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Laurence of Dragon Fame

DM Yates


Published by DM Yates

First Edition


Copyright 2017 DM Yates






DISCLAIMER: Laurence of Dragon Fame is a fictional story, made up solely by the author, D.M. Yates. All characters and events are fictional and in no way relate to any real person or situation. Any resemblance to events, persons, or locales is entirely coincidental.





In Gratitude


I want to thank my dear friend Elizabeth Maginnis who continually supports me in my writing endeavors. I also thank Joleene Naylor for the cover.

I thank Joleene Naylor and Roger Lawrence who beta read this novel and gave me helpful feedback.

I especially am grateful to my family who continue to support me in my writing. I thank the great Universe and my Heavenly Father for the inspirations sent to me.


Laurence of Dragon Fame Cover Credits:

Images from Catmando, rudall30 and canstock

Cover by Joleene Naylor


Table of Contents


Map of Twelfth Century Europe

Prologue

Chapter One The Lone Hero

Chapter Two The Worst of Worlds

Chapter Three Mina

Chapter Four Knights and Monsters

Chapter Five A New Home

Chapter Six The Castle on the Mound

Chapter Seven A New Family

Chapter Eight The Shadow

Chapter Nine Travels with Pietro

Chapter Ten The Test

Chapter Eleven Honor Above Love

Chapter Twelve Family Honor Regained

Chapter Thirteen Sir Laurence Di Draco

Chapter Fourteen Laurence Remembers Aberforth

Chapter Fifteen Missions From Zavat and Giovanna

Chapter Sixteen The Great Dragon Slayer

Chapter Seventeen The Agonizing Journey

Chapter Eighteen Pietro Arrives Home

Chapter Nineteen Pietro Takes Charge

Chapter Twenty Troubles A Plenty

Chapter Twenty One The Orient

Chapter Twenty Two Dragons the Good and the Bad

Chapter Twenty Three Di Draco Estate

Chapter Twenty Four Monsters in the Deep

Chapter Twenty Five Challenges Ahead

Chapter Twenty Six The Gathering

Chapter Twenty Seven Time with Taelta

Chapter Twenty Eight Wenching for Pleasure

Chapter Twenty Nine A Love Story Begun

Chapter Thirty Discovered at Last

Chapter Thirty One Enemies and Lovers

Chapter Thirty Two Justice for Two

Chapter Thirty Three Through the Depths of Hell

Chapter Thirty Four A Prophecy Fulfilled

Chapter Thirty Five Aberforth

Chapter Thirty Six Back to Earth

Chapter Thirty Seven A Wedding Blessed by a King

Chapter Thirty Eight Forgotten Memories

Chapter Thirty Nine The Legends of Mir Mir

Chapter Forty The End is Just Another Beginning

About the Author



Map of Twelfth Century Europe

Courtesy of Wikipedia, Public Domain, and U.S. Public Domain




Prologue


From the ending of ‘The Lone Hero’:


Einarr’s solitary days were too much to bear and he called for Zavat to spend time with him. He’d sent word to hisis patér many times this last couple of weeks, but the great Guerrverre dragon had yet to appear.

Finally, he thought as he sensed Zavat speeding towards him, and he hoped he had long enough left to voice his farewell to hisis patér.

Zavat alighted silently and settled close to his silius, gently unfolding his wing over him. Einarr shuddered under the warmth.

“Thank you, mi patér. I’ve been chilled.”

“I noticed. Do you want me to light a fire?”

“It’s not necessary. You look terrible.”

Zavat moaned long and gutturally. “I should have attended to you, but I didn’t want to face this. I’m experiencing the sensation of loss, a feeling I had hoped to never deal with again, and I’m not sure how I’ll continue without you. I feel guilty thinking this way and it’s selfish of me.

“You achieved much in your short lifespan. I’m proud of you. You will be honored for the hero you are.” Zavat lifted his head and let out a bellow that echoed through the jungle. “I won’t leave your side until…” Zavat choked on his words, “you have…passed into your realm.” He scratched nervously at the dirt. “I despise this part of life. I don’t like the final goodbyes.”

Zavat smiled down at his son. “We’ll meet again someday and that thought must appease us. Not even I understood the intensity of the link the spell would bring, but I don’t regret performing it. You have been a silius any patér would gladly have, and I was the lucky one.” Zavat shuddered and grumbled low.

“You still talk nonsense. I haven’t any proof of a utopia in the beyond or that we’ll meet again. No one has shown me that perfect paradise.”

Zavat chuckled. “Still an unbeliever and stubborn. Never mind. You’ll witness it shortly and it will break my heart.” He fondly nudged Einarr’s head with his snout. “Sz-havat would love your white hair.”

Einarr grinned. “You haven’t nudged me in years.”

“I’ve done this many times when you slept near me. I knew you’d be embarrassed if you found out. Sheema told me she wanted me, but my fatherly love for you prevented her from mating with me. She feared you and your strength. I’ve gone many times to Earth to search for her and I’ll continue. The day you honored me as tu patér filled me with complicated emotions and a change came over me. I guarded you even more if that were possible. Yet I couldn’t let you know. You were a proud silius. Indeed, we were a close family for many memorable years and Sheema suffered from extreme jealousy so she left.” Zavat closed his eyes. “Now I lose you too.”

Einarr reached his hand up and stroked Zavat’s snout. “I changed too when I finally belonged to someone, you. I understand why my father proudly stated that you were his master.”

“Einarr, you’re not correct. A dragon and his companion links with this strong tie and it’s built upon the companion’s absolute obedience, but ours was a familial relationship at its core.”

“I’ve wondered through the years about Sheema. Mi patér, is it possible she’s carrying your egg?”

“I would sense it. I told you that. She would have said.”

“She’s blocking you, isn’t she?”

“Yes, she hated me for performing that ancient binding. I’ll continue to track her, but I fear that she was ill and too weak to travel where-ever she is. I’ll spend my years alone.”

“Why did you pick me for this? Why me?”

“I didn’t. You chose Aberforth long before I sensed you as the one. You accepted this mission in your heart eons ago. You have no idea how old you really are. I’m not talking about your mortal self but your spiritual being.”

Zavat nervously dug into the ground with a claw. Einarr patted Zavat’s paw.

“Figures I’d do something foolish like that. Like patér, like silius.”

Zavat chuckled, wiping away a tear.

“The throbbing never stops.” Einarr groaned. “It used to disappear for long periods. Now it clings to me like an unwelcomed guest.”

Zavat nodded. “Like Lord Szah’s bragging, heh, heh. Lord Tsaemo’s venom courses within you and you’re too frail to fight it anymore. Your internal guest is aggravating you to death.”

“Yes.”

“You played out your role until we won the war. You cared for your kind, saving many and you made lasting relationships with elves—no simple feat. What other can claim marriage to an Elven princess? What dragon doesn’t worship you for your greatness? You lived longer than expected. It’s time to let go.”

“Silly old fool of a patér that you are. Don’t you think I’ve tried? I guess I don’t know how to expire.”

“I can solve that,” said Zavat reluctantly.

“How?”

“Have you forgotten that I too issue a venomous spray? If you wish, I’ll stop your torment and quickly.” Zavat stared into the distance. “Long ago, I had to terminate my niece’s life. Zomu wasn’t strong enough. She was in extreme pain. We don’t like to take lives before they’re supposed to end, but I can’t allow suffering. I’ve seen too much of it. I’ve never gotten over the guilt of killing her and I won’t get over the remorse of your death, but if it’s what you want, I’ll do it. You’ll feel comforted afterwards.”

“Are you sure that another world awaits me?”

“I met you there once. Everyone you ever cared for is waiting for you. Harulis, Atomo, Kono, Nokno, your parents. Even Szpha’ha and Sz-havat. Don’t you want to be with them again?”

“I miss them deeply. Is it far?”

“Much closer than you think. You won’t journey by yourself. I requested the honor of accompanying you.”

“Will you care for Zeemsa and guide my sons, visit with Elweil, remind Taelta my love for her still exists?” Einarr coughed and pushed on his chest.

Zavat sat him up and held him until he breathed easily again. Then he laid him gently down. “Why ask? Is not tu familia mi familia? This isn’t the time to worry. Let go of your regrets or you’ll drag them along to that glorious world of yours.”

“I can’t. They cling to me like Sz-havat’s spit did. If what you say is true, then do it.”

Zavat examined his frail son, scarcely the great warrior he once was. Without warning, he bent close to Einarr and exhaled a mist from his nostrils.

“It isn’t working, is it?” asked Einarr.

“It won’t be long.”

Einarr reached out and squeezed his hand on Zavat’s claw. He began to lose consciousness of his limbs, his mind clouded, and the torment abated. His eyelids fluttered and he lay still.

“Goodbye mi silius. I’ll miss you more than you can imagine.” A rain of tears fell on Einarr. Zavat took Einarr’s knife and cut off several chunks of his white hair and peeled the pouch out of his son’s hand.

“You failed to kill me; you healed me,” said Einarr standing next to Zavat.

“Did I? Witness for yourself.” Zavat wailed out thunderously, his cries echoing around the jungle, answered by the many dragons who felt his pain and knew the Lone Hero had left them for good.

Einarr looked down on his own prone body, his dead hand still clutching Zavat’s claw.

“Am I hallucinating?”

“Your spirit is free from your physical ties to Aberforth. Check your legs.”

“What’s happened? I feel robust again and I have both of my legs. Yet you see me.”

“Our kind is different from yours. Are you prepared to journey Home?”

“Do I ride you?”

Zavat snorted. “We walk.” He pointed ahead. A path wove to a hillock ahead of them.

“That road didn’t exist before.”

“Human eyes can’t see it. Shall we?”

Zavat and Einarr meandered along the road silently while it wove higher. The farther Einarr traveled, the younger he felt, light and pain free. An uncommon peacefulness engulfed him.

“One of the reasons we settled in Aberforth is that we recognized we lived centuries longer,” said Zavat. “The giants did too. That’s why we tried to work with them, but they didn’t care about evolving. Human lifespans stayed under 100 years although you lived to be 120, no doubt because of my blood.

“On many of the planets we travel to, we use no companions, but your race possesses intellectual capabilities that many species don’t. I chose your family line because of your ancestor Numsom. He was a smart man. I adored your great great-grandmother too. What a fighter and stubborn. I have endured the loss of your family for generations. Yet I gladly accepted each new companion. Can you guess why?”

“Your loneliness.”

“Yes. Numsom was thrown off me when a giant bashed me with his wretched club. I spun through the air in a tumble and Numsom fell to his death. After we eliminated the giants I torched every club I found.

“Your great great-grandmother died when we tried to negotiate another peace with Lord Tsaemo. He attacked her. I retaliated and he kowtowed. Centuries of memories, but I’ll feel your absence the most.”

They continued upwards until they reached two gates a short distance across from each other.

“This is my limit, mi silius. This first gate guards the doorway into our realm from the beyond. That second shields your world. You must pass through both without my help. I can only enter when invited.”

Einarr looked steadily at Zavat, feeling the emptiness for hisis patér seep to his inner core. “Visit me?”

“It’s forbidden. We must go through our separation and mourning periods. All must continuously move forward.”

“Promise that I’ll see you again?”

“I believe we have another possible adventure together, but I’ll forever protect you, whether you know I’m there or not. Now look upon your fortress.”

Einarr observed his house below and peered through the open doors which were draped in white flowers. Dragons and elves crowded in the main room with a long line waiting to enter. Einarr’s possessions hung along the walls. In the center, on a raised flat stone slab lay Einarr’s body, shrouded in light lavender. Taelta and his sons grievously stood around his shroud, Aretel with his arm around his mother’s waist and he looked much like Einarr. Everyone held a lock of Einarr’s white hair.

“Nice touch, mi patér.”

“You taught me that tangible items aren’t as valuable as emotional possessions.”

“She favored me in those light purple colors.”

Zavat snorted. “She did and that color was hideous. Purple Orchid she called it. They’re paying the utmost of respect to you, the Lone Hero, posthumously dubbed a Great One. We combined our magic with Elven so that your corpse will stay entombed forever, in honor of you.” Zavat gulped and shook his head.

“When your time comes, mi patér, I promise I will bring you Home.”

“I will look forward to that.”

“If you’re with me, how was my funeral arranged?”

“Lord Szah waited for my cry. Then he called Elweil and together with Lady Szimza they took care of everything. I left your clumps of hair beside your body. Lord Szah knew what to do. Only the best for mi silius.”

Einarr turned and walked up to the gates. The first set swung out and the next set swung towards him, each side connecting and locking. A path lay before him yet he hesitated.

“You must pass through and don’t dawdle. That walkway gated by each side is no accident. It protects us from the Void.”

“What do you mean?”

“The Void is a nasty emptiness filled with evil, vile demons. If you hesitate, you’ll encounter them, so go before the gates begin to close and leave you. It's a dangerous, terrifying hole in eternity where few escape torture and many are lost. Peculiar screams, moans, and howls. No place for any of us. Quickly now.”

Einarr stepped onto the pathway. He sensed two beings beside him and he walked boldly through entering the Other Side, which seemed unfamiliar to him. Both sets of gates had crept shut. Once on the Other Side he turned and clung to the iron bars, but all had become hazy. He heard Zavat whisper, ‘Until we meet again, mi silius.’

Einarr watched Aberforth gradually dissolve, feeling his ties to that world slipping away. He glimpsed Zavat alone at the crypt, lamenting, his spikes drooped down his face, his deep-set loneliness while he held Einarr’s pouch, a clump of hair worn over his spike, and it weighed heavily on Einarr. He turned again and resolutely traversed farther into the realm that Zavat said was his dwelling, but halted when he heard the echoing mourning roars from Zavat, conceiving that Zavat also experienced the difficult separation. Einarr forced himself to continue forward. With each step, the roars reverberated, getting softer until finally, he heard them no more, but his heart ached heavily for his dragon patér.



Chapter One

The Lone Hero


Upon the Earth the dragons wail

for war has come to call.

In Aberforth they sense dismay

and warriors thus do bawl.


Once Einarr had recuperated, he enjoyed the company of his friends in the Spirit World again. He cherished the quietness of his world. Even in communicating, they spoke telepathically, although whenever they wished they could verbalize their thoughts. Einarr rarely did.

Soon enough he felt compelled to go to Aderheim Dracones, the dragon afterlife domain. He was excited to visit with his dragon friends, especially his two best friends Szpha’ha, a golden male Gulthskein and Sz-havat a female black Guerrverre, the spouse of Szpha’ha.

The gates swung open as soon as he approached and his grandmother Lady Zanzzz greeted him.

“Mi grand-silius.”

“Mi grand-mater, I’m honored.” He bowed.

“Your use of our language protocols even here pleases me.”

“Mi patér was patient and insistent in his guidance. After all, I am his son.”

“Incorrect,” she said curtly. “The correct term is hisis silius, not his son.”

“Forgive my lapse. It won’t happen again.”

She nodded her approval and turned to the dragons who had gathered to meet him. “May I introduce Einarr, the Lone Hero.”

The dragons swarmed to welcome the Aberforth hero and to thank him for his bravery. Even his previous enemies on Aberforth, the Feohteres, greeted him warmly.

Einarr grinned. “I’m proud to be héré grand-silius.”

“Héré is correct for the adjective her, but I see you have Zavat’s humor.” Lady Zanzzz frowned at him.

“I apologize.” Einarr smirked with a twinkle in his eye.

“I’ll learn to deal with your peculiar sense of humor. I observed the Great War and I’m proud of you and mi silius. Don’t hide in your Spirit World. I’ll require your presence often and expect that when you’re here, you’ll be on your best behavior and will follow proper dragon behavior since you represent my lineage.”

“As you wish, grand-mater.”

“Any competition sport in which we indulge, you’ll be my partner, no one else’s. And, mi grand-silius, we will not lose.”

Einarr now saw the power that Lady Zanzzz possessed. She reigned in this kingdom and no one dared challenge her. The difference in personalities between Zavat and his mother that had strained their relationship became obvious to Einarr. Where she was tenacious, bold, and stern, Zavat displayed ferocious strength tinged with quirky humor and a dash of love.

To Einarr’s great delight, once his grandmother had allowed him entrance, Lord Szpha’ha and Sz-havat greeted him fondly, shooing the others away, and the three sat on the grass and had a long visit filled with laughter and remembrances. Zomu, Zavat’s twin brother also joined them, pleased to finally meet his nephew.

Spirit children shimmered luminescent silvery blue no matter their ethnicity, so Einarr hadn’t been prepared for the glorious rays of dragons in every hue imaginable. His all-black Guerrverre grandmother, for instance, shined a vivid violet and wore her chroma with proud dignity. The water dragons were semi-incandescent in their eternal state, whereas other dragons’ colors were even more spectacular. Even Szpha’ha sparkled a metallic gold.

Time passed. Einarr often visited Aderheim Draconus and always participated in the games. He and his grandmother never lost. He had traveled to Earth twice on missions since Aberforth, but his experiences on the dragon planet remained his most memorable and molded him into a powerful and resilient individual, thus creating the strong bond between him and dragons.

He had been dedicated to his missions and forthright in his deeds, but his first mortal life as the Lone Hero and half-son to Zavat had honed his mental and physical abilities beyond those of normal spirits. Even though eons had passed since his time on the dragon planet and even though he’d traveled twice to Earth, Einarr missed Aberforth the most and especially his father. Of the families he’d acquired when in corporeal form, of those he had come to love, he treasured Zavat the most.

That’s why he was disturbed by the vast numbers of dragons returning from Earth lately. There were so many that there was no time to celebrate each one’s arrival. Normally, they lived for centuries and it was a cause of great celebration when one entered the after-world. But these returnees seemed lost, out of place, and unprepared. Their relatives greeted them somberly and this troubled Einarr.

His grandmother, Lady Zanzzz had called for hover tag this day and the game had one more round. The rules were simple. Teams flew towards their opponents and butted the companions to knock them off their dragons. That team was eliminated until one team remained. Now down to four teams, there was no doubt that Einarr and his grandmother would win again.

The teams were on a short break before the final round. This day Einarr, dressed in tan pants and a sky blue tunic, stretched his long legs, arched his back, and relaxed on the grass.

“Debating tactics to knock me off mi grand-mater?” Einarr grinned at his spirit friend Atomo and the dragoness Sz-havat who plotted with another of his friends Kono and his closest friend Szpha’ha.

“Overconfident again?” asked Atomo.

“Assured of my victory.”

“As usual,” replied Atomo.

Kono and Szpha’ha chuckled. “Want to hear our plan?” teased Kono.

“It saddens me to witness your frustrations.” Einarr pretended to wipe a tear from his eye. “Why don’t you give up now?”

The Timid Guerrverre Zumsa, who sat beside him glanced sadly aside.

“Look at me, Zumsa,” said Einarr. Her eyes flitted to him, but she diverted her gaze towards the ground. “How many times must I emphasize how brave you were? Who could have survived such an attack?”

“Of course she was,” agreed the others.

“I died early in the war, but you outlived us,” she said, “and you were merely a half dragon.”

Sz-havat shrugged. “He’s stubborn like Lord Zavat and just as fierce. Who could have taken those two down?”

“Within our line courses power from the ancients,” said Lady Zanzzz proudly.

“Grand-mater, have you heard of any problems with mi patér or dragons in general?” asked Einarr.

“It’s not for me to discuss. You’ll find out soon enough.”

“I thought my next mission was set for Earth, not Aberforth?”

“I never said anything about Aberforth. What is to come is not to be disclosed here.” Lady Zanzzz glowered at him, and he thought it best not to question her further.

“I’m also going to Earth soon,” Nokno said.

“Do you ever remain here long enough to rest?” asked Einarr.

“I’m on a perpetual spiritual quest. Therefor I choose many missions to refine my soul. Yet this one, I fear, will be my most difficult. I’m told my greatest challenge will be to accept a spouse.”

Einarr raised his eyebrows. “You’ve never done so? Who will be your partner?”

“My eternal beloved Ilanta.”

“You’ll find it effortless then.”

“I’ve scorned her in other existences in selfish pursuits for my soul’s perfection. I’m concerned I’ll do so again.”

“Katura and I share a clue, the scent of jasmine.”

“A good idea, but I’ve ignored past clues too. Is physical contact as wonderful as everyone says with your eternal mate when in mortal form?” asked Nokno.

“More than you can imagine. I count on that when I’m to go to Earth, my least favorite planet.”

Lady Zanzzz interrupted them. “Time. Back to the game.”

Einarr’s friends groaned.

“Mount,” Lady Zanzzz said to Einarr. “They’ll attempt to position us between them. Don’t disappoint me.”

Lady Zanzzz was correct. The other two teams lingered on each side of them. Einarr wasn’t concerned. He harbored no doubt of their championship again. The gates swung open and Einarr glanced that way. Several new-comers entered clutching their death wounds. That same uncomfortable sensation filled him.

It didn’t take long for Einarr and Lady Zanzzz to win, and he noticed his circle-based spirit friends outside the gates. He walked towards them with a broad smile for his beloved mate Katura.

“Einarr,” called his grandmother, “be safe. We’ll guide you, be assured. You must listen to our advice.”

“Thank you, grand-mater.” Einarr had just bowed to her when Apollo called and he snapped his head up. Apollo, who once performed the responsibilities of the name-sake deity on Earth, was the Spirit Guide over those whose mortal tours necessitated a strong mentor, and Einarr was one of them.

Einarr joined his friends on the main avenue. He enjoyed this stretch of land between the eternal domains of his Spirit Home; the Land of Enchantment, where elves, fairies, and such lived after death; the Mythical Kingdom, where unicorns, mermaids and the like dwelled; and Pagan Land. Gates to each opened freely for those permitted to enter.

From Aderheim Dracones, dragons cheered his latest victory. His friend Paulos produced a sheet of paper. “May I have your autograph?” he teased.

“I don’t ask for the attention.”

“You don’t tell them to stop either,” retorted Paulos.

Chants of “Paulos, Paulos, Paulos,” came from the Mythical Kingdom where Paulos’ buddy Quinn led the mermaids in a rowdy chorus. Paulos turned towards them and bowed, then danced backwards.

“Who revels in the attention more than you?” Einarr shook his head. “At least I don’t make a spectacle of myself.”

“Louder,” ordered Paulos. The cheers echoed around the avenue and he gamboled ahead of the others.

“Apollo has called for me,” said Einarr.

“Can you sense what Apollo wants?” asked Katura.

“No, but it’s serious. He’s joined by High Council members.” Einarr grasped Katura’s hands and pressed his forehead against hers before he disappeared.

Katura, Paulos, and Jenniere continued back to their land.

“No worries,” mused Paulos. “I’m sure he’s receiving his Earthly assignment.”

“Katura, please meet me at the Guide’s School upon your return.” Bohlale’s call surprised Katura. Once her sister from a tribe south of Egypt, Bohlale had become Katura’s Guide.

“Bohlale requests my presence. Perhaps it’s missions for both Einarr and me?” Katura hastened ahead.

Einarr arrived at a flowery meadow where birds chirped and a gentle wind stirred the high grasses. Apollo stood with four High Council members, all in tan robes with hoods over their heads. When Einarr approached, they greeted him with nods.

“You’ve been requested for an unusual mission on Earth,” said Apollo.

Einarr waited for more of an explanation. He already knew he was headed to Earth, yet he’d never been ordered to a High Council for any reason.

Apollo continued, “Exceptional circumstances apply. Your task involves the rescue of dragons. This is a serious time on Earth when a religion has acquired more power and a large number of followers. Its leaders serve death to all who don’t convert and have ordered the annihilation of dragons. They’ve labeled them evil when in reality the religion is threatened by the dragons’ popularity among the common people.”

Einarr rubbed his chin. “I sensed a problem with the dragons on Earth and I’ve felt troubled, but I didn’t expect to work with them again. No wonder mi patér has been on my mind. Of course I accept.”

One of the Council indicated for Apollo to clarify further. “Two events were possible. Since those in mortal form alter their course at any given time, we waited to see which way the wheel turned. It continues to involve a mass extinction.”

“This saddens me deeply,” said Einarr.

Apollo nodded his agreement. “If you select not to fulfill your destiny, Lord Zavat has asked to insert limited prior memories into you in the future. Understand the significance. Although rarely allowed, we’re considering his request. When you realize who you once were, Lord Zavat’s mark will take shape on your shoulder as it did on Aberforth. This will help convince the dragons to follow you. Lord Zavat will meet you later at the gates.”

Is it possible? thought Einarr.

Apollo smiled. “Yes, you’ll work with your dragon father again.”

“I understand and will fulfill my duty.”

“It’s easy to accept here, but when you no longer recall your former existence, your emotions may cause dire consequences.”

“I won’t fail, I assure you.”

“You were once the Lone Hero and willful, and thus we’ve chosen you above other dragon companions.” Apollo smiled at him. “Katura and Nokno will be mortals at the same time.”

“Nokno made brief mention of it; Katura didn’t. Will we three meet?”

“Bohlale has just informed Katura, but she doesn’t know your role. The three of you will exist in different locations. It’s entirely upon you if you three will unite or not. Begin classes on the Void. If an opportunity arises, you’ll accompany me to that tragic realm.”

“Will I need such experience on my journey?”

“As you prepare for Earth life, you’ll realize the dangers when you’re in mortal form. We’ve foreseen possible risks to you from the Void.”

“I’ll train any way necessary.”

“You may not discuss the details of this mission.”

“I understand.”

“Katura has left Bohlale and searches for you in the Jasmine Gardens,” noted Apollo.

“What timeframe will this occur?”

“Thirteenth century, and it fast approaches. I have often cautioned you against your stubbornness, but this time your fortitude will save you and countless others. You are dismissed.”

Einarr lowered his head to all and left to join his Kat.

When he entered the Jasmine Gardens, Katura ran to greet him. “We’ll be on Earth together again.” She snuggled into him. “Remember me.” She kissed the jasmine lei she wore and placed it around his neck and he inhaled its fragrance.

“This will be a peculiar mission,” Einarr mused.

“You’ll work with dragons again, won’t you? You never fail. You’ll succeed.”

Einarr hugged her. “I miss your sweet spirit already.” He kissed her forehead then left for the entrance gates. Once there, he grasped them and waited anxiously. Aberforth’s physical boundary stood across the barrier. Through the haze, his father ambled out of Aberforth and halted until those gates swung open then he marched forward.

Eerie rumbles and ominous murmurs arose from the Void, which existed below other realms and the in-betweens. Einarr grimaced, but as Zavat approached, his demeanor changed to joy. Although he often viewed his father from the Dome Room, and Zavat noticed him, this was their first encounter since Aberforth. Einarr wanted to embrace him, but he was in spirit form, and celestial essences and corporeal bodies existed on two different planes, unable to feel each other’s touch.

“Mi silius, you appear well,” said Zavat.

“Mi patér.” Einarr’s words exuded the devotion and admiration he held for Zavat.

“I peek in on you occasionally and I’ve seen you watch me. I’m glad tu grand-mater favors you,” said Zavat.

“She’s majestic. Even in Aderheim Dracones she rules.”

“That’s mi mater. I see into other spiritual realms, but am prohibited that one. How is mi tvinling bhrater?”

“Zomu is a gentle soul, so unlike you or tu mater. He’s the image of a younger you. He speaks of you often and misses you dearly. He watches over you more than you’re aware.”

“Of those who’ve passed, except for you, I miss him the most. Have you seen …?”

“Lady Sheema has never entered Aderheim Draconus. I’ve watched you search for her, but she must be on Earth. I know how much she meant to you and it’s my fault she was jealous of me.”

Zavat fluttered his wings in relief. “I’m glad she’s not dead. She has to be blocking me then.”

“When last I saw her on Aberforth, she acted erratically and bit me. She was convinced I wanted to kill her to stop you mating with her.”

Zavat sighed. “It happened once a long time ago in our history with humans. If she’s on Earth, we’ll find her.”

“I hope so, for your sake.”

From outside the gates and below came louder howls and cries of Einarr’s name. Zavat’s nostrils flared and he stomped. Still they didn’t stop. He roared. “Leave mi silius alone or I will slaughter every last one of you.”

The sounds ceased and an uneasy silence followed.

“Don’t you fear those below?” asked Einarr.

Zavat snorted. “We hunt them when we’re bored. They’re terrified of us. Surely you’re not frightened of them.”

“They can harm us. I don’t go near them, although I’m told I might have to clash with them when in mortal form.”

Zavat stomped again. “Stay away from mi silius or face my wrath.”

Einarr smirked. “Leave it to you to invade their space.”

“More in my youth. I’m surprised you haven’t heard those stories.”

“How long may we visit?”

“I’ve overstayed my welcome already. I’m here merely to insert this memory so you’ll accept me when it’s time. Don’t get obstinate when I come for you. My patience runs thin these days.” He blew a strong puff of air and Einarr inhaled. Zavat turned and tromped back to his sphere, shaking the bridge on purpose. Gasps, wails, and screeches echoed from below while dark furry appendages grabbed at him. He grunted and kicked them away.

Einarr watched Zavat enter Aberforth and the gates had swung shut. He ignored the demons’ wails and walked back to the Jasmine Gardens where his friends had gathered.

Paulos observed his countenance then chuckled. “This is a serious mission, one where you’ll be in danger, so no different from your other lives.”

Katura wrapped her arm around her beloved’s arm and looked at him, worried. Einarr placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.

“Have no fear, Kat. I’ll be prepared.”

“Trust in his abilities,” said Paulos. “He hasn’t failed yet. I wish I were going with him. What fun.”

Katura only tightened her hold on Einarr.



Chapter Two

The Worst of Worlds


Their hero will guide the banished

(They trust but only one).

Prior knowledge he must possess

of life as the Lædere’s son.


Einarr delved into an intensive preparatory program with strong resolve to succeed at any challenge given to him. In his spare time, he and Katura sat in the Dome Room where they viewed thirteenth century life on Earth. A major plague had just wiped out large sections of the population. Yet, advancements in civilization were rapid.

Katura cringed over an attack on a dragoness’ youngling. “I never understood dragons and I’ll admit I’m frightened by their size and their gregarious behavior, but they don’t deserve this. After all, they developed the human race into an intelligent species.”

“When spirits become corporeal they change. Some remain moral; others forget about love, kindness, and tolerance. Our egotistical mortal minds fill with negativity, jealousy, hatred, and fears as we age.”

The dome swirled. When it cleared, a horrific scene unfolded. A male youngling was devouring a deer when a dragon slayer surprised him. Dragon hide, meat, and blood carried a high value, and so the knight began to skin the youngling. The mother arrived and bellowing, charged the knight, who defended himself with his poisoned-soaked sword. Zavat appeared above and called her to him. Tormented by her youngling’s death, she refused to listen.

The dragoness closed in on the knight and he took the opportunity to shove the weapon into her shoulder. With an anguished scream, she shredded him into pieces.

Zavat yanked her upwards by her leg even though she fought him. “Now,” he commanded.

“He murdered my youngling. I have a right to revenge.”

“You’ve carried out your revenge,” said Zavat. “Tu silius is gone. Other humans ride this way and you’re wounded. We must hasten to a doorway. I order you.” He tugged again and she dared not incur further wrath from her Grandus Lædere.

Four knights rode over the hill, their poisoned arrows at the ready. The dragoness had flown away, but Zavat waited for them. They froze in their seats in awe of the size and might of the black dragon, who hovered above them. He glided low and huffed his toxins, leaving dead bodies in his wake. Sensing that his son was watching, he turned towards Einarr. “Do you understand why I need you, mi silius? Come soon.”

Einarr rushed out and hastened towards the gates to confront the men on their return. He paused when he felt Apollo’s hand on his shoulder.

“Problem?” asked Apollo.

“Their actions were amiss.”

“Did you agree to greet them? Are you a Guide or in any of their circles? They’ll re-examine their choices and correct any offenses. You’ve assumed the youngling was innocent. His mother made no attempt to control him when he devoured two village children. All parties will soon understand their offenses. Have you forgotten about Lord Tsaemo? How long did he remain in retreat recovering from guilt and transgressions after the havoc he wreaked on Aberforth? Have you not had faults when in mortal form?”

Einarr sighed. “I’ll never understand the hatred and violence on Earth.”

“It’s the most difficult of our created planets, yet not the worst. The Void has earned that honor. How are your lessons?”

“I’m concentrating on tactical methods and the study of demons.”

“Then you’ll be prepared.”

Einarr calmed down and left to join Atomo for sword practice at their favorite spot.

In a rocky field, Atomo watched his friend approach and took a few practice swings. Einarr imaged his sword and the two engaged in a mock battle until Atomo stopped to rest.

“Sz-havat mentioned you’ll be working with dragons again,” mused Atomo.

“Why don’t you mate with her since you two are so chummy?”

“She already asked you on Aberforth, not me.”

“I haven’t forgotten. Sz-havat doesn’t know my true mission.”

“Yet dragons return daily, their wounds exposed. Lady Zanzzz and her family closely monitor Lord Zavat.”

“I can’t talk about my assignment.”

“How I envy you. I fancy an excellent skirmish again.” Atomo waved his weapon above his head and thrust it into a pretend enemy.

“The dragons perform mock combats in their domain.”

Atomo scoffed. “Not a real war like on Aberforth.”

“Will you ever stop striving to better me?”

Atomo knocked the sword from Einarr’s grasp. “Nope.”

“I concede. Enough for today. Join me with my circle in the Jasmine Gardens? I need to center myself.”

The weapons disappeared and the two proceeded to where the others awaited them. Einarr sat on the grass next to Katura and leaned back on his elbows. Chirr, his dog pal, laid his head on Einarr’s chest. Einarr petted him while Katura ran her fingers through Einarr’s hair, her bird companion Kek-Kek chirping away in a tree. Einarr inhaled the fragrant jasmine plants and relaxed, surrounded by those he loved.

Paulos amused the group with his favorite subject, Einarr’s behavior in corporeal form. “He chased Katura while she ran on foot and he was on horseback. That’s a classic. Why you forgave his treatment of you then….” Paulos mocked a frown at Katura.

“He did come to love me.”

“In Atlantis, when he dueled with Jenniere,” said Paulos, “and Katura interfered just in time to stop her from lopping off his conceited head. That’s one of my favorites.” Paulos and Jenniere slapped hands in the air.

“When he tried to choke Lord Zavat,” continued Paulos. “No, wait. When Lord Zavat suspended him over the ledge because of his disobedience. I’ve memorized that scene. It never grows old.”

“I aspire daily to reach your level of perfection, legendary Greek warrior,” joked Einarr.

“Maybe I’ll rub off on you yet,” teased Paulos.

“Einarr’s a strong spirit,” mused Atomo. “He becomes a powerful force when mortal.”

Paulos guffawed and altered his appearance to resemble a Greek tragedy mask. “He’s the model for countless tragic plays.”

“Thank you, Atomo.” Einarr turned to Paulos and mimicked a jester and Paulos laughed. Although Paulos joked about Einarr, he admired his tenacity, and Einarr took the kidding in stride.

Atomo often visited and fit in with the group. Although he blocked certain thoughts, Einarr suspected his reason for joining them.

The friends continued to banter back and forth until Apollo appeared. Einarr sat up.

“Let’s discuss the Void,” said Apollo.

“Einarr, what have you to do with that abyss?” asked Paulos.

Apollo sat on the nearest bench. “Shall we share in your experience? Tell us about it.”

“When I returned from Aberforth, mi patér and I reached the border gates. Not far away, our entrance gates stood. The in-between space belongs to the Void. It’s a cold emptiness steeped in darkness and uncountable horrors. When the two gates swung towards each other, they locked to protect me from the demons. I hesitated, but mi patér ordered me to cross before the gates separated, else the demons drag me into eternal torment. They called out my name as I crossed.”

Katura squeezed his arm.

“One of the many possibilities on his mission is to travel through the Void,” said Apollo.

“I pity the demons should he enter. He’s not much fun, you know.” Paulos smirked at Einarr, but then frowned. “Why is this realm allowed? Why hasn’t it and its occupants been obliterated?”

“All of the Creator’s children are granted freedom of choice. We don’t control any wills.”

“Those creatures harm spirits and mortals,” thought out Jenniere, “Why are they allowed to exist?”

“I don’t see the Cloak of Judgment on you, Jenniere,” replied Apollo. “We’re not their evaluators. We continue to work with them to bring them into the light and we have been successful. Prayers from other spheres assist in their salvation too. Help is always here for those who need us.”

Apollo turned his attention back to Einarr. “Do you recall when I suggested that if I travel there, you’ll accompany me? One of our precious spirit children, Mina, has been lured in. It’s imperative we retrieve her soon. In corporeal form, she fell for an evil one who controlled her every thought. One night in a rampage he took his life and hers then led her into the Void where he sucks upon her pure energy. She’s bewildered and her cries have begun to fade.

“I attempted to rescue her upon her return, but it was taking too long. I began to suffer from despair and disorientation until I realized I had to leave or become lost in there. Others have since attempted the same without success, but you possess indomitable strength from Lord Zavat. Will you give it a try?”

“They should be banned from mortality.” Katura blinked back tears.

“We mustn’t interfere with the free will of souls,” counseled Apollo.

“I’ll go,” volunteered Einarr.

“We’ll all go,” corrected Paulos and Jenniere together.

“Perfect, except for you Atomo. I need you to direct Einarr back if need be by controlling his rod of light. If you suspect he’s in peril you’ll pull him out. Alaniere will hold Jenniere’s light, and Quin Lan Jin will manage Paulos’. Bohlale will work with you, Katura. Obadiah from Mina’s group will search for her too. One from his circle will monitor him.

“Einarr and Paulos will head towards the corridor that meanders downward where I suspect she’s hidden. Jenniere, Katura, and I will work a different section, and Obadiah and the Elven King Traeviern Erbre-el will make up the final team. Seven is a fortunate number and will boost our powers.”

“Why does my father-in-law the king wish to aid us?” asked Einarr.

“For the same reason Obadiah does. If Mina isn’t rescued, your future lives on Earth can’t play out as intended,” explained Apollo, “plus Mina and Obadiah belong to the same circle. By the way, Einarr, Obadiah will be on Earth with you on this next trip and you’ll meet if you follow the correct path.”

Paulos jumped up. “I’m ready. I’ll gladly work with Bai.” He rubbed his hands together.

Einarr rolled his eyes. “You and Quinn? I haven’t much patience for you and your antics, let alone the both of you. I’ll relax here and you two go.”

“You enjoy my quests for adventure,” retorted Paulos.

“Why do you call him Bai?” asked Atomo. “I thought his name was Quin Lan Jin.”

Paulos grinned. “He’s called by many names. Quin Lan Jin is his formal title when in tiger form. Alaniere and I call him both Bai and Quinn.”

“Don’t encourage him or he’ll bore us with their stories again,” chided Einarr.

“At least our stories are funny. Yours are….” Paulos yawned and pretended to snooze.

“All will be as it should be,” counseled Apollo. “Here come Obadiah and Traeviern. Let’s discuss how we handle ourselves once inside. Remember our concern is to retrieve Mina, not to search out adventures.”

The others didn’t react to Mina’s name, but Einarr knew who she was. He understood too well her importance in the future when his entire circle traveled to Earth. He glanced at Paulos, who didn’t recognize Mina as his future wife Jesse.

Apollo smiled at Einarr. “Certain knowledge is given only to be forgotten for purposes known by our Higher Power.”

As King Erbre-el approached, Einarr knelt on one leg. “My father-in-law.”

“Welcome,” spoke Apollo out loud. “We are indeed honored by your presence.”

The Elven king stood taller and thinner than humans. His opaque skin shimmered; his round bulbous eyes looked fondly on his daughter Taelta’s husband, the Lone Hero of Aberforth, and motioned for him to stand. Around the king’s waist the Elven sword of power dangled and it hummed in recognition of Einarr.

Katura stared at the king then shyly turned aside. He smiled gently on her.

“Are you bothered by Einarr’s marriage to my daughter?” asked the king.

Katura shook her head no. “We’ll love many in our mortal forms. However, Einarr speaks with such admiration of you and yours that I’m ….”

“Intimidated?” asked the king. “We know Einarr’s heart, and his love for you is stronger than any love he has experienced or will ever experience. Both my daughter and I are happy for the two of you.”

After a tactical discussion, the group followed a road where two large iron gates stood. Apollo opened them and each took their positions. Atomo had wrapped his portion of Einarr’s beam around his hand. Quin Lan Jin, Paulos’ mythical acquaintance stood in human form next to him and had grasped Paulos’ cord.

Boisterous and good-natured, Quin Lan preferred to be called Quinn or Bai and made no excuse for his thunderous voice. His thick golden hair streaked with black hung tousled about his shoulders. His slanted amber eyes twinkled with humor and a desire for adventure. The definitive black birthmark of the Chinese symbol jade appeared high on the crown of his head. Brawnier than any human male, his arms and legs were toned like a wild tiger’s and he seemed ready to pounce at any given moment.

Quinn and Paulos laughed heartily as they discussed their former escapades.

“You’ll need patience for these two,” warned Einarr to Atomo. “They reminisce incessantly about when Paulos lived in ancient Greece.”

“They’re hilarious,” replied Atomo. “I’ve heard Paulos speak about his soldier days. Wasn’t he once an Olympic champion and war hero?”

“Yes, and he won’t let you forget it.”

“Now,” called Apollo. “Enter.”


Chapter Three

Mina


A plea relayed to those on high—

entreating he be sent.

The Lone One does accept the call

while demons plot his cruel torment.


Einarr and Paulos entered the main level of the Void and continued along a dirt path. They had saturated themselves in extra energy layers to strengthen their auras for whatever they might stumble upon.

The silence made them uneasy the farther in they went. Eerie grumbles began around them and Paulos yanked on his cord.

“Leave,” called the voices.

“You’re not welcome here,” echoed around them.

“Harm awaits within,” declared the unseen.

They entered into a subterranean dark cavern and the disturbances became louder. Moans, cries, agonized shrieks, and horrendous screams rang out around them. Shrouded images darted through the gloomy murkiness and brushed past them, chilling them.

They spread a dim glow from their hands along the ground as they continued. Rodents of assorted sizes scurried into the blackness, followed by evanescent bugs and misshapen creatures.

Paulos jumped. “That gigantic rat has glowing eyes. Weird.”

“It’ll continue on its way. It can only harm mortals.”

Einarr stepped over something that slithered near. Paulos did also. As they did, their lights reflected pudgy sand colored centipedes scurrying towards them, their mouths vacuuming along the ground.

“Centigamben,” noted Einarr. “Keep moving or they’ll crawl all over us and suck out our energy. If we were human, painful lesions would develop and soon after, a tortured death.” Both men waved their lights full force and the centigamben rustled into the tarry shadows.

“And this is only the beginning,” said Einarr. He got a whiff of an acrid odor and spun around brandishing an intense white rapier. An enormous brown Reptilia watched them. Its luminous green eyes bugged in and out of its sockets while its willowy hundred legs squirmed. Wriggling centigamben sucklings snuggled it giving it an undulating effect. As the crawling centipedes reached it they too wrapped around it. The vile sight took Einarr by surprise and he mustered his strength to avert its gaze. “Squint.”

“Already done. Can you move?”

The Reptilia rose above both men then leaned towards them. Its long pale tongue flickered in the air close to them and its young wriggled their tongues too. Einarr stretched the sword towards it and it backed away from the gleam.

Paulos had also produced a similar weapon and waved it below him in all directions. “Repulsive.”

“In our weakened states the adult drags us to its lair where they feed on us forever, its offsprings relentlessly toying with us,” said Einarr.

“No wonder victims cry out tormented.”

“I suspect several Reptilia are mimicking our steps this instant, waiting for an opportunity. Let’s implement a defensive strategy.”

Einarr walked forward while Paulos followed behind backwards. They circled their illuminations above and below them. Scores of centigamben scuffled away. Once sure of their safety, the pair released the images of the blades.

“That was intense.” Paulos snickered.

“Not funny,” countered Einarr, “you didn’t look into its eyes. It caught me off guard and I froze. It took a major effort for me to look away.”

“Ow. Einarr, these Tsii-fyres are swarming all over me. They’re draining my energy and it stings.”

“They show up right after someone enters to zap our strength. When they nip us, it feels like fire. They rip holes in our auras to slow us down and weaken us to give the demons within the advantage.”

“Nasty little bugs, aren’t they?” Paulos shone his light on them, but it had no effect.

“Use heat.” Einarr hastened to repair the holes in Paulos’ auric shield. Yet the tiny fire bugs persisted. Paulos shot fire at them and they swarmed Einarr instead. Hundreds fell to their deaths when Einarr and Paulos sprayed them with heat from their palms. The remaining hordes hastened away.

“Cute wee bugs. Did you notice how small those sparks were? What a fun party trick.” Paulos watched the trail of flickers the Tsii-fyres left behind.

“Only you would think of a purpose for them in our realm.”

“I wonder how Apollo deals with them when he’s alone.”

“His aura is stronger than ours, so I doubt they even penetrate it. We’ve barely entered. Much worse awaits us. You haven’t forgotten your soldier skills?”

“Once a Greek hero, always a Greek hero.”

Quinn’s excellent hearing caught Paulos’ comment. “With my support,” he reminded him and they both chuckled.

“Pay attention,” ordered Einarr.

They walked steadfastly onward when Einarr paused. “Careful. The path narrows.”

A sheer drop of utter blackness loomed to their left, but their attention turned to the right where filaments glimmered and a large object moved.

“A Vefa-Vefre’s web,” they said together in awe.

“Clever,” contemplated Paulos. “You’d want to shift right to avoid the cliff, straight into its snare.”

“Back away and I won’t harm you.” Einarr held his rapier towards the web, his eyes intent on a dark shape that glided down.

Paulos whistled. A huge glossy black arachnid scrambled towards them. Tiny red dots floated in its hollowed-out eyes. Yellowed razor-sharp fangs protruded from its viscous haired mouth. The creature clicked excitedly. “Comes plays with my other prettsy petsies. Youze makes nicey nicey and Ize won’ts hurts youze much. Teensy stings.” It snapped near Einarr’s head.

“What an offer,” scoffed Paulos. “Tough decision.”

“I decline your request,” Einarr mocked. “Now hear mine. Bother us no more or I will render you into many pieces.”

“May not kills. May not. Must plays kindly with me. Honorable spirits not harms. Youze is noble, I thinks.”

“I do as I like.”

“Haughty naughty spirit youze is.”

“Have you heard of the Lone Hero?” Paulos pointed to Einarr, but then his eyes wandered to a different section of the enormous web.

The Vefa-Vefre hissed and shuffled away. “Youze no causes trouble here, draconus-brute. Ize not touches youze. No harms me.” She spit. “Hates them draconem meanies, Ize do. Theys cruel.”

“I’m sure you live by the highest moral standards. Let’s go on.” Einarr balanced along the precarious path, weapon at the ready. Paulos hesitated, his attention still on a tortured prey tangled in the web. Drained of his strength, the spirit’s glint was all but gone and he mouthed the words, “Help me.”

“Einarr….”

“I noticed. On our return, we’ll free him.” He shone his light over the ledge where several hairy entities gathered below.

“Maybe she’ll be an adventure for another day. Who knows how many are caught, unable to free themselves.” Paulos grinned at the thought. “Quinn would have a great time.”

Einarr traversed the constricted space while Paulos held onto Einarr’s shoulder and tugged on his light cord again.

“I got your back.” Quinn’s voice boomed.

“Can’t you two be quiet? Mina’s not far now. I can sense her.” Einarr sent the message to Apollo.

“The king and Obadiah will wait for you. We’ll return to the entrance and keep the way clear,” advised Apollo. “Meet us there.”

Einarr and Paulos entered deeper into the Void. The path widened again and they swiveled their beams in the darkness around them. Paulos’ beam flashed on a tired woman covered in rags, who sat bowed over on a rock.

“Save me,” she moaned.

Paulos started forward, but Einarr stopped him.

“Uncover your face,” said Einarr.

“Too weak,” she replied.

“Because you’re not her.”

“Joyous day.” Paulos hooted. “I’d hoped we’d meet a banshee.”

The banshee whined shrilly. “Whom you seek is to the left behind you and down the chasm.”

Paulos grimaced. “Is that your best? Hoping we’ll fall down, are you? I lie better than that.”

“You dare accuse me of lies?” Her deafening screech echoed around them.

“If the rags fit,” retorted Paulos.

“I tire of this game. Mina’s straight ahead.” Einarr started forward.

With a drawn-out wail the banshee flew through Einarr, her grey ripped gown and ashen hair fluttered behind her. He scowled and wiped off her spectral dust while Paulos banished her image with a wave of his hand. Her wails followed her dissipated spirit as she sashayed into oblivion.

“What a waste of our time,” thought out Paulos.

“Exactly what she wanted to achieve.” Einarr continued down the trail.

“Disappointing. I thought they were scarier.”

“To superstitious mortals. Not to us.” Einarr noticed a dull light blinking sluggishly ahead. “There she is.”


*****


Meanwhile, Traeviern and Obadiah had arrived at the Vefa-Vefre’s web.

The spider snipped her talons at the king. “Goes away. Goes away, youze wicked murderer.”

The king held his Elven sword near her and she scurried away with a hiss. “Obadiah, meet Lisia. She’s bitter because her mate was a pathetic opponent.”

“Youze nasty-elfies hunts him then kills him, youze naughty elfie-kingish,” she rasped. Her legs performed a tarantella-like dance.

“We conducted a fair hunt and I allowed him an honorable death and let you go. You had, after all, caught several of our children in your snare and fed off them.”

Lisia shrieked. “Youze rude elfie kingish. Ize will slays youze.”

The king’s sword gleamed and Lisia backed up farther. He noticed the spirit glued to her web and he gave Lisia a warning look.

“Youze doesn’t touches it. My petsie. Mine. Ize plays with it. I trades youze for this prettsy all aglowsy?” Lisia snapped towards Obadiah then scuttled to the victim. She readied herself to inject her venom while her reluctant prisoner watched, horrified.

“No trades, and leave him alone.”

“Bossy elfie kingish. Youze as mean as the cocky biped Ize lets pass.” She prepared to bite her captive, but King Erbre-el casually slid the Elven sword between her and her victim. She discharged a thick glutinous mush from her behind and nipped towards Traeviern. “Gives me the meanie what crossed through here earlier and this glowsy thingie with you.”

“I’ve warned you not to harm my relatives.”

“He no elfish; he draconus-brute.” Lisia sputtered. “Hates draconem. Meanies theys is.”

“Yes, they’re rather vicious when they run into your kind.” To Obadiah he explained, “She speaks of Einarr. They attack ruthlessly and become obsessed with the kill, don’t they, Lisia? She’s not fond of dragons and they don’t like Vefa-Vefres in Aberforth. I suppose that’s why you’ve lost a leg?”

She clicked repeatedly. “So, he’s yourze also? Ize claims him. Youze steals my Sieno so youze gives him to me.”

“I will not. He’s my son-in-law and a powerful dragon’s son besides. You don’t want to mess with that dragon. Careful, Obadiah.”

She had attached a sticky strand to Obadiah and hung inches from him. The king sliced the filament. Obadiah hit her with pure energy and she squealed and climbed higher.

“Tricky elfie kingish with mean chumsy chum. I cares for my petsies and not stings them too often. I soothes them with sweet songs.” She screeched in a high-pitch, “Obeedeedee, filled with energy-y-y-y, comes to me-e-e-e.”

“Enough.” ordered Traeviern.

Lisia snapped at him and scurried farther up her web.


*****


Einarr and Paulos pushed through the dank murkiness and slid down a steep embankment to the lower grade. To their right appeared rows of shadowy curtains where phantoms were busy sucking energy from spirits. Farther away behind a curtain flickered the dim light of Mina.

To the left, the path was shaved even more. High above, across the abyss was a lofty rugged cliff. From it a shadow wiggled and landed in front of Einarr.

The large green serpent lay coiled, ready to strike. Its four heads opened wide to reveal eight sets of fangs. The heads moved independent of each other and each spit a green mucus. They hissed and snapped at Einarr. He scrutinized the cliff above where many more of the serpents were prepared to leap down.

“Einarr…,” said Paulos.

“I see them.”

“I don’t know what you see, but look behind and up.”

Einarr glimpsed behind Paulos. Two Vefa-Vefres scurried closer to them.

“Apollo, major trouble,” thought out Einarr.

Quinn started to roll Paulos’ line back.

“Don’t move!” ordered Apollo. “You must scare them away.”

King Erbre-el’s voice boomed throughout the Void. “If I were the half son of a dragon, I’d use my voice about now.”

“What does he mean?” asked Paulos.


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