MakiaVi: The Frozen King
Book one of the “MakiaVi” series
By: Enro Shiva
Edion sat in the corner of the large carriage. The white canvas walls were covered in magical runes that glowed a bright blue. He had hoped to get some rest but the path through the forest made the ride quite rough. Each time he dozed off, the carriage would jolt him awake. The other new members chattered away as the ice dragon curled up in his white jacket. A blue dragon with black hair, wearing a sleeveless shirt spoke. “What have you guys heard about the training?” A wave of rumors washed across the carriage.
“I hear they make you fight a dragon slayer on your first day!”
“My brother told me they make you talk to the dead.”
“They say the only food you get, is what you kill.”
A small sky dragon with beige scales rose from his seat with his nose turned up in the air. “That’s preposterous. My father would never send me to such a fate. It’s all just stories made to scare us.”
Edion felt his seat jump unnaturally. He looked over to see the blue dragon sitting next to him grinning ear to ear. “What do you think we will learn?” Burlik asked. “Surely you have heard something as well.”
Edion pushed his blue hair out of his eyes. The sea dragon was much larger than Edion. Even at their seated position, he towered over Edion. The ice dragon cleared his throat. “Combat most likely. We’ll definitely need it.” Edion looked the sky dragon up and down. He wore a red silk doublet with golden trim. Around his neck was a gold pendant with a large emerald in the center. His golden hair expertly groomed and his white scales were shining. Edion scoffed. “Some of us need it more than others.”
“What’s that?” The sky dragon growled. “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?” His threat was undercut by his high-pitched voice.
“A dragon slayer’s next trophy?” Edion teased.
A few laughs surfaced from the recruits. Leon’s face tightened. “Just one word to my father and he’ll have your head on a spike!”.
Edion wasn’t sure if it was the lack of sleep or Leon’s horrid voice that set him off. Either way, the fuse was lit. “It will be hard to tell him without any teeth!” Edion yelled as he rose to meet Leon face to face. Edion’s cold teal eyes shot into Leon’s emerald gaze. Leon turned away with a scoff and sat down. Edion grumbled as he returned to his seat. For a while, the carriage was in absolute silence save for the creaking of the wheels.
“In any case, we are in for some tough times.” The words came from Zan, a tall dragon with fire red hair and scales as black as coal. He smiled as he spoke. “My siblings told me that teamwork is what gets us through this. Let’s at least try to get along here.” Edion and Leon glared at each other before quickly turning their heads away. Zan rubbed the back of his head. “We’ll work on that.”
The carriage came to a stop. “Everyone out!” yelled a strong voice from the outside. Each of the trainees slowly one by one. Once outside, they were greeted with a massive stone wall that stood at least a hundred feet high. The wall stretched endlessly through the forest and housed a smaller steel gate that was open to welcome its guests. Within the walls lived a vibrant city filled with tall elaborate towers above and busy shops below. People from all walks of life rushed between the buildings as hundreds of dragons flew overhead.
“Welcome to the MakiaVi.” The greeting came from a red-headed dragon in a long red coat who shared Zan’s black scales and blood red eyes. He gave them a warm grin as he introduced himself. “I am Brakon Flaman. I will be your instructor for the next few weeks.”
Burlik tilted his head with a curious look on his face. “If this is the dragon society, why are there so many other different species living here?”
“A good question.” Brakon replied. “The MakiaVi focuses on protecting innocent dragons from all threats. We seek to make peace between us and all other species. Many others share this vision and wish to help in any way possible. In this fight, we cannot afford to be picky about where we accept it.”
His words only scratched the surface of the true nature of the conflict. Centuries ago, dragons ruled majority of the continent of Dreven through their overwhelming strength. Many abused this power, claiming land as their own and slaughtering those who opposed them. Eventually the citizens stood up to these tyrants and order was restored. However, the damage was already dealt. Soon after, an organization of dragon slayers ravaged the land. They claimed most of the western provinces and locked their borders. The MakiaVi was created in an attempt to mend the country’s division and save what dragons they could from the clutches of the dragon slayers.
Brakon continued. “In any case, I hope you all will settle in nicely. I’m sure you will-” He froze in his tracks. “Zan? Zan, is that you?” Brakon trotted up to Zan and put a hand on top of his matching red hair. “My you have grown.” But not enough to compete with Brakon. He stood a good amount taller than Zan even though he was one of the tallest of the six new recruits. “How is mom doing?” Brakon added while giving Zan’s hair a slight tussle.
“She’s fine!” Zan shouted as he smacked Brakon’s hand away. “Don’t you have a job to do?”
“Right, right.” Brakon grinned with a hint of red in his cheeks. He cleared his throat and gestured to the city. “Now then, if you will all follow me, I will show you around.”
“Excuse me!” Leon shouted in a snobbish tone. “Where are the servants to carry our things?” He pointed to a large pile bags and a massive chest sitting next to the carriage.
“Oh, well you are going to have to carry those yourself.”
Leon gasped. “Carry my own bags?”.
Brakon rolled his eyes. “We have to get moving so figure it out. Everyone else, let’s go.” The trainees walked past Leon as he struggled to move the chest. Some of even them giggled at him on their way by. Edion made sure to give Leon a smug grin as he passed by with his light backpack.
“Ten Gold to anyone who helps me with this!” Leon yelled while pulling on the handle. It had not moved an inch since he started. It weighed more than twice as much as the small sky dragon. The top of it went past his chest. Most of them ignored his offer and followed Brakon into the city. Midway through his struggling, a shadow casted over him. He looked up to see a large dragon three times his height with tan scales and short brown hair. Her face was still and emotionless, as if it were carved of stone.
“Oh, yes perfect. Could you help me with this?” Leon asked. She stared at him with a blank expression on her face. Leon tilted his head to the side. “Can you understand me?” She extended her hand towards him. “Oh, you want the money. Of course.” Leon reached into his jacket and put ten gold pieces in her hand. She shoved them in her pocket and lifted the chest onto her shoulder. With her other hand, she grabbed the rest of his bags and started to walk into the city. “Yes, well then...good work.” Leon said following closely behind.
The city’s sounds were an ensemble of clanging metal and chaotic chatter. Busy people ran around between the stores and stands. The street was filled with vendors announcing the quality of their wares. Near the center of the city stood a massive ornate tower with dragons flying in and out of it constantly.
“What is that building?” Edion asked.
“That is the deployment center.” Brakon replied. When you are ready, that is where you will go to receive your missions.”
“What type of missions do they give?” Burlik asked.
“It all depends on your rank. New D rank members like you often do minor scouting within our borders, small investigations and escort jobs. The ranks increase to C, B, A and finally S.”
“What rank are you?” Edion asked.
Brakon smiled. “Currently I’m rank C. Most of my time was spent scouting out dragon slayer bases until I volunteered to teach you guys.” Brakon stopped the group in front of a run down apartment building. Patches of paint were missing along the walls and a broken window was in sight on the third floor. The sound of intense fighting and yelling came from the inside. “You will all be sharing rooms in this class D housing complex.” As Brakon said that, one of the apartment’s residents was thrown out of a window on the fourth floor. The trainees shielded themselves from the shards of glass.
The victim stopped himself in midair. “I’ll get you for that!” he yelled before flying back into the window he was thrown from.
“Seems pretty lively.” Zan said.
Edion brushed the broken glass off of his jacket. “Beats living at home.”
Leon and his helper caught up with the group. Edion sneered at Leon as he approached them. The sky dragon’s face twisted in disgust as he analyzed the dilapidated building. “You clearly do have servants. Who else would live in such an awful place?”
“Well you will be, for a now at least.” Brakon said.
Leon tossed his nose in the air. “Unacceptable! I refuse to live in such a horrid conditions.”
“I hate to agree with him.” Bellatrix said. She was an eastern dragon with purple scales and silver hair. She wore a black one piece outfit with a matching cloak draped across her shoulders. “This place does seem pretty run down. Is there any other place to live?”.
Brakon sighed. “Well there are upper class dwellings but-”
Leon clapped his hands together. “Great! How much to upgrade to those?”
Brakon scratched the back of his head. “Well, we don’t exactly sell housing. Members are placed according to their contributions to the MakaiVi. Once you rank up, you will be able to request a new home.”
Leon’s gritted his teeth. “I’m sure you know my family’s power. Think very carefully about denying me again.”
Brakon folded his arms. “Your threats mean nothing here. The MakiaVi operates outside the power of any kingdom. Your blood can be that of a lord or a farmer. In here, you are all the same.”
Leon’s eye twitched as he clenched his fists. Hints of red appeared in the beige scales surrounding his cheeks. “I will not stand for this! I refuse to be treated as some common peasant!”
The energy left Brakon’s face. “Are you refusing a command from your instructor?”
“Yes! I refuse to participate in this garbage! I want to leave right now!”
Brakon sighed. “I am sorry to hear that.” He pushed back his blood red coat to reveal a steel longsword attached to his belt. The handle was black with a red gem in the hilt. “The only way one leaves the MakiaVi... is in death.” Brakon pulled out his blade and pointed the tip at Leon’s neck.
“You...you wouldn’t dare.” Leon muttered, shaking at the sight of the weapon. The rest of the trainees just looked on in horror, not daring to say anything in protest lest they be next. Edion had a slight grin on his face. That was fast. He thought to himself.
“I had hope for you.” Brakon said as he pressed the blade onto Leon’s throat. The sword was oddly warm to the touch. It was almost hot enough to burn Leon’s skin. “I guess I was wrong.” As the words left Brakon’s mouth, a smirk formed on it. Soon after, Brakon began snickering. The small chuckle turned into uncontrollable laughter. The trainees looked at each other in confusion. Edion sighed as his grin faded.
The black scales on Brakon’s face had a hint of red by the time he began talking. “Dammit. I tried to keep a straight face but I just couldn’t do it.” Brakon sheathed his blade, put his hands on Leon’s shoulders and knelt to meet him at eye level. “Listen. This is about something bigger than you. There will be many times out there where you will need to make some tough decision to save lives. Sometimes that means doing things you may not want to do. If you refuse to learn that, then you truly do not have any place being here. Do you understand?” Leon wiped a tear from his eye and nodded his head. Brakon jumped to his feet. “Alright then! If there are no more objections, here are your housing assignments. Edion and Zan, room 303. Leon and Burlik, room 304. Bellatrix and Tereen, room 305. Settle in and meet me in the lobby in a few minutes.”
The damage on the outside was only a taste of what was on the inside. Every other wall had a large hole in it. Scorch marks covered the floors. Icicles coated the ceiling. Boulders sat in random places throughout. Edion touched one of the burn marks in the hallway. “Is this a house or a battlefield?”
“Looks like fun.” Zan said grinning. Even as they spoke, there were residents fighting in the halls and being tossed in between rooms.
Edion grabbed onto one of the combatants. “Why is everyone fighting in here?”
The red-scaled dragon looked back at Edion. “We gotta practice somehow.” The dragon flew out of Edion’s grasp and clashed with a green-scaled dragon.
Edion continued down the hall. “Not the answer I was expecting.” The six new recruits moved up to the third floor to find their rooms. They had all the basics. Two wooden beds, matching dressers and a single window sat opposite the door. Edion and Zan’s unit seemed relatively untouched compared to what was seen in the hallways.
“Oh, where are my manners.” Edion said. He extended his hand to Zan. “My name is Edion Xarzith.”
Zan gave it a firm shake. “Zan Flaman. Nice to meet you.” Being this close to Zan, Edion was more aware of their height difference. Zan stood a good foot and a half taller than him with Edion’s head only reaching the middle button of his red vest.
Zan tossed his bag onto one of the beds. “Judging from your jacket, you must be from the Zekul province to the north. You don’t need to worry about staying warm down here.”
Edion smiled. “Actually, it does the opposite.” He pointed to a magic symbol on the shoulder of his white jacket. “This enchantment keeps the wearer at a cool five degrees regardless of the conditions. Without it, I doubt I could stand this southern heat.”
Zan’s face lit up. “I’ve never heard of a spell like that before. It must have cost you a fortune.” Zan ran his hands through the soft blue fur that lined Edion’s jacket.
Edion shook his head. “It’s actually a family heirloom. It’s been in my family for almost ten thousand years now.” Edion pointed to the fur. “This lining is made from the hair of all the previous owners. It’s connection to my ancestors keeps the magic strong after all these years.”
Zan jerked his hand away and wiped it on his pants. “That’s nice.” he said with a forced grin. He turned back to his bed and opened up his bag.
Edion put his backpack on the other bed and began unpacking. “Where are you from?”
“I actually live right here in the Bravia province.” Zan replied. “My house is only about thirty miles west of here.”
“That’s great! Did you join to be like your brother?”
Zan chuckled. “Like him? No. I will surpass him in no time. I’m aiming for something much higher.” As Edion opened his mouth to question Zan further, he heard a light knock at the door.
Bellatrix poked her head in. “Come on guys. We have to get going.” Edion and Zan walked through the chaos of the halls and back to the lobby on the first floor. Tereen stood next to Brakon in silence. Leon and Burlik arrived soon after. Leon went on about his family tree without letting Burlik get a word in at all. Burlik did not seem to mind though.
Zan gave Brakon and ostentatious bow. “What is our first lesson oh wise master?”
Brakon chuckled at the gesture. “Actually, we need to get your weapons first. Follow me. I will show you to the armory.” As they walked through the MakiaVi, the trainees had an opportunity to fully appreciate its beautiful architecture. It was as if the entire city was finely chiseled from one enormous block of marble. Every building was equally spaced, each with unique designs carved into its walls.
Bellatrix turned to her new roommate. “Where are you from?” she asked. Tereen left her in silence. She had barely acknowledged Bellatrix’s existence since they arrived. “How about music? Any favorites?” Tereen ignored her. “What do you think of the stone buildings? Pretty cool right?”
Tereen shifted her eyes down at Bellatrix. “Yes.” she said devoid of emotion.
Bellatrix mumbled, “It’s not much but a start.” Brakon stopped in front of a small white building with a red roof. At the door were two guards dressed in full suits of armor with giant halberds in their hands. Brakon walked up to them and moved the collar of his jacket to reveal a complicated tattoo with several strange symbols on his neck. The guards moved aside to allow Brakon and his group to enter. Inside the building, a female dragon with dark red scales and black hair sat behind a desk doing paperwork.
Brakon strutted up to the front desk with a smile. “Afternoon Sharra.”
Sharra did not look up from her work. “Zan.” As she put down her pen, Sharra looked at the recruits and chuckled. “Never thought I would see you teaching. Sign here.” She handed him a form on a clipboard.
He signed it and turned to his students. “Alright kids. Let’s get you armed.” He lead them through the door that sat next to the desk. Inside was a large room with ornate maroon banners hanging on the walls and gold statues of dragons under them. Nothing else was in the room except a steel chest sitting on a wooden table.
“Is that it?” Burlik asked.
Brakon rested his hand on the chest. “Yep! Everything we need is right in here. This chest is magically connected Drava, the Hero’s Haven. When a great warrior dies in combat, they can either decide to rest or pass their knowledge onto future generations.”
Burlik whispered to Leon, “I told you that they made you talk to the dead.”
Brakon walked around the table and stood behind the chest. “When they come back to our world, their souls manifest as the weapon they used in life. They will be your combat instructors and partners for as long as you live. Any questions?” All of the trainees’ hands shot up in the air. “None? Alright then. Good luck!” With that, Brakon opened the chest and a bright blue light shone from inside it. The trainees shielded their eyes from the blinding light. It was as if contained the sun itself. Brakon slammed the chest shut. When the students regained their vision, they looked to see that they were all grasping decorative weapons of the highest quality. Each of the weapons were covered in magical symbols. Edion looked at his hands and saw that they were empty. Instead, he was now wearing a pair of blue fingerless gloves with magical circles on the backs of them. Brakon walked towards his students. “Now that everyone is armed, let’s-”
“Wait!” Edion said, waving his hand. “There must be some mistake. Why does everyone else have weapons and I just get gloves?”
Brakon walked over and inspected Edion’s gloves. “Interesting. You don’t see many of these.”
“How am I supposed to fight with gloves?”
“Ask them.” Brakon replied curtly as he turned back to address the rest of the trainees. “I want you all to take the day to communicate with your weapons. They all have much to teach you and you have much to learn. We will meet again tomorrow at dawn. You are all dismissed.”
Edion decided to sit in the garden behind the class D dining hall. He let out a deep sigh as he stared at the gloves. “So, how am I supposed to use you?”
A deep voice came from the right glove. “People usually start with introductions before asking questions.”
A lighter, more feminine voice came from the left glove. “Yes. Where did you learn your manners?”
Edion was taken back by the response. He quickly corrected his mistake. “Please excuse me. My name is Edion Xarzith. I hail from the Zekul province in the north.”
The right glove glowed. “Zekul? I have not heard of this place before.”
The left glove answered. “Idiot. He speaks of our home, Zephim. Must you dragons rename everything?”
Edion looked at the magic circles on the gloves. “Now that I have introduced myself, what should I call you two?”
The left glove glowed as it spoke. “I am Liara Serba.”
“I am Lien Serba.” said the right glove.
“We are the Serba twins of Zephim.” They said in unison.
Edion gasped. “The Serba twins?! You two single-handedly won the War of a Thousand Winters.”
“Is that what they are teaching you?” Liara asked.
“He’s not that far off sister.” Lien responded.
“I would hardly call an army of a hundred ‘single-handed’.”
“Against ten thousand it’s quite impressive.”
“It’s still historically inaccurate to say we did it alone.”
Edion jumped in excitement at their words. “Oh I can’t wait to tell the others about this!”
“Enough!” Liara said. “We have a job to do.”
Edion regained his composure. “Sorry. So tell me, how do I use you two to fight?”
Lien glowed. “As you know, we fought mainly using hand to hand combat.”
“We technically used steel gauntlets with claws.” Liara corrected.
“Yes but the technique was grounded in martial arts. In any case, manifestation of our style came in the form of these gauntlets. To summon them, shout out our names and they will appear.”
Edion saw Leon and Bellatrix walking through the garden talking to their own weapons. Edion ran up to them. “Hey guys! Check it out! My weapons have the spirits of the Serba twins!”
Bellatrix thought for a second “Oh yeah. Those were the wolf twins right? Interesting. My weapon’s spirit is that of the snow leopard samurai Xi Huan. He took down a thousand opponents in one day to bring peace to my entire home province of Chinmae.”
Leon scoffed. “That’s nothing. Mine is that of the lion prince Kaldor Regnas. He dueled his way up to the throne at the age of twelve. His skills have no equal.”
“Would you care to test that?” Edion asked.
Leon laughed. “We will make short work of you and those ratty gloves.”
“Ratty?” Liara and Lien yelled in unison.
“Looks like I’ve struck a nerve.” Leon said in a mocking tone.
Leon’s rapier glowed. A deep voice rang from it. “Let’s make this quick. I would rather not linger with the commoners.”
Edion smiled. “I will be more than happy to oblige.” He raised his arms in front of him making an x with his forearms. “Howl, Liara and Lien!” The deafening howl of two wolves came from the gloves and echoed through the air. A pair of steel gauntlets appeared on his hands. They had razor sharp claws on the fingertips and grey fur around the arms. “Are you ready?” Edion teased.
Leon lifted his rapier. “Bring it on.”
Edion flew towards Leon with a punch ready to go. As Edion swung, Leon blocked with his rapier. The sound of clanging steel resonated throughout the garden. They both began attacking and dodging with such calculated precision that it almost seemed like a rehearsed dance. Each glancing blow that one landed was a misstep for the other. Much of the surrounding foliage fell victim to their flurry of attacks. The flowers were shredded to pieces and the trees were covered in cuts. Some of the other class D members began to crowd around the combatants, hearing the familiar sounds of conflict. Edion took a swipe at Leon with the claws, just barely catching the sleeve of his red jacket. The entire sleeve was reduced to scraps.
“You will pay for that!” Leon yelled as he thrusted his rapier. Edion jolted back several feet. He dragged his claws on the ground to stop himself, tearing the grass and flowers right out of their roots. Leon pressed on with a barrage of attacks. Edion dodged most of them with only a few glancing blows catching him. As he backed up, Edion tripped on the torn up ground. “Now I’ve got you!” Leon said while lunging at Edion with his sword. Edion caught the blade in his hand, sending another shockwave through the garden. For a moment, they sat there pushing against each other. Neither of them budged the other.
“My garden!” Cried a distant voice. A green-scaled dragon with violet hair and vine tattoos all over her body looked at the fighters in horror.
“It’s Amaria! Run!” yelled one of the spectators. The trainees began to scatter away in all directions. Edion and Leon tried to join them.
“Oh no you don’t!” yelled the gardener. With a wave of her hand, vines sprung from the ground and caught both Edion and Leon by the ankles. She dragged them back to her. They stuck their weapons in the grass trying to keep their ground. “You’re just making it worse!” Amaria screamed as she lifted them up in the air and brought them to her. They hung upside down completely wrapped in vines. Her face radiated such anger, it was like looking into the eyes of a demon. “You two morons are going to replant every single flower in this garden.”
Leon scoffed. “What if we don’t?”
“He does not speak for both of us!” Edion shouted.
The gardener gave Leon a stern look and clenched her fist. The vines tightened around them both as they screamed out in pain. “Okay! Okay! We’ll do it.” Leon cried.
She nodded. “Good.” Amaria opened her hand and released them.
Edion and Leon spent the rest of the day fixing the damage they caused with their battle. While they were planting the flowers, Edion turned to Leon. “You really put up a fight there. I was wrong about you. I guess you aren’t completely useless.”
Leon smiled. “You didn’t do too bad I guess.” Leon stretched out his hand. “Let’s do this again sometime, hopefully in a less fragile place.”
Edion smiled back. “Sure.” He shook Leon’s hand.
A bladed whip came flying in between them. They broke their handshake to keep their arms safe. “Quit messing around!” The gardener commanded. “You two still have a lot of work to do.” They frantically returned to their planting and didn’t finish until sunset.
The next morning, the six new residents gathered in the lobby to meet Brakon for their first official day of training. They found that the building was absolutely spotless without any signs of yesterday’s damage. Burlik knocked on one of the walls. “What happened? This place looks like new.”
Brakon tapped the floor with one of his toe claws. “This building has a magical rune in its foundation. Every night at midnight, the building is reset to it’s previous condition. It’s a lot cheaper than trying to fix what you kids break. Speaking of which...” Brakon looked over to Edion and Leon. “While I support sparring, please don’t do it in Amaria’s garden. She treats that thing as if it were her child. Keep it contained to your building or the training grounds.”
Bellatrix leaned against the the wall. “What are we doing today?”
“You will find out soon enough.” Brakon replied. “We need to go out of the city for this one. Follow me.” He led them out the building and flew high into the sky. His students followed closely behind. From this height, they got a better feel for the size of the city. The MakiaVi was about fifty miles in diameter with high walls surrounding it on all sides. The main roads cut the city into quadrants, each of which was the size of a normal city elsewhere. Once they were outside the city’s borders, a massive forest awaited them below. Trees stretched out as far as the eye could see. Some of them were even tall enough for the group to touch. Brakon pointed to a small clearing below them. “This will do fine. Land here.” He landed with care, barely disturbing the grass beneath him. Bellatrix and Leon followed his graceful example. Edion, Burlik and Zan were a little rougher in their entry and uprooted some of the foliage in their path. Tereen slammed into the ground, creating a large crater around her. The tremor was large enough to knock everyone else off balance. She rose out of the crater and brushed the dust from her clothes. Tereen received a few well deserved looks from her peers.
Brakon opened his arms up wide. “Welcome to the Eternal Forest. Today I will be teaching you all to properly use Viren. Do any of you know anything about Viren?” Edion assumed the question was rhetorical. Brakon pointed to Bellatrix who had her hand raised. “Yes?”
“It is the energy that allows dragons to fly.” Bellatrix said.
Brakon nodded. “Correct. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors had wings and were much larger than we are now. Once they discovered Viren, they slowly evolved to the slimmer form that we all have today. Viren is the life energy that all things radiate and dragons can harness it naturally. While we mainly use it to fly, it also has many other uses. Leon can you help me demonstrate?”
Leon raised an eyebrow at his request. “My knowledge on the subject is limited. I doubt I would be of much assistance.”
Brakon smiled. “Don’t worry. All I need you to do is stab me with your sword.”
The trainees gave each other odd looks. “He must have finally lost it.” Burlik mumbled. Edion agreed that his request was odd but he was eager to see where it would go.
Leon froze. “You want me to what?”
“You heard right.” Brakon said. “Attack me with all your might. I won’t even move.”
Leon hesitated but eventually drew his sword and prepared to attack. “Are you sure?”
Brakon beat his chest. “Give it your best shot!” Leon darted towards Brakon and lunged his rapier at his teacher’s chest. The moment the blade made contact with Brakon’s scales, it bounced off with a loud clang. The force of the impact sent Leon flying back. His blade had not left so much as a scratch.
Leon stumbled to his feet. “What the hell?”
Brakon grinned. “I shielded myself with the Viren stored in my body. With proper training, you can use Viren to protect yourself, heal minor wounds, or multiply the strength of your attacks.” Brakon drew his longsword and turned to face a nearby tree. It was about ten times as tall as Brakon and thick enough for even Tereen to hide behind. Brakon lifted his sword into the air. “Watch and learn, kids.” In one swipe, he cut the tree in half. The top part crept off of its base and crashed into the ground.
Edion stared at the fallen tree. “That’s… impossible.”
Brakon sheathed his sword. “Well it’s not since I just did it. Now it’s your turn.”
“There’s no way we can do that!” Bellatrix shouted.
“I remember when I was a new member. It took me six hours to cut down one of these trees. I think you can all manage that.”
Zan walked up to Brakon with a determined look in his eye. “If that’s the case, I’ll do it in three!” he said, raising a clenched fist to his brother.
Brakon clapped his hands together. “Now that’s the spirit! Just make sure you do it in one hit. There is a reason it’s called the eternal forest.” The trainees traded confused glances. As they looked around, they noticed the damage that had been done in their landings had already disappeared. Even now, the tree Brakon cut in half was already regrowing from the trunk. The top half that was cut off formed its own roots and lifted itself upright to made a new tree. Brakon flew up and sat on one of its branches. He picked a colorful piece of fruit from one of its limbs and took a bite. “Go ahead and get started.” he commanded in between his chewing. “I’ll be up here if you need me. Oh, and do be careful kids.”
Bellatrix sat down in front of her tree with her legs crossed. The rest of the trainees began hacking away at their targets. They each unleashed a fury of attacks on their trees with no progress being made on any of them. Each time, their weapons bounced off the bark. Edion clawed away at his tree with a flurry of blows. He had not sum much as scratched the tree.
An hour into the training, Edion sat exhausted in front of his tree. “This really is impossible.” Edion looked up to the tree where Brakon was sleeping and shook it with a fierce kick. “Hey! How are we supposed to do this? None of us have made any progress at all.”
Brakon moved the hair that was covering his eyes. “Actually, Bellatrix has made pretty good progress so far.” Bellatrix was still meditating at the base of her tree.
Edion pointed to Bellatrix. “What are you talking about? She hasn’t moved an inch in the past hour!”
“We draw Viren from all living things on the planet. Try getting more acquainted with nature.” Brakon returned to his nap.
Edion grumbled as he prepared to strike the tree again. Before he attacked, he looked at the rest of the trainees and lowered his arms. They all had taken up Bellatrix’s strategy and sat in front of their trees in silence. Edion sighed and followed their example. He closed his eyes, took deep breaths and focused on the forest around him. He tried to feel the life that pulsated through the ground. For a while, he felt nothing but his legs falling asleep.
It wasn’t until they hit the two hour mark that he felt a change. It was like the faint current of a river began to flow through his body. It started from his legs and pooled in his heart. Edion relaxed his muscles as the calming sensation flowed through him. The gentle current began to pick up speed, soon turning into a rushing rapid as the pool in his heart began to overflow. His blood felt like acid as it rushed through his veins. Edion started levitating in the air and his eyes glowed bright green. Fog collected around him as a strong wind whipped through the air as if Edion was the center of a tornado. The temperature dropped well below freezing which halted the students’ meditation and shook Brakon awoke from his slumber.
Brakon’s eyes locked onto his student. “Oh no.” He leapt out of the tree and dashed towards Edion. The rest of the trainees struggled to hold their ground against the force of the wind. Brakon was not slowed down at all as he grabbed Edion out of the air and laid him on the grass. He put a hand over Edion’s chest and took a deep breath. As he inhaled, the green energy transferred to Brakon’s body and the wind began to die down. “How was he able to draw so much energy?” It was then that Brakon noticed the symbol on the shoulder of Edion’s jacket. The trainees gathered around Edion who was motionless but still breathing. “How are you feeling?” Brakon asked.
Edion sat up and rubbed his head. “Alright, I think. What happened?”
“You took on too much energy.” Brakon said. “If you try and store more than you can, it will search for an exit and destroy your body in the process.”
“You could have warned us!” Zan yelled.
“Sorry. I didn’t expect any of you to go over capacity like that. It would usually take a whole day for a newbie to gather that much power. In any case, you should all be fine to continue.”
The students returned to their trees. Edion stumbled to his feet. His right glove glowed. “Are you sure you’re ok?”
“It’s alright if you want to take a break.” Liara added.
Edion took his fighting stance. “It’s fine. I can handle this.” He summoned his gauntlets again and swiped his claws at the tree. This time, he carved out a large chunk of bark. Edion cheered his success as he punched the air. Once he finished celebrating, the tree grew back the part that was lost. “He did say do it in one hit.”
As they approached the three hour mark, the time it took for each trainee to gather Viren became exponentially shorter. None of them even bothered sitting down to meditate at this point. Zan stood in front of his tree, out of breath. His hands were red from his failed attempts.
Brakon shook his finger. “Tick tock kids. What happened to cutting my time in half Zan? Tired already?” Zan gritted his teeth and prepared for another strike at the tree. This time when he gathered energy, the air around him started to heat up. On his upswing, the scimitar had gathered all of his energy and was red hot. In one large swipe, Zan took down the tree just as Brakon had done earlier.
A huge grin spread across Zan’s face. “Ha! Told you I would do it!” Just as he said it, Zan started to collapse.
Brakon appeared in front of his brother and caught him. “Great work.” He laid his brother down on the grass. Soon after, all of the other trainees started to chop down their own trees. Burlik tossed his shuriken towards his. An aura of high pressure water coated it like the blades of a saw. Leon took a quick swipe with his rapier and cut the tree with a gust of wind. The blade never even touched the bark. Bellatrix dashed past her target with lightning quick speed and cut it in two. Small sparks discharged from her katana. Tereen swung her hammer into the earth and knocked a large boulder into the tree, shattering it into pieces. Finally, Edion coated the claws of his gauntlets in ice and took a strong swipe at the tree. It cut cleanly in five different places. Brakon slowly applauded their work. “Amazing progress everyone! But remember, this is only the beginning.”
Over the next two months, Brakon ran the six of them ragged. Every day they ran a series of brutal drills. One was to fly a hundred laps around the entire MakiaVi. Another was to swim to the deepest part of Bravia Bay and back up thirty times. They also trained to deflect arrows only using Viren. All of this was on top of regular sparring matches.
Brakon stood with his students in the field behind the class C dining hall. “Outstanding work everyone! You all have put in a ton of work and I think you all are deserving of an award.” Brakon snapped his fingers and two chefs brought out a large picnic table behind him. It was a spread fit for a king, filled with delicacies from all five dragon controlled provinces. A beef stew on the table caught Edion’s eye. “This should be a decent upgrade from your usual meals.”
Leon scoffed as he tossed his hair aside. “It’s about time! I was beginning to think you Bravians were all just awful cooks.” He walked up to the table and reached for a portion of the beef. Brakon threw a powerful punch his way. Leon blocked it but was sent flying back to where the other trainees sat.
Leon raised a fist to his teacher. “What was that for?”
Bracon had an unsettling smile on his face. “What? The food is all yours. You just have to take it.” The students groaned in unison.
Edion turned away from the table. “Forget this. It’s not worth the trouble.”
Brakon sniffed the air. “Oh, I didn’t know we were serving chicken today?” A cascade of “ooooo” sounds came from the other trainees.
Edion summoned his gauntlets and a powerful aura of Viren surrounded his body. He turned to Brakon. “You’ll be eating that food from a straw when I’m done with you!”
With a battle cry, Edion flew straight at Brakon with his claws ready to strike. Brakon dodged the attack with ease and grabbed Edion by the tail. He spun him around in circles so fast that Edion could barely move. “Stop! Stop! Let me go!” Edion screamed.
“As you wish.” Brakon released his grip and sent Edion flying through a nearby tree. Brakon beckoned his students over. “Come on! You guys can do better than this!” Zan and Bellatrix looked at each other, nodded and dashed towards Brakon together. Bellatrix disappeared from view and reappeared behind Brakon with her sword ready to strike. Brakon caught her blade with his bare hands. He swung Bellatrix by her sword and slammed her into Zan. The blow sent them both flying back to where they started. Brakon pulled out a chair from the table. “Well since none of you are hungry, I’ll get started then.” He began picking at the smoked salmon on the table.
Burlik spun his shuriken in his hand. “That’s mine!” The sea dragon threw his weapon towards Brakon with an aura of water coating it. The instructor caught the weapon by the giant hole in its center using only a finger. Burlik’s eyes widened at the sight. Brakon didn’t even look up from his meal as he sent it back with twice the force it was received. As it went flying back to it’s owner, Tereen swung her hammer into the shuriken and knocked the it into the ground. It kicked up dirt as it spun and eventually lost momentum.
Bellatrix shot her arms into the air. “Team huddle!” All six trainees gathered together and started whispering.
Brakon stood up and eyed the group. “Oooh a plan! I wonder how this will go?” The students spoke for about five minutes before they broke up and got into a formation. Edion rushed towards Brakon, leaving a massive trail of dust behind him. Again, Edion approached with his hands open to swipe at him.
“That won’t work!” Brakon said as he punched Edion in the stomach. This time, Edion was able to hold his ground. Brakon gasped. “What? How?” As the dust settled, Brakon saw Tereen standing behind Edion, bracing him against the strike.
A wry grin spread across Edion’s face. “Gotcha.” Brakon looked down to see that his hand was frozen to Edion’s. Before he could even react, Burlik threw his shuriken at Brakon’s chest. With Brakon’s arm occupied, he had to dodge at an awkward angle that threw him off balance. Bellatrix came in and slide tackled his legs. Edion used their connection to slam Brakon to the ground. As soon as he landed, Leon and Zan had their weapons at Brakon’s neck.
Brakon had a huge smile on his face. “Amazing teamwork everyone! You did even better than I could have hoped. The food is all yours, for real this time. You earned it!” The trainees all cheered and started to dig into their favorite dishes. As they ate, they all laughed and reminisced over their harsh training. Edion inhaled the aroma of the beef stew and was showered with memories of home. He grinned as he lifted the bowl towards his mouth. Leon carved off a piece of the beef. “Even my father would rejoice in such a meal.” Edion froze at his words as the smile faded from his face. Leon looked up from his meal. “Are you alright Edion?”
The ice dragon snapped out of his trance and painted a smile on his face. “Yeah, everything’s fine.” Edion took a sip from his bowl and gave Leon another reassuring grin. The sky dragon shook his head and returned to his meal. Edion sighed as he stared off into the sky.