A Different World Chapter 7
When the dragons finally landed the sun had long since set. Nall had led them to a large expanse of forest located Northeast of Meribia. They flew deep into the forests center before they landed. Michael had asked Nall if he was sure that the forest would be safe. It seemed like a perfect place for Zophars army to take refuge after a long day of laying siege to Meribia. The White Dragon had assured them that nothing would venture this deeply into the woods.
Kevin sat around a pile of dry wood trying to start a campfire. He had never felt more magically exhausted. He was too drained to even start a simple campfire. Ruby sat down next to him and ignited the wood with a small blast of fire breath. Kevin looked up with a sly smile and said, That so turns me on when you breath fire as a human.
I know, Ruby said, But now that the whole world knows about me and Michael youd better stop hitting on me. People might take you seriously and start to think Im easy.
The two shared a laugh then Kevin said, Well, you are arent you? Ruby hit him in the head with a pinecone.
On the other side of camp Lucia stood in front of Michael trembling in rage. What were you thinking? she demanded. Saving the life of a dragon rather than protecting Ghaleon? Are you mad?
Michael stood in silence, like a private being reprimanded by his sergeant, as she continued to rave. The purpose of the dragons is to protect their god. Protecting Ghaleon should have been priority. What you did was absolutely illogical!
Then Michael realized something about Lucia: she had no concept of love. She didnt understand why he had saved Ruby. She just knew that he had placed the life of a dragon over that of Ghaleon. To her Michaels actions were not selfish. They were mind bogglingly moronic. How simple life would be if love wasnt an issue, Michael thought. He didnt know whether to pity her or envy her.
If it were my decision, she continued, I would have you stripped of the title Dragonmaster!
Fortunately it is not your decision, Nall said suddenly. And personally I applaud his decision.
Lucia turned to Nall with an expression of confused horror painted on her face. You applaud it? Since when have the dragons become priority on Lunar?
You honestly dont understand, Nall half asked half stated. He did not save her because she was a dragon. Her being a dragon had nothing to do with his decision.
What are you saying? That he was plotting against Ghaleon? Lucia was furious now.
Of course not. Michael is very loyal to Ghaleon, Nall said.
Michael had been at odds with Nall since the day they first met. He wasnt used to having Nall stand up for him. He wasnt quite sure if he liked it or not.
Lucia didnt know how to respond. How could he have been loyal? He sacrificed Ghaleon for a lesser being. Confused and angry Lucia stormed off to the outskirts of the camp. She was honor bound to help them save Lunar, but she suddenly wondered if Lunar had any hope of surviving if its protectors were this incompetent.
Michael walked to the opposite side of camp and hung his head. He agreed with her on one thing. He didnt deserve to be a Dragonmaster. Nall walked up to him. They stood in silence for a while then Michael asked, Why do you agree with my decision? I acted selfishly and have endangered Lunar. She is right. I do not deserve to be a Dragonmaster.
Nall stayed quite a while longer and then said, A great man once told me that a person willing to sacrifice the ones he loved in the name of duty was not a hero, but a fool.
Michael snorted and asked, And who, pray tell, told you this.
Nall shrugged, The advice is good no matter who it came from, but I think you would find it interesting to know that it was the late Dragonmaster Dyne who said this to me.
Michael looked up intrigued. The legendary Dragonmaster Dyne actually told this to you?
Nall shrugged again. Technically he was talking to Alex, but I was their all the same.
Alex? Whos that, Michael asked.
A look of deep sadness crossed Nalls face. He was the last Dragonmaster of the old world. Lost to history forever.
Michael frowned and examined Nall. Ive never heard of a Dragonmaster named Alex.
Nall shook his head. Of course not. Him and Ghaleon werent exactly on friendly terms. Not that it matters now. I suggest you get some sleep. There is work to be done tomorrow.
Michael did not need Nalls advise about sleeping. He was as exhausted as everyone else. Soon the camp was silent except for the soft crackling of the low burning camp fire. As Michael drifted to sleep he took comfort in what Nall had said. A man willing to sacrifice the ones he loves for the sake of duty is not a hero, but a fool. Michael took Rubys hand and gave it a slight squeeze, she squeezed back. Michael was very, very happy that he had saved her.
* * * *
Dawn came early and when Michael woke his muscles were stiff and sore. Kevin and the young priest cooked a small breakfast over the campfire. Michael checked on Ghaleon to make sure he was still breathing. He was, barely. Lucia staid away from the rest of the group, feeling that they were a bunch of ignorant lunatics.
Any suggestions on what we do? Michael asked. The question was open to everyone, but he looked to Nall when he posed it. The White Dragon was turning out to be more helpful than Michael ever would have thought.
I know exactly where he have to go, Nall said.
And where is that? Michael asked.
From here we go to the Star Dragon Tower, Nall replied, It is our only hope at this point.
Michael raised his eyebrows. Ive never heard of this Star Dragon Tower. Have you, Kevin? Ryan?
Kevin shook his head and shrugged. Ryan said, Never.
Lash spoke up saying, Nall, Ive never even heard of the Star Dragon Tower or of any Star Dragon for that matter, and Im a dragon.
Ditto for me, said Ruby.
The Blue Dragon said nothing but shook his head.
Not surprising, the Star Dragon is pretty secretive, and hes not like us other dragons, Nall said motioning at the other dragons. Hes different Nall paused to think. We were all made to serve the deity of Lunar. The Star Dragon serves no one. His ebb of power was not based on Althenas, nor is it now based on Ghaleons. If any one can help us it would be him.
Ive flown over this forest many times, Michael said, And Ive never scene a tower sticking out of it.
The Star Dragon only reveals himself when you are searching specifically for him, Nall replied.
Okay, so where can we find him, Kevin asked.
Ive had the honor to meet with the Star Dragon on several occasions. I know the way to his tower, Nall said. Time is short. If we start for the tower soon we should make it by noon.
The group finished their breakfast and headed out. Nall lead the way with Ruby walking along side of him, winding deeper and deeper into the dense woods. Lash and Nyreo carried Ghaleon on a makeshift stretcher as Michael and Kevin flanked either side of them keeping guard. Ryan prayed over Ghaleon throughout the trip which Michael thought was a pointless gesture. He highly doubted that Ghaleon could be revived by his own power. Lucia followed from the rear keeping a cautious eye on the group.
Why are you being so helpful, Ruby asked Nall.
What do you mean? Nall asked back.
You know very well what I mean. Youve never helped us before on any kind of mission. Why change your colors now?
Nall sighed, Ruby I hate Ghaleon, you know it and I know it, but I love Lunar, and if I have to save Ghaleon in order to save Lunar then so be it.
* * * *
The hike lasted a little over four hours. Sometimes they had good trails to follow, but other times they had to slowly make their way through thick and relentless foliage. Carrying Ghaleon through these areas proved difficult, but they managed. All at once the forest opened into a wide clearing.
They stood in awe. The clearing was perfectly circular; about a hundred meters in diameter. It was as if the trees had suddenly hit an invisible wall that they could not break through. Inside the clearing only grass and small yellow flowers grew, but what caught their attention was what the clearing contained. In the exact center of the clearing a great tower rose into the air.
My god , Michael whispered, It might be taller than the Blue Spire itself.
So this is the Star Dragon Tower, Lucia said, Althena had mentioned it to me before, but I had never actually seen it.
Come, Nall said as he headed for the tower, its a long climb to the top, and we need to hurry.
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