Chapter 7

Chapter 7

          Roused by the wails of a fellow gang member, Drake rolled onto his side. This sinking feeling ravaged his body with murky visibility, a splitting headache and the kind of anger you experience against an over-expecting tourist. He was an owl, craning his head to recognise his location. Mount Izio. It came back to him, all of a sudden, it came back to him. A silent epiphany derived from his past. Flashbacks emerged.

          Relentless Monty had made a run towards the corner of the floor: it was so near to the bubbling, hot lava-bath. But this was all part of his plan. Simply one flaw was in his carefully planned plan. In order to execute this, Monty required a dolphin to himself however; the cunning leader requested they all ambush him at once. On the other hand, Drake was drowsed with a blast of the dolphins' weary steam whilst fending them off with his glistening blade. This was so the ambush of Monty became a submission for him to be burned alive. Next, the gang summoned a mighty obstacle of magma from underneath Monty. He was sniped back onto... he blacked out again, his feeble memory wiped even further. Like a lost lion cub, he sat in this wild place alone.

          Pondering more led to another breakthrough. Drake's connection to his task was strong so he could feel what he was trying to do back there. A small ledge of granite floated in a malicious sea of ending! Young, but not quite fleet, the body of a free rider. On the back of a dolphin he imperiously sat. An emperor to his throne of glory. This rider had been the one that dove into the lava and dug a burly tunnel to Lavarter's lair. That was Drake's previous goal.  Alas, it did not work and where he and Monty were now was a mystery.

          Sitting up, Drake scanned the alienated area. Rapidly, he made note of key features. A tiny cave with drips of ash lying in the corner, the ceiling, low and claustrophobic as if to detain him. Finally a crooked bench raised above the filthy floor which oversaw a row of consecutive steel alloy bars. One word sprang to mind... prison! Not only had Drake lost Willurby and possibly failed to protect Monty but now he had awoken in a hellish cell.

Past intervenes with danger had all "been part of the fun" but now Drake realised his place in the world, as the foolish warrior who mocked hazard and paid dearly for it.  Instead of this being the end though, it was the beginning. If it was the end, this story may have struggled to exist.

Drake moped and surpassed the bitter heat just about. Fearing these would be his final hours, Drake slouched onto his pathetic bench.

"Look out!" a deep voice hollered throughout Drake's cell. Falling silent, he assumed it was all in his eccentrically crazy mind. Only when a haunting grenade graced Drake's presence did he heed the man's advice. Kaboom! An infused torrent of explosive power rocketed through the pitiful cell and pinned Drake to the floor. Tall, dark and shrouded in a cloak and bloody bandana up to his eyes was a man who was the most confusing aftermath of any explosion ever.

"I think you'll find that I kind of trashed your stay here but from here on in, I've already taken care of the guards assigned to keep you in," the man murmured. As a desperate child would, Drake tugged at this man's coat and questioned him. He didn't speak (he didn't have a chance to) and already the man answered his query. "I'm a free-spirited rider; I believe we are acquainted, from a distance. In the hope that you would overpower the dolphin terror, I rode bravely into the flood of heat and a convenient tunnel then awaited you. But you didn't make it, and had it not been for me, the dolphins would've fed Lavarter with your bones at the stake. Consider this your wake-up call, your kick up the ass, your second chance to be a hero." This gruff voice was frighteningly familiar and uncomforting to Drake. True it was that this guy had been watching Drake's actions from afar and attempted to quietly nudge him in the correct direction. He was the rider that greeted them at the menacing wall.

Drake could tell that this rider was more experienced at fighting and knew these harsh routes like the back of his hand. Sensing much wisdom, Drake from then, decided to thrive to be like this guy.

"Shall we forge on?" he then suggested.

Throughout the next narrow corridors, the two valiantly battled on. Long were the fetes when this "Black Rider" as Drake now dubbed him failed to launch his many bombs and gun down the guarding dolphins. They all fell as corpses on the hot floor. In amazement, Drake just stared, whacking down the odd dolphin that opposed him. Ominous glows of tainted red glimmered down the never-ending halls. However, this particular corridor he approached with such caution that it make Drake shudder. Although he had had only a non-meaningful few minutes in which he had known the mysterious ranger, he had developed a strong depiction of this guy and this wasn't normal. He crashed onto the burning wall and observed the huge crevasse above this imposing door. Regretfully, Drake pressed on too quickly but was strenuously shoved aside by the Black Rider.

"We don't have time to be careful, my friend is still here. Even you yourself said they'd feed him to Lavarter," Drake's heart argued above brains.

"Then why do you leave him?" the Black Rider smirked. Pressing their ears against the door led to discovery. Faint cries of Monty emitted from within. Shrill and weakening but unmistakable.

The rider's work was almost finished: a final devastating charge rigged on the porthole and he rotated with his mystical cape following him. It dragged off into the distance beside him. Still overjoyed with relief, Drake hadn't thought about the effects of the bomb next to him or the departing rider. His stare grew serious as he stormed up to the Black Rider sternly. Impressively standing his ground, he queried.

          "So that's it then?"

          "Between us... it is!" the man trudged off and tore clean through a reinforced vent wedged into the impenetrable ceiling, he seemed desperate to leave.

          "You recognised Monty's voice without even a question, a small mutter. You were bang on. First time. I don't know if it's just because you're a "people person" or if you are... Just who are you anyway... Black Rider?" Drake finally added.

          Immediately, the charge went off in a horrific display of power and choking smoke. It was in this time that the Black Rider strangely disappeared, leaving Drake to face his annoying, and enraged enemies. Charmingly, he strolled into the sizzling smoke shower and left with the best prize of all, his friend.

          A flailing dash for the bridge awaited Monty and Drake. Whilst they panted and ran frantically, they recapped.

          "So this Black Rider toning weapons and explosives just busted you out of the goodness of his heart?" the previously absent Monty brushed upon the topic.

          "More or less, and I never would've found you without his help," Drake explained. Nevertheless, this being still boasted incredible strength and his motives weren't clear so to Monty, he was as good as any other enemy they had faced... he was a potential threat.

          The amber waves that splashed against the crumbly rock shook Monty and Drake off their feet and they tightly traversed the monstrous bridge that protected Lavarter's lair. Soon, they bested the bridge and all the natural terror that intensified its right. Now there was only one thing left to do, pay Lavarter back for their agonizing suffering.

          "Are you ready?" Monty asked. Nodding, Drake let loose a terrific kick that swiftly hammered down the spine-chilling gates.

          Emperor and regal Lavarter greeted them. Upon his throne laden with devilish crowns, skulls and fire bursting from its foot; this was where he commanded his imperialist army of vicious dolphins. His lair was surprisingly empty except from a ring of lava below an arena-like platform full of many more skulls (obviously from past duels). These spoils of Lavarter's painful victories were all just for show in Drake's heroic mind. Since, he had come for a duel; he couldn't help sensing Monty's unrest. Shivering in a place as warm as this was a serious offence. Monty glared at the rows of carved rock into the corners of the arena, just beyond the demonic pit. Those could only be one thing... the stands. A nationwide event for the dolphins. By deeming himself worthy against the unruly odds, Drake had built himself up to be a target to Lavarter.

          Hordes and hordes of screeching dolphins arose in the stands. Howling, hearing and huddling, the dolphins cackled and clenched and conked out in laughter and festivities. Monty would join them as the duel loomed ever-closer.

          "All this just for some steel," Drake comically mocked.

          "This is the only place in the entire world to get steel. Its eeeeuuuuhhohohhhhoooooo extraction from ore means it has many properties. You eeuuuuhhhhhoooo can weld and build with it so we appreciate it by crafting all our dingy dungeons from it," Lavarter beckoned.

          "About the dungeons, why did you lock me up and try to kill me on many occasions when the dolphins in the Izionarza village welcomed me with hospitality?" Drake wondered.

          "Because unlike them, you have disturbed my eeeooooohh home, assaulted my dolphins and you practically have come here to assassinate me, duh!" This vital point contradicted Drake. The terminology "assassination" wasn't exactly the words Drake would've used.

          Lavarter himself was a hulking dolphin whose flopping across the ground brought unbelievable tremors. A memorable crown was sitting over his blowhole as it spurted out flames. Bottle-nosed, he was armed with huge flippers capable of felling a human easily... it was no surprise that this guy was their king or that he was so dangerous. The rim of his belly reached up to his mouth. It was cracked like a sun-kissed lip in need of soothing balm.

          Lavarter's first strike, a 360° flip a quiet hover in the arm and then a mad pounding on the floor on his descent.

          "Standard rules, you flop me onto my eeeooohhhhh back, you've basically taken my life seeing as I am unable to get back up. I'd just die there quietly and you will claim your prize. However eueiueueufuhhhhhhh, if you lose, I have the right to dispose of trespassers. Now, who wishes to challenge me?"

          Terrified Drake stood motionless. He quaked in fear and glumly gulped gasping for air. On the other side of the arena: was a ledge with a reinforced vent above it. Another shower of smoke willowed out from its mouth like a dragon. Who did Drake see? None other than the Black Rider, who leapt out gracefully. The Black Rider felt the calming and sparkling igneous crystals around him and grimaced at Lavarter. He flew over to his majesty with a mad proposition.

          "I will duel you!" he clamoured. Messages from the crowd roared in argument, booing this impostor out of their beloved event.

          "Not you again! I know you're just trying to help but this is my duel. I won't allow you to get in the way of that!" Drake yelled. Disgraced, the Black Rider cringed. He was sorry.

          "I apologize. I should've mentioned it sooner but as you are now, you present no match against Lavarter." Drake couldn't believe this remark from such a legendary hero. The rider himself beamed at Drake. "If you don't trust me, just take a look!" Firing an onslaught of piercing bullets, the Black Rider strafed as to not let the unbearable noise and blinding light of his gun's sleek barrel trash his concentration. Luckily, Drake dodged all these with great ease. Revenge in his eyes, he charged at the Black Rider ready to kill. Crazily, the Black Rider elbowed Drake to throw him off guard, disarmed him vigorously by twisting his arm before finishing him off with some powerful, consecutive jabs to the vital ribs. Helplessly, Drake lay in a miserable heap. Transporting him to a cramped seat in the full stands, the dolphins prepared to watch an unexpected battle. Resisting the dolphins, Drake called out and refused to back down.

          "How do you expect to beat Lavarter? I refuse to let this mission go to waste. This isn't over; round two is just about to begin. Unhand me and I'll fight you again right now. We deserve that steel to protect the abode we are accustomed to. How am I to get any steel if you prevent me from fighting?" The rider paused and turned away as if to conceal his image. His hidden lips were tightly sealed like an avalanche had buried them in time so many years ago. A complicated answer baffled everyone at that moment with the rider removing his slick bandana. Previously it concealed his identity but he was prepared to reveal it confidently to the excited crowd.

          "You will get the steel. Because I'm not the Black Rider... I'm... Willurby!!!!!" he cried with such an audible voice that it reverberated all over the chasms and swirling tunnels. Gasping in two mixed feelings (rage and happiness) Drake considered his friend's actions. He stood down sensitively as for Willurby to get his revenge for his supposed death. Plus, he couldn't have been more proud of Willurby: he had improved his fighting massively and essentially brought pride to all his battles. Go for it... Willurby!


The End

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