Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Heart of a Dragon - Part 1

Something I wrote a good while ago - which REALLY shows from the writing style to be honest. Comments welcome. =]

Bonus fic - not 750 words!

“Whip those stunted ones faster! Remulous needs that stone by the weeks end at the latest!” the bark of the Axerian taskmaster was easily heard even over the droning roar of torrential rain.
“High Magus Phineus!” the reply was muffled and it was difficult even for the Battle Mage, stood less than two foot from the Legionnaire to make out the mans words over the rain. “The rain is making progress slow, already we’ve lost a score of the stunted ones to flood waters and they are complaining that the rock is becoming harder to mine. It’s almost like obsidian down there…” the Legionnaire fell silent as the Battle Mage raised a hand, his face contorted in a scowl.
“I don’t care for their complaints!” he boomed, “If the pits are flooding form bucket chains with the elves or greenskins. If the rock is too tough, whip them till they find their strength! Get to it!”
Phineus – one of the High Battle Mages – the elite rank of spellcasters in the Axerian Empire, watched the Legionnaire stumble away, buffeted by the wind and rain.
Within a magical spell that surrounded his command tent Phineus glared out into the night. His eyes – while unable to see very far from the torches in front of his tent – could follow easily the swirling maelstrom of colour as the soulfire within all living things flowed. Their work here was badly behind schedule and they needed this stone for their camps if they were going to make headway into Ithron. Though why the Emperor wanted to crush this rock under his rule – with its thrice cursed bad weather was beyond the Battle Mage, but frankly it wasn’t his place to ask.
Despite his insistence to make the slaves work faster and harder, he could see the folly. The stunted ones were too short to dig in high water and the elves couldn’t moved fast enough to clear it. But there was nothing to be done – he would just have to send for more slaves, or take more as they moved north.
By the Seven, Phineus missed Axir – he could be sipping wine in the sun right now, enjoying gladiator fights between foulspawn, or in his study constructing new magical theorem, instead of being stuck on this forsaken island which even the great sea seemed to be trying to reclaim.
The screams were slow to pierce his reverie, but the explosion of rock and earth almost jolting him off his brought his attention back to reality.
Staring in the direction of the explosion, the Battle Mage was almost blinded by the sudden swell and glare of soulfire from the direction of the dig. Shifting his eyes away from his magesight the magical glare was replaced by a pillar of golden fire.
Weaving protective spells around himself, Phineus started towards the fire, barking out in a magically enhanced voice for reports.
“Sir!” a Legionnaire reached him, covered in mud. “Something has been released from the depths! The slaves have scattered!”
With a curse, Phineus ordered the Legionnaire to gather troops and meet him at the dig site.

As he advanced on the dig - with the slaves and those without the training of the legion streaming in the opposite direction away from an increasing cacophony of roars - the magical aura became more powerful and on the lip of the dig he finally saw the source.
A dragon was stood in the pit the slaves had dug, flames licking around its mouth, drowned and burnt bodies stood around it as the water that the Legionnaire had complained about had gone.
Behind the dragon was a faceted shell of something like some kind of obsidian egg and it was obvious this was where the dragon had been kept.
Phineus was torn between fear and awe – even in Axir dragons were the things of legend, to have one here, in front of his made being on this rain soaked bit of dirt worthwhile. If he could capture this dragon and train it he would be one of the most powerful men in the Empire.
As Legionnaires started to arrive he ordered them to fetch chains and bindings – they complied hastily fearing the mage more than the mythical beast before them.

The dragons roar drowned all noise out around the quarry, voicing its panic and anger. He had been woken after so many years, but it still felt too early. His eyes were caked shut with sleep and obsidian mud, his wings were weak, unused for so long and likewise caked with the earthern sludge. His throat was hoarse and restricted and other than the initial vomit of dragonfire the flames wouldn’t come.
His roars built his strength and he managed an agonising step forward when he was hit with a blast of magic, sending him stumbling backwards and throwing him to the muddy floor.
Bellowing in rage, the dragon tried to push itself to its feet only to be thrown down by magical force again and again.
“Stay down dragon!” came a booming voice in an odd sounding language. “You belong to the Axirian Empire now!”
Fury flashed through the dragons mind – he did not belong to anyone! He bellowed his defiance and started to stand again. But now there was a chance – awoken by his fury the soulfire seared the dragons veins and muscles and this time – when the magical assault came, it was able to instinctively cast the attack aside.
The soulfire strengthened and empowered the beast and it once again found its fire, unleashing great gouts into the heavens.

Phineous blanched as his powers were resisted and the flames shot skyward. He had to act before the dragon could regain its full force. “Capture it! Now! Before its strength is restored!” the battle mage barked, pushing Legionnaires forward. “Subdue it however you can! Just leave it alive.”
The trained Axirian troops sprang into action, arranging the bonds between them while others directed the dragon where the captors would need it with magically enhanced blades. Others used shields to protect from the falling flames and as soon as the first bonds were in place Phineus started to walk a circle around the Dragon and its captors, arcane words spilling from his lips as he started to weave a powerful spell. Silvery threads of light started to gather around the path the mage was treading, forming a circle of power around the dragon.
The beast responded with more roars of rage and – to those with the magesight – a vortex of soulfire began to swirl around its hide as power grew within its body.
As the bindings grew tighter the maelstrom grew more powerful as winds buffeted the Legionnaires and the Battle Mage.
The soulfire from the dragon coalesced as lightning and struck randomly at the Axirians.
The wild magic sent some of the Axirians fleeing in terror, others to drop to the floor writhing in agony and an unlucky few had wounds tear explosively open across their bodies covering their fellows in blood.
The ropes binding the dragon burst into flames where they touched the dragons hide and the chains began to melt. A second pillar of dragonfire erupted from its mouth, throwing the whole scene into relief as the mage completed his third circle – a ring of magic shining brightly through the mud, rainwater and blood.
The Battlemage dropped to his knees, his lips moving rapidly as he worked the magic along the bonds, strengthening them even as they wavered against the dragons fury.
The silver power flowed through all of the ropes of the chains even as some were consumed by the wild magic and the Battle Mage stood to finish and seal the spell. But even as the first words left his lips he was stuck by the wild lightning. Phineus was barely able to throw together magical resistances in time as a deluge of spells hit him – throwing him backwards twenty feet. Dragonfire rent the sky again – bright as the midday sun and with an almighty crack the dragons wings unfolded and he sprang into the air – a halo of fire and soulfire surrounding him.
Phineus recovered quickly and barking orders, javelin wielding legionnaires – each with glowing magical weapons – stepped forward.
“Bring it down! Kill it if you have to but do something before it can destroy us!” there was no option left. The creature was too wild to be tamed and had to be destroyed.
Even as legionnaires raised their weapons however the dragon breathed again, cooking the mud turning the water to steam and incinerating any Axirian that was stood in its path. It circled around the entire camp, killed more and more of Phineus’ men as a hail of javelins were cast at it.
Phineus – using the distraction to return to his protective ward – cast wounding spells rapidly at the dragon, eliciting blood from the beasts flanks as javelins pierced its legs and the membrane of its wings. In seemingly little time, the legionnaires had either been killed or fled and Phineus found himself alone inside his protective circle as the dragon landed outside it.
Up close – and despite himself – Phineus had to be impressed by the creature. It stood upright on two powerful back legs and it took a couple of faltering steps towards the circle almost like a human would. Its scales were red though caked with mud and gore, its eyes seemed to piece into the mages very soul -intelligent, red eyes that seemed to howl challenges.
They glared at each other for a long minute before the dragon spoke – its mouth forming the words perfectly despite their lizard-like structure.
“I am not to be owned.” It bellowed and its red eyes gleamed golden as it unleashed a torrent of fire at the circle, overcoming the humans magic and tearing through it. When the flames had cleared the wards and the battle mage had gone, leaving only charred and burnt grass.

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