"AYIN!!!" The cry shattered the serenity of the early morning.|
"Rrrrrr, what is it Tsadde!?!?" Ayin shouted back at her brother, who was racing up the hill to greet her.
Tsadde looked at his sister and grinned. "Oh, so you're here again. You're always sitting out here, daydreaming again, huh?"
Ayin huffed and stood up, brushing the grass off her skirt. "I wasn't daydreaming. Just thinking."
Tsadde cocked his head and shrugged. "Sure. Thinking about all that dragon stuff again. That's all you ever do!"
Ayin glared at him, her green eyes flashing. "It's not just stuff! It's part of Lunar's history."
Tsadde ran his fingers through his dark blue hair. "I can't argue with that. It's part of history, and history means studying, and studying is boring. Anyways, mom sent me to find you because she wants you to help with chores." With that, Tsadde turned on his heel and ran back down the hill.
Ayin sighed. Fifteen year olds think they know everything, she thought. She followed her brother down the hill.
"Ayin, there you are. I don't like you going off like that. Especially since there's been word about monster attacks lately," their mother said, upon seeing them come in.
Ayin's green eyes brightened. "Monsters? That's impossible! Nobody's seen any monsters around for who knows how long!"
Her mother nodded. "Very true, but yet they've been saying it was so. I don't even know whether I should believe it or not-"
Just then, the door opened. Aairik Yutsora, father to Ayin and Tsadde, limped through the doorway and fell on his knees. "Believe it," he said.
"YOU'RE CRAZY!! THAT'S GOTTA BE THE REASON! OH YES, OUR LEADER HAS FINALLY GONE COMPLETELY MENTAL!!"
"Ruby! Get a grip! Quit shouting--you're hurting my ears!!" In human-form or dragon-form, Ruby was still a loudmouth. Nall had all he could stand. "SHUT UP!!" That caught Ruby's attention. The cave fell silent, and none of the four figures within it spoke a word. Nall cleared his throat. "Now, as I was saying, before I got rudely interrupted," --at this, Ruby turned the other way-- "was that there have been monster sightings within the past few weeks--and what's worse, they've been increasing."
The blue dragon (in human-form) known as Seren, folded her arms and frowned. Denyx, the black dragon, looked at Nall quizzically. "Are you sure?" he asked.
Nall nodded. Ruby opened her mouth to say something, but a quick glance from Nall gave her second thoughts.
"If this is true," Seren spoke in her low, quiet tone, "then the inhabitants of Lunar will no longer have peace."
Nall looked at his fellow dragons. "Seren has a point there. But what I'd like to know is where all these things came from and who's the one who's doing this, not to mention why."
Ruby couldn't stay silent any longer. "Well duh! It's only obvious that they want to rule Lunar; that hasn't changed. It always seems to be the reason. These people are so delusional. It's always power, power, power!" She brushed back her reddish-brown hair.
Nall tapped his foot impatiently. "Are you done?" he asked sarcastically.
"Actually, no. I-"
Nall cut her off. "We need to keep an eye out for whoever's involved in this crazy revolution of monsters. You guys keep an eye on your areas, and I'll do the same. Remember, contact me if you find out any information." With that as their parting words, the dragons returned to their corresponding lairs.
Tsadde stood outside the doorway. He hoped his father was all right. It was proof enough that there were monsters in the vicinity. His father had come home badly injured--he had been completely battered and bruised, not to mention a sprained ankle and a gash above one eye. Right now, his mother and Ayin were treating his wounds.
Ayin came out of the room. "Is he okay?," Tsadde asked anxiously.
Ayin nodded. "He's all right. Mom finished bandaging his leg, and now she's feeding him."
Tsadde looked relieved. "That's good. Did dad say what attacked him?" he said, changing the subject.
Ayin pondered for a moment. "He said it had claws and sharp teeth. Sort of like a dragon-but a lot smaller."
That seemed to satisfy Tsadde. He turned to look out the window. "I hope that they don't come here."
Ayin looked at her younger brother. She was two years older than him, but she didn't treat him like a baby. In fact, she was glad to have someone that she could talk to. Ayin tied back her jet black hair and went beside Tsadde. "Something's not right," she said.
Tsadde looked at her as if she had just flipped her lid. "Heh? You feeling okay Ayin?"
Ayin looked straight into his azure eyes. "I'm not kidding Tsadde! Monsters wouldn't just pop out of nowhere. It's all too weird."
Tsadde started to say something, but there was suddenly a loud crash.
"It came from downstairs!," Ayin said, alarmed. "Stay here, Tsadde." She started down the stairs. Ayin was shocked to see what had just entered their house. A group of about five or six lizard things had crashed through the wall, and now were belching fireballs at every piece of furniture they owned. Ayin raced back up the stairs.
"What was it?," Tsadde asked, seeing his sister rushing up the stairs.
"Those lizard things. They're inside the house!"
"What are we going to do?," Tsadde asked, looking scared. Ayin grabbed his wrist. "We've got to get out of here, the house is going to burn down!" She pushed her way through the door of her father's room. "Mom! Dad! We gotta split. Those lizards have just broken in downstairs and they're spitting out these fireballs and-"
"How can we leave if the monsters have overrun the first floor?" her mother inquired, her eyes wide with fear.
Ayin gritted her teeth, she hadn't thought of that. "Out the window!" she said; it was the only way.
Tsadde came in the room, closing the door behind him. "They're coming up the stairs! And it's not pretty!"
Their father struggled to his feet, leaning on his wife for support. "Ayin, open that chest over there. Tsadde, get the cloak from inside the closet." Ayin opened the old chest in the corner. There was a sword inside, a pretty old one too. She picked it up. Tsadde had grabbed the cloak. Their mother had opened the window as wide as it could go. "Ayin, take the sword. You go down first. Tsadde, go after her, we'll be behind you," their father said. Ayin strapped the sword at her side and climbed out the window, using the trellis as a ladder. Tsadde started down after her, when suddenly a loud shriek came from outside the door. Tsadde was only half way down, but he knew that the bedroom door had been breached.
"MOM!! DAD!!" Ayin was already down on the ground. "HURRY, TSADDE!! MOM, DAD-GET OUT OF THERE!!"
Suddenly, there was a huge burst of flames through the window. Tsadde gasped as the bedroom became engulfed in fire. "NOO!!" The trellis had started to catch fire. Tsadde let himself fall the rest of the way, and he landed on his feet alongside Ayin, who looked up at the bedroom window in disbelief.
"Come on Ayin," Tsadde said with tears in his eyes, "We have to go! It won't do us any good to stay here!" Ayin pried her eyes off the smoldering house and surveyed the town, or whatever was left of it anyways. The town of New Tamur was nearly laid to waste, and the lizard-like monsters were running rampage. Some of the lizards had spotted them, and were now moving towards them, and fast.
"Aaayin!," Tsadde cried, grasping his sister's arm in a deathlock. Ayin's hand went instinctively for the sword at her side. With a loud cry she ran at the lizards, her eyes stinging with tears, slashing and hacking at the foul creatures who dared to invade their town, who killed their parents and destroyed everything they knew. A hand placed upon her shoulder brought her back to reality. It was Tsadde. She embraced her brother, letting the tears flow.
"It's okay Ayin. We've still got each other. We'd better leave before those other lizards find out that you totally mutilated their friends." Somewhat comforted by his words, she sheathed her sword and they retreated from the demolished town. From a distance, a lone figure had watched all this with great interest.
"Ayin, hey Ayin. Wake up."
Ayin woke up, her arms and legs feeling sore. "Huh, oh, good-morning Tsadde."
Her brother looked relieved and smiled. "Feeling better?"
Ayin nodded. "Yeah. Where are we?"
Tsadde shrugged. They had been running blindly all night, not sure where they were headed, only knowing they just wanted to get as far away from New Tamur as possible.
Ayin sat up. "I'm hungry, you?"
Tsadde nodded eagerly. "Starved." He stood up and looked around. "I wonder how far Meribia is from here," he said.
"Meribia?" said Ayin standing up beside him. "Meribia's in the Katarina Zone East. We're in the right area. Father said it's past Azado, and Vane! I've always wanted to go there! We can make it. Yes, I'm sure we can."
Tsadde looked doubtful. "I don't think we'd last without supplies, and especially with all those monsters running around. You're the only one with the weapon."
Ayin thought for a moment. "We'll get the supplies and weapons we need at Azado. It shouldn't be far from New Tamur."
That seemed to satisfy Tsadde, but then he clapped his hand over his mouth. "How're we supposed to pay for all that stuff!?"
Ayin groaned. Now that would be a problem. "Worry about that when we get there," she decided, and started walking. Tsadde shrugged and went after her.
They hadn't gone far when a couple of buzzards with the heads of skulls swooped down upon them. Ayin screamed. "Yuck! Why can't monsters look cuter!?"
"Then they wouldn't be called monsters!" Tsadde retorted, as he dodged the sharp talons of one of the fowl monsters. Ayin gripped the handle of her sword tightly. She swung at the buzzards. Amidst the feathers, Tsadde saw that his sister was definitely a natural when it came to sword-swinging. Ayin wiped her forehead as the last of the monsters went down. "You're getting good at that," Tsadde piped up. Ayin smiled. "Let's go before anything else decides to show up."
The way to Azado was quite far, New Tamur was a fairly isolated town; being it that most of the big trade routes were more to the north of the zone. Ayin wondered if they were even going the right way. Both she and Tsadde were exhausted, especially since that last run in with the buzzard freaks. They hadn't eaten since yesterday.
Ayin looked back at Tsadde, who had been lagging behind. His fatigue had begun to show, the way he had been stumbling and stopping to catch his breath more often than he had when they had started. It didn't seem as if Ayin were doing any better.
"Ayin! Here, you carry this cloak--it's heavy! Besides, I don't think I could take another step." Tsadde flung the cloak to his sister, and Ayin was surprised to find that it was indeed heavy. What could be weighing this thing down? She examined it as she waited for brother to catch up.
"Hey Tsadde! Look what I found!" Ayin triumphantly held out a few silver coins. "I found them inside this pocket. That's why the cloak was so heavy."
They decided to take the time to count them; it'd give them time to rest. The grand total added up to 1,000 pieces of silver. Ayin and Tsadde were thrilled. "Now we know how to pay for supplies!" Tsadde said happily.
"If only we could just find the town." Ayin strained her eyes to see across the stretch of green meadows and scattered trees. "Tsadde, look!" Tsadde looked where Ayin was, and sure enough, he saw the clusters of buildings in the distance.
"Let's go!" they both said simultaneously, and they sprinted towards town.
People! Civilization at last! Ayin and Tsadde made their way through the town, so happy to be back with human beings. They practically dove into the tavern, eating their fill. Having been satisfied, they decided to go find a decent weapon for Tsadde. Once in the weapon's shop, Tsadde and Ayin gazed at the array of weaponry--from crossbows to scimitars to maces, swords and daggers. Tsadde looked at the swords eagerly. The storekeeper went to assist them.
"Hey there, a little young to be looking for a weapon, aren't we?"
Tsadde rolled his eyes. "Nobody ever said that to Dragonmaster Alex when he came into a weapons store, now did they?"
Ayin elbowed him in the ribs. "What do you suggest for my brother?"
The shopkeeper examined Tsadde for a moment, then handed him a short sword. "That seems light enough for him. What about you miss?"
Ayin smiled and patted the sword at her side. "Got mine already." The shopkeeper was then paid, and the two went to check out the item shop. They purchased a few herbs and food rations. "That should do it," Ayin said.
Tsadde grinned. "All right! Next stop, Meribia!"
"Vane first!" Ayin said. "It's before Meribia. There, we'll be able to see the great library! And the very city that used to fly in the skies during the times of Dragonmaster Alex!"
Tsadde sighed. It was pointless to try and talk her out of it once she started getting interested. Besides , Tsadde thought, from all the stuff I've heard about Vane, it sounds pretty cool. So they began their journey once again.
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