Yeesh! Bout time I got this chapter up, eh? Well, anyway, enjoy!

Chapter 4

I'm dreaming.

Weinwyr was standing in a golden field. There were no trees or rocks; just an empty field. The sky was a turquoise blue without a single cloud. He turned around to see if there was any change of scenery behind him. But, the field just stretched on.

What sort of place is this?

His gaze drifted up to the sky.

Everything is so bright…

He seemed to be searching for something.

but where's the sun?

Weinwyr's eyes fell back to the ground.

I have a shadow…

A crunching noise behind him made him whirl around. Before, there wasn't a trace of any life, but in Weinwyr's way was a towering dragon. How he knew it was a dragon, he wasn't sure. Then, his mind drifted back to when he, Calren, and Medren were listening to one of Siâsgl's, the village storyteller, stories.

"Long ago, in the days of the gods, man had just sprung up in the land of Elfen. The god of wood, Pren, created this land, Goedwren, with her magic. She created trees and grass for us to use. Iâ created our snow and glaciers, Mellt clapped his hands together to make our thunder and lightning, Dŵr carved great passages for our water to flow, and- "

"What about Cleddtân? What was their god like?" Calren had asked eagerly.

"I'm getting there, child. Tân, the ultimate god of fire, used his army of dragons to scorch the landscape of Cleddtân."

Medren had looked at Siâsgl and asked innocently, "What's a dragon?"

"A dragon was said to be a large lizard with wings perched on its back. They could breathe fire or use other elements. They came in all sorts of colors and sizes and they only served the gods."

"What happened to all of 'em?" a young Weinwyr chimed in, his silver eyes practically glowing with excitement.

"Some people say they all died. Others might say that they still exist today, in the mountains of Llosfyn. Who knows; perhaps one day you three will meet one."

And there he was, just as Siâsgl said, with a dark green dragon standing before him. It had golden horns jutting out of the back of its skull, worn black claws, and tattered wings. Its eyes were silver.

"Weinwyr. Wake up," it said in a deep voice that echoed throughout the whole landscape.


"Wake up," it repeated.


"You need to open your eyes, Weinwyr," it continued.

But, my eyes are already open. I'm looking at you.

"No. Your true eyes."

My true eyes?

Suddenly, Weinwyr felt as if he were being torn out of the field. The whole golden field disappeared. The sky turned black. He was surrounded by fire. It stank of blood.

Where the hell am I?!

"Weinwyr! Wake up!" The teen's eyes snapped open. He was lying in his bed in the Cantering Ceicyr. Cywar was hovering over him with panic in his amber eyes. Weinwyr pushed himself up and glanced outside the window. An orange glow shone through the glass.

"What's going on?" he asked sleepily.

"Grab your things! We need to leave!" said Cywar urgently, his tail twitching back and forth. Weinwyr got out of the bed and looked outside the window in horror. Buildings were burning. People were screaming. There were many bodies strewn about.

The shocked silver haired teen looked back at Cywar and asked shakily, "What the hell is happening?!"

"Bandits. Cleddtânian bandits have somehow gotten across to Lynach. But, that's not important! We need to leave or our quest will be jeopardized!" Weinwyr nodded and ran to get his things. He quickly slung his bag over his shoulder and grabbed the sword. The two ran out of the building and started to flee the city. Weinwyr didn't want to believe what was happening. Many people were killed trying to run for their lives.

"Who would…?" An explosion cut off Weinwyr's statement. Splinters of wood showered the cidyn and the human, but they kept running.

"Hey! There are two over there!" a gruff voice shouted. Weinwyr heard hoof beats against the earth and assumed the bandits were talking about him and his cidyn companion. He forced himself to run faster, even though he knew he couldn't outrun a horse. But, a ceicyr can!

"Cywar! This way!" the young male called. The amber eyes of the cidyn flashed back and he nodded. Whirling around on his dog-like feet, Cywar sprinted to follow Weinwyr. The two ran to the ceicyr stables to find a man outside them. It was Racheff. "Sir Racheff! What are you doing here?" Weinwyr asked breathlessly.

"Protecting what's important to me," came the answer. Racheff turned to Weinwyr and Cywar and said, "Take two ceicyr and get out of here."

"What about you?"

The older man smiled and said, "I'm going to take the rest of these beasts down south. There's a town there. My home town. The ceicyr'll be safe there." He grabbed Weinwyr's hand. "Come. You'll need mounts." He led Weinwyr and Cywar into the stables and took to ceicyr by the reins. "Get away on these two. There's a Duriân military outpost about a day to the east. Tell them that bandits attacked Lynach."

"We'll be arrested if we even look at the military," Cywar protested. "They'll kill us."

"One of my friends is with the army. His name is Dweir. Just tell him that I sent ya and he'll keep ya safe."

Weinwyr nodded as he mounted his ceicyr. It bucked its dark brown head. "Will you be alright?"

"Of course," Racheff said. "If I can survive a bunch of ceicyr trampling me, I can deal with a couple lowly Cleddtânian bandits." He glanced back at the burning town. Some men on horses were coming toward the stables. His blue eyes flashed and he cried, "Go!"

"Thank you, sir! I won't forget this!" Weinwyr called as he roughly tapped his ceicyr's sides. It galloped forward. Cywar quickly followed on his own ceicyr.

Racheff rounded up the remaining ceicyr in the stables and took off to the south. The bandits on horses reached the stables. "Look, boss! There's a survivor over there!" a man yelled, pointing in the direction of the fleeing Duriân.

"Forget him. We're going after the other two!" the leader shouted back, drawing a sharp, curved blade. "After them!" He swung the sword forward and the rest of the thieves followed his lead. The horses thundered against the earth, pursuing their targets.

Meanwhile, Weinwyr and Cywar were already deep into the forest. The land started to slope upwards into a gentle hill, but the trees were wilder and more dangerous. Branches whipped at the rider's faces, but they continued their breakneck speed, knowing the enemy wasn't too far behind. Eventually, the little hill gradually went down again, and Weinwyr and Cywar burst into a grassy clearing.

Weinwyr glanced behind him. "Did we outrun 'em?" he asked.

"It seems so," answered Cywar. His ears were flattened and his eyes darted quickly back to plains and up to the darkened sky. Clouds gathered to form a dark gray blanket over the sky. Thunder sounded in the distance and rain started to fall slowly.

"I guess now we need to head to that base, huh, Cywar?"

One of the cidyn's ears twitched. "No. We shouldn't freely walk into a military base. We'll be arrested and probably killed. That'll really jeopardize the mission," he said sternly.

"But, Racheff said that—"

"It doesn't matter what he said! I think it's stupidly foolish to hand ourselves over to the Duriân army. We're not going!" Cywar growled angrily. Suddenly his ears perked up. He glared back at the forest. He leapt off the ceicyr and drew the dagger at his belt. "Someone's here." Horses emerged from the trees. The bandits from Lynach caught up to Weinwyr and Cywar.

"Well, well, well! Lookie here! Two foreigners wandering about in Duriâ! What do you think of that Tadlam?" one of the bandits asked.

The other bandit called Tadlam snorted, "It's quite the occasion to kill a Goedwrenian brat and a cidyn dog, Leidgi'r! I think this'll be fun!" The rest of the bandits laughed evilly.

"Shut up, all of you." The gang immediately quieted down as the leader's horse walked forward. The leader was clad in makeshift Cleddtânian armor with various bits of metal and leather jutting out at awkward angles. His face was partially hidden by a helmet, but Weinwyr could see burning brown eyes beneath the shadow of the metal. "What are you doing, trespassing in Duriâ?"

"I could ask you the same question, you Cleddtânian scum," Cywar retorted, fangs bared. His tail flicked to and fro furiously.

"Isn't it obvious? We're bandits; we do what we want and we take what we want. We don't give a damn about borders."

"How did you get into Duriâ?"

The leader guffawed in laughter. "By crossing over Goedwren, of course! We had our fun pillaging their villages, too!"

"What?! You raided my country?!" Weinwyr snarled, leaping off his ceicyr and drawing the blade Cywar had given him. "You… you weasels! I'll kill you!"

"So! You're a local, eh? You ever heard of a village called Farthia?" the leader cackled. Weinwyr's eyes snapped to the leader.

"What did you do?!"

Armor clinked as the leader slid off of his horse. "We looted the town and killed a whole lot of the people. We even burned down the town hall and took their precious golden crest." He pulled the gold plate out of a worn leather bag he wore around his shoulder. "The village head… oh, what was his name… Creffen or something… he got on his knees and begged us to cease the attack. 'We're a peaceful town! Farthia hasn't done anything to Cleddtân,'" the leader mocked. "He even threw us his golden ring as payment." He took the ring out of the bag, threw it on the ground, and spat on it.

"Why, you… I'll gut you like a pig!" an enraged Weinwyr shouted, lunging at the Cleddtânian. The leader pulled out his curved blade and parried the Gwasmelltian steel. "How dare you attack my town! How dare you attack my father!" Weinwyr pushed the scimitar out of the way and brought his own sword down on the bandit's helmet. The metal clanged loudly and the leather split straight through to the skin. The bandit reeled back and threw his hand to his forehead.

"Guh… damn you! You little brat!" the leader snarled, the wound on his forehead bleeding profusely. His eyes burned with rage as he swung his sword at the silver haired teenager. Weinwyr blocked, sending a shockwave of pain up his arm. The barrage continued until Weinwyr's hands and arms were numb. Finally, the bandit scored a hit on his enemy; his blade slashed Weinwyr's leg. He dropped to the ground, so the bandit brought down his sword on Weinwyr's head. However, he was thwarted by Cywar. "Hey! Get out of here, half-breed! This brat picked the fight!"

"I don't care. I won't let him get killed by you, scum," Cywar growled. He shoved the bandit away and asked Weinwyr quickly, "Are you okay?"

"Y-yeah. Fine," Weinwyr lied. He stood, clutching his wounded leg. He raised his sword and said, "I can deal with this lowly pile of filth."

Cywar snorted and said, "I'm not letting you get killed by him, I already said that." He jabbed his dagger at the bandit. "You hear that?"

"Hey! Two on one ain't fair!" the bandit called Leidgi'r said loudly, getting off of his horse and drawing his sword.

"Stand back, you fool!" the leader shouted, waving his sword at Leidgi'r. "These two are mine!"

"Two? Who says you're fighting both of us?" Cywar said with chips of ice in his voice. "I'll take on you and your little party. Just let the boy go free."

"What?! Cywar, you—" Weinwyr started, but was cut off with a sharp glare from Cywar.

"Take the ceicyr and go to that base. I'll be fine." Cywar smiled slightly and said, "Really don't worry." He turned back to the bandits and shouted, "You hear? I'll fight you and you'll let him go! Are we clear?"

The leader nodded and said, "Fine! I swear he'll go free. You and I will have our fun, half-breed!"

Weinwyr glanced at Cywar and back at the bandit. He gritted his teeth in anger. Dammit! Cywar… why are you doing this for me? You're not gonna die, right? The silver haired teen half ran, half limped to the two ceicyr and hopped on one of the beasts. He rapped his heels against the ceicyr's sides sharply and the two creatures galloped away.

"Good. Now at least he'll be safe," said Cywar quietly. He pointed at the bandit leader with his dagger and smirked. "Well, are you ready to die yet, scum?"

Weinwyr had been riding for at least an hour. His leg and his arms throbbed painfully, but he kept going. Gah! This really hurts… but I have to keep going! For Cywar's sake! Eventually he stopped. He saw a small light in the distance. Maybe that's the camp Racheff told me about! He heard galloping from behind him. Horses? The bandit's horses! Cywar… didn't he stop them?! Weinwyr urged his ceicyr to keep going. Suddenly, an arrow flew out of the blanket of rain and struck Weinwyr in the shoulder. He cried out and fell off the galloping ceicyr. He stood and gingerly touched the arrow shaft embedded in his skin. Weinwyr cringed, but he started to limp towards the light.

"Hey! Where do you think you're goin', brat?" came a familiar voice from the darkness. Weinwyr turned to see the face of the bandit captain. He looked a little worse for wear, but still had an evil smirk on his face. Slung over his shoulder was the body of Cywar.

"Cywar!" Weinwyr shouted in dismay. The leader snorted and threw the cidyn into the grass where he lay unmoving. "What did you do?!"

"Well, this half-breed brat thought he could take me and my group. Turns out he bit off more than he could chew. Right, boys?" The rest of the bandits hooted in laughter.

"He's not… dead… is he?"

The bandit leader cackled, "Last I checked, he was!" Weinwyr's eyes widened. He could barely breathe. His body ached. What…? Cywar… is dead? They killed him… THEY KILLED HIM!

"You murdered him, you bastards!" Weinwyr roared furiously. Instantly, his body felt like it was no longer injured. He drew his sword and charged at the bandit leader. The opposition leapt off his horse and blocked the incoming sword. The leader's sword and Weinwyr's clashed, creating a bright shower of sparks.

"Kid, I ought to tell you; that cidyn put up quite a fight. But, it doesn't matter how great you fight if you end up dead," the bandit hissed. He pushed Weinwyr's sword away and stabbed at his side. The silver haired teen deflected the sword, but was still cut in the process. His side bled steadily. The leader pointed his curved blade at Weinwyr's head and said, "I always tell my name to my victims before they die, just so they know who it was who killed them." He raised his sword to the black sky. "I am Golldrus, the leader of the Red Dragons. It was nice knowing you, brat." He brought his sword down.

This is it. I'm gonna die. Cywar's sacrifice was in vain! Dammit! I hate myself…

Weinwyr looked up at the blade. Time seemed to slow down. No. No, no, no, no! It won't end this way! A strong wind suddenly picked up and blew Golldrus and his bandits onto their backs. Weinwyr stood and yelled, "I'm not gonna let it end like this!" Wind swirled around the teenager, picking up little sticks and leaves.

"What the…? Don't tell me… this kid is a Caster?!" Golldrus cried over the howl of the wind. Weinwyr jabbed his sword at the bandit and the wind followed the point. A huge gust sent the Cleddtânian into a front flip. He landed flat on his face. Golldrus glared at Weinwyr and shouted, "Damn you, brat!" Almost as soon as the wind came, it disappeared. Weinwyr fell to his knees, exhausted.

What… happened? I felt like the wind was obeying my commands… but know I just feel dead tired. His wounds throbbed. Damn… my vision's… getting darker… He collapsed onto the springy grass. He heard some victorious shouts, then some shocked cries. Swords clanged and arrows whooshed in the air, cutting through the rain. Hoof beats sounded against the earth. Armor clanked. Everything sounds so muffled… am I dying? He felt himself being lifted off the ground, and he blacked out.