Story — Change in the Winds Pt. 6

(Listen to an audio reading of this story on YouTube here!)

 

The dragon soared through the cavern, dodging all manner of spells and arrows as it flew. It was the same beast from this morning. But how did such a behemoth find its way inside? None of the doors to the outside world were even large enough for an adult wyvern to fight through. That meant it had to have found an opening in the crack that light shone through.

But investigations would have to be left for later. For now he had a dragon to kill. But first, he had to get its attention.

The Clan House was one of the tallest structures in the Hollow, and being in the center of the city, it was the perfect spot to lure a dragon. Of course, there was a much more important reason why this was the best place, but it required preparations.

The guards that stood outside the dome shaped building were still there. They were, of course, on alert, but they couldn’t leave whoever important may be inside unprotected.

“I need this entire building evacuated,” Jadis commanded as he approached them.

They didn’t react immediately. Instead, their brows furrowed in confusion.

There was a crash as the dragon landed upon a building and toppled it. The sound of several screams made a terrified reply.

“There’s no time. It’s for everyone’s safety. The longer we wait the more lives may be lost! Do it now!”

At that, they jumped into motion. “Uh, yes, jarl!” one replied before they rushed into the main room, whose large doors were, as always, open.

“By order of the Sellis Jarl,” the guard yelled as loud as he could. “The Clan House is to be evacuated immediately!”

Some of the people left without any further pushing. Many, however, required force. The guards grabbed their arms and pulled them in the direction of the door, and within minutes the building was clearing out.

One of the last to leave was Sathryon-Maw. He did not look happy. “Evacuating one of the safest buildings in the entire city, Jadis?” His eyes narrowed. “What game are you playing?”

“That’s the dragon the Timberhorn clan and I fought this morning,” Jadis replied. “It can use magic, especially if you use magic against it first. That’s why the Preservers are banning it.”

For once, Sathryon didn’t reply immediately. “Merciful Archons,” he muttered under his breath after a moment.

“We have to kill it without magic, and I know exactly how to do that.”

“We could hardly kill those bastards before,” he wondered. “How do you thi–“

“The phoenix flowers,” Jadis interrupted.

Sathryon took a step back. “You can’t be serious. Those are sacred.”

“Human life is more sacred. Look, I’m too withered from when we fought it before. I can’t use magic at this point anyway. It’s the only way.”

The Bear jarl thought about that. “If what you say is true,” he said. “You’ll need all the help you can get.”

“Sathryon there’s no time to argue, jus– excuse me?”

“How do you intend to lure it here all by yourself, Jadis? Are you too stupid not to have thought that far ahead?”

Another crash as a building was destroyed by the wyvern’s crushing weight. The two jarls stared at each other. “Thank you, Sathryon,” Jadis said, holding a hand out for the man.

Sathryon took it and nodded. “With something as spectacular as what you’re planning, you can’t be allowed to hold all the glory for yourself.”

The two men charged back into the empty Clan House. It was unsettling to see such a large room vacant, but that would soon change.

They didn’t slow as they ascended the steps. It was far more difficult for Jadis to climb with his muscles still fatigued, but the adrenaline helped him to forget all that. They flew up the steps onto the second floor where the jarls’ council was held the day before, but they continued on up the last flight of steps to the building’s roof.

On the roof of the Clan House was a garden. It was only rarely visited, most often by jarls on certain holidays or the people that watered it. This garden was sacred, and only contained one type of plant: the phoenix flower.

Before them stood a small field of red. The flowers flowed lazily in the light breeze.

In the days before magic, the Aluvalian mountains were inhospitable. With little access to the basic necessities of life, the land of perpetual blizzards was used as a place of exile for anyone stupid or brave enough to oppose the Autlan Empire. That was until the phoenix flower was discovered. This plant was a miracle of life that made it possible to brave the harsh weather here. It grew quickly and required little sunlight or water.

Most importantly, though, when the plant was threatened, and its insides were exposed to the open air, it burst into flames. The plant would incinerate itself, and plant its seeds in the ashes.

“Are you sure you can lure it here?” Jadis asked. Below, the dragon was terrorizing the streets, snapping at citizens and smashing its head against buildings. Virtually no magic was being thrown at it at this point, which was a feat he hardly believed Takeya and Tarres capable of. It would probably have been hard to convince people that the best tool you had to fight something terrifying would prove ineffective.

“If that thing is looking for magic, I’ll give it magic,” Sathryon said, stepping forward to the edge of the roof. “You just make sure not to kill us before we’re ready.”

Sathryon pulled out a dagger that was hidden beneath his furs. He aimed the knife at the wyvern, which was both far away and distracted.

He swung the blade three times in a flourish that ended in a stab. Three waves of fire flew towards the dragon, followed by an icicle that shot out of the knife with the same speed as the thrust.

The three fire blasts flew right by the wyvern’s head, and its head snapped towards the two jarls just in time for the shard of ice to jab it in the neck. Its roar of pain boomed across the Hollow, and it leaped into the air towards them.

“That was an incredible shot,” Jadis said, awestruck.

“My shield brother taught me that one,” Sathryon smirked. “After seeing so much fire wyverns never expect to be struck by ice.”

The dragon landed on a nearby building. The thing was huge. Jadis wondered how much magic it could use from all the attacks its suffered since breaching the Hollow. It didn’t even look scathed.

Sathryon turned back to Jadis. “I’ll lure it inside the building. Don’t ignite the flowers until I give you the signal.”

“Sathryon, that’s–“

“Take care of the Hollow for me,” he finished before lashing his knife out again, casting a pole of ice down to the ground below and using it to slide down to the first floor.

The dragon roared again and pounced onto the ground, smashing into the pole and rushing into the building behind Sathryon.

“That man is far more capable and noble than I have ever given him credit for,” Jadis mumbled to himself. His finesse with magic was unlike anything he had seen in some time. He wondered what signal he had intended.

The ground beneath shuddered. He could feel the wyvern charging into the pillars that held the building up, but it didn’t collapse. Jadis himself hadn’t thought of a way to escape. He imagined setting the garden on fire first before luring the dragon inside. Still, with no magic, there was no way for him to safely get to ground level before the building came down.

Soon, he felt a large crash, and the Clan House wavered. The field of flowers he stood amidst split from underneath him, and at the same time, something pierced the ground and shot up into the sky above: a bear claw made of ice.

Jadis pulled his sword off his back and, in the same motion, swept the blade down horizontally across the field of flowers.

They burst into life, the sudden flames eating each other and consuming. Soon the entire garden was ablaze, and the building shook. He felt it tilting to one side, and the garden of flames broke from the rest of the roof and fell into the floor below. The council floor that was filled with wood.

No time left.

Running down the listing side, he threw the sword down and leaped off the edge of the roof as the building fell. As he fell to ground level, he felt his legs give out from beneath him as they snapped. He cried in pain, collapsing to the stone below.

He felt his vision clouding as he started to lose consciousness. He watched the Clan House erupt into flames. The other jarls and people that handled city affairs wouldn’t be happy about this.

Serandis would be jealous of him for coming up with a plan like that. It at least felt good to have fought alongside a capable and selfless warrior one last time.

2 thoughts on “Story — Change in the Winds Pt. 6

  1. “Swords don’t weigh as much as common folk unfamiliar with them would guess…”

    As someone who owns a few swords, even though not particularly “real” ones, I claim the exact opposite. Swords weigh much more than people would expect. Unless you mean to say these magic swords are a great deal lighter than they look – in which case you probably need to mention that.

    “They were, of course, on alert, but they couldn’t leave whoever important may be inside unprotected.”

    This sentence is hard to read! The guards can’t leave because important people (who exist) could potentially be inside, and they aren’t protected.

    “…possible to brave the harsh weather her.”
    “…cating a pole of ice down to the ground…”

    That said, I definitely liked the twist with Sathryon. Always nice to see that just because you think someone is a jerk and thinks differently than you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t a good person who will do right.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It originally would have been the formal challenge that was sort of foreshadowed, but instead of them fighting each other (as would have been customary), it would have been to see who could actually kill the wyvern, with them (sort of) working together to do it. I couldn’t make any of that fit into the direction the story was going, and I just went with this. I think it makes more sense, even if it doesn’t tie as well with previous story bits.

      Liked by 1 person

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