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Authors: Richard S. Tuttle

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Dragons' Onyx

BOOK: Dragons' Onyx
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Dragons' Onyx

Book 6 of Sword of Heavens

by

Richard S. Tuttle

 
Copyright © 2003 by Richard S. Tuttle.

 All rights reserved.

All characters and events in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.

Recap

In
Sapphire of the Fairies
: Five Collapse Children have been gathered by Garth and Kalina, who were discovered to be Alex and Jenneva Tork. Two of the Collapse Children are the Children of the Ancient Prophecy, but their identity is not yet clear. Calling themselves the Alcea Rangers, the group has managed to restore the Sapphire of the Fairies to the Sword of Heavens. Clear skies have replaced the Darkness over the area once known as Cordonia, but with the sunshine comes the pinpointing of their location to the forces of evil. General Gregor had been released from prison and he now labors to build an army in preparation of the Heir's return to Tagaret. Niki has met with Dalgar, who professes to be her real father. While acknowledging that he is a high-level Black Devil, Dalgar sows the seeds of doubt in Niki's mind.

With the
Unicorns’ Opal
restored to the Sword of Heavens, the Collapse Children are off to search for the Diamond of Edona. Fredrik and Niki have left the group and decided to stay in Tagaret. Arik, Tedi, and the mysterious Tanya are still accompanied by Alex and Jenneva, but the Heir to the Alcean throne has finally accepted his place in the struggle to defeat Sarac.

In
Abuud: the One-Eyed God
Arik and Tedi are seperated from the Rangers. They are joined by another Collapse Child, Wylan, as they seek to secure a statue of Abuud to redeem for the Diamond of Edona. Niki is also seperated and teams up with the mysterious Master Khatama where she is taught a form of magic that deals with animals. Tedi's mother is discovered to be alive, but Master Khatama collapses mysteriously when the Diamond of Edona is set into the Sword of Heavens.

In
Dwarven Ruby
Wylan and Bin-lu join up with the Rangers. Tedi misses his rendevous with the Rangers and ends up with the gypsies. Queen Marta enters Tagaret and takes tenuous control of the city, while the Rangers journey to the mysterious Castle of Man.

In
Emerald of the Elves
Queen Marta is assassinated and King Arik is crowned. Wylan is blinded during the battle at Watling Flats where the prophet Azmet is defeated. Master Khatama learns that Fredrik is Sarac's descendent, and the Black Devil, Dalgar, replaces Emperor Hanchi.

Chapter 1
Harsh Realities

Lattimer halted abruptly in the corridor of the castle prison, high atop Mount Kalas. He shuddered as he felt the strong disturbance in the magical fold of the world. Lattimer ground his teeth as he realized the significance of the disturbance; King Arik had just restored the Emerald of the Elves to the Sword of Heavens. Sarac would be furious. Lattimer worried that the Dark One might kill most of the garrison to alleviate his frustration in foiling the Ancient Prophecy. After all, Sarac had been getting nastier with each passing day.

“Lattimer!” Sarac shouted from his distant office.

Lattimer bit his lip and closed his eyes as he heard the Dark One calling. Mindful that he might be the next one to die, Lattimer hurried to Sarac’s office. Half expecting to see dead bodies strewn across the floor of the office, and Sarac in a murderous rage, Lattimer was surprised to walk through the door and find the Dark One sitting calmly at his desk.

“I felt it, too,” sighed Lattimer. “The lad’s luck is uncanny.”

“He does seem to live a charmed life,” Sarac nodded. “That is something that we must change. What gem is next?”

“The Dragons’ Onyx,” answered Lattimer. “We never expected him to get this far.”

“He has had great help in getting this far,” scowled Sarac.

“From the beginning we expected Alexander and Jenneva Tork to be involved,” nodded Lattimer. “They also appear to be charmed.”

“I don’t mean them,” interrupted the Dark One.

“Who do you mean then?” questioned Lattimer.

“I am not sure,” frowned Sarac, “but someone more powerful than them. When I felt the disturbance a moment ago, it was like someone had just taken a cloth sack from over my head. The Emerald of the Elves has defeated whoever was interfering with my powers. We are lucky that our men were not successful in destroying it.”

“I am confused,” admitted Lattimer. “Are you saying that someone has been in control of your mind?”

“I am not sure what I am saying,” Sarac shook his head. “Haven’t you noticed that I had become confused and disorganized lately?”

“And more prone to violence,” Lattimer nodded cautiously.

“It is not like me to be disorganized,” sighed Sarac. “And never can I remember being confused. I have always known what I wanted and how to get it, until recently that is. Someone or something was affecting me. I felt the magical force lift off of me at the moment the Emerald of the Elves was fitted to the Sword of Heavens. That action broke the spell.”

“But all that should have happened is the destruction of the Darkness,” posed Lattimer.

“Yes, the Darkness,” spat Sarac. “That is what has been affecting me. I am sure of it now. I felt more burdened every time a gem was recovered. I thought it was the stress of losing the battle of the Ancient Prophecy, but I have never been one to buckle under stress.”

“But the Darkness is your own spell,” Lattimer pointed out. “It could not conflict with your own goals.”

“Couldn’t it?” retorted Sarac. “You forget who taught me the spell.”

“Alutar?” exclaimed Lattimer. “You think the Great Demon tricked you into casting a spell that would degrade your powers?”

“That is exactly what I think,” nodded Sarac. “I was an eager fool to trust Alutar. Looking back, there is absolutely no way that Alutar would trust me to release him. He is using me as a puppet.”

“I don’t understand,” Lattimer shook his head. “You are the only chance of escape that Alutar has. Why would he deceive you?”

“A number of reasons,” explained the Dark One. “First, Alutar has never known honesty. Deceit is his nature, and it should be expected of him in every instance. As for being his only chance of escape, I think we have overlooked something. There is no way that Alutar is going to wait patiently as a captive for a thousand years while I rule the world. He is using me in someway to accomplish his escape. The Darkness spell is the key to his plans. I eagerly used it as he knew I would.”

Lattimer gazed out the window while he pondered Sarac’s words. Slowly, he began to nod.

“The Darkness affected your abilities,” Lattimer began. “Now that the Darkness is gone, it no longer affects you. How can Alutar benefit from that?”

“I am not sure,” replied the Dark One. “It is almost as if Alutar was present in the Darkness. Now that the Darkness is gone, he can no longer affect me.”

“But the Darkness is not really gone,” mused Lattimer. “It has just been removed from certain areas.”

“Yes,” frowned Sarac. “That means that Alutar still exists and still plans to escape somehow, but how?”

“If he truly exists in the Darkness,” posed Lattimer, “what happens when the last gem is restored to the Sword of Heavens?”

“That is the moment of his escape,” declared the Dark One. “If he IS the Darkness, than it will congeal into the Great Demon.”

“That is also the time of your prophesized death,” Lattimer pointed out.

“Alutar would surely help King Arik to dispose of me,” scowled Sarac. “If I live, he is bound to let me rule for a thousand years. If I read Alutar correctly, he will not be willing to wait that long.”

“But if you can stop the Ancient Prophecy from being fulfilled,” smirked Lattimer, “Alutar’s escape is foiled.”

“It would serve him right,” cackled Sarac. “So let’s get to work on this problem. You have managed to sway one of the stronger dragons to my side?”

“Not one of the stronger dragons,” grinned Lattimer. “The strongest, meanest dragon of them all is on our side. He will try to force the other dragons to aid us as well. Even Jenneva’s magic will be put to the test to deal with him.”

“Excellent,” nodded Sarac. “I also want Emperor Hanchi’s army for my own. What have you managed to find out about it?”

“Not much,” Lattimer admitted. “I have sent men in, but they have never been heard of again. Hanchi must have a powerful mage in his employ.”

“Find out who this mage is and destroy him,” ordered the Dark One. “Once that is done, demand that Emperor Hanchi submit to my rule. If he refuses, kill him and use Reflecting Pool to replace him. What about Sarac’s Ravens?”

“Hagik has proved to be a disappointment,” reported Lattimer. “I have ordered his death. He will be replaced by Calastano.”

“Calastano is capable,” nodded Sarac. “Do you have faith in him?”

“I do,” nodded Lattimer. “His first request was for replacements. Hagik lost quite a few good men, but Calastano request revenants as replacements. That indicates to me that he will aggressively pursue King Arik.”

“Good,” responded Sarac. “It would appear that the Ranger assault on Mount Kalas was a ruse.  Is that how you see it?”

“Undoubtedly,” agreed Lattimer. “Still, we could not take the chance that it was a ruse. This is our last stand. We could not afford to have our defenses destroyed.”

“I understand,” Sarac said. “I want those troops sent to Tor. The Castle of Man WILL fall this time. I am tired of always being one step behind King Arik. After the Castle of Man is destroyed, I want that entire army to march on Tagaret. I also want to be in control of the Lanoirian army by then so it can march northward at the same time.”

“Isn’t that a bit of overkill?” questioned Lattimer.

“There is no such thing as overkill when my life is on the line, Lattimer,” declared the Dark One. “I want Tagaret crushed so badly that nobody will ever remember a city as having been there. Hopefully the dragons will put an end to King Arik, but I am no longer going to take chances. We attack on all fronts with everything we have. I want this Ancient Prophecy ended. Afterwards, we can figure out a way to make Alutar suffer for his deceit.”

“It shall be as you command,” assured Lattimer. “Do you need anything else while I am here?”

“Yes,” smirked Sarac, “I want to review the defenses of my castle. You have five minutes warning. I trust you have been keeping my forces on alert. Now I shall see how well you are doing in that area.”

Lattimer swallowed hard and backed swiftly out of the office.

* * *

Fredrik practiced his sword skills by fighting against an imaginary foe. It was an exercise that he had seen Alexander Tork use many times, but as much as Fredrik tried to imagine an opponent, he just could not get the grasp of fighting nothing but air. Finally he stopped and shook his head in displeasure.

“Why are you stopping?” asked Niki who had been watching from a log near the campfire. “That was hardly long enough to be good practice.”

“I know,” sighed Fredrik as he walked to the campfire and sat next to Niki. “I just can’t make an imaginary foe work for me. It all seems so childish.”

“But you need to be good with a sword,” protested Niki. “Remember that the whole world is depending upon you. You have to kill Sarac with the Sword of Heavens. Nobody else can do it.”

“I know,” Fredrik snapped testily.

“Don’t get mad at me,” retorted Niki. “It is not my fault that you are Sarac’s descendent.”

“I know,” Fredrik sighed. “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to bark at you. I guess I am just frustrated. I find Master Khatama’s magic lessons challenging and enjoyable, but I do not think I am made of warrior material. I would much rather kill the Dark One with my magic.”

“That won’t work,” frowned Niki. “You know what the Ancient Prophecy says about that. Only the Sword of Heavens can slay the Dark One, and only when yielded by his descendent. That is you, Fredrik.”

“I understand the Ancient Prophecy just fine,” assured Fredrik. “That is why I even bother to practice with a sword, but I need an opponent to properly practice. I can’t just fight imaginary foes.”

BOOK: Dragons' Onyx
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