Verse of Estoria Ballad of the Heavens

  • 17 Dec - 23 Dec, 2022
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Fiction

Drake raises his arms to cover his face and the Tengu lord slams head first into his guard knocking him off his feet... Drake slams on his back as the Tengu flaps his wings flying into the air with a slightly bent knee.

Drake sits up rubbing the throbbing in his arms. He looks up at the Tengu glowering down at him.

“Father, this is pointless. Stop!” Jasmine shouts stomping her feet in protest.

“Stand aside Jasmine.” The King Tengu says. “As princess and heir to the throne you cannot afford to be gullible. One must do anything to find the truth even if it means destroying someone.”

“But” she says but Drake holds out her hand, silencing her.

“It’s fine,” Drake says standing to his feet glaring up at his opponent. If this is what he wants, then I’ll show it to him.

Drake walks forward looking up at the flying Tengu squeezing his fists from the throbbing pain.

“If I prove myself to be truthful, what will you do then?” Drake asks, halting just a few feet away from the flying foe.

“I’ll bring you into my palace and we can discuss the matter in private. But if you fail, I’ll toss you off the island personally.”

“That works for me,” Drake says with a confident nod.

“Very well then. Clear the Platform,” The Tengu shouts thrusting out his palm addressing his subjects, this place has now become a battle ground.

All the Tengus and Harpies standing on the spruce platform leap from where they stand and fly off the platform leaving Drake and Jasmine alone.

Jasmine glowers up at her father shaking her head in deep disapproval then she looks at Drake standing firm.

“Forgive us, young Drake.” Jasmine says with a slight bow.

“Don’t worry about it.” Drake says. “This happens to me a lot.”

Jasmine smiles at Drake’s confidence, takes a few steps back, morphs into her harpy form and flies into the air.

The platform now clear, Drake takes in a deep oak scented breath and releases it out of his mouth.

“Drake,” Fane informs, “This is a flying opponent and he will use his strengths to his advantage. Prepare yourself.”

“Can I use verses without the sword?” Drake asks.

‘Yes, you can but they’ll be slightly weaker.”

With a strong wing beat the Tengu King jets towards Drake. The tengu balls his fist for anticipating a swift and precise win but Drake spins aside avoiding the flying fist. The tengu stops in mid-flight turns around and charges again.

Drake side steps another pass and ducks beneath another as the Tengu’s flight became quicker and more accurate.

At this point he’ll hit me,ÊHe thinks as a swift pass delivered a blow to his shoulder. Drake shrugs off the pain and takes off in a jog with his feet tapping the wood as his eyes track the flying foe.

“Got to keep moving.” Drake says huffing.

The Tengu charges towards the young warrior flapping his wings as he spins through the air.

Drake feels hardened feathers scratch his back as he zooms past him in a gust of wind. stumbling forward, he ignores the noisome pain on his back and continues his run. The winged warrior turns his body in full motion facing Drake opens his wings and swings them in rapid succession, unleashing dozens of razor sharp feathers towards Drake.

Drake, looking at the hissing feathers, leaps back as the projectiles thud into the ground. Drake circles the platform feeling the sweat pouring down his face as his heart raced faster than his feet. However, several pinch-like pains in his leg made him look down to see red feathers burrowed in his legs. The tengu cease hurling projectiles, leaving scores of feathers driven in the platform. Drake drops to a knee panting as beads of sweat drips off the tip of his nose.

Glancing at his leg, Drake tenses, clenching his teeth, as he grips one of the hard feathers. Wincing in pain, he yanks it out from his flesh and holds it in front of his eyes noticing the sharp edges and the pointed tip. Drake tosses the feather aside and glares up at the Tengu flapping his wings hovering in the air.

“Hardening.” The tengu shouts. “Can make the most delicate objects deadly.”

Drake’s legs tremble as he stands to his feet. Pain resonates in his torso remembering the heavy blows it endured from the interrogation.

I won’t last if I don’t do something. Drake says to himself. Most of the verses I have are close range. Except one.

Drake holds out his arm and scribble BLASTVOLLY in the air. Then, seven embers burst into existence arcing over Drake’s head and morph into arrows. The arrows point upward towards the Tengu King in unison and with a swing of Drake’s arm, dart towards him. The arrows rotate around each other as they sizzle through the air.

The King’s narrowed look turns to a sneer as he zips over the soaring arrows with a wingbeat. The arrows circle around for another pass and jet towards the Tengu as Drake keeps his eyes fixed on his opponent.

“It’s no use, The tengu shouts. That verse can’t…”

The approaching arrows split in all directions zipping around him like hornets. The king’s head turns he spins trying to keep his eyes on each verse. He turns avoiding one and spins around avoiding another.

"Tch! Trifling” The tengu curses as a flap of his wings propels him forward. Zooming through the air, explosive arrows hone in He dives towards the platform with arrows tailing him and propels forward in a gust of wind barely avoiding collision with the ground. Variable booms shoot through the forest as arrows collide into the floor. Flying to the left and right only a few feet above ground the Tengu speeds towards Drake for a final blow.

“You shouldn’t depend so heavily on one verse young one.” The Tengu says as he beats his wing for a final burst of speed.

“It’s all in how you use it.” Drake says with a sneer plastered across his face. He leaps away revealing one final arrow suspended in the air directly behind.

The tengu’s eyes widen in panic as the arrow launches towards him. Flying at a very high speed, the tengu couldn’t evade in time. He straightens himself in mid-air and dug his talons into the ground. The arrow zips through the air directly towards and the Tengu cover’s his face with his arms bracing himself for impact.

However, Drake snaps his fingers and the arrow vanishes in a burst of embers that the Tengu skids through to a halt. He drops to a knee contemplating his recent blunder.

Drake grips his blood-soaked leg as he winces from his wounds.

“Well play young lad,” The tengu says as he stands and saunters towards Drake with his clawed feet clapping the floor. As he walks his wings recede into his back and the visible feathers vanish until all that was left was a muscular older man with a red beard. He walks up to drake and squares off with him.

“Placing his hands on his shoulders,’ The tengu king gives a firm reassuring squeeze.

“You speak the truth.” The tengu says nodding at Drake. “The way you move shows that you’ve handled King Radius. Forgive my rude trial. I know my daughter favours your presence but I had to be sure you weren’t deceiving her.”

“I understand.” Drake nods before wincing in pain at the stings in his leg.

“Forgive me for that as well,’ The tengu laughs. “Looking at you, I could tell you faced many battles yourself. I figured you can handle it.”

“I understand that a little less.” Drake says in a laughing sigh.

The King throws his head back in boisterous laughter.

“Ah yes, I love a man with a sense of humor. He shouts. Come, I welcome you to my palace. Ladies please prepare Drake for our banquet.”

“Everyone!" The king shouts to all of his people, "Let’s celebrate our newcomer.” Then everyone erupts in cheers and birdcalls as all of the subjects descend around Drake and the King.

A blue light shines inside the throne room as the sun peers through the waterfall behind Radius’s throne. Built inside of a mountain, the sun beaming through the waterfall lit the rocky walls with a faint blue colour as fresh water scent permeate the air. Bubbling water flows down a built-in crevice near the corners of the wall exiting through a small opening near the double doors.

Radius sits on his granite stone throne with a black mask covering half his face as his hands clench the arms in kindled rage. Herria sits next to him with her auburn hair wrapped neatly under her tiara while holding a blue scaled baby dragon on her lap. Mahogany in all her white scales and wings folded behind her back, kneels at the base of the stone steps head lowered in shame.

“Do you know the amount of pain I endure each day from this wound inflicted upon me?” He asks placing his hand on his face as it trembles in agony. “It feels like hundreds of sickles stabbing me in the face. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible for me to sleep at night.”

“But” he continues raising a finger. “It wasn’t for nothing, no. I found the one thing that can bring our people back to glory, cure the plague that nearly brought us to ruin and avenge all those who dared to stand against us! And now you show up to my throne and tell me… that he escaped?”

Forgive me your highness,” Mahogany says lowering her head trembling.

Radius yanks off his black mask revealing his marred face with his white pupil-less eye and hurls it towards the woman as it clunks off the stone floor.

“I want him back!” His voice booms in the throne room. “Without him, all that I’ve been through would’ve been for nothing! Do you understand, Mahogany!” Take two dragons from my elite guard, go over to that rat nest of a people calling themselves Avians and bring him back to me.”

“It will be done sire,” Mahogany says as she stands to her feet.

“Get out!”

Mahogany turns waving her scaly white tail in the air as her feet clapped the floor.

High in the sun lit sky, dozens of large eagles varying in size soar over the ocean calling out to each other. Their tail feathers flap in the wind as their eyes peer ahead to their destination. A slender hand clasps the back of one eagle and Ura climbs on top of the black feathered bird. With a rope attached to her waist, she turns around grips the line and pulls. Muscles tightening, she yanks the rope with all of her strength pulling Kevin and Maria strapped together onto the flying creature. Ura collapse onto her backside smiling in exhaustion as her short black hair wave in the wind. Maria quickly unties the rope from their waist, dives towards the side of the eagle and pukes the fish she had for breakfast. Kevin’s glum eyes wearily eyes Ura as she stands on her feet, placing her hands on her waist.

“We made it” She says as she peers ahead using her hand as a visor.

Kevin clasps her shoulders spins her around with a ghost-like look on his face.

“You…are….INSANE!” He shouts clenching her shoulders. We were dangling from a rope high in the sky!

“What?” Ura says shrugging her shoulders.

“Do you have ANY idea how frightened I was? You don’t just push us off a cliff into a river and strap us to an eagle without giving us a heads up.”

“You wouldn't have jumped if I didn’t,” Ura says.

“That’s because humans and giants can’t…FLY!”

“That’s not true. Ura says smiling opening her arms. “Everyone can fly. All you need is the wings.”

Kevin sighs and shakes his head as he releases her shoulders as his arms slump back to his sides.

“You’re hopeless!”

He drops to his knees and his palms feels the smooth feathers.

The bird tilts slightly as it turns to make room for another eagle to pass above it. Kevin quickly goes prone clasping the feathers in his hand.

Ura laughs seeing him quiver from fear.

Maria walks up to the two gracing her aching stomach, drops to her knees and collapses on to her face in exhaustion.

“My…she says huffing, I never thought puking would make me feel better.”

“You’ll get used to it,” Ura says as she turns around and walks up to the neck of the flying creature. A white cloud overtakes them as the eagle flies through and they feel the cool icy water droplets grace their skin.

Ura plops down cross-legged with her hands plopped inside like spoons in a bowl as she pensively stares ahead.

Kevin looks up and watches the girl hum a soft sad melody to herself.

to be continued...