Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Battle of Fisheye Cove - Part 2
Theria was tired, annoyed and hungry. She had been flying all night trying to catch those cursed bronzes, may the Five-Headed Lady consume their souls she fumed to herself.
The big bronze, Vestiralanna, couldn’t be in good shape, not after her days of exposure to the crystal, and Theria didn’t know how she had managed to hold on the last few hours and stay ahead of them. The smaller bronze she didn’t know, but assumed is was a relative, probably the one who had rescued Ves.
Truly they should have had them hours ago, but their luck was poor and their coordination worse. It didn’t help that she was grouped with the biggest flock of young idiots ever to hatch from dragon eggs.
And now the chase was over, the bronzes had reached the sea. There was no catching them, unless the Great Master returned. Even with the power of the crystal, the Little Mistress certainly couldn’t catch dragons as powerful as these in their own element.
Theria spotted an opportunity to grab a quick meal before heading back. But as she alighted on the rocky spur, her luck proved no better than it had been all night. The girl fell between two of the great boulders, and she was left holding a scrawny stick of a boy, hardly more than a toothpick.
Theria was considering how best to pick the human girl out without risking getting too much foul tasting sea water on the little snack when Berikarth exploded a fishing boat on the other side of the cove. His azure scaled form certainly looked impressive winging over the shallows searching for another target to take his frustrations out on. His lightning breath was totally ineffective in this encounter, and turning the sad little dingy into kindling was the most amusing if not actually useful thing she’d seen him do to date.
She sat on the sun-warmed rock to watch what other foolish antics her unfortunate companions would do next.
Sad, stupid Irovnia was creating an iceberg in the mouth of the cove. White’s were not notoriously smart, but Irovnia took stupidity to a new level. If the Master hadn’t forbid it, she would have put the foolish cold wyrm out of her misery long ago, and save the honor of all dragonkind the embarrassment of her existence.
Theria certainly was tired; she almost bit the head off of the little twit in her claw without thinking and munched it raw. Eww, uncooked human spawn was the worse, who knew where the little vermin had been. She supposed she should barbeque it now and the one in the crevasse too. But one had to be careful; it was always hard not to overcook such small portions.
Just then Berikarth launched another lightning bolt at a pair of men in the water. What really caught her attention was the way the lightning bolt arched away from them. Standing in the surf a short distance from the men was a young girl holding a small glowing sword aloft. The lightning seemed caught on the blade for a brief instant, then it shot outward at a tangent and caught Yiglelot’s ebony form as he was flying nearby.
The redirected bolt from the sword was followed up immediately with a second, obviously more powerful bolt from the girl’s finger that also targeted the black. Yiglelot spat acid at the girl, and flapped rapidly for shore. The idiot, instead of concentrating his attacks with Berikarth, he was running. Although that second bolt looked nasty, probably maximized, and it left a jagged after-image in her eyes.
The black dragon’s acid spit seemed to roll harmlessly off the girl. She obviously had some kind of protection from acid. To her credit, she seemed only mildly disgusted by being covered in black dragon bile. The girl gave Yiglelot and Berikarth a rude salute and dived into the surf, swimming strongly towards deep water, but angling away from the fishermen.
Interesting she thought, the little one exposed herself to save the miserable humans. She reassessed the squirming morsel in her hand. It may be more useful alive for a while. Her grumbling stomach disagreed, but she ignored it. It helped that the bony creature was so unappetizing; she suspected he had just peed himself.
Theria carefully put the boy on the stone and lightly placed one rear claw to keep him pinned. These creatures were so fragile, she was afraid she would crush it before it was time. She cast protection from lightning on herself and began working on tactics.
The girl-form in the water continued to swim on the surface like a regular human. Did she actually think that they were stupid enough to believe that? Berikarth obviously didn’t; he didn’t bother with another lighting attack, but swung around to cut the dragon-girl off from deep water.
That would be a good tactic Theria thought; but the blue was forgetting one very important thing in his over anxiousness for a fight. He was over deep water himself. “Pull up!” she yelled to warn him, but it was too late.
The large bronze, Vestiralanna breached the water at an incredible speed, arching into the air directly in front of Berikarth. Theria had to admit it was nice form; the insufferable bronzes certainly had grace.
There was no way Berikarth could avoid her. It was a simple grapple, and they both plunged into the cool ocean depth. Normally it would be a bloody and near even battle; Berikarth was almost as large and vicious a fighter as Theria. But this would be no contest, blues are earth-dragons, and he had just been pulled under the surface by a water-dragon.
She suddenly realized that she had rather liked Berikarth; he was the least annoying of the flight. As the thrashing and bubbling waters grew still off shore, Theria assessed the situation. Irovnia was looking around nervously from atop her crude ice fortress; not much help from that quarter. Yiglelot was sitting on the beach, licking his wounds and avoiding Theria’s gaze. By the Five-Headed Lady, blacks were also water-dragons, and he was afraid to go near the ocean!
In the sudden quiet, Theria noticed the human. The girl had climbed back up the rock, and was using an oddly bent stick to beat on the hind claw that still held the other little tidbit. Theria hadn’t even felt it.
She almost laughed at the pathetic creature until she saw her eyes. The tears had dried, and in their place was a grim determination, beyond fear and desperation. The girl hadn’t run when she had the chance. She was here; knowing she would surely die, but willing to give it all in the slim chance of helping her brother.
But most interesting, there was hatred in the girl’s eyes. Certainly, there was hatred for the red dragon that was going to kill her brother, but more importantly, there was the spark of hatred of her own weakness for being unable to stop it.
Theria knew that hatred, it burned brightly inside her like the volcanic fires of her home. She had learned to hate her own weakness when she first encountered Garrikon, that cruel and vicious old wyrm. He had brutally shown her the true meaning of power; had his way with her and left her near dead.
At first, it had been her hatred that had spurred her to hatch the egg he had given her. But later she had learned to care for her little Scorch, until their secret lair was discovered and Garrikon came to crush the life out of both of them.
She had felt the same spark of hatred when Garrikon, had her little Scorch beneath his mighty claw, the same way the little one now squirmed and bled beneath her own claw. Theria had learned the lesson of dragon mercy that day, and now she would teach it to these creatures.
She carefully raised her leg from the little vermin. She noticed he stuck for a second, like some offal she had stepped in. The human had inadvertently been impaled by her claw while she watched the sea battle. It didn’t look like it would immediately die from it; but these things were so soft and weak that it was hard to say. The free flowing blood certainly enhanced his bait value, at least for the short-term.
As the human girl cradled her dying sibling, Theria drew back a little, reared in her best dramatic fashion, and inhaled noisily. It was a glorious, overacted sham, she wasn’t sure if the bronzes would believe it. But they had little choice; if they truly wanted to save these tiny morsels, as improbably as that seemed to Theria, they would act now. Otherwise, she would just eat and leave.
By the Third Head the little bronze was fast! If Theria had not been tensed and ready for exactly this, she would have missed her. As it was, she just barely caught the bronze tail as she pounced, but that was enough.
The bronze didn’t roll on her back, claws and jaws up in typical dragon fighting fashion, but exposed her back, her fore legs forming a protective circle for the humans beneath her. The fool was still trying to protect them!
Theria was just thinking this was going to be too easy when the lightning blast, arced along the bronze tail and hit her full on. How the little bronze managed to channel her element outside her breath attack was almost as big a shock as the bolt.
Shattering her protection spell, the coursing energy flowed through her seeming to sear every nerve in her body. It was a strange sensation for a dragon who had never felt burning before. A lesser dragon would have let go, but the damage only fueled Theria’s rage. Even so, the bronze probably would have made it to the water in the brief second Theria was stunned if not for the two fragile liabilities still encumbering her claws.
This had gone on long enough! Theria wanted the pleasure of a real fight.
The conflagration Theria released made the rock glow red. There was no chance of her prey evading it while held. But instead of trying to protect herself, the bronze used her precious wings to deflect the fire from the humans. The stark raving fool wouldn’t be flying anytime soon, and just to shield some worthless sub-creatures!
With a great thud, the carcass of the blue dragon landed on the other end of the rock, and in an instant, the large bronze, Vestiralanna as rearing astride it. The winds seemed to have picked up, the few clouds in the sky drawing closer and darker. Theria had never heard the roar of a bronze dragon before.
Impressive, it would have given lesser dragons pause. The atmospherics were a nice effect, but the bronze was not yet in her prime, no true storm came. Theria imagined she heard a slight gasp from the beach where the idiotic black dragon Yiglelot was watching nervously.
This is more like it! She thought.
At first glance, the two dragons may have appeared close to the same size. They were approximately the same length and wingspan, but Theria was a red dragon, and massed twice again as much of bulging crimson-clad muscle as the smooth streamlined bronze form.
Theria had already carefully planned for this encounter; there was no way of keeping it to these rocks. She would have to grapple and pull the bronze to shore. The cove side was the best option; the water was shallow, barely to her shoulder. And Irovnia had serendipitously blocked most of the cove mouth with solid ice.
She would prefer to fight completely on dry land, but didn’t think the bronze was stupid enough to give that advantage. The only thing that brought her true rival this far out of the water was the threat to the little one.
Theria noted that the large bronze looked barely scratched in her encounter with Berikarth, and her breath weapon would have been unused against the blue, so fully charged.
Also, Theria knew the little bronze was far from out of the picture. She was effectively neutralized only in her insane notion to protect the humans. Theria didn’t want a second enemy at her back, even a small one. And that little one had an impressive electrical charge. She would be an annoyance while Theria concentrated on the larger one. Theria was certain that bolt she felt had to be maximized, so it would be a while before that bronze recovered her breath weapon.
Theria really wasn’t worried, but it was best to slant the odds more in her favor. “Yiglelot. Irovnia. To the sky!” she called.
“I am Vestiralanna Greymantle, daughter of Yatharia, daughter of Bilantilis, daughter of the great wyrm under the sea, Leviantianus. If you have quarrel here, I claim it is with me.” The pronouncement rumbled across the cove like warnings of a storm to come.
The black and white dragons circled wide and high around the cove. Apparently they were unsure of who to be more afraid of, the bronze or Theria. It was time they were reminded.
“I am Theriaxus, daughter of Helstragia, daughter of Perviltaxus, daughter of the great wyrm at the fiery core, Ignitanus. This one has tried to steal my justly caught prey, if she does not relinquish them, she will die with them!”
It wasn’t a bad presentation, but it lacked something. She really needed to light something on fire to get in the mood, but there was nothing here to burn! She wished Berikarth had not sunk that boat. She was a fire dragon, being surrounded by this much water was starting to irritate.
“Speaking of justly caught prey,” Vestiralanna said. “I haven’t quite finished with mine.”
With a sudden and savage strike to the blue’s chest, a rather impressive quantity of water was expulsed from its mouth. There was a cough and a ragged intake of breath from the blue.
Berikarth was alive! Her luck was just going from bad to worse this day; but for some unfathomable reason she felt glad.
“I grow weary of this one” Vestiralanna continued as she shifted her weight on the unconscious blue’s throat. His breathing became noticeably more erratic. “Perhaps a trade?”
The bronze was playing her! Theria laughed; there were two ways to handle this, the reasonable way, that the bronzes probably expected, and the red dragon way. She of course, chose the later.
In an instant, Theria, the savage, proud and mighty red dragon, pounced on her adversary.