Before the sunlight came to claim the day, Vytria walks alone on a long wall. She had given up on sleep and decided to discover the source of her unease. Two others also walk along this wall. Due to their leather armor, Vytria recognizes them at once. “Parkr! Sir Elhren!”
“Lady Delia,” Elhren bows.
“Vytria. It’s been a while,” Parkr greets her.
“It has. I was surprised to see you in the tournament.”
“I didn’t have much choice. Apparently the knights were desperate for a strong new opponent.”
“They certainly received more than they bargained for, then. Are you here for the same reason I am?”
“Yes. There is unease in the air tonight. We were just about to scout ahead,” Parkr answers.
“Let me come with you, then. You are, of course, going by air?”
Once Elhren confirms that no guards are watching, the three take to the air, Parkr on his magnificent white dragon, Elhren on a red phoenix, and Vytria flies behind them with her winds. They pick up speed, surveying the landscape carefully for any signs of disturbance. All too soon they discover the reason for their search.
“Satyr! Thousands of them,” Elhren points out. “At that speed they will arrive at Camlon within three hours.”
“We must warn the king.”
“I will alert Dnovan,” Vytria says. The three make all haste back to Camlon, and soon the city is awake and rushing about to prepare for the sudden onslaught. Galen, the castle physician, with Mernan’s help hurries to make more draughts for the scores of hungover knights. Three hours later they are as ready as they shall be.
“Listen, Elhren,” Parkr says. “If I’m going to fight at all, I’m going to use my full strength. Dragons and all.”
“I expect nothing less,” Elhren agrees. “What do you have in mind?”
“This horde of satyr is running scared. If we can divert them away from the city, they will keep on running.”
“You mean to wedge ourselves between stampeding satyr and Camlon.”
“I am the younger brother of Synrn. I’ve heard worse plans.”
With Shem, the white dragon, and Mystery, the black dragon, blocking the way, Parkr and Elhren are able to divert much of the oncoming satyr away from the city, but not all. Many thousands assault the walls, climbing or jumping over them. Camlon’s knights are valiant, but it has been long since any defended a city from satyr. It is not long before the city is overrun.
“Dnovan! I’m calling in reinforcements,” Vytria calls. “If we do not fight now, we are truly the second-class citizens the king believes us to be.”
Dnovan nods. “Do it.”
Vytria concentrates, and uses her winds to open all the doorways to the undercity. The mages below receive the message, and pour out from below to charge the satyr. They prove very effective. Camlon’s knights are surprised, but with a common enemy before them are in no position to protest. Knight and mage fight side by side, ushering citizens to safety and slaying all satyrs who come near.
But another horde flies in to trouble Camlon, a horde of gargoyles. Their screeches cause the brave fighters to clench their hands to their ears.
“Dnovan, we’re going higher!” Vytria shouts. Without waiting for Dnovan’s reply, Vytria launches herself into the air, hauling Dnovan with her. She lands on the highest tower. Gargoyles instantly attack, but Dnovan fends them off. “There’s no going back after this,” Vytria says.
“There never was.”
Vytria smiles, and turns her concentration to claiming the skies of Camlon. Not much happens at first, but presently a gargoyle careens through the air and crashes down on a knot of satyrs. Then three more fall, and soon the gargoyles retreat from the airspace around the tower. The ones that can, anyway. In threes and fours some find themselves diving for the tower, their wings no longer granting them power over the air. Dnovan slays them all, and the winds around the tower increase in strength.
Sir Morcant arrives to find Camlon entirely overrun but for the castle in the center. Yells and shouts from the breached city reach their ears, confirming that Camlon’s knights still fight, but they are almost drowned out by the far louder guttural screams from hundreds of stone-grey gargoyles flying overhead.
Sir Morcant turns to his men. “These satyrs are running scared; they are not here to fight. If we stand we can divert the main force from the city, but our line must hold. For King and Camlon!”
“For King and Camlon!” his men return the battle cry, and with Sir Morcant leading them they charge for the gates. Another knight in royal blue joins them, and from seemingly nowhere two more follow fill the ranks. When Sir Morcant’s charge reaches the satyr horde, his charge is three hundred strong. Not many in comparison to thousands, but enough.
As the momentum from the charge fades, the knights are pushed back. “Hold the line!” Sir Morcant shouts. “Their numbers are not limitless. Hold the line!”
“Their numbers may have an end, but so does our strength. We cannot hold them here long; there are too many.” A knight grunts. Sir Morcant grabs him.
“Do not dare give up until your sword drops from your hand on its own,” Sir Morcant growls; then releases the knight. “This is our city.”
“That may happen sooner than you’d like,” an old knight says. “The cries of those gargoyles sap a man’s will.”
“Then we must gain it back,” Sir Morcant replies. “Prince James said one of their own is in the city. He may be able to deal with them; where is he?”
As if in answer a great roar resounds through the ground, drowning our all sound but its own. A pillar of white-hot flame appears some distance away. As all pause in wonder as it takes on the form of a fiery sword.
“That’s it! The fire from the prophecy!”
“Those gargoyles don’t seem to like it. They’re beating a hasty retreat.”
“Wish these satyrs would do the same.”
“They are; they’re just retreating in our direction.”
As vigor returns to embattled knights, some chant loudly the forbidden song.
Gleaming flames of silver-white
Darken day and brighten night
Give hope to those whose fate they fight
And claim our justice with your light
In front of the city where the white gleaming sword casts its flame, another far different line holds out against the satyrs. They have been diverting as many as possible from the city since the satyrs first arrived, and to prove it all around them are dead and charred bodies of the same.
One of two men fighting here is Sir Elhren, the knight from distant lines. He takes a breath between strikes to speak to his partner, the strange visitor Alexandr Parkr Gathriel of Gathyra.
“I didn’t know you had the flaming sword of distant legend in your arsenal,” Sir Elhren shouts.
“I didn’t either,” Parkr shouts back as he works to both wield his own black metal blade and keep the flames stable.
Between them the dragon Mystery responds in proud tones, “We knew something would happen; isn’t that enough?” The light from the flame glints away from her black scales, making her look like a void with glowing eyes to oncoming satyrs, most of which steer sharply away from her straight into Elhren’s sword.
“This isn’t exactly easy you know. Anytime you’d like to jump in is fine with me,” Elhren grunts.
Mystery snaps her tail at a satyr that stumbles too close. “You’re doing a fine job,” is her reply.
Elhren shakes his head in a momentary lack of opponents. “And I thought Synrn was impossible.”
“At least she’s doing something,” Parkr says, glaring at the much larger dragon Shem, who actively engages in a yawn.
“They do know this is serious, right?”
Parkr stops fighting and turns to Elhren, the answered question clear in his expression. Elhren snorts and shakes his head. “Forget I asked.”
Parkr raises his gaze to the sky. “Ah, reinforcements have arrived.”
Sure enough, distinctive silhouettes flash by, and from the city comes the shout of “Dragons!” The shout is echoed, causing all to stop and stare upward. Faster than possibility the dragons crash into the gargoyle horde above and the satyrs below. Some knights cheer and others watch in awed silence as their enemies melt away. Quite literally. In moments the only evidence of any fighting is exhausted knights and some smoldering embers.
The dragons leave as soon as they came. The flaming sword vanishes with them, leaving an unnatural silence throughout the city. All streets are empty, no guards are found at the gates, and the damage wrought is lit by a fading twilight. As King Certan gazes upon his city, verses unbidden rise from memory.
Darkened day, greying night,
Empty walls, forsaken gate,
Waning fire, broken sword
No warning heard, for none will sound
From a people within whom no wisdom is found
Silence breaks when Sir Morcant enters the city. The blue and silver of Camlon’s knights convince the people to trickle out of deep hiding, slowly at first, then in more numbers as excited chatter grows. It turns out the wizards came out of anonymity to lead the citizens of Camlon to safety in the undercity catacombs lit only by occasional torches and warm hearts.
The satyrs, like every creature of shadow, fear to tread underground, and knights with wizards worked so well together that not one life is found to be lost. Amidst cheering and celebration, when asked who suggested such a thing, every man has one name on their lips.
“Delia Laine has been arrested!” a palace servant cries through the streets. Most turn shocked faces to his tale. “Delia Laine has been arrested for use of magic and conspiracy! The Laine knights have been confined to quarters!”