|Dragon Knights Part 1: Demon Poison
Author: Zetsuya PM
Five dragon knights must work together to defeat Emperor Colgate. However, as his true identity becomes known, will they have the courage to defeat him?Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,048 - Updated: 09-01-04 - Published: 08-10-04 - id: 1690625
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
After months of traveling down the steep cliffs of the Point Tip Mountains, the four young dragon knights come to the new village built by Emperor Colgate, the one monarch they were sent to dispose of. Even though the population is growing rapidly, there are still many empty houses.
Meanwhile, the Dragon King, Syru, is having a very difficult time awakening the dragons. The dragons, which are seen as equals by the Dragon People, are necessary for their country to gain a victory against Colgate and his forces.
Rico, the Holder of the Earth Dragon Key, had to return to their native mountain in order to ask for permission from Syru to join forces with the elves of Plormir before they see all other races as enemies…
Chapter One: Assassin Danger
The golden palace hidden in the trees glowed brilliantly against the night sky. Rico climbed up the marble steps and pushed open the doors. The granite floor had long been mopped, and the many kitchens were a mess. Syru must be busy indeed, the young knight thought to himself. He turned the corner and walked into Queen Starlett.
"Oh, forgive me, my lady," Rico apologized.
"It was my fault, Rico," the queen said. "I was thinking of my life here."
"Any human woman would wonder here if they were married to the Dragon King," Rico told her. "Surely you understand, my lady, that he does love you deeply."
"But… you all are immortal. I, since I am only human, will grow old and die. Besides, how old are you if you are so young?"
Rico shrugged his shoulders. "I myself am fifty-one, but the other knights are younger than me. Believe it or not, but the youngest knight on our team is only seventeen, and he is the Holder of the Fire Dragon Key."
"That is young. Even younger than I."
"Pardon me, my lady, but how old are you? Am I allowed to ask?"
The queen's smile was warm and pleasant. "I am twenty-one. But the king sees me a bit younger, though."
"You are lucky." Rico frowned as he suddenly remembered his task. "Where is King Syru?" he questioned.
"He is in the library downstairs," Starlett answered. "Last I heard he was researching some elven weaknesses."
"This is terrible." Rico went down to the library. He found Syru inside. The once carefree king now looked stern and much older than he was. "Would the king refuse a friend?" Rico asked in his melodic voice.
Syru looked up from his books. His black eyes still looked like two moonless nights. It was difficult for Rico to find his words. "Your young wife is worried about you," he told the king.
"Everyone is," sighed the king. "I just don't know what I am going to do about-"
"Join the elves," Rico cut him off. "If we combine our strength with that of the elves Colgate won't have a chance. Please, Syru, please trust us this one time!"
"Ages ago, the dragon knights were more important than the royal monarchy," Syru said quietly. "However, the knights became arrogant and ignorant. They no longer obeyed their king's wishes."
"We're not like that, my lord!" Rico shouted. Then, to Rico's surprise, Syru smiled. "I am truly glad," he said to Rico, "that you four are so loyal and trustworthy. Seek out the elves and ask for their help. I am counting on you."
Graphite sat on the old stable gate, watching the stars above. "Youth poisons the mind," Costar told him. Graphite did not move; he seemed to be in deep meditation. Not only was he from the Dragon People, but also an elf. His long black hair was smooth, and his silver streaked blue eyes sparkled at night. "You have a visitor down by the stream," said Costar.
"Thanks," Graphite said as he dashed off toward the Stream of Diamonds. He had been waiting forever for this package; his own double-bladed knife, like what Rico used. The cloaked deliverer looked a bit odd, though. Almost… nervous. Graphite stopped in front of him. The young boy kept his hood up and his scarf covering his face, while giving Graphite the very valuable weapon.
Graphite took it, still eyeing the youth. "What is your name?" Graphite asked. "What do they call you?"
"…Sayla," the kid answered.
Sayla removed her hood and scarf. Her soft blue hair hung below her shoulders, and her lovely amethyst eyes glittered like lost treasures long forgotten.
Graphite stopped himself from falling in love with her and her beauty. Dragon Knights are forbidden to love, he remembered. I must keep my sanity here.
"Well? Aren't you going to lash me?" questioned the girl.
Graphite shook his head. "I'm only violent against demons," he told her. "I would never harm a girl."
"You… are you a dragon knight?"
"The youngest in over two millenniums."
"Then you must be quite the charmer," Sayla remarked. "I've heard that one of the knights went against the forbidden love rule twenty-three-years-ago. Why don't you go against it also?"
Graphite stood still, thinking of a way out to escape the tempting situation. Sayla knew that this young man was panicking inside. Graphite took his pouch out of his traveling bag, and produced two gold coins. "Take the money and leave me be," he said as he handed her the coins. She took them and, knowing his uneasiness, gave him a small kiss on the cheek. Sayla then dashed away, giggling all the while.
Graphite walked back to the stable, ready for a long quiet meditation. Costar saw him return with a pale white face. "What is wrong with you?" he inquired of the young man. "What happened? You're whiter than the Thunder Dragon!"
"And what would a forty-two-year-old knight know of such things?" Graphite snapped. He realized his error right away. "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to… I mean…"
"Do not worry 'bout it," Costar said with a sad smile. "I know I almost overstepped my limits a bit. I am not your father or anything. I just wish I had your strength."
"Costar…" Graphite felt Costar's pain. He was second in command and deserved respect. Rico was away now, so Costar was in charge.
"Have you seen Aisha?" he heard Costar ask. "That girl is really testing my patience."
"Sir, the deliverer was a girl," Graphite said in his serious tone. "By law that's illegal." Costar's concerned stare showed perfectly. "She said that…a dragon knight went against the forbidden love rule twenty-three-years-ago. Who was it?"
"How did anyone outside the village learn of this?" Costar questioned.
"Please, sir, I must know what happened."
Costar turned away. "He no longer exists! He was banished years ago for that crime! And…his love was destroyed in the war." Then he walked away to the inn where they were staying.
Graphite just couldn't understand Costar's sudden outburst. Did I overstep my own boundaries a bit too much? he asked himself.
"Sheesh!" came the high-pitched voice of Aisha. "I thought he was never gonna leave."
"Another man's bed tonight?" Graphite asked innocently.
Aisha smiled and said, "He is the son of a banker. However, when will we share a bed, Graphite?"
"Shut up! You should be arrested. It's a crime; don't you know that? When are you going to stop?"
"Who knows? Maybe when I'm eighty."
Graphite turned away from her. "Hopefully you'll live that long," he said quietly.
"You are an elf; don't worry 'bout the other races."
"My mother was an elf; my father was one of the Dragon People," Graphite tried to explain.
"You have both youth and beauty," Aisha told him. "It's no wonder why so many girls want you to resign."
It was in this statement that Graphite found his strength. "I am loyal to King Syru and his queen. I only do as they request. I am happy here."
"You are a slave?" Aisha asked suddenly. Graphite was now listening intently. "You speak of fulfilling their requests, but… are you truly free? That sounds more like slave work. You can be free, Graphite. I can help you there."
"SHUT UP!!!" Graphite shouted. Aisha stared at him, frightened that she had said too much. Graphite felt a sharp pain in his right arm. "Oh, crap," he said as he went into a deep sleep.
Aisha looked up. "Rico, what did you do to him?"
"It was a tranquilizer," Rico explained. "I had to… He'll awake in the morning."
"Why did you..?"
"We must keep him from any action for awhile. His heart has been skipping beats lately."
"Where do we take him?"
"Back to Syru's palace. The best doctors are there. They may be able to help him."
"I'm sorry," Aisha said quietly. "It was my fault. I said some things I probably shouldn't have."
Rico picked Graphite up and took him to the inn. "I know," he said to Aisha. "I was listening… We are not slaves. We are only knights, knights that hold the Dragon Keys. We are very valuable to Syru and his queen."
"Of course," the woman remarked. "However, I believe that Queen Starlett has her heart set on you, Sir Rico."
"Silence yourself at once," Rico commanded. "This is why we're trying to convince Syru to banish you. Don't think that Graphite didn't tell me what you've been up to. Whom are you staying with tonight?"
"Please, Rico, don't tell Costar!"
"If I must then I will; he has the right to know. I don't care even if he is your brother! No one should betray the law!"
"He did," Aisha countered. "He wasn't punished when he confessed!"
"That's different. Besides, he was punished. It was a terrible punishment. Syru ordered him to either protect Graphite, or be beheaded."
"He fears death?" Aisha questioned. It sounded very odd to her that her brother should fear death. He's been a dragon knight ever since her tenth birthday, always laughing in the face of death. "Hard to believe."
Rico placed Graphite on the bed then went out and locked the door. "It is not his own death that Costar fears. It is the death of Graphite. Graphite's like a son to him. And, with protecting Graphite, comes another punishment…"
Starlett walked alone in the dark halls, listening for anything out of the ordinary. I have to get out of here, she thought. I am no queen of these people. Syru will have to find another. I just can't survive the pressure here. She heard something in the library. She went inside and saw Syru looking through an old journal searching for something. Unsure of what he was doing, Starlett came closer, hoping not to disturb him all the while. "Syru?" she asked. "Syru, are you all right?"
The king put the journal down and turned to look at her. Starlett hardly recognized him. His black eyes have lost their beauty; his skin was pale from lack of sunlight. "You haven't been yourself lately," she told him. "You look like a total stranger. You need to eat something. I'll get you some bread."
"No, don't bother," Syru told her. "I am not the same king everyone once knew… I am freeing the Dragon Knights."
"What? Why? They are here to protect our world, our people!"
"Our people," Syru repeated. "You mean my people, do you not? You are not one of us-"
"You won't allow me to!" Starlett exclaimed. "Why don't you treat me as your wife instead of as a friend?"
Syru stared at her confusingly. "Is that what you want?"
"Well, I… um…" Starlett began to blush.
"I haven't been treating you well, but I must take care of this war first. I need to make-"
"You need to be with me," Starlett said quietly. "Besides, what would happen if you passed away without an heir?"
Syru took up the journal again, made a few notes, then put it back on the table. "What do you want to do, Starlett?"
Starlett looked at him, smiling. "I almost left here because of the pressure, but now I understand that you have it much worse. Let us spend some time together, Syru."
The morning sun felt warm on Graphite's face. He opened his eyes slowly. His right arm was in pain, and now he heard the quiet songs of the spring birds outside his window. He stood up carefully, thinking that he might fall if he tried to walk. There was a knock on the door. "Oh, man," Graphite moaned as he walked toward the door. He opened it with his left hand, even though he was right-handed. "Hello?"
It was Costar, as furious as ever. "What was Rico thinking," he muttered. "Tranquilizing you like some kind of animal! Are you sure you're alright, Graphite?"
"Are you sure you're feeling okay?" Graphite asked curiously. "You're acting really weird."
"Youth poisons the mind," Costar said again.
"You keep saying that, Costar. What does it mean?"
"You will learn, someday. Hopefully. Eventually."
"Why not tell me now? Why must I always have to wait when I know I'm old enough to learn your lessons?"
"That is your problem. You always think you're old enough to learn anything."
"Why won't you teach me anything about the world? Am I really that bad that I'm lower than you in rank?"
"It's not that I think poorly of you, Graphite. I think very highly of you."
"What… are you saying?" young Graphite managed to ask. Costar's really acting weird now, he thought.
Costar looked away. "Forget it," he said. "You will learn everything on your own when you're older… We're returning to the Roaring Mountain to awaken the dragons. We'll need their help from now on. You are also to see a doctor when we arrive there, understand?"
"Yeah, yeah. I gotcha."
Costar glared at him. "This is no joke. We are all worried about you, Graphite. Your heart seems to be getting weaker by the day. Yet, you never told us about it. It really hurts when you don't tell us if something's wrong. I understand that you don't like me one bit, but please! Next time, tell somebody, okay?"
"Sure, Costar. Sure." Graphite watched him leave. Costar, I don't hate you. You're the closest person I have to a father. My dad died before I was born and my mother… She was murdered, by whom I don't know. But you do know, I know you do.
The large castle atop Miratte's Cliff sent fear into those who opposed it. In this castle dwelled Emperor Colgate. "The soldiers need to be trained more," the emperor told the military trainer. "My formidable foe, Syru, has requested that the dragons be awakened."
"Why is that a problem? Our boys took down dragons before. A bit large, but not too tough."
"The dragons he is going to awaken are only as large as horses," Colgate explained. "They are more cunning than the others and only belong to the Dragon Knights. If my hypothesis is correct, young Graphite is the owner of the Fire Dragon… YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO KILL HIM SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO!!!"
"But, my lord, King Syru attacked us with his Light Dragon," the other man stammered. "My men were burned ali-"
"SILENCE!" Colgate shouted. "Kill him tonight," he said, more quietly and more sinister. "They're staying at Grimhold City tonight… Do not disappoint me again, Roladdy."
"Yes, sir," Roladdy said with a bow. "But, should the murder be bloody or poison?"
"Whichever you like more," Colgate told him approvingly. "Just do it tonight."
The quiet inn was ancient, older than even the race of the Dragon People. Its stone structure was cold, almost as cold as the snow atop the Point Tip Mountains. The rooms were small, each with only one bed. Graphite felt the frozen air even under his lion fur blanket. "This weather should be forbidden," he mumbled under the blanket. "It's way too cold for anything."
Little did he know that someone just outside his room was ready to strike him down… If only I had killed him all those years ago, the old assassin thought as he shivered in the cold darkness. Then I wouldn't be here in this frozen graveyard.
He unlocked the door with the key he stole from the unconscious innkeeper. Just one clean cut, he thought as he peered into the room. He saw a lump on the bed; under the blanket! He brought his sword up but, as it went down, Graphite jumped out the window. "He's escaping!" Graphite heard as he accepted his cold descent.
Costar meditated quietly in his room, not noticing the breaking glass in the room next door. Nor did he notice the assassin preparing to kill him.
Rico climbed up the stairs, humming new songs he heard at the tavern in the basement. "Hmm?" He saw Costar's door was opened; not a good sign. Rico ran into the room and knocked out the assassin with his fist. Another ran in after Rico; bad mistake. Rico dropped, turned around, and kicked upward, hitting the assassin squarely in the face!
Costar awakened from his meditative state and looked around confusingly. When he spotted Rico, he asked, "What's going on here?"
Rico stared at his friend, surprised that the almost-killed Costar was so calm at seeing the unconscious men in his room. "Where is Graphite?" Costar then asked, more seriously. "He should not be fighting."
"I know," Rico agreed. "Let's go find him. He'll be in big trouble if his heart begins to fail him."
Graphite landed in the frozen lake. "S-so c-c-c-cold," he shivered. He looked up to see eleven more assassins coming at him. Oh, great, the dragon knight thought as he swam to the eastern shore. The sun was beginning to rise. Excellent, Graphite told himself, I'm gonna freeze to death on the morning of Starlett's birthday…
Then it hit him. The queen's birthday was today!
"I hope to see all of you when you return here," she had told them. "And, please be here when it is my birthday so that I may not worry for your safety…"
"I have to make it through this alive!" Graphite stated as he climbed out of the lake. He was ready to defeat anyone who got in his way.
"GRAPHITE!!!!" he heard coming from his room. He looked up. Costar and Rico looked very angry indeed. "What're you doing?!" came Costar's yell. "Are you insane?! What would happen if your heart stops beating?!"
"I'll die. Any other questions?" Graphite was just too calm right now. "I have one: Why aren't you guys helping me?!"
"Shut up!" shouted the assassin who had followed Graphite out the window. He raised his sword one last time against his victim… He fell… the assassin that is. He was hit in the back with an arrow! Graphite's shock was echoed by his friends; what a waste of an arrow. Young Graphite then looked to the north, at the hills that were becoming visible. Twenty elves stood atop those hills, all ready to fire at the confused assassins. One of the elves, long black hair with gray eyes, spoke to the killers, "If you kill one of us, we will kill all of you."
"Elves!" screamed one of the killers. "Elves! ELVES!"
The leader elf loosed his arrow, sending it flying across the distance into the loud man's throat. "Such noisy creatures, aren't they?" he asked his companions. "The race of men is all the same: loud and very annoying."
The remaining nine retreated into the disappearing darkness of the shadows. Costar and Rico jumped from the window onto the frozen soil, barely missing the water of the lake. Costar glared at Graphite, apparently disapproving of his "heroic" descent. "You could've been killed!" he shouted. "Have you any idea at all how worried we were?! You're becoming nothing but trouble!"
"How was I supposed to know that they were after me?" the younger knight countered. "I've never seen them before!"
"You had to have seen them," said the elf. He and his squad had come down from the hills. "They're the ones who killed your mother."
Rico stepped toward him. "How would you know about his mother?" he asked. The elf looked at him and said, "She was my only sibling." He then lowered his bow. "I am Vine Wood. We come from the forested hills of Plormir. It is a good thing to see you again, Graphite. There may be some hope for you yet."
Colgate sat in his throne, hating Syru all the while. "What has that old fool up his sleeve?" he asked himself. "The elves would surely refuse to help him, and the dwarves are of no help to him either. The race of men certainly won't help him. Men despise all other races."
Vine stared at the magnificent glowing golden castle beyond the trees in the forest. "This is where knights become legends, and where the dragons rest before their awakening," he heard himself saying. "I had always wanted to come here, to see if the stories are true enough to be written down in history books."
"Such is the way of an elf from Plormir I guess," said a tall man. His black eyes looked like moonless nights, and his blond hair was cut short. Vine did not know who this strange man was. "You are Graphite's uncle, are you not?" Vine nodded. "I am the one who saved Graphite's life years ago. You may call me Syru, King of Dragons."
Where… where am I? It's so dark and cold here… I can't see a thing! What… what is that? A temple? On top a mountain?
I'm standing on top of… water?! What is this place?
'Graphite, is that you?' Someone is calling me? Who is it?
'Graphite, they're trying to rob my father's tomb! Please, help me stop them!'
Who are you? And, how do you know my name?
The water… it's become a whirlpool! It must be Waterier, the Water Dragon! But, where is Costar? And Rico and Aisha too? WHERE IS EVERYBODY?!!!
"Huh?" Graphite gasped as he awoke. "Just a dream… Or was it… a foresight dream?" It was Graphite's first night back at the castle, and his first foresight dream. "Man, it's still dark out! How am I supposed to sleep if I have another-" He spotted someone standing in the knee-high area of the Fort`un River. "Is that… Costar?"
Graphite dressed and went down to his friend. "Geez," he said, "it's freezing out here!"
"What would you expect at such a high altitude?" Costar asked him, keeping his back to him.
"Alti-what?" asked Graphite.
"Altitude. The height of a thing, especially above sea level, or a high place."
"I knew that." Not really, but…
"No you didn't."
"Anyway, what're you doing out here in the river?" Graphite questioned.
Costar finally turned to look at him. His meadow-green eyes looked sad and his hair was actually pulled into an orange horsetail. "The river is my only comfort here. I dislike the luxury of the castle."
"Why is that?"
"Before I became a dragon knight, I was a servant of the king's. My family hadn't any money, so I had extra jobs besides being a servant. Then one day, the king himself came up to me. 'Why do you always seem so tired?' he asked me. 'I don't work you that hard, do I?'
'No, sir,' I replied. That's when I explained to him about my family and our financial needs.
'A dragon knight gets paid on or off the job, you know,' he told me. At first I didn't know why he had told me this until he spoke again. 'The Water Dragon, Waterier, needs a knight,' he explained. 'How 'bout you?' I agreed only because we needed the money."
Graphite listened quietly. This was the first time Costar ever said anything about his past.
"I had no idea that being a knight would mean having to leave the city on missions every month. I hardly ever got to see my parents!"
"Why not visit them right now?" Graphite asked, trying to cheer Costar up.
"I wish I could, but I can't," Costar told him. "They died last year, and King Syru never told me. I just found out today. I hate Syru!"
Graphite frowned at his friend, knowing that Costar's luck was running thin. "At least you knew your parents," he said to Costar. "At least you have your memories of them."
Costar didn't know what to say. "I'm sorry, Graphite. I didn't mean anything by what I said. I mean, I hope I didn't sound rude."
"It's okay, Costar. No worries, right? I just envy you sometimes, even if I don't sound like it. And it's not just because of your parents. I envy your knowledge and understanding. I could never become like you, no matter how hard I tried at it. Besides, as parents go, you're the best father-like person I've ever known."
Costar smiled; Graphite had never said anything quite like this before.
"Now, get out of the river and back into the castle before you get sick! It's freezing out here!"
"Hahaha! Now you sound like the father figure!"
"I made you laugh! I actually made Mr. Serious Costar laugh!"