Onyx Dreams Ch. 24bykitazkitten©
Chapter 24: Darkness Calls
In the age of Dragons, the bright dawn of birth having passed, the Guardians of the Realm will fall from grace in the eyes of a champion. Darkness will seek the soul of the rider of two, the one with the power to control both sides of our race, light and dark. This champion will usher in a storm of darkness that will shake our world to its very foundations. A dragon born from light and turned to darkness will be his throne as his soul spirals from the light into the depths of despair and arise from the shadows on the wings of the fiery phoenix's rage, searing all in it's path.
* * *
Hayden looked at Nightseer as the older dragon peered into the Lake of Clarity. He respectfully waited until the ailing sapphire prophet set the tablet aside he was reading and turned to look at him.
"Greetings wise one." Hayden spread his wings wide and lowered himself to the ground in a bow.
Nightseer peered at Hayden for a moment, attempting to remember if he was supposed to speak with him today. "Hmmm, do you have an appointment young one? It is not often one as young as yourself has a purpose to see me."
Hayden rose from his bow and settled his wings behind his back. Nightseer was the oldest dragon alive and his eyesight was failing him. "It is I, Hayden Braveclaws, who has humbly stopped by to see how you are doing old friend."
Nightseer leaned closer, taking a long deep breath of the dragon's scent that stood before him. "Prince Hayden? My, it has been some time since your father has brought you here for lessons. Which is it this time? Ancient Languages? Lore of the Realm? Mmmm, perhaps a clairvoyance technique practice?"
"I wish I could, respected one, but no lessons today. I need guidance."
Nightseer nodded slowly and resettled his frail looking wings. They had deteriorated significantly in the past few centuries since he had not the strength since then to fly. It mattered not to him though since he had no need to leave his cavernous archives. "Mmm, is that so? Trouble finding a suitable mate? I believe I have a tome of exceptional courtship rituals somewhere...." His long neck rose high above Hayden searching among the shelves for the aforementioned tome.
Hayden chuckled. "It is all right respected elder. I have found a mate. I come instead to ask you about the prophecy you were just reading."
Nightseer paused a moment before pulling his head back and covering the tablet with a huge claw almost the size of Hayden's head. His demeanor grew suddenly cold and serious. "The content of this tablet is for the king's knowledge only young prince. Once you ascend to the throne then you may gaze upon its wisdom."
It was moments like this that Hayden regretted Nightseer's failing health. Rearing back, Hayden let out a loud bulge combined with a strange trilling sound. It was the ancient and carefully guarded call of the king that was passed down from the king to his successor.
Nightseer looked long and hard at Hayden before slowly moving his talons from the tablet. "It seems my memory is failing farther each century my king. I offer my apologies for the disrespect I have shown you."
"No disrespect. And you haven't breathed your last yet, old friend. Now please, what is it on the tablet you were reading when I arrived?"
Nightseer slowly moved his great body over enough to allow Hayden to read its contents. The tablet was almost as big as the King, and Nightseer even bigger. In comparison to the old seer, Hayden seemed like a child. "Ah, it is one of the very first prophecies my great, great grandmother spoke. It is one each king has been told since then. It is the prophecy that foretells the rise of darkness."
"I remember my father mentioning this but he said it would not occur in my lifetime. I asked him how he could be so certain and he said he felt it in his bones." Hayden shook his head. "I think he was wrong." He paused and read the contents. "This sounds more and more like what is happening now."
Nightseer slowly nodded and waved a claw over the Pool of Clarity, its calm surface rippling as an overview of the dark mountains appeared. "I trust you remember how to scry?"
"I haven't used the skill in years," Hayden admitted ruefully.
"Then that would explain why you have come to me for guidance. Perhaps if you had kept your practice up you would know of the veil of deception being drawn over your rider. No matter, the basics are very simple. Concentrate on the memory of Kaie, and you will be able to see her in the pool."
Hayden settled himself, stared into the water and recalled how Kaie looked the last time he had seen her. She had been gone a very long time from the dragon realm. His father had banished her because of the harm she had caused. He hoped his memory was strong enough for this scry.
The waters shifted and darkened before moving in towards a black-mouthed cave. Its entrance guarded by two powerful ruby dragons. The view changed and swept him along the passageway that went deep into the caverns below the mountain. The scene changed this time to that of the throne room of Kaie. Before her, still unconscious, lay the unmoving form of Cyrus. Kaie's eyes were glowing a deep red, a sure sign that she had entered his mind.
Hayden let out a hiss. In an unconscious state Cyrus's mind would be vulnerable to Kaie's suggestions. Hayden peered closer. He had to see.
* * *
Katherine and Julian were both bowing low to the ground, waiting for Kaie to give them permission to rise. Katherine hated this part. The bowing and scraping but she did it because she had to and her mother had told her to act subservient.
Kaie's eyes suddenly shot upward and she smiled mockingly. She could feel Hayden's presence. She turned and stared at the point in space where he would be if he were in the room with them. Softly she hissed, "Long live the king."
With those words Cyrus rose his aura somehow different. Now it no longer lacked direction. It was focused and had a purpose. That purpose was aimed straight at the kingdom Hayden ruled over. He too turned to look directly at Hayden, his sword appearing in his hand, pointing at the King of Dragons.
The scry was terminated as Nightseer's claw shadowed the pool until it became calm once more. "That is enough young one. Any longer and she would have been able to link back to us. It seems her powers have grown since she embraced the darkness."
"She has gained powers yes but so have I," Hayden replied thoughtfully. The scry only showed what was happening and what might happen. Many things were representative and had to be interpreted. "What say you old friend? What does all this mean for dragon kind and our allies?"
Nightseer's eyes become dark a moment and his horns took on a distinct glow, a sign that a prophecy was about to be foretold. "I see a time of great darkness my king. War is coming. A war we cannot win alone, my king. Without a champion we will surely be exterminated like vermin until at last only darkness rules."
Hayden's gaze hardened. "Do you see who this champion will be, wise one?"
Nightseer nodded slowly, a smile on his face, "Indeed I can Hayden, however I am bound by ancient magic to keep it to myself. You, as king of dragons, must let your heart decide our champion."
Hayden reared back in surprise. He would choose the champion? The thought was unsettling and interesting all at the same time. "I must trust my heart? But even I know that a heart can be wrong. Even now I can feel Brenna's grief at the loss of her rider. I do not want to make a mistake that will doom us all."
Nightseer gently placed one of his great claws upon Hayden's back. "Fear not my king, this is a test that all kings must endure. To ease your worry, perhaps you could tell me if another prophet has been found? My time will come to an end in the next 500 years or so and it takes time to train a replacement."
Hayden looked abashed. "I am sorry wise one for failing in my duty. I have not been looking. All the rumors of dissenters, darkness and destruction have been plaguing me. I am beginning to feel overwhelmed. And then of course the hunt for my own rider. I will look now, for you are owed it."
Nightseer nodded and smiled ruefully. "Perhaps you should save yourself a walk and scry there. It is a short enough distance not to need the pool. You never know, the practice just might come in handy in the future." His eyes glimmered with hidden knowledge hoping Hayden would take the hint.
Hayden walked by Nightseer and over to the pool. This type of scry was a little harder since he had no idea who would be the new prophet. He let his mind go blank even as he focused on the waters of the pool...
Nightseer gently placed a claw over the pool and smiled sympathetically, "Focus your mind on the hatchery young one, you can do this."
Hayden listened to Nightseer's words and slowly the clear waters began to change to that of the hatchery. The eggs were tended by dragons from each of the six clans. Each group, from the smallest clan of the emerald to the more numerous clan of the onyx, was represented and the eggs turned ever so often. A few rocked in their sand burrows and some were hatching. It was on the ones that were hatching that Hayden focused his attention.
Slowly the shell of the eggs began to creak, cracks appearing along its weakest points. After a moment the top of the shell split open and an emerald head appeared from within, a set of tiny glinting horns already visible. The next seer had entered the domain of the dragons.
Hayden chuckled. "Good, a different clan this time. I was beginning to think only sapphires had the gift," he teased Nightseer.
Nightseer stretched out his neck, letting out a long, deep vibrating roar that the emerald newborn immediately perked up to. "Indeed young one, emeralds, though rare, usually are more gifted than sapphires. She will make a fine seer."
"And we even get a change of gender. A female. Maybe she will be easier on the eyes," Hayden teased as the scry ended and the pool was once again clear.
Nightseer lightly flicked Hayden's head with a talon. Though he was frail, his size still gave his flicks power enough to mildly concuss the smaller dragon. "I seem to remember a young prince under my charge who would randomly shed scales as he walked."
"Ouch! Be careful wise one. If you addle my brains I will not be able to rule." Hayden moved out of the reach of Nightseer's talons. His eyes fell again upon the tablet. He picked it up. "Are we certain this is the prophecy occurring now?"
The seer nodded and sat back, closing his eyes. "Indeed my king, it is happening right now. You must be wary of strangers, trust no one."
"I trust my rider for she is innocent but as for others not of my immediate circle of confidantes, I trust very few. Will many fall to darkness's hand?"
"You know I cannot reveal that my king, it would effect the future too greatly and put our entire world at risk."
"I apologize, Nightseer for my boldness. I wish to preserve life not see it lost but from what I remember my father saying of Kaie, she will not settle for anything less than annihilation of all who helped cast her out. This does not bode well for any of us still here in the dragon realm. Nor the faithful who are in the world of man with their riders."
"Indeed, but trust in yourself Hayden and you will find that things happen just as you wish them to if you simply try."
"This has been an enlightening visit. I must return to the others to see if our allies have agreed to help us. May peace be with you old friend."
Nightseer bowed low in front of his king, "And may peace be with you too. Be careful when flying around the pass, the winds are causing some nasty turbulence there."
"Thank you for the advice." Hayden gently laid his head against Nightseer's side before turning and taking off.
* * *
The skies were dark inside the mind of Cyrus. Kaie had unleashed his darkest feelings and desires from the shadows of his intellect. Lightning crawled across the belly of the clouds and struck the tips of the mountain ranges in the distance. Slowly he looked around into the dark intimidating vision of destruction that called itself Kaie. "So...this is what I look like on the inside?"
"Yes, isn't it glorious?" she hissed.
"It's...homely. Why did you bring me here? Why can't we talk in the real world?" His eyes were dark also, his form radiating power inside his mind.
"We will, my rider, we will," she soothed. "I wanted you to see the power that they all try to keep from you. The power that can change this world and make you king."
A smile crossed his face as he listened to her words. "I see the power. But what makes you think that I want to be king? Kings need to deal with people too much. All I want is to take down those corrupt riders who think they know what is right."
"And we will do that too, my rider. But you don't have to rule the people to be king. I will keep them in order as you clean out the dragon vermin who would suppress and hurt you."
Cyrus chuckled softly as he looked Kaie up and down, his form growing as large as hers in his mind. "You forget Kaie that I have seen inside your head. I know that you seek only to exact revenge and will destroy anything in your path. I will be king, I will guide the people and show them what true justice is."
"As you wish, my rider," she said, her eyes glowing. "I only want to make you happy. If you are not happy then I am not happy."
"Then tell me why you thought it necessary to shove me into unconsciousness instead of meeting face to face?"
"You were wild with anger and you would have attacked any dragon. I was not going to let you harm those of us who make up your army. So we put you to sleep."
"I was heading for you, I wouldn't have attacked you. After all, you are the only one whose true agenda I really know. How did you know I would trust Katherine?"
"She's beautiful and female. You like women. I thought she would be the best to make contact with you. And she is the youngest of the riders."
"And the fact that she is a perfect image of Kennice didn't happen to cross that huge mind of yours?"
"It might have." Kaie chuckled.
"So now that we've established the facts, etc. Is there any more reason to talk here?"
"Are you calm now?"
"I might be, can't you tell while you are in here?" His tone became icy, calm and exact.
"Very well." Her voice seemed to fade away as light hit his eyes. They flickered open a moment later, the torches above him filling his vision. Gradually, he rose to his knees, then to his feet.
"Welcome back, my King," Katherine said as she walked over to him and dropped down into a curtsy.
He smiled and held his hand out for her to take. "Arise, my Queen..."
Katherine took his hand and rose. "We are here for you, my King."
Slowly he turned towards Kaie, "You spoke of an Army?"
Kaie lumbered into view, her onyx scales were glowing, as were her eyes. ~Yes. They are in the next cavern. We have been waiting for years for you.~
"All this for me huh?" He slowly turned and walked towards the expansive cavern mouth. His tone was sarcastic and skeptical. "Was there a prophecy about me or something?"
Katherine looked at Kaie who nodded. "Yes, but that can be explained to you later. Right now the others wish to meet you." Katherine gestured toward the steps carved into the side. "These will take us to the second level and to your army."
He paused and turned back to Katherine and Kaie. "Others? What others? You told me the army was in the next cavern. You might wanna be more accurate in your information to me from now on if I am to lead your forces."
Katherine frowned but then schooled her expression to one of polite courtesy. "My apologies, our king. This network of caverns is vast. The one we are currently in only has two exits, up or down. Forgive me for not explaining more clearly."
He nodded slowly and held his arms out a little. "So lead on my dear, introduce me to the 'Others.'"
Kaie leaped into the air and flew overhead before dropping down into the large hole in the ground. Katherine walked by Cyrus and began her descent down the stairs. They were smooth, well worn and easy to keep one's footing. No rail graced the other side so a wrong step by the unwary could send them plummeting to their death.
He turned and followed her down the long spiral of stairs, into the deep void like darkness. His ears listening for something that he wasn't quite sure of.
The sound of scales rubbing against scales was heard first and then human voices joined the noise. Katherine seemed to relax as they got to the bottom. A brilliant light shone on the path. She turned to Cyrus. "Are you ready, my king?"
He looked around a moment, taking in the sounds, trying to estimate how many dragons there were. "Ready as I'll ever be."
They walked into the cavern, which at first seemed empty but upon closer inspection was gigantic. Carved into the walls were ledges of various lengths. Occupying the spaces were dragons and their riders. They eyed Cyrus intently. Kaie sat regally in the center of the cavern floor. Julian was next to her.
Katherine strode up to Kaie and bowed low. She projected her words to the assembled. "I bring you, your king!"
The roar and shouts of approval were deafening as the dragons reared back on their hindquarters and their riders pumped their fists in the air and shouted.
Cyrus' eyes wandered along shelf after shelf of dragon and rider, trying to figure out how so many could have gone undetected from Bogart and his ilk. As the thundering roars filled his ears, he slowly raised his hands up to beckon for silence. Gradually the roar died down and he projected his voice just as Katherine had done. "Riders and Dragons. We all know of the treachery and deceit the riders in power have brought down upon the world. We all know of the strangle hold the druids use against us. But most of all...we all know of the fear they harbor when they see one of us!" He let the eruption of cheers go on for a few moments before continuing. "But now my brothers, sisters and Kindred spirits, we shall hide no longer in the shadows. We shall no longer wait in anticipation for the moment to strike. Because that moment is here and now! We will bring this fight to the riders and the druids and I know just where to start! The home of the future high priestess!"
The cheering and bugling went on for a long time. Dragon eyes glittered with evil intent and the riders' gazes were filled with bloodlust.
Katherine leaned closer to Cyrus and stroked his arm. She smiled at him. Everything was going according to plan.
Slowly Cyrus took Katherine's hand and gave it a firm squeeze. "When dusk falls two days hence, so shall we ride out and burn the Davenport Monastery to cinders! And we will wound her where it hurts most by taking her family as out captives!"
The riders chanted his name as Katherine took his hand and raised it high. "It is a great plan, my King. You will be brilliant and all will tremble when they hear your name." Katherine purred her eyes filled with desire.
He nodded and let his hand slowly slide down to her rounded buttocks his own eyes filling with other things. "Indeed they will my lady. First I think I should see you tremble for other reasons, yes?"
"I think I would like that." Her lips pursed invitingly.
Kaie and Julian rumbled approval.
"Then lead the way to my chambers sweet Katherine, and I will shatter your mind." He stepped close, his voice turning to a low growl of lust and need.
A seductive grin graced her features as she headed toward a side passage that led to the quarters for the riders. She bypassed several rooms before stopping at one with a simple letter "K" on it.