.

Keara grew more concerned as the first day passed. The ward had grown weak and was only getting weaker. Certain areas were extremely weak, barely still surviving.
Deryck had made a small fire and cooked dinner for them.
After dinner, she lay on his chest, wrapped in his arms, while he rested against a rock. He had covered her with a blanket as the evenings were growing colder. Keara seemed completely relaxed, lazily staring into the fire.
‘This is nice.’ Deryck said softly.
‘It is.’ she agreed.
‘I wish we could do this more often.’
‘We will be able to one day.’
‘You think so?’
‘Yeah, once this is all over.’
‘Do you really think it’s gonna end soon?’
‘Maybe not soon, but it can’t go on forever.’
‘You think we’ll survive?’ he asked after a moment of silence.
‘Can we not talk about this now, please?’ Keara pleaded, ‘I just had this conversation with Zarra yesterday. And even if it’s just for one night, I would like to pretend that everything is as it should be.’
‘You’re right.’ he said as he held her tighter, ‘This moment is all that’s important now.’
She smiled, leaning her head back, under Deryck’s chin.

Keara’s concern over the ward increased as they continued to check it the next day.
‘How can this be?’ Keara mumbled to herself.
‘What’s wrong, Keara?’ Deryck asked.
‘This ward is only getting weaker. It should not be happening.’
‘But the ward around the stone ring grew weaker; before it was destroyed.’
‘Yes, but that ward was poisoned. According to Artemis, this one should not be getting weaker, even if someone has tried to poison it.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘If Artemis is right about how this ward was created, it should stay strong as long as the beings who created it is still alive.’
Deryck was silent for a moment, ‘Keara, this ward is thousands of years old. The beings who created it are no longer alive.’
‘No; they must still be alive.’ she seemed to be completely sure of that.
He looked at her, ‘Are you feeling okay?’
She jerked her head sharply, looked at him, ‘What?’
‘Are you okay?’ he asked concerned.
‘I’m fine.’
He looked at her for another moment, before getting back to the ward, ‘This ward was created the moment the wall was built. Not even elves live that long. Not even Crucis Salerra can live that long.’
‘It wasn’t elves who created the ward. Or at least, it’s not their magic that has kept the ward alive. They simply assisted in creating the network that binds it.’
‘Then who did?’
‘Not who; what.’
‘What?’ Deryck couldn’t believe it, ‘They still exist?’
‘Well, if this ward still exists, so should they.’
‘Wait, this ward was really created by dragon’s magic?’ Deryck was still stunned.
Keara nodded her head, ‘Yes.’
‘Well then, if we can find them, they can fix the ward.’
‘Yes. But I have no idea where they are.’ she admitted.
‘Maybe the mages will know.’ he suggested.
‘Human mages?’
He frowned, ‘What do you mean, no?’
‘Humans are one of the reasons the dragons disappeared.’
‘What?’ he didn’t understand.
‘Dragon slayers.’
‘Oh. But humans couldn’t have been the only ones.’
‘No, but after the first dragon died at the hands of an unknown being, humans took to it like a sport.’
‘I see.’ Deryck found that he was suddenly disappointed in himself as a human.
‘After that, the world seemed to divide itself among race and species.’ Keara added.
‘Is that really when the division happened?’
‘More or less.’
‘That’s terrible.’
Keara just nodded her head.
‘So, no one knows where they are now?’
‘Any idea how we can find out where they are?’
She was silent for a moment, appearing to be in deep thought, ‘Night Elves.’
‘Really? Night Elves?’ he didn’t believe that it would work.
‘You have a better idea?’
‘We have no idea where they are.’
‘That doesn’t mean they can’t help us.’
‘How are we even supposed to find them?’ he wanted to know.
‘They’ll find us.’
‘What? How are they gonna find us when they don’t even know we’re looking for them?’
‘The Night Elves know everything; past and future.’ Keara paused, ‘We’ll find them when they want themselves to be found.’
‘But what if they don’t want to be found?’
‘A little bit of faith couldn’t hurt.’ she admitted with a soft smile.
Deryck smiled at her, ‘You’re right.’
She hoped she was right and that the Night Elves would indeed help them. So far, the Night Elves had not shown themselves at all. Dangerous times were ahead, and their help would be needed.
Keara continued to check the wall, finding an alarming number of weak areas.
By the end of the night, the air had grown much cooler. Both Keara and Deryck wrapped themselves in blankets. Deryck had laid his head on her lap, falling asleep quickly, while the firelight danced across his face.
Keara couldn’t go into Reverie; though she was not sure why. Not being able to decide whether something was bothering her or if she just wasn’t tired. She stared into the fire as though it would provide her with answers.
Something in the woods attracted her attention. Looking up from the fire, she saw a figure disappearing into the darkness. She could no longer see it, but knew it was still there; and it was watching them.

Joseph was enjoying his time with Saresse completely. There were moments where the only thing he could think about, was her. Sometimes he even forgot about all the dangers that were waiting right outside his happy moments. He constantly found that he lost himself in her soft green eyes; feeling his knees go weak whenever she smiled at him.

Keara and Deryck had been checking the wall for several days now, still finding many weak areas. And as much as it worried her, the figure lurking in the forest worried her more. She could sense its life-force and she knew that it was evil; even savage. But for some reason, it didn’t attack. It seemed to be observing them; possibly learning; listening to their conversations and watching what they were doing.
Since she had first noticed the presence, she had drawn into herself almost completely. She didn’t isolate herself from Deryck, but she barely spoke. He didn’t know why she was acting like this, but he knew she had a very good reason. Unfortunately his human origins prohibited him from sensing what she could sense.
Even their conversations regarding the wall had died down. Deryck didn’t question Keara’s silence on the matter. He knew she had a good reason; he only wished that she would tell him. But he decided that being outside the safety of the wall, might not be the best time to discuss something that could be a dangerous conversation. Maybe such a conversation would be best left inside the castle, in a quiet room.

Michael, Alexander and Jonathan were enjoying their time with their family. They still trained every day, knowing it was necessary, but they didn’t make it their first priority.
They were constantly outside in the yard, playing with their children, devoting their entire being to a child’s imagination. In those moments, nothing else existed. Even the spreading evil was forgotten. Their parents still missed the two youngest siblings, but they still fully enjoyed having three of their children with them.

It had been almost a week since they had started checking the wall. They were almost all the way around. By nightfall, they would be back inside.

But Keara was feeling very uneasy. Why was this being just observing them? It had had so many opportunities to attack, especially when Keara had given her complete attention to what she was doing. Instead, it had kept its distance, staying well out of sight.

By nightfall, Keara and Deryck were finally back inside the walls. He was lounging in a comfortable chair in Artemis’ study while Keara explained what they had found.
‘The ward is growing weaker. Very slowly, but it is happening. And there are an alarming number of weak areas in the ward itself. With a powerful attack on such an area, that part of the ward could be rendered useless.’
‘What do you suggest we do?’ Artemis enquired.
‘Well, for starters, we have to find the creators of the ward.’ Keara stated.
‘The dragons? They haven’t been seen for centuries.’ Artemis pointed out.
‘Wait.’ Deryck started, ‘You knew it was the dragons who created the ward?’
‘Yes.’ Artemis answered.
‘I read.’
Deryck didn’t say another word; realizing that if he did read more, he would probably know more.
‘I’ll work on finding the dragons, but for now, we need a backup plan.’ Keara stated.
‘What did you have in mind?’
‘Your mages could create a bandage-like effect around the ward. Now it would only be temporary and not nearly as powerful. But if we are attacked, it would at least buy us some time.’
‘Well, that’s better than nothing.’ Artemis admitted, ‘But how do you plan on locating the dragons?’
Deryck answered before Keara could even open her mouth to speak, ‘Keara seems to think that the Night Elves might be able to help us.’
‘Do you really think they could?’ Artemis asked Keara.
‘They are our biggest chance of locating the dragons. And I also think they’re our only chance.’ Keara answered.
‘Why do you say that?’ Artemis was intrigued.
‘They are the only ones who can actually give us the correct location. The dragons have been gone for so long, that no one even knows they exist anymore. Obviously, that’s what they wanted, but now, we need their help.’
‘But how will the Night Elves know?’ Artemis asked.
Keara smiled, ‘You haven’t done that much reading, have you?’
‘Well, no.’ Artemis smiled.
‘The Night Elves are capable of seeing into the past and the future. There is nothing they don’t know, so to speak.’ Keara explained.
‘I see. And how do we find them?’
‘Well, we don’t. They’ll find us.’
‘How? They don’t even know that we are now looking for them.’
‘As I have to explained to Deryck, over and over again; who still seems to think I’m crazy; because the Night Elves know everything, they will find us, or allow themselves to be found by us; when they deem it appropriate.’ Keara stated.
‘But, what if they don’t want to help us?’ Artemis had to consider that possibility.
‘This war Sharzak is trying to create will ultimately spread to other beings. He won’t just stop with humans and Dark Elves. Even beings who can see into the future, can’t hide from him forever.’
‘Keara, I don’t mean to offend you, but why would the Night Elves help a Dark Elf, especially Crucis Salerra?’ Artemis asked.
‘I’ve been wondering about that as well.’ Deryck admitted.
‘My kin may be the most hated beings in the world, but not even the Night Elves would allow the Dark Elves’ demise. It would only upset the already delicate balance of the world.’ Keara answered, though a little offended.
‘I’m sorry that I offended you, Keara. I just had to know.’ Artemis apologized.
‘It’s okay, Artemis. I understand why you had to ask. And I have also considered that possibility. But I am relying on hope. Without it, we will not survive.’

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