Brothers of Fire by Rebecca Johnson
A slight haze surrounded the singed field. Heat still emanated from the scorched ground making it difficult for Xander to navigate through the remains of the countless bodies, both enemies and allies, strewn across the charred wasteland. After the raging battle had finally come to an end, his mission was now clear; he had to find Tremin. Alive or dead: he hoped desperately it wasn’t the latter, but either way he had to know.
Carefully stepping over bloodied claws and broken shields, Xander searched for Tremin’s tell tale colours. Midnight blue, a wisp of green and the magnificent hue of purple that decorated the scales on his back. He had to find him. He was sure that if he had died in the battle, then he would have felt the loss, his end. Yet all he had felt was a pain, a pain that wasn’t his own: Tremin’s.
Blood trickled down his arm splattering lightly to the burnt ground creating a deep crimson on the earth. Xander payed no attention to his injuries or his slowing pace, or the shadow that had emerged just 15 feet behind him. He carried on determined to discover Tremin.
Xander and Tremin had fought countless battles together, man and dragon, an undefeatable duo. Their reputation had spread for thousands of miles. They were warriors, friends and brothers. They had always fought side by side and have never allowed the enemy to separate them before, that was until today.
Feeling a shift in the air around him, Xander dipped his left shoulder to waist level and gripped his sword as he swung around to fight off the attack. It was them. The Damned. The spurge that had tried to overpower his land: the land of Hirtage. Despite the new rush of blood dripping down his arm and down his sword from the movement, Xander’s sword hit the soldier of The Damned true; his sword pierced his enemy’s heart. Withdrawing his sword, Xander simply turned and continued surveying the horizon and his surrounds.
Reaching the brow of a hill, he focused on the fresh damage to a group of trees in a distant forest. “Tremin” he whispered praying that the wind would carry is call across to the forest. He waited and knelt down touching the ground with both hands. “Please Tremin answer me!” he continued to whisper waiting for a sign from his brother: his dragon. A slight shift caused the fine charcoal on the ground to bounce lightly. To anyone else it would have just meant a light breeze was passing by, but for Xander it meant Tremin was answering his call with a rumble into the land.
With renewed energy, Xander ran towards the trees ignoring his bloodied arm and limp. He would find him. It would all be okay.
On the edge of the forest Xander stopped abruptly; he had a felt another rumble, but this time it was a warning. Tremin was still in danger. He prayed to the Goddess hoping for lightness and speed; he just had to reach Tremin in time.
Silently, with an earth warrior’s grace, Xander edged around the group of soldiers surround Tremin. He was trapped. Tremin’s glorious purple scales were soaked with blood and marred by deep gashes. Trying to ignore the building rage at seeing Tremin so badly injured, Xander inhaled deeply and gently blew out his breath in Tremin’s direction. Immediately, he saw Tremin twitch his nose as he caught Xander’s scent; his eyes blinked in acknowledgement, a new shine in their depths.
Taking position, Xander counted the eight soldiers grouped together laughing at their handiwork, and foolishly thinking that the selection of leather straps would be enough to contain Tremin. They had strapped Tremin’s dangerous mouth and chained it to two large oak trees knowing that if Tremin had access to his fire that all would be lost. Xander waited for Tremin’s signal balancing on the balls of his feet ready for action.
Tremin grunted and shifted his large tale and tried to rear up off the floor. The chains kept him taut to the ground although it had the desired reaction from the soldiers. They immediately raced to the straps, bent over and began to secure and adjust; exactly what Tremin and Xander had anticipated. Stupidity!
Racing towards the four guards to the right of Tremin, all with their back to him, Xander deftly raised his sword and sliced at the four soldiers taking them down within seconds. Xander immediately hacked at Tremin’s bindings releasing him before heading to the straps to release his mouth. The four soldiers jumped from the other side of Tremin and surrounded Xander, not realising that Tremin’s left claw was free. Tremin’s razer sharp claws swiped into two of the soldiers, whilst the remaining two ducked for cover and then ran.
Finally releasing Tremin’s mouth, Tremin let out an almighty roar; a burst of flames immediately followed in the direction of the two soldiers. Piercing screams echoed through the forest, Tremin’s fire hitting his targets. Tremin gave a satisfied growl, before he limped over to Xander and carefully stretched out his beautiful wings and checked for injuries.
Xander reached his hand to Tremin’s shoulder and sent healing energy through their bond. “Never again Tremin. Never again.” He shook his head caught up with emotion and relief for his brother. “Next time, next battle, we always stay together. Always.”
Small trails of smoke drifted out of Tremin’s nostrils in agreement. Lifting his leg as a step and invitation for Xander, Xander smiled and pulled himself up onto Tremin’s back. “We fly to the heart of Hirtage Tremin. We may have won this battle, but the war is far from over.”
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