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 Category:  Fantasy Fiction
  Posted: December 6, 2019      Views: 145
Chapters:
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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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This work has reached the exceptional level

Chapter 22 of the book Aaron's Dragons
the dragons discover their talents
"Dylan Meets the Witch" by Cindy Warren

Background
The dragons are discovering what they can do. Aaron knows the upcoming battle will decide the fate of the kingdom. He must decide how to use the dragons' talents to help.


Aaron looked over at Duane, wondering if he should wake him, but the boy had woken on his own. He was visibly shaken.

"Purple," he began. "Did it get her? She made me wake up."

"She's okay. Black grabbed her up by the tail and got her out of there. We have a new problem." He considered telling Duane to stay where he was, then thought the better of it. Being shut out of things would probably scare him worse than the reality.

"The woman is here. She wants to see us. There must be trouble," said Aaron.

They found Dylan already at the cabin. The witch was there as well. She sat in the only chair, looking hazy and semi-transparent. Aaron didn't think she looked well, even considering her current state. Pink and White were perched nearby, and Mountain and Yellow had followed Aaron and Duane.

"They're coming, four days from now, at our northern border," she said. "You know where the salt licks are. They plan to cross the border at dawn, then head for the palace. I see them trying to install one of their own princes as king."

"I know the place," said Dylan. "We'll have to get there ahead of them to prevent them taking the high ground."

"We'll have to cross the border ourselves to prevent that," said Aaron.

"You can discuss the details later," said the witch. "I'm giving you what information I can. You're without a king, and I believe they intend to force a marriage with the princess and take over the rule. She probably won't live long after that. The marriage is simply to make their rule seem legitimate."

"How many?" Dylan asked.

"Many. Thousands. You have many angry people looking for a fight. Use that. Direct the anger at the invaders, and it should help with some of the trouble you're having now."

"Did you know Black saved Purple?" Duane piped up.

"I know."

"Did you tell him to?"

"No," she replied. "He did that on his own. I suspect some of the others will discover their talents in the next day or two. And young man, I suggest you tell Aaron who you are. Tell him everything you know. You need to trust each other. What's more, I see trouble here, tomorrow. Make sure the forest dragon is not in that hole."

"Perhaps we should leave here in the morning," said Aaron.

"I would not recommend that," she said. "If they find nothing here, they'll spread across the countryside looking for you. I see only about a dozen men, but that's more than enough to burn a lot of farms. Let them think they've killed you. Pink will know what to do."

With that, the witch was gone.

"What did she mean about the others discovering their talents?" Duane asked.

"I suppose it means they have some tricks we haven't seen yet. We'll find out pretty soon."

Aaron and Dylan spent the next hour making plans, and Dylan announced it was time for him to go. Sky suddenly appeared in the cabin holding a pear in her claw. She handed it to Dylan, who took the fruit and looked around the cabin, shocked. The door and all the windows were all closed.

"How did she do that?"

"I don't know," Aaron said. There was no way Sky could have opened the root cellar, or gotten into the cabin, yet here she was, with a pear.

"It's one of the talents the woman told us about," said Duane.

"Is it safe to eat?" asked Dylan.

"Yes. I know where it came from, but it was locked up tight. It appears walls won't keep our little Sky out."

"Or in," said Duane.

"I wish I didn't have to go. I think you're in for an interesting evening," said Dylan, taking a bite from his pear. "Got another one?"

Sky disappeared, and soon returned with a pear in one claw and a turnip in the other. The humans all burst out laughing. Aaron looked at Pink and tried to control himself.

Pink and White stared at them as though they were looking right through them. Sky tried to copy the sound, which only made them laugh more.

"They're trying to read our minds," said Duane.

"I'm getting the same impression," said Aaron. "They got scared the last time we couldn't stop laughing. Now they're trying to understand it."

Dylan had finished his pear, and he took the second one as well as the turnip, and left. "You know where to meet me," he said.

"I guess he didn't like having his mind read," said Duane.

"Since I can't read minds, you're going to have to tell me what's on yours," said Aaron. "Soon enough we're going to have to ride into town, or to the castle. I know some people have been looking for you. It's time you told me why."

"I didn't do anything."

"Who did? Why did the king want Dylan to find you? You're okay. If Dylan wanted to hand you over, he would have. He's known from the start it was you they were looking for."

"My uncle and my cousin. They said they wanted to poison the king. They weren't really going to do it. They said those things because they were mad when the taxman took their cows when they couldn't pay taxes. They talked too much, and some old gossip told on them. When the soldiers came, they took my whole family. My dad told me to run, and I did."

"You know somebody always tried the king's food first before he ate it, and only a couple of cooks could get near it. It's unlikely anyone could have done anything like that."

"That's what I said. He only said he was going to kill him because he was mad. He wasn't really going to do it."

"Okay. I'm glad you told me. If anyone asks, you've been with me since spring. Okay?"

"Okay."

The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully. Come evening, Aaron had to explain to Brown why she couldn't use her cave any more.

"There's no way out," he said. "If you're found, you'll be trapped."

He had Duane prepare as much food as they'd be able to carry, keeping it in the root cellar until it was time to go. Aaron had decided to feed Dylan's men as best he could. He was glad for the second horse, though he had mixed feelings about taking Duane along. Since there was no safe place for him to go, and the boy wanted to come, he had reluctantly agreed.

Night fell too quickly, and morning also came too soon.

At sunrise, dragons were posted as lookouts along the road and deer trail. As the witch had predicted, they soon spotted a dozen men riding along the trail. With them were two large hunting hounds. The dogs soon found the little cave that had been home to Purple and Brown. Had they found them, they would have torn them to pieces.

As it was, the scents they found seemed to confuse the dogs. One of the men came to check it out.

"It's some kind of den," he said. "Whatever was in there ain't there now."

The dogs dug franticly, certain they'd found something. Their owners were unable to call them off, and from his vantage point, Aaron was able to put arrows into two of the men.

That was when things took a turn for the strange.

A dozen new men suddenly appeared in the clearing. Aaron noticed they all looked a lot like himself and Dylan. The invaders fired at the newcomers, and the arrows simply passed through them. Aaron was able to put an arrow into the shoulder of another man. The dogs, who should have easily tracked the real humans and their horses, were totally befuddled. One rubbed his nose on the ground.

"It's wizardry!" screamed one man, who had attacked one of the illusions with a sword.

Arrows, which had somehow found their way to the cabin's roof, lifted off and aimed themselves at the invaders. Many were the same weapons they themselves had fired. Arrows lifted themselves from the ground and flew from all directions.

The cabin appeared to catch fire and plumes of flames shot toward the enemy, singeing one man's hair and beard. Thinking he was on fire, he leapt from his horse and rolled on the ground.

The invaders continued firing at the illusions, obviously thinking one or two had to be real. Their arrows did no harm, and continued to fly back up from the ground at the ones who had shot them. Finally, Aaron watched two of the illusions fall to the ground. He felt a chill up his spine, watching what looked like himself and Dylan fall and die.

The arrows stopped flying, but the flames continued. A sudden breeze blew flame and smoke directly at the men.

"We got them! Lets get out of here before the whole forest catches fire!"

Whoever had said that got no argument. His remaining comrades followed him down the trail at top speed. Their dogs ran after them, letting out blood curdling hound dog howls.

The two Dragoyles sat on the roof, looking very pleased with themselves.

"You made those arrows fly?"

They chittered happily.

The flames vanished along with the other illusions. Other than Purple's destroyed cave, very little damage had been done to the cabin. Unfortunately, four men lay dead. The dragons gathered around the bodies.

"NO!" Aaron was horrified when he saw what they were about to do. "We don't eat people. Not even enemies."

Pink looked at him, confused. "You cook them first?"

"No. We don't eat them at all. If you're hungry, I'll send Duane to the root cellar. You did a good job. You deserve something special for dinner, but not people."

Duane emerged from the trees where he had been hiding, his eyes like saucers after what he had just seen.

"Go get a shovel," Aaron told him. "And you can cook that rabbit for dinner. Make something special for them."

Aaron didn't think the invaders would be back for their dead, so he decided to bury them. The hard work helped settle him. Whatever else they might be, they were human, and he couldn't let the dragons eat them.

He gathered the horses that had been left behind, unsaddled them, and tied them near Demon. He'd have pack horses for the trip, and then he'd hand them over to Dylan.

With that done, he was ready to talk to Duane and the dragons, and possibly look at some food.

The book continues with Preparing for Battle. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.
Pays one point and 2 member cents. Artwork by cleo85 at FanArtReview.com

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