Deven’s adventure continues as he travels to a new world. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Lord Nuzid grows furious at the loss of two of the Chromatic pearls.
To The Dragon Lands! Maybe!
The great Lord Nuzid, cloaked in gray cloth and darkness once more sat on his throne, tapping a claw against the arm of his chair impatiently. Standing down at the bottom of the stairs leading to the throne was a very sheepish looking shark holding a busted-up guitar.
“I put up with your ridiculous antics, I even enchanted your guitar to give you power over the ocean. You assured me, that you were up to the task. I was told, next time I saw you I’d be looking at what was it again… Ah yes, a real rock star who gets the job done? Where is my Chromatic Pearl?” Lord Nuzid growled with barely contained rage.
“Unfortunately, I was forced to cut my performance short, and so left without the pearl. Some seriously unhip cats decided to crash my jam, and completely threw off my groove.” The shark shrugged as if it wasn’t that big a deal.
“You had complete control of the ocean and you lost… To cats?” Lord Nuzid asked in disbelief.
“Sorry about that boss, but those scurvy dogs were tougher than they looked, and have no respect for the arts.” The shark shook his head sadly.
“Wait… Were you defeated by cats or dogs?” Lord Nuzid’s anger dropped, replaced my confusion.”
“Eh? What are you talking about?” The shark asked. “There weren’t any cats or dogs there. Just a bunch of otters. Oh, and that dragon with a faerie. Those two were the real pains.”
“You let the Chromatic Pearl fall into the hands of a dragon!?” Lord Nuzid screamed so loud that the entire chamber shook. “The powers they possess are beyond dangerous in the wrong hands! Which is why they belong in my hands! And… Wait…” The cloaked familiar remembered a detail from the last minion he debriefed. “You said the dragon traveled with a faerie?”
“Yeah. Very uncool dudes, look what they did to my poor baby.” The shark held up his guitar. “And double teaming me like that. Either one on their own would have dropped like my newest beat.”
“I have no idea what half the things you say even mean.” Lord Nuzid sat back in his chair. “But… I don’t think you understand just how much you screwed up. The last Chromatic Pearl was also lost to dragon accompanied by a faerie. Do you understand what this means?”
“That dragons keep strange company?” The shark asked.
“That it’s the same dragon!” Lord Nuzid shouted. “And now he has two of the Chromatic Pearls! I on the other hand only have one. Do you realize just how much of a disadvantage that puts me at?”
“Not really.” The shark shrugged dismissively. “I don’t get the big deal over a couple of pretty rocks, or why you want them so bad. I mean, you seem to already be the top dog in this world, your magic is unrivaled. You’re the one who sealed off the dragon lands.”
“If I wanted my boots licked I would wear a pair.” Lord Nuzid leaned forward. “The Chromatic Pearls possess power far beyond anything you can imagine. That’s why they belong to me. And you let one fall into the greedy little claws of a dragon. If that dragon acquires all of the Chromatic Pearls what do you think they’ll do? The seal on the Dragon Lands will be broken, and we’ll have an army of angry dragons on our doorstep! That’s assuming that the dragon you let run off with my prize hasn’t used their power to do us in yet.”
“But, you already got one of them Chromatic Pearls anyway, right boss?” The shark asked. “So, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Where do you think the dragon is going to go after they have collected the other pearls?” Lord Nuzid demanded. “He’ll head straight here to claim the last pearl. I can’t believe I let one escape, and that they’ve already figured out my plan.”
“But, if they come here can’t you just blast them? Bam, done. Just like that.” The shark grinned.
“It would be trivial… If they did not possess the rest of the Chromatic Pearls! Have you not wondered why I don’t retrieve them myself? They have the power to dampen dark magic. I can’t even scry on the location of one of the Chromatic Pearls. As long as the dragon holds at least one pearl my magic will be weaker against them, and if they have more of them!” Lord Nuzid stopped his tirade and sighed. “Just… Get out of my sight. I’ll come up with a fitting punishment for you later. Right now I need to think.”
“Whatever you say.” Despite the shark’s attempt to play it cool he was very clearly glad to be leaving the room, almost running as he made his way for the door.
“Why must I be surrounded by incompetent fools?” Lord Nuzid complained. “I find people with ambition and give them all the power they need to fulfill it. Then they can’t even do one job right.”
“Then perhaps it’s time to send out someone with some level of actual skill, instead of one of your empowered pawns.” A low female voice rang out, yet there was no one in sight.
“Ah, Zilthai, I see you’ve returned from your errand.” Lord Nuzid didn’t seem the least bit surprised by the sudden voice. “Tell me that you at least have brought me good news.”
“Of course.” A shadow moved across the floor and then stopped at the foot of the stairs. Then a figure seemed to simply step out of the darkness itself. It was a bat, with black fur. She wore only one garment, her wing arms would have made it difficult to wear more. It was a single cloak, also black, and possibly even darker colored than her fur. The only color coming from her were two glowing yellow eyes. “I have checked every possible entrance and portal to the Dragon Lands and confirmed for myself that they are sealed, and none of the seals are damaged. This interloper must have already been outside that world when you sealed it off.”
“So, I missed one. Strange.” Lord Nuzid leaned forward in his chair. “Dragons aren’t exactly small, and neither is their magical aura. If there was a dragon running free, I should have sensed it. And yet, still I don’t feel one of their terrifying auras.”
“It’s possible we’re dealing with a very skilled operative, one who knows how to mask their presence.” Zilthai suggested. “We can’t rule out the possibility that they left the Dragon Lands and hid in anticipation of your plan. It’s possible they were already looking for the Chromatic Pearls before you had even begun. I doubt it’s a coincidence that just as two of the pearls were found the dragon appeared and struck. They had a faerie with them, yes? They might be using them to mask their aura and locate the pearls. Then let your dim-witted minions do the work for them before jumping out and stealing your prize.”
“This is concerning.” Lord Nuzid stiffed on his throne.
“My lord, might I offer a suggestion?” Zilthai asked.
“Speak freely.” Lord Nuzid has noticeably more respect for Zilthai than her other minions. He had even bothered to learn her name.
“If this dragon is gathering the Chromatic Pearls to fight against you, then the simplest solution is to eliminate the dragon now before they can gain any further power. Dispatch me, and allow me to eliminate this threat for you.”
“You truly are the only one I can rely on.” Lord Nuzid considered. “I see but one problem. Where is the dragon right now? There are countless worlds, and if I can’t since their aura then it’s impossible for me to send you after them.”
“I don’t think that will be an issue.” Zilthai gave a wicked grin. “Your agents have already discovered which world hosts the next Chromatic Pearl.”
“I had not shared that information.” Lord Nuzid sounded accusatory. “Only me and the scout team know the next pearl has been uncovered. Have you been spying on me?”
“Of course.” Zilthai’s grin became manic. “As your sworn bodyguard and top assassin, it’s my job to keep an eye on everyone you employ. That way should any prove unfaithful they have an accident before they have the opportunity to betray you.”
“I see.” Lord Nuzid sounded slightly disturbed.
“This menace will no doubt come after this pearl as well.” Zilthai stood up. “Send me in place of one of those morons. Not to gather the pearl, but to eliminate this threat once and for all. Not that I can’t go ahead and retrieve the pearl after I’m done.”
“Very well. You have my permission.” Lord Nuzid waved a cloaked hand revealing nothing more than his claws. “You are the only one who seems to understand the severity of the situation. I trust you will not disappoint me.”
“Have I ever before?” Zilthai gave a bow. “I shall prepare traps that can take down the mightiest of dragons. And I’ll make sure to take care of the faerie too. Maybe I’ll even catch that one alive. If faerie magic can track the pearls they could prove useful.”
“Always thinking ahead.” Lord Nuzid’s grin could be felt from behind his hood. “Very well, it seems you already know your destination. Leave as soon as you are ready.”
“Of course my lord.” Zilthai turned to leave. “Before the day is over both the mighty beast and the magical sage will be dealt with.”
Deven sneezed, releasing a small amount of fire as the green dragon appeared in another world. It was dark in this world, at least right now, lit up only by a large yellow moon. Deven suspected it was one of those worlds where it was always night. He could see a village in the distance.
“Maybe you’re allergic to the Dragon Lands, and that’s why you can’t find it.” Calex snickered. Right now, he was a tiny naked orange haired faerie boy, younger than even his normal form. That was thanks to the dragon. Deven was also a toddler, but decided his sidekick had to be younger. And also a faerie instead of a cat. Not that Calex minded the form. And somehow, he had found a way to tie his hair back in a ponytail despite being smaller than most hair ties.
“Or maybe someone is just talking about me behind my back.” Deven muttered. “I know what I’m doing.”
“So, is this the Dragon Lands?” Calex asked sticking his tongue out.
“No.” Deven shook his head. “I told you, getting there is complicated. It requires a lot of jumps between different worlds.” The truth was, Deven himself was starting to become very concerned about the fact he hadn’t made it to the Dragon Lands yet. He should have arrived days ago. And yet somehow he kept arriving in the wrong world. He had never gotten lost on the trip before. What was wrong?
“Well anyway… There’s a super creepy town down there.” Calex flew over Deven then landed on the young dragon’s head. “Perhaps we should go check it out. Find out who needs saving this time.”
“Eh? Why do you think someone needs saving?” Deven asked.
“Because the last two times we arrived in a new world disaster immediately struck, and we had to save everyone and defeat a villain.” He crossed his arms. “I see no reason the pattern would stop.”
“I mean, maybe this will be a nice easy breather world, where nothing bad happens.” Deven suggested.
“The one that looks like a haunted ghost town?” Calex asked.
“They could be friendly ghosts.” Deven didn’t actually believe his own arguments at this point. He just wasn’t going to ‘lose’ to Calex.
“I hope not. That’d just be asking for us to get sued.” Calex muttered.
“Eh? What was that?” Deven asked as he swooped down from the air towards the town.
“Nothing.” Calex grinned cheekily, not that Deven could see since the faerie child was sitting on his head.
“Alright, let’s see what the locals are like.” Deven landed at the entrance of the town on all fours and looked around. Something about the town was unsettling. All the buildings were made of partially decayed wood, and each building was slanted in a different direction. The town looked ancient. And the town was completely empty, devoid of life of any kind. Not even plants.
“Okay… I’m not a fan of this place.” Calex flapped up into the air and looked around the town. “This feels… wrong.”
“Yeah, I mean it looks a little spooky.” Deven nodded, then grinned. “Is the little faerie a scaredy-cat? Afraid the town is full of ghost that are going to get you?”
“No, it’s not… I’m not talking about that it’s…” Calex tried to think of how to explain it. There was… something he could, not exactly feel, best he could try to put it was that it was like he had some kind of sixth sense he had just become aware of. Whatever it was, there was a wrongness that hung over the town like a putrid aura. He flew closer to one of the buildings, shining orange light onto the town as he did. Some of the doors were open. He slowly flapped into one, where inside his glowing aura was the only source of light at all.
But it was enough for him to see.
There were shadows moving along the wall. They were in the shapes of various animal people, and while they were only shadows, Calex could almost feel a sense of panic from them. He quickly flew outside and flew close to the wall of another building, letting his orange glow light it up. Once more, there were more shadows and Calex felt the same sense of panic.
“Um… Deven, you might want to come take a look at this.” Calex called the dragon over.
“What it’s just a wall.” But as Deven got closer and saw the shadows he froze. He looked behind him, looking for any shapes that might be casting the shadows. There were some trees, and other slanted buildings, but none of them were moving. And it was very unlikely any of the trees or buildings could cast shadows in the perfect shape of various animals. “What’s going on?” He paused. “This place might really be full of ghost.”
“Oh, there are no ghosts here, at least not yet.” Standing atop the very building and looking down at them was a female bat with black fur, a black cloak and glowing yellow eyes. Both Deven and Calex were sure she had not been there a moment ago. “But if that changes or not is up to you.”
“Want to explain what you mean instead of just being all vague and spooky?” Deven asked.
“Oh, I’ll explain everything. I just need a moment.” The bat leaped down from the roof landing behind the two children. “I’m just having a hard time processing what I’m seeing right now. The two of you are children. Or… Are you even old enough to be called that? Mere toddlers. I bet the faerie struggles to walk on two legs for very long.”
“Hey!” Deven, as someone who routinely made others younger, and himself, and was made younger by others, and liked it that way, he felt extremely offensive. “There’s nothing wrong with our ages.”
“You misunderstand, it’s not -YOU- that’s the problem.” She folded one wing around herself as she put a hand to her face. “Well, you are a problem, but what I mean… Is you’re telling me both of those bozos lost… To babies? I don’t understand how such incompetence is even possible. In some ways it’s a relief.” She walked in a half circle around the two. “I was worried we were dealing with a pair of highly skilled magic users, and that was how you hid your aura. But you’re just so small you don’t have one yet. No wonder Lord Nuzid wasn’t able to sense you.” She gave a haughty laugh. “I imagine it’s not going to end well for the two losers you sent packing when he finds out they lost to you.”
“I’m lost. Whose Lord Nuzid? And what are you going on about?” Calex asked.
“You don’t even know?” She gave another laugh. “You’re not some last-ditch desperate plan from the dragon race. You’re just some kids who wondered in.”
“Wait… What about the dragon race?” Deven was suddenly very concerned.
“It no longer concerns you.” She gave a bow. “For I am Zilthai, bodyguard and top assassin of the future ruler of all worlds Lord Nuzid, and it is my job to eliminate you.” She took a few steps away. “Exit the village and take the path to the top of a hill, there you will find a portal, it is an entrance to my realm where I will wait for you. Then, we shall fight.”
“Not that I’m not saying we can’t take you, but what reason do we have to go along with it?” Calex asked. “You’re obviously trying to draw us into an arena where you have the advantage.”
“Look around you.” Zilthai gestured. “Do you not wonder what happened to the people of this town. I have dragged them into the shadows. I needed something, they weren’t accommodating, so I became more forceful.” She reached into her cloak and pulled out a shining red sphere. “And with this boosting my power it was effortless to drag the entire village into the shadows. You’re good little boys aren’t you? Come find me, and after the battle I will release the village, regardless of if you win or lose. Refuse, and they stay stuck this way forever.”
“You’re a real jerk, you know that?” Deven asked.
“At times, cruelty is required to get the job done.” Zilthai replied. “My lord trusts me with important tasks because he knows that I will do what needs to be done. Now, you know the stakes. I’ll be waiting.” With that she stepped back and seemed to melt into the shadows.
“She had another one of those shiny things.” Calex muttered. “Did you see it?”
“She had a red one, we have purple and blue.” Deven wondered. “How many are there?”
“Not sure… But she said it boosted her power?” Calex waved a hand as the two Chromatic Pearls they owned appeared from his pocket dimension. “If she can boost her power with one… I might have an idea.”
“Does it involve walking right into the obvious trap?” Deven asked.
“Do we have a choice?” Calex gestured around. “We can’t leave the people like this.”
“I know…” Deven muttered. “Alright, let’s go.”
The two did as instructed, following the path out of town. Eventually, they reached the top of a hill, and there was a swirling gateway.
“So, she’s probably going to be on us the second we go in.” Deven muttered. “I hope your idea is a good one.”
“Yeah me too.” Calex nodded and the two entered the portal.
They found themselves on a large circular platform that appeared to be made of a semi-transparent violet material. It looked like glass but had a texture like stone. Other than that, there was nothing. The place was shrouded in darkness. The only light was Calex’s faerie aura.
“So, you came.” A pair of glowing yellow eyes appeared in the darkness. “It speaks wonders for your character, not so much for your intelligence.”
“Yeah keep talking big!” Deven huffed out a bit of flame. “We’ll give you a walloping just like we did the others.”
“Oh, sweet child you are at my mercy. For in the shadows none can face me.” The eyes vanished, and there was a sudden rush of wind as something quickly moved past the two of them. Suddenly, the eyes appeared again directly behind Deven. “And here it ends.”
“LIGHT COME FORTH!” Calex screamed. Suddenly, there was a bright flash of light that lit up the entire area, exposing the bat as all the shadows were erased. The light was centered on the violet Chromatic Orb which was floating directly above him.
“Gotcha!” Deven inhaled and shot a fireball, striking her.
“Arggggh!” Zilthai let out a grunt of pain and jumped backwards towards the edge of the arena. Now that the bright flash of light was over the light faded slightly. It was bright enough to light up most of the arena, but there was still a ring of shadows going around it. “You… You tapped into the power of the Chromatic Orb?”
“Heh heh, neat trick, right?” Calex giggled. “I don’t really know for sure how this works yet… But I figured you seem to be all about shadows… And I know how to stop those. Tried casting a light spell on the shiny thing, and we got that big explosion of light.”
“How did a toddler think up such a trick?” Zilthai demanded.
“There’s more to us than what you see.” Deven grinned.
“It matters not.” She stepped back into the ring of shadows and was soon only her yellow glowing eyes. “One trick will not save you.”
“We’ve got another of those… she called it a pearl?” Calex looked to Deven. “If you can corner her, I can blast her with another light spell.”
“Right.” Deven grinned and exhaled a cone of fire. It was only a temporary light, but was enough to tear away at the shadows close to where the eyes were.
The eyes vanished as Zilthai disappeared completely. There was a rush of wind around the battlefield. Deven kept turning in place trying to follow it, to see where she would come from. But he realized, he could see that that the shadows extended out further than the ring at one point, only by a little bit, but it was noticeable, and constantly moving. That had to be where she was! He could track her. Suddenly, that shadow dashed forward towards Deven, bringing darkness with it that blotted out the light from the violet pearl.
But Deven had been waiting, and exhaled a torrent of flames in her direction.
“Ugh!” The shadows faded exposing Zilthai. She pulled her cloak up trying to hide from the light of the flames, that seeming to bother her more than the actual fire.
“LIGHT!” Calex shouted as he cast his spell on the blue pearl. There was another bright flash of light and Zilthai let out a piercing scream of pain before retreating back into the ring of shadows.
“She didn’t like that.” Deven spoke smugly.
“Serves her right, treating us like helpless little kids.” Calex stuck his tongue out in the direction he assumed she was in. “Oh, and also cursing the village.
Once more, the larger shadow spun around the arena. But then it split into two. Deven looked frantically back and forth between them trying to figure out which one was the real one. Suddenly, both shadows lashed out to blot out the light, but the one coming from one side stopped about halfway. That meant…
“Haaaaa!” Deven managed to barely let out a flame in the direction of the still moving shadow right before Zilthai reached him exposing her. She tried to retreat again, but was not fast enough before Calex released another light spell, causing another scream of pain.
“Fine, you want to play rough.” Zilthai spoke after retreating when the light spell wore off again. “Then let darkness swallow all!” The red pearl was suddenly tossed out from the darkness, then floated in the air next to the violet one. The light from the violet pearl went out and the arena was completely dark again. “Now you’ll have no way to see me coming.”
“Uh… Calex, what now?” Deven asked.
“Just… Find some way to figure out where she is. Light seems to harm her physically, so I can hit her with the light spell again if you can just expose her location.”
“Easier said than done.” Deven muttered. He looked around, and then noticed a pair of yellow eyes, right before there was a rush of wind. He didn’t have time to attack, he barely managed to roll to the side as something razor sharp cut past where he had been standing. He watched the arena again frantically. Once more, the eyes appeared, and something came rushing forward, something he barely dodged. But now he knew her tell.
Deven inhaled deeply, and the second he saw a pair of yellow eyes shot a fireball in that direction, once more stunning Zilthai as she collapsed to her knees trying to block the light with her cloak.
“And LIGHT!” Calex shouted as he flew over to where she was with the blue pearl and cast his spell again. The bright light flooded the arena and Zilthai let out one more scream and fell over. The red pearl fell out of the air and landed on the ground, and slowly all the darkness melted away as they were standing back on the hilltop.
“I’ll be adding this to my hoard.” Deven placed a paw on top of the red pearl while Calex tossed the violet and blue ones back into his pocket dimension.
“I… Can’t believe it…” Zilthai muttered. “Defeated by mere children.” She shook her head. “No, you’re not normal kids. I underestimated you and I paid the price. But next time I will hold nothing back.” She slowly stood up and backed away.
“Hey!” Deven shouted. “You’re not going anywhere. You have to restore the town!”
“I always honor my word.” Zilthai replied in an almost noble tone. “But, they have already been released. They were the second you claimed the pearl.” With that she took a step backwards and disappeared. Deven and Calex tensed up, wondering if another attack was coming. But it seemed she had left.
“So… These things are Chromatic Pearls, and apparently some guy named Lord Nuzid wants them.” Calex looked thoughtful. “Name ring any bells?”
“Never heard of them.” Deven shook his head. “But… I think he did something to all the other dragons.”
“So… We need to pay him a visit and find out what.” Calex grinned. “Granted we have no idea where he is… But, if they’re after these pearl thingies, I bet if we collect enough of them, we can make them reveal themselves.”
“Yeah.” Deven grinned. “And I find him I’m gonna teach him that you never mess with a dragon.” He was certain now this Lord Nuzid was the reason he couldn’t get to the Dragon Lands. It was good to have an explanation. But it also meant something had seriously gone wrong. For now, all he could do was explore other worlds and gather the Chromatic Pearls this Lord Nuzid was after.
But first, the dragon and faerie headed back to the village to make sure everyone was alright. Zilthai was true to her word. Everyone in the village had been restored, though they were in a confused state, unable to remember what had happened since before they had been dragged into the shadows. Considering the state they had been in, maybe it was for the best. Neither Deven or Calex thought it wise to tell them what happened. Instead, they quietly left town once they were sure everything was fine, then took flight as they began their journey to the next world.