Labored Slumber

Terror of the night, let me be!

Let me awake from this reality.

Cure the illness with a pill.

Erase the pain with a drink.

Forgive me my beloved for awaking without saying ‘goodbye’.

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I don’t know how to say I love you when the sun showers you with warmth,

I don’t know how to say I love you when the rain quenches your thirst,

I don’t know how to say I love you when the bees shares your nectar,

I don’t know how to say I love you.

I only know that I adore you,

I only know that I treasure you,

I only know that I am one with you.

Enchanted Crowns

“And how are you supposed to help us fight a den of trappers?” Zakhira asked. Drayk ran his hands through his beard and Zakhira took this silence as his answer. “I thought so, I think you have wasted our time.” She turned to Shiv. “We have to hurry.”

“What’s the hurry?” Drayk asked still stroking his beard.

“Every second that passes is one less for our companion.”

“So, you are only here to save your companion nothing else?”

“No, why?”

“No reason.” Drayk smiled.  “Come over here.” Drayk walked over to a large chest at the corner of his house. “Do you know how my legion became the most feared legion in the war?”

Zakhira shrugged. “Because you were a united legion of gods?”

“Good observation, but no.” He flipped the lid open and pulled out two concentric circles wrapped by a red cloth. “It was because of our armor.”

“Your armor?”

“Do you know my true power?”

“You control the dragon spirits, you have the power of all elements.”

“Partly true, I can also imbibe my powers on weapons and armor.”

“Just like Gemma?”

“In a way, but I don’t need to cry out random gemstones, I can enchant anything with whatever I want.” Drayk unfurled the red cloth and revealed two silver crowns. “Here try this.”

Zakhira picked up a crown and wore it on her head. “I don’t feel anything different.” She looked over at Shiv and he was examining his crown, looking for gemstones. “He already said there are no gemstones on these, what are you looking for?”

Shiv shrugged. “There must be some sort of inscription right? Just like Esen’s bracelets?”

“You have a point.”

“You don’t believe me?” Drayk pulled out a long horn from the chest. “Let me ask you something, why would it be difficult for you to fight a trapper? let alone a den of trappers.”

Shiv recalled his encounter with the trapper that abducted Anastasia. “I remember I couldn’t move.”

“The petrifying scream.” Drayk blew on the horn. A high pitched sound filled the house and the furnishings vibrated. Glasses, plates and other items cracked while others shattered.

“What was that sound?” Zakhira asked looking around at the mess. “Is that one of your enchanted weapons?”

Drayk smiled. “Look at your companion.”

Zakhira turned to Shiv and noticed that he was frozen like a statue. “Shiv? Shiv?”  Zakhira reached for Drayk’s robe. “What did you do to him?”

Drayk chuckled. “Now do you believe me?”

“Believe you?”

“The crown works doesn’t it?”

“Huh?” Zakhira caught herself moving about while Shiv was stuck in a frozen state. “How do I get him back?”

“Just put his crown on and it will block out the petrifying scream.”

Zakhira took the silver crown from Shiv’s hands and placed it on his head. In a moment his fingers flexed and he took a deep breath lunging forward and falling onto a table with some clay pitchers and jars on it.

“Ow!” Shiv screamed moving his arms in a defensive position, protecting his face. “What happened?” He said picking himself up.

Drayk turned to Zakhira. “I am only loaning these crowns to you, as you can see the power that our weapons and armor possess, they cannot leave the sanctity of this village, otherwise a new war would start up.”

Zakhira frowned sitting on the bed next to Drayk. “There is a new war bubbling under the surface.”

“Ahhh, so the prophecy is true then?”

“What prophecy?” Zakhira asked.

Drayk glanced at Shiv as he tried to fix the table back on its legs and picked up the fragments of broken clay.

“He reminds you of him doesn’t he? Minus the power of course.”

Zakhira nodded her head at Drayk’s reference to Ryuu.

“He was a powerful warrior, probably the only reason why we didn’t overwhelm the half-bloods early on in the war.” Drayk gripped on his staff and looked up at the ceiling. “But there is something odd about him isn’t it?”

“Odd?” Zakhira asked.

“Just look at him.”

“I am.”

“No, look past his human flesh. Look closer, he seems to have no power but there is a spirit of change.”

“Change?”

“Tell me, why is he here?”

“I can’t tell you that.”

“It’s because of Esen isn’t it?”

“Esen?”

Drayk pointed at the bracelets on their wrists. “It’s obvious that Esen is behind all of this, she is the only one capable of restarting the war.”

“Yes, yes it is.”

“I think you are on the way to the seer are you not?”

“How do you know all of this?”

“It’s obvious isn’t it my dear?” He turned to Shiv once more and then chuckled. “If the prophecy is indeed true, that a person who resembles the hero of the half-bloods with a spirit like no other would appear, then you would want to visit the seer to uncover his ability.”

“What is his ability?”

“If I told you will you still visit the seer?”

“Yes.”

“Because you have a different mission don’t you, it’s not to uncover his talent but something else?”

“I’m just here to accompany him, the mission is all his.”

“Ahhh, but your father, the great Shesha has his own mission for you doesn’t he?”

“Yes.”

“And you have doubts?”

“Yes.”

Drayk smiled. “It’s a foolish man’s destiny to think, but it’s a heroes destiny to act.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your time is running out.” Drayk raised his hand opening the flaps of his house. “Your companion and one of my villagers are about to be dinner.”

“Wait, you have to tell me how you know all of these?”

“Come back alive and I’ll tell you.”

“Shiv, stop playing with that table.”

Shiv placed the last fragment of broken clay on the table. “Sorry Drayk.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Drayk waved his hand over the the broken pieces and they moved slowly together merging back together into their original forms of clay jars and pitchers like they had never been destroyed.

“How did you do that?”

“They are made of earth, earth is one of the elements that I control. It’s nothing that I can’t do or nothing that you can’t do for that matter.”

“I can’t control earth, I don’t have that kind of ability.”

“Come on Shiv.” Zakhira tugged on Shiv’s arm. “We have to go.”

“Wait! How did he do that? What did he mean that I have the same kind of ability?”

“Leave it alone!”

“No wait!” Shiv pulled his arm from Zakhira’s grip. “He has some answers, he knows something, didn’t you say that we have to find out what they know?”

“Have you forgotten about Anastasia?”

The image of Anastasia’s petrified body being carried away by the huge trapper returned to him. “No, I haven’t, it’s just that.” He looked at Drayk. “I need answers.”

“We will be back, but right now Anastasia is running out of time.”

“Okay fine.” Shiv followed Zakhira through the flap. “How do you expect us to find her then?”

“Just follow the screams.” Drayk chuckled.

The Village of Abstinence

Shiva and Zakhira willed their gargoths forward with the two men sitting behind them. Zakhira gathered that the young man wearing the bandanna on his head was named Owain.

“We’re here.” Owain said pointing enthusiastically to a nearby village.

They moved toward the village on foot, leaving their gagaroths in the middle of a field with other beasts grazing on some grass. “Where are we.” Shiv asked Zakhira.

She shook her head indicating that she didn’t know. “I’ve never been away from the main road before.” She looked at the large fields, tall trees and irrigated lands. “I’ve not seen any place like this my whole life, except.” She looked at Shiv. “Except at your home realm.”

Shiv nodded and recognized the large farms with men in similar attire to the old men wielding different farming tools, one of which he recognized was a hoe. Another person was spraying seeds from a wide brimmed wicker basket.

Owain moved forward with his forked staff guiding the way. “We live a peaceful life as you see.”

“Don’t you have any abilities?” Shiv asked.

“We all have abilities just like Zakhira and her kind.” Owain said poking at the fact that Shiv didn’t display any kind of power.

“Listen, he is skilled in more ways than one.” Zakhira said picking up on Owain’s insult. “At least he has the courage to fight even without abilities.”

“I have abilities.” Shiv whispered to Zakhira. “Nigel said so.”

Zakhira waved Shiv with her hand and focused on Owain. “And what about your kind?”

“We choose not to use our powers, we live in harmony with the earth out of respect for the energies around us.”

“Are you saying that using powers is a disharmony to the earth? How can it be when it is as natural as breathing?”

“It’s not natural for your human friend is it?” Owain chuckled.

“Hmph!” Zakhira stepped back urging Shiv to walk next to her behind the two men.

“Why are we here Zakhira?” Shiv asked looking around at the men and women who were now staring at them. “We have to go and save Anastasia we shouldn’t be here at all!”

“I know Shiv, but there is something odd about these men, they know so much about us and our kingdom.”

“Is that odd? I mean Esen is the queen.”

“Half-bloods are not true royalty, the only people who know about the kingdom are other half-bloods and they all stay inside the kingdom.”

“Then who are these people?”

“That’s what were here to find out.”

Owain led them through a dirt road after passing through a wooden fence and gate. Small huts made out of lumber and padded with leaves as roofs lined the road. An old woman pulled out a bucket from a stoned well and poured the contents to an empty bucket which was then carried out by a young sturdy man to a nearby hut. At the end of the dirt road a hut, the same size and as unassuming as the other huts greeted them. Owain pulled open a wooden door and led his guests in.

“I have been waiting for you.” An old man spoke. His robe hung in mid-air and Zakhira gathered that the man was hovering. He rested his arm covered in triple layered cloths.

“Who are you?” Zakhira asked ahead of Shiv. She glanced at him and gave him a stare that told him not to say a word.

“Is that a way to address your host?” The old man chuckled. “I see Shesha has not taught his daughter any manners.” He paused and then continued. “You have that haughty royal arrogance even after you lost your kingdom to the half-bloods.”

“How dare you mention the kings name?!?”

“You don’t recognize me do you Zakhira?”

“How, how do you know me?”

“Does the name Drayk ring any bells?”

“Drayk?” Zakhira thought and tried to remember the half-bloods in the war, the different generals and ace warriors. She could not think of anyone. “Drayk there are no half-blooo….” Zakhira froze, she looked up at the old man, at his thickly padded arm, it was the same padding that Ryuu had it was the sign of the dragon spirit.

“You can’t be?”

“Oh you do remember me then child.”

“You are the god of dragons, the dragon spirit, ruler of all elements.”

“Oh I wouldn’t go as far as that but you’re close.”

“What is this place?” Shiv interjected and ignored Zakhira’s stunned stare.

“Oh the human speaks.”

“Are you going whack me with a piece of rock?” Drayk and Owain laughed in unison.

“I can fight anybody and match them on the battle field.”

“Hmmmm, you know I believe you.”

“You do?” Shiv asked.

“Why do you look surprised human? I just agreed with you.” He turned to Owain. “This human nature is really odd don’t you think?” Owain nodded and then spoke. “Very much indeed sire.”

“Stop calling me sire! I told you we don’t have kingdom anymore, can’t you get that in your thick skull?”

“Yeah.” Owain shook his head. “The good old days are gone.” He turned and walked through the doorway and said before he disappeared under the flaps. “If we stuck around the war, the half-bloods would be the ones in hiding not us.”

“What is he talking about?” Zakhira asked.

“We are all gods here.” Drayk took a deep breath and continued. “We were tired of the bloodshed and the struggle for power that we took a vow to abstain using our powers and work like the humans do, living in harmony with the earth. We spend our days, taking care of our herd and tilling land at peace away from the outside world.”

“You are all gods?” Zakhira took in Drayk the king of the dragons and the name Owain jogged in her head. “Owain, he is the lightning god isn’t he? And you were all called the ‘Terrible Fate’, the fiercest legion in this realm.”

Drayk chuckled. “I am amazed that you remember us my dear, it was because of that reputation that we had a change of heart.”

“Change of heart? You were the fiercest group in the war.”

“All our power did was bring suffering and we found peace with living in simplicity.”

“And you let your friend get taken by the trapper.”

Drayk chuckled. “That is where you come in my child, you will have to save our friend and yours.”

“Owain said we are not equipped.”

“Oh you are not but we are.”

Search Party

Shiv grunted as he fell on the ground. His body felt cold and numb, his blood circulated slowly returning the movement of his limbs.

“Are you okay?” Zakhira asked as she got up on one knee.

Shiv nodded, he retracted the blades of his gauntlet and stared at the crooked path left by the monster. “What was that?” He asked.

“It’s a trapper.” She looked over at her gagaroth and it was shivering in fear. She turned back to Shiv. “It hunts by luring unsuspecting animals with its color and scent.” She thought for a moment about Anastasia. “She will be eaten by the end of the day.”

He stared at the sun, the sky was still pinkish-purple, and the bright rays told him that he had time to search for Anastasia and maybe even save her. “We have to go after her.” Shiv held on the horn of his gagaroth and beckoned him to come close.

“We can’t” Zakhira said forcefully jumping on the saddle of her gagaroth. “We don’t have time.” She pointed up at the clouds. “The seer is on the move, if we miss this opportunity we may never find her again for a long time.”

“We can’t just leave her to die!”

“We have no choice.”

“I’m going after her whether you want to or not!”

Zakhira yelled and followed Shiv with her gagaroth. His beast ran quickly following the broken path of trees and foliage. Zakhira reached beside Shiv and held his arm. “Are you going to disobey the queen?”

“No, but we have to do something.”

“She means that much to you?” Zakhira paused waiting for an answer, she knew by the look on his face that he would do anything to save Anastasia, it was the same look Ryuu had whenever she was in trouble. “Fine, but you have to listen to me. We are not in the protection of Esen anymore, we are on our own. Do you understand?”

Shiv smiled at her and told his gagaroth to run faster.

Zakhira followed suit and led the both of them through the make-shift path. The main road started disappearing and the foliage grew thick. There were large insects flying around and unusual lizards with large tongues hanging from tree branches. Zakhira’s nose picked up a sweet scent, it was the smell of overly ripe fruit. She thought that they were close. Her father had told her of the trappers. These monstrous plants, would gather their prey and take them to their lair. A lair that looks like a beautiful garden on the outside but once inside all anyone could see was blood. The smell of the trappers, the sweet scent of ripe fruit covered the stench of death and she thought that they were riding on to their death. She hoped that Nigel had thought Shiv enough about combat to get them in and out quickly.

“What is that?” Shiv pointed to a group of men in white robes and forked staffs.

Zakhira looked over to the direction Shiv pointed to. A group of men sat down hunched over a patch of grass and mumbled to themselves. She stopped and looked at them. “What is going on here?” She said with an authoritative voice telling the men that she was someone important.

One of the men who wore a red bandanna over his shaved head looked up at Zakhira. He tapped on his staff and wondered who they were. No one rode on beasts unless they were combatants, he deduced that they must either be mercenaries or members of the royal army. His gaze drifted to the gold bracelets on her wrist. “You come from the Tower of Esen?”

Zakhira nodded. She wondered who this people were, realizing that she came from Esen without so much as a hesitation on their faces. “Answer my question?”

“No need to be rude Zakhira.”

Zakhira flashed Shiv a look of contempt. “Hmph!”

The young man stood up and bowed. “No disrespect.” He said and then approached the pair. “One of our friends screamed and we came over here to look for him.”

“But he disappeared.” Said an older man. He sported a shaved head like his friend but he had a solemn look on his face, like someone who was at peace with himself and everything around him.

“The trapper.” Shiv mumbled.

“Yes, our friend was taken.” The young man said. He turned to Zakhira. “What brings you here my lady?”

Zakhira smiled at the politeness of the young man. “One of our friends were taken by the trapper as well. We are searching for it before it reaches its hive.”

“I see.” The old man played with his graying beard. “Perhaps you can help us?”

“Help you?” Zakhira asked furrowing her brow.

“You see, we have chosen not to fight, no acts of violence since the war.”

“If you can’t fight, what use are you to us?”

The old man chuckled. “You don’t expect to fight of a hive of trappers with just the two of you? One human soldier and one half-blood.” He paused and then continued. “A half-blood that can change to any beast is no use to a hive of trappers my lady.”

Shiv leaned close to Zakhira and whispered. She didn’t hear anything, all the voices around her drowned out as she sat there shocked at what the old man said. “How do you know all of this?”

The old man smiled. “Why don’t you follow us my lady. We may be of more use than you think.”

“We have to go Zakhira, we are wasting time here.”

Zakhira raised her hand. “We have to follow them Shiv.”

“Why?”

She looked at Shiv and pierced him with a penetrating stare. “They know something we don’t”