"I want to go to the Vigil!" Finn tugged the chair leg until his
grandmother ruffled his hair.
"It's not for young ones, dear. You know this."
Beside them, Helga laid on the floor, legs kicking in the air. "Father
says we can go on our tenth winter." She sneered at her brother,
"You're only six!"
The grandmother's chuckle filled the room, as soft as the firelight.
"Something you'll learn, my dears, is that when you get older you
need to remember the people who lived before you."
"Why?" Finn settled by the chair and began chewing on his sleeve.
"Because we wouldn't be here if not for them."
"Then why aren't you at the Vigil, Grandma?" Helga was ever the sharper-minded of the two children. Her
question brought a flicker of sadness, like the shadows, across the old woman's face.
"Even once a year is too much for some memories, my love."
"Who were they? The people they hold the Vigil for?"
"Well... back then we called them the FateGuard. The held the safety of the city in their hands. There wasn't a
day gone by we didn't pray from them, and not a night gone by they didn't fight for us." She nodded to the far
wall, where fire-light played across the stone, before lifting her old hands. With a swiftness that defied the
wrinkled grey, her fingers and palms came together in shapes.
A shadow was formed on the wall - a puppet silhouette of a man in armour. "There was Corben, of course. He
was their leader. No one worked harder to keep the city safe." Her hands shifted to make a shadow of a thinner
man with flowing hair, whose body seemed to ripple. "And his friend, Aloysius, who they said could turn
invisible and see all there was to see."
Helga gasped and snuggled closer to her grandmother's chair, propping her chin as she watched the shadows.
The fire seemed to aid the old woman's fingers and form the shapes her hands could not. The next silhouette was
a robed youth who danced with bottles. "And Atlas the Alchemist, who all the young girls loved." The next shape
was a girl wielding chains and a shield. "Except Erilyn, of course. She was the youngest of the FateGuard."
"As young as me?" asked Helga.
The grandmother chuckled, "Almost, dear. And some said she was in line for the throne." Her hands made
another armoured shadow - this one with large fists. "Then there was Alexander the Gentleman, most chivalrous
of all the Fateguard. He and his entire line were fated to die inside the walls of Gothenheim." Next, the shadow
of another girl wielding a bow. "And the archer, Alyss. They said Alyss would never get cold - that she had ice in
her blood and was born outside the city walls."
Next her fingers danced, forming a flutter of shadows through which a half-seen figure moved. "Then Eric, the
shadow-walker. He taught the FateGuard all they knew and trained them to be strong and brave." The shadows
climbed atop each other to form a massive outline. "And Arkavenn the Giant, who knew no pain."
She curled her fingers, shrinking the outline and covering it in strips of darkness. "And of course, Leonardo, the
bandaged knight. He was scarred by demons but lived, and ever since they said that angels watched over him."
Another shadow, of a man armoured like Corben. "Then Derek, the law keeper. He kept the town safe during
the day, and no one dared cross him." The shadows receded, growing paler somehow as a man with a long
spear moved among them. "And at night Ferrick the light-bearer kept every street lamp lit."
Darkness closed in again, forming three shapes - a man, a woman and a hollow puppet. "And then there were
the dreaded ones - the ones the people feared as much as respected. Malwin the poisoner, Melody the Inquisitor,
and Tahan the golem."
The children laughed, wide-eyed as they watched the puppet show, then turned to hug the chair legs. "What
happened to them?!"
The old woman pulled a book from between the cushions and set it on her lap. "Alright. Just one story before
The thump shook the city, toppling fences and loosing roof slates. They rained around Corben as he ran. The east wall was on fire and made the sky an orange curtain to light his way. In chorus with his footfalls were shouts of townsfolk, cut now and then by great whooshes of air. He pushed through a line of people passing water buckets between the streets. His armour clattered.
"That way!" yelled voices, as fingers pointed down the street. He dashed between the milesstones of burning buildings and injured parties, clambering over an upturned wagon where the reins were slick with blood. His boots crunched on glass and splinters as he detoured through a house that had been gouged right through. His sword was drawn as he skidded into the market square.
The dragon had landed, its head tipped back as it swallowed another horse. The flagstones cracked beneath its feet, and fire played over black scales slick with blood and saliva. Corben could not see its mate, and from the sounds of wing-strokes it was still up there somewhere, above the clouds. A small mercy perhaps. The pair would be more deadly if they fought together.
He drew his father's blade and charged, crossing the market square towards the beast. All being well, his allies were closing from other alleys and rooftops. This was their chance, now the dragon was grounded.
Alyss moved from rooftop to rooftop, moving quickly as she clutched her Owl's Wing in one hand and an arrow in the other. Her quiver of arrows were strapped tightly to her back, and made no noise as she ran; she looked up at the sky, wary of the dragon's mate, though, she was slightly more focused on the dragon who was on the ground among them. Finally, she was where she wanted to be, in a perfect place for a creature of this size. Her arrows wouldn't do much harm to it if she merely fired off at will, so she studied the beast and looked for weaknesses. She drew her bow back with her arrow and focused on the creature's eyes, its nostrils, its face and throat. She searched for soft spots, knowing that it certainly wasn't the monster's wings, which seemed almost tattered, covered in small leathery perforations. A few well-placed arrows would help distract it from Corben and the others who would be attacking it from closer distances. From this distance, she could see the shine of its scales and the bright flecks of light in its small eyes- those would make a good target.
She inhaled and and lined up the point of her arrow slowly, centering it directly on the creature's left eye, feeling the tautness of the string of her bow- then let the arrow fly as she exhaled. At the last moment, the creature moved its head, and the arrow glanced off if its hard scales. Alyss calmly let out a deep breath and retrieved another arrow from her quiver, then lined up again, this time, taking into account that it was rather quick for its size. Another arrow flew off- this time lodging in the corner of one of its eyes. She moved quickly, trying to get a better view while it thrashed- searching for more weak points. The longer this creature was within their walls, the more it would destroy and kill- it needed to be driven off or destroyed quickly, and hopefully before its mate joined them. She let another arrow fly, this one glanced off and skidded, possibly grazing one of its nostrils. She couldn't be certain. She kept moving, then settled down again, drawing again from her quiver. Her bow stretched and then she released it. This arrow went off mark- lodging in one of its wings, striking the flagstone as it sliced through the leathery skin. Alyss preferred creatures with softer hides, though, she kept her frustration under control and drew another arrow. This one struck the other eye, though it seemed as though her arrows weren't doing much actual harm- merely distractions so it would be more focused on her than her comrades.
She felt her quiver and realized that she didn't have many arrows left- noting that she would have to have more crafted soon.
Alyss smelled the smoke in the air and could feel the heat from the flames of the wall, she smelled the carnage of the horses and the breath of the beast- And at last, she drew another arrow, focusing on the beast's nostrils. The arrow flew quickly and lodged within.
Alyss drew one more arrow and waited and watched her comrades, waiting for a good time to aim and fire again.
Aloysius's cold eyes gazed at the peace, his figure almost completely still as he sat crouched on the fence. Even the rampaging of the dragon, the cries and hoards of people running did nothing to ruin his concentration. He studied every detail of the beast rampaging. The dragon was built with a thick hide and anger to mask any pain. These were the large details, however, and it was the small ones that usually seemed to count in the end. On the other side, a fellow FateGuard, Alyss, was also searching for a weakness. She concluded it was in the beast's eye and shot at it. Aloysius's gaze only briefly flickered towards her target.
Not bad...But it will only blind the beast. Sight is only one sense.
Aloysius quickly brandished his sword. This creature, to an untrained eye, seemed to be perfectly built. But Aloysius did not posses an untrained eye. No, far from it. Quickly he ran across the fence towards Alyss, dodging pieces of debris as they flew past him like harmful shooting stars. One barely just grazed past his cheek, almost leaving a small mark to show where it had passed. After a few seconds of skillful dodging, he landed next to Alyss. The beast's weak point was one that could easily be touched by her arrows. A sword would be more difficult to try and use. Aloysius pointed straight at the beast's gaping maw.
"There." He told her. "Inside its mouth, the flesh is sensitive. Aim for its open throat. I'll go with Corben to distract it. It will most likely take about seven arrows, if aimed carefully. Ten to thirteen if not." He nodded towards her, eyes glinting like his blade in the fiery inferno burning the town. "Be safe."
Aloysius jumped down, landing with a thud of his boots. He ran and pushed himself past the crowds of citizens running in the opposite direction. His eyes caught Corben, running across the square with his sword raised. Aloysius's grip on his own weapon tightened as he trailed behind him. "Corben!" He yelled. "Distract the beast for Alyss!" The beast loomed its head over Aloysius, as if it was studying him just as he had studied the creature. Aloysius took the time to smile at his enemy.
Do not worry, great dragon. You will have the honor of perishing at the hands of the FateGuards. A true honor indeed.
Aloysius gets ready to fight. He spots the dragon's weak point, which if their throat, and informs Alyss (and possibly others) of this. He then instructs Corben to distract the dragon for Alyss.
When the attack happened, Arkavenn had been at the toilet.
It had been a long, long day of construction work and he was enjoying a few drinks with his colleagues at the tavern - on his custom-made steel-reinforced stool, of course. But then, when it came to a man as big as Arkavenn - those few drinks equated to enough to put a grown man on his back after the frown man takes off all his clothes, climbs on top of a church and shakes hi- never mind. To Arkavenn, those drinks were barely enough to get him the bit tipsy. Though, Arkavenn's bladder worked just like anyone else's. He needed to pee too.
Arkavenn let out an almost erotic moan of pleasure and relief when he heard the sound of his urine splatter against the soil. In the rather chilly weather, a fine mist of steam rose up from stream of clear liquid that pooled in a small hole on the ground. Arkavenn was whistling as his urine streamed out in an arc of transparency and he nearly lost his footing when the alarm bell sounded. "God dammit." Arkavenn muttered darkly under his breath - he hated it when his pee sessions were disrupted and his tank was definitely not running on empty soon. About a minute later, Arkacenn was all zipped up and he was rushing to get dressed in his armour.
With his chest plate dangling off it's shoulder strap, the helmet half put on and the hammer swinging loosely from its perch on the strap behind his back Arkavenn ran out in the general direction of where he had seem the ball of fire erupt from.
He just ran in the opposite direction of wheee all the little people/citizens of Gothenehim were running.
Arkavenn had only gotten his chest plate - a piece of metal that was about three quarters of an inch thick on when he stopped running.
He has forgotten his shield.
"Oh for the love of God."
It took him about another five minutes before he retrieved his shield, which was jokingly compared to the door to the bank vault of the city, being a block of metal almost as tall as Arkavenn and just a little wider. Arkavenn looked at the dragon and watched as arrows pinged off it's scales, only one or two actually hurting the dragon and he knew that Alyss was around. Beneath the shadow of the dragon Arkavenn could see Corben standing there - then Aloysius calling for Corben to help Alyss distract the beast. Fighting a huge ass dragon? Definitely Arkavenn's job.
"That's my job, you blinking idiot!" Arkavenn shouted at Aloysius as he drew the mace from his back and charged, his shield held before him. The giant let out a loud roar of challenge to the dragon, who immediately turned to look at him before resting his head back and gracing Arkavenn with his own roar and an added bonus; a stream of white hot flames. Putting a foot forward, Arkavenn knelt down and put the brim of his shield against the ground and braced his shoulder against it. Barely a second later the giant was engulfed in a swath of great fire that was split apart by the man in the big shield, the deadly liquid of fiery death splashing harmlessly to his sides. Arkavenn could feel the heat through his armour and he swore his eyebrows were getting roasted off - but yes, he was relatively unharmed.
By nightfall Alexander had shut down shop. He knew what the night brought. Perrin, his squire of sorts, helped him don his intricate armor. The boy worked in the bakery during the day and greatly admired the FateGuard for what they did.
The night tasted of the alkali flavor of blood by the time he had left, fully armored and ready to fight.
Charging through burning wreckage, he lamented that he hadn't the time to help people trapped or hurt. That wasn't his job tonight. Tonight his job was killing. Debris blocked his avenue, and on this particular block of the city there was no alleyway to pass through. His hefty six foot broadsword brought to bear, he slammed it down into some nearby rubble, fracturing it so that he could pass through. Cutting a path took more than a few swings, and overhead he noticed the dragon landing. Damn it.
Finally breaking through the barrier, he rushed through, brushing his armor on the shards of wood and tearing his fine cloak. It wasn't but three or four times a week he needed that damn thing tailored. Perhaps if he didn't wear it by habit...
That alkali flavor was stronger here, pervading his sense to make his mouth feel swollen. There were three others he saw ahead of him, their leader Corben, Aloysius, and Arkavenn. There were far too many people who's names started with an 'a' but that was trivial.
"That's my job, you blinking idiot!" Arkavenn shouted into the din. Corben was already sword deep into the dragon, and from the arrows in the beast one of the two archers was around. Sayra, or Alyss?
Alexander brought his sword to bear, waiting to exploit an opening. It had been some time, he figured, since he'd fought a dragon. Keeping his sword up, he decided to wait for a pattern between his companions. Running in empty headed was foolish, and though he knew his destiny, he didn't see anything wrong in prolonging it.
Among the cries where the wounded of Gothenheim were kept, it was sometimes hard to hear the call to battle. But tonight was not one of those times. Not when the entire city shakes underneath one's feet and the roar of a mighty dragon fills the air. Accompanied with no less than a chorus of terrified screams from villagers seeking shelter. People that charge into the place where these crying victims try to recover in peace are ignorant with fear to the chaos they cause in their panic. Yet no grudge is truly held against them. After all some of them are brand new victims who sport fresh wounds that still gush with blood or throb in pain. Those who are staff present in the building most recognize as a hospital tend to them without hesitation and try to calm everyone with very little incident.
Ears of an eight year old boy hear all of this when just moments ago a comforting voice of conviction read a prayer from the bible just for him. Just to ease the young mind of fears that he might never grow up just as strong as his father. It is a prayer that many, including the one who reads it and a child that listens intently, know by heart. Now the young heart races as eight year old auburn eyes open up to see a bandaged hand set the bible down beside his pillow. Only seconds later a massive weapon not unlike an ornate crucifix is raised and balanced upon the man's shoulder. A glance up at the face covered in bandages reveals very little facial expression with so much hidden underneath. He cannot tell what this man is thinking or feeling without a look into eyes of the purest blue where courage and conviction flourished.
Both of them know he cannot stay to finish the prayer.
A silent nod between them must do for now, the last moment they share just before the man robed and wrapped in white makes his way through the sea of people, parting them as he goes. Lamentation subtly subdues with each person this man helps on the way out of the hospital. Each one costs him precious time from the present while it saves time for them in the future. A few, though thankful for the aid, recoil ever so slightly from this warrior who even time cannot heal. Now the child just lays there staring at that door and puts on a confident smile devoid of the fear from before. For a reason that is made clear just a few moments later when he speaks from the heart.
Now Leonardo makes his way through the destruction and debris, not a single speck clinging to him or the robes he wears. Each hand holds onto the combat crucifix tightened by his heightened anticipation to fight alongside his brothers and sisters in arms once again. The dire situation is so obvious that the rest of the FateGuard cannot help but arrive before him. Once upon the battlefield that has been made of their precious Gothenheim, the paladin shouts only one question to the rest while keeping an eye out for any flames coming in his direction:
"Is there just ONE? Or do we have another lurking somewhere?"
No harm in getting all the details when one arrived a little late.
Eric quietly sat down upon the tile roof. Below him was the market square, the dragon, and the battle. Toward the east wall he saw the female dragon harass the archers, he was inwardly thankful it was not here to help its mate. Through the flames and the smoke Eric turned his attention to the fight below, a bemused grin on his face. This was a fight he was keen on watching, rather than taking part in.
His skill with a bow was poor at best, archery left to better FateGuard members such as Alyss. Unlike Arkavenn, Eric was clad in light leather armor, not known for its fireproof abilities. While a skilled swordsman in his own right, he was no grandmaster like Alexander or Corben. Light on his feet from his time as a scout and spy, Eric was not as maneuverable as the lead scout, Aloysius. His own abilities with magic would be useless. Dragon hide was long known to be impervious to the best of spells.
So he had done the only thing he could do. He climbed from the alleyway onto the rooftop of the house to gain a better view of the fight. Eric’s sword remained silent in its sheath.
Besides, it looked like they had it under control. If it proved to be troubling then he’d drop down to help. As it was, the dragon was already halfway blind. All they had to do was ensure it did not get airborne again. Eric watched as a jet of flame came streaming out of its mouth, scattering the fighters. Another deafening roar came forth from the dragon, throwing Alyss’ arrow off its mark and rattled the tiles on the roof he was sitting. The hair on the back of Eric's neck tingled, something was wrong.
"Is there just ONE? Or do we have another lurking somewhere?"
Eric looked around; the mate had disappeared from the east wall. He had completely forgotten about her, and with the wounded cry of her mate she would be in a rage. It was a faint roar of wind from behind him that caused him to abandon his perch on the rooftop. With a sudden motion he slid down the tile roof toward the marketplace below. A split second later the female dragon smashed through the apex of the roof with its claws, showering Eric with wood and tile debris as he tumbled onto the ground below.
With a curse he got onto his knees, his sword hilt having jabbed him painfully in the side. Ignoring the pain he quickly looked up, scanning the sky above the marketplace. But the dragon had already disappeared into the low clouds above, coming around for another pass. Pulling himself upright Eric found he was next to Leonardo, with a tiny painful smirk on his face he spoke.
"No sir, there are two. Might I add she is a bit upset about the way we are treating her mate?"
The night seemed to be lit on fire, fed by the cries of the wounded who were desperately attempting to flee from the dragons. The heat from the flames could be felt all through the town, raising the temperature perceptibly in the areas closest to the dragons. As soon as the attack had begun, Erilyn had begun donning her armor and grabbing her weapon. Every challenge that she faced was a new one and this was no different, yet it seemed like something from a dream as she stepped from her house and felt the heat rising from the stones.
Erilyn could see the first dragon, the one that Corben was after, not too far ahead of her. Before she could make it to that dragon, however, she heard a deafening roar coming from just above her head. In front of her, Eric leapt to the ground. Just after his sudden appearance, the building next to her seemed to explode. Erilyn hardly had time to crouch and raise her shield in front of her to protect from the debris before another dragon crashed through the building, a ferocious beast with a vendetta against the creatures attacking her mate.
Straightening and retreating a few steps backward, Erilyn scanned the dusty cloud, trying to locate the head of the beast. Inexperienced with how to combat the scaled fury before her. Her immediate assessment of the creature lent itself to no easily accessible weak spots for Erilyn to exploit. They would likely need an archer to attack any part of the dragon not covered in thick scales. The best wager would be to aim for the eyes, which were small, or the maw when opened. Being much taller than her, she would find it almost impossible to strike there with her sword. Last she checked, Eric was no archer. Unfortunately, Erilyn wasn't sure where either Alyss or Sayra were and she had no skill with magic spells or bows.
"Eric, are the archers around? I don't know how effective we're going to be at fighting these without some way of attacking their heads..." That said, Erilyn wasn't excited about allowing the dragon to continue on its rampage so that it might harm more of the innocent townspeople. Sliding her sword from its hilt, Erilyn approached cautiously, her shield raised. She would at least keep the beast occupied until the archers could come to attack, hopefully. She could think of no other course of action and it was better that the dragon attack her, who was armored, than any of the defenseless citizens.
Aloysius spotted the other FateGuards coming into battle. Good. He heard the familiar sound of Arkacenn yelling at him. He couldn't help but chuckle as he continued running towards the dragon.
"Well, Arkacenn. Glad to see you too, my friend. The fight is on, hm?"
Not waiting for an answer, he strode closer to the dragons foot. It rested on the ground on top of what was once a structure in the village. Aloysius knew that it wouldn't stay still for long. He banged it with the side of his sword. The dragon roared in response and Aloysius took cover behind the remains of a building while it lifted its foot and brought it back down with a thundering crash on the ground, creating a small crater. Aloysius rubbed his chin. The scales on the creature were quite thick. When hit on the body with a weapon, it would definitely register pain...but it wasn't enough to kill. It could wear it out. Perfect for a distraction for Alyss.
Emerging from his hiding place, he saw the second dragon crash down on a building with a furious roar. The mate, no doubt about it. Aloysius stretched his shoulders, preparing himself both physically and mentally for the battle. He ran over to the second dragon, feeling that Corben and Arkacenn would take care of the first one. The dragon saw him coming and turned to lunge at him. Aloysius sprinted between its front legs and quickly sliced its ankle. A small red line began to form on the skin and small drops of blood began to trickle out. Raging, the dragon beat its wings, causing a flurry of winds to tumble around the area. The dragon suddenly jumped up and flew high up into the sky, once again concealed by the clouds.
Oh, it's just a paper cut. Aloysius grinned at the stain of red on his sword.
Aloysius spotted Eric and Leonardo, showered with the splinters from the building. Maybe a little dazed, but otherwise okay.
"Hello, my friends. Quite a day, isn't it?" He smiled at them though his hand's grip on his sword's handle was still tense.
Even in battle, his humor didn't die out.
Aloysius joins his friends on the fight against the dragon's mate while leaving Corben and Arkacenn to the other. He causes a "paper-cut" on the dragoness's leg before she takes up to the skies.
Atlas' hands frantically dove into his alchemy cabinet, overturning vials and potions as he sought for the correct weapon against the dragon. Of course he knew it was a dragon, the whole entire city screamed it. The man was in the middle of mixing a new concoction when all of a sudden his cauldron cracked and left a burning mess on his floor. He would have to deal with the giant gaping hole on his second story floor later.
"Dragon... dragon," he uttered under his breath, blue eyes narrowed in concentration. The tip of his tongue hung from the corner of his mouth. "Thick skin, course fire won't work on them. I would use water but you'd just turn it into steam. Your skin is really the problem and that's on the outside..."
There was more clattering and hustling, several potions dropping onto the floor carelessly. Atlas merely sidestepped out of the way.
He paused in thought, resting a long index finger on his chin. "But the inside of you is soft isn't it? Guess we're having bits and pieces of you tonight."
Smiling triumphantly, the man sprinted out of his home towards his comrades and the dragons. Strapped to his hip was a small bag of glass containers, jingling faintly through the din of chaos. Through the ashes of the city, and the groups of people fleeing the scene, Atlas made out the outlines of his fellow Fateguards.
"Erilyn! Eric! Make it open its mouth!"
Atlas tore into his bag, brandishing a glass grenade. The explosive was sealed off with a long cork and a thin rope meant for ignition. He lifted the grenade over his shoulder, waiting for his cue.
Alyss was skirting the rooftops on the west side, pricking the dragon with her volleys and keeping it off-focus. On the east side Aloysius had driven off the dragon's mate, whilst Leonardo, Erilyn and Eric sheltered by a half-mauld house. Atlas had just reached them, his alchemical grenade at the ready.
They would not have long.
Corben had engaged the dragon whilst Arkavenn drew its fire, and Alexander was a little behind him and primed for an opening. The beast was circling on the spot now, trying to spew liquid death at Alyss but flinching each time she fired. Beneath its shifting feet Corben leant further distraction, his blade glancing off the underscales with sparks of fire. He ducked past its belly and jumped a little late, his boots catching on the dragon's tail. He tripped, tumbled, and thudded into Arkavenn's leg.
The giant helped him up with one hand.
"We drive it at Atlas and the others," he yelled in Arkavenn's ear. "With many foes, it will count on its fire. Then its throat will be exposed!" He slammed his fist against the giant's shield. "Get you in his sights, and run for Atlas. I will be your eyes."
He clapped the berserker forward, then motioned at Alexander with his sword, pointing him to the dragon's left side. They had battled creatures like this before, and knew each other's minds when it came to coralling. Arkavenn would be the bait, and Alexander and Corben would be at the dragon's flanks to keep it on track or take over the baiting should the giant fall.
In matters of the night watch, there were always expendables. Each man and woman held their life as forfeit for the greater good of the city. When they battled it was something bigger than themselves, and from this they found their courage.
"Alyss! Fargel Street!" he yelled, waving with his sword at the shadow on the rooftops. Hopefully she would know where to lure the beast with her nagging shots.
Hopefully Arkavenn would hear Corben's shout when it was time to drop and roll.
And hopefully Eric and the rest of them would be ready to get out of the way if Atlas missed his mark.
The dragons had flown into the city over the east wall, and Ferrick had been on the western walls when they did. He tried to avoid the panic on the streets by staying on the wall as long as he could, but he could only take that roundabout route for so long, and had to begin pushing his way through the streets, having to keep the tip of his spear held high and away from the masses.
Finally he was close enough to the fight to burst out of the crowds, running at full speed towards the sounds of chaos and roars. He cut through the back streets and alleys, some of the ones so small it seemed no person could fit through them, but he did, finding the most direct route that he could.
His eyes were drawkn skywards as he ran, to the dragon that he couldn't see, but was likely still around. As he reached a small open space, Ferrick paused for a moment, peering upwards for any hint of motion in that black sky. But there were more immediate concerns on the ground, and so he started to run again.
He leapt, turned, slid through a narrow space between buildings, and nearly ran into Corben, landing and stopping just short of knocking the man to the ground from behind. "Where do I need to be?" He asked Corben, before giving the sky another glance. "Or where do I have to be to deal with that one?"
Corben was already in motion when Ferrick near-collided with him. Ahead of them the tail of the dragon slashed wildly as it gave chase to Arkavenn, following him towards Fargel Street where the others waited.
"Ready your spear!" Corben shouted over his shoulder as Ferrick matched his pace. "Pierce its wings should it make for flight!"
The halberdier had arrived just in time. Only Ferrick's spear had the enchantment necessary to pierce dragonhide. He could stop the creature getting airborne again if it grew tired of chasing Arkavenn.
Eying the dragon wearily, clutching his sword in his hands. He watched the captain strike the underbelly, catching sparks across it's scales. So even that won't be a viable option.
Captain Corben fell, and was picked up single-handedly by Arkavenn. They were mostly all here, and it seemed there was a plan in action. For one of the beasts. He took his cue, heading to the left flank of the male. It beat it's wings furiously, attempting to knock it's attackers down, luckily there was a space just near it's body where a half extended wing wouldn't touch. Alexander kept himself there, striking as the dragon shouldered itself his way.
Another wing-beat, and he quickly crouched, avoiding potential contact with his helmeted head. Good lord did he hate that ringing sound. This helmet was really like a head-sized bell.
Every member of the FateGuard had their attention focused on the male dragon which had been grounded. Of course strategically it was obvious to focus on the enemy they could actually attack rather than the one out of reach. But the fact hardly anyone had kept an eye on it's mate was a little bit of a letdown. It made a direct implication toward the level of vigilance each of them had in the face of battle.
How hard could it honestly be to spot a giant flying lizard in the night sky?
Leonardo's white robes flared with movement when the sounds of destruction erupted from above. Suddenly debris rained down upon Saint who reacted quickly and raised up the Combat Crucifix above his bandaged head. Deflecting away splinters of wood and shattered tiles, in the end not a single speck of debris clung to him. Eyes with color resembling that of a blue nature quickly caught sight of none other than Eric tumbling down beside him. Not much deduction was neccesary to discern who the female had aimed for just a few moments ago.
"No sir, there are two. Might I add she is a bit upset about the way we are treating her mate?"
"Noted, Eric. Thank you."
Aloysius had his own way of looking at things as well.
"Hello, my friends. Quite a day, isn't it?"
"Certainly one hell of a night, Aloysius."
Words left his mouth with no bitterness at all. Rather more of an amusement at how his compatriots dealt with near-death experiences. Even now the bandages robbed him of a clearly discernible facial expression, leaving most of that emotive burden for his eyes to bear. Flames left behind by the male dragon's breath left a fiery shimmer in those icy blue eyes that only made his silent conviction appear all the fiercer.
Orders on how to beat the male dragon reached his ears, but none of them were directed at him. Which left him with the option of either watching the battle at hand from a distance or getting involved with it and potentially running right into his compatriots. Just as Ferrick almost had with Corben a few seconds ago. Saint quickly decided both options were not becoming of one belonging to the FateGuard.
Just a moment or two went by before Leonardo started to scan the sky more closely for the female's impending return. She would not get a second chance to sneak up on the others ever again. Certainly not with him on watch. Needless to say, his left hand had a firm hold on the Combat Crucifix that showed proof of his readiness for battle against these monstrous fire-breathers.
The one who had angels watching over him, now watched over them all.
"Phew." Arkavenn breathed just as the dragon's breath let up and the. area around him cooled down rapidly. His armour was charred and there were hints of melted metal on the full body shield he had been hiding before. Right after he picked up the Captain, Arkavenn nodded to the instructions he had been given and he banged his metal hammer against his shield, roaring out a second challenge at the dragon.
It essentially translated to "Come at me, bitch. That your best shot? You hit like a girl."
Just in case, Arkavenn slung his hammer over his back and proceeded to throw a piece of debris the size of a foot ball at the dragon.
And an- Whoops. Time to run.
Arkavenn broke into a run down Fargel Street, the dragon hot on his heels and the two warriors at the side of the dragon, making sure it did not stray off its course. Arkavenn made a point to run into a much narrower area that had more or less managed to remain intact despite the attack. This was to ensure the dragon took some time to prepare before it could take flight, to allow their dear comrade to attack its wings and keep it grounded so it could be fought by them most effectively. It wast his first time against a dragon and he knew that it was their ability to take flight that made them so hard to fight.
"Anytime now!" Arkavenn called out to the alchemist as the dragon opened its mouth, ready to unleash deadly blazes of destruction upon the group of Fateguard members gathered in the general area.
As Corben lead part of FateGuard over on Fargel Street the sound of metallic plate slamming together filled the streets further away. When Derek had been informed of the attack he had been in another district entirely, "Of all the rotten timing. Fargel street is so far away that even Arkavenn probably beat me there," As he turned the corner the sound of rushing air assaulted his ears. There was too much smoke around him to see. He barely had time to react when the second dragon swooped out of the sky, through the smoke, and thundered onto the ground next to him,
"What?! But I'm nowhere near Fargel Street! Don't tell me there's two of them!?"
The weight of his armor allowed him to keep his footing through the quaking earth as he drew Alondite in a flash of light. As he swung his sword his yells echoed in his helmet and to those around him it would sound like a distorted and metallic roar. Pausing from his swings he glared at the dragon from under his helmet. Where are the others? Derek knew he couldn't fight a dragon alone. Growling, Derek weaved in towards the dragon's chest, gripped Alondite with both hands, and swung with all his might for what felt like the thousandth time. It proved just as ineffective as it had been the last several swings; even though Alondite was made of Adamantite all it could do is leave the tiniest cuts into the dragons thick scales. He might be able to expose flesh, but it would take far too long. He might as well had be trying to cut down an oak tree with a dull axe.
Unfortunately that's all Derek could do. No ranged attacks meant all he could do is keep the dragon where it was and keep it busy. That still didn't remove the possibility of it taking off into the sky and at that point it could do anything. Raze more buildings or even go assist its mate with fighting the rest of the FateGuard.
"Come on Derek! Think of something!"
As his mind raced the dragon swiped at Derek and forced him to jump back. Before he had time to recover the dragon swatted at a nearby building and sent large scraps of debris at him. Derek braced himself on the ground and raised his arms in front of him; the Regalia of Ancient Kings taking the majority of the blows. Grabbing Alondite, Derek swung the flat of his sword at the next piece and sent it flying back into the dragon's head. The beast shook its head violently, "Did I get it in the eyes?"
Half a second later the dragon lowered its head and fire sprang from its mouth. Derek knelt down and brought his cape over the front of him, the adamantite-weave cape being the only thing from keeping the fire out of his helmet. Derek exhaled through gritted teeth as he accepted the fact that he wouldn't be able to keep this up without help. As the fire receded Derek rose to his feet and gripped his sword. Like it or not he'd have to settle settle for keeping it here until the others arrive. He could only hope he'd last that long.
"Wait a moment!" said Helga suddenly, causing her grandmother to look up from the book. "How did the dragon get
there without Leonardo seeing?"
Beside her, Finn took his sleeve out of his mouth and grinned. "Dragons can teleport, of course."
"No they can't! And how did Ferrick bump into Corben if he was in the middle of the town square?"
"It was indeed a chaotic night," the old woman chuckled. "None of the FateGuard could keep their eyes on everything
at once." She smiled at Helga, the young girl so alike to how she herself had been, all those years ago.
"Maybe there were three of them," Helga said.
"Dragons only have one wife!" Finn argued.
"How do you know?"
"Enough now!" chided the grandmother, before picking up the book again. "Let us continue the story."
Even though so much smoke plagued the skies he could see the female dragon coming down once she passed through. As if the thundering impact would not have given away her return. If his mouth twisted into anything it was anything but a smile. Just one second went by before he charged off in the direction of the impact area while shouting behind him something rather obvious.
"Eric and Aloysius follow me! Corben and the rest can handle the male! Time to show this dragoness what the FateGauard does to those who attack Gothenheim!"
During every moment that Derek fought alone against the female, Saint pushed his body to the limit for the sake of keeping anyone from getting killed. Who knew what people were in danger right now? He certainly had no clue. FateGuard were his compatriots but the villagers were those they had all sworn to protect. No one could be left to die. Luckily the bandaged knight did not wear very much heavy armor. While it left him more open to damage it also kept him light on his feet. Only the Combat Crucifix truly slowed him down any. . . but training and steel will kept that from turning into a problem just yet.
"Fear not Derek! We hath not abandoned thee!"
A voice of unwavering resolve sounded as a white blur streaked past the heavily armored knight. Perhaps it was all the heat from the flames which distorted his movements that made Saint appear to move with such swiftness. Regardless of the truth, not a soul could deny that Leonardo placed himself on a path with the dragoness as his final destination. All around him the debris that had been set alight burned through a second phase of destruction. Knocking a building down had not been enough, it just had to be burned as well.
Saint charged up the charred pile of rubble all the same while gaining both elevation and momentum. Not a single flame or spark dared to try setting his robes alight as he ascended higher with every footstep. It was as though an invisible presence frightened them away. Each footstep cracked the damaged wood or caused loose stones to move unpredictably. Yet he still managed to gain higher ground. Behind him the path he left behind quickly crumbled into one that no other could follow without risking great harm unto themselves as the ruined structure grew more unstable.
Meanwhile the dragoness had taken notice of the newest arrival garbed in white. Plus anyone who followed him onto incidentally coming to Derek's aid. For now she focused on the one who charged her though. Out of all the reasons to do something so reckless, Saint did it solely to draw attention away from his comrade. Not a single one of them would fall tonight if he had his way. All of them meant something to him in one way or another.
Though what he did next also came as a consequence of his current position.
Now the female turned her head toward Saint who had risen high enough on the rubble to be at equal height with her enormous head. Pushing up off the weakened wood with both feet into a leap of faith, all while simultaneously lifting up the Combat Crucifix above his head. All of his strength, his momentum, even gravity itself would go into the blow Leonardo intended to soon follow. It left him extremely vulnerable to attack. If even one possible problem occurred this would all end in death and disaster. Right now the dragoness could literally snatch him right out of the air and devour him whole. Yet part of this gamble depended on that since it would keep her head close. A frightening maw filled with glistening sharp teeth opened only for the start of a mighty roar to let loose right in Saint's face.
At that precise moment a thunderous crack echoed through the air.
Connecting with the top of dragoness' snout came a massive blow from the Combat Crucifix which drove her head straight toward the ground. For just a few moments the entire world slowed down from his perspective. Draconic eyes locked with his own that glimmered in the firelight. Leonardo had originally planned to strike right between the eyes though in the end the fact he had not been eaten was certainly enough. As it should have been for any man who fought a dragon.
Upon impact with the hard ground, Saint counted himself lucky that her thick draconic skull had absorbed most of the kinetic energy. But there was no way that she would be dead. At most the strike probably dazed the female. Leonardo now depended on the luck that his comrades would step up in the blink of an eye. He needed time to get away from the dragoness before she got back up again.
Saint's robes of course, as he stood up from the ground a tad slowly, remained completely clean.