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The Guardian

Chapter 3

By Mark GagnonPublished 5 months ago 7 min read

Time affects both humans and dragons in much the same way. It drags us along entangled in its web until we can travel no longer. No matter how large or small, weak or strong, there is no defense against time. We simply must follow its lead. Alexander was no exception.

It was a cold winter night when Alexander celebrated his thirteenth birthday. His classmates had thrown him a party earlier in the day, but now he was alone with his thoughts, staring up at the stars.

“You’re right, my friend, they are beautiful,” said Draco, speaking to Alexander in his mind.

“Can you take me to visit them, Draco?”

“No, Alexander. Dragons are capable of many things, but flying to the stars is not one of them. Why do you want to visit them, anyway? Aren’t you happy at The Citadel?”

“You have asked me that same question on my birthday every year since you brought me here, and my answer has always been the same. Yes! The problem is, now that I’m thirteen, I feel as though there must be more. I don’t know what it is exactly, just more.”

Alexander sensed Draco’s sigh before he answered. “That question is asked by everyone at some point in their life, usually multiple times. There will always be more, just as long as you want there to be. Aetos and his compatriots are brilliant teachers. They will continue to train you until they feel you are ready to face the world on your own.”

“Aetos is teaching me magic, although he says magic doesn’t really exist. It’s just the ability to control objects with your mind. Lonnie teaches me how to fight. I’ve already beaten kids much older than me. Leandros teaches me practical things. Because of him, I can read, write, and do math. It’s not as much fun as my other lessons, but I know they’re all important if I want to destroy the Beast Masters.”

Once again, Draco paused before speaking. “Are you sure that’s what you want to do? They have been around for many years and are well versed in the art of war.”

“But do they have dragons?” asked Alexander. “I know we could defeat them if we worked together.”

“I’m not sure what you’re suggesting is possible. What has Aetos told you about the Beast Masters and where they came from?”

“We never speak about them,” Alexander replied. “Aetos says I’m not ready to know about them yet, but I think he’s wrong. You can tell me, can’t you?”

“No, my friend. That is a job for Aetos, not me. For now, it’s still your birthday! Return to the stars and your dreams of the future. We will talk again soon.”

Alexander returned to connecting the stars with imaginary lines and creating intricate designs. Soon fatigue overtook him and he turned in for the evening. Having a restful sleep was not in the cards for him that night. Alexander had nightmares about Beast Masters and the Army of the Soulless. He awoke with a start when he felt a hand on his shoulder gently shaking him.

“Leo, what are you doing?” said a groggy Alexander to his roommate.

“You were tossing and turning so much, I thought you were going to fall out of bed. What were you dreaming about?”

“Jikininki and Beast Masters.”

“Oh, that’s right, you’ve seen them, haven’t you?”

“Yes, I have Leo, and don’t you find it strange that no one in The Citadel besides me has seen them? Everyone here acts like they don’t exist. I wonder why that is, don’t you?”

“Now that you mention it, that does seem strange. Maybe we should ask the instructors,” Leo replied.

“I have, but all any of them say is, ‘when you’re older.’ I don’t understand what being older has to do with anything. Tomorrow, after class, I’m going to search for some answers. Do you want to come with me, Leo?”

“Yes, this will be fun. I always thought becoming an inquisitor would be interesting. Where will we start?”

“I think we should start from the bottom and work our way up. Tomorrow, we search the tunnels.”

“Alexander, the tunnels are off-limits for everyone, including the adults. We could get in a lot of trouble if we go down there.”

“That’s exactly why we need to start by exploring them. I think the elders are hiding something and I’m going to find out what it is. Of course, if you’re too scared to go, Leo, I’ll understand,” said Alexander sarcastically, giving his friend a little shove.

“My name means I have the heart of a lion. I’m not afraid of anything,” He returned Alexander’s push.

The next afternoon, both boys told their instructors they had assigned chores to finish from the previous day and had to leave early. They met in the stables and gathered up a few tools, just in case a problem arose. It took a little over half an hour for them to reach the mouth of the first tunnel.

It seemed impossible, but the sunlight could not penetrate the tunnel opening. Undaunted, they ignited the two lanterns from the stable and stepped into the blackness.

“Did you feel that, Alexander?”

“I did! Whatever it was made my whole body tingle. There is something spooky about this place. We need to keep our eyes open.”

The boys moved forward cautiously, holding their lanterns high. Further into the tunnel, the temperature dropped. A thin coating of ice covered the rock walls, reflecting the lantern light. The increased light made it possible to see movement at the other end of the tunnel. Neither boy had ever seen such a strange-looking beast. It had the body of a dragon complete with wings, but instead of a well-defined dragon head, octopus tentacles slithered and squirmed from where a mouth should be. Above the tentacles sat two beady eyes. Instead of fire, the creature exhaled a bone-chilling icy blast of air.

Alexander’s first thought was to run, which is what Leo was already doing, but Draco’s voice immediately took command.

“Remember your training, Alexander. Use your mind to control him. Leo will need to help if you want to survive.”

“Leo, I need your help! Remember, you have the courage of a lion. We can control the beast with our minds just as we’ve been trained. Please, Leo, we can do this.”

Leo stopped running and returned to where Alexander stood. Together, they used the power of their combined minds not to control the creature’s mind, but to build a shield of energy across the tunnel. The mental force field repelled the beast as though it was made of rock. It was a standoff. The Cthulhu couldn’t break through the shield, but every time the boys moved back, the shield weakened.

From out of nowhere, a second, more powerful shield appeared. From behind them, the boys heard Aetos command, “Leave now boys, we’ll take it from here.” Without hesitation, the friends bolted for the tunnel’s exit. A short time later, the two teachers emerged.

“Thank you for rescuing us. I’m not sure how much longer we could have stopped him,” said Alexander.

“How did you know where we were and that we needed help?” asked Leo.

“You breached the security field at the entrance,” answered Lonnie.

“Also, our mutual friend told me,” Aetos whispered to Alexander.

Then, addressing both boys, Aetos said, “I hope you both have learned your lesson. We have established limitations on what you can do and where you can go for a reason. Only a fully grown person has the physical and mental powers to combat the evils in the world. That should be clear to both of you now. Your time will come, maybe sooner than you think. Now let’s go back to The Citadel.”

Outwardly, Alexander agreed with everything Aetos said, but in his mind, he needed to find and destroy the Beast Masters. Draco listened to his thoughts and knew this was inevitable.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling around the US and the globe. Now it's time to draw on these experiences and create what I hope are interesting fictional stories. Only you, the reader, can tell me if I've achieved my goal.

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