The gloomy castle rose high above the Lake of Eldor, its dark waters illuminated by the light of the full moon. The wind whistled through the open window of the great hall, where Rodan lay motionless on the damp floor at the crystal basin. The moon shed its silver light on the basin and at once the mixture of water and magic potion began to bubble. Wisps of fog drifted slowly out over the rim of the basin and down to the floor, like a shroud around Rodan's cold body. His evil spirit crept its way back into the lifeless form that was clothed in the black feathers of ravens and lay collapsed beside the crystal basin.
The spirit crawled like a silver shimmering snake out of the bowl and slid its way to Rodan, entering his body through his mouth and nose, breathing new life into the mighty moor elf. His heart started to beat again and with a deep breath of relief, Rodan reared up and gasped for air. The water simmered down and the fog slowly retreated through the cracks of the old walls.
Rodan slowly regained consciousness. Grabbing hold of the basin's rim, he stood up on shaky legs. In no time, his degenerate spirits returned and he felt stronger and mightier than ever before. He crossed the hall in long strides and climbed the steps to the tower two at a time. Standing at the castle wall, Rodan surveyed the black Lake and eagerly inhaled the fresh cool air. He had failed. Once again he had not succeeded in destroying the human children and their friends. Strangely enough though, he felt no resentment or anger. Last night his magic was more powerful and mighty than it had been for hundreds of years. He was now strong enough to free himself from captivity. This he sensed very clearly. Asragur's magic was no longer strong enough to hold him in this dungeon.
Rodan started laughing. At first he only chuckled to himself. But then he began to shake and broke out in uncontrolled laughter until all of the hate that had built up in him over the many years of his imprisonment turned into a loud bellow that could be heard out over the lake.
"What is the reason for your exuberant joy, my lord?", Agraq asked, who, unnoticed by Rodan, had perched upon the wall.
"Good evening, raven", Rodan retorted without looking at his feathered spy.
"Wouldn't you like to share the reason for this joyful occasion, my lord?", Agraq asked, trying to seem indifferent.
"Yes, I would", replied Rodan and glanced at Agraq's cunning black eyes. "Last night I regained my power of old. I will reduce this dark damp dungeon that has kept me imprisoned for centuries now to to rubble. Again Rodan laughed like a madman. "Asragur, listen to me", he hollered into the night. "Before the sun rises, your spell shall be broken and Morana will be mine for all eternity.”
"That's extremely good news, master", Agraq feigned and fluttered his wings excitedly. "Especially since the human children and their treasonous companions managed to get away again." The raven enjoyed taunting him. He knew that the failure of the night before would only feed his lord's hatred all the more.
With a grim look, Rodan drew nearer to the impertinent raven.
"Count yourself lucky that I still have use for you, otherwise I would pluck out each and every one of your feathers for this show of disrespect", he threatened Agraq, who remained calm and fearless on the wall and withstood his lord's gaze.
Agraq felt lulled into a sense of security, for Rodan would also need him in the future to learn of anyone opposing him. Such important information would be hidden from him without the help of the ravens.
"What do you have to report, Agraq?", Rodan wanted to know and gazed pensively over the moonlit lake.
"Your next opportunity will arise, my lord. You gave Lhasmo and his company quite a scare last night. They are still camping at the Lake of Gozhal. As far as I could tell, the human children have been weakened. But they were also able to gather a lot of the sacred pearls out of the depths of the temple garden. They will set out for Assurah tomorrow", betrayed Agraq's raspy voice.
Rodan glanced at the black bird in surprise. "Assurah? I wouldn't have thought Lhasmo to be so stupid!"
"It is maintained that they are taking the route prescribed in the prophecy", the raven continued. "Lhasmo has no other choice than to lead the boys through Assurah, even if it means that Dragoma could queer their plans", Agraq explained.
Rodan folded his arms and paced back and forth brooding. "Be that as it may", he began after a while. "Lhasmo will lead his friends safely through Assurah. It's essential that we beat them to Mount Tularon. I must shed the boy's blood in order to obtain power over the Well and thus the rule over Morana.”
"Certainly, my lord, but you should bear in mind that the cliff dragon will do all he can to make sure Asragur's prophecy is fulfilled. He is an adversary to be taken seriously and nobody knows how many of his kind are still in existence", Agraq pointed out.
Rodan swirled around in fury. "Ha, I defeated the great dragon king. It will be a pleasure to smash his entourage like cockroaches under my feet! If there are indeed any dragons still alive from those I have already turned to stone. It is time to set out for Boscra and claim the services of the shadow wolves. I assume that Oldur has in the meantime reminded Tamir of his promise?" He looked inquiringly at the raven.
"Oh, indeed, my lord", Agraq was pleased to announce. "The Nagrim has reached the wolves more or less in one piece. He was welcomed with a game of cat and mouse through the woods, which your servant managed to win. At least for now", the raven chuckled. He knew that it was only a matter of time before Oldur, loathed by the wolves, would be torn to bits. At the moment, though, Rodan wasn't so much interested in the fate of his servant. Instead, he gave last instructions to the raven before making final preparations to turn his back on his prison once and for all.
"Send out your scouts, raven! I expect a daily report on the location of Lhasmo and his companions. They will lead me straight to the Well", he exulted and joyfully rubbed his hands together.
"Very well, master. As you wish", Agraq said, bowing his black head and flying off into the night sky, where he soon vanished into the darkness.
Rodan watched the raven disappear into the night. His day had finally come and now there was no time to lose. He climbed the steps to the dim hall. He didn't need to take much with him - maybe just a few potions? In the end he figured that his newly gained power would suffice for his magic, without the aid of anything else.
He stood in the middle of the great hall and focused on the crystal basin. With fingers on his temples, he gazed at the murky water which immediately began to bubble higher and higher till it overflowed the rim of the basin and poured onto the floor. Rodan began to float over the floor of the hall. His cold grey eyes caused the crystal to glow and the basin to vibrate the entire room.
The old walls began to tremble and an earthquake shook the land. The enormous rocks, where Asragur had once erected Rodan's prison, began to totter. Mighty waves in the Lake of Eldor crashed against the black rocks. When the crystal could no longer contain Rodan's power, it burst into a thousand burning fragments.
Huge stones loosened from the walls and plunged into the deep raging waters of the lake, where they would stay for good. Rodan exited his prison before the rotten beams could collapse, burying him under tons of rubble. A snap of his fingers put him standing on the northeast shore of Eldor.
He watched the spectacle from there with gratification. The castle, his dungeon now for centuries, vanished into the depths of the black Lake with tremendous noise. How long had he been longing for this day!
He scanned the lake one last time. The waters were calm and dark, as if nothing had happened. The rocks protruded ominously out of the dark waters. Except for the tower, nothing remained of the castle. Ghostly silence descended upon Eldor.
Rodan smiled contentedly. Some day he would surely have use for the massive tower. But that could wait. He was in a hurry. He had to get to Boscra to seal his alliance with the shadow wolves. He would at least maintain a semblance. He could hardly afford to free Tamir and his people from the curse of the Ruler of Light.
He disliked nothing more than sharing with others. Even as a child he hated sharing his toys with other children. Especially the coloured shiny star pebbles found on the banks of the Andal River which were so popular among the children of the moor elves.
It was no surprise that Rodan grew up to be a bad loser. He had to be better than all of them, whether at archery or thinking away. He tolerated no one as his equal and definitely no one better and more skilled than himself. There had once been an opponent who beat him at a competition. Rodan sneaked into the house of the proud winner in the dead of night and took him away.
No, Rodan didn't like sharing. He wouldn't dream of keeping his promise by turning Boscra over to Tamir. The hope of the shadow wolves, that he would free them of their curse as soon as he assumed power over Morana, was absurd. It amused him and put a nasty smile on his face.
Morana belonged to him and him alone! Nobody could change that fact. Nobody – neither the shadow wolves nor a human child - could stop him now that he was so close to his goal.
After glancing back at the tower one last time, Rodan whirled the black coat around him and disappeared into the darkness.