A Soldier's Life

Chapter 129: Traeliorn Kelran POV (Patreon Vote)
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Chapter 129: Traeliorn Kelran POV (Patreon Vote)

After arriving in the Telhian wilderness, Traeliorn left his apprentice Vaeril and Ranger Raelia and flew north on the back of Kylma. The ice drake was a good mount and friend, she moved with his body and did most of the work as they flew north, so he didn’t even require a saddle. His plan was simple. He would summon the largest wyvern he could and attack small towns south of the Telhian capital. The wyvern would kill the peasants, making the Emperor look incompetent and unable to protect his citizens.

His goal was actually to get the Emperor to leave his palace. Then Traeliorn would attack him, putting his life on the line to end the Void Mage. The Emperor had caused him so much pain and grief over the last two centuries that he was willing to risk his life to finally kill him.

Traeliorn landed between two rocky summits and sent Kylma to one of the peaks to watch over him as he worked. Summoning a wyvern was always a difficult task. Luring one through an open portal took a lot of aether and a powerful summoner. The draconic beasts also had very primal desires: hunt, kill, eat, and reproduce, and the negotiation with the beast would usually have to satisfy those needs.

He spent an entire day laying out the largest formation he had ever constructed. He laughed, thinking it was big enough to summon an actual dragon. He was not stupid enough to try that, though. A dragon’s will was too strong and would not even enter negotiations. Traeliorn preferred to bypass the negotiation phase of a summoning and instead dominate the mind of the creature when it came through the portal.

He spent an entire day resting in preparation, and Kylma brought him a large fresh fish to eat. “I suppose you want me to cook it for the both of us?” The ice drake puffed a frozen cloud at him. “Fine, it is a good twenty pounds. I am taking the best fillet for myself.” The drake puffed another cloud before curling into a ball and watching him work closely.

The summoner skillfully descaled and sliced the fish. He found a large flat rock and held out his hand as he wove the spell forms together. A flame erupted from his palm as he blasted the stone until it turned an angry red. The heat was welcome as the weather was turning. It was not turning fast enough for him. He wanted to see the fruits of his labors. He had targeted fields and farms across the eastern Telhian Empire. This winter, the peasants of the Telhian Empire would starve and blame the Emperor.

The stone cooled enough to cook the large fillets. He reached deep into his belt pouch and pulled some salt and herbs to season the fillets with. When he flipped them after a few minutes, Kylma got up and eagerly approached, “Old girl, you should be eating this raw. I have spoiled you too much with cooked food.” The ice drake gave an indignant puff. “Consider this your reward for flying my old bones around.”

Traeliorn took a small piece of the fish after it was perfectly cooked, and the ice drake quickly consumed what was left behind. Kylma then launched herself into the air to keep watch from one of the peaks again. The summoner shook his head and considered sending the drake away if the Emperor left his palace to confront him. It was something that was unlikely to happen, though.

He began the ritual summoning with the watery-blue moon, giving him strong light. The wyvern scale at the center was the focus as he poured aether into the runes he had carefully inscribed on the ground to focus his power. The magic would search for a match to that scale on all of Desia and sometimes beyond. He liked to think of it like fishing, casting out a line and hook, seeking out the fish on its own. It was almost an hour before he finally got a bite.

He had devoted two-thirds of his aether so far and was slightly worried when the portal finally anchored and opened, showing a wyvern on the other side. Even before the beast stepped through, he knew it was formable. It came fearlessly through and immediately lunged at the mage. The dragonkin’s size and the attack’s ferocity made him flinch. It was practically the size of an actual dragon.

The containment runes flared blue, green, and red as they held the massive wyvern in place. It strained and roared defiance inside the circle. Traeliorn tried to establish a connection to its mind, but the creature was stronger than a wyvern should be. It was like wrestling an oiled pig from his youth. He kept grabbing at it—only to have it slip away. Traeliorn was sweating as his aether was slowly consumed in the fight for dominance. Finally, the wyvern made a mistake, and Traeliorn slipped into his mind and subdued his thoughts.

The elf summoner sat heavily on the ground, his heart still racing from the struggle. He had almost lost the struggle. He only had about one-twentieth of his aether remaining. Kylma landed next to him now that the difficult part was done. He noted that she used him as a buffer to the wyvern. He scratched her ear holes to let her know he was fine. He drank his entire waterskin before slipping back into the mind of the impressive wyvern. Controlling a beast through its mind was not easy; he would give it back some control to make it easier on himself and allow himself time to recover some equilibrium.

The wyvern launched into the air, and Traeliorn began the search for the largest farming communities north of him. He found a farmer in a field harvesting squash. A horse pulled a cart while the farmer and his children deposited squash into the cart for winter. He set the wyvern loose on the people and lessoned his connection to the beast.

The summoner collapsed on the ground, checking in on the wyvern periodically as it terrorized and killed peasants. Even after it had satiated its hunger, the summoner nudged it to continue its rampage of the people. It had been a few hours since the summoning when he received a message sending from his apprentice Vaeril.

“Master Kelran, the legionaries have found us! They have a drake and more than one mage with them! We are running, but I do not think we will last long. Please send help.”

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Traeliorn’s heart pounded. He was going to lose another apprentice and friend. Not to mention, the ranger’s death would anger the General as well. He reconnected with the wyvern that was massacring a pasture of sheep. The creature tried to resist Traelorian’s mind, but the link had already been anchored. He forced the creature into the air and sent it south to find his apprentice.

Such complete control drained his aether rapidly as he searched through the eyes of the beast. He headed for any large flying creature in the skies. He was searching for the drake. Vaeril had an anchor stone for a portal, making it somewhat easier to determine the direction, but it was more of a feeling than a true direction. He knew he was not going to make it in time. It was just too far. But at least he could get his revenge.

There! Not the drake but the anchor stone. The massive wyvern landed in an open grassy area, dotted with trees. Underneath one of the trees, he found Vaeril alive. When the wyvern did not attack, relief filled the young elf’s face. “Master Kelran, is that you?”

Traeliorn used weak telepathy to communicate through his bond with the wyvern. “It is me. Where are The Ranger and legionaries?”

A pained look came on Vaeril’s face, “She gave me more time to run. They caught her. The legionaries killed the two hill giants I summoned and are coming after me. They have a powerful fire mage with them, Master Kelran.” Their conversation was interrupted when a drake zipped over the trees. A man was riding it. The wyvern launched itself into the sky in pursuit. The summoner guided its rage at the much smaller creature.

The aerial pursuit quickly got frustrating. The wyvern had filled its belly, not helping its agility. The rider and drake were too agile and fast. And the rider kept trying to anchor his own dominance on the mind of the wyvern. It was becoming futile, and Traeliorn’s aether was almost empty. He needed to take a risk. He pushed his mind to a corner of the wyvern and left the rest for the mage to subvert.

He was a powerful human mage who soon grappled the remaining mind into submission but didn’t realize Traeliorn was still present. The Empire Mage landed his drake, thinking himself victorious, and approached the wyvern wearing a sneering grin. Conquering this beast was an impressive feat. Traeliorn had almost failed himself. If Traeliorn had not already weakened its defenses, the human mage would not have had a chance. But here they were.

He waited as the human approached to claim his prize. The human even foolishly left his drake behind. When he was in striking distance, Traelorian pushed his mind out to regain control. The mage realized his mistake too late, and the wyvern’s long neck snapped out and consumed him in one bite. Some defensive magic flared inside the wyvern’s mouth, but the angry wyvern ground the mage with its teeth, crunching bones and forcing him down his throat to an already full belly.

The drake took exception to its rider being eaten and charged the wyvern. The massive wyvern easily swatted it down and tore out its throat in seconds. The wyvern roared in victory, and Traeliorn smiled far away. He had saved his apprentice and killed a powerful mind mage of the Empire. Traeliorn took control of the wyvern, planning to have it carry Vaeril back to him in its claw. He walked the beast toward the tree, and his blood froze.

The wyvern rushed the tree and batted it over, uncovering the dead apprentice with a sword piercing down into its body. The pained look on Vaeril’s face made the summoner go into a rage. He had been so close. He had been so distracted by fighting the drake that he had left Vaeril unprotected. The wyvern’s head snapped up, looking for movement. There! He forced the wyvern to chase the two fleeing legionaries. He would get some modicum of revenge.

One of the men made it into the trees, but the wyvern cut the other one off, like a cat cutting off a mouse. The legionnaire was halted in his tracks, separated from his companion. Arrows uselessly bounced off the scales of the wyvern as Traeliorn stared through its eyes. In the Telhian speech, the legionaries defied the wyvern and his fate, saying, “You prefer to play with your food! Well, bring it on!”

Traeliorn approached slowly and sent a message into the legionnaire’s mind, “You killed Vaeril, my apprentice?” He looked shocked at the message but seemed to understand the wyvern was talking to him.

Surprise crossed his face. He asked, “Traeliorn?” So, the young legionaries knew who he was. He must be a Hound sent to find him, and he found Vaeril instead.

The wyvern’s black eyes focused on the legionnaire. Traeliorn wanted confirmation he was getting his vengeance, “Did you kill my apprentice?” He repeated.

“Yes,” the legionnaire answered with a clear and flat tone, not denying it. He was brave to be standing before certain death. Most men would have cowered, begged for their life, or soiled themselves. Instead, he stood defiantly, welcoming his fate.

Far away, Traeliorn acknowledged his bravery and sent the final message to the human, “Then legionnaire, know that it was I who sent you to your afterlife for your crime. Traeliorn Kelran, Vaeril’s teacher and friend.” The wyvern roared and lunged at the legionnaire with its powerful legs and neck.

Traeliorn gasped as the backlash from his mental link with the wyvern was severed. He fell to the ground, and Kylma nudged his exhausted body worriedly. His aether was spent, and his head had an intense pressure. He was in disbelief. The wyvern must have been killed. How was that even possible? So instantaneously? Only one thing could have done that—void magic. It must be another accused void mage like the Emperor. How powerful would he have to be to slay a wyvern with just a spell form?

Traeliorn needed rest—a lot of rest to recover from the backlash and the ordeal of the day. He was not going to return to Bartiradian lands until he got his revenge on the legionnaire who killed Vaeril. He rationalized that killing a void mage would help the Bartiradian war effort.

A few days later, Traeliorn was watching through a wolf’s eyes as two legionnaires searched the wyvern and Vaeril’s body. He was still too weak to attack. He had come here in hopes of returning Vaeril’s body to the earth but found the legionnaires here instead. He should have known they would want to harvest the wyvern. He watched and waited for them to leave. When they did, he had the wolf follow them. Kylma stayed on the lookout while Traeliorn buried Vaeril. He actually shed tears as he completed the task, promising the corpse he would avenge it.

The wolf followed the legionnaires back to the city of Sobral. The next day, it followed them along the road and then north along the old abandoned trade road. There were over twenty of them in the company but only two apparent mages in the group, and that legionnaire with void magic was among them as well—so three had strong magic. Traeliorn landed and dismounted Kylma a good distance away. He was still much too weak to confront them, but it would still take them days of travel to reach the capital. A dire wolf came out of the brush to challenge Kylma.

Traeliorn smiled as the contest of wills with a dire wolf, even in his state, was not difficult. He sent the dire wolf to replace the common wolf and track the mage company. He figured they must be returning to the capital on the old road. He wouldn’t let them get there, though. He just needed to recover more before he could summon again.

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