The Last Draconian 35: Sadow Faces Michael

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Gino led his troops into the forest. The elves occasionally turned to fire a volley of arrows before running deeper into the forest.

“The pointy eared bastards are toying with us,” Gino muttered. “Move faster! We’ll show the tree spawn our strength!” The trolls rushed forward with increased resolve. The elves led them to a clearing where a regiment of soldiers was waiting.

“They’ve out-smarted themselves!” Gino cried. “There’s nowhere for them to run now!” As the trolls charged into the clearing they were hit with arrows from all sides. Gino pulled an arrow out of his arm. “Damn it, retreat!”

The remaining trolls followed him quickly, but they found their exit blocked by more elven warriors.


Sadow sat in his carriage with Laina’s head opposite him. “That headmistress is proving to be more formidable than a blind woman has any right to be,” Sadow muttered. “What should I do to deal with her?”

“You have many capable agents,” Laina said. “Why not release me and ask one of them?”

Sadow pointed toward Laina’s head. A small bolt shot from his finger and struck her. The electricity whirled around her. Her face twisted in agony but she couldn’t scream.

“I’ve had enough of your whining,” Sadow said. “Either answer my questions or I will see to it that your suffering intensifies.”

“You have many capable agents,” Laina said. “Some that can not be connected to you. One of those should be employed.”

“That’s better,” Sadow said. “I’ll send Femre and his people. They should be more than one blind girl, even an omni-mage, can handle.”

“Run for your lives!” The carriage driver shouted. He rolled off of his seat and ran as quickly as he could. The horses stopped in their tracks and tried to turn around. Sadow grabbed Laina’s head and formed a shield of lightning around the two of them. Around them, the wagon and horses were torn to pieces and carried away by a vicious tornado.

“This is no ordinary phenomenon,” Sadow said, sending more energy into his shield. “This is magic. But who would dare?”

When the tornado cleared Sadow was surrounded by debris. A single cloaked figure stood on the road in front of him. “Who are you?” Sadow demanded. “What is the reason behind this outrage? Do you not know who I am?”

“I know well who you are!” The figure drew a sword and leapt at Sadow. The Magi put his hands together. A jet of flame shot upward at the descending figure. Seconds later the charred remains of the cloak came scattering downward.

“Where?” Sadow wondered. Before he could locate the figure a blade severed some of his ribs from behind. Sadow pushed his energy backward scattering bolts of lightning. He whirled around to face his attacker. “It can’t be!” the lich cried. A draconian with violet scales was standing before him, fully armoured. Sadow dropped Laina’s head and took an involuntary step back, he was shaking slightly.

The draconian flew into the air and quickly dived toward Sadow. The lich unleashed a torrent of energy. Lightning bolts shot from the sky toward Michael. He manoeuvred in a highly erratic pattern. Sometimes dodging the bolts by gliding to the side, sometimes by stopping in his tracks, and sometimes by speeding up and diving. Sadow gnashed his teeth and drew an ornate curved dagger. He used it to block Michael’s downward thrust, but the force itself was almost enough to send the lich sprawling.

Sadow quickly released his flames to surround him, forcing Michael back. Sadow quickly thrust his palms out. Fireballs shot out from both in rapid succession. Michael got hit by the edge of one of them and got thrown backwards.

Sadow put his hands together and fired an enormous bolt of lightning. It hit Michael dead on in the chest as he fell. Michael crashed into the ground, bloodied but still moving. His sword dropped several metres away. Sadow laughed out loud. “I don’t know what I was afraid of,” he said. “You’re nothing! You should have stayed home, Little girl. You’re as weak and inconsequential as the rest of your race!”

Michael flipped upward, landing on his feet and charged at Sadow. The Magi reached his hand out and sent fiery spikes flying at Michael. They pierced his armour. One even broke through his helmet and singed his left cheek. They blew open on impact, spreading flames all over the areas they hit. Michael reeled back and collapsed. He was breathing heavily and struggling to stay conscious. Sadow laughed at his efforts.

Michael muttered a quick incantation. A light-blue mist descended around Sadow and Michael. An almost invisible stream went from one to the other. Sadow didn’t notice it.

“Don’t feel too bad,” Sadow said. “I’ll send you to meet the rest of your mongrel people.” His hand began emitting a crimson glow. Before he could fire off a final bolt of energy an arrow knocked his hand back. Sadow instinctively surrounded himself with a shield of lightning to block any more arrows.

A female elf ran from the forest, firing arrows. She shouldered her bow and draped the draconian over her shoulders in a quick, fluid motion. Then she tapped the ground twice with her left foot and ran. Sadow brought up his energy to incinerate them both, but a wave of dirt shot out from the spot that the elf had touched and buried him.

By the time that he had dug himself out they had vanished into the forest. Sadow retrieved Laina’s head. “Why didn’t you tell me that I missed one?” he demanded.

“I told you,” she said. “I lost my gift for prophecy when I died.”

“This is a huge problem,” Sadow said. “I have to kill her. Her, and her elf friend.” He turned toward the forest, but hesitated to give pursuit. “But what if there are more? I can’t risk it. I have to get to my keep. My agents, they can handle her. I have to use my scrying pool, find out if there are more.” He carefully bundled Laina’s head in cloth and moved back to Wicadia to find another carriage.

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Voyages of the Cerberus 164: Mounting Tensions

Y4-R1’s Personal Log

We are heading towards Miss Ussie’s home planet, Coranus Prime. She has been summoned for some kind of problem. She has chosen not  to divulge the details, but Captain Tawaig does not seem concerned. Duke de Pau is highly displeased with the lack of information and has been expressing his discontent. Admittedly, I am finding the hypothesis that his discontent is purely ornamental to be more and more credible.

The Blazer’s crew has shown me a great deal of kindness but I do not know if I can continue travelling with them indefinitely. I may make this our last mission together.


The difference betwixt the healthy gnowlins and the sick ones was staggering. Their pale blue skin  was almost translucent with yellowed veins showing through.

Paul started by running a detailed scan of a healthy gnowlin and then compared it to readings of one of the patients. He needed to know exactly how their bodies worked if he was to have any hope of countering the illness.

He was perusing the scans when he noticed something peculiar.

He quickly double checked the readings. Then made certain the equipment was working properly.

“It’s dihydrogen monoxide,” he muttered. “These people are getting poisoned from exposure to water.”


Ophelia watched where they were being led and took careful notes. The mines were full of destroyed equipment that had been very deliberately isolated and abandoned tools. There were some very definite blood stains as well as a strange, beige substance.

“Signs of battle,” Jayla chirped. “Strangers have red as their inner-flow. You also?”

“We do,” Kat said. “But we call it blood. Yours is the beige?”

“We are of the land and she flows through us,” Jayla answered.

Ophelia glanced at her hand held. “Please, excuse me for just a moment,”  she said. She moved away from the group and grabbed her communicator. “What’s up Paul, find something?”

“Our friends are a silicon-based life form,” Paul answered. “they don’t look it, but they are. They’re sick because of exposure to simple water.”

“That can’t be right,” Ophelia said. “We were told the waste was tainting their food and water. Are you sure your readings are right?”

“I’ve seen what the translators are calling water,” Paul said. “It’s a liquid silicate. Most likely it’s the liquid that makes up the bulk of their bodies and they need to drink to live. Ergo, the translators assume it’s equivalent to water. I’m just warning you, don’t accept anything to eat or drink from them. Chances are, it’d be as toxic to us as water is to them.”

“I’ll alert the others,” Ophelia said. “Do you have a plan to fix them up?”

“I should be able to get it filtered out of their supplies,” Paul said. “As for those already ill, I can flush their systems now that I know the situation. I’ll have to modify my equipment’s settings first but I should be able to report progress within the hour.”

“All right,” Ophelia said. “Keep up the good work.”

She returned to the others. “Sorry about that,” she said. “But the good news is that our Doctor is very confident that he can help your people.”

she watched as Jayla’s face brightened and quickly typed a message for Kat and Farah. It read simply: “Don’t eat or drink anything they offer you. It’ll be dangerous.”

“This is good news, Obelia,” Jayla chirped. “We must have a celebration when it is done! It will be a great cause to celebrate, yes?”

Ophelia surreptitiously glanced at her hand held while Jayla spoke. Farah had written “why?” and Kat had written “enemies?”

“Different physiologies,” Ophelia wrote.

“We’ll look forward to it,” Ophelia said.

“They are planning something!” Ilyin declared. “They are sending secret messages!”

“Oh, not at all,” Ophelia said. “We’re just going over our Doctor’s progress. That’s all. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, we’ll put our devices away and say nothing of it.” She nodded to Farah and Kat who quickly pocketed their hand helds.

“Jayla, we can not trust them,” Ilyin stated.

“Their  ways are different,” Jayla said. “That does not mean they are bad.” She grabbed Ilyin’s hand and drew some kind of symbols. Ophelia assumed it was a message of some kind.

Ilyin wrote something back and they separated.

“Captain,” Kat cautioned. Her eyes darted towards Jayla.

“Fairs fair,” Ophelia said, sounding nonchalant. She turned to Kat and purposefully tapped two fingers right next to her eyes.

Farah watched the whole thing unfold with an increasing sense of discomfort. Everyone seemed wary of one another. She had to find some way to ease the tension, assuage their hosts’ suspicions before things went badly, for all of them. But how?

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The Last Draconian 34: Lynai’s Guiding Meeting

Previous Chapter

“You called me back here for that?” Joseph was incredulous.

“Believe me,” Larick said, “nothing that happens to the line while you’re gone will have a significant impact on the future. However, what you are about to do will.” Larick gestured at the audience. “These soldiers need words of encouragement, and you are the one who must give them.”

“Would not words from his Majesty mean more?” Joseph asked.

“Perhaps,” Larick said. “But he is occupied elsewhere.”

“I understand,” Joseph said. He walked several feet and faced the soldiers. “There was once a young troll who was going to war for the first time. This troll started as a peasant, but he fought hard and worked his way up the ranks. Eventually, his king acknowledged his abilities and made him an officer. From there he advanced to the position of General. The point to this story is that the battlefield doesn’t play favourites. Whether you’re a noble or a peasant it doesn’t matter, all that matters,” he held up his spear, “is this. If you have a strong arm and a heart that yearns for victory then you can accomplish great things. We will fight together on that battlefield. We will go through the dance of life and death together. Some of you will become heroes on that battlefield. Trust in us Generals and in his majesty, together we will grasp victory!”

Larick smiled. Most of the trolls were applauding stridently. A few whispered amongst themselves. He stroked his falcon. “This is how it always begins, Cassandra, with new ideas. Ideas that will spread from soldier to soldier, reach civilians and eventually permeate through the entire culture.”


Michael Ryufan

I arrived at the chosen location. There is a point between Strecner and Wicadia where the path is overlooked by a mountain. I clandestinely flew to a ledge on the mountain. I sat on the ledge and watched the path below.

Illyana had seemed distressed when we had last spoken, but that was not important. She was stronger than she was aware of. She would endure. I was far less certain of my own future. I was about to reach a crucial juncture. The moment that I had dedicated my life in preparation for was rapidly approaching.

When reflecting upon my life I realised that Lynai had been correct, not literally, but metaphorically. I had been so preoccupied with revenge that I had never built or maintained many emotional bonds, or even grown accustomed to dealing with emotions. In that sense, I could be called heartless. Still, I had no regrets. I had made a decision and it had led me to this point. More importantly, without emotional bonds my death would not be a cause for much grief.


Lynai Elfblood

I had wandered aimlessly for a while after leaving Michael. I didn’t have anywhere to go. If I returned to Het Wald, father would make me take a mate. I could go to Strecner and see Callie, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to… yet. For the first time I could think about my future and the possibilities truly seemed infinite.

I was currently lying down in the shade of a tree near the road. The people on the road just passed by without looking up. Most of them didn’t even notice me. They were all so busy trying to reach their destinations that they didn’t have time to enjoy the scenery. It was nice to just be able to sit and think.

An elf woman with grey hair and piercing grey eyes stopped and walked over to me. “Can you spare some gold?” she asked.

“Sure.” I reached for my pouch and poured some into her hand.

“Such a kind young lady. I’ll tell you something good in return,” she offered. I sat up and looked directly at her.

“Good, I have your attention. Let me tell you about Aoules and Rena. Aoules was a great warrior, but a sad person. He was distant and most people were put off by him. Rena was the exception. She knew that he was a good man who had trouble expressing himself. His pain was all consuming, you see. Rena befriended Aoules and the two began travelling together. For a while, they were truly happy.”

“What happened to change that?” I asked. She was a really good storyteller. It was partially the way she spoke and partially her gestures.

“Aoules had a terrible enemy, a great lord by the name of Sinow. Sinow was respected and loved by his people, but he had a terrible secret. He had used his power to have an entire family killed. All because an oracle had told him that a member of that family would cost him his throne. His soldiers had made a mistake, though. They had missed a young son of the family who had been camping during the massacre.”


She smiled. “Such a bright lady. Yes, it was Aoules. He had learned from a surviving servant what had happened. He had tried exposing the lord, but no one would believe him. They couldn’t fathom that such a kind lord could commit such a cruel act. So, Aoules decided to take things into his own hands. As the time for his confrontation drew closer he became more distant toward Rena. Eventually, he asked her to leave his company.”

“Did he think that she would get in the way?”

“That was part of it, but mostly he wanted to protect her. He knew that the fight would be dangerous. After Rena left, Aoules faced the lord in combat. It was a battle that cost them both their lives.”

“What happened to Rena after that?”

“She never forgave herself. You see, she thought that she should have been able to figure out what Aoules was trying to do. She knew that she should have been able to help him and, perhaps, he never would have died if she had. Rena lived her life as a hermit from then on. It was her act of atonement.”

I rose. “Thank you for the story. It was very interesting.”

The elderly woman grasped my shoulder. She was looking towards the road. “It’s said that the Gods reincarnate Aoules and Rena every hundred years, in the hope that their souls will eventually find peace. Find a path that will lead them to happiness. But they always, somehow, repeat the same cycle.”

That’s when I remembered, Michael was seeking revenge. I didn’t know why or against whom. That’s why he was always so distant. What if he was fighting for his life and trying to keep me out of it? Not that I believed her story of reincarnation, but it would be sad if Michael met the same fate as Aoules. I returned to the road and ran back toward where we had parted.


A dark-haired woman with dark green eyes appeared beside the elderly elf when Lynai was out of sight.

“What are you doing?” her voice boomed. “The draconian is mine! What are you trying to gain with your little stories?”

The elderly elf was quickly replaced by an armoured woman with chestnut hair. The piercing grey eyes remained the same. “His people have ever belonged to me. I will not see him destroyed by you.”

The dark-haired woman sneered. “It is to me that he kneels. It is to me he makes offering. It is to me that he has ever dedicated himself. The draconians who followed you are no more. Perhaps you should have safeguarded them when you had the chance, O Wise One.” There was a slight hint of mockery in her voice.

“They still exist, within this last scion. He may be yours at the moment, but his memories will make him turn to me.”

The green eyed woman scoffed. “We will see. I think we both know that his path is set and that it will remain dedicated to me. Right to the end.”

Next Chapter

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Voyages of the Cerberus 163: Gnowlin Biology

Kat met Paul as he disembarked the Cerberus.

“How much do we know?” Paul asked.

“One of  the by-products of the mining equipment appears to be causing the sickness,” Kat said. “We don’t have records for their people. So, you’ll have to figure out their specific biological situation as you work.”

“Should just take a detailed scan of a healthy one,” Paul said.

“The mission is going fine, by the way,” Kat added. “Ophelia managed to negotiate passage through their domain. So, be sure to do a good job. I don’t know how they’ll react if our offering isn’t up to snuff.”

“You know me better than that,” Paul said. “If someone is sick or suffering, I’ll do everything in my power to help them.”

“I know,” Kat said. “Believe me, I know. I just had to tease you a little.”

They hurried back into the mines.


“Negotiators, indeed,” Lucy spat the words out.

She grabbed her communicator. “Love, you there?”

“Go ahead,” Ophelia answered.

“Take a wild guess at what I’ve found in EIG’s system,” Lucy said.

“That they’ve been even more dishonest than we thought?” Ophelia guessed.

“Precisely,” Lucy said. It seems your friends there started by trying to communicate with EIG. They responded by sending some very special ‘negotiators.’ Their job was to clear the infestation in the mines area. The gnowlins responded by protecting themselves. After that, things became mutually aggressive very quickly.”

“It’s not surprising,” Ophelia said. “They were very quick to talk peaceably with us when we showed them that we meant no harm.  Makes it hard to believe that they’re as aggressive as we were told.” 

“I’m thinking it would be interesting if these files found their way into the hands of some trusted journalists,” Lucy said. “Do you think that would be a breach of our contract?”

“I think we’re in no position to show files that we weren’t given access to,” Ophelia said. “So, if a journalist did happen to gain access, they could hardly blame us for it. It’s not like we were hired to safeguard their information.”

“Yeah, it’s not our fault if their main company gets breached,” Lucy said. “Oops. Looks like their main server just sent out something it shouldn’t have. That’s unfortunate for them.”

Well, it’s got nothing to do with us,” Ophelia said. “So, don’t worry about it.”


The gnowlins looked Paul over curiously when he arrived. Jayla turned to Ophelia chirping quickly as the translator went to work.

“You didn’t say that your medical expert was of a different species.”

Ophelia was taken aback. “He’s not of a different species,” she said.

Jayla looked quizzically from Paul to Ophelia.

“They are different,” she insisted.

“Well, he’s a boy,” Farah jumped in.

“Boy?” Jayla asked. “What is boy?”

“Our species has different sexes,” Paul explained. “Ophelia, Farah & Kat are all females. I’m male. It carries certain physical differences and plays a role in reproduction. Your species doesn’t have distinct sexes?”

“We are variations of one form,” Jayla said.

“Interesting,” Paul muttered. “How does your species reproduce, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“When a pairing engages in private pleasures, their essences pass from one to the other,” Jayla answered. “In this passing, one or both may become heavy with child. Six months later, the child is born.”

“Paul, I think that’s enough of a biology lesson,” Ophelia said. “You can learn more while doing your job.”

“Of course,” Paul said. “Show me to your hospital. I’ll get to work immediately.”

Ophelia watched as Jayla picked out a pair of her people to lead Paul to their city.

“I can’t say I’ve ever seen a single sexed species this complicated,” Kat whispered. “How do you suppose they evolved like that?”

Ophelia shrugged. “Don’t look at me. I slacked off in my extraterrestrial biology and evolution classes.”

“I’m surprised,” Kat said. “You seem like the type who’s interested in other species.”

“I am,” Ophelia said. “I’m just interested in them as they are. Not so much how they got to be that way or how their insides work.”

Jayla and Ilyin approached them with four other gnowlin in tow. “We will lead you around the caverns now,”  Jayla said.

“I don’t like this,” Ilyin whispered, loudly enough that Ophelia could still hear. “We do not know that their ‘expert’ will be of service.”

“Perhaps not,” Jayla said, she didn’t bother keeping her voice down. “But they have shown friendship by trying.” She gestured. “Come, follow us.”

Ophelia, Farah and Kat followed her. Kat noted that each member of the Cerberus crew was being flanked with one gnowlin on each side. If things turned ugly, they were going to be in a very bad position.

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The Last Draconian 33: Michael & Lynai Part

Previous Chapter

Joseph watched the forest line. “Be on your guard,” he ordered. “They could attack at any moment.”

A young troll with a broadsword strapped across his back and a green headband approached him. “General Pinbol, my father is approaching the line.”

“General Brun? Lead him here,” Joseph said. Garet strode forward and nodded to acknowledge Joseph. “What can I do for you?”

“King Stontooth wants you to return to Gruvlick,” Garet stated. “I’m here to relieve you.”

“As the king orders, I follow,” Joseph said. “I would recommend extreme caution. The elves are certain to attack to try to prevent us from venturing into the forest.”

“Don’t worry,” Garet said. “I can handle the tree apes.”


Lynai Elfblood

We stopped at a fresh water stream. Michael bent down to fill his canteen. He had been quiet for days. I didn’t know his background, but I did know that he was lonely. Being the  only draconian out there had  to be a heavy burden. The poor guy had so much trouble expressing himself that he couldn’t come out and say it.

The water in the stream rippled. An image gradually formed. It was a young woman. She had light blond hair; her eyes were entirely white. I couldn’t see pupils or irises. She had a pretty face, pale, but pretty.  I could see bits of ash on her. She didn’t show any signs of noticing.

“Michael, I got your message,” she said. I looked over at Michael he didn’t seem surprised to see her at all. I couldn’t help but wonder when he had sent a message to her, and how had he sent it? I hadn’t seen him do anything like that.

“I thank you for your prompt reply,” Michael said. “How is the meeting progressing?”

“The meeting is over, but if you hurry you should be able to get here before he leaves.”

“I will confront him when he is on the road toward Strecner,” Michael stated. “Thank you for the assistance you have always provided for me.”

The strange woman’s expression changed. Her bottom lip quivered slightly. Michael had upset her. Though, I couldn’t tell why. I looked at him; his expression was as fixed as ever. Did he even notice?

“It wasn’t a problem,” she said. “Please, be careful.” She spoke  like it was a farewell. Her face vanished from the pool.

“Who was that?”

Michael looked at me like he had forgotten that I was there. “That was Illyana Fensen.”

“Who’s on the road to Strecner? What meeting were you talking about?”

“I must ask you to keep your promise,” Michael ignored my questions completely.

“Promise?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“It is time for you to leave,” Michael stated.

That was when I remembered. He was talking about the promise that I made back when we first met.

“Fine. It’s no wonder you’re so alone, you’re heartless!” I began moving back the way we came. I had two opposing thoughts as I went. The first was the hope that he would stop me. The second was the desire to see him continue on his way so that he wouldn’t see me cry. I got the latter.

I’d thought that we were getting to be friends. Guess I was just fooling myself.


“Father, the elves are attacking!”

Garet grabbed his pike. “Don’t worry, Gino, the two of us can handle this. I haven’t dedicated my life to Ares for nothing.”

The two mounted their horses and rode to the line. There were no elves in sight when they arrived. There were fifteen trolls dead, and seven wounded.

“Get the wounded to the cleric tent,” Garet ordered. “What happened after Gino came to get me?”

“The elves retreated into the wood. We gave pursuit, but their arrows cut us down.”

“Damn those cowards!” Garet cried. “Gino, I want you to lead a party into the wood. Let the elves see you and retreat, trick them into coming this way where we’ll be waiting. If you get into trouble use your horn and I’ll be there as quickly as I can.”

“Yes, Father! We shall triumph!” Gino picked out fourteen trolls to join his party and they moved into the forest.


“I’ve picked out the unit that will use the leech stones,” Lais said. “I thought that you’d like to look over it.”

“You know your soldiers better than I do,” Luc said. “I’m sure you’ve made the best possible decision.”

The two sisters were sitting in the garden behind Ulther. They had been preparing Het Wald’s defences feverishly, both of them were exhausted. A bobcat approached them.

“Don’t worry,” Luc said, seeing her sister’s reaction. “That’s Bastian’s familiar, Strawberry. I had him send her with me in case he needed to get in contact with me.”

Luc bent down in front of Strawberry. She put a hand on the bobcat’s forehead. Very gently, she extracted the thoughts that were on the surface of Strawberry’s mind. A moment later she pulled away.

“Are you all right?” Lais asked. “You look pale.”

“Someone attacked Illyana,” Luc said. “Her chamber was charred and she suffered some severe burns. The worst part is that I can’t help her.”

“You can go,” Lais said. “We can handle things here without you. The Royal One will understand why you had to go.”

“We both know that isn’t true,” Luc said. “Until this war ends I have to remain, no matter how much I might wish that the situation was different.”

She buried her face in her hands. “Why? She’s such a sweet girl. Who would wish to cause her harm?”

“The Wicadian authorities will find out!” Lais reassured her. “And the Academy is full of powerful mages. They won’t let anything happen to her.”

“I pray you’re right,” Luc said. “If I lost her… I don’t know what I’d do. I… I think it would break me. I know I’m not her real mother but…”

“You are!” Lais insisted. “Even if you didn’t birth her, she’s always been the daughter of your heart. And I know she feels the same. And right now, you should at least use a sending spell to talk with her. See that she’s doing okay.”

Luc nodded. “Yes, I’ll do that.”

Next Chapter

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The Last Draconian 32: War Time Speeches

Previous Chapter

Lang surveyed the troops that had been placed under his command. There were seven hundred and fifty in all. Lan was standing beside him. He was there to see the troops off.

Lan stepped forward first. “My people assembled here today. You have one trait in common. Whether you’re pixies or elves you have an uncommon courage and zeal. I wish you all the best on the battlefield but, please, don’t be reckless. Fight the hardest you can, but don’t sacrifice your lives in the process. Our people need those like you in order to build a beautiful future. A future that your efforts will lay the ground work for. I will ask the Gods to protect you but I will rely on your courage and strength to see you through. My greatest wish is to see all of you return home alive. May the Gods grant you fortune on the battlefield.”

Lan’s words elicited a burst of cheers and clapping from the soldiers. It took Lang several minutes to quiet them down enough so that he could speak.

“The Royal One has blessed us with his kind words. I thank him for the confidence he has placed in us,” Lang said. “We are truly the hope of the people. Our individual backgrounds are insignificant. We are the first line of defence for the elven people. All of us are here because we volunteered for this assignment. I applaud you all for your courage. It is our duty to keep the trolls away from our families and loved ones. The truth is that we won’t all survive, but those who do fall in battle will not die in vain. For every elf that falls we will make the enemy pay dearly. We will take the lives of a dozen trolls for every one of us who falls. Let us march to meet the enemy with unshakable courage and unwavering steel. We will show them the strength of the elven people. We will buy safety for our people with our very blood! We will fight, for the Royal One, for Het Wald!”

A massive chorus of cheers came from the soldiers. Lan waved at them as they marched away from the capital. Lan stopped Lang before he could depart. “I meant what I said. Don’t take too many risks,” he whispered. “Bring as many of those men and women home as you can. A living hero is more valuable to us than a martyr.” Lang nodded.


“Larick, I want you to choose someone to speak with the troops.”

“They will be most efficient if you speak with them directly, your majesty,” Larick stated.

The troll king shook his head. “I can’t stand that kind of thing. That’s why I want you to pick someone who’ll do a good job.”

“Then I would suggest Joseph Pinbol for the task.”

“He’s on the front line leading the advance unit. Does it really have to be him?”

“I am aware of that, but he is also the best choice. His voice will reach the soldiers like no one else’s can,” Larick said. “You can send someone who you trust completely to hold the line while Joseph returns.”

“Summon General Brun!” the king ordered. “I have a job for him.”


Illyana  Fensen

“The meeting is over,” Professor Mord said. “It’s all thanks to your suggestion. You should be proud of yourself.”

“I suppose,” I mused. Sadow had said that my suggestion was the reason that he changed his position. I was sceptical. Call me paranoid if you must, but I was concerned. What was he planning? Something else to deal with me, perhaps.

There was a sharp rap on the office door. “You may enter,” I said.

I heard Professor Mord rise. His robes fluttered in an odd way. “It’s good to see you, Magi.”

“There’s no need to bow,” Sadow’s hollow voice answered. “I merely came to speak with this formidable young lady.”

“You can speak in front of the Professor,” I kept my voice neutral.

“I see that you respect him a great deal,” Sadow said. “I just came to thank you for your assistance and to apologise for anything I may have done to offend you, for any misunderstanding. It will be highly unfortunate if we can’t come together in harmony.” The implied threat in his message was clear. He had every intention of taking my life if he saw me as a risk. He was giving me a chance to submit. To Tartarus with that and him.

“There is no misunderstanding,” I replied.

“Very well,” Sadow said. “I’m returning home in the morning. I trust that we will meet again.”

“I look forward to it,” I said.

After he left my office I faced the direction that Professor Mord’s tapping was coming from.

“Such a polite Gentleman,” he said. “It’s good to see you get along with him.”

I excused myself and went to my chamber. Professor Mord had a great deal of reverence for the Magi. It wasn’t unusual. They were Hecate’s chosen mages. Almost every mage strived to gain the kind of power that they possessed, and respected them. The only reason that I had become an exception was because Michael had told me the truth about Sadow. Someone like him… Why would the Goddess bless him? Was power truly the only thing that mattered to her?

I heard a sound as I turned my doorknob. It was the sound of a spell being activated. I ran down the hall away from my chamber. I was almost deafened by an explosion. It knocked me off of my feet. I felt a sharp pain as my head came into contact with the wall. Someone had cast a time-delay fireball spell in my chamber. It wasn’t difficult to figure out whom.

Drake was fluttering around over me. I could hear his shrieks and his leathery wings flapping. I pulled myself up. “It’s okay, Drake,” I said. I felt my forehead. There was a bump from where I hit the wall. I wasn’t bleeding though. I sat down and reached into Drake’s mind.

I instructed him to fly into my chamber, what remained of it. His sonar revealed jagged edges where once there had been a smooth doorway. The door itself had been shattered. I had Drake scan my chamber. Everything had been destroyed, except…

I left Drake’s mind and carefully walked into my chamber. Smoke filled my lungs. There was a burning heat surrounding me. I coughed, but continued forward. I found it on the floor. I had been right. It was one of Michael’s messenger devices. I burned my hand picking it up. I tore a piece of cloth from my robe and wrapped it inside.

“Illyana!” it was Professor Mord’s voice. I turned toward the doorway. I felt his wrinkled hand take my shoulder and pull me away from the remains of my chamber. I kept a tight hold of the messenger device and allowed myself to be taken away from the smouldering chamber.

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Voyages of the Cerberus 162: Meeting the Gnomes

Farah followed Ophelia deeper into the mines. They didn’t have far to go before they saw them. The EIG’s “gnomes.” At least, a small group of them. Eight in total. The tallest among them was barely over ninety centimetres tall. They had pale blue skin and sunken eyes in a variety of reds, yellows and oranges. They had thick white hair, pointed ears and an androgynous build.

The group began chattering in high pitched chirps, their tiny arms reaching for their weapons.

Ophelia activated her universal translator and knelt down, presenting her arms to  demonstrate that she had no weapons in hand.

“I’m Captain Ophelia Wester of the Cerberus,” she said, keeping her voice at a normal conversational level and speaking calmly. “May I ask who you are?”

One of them, presumably the leader, stepped forward chattering quickly and angrily. The translator whirred in Ophelia’s ear, trying to process the language.

A second gnome put their hands up and spoke in a calmer, more measured tone, presumably trying to calm the leader down.

The leader gestured emphatically at Ophelia & Farah, still speaking very angrily.

Farah stepped forward slowly, set her pistol in front of her and knelt down.

“We mean you no harm,” she said. “We merely wish to know why you’re guarding this place. We aren’t with the miners but, perhaps we can persuade them to stop doing whatever it is that’s upsetting you.”

Farah gave the gnomes a kind, gentle smile. The sincerity of which wasn’t lost on the little blue people.

The leader visibly calmed and began chattering to their fellows in quiet chirps.

Ophelia wished he would speak with them directly so that the translator could get more to work with. She noticed Kat approaching and silently gestured for her to stay back.

The second, calmer gnome stepped forward, chirping in a calm, measured tone.

“I’m sorry,” Ophelia said. “I can’t understand. “Please, talk a little more.”

The gnome repeated what sounded like the same chirps, speaking more slowly and deliberately. Then did so again. The fourth time, the translator kicked in. “We are the gnowlins. I am Jayla. You come in peace?”

“We do,” Ophelia assured them.

“You are not with the others?” the leader chimed in.

“We are not,” Ophelia said.

“Liar! You came from where they dwell. You are like them. Yet, you dare claim to be different!”

“Peace, Ilyin,” Jayla said. “They have made no hostile moves. They have spoken peaceably with us. They have put aside their arms,” Jayla looked pointedly at Farah. “In this, they are very different.” Jayla turned back towards Ophelia. “Let me ask… Obelia of the Cerberan, what are you doing here?”

“And why is one of your own skulking in the back like a thief?” Ilyin demanded.

“We were asked to examine these mines,” Ophelia answered, ignoring the way they said her name. “As for Kat,” she gestured for her to move forward. Kat complied, taking a seat beside Ophelia. “She was just concerned that you might try to harm us. So, she held back in order to assess the situation. I believe that you can appreciate the sense of taking such precautions.”

“It is certainly something we understand,” Jayla said. “You said you wish to examine this,” they gestured around. “Why?”

“They’re spies!” Ilyin insisted.

“Calm yourself, Ilyin,” Jayla said. “Let Obelia answer.”

“My crew and I take jobs from different people,” Ophelia explained. We were asked to look around. We weren’t told about you and your people. I… suspect that our employers wished to pit us against you. But, we are not killers. We have no interest in fighting you. Therefore, I humbly request that you grant us permission to look around the area.”

“You can’t be serious!” Ilyin exclaimed. “We are at war and you would demand free run over our lands?”

Jayla held up an arm. “They did not say that, Ilyin.” Jayla turned to Ophelia. “Please, forgive my other. She is concerned. The others… the ones you work for… they are a very bad people. They have torn into our lands, tainted what is ours and refuse to cease. It would not behoove us to let them know what the layout here is.”

“What do you mean by tainted?” Kat asked.

“Their machines leak fluids into our food and water,” Jayla explained. “The fluids cause great sickness. We tried pleading but they would not yield. We were forced to try and repel them.”

“Sickness, huh?” Ophelia muttered. She grabbed her communicator. “I’ll make you a deal. We have a great medical expert aboard our ship. If you’ll permit us to look around, I’ll call him to see what he can do about your sickness. And we’ll vow to not betray any of your strategic secrets or tell them anything else that they could use against you. We may even be able to convince them to change their mining process so that they aren’t hurting you.”

“Then you could co-exist!” Farah exclaimed. “Wouldn’t that be better than killing each other?”

“It’s too late for that!” Ilyin said. “They…”

“Enough,” Jayla said. “I believe that your intentions are good.  We will grant them with two additional conditions. Your examination patrol will have three pairings with you at all times and there are certain areas we will not grant you access. Just to be safe. I believe that you can appreciate the sense in taking such precautions.”

“Deal,” Ophelia said. She grabbed her communicator. “Paul, we need you down here. We have some sick aliens who need your help.”She looked over at  Kat. “Kat, go pick him up and show him the way over here. We’ll have a little chat with our friends here.”

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The Last Draconian 31: The Magi’s Meeting Ends

Previous Chapter

“Decide, we must,” Entrik said. “Otherwise we will seem like people who are incompetent.”

“Being in a rush is a weakness of the young,” Squen said. “We should have all freed ourselves from that state long ago.”

“Besides, there is still some argument,” Pran pointed out.

“This whole debate is a waste of my time,” Solan said. He crossed his arms.

“An equitable solution, we lack,” Entrick said. “Perhaps the girl who is the headmistress, an idea that is good will possess.”

“I’ll go get her,” Sadow volunteered.

“That won’t be needed,” Pran said. “One of you can send your familiar.”

“I’ll take care of it,” Squen said. “Fang is starting to get lazy; it’ll do him good to get out of the ground.”

Squen closed his eyes. He reached out to the Academy grounds. A large mole cocked its head. He burrowed his way out of the underground and strolled across the ground toward the office. He sniffed the ground beneath the window.

“Strange,” Squen said. “There’s a mixture of herbal tea and ricin on the ground.”

“That is none of our concern,” Solan said. “She is blind. She was probably mixing some chemicals and accidentally added some to her tea. Surprised she didn’t drink it too.”

“Likely, that is not. More competent, she seems,” Entrik observed. “Besides, application that is little, ricin has. Doubtful it is that useful for academy business it would be.”

“This is not a productive topic,” Pran said. “When she is brought here she might be able to enlighten us.”

Fang shimmied up the brick wall and knocked his body against the window.

“She’s opened the window,” Squen reported. “I’ve got her following Fang. She’ll be here soon.”

The council chamber door opened. Fang hopped in and sat beside Squen’s feet. “Did you need me?” Illyana asked.

“We have reached an impasse,” Pran stated. “We were hoping that you would have an idea.”

Illyana sat down. “It’s traditional for decisions reached by the Magi to be unanimous, right?”

“A correct statement, that is,” Entik said.

“It can’t be helped,” Solan agreed. “It has always been the way of things.”

“I understand,” Illyana said. “The main problem that I observed when I was here was the lack of understanding. Maybe if you each switched your position you could understand the other side.”

“That is a logical course of action,” Pran said.

“A type of thinking that is interesting, that is,” Entik said. “Try it, we should.”

“Thank you for your assistance, my good lady,” Sadow said.

“Reconvene in the morning, we will,” Entrik stated. “At that time, argue on sides that are opposite we will.”


Lio gathered his soldiers together. “Spread out,” he ordered. “Return to the capital quickly.”

“Sir, we’ve caught sight of some trolls moving toward the border,” a scout reported.

“How large is the unit?” Lio asked.

“I counted fifty seven enemies,” she said.

“We will move back and engage them,” Lio said. “Our numbers are superior to theirs. Everyone, ready your bows and take to the trees. Make your shots count; we will only have the chance to fire one volley before the enemy notices our presence. As soon as they are within range, I will signal the start of the attack.”

“Wouldn’t it be a better idea to pull back?” the scout asked.

“No,” Lio stated firmly. “We have the advantage of surprise and numbers. Our actions will mean that there are fifty seven less trolls to menace us.”

The elves clambered up the trees around the border. They readied their bows. The troll unit rode to the edge of the forest on horses. Lio mimicked a bluebird’s song. The arrows were released.

At that exact moment the troll commander gave a signal and the trolls raised their shields. Only five trolls were too slow to block the shots.

“This battlefield is ours!” Joseph cried. He made a chopping motion with his right arm. A troll clad in dark robes touched the ground.

“Get down!” Lio called. “It’s a mage!”

The elves scrambled out of the trees. Stone darts shot from the ground toward the tree line. Fifteen elves were impaled by the darts before they could protect themselves.

Joseph cut down two elves as he approached Lio. Lio brought up his shield. It was torn asunder by the force of Joseph’s spear. Lio felt a surge of pain go up his arm before Joseph impaled him.

“Finish them off!” Joseph commanded. He kicked Lio’s body away from his spear. “We must follow Lord Larick’s plan.”

The trolls caught the remaining elves in a pincer movement. The elves were quickly over-whelmed.


Michael Ryufan

We had made camp in the inner confines of a cave in order to avoid the rain storm that was currently pelting the ground. Lynai had gone to the other side of the cave to slumber. I felt the messenger device in the palm of my hand.

“Record,” I commanded. The machine emitted a faint green light as it activated. I began the message.

“Illyana, I am currently in proximity to Wicadia. Has Sadow made his egress as of yet? I humbly request that you send me a response at your earliest convenience.”

I placed the machine on the ground. The green light faded. I took it in my hand again and sent it to the wind.


“Gentleman,” Sadow began, “I have considered your position as our gracious host has suggested. In doing so I realized that I have been obstinate. I have decided to follow your lead.”

“Mean, does this that the debate which has run long is over?” Entrik asked.

“That is correct,” Sadow said. “Larick’s involvement in this matter is his right as an elf. It is not our place to interfere. I apologise for keeping you here for so long.”

“In that case I move that we end this meeting,” Pran said.

“Agreed,” Solan said. “I have wasted enough time on this matter.”

“Everyone else, agree do you?” Entrik asked. Squen and Sadow nodded. “Then this meeting adjourned, I call.”

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Voyages of the Cerberus 161: Ellen’s Confession

The system was failing. Slowly, but surely Lucy was getting through. Whoever designed EIG’s firewall was good, there was no denying it. She was better.

A warning popped up onto her terminal. Someone had detected her and was trying to trace the hack. She wasn’t worried. Her system would lead them on quite the chase and, ultimately, her work would be done before they’d get past her little maze.

Still, it didn’t hurt to take some precautions. She grabbed her com. “Grace, grab your hand held and meet me in the conference room.”


The mines were, surprisingly, gorgeous. Lights reflected off of multi-coloured minerals embedded in the walls. If not for the drab stations for mining tools, hover trolleys and carrying crates, it would’ve been even better.

“It’s really pretty,” Farah stated.

“I take it the minerals aren’t worth much,” Ophelia observed.

“Nope,” Ellen confirmed. “They’re shiny but don’t have much use. We tried to figure out a way to use them for jewellery, but they aren’t really suitable for that.”

“And why is that?” Kat inquired.

“Feel one,” Ellen said.

Kat reached out and tested one. “It’s soft.”

“That’s the problem,” Ellen said. “It’s like touching jelly. No one wants that texture on their necklace.”

She led them further in. Ophelia noted some markers carved into the wall.

“And what do these symbols mean?” She asked.

Ellen froze. There were beads of sweat covering her forehead. “Those…. those are… you’ll see when we finish the tour.”

Ophelia gestured for Farah and Kat to hold their ground. “I’d like to know before we go further.”

“Y… you’re being paid to tour the mines,” Ellen stated, her face turning a bright red. “So, follow me and do your jobs.”

“Oh, we know what we’re being paid for,” Ophelia said. “But let me tell you something, Miss Forewoman, my crew takes jobs knowing and accepting the risks. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that these markers are a warning of some kind. Now, we,” she gestured at Farah and Kat, “weren’t told about anything dangerous down here. And I will not risk my crew by ignoring clear warnings without knowing why. So, Miss Forewoman, you can either tell us what these marks mean or we can leave you down here by yourself.”

“We could always find out by tying her up and tossing her beyond this point,” Kat suggested.

“We could just leave her tied up here,” Farah said. “We can hide behind the corner there and get a good view of what happens.”

“You can’t!” Ellen cried. “I… I’ll tell you.” She took a deep breath. “W… we call them gnomes. After the myths, you know? They… they’ve been causing lots of problems for our operation. Sabotaging equipment, even attacking miners. We… we figured that you would be able to defend yourselves. They’re small, you see. Bu… but there are a lot of them.”

“And you thought that even if we failed we’d thin their numbers,” Kat said. “Send a message for you.”

Did you try talking with them?” Farah asked. “Maybe they’d listen?”

“We did!” Ellen insisted. “We sent several negotiators. The gnomes s…. sent their… pieces back. Trust me. These things are abhorrent savages!”

“I might have an easier time believing that if you’d told us about them to begin with,” Ophelia said.

“Do we continue into the mines, Captain?” Kat asked. “No one would blame us for turning back.”

“We have to keep going,” Farah insisted. “I mean, what other group of mercenaries will give these little guys a chance?”

“You can’t be serious!” Ellen cried. “You have to take them down. It’s your job.”

“No,” Ophelia said. “Our job was to tour the mines. Kat, Farah, make sure to keep your hands away from your weapons unless you absolutely can’t avoid it. We’re going to finish our job and if we encounter these ‘gnomes’ we’ll try talking to them and see what their grievance is.”

“I’ll send Lucy a report,” Kat volunteered. “She’ll want to know about this.”

“Farah, I’ll need you to back me up if they show up,” Ophelia said. “We’ll try talking to them, but they might not listen to us.”

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The Last Draconian 30: The Troll Generals

Previous Chapter

Illyana Fensen

I sat in my office, nursing a headache. The Magi were widely revered as wise men, but I was starting to think that it was an undeserved reputation. They were more like children arguing in circles than adults debating.

A knock interrupted my thoughts. “Who is it?” I asked.

“Bastian,” was the response.

“You can come in, Professor,” I said. I heard the door creak open and the incessant tapping of his staff against the floor. Normally, it was a welcome sound, but I didn’t need it right now.

“I see that the meetings are troubling you,” he observed. “Just like I was told. Here, I brought you some medicine.”

I held the glass in my hand. It was warm. There was something odd about its scent… “What is it?”

“It’s a headache remedy,” Professor Mord answered. “Sadow was worried about you so he asked me to bring it to you.”

I tried to look natural. I suppressed the desire to immediately drop the glass and kept my hands from shaking. “Thank you,” I said. “If you’ll excuse me I have a lot of work to do.”

“No problem. I hope that you feel better soon,” I heard the tapping get farther away. The door opened and quickly closed. I walked to the office window where Drake was napping.

“I’m sorry for disturbing you,” I told him. I opened the window and poured the liquid out, letting it drain into the grass. Drake flew to my shoulder and nuzzled my face. He always knew just how to calm me.


“This council of war is called to a session,” the troll king said. “Larick, as my new adviser you’ll need to be familiar with my four Generals.”

The king pointed to a troll with dark green skin and short grey hair. “This is Selene Nol. She’s a veteran of many battles and she has great prowess, especially with a bow. No one else in my land can shoot farther or more accurately than her.”

“You can’t underestimate a lifetime of experience,” Larick said. “I’m certain that your abilities will be highly useful.” She smiled and nodded at him.

The troll king indicated a very tall bearded troll who was carrying a pike. “This is Garet Brun. Many of my people know him as a warrior without equal.”

“It is a pleasure to meet a warrior of such renown,” Larick said.

“I don’t fully trust you,” Garet said. “Just so you know, I will scatter all of my lord’s enemies with my blade. If you turn out to be one of them I will show you no mercy.”

“Garet!” the king cried. “I’m sorry about that, Larick.”

“There is no reason to be concerned,” Larick said. “His loyalty is commendable.”

The king indicated a stocky troll who was holding a large jug. She had an axe strapped across her back. “This is Zelma Fan, she drinks a lot, but her physical strength is beyond anything I’ve ever seen.”

“I look forward to seeing your strength on the battlefield,” Larick said.

Zelma took a chug, leaving some liquid around her mouth. “And I look forward to seeing your abilities. I’m told you have quite powerful magic.”

The troll king indicated a young troll with long black hair tied into a ponytail. He had a spear at his side. “This is Joseph Pinbol. He’s young, but highly skilled.”

“I see a fascinating future ahead of you,” Larick said. “It will be interesting to see its events begin to unfold.”

“I thank you for your kind words,” Joseph said.

“Larick,” the king said. “I would like you to take another role. The role of my army’s strategist and fifth General.”

“I foresaw this proposal,” Larick stated. “I will accept the appointment. Under my plans, your army will chase their enemies back to their inner city and surround them. They will become desperate. Within a couple weeks of that moment, the war will end.”


Michael Ryufan

“How much longer do you intend to follow me?” I had noted with some concern that Lynai seemed to be forming an attachment to me. I had already made an error in forming one friendship. I did not need, or desire, another.

We were rapidly making progress toward Wicadia. Sadow was likely to take the most direct route from Wicadia to Strecner. He had no reason to suspect an attack. I had calculated the ideal point from which to launch my assault against him. The only task that remained before reaching that point was to extricate myself from Lynai.

“I’ve only been out of Het Wald a few times, and I was always closely watched during those occasions. I never had the freedom to look around and see the world. That’s why I’m travelling with you. I think that I’ll be able to see quite a bit that way,” Lynai explained.

“Would it not be more conducive to freedom if you were unencumbered by a travelling companion?”

“Don’t worry about that,” Lynai said. “I don’t really have anywhere to go, so I might as well keep you company.”

So that was her line of reasoning. She considered her actions altruistic. Somehow, she had come under the impression that I was in need of company and she had decided to provide it for me. It caused me to reflect on some words from James Fingol. He once said “The most dangerous people are those who consider themselves to be intervening on behalf of your best interests.”

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