Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Divide 2 Ch.03

So, we're almost to the end! There will be 1 more chapter...... maybe 2 depending how it goes. 

Let us know what you think :)



The dragons dropped to a low altitude as they flew, staying away from the strong winds between the peaks made them work harder to stay in the air. Keeping them moving kept their blood pumping. The red scales stuck out like a sore thumb in the white landscape, and as the delicate flakes of snow fell on their wings they dissolved quickly into nothing but vapor. By now, Xavier and Terrin were soaked with the water from the snow and were only kept safe from hypothermia by the dragons warm flesh. Terrin had moved from his relaxed position to one that clung to Zans neck, absorbing all the heat he could. Xavier had followed suit and was hugging Lewt with all of his strength.

“What is the green dragon doing out here, anyways? I thought his kind liked the swamp?” Xavier asked.

“They do, I’m not sure why he would be here. They don’t like the cold anymore than we do,” Zan said.

“We’re here, this is where we fell,” Terrin pointed down to a dent in the snow, the crater where Zan had hit the earth.

“He came from that direction,” Zan turned his body to fly in the direction he indicated. He remembered the stripe of green in the snow as the dragon had caught Terrin.

“He shouldn’t be too hard to spot. Big, green, ugly, and a bad attitude.”

“That’s not very nice,” the ancient voice filled their head. All four of them screamed, the dragons nearly bumping into each other as they flew wing-tip to wing-tip. Zan looked up and realized the old dragon had been flying not far above them, gliding on wide green wings.

“How long has he been there!?” Xavier shouted.

“I have no idea,” Zan shook his head.

“Come, get yourselves out of the cold,” the dragon banked hard to the right and soared up to a tall peak, landing on a nearly invisible cliff ledge and disappeared inside a cave.

“Do we follow him?” Lewt asked.

“If he’s the one making the dragons sick, that doesn’t seem very safe,” Xavier mumbled.

“We don’t have a choice, we came here to find him and we did,” he shrugged. Zan banked to the right, followed by Lewt.


Their footsteps echoed on the cave floors. Terrin expected it to be dark and empty but it wasn’t. The cave was more like one long tunnel, straight back into the mountain. The blizzard outside blocked out what little sunlight there was, but that didn’t mean the cave was dark. A strange gas floated around the top half of the cave, emitting and eerie green glow. Terrin knew that the green dragons had always been the strongest of the dragon broods. They were the oldest and had mastered many forms of magical and natural abilities that humans and other dragons had never even heard of. That is why the humans had wiped them out. They lived the closest to the human lands and they were the biggest threat.

The walls were covered with paintings and drawings of dragons, all of them green. They seemed to be done with different colored herbs and small bowls of the colored paste were placed closed to the walls, obviously ready for use whenever the dragon decided to continue his paintings.

“Well this is depressing,” Zan said.

“Life is a depressing thing,” Lestrazar said, not turning to look at them as he continued to walk through the cave.

“On second thought, Zan. I don’t think he’s the cause of all of this. God knows that bitter magical dragons with depression never do anything unreasonable,” Terrin raised an eyebrow.

“Terrin!” Zan hissed.

“You think I’m the cause of the madness overtaking the rest of my species?” Lestrazar stopped and turned to face them.

“That’s why we’re here,” Terrin gestured to the group. “Are you honestly telling me that you appearing again right after the other dragons start getting sick is just a coincidence?” Terrin asked.

“Yes,” Lestrazar seemed unphased by the question. Terrin rolled his eyes.

“If it’s not you, then who is causing this?” Zan asked, as black liquid dripped from his eyes. He rubbed them with the back of his wing, black drops falling to the ground.

“Zan...” Terrin turned away from Lestrazar and touched his mate comfortingly.

“Hm, you’re sick,” Lestrazar muttered.

“He’s fine,” Terrin snapped, and wiped the black liquid from Zans snout. Lestrazar scoffed.

“Quiet, you overgrown lizard,” Terrin grumbled.

“Terrin...” Zan hummed. Terrin sighed and rolled his eyes.

“I’m not doing this. Why would I kill my own kind? If it was humans getting sick that would be different...” Lestrazar grumbled.

“I don’t think he’s lying, Terrin,” Zan said. Terrin stared at him for a long time.

“Then do you know what this is?” Terrin asked, gesturing to Zan. Lestrazar took a few lumbering steps and squinted his glowing eyes at the smaller red dragon.

“Hmmm...” he grumbled. He turned around and before Terrin could blink a tall human man stood there. He wore green armor with a jeweled cape trailing behind him. He stepped up to one of three bookshelves Terrin hadn’t seen before and pulled down a book. With a thumb on the corner he let the pages fly down until he stopped, flipped a few more pages, and let his finger trail down the page. “The Red Plague,” he tossed the book down to the stone floor at Terrins feet. Terrin bent and picked up the book and looked at the unusual lettering.

“I can’t read this...” Terrin frowned.

“It’s Draconic, even most dragons can’t read it anymore,” Lestrazar shrugged, a very human gesture.

“Why is it called The Red Plague, if it’s black?” Lewt stepped forward, her claws clicking on the floor of the cave.

“It’s not the symptoms the name refers to, it’s the source,” Lestrazar said, as he began flipping through a purple book he pulled from the shelf. He did the same thing, flipping through pages quickly, stopping, turning a few more, and then holding the book out for Terrin to see. “It’s a Mors Roseus. Red Death.”

“These flowers, they’re the ones that grew on the divide...” Xavier mumbled.

“I thought they grew naturally, they look like the ash flowers that grow by the lava pits,” Zan pointed out.

“They’re almost identical,” Lestrazar nodded. “I thought they were extinct,” he shrugged. “I suppose not.”

“These are causing the sickness?” Terrin asked.

“Most likely,” Lestrazar nodded his head once.

“Then we destroy them,” Lewt said, smoke and flames licking her leathery lips as she opened her mouth in a growl.

“That won't work, the ash from the flowers could cause even more damage if inhaled, the pollen is what causes... all of that.” Lestrazar gestured to Zan, whose eyes had glazed over black again.

“Zan?” Terrin asked.

“I’m... fine.” He shook his head but the black eyes stayed. Terrin swallowed and turned back to the book as Lestrazar translated it over his shoulder.

“It’s basically an allergy. Only some respond poorly to the pollen, others can stand right next to the stuff and would be fine. Burning them, however, will spread the ash, and the pollen with it. The actual flowers are poisonous, as well. So that means humans and dragons alike will be inhaling the toxic mess,” Lestrazar said.

“Okay, easy fix, we just figure out a way to get rid of the flowers, without burning them, and we’re good, right? I don’t care if I have to get the entire kingdom out there with pocket knives and flower baskets, we’ll get rid of the damned things,” Terrin shut the book, letting a puff of dust out from between the pages.

“Well, not so much,” Lestrazar stood up straight, after being bent over Terrins shoulder to read the book.

“What?” Xavier frowned.

“The flowers... they wouldn’t have grown naturally. I told you, they’re extinct. I’ve been around a long time and I haven't seen a single one of those things for hundreds of thousands of years,” Lestrazar shook his head. “The only way one would find one, especially so close to home, would be if someone saved the seeds and planted them.” Lestrazar looked at each member of the small group, before taking the book back from Terrin and shoving it back onto the shelf.

“So somebody purposely planted the flowers?” Zan whispered.

“Who would do that?” Terrin asked.

“I know there are some people still against the dragons and humans coming together, but no one with the resources or the willpower to do this,” Xavier shook his head.

“This is ludicrous!” Lewt shouted. “Why would someone do something like this?” she asked Terrin.

“I don’t know,” he shook his head.


“Do you think we should have asked Lestrazar to come back with us?” Terrin yelled over the wind.

“He may not be the one causing the flowers to grow, but I wouldn’t trust him around a city of humans. Dragons can hold grudges for a very long time,” Zan chuckled.

“Good point,” Lewt smiled a reptilian smile.

“What is that?” Xavier said, over the chatting friends.

“What's what?” Terrin looked in the direction Xavier was. The clouds were thick but Terrin knew that the coast was in that direction.

“That...” Xavier pointed, and Terrin finally saw it. Three ships sailed close to each other, and between them was a large, blue, water dragon. The serpent's body was twisted and wound around the boats. Both of its heads were busy blasting the wooden ships with jets of water, sending splintered pieces of wood and tattered sails everywhere.

“Zan, we have to help them, turn us around,” Terrin instructed, and Zan banked hard to his right, sending them towards the coast.

“Terrin, I don’t mean to contradict you, but fire and water don’t mix well,” Lewt banked so that she was flying wingtip to wingtip with Zan again.

“We have to do something, we can’t just let them die. They’re well within the designated shipping lanes, they must be sick,” Xavier said.


“No time for talking, take us down Zan,” Terrin said. Zan dipped his wings and circled the area, several sailors looked up when the large shadows were cast over the ships. The dragon roared and Zan banked just in time to avoid a blast of water to the face. “Drop down, we’ll have to take them off the ships before they sink,” Terrin shouted. Without a word, Zan dipped down even lower until he was flying in circles around the ships. He spread his wings wide enough to slow down and before he could even touch his large feet to the smooth wood of the ship, a blast of water knocked both him and Terrin into the water.

“Terrin!” Xavier shouted, and Lewt let a large blast of flame into one of the water dragons head. Steam rose into the air and covered the ships, and the dragon roared in agony, before diving under the water. Terrin bobbed to the surface and coughed hard. He looked around and when he realized that his lover hadn’t surfaced he waved to Xavier.

“He hasn’t come up yet!” Xavier shouted down to him.

“We can’t swim!” Lewt reminded them both. Terrin dove underwater but came back up seconds later.

“I can’t see, it’s too deep,” he shouted. Lewt looked around before she soared down to the ocean and dipped a toe in the water, allowing Terrin to grab on. She lifted them to the deck of one of the boats and set them down. Terrin covered his face and sobbed.

“Terrin...I...” Xavier didn’t know what to say. Suddenly, the ship heaved and began turning onto its side.

“It’s sinking!” Lewt said, and spread her wings ready to take off again.

“No, look...” one of the sailors pointed as a black claw hooked over the side of the ship, and a steaming scaled mass lifted itself onto the deck. Zan coughed, letting chunks of burning spit and water out onto the deck, where it steamed and fizzled out. Terrin stood and hugged the dragon hard.

“We need to get everyone out of here, he’s not going to stay gone for long and this ship is going down fast,” Lewt growled. Xavier climbed back onto her back and Terrin stroked Zan as he brought himself back up to his feet, coughing and hacking some more.

“Can you fly?” Terrin asked. Zan said nothing, but nodded. “Okay, everyone up, pick a dragon. Ten at a time, no more.” They took no more than thirty seconds to tie people with soggy ropes to the dragons legs and necks, before they were lifted up off of the boat and began flying to the shore. By the time they landed on the sandy banks, Zan was able to speak again. His own red scales had steamed and sizzled until all the water was gone.

“We need to go back, we still have two other ships,” Xavier said. As soon as the words left his mouth, an ear shattering roar lifted from the ocean. They all turned and soon realized it wasn’t a dragon’s roar, it was the roar of waves as the snake-like creature burst from the water, half of a ship in its jaws. Its eyes leaked black fluid like a waterfall and its jaws crunched the ship into tiny shards of wood. As the serpentine body bent and swayed outside the water, it collapsed, landing on the remaining inhabited boat.  The waves and sea foam died down, and the dragon was gone. “Never mind,” Xavier whispered.

After twelve hours of searching the ocean for survivors, they were finally home. Terrin had called all ships and closed the ports down until the water dragon was found, and dealt with. He knew it wouldn’t last though, if they got rid of one sick one, another would replace it.

“What do we do, Terrin? Someone here is trying to get rid of the dragons, and they’re willing to do some pretty extreme things to do that,” Zan said as he collapsed onto the large bed that he and Terrin shared.

“I don’t know... first thing tomorrow we’ll find out who would even have the means and the know how to keep the seeds of those Red Death flowers, and we’ll go from there...” Terrin said, and before Zan could reply they were both asleep.


Terrin woke and the bed was empty. He frowned and stood up, looking around for his love. He stood and got dressed as fast as he could, before leaving his room to find Zan.

He found him in the library. His mate had several books lying in front of him and all were open to various pages. A stack of books sat in the corner of the table, stacked as tall as Zan was.

“What are you doing?” Terrin asked.

“You were tired, I let you sleep and started an investigation myself,” Zan mumbled, not looking up from his book.

“Find anything?” Terrin asked.

“I went into town and asked around several of the alchemy shops. They all laughed in my face when I asked if they had any seeds of the Red Death,” Zan explained, finally looking up from his book. “So after that, I started asking different mages and spell casters. None of them knew of anyone who had any of the seeds or flowers,” Zan said. Terrin sighed. “But, when I asked if they knew anyone who would have the desire to wipe out the dragons, everyone gave me the same answer,” Zan turned back to his books.

“Which was?”

“The Necrovir Draco,” Zan said.

“I never payed attention when I was forced to learn Latin,” Terrin admitted.

“It means, loosely, Dragon Killers. They’re an old, old, old clan of knights and warriors whose only goal in life was to wipe out the dragons. They’re the ones who really pushed the war to start. They used to inhabit your kingdom, but were forced out hundreds of years ago. The king then, your great great grandfather, was the one who declared war on the swamp dragons. When the Necrovir joined the war, that’s when they were really wiped out. But not without a cost,” Zan stood up and walked over to a different open book, pointing to the page with a picture of several armed men fighting a large swamp dragon.

“The Necrovir were very powerful, they were generation upon generation of dragon slayers. Father taught son, who taught his son, who taught his son. You get it. This made them amazing allies in the war, but the downside was that they would stop at nothing to kill a dragon. Even if it meant sacrificing their own men.” Zan walked to a different book, Terrin following close behind. “Because they were such ferocious warriors, they were promoted to the rank of general remarkably quickly, so they had control of hundreds of troops. They would make up a fake battle plan and explain it to the king, getting him to approve it. But when it came time for battle, they would revert to a different plan. Using foot soldiers as live bait while they slayed the dragon. Thousands died at their hands and soon the kingdom was nearly out of soldiers. Luckily for you, the war ended quickly after the green dragons were wiped out. Unknown to us, you had no troops left to fight,” Zan leaned against the table.

“So where are they now?” Terrin asked.

“Gone. As far as everyone knows they were wiped out before your father became king. With dragons no longer an immediate threat, they had no use,” Zan shrugged.

“Then how could they be responsible. You’re saying dead knights brought back a dead flower to finish making the dragons dead?” Terrin asked.

“No. What I’m saying is... we thought the flower was dead, but it isn’t,” he clarified. Terrin stared at him, confused, before his eyes lit up.

“You think they’re still out there,” his eyes went wide.

“Yes. They’ve been very careful though, I went to the couriers nearby.” Zan grabbed a scroll that was marked with their kingdoms carriers seal. “He says there have been quite a few dragon killings, people just chalked it up to the Red Death, but look,” he unrolled the scroll and showed it to Terrin. “It says the dragons heads were severed, and their horns, teeth, and spikes missing. People thought it was just looters or bandits looking to make a little extra cash, since all of those are used as alchemy ingredients, but...” Zan ran over to the other side of the table again, back where he had started. “Look at this.”  Zan held up one book open to a picture of a man in armor. At first he didn’t see what was so important. Then he saw it.

The man's armor was made entirely of dragon parts. Horns decorated his shoulders, and teeth protected his eyes inside his helmet. Spikes were welded into the armor, which was made of dragon hide from the looks of it.

“Their armor is made from harvested dragon parts,” Terrin nodded.

“Which have been banned since you became king. I hardly doubt that would stop some ‘dead knights’ though,” Zan grated.

“So they are out there... do you think they could have gotten a hold of Red Death seeds?” he asked.

“They’re a secret society who have gone undetected for hundreds of years. What do you think?” Zan asked.
“I think we have a lead.”

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Divide 2 Ch.02

Hello, loyal readers! I know it's been a long time coming... but, we have the next TWO chapters of The Divide 2 done, and are working on the fourth!

So, without further adieu, Gweall and I give you the next chapter of The Divide 2 :)


“Are you alright, Terrin?” Zan asked telepathically, as Terrin settled into the spot he normally sat in while riding Zan.

“Just a little nervous. I think the fall shook me up more than I realized,” he laughed nervously.

“I’m so sorry,” Zan said, obviously feeling guilty.

“Don’t be, just have to get back on the horse, right?” Terrin joked. “Even if the horse is a scaly fire-breathing reptile,” he chuckled.

“I’ll take it slow until you get used to it again,” Zan said, and took off smoothly. Terrin settled down quickly, his heartbeat slowing to normal as soon as they were soaring above the tops of the buildings to the city.

“There they are, land in front of them,” Terrin yelled over the wind that whipped his hair. Zan said nothing, but did as he was asked and landed carefully. He stayed in his dragon form, listening as Terrin made his speech. “Men and Women of the Imperial Army, you are our hero’s today!” Terrin began. Zan tried to focus on Terrin’s speech, and looked through the large crowd of hundreds of soldiers. Many eyes were on Terrin, but a few strayed to the dragon before them.

Zan was silent as Terrin continued to speak, shifting back and forth on his feet as he began to get nervous. He looked around at the sky. Terrin had asked before they left if he could stand on Zan’s head to get more height, and Zan had agreed, lifting him up far above the crowd so they all had a good view of their king. But now, as the nerves took over and he began scanning the sky to find the source of his nervousness, Terrin nearly lost his balance.

“Zan...” he hissed, looking a tad embarrassed. He got down on one knee and bent over the side of Zan’s snout to look him in the eye. “What’s wrong.”

“I-I don’t know. I’m just getting a weird feeling,” he whispered with his telepathy.

“I’ll send some patrols out, would that make you feel better?” Terrin asked.

“Yes. Thank you, my mate,” Zan said, relieved that Terrin cared. Terrin climbed down his back and whispered something to Xavier, who nodded and sent a few of the surrounding guards out to circle around the group, searching the skies for any threats. Terrin climbed back up, and resumed his speech. But even the guards didn’t soothe the sickening feeling in Zan’s gut. He shifted back and forth nervously on his feet. Look at the crowd of humans before him. Why were they looking at him? Why were they staring at him like that? He hissed as he reared up on hind legs, sending Terrin sprawling. He grabbed Zan’s snout as he fell, holding himself up with one hand.

“Zan!” he swore. Zan fell to the ground and Terrin took the chance to drop to the soft grass below. He stared up at the behemoth, who made a few grunting sounds, before opening his mouth and coughed hard, sending a spray of black liquid in front of him. It covered the first few rows of soldiers, and all of the grass in front of him, barely missing Terrin.

“Zan?” Terrin shouted, now concerned, he stood quickly. “Zan, what’s wrong love, talk to me!” he begged, putting a hand on the large beast. Zan quickly looked down at him, yellow eyes unblinking. The look was similar to the day they met, filled with fear and a hint of rage. But the difference was, the usually bright yellow eyes were laced with black veins running through them to his pupil. Without saying a word, he drew in a deep breath and bathed the ground in fire. Terrin grunted as he was tackled to the ground by a shocked Xavier.

“What the hell has come over him?” he asked, as Zan turned his fiery spray to the soldiers who had scattered in fear.

“I don’t know! His eyes are...” Terrin didn’t want to say it. If he said it, it was true.

“Sire, he’s sick. You know what we have to do,” Xavier said.

“No! He is your king and you won't!” Terrin stood. Zan roared and snapped at any soldier who got near him. All of them now wielding swords.

“Sire, don’t!” Xavier shouted, as Terrin ran up Zan’s turned back and climbed to his usual spot.

“Listen to me, damn it. Zan!” Terrin shouted. Zan reared back and roared, letting loose another spray of fire into the air. Terrin climbed higher until he was looking into Zan’s yellow- black eyes. “Stop it! You’ve already killed people!” he pointed to the crowd before him. Several soldiers lay dead on the ground, charred to only black lifeless forms. Zan stopped roaring, but his pupils remained dilated and his breathing was shallow. “Snap out of it,” Terrin said, as Zan lowered his wings back to the ground to stand on them, his breathing slowed. Terrin watched as the black lines in his eyes retreated until they were no longer visible. Zan blinked.

“Terrin?” his telepathic voice sounded weak. “My head...” he moaned and fell onto his side on the ground. Terrin climbed down and stroked his snout.

“It’s okay. It’s going to be alright, love,” he whispered. Several imperial guards stood at the ready, swords and shields bared. “Put those down goddammit, he’s your king and you will show respect!” Terrin snapped. Zan whimpered in Terrins head. “Shift out of your dragon form, love. Let me take care of you,” he said. Zan did as he was told, and before anyone could blink he sat in a bundled form on the ground. Terrin wrapped his arms around Zan’s thin body and kissed him.

“Terrin... I’m sick,” he whispered out loud.

“No you’re not you just...” Terrin searched for an excuse but knew there was none. Zan looked up at him.

“Kill me,” he said, this time not whispering. Terrin blinked.

“What?” he stood. “You’re insane.”

“You have to,” Zan stood up next to him. “Before I hurt anyone else...” he looked at the fallen soldiers. Xavier approached them, before he could say a word Zan grabbed the dagger that was strapped to his boot for emergencies. He held it to his throat. Terrin grabbed his wrist, and fought with all of his strength to keep Zan from plunging the point of the dagger into his throat, ending his life.

“Zan please, stop. You got control of it. Maybe we could find a cure,” Terrin said, struggling against Zan’s strenght. He didn’t have the full strength of a dragon in this form, but he did retain a small amount of it when he switched, not making him a weak human.

“There is no cure,” he said, black tears falling from his cheeks. “I don’t want to hurt you... please don’t let me hurt you,” he shook his head and cried. Xavier finally acted and pulled Zan’s wrist back, forcing the dagger from his hands. Terrin enveloped him in a hug quickly.

“There is a cure. If there isn’t we’ll make one, goddammit. We’ll beat this. I promise,” Terrin pleaded. Zan shook his head.

“Don’t let me hurt you,” he repeated again, looking down at the burnt, blood covered grass.


“Any luck?” Xavier asked as Terrin pulled off his gloves. He shook his head.

“None. I’ve had all of the best doctors and warlock and everyone I could possibly find look at the black substance he coughed up. None of them know what it is,” he said, dejectedly. “How is he?” Terrin looked towards their bedroom door, where Zan had been resting.

“Not good. He hasn’t really slept, and I go in to check every couple of minutes like you said, to make sure he didn’t try anything else,” Xavier mumbled. There was a silence between them. “You know he’s doing it for you. He wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he hurt you or anything you love,” Xavier said.

“I know. But if he leaves me before I’m ready, he is hurting something I love,” Terrin mumbled, shoving his gloves in his pocket. “Has he had any more episodes?” he asked.

“No... but his eyes...” Xavier swallowed. Terrin nodded and stepped into the door, comforted by the fact that Xavier cared enough to stand guard for them. Zan lay in the bed naked. The blankets only covered his waist, leaving his chest bare. Bruises from the fall a few days before had since healed, leaving him with perfect pale milky skin.

“Hello, love,” Terrin cooed, sitting down on the bed next to Zan. He pulled his head into his lap. Zan’s eyes were closed but it was obvious he wasn’t sleeping by the way he toyed with the blanket in front of him.

“Anything?” Zan asked. Terrin swallowed. The question meant he hadn’t given up hope yet. But he didn’t have good news to encourage that hope.

“No,” Terrin said, sadly. “But we will keep looking. Just have faith, lover.” Terrin kissed his head. Zan nodded. “Now, let me see your eyes,” he spoke in a soft voice, as if soothing a sick child. Zan shook his head. “Please?” He wasn’t above begging.

“You’ll be afraid of me,” Zan whispered.

“I could never,” Terrin replied sharply. “Don’t ever think that. Even today I wasn’t scared of you. I was scared for you,” Terrin said. “Now show me.” Zan did as he was told and looked up. His once clear eyes had taken on a sickly gray color, and the black veins were back. Terrin looked closely, and noticed that they pulsed ominously. “Have you had any other symptoms? If nothing else this is a good chance for us to study what this does to dragons,” Terrin said, as much as he hated the truth.

“At least my death won't be for nothing,” Zan mumbled.

“You aren’t going to die. You can’t. I’m supposed to die before you, remember? My species being so young, and all?” Terrin smiled. Zan sighed. “So?” Terrin asked, reminding Zan of the question.

“I... I keep loosing my temper. More than once I snapped at Xavier. Will you tell him I’m sorry?” Zan looked up at Terrin, concerned.

“He’s our friend, Zan. More than just a good soldier. He knows you’re sorry.”

“But tell him anyways, please?” he asked.

“Okay.” Terrin kissed his head. “I’m going to make a trip. I leave tonight. I want you to promise me that you’ll stay here and get some rest,” Terrin said.

“What? Where are you going?” Zan sat up.

“To the lava pools. I want to speak with the queen of the red dragons,” Terrin said.

“How are you going to get there?” he frowned.

“I’ll take Stormbringer, I did have a mode of transportation before you, you know,” Terrin winked with a tired smile.

“No. I’ll take you,” he got out of bed.

“No, Zan. You need your rest,” Terrin said.

“We both know rest isn’t going to fix this,” Zan said, as he pulled on the scaled breastplate that resembled his own scales so much. He kept his back to Terrin as he spoke the truth. Terrin was quiet behind him and he turned to see him collapsed on the bed, head in his hands. Zan knelt next to him on the floor.

“I can’t lose you, Zan. I can’t,” Terrin said, voice shaking. “This can’t be happening. I keep thinking I’m going to wake up, but it just keeps getting worse,” he sobbed, and hugged Zan tightly. Zan held onto him, breathing in his scent.

“We all get scared. You had every reason to be. The point is, I’m okay, and you’re okay. Lets just forget about it and move on, yeah?” Zan said, remembering their conversation from before. Terrin sniffed, and looked up.

“But how much longer are you going to be okay?”

Zan had to admit that the fresh air did him good. His mood was lighter than it had been a few hours before, resting in their room. They now soared through the night sky. Stars twinkled by the thousands above them. Terrin hugged zans neck with his legs. the dim red glow on the horizon indicated the hundreds of pools that surrounded the volcanoes zan had grown up in.

“Are you okay?” Terrin asked, snapping him out of thoughts of his upbringing.

“Yes. I’m fine, Terrin,” Zan said, slightly annoyed. Terrin had been hovering over him ever since they left the castle three hours earlier.

“Okay...” Terrin said, almost silent over the roar of the wind. “Zan...”

“Terrin, I said I’m fine!” he snapped.

“No, what’s that?” he asked, pointing down to the swamp lake below. Zan squinted his eyes.

“I-I don’t know... I can’t see well in the dark. Should I go down?” he asked.

“It looks like an earth dragon... yeah, lets see what she’s doing out in the middle of nowhere,” Terrin said. The earth dragons usually stayed in the swampy areas where the ground was relatively solid. Or in the deserts past the mountains. But it was very clear they couldn’t swim. Their black plated bodies were meant for carving through earth and stone, not paddling them through water. As Zan soared down, the screeches of the dragon could be heard.

“Is she sick?” Terrin asked.

“I don’t know....” Zan mumbled in Terrin’s head.

“Fire! Fire dragon, help me!” A voice suddenly shrieked into their heads. Unable to land, Zan simply soared in a circle above her.

“What’s wrong?” Terrin shouted down to her, as she squirmed in the slime and mud.

“Don’t worry about me, my nest! One of your kind attacked it!” she said, directing the words at Zan. “Please, Dragon. I think she was ill.” She continued to try to squirm out of the muck.

“Where’s your nest?” Terrin asked. She rolled her body to her right.

“There, just beyond the trees,” she said, using her undulating mouth piece to point towards the location. Now that they were looking, they could see the outline of smoke in the night sky, masked by the smells of the swamp and nearby fire pits. Without a word, Zan beat his wings and carried them over the trees, both searching for either the nest, or the red dragon. It wasn’t hard to find the beast, trying to squeeze her enormous body between the trees. She tossed her head and let out another spray of fire, nearly hitting Zan though she hadn’t seen him yet. Zan hovered near the trees, kicking up dust and leaves, finally drawing her attention. Terrin jumped down, sword in hand. She roared, and took a deep breath, preparing to bathe Terrin in flame. Before she could, Zan forced his large body between the trees, and threw his wing up to protect his lover. Fire spilled out around the red wing, but didn’t even singe a scale.

“Remember, my fire is useless against her,” Zan reminded Terrin.

“Where are the eggs? We don’t want her to step on them,” Terrin said, not taking his eyes off the dragon who was busy roaring up a storm.

“I don’t know... I don’t see any,” Zan answered, searching the ground beneath his feet and around them. Without warning, the dragon charged forward and snapped at Terrin. Zan swung his tail out in front of his lover, letting her bite down on the tough flesh there instead. He grunted in pain, and pulled his tail from side to side, making her look like a dog with a chew toy. She let go of the bleeding tail and roared at not having met her target. Before she could strike again, Terrin charged forward.

“Terrin!” Zan said, struggling to move in the confined space of the swamp. The dragon reared up and slammed her nose into the ground, mouth open. Terrin disappeared inside the black maw of teeth and fire. But instead of closing her jaw around the human, her body went limp. Zan waited, and nothing happened.

“Mind helping a king out?” the voice called from inside the mouth of the beast. Zan blinked and moved over to the corpse, using his nose to push open the jaw. Terrin climbed out, unharmed. His sword covered in blood. “Wasn’t so hard,” he smiled and shrugged. Zan stared at the corpse of the dragon.

“Don’t let me get that bad, Terrin. I have control now but...”

“I know,” Terrin said, swallowing hard. Neither of them looked at each other. “The nest?” Terrin asked. Zan blinked before looking around again.

“We’re standing in it. She already destroyed most of the eggs,” he said, nuzzling the shell of a black egg over to Terrin, who swallowed sadly.

“Are there any left?” he asked.

“Look around,” Zan said. They continued to search the trees and swampy plant life, coming up with three eggs.

“How big are dragon clutches usually?”

“It looks as if we lost three or four,” Zan said.

“Poor things... lets go see if we can help Momma dragon out,” Terrin said, sadly. Zan lifted them into the air, above the trees and soared back to the lake where the mother dragon lay still. “Is she...” Terrin whispered.

“I am alive,” she groaned, still not moving. “Though for how much longer I don’t know. My nest?” she asked, lifting her large head, showing her rotating jaw.

“We saved three eggs... I’m sorry about the rest,” Zan said, ashamed he couldn’t do more. She sighed and let her head fall back into the muck.

“It’s not your fault,” she spoke sadly.

“Come on, lets see if we can’t pull you out of here,” Terrin said. Zan began to lower to the ground.

“Don’t!” she shouted suddenly. The two men looked at her, confused. “It’s a sink hole. I’m not getting out of here any time soon,” she said. Terrin frowned.

“We can try,” he said. “If we can find some rope or vine or-” he was interrupted when Zan turned, leaving his tail in the dragons face.

“It’s already been bitten once tonight, one more won't kill me,” he sighed. Terrin kissed the top of his head. She bit down on his tail, making him grimace but say nothing more. He struggled against her weight as he beat his wings hard. A deep slurping sound echoed in the quiet swamp as the mud she was stuck in churned and sucked, holding onto her black plated body. She groaned, and Terrin looked down.

“Zan, stop!” he said. He did as he was told, and continued to hover in place no longer pulling. Terrin climbed up his head and sat on his snout, looking him in the eye. “She’s stuck for good, Zan. Her plates are coming apart before the mud is going to let her go...” He shook his head.

“I heard that,” she grumbled, not seemingly affected by her imminent death.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t help you.”

“I’ve lived my life. I worry for my eggs,” she said simply. “They’re only a month at most from hatching,” she said.

“We’ll take care of them, don’t worry,” Terrin said.

“We’ll what now?” Zan asked, confused. The dragon looked up.

“You would?” she questioned, seemingly having hope after accepting her fate and her children’s.

“Yes. I promise,” Terrin nodded. “You have my word as king,” Terrin said. She stared at him with no eyes, only the quiet sound of her rotating jaw and the crickets in the nearby brush.

“Thank you, King Terrin,” she said, with more thankfulness than Zan had ever heard in his life.

“You’re very welcome,” he nodded. They sat with her for a moment, the mud continuing to pull her down into the black void under the swamp. In only a few hours, she was completely under the mud. Terrin stood from the spot on the shore he had been sitting on.

“How could you agree to something like that? Neither of us can teach the young how to be earth dragons. I sure as hell don’t know how to dig,” Zan held up his ‘arms’ which were more like bat wings.

“It may be a standard rule for dragons not to accept eggs from another brood.” Terrin emptied the bags he carried with them. “But I am not a dragon,” Terrin said. He lined the bags with swamp leaves and a little mud for cushioning, and gently placed the eggs inside before tying them tightly to Zan’s spikes.

“And if we can’t find a cure? You’re going to raise three earth dragons, on your own?” Zan said.

“We’ll just have to make sure we find a cure, then,” Terrin said, matter of factly. Zan sighed before taking off and heading towards the lava pits.

“You’re insane.”

As they approached the lava pits, Zan was confused by the sheer volume of red dragons outside. Most of them were usually in the caves or swimming in the pools themselves, but they were all just standing there. As they approached and Zan landed, they finally noticed their presence and bowed.

“What are they doing?” Terrin asked.

“I don’t know...” Zan mumbled, just as confused.

“We heard you took ill, Zantoranzin. We offer our condolences,” the largest red dragon Terrin had ever seen stepped forward, the queen. He had only seen her twice before, on the island where they had declared peace, and when Zan had first brought him to his home. Since then he hadn’t spoken to the dragon, but he could always feel her eyes over them.

“Thank you, my Queen.”

“It’s an honor to see you again, and thank you,” Terrin bowed his own head. The queen smiled.

“Come, we have much to talk about,” she turned, and beat her wings to reach the large volcanic cave that made her nest.

“Have you found anything out about the illness?” she asked, as she turned and laid down comfortably in the large cavern.

“No. Nothing new my queen,” Terrin said.

“How unfortunate...” she sighed, obviously hoping for good news.

“I have the best in my kingdom looking for answers. We will find something,” Terrin nodded, “I promise.”

“I know we will. We just need to have faith.” She nodded her reptilian head. “Zan, what are those on your back?” she asked.

“We encountered an earth dragon on the way here... she was stuck in a sink hole with a sick red dragon attacking her nest... I promised her we would care for her eggs,” Terrin said.

“That’s quite a big task. What with neither of you being earth dragons.” She seemed to laugh in their heads, but it was more out of an odd form of respect than anything.

“We’ll make it work,” Terrin smiled. There was a silence as he stared at the ground, thinking about what he had gotten himself into, when the queen spoke.

“Zan?” she whispered in their heads. Two large red dragons stepped forward, obviously guards. They readied themselves for a fight. Terrin looked up at Zan, his eyes had gone completely black and he was simply staring at the queen. Terrin stepped forward and drew his sword.

“I respect you more than anything my queen, but I will fight to the death for him. Tell your guards to back off,” Terrin growled.

“I’m fine,” Zan mumbled, and the darkness began to recede back into his skull. He seemed tired. The queen nodded her head and the guards relaxed.

“It’s good that you’ll fight for him, even now, Terrin. When I met you, I knew you two would be a good mated pair. You’re love is very strong,” she said. Terrin sheathed his sword and stepped closer to Zan, hugging his scales tightly.

“I won't let anything happen to him,” he whispered.

“I know you won't. Now, what is it that you wanted to speak to me about?”

“Its about Lestrazar. Big-green-and-ugly paid us a visit not too long ago and I’m starting to get curious about him,” Terrin said. Zan turned his head to the side slightly, he had never asked what Terrin wanted to talk to the Queen about.

“Lestrazar? I haven’t seen him in a long time... not since the war,” the queen whispered in their heads.

“Yeah well he isn’t exactly the kind of guy I would like to meet on a regular basis,” Terrin said. “Zan could have died and he didn’t even think about helping him,” he frowned.

“The years and the loss of his brood have made him bitter. He wasn’t always like that,” the queen shook her head. “Why do you ask about him?”

“Isn’t it a little curious that this dragon has been a recluse for so long, then he starts making appearances again and everyone is getting sick? You said he wasn’t always bitter, how much more aggressive has he gotten?” Terrin asked.

“Terrin, what are you saying?” Zan asked.

“I’m saying that couldn’t it be possible he’s getting a little revenge? I mean, I can kinda see where he would be coming from. His entire family was wiped out by humans and now that the rest of his kind are allies with them it could be a little irritating. He knows that we live in peace now and if the dragons are hurting, so are the humans. He’s taking his revenge,” Terrin said bluntly.

“No, Lestrazar would never do that. He’s a peaceful dragon and takes life into the highest regards,” the Queen replied, shocked but seemingly not entirely sure if what Terrin was saying was true or not.

“It didn’t seem like it after Zan’s fall, he wouldn’t help him,” Terrin shook his head.

“But...” for the first time since Terrin had met the queen she seemed to lose her composure and was at a loss for words. “As much as it pains me to say, it is something that we should look into,” she said, sadly. “I can arrange a small group of my brood to take you back to the mountains and find him. Zan should rest,” she said.

“Everyone keeps saying that, but we’re all well aware that rest is going to do nothing for me. I want to go. It will keep my mind off of things,” he whispered.

“He’s fine to fly me there, and I don’t want to put any more dragons or humans in danger. The two of us will go,” Terrin said, and bowed to the queen.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? Just the two of us? He didn’t seem to like you very much, last time,” Zan said, as Terrin climbed onto his neck.

“No, not really... but who else would go with us?”


“This is a bad idea,” Xavier said as he stared at the small red dragon in front of him.

“Come on, Xavier. You’re the only one besides myself who has ever ridden a dragon,” Terrin said, as he straddled Zan’s neck.

“Yes, once. During an emergency. This is different!” Xavier had a clear layer of sweat on his forehead.

“Lewtanzina is a good friend of mine, she’ll take care of you,” Zan assured.

“You may call me Lewt,” The gruff female voice echoed in Xaviers head.

“She’ll drop me,” Xavier whined.

“No she won't,” Terrin and Zan said at once.

“We’re losing daylight, Xavier. Get on the dragon,” Terrin instructed, looking up at the sun. Xavier whined once more before approaching the dragon, and climbing up her wing unsteadily. He straddled her neck and swallowed as she stood up straight again, lifting him a good twenty feet into the air.

“I think I’m going to be sick,” he moaned, covering his mouth. The two dragons chuckled and spread their wings. Zan took off first, Lewt following him close behind.

Once they were in the air and Xavier stopped sobbing, he loosened his grip around Lewts neck and opened his eyes. The farmlands below them were large and green, specks of black marked the herds of cows, and the crystal lakes looked like nothing more than blue gems from their height.

“This isn’t so bad...” Xavier said, carefully.

“See, I knew you would get over it,” Terrin yelled over the roar of the wind. “It’s a long flight, so get comfy.” He smiled and swung his leg around Zan’s neck, he positioned himself so that he was lying on his back, hands behind his head and left foot over his right knee, bouncing steadily as he shut his eyes.

“Sire, that really doesn’t look safe,” Xavier had a mild heart attack.

“Relax, Xavier. Down on the ground is your territory, this is ours,” Zan smiled his reptilian grin and fell into a smooth dive beneath the clouds.