A Different World Chapter 11

For a moment everything was black. Michael wondered if something had gone wrong. He tried to call out, but no sound escaped his lips. After a moment he realized that he couldn’t even feel his lips, couldn’t feel anything actually. Panic began welling up inside of him, but before it could take hold the blackness began to fade.

The blackness melted away from his vision like a muddy window hit with a bucket of water. First there was still large spots of inky darkness, but his eyesight quickly cleared. He found himself standing inside of Ghaleon’s Fortress at the base of the Heavenly Stairway. Ghaleon himself stood tall and imposing in front of a group of strangers. Everyone was bloody and beaten. It was clear that they had been fighting viciously.

Ghaleon and the person Michael recognized as Dragonmaster Alex were in the best shape of everyone. The others all looked ready to collapse, and the blonde girl Ghaleon had spoken of was already down. In the few seconds it took Michael to take this in all the feeling in his body returned. Pins and needles exploded throughout his body sending him to his knees.

He looked to his left and saw Kevin, Ruby, and Ryan. All three of them were also on the ground trying to fight off the painful sensation. Because the invisibility spell had been cast on all of them they could see each other; although, they appeared only as blurry transparent outlines. Sound returned next, coming in so quickly that it seemed unnaturally loud. Everything was amplified several times louder than normal. Kevin hoarse whisper of, “Damn, that hurts!” sounded as if he were speaking through a megaphone.

“Stop this foolishness, Dragonboy,” Ghaleon’s snide confidant voice rang out clashing against Michael’s eardrums, “your team is looking a little shaky. Why don’t you just give up? This is NOT a fight that you can win…no matter how hard you try.”

The dark haired man standing to Alex’s right forced a smile and said, “Don’t worry Alex, I’m still in tip-top shape. Let’s kick this guy’s ass and go home.”

Taking another deep breath Alex charged once more swinging the Sword of Althena in a sideways arch at Ghaleon’s head. Stepping quickly backwards the Magic Emperor managed to avoid contact with the magical blade.

Magical energy glowed in the palms of Ghaleon’s hands. First it was a dim blue, but it , ,lmthe magical blast with his shield but was still sent hurdling to the floor from the force of impact.

As Ghaleon readied another energy attack he was caught in the back by a fireball. It exploded off of his magical barrier mere inches away from his body. Though his magical armor deflected the brunt of damage it knocked him off balance allowing Alex to return to his feet unharmed.

Still off balance from the brown haired girl’s fireball, Ghaleon wasn’t able to dodge the next frontal assault launched by Alex. Taking the full blow to the chest he lurched backwards. If it wasn’t for his magical shield the strike would have been fatal. Alex rushed at Ghaleon once more, but this time Ghaleon sidestepped around him charging an enormous fireball in his hand. Alex spun around just in time to bring up his shield as Ghaleon launched the massive flaming orb, however, the orb missed Alex by several feet.

Michael understood Ghaleon’s strategy at once. Ghaleon wasn’t aiming at Alex, but at the magic using girl. Luckily Ruby caught this too, and in the split second before Ghaleon’s fireball hit, Ruby cast a spell of fire resistance on the brown haired girl. Alex turned his head just in time to watch the brown haired girl explode into flames. With a shriek more of surprise than pain she collapsed to the glistening marble floor.

“YOU BASTARD!” cried the other magic user thinking the woman he loved had just been killed, “You son of a bi…” He trailed off as shock transformed into rage and then into pure electrical energy. With the last ounce of his strength he sent a bolt of lightning directly into Ghaleon’s mid torso. Focusing his energies into his magical barrier Ghaleon weathered the electrical attack without taking much damage to himself. Alex watched helplessly as his friend collapsed from exhaustion. Ghaleon raised an arm and begun charging up for another energy strike.

Things were happening fast, and Michael understood that if they were to have any chance of turning things around they’d have to act quickly. “Ryan, get to their healer now!” he commanded in a loud whisper. “Kevin, you just make sure we stay invisible. Ruby, try to hamper Ghaleon’s attacks, but don’t make it too obvious.” They fanned out, Ryan rushed to the blonde girl and began praying, Ruby ran to Alex’s last standing friend, and Michael went to the Dragonmaster’s side.

“Kyle look out!” Alex screamed. Ruby slammed into Kyle at the last second pulling him to the ground. A bolt of green energy narrowly missing them both. Alex sighed in relief. He didn’t know how Kyle managed to dodge that quickly, but he was glad. Still, Kyle was down and likely out of the fight.

“Well now Dragonboy. This looks a bit more even doesn’t it,” said Ghaleon as he took a step toward Alex. “This is how it should be don’t you agree? The battle that will decide the fate of Lunar is now between you and I. The Magic Emperor against the mighty Dragonmaster,” his voice seethed with sarcasm.

In direct contradiction of Ghaleon’s words the blonde haired girl sprung to her feet. “Althena, grant me strength!” she cried out. The green aura of healing magic washed over her fallen comrades. Unseen by her side stood Ryan, former priest of Ghaleon, praying along side her, strengthening her magic.

“Jessica!” Alex said in relief, “I thought you were out of the fight.”

Jessica gave Alex a mischievous grin. “You know me better than that. I’m not going down until we stop this bastard. Which is more than I can say for my worthless boyfriend. Kyle, why aren’t you up yet?”

Kyle shook his head groggily. The healing magic had helped quite a bit, unfortunately, he was still not in prime condition. “Sorry honeybun, but I think my arm’s broken. If you didn’t skip school so much maybe your magic would have done a better job.”

Jessica placed her hands on her hips and scowled at Kyle. “My magic is at its best. If you weren’t such a sloppy fighter you wouldn’t have gotten so hurt.”

“Can the two of you get along long enough for us to fight Ghaleon?” Alex said without taking his eyes off of his foe.

“Sure thing,” Jessica answered, “We’re behind you.”

“So am I,” the brown haired girl said as she pulled herself off the ground.

The male magic user got up as well and stared in amazement at the girl. “Mia, I thought your were dead.”

“No, I’m all right,” she said, “But my magic is drained. How about you Nash?”

The male magic user shook his head. “No, I doubt that I could cast another spell.”

Ghaleon stared in disbelief as his enemies picked themselves up. Somehow the priestess had recovered, even though he had taken her out early in the fight. Ghaleon forced himself to stay focused. They might all be up but they weren’t in the best fighting condition. Nash and Mia were useless without their magic, and Kyle couldn’t put up much of a fight with his broken arm. Still damage had been done. Dragonmaster Alex had been healed too, and now he held the advantage.

For a while Michael believed they had already changed the course of events. Ghaleon had lost the advantage, all Alex had to do was press in hard and he could win. A flicker in Ghaleon’s eye told him otherwise. Michael followed Ghaleon’s gaze over to a flying white cat. Nall! Michael recognized the white cat as the White Dragon in his small form. Michael pointed at Ruby, and then over to Nall. She nodded and ran to the infant dragon.

As Michael predicted Ghaleon flung a fireball at Nall. Alex was caught off guard by the sudden movement, but when he saw the fireball’s target he blanched. “NALL, LOOK OUT!”

At that moment Ghaleon knew he had won. The Dragonmaster had turned to such an angle that he couldn’t deflect any blows, the others were too far away and too weak to stop his attack, and if Alex fell the others would fall as well. A violate blade of energy burst from Ghaleon’s outstretched hand. He thrust it at Alex’s side. It would pierce his lung, killing him, and the fight would be his.

The energy sword never touched Alex. At the last moment the blade was knocked away by an unseen force. The blade missed Alex’s body by less than an inch. The unexpected miss caused Ghaleon stumble forward. Alex spun around and struck Ghaleon hard and fast.

Alex had got in close, and Ghaleon had no way of dodging or parrying the attacks. The Sword of Althena came down once, then twice. Each blow causing Ghaleon’s magical barrier to flare. He knew that Alex would get a third blow, but he also knew that his shield would hold off three direct blows, and he could get away before Alex could hit him with a crucial fourth blow. Ghaleon was confidant that the fight would still be his.

Before the third blow fell Ghaleon was struck hard from behind. His eyes widened in surprise and terror as his magical shield shattered completely. When Alex struck again, he struck flesh. Ghaleon screamed in pain and tried to back away, but an invisible force pushed him forward, straight into the tip of Alex’s sword.

Ghaleon stared down at the sword that was plunged through him, then he stared at the boy who had put it there. Alex jerked the sword out and backed away. Blood smeared Ghaleon’s hands as he touched the point of entry. Looking at that blood he realized the truth. He had lost.

Michael’s hand was still on Ghaleon’s back. He had struck the blow that destroyed Ghaleon’s shield, then he had pushed him into Alex’s sword. The Magic Emperor collapsed to the floor. The two Dragonmasters stood over him. “You were one of the Four Heroes,” Alex said, “You were one of my heroes. Why’d you do this Ghaleon? I was wrong about you. You are no hero.”

Unseen to Alex the second Dragonmaster was weeping bitterly into his hand, over the man who he had once worshiped. Ruby placed an arm around Michael as she too cried. Without warning Ghaleon rose to a knee and stared into Alex’s eyes. “You have sent the world into darkness.”

Ghaleon coughed violently and blood flew from his lips. Then he melted into shadow and was gone.

“Michael,” Ruby whispered, “Did he escape? Should we go after him?”

“No,” Michael said, “He’s dying, he just went someplace to do it in private.”

Alex turned toward his friends. “Is everyone okay? Nall, thank goodness you’re alright.”

“I got really lucky on that one, Alex,” Nall said, “I don’t know how Ghaleon missed me. I must have a guardian angel.”

Alex smiled at his friends. “We did it, but all of you need to get off of this Fortress as soon as you can. Nall can you carry everyone again?”

“I…I think so, but what about you, Alex?” Nall asked.

“I came here to save Luna, and I’m not leaving without her. It’s too dangerous for everyone to stay though. All of you need to get to safety.”

Kevin and Ryan walked over to Michael. “Hey buddy, I can’t keep us invisible for much longer,” Kevin said.

“I know,” Michael said, “But I want to know how things play out. Please, just a little longer.”

Michael watched as Nall transformed into his adult dragon form and carried the others off the fortress. Alex stayed behind and headed for the ivory staircase. When he reached it Althena threatened him, but Alex pressed forward. Even from their low vantage point they could see the lighting bolts that Althena used to discourage Alex from proceeding.

When he was about halfway up the staircase Alex stopped. They couldn’t tell exactly what he was doing, but they saw him bring something up to his face. A beautiful melody floated through the air.

“Looks like this Dragonmaster is also a musician,” Ryan commented.

Alex continued to play his instrument as we walked the rest of the way up. Althena deterred him no more. The Dragonmaster and the goddess spoke. They were too far away for Michael to hear, but he saw what happened next perfectly. Alex rose into the air next to Althena, there was a bright flash of light, and when the light receded they had both changed. Alex no longer wore the Dragonmaster Armor, and Althena was now dressed in the simple dress of a country girl. Alex had sacrificed his Dragonmaster powers and turned Althena back into Luna.

“We need to go, now,” Kevin said urgently. His words brought Michael back to his senses. For the first time he noticed that the fortress was shaking violently.

“Dear god, the whole place is going to come crashing down,” Ryan said.

Ruby, not a stranger to quick getaways, immediately grew into her dragon form. Michael and the others climbed onto her back and started to fly away just as the mighty Fortress began to crumble. From their viewpoint in the sky they watched the life energy flow back into Lunar, and the desolate wasteland grew green with life once again.

“Continue to circle until we spot Alex and Luna,” Michael told Ruby, “I’m not going to let them die after all they’ve been through.”

“I can see them,” Kevin shouted, “Over there.”

Michael followed his finger until he spotted the two. They were in some sort of magical bubble, floating down past the crumbling fortress side by side. “They’re safe, let’s get out of here,” Michael said.

Behind him Kevin let out an audible sigh as the invisibility spell ended. “ ’Bout damn time,” he muttered, “You guys should really try to keep a spell going for that long. Its not fun, trust me.”

* * * *

Ruby chose to land next to a flowing stream at a cliff base. “Michael, can we talk?” she asked, “In private?”

Michael spotted Kevin and Ryan over by the stream. “Of course,” he said, leading her to a grove of trees.

“You saw what Alex did with Althena,” She said, “It was the same thing the Star Dragon told us Dyne did for Althena.”

“Yeah,” Michael replied, “I saw.”

Ruby took a deep breath then said, “Michael, I want to be human.”

Michael looked at her in surprise. “Would it work?”

She nodded. “If it works on a goddess why wouldn’t it work on a dragon?”

“And you’re sure?” he asked.

She smiled up at him. “I would rather live for another fifty years with you than live an extra thousand without you. I‘ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”

“Okay,” he said, embracing her. They kissed, and as their lips met an aura of brilliant light engulfed them. He felt his magical energy peak, all of it gathering in one spot, then it evaporated away. All of the magic he once had was gone.

Ruby looked at him with brown eyes, human eyes. They kissed again; Michael was a Dragonmaster no more.


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