May 01, 2000
Category: Original, Fantasy
Author: Ozzie Padilla

[Disclaimer]

Princess of the Blue Crystal Spire

PRINCESS OF THE BLUE CRYSTAL

Tower in the sky
Grace where swans fly
Blue is the world above
The spire of blue crystal
Does the Princess retire.

Only when the dawn arrives
And the dusk drives
Will the blue crystal spire
Unlock the keys to the

Princess heart and desireÖ

***

Part One: Captive

When the world was ready for bed, the sun lowered beyond the horizon, to veil the earth in a blanket of darkness. Swans flew the crimson, orange air, like flickering sprites. Lazily the clouds rolled on, taking on the forms ancient sea mariners navigating oceans of white foam. This was the time when life readied for sleep, this was also the time of wonderment and magic, also known as the time of twilight.

How beautiful the time of dusk was, as the clouds rolled by. The sky blazed like the desires of the heart. Displacing all anguish, and burning want.

Gwenyth loved this time of day. This was the only time she could really see the world in all its splendor and beauty. A small breeze drifted by her small window, made out fine blue marble and crystal. The cool wind flowing through her long, dark curls.

She shivered in joy. Looking out side the window she saw a flock of swans far through the red sky. She took notice of one swan trying to catch up with its companion flying away. The fair bird darted out of the cloud embankment and began to plummet. It fell toward the earth, like a tear from a crying goddess. The swan then pulled up from the dive and gained more speed joining its fellows.

If she could fly, she wondered, would she to plummet from the sky like the young boy out of myth. Or would her beautiful wings keep her aloft on the gentil breezes of the sky, high above the earth where, only immortals soared.

Her dark penetrating eyes gazed at the sun, as the orb finished its rolling trip to the beyond. A tear flowed down Gwenyth's face. Like water flowing down the sides of a fine pearl, even tears could not tarnish the beauty that was her's.

Gwenyth could feel the saltiness of her sadness, as the suns rays vanished in a veil of blackness, with that so would the sky and world. She had gazed from her prison for a hundred years. Damn this prison! she thought turning away from the darkness that held no stars. Damn this blue crystal tower, that had held her there for a more time than she could remember . Ever since that night she was taken from family and home, she had wept more than a hundred tears.

A hundred tears of sadness.

She curled up into a ball, and covered her face with her hands. She could fee lthe cool touch of the satin sheets of the bed beneath her. With tears filling her eyes she gazed about the large ornate room, which held lavish rugs of regal blue, and several murals that adorned the wall about the chamber. It reminded her of how lonely she was.

To her side she could see the fine wooden cabinet, beside her bed. The piece was finely crafted and stood almost as tall as she. the wood was carved beautifull showing a diorama of pictures, mostly of fairies and wood elves frolicking in a large forest. To her right side she spied the wonderful night stand of crystal. Upon the table was a pitcher made of pure gold, with some exotic drink within. Accompanying the pitcher, lay a bowl of silver finery, laced with gold trim about the width. The bowl held apples, pears, oranges, and fruit of the like.

Gwenyth looked sick every time she stared at her sterile abode. There was no life no beauty, only shiny things that showed no difference. Where she know lived was something alien to her. The world she gazed outside, during the times of dawn and dusk , where the times she could feel change. Stagnation would leave as she saw the shifting colors of light and sun, the textures, as the red sky changed from red, to orange, to a dark purple . This was life, not the cool, pristine, often times unmoving room she now lived in.

Gwenyth let out a sigh and tucked her legs under her, curling up once more into aball. For many years she had endured, yet she wondered if could endure another hundred years of loneliness.

Loneliness was a prison all its own , it was a prison that human beings as a whole could never escape. It is a trap that most fell in and never returned. Only those that held hope to their breast, and courage in their soul, could ever hope to be free.

Gwenyth had looked in her soul and had asked her self the same question, did she have the heart, the desire to live , and strive for hope and for years she had survived .

As if to answer her question, the great metal door of her pristine chamber opened , to a shrieking slam, that almost made her jump from her bed.

A slight mist began to rise from the out of the chamber and slowly moved across the room, filling every empty space. She wanted to scream, she had to yell, but terror clutched her heart like a steel vise. The mist choked her as it rose from off the ground. It was if the air had, had a mind of its own. The gray substance began to congeal, and sickening snaps, and pops filled the room. To follow was a great crack, as if bone was breaking and bending from exerted force. Squishy noises followed as the sloshing sounds of rippling skin could be heard over those cracking bones. Gwenyth wanted to gag, she wanted to bolt out of there, yet she couldnot for the instrument of her fear stood before her.

The figure was stooped over, hunched. In the figure's worn and gray hands was a staff of solid blue Crystal. The Figure stood a little over four feet high , and adorning his twisted hunched form was a blue shimmering cloak.

A slight wheeze could be heard, from cracked lips as it spoke.

"Once more we can enjoy the warmth of companionship, my pretty." The robed figure shuffled forward, his left leg dragging behind him. Again he weezed happily.

Gwenyth twisted her face in displeasure at the sight of the form . The figure noticed the woman displeasure and mist began to flow from flared nostrils.

"Now, now my dear, dont make such a face. You know the tales that say little girls shouldn't pout or their face will will become frozen." The fcloaked figure said in a syrupy way. Gwenyth thought she would gag. Gwenyth had, had enough! she would not cringe like some forest deer for this creature. Easily she rolled from her bed and briskly walked toward the window. Red eyes gazed at her from afar, eyes as red as crimson orb that know hid itself from the world to bring night. Turning she looked at the figure and launched a evil scowl. The figure rushed at her, its leg not slowing the his speed at all; it was incredible swift, and nimble even with a hunched back, and useless leg .

"Once more you have spurned my attentions!" The voice from his throat cracked.

The man stared up at her, his red eyes feeding on her fear. Gwenyth only returned the gaze and prayed for courage.

"I have given you everything, a beautiful home, your beauty is everlasting, like this palace, and you have immortality. What more do you desire?" He snarled, his grip tightening on about his cane. "What would you have of me? For you nothing is impossible!"

Gwenyth simple stared. How pitiful this man looked, and how she hated him for what he had done to her.

"Brake these bounds you bind me with, and free my heart from this prison."

"Damn you! Never! You were promised to me, and you shall never leave this tower. I, Algarick the mage of blue crystal, and no other." He wailed, then began to sidle off, dragging his uncooperative leg. As he neared the door, he seethed spittle coming forth from his mouth. "Even if I must keep you here an eternity, I shall. Mark my words I will have your love, and you will desire me!" As he closed the door, voice trailed. "If I must wait so be it, let us see who is the the stronger!" His last cackles resounded from the closed door.

Gwenyth slumped to the carpet, and she began to weep. How many years, she wondered . She wanted to run, wanted to tare out her hair, and gouge out her eyes, but she knew that her captor would only find means to bring her back from the land of the dead. Gwenyth wondered how many more tears she had left to shed.

***

Part Two: Dragon of Onyx

Flames licked the houses, and homes of the village, as men scurried out of their slumber. The night winds picked up uncontrollably. A man was jostled, as he tied his spring coat around his shoulders. Looking about he could see all about him, as his tiny village burned. The wind only helped the carnage about. The wails of those who had lost their homes, echoed through the night. The man looked up into the sky and saw Anaver's moon, high in its apex. The light orb showered the countryside with light, and the stars that made up the heavens flickered on and off. The farmer shuffled back in and woke his wife and children. His family rushed out of their home as flames spread from the strong winds.

As the man carried his weeping daughter, and his wife their son, his eyes opened wide as he gazed at the moon. There a black object reared. The man wept, as he gazed at this vision of dread, for he and his family were doomed. The black object soared on wings of death, and flames of chaos spewed forth from a maw of darkness.

Where once a village had been, know only smoking embers lay. Wings beat the night, and flames danced upon the wind, as doom took flight.

***

The stench of burned flesh assailed, Ethen senses. The young squire fell back, and the lunch he had eaten fell out of him.

"Not a strong stomach, huh, boy." A gruff man, walked over to him. The soldier wore, heavy gauntlets, and a jerkin of fine mail. Ethen gulped, as he gazed up at the man. Gruman was always an opposing site since he stood at above six feet. His clawed out eye gave the soldier a menacing appearance. His long shaggy mane of red hair was always unkempt, and the stubble of his chin could chop down a tree.

"I never knew burnt flesh could smell so bad." He gasped again feeling his gorge about to rise again.

"Ha, I knew we should have left back at the estates. I don't know what has gotten in lord fandis-."

"That will be enough, Gruman. Leave my son alone; you have many important things to take care of. Go!" A rider came up on a large brown roan horse. The mare whined and, the rider pulled back on the fine leather reins.

"Yes, my lord Fandis." Grumman kneeled before Fandis, as the lord unhorsed.

Fandis Brimarmor, shook his wavy brown hair from his eyes, and walked over to Ethen. The boy looked up and raised a gauntlet to the sun, to see his foster father clearly. Ethen shook whenever he was in the presence of the man. Often on the country estates, he would scurry away like a dog with his tail beneath his legs, because of the pure aura of this man.

Ethen often asked himself why his stepfather, had asked him on this mission. He was no soldier, like Gruman. He never wished to fight. Eating and resting underneath his favorite tree, was what he lived for; that and to have Sindra a young lady at court, by his arm for his nightly readings and poems. His favorite was the Princess of the Blue Crystal Spire. It was a minor fairy tale, written over a thousand years ago, before the enchantment wars.

Ethen had always laughed at the text, as to its archaic script, and detailed wording. Yet there was something about the piece he enjoyed. Sindra enjoyed it as well.

He was amazed when Fandis had asked him to travel with him. They never truly got along. It was only by pity that the lord of Brimarmor took him in seven year prior. Of course how could he turn down a starving boy at your door?

Fandis watched the boy, and dragged him by his horse.

"You amaze me sometimes. When are you going to fight back when Gruman speaks to you in such away." Fandis sneered, spittle hitting Ethen and the lord's dark beard.

"None should talk to a lord of Brimarmor in that way, even if he is a orphan whelp. You are my son, if you like it or not. Behave like it!" Fandis released Ethen's cloak, and the boy of fifteen winters fell to the mud caked ground.

"Father..." Ethen choked meekly. Fandis whirled on him.

"After me there will be one more lord of Brimarmor. That will be you Ethen," He turned, as a scout came rushing toward him. Both men whispered, and Ethen tried to catch a few words. Finally Fandis dismissed the man. "They have found the lair. You will help the other squires tonight. Afterwards see me in my tent with the other men." Fandis led his mare away. Ethen looked at his mud caked breeches, and sighed.

"Only to be back underneath my tree, with Sindra."

***

That night torches were placed all about the camp. The warriors of Brideland had un-strapped their tents and were ready for rest. Each warrior in the camp knowing the next day might be his or her last. Many men whispered to one another, gauging what horrible fate lay in store for them. Others gulped down, wine and sweet ale to ease the dread that ate at their weary bodies.

Ethen was not one of those men. He twitched as he surveyed the battle plans, with the elite of Brimarmorís men. Fandis hand darted to the worn map that lay on a large yellow, brown thatch table.

"There, the beast lays in wait." He sat back on his low stool, and downed a glass of warm wine. Ethen hated standing up, hated war briefings, and swords, armor as well. All he wished for was his tree, and off course Sindra. He could smell her scent wafer from her blond hair even now. He could remember the feel of her soft skin against his, as she curled up beside him, both enjoying the rays of the waning sun. The twilight time, when one, the legends said, could see a tower of blue crystal.

"Ethen! What do you think!" Fandis scowled.

He could tell his father was upset; he had been day dreaming again. Looking about he could see the dissatisfactions, of the other warriors. Gruman, the stout barbarian warrior, from the mountain ridges of the polar bear spine, only grunted and held on to his clans spear. Ethen had once seen Gruman strike a man in battle, the haft shoving clean through breastbone and plate. His head whirled about, and saw, Algarick Galeforn, the lord's twisted mage, move forth from behind the Lord of Brimarmor.

"Well pup, speak." Algarick shuffled into the light, torch light. The old mage moved with a slow gait, his leg being shattered. He walked upon a cane of blue crystal, and as he reached Ethen, his eyes turned a hot red.

Ethen stepped back. Algarick often spooked him; he had never liked the creepy man. "Well sir, I can say very little. I am just a squire with little or no battle experience." There, that was an intelligent answer.

"Spoken like a true coward!" Gruman said with disdain. Fandis's hand made a cutting motion, and Gruman went silent. Ethen knew the true answer. Upon looking at the map the terrain was mountainous, separated by a mile of grass plain, then forest behind.

Ethen also knew what ever had destroyed the prior town was large. No goblin horde, or kobold army could turn, people to ash. The creature they sought was big, perhaps larger than a house.

He knew if you were going to hunt prey, never hunt it on it's own field of advantage. The cave was deep inside the mountain, and the creature probably knew it well and had the advantage.

"Why do I ask," Fandis gazed at Ethen. "Go, rest. For you and all of us will need our strength on the morrow.

Ethen bowed. "Yes father." He began to walk out the tent, as Algarick began his lesson. The old man's voice crackled, like fire from a hearth.

"The monster we seek, is known as Oynexvesthem, or better known as Oynex. This creature is known as Blackus Draconis."

Ethen blood went cold, as the last word he heard from the tent shattered his Mind. He had not heard right. He could not have heard right. As Ethen walked back to his tent with the other squires, a cold sweat dripped down his forehead. Doom would rise with the waking sun.

***

Ethen shielded his eyes, as a rush of sulfuric acid came rushing down from the giant maw. Steaming Acid engulfed a fleeing square burning both flesh and bone, quickly, leaving nothing but the remains of charred skin and death. Ethen barley had time to roll out of the way, of the disintegrating liquid. The boy simply reacted, and tore at the destroyed ground. All about the field lay Brimarmorís finest warriors. Many were bitten in half and strewn about. Many on the other hand were not so luck, they died in agony as the acid ate their flesh, and melted their bones.

He ducked behind a large rock, near the mountain entrance of the beast. Ethen shut his eyes as his tears burned down his face. Fandis had been wrong. The situation had been wrong. This hunt had been wrong. The mage had insisted, had pressured his father and all his men to hunt this beast, to hunt this nightmare.

The creature had been waiting for them. Once the warriors had reached the plains, undead servants, with rotting skin, and cold death, had besieged them. The warriors of Brimarmor had fought well, but their number shriveled, as the legions of undead continued to rise from the plains.

Half the company had been decimated, by the foul legion. But the true horror was yet to come. With the morning sun came, Brimarmorís fate.

It came from up high. Shearing winds tore at the mountain rock, scattering men and horses about like weak kindling. It was raven black, and seemed to blot out the sun like night. It was like some great bat, with wings of fine leather, and pulsating blood. Not even the suns rays could give light, to its hide. From fang to claw the beast was a machine of destruction; whatever dark god had created the monster, had done its work well.

Like a speeding arrow, the lizard like monstrosity bore down. On the first pass, all that could be heard were the wail of fine men dying, as razor sharp teeth tore skin, bone, and gristle. Most of the men had no clue, on what was going on, so in fright they forgot to run. The massive twenty-foot creature came slamming down on four men. Their lives were shattered by the bulk. Fear tore at every man's heart. Slit like eyes burned like pumping blood, as it destroyed the warriors of Brimarmor.

Ethen had been shocked awake from the initial attack, and had been lucky to stay alive. He breathed in and out; he still could not believe what he saw hulking about on all fours. This creature was legend. A legend like the book he often read to Sindra. He never thought, a creature so horrifying could exist. But there before him, stood a nightmare, from every childhood dream. Like some boogieman, the thing brought death everywhere, a bite here, a tail there. Ethen closed his eyes and whispered, "Dragons don't exist." He felt something grab his cloak, and thought death was about to take him. Rapier out he was about to jab when he say Gruman limp towards him.

"Thatís no fire-Drake, coward." The man cried, then coughed. Ethen pitied the man that stood before him. Grumanís hair had been singed by acid, and several nicks and gashes were all about his body. He had seen Gruman better.

"Enough!" Another voice cracked with raw intensity. Fandis limped over towards, Gruman and Ethen.

"Are you well lad." Fandis asked, his hands probing his son for wounds. Ethen was in shock; he had never seen his foster father act in this way. In the man's teary eyes, Ethen saw affection, caring.

Fandis doubled over, blood spilling from his lips. Both Ethen and Gruman rushed to his side. Gruman lifted the battered lord to a rock, and smiled.

"Well, my lord, we are in a fine mess." Gruman cracked a smile.

"As always old friend." Fandis lifted his right hand to Gruman's shoulder, and his left to Ethen. "Have any of you seen the mage."

"Not I." Gruman replied leaning against the wall.

"Nor I father. He has betrayed us. We should not have listened to him." Ethen turned about angry.

"But why would he betray us? What reason would he have, boy.Ē Fandis stared at his son. Ethen simply shrugged. Ever since the mage had come to Brideland to be Fandis's advisor, things had gone wrong. And at the same time the creature had appeared.

"Its a feeling I have, Father, nothing more." Ethen, gazed at his father, then turned to look at the carnage. All about the plain the bodies of Brimarmor finest warriors littered the plains, their blood soaking deep into the ground.

The black dragon simply lay on a heap of fifteen dead men, waiting like some cat after a mouse. Slit like eyes probed the area, and rays of light bounced of the mountain walls.

"It looks for us." Ethen stepped back, and gazed at his father. Fandis face grew slack, and he gathered himself up. With a look, Gruman shook his head; both he and Fandis knew what had to be done. Ethen felt his soul go cold like the night before. Something was wrong.

Fandis strode over to Ethen, and grasped the young man by his shoulders.

"It waits to finish us, my son. Not you." He said determined, his hand going to the hilt of the blade by his side. Ethen simply shook his head in disbelief. All he wanted was his tree, and the people he loved. Even though he and Fandis never really got along, Ethen cherished the man for rescuing him from the cesspool he once dwelled in. This was the only father he had ever known.

"No, father let me go with you!" Ethen whimpered.

Tears fell from Fandis eyes. The Lord of Brimarmor had always been hard on the Ethen. He could remember the scalawag, when he had tried to pick his pockets in the opens streets of the market. From that day he had cared for the youth. He had tried to look out for Ethen as he grew, and always tried to give him the best he could offer. But it seemed that was never good enough. All Ethen seemed to care for was for himself, nothing more and nothing less.

Fandis knew he had to be stern with boy as he grew; he often wondered if Ethen hated him for the coldness he had showed. Now that all seemed a moot point, as he gazed at the young man; the son he loved. Looking into Ethen's eyes, he knew that it had not been in vain. Fandis for the first time saw true love in his son's eyes.

"This is for the best, Ethen, here take this," Fandis gave the youth the long blade, "this will protect you as you escape. Gruman and I will try to hold off the dragon. What ever you do don't look back, don't hesitate, run. You are the last lord of Brimarmor!" Fandis engulfed him in a hug. Gently easing his pack off, he handed it to Ethen. Gruman strode over to Ethen and smiled.

"Well whelp,Ē He gave a large laugh, and slapped the boy in his back, "If you've learned anything this day, remember us." Gruman gave the boy a hug. Ethen was simply in shock. Gruman had never hugged any one in his life.

"Now go boy, Run." Gruman yelled at the top of his lungs. Ethen began to run, his legs pumping harder and harder. Then he stopped; he couldn't leave them to die. Whirling about the boy ran back to the nook. There his worst nightmare came true.

Gruman, limping ran down the open plain, in one hand was his tribal spear in the other was Brimarmorís banner. Fandis followed gleaming plate-mail glowing in the bright Sun.

"Brimarmor!" Gruman screamed. His cry rocked the heavens, and later on in years to come, many say they could still here the battle cry.

Oynex, great wyrm, full of fang, full and fury; reared up on his hind legs and smiled. Razor sharp incisors bared, as if the grab hold of the sun as swallow it. The serpentine neck coiled and shot out. Gruman gazed at, the flashing head of the dragon and, and let fly his spear. Tons of lizard flesh exploded against, Grumanís body.

Ethen had seen Gruman in many battles and had heard stories of the old Barbarian strength. Now he saw the stories were true. Gruman's spear had ripped into the great wyrm's eye, shattering the orb, just as Gruman's body took the full force of the dragon-strike. Tears flowed down Ethen's face, for he knew the warrior would never rise again.

Oynex roared, as the great dragon pulled out the spear. He had not felt pain like this since beyond time. With one good eye the beast snapped Gruman body in two. Blood sprayed about he plains, and slaked the thirst of the great wrym.

Fandis seeing his friend's fate, cried out as well. Oynex looked down at the brightly armored man and reared back, as his two handed broadsword ripped against the soft under side of the beast. Oynex breathed in, and let loose a geyser of sulfuric acid. Fandis was quicker staying underneath the soft dragon under-belly. The Lord of Brimarmor knew that he would not survive. He was fighting for himself; he was fighting for Ethen, and the kingdom he loved so much. With tears streaming his eyes, he knew the time was right.

Fandis lord of Brimarmor, Father of Ethen, hoisted back the giant two- hand blade and sent it crashing down upon the underbelly of the Dragon. The blow would have split a rock open, but Fandis stopped the strike.

Eyes blinking, Fandis could feel the sharp pain coming from his back-side, underneath his mail. He could feel his life-blood welling up.

Time stopped.

Action stopped.

Fandis felt blood coming forth from his mouth. The Lord turned, and gazed at the man who had stabbed him.

Ethen gazed in disbelief, as he saw dark robed man plunge his dagger deep into Fandis back.

Algarick, the mage smiled. Sinister eyes, danced upon the vision of the mortally wounded Lord.

"Why?" Fandis stepped closer; he could feel the dragon bearing down on him.

"Why you ask? Really very simple. To rule." Algarick cackled. "It was only a matter of time before I destroyed your family. Stupid fools thought by imprisoning me in a magical prison I would not brake out. Your Grandfather, was always a fool. Always thought with his heart. Even when I killed his first wife, and took his daughter." Algarick plunged his dagger into Fandis chest.

Fandis yelled out. With his last breath he would kill this man. With a great heave Fandis swung the last blow he would ever swing. The strike never hit, skimming of the field of blue energy. There was a woosh sound, and Fandis saw no more.

Oynex gazed at the smoldering form of the prior lord of Brideland, and smiled. "Well Algarick, I have done your bidding. These fleshlings are all gone."

"Not all, one still lives. But he is a minor matter, of no importance to us. Come there is much to plan. In three nights when the Spire of Blue Crystal flies over Brimarmor, my revenge will be complete and Brimarmor will be no more.

Oynex brought his head down, and Algarick shuffled upon the back of the beast. The dragon let out a roar in the summers light, and flew off into the heavens.

Ethen clenched his fists, and swore that he would find Algarick, and kill him and Oynex. But then the prince sighed; he had only three day to find where the mage kept his tower. The only place he could look would be the great library, back in Salis, the capital city of Brimarmor. With a huff the young man went forth, vengeance in his heart, and a debt to pay-back.

When a dragon on a dark moonlight
Soars on wings of might
Death and chaos will reign
Until a warrior of heart and right
Finds the spire of Blue Crystal in the heavens higher .

Magic, steel, and dragon breath
Flames of life, and death
A hero , and a princess cross
And a Blue Crystal Spire lost
Brimarmor honor doused be mystic fire

Ozzie Padilla

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