The Provinces of Veterumterrum

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Chapter 20

Ordeal

Azariah Sergens

Azariah gasped awake. Her head was pounding and her body ached. Breathing again was like she had held her breath the entire time she was out. Was I dead? What about the others? Are they okay? She thought as she looked around in the darkness and saw the debris laid throughout the chamber. “Riker? Vylasgarden? Are you there?” she called out but received no answer. She sat up and immediately regretted moving so quickly. The room spun but she persevered her stance as her vison can in and out of focus. Azariah found Kruzco first as she used the wall of the chamber to keep her balance. He was lying on his back under a few boulders. “Kruzco,” she wheezed. “Are you okay?”

“Did…we…win?” he said with a shaky voice. He laid motionlessly and with his eyes closed.

“I do not know. It all happened so fast…Vylasgarden!” Azariah screamed and rushed over to the center of the room where Vylasgarden lied on the top of the rubble under the moonlight. Her blue scales called out to Azariah like a beacon. Azariah cradled Vylasgarden’s massive body in her slight arms. “Vylasgarden wake up. I need you to wake up now, okay,” she said to her with tears in her eyes. “You are not dead!” she screamed at Vylasgarden’s unresponding body. “You do not get to do that, not now. Come now, wake up!”

“Azariah…” a voice said from across the room. It was Riker. He stood with Kruzco in tattered clothing but in one piece wincing and holding his side. “Azariah we need to leave.”

“Not until she wakes up!” Azariah yelled back at him.

“Azariah, she was struck directly by lightning…” Riker tried to reason.

“We’ve seen her survive worse,” Azariah said clasping her hand into Vylasgarden’s claw. “She is the better of us, she doesn’t deserve this. She still has to avenge her family.”

They waited in silence for what felt like long quiet moments. Every once and a while Azariah would look up at the hole in the ceiling and notice that the moon had ventured further across the aether.

“Azariah, it’s time,” Riker eventually said.

Azariah gently placed Vylasgarden’s head onto the rubble. It was very non-ideal for a resting place but Riker was right, they had to leave her behind. As Azariah stepped away from the Rubble a growling groan came from Vylasgarden’s body. Azariah gasped and ran back to her.

“Riker! Kruzco! She is alive!” Azariah cried out.

“She’s alive?” Riker questioned.

“She alive!” Kruzco echoed and ran with Riker to join Azariah at Vylasgarden’s side. Vylasgarden came to with blinking eyes and twitching hands.

“Guys?” Vylasgarden uttered.

“It is us Vylasgarden, your friends,” Azariah replied.

“We are friends now…huh?” Vylasgarden asked sarcastically.

“Yes, we are friends!” Azariah scoffed and gave Vylasgarden a tight hug.

“Easy! Easy! Everything hurts,” Vylasgarden moaned.

“Sorry!” Azariah apologized and loosened her grip.

“There will be time for hugging after we get that sword,” Vylasgarden said attempting to get to her feet. Her exposed scaly skin was bruised all over and revealed fractal scaring that reached from the side of her face and down her back.

“Whoa now warrior,” Riker protested. “You may be near invincible but even with your qi it will take us more than a few days to face that thing again.”

“We don’t…have…time,” Vylasgarden struggled to say as Kruzco and Azariah helped her to her feet. “Now that it has…combined its sword with the Phoenix Flame…it will use it to raise its army. The flame is the source of power,” Vylasgarden forced out before falling over. Kruzco carried one of her arms over his shoulder and hoisted her up.

“Why would the Nekodarz want to resurrect its dead army?” Azariah questioned. She met Riker’s eyes and noticed that he had an inkling.

“It’s going to resurrect it to finish what was started. The war.”

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