By Alicia Steen
“Save the food!”
Wait, are you the only one worried right now? In an instant the cheer of the festival had turned into a battle ground. Shadows roam wherever you look, met by Gathyrans of every age and size. These weren’t just any shadows either. You’d fought shadows of the imp class before, and these creatures were another level entirely. But… save the food? If the Gathyrans lose here, there won’t be a Gathyra tomorrow.
Just who are these people?
Sranus. Festival of Scales, Gathrya.
Save the food indeed. The young man isn’t entirely incorrect, but in my centuries of life I’ve certainly heard it put more eloquently. These shadow creatures aren’t just attacking Gathyra’s people; by launching an assault on the Festival of Scales, they are striking at Gathyra itself. All the dragons in existence can’t help if a people’s heart is broken.
With that cheery thought, I move quickly for Mystery’s daycare, knocking shadows aside three and four at a time with my staff. Only when I reach her I find that my assistance is not needed. The amused black dragon has set her charges aflame with dragon fire, which is consuming not the children but the terrified shadows unlucky enough to become ‘it’ in a game of tag. Any shadows too frenzied are swiftly acquainted with Mystery’s strong claws and whipping tail.
“Sranus!” Mystery calls a moment before knocking these shadow’s sizeable leader my way. I vaporize him within two hits of my staff, thus sending the shadows into a full rout. Their mass exodus flees right into the welcoming arms of enraged parents.
As I assist in holding the line a smile claims me. In all my travels to various lands, I’d almost forgotten the Gathyran approach to oncoming shadow. They certainly do ‘dare the shadows to fear.’ Still, an invasion of this sort is sure to have reinforcements. I wonder how Gathyra will deal with them.
Parkr. Festival of Scales, Gathyra.
“Looks like that’s it for the first wave.” My brothers Mykl and James and I were at thien when the shadows attacked. We’d used the skills we learned for the Scale War to halt them in their tracks. Jeske and Kyle had done some impressive combos with our barrier spell, essentially wiping out all shadows within sight. Only my senses told me we weren’t done yet.
“Parkr? Check out the second wave,” James motioned.
I look in the direction James indicates. “Okay, I think that’s what Headmaster Barr means by ‘very bad’.”
“No kidding,” Mykl echoes.
“It’s not like they will ever beat us,” Kyle said in his usual bored tone. In spite of his words, the crazy part was no one I knew would define Kyle as overconfident.
“Does dad know?” I ask James.
James nods. “He’s staring at the same problem near seah. Synrn says twen’s clear, though.”
I stare at the oncoming horde of shadow creatures. I echoed Kyle’s statement, but I’d replace ‘will’ with ‘can’t’. This must be why First King Cenryr built a wall. Against an unstoppable force, what is there to do but become an unmovable object?
The answer brings a grin to my face. An object unmovable doesn’t have to be solid. “Tell the dragons to move behind the advancing force. Get everyone to have their scales handy too.”
“A fire flood? Who’s the source?” Mykl asks.
James’ eyes grow wide, but his smile overtakes his expression. “The center flame.”
“It represents the Ancient of Days. Some say it is him.”
Now Mykl shares the grin. “I think he will,” Mykl says, quoting the familiar verse.
“So let us try,” James follows.
Kyle pushes off the post he was leaning on. “For fear will not bring might.”
The flame rolls past you; then floods the festival/battle area. Gathyrans everywhere toss scales in the air, creating what sounds like a chain reaction of explosions. It overtakes the terrified shadows an instant before they become nothing. You’ve never experienced such fury that now surrounds you, yet does not touch you. You don’t know quite how to react, but your first instinct is to savor the moment.
So this is why they call Gathyra the Fire Kingdom.