I Once Ran Away From the God of Fear and He Chained Me to Despair

 Ardis sighed as the other dragen elders went over the particulars of the plan for the battle to come.  It all seemed so simple in theory.  While the light dragens’ most powerful mages set up a spell to open a pathway into the demon world that the demon forces would be drawn into, the rest of the dragens’ forces would fight them back, pushing them ever closer to the brink.  After the doorway was sealed the few pockets of demons that they would be left to contend with would pose much less of a threat. 

 There was just one problem with putting the plan into practice.  Ardis sighed, then cleared his throat.  When all eyes in the room had turned toward him.  “This plan is to go into effect on the winter solstice,” he pointed out.  “At that location, at that time of the year it is too cold for over half our forces.  The fire, metal and lightning dragens can’t handle those temperatures and the sea and water dragens won’t be able to fight because it will be too dry.”  This was the most he’d ever said at a convocation and he blushed slightly as that thought occurred to him.

 Clearing his throat again, he added, “Sorry, it just seems like… we’re putting all our eggs in one basket.  Can’t we do it earlier or at a different location?  I know why we can’t wait any longer, believe me.”  His tail flicked and for an instant he wished that his wife were there.  She was a source of comfort for him when he had to speak before a crowd.

 To his relief he found a number of the other elders nodding.  “Then there’s the problem of us taking care of the pockets of resistance that remain,” Keslan said softly.  “The eyes of the deep have given us no end of trouble.  The last time we went up against them, it was only the intersession of the ice dragens that turned the tide our way.”

 Ardis felt his blush deepening but he nodded, remembering the battle.  The monstrous creatures that appeared first merely as eyes deep in the ocean had nearly wiped out the sea dragen forces to a man before he’d led his own fleet into the water to help.

 “Unfortunately, there is no time to put the plan into effect at the equinox, when all our forces would be available and it would be disastrous to attempt to wait until spring,” Eldest said firmly.  The light dragen mages have said that they chose the location of the battle based on how strong the magic is there.  It will also help to draw the demons into our trap.”

 “Speaking of traps,” Jesin said.  He stood, setting his wings to fluttering with the swiftness of the movement.  “There have been reports of dragen fledglings and even nestlings being abducted by the demons.  If those are true, by sealing the doorway into that realm, we would be sealing them away from all hope of rescue or escape.”

 “Unfortunately, that may be necessary to prevent more such abductions,” Taurin rumbled.

 Shyrala scowled and snapped, “Easy for you to say, Taurin, you haven’t had to suffer through as many raids as the wind dragens.  If the demons are abducting people they’ve a paltry few from your clan.”  Though the same could be said of the light dragens, none of the light elders pointed this out.  Jesin would have long since set his cup for Shyrala, had the eldest not forbidden it.  As it was the pair had many children together, one of whom had been hardly fledged when he’d disappeared during an attack while he’d been visiting his father.  It was likely that their son was formost in both their minds as they protested leaving behind those who’d been captured.

 “Unfortunately, any rescue attempt would be a suicide mission,” Eldest said softly.  “Jesin, Shyrala, know that the whole conclave feels your loss, but this is best for all dragen-kind.”  Both elders nodded sadly, Jesin reaching out to take Shyrala’s hand.  Ardis blinked away sudden tears.  He couldn’t imagine how he would feel if Myro was one of those taken.  With that last protest laid to rest, the plan was set into motion.  The final battle would take place on the winter solstice in the Central basin of the Winter Mountains.