Author's Note: Hello everyone!
So welcome to book 2 of my "Heart" series, this is a direct sequel to "Heart of Fire" and for those of you who have not read that story, then I would recommend that you read it, if only so that this story makes more sense. If you do then I hope you enjoy it, I've been told it's good.
But for those who are returning readers, can I say a huge thank you already for coming back for another round, and I hope that you find this story as agreeable as the first. Obviously this story will not be working around the Hobbit narrative, more like I'm taking it in a different direction, so I hope that's okay and it will at least make sense :P And a warning now: the rating maybe "T" now, but I swear to you that it WILL be going up to "M" in later chapters for more... adult themes shall we say? And just as before, I'm not a huge Tolkien fan, so therefore most of the information I have is coming from the movies or the internet. So if I do make a mistake, could you please be forgiving and point it out? Thank you.
A quick note that myself and Mussymay14 are trying to create a devianart group for this series so that people can do their art if they wish! All are welcome! :D and also, check out the trailer and playlist for the previous story (links on my home page).
I'm rambling now, I'll shut up and let you begin the second story!
I hope you enjoy and please review!
Heart Of Ashes
Chapter 1 – Resurrection
"Advice: If you happen upon the skull of a dragon, leave that place quickly. For whatever killed it, may still be around. " - Thieves Proverb
When Lakes burn and Kingdoms lay desolate, when dragons fall and blood stains the ground, when alliances crumble as armies gather in the north, as a Lonely Mountain lays far behind on the horizon and the moon's shine fails to pierce the blackness of night, a figure with darkness in his soul attempts to bring back the light.
In the East Bight, outside of the borders of the dark forest of Mirkwood, a figure sat hunched over a body. He was tall and rather skinny, his thin body giving him a sense of fragility as his thin shoulders seemed to be little more than skin covering the bone. The Bight was sheltered from the elements, even if the night was unusually calm for mid-winter, but still the figure seemed nervous as he glanced around as if to make sure no one was watching him. The plains around him were devoid of life however, neither a field mouse nor deer in the long grass that helped to hide him from view. The only thing that bothered him was the flickering lights of a rather large merchant caravan some ways off.
The figure almost hissed in frustration, if he wasn't so desperate in his task, he would have preferred to have gone somewhere more secluded, somewhere where he could do his work in peace until he was ready to make his move. As it was, he had walked for three days and three night straight, with the body of the woman in his arms, and he never tired and never rested. He had been forced to walk for so long because he wanted to put distance between himself and Esgaroth that now lay far behind him to the north. He would have acted sooner, but the activity with the five armies gathering in order to do battle at the Lonely Mountain, he had been forced further south. He knew he should have kept going until he found somewhere that he would be undisturbed, but his impatience had gotten the better of him. He wanted the release he had been craving for so long, and he wanted it now. It seemed as if suddenly, there was no time to waste.
All of his problems, the very hinges of his plan, his very salvation, lay in the cold, dead hands of the woman laying before him. She had fiery ruby red hair that cascaded out around her head in curls, her skin pale white, her body slim, her molten gold coloured eyes stared blankly up at the sky, glazed over with no spark of life in them at all. But the figure would soon change that.
He prepared himself by looking deep within his own soul for the well of power that lay hidden and untapped inside. What he planned to do would require a lot of power, and could potentially leave him vulnerable, only for a chance at success. But the rewards should he succeed, would be unquestionable! So bringing out one hand to pull off his leather glove, he held the hand out, palm facing towards the sky as he brought a knife from his belt and rested it against his flesh.
"May the True Dark Lord grant me power, this night…" he murmured reverently, as if in prayer, before slicing open his palm, feeling the bite of the steel against his flesh though he felt no pain, before tilting his hand as he clenched it into a fist, and carefully allowed black, oozing blood to gather in his hand.
With precision, he allowed one drop of blood to fall upon the woman's chest, right above her heart, and he murmured words under his breath, words that had not been uttered in an age, in a language that seemed as old as the earth beneath him. He felt his power gather inside of him, swirling as he slowly brought it out to the surface, allowing it to mingle into his blood that gathered in a small pool in his hand. Moving his hand, he allowed a second drop to fall in the centre of the woman's forehead, again chanting, his throat dropping several octaves as he rolled his head back, hips rocking in time to his chant as the power coursed through his veins, seeming to almost consume him as he was taken over by the force that channelled through his body. Moving his hand once more, the figure had one moment of clarity, the world seeming to slow down as the final drop left his palm and fell through the air towards the body. In that one moment, the figure's head snapped back to attention as everything dawned on him for that one moment alone: he knew all things, the magic coursing through him bringing to light all things that had been, were, and what would be. And he spoke a single word, summoned a single name, commanded a single entity to his will.
"Tharŷliel. Kathryn. Come."
The last drop fell upon the pale lips of the woman, seeping in and disappearing down her throat.
The body shot into life, a thunderclap ringing even though there was no storm, ice playing across the blades of grass around the pair, as the corpse took in a great and ragged breath, throat croaking and dry as the chest heaved and lifted off of the ground. The spine of the woman arched as her mouth opened as if to swallow air into her starved lungs, fingers like claws as they dug into the earth and clenched around it. The spark of life came back to those golden eyes, and for a moment, life had been arisen.
The figure almost slumped in relief, exhaustion filling him, his bones threatening to turn to dust from the strain of magic. But he still grinned wickedly with satisfaction as he realised that victory was almost within his grasp! Now all that had to be done was that he needed to bind the soul to his own: being hauled back from the ether, the soul itself was still fragile and not bonded with the body, and he only had a short time in order –
Suddenly, Kathryn let out a scream that seemed to split the night in two, her voice so loud and shrill in its intensity that the man had to cover his ears and cringe away from the sound that threatened to burst his eardrums. She wailed, the sound like something not of this world, like a banshee calling out across a field of dead, the sound grated down the spines of all creatures, causing the hair on their hackles to rise, an instinct inside all who heard it to run and hide and pray against the force that could create such a sound. Kathryn screamed and screamed, thrashing around wildly, her legs shooting out and kicking the ground, her head lashing to either side, spittle flying from her mouth, arms clawing at the air, spine arching and snapping into different directions as she flailed about. The figure before her was at a loss for words, utter astonishment appearing in his face, for he could never have guessed that he would acquire this reaction.
But realising that the screams would draw unwanted attention, the man quickly straddled the woman, sitting himself across her stomach in an attempt to restrain her as she was obviously going mad. Had she somehow been damaged by the pull back into the world of the living? Gazing into her frenzied eyes, the figure saw to his frustration, that her eyes were still like molten gold, not the purple that he desired. That meant that she had no magic in her. Was that what was happening? Without her magic was she incomplete, resulting in this madness? It was doubtful, but unfortunately his only option. So the figure quickly gathered his magic and placed his insect like fingers on either side of the woman's head, fingers digging into her skull, whispering words that echoed about him as he placed a sleeping spell on her. Kathryn stilled, her eyes closing, and her body going limp once more. Yet even in sleep she twitched and fidgeted as if in fitful dreams. But the figure knew that –
Suddenly, he felt himself being hauled into the air, and cried out in surprise and fury as he landed hard and rolled across the ground, rising back to his feet, growling like a vicious, rabid animal. He was then confronted by the sight of perhaps a dozen men standing in front of him, some holding torches up, the flames casting demonic shadows across the ritual space, others held different range of weapons in their hands, looking ready to kill as they turned from the woman lying seemingly unconscious and the man who they had just found above her. It was obvious that they had been drawn in by her screams, and the figure knew the conclusion they had obviously come to.
The figure resented each of the men, knowing that he could not hope to take them on in his current state. If he were at full strength, then he would have happily torn them all apart, but as it was, he could feel the hunger deep within him, calling him to feed, as well as the fact that he was physically weak from using such powerful magic. No, this battle would have to wait until another day. So, the figure merely glared at his assailants, and stepped out of the ring of light, and slipped into the darkness, his physical form melting away and disappearing entirely.
The men of the caravan looked about, unsettled by the sight they had just been witness to, not to mention the fact that they were still spooked by the unearthly screams that they had heard. Looking down at the woman now, they saw her fitfully unconscious, her skin unhealthily pale, sweat drenching her forehead. It didn't take them long to make a decision.
"Bring my horse!" the leader barked, turning away from his companions as he stooped to carefully examine the female upon the ground, seeing her beauty but also the sickness that was plain on her face, before he hoisted her into his arms. He turned to see one of the younger lads bringing up his horse, and he quickly draped the woman over the saddle before climbing on himself, and righting the woman so that she leaned against his chest. He clicked and whistled to his steed, and they were off, the others quickly mounting back onto their own horses, before turning and following their leader as he carried the unknown woman back towards their caravan and into the night.
Andraya sat by the camp fire, her head tilted up towards the sky, eyes closed as she felt the soft wind play against her cheek, threatening to rustle her raven dark hair. The moisture of the air made a putrid stagnant smell that accompanied the soft earth beneath her feet, the marshland that she and her daughter had set up camp in being the only place that they could find that was away from prying eyes and far enough so as not to be threatened by the events happening in the north. The night was unsettled, Andraya could feel it as the magical core within herself felt the universe around her shift and pull as if it were restless.
She had felt the disruption in the magical forces around her, like a ripple upon a pond; she felt the after effects like a shockwave through the very air itself.
She could ask for no better sign.
"Are you sure about this mother?" Freyja asked, causing Andraya to open her eyes and stare at the fourteen year old girl with her golden hair and icy blue eyes that matched her mother's. The two females regarded each other, both weary from their long journey here and now camping in these swamps as they waited.
"We have waited long enough." Andraya muttered as she turned to the naked body of a man lying on the ground before her. His length of body would have made him seven feet tall from foot to head, his muscles well defined and toned. It was obvious that he had the strength of a warrior as the power in him seemed to radiate from his body, even in his weakened state as he lay there completely unconscious, eyes closed, a soft breathing in his chest showing that he lived, and Andraya noticed a nasty looking scar upon his left pectoral, almost right above his heart. The man's face had a strong jaw and high, prominent cheek bones, and he would be considered handsome, if not for the cruel lines around his mouth as if from sneering, like he had spent his whole life looking down on people not worthy of him. He had black hair that was rather short but untamed, with the front long enough to fall into his face and cast his eyes into shadows. Kneeling beside him, Andraya took a deep and calming breath, allowing the modest pool of magic inside of her to swirl and swell at her command. This wasn't a resurrection spell, for her patient was alive, but his soul was… elsewhere, so she needed to summon it back. Yet even that would be outside of her capabilities. Only the magic of wizards or the old power of Raw Magic could accomplish such a thing.
But there were other ways… Andraya knew that one of the most ancient forms of magic… was dealing. Taking one thing but giving something else in return. In order to keep the balance of life, to keep order in the universe, a debt must be paid. So that is what she would offer in order to appease the deep magic that she hoped to invoke.
Holding out her hand, Andraya allowed the magic to swirl around her, offering to it her bargain, sensing it taste the deal like a living thing, swirling around it before seizing it and coiling around it as it took what she gave. Andraya sucked in a ragged breath, her core suddenly feeling robbed and empty, a pain so intense that she was tempted to place a hand against her stomach, though restrained herself from breaking the spell. With a knife, Andraya quickly cut three gashes into her palm, and allowed a single drop to flow from each. The first, fell upon the man's chest, right above his heart, the blood lingering upon his scar and quickly turning the pale flesh of it black. Andraya felt the power of the earth itself gathering around her, like a maelstrom that almost had her drunk with temptation to reach out and grasp such strength. The second drop fell in the centre of the man's forehead, and the witch felt the whirlwind of magic become stronger, like starving wolves baying at the scent of the blood in the air. And as the final drop fell, Andraya spoke three words in order to seal her deal and complete her wish.
"Urulóki. Smaug. Come."
The last drop fell upon the man's thin cut lips, his mouth instinctively parting in order to allow the liquid entrance into him, the tongue twitching to life as it tasted the blood that he eagerly swallowed.
And then, the chest moved, as the man took in a deep breath, filling his lungs to their full capacity as if he could suck the essence of the world into himself. And then he fell still once again as he released the same breath on a silky sigh.
Andraya leaned over the body of the man, her eyes wide and sparkling with wonder as she beheld the rewards for all her efforts, her breath freezing in her throat as she quivered with anticipation. Even her daughter, who sat across and watched the pair, oblivious to the magical storm that had just occurred, was entranced as her eyes locked onto the man, waiting for a response. They both knew who they wanted to come when those eyes opened, they both knew and Andraya practically gave a wolfish grin with excitement.
"Smaug," she whispered.
The eyes of the man snapped open, revealing orbs of orange and gold, like fire with small pupils that instantly looked at all of the world around him in one glance. And it was no longer the gaze of a man, but the gaze of a Dragon.