Note: This is the seventeenth chapter of a small novel I wrote. If you would like to read it off-site, you may download a PDF. The PDF will be updated every week with the next chapter. This project is now also available on DBooks
Tides of Magic - Dragon Tears
Chapter 17 - Bradley's Rule
He wasn’t badly hurt; somehow the body of Bradley had taken most of the blunt. But why had he awakened before him? And who had been the woman that had appeared in between?
What had happened? Was it an elaborate trap from Bradley? But how could he predict that he would be attacked from behind, when even Lia had been surprised to see him?
Jan bit his lower lip. It was hard to think clearly and instead of finding answers he only found more and more questions. Why was he alone in the dungeon? Were Lia and the others fine? Were they alive?
He got up, making his head pound even more.
“So you didn’t swear fealty to our new ruler, too?” The man in the opposite cell spat into a corner.
“Something like that.” Jan looked around. Only his cell and the other one were occupied. “Were you imprisoned because of that?”
“Hah!” The man started laughing. Judging from his beard he hadn’t had an opportunity to shave in days. “No, I’ve been imprisoned by Phobos for killing someone. This is my just punishment.” He spat once again. “But our new ruler let everyone go, that swore fealty to him. But I still have my pride!”
Jan frowned. He was a murderer, but on the other hand … he would do the same, if he saw Bradley again. Killing him and then sitting proud in prison. “I tried to overthrow Bradley”, Jan answered, leaning back against the wall.
“If you want to try again, just give me a word. I’ll help you, it will be fast and clean.” He smiled. “You don’t have something to eat, have you?”
Jan shook his head.
“Shit, I’m starving. That bastard isn’t tending to his prisoners at all.”
Jan had the bad feeling that Bradley would make an exception in his case, an exception that didn’t involve making him comfortable.
A deep pain in her breast woke Lia. She looked into Bradleys smiling face, Yukiko, Felix and Nina behind him. What had happened?
She looked down over her body. On a short string hung the dragon tear, but something about it was strange, was it? It seemed dark red and had a silver insignia inside. Everything was as she remembered.
“Good morning, general Dias”, she was greeted by Bradley.
“What happened? Yesterday night something bad …”
“We had an intruder trying to kill me”, Bradley answered, his smile vanishing. “You all have saved me.” He turned from her, his arms behind his back. “I will have him executed shortly. You will have the honor of ending his life.”
Lia got up, doubt within her heart. Something was … “Thank you, my imperator.” She bowed slightly.
“Follow me. You will need clothing that suits your new ranks.” Bradley left the room, Felix and Nina following instantly. Only Yukiko waited for her.
“Please, don’t leave me”, she whispered, pulling herself close to Lia. Together, hands joined, they followed their ruler. Everything was fine. She hadn’t any reason to doubt anything, she didn’t need to worry.
They passed the throneroom on the way and arrived at ground level. They passed some more soldiers, a few of them greeted them and they arrived in a small room full of clothing: Uniforms worn by all of Bradleys soldiers.
“Suit my four new generals up”, Bradley ordered and waved them closer. Lia noticed the man behind the small counter only after entering the room. He gulped audibly seeing Yukiko.
“We have still Miss Artais uniform”, he replied. “I have to see, if we have something for the others as well.”
“What are you waiting for? Get. To. It.” The man flinched, took up a measurement tape and began to take Felix’s measurements, as well as Ninas and Lias after that. A moment later he vanished between the rows of clothing, coming back with three set that he gave to each of them.
“You can change in the room opposite of this”, he said, taking his place behind the counter again, being extremely nervous.
Yukiko pulled Lia with her into the other room, helping her change. Contrary to her robe the new set of clothes seemed to be closer to her body, making her look more female. She smiled looking into the mirror.
Nina changed after them, then Felix and all the while Bradley stood there waiting, smiling to himself. “Now we will show our subjects, who their new leaders are.” Bradley went on first, leading them down to the courtyard, out of the gate and onto the marketplace of the city. The citizen had been gathered and were being kept in check by soldiers with firearms.
“Many of you don’t like me taking over the rule”, Bradley addressed them. “Many of you believe that your previous ruler will overthrow and stop me.” He made a few steps looking onto the people standing there. “But that won’t ever happen, because of the power I wield.” Some murmurs could be heard at that. “There is nothing to be afraid of. I have pledged myself to unite this land and bring peace to all of you.” He made a few steps back, waiting. As nothing happened, Lia stepped forward. Somehow she knew what she had to do now. She stepped into the middle of the plaza.
“As you still seem to be skeptical, let me demonstrate!” Bradleys voice thundered over the place.
Lia recognized the sign, opening her seal. There was something in her head that told her she forgot something, but as she changed into a dragon, ripping her new clothing apart, she dismissed the thought. She roared loudly, making the people below her shriek. Now none of them would even think of defying her imperator.
But why … why did she feel like something was wrong? Her eyes looked over the horizon. No, there was nothing. It was much closer than that. Behind her.
She turned her head. Bradley held his arms into the air, taking loudly to his subjects. She grolled once again, her instinct telling her that something was wrong, but her mind couldn’t detect any danger. She just had to be careful.
“I can’t make a peaceful and united world a reality, if you struggle against me! That is why any of you, who wants to overthrow me, will share the fate of this young man!” Bradleys voice stopped her searching for danger. She turned her head slightly further. One of her eyes could see behind her, see two soldiers bringing down a young man. A man she knew. A dragon guardian. Jan!
Her heart began to beat faster, her eye following each of his steps, her head turning further so her gaze could follow him more easily.
“This Dragon will now pass judgement on him!” Bradley stepped towards Jan, grinning broadly, whispering to him: “I told you, you would regret crossing me.” The he turned towards her and spoke two fatal words: “Kill him!”
A part of her wanted to follow Bradley order immediately. She opened her maw … but she was held back by another part. She knew that she would do everything for her imperator, everything but one. She wouldn’t kill Jan. She growled once again.
“What are you doing? Obey!” Bradley hissed towards her. Lia didn’t follow the order, reactivating the seal. The more she changed back into her human form, the stronger got the need to follow the order. But her feelings remained strong, fighting the urge.
“Obey!” Her body began to tingle and she felt a stinging, burning sensation on her breast.
“Lia, you have to resist!” Jans voice was weak, muffled. Why was it that she heard Bradley so loud and clear?
She had to do something. This urge to kill Jan got stronger and stronger, the source of it being Bradley. Her mind told her to obey her imperator, but her feelings … her feelings wanted her to kill Bradley, in order to save her love.
“General Artai!” Bradley spoke to Yukiko. He wanted to make her do it.
Her gaze was fixated on Bradley, her anger rose. She had to put him down, as fast as possible. All she needed was just a small little sphere that drilled a hole in his heart.
As soon as that thought had run its course, a small gleaming white sphere appeared before her. It was the size of a pea, nothing more. Bradley managed to jump to the side, the magical bullet hitting on of the citizens. The man screamed and dissolved into nothingness. The people screamed, panic hitting them.
Bradley started to run away. “Subdue her!”
A thorn of ice wounded her right arm. She could see some sort of mist falling down from Yukiko, her arms wrapped in ice. Tears were streaming down her face, but she continued to attack Lia. She pulled back, being held down by Nina from behind.
Her eyes searched for Bradley. Another gleaming white sphere formed before her eyes, black Lightning running over its surface, it was the size of a cherry.
Somehow Bradley evaded it once again, the sphere hitting a row of houses, expanding into a big black sphere that swallowed the whole house. Air was pulled to the sphere as well as stones and pieces from the neighboring houses. The sphere collapsed a moment later, vanishing, leaving a gaping hole behind. There wasn’t even debris.
Bradley looked to the crater, his mouth gaping, then he started running again.
The stones below Lias feet began to move, melting into one another, growing into a wall, locking her up. Nina released her, leaving her alone in the stone prison.
She felt something burning and stinging from where her dragon tear was. She pulled the gem from her throat, the pain now coming from her hand, but it seemed to be far away.
Suddenly she realized everything. That wasn’t her tear. This was something else. She threw it to the ground, her memories returning.
Bradley had done something to the astral diamond, he had taken her freedom, had controlled her throughts. She looked up. If only she was able to fly …
Why shouldn’t she be able to fly? She had a dragon within her. She only needed his wings! She concentrated. Never before had a dragon priest summoned only part of the dragon within them, but why shouldn’t it be possible?
“General Dias!” Bradleys voice reached muffled through the stone prison. “I understand now. You want to save the life of this young man, don’t you?”
She didn’t answer, searching for a possibility. There was something, deep within. A warm, gleaming white light. She reached for it.
“Follow my orders and I will keep him alive!”
She felt a shiver down her spine as large leathery white wings grew from her skin.
“Give up! You don’t want to cause a catastrophe!” Was there fear within Bradleys voice? Yes, he had all reason to fear her. She had to free not only Jan, but all others from his clutches as well!
Lia jumped upwards, her hands changing into claws. She dug them deep into the stone, climbing up the wall. She spread her wings on the top. Bradley wasn’t hard to find, he had hidden behind Jan.
“Lia!” Finally she could hear his voice clearly. “Don’t listen to him! You can’t become his …”
“Be quiet!” Bradley held a pistol to his head. “Follow my orders, General Dias, or this boy will die!”
This time she would hit him, she knew it. Within her right palm formed a gleaming white sphere, the size of an apple. Shadows hushed below its surface, black Lightning running over it and then … the sphere flow of towards Bradley, following a slight arc. This nightmare would end now!
Nina appeared next to Bradley, pulled him aside and they both vanished as fast as she had appeared. Lia didn’t react fast enough. She couldn’t steer the sphere anymore, making it hit the ground several dozen feet away from Jan.
She expanded immediately, got bigger than the house before, swallowing the marketplace, all the people there, as well as Jan.
For a moment her heart stopped. The vacuum lasted only a short moment before the sphere collapsed once again. She didn’t see the following explosion coming. The shockwave hit her head on, hurling her far from the city.
She didn’t even feel the heat. The wounds and pain all over her body were small compared to the sharp pain she felt inside her heart as soon as she realized what she had done.
She had killed Jan.