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Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns – Chapter 3


Devarius and his party arrived at Kaed in the late afternoon. The red sun had already set; the orange sun hung in the west, and within an hour the sky would turn golden with its final sunset. Two guards blocked the entrance to the village and studied Devarius and his party carefully.

“What is your business in Kaed?”

“We come seeking shelter for the night. We wish to replenish our inventory before we continue south.”

The guard spat on the ground. “Where are you headed?”

“We are traveling to Laeraed,” Devarius said.

The guard bit his lip. “That’s quite a long journey. Perhaps you should buy a few boats. It would be faster to pass south down the river.”

“Are there good boats in the village?”

“Some of the best. See the woodworker next to the blacksmith. He’ll give you a fair price.”

“Thank you,” Devarius said.

The guards stepped aside, letting Devarius and his party enter. They still watched them as they passed, and Devarius assumed word would spread for the guards on the inside to keep an eye on them. Ever since the Dragonia Empire became stricter on the villages and raised taxes, most cities and villages were wary of travelers.

He walked past the blacksmith and woodworker to a tavern. A few men sat outside smoking their long-stem pipes. Devarius paused to look at the sign: The Shaved Sheep. Below the name of the tavern was a carved image of a sheep looking back at its shaved rear with embarrassment. Devarius shook his head before moving to enter.

Aquila grabbed his arm. “Shouldn’t we check with the woodworker?”

“It’s late. We need to make sure they have a room. Besides, we can find him just fine in the morning.”

She nodded.

Devarius looked back to the party that followed him. “Have everyone stay outside while I see if they have rooms.” He glanced at the young children in his party. “There’s no need to bring children inside until we secure a room.”

“As you wish.” She bowed.

He pushed open the double doors. Smoke filled the interior, as men at every table smoked pipes. Devarius strode past them toward the bar. He sat on a bench and tapped his fingers. The barkeep turned around, wiping a glass clean with a white towel. He set the glass down in front of Devarius.

“What’ll it be fer yah?”

“Ale.”

The barkeep took the glass, turned around, unplugged a cork from a barrel, and filled the glass. He hammered the cork back in and set the glass in front of Devarius.

“That’ll be one copper dragon.”

Devarius laid down a copper coin with the face of a dragon. Ever since the Dragonia Empire took over, they’d replaced all currency with dragon coins. Devarius tilted the glass and took a long gulp.

“New in town?” the barkeep asked.

“Passing through.” Devarius took another gulp.

“Need a room for the night?”

“How much?”

“Two silver dragons.”

Devarius took another sip. “How many does it hold?”

The barkeep grabbed the copper dragon from the bar. “Two beds, large enough fer two people each. Enough room on the floor fer another six.”

“Do you have three rooms available?”

“Three? Quite a large party passing through.”

Devarius tilted his head.

“Yeah … we have three. Tell yah what … I’ll give yah a discount. Five silver dragons for the three rooms.”

Devarius scratched his chin. “Five silver dragons for three rooms and one more refill of ale.”

The barkeep raised his eyebrows. “Deal.”

Devarius shook his hand before taking five silver dragons from his coin purse. He had a little money, and hoped it would be enough to reach the Resistance. The barkeep took the coins, snatched his glass, and filled it to the top.

Devarius grabbed the glass, turned around, and noticed several people staring at him. He turned back to the barkeep.

“Don’t mind them. They don’t often see your kind here.”

“My kind?”

“Yeah. Dark complexion … brown skin. They just aren’t used to it.”

“It’s not going to be a problem, is it?”

“Shouldn’t … but keep your eyes peeled.” The barkeep slid over three keys.

Devarius clutched the keys and put them in his sash before draining the rest of his ale. “Thanks for the tip.”

He stood, then strode out the door. Outside, the sky was darker, and a crimson glow illuminated the torch-lit streets. At first he couldn’t find his party, but then he saw Aquila off to the side, signaling him by an alley. He rushed over.

“What are you doing over here?”

“A few men on the streets were casting strange glances toward some of us. We felt safer if we kept out of sight.”

“Who were they looking at when they made these faces?” he asked.

“It doesn’t matter.”

He grabbed her arm. “Yes … it does.”

Aquila bit her lip. “Me … Jaonos … Kaia … the children, Marlyn and Faelyn.”

He nodded. “Everyone with a dark complexion. This is primarily a pale community. We may need to keep an eye out. It may be nothing … but keep your eyes open.”

She nodded. Aquila opened her mouth as if to speak, but closed it.

“What is it?”

“I overheard a few calling us dark devils.”

Devarius frowned. “Anything else?”

Aquila bit her lip. “I’ve noticed a few people step out of my way when I walk, like my touch might be harmful to them.”

Devarius glanced to the main road and saw a small group of burly men talking amongst themselves. They weren’t pointing, but it was obvious they were talking about Devarius and Aquila.

“Let’s bring everyone inside. I found us a few rooms.”

She nodded again.

Devarius led the way inside; his twenty-nine companions followed him. The pub grew silent when all thirty of them walked to the side of the bar. People pointed and whispered to each other as they walked up the stairs. Devarius helped everyone into the three rooms. He stopped at Aquila and gave her a hug.

“I need you to stay here. Protect everyone.”

“Where are you going?”

“I’m going to do some exploring … make a few inquiries. I’ll try and see if anyone here knows anything about the Resistance. Right now … I have no idea which way to travel. We’re only heading south because it’s the easiest path to find more villages not directly linked with the Dragonia Empire.”

“You don’t need to go alone. Let me go with you,” she pleaded.

He shook his head. “No. It is too dangerous out there. Especially when these people are suspicious of us.”

“That’s why you need someone with you. It’s not safe for you out there.”

He shook his head again. “You’re not coming.”

“You need to take someone with you.”

“Fine … I’ll take Paedyn.”

“Be safe.” She kissed his cheek.

He nodded, then turned around. He motioned to Paedyn, who joined him as he headed to the stairs.

“What’s the plan?” Paedyn asked.

“We need to socialize.”

“We need to drink.” Paedyn smiled.

“We need to fit in,” Devarius said.

Paedyn waggled his eyebrows. “We need to drink.”

“We need to see if anyone has any information about the Resistance … without actually asking them if they know anything about the Resistance.”

“So … we need to drink.” Paedyn grinned.

Devarius sighed. “Let me buy you a drink.”

Paedyn followed Devarius down the stairs. They made their way to the bar and ordered their ale. After a toast, they began talking about the dice games they used to play in Svetrum in the distant past. The barkeep refilled their glasses.

“If you’re looking to gamble, I have none of that in my pub.”

“Where do they have that?” Paedyn asked.

The barkeep sighed. “There’s a pub down the street that runs a lot of dice and card games.”

Devarius raised his eyebrows. “What’s it called?”

“The Silent Monkey.”

Devarius pushed out his bottom lip. “What do you say, Paedyn?”

“Are you feeling lucky?” He wiggled his eyebrows.

“I think I just might be.”

Devarius left a few coins on the counter and exited the bar with Paedyn at his heels. They wandered down the street until they saw a sign with a monkey holding dice and a deck of cards.

Paedyn beamed.

“Delicately,” Devarius reminded him.

Paedyn nodded.

They entered. The pub was crowded. Every table but one was taken, and each table held one game or another. Paedyn rubbed his hands together. Devarius patted Paedyn’s back. They made their way over to the empty table to sit.

A young woman served them two flagons of ale. Paedyn removed a pair octagonal dice from his sash. He shook them in his hand, then tossed them on the table. Both dice landed on seven. Paedyn grinned.

“Lucky roll,” Devarius said.

Devarius picked up the dice and rolled them. Two threes. Devarius grinned. It couldn’t beat two sevens, but it was close.

Paedyn pressed his lips together and nodded his head. They continued throwing dice for half an hour, listening to the conversations around them. Devarius’s shoulders tensed as he heard a conversation at the table to his right. He glanced at Paedyn, then tilted his head to the right to direct his attention. Paedyn nodded before rolling the dice.

“From what I hear, the empire is seeking the Resistance.”

“They’ve always been trying to find the Resistance, old man.”

“Yes, but now they’re really desperate for them … killing anyone who gets in their way. I’ve heard an entire village to the north was destroyed. It was full of the Resistance … right under their nose!”

“Good riddance. They should know by now that no one can fight the empire. No one should. We are safer now with them in control. There aren’t wars between men anymore.”

“Yes … I suppose that is true. However, their rule is tyrannical.”

“Sometimes, you have to rule by force. Men are like cattle—if you let them do what they want, they’ll wander all over the place. You’re not a Resistance sympathizer, are you?”

“Oh, no … I’m too old to get involved. I just want to live out my years in peace.”

Devarius rolled the dice. Their conversation came to a dead end. He knew it wouldn’t be easy to learn whom to talk to. Perhaps the old man did know a few more things than he let on, but they had to be careful about whom they approached. He glanced to his left and froze. A guard stood in the corner of the room, watching them. Devarius recognized the guard from the last pub. He looked away and back to the table, trying not to let the guard know he had seen him.

Paedyn rolled the dice. Seven and nine.

Devarius reached for the dice and whispered, “Don’t look. There’s a guard standing by the wall watching us.”

Paedyn nodded. “There’s another on the wall behind you. He seems to be watching us as well.”

Devarius tightened his face. He knew they couldn’t talk much about it. Just like they sat and listened to the table next to them, others would pay attention to their conversation.

“The Resistance is growing stronger. I wonder if they really can fight against the empire.”

Devarius stiffened. The voice came from the same old man at the table next to them.

“And how would you know that?”

“By the fact that the empire is getting antsy trying to destroy them. We’ve heard about the Resistance for a few years now, but only recently have we heard about the Dragonia Empire going after them. The skies have been busier than ever with dragonriders. It seems they’re searching for something … or someone.”

Devarius turned to his right and noticed the old man staring directly at him. He shivered. Devarius snatched the dice and looked at Paedyn. They stood. The two guards stepped by their side. They grabbed Paedyn and Devarius.

“Come with us, please.”

Devarius raised a brow. “We’ve done nothing wrong.”

“We just have a few questions.”

The guards led them out of the bar. Devarius wasn’t sure what to do. He hoped there wasn’t a dragonrider in the village. The guards led them through a dark alley. After a few more steps, shadows appeared out of the darkness. The guards tensed, unsheathing their weapons. Shadows pounced on them, using blunt weapons to knock out the guards.

Devarius shivered. He stood still. Three shadows stood in front of them. Devarius couldn’t make out their faces.

“The guards seem to think you are part of the Resistance. Is this true?”

Devarius tensed. “No. It’s not.”

“Do you seek them?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I travel with a company of twenty-nine. Their village has been destroyed by the Dragonia Empire for no better reason than they suspected a few of them to be part of the Resistance,” Devarius said.

“You say they … what about you?”

“My family was killed by them for not paying taxes a few years ago when we had a drought and couldn’t afford to pay. I was staying at the village when it was attacked. I helped several escape. They wanted no survivors.”

“Do they know you escaped?”

“Yes. They saw.”

“So … they’re after you?”

“Yes,” Devarius said.

The man stepped out of the shadows so Devarius could see his face. It was the same old man from the pub who had sat at the table next to him. His voice sounded stronger than it had inside, more solid, and younger. The other two stepped out of the shadows as well. One of the others was the younger man from the same table.

“You best find a place to hide then.”

“Wait … are you with the Resistance?”

“You know we cannot answer that.”

“We need to know which way to go. We want to join … but we don’t know how.”

The old man stepped close and leaned to Devarius’s ear. “Vaereal. The Galloping Horse.”

Devarius nodded.

“Now … you must hide for the night before you leave in the morning. After tonight, I assure you that a dragonrider will come soon.”

“Thank you,” Devarius whispered.

He turned to go, but the old man blocked him. “You need to hide. Don’t go back there.”

“I will not abandon the others in my party. They are at the Shaved Sheep.”

The old man nodded. “Follow me … I know a back way.”

They followed the old man through winding alleys. The other two men with him disappeared. After several long minutes, the old man stopped at a back door in a dark alley. He unsheathed a dagger and pried open the door.

“Bring your party out this way. I have a barn you can stay in for tonight. Hurry, before someone sees.”

Devarius nodded as he pushed the door open, then he found his way up the stairs. He hoped the stairs were a back way to the rooms. When he reached the top of the stairs, he noticed three guards standing in the hall in front of their rooms. The guards were forcing his companions out of the room under threat of injury. They had been discovered.

Paedyn touched Devarius’s shoulder and nodded at him. Devarius nodded back. Both men ran straight ahead. The guards turned abruptly to see Devarius and Paedyn charging them. They tossed their prisoners aside as they reached for their swords. Devarius and Paedyn were quicker, crashing into the three guards before they could unsheathe their weapons. Without weapons, Devarius and Paedyn relied on their fists. Once everyone saw what they were doing, many joined. After the three guards lay unconscious, Devarius finally took a breath. They moved the men inside one of the rooms and tied them up with the bedsheets.

“What are we going to do now?” Aquila asked.

“We have a place to stay … but we must hurry before more guards are sent after us,” Devarius replied.

“Is it safe?” she asked.

Devarius raised his eyebrows and shrugged. “I hope.”


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