The fireball could be seen for miles around, the local villages knowing instantly that the dragon was back; causing fear and panic across the land. All knew of the dangers the dragon held and tonight of all nights, on the eve of the king’s ascension, this omen could only bare ill will.
Each village evacuated its women and children to the relative safety of the castle whilst the men formed teams to beat the flames that edged ever nearer to their crops and homes. None knowing the sight that would befall them at the forests edge.
The wraith, knowing their powers would be needed in the final fight, knew they had to get the children to safety; no longer could they simply hide them from the witch. Each wraith had the power to transfer their own life force into the child, allowing them to pass through the flames unharmed and onto the safety the waiting villagers held but they would lose a number of their group in the process; so total was the transfer of life. It was a sacrifice all were willing to make.
Jocken saw him first. A simple farmer, not known to be too bright, stood and watched as the form appeared before him not ten feet from the forests edge. He rubbed his eyes in disbelief and looked around to see if anyone else could see it. When he heard Alice, his wife, cry out in shock he knew he wasn’t daydreaming and turned back to the figure; a man in his late sixties, made completely of smoke.
Words formed on the lips of the man, but no sound could be heard. With a flurry of wind, the smoke disappeared and, in its place, stood a boy, less than six years old; the bakers son, lost to the forest two summers past. Kelleb shouted as he ran to the boy, feeling him to be sure he was real. Soon the whole forests edge was alive with the sounds of people shouting and mothers crying as child after child appeared in a wisp of smoke.
The wraith had kept their charge and paid the ultimate price for their safety, but none would know of their deeds if the witch wasn’t stopped. They knew they had to do all they could to aid Lillee and with the added power they had now they were not protecting the children; they could focus on the trio themselves. The witch would never know they were coming.
Kiyonari screamed as the forest erupted before them. Dapple reared and Lillee did all she could not to fall from his back, taking Kiyonari with her as she went. The trio managed to survive the horse’s manoeuvre and Dapple, fearing for his life, set off in full gallop once more; unaware he was heading right towards his own capture. Lillee and Kiyonari clung on with all their might, hoping that the horse would calm and slow before they all fell to their deaths.
Lillee realised they were being herded back towards the centre of the forest. She sensed the witch’s malevolence, her infatuation perceptible to her across the ether and growing stronger the closer to her she got. She knew they were headed for a trap but saw little option than to play out the events to their conclusion. Lillee reigned Dapple to the left and headed straight for the witch’s lair; determined to fight on her own terms.
The king’s son and head of the castle guard knew that the dragon’s arrival this very night was too well timed to be coincidental. He knew that Grom would never leave his lair unless the prize was worthy and all feared that with the kings imminent passing, peace between the dragon and Ernabeth would soon be over; and so the castle was put on full alert, ready for an attack from their long forgotten enemy.
One party alone, headed out from the castle.
Kelleb, The Kings son kissed his wife and child goodbye and set out with his knights. None knowing the fate that awaited them but sworn to their master’s sides through all things; to abandon their post would be blasphemy in the eyes of any there and so they too kissed their families goodbye and dutifully followed their master on what was surely a suicide mission.
The knights reached the forests edge and could hear the distant flap of wings. All feared for their lives, but none faltered as they waited for their leader to determine the best course of action.
Don’t forget to follow the links back to the original posts and check out the other entries.
Thanks for reading 😉