Once Walked With Dragons

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Chapter Fifty Seven

The fire roared in the huge fireplace in Sharzak’s room, but he just couldn’t get warm. He had wrapped the blanket tightly around him, even covering his mouth and nose, hoping it would provide him with some heat.

Finally he pulled the blanket away from his face, revealing his pale, almost dead-looking complexion and his hollow eyes. He reached out his hands to the fire, hoping they would warm a little. His hands looked old and withered, like the hands of a very ill, dying old man. But he knew he could not sit by the fire forever. He had too much to do. And with each passing day, he was giving the rest of the world more time to create defences against him. He could not allow this to happen.

Scander was in his chamber, as usual. He had begun to spend a lot more time there.
Word had spread that Scander had killed several of the men who had questioned his duty and loyalty. No one else dared to ask what he was doing behind the locked door of his chamber.
But Scander wasn’t alone anymore. Several people had joined him and they seemed to be performing rituals, not the easiest of sorts.
And still, more Mortags seemed to be arriving.
Sharzak had finally emerged from his chambers; a thick, heavy coat draped over his shoulders. He didn’t understand why he was growing weaker and he didn’t know how to combat it, but he would not let it keep him in his chambers any longer. He had a lot of work to do.
He pushed the heavy front doors open, frozen in place for a moment from the sudden blast of cold air momentarily filling the great hall. Finally he put a foot outside the door, slowly walking down the steps. Pulling the coat tighter over his body, he started walking through the castle grounds, looking at all the work that had been done thus far.
Many of them were happy to see their leader amongst them again, though they were somewhat surprised to see him looking so sickly.
‘Why isn’t this working?’ Scander mumbled.
‘His strength is growing again.’ one of his servants observed.
Scander gave the servant a terrifying look, then stood up and walked over to the window, pulling away the dirty, torn curtain. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Sharzak was no longer in his chambers; he had emerged to join the fight again.
Sharzak kept walking, noticing that the beast below the ground was very quiet, even peaceful. He found it quite strange, especially since he was the only one who fed the beast and he hadn’t done so in a long while. For the moment, he decided not to let it bother him and continued on.
He spent hours wandering the castle grounds, staying near the walls of the castle as it broke the freezing wind a little. Upon reaching the back area of the castle grounds, near the castle itself, he noticed rows and rows of Mortags standing at attention. They didn’t seem to notice him, though. He had known that several Mortags had arrived over a period, but he was not aware that so many had gathered. He thought that Scander would have informed him of so many, but no one had even walked down the corridor to his chambers. Knowing very well what these creatures were and the period during which they had been created, he did not want them there. He wondered how they could still exist. They had been destroyed so long ago. Unless a few somehow managed to escape. Even so, the great number of Mortags did not make sense.

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