Ascension: The Coming Storm

Chapter 4: Like Pieces of a Puzzle



The moonlight illuminated their makeshift camp, the fire was beginning to grow dim. Audra hoped the gatherers would deliver the wood soon. As a Dragon Variant she could see fine in the darkness of night, but humans had a much harder time with it, she mentally slapped herself for not going with them. Some kind of gut instinct told her it wasn a good idea so she hadn gone, but due to her inaction the fire could possibly go out.

A man around her age tossed a small branch into the fire, hoping to keep it going. He had short dark blonde hair, swept to the right, and a strong beard. He wore a black short sleeved shirt and brown breeches. Even though they were dark, Audra could still see they were charred to hell and back. His hands were slightly redder than the rest of his body and he smelt like a mixture ash and burning charcoal.

”I can believe this is happening. ” He said sitting next to her.

”I can either, how close were you to the Croak? ” Audra asked, scooting away from the man and swiping at the air in front of her nose. He gave a slight chuckle.

”Too close, I was the first one to spot it. ” He leaned back using the palm of his hands to keep him propped up, ”So wheres your group? ” He asked.

”My moms sleeping with the rest of the town, I don really have a group. ”

”I mean any friends of yours, any other dragons around? ”

”Well my mom is human, my dad was the variant. ” Audra pointed out, ”Why do you ask? ” She queried.

”No reason, just, someone like you shouldn be left alone. ” Before Audra could react she felt a calloused hand wrap around her mouth and stomach and began to pull her away from the fire. She hadn heard the man, nor had she smelled him. But the smell of ash going directly into her nose told her everything she needed to know.

”Don make this harder than it needs to be. ” The man threatened, his voice was deep and calm. His hands tightened around her as he pulled her into the forest. ”Don make a sound. ” The calm man ordered, the man she had been talking to put a cloth wrapping around her mouth, put a similar wrapping around her eyes, then bounded her wrists together with a rope.

”Looks like it worked after all. Ill wait for the right time and Ill begin getting the other two. ” A new voice claimed. He was nasally and high-pitched compared to his two partners.

”Don worry about it Rosc, its not worth the risk. Weve got a living one so shell give us everything we need. ” The first man claimed, Audras mind began to race about the things they wanted from her.

The large man drug her, by the rope, deep into the forest until she heard the crackling of a fire. She felt two hands against the back of her head and released the wrapping around her eyes. There was a campfire being attended by the man she had spoken to earlier, he sat on a log with a shortsword resting against it. Next to the fire were two tents, one small and the other large. The small tent contained the smell of blood from within. But worse was behind the tents, one large cage, in the back of a metal wagon, withholding a sleeping Croak Borum. Two horses rested just a few feet away from the wagon.

The large man was easily two heads taller than Audra, around 66. He was pale, and looked to be sunburnt, he was bald besides the husky beard on his chin, he wore a leather breast plate over a brown tunic. His eyes terrified her, his pupil was slightly pointed but still round, she couldn explain why but his piercing blue eyes sent chills down her spine.

The higher-pitched man, Rosc, was small and frail, around 56, with a longbow and a quiver strapped to his back. He had long black hair tied into a ponytail and a slight bit of stubble on his chin. His brown eyes looked her up and down sickeningly, he wore a cloak that could easily be mistaken for a shadow, the rest of his body was hidden but hints of dark gray occasionally peeked out.

”Would you like to say any words before you join the others? ” The large man asked. Audra gave a quick nod. He looked at Rosc and nudged his head towards her. Rosc went behind her and grabbed onto the bindings wrapped around her mouth.

”Scream out for help and we kill you on the spot. ” Rosc threatened, before loosening the wrapping around her mouth. ”You may speak. ”

”What do you…want with me? ” Audra asked, doing her best to hold in the fear but the slight quiver in her voice gave it away.

The large man pointed at her left arm, Audra looked down at her scales. Then looked back at the man.

”Scales go for a lot of gold. And its much easier to get scales from a captive dragon variant than from an actual dragon. ”

”You burnt down a village for- ” Audras vehement words were muffled by the cloth being wrapped around her mouth.

”Put her up. ” The first man ordered. ”We leave at dawn. ” The large man nodded his head then began to pull her towards the smaller tent. Audra pulled on the rope but was pulled to the ground by a single yank from the other man, she was then dragged through the dirt as she tried hopelessly to struggle. The man pulled the flap of the tent back and, literally, threw her inside the cramped tent, he then crouched into the small room and pushed a stake into the ground to hold her rope.

”Don try any funny business. ” He said before leaving, then coming back with a bucket of water. He gave her a knowing look and walked away to leave her to own devices.

Audra stayed quiet as the three men talked outside, she needed to know more if she planned on getting out of here. She began to try and calm down, continued to fail then abandoned it altogether. She then moved on to listening to them speak.

”Deran go tranquilize the Croak Borum we don need it waking up anytime soon. ” Rosc ordered.

”Who gave you permission to demand things from me? ” Deran replied, he was the larger man.

”Hes a simple man for hire, as most Daosr Variants are. They don take bullshit from people like us. Without him we would have never been able to transport them this far from the desert. ” The first man said.

”Look Sero you
e a good guy, but we hired him so he should follow our orders. ” Rosc complained. Audra heard a chuckle erupt from the mans stomach, as boots began to make their way towards the location of the cage.

”What makes you think you can make me follow your orders. ” Deran challenged. Audra stopped paying attention to what they were saying and began to think of a way to get out of her ropes.

Audra looked around for anything that could cut through the ropes, any kind of sharp rock, an irregularly sharp stick, anything. There, of course, was nothing for her to use to cut into the ropes, just her and the bucket of water. Her head started to pound out of nowhere. Pain erupted through her body, she bit down hard on the rope to not let out the pained howl that threatened to escape. Her vision seemed to show the tent and at the same time something else entirely. She saw herself running through a moonlit forest, a pack of black and gray wolf-like creatures were hot on her heels. She felt the wind brush through her hair as she jumped into the air, spinning, and with a single wave of her hand she sent a blade of water deep into the creatures flesh. She landed on her feet in her original direction and continued to run. Just like that the vision was suddenly gone, and with it the pain. She breathed deeply, recovering from the pain. When she was able to focus on something besides pain she could hear light snoring from the other tent. No sounds were made outside, only crickets, not even the light crackle of fire was heard.

”How long was I in pain like that? ” Audra wondered it had felt like it was just a few seconds but was obviously much, much, longer.

Audra turned her attention to the bucket of water the man had left.

”Deran didn seem like a bad person, had he left it there intentionally? ” Audra leaned forward and began to fiddle with the knot of the wrapping bounding her mouth, she spent a long time fiddling with the knot until finally she felt it begin to loosen. Finally she was able to yank the rope free from her face, she adjusted her jaw and got used to not having something holding her jaw in place. She then turned to the bucket of water and remembered the vision she had just saw. She focused on the water and did her best to control the flow of magic easily picking the water up, she calmed herself down as best as she could but only managed to splash water on her hands. She picked up more water and made it into a thin blade, she forced it down hard but didn even manage to get through a tiny piece of the rope. She saw a vision of herself cutting a creature with water, but how could she hope to cut thick flesh if she couldn manage this.

”You need more practice. ” She looked up at the whisper and saw a man she could barely recognize. His emerald green eyes were like two glowing jewels that stared at her very soul. His dark brown hair whipped at his chin like he had just come to a sudden stop from a furious sprint. His pale skin seemed to unnaturally glow with health. His jawline was sharp and covered in tiny hairs, as if he had shaved recently. He wore a long black coat over a dark blue cloth shirt. An insignia of some sort was patched on the right side of his chest, it looked like shield with a design of a dragon behind it. But the thing that told her everything she needed to know about this man was the familiar green scarf coming to rest.

”Its you. ” She said. ”The man who drove the goblins away from Kiaveen. ”

”You remember me? ” He questioned, then nodded like he knew something she didn . He reached behind him and pulled out a small knife, ”My name is Felix. Im taking you to Nevenal. ” He said sliding the knife between her hands and pulling up to cut the rope.

”Wait, I appreciate the help but you
e not going to tell me what to do. My home is at Kiaveen. ”

”Dragon Raiders don stop. They know about you, they know your location. You go back, and youll find yourself in the same position as you are now but next time I might not be here to save your ass from becoming a living piggy bank. Unless I bring you to somewhere safe, somewhere you can learn to protect yourself. Somewhere you can learn to cut rope with a blade of water. ” Felix said standing up and offering his hand to her, ”Whats your name? ”

”My name is Audra Sandalious. How did you know where to find me? ” She asked.

”Simple really, they may have done a good job on distracting the others with a Croak Borum but it was taken care of, they shot a flare and I made my way over. Get in the wagon, we
e liberating it from them. ” Felix said walking out of the tent. Electricity began to cover his entire body, ”But first I must liberate them from the land of the living. ”

”W-wait, what did you just say? ” Audra asked as the light coming off of him began to sting her eyes.

Felix lifted his right hand up, his hand muscles constricting from the electrocution, then it all came out in a burst of lightning. Audra had to cover her ears as the sudden explosion of sound rang out. The entire time he stood there his face didn flinch with any kind of emotion. Not even a scream escaped from the, now ablaze, tent. Only Daren exited the tent, Felix didn expect survivors and was took aback when the man ran at him. He reeled his hand back, Audra saw a flash of red crawl up the mans arms as his fist connected with Felixs jaw. He was sent flying through a tree. Both Audra and Daren were both shocked when they heard sickening laughter.

e not the first Daosr Variant Ive stood up against. ” Felix said before he became nothing more than a flash of electricity. The next thing Audra knew a bastard sword was deep in Darens chest, ”I hope the scales were worth it. ” Felix twisted the bastard sword and with a quick flourish cut through the mans chest, taking his arm in the process. Audra looked at the man fall to the ground, sick to her stomach, and watched Felix begin to walk to the Croak Borum, he then readied to pierce the monsters head.

”What are you doing!? ” She asked.

”A Croak Borum won survive in this type of environment. Its used to deserts and the meals it gets from there. It doesn particularly love the taste of humans. This one has been starved, so had the other one. Out of desperation it will awaken, burn everything in its path hunting for food, and it will destroy and devour everything it comes in contact with. ” Felix finished his sentence with a sickening thrust as the sword shot into the Croaks skull. With a single hand he easily pulled the dead creature out of the cage and onto the ground, ”Get in the wagon and wait for me. We leave as soon as possible. ”

Audra got in the back of the wagon and held herself, as Felix rummaged through their belongings. He left their tent with a bag of supplies and a chest filled with dragon scales.

”Poor bastards would have been filthy rich with the money they would have gotten. But they chose to attack the wrong village today. If you need to cry go ahead, it won change any opinion I may have of you. ” Felix said monotonously as he hitched the nearby horses to the wagon and began the trip to Nevenal. Audra couldn help but think of the days events and what she was leaving behind. She was leaving everything she knew just for her own safety with no way of telling anyone what happened. She let the tears fall, despite of what Felix may or may not think of her.

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