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Papa 3

By rodneylikes All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Fantasy

Untitled Chapter

In the following days, the dragon makes his return

a blemish to the city of Ishmera. His daily raids on

the citizens have them living in fear. Rhiannon and

I patrol the city in the early mornings, but to no

avail. The dragon strikes quick and silently and we

can't be everywhere at once. He is elusive,

disappearing after every attack.

Blue Stockings, the Gazark, makes his appearance

at the end of the week. I had gone to meet him at

the same place i had first met him. His blue feet

transform to green as he silently pads over the

grass, blending into his surroundings.

"Lo, Citizens," he calls, drawing my attention. I

can't see much of him. Only the whites of his eyes

give any indication of where he is.

"Hello, Blue Stockings. I squint in the bright

sunshine as I try to keep track of where he is.

"I hear the red dragon is up to his old antics again,

attacking your people and setting fires in the town.

Is this true?"

"Yes. He is making it a habit to raid the town for his

meals, meaning us. The residents have gone into

lock-down, afraid he'll return."

"Have any plans how to stop him?" the gazark asks.

"Nope." I drown at him. "Rhiannon and I are trying

to catch him in the act when he attacks, but haven't

had any luck yet."

"I'd like to talk to you and Rhiannon about it." He

shuffles his feet while standing still. "Will you take

me to her?"

"Sure, but -"

"I'll be okay. It's been a long time since Elves and

Gazarks have been at odds." He smiles reassuringly

at me.

"I hope so," I mutter as I lead him into Ishmera.

Outside of the guard house we meet Rhiannon

walking our way.

"I was just coming to find you," she says. "What's

going on?"

"Blue Stockings wants to speak to us about the

dragon."

"Oh?" She raises an eyebrow at him as she falls in

step with us.

"I'm wondering. What are you doing to do with the

red dragon? David says you are attempting to catch

him, but you haven't had any luck yet."

"He's right, we've been scouring the city during the

early hours when he attacks, but without -"

"It's the frigginin' gazark! It's back after all these

years! Just when the red dragon reappears and

now he's back!" A tall elf interupts her, running at

us. In his hand, he carries a long javelin, which he

waves in a menacing manner. He has a wild look in

his eyes as he reaches back to throw his weapon.

Rhiannon steps in front of Blue Stockings, shielding

him from the newcomer's wrath.

As our attacker launches his spear, I dive in front of

Rhiannon to shield her from his deadly intent.

I'm knocked to my knees and a searing pain rips my

chest. I've been hit! She covers her mouth with

trembling hands. My mind flashes back to the war ,

but Rhiannon's scream brings me back to the

present. I look down to see my blood spill out in

vast amounts. I topple over, my knees bending into

an ackward position beneath me.

A sickening relief washes over me as I realize i've

crossed the chicken line where feet may fail.

Rhiannon's next scream brings me to my senses for

an instant. I can't let her see me die. I have to spare

her from this!

The pouch around my waist burns firey hot.

Numbly I seek to open it, as it grows hotter. The

headband! I can spare her from the painful

memories of witnessing my death by pulling it on

and slipping into the Mists. I pull it on as I see the

chicken line spinning out of reach and turning a

bright yellow as it bobs in an ever-widening pool of

blood.

I'm not aware of when I enter the Mists.The angelic

sounds I normally hear are even more acute to my

ears. Michael stands nearby as if he's waiting for

me.

"Take the headband off, David," he urges. I resist

the temptation to ignore his suggestion as a

moment of terror sweeps over me.

I tear it off and immediately feel as if I'm drowning

as cool fluid fills my lungs. I struggle for breath as

darkness closes in on me. Black then engulfs me.

This is it. I'm going to die! At least Rhiannon is safe!

A bright light shines in the dark, growing closer and

closer. Voices murmur in the background, but are

indistinguishable.

"It's not your time, my friend. I have plans for you."

The light recedes to blackness. The cool liquid

soothes the burning agony and in my chest and the

piercing pain is gone.

Rhiannon

I watch in horror as the guards carry David's body

into his room at the palace. Physicans scurry like

cockroaches around him. They turn to me with

somber faces.

"He's dead, Princess. There's nothing more we can

do." They pull a sheet over him and walk out of the

room.

Rytkovia wraps her arms around me, but there is

no comforting me. My heart is heavy and I struggle

to breathe. I approach the sheet, but Rytkovia

intercepts me.

"No, Rhiannon. I'm not sure it's best for you to

remember him this way." All fight leaves me and I

allow her to lead me away to the courtyard. She sits

beside me as i weep. Sobs wrack my body for hours

while Rytkovia wraps her strong arms around me

"Oh, David!" I wail as my tears fall like rain. "Why?"

She trembles and I know she's crying too. We cling

to each other until my eyes are swollen and red.

There is no relief for the pain and regret I feel. The

love of my life is gone. Dead from a senseless act of

violence from some revenge-maddened citizen. For

a second, white-hot anger flashes through me and I

hear a loud thunder clap above me. It is gone as

soon as it comes though I realize the futility of such

feeling now. The night drags on. Never-ending

misery hollows my soul and when I think I have no

more tears left to cry, another wave washes over

me.

I'm not sure when the rain began, but when a tree

erupts in a shower of sparks, the spectacle catches

my attention for an instant. Lightning illuminates

the uncovered portion of the courtyard, followed by

a deafening crack of thunder. The thunder becomes

a continuous roar. It's as if the elements are

sharing sympathy pains with me and are running

amok, but I don't care, none of it matters. My mind

is numb and empty as the deluge increases around

us.

The rain pummels the ground the hardest I've ever

seen. It's as if the storehouses of Heaven have

opened, and are flooding the palace. It reminds me

of an old Earthism that David used. "It's raining

cats and dogs." The memory sends me into a

renewed fit of tears and it rains harder.

The wind, formerly howling through the protected

courtyard, increases to an Undulouvian wail, as

branches are torn from trees and bushes. Soon the

ground is strewn with them. I walk in the rain and

wind. With my love destroyed, I don't fear death.

Not even the red dragon scares me. I would

welcome death over this pain.

Rytkovia stares at me, her eyes wide at this display

of the elements. It is unlike any of us has ever

experienced. At last, I fall into a fitful sleep in her

arms.

I stir, hoping to shake this nightmare, but when I

wake we are still in the courtyard. David is dead.

My loss isn't a nightmare but a horrible reality.

Tears again fall from my eyes as I sit up.

Stirring beside me, Rytkovia sits up and pulls me

into her arms again. We huddle together and

continue our ceaseless grieving.

More time passes and I pull away from Rytkovia.,

wiping my tender face. She does the same thing and

stares into the dim light over my shoulder.

"Oh, My God!" Rytkovia bolts straight.

"What is it?" I leap to my feet and towards where

she is staring. David stands before us. "David!

You're alive!" Black spots dance before me until my

vision turns dark.

David

I awake on my bed the next morning, still my blood-

soaked clothes, a sheet over my head. Has it all

been a terrible nightmare? No, the blood suggests

something entirely different and real. I feel like

something the cat dragged through a knothole. Or

better yet, road kill.

I attempt to remember the events of the previous

day, but my memories are of seeing a bright light in

the Mists and feeling content like I was going home.

All else is dark.

Changing into clean clothes, I walk into the

courtyard where I see Rhiannon and Rytkovia

huddled together, sobbing. I'm startled when

Rytkovia sees me and gasps a little squeal.

"Oh, My God!" she screams, and springs to her feet,

her face paling.

"What is it?" Rhiannon leaps to her feet and turns.

"David! You're alive!" Her knees buckle and I run

forward, catching her in my arms as she faints.

Rhiannon's red and swollen eyes flutter open. They

grow wide, shock and confusion present in her

every feature. They pop wider with a deer-in-the-

headlights stare locking with mine.

"David! What happened to you? I thought you were

dead," she whispers, tears glistening in her brown

eyes.

"I don't remember anything after I saw the elf

throw his javelin."

"He struck you in the chest with his spear. You

pulled the headband on and collapsed. I tried to

revive you and the physicians pronounced you

dead!" She breaks into tears, crying a half

hysterical, half-relieved rasp, and dances from one

foot to the other, locking her arms around me in a

death grip.

"I think that reports of my death are a little

premature." I wrap my arms around her. "All I

recall is seeing Michael, you remember him? In the

Mists? We met him there."

"Yes!" She trembles in my arms.

"I think he told me to take the headband off and I

saw a bright light, but it went away. The next thing I

was aware of is waking up in my room with my

bloody clothes and a sheet pulled over me as if I

were dead. And here I am."

"You scared me out of a year's growth," Rytkovia

growls, shaking her blonde curls.

I grin at her, remembering her shocked expression.

Priceless.

"I'm glad you're ..."Rhiannon says with a shudder,

and begins sobbing uncontrollably. After several

minutes of clutching me tightly, she steps back and

says, "Let me see the damage."

She opens my robe, revealing the angry red mark

where the javelin struck me. She runs her fingertips

over it gently. I feel her channeling her healing

power on it as warmth flows from her fingers.

"It missed the heart, but still it should have killed

you. You took the weapon meant for the

Mandogia... or me... didn't you? I'd rather die than

live without you."

"And I would rather lay down my life for you and

consider it an honor," I say.

"Obviously," says Rhiannon. "Don't do it again.

Promise me."

For once, I tune her words out. That's not

happening. No way.

I continue to ignore her pleas, until Rytkovia says,

"all right aready, both of you. We know you both

would rather rather die for each other, but didn't.

Let's be happy we're all alive and well, okay?"

"Yes, let's." I grasp her hand and shoot Rytkovia a

grateful glance as I turn; I'm relieved to have

Rhiannon's mind diverted elsewhere. I know this

has been a terrible experience for her, but at the

time, the Mists had seemed the best option

available to me. I remember I was dying. Something

about seeing a bright light triggers a memory of

something my mother told me as a child about

death, but I can't recall it.

Rhiannon spends the rest day hovering next to me.

I know she's worried I will disappear again. She's

moody, with lips straight, brows drawn tight and

quiet, appearing deep in thought. She excuses

herself to speak to her father. They murmur in

hushed tones, bit I still can't help but overhear

some of their conversation.

"David took the brunt of the attack for me and went

to the Mists so I wouldn't watch him die. Is that

what happened with Mother? She removed the

pain and injury for you? Tell me, Father!" Her voice

rises.

The king lets out a weary sigh. "I was struck a

mortal wound and she saved me at the cost of her

own life. She poured all her strength into me, to

save me." He pauses and clears his throat as an

expression of pain crosses his throat. "When she

finished and it was apparent I would live, she

hadn't enough strength to carry on herself." After

another brief pause, he chokes out, "I've mourned

her loss for years. I hold on to my guilt and shame

with no end in sight. I would have done anything

within my power...." The king chokes at reliving his

terrible loss and sobs rack his shoulders.

"That's how I feel about David saving me from the

attack meant for ... whom ever it was for... me or

the mandogia. He should have died."

He wraps her in his arms and pulls her close.ae

"Then let's us be joyful neither of you died. It seems

he made a wise choice; don't let guilt tear at your

soul. His quick-witted decision was your salvation;

not many do so. He made a split-second decision to

protect you; it's not everyone who would have

made that choice so quickly and willingly. Cherish

him, cherish your love. One may never their end

nor how soon, not even a king or a princess. You

never know when death will come."

She smiles at him and gives him a kiss on his

forehead. "Thank you, Father, for setting the truth

of Mom's death." Her footsteps are lighter as she

returns to where Rytkovia and I sit.

Rhiannon

I'm not certain what happened when he entered

the Mists. David died. He did it for me; perhaps to

spare me from watching his lifeblood draining

away. This surreal dimension, brought a miracle

and David lives. Should I regret he died? No, I tell

myself. He is alive. My mother, she gave her life for

her husband, the king. I'm surrounded by heroes.

But, with that heroism comes with great sacrifice

and loss. I'm immensely glad I didn't die. In fact, I

have more to live for, as I know the depth of

David's love for me. He'd died for me in a

heartbeat. How many women ever experience the

kind of love in action that moves without thought?

I smile, enlightened. Now I know what David refers

to when he talks about the chicken line and doing

something beyond where feet may fail to take him

David has crossed that line in spades, yet I feel his

doubt he can do so.

I stay close to him for the rest of the day, my nerves

rattled by his near death that nearly left me lost and

alone. That line seems wider than ever. Do I have

what it takes to cross the line and die to save

another? I sigh as I shove the thought deep in my

mind to contemplate on later.

For now, I'm content to enjoy his presence while I can.

David

My fathe as a child, if I was thrown off a horse, to

get back on immediately, lest my fears win because

I would become afraid of getting bucked off again.

I know I must return to the Mists and face

whatever terror I had experienced there. To me,

the experience hadn't been as terrifying as much as

it had been traumatic.

I slide the headband on. Instantly, I feel the pull in

my stomach and find myself in the Mists. They are

clearer than they've ever seemed in the past and

suddenly i'm conscious of the fact there isn't any

ground beneath me. It's unnerving. Soon, I'm

aware of another's presence.

"Hello, David, a deep voice rings out from behind

me. I jump as this new source of sound startles me.

"Who's there?' I demand.

"It is I, Gabriel," the voice responds, sending echos

through the atmosphere.

"What is this place, Gabriel?" I ask

"This is a corridor for angels. You know you're not

supposed to be here, don't you?"

"No, I didn't know that. Why?"

"Because only the dead, angels, and demons are

meant to traverse this realm," Gabriel explains.

So that's it! I gasp.

"I was dying," I mumble, "the last time I came here."

"And they let you come back again?" His voice is

incredulous.

"Yep. I saw a bright light and heard a loud voice.

Then the light faded away and I woke up in my

bed."

"It wasn't your time," Gabriel says. "The

atmosphere varies with your need. When you are

dead or dying, it revives one with a fluid like the

legendary ambrosia, the drink of the gods. It

restores the mind and body until they are judged.

But the second time you are exposed to it will be

your last..." he warns. "The headband protects you

now, but without it....

I'm speechless at his revelations and stand mute

for a few minutes. Before I regain my voice, he

speaks.

"This is where I must leave..." and he disappears

with a whoosh of his wings.

Wings? I stunned by the events I've just

experienced. When my eyes flutter open, I realize

i'm back in my bunk.

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