Once Walked With Dragons

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Chapter Twenty Four

After a few days, the Ravens finally found the Haunted Castle. It looked even more horrible than they could ever imagine.
‘We actually found it.’ Jonathan stated.
‘Finally.’ Alexander added.
‘We have definitely been here before.’ Joseph said.
‘Sharzak rules here. Everything can play a trick on you.’ Alexander explained.
‘No turning back now.’ Michael said.
Joseph looked around, feeling the weight of the air dragging him down into a depression of evil. He glanced about the area, when he noticed a figure standing on the highest tower of the castle.
‘Who is that?’ Joseph asked.
Michael looked up. Suddenly a look of surprise and shock crossed his face, ‘I, I think that might be Keara.’
‘She’s alive?’ Jonathan could not believe it.
‘So it seems.’ Alexander said.
‘But why is she in her transformed state?’ Jonathan wanted to know.
‘Maybe she’s been fighting Sharzak.’ Joseph thought.
‘No.’ Michael said, ‘Keara wouldn’t try to fight Sharzak by herself; at least not now.’
‘She seems very calm.’ Alexander pointed out.
Michael stared at the figure of his little sister. Her hair had grown much longer than it was the last time he saw her. It seems that she had learnt how to retract and extend her nails at will. She was no longer hiding the mark of the Dark Elves.
‘I don’t think that’s our sister anymore.’

‘They have come for you, Salerra.’ Sharzak said as he stepped out onto the balcony just below Keara. He no longer called her Keara. ‘Now it’s time to prove your loyalty to me.’
Keara looked down at Sharzak. Her expression remained impassive. It was clear that he had complete control over her.
‘Kill them.’ Sharzak ordered.
Keara looked at the Ravens. A moment later, she leaped off the tower, flying straight towards her brothers.
‘She’s attacking us!’ Jonathan screamed.
Each of them drew their weapons.
Michael didn’t have enough time to dismount before Keara swept past and dragged him off his horse. In a great arc, she flew upwards with Michael in hand; face to face.
‘Keara.’ Michael gasped as he looked into her blackened eyes.
Keara looked back at him without any emotion in her eyes; not uttering a word. All of a sudden, Michael gasped as incredible pain shot through his body. He looked down to the source of the pain. Keara had plunged her razor sharp nails into his ribs without even looking away. He looked up at her again. It was no longer his beloved sister he was looking at; but the most powerful servant Sharzak will ever possess.
Before Michael could make any kind of sense of what was happening, Keara released her grasp. He fell, without even trying to fight it.
He had failed her. His sister was gone. All that remained, was a demon that had taken control of her body. And that demon would destroy them all.
Keara landed in front of the other Ravens who had dismounted their horses and witnessed the horrific scene.
‘This isn’t you, Keara!’ Alexander pleaded.
‘No point in talking to her.’ Sharzak started, ‘Keara is no longer the Raven you used to fight side by side with.’
In a fit of rage, Jonathan stormed the castle, wanting to end Sharzak’s life. But Keara intercepted his run and tossed him to one side like he was just a ragdoll. He crashed into the ground; a cloud of dust erupting around him.
She did away with Alexander in no time at all. The only one left, was Joseph.
Joseph was afraid. He would never even have thought of challenging Keara when she was just a normal Dark Elf.
‘What happened to you, Keara?’ Joseph pleaded, fear dripping from his voice, ‘You would never attack us.’ he started backing away as she approached him, ‘What has he done to you?’ Joseph had barely finished his sentence when Keara attacked. Joseph hit the ground hard. When he opened his eyes, Keara was kneeling over him, with one hand angled at his chest.
For a moment, Keara’s face showed remorse, and Joseph knew that Keara wasn’t completely lost. But before he could react, her nails extended through his chest. Joseph gasped and looked at Keara with tears streaming from his eyes. Her nails retracted again; she stood up, turned to face Sharzak, then took flight. She landed on the tower she had stood on only moments ago.
‘Well done, Salerra.’ Sharzak said, then turned and left the balcony.

He had left her alone. Though her expression was still impassive, a tear rolled down her cheek. She was trying her best to forget the occurrence which had unfolded only a short while ago. But no matter how hard she tried, she could not forget the pained faces of her brothers as she attacked.
She kept looking at her brothers lying there on the ground, blood gushing out of terrible wounds, which she had inflicted. She flew down to them, just looking at them.
She reached out for Michael, picked him up and took flight, laying him down next to a flowing stream in a thicker, healthier part of the forest. She did the same with all her brothers, leaving them there in the darkness of the forest. She had sent the horses on their way; in the direction of her brothers’ location.
Soon she was back at the castle, though she had no idea what to do. Wandering around on the rooftops, she noticed that several of Sharzak’s subjects were watching her. A moment later, she shifted her gaze to the sky, watching the stars twinkle, a strange emotion growing in her heart. Not being able to understand this emotion, she spread her wings and flew off in another direction.

‘Master, she left. She is no longer in the area.’ a Shadow stated as he approached Sharzak.
‘She’ll be back soon. She has pledged her loyalty to me by killing the Ravens. She is no longer welcome in the world she once fought so hard to protect. She has nowhere else to go. She’ll be back.’

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