The Gods of Dragons (Vol 1)

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic


Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice, 1989

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Ice Ice Baby

Submitted: May 12, 2018

Reads: 53

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Submitted: May 12, 2018

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Ulhar 20, 1102

Shon tried to shake the sweat from his face without taking his eyes off of his opponent, with limited success. They were both breathing hard, but neither were letting their guard down. It was the last match in a long string of matches meant to build stamina for long battles against varying combatants and stiles. Shon and his opponent, Brardin, were the last two standing, and everyone else had formed a loose circle around their ring, wiping their own sweat and cheering for one or the other good-naturedly.

Shon blocked them out, his cold eyes studying Baradin’s every move from beyond his bastard sword held at the ready in both hands. Brardin was a year older than Shon, but roughly the same size and height. He wielded his one-handed long sword with ease, though his shield was shaking visibly from the fatigue. Shon waited…

Brardin attacked, swinging towards Shon’s left in a wide arch parallel with the ground. Shon parried easily, shifting his sword only slightly to deflect the strike. "Brardin!" Master Daunas shouted from the sidelines, "Pay attention! Shon's not the first lefty you've fought today!" The older squire nodded, breathing in long slow breaths. It had been a long day of match after match with no time to breath between them. That was the point of it, to build stamina, but Shon for one had reached his limit.

He came in hard and fast. One last burst of strength for the day. Brardin brought up his shield to intercept, and Shon used that momentary blindness to turn in and around his opponent. It was a move he had done a thousand times with varying modifications depending on weapon and combatant. So no one was more surprised than he was when his leading foot slipped out from beneath him, and his trailing knee hit the ground hard.

"Shon! The hell you doin'?" Master Daunas yelled, but Shon was too busy trying to recover to hear him. Letting go of his sword, Shon brought his right elbow up under Brardin's raised arm to jab him hard in the ribs.

Brardin folded over the strike with an audible "oof" and Shon came to his feet again in a pivot, bringing his sword down to stop just before the back of Brardin's neck.

"Match…" he breathed, his chest heaving as he struggled to take in as much air as he could.

Brardin sunk to one knee trying to catch his own breath and grasping his bruised ribs, "Match." he confirmed while the onlookers clapped and hollered their approval. But one onlooker wasn't smiling.

Weapon master Daunas strode into the ring, brow furrowed, as Shon reached down to help Braradin to his feet. "What was with that funky slide? You trying out new dance moves again boy?"

"Slipped," Shon answered, turning to the master who was looking him over before looking at the rough packed earth of the ring and back.

"On what?" it was still early winter, and they hadn't had any rain in over a month. The ring had been dry when they had started the match, but now it seemed there was a small bit of dampness on the ground where he had slipped. But not enough to lose his footing on…

"I don't know," Shon said between breaths. He was honestly too tired to think much about it.

"Humph," The weapon master waved the two squires away, "go get yourselves cleaned up." and then almost as an afterthought, "You did good today." Brardin and Shon nodded their thanks silently turning to follow the rest of the trainees to the showers.

Brardin smiled sideways at Shon as they left Daunas's earshot, "Did you have to elbow me so hard?"

Shon glanced over with a shrug, "Sorry." but Braradin just laughed.

***

Back at the ring, Daunas Mung dug the toe of his boot into the small patch of wet ground, his brow furrowed in thought…

***

The next day Shon found himself perched atop a closed crate of scrap metal in the blacksmith's workshop. Nurangran Flintchest was hammering away at the glowing metal before him that would soon be a new sword, while Shon sketched some of the specific scenes he could remember from the previous days sparing into the journal spread out on his lap. Much like Shon, the smith was a man of few words, so the young squire often came to the workshop to enjoy the companionable silence.

The day was relatively warm for the season, and with the bellows going at full heat the smithy was downright smoldering. Shon had rolled up his sleeves and loosed the neck of his tunic to accommodate but was still sweating at the temples even though he sat next to the only open window.

The loud hiss of steam filled the room as Nurangran dipped his sword in the water trough before examining it and placing it back on the hot coals. Shon watched the older man pump the bellows a few times to bring it back to temperature before going back to his drawings. Soon the sharp "tink, tink" of the smith’s hammer on metal resumed, and Shon put the finishing touches on his drawing of Brardin just as he had blocked Shon's strike.

"Water." Shon looked up. Nurangran nodded at him and at the trough of water, never changing the steady rhythm of his hammering. Shon looked at the water too and seeing it was low, slid off the crate and grabbed the water bucket to top it off. That was the deal. Shon could sit in the smithy all he wanted so long as he helped out when asked. That meant pumping the bellows if Nurangran needed both hands for his project, feeding fresh wood into the furnace and gathering water for the cooling trough when it was low.

Shon was still thinking about the last fight from the day before as he filled the bucket from the well and carried it back to the smith. He had never lost his footing quite that badly before, he was sure he hadn't overextended his step. Lifting the bucket with a small grunt Shon tilted it into the trough. He had been tired… there was a chance he had overstepped and didn't realize…

"Boy?" Shon looked up from his contemplation and saw the old smith staring at him with a wrinkled brow. He had stopped hammering, and meeting Shon's eye, gestured with his bearded chin at the bucket. Shon followed the gesture and dropped the still full bucket.

It fell with a heavy "Thunk" wobbling before settling. The water was frozen solid.

***

"Well, it's both surprising and not..." Weaponmaster Daunas leaned against the general's desk; his arms crossed over his chest.

The paladin general himself sat behind the desk, his fingers steepled together in front of his face, "How so?"

"Always been cold," smith Nurangran answered, "unusually so." he stood by the door, his large arms also crossed.

Shon sat silently in the chair facing the general's desk, his hands clenched into fists on his lap, while the adults spoke above him.

"He needs to go to the mages guild…" Sir Davis Selibra said with a hint of disappointment in his voice. Shon's nails dug furrows into his palms, but he didn't look up. "The law is clear. Sorcerers must register with the guild. They can decide if he should train or seal the magic." Shon's eyes burned with unshed tears; everything was going wrong… how could this happen…

"But if they seal it, it could interfere with the divine magic when he takes his oath," Daunas said.

"If he takes the oath," Paladin Davis countered.

"He shows too much promise to just hand over to those bookworms…" Daunas argued.

"Ivelm could do it." Shon's head shot up, and they all looked to Nurangran who shrugged, "Old mage owes me a favor."

Shon tilted his head in confusion, who… but they were still talking around him.

"That old hermit?" Daunas Mung stroked his short stubble of a beard in thought while Sir Davies tapped his desk with one thoughtful finger.

"Didn't he retire? That's the whole reason he's way out here." the paladin asked.

The old smith shrugged again, "Specializes in magic items. Used to make shackles for bringin’ in wayward mages…"

"That's awfully convenient." Daunas mused

"A blessing I would say." The general got to his feet his eyes finally on Shon. "It's not unusual for a sorcerer to awaken at this age, as rare as they may be." He walked around his desk to fully face Shon who dared not blink, "If it is your desire to give up this chance at magic to finish your training with us then I will ask smith Flintchest to take you to this mage," He knelt down, so he was eye to icy blue eye with the squire, "but I would ask you to consider carefully. Once you take your oath as a paladin, you won't be able to go back and train in magic."

But Shon didn't need to think about it. He didn't want magic. He had been training in combat since he was ten, with Master Veon-Zih. If he were going to do anything outside the Order of the Sword, it would be to continue his lessons as a monk.

Shon straightened his back in the chair and met the general's gaze without blinking, "I want to finish my training."

Sir Davies Selibra nodded, Master Daunas Mung clapped him on the shoulder, and smith Nurangran uncrossed his arms and pushed away from the wall, "Might as well start getting ready now then." he said, and Shon stood.

***

She closed the old book with a sigh and stretched out, pointing her toes and wiggling her fingers high over her head. Ocean blue eyes darted up to the window high on the stone wall and the weak winter light shining through it. Maybe they would take her outside today. But then again maybe not.

Yawing she scratched at a dry spot on the scales of her upper arm. Her skin always dried out in the winter, but it was when her few scales started itching that it really bothered her. She couldn't scratch under them and so was forced to just rub the area, hoping to move the flesh around over top the muscle enough to stop the itching. It never worked. But it was better than doing nothing.

CRASH! She jumped with a surprised hiss at the ceiling. Something heavy had hit the floor a few stories above her. She could hear her caretakers running back and forth like scurrying mice on the floor above. They were shouting, but she couldn't make out the words. Getting to her feet she watched the ceiling, brow furrowed and hair standing up on the back of her neck. Something was wrong. Very wrong…

***

Shon stood straight after hobbling smith Nurangran's horse. The smith himself was just finishing strapping the feed bag to its face and patted the animal on the neck with one massive hand. Shon's own borrowed horse was already munching away contentedly in her bag, hobbled and waiting for their eventual return. Shon patted her neck in a way similar to the smith, but with considerably less force or size.

They had stopped at the base of a tall hill, and though no snow had yet to reach the fortress to the south, this far north saw a healthy ground covering of fluffy snow that crunched under their boots and occasionally flopped noisily to either side of them as it fell from the branches of the tall fir trees.

As the smith shifted in his heavy coat, Shon regretted for the first time not feeling cold in the icy winter air. Something he had always taken as a personal quirk that meant he didn't need to weigh himself down with layers in the winter turned out to be much more and may mean the end of his career as a paladin, or even a fighter. With a word from the Mages Guild, he would be swept away from Hamerfoss to train instead in the magic towers of the cities. They just needed to decide if, as a sorcerer, it was safer for the kingdom to have his magic indoctrinated or imprisoned.

The best case scenario would see his magic sealed, either with some powerful item or a tattoo. It was his hope that this hermit mage could provide him with an item so he could forgo the tattoo that could potentially hinder any divine power granted by Heironeous to his paladins, or even interfere with the flow of ki in his body that master Veon-Zih had talked to him about. It was well known that the magical tattoos, given to those magic users who broke the law or endangered the kingdom's citizens, had an adverse effect on the host's health. Nothing too extreme, but they never seemed to live as long or healthily as their un-inked counterparts.

The smith and the squire walked up the steep hill in silence until a small ramshackle little hut could be seen from between the trees. Only then did Nurangran reach out a huge hand to stop Shon. Shon was a good eight inches or so taller than the squat smith, and he looked down at him waiting for an explanation he was sure would come.

"Don't touch anything. And don't be surprised if he says no right off," Shon nodded trying to swallow down his fear so it couldn't be seen in his eyes. Nurangran dropped his hand and began moving forward again, "be honest, but not insulting."

None of the old man's instructions seemed at all unusual or unexpected. They sounded like basic etiquette to him, but Shon was grateful for them nonetheless. It gave him something to focus on as they drew closer and closer to the little shack.

As they got closer, Shon could make out the door and the little sign on it. He squinted to read it and had just made out "No Soliciting" before the door swung open, and a skinny old man in nothing but a loincloth stepped out shaking a thick stick that glinted red in the low winter light at them.

"I already paid my dues for this decade! So you can take your request and shove it…" Shon had stopped walking as the door swung open, and his hand instinctively reached up to the sword strapped to his back when the old man came out swinging. Nurangran just crossed his arms over his barrel chest and waited for the man to stop yelling.

The old, mostly naked, man stopped yelling mid-rant and lifted one frail shriveled arm to shade his eyes as he squinted at them, "Eh? Flintchest, what are you doing way out here with a blasted mage in tow?"

The old smith started to walk again, moving closer to loincloth man. He didn't much care for talking let alone shouting. Shon looked from one old man to the other and slowly lowered his arm, taking up a position just behind and to the left of Nurangran as they approached the crazy man with the glittering red club.

"No mage." Nurangran said as he came right up to the strange old man, "Squire." he glanced over his shoulder at Shon and said, "Sorcerer."

The old man spat on the ground and squinted at Shon, running his eyes from the top of his head to the tip of his boots and back, slowly exaggerating the movement before he stopped at the squires cold blue eyes. He spat again. "Well, come in then."

Shon looked sideways at Nurangran, but the smith had already begun following the skinny old man into the shack. Not wanting to be left outside Shon hurried to catch up.

Inside, Shon's eyes were assaulted with a rainbow of glittering colors as the jewels and glass bottles that covered every surface seemed to glitter with their own internal light. The room they had walked into was considerably larger than the outside would suggest, with a plush carpet and blazing fire in the opposite wall. There was too much to take in, so he decided to focus on their host. The old man was slipping into a thick robe of a deep purple velvet; he had hung the club on the wall beside the door, which looked just as decrepit on this side as it had on the outside.

"Do you make a habit of greeting visitors half naked and swinging an old fireball wand?" Nurangran asked as he slipped out of his jacket.

"Keeps the conversations short." the old man replied tying his belt and turning to his guests, hands on hips and glare firmly planted on his wrinkled face. "Don't bother getting comfortable Flintchest; you'll be leaving soon enough."

The smith ignored him, hanging his coat on the large hook that had held the man's robe. "I got a favor to ask," he said, but the old man was already shaking his head

"More like a favor to cash in. That's the only reason you're in here and not smoking in a hole outside." Nurangran ignored the threat and motioned from Shon to the old man and back.

"Shon this is arch mage Ivelm. Elm, this is Shon, one of the squires down at Hamerfoss." the mage was looking Shon up and down again, and Shon placed his left fist into his right palm and bowed low at the waist in greeting.

"Not much longer I'd say." Ivelm said to Nurangran as he finished his examination, "It's to the guild with this one. Too much magic." he turned his head and spat in a brass can by the door. It rang out with a loud 'ting!' Ivelm sniffed looking down at Nurangran again, "What do you want Flintchest."

"I need a seal. So the boy doesn't freeze Hamerfoss more than it already is." the smith recrossed his arms, watching the mage with beady eyes behind his beard.

"Eh?!" Ivelm moved closer to Shon, who had to try hard not to crinkle his nose as the old man brought his face close enough that the squire could smell his breath. Garlic, the mage ate a lot of garlic…

"So… you don't want to be a mage do you?" he asked Shon, glaring down his nose his at him. Shon shook his head and would have answered with a 'no sir.' except the mage continued, "Rather swing around some hunk of metal? Not even sharp enough to cut wood, like a bruit?"

Shon blinked, and smith Nurangran cleared his throat, "Watch what you say about my swords old man."

The mage ignored him, "You hold the powers of the universe at your fingertips. Blood blessed with the strength of the elements, and you wanna throw it all away," he threw his arms into the air, still uncomfortably close, "and for what? Some illusion of an honorable death by the sword?"

Shon didn't know what to say, he looked past the mages face, only an inch or two from his own, to the smith, but Nurangran gave no sign he was going to help with this. Shon stepped back from the mage to address him more comfortably.

"I chose to dedicate my life to perfecting my art, and my art is martial combat," he said. Ivelm wrinkled his nose, but Shon continued, "magic would be better served in the hands of someone who wants it badly enough to work for it like I have worked for my martial skills."

The old mage leaned away from Shon, his eyebrows arched into his frizzled gray hair. Shon looked to Nurangran, looking for some sign that he had said the right thing, and saw the old smith smile and wink from behind the mage.

"Soooo…" Ivelm drew the word out, "You think only those who dedicate themselves to strict study and practice should wield the power of the universe?" he had leaned forward again, turning his head and fixing one eye on Shon intently, as if trying to catch him in a lie.

Shon blinked, confused, "Isn't that what it takes to effectively wield magic? Focused study?"

Ivelm turned his face the other way to focus on Shon with the other eye, scanning him up and down again. The old man had looked him up and down so much he wouldn't be surprised if the next question were about his hair or his boots.

But he didn't ask another question. Instead, he stood straight and spat into the brass can again with another ringing 'ting!' "I like this one," he said, turning his back to Shon and facing Nurangran, "but it's too much." he shook his head, lifting his hands in helpless surrender, "Too much power."

A hole had opened in Shon's gut, and it felt like his heart was racing his stomach to fall into it. But Nurangran just rolled his eyes at the mage. "You've made shackles to hold archmages." he squinted at Ivelm, who had stopped shaking his head, "Or are you trying to say you've gotten rusty out here…"

Ivelm snapped his fingers under the smith's nose to stop him talking, "The mind does not rust Flintchest!" he huffed, his fists on his hips and one bare foot tapping under his robe, "Not like your swords and shriveling muscles." Nurangran just stared stubbornly at the mage, his thick, muscled arms still crossed over his wide chest.

The mage continued to tap his foot, his nose in the air. But as the silence stretched he looked down at the smith, who continued to say nothing, before throwing his arms up and shaking his finger under Nurangran's nose again, "I'll show you. I'll make a gem especially for this boy, and you'll see the mind only continues to grow sharper!"

He spun on his heal back to Shon who could just make out the smiths smile from behind the mage before the old man snapped his fingers under his own nose causing him to jump. "Well, what are you waiting for? Come here so I can take some measurements!" blinking Shon scrambled after the mage as the old man swung around again and marched across the room to a large workbench with plants and gems scattered across it.

***

Was that a scream? It couldn't be. She moved to the window set high on the wall and stood on her tiptoes twisting her neck to try and see out and up. Just snow, fir trees, and sky. She moved instead to the door, kneeling down to squint out the keyhole. The sound echoed again, louder. But was it because she was closer to the door or because whatever was causing the sound was moving closer?

Her heart was pounding with enough force that she could feel it without placing her hand on her chest. It felt like it was moving up and into her throat as fear started to morph into terror. What if it was her treasures? She could hear shouting now. But was it truth, or panic, that told her it was coming from her treasures' rooms? She tried to open the door. Locked. That was normal, but it had never bothered her this much before. She called to her caretakers, "Fen, Brom?" it was their turn on duty, and they always answered when she had called before.

Nothing.

"Fen! Brom!?" she was shouting now, shaking the door with all her strength.

"High Lord, please!" she could make out words but the panic she felt prevented them from making sense.

A frighted roar, cut off by another scream.

The door handle grew hot under her hand. Her treasures. Something was hurting her treasures. The metal was glowing, first orange, then yellow, then a piercing white as it started to lose shape and sink down the sides of the door. The wood around the handle began to turn black and smoke before catching fire an instant later. She pulled on the melting handle, her skin unscarred by the heat.

Molten iron splashed into the room, catching the small rug and bed sheets ablaze. She ignored it. She had to save her treasures.

Racing down the stone hall, she followed the sound of desperate pleading. It took her to the corridor where they kept her treasures… "Lord Mourndancer! All the work, all the research, what are…" rounding the corner, she slipped.

She hit the ground hard and tried to scramble to her feet only to stop completely. She hadn't just slipped; she had slipped on something. Raising her hands to her face, she couldn't fully absorb what was making her fingers slick and sticky all at the same time. The realization sank in as the overwhelming stench of iron made her gag.

The stone floor, once gray, was vibrant scarlet, the sticky fluid blending with her scales as it formed droplets and ran down her hands. Her mind felt as though it were racing while staying completely still. Her heart was beating in her ears, and she couldn't make out the words of the people around her.

One taloned paw, like a large cat but covered in fine green scales lay only a few feet away. That was the source of the crimson, of the roar she had heard. A set of long robes brushed over the paw, blocking it from view. She followed them up to their owner, Archmage Lord Fromam Mourndancer...

"Why?" it came out a breath of a whisper, but if the archmage heard her, he showed no signs. His breath was heavy, his eyes wide, the dagger in his left hand dripped, the staff in his right smoked… and her world went white.

***

Shon couldn't remember ever feeling so drained in his life. He had been tired before, sure, exhausted even, but it had never felt quite like this. The eccentric mage Ivelm had ordered him to "empty his energy" into stone after stone, measuring the weight and the color and the temperature with each one, making notes and talking to himself. The first time Shon was shocked to see the smooth rock change from a translucent white to an onyx darker even then his black hair. But by the time they had gone through the twentieth stone Shon had stopped counting.

Ivelm, however, seemed to get more and more excited with each one, giving Shon reason to suspect the mage may be taking the energy Shon gave for himself. After what felt like hours he finally stoppered the potion he had mixed with the most recent jewel, it was glowing a soft pale blue, and stepped back from the workbench, bony hands on bony hips.

"It can be done." he swiveled to face Nurangran, "He's strong, but it's all focused in one elemental direction." he rubbed his chin and looked at the ceiling, completely ignoring Shon's questioning look. "It has a bit of divine flavor as well. But I suppose that shouldn't be surprising for a training paladin." he stopped musing and glared down his nose at Nurangran, who had made himself comfortable in a large wingback chair by the fire, "But it will have to be a lot bigger than a piece of jewelry would allow."

The smith just arched an eyebrow and sipped at his mug. When had he gotten a mug? Shon looked from one older man to the other. It was obvious the mage wanted the smith to ask him for details, but the ever stoic Nurangran said nothing.

Shon was tired. His limbs felt heavy and the weight of the light armor he wore felt more like full-plate. He had just thought he would open his mouth to ask what the wizard meant to hurry them along when Ivelm threw his hands into the air and said, "You'll need to find somewhere to put it, I would recommend that." he pointed at the hilt of Shon's sword sticking up over his shoulder, "If the boy is insisting on swinging a metal stick around instead of harnessing the ultimate powers of the universe then that same stick might as well sap the power literally as well as figuratively." he was speaking as though Shon wasn't right next to him. Shon arched one black eyebrow in his direction, "I can get it down to about an inch and a half orb. At the smallest. If you want something different, you need to let me know now."

Nurangran set his mug down and stood with a grunt and a groan. He moved towards Shon, who just wanted to go home and sleep for a week, and surprised him by reaching up to grab the hilt of his bastard sword and pulling it down to eye level. Eyes wide Shon swung his arms like windmills and stepped wide to prevent himself from falling over as Nurangran jerked him down and to the left.

"Quit wigglin'" the smith grumbled studying the sword's pommel with a professional eye. "One and a half will do, preferably in a tear shape…"

The mage snorted and continued to ignore the struggling half crouched Shon, "Shall I wrap it in silk for you as well?" his voice dripped sarcasm.

"Na." Nurangran finally let go of the sword, and Shon stood straight, lifting his leg to shake out the knee. "I'll come get it when it's ready." the mage snorted again but nodded.

That done, Nurangran grabbed his heavy coat and shrugged it on, while Shon waited by the door. "It will be at least a fortnight. I'll send a message." the mage called from his position by the work desk. He wasn't about to walk them out.

The smith grunted his confirmation and opened the door to the little hut letting the wind and snow blow in before stepping out. Shon followed numbly, his eyes unfocused as he walked. And walked right into the squat older man.

Nurangran hardly moved as Shon bounced off of him. He was squinting into the distance, one large hand shading his eyes. The hill they were on was tall, and the immediate area around the mages hut was mostly clear, except for a few young fir trees, giving them a relatively unimpeded view of the treetops and surrounding forest. Shon stared at Nurangran for a moment before following the direction of his gaze past the tree line.

Smoke. A LOT of smoke. The black clouds billowed violently into the sky, occasionally lit from below by sparks shot high into the air.

"Elm!" Nurangran shouted. Shon had never heard the man call so loudly. The mage must have also been shocked because the door to his hut swung open again and he stuck his head out to look to either side, eyes wide.

"Flintchest, what?" but he soon saw what, and stepped slowly from his home into the cold winter air, "But, that's the old chemist's tower… what?" he stood in shocked confusion for a moment before turning back into the hut. Shon looked from the hut to Nurangran and back but before he could say anything the mage was back, struggling with two long rods, one blue with what looked like waves all around, the other black and studded with diamonds.

"Don't just stand there!" he snapped at the two as he finally managed to slip the blue rod into a thong at his side. He then pointed the diamond rod at the space between two trees. Shon heard him say something unintelligible and one of the diamonds shot out of the tip of the rod to hover between the trees for a moment before expanding into a portal.

Beyond the magical gate, Shon could hear the fire roar. It sounded like he imagined the burning hells might sound, but as he followed the two older men through, he realized his imagination was tame by comparison.

The smell of burning flesh and hair choked him as they stepped clear of the portals magic. The heat smashing into them like a wall as all three brought their arms up to shield their faces. Around them were the charred remains of what looked like humans, their faces buried in the mud as if they had been trying to run from the blaze. Shon had to swallow the bile that had risen in his throat and chose instead to focus on the burning tower.

It was completely engulfed in bright flames of all colors. Squinting through the light, he could see the stone walls drooping as the rock melted like wax. The arch of the doorway sagged in the middle, and Shon's eyes went wide, "Someone's in there!"

He had to shout over the roar of the flames, not that it mattered, Ivelm was already raising the blue wand, jerking his arms in strange ways and mouthing words impossible to hear. Water shot out the tip with the force of a ballista and hissed against the glowing stones.

It wasn't possible, it must be a trick of the flickering flames, but the figure turned its face to them. Long hair wiped about it as it took steps in their direction.

"Don't just stand there boy!" Ivelm shouted. "They must have a fire resist spell; those things don't last forever!"

Nurangran grabbed his upper arm pulling him a step closer to the fire and down so he could speak into his ear, "Freeze a path."

Shon swallowed, he was so tired, so drained, he didn't know what to do or how to do it. But the figure in the fire reached out to them only to pull away from a drop of molten rock. He dropped to his knees, placing his hands on the ground and pleaded silently to Heironeous. He pictured a path of snow between himself and the tower base, focused on it until the mental image overlay the real world.

Ice snaked its way from the tips of Shon's fingers towards the burning tower. His breathing became heavy and ragged. He could feel the fire melting the ice as if it were a part of him, but it continued to form into solid sheets moving closer and closer. The water from Ivelms wand helped carve a path and Shon grunted physically as he struggled to push mentally.

Wherever the ice formed solid, it stayed. The fire drawing back from it, and the struggle became slightly easier until finally, it reached the feet of the figure in the doorway. Shon was seeing double. He struggled to focus on the figure as it stepped onto the ice path that seemed to act as a shield from the flames, and moved towards them, wavering on bare, unsteady feet.

It was a woman. Or a young girl. And she was naked; her clothes burned away by the fire. Her long golden hair was being blown forward by the wind created by the burning tower. As she moved closer, Shon could make out strange red stripes around her body, standing in stark relief against her pale skin.

Ivelm stepped in front of him then, throwing Nurangrans coat around her shoulders. Nurangran himself knelt beside Shon, resting one massive hand on his back. "That's good son, you can stop…" his voice trailed off, and Shon felt an empty disappointment open in his chest. No one else could have survived that. Not if they hadn't already made it to the entrance like this girl had. As if to punctuate the thought, there was a crash, and Shon stood on shaking legs to see the entrance wall of the tower collapse in on itself.


© Copyright 2019 Shawn Cameron. All rights reserved.

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