The Dragon of Time 2, Dragon Slayer

A Fantasy Book Excerpt by Aaron Dennis

The Dragon of Time 2, Dragon Slayer

by Aaron Dennis

Dragons have posed as Gods, but the Dragon Slayer has come for blood….
The Dragon of Time 2, Dragon Slayer – by Aaron Dennis

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The Dragon Slayer smiled. A pile of bloody corpses were strewn about the deer pelts covering the stone floor of Zoltek’s palace. Since the guards were dead, and Zoltek had yet to show his face, Scar plunked down on the blackened, wood throne; the seat of power within the walls of Urr. He watched shadows cast by burning braziers dance along the gray stone. An eerie quietude was all that remained of the opposition. Dead men told no tales, but dead Dragons were a different story. A gust of chilly, night air brought forth sparks and crackles from the fires. Scar clicked his tongue.

Zoltek,” he taunted.

The warrior frowned, crossed his legs, and strained to listen. Only embers chirped when more gusts circulated through the throne room. None of the guards had dared chase the Dragon Slayer into the palace, and inside Urr, Scar had already hacked to bits anyone who wasn’t fleeing for their life. Zmajans were nothing if not fearsome, but the Dragon Slayer was practically invulnerable; such was the blessing of Eternus, the Dragon of Time.

Think of your son, Zoltek,” Scar yelled. “I killed the little brat when he tried to backstab me. What was his name? Oh, yes, Urdu.”

The fight inside the palace had lasted less than an hour. After charging in, Scar easily mowed down the dark skinned fighters. Their leather armor proved ineffective against the brute’s great sword, a blade forged by Eternus for the specific purpose of slaying Dragons. They tried to fight back with their magic weapons—swords and axes that changed into spinning blades; they were self-propelled saws. Some of the Zmajans, ones with crossbows, turned their weapons into machines that fired bolts at an unprecedented rate, yet the projectiles did little damage. Scar’s newest wounds had already healed over.

Don’t make me hunt you down like a dog, Zoltek. You’re Zmajan. You are brave, and you are angry. You should come find me and accept my challenge rather than cower in some darkened corner!” Scar goaded. “Come prove to me that Zmaj, the All God, holds you worthy.”

A clanking of metal bled through the vaulted ceiling. Scar looked up. There were still people in there somewhere, but he wanted only to gut Zoltek, take his Dragon gem, and show Zmaj his blade. Capturing all of the Dragons’ souls was his quest, the single reason for his creation, and though Scar detested being ordered around, and by a Dragon, no less, he was still upset over the death of his lover, Ylithia. Such was his wrath, an insatiable thirst for blood.

Killing her attackers in Othnatus had not been enough. Cutting down King Gilgamesh, who commanded them, had not been sufficient, and slaying the Dragon, Kulshedra, had only whet his appetite for Dragon’s blood.

Zoltek,” Scar called; a constricted tone revealed his intolerance. “It was less than a year ago that you promised me answers. Remember? You hired me to fight for you, to kill Kulshedrans, and in return, you were going to tell me who I was. You were going to ask Zmaj…tell me, have you asked him? Has he told you?”

After having slain Kulshedra, the mercenary’s memories flooded his mind, and so as he sat upon the negus’s throne, taunting him, he knew all too well Zoltek feared the truth. The sound of bare feet coming down stone steps drew Scar from self-reflection. He looked to his right, where a set of stairs led up to private chambers. A thin figure wearing shiny, purple and gold robes descended. Zoltek held a metal staff in his left hand. Its top was a purple gem in the shape of a diamond. Zmaj’s gem, Scar thought. At the base of the stairs, his face shrouded in shadow, the Negus of Usaj glared at the Dragon Slayer.

I do not fear you, ghost,” Zoltek breathed. His voice was unearthly, something reminiscent of rustling leaves caught in the wind. “You are no one, nothing. Zmaj does not claim you. None of the Gods do.”

None of the Dragons do,” Scar corrected.

You are a fool.”

I owe you for your betrayal,” Scar said and came to his feet.

I did not betray you. You failed your mission. You killed my son.”

You lied to me,” Scar growled.

Never,” Zoltek breathed. “It is not my fault the Gods shun you.”

Dragons.”

Zoltek struck the ground with the bottom of his staff. It made a strange sound like that of a bell. Scar smiled.

Tell me, what manner of God speaks only to one man. What manner of God requires a gem for commune?” the Dragon Slayer demanded.

Why do you even argue? Did you not come here to fight?”

I need you to know just how foolish you are before you die.”

Zoltek snorted in derision, “You are the fool. You think you killed a Dragon, and now you come into my country, and lay my people to waste. Tell me, ghost, you think yourself a hero?”

No,” Scar heaved. “I think myself the Dragon Slayer.”

With that, he leapt across the room to strike at Zoltek. The Negus of Usaj stepped forwards and lunged with his staff. An arc of purple lightning exploded from the gem and sent the warrior reeling into corpses.

All that hatred,” Zoltek breathed. “You aim it in the wrong direction, yet I hold Cabazalus, and with it, I will destroy you.”

Scar quickly recovered and attempted a slightly different tactic. First, he snatched a spear from a dead guard. He chucked it then quickly leapt at Zoltek again. Before the spear connected, a web of purple electricity arced off the staff and disintegrated the weapon. By the time Scar closed the distance, the web expanded and remained a barrier between him and his opponent. Steel and magic clashed as muscles tensed.

Your Dragon magic won’t last,” Scar growled as he struck the barrier with his blade. “Gilgamesh thought Kulshedra would save him, too, but I made quick work of him.”

Then, Kulshedra is weak,” Zoltek howled in a booming voice that reverberated throughout the keep. “The God of Truth is nothing compared to my God, Zmaj! The All God will reduce you to ashes!”

The web of lightning curled inwards and then wrapped around the Dragon Slayer. It was a sparking sphere of pure energy that blistered his skin and busted the antlers off his helmet. Growling and thrashing, the brute continued to hack at the magic. Realizing that such an approach was useless, he tried to run, and although the energy was bound to his form, he was able to charge his opponent. When they collided, the lightning shot off in various directions. Chunks of stone were knocked from the palace’s walls. Both men were sent to the ground.

Scar came to his feet first. Zoltek was in a crouching position, his face still hidden by his cowl. The Dragon Slayer looked over his wounds and laughed as they healed.

Your people do nothing but kill, Zoltek. Your Dragon demands it and gives nothing in return.”

You call this nothing?” Zoltek howled and blasted Scar again with a bolt of energy.

The arc tore through the warrior’s shoulder. He yelled out in pain, but did not falter and charged again. Zoltek stood at the same time Scar’s blade came down. He parried the slash, but it sent the old Zmajan to the ground. His hood slid back, and Scar saw that his color streaked face had been ravaged by fire, or perhaps lightning. The negus pulled the cowl back down, and started to work himself to his feet by rolling over onto hands and knees, but Scar came up behind him and kicked him hard in the backside. The blow made the Zmajan kiss the floor.

Yes, I call it nothing,” Scar said. “You’ve spent your entire life in servitude. You bend to the wish of a Dragon, and not because you have to, and not because you want to help people, but because you wish only to kill everything around you!”

Zoltek scurried away and tried to stand once more, but the warrior swept his feet out, and the old man rolled onto his side. “Do you not see,” the negus heaved. “Do you not see that if everyone were united under the banner of one God, there would be no more fighting? Why is it wrong to pursue such a dream? Do the others not wish the same? Who made you judge?”

You wish to unite no one,” Scar spat. “That is why you keep slaves, pillage, raze, and attack. Had Gilgamesh and Donovan not kept you cornered, you would have done worse to other countries.”

So, where is your allegiance,” Zoltek barked.

From his back, he aimed Cabazalus at his opponent and blasted him with another bolt of lightning. It caught Scar’s sword, and the two marveled at the display. The energy swarmed about the blade like snakes. Little, violet sparks popped off and vanished, leaving thin trails of smoke. Zoltek focused his might and doubled the size of the bolt, but Scar spun and whipped his sword over his head, keeping the lightning from his skin. Once he completed a circle, he stabbed into Zoltek’s belly. The Zmajan cried out in pain, thrashed against the ground, and let go his staff. It rang like a bell again when it struck the hard floor. Wispy crackles of energy sizzled away into nothing.

Scar knelt next to the dying, old man and whispered, “You will not go to Pozoj, and be glad of it. The Dragon uses men’s souls to increase its power. They wish to walk Tiamhaal again and wreak havoc across the land. I have been sent here to stop them.”

How? Why?” Zoltek coughed.

Some questions do not have answers,” his tone betrayed grief.

The Dragon Slayer stood upright. He looked down at his foe, who was curling into a fetal position. No doubt, his grievous wound was painful. Scar showed mercy and lopped his head off rather than leaving him to suffer. He frowned and shook his head in dismay. At least, that will quench my thirst for vengeance. The rest was just business. He was going to kill the Dragons because if he didn’t, thousands were doomed; killing Kulshedra had been an act of providence, but killing Zmaj was an act of war.

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