War is Too Familiar

Walking the Blade will be a series of novels based on the life and relationships of a dragon who can shift into human form. The stories you see here are snippets and scenes that I wanted to share with you – things we wrote to further develop and fill in the history of our cast of characters. We hope you enjoy and come back for more!

“We got ‘em to leave.” One of the betas in the lycan army pointed out. He could tell that Devon wasn’t buying it all. He had discussed the exit of the elves with his father. They smelled a trap. “They’re travelin’ right up the straight path you marked. So, we’ve got ‘em.”

“Not so easy. We need to keep with the plan. I’m with my father on this one. My instinct tells me they’re thinking to attack us as we move into the area. They think once we get into the gorge that heads to the North, they’ve got us. I’m done with this war. If we’re ta end it, I’m not takin’ chances. We send a group through – scouts they’re used to. Have ’em protected… and let the damn rats come out so we can finsih ’em off.”

“Alright. Then you tell them dragons of yours to be ready!” The Beta moved off to get Devon’s orders out there. Most of the others moved to leave the tent with their commander once he had his orders.  

“It’s too quiet.” 

The voice came from one of the younger scouts. She was worried, and that concern was written all over her face. 

“What’re you sayin’?” Devon asked. 

“I haven’t seen the Rourke perimeter patrol. I haven’t heard the guards. This morning, I saw one of the horses out in the woods where I had camped. They take better care of their animals than that.”  

Devon scowled as he looked towards the Pack lands in question. He breathed in deep but could smell nothing out of sorts. Everything had pointed to an easy push on those last elves that had been in the area. The wars had finally gotten to the creatures and they were, for the most part, backing out of the situation with the lycan packs. They’d lost their slaves, lost lives that could have been longer than any other race, and had no use for the packlands they were still trying to keep. Scouts had seen them packing their equipment and leaving earlier in the week. But this scout had been out there, had been in the midst of it all. Devon would take experience and caution over good fortune any day.

“She’s right it’s too quiet. Pick a few to go check it out.” Devon looked towards his best friend and watched as Argoth whistled sharp for his pup before turning away, shifting with the others to their wolf-forms, and taking off.

“What’s yer name gal?” Dev looked at the young lycan female as he motioned the others onward. The dragons would be in position and ready of that he had no doubt. Now he just had to figure out where Gareth had gotten off to.

“Edia, sir,” the scout replied, a quick smile coming to her face now that she knew they were taking her seriously. It especially made her feel better that the prince had trusted her. “Shall I go forward with the rest or go back with the others to seek the Alphas of Pack Rourke. I do not mind what order you give, sir.” She was obviously nervous, for she’d never spoken to anyone in the tight circle that tended to surround Devon Weylyn. And now she was speaking to him.  

“Go back with the others and see what comes of yer hunch.” He’d have to make sure she was put with the right group after all of this.

“Yes, sir,” Edia took off the way she had come. With back-up, she would be safer going further into the other pack’s territory. 

~ We got company. I thought ya’ll were takin’ care of the elves? ~ Gareth grinned and pretended he saw nothing, while mind-speaking to his dragon compatriot. Watching from the shadows of the trees three elves took note of how the lycan separated themselves. Gareth’s sense of smell told him part of the information, his quick eyes told him the other.

~ Got to thread the needle first, boy. All that’ll be left are stragglers. If they’ve not seen you, hide there… wait. Then we can get others to you for the sweep. ~ Senias had been training Gareth as much as he had been training the others – perhaps moreso. He saw the potential in the boy for true talent in combat and killing. Gareth didn’t waste energy like most lycan and the Dragon Lord of Morias could appreciate that. 

As Argoth moved to the front with Derek and his men, they got ready with the magical shields they were all given – the necklaces were on them and all they had to do was breathe on the little slivers of crystal to enact the magic. But they needed to get the elves to attack and chase.

The arrows let them know it was time to retreat. 

Engaging the elves was easy enough and as they clashed, Argoth gave the call to retreat knowing the elves would give chase thinking they had the lycan on the run. Such vanity and ego was truly an elven trait. They gave the dragons the signal and used the magical shields they’d been given.

As soon as their pack got back behind the gully the dragons had been waiting for, Inea took off from the hillside nearby to gain air for the strafe. The pale, sky-colored dragon was a surprise against the blue of the sky and the sunlight. Molten, liquid fire sprayed over the elven contingent. They had not been expecting it from this angle. They were fully immersed in this place…some didn’t even get a chance to scream.

A chorus of howls went up as they watched elves disappear in the wash of flames!

The elven commander sat on his horse overlooking the destruction. He called on the mages to begin their attack. But as he held his arm up, they could all hear the whistling sound of something large falling through air toward them. In one second, all elves within the area and the forest itself were immolated.  Senias, the black scaled dragon with deep maroon and reddish markings, swooped back upward, arrows hitting scales and a few piercing skin here and there. He turned toward the chasm, and he and Inea switched places, giving each other time to prepare the next round of fiery breath. 

Devon stood a good distance away and watched the annihilation of his enemy. They would not try anything else. They had tried and failed. This would mark the full exodus of the Elven Kingdoms from the Lycan Packlands for good. There was a sense of relief that came over the younger alpha-prince. Tipping his head, Devon howled one long and three clipped howls that would bring his men and women back to him. On his call, their two dragon friends also turned back. Now, he could place his attention to where Edia had pointed it. The Rourke Packlands.

The scream was immediate. The black dragon pushed his wings furiously, stopping mid-air and turning to go to where he heard the screaming roar of his dragoness. Something had either hurt Inea or had infuriated her and he needed to find out what.  

~ It’s poisoned! ~ Inea had run back from the fields where she had landed, and was wiping her claws on the ground nearby to get it off. Senias landed near her and then moved toward her before sitting upon his hind legs to look over her clawed palms. Her pale skin was blistered and some of the scales were actually partially eaten away.  There was a mournful, painful sound coming from her. ~ Are there any left? All I saw… they were dead… ~ 

~ Did we strike at the elves, too late, Devon? ~ Senias asked, knowing the lycan would soon come forward.  ~ Be careful what you touch. The fields are lyed and salted, ~ Senias warned. 

On the ground Devon and his lycan bretheren had made his way through the trails leading to the now poisoned lands. He felt a chill race up his back as he moved through the dead. His men were checking each one for life and hadn’t found any by the time he reached the main keep. But there was no smell. Nothing looked…dead.

The castle felt empty and hollow as he searched it for survivors. The place hadn’t been ransacked, its occupants had all simply been killed. Such loss of life was heartbreaking.

~The Pack’s been wiped out. The Alpha and his mate are dead, along with their unborn. I can’t find their son… he’s not among the dead that I see. This didn’t just happen Sen.. they’ve been dead a few days at least. So, yes, my friend. It seems we were much too late. ~ Why hadn’t the smell alert others before now? Devon set his people to gathering the dead while the search for survivors continued.

Kieran came from the west, and he had prisoners by the time he reached the main palace and village of Pack Rourke. The city was a ghost town, and they all knew why. 

The Alpha put his hand back behind him and a small tawny-skinned woman with reddish waves in her hair hopped down with the swing of his big arm. She had a bag with her and she rushed to the now-shifted dragoness, who was holding her hands up, shaking. She didn’t even dare move her blonde hair from her face, her hands were so pained. To her, the searing pain that had been coursing through her dragon-form had been unbearable. She knew that sometimes treatment in one form carried over to the other. Senias moved to the side and with a flash of magic, he too was in his human form, the bearded Celt moving toward the two, concern in his green-blue eyes.

“I only stepped into the mix with my front claws. That’s all it took,” she explained to him.

“Here, I have some salve that’ll help with it. If ya don’t mind,” Eva dug in her bag and produced a jar and opened the lid. The smell was nice, lemony and when she spread it gently on Inea’s hands, the sorceress took a deep breath and smiled at the woman. 

“It, cools…”  Inea, in her human form let her gaze move to her dragon partner, who was very concerned for her. It seemed she would be fine, now. Where had Kieran gotten this one? The draconic man looked toward the Alpha of Pack Weylyn.

“Yes. It’s a mixture of some things I brought from dhe other world and some of dhe herbs I found here. Should heal you up quicker and also maybe give relief?” 

Inea nodded. “You’re a healer?”

“Yes. It’s my specialty.” she looked around. “Anyone else need help?”

“Have you found the Alphas? Their son?” Kieran asked all around. 

Wiping his hands off Devon made his way out to me this Alpha. “Alpha’s are dead, no sign of their son. Might be with survivors somewhere tucked away.” The sight of Eva surprised Devon and elated him in the same moment. His joyful greeting for her would have to wait though. He needed to help this Pack all that he could. “The dead are bein’ gathered for a pyre to send ’em to the fields together.”

Eva looked among them all. Her eyes moved to where they were referring, and she swallowed. So much dead.

“How is it they aren’t… they don’t stink of death, you know?” she asked. 

“It’s a spell. Eternal Sleep. They’re dead. But, they don’t decompose. We’ll have to break it and burn them to send them off,” Inea walked over to Gareth to be sure he was okay, despite Eva trying to wrap the woman’s hands. 

“It’d be a curse on this land, is what they’ve tried to do.” Eva spoke in her old tongue and made a symbol of sorts with her fingers. “May the lady revisit upon the elves three fold as they’ve done to her people.”  She moved off from Inea and toward where she saw the others pushing debris around. They were all searching in, what looked to be a kitchen area. “There is some green energy within this place. There is life here, yet.”

“You have the sight?” Senias asked the woman.

“If dat be what you call it. I see energies.”

Wasting no time Devon went to help clear the way into the area she spoke of. The others rushed with him to clear out rubble by making a chain. He didn’t fear getting dirty and was the first to step forward and remove troublesome debris or to secure dangerous areas. He’d risk his life before those of his Pack, but then he’d always been that way. Even when a captive during war he’d protected the other prisoners preferring to take the brunt of abuse from their elven captors.

Kieran was right behind him, for he had been good friends with the peaceful agrarians who were Pack Rourke. This pack had given them a good place of fortification against the Elves of the Nothern Kingdoms for years. Apparently, they had not been able to keep themselves safe in the exodus. Everyone in this place had to be wondering why they had not sent for help. It angered Kieran that his pack hadn’t gotten here in time and that they hadn’t found young Prince Rory, yet. He was yet an adolescent, still just a kid. He’d not yet entered training and so, he would’ve been a ripe target for the elves. 

“I hope he ain’t dead, but at the same time, I hope he ain’t a prisoner either… poor kid,” Kieran muttered. “Eva, did you still see it?”

“I…no, Lord Alpha, it was so weak, I know it was in dhat area, where you are, dhere…” She moved over to where everyone was trying to dig their way through the rubble that had been left of the throne room. There had not been fire or explosions reported, so the elves must have used a lot of magic and equipment to get this much damage done.

Senias moved past. “Got any hard drink around here? Maybe I can use my sight and finish this up?” he offered. 

“Here!” Eva shuffled around in her bag and then pulled out some liquor in a flask. “It comes in handy in many a-ways,” she explained. Then she looked to Devon.  Her eyes were concerned. Seeing his irritation, she laid her hand upon his arm. “You and yours have done what you can. We’ll continue to do all we can.” 

“I know.. I just…” with a heavy sigh Devon shook his head, “It’s just hard seeing so many lives lost for nonsense.” Leaning his head Devon pressed his forehead to hers as Sen was finishing off her whiskey. 

Senias handed the empty flask back and moved back toward where Eva had mentioned seeing life. It wasn’t the throne room itself so much as… beyond it. His eyes slitted draconic. He couldn’t shift within the structure, for fear he’d knock the rest of it down. This would have to do. He moved along the back of the wall, which only a week or so ago had stood two stories. There was a space beneath. “There’s a hidden cubby! Between the thrones, we need to get what’s left of this wall out. But I think he might be in there! He’s prone!” 

Eva waited while the others continued to clear the debris. She would be ready to treat whoever came out. She noticed the sorceress was also helping, using a stone hung round her neck. Their eyes met and a nod and a small smile was shared between them. They were both trying to help ease pain, and so she had found someone that she had that in common with. She felt better.  

 Crouching down where the dragon had motioned, Devon peered in and huffed, “Can’t reach him, but Gareth can.”

When his brother called his name, Gareth moved into the room and as Devon moved aside he crouched down to look in. Why the hell did he get crammed into such a place? It was a question he silently asked himself while laying out on his belly and moving into the cubby. 

 “When ya get in there cover yourselves up so we can bring the rest of the wall down.” Dev rumbled as Gareth vanished from sight.

“Yeah, yeah just hurry the fuck up.” Gareth growled as he made his way in to find Rory.

Looking at Sen, Devon rumbled, “Okay let’s get ’em out of there now.”

“Move back out of this place,” Senias ordered. They all knew to obey the dragon when he said something like that. The human form of the dragon moved his hands in the air as if he were focusing on Gareth. He let his magic morph him back into his dragon form and the entire place rumbled. Stones and glass fell off of his huge back, but his claws wound up perfectly surrounding the place where Gareth and Rory were lying. The thrones were destroyed and the ceiling of the cubby above Gareth and the boy were peeled back.

“Eva, Inea, come take a look at him and see what can be done.” Devon called to their healers.

Both women hurried, Inea moving her magical hand up and around the kid’s face. Eva went right to work on getting a water skin and trying to get the boy to drink. 

“He’s horribly dehydrated. His nails are bloodied, he must’ve gotten stuck in there,” Inea whispered. 

“Can you help me make him swallow?” Eva asked the dragoness. 

“Yes,” the woman placed her hands appropriately beneath Rory’s neck and head, despite her pain, and as Eva slowly let some water go into his mouth and down his throat, Inea would move him so that the water would go properly and not down into his lungs. She only did this maybe four times, before there were signs of stirring.   

There was a soft cough and a wheeze as Rory sucked in air. A minute passed before he did the same and he repeated the action three more times over the next three minutes. His eyes barely opened as if he just didn’t have the strength for more than the barest response.

“Let’s get him outta here.” Kieran called to the others. “Argoth, take him to the shaman. Senias, cast a portal for all the injured. They all need to return to the castle proper. Lady Helena can sort things out from there. He don’t need ta be around all this death.”

Dev, you and I, we’ll give the rest the proper send-off, if Inea can figure out how to end this Eternal Sleep curse. Not many were left from what I saw…”

As the rest went with his father, Devon walked over to Eva.

It’s good to see ya again. Didn’t expect my ole man to be the one to go and get ya. I planned on doin’ it myself.” He looked around at all that was going on – from bodies being placed on pyres to survivors being tended to and prisoners being rounded up. “Not exactly the welcome I was plannin’ for ya.” His hand lifted to brush his knuckles over her cheek as the palms were filthy.

“I could’ve stayed back at the palace, but my heart wanted to come to you. Besides, like I said, I help people. I needed to help people.” She let her face move against his fingers and closed her eyes for a moment. “Are you sure you want me as a mate? You don’t know much about me.” 

“I still haven’t changed my mind. I still want ya for my mate – if you’ll have me after all of this.”

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