Tylara crashed through the undergrowth her breath coming in hard rasps that seemed to burn her throat. All she had to do was make it to the clearing and her dragon-mount. She felt a hand slide over the material of her cape, it seemed to give her a reason to move faster she shot of on her second wind. She could see the clearing just ahead.
Stumbling out of the forest and into the clearing she launched herslef onto the back of her dragon-mount. the beast took to the sky just as her follower emerged from the forest he ran to his mount and took to the sky after her.
Tylara's dragon-mount landed soundly in the courtyard of the monastery. As Cyan landed beside her she walked over to him. "Maybe next time Cyan." She laughed.
"I almost had you in that last stretch of the forest."
"Yeah almost." She turned and scratched her dragon-mount laughing as his tongue lolled and her flopped down on his side.
The night's silence was broken by the temple bells. Tylara raced through the halls to the main alter. Finding a place beside Cyan she stopped to catch her breath. "What's going on?" She asked.
"I don't know." He replied quietly as the high elders arrived. Elder Summa stepped forward.
"My friends it has come to our attention that the lords of Olban are in search of the Ark-dela; they must not be allowed to get it. Do i have any volunteers to go and seek the Ark-dela and hopefully retrieve it before the Olban do?" Tylara and cylan stepped forward in one movement...
June 2nd, 2002, 12:35 PM
The elders looked around, their eyes passing over the two volunteers in unison. They looked through the crowd, and noted the only other person to stand forward.
He was short, and chubby, looking as bewildered as the elders that he stepped forward.
“Uh… “ Was all that came out of the little man’s mouth.
“Well, This mission does have to be surreptitious. I guess a small team may do better then an army in this case. You three, meet me in the Hall of the bones in ten minutes.” With that, the four members of the council turned, and swept away with as much dignity as was possible.
Tylara and Cyan looked at the short man, bewildered. Tino was never one for bravery. What came over him now. They walked towards the short man, and sparked up a conversation.
“Tino, there is a big man hiding behind that appearance. Just stepping forward was an achievement. Are you sure you want to do this?” Asked Cyan
“Boy, all my life I have hidden behind Women’s skirts for support, and men’s blades for protection. I have seen my past, and when I look at it…” He trailed off, his voice growing weaker with each word.
“You shall be a welcome companion” Said Tylara, trying to comfort the short man.
“We should make our way to the Boneyard.” Cyan prompted.
“Let’s” Confirmed Tylara, and she patted Tino on the shoulder: “Come on, let’s see what’s going to happen”
The bell’s faded in the background, as the three stepped through the giant doors. Massive bones of ancient creatures supported the domes above, and the smell of knowledge wafted towards them, from the tomes ahead.
The Council stood in the middle of the room, muttering quietly between them. They did not seem to notice the arrivals. Tylara cleared her throat, and the elders looked up startled. Master Erdar gave an accusing look to the youngsters, and started his speech…
June 5th, 2002, 12:45 AM
"The three have answered the call I see." The yellow cloaked elder intoned in a melodious voice that would have been soothing under different circumstances.
The elder was by far the largest man in the room. nearly seven feet in height. The width of his shoulders caused the fabric of his cloak to bugle nearly to bursting. A granite jaw was barely visable beneath the elders cowl. As he spoke again his obscenely voluptuous lips articulated, "The Olban, as I speak, are closing in on the Ark-dela." The Elder paused to let this have its intended impact.
Tylara and Cyan exchanged expressions of profound worry.
Tino looked bewildered even though some part of him was steeling himself for this extraordinary quest.
The Elder apparently pleased with their reaction continured, "With the Ark-dela in the hands of the Olban it will insure the destruction of the realm and our way of life. I cannot allow that. In the event you fail I must stay here as I will be the last line of defense for the realm." The Elder once again paused dramatically then went on, "I will not hide what I know. The Shades of Cylk I have consorted with this eve. They prophecised of the three that rush to face the Olban, one will have to die so that two may return with the Ark-dela. Then with the Ark-dela with me, we all shall rise up against the Olban and banish them from the world once and forever. So that none of our our descendants will have to face the evil that is soon to come upon us."
Tino had begun to sweat and looked nervously to Tylara and Cyan then back to towards the Elder then squeakily asked, "Which one of us will die?"
The Elder's penchant for histrionics was irritating to all three as they shifted to and fro waiting for an answer.
The Elder answered, "It is not for me to say."
June 7th, 2002, 02:44 PM
This news didn't please Tino in the slightest. His sudden rush of bravado now seemed to have become a really bad idea. He clenched and unclenched his fists, feeling the sweat coating his palms.
He only hoped that his knees weren't shaking as visibly as he felt that they were.
Swallowing, Tino knew that he couldn't back down now. The phropecy stated that they were now "the three ", and that to back down would mean breaking it.
The Eldar could see the anguish and indecision in the squat man's face, but he offered nothing in the way of comfort.
"You are to leave immediately." The Eldar bellowed in his deep-throated voice. "Supplies have been readied, your families will be informed after your departure... and we wouldn't want you to change your minds now."
The Eldar spun on his heel and turned his back on the trio.
"Begone! Master Adelius will instruct you on your path and give you your supplies."
June 8th, 2002, 10:38 PM
As they followed the Elder, Master Adelius, out of the Hall of Bones Tino looked back, and then wished that he had kept his eyes forward. Master Erdar stood watching “the three” being escorted from the hall. Tino could only call the expression on his face smug, or perhaps triumphant. The Elder so quickly rearranged his features into a suitable guise of authoritative gravity that the brief malice might have been a trick of the shadows cast by his hood. Tino turned away and hurryied to catch up with the others on his short legs, hoping that the tall Elder did not know that he had seen that altered mien.
He followed behind the group, the Master and the other two members of his new trio, and worried at what he had seen. Ignoring painful past lessons, his mind insisted on solving a new puzzle. Why did Master Erdar look as though he had just won a great coup? And why did he say “I” and not “we” when talking about the defense of the realm if their quest failed? He didn’t really want to think of his own part in that quest (Why did I step forward?!) so he focused on another part of the puzzle.
“Tylara? Tylara, I…” He almost ran into her tall, athletic form when she stopped and turned around toward him. They were on the Elm-shaded footpath before the stone quarters where the younger monks lived; beyond the dormitories lay the stables and armories where, presumably, they would find their mounts and supplies.
“Yes?” she asked.
“I…uh…do you know anything about the Ar…uh…well about…” He broke off, looking past her, where Elder Adelius had turned to listen. The Master seemed merely impatient with the interruption. Tino looked back up at Tylara and hurriedly said, “What-is-it-like-riding-a-dragon-mount-is-it-dangerous?”
He blushed at her raised eyebrow, but was relieved to notice the question in her eye and the knowing glance she and Cyan exchanged. She seemed to understand, and said, “Don’t worry. There’s nothing to it, and Cyan and I are used to inexperienced riders.” Her voice was light, unconcerned. But as they continued on their way, with the Master walking before them, her whisper was barely audible: “We’ll talk later.”
June 10th, 2002, 08:32 AM
The murmered words did nothing to relieve the little man's anxiety and his expression as they continued towards the stables was slightly panicked with worry. Cyan's expressionless face was no help, either. The entry to the stables was dim, and a distinct smell of dragon drifted out into the cool air, a smell with no real description, other than dragon. Tino's eyes almosty closed as he entered behind the taller three, gulping audibly. He had had no prior experience with dragons, not even visiting them whilst they were in training. He was probably one of the few who hadn't.
With his eyes closed, the first thing he was aware of was the softest sound of breathing, like a million waterfalls, yet far, far away. It filled the space around, rising up to a high roof, and floating out the huge gap that appeared to be cut there crudely, with no apparent care for safe architecture. Tylara and Cyan moved away, going automatically to their mounts, and their ease, and Master Adelius' silence, prompted Tino to open his eyes fully.
June 17th, 2002, 05:49 PM
Tino gasped. His eyes opened wide until they looked like two small pebbles floating in puddles of white. In one smooth motion, his head slowly arced back while his mouth opened as he tried to catch his breath. He stood in a massive room. The floor, covered in cobblestone brick, appeared very ancient but well kept. The main walkway, where he stood, was over forty feet wide. Tino looked down its length and thought it must be at least four hundred feet long. Lining it on both sides were huge pens thirty feet in height. At the opening of each pen, a small torch stood guard offering just the faintest bit of light. Slowly raising his head, Tino's eyes were drawn to a duplicate row of flickering lights above the pens.
A second floor?, he thought to himself, Incredible!. In all, Tino counted four floors. Using his gift of numbers he quickly calculated a total of just under four hundred pens.
Almost four hundred dragons!, Tino stiffened at the thought. He had never seen one up close and now to be in the same room as so many overwhelmed him. With his head craned upwards; stealing glances of the upper floors, the torches and then finally the gaping hole in the ceiling, he began to slowly inch forward. His sandals, never completely leaving the floor, scraped the cobblestone with each step he took. By the time he realized that something was not right, it was too late.
He had wandered to close to one of the pits. Unfortunately for Tino, the pit he approached belonged to a very old, very reclusive dragon. Rare was the day he left his domicile and he did not let anyone get to close to him save a few of the stable workers. With its stealy red eyes the dragon watched each step as Tino grew closer and closer.
Scrape...scrape...scrape. The dragon listened to each step. Its anger growing with each moment. Scrape...scrape...scrape. The intruder grew closer.
Finally, it would allow no further encroachment. With a great flare of its nostrils it reared its head back. As it did, it opened its huge jaw and exposed its old, yet still very lethal, teeth. It swallowed a deep breath, enough to fill its belly. With a sudden jerk forward, its head and neck curled downward like a caterpillar traversing a branch. With all of its might it pushed the air out of its belly, gaining velocity as it traversed through the long, slender throat. Ripping out of its throat, sufficiently heated, the gust exploded towards its prey.
At the first moment, it appeared as a slight breeze to Tino, washing across his face. But the breeze did not subside. In a blink of an eye, he felt the breeze get stronger; then warmer; then heat upon heat enveloped him. A wall of wind hugged Tino and flung him skyward. He could see the floor of the stable under him, then to the side of him, then above him. He twirled in the air like an old rag in a windstorm. He did not think of his impending pain or what caused his current situation. All Tino could think about was how upset Tylara, Cyan and Master Adelius would be with him.
As quickly as it began it was over. Though Tino felt like time slowed to a lumbering crawl as he soared in the air, the abrupt stop occurred much sooner than he expected. As he regained his bearings Tino looked down at the floor. But the floor was gone. For a moment, he could not make out what he was looking at. Finally, his eyes began to focus. He saw a single point of light off in the distance. All around the light, there was darkness.
I'm dead?, Tino asked himself as he looked at the light.
As he gazed at the white wonder Tino began to feel the cool touch of hands and arms embracing him.
They're coming for me, the angels!, was all that Tino could think of. Then he began to hear a voice. He strained to hear the words but could not make them out.
"Tino", was the first word he understood clearly.
Such an angelic voice, Tino thought as he began to accept his fate. He knew one of them would face death. However, he was quite surprised that it happened so soon. He would accept it. He would let them take him up into the light to whatever fate awaited him. His destiny secured, a slight smile formed on Tino's face.
The stinging blow to his cheek came quite unexpectedly. Tino's eyes, still somewhat blurred, quickly regained their focus.
"Owww", came the first word from Tino since he was cast into the air. The pain from Tylara's slap made him reach for his cheek with both hands. Immediately upon doing so he felt his body begin to sway and looking down he saw the hole in the ceiling begin to rotate.
"Not again!" Tino screamed as his arms began to flail wildly.
"Calm down Tino," Tylara said, trying her best to reassure him. "Here, give me your hands." Tino placed his hands in hers. A calmness swept over him as he felt her warmth penetrate his body. She slowly brought him close to her. She tried to pull him down but could not.
"Please Master." Tylara said in her most humbling voice as she glanced sideways at Master Adelius. A look of disdain covered the man's face. He stared at Tino as if trying to bore a hole through him with his gaze. Tylara was relived that Tino was not in position to see that look. She doubted he would be able to recover.
"So be it.," Adelius said in a barely audible murmur. His grip loosened on Tino. Instantly Tylara felt the resistance weaken. With a slight tug, Tylara turned Tino right side up. With his feet finally pointing towards the floor she slowly began to lower him.
"Thank you Master," Tylara said as she bowed her head to Adelius, still trying to sound humble. With the obvious contempt Master Adelius had for Tino, she was surprised that he used his magic to stop him from crashing to the hard cobblestone floor. When she had heard the defensive breath of the dragon, she immediately had spun around to see what had happened. She was able to witness the final few feet of Tino's skyward journey. Then, as if time stopped, she saw Tino freeze in mid tumble floating in the air about six feet off the ground. After a moment of curious examination, she glanced over at Master Adelius. His right arm was fully extended. His right hand outstretched, with his fingers spread wide. She immediately realized what he had done. He had heard the sound of the dragon and with lightning speed sensed that Tino was in danger, spun around on his heels and reached out to him with his powers before he hit the floor.
"Come on Tino, you will be okay." said Tylara as Tino's feet finally reached the floor. As he regained his footing Tino hoped the rest of the adventure would not be quite so terrifying.
June 20th, 2002, 02:07 AM
Tino's knees were still shaking as Tylara led him to his dragon. Cyan watched them with a smug expression as she showed him how to mount and dismount to avoid startling the large beast.
He could feel his heart doing sommersaults as he settled between the large red wings of his mount. Looking to the doors of the stables he wished he had the strength to run; but something about Tylara made him stay. Wether it was her soft grey-green eyes that saw him as of equal importance as everyone else or the soft angelic tones of her voice that spoke to him with a respect others would not waste the time to give him he did not know. As he looked at her perched between the aqua green wings of her dragon mount he wondered wether the gods had the courage to kill such a beautiful being. His eyes feel on Cyan since they had been children Tylara and Cyan had been the best of friends both with abounding skills and strengths; but Tino hadf always watched from the sidelines always wanting Tylara to see him the way she saw Cyan.
He heard a beat of wings and suddenly they were moving skyward. Folding on for dear life he looked across at Cyan and Tylara wondering why they were so calm about all this. Did they know what the Ark-dela was and what it could have the power to do ?
June 20th, 2002, 06:50 AM
The wind whistled sharply past their ears, making conversation impossible. The gentle rise and drop of the dragonmounts’ flight was soothing to Tino’s nerves. As soon as he got past the initial fright of the heights stretching below him, he relaxed his white-knuckled grip on the saddle, and looked out below him.
The fields were like a giant chessboard behind him. Massive forests seemed like splinters from this heights. He could nt see the bells of Byrna behind him, although he did not want to chance turning too far in the sadly.
Suddenly, he glanced across to Tylara, who was deep in thought, anxiousness showing on her face. Patting his Tobacco bag on his belt, he smiled. They were flying for five hours now, and it was taking its toll on the Mounts. They were magnificently beautiful creatures, strong beyond imagination, yet their endurance suffered in the making. No creatures were perfect. Not even the dragons.
Tylara signalled to Cyan, flying in formation to the right of Tylara, pointing down to the ground. As an afterthought, she looked across to Tino, and signalled again.
Tino whispered a small prayer, and pulled on the long reins. The Dragon begn the breakneck descent towards the ground, the wind around Tino increasing tenfold. He held on, gripping the saddle and reins as hard as he could, his knuckles turning white. The dragon kept up the acceleration, not flapping its wings once. Tino was sure he was going to die. At the last moment the dragon pulled up, leaning back as steep as he could, spreading its wings in a magnificent crescendo of toughened leather. And then it dropped onto the ground safely.
Tino jumped off, ran as hard as he could from the beast that he felt was going to be the death of him. He head butted an elm tree, surprisingly throwing his arms around it, and let out a long sigh.
He heard the flap of wings behind him, as Tylara and Cyan dropped gracefully to the ground, making the descent look easy. Tino smiled nervously, letting go of the tree. He patted the pouch behind his back, and pulled out his funny looking pipe from it. Stuffing it quickly with buds of tobacco-like substance, he looked for some fire. As if by asking, his mount coughed. The spark emitted from the fiery creature landed in the pipe, setting it alight. Tino’s Jaw dropped, in surprise, and then took a quick draw of the fumes.
“So what are we doing here?” He asked nervously, from the other two, as he exhaled. A smile came over his face as he waited for an answer.
June 26th, 2002, 12:15 AM
Tino puffed proudly on his pipe relishing this personal victory. That of actually keeping his courage up even as far as to mount-and-ride-a dragon. No one would believe it he thought drawing in deeply the smoke of his pipe.
Cyan and Tylara had attended their dragon mounts grooming and sharing unspoken thanks. They had stopped at Tino's mount and attended to his mount as well. Tino suddenly felt guilty rushing over to help.
Tylara addressed him, "You have much to learn little-one on the hows-and-ways of dragons. They are not a beast-of-burden to be taken for granted."
Tylara's words stung, but not as much as her and Cyan's disappointed looks.
Tylara turned from Tino's mount saying, "Get our weapons Cyan. We walk on a dangerous path."
Cyan walked over to their mounts, returning then handed Tylara a wicked cutlass in an ornate scabbard which she tied about her lithe waist.
Cyan strapped on a cruel looking broadsword then folded his arms facing Tino and Tylara.
Tino had quit puffing on his pipe holding a paralyzed look in response to the serious mood of his companions that had darkened his personal celebratiion of finally riding a dragon.
Tylara and Cyan exchanged grave expressions simultaneously nodding Tylara began, "Little-one though we know something of the Ark-dela, and enough of the Lords of Olban to fear them. It is obvious to Cyan and myself that we are to be your protectors, your guards. We are dragon warriors. We are trained for protection Tino You are not. That being said we know that everythings is not as seems. We fear to trust anyone with the Ark-dela, including the Master Elder......"
Tylara was interupped by Cyan who butt-in, "Especially-the-Master Elder."
Tylara assenting agreement with a nod continued. "You see Tino if we do find the Ark-dela we do not intend to return it to the Master Elder. We do not trust him. But more importantly Tino is your knowledge of the Ark-dela and especially the Lords of Olban. Apparently there was a prophetic reason behind all the years you spent studying and toiling over the anceint text and tomes of the Archives of the Realm. What can you tell us that will help and prepare us for this dangerous mission?"
Tino's pipe smoldered away forgotten at his side. He began to sweat again and certainly was in no celebratory mood. Tino knew he instinctively did not trust the Master Elder either. He wanted to laugh thinking that all that time spent reading was going to come into importance.
Tino swallowed hard blinked grimly then began. "The Ark-dela is the single most ancient oracle of our world. According to legend it was forged before the creation of the world in the belching cauldrons of The Dark One's Kingdom. Made from a piece of the Maker's throne, by both the Maker and The Dark One. The oracle represented a truce between the two powers of creation and destruction. Prior to the forging of the oracle the Maker and The Dark One had been locked in a fierce battle that nearly shook the pillars of heaven to their very foundations. So according to myth in-order to save the essence of time and creation the great powers, the Maker, and The Dark One agreed to a truce. A truce that would be settled by a third party. And the Ark-dela would be the instruement through which the Maker, and The Dark One would work their power. So as legend goes the world was made and man was placed upon it. And somewhere is the Ark-dela. And who ever should find it will have the power to work either great deeds or horrible atrocities depending on what is in their heart. And if the one who finds it is good, of kind heart, it will enable the Maker to claim victory and good will prevail in the world. However if the one who finds it has a heart rotten with hate and a black soul then The Dark One will claim mankind and the world. I can only shudder to think what that may mean for us.
"The Lords of Olban, as you know, make no secret of their loyality to The Dark Lord. The Olban are evil, powerful and cruel. I can only pray that we do not run into them for they are mighty in their hatred of mankind."
Tylara's beautiful chiseled face paled as her mouth opened with her aquiline lips shaped like an O.
Cyan sighed lowering his head and ran his fingers through his lusty locks.
Tino , seeing Tylara and Cyan's reaction, felt guilt for what he had just relayed. But he knew when people wanted to hear the truth it was best to tell them.
Suddenly a massive cracking sound startled them. Over by their Dragon mounts two gigantic trees had been torn out of the ground by an enormous black beast. that was far larger and more fearsome then any dragon. With a set of four wings that was more like a gargantun dragon-fly then anything else. The massive fanged beast's shiny ebony neck shot out and in two startling and ghastly bites the beast had consumed Cyan's dragon mount to the sounds of bones snapping and flaring of flames. The other two mounts reared up to fly off when the hellish creature bit down on Tino's mount.
Paralyzed in disbelief and terror Cyan drew his blade, tears starting to stream down his face, started to charge towards the black behemoth. Tylara restrained him yelling. "Fool your death would be certain."
Then off the back of heinous monster, jumped six red hooded and cloaked figures. They jerkingly marched towards the group. The only thing that Tino could make out in the hoods of the figures was two points of diseased green luminosity.
The enormous black beast's four wings whirred up a windstorm as it shook Tino's dragon in it's mouth sending dragon limbs flying in many directions.
Tino whimpered, "The Lords of Oban."
Tylara reached for her cutlass and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Cyan. Tino shook in abject terror.
Suddenly a powerful surge of wind deafened Tino's ears then abruptly something pussiant grabbed him by the back of his cloak. He felt himself jerked off the ground and watched the ground recede beneath him. He glanced to his side seeing Tylara and Cyan were in the clutches of Tylara's Dragon mount's rear talons. Craning his head up confirmed that it was Tylara's mount that had him.
Tino looked back to the ground to see the Lords of Olban remounting their monstrous mount. As if reading his mind Tylara's Dragon beat its wings' powerfully and their speed increased greatly.........