Darius hardly expected a hearty greeting, but he did expect to be welcomed home like a hero and not as an enemy. This unfortunately was not the case. As he walked alone through the streets of his home town Har’vack citizens watched him from the shadows with hatred burning in their eyes. He had only been gone for a year and saved the Galorth Empire from total destruction, but no one seemed to care let alone congratulate him.
His brown hair whipped in the southerly wind blowing over form the Farlong Sea as he trudged through the ankle high mud towards the small shack on the edge of the cliff. He laughed bitterly as the shack came into view from the top of the cliff which over looked the vast sea which on the other side was the homeland of the Galorth Empire. Darius paused just outside the door of the shack and looked behind him with a good mind to turn away and leave, but pushed the thought away and rapped three times on the door.
It was around 1 minute before the door opened to reveal a tall straggly man standing there with lots of stubble and round blue eyes. “I thought you were dead,” the man said grumpily. “It would have been nice if you were.”
“Nice to see you too, Michael” Darius replied before shoving past and entering the shack. As his eyes adjusted to the dimness the smell of tobacco and dampness filled his nostrils almost making him gag. The door closed Michael re-appeared before sitting into a moth bitten armchair and gesturing to Darius to take the other.
As Darius lowered into the chair, Michael pulled small silver box from his jacket pocket and clicked it open to reveal some cigarettes. “Want one?” Michael asked gruffly, shoving the box towards Darius’s face.
“No thank you,” Darius replied politely as he watched Michael take a cigarette and lit it. “And it’s good to see you’re taking care of yourself,” he added sarcastically.
Michael inhaled through the cigarette before puffing out a mouthful of smoke which drifted towards Darius covering his face making him cough. “Just because you saved some bloody Empire doesn’t mean I like you now,” Michael warned as his eyes narrowed. “I still want to kill you in your sleep and so does half the village.”
Darius shrugged and leaned back in the chair before crossing over his legs and pulling a small notebook from his trouser pocket. “Shall we get down to business?”Michael grunted so Darius took that as a yes. “So I think you owe me 3,000 Har in total.”
“3,000?” Michael repeated slowly. “You honestly think I’m going to play you 3,000 Har because you killed Solmen? You must be joking lad.”
“It’s what you owe me,” Darius replied as he snapped the notebook shut. “And I will get my money from you even if I have to take it from your cold dead hands.”
Michael’s face spit a small grin before he started to laugh. “Is that a threat I hear?” He spluttered through his chuckles. “You couldn’t kill me even if you wanted to.”
Darius rose from the armchair and slipped his notebook back into his trouser pocket with one hand whilst the other twiddled with the hilt of the sword hanging from his side. “And why’s that?” He asked slowly to draw more time to think about his next move.
“Because the police will get you before you leave the village,” Michael replied as he also stood from his seat, his cigarette falling to the floor from his open hand. “And mark my words they will do that.”
The police in Har’vack are a nasty lot of men you never want to cross in a fight. They are the best at their job and have a 100% success rate at finding criminals and locking them up before they step a foot from the village. Today, Darius hoped he would break that record.
Darius smiled darkly before quickly looking towards the small grubby window to the left and making sure no one was looking. The next move was done swiftly as Darius pulled the sword from its scabbard and pointed he tip towards Michael’s throat before he had time to react. “I don’t want to kill you,” Darius growled. “But so help me I will to get my money.”
Michael look gingerly at the sword pointing at his neck as beads of sweat broke alone his hair line. “Look kid,” he stammered. “I-I know you won’t kill me, you don’t have the guts.”
Fire burned in Darius’s belly and he moved closer, pressing the blade against Michael’s throat drawing tiny droplets of blood. “I’ve killed hundreds of people without thinking twice,” he replied in a whisper, his mouth close to Michael’s ear. “Don’t start to think I won’t kill you too.”
Now Michael started to panic. “Darius,” he stuttered. The point is I don’t have the money, I only made the bet because I thought you were going to fail and so I would be rich.”
Darius glared angrily at Michael before pressing the blade of his sword a little deeper into Michael’s skin making him wince. “You are a piece of filth,” Darius growled angrily. “Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t just slit your throat and kill you form where you stand?”
“Because kid there is one thing you need to know about me,” Michael replied as he started to smile. “I always come prepared.” From behind Michael’s back came a small remote control with one large red button and Darius faltered and his face paled.
The remote was a high tech device which calls the Har’vack police with just one push of a button and by the grin on Michael’s face, he’d already pushed it. “Fuck,” Darius muttered as the door of the shack broke in a five policemen barged in each holding a crossbow aimed right at Darius.
“Move the sword away from his throat and put your hands in the air,” one of the policemen yelled as they began to advance.
Darius slowly lowered his sword away from Michael’s throat and began to raise his hands when there was a loud bellowing roar from outside. There was a snapping noise when the whole roof of the shack was torn away making everyone fall to the floor as the loud sound of wing beats mixed with the wind and sea.
There was a flash of white before one of the policemen crumpled to the floor with a long clean gash down the middle of his body. Then there was another roar and Darius squinted upwards to find a magnificent violet dragoness hovering just above the shack with gleaming amber eyes. “I thought you weren’t going to come,” Darius yelled through the confusion around him and then he smiled.
The dragoness glanced at him before reaching forwards with her long talons and hooking the back of Darius’s shirt before lifting him into the air with a roar. Below his feet the policemen were firing arrows in every direction whilst Michael began to drag the dead man towards the edge of the cliff to throw him over.
Darius heaved himself upwards so he was now standing on the dragoness’s foot before climbing up her scales towards the saddle on her back. With one last push, Darius was comfortably in the saddle as arrows continued to whizz past his ears. “Let’s get out of here,” he yelled through the sound of the wind and the dragoness roar in reply before pumping her wings and flying off back towards the town centre.
Suddenly there was another louder roar and Darius swung his head around to find four more policemen riding large black serpentine creatures which looked like shadows, each with blood red eyes and sets of sharp teeth. “Tavanions,” Darius muttered to himself before fixing his gaze to the front as the wind whipped his brown hair in front of his face. “We’re not out of this yet, Némein.”
The dragoness let out a bellowing roar before clasping her magnificent wings to her side with a snap and she plummeted towards the ground, the Tavanions right behind her. Darius grasped onto the saddle with all his might as Némein open her wings just above the tops of the houses and barrel rolled out of the way of a large fireball which hit a tree just in front of them. As he looked behind him he saw that the Tavanions where hot on their tail and they looked ready to kill. Darius patted Némein’s long serpentine neck and leaned over the saddle a little so his mouth was closer to her ear slits. “Let’s kick some ass,” he called quietly with a small smile.
Némein replied by spinning around and speeding towards the Tavanions before opening her wide jaws and hurling a large jet of deadly fire directly towards them. The Tavanions screeched and rolled out of the way with the Bobbies clinging on for dear life, but they still didn’t let go. Némein hurled another great jet of fire towards them, but the wind decided to blow and the fire licked the top of the houses below them making several townsfolk curse loudly.
“We need to take this away from the village before we burn someone!” Darius bellowed through the harsh sea wind. “It will just make things worse.”
Némein roared in response before she shot towards the cliff face and dived over the edge towards the sea. Darius screamed at the top of lungs as they plunged towards the foamy depths and his knuckled turned white as he gripped the saddle with all his might. Just before they reached the sea, Némein snapped open her large wings and her underside skimmed the top of the blue surface as they flew along. Behind them one of the Tavanions got their timing wrong and crashed into the sea with a loud screech of pain as it’s body burned in the sea. That’s the one good thing about Tavanions, water is deadly to their scales and if it touches them they burn.
Darius looked behind him as the three remaining Tavanions advanced with their long wings going up and down in rapid succession. Darius grinded his teeth together and returned his attention to the front as Némein rolled out of the way of a small stack of rocks without warning making Darius loose his grip. He screamed as he began to fall towards his doom when from above him, Némein roared and dove after him with her talons outstretched. The Tavanions also roared a dove after her with what looked like real fie burning in their blood red eyes.
The sea drew closer and closer when finaly Némein was in reach and she grabbed Darius in her talons and shot up away from danger as the other three Tavanions tumbled into the sea with bone chilling roars. Darius sighed heavily as everything went quite and Némein gave a loud snort before flying towards the large Black Forest in the distance.
After 5 minutes of flight they were skimming the treetops and Darius was back safely in the saddle. The sun was beginning to sink below the sea and eventually Némein landed safely in a large clearing in the Black Forest. Darius clambered down from the saddle and stretched out his tired muscles before checking his dragon over for any injuries. “You alright?” He asked Némein as he undid the buckles holding the saddle in place.
“I’m fine,” she replied shortly before settling down on the grassy floor as Darius place the saddle over a low handing branch. “But I would like if you stopped dragging me into dangerous situations like that because one of these days I won’t be there to save you.”
Darius settle down beside the violet dragoness before resting his back on her side and looking at her face. “Why is it that when you do decide to talk it’s not very comforting or useful information?” He asked Némein curiously.
“I am not one for nice words, Darius.” Némein replied with something which sounded like a chuckle. “If you want someone to talk to go find one of the dragons of the Northern Plains, they are the most talkative.”
“Where are you from them?” Darius inquired with a frown. “I thought you were from the North.”
Némein shook her head and cast her amber gaze towards the tall mountains. “I am from the Eastern Mountains,” She replied with a faint something which looked like a smile. “Our breed is known for our stubbornness and lack of words.”
Darius leaned back further into Némein’s side making her grumble in protest, but she didn’t say anything and instead glared angrily. “Tell me more about dragon breeds,” Darius said slowly. “You’ve never told me more than that you were stubborn and weren’t comfortable around other breeds.”
“If I do will you stop leaning on me?” Némein asked hopefully. “It’s rather painful.”
“Sorry,” Darius muttered as he moved away from the violet dragoness’s side to lean against the rough bark of a tree. “So tell me about the breeds and stuff.”
Némein sighed before casting her glassy eyes towards Darius who was leaning forward eagerly waiting for the story to begin. “There a four breeds of dragon,” Némein started. “The Nobles of the Northern Plains, the Lords of the Southern Forest, the Kings of the Western Sea and the Queens of the Eastern Mountains.”
She paused and closed her eyes for a brief moment before opening them and looking towards the mountains.
“The Nobles of the Northern Plains are huge and red with sapphire blue eyes which gleam in the sunlight. The Lords of the Southern Forest are rather small and green so they can maneuver the forest easily and blend in. The Kings of the Western Sea are magnificent blue drakes who live under the water in small caves built like a kingdom. And finaly the Queens of the Eastern Mountains are all dragonesses with different shades of purple scales with large wings with small claws on the end of each to climb the tall mountains.”
Darius gazed at Némein in amazement as she told the story and he edged closer to hear what was being said a little better. “Tell me more,” he interrupted. “I want to know everything.”
Némein glanced over at Darius before sighing and nodding her head slowly. “The four regions of dragons were decided during the huge dragon war which lasted for 5 decades until only drake and dragoness one of each breed was remaining. The eight dragons held a truce and moved off to re-build their breed and each pair swore to never let another breed of dragon enter their land without paying the price and it has been that way for over 10,000 years. Now the breeds live separate lives in peace away from humans because they are our mortal enemy because they hunt us for money of all things.”
She finished the story with a glance towards Darius who was now frowning in confusion. “Humans are your mortal enemy?” He repeated. “Then why are you letting me stay around you?”
“Because you have a good heart,” Némein stated. “Now no more questions.”
Darius opened his mouth to argue, but Némein growled angrily making him close it again and look away. The moon was now high in the sky and Darius was getting rather chilly so he decided to get some wood to build a fire to keep him warm. “Be careful, Darius.” Némein warned. “There are hunters and dangerous animals which live in the forest. It’s not very safe to wander around in the dark.”
“I’m 19,” Darius grumbled in reply. “I also have a sword; I think I can take care of myself.”
Némein snorted and rested her head on the ground as Darius moved off deeper into the forest in search of some firewood. The cold night air was rather refreshing and there weren’t any threatening noises, so Darius collected wood in peace before heading back to where Némein was resting.
He arrived back in the clearing with an armful of fresh wood and after making a small pile, Némein lit the wood with a short burst of fire. The two sat in silence until Darius stiffened a yawn and his eyelids felt heavy and he had to blink repeatedly to keep them open. “Sleep,” Némein persisted. “You don’t need to stay away to prove anything. I’ll keep watch.”Darius didn’t have the energy to even protest. His dully nodded his head rested it on a rock like a pillow before he curled up next to the fire and he fell asleep almost instantly.