A young farm boy, Azel, helps a lost elf girl home to realize that she's a Dragoon, one of the long lost Dragon Riders. Upon learning her secret, two new boys appear. One is a poor farm boy as the other a mysterious dragon rider who bares nothing of the Dragoons. ***** Together, the group of four learn that a bunch of dwarfs are being attacked by a black dragon of darkness. The groups fear of Azel's bravery to face the dragon begins to wane the group. Azel knows his only chance to save every
The night air steals my breath away. Frost wraps its cold hands around the trees and the small, weak plants too small to stop anything from trampling them. Every breath freezes into little puffs of clouds drifting into the blackness before me. Falret Woods appears dark compared to the night sky. I take a few steps into the pitch-blackness to feel a strong hand scrape my shoulder. Red eyes glare at me from above. My breath escapes me.
"Ryce, join me."
A voice rings out. A growl, no less. There’s no exact point of location. Under complete darkness, not one tree branch or leaf could be seen. I couldn’t even see my hand without holding it within an inch of my face.
The voice calls out again. I know that it originates from somewhere above me, but pinning it down proves elusive.
"I am not Ryce! My name's Azel!" I call out into the darkness, terrified out of my mind.
Silence. The air becomes thick with ire. No time to think this through. If I don't act, I could die here without my brother or mother.
A scaly hand brushes my cheek. "You look like Ryce, my dear boy."
A hiss escapes through my teeth. I swing my fist in front of myself with every fury of my being, blindly missing my target, and collapse into a tree. I cling for my life to the flimsy branches in my face. A gasp for breath finds my head jerked back. The silent breath of the demon breathes on my face. I hold my breath in fear of my attacker. The attacker lets me go. Scrambling to get up, the weight of the darkness forces itself upon me.
"You speak the truth, young fleshling, but no matter. I shall still have your brother."
The voice stays raspy under the quilt of darkness. The creature, with its coarse hands, keeps its form hidden in the shadows. Inwardly, I wish the creature to appear before me, but with what? I’m a fool to come without a torch of some kind. I would be grateful for any hint of light, right about now.
A short glimpse of the creature's eyes makes me question my thought again. This creature’s not human. No human contains red eyes with slits for pupils.
"Don't you think his body would make a great vessel for me?" The voice of the creature startles me.
"No!" I call. "My brother will never be yours!"
The voice crackles an evil laugh. "Do you never see what's in front of you? I know your family. I will make this boy mine."
A bright red pain fills my vision. I plant my left foot behind me, throwing my hands up in front of me in defense. Wind howls through the dead branches. A hand clasps around my neck. Quickly kicking at thin air with my right foot, my body burns in dreadful torment; fire burning, gradual suffocation torment. As the hands release me, I collapse to my knees and crush my hands into the mud, twigs, and leaves. My body heaves when I arch my back and I retch a vile liquid. Dizziness sets in. Flashes of darkness and white-hot light switch to and fro across my sight. My body sways to the right when I completely collapse.
"Do not struggle," it said, "my dear boy."
A slithering sound skitters across the forest floor. A hush of cold breath trickles down my neck. I freeze in fear. The fiery sensation wouldn’t stop. I clutch my tunic close to my heart as I begin to sob. Shifting around, red streaks cover my blinded vision again. It’s hideous to feel the sensation like it is burrowing into my skin. I throw my head back and bellow. My screams sound weak, like a low murmuring; they barely even rise above a whisper.
I drop to the earthen ground. The fiery pain is starting to fade, but everyone of my bones still ache. The snake-like movements of the creature slip behind me, its sharp claws digging into my shoulder. Silence fills the thick air.
"I told you it would hurt," the thing whispers.
In a flash of light, the creature's presence vanishes. I look around me. The pain washes away like water rushing over a stone and the darkness swallows me up once more. I clutch my arms close to my body with fear concealing itself on me.
Home. The only place Ryce could be this late at night. Ryce could be in danger. I broke off into a hard sprint.
I race through the thick undergrowth beckoning to trip me. The crackle of broken twigs and shallow footfalls on the earthen ground echo in the air. I hold my breath, praying to the Maker that Ryce and Mother will be safe when I return.
A light beckons to me from a few yards away. I pick up my pace, not caring as to what’s following me, and break through the opening in the forest.
In the clearing, I stand in the wavy trendals of grass and weeds entangled around my legs. The shadowy woods circle me. Small shapes slip in and out of the shadows of the trees. Under the light of the crescent moon, the shadows seem more like figments of the imagination.