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.




Death’s Apprentice – Part 78

‘Wake up!’ Agnes hit him again. ‘Wake the fuck up and tell me where my heart is!’

The violence was making Joe uncomfortable.

‘Agnes,’ said Joe quietly.

‘Tell me,’ she screamed.

‘Stop it,’ he said.

‘What?’ she screeched, rounding on Joe.

‘Let him go.’

‘Why the fuck should I?’

‘Because he didn’t steal your heart.’

Agnes’ eyes narrowed as she studied Joe. ‘What the fuck do you mean? If you’re having me on…’

‘I’m not having you on.’

‘Go on.’

‘He didn’t steal your heart because Death did.’

Agnes stared at Joe. This made Joe very uncomfortable and very nervous.

‘What?’ she finally managed, after what seemed like an eternity of uncomfortable silence.

‘The woodcutter doesn’t know where your heart is because he didn’t steal it,’ he repeated, ‘Death did.’

‘And,’ she said, walking slowly but purposefully over to Joe, you’re only telling me this now?’

‘I’ve only just found out myself,’ he replied.

Agnes stopped right in front of Joe. So close to him in fact, that he could feel her warm breath on his face.

‘And you expect me to believe you, because…?’

‘Look,’ he said, ‘I can prove it to you!’ He flipped open the book and looked at the page. It read:

You fucking idiot. I am going to fucking kill you when I get my hands on you. What part of don’t tell Agnes did you not fucking get?

Absolutely fabulous, thought Joe, how do I end up pissing off every single person that comes into my life? And why do they always want to kill me? The day was getting worse. And it hadn’t even started off on a good note anyway.

He offered the open book to the witch.

She snatched it from his hands and began to read. Her face turned from anger to confusion, to murderous rage in a matter of seconds. Agnes snapped the book shut and threw it back to Joe.

‘And what,’ she said, spitting out each word with poisonous venom, ‘the fuck am I supposed to do with that information? Why the fuck did she do that to me? And why the fuck is she talking to us through a book?’

Joe had no words to comfort her. He hadn’t got a clue what was going on himself.

Agnes turned to look at the woodcutter. She gave an agonised sob and collapsed onto the floor.

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.

Death’s Apprentice – Part 77

‘I’m going to fucking rip your heart out!’ she screamed.

And just like that, thought Joe, we’re right back where we started.

‘Why? No. Agnes, stop!’ shouted the woodcutter as she descended upon him, the knife flashing silver in the air. He tried to jump his chair away from her, his eyes wide with terror. ‘AGNES!’

‘Where’s my heart you Motherfucker?’

‘Agnes, what? I don’t know what you mean. I -‘

‘THIS,’ she screamed, yanking her dress down to reveal the top of her scar, ‘is your handiwork. You couldn’t even stitch it up neatly. Look! LOOK!’

The woodcutter’s face took on a mixture of emotions that ranged from scared stiff to deeply hurt. ‘I…Agnes, that wasn’t me.’ Despite everything going on, he said the words with a dignified calmness.

‘Sure,’ she replied. She looked up at the axe and muttered the word, ‘Release!’ and the axe began to fall.

‘STOP!’ shouted Joe.

The woodcutter looked up, saw the axe falling, and fainted.

‘You fucking wimp,’ she screamed as the axe stopped within a centimetre from piercing his skull.

Joe felt his heart jolt inside him. That was fucking close.

She slapped the woodcutter across the face with her spare hand. It was a hard slap that left a big red handprint across his cheek. ‘Wake up!’ Agnes hit him again. ‘Wake the fuck up and tell me where my heart is!’

The violence was making Joe uncomfortable.

‘Agnes,’ said Joe quietly.

‘Tell me,’ she screamed.

‘Stop it,’ said Joe.

‘What?’ she screeched, rounding on him.

‘Let him go.’

‘Why the fuck should I?’

‘Because he didn’t steal your heart.’

Agnes’ eyes narrowed as she studied Joe. ‘What the fuck do you mean? If you’re having me on…’

‘I’m not having you on.’

‘Go on. I’m listening’

‘He didn’t steal your heart because Death did.’

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.