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STORIES...

In between working on songs, I sometimes write short stories...

Chronicles of LaraJane

 

LaraJane could hear the roar of the dragon’s ignited breath, her left arm quivering with strain against her rapidly heating shield as the force of the dragon’s great fire exploded against it and spilled out all around her. The shield was beginning to glow from the heat of the living furnace, as it stood as the only thing between her and a fiery and painful death. Her teeth were clenched so tight she could snap a dagger between them with the pressure. Black soot and grime smudged her face as sweat streamed down her cheeks and forehead, leaving little hint of the beauty hidden beneath. Her platted raven hair covered in dirt hung over her left breast all the way down to her thigh as she kneeled holding the shield upright with its lower tip sunk into the earth. Her broadsword was tucked behind her shield, closed so tightly in her right hand that she could not feel her fingers. Her armor was heating up and she began to scream in effort and anger at the beast who meant to scorch her to cinders. 

 

She lodged her left knee into the back of her shield with her right leg fully extended out behind her, her foot dug into the ground from the force streaming out at her and pushing her backward. 

 

Her eyes were tightly shut, but she spared a glance to her right, and she could see him. Vertanian had fallen. She tried to tell if he was moving, but the world was shimmering through the dragon’s flames surrounding her. Her whole body was now shaking with the strain of holding back the flaming wave of heat. 

 

But then the flames stopped suddenly at the sound of a massive meaty snap. She knew the sound well, and the lack of flames confirmed it. The dragon had closed its mouth. She moved without a seconds hesitation, diving to her right, rolling and springing to her feet, running as fast as twenty five pounds of armor, blade and shield would allow. She was headed for her friend. If life still beat in him she meant to keep it so. 

 

The bastard wizard had already fled, Vertanian having sunk an arrow in his side, but of course he left his stinking pet, Pain, to kill them both. Timeisch Ange was among the oldest wizards, and by far the most despicable. He alone had killed more people than the last floods in the Sian plains. He corrupted Kings and enslaved people without thought or care. He weaved spells that crippled children and made pawns of women. His lust for power was insatiable and ever growing. 

 

LaraJane was running full speed toward Vertanian, but not just because she needed to get to him. A few feet away from his prone body lay a few of his lances strewn on the ground. And even though she had insisted that all she would ever need was her sword, he had taught her how to use them.  And he had taught her well. He also taught her that when a dragon used its full breath in a battle, it would need at least a minute to let loose its flames again. Pain was stomping his way in her direction, clawing at the ground and growling, but she had maybe forty seconds to spare before he could try roasting her again. 

 

She dropped her sword and shield as she got closer to the lances. Without her shield she was dead if her quickly devised plan didn’t work, but she needed to set her feet and get proper balance to take her shot. She took a quick glance at the advancing creature, a hulking mass of tough skin and scales over tons of bone and muscle. But dragons are slow on the ground, slow and fairly clumsy. And as tough as their hide was, a well thrown lance was better suited to drawing blood than any sword. 

 

She honed in on the lance closet to her, and dove head first toward it the instant she was in range. She hit the ground at the same time her fingers wrapped around the cold steel of the lance. She rolled head first and came out feet pounding to the ground. She turned to the beast bearing down on her, set her stance and her grip on the lance. Twenty seconds at least she thought. She pulled back the lance behind her, keeping her eyes on the creature, which was drooling and growling as it closed the distance between them. Another couple seconds to line up her shot. She could hear Vertanian’s words, ‘if the bastards moving, aim for where it’ll be, not where it is.’ She breathed in deeply, ignoring the thunder of Pain’s feet pummeling the ground beneath him as he clawed his way to her. 

 

She could see the creature’s neck begin to undulate and quiver and she knew her time was up. He was preparing to burn her where she stood. But she did not estimate wrong, she had enough time to let her lance fly. Every ounce of strength in her arm and momentum from her body shot the lance forward toward a now roaring Pain. The creature saw the lance at the last second and pulled up sharply, skidding in the dirt. But he was too late and too heavy, and LaraJane’s throw too good. The lance hit the beast squarely in its shoulder, and it sunk in deep. 

 

The dragon’s roar turned from anger to pain as the steel hit deep enough to seriously wound it. LaraJane recoiled at the chilling sound that now erupted from the dragon. It flayed about wildly, trying to claw the lance from its body. But Vertanian’s lances were smooth sleek weapons, designed to fly straight and be hell to pull out once they had hit their mark. Pain was not going to be able to remove that lance without help. His master’s help. 

 

Pain turned shakily away from LaraJane, his screaming roar still deafening. He stumbled once before he gained his footing, preparing to take flight. LaraJane could potentially have launched another lance before Pain took to the air, but it would not have felled him, and she was already to her friend, pulling him over onto his back. Behind her she could hear the dragon’s huge wings spread like sails in the wind and begin to flap as he made his escape. 

 

LaraJane looked at Vertanian’s still body and fear welled up inside her. ‘What if she was too late?’ She thought, panic in her heart. ‘What if he was gone?’

 

“Do you live?” She said to him. “Do you live?!” She said louder as she shook him violently on the ground. “Gods damn you! Do you live?!” She screamed in a voice she did know she had. Something was crushing her chest and she felt like her body would explode. Anger and terror were crashing over her in a way she had never felt before. Tears began to stream from eyes alien to their salty touch. 

 

“I live..”  came a raspy whisper, followed by the sputtering and coughing of someone trying not to swallow blood.

 

A tear-filled LaraJane grabbed Vertanian by his armor and roughly pulled him up. “V...” she said in a breathless exhale, which was all she could muster as relief washed over despair.

 

“Lara, I live.” Vertanian said slightly louder, opening his eyes gingerly. “But take it easy," cough cough, "I’m pretty banged up.”

 

“You tough old bastard!” She said, her face lit up now with a smile he didn’t believe he’d ever seen before. “I knew you couldn’t die. You’re too damn stubborn for that.”

 

“I keep telling you I’m tougher than I look,” he said with a smirk. 

 

“No, you keep telling me you’re younger than you look, because you always look like month old bread.” She responded, laughing a little as she put her hands on his scraggly and bloodied face. “You’re lucky you didn’t leave me here alone you damned fool. I would really have had to kill you if you did.”

 

“Well you couldn’t kill me if I was already dead now could you?” He said to her, smiling now himself. 

 

“No. No I guess couldn’t.” She conceded as she tried to wipe blood off his face, to little effect. There was just too much of it. 

 

He coughed up a bit of blood and spat it out. “Not sure my guts came out so good, But I’m breathing still.”

 

“Aye. You still breathe.” She said, smiling broadly.

 

“And what of that scaly bastard?” He asked. 

 

“Pain lives,” she said shaking her head. “But he carries a lance in his shoulder!” She said proudly.

 

“Hooo! You stuck the little shit did you?” 

 

“The lance flew straight and true. Might even have hit bone.” She responded. “He flitted off like a wounded bird.”

 

“Ha! I told you that damned sword of yours was no good for dragons. And look at you now. Leaving sweet steel in Pain’s scaly hide.” He said laughing, definite pride in his eyes. “Seems I owe you my life again LaraJane.”

 

“No,” she said looking down at his battered chest armor, caressing the dents and tears along its surface. “You saved My life you daft man. You saved Me.” She added, looking into his eyes with a strange expression Vertanian could not quite place.

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