Dragon Rider – Part 61

Dragon Rider

Chapter Twenty-Two

Fenrik “the Spider” Lasko

Drake felt like he would break if he tried to move, but he had to.  He could see, out of the corner of his badly swollen eyes, that the Emerald Key was lying precariously on the edge of a great bubbling fissure.  Fenrik had seen it too, Drake could see his bulky frame charging through the debris as he raced to get the book, shielded spasmodically from view by the bright flashes of Willow’s magick as it pulsed at the Shadow Walkers.

‘No!’ he tried to scream at Willow, ‘Get out of here!  GO!’

He could see Vigor’s essence dancing frantically through the flames, screeching as it struggled to survive without a body.  But there was no sign of Falkor, or Gizmo.

Drake closed his eyes, clenched his teeth, and dug into the last of his reserves as he dragged his broken body off the floor.  He pulled the broken Zephyr from his back and, knowing this would be it, that this would be the last living thing he ever did, he raced through the scorching heat towards the book.

His heart beat wildly, dancing in his chest along with the pain and his rattling breath.  And despite that pain, he jumped over Funestus’ body and leapt through a wall of flames, just as Fenrik reached the book.

Fenrik stood tall, his black eyes blazing with fire.  ’You’re too late.  The book is mine now!’ he snarled, like a wolf protecting a kill.  ’Devilsgate will be mine and no more will our kind be under attack from the likes of your father or the humans.’  Fenrik spat on the floor.  ’I will crush them,’ he said, squeezing his huge hand into a fist, ‘bring them to their knees and they will have freedom no more!’  He stooped to pick up the book.

But Drake had anticipated the move.  He flung himself on the floor, his broken body screaming in pain as he landed hard on the concrete.  He threw the Zephyr across the floor, its broken body scraping across the surface of the concrete like a de-railed train, and it fell into the gaping mouth of the fiery fissure, dragging The Emerald Key with it.

Fenrik might take Drake’s life, but there was no way he was going to allow Fenrik the pleasure of owning the Emerald Key.  If this was all he could do to repay Willow, then, he would do it.  And in this last act of his Godforsaken life, he would prove that he was nothing like Fenrik.

‘NOOOO!’ screamed Fenrik as the book began to tip over the edge.  He reached over to grab the book, to stop it from falling into the fiery pit but he was too heavy and he toppled in after it.

Both Fenrik and the book plunged into the abyss.  There was a scream, a gigantic boom and the whole of the City began to shake as the energy in the Book exploded into a million pieces.  Brilliant white sparks of energy fizzed into the night’s sky, like giant sparklers, and there was screeching and terror as the vermin that had been conjured by Fenrik were sucked back down into the hole.

But Drake couldn’t see what was happening, his eyes were blinded by the light, his muscles were screaming out in pain, his body was shutting down.

Drake smiled; Fenrik was dead.

Death could take him now.

And the darkness finally engulfed him.

 

 

 

Dragon Rider – Part 60

Dragon Rider

Chapter Twenty-Two Continued

Fenrik “the Spider” Lasko

Fenrik loomed over him, his bulky frame silhouetted against the flames.  ‘The dragon’s dead.’

‘No,’ muttered Drake.  He tried to drag himself off the floor, panic flowing through his body, his eyes frantically searching for Falkor.

‘Don’t bother looking, he’s over there,’ said Fenrik with a quick flick of his head.  ‘Don’t worry, I will make sure we use every last part of him.’  Fenrik grinned, showing a mouthful of perfectly white fangs.  ‘It’s been a long time since we could harvest dragon parts.  I might even keep a token for myself, a claw, a tooth, or maybe his heart.  No, I will take his head.’  He stooped down closer to Drake.  ‘Let me see, the last dragon we took down was a Rapid Red I seem to recall.  It was ridden by another Dragon Rider.’  He extended his hand to Drake’s face and traced the Devil’s Mark with his thumb.

Drake shook as Fenrik ran his hairy thumb across his skin, he could feel the pure evil penetrating into him, cold and hard like Fenrik himself.

Fenrik studied Drake, his eyes shrouded under the thick canopy of his eyebrows.  ‘So what do I do with you?  Do I let my Demons rip you apart like I did with your father? Or do I lock you up somewhere and watch you slowly go mad because your dragon is dead?’  He smiled broadly.  ‘If I had any humanity in me I would give you a knife now, let you commit suicide, save the suffering, but I don’t,’ he said, running his broad hand through Drake’s matted hair.  ‘Or I could crack your skull now, like a nut.  But where would the fun be in that?’  He grabbed Drake’s hair tightly in his hand and yanked him off the ground.

Nausea consumed Drake as his broken body was hoisted in the air.

‘Come with me,’ said Fenrik pulling Drake by the hair, ‘your kind have got so much to answer for.  You father thought he could take me down, killed Vigor in the process, but he was stupid, stupid to think he could defeat me!’  He shoved Drake roughly up the window of Louis’ Restaurant, the glass cracked across the window pane like a huge spider’s web.  ’Maybe I should use you instead of Funestus to bring Vigor back?’  He turned his head to look at Funestus.  ‘Your body is younger and fitter, but could I,’ he said, turning back to look at Drake, ’stomach seeing that Devil’s Mark every day?’

Drake mumbled under his breath as he slid to the pavement.

‘What?’ said Fenrik dragging Drake off the floor by his hair and pushing him up the window again, ’What did you say?’  He smacked Drake’s face hard.

Blood splattered over Fenrik and onto the floor.  Drake could hear the excited shrieking of the Shadow Walkers as they smelt fresh blood being spilt.  They were close now, too close.

Fenrik huffed.  ’You’ve got blood all over my suit.’  He stared at Drake quietly.

Drake held his stare and looked deep into those brooding eyes filled with hate and evil.  He was right, Drake thought, there was not a shred of humanity left in him.  Fenrik was cold, calculated and consumed with hatred and whatever else happened, Drake knew he meant every word of what he said.

Was Willow right?  Was Drake really like this evil before him?

‘No,’ said Fenrik, finally breaking the silence.  ‘I have worked for too long on my plan to destroy this City.  You destroyed the Fiery-death?  I’ll summon him again,’ he said shrugging, ‘maybe use your friend, what’s his name?  Gizmo, yes.  He would really suffer, he’s thin, has weak bones, the pain would be tremendous.  Or that pink-headed girl?’  Fenrik grinned broadly, but it never reached as far as his eyes.

Drake spat at Fenrik, it was all he could do.

Globules of red spit trailed down Fenrik’s nose and chin.  Holding Drake firmly with only one hand, Fenrik whipped a silk handkerchief from his pocket and wiped the spit away.  ‘We’ll do Gizmo first, then the girl and you can have a ringside seat.  Then once I’ve done that, I will personally make sure you keep your eyes open whilst I tear your dragon limb from limb-’

Drake took a gulp of air and pushed the pain, down, deep inside him.  ‘GODDAMN YOU FENRIK!’ he roared.

Fenrik smiled.  ’He already has.  But what to do with you?  That is the question.  As much as it would be a great revenge on your father to use you as the vessel for Vigor’s essence, I couldn’t do that to Vigor, he’d hate being stuck in your body,’ said Fenrik grimacing.  ’I thought I had had my revenge on your father for what he did to Vigor, turns out the greatest revenge is yet to come.  You will stay alive for as long as I want you alive, you will sit and watch as Devilsgate is destroyed around you and everyone you love or care for is taken with it.  I shall sit and watch as you slowly grow mad and then, when I finally get bored, I shall let Vigor finish you off.’

Fenrik let Drake drop, like a lump of lead, to the floor.

Dragon Rider – Part 59

Dragon Rider

Chapter Twenty-Two

Fenrik “the Spider” Lasko

The journey home was swift.

And now a new fire blazed deep within the pit of Drake’s stomach.  He had to put an end to Fenrik “The Spider” Lasko and his freaky brother Vigor Mortis.

For good.

Devilsgate was pock-marked with flames, blazing bonfires of vehicles, shops and public buildings lighting up the City like beacons, connected by deep pulsating veins of white-hot lava.  It was as if Fenrik was turning the world inside out and the bowels of hell were spewing out onto the City’s streets along with the vermin that lived there.  It looked like Hell, and in the midst of the Hellfire stood Fenrik, still hunched over The Emerald Key, his black eyes flicking over the archaic symbols contained within it, his voice rising and falling as he recited its incantations, like a monk at morning prayer.

Drake and Falkor didn’t even bother to camouflage themselves in the thick smoke; Fenrik was far too preoccupied even to notice the spectral shimmering of the Shadow Walkers descending upon him, attracted by the blood of the circle and the archaic magick.

‘What the hell is he doing?’ asked Drake.  On the pavement, in the middle of the circle, he saw something move.  A blonde-haired human in the foetal position and it seemed to be writhing in pain.

‘Funestus!’  What could Fenrik possibly be doing with Funestus?  And then his eye was drawn to another body on the pavement, arranged neatly in a muslin bandage up to its neck on a small wooden pyre, like a body prepared for cremation.  ‘Vigor?’

Drake gagged as Vigor’s mouth split open.  A scraggy cat-like creature emerged from it, its taloned hands clamping on the jawbone and yanking it apart with a sickening crack.  This was what remained of Vigor’s essence, the small part of Vigor that Fenrik had managed to save from the grave and Fenrik was using The Emerald Key’s ancient magick to liberate it from its rotting carcass so it could possess Funestus.

And Drake had delivered Funestus straight to Fenrik delirious and completely unable to fight back!  What had he done?

Drake grabbed his Zephyr from his back and began to play.  But the music was lost to the roaring flames and Fenrik’s otherworldly chants.

‘Damn you Fenrik!’ roared Drake, placing his Zephyr on his back.  He and Falkor dived towards the ground, their bodies streamlined together like a giant torpedo, the sky exploding with Falkor’s battle-cry.  Fenrik continued the ritual, completely unaware of Drake, his mind completely transfixed.

Drake reached out as far as he could and struck one of the corners of The Emerald Key.  The magick connection between The Key and Fenrik splintered as it was forced from Fenrik’s hands, and a great bolt of energy, a sliver of partial magick, connected with Drake and Falkor.  It surged through Drake’s body like an electric shock, throwing him clean off Falkor’s back.  He landed hard on the floor, unable to control his convulsing body.  His Zephyr lay beneath him, broken in two.

The Emerald Key flew through the air, its pages flicking and twitching as if it were alive.  The ground shuddered as it crashed to the floor with a thunderous boom, the concrete fracturing around it as the energy within it dispersed.  The fractures began to open up, to splinter the earth’s surface and connect with those magicked by Fenrik, the hot spurts of lava bubbling within them, waiting to claim the book’s secrets.

Out of the corner of his eye, Drake could see movement in the flames, the grotesquely beautiful shimmering of the Shadow Walkers as they advanced, unhindered, now that the archaically powerful magick had been disrupted.  He knew he had to move; he had to get away from the Shadow Walkers and he had to reach The Emerald Key before Fenrik, but he couldn’t make his body work.  He was like a boulder, heavy and immobile.

And then Drake felt a red-hot pain in his stomach.  He gasped for air as Fenrik rammed his foot into his stomach for a second time, the blow robbing him of almost every last drop of breath in his lungs.

‘Falkor?’ croaked Drake.  Where was he?  He really needed him.

Dragon Rider – Part 58

Drake closed his eyes but the scorching heat still lingered underneath his eyelids.  He felt himself being flipped backwards as Falkor somersaulted in the air and accelerated away from the Fiery-death.  Suddenly he plummeted to the ground, his blackened tail between his legs.

The sky shook as the Fiery-death, incandescent with rage, responded with a Hell-shaking roar.  He dived after Falkor, leaving a trail of blazing fire in his wake.

Drake looked back; he could see the demon was following them, its desire to kill blazing in its eyes.  He pulled Falkor back a little, they needed the Fiery-death to catch up with them if his plan was to work.  It was essential to tease their enemy, to play on this desire for the kill.

In a matter of seconds, the Fiery-death was on their tail; Drake could feel the heat biting at his neck.

He turned to see the monster’s jaws open, its blazing fangs ready to strike.  He dug his heels into the side of Falkor and the dragon accelerated just as the Fiery-death snapped at his tail, its jaws missing the tip by a matter of centimetres.

Falkor threw his body to the right and then accelerated away, the Fiery-death followed after him, intent on the kill.

This game of cat and mouse continued as they flew across the compact mass of skyscrapers and civic buildings to the outskirts of the City, the hunter tight on the heels of its prey one minute, whilst the next, the Fiery-death’s quarry was racing away like a gazelle leaping from the jaws of a lion.

And as each minute passed, with every beat of their wings, the Fiery-death became frenzied, his body and mind becoming more of a slave to his desire to kill.

It was this lust for the kill that Drake needed to exploit.  Like an angler fish, he reeled the Fiery-death in, dangling himself and Falkor as bait, knowing that every second that passed would take them closer to the goal, to where the fight would turn in their favour.  It only took one moment, one split second for the tables to be turned, for the scales to be unbalanced, and that time was near.

A jagged bolt of lightning stabbed the sky, its pure energy focused on a tree that stood forlorn and bare on the banks of a reservoir.  With a sharp crack, the tree split in two and burst into flames.

Drake leaned himself into Falkor, all his energy and thoughts focused upon the cold dark water.  He slowed his breathing and pulled back on Falkor’s fur.  Immediately Falkor’s breathing harmonized with that of Drake, an internal drum beating away between them.  Falkor fully extended his wings to harness the air around him, slowing his speed down and allowing the Fiery-death time to catch up with them.

‘Falkor…we can do this…’

At first, they could hear the beast’s wings cutting through the air, the gentle roar of flame like the sound of igniting gas on a cooker hob, and then Drake felt the painful, uncomfortable fieriness of the demon behind them.

There was no point turning to look, he would not be able to bear the heat, not now the Fiery-death was in a frenzy.

‘NOW!’ Drake bellowed.

Falkor pinned back his wings and plummeted towards the freezing water below.

Drake wrapped his hands tightly around Falkor’s fur and braced himself for impact.

It was the cold that hit Drake first.  It knocked the remaining breath from his lungs.  His ears hurt from the impact, all sound muffled except for the pounding of the blood in his head as the black water closed in around them.

Falkor propelled them through the water like some great seal, completely at home in this dark, unforgiving place.

Behind them, they could feel the water heating up rapidly, a tremendous hiss, like a pressure cooker, as the water consumed the beast’s fire.

Now Falkor aimed for the surface.  He cut through cleanly, hardly disturbing the water at all, and focused on rising into the air as quickly as he could.

Drake gasped as they burst out of the water,  the cold night’s air stinging his lungs as he struggled to breathe, his broken ribs screaming with pain.  His body trembled as the cold bit into his skin, its bitterness intensified after his dip in the water.

Drake turned to see the Fiery-death shooting up from the murky depths of the reservoir, water gushing from his fire-less body.  It looked like some mechanical dragon moulded out of pristine copper that glared orange despite the lack of fire or light.

But the fire was still there in its belly, the desire to kill still raging in his eyes.

And in those eyes, Drake could see no remains of Pyro.  Pyro was gone.  Pyro was dead.

Falkor snapped his body around so that he was facing the Fiery-death.  With outstretched wings he hovered in the air, enticing his enemy forward, goading him to come to them.

Electricity was accumulating above them, threatening to strike at any moment.

The Fiery-death let out a defiant roar as it rocketed itself towards its prey, a crazed expression etched upon its metallic face.

Falkor and Drake hovered and waited; the pressure was building up behind them.  ‘Wait…wait…okay…1…2…3…’ soothed Drake, ‘NOW!’

Falkor dropped like a stone towards the earth just as a tremendous bolt of lightning shattered the sky above them.

Before the Fiery-death had time to react the white-hot lightning bolt made contact with his wet metallic skin.  The impact was deafening as pure electricity pumped into three tons of copper dragon.

A red-hot fireball illuminated the night like a miniature sun.  The sky was ablaze with metallic shooting stars as shards of metal, as sharp as knives, ripped the sky open and large chunks of burnt copper fell into the cold water with a ferocious hiss.

Without a second look, Drake gently pulled on Falkor’s crest fur and headed back to Devilsgate.

Dragon Rider – Part 57

Dragon Rider

Chapter Twenty-One Continued

A Fiery Death

Falkor reared up, his steel-like body rigid in preparation for impact.  His teardrop scales were as strong as iron and impervious to a blade or bullet but not to another dragon.  He exploded like a bomb as he streaked across the sky to meet his foe.

With the force of ten high-speed trains, the titans clashed mid-air, sparks of fire and steel raining over Devilsgate City.  As cool hard steel struck the blistering fire, the sky shook and the earth trembled, the resulting crack threatening to split the very cosmos in half.

Their open mouths collided sending a shockwave through Falkor’s body.

The Fiery-death whipped Falkor on his left rump with its tail, its arrow-like end penetrating into Falkor’s flesh.  The force of the blow sent Falkor hurtling sideways, the arrow-tipped tail still deeply embedded in his rump.

As Falkor plunged sideways the Fiery-death whipped back his tail, yanking the fiery arrowhead out from Falkor’s hindquarters, its knife-like edges ripping more flesh from the wound.

Drake felt the strike almost like it had hit him and not Falkor, he recoiled in pain, his stomach tensing as he noticed the blue neon blood gushing from the top of Falkor’s leg.

Falkor was consumed by anger.  He propelled himself back at the Fiery-death, gripped by some sort of battle-frenzy.

With sharp teeth exposed, Falkor aimed for the enemy’s flaming neck.

But the Fiery-Death had already anticipated the attack.  It turned its whole body towards Falkor and belched out a shower of scalding fire.

Alarmed, Drake pulled back sharply on Falkor’s crest and attempted to halt his crazed flight to destruction.

Falkor growled furiously.

Drake had never seen his friend lose his temper before; Falkor was uncontrollable, full of furious anger.  It was as though the Fiery-Death had reawakened some primaeval wrath that had remained dormant somewhere deep within him.

This uncontrollable anger was destructive and was going to get them both killed.

He had to think of something and quick.  Falkor was only just responding to him and who knew how long it would be before he stopped listening altogether.  And then, Drake knew, there would be no hope because the anger would consume his mind too.

The Fiery-death was strong and fierce but Falkor, being smaller, was quicker.  Somehow Drake had to use this to their advantage…

Without instruction Falkor suddenly propelled himself at the Fiery-death with a wild, murderous intent.

‘Falkor!  Stop!  You’re going to kill us!’ shouted Drake.  His heart was pounding in his chest, his palms were cold but sweaty.  Everything was spiralling out of control.

Around them, the air was charged with electricity as another bolt of lightning zigzagged across the black sky, ripping at the cloud.  Big fat raindrops began to tumble around them, slowly at first, before the clouds brutally spewed out their load.

Falkor plunged headfirst at his enemy, teeth exposed and heart pounding in an erratic, adrenaline-filled rhythm.

The great Fiery-death hovered menacingly in the air like some blazing demonic angel.  Its self-righteous face sneering, urging Falkor to attack.  It knew the little dragon had no chance, not in claw to claw combat.

There was a drum roll of thunder and another flash of lightning split the sky in half.

Drake knew what he had to do if only he could get Falkor to listen.

‘Falkor?  Falkor?’

But the dragon continued to ignore him.

‘Falkor, we can destroy him.  Falkor…listen…We can’t win this way -‘

Somehow he had to get Falkor to listen.  He had to heal the fissure that had erupted between them.  ‘And we will destroy him Falkor…but not this way.  Falkor…we have to be clever…we are quicker but not stronger…listen friend…listen -‘

Drake pictured the plan in his mind and urged Falkor to see it, to share it, feel it and to believe that they could destroy the Fiery-death.  Together.

Falkor continued on his course, hurtling towards certain death.

‘Come on Falkor, have I ever let you down?’ said Drake concentrating on pushing the image into the dragon’s mind, hardly daring to breathe.

Drake could feel the intense heat radiating from the Fiery-death, the cold rain doing little to ease its potency.

They were getting closer to the demon.  To death.

‘No…not like this…Falkor…LISTEN…PLEASE-’

The air was heavy with the smell of petrol and gas and the sound of sizzling water as it evaporated the instant it touched the Fiery-death’s body.

A spine-tingling roar erupted from deep within Falkor’s belly.  It rattled in Drake’s chest, along with the despair and dread.

This was it.

They were going to die.