Aphelion Issue 244, Volume 23
October 2019
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

Shadow of the Dragon

by Kyra Dune


Beneath a slate-gray sky the forest lay bare and silent, like bones in a graveyard. To Micayta, who was used to the bustle of a busy village, the lack of sound was almost unbearable. The occasional crunch of pale grass beneath the hooves of her horse only made it harder, reminding her of the life that once was.

The chill wind shifted, carrying a nasty, eye-stinging, odor. Micayta glanced back at her brother and saw that he too had caught the familiar scent. No words were needed; they both knew what it meant.

She urged her horse to a gallop, confidant Pytaki would do the same. Within the hour they broke free of the forest, but the sight that greeted them was no better.

Once this was a thriving village, now it was nothing more than a smouldering, ash-covered ruin. Micayta heard her brother gasp, felt the sharp pain twist in her heart. It was like seeing her own village all over again. Hot tears burned behind her eyes, tears she refused to shed.

Spotting several people sifting through the remains of a building, Micayta pulled her horse to a stop beside the rubble. "What happened here?" she asked, though she already knew the answer.

A thin man in homespun clothes looked up at her through red-rimmed eyes. "It was a dragon. A horrible red monster. It destroyed everything." He made a vague sweeping motion with his arm.

She avoided looking directly at the man, for she knew she could allow herself no sympathy for these people. "Which way did it go?"

The man stood for a moment in thought. "West, I think, toward Phadra."

Without so much as a thank you, Micayta flicked the reins and moved her horse away from the villagers.

"Shouldn't we try to help them?" Pytaki asked.

Micayta could hear the raw emotion in her brother's voice but could not bear to see it on his face, so she kept her eyes focused on the road ahead. "There's nothing we can do for them. We have to keep going."

####

When they arrived at Phadra, it was midday and there was no evidence of a dragon's attack. People were walking the street, going about their daily business, yet something felt wrong. It was too quiet for so large a city.

"Maybe the dragon didn't come this way," Pytaki said in a low voice. "It must have turned and gone in a different direction."

"I don't think so," Micayta said. "These people are afraid. I can feel it.."

Pytaki frowned and took a closer look around. He shook his head. "If the dragon came this way it would have attacked the city, wouldn't it?"

"I don't know," Micayta said. "But I'm sure it was here." Otherwise they had lost its trail and she refused to even consider that.

She drew her horse closer to the walkway and leaned down toward a mother and child. "Has anything..." The woman grabbed her daughter's arm and moved away before Micayta could finish.

Frustrated, Micayta walked her horse down the street a short way until she caught sight of a tavern. The building was short and square, it's once white paint faded to a dirty brown. The sign hanging crookedly above the door read, "Paradise Lost."

It reminded Micayta of the "Broken Wing," back home, where many nights spent serving drinks taught her that a tavern was a good place to find people willing to talk.

Micayta drew her horse to stop in front of the tavern and dismounted, holding her hand up to stop Pytaki from doing the same. "Stay, watch the horses," she said. "I won't be long." Pytaki started to protest but she stopped him with a stern look and turned away.

Stepping into the dimly lit interior of the Paradise, Micayta was struck by the continued similarity to the "Broken Wing." The fireplace was larger, it's warmth a welcome change from the chill outside, but the musty odor of ale, the worn chairs, the wooden bar with its stools, these things were much the same. But familiar sounds were missing, the clink of dice, loud voices, drunken laughter. The patrons of the tavern were as mute as the people on the street and looked at Micayta with the same sort of wary suspicion.

Ignoring the looks, she made her way to the bar and took a seat. When the barkeep approached, Micayta took two silver quatri from her bag and dropped them on the scarred counter. "Anyone seen or heard of a dragon around here in the past few days?"

The barkeep shrugged his shoulders, wiping a glass with the edge of his grease-spattered apron. "I been right here in this spot all day and I don't know nothing about no dragon. So unless you want a drink, keep your money to yourself."

The barkeep moved away and Micayta, more frustrated than ever, reached out to retrieve the coins.

"Slide those over here," said a voice from the end of the bar. "I can tell you everything you need to know."

The voice belonged to a man with a black handled sword strapped to his back. He was some years older then her, his face tan as old leather. A pale scar ran diagonally across one cheek and his nose was set a little crooked. Everything about him told her he was a soldier of fortune, the kind of man who would say or do anything if the price was right. Micayta had no desire to talk to him, but since no one else was willing to tell her anything she was hardly in a position to be choosey.

She walked over to him, wrinkling her nose at the sour smell of sweat, and dropped the coins in his outstretched hand. "Not just any dragon," she said. "A red dragon with black horns and black tipped wings, traveling from the east."

The man slid the coins into a leather pouch he wore at his side. "There's a sorcerer living just outside of town and I've heard he keeps a dragon, a big red one. The villagers say it comes and goes at night, under the cover of a magical fog. I've never seen it myself but it sure has these people spooked." Leering openly at her, he raised his glass. "Now, how about a friendly drink? I'm buying."

"I don't think so," Micayta said, heading toward the door.

He shrugged and downed his ale. "Your loss."

Back outside, Micayta found her brother standing by the horses, arms folded across his chest, mouth drawn into a pout. "I don't see why I had to stay outside. I could have helped you in there."

"I didn't need help," she said. "I found out enough on my own."

Pytaki started to say something, then changed his mind and asked a question instead. "Found out what?"

"There's rumor of a sorcerer who keeps a dragon nearby," she said, swinging up into her saddle. "We'll see if it's true."

They rode past rundown buildings and once fine homes that had fallen to disrepair; past people who did not look up at them but only trudged on their way staring down at the road. It bothered Micayta in way she wouldn't have expected, it made her angry. That these people still had their lives, their homes, their loved ones, yet lacked hope.

The buildings gave way to empty ground and the start of a short hill. When they reached the top, they saw a low valley spread out before them, gray and empty of life, in the center of which stood a tall black tower, its top tapering off to a point.

Micayta and Pytaki shared a look. She could almost hear what he would say, that they should leave, there was nothing here for them. She felt a bit of that herself. But to turn back now was inconceivable to her, so she pushed her horse on before Pytaki could speak.

When Micayta reached the bottom of the hill, her horse shied, refusing to go on. She dismounted and walked the short distance to the tower.

There was a faint humming in the air, drawing her closer. Reaching out, she placed her hand palm down against the tower. It was cool and slick, like glass, but cast no reflection.

She was pulled back to reality when Pytaki touched her shoulder. "What?" she asked, drawing her hand away.

"I asked what you were doing. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," she said, taking several steps back. She wiped the palm of her hand against the leg of her pants, but still it felt cold. "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"Nothing, never mind." Yet the humming persisted.

Pytaki looked at her curiously. "I don't see a door."

"Right, yes, we need a door." She took a quick walk around the tower but saw no sign of either door or window.

Coming back around to what she supposed was the front, Micayta stood considering the smooth black stone.

"Maybe you should knock," Pytaki said.

It was a sensible idea, even if she didn't want to touch the building again, but just as she raised her hand to do so, a piece of the wall slid away. Micayta took a quick step backward, bumping into her brother.

A fair-haired man in gray robes peered out at them. "Can I help you?"

"Are you the sorcerer?" Micayta asked, recovering her composure.

He paused for a moment, as though considering how best to answer. "No. That would be Demos, I am Tech."

"My name is Micayta and this my brother Pytaki. We've come to see the sorcerer."

"Why?"

The intensity of his gaze made her feel as though he were looking right through her, a feeling she didn't care for. "To ask him about a dragon."

He stared at her a moment longer. "Come in."

Once they were inside, the panel slid shut behind them and they were plunged into total darkness. Micayta reached instinctively for her dagger, then blinked as a bright red flame appeared before her.

"This way," Tech said, holding the torch ahead of him.

It grew colder the further in they went and, despite the brightness of the light, she could see nothing but Tech, not even walls or ceiling. If not for the sound of her boots ringing against the stone floor, she would have thought she was walking on air.

It was impossible to tell how long Tech led them through the tower before the wavering torchlight lit up a stone door. There was that hum again and Micayta wondered that the others didn't seem to hear it.

On the other side of the door, a glowing blue orb hung in the air less than four feet from where they stood, its bright light shining on them. At the edge of this light the darkness hovered like a living thing.

A feeling of dread welled up in Micayta's heart as she wondered what she had gotten them into. Then a tall man in black robes stepped from behind the orb and approached them. Her gaze was immediately drawn to his eyes, cold and black as the tower itself, and just as empty.

He offered them a frosty smile. "You wish to speak with me?"

A chill hit her, colder than anything she ever felt before. But somehow the constant hum was reassuring, bolstering her spirit. "I was told you keep a dragon here," she said. "Is this true?"

Demos made a dismissive gesture. "This tower is hardly large enough to house a dragon and you certainly didn't see one outside. Wherever did you hear such a ridiculous story?"

She kept her gaze focused on him, hoping he couldn't see the fear she was feeling. "In town. Several people said it was so, why would they lie?"

There was the vaguest shifting of Demos' expression as he replied, "People are naturally suspicious of those who wield great power. One such as myself, though even I would not proclaim to have power over a dragon. I'm afraid you've wasted your time."

He started to turn but Micayta was not so easily brushed aside. "So you know nothing of a dragon?" she pressed, throwing away all thoughts of caution. "Not even where to find one?"

He paused, staring back at her. "I could show you a dragon, but I do not think you would like to see it."

"I've already seen it."

"You intend to kill this dragon?" The smug amusement in his voice grated at Micayta.

"I do," she said, silently daring him to tell her she couldn't.

"Then you are a fool. All you will accomplish in this quest is your own death. Go home, child, or if you have no home to go to find another. I cannot help you." He turned and disappeared around the side of the orb.

Micayta took a step forward, intent on following, but Tech moved in to block her path. "You should leave," he said.

"He's right," Pytaki said. "I don't like it here, let's go."

"I won't give up," Micayta said.

"Demos will not speak with you again," Tech said. "Please, you must go." Something in his voice convinced her that he was right.

Tech escorted them back through the tower, but this time he joined them outside. "If you need to rest," he said, holding Micayta with his eyes. "You should go back to the tavern. They have a few rooms upstairs and it is a long way to the next town." He reached into an inner pocket in his robe and withdrew something which he pressed into Micayta's hand. "Have a drink on me," he said, slipping back inside before Micayta could question him.

She opened her hand and stared down at the two silver quatri that lie there.

####

Micayta lie on a stiff mattress in a room above the bar, staring up at the wood-beamed ceiling and wondering if she was crazy to think what she was thinking. Pytaki might be right, maybe it would be better if they moved on. She glanced over at him, sitting in the room's only chair gazing out at the fading light.

"Do you ever think about what we're doing?" he asked. "I mean, chasing the dragon and all. What are we going to do if we catch up to it, or what if we don't? We can't chase the thing forever."

"Stop talking like that," Micayta said, sitting up and swinging her legs over the edge of the bed. We will find the dragon and then we'll kill it."

"How?"

She frowned. It was a good question, one she'd considered over and over again every day since the attack. Her skills with weapons were limited to the short bow and dagger, neither of which would be of much use against a dragon. "When the time comes I'll figure it out. I'm not worried."

"I am. What if we find the dragon and you don't figure it out?" he asked. "I don't want to die."

She hated to hear him so frightened, asking questions she couldn't give answers to. All these things she didn't want to think about.

A knock at the door made them both jump.

"Who could that be?" Pytaki asked.

With one hand on her dagger, Micayta strode over to the door and pulled it open. In the hall stood the man she spoke to earlier at the bar, looking and smelling as badly as before. "Aren't you going to invite me in?"

"Who's that?" Pytaki asked.

Micayta stepped back, letting him enter the room. As she shut the door, his features began to shift, shimmering slightly, until instead of the road weary soldier, Tech stood before them.

With a yelp, Pytaki fell over the back of the chair and lay on the floor with a confused expression on his face. Micayta was not as surprised.

Tech smiled at her. "I'm so relieved you understood my message."

Crossing her arms, she leaned back against the door. "Whatever you want better be important, I could be back on the dragon's trail by now."

"But you've already come to the end of it."

"Would someone please tell me what's going on?" Pytaki asked, standing and righting the chair.

"That's a good idea," Micayta said, giving Tech a pointed look.

"Yes, well we should begin with me," Tech said. "I am a sorcerer, of sorts, specializing in shape shifting. I was in the tavern earlier trying to learn news of the outside world when you showed up asking about a dragon. Naturally, I wanted to speak with you."

"Why send me to the tower?" she asked. "Why couldn't we talk here?"

"For the same reason I must come to town in disguise. These people know me. I can't risk one of them telling Demos what I'm doing. Besides, if I'd asked you to come upstairs would you have done so?"

"No," Micayta said, with a wry smile. "Now, what's this about the end of the dragon's trail?"

"Demos is not what he appears," Tech said. "He is in fact the very dragon you seek."

Micayta felt her heart jump. How could she have stood so close to that monster and not known? Now his condescending words were all the more infuriating.

"Demos is a dragon?" Pytaki asked, sinking down to the bed. "He's not human?"

"Not human at all," Tech said. "I met him in my homeland of Cooris many years ago while I was searching for magical artifacts. I didn't know he was a dragon at the time, I thought him merely another person interested in magic as I was. We spent a few months together and I foolishly told him things better kept a secret. Things like the blue orb you saw, the Cerulean Sphere.

"One night he stole the sphere from me and used it to open a rift that allowed him to enter your world, where dragons are nearly extinct. Everything he's done since is my fault."

There was pain on his face to show her how sorry he was for what he'd done. And though she felt like he should have a share of her hate, right now she needed him. "Tell me what to do."

"No!" Pytaki said, rising from the bed. "We can't do this, we can't fight some kind of sorcerer dragon, this is crazy. I don't want..."

"Calm down," Micayta said, crossing the room to join him. "Let me handle it." He dropped back to the bed without another word and Micayta turned back to Tech.

"Demos has safeguards set up all around the sphere that I can't pass," Tech said. "I know, I've tried with painful consequences. But you might succeed where I've failed."

"Why? How can I get past the safeguards if you can't?"

Tech smiled. "Demos is so arrogant, so assured of his power, that the safeguards are only set for me. You should be able to walk right up to the sphere and use it to return us to Cooris, where Demos will be without the added powers the sphere has afforded him. There he can be killed."

Her heart was beating faster with every word. "How do I kill him?"

"A single drop of blood caught in the sphere is all that's required," Tech said. "I know this is confusing, but there's no more time for talk. You must decide before Demos realizes I'm gone."

Micayta looked to her brother, whose eyes were wide with fear. "We have to do this."

He sighed. "I'll follow wherever you lead. You know that."

"Then it's settled.. We go." She only wished she was as confident as she sounded.

By this time of night, it was so late that the tavern was deserted and they met no one as they slipped out the back.. Soon they came to a pile of rocks where Tech lifted a hidden door and led them down into a tunnel.

All too soon for Micayta, Tech was opening a door at the end of the tunnel and leading them back into the tower. She heard the humming again as they moved swiftly toward the blue room.

The sphere seemed larger and more menacing then before, as though it had grown in her absence. She looked to Tech, uncertain of what she should do.

"Walk into the light," he said. "It's only illusion, the sphere itself is small enough to hold in your hand."

Micayta nodded, took a breath, and moved forward, trying not to think about what she was doing. Something cold brushed her arm, hissing like a serpent. But it passed as quickly as it came and did her no harm. She pressed on, the blue light folding in all around her.

There were weird whispers in the air, words she couldn't understand. She found herself overcome with emotions and began to tremble in a way that had nothing to do with the cold. Tears streamed down her face as feelings of pain, fear, and helplessness washed over her until she was certain she must collapse under the weight of them..

Images flitted by on both sides, the faces of those lost in the dragon's attack. The whispers came clearer, telling her she was making a terrible mistake, she must turn back or she would surely die.

Then the humming sounded louder than ever, a vibration she could feel as well as hear. It called to her and anger flared up, hot enough to burn away the whispers, melt the images. There was a shrill, inhuman scream, and she was plunged into nothingness.

Micayta's heart beat so loud, like drums, and fear pulsed through her in time with beat. She clung to the hum, which grew louder though she was not certain she moved. The hum was all around her, drowning out all else. Then a small glowing orb of white light appeared in the dark.

She could neither see nor feel her fingers, yet was aware of reaching out to the light. For a heartbeat, everything was warm and soft, then Micayta found herself standing in the room once more. The darkness drew close, hungry for the light that streamed out between her closed fingers.

"Quick, hold it up and turn it counterclockwise," Tech said.

Micayta did so, and the air in front of her split open, revealing the land of Cooris. Tech went through the rift first, while Micayta grabbed Pytaki's arm and pulled him in after..

They were standing in a field of pale yellow grass that went on as far as the eyes could see, broken only by a few bare hills. The colorless sky seemed to hang low above them, mute in the complete silence. A world without sound.

Before Micayta had a chance to ask Tech what to do next, Demos was coming in through the rift, his black eyes burning with fire.

"Return the sphere to me," he said. "And I will spare your life and that of your brother."

"Never," Micayta said, dropping the sphere into her pocket. "I came here to kill a dragon, not bargain with it."

"Then die!" His cloak ripped away as two black tipped wings sprouted from his back. His skin melted to reveal crimson scales and for a moment he was a horrible joining of man and serpent. Then his body twisted and stretched until there was a thirty-foot dragon where a man once stood.

"Run!" Tech shouted, sprinting toward the hills. Micayta and Pytaki followed close behind as Demos rose into the sky.

On the far side of the hills, there was an opening which led into a dark cave. Here they paused to catch their breath, listening to Demos howl as he tried to figure a way through the boulders that partially covered the opening.

"Now what?" Micayta asked, turning to Tech. "How am I supposed to fight that?" For the first time she fully realized how poorly prepared she was for this. A glimpse of a retreating dragon over the horizon was far different from standing in its shadow.

"A normal blade will be of no use," Tech said. "But there is a sword that was hidden somewhere in these hills a long time ago. They call it Dragon's Bane and it could be useful to us now, if you can find it."

"If I can find it?" Micayta said. "You don't know where it is?"

"I know it's in the hills somewhere, but no one has found it since it was hidden."

"What makes you think I can?" Micayta asked.

"Hope," he said, his gray eyes somber.

"Hope," she repeated. It wasn't much to reassure her.

An unexpected blast of heat hit them as Demos shot fire around the boulders blocking the entrance.

"Whoa!" Pytaki cried, jumping back.

"Let's go," Micayta said.

At first they were walking in total darkness, but gradually, small blue stones in the roof of the cave began to glow, showing them their path.

"Incredible," Tech murmured, staring up in raptured awe. "I've been here many times, but this has never happened before."

The path wound its way deeper into the cave, sparkling light bouncing off the crystal formations rising from the floor, until a pool of dark water blocked their way.

"What now?" Micayta asked.

Tech approached the pool. "If I remember the story right, you will find the sword there, beneath the water."

Micayta joined him at the pool's edge, staring down at the mirror still water. "How deep is it?"

"I have no idea," Tech said. "But that sword is your only hope against Demos."

Water rippled through her memory, cold and salty, filling her lungs as she thrashed about so close to death. She took a few steps back, shaking her head.

"What's wrong?" Tech asked, frowning.

"She's afraid of the water," Pytaki said, stepping between her and the pool. "I'll go."

"No," she said, pulling him back before he could enter the water. "This was my doing. I'll take the risks."

She moved back to the pool's edge, breathing slowly in and out. She could swim, and often did in the shallow part of the lake, it was only the deep water that sent these chills of fear through her. She closed her eyes and plunged head-first into the pool.

There was a moment of panic as cold, murky water filled her vision, but she fought it down, forcing herself to swim deeper.

It took all her focus, all her will, to ignore the burning pain in her lungs and swim still deeper, until her searching eyes caught sight of a blue glow. She swam with more determination and finally saw the hilt of a sword rising from the sand.

She planted her feet as firmly as she could, and grabbed hold of the sword. It pulled free with little effort, shining as brightly as the sphere. Using her legs to kick off the bottom, she propelled herself toward the surface.

As she rose through the clouded water, Micayta felt weighted by the sword. She was weary in both body and spirit, yet still she must face the dragon. Strange to think a blacksmith's daughter would find herself faced with such peril.

As her head broke the surface of the pool, she gasped for air. Leaning over the edge, Tech offered her his arm and helped her from the water.

Back on solid earth, Micayta knelt, her breath ragged. She stared down at the sword in her hands. It was the first time she'd ever held one, yet it felt right somehow, as though it belonged to her.

"Are you ready?" Tech asked.

She looked up at him, water dripping into her eyes, feeling a world apart from the girl she used to be. "Yes," she whispered.

The glowing stones led them back to the entrance of the cave.

"What's the plan?" Pytaki asked.

Micayta exchanged a glance with Tech, then turned to Pytaki and said, "Listen to me, little brother, and do as I say." She took her dagger from its sheath and handed it to him. A brief smile crossed his face. "Stay here. I'll finish this myself."

"No!" Pytaki said, the smile slipping away. "I can help you."

"I can't concentrate if I have to worry about you," Micayta said. "I need to know you're safe."

Pytaki looked to Tech with pleading in his eyes. "I can help."

Tech shook his head. "Your sister is right. You should stay here."

"Fine," he said, dropping to a sitting position and turning his face from them.

Micayta sighed. "Tech, do you see Demos out there?"

He peered out through the cave opening. "I see him." He glanced back at Micayta. "He's waiting for us."

Micayta gripped the sword in both hands, holding it tight to her chest. The moment had finally come and she was not sure she was ready. She closed her eyes, recalling images of her parents and all the others lost to her because of this dragon. She opened her eyes.

Tech started to say something, but she was already up and running before a word could pass his lips.

Demos wasted no time. As soon as he saw Micayta, his jaws opened wide and a ball of fire exploded from his throat.

Micayta held the sword up and the fireball struck the glowing blade, vanishing in a flash of blue light. With a renewed surge of hope, she charged forward.

Demos made a sound like a deep throated chuckle, lifted one of his clawed feet, and swept Micayta into the air, flinging her several paces away.

Micayta hit the ground with a breathtaking thud. Blinking through the tears in her eyes, she turned her head to see the sword lying far to the left of her, near the cave entrance. Demos was drawing closer; there was no chance she could reach the sword in time.

Then she saw herself stepping out of the cave, the sphere in her hand. Blinking several times, shocked at what she was seeing, she heard her own voice calling Demos' name. The dragon stopped, turned, and snarled when he saw the other Micayta. He looked back at Micayta lying on the ground and she froze, hoping he would think her dead.

The other Micayta made a move toward the sword and Demos swung around, blasting a fireball at her. She ducked, causing the fireball to hit the rock instead. When she took off in the opposite direction, Demos gave pursuit.

Meanwhile, Pytaki slipped out of the cave, grabbed the sword up in his cloak, and ran to kneel beside Micayta.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

She sat up, wincing as the muscles in her back tightened. "What is going on?"

Pytaki looked over his shoulder, where the other Micayta was struggling to avoid the dragon's fire and whipping tail. "It was my idea," he said, pride in his voice. "But it won't last much longer, so we have to hurry."

He took her hand and helped her to her feet, then handed her the sword.

"Thanks," she said. "For once, I'm glad you didn't listen to me."

He grinned. "I'll remember..." The rest of his words were cut off by a furious roar.

Turning toward the sound, Micayta saw Tech as himself once more, armed with nothing but a dagger and dangerously close to being killed.

Thinking quickly, Micayta reached into her pocket, withdrew the sphere and pressed it into her brother's hand. "Follow me, aim for the blood."

Without a word, he nodded.

Micayta ran toward Demos, who was so intent on Tech that he didn't even see her. Ducking under his tail, Micayta brought the sword down in an arch, raking the blade across the crimson scales which fell away as though they were made of paper.

With a bellow of pain and rage, Demos whipped his tail around and struck Micayta in the side, knocking her to the ground. Little black spots danced in her vision, but still she found the strength to roll away before his foot hit the spot where she was lying.

Demos started to turn and the sphere came flying through the air, rolling to a stop beside his foot. A single drop of ruby-red blood fell from the wound on his leg, then everything was washed in a blast of white light.

Someone put their arm around her, helping her to her feet. It took a moment for her vision to clear and when it did she was confused by what she saw. Emerald green grass waving in a gentle breeze, sky blue as ocean water, and a bright orange-red sun.

"What happened?" she asked.

Tech smiled, even he seemed more alive somehow. "Since Demos stole the sphere, he has used its power to draw the life-magic from everything within hundreds of miles, until both our worlds were gripped in a perpetual winter. I think you will find many things changed now that he is dead." He retrieved the sword from where it lay on the ground. "This belongs to you," he said, passing it to Micayta. "It has waited a long time for the right hand to wield it."

"Where do we go from here?" Pytaki asked.

"I don't know," Micayta said, though she hated to admit it. "I never thought that far ahead."

"There are still many dragons here," Tech said. "And other creatures of darkness who have grown bolder since the light of the sword was hidden away. It was to protect all worlds from their evil that this sword was created, that is its purpose."

"Purpose," Micayta murmured, gripping the hilt of the sword more tightly. She looked at her brother, his eyes glowing with the same fire she felt, and then back to Tech. "Maybe we could stay awhile."

THE END


© 2009 Kyra Dune

Bio: Ms. Dune describes herself simply as an avid reader of both fantasy and horror.

E-mail: Kyra Dune

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.