Chapter 1:


The Awakening

The Awakening
“Run!” he only glanced back for a moment before bracing himself for the onslaught. “I said run! Get out of here.”
“But, Albin,” she said grabbing his arm with her tears threatening to fall, “I can’t do this without you. “
“You can, and you will,” he said adjusting the grip on his sword. “You are far stronger than you think; besides it’s my job as a knight to protect you.”
“But, you’re not a knight, you’re a squire,” she pleaded as she readjusted the child clinging to her in fear.
“Then if not a knight, I’m your big brother, and it’s my job to protect my sisters,” he said with a smile, meant to mask his own fear. “Take Alice and go. You might be able to reach the tunnels if you take the servants’ passages. I’ll follow as soon as I can.”
Auona turns with her young sister clinging to her neck and rushes toward the passageway behind them. She hears the clang of metal behind her and the clash of shields. She didn’t look back, just moves forward, down the hall as the chaos continues. Alice was petrified with fear, not making a sound but putting all her energy into a crushing hold on her sister. She could hear the sound of soldiers down the hall ransacking the small estate. Auona crouched down behind a sofa and tried to find her bravery and her breath. She herself was still in shock. The ward protecting the estate should have easily kept the mundane soldiers from setting a foot on the property, but somehow they poured over the threshold. She couldn’t even figure out why they were being targeted; they weren’t important, her family was one of a thousand lesser nobles with no special ties or truly great wealth. But the army of the mundane didn’t really care, they had launched their jihad against magic users five years ago crying that Mages, took advantage and suppressed the mundane. Had the mundane found magic users to aid them? Is that how they brought down the wards? She remembered a blinding flash, the signal that the wards had fallen, and the panic that had quickly sunk in afterwards. The rush to the nursery, grabbing her young sister, only four, before her brother showed up with sword and shield in hand.
Holding her sister to her breast she glanced under the couch to look for the boots to see if the coast was clear. She rose as quietly as she could and only managed a few steps before being knocked to the ground. She instinctively covered Alice as she looked up to see one of the trespassers. He quickly brought down his sword and without a thought she held up her hand to block the blade. She was lucky the old blade was not nearly as sharp as a professional soldier’s. It didn’t slice her hand off but only open. She ignored the pain, and this time called forth a shield of magic energy to block the second blow. The dull sword glanced off the arcane circle sending sparks into the air.
“Auka!” she shouted and the force field expanded outward, repelling the attacker and pounding him into the wall. Auona didn’t waste any time and fled down the next hall.
She rushed through the kitchen toward the pantry, opening the door and tearing through the contents scattering them across the floor. Auona placed her hand on the rough wood paneling and an archaic circle appeared. She rushed through a series of images in her head to recall the combination before keying in the correct one. The panel began to slide as she breathed a sigh of relief. A rumble filled the air then the kitchen wall peeled back from the outside. The large snout of a dragon then poked in through the rubble, followed by a deafening roar. On instinct she activated the shield spell with a shout of “Flytileio,” and closed her eyes as the room was filled with fire. The magic circle began to glow as it worked to protect its creator from the flames.
Auona looked behind her at the passage, ready to run, only to feel her stomach drop down seeing the avenue of their escape now blocked with rubble.
“Well, well, you look like a tasty pair,” the dragon growled as he pushed his way through the entrance through the wall and rubble.
“Auka!” she shouted, and her shield expanded outward toward the beast before breaking apart on contact with the predator. She peeled Alice off her body, placed her on the floor in the pantry and stood shielding the child with her body.
“You have nothing that can stop me. Did you think after smashing the wards your paltry shield would do anything against me,” he said as he crawled closer.
Auona was near panic and backed into a corner, the terrified child behind her, blood dripping down her arms from the wound across her hand. She needed to find a way to get her to safety.
“You need to be brave,” Auona said, hurriedly leading the child into what was left of the pantry before closing the door with Alice inside. Alice, in a cationic state of trauma, just stood there. Auona began to draw on the door, her back to the dragon, her blood mixing with the chalk as she drew the arcane circles. She could feel the dragon getting closer, pressing on her barrier. The rules of magic were pretty simple and one of the key rules was you can only cast one spell at a time. So in order to do what she needed to do, her shield would be gone and she would be vulnerable. But it was the only way.
The last rune drawn, she turned to face the dragon, staring into his golden cat-like eyes, letting all her magic build up for one spell, most likely her final spell. Her voice was calm as she spoke the words, “teleport oryggi,” and the barrier came down and the pantry door began to glow. The feeling Auona had was of hope, her last feeling was that of unrelenting, searing heat.