Once Walked With Dragons

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Chapter Twenty Three

Keara was chained down in the dungeon. Sharzak decided it would be wise to do so, for what he was about to attempt. If something went wrong and she was not restrained; he would be in grave danger.

Sharzak started performing a ritual to resurrect Keara. The stab wound started healing. After a few moments, Keara started breathing. She still seemed to look the same, though her purple eyes had faded into blood-red.
She sat up, taking in her surroundings, when she realized that she was chained around her forearms and upper arms as well as her ankles and neck. She was trying to figure out why she was chained down when she noticed Sharzak looking down at her.
‘Hello Keara.’ Sharzak started, ‘I bid you welcome.’
Keara just stared up at him.
‘Tell me Keara, how is it that a woman possesses the Devil Gene, and a Raven, no less?’
Devil Gene. Keara now understood where she was and why. She remembered what had happened. She had died. She touched her ribs where Scander had stabbed her. The wound had healed, but the scar remained.
‘You know about the Devil Gene.’ Keara stated.
‘Of course. I was in the company of Dark Elves long enough to learn about it.’
‘Then you should know that a female Drow always carries the Devil Gene.’ Keara retorted.
‘Well now.’ Sharzak started, ‘The Drow still managed to keep secrets from me.’
‘What do you want with me?’ Keara asked.
‘What I want, is Crucis Salerra. Though, I admit I had not expected you to carry the Gene; it just makes everything even more perfect.’
‘And how’s that?’
‘The life-force I have provided you with, binds you to me. Which means, you will do whatever I say. You will start opposing the very people you fought for.’ Sharzak explained with glee.
Keara sprung to her feet and attacked but the chains restrained her just enough for Sharzak to take a step back for his own safety.
‘Of course we’ll first have to break your resolve.’ Sharzak stated, ‘Don’t try to fight back Keara; it will only make it more painful.’
Sharzak departed from the dungeon, where Keara was left in solitude. She could already feel her resolve slipping out of her grasp as Sharzak’s life-force started filling every breath she took. But she would fight. Fight until she no longer could.

Keara was in the dungeon on her own for days before Sharzak started sending his subjects to torment her and try to break her resolve. Getting beaten into unconsciousness because her will could not be bent.
‘You will give in, Keara. You have no choice. The life-force that now runs through your body will make you loyal to me. And with Salerra under my command, I will be invincible.’ Sharzak marvelled, ‘And the Ravens will be the first to fall.’
Keara launched herself forward, only to be stopped by her restraints; just barely as the force made the bricks budge a millimetre or two, ‘You will not touch them!’
‘I won’t be the one who kills them Keara,’ then a horrid smile appeared on Sharzak’s face, ‘you will.’
She attempted to attack him again; her restraints barely holding her back; the bricks budging another millimetre or two.
Sharzak gave a terrible laugh before he left her alone again. Once again, she was left with only her thoughts. A single tear rolled down her cheek. She was losing the battle. She knew that she would; the evil power was gaining control, but she refused to stop fighting. She would keep fighting until she no longer could. But how long would it be before she bowed to her enemy?

The Ravens had set up camp somewhere in the forest. Even after weeks of fruitless searching, they refused to give up hope. It was common knowledge that the Haunted Castle was in the forest, and most people had known where it was and took care to avoid it, but either, the castle had somehow moved, or vanished entirely; for they could not find it.
‘How long do you think it would be before we actually find the Haunted Castle?’ Joseph asked.
‘I don’t know, Joseph. Hopefully it will be soon.’ Michael started.
‘What do you think he’s done with Keara?’ Joseph wanted to know.
‘I don’t know. Many of his powers are still unknown.’
‘That’s probably why we can’t find his castle.’ Alexander noted, ‘He must have placed a spell on it, so it wouldn’t easily be found.’
‘I guess that makes sense. Especially since everyone knows where the castle is. But no one knows how to get there.’

Her resolve was growing weaker with each passing day. With dark images being placed in her head, the Devil Gene grew stronger. She could feel the creature taking over and she knew she could not prevent it. Soon she would give in to the power of Sharzak. Soon her struggle would be over. She knew her brothers would not find her before she lost herself completely. All hope was lost for her.
She seemed to stare into nothingness. A hazy figure seemed to float above her, coming closer to her, until finally it materialized.
‘You have been here a long time.’ the hollow voice moaned.
Keara didn’t look up, or respond.
‘You must not give in.’
A tear rolled down Keara’s cheek and dropped to the ground.
The spirit seemed to cry with her, disappearing. It didn’t know what else to say.

‘With any luck, we’ll find the Haunted Castle within the next few days.’ Alexander remarked, ‘The life of the vegetation is growing weaker. We must be close.’
‘We’ve been here before.’ Jonathan noted.
‘Yes, but there’s something different about the atmosphere this time around.’ Alexander observed.
‘We must be getting close.’ Joseph thought.
‘I hope so.’ Michael started, ‘We have to stop him before he gets too powerful.’

Many spirits crowded around her. They were all trying to convince her to hold on, to never give up, to keep on fighting. But she was weak; still chained down in the dungeon, her head hanging, hair over her face. She was bruised and battered, and not healing at all. Sharzak entered the dungeon. He walked up to Keara. The spirits quickly dispersed, fearful of Sharzak and his dark presence.
‘The Ravens will be here soon.’ Sharzak started, ‘Are you ready to serve me, Keara? Are you ready? Salerra?’
Keara slowly looked up; her eyes had turned pitch black. She had completely taken the form of Crucis Salerra, no longer being able to transform at will. Sharzak smiled his horrid smile.
The spirits wailed in the darkness. Yet another one had fallen to Sharzak’s will.

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