It's Never Over
It’s Never Over
Very little of the morning light pierced through the dark clouds, as Otis trotted up to the small building where Millorny was held. Three dragons were curled up with their long tails tucked up under their bodies and a group of five soldiers waited for Otis in front of the building.
“He wasn’t there,” one of the soldier’s shouted out when he saw Otis approach. “We were told to release him to you, but he must have been moved. He could be anywhere.”
“What?” was Otis’s only response.
“We haven’t told her yet,” the soldier said pointing to Millaney who was walking up to them a short distance away. “We told her we wanted to wait for you to get here first.” The soldier nodded to Millaney and walked quickly back to his comrades and the five of them headed back to their camp.
Otis put a firm hand on her shoulder when she arrived, and looked her in the eyes.
“It’s not quite over yet. They moved him somewhere,” he said to her as gently as he could. Millaney lowered her head into her hands.
“I don’t know how much more of this I can take. I swear if they harm him in any way. I’ll have my dragons burn this city to the ground.”
“We’ll go the pyramid mound in the center of the city. That’s where they will take him.” Otis again mounted his rooghon and Millaney charged over to her dragon.
Further away on the opposite side of the city four Shrkai soldiers all with the dragon insignia on their armor led Millorny out of a building and onto a platform. They chained his arms and legs to an ‘X’ shaped set of beams on the platform then they stepped off and a dozen Shrkai men lifted the platform to their shoulders. They carried him through streets lined with the Shrkai people out to watch the execution.
Inside Trajev’s chambers a dragon clan soldier stepped in and bowed.
“Sir the execution has been moved up. Will you please come with me?” The soldier said while still in a bow position.
“What? Under whose authority?”
“Ralomar sir,” the soldier replied still bowing. “There was an attempt to rescue the prisoner and we were ordered to move up the execution time.”
“Fine I’ll be right with you,” Trajev begrudgingly replied, as he put on his formal robes. “Let’s go then” He walked passed the soldier who finally rose and followed the Grand Chancellor out of his room.
Millaney and the other dragons circled over the city searching for any sign of her father when they saw him being escorted off the platform and up the steps of the temple building. Her first instinct was to swoop down and rescue him, but Frolin shouted from behind her in the saddle.
“Wait!... Those four towers they built around the temple mound have ballistae mounted in them. Millaney looked down and the sharp harpoon-sized arrows that pointed out of each tower turned to aim at her and the other dragons.
“So these dragons can maneuver around a few projectiles.”
“A few? You don’t understand. Those look like ballistae I designed. They’re modeled after the ballista used up north, but I added a spring loaded rack which can hold a dozen arrows the size of harpoons. A couple strong men can rapid fire several arrows in just a short time. With four towers like that, they can fill the sky with arrows. They’d shoot us down before we even got close.”
“You designed them? Whose side are you on anyway?”
“I didn’t know they’d be used against us. Let’s land on that mesa over there to think about a strategy.” Frolin pointed to an empty mesa a short distance away.
“Sarnay you go find Otis, Darvin land over here with us.” Millaney shouted out, then landed her dragon on the mesa. Darvin swooped down right behind her while Sarnay flew off to look for Otis. Frolin lay down on his stomach and adjusted his goggles to look over the situation below. There were about a thousand soldiers all with the insignia of the dragon on their armor guarding the steps up the pyramid that opened ranks to allow the procession with Millorny pass by. Frolin focused his goggles on the top of the pyramid, Trajev was just being brought out from steps inside the temple and Patrah and all the council members and priests were filling in as well. “What are we going to do?” Millaney asked of no one in particular, as Sarnay landed her dragon on the top of the mesa.
“Otis will be here soon.” Sarnay announced after she dismounted and joined the other two.
“Maybe he’ll have some ideas,” Millaney sighed.
“Well If we can get a message to Patrah. The council seems to listen to him,” Darvin pointed out.
“Great idea!” Frolin remarked, as he dug the box with his mechanical butterfly in it out of his pocket. “Someone write a note tell him we caught the golem.”
“You three work on that. I’m going to fly down and talk to Otis.” Millaney darted from the group and mounted her dragon.
“I should come with you,” Sarnay shot out, as she too raced for her dragon.
“No please stay here. I may need some aerial support.”
The crowd of people in the streets departed, as the dragon spread its wings and proceeded to land.
“Fly back to Sarnay.” Millaney directed to her dragon after landing. “She may need you. Now go on.” Dahvy spread her wings out wide and with a flap or two and a leap of her powerful back legs, she was airborne and flew out back to the mesa with the other dragons. Otis tossed Millaney a wooden staff, as the two of them stood before a thousand Shrkai soldiers. “A staff? I think we’ll need something better than that against these odds,” Millaney questioned after catching the staff.
“Being stupid shouldn’t be a death sentence. These soldiers are just following orders from their leaders. Besides I don’t want you to have blood on your hands,” Otis answered her as the street in front of them cleared of citizens and they stood alone against the army of Shrkai. “Broken bones and bruises I’m alright with though.”
“Do you think we can fight passed them?”
“I doubt it, but I think we’re going to find out soon enough.”
While Otis and Millaney stood their ground in front of the soldiers. Millorny was tied down inside a large bronze dish, then the dish was turned upward toward the sun. A Shrkai soldier walked up to Ralomar.
“Sir this won’t work. We were expecting the sun to bake him, but it won’t work with this cloud cover.”
“Light a fire under it,” Ralomar ordered and the soldier left to convey his order to the others and they went down from the pyramid to gather some wood.
“What? That’s not what I had in mind,” Trajev who stood right next to Ralomar questioned.
“The council has ordered him executed. This will work as well as a hot sun.”
Meanwhile at dragon castle Gaitlynne suddenly found herself in the spirit realm walking on the edge of a giant dagger with Casanna right behind her.
“Why can’t you just leave me alone?” Gaitlynne asked, as she turned to face the chaotic goddess.
“Oh you’ll want to hear what I have to say this time.”
“Fine get it over with so I can get back to my castle.”
“I want you to promise me something first.”
“I promise not to pound your ass if you be quick about what you want to say.”
“That’s it threaten a goddess whom you know you can’t hurt in any way. One of your friends is in trouble and the god of chaos is helping to kill him.”
“What? Alright now you have to tell me.”
“Patience my hot-tempered mortal, promise me first you’ll listen to my proposal at a later time and I’ll reveal all you need to know.” Casanna cooed, while balancing herself on the edge of the dagger in bare feet.
“Fine I promise I’ll listen to your proposal, now tell me who is in trouble.”
With a wave of her hand Casanna created a vision portal so that Gaitlynne could see the activity on the temple mound in the city. She could clearly see Millorny with a now thick beard strapped down to the bronze dish with Shrkai soldiers piling branches beneath him. Otis and Millaney stood their ground in the street in the face of overwhelming odds.
“Why didn’t they tell me about this?” Gaitlynne screamed, as she looked on.
“Something about not wanting you to start a war with your dragons,” Casanna answered as she looked at herself in a hand mirror.
“Please let me go so I can help him?” Gaitlynne pleaded, as she turned from the images to face Casanna.
“Remember your promise. Next time I come to visit, you’ll be more civil and listen to what I have to say. That’s all I ask is that we be friendly with each other. My plans go well beyond the petty squabbles between the Annuvians and the Shrkai.”
“Yes yes I’ll be nice to you, I promise now please let me go so I can help them.”
“As you wish,” Casanna smiled and waved her hand yet again and Gaitlynne was back on her mountain peak.
Back in Shrkai city Frolin guided his bronze messenger over to the top of the crowded temple. He hovered it in front of Patrah, until he reached out to retrieve the note in the butterfly’s grasp. Ralomar also saw the bronze butterfly and Patrah withdraw the note. Patrah read the short note which simply said. ‘we have the golem’ then nodded to the butterfly and it took off again toward the mesa. Ralomar watched the butterfly depart and saw the dragons stationed on the nearby mesa. Patrah turned and left. He walked over to Trajev who sat on a cushioned throne chair nearby.
He whispered quietly to the leader who then stood and walked forward out to the center of the step pyramid mound.
“Stop this now!” he commanded of the soldiers putting branches and logs beneath the bronze dish Millorny was tied in. The soldiers stopped what they were doing and Trajev walked forward to address the people below. “We have been deceived,” Trajev started to talk, but as the words were coming out of his mouth Ralomar looked up to one of the towers and lifted his staff straight up in the air and moved it side to side, a subtle signal to the men up in the tower. A moment later a shadowed figure with a hood over his head and wearing leather gloves lifted a crossbow and aimed it below. “The death of our great leader was…” his speech was cut short as two crossbow bolts struck him in the back.
Trajev toppled to the floor of the pyramid roof and a crowd of priests gathered around him. Ralomar was sure to be one of the first one’s there. He yanked one of the crossbow bolts out of the leader’s back and came out of the group of people standing around the fallen leader, as the assailant climbed down the tower and mounted a horse waiting for him already saddled.
“This is a bolt from a crossbow used exclusively by the Annuvians to the north. They have succeeded in slaying yet another of our beloved leaders!” Ralomar shouted out to the crowd below. “More proof of the barbaric nature of these dogs of war! Light the fire!” Ralomar said the last part of his speech to the men near Millorny’s bronze dish.
“I’d say that’s our cue.” Otis said to Millaney as he throttled the wooden staff held in his hands. “Now follow my lead. Don’t charge forward walk slow and conserve your energy. There may be a thousand of them, but you will only fight one or two at a time if we stay together and watch each other’s backs. Keep your movements simple and try not to wear yourself out. It’s going to be a long hard fight.” Millaney nodded her understanding and the two of them moved forward one step at a time moving each with the other so close and moving in such rhythm that they seemed as one body moving across the street toward the line of Shrkai soldiers poised for their attack.
“We should do what we can to help!” Sarnay pleaded.
“Alright we can fly down behind them. The towers might not shoot at us out of fear of hitting their own people.” Frolin answered and the three of them mounted the dragons.
They flew down to behind Otis and Millaney who were fighting their way through the steady flow of Shrkai soldiers. Not wanting to blow fire and burn everyone, the dragons edged forward with the riders on their backs firing bows at non-vital areas of their foes. Otis and Millaney fought their way skillfully through the relentless flow of Shrkai soldiers disabling or disarming them as they stepped their way up the pyramid mound. The fires were lit beneath the bronze dish Millorny was tied in and the dish heated fast.
Patrah knelt near the Grand Chancellor and listened to his meek voice.
“I have been so wrong for so long,” he coughed out, as he handed his staff to Patrah. “I hereby officially appoint you my successor until such time as the council can choose someone new.” Trajev rolled his head to the side.
“You heard that right?” Patrah asked of the other men with him and they nodded their heads. “Find some loyal soldiers and have my son arrested.” One of the men with him turned to leave and went over to two armed soldiers standing nearby.
A tear formed at the corner of Millaney’s eye as she heard her father scream out in pain. She dodged the blade as a soldier struck at her and bashed him hard in his face with the end of her staff, blood gushing from his broken nose, as he fell back he dropped his weapon and reached his hands up to cover his face.
“Keep your focus,” Otis shouted out behind her.
“Oh I’m focused alright!” Millaney shouted back as she dodged another attack and tripped up the soldier and stomped on his groin as she marched her way up the steps.
Thunder rumbled from behind the dark clouds that blotted out the suns, as Gaitlynne flew down from the mountains. The fires beneath the bronze dish were growing, as she flew the large male dragon down toward the temple mound. The soldiers in the towers were focused on the action in front of them and didn’t see Gaitlynne fly up behind them. Haze hovered over the temple mound and blew a thick black cloud of smoke that blotted out the temple area and all four towers.
“Sarnay use the smoke for cover! Fly up and free father!” Millaney shouted out, as she continued to fight the Shrkai soldiers who neared her. Sarnay coaxed her dragon upward and flew up toward the top of the mound through the thick smoke and landed near the bronze dish. Three soldiers went to confront her, as she dismounted, but her dragon chased them off with a show of his sharp teeth. Sarnay kicked out the logs, as Gaitlynne also landed nearby and dismounted to fight some soldiers that charged forward, only she wasn’t so polite to only wound or injure them, her aim was to kill and her blade struck each of them in the chest. Sarnay tipped the dish and climbed up onto its hot surface burning her hands as she reached up to untie Millorny. After clearing the area of soldiers, Gaitlynne came over to help slide him out and rest him on the surface of the top of the temple mound.
The sky suddenly burst open with a downpour of heavy rain clearing the smoke that lingered and drenched the entire area. The bronze dish sizzled, as the rain rapidly cooled its surface. Millorny lay with his head in Sarnay’s lap. He looked up at them both and raised a hand out to touch them. Gaitlynne grasped his hand in both of hers, and smiled at him. His arm then went limp and his eyelids fluttered. One of the tears that dripped down Sarnay’s face landed on Millorny’s cheek, as she looked down at him.
On the steps of the pyramid below Otis and Millaney continued to fight, but they were showing signs of fatigue. Millaney was a bit too slow in blocking and attack and the soldier’s blade cut into her left shoulder. The soldier paused a moment, as he saw the blood ooze out of her wound and Millaney took one of her hands off the staff and punched him in the mouth. She stood with her chest heaving with every breath and blood dripping from her wound. She leaned on her staff, as two soldiers moved in to attack her.
Otis jumped between them, as the soldiers’ attacked blocking their blows, as Millaney fell to her knees. Otis fought off several more soldiers until he too was wounded first in the arm then in the leg, but still he fought on. Finally Otis leaned on his staff out of breath from all the fighting, as a circle of soldiers formed around them. In great respect for their foe, the soldiers waited for him to catch his breath.
With blood dripping from his wounds and a sneer on his face, Otis stood and spat out blood towards the group of soldiers. He prepared to fight to the death if need be, but the attack didn’t come. The Shrkai soldiers one by one laid down their weapons. Behind Otis thousands of Shrkai soldiers without dragon clan insignias lined up behind them. Otis reached an arm out to Millaney and helped her to her feet. Together the two of them walked up the steps toward the temple mound as the soldiers they fought made a wide path for them and stood at attention with their weapons at their side.
Thunder rolled in the dark sky and heavy rains washed over them, as they limped their way up to the top of the temple mound. Millaney dropped her staff and found the strength to rush over to her father, but he just lay there on a cot that was brought over for him with four priests carrying it two at either end. Ralomar pushed people aside and came over to the scene and Millaney drew her sword. With blood still dripping from her shoulder, a rain-drenched Millaney stepped toward Ralomar.
“I told you I’d get you for this. You’re responsible for this, all of it!” Millaney raised her sword and was about to plunge it deep into Ralomar’s chest when Patrah stepped between them holding the Grand Chancellor’s staff.
“You’re right my child. He is responsible and will be punished,” Patrah spoke out loud more to the crowd than to his human great-granddaughter. Ralomar reached inside his robes to pull out a dagger, as Patrah stood with his back to him, but four soldiers stepped up and grabbed it away before he had a chance to use it. Patrah turned, as if he knew what transpired behind him and told the soldiers to. “Take him away and lock him up!” Patrah knelt down near Millorny. He bent down put an ear to his chest and listened to hear for his heart beat. “Take him below and care for him as best you can.” He told the men holding the stretcher.
As Millorny was brought back to the stairs to the rear of the temple mound with Millaney leaning on Sarnay following right behind, Patrah stepped toward the edge of the temple mound, as Otis walked down the steps with kicking one of the wounded soldiers in the ass that was trying to stand knocking him further down the temple steps.
The people bowed with the heavy rains still pouring down upon them, as Patrah raised the Grand Chancellor’s staff.
“As a former sovereign of the Shrkai clan that was banned hundreds of years ago, I can speak with some great assuredness that we have lost our way. We listened to the hatred that flowed readily out of our leaders’ mouths and bought every word. They spoke the same lies over and over again until they were accepted as truths. They gave us an enemy to blame everything upon, but in truth we were the benefactors of our own destruction. Most of the history books that spoke the truth of our exile from the mainland were forbidden. We started a war against our own brothers and sisters and deserved the punishment we received. As my first ruling as Grand Chancellor I move that the dragon clan be dispersed in its entirety until they can once again prove they are worthy to have their group restored. All references of dragon clan shall be stripped away, and all members of this group while either sitting on the council or serving in our army shall be stripped of any rank or roles of leadership. Its members shall be divided up amongst the rest of the Shrkai nation in isolated groups of no more than two or three and hopefully they can again learn what it’s like to be part of a civilized society.”
Patrah turned to walk back to the stairway entrance and went down to check on Millorny. Gaitlynne spat upon the temple mounted back on to Haze and flew off back toward the mountains. The soldiers below moved up to rip off all the dragon insignias on the soldiers on the steps of the temple and divide them up, just as Patrah had ordered.