*Note: This is the twenty-seventh chapter of a small novel I wrote.
The next posts will be chapter 28 and 29, finishing the project off. So the end of this will have the last cliffhanger in this project.
Tides of Magic - Dragon Tears
Chapter 27 - The Battle
He was already waiting for several hours, and with each second he had more and more the feeling that he was losing control. He took out the fifth tear and stared at is smooth surface, it’s clear colorless form. This was his last ace, his last secret. He could take all their magic with it, even the magic of dragons, if he were to believe Rubenheim.
But then again, Rubenheim had been also a factor he couldn’t really control and he had disappeared after Magneis’ destruction.
“They’re coming”, someone shouted.
Bradley looked up. He could soon see some silhouettes on the horizon. His dragons reacted on their own, transforming and soaring up into the sky, the soldiers kept waiting within the castle. Felix and Nina stood next to him, instructed not to leave his side.
He started counting his enemies. Somehow he had expected the white dragons being at least as many as the black ones, but there were much less of them. He had the upper hand in numbers, but he still felt uneasy.
As soon as he spotted Lia, he had to kill her. She was a rogue factor to his plans. Then he had to capture Yukiko alive, as she was the key to eternal life. She was his property. She had to survive.
“Something is strange”, noticed Yamira and came a few steps closer to him. They were both standing on top of the castle, overseeing the battle. “Some of them don’t approach in dragon form.”
Perhaps they want to save their strength”, replied Bradley. He couldn’t grasp the woman’s motives and as such she was uncontrollable.
“Possibly”, Yamira shrugged.
“Binoculars!” The next best soldier saluted, came closer and gave Bradley the object he wanted. Then he stepped back.
Bradley looked through his binoculars at his attackers. Almost every dragon had someone on their back. And that one either looked like Yukiko or Lia. And they all were packed with rifles and grenades. What was this treachery? And where had she gotten … But of course, the missing weapons from the armory. “Illusions and my weapons”, he gnarled. If they wanted to play hard from the beginning, he had to do the same. He gripped the fifth tear and whispered the words to release its power.
Yukiko felt something change around her. It was almost like a pull, trying to remove the magic not only from around, but also from within her. Bradley had started using his ace much earlier than expected.
She didn’t care on the other hoof. There were still enough illusions left to …
On the dragon next to her, a human suddenly changed into a dragon, making both fall to the ground. Yukiko bit on her lower lip. She should have known that the dragon tears were stronger than a mere wall. Some more dragons fell out of the sky, before the others noticed what was going on and separated in the air.
The only ones that still looked like Yukiko and Lia were Phobos, Ray, Barnett and Aeris. The four men were the first that had put the illusion spells on them – and the spell was still holding, as if Yukikos magic was impervious to the tear – it just couldn’t keep full grown dragons disguised.
They had lost a big advantage and those dragons that had hit the ground, would be an easy target for the enemy dragons. But for now they would keep to the initial Plan: Lia would free Felix and flee with the mage in tow. As soon as they were somewhere safe, the rest would retreat as well. And as soon as Felix has fixed Lia, Yukiko would make Bradley regret ever crossing her ways.
Her dragon began to dive down, to accelerate, just as the black ones started to attack them. They managed to dodge the claws of one dragon, a breath of fire from the next. Yukiko flinched, she had felt the flames heat clearly. Her dragon broke his fast flight to dodge another attack. She could see Lia flying past her. Or was it Phobos? Or Barnett? Without the formation even Yukiko couldn’t know who was who.
Bradley clenched his teeth. Using the dragons tear, he had been able to slow the advancing army down, albeit increasing the number of enemy dragons. But from all those Lia- and Yukiko-look-alikes, there was still three of each left.
How was that possible? Had Rubenheim lied to him, like before? No, no, there was something else at play. Several dragons had fallen, because the tear had ended their transformation spell. Maybe this spell was from Aeris, and the chief dragon had enough reserves, to maintain the spell even while his magic was drained.
He had to stop Lia, no matter the cost. “Everyone one of them”, he targeted one of the Lias with his hand, a stone spike forming in front of his hand.
Felix did the same, targeting another Lia, while Nina targeted the third.
His arm was pushed back by the air pressure as the projectile started. A bolt of Lightning started next to him, hitting a black dragon, then a white one and ending finally within a large tree. The thunder was so loud that he almost couldn’t hear anymore afterwards, the sudden light almost blinding him. He couldn’t say if his nor Felix’ projectile hit their mark. He made a note within his thoughts to never attack with lightning again!
As the lightning hit the tree, Lia needed a few moments to orient herself once again. The cries of pain she heard were dulled.
She searched for their source as fast as she could. Another Lia … no Phobos she realized as the illusion spell failed, tried to pull a stone spike out of his shoulder. Then she felt a sharp pain on her cheek, feeling something warm and wet soon after. Her left hand felt for the sensation and as she looked onto her red gleaming fingers she realized that it was blood. Her blood.
“Lia!” She heard Yukikos dulled voice. “Flee! Bradley wants to kill you!”
Lia felt cold, as if her heart had stopped for a moment. She was scared. Scared to die. Although she several times had the thought of going to Cerinsagath and having them perform the final sealing.
She couldn’t let that fear control her! She fixated her gaze on Bradley, saw him and everything as if it were moving much slower than normally, could see him targeting her. She duck down on the back of the dragon, dodging another projectile. “Bring me to Bradley”, she told her dragon just loud enough so he could hear her. She would take fate into her own hands now. “I won’t leave without Felix!”
Yukiko felt as if paralyzed. Bradley had changed his mind. Lia had become an uncontrollable danger for him. That was why he wanted to have her out of the picture.
At least the lightning hadn’t hit anything; the energy had sought its own way. The projectile Felix had fired had only missed its target by mere inches. The only one they had hit was Phobos.
“Lia! Flee! Bradley wants to kill you!” She tried warning her friend.
Bradley targeted Lia once again, smiling. Maybe he had even decided that Yukiko herself was a danger to his plans and that he had to remove her?
Bradleys smile died. Yukiko saw back to Lia and noticed the dragon … diving forwards?
Was she still trying to execute their Plan? Yukiko bit on her lower lip. She was right, they had to do, what they had come to do. “Go”, she shouted to her dragon.
Yukiko pulled herself close to the dragon’s body, as they nosedived forwards. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but necessary.
The flew past two dragons, narrowly escaping both their claws as they dove between them, only stopping to dodge another flame, then continuning on, turning sideways. Yukiko had trouble holding on to the dragon as he flew a reckless maneuver to escape a dragon that wanted to bite into his wings.
Why hadn’t they approached the castle on foot, leaving the battle between the dragons, well, between the dragons.
Although her dragon was masterfully dodging attacks, she still feared that she could be hit at any time or fall from his back.
Just as they had managed to cross half the way to Bradley, her dragon stopped suddenly. Three black dragons were flying in front of them, cutting of their way. Yukiko risked a look to the side. Lia had the same problem. She looked back to Bradley, saw him climbing on the back of a dragon. Perhaps he wanted to attack Lia in the air. Yukiko needed to do something. She ended the illusion-spell, got one of the grenades hanging from her belt and threw it. Then she used her magic to make it split in front of her enemies, and made them split and split …
“Close your eyes”, she told her dragon just before the grenade exploded.
Bradley climbed on Yamiras back. The dragon lady had stayed still after her forced transformation back into a dragon. The stones were being crushed underneath her weight and started to crumble with every move she made. After taking off, a part of the wall would surely crumble.
He didn’t care about the building and the few soldiers within. They were an acceptable casualty. He had to kill Lia or she would destroy the whole castle and all soldiers within.
There was movement within the corner of his eye. A few grenades flew towards a group of dragons, multiplying on the way. What kind of magic was that?
Behind those dragons flew a white one and on top of them was … Yukiko.
The bright light of hundreds of grenades impaired his vision. He shook his head, rubbed his eyes. There was still one point left that impaired his vision, but he could see enough to get an overview over the battle once again.
There were only one Lia and one Yukiko now and both were close to him, very close, too close. He couldn’t let Lia come close to him. He wouldn’t be able to dodge one of her attacks from close range.
But … could she even attack him from close range, without being hit herself? And why hasn’t she attacked already? Was it just to make sure that she would hit? Maybe she only could use it once in a certain period of time? Or was there something else that stopped her from doing so?
He dismounted from Yamiras back and looked towards Felix and Nina. She hadn’t pulled her punch, even knowing that she could have hit the mage and that girl. He needed more information, something that told him how to best behave in the coming situation. If her attack had any limitations, then there was a chance that he could let her come near, and kill her from close range and if not … well she was too close already anyways.
“What is it?” He could hear Yamiras voice in his head.
“I changed my mind”, he answered and left Yamira where she would, going back to Nina. “You know what? That game with more than one target can be played with two players.” He touched Nina's shoulder and they vanished only a moment later.
Yukikos flash of light had cleared her way towards Bradley and Felix. They easily dove beneath the dragons in their way, gaining speed once again, and flew towards the wall even before their pursuers could realize what had happened.
Bradley had climbed down from the dragons back and had gone to Nina, both disappearing. Was he fleeing, leaving Felix back alone? Then this was her chance. She had to get to him and free him now!
The mage raised his hands. Chunks of stone started to float around him; parts of the walls came loose, forming themselves into sharp projectiles.
Her dragon reacted just fast enough, dodging the projectile rain. It hit a dragon behind them. They just had to cross these last few meters to get to him.
From the corner of her eye she could see another grenade flying towards Felix. A stone projectile split it into two parts, making it explode into smoke, obstructing her view of Yukiko.
The dragon turned, bringing them behind the cloud of smoke and further away from Felix once again.
“Use the grenades, Lia!” She could hear Yukiko's voice. The little girl had given her two of them just before they set off. She took one. It should be another smoke grenade.
She pulled the pin. “Go!”
The dragon dove forwards through the smoke. Lia squinted her eyes and as soon as she could see again, targeted Felix roughly, throwing the grenade at him.
As soon as the grenade left her hand, the dragon nosedived once again, stone projectiles flying there way at tremendous speeds.
In that small moment of zero gravity, Lia tried to grab back onto the dragon. Her upper body was flung upwards, just before she could find a place to hold onto. She managed to keep on the back of the dragon by clenching her legs together.
They dove below the top of the wall, before the dragon started gliding. The smoke grenade exploded somewhere over them. Closer to the wall the dragon flapped his wings strongly to gain altitude once again.
Yukiko flew over them, jumping down on the wall.
“Faster!” Lia shouted to her dragon, her heart racing.
As soon as Yukiko felt ground beneath her feet, she pushed on forwards, taking only seconds to close the last few meters to be next to Felix.
The mage hadn’t even had time to target her. She dove beneath his harms, climbed up his robe and easily found the necklace with the black gem. Another moment later and she had the gem within her hands, now the only thing she needed to …
There was a loud bang. She felt a deep pain within her leg and lost her balance.
Her right arm clung to the gemstone.
“Let go of it!” It was Bradleys voice. He had come back. She turned and saw the rage in both of Bradleys faces. Both? “Once again I caught you red handed.” One of them had raised a pistol towards her. The other one looked arrogantly down on her.
Lia landed behind both Bradleys. The second one drew a weapon and turned. “Welcome back, General Dias.”
Lia had a black scar within her face. Since when? Wasn’t it long ago that she … The second Bradley targeted her heart.
“Bradley! Don’t!” The sound of the pistol firing turned her blood into ice. She let go of the gem, fell to the ground. She could see Lia's legs trembling as her clothes turned red. She fell to the knees and to the sides, reaching forwards with her good arm.
“I see that you have finally come to your senses, General Artai.” The second Bradley smiled and lowered the weapon, turning towards Yukiko. “Now to you”, the first one said. “Sadly I have no means of controlling you directly anymore.”
“But that isn’t necessary”, the second one said.
“That small dragon army can’t hurt me anyways.” The sky turned black slowly, spewing lightning on the horizon. “You know that you are the only one I wanted alive.”
Yukiko would have liked to just jump at one of them and choke him, but the burning pain in her leg stopped her from doing so. She looked down and past him towards Lia. Her blood had turned completely black.
A black bolt of lightning ran over her body, sizzling softly. What was happening to her?
Another bolt rushed over the body of her friend, the sizzling couldn’t be heard through the thunder of the large lightning overhead.
“I’ll just remove all the dragons in a glorious thunderstorm”, Bradley smiled doubly.
Lia's blood formed into small droplets that defied gravity. “Her … blood …” Whispered Yukiko, realizing something.
The battle with Dikon. The battle with her. The wound from Felix. Everytime she was bleeding. Even in Magneis_… there had been blood on those white wings.
“What is with her blood?” One Bradley turned. He didn’t say a word as he looked upon the slowly growing black figure that was forming out of Lia’s blood. The form of it could only be one thing: A dragon.