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I woke up feeling a bit dazed. I didn’t think I had gotten so much sleep in a long time. I nearly stumbled out of the carriage, feeling a bit dizzy.
“Where is-” I rubbed my head in confusion.
There was a conversation I had been listening to. A lot of it didn’t make sense to me, but part of me had been convinced it was important. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember a single word!
“Little miss, you’re still here? We arrived a few hours ago.” One of the men from earlier was there, seeming surprised to see me jump out of the carriage.
“Really?” I nearly jumped.
I started to remember the agreement I had made with one of Carver’s men. I quickly stood up on a wagon, looking around and wishing I was ten feet tall. As the man said, the camp had already been settled. The only difference was the location. We appeared to be in a valley. There was a tall hill to one side and a large body of water with beaches to the other. The tall hill must have been the place he was talking about.
I gave the soldier a wave and started running. He might have shouted something, but I didn’t wait to hear. I was supposed to have been there an hour or two prior, and I ended up sleeping instead. As I raced up the hill, I started to see a large fortress in the distance. I realized that it must have been the place where Master was located. I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed with emotion as I looked at it.
A hand grabbed my wrist, and the next moment I was being yanked down to the ground. It was only then that I saw the young man from last night. He looked a lot more haggard like he hadn’t slept since our conversation.
“What-” I tried to ask but he put a hand over my mouth.
“They don’t know we’ve arrived. If the fortress got wind of the army, they’d already be getting ready.” The young man hissed.
At that moment, I could hear distant bells. His face turned white, and the pair of us turned to look at the fortress. Their alarm bells were going off. Soldiers were lining the walls, and the drawbridge was being shut. I instantly felt guilty. I should have been careful. I couldn’t believe I had caused all of this! That’s what I was thinking, but a few moments later I saw a group coming out of the forest directly across from the fortress.
It was a large army of people. Some of them appeared to be commoners, but there were a few armored men scattered throughout. These men were wearing the same armor as our troops. I was a bit confused. I heard a distant shout.
“For General Dravik!”
I pulled my face away from the young man’s hand as I stared at the group fighting. “Those men…”
“They’re trying to break in and save General Dravik, yes.” The young man spoke impatiently, still holding my hand as if I might run off.
“Is this part of Carver’s plan?”
“As if!” He snorted like I had made a joke. “Don’t worry about them. They don’t matter.”
He tugged on my arm, but I was still staring at them. Their forces had a decent number, but they were no match against the fortress. Although they outnumbered the ones protecting the wall, they lacked any reliable means of scaling the wall. They were seemingly trapped at the base of it, dodging arrow fire from above.
“Don’t matter… we need to help them.” I declared, leaning forward. “We need to save them!”
They were trying to save General Dravik. They were trying to save Master. That meant that they were allies we could trust.
“Enough!” The young man seemed to be growing upset. “They have nothing to do with us, Azure. We’re what matters. You and me! That’s why we’re leaving.”
“Leaving?” I frowned, pulling my hand away from his. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I am your Master.” He snapped. “You do what I say! Now, you will leave with me.”
He reached out and grabbed me. I was standing at that point and trying to back away. He grabbed my shoulder tightly and squeezed them. He seemed to have a fervent look in his eyes that scared me a bit.
“Stop! Get off of me. We need to help those people.” I tried to pull away.
“Shut up!” He spat. “Shut up! You will come with me, one way or the other! If you don’t, ugh!”
Before I realized what I was doing, my foot came up. I kicked him right between the legs. Sometimes, when I got rough down there, the men would overreact. It gave me the idea, what if I just hit it at full power? He let out a shout, bending over and groaning. I then shoved him, and he tapered over. He started to fall down the hill, rolling back in the direction of the camp.
I had just attacked one of my masters. I felt fear and confusion, but most of all, I just wanted to save Master. He was down there in that fort. He was close enough that I should be able to save him. If I went back to camp, I would only be punished more. My hands went to my leash and collar still wrapped around my neck. They tightened for a moment and then I let go. I started running in the other direction. I had to save Master, no matter what.
As I ran down the other mountain, I was heading directly for the fight. I didn’t have any ability. I didn’t have my dragon parts. I wasn’t even a particularly good fighter. However, I had to save Master any way I could, and these people were saving him. I ran toward them, only realizing how far they had been as I started the long trek toward them. I ended up down in a stream with an impassible cliff on the other side. I had no choice but to follow the stream, splashing as I ran.
The stream led around, ending up in the forest the army had emerged from and coming out of the direction where they had to lead their charge. I realized both the military advantage that this fortress had on the terrain surrounding it and why these guys had charged directly on rather than attempting a better maneuver. Simply put, unless you could fly or float, there was no other way to approach this fortress except the forest.
After what felt like forever, but was probably less than a half hour, I came out from the forest. The men were still battling, although many of them had fallen and it was clear which direction the battle was going.
“Haaaaa!” I heard a voice let out a gasp.
I turned to see someone with several arrows in them. They had been running back to the forest but had ended up falling there. They were seemingly on their last breaths, and I had disturbed them as I trounced by. As I kneeled to deliver aid, I couldn’t help but gasp as I recognized the face.
“Azure…” The young boy smiled slightly. “I didn’t think… I’d ever see you again.”
This was the young boy I had slept with, the one who used to escort me to the commander’s tent. He was supposed to be dead.
“I don’t understand. Carver said you died.”
He shook his head, a pained look in his eyes. “Carver lied. He betrayed General Dravik. He betrayed all of us. I overheard… hah… I overheard them talking. They planned to murder the returning lieutenants so their rule wouldn’t be threatened. They planned… agh… they planned to let Dravik die.”
I could understand the words he was saying, but my mind didn’t want to accept them. Carver was Dravik’s most trusted advisor. How could he want the other man dead?
“Don’t talk.” I tried to soothe him, although I didn’t know what to do.
“I… I warned them… in time… we fled… scoured the countryside for help… I don’t… I don’t think it’s enough.”
“You warned them? Not the lieutenant?”
“Lieutenant?” He blinked, and when I shook my head he smiled. “I’m just glad… I can… die… seeing your face, one last time.”
“Please, wait… no.” I looked into my small draw bag looking for something to help, but I realized there was nothing there.
When I looked back up, he was staring blankly ahead. My body shook, and my eyes burned red. I reached out and touched his cheek, but he was cold to the touch.
“Azure, you’ve worried us dearly. Get back over here. You mustn’t risk your life in such dubious affairs.” A voice came from the forest.
I looked up to see a dozen men on horseback. Carver was sitting on the fattest steed with a displeased look on his face. The other eight “masters” were there, but the one I had pushed down a hill was mysteriously absent.
“We need to help these people,” I spoke loudly.
“It’s not part of the plan.” Carver sighed, shaking his head.
“If you had come to the command tent instead of listening to that… betrayer’s orders, you would know.”
He always had an answer for everything. I could hear the rage in his voice for who he called a betrayer. I had a feeling the man I kicked in the nuts would never have to worry about such things again.
“And when will this plan take effect?” I asked. “After Master is dead?”
“My dear, I don’t know who you’ve been listening to. I am your Master.”
“General Dravik is my master!” I snarled.
“General Dravik is dead,” He responded.
I felt like my heart had been punched. I stumbled a bit.
“Yes… they crucified him last night. Tied him to a cross, him and all of his subordinates. They’re letting the crows feast on them as we speak.” He spoke with a grim voice.
“That… can’t… no…” I collapsed to my knees.
My purpose was gone. I was Master’s dragon, and before I could even turn into a dragon once, Master was gone. However, when I thought of Darwin’s death, the pain was even sharper. They were all dead now. Everyone was dead.
“Go grab her before she gets hurt,” Carver spoke with disgust.
The two who dismounted and started approaching me were the two lieutenants. It was the bald man and the bearded man. They had stony looks on their faces as they walked toward me. My mind was a jumbled mess.
“This… is… your… fault…” I muttered quietly.
“What is that?” Carver demanded. “Speak up for your Master.”
“This is your fault!” I snapped angrily.
He let out a pompous laugh. “I did everything in my power to save General Dravik. I’m just his poor little strategist. He didn’t follow my plans. He thought he was above them. That caused him to get caught. That caused him to die! However, me, that poor little strategist, managed to keep his army together. Managed to take back the fortress. I even got his dragon to submit. Maybe, if I can do all that, I’m the real General after all.”
The men grabbed my arms, pulling me away from the dead body at my feet, pulling me away from Dravik. I could feel so many emotions inside me. They boiled like an oven. The bald one, always cruel, pulled my leash, choking me to force me to move forward. I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t need any breathing. I felt a power, and immense power broiling inside me. It was erupting out. It wanted to release it all. There was anger, hate, sorrow, despair, and so much more. My body trembled.
“Let go of me!” I shouted, pulling out of their grips.
The two men were shocked for a moment, but then their shock turned to rage.
“Shut up! Quit being obstinate.”
“You dumb slut, stop it!”
The bald man reached out to grab me again. I just wanted him to go away. I threw out my palm, trying to shove him away. My hand moved cleanly, and the man stopped with a jerk, looking a bit surprised. His eyes wandered down. His arms fell from his shoulders, completely detached. A moment later, the rest of his upper torso fell with it.
I looked over to see my hand covered in blood. It had scales and claws and looked five times larger than it should. The bearded man let out a scream, drawing his sword. He struck at me. I lifted my other hand. It rose smoothly too. There was a clatter as his blade hit the ground. His right arm followed it as well.
“Kill her!” Carver shouted.
The men he brought with him surged forth, but at that moment, the energy within me erupted, and I let out a roar. The horses that had been running suddenly stopped. Some of them began to buck, kick and rear as they threw their riders away before fleeing in terror. They all seemed to be shrinking. No, they weren’t shrinking. I was growing!
The bearded lieutenant was on the ground holding his missing arm while desperately trying to crawl away. I brought out a single claw and poked him. His head blew up like a pimple. I heard shouts and crying as other soldiers were running. I looked to see where Carver was, but he had already run away. There was no sign of him or his horse.
I didn’t care about Carver though. All I cared about was Master. I turned away from them and then began storming toward the gate. The walk might have taken ten minutes in my normal form, but up there, it barely took a minute. As I rapidly approached, all of the fightings seemed to have stopped. The men on top of the wall merely gaped in horror. The men below ran for cover.
I let out a roar of anger and anguish, my clawed fist slamming into the door. It exploded into splinters. I pulled back, ripping the door straight from its hinges before tossing it away. It flew off into the distance. I looked down, and my eyes met one man I recognized as one of the lieutenants that had served with Dravik and were branded a traitor by Carver. We made eye contact for a moment. He raised his hand and saluted with respect. I snorted and then ran through the door.
“Men! Attack!” He bellowed behind me.
Any soldier who got in my way was swatted away. They all went flying, most dying instantly. Those that survived were in too much shock and fear to even resist as the soldiers came behind and cleaned them up. For me, though, my eyes were aimed at a line of crosses in the back. I climbed up to them cutting them down one after another. I quickly realized that they were still alive, and hope surged through me. I finally reached Master only to find whole. I picked him out with a level of carefulness I didn’t think was possible with those massive hands. My senses were sharp, so much sharper than when I was a human. Although he appeared unconscious, I could hear his heartbeat and see his breath. I was no doctor, but just by looking, I could see he would recover.
Just as I put him down, though, my eyes landed on Darwin. He looked to have been beaten far more than Dravik, and it didn’t look like he was breathing. With panic, I cut him down and put him on the ground. He grew in my hands, or it was better to say I shrank. I was back into a naked girl crying as I held on to Darwin. I didn’t know why I was so upset over him. Dravik was my master, but Dravik looked to be okay. If Darwin died though, I felt like it’d almost be as bad as if Dravik died.
A tear fell from my eyes, they landed on Darwin. He suddenly gasped, his eyes opening as he let in a breath.
“Azure?” He asked with a whisper.
“Darwin!” I thought I’d stop crying if he was alright, but somehow, I could only cry harder.
I had done it. I had saved them both. After that month of hell, I had finally become the woman I was meant to be.
Watching me fret, Darwin let out a pained laugh. “A pretty girl crying over a man, such a scene is lost on a Eunuch like me… wait… what are you wearing?”
It was at that point I realized I was naked, only having what didn’t break off during the transformation. I began to panic, trying to find clothing to cover me. Darwin let out a few pained laughs. Neither of us knew that Dravik had awoken, and he was watching us with an indescribable light in his eyes.