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Colors: A Prelude to Death-


An ear piercing screech echoed throughout the top of a large range of mountains.  A loud sound, like that of a slow, yet harsh, flap, followed close suit.  The slow, steady gush of wind continued a steady pace above the very peaks of the clouds and mountains.  One more gush of wind filled the air, then silence.  The clouds not far in the air remained still…for a second.  In a flash, they were tore apart, as a large creature went into a nose-dive at an angle to the mountain.  Its skin was that of bluish-green scales, an extensive wingspan that was pressed against its back, a long, slinking tail following close behind it, and two hind-legs which appeared not to have been used very much, as they barely seemed as if they were good enough to support it's body.  Its eyes were that of a cloudy red, and jaw gaping open with rows of large teeth.  It had a brief second to see its prey, standing on a small ledge gazing up at it with fear.  It let out another screech, as its mouth closed down on the rocky slopes.  Luckily, it missed.

Jesse slammed Sarah hard against the mountain wall to avoid the oncoming creature, so hard that he had to make sure he didn't hurt her.  Lucky she let out a scream of terror as the extensive tail slithered past them, catching a corner of the ledge sending large chunks of rock upwards.  Immediately they broke away from the wall, as they chased Drake and the others on the winding path leading upwards to the mountain's top.  By the time they caught up, the creature had already flown higher, and circled around in front of them.

 "On the wall!" Drake yelled as he grabbed Jack and Tay and threw them on the wall, covering them.  The creature barely missed them again, its large mouth loudly snapping inches from their backsides.  Jack and Tay pushed themselves, and Drake from the wall, and stared at the creature as its wings flapped several times as it slowly turned back to face them.

 "What the hell is a dragon doing here?!" Jack yelled angrily.

 "It isn't a dragon dumbass, it's a drake!  It's a species similar to the dragon except it's smaller and…!"

A fireball flared it Jack's hand, "It begins with a d, so it's a dragon in my book!" He flung the ball at the drake, in hoping of hitting it.  As the drake turned around it retracted its right wing, causing it the slowly plummet for a little bit, as the fireball flew directly over its underside.  Its wing extended again, as it caught itself and prepared for another pass.

 "DAMN!" Jack yelled.

Drake wasn't surprised.  He watched its movements, and found an opportunity.  It lost its balance to avoid that attack, there was an opening.  Drake's eyes narrowed as he sprinted towards the edge of the mountain.

 "DRAKE!  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" He heard Tay's voice scream from behind him.  Sarah also screamed out his name, as the drake flew by, taking one snap at them as if it was a warning.  Drake then launched himself from the edge of the cliff, and got caught between where the wing and body met.  Although slightly winded, he knew he had to hang on for dear life.  He slowly opened his eyes against the pounding wind and saw the drake was looking him right in the eye.  His brow furrowed, and the drake screamed.  It then curved slightly up in its path, then straight down, straight straight down.

Drake, either of them, could keep their eyes open as the wind rushed past them in a fury.  Drake's fingernails dug deep into the drake's hide, as the last remaining clouds parted and the extensive forest down below flew up at them.  At the last moment, the drake pulled up in its path, avoiding certain death for it.  As it flapped its huge wings in an attempt to gain altitude, it looked over to its right, and saw that the human parasite was no longer clinging to it.  It screeched again, as it traveled above the first part of the clouds, in search of the rest of its prey.  With its neck as stiff as it is, it never noticed Drake impossibly climbing its underbelly to the other side.  As it straightened out, Drake caught his opportunity as he grabbed the corner of its left wing, and flipped himself up onto its backside.  As knee and hand clung for dear life, he slowly rose to his feet, careful not to lose his balance.  As he steadied himself between two folds of scales ideally for foot holders against the raging wind, he spread his arms wide as his mana began to flare.  But before anything happened, he realized he was too close to the mountain side to try anything.  He slipped a foot out and slammed it hard on the back of the drake.  Although not causing tremendous pain, it caught its attention as it twirled its head back, and stared Drake right in the eye.  It let out another screech as it retracted its wings and began to spin in the air, Drake returning to the fetal position.

The drake however didn't realize where it was, as it spun in the air its body clipped the side of the mountain with tremendous force, not far from the others.  Once again, Sarah yelled out Drake's name again as the drake, reeling in pain, straightened itself out and began whelping in pain.

Drake, on the other hand, held the urge to purge his guts out on the back of this beast, and instead rose to his feet.  He spread his arms wide again as his mana flared outwards.  Thunder rolled across the sky, as it darkened.  With what little clouds remained shining, broke apart as a thick, smoldering chunk of what appeared to be black soot, fell from the sky.  The thing is, it didn't fly into the drake, the drake flew into it.  As the spell impacted the back of the drake's neck, it exploded in a quick burst of flame, tearing a gaping hole in its neck.  It tried to let out a screech, but all that came was a low, whining sound.  But it wasn't about to give up, it painfully turned around, aiming straight for the mountainside, hoping to crush this human and the others along the rocky slopes.

Tay, the first to noticed, yelled for everyone to move, as they sprinted up the winding path.  The drake tried to change its course in mid-flight, but was overcome by pain, and smashed head-on into the rocky slope.  The sound of bone shattering and the spray of stones, large and small, covered the screams of Sarah, as she was unnoticeably protected by Jesse.  Time seemed to slow down as its limp body fell backwards, plummeting itself down to the ground.  Sarah and the others raced to the gap where the drake had hit, and watched it bounced along the side of the mountain.  Tears swelled in her eyes as she quietly called out "Drake."

 "What do you want?" He said callously from beside them, standing cockily on a jagged rock on the ledge's edge.  Everyone froze for a minute, staring blankly at Drake's figure.  His brow furrowed, as he yelled, "What the hell are you looking at?" He jerked his body away from them, which proved to be a bad idea.  The jagged rock he stood on wasn't solid, as it gave way underneath his feet, catching him off-guard and sending him plummeting down the edge.  Everyone rushed to the edge in an attempt to save him, but they only caught a glimpse of him falling Earth-ward.  Sarah remained at the edge, while the others slowly stood up behind her, and looked at each other nervously.

 "Do you think he's…?" Jack said cautiously.  They gave each other a morbid stare, before the flutter of wings stirred them again.  Immediately, Jack summoned two fireballs, one in each hand, and feverishly looked everywhere in the air.  Jesse and Tay also went to a fighting stance, as they prepared for another attack.  Sarah, however, continued to look down the slopes, for any sign of anything.  There it was.

 "Look!" She yelled out, as the others quickly rushed to the edge and looked downwards.  Below, hidden by the clouds, a darkened figure, undoubtedly having a wingspan, slowly rose up towards them.  Jack raised one of his hands in the air, expecting the same monstrosity from before.  But Sarah got first glimpse.

 "JACK DON'T!" She yelled as the figure broke the clouds.  It was a pegasus, snow-white with a large wing-span for such a magnificent creature.  And in its jaws, by the back of his collar, was Drake, not looking too pleased.  It jerkily rose up to the other's position, causing Drake to flop around violently, before it flung him hard at the others, slamming him into the ground.  The pegasus then clomped its way onto the ledge, standing next to Sarah.

 "You should be so lucky that she has been practicing summoning over the past four months," Tay told Drake, as he stood up, brushing himself off, "You'd probably be a smear on the ground by now if it wasn't for her."

Whether this was what broke the straw on the camel's back, no one knows.  All they remember is Sarah, fist clenched stomped straight up to Drake's face…and smacked him…hard.  Everything went silent for a moment, even Drake's eyes bulging from his skull.  Sarah continued to glare Drake in the face, as she turned around and stomped up the ledge, the Pegasus following close behind.

As she disappeared out of view, Drake remained in that position of utter shock, as Jesse and the others watched Sarah go.  Tay was the first to snap out of it, as she gave Drake a nervous stare of sympathy while she walked by him.

Jesse didn't even bother to look at Drake, he had his own reasons to avoid him.  Jack however, as he walked by, turned around and raised his arm to give Drake a pat on the shoulder, but shook his head, and walked past him with the others.  Drake remained that way for a little while, before his eyes reverted to normal, and, although maintaining his hardened look, followed the others cautiously.

Further ways up the mountain, everyone maintain the position they had left several hours ago, except  Jack, Jesse, and Tay were walking in a huddled group.

 "Does anyone know what happened back there?" Jack whispered to the other two.

 "Beats the hell out of me, long as I've known Sarah, she never once even THOUGHT about hitting someone." Tay replied.

 "Lover's quarrel I guess." Fortunately for Jack, he was on the inside, as Jesse slammed him hard against the mountain, actually creating an indent of his body in the rocks.  But they continued without him, Tay nervously looking back at Jack, then at Jesse.

 "I guess shutting up is a good idea now.  Since I'm on the edge."

 "That would be good, yes." Jesse replied.

Jack pulled himself out of the rocks, looking at the indent his body made.  He reached up and broke up some rock around the upper arm portion, giving his imprint large muscles.  He stopped when Drake walked past him, as he looked at him then jogged up to his position.

 "So, what happened man?"

Another imprint of Jack's body made it on the cliff's base.

Not much farther away from that, Sarah had reached the end of the slope, Jesse and Tay catching up, Drake and Jack far behind them.

As Jesse was feet away from her, he saw her cradle the pegasus' head and talk to it.  When she let go, the pegasus whinnied, and flew off the cliff around to the other side of the mountain.  Jesse stepped up next to her, "Where's it going?"

Sarah snapped out of her daze, startling her, "O-Oh…I, just sent her to see if the path continues, that's all." She quickly said, before turning away from him and looking down.

As Jack and Drake came closer, Jack called out, "Hey guys, why're we stopped?"

 "Scouting.  The path ends here, and Sarah sent the pegasus out to see if there was any other path." Tay replied.

 "The horse with wings?" Jack asked curiously.

Tay just rubbed the bridge of her nose, then she bent down and began looking at the ground, "Help me find a rock to throw at him Jesse."

Jesse smiled, she would throw it at him, but would probably never hit him.  But the smile faded as he glanced over at Sarah, whose head was turned away from him, but could tell she was looking out of the corner of her eye to the far back.  His face dropped, and, not bearing to watch her, turned his back to her.

Some good ten or twenty minutes passed before the pegasus returned from its flight.  Although not able to make direct conversation with the pegasus, she was able to ask yes and no questions to get a rough estimate of where the path started up again.  As she finished, she began to brush the pegasus' mane.

 "Well," she said, without even looking behind her, "it seems, that there is no road leading to anywhere near the entrance."

 "What?" Everyone asked surprisingly.

 "This is apparently where the path ends.  But unfortunately…that also means…."

 "We're on the wrong mountain." Drake said, fairly upset at that.

 "No no," Sarah jumped in, "The entrance to the caverns is on this mountain, it's just that we…."

Everyone's eyes went a little wide, then they all looked up the steep mountainside, still very far away from the top.  "Aw crap…" Everyone except Drake and Sarah said at once.

Sarah patted the pegasus' head, and then jumped onto the back of the pegasus, her legs straddling the point where the wings and body meet.  She looked at the group and smiled, "Come on Tay, you're first."

 "Me?" She asked, as she pointed to herself.  As she walked past the men, all looking at her, she smiled nervously.  When she got to the pegasus, she faked a jump, then leaped onto the back.  The pegasus whinnied a bit, and began to step backwards.  Tay clutched tightly onto the skin of the pegasus as her knees dug into its back.  The pegasus' knees buckled a little, but stood up fairly quickly, as it looked back to Sarah with its big brown eyes.  Sarah looked back at the pegasus, and reached over and rubbed its cheek.  The pegasus whinnied again, as it looked up the mountain, and was about ready to jump.

 "Hold on," She told it, as she looked at the men, "I…I really hate to do this to you…but…."

The men all looked at her nervously.

 "TELL ME AGAIN WHY WE'RE DOING THIS!" Jack screamed at the top of his lungs.  It still was barely enough to be heard over the roaring wind blowing over his body, as he clung to dear life to the side of the mountain.  Far from the ledge where they set off, much less the ground.

 "For the hundredth time Jack!" Jesse yelled back as he dug his face into the mountain to avoid the wind, "The pegasus was barely able to carry Tay and Sarah!  It wouldn't have gotten very far with any of us on it!" He poked his head out again, and began to climb further.

Jack continued to look up, as he muttered under his breath, "That still doesn't mean she should have smacked me like that…." Implying the slightly red, slightly swelled region around his cheek.

 "No, it wasn't," Jesse said callously, "But calling Tay's breasts '50 pound sandbags,' I believe, is suitable enough for one." And he continued to climb.

Drake remained quiet throughout the bickering, he never was one to get into these things.

 "We're getting closer!  It's not that far now!" Jesse yelled.


 "Would you stop complaining?!" Jesse yelled, pissed off, "It isn't going to help us any, so why the hell do you keep yammering?!"

 "It's proof that I'm alive!  Which I can't say will be for much longer!" He yelled back, looking straight up at Jesse.

Jesse sighed, and looked up the mountain, "How DID we get ourselves into this?"

Two weeks ago, in a town quite similar to the one Jesse and Jack rescued from those rogues four months ago, the group had walked into another case of localized terror.  The villagers weren't much helpful, most of them were scared out of their wits.  What little information they had acquired at first, was only as significant to them as "She'll kill us all", "Nobody can touch her", and "There's no point talking about it".  Finally, after about five or so days of exploring, questioning, and other detective-type solving, they had perchance came across a middle-aged farmer, with his six year-old daughter.

 "I am sorry," the farmer told the apprentices, "but telling you where she was wouldn't do any good for us all.  She'd only kill you, then attack the town again for trying to destroy her. And we don't have enough resources to rebuild this town again."

There was a deep sigh, as the farmer turned away from them, placing his hand on his daughter's back and gently pushing her with him. 

As they walked away, the girl looked up to her father and asked, "Daddy?  Are they talking about the woman who lives on Mount Kand?"

The farmer stopped dead in his tracks and whirled around.  The five were gone, but he looked around to make sure they were out of earshot.  When he was satisfied, he turned back around, giving his daughter a little harder push, saying, "I thought I told you not to say that out loud."

 "I'm sorry Daddy…." The little girl said sorrowfully.

A battered hand reached overtop a ledge.  It searched around nervously, before digging it's fingernail into the rocks and hoisted its body upward.  Jesse's top half collapsed on the ledge as he gasped for air.  As he caught his breath, his face went into that of absolute shock.  He looked down behind him and yelled furiously, "JACK!"

 "Sorry!" Was his response.  Jesse glared at him as another hand crowned the top of the ledge, and Jack hoisted himself upwards.  When he came to a position where he wouldn't fall back down, his lay down, arms spread wide.  "Ain't my fault your butt was in my way."

Before Jesse could say anything, another voice broke them up.

 "Do you two mind?" Said rather coldly.  Jesse and Jack quickly looked at each other and scooted over as Drake's head popped up and he too rested on the ledge, most of his bottom half dangling with the Jack's and Jesse's.  There was a long silence, only the deep, heavy breathing of the climbers could be heard.

 "What took you so long?" A voice broke the silence.  They looked up to see Tay, standing overtop of them with her arms crossed, and Sarah, who sat on the ground, watching them with a smile.

 "Did you guys have fun?" She asked them politely.  Drake shot her a glare, Jack collapsed again, and Jesse…well, he couldn't help but smile too.  He looked over and noticed Drake heaving himself to his feet, brushing off the dust and dirt on his pants.  Jesse quickly did the same, being sure to do it a little bit faster too.  Jack just laid their, exhausted.  Tay glared down at him as he continue to act like he was unconscious.  Finally, her patience broke.

 "Dammit Jack, quit fooling arou-AAAHHH!" She screamed as she slipped on a smooth stone, sending her tumbling behind Jack.  His head quickly shot up too, as he was dragged down with her, his hands catching against the ledge.  The screams of both of them reverberated through the mountains as the Sarah, Drake, and Jesse rushed to their aid.  Jack and Drake each immediately grabbed an arm and lifted upwards, Sarah trying to contribute by grabbing Jack's armor as he came above the ledge.  As both he and Tay were thrown from their predicament, Drake, Sarah and Jesse collapsed with Tay and Jack.  Once again, the only sound heard was the heavy panting of all five, until Tay slowly got to her knees and crawled overtop of Jack, her hair hiding his face, and she collapsed on him.

 "God I hate you…." Was what she said after several seconds of more silence.

 "Say…considering I reluctantly saved you, I assume you owe me a favor." Jack said cockily.  There was a quick, muffled thud as Tay rolled off of him onto her back, and Jack began cringing in pain.

 "Not on your life." She said after a few more heavy breaths.  As the panting died down, no one wanted to move for a while.  They just lay there, soon falling asleep.

They awoke several hours later, barely recollecting the purpose behind this impossible climb.  As soon as everyone was awake, they rested for yet another hour, for resting's sake, and they continued.  At that time, an odd thing occurred.  No one talked, not even Jack.  What made it odd, to them at least, was the lack of that eerie awkward feeling that was quite common among them.  It was more of a peaceful silence, where everyone was just soaking in the comfort of each other's company.  Even Drake's "aura" had a less sinister feel to it, and he himself even seemed more relaxed.

Night had fallen, and Jack was given point to light the way, conjuring a small fireball in his palm to create some light.  The path had apparently thinned, as far as the five could tell.  Their suspicions were corrected when they soon had to walk one right behind the other, soon pressing their stomachs against the wall.  Finally, after a good two hours of quiet, Jack broke the silence.

 "Are we there yet?" He whined.

 "As much as I hate to say this, I have to agree with him." Tay added.

 "I don't understand," Sarah said nervously, "I could have sworn that the pegasus would have at least brought me and Tay nearer to the entrance than this."

 "Do I need to remind everyone my opinion of horses?" Jack butted in.

 "No, we don't." Everyone quickly replied.

 "I don't know about anyone else, but I feel as if we've been going around in circles." Jesse said nervously.

 "Now that's just silly," Tay responded, "The path clearly had an upward slope the entire time we've been on it.  It would be impossible for it to be…."

 "I see a ledge!" Jack yelled, squinting in the darkness.  The sudden burst made Tay yelp, almost falling back off the edge.  A quick and panicked grab of some rocks projecting from the side of the mountain saved her.

 "Jack!" Sarah hissed, "You scared Tay, she almost fell down!"

 "Oh," Jack said despondently, he looked as far back as he could and yelled, "You okay Tay?!"

There was no answer, only a slight mumbling as Tay buried her head on the mountain edge.

 "What?!" He asked.

Jesse, following right behind Tay looked past her to Jack, yelling, "It involves some really bad derogatory comments of your mom Jack, don't push it."

A few minutes of steady shuffling, and the group had made it safely to the large ledge projecting from the mountainside.  Everyone quickly stopped to catch their breath, Jack holding the fireball higher for more area for the light to reach.  As the breathing slowed, and everyone looked up and smiled at each other, excluding Drake, they noticed something odd.

 "Uh…where's the cave?" Jack asked nervously.

Jack held the fireball up a little higher, and the five began to scour the mountain side.  Indeed, this was not the ledge that the cave was situated on.  In fact….

 "Does anyone else notice something…peculiar about this place?" Tay asked.

They walked the mountain side to where the ledge diverted into a path, eventually leading to a very narrow walkway heading up the mountain.  Everyone looked upwards at the mountain.  Jack through the fireball up the slope.  As the darkness quickly overcame them, the light from the traveling fireball went up for a good ways until they couldn't see it no more.  Jack created another fireball, as the light revealed their faces.

 "Well…if I may remember correctly, right now we're…." Tay began exclaiming nervously until Drake came in.

 "In the exact same place we were before." He said rather coldly.  Silence fell over the group once again, as Sarah fell to her knees, Tay and Jesse falling to their rear ends.

 "Aw man…." Jack whined.

 "It doesn't make sense." Tay said aloud, "That path had a constant upward slope up the mountain, it's impossible for us o be exactly here we were."

 "It could be a trick," Jesse said, "Like, this is suppose to throw off travelers and stuff."

 "So we contin-GYAH!" Jack yelped as Drake grabbed the arm with the fireball and held to the ground, nearly throwing Jack to the ground.

 "Hardly, these skidmarks are from before." He said as he flung Jack's arm away from him.  Jack glared at Drake as he rubbed his arm.

Sarah's head drooped a little, and sighed, just as Jack and Drake began to argue.

 "What the hell was that for?!"

No answer.


Sarah sat up again, and just watched the two through the flickering of the fire, if things got out of hand, Tay, her, or Jesse, depending on who was arguing, would usually break it up.

 "You nearly tore my arm off!"


 "HA!  I'll have you know my shoulder feels a bit sore right now.  That's liability lawsuit buddy!"

 "You really are stupid aren't you?"


Sarah closed her eyes, trying to block out their argument.  She hated to listen to them fight.

 "Drake, just apologize to Jack already."


 "Oh is that how you're going to play it?  Well bring it on then!"

 "Jack, now really isn't the time…."

 "Stay out of this Jes!  It's between me and the anti-social here!"

About this time, Sarah had had enough of it.  She began to stand up, placing her hand on the mountain to give her balance.

 "Please, both of you.  We really should be-YAH!" She yelped as she phased through the thick mountain wall.  No one heard her, as Jack continued to threaten Drake, who just stood there and took it, not caring one way or the other, as Tay walked behind Jack and held back his arms.

 "THAT'S ENOUGH JACK!" She yelled.

 "Let me go!  I'll teach this bastard who the hell he's dealing with!  We don't need him!"

 "I beg to differ…!" Tay said through clenched teeth.

Jesse just stood there watching.  This was a common occurrence, Jack blowing his top.  However, there was something missing from the confusion.

 "Hey Sarah, think we should stop them?" He asked, rather plainly.  There was no answer.  "Sarah?" He turned around, Sarah was gone from the glow of the fire.  "Sarah?" He called again, there was no answer.  "Hey guys!  Sarah's gone!"

Jack, whose face had become as red as his hair, growled viciously at Drake, who, surprisingly, was getting rather upset, from what Jesse could tell by the look on his face.  Tay, of course, was still holding Jack back with all her strength.  This all stopped completely when Jesse yelled at them.  There was a slight astonished look on their face, when Sarah's voice broke the silence.

 "I'm here Jesse.  I'm okay." She said somewhat wearily, as her body phased through the side of the mountain.  Jack and Tay's mouth dropped, Drake, per usual, was completely uninterested.  Sarah smiled as her head poked out from the wall, "I'm not sure…but I think I found the entrance."

As they continued through the hidden path concealed by magics, Jack and Drake still had yet to make up.  In fact, the two continued to remain very bitter as Jack's fireball barely lit the hall in front of them.

 "You think you can make it a little brighter in here?" Tay asked rudely.

 "Shut up." Jack hissed at her, "I'm having enough trouble concentrating to keep this thing lit."

 "I suggest you lose the attitude."

 "I'd suggest you lose ten pounds, but that would get rid of the only good part of you."

 "WHY YOU-" Tay yelled, before Sarah stepped in front of her, blocking her path.  Tay's brow furrowed, as she gently pushed Sarah aside and stormed past her.  Sarah watched nervously, as the light around her face began to fade.  Drake walked past her, and she quickly sped up and began walking by his side.  Jesse trailed in the back, the light barely reaching him.

 "This isn't like me…" he thought.  "Sure…I may have been gloomy back at school…but still." He looked up, Sarah still keeping close to Drake.  "What's wrong with me…?" Was his final thoughts as his head lowered again, as his pace slowed down, and darkness enshrouded him.

They continued walking the hall, as it curved downwards every so often.  After about an hour, they hit a dead-end.

 "Well…what do we do now?" Jack asked despondently.

Tay placed her hand on the wall.  Indeed, it was solid, unlike the entrance to the hallway.

 "We turn back, that's what we do." Drake added.

 "Must you always be so pessimistic?"  Tay asked, shooting him a glare.

Drake grunted, "You must not get it.  Obviously, if the wall to this place was concealed before, the mage would do it again."

 "I don't know…" Sarah said, "She hasn't exactly been following any pattern, except that her traps are completely random.  I don't see her using the same thing twice."

 "Which is exactly why she'd do it again." Drake said, frustrated.

Everyone immediately began to rub their hands on the surface of the walls, till Sarah spoke up.

 "Hey…where's Jesse?" She asked.

As if on cue, his body came through the darkness, "Right here, I was lagging a bit, sorry."

 "Well start lookin'" Jack said agitated, "Superman says we gotta go back until we find a hole in the wall."

 "Superman?" Jesse asked, looking at Drake.  Drake gave him a cold stare, Jesse returning the favor.  But he didn't say anything, and he began to feel up the wall for any signs of something.  It wasn't much longer until….

 "Wait a minute…." Sarah said, "I hear something."

She pressed her ear to the wall, as the others remained silent as a mouse.  She closed her eyes and concentrated deeply.

 "I hear it too," Jack whispered.  Everyone nodded in agreement, as Sarah continued to listen to the wall.  Her eyes shot open, and she pulled away from the wall.

 "It's on the other side." She said as she stepped away from the wall, pointing to it.

Jack smiled proudly at Drake, "This is where I come in.  I suggest you step back or else you'll get hurt."

An explosion tore through the wall of the cave, creating a large hole leading to an even larger cavern.  Its ceiling reached far up into the mountain, Tay realizing that they could have just broken through the floor of the cave anytime they wanted to.  The cavern was lit by very bright fluorescent rocks, which reflected off of some running water, which made the room brighter.  The fireball dispersed in Jack's hand, as he gazed astoundingly into the room.  The five piled into the cavern, most of them mystified by the glorious surroundings.

 "Nice place." Jack said aloud, his gaze slowly moving across the ceiling.

 "Why thank you…." A sinister voice came from the far shadows of the room.

Everyone jumped, as the far, darkened area, lit up mystically by several torches coming to life on their own.  In the middle of the torches, stood a person shrouded in a white ceremonial robe.  The voice gave away that she was female, as did the long, silky black hair.  But something was different about this one.  She wore a mask, an oddly shaped, pale white mask.  A large piece covered her forehead, as it dramatically thinned to where only her nose was covered, which once again spread across a large area covering her mouth and chin.  She gazed at them with her deep blue eyes.

 "How did the villagers manage to find enough money to hire not one, but five bounty hunters to stop me?  Heh…I must be going to easy on them.  Well, that'll all change after I'm finished with you."

 "Oh yeah…and what can some…chick with a fucked up Halloween costume do to me, huh?" Jack said, not too sure at that.

 "Halloween?" The mage asked.  She shook her head, "No...nevermind…I can see why they could afford you, you're idiots."

 "Sorry to burst your bubble, but we're freelance hunters.  We fight for something more than money."

 "We don't?" Jack asked nervously.  A quick smack to the back of his head jolted him into reality, "Oh yeah, that's right.  We're just starting out, so we don't have the right to ask people for money." Perhaps too much into reality.  There was a long silence, until Tay grabbed the back of his shirt, and held him out towards the enemy.

 "This is Jack.  He uses red mana, is a pervert, and his weaknesses are bitter cold, and anything that has breasts.  Have fun." And she pushed him towards her.  The mage laughed.

 "Ha ha ha!  Oh dear, this is very amusing!  Fighting amongst yourselves, oh what a shame it is that I have to kill you myself, and that I can't let you do it yourselves!" She continued to laugh, as Jack looked back at Tay.

 "What the hell was that for?!" He yelled.

 "Jack!  You are a complete dumbass, that's what!"

 "Aw shut up!"

 "If you two are done, I'd like to get this over with." Drake butted in stepping his way to the front.  He was forcefully stopped by Jack's arm.

 "Oh, no you don't!  You've helped enough today Soups!  Why don't you just sit back and watch a real fighter at work?!"

 "If you're so willing to die, then so be it!" Drake yelled back, finally losing his temper, "But don't expect me to be dragged down with you to hell when you do!"

 "Oh, aren't you the bright one!"

The insidious laugh from the mage disrupted the argument, as she clapped rhythmically, "More!  More!  Oh I must see more!"

 "OH, SHUT UP!" Jack screamed, he winded back and formed a large fireball and threw it at the women.  It didn't even take a second for the fireball to reach her position, but instead of exploding on impact, it phased right through her much like Sarah did to the wall.

Speaking of walls, the one behind the mage was soon no more.  The explosion ripped a gaping hole in the side of the mountain, revealing the slightly darkened skies as the sun almost broke the horizon.  Surprisingly, the cavern held its own, as little rocks fell, even against the tremendous force of the explosion by Jack's Fireball.  As the wind died down, and the noise settled, the five removed their arms from their heads, to see their enemies hair only slightly mussed up by the strong wind.  Otherwise, she was completely unscathed.

 "How in the hell…." Jack said, mouth gaping open.

 "A…ghost…?" Sarah asked herself nervously.

 "No…not a ghost," The mage answered, giggling, "In fact, I'm much more alive then I ever was." Her eyes looked at Jack seductively, "Thank you…Jack.  For that fabulous performance, and that exhilarating thrill of a near-death experience.  I was taken completely by surprised, and had it not been for my little spell, I'd probably be nothing more than charred ashes.  It's been a long time since I've had a sudden rush of energy like that." And she began to laugh out loud again.

Jack, completely bedazzled and scarred, backtracked a little to where Tay, jaw also dropped, stood, asking, "Should I tell her I wasn't acting?"

 "I really don't think it would matter at this point in time…." She said, her gaze not leaving the mages.  The laughing died down, as the five assumed a fighting stance, sweat running down their faces.  The mages eyes suddenly turned very cold, glaring at the group.

 "Of course, with this little stunt, you've wasted my precious time which I can never get back.  And I am in a bit of a hurry, so I won't be finishing you off myself."

Once again, silence overran the six, and once again, it was not long until that silence was broken, with the quaking of the ground.  It wasn't very forceful, but it was very noticeable.  Jesse looked out past the hole, to the outside.  He noticed that the surrounding mountain range, was experiencing a lot more turbulence.  One mountain in particular for that.  Rocks and boulders tumbled mercilessly down its slopes, making sure to roll over anything that might have lived on that mountain.  It wasn't long until the top of the mountain began to break away, until everything fell silent again.

And in flash, and in an explosion of rocks, dirt, and other debris, the mountain erupted with a gigantic roar as it came to life.  No, as something inside came to life.  As the sun broke the horizon, it glistened off of its almost prismatic skin.  It came alive with colors of silver, blue, red, and purple.  It rose its head to a mighty height, as a gigantic wingspan blocked the suns rays.  It let lose another tremendous roar, as its mighty arm cleared away the debris surrounding its lower legs.  It then stopped, and looked towards the mountain, the mages mountain.  It looked directly at the mage, no, its master, whose back was turned to it.  Immediately it knew what it must do.  It stomped its mighty legs as it slowly approached the mountain, its reptilian head fixated on its tiny morsels of prey.  It stopped in front of the hole, its head low enough to where the five apprentices could see it, but high enough to make them tremble in fear.

 "Jack…" Tay said nervously.

 "Y-Yeah…." Jack responded.

 "Remember…when I told you…the difference between drakes…and dragons…."

The monster glared into the hole, its brow furrowing in anger and disgust.  It raised its large arm.

 "That's a dragon…."
The dragon then swung, clearing out most of the mountaintop.  Everyone except the mage screamed and ducked, as the dragon stopped its swing, and returned back clearing out the rest of the mountains remains, leaving them completely out in the open.  It let out a roar as it loomed high above their heads, ready to make quick work of them.

"Oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man, oh man...." Tay kept chanting as she cowered in fear.  Sarah had also ducked low, clinging to Tay, and weeping softly.  Drake, Jesse, and Jack, remained standing, but each had a look of horror plastered to their face, even Drake.  Jack had actually thought he soiled himself.

Jesse glanced at Tay, and looked back, "Tay!  C-Can't you…unsummon this thing or something?!"

 "Oh man, oh man, oh man...I can do it fine with birds and horses, but we're in a whole 'nother league here Jess." She said, her hands clinging to her face.

Drake also did a double take, except this time with Jack, "Well?!  What are you waiting for?!  Attack it!" Jack looked nervously at him, then nodded.  He wiped the look of horror off his face, and threw his arm out towards the dragon.  Immediately, a lightning bolt tore through the sky, impacting the dragon on the shoulder.  But something was wrong.  Instead of burning through its body, the bolt was formed into a ball, as it sparked and sizzled.  The dragon remained unphased, continuing to glare at them.  As if on command, the bolt shot from the dragon's shoulder, striking the ground between the men.  Although not directly hit, the electricity from the shock sent Jesse and Jack to their knees, while Drake struggled to stay up.  The two wearily rose to their feet, as Drake yelled.

 "Dammit!  It's too strong!  One of you protect them, and the other go after the enemy!  I got the dragon!" He yelled, more serious than ever, he sprinted past the girls, who themselves managed to climb up to their feet.  Not long after he made it past them, then he quickly realized that its hand had come around for a third go.  Unlike the drake, there was no time to react, he flinched, and covered his eyes as he heard the thunderous 'boom' of the dragon's arm.

But it didn't hit him, no, it hit Jesse, who somehow managed to stay on his feet even after than blow.  His arms covered his face in a defensive position, as the dragon roared, and applied more force on Jesse.

 "No…" he hissed out.  Drake looked at him in a completely astonished, and surprised look.  "Drake…you may be, no…ARE, the strongest of us…." Jesse gasped out, using all of his strength to hold back the dragon's arm, "But…how are we going to get any stronger…if we let you do all the fighting…." The dragon pushed him back a little but it wasn't enough for it, as it raised its other arm in the air, "Even I have pride…and…I…WON'T HAVE THAT TAKEN AWAY FROM ME AS WELL!" He screamed with all his might, as he pushed the dragon's arm away from him.  It was too late, as its other arm came sweeping down…until an explosion stopped it in its tracks.

 "YEAH BITCH!" Jack yelled triumphantly, "You didn't see that one coming did ya?!" He through another fireball at the dragon, this time, aiming for the chest.  It stopped several feet away from its chest however, and hovered in mid-air.  It was then flung back at Jack, whose eyes went wide with panic and he tried to shield himself.  A quick burst of a large stream of water, immediately extinguished the fireballs glow however, as Tay stood over Jack, smiling.

 "You dumbass.  That's a Quicksilver Dragon.  Its owner fills it with a supply of mana, and the dragon uses that mana to reflect spells casted at it alone.  If you want to use spells, get up close to where it can't see you, or just start beating the shit out of it." She grabbed his hands and hoisted him up to his feet.  They clasped their hands together, creating a tight fist.  They squeezed hard, smiling, and broke as they began to move around.  Then they noticed the dragon was sizably pissed off at this point.  It raised its left arm high in the sky, intending to bring it down hard upon its enemies.

 "Jesse…" He thought to himself, "This is your only chance.  You're fighting for yourself, you're fighting for your friends, and you're fighting to get back home," he felt his strength increase, "I'm going to see those luscious forests again, the green grass of Earth, not this Dominaria.  For all the things that make my world more beautiful than this world."  The paw started its fast descent on the five, as it readied to crush the mountain in a single blow.  "I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN!" Jesse yelled, and he grew.  He grew to a larger height, much like he did when he first discovered his mana.  Except this time, the robe adjusted to his monstrously huge body.  His arms extended to the sky, he caught the dragon's paw with a mighty blow, creating a huge crater among his feet.  With hands on each side of the dragon's paw, he squeezed hard to create pressure on the dragon's hand, whom was not determined to lose this battle of strength to a mere human.  It roared and was about to come down with its other hand, until it noticed a blur running up its arm.  It was Tay, running like the wind to its head.  It didn't give her a second thought, until her foot met the side of its face.  It reeled its head backwards, roaring in pain.  Tay smiled, until the rocking of the dragon's body caused her to slide down its smooth back, clinging to a loose protrusion on the dragon's backside.

 "Man…" She said, "How the hell did Drake do this?" She tried to lift herself up, but to no avail.

Back in the once cavern, Jesse held on to dear life as his humongous arms grappled with the dragons one.

 "Hold it a little longer Jesse!" Jack yelled, turning to Drake.  He placed his hand on his shoulder, and smiling, looked at him square in the eye, "Hey bud, you already had your fair share of reptiles today.  How about you say we take care of this one?"  He patted his shoulder twice, winked at him, and jumped on the dragons arm, sprinting up it.

Drake watched him nervously, as Jack neared the dragons head.  Sarah, who was kneeling down next to him, looked up at him, and asked.

 "Drake…aren't you going to help them?"

A sneer drew over his lips, and he replied, "Well…they said I could take a break, didn't they?"

Sarah looked up at him, this was the first time she's seen him smile like that before.  But she was still worried about her friends, and looked back at them.  Then she noticed the mage, the whole reason for this mess.  Her brow furrowed, a frown drew across her face.  "Nobody messes with my friends," she thought to herself, rising to her feet.  This was one of the few times, that Sarah had ever shown anger towards another human being like this.

 "Oh yeah, here I come," Jack said quietly as the dragons head reared around and met its eyes with his, "Oh yeah, you better believe this one's gonna hurt too bitch," He cooed to the dragon, as it opened its mouth and roared, "Except this one has less to do with speed," he formed a fist as the dragon turned its head and was about to snap him in half, "AND HAS A LITTLE MORE TO DO WITH STRENGTH!" He punched the dragon on its lower jaw, sending its head careening backwards, with another painful roar.  Jack stood firmly on its shoulder, fists tightly clenched, and chuckling maniacally.

 "Giant Strength…almost as bad as Jesse down there."

The mage went into a panic, she reeled backwards, astonished that her precious creature was loosing.  But she was certain it wouldn't be for long.

An arm wrapped around her torso, and a hand was placed atop the mask.

 "What the-" She yelped, as she struggled to get herself free.

 "I think it's time," Sarah's smooth voice whispered in her ear, "That you get rid of this ugly thing."  With that, she gently glided her hand across the mask.  And as she did, the mask began to disappear.  When her hand reached her chin, the mask had vanished.  The mage was indeed, a beautiful women, unlikely for one of such evil summoning intentions.  She felt Sarah's hands move to her lower back, as she gently grabbed her waist.

 "Don't worry, I erased that thing off your face for good now…BUT DON'T EVER HURT MY FRIENDS AGAIN!" She screamed directly in her ear.  White lightning than shot through the mages body, as she screamed as was sent hurtling forward.  Her face plowed into the rocks, as she turned over, shaking in pain.  No sooner than she rolled over, than a large hand grasped her face, and lifted it up to Drakes eye level.  His black eyes reverberating deep into hers.

 "It's a shame that such a beautiful women like you should choose this lifestyle," He said coldly.  A shiver of fear ran up her spine, as her pupils faded away with fear, "Let this be a lesson to you," he said as steam began to rise up from her body, "Don't ever rely too much on a few things." With that, a look of shock ran through her eyes, as greenish smoke, her life energy, began to pour out of her glowing eyes, mouth, and nostrils.  Her face began to shrivel up like a prune, as she aged hundreds of years in just a few seconds.  The process was over, and Drake threw her pathetic body to the side, the bones snapping under the dry skin.

Tay, who was still clinging to dear life, noticed the sudden change of mana in the air.  She swung meticulously on the protrusion, and let go with one arm.  She smacked it on a spot directly to her right from her hanging, and a small 'burp' almost, left a small hole in the dragon's backside.  She swung backwards, and once again smacked her hand directly below that hole.  Another 'burp' created another small hole, enabling her to dig her foot into it, and otherwise get a better gripping.

 "Tay!" Jack yelled from atop the dragon, who was swinging its head around trying to either crush, or eat Jack, "Hurry your ass up and get up here!"

There was another 'burp', and Tay placed her hand into a small hole, "I'm hurrying as fast as I can."

Jesse struggled with the dragon's arm still.  Except this time, he had to deal with keeping the dragon from retracting, than from it crushing him, which that in itself was harder still.

 "I'm…still not strong enough." Jesse yelled, as he struggled to keep the dragons arm to the earth.  His eyes bulged with strain, and his veins began to burst in his heads, "No…I need to get stronger…must get stronger…." He tightened his grip on the paw, "Just…a little more…strength!" He finally yelled, as he clenched his hands together, sending the dragon's claws upwards, as he began to crush its paw.  The dragons roar didn't slow Jesse down, as he brought the paw in close to him, and slammed it down on the ground, its palm facing upwards.

Around this time, Tay had managed to make it to the dragons shoulder.

 "Get down there, now!" Jack yelled, ducking underneath the dragons jaw.

 "What about you?!"
 "I'm taking this bad boy down!" He said all too proudly.

 "Fine by me." Tay said way too easily, as she slid down the dragon's arm.  As she neared Jesse, she yelled, "JESS!  Let go when I get there!" Jesse nodded, and when Tay slid off the palm, Jesse caught her in mid-air, and carried her away from the dragon.  The dragon managed to lift its paw in the air, still roaring in pain.

Jack, his back to the others, slowly turned around.  Showing his eyes to be nothing but pure lightning now.  The wind howled, as the electricity shot out from the corner of his eyes, he spread his arms wide, as dark clouds began to circle, and swirl in the sky.

 "You may have reflected the first one," Jack said aloud to the dragon, still reeling in pain, lightning began to roll across the sky, "Hell, you even managed to bounce off the second one," lightning then began to gather into one point in the swirling vortex in the sky, "but you sure as hell won't survive this one."

The lighting then let loose from its home in the sky.  But this wasn't some mere bolt, or a measly shock stream.  This was a ball, a ball of pure, raw lightning energy, and it was ready to strike the dragon down.  It zigged and zagged in the sky, as if it were alive, and then it struck.  The blow was so powerful, it didn't even need to send wave after wave of electricity through its body.  It was an explosion of electricity, as it tore a gapping hole in the middle of the dragon, and even had more to destroy a large chunk of rock from the base of the once mountain where the body of the dragons master laid.  This was the final blow, as the dragon softly groaned and its limp body fell over on the cliff base, missing Jesse and the others by inches.  It took several hours for the dust and smoke to clear from the mountain base.

Jesse awoke much later.  Apparently, the strain from those enchantments wore a heavy burden on him, as he could barely move his body.  He heard the sloshing of water to his right, and he looked over to Sarah, who rang a wet towel out over a bucket.  She then began to dab his head, as she smiled at him.  He smiled back, no words were needed.  None at all, except….

 "Thank you…." And she gently kissed him on his forehead.  She dunked the rag again, rang it out, and began to cool him off.  Then it occurred to her.

 "What did you mean 'taken away from me'?"

Jesse acted quickly, as he rolled his eyes in his head, and pretended to pass out.  He heard her say, "Oh darnit…."

Outside, Tay reluctantly was assigned the task of healing "the prince," as he now called himself.  She aggressively massaged his shoulders, as he groaned in an almost orgasmic experience.

 "Oh yes…yeessssss…." He said, as Tay moved her thumbs down her back.  She squinted.

 "You know, I expect you to do me just as good, otherwise this'll have to be done to you ten times more to feel any pleasure from it.

 "Mmm…sure, whatever…." He moaned, his eyes closed almost falling asleep.  The approach of footsteps woke him up, so to say, as he looked up at Drake, who had just brought with him a large haul of fruits and vegetables from the town.

 "Is that all you got?" Jack asked, until he felt a slight twinge "OW!"

 "They already apologized to me enough for not having any money to give us…so they gave us this."

 "I guess it'll do." Jack said, as he paid more attention to his once-in-a-lifetime massage. "So Drake," Tay asked, grunting a little bit from the massage, "Not to, insult you or anything…but…how do I put this…?"

Drake smiled, "I understand, no problem."

Tay stopped in mid-stroke, and stared up at Drake.  This was the first time she had ever seen him smile, and have it not be in a sadistic, sinister type way which they were used to.  Jack also stared nervously at him, who grinned even wider.  He then ducked into the cottage which was a temporary relief for the apprentices, and thus the excitement of the day had passed.


End Chapter

Quick Notes:

*bows repeatedly*


I get sidetracked so easily, that and the fact that I got a little bit of a writers block halfway through this!  I'm sorry for making you all wait!

I promise you, I won't stop this until I finish it.  And I guarantee, it's a great finish.  It's still a long…long…LONG ways away.  Heck, some of you may not even be interested enough by the time it does come. (Just kidding ^_~)  But please, I ask you, if you promise not to abandon this story, I promise I won't either.