Authors: Casey Knight
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This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, and events are the work of the author’s imagination.
Any resemblance to real persons, places, or events is coincidental.
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Copyright 2014 Casey Knight
By Casey Knight
I clutched Traygen’s ring to my chest desperately seeking for any sign of Traygen being
alive. Sinking to my knees, I held my breath fearing I might miss even the faintest hint of Traygen’s energy, nothing - no, I could feel a faint murmur, elusive, ebbing. Yes. Traygen, my love you are alive and I will find you. I swear it.
“Lauren, are you all right?”
“Trevor, Traygen is alive. I feel it in his ring. It is only a thread, the barest of connections, gossamer thin. But, it is there, and we will find him, now that we know Ragnar is involved.”
“What do you propose? The Isle of Man is where we assume the Vikings were headed.”
“Exactly, we will need a small raiding party and enough supplies to last us for a week or more. How quickly can we get everything set up?”
’t take too long. We will need to rest the men and gather supplies. These men have been fighting for months now. However, they would do anything for Traygen. I’ll go speak with General Wingo and I’ll let you know what he recommends.”
I made no effort to move
. My mind whirled like a pinwheel, flashing from one memory of Traygen to the next. A kaleidoscope of vivid images, spinning, and they shook me to my core. Could I finally be close to holding him again? He just had to be alive. I felt his presence. It wasn’t just his spirit. No, I wouldn’t let my mind go there. It wasn’t just his spirit. I knew it was more. It was time to contact Jason and Tokem. It would take them longer than usual to get here. They were still in hiding with Traygen’s father. I would need their help to save Traygen. Hopefully, they would return before we left for The Isle of Man but, I wouldn’t wait for them. Instead, I began to plan.
Slowly, I designed our rescue, down to the smallest detail. Trevor would be reporting in soon. I left my room and headed for the library. I needed to see some maps of the Isle of Man. I had no idea what the terrain was like. General Wingo and his men would have a working
knowledge. Still, I needed to learn for myself what we were up against.
I found what I was looking for in the map room. It didn
’t appear the terrain was much different from the east coast of Traygen’s kingdom. This was a plus for us, and I knew it would be for Traygen as well, if he got the chance to escape. I tried to picture the terrain and how the men holding him would restrain him. They would need to keep him from turning into a dragon, or he would be too strong for them. Racking my brain I couldn’t think of anything except drugs. They would need to keep him sedated, or he could change and break any shackles. That had to be it, or he would have returned to me. Unless, unless…I just couldn’t go there. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the notion of Traygen being dead. Why had I wasted so many years? I should have married him the first time he asked. Sinking onto the floor I let my mind drift back through my life with Traygen. I had known him for over thirty years. He was the first person Jason teamed me with after I began protecting Los Angeles.
I apprenticed under Jason and become a first-rate wizard an adept to be specific. I use thaumaturgy and theurgy. Thaumaturgy is the use of magic, which, in my case, means harnessing natural elements. Theurgy is much different
. It uses divine intervention or spirits. I guess you could say I ask for God’s help and I harness nature’s elements to back me up.
’t age. Honestly, I don’t. I’ve been stuck at thirty, since I gained my skills at around the same age. I probably should have been a quicker study. Unfortunately, my early twenties were awkward. No, thirty is good. Traygen was over a hundred when I met him because changelings don’t age either. We were a match made in heaven or could have been if I hadn’t made our lives hell. It was never my plan to put us both through the wringer. My heart and soul bruised too easily after my father’s death. I guess you could say I had trust issues and the arrogance to think we would both live forever.
Traygen, my love I’m sorry
. There just had to be time to fix it. I wanted my walk down the aisle. Just when I finally said yes Traygen disappears. No, he is not running for his life. He was kidnapped by the Vikings. At least I pray that is what happened to him.
“Lauren, are you all right?” Trevor gently shook my shoulder, concern etched on his
I shook my head trying to clear my
mind. “I must have dozed off. I was dreaming about Traygen. Did you find General Wingo?”
Trevor reached down and gave me a hand, pulling me to my feet before he answered my question. At times like this he reminded me so much of Traygen. I turned my head, so he wouldn
’t see me brush the tears from my face.
’ll be joining us shortly. He assumes there will be no shortage of volunteers, and that we can be airborne at first light.”
“That is wonderful news. While we wait for him let me share what I found on the Isle of Man. Also, do you believe our young spy will help us?”
“Yes and his name is Figgs. I’ve chatted with him, since we made sure that he was fed and cleaned up. He hates the Vikings and will lead us to where they were last seen.”
. Maybe he can look at this map and give us some ideas on where to begin, a place where the Vikings might hide a prisoner.”
’ll send for him right away.” Trevor called a guard and sent him to bring
the boy. Then he turned his gaze back to me. “Lauren, you know Traygen might not be there or even alive. You need to prepare yourself, for whatever we find.”
’ll never believe that Traygen is not still alive. I can’t.”
A knock on the door ended further discussion. A guard
escorted Figgs into the room, the boy looking much better after a meal and a bath.
“Figgs please join us. We have some questions about the Vikings and where they might be
holding a captive. Do you have any ideas?”
“Prince Trevor and Lady Lauren,” he said as he bowed to us. “There are several possibilities. The coastline is like this kingdom
’s coast with cliffs and caves overlooking the ocean. In the past they have kept captives deep underground in the maze of grottoes. I can direct you to them if you’d like.”
“Figgs, are there any bogs or swamps on your island?” I asked the boy.
“Lady Lauren, there are several. There is also quicksand and no one survives the quicksand. They sink from sight never to be seen again.”
“Figgs, please call me Lauren. Do you know if the Vikings use the quicksand with their captives?”
The boy’s face contorted in rage or anguish, I wasn’t sure perhaps a bit of both. He didn’t answer me for several minutes. Evidently, he was fighting to control his emotions and he swallowed before speaking. When he did his voice was barely above a whisper.
“They killed my father and brothers in
quicksand. They bound them hand and foot and dropped them into the quicksand. They disappeared below the surface and in a matter of minutes they ceased to exist. No one has ever emerged from those sandy pools. The sands don’t ever give up their dead.” He said as he sank to his knees and covered his face.
I knelt down beside him and hugged him to me. When he had exhausted his tears I promised him that we would avenge his family
’s deaths. He nodded without speaking, bowed, and left the room without saying another word. I looked at Trevor and be were both brushing tears from our eyes.
Moments later General Wingo joined us and reported he would have a hundred men ready to fly by dawn. Trevor updated him on Figgs knowledge of the land and the Vikings previous behavior. We pored over the maps and discussed various approaches. It was only a few hours until dawn when the meeting broke up. Our plan was to land at the opposite end of the island from the V
ikings and set up a base camp.
got my gear together before it was time to take to the air, which was a good thing. It didn’t leave me much time to think. I just couldn’t let my mind consider the possibility we might be too late to save Traygen. No, I would not accept that. He is alive and I knew we would get there in time. We had to. I walked over and chatted with Trevor and General Wingo. We were ready. As I looked out at the men assembled before us it was an amazing sight. There were men chatting in small groups and moving about to stay warm.
General Wingo gave the men the order to change, and it looked like JFK on a busy holiday weekend. Everywhere I looked there were dragons lined up to take off and there wasn
’t an air traffic control anywhere in sight. Trevor interrupted my musings telling me it was time to mount up. I jumped up on his back, and we fell in line behind General Wingo. Figgs was seated behind the General to give him directions.
It was a moonless night and the air was chilly. I pulled my collar up and ducked down lower on Trevor
’s back. I wish I’d worn warmer clothes. Sometimes being a slave to fashion has its drawbacks. What can I say, down jackets and mittens just don’t have any flair. I’d rather be cold then to be accused of impersonating the Pillsbury dough boy. We flew along in silence, and I honestly couldn’t see more than a few feet on either side. I sure hoped no one stopped short.
had no idea how long we had been airborne when I felt a strong gust of wind buffet us. Then I smelled the saltwater. We’d turned and were heading out over open water. I could make out some waves breaking on the rocks below and then nothing. I sure hoped these guys knew what they were doing. We were flying out over the open ocean with no moon or electronics to guide us. One wrong turn and we could end up in Iceland. I just knew we wouldn’t be lucky enough to find England.
Just when my paranoia seemed certain to get the better of me, we slowed. Trevor turned his head and signaled the Isle of Man was coming up on our left. He motioned we would circle the island and approach from the opposite side. Thank God we were almost there. My hands and face were frozen, and I had to pee. These dragons don
’t come equipped with Porta Potties. We landed in waves and as soon as my feet hit the ground I sprinted to find myself a large bush. I still couldn’t feel my hands, but at least I wouldn’t wet my pants, not that it would have mattered much. I was soaked from our landing.
I found Trevor and the general talking with Figgs. They were studying a map of the island. Figgs was showing them where we were and where he had previously seen the Vikings. Since there wasn
’t any moonlight or starlight, we decided to wait for first light to send our scouts out. We needed to know if the Vikings were here and if so where. It was only a few hours until dawn, so I settled down by a fallen log. The log blocked some of the onshore breeze and I closed my eyes. I awoke to the sounds of the men breaking camp. I’m not sure how long I slept, but it was daylight. I walked around until I found Trevor and General Wingo. They were waiting for the scouts to return. They offered me some cold bread and dried meat. It wasn’t safe to light fires. I didn’t realize how hungry I was until I inhaled my breakfast. I must not have looked very ladylike because Trevor had a silly grin on his face.
“Lauren, did you even taste your breakfast?”
I licked my lips and wiped my hands on my pants before answering. “Yes, it was eggs benedict with hollandaise sauce. Why? What did you get?”
He laughed, but before he could respond the scouts returned from their reconnaissance. They glided to a stop and changed before approaching us. The men made a thorough search of the island. They spotted some Viking ships tucked into a cove on the opposite side of the island. They hadn’t seen any Vikings, but they spotted several cooking fires. Figgs listened to the report without comment. When the men finished their account Trevor thanked them and sent them to get breakfast.
He then turned to address Figgs. “What do you think? Do you know
the area the men are referring to?”
“Yes, the Vikings often anchor in that cove. My guess is they are living in the caves above the cove. There is a
network of caverns running deep underneath the bluff. It would be a good place to hide, and it is easy to defend.”
Is there any other way to get into those caves?” I asked.
Figgs nodded his head yes. “Lauren, there are under water entrances about a hundred yards or so off the reefs. Unfortunately there are also sharks and eels
and the visibility is poor this time of year.”
An involuntary shudder shook my body. I hated sharks. I could
n’t tread water in a teacup if I couldn’t see the bottom. Besides, we were in the early 19th century. There weren’t any scuba tanks or face masks. We would be groping around underwater, blind, and freezing cold. Yes, not my idea of a good time.
Traygen, my love you can kiss your ass good-bye.
I don’t know if the others could read my mind, but no one looked thrilled.
“I could call a water dragon. They could carry us in.” Trevor offered.
“Do you believe they’ll help?” the general asked.
“It is true we
’ve had our differences. Yet, King Oran is a friend of my father. We have aided the Nargon in the past. I think we should send an emissary.”
“Will someone tell me what you are talking about?”
“Lauren, there is a branch of dragons living under the oceans. They are called Nargons. They are dragons that look much like us, but they live underneath the ocean. They have gills instead of lungs. Our peoples have a long and complicated history. Even so, my father and their king are friends. General Wingo, have you got a man we can send?”
“Yes, we can send Trios. He has some experience with the Nargons. I
’ll send for him.”
“What do you think the Nargons can do to help us?” I asked.
“If they decide to help, they could carry us underwater and drop us off in the underground chamber. Finding it on our own even with Figgs directions would be nearly impossible.”
“How long will it take before we know if they
’ll assist? And if they don’t then what?”
“Lauren, it won
’t take long at all to find out if they’ll help. We’ll send a dragon who knows where their home is. If they are willing they’ll return with our emissary. Should they refuse, we’ll have to consider how to scale the cliffs without being slaughtered. I for one hope the Nargon help.”
We paced and waited. There wasn
’t anything else we could do. It was daylight now and too risky for further scouting. We could not chance being spotted for fear they might panic and kill Traygen. So we continued to wait, it seemed like an eternity. However, I am sure it was more like two hours. I’m not certain who spotted the returning dragon first, but a murmur went through the camp. A few seconds later the dragon glided softly to the beach.
Trevor and I walked down to greet the man.
“Trios, what did you find out? Will the Nargon help?”
“See for yourself
sir,” he said as he pointed out toward the water.
’t see anything for several minutes, and then I saw what looked like an incoming torpedo that is until it got closer. The Loch Ness monster it wasn’t. It looked more like the dragons of Traygen’s kingdom with one major exception. It had scales and a crested neck and for all I knew flippers. I couldn’t tell until it started wiggling its way out of the water. It moved like a sea lion, a big sea lion. Trevor walked down to the beach to greet our guest. I hoped this would be a brief hello because this guy was much too large to hide or explain. I needn’t have worried moments later Trevor motioned for the general and me to join him.
“This is Squib and he is here to help us. However, we need to go now. He can
’t stay out of the water much longer or his weight will crush him. General Wingo, get your best three men and let’s get going.”
The general motioned for three of his men to join us. Squib slithered back into the water until only his head and neck were visible. We had to swim a hundred yards more or less out into the
ocean to reach him. I know I set a world record getting to him and scrambling up on his back. Yes sir, I wasn’t going to be fish bait if I could help it. They’d have to pry my fingers off Squib’s neck. Once the six of us were on the Nargon’s back, it turned and headed out to sea.
I was not loving life
. There was water was up to my neck, it was cold and inky black. If that wasn’t bad enough, I could swear we weren’t alone. Then without as much as ‘a hang on or close your mouth’ Squib dove. Shit, my ears were popping. My lungs were trying to squeeze out any remaining oxygen and my heart thundered in my ears. Just when I believed I couldn’t hold my breath any longer we broke the surface in a large underground cavern.
f a bitch, whatever it takes, I was not going out the way we came in. Coughing, sputtering and spewing water I slid off Squib’s neck. I swam over to the side and pulled myself up onto a shelf of rock that ran around the cavern’s entrance. When I finally got my wits about me Trevor was thanking Squib. Squib nodded once and sank from sight.
’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not going out the way we just came in. I swear I’ll kill any Viking between me and the nearest exit.”
’t you like your free ride on a Nargon?” Trevor teased.
I splashed water in his face, and then I got serious. “How do you want to handle this?”
“I can answer that question,” the general said as he pulled himself up onto the shelf beside me. “I have directed the men outside the cavern to attack when I signal. Therefore, the first order of business should be to remove the sentries. Then we can wait for enforcements before we tackle the main force.”
“I disagree. I
’m afraid if we wait for reinforcements they may kill Traygen. You can wait for reinforcements if you want, but I’m going after Traygen.”
“Lauren, General Wingo
, I think you both make good points. I suggest we take out the sentries together. Then Lauren and I’ll look for Traygen. You, general, can wait for reinforcements and direct the attack. Can we agree on this compromise?” Trevor asked as he glanced at each of us in turn. The general nodded his consent, but he didn’t look happy. “Lauren, what do you say?”
“I can live with it. Now can we get this show on the road?” The general nearly ran me down in his haste to take control. His men moved swiftly behind him. Trevor and I brought up the rear. I didn
’t mean to step on any toes, but I wasn’t going to take any chances with Traygen’s life.
We fell in line behind the general a
nd started our climb. There appeared to be only one-way out of the cave. Unfortunately, the minute we moved five or six feet down the tunnel we were swallowed by the darkness. Total and complete inky blackness and the air felt hot and close around us. It made it hard to breathe. I didn’t wait for permission. I whispered a chant in the direction of my wrist causing my bracelet to flare. The Uroborus bracelet on my wrist channels energy, wherever I aim it. It emitted enough light for us to see several feet ahead.
The general nodded curtly at me and continued down the tunnel. We moved along in silence for a short time before we came to the first branching of the tunnel. Stand
ing still and covering the bracelet, we stood in silence. It didn’t take long to detect a faint breeze from the tunnel on our left. Trevor discreetly marked the point we’d entered in case we needed to retreat the same direction. I could feel the ground start to rise, while the darkness began to lighten. Mumbling softly, I removed the spell on the bracelet, and it blinked out. General Wingo motioned for us all to stop. He signaled for one of the men to move ahead. I knew he was checking to see if there were any Vikings in the area. The scout returned within minutes and held up three fingers. He sent the three men to dispatch the Vikings.
Several minutes passed before one of the men returned and motioned us forward. They
’d subdued the Vikings. However, they weren’t the sentries. They were the rear guard. The general directed the men to take the guards uniforms and put them on. Dressed as members of the Viking army, the men moved swiftly ahead of us. The three of us left a little distance between us and our disguised men. We inched slowly forward, straining to hear sounds from the guards or anyone else that might be heading our way. The tunnels were lighted and we waited while the men checked to make sure the way was clear.
I could smell fresh air. Yes
. We were almost to an outside opening. Movement ahead made us drop and draw our weapons. Thankfully, it was one of our men. We followed closely behind him. Rounding a turn we were nearly blinded by sunlight. The men had disabled the sentries and were signaling to the dragons below. Nodding to the general, Trevor and I headed down another tunnel on our right. This tunnel was lit by torches and we had to move slowly in case we were spotted. Our ears straining to pick up the slightest sound, I activated my bracelet and palmed the knife I kept in my boot. We both heard it at the same time. Someone was coming, we raced back the way we’d come. Flattening ourselves against the opposite tunnel entrance, we waited.