Ties That Bind
The demon monkey stared out from one eye into a stone bowl of blood as he sat curled upon his throne. He didn’t recognize his reflection. Perhaps it was the battered and empty socket or the elongated canines, but Morgath was no longer familiar with the image that stared back at him.
“You promised no more pain,” Morgath angrily accused his reflection. “You said it would go away.” There was genuine sadness in his voice, the kind of sadness that makes someone do something they know they will later regret. Morgath didn’t care about regret. The monkey knocked the blood bowl from his throne, tired of the hunger that never seemed to be sated.
Kaa was the first of the Silkwood elves to reach the small group, and he was quickly followed by about a dozen archers. “You have to get out of here,” he called to his daughter, Vaidon.
“We just got here,” Qari argued as he picked some prickly seeds from Rolo’s fur.
Vaidon, who could hear the sincere concern in her father’s voice, stiffened. The jaguar sensed the tension and mistook her rigidity; with a growl, he placed himself between father and daughter. Vaidon had no time for the overprotective cat, and pushed its face away with both hands as she made her way to Kaa. “What is going on?” she asked.
“Tira plans on taking Silkwood,” Kaa answered quickly. There was no time to mince words; Tira Al Lung would surely greet Bynn and Vaidon any moment. “I don’t know her exact plan yet, but I will find it out. Until I do, I don’t want you in the city.”
“We need food,” Calidorn stated plainly, “All of us.”
Kaa threw Bynn a satchel full of food. Then he reached over and took the quivers off of two of the elves and passed those to Bynn as well.
“Thank you,” Bynn managed. He knew to trust Kaa through years of hunting next to him for so many years. There was fear in Kaa’s eyes, the kind of fear that Bynn had not seen even when the hunter had looked upon the face of a dragon. Something had happened while they had been away, but there was no time to discuss it now.
Vaidon gave her father a hug, and Kaa wrapped his arm around her. One of the elven archers gave a bird call signaling the approach of Tira Al Lung and her servant Munkus. “I love you, daddy.”
Tira approached just as the group had escaped into the woods. Immediately, she sent Munkus after them. The lion-like groundling dropped to all fours and started giving chase.
“Looks like you were too late,” Kaa teased. “I told you not to doubt my daughter and Bynn.”
Tira was tired of Kaa and his constant taunting. She was tired of her elven form. Tiranis was longing to break free from the simple elven skin she had been wearing. Then it happened; a combination of too many emotions and a one-armed elf laughing in her face caused Tira to lose control to Tiranis.
Kaa didn’t even try to run as the noble elf in front of him dropped down to her knees and started her transformation into a purple dragon. He knew something was evil inside of her, and now he knew what it was. The elven archers looked on, paralyzed in fear.
Still Kaa kept pushing Tiranis, even as she changed. “Bynn already killed one of your kind, and you will be next.”
Tiranis turned her head slightly as she remembered her mother. In an instant, the purple dragon was on top of the elf. She ripped him apart, partly for her mother but mostly because it had been so long since she had tasted the blood of an elf.
The elven archers did not even raise their bows. They were terrified, both of fighting a dragon and of attacking a noble elf. The confusion gave Tiranis a chance to speak. Her words were truthful and also laced with magical influence. By the time she finished her speech, the elves fully believed that a dragon was their only hope for survival against the blood monkeys and the vengeful trolls.
Munkus quickly caught up with the group using a combination of teleportation and natural speed. The jaguar turned to fight the groundling, hoping that it would buy the others some time to escape. The two great cats fought a terrible battle, but it was a fight that the jaguar had no hopes of winning. When Munkus realized that natural weapons would not be enough against such a large opponent, the groundling resorted to his earth magic. The jaguar was confined in a tangle of vines. Tiranis’ instructions were clear, “Do not harm them. I want them alive.”
The jaguar’s sacrifice was successful, however. Bynn, Vaidon, Qari and Rolo, Batoonsta and Calidorn all got away from the dragon and her groundling pet.