Part 86 – By The Midday Sun
“Hurry,” Theomin yelled to the rest of his company as they raced down the slope away from the dragon’s perch. The sun had already shown on the rocks about the entire valley but had not yet breached the top of the cliffs of the Ram Duath. It was still morning in the Valley of the Worms, Teryndir was nowhere to be seen and Eleswith had been flung far away to another valley. Where she was flung was anybody’s guess. So ran the rest of the company, Theomin, Estonethiel, Magla and lastly Helesdir, rushed as they tried to make their way to the threshold of the valley, rushing to make it before midday.
They made it to where they slept the night before and passed it with no thought in their minds, all except for Helesdir. He paused and looked down at where he and Eleswith were that night. Theomin stopped and yelled back to Helesdir, “Come on, Helesdir. We have not much time.”
“Here we layed last night together,” Helesdir reminisced, completely oblivious as he kicked the dirt where they were. He coud still see some impring in the soft soil from where he and Eleswith had sat. A tear then formed in his eyes.
Theomin came to Helesdir and pulled him by his stitched leather coat, “If we cannot make it out of this valley before midday, we will not have those pleasant memories to share of her because you will be dead. We will all be dead, Helesdir. Get yourself together and let us leave from here.”
Helesdir yanked his arm away from Theomin’s grasp. He looked at Theomin with sorrow from his loss. “I must find her. I must find Eleswith.”
“I miss her too. I have traveled with her for many leagues and she means the world to me too. But this is not the time to let grief take hold of you,” Theomin said.
“Theomin is right, Helesdir,” Sergee agreed. We must make for the valley of Nan Amlug before that dragon, or drake, stops us at midday. Believe me. I know what grief is. It is all too real to me. Before you rescued me from the Forsaken Inn, my sorrows were too great. I lost my friends. I lost my family. I almost lost myself. Do not let that happen to you. Still keep your memory but you will not do her memory any service by sacrificing yourself. Just for now, let her go.”
Helesdir put his head down. He continued along the way as the rest of the company went along too but he soon stopped again, which forced the whole company to stop. “What if she still lives?” The rest of the company looked at Helesdir. Noone said a word. Theomin wanted to but said nothing. “I have to find her. I need to find her,” Helesdir said. “I need to see if she is alive. She needs me.”
Theomin gave a slight nod and said quietly, “Go,” knowing full well that he probably spoke to him for the last time.
“Come, Magla,” Helesdir said. Magla stayed put. He did not go to Helesdir. “Magla, come on.”
“I…” Magla started to say.
“Magla needs to stay with the group. We need his aid to leave this place,” Sergee said.
“I need him. You already have strong warriors with you,” Helesdir argued.
“To ensure the survival of the group, I must stay with them,” Magla finally articulated. “I fear they will need my strength than you will. By yourself, you can move quietly, stealtfully. They cannot do that. I cannot. I can’t go with you.”
Helesdir looked at Magla. He gazed into the eyes of the stoic warrior until he finally said, “Fine. Farewell friend.” He ran the other way, down a narrow path close to the campsite they were at the night before.
Magla gazed as his friend ran off alone. Theomin watched as Magla’s one friend ran down alone. He placed a hand on Magla’s shoulder and for a few moments it stayed there. Magla then marched the way of the valley’s exit, leaving Theomin’s sympathetic hand to fall from his shoulder. Theomin motioned the rest of the company to follow.
Through the rest of the morning, they progressed very little through the valley. With only Estonethiel’s arrows, making it through the valley of the cold-worms was much more difficult. It was as if the whole entire valley of the worms had spilled onto the remaining members of the group. So Estonethiel released as many arrows as her elven arms and her elven bow could muster and Theomin, Magla and Sergee had to compensate for the lack of their companions.
Suddenly, a drake emerged from behind one of the great freestanding rocks dotted across the valley. Without hesitation, Estonethiel fired an arrow at one eye, blinding it as Magla smashed his club into its giant knee while the elf fired another arrow at its other eye. It screamed in pain and flung itself around. One of the flailing arms hit Magla and knocked him back onto the ground as another group of cold-worms descended upon him.
“Magla!” Theomin yelled to his companion.
He and Sergee ripped through the cold-worms as fast as they could while Estonethiel tried desperately to keep them at bay. She shot a final shot into the mouth of the drake, killing it, but her arms could only go so fast as the worms were much too numerous for her to handle. She removed her elven blade, Guddaganir, and sliced through many more worms than she could have possibly done with her arrows. Her moves were like a graceful dance, spinning and twirling her blade as the metal sang beautifully in the air.
Magla was overwhelmed by the cold-worms and it looked as though their companion had been lost. Arrows from an unknown source flew in, one at a time, stregically placed to allow a barrier between the onslaught of worms and Magla. He rose up and pounded as many as he could to get out of the mess.
Theomin looked around but saw nothing. Every cliff was bear of any archer or helper. For a moment he had hoped Helesdir had returned but there was no sign of him. Theomin could not ponder on such a lucky event. Quickly shrugging off the strange aid, he helped Magla out and continued along the downward slope of the valley.
“Are you alright?” Theomin asked Magla. He did not respond but looked as though he had some pain in his jogging.
It was very close to midday when yet another drake came upon the group. It blew fire at the group which had to duck behind some boulders. Estonethiel came around and shot an arrow into one eye, then ducked back behind a rock.
“We have not time for this,” Theomin frustratedly grunted. “We will all charge at the beast at once. Eleswith, shoot another arrow into its other eye. Magla, knock it down and Sergee and I will try and drive one of the arrows further into its head.
Estonethiel came from around the boulder again and shot the other eye. Magla ran to the drake and slammed his club into the leg of the beast and as it fell Theomin and Sergee ran to the head and both together ran their swords into the eyes of the drake. It gave off a few short blasts of sound and then went silent. Both Theomin and Sergee fell off the drake, exhausted.
“Another set of cold-worms,” Estonethiel warned the others.
Theomin rose up with such exhaustion that he could barely muster the strength to stay steady. He drew his sword and tried desperately to slice at the cold-worms. Sergee continued where Theomin could not. He quickly finished off Theomin’s worms with his sword, Gud Methen. It shined clearly and sang beautifully in the soon-to-be midday sun and soon there was a clear path from the bottom to the exit of the valley.
The four finally made it to the valley floor and ran across the way but a sudden darkness descended upon the four and soon there was a massive pound in the earth as dust of all kinds flew up around a black figure. As the dust cleared it was the massive black body of Naglangon. He sneared at the group of four as Theomin backed up in terror.
“It is not yet midday. You must let us pass,” he desperately said.
“I think not,” Naglangon said. “Enough treating with you.”
“You gave me your word, Naglangon,” Theomin said through gritted teeth. “A dragon would never go back on his word,” Theomin tried to play to the drake’s pride.
“I would rather be a living drake than a dead man,” he laughed and then breathed in a deep breath.
“Hide!” Sergee yelled.
They ran to the flanks of the drake as it spewed a terrible force of fire down at the company. While still spewing his fire, Estonethiel gathered her bow and quickly readied an arrow. She shot at the dragon’s eye but it closed and ricocheted off the steel-like armor of the dragon.
“Do you mean to shoot me in the eye, elf?” He looked at Estonethiel. “I knew we have met before but I could not place it before.” He came over to the elf with a grin showing how terrible his teeth were. “It had been a while but I finally placed you. You were with that other company. That company of those disgusting elves. The company of elves you fled from. You wore that light blue number if I remember correctly. I burnt that off of you as you fled from my layer. The rest of your elf friends did not fare as well as you. All dead, all eaten,” he grinned.
As quickly as a master elf archer could ready her bow, she shot an arrow straight into Naglangon’s mouth. He winced back as pieces of his drool flew up in the air in his rage. As it fell it settled on the ground, making it hiss. The last pieces fell on her shirt and then directly on her eyes.
She screamed a terrible guttural scream as her eyes burned from the searing heat of the drake’s spit. The pain was too much to bare as she attempted to claw the slimey drool off and in the process burnt her fingers. She splashed the rest of the drool on the ground which then hissed as she still screamed in the horrible pain.
“How dare you come to my place and shoot ME!” Naglangon yelled.
Magla tried to hit the drake in the knee but it was no use. As soon as he pounded his club into the drake’s leg, the club shattered into small splinters, which some stuck in the leg of the drake. Naglangon then contorted his body to look at Magla. He snareled at him as Magla backed up. Naglangon then breathed in as much air as he could and blasted fire at him. Magla winced but was then pushed out of the way by Sergee. The flame burned Sergee so horribly that it stuck to him and caught him on fire. His whole body and face was covered in flame as he too screamed in the searing pain of the fire.
As the dragon was spewing its fire onto Sergee, Theomin ran up and rammed his sword into Naglangon’s eye. It reared above Theomin and whipped its tail, which hit Theomin in the chest, making him fly far back onto the ground and hit his head. There was then a ringing in his ear which drowned out all sound except for a slight muffled sound of his companions screaming. He felt sharp pain in his chest as he looked around at the sad state of his companions. It all seemed to move so slowly as he saw Sergee laying on the ground, still slightly smouldering. Estonethiel’s face was in her hands and Magla was hiding behind a large rock, keeping from further injury from the vicious drake, fearful of the terrible wrath of the drake. Theomin then stood, even though he had such horrible pains in his chest. He hid behind one of the many egg hatching nests that were there but devoid of any cold-worms.
“Where are you,” Naglangon said. “Where are you little man. Your game is at an end. One cannot simply come to my layer, hold my matron captive and simply treat with me. You made a mistake by even coming to me with your concerns. Now look, you have killed your friends. I should kill them all and allow you to live. That would eat you away slowly until your last dying breath.” Naglangon came up upon Theomin as he hid behind the nest of eggs. He pushed at Theomin, knocking him to the ground as he continued, “There you are. Not so brave when you have nothing keeping me from killing you. Your friends are gone, scattered and beaten. Now I want to show you why I am only seen by few and so feared by many.
Theomin could feel the steam hitting his coat. The burning it brought to him was so strong and the smell of rotten flesh soured his stomach. The drake laughed at the expense of Theomin and his men but when he laughed he saw an arrow buried in the throat of the drake. It was the elven one that Estonethiel shot into Naglangon’s mouth. As the drake tried to bite him, Theomin rolled away and ran to Estonethiel.
“Do not run away from me, tiny man. Your efforts will only prolong your death. I changed my mind. I will not let you live. I will not allow you to allow you a single minute of grief to drown you until your death. I would rather that death come to you now, swift and painfull.” Naglangon let loose a flame toward Theomin.
Theomin heared the flame blast toward him as he lept and covered himself on the ground. It sailed past him and the soonest Theomin saw it was safe, he ran and retrieved the bow from Estonethiel but could not get the arrows. He ran away toward another corner of the valley as the drake followed, smashing everything he could see, including the cliff face with his tail and the free standing rock Magla was hiding behind. He even smashed the eggs, his offspring. The eggs splattered all over with young drake embryos. The drake saw what he had done which only enraged him further. He lept up in the air and opened his bat-like wings. The drake glided down and smashed onto the ground.
Theomin lost his balance from the trembling earth and tumbling down to the ground and turned to see the furious drake stomping toward him. A fire of anger was in his eyes as he stomped so maddenly toward Theomin and shoved him with is snout onto the ground. He looked straight at Theomin as Theomin backed into a corner. All he had was the bow of Estonethiel’s to defend himself.
“And what are you going to do with that?” the smug drake said. “Are you going to tap me to death? Ha ha ha. I think not. Now, you will be eaten. Such a tastey morsul you will be.” The drake opened his mouth wide to capture all of Theomin inside. But instead of having a mouth full of Theomin, Theomin placed the bow into the mouth of the dragon, forcing it to keep its mouth open. He reached into the dank opening of the drake’s mouth and grabbed the arrow. He had to yank and yank again as the drake screamed in the pain of the lodged arrow. Theomin finally forced the arrow out and placed the arrow in the bow. He pulled back on the string as the drake jostled around. Theomin fell from the drake’s mouth but as he fell he grabbed hold of the bow and and placed the arrow back in the string. He pulled on it as he dangled from the drake’s mouth as Naglangon began to take flight. He then let go of the bow and let his weight pull the bow back as far as it could go. He let go of the arrow and fell down to the ground as the arrow flew up into the mouth of the drake. It pierced the top of the drake’s mouth and up into the drake’s head as the drake smashed the bow in half with its massive jaw.
With a thump, Theomin landed and looked up at the drake as it tried to fly away in obvious pain. It only flew a few hundred feet in the air when it started to fall. It flapped its wings again trying to stay up in the air. “I didn’t kill it,” he said dreadfully to himself, “It still lives.” It stopped again but tried one last desperate attempt to fly up in the air. It finally could not stay up finally with all its strength depleted, it went limp and fell back to the ground. Out in the distance, Theomin could hear the loud sound of a thump as the drake finally died from the lodged arrow in its head.
Theomin stayed on the ground. All his strength was taken. He had no energy with which to stand but that was okay. He killed his enemy and there were no more cold-worms around with which to fight. They had all been vanquished by him and his company.
A few minutes had passed as Theomin was on the ground that Magla came up to Theomin and stood over his tired friend. “You did what I could not,” Magla said with the upmost respect. “Your bravery knows no bounds, my good friend.”
Magla lowered a hand to offer for Theomin. Theomin placed his hand in Maglas as he hoisted him up to his feet. Theomin smiled and patted Magla on the shoulder. “How is Sergee?”
“He is alive but I but passed out from the pain,” Magla said. “I believe his injury is severe but not yet a danger to his life.”
He hobbled over to Estonethiel while still feeling the pain in his chest. He bore it, though. He knew he had not need to fight again and rested in that feeling. He approached Estonethiel who tried to look up and look around. “Did you do it? Did you kill the drake?”
He placed a hand on Estonethiel’s back and knelt next to her. He happily he replied, “Aye, he is dead.”
She gave a smile. With so much respect, she said, half in a whisper of awe, “One did what tens could not.” She then stayed quiet for a few moments. “Who still lives? I hear you and I heard our friend Magla. Does Sergee still breath?”
“Magla checked Sergee. He says his injuries are serious but not life threatening.”
“If I had the ingredience, I may make a draught for infections,” Estonethiel said.
“No,” Theomin said. “You rest. Let me do that.” He looked around at the valley. “We must leave this terrible valley. Magla, please carry Sergee and I will lead Estonethiel out to Esteldin.”