Heart Stone - (The Dagger of Dragon Rose Book 2)

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Grathius

“You must Learn to control your temper” - Griffith Wolftracker
It took the Taren and Cera a long time to walk back to the castle proper. They walked in silence, as neither of them had the energy to speak. As they approached the crystal structure, Shaunna rushed out to meet them. Her face was flushed with excitement.
“Did you see?” She asked, her words almost running together. “It’s Grathius.”
Taren nodded grimly. “Is he okay?”
Shaunna sobered quickly at this question. “Saria and Hope are both attending to him. If anyone can help him, they can.”
“Where are Morganna and Tarea?” Taren asked.
“They are... occupied at the moment” Shaunna answered cryptically.
Taren was to tired too pursue the subject, so he just let it drop.
Cera and Taren led each other into a large room with a table in the center. High backed crystal chairs ringed the table. Taren slumped into one of the chairs, and watch in fascination as Cera slowly melted into the floor. He was always amazed at the thought of how the strange crystal woman interfaced with the castle.
Even in his tired state, he noticed that the normally light blue hue of the walls darkened a slightly when the corporeal form of the castle’s spirit rejoined the rest of her body. He watched the walls for a long while, not sure what he should be expecting, but he had a very uneasy feeling. He pulled Ethos from the scabbard to examine him. The sword appeared unscathed. The blade had a slight blemish at the point that had contacted the darkness surrounding the Flameblade, but the rest of the blade seemed to glow brighter than it had previous to the fight.
He got the sense that Ethos was sleeping, which surprised him, as he had thought that the Crystal Blades didn’t need sleep. “I’ll ask Ethos about it later.” He thought to himself. “For now, I think a nap would be a wonderful idea.” He closed his eyes and drifted off into a deep sleep where his dreams were plagued with the images of a large, dark, wolf monster.
A light touch, and a bright blue light startled Taren awake. His mind was briefly grasped by a terrifying sense of confusion as he took in the sight before him. He was not sure where he was, or how he had gotten there. Now he was surrounded by strange people that he didn’t recognize.
“Taren, calm down and look.” Ethos’ voice was calm as he spoke.
The young Elf closed his eyes for a moment. When he reopened them, he was pleased to see that he was surrounded by friends. Shaunna, Morganna, Saria, Cera, and Hope all looked at him with worried expressions on their faces.
“Oh, Taren, I am so sorry.” Saria said shyly. I didn’t realize that my touch would wake you so suddenly. I was just trying to heal the wound on the side of your head.”
It was then that he noticed that his head did not hurt as it had before. Gingerly, he ran a finger down the side of his head where the shadow monster had hit him. He felt no pain.
“Are you okay?” Shaunna asked.
“I’m fine.” He assured her. “It was just the confusion after waking.”
“That’s not what I meant. Grathius told us about the fight.” She responded
Taren sat up straight. “So Grathius is okay?” He asked
A large brown wolf slowly limped out from behind the group. “The healing power of yourrr sisterrr and Hope is still worrrking on me, but I will be fine. I wish I could say the same for Marrrk.”
Taren reached out to the flame blade, trying to use his newly found connection with the swords to speak to him. He could feel a slight ember of consciousness burning, where he thought he should experience an inferno of thought.
“Mark is not dead, but he is not well either.” He looked at the two healers. “Isn’t there anything that you can do?”
They both shook their heads.
Saria was the one that answered. She seemed to be on the verge of tears. “We tried everything we could. Our power does not work.”
“Our power only works on physical injuries, this is an injury of either the mind, or the spirit.” Hope explained. “I think that the best chance for healing stands with Maxx.”
“I have tried to contact him.” Maxx’ voice was strained. “I can sense him just out of reach.”
Grathius slowly approached the table. He was silent as he placed Mark on the crystal surface. There was a collective gasp as everyone beheld the dark form of the sword. His blade was clear, with no light shining from it at all. Deep within the large ruby in the center a dim light flickered weakly. It was disconcerting to see the once vibrant sword lay motionless on the table.
Taren placed his hand on Grathius’ shoulder. “We will find a way to help him.”
A large tear slid down the wolf-man’s snout as he just nodded.
Shaunna approached Taren. “Come, let’s leave them alone.” She took him by the shoulders and started to lead him from the room. He paused just long enough to place the still slumbering form of Ethos back in his scabbard, then allowed her to lead him from the room.
Taren heard the other’s leave the room behind him. He turned to face the others.
“Tarea, where were you, we could have really used you in that fight.”
Tarea blushed. “I was occupied.”
It was then that he noticed her clothes. Instead of the tight shorts and top that she normally wore, she was clad in a deep blue blouse and a black skirt that fell to just above her knees. She had two swords strapped across her back, and another two on her hips. Black leather boots that stopped mid-calf adorned her feet. A light grey belt, clasped with a silver buckle circled her waist.
Fire flashed in Taren’s eyes. “While I was getting beaten senseless, you were looking at clothes?” He fought to keep his voice under control as the rage flooded through him.
Tarea narrowed her eyes. Her hair began to rustle as if she were standing in a breeze. As the strands of her hair rubbed against each other, electricity began to arc between them. “Listen well, baby brother,” She began slowly. “Just because I was not out there helping you fight your friend, that does not mean that what I was doing was any less important.” as her voice rose, the force that disturbed her snowy locks increased in strength. By the time that she was done speaking, the electricity was jumping from the ends of her hair with small popping sounds.
Shaunna stepped in between the siblings. “Taren, this was important.”
Taren just shrugged, and turned to stalk away.
Tarea’s fury boiled over. “YOU!” she shouted, and pointed her arms towards him. Electricity began to arc between her arms as it raced towards her fingertips. As the power reached her hands, a bolt of lightning shot from her hands and struck Taren in the back. Her fury quickly turned to horror as her brother hurtled through the air before crashing to the floor with a resounding thud.
“What have I...?” She began, but stopped mid-sentence as he rose from the floor and turned to face her.
“What was that?” He asked, too amazed to be angry.
“How... why...“ Tarea babbled.
“That is exactly what I was thinking.” He said, turning to show the white feathers of his wings through the hole that the lightning had burned through his cloak. “How did you do that?
Tarea was paler than usual as she marched past the others, grabbing Taren by the arm. “Come I need to show you something.”
“Tarea, what is going on?” Taren asked.
The second oldest Elloy child did not answer as she march her brother to the area where the sparring circle had been earlier that day. She stopped and looked around a moment, ignoring the protests from the other, and the sound of the rest of the party approaching.
“There,“ She said, pointing at the pillar that she had thrown Taren against during their aerial battle. “I have the ability to project lightning from my hands, but it usually has an odd effect on things that it hits.”
She raised both hands perpendicular to her body. As before the electricity arced between her arms as it moved towards her hands. With great accuracy, a massive electrical charge leaped from her hands. The pillar shattered into thousands of small shards that caused the crystal of the cavern to resonate with each impact.
Taren stared at the stump that was left of the gigantic pillar in awe. “Is that what you hit me with?” He asked.
Tarea shrugged. “I don’t know. I think so, but I am not able to control the power output.” She still looked pale, and was obviously shaken by what had happened. “That’s not the worst part.”
As Tarea finished speaking, Shaunna gasped, “Taren, look.” as she pointed to the ground around what was left of the pillar.
He had expected to see thousands pieces of crystal littering the ground, but this is not the sight that met his eyes. The shards of crystal had all turned an opaque gray.
Tarea sighed. “That’s the worst part. Everything I have ever hit with the lightning has instantly turned to stone, except you.”
A light hand came to rest on her shoulder. “Did you know he wouldn’t be effected when you shot him?” Saria’s voice was soothing.
“No, I didn’t know.” Tarea answered. “I didn’t mean to hit him at all. I just lost control.”
Taren laughed nervously. “Well now we know that you won’t really hurt me.”
“Taren...” Shaunna began, but he stopped her with a wave of his hand.
“Tarea, I am sorry. I said some things today that I shouldn’t have. Earlier, I didn’t mean what I said, I was caught up in the sparring match. More recently, I was angry with you, and I should not have been.” Taren apologized.
His sister ran to him and threw her arms around his neck. “I forgive you. Can you forgive me? I didn’t mean it.”
Taren gently stroked her hair. “Yes, I forgive you.” He turned towards the castle. “I’m hungry. Let’s go get something to eat.”
There were no objections as the group turned and headed towards the crystal building.

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