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Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns – Chapter 15


Rain poured from the sky as Devarius and Caspar entered Vaereal. The streets in the village became bare as the storm arrived, people scurrying about trying to find cover. Devarius continued on, his hand above his forehead to see ahead. The rest of his party remained in the forest north of the village. Devarius didn’t want to raise suspicion until he knew for sure they were safe with the Resistance. He grinned when he saw the pub. The Galloping Horse was a small pub in the corner of an alley. Its sign was faded and barely recognizable. He stepped inside.

The inside of the pub appeared abandoned. Devarius frowned. He looked around, but no one stood behind the bar and most of the tables were empty. Only one person sat inside, his face nestled on the table in front of him. He snored loudly. Devarius bit his bottom lip as he made his way to the bar to sit.

“I don’t know what I expected to find,” Paedyn whispered, “but this is definitely not what I had in mind.”

“Good afternoon to you,” a voice said from behind them.

Devarius jumped. He spun around to see an elderly man with white hair and a large mustache standing behind them. The man asleep at the table was no longer there. Devarius tried to determine if it was the same man standing behind him.

“Good afternoon,” Devarius said slowly.

“What can I do you for?”

“Are you the owner of this pub?”

“Yes, sir. I am.”

“How’s business?” Paedyn asked.

The man raised a single brow. “Depends. You got coin you’re willing to spend?”

Paedyn removed a silver dragon from his coin purse and placed it on the bar.

“Business is fine.” The man grinned.

Devarius pressed his lips together. “We’ve traveled a long way. An old man from Kaed told us to come here.”

“Did he now?” Both the man’s eyebrows lifted.

“Yes,” Devarius replied. “But I’m afraid that’s all he told us.”

“Nothing more? How interesting.”

“I don’t know if he planned to tell us more or not. He died trying to protect us.”

The old man bit his lip. “That is ill news. Tell me … why do you come?”

Devarius glanced to Paedyn. “I don’t know if we can speak openly here. I don’t know if I can trust you.”

The old man nodded. “You come seeking the Resistance, do you?”

Devarius’s eyes shifted to the old man. He dared not speak, but he nodded.

The old man stuck out his hand. “Name’s Jonik.”

“Devarius.”

“Paedyn.”

Both men shook Jonik’s hand.

“Come to the back. We can talk more openly back there.”

Jonik walked around the bar and through a door. Shrugging, Devarius and Paedyn followed him. The back room was small and the torchlight was dim, but several chairs awaited them. Jonik sat in a rocking chair that faced several others, grabbed a pipe, and used a small stick he lit in a fireplace next to him to ignite his pipe. Smoke filled the air.

“A little warm for a fire, isn’t it?” Paedyn asked.

Jonik grinned and tapped his pipe in the air. “You’re no longer in the north. Winter is approaching, and it gets cold down here.”

He took a few more puffs of his pipe before placing his feet on the ottoman in front of him.

“Tell me your story. Why do you want to join the Resistance?”

Devarius sighed. “We come from a small village north of Caspar. It was so small it wasn’t even on the map yet, and didn’t have a name. It was growing fast, and probably soon would have been … but the Dragonia Empire destroyed it.”

Jonik’s eyebrows wrinkled. “Why?”

“They believed the village had traitors, that some of us were part of the Resistance.”

“Were there?”

“Not to my knowledge. Three dragonriders appeared one day, rounded up everyone, and began questioning. They hung and burned several people, trying to scare people into confessing, I assume. Many of the people they killed at first were innocent. I know they were, but they didn’t care. When they didn’t get the answers they wanted, they proceeded to kill everyone and destroy all the homes.”

“And you escaped?”

Devarius nodded. “Me and twenty-nine companions.”

“Twenty-nine,” Jonik mused.

“Yes.”

“How were so many able to escape without them noticing?”

Paedyn grinned. “Can I tell this part?”

Devarius nodded.

“Devarius and I set fire to their tents. Even though they took over the village, they didn’t sleep inside anyone’s home. They kept tents in the village. I assume they weren’t worried about anyone doing anything to the tents because of their dragons, but they don’t know us very well.”

Jonik tilted his head. “How did you distract the dragons?”

“We set the hogs loose and sort of led them to their camp. Apparently, the dragons were hungry. While they were distracted, Devarius and I approached from behind with torches and ignited the tents.”

“Interesting,” Jonik said.

“Once the tents were aflame, we rushed back to the others and fled the village. We only convinced twenty-eight others to come with us. The others … I fear the worst.”

“I imagine so,” Jonik said. “How were you able to hide from them after that? I imagine they would be hot on your trail, so to speak.”

“I know a few tricks.” Devarius shrugged.

Paedyn grinned. “We made a mess of our tracks in the forest north of Caspar.”

“Still … I imagine they are still after you?”

“We’ve been evading them the whole way south.”

“They didn’t follow you here, did they?” Jonik asked.

“We led them east to Sephreal, while we came south. I don’t know how long they will be delayed, but we are not being followed,” Devarius said.

Jonik scratched his chin.

“I’m assuming the Resistance isn’t here. We have to travel again … don’t we?” Devarius asked.

“Yes,” Jonik said. His brow furrowed as he puffed on his pipe. He moved it away and pressed his lips tightly together.

“Your expression tells me it is most likely in the direction we sent the dragonriders off our trail.” Devarius paused. “It is … isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Jonik responded.

“Where?” Devarius asked.

“I cannot tell you where the Resistance is … especially with the dragonriders so close on your tail.”

“I understand. You don’t want to compromise the location if we have a chance of being captured.”

Jonik nodded.

Devarius sighed. “Where do we need to go to next?”

“Ceydar.”

“Is it at least in the right direction?” Paedyn groaned.

Jonik didn’t answer.

“He cannot answer that,” Devarius said. “He doesn’t want us to have any information to pass over to the dragonriders if we’re captured.”

Jonik nodded.

“Where do we need to go in Ceydar?”

“A tavern called the Blind Mule.”

“Are we looking for anyone in particular?”

“No. Get a room there. I’d leave your party out of the village in the forest to the south. You don’t want to arouse suspicion. The Resistance will find you.” He paused, then laid a coin on the bar. “Pay with this.”

Devarius snatched the small gold coin, brought it to his face, and inspected it closely. It wasn’t a gold dragon. He held a gold crown in his hand. Crowns hadn’t been the currency in over seventy years. His eyes widened. They were allegedly all destroyed.

“How much more of this goose chase do we need to endure before we can actually join the Resistance?” Paedyn asked.

“This should be the last for you,” Jonik said. “If you make it there without being tracked, you should be led to them.”

“Good,” Paedyn said.

“You have to realize.” Jonik paused. “The Resistance is an old idea. In fact, it was started the same time the Dragonia Empire was rising to power. One close adviser to the emperor of the time didn’t agree with his tyranny to rise to power. He thought there should be peace throughout the land. Not fear of an empire, and especially not by dictation and force. The emperor and him split ways, and he created the Resistance. But even after all these years, there isn’t much the Resistance can do to battle the empire. What can a few humans do against hundreds of dragons? What can thousands of humans do against hundreds of dragons?”

“Is there no hope to defeat the Dragonia Empire?” Devarius asked.

“There is always hope. We’re constantly developing weapons that can aid us in a battle against dragons. But until we are fully prepared to fight the Dragonia Empire, we cannot compromise the Resistance. If they learn our location too early, then there will be little chance anyone will ever overthrow the Dragonia Empire.”

“I understand.”

The door behind them rattled and Jonik stood, hand on the dagger at his belt. A man stepped inside, and Jonik visibly relaxed. The man wore a brown peasant cloak and had a grimy face.

“Jonik.” He turned to the others, narrowing his eyes.

“They are safe … enough.”

“Dragonriders are coming to the village.”

Jonik raised an eyebrow.

“There are six dragonriders in Laeraed. One has scouted Kaedur and the other here. It seems whatever they found in this direction interested them. They’re approaching from the east, blocking off any escape in that direction.”

Devarius stood. “It seems we must go.”

Paedyn’s jaw dropped. “Where could we possibly go where the dragonriders wouldn’t find us?”

The peasant turned to Paedyn and Devarius. “Are they who the dragonriders are after?”

“I’m afraid so,” Jonik said. “They want to join the Resistance … if they can survive long enough.”

“Thanks for the encouragement,” Paedyn muttered.

“How long before they arrive?” Devarius asked.

“Nightfall,” the peasant replied.

Devarius bit his upper lip. “We need to gather the rest of the party in the forest north of here, but then I don’t know where we should go to avoid the dragonriders. We’re kind of in a corner here.”

“Want my advice?” Jonik asked.

“Yes, please.”

“You won’t like it.”

“I’m sure I’ll like it better than waiting to be captured and tortured by the Dragonia Empire.”

“There are a few unattended ships on the coast. If you think you and your party can manage the sails, you could commandeer a ship and travel west into the sea.”

Devarius frowned.

“I told you that you weren’t going to like it.” Jonik grinned.

“I’ve heard stories about the western sea. Isn’t that where the dragons come from?”

“That is the claim. Don’t travel too far. Go west for a while, and then travel south around Kaeldroga. Be careful, it’s cold down there, especially at sea. On the south side of Kaeldroga, there will be two rivers traveling north from the sea into the land. Take the second river, the one on the east side, upstream north as far as you can. That will get you close to Kaedur. Then Ceydar is right across the bay from there.”

“Right,” Paedyn muttered. “Right across the bay. A nice, easy swim away.”

“It’s better than where we’re at now,” Devarius said.

“You’d better go,” Jonik said.

Devarius moved to Jonik and shook his hand. “Thank you.”

Paedyn and Devarius left the tavern. Rain continued to fall. Lightning filled the sky.

“Hopefully, this storm delays them. I don’t imagine this is great flying weather. Hopefully, they’ll travel by foot,” Devarius said.

“We can hope,” Paedyn whispered.

“Go to the camp and gather the others. Bring them to the docks.”

“Right through the village. What if people see and tell the dragonriders?”

“That’s a chance we’ll have to take.” Devarius glanced around. “But it doesn’t seem anyone is outside during this storm. They may notice people moving through the village from their safety inside, but it seems unlikely they’ll know exactly where we’re going without coming outside to witness it.”

Paedyn nodded. “What will you be doing?”

Devarius grinned. “Getting us a ship.”

Paedyn clasped Devarius’s shoulder before running north. Devarius sped west until he found the docks. The storm appeared even worse over the sea. He gulped. Perhaps the dragonriders wouldn’t follow them into the stormy waters. Perhaps they would survive the journey.

He found two empty sail ships that met his standards. It had to be large enough to hold twenty-eight people, sturdy, and easy enough to sail with an inexperienced crew. He decided to pick the one with less wear. He began preparing the sails to the best of his knowledge. Devarius had spent a little time on a ship before, but he’d never captained one.

He waited. It took less than an hour for Paedyn and the rest of the party to appear. They weren’t too far in the forest north of Vaereal. Once everyone was on board, Paedyn helped Devarius lift the anchor. The wind immediately grabbed the sails.

“The wind is strong west,” Devarius called.

Paedyn nodded as the ship sped out to sea. “That is good … for now.”

“Well …” Devarius brushed his hand over his head. “You’ve always wanted your own boat.” He gestured to the steering helm.

Paedyn grinned as he put his hand on the helm. “Excellent.”


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