Book 8 - Conquest for the Truth - Chapter 16 - Trust

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httyyd
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This chapter is building up for the next chapter.  I am getting very hyped for the next chapter as I will do something I have never done before.

 

This book is so much fun to write, I just wish I had more time in a day to write it and do other things too.

 

But before that can happen, I hope you enjoy this chapter and its epicness!

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Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

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Book 10 - The Shattered Axe

Chapter 17 - Back on Track

 

The Jarl Mollerson Mystery Series

All Chapter Links
 

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

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Here are links to the chapters of my fan-fic series.  The books go in chronological order.

 

The Clue of the Missing Socks.

Chapters 1 and 2                         Chapter 3                                       Chapter 4

Chapter 5                                      Chapter 6                                        Chapter 7

Chapters 8 and 9                        Chapter 10                                     Chapter 11

Chapters 12 and 13                     Chapters 14, 15, and 16             Chapter 17

Chapter 18                                    Chapter 19                                      Chapter 20

Chapter 21 and 22                      Chapter 23                                     Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26 - There is a hidden surprise.  Can you find it?

Chapter 27                                   Chapter 28, Part 1                         Chapter 28, Part 2

Chapter 29                                   Chapter 30                                       Chapter 31

Chapter 32                                   Chapter 33                                       Chapter 34

Chapter 35                                   Chapter 36                                       Chapter 37

Chapter 38                                   Chapter 39                                       Chapter 40

Chapter 41                                   Chapter 42                                       Chapter 43

Chapter 44                                   Chapter 45, Parts 1 and 2

 

The Mysterious Frozen Fire

Chapter 1         Chapter 2         Chapter 3         Chapter 4         Chapter 5         Chapter 6

Chapter 7         Chapter 8         Chapter 9         Chapter 10       Chapter 11       Chapter 12

Chapter 13       Chapter 14       Chapter 15        Chapter 16       Chapter 17       Chapter 18  

Chapter 19       Chapter 20      Chapter 21        Chapter 22, Part 1       Chapter 22, Part 2 

Chapter 22, Part 3

Epilogue/Preview for my Third Story!

 

Thoughts of Guilt

Chapters 1 and 2          Chapters 3 and 4          Chapter 5          Chapter 6          Chapter 7

Chapter 8          Chapter 9          Chapter 10          Chapter 11          Chapter 12, Part 1

Chapter 12, Part 2          Chapter 13         Chapter 14         Chapter 15         Chapter 16

Chapter 17 and 18         Chapter 19         Chapter 20         Chapter 21         Chapter 22

Chapter 23         Chapter 24         Chapter 25         Chapter 26         Chapter 27

Chapter 28         Chapter 29         Chapter 30         Chapter 31         Chapter 32

Chapter 33         Chapter 34         Chapter 35         Chapter 36 and 37

Chapter 38, Part 1         Chapter 39, Part 2         Chapter 40, Part 3         Chapter 41

Chapter 42, Parts 1 and 2         Chapter 43         Chapter 44

Chapter 45, Part 1         Chapter 45, Part 2

 

On the Edge of Mystery

Chapter 1          Chapter 2         Chapter 3        Chapters 4 & 5    Chapter 6, Parts 1 and 2   

Chapter 7          Chapter 8         Chapter 9            Chapter 10       Chapter 11        Chapter 12

Chapter 13        Chapter 14       Chapter 15          Chapter 16        Chapter 17       Chapter 18

Chapter 19        Chapter 20       Chapter 21          Chapter 22       Chapter 23      Chapter 24

Chapter 25        Chapter 26       Chapter 27         Chapter 28        Chapter 29 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 30       Chapter 31       Chapter 32 and 33                         Chapter 34 Parts 1 and 2 

Chapter 35 Part 1         Chapter 35 Part 2        Chapter 35 Part 3        Chapter 36

 

The Secret Symbol

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7     Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21   Chapter 22   Chapter 23   Chapter 24 and 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29 and 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39

Chapter 40 and 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43, 44, 45, and 46

 

The Legend of Shadow Mountain

Chapter 1    Chapter 2    Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5

Chapter 6    Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapter 10

Chapter 11    Chapter 12    Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15

Chapter 16   Chapter 17    Chapter 18    Chapter 19    Chapter 20

Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23    Chapter 24    Chapter 25

Chapter 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29    Chapter 30

Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34    Chapter 35

Chapter 36    Chapter 37    Chapter 38    Chapter 39    Chapter 40

Chapter 41    Chapter 42    Chapter 43    Chapter 44    Chapter 45 & 46

Chapter 47    Chapter 48    Chapter 49    Chapter 50    Chapter 51

 

Teaser "Trailer" for Book 8 - Conquest of the Truth

 

The Crimson Storm

Chapters 1 and 2     Chapter 3    Chapter 4    Chapter 5    Chapter 6

Chapter 7    Chapter 8    Chapter 9    Chapters 10 and 11    Chapter 12

Chapter 13    Chapter 14    Chapter 15    Chapter 16    Chapter 17    Chapter 18

Chapter 19    Chapter 20    Chapter 21    Chapter 22    Chapter 23

Chapter 24    Chapter 25 and 26    Chapter 27    Chapter 28    Chapter 29

Chapter 30    Chapter 31    Chapter 32    Chapter 33    Chapter 34

Chapter 35 and Epilogue

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httyyd
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The mathematician needs glasses. He keeps saying "Pi R Squared."

This is the epic music mix for this chapter:
EPIC POWERFUL CINEMATIC ORCHESTRAL MUSIC | Epic Music Mix

 

Conquest for the Truth

 

Chapter 16

Trust

 

Jarl's Point of View

 

         With the boot on the other foot in this case, we are tracking Vixxen instead of the other way around.  It is easy to track because of the snow and also because Vixxen is not trying to cover up where she is going either.  Maybe she thinks we would try to help Valkarik, but maybe she also thinks we were long gone and already halfway back to our base of operations by then.

         It looks like Vixxen did not have Ragnorak with her as the tracks lead us across the Aurum plains to the southern part of the island.  As we near the southern shores, we hear some commotion, so we run up behind a boulder, climb it, and lay down to survey the land.

         Using our own spy glasses for short distances, we observe a net launcher behind a barn with Vixxen and some of her vikings around preparing for Valkarik.

         The quietness of the night allows us to overhear Vixxen saying something to Klarp, “Once that Shinfira kid comes in, tell him to meet us on the southern shores of Ishtar.  We need to move into the next phase of our plan.”

         Nothing else was said for us to overhear, so, wanting to make quick work of this, I whisper to the girls, “You know, it is very easy to freeze in this cold.”

         I reach for my belt and grab another bomb, a Flightmare Bomb.  The girls do the same as we come up behind the small group.  Including Vixxen and Klarp, there are six vikings, two for each of us.  Waiting for the girls to get into position around them, we throw the bombs at the vikings.  I aim at Vixxen and Klarp, Annabeth takes the two on the net launcher, and Cazi hits the two standing to the side.

         In moments, they are all frozen stiff by the gel.  Walking up behind Vixxen and Klarp, I reveal myself.  Only seeing her eyes watch me.  I lift my first two fingers on my right hand, saluting her as the girls flag down Valkarik.  Though there is extra weight, we three hop on the back and I tell Valkarik to fly back south.  Cazi behind Valkarik and Annabeth and I laying next to them on either side.

         As we circle around the island to the southwest, Valkarik sighs in relief, “Boy am I glad to see you guys.”

         “Not to use this as a welcome back comment, but,” Cazi starts.  “You’re awfully slimy.”

         “Long story,” Valkarik gives a sarcastic chuckle.

         Annabeth declares, “We have time.”

         Valkarik goes into the story of the time she has spent away from us.  This lasts well into the time we get back to the base and sit around the main fire as she concludes her story.  There still is a definite presence of past experience between Theodor and even Marth, but Valkarik has not said what.  I do not press for an answer, for now, but I believe we will find out sooner or later what it is.

         Valkarik finishes, “These herbs seem to be the catalyst for The Legend of Shadow Mountain.  Whatever we find at the end of this mystery, these herbs should help us.  Not sure in what way, though.”

         She asks what we have been up to since she has been gone.

         Once telling her the aftermath of our epic defeat, Annabeth suggests, “What we found out from that tavern, those four additional points on Izar, could those be for these herbs?  These herbs could be the key to unlocking something.”

         “I think you’re right,” I state.  “Valkarik it is great to have you back.”

         “I don’t feel great to be back,” she replies.  “Ali is still with The Fifth Fleet.  We have to go back and get her, one of the reasons why I left.”

         Finally thinking we have some good news, I tell her, “Well, we found out that Vixxen wants Theodor to come to the southern shores of Ishtar.  I think that will be a proper place to introduce ourselves.”  Standing up, I then address those in the room, particularly Sif, “You’ve wanted to go on the offense, well I think this is our chance.  We’ve nearly got every puzzle piece from every island, but we still don’t know what we are looking for.  We know there is a Skrill railgun and a connection to what a Dragon Mage is, but these still seem to point to something else.  The two remaining islands are Ishtar and Iskyn, besides Izar.  But I have a feeling Izar’s puzzle is the prelude to place where all the puzzle pieces come together to form the picture of the end of this mystery.  We still have a few friends missing, but we will go on the offense to try and find them while also taking out some assets to this war.  Theodor and the Fifth Fleet.  While this Theodor, by Valkarik’s experience with him is a threat, I feel he can be easily defeated.  I don’t say this out of arrogance of confidence, see where that got us before.  But if you don’t believe in something can be done, it will never be accomplished.”

         Sif then steps forward to coordinate efforts and develop a plan of action.  Once we have a good idea of what we will do, we decide we need to get some sleep.  Everyone goes to their rooms and turns in for the night.

         Saying, “Goodnight,” to everyone, and making sure to hug my parents and my little sister, I then go with Annabeth into her room she was in before.

         Taking off our armor and the tunics Sif gave us, setting them to the side, we kiss each other, “Goodnight,” and we get in bed.

         Finally, a chance to simply take a deep breath without fear of something happening, I put my arms around Annabeth, who is laying in front of me.  She wraps her arms around mine.

         Bringing my hand up to her face to kiss it, she says softly, “I love you, Jarl,” before returning her arms back where they were.  I reply, “I love you, Annabeth.”

 

         The next morning at sunrise, we are up and going about preparing for the day ahead.  Sif’s scouts report Vixxen and Theodor are indeed on Ishtar and The Fifth Fleet is docked on the southern shores of the island.  She also adds one of them saw a Thunderdrum with Fredrick’s description.  While I am glad to hear it and I am not sure how to get him out of the state he is in.  I move on with this information.  Sif and I go over some last-minute details.

         But before we could go too much farther, Sif stops, “Wait… I hear something.”

         Pausing to listen, I tell the rest to quiet down too.

         Sif then says, “It’s the main entrance!”

         Sif starts running out through a tunnel to the west, we all follow in pursuit.  The main entrance is the way to come into this compound from land if we were unable to fly around to the rear of the island and enter through the cove.

         We all follow Sif to this point and are greeted by none other than Aiyana along with Mala and Atali, each on Aiyana’s three dragons, Aiyana on Apollo, Dramillion; Mala on Kaimana, Sliquifier; and Atali on Akadi, Flightmare.

         Atail is the first to announce, “Aiyana needs medical attention.”

         “I’m fine,” she declares.  “It’s just a scratch.”

         Aiyana is holding her left arm near her shoulder.

         Mala adds, “I would hardly consider taking a passing arrow to the arm just a scratch.  I’ll live.”

         I ask, “What happened?”

         Mala explains, “After being captured by none other than Einar himself.  Since Atali and I are some of your leaders for the ground forces, Einar took it a personal task to take us for capture.”

         Atali adds, “Though the man hardly spent any time with us.  We were neither question about anything or dealt harshly with.  Both of which I was fully expecting because he singled both of us out to be kept separately in locked rooms apart from the rest of our forces.  I think he was going to use us as bait or a bargaining chip later on.”

         Aiyana speaks up as Fira comes back with some supplies and starts tending to the wound of Aiyana’s, “I think I was the only to escape capture from anyone.  Well, permanent capture.  I was captured, but while in transport to be taken to a place to be held… Someone forgot to muzzle the Flightmare.  Until we between an area on Iyer from where the battle took place and another where a ship was supposed to pick us up, I signaled to Skadi to make his presence known by all who were around.  My dragons and I escaped to Izar while we hung low until things settled down.  That took the rest of the day and into the night.  Unfortunately for Einar, he chose to set up a base of operation on the eastside of Izar.  Using my infiltration skills, I was able to get inside their base, find out some things but more importantly found out where some of the captives were being held.  I found out Mala and Atali were there.  I rested my dragons and waited until early this morning, while it was still dark, and returned to say my hellos to them.  Skadi froze everyone in sight.  But after getting Mala and Atali out of where they were being held, Einar must have been away because as we were about to mount our dragons, he started firing arrows.  Apollo was able to pin Einar down behind something with his fire, but as we were flying away, Einar still had the range to fire and arrow at us.”

         Atali commends Aiyana, “Had Aiyana not seen the arrow, I may not be here this moment.  Aiyana had only a moment to dive off her dragon and in the path of the arrow.  She deflected the arrow only a moment before it struck me in the back.  Apollo quickly responded and caught her after he felt his rider not on his back.  Then we retreated and came here just now.”

         Sif immediately responds, “Were you followed?”

         “We are unsure if someone kept an eye on us,” Atali replies.  “But no dragon rider followed us.”

         Mala questions, “Do you think we compromised this location by coming here.”

         Before I could answer, Sif instead answers, “No, you’re fine.  We’ll just move to our back up plan.  Jarl, you and your crew go on without us.  I’ll make sure we regroup at a secure location.  You go get your friend.”

         “Thanks, Sif,” I tell her as she walks away.

         She stops, though does not say a word, then continues on.  I think she is beginning to understand, yet still set in her ways.

         “Cazi,” I request.  “I want you to take a small group with you and escort Sif to the new location.  I know she has several around the archipelago, so just make sure they get there safe.”

         Cazi nods and takes with her Ashley, Ohmarr, Thoreous, Meen, and Explod.

         Heather then reminds, “What about Garth?  He still hasn’t returned.”

         Saga declares, “I can stay behind and make sure he knows where we went.  If it gets too dicey for me to stay, I’m sure Garth will find us.  He knows where the other locations are.”

         Saga goes off to help Sif make preparations for the move.

         Annabeth then inquires to me, “Did I overhear right when you were discussing the plan with Sif that Vixxen will have Fredrick on one of the ships of The Fifth Fleet.”

         “Yes,” I simply reply.

         Annabeth implores, “We got to get him back, we have to.”

         “I know,” I say.  “But how?”

         Annabeth wonders, “Would it be something similar to when Fishlegs thought he was Thor Bonecrusher?  That to snap him out of it, he had to choose between Meatlug and something else.  Not saying we should put one of us in danger, but would Fredrick could react to seeing one of us, maybe even Anora.”

         I sigh, snapping at her, “He saw us in battle for our lives, yet did nothing.”

         Annabeth lets off, though I look at her as if to say, “I’m sorry.”

         Elsa then speaks up, “May I suggest something?”
         Taking in a deep breath, I turn around and let my little sister speak, “Wouldn’t the Thunderwhips be a great reminder of what Fredrick has with us?”

         “That’d be great,” I state. “If we only had the Thunderwhips with us… They’re back at…”  I trail off, then I fold my arms, “Elsa Norana Mollerson the Excitable!  Are you telling me you brought the Thunderwhips with you?  Where are they now?”

         “With Anora,” Elsa responds.

         I turn to ask Annabeth but she answers my question, “I didn’t know about this.”

         “Actually,” Elsa states.  “Anora was in on this too.  I helped keep them hidden on the trip over here, but once here, Anora took over.  Even Fredrick knows about them being here, so, this is why I was wondering if the four of them would be the perfect thing to get them back.”

         I look at my sister, she adds, “I hope you’re not mad.”

         I walk over and give her a hug, “While I am surprised you didn’t tell me, though I understand why you didn’t tell me… I’m just glad you I bring them because I bet you are absolutely right.  With what Annabeth reminded us about Thor Bonecrusher, the opposite may be true for a dragon.  If a dragon is under some type of spell or suggestion from previous training -if it can be called that- by Vixxen, she could have never counted on the Thunderwhips.”

         Then telling the crew in the room, “Our first priority needs to be getting Ali out of there.  Once we know we can accomplish that, then we can get Fredrick out of there too.  So, what the plan was, there is a slight change in plans.”

         Annabeth questions, “What change is that?”

         Smiling, I look at Valkarik, “What do you think of worms?”

         Caught off guard, she looks at me, slowly answering, “They’re fine… I guess.  Why?”

         I chuckle, “Would you like to go fishing?”

 

         Taking Star Scream, Valkarik and I alone fly towards the shores of Ishtar.

         Valkarik seems tense behind me as well as wanting to say something, but cannot bring herself to say it.  She has been like this since she recognized The Fifth Fleet before the first battle.

         I simply say to her, “We will go easy on your sister.”

         Valkarik is shocked, but I tell her, “I’m not called the Mystery Conqueror for nothing.  Plus, you gave all the telltale signs that anybody could have figured out, given enough time.  Also, for the fact you want us to land on your sister’s ship instead of Theo’s, even though an enemy, you still trust your sister.  I’m sure you have hopes to win her over and defeat your brother.”

         Valkarik quietly responds, “I… I didn’t know how you would feel about me being related to one of our enemies.”

         “It isn’t the first time I have found a friend is related to an enemy,” I chuckle.  “But you got to remember Valkarik, we are your friends and you have to trust us.  If you are unsure of something, be sure to tell us.  A viking is nothing without the friends and family around to support them, so is their trust among them all.  We can only help you as far as your trust goes.  And that goes both ways.”

         “Speaking of telling you something I am worried about, when you write this down in your book, let the record show what I think,” Valkarik tells me.  “This is a terrible idea.”

         “Duly noted,” I grin. 

         Valkarik has her hands behind her back, so she describes the ship which she says is the best to land on.  It is not Theodor’s ship, though by the way she talks, all the ships sound like his.

         Coming up on the ship, I see activity though no one is firing at us.  Landing on the deck, we are greeted by the Supervisor of the ship, Marth Shinfira.

         “Who are you and why do you have the girl with her hands tied behind her back?” asks Marth.

         “I have a proposition for Theodor Shinfira,” I state.  “I bring him an offering of Valkarik, I hear he is looking for her.”

         Valkarik back talks me, “I can’t believe you.  You’ll never get away with this.”

         Marth questions, “Get away with what?”

         “Well,” I begin.  “After taking such a beating and narrowly escaping with our lives yesterday during the first battle, it struck a chord with me.  I was thinking that maybe I should cut our losses and team up.  I have a family to protect and I have put them in harms way, more than I realized.”

         Valkarik interjects, “Yeah, but what about your friends?”

         “There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for my family,” I state.  “Wouldn’t you agree Marth?”

         Her body language suggests to me she is disappointed, but she replies, “Yes, family is one the most important things of The Fifth Fleet… Regardless of who that family is.”

         Marth’s second in command asks, “We were about to shoot you out of the sky until Marth ordered us to hold fire.  Why would a loan dragon rider just fly right in and introduce themselves?”

         “Like I said, I have a proposition for Theodor,” I respond.  “If I came with my whole crew, no doubt you would have thought it would be an attack.  Best course of action would be to come alone on a single dragon.”

         The second mate nods in agreement as Marth states, “Jorund, take my sister down below and put her in my room below.  Lock the door behind you and return to your duties.”

         “Yes ma’am,” Jorund took the order.  “What about the Stormcutter?”

         I answer this for him as I let him take Valkarik, “Oh Star Scream?  He will be fine, so long as you leave him alone.”  Turning around to the big guy, I get his attention, “Star Scream.”  Then I use some hand signals while I say, “Stay.  Leave the good sailors alone.”  I then tell Marth, “So long as you leave him alone, he will leave you all alone.  If anyone tries to approach him for anything other than just walking by, he will react.  I don’t want to have to tell you what a Stormcutter is capable of doing, especially a Titan Stormcutter.  Could get messy, so best stay away.”

         Marth then orders her crew, “You heard the man.  No one touches the Stormcutter unless I give the order.”  Marth then looks at me, “Shall we go?”

         I slightly bow, “Ladies first.”

         Quickly, I grab the saddlebag off Star Scream before joining Marth.

         While walking across the gang plank to the flagship of The Fleet, I request from Marth, “From what Valkarik said, you have in custody another one of my friends, Ali Clar the Kind.”

         “Oh, she isn’t a prisoner anymore.  Well, she kind of is, but she is now a servant to Theodor,” Marth relays.  “Even volunteered for the position, after finding the favor in the crews of the fleet for helping some guards who Val knocked down and then told other guards where Val went.  No one wants to be near my brother, let alone be at his beckon call.”

         Marth leads me across the ship to the main captain’s quarters on the top deck.

         Halfway there, she stops me and looks me straight in the eyes, though she is a few inches taller than me, “Why are you giving one of your own crew over to us?  Why now?”

         A bit caught off guard at the timing but not unexpected at the doubts Marth is voicing, I reply, “As I alluded to before, there isn’t anything I would not do for my family… Or a dragon.  I am trying to do the right thing here.  If I see a way to end this war without anyone getting hurt, I am going to take it.  But with what I am seeing about this war, Einar, Vixxen…  We are going to have to make a choice ourselves, what is more important.  Family or glory?  I’m choosing family every time!”

         Marth does not say anything in response, but continues to lead me to the captain’s quarters.  Marth wishes me, “Good luck.”

         “First of all, I don’t believe in luck,” I comment.  “Secondly, I’ve got a plan.  All I need now is trust.”

         Marth stares at me for a moment, before snapping back to a proper officer, “I was merely pointing out that I hope Theodor listens to you because he left strict instructions not to be disturbed.”

         “Don’t worry,” I chuckle.  “I’ve been thinking of a greeting for him for a long time.”

         Marth leaves as I walk up to the door and knock twice.

         From inside, a voice question gruffly, “Who’s there?”

         I answer, “Theodor.”

         “Theodor?” I hear the echo then loud mumbling, “Theodor who?”

         Opening the door, he was about ready to bark something but then stops short after seeing me.

         In the silence, I explain, “Theo-door was closed.  That’s why I was knocking.”

         Theodor looks at me strange and does not understand.

         “Never mind,” I roll my eyes as see the joke soar over his head.  “I’ve got a proposition for you.”

         “For me?  Who are you?” Theodor asks.

         I think to myself, “Who am I?  You go up against someone, helping support Einar in a fight and you don’t even know let alone recognize the viking you are fighting.  You really don’t have a clue who you are dealing with, with regards to Einar let alone what you are in for.”  I then introduce myself, “Excuse my manners, my name is Jarl Everson.  You might know me better with the name Jarl Mollerson.  Your Shockjaws shot me and my friends out of the sky the other day.”

         He further asks why I have come; I briefly tell him why but add, “Do you always discuss business at the front door of your quarters or do you always allow your subordinates to hear all your plans?”

         Entering the quarters, he shuts the door and sits behind his desk.  There is no chair in front of the desk, so I remain standing.

         “Why would you come to me like this?  From what I have heard of you, now that you have told me your name, you are a man that always has a plan,” Theodor states.  “What plan do you have now?”

         I walk around a bit as I explain, observing his quarters and anything of note, “After such beating, we took the other day, it took you and The Fifth Fleet to truly turn the tide in the battle.  While Einar probably could have eventually taken us, it would have been at an extreme loss to his own forces.  This got me thinking of the options I have before me.  Family is very important to me.  While I thought coming here, I would be helping a friend, I see I must now protect my own family.  In the meantime, I have been trying to solve the mystery, the same mystery I believe Einar is trying to solve.  Then seeing how I can escape with my family, Einar cannot solve this mystery without your help.  I mean why else would he have called you in to the initial battle if he had the power to defeat me and my crew?”

         Then leaning on his desk, looking straight at him, I speak, “I submit to you that if you let me and my family join forces with you, I will help you take down Einar and Vixxen and I will help you solve the mystery.  In exchange for helping you, I request that you allow me and my family to escape, unharmed, and free to return to our home.  Whatever I help you find at the end of this mystery…  It is all yours.  With Vixxen and Einar out of the way, you can have it all.”

         I see this offer piques his interest as he leans forward and wonders, “And what makes you think I would take such an offer?  Why not just get rid of Vixxen, Einar, and you all myself then take the prize for myself?”

         “You need me to solve the mystery.  I and my crew have already solved several of the puzzle pieces to this mystery to even just begin to unlock what we are all striving for at solving this thing.  I have those puzzle pieces.  If you get rid of me now, you’ll never see them nor know what the puzzle pieces are,” I pause as he sits back and thinks.  “My crew and I have been working on this mystery for the past couple of years.  We know what to look for and with what we have found out about the mystery here in Izar, we know more about what we will be waiting at the end of this mystery.”

         “Suppose I say, yes, what’s in it for me…  Excluding whatever is at the end of this mystery?” Theodor stands up.

         “Thought you might want a down payment of sorts to show you how far I am willing to go,” I set the saddlebag on his desk and reveal to him one of the four herbs in their containers.

         “Where are the other three?” he questions.

         Continuing with my offer, “With what I have already said, I offer this along with… Your sister Valkarik.”

         From looking at the herb, his gaze shoots directly up at me on the mention of his sister’s name.

         “I hear she got away from you,” I say.  “But by the way you played it to take her prisoner, you could also say you meant to let her escape because you knew I would come around eventually.”

         Theo nods his head in approval, “I like the way you think.”

         “Now, if you just step outside,” I show my hand to the door, while collecting the herb back into the saddlebag.  “We can finalize our deal.”

         I let Theo go first.  Upon walking out of the cabin and on to the deck, Theo is greeted by my crew on their dragons surrounding The Fifth Fleet!

         “Oh, I did forget to mention something very important,” I walk forward, resting my right hand on his shoulder.  “I consider all my friends apart of my family.  Were you misled?  Meh, maybe.  But I the words I use, I choose carefully.  But those who truly understand me, would know I will do what it takes to protect my family, my friends, and the dragons…  And I will do it the right way.”

         I start to walk past him as he goes for his sword, but coming from behind him, Valkarik draws her left hand to his back retracting her hidden dagger, saying, “I wouldn't try that if I were you.”

         I turn around and fold my arms, looking at Theo, “This is what it is like to have the loyalty of your crew.  They will be for you through anything and everything.  They will have your back and will honor you with their trust and respect.  Something you clearly lack.”

         “What are you saying?” Theo demands.  “I’m the Fleet Commander of the Fifth Fleet.  This fleet is rightfully mine!  What are you all standing around, fire at these vikings!”

         No one listens to Theo.

         “What are you doing?!  It told you all an order!” Theo barks.  “I’m the Fleet Commander!”

         Marth comes in from behind Theo from his right, walking right up to him, Valkarik steps back to her left, “You were the Fleet Commander.  Adding to what Jarl has said, you have a blatant disregard for the protocol which has guided Fleet Commanders for decades.  According to said protocol, if the second in command of The Fleet deems the current commander incapable of completing his duties as the Fleet Commander, they can strip the rank of the Fleet Commander and take the duties for themselves.  You of all people should remember this… When you used it to kill our father!”

         Marth winds up and throws a nasty right cross to Theo’s face.

         Marth shakes out her hand, “I can’t tell you how long I have waited to do that.  Val and Jarl have reminded me what truly is important in this world.  And Theo, you no longer are.  I herby relieve you of your duties and fulfill them in succession being next in line.  Jorund,” Marth announces.  “Take our prisoner to the brig where he belongs.”

         Valkarik quips as he is taken away, “Hmm… Seems like after all these years… You were the one who was wrong.  Hope you like washing ships instead of dishes.”

         Jorund takes Theo away.

         I ask Valkarik as we watch, “What’s with the dishes?”

         “I’d have to tell you later,” Valkarik states.  “But Marth and Theo know what I am talking about.”

         As I turn to face Marth and Valkarik, out of the corner of my eye I see a flash of green coming our way.

         “Look out!” I yell as I drag both Marth and Valkarik out of the way and behind jump behind some crates in the center of the ship.

         A Thunderdrum blast shoots down at us, narrowly missing us as we took cover!

         I know exactly who it is.  When I stand up, I face down my best friend.  Telling Valkarik and Marth to get back, I march right up to the front of Fredrick.

         “There is only one green Thunderdrum that I know,” I state as Vixxen is riding my dragon.

         Vixxen commends, “I saw how you able to capture the whole fleet, and by the inside I might add.  I knew the loss in battle would not keep you down for long, especially after seeing you last night.”

         “And now you have come for Theo and want to return to Einar and we wouldn’t dare fire on one of our own dragons,” I guess.

         “The kid?  I could careless about him,” Vixxen remarks.  “I came here for something else.  But the second part is right, about Fredrick.  Either you give me what I want or I have Fredrick open fire.”

         Staring down at my old friend, I do not flinch after what Vixxen says.  She is a bit surprised.

         “I knew you are a cool viking, in probably more ways than one depending on who you ask,” Vixxen rambles a bit.  “But are you ready to be blasted at point blank range from a Thunderdrum?  Don’t think I wouldn’t do it.”

         “It’s not that,” I smile.  “I’m just stalling for time.”

         From behind me, the call of a Thunderwhip can be heard as Katie, Kyle, Klap, and Karl fly down and land besides me, coming right up to me.  Fredrick’s attention is diverted and I kneel down in front of my dragon.

         Holding my hand out, Fredrick looks up at me, I tell him, “In much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.  There is a time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”

         Fredrick looks up at me with his thin eyes, I do not back down, I hold my hand out, “When I learned of your previous training Fredrick, I had much grief.  I always knew something made you who you are to be my dragon.  Knowing you would fly away from me simply because of your training, it pained me to see my best friend leave me at the strike of a hammer.  Yesterday, I had so many emotions run flow through me, some I wish never to feel again.  But know this, I will always love you.  You’re my dragon, you’re my Thunderdrum.  We may be in a war, but I will never consider you my enemy.  You may have been trained by Vixxen and you may have learned something from me.  But know this…,” I pause.  “You are my best friend.  One I will always trust!”

         Karl walks forward and puts his front feet on Fredrick’s left side.  Katie follows and does the same on the other side.  Klap and Kyle come up behind me.  Karl opens his mouth, wags is tail, and is simply happy to see his dad.

         Vixxen is speechless but finally questions, “What is happening?”

         Both in an answer to her and an explanation to Fredrick, I reply, “The Thunderwhips have no knowledge of the past, they have no wisdom of the future.  All they care about is right here, right now.  We all have the choice between right and wrong.  Don’t think about yesterday, don’t worry about tomorrow.  Do what you can do today.  All it takes is one step.  With what you have before you, what is your choice?”

         I close my eyes and turn my head to the side.

 

         I feel something touch my hand and take a breath.  Opening my eyes, I see Fredrick resting his snout in my hand.  Fredrick opens his eyes and I see the same eyes I saw when I first found Fredrick in the cave.

 

         Fredrick starts wagging his tail as the Thunderwhips start to play with him.  Vixxen proceeds to take her hammer from her back and swing down to strike the deck… Fredrick bucks Vixxen off of him!

 

         Vixxen scrambles to her feet as I turn around and walk to her, with my dragon backing me up.

         For the first time, I see fear across Vixxen’s face, “Thorgunna Vixxen.  You go back and to Einar Verodfellar and tell him there is a storm coming… And he’d better be ready.  Get out of here before I change my mind.”  I fling my arms to be rid of her.

         Vixxen whistles for Ragnorak who flies up from behind the ship.  The Snow Wraith rolls upside down for Vixxen to jump up and grab onto the saddle.  Ragnorak then levels out and flies south.

         Annabeth yells, “She’s getting away.”

         I immediately call back, “Let her go.  She was planning an escape anyway, so might as well let her go with no one getting hurt.”

         Coming up to the group of Marth, Valkarik, and Annabeth who has just landed with Anora, we watch Vixxen fly away on Ragnorak.

         Marth questions, “Wouldn’t you lose your tactical advantage?  Vixxen is going to tell Einar you all are coming for him.”

         “I’m sure Einar has been expecting us ever since the battle.  It was only a matter of when,” I answer.  “Now that Einar knows we know he knows we’re coming.  Einar will never know what we know what’s coming.”

         I get stares from everyone, I wonder out loud, “Too soon?”

         Annabeth just rolls her eyes, “Let’s just get to moving the front in.  He’s going to have a lot of high pressure from us to fuel our storm.  As you said, he’d better be ready.  We’re all ready to go.”

         I mount Fredrick, “Then let’s show him truly what type of storm is here!”