Book 3 Chapter 52

AsaHi woke to a long, low rumble followed by a sharp crack. A jolt sent her sprawling out of her bed as the world tilted sideways. She scrabbled hand over hand to get a hold of her blankets, grasp her bed and get her footing. As she jammed her feet into her tall boots, she heard the sound of yelling and barked orders out in the halls.

The alarms sounded out over the islands of Ceiswyr.

The girl rushed quickly to her closet and threw a half robe over her shoulders, then secured a wooden staff in one hand. Only a moment later, her door flung open, admitting a ruffled-haired SoYa. He was just pushing one arm through his vest, reaching out for her.

“What’s going on?” AsaHi didn’t hesitate to rush to her Promised. “Are we under attack?”

“It seems like it,” SoYa spoke slowly, getting that odd look that told her he was relying on senses beyond what normal people possessed. Then he frowned. “We must find Father. They’re going to need all the help they can get.”

Help? Me? How?

AsaHi was more than willing to do everything she could to defend their home on Ceiswyr. She wasn’t afraid to fight. She wasn’t afraid to face whatever Zeromus tried to throw at them. She just didn’t know what she could do against monsters like the Marked or the winged Esgyll. The girl spent time with the fighters and with Zento learning how to protect herself the best she could, but that was a far cry from being of offensive value in a battle.

If SoYa felt her doubts, he didn’t respond to them. He simply led her briskly through the halls, passing out orders to the ground troops in a level, firm voice. He organized the troops where he saw confusion, offering vibes of support and confidence to those who faltered in the fear of facing battle. With each step that he took, he carried a sense of hope and determination, and the men responded with a mixture of respect and gratefulness.

Even she could feel the effects of the soft encouragement of the Athrylith, and she found that she didn’t feel soinadequate in the face of what was to come.


AsaHi followed, looking up at the eldest son of ZenToYa. She saw, for the first time, the leader that he was becoming. The strength that was developing, growing silently within him through his training and all of the hardships. Everything he now wielded, at this point, for this battle, which they knew was probably the final turning point.

Word is that Lucci found a weapon we can use to fight Zeromus. If we can just hold out a little longer. He’s on his way…

Surely, Zeromus knew this as well. Even with the power of his Champion, he was unable to prevent Lucci from obtaining that which could destroy him. This was a battle of desperation for both sides. Zeromus would seek to crush them,and they just had to hold out until Lucci arrived with the weapon.

They were not taken completely unawares. Ever since reports came to Zemi that Lucci was successful in his journey, they gathered resources and trained harder. They didn’t known exactly when Zeromus would strike, or what he’d strike with, but the people of the Dreigiau did everything within their power to be ready for this battle.

I just hope it’s enough.

As they rounded the corner, AsaHi heard the voice of ZenToYa advising and giving orders. It was not unlike the voice of his son.

“Father!” SoYa led her carefully through the organizing troops.

“SoYa! AsaHi! Good!” Zento waved them forward the moment they caught his eye.

“Where do you need us positioned?” the Athrylith asked, talking the best that he could over the sound of alarms and men.

“You’ve been requested in the Dragon ranks,” the winged man answered.

“Dragon ranks?” SoYa asked with some surprise. He looked over towards AsaHi, seeming to think that the order was aimed towards the girl alone.

“Both of you,” Zento clarified. “By Zemi’s orders.”

“Huh?” the Athrylith’s air of certainty was beginning to flake away, taken by surprise.

AsaHi had perked up, however. Working with the Dragons was something she could do. Her riding skills matched anyone else’s on the Islands.

Not that winged people really need to ride Dragons… but…

SoYa, however, didn’t seem so thrilled at the thought. However, he didn’t complain or argue. He simply gave a slow nod.

“SoYa,” Zento reached his hand out to his son. There was the look of age on his face, framed in long silvering strands of hair. It was a father’s face of worry and love. “Please be careful. I’ve arranged an escort to get you to the Dragon compound.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Lead the ground troops against the Marked. We’ve already had a breech in security on the northwest isle. No doubt, Zeromus is going to be pouring them down on us,” the winged man frowned.

Now it was SoYa’s time to look worried. “Father…”

Zento gave the softest smile he was able, then hugged his eldest son, “Protect AsaHi and don’t forget your Arfogaeth.”

“Oh! My armor! Right!” the Athrylith exclaimed suddenly, as if reminded of something that completely slipped his mind. His hand clutched at the throat of his vest for a moment.

Zento reached around with arms and wings and hugged AsaHi to his chest gently. His voice was soft as he murmured, “Take care of SoYa… protect Zemi…”

The girl nodded, looking up into the Champion’s face. “I’ll do my best, Master ZenToYa.”

He cracked a grin and rubbed his hand through her hair affectionately. “You’ll do great. Just be careful.”

“Yes, sir,” AsaHi nodded.

Then SoYa took her hand again and led her off with the accompaniment of a troop of winged men. Heading towards the Dragon compound.

Mind mage or not, there was no holding back the look of open heart ache on Zento’s face as he watched them go. All AsaHi could do was make sure that SoYa didn’t turn around to see it.

As they stepped out of the safety of the Compound, the sky was alive with terror from above. Dragons were locked in terrible battle with the huge dark-winged Esgyll. AsaHi’s eyes were drawn to the streaks of flame and darkness that exploded through the sky above, just inches from the wavering dome barriers that were placed to protect the Islands. Every now and then, she could see the fall of a dark winged form plummeting out of the battle and into the cracks between the Islands. Whether it was an Esgyll or a Dragon, she couldn’t tell.

After darting between clumps of trees and buildings, they finally came to the open yard of the Dragon’s compound. The girl could already make out the figures of other Dragons there. As they came closer, she heard the rumbling sound of Brunswik’s voice.

“They’re different this time, Lord Zemi,” the huge Crimson reported. “I don’t know what Zeromus has been feeding those Esgyll but they’re far stronger than they were in the first two attacks.”

“We’re doing what we can to keep them away from the barriers,” KaiShi flicked her tail with a dragon scowl at her companion.

“I mean, talk about just one chomp – just one — and a man is gone. Gone like that,” Brunswik continued, stretching his wings for effect.

“I see,” Zemi’s face was grim. Strangely, though meeting with Dragons, he did not take his own Dragon form, yet.

“Chomp!” Brunswik repeated, clamping his huge jaws together. “And gone!”

KaiShi’s eye ridge twitched with a hint of irritation.

“Thank you, Brunswik,” Zemi intercepted, patting the Crimson on the snout. “Your report was very enlightening.”

“Anytime, Lord Zemi!” Brunswik lifted his head proudly. “I’ll return to my post now.”

“Yes. And please spread the news to anyone who has not engaged yet that the Esgyll may pose a bit more of a threat than they did before,” the Dreigiau nodded.

“Yes sir!” with a hurricane swoop of wings, the huge Dragon took to the skies, flying fearlessly towards the battle ahead.

KaiShi gave a long suffering sigh.

“He’s got a good heart,” Zemi answered the unspoken question. “And he’s a war machine in battle when the time comes.”

“I know… I know… ” the golden Dragon shook out her mane. Then her ears perked forward as she caught sense of the newcomers. “Zem?”

“Hrm?” the Arweinydd paused, turning and looking directly at them.

AsaHi felt SoYa pause a moment, then stiffen a bit.

“Lord Zemi,” the Athrylith gave a slight bow. “Lady KaiShi.”

KaiShi’s momentary irritation had turned to hope. “You got here safely. Good. Where is that scamp of a father of yours?”

“He’s leading the ground troops,” Zemi answered. “But I’ve asked SoYa and AsaHi to join us in our maneuvers.”

“Oh?” the golden Dragon seemed somewhat surprised.

“Everyone needs to be mobilized in flight for this battle,” the Arweinydd answered and offered nothing else.

AsaHi felt SoYa shiver under her hand at the statement. She didn’t know what the motion meant.

“Are we ready to head out then?” KaiShi asked, tilting her head downward.

“W-wait. Just a moment,” SoYa rasped, fumbling with the front of his vest. After opening his collar and doing a bit of digging, he produced a thin silver chain with a small, round stone on the end.

AsaHi knew what that was. Zento had one similar to it, though she rarely saw it used.

Arfogaeth? Zemi?” KaiShi gave the Dreigiau a questioning look. Afterall, the spirit armor was something crafted only by the Arweinydd and gifted to certain, special individuals.

“The boy needs to protect himself,” Zemi shrugged.

“I suppose so,” the golden Dragon frowned a little. “Very well.”

SoYa walked a few paces away, face a blanket of concentration. He cupped the stone between his hands, sweat on his brow as he closed his eyes. It responded, giving off a soft, lilac light that slowly inched its way along the outline of his hands, then up his arms and along his shoulders.

AsaHi drew in a quiet breath as she watched the outline build itself, bit by bit, into long slender shoulder plates, padded vestments and sturdy plated gloves. Weightless and ethereal, tiny etched designs of loops and weaves spread along the white armor as it began to solidify. It was different from the armor that his father wore – more mage-like and ornate. Embedded in the center of the chest piece, the small lilac stone gave off a quiet light.

“It worked?” SoYa stretched out his hands, staring at them in wonderment. Then he looked up at AsaHi with an excited boyish grin. “AsaHi, it worked! Look!”

“It’s… wonderful, SoYa,” AsaHi smiled warmly, lost for what else to say. SoYa looked so different encased in the shimmering spirit armor. So grown. So steady and sure. Even the smile was one of knowledge and understanding.

He looks so much like Zento sometimes…

“Well, someone has an artistic streak in them,” KaiShi commented as she watched. There was a hint of pride in her words.

“Must have gotten it from his mother,” Zemi’s voice rumbled far above their heads.

AsaHi blinked up in surprise. Staring straight at the huge muzzle of the great white Dragon. As SoYa was discovering the workings of his armor, Zemi also transformed. His huge wings half unfurled covered them all, even KaiShi, in a soft white glow that streamed down around them.

There was something that changed about him, too. Something protective. Something caring and concerned. Not that he wasn’t in the past, but the feeling of the Dreigiau’s mind was different.

It was as if he understood now exactly what he risked, for himself. And for others.

“Zemi,” AsaHi reached a hand upwards, pausing a moment before touching the white mane. Instead, she looked at SoYa, in concern of what he would think.

It was obvious what she was meant to do, that she would ride the Dreigiau to face the darkness. Zemi hoped that her Drei’distau was enough to protect him from the grasps of the Chaos that took Zeromus.

At the same time, AsaHi didn’t know what SoYa thought of it. That the Arweinydd who was in love with his Promised would sweep her away with Dragon wings.

The Athrylith was watching them, a forced look on his face, as if part of him was struggling with it. The other part spoke instead, somewhat comforted by her concern, “AsaHi, don’t worry about me. We all have to do what we can to protect the people. This is your place in the battle. I’ll do mine.”

The words sounded so much like something Zento would say. Even the way he lifted his chin with the last few words, enduring things that were personal struggles for the good of other people.

AsaHi suddenly rushed over, throwing her arms around SoYa’s neck.

The girl was awed and stricken by who her Promised was becoming. But, she wished they never had to live through times that forced him to be this way. She regretted putting him in a position of conflict with their Patron, and most of all, he couldn’t remain as he was — simple and kindly SoYa.

His embrace was gentle, and his voice was soft as he reassured her. SoYa offered a quiet smile as he leaned down and placed a kiss on her forehead. “Everything will be okay.”

AsaHi nodded and after a moment they parted, walking their separate ways. He, to the golden Dragon, and she, to the waiting Dreigiau.