Chapter 1 – Syria The Bounty Hunter

“You didn’t think I’d catch up with your sorry ass, did you?” said Syria sneaking up behind her prized bounty catch.  

The goliath of a burly man dropped his bottle of rum and groaned. He recognized the familiar voice of the she devil herself from over his shoulder... It’s Syria , one of the kings favorite royal bounty hunters sent after him.

“Hello Syria . I, I, I...”

“You want to know something Maxtor, I always get that speech. I, I, I. Why is that?”

“It wasn’t me! I swear it! The king has me mixed up with someone else.”

“Hummm, let’s take a look at the wanted poster shall we?”

Syria held up the poster next to his face so they both could see it.

“Looks like you to me. What do you think?”

“It’s my twin brother.”

“Twin brother, are kidding me? Your mother didn’t have twins. Thank god there is only one of you.”

“Now, now, leave my mother out of this Syria , you have no right to talk ill of her.”

“You are the one that has no rights. You see the last line here?” she said pointing at the words with the tip of her gleaming knife. “It say’s... Dead or Alive. You really pissed off the King this time. So, how do you want to come with me, dead or alive? I’ll let you choose.”

“Alive. I won’t give you any trouble. I swear it.”

“Okay, let’s see how long that will last. Now put your hands behind your back so I can hog tie your sorry ass and get on with my day. You’re not the only one on my list you know.”

Maxtor slowly reached his trembling hands behind his back one at a time. Just as Syria put away her knife and started tying the thick rope around his left wrist, Maxtor reached for an empty bottle with his other hand on the bar and swung around hoping to catch Syria off guard, but he misses her head by inches.

“So, you changed your mind and decided on dead? That’s too bad, I thought you knew me better than that.” she said ducking then quickly pulling back out her side knife slashing and cutting off his hand that held the bottle. She smiled as it fell to the floor.

Maxtor cried out in pain.

“You fucking bitch, you cut off my hand! I’m gonna kill you!!!”

“Noooo, I’m gonna kill you. Hell, dead works for me. Makes me hauling your sorry as in to collect easier.”

She twirls around whipping the sharp blade across his chest, then straight into his gut. Blood began flowing over her hand as she held it up against him. She moved in closer to look into his eyes.

“You know something Maxtor; this is the best part of my job, watching scum like you die. What’s that? Are you trying to tell me something? Speak up.”

“You, you, fucking bitch...” murmured Maxtor trying to focus on her gaze.

“O', you’re so sweet. Thank you for the compliment. I would pass it on to my boyfriend, but guess what? I don’t have one.”

Everyone in the pub watched in amazement at Syria ’s skills. She’s well known for her temper and pure enjoyment of being the king’s favorite bounty hunter. Her parents were murdered five years ago by a rogue serial killer in the village.  The king grew impatient with his guards not capturing the killer, so he had wanted posters posted throughout the kingdom with a one hundred gold piece bounty to be given to anyone that found the killer and brought to him, dead or alive.

Syria didn’t care about the gold. She wanted revenge, no matter the cost. It was seven months later that she caught up with him in a near by village. She killed him without mercy, and then returned with his head and hands in a wooden box and presented it to the king, refusing his payment. The king was pleased. He gave her the reward anyway and then knighted her with the title of Royal Bounty Hunter.

The Royal Bounty Hunters are distinguished by the special fashioned cape that only they are allowed to ware, a custom made gold and silver embossed sword along with two matching short knives. The cape is solid blue with the king’s royal crest embroidered in gold and silver in the center. She only wears it when she is on a bounty hunt.

 Chapter 2 – You have a special assignment for me?

“You sent for me my lord?”

“Ahhh, yes Draparticus, please come in and have a seat, I something very important to discuss with you. Some wine?” 

“Just a small amount my lord.”

Lord Pyrus poured each of them a challis of wine, and then continued.

“You know you are my most trusted assassin.”

“Yes my lord, your word is my command without question.”

“You see, that is what I like about you Draparticus, you are without doubt the most obedient of my assassins. Don’t get me wrong, the others do as they are told, but they are not as skilled and clever as you. They are messy when I send them out on assignments. As always I have to cover up their sloppy work with some excuses or lies.”

“Thank you my lord. I enjoy my work and more importantly, your work. If you don’t mine me asking, what is my assignment?”

Lord Pyrus smiles as he stood at the window looking out over at the kingdom watching the villagers go about their day. He takes a couple more sips of his wine, turns around, and continues.

“There is a little matter I want you to take care of. It will require stealth this time. He must not know you are coming for him as usual, so take all the necessary precautions.  I want you to use the poison you got from that healer last time.”

“The mixture of scorpion and hasps venom?”

“Yes, yes, that one.  It was very effective. It sent a very clear message to those other sniveling rodent councilman that dare questioned me at our last meeting with the king.”

“Yes my lord. Do you want it to be public or in his chambers?”

“Public! It must be in public. He will be giving a speech in the town square at noon, the day after tomorrow. He will have a few guards around him but nothing I’m sure you can’t get pass with one of your clever disguises.  I’ll be in attendance as well.  I want to watch that fool suffer out in the open.”

“Yes my lord. Is there anything else?”

“No, no, that is all. You may go now.”

“Yes my lord, and may peace be with you.”

“And with you Draparticus.”

Draparticus opens the door quickly to leave nearly stepping on the hand of a timid man that is scrubbing the floor outside the chamber. He pulls his dark hood over his head and face before he could look up at him, then steps over him avoiding any eye contact.

Chapter 3 – You work for me now...

“I must see the king at once.” whispered a small timid beggar to one of the king’s guards looking out over the crowd.

“Stand back scum or you’ll feel my blade! Now go about your business.” 

“But it’s important. I know of a plot to kill someone, really I do.”

“I said get back rodent. Now! Don’t let me have to tell you again.” shouted the guard as he pushed the beggar back into the crowd.  He pulled out his sword then pointed it at his chest. “I said step away.”

The king pulled back a small curtain to look outside at what was going on. He could see the guard with his sword drawn pointing it at the beggar.

“Stop the carriage and have the two of them brought to me at once.”

“Yes sire.”

The king waited for the two them to arrive.

He looks at the guard then at the beggar. “What is this about? Why is your sword drawn? He looks harmless to me? Well, speak up.”

“Sire, he said he knows of a plot to kill someone. I don’t believe him. He’s just looking for a hand out.”

“I’ll decide what to believe or not, come closer beggar, what is this plot you speak of?”

The timid beggar lowers his head and bows to the king, then looks back up at him.

“I over heard two people talking about a killing sire when I was scrubbing the floors this morning.”

“A killing? What two people? Speak up!”

“Lord Pyrus Sire.”

“Lord Pyrus? That’s insane.”

“But it’s true sire. He spoke of having one of the councilmen assassinated the day after tomorrow in the town square when they give their weekly speeches.”

The king looked at the guard then back at the beggar.

“Come closer beggar.” demanded the king holding out two pieces of gold.

“You are to keep me posted of anything else you hear. You work for me now. Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes sire, very.”

“Speak to no one else of this or I will have you put in to the dungeon and tortured.”

“No one else sire, I will speak of this to no one. I will report anything else I hear to you.”

“Very well then, we have an understanding. You are to speak to this guard when you have information for me. He will arrange for you to speak to me.”

“Yes sire.”

“Now step away from me.”


“Yes sire?”

“Have Syria meet me in my chambers at once.”

“Yes sire, at once.”

* * *

Syria is waiting outside the king’s chambers.

Syria , do come in.” said the king opening the door waving for her to follow him inside.

“You sent for me sire.”

“Yes, I have been informed that there is a plot to assassinate one of my councilmen in two days time in the town square. Three of them will be giving speeches.”

“Can’t you just cancel their speeches until you find out which one it is sire?”

“Yes I could, but I don’t want to raise any suspicion or let on that I am aware of this plot. I have an informer keeping me posted of any more details. However, I want you to seek out this assassin on the day of the speeches.  Three councilmen will be there starting at noon. The last assassin’s target was killed with a very lethal poison in his sleep. It was horrible the way he died. None of his guards saw the assassin come or leave.”

“I have seen their work too sire. They use many techniques to assassinate their target. However, using such a lethal poison requires great skill. Dragon Shifters are the only ones that I’m aware of that are capable of handling and dispensing it.”

“Dragon shifters? They are not known for doing evil deeds, least of all killing because someone hires them to do so. I hear they have high moral standards. Besides, no one knows of their whereabouts or has seen them.”

“That is precisely why someone would use a dragon shifter for such work.”

“Yes, yes, you are right. But that doesn’t explain the reason for one wanting to kill a councilman.”

“Whatever the reason sire, this is no small task. If indeed a dragon shifter is being used to carry out this assassination, I’ll have my hands full.”

“Are you not up to the task Syria ?”

“I’m ready and willing sire. It’s just been a while since I’ve had a good challenge on my hands and this one fits me perfectly.”

“Now that’s the Syria I know. Very well then, find this assassin and if it turns out he’s a dragon shifter, well then, you’ll finally have the challenge you’ve been looking for.”

Chapter 4 – Criss Cross

Draparticus had been in this situation before last month with four heavy armed guards carrying war hammers and spears surrounding his target. His disguise got him past the guards at the main gate and on to the main grounds. His target is a ruthless chancellor that rules with an iron fist. His assignment is very clear; it’s to be a very public assassination. 

He chose to use a new device that he had fashioned by his personal blacksmith and this is the perfect assignment to test it out.  All he has to do is get close enough to the chancellor to inject him. The device is concealed beneath his right wrist band loaded with five sharp hollow point needles, each filled with a very toxic poison designed to release slowly into its victims blood stream.

He hires four “Roof Toppers” to distract the guards so he could get close to the chancellor.  The Roof Toppers followed Draparticus along the roof tops as he staggered and stammered his way like a drunk towards the chancellor and his guards.  

* * * * * * * *

Syria is canvassing the same area looking for a rogue warlord named Torlock that was reported to be visiting a popular brothel near by.

“Hey ladies, you seen this guy come through?” she asked a group of three girls standing outside a small courtyard.  They looked at the wanted poster together.

“Yeah, he was through here earlier this morning. He’s a big guy and a big tipper.” they giggled. “Yeah and he paid for all three of us.” one of them chimed in.

“Did he seem like he was passing through?”

“No. He fell asleep for a while then got up and went to get something to eat. He asked us to be around later tonight.”

“Excellent. Here take this and send word when he returns.” said Syria tossing them a small sack of gold coins.

“Sure. Do you want us to tie him down? He likes feeling restrained.”

“That won’t be necessary. I can handle him.”

* * * * * * * *               

Draparticus signaled the Roof Toppers to go distract the guards.  They quickly climbed down, spread out and approached them.

“Hey you bloody bastards, what are you doing on our turf!” shouted the leader as he shoved the lead guard.

“Step away or I’ll put you down!”

“Just try to you chicken shit!”

The chancellor was in no mood for distractions.

“Kill them. Kill them all and let’s be on our way.”

“Guards attack!” ordered the lead guard drawing his sword.

As the guards clashed with the Roof Toppers, Draparticus staggered in closer to his target. He could see the chancellor standing arrogantly watching the fight as if it wouldn’t take his guards long to kill the Roof Toppers.

He is so focused on the fight that is not aware of Draparticus approach and that he is now close enough to inject him.  Draparticus curled his middle finger towards his palm and pressed a trigger on the device to load one of the needles then bumps into the chancellor.

“Pardon me chancellor; can you spare me some coin?”

“Get away from me you drunken fool or I’ll have you killed next!” he said reaching out with both hands to shove Draparticus away.

This is perfect timing. As the chancellor reached out, he swiftly pierced him in his right side then staggered away; signaling the Roof Toppers to disband. They broke off their attack and leaped back up to the roof tops then disappeared from sight.

Syria could see the crowd gathering around the chancellor and his guards. She pushed and shoved her way to the front.

“Get out of my way! Get out of my way!” she shouted as she got closer.

She soon could see what everyone else is looking at, the chancellor holding his throat and convulsing wildly. Blood began seeping from his eyes and ears. She knew it was an assassin that had done this, and then quickly began scanning the crowd for anyone leaving quickly. But no one was moving. Everyone was watching in horror as he collapsed to the ground vomiting profusely.

He tried to speak. “Help me, somebody please help me.” 

The crowd moved back away from him. Within minutes he was dead.

“Did anyone see who done this?” shouted the lead guard. “Anyone? Come forward and I’ll pay twenty gold pieces. Here it is in my hand see.” he demanded while shaking the small sack of gold coins up in the air, but no one stepped out from the crowd.

“You are all cowards! We’ll find out who’s responsible for this and you’ll pay with your lives. Anyone believed to be harboring the fugitive will be put to death on the spot as an example to all!”

Syria had seen enough. She went to report the assassination to the king.

* * * * * * * *

“Sire, I have seen an assassination.”

“I have heard. It was that fool of a chancellor Damian on the eastside. I warned him not to be so harsh with the villagers, but did he listen? No! In away he brought this on himself. Did you see him die?”

“Yes sire. It was horrible. I’ve seen death many times but nothing as cold blooded as this. It was a lethal poison. He had no fatal wounds on his body. His eyes and ears bled like a river as he spun around uncontrollably while clutching his throat.”

Syria , this assassin must be found.”

“Yes sire, I understand.”

“Use whatever you deem necessary at your disposal and spare no expense. Am I making myself clear?”

“Yes sire, very.”

“Very well then, leave immediately and report anything you find out.”

“Yes sire.”

Chapter 5 – I have some unfinished business...  

Draparticus went to his hideout to change out of his disguise. He pressed the trigger several times after he took off the injection device. He admired it. 

“This is ingenious. Lord Pyris will be impressed. It will prove most effective on my next assignment.” 

* * * *

Syria went back to the brothel to see if warlord Torlock had returned. She could see one of the girls she met earlier signaling for her to come over.

“He is inside now with the other two girls.” she whispered.

“Excellent. Thank you Tira, I’ll takeover from here. Stay outside; I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“He has two guards posted by the bedroom door.”

Syria peeps through a small crack in the front door and sees the two guards talking among themselves.

“Can you get them to come outside Tira?”

“Sure, that’s no problem.” she said feeling excited about helping Syria . She unbuttoned her top to let her large breast protrude out more then slowly opened the door. The guards smiled as she waved for them to come to her. She pulls up her dress in the front and sticks our one of her long perfect sculptured legs.

“Come here, I’m already paid for by your warlord.” she whispered to them.

One of them puts his ear to the bedroom door to make sure Torlock is busy. He smiles and nods to the other guard, then they went to Tira. Syria slowly pulls out one of her short knives as she watches them come closer then steps back into the shadows.

Tira swayed her ample hips as she walked out into the courtyard. The guards began opening the front of their pants as they got closer.  Syria held her knife close to her chest preparing to swiftly take them out.

“Over here boys.” cooed Tira as she stood with her back up against the wall and her dress pulled up to her waist.

“I can take both of you at the same time if you want.” she whispered smiling and parting legs. The guards dropped their swords to the ground then quickly walked up to Tira.

“What she meant was that I can take both you at the same time.” whispered Syria as she quickly cut the throat of the first guard to her right, then swung around and plunged it deeply into the gut of the other one.

“Wow, you’re good Syria .”

“Thank you. Here’s five pieces of gold for helping me. Is there another way inside the room?”

“Yes, all of our rooms have a secret panel wall for our more discreet guest that don’t want to use the front door.”

“Excellent. Now you stay out here.”

Syria goes around to the back of the brothel and sneaks in. She then follows a narrow hallway that runs behind each room. Torlock is in the third room on the right. She slowly slips behind the secret panel and slides open a small peep hole. She could see Torlock tied down and the other two girls undressing in front of him. ‘This is going to be the easiest bounty ever.’ she thinks to herself.

When the two girls were on top of him and blocking his view of the secret panel, she slowly pushed open the panel door with her short knife drawn.

“Well, well, well, Torlock. Why am I not surprised to find you here.”

Torlock is shocked when he sees her. He struggles to free himself while calling for his guards.

“Guards, guards, get in here you fools! Guards, guards!”

“Don’t waste your breath calling them. They won’t be coming to help you.”

“You bitch. You won’t take me in alive!”

“You want to know something Torlock, the last guy that said that to me was right. I didn’t take him in alive. I’ll tell you like I told him, dead works for me.”

Syria hog tied Torlock after holding his mouth open and pouring a small dose of a bluish liquid from a vile she pulled from her satchel. Within minutes he is fast asleep.

“That’ll keep him knocked out for a few hours. At least long enough to get him to the dungeon. Girls, I thank you and here’s a little extra for the help.”

“O’ it was nothing Syria . This was exciting! You can always count on us for help. We’ll tell the other brothels about you. We really appreciate you finding the serial killer that was killing us and many of the villagers. We know very powerful people and they can’t resist us.”

Chapter 6 – I’ve never seen you around here before...

Draparticus drapes his black and red hooded cloak over this head and shoulders and enters the streets. He has no fear of anyone recognizing him in the quite small village of Vistanzia . It’s far enough away from the main castle and prying eyes. He walks calmly down to a corner pub not far from his place. He sees a small table and two chairs in a far dark corner to his left.

“A bottle of your finest wine, a block of cheese and a loaf of bread. I’ll be in the corner over there.” he says to the bartender tossing him two silver coins.

“Right away.”

Draparticus likes sitting with his back against the wall with a clear view of the front entrance. If death was ever to come for him, he wanted to see it coming. He scanned the bar looking for no one in particular. There are no threats that he could see. None the less he strapped on three throwing knives on his left boot and two short knives under his cape just in case.

“Here you go darlin’, is there anything else you be wantin’” said a cute redheaded waitress with a lilting Irish accent trying to flirt with him.

“That will be all, but if I change my mind you’ll be the first to know.” he said smiling while looking up at her.

Draparticus is a strikingly handsome man. He has a tall well sculptured lean muscular body, long raven black hair down to the center of his back that he keeps parted down the middle and away from his eyes. His dark ice blue eyes made women melt when he looked at them as he spoke. His skin is a mellow golden brown with a faint scale like appearance to it, yet it’s smooth like skin to the touch.

Just as he was about to pour himself another challis of wine, Syria walks through the front door and stands for a moment before walking completely in. The men at the bar stopped drinking to look at her. No man could resist her potent look. She always looked like an Egyptian Queen and smelled of sweet perfumes that she has custom made for her. However, the two long swords on each side of her swaying hips made it very clear; don’t confuse her beauty as being weak and in need of any man.

She slowly pulls off her leather gloves then pulls back the hood from over her head as she approaches the bar. Her long blonde shimmering hair fell from the hood over her shoulders and down to her lower back. The clicking of her boots on the hardwood floors made the crowd clear a path for her. She felt large and in charge as looked around then back at the bartender.

“What can I get for ya Syria ?” said the bartender smiling.

Draparticus is awe of her beauty. Like all the others in the pub, he couldn’t resist not looking at her. ‘Who is this goddess?’ he thought to himself. He had never seen her in here before. He noticed that the bartender seemed to know who she is. He pushed the chair across from him with the heel of his boot underneath the table so that it pointed slightly outward.

“A bottle of Bohemian Rum please and who’s the guy in the corner over there?” she whispered.

The bartender looked over at the table. “I don’t particularly know him that well. He comes in from time to time. He’s quiet and keeps to himself. He never causes any trouble and tips very well.”

“Tell you what, send him over another bottle of whatever he’s drinking and tell him it’s from me.”

“Yes Syria , right away.”

The bartender personally took over the bottle of wine to him.

“Draparticus... this is from the lady at the bar. She told me to bring it to you. I didn’t tell her anything about you, your name or where you live.” he whispered to him with his back to Syria .

“Thanks Marcus. I’ll remember to return the favor.”  He whispered back.

Syria kept looking straight ahead for a short while before looking at Draparticus. Their eyes met as she slowly turned her head to see if he was looking at her. He pushed out the chair a little more while arching his eyebrows and then motioned for her to come join him. She slowly got up from her bar stool, grabbed her bottle of rum and went over to his table.

“Do you always sit with your back to the wall?” she asked standing and smiling.

“Why yes I do. Specifically for this reason...” he said opening the bottle of wine she had sent to him.

“And what reason is that?”

He paused while pouring the wine, looked back up at her to responded... “To see beauty when it’s walking towards me of course.”

“Well, well, I’m impressed, a man that has a flair for words.” she said pulling out the chair to sit down.

“Only when they are meant for someone as beautiful as you.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls you meet.” she says while slowly pouring herself some rum.

“Not all of them. But you, you are truly divine.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.” she asked looking over her the rim of her tilted challis as she takes a sip.

“Valitore’... Valitore’ Enzo Dugrassi and yours is?”

Syria , Syria Navarro.”

“Pleased to meet you Syria .

“Pleased to meet you as well.”

Chapter 7 – DRAGON! DRAGON!  

The chimes in the city hall clock tower rang out over the town square. It’s midnight, the moon is full and the night is still. Draparticus is standing high above a roof top looking down at a specific door. He watched as the door of his next target leaving the brothel closes behind him.

“Right on time.” he murmured to himself as he leaped over to another roof top with ease while keeping an eye on this target. “That’s it, get into your carriage. But you better pray those four chicken shit guards can protect you tonight. You can bet I’ll be seeing you shortly.”

The carriage with the four guards took off quickly heading out of the village to take his target back to his mansion. His target is Baron Von Straussen, a very wealthy import merchant and one of the many “cousins” of the king.

Lord Pyris has charged him with the crime of poaching wild animals he specifically forbidden to be captured in any form, dead or alive for sale or display. He has been informed that he captured a dragon to sell to a buyer in the Middle East who plans on having it killed and put on display in his museum. Lord Pyris is furious after hearing of Baron Von Straussen’s plans. He immediately sent a dispatch for Draparticus.

“What is thy bidding my lord?” asked Draparticus bowing in respect.

“I have just been informed that a merchant has disobeyed a specific order forbidding any capture of dragons!”

Draparticus stood up immediately with his first curled in tight balls. His nostrils flared as his breathing grew deep and heavy. He could feel a ball of fire building in his diaphragm and could barely wait for the order to leave Lord Pyris’s lips.

“He is at a brothel as we speak in the village of Tora . Do you know where this is?”

“Yes, I know exactly where it is. May I depart now? I don’t want him to get away. Not that he will get far. There is nowhere he can hide that I can’t find him.”

“Yes, by all means. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the urgency of this matter. Perhaps this might be a relative of yours?”

“Relative or not my lord, he is as good as dead to me.”

“Good, good. Now, just so that everyone around here understands that when I say something I don’t mean for it to be taken lightly, I want you to burn him on a stake in full display of the city tonight in full flame!”

“With pleasure my lord.” smiled Draparticus. “The reflection of his burning body will be in the eyes of everyone. I swear it!”

“Very good, now be on your way. And may peace be with you in your work.”

“And with you my lord.”

* * * *

The carriage carrying Baron Von Straussen is making its way on a road through the forest outside of Tora. The baron is napping as the carriage sway’s back and forth. The carriage has two of his guards in the front and two in the back. Draparticus is following closely behind them on his black stallion.

He could see the carriage slowing down in front of him, then coming to a stop. The baron steps out and walks over to a high bush to relieve himself. His guards stay with the carriage as they were ordered.

Draparticus full length dark cape makes him nearly impossible to see in the night. One by one he takes out the guards then waits patiently for the baron to return.

“Where in the hell are my guards?” murmured the baron to himself looking around cautiously in the dark. “Guards, guards?”

 “Don’t worry about them coming to your aid Baron Von Straussen.” groaned Drapraticus revealing himself holding a hovering ball of fire over his right hand.

“What, what are you? What do you want? I, I, have gold. It’s in my carriage; I’ll go get it for you. There’s a chest full of it from a sale I made to a client in the Middle East .”

“I hope for you sake that what you sold is still here.”

“Yes, yes, I demanded full payment up front first before the delivery of it. I swear.”

“And exactly where is “it” being held? Tell me now and I’ll let you live!”

“In a special chamber below my mansion. It’s the only place large enough to keep it until delivery. Please don’t kill me, I beg of you.”

“Don’t worry about that little detail, as long as you’re not lying to me, you won’t have to worry about dieing.”

“Then you’ll take the gold and let me go now. I promise I won’t tell anyone of this meeting.”

“What kind of full do you take me for baron? I’m not going to take your word for it! You’re coming with me so I can see for myself. After that I’ll let go.”

“But of course, what was I thinking.”

“Get in the carriage; I’ll drive you there personally.”

“Do you know where I live?”

“Of course I do. Now hold out your hands so I can tie them. I don’t want you to get any ideas like escaping. If I were you, I’d put that idea out of your head. Trust me you wouldn’t get very far.”

* * * *

They road off into the night at full speed. Draparticus dark blue eyes turn bright red like fire. He gripped the leather straps tightly in his hands as he steers the carriage down the twisting road. He could see the mansion just up ahead. Its pitch black with no signs of anyone there. Perhaps the baron is telling the truth. He must have sent everyone away when he had the dragon brought there. They pulled up to the front of the mansion.

“You better pray you’re not lying to me or I’ll kill you on the spot when we go below.”

“I’m not lying, I, I, swear it.”

They opened the huge front doors of the mansion and went in. Draparticus formed another ball of fire over his hand. It shinned brighter than the first one.

“Now let’s go see if you are lying to me. Lead the way.”

The baron nervously walked down a long a narrow hallway until they got to a large steel incased door.

“Open it now!”

“Yes, yes, of course.”

The baron reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of special made keys. With his hands shaking he inserted the key then turned it three times. They could hear the locking bolts release.

“I’ll need help pushing it open, it’s very heavy.” whimpered the baron.

Draparticus leaned against the heavy door with his shoulder and together they pushed it open. Slowly they walked down the dark stairway leading to another heavy door.

“It’s, it’s in here. Be careful, it’s very large with huge claws.”

“You mean claws like this?” said Draparticus holding out a transformed hand.

“O’ my god, what are you?”

“Go inside now! Don’t make me tell you twice.”

They both entered the dark room. There it was a huge majestic dragon with heavy chains around its neck, legs and huge claws. Its mouth is sealed shut with steel bands.

“Stay here. Make one move and I will personally burn you alive.”

“I won’t move, I swear.”

Draparticus walked up the dragon and kneeled in respect.

“My father, I have come for you.”

The dragon opened his eyes slowly. He tried to sit up right but the heavy chains made him too weak.

“My son, you must not be here. This man and his people are evil and mean you great harm.”

“Fear not father, I will release you. You must promise never to come near this land again.”

“But I needed to see you. I have news of your human mother.”

“Is she alive? Please tell me she is alive.”

“Yes, but she has been captured and taken away. They used her capture to get me.”

Draparticus is furious with bitter anger. He turns around and points to the baron.

“You are going to tell me everything tonight, every detail or I swear I’ll burn you so slowly you’ll start to pray for death.”

The baron kneels before both of them in a praying position.

“Please, please spare me. I was only doing what I was told.”

“Part of what he is saying is true my son. There was another man with him. Some sort of royal man. He is tall with brown hair, green eyes, and walked with a slight limp. When he grabbed your mother I saw a crest burned into his skin. It looked like two lions holding a sword.”

Draparticus snapped an angry gaze at the baron.

“You know who that is don’t you!”

“I, I, can’t say.”

“What did you just say to me? Did I just hear you ignore my question?”

 “Please, please, I cannot say.”

“Give me those keys.”

Draparticus unlocks all the shackle bindings on his father.

“Father you are to leave this place immediately. I’ll deal with this fool. Trust me he will tell me what I want to know. Don’t worry about mother. I’ll meet you at our secret place. Now go swiftly.”

“We love my son. Peace be with you.”

“And with you, now go.”

Draparticus’s father spread out his huge wings then broke through the ceiling, and out through the roof. He watched as he faded into the dark night. He then turned and looked at the baron.

“Now baron, you are going to tell me everything I want to know starting with where my mother is being held.”

Chapter 8 – O’ My God! That man, he’s on fire!

“You are going to set me free right? I’ve told you everything I know.” pleaded the Baron looking up at Draparticus.

“Set you free? I’m going to set you free from your miserable life.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Let’s go back up stairs and I’ll show what I mean.”

Draparticus followed the Baron up the dark stairway leading them out to the front of the mansion.

“First, I’m going to set you free from this place you call home” said Draparticus tying the Baron’s shackled hands to the front gate.

He took a running leap, then large black wings ejected from his back as he flew straight up high above the mansion. He circled it twice as he continued transforming into a majestic half dragon and half man figure. The Baron couldn’t believe his eyes as he stared up at him.

Draparticus hovered over the mansion for a slight moment, inhaled a deep breath then released a large long continuous flame through the opening of the roof where his father had earlier broken through. Within minutes the entire mansion is engulfed in flames.  The Baron watched in horror.

“Please, please, don’t burn me! I swear I will never capture another living thing as long as I live!” pleaded the Baron as he watched Draparticus land in front of him.

“I know you’ll never capture another living thing as long as you live. You know why?”


“Because tonight you’re going to stop living!”

“But I told you everything!”

“Yes you did and that’s why you have lived long enough to see your world burned down to the ground. Now, let’s go to the town square shall we.”

He unfurled his huge wings again, grabbed the Baron with his claws and flew off for the town square. They landed in the center of town where a huge wooden pole is already in the ground with piles of wood neatly stacked around it. This is a common sight for the villagers as condemned heretics and prisoners are burned regularly. Draparticus landed then dragged the Baron up to the pole and began tying him to it.

“Please, please, you don’t have to do this.”

“But I do Baron. You didn’t think twice about taking my mother away did you? I’m sure she pleaded with you and asked why you were doing this to her. So, save your pleading, because I don’t give a damn about you. O’, and after I get done with you, I’m going to do the same thing to your friends but much worse, much, much worse. Now look up into the sky. This won’t take long.”

He ran and leaped into the sky just as he did before. He circled twice, and then hovered over the Baron until he could see him staring up at him. In one swift deep breath he released a huge flame down upon him. The super hot flame engulfed the Baron in seconds. He began screaming out loud. People began pouring out into the town square running towards the flame.

“O’ my god, that man, he’s on fire!” shouted a woman.

“It’s Baron Von Straussen!” shouted a man running out towards him with a bucket of water.

“Look, look up there, it’s, it’s, a Dragon!!!” shouted a little boy pointing towards the sky.

Draparticus circled several more times, watching the villagers continue to pour out into the streets. This is exactly what Lord Pyrus wanted him to do. “Make sure it’s a very public display.”

Syria is sitting at her vanity brushing her hair when she looks out the window and sees the two blazes out in the distance.

“What the hell is going on?” she gasped as she ran to her window to get a closer look. “Shit, it’s a dragon shifter.”

She quickly puts on her clothes; runs out to her horse then speeds away towards the town square. Just as she approached she could see Draparticus flying away.

“No doubt about it, that’s a dragon shifter.” she murmured to herself starring up in the sky then back at the Baron’s charred body. “But this doesn’t look like the work of an assassin though. This looks like revenge... very bitter revenge.”  She says watching the flames consume his entire body, and then back up at the sky. “Now, not only do I have to deal with an assassin, now I have to deal with a dragon shifter.”

Chapter 9 – “We will use him to our advantage”

Draparticus is waiting for Lord Pyrus in his chambers. He used the secret entrance behind the fireplace to get in. Lord Pyrus could see the small timid worker sweeping near his front door when he got to the top of the stairway.

“Sweep somewhere else.” he scowled at the worker.

“Yes my lord.” he answered in a quivering voice looking door at the floor.

Lord Pyrus waited at the door until he could see the worker move down the hall then entered.

“What is so urgent my lord?” asked Draparticus bowing in respect.

“I have been informed that we have a spy among us that is reporting anything he sees or hears to the king.”

“Just give me the word and I will make him disappear before days end.”

“That idea has crossed my mind, but I have a better idea. I have no doubt that they are aware of the assassination, but they don’t know who.”

“This is true. I retrieved the name by carrier pigeon this morning.”

“That is why I chose that method instead of speaking the name here. However, I’m sure the little spy will be working his way back to my door shortly. I will speak of a different name clear enough for him to hear.”

Draparticus smiled a wicked smile. “This is perfect my lord and as usual you are most wise.”

They both could hear the sound of the workers swishing broom coming closer to the door. Lord Pyrus nodded his head to Draparticus signaling that he will say the name now.

“Councilman Meganhird of the third district, he will be in the front of city hall at noon.”

“Yes my lord, councilman Meganhird. Consider him dead.”

“Very well, be on your way. Peace be with you in your work.”

“And with you my lord.” smiled Draparticus as they both heard the worker walk quietly from the door.

“Good, he heard everything perfectly. Now leave the same way you came.”

* * * *

The small worker hurried to the guard’s quarters pushing and shoving people in his way occasionally looking over his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t being followed. “Out of my way, out of my way, I have important business to attend to!”

He ran up to two guards standing at attention in front of the main entrance.

“I must peak with Commander Hacon now. It’s urgent.”

“What? What business do you have here?”

“I can only speak to Commander Hacon and him only.”

“Go away before I behead you!”

“I was sent by the king!”

The guard laughed out loud... “By order of the king, what fool do you take me for beggar?” He stepped closer to the timid worker with his hand on his sword. “I said step away or you will feel my blade.”

The front door opened quickly. It’s Commander Hacon. He looks intently at the timid worker then at the guard. “Let him in now then step away from the door. I do not want to be disturbed.”

The timid worker walked slowly past the guards closely following Hacon.

“Sit there. Here, have some wine and bread.”

“Thank you, thank you sir.”

“Now, what news do you have for the king? Speak up!”

The timid worker swallows quickly then wiped his mouth before speaking.

“I heard the name Councilman Meganhird of the third district. He will be at city hall at noon. He, he is the one to be killed.”

“Very good... Were you followed?”

“No, no one was following me. I made sure. I got here as quickly as I could.”

“Return to your post and keep me informed of any further news. Here’s two pieces of gold.”

“Thank you, thank you, and may peace be with you.”

“And with you, now leave my sight. No! Not the front entrance, go out the back door.”

Draparticus is perched high on a roof top across from the guards quarters hiding in the shadow of a tall chimney peering down at the entrance. He smiles a wicked smile then quickly jumps down to his waiting horse on the other side of the building then speeds away with his black cape flapping behind him. Hacon went immediately to speak with the king.

* * * *

 “Commander Hacon, you have news for me?” asked the king pouring them both a challis of wine.

“Yes sire, it is Councilman Meganhird of the third district.”

“Councilman Meganhird?” The king looks at the registry list on his desk, then runs a pointing finger down and across to Councilman Meganhird name. “He is speaking in front of city hall at noon.”

“Yes sire that is what the worker said.”

“Then he his telling us the truth. I want you and your best guards in attendance and I want a perimeter formed around the people. We’ll catch the assassin dead in his tracks.”

“Yes sire.”

“Very good, now be on your way, we haven’t much time.”

The king summoned Syria to his quarters.

* * * *

“Yes sire?”

Syria come forward, I’ve been informed that councilman Meganhird is the target of the assassin. He will be at the city hall at noon. Commander Hacon and his men will be on guard, but I want you there to catch the assassin, dead or live. Hacon and his men are good, but I don’t believe they will be a match for an assassin.”

“I understand sire.”

“Very well, we only have a couple of hours, so hurry. Peace be with you”

“Yes sire, and with you.”

Chapter 10 – “We’ve been tricked!”

“Draparticus, my brother and I are ready.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes, without hesitation. You have done our family a great deed by saving our sister’s honor from that heathen Count Sebastian. He deserved to die before he could lay a hand on her.”

“Very well, here are your capes. You know what to do. Wait until half past the hour of noon, that will give me enough time.”

“We understand. We will not let you down. Those fools will be chasing our shadows. They do not call us ghost for nothing.”

The brothers departed as quickly as they appeared heading for the town square. Draparticus puts on the last of his disguise, wrapping his left hand with a string of black beads with a black crucifix like design on the end that dangled and swayed as he began walking slowly to the open market square where his next target will be giving his speech. He easily walks among the villagers. His disguise is perfect. After all who would be looking for a monk?

* * * *

Commander Hacon and his men are in position watching the crowd intensely as they began gathering in the town square. The sun is hot and glaring down on them without much cloud cover. They squint their eyes as they peered through the slots of their helmets trying to focus. Syria is walking calmly through the crowd with her hand on her left sword.

Councilman Meganhird approaches the podium with a scroll in his hand then rolls it out before be begins his speech. The clock tower bell rang out precisely at noon. As he be began to speak Syria moves towards the middle of the crowd. ‘If he’s going to strike, his best chance would be somewhere near here’ she thinks to herself.

Just then a little boy pushes and run past her, causing her to nearly pull out her sword. “Shit!” she murmured under her breath. She looks over at Commander Hacon. He nods his head from side to side. Still no sign of the assassin.

Just as she takes her eyes off of him she sees someone in a black cape running quickly from the right side of the crowd straight for the councilman. He’s running so fast she barely has enough time to react.

“It’s him!” she shouts pulling out her sword running toward the podium. “Quickly commander, head him off!” she shouts again pointing her sword.

Syria pushes and shoves her way through the thick crowd.

“Out of the way, assassin, assassin, out of the way!!!!”

Just as she is about to catch up to the caped runner, another one appeared from the other side of the councilman, pulling out a crossbow, pointing it at him.  The councilman cowards down while holding his hands over his head. She could hear the caped man shouting.

“You are a liar and a thief of the people! You must die pig!”

“What the hell?” she shouted then stopped. She looked towards Commander Hacon’s direction; he and his men are still trying to make their way through the panicking crowd.

It is now that everything seemed to start moving in slow motion as she looks at each of them coming from both sides towards the councilman. She didn’t know which one to attack first.

“You are a liar and a cheat, die pig!” said the second approaching brother running equally as fast.

* * * *

Draparticus could see his target walking calmly among the crowds waving and patting children on the head. ‘That’s it keep coming my way.’ he mummers to himself as he readies his new poison injector device under his long heavy sleeved covered hand wrapped with the black beads. ‘Just a few more feet, keep coming towards me.’ Slowly councilman Dothan keeps walking in his direction. Draparticus smiles as he approaches him.

“Here you go a small offering for the church.” said councilman Dothan walking up the Draparticus holding out his hand with a small purse of coins.

“Bless you councilman. This token of your gratitude will go far towards your debt to society.”

“What debt? What are you speaking of?”

“It’s nothing to be alarmed about councilman, for we all are sinners in his eyes.”

“What, whose eyes?”

“I am only the messenger councilman.”

The councilman looks at the dangling crucifix then back up at him.

“You are not a man of the church and that is not a cross of the church, it’s the symbol of an assassin!” 

“You are right councilman, time to die.”

Draparticus presses the palm of his hand against the chest of the councilman. The councilman could feel the piercing sensation of the needle.

“What did you just do to me?”

“You will know soon enough.”

* * * *

Both brothers looked up at the clock at the same time, and then nodded to each other. They have accomplished their objective remembering the words of Draparticus. “Let them think you are the assassin, then leave quickly when they get close to the podium. This will give me enough time...”

Syria realizes as she watched both of them look up at the clock that they were just a decoy.

“They are not the assassins! Quickly to the town market!” she shouted pushing her way through the crowd joining Commander Hacon and his men. “We must hurry before it’s too late!”

Draparticus calmly walked away from the councilman then faded into the crowd with his hands folded under the long sleeves and the hood pulled over his head looking down. Councilman Dothan began to stagger towards the podium trying to speak. The crowd began to move out of his way as he begins to thrash uncontrollably.

“Help me, help, help me...” he gasped as blood began dribbling down his chin. He clutched his throat.

Syria , Commander Hacon, and his men entered the market area then start running towards the podium.

“Do you see him?” shouted Hacon looking towards the podium.

“Not yet, keep looking!” said Syria in a deep concerning tone pushing her way towards the podium.

 Councilman Dothan went down on one knee holding up one hand.

“I, I, I can’t breathe...”

The crowd surrounded him blocking Syria and Commander Hacon’s view.

“He’s here somewhere, keep moving towards the podium!” shouted Syria looking out over the crowd.

“Pardon me my child.” said a faint familiar voice to Syria as she rushed passed Draparticus in his disguise. But she is too focused on the podium and doesn’t notice him.

“I see the councilman, over there.” shouted Syria pointing to her left “by the fruit stand, hurry up!”

Draparticus smiled as he watched her and the guards run towards the fruit stand. He turned around slowly and calmly walked into a near by dark alley.

When they got to Councilman Dothan, he was already dead, lying on the ground in a pool of blood.

“Shit, shit, shit!” shouted Syria in anger. “Did anyone see who did this? Anyone?”

No one spoke up.

“The king will not be pleased Syria.” whispered Commander Hacon over her shoulder.

Syria rolled her eyes up at him. “You think Hacon? How long did it take you to come up with that? We have got to find out who is doing this and fast. Don’t let anyone out of this area. Do you hear me? No one leaves until I say so! He could still be in the area.”

Chapter 11 – “I have come for my mother!”






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