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  • They circled the city in ever widening orbits until they verified nothing lived within five miles of the center. It looked as if it had been razed with dynamite. Torr landed near where the path led into the ruin. They agreed that Torr would circle aloft while he went inside to assess the damage. As he got inside, he could see huge burn marks from laser canons. The further in he went the more bodies he found. He heard the thoughts before he saw the survivors. Herded together at the furthest point from the sea were a small group of rhino men, women and children.

    The men turned to him and would have attacked him, but he banged the medallion on his chest and bombarded their thoughts loudly with “bow down or die!” When the men saw his medallion they quickly bowed their heads and thought “Sire, you have come as you promised.” He looked at the leader and recognized one of the guards from the caravan. “Yes, I came on a flying beast as I said I would only to find your city in ruins. What happened and how long have you been hiding in this corner of the city?”

    The rhino man told of being attacked from the sea by two great ships. At first they didn’t know who it was as they tried to find safety. Then, when the city was ablaze from the fires they came ashore and plundered leaving dead bodies in their wake. A couple of pockets of survivors hid until they left the city. But it wasn’t long before the firing started up again and what was left of the city began to collapse on itself. He asked who attacked them and the image put into his head was of tall bipeds unlike anything he had run across. “Gronks” was thought to him “They live on the coast of the great sea near the land of the dragons. We have traded with them in the past; slaves and food grown on our farms. This time they just came and took everything. We have been hiding for two nights in case they came back.”

    “Gather what food and supplies you can find from this mess and start to move toward the outside. It is unsafe to stay here much longer. Nothing is stable and the smell from the dead will soon be too much. We will let the city bury its dead once we are out. Have you looked for other survivors?” And as he asked that, he could hear another section collapsing nearby. “We are the only ones left” the rhino man said as he ordered everyone to carry what they could and led the evacuation

    He contacted Torr and sent him images of the inside. Huge holes had been blown through the outside walls. The firepower of the ships must have been enormous to inflict such complete damage. A few minutes into the evacuation, the section they had been hiding in collapsed bringing a curtain of dust at them and causing a chain reaction on that side. The adults picked up the children and lumbered toward safety. It was frustrating because their fast pace was like a normal walk for him. When they finally reached the outside, there was little of the city recognizable. A flat, jumbled bed of stones with an occasional bit of color sticking out from painted boards on the shops.

    Torr landed nearby and the rhino men drew back in fear until he walked over to Torr and they warmly greeted each other “For a few moments I was worried I would have to carry sad news to your widow” teased Torr. He agreed that he wasn’t too sure himself for a few minutes. They turned and walked over to where the rhino men were gathered. Their women and children had never seen a dragon before and stared openly at Torr. The children peeked out from behind the adults and Torr was enjoying his moment of glory. “This is Torr. He is my friend and companion. If you approach him nicely, he will let you touch his wings” he thought to the little ones.

    At first no one moved, but curiosity got the better of them and soon they all moved close enough to touch him, even the men. “We have a couple of shuttles that should be here by nightfall. I have contacted them and they will render first aid to any that need it. You said you had farms nearby. In our flight we saw no structures within miles. If you are indeed stranded with no help, I invite you to return with us to our canyon area and join with us. You have met my warriors in battle and know they are a formidable foe. They can also be a powerful friend if you would like.”

    They discussed their plight and soon came to the decision to accept their hospitality. The farms were three days ride further to the north, and none of them were farmers. Everyone kept busy getting a meal together so the children could eat. They didn’t have to go far to find enough stones to construct a crude fire pit, and the broken pieces of lumber were everywhere. A quick flame from Torr’s breath and the cook fire was ready. The kids were trying to get Torr to breathe fire again for them and after a couple of demonstrations, chased them off to eat their meal.

    Before the first sun set, the shuttles were spotted in the distance. They arrived and soon the warriors had everything under control. Since it was near dark and the warriors had been traveling all day, they decided to camp out for the night and leave for home at the last moon fall. The kids were excited and had trouble falling asleep, like children everywhere on an adventure. He had just fallen asleep when Angel sent strong thoughts to both he and Torr, “Come home now. Don’t wait for the others. Aral is hurt and Kia has been kidnapped. Hurry”…
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