Part of of Deven and Calex’s journey to the Dragon Lands
To The Dragon Lands, Maybe
“You failed!?” Lord Nuzid sat in the shadows, all but a single claw of his body hidden by darkness and a cloak. As he shouted, said claw dug into his stone throne with enough force to leave a deep gash. “You assured me that you could handle it! And now they have three of the Chromatic Pearls!”
“I make no excuse for my failure.” A black furred bat wearing a black cloak kneeled on the ground. “When I saw the enemy were children, I failed to assess the threat properly. My failure is a direct result of my own pride.”
“Children!?” Lord Nuzid screamed louder. “The dragon that has ruining my plans and stealing my pearls is a mere child!?”
“Yes.” Zilthai, the bat, nodded. “I dismissed them as non-threats I could easily take care of. But… They’re far more capable. And now I’ve returned to report my failure and accept whatever punishment you deem appropriate.”
“Hmmmmmm.” Lord Nuzid tapped his claw against the throne for awhile as he thought. “Zilthai, I’ve taken a personal liking to you. It’s because of you we have the pearls we’ve acquired. Just as you suspected it would be easy to claim two more pearls from other worlds while you were dealing with our would be heroes. As a result, I am willing to show leniency and see can prove that you can make up for your mistake.”
“It is more than I deserve my lord.” Zilthai bowed her head lower before standing up.
“These children now have the red, violet and blue pearls. Meanwhile, with my original indigo pearl, and we now also have the orange and green pearls. The only one unaccounted for is the yellow pearl.” Lord Nuzid learned forward. “So… At this time, in collecting the pearls we’re tied for them. I have already divined the location of the final pearl. With that knowledge, what would you do to obtain the last pearl and steal back the remaining Chromatic Orbs?”
“I see…” Zilthai put a hand to her chin as she considered. “The dragon has a faerie friend who stores their pearls in some kind of pocket dimension. Stealing them won’t work, we’ll have to force them to open the portal to that dimension, or kill them so the magic maintaining it collapses. At this point, a direct confrontation is unavoidable, and thus is the only possible way to achieve our goals. But we can choose when and where that confrontation happens. Draw them into a trap in which they have no chance of victory or escape.”
“Sounds like you have a plan.” Lord Nuzid calmed down.
“Yes… But, I will need the pearls we just acquired… As well as, I hope you haven’t beaten up your other minions too badly.” Zilthai turned and flung her cape so that it lingers caught in the air for a few seconds. “For this to work, we’re going need everything we’ve got. But, when we win you’ll have everything you’ll always wanted.
Deven soared through the air as the scenery around him melted away. As they traversed the boundary between worlds the only one seemed to be sucked away before the new one would appear before them. The green dragon was largely riding the wind currents at this point, needing very little effort to stay airborne. Meanwhile, the young orange haired faerie child was asleep curled up against the back of his neck.
The images before Deven were coming to in a way that Deven could understand. They were in a new world.
“Calex! Wake up! You’re gonna miss the entire adventure!” Deven shouted.
“Huh? Ugh…” Calex groaned, sat up and yawned. He blinked to get the sleep out of his eyes before flying into the air to stay next to Deven.
“Guess it makes sense, you are just a baby faerie. You need your naps.” Deven stuck his tongue out.
“I’m fine!” Calex huffed. “It just took a lot longer to get to a new world this time and I got bored and fell asleep.”
“Looks like you’re cranky, maybe you need to sleep a little more.” Deven continued to tease.
“I will zap you.” Calex growled, showing off his fang that was a hint to his true nature. “I dunno what’ll happen to you when I do it. But I’ll still do it.”
“So immature.” Deven rolled his eyes. “But… Take a look at what’s coming ahead.”
Most worlds were large vast places. Even if they only visited a small section of a world it could be assumed that most of them were somewhere around the same size as Earth. Or at least a lot bigger than a single town. This one not so much. The entire world was a singular stadium that hung above an infinite void. As to what kind of stadium, it was hard to say. There were no signs of any sports that would be played there. Instead, the center of the stadium was just a massive slab of stone with a white circle around it. The stands were empty of people, and the only other feature was a tower on the far end of the stadium emitting a bright yellow light like a lighthouse.
“Don’t see any people in need of rescue here.” Deven spoke up. “Maybe that means we’ve finally stopped arriving everywhere just in time for a giant disaster.”
“Oh yes, I’m sure nothing horrible will happen in the spooky stadium that is clearly a death arena hovering above a void of evil darkness… Actually, hang on a second.” Calex dove and flew below the arena instead of landing on it.
“Uhhh Calex?” Deven landed inside the white circle atop the arena. He wasn’t sure what his faerie friend was currently doing. “Calex?” He tried louder when there was still no respond. “CALEX!?” He got ready to fly again, wondering what danger awaited beneath the stadium.
“Oh my gosh will you relax.” Calex flew over the edge of the arena and landed on Deven’s head. “I just wanted to try something. And what do you know, it worked.”
“… What did you do?” Deven asked with an accusing tone.
“Nothing!” Calex insisted. “I just went to take a look at things.”
“Calex, I wasn’t born yesterday.” Deven stated flatly.
“You sure?” Calex rubbed the back of his head. “You’ve been turned back into an egg and hatched so many times I can’t actually rule that out.”
“What did you do?” Deven asked more insistently.
“I told you I was just looking.” Calex whined. “I didn’t do anything to stir up trouble. I just wanted a look at the giant void underneath the place.”
“Why?” Deven asked, more confused than concerned now.
“Because, they say if you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares back.” Calex grinned “Turns out it does. And at that point it became a staring contest. I mean, once someone challenges me to one of those, I can’t turn them down. I’ve won contests with cockatrices and gorgons before. Stare that can turn people to stone. More like stone teared crybabies. Is it weird that gorgons cry small rocks when they lose a staring contest? Anyway… The abyss was pretty determined. But no one out stares a werekitten.”
“You’re a faerie.” Deven retorted.
“You can change a werekitten’s form, but once a werekitten always a werekitten.” Calex replied proudly. “Anyway, the abyss blinked. I don’t think it likes bright sparkling things like faeries. So, I won. And then I came back.”
“The abyss blinked….” Deven didn’t sound like he believed a word Calex said.
“Yup! Honestly, with how much people talk about it, I thought the thing would last longer.” Calex shrugged.
“What world are you from?” Deven just gave the small faerie a look.
“You know, there’s like a long list of people who would probably love to know the answer to that question. And… I come from my home!” Calex threw his hands up in the air.
“Oh that’s useful.” Deven rolled his eyes.
“So anyway, we going to try to take the yellow pearl and have something try to murder us or what?” Calex asked. “Cause, I noticed it was here.”
“The yellow… Wait…” Deven looked up at the tower. It wasn’t any kind of beacon or lighthouse. Stored at the top of the tower was a yellow pearl just like the ones they had already collected. Well, they had found their fourth chromatic pearl a lot faster.”
“It’s a pattern. We show up in a new world, a crisis occurs, turns out it’s related to these pearls.” Calex sighed heavily. “So, I’m sure the second we either try to go take the pearl or attempt to leave, some kind of crisis will happen, and we’ll have to resolve it. I’d say it was fate… But this feels more like the machinations of an evil supervillain that we somehow keep stumbling into and foiling just in time.”
“That crazy bat lady… What was her name… Zilthai!” Deven looked thoughtful. “She worked for someone named Nuzid or something? Need to go burn his face off. So, if you’re right let’s just cause whatever emergency is going to happen, resolve it, get the pearl and leave so I can go set the guy on fire.”
“Well, if you’re that determined to meet your doom, far be it from me to deny you.” A familiar voice shouted. Then, a fox dropped from the sky landing on the other side of the arena. “But don’t worry, I’m happy to get my vengeance and take away those little pearls you’ve collected.”
“Uh… Who are you?” Deven tilted his head.
“What!? Who am I?” The fox asked. “You don’t remember? We had a big dramatic battle! You broke all my plum jars! There was lots of fire!”
“I think I remember something like that…” Calex squinted. “Did you have more tails? Or… Are you sure you were a fox?”
“How can you not remember me!?” The fox shouted. “I was your first rival! And my name is known throughout all the worlds.”
“Uhhhh.” The faerie and dragon exchanged a look with each other.
“You don’t even know my name!?” The fox screamed. “Look you may be children but there’s a limit to how much that excuses you from being rude! You can at least learn a supervillain’s name when they’re attempting to destroy you!”
“What the fox said has a point!” There was riff on an electric guitar. And then a shark landed on the same side of the arena clutching the guitar. “I also have a bone to pick with you. “Don’t think I’ve forgotten about our little tango! Don’t think you’re gonna get lucky twice!”
“Oh… It’s you… Um…” Deven faltered.
“Oh come on! How can you not know my name!?” The shark shouted. “We had an epic rock ballad duel!”
“You’d have to learn to play before you could do a rock ballad.” Calex muttered. “Also, why a shark? Wouldn’t a whale make more sense?”
“What? I’m not a whale! I’m a shark!” The shark stammered.
“Yeah but you know, whales have the whole whale song thing.” Calex held up his hands as he thought. “There’s not really any association with sharks and music.”
“Are you saying sharks don’t rock!?” The shark shouted. “I’ll have you know everyone knows sharks know how to shred!”
“Is that a thing?” Calex gave Deven a confused look.
“I don’t think so… But maybe we should pretend to avoid hurting his feelings?” Deven suggested.
“Hey! I can hear you! Whose feelings do you think you’re sparing! That’s it! We’re ending this right here and now! You ready for this! Um… uh…” The shark stammered. “Fox?”
“No way. Seriously?” The fox threw his arms up. “YOU DON’T KNOW MY NAME!? We’ve worked together for like five years now!”
“But we’re always like dispatched to different places!” The shark insisted. “It’s not like we ever really had time to talk to get to know each other.”
“Still, it’s a basic common courtesy to know the name of your coworkers! I can’t believe this!” The fox stomped his foot.
“So you know everyone’s name in the company then?” The shark asked. “You really took the time to do that?”
“Of course I did because I wasn’t raised at the bottom of the ocean where apparently there are no manners!” The fox huffed. “That’s how I know your name is uh! Um…. Ripely?”
“You don’t know my name.” The shark stated flatly. “And you’re yelling at me the same thing you did! So, you don’t know my name and you’re a liar! That means you have twice the bad manners as I do! Why did they send me on this stupid mission with you!”
“It’s not like I want to be here with you either!” The fox crossed his arms and turned. “I prefer partners who have a bit more class than someone who just plays random chords on a guitar.”
“Oh yes because obsessing over pickled plums is such a cultural experience!” The shark retaliated. “At least I’m contributing to the arts!”
“Every time you play, society values art just a little less.” The fox barked back.
“Uhhhhhhh.” Calex looked back and forth at them. “Should… We do something?”
“At this rate I feel like they’re about to try to kill each other.” Deven shrugged. “We could let them.”
“That feels… Really lazy.” Calex complained. “We’re clearly in a deathmatch arena I wanted to punch some bad guys!”
“Fine, fine.” Deven flicked his tail. “Besides based on how previous things have gone, we’re not going to get that yellow pearl until they’re dealt with anyway.”
Despite the dragon and the faerie being ready to fight, the shark and the fox were still screaming at each other. The argument had devolved into a cacophony of noise where it was impossible to tell what either side was saying as each tried to be louder than the other resulting in not a single comprehensible word.
“Hey!” Calex shouted across to them. “So… Are we going to fight sometime today? Or should we just take the pearl and leave you two?”
“Calex, don’t antagonize them. They’re annoying enough just being here. You really want to hear them shouting attack names?” Deven asked.
“Oh relax. We took away their pearls so it’s not like they have any good attacks. This will be the fastest way to get them to shut up.” He waved a hand dismissively.
“Oi! You saying we’re a couple of pushovers?” The shark suddenly produced a green glowing pearl.
“We’ll teach you a little respect!” The fox produced an orange one.
“Ok, in all fairness I assumed the big bad guy behind these two was smart enough not to give put them in charge of any of the Chromatic Pearls again.” Calex shrugged.
“I’ll drown you at the bottom of the ocean for those words!” The shark held the pearl with one hand as he strummed the guitar that hung from his neck with the other. A massive torrent of water erupted from the pearl, building into a wave that headed towards the dragon and faerie.
“And I’ll turn you into grilled plums!” The fox shouted holding up his pearl as it produced a giant wall of flames.
The wave of water and flames collided into each other, there was a sissling sound, and both vanished as steam floated upward into the air.
“Wait your powers cancel each other out?” Deven tilted his head. “Then why the heck would you fight us at the same time!? You’re literally worst off than when you fought us by yourselves!”
“Also… What the heck is up with your attack phrases?” Calex asked. “Did you just not write any new ones since we last fought. In case you haven’t noticed, we are nowhere new an ocean or and the plums thing didn’t even make sense!”
“Hey I think they’re making fun of us!” The shark shouted.
“Of course, they’re making fun of us!” The fox replied. “How could we possibly be respected with a dimwit like you around.”
“Hey you take that back!” The shark screamed.
“Honestly… You want to just… Go get ice cream or something?” Calex turned to Deven. “I feel like if we just ignore them they’ll wind up taking each other out.”
“I dunno, feels a bit irresponsible.” He looked around. “On the other hand, this arena is completely empty so it’s not like there’s anyone they can hurt…”Deven gave one last glance to make sure that aside from him and Calex the only other living beings around were the two stooges. “Yeah, let’s go get something to eat. If they don’t knock each other out maybe they’ll at least be done fighting by the time we get back.”
“HEY! You can’t just ignore us!” The fox shouted.
“That’s so rude!” The shark gave his own cry. “That’s the last straw!”
“Time you two kids were taught some manners!” The fox added as he and the shark jumped to opposite sides of the arena. Suddenly, torrents of water and fame were released from different directions.
“Finally, I thought this fight would never start.” Calex flew deftly to the side so that neither the fire nor the water touched him.
“Oh right, you’re not fireproof!” Deven stuck his tongue out, but quickly dove away from the wall of fire. Under normal conditions he was fireproof, but even he knew magical fire didn’t constitute normal conditions. “Guess you better be more on your toes to dodge than me.”
“You shout as you do run for your life and dodge too.” Calex sighed. “So… How we going to take the out… If I recall, last time the fox wasn’t very vulnerable to your fire, but ramming him hurt him pretty good. The shark couldn’t be rammed, but he burns up easily.”
“So just gotta repeat what we did last time. Simple as that.” Deven smirked. “Won’t even take a… WHOA!” He flapped his wings to get into the air as a torrent of water went right under him.
“As much as I hate to admit it, the two might actually be more of a threat like this. There’s no place to take cover to avoid attacks here, and neither one is stuck in one place while they attack. Think, we need to hit them at the same time. I’ll take the fox, since we need your fire for the shark.”
“You’re gonna hit him? Seriously?” Deven laughed. “You’re like… two years old and an inch and a half tall!”
“Yes and?” Calex asked with a dangerous glint to his eye.
“Okay, fine… So we just gotta get a clear shot in.” Deven looked between the two. “Hey, you thinking what I’m thinking?”
“That when their attacks collide they cancel each other out and just create a ton of steam?” Calex asked.
“Heh… But is the steam gonna be too hot for your little body?” Deven asked.
“Please. I’ve dealt with way worse… let’s just get this over with already.” Calex gave an exasperated sigh.
Deven ran in one direction as Calex ran in the other. The shark and fox seemed to be smart enough to know who their attacks would be more effective on. They both ran alongside the outside ring of the arena, the fox attacking Calex with fire and the shark attacking Deven with water.
“Ha! We got this in the bag! All they can do is run!” The fox shouted gleefully.
“Maybe you’re not as dumb as you look after all the shark nodded.
“Hey! Oh when this is over I’ll show you!” The fox grumbled.
“And there they go again.” Deven sighed. “We’re not as annoying when we fight as those two right?”
“Pretty sure no one is.” Calex replied as he quickly flew past him. “You ready?”
“On three.” Deven nodded as he dodged another blast of water.
“One.” Calex counted.
“Two.” Deven added.
“THREE!” They both shouted together. At that moment Deven ran through the very center of the arena while Calex blew directly over his head. A giant wave of fire and water crashed into each other in the exact center creating a massive cloud of steam that took up the entire thing.
“Hey! I can’t see!” The fox screamed. “Did we get them?”
“Pretty sure.” The shark was squinting his eyes trying to see. “I mean they couldn’t do anything to attack so it was only a matter of…”
“SURPRISE!” Deven popped out directly in front of the shark, embers sparking from his mouth.
“GAH!” The shark dropped his pearl in surprise and took a step back. “Please don’t set me on fire.”
“Nope.” Deven exhaled, releasing his own flames on the shark who shouted in pain and was launched into the air.
“What happened?” The fox cried. “Did you find one and…” He stopped as there was a tap on his shoulder.
“Hi!” Calex was floating next to him. “Hey! Did you know I just realized I could use faerie magic to power up my already abnormally high physical abilities?”
“I really don’t like the sound of that…” The fox whimpered.
“FAERIE! PAAAAAAAAAAAAWNCH!” Calex’s hand glowed with orange energy before he punched the fox in the side of the head. With a crying yelp the fox went flying into the arena and his pearl dropped to the ground.
As the steam cleared, both shark and fox lay atop each other in the arena’s center both down for the count. Their defeat seemed to trigger something. The arena rumbled and suddenly the light in the tower disappeared. A staircase slowly rose from the arena towards the tower as a door pushed itself outward and swung open. The yellow pearl was now sitting on the ground at the top of the stairs. It seemed this arena was prepared to award it to anyone who fought a battle here and won.
“Huh… Three pearls in a single afternoon?” Calex flew by each of the new pearls, throwing out magic to quickly throw them into his pocket dimension. “That brings us up to six total… That… Bugs me.”
“We have more, isn’t that better?” Deven asked.
“Yes but…” Calex looked at their two vanquished enemies. “Why give pearls to two minions who had already failed once, and who obviously couldn’t work together. By sending them here after the yellow pearl they risked three pearls, including two they already owned just to fight us and we dropped them easily… Something about this isn’t right.”
“They’re called Chromatic Pearls, right? So, there’s probably like one for every color in the rainbow? How many does that make…” Deven tried to think. Some people drew rainbows with different total number of colors. Should pink count here?
“Roy G. Biv.” Calex spoke up.
“Huh?” Deven looked up. He recognized the name but it took him a moment to place it.”
“It’s how they reach you to remember all the colors in spectrum. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. If that’s the pattern following, there’s only one pearl left.” Calex considered. “Of course that’s assuming we’re just following the actual spectrum of colors, and not including things like black and white, or pink which doesn’t actually exist.”
“How can pink not exist we see that color all the time?” Deven asked.
“But not on the light spectrum. It’s weird. Brains are weird.” Calex crossed his arms. “I’m telling you, I got a really bad feeling about this. I feel like we’re being set up for something.”
“Then let them try.” Deven boasted. “If whoever is behind all this has some kind of trap planned for us, good! Means we might finally get a chance to meet them in person and I can give them a piece of my mind!” His nostrils flared up with fire. “We’ve been wandering around with no explanation for awhile now. I hope they’re planning to trap us so we can break out and get some answers.”
“We could just interrogate the two we knocked out.” Calex pointed at them.
“Calex, do you really think those idiots have any useful information?” Deven asked.
“Point taken.” Calex shrugged. “Well, I guess if they did set a trap, it’d be rude not to spring it. Let’s head to the next world and see what happens.”
With that, the two flew upward into the sky. The arena began to melt away as that world dissolved. And things grew darker as a fare more sinister world began to slowly form ahead of them.
To Be Continued