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Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns – Chapter 21


Two days passed as Devarius led his party toward the mountains. They were all tired, but none of them gave up hope. Without hope, they were nothing. As the neared the mountains, they saw the ruins of a few villages. Rumors had spread through Kaeldroga about the destroyed villages, but no one knew for sure what had happened. As they passed through them, Devarius understood. Many of the buildings were charred or burned into ashes. It was clear to Devarius that dragonriders had been behind the destruction. He wondered what had happened. Had these villages opposed the Dragonia Empire years ago? Was this their punishment?

“How much longer?” Aquila asked.

Devarius spun to face her. She stood straight, but he could tell by her expression that she was exhausted. A gentle wind blew her black hair into her face, and she brushed it out of the way with her hand. She shivered from the wind. Winter grew near, and Devarius hoped they’d find the safety of the Resistance before the snow arrived.

“I don’t know. We were told to reach the mountains … and that they would find us.”

“Encouraging,” Aquila responded.

Devarius glanced to the mountains in the distance. They were close now. He looked behind them to the west at the two setting suns, one red and slightly larger halfway below the horizon, and the other a light orange. Devarius sighed.

“Let’s reach the base of the mountains and camp. If we have to travel any further into the mountains, we’ll wait until morning.”

They reached the base of the mountain range after another hour. Devarius and Paedyn made camp. They roasted a few pheasants they had found at the edge of the forest. Once their meals were finished, they decided to rest.

Devarius took first watch, but before he could take a step, he paused, his hand dropping to the dagger at his belt. A warrior stood outside their camp circle, a hand on the pommel of his sword. Devarius clutched the hilt of his dagger tight. He noticed another warrior standing more than ten feet to the first man’s left. He glanced around and noticed their entire camp surrounded by warriors, each wearing heavy plate armor and scabbards.

Paedyn stepped by Devarius’s side, his short sword unsheathed.

“What is your business here?” the warrior in front demanded.

Devarius bit his lip. He studied all the warriors. “Are you dragonriders?”

“No. I ask again, what is your business here?”

“We’re searching for the Resistance.”

“Why?”

“The dragonriders have destroyed everything we know. Our village is gone. They murdered everyone in it, except us. We escaped, and have been running from them ever since. Our friends, our family … they are all gone. All we have is each other, and no purpose. We want to stop the empire from doing the same to others.”

“So you wish to join the Resistance?”

“Yes,” Devarius said.

“Pack up camp. You’re coming with us.”

“We’re tired. We’ve traveled all day. Can we wait until morning?” Paedyn asked.

“No,” the warrior responded.

“Very well,” Devarius said. He turned to look at his companions. “Everyone pack up. I know you’re all tired, but it looks like we’ve finally reached the Resistance. Soon, everyone will get to rest.”

“The Resistance does not rest,” the warrior said.

“Surely you can give my companions one day. We’ve traveled for weeks to reach you. Besides, not traveling every day is a rest for us.”

The warrior nodded. “Follow me.”

Devarius trailed the warrior closely, with Paedyn by his side. The others traveled behind them, with warriors surrounding their entire group. It looked more like an escort to the gallows than the Resistance leading them to their hidden camp.

The warrior led them into the mountains, winding through hidden paths. Devarius focused hard on their direction, and the ground, trying to learn the path. He saw tracks on the ground, but they were faint, like they’d been made years earlier. But he was sure that was the direction they traveled. He wondered if the Resistance did something to help hide their tracks, or if the dust from the mountains in the breeze kept the old tracks covered.

Wherever they traveled, it wasn’t nearby. Hours of silence passed before they stepped around a curve and a city appeared. Devarius stopped in his tracks. Several of his companions bumped into him from behind. His jaw dropped as he stared at the city. It was definitely a city, not a village. A large stone gate protected it, with ten guards standing outside of it, and inside all the buildings were stone.

“How have you hidden a city in the mountains?”

“Come on, don’t linger,” the lead warrior said.

Devarius flexed his fists as he caught up with the warrior. He shook his head in wonder, wishing the warrior was a bit more social.

They followed the warriors into the city. Hundreds of people in the streets stared at them as they entered. A grin split Devarius’s face. If there were hundreds of people in the streets, how many were in the houses, or the rest of the city?

He’d made it. They’d found the Resistance.

“Welcome to Saefron. Wipe that grin off your face. You will be meeting with the captain and the leader.”

Devarius’s smile didn’t fade, but his lips closed to cover his teeth. He nodded and followed the warrior. Paedyn walked beside him.

“Alone,” the warrior said.

Devarius tilted his head. “Where will they be?”

“They will be safe. A dinner has been prepared where they will be able to feast, and be watched.”

“Watched? They are under my protection. I did not lead them all the way across this land to be watched. I brought them here to help. We want to make the Resistance stronger.”

“The leader will decide. For now, they are being watched,” the warrior snarled.

Devarius gritted his teeth. “Lead the way.”

The warrior led Devarius further into the city. He noticed only two guards following behind. They strode along several alleys, turning left and right a few times, until they approached a barracks. The warrior led him inside, and to a room on the side. He stripped Devarius of his weapons and nodded. Devarius exhaled through his nose as he opened the door. Inside, two men sat in chairs on the other side of a rectangular table. A single chair stood in front of them. Devarius crept to the table as he studied the two men. One had white hair, a mustache, beige platemail, and a cape; the other was younger, with black hair, a neatly trimmed goatee, and muscles bulging from his tan leather armor.

“We hear you’ve been searching for us,” the man with the white hair said.

“For some time. You’re not easy to find.”

The old man smiled. “I’m glad to hear that.”

“Who are you?”

“I am Ellisar. Most call me the leader of the Resistance.”

Devarius nodded and looked to the other man.

“I am Tynaer, the captain of the Resistance.”

“Tell us, who are you?” Ellisar asked.

“My name is Devarius.”

“That is a name, but who are you? Why are you here? Why do you seek the Resistance?” Ellisar asked.

“My companions and I come from a village in the northwest. It wasn’t large enough to be on the map yet—it hadn’t even been named yet. I was helping them build the village. It was becoming home. Dragonriders came.” Devarius took a deep breath. “They heard a rumor there were people with the Resistance with us. They interrogated us, and began hanging us one by one, demanding we confess or expose the traitors. There were no traitors, at least, none that any of us knew. They decided to kill the rest of us. No witnesses, you know?” Devarius shrugged. “I decided I didn’t want to die. A friend and I distracted the dragonriders as we led a party of villagers away. We hid in the forest. Then, we traveled all over Kaeldroga trying to find your hidden city.”

“Quite a story.” Ellisar paused. “One I’d like to hear in more detail, but I’d still like to hear more about you.”

“Me?” Devarius asked.

“Instead of running, or pleading that you’ve done nothing wrong, you decided to find us instead. Clearly you’ve heard of us. If you knew we were real, then you must have had an encounter with us before. Most people don’t believe there’s a Resistance who wants to stop the Dragonia Empire.”

“That’s changing,” Devarius said.

“Perhaps so.” Ellisar crossed his fingers on the table in front of him. “But there’s more to you than that. I can feel it. You’ve had your problems with the Dragonia Empire. Tell me about it.”

Devarius inhaled. “I was a boy.” He rubbed his eyes. “We had little food. There was only enough to feed us. I don’t even think my mother and father ate. There was a bad drought, then a bad freeze during the winter. My parents didn’t pay their taxes to the Dragonia Empire. They couldn’t afford to. We hadn’t sold any of our crops that year. Two dragonriders came. They … they …” Devarius wiped a tear threatening to fall from his eye. “They demanded the taxes, the rightful taxes of the Dragonia Empire as they called it. My parents didn’t have it. They took my parents, and my older brother, and hung them in our front yard. They made my sister and me watch.” Tears streamed down Devarius’s face. “They made crude jokes about the color of our skin, about us being less human than them. Then … then, they took my sister. One of the riders took her onto his saddle and said she would be his. She was a couple years older than me.” He wiped his tears. “They took her and flew off into the distance. I was alone, and without hope. We lived on a farm, and our closest neighbors were leagues away. It was only me, and I had no idea what to do.”

A long moment of silence followed his confession.

“That is quite a story,” Ellisar said.

Devarius looked into the leader’s eyes. “So, if you’re curious if my intentions are sincere, let me assure you, I am here to join you. I am here to help build the Resistance. I am here to make sure the Dragonia Empire pays for what they’ve done, not only for what they’ve done to me, but also for all the things they’ve done against hundreds of other families in Kaeldroga.”

“I believe you,” Ellisar said.

Devarius wiped away the rest of his tears and hardened his face. “What can I do?”

Ellisar’s lips pressed together tight. “Tomorrow, at sunrise, you can be at the courtyard. It is time for your training to begin.”

“Training?”

“How good are you with a sword?”

“I’ve only briefly used one. I know how to use a dagger.”

Ellisar nodded. “Tomorrow you will begin training. First will be conditioning, but soon, weapons training will follow. Bring any man or woman you believe can be skilled with a weapon.” Ellisar shook his pointer finger. “There is no racism or sexism here. The color of your skin doesn’t matter. You’re human. Whether you’re a man or a woman doesn’t matter. You’re human. We will only defeat the Dragonia Empire as a united force of humans. If you notice anyone being treated differently, do not hesitate to tell me.” Ellisar paused. “That being said, Tynaer is a jerk to everyone. But”—his finger continued to waggle—“he is hard for a reason. You will be in shape when he’s through.”

Devarius nodded. “I understand.”

“Are you ready?”

Devarius smiled. “I am.”

“Rest well tonight. The real fun starts tomorrow.”


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