Wind whistled through Malachi’s hair. He rolled over so that he was facing downward again and able to see where they were going.
“You got a plan for getting’ through the barrier, kid?” asked Blog.
“Barrier?” Malachi hadn’t heard what the girls had discovered with the Patternstone.
“Yeah, we can’t just fly back to the Cathedral. We have to go through one of the magical gates in the city wall. You’ll have to explain to the guards.”
“Fly to the gate nearest the Palace,” yelled Malachi. Their speed was carrying them quickly toward the other gargoyles which were circling the city. As they began their descent in toward the main southern gate, other circling gargoyles began to notice them. Malachi noticed that these were staying out of range of the archers on the city wall. As they dropped near to the gate, arrows began to be fired at them.
“Don’t shoot!” Malachi yelled as loud as he could. But the arrows continued. Then Malachi realized that they weren’t able to see him. “Blog,” he yelled, “fly back out of range for a moment!”
Blog had already checked his course. “Retreat!” he yelled to Blig and Blag. “You got it, kid!” he said, banking in a sharp turn to the right. The centrifugal force quickly made Malachi sick and nearly knocked him unconscious.
Suddenly, some other gargoyles were attacking them. He caught a glimpse of Scrapper hanging in Blag’s claws. The poor dog was as limp as a wet rag. Then, with a jolt, he realized that Blag had been hit by another gargoyle and was spinning out of control toward the ground. All Malachi could do was say a prayer for the dog: “Save Scrapper oh God!”
When they swept away the other gargoyles, Malachi noticed a terrible sight in the distance. A black spec was quickly becoming a big black object flying straight toward them. “The Dragon!” He said out loud. That was a mistake. He could feel Blog shaking with fear.
“We gotta fly in the gate now, or I’m done for,” said Blog, who had once again turned to sharply. Malachi momentarily blacked out. When he woke a few seconds later, he could see the archers firing again. He began waving his sword frantically.
“Keep going!” He yelled.
“But the archers…” began Blog.
“Go right in! I’m waving my sword! Trust me!” The sword not only glowed grey, but it was now also burning with regular fire. “The Dragon,” he thought to himself. He began to twirl the sword in smooth circles. This time he had the archer’s attention. One of the bow men near the gate was pointing at him and shouting something. They stopped firing.
Malachi was beginning to faint again from the intensity of the situation.
Something terrible was happening behind them. Like a smooth black storm, Chaozz came in at storm wind speed. Malachi realized that they would not have time to explain to the guards who they were before Chaozz would come up and possibly destroy them. He could actually see the shadow of the Dragon which had got between the southern sun and the walls in front of him. This gave the effect of darkness descending in midday.
Now, because I’m narrating from the omniscient point of view, I can step inside of Levi’s shoes for a moment. He and the other guards were charged with defending the city gates. Under no circumstances were they to allow any dragons to get close to the doors.
“It’s Malachi!” Levi yelled. “Keep them open!” His fellow guards had begun running the doors closed with all speed.
“Dragon!” They shouted in response.
There was no way to make the guards under his command understand in time. He picked up the crossbow next to him on the parapet from which he was firing and strung the arrow which he had had fitted with light rope. Taking careful aim he shot at the city gate itself. Hitting the door closest to him, he looped the rope around a battlement pillar and jumped.
His leather handgrips sounded like a bumblebee as they slid down the 50 feet or so of rope. As he was sliding, he yelled with all his might, “catch me!” Of the ten or so guards closing the gate, only two looked up at their captain, so great was their fear of Chaozz.
Levi came to the end of his rope slide with a ‘thud’, hitting the gate. Mercer, not a very large man, but quick on his feet had been one of the ones to look up. He stopped pushing on the gate, pivoted to his left and reached his arms just in time to check Levi’s fall. The two rolled on the ground.
This commotion was just enough to get the attention of the other four guards which were closing the large gate door.
“Reverse it! Trust me!” said Levi, jumping to his feet and beginning to push the door open. At this, his guards realized what their leader was doing. It seemed so counterintuitive, but their years under Levi had made them trust the man. They quickly ran around to the other side and began to open the door.
As they swooped in, Malachi was from fainting by sheer terror. Blog’s claws had gotten a little too tight, but thankfully, his head had already been facing forward so that he could see what was happening. To his dismay, the gate doors were closing.
All the archers except one had dropped underneath the ramparts. One lone archer stood just outside the gate waving them in with a circular motion of his arm.
“Straight in!” yelled Malachi. The three small gargoyles were at top speed but the black shadow behind them was still gaining.
“It’s closing!” Blog yelled back. Malachi craned his neck to look back and realized that only a few seconds separated them from Chaozz. It would be close. Just when it looked like the doors would be closed, the door on the right stopped its closing motion and began to open again. The three gargoyles look like small grey fighter jets being chased by a black canopy of cloud.
“To the right!” Malachi yelled. This time, Blog’s only response was to veer slightly to the right. Malachi could feel the heat of flame on his backside as they swept in under the archway.
Levi and his men quickly reversed the direction of the door, switching again to its backside. But there wasn’t enough time. Dragon fire ripped through the opening before they could fully shut it. The door was partly iron and partly oak beams. The iron became glowing orange. The oak, well let’s just say it began to incinerate, as did the drawbridge which led to the gate.
Carriages 100 yards from the gate away caught fire as the dragon’s blast came through. Blig Blag and Blog disappeared as soon as they let go of their cargo, because when they came through the barrier, the magic that had held them was released. They dropped Malachi and Scrapper about 20 yards in. It was hard to say who was more still in the next split second. Blig Blag and Blog were now gutter spouts nearly a half mile away on the sunny side of the Cathedral near the cloister Gardens. Malachi and Scrapper had become a half dead puddle consisting of boy and faithful friend.
Levi and his men had slammed the gate shut just in time to avoid being consumed by the Dragon fire. But not in time to avoid the smoke. Levi held his breath. Several of his guards did not.
Unfortunately, Malachi was unaware of the peril of Chaozz’s breath. The black smoke goes right to the head. The brain forgets to do what is right. The central nervous system forgets to resist the Dragon. The eyes become curious, wanting to see the Dragon up close.
Malachi had sucked in a good lungful.
Levi rolled away from the black smoke and took in hyperventilating breaths from the clean air on the inside wall. He had to get enough stamina to run in and drop the gate latch. When the latch was dropped, the magical shield around the city would become complete again. Chaozz angled his tail and threw the gate open, crushing two of the guards against the inner walls. However, using his tail in the air, Chaozz was off balance. He had to circle around for another pass. He could not land on the sheer stone walls and the drawbridge was already weakened from flames.
Levi saw the opportunity, but just as he was about to slam the latch shut, he realized that two of his own guards were tottering toward him. The black breath had blinded their minds, and now they wanted to get to the Dragon at all costs. To make matters worse, the Dragon had looped about and was coming straight in again. Flames were already coming through the half ruined gate.
Levi had no choice. Using the pommel of his own sword, he knocked out the first of his own guards. The second was going for the burning door to open it, oblivious to his potential death.
Levi swung around as his fellow guard, Jenkins, reached the door. With a burst, Levi jumped onto his shoulders, and used the extra height to drop the latch bar squarely in place. BOOM! The tongues of fire preceding the dragon suddenly stopped.
From the outside, Chaozz hit the magical barrier. He knew the feeling all too well from past experience. It was like being electrocuted. How he hated being reminded that he wasn’t invincible. He fell with a huge ‘hisss’ into the moat below.
Levi was now in a desperate struggle with his own guard. It is nearly impossible to jump onto somebody while holding your breath. Yet that is what Levi had done. He knew that the black breath would be disastrous. As he jumped off Jenkins, intending to roll for safety and good air, the possessed guard grabbed his foot.
For Levi, it was like struggling underwater. He knew that if he took a breath now, he would be under the black influence and likely do something to open the gate once more. He squirmed, giving Jenkins his boot, and rolled away from the black smoke. It was a near thing, and he had to lay panting for a few seconds before he could tell the small crowd which had gathered to stay away from the smoke.
“Someone needs to stop Jenkins! But hold your breath while you do it!” Said Levi to his other guards. Jenkins was just approaching the smoldering door and latch.
From the outside, Chaozz could sense that someone was under his influence. He took to the air again, ready to blast more breath in if he could.
Thinking fast, one of Levi’s other guards took a large rock and knocked Jenkins senseless with a trained blow.
The wrath of the Dragon was terrible. He circled around breathing fire and slamming trees and farmsteads with his tail. But the magical power of the Patternstone could not be broken. Chaozz had his limitations.