Dragon Earl

By The Story Lover

Preface and dedication: This story may seem familiar to you and there are reasons for that. This story is inspired by “Memories” and “A New Day Dawns” as well as the true life story of our favorite nephews THP. I want to personally thank both ACFan and Gunrunner for allowing me to write this story which infringes upon their copyrighted material. I greatly appreciate them for doing this. This story is a Fantasy it will have Dragons and Elves and sundry other Fantasy Races. It is also being written as a tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Mercedes Lackey two of my favorite Fantasy Authors. This story is dedicated to August Christopher as a continuation of his legacy.

THIS STORY IS . DISTRIBUTION FOR COMMERCIAL GAIN, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, POSTING ON SITES OR NEWSGROUPS, DISTRIBUTION AS PARTS OR IN BOOK FORM (EITHER AS A WHOLE OR PART OF A COMPILATION) WITH OR WITHOUT A FEE, OR DISTRIBUTION ON CD, DVD, OR ANY OTHER ELECTRONIC MEDIA WITH OR WITHOUT A FEE, IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED WITHOUT THE AUTHOR'S WRITTEN CONSENT. YOU MAY DOWNLOAD ONE (1) COPY OF THIS STORY FOR PERSONAL USE; ANY AND ALL COMMERCIAL USE EXCEPTING EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS REQUIRES THE AUTHORS WRITTEN CONSENT. THE AUTHOR MAY BE CONTACTED AT: The Story Lover

 

Chapter Ten - War Eagles, a Beginning

 

From Chapter Nine: With the hour of midnight fast approaching, the sacrifice was secured to the altar and the High Priest Phelps was anxiously awaiting the appearance of the Avatar. The nearby mountain top had begun issuing a very large plume of black smoke and the emergence of the Puritanian Religion's Saviour was at hand. The blackness in the aperture from which the Avatar would emerge began to ripple and undulate the tension in the chamber began to heighten dramatically. The aperture began to bulge outward the grand moment was at hand!

Author's Disclaimer: The inspiration for this chapter came from 'The Phone', 'Darkstar' and 'ACFan'! Please send all hate mails, torches and pitchforks to them. It is all their fault; that is my story and I am sticking to it!

TSL

High in the mountains of Erehwon, north of where Castle Highmont would eventually be located, Horus soared majestically, overseeing his kingdom. It was a magnificent day, as far as Horus was concerned, warm enough to create excellent thermals, but with just enough clouds to keep things cool on the ground far below him. Horus had already feasted wonderfully on some of his favourite foods earlier in the day, as his prey crept out from its den. The slight cloud cover hid Horus's shadow, as he swooped down for his meal.

Horus was keeping an occasional eye on the Two Legs trail below him, as the two legs sometimes left bits of food behind, which attracted more of Horus's prey. As Horus's gaze swept the trail far below him, he saw a small party traveling up one of the arduous switchbacks that made up that portion of the trail. A small cloud of dust caught Horus's attention, and, when he saw what was happening, he dove as fast as he could to warn the two legs, screeching, as loudly as he could, the whole way. But it was to no avail. All his warning did was to cause the adult two legs to look up the mountainside and see their death raining upon them, as a very large landslide hit and swept them off the path to their deaths, thousands of feet below. Their pack animal was knocked aside by a few small boulders and thrown to the ground, then killed instantly by the boulder that smashed its skull.

By the time the speeding Horus could reach the scene, it was all over, except for the settling of the dust. The expertly carved trail was magically unharmed, except for a few boulders rolling around, but there was nothing that would dramatically impede travel. As Horus began to turn away and search for another thermal, a faint movement near the pack animal caught his keen eyesight. Horus flapped his large golden wings and very carefully landed near the lifeless pack animal. As he began to hop over to it for a closer look, he heard a strange sound from the vicinity of the pack animal. Moving very cautiously, the Eagle inched closer and closer, trying to determine what the sound was. Suddenly the quiet sound rose to the screeching wail of a youngling. Horus stopped suddenly in his tracks, unsure as to what to do now; he couldn't believe what he was hearing. For, although Horus and his kind generally kept their distance from the Two Legs, he was very familiar with them, as one of his favourite nesting spots was located near a small village of Two Legs. Horus easily recognized the sound as that of a very young two legs child, easily a chick, or, in Two Legs speech, a baby; but he wouldn't know that until much later. Horus thought things over for a few moments more, and then decided to investigate and see what, if anything, could be done to help.


Back in the present, in Puritania, the excitement continued to build at a feverish pace, nearly reaching a crescendo, as the High Priest had the Ceremonial Knife poised above the sacrifice's heart, and the bulge in the aperture neared its breaking point. Their saviour was nigh, and soon jubilation would ring out, as the Puritanians' power would be on its ascendant. Suddenly, things became very exiting, as a thin black tendril reached out from the aperture and caressed the face of the sacrifice. The tendril was quickly retracted, and the bulge of the aperture grew slightly outward and began pulsing rapidly. All of the priests and onlookers were too busy watching the aperture, or they would have seen a very strange thing; the sacrifice was smiling. In addition to the rapid pulsing, lights of many colors began swirling inside the aperture, just visible through the slightly translucent blackness. An unbiased onlooker would have wondered why yellow and orange lights seem to predominate. Suddenly, the ground began to shake, and white and black smoke began to issue from vents around the chamber; several torches flared very brightly, as they burned the gases emitting from the vents, as well. The aperture began to split there was a large burst of light and head began to emerge; the moment of truth was at hand. The High Priest recovered quickly and raised the sacrificial knife into the air above his head while chanting a prayer. High Priest Phelps began the downward slash with the knife........


In the far distant past:

Horus hopped over to the side of the fallen pack animal, looking closely to see where the Two Legs youngling was hidden. As he got closer to the side of the pack animal, he felt a slight itch inside his head. Horus stopped in his tracks, puzzled by the feeling, since it was unlike anything he had felt before. He calmed himself with a few mental exercises that allowed him to center himself. Once he was calm and centered, Horus reached out with his senses and found the source of his mental itch.

To his surprise, the mental itch he felt was coming from the two legs youngling. Horus was stunned; he had never known any Two Legs to have the mental ability for him to feel. Horus paused for a few moments to regain his thoughts, and, while he did so, the two legs youngling again let his presence be known with a wail that threatened to cause another avalanche.

It took Horus several moments to figure out where all of the noise was coming from. It seemed to be coming from under the pack animal, but, as he got closer, he realized that the noise wasn't actually coming from under the animal, but instead, from under the saddle bags. Horus very carefully moved closer and closer, until he was standing next to the pack bags, and with his beak, he carefully moved the top bag, until he could see the squealing youngling. When the youngling saw Horus, he let out a satisfied coo, which struck Horus as a bit unusual.

Horus now had a dilemma, as the youngling definitely needed to be changed, and, as capable as he was, changing a two legs youngling's swaddling clothes was going to be impossible; even if he had clean ones to do it. Horus paused to think a moment about how he was going to resolve his problem; then suddenly he remembered that one of the Two Legs females in his village had just lost one of her own younglings. Now, all Horus had to do was figure out how to get the youngling to the village and his problems would be over, or so he thought.

He realized that he needed to hurry, as his olfactory senses were being severely overloaded with the youngling's powerful stench. Deciding that he needed to move quickly, Horus tore open the saddle bag nearest him. He let out a slight squeal of amazement, which was echoed by the youngling; in that bag was some netting material that might solve the transportation issue. Now that he had part of his problem solved, all he had to do was to figure out how to get the smelly youngling onto the webbing. He picked up some of the webbing material and then laid it out on the ground, and with his beak and talons he soon had something approximately the right size for what he needed. Horus carefully moved the webbing as close as he could to the now very curious youngling. Now all that remained was to get the youngling onto the webbing. Spying some kind of shiny object, he picked up the bauble with his beak and held it where the youngling could see it. Once he had the youngling's attention, he tossed the bauble onto the webbing, and, as he had hoped, the youngling's eyes followed the shiny object, and the youngling tried to crawl onto the webbing to get it, but the saddle bag that was lying on top of him stopped him. While the youngling was trying to crawl onto the webbing, Horus, using his incredibly strong talons and a little wing power was able to lift the saddle bag off the youngling. With a squeal of joy, the youngling crawled as fast as he could toward the shining bauble. As soon as the youngling was clear of the saddle bag, Horus let go of it. As soon as he had released the saddle bag, he moved over to one side of the webbing, picked it up in his talons, and with a quick hop over the youngling to the other side, he then grabbed that side of the webbing. While the youngling was still enthralled with the shiny bauble, Horus launched himself into the air and with several strong beats of his wings, he was soon airborne, with a happily squealing youngling secured in the webbing.

After a few minutes of flying, the youngling began to squirm about a bit, and started crying. Horus began sending calming thoughts, while he went over his options. 'That younger two-legs female who just lost her youngling might be suitable, or maybe the grandmother whose children are leaving the village. But how do I get the youngling clean? His stench will overwhelm me before I reach the village, if I can't find some way to get rid of that horrible smell.' He continued flying toward his village, his mind going over his options, making and discarding several plans, before he remembered there was a warm springs located on the direct path to his village. Horus changed the angle of his flight slightly, to gain a bit more altitude, and then he dove at a sharp angle toward the warm springs, and, hopefully, a much cleaner youngling. Horus considered the village where he roosted, his, as it was located in the territory he called his. All the others of his kind acknowledged Horus's territory and always requested permission before venturing into it.

Within a few minutes, Horus was approaching the warm springs and he had decided on his approach. Once Horus was over the warm springs, he slowly spiraled lower and lower until he was only a few feet above the water. Horus knew that these warm springs were only lukewarm, so he wasn't worried about scalding his youngling. In an effort to prepare the youngling, Horus sent him images of young birds and other young animals frolicking happily in the water. When he didn't feel any negative thoughts from his youngling, Horus slowed the beating of his wings and slowly lowered the youngling into the warm water. Horus hovered with the youngling partially immersed in the water for a few moments then he began beating his wings faster, slowly raising the youngling out of the water. Horus repeated this several times, until he thought the youngling was clean enough. It seemed the youngling was enjoying his impromptu bath, as he was cooing and giggling. As Horus began to regain some height and resume his flight towards his village, the youngling slipped into slumber; lulled there by the warm waters and the slight rocking of his web.

Horus slowed his wings a bit to keep the youngling from getting chilled before they reached the village. His keen eyesight was beginning to pick out movement in the village ahead of him. Seeing the bustle in the village, Horus increased his speed slightly, so he could deliver his present to the young mother. As he got closer, he saw that the Two-Legs Mother he was interested in was out in her yard hanging laundry. Horus increased his height slightly to get a better overview of the village, to ensure that he had plenty of room to maneuver and land. Seeing the mother begin to head inside, Horus began his glide towards her silently. When he got close enough, he began backwinging to his landing place, right in front of the Two Legs. When Horus was close enough to the ground, he very carefully let the webbing go. He then began gaining height, flew around behind the woman and landed a short distance behind her. The woman was standing there, stunned at the sight of the youngling lying in front of her. Horus decided that the Two Legs wasn't going to move very soon, so he decided to resolve that situation himself. He made a few small crow hops, until he was directly behind the Two Legs, and then butted her in the back with his head.

The Two Legs female gave out a squeal; then her maternal instincts took over, and she quickly moved toward the youngling. The Two Legs quickly reached the youngling, bent over and pulled him to her breast, and began making soothing sounds to the now cooing youngling. The Two Legs then turned around to see who had hit her in the back. Seeing Horus, she began telling him off in no uncertain terms.

"You stupid War Eagle, just who do you think you are, dumping a poor defenseless youngling on us. Just because you think you own this village doesn't give you the right to dump your problems off on us. Also, just because you share some of your hunts with us during sparse times for us........."

The Two Legs woman stopped her tirade in mid sentence, as the youngling got her attention.

"What's your name, little one?" The Two Legs mother asked the cooing youngling in her arms.

Horus was startled when he 'heard' something that vaguely sounded like "Tana". After it bounced inside his head for the third time, Horus finally came to the conclusion that "Tana" was the youngling's name. Horus then did something that, to his knowledge, no other War Eagle had ever done.

'His name is "Tana," I believe,' Horus sent to the Two Legs Mother.

Horus nearly fell out of the sky when he 'heard':

'Thank you, `dada.'


Duugie drained the last of his breakfast tea; grabbed a handful of nuts and headed out of his cave.

Once outside, Duugie took a deep breath, inhaling the wonderfully fresh, crisp air of the Autumn day. Exhaling, he took a quick look around, and then waved to a few of his friends on the valley floor below. Placing the nuts in his sporran, he was now ready to begin his day.

Seeing the way clear, Duugie ran towards the ledge and jumped outward, falling quickly into a very graceful swan dive. Before much more than a second or two had passed, he executed a full twist, followed by a full layout somersault. As he came out of the somersault, he snapped his wings open, unfurling them fully with an audible whoosh as they caught air. He quickly banked to the right and caught the thermal rising from the Village Hot Springs and quickly spiraled out of sight.

Duugie’s friends on the valley floor chuckled quietly to themselves, as the village guards valiantly launched, in a vain attempt to catch Duugie; but as usual, they were too late, and off the mark. Duugie was not one of the Royal Messengers for nothing, as he quickly reached the height he wanted and dove into a full speed dive toward another thermal, while his erstwhile pursuers were on the backside of the thermal, and hundreds of feet below, as well. By the time his pursuers sighted him again, Duugie was nearly out of the valley and way beyond their reach. He was laughing to himself at catching the guards napping again.

Duugie gracefully swooped down into the valley he had headed toward, for some well deserved R&R. As the youngest of the Falconeid Royal Messengers, he was only supposed to be on duty once a week, or so. Unfortunately for him, the King had taken notice of his speed and professional demeanor, and had called for him almost every day for the past several weeks.


When Just' awoke the next morning; he felt more alive and safe than he had in a long time.

His head was still spinning slightly from everything that had happened to him during the audience. He had gone from being an orphan, to being a member of one of the most powerful families in the Kingdom of Erehwon, if not the High Kingdom of Draconia. If that wasn't enough, he was now an Earl, Prince Consort, Justiciar Prelate, and if that wasn't enough, a father to boot.

The love of his life was still sleeping soundly, with an arm lightly and lovingly holding on to Just's' chest. As Just' lay there basking in the warm glow of Joth's love, he came up with a wonderful idea for the two of them and their son, Jonah.

He knew he had to get moving, as Jonah would probably be arriving very soon from his Grandma Angie and Grandpa Rafe's. Carefully easing himself out from under his lover's hold, Just' placed his pillow under Joth's arm.

'Gus, could you please do me a big favor?' Just' sent, while slipping into a dressing gown.

'Of course, Just', how can I help?' His friend replied.

'Please tell Joth when he wakes up, to stay in, and that I will be back shortly.' Just' replied warmly to one of his best friends.

'Actually, Just', it will be easier for me to keep him asleep until you come back. The extra sleep will do him good,' Gustavo replied, after quickly scanning Just' and seeing what Just' had planned.

'Thanks, Gus, you are awesome.'

'Of course, and I love you too, Just'.'

Just' used the facilities quickly and then headed out of their suite.

As he was going out the door, J'ame and Lance snapped to attention, causing Just', as well as Thomaso, who had been waiting outside, to chuckle.

Quickly regaining his composure, Just' then turned to Thomaso.

"Thomaso, please go to the King's and Queen’s Quarters and tell Jonah that he will be eating with Joth and me in our quarters," Just' asked the page who had been temporarily assigned to him. Just' was hoping that John's younger brother would accept the permanent position.

"At once, Your Highness; right away, Your Highness," Thomaso flippantly replied.

Just' grimaced, shook his head, muttering to himself, and then replied,

"Thomaso, my name is Just', not 'Your Highness'! In public you can call me that. But here in the family area, I am just JUST'. Is that clear?"

"Yes, Your Highness, just Just'! Of course, Your Highness, just Just'!" Thomaso cheekily replied.

Lance and J'ame both found some piece of their uniform or equipment to fuss with, in order to control their laughter.

Just' was becoming very frustrated with the whole situation; however, he didn't want to snap at Thomaso. Instead of snapping at him, Just' turned toward the kitchen, as he tried to compose himself. Just as he looked down the hallway to the kitchen, John exited the kitchen and hurried towards the commotion.

Unknown to Just', Gustavo had decided to have some fun, and had filled John in on what was going on.

"Is there a problem I can help you with, Your Highness?" A grinning John asked.

Before the shocked Just' could respond, John continued his tease.

"Thomaso, I am ashamed of you! Calling Just' 'Your Highness' against his wishes!"

Just' started to calm down a bit, but that calm was shattered by John's next words.

"His name is Your Highness, Just'; we have to keep that in mind, so we don't confuse Prince Joth." John was trying hard not to break out laughing.

Unfortunately for Just', Lance and J'ame couldn't. The two body guards broke out laughing so hard at Just's' discomfiture that they nearly fell over.

Once Lance and J'ame started laughing, John and Thomaso began giggling like a couple of teenaged girls.

Just' threw up his hands in the air and headed towards the kitchen exclaiming,

"I give up!"

Of course these words started the four friends laughing even harder.

One of the Castle staff walking by just shook her head and muttered,

"Men!"

While the four giggling idiots were trying to recover some sense of propriety, Just' had reached the kitchen, and upon entering was greeted with a lot of formality and bows by the staff.

Cook started to bow, but she caught the look on Just's' face and gave Just' a slight head bow instead.


Jarli1 had been hiking in the mountains outside his small hamlet of Rícola for several hours. The heat and the altitude were beginning to catch up with him, but he was determined to finish the task he had set out to do.

For several weeks now, he had seen what he thought was a very large bird, circling a peak far from Rícola, then disappearing. Jarli's backpack was very heavy, as he had packed enough food and clothing for several days, or so he had hoped.

The mountains around Rícola contained many visible peaks, as well as many not easily seen. As a result, there were many hidden valleys and beautiful waterfalls to be discovered. Jarli was hoping to find where the bird was hiding, and what it was doing flying around that peak.

Alpine Flowers

Jarli's belt pouch was full of stones, so that hopefully he could hunt and supplement his meals along the way. His biggest problems would be water and staying warm at night; however, the multiple waterfalls should solve his thirst problem. Staying warm at night meant finding some nook or cave to spend the night in, out of the wind, or, if that failed, at least a rock big enough to block the wind, so he could build a small fire to cook and keep warm.

While Jarli tried to keep at least part of his concentration on the sky, that was not always easy, as the terrain under foot was not always smooth. Several times during the day, large bird-shaped shadows caused him to look skyward quickly, but all Jarli saw were War Eagles and a few Draconisian Condors. As the first day was nearing an end, Jarli nearly killed himself tripping over a loose stone while gazing skyward in his never ending quest. Luckily for him, he was able to almost completely catch his balance. As he was stumbling and trying to regain his balance and footing, Jarli put his arm out to catch himself, and found himself falling again as his arm missed the mountainside and found a crack. That crack in the wall turned out to be a hidden cave opening. Once Jarli had regained his bearings, and the stars stopped spinning in his head, he slowly got to his feet, and, after checking to make sure that all his body parts were still attached in the right places, walked slowly into the cave.


Back in the present on the other side of Draconis from Erehwon:

The Einhorn moved slowly through the damaged forest, allowing his magic to very slowly bring life back into the wasted flora and fauna. He knew he couldn't stay too long in this part of the forest, before his energy would be completely exhausted. Antonius needed both food and magical energy, and there was neither of these here, in amounts large enough to sustain his large equine body. He sent his senses as far as they could reach, trying to determine how far this blighted area extended. He really didn't want to go back the way he had come, as the choice of food there was scant, and the magical energy weak.

As Antonius moved gracefully and carefully through the recovering forest, the light reaching him turned his silvery hide into a glowing white. His senses brought him some good news; the damaged area was much smaller than he had originally thought. A few more minutes, and he would be able to recharge his depleted magic stores, as well as his growling stomach.

Unfortunately, his senses had found no information on who or what had virtually destroyed this once beautiful forest. The frustration of not knowing the answer was beginning to wear on Antonius, as he and his clan were seeing too much of this, lately. Antonius and his clan were highly intelligent, physically powerful, and masters of both corporeal and incorporeal magic. Antonius' Clan could perform mighty feats of magic, using both the magical energy stored in their bodies (Corporeal) and the magical energy available through the air and emanating from objects (Incorporeal). The Einhorns of Antonius' Clan were among the first to arrive on what soon would be known as Draconis, and would quickly resume their roles of Magical Paladins2 for Draconis as they had done for Gaia on Terra.

Antonius was hoping to meet up with others of his Clan shortly (Only the ignorant would call an Einhorn Clan a 'herd'.), as he was unable to make mental contact, due to some strange interference in the area. All of the Einhorn Clans took their job as Magical Defenders and Healers seriously, and blighted areas such as this were a cause for major concern. In this case, it was even more disheartening, as these forests were where some of the first Einhorns to arrive on Draconis chose to settle.

Of all the magical creatures on Draconis, and many other planets, the Einhorn were always hunted the most. It seems that once it was discovered that they could heal flora and fauna magically, and seemingly without effort, their individual lives were in danger. One of the reasons for this was a misguided and very mistaken belief that their protuberance was the repository of their magical powers and healing ability. In fact, the protuberance was the focus for the Einhorn's senses, and acted as a concentrator when sensing energies both magical and physical. Antonius was a perfect specimen of an Einhorn; he stood approximately nineteen hands and had a deep broad chest, which suggested endurance and stamina. His withers and shoulders were of a proportionate size and his vertebrae were also configured appropriately for speed and jumping. All in all, Antonius was nearly perfect, perfect except for the fact that he was mateless again.

Shaking his head in dismay again, Antonius's mind wandered back many years ago as he remembered clearly the beauty of this forest and its meadows.

Butterfly

Gone were all of the verdant greenery and the pinks, blues, reds and yellows of the many flowers and shrubs that used to be abundant. 'Those were the days,' mused Antonius as he continued his stately walk through the blighted forest, dreaming of the day when he and his clan had restored nature to what it was before the damage had been wrought.

Antonius extended his senses once again to see how much further he had to go before he reached the non-blighted area. His spirits picked up a bit, as he saw that he would be out of the desolation within a half hour or so. Antonius picked up his pace slightly with a small pang of regret, as he realized that the healing would not happen as quickly; but then he realised that because of his earlier work, the healing would continue just at a more natural pace. As the lure of food and magical energy increased, Antonius unconsciously increased his pace towards the beauty ahead of him.

As he neared the border of the blighted area, he began receiving messages from some of his Clan. The messages were mostly of a positive nature, and that buoyed Antonius's spirit greatly. Antonius briefly considered increasing his pace even faster, but his innate goodness took over, and he kept his pace the same. The closer he came to the edge of the forest, the more the messages increased, until soon he was in contact with almost all of his Clan. The overall consensus was that no one was sure who was causing the blight.

The areas that Antonius had passed through were slowly losing the greyish tinge, and bits of green were now becoming visible. Buds were beginning to form and soon, new plants would force their way to the surface. Beneath the surface, bacteria and insects began doing their job of converting the blighted detritus into material for the new growth to use. The overall healing would take weeks, and in some places months, due to the extent of the damage. Antonius heard a slight twittering and sensed small bits of energy moving towards him from the clearing he was headed for. He felt his spirits lifting with the thought that it was some friends coming to see him.

A few moments later, there was a soft rustling of wings and a slight breeze that fanned Antonius' mane. Antonius's raised his head slightly, and was rewarded with multiple rainbows reflecting from many wings of his faerie friends. His spirits were raised greatly, when several of his faeries dropped bundles of sweet grasses and alfalfa at his feet. His mouth started watering, as he scented the aroma from the sweet grasses and alfalfa. His spirits rose even more, when more of his winged friends arrived, carrying several different types of fruits. A short time later, a small flock of birds flew overhead, beaks full of worms, seeds and seedlings. The flock headed down the trail that Antonius had created, dropping their gifts along the way. These gifts would help speed the healing process that Antonius had started.

After he had finished eating the grasses and alfalfa, Antonius was feeling much better and had a much better outlook on his work. He now looked forward to healing more blighted forests, because he knew he had more help, if he needed it. Antonius received a message that more flocks of birds were on the way, so he could head towards the clearing and his Clan as fast as he wanted to. Without replying, he broke into a gallop and flew to his friends and family.

The closer Antonius got to the meadow where his Clan awaited his arrival, the faster the messages started arriving, and he had a hard time keeping up with all of them. He did stop and reply to the last message from his very good and close friend, Codeus.

'I can't wait to see you, old friend; it has been quite awhile. I am eagerly awaiting your arrival, so you can help me run the Clan. You were right; being King is not easy,' Codeus complained to his lifelong friend.

'Code, my friend, I will always help you, whenever I can; you know that. You mean too much to me, not to help you. I do draw the line at any official title; you know I can't stand all the trappings and frippery of Royalty and Government. I will be there as quickly as I can. I can't wait to see you again, either.' Antonius' reply was tinged with love and care.

As he exited the forest, this is what he saw:

Creek

Illustration 1: Creek running through meadow


Just to the left of the creek, he saw almost his whole Clan waiting for him; it was a glorious sight and an even more glorious feeling to have come home again.

It was several hours later before Antonius and Codeus were finally able to find some time alone to catch up on things. They had just finished, when they were interrupted by one of their friends, who told them the assembly was about to begin. Codeus and Antonius headed towards the small hillock at the back of the meadow that would allow them to be seen and let them overlook all of their Clan. After several hours of anguishing reports, Antonius had to remind everyone that hidden among the bad reports were several wonderful ones.

Codeus and Antonius conferred quickly and Antonius proposed a solution.

"Fellow Clansmen, we have a solution to propose. First, we form a committee to prioritize the blighted areas. Second, we select small groups to send out instead of individuals, as we have done in the past. Third, we send the parties out to a specified distance at the edge of their assigned areas. The groups will then work back toward here. Fourth, a good portion of the Clan will remain here to restore our homeland to its original glory. We believe that with the groups working back toward us, and those of us remaining here working outward, we can recover more areas faster and easier. What say you?"

Then the hours of discussion began, never really stopping for anything. Luckily, many cooler heads realized that the Clan was going to need food, so several groups split off from the discussion and began preparing a repast. Once the food was prepared, it was quickly served throughout the discussions, with Clan members politely listening while they ate, then responding when they were finished.

When the discussions were finished and the proposition put to a vote, the results were surprising. All of the sections of the proposition were approved, except the first one, as the discussions had made that one unnecessary. The revised proposition was passed unanimously, and the groups would begin heading out in the morning. There was a proviso added at the last minute, which required that Antonius remain with the homeland repair party, and at Codeus' side. Antonius started to complain, but was quickly silenced by a message from his friend.

'Antony, my friend, it is because they love and respect you so much, and they also know how much I need you, and how much I have missed you. You are the calm to my fury, and your strengths compliment my weaknesses. With you at my side, our rule over our Clan is strong and beneficial to all.' The feeling of love and care that came with the message caused Antonius to still his protest.

A wonderful new era for the Einhorn has begun.


As the knife neared Draconico's chest, there was a massive disturbance at the aperture. Everyone in the temple turned towards the aperture, assuming that their Avatar had arrived. There was absolute silence as, instead of their long awaited Avatar, they saw the glorious golden head of Draconis emerging, instead.

"Stop this instant! HE IS MINE!" Draconis's voice bellowed through the cavern and through everyone's minds! Before anyone could react, Draconis swept through the cavern and majestically scooped Draconico up and flew up toward the ceiling. As Draconis spiraled swiftly upward, cries of dismay and outrage echoed through the chamber. As Draconis neared the ceiling, she let out a peal of exultation, which reverberated throughout the temple. Cracks began appearing in the temple's walls and ceiling. Draconis let out one more majestic peal of exultation and, with a thundering roar, the ceiling fell away, and the stars were visible for a few seconds until they were eclipsed by Draconis' triumphant escape.

Meanwhile, outside, in the village of Puritania, the soldiers who had insinuated themselves into the last groups of captured slaves had begun their planned operation. Anyone looking into the village from on high would have thought that everything had been planned, and Draconis' extraction was the signal for the fun to start. The soldiers quickly overpowered the few elderly guards left on duty, as none of them thought anything would happen on such a ceremonial occasion. The soldiers efficiently went about their business. In less than ten minutes, the combined forces of the neighboring countries, kingdoms and principalities had complete and mostly bloodless control of the village.

The soldiers had quickly rounded up the few adult villagers, who were mostly women and injured men. The villagers were then locked in a storage barn, until their fate was decided; all of the children were gathered together, and, with escorts, they began the long trip to their new homes and rehabilitation. The only children left in the village were the males between twelve and sixteen; they were also under guard and would be returning with the main party. All of the freed slaves were given directions to a rendezvous where they would find food and new clothing. Once all of the freed slaves were safely out of the village, the soldiers then headed toward the ceremony to take the priests into custody. As it turned out, there were very few priests left alive to take into custody, as the destruction of the cavern caused by Draconis was nearly total. As there wasn't much left for them to do, the soldiers removed their prisoners from the barn and headed home, leaving, they thought, the power of Puritania crushed forever.

Meanwhile, in the tumbled and crushed remnants of the cavern, there was still a faint sign of life. It seems that the High Priest's proximity to the altar saved his life, but just barely; he was knocked to the floor and battered senseless by falling rocks and boulders, but the altar deflected most of them away from the prone priest. As High Priest Phelps began to regain consciousness, he nearly succumbed to unconsciousness again, as overwhelming pain wracked his badly mangled body. The High Priest was barely able to manage a weak groan before something caught his attention.

While Draconis was busy completing her destruction of the Puritanian's holy place, their vaunted Avatar was trying to gain his freedom and join his followers. Unfortunately for the Avatar, Draconis had left several 'magical' traps and obstructions in his way. By the time the Avatar reached the aperture and began the process of transition to the mortal realm, he had nearly exhausted all of his strength and energy. Upon gaining his freedom and the mortal realm, the Avatar was stunned at the destruction and the lack of worshipers. The destruction didn't concern him nearly as much as did the lack of worshipers, as he derived his power from his worshipers; without them, he wasn't as powerful or terrifying. With his power and energy almost completely depleted by the stress of transition, the Avatar extended his weakened senses, looking for a host body. It was just then that the High Priest moaned and caught the Avatar's attention. In the Avatar's weakened and very needy state, he didn't notice the shape of his intended vessel and quickly focused himself upon it and began the process of taking over his new host.

In his weakened state, the effort of taking over the High Priest's body completely depleted both the Avatar's and the High Priest's energy and caused a near coma for both of the entities. Several days later, when the Avatar awoke from his enforced respite, he was stunned at the condition of his new host's body. When he tried to move the body, he couldn't, as there was too much physical damage and he didn't have the power he needed. The Avatar decided to try to make contact with the High Priest, but all he found was a mental wreck; his roar of pain and anguish then echoed throughout the ruined cavern and from high above came what sounded like a dragon laughing.


Once Jarli had recovered his bearings slightly, he was very surprised at the size of the cavern he had stumbled into. Jarli quickly reached into his sporran and withdrew his flint set and began to light a small fire, using sticks and twigs that he had stepped on as he was stumbling around. Once he had the fire lit, he began looking for a large enough stick to use as a torch. Once he had found his torch and lit it, he began exploring the cavern. It took him several minutes to reach the rear of the cavern, where he found a small streak of light flickering a few feet up the cavern wall. Jarli moved closer to the spot from which the light was emanating. As he came right up to the cavern wall, he noticed that there were several rock ledges leading up to where the light was. Holding the torch carefully in his left hand, Jarli carefully began to negotiate the ledges toward the source of the flickering light. When he reached the top of the ledge, he saw that the light was coming from a fairly good sized crack in the wall, Jarli inched closer and closer. As he finally reached the crack he paused and took a deep breath before going any farther. Once he had regained his breath, he began to stick his head out of the largest opening. As he inched his head through the opening, he was so stunned at what he saw before him that he started to fall through the opening. Before he had completely fallen through, he hit his head on a rock outcropping, and blackness overtook him.

Canyon

Illustration 2: This what Jarli saw from the opening.




As Duugie began flying home after a wonderful day of practicing his aerobatics so he could impress his friends, he decided to take a slight detour. He veered towards a small stream near the canyon wall that had several nice bathing and fishing pools. As he neared the stream he saw some motion in the cliff wall; increasing his speed, he saw that the motion was a Two Legs sticking his head out of an opening in the wall. Before he could reach the opening, he saw the Two Legs hit his head on a rock and slump, unconscious. Duugie flew as close as he could to the opening before he landed; he then climbed up the canyon wall toward the opening. As he reached the opening, the Two Legs began to stir, and his eyes began to open. The Two Legs looked up at Duugie and reached out his hand for help. Duugie reached out his hand as well. When their fingers touched, there was a jolt of lightning that passed between the two, and a deep velvety blackness immediately overtook them both.

TBC ?

Author's Notes:

First of all, I apologize for the length of time between chapters; my new job is very demanding and stressful. If that wasn't enough, my schedule changes every week and sometimes several times during the week. A lot of evenings and nights when I get home I am too drained to write, or even edit.

Now, on to the chapter: This chapter is dedicated to Codey for all he did and all he wanted to do. His love of 'Einhorns' gave me a way to include him in the story. May Codey always reside in the arms of Draconis and keep us in his sight and love.

For the purists among, you I am using the original definition of 'Einhorn', and not the modern-day usage.

To another very special person who will not accept accolades for his extremely hard and very important work, thank you for joining the Dragon Earl Universe as a character, and a very instrumental one, as you shall see.

Although some of you, alright, most of you, won't think that this chapter is important! However, if you read it carefully, you will understand why this is an important chapter.

As I stated in the disclaimer at the beginning of the chapter, please send all questions, hate mail, flames, etc... to the email addresses listed there. I will be going on vacation immediately, and will be incommunicado for an as yet undetermined period. {I will be hiding in Str8mayb's Castle.}

Seriously, though, I am curious if anyone can tell me why Horus and Tana are so important. Please email the answer to 'Goos'

Thanks for reading,

The Story Lover

1Jarli is pronounced Yarli

2In this case Paladins means Defenders of the Planet

Comments greatly appreciated at The Story Lover

Previous Next Chapter Return To Index