dying skies

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: September 08, 2018

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Submitted: September 08, 2018

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Dying Skies

The snow capped mountains stood like pillars of the gods in the distance, putting the rest of the world into perspective, just how insignificant were all of mans creations when one simple wonder of nature could overshadow all. The night was still and the air was crisp, every rock and tree frostbitten, this was the beginning of a cold winter indeed. Herds of deer huddled together for warmth as the two wanderers passed through the valleys, their fur coats tight around their bodies. A burnt out campfire was all that remained of their last meal, what would be their last proper meal for some time. At the base of the mountain they stood, he looked up into the blanket of white as an icy embrace gripped him, he knew this feeling and he knew she would be feeling the same, for this was fear.

Her hands gripped onto his through their whale blubber lined gloves, these two individuals were seasoned hunters who had been toiling the days where the sun cracked the skin and braving the nights in which the air bit at the cracked skin like sharks. From above they heard a roar as loud as the ages pierce the sky, the ground rumbled and parted beneath their tread. Quick as lightening their skilful, nimble feet darted up the winding path that lay before them as the ground cracked and splintered in the wake of the mighty roar. Ignoring the giant rock formation in the mountain, they ran for their lives, the man dared to look back only to see the cracks stop at a giant impasse by the shadow of a gargantuan statue of a claw, at least to them it was a statue. He whispered softly in her ear as the ground ceased to shake,
'Legends say that this claw is the skin of a mighty dragon that lives atop this mountain, but that is just a myth. Take from it what you will'
She shivered at his words and her eyes fixated on the claw, as she stared her eyes squinted and she could have sworn she saw an ancient symbol that she had seen in the books of old. The symbol seemed to be burnt onto what looked like the skin of the claw but as soon as it appeared a flurry of wind swept it away into the snowy blanket and down the cavern that now lay behind them. They turned and started their long ascent of the mountain, there was no way back now, not in this life at least. This girl spoke this time, speaking in short words to save her breath,
'We've come this far, may as well see if the legends are true'.

The road was long and the wind harsh but they could not stop lest they risk a freezing death, as they pulled their hoods tighter, a dark figure flashed across the skies before them, too quick for them to see but slow enough for them to know it happened. The man paused and looked at his surroundings, taking it all in before grabbing the girls hand and pulling her roughly under a small outcrop of rock, her feet had not soon left the floor before a boulder fell upon what would have been their very location, smashing into the ground and disintegrating immediately from the force, where the boulder fell the girl saw the same symbol she had seen on the claw hours before. Again appearing and disappearing in almost the same instant, she turned to the man but he was looking up the mountain, she could not read his eyes for they were in another world to hers. She was lost in the moment, trying to remember what her parents had taught her about the old Gods and the sacred realms, she knew this is where she had seen this symbol before but what was its meaning. The man was unaware of the symbol, he was focused intently on the path up ahead, slowly he closed his eyes and listened to the wind as it swirled around, echoing up and down the path. A few silent minutes passed before he arose and muttered some words under his breath
'Algo sag pah'
The girl looked up at him with quizzical eyes and he turned to meet her gaze with a grave look in his eyes, she gulped gently as she heard the words, she, again, knew of the tongue in which he spoke, it was a language of the old,
'Agonian'
She whispered, not necessarily at him but just as it popped into her head, but, she thought Agonian was a language of a village that was wiped out aeons ago, how could he know the language. She went to say a word but before she could he hushed her by putting his hand over her mouth and knelt back to look deep into her eyes
'This was no act of nature, there are forces at work here that neither of us have seen before'
He said gravely in hushed tones, she had not heard him speak like this before, there was worry in his voice, but he was never worried not in all the time she'd known him, even as they'd grown up together nothing scared him. He offered her his hand as he got up and walked into the snowy abyss, she followed suit holding onto his side as they walked together.

As they progressed up the mountain a loose gravel path started to take shape at their feet, the girl looked down and thought that it was just a natural path, her mind making excuses for what she knew to be truth, this was made by hand. The man looked un-phased as he stepped between the loose rocks and stones, he stopped and sniffed the air, lifting his finger to the wind, holding out his hand he pulled her close to him
'Jalis, we're close to our destination, very close'
Jalis looked puzzled
'Where is our destination, we're nowhere near the top of the mountain, there's still....'
Her words faded away as the clouds parted onto a plateau as big as the city in which they hailed from. She was dumbfounded, how could a clearing this big be found on a mountain. The air was warmer up here and there was no wind at all, the man was right, there was a new unknown force up here.
'Crakir, this place... It's enchanting'
Crakir said nothing again and just kept walking a way across the barren clearing to a patch of land where a small ornate golden wand rose out of the earth, surrounding the wand were flowers of lands forgotten long ago. Crakir again stood in silence, kneeling down to touch the wand, a spark of bright light shot through his hand and he fell back onto the soft land. A pulse of lightening shot into the sky and revealed a huge dome surrounding the whole plateau.
Crakir looked around in a daze and knew that he was where he wanted to be, for the first time in his life he felt at home.

There was much to explore this high up the mountain, Crakir and Jalis were lazily meandering around the vast forest that circled the plateau. Dusk was rapidly approaching and they had to find some form of shelter or at least somewhere to sleep, they did not know what lurked in the woods, so somewhere high would be preferable. Jalis was sure nothing could survive this high up the mountain but her thought process was cut short when she heard a low soft growl up ahead. Of course Crakir was on it like a shot, he crouched down low and hid behind a tree, Jalis stood there like a rabbit in headlights, rooted to the spot, the growl was unlike anything she had ever heard before, it was still echoing round her head waking things in the dark recesses. To her it seemed like more of a voice than a growl, she was lulled into a trance by its now soothing tones, as the noise could be heard this time closer, a pair of slime green eyes appeared though the murky darkness, hunting her down. Crakir closed his eyes and reached down to his sheath by his side, gripping onto the handle of his blade, curling his fingers round the ivory engravings. The creatures eyes were hypnotising Jalis, even a hardened hunter such as herself could not resist falling into those big piercing eyes. She swayed on the spot and just before she fell to the floor the creature lunged at her from distance, it jumped through the air like a dolphin, arcing it's trajectory so that it's sparkling iron jaws would clamp down on her throat.

Before she had time to flinch there was a loud slicing sound and a warm liquid smattered onto her face but she felt no pain. Opening her eyes to a field of blue, she panicked and shook her head, the blue putrid blood dripped out of her eyes and she saw Crakir standing over the beast, its throat slit and blood seeping out. Crakir stood tall, breathing heavily with a dire look across his face, he craned his neck to look over the creature, it clearly used to be a wolf of some sort but had been altered by some powerful spell and as it took its last breath the green it its eyes faded back to blue, the spell faded off in death. He signalled to Jalis to climb the nearest tree and start gathering wood to make a bed out of, she did so without saying a word, her elven feet making light work of the branches and footholds. Crakir performed his usual ritual upon slaying an animal, kneeling down by its side he took out his dagger and prized one of its teeth loose as he did so the tooth once made of iron turned back into enamel. Stowing the tooth away in his pocket he reached his hand towards the head of the wolf, closing its eyes and whispering in a soft voice,
'May the spirits guide you to your resting place'
He did this as he always felt that every animal deserves to find their way home, living or dead.

 

 

He gathered what meat he could from the wolf and stuffed his fur backpack with it, packing it in as deep as he could manage so that more could be stored if needs be. A glint on the wolf caught his eye and he looked towards it, a tiny mark shimmered and faded, he knew the mark too well,
'Estonius'
he murmured to himself, this was the mark of a necromancer a particularly brutal one too if his memory served him correctly. They had seen clues of his deeds as they travelled the lands, Jalis knew nothing of Estonius and Crakir knew better than to have her worry any more than needed. His memories were cut short by the return of his companion, bringing down some firewood and sturdy big branches that could be fashioned together to make a makeshift bed. Setting down her sack she fished out some finely woven spiders silk and started to tie the branches together, the silk was thin but she knew it would hold a weight far heavier than the two of them combined. Crakir got to work on making a decoy campfire to set the trail off of them if anyone was to find them. He walked a way into the woods, making sure he could still see Jalis but moving erratically enough so that his footprints could not be tracked, he set down the wolf carcass and put some foot meat on the fire to give the illusion that someone had already moved on.

As he walked back to Jalis he felt many eyes watching him, he did not think this unusual as this would happen in any wood this close to night, he did not feel fear like others, he only knew one certain fear and that was losing Jalis to something out of his control, he had trained with her all his life, she had lost a few years training on him as her mother passed away and she was forced to look after her brother. Crakir trained hard, through rain, snow and sleet, his father worked him hard and long into many a night without rest. When his father was slain in battle against a certain necromancers evil horde, Crakir vowed to avenge his death, this was the reason for their trip to this mountain though he could never Jalis the truth. He had told her that up this mountain was the secret to existence and a magic that could never be tamed. By the time he returned Jalis had made two beds and carried them into the trees above, fastening them in place and was working on making a light shelter so that their own campfire would not be seen by unwelcome eyes. With the leftover wood she had erected a few small barriers, studded with the wolfs teeth for a little extra protection, they both ate in silence for a while before Jalis asked,
'That... creature was not of this world, was it?'
Biting into his wolf leg Crakir took a deep breath and chose his words carefully,
'I wish I could say it was not but alas it was just a wolf tainted with a powerful ancient curse, this was a mere warning, more will be coming, we cannot stay long here'
With that he doused the fire and climbed up to his bed, Jalis made the camp look as if it was deserted and followed him after some time, crawling under her fur cover she noticed his hand out of the cover and held on it, closing her eyes.

As Crakir had said, he awoke just a few short hours later, gently waking Jalis by stroking her cheek just a little too hard to sleep through, he didn't like to wake her too roughly as he knew she got very cranky if she was awoken abruptly. The dawn air was warm on their skin and while Crakir was waiting for Jalis to get ready for another long day he reached into his pocket and pulled out the wolfs tooth, drilling a small hole through it with his trusty flint needle, he then fed though some a small piece of string from which hung the teeth of countless animals that he had slain. His father had given him these amulet on his death bed, there were even some human teeth from several skeletons that he had vanquished in his time as a watchman. Putting the amulet back into his pocket he turned back to Jalis who was waiting patiently, she knew what he was doing and didn't want to interrupt him, she knew that the amulet was all he had left to remember his father. As they climbed down the tree they could see the smouldering remains of the now burnt to crisp wolf, the smoke rose high out of the forest. They travelled further on until they came across another clearing with another ornate wand in the centre, this one appeared to be made from what looked like quartz. The beacon of light shot into the sky as the one they'd first seen did and met with the dome, changing the hue to a light purple, there were no clouds in the sky and the colour change affected the entire forest, lighting out a faded path for them. The path led off to the right, out the edge of the forest and gingerly they followed it until they reached the edge of the plateau and a sheer drop down the mountain.

From the drop they could see the land they had traversed in the days behind them all tinted purple from the dome, Crakir wanted to reach out but daren't. Jalis had no such worry as her hand snaked it's way to the edge and just stopped, she could not put her hand through the dome but as she looked at it more closely she could see runes pulsing through its shell, they were the runes of strength and peace. She looked up and saw an eagle flying around above the forest but outside the dome it lined itself up and darted into the forest but as soon as it crossed past the barrier it burst into flames until all that was left was ash that scattered down to the ground. Crakir pulled her away from the edge and pointed across the valleys far below to a shimmering light over the horizon, this was the beacon of Alaza, built thousands of years ago inside the walls of their home city, it had strange ethereal powers which meant that only people who had seen its source could see it outside the city. This beacon acted as waypoint for city folk who had wandered too far and got lost in the night for it was visible from every corner of their kingdom, it never stopped shining. Jalis reached out her hand to Crakirs and held onto it tight as she asked,
'Will we be able to see our beacon atop this mountain?'
Crakir pondered and looked way up to the top until he was greeted with the blanket of howling snow, cautiously replying,
'I hope so...'

Although the world they knew was far, far away they knew that in this small patch of land, they were safe, safe from what lurked outside this bubble and inside the forest for there was only one path to the clearing and by the light of day it was clearly barren. They stood for a moment, swaying to the calm rhythm of the gentle breeze that was sweeping over the edge but before long they knew they had to press on, Crakir looked around to see if there was a way around the forest and saw a tiny path that led on just out of his vision, slowly he started for the path but stopped when he heard a voice that was not Jalis.
'Your fate is not yours to seal'
The words echoed around his head like a screech in a cave but he shook them off and continued off to scout out the path, Jalis, close behind noticed a change in his mood and was about to enquire but thought it best not to interrupt his thoughts. They stood in each other's footsteps so that if anyone were to follow them , they'd only appear to be one person, the element of surprise was their kindest friend and especially in unknown lands where they truly knew nothing but their skills.

As they walked down the path they heard the faint jingle of chimes off in the distance, guardedly they trudged further down the beaten path round the forest and saw that it swung back into the forest once more, not wanting to risk getting lost they decided to keep following the path and came across something neither of them ever thought they'd see. The trees parted to reveal a dragon, the size of a house spread out on the floor its eyes closed. Neither knew what to do, they just stood there in awe and amazement, Crakir approached slowly keeping his hands by his sides and his eyes fixated on the mythical beast that lay before him. Jalis followed after she'd regained her breath and, like Crakir, kept her hands by her side, it was alive but only just, heavy laboured breaths came out from its nose as its eyes opened. Crakir and Jalis froze staring straight into its beautiful golden eye, the sun reflected off its lens with a majestic gleam, the dragon seemed to smile just to show off its rows and rows of enormous teeth the size of Crakirs arm. It lifted its head ever so slightly and looked upon Crakir with intrigue, raising its tail so they could see a small bell on the end. Jalis gasped and immediately was silenced by Crakir as he gave her a stern look and turned back to face the beast, falling to one knee and bowing his head in respect, whispering,
'I urge you to do the same, if he wanted us dead we would be so'
Doing as she was told Jalis copied his movements and bowed down.

The dragon bowed its head in response and shifted its weight to expose a mark under its belly, the mark Jalis had seen when they had started climbing the mountain and this time she knew exactly what it meant it all came flooding back to her, all the stories and legends.
'The mark of death, I...I've seen this before Crakir as we were coming up the mountain'
Jalis said though muted breaths, Crakir looked over at her,
'And you didn't think to mention it?'
He said almost with anger in his voice, Jalis felt a little hurt from his comment almost like he was treating her like a child but she shrugged it off and replied
'You were always so busy with the task at hand, I never had time'
Crakir turned away and walked back to the dragons mouth, reaching out his hand to touch the scales of its nose
'What I would give to see what you have seen'
He whispered as he looked into the dragons eye once more. Just as he was turning away the same voice from before boomed though his mind
'I have seen the face of death wanderer, you have no thoughts or dreams to see what I have seen. My spirit has not much left in this world and doubtless you will be the last to hear my voice'
Its eyes lit up red and a spark ignited from its mouth charring the floor to the side of Crakir
'Stand in my flame if you truly wish to know, I do not have time to explain to both of you so you shall have to tell the other... only if you wish to do so'
Warily Crakir eyed the dragon one last time before stepping into the flame. Jalis watched him do so but could not reach him in time and when she tried to pull him out the dragon merely swatted her away.

Hours passed while Jalis waited for Crakir to come out of the dragons flame and the dragon rested its weary eyes and tired mind, its skin glistening under the late afternoon sun. The fire faded down around Crakir and he stepped out of his trance like state as Jalis jumped at him and held him tight
'You're okay.... I thought you were lost to me forever'
She exclaimed, the dragon watched this with amusement and smiled once more, licking his eyes with a huge tongue of golden colour. Crakir looked up the dragon once more and said
'I will do right by you, your cause will not be lost'
And with that he set off back into the forest with Jalis following behind in a confused state of mind,
'Do you mind telling me what in Argo that was?'
He stopped in his tracks and whispered
'We are to make this world safe. Now hurry, I will tell you all when we have time'.

Behind them the dragon let out a roar with all of his ancient strength, Jalis jumped into Crakir as the sound seemed to rip though time itself, tearing down the dome that protected the plateau. As the protection splintered from the top and peeled away from the skyline Jalis could feel a surge of the dark beyond overtake her as thousands of years of evil that had been held at bay was suddenly released into the plateau. She looked on down the road ahead and saw that Crakir had not even broken his pace carrying on ever onwards with a look of determination she had never seen in anyone. She ran forward to catch up with him and try to pry more information out of him, he just looked at her and whispered ‘All in good time’.

A beam of light shot down from the sky, piercing though the dragon and turning him a deep shade of purple, runes and masteries appearing all over his scales as he slowly started to shape shift his body shrinking until all that was left was a humanoid form, surrounded in a misty veil of impenetrable dark forces. Slowly the mist started to fade as a hooded figure stepped out onto the plateau, the grass beneath its feet dying and turned to ash with each step. Silently he watched the hunters walk off into the forest he raised his hands over the bell that had fallen from the dragons’ tail and whispered in a dialect unknown to all. ‘Kal Rah Neth Tu’

The ground shimmered as a rune appeared on the surface, multiplying over and over forming a tight circle before the inner workings of the circle cracked and started to shake wildly. A blast of blue flame emerged from the hole and blanketed the ground, steam rolling pas the legs of the robed figure, snapping at its legs. A wail was heard only to the robed figure, then he disappeared.

Unaware of the events behind them Crakir and Jalis pressed ever forward, occasionally as they passed through the forest they would see a blue mist swarm around the roots of the trees, the mist could not be seen through and if they had looked closer they would see the forest slowly dying in its wake. However Crakir had been given a task by the dragon and he would not stop for anything until it was complete. Jalis knew nothing of what Crakir was doing or what this quest was, all she knew is that she would follow him to the ends of the earth if she had to, she'd give up her life for him if it came to it, she also knew that if it came to that Crakir would stand and face any foe that faced him no matter the size. Jalis felt safer with Crakir than when she was surrounded by the guards of the city, the barrier that kept the city safe was no match for Crakir, a barrier may be unbreakable but there is one thing it cannot be, compassionate.

They reached the edge of the forest and were about to cross through into the uncharted lands when they heard a blood curdling wail from deep in the forest, Jalis turned round and peered into the gloom not even knowing what to expect, her hand fingering the feathers on her arrows, ready to pull and shoot one though anyone at a moment's notice. Crakir however stood facing forward out into the beyond, slowly he closed his eyes as he reached towards his sword, he knew this journey would not have been as easy as it had been so far, the wolf was nothing compared to what was coming. His mind was calm and clear, masteries his father had taught him were starting to flood into his mind as he saw pictured what he knew was coming for them, Estonius was close. The necromancer would not face them outright for he knew he'd lose, he'd toy with them, break their sprits and their minds would follow.

The blue mist rolled out of the forest and swirled high into the air, creating a shield of fog but as quickly as it formed it stopped, covering the forest as a figure emerged. It was a bear but with the same sludge green eyes as the wolf they had encountered days ago they pierced through the mist like a bullet, staring at the pair of hunters with hatred. One by one more and more animals emerged from the mist all in the same evil trance before finally out of the mist emerged a man, he spoke through the putrid remains of his jaw
'All hunters have a limit, my son'
Crakir steeled himself as the figure slid back his hood to reveal a face he knew only too well, except it was broken and melting, the once sturdy skin had moulded away and the eyes were no longer a piercing red. His father had been raised from the dead to face him.

Jalis steadied her bow and aimed for the head but before she could release Crakir stopped her and took a deep breath
'You get to safety, this is not your battle'
Jalis looked up into his hardened eyes as a tear trickled down her cheek, there was a pain in Crakir that she never wanted to see, the pain of defeat was all but upon him.

Crakir leant down a gently kissed her lips, letting every emotions he had left in his body out into her, she felt overwhelmed with the passion of the kiss that she nearly crumbled to the floor but again he was there to hold her steady as he eyes closed and she kissed him back. She took his hand and pressed it to her side willing him to pour his emotions onto her, before she could get her senses back he pulled away and looked deeper into the eyes than ever before, it was like he could see right into her soul, right into the very core of her being and whispered'
'You were always the one for me and if I return I will make sure you know everything, all the emotions I've held inside me, all the pain and anguish I've felt, everything. I fight this battle not for me, not for our adventure, not for our Kingdom but for something more precious than everything in the universe combined... you'
Jalis was stunned, her mind racing with something to say 'think Jalis, at least say something, anything' her mind was struggled and Crakir could see this so he simply nodded and reached into his pocket, pulling out his prized necklace and as he wrapped it round her neck he turned and faced his father.

Slowly the man walked out of the fog, never taking his eyes off of his son he continued to talk, growing louder with every word.
'You see, we all have a price in death, just as we do in life. All men have a limit and a dream. You think that we just go away and fade into nothing when we die? No, my son'
He raised his voice to a bellow holding his great battle axe aloft and proclaimed
'I AM REBORN'
With this final word he charged towards Crakir, the animals of the forest pounding their paws and hooves on the ground until most of them cracked and fell off but still they kept pounding

Jalis wanted with all her might to stand by his side but if she were to be defeated in a battle that Crakir was a part of, he would never be able to live with himself so she turned away and set off up the dark passage before her, alone. Crakir watched his father with running towards him with disgust
'What have you become father, you were my hero all my life and now you dare to have the cowardice to fight against the only person who stood there with you on that fateful day, you don't deserve your new life'

With these words his traced his finger lightly up the edge of his blade and as his blood ran down the steel it lit up with symbols, they were dancing around the blade coating it with fire and ice, a split appeared down the middle as the sword cracked open and a pile of ash formed on the floor from the pile Crakir pulled forth a second sword. The blade was still forming from the hilt as he pulled it from the ground, the shallow serrated edges had never seen the light of day before, never had they existed in this dimension before. Jalis was still watching from afar, she watched with awe as Crakir wielded both blades down by his sides, one dripping fire and the other freezing the ground below it
'The twin blades of Kaleg'nar'
She was stunned to see these two blades in the flesh, they were magical blades that were only wielded by the purest of heart and the strongest of soul. The two men were less than 100 yards apart and Jalis knew she could watch no longer so she turned away and started the ascent once more.

Crakir steadied his grip on the swords and held them in a cross in front of his face, the fire and ice of the blades would swerve and hit the floor instead of him, these blades could never harm their creator, even if wielded by another the blades would simply disintegrate before any blood was spilled. Crakir positioned his body and braced for impact his eyes glaring down into his father's
'You remember these blades don't you father, you told me the tales'.
His father did not even break stride as he howled and slammed into his son, the mist encased the two of them as they were transported to a land far, far away beyond the comprehension of mere mortals, his father had been to this place before but Crakir knew nothing of it.

As the mist parted they were back in a field of battle but not in the realm of the living, Crakir saw his mother and father happily standing in the field behind the house he grew up in, his brother was playing with the family dog, they were happy as a family but Crakir could not be seen in this vision of the past, he was not present in mind or body. For the first time in his life Crakir felt alone, as though all he held dear was being ripped from him as his family played and laughed without him as though he had never existed. His mother and brother had fallen critically ill when he was growing up, they had been tainted by a force no doctor could explain and before he was old enough to understand, they were gone, just his father remained to bring him up to be the man he was today. As Crakir questioned his very existence the imagine of his family shifted and changed into a view of the inside of their house, bear and stags heads lined the wall, the conquest of his father of course, the fire roaring at the back of the room was the only warmth he felt from the scene however. He watched his mother as she slept cradling his brother as the same blue fog descended over them and out of the gloomy shadows Estonius emerged wielding a deathly dagger forged of blood and steel, it was dripping with a black tar. Crakir watched in horror as the necromancer gently pricked both his brother and mother before disappearing back into the mist. The mark the dagger left had already started spreading throughout their bodies and once again, he watched the days flow by as they slowly passed away into the abyss.

The vision faded once again and his father stood in front of him, his father as he remembered him, a face full of love and adoration for his son he was not tainted like the rest of his family and Crakir had always wondered why, his thoughts were revealed to him as they went through his mind. For behind his father stood Estonius, Crakir lunged at him but was stopped by his father
'No, son, he is our protector, he did what was right for the good of the realm'
It was then that the truth dawned on Crakir, his father had been nothing but a pawn his whole life, he never loved his wife or his son, he never loved Crakir, everything he held dear in his life had been stripped away in front of his very eyes and just as he thought he'd lost all hope and felt the clutch of death wrap around him as Estonius stepped ever closer, his hands held out towards him, performing a dark incantation Crakir heard a voice a soft smooth voice
'Crakir. Come back to me Crakir, please, please don't leave me'

Jalis had seen the men come together and watched as the two of them were entwined in fog but to her neither of them disappeared, all she saw was the man, that wretched man, the man Crakir called father only because he was as loyal to him in life and death, reach down and pierce Crakir's skin with a blade, a deathly dagger. It penetrated his skin and disappeared, etching out black magic through his veins, the man looked towards Jalis and smiled a haunting smile before vanishing before her very eyes.

Jalis ran over to Crakir as his body heaved with torment, the magic working its way through him and killing off everything inside him, she could see his eyes fighting off whatever was happening but whatever he was going through, he was losing and she knew she'd lose him forever if it continued. She reached around her neck and placed the necklace around his neck, the teeth that hung on it awoke and shining with the brightness of 1000 suns, Jalis fell backwards and shielded her eyes from the dazzling array and as the light faded Crakir's colour was returning his life was flowing back through his veins. As quickly as his colour returned it started to fade again, Jalis starting crying and pleading with the gods to bring him back from wherever he was, she called upon all her might and picked him up, carrying him to a safe spot outside the plateau, settling him down and nursing the wound with water and dock leaves. She knew she was fighting a losing battle and with her last breath, though tears were streaming down her face and her lips had turned to mush she whispered
'Crakir. Come back to me Crakir, please, please don't leave me'.

Jalis watched as Crakir's mouth opened slowly and muttered a single phrase
'Not even death could take me from you'
Jalis wrapped her arms around him as he gradually came back to the world of the living, she held him tighter than ever before, weeping tears of joy into his shoulder. Crakir was still groggy but he mustered up the strength to sit up and gaze up the mountain to its peak where a dark vortex was forming
'We have to go, Jalis'
But before he could stand up she pushed him back down and glared at him.
'For once, my dear, I'm in charge of you, I won't ask what happened back there but I will not let you go up there until your strength is back, and this time you're certainly not facing whatever that was alone'.
Crakir sighed and fell back onto the grass, his mind blank as he closed his eyes and fell into a welcomed sleep.

When he awoke Jalis was sitting beside him, dabbing his cheek with a damp leaf and stroking his weary arms with her delicate hands
'You, you haven't slept yet, have you?'
He managed to muster up some strength to say as he slowly regained cognitive thought, Jalis didn't answer she was too busy looking up at the mountain, the vortex was growing bigger by the hour and soon it would be upon them, she had to take control and guide Crakir to safety so she took his hand and lifted him up again. This time Crakir could stand on his own, he was refreshed and ready for another day, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath sucking in the crisp mountain air to invigorate his lungs.

The day was just dawning as they began their ascent of the mountain, the unrelenting storm brewing ahead of them was no match for the will of these two hunters, they were no longer just people, they were now one, infused by the teeth on the sacred necklace. They did however need to find a place to shelter as the rain started to fall, deadly acid rain, they did so in a crevice upon the mountainside, making a small campfire from the last of their wood and makeshift beds from the remaining wolf pelt. As Crakir settled into his bed Jalis walked over and sat down next to him, not saying anything she took his hand and placed it upon her thigh, dragging it slowly upwards before taking her hand and slowly rubbing his crotch. She leant down and kissed him as she took down his sheepskin pants and lifted up her skirt gently starting to grind against his hand, moaning out his name softly. Crakir took her leg and placed it around him, sitting her down onto him and pushed deep inside her groaning hard as he felt her warmth surround him. Jalis took his hand in hers and starting moving up and down on top of him, gradually getting faster and harder until she was bouncing up and down on him, Crakir pulled her down and kissed her passionately before arching his back and releasing deep inside her, she screamed out in silence as it filled her up and then she collapsed on his chest and whispered,
'I love you'
When Crakir had regained his breath he whispered back
'I love you too'
The two of them fell asleep in each others arms, the raging storm a mere blip on the storm of love that raged in their hearts, together they could overcome anything.

At dawn the vortex seemed to subside as nature tried to reclaim its mountain, pushing it back with a hurricane of its own the wind whipping itself into a frenzy as it tore at the mountains peak, Jalis and Crakir were near the summit as a darkness blackened the sky and then swooped down in front of them, Crakir bowed his head in an instant and Jalis followed suit, the dragon from the clearing had returned in its full glory, the proud golden dragon stretched out its wings and roared a deafening scream, the path before them was cleared by the force and the two hunters could see the same shadowy figure perched atop a pillar of skulls, working his magic to control the skeletal horde that lay in wait for them.

The great, noble dragon tore into Crakirs mind once more
'You have come to reclaim your destiny, but I have seen your future, stand strong today and your son will follow you as you did your father'
Crakir shook his head in disgust and looked up to the robed figure
'What of my wretched father? That, that.. thing up there, I followed him and all along he was just betraying me'
The dragon bowed its head to Crakir as Jalis watched on in amazement, its paw reached out and laid an amulet upon Crakirs neck, a blade was hung upon the amulet, a heavenly dagger.
'Reclaim your destiny, friend'
With that the dragon flapped his giant wings once more, sending shockwaves around the two of them, the dagger forming a ghostly shield to protect them, the skeletal horde however was not so fortunate, the shockwave ripped through the ground and it parted beneath their tread, hundreds of them falling through into the mountains core.

The path was clear for Crakir and Jalis and they raised their heads high as the bubble popped and turned to petals around them, gradually they fell to the floor and started to form a bow. Jalis looked down upon the bow and reluctantly picked it up, it was unlike anything she had ever seen before and it weighed next to nothing, she could have carried 10 of them with ease, she studied the bow as she walked and tried to load an arrow into it but it just would not work, the arrow just shattered and fell to the floor. She looked up to the sky and pulled back on the string as she did so an arrow of pure light grew with the string, she jumped and dropped the bow the arrow disappearing once again as soon as it left her hands. Gingerly she picked it back up once again and once again pulled on the string, extending it to its limit and released, the white arrow shot through the sky and landing on one of the few remaining skeletons, a second passed before the arrow melted and took the skeleton with it. Crakir looked on and nodded his head
'You take the skeletons, I have unfinished business'.

Jalis fired more and more arrows into the sky raining them down on the few skeletons, more were forming as she was firing and soon enough there as many as before, the bow reacted and morphed to be bigger and wider, pulling back 4 arrows at a time, they would reach the peak of their trajectory and lock onto a target, aerially assaulting them until the few that remained were rooted to the spot. Jalis had them just where she wanted them and aimed her bow careful, picking off each one with deadly precision.

Crakir had set off up the path when a volley of arrows had hailed down on him all turning to powder as they touched him, he barely noticed anything anymore his goal was clear, the necromancer took down his hood and stepped down from his throne of skulls, walking towards Crakir silently on a carpet of fog, his dagger by his side the darkness dripping from it. Undeterred the two of them met, standing face to face their daggers facing off, Life and Death were once again going to wage a battle. Crakir was no longer he was now battling for life and Estonius for death. Death dealt the first blow, the blade arching high through the air and sweeping down through the newly formed bubble, rotting and decaying it as it pierced through its defences, they crumbled to the floor, no petals were formed this time. Life was calm and had his eyes closed, taking the dagger from around his neck and getting a feel for the hilt, he grabbed death by his robe and pulled him towards the blade, it struck true and white blood seeped out of the exit wound.

Estonius fell to the floor, clutching at his wound as the death faded away from him, his being was evaporating and Crakir let out a soft sigh of relief but kept his glare firmly on the necromancer as he spoke his final words
'Life may be long but death...death is eternal'
Before Crakir could respond the deathly blade shot out from Estonius's hand and pierced through his wound, tearing his skin apart and wreaking havoc immediately, Crakir fell to the floor once again and squirmed in agony reaching for the heavenly blade but as he went to grab it, it flew high above him along with the deathly dagger ripping out of him, they formed in the air and fell to the floor getting stuck atop the mountain their own forces cancelling each other out but unrelenting to anyone who dared touch it.

The two figure lay beside each other, their blood dripping down to form a pool at the base of the sword, their life and death seeping from them as every second passed, Estonius was the first to speak, except it was no longer his voice, it was the voice of his father
'My son, I failed you in life and now..'
Blood spluttered from his lips as he forced his final words out
'My body was taken over, son, my mind was corrupted, please look into my eyes and see your true father for the first time'
Crakir painfully rolled his head towards his father and looked into his eyes, they were the same brown as his, everything fading from them now as they closed for the final time and he slumped out on the floor. Crakir rolled onto his back and watched as the clouds parted to reveal a new day, free from tyranny, free from evil and slowly, he closed his eyes, he had fulfilled his destiny.

 

 

 

 

 

Epilogue:

The golden fields behind the little cottage off to the south of the city stretched as far as the eye could see, in the centre stood a boy, fair of skin and young of age. He was just standing there, tracing a symbol into the grass with his makeshift sword made of a bit of rock and wood, he'd do the same ritual everyday but still nothing would happen. The boy turned at looked up at the beacon rising out of the city before walking reluctantly back to the cottage where his mother was waiting at the doorway. Behind him he heard a small growl causing him to spin round and gaze upon a tiny dragon with ruby red scales and eyes as blue as the ocean, the dragon looked up at the boy and let of a plume of red mist, tumbling it round the symbol covering both it and the dragon. The woman was calling the boys name but he wasn't listening he was transfixed and as the mist cleared a necklace was left on the ground, hanging from it was a single dragons tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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