There was a large roar and all the girls dropped to their knees with their hands over ears. They stood up and ran outside There was a huge beast, just like the Draget but much bigger.
"That's a dragon." Ivy said.
"I figured," replied Amber.
"Fire is ineffectual, we need you to control its fire though," Ivy said to Amber, dragging old memory and things she had read in the book up to the surface. "Water, make sure its cold though," she said to Thalia. "I need you on the defence Selena, push people out of the way with your wind if they are about to get hit, also use your snow to attack it. Saffron if you know any dragon killing spells be my guest to use them. Other than that just try to help Amber, Selena, and Thalia wherever you can. Same for you Lia. I'm going to try and restrict its movements a bit." All the girls nodded agreement and spread out. The dragon opened its mouth to breathe its deadly fire. The fire had just left its mouth when Amber shut it off. Immediately Ivy's vines curled around its legs and muzzle. Trying to pin it to the ground, vines grew up its legs and around the body in a strong net. The dragon reared up on its hind legs ripping the vines apart. Pursing her lips Ivy tried a different tactic, she used strangler vines to try and choke it. Again it ripped through the vines like simple thread.
Then the horrible beast turned on the minor nuisance and managed to get ahold of Ivy's whip and flung her against one of the houses. Ivy heard something crack and one of her ribs broke. But that was not to be the last of Ivy's problems, and the huge tail slammed into her as she stood. It flung her several feet and to the ground. Ivy stood up and ran.
"Ivy, get behind one of the houses, find cover!" Saffron yelled. Ivy duck behind one of the houses just as it's armored paw slammed into the house and crumpled it completely.
"Like we practised," Thalia called to Selena. Ivy turned her head with a question on her lips
"D'accord" Selena nodded. A strong gust of wind blew Thalia into the air. Saffron spread her wings and caught Thalia and swept her up to the dragon's neck. Then she dropped her off and glided out of the way and Thalia's sword sang and deadly song and the great beast's head was severed from its neck.
"How?" asked Ivy. All of her bewilderment was contain in that one single word.
The red blood dripped off Thalia's sword and she stared into the distance. "This is not the first dragon I have killed," she said slowly. Then she left, she had the look of someone lost in the past. As she left Ivy heard her mumble, "I had hoped to never again enter the ranks of dragon killers. I had hoped that "Sapphire Rain, killer of dragons" was a girl of the long past."
"This is not the only monster that we have faced we faced. You missed many monsters when you left," said Amber.
All the girls left quickly and Ivy wondered what had happen that was so horrible. And once again she was left alone. Ivy walked to the dragon and put her hand on its flank, then she crumpled to the ground. The pain was unimaginable and she knew at least one rib was broken, she looked and her ankle was twisted and swollen. She laid down on the ground and could not get up. Her body hurt and she closed her eyes trying to shut out the pain, but instead she just faded away.
In the morning the girls found her stretched out it agony. She was completely unconscious, and they thought they had lost her. Even once Thalia exhausted all her magic power she was unable to fix the ribs and ankle. Ivy was out for several days. Every time Thalia had enough magic she would try a healing spell, in the meantime she put the ankle back into position and bound it tight with cloth. Saffron also seemed to know some slight healing spells but even with the combined efforts of the two of them it was still touch and go, and they did not know if she would survive. It was obviously not just broken bones, but a sickness in her body, possibly a poison in the dragons blood.. But Ivy was strong and healthy and eventually she woke up. Still it was several weeks before Ivy could walk. Within in that time the girls fought several monsters. Ivy hated sitting out those fights and she resented her incapability.
When she asked Thalia why and when the started having so much attention. Thalia's eyes went hard. "It started right after you left, about when we expanded the camp again. I guess we are to inconspicuous." Ivy nodded and wondered if Thalia blamed her for the increased attacks.
That night she didn't stay up to read the mysterious book, instead she let the stress of the day claim her and she fell asleep. When she woke her scenes were groggy, but she shook herself awake and ran to the edge of the camp quickly and silently. As she expected one of the girls was up and walking silently towards the camp, she made no noise almost as if she was floating an inch above the ground. When the girl reached the edge of the encampment Ivy asked. "And where are you going?"
"Hello Ivy," said Saffron. "I did not think anyone would be up at this time of night now that there are not night watches."
"Maybe not, but something woke me and I came to see what it was," said Ivy smoothly.
"I suppose that was me, bizarre, I would have sworn I made no noise." said Saffron good naturedly.
"Perhaps that was the problem, it was entirely silent, and the very absence of noise alerted me that there was wrong." bantered Ivy.
"Isn't there usually no noise?" asked Saffron.
"My creatures make noise, but upon your passing they were silent." replied Ivy.
"Then I was doomed either way, make noise and you would have heard me, make no noise and you were awakened by the silence." laughed Saffron.
"I will not tell you not to go, but I will ask you not to, right now Thalia and Sylvia both need to, so I beg you to please not go."
"You owe me a favor Ivy, and so I use it now, don't try and get me to stay, I let you leave, please do the same for me." uttered Saffron. "And please, do not make this harder for me."
Ivy nodded, "Fine," she walked her friend outside "Don't go that way," she said pointing to the direction she had gone in. Saffron nodded and went the opposite direction. Ivy felt the tears in her eyes threaten to spill out. "Good luck and come back to us safely. Saffron's snake draped itself over Saffron as she disappeared from view. Ivy went back to bed and slept till morning.
Saffron however kept walking. When she could walk no more she flew. When she could no longer walk nor fly she rested. She did not yet know what she was looking for, but she knew she had not found it yet. Saffron also had the distinct feeling what she was looking for was also looking for her, so she sat down and waited. She was not long in waiting. "Hello, my apprentice." articulated an oily voice.
"Hello Death, my mentor, my ideal," said Saffron. "Yes, I recognize you despite that fact the voice you use is not your own."
"You have grown my child," This time the voice was melodic and beautiful.
"That is your true voice, why do you not use it? And whether I have grown does not concern you." hissed Saffron.
"Doesn't it?" asked Death.
"No, it doesn't, not anymore. Azrael." said Saffron as she stood.
"Do not use that name," Azrael warned.
"Why not? you have so many names, why should I not use your true name?" asked Saffron.
"Because it is my true name, and someone might guess it!" Hissed Azrael.
"No, that is not the reason Azrael, I think you are afraid to remember who you once were, before you took the name Death." said Saffron evenly.
"Why are you here Azrael?" said the ever suspicious Saffron.
"To test you as I have so many times before my dear Saffron. Or should I call you December, the name you used ever so long ago."
"That is not my name, it never has been, it never was," said Saffron.
"No, it was not, but you still remember the person who held that name." said Azrael.
"I do, one does not forget her so easily, least of all me," Saffron closed eyes to blink back the tears. "I have not forgotten you either. You said you were here to test me, then do so."
A cloaked figure stepped out of the shadows. With her night vision Saffron could see her vague outline, but not enough for the fine tuning of a fight, when a inch could mean death, or a least losing. Saffron spread her arms and the circle in which they stood was illuminated.
A bone white hand reached up and knocked back the cowl from the face. The face now revealed was white, but the eyes were large and black and the lips were black to, as was the long hair. The face was not a cruel of haughty one, but instead striking beautiful, but it was a hollow beauty, for the girl it belong to had no heart, and the expression she wore was always one of indifference. She unbuttoned the cloak and let it fall to the ground, she wore long black flowing pants. Her feet were bare, and so was her stomach. Her chest was wrapped up in thin white bandages. A she readied herself to fight to scythes appeared in her hands, the scythes of life and death, life was silver, and death obsidian, both indestructible, and highly dangerous.
Saffron smiled, and cast off her cloak. Under the cloak she wore her armor, it was the skin of an Astral Gorgon. Saffron had melted down its metal skin after she killed it and formed it into tight fitting chain mail tunic. Her legs were covered with tall metal boots and strong leather leggings. Thin tendrils of metal weaved up her arms connecting the tunic to metal gauntlets that stopped just before the elbows. She was moving even as the cloak just touched the ground.
"You have learned a lot since we last fought, defense is your best weapon. And moving is your best defense and you are wearing real armor this time, none of the silly little armor designed to show of cleavage and use detraction as a defense. And you are not using a fancy magically created weapon, after all they are so unreliable and might disappear at an inopportune moment!" In Saffron's hand there was no weapon at all, after all these years she had learned that weapon to weapon, Azrael's scythes were better than anything else. No, she could not beat her with weapons she must some how disarm her.
She swung the chains on her wrist and Azrael jumped back narrowly missing the elongated chain as it whipped by her. "My turn," she smiled. She leapt forward towards Saffron with the to scythes crossed in front of her. As she rammed into Saffron the idea was to open the scythes, slicing a huge wound in Saffrons stomach. But Saffron dodged, jumping high in the air at the last minute.
Saffron landed and swung around, Then she was on the move again, as Azrael turned Saffron's chains sliced across her face opening a thin wound on her check across the bridge of her nose drawing dark scarlet blood. "First blood," said Saffron.
"First time..." said Azrael.
"That has no relevance," said Saffron, her feet barely touched the ground skimming constantly moving. Azrael smiled and lashed out with the obsidian scythe. Saffrons chain wrapped around and she jerked the scythe back. Saffron grabbed on to the beautiful weapon. "Now the odds are even, death against life. Death claims all, but life touches only the lucky, which is stronger?" she smirked.
"Death can only harm what life touches. Perhaps you made a bad choice?" said Azrael. The two girls ran toward each other and on the moment at which they touched both girls spun in a full circle as whirled in a terrifying dance of death. Then they disconnected, and the scythe went flying out of Saffron's hands. "The Battle is over," said Azrael with certainty. Then she fell. In one terrible moment when the scythes danced the black obsidian slashed a gaping wound in her unprotected stomach. Saffron was instantly at her old friends side.
"Why do you never wear armor? You who was always chiding me to wear useful armor instead of that silly stuff why do you never wear armor?" Saffron asked.
"I did once, along time ago, I believed it could protect me. I shut myself in a suit of armor, and I never came out, but it could not protect me, nor those that I loved. When all my friends died in battle I stopped wearing armor, because it will never protect me!" cried Azrael. Then she pushed herself off the ground and stood, "I leave my scythes to you, put them to good use." The blood dripped out of the wound, but Saffron knew she would not die, she could not die, she was death. And Azrael began to glow with a light from within.
"Azrael..." Saffron didn't need to finish her sentence, parting between them were alway such. "Somewhere in time I will find you again." There was a large burst of light and Azrael was gone. The words Azrael left unsaid lingered in the still air. For a very long time Saffron stood simply looking into the distance where Azrael had been. Then she simply turned around and cried.
The scythes felt heavy in her hands as she knew the weight they held. They glowed bright and disappeared, Saffron knew she could chose to call upon them any time she wished. She walked slowly back to the camp. She did not know how long she had been gone already or how long it would take her to get back, Azrael always had this affect on her. Sometimes it seemed time stopped when they fought, sometimes it seemed as if they were stuck in one time but the rest of the world moved on without them, it was unpredictable. Her feet padded silently on the glassy surface of the ground and she did not once stop walking until she was home once again.