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Dragonia: Rise of the Wyverns – Chapter 5

Devarius opened his eyes. Sunlight streamed through the slats of the barn. His muscles ached. He had hoped to stay in a bed for at least one night, not a pallet of hay. A few others stirred, waking up for the day. He knew they couldn’t stay long. They would have to leave before more village guards found them. So much for purchasing boats. Too bad, since boats would have taken them south along the river all the way to Laeraed. Their journey could be much easier if Devarius didn’t have to lead everyone on foot.

The door to the barn opened as roosters crowed. Devarius felt for his dagger, a weapon he wasn’t used to carrying, but after recent events, he’d decided to equip it. Devarius relaxed when he recognized the old man from the night previous entering. The man held a large bowl of scrambled eggs and bacon. The scent made Devarius shiver with delight as he inhaled. The pleasant aroma brought the tired villagers awake.

The old man smiled. “I thought you might be hungry for a bite to eat before you begin your journey.”

“Bless you,” Devarius said.

When the bowl was scraped clean, the old man headed for the door.

“You best be off soon,” he called. “With all the guards after you, it will not be safe.”

“We’ll leave at once,” Devarius assured him.

Wings flapping outside startled the group. A bird wouldn’t be loud enough to hear. The old man waved his hand at them in a sign of warning. Devarius hushed everyone in the barn and ushered them into the large piles of hay. He made sure everyone hid deep inside the straw before dashing to a pile of hay on the other side, where he could keep an eye on the other hidden refugees. A chill overcame him as he felt the straw surround him.

The old man tossed the empty bowl to the side as he went to open the door. As his hands reached the handle, the door burst open. A man strode inside. He stood tall, his black hair curled in long wisps, a thin beard covering his lower lip and chin. His body was covered with steel platemail, and a leather scabbard hung at his side. The platemail bore an emblem of a dragon on its chest, defining him as a dragonrider.

“Where are the traitors?”

“Traitors? I am but a farmer. All I know is my chickens and cows.”

“Do not play coy with me, old man. I will strike you down here and now. Give me the location of the traitors, and I’ll give you your life.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh you don’t, do you?” The dragonrider glared around the barn. He tilted his head back and sniffed the air. “Tell me, farmer, why does it smell like bacon and eggs in here? Do you feed your chickens and cows bacon and eggs for breakfast?”

The old man tensed. “No, but I eat them.”

The dragonrider unsheathed his sword, took two steps toward the old man, and cleaved his head from his shoulders with two hard blows. Devarius watched from behind a bale of hay as the man’s head crashed to the ground and rolled toward the other hidden refugees. He saw the wide eyes of the two children. Devarius prayed the children wouldn’t make a sound. Their mother pulled them closer, putting her hands over their mouths. The hay rustled against her touch. Devarius winced, hoping the dragonrider hadn’t heard the sound.

After impaling the ground with his sword to clean it of blood, the dragonrider stormed out of the barn. Devarius waited for several minutes before crawling out of the hay. He didn’t know what he could do. If he distracted the dragonrider, perhaps the others could escape, but he wasn’t trained like the dragonrider, nor did he have a sword. Besides, where would everyone go without him?

Something burned his nostrils.

He turned his attention to the door. Smoke entered from underneath. Dragonsbreath sounded from outside, crackling against the walls of the barn. The dragon was going to burn them alive.

Devarius moved quickly, ushering his companions out of the hay. He turned to the barn door. It was aflame. Most likely, the dragonrider stood right outside. He sprang for the rear. Smoke filled the barn, strangling his breath and clouding his vision.

Finding the exit, he called, “Everyone, to me!”

Paedyn helped him usher everyone to the rear door. While Paedyn rounded up everyone, Devarius tried to open the door, but it was jammed. He crashed against it several times, trying to force the door open. Fire blazed through the pallets of hay his company had slept on. He gritted his teeth and tried harder to break down the door. Paedyn soon joined him. Nausea overcame Devarius, and he had a hard time swallowing. He felt that he’d condemned his party to die because of his foolishness.

“One, two, three,” Paedyn whispered.

Devarius and Paedyn threw their shoulders against the door. It shattered. They stumbled out of the barn as smoke poured out all around them. They coughed in fits. Their party crawled out behind them, hacking and coughing, gasping for fresh air. Devarius counted to make sure no one was left behind, and exhaled in relief. Spent, he collapsed to the ground.

A scream filled the air. Footsteps approached. He opened his eyes to see the dragonrider behind him. At the man’s side sat a massive red dragon.

Devarius cursed.

The dragonrider smiled. “Good morning.”


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