| "My, how frequently we've been meeting
these past few days," Seren observed. The dragons were called
to gather once again, this time, at Taben's Peak.
"Because Ruby complains of the temperatures at my place, I thought it'd be best to meet somewhere more...moderate," Nall explained.
"Hmph!" said Ruby. She still hadn't said anything to Nall since she slugged him at Vane.
"What now, Nall?" a somewhat impatient Denyx asked.
"Well, Ruby and I have been checking out the Katarina Zone East. We've been keeping an eye on those two from New Tamur. We watched them all the way to Vane."
"Yeah, then he put up a stupid roadblock at the entrance so they'd have to pass through the Cave of Trials," Ruby said, still turned away from Nall.
Seren and Denyx looked slightly amused. "Roadblock? Nice plan. What good did it do?" Denyx asked, on the verge of laughter.
"It was supposed to test them! And it did-they passed through that cave in no time!"
Ruby laughed smugly. "Yeah, we wasted our time watching a couple of kids run through a maze. I thought we were looking for the next Dragonmaster! If one of those kids were to be it, then why didn't you give them the ring?!"
"Sheesh Ruby, it's not like you get one by just putting in a coin and turning the knob! Besides, I'm not absolutely sure who it is exactly. Right now, I guess we should all return to our lairs. I'll keep you guys posted, uh, we'll meet here later on. Before sundown, got it?"
"Right!" the others said, and they went on their own separate ways.
The first phase of his plan had been successful. Tallas decided to go on with the next, and that meant to get rid of the dragons. Since it is unwise to go against all four at once, then I shall strike where it will hurt them most. I shall weaken them with a single blow, and that blow shall be against the white dragon. Hmph, let's see them get a Dragonmaster then. Footsteps sounded behind him, Tallas whirled around. It was only Daleth, his only acolyte, the only trustworthy person he could find. She was loyal to him, and was devoted to helping him fulfill his destiny. "Daleth," he said, his voice stern and cold, "Come, let us pay the white dragon a visit." The two disappeared in a flash.
Three figures stood at the balcony of the Vane Magic Guild. Ayin gazed towards the huge tower-shaped object in the distance. "Rykea, what is that over there?"
The boy blinked his gray eyes and looked to the north. "Oh, that. That's just Taben's Peak. It's been abandoned for years. Sometimes I go there, just to think. If I remember correctly, Hiro traveled up there once. There used to be some sort of gang that used the old place as a hide-out, but they're long gone now."
"Taben's Peak..." Ayin thought about her dream. Go to Taben's Peak , it had said. "I have to go there. You're probably thinking that I've lost my mind, but I haven't. I just know I have to go there."
Tsadde rolled his eyes. Rykea stood there silently. Then he spoke. "Well, if you want to go to Taben's Peak, I can take you. If we leave right now, we'll make it there at sundown."
Ayin looked surprised. "Are you sure? You'd do that?"
Ayin smiled. "Let's go then." So the trio went to prepare for the trip.
"Rykea," Lemria said, "I really don't think you should be going out there. You know it's dangerous. I don't want you getting hurt. Why are you going to Taben's Peak anyways? There's nothing there."
"You don't know that mother. I don't know that. That's why I'm going. Besides, I know my way there, so I've decided to help Ayin and Tsadde. Please understand."
The Guild Mistress looked a bit hurt to see her only son go, but then she smiled weakly. "I have faith in you. Please be careful Rykea. I knew you'd be adventuring on your own sooner or later." She waved him off, and Rykea ran to join his two friends who waited for him at the front gate.
Nall stepped into the cold, quiet caverns he called home. Why does Ruby have to complain so much? It's not that cold. He walked deeper into the cave when he stopped abruptly. Something is not right. I have a bad feeling about this.
Cautiously, he continued. Upon reaching the lair, he found two intruders waiting there. "Hello Nall. Surprised?"
Nall stepped back. "Who are you and what are you doing in my lair!?!"
The heavily cloaked figure raised his hand towards him. "You shall know soon enough. I will have control of Lunar, but first I must take care of the dragons; and being it that you are the leader, I thought that it would make it much easier if I disposed of you. Cower before the future ruler of Lunar, TALLAS!!" His hand now held a red glowing ball of light, and it's size and brilliance seemed to increase with each second.
Nall reached for his sword, but Tallas did not wait. "RED SLAYER!!!"
Nall took a direct hit, the force of it slamming him against the hard ice walls. He groaned and tried to reach his sword which had been knocked aside.
A heavily plated boot stepped on it. "Not so tough as a human, are you, little dragon boy?" Tallas prepared another blast.
Nall gritted his teeth. Ambushed in my own lair! Just like my father Quark... "NO!!" Nall lept up with a newfound strength, dodging the oncoming blast. He stood facing Tallas, getting ready to return to his normal, more powerful form. Nall suddenly winced in pain and fell to the ground. The other one! I forgot about the other... Darkness washed over him.
Daleth sheathed her scimitar. "Well done Daleth," complimented Tallas. "I thought for a moment that you might let me do all the work."
Daleth stood emotionless. "I thought only of the precious amount of time we had been wasting," she said.
Tallas nodded. "Well, let us return."
Tsadde lagged behind Rykea and Ayin. Not that he was tired or anything, but he sort of had the feeling that Rykea probably liked his sister. He looked at the looming form of Taben's Peak ahead. It was getting closer and closer. Soon they'd be there, and then Ayin could explain why she was acting so weird.
Rykea clutched his staff. "Not much farther now." He suddenly felt a rumbling under foot, as a strange creature (literally) reared its ugly head. "Aw, we had to run into something!" Several more of the creatures surrounded the trio.
"Ayin, ready to slice and dice?" Tsadde asked eagerly.
"Ready when you are!" Ayin answered back.
They charged at the creatures closest to them. Rykea stood his ground. He batted a few away with his staff. Then he let 'em have it. "FIRE SQUALL!!"
A sudden burst of flames came up and swirled around the monsters, faster and faster, until it had totally engulfed them. Ayin and Tsadde had done their part as well.
"Phew! Guess that's it," Ayin said.
Rykea nodded. "Come on, let's go. Taben's Peak is not far now."
It was nearly sundown. Seren had reached Taben's Peak early, and was now pacing the room. Denyx arrived next. "Hi Seren. Where's Nall? I know Ruby's always late, but Nall should have been here first."
Seren looked out the window. "Nall hasn't come yet. Perhaps he came across Ruby on the way over."
Denyx laughed. If that were the case, then it was no wonder that Nall was late. Ruby would be blabbing all the way over here, he thought.
But just then, Ruby entered the tower. "I'm he-ere! So, find anything out N-" Ruby looked around. "Where is Nall?!"
Denyx stepped towards her. "We were hoping that you knew."
Ruby shook her head. "Haven't seen him. He did say to meet at sundown, right?"
Seren began to look worried. "It isn't like Nall to be late, especially since it was his call for a meeting."
Just then, they heard footsteps coming from upstairs. The three looked eagerly towards the doorway. To their disappointment, as well as surprise, three teenagers entered the room. They looked a bit startled to see the three dragons, apparently they had not been expecting anyone to be present in the abandoned tower, and there was no reason why they shouldn't have been. "Uh, hi," the youngest said nervously.
The girl gulped and stepped forward. "I'm looking for Nall."
Ruby didn't take long to find her voice. "Hey, you're the ones that went through the trial caves!"
The girl looked surprised. "How do you know that?! Who are you?"
"I'm Ruby," came the reply, and she made a dainty little curtsy, at which Denyx started snickering.
"I am called Seren," the tall blue-haired woman said.
Denyx, having recovered from his fit of laughter (with a little 'help' from Ruby), introduced himself as well.
"Pleased to meet you all," Rykea said. "I am Rykea Ausa, premier of Vane. My companions are Ayin and Tsadde Yutsora."
Denyx examined the three again. "So you're the ones Nall's been talking about. Hmmm..."
"Where is Nall?" Ayin inquired once again.
"Haven't seen him," Ruby said, and Seren nodded in accordance.
"Something must be wrong," Denyx said, his scarlet eyes flashing.
"Nall wouldn't be late or anything without telling us first. Somebody better check out his lair."
"His lair?" Ayin asked, looking a little confused.
"No way, uh-uh. I'm not going to that ice-box!" Ruby said stubbornly.
"Fine, be that way," said Denyx, "I'll just go check it out myself." With that, he went out to the open forum and transformed.
Ayin, Tsadde and Rykea looked both in awe and fear as the looming shadow of the black dragon towered over them. Denyx was just about to take off when Ayin stopped him. "Wait!! You're going to look for Nall?"
The great black dragon nodded. "Can I come too? It's really important that I see him!"
Tsadde, still staring at the huge beast, moved closer to his sister. "Are you crazy?! " he hissed, hoping he would not do anything to provoke the dragon.
Ayin ignored him.
Denyx thought for a moment. "Climb aboard," he said in a deep booming voice, quite different from the one used in his human form.
Rykea gathered up his courage. "If you're going, then I'll come too," he said.
Tsadde sighed. "Guess you can count me in."
The three climbed onto the dragon's back. "We'll be back," Denyx called to Seren and Ruby, as he spread his enormous wingspan and took off.
Seren watched until her friend was nothing but a speck on
the horizon. She turned to Ruby, her blue eyes filled with worry.
"I hope nothing is wrong."
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