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Dragon Legends 3: Dragon Rising
Dragon Legends 3: Dragon Rising
Dragon Legends 3: Dragon Rising
Электронная книга556 страниц7 часов

Dragon Legends 3: Dragon Rising

Автор Paul Green

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Amidst the terrible chaos of a corrupted world spiraling out of control and towards its own self-destruction, some amazing changes are taking place.

As our companions struggle to cope with loss and make sense of what their bleak future holds, will they discover that there is Hope in the darkness? Is it possible, that against all reason, Hope has risen from the ashes and is somehow still alive?

Join us once again for another powerful, moving and emotional tale.

ЯзыкEnglish
ИздательPaul Green
Дата выпуска8 окт. 2017 г.
ISBN9781370216949
Dragon Legends 3: Dragon Rising
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Paul Green

Winner of the 1927 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Paul Green (1894-1981) taught philosophy and drama at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was a native of Harnett County, North Carolina.

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    Dragon Legends 3 - Paul Green

    Dragon Legends Series • Book THREE

    DRAGON RISING

    paul green

    Table of Contents

    Title Page

    Copyright Notice

    Dragon Legends Series

    Reader Recommendation

    Acknowledgements

    Cover Page

    From the author ...

    The Story of Dragon Legends

    Prologue

    ~ The Nestling ~

    Chapter 1

    Chapter 2

    ~ Kell ~

    Chapter 3

    Chapter 4

    Chapter 5

    Chapter 6

    Chapter 7

    ~ Hello, Goodbye ~

    Chapter 8

    Chapter 9

    ~ Of Kings and Queens ~

    Chapter 10

    Chapter 11

    Chapter 12

    Chapter 13

    Chapter 14

    Chapter 15

    Chapter 16

    Chapter 17

    ~ Of Love, and the Lack Thereof ~

    Chapter 18

    Chapter 19

    Chapter 20

    Chapter 21

    Chapter 22

    ~ Heroes and Villains ~

    Chapter 23

    Chapter 24

    Chapter 25

    Chapter 26

    Chapter 27

    Chapter 28

    Chapter 29

    ~ Voyage of Discovery ~

    Chapter 30

    Chapter 31

    Chapter 32

    Chapter 33

    Chapter 34

    Chapter 35

    Chapter 36

    Chapter 37

    ~ Dragonreach ~

    Chapter 38

    Chapter 39

    Chapter 40

    Chapter 41

    Chapter 42

    Chapter 43

    Chapter 44

    Chapter 45

    Chapter 46

    Chapter 47

    Chapter 48

    Chapter 49

    Chapter 50

    Chapter 51

    Epilogue

    Book 4 Cover

    Notes to the reader ...

    Dragon Legends Series

    About the Author . . .

    Copyright Notice

    ISBN-13: 978-1977983848

    ISBN-10: 1977983847

    facebook.com/PaulGreenAuthor

    www.PaulGreenAuthor.com

    Copyright 2017 Paul Green All Rights Reserved.

    First Printing: October 2017

    Second Printing: October 2019

    Rev A9

    Printed in the United States of America. No part of this work may be used or reproduced, transmitted, stored or used in any form or by any means graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, scanning, digitizing, tapping, Web distribution, information networks or information storage and retrieval systems, or in any manner whatsoever without the express written approval of the author, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review.

    For further information contact: info@paulgreenauthor.com

    United States laws and regulations are public domain and not subject to copyright. Any unauthorized copying, reproduction, translation, or distribution of any part of this material without permission by the author is prohibited and against the law.

    Front Cover Artwork by Nele-Diel

    Dragon Legends Series

    Part One

    Book 1: DRAGON KING

    Book 2: DRAGON QUEEN

    Book 3: DRAGON RISING

    Book 4: DRAGON REIGN

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    www.PaulGreenAuthor.com

    Reader Recommendation

    Due to the unique subject matter, this series will appeal to a very broad audience: teen to elderly, male and female alike.

    Although some parts may be considered to be too intense for pre-teen or younger readers. Ages 16 and up recommended.

    Acknowledgements

    Thanks to all my reviewers. Your input has been invaluable.

    Special thanks to Nathan and Geraldine, you are the best!

    Thank you to my son Christopher for his help in designing the covers.

    And extra special thanks to the One who gave me the desire to write.

    From the author ...

    A funny thing happened while I was writing DRAGON RISING, this third book in the Dragon Legends series. The story swelled into a much broader story than I had anticipated. Primarily because of necessary character development. Therefore, since it is now too large to fit into a single volume, we have now evolved into a quadrilogy as opposed to a trilogy. I even had to create new covers for Books 3 & 4 to accommodate the split. But I'm glad it turned out this way, I have become very attached to these characters. And after reading this one, I hope you will, too. I imagine this is good news to all of my Dragon Legends fans; there will be a Book Four after this one. More on that later.

    There is so much I want to say. But there is very little I will say. Because to say too much at this point will be spoilery. There's going to be a lot of surprises, twists and turns in this one. As if there haven't been already. lol. That was quite the ending in our last one, wasn't it? Could it be? Did Caertayne actually somehow survive what happened to her? Is her mind somehow still fully intact? And is her mother Asariel, the White Dragon, really back from the dead? Or are we dealing with something else entirely? Let's find out. We pick things up right where we left off in DRAGON QUEEN.

    In our last story, things got very emotional at the end. You can expect no less in this one. However, we are also going to have some fun in this one. We'll meet new people (can't tell you yet), we'll make new friends (can't tell you yet), and possibly lose some friends (can't tell you that either). Like I said, not a whole lot I can say at this juncture. Which is probably just as well; after that climax in Book Two, I am sure you are anxious to get to it. So let's do it, shall we?

    Paul

    The Story of Dragon Legends

    What has gone on before - covering the most important essential plot points in the continuing saga - some of which are subtle key points you may have overlooked. Hopefully this brief recap helps connect a few dots to bring a few things into proper perspective - not only to this series, but others of my series as well.

    Brief recap of Book One: DRAGON KING

    Introduced in Book One: DRAGON KING, on a faraway world known as Thecia situated in the distant constellation known as Cassiopeia, two young orphans Dimitrius and Raelene woke up to their small rural country farmhouse being set ablaze fire by assassins intent on killing them, having already succeeded in killing their adopted parents. The two siblings were rescued by a giant Barbarian 'mercenary' named Graz and narrowly escaped with their lives.

    But on their way to another farm in a safer region belonging to Graz's half-sister Anora, Raelene tragically slipped and fell off the top of a waterfall after being frightened by a bear.

    While recovering from his trauma of losing his older sister and last living relative, Dimitrius met Anora's young daughter Keira; who was an Empath, capable of reading another person's emotions. Who, though now in present time she has reached age 18, Keira looks much younger such that most people still view her as a child.

    Over the course of the next two years they fell in love, and as fate would have it, 20-year-old Dimitrius learned there was more to him than met the eye - when he inadvertently saved the young love of his life from a mortal injury by magically transferring her injuries to himself. Dimitrius had somehow established a rare exchange of his Life-Force with Keira his soulmate, such that he discovered he could keep her alive indefinitely should she ever be injured again. He then learned from Keira's scholarly father Owen that the source of his power was an ancient Draic'Kin magick - something that could only be initiated by those with Dragon blood. Which seemed to imply that somehow, the orphan Dimitrius had ancient Draic'Kin blood in his ancestral lineage.

    But there was a price to pay, as it turned out that Destiny required payment for whenever Keira was resurrected - the cost being that of another Human life. It seemed that Destiny was determined to take Keira's life; and so she and Dimitrius set out to seek the Great Library located in the world's capital: Imperial City, in order to see what they might learn in possibly altering Keira's terrible fate.

    It was while in Imperial City, where the orphan Dimitrius was in for the shock of his life when he met the 'mercenary' Graz once more, who was in all actuality the Paladin - an elite title given to the second most powerful position in world, second only to the Empress herself. Graz then in turn introduced them to the world's Empress. Who, as it turned out, was none other than his own older sister 'Rae', long believed to have been dead - but now known by the world as Raven. Furthermore, Raven was actually now 700 years of age with an amazing story to tell. Among the many astonishing things Dimitrius and Keira learned, was that Dimitrius and his elder sister were the two children of the former Emperor Titus II of the Praetorian Imperial Dynasty - of which Raven was firstborn heir to the throne.

    They also learned that Dimitrius needed to seek out the legendary White Dragon 'Morning Star', purported to be 100,000 years old; in order to defeat Destiny's Curse on Keira.

    It was there in Imperial City in the private quarters of the Empress, when they were finally introduced to the beautiful angelic Asariel'Tanith.

    Whom, many had rumored her to be Raven's lover. Which ultimately was proven to be nothing more than a contrived falsehood - concocted by Raven in an attempt to discourage a torrential global influx of suitors desiring to marry the most beautiful and powerful woman in the world. As it so happened, Asariel was in all actuality the birthmother of both Raven and Dimitrius.

    And it was also learned that Asariel'Tanith herself was the fabled White Dragon, from whom both Dimitrius and Raven had inherited their Draic'Kin blood. But to accomplish that, Asariel had years earlier taken on an angelic almost 'human-like' form, known as a 'Lunari' - in order to conceive in accordance with her planned long term breeding program with their Human Emperor father, and birth them - which is what had allowed them to be born fully Human. Nevertheless, the blood of Dragons did indeed run strong in their veins.

    It had also been learned that Raven had two of her own 'Curses' which she suffered from. Her first 'Curse' was that she had been bequeathed the entirely of all of the combined prescient 'Sight' exclusive to the Lunari race, resulting in Raven having a powerful eternal prescience and foreknowledge of probable future events, for the purpose of counteracting Destiny's corrupted manipulations - while never knowing a moment's rest for all eternity.

    Her second Curse was despicable, in that when she had been a young girl - before she had fallen from the waterfall - she had been bitten by a demonic vampiric like creature, and turned into an immortal who suffered from the same vampiric conditions as her now deceased attacker. Among the many tragic consequences of her deplorable condition - she was required to sleep during the day and live on a liquid diet of lamb's blood - which was her only alternative to Human blood. But if that wasn't curse enough, she was also unable to establish any kind of a personal relationship with a man. For any act of intimacy would trigger her uncontrollable bloodlust, resulting in her partner's death. It was a horrific and permanent condition which had no remedy and could not be reversed.

    Thus Dimitrius had multiple objectives - in which he was determined to not only save Keira, but his sister Raven as well. Eventually, Dimitrius did succeed in his Quest to alter Keira's destiny to die - by becoming the Master of Destiny himself. Which had the added benefit of also resolving the first of Raven's two Curses - her eternal plight of having to fight Destiny's malevolent machinations and thereby allowing her some degree of relief. Which, as had been foretold: 'Only the one who walked between Destinies was the true prophesied Dragon King - and only the true Dragon King could realign Destiny back to its proper course'.

    Tragically, to accomplish his ultimate quest, Asariel had to pay the ultimate price. Something which Asariel herself had also instigated and put into motion ages earlier. Asariel had in fact long ago planned her own death.

    Book One: Dragon King ended with Dimitrius becoming the Dragon King and saving his soulmate Keira, and also saving his sister Raven from her own terrible fate - but at the tragic cost of their mother's life.

    Brief recap of Book Two: DRAGON QUEEN

    Asariel'Tanith's firstborn daughter Shyael'Tanith is a main central figure of Book Two: DRAGON QUEEN. Shyael herself is a 90,000 year old Silver Dragon, nearly as old as her mother. She is in fact the eldest of Asariel's children, older than even her big brother Kal'Reth known as the Great Dragon. Shyael was actually first introduced in the preceding book's closing epilogue, where it was learned that she normally appears in Human form, in which she goes by the Human name Caertayne (or the Warrior Goddess of ancient legend). On rare occasions, she will also appear in her angelic Lunari form like her mother before her; and in even more rare occasions she will take on her Dragon form. But the vast majority of her existence is spent wearing her 'vulgar' Human skin.

    Vulgar, because she loathes Humanity, and the despicable things that Humans had done to her in the past, which had in effect all but destroyed her mind, including her inability to transfigure back into her Dragon form. 50,000 years earlier, Shyael had a psychotic break; a permanent tragic condition she has never been able to recover from. In essence, her broken mind is irreparable. But if that wasn't bad enough, she is forced to remain in her 'disgusting' Human guise, sadly no longer able to fly the skies with her beloved mother. That is to say she could not change into her Dragon form consciously - only as an automatic subconscious self-defense mechanism does Shyael revert into a Silver Dragon, and then only briefly until the danger has passed; after which she automatically returns back to Caertayne in her 'vular' Human form once again.

    Although it is possible for her to transform into her angelic Lunari form like her mother before her, but there are negative connotations to that as it relates to her tragic backstory. Plus the beautiful form of a Lunari draws too much unwanted attention.

    It has been 50,000 years of Caertayne having to live this torturous broken existence, and her broken mind has been gradually deteriorating. She has good days and bad days, with the bad days involving her crawling inside herself out of tormented anguish and fear of her 'ghosts from the past', which causes her to degrade into a frightened child unable to function. On her good days she is strong and sharp, capable and even wise; but in more recent years she has been having more bad days than good.

    200 years earlier, it had been getting bad enough that Caertayne would soon no longer be able to be on her own anymore. And so it was that her mother Asariel had sent her beloved firstborn on one last special mission to the southern Barbarian continent - where Asariel's prescient foresight had seen someone special who would be able to take care of her daughter, upon Asariel's eventual death. And that was our first real introduction to Iona at the beginning of Book Two: DRAGON QUEEN.

    The tall six foot warrior with golden yellow eyes had her own tragic backstory. The young Barbarian woman had been raised in a peaceful mountain Barbarian village, until the fateful day when they had been invaded by Humans who sought to conquer the southern continent. It was in her own village in her own family workshop, where her father and sister were murdered and she was raped over the body of her dead father by 24 men.

    That was day that forever changed Iona in more ways than one. Vowing vengeance, she became a stone cold killer with the intent to hunt down and kill not only the 24 men who had taken everything from her, but their families as well; and any other Human male she were to come across would also be in grave danger from her bitter steely-eyed wrath.

    It was also the day that something inside of her was awoken. A beast, in the form of an immortal wolf. She had been naturally born with golden-yellow eyes, but it was the bite of one of those despicable Humans that triggered her innate blood condition. That was the day she inherited her true nature and became a powerful immortal dealer of death - of which she was beyond capable of enacting her terrifying wrathful vengeance upon anyone who was unfortunate to cross her path.

    It was also the day she met Caertayne.

    Who, oddly enough, appeared to be 'Human', but Caertayne revealed her angelic Lunari side to Iona, proving that she wasn't altogether Human. And something between them instantly clicked. And when Caertayne gave Iona her 'heart' in the form of a cracked red broach in the shape of a heart, their deep bond was permanently set in stone.

    Now, unbeknownst to them, there was much more to their instantaneous deep bond that either of them realized at the time. Many long ages ago, their world had been seeded by four strange visitors from another world, who had inadvertently come to their world by way of a magical 'portal', and were unable to leave and were forced to make the world of Thecia their permanent new home. That was the day the Human element was first introduced to Thecia.

    That originating home world was called 'Earth', and the terminology from the original world was unknown to the resulting generations on Thecia. But Iona owed her ancestry to a unique specialized bloodline on Earth known as 'Protectors', and Caertayne herself from was an equally unique specialized bloodline which went hand in hand with Protectors. Upon their first meeting, their pairing was inevitable.

    Although in the case of Iona and Caertayne, who had a special personal bond superseding all other kinds of bonds, Iona had taken it a step further by allowing herself to develop feelings for Caertayne. As far as Iona was concerned, men would never be an option. And being what she was, Iona was also hot-bloodied and had certain 'needs'. Nevertheless, even though Iona and Caertayne shared a special bonded connection, it too was also a tragic connection, in that the romantic aspect was only one-sided. Caertayne herself was unable to truly participate in any kind of a personal intimate relationship. Her mind and heart were shattered and broken to the point where Caertayne would never be able to experience or reciprocate genuine romantic love - not to anyone. For Caertayne and for the last 50,000 years, it simply wasn't possible; as that part of her had long ago died. However Caertayne did genuinely and deeply care about Iona, even if it wasn't in a romantic way. But 200 years was a long time for someone like Iona to go without having her needs met - so the best Caertayne could offer her immortal life partner was to be there for her, during those rare occasions when Iona's hot-blooded needs arose - even if her own heart wasn't in it.

    Their personal relationship aside, the real story of the Dragon Queen begins 200 years later after their initial meeting, in present time with Caertayne and Iona having recently become separated. Caertayne was traveling to warn Raven of a possible assassination attempt on the dark Empress, and Iona herself had been captured, and tortured, by the enemy - leaving Caertayne alone to fend for herself. Who herself had been severely struck in the back of the head and had received a serious injury, causing Caertayne to lose all of her memories.

    The story begins with Caertayne not knowing who she is or where she was, and stumbles into a brothel on a dark and stormy night.

    It was in that brothel where Caertayne begins her personal journey of discovery. It was also down in the lower basement of that brothel where Caertayne discovers, and rescues, a small Katu Princess - who were also known as cat people.

    Nicknamed 'Anso' by her friends, Princess Zakira of the Katu'umano had left her home in the western continent in search of one last grand adventure before taking over as Queen for her ailing mother. But upon arriving on Human shores, she had been captured by local slavers. Who had in turn sold her and her Katu traveling companions to the local brothel to be used as sex slaves. Caertayne found them in the cellar before any of them could be harmed or abused, and rescued them from their dire fate.

    Resulting in Caertayne having a new travel companion and friend in the person of naïve and ever-curious Anso - who was eager to continue her exciting adventure with her new dear friend. And was just as devotedly eager to help her new friend with amnesia discover who she was.

    Meanwhile, as the two new travel companions continued on their way to the next town - back in Imperial City, Empress Raven had just experienced a stunning, painful mind-numbing vision of the future - of a coming apocalypse which would bring about the destruction of all mankind. And in her vision, she had seen three individuals leading the coming apocalypse: of whom two of the central figures were Caertayne the Warrior Goddess and ever faithful Iona at her side. Raven was also aware of the identity of the third person, but she needed to learn more about the cause before jumping to too many conclusions. And so along with Graz, Raven sought the aid of her brother Dimitrius and Keira to join them in their search for Caertayne and Iona.

    It was when Caertayne and Anso arrived in the next town, that they met a popular traveling blind bard by the name of Flynn.

    Who in addition to becoming a love interest for Anso, it also turns out that Flynn receives visions in the form of partial verses of songs. And the current song he was working on was entitled 'The Ballad of Caertayne'. Otherwise known as the ancient Warrior Goddess, whom most considered only a myth. The incomplete verses struck a familiar chord with Caertayne, and naturally she sought to learn more from the traveling bard - anxious for him to assemble more pieces of her story. And so it was that Anso and Caertayne teamed up with the Bard and his band of merry musicians.

    But only after narrowly escaping the town they were in. For as it so happened, it was an evil Human town who captured women and killed their men. And as the town's citizens attempted to likewise capture Caertayne - who was still severely injured from her grievous head wound, that is when her automatic reflexes kicked in, causing her to morph into her Draic'Kin form.

    While Anso and Flynn and the musicians escaped out the back door of the tavern, a massive Silver Dragon laid waste to the rest of the town.

    Neither Anso nor the others knew that it was really Caertayne. To their great relief, Anso's dear friend Caertayne hadn't also been killed with the rest of the town, as they saw her stumbling forward towards them in the dark after the devastation. Where she then collapsed in Anso's arms; after which they loaded Caertayne's unconscious body into the wagon along with the rest and quickly made their way on to the next town.

    Meanwhile, Dimitrius and Keira finally found Iona. For the first time, and as an injured wolf - having just escaped her torturers only to then be shot by a hunter's arrow. At Keira's insistence, they took the wolf into their camp and treated her injuries; not yet knowing who she really was.

    But when Iona did awake the next morning - back in her normal natural form, she didn't take too kindly to Dimitrius especially. Any Human male allowed to live in Iona's presence should consider themselves fortunate, but it was only at Keira's insistence to spare Dimitrius, that he still lived. They explained that they were searching for Caertayne, and of course, so was Iona - and thus they formed an uncomfortable union to join efforts in seeking out the answers as to what had happened to Caertayne.

    Along the way they met more assassins, and Dimitrius and Keira were stunned at Iona's impressive skill in quickly dispensing all the assassins as well as impossibly descaling a thousand foot cliff as if it was nothing to, before continuing their way downriver on a barge to meet Raven and Graz on their ship awaiting them at the coast.

    Now reunited on the Flying Raven, they sailed north towards the region of Caertayne's last known location. Upon reaching the first town with the brothel, they discovered to their horror that Anso's traveling companions had not escaped their captors after all; and had in fact been recaptured. To Raven's shock, they discovered not only eleven innocent Katu slaughtered in the cellar slave pens below, but one of them had been Anso's precious little sister. Which enraged Raven even further - bringing her one step closer to being the third entity she had seen in her apocalyptic vision.

    As they continued on, they then discovered the town that had been destroyed by a Silver Dragon. Which only incensed Raven further - for the only reason that her 'sister' Shyael'Tanith would have killed so many could have only been justified. That prevalent evil was lurking in her world when she was supposed to be in control as the world's Empress, only made her all the more furious that these kinds of evil things were happening under her protective nose.

    Meanwhile, Anso and the Bard and the traveling band of musicians continued on to the third town, where Caertayne was just waking up in a strange new inn. And she woke up pain free! For during the night while she had been unconscious, Anso had brought in a physician to tend to her head wound.

    And it was also during that time when Anso was beginning to develop a personal interest in that cute Human Bard!

    But Caertayne's moment of feeling better was short lived. For shortly after that, Anso had heard Caertayne whimpering inside the bathroom, where upon opening the door she discovered Caertayne clothed and curled up in the bathtub, trembling and crying at the 'ghosts' and the 'walls' that were closing in on her. Caertayne was suffering another one of her relapses. This was the first time Anso experienced that with her dear friend, and she was then further surprised when Caertayne began crying out and pleading for someone named 'Iona'. Not that Anso knew who 'Iona' was, but whomever it was, her dear friend desperately needed her.

    But Caertayne's psychotic episode finally abated, giving room to clarity and present reality. Such that Caertayne was able to attend the Bard's next sell-out concert at the inn.

    And it was in that very concert when Flynn had received the final verses to the 'Ballad of Caertayne'; and Caertayne finally learned the last missing piece of her tragic life. For it was during the song when people learned the story from their ancient past - that the greatest warrior of all time had been Caertayne the Warrior Goddess. And that it was Caertayne's lover, a Human Prince whom Caertayne had put on the throne as the first Emperor, by fighting his battles for him. But after Conchobar had won the global throne, he cast her away as he didn't need her any more.

    That is, until one day, the Emperor was faced with an invading nation whom he had offended, with a fighting force of two hundred thousand to match his own might. Conchobar was doomed.

    And thus he did the only thing his evil corrupted mind could think of doing - and that was forcing Caertayne back onto the world scene to fight one more battle for him. Which he succeeded in doing - by sacrificing her own twin daughters upon a altar in order to force the Warrior Goddess out of seclusion.

    His wicked scheme worked, in that it had indeed drawn the Warrior Goddess out. And she did indeed slaughter his enemies - all two hundred thousand of them. But his plan then backfired; for in her continuing vengeful rage, the Warrior Goddess turned her swords on to Conchobar and his own nation - and slaughtered two hundred thousand more.

    50,000 years earlier, nearly half a million people had died - two entire nations - at the hands of one individual. And they were the 'ghosts' of Caertayne's psychosis which continued to haunt her to this day.

    Even worse, by being flooded with the memories of her horrific past, it was causing the uncontrollable tormented Warrior Goddess to 'rise again' - in the deadly form some referred to as the 'Angel of Death' - the ultimate destruction of mankind.

    Fortunately, Iona was indeed on her way. And the Flying Raven had barely managed to arrive just in time, to allow them to hear her wailing cry of anguish and go to her.

    Though it had been cutting things uncomfortably close, Iona finally managed to reach Caertayne. And in so doing, by reuniting with her, the two began to glow with a bright golden-yellow glow, matching Iona's golden-yellow eyes, enveloping the both of them. As a result, the strong and dedicated Iona was able to syphon Caertayne's pain into herself - through their established Draic'Kin Life-Force bridge.

    Which as it would soon be explained by Raven, was something that had been established by Caertayne, herself being a pure Draic'Kin. She had managed to construct the additional bond between herself and Iona two centuries earlier, which in addition to their existing special and unique bond, added a whole new powerful dimension to their already close and tightly-knit relationship. Like in the same manner with Dimitrius and Keira, Iona was able to absorb all of Caertayne's injuries into herself - which in the case of Caertayne was primarily her deep-rooted emotional pain. It was in fact something that Iona had been doing for a very long time. Iona had in fact been 'saving the world' and protecting the world from the threat of the 'Angel of Death' on an almost daily basis for nearly two centuries.

    Which of course gave the companions on the Flying Raven all new reasons to be extremely grateful to and appreciative of Iona - the steadfast Guardian Protector of the Seed.

    Even Dimitrius, who was sometimes conflicted about the personal nature of the relationship between Iona and his distant eldest 'Sister', had to admit that the world seriously owed Iona many times over.

    But not all endings were happy endings. For though Caertayne now had her memories back and Iona had gotten to her in time and Caertayne's sanity was restored to some semblance of 'normalcy', she still wasn't normal. It was indeed something that needed to be repeated over and over again. And as has already been alluded to, Caertayne's mind was still degrading.

    The day was soon coming, where Caertayne's mind would be too far gone, such that not even Iona would be able to bring her life partner back. Like a Draic'Kin form of dementia, Shyael'Tanith was slowly but surely losing the battle of her mind, and there was nothing that could be done to prevent the inventible.

    It was for that reason, that once all the companions including Iona and Caertayne were back on the ship, that while still in her right mind, Caertayne had made the decision to go seek out the Lunari in order to perform rare and special 'cleansing ritual'. A ritual which would in essence erase her mind completely. The procedure was said to be painless, and with no hope of a cure, Caertayne wanted to choose the means of her own death.

    With heavy hearts, the companions all set sail for the mysterious Isle of Adreathel which was home to the angelic race of Lunari.

    And upon arriving there, Shyael'Tanith said her final farewell to everyone. At least this way, she would be at peace and no longer tormented. At least this way, the world would no longer be in any danger from the 'Angel of Death'. At least this way, she could finally be free.

    Upon arriving at the Isle's shores, it was Iona who walked her as far as she was able to, inland. Until finally Iona was forced to yield her own tearful goodbye. It was at that time when Iona attempted to return her 'heart' back to Shyael - in the broach she had faithfully worn clasped to her chest for the past two centuries. But Shyael'Tanith refused to accept it, saying that it had been a permanent gift of promise.

    It was a deeply emotional parting of the ways, as the robed Lunari then led Shyael away to her fate, leaving Iona completely alone for the first time in two hundred years.

    As Iona waited in tearful grieving silence, the news finally came that the ritual had been a success. Shyael'Tanith was no more. Which caused Iona to drop to the sand to wail out her terrible heart wrenching grief.

    Months later - Iona returned alone to her home Barbarian village on the southern continent. She had departed Imperial City with no desire or intention of ever seeing any of them ever again. Like the cracked heart she wore at her breast, Iona too, was now 'broken'. Instead she had chosen to return to where it had all begun in personal exile.

    Back in Imperial City, the Empress was having her own struggles - not only with the tragic loss of her ancient 'Sister' Shyael, but just as tragically it had been learned that more innocent Katu had been murdered. It had just been learned there was a growing racist Supremacist movement to eliminate all other non-Human races, which understandably made the Empress livid. Discovering all the dead Katu in her own city was the last straw which put Raven over the edge - in a raw emotional scene which gave us a sampling of how powerful she really is. It was then that she revealed to her brother Dimitrius and to Graz that she was in fact the third person of the coming apocalypse. In rage, she departed Imperial City to go to Dragonreach in the north, in order to begin recruiting all of the Draic'Kin to her cause of wiping all Humans out of existence. Who, like an infestation, had become the bane of their otherwise peaceful world.

    Raven had left. Iona had left. And Anso's dear friend Caertayne was no more. By the time we neared the end, the whole world and all of our characters seemed to falling apart.

    Meanwhile on the southern continent, with no other plans than to begin rebuilding her 200 year old broken down, windswept workshop in silent grieving solitude, Iona had only been a day into it when an unexpected stranger came to her door. And it was to her utter astonishment when she first felt her presence behind her, and then heard her voice speak. And as she spun around in shock, she couldn't believe her eyes!

    For her unexpected visitor was none other than Caertayne - in the flesh, alive and well!

    But there was one other shock to come. For far away, out at sea, Anso had also been deeply grieving over the loss of her dear friend Caertayne and all the rest. When to her own shock, another person appeared in her cabin from out of thin air.

    To Anso's great astonishment, it was none other than the angelic mother of Shyael: Asariel'Tanith herself.

    Prologue

    The Flying Raven

    It was late evening and Anso hadn't shown up in the galley for dinner.

    Graz had been the first to make the discovery that Anso was gone, and he had gone to retrieve Dimitrius.

    Graz and Dimitrius were now standing in the open doorway of Anso's personal cabin, looking dumbfounded as they stared down at Anso's empty bed, and more specifically at the beautiful delicate white veil resting upon her pillow.

    Told you. said Graz, scratching his head.

    That's not possible! Dimitrius exclaimed in shock.

    And yet ... the irrefutable proof is right in front of us.

    She can't be back! That's not possible!

    Just then, Keira came running up. And she too gasped in shock when she saw the white veil. That's not possible!!!

    Graz nodded. Such seems to be the consensus. And yet we cannot deny what we all see. I feel relieved now that the both of you see it, too. I was beginning to doubt my sanity.

    Just then, Felix the Doctor came running up. And he too gasped in shock from the doorway. Inconceivable!!!

    Good. Then I am officially not crazy. Graz turned to leave. Being that we all are of sound mind and body, and of unanimous consent, I shall go alert Captain Addison to change course.

    Change course? Keira asked.

    "Our orders were to escort Princess Zakira to the Katu'umano homeland. Being that it seems our little Katu friend has been ... ahem ... intercepted by another ... escort ... our orders are now moot. With Anso no longer on board, we have no reason to continue west to the Katu nation, do we?"

    And where do you propose we go? Felix asked. Raven is no longer in Imperial City. Nor would it be deemed safe to return to any Human port or city, being that the entire world of men IS ABOUT TO BE DESTROYED! By the three most powerful and dangerous women in the world.

    Graz looked at Dimitrius. In light of these unique circumstances which are beyond my understanding, the Right Hand of the Empress shall defer to the Left Hand. Which way should we go?

    Dimitrius continued looking thoughtfully at the white veil on the pillow. Simply ... impossible. he muttered in disbelief.

    Yes, I believe we have already established that. Now as for the ship, which course direction would you advise me to give to the Captain?

    But Dimitrius' mind was still focused on the white veil. It is simply not possible for someone to come back from the dead.

    Keira asked, "Do you think she is a spirit? Or a ... gulp ... ghost?"

    Felix shook his head. Doubtful. As the world's foremost authority in the field of Aberrant Physiology, to the best of my educated understanding and research, spirits or ghosts are incapable of affecting or impacting the real world of the living around them. All they can do is go 'Boo'. The fact that a very real white veil exists in our very real reality, suggests that she is neither ghost, nor spirit. Implying that she is not intangible, but rather quite tangible. She would in fact then have to be, corporeal. Which is implausible being that as Dimitrius has rightly pointed out, no one can come back from the dead. Thusly and therefore, there is but one possible word of explanation that comes to mind.

    What is that? asked Dimitrius.

    In ... con ... ceivable.

    Graz turned and looked at Felix.

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