Kin of the Dragon

By Aaron Ray Tremberth

Prologue

On a dark and rainy night, with the water dropping from the skies like the heavens themselves were crying, lightning flashing across the sky, a single rider came into view, the cowl of his hood drawn low over his face rode towards the quiet town of Kash, battle weary and shaken, his horse slow, from hard riding all night long. The rider approached the gates of the small, but well fortified town, stopping only a few feet from the guardhouse, his eyes raising up just a bit before he slides from the saddle of his horse, the guardsman looking at him, trying to to read his stature as the rider approached the guards station, before calling out to the man, "Be ye friend or foe, lad."

Slowly, the rider looked the man in the eyes, before whispering softly, "I am friend, looking for shelter for the night from the driving rain and the harsh conditions of the wilderness," he said

"Then I bid ye welcome to our humble town of Kash, no starting trouble here, or ye will find yerself back out in the brutal wilderness from wince ye came," the guard said to him, in a strong voice.

"I come not for trouble, good sir," the rider responded moving towards the guardhouse, leading his horse along side of him. "Where is the closest Inn in this town?"

"Well, ye be lookin fer 'The Golden Griffin', no better place in all the town," he replied back. "But before ye can enter, I must ask to check yer belongings, can't be to safe, no can we."

"Fair enough, but know that I come from a battle, and I am very weary," he said, handing the reins of his horse to the guardsman. "And all you shall find there is provisions and my sword."

The guard looked at the man curiously before checking the horses bags, confirming what he was just told. "Very well, ye may pass, but again, do not cause trouble." The guard nodded to him to proceed into the town.

"Where may I find this Inn you spoke of?"

"Well, its right down this street," he said pointing, "Follow it and ye will find the Inn, tis not a hard thing to miss," he said, once more in his strong voice.

"I thank you for your help, sir, and I shall not cause no trouble here," he said as he walked his horse away, leading it down the street, his head often turning from left to right, to forward, looking and memorizing his surroundings as he moved towards the Inn. He tied his horse outside to a post, unloaded his bags slowly before heading inside to the warm common room of the Inn, glancing this way and that before heading to the counter, looking at the apparent owner of the place. "Be you the owner of this establishment?" he asked the guy behind the counter.

"Yes," he simply replied, looking at the man. "You need a room for the night young one?"

"That I do, and I need my horse put in the stables for the night also," he said, laying a bag full of gold on the counter.

"Very well, the stable boy will take care of the horse," he said, snapping his fingers as a boy about the age of fifteen comes out from the back, looking at the owner of the place, and to the man standing opposite him. "Take this mans horse to the stables, feed it, water it, and put it in a stall." The boy nodded, running outside to the horse and leading him off to the stables. "Your room is just up the stairs, fourth door on the left, and the total price for lodging for you and your horse is twenty gold, total, with morning meal. Alls I need from you is to sign your name in this here book, and you can be off to your room." The man nodded, pulling his hand out from under his cloak, taking up the writing quill and signing his name. The owner takes the book from him, looking at the name before looking back at the man. "Keja, here are the keys to your room, I will send one of the maidens here to fill your wash basin, enjoy your stay at 'The Golden Griffin,'" The man said, taking the money from Keja and putting it in the till. "And my name is Grine, call on me anytime if you need help with something here in this Inn," he nodded, watching the man turn towards the stairs.

"I thank you, Grine, but I do not think I will need any assistance from you this night," Keja replied, heading up the stairs and too his room, opening the door and throwing his stuff into a chair before removing his cloak, adding it to the pile of stuff on the chair.



Outside of the small town of Kash, two riders sit side by side on their strange mounts, two giant wolves. They glance at each other before looking at the small town. "Well, my friend, it looks like we found where he is, now what shall we do, we can't attack the town, it looks to.protected," the first rider replied to the second.

"Yes, that is true, we can not attack the town dear Delvar, but we can go inside it," the second rider said, grinning broadly. "And then we can find this.Dragon Slayer, and kill him. Then our master will be pleased with us."

"Yeah Boga, nothing is more exciting then getting in and killing someone in the middle of town to get approval from Vathos." Delvar replied to him sarcastically. "Should prove pretty interesting indeed, shall we go down there now?"

"No, only I will go, you shall ride back to camp and get the prisoner, bring her to the edge of the woods, and we will bring her the head of Keja, then she will see the folly of fighting out master." He looked at Delvar, grinning once more before dismounting his wolf and striding down the small hill towards the guardhouse. "And then, we shall report back to Vathos, and be rewarded." Boga laughed to himself as he approached the guard, Delvar turning around and heading back to camp, where their prisoner awaited.



Inside his room, Keja lay atop his bed, eyes open and staring at the ceiling when there came a knock on the door. Keja looked over at the door before standing up, walking slowly to it and opening it up to see a lady standing there, holding a basin of water, which was slightly steaming. "I brought you your water, to wash with sir," she nodded to him.

"Come in," Keja said to the young lady. "Put it on the table, and thank you." He let her in, watching her move to the table, setting it down, and then turning back towards the door.

"Will you be coming down to eat sir?" she inquired gently to him. "The cook has made a very delicious beef stew, with fresh made bread for supper tonight."

Keja looked at the lady, studying her for a moment before nodding. "Yes, I shall be down shortly," he said, to the lady as she was departing. Keja slowly ran his hands through his hair, looking over into the mirror, as if scrutinizing himself. How could you have let her be captured, he thought to himself. I must get her back.somehow. He slowly slid back to his bed, sitting down and unbuckling his sword belt, laying it down on his bed. "I must find a way," he said into the shadows. "I must." He stood up, straightening out his shirt and walking to the door, turning the handle to open the door, sighing inwardly to himself as he stepped out into the hall, heading back down towards the common room. Entering the common room, he noticed that it was a bit more fuller, more occupied then when he first arrived, but, finding an empty table, he walked to it, sitting down as the Bar Maiden came up to him.

"Would you like something to eat sir? Perhaps some stew?"

"Yes, that would be nice. Add some Ale to that too."

"Alright sir, I will be back with your food and drink in a moment."

She nodded to him with a smile before turning back towards the bar, walking back into the kitchen. Keja sat there at his table in silence, listening to the conversations around him, not really interested in what they have to talk about, but, giving him something to do to pass the time away before he heads up to bed.

A couple minutes pass and the Bar Maid returns to him, carrying a tray with some steaming stew on it, and a large glass of the Inns best Ale. She sets it down in front of him. "Enjoy your meal sir," the barmaid says and turns away to refill others cups.

He looks down towards the stew, picking up the spoon provided with the meal, and starts to eat slowly, watching he doesn't burn his tongue on the hot brew. One man, noticing the lone Keja, moves towards him, sitting down opposite from him. "Is there a reason ya eat alone there Sailor." He said, laughing as he reached over, snatching a piece of bread from Keja's plate.

Keja slowly raised his eyes towards the man. "If you don't mind, I am trying to eat in peace." He said, snatching the bread back from the man. "And I would appreciate it if you would leave me do that right now."

The man narrowed his eyes at Keja, standing slowly. "Ya think you could do that to me, snatch the food that I was gonna eat right out of me hands?!" the man have growled. "I should teach you a lesson little man, teach ya not to mess with those bigger then ya are." He pulled his fist back, ready to strike Keja when he felt a hand on his. Looking back, he saw the face of the owner looking at him.

"Alright Kevin, that's enough, you know better then to start something in my Inn, now, go home to your wife and kids, before I call the town guard down here to arrest you." He said, looking very serious.

"Eh, he ain't worth my time." And he turned towards the door, walking out of the Inn.

"Thank you Grine, but he would not have been a problem with him." Keja said, taking a bite of the bread he was holding in his hand. "And I wouldn't have had to lift a finger to do so."

"Maybe, Keja, you should learn to accept help when you need it, never know when that'll come in handy." And with that, he turned back towards the bar, walking away from Keja and his meal.



Outside the Inn, looking in through a window, Boga smiled as he spotted Keja being harassed by a patron of the Inn. He smiled to himself as he turned away, thinking to himself that this will be easier then expected. He swiftly turned back towards the window as he heard the scrape of a chair and the stomping of the man who had harassed Keja, walk to the door, stepping out into the damp streets, and storming off towards his home. Boga simply shook his head, laughing to himself as he now moved towards the door, pushing it open and stepping into the place, sniffing the air.

He strode over to the bar, his wolf skin cape flapping as he walked. He slid into a barstool and looked at the many different drinks behind it before looking around once more for a barmaid or the owner. Spotting a barmaid, he motions her over. "Can you get me something to drink, anything"

"Yes sir, what would you like, anything in particular?"

"No, just something to wet my throat."

She nodded to him and slipped behind the bar, grabbing a mug and filling it with ale, handing it over to him. "That'll be five gold, sir." She smiled as she took the gold from him, then went back to her duties.

Boga lifted the mug from the counter and turned around to face the room, taking a large gulp of the ale, he set it back down and watched Keja finish his meal and walk towards the stairs, whispering to himself, "soon Keja, soon." And with that, he went back to his drink.



Keja hurried up to his room, throwing the door shut and going over to his bed. Was that who I thought it was? He thought to himself. It couldn't have been, I thought he died a while ago. He shook his head. "No, it wasn't him, I know it wasn't" he said out loud, needing to hear his own mouth speak the words. "I am just seeing things, I need some sleep." He pulled his sword off the bed, putting it close at hand before climbing into the bed, closing his eyes half way, drifting into a light sleep.

Keja woke suddenly, sitting straight up in his bed, breathing hard as his hand clutched at his chest. Was it only a dream? He asked himself. Or, was it real. He lowered his head back down to his pillow intending to get more sleep when he heard someone outside his window. He quietly got out of his bed, pulling on his armor and buckling his sword belt back on. Pulling out his sword, he quietly crept to the window, hiding beside it as he saw a hand appear on the sill. He pulled back his arm, ready to strike at the intruder, but before he could strike, the person launched itself into the room, weapon drawn and facing Keja.

"So, we meet again dear FRIEND." The Stranger said with a bit of hate in his voice.

Keja shook his head. "Who are you, and how do you know me." He said, taking a defensive stance against the intruder.

"Don't you recognize me Keja, after all, you were the one to strike me down!" With that said, the stranger launched himself at Keja, who immediately put up his sword, deflecting his opponents weapon before striking back at him, only to find he hit nothing but air.

"You can't be alive, I left you for dead on that mountain." Keja said, looking around the room and spotting the man.

"Aye, that you did Keja, but you forgot that there are beings that will help others out.for a profit." He said, moving from side to side. "And Vathos has offered me my life, for yours, and I intend to deliver it."

"Vathos." He said, breathlessly. "But, he was Vanquished back before we were born, Boga, the elders even said so"

"The elders were wrong Keja, they were wrong and so are you, now, enough talk.FIGHT!" Boga launched himself once more at Keja, slicing through the air with his mighty sword. Keja, being prepared for such an assault, side stepped to the right before striking out at Boga, Steel ringing off of steel as Boga's sword swung to intercept Keja's. Keja jumped back and launched himself back into the fight, slicing in an upper attack, then drawing the sword back down, scoring a minor hit on Boga's arm. Boga let a low growl move past his lips as he swung his sword back at Keja's, sweeping for his legs, only to reverse the cut as Keja jumped over it. Boga let out another growl as Keja evaded the maneuver and struck at him with a thrust of his sword, which was glowing a soft yellow. Boga tried to escape the hungry blade, but was to slow as it pierced through his shoulder, zapping him with strong electric currents. Keja twisted the blade inside of Boga, then pulled the sword free, watching Boga fall to the ground in pain.

"Give up Boga, you never were better then me, and you never will be"

"I may be the worst at sword play, dear Keja." he took in a deep breath, "But, I am by far better at deception!" As the last words past his lips, Boga lunged out at Keja, a dagger in his hand as he pushed the blade past Keja's defenses and into his stomach. Keja let out a cry of pain as he brought the hilt of his sword down on Boga's head, then, reversing the sword, putting the blade at the base of his neck, the sword easily slipping through his spine, and ending his life. Keja stumbled back from Boga, pulling the dagger free from his stomach, dropping it to the ground as his blood poured freely from the wound. As Keja slipped to the ground, he heard the pounding of feet and the breaking of a door as light flooded the room, but not enough for Keja to get a good glimpse of the person before he slipped off into unconsciousness.



Keja woke the next morning lying in a bed, surrounded by town guards. He slowly sat up, moaning in pain. "wh.what happened?"

One of the guards turned towards Keja, looking at him. "You were attacked last night, seriously wounded, and brought here by Grine, the owner of 'The Golden Griffin', you were lucky he heard some loud noises, else you might not be alive right now." The guard turned to the other guards, dismissing all but one other. "You are in the Kash Hospital, under care of a Priest of Goldnar."

Keja blinked, remembering last night all to vividly. "What happened to the other guy in the room with me.was he.dead?"

"Yes, we went back and found that his spine had been severed. And that the wound was already scabbed over, like some immense heat had sealed it shut after he was slain."

"Where have you placed him?"

"He is down stairs, being prepared for burning.why?"

"I wish to see him.his name is Boga and.I know him."

"I shall see what I can do, but for now, get your rest."

Keja nodded, laying back down and closing his eyes, reliving the night before in his mind before drifting back to sleep.



Delvar waited up in a tree, watching the small town through keen eyes. "What's taking so long, he should have been back by now." Delvar growled as he jumped back to the ground. He looked from the town, to his captive. "What are you smiling about?!" He half yelled at her.

"Nothing at all you vile excuse for a living creature" She spat at his feet as she ended her sentence.

"You will do to watch what you say to the one that holds the weapons vile elf." He snarled and slapped her across the face, turning back towards the town. "Boga should have been back by now." He mused to himself. "Something must have gone wrong."

The Elvin lady laughed then, loud and hard. "I'll tell you what happened! Your 'Boga' tried killing Keja, and failed to do so, and ended up dead himself." She finished her sentence matter-of-factly.

Delvar looked back at her, shaking his head. "Silence, I need no lecture from you, Boga would not fail Vathos." Delvar looked back to the town, mainly towards the town gate, where sat the Gate Guard. "Besides, your friend was already injured, he couldn't have won. No chance in the Nine Hells could he have survived.besides, elf, Boga has been training hard to fight Keja again, and he is more then ready to fight him."

"First thing, I have a name, its Elia, use it, and second, Keja is not just some push over, so watch it, or I might just have to tell him to kill you too." She said smugly.

Delvar growled low, wanting nothing more then to cut the women's tongue out of her mouth. "We'll see.in time" And he left it at that, waiting for his commander to return to him, so they can go back to Vathos' domain.



Later that day, with all his armor on, and his sword safely at his side, Keja looked down at Boga, with nothing showing on his face. Keja sighed and raised a hand up to his head, placing his fingers upon his face, a glowing coming from the tips of his fingers moved down into Boga, searching out his inner thoughts, even in death. "Tell me what you know Boga, where is Elia." He said calmly, closing his eyes.

Suddenly, his eyes shot open, his fingers removed from his face. "Elia.I will rescue you, if it's the last thing I do." And with that, he nodded to the Priests, who carried the body of Boga out to be burned, Keja following behind. "Farewell Boga.my brother." And they tossed a lit torch onto the wood they had laid Boga on. Keja closes his eyes, and thought of the day, when all this, would come to an end.