Axra couldn’t sleep. Not because of the excitement of venturing out on her own, but because there was something hard pushing against the small of her back. She left her sleeping bag and checked under it, nothing. She felt inside. Perhaps something had gotten inside.
It took her a few minutes, but she found it. Strange, it seemed to be inside the lining. She tore the stitching open and checked. It was a very small sphere not even as large as a marble.
“A scrying gem?” Axra sighed. It had to be her fathers. They were always so overly worried. She dropped the gem into a small creak. The next morning she’d get a new sleeping bag and continue on her way.
“Something bothering you?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Because you haven’t touched your lunch and you keep staring out the window. Is my baby girl in trouble?”
“”I don’ know,” Zero said. “But the gem hasn’t moved in some time.”
“She’s probably sleeping in,” Axel said. “Nothing to worry about.”
“Axra isn’t like you,” Zero said. “She doesn’t sleep in until late in the afternoon. I’m going to check on the situation. Guard my body.” Zero grabbed a piece of chalk and drew a magic circle in the floor. He sat within it in the lotus position. His eyes went blank and his body tensed.
Axel sighed and started stacking objects from the table on Zero’s head.
After several minutes Zero twitched and the stack came crashing around him.
“Damn,” Axel said. “Didn’t even come close to beating my old record.”
“My gem was in a creek,” Zero said. “She found it and she tossed it. That girl is so stubborn.”
“So, you have no idea where she is?” Axel asked.
“None,” Zero admitted.
“Then let’s go find her,” Axel said.
“No!” Zero cried. “It will tell the league that something’s up. We can’t risk them finding her first.”
“Then what do you think we should do Mister ‘it’ll be fine I’ve got a scrying gem?'” Axel asked.
“We’ll send Lilly to retrieve her,” Zero said.
“Ughh,” Axel muttered. “I don’t like her hanging around with my little girl.”
“I know,” Zero said. “But she’s the best tracker we have.”
Axra arrived at the wastes without incident. The land was vast and arid. Nothing grew there and none of the races made it their home. Still, for all the desolation there was something fascinating about it. The ruins of former civilisations were scattered throughout and many beasts made it their home. There were even rumours that a crazy dark elf hermit lived there with a legion of giant spiders to serve her.
Axra wasn’t particularly interested in any fabled ancient treasures or even the ruins themselves, but that rumour… She had to find out if it was true.
She rode into the wastes, stopping frequently to give her horse food, water and rest. She kept her eyes peeled for any signs of spiders or life. She rode all day without finding anything. The next morning she set out early. There were some scattered ruins but nothing much else. She had found a recent campsite, probably belonging to some other adventurer but whoever it was had left no tracks or anything to indicate who they were.
Roughly an hour after she’d eaten her lunch she rode into some kind of graveyard. There were skeletons, some humanoid, scattered all about. Her horse froze and wouldn’t venture further. She dismounted and went ahead by herself, staying alert.
That was when she heard a fierce roar. She looked up and saw them, mere specks in the sky at first, but rapidly growing into massive flying shapes. Dragons. There were three of them with red scales and massive jaws. Any one of them could easily fit her horse inside it’s mouth. She didn’t even want to think about what they could do to her. She froze, one hand on Todberührung’s hilt. Maybe they’d leave her alone if she didn’t make any sudden moves. After all, she wouldn’t make much of a meal.
One of them landed a mere six metres or so in front of her. It brought its head close to her and loudly sniffed the air. She stayed perfectly still. The dragon moved away and, for a moment, she thought it was going to leave her alone. Then it reared back and belched a column of flames at her. She was barely able to avoid the blast with a desperate lunge, but the dragon reached out and snatched her in one of its talons. It was pulling her towards its mouth.
“Die, Dammit!” She thrust Todberührung into its claw, thinking it would be pointless, but the beast reared back in pain, dropping her to the ground. She pulled herself up and looked at it. The dragon’s scales and flesh were falling in clumps from its claw. Axra was horrified to see its arm reduced to a pile of bones within seconds. And even that crumbled into dust and scattered to the ground.
Axra shook her head, she didn’t have time to watch, as morbidly fascinating as the sight was. There were two more dragons. She bolted. If she could make it to her horse, she might have a chance to escape. But fire blocked her path. The two remaining dragons floated in the air, blocking her way. they stayed airborne, undoubtedly afraid to get within her reach.
She held Todberührung in front of her and started backing away. One of the dragons flew up and over her head. The two hurled bolts of fire in front of and behind her. She was trapped.
She heard a small roar. Had she not finished the other one off? A miniature green dragon flew over her head and hurled a bolt of green flames at the dragon in front of her. It dodged the larger dragon’s claws and teeth and kept blowing fire into its face. The dragon behind her moved over to help deal with the tiny nuisance. Was the little guy trying to help her?
She looked back. A figure violet robes and a matching pointed hat holding a staff was doing some kind of incantation. Listening carefully, she could make out a powerful, feminine voice. The mage girl touched her staff to the ground. Simultaneously, the miniature dragon flew away from the other two. A bolt of lightning shot from the staff and chained from one dragon to the other. While they were writhing in mid-air the mage snapped her fingers and a ball of flames fell from the sky, engulfing them both. The beasts fell to the ground and were still.
Axra made her way away from the flames and towards her rescuer. The miniature dragon had landed on her shoulder and was nuzzling her cheek. The mage was probably around Axra’s age, maybe a little younger. She had dark purple hair and light blue eyes. Her pointed ears showed that she had elven blood, forest elf. But she definitely wasn’t a full blooded elf. Her features had a decidedly human quality.
She looked over to see Axra approaching. “Hey, you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” Axra said.
“That’s good,” the mage said. “Well, be careful out there. I probably won’t be around the next time.” She tipped her pointed hat and was gone. Some kind of teleportation spell. Axra was left on her own with a lot of questions going through her mind.