The boy led them straight to a room on the second level of the Tower that had a hole blown out of its western wall. Zack headed straight for it, and Cain didn't let him get too far ahead. The dragon did look just like the picture Zack had in his magic bag, curled into the space between the walls and the Tower, barely fitting. Chains as thick as trees attached the manacles on its limbs to the ground.
"I take back everything I said about the countryside being delusional," Glitch muttered over Cain's shoulder.
Cain grunted; too busy scanning for DG to form a proper answer. Zero had her in his grip on the south battlements above them and the dragon, and Ichiro was yelling in her face. He growled as he tried to find a path from their position to DG's.
The dragon's head rose up to the hole and a silver eyeball blinked at them. Cain had his gun out before even thinking about it, but Zack shoved his arm down without turning his head to look. "Lyle, this isn't who you are. You have to remember."
The dragon snorted.
"We have to get to DG," Cain said in a low voice. He looked past the dragon and saw Ichiro hit her. His anger flared, but she yelled back at Ichiro.
Zack ignored him and reached into one of the many pouches on his belt without taking his eyes off the dragon. "I know you're in there, Lyle. Remember Hyrule. Remember home." The object in his hand got bigger as he slid it up his left arm until it became an old-fashioned shield. "Come on, Lyle. You're stronger than this!"
Red flashed in the silver eye and the dragon roared as it threw his head back. "I don't think it's working!" Glitch yelled.
Cain noticed the dragon's throat acting just like a snake that swallowed something bigger than its body. Zack crouched behind his shield. "Get back!" Raw yanked Glitch out of the opening while Cain crouched behind Zack, grabbing hold of the boy's upper arm. The dragon spat out purple flames, but a glow extended from Zack's shield intercepted it, kept it from getting inside. Zack twisted his head to look at Cain. "And you got nerve to complain about DG and directions," he smirked.
The dragon's fire finished before Cain could respond and Zack was on his feet again. The dragon's expression looked confused and pained. "Remember the Triforce! Remember Hyrule! Break this, Lyle! Kuso, this asshole isn't even Agmaraa!" The dragon threw its head back and roared.
"Maybe you shouldn't have mentioned that last one," Glitch suggested.
The collar and the manacles were glowing red, and the dragon roared again as blood oozed out from under the metal. A purple light tried to shine out from the dragon, but it was smothered by the red. The dragon roared and brought its tail down on the fortress wall behind DG.
Cain's felt his heart leap to his mouth, but the portion she was on was fine. Ichiro wasn't fighting with her anymore; instead, he had his fist pointed at the dragon. "You can't reason with this! We have to get to DG!"
Zack nodded as pulled a green box off his belt. He pressed a button on what looked like a turtle's shell and metal prongs shot out of the top and rope came out of the bottom. He passed it to Cain. "We're going to have to swing up there."
Cain nodded not even bothering to waste words. He wrapped the block and rope around an outcrop of stone on the third floor of the Tower, and the metal hooks dug into the rock. Zack jumped onto his back as Cain pushed off.
They didn't have enough velocity to reach the battlements with their feet. Cain pulled his legs up so his feet impacted with the stone wall instead of his whole body. Zack grabbed the rope above his head, pulled himself up, and swung onto the battlements. He grabbed Cain's forearm and pulled. Not really expecting that to work, Cain opened his eyes wide when it did. The boy was stronger than he looked.
He rolled to his feet on top of the battlements to see DG running toward them, only to be knocked forward onto her face. "DG!" Ichiro stalked toward her like a Papay smelling fresh meat. Cain fired.
The bullet missed Ichiro, but he saw Zero behind the young Lord staggered and fall. DG picked herself up, and Cain sprinted toward her. "DG!" He fired again.
DG turned to sit on her butt and lashed out with a wave of blue magic. Ichiro staggered back, but stayed on his feet. She climbed to her own feet and slid something out of her pants pocket. Suddenly, a six-foot pole was in her hands, and she was swinging it at Ichiro. He scrambled back from her metal stick, and Cain reached her back.
The dragon's head drew up next to them. Cain grabbed his wife around the waist and pulled her down against the wall. DG yelped, but put up a bubble of blue energy around them. "Are you alright?"
"Not a scratch on me, Tin Man." She grinned at him and he couldn't resist squeezing her in his arms. "What about you?"
The dragon roared, and she shrank against him. "I'd be a lot better if the dragon wasn't in a staring contest with us."
Its tail lashed out again, hitting the wall to Cain's right. He looked back in horror. Zack had been behind him. The boy landed on their still solid portion of the wall and sank into a crouch, watching the dragon. DG moved and saw him. "What the hell is he doing?"
Zack stood with the shield back on his arm and he held it out so the dragon could see the triangle-shaped crest. "You have to remember. You are Lyle, a Gensiarian born in Hyrule. Your mother is Lissa. Your father is Josh from Earth." The dragon threw back its head and roared to the moons. "Your aunt and uncle are Queen Zelda and Prince Link. Your cousin Lin is the Guardian of the Power of Gold. Zoe is the Captain of the Knights, and her daughter Zorden wants you to take her to other worlds. You and Kevin team up to play tricks on Kelamane, and she gets you back by making you dance with her. You have to remember!" Purple and red energy were fighting over the dragon's scales. It reared back again, and the roar sounded full of anguish.
Purple and red energy laced together in a ball lobbed over their heads at Zack. He raised the shield and it absorbed the hit. The boy glared at Ichiro, who stalked around their shield. Cain raised his gun, but DG put her hand on his arm. "He's shielded himself from bullets and my magic."
Ichiro's right hand glowed brighter and a curved sword without a hand guard appeared in it. Zack drew a similar one out of the scabbard hanging from his belt. Ichiro sneered as he twirled his sword in a circle. "Are you a ninja or are you a knight in shining armor?"
"I'm both." The boy who joked with DG had vanished, leaving behind the warrior Raw had alluded to when they first met him. "I am Zack Baker of the Hamato Clan, trained in the ways of the Foot." There was a flash of recognition on Ichiro's face, and Zack smirked at it. "I am also knight errant of the Kingdom of Hyrule, sent on a mission to find the missing member of their royal house. And I won't kill you if you surrender to your monarch."
"I surrender to no one!" Ichiro charged at Zack with the sword raised. Zack nimbly dodged the blow.
Cain watched the two sword masters trade blows. He scanned the area for any other threats. Zero hadn't moved. He got DG's attention. "Stay here."
"Where are you going?" Her eyes grew wide.
"To make sure Zero is out of it." He squeezed her arms before he let her go. He stayed low to make sure bullets from the front courtyard battle didn't hit him. He knelt next to Zero, and realized his bullet must have ricocheted off of Ichiro's shield and pierced Zero through the throat. He hadn't aimed to kill Zero, but he couldn't say he was sorry about how it turned out. He crawled back to DG. "Zero's dead."
She nodded and squeezed his hand as she turned back to the fight between Zack and Ichiro. Ichiro lobbed another energy blast, much bigger than the first Cain had seen him throw. Zack caught it with the shield but it knocked him off balance. His sword clattered across the stones.
Ichiro moved in with an overhand killing stroke with a crazy laugh. Zack saved himself with the shield, and swept Ichiro off his feet. He leapt back up, shield ready. The purple with red gashes glow covered his body. The dragon roared in greater pain. "You have to do better than that, Shadow Assassin. Go on, go for your sword."
He looked incredulously. "You honestly think you can defeat me with only a shield?"
"Scared to find out?" Most of Zack's body was covered by the shield. "Scared to take on the Planes-walker?" Zack's eyes glowed white above the shield. "You take mind control over a dragon, but you won't face me?"
Ichiro snarled and swiped the sword down at Zack's head. Zack's shield arm opened, but he caught Ichiro's sword with one of his trident daggers. His right hand held his iron knife and he stabbed it into Ichiro's heart. Zack let the knife go and took the sword away from Ichiro. The purple and red energy blasted out of him into the sky, as Ichiro's body slammed onto the stone floor. The dragon's roar turned more into a human scream.
Zack sighed as he pulled his knife out. DG let her shield down and Cain helped her to her feet. He drove Ichiro's sword into a crack in the battlements wall before turning to scoop up the rest of his weapons, and ran down the nearby stairs into the dragon's courtyard.
DG looked down at Ichiro's lifeless body. "It's over."
Cain heard the fight still ongoing behind them, but growing cooler. "Not yet, but soon. Come on," he took her hand and led her down the stairs Zack had found. It would be relatively safer for her in the courtyard, until he found a more secure location.
The courtyard was enormous without the serpentine body filling the space. The chains were gone. Zack skidded to a stop next to a small, prone, nude boy laying face down in the dirt. He yanked off his dark brown cloak and wrapped it around the pale body before cradling the head. "Come on, Lyle. Your mom will kill me. And that'll be the end of all things when my sister finds out and hunts her down. Come on."
DG and Cain moved as quickly as they could without running to the pair. Bruises covered Lyle's pale white skin, which looked almost like marble under the moonlight. But he was breathing, and his eyes fluttered open under his black bangs. "Zauk?" he croaked. His blue and silver eyes winced. Cain crouched down next to the boy who looked about ten to twelve annuals old. His bruised throat was cut like the edges of the collar had dug into his skin.
"Yeah, it's me, the one all you Hyrulians run to when you get into trouble." Lyle's laugh turned into a groan. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I think so, just feels like I'd rather cross over." His strange eyes fluttered again, but his hand came out from under the cloak to clutch Zack's. "And you wondered why I come anywhere to help you?" Lyle's voice dropped to a whisper. "This is twice you've saved me. Hyrule has life debts too."
Zack sighed, "Okay, fine, life debt. But why a dragon?"
"Oh, Dad got these books about shape changers for my birthday, and after Zoe and Orden's stories about Dragonsworld," Lyle chuckled. "I didn't realize I activated a portal until I got caught by the guys in leather."
Lyle shook a little, and Cain scooped him up as he stood. "Come on, let's find Glitch and Raw, and set up an infirmary for the wounded. Zack, take point." DG moved beside him while Lyle's eyes started crossing trying to focus on him. "Don't strain yourself. You've been through a lot."
"Sorry for all the trouble, but he would have turned regardless." Lyle curled up against his chest and closed his eyes finally. His breathing was steady, but he didn't weigh hardly anything. Had Ichiro even bothered to feed him as the dragon? Cain felt his face hardened. How long would this damn fighting and hurting innocents continue?
DG put her hand on his arm curving under Lyle. She smiled at his questioning look. "I think we won, Tin Man. No need to look so grim."
"Still a lot to do, Princess."
She crinkled her nose. "I don't think technically you should call me that any more."
Now he smirked. "You want me to go back to 'kiddo'?"
"Oh, hell no!" He laughed at her reaction and she slapped his arm with a grin.