Book I: The Alliance
Chapter 3- A New World
Chapter 3 of Dragon's Lament
Daylight shined over the broken town. Since the battle, known as Fire in the Night, poverty reigned supreme. Orphaned children covered the streets as beggars and thieves. Fields and trees were burned to the ground. Glyn was now a hollow shell of its former glory.
Drake Rinehart didn’t concern himself over any of this. He kneeled, hiding himself against the roofing tiles of a little bakery. Earlier, he’d climbed the ladder against the store wall. Now he waited, concerning himself not over his home and its fall to poverty, but of the man who’d taken his mother- Vladimir.
The town silenced with hushed whispers of fear. Women huddled their children inside. A dark cloud hung over the distressed town when the trio arrived.
Vladimir strode through the hostile town without an ounce of fear. He felt completely protected and secure with his two top guards in toe- Marcus and Ace adorning their black cloaks.
Marcus sneered at the poverty stricken town and narrowed his golden eyes dirty beggar children. This place was beneath him. Although Ace prattled on about a bunch of nonsense, Marcus could still sense the boy, feel his anger, and knew the moment he would strike.
“Peania flowers covered the whole field. It was beautiful really.” Ace spun around in a circle. Her silver hair bundled up in a high knot so that it would not get tangled.
“Do you mean petunia flowers,” asked Marcus.
Ace nodded with enthusiasm. “Yes. That’s what I said. Peania.”
Vladimir narrowed his eyes, annoyed. “Ace.”
Ace stood at attention. Her golden eyes were wide in attention. “Yes, my lord.”
Ace laughed. “Yes my lord.” She twirled as she walked.
Drake couldn’t take the laughing. ‘How dare they!?’ They shouldn’t be happy. They should be suffering.
Drake leapt off the roof, aiming his stolen blade for the nonchalant Vladimir. ‘His head will be mine!’
Marcus unsheathed his sword and stopped the 10-year-old in mid air.
“What?” Drake cursed, holding onto the sword with all he was capable.
Marcus added a little bit more pressure, amused that the boy had been able to hold on. When he did, Drake flew through the air and crashed against the brick wall of the shop he’d hidden on, only moments before.
Drake’s head throbbed as he felt the darkness trying to take over.
Marcus sneered, “Insolent child. Prepare to die.” He slid a pointed finger down his sword. The blade turned lava red at his touch. Fire encircled the blade and its master. Marcus let out a loud, maniacal laugh.
Drake felt the heat and braced for the worst. ‘At least I tried.’
“Stop this madness Marcus.” A blonde haired man stepped forth from between the shops. His skin was alabaster, eyes and hair golden. His arm was missing, but in his left, he held a sword. A clawed paw constricting a Lyutharian stone was the sword handle. A warm and eerily sincere smile etched on his face.
Marcus dissipated his attack immediately. The fire was erased. “What do we owe this pleasure Leon? Or should I say brother?”
“Hn. Marcus, have you sunk so low as to slaughter a child,” Leon asked.
Marcus sneered at Drake’s cowering form. “Wretched beast deserved to die. Arrogant child.”
Leon smiled, bemused. “This child is of no consequence.”
Marcus glared at his younger brother. “Yet. One day soon he could prove to be more than a mere nuisance.”
Leon placed his hand on his sword. “True, but you will not harm this child as long as I live.”
“Tch. Fine. Have it your way brother, but mark my words. If he tries this again, he. will. die.”
“Very well.” Leon let go of his sword.
Marcus turned to Vladimir and bowed his head.
Vladimir casted a sideways glance at Leon, nodded to Marcus, and then continued on his way.
Leon took a breath of relief, walked to Drake, and extended his hand. “Are you well child?”
Drake turned from him and grimaced at the pain in his side- and of his inability to stop Vladimir. “Leave me alone. I could’ve taken him.”
Leon let his hand fall to his side and looked to the bright sun. “Unfortunately not prince. Not yet.”
Drake looked up with curiosity in his eyes. “Not yet?”
Leon glanced at the hopeful boy and sighed with closed eyes. “I will train you.”
Drake looked at the sword at Leon’s side and remembered the nervous way Marcus looked at him. Drake wanted to strike the same fear in Marcus’ eyes, but Drake didn’t understand why this stranger would help him. “Why would you do that?”
Leon narrowed his eyes at the child, deciding how much to reveal. “You have guts and risked your own life for your mothers’ did you not?” Although, that wasn’t the whole truth, Leon decided to leave it at that. His sister told him to be quiet. Her visions were never wrong anyway.
Drake said nothing, but wondered how could he even know that. Leon wasn’t there when his mother was captured. No one in Glyn knew.
Leon smirked at Drake’s bewildered expression. “Meet me in the woods by the lone cabin by the waterfall at dawn tomorrow and I will tell you everything.” Almost everything.
“But my father…” Drake knew his father would never let him leave. Just today, he had to sneak out. Drake hadn’t been able to ride horses or even leave his home since his mother was captured. His father was totally despondent.
Almost as if Leon sensed Drake’s worry and reservations, Leon said, “Do not worry. Just be there.”
“Fine.” Leon disappeared in to the provincial town and Drake sat, wondering what was in store for him on the morrow.
“Father. I’m leaving,” said a worried Drake.
His father just stared blankly out the window in his mother’s chair.
Drake continued, “I’ll be gone for awhile. Leon said so earlier.”
His father continued staring out the window, but gave a single curt nod.
Drake left the cold, dark room only to find his annoying little brother with his hands over his now bloody nose from listening in on Drake’s one-sided conversation with his father.
“Drake, where are you going? Can I come? Please, please, please” he said it all in on muffled breath.
Since their mother’s departure, Kaius became even more of a bothersome leech to Drake’s dismay.
“No Kaius. You cannot come with me,” Drake said in a firm tone.
Kaius whined, “Why not?”
“Because I said so. Now go play.”
“I’ll just go ask father-” Kaius ran into the room.
“No don’t-” Drake sighed. It wasn’t like Kaius would get an answer out of him anyway. That was what he’d thought anyway, but he was mistaken.
“No!” Their father boomed. “Absolutely not!”
Drake froze. He’d never heard his father yell.
“But why?” Little Kaius cried.
“I can’t afford to lose another.” Their fathers’ voice broke.
Drake looked through the door and saw his father hold Kaius in his arms. Drake clenched his fists, utterly frustrated. Why couldn’t his parents acknowledge him? Why did they always baby Kaius? He shrugged his shoulders. One day they would acknowledge him. He promised himself this.
Drake rode his horse to the cabin he’d thought was abandoned in the woods. It still looked abandoned. The windows were dark and boarded up. The grass was beyond manageable. There was not a soul in his sight.
“Good. You found it.” Well… until now.
Drake almost jumped out of his boots when Leon showed up. Leon walked to the cabin and opened the door. “Don’t stand there and look like you’ve seen a ghost. Come inside.”
Drake snapped out of it and followed him.
Inside the cabin… well it was unexpected to say the least. Drake felt like he’d walked in to the armory at home or at least what it used to look like until Vladimir confiscated the weapons. All kinds of weapons lined the walls; swords, daggers, bow & arrows, axes, and shields. Books covered any last available space. There were many, many shelves of bottled liquids of different colors. A suit of traditional Yore Guard Special Class armor hung on the wall, and a huge carpet of the symbols of the four nations: Griffon for Glyn, The Goddess Sword for Yore, The Phoenix for Celestin, and Gears for Caldor. The four nations had a strong bond between them as well as a treaty. It was decided that regardless of their problems between nations, they would not fight lest it be the end of the world. It was apparent to all from the first Great War that they could easily destroy all life on the planet. That all changed when Vladimir came into the picture.
All Drake could say was, “Wow.” He ran up to the suit of armor with curious eyes. “Is that…?”
Leon sighed dropping off his kill and casting an ice spell over it. “Yes it’s a Yore Special class armor suit.”
“Cool.” Yore’s special class was very well known. Drake hung on the edge of his seat during the tales his father would speak of their bravery. They were known for slaying dragon’s, gryphon’s, and other legendary creatures.
Leon glared at Drake. “Quit gawking boy, we have work to do.”
Deep in the woods of Glyn, Drake began his training.
“Child. Pay attention,” Leon shouted.
Drake picked up his wooden sword again. “Sorry.” He was trying to focus, but his mind constantly wondered to his parents and anger towards Vladimir.
“Do not apologize. I am turning you into a warrior. I want a ‘Yes’ from you.”
Drake winced. “Sorry.”
Leon knocked Drake’s sword from his hand, grabbed his arm, and knelt to Drake’s level. Drake could see the whites of Leon’s eyes and his gold menacing irises. He was very much afraid to the point of shaking.
“Listen to me boy. If you want to see your mother alive and your family happy again, I want a ‘Yes’ from your puny lips. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes what?” Leon stood.
Leon jabbed his sword to Drake’s throat. “Hesitation leads to death. You must always be confident in your choices, even if they are incorrect.”
Leon smirked. “Good. Now again!” He threw the sword to Drake.
Over the course of many moons of training, Drake became strong and quick-witted. Gone was the young, ignorant, and selfish child. Drake was becoming a cunning warrior. He was a determined student and went over and above what was asked of him. If Leon wanted twenty push ups, Drake would do fifty. Drake was stronger than ever before and, unfortunately, was becoming cocky.
Drake slashed at the tree over and over, again and again. He was much taller now as a growth spurt took place of the many moons and his muscles were well defined. “This is utterly pointless. I don’t feel any stronger.” He clenched his sword so tight, his knuckles turned white. He then slashed the tree so hard, the sword flew across the clearing. “Dammit all.”
He walked to his sword and just as he reached down to pick it up, a mountainous roar echoed through the forest.
Drake smirked, knowing that particular roar. It was a genuine Gryffon. Glyn revered the mighty beast and in turn, the Gryffon terrorized its people. The entire nation of Glyn respected the beast so much so that Glyn’s symbol was made after the Gryffon. Drake wanted a challenge and he found one.
Leon shook his head at the impatient boy and smirked. It seemed like Drake would need to learn the hard way. Drake reminded him of himself when he was that age. Leon clenched his open arm sleeve. ‘But that was a long time ago.’
Drake scaled the cliffs north of the village using the vines hanging from them. Step by step, he climbed higher and higher. His arms, strength, and stamina waned by the time he was only half way there. ‘Just one more,’ he told himself again. He grabbed ahold of the next vine. The vine slipped, tore away from the mountain, and Drake came crashing to the ground below.
“Ow…” Drake groaned. He flickered his eyes and was met with a tiny angular face with the size of a doll. “Woah!” He bolted upright and massaged his head. “I must’ve hit my head-hard,” said Drake.
“I’ll say.” The angular faced male flew over to Drake after Drake threw him backwards.
Drake blinked. Was he talking to a… faery? “What are you?”
“A faery, foolish boy. Actually, I am your guardian faery.” He bowed elegantly.
Drake scooted away from the winged creature. “My… my what?”
The faery crossed his arms. “Well to be fair, I am your essence. What makes you- you. The only reason you survived that fall was because I saved you.”
Drake couldn’t help himself and burst out laughing.
The faery crossed his arms. “What is so funny?”
Drake scowled. “I’m no faery moron.”
The faery taunted Drake. “Tsk. Tsk. No. Your essence or soul created me. Not you, measly human whelp. You don’t have that kind of power.”
Drake stood and dusted off his pants. “Whatever. I have a Gryffon to slay.”
“Tsk. Tsk. Slay you will not, Drake Rinehart of Glyn. You are yet too weak.”
“I’m not! I’ll show you, I’ll show all of you!” Drake grabbed a vine from the side of the cliff and pulled himself up… only to fall again. Drake breathed heavily. “Damn. Damn it all.” He huffed.
The fae laughed.
“Shove it fly.”
The faery glared at Drake. “I am no fly. You will address me as Vaughn Lure.”
Drake raised an eyebrow. “What kind of name is that?”
The fae rolled his eyes. “Just call me Vaughn.”
“Whatever. How do I scale this cliff?”
Vaughn peered up the tall cliff. “It is a test of strength and will, but strength is what you lack.”
Drake glared at the faery. “I am strong.”
Vaughn sat on Drake’s bent knee. “Strong of will and heart, maybe. But not of body and that is what matters.”
Drake sighed. “How do I get strong?”
“By increasing your muscles and endurance. It takes time. Go past your limits everyday and endure more and more everyday. There are no shortcuts in life. Lucky breaks, yes. But no shortcuts for earning anything truly worth it.”
Drake scratched his head. “So the training Leon was having me do…”
“Was to increase your endurance, yes,” said Vaughn the faery.
“Ugh.” Drake shook his head. “This is ridiculous.”
“Maybe for one so young it is, but all things take time and practice, so you best continue now.” Vaughn motioned Drake back to the forest to train.
Drake shook his head and sighed. “Very well.”
Three months past and Drake trained day in and day out. Everyday he tried to scale the cliff and everyday he failed, but always climbed a little higher each time.
At the end of the three months, Drake finally succeeded scaling the cliff. Huffing and lacking air, Drake walked to the lone cave and peered inside.
The Gryffon slumbered in the darkness breathing deeply. It’s feathers rustled every few moments. It looked like a lion with a birds’ head. It’s talons, however, were longer and stronger than Drake’s forearm.
“Now’s your chance. Kill it while it sleeps,” Vaughn whispered.
Drake sauntered into the cave. “I have not spent three whole months just so I could be a coward.”
“Don’t be a fool!” Vaughn called.
Drake lifted his sword over his head and ran towards the Gryffon. “Prepare yourself beast!”
The Gryffon opened its feral amber eyes and swished its three pronged tail, sending Drake flying. Drake stabbed his sword into the ground and stopped his skidding across the ground. The Gryffon roared and charged towards Drake.
Drake pulled his sword out of the ground and dodged the first tail. The second tail tripped him and the third sent Drake flying towards the rocks. Drake stuck out his feet first and rolled to the ground. Just as Drake regained his footing, the Gryffon was on him. The Gryffon slashed him with his tails and cornered Drake. The Gryffon opened its beak. A ball formed glowing with white rays. Before the Gryffon was able to attack, a blue light overcame it.
The Gryffon recovered quickly and was on its feet with ease. It turned to its new opponent and roared.
Leon smirked. “Oh. So you don’t want me to take your prey away? Sorry, but I can’t comply with your request.”
“Leon!” Drake called.
“Don’t move Drake,” he warned. “It won’t go easy on you a second time.”
Drake couldn’t believe the beast was going easy on him until the Gryffon fired a lightning ball at Leon. Leon flicked it away with his sword.
Drake watched in horror as the Gryffon fired multiple lightning balls in quick succession.
Leon expertly dodged each one of them. It was almost a like a dance as Leon was so smooth about it.
The Gryffon dug its paws into the ground and gave a mighty roar before charging for Leon.
He smirked. “Foolish beast.”
Leon’s blade turned blue and the Gryffon flew through the air. Leon lifted his sword towards the heavens and a dark cloud formed above him. The cloud sparked and lightning struck the Gryffon.
The Gryffon fell to the ground unconscious and the dark cloud dissipated. Leon glared at Drake who cowered on the ground. “You still understand nothing!” He pulled Drake to his feet. “Come. I will show you.”
Drake hesitated to follow him. He looked at the beast either in peaceful slumber or death. Drake shivered.
“Come now boy.”
Drake leapt up and followed Leon in fear of what he’d do if he had disobeyed.
Leon led Drake to the edge of the cliff. He grabbed Drake’s arm and whispered something in a different language and jumped with Drake helpless to escape.
“Are you crazy?” Drake grabbed on to Leon and held on for his life as they fell through the air.
They landed safely without so much as a scratch. Leon shrugged Drake off and stepped to the forest.
“Just watch and pay attention.”
Drake nodded. Leon held his sword out and a bright blue light encased it. He slashed at a tree. A screeching sound echoed throughout the forest as a blast of bright light obliterated not only the tree; it annihilated a whole section of the forest. All that was left- was a sparking light after the incident. Birds and other animals of the forest ran away from the damaged area.
Drake shook down to his boots utterly helpless.
“Now do you understand, Drake Rinehart, that you are weak and cannot beat Vladimir at your meager strength when even I am incapable?”
Drake clenched his fists unable to speak. The only thought that ran through his mind was ‘I must get stronger.’