The Two Dragons: Chapter 6 Excerpt

“Say there Senta,” said Vever catching up to the other two.  “Is it magic that you’re not exhausted like I am?”

“Yes, it’s magic,” replied Staff.  “It’s the magic of youth.  She has twice the energy that either of us has and half as much idea what to do with it.”

“It’s a shame,” said Vever, though he didn’t complete the proverb.  “That youth is wasted on the young.”

“Would you like me to carry your pack for a while, Mr. Vever?” asked Senta.

“I would never allow a young lady…”

She patted Vever, who was a foot shorter than she was, twice on the top of his head and then grabbed the pack by one of the loops on the back and lifted it off his shoulders.  Pointing downward and swirling around her index finger, she said “Uuthanum Izesic.”  She tossed the backpack into the air just above where she had pointed, and it plopped onto an invisible surface, three feet above the ground.  Senta smiled and continued on, following Croffut who was none the wiser.  The backpack and whatever transparent thing supported it, followed five feet behind her.

Staff and Vever stopped walking and wondered at the hovering object.  As they stood thus amazed, Paxton Brown rushed past them.  Catching up with the invisible transport, he flung his own pack on top of Vever’s.  Now both haversacks followed along in the air behind the girl.

“Do you think I could..?” asked Buttermore, puffing up beside them.

Staff turned to see that the entire column, besides Senta, Croffut, and Brown were bunched up around him.  He shrugged.  They hurried to catch up to the sorceress and one by one began placing their backpacks on what Staff began to think of as the invisible wagon.  By trial, they eventually determined that it was a disk about three feet in diameter.  They were only able to get seven packs to stay on it, and then only by balancing them one on the other in a three story pyramid.  In the end, they were so distracted by the game that they scarcely noticed the miles that had passed, and even Brown’s complaining had ceased.

An angry screech brought their attention back to their surroundings.  Hopping down the sloping landscape from their right was a pack of frightening beasts.  Staff didn’t quite know whether most of the animals in Mallon belonged in the dinosaur family or the bird family, and these did little to unmuddy the question.  They were fifteen to twenty feet long, slightly larger than the utahraptors seen near Port Dechantagne.  From their shoulders back, they were covered with brilliant crimson feathers with a dash of black on the tufts of their tails.  Their heads were feathered in black.  They had large lizard-like mouths filled with knife-like teeth.  Eight of the creatures ran, in little fits and starts, toward the line of humans.

The stock of Staff’s rifle was at his shoulder before he realized he had slipped it over his arm.  He aimed at the first creature’s head and fired.  The thirty caliber bullet exploded out the back of its skull.  The spent cartridge clanged onto a large rock at his feet and he targeted a second charging animal.  But the first one didn’t fall down.  It kept running, going right past him and continuing down the slope for several hundred more feet, its legs no longer directed by its brain, but continuing to kick anyway.  His second target he shot twice, once in the neck and once in the chest.  He heard a couple of shots fired by the others, but by this time the entire pack was upon them.

Staff didn’t let the sounds of battle distract him.  He fired quickly at a third and fourth beast.  He heard Vever’s voice shouting over the others and he heard Brown screaming.  The crack of rifle fire was suddenly overpowered by an even louder crack as a tremendous bolt of lightning shot horizontally across the hillside.  Staff fired one more time, but the crimson-plumed monster in his sights was already dead—killed by the lightning.  Looking around he saw it was the last one.

“Surgeon!” yelled Werthimer, out of habit, as he jumped toward the prone form of Mr. Brown.

Staff picked his way through the large feathered bodies to where the man lay.  A quick examination revealed however that he was unharmed.  He had apparently fainted from sheer terror.  The only one injured was Manring, who had dived out of the way of the vicious claws, but not quite quickly enough, and had sustained a horrible gash across his forearm.  Staff quickly drew a healing draught from his pack and poured half of the contents of the small brown bottle onto the cut and had Manring drink the remaining potion.  Within seconds the bleeding had stopped and the injury had already begun to heal.

“Thank heavens for magic,” said Mr. Vever.

“Yes,” agreed Staff, then turning to look at Senta.  “I assume that was your magical lightning?”

The girl nodded.

“These are beautiful,” said Femke Kane, holding up a long black tail feather.  “Perhaps we should take some to present to the lizzies in Tsahloose.”

“Alright,” replied Staff.  “We earned them I suppose.”

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