Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Gathering of Dragons - Chapter Eighteen

There will be a slight pause of Two Weeks after this post.
We will return to our story on Saturday, May 19th.
Please join me then for the final chapters of
"A Gathering of Dragons"

Until then, you can find more exciting Farloft Adventures in
"The Farloft Chronicles"

The first of his series, "James & the Dragon" is FREE!
Pick it up, and find out the secret to James and Farloft's first encounters.
They weren't always 'family.'

If you enjoy that adventure check out the rest of

The Zonguldak Ruby's magic is affecting everyone in the Kingdom of Kerth.

"Dragon Deception"
Farloft and James are being pursued by Dragon Hunters.

Farloft and his family are threatened by a powerful dragon from the East.

"Three & a Half Dragons"
Farloft has found an enchanted mate. What will their youngling be like?

"Dragon Memories, Dreams & Reflections"
Farloft tells a jealous Clearair why his bond with the Healer is so strong.

Now on with the next chapter in
"A Gathering of Dragons"


The humans were not idle during their confinement. Queen Larkin had the forge in the village and the one at the castle producing armor as quickly as possible. It didn’t have to be perfect, it just had to fit together well enough to hang from a stand. The walls of the Great Hall were now lined with the armor men. The plan was to put them in motion against the enemy if the walls of the castle were breached. The ‘fake’ soldiers could be dispatched to the courtyard to keep the Baldar at bay while the people of the kingdom escaped through the tunnels.

Theresa and Sarah spent hours memorizing the incantations and casting them over, and over again to make sure they had firm control of the armor soldiers. The only thing they had to be sure of was that all the residents of the kingdom were safely in the tunnels before the fake army was unleashed.

*** 

James raised his head at the faint sound of the DragonCall. His neck spikes flared.

“It’s Adrian,” Anna said when her ears caught the call too.

“You go find Clearair,” James ordered. “If you follow me, I will see that you are grounded for life.” He frowned at her. “You hear me?”

“I hear you,” Anna said. “Go… Hurry… He might be in trouble.”

“Tell Clearair I will be back as soon as I can.” James lifted his wings and took to the sky.

Anna spread hers and went to seek out her mother. Were the troops moving this soon? That was what Adrian was supposed to watch for. It was too early. The ground preparations were not complete. The heavy snows of winter kept the humans indoors for weeks. They weren’t ready. Father said they would not be coming until late spring. There were still spots of snow in the hollows. She had to find her mother, Theresa and Sarah.

*** 

James took the long way around, even though it took more time. He wanted to approach the forest beyond the camp from behind. Flying low, he let the evening dusk cover his arrival. He looked for the treetops Anna told him she lit on fire. He hoped Adrian and he had been friends long enough that they thought the same way, and the bard would come here for the rendezvous. James was pleased when he recognized Adrian’s soft quick tread and the telltale clicking of the metal and ceramic beads he wore as souvenirs on the braids of his hair.

“Boy, am I glad to see you,” he said as he jogged to a stop in front of the young dragon. He was obviously ready to leave. His backpack was slung over one shoulder. “I’ve got big news we have to get to the Queen immediately. The sons of Thrax are here.”

“This early?” James said in surprise.

Arian frowned. “You knew they were coming?”

“Farloft sent word months ago. We had no way to get a message to you, unless… we sent Anna back.” James was joking, but he kept a straight face.

“Sent her back???”

“Shhh,” James warned. His friend had almost shouted his objection.

“Did that little imp tell you what she did?” Adrian asked in a quieter tone.

“She did and you can be guaranteed Clearair would not have let her return.” He grinned at the bard. “She has been virtually grounded since she got home.”

“She deserves it.” Adrian shifted his pack in an agitated manner. “She almost got me pulled into a knife fight.”

James rolled his eyes. “And we all know how good you are with a knife. She probably came close to getting you killed.” James couldn’t help but chuckle.

“I’m not a fighter,” Adrian said with a shrug. “I’m a lover.”

“Well, yes,” James agreed, “and that is how you got in trouble in the first place. My little sister finds you terrrrribly handsome,” he said imitating Anna’s high pitched little girl voice. He batted his eyelashes for emphasis.

Adrian reached out and slugged James on the shoulder. “Stop that!”

James grunted even though he barely felt the blow. “Come on, let’s get home. The queen will want to hear your news, and now that they are here, there is a chance the Baldar may attack sooner than Farloft predicted.”

James lowered a wing and extended a leg to help Adrian mount. As soon as the bard was settled, James launched and headed for home.



Once more, they were all gathered in the Great Hall. This time Anna, in her human form, and Haben joined them. The queen wanted to go over the plan with everyone who would play a part in the leadership of the people.

Adrian was concentrating trying not to forget anything he overheard or saw that might be pertinent to their plan. “They have a huge army gathering. Over 50,000 strong when I left and more pouring in each day now that the snows have let up. King Minuss came to the tent camp and made a long speech when the sons of Thrax arrived. He said any captured residents of Kerth will be sold into slavery. He offered each person who fought with him a sector of Kerth’s land to farm or sell as they saw fit. He spoke about the wealth in trade the access to the river would bring to the three kingdoms. He intends to take up residence here and rule the kingdoms from this castle.”

“Over my dead body,” Queen Larkin fumed. “I will never let my people be slaves.”

“We are greatly outnumbered,” Adrian pointed out. “Almost five to one.”

Clearair spoke up. “We will have Farloft and the friends he brings.”

“If he brings them in time.” Adrian did not want to dash their hopes, but without the dragons, and with King Minuss’ force so strong, adding in the sons of Thrax, he felt they had little chance of winning. The kingdom had been at peace for so long that they did not have a standing army. The queen’s guard were the only trained soldiers and they numbered a mere one-hundred-and-fifty men. The rest were only peasants and merchants.

“We have other forces we can call upon until Farloft returns, if the Baldar attack earlier than planned.” The queen turned to Theresa and Sarah. “Will you please demonstrate, ladies?”

Theresa and Sarah rose. One went to the back of the hall, the other to the front. Theresa raised her hands and Sarah lifted her staff. They both spoke an identical incantation in unison. When it was completed, the armor soldiers all around the room came to attention. They lifted swords, crossbows and lances to the ready.

Adrian could not help himself. His mouth fell open in surprise. Haben reached involuntarily for his sword. Anna shifted closer to her mother.

“What devilment is this?” the captain of the guard asked.

“It is our devilment and it is not all,” Queen Larkin spoke with satisfaction. “Theresa has the Sim Chuk medallion again. She and Sarah intend to launch these soldiers against our enemy, but they also are going to bring the gargoyles of the castle to life and send them to deal with the sons of Thrax.”

“Your Majesty,” Haben cautioned, “do you not recall the damage those beasts did last time they were unleashed?”

“I do,” the Queen assured him, “but this time Theresa and Sarah will have control of them. They will be aimed firmly at the enemy.”

Haben drew his sword. “Let us see what these metal men are made of.” He advanced on one of the animated suits of armor.

The magically enhanced soldier raised his sword but did not move.

“They are useless unless they fight,” Haben scoffed. “Why doesn’t he attack me.”

“I have not given the order,” Theresa replied. “I do not wish you injured before the battle even begins.”

“Give the order,” the Captain of the Guard commanded. “I need to see they are capable of helping and not hindering our efforts.”

“Cry ‘hold’ when you have had enough,” Theresa instructed.

The Captain’s jaw set in a firm line. “Unleash your magic, Healer.”

Theresa recited an incantation and waved her hand. The metal man sprang into action. He came off the wall with such ferocity that Haben did not have time to attack. He raised his sword and blocked blow after shattering blow. The armored man drove him back against the far wall and to his knees.

“HOLD!” Haben cried.

Theresa again spoke a spell and waved her hand. The metal man ceased his assault, falling into a forced stand of attention.

The Captain rose from his knees. “Is there anything that can stop them?”

Sarah spoke up. “Yes, once the enemy finds they cannot function without their helmets, then they will be stopped.”

“We don’t know why, but like real men, if you remove their head they die,” Theresa added. She spoke an incantation, waved her hand, and the metal man returned to his place against the wall.

Theresa and Sarah spoke another incantation in unison and the armor soldiers fell back into a lifeless state.

“We have a plan to fight and a plan of escape. We all have a part to play.” Larkin reviewed. “The battle trenches have been dug. The bridge across the Great Divide fortified. The walls of the castle fixed with oil buckets and tar pots. The dragon’s lair stocked for a long siege. Our ‘Armor Army’ built.” Queen Larkin rose. “We are ready. Let them come. We will show them we are not leaving Kerth… They are!”


Farloft teasing Adrian by Elizabeth Babicz

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