The Provinces of Veterumterrum

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Chapter 21

The Plan

Azariah Sergens

Riker and Kruzco were carrying Vylasgarden back to the forest through the mouth of the river when Azariah left them to scout ahead to find the hippogriff the zionders used to fly to the location. She ran so fast through tree and brush that her green cloak got caught several times till she eventually left it behind, freeing herself from its shadow. The forest was dark and obscured from the night but her eyes guided her through. Eventually she caught the scent of the creature and found two tethered to a massive tree trunk. Azariah approached them but the hippogriffs screeched and exposed their sharp beak and reared to show off their razor talons. “Shhh, it is okay. I am a friend,” Azariah said soothingly to the hippogriffs. The creatures attempted to fly away but was caught by their harnesses and tethers. “I know you want to be free. I am here to free you. Don’t be afraid.” Azariah crept to them with raised hands and a crouched stance.

The hippogriffs startled away but eventually cornered themselves around the tree. “You must be mates,” Azariah said looking at the pair. One of the hippogriffs was larger and had darker colored feathers compared to the lightly colored feathers of the smaller one. Hippogriffs mate for life, Azariah thought as she recalled her history on monstrous beasts. She remembered that hippogriff mates do everything together and that one will not leave the other’s side. Azariah reached for the female hippogriff’s face near its sharp beak. The creature screeched and flinched away but Azariah only got closer; she grasped the tether and slowly brought her dagger near it. The hippogriff stayed still as its chest rose and fell with anticipation.

Baron Von Riker

“We need to get to Flos Sergens and warn them as soon as possible,” Riker said as he collapsed on the river’s bank along with Vylasgarden and Kruzco.

“We will…never get there in time…if Azariah can’t find the hippogriff,” Vylasgarden replied panting.

“She find it,” Kruzco assured Vylasgarden.

“What happens then?” Riker asked as tiredness took over him and he felt his fingers tingling from fatigue. “Even with the hippogriff, it would take no less than several days to get from here to the Flos Sergens. We may beat the Nekodarz there but it won’t be enough time to prepare the cities and the surrounding territories.”

“We won’t go right to Flos Sergens,” Vylasgarden insisted.

Riker lifted his head and turned to Vylasgarden. “What? Why?”

“We will need help first,” Vylasgarden replied. “And I know who is strong enough to help us fight.” Riker considered Vylasgarden’s suggestion and only thought of emperor Theod-Rah and his forces for help. Surely he would have no choice other than to help but ultimately it would be consider a failed mission if he had to involve himself with the Nekrodarz.

“Thought said no time,” Kruzco pointed out.

“There isn’t. Which is why we need to go to the Jeweled Mountains immediately,” Vylasgarden said slowly standing up.

“What’s there that can help us?” Riker asked. “The mountain dwarves? No one has seen them in who knows how long.”

“The ‘red devil’,” Vylasgarden replied.

Riker attempted to clear his ear of debris, “You cannot be serious,” he said to her.

“Trust me,” Vylasgarden said noticing the sun rising over the horizon. “The red dragon is our only chance to fight against an undead army powered by the Phoenix Flame. The ancient dragons’ power is of old magic which is what we need on our side.”

Riker threw up his hands and said, “Well, I have no better idea. If it works it works otherwise we’ll be lizard food anyway.” Vylasgarden was going to respond but noticed the sound of beating wings nearby. Riker stood up and he, Vylasgarden, and Kruzco followed the sound. Just over the tree line, they saw Azariah mounted on a beastly hippogriff descending toward them.

“Son of a banshee…” Kruzco muttered as Azariah landed the hippogriff before them.

“Is oddly like riding a horse,” Azariah said while petting the female hippogriff by its feathery neck. Behind them the massive male hippogriff landed and screeched.

“Son of a banshee!” Riker yelled falling over before the creature.

“You never cease to amaze,” Vylasgarden said to Azariah as she approached the male hippogriff.

“What is the plan from here?” Azariah asked.

“We fly as fast as we can to the Jeweled Montains,” Vylasgarden replied as she reached for the hippogriffs face.

“But what about the Nekodarz?” Azariah questioned.

“We cannot defeat it alone while it also possesses the Phoenix Flame,” Vylasgarden said mounting the hippogriff’s saddle and then helped Kruzco passenger. “I think it is time to fight fire with fire and reintroduce the world to dragons.”

Azariah blinked hard. “That is our plan? You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, but she is,” Riker replied sarcastically as he stood up and approached the female hippogriff. “I hope you know what you’re doing,” he said referring to Vylasgarden as he mounted the rear behind Azariah.

“Me too,” Vylasgarden said to him before slapping the male hippogriff’s reins. The powerful creature galloped down the riverbank and spread its majestic wings as the wind carried it to a glide. The female hippogriff followed behind and the two glided over the river water before a strong current of air too them fhigh into the morning sky.

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