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The Song of Wars

One year before the Great Sundering and one thousand years before Jimmy Chartron… 

  “Tyla, keep going. Hurry!” Alma shouted as she dashed across a thread of earth that glowed molten red. She whipped the red hair away from her eyes and turned to look at her friend leap onto the branch of the Mocah tree. 

  “Follow me, I know a shortcut,” Tyla said as the sturdy branch swayed under her weight. 

  “Never mind that. You run faster than I can.” Alma closed her eyes and slammed her hands into the warm earth that was emanating steam. The element that hung from her necklace glowed an icy blue. "Get to Skyrun and tell them to evacuate." The air chilled and Alma’s short breaths exhaled into vaporous mists. “I’ll slow the lava down.” 

  “The moment the united armies mobilize, I’ll come back with Farhad to help you. I—”

  A blast of flame struck the tree that Tyla was perched on, sending her plummeting toward the ground. A thump echoed as her body struck the dirt.

  “What in the Seven Kingdoms…” Tyla said as she struggled to push herself up.

  “Damn dragon.” Alma opened her eyes. Her senses recognized the all-too familiar smell of putrid flesh off a dragon fresh from a raid. “Tyla, are you alright?”

  Her friend scrambled upward and away from the flames that engulfed the dead tree. “Fates help us,” Tyla said. “I'm fine, but we'll never reach Skyrun in time with that beast on our hides.”

  Alma rushed to her side. “Then let’s take care of it. And fast.”

  Lava spurted from the ground nearby.

  “If we can find the lava source—”

  Alma stretched her hand out and a spear of ice materialized from the air in front of her. “It’s too late. If the Keepers haven’t been able to contain this, then it’s already spread too far.” The spear launched forward and grazed the winged beast’s abdomen.

  A vicious shriek echoed across the valley and a thunderous storm of wind crashed against nature in one violent cry.


  Tyla fastened her black hair into a tight bun. She raised her right hand and the oreille stone fastened on her bracelet began to pulse. “Close your ears, sister. We will make this a quick battle."

  Alma commanded another ice spear toward the dragon. She smirked as Tyla inhaled and exhaled rapidly.

  "I know you love your breathing exercises, but..."

  "Oh, shutup. I'm the one who's going to bring that beast down in a minute."

  Alma grinned and covered her ears. "I bet it will take two minutes."

  "Loser buys the other ten rounds of dragon ale."

  Alma cocked her head. "What's that? I can't hear. My ears are covered, see?"

  The dragon circled back for another attack. Purplish poison dripped off the tips of its scaly wings like devil's wine from a leaking barrel. Seductive but deadly. On the off chance that they weren’t incinerated, Alma noted, they would have to keep a distance to avoid being struck by the dragon’s wings.

  Alma gripped her ears tighter as Tyla opened her mouth and leaned forward. The hair on her arms prickled as she prepared to witness a spectacle unfold in front of her.

  The beast’s neck glowed red. Flames of orange and yellow collected in its mouth as a blast of hot air rushed against Alma and Tyla.

  Tyla stepped forward, unfazed. Her eyes, resolute with one singular purpose. She opened her mouth and screamed.

  Alma smirked. The battle was as good as won.

  The air vibrated, the ground shook and Alma felt the shrill scream pierce her eardrums despite her hands shielding them. Thank the fates she’s not directing that at me. 

  The dragon’s eyes widened as it realized what was going on, but it was too late. A howl of pain crashed into Tyla's scream creating a maelstrom of chaos against harmony, dark versus light. A tornado of music and beastly cries.

  The dragon clawed at the air with its forearms before covering his face, which did little to prevent Tyla from damaging its nerves.

  The ears of a dragon can hear even the littlest of sounds from a mile away. Though often considered a dragon’s strength; today, it was a grave weakness.

  Alma watched as the dragon crashed into the ground, sending dirt and lava flying across a hundred-yard radius. “My turn!” she shouted.

  Tyla broke her attack.

  Alma lifted her hands and formed a shield of ice against the raining debris. The dragon shook its head and staggered onto its hind legs.

  “Sister,” Tyla said. “You must move, now.”

  Alma dropped the shield letting the remnant soot and soil pelt against her maroon robes. Her fingers twirled the air around and bracelets of ice locked the dragon into the ground. She pushed her palms forward and crystals of ice covered the dragon in thick, hardened layers till nothing but its muzzle and eyes were exposed.

  Tyla looked at something inside her pocket. "Fifty-five seconds. You lost."

  "Doesn't count. I helped you take it down."

  "Admit you lost and you need only buy five ales instead of ten."

  “You cannot hold me forever,” the dragon said. Steam rose from the ice that encircled the dragon’s neck.

  Alma glared. A shard of ice pierced the dragon’s throat. “There. You can talk, with what little time you have left.”

  “Curse you, Fae. Curse you and your kind.” The hoarse threat sent a shiver down Alma’s spine.

  “I have seen the future. The land will be sundered into pieces. The age of unity is at an end.”

  “Tyla, you get to Skyrun. I’ll keep the beast in place and try and hold the lava back.”

  An explosion ripped the ground a few feet away and lava spewed into the air.

  Tyla nodded. She gripped Alma on the shoulder. “Stay alive. I’ll be back with Farhad soon.”

  Alma nodded. "Fates be with you, dear sister."

  The dragon flashed its gold teeth, stained with its own blood. It choked a hoarse laugh.

  “What’s so funny?” Alma said. She relaxed her hands. The dragon would be dying soon and she needed her rest.

  “The future… if you have seen it, perhaps you would not be fighting against me.”

  “What is your name?” Alma asked.

  “What does it matter? I am nothing but a beast to you.”

  Anger seethed inside of Alma. “You betray your kind, you who were once a Guardian.”

  “Guardian! A title granted to us by feeble creatures and one that we had no say in. We are destroyers by right, not meant to be confined to the skies as winged protectors of lesser beings.”

  “This was a noble title bestowed upon your ancestors a millennia ago! Each of your kind holds a place of honor in every household across the One Land.”

  “A meager offering of what is truly ours by right.”

  “Again! What is your name?” Alma stared into the dragon’s eyes. Its life essence was escaping with every breath that struggled out.


  “Andorak. A Fae title meaning ‘Shadow of the Sky’.”

  "An apt name considering what I've accomplished. No?"

  Alma grit her teeth. "An insult to our friendship."

  Andorak exhaled a puff of smoke. His yellow eyes were dimming. “And what of yours, ice witch? What is your name that I may know who felled me before my spirit leaves this world?” He forced a smile.

  Alma cocked her head with a hint of curiosity. “You…” At that moment, her mind had grasped onto a tiny bit of thread and yanked on it.

  “Yes,” Andorak said.

  “You already know my name.”

  “Yes. Yes, I do. Alma Fiardin.”

  “What do you want with me?”

  Andorak’s eyes pierced into her own gaze. No words were exchanged, but in an instant, Alma’s face transformed into shock and  horror. The thread her mind had latched onto was part of a bigger mystery that was unraveling at breakneck speed.

  “Not me. Tyla.”

  “Yes.” Andorak blinked his yellow eyes. “Tyla Tembury. The Keeper of Knowledge.”

  Alma’s eyes flashed with anger. She twisted her fist into the air and the ice constricted the dragon’s throat even further. “Why? What do you want from her?”

  Andorak smiled and turned his gaze toward the ashen skies. “A beauty… isn’t it?” He wheezed and blood gushed from his nostrils.

  “Why Tyla? Tell me!” Alma shouted.

  Andorak exhaled and blood gushed from his mouth. His end was near. “The Song of Wars.”

  “What does a wizard’s song have to do with any of this?”

  “Not a song. A prophecy that the wizard wrote when the night sky cracked open and revealed the future of the stars to him.”

  Alma steeled her gaze. “A folktale. Nothing more.”

  “No. Verses have rung true through the years. A keeper shall rise…” Andorak sighed and his eyes turned to stone grey.

  He was dead.


  “Damn it!” Alma whirled around into a mad dash toward Skyrun. “Fates help me,” she whispered.

  Blasts of lava erupted in her path forcing her to go around. Despite her very best efforts to focus, Alma couldn’t shake away the so-called prophecy that Andorak had referred to. Every child knew it as a bedtime story growing up and she was no exception to the tradition.

   As Alma dodged the elements that stood between her and the path, the verses of the song seeped in from memory.

  A keeper shall rise from the lands in the West. Alma stepped onto a boulder and lunged toward the sky.

  As the darkness parades in the East. She landed just shy a few inches from a pool of lava that was spreading out like a monstrous parasite.

  “Tyla!” she screamed into the air, hoping her friend would hear her. 

  For the sorcerer’s favor, at the Queen’s firm behest…

  Alma reached the edge of the cliff. The city of Skyrun lay in the valley below. Flames engulfed the city walls. Alma lashed her arms out and commanded a bridge of ice toward the valley floor.

  The keeper shall sunder the beast. 

  Alma glided onto the valley floor. It was too quiet save for the shouts and screams coming from behind the city walls. “Fates, let me be on time.” Within her deepest instincts, an all-too familiar feeling of hopeless dread creeped into her senses. Her eyes were frantic, scanning each and every tree, flower and blade of grass for a sign that her friend had traversed down this same road.

  Despair clawed at her mind with terrifying outcomes that she did her best to stifle.

  The area in front of the city walls seemed empty. Perhaps Tyla had made it into Skyrun after all.

  Perhaps she made it in after...

  Red blades of grass bent at the tips swayed in the wind just in front of the West wall.


  As Alma edged closer, tears streamed down her eyes. A body dressed in maroon robes like hers lay sprawled amongst the dirt and insects. “Fates… this can’t be.” She wiped each tear with the folds of her robe, but another simply flowed down in its place. 

  "Tyla..." Her friend's crystal blue eyes lay wide open; a look of final horror plastered on her pale face. “No!” Grief overwhelmed her and Alma wailed into the sky. Ice rained down and thunder and lighting rolled in the heavens. 

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