Dragon Rider – Part 49

Dragon Rider

Chapter Eighteen Continued

Reciprocal Damage

They had flown for over an hour in strained silence, as the dusk finally gave way to a black sky pierced by hot white stars.  Underneath them Cities flashed by, their lights shimmering just like the stars above but the air was cold and frosty.  Funestus had given up crying ages ago and was now slumped behind Willow, resigned to his fate.

‘What has got into you?’ shouted Willow in Drake’s ear.

Drake looked at her over his shoulder.  It was hard to hear through the beating of Falkor’s wings.  ‘What?’

‘I can’t believe, after what happened to your father, that you’re sending Funestus to his death.’

Drake shook his head and turned to the front.  ‘We need to get Fenrik.’

‘But like this?  There has to be another way.’

‘This is the way it’s got to be.’  Drake stared resolutely out at the sea of black sky; she didn’t understand and would never understand.

‘You really don’t have to take it out on Funestus-’

‘Are you kidding me?’ he screamed, shifting his weight on Falkor’s back so that he could turn to face her, ‘You’ve got a very short memory.  That git deserves everything he gets.  Don’t forget who’s been helping Fenrik get away with the killings, eh?’

Willow shook her pink head, ‘He’s scared, Drake.  Fenrik has been putting the pressure on him.  People do strange things-’

‘Don’t give me that crap!  There’s no excuse for working for that scumbag!’

‘Well, from where I‘m sitting there‘s not much difference between you and Fenrik.’

‘Whatever!’ he snapped.  How could she compare him to Fenrik?  Disgusted, he turned back to the front and clutched The Emerald Key even tighter to his chest.  He could feel it cold against him, like a great slab of ice.  Drake removed his one hand from the book and slammed the button on his wristwatch.  ‘Gizmo?’

No answer.

‘Gizmo?  Ailsa?’

He hit the button again.  ‘Gizmo?’

Still no answer.

‘Stupid watch!’ he spat.  But Drake couldn’t ignore the heavy, sick feeling of fear that was growing inside him, fighting for domination over the burning anger that also raged there.  There was no pulse, no flicker of life from Gizmo’s system.  Only deathly quiet…

 

Dragon Rider – Part 48

Dragon Rider

Chapter Eighteen Continued

Reciprocal Damage

‘But he’s hurting me…Drake…please?   Look, I hate Fenrik too-’

Drake scoffed.  ‘You’ve been working with him-’

‘No, no.  It’s not like that.  He made me Drake.’  Tears began to stream down Funestus’ face, his eyes pleading, ‘Please let me go.  We can work together, kill him, I’ll do anything!  You can have anything.’

‘I’m not working with you,’ spat Drake, ‘but you can do something for me.’

‘Anything. Anything!’

‘Why did you come here?’

‘To get The Emerald Key for Fenrik…aah!  Tell it to stop, it’s hurting,’ screamed Funestus as Falkor’s claws squeezed his body.

‘Tell the truth Funestus or Falkor will break you in two.’

‘I wanted the Book,’ said Funestus between gulps of air, ‘to get my revenge on that filthy demon-lover.’

‘Fenrik?’ asked Drake, his eyes narrowing as he moved in closer.

‘Yes,’ said Funestus through the torrent of tears pouring down his face, ‘I’m human.  I have no magickal powers.  He’s been using it against me so that I will do whatever he wants.  The Book was my way out-’

‘And Fenrik, what does he want the Book for?’

‘He’s going to put the Book back together, to rule the world with its words,’ sobbed Funestus.  ’He plans to conjure up the Fiery-death from the bowels of Hell to destroy Devilsgate.’

‘Why would he do that?’ asked Willow, speaking now for the first time since Funestus had come to.

‘Because it would get rid of all the humans in one fell swoop-’

‘Then from the ashes, he can rebuild the City and make it pure,’ spat Drake.

‘Exactly,’ said Funestus nodding his head wildly.  ‘And he would be the supreme ruler.  You see now why I have to have that Book?  Why I’ve worked for him all this time so that I can thwart his plans?’

Drake stood up, sure from Falkor’s reactions that Funestus had been, for the most part, telling the truth.  ’Okay, let him go.’

Falkor yawned and relinquished his hold on Funestus.  He hobbled away to munch on a patch of spiky brown grass.

‘Okay,’ said Drake helping Funestus to stand up.  He took in the deep wrinkles on his face, the black and red blotches around his eyes and the wet patch on his trousers.  The guy had aged greatly in the space of a few days.  He almost felt sorry for him.  ‘Why Willow and Gizmo, why not ask the dwarves to help you?’

‘The dwarves?’ asked Funestus, ‘Look at them, they’re useless, they couldn’t even intercept the Hand of Glory!  And besides, they’re Fenrik’s men through and through.  What other options had I got?  I needed to find The Emerald Key before Fenrik did, and when I heard you were back in town, my plan fell into place.  After hearing about your history with Fenrik and with Willow, you were the perfect Faery for the job-’

‘You used me and Gizmo to get to Drake?’ asked Willow.  Oh my God!  Drake, I’m so sorry!’  She glared at Funestus.  ‘You didn’t care about us or the Lost Souls at all!’

Funestus nodded feebly.  ‘I knew you and Gizmo could never get the book on your own, it was the only way-’

And I fell for it, thought Drake.  Of all the stupid, stupid things to do!  Fenrik, I’m coming for you, you son of a –  Drake looked at Funestus and sighed, ‘Okay, this is what’s going to happen; You’re free to go-’

‘Oh thank you!’ said Funestus.  Drake could feel Funestus’ hands trembling as they grasped weakly at his shoulders.

‘But you’re going back to Fenrik-’

‘No!’ Funestus’s shoulders slumped, the trembling in his arms turned into tremors.

‘And you’re not taking The Emerald Key-’

Funestus dived for The Key lying on the grass, but Drake was too quick, pushing Funestus out of the way and on to his knees where he stayed, tears pouring down his face.

‘Drake, come on, enough now.  Look at him,’ said Willow.

‘No.  I want Fenrik,’ he spat, clasping the book to his chest, ‘and he’s going to help me get him.’

‘And we can do it together, please!’ sobbed Funestus, grabbing onto Drake’s legs.  ‘Kill Fenrik, I’ll give you everything, you can have the power held within The Key!’

‘I don‘t want the Book‘s power,’ said Drake kicking Funestus away, his face screwed up in disgust.  ‘You’re going back to Fenrik and you’re going to tell him if he wants the book he’ll have to meet me at the warehouse at 10 pm.’

‘No…don’t make me…Drake?’

‘Don’t worry, ’ sneered Drake, ’I’m sure he’ll treat you in a way you deserve.’

‘Drake!’ exclaimed Willow.

Drake turned and shrugged as Funestus crumpled to the floor sobbing uncontrollably.  ’Please, don’t send me back to him.  He’ll kill me, please!’

Dragon Rider – Part 47

Dragon Rider

Chapter Eighteen Continued

Reciprocal Damage

‘What did you just do?’

Drake spun around to see Willow sitting up, nursing her head like she’d got a hangover, dirt patches smeared over her face.  Impressive, didn’t last long, he thought.  ‘I was just helping Falkor,’ said Drake, not meeting her gaze, knowing that this was not what she was getting at.

‘Did you just drug me with your music?’ she asked, as she jumped up from the floor.

‘How do you know about the music?’

‘What do you think I’m stupid?’ she bellowed, hands on hips.

Drake shrugged.  Something told him that, at some point in the future, he was going to pay for that.  Heavily.

‘Do you think that just because you walked out of my life ten years ago I don’t know anything about you?’

Drake didn’t know what to say.  He looked away.  This wasn’t the time for this conversation, he’d got Falkor to sort out.  But he wouldn’t tell her how bad things were.  He couldn’t.

‘I have been searching for you, getting any information I could, hoping that one day I would find my big brother again!’

He could feel the lump of ice in his chest where his heart should be.  It was choking him from the inside out.

‘I..’ she looked away, her big brown eyes hidden behind her pink fringe, ‘I didn’t know about…your father.  Did Fenrik really murder him?’

Drake nodded.  He wasn’t going to talk about this.  He shrugged and managed a weak, ‘I’m sorry.’

‘For what?’

‘For taking you out with the music.’

‘Hmph!’ fumed Willow as she stomped towards Drake, her eyes blazing with fury.  She smacked him hard on the shoulder.

‘What?’ asked Drake as she stomped past him.  ‘You were collateral damage.’

‘Thanks,’ she snapped.

‘I had to take them out, didn’t I?’

‘Not when I was just about to smack the ugly one again!’

Drake scratched the side of his head.  The ugly one?  He couldn’t see any difference if he was honest.

‘So, how did you know he was working for Fenrik?’ she asked, in a slightly gentler tone.

Drake took a deep breath and steadied himself; he could feel a burning sensation in his limbs, the lactic acid building up in Falkor’s muscles.  ‘I,’ he bit down on the pain, ‘I didn’t for sure, but seeing him, like that, all crazy and with the dwarves, it all kinda fit together.  I suppose, deep down, I always knew.’  But, Funestus was, if he was truly honest with himself, a means to an end.

‘So what’s the plan?’

‘Can you fix Falkor?’ asked Drake, pointing to the gash on his belly.  God, he hoped she had some kind of spell or something; he could feel Falkor weakening at a sickening pace.  ‘It looks quite deep and he’s quite weak.’  He would not tell her just how bad this was.  He couldn’t do that to her.

Willow stooped under Falkor.  ‘It looks nasty.  I don’t know any Healing Spells, I could try the Book of Shadows?’

‘The one you got from Arthur Tinks?’

Willow bit her lip and nodded her head, ‘I know it’s a risk but it’s all I’ve got.’

‘Okay-’  Shit.  Well, if that’s all they had.

‘You’d really let me practice magick on Falkor?’

‘I trust you.’

Willow looked at him with one of those “I’m not buying it” looks that really freaked him out.

‘Okay, so I don’t trust you that much but, like you said, it’s all we’ve got,’ said Drake, shrugging.

‘Thank you for at least being honest,’ she snapped back, shrugging the bag off her back.  Before the bag was off she hit her forehead with the heel of her hand.  ‘I don’t need the book,’ she said, ‘not when I’ve got these!’  She threw her bag to the ground and fetched the leather necklace from around her neck.

‘The mermaid’s tears!’

‘You don’t have to sound so happy,’ she snapped, as she yanked the cork stopper from the vial with her teeth.  She handed the necklace to Drake and he poured some of the shimmering liquid onto her hands.  She rubbed the solution into the palms of her hands before placing them on Falkor’s underbelly and then focused her thoughts upon healing his wound.

A golden light radiated from the tears on her hands, a thin thread of healing magick which penetrated through Falkor’s flesh, knitting his wound back together and making him stronger.  Once she had finished she stepped back and admired her work, a big smile lighting up her face.

Drake could feel the strength return to Falkor’s body, he could feel the magick running through his veins, cleansing both Falkor and himself.  He studied the spot where the wound had been; there was a single white scar running across Falkor’s underbelly which looked as if it had been there years, not a matter of seconds.  Falkor shifted his weight and flexed his wings then shattered the tumbling darkness with a thunderous roar.

‘Wow,’ said Willow studying the afterglow of the tears on her hands.

‘You’ve done a good job, thanks.  He looks as good as new.’

Willow‘s face quickly turned to thunder again.  ‘So what do we do with him?’ she asked, poking at Funestus’ head with her pump.  ‘We should keep him tied up here, let him rot,’ she spat.  ’When I think that he’s the Chief Enforcerer and he’s been helping Fenrik all this time…’  Willow sighed, ’It just makes my blood boil.’

Drake bent down and rolled Funestus’ body over.  ‘I’ve got a better idea.’

Willow stared at Drake, her head tilted and eyes narrowed.  ‘What?’

‘I’m letting him go-’

‘Are you out of your mind?’  Willow grabbed Drake’s shoulder and forced him off the ground.  ‘He’s dangerous-’

‘Hey, relax,’ said Drake putting his palms up, ‘We can use him to lure Fenrik out.’

‘Lure Fenrik out?  We’re not in some stupid action film, this is real life, Drake!  Those kids are depending on us but you’re too messed up in there,’ said Willow jabbing at Drake’s temple with her finger, ‘to care about that.  I know he murdered your father Drake, but your obsession with him is going to get us all killed!’

‘I’m not, listen-’

‘No, you listen.  You have half of The Emerald Key,’ she said pointing to the book, ‘the bit that Fenrik is missing.  Just destroy it!’

‘I can’t do that.  We let him go, then we get Fenrik and you’re problems are over.  For good.’

Willow huffed and shook her head, her arms knitted around her chest.

‘I am going to get Fenrik, with or without you, and I am going to take him down.’  Drake turned away from her, ‘Falkor!’

Falkor grumbled but shuffled forwards to where Funestus lay and clamped his foot around the top of Funestus’ body.

Drake bent down and slapped Funestus on the cheek.  ‘Wake up!’  But Funestus remained asleep, drugged by Drake’s music.  ‘Come on!’ spat Drake smacking him on the cheek again.  He huffed, closed his eyes and tried to steady his breathing.  Now really was not the time to get worked up.

‘Move out of the way!’ snapped Willow, shoving Drake sharply with her arm.  ’You shouldn’t be doing this.  But I suppose you’re going to do it anyway.’  She grabbed her bag and pulled out the scorched Book of Shadows.  ‘Can’t think of a better person to experiment on,’ she said as she flicked through the book’s burnt pages.  ‘Here we go,’ she said, turning to face Funestus.  She uttered a single word.  ’Bregdan.’

Funestus opened his eyes and took a sharp intake of breath like he’d just been dragged out of the water.

‘Nice of you to join us,’ said Drake with a smirk.  ‘I do hope you understand the predicament you’re in.’

Funestus’ eyes were wild, bulging from their sockets, but Drake didn’t know if the fear was due to Falkor or the fact that the effects of the Absinium were wearing off.  Or both.

‘Don’t…hurt me,’ whimpered Funestus, ‘Please, I’ll do anything, but please, don’t-’

‘Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t let Falkor to crush you to death right now.’

‘No!’ screeched Funestus.  ‘You can’t.  Please.  Let me go, we can work this out.’

‘Work what out?’ asked Drake, feigning confusion.

‘Our little problem, you know, Fenrik.’

‘Go on.’

‘Call the dragon off me, I beg you, and we can talk properly-’

Drake smiled.  ‘No.’