Book 8 - Conquest for the Truth - Chapter 6 - How a Traitor is Born

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httyyd
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Joined: 10/12/2013

I wanted to get this posted yesterday, but I had a block.  Not writer's block, a thing called homework-block.  XD

 

Anyway, these books are nearly constantly on my mind.  With final projects approaching and only one online final exam, my mind is equally constantly on my school work too.  Yet, it is still something I look forward to doing, typing in these books.

 

I hope you all enjoy the new chapter!

More questions answered but new ones asked.  :D

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Rest in Peace NarixuZen.  2004-2017

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The Wedding

New - Part 4

 

Book 8 Coming Soon!!

 

Destiny in the Dark

Chapter 3 - Friends and Enemies

 

Proud Leader and fellow member of:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

The Wedding

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3 

httyyd's picture
httyyd
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 10/12/2013
How many storm puns can u think of? I have begun see the end XD

For the music I chose for this chapter, the first song in this mix is a bit ironic to what I am talking about in this chapter:

KINETIC - Best Of Epic Music Mix | Powerful Beautiful Orchestral Music | BRAND X MUSIC

 

Conquest for the Truth

 

Chapter 6

How a Traitor is Born

 

         Garth then stands back, “But we can catch up later.  Where’s Kaya?”

         “I haven’t seen her in ages,” Saga replies.  “Lyra is close by with the collection of dragons.  She should be here in the next few days, she sent me on ahead on her Scauldron to see if I could help you guys out until she gets here.”

         Garth then introduces Saga to us, Garth says, “Jarl and his crew is the recruits I gathered from the Barbaric Archipelago to the southeast.  They traveled all this way to help us.”

         Saga gives a slight bow, “We are indebted to you all.”

         I put my hand up, “Don’t thank us yet, we still have a lot of work to do.”

         “Speaking of which,” Garth states.  “I am going to help Jarl and his friends here figure out a mystery.  If you go to Sif, she can fill you on Jarl’s and her plans on what we are doing.  You could also make the preparations for housing the dragons Lyra is bringing.”

         Saga nods and walks away, seeking out Sif.  Garth stares for a moment before turning around and going to his dragon.  Annabeth takes a step forward to ask him something, I subtly reach my left hand out to grab her arm.  She looks at me, I shake my head.

         I know what she wants to ask, she wants to ask him about Saga.  While I do too, now is not the time.  While we are all under a lot of pressure to get a lot done in only two or three days, coming back and it finally being time to take back his home, Garth is the one viking that is going to go through a lot.

         Garth mounts his dragon and says, “Follow me.”

         We all mount our dragons and follow Garth.  Garth leads us to Iskyn.

         The devastation of war and destruction is everywhere.  From what I have read and Garth has told me, Iskyn was a very vibrant community of thinkers and dreamers and inventors.  All that is left is a shell of that world.  The fifty-story library of books, scrolls, and projector disks, which look like our Dragon Eye lens, though slightly different, now lays in ruin.  Book shelves are obliterated, burned, or overturned.  The contents strewn about everywhere.  I do not see one patch of floor anywhere that does not have some piece of debris on it.

         While it looks like this island got hit hard in the war, the contents of this library are still here.

         Landing at the hub of the library, Garth dismounts and begins to look for something, combing through the remains of the library.

         Dawn comments, “How in the world are we supposed to find anything in this wreck?”

         Asvord quips, “Looks an awful lot like what your room used to look like, Jarl.”

         I chuckle, “But that room was also a third yours.”

         “Nah, don’t give me that,” Asvord adds.  “I stuck any of your stuff on your side.”

         Valkarik looks around her, “Where’d Garth go?”

         “Up here,” Garth responds.

         Looking up, he is already up a couple of levels.

         “Be down in a minute,” Garth adds.

         Annabeth suggests, “Maybe its best we all stick together.  We may…,” Annabeth turns around to see someone else missing.  “And now where’s Dawn?”

         Ali points behind her back down a nearby aisle.

         “Thanks, Ali,” Annabeth walks past her, grabbing Ali’s shoulder.  Annabeth speaks louder, “Dawn, what are you doing?”

         “Oh, come on,” Dawn declares.  “How did you know I was gone?”

         Ali chuckles, “I may be blind, but I still have ears.  And by the feel under my feet and the description from Val, this place isn’t the best place to be sneaking off in.”

         Finding Garth looking at scrolls she cannot understand to read, Dawn answers, “Well, Garth did it.  Why couldn’t I?”

         Annabeth grabs the scroll out of Dawn’s hand and puts it back where she found it, only to see the shelf give way and collapse the whole row on the bookshelf.

         Annabeth looks at Dawn, Dawn only responds, “It isn’t like the mess doesn’t… Well… Mess up the place.”

         “That isn’t what I was thinking about,” Annabeth rebukes.  “I thought you might see for yourself that the structural integrity of this place isn’t exactly what I call safe for going off without telling someone.”

         Dawn nods her head back and forth, “Yeah, yeah, yeah…,” she trails off.

         Valkarik’s right arm then shoots up in the air.

         Ali senses it and address her friend in a formal tone, “The chair from district seven recognizes the table from district two.  You may speak.”

         Valkarik jumps back from Ali before going right back to her side, “Eh, another pun.  Anyway, is no one going to address the yak in the room?”

         Ali smiles, “What?  Is there a yak in the room?”

         Valkarik rolls her eyes, “No.  I mean that the prophecy Lilah read speaks of someone named Thorgunn Vixxen, one letter short of a full basket case of one Thorgunna Vixxen.”

         Ali jumps to the side, as if startled, Valkarik immediately question’s Ali in concern, “What is it?”

         “I guess it is catchy,” Ali pokes Valkarik in the side.

         “Hey,” Valkarik pulls back.  “I’m sorry, it just came out.  May I please get back to what I was saying without another quip?”

         Ali giggles, bows, and stretches out her left arm, “You may have the floor.”

         Valkarik smiles, “What would I want with the floor, but to stand on?”  Clearing her throat, she continues, “Could it be that the one in the entry talking about the prophecy is the mother of Thorgunna Vixxen?”

         I shrug my shoulders, “It is quite possible.”

         Cazi wonders out loud, “But why would Vixxen be going against Izar when her mother was a Sentinel Scribe?”

         Explod guesses, “Maybe her mother is among those who sacrificed themselves for the good of the rest who could survive.”

         His observation strikes a chord with something I have been wondering about Vixxen for a long time, “I think you are right.  The next place I would like to go would be the Sentinel Headquarters to see if I could ask someone who would know about it.”

         Samantha questions, “But wouldn’t Lilah know about this information?  She could tell us.”

         “She could,” I agree but counter.  “She is busy, at the moment, and lately, she seems not as forth coming with information as she has been.”

         Annabeth inquires, “Do you think she is hiding anything else?”

         “Maybe, but I really don’t want to speculate,” I state.  “If we could just find someone else with the knowledge, we might be able to find more clues to Vixxen’s backstory from a more objective point of view.”

         Garth returns with a small collection of projector disks, “Who would you like to ask?”

         “Is there an elder Sentinel or something?  Someone who has seen a lot, yet can finally tell us exactly what happened between Vixxen and the Sentinels, how and why she switched sides?” I tell him.

         Garth confirms, “Yes, I do know someone like that.”

         Thinking we are finally getting somewhere on this front, I verbally push further, “Could you take us to them now?”

         “Yes,” Garth nods.  “The person I think of never leaves the school which trained the Sentinels.  But she always loves talking to vikings, though I have not seen her in years.”

         Garth leads us to the southern edge of Izar, just off the main entryway into Izar to the right.  There is a slight rise to a small plateau where a somewhat small but compact building sits.  For the most part, it looks nearly all intact.  But the signs are there that it has seen all the war had to offer yet lives to tell the tail.  If only stones could talk, what insight could they share.

         “Leave your dragons out here,” Garth says as we approach the front door.  “This was at one point a sacred hall of the valor, glory, and honor of the Sentinels.  As you can see, not much remains but the building where it once was a training ground of all seven islands elite protectors.”

         Garth walks us to the front door and knocks.  The building is much larger up close.  Four stories tall, more than thirty yards wide, probably around fifty yards long.  Seems like with anything on Izar, it is a lot bigger when one gets close.

         A faint voice can be heard, but it is not loud enough to know what was said.  Garth opens the door and we all enter in.

         What we are greet by is an open area room which runs the length of the building.  It is surrounded by four levels of rooms, if I had to guess, were classrooms at one point.  Other than torches on the pillars supporting the ceiling and the levels, it is barren in here.  Guess there has not been much use for it in years anyway.  There is a collection of chairs in the center of the building.  There are two larger, more distinguished chairs in the center, sitting back to back.

         Garth points them out as an elder voice says from behind the chairs, “Come in, my children.  I’ve been expecting you.”

         Going around the left side, I see an elder viking woman holding a staff, motioning a few of us to sit down on the chairs.  Her look reminds me of Gothi, but this woman is probably two feet taller, even in a slightly hunched posture.

         “Come, sit,” she shows me to the chair on her right side and Annabeth to her left.

         Garth takes the chairs in the vicinity to give to the rest of us here.  There are only eight chairs, not including the bigger chair opposite of the woman, but those left standing, Dawn and Explod did not mind standing.  Though the lady did protest and offered to go get more chairs, Dawn and Explod insisted it was no bother to stand.

         “Make yourselves at home,” the viking said.  “Garth, it has been too long.”

         Gath introduces, “May I present to you my friends I brought with me to help Izar.  Guys this is Bera Gudlaud, Chief Elder of the Sentinel Protectors.”

         “Why so formal?  Just call me Bera,” she waves Garth to come to her for a hug.

         Bera questions us, “Do you come asking for information of the Sentinels?”

         Samantha wonders, “How did you know?”

         Bera chuckles, “After waiting all these years for someone to come back to help the isles, you kids are the first ones I have had a normal conversation with.”  Bera then whispers, “Some people think I am crazy, but I just let them think that.”  Speaking normally, “What would you like to know of a certain Sentinel?”

         Annabeth then inquires, “How did you know that?”

         Bera smiles, “Some have also said that I can predict things before they happen too.”

         Samantha asks curiously, “Can you?”

         Bera replies, “If I were able to do that, I would have told you what you wanted to know already.  It may look like I am a prophet, but it does not take powers given to me to know when vikings want something and know what they want based on the current situation.  This kind of reasoning got me in trouble with some, more recently the Dragon Slayers,” she spits to the side on the floor in front of her.  “That kind of reputation has given me what little peace to cling too and they have all left me alone.”

         Garth jumps in, “You know Bera, Jarl and his friends are a similar way of thinking too.  While I was away, I was on many an adventure with them solving mysteries in their archipelago.”

         Bera’s eyes lighten up, “Oh really.  I would ask what those mysteries were, but by you being the only ones to come to me like this in years, you have more important things to do.  So,” Bera adjusts in the chair to lean back.  “What would you like to know?”

         I shift to my left to lean on the arm rest to ask Bera, “What do you know of one Thorgunna Vixxen?”

         Her lightened mood turns to a somber, saddened state, “That story is one I would soon as much forget.”  The remark left a few of us with our moods let down, but then she goes on.  “But since you have come all this way to ask me this, I will tell you.”

         Bera begins, “Years ago, when I was still relevant, I would oversee all of the training done here at the school.  I would be the final say on who could become a Sentinel and who would have to try again.  The families who had founded the Sentinels kept the tradition of being the only ones who could be Sentinels.  Once the first Dragon War hit, it all changed and the Sentinels would take one member from each island who could prove their worth in a series of trials.  One student from the ranks of the Sentinels would be chosen to represent.  While a regular student would have to go through the rigorous training and schooling, the students who are excelling and progressing at an accelerated rate, we would have an internal series of trials our best could compete in.  The one who would win would represent the Sentinels in The Conquest.”
         “Don’t let the title fool you,” Bera continues.  “The title is more of a nod to tradition than what the trials actually represent.  Each tribe in Izar were at one point at war with each other, except for the island of Izar.  This island was inhabited by dragons of all kinds, including our Bewilderbeast.  Then one day, a young woman went into the King of Dragon’s home and altered our destiny forever.  To pay homage to those acts, The
Conquestare trials arranged by each tribe to test if a viking could conqueror all it takes to overcome all the challenges all the tribes face every day.  These trials tested everything from physical aptitude to mental acuity.  One would have to use all of their physical and mental abilities to conqueror these trials.  Even after all a tribe could teach these young vikings, they would still need strength of will, strength of survival, and strength of character.”

         I interject as she pauses, “Let me guess, Bera.  Thorgunna Vixxen won the pre-trials of the Sentinels and won The Conquest.”

         “Oh, not only did she win both,” Bera confirms.  “It was not even close.  Vixxen became the youngest Sentinel ever in Izarian history.  It was a shock to everyone except those who knew Vixxen.  Nothing could ever stop that girl.  Whether it was pure talent or raw ability, Vixxen was destined to be the greatest of us all.”  Bera sighs, “I watched that child since before she could walk.  With her mother’s job as a scribe, the child learned at an early age everything what a student would learn in trying to become a Sentinel.  Vixxen as a child could not wait for classes to start and watched while other kids did other things.  We all knew, Vixxen knew, she would be the one to work while all the other kids played.  Vixxen took it that seriously.  She would rather study or train with other Sentinels than play with the other kids after classes or training was over.  Her enjoyment was anything and everything about the Sentinels.  After she won The Conquest, all the Elders of the Sentinel and the current number of Sentinel Protector Generals, we all were in complete agreement Thorgunna Vixxen was destined to be the youngest Sentinel Protector General too.  Then rose the problem.  Should someone so young be in the position of great responsibility and power?  Keep in mind, Vixxen did all of this by the age of sixteen.”

         “Wow,” Annabeth remarks.  “All that potential and see where she is now.”

         “The worst thing about it is, everyone started telling her she would be the best Sentinel Protector General Izar had ever seen,” Bera goes on.  “It turned her from someone who wanted to train and work as hard as she could to do the next thing to her doing it because she thought she deserved it.  The work she put into become a Sentinel General, she deserved it then.  She let it take over her life to where she expected it to happen.”

         Annabeth takes her hand reaches over to Bera, grabbing Bera’s left hand, holding it, “Are you trying to say that you were the reason why Vixxen never became a general?”

         Bera closes her eyes and sighs, “Yes.  Regardless of who thinks what in the Sentinels, I have final say.  Vixxen was top of her class in every category…”  Bera trails off.

         Annabeth adds, “Except for character.”

         We all could see Bera fighting the emotion, but she kept going, “I just could not bring myself to making her a general.  We all built her up into something I thought she would never become.  The devastated look on her face will never leave me.”  Bera pauses for a moment, then goes on, “When I did make the decision, everyone else could not believe it, but what did Vixxen do.  She did not question it, she did not yell in my face, all she did was accept the decision and walk away.  In time, she adapted into her new role of a teacher for other students up coming.  Everyone praised her for that, but then others started questioning whether I was fit to say who became a Sentinel or not.  Then Einar and his Slayers came back.”

         “Vixxen fought valiantly with us all, but when it came time to see that we could not win this war, Vixxen stood her ground and said we could,” Bera finishes.  “Vixxen said we could win even with everything against us.  Then one of the last days Izar was here and unified, Vixxen said she had spoke with Einar and said that had come here for something.  She said the if we gave him what he wanted, then he would leave.  When we asked what he wanted, she said he wanted the power that The Secret of Shadows held.  Every Sentinel knew what power it possessed, but we all knew he would be the last viking which should have that kind of power.  Vixxen countered if she could find this power and give it to the Izar, would she finally be worthy to be a General.  Before I could give her answer, she raced off.  When The Scattering had concluded, I alone remained.  I was old, feeble, and not a threat to anyway.  I stayed here.  When Einar’s forces had taken over, they came to the door step.  Seeing I was the only one, they left me alone.  What Izarian’s had chosen to stay, they let alone.  However, they were in charge now.  A few days after The Scattering, Vixxen had returned.  She had not found the power she wanted, yet when she had returned, the only world she had ever known was gone.  Vowing she would not rest until she found the power to unite our land and turn our enemies, she left.”

         Bera takes a breath, “That was the last I had ever seen of Vixxen.  And now with the news of you and your friends coming to help us, Vixxen on Einar’s side, and another war coming, I just hope that there will be an Izar to call home after this.”

         Aiyana boldy speaks up, “We will stop at nothing to defend your home and make sure Izar will survive.”

         Bera breathes in deep before changing the subject, “Is there anything else I can do for you all?”

         I request, “You mentioned The Secret of the Shadows, does The Legend of Shadow Mountain mean anything to you?”

         The facial expression of a quiet Bera changed to a look of disgust as if we were no friends of hers, Bera snaps back, “I have nothing more to say to you.”

         Garth protests, “But Bera-.”

         “Get out of my sight!” she exclaims.  “Garth, you of all people, why would you agree to this?”  Without waiting for a response, she stands up and walks a few steps in front of us, saying, “Just get out of here.”

         Seeing we will not get any more information from her, everyone else gets up and starts walking out.  I however hesitate.  Annabeth is the second to me being the last to leave and stops, noticing I did not get up right away.  Annabeth waits for me where she stands.

         All I can do in this moment is just look down, “All this we are doing is starting to bring up bad memories for a lot of vikings.  What else will happen?”

         Sighing, I get up too and go over to Annabeth.  As I start to walk on her right side, she reaches her arms around my left and lays her head on my shoulder for a moment.  I smile reach down and grab her hand in my left.

         “Wait,” Bera announces.

         I stop in my tracks.  My friends also stop to turn around and listen.

         Looking back, Bera slowly comes up to me, “Everything else has been done to either stop Einar or win this war once and for all, but none of it has worked.  Before I became a Sentinel, I was much like yourself, Jarl.  I too had mysteries to solve and even took a crack at The Mystery of Shadow Mountain, as I liked to call it.  While trying to figure things out, I nearly lost my best friend.” She glances at Annabeth.  “He and I were never the same after that.  But seeing you and your friends now, I see nothing will stop you.”  Bera puts her left hand on my right shoulder, looking me straight in the eyes, “You have a fire spirit inside of you.  These next several days are going to test you in ways which will stretch you to your limits.  I warn you; can you stay true to yourself in all of this?  What are you willing to sacrifice to see this mystery through?  How far are you willing to go?”

         I look her straight in the eyes and answer, “I will do all I can do to the right thing and bring this war to an end, once and for all.  While The Mystery of Shadow Mountain may not be the solution to all our problems, it does a play a role.  And as you say, it is better served that whatever is at the end of the mystery is in our hands and not Einar’s.  We will find it, see what it does, and then possibly use it against Einar.  But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  We are here, first and foremost, to defend Izar and defeat Einar.”

         Bera steps back, a little remorseful, “But are you willing to give your lives for a mystery with no feelings and a land torn and broken?”

         Without hesitation, Annabeth, my friends, and I in unison reply, “Yes.”

         “Then so be it,” Bera states.  “May you and your friends be safe and find the solution.”

         Bera walks back over to her chair and sits down.  Annabeth and I rejoin the group and walk out.

         While we mount our dragons, Dawn remarks, “Who do she think she is talking to?  Does she think we are a bunch of amateurs who don’t have the experience and the skills to pay the bills?”

         Getting on Fredrick, I comment to Dawn, “Vixxen was at one point in the same position we are in.  What we have to do goes beyond experience and skills.  You know the answer to your own question.”

         As we launch into the air on our dragons, Dawn retorts, “But couldn’t it just for this once just be as easy as just beating up the bad guy?”

         Following Garth again, he brings us to a village district.

         “You all can chose a house and sleep here for the night,” Garth says, dismounting Riptide.  “You and Annabeth can sleep in there.  There is a bedroom is upstairs.”

         We each take our saddlebags off our dragons as Garth offers to take our dragons and bed them down for the night and then walks away to another building close by.

         Cazi asks, “Where are you going sleep?”

         Without turning around, he says with determination, “I can sleep when I am… Well… I can sleep later.  I have some work to do.”

         Bidding our friends goodnight, Annabeth and I, enter the building.

         First thing I notice is some of the marks around the front door and just inside the door, I tell Annabeth, “This is Garth’s old house.”

         With the realization of this, we both look at each other and are thinking the same thing; Annabeth vocalizes it, “Several things are hitting a little too close to home.  Bera is right, these will be some tough days ahead.”

         We find the bedroom and set our saddlebags down.  Still dressed ready for battle, we then take off our armor and set it near the bed.  Taking turns in the closet, we change into another set of clothes for the next day.  Once done, we kiss each other goodnight and climb into the bed to lay down.  As we normally do, we roll to our left side and I reach my right arm over Annabeth.

         After what seems like several hours but was probably only ten minutes, Annabeth stops the silence of the night, “Jarl?”

         “Yes, Annabeth?” I reply.

         “I guess you are not asleep either, or else you wouldn’t have answered.  Just wanted to check before I continued,” Annabeth chuckles and rolls over to face me.  “Anyway, I am going over in my mind why Bera does not want to tell us anything about Shadow Mountain.  Then thinking about what all could happen in the next few days… I am starting to get scared.”

         Reaching my hand to around the back of her head, I lean my forehead on hers as I say, “You’re scared, I’ve been scared since before we left Berk.”

         “You have?” Annabeth looks at me.  “You have been hiding it very well.”

         “While it may look like hiding, I just have bigger things to deal with,” I then shift to my back and stare at the ceiling.  “What dangers lurk in the shadows?  I mean, why else would they call it The Secret of the Shadows?  The Mystery of Shadow Mountain sounds a bit less dangerous.”

         Annabeth quips, “Unless you know what’s on the island.”

         “True,” I chuckle.  “But my biggest thing I am worrying about is how we will fight Einar?”

         “How so?” Annabeth inquires.

         “Well, Einar is going to stop at nothing and not let anything stand in his way, and we both know what that means,” I tell my heart.  “But something is sticking with me what Bera said, ‘Can I stay true to myself in all of this?’  My plan is to capture Vixxen and Einar and end this war with no bloodshed or loss.  I know that is a tall order, but I thought maybe solving the mystery would go to lengths at making my plan a reality.  What I am starting to think of, if it is between my life and Vixxen, would I go that far?”

         Annabeth quietly asks, “Would you?”

         “If you or any of our friend’s lives were on the line, in a heartbeat I would protect you and the others,” I confidently say.  “But if it were truly just me and Vixxen, would I go that far?”

         Annabeth reaches over to my shoulder, rolling me back to the side for her to look into my eyes, she tells me, “Stop worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow has enough worry for itself.  Plan for tomorrow, but do what you can do today.  Above all else, I know in my heart,” she rests her hand on where my physical heart is.  “You will do the right thing, no matter what.”

         Smiling, I give her a longer kiss as to say, “Thank you.”

         Annabeth rolls back over so I can hold her in my arm.

         After such a long day with many things happening, we finally go to sleep.

         My last thought before I fall asleep, “We will have a couple of days of peace before the real fight begins.  It is like the eye of the storm has come upon us… Get it?  Eye of the storm?”

         Of course, I get it, who do you think I am?

         I answer myself, “I am the pun master.”

         Now shut up and go to sleep, idiot.