True Nature

Chapter 1

The Altar

She still couldn't believe it, wouldn't believe. Still, no matter how hard she tried there was no denying the evidence in front of her, or the tears that ran down her cheek.


It had started earlier that day. The Huntsmaster had called her, number 88, and 89 for a mission. He hadn't said what they were doing, but only where they were going, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. The trip there had only taken a short while by teleportation, but still 88 and 89 complained. How those two became members of the huntsclan, she would never know.

The capitol was silent that night, but still they moved forward cautiously. The Huntsmaster led, numbers 88 and 89 in the middle with her bring up the rear. They dodged security patrol, navigated the streets Washington D.C, and finally came to the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History.

The Huntsmaster came to a stop on the roof, turning to face them as he said, "All right, this is where we part ways. Numbers 88 and 89, you are to enter this building and steal the Gem of the Eclipse."

Numbers 88 and 89 looked at each other, and then back at the Huntsmaster with a confused look on their face. The Huntsmaster groaned, pulling out a flyer from the museum that depicted a large diamond that was clear in some parts, but pure black in others. It was a mixture, and the rarest gem in the world.

88 and 89 took the flyer, nodding their heads as 88 said, "You can count on us Huntsmaster." With that the two moved over to a nearby air vent, struggled with the grating on its cover for five minutes before pulling it off and slipping inside.

With the two younger, and blatantly inexperienced, huntsclan members gone the Huntsmaster turned to the third member of the group and said, "Are you ready to learn of our mission here tonight, Huntsgirl."

Rose nodded, bowing in respect, "Yes Huntsmaster."

"Good, then follow me. We must be quick." Rose nodded, following after Huntsmaster as the pair sprinted across the roof top, using their weapons to pole-vault over to the next roof. The pair continued on, jumping from roof top to roof top until they got to another building owned by the Smithsonian. It looked to be only a simple warehouse, but Rose knew the Huntsmaster better then that.

The pair dropped inside, finding a window on the roof left unlocked. Inside the warehouse was a massive structure, constructed purely of stone. Four pyramids surrounded an altar in the center of the stone circle. Each pyramid was almost two stories tall, while the alter in the center reached at least another ten feet higher. The Altar stood like the pyramids, but instead of smooth edges the sides of the pyramid were made up of stairs leading straight up to the top.

The Huntsmaster and Rose walked towards the altar, beginning their assent to the top while Rose asked, "Huntsmaster, what is all this?"

The Huntsmaster smiled underneath his dragon skull mask, "The end of all magical creatures."


The pair reached the top of the altar. The point of the pyramid had not been completed, leaving a level floor at the top. On the level surface stood a solid stone table, on top of which sat an object with four spikes rising up to a single point. As the Huntsmaster looked out across the four other pyramids, his voice was filled with a sound of accomplishment, "The researchers of the Smithsonian have recently constructed this, a scale model of an ancient ritual ground believed to have been built by the Aztec Empire. The real altar was destroyed when the Spaniards invaded, but records of the structure still exist."

The Huntsmaster continued, pulling out his weapon as the strange spear began to build up power, "The Aztecs always feared magical creatures, viewing them as sinful creatures that mocked the gods and their power. So, to fix this, the Aztecs designed a ritual to kill them all, to find the magic that gives them their strength and turn it into a poison. The ritual was never cast, most magical creatures going into hiding as European explores came to the Americas. The Aztecs thought that the beasts had just fled, and they were partly right. Now, however, I shall finish their work."

Rose stood silent, but on the inside her heart was tearing at her chest. She couldn't let the Huntsmaster continue. If the ritual worked, Jake would be dead. She couldn't let that happen, but still how could she stop him without revealing the fact she was working with Jake and his grandfather.

The Huntsmaster paid no mind to Rose as he used his weapon to light torches all around the altar. The warehouse became filled with the dark red glow of fire as the Huntsmaster placed his weapon down and searched the interior of his clothes. Soon, he pulled out a large gem that was made of black and clear parts.

Rose stared at the gem, a questioning tone in her voice, "I thought you sent 88 and 89 to steal that gem."

"I did, but they are probably finding out now that the gem is already gone. In truth, I just needed them to be a distraction, and bait."

"Bait for what?"

Huntsmaster smiled, his eyes shifting over to a window of the warehouse where two silhouettes were flying against the moon lit sky, "Dragons." A moment latter the window shattered, two great dragons breaking the silence of the warehouse. One was dark blue, the dragon master Lou Shi, carried number 88 in his claws. The other dragon, with red scales, was carrying number 89. He was the American Dragon, who a few people also knew as Jake Long.

Lou Shi and Jake dropped numbers 88 and 89, letting them crash to the floor in an unconscious heap. The Huntsmaster smiled, looking up at the dragons as he said, "Well, if it isn't he guests of honor."

Jake swooped down, landing at the base of the altar as he said, "Yeah, but you're the one getting the award tonight, hunts-chump. My fist." Jake charged forward, but at the last minutes Huntsmaster jumped out of the way. Jake turned in time to see the Huntsmaster land, and then his grandfather plow him over. Jake smiled, giving a whoop as he said, "That's it G, show that hunt-fool you don't mess with dragons."

Jake turned again, smiling as he said, "How you been Rose?"

Rose lowered down into a defensive position, "Just fine thank you. Now, we better start fighting before Huntsmaster begins to suspect something."

Jake nodded, "All right, and don't worry, I'll be gentle." Rose smiled, jumping as she landed a round house kick to the side of Jake's face. Jake faked a fall, tumbling down the altar steps before regaining his footing at the bottom. Rose ran after Jake, and the two began to act out their fight as Lao Shi and Huntsmaster had a true duel. While the two fights were still raging, a gray dog with more flab then a sumo wrestler walked in with a book in his mouth.

Fu dog set the book down, cracking it open as he began to search for any information on the ritual that the museum staff had set up. As he flipped through the pages, Fu dog mumbled to himself, "Hmm…could be the Transylvanian Vampire Banishment, no. What about the Forgotten Forest Foundry, No. Uhh…ah, ha…here it is. Oh boy."

Jake and Rose moved their fight over to Fu dog, Jake glancing back as he asked, "What's going on Fu?"

Fu dog shook his head, "It ain't spring in the park, that's for sure. This is the Aztec Ultimate Finish Ritual. It's a spell meant to affect every magical creature in the world. It turns the magic in their own bodies into a lethal poison, ensuring death in just a few minutes."

Jake and Rose froze, forgetting the fact they should be fighting as Rose asked, "What can we do to stop it." In that instant, Lao Shi came crashing into the group, having been thrown by the Huntsmaster. Rose pulled herself free of the dragon and dog pile, looking up as the Huntsmaster reached the top of the altar.

The Huntsmaster set his hands on the gem, which had fallen to the floor of the altar at the beginning of the fight. He held it up, two hands raising it up as he began to say the incantation.

By the Gods of Wrath, and Lord of Destruction

Let judgment be passed on the world tonight

Let those of magical decent fall prey to their own power

And let the creatures free of cursed spell weaving be spared

With his voice still echoing through the warehouse, Huntsmaster slammed the gem down into its place on the altar. In that instant, several things began to happen. The four pyramids that surround the altar began to glow, strings of light linking their tips to the gem. The gem itself began to grow brighter, and at the same time something began to happen to Fu dog, Lao Shi, and Jake. They began to feel week, their bodies beginning to fail under their own wait.

A third event was happening, on that Huntsmaster had not planned on. In a distant cave, lost in the forests of Europe, a tomb was beginning to open. Hidden behind a boulder, the tombs door began to open. From within, a figure clad in pure black robes began to shift out into the light. His eyes turned to the east, his senses locking on the magic that worked in the distance.

Huntsmaster laughed as he watched the ritual gain strength, its power flooding over the world. Rose watched in horror as Jake and his grandfather seemed to get weaker, as if the life was being sucked out of their bones. Jake forced himself up, looking up at the Huntsmaster as he said, "You haven't won yet Hunts-chump."

Rose rushed forward, trying to help Jake up, "Come on, we have to get you out of here?"

Jake shook his head, "No, Fu said this spell will kill all magical creatures in the world. There is no place to hide. I am sorry, but the Am-drag doesn't run from a fight." With that Jake used what little strength he had, spreading his wings as he took flight. The Huntsmaster turned, a fire of joy flashing in his eyes.

The Huntsmaster pulled out his laser spear, pointing the tip at Jake, "American Dragon, I shall enjoy taking your life myself."

"Yeah, and I am going to enjoy bringing you down again." Jake replied as he reached the top of the altar, blasting past the Huntsmaster. Then, in one fluid motion Jake turned around, fire blowing from his mouth as he hid himself from view. The Huntsmaster used his spear to slashed through the wall of fire. When the flames disappeared, Jake was no where to be seen.

The Huntsmaster looked around, his eyes searching as he called out, "Where are you dragon."

Jake rose up behind the Huntsmaster, wrapping his tail around Huntsmaster's ankle as he shouted, "I'm where I should be, in league all my own." With that Jake pulled the Huntsmaster of his feet, sending him crashing to the floor of the warehouse. Jake landed on the altar. After glancing back to make sure the Huntsmaster was down for the count, he turned to look at the Gem. His strength was beginning to fail, the magic in his body becoming so poisonous that it was overpowering.

Jake cringed, moving forward as he set his claws on the gem. The energy from the crystal began to burn, sending waves of pain through Jake's arms and body. Still, he began to throw everything he had. His strength and his will power, in to trying to pry the gem from the altar. Finally, the gem gave way and Jake fell back, tumbling halfway down the altar.

In an instant Lao Shi and Fu dog began to recover. Lao Shi groaned, holding his head as Fu dog said, "Man, that was worse then the time I went on the Titanic with the sugar cane of the pixies. That thing melted faster then an ice cream cone in Africa."

Rose ran forward, paying little mind to the Huntsmaster as she climbed the stairs to the altar. Halfway up the steps, Jake lay motionless with the gem held loosely in his claw. Rose dropped to her knees, picking Jake's head up with her hands as she said, "Jake, are you all right. Jake, say something."

Jake cringed, slowly opening his eyes, "Rose?"

Rose pulled off her mask, a smile on her face, "Jake, thank goodness you're all right."

Jake smiled, "What, you think a little gem is going to take out the Am-Drag."

Rose shook her head, but quickly turned when she heard footsteps coming up the stairs. The Huntsmaster held his side, nursing a few broken ribs as he limped up the stairs, using his spear as a cane, "I didn't want to believe it, but 88 and 89 were right. You have been consorting with the dragons. You have betrayed the Huntsclan, and for that there is only one punishment, death."

Rose would have stood up, she would have tried to fight the Huntsmaster, but she couldn't. Jake was still too weak, and if she left his side the Huntsmaster might take the opportunity to kill him. She had to stand her ground, at least long enough for Jake to get away.

The Huntsmaster stood up straight, ignoring the pain in his own body as he pointed the spear tip at Rose, "Still, before I deal your punishment I think it best to deal with another thorn in my side. The American Dragon." Before Rose could react the Huntsmaster launched his attack, using a green energy chains to bind her legs and arms. Then, with a firm hand the Huntsmaster pushed Rose away, forcing her down onto the steps as his eyes locked on the weakened form of the American Dragon.

Flashback End

Rose had struggled with all her might, trying to break free of the net. Lao Shi and Fu dog had even tried to save Jake, but the Huntsmaster had sent them crashing down to the floor before he could be stopped. Then, with the metal spear of technology glowing a bright green, the Huntsmaster finished it. He sent a surge of energy through Jake's body, electrifying his already weak heart to the point it burst within his own chest.

The Huntsmaster then turned, planning to kill Rose. Still, she didn't care at that point. She welcomed death, if it meant she could be with Jake. The net around her disappeared, and once again the Huntsmaster's spear began to glow with bright green energy. He raised the weapon up, a smile crossing his face as he said, "Death to the traitors, death to the magical creatures. With you and the American Dragon out of the way, no one will stop me."

The Huntsmaster began to swing the spear down, the metal cutting through the air as it drew closer and closer to its intended target. Then, from out of nowhere, the sound of clashing metal filled the room. The Huntsmaster froze, his eyes locking on the source of the sound. From the darkness in the warehouse, a sword slowly began to appear in thin air. It had blocked his attack. The sword continued to appear, but when its hilt came into view there was a hand holding it. From the hand an arm came into view, and soon a figure in a black cloak could be seen as the wielder off the sword.

The Huntsmaster growled, pulling his spear back as he shouted, "No one shall stop me now." The Huntsmaster attacked again, but once against the spear only met with the cloaked figures sword. The next instant the figure brought up his free hand, a sphere of energy forming in his palm before a beam of magic struck the huntsmaster in his chest, sending him sprawling.

The Huntsmaster crashed to the floor, knocked cold from the force of the attack. The figure stood silently, staring at the Huntsmaster before he turned to look at Jake and Rose. Rose stood up, wonder in her eyes as she saw the figure bend down, resting his hand on Jake's chest. His hand started to glow, a strange chanting filling the air of the warehouse. The cloaked figure then stood up, stepping back as Rose look up. Jake was breathing and his heart was beating. He was alive.

The figure turned to face Rose, unseen eyes locked with hers. The pair were silent for a few moments, and then the figure said, "Come, we have much to talk about." With that, the sword in the figures hand disappeared into thin air. He bent down, picking up the gem that had powered the ritual before snapping his fingers, making both him and rose disappear.

Jake groaned, his eyes slowly opening. Hovering above him, expressions of relief crossing their faces, was Lao Shi and Fu dog. Jake sat up, rubbing his head, "What happened?"

Fu dog sat back, scratching his ear as he said, "Long story short, you saved the day. Then, you were slain by the huntsmaster and brought back to life by some guy in a cloak."

Jake suddenly looked around with his eyes filled with worry, "Where is Rose?"

Lao Shi shook his head, "That, young dragon, we can't be sure. I can say, however, that she is in safe hands."

Jake stood up, still trying to recover from his near death encounter, "Why do you say that G."

"I recognized the person who saved both your life and hers. No one knows his true name, but everybody knows what he is?"

"And that is?"

Lao Shi sighed, changing into his dragon form. Jake soon followed, picking up Fu dog as the pair began to head back to New York. As they flew, Lao Shi told the story. In ancient times magic was an untamed force. Magical creatures did not have to hide, but were also much more feral. They relied on animal instincts, and had no true magic of their own. Even dragons, who were at least as cultured as the humans of the time, didn't have the ability to change into humans.

That changed when one man went about trying to discover the mysteries of magic. He discovered the words, techniques, hand signs, and written symbols that could bring magic to work. He also discovered that magic was a force not to be mastered, but to be channeled. In truth, all modern magic was still only the channeling of magic. Drawing on certain forces in the world to do certain things.

At the end of his life, the man offered himself to the magic he had studied. It was a very amazing gift, and one that the natural magic in the world accepted. The man was reborn, a creature of pure magic. He became the right hand of pure magic. He was immoral as long as there was a drop of magic in the world. He was also very mysterious, obeying the unheard call of the true magic in nature, in life, and in death.

As Lao Shi and Jake began to near the New York skyline, Lao Shi looked back and said, "The Master of Magic is almost never seen, coming out no more then once every five hundred years. I have no doubt that Rose is safe in his care, but there is no telling what the magic in the world has planned for her.