Chapter five: The Art of the Akrakt

A/N: This chapter was written some time ago, but I forgot to post it. Nevertheless, take what enjoyment you can, because the story is going to be rewritten now that I'm a better writer. This was an experiment from way-back-when….you can thank the user 'Lerene' for having me start writing this again.

So, I may or may not change the previous chaps, depending on the results of an upcoming Propoll (Profile Poll, in shattered English), but from the chapter after this and out I will be writing them as best I can in an attempt to salvage this story (for I believe I can). I am currently taking a creative-writing class, so that may help some with this thing.

So until then…enjoy the last chapter by the old Tyrammafar.

Sarah walked down the bustling street as Nef padded beside her, smiling slightly when they passed one of the other Rodkree. She thought of Drek, and decided she wanted to know more about the real dragons, instead of what she had heard in stories.

"Nef, what do you know about dragons?" The rat thought for a moment, his tail flicking behind him.

"Well, there are only six of them left, thanks to the stupidity of humans, and they often live to kill more than a thousand of the wretched beasts." For some reason the way he spoke about humans didn't make her angry. It was true for the most part; humans had hunted them to extinction. "There are two dragons living in this city; Drek the Old and Twilight the Illusionist." Sarah twitched at the mention of the man's name.

"I met Twilight in a tavern. He said he was an Akrakt stuck in elf form." Nef looked up at her with a grim expression.

"Never trust the words of a dragon." He shook his head. "Twilight is a dragon that specializes in illusions, tricks, traps, and the like. He can change his form like a shapeshifter but it is just normal magic, not blood magic. He is one of the more wicked of the dragons, so I hear. Don't trust that one." Sarah nodded. "I know all of them can breathe fire, that is a given. But it is their fault the humans became what they are today. If they hadn't been so careless with their power the humans would be no greater than the ogres these days."

"You know quite a bit about how this all works, don't you?" Sarah asked with a smile. The rat nodded. "What do you know about blood magic? I never learned more than what I needed to stay alive." Sarah made up the story to secure her questions.

"Well, we Rodkree are born to control the natural world, and all of our homes are grown, not made. The Viryss, or lizard-folk, can control energy in its purest forms, and that makes them one of the strongest races, as everything requires energy." He paused for a moment to think. "The dragons, of course, control fire. The silver-elves, which are not as common these days, control the shadows, and they can block the light of the sun if they wish. The gnomes can control water and such things that have a liquid form. Ogres can't use magic at all, mostly because they don't have the mental capacity for it. The common elves don't control much, but they cannot be killed with death magic like we can." He smiled. "But you sun-elves can control all of it, and that's what makes you so hard to come across. The humans did their best to wipe you out, but it looks like they failed, eh?"

"What about the Akrakt?"

"Try and not mention them much, but to answer your question the shifters control the mind and body, anything that has to do with the physical world. They can change what things are and some made a fortune turning lead to gold for the humans." Nef chuckled. "That made them start some stupid myth about a philosopher's stone. Ha! A stone that changes lead to gold! Now a stone that turns copper into gold, that's a whole different matter. I think I have one of those back home, now that I think about it…" He began muttering to himself.

"Well, I never really learned any magic, so I just talk myself out of fights." The rat smiled, snapping his fingers to make a little flame appear in his hand.

"I know quite a few tricks. Before I was knighted I worked as a magician in the Paris tunnel network. The Rodkree there pay quite a bit for a good magic show, as they can't use magic in France. Something about a mineral in the water that cancels it out." The flame vanished. "I could teach you a few little tricks, though most of it is for show. I know a few things that a gnome in London taught me before I hitched a ride on a jet to come here."

"I'd be honored if you would teach me." Sarah had a thought, brought about by his mention of Paris tunnels. "Are there any creatures living in the sewers of New York?"

"There is a massive city under Manhattan, a lizard-folk city called Hirakiamissra. It's long, so they just say 'Hirak'. I've been there once, quite a sight. I think there's a Gate to it here in town."

"A 'Gate'?" Sarah asked, confused.

"You must be from far out in the south." Nef said with a chuckle. "The Gates let us travel between cities without the humans noticing. There is one here that I think goes to the Nexus, and that lets it take you anywhere else that there is a gate." He pointed to a tall white building towards the town's center. "That's the gatehouse, and they don't make you pay a fee anymore to travel."

"I might want to see one of the other cities."

"I would, too…I have been here for a year, and this place is getting boring, but I have a job to do. What with the humans getting ready for another World War, we can prepare to come out of hiding. Supposedly the humans may wipe themselves out, and then the outside will be free to us."

"Another World War? I haven't heard of that…"

"A friend from Asia says that a human invented some strange device, much like our Gates, and he has sold it to a terrorist group. That group plans to use it to attack places all over the world by teleportation."

"That's horrible!"

"Aye…I wish they were a bigger group so they would kill themselves faster." Sarah swallowed, wondering why Nefrol hated humans so much.

Vedren

Vedren moved silently between the trees in the zoo's enclosure, enjoying the cool night air on his fur. He used his wolf form the most often, and it was perfect to enter this place. Banpol was a small city, but a wealthy man had donated a very large sum of money to have the zoo put up, and checks still came in from him to keep it open. No one knew why, but he had seen to it that there was a huge enclosure with a wolf pack in it, set up like the natural environment.

The pack of dark grey wolves assembled slowly, and Vedren noticed that many were missing. Only eight of them were old enough to speak. "Akrakt Vedren." The alpha male said quietly, nodding his head. Vedren nodded back. It was a well known fact that wolves were smarter than the humans believed, and this made them the perfect allies. Unfortunately they were in a zoo, but they were his best agents in the outside besides himself and the strays of the town.

"Kiliiv, have you seen the signs?" Vedren asked slowly, keeping his voice low so the other creatures wouldn't hear.

"I have, shifter, and all of it bodes ill." The alpha, Kiliiv, growled to his right side, a young wolf with a grayed and blind eye stepping forward. "Bulond has seen more than I."

"Forgive me; I have never met one of your kind." The wolf said quickly, blinking his one good eye.

"We are very rare now, and the humans are hiding our existence very well."

"I'm sorry." The wolf coughed, looking up at the sickle moon. "Three nights ago I received word about a vampire attack in the north from a migrating bird, led by the one called Friam." Vedren nodded. It was typical of the old vampire to do such a stupid thing as start the uprising early. He had always been a little impatient. "This attack was not documented by the humans.

"The next thing was actually four nights ago, when I heard from one of the humans that a large truck is coming to this city in the next few days, carrying something dangerous. A wild animal they said, for the zoo, but I doubt they would keep just any normal animal in an electrified cage filled with a sleeping gas. It's just not rational, even for humans. And the metal it's in is not steel, but titanium alloy, the ones that resist all things, even diamond." One of the other wolves interrupted, growling to get attention.

"I have heard this as well." He said, looking very frightened. "From what I've heard…it could be a manticore." Vedren's heart skipped a beat. Even Akrakt feared the beasts known as manticores, the hunters of all creatures, mundane and magical. The man-tiger, the scorinian beast…and if one was coming to a small town like this it meant trouble…and lots of death.

"That is nonsense!" The alpha snarled. "The manticores died out long ago, it can't happen."

"We have to consider it, Alpha." Bulond said loudly, quickly dropping his voice when he realized this. "If it is true…everything will be in grave danger. Not even I would wish the humans to meet their fate by the claws and spikes of a manticore. No creature deserves that agony…"

"The young one is right." Vedren said. "We must make preparations. It will be hard to take it out, if it is being brought here…but why? Why is it being brought to such an out-of-the-way place?"

"Friam or one like him must be behind it." Another wolf said. "Personally I think it is that old werewolf, Lunaris."

"Lunaris is dead." Vedren said. "I killed her myself in the last battle."

"We have heard differently." The alpha said, the others silent. "We have heard that the bitch is still alive, hiding somewhere in the north. She would try and get the humans to fall early, if anyone, and she has the resources overseas to bring a manticore in."

"Enough." Vedren called. "We must prepare for the worst, it seems. History is doomed to repeat itself…we try to kill the humans and we end up hurting ourselves…"