- 7 -
James stepped forward into the clearing that had been made by curious bodies. "I call her second."
"Fine." Igor said. He glanced behind him at a very strong looking man. "Are you a rider?"
The man stuttered. "Yes but…"
"You're my second." He looked back at Tayten. "Name your weapon."
She looked wildly around for a moment. "Blades." At once she was handed a short sword while Igor pulled out a long knife and one of his buddies handed him a set of throwing knives.
A scream from the sky drew their attention upward for just a moment as Kijorn and Kinjik clashed together once again in a mass of wings and claws.
"Idiot dragons." Igor hissed.
That was the cue. Tayten lunged forward with a weapon she had never really used before. Ever so effortlessly, Igor stepped aside, sticking one foot to trip his opponent. Of course, Tayten went down, but rolled until she was right again. She stood, trying to get a feel of the sword in her hand. Igor grinned at her, throwing one of the knives. She tried to move out of the way, but the small blade sliced her shoulder.
"What makes you think you could possibly take me on?" Igor hissed, stepping closer to her, everything about him threatening. "Here, I'm good with blades, so. Why don't you give that pretty sword back and we'll fight hand to hand?" With a smile, he tossed his short blades to the side, a grin on his face.
In the sky, Kijorn roared in pain as Kinjik bit into his stomach. The little dragon did not know how to fight. He had no skill, no ideas as to how to get the better of his more experienced opponent. His trust went into his instincts. Instead of complicated twists that may not have even worked, he shrank to a size that easily fit into the other dragon's jaws. With a hiss, the little beast started to tear at the dragon's mouth, attacking anything within reach.
Startled and confused, Kinjik opened his mouth. Taking a chance, Kijorn flew out of the other beast's jaws only to latch onto his neck. Low growls rumbled from Kijorn and he grew again, this time giving himself size and weight to make his tearing at Kinjik's sides all the more effective.
Kinjik, in a blind rage, reached back, grabbed Kijorn and tore him off his body.
"You hurt Saojra!" Kijorn screamed, his voice the roaring dialect of dragons. "In turn you hurt Tayten!"
The older dragon smiled just as viciously as his would be rider. "Your trust is misplaced in her. Humans are not worth what we do for them." Grasping the struggling young dragon, Kinjik once again sank his fangs into Kijorn's soft belly.
She could not physically feel it, but Tayen knew the pain Kijorn was feeling. Fury blinded her. She could not hear Igor's words, she did not really care. All she wanted was to cause as much pain to him as she could before she or her beloved dragon fell. Not knowing what she was doing, she tossed her sword to the side and ran straight for Igor, her hands balled into what were probably useless fists.
Igor sighed when Tayten started running at him. For years ritters were trained to fight, to duel. There was nothing she could do to beat him, him and the training he had enjoyed so much. Gritting his teeth he grabbed her by the hair when she ran by him. He made sure he had a hold on her before he gently put his hand around her throat, slowly starting to strangle her.
She glared up at him, kicking out with her feet. With one either well aimed or random kick, she hit his knee cap.
There was a sharp intake of breath and he let her go. Snarling, his hand reached out for her again, hungry to feel the soft flesh start to shake under his grasp again. At once she bit his hand as hard as she could. Pain lanced up his arm. With a cry he lunged for her, refusing to allow a little untrained, untried, sloppy girl beat him. Once his hands found her body he used his weight to bring her to the ground. As soon as she was flat, he smacked her hard once before both his hands wrapped themselves around her throat. Every time she tried to struggle he would smack her again, each time harder than the one before it.
"Tayten!" James cried. He stepped forward, stopped by Adia, who was close to tears.
"You can't step in." She said, "Not until Tayten is dead."
The other Tracker snarled, shoving his hands angrily into his pockets.
"Yes James, just stand back. Watch her die. Just like you watched your sister die." A voice hissed in his ear.
James turned to see his old roommate, a man he knew was a follower of Igor. For years hate had burned between the two, neither of them really knowing why. But now it could all be unleashed. With a snarl, James spun on his old roommate, his fists flying. In an instant, the area that had circled Igor and Tayten exploded into a mass fight. Anyone and everyone who did not like each other started to trade blows, antagonized people loyal to Igor for way too long.
"Get off me!" Tayten gasped as she tried to pull air into her lungs. In a desperate attempt to get Igor off her, she threw one punch at his eyes. He fell off her with a cry of surprise, holding his hands to his face as if he was scared she had knocked something out. When she got to her feet she was stunned at the commotion around them. Panicked, she dropped to her knees to take Taiyls' unconscious body in her arms, protecting it from the chaotic warfare that had broken around them.
"Tayten!" Another voice screamed. She looked up and saw Kijorn flying straight at them. Blinking, she stumbled to the side, out of his way, her arms still securely around the blonde. Instead of going to her, the small, bleeding dragon attacked Igor. The man had calmed about his face long enough to find his knife again
Her little dragon did not care about the knife in the man's hand, all he cared about was getting him away from his Tayten. He extended his claws, sinking them into Igor's skin only to rake them in any direction that would bring the weapons to more sensitive places.
"Kijorn, get out of here, now!" Tayten cried. She was more aware of everything around them, she saw what was coming.
The dragon looked up, let out a roar, and flew away at the sight of Kinjik diving towards him. Once he was clear of the riotous people in the square, he grew, using a massive wingspan to outfly Kinjik.
The other dragon struggled to follow him as well as avoid the four new dragons that were flying on his tail. All together, they rose into the sky, their roars and screams deafening the island. In the air, the four trailing dragons split up to come at Kinjik from different directions while Kijorn had no choice but to engage the more experienced dragon on his own, as bait. Bait that tore at Kinjik at every opportunity. Sometimes the other dragons were be able to tear them apart so they could engage the crazed beast. There were even times when all four pursuing dragons were clawing at their enemy. These times never lasted long, always interrupted by the rare dragon that supported Igor's ideals.
Tayten watched on the ground, her arms clutching Taiyls and her teeth digging into her lip out of fear for Kijorn.
"Your dragon is going to die you little bitch." Igor hissed. She whirled around, dropping Taiyls to look at him. Somehow, he had found his knife and his way back to her. "And as he falls, he will know that you have died as well."
The young woman looked at him, all her fear was draining away. She knew this was going to be the moment she was going to die. It was a fact, but she was not going to go down without a fight. She shifted herself into what she could only assume was a fighting stance. As Igor jumped forward to attack her she was surprised by the sudden, paralyzing pain in the back of her head. The last thing she remembered was the chaos of the people around her and dragons falling into the water as darkness took over her vision.
She faded in and out of consciousness. When she was aware, it was only for a moment or two before she faded back out. There were times when she heard voices calling to her, and there were times when there was screaming. Once she almost woke up to the sound of someone beside her crying. The final time she came around her eyes opened to four figures standing around the bed she had been placed in.
"Why is everyone so quiet?" She looked around at her friends. "It isn't like any of you."
They all let out a collective breath. Taiyls was at her side almost instantly, looking exhausted. She did not say anything, she just looked at Tayten, a glitter in the depths of her cool eyes, her hand running itself gently through her hair.
"We did not want to wake you. After the first time you woke up want fell back we figured that if you were sleeping, you needed to sleep." She said, her fingers caressing Tayten's face, which was sore beyond belief.
Tayten stared at Taiyls, concern growing in her. She could see numbing pain throbbing in the gaze. "What happened?" She asked.
She shook her head. "Nothing you need to know right now. Lovely, you have only been out for three hours. Igor beat you up pretty good."
"Tayten, she is right. You can't see yourself." Whispered Adia softly, sadness covering her face for the first time since Tayten had known her,
The ritter frowned at both of her rider friends. She could not move her hands to touch her face, but she still left Taiyls' soft touches. Looking over at her lover she sighed.
"My face is black and blue isn't it?"
Taiyls smiled at her. "You're beautiful Tayten. But I can see it in your eyes, you need to sleep."
Tayten attempted to give her a look. "You need to sleep too."
"I have things to do." She protested.
"So do I." Was Tayten's reply. "Please?"
The blonde woman looked at her for a long time before she let out a low sigh. "Fine, I'll sleep."
Now Taiyls smiled at her. "I would not have agreed if I had not assumed that was where I was going to sleep."
"Maybe we should leave." James said to the two remaining friends.
"But, I…" Shae and Adia both protested.
James rolled his eyes and dragged them out of the room.
Taiyls carefully moved onto the bed Tayten was on, carefully draping her arm over the other's waist. She nuzzled Tayten's ear, a smile on her lips.
"I missed you so much." She whispered, her words slurring with the need for sleep. "That whole time, since day one, I just wanted to fly back, or have Saojra contact you, just to see how you were doing."
Tayten snickered and then whimpered with pain in her ribs. "I missed you too. We can catch up when we wake up."
They woke up slowly after a few hours of peaceful dozing. At some point they had switched positions, now Tayten had her arms around Taiyls, apparently just hold her without having weight put on her beaten body. For awhile they just laid there, enjoying the feeling of being close to each other once again.
"Taiyls, I think we should go see the dragons." Tayten whispered softly.
The other woman froze. Slowly, she pulled herself out of Tayten's arms to look into her battered face. "Trust me Tayten; you don't want to see them for a while."
"I… I passed out because Igor's beast attacked Saojra. Our connection is so strong that her mental pain overpowered me. She is…incredibly beaten up, and Kijorn is the one who actually fought Kinjik."
Tayten looked at her for a long time, studying her, trying to gauge her facial expression and tone. "What do you remember of what happened before you passed out?"
"The last thing I remember…" Taiyls closed her eyes, trying to think back and remember what had happened before all the pain. "I had just gotten home, we were kissing and you were about to say something." The startling blue eyes that took Tayten's breath away opened and turned to her. "What were you trying to say?"
"It's not important." Forcing a smile, she changed the subject. "What is going to happen to Igor and Kinjik?"
The rider narrowed her eyes suspiciously at Tayten. "Well, Kinjik will be questioned by dragons to find out why he attacked Saojra. Igor, I'm pretty sure, is going to go on trial."
Outside the window to the room, which Tayten had just come to realize was Taiyls' room, a bell started to ring. Taiyls slipped from the bed just as her phone went off with a text. She snatched it from the bedside table to look at it.
"Kinjik has been tried. He is guilty for attacking Saojra without just cause but he claims neglect from Igor. He is going on trial right now." She looked over at Tayten. "I know you hurt, but do you want to go see Igor's trial?"
Tayten's face hardened and she could feel herself go cold. The man neglected his dragon, turned others against theirs, split up friends, and was simply nasty. In Tayten's mind, it was his fault that Saojra had been attacked, bringing Taiyls pain. To her, this was not acceptable.
"I will go."
Taiyls smiled softly at her, offering her a hand. "Alright then."
With Taiyls supporting Tayten, they slowly made their way to a building that was used as a gathering place for speeches and trials. They were one of the last ones in, but Adia, James, and Kyle had saved spots at the front for them. Once everyone settled into their seats, five people dressed in nice suits walked out, followed closely by a chained Igor and a vicious looking dragon the size of a small horse behind him. The people in suits sat in chairs against a wall that faced the audience while Igor simply stood before them.
"Igor," the man in the very middle said, his voice deep and growling while Taiyls explained that no one had last names on the island. "You are being charged with dragon neglect, conspiracy against the island, prostitution, and fighting unfairly in a challenge."
A woman beside the man looked through papers. "Pleas against you come from the dragon who followed you, Kinjik, over a hundred conspiracy witnesses, twenty women claiming you bribed them to sleep with you, and three saying you fought unfairly against a new arrival to the island." She looked over her papers at him. "First, the report we obtained from Kinjik. He claimed that you had not come to see him in months choosing instead to laze around your apartment, visit other people's dragons, or in some cases do nothing at all. You have not even taken the time to say hello to him on six weeks.
"Next, we have a startling number of reports continually claiming that you talk to riders, telling them to enslave their dragons as lesser beings and use them as beasts of labor. Even worse, some of the people who work with smaller dragon, you tried to convince them to kill them and try to find larger ones, preferably warriors. We have quotations from people, and dragons, that quote you." Her eyes scanned the print before her briefly. "This leads us to believe you were going to try to start a revolt against us. But that is not part of this trial. For now we are just touching upon what you have done. This leads us to prostitution.
"Twenty women have come to us, putting in reports that you tried to bribe them into sleeping with you. Some of them say you promised them gold, others money, some of them you promised ships or places of power. One, who does not happen to be a rider, you promised her someone else's dragon." Again the woman put down her papers to look squarely at Igor as if he were something disgusting that should not have been allowed anywhere near her.
"The last complaint against you is the unfair fight you conducted with the new Tayten. Witnesses say she challenged you, called for blades and fought you. They then say you said that you both should throw away your blades. She did, you did, but then you picked yours up again."
Igor raised his head slightly and Tayten could see bloody bandages all over his face.
"Yes, I did pick the knife back up, but her dragon had attacked me. That is unfair." He protested.
A little man at the edge of the chairs stood up, laughing softly. "Igor, in a battle between dragon riders, or any singular person who has a singular dragon following them, a dragon may step in at any moment to try to defend their rider."
Now Kyle stood up. "Sir, I saw Kijorn attack Igor. Moments later, Kinjik followed Kijorn and chased him away from the accused man."
The people on the line of chairs nodded in understanding of what Kyle had said. Silence had fallen over the crowd and the man in the middle of the chair people stood up. Everyone started holding their breath in anticipation.
"Igor, you have heard the pleas against you, we have told you the numbers in which the pleas had come in and we have countless witnesses. There is no way for you to plead innocence. You will be held here until the Council can come to a conclusion as to what to do with you."
The sneer on Igor's face was sickening as the riders started to file out of the building, everyone mumbling under their breath.
"Well, it looks like I got here at the wrong time."
Taiyls, Tayten, and Adia all looked up, surprised to see Ben standing just outside the building. His arms were crossed over his chest as he watched the people.
"Fijath wanted to get here in a hurry. He said something interesting was going on." The man sighed. "It isn't his power, to know what is going on, but he does have an odd sense about what is up."
There was something about the way Ben stood, the way he spoke that made the riders all nervous. Impulsively, James put his hand on Shae's shoulder, his eyes glued to Ben as if he was going to try something.
"So, if that is not Fijath's power, what is?" Tayten asked softly.
"Speed." Ben said coolly, smiling. "No one can beat him. Apparently he has traveled the world to try to find someone who could. Speaking of which..." He looked up as the dragon they were talking about made his way to the ground in tight circles.
"Greetings." The dragon said to the group of riders.
They all looked at him with different expressions of confusion. None of them had thought he would have spoken kindly to them.
"Good day to you Fijath." Adia replied, hoping her confusion was somewhat hidden.
There was shouting through the doors of the building. All the riders, save Tayten who was in pain, turned in time to see Igor wrestling not only with a guard but with the dragon that had been tailing him. Considering his opponents, he was doing extremely well. As the dragon bit down on his middle to grab him, the man's face twisted into a snarl and he pulled a knife from his boot, slicing the dragon's throat.
"Excuse me." Ben whispered to them politely. He slipped away from them to run at the guard who was wrestling with Igor.
Stunned, all the riders could do was watch as Ben took over the guard, allowing Igor to run free. Once the man made it out of the doors, Kyle and James flew at him with dominant male roars. Neither of them were armed, both of them received knife wounds from the desperate Igor. Next, Taiyls and Adia ran after him. Before the could lay their hands on his flesh, Ben ran from the building, tackling both of them to the ground.
"Get on the damn dragon, Igor!" Ben shouted at him as he struggled with the very feisty Adia.
Igor needed no other command. He jumped onto Fijath's shoulders.
"Fly!" He snarled at the beast.
Stubbornly, Fijath stayed rooted to the ground, a soft keening come from his vocals.
"I said fly!" Igorn scream. Impatient, he took out his blade and plunged it into Fijath's flesh.
A terrible cry came from the dragon and only now did more panicked riders start showing up to try to help with the situation. Confused, pleading, and hurting, Fijath had no choice but to take off, his confusion making him leave those who would have helped him. Once he was in the sky dozens of dragons lifted themselves to try to chase him down to get the fugitive on his back. It was obvious that the dragon was panicking. Fear took over his mind, making him fly hard, far, and fast, leaving all the others behind to the point where there was no hope in catching up.
"Tayten!" to Tayten's surprise, she saw Kijorn running towards her. "Did he hurt you again?"
"No but…" Tayten looked over when a shout went up. In the chaos that was Igor leaving, the fight between Taiyls, Adia and Ben had gotten progressively worse. Now Adia lay unconscious and Taiyls had stepped up to take her place. Ben was holding her by the throat, squeezing her life from her. Many other riders were trying to pull Ben off her, but she had apparently done damage to him that deserved a need for him to kill her.
Kijorn looked over at the scene and shrieked with rage. Though Taiyls was not his, she all but belonged to Tayten. Blinded, the dragon flew at Ben, his claws and teeth bared completely. The moment he hit Ben's soft flesh, he stared tearing at him.
Cries of agony ripped from Ben as Kijorn tore flesh from his bones. It was over in seconds, and when it was Kijorn lifted his head, blood running down his hide in rivers. When he looked over at Tayten and the gasping Taiyls, they were stunned to find his eyes bright red.
"I'm going to kill him." He said confidently. "I am going to kill the man who did this."
"We have people do that, who are trained to do that." Taiyls said softly, rubbing her throat as she moved to put her arm around Tayten. "We have people who will find him and kill him."
Kijorn opened his mouth and hissed at her, then at the people around him. "I do not care! I will be the one to kill him."
"You do not have the right." A random rider in the crowd pointed out.
Again, Kijorn hissed, this time growing very large, making everyone back up. "I claim the right now! He wronged my people, he beat my rider to the point where she cannot stand without help, it was because of him that my rider's love was almost killed twice." He stretched his neck to look at the rider who had challenged him. "What did he do to you? Break a promise? Make you look like a fool?" His hiss was vicious, but the rider met his gaze. "He did not threaten your life. The right to kill him is mine."
This time, no one argued.