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loogslair.com As I've said before, Grrr.


Guardian of the Ceremony

A Serial by Tim Connolly

In the previous chapter, Hogan met up with Prince Drax, where he obtained the Draconian talisman. But they soon realized that they had released A'nake's host body from prison.

Chapter 16: Friend and Foe

Hogan and Drax flew as fast as they could to the fortress where they had been held. Hogan wished he could have flown there at full speed, but Drax could only muster the same flying speed as the other Draconians, such as the ones who had taken Hogan and Gauno to the dungeon. "I'm sorry I let all those guys out of the cell," Hogan explained. "I guess A'nake had us both duped."

"That's all right," Drax replied. "Now that we know who A'nake is, it will simply be a matter of you scaring him out of his body."

As they flew, they watched as the moon slowly made its way into the sky. It was already a quarter of the way up. "Shouldn't you start the ceremony now, just in case?" Drax asked.

"I can't. I have to wait until the moon's all the way up. If I try to do it now, The ceremony would backfire. I'd lose all of my powers."

"We'll just have to hope that you can hang on to it long enough to use it when the time is right."

The fortress slowly came into view. There were no outside sources of light, making objects hard to discern. Hogan did spot some movement at the top of the tower, however; someone was standing on the prison hatch, waving his arms. "That must be Gauno," he said.

"Here's hoping he has good news to tell us," Drax remarked.

Within minutes, they were above the fortress. They motioned for Gauno to join them, and the Ki'rathian floated upward to their altitude.

"Gauno, it is a pleasure to see you again," Drax said.

"The sentiment is mutual, Prince Drax," Gauno responded.

Hogan sighed. "Bad news. That guy who was talking to us in jail was probably A'nake's host body."

Gauno's eyes widened. "He was? Oh dear. I am afraid he's already left."

"That's what we figured," Drax responded. "Luckily, we have the talisman, but we have to wait until the moon's fully risen until we can use it."

"Do you remember which way he went?" Hogan asked.

Gauno thought for a moment. "He went off to the south. He mentioned about returning home at a large city in that direction."

"There is a city about twenty miles to the south," Drax said. "There's almost a hundred thousand people there. If he were to make it there, he could dispose of his old body and find a new one. There'd be no way to locate him then."

Gauno began to fly off to the south "Then we'd better get to him before he reaches that town."

Hogan and Drax agreed, and followed Gauno southward. Hogan took Gauno by the shoulders so that he could fly more quickly. The moon was now more than halfway into the sky.

Every few moments, Hogan peeked towards the east, watching the moon make its ardurous travel into the night sky. "I wish that thing would hurry up and finish rising."

"We mustn't worry about the moon for now," Gauno instructed. "Tracking down A'nake is our main priority."

Hogan furrowed his brow. "Gauno, are you all right?"

"I... I'm fine. Why do you ask?"

"I dunno," Hogan answered,. "It's just that you've never used contractions before when you speak."

Gauno smirked. "My time with you has had an effect on my vocabulary, it seems." He looked at the eastern horizon - the moon was almost finished rising. "Where again do you have the talisman, Hogan?"

"It's in my pocket. Why?"

"Perhaps you should enact the ceremony now. We'd best not do it in the town, or else you would transform everyone there as well."

"Good idea. Drax, you'd best cover your ears." Hogan reached into his left pants pocket, and pulled out the talisman. After taking a deep breath, he slowly began to recite the magic words.

"Nagasu hi'eria, voraesilifu axina kum, shi-"

Before he could finish the chant, Hogan felt something strike him in his stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Gauno had kicked him in the midsection. In the recoil, his hands opened up, letting the talisman drop several hundred feet onto the ground below.

"Gauno!" Drax shouted. "What are you doing?!"

The Ki'rathian looked to Drax and gave a devilish smile. He began to chuckle, growing into a pronounced laugh. "I'm sorry, Prince. Gauno is a little... occupied at the moment."

Hogan's eyes widened as he made the realization. "A'nake!!" His hands immediately charged up.

"I wouldn't do that if I were you," A'nake warned. "In order to return to Ki'rathia, you'll need Gauno to take you there. You wouldn't want to injure me, would you?"

Hogan seethed in anger. "You bastard. I didn't think you'd ever resort to something this low."

A'nake laughed. "That's your problem, Ki'rath. You're always worrying about what's right and wrong. I, on the other hand, see things as either useful or useless. And you, my friend, are quite useless to me." He squinted, and suddenly Hogan's mind was pounding with the same jackhammer pain that he had been trained with on Ki'rathia, only several times more powerful. It nearly caused him to drop out of the sky. When A'nake decided that his foe was sufficiently crippled, he stopped the mindshock. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a talisman to steal." With that, he bolted downward, headed for the ground

Hogan's mind reeled, but he had barely enough reserves to speak. "Drax... you've got to... stop him..."

Drax nodded, and dove towards the planet's surface after him.

The ground below was covered in thick shrubbery, making it more difficult for the talisman to be noticeable. As A'nake hovered over the ground, he studied the lay of the land. "A slight delay in my plans. No matter. I shall find the talisman soon enough."

"Not if I have anything to say about it!" Drax shouted from above. A'nake looked up to see the Draconian Prince floating just overhead, his body albaze with spirit energy. "You think the Ki'rath is the only one who can fight with his spirit?"

A'nake smirked evilly. "Ah, if it isn't the little prince. You should've seen the look on your father's face when I killed him. He looked like a deer staring at the headlights of a large truck, so paralyzed in his fear that he never had a chance to change his expression when I slaughtered him."

Those word were driving Drax into a furious rage. "I will have my revenge!" He charged at A'nake, but before he had a chance to reach the possessed Ki'rathian, A'nake brought his hand up, stopping Drax in his tracks. "What are you doing to me? Let me go!" Drax protested.

A'nake laughed again. "I always knew the telekinetic powers of a Ki'rathian shaman could be put to such wonderful use." He floated up right next to Drax, just far enough away so that the prince couldn't reach him with his flailing punches. "This has to be the most powerful body I've ever possessed."

"You fiend!" Drax shouted. "Why not let me go and fight fair!"

"Let you go? Why, certainly." A'nake pointed downward, and it was as if the string holding up a marionette had been cut; Drax plummeted onto the ground. "I have no time for this. I must find the talisman."

Drax swiftly got up and made another lunge at A'nake, but the spirit anticipated it and caught Drax again. "You don't learn, do you? You're just as stubborn as the king." He waved to the side, throwing Drax into the trunk of a nearby tree. Drax slumped to the ground, too seriously injured to react for the time being.

A'nake resumed his search, and within moments spotted a twinkle from one of the bushes. He landed on the grass, then dug his hand into the plant. Seconds later, he plucked out the silvery talisman. He let out another evil laugh.

"My plan has worked flawlessly!" He gloated. "The Draconian talisman is mine!" He hovered into the air. "And now, all that's left is to find a group to use it on."

A'nake climbed back out of the forest, and continued south to the city. Drax, unable to move, could only watch as the possessed Ki'rathian departed.

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