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Through the Flames (Pt. 4)

The Returning...

No rest. 

Arthur slept restlessly, dreaming about his family, his town, the fire that engulfed everything around him, the panic he felt, the fear that gripped at his heart. He relived the whole ordeal over and over again in his dreams. Not the most restful night sleep he has ever had to say the least. 

Arthur woke up what sounded like metal grinding on stone. As he came to he heard a deep, low rumble echoing over the cave, which he came to see in more detail, now that he wasn't in pain and there was sunlight peering through the mouth of the cave.

The first thing Arthur noticed was how immense the cave actually was. What he at first thought was just a space big enough to fit him and the dragon, was a space as vast as the valley behind his hometown. Redwater, Arthur thinks to himself. 

"Do not worry little one, your town has not been completely destroyed." The dragon said as he lumbered toward Arthur. 

Awestruck, Arthur was able to see now just how colossal this dragon actually was.

The dragon had a short face with long and smooth metallic horns that swept back from its nose and brow, as well as the neck frills that adorned both sides of its neck. From the mouth and nostrils descended four pairs of long, flexible muscular spines that resembled whiskers or barbels. Along with the dragon's narrow eyes, these features contributed to give him a look of sagacity, his eyes had an appearance of shiny, liquid gold.

As the dragon stepped toward him, broad sail-like wings that started from his shoulders and extended all the way to the end of his extremely long tail, stretched open. Then a gold dragon walking toward him and something stranger started happening, the gold dragon started shifting, changing, morphing. 

By the time the dragon reached him there, standing in front of Arthur was a tall, sun-tanned, smooth faced man. Blonde, brown hair that fell down slightly passed his shoulders. 

"My name is Brerserth, but in this form, you may call me Anselm."

"You said that my family could still be alive." Arthur said to him as Anselm stepped passed him and approached the mouth of the cave.

"I did not see them die, or dead. So yes, there is a chance, and you must hope that they are alive. For if they were taken where I believe they were taken, then they might not last long."

"Then I need to go to them now!" Arthur exclaimed as he started to storm out of the cave.

"I like the gusto," Anselm said with a grin.

"But you are not yet ready. You have the heart and the will to save them. But you do not have the skill, little one."

"I don't have time to sit here and learn how to swing a sword properly or how to shoot an arrow!"

"No you do not. You will not have to." Anselm said to Arthur as he walked past him in the the valley ahead.

 Arthur was starting to feel the fear, anguish and desperation all over again.

"Let your self feel fear, but do not let it paralyze you." Anselm said to Arthur as he kept walking away from him.

"Come. We have much to do, and very little time.

They walked through the valley for hours, without saying a word. Arthur, too worried to speak, also still so confused about how it came to be that he was walking with a gold dragon across the valley and it was not killing him.

"If you are such a great gold dragon, with the capability to save the town, why wait so long to react and why only save me?" Arthur asked, with some of the frustration he was feeling escaping him. 

"Who says I was capable of saving the whole town? Maybe just saving you was the extent of my ability. Maybe the Verthicha Sthyri are stronger than even me." Anselm said to Arthur without turning to him.

Arthur's frustration set in a little deeper.

"Frustration and impatience has no place in your heart, it clouds judgment as blindly as anger." Anselm says again, without turning to him.

"Where are we even going?" Arthur asks.

Anselm, as he keeps walking turns to look at Arthur.

"Back to Redwater."

As they approach Redwater, the sky was dark, somber. gray clouds roll over the town.

"Was the sky not bright and blue about two miles ago?" Arthur asked Anselm.

"That is true, you are very sharp little one. The Verthicha Sthyri's darkness is lingering here." Anselm says to Arthur.

"What does any of that mean?" Arthur says, completely confused to what Anselm was saying.

"Come, we are approaching the town," Anselm responds. 

As they approached the town, or better yet burned down ruins of a town, Arthur just walks by looking at the ruins, the building that used to be the general store, multiple houses, so many buildings he grew up knowing, seeing, walking by, completely burned down, destroyed. There were a few people walking the streets, examining the damage, trying to see if there is anything salvageable.

As they kept walking, they eventually made it to the town center. A number of different people, families walking together with no home to go to, lonely men and women helping each other, trying to find family members that have been missing for days. Some are just together to give each other company after losing everything.

Arthur looked up in the the sky from the middle of the town center, the dark, grey clouds grew darker the and a slow snow fall began to coat the ground.

"Snow?" Arthur asked.

"This does not bode well little one, come, our time has just been cut short." Anselm said.

As they kept walking, from a house that is very much in tact, but completely burned and black, they hear a blood curdling shriek, that made the hairs on Arthur's neck stand on end.

"What was that?" Arthur asked.

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