Secrets for Surviving in Fairyland:
Everyone has a weakness. If you know that weakness, that person is in the palm of your hand. You can manipulate them however you wish. Even if they are five thousand times more powerful than you and hate your guts.
Things were getting very exciting around the castle. It looked like the battle of the universe. There were soldiers and guards and people everywhere, fighting, shouting, and causing a riot in general.
I needed to find a dragon. At the moment, he was not in sight. I put my fingers in my mouth and whistled as loud as I could.
A split second later Jake came barreling around from the other side of the castle, and landed with a “Cha-thump” next to me.
“Ready to go hunting?” he asked with a big dragon-grin.
“Oh, yeah,” I said, and jumped up onto his back. I was getting pretty good at that.
We had set Jake up with a complicated series of straps that held my giant dragon-sword onto him. Usually, horses carried those, but in absence of a horse, Jake had offered to do the job. So, as Jake took off, I drew the huge sword. We were ready.
Arlin’s forces were severely outnumbered. He had set up a bunch of cool war-type stuff, and he obviously knew the castle grounds better than Valkav’s soldiers did, but that didn’t change the fact that they were outnumbered. And numbers help.
Then again, so do dragons. For one thing, everyone is scared of dragons, so they get frozen and petrified when a dragon comes around. Which really makes it easier to fight them. For another, dragons are big enough to barrel around and knock a lot of people down. And they can fly, which gets them around in a hurry. There is also the part where they breathe fire.
Between Jake’s smoking some people and knocking others down, and my humongous sword splitting people in half whenever they came close to us, we did pretty well for ourselves. Arlin’s men were doing fine, too. In fact, the battle started to look fantastic, and like we might win in no time flat.
Someone, however, forgot there was still a sorcerer in this thing. Several of Arlin’s men nearby crumpled for no reason and writhed in agony on the ground. I heard an explosion on the other side of the castle, but before we could investigate a large chunk of the wall collapsed and almost landed on Jake.
Bananas. That was probably the sorcerer, causing trouble. Jake verified that thought rather late-ish-ly. “The sorcerer! He’s not going to let us get out of this without a fight!”
“Thanks, Jake, I couldn’t figure that out!” I yelled back, as another explosion went off right near his tail and sent us spinning at an awful rate. “Where is he?”
“Inside the castle. In a big, round room.”
Props for being extra descriptive, buddy. “What kind of big, round room? I’ve got to find him, good buddy.”
“In the top of a tower.”
“Which tower? Is he by himself?”
“The short wide one.”
Now we were getting somewhere. “People?’
“A couple guards. No big deal.”
Easy for a massive dragon to say. The room that Jake was referring to, as far as I could tell from his perfectly awful descriptions, was known as the star room, for reasons unknown to me. It was impossible to see the stars from that room.
It was in the very top of what was sort of a lame excuse for a tower. It was very large, and round, as stated earlier by my good buddy. There were pillars all around the edges, and tables and charts. It was a place where the king often went to think and relax. Other people didn’t get in there too often, but I had poked my head in once or twice.
Now, the reason it was impossible to see the stars was not because there were not enough windows. There were windows, huge windows, all around the room. They were just stained glass, and therefore, you could not see the stars, or anything else, through them for the life of you. So there you have it. Unless Jake’s description was even worse than expected, the sorcerer was there, wreaking havoc with our plan.
There was only one thing for it. Oh dear. “I have to face him, Jake!”
He was silent for a moment, flying around the castle. Yeah, like he was going to convince me his super-dragon-senses failed to pick up my last comment. He could see through walls, for gosh sake, he could hear me yelling at him! “Talk to me, how close can you get me?”
“Close. I can come in with you.”
“No, you need to stay here. Get these soldiers defeated. Arlin needs you.”
“We need you, too.”
“Yeah, you need me to kill the sorcerer. Face it; I’m mostly just eye candy way up here. You’re doing the real work. I’ve got to do this.”
There was a long pause, then he said, “Ok. I’ll get you in.”
Jake circled the castle a couple of times. “Hold on tight!” he yelled. He suddenly dropped his wings and crashed through a wooden section of roofing close to the tower.
Good thing he gave me such a fantastic warning. I barely had time to duck and cover. But no awful damage was done to my overall state of being, so it was all right.
I jumped off Jake’s back into the disaster he had created. You know, dragons are very useful creatures. I just might have to try and get him to stick around after this was over. If it ever ended. “Thanks,” I called up to him.
“Just signal if you need me,” he replied.
“Yeah, cause I’m so great at signaling,” I said scoffingly.
“Just call me,” he said, and lifted off in a big swoosh of wings and feet and almost knocked me over with his tail.
“Watch where you swing that thing!” I yelled, and took off running toward the ‘big, round, room.’
The first thing I saw in that wonderful place was a big sword. Fortunately, mine was bigger. I brought the dragon-one that Jake had been carrying around for me. Man, I love that thing. The little soldier man never even stood a chance. He was down in approximately an eighth of a second. There was another one then. For a minute or two, I was quite well occupied fighting them off. Then they were gone and I was face to face with Lord Valkav himself.
He stared at me, and he looked a little less than totally pleased. His eyes burned straight through me .I wasn’t exactly all howdy-doody about seeing him either. “Hello,” I said grimly.
“You again,” he spit out. “Haven’t I got rid of you yet?”
I shrugged. “You know me, I’m like one of those annoying clingy people that just won’t ever go away.”
“I’ll make you go away,” he said, with a scary smile. “This time, you won’t be coming back.” He raised his hand toward me.
The last time he did such a thing, I ended up writhing on the ground. Time for some quick thinking. “What, you’re just going to fry me? Have I really scared you so badly?”
Good, it was working. His hand stopped moving.
“A big, powerful sorcerer like you, and you are afraid to fight a mere mortal fairly?” I threw my sword onto the ground. If this didn’t work, well, I was dead anyway. “Fine. Just use your magic killing hand. Fry me to a crisp. Should have known you were too much of a coward to fight me yourself.”
Valkav’s hand fell. He looked like he really hated me. Fair enough. I hated him, too. “You want to fight me, do you?”
Not really, but my chances were better than against his magic hand. I just grinned at him.
He grinned back. “Fine!” he yelled.
Now, how exactly I thought sorcerers fought, or what they considered fighting fair, I have no idea. But I certainly didn’t expect what happened.
Without any warning, he started to get very large and change shape. Okay, this was manageable. Depending on what he changed into, that is. I suppose you couldn’t really expect him to pick up a sword or something and fight like regular people do. He is a sorcerer, for gosh sakes.
I watched him grow and morph and such until there, standing before me, was a dragon.
Come on now, really. A dragon? I actually laughed as the giant black thing stood in front of me, snorting smoke. “You’re brilliant. Don’t you know? The only title I truly can claim is that of dragon-slayer? Wouldn’t it be smarter to turn into something I haven’t defeated around nine of?”
Apparently, he didn’t think much of that little speech. He lunged at me.
So guess what I did? Ran between his legs. Things really were getting repetitive. That, however, left my sword on the other side of him, so I had to repeat the trick. “Come on!” I yelled at him after snatching my sword off the ground. “Can’t you see I know what I’m doing here? Change into something a little more interesting!” Stupid me, had to open my mouth and change things when I actually had an advantage.
Ask, and so it shall be given to you. The sorcerer changed again. Into a hydra. That was somewhat better. They have ten heads, so you can’t just dodge one of them and run between their legs like how it works with dragons. Also, you can’t cut those heads off. They grow back two for every one you chop. Now, I didn’t count how many this one had. It didn’t exactly give me time for that between its maniacal laughing with half its heads and attacking me with the other half.
If you can get past a hydra’s heads, their body is kind of anticlimactic. So, very carefully, so as not to accidentally remove any body parts, I stabbed and poked the heads away, and eventually got close enough to the thing’s body to stab its legs.
It howled, in a very non-hydra like fashion, and changed again.
Since I stabbed him in the leg, this time it turned into something leg-less. Or, it had legs, it just didn’t use them. It was a giant, flying, phoenix thing that was on fire, and shooting fire, and it was the most deadly foe yet. It also wouldn’t get close enough to stab.
Fortunately there were pillars all around the edges of the room. You know how I love pillars. The space between the pillars and the outer edge of the wall was too small for him to fit between, so he couldn’t get at me very well, and I managed to avoid him splendidly.
That didn’t stop him for long. He changed. Again. Now his body got longer and longer, his legs disappeared, and the fire went out. This one I had never seen before. He turned into what ultimately ended up being a giant snake.
The snake fit between the pillars just fine, thank you. Around, and around the room I ducked and dodged, taking a random whack at him with my sword from time to time, mostly just because I didn’t have anywhere to set the thing at the moment. His gigantic mouth was very close on my heels, snapping and biting. At one point, I actually managed to dodge just in time, and he bit a pillar.
Probably about a minute and a half after he started chasing me in circles all around the room and between the pillars, I had his whole snake body tied up in a giant tangle and was on the other side of the room, watching him struggle helplessly to get untied. I felt pretty proud of myself.
He had one last trick to throw at me. They always do. Couldn’t he just be content that I’d beat him? One last time the morphing began.
This creature was something I can hardly even begin to describe. It was huge, almost too big to fit into the room, for one thing. It had a giant ugly head, with horns coming out of it, and there were blue flames coming from its nostrils. Huge wings sprouted from its back, but it stood on two legs and massive arms came out of its shoulders. It was the most completely terrifying creature I ever laid eyes on.
Right then, my certainty in defeating him wavered and crumbled. This thing was way more than I was prepared to deal with right then. He lunged forward and a huge fist thrust into me, sending me flying across the room. “You have failed!” he roared, as he leaped across the room.
I barely managed to crawl forward and lunge out of the way as his fist slammed toward me again.
Somehow, I got around him so I wasn’t cornered anymore and began to work my way across the room. Something in my left arm had snapped when he threw me against the wall, and it was throbbing and aching awfully. Rather distracting. His hand flew down again, and he lifted me up and squeezed until every single ounce of strength was gone from my body, then he dropped me on the ground.
I lay in the middle of the room and he stood over me with his back to one of the giant stained glass windows, laughing. As he laughed, he changed back into his normal, human-ish looking body.
“You see,” he said, still laughing. “You could never defeat me. You are nothing, just a boy. You will never amount to anything.”
The pain in my arm and the rest of my body was intense.
“You know what this reminds me of? That friend of yours. The gnome. Remember him? This is sort of what he looked like the last time I saw him, after his pitiful attempt to save you. He failed, just like you did. I destroyed him, and now I will destroy you. You know what I’ll do next? I will take that princess, and I will destroy her, too, along with everyone else in your pathetic little kingdom. To think, DiShaun, you wanted to be a hero. You, and your princess, are going to die.”
He smiled and lifted his hand.
My blood boiled and my heart raced. He could threaten me all he wanted, but he could not talk about Blythe, my kingdom, or my princess that way. Something inside me turned very hard, and it didn’t matter that I hardly had the strength to keep breathing. My hand found my sword lying somewhere nearby, and as the sorcerer lunged toward me I yelled like bloody murder, and thrust the sword upward and into his heart.
There was a long silent moment. Valkav stumbled backward, gasping and blinking. At that exact instant, the huge glass window behind him shattered, and Jake burst into the room. His huge head went down toward the sorcerer, and Valkav disappeared.