Rodan was brooding as he made his rounds on the massive tower of the castle. Two human children had come to oppose him and to save Morana.
"Just wait, Elian", he thought angrily. "You underestimate my power".
It made him furious that he had failed so miserably on the stone bridge. He had been so close to getting rid of the two boys by the surprise attack. He could hardly contain his anger and he tore at his hair. He had seen them on the bridge. He could even feel their fear. He almost succeeded in plunging them down into the deep. And then the river would have simply washed their lifeless bodies over the cliffs and into the sea. What a pleasant thought. They would soon learn the hard way what it means to mess with the mighty Rodan.
He could feel himself growing stronger from day to day. The spell of the old dragon king could not hold him much longer in the dark castle.
He had already subdued the ravens. After getting rid of those despicable mist fairies, he now controlled Morana's fog as well. To be sure, a few of them had managed to flee. But he no longer had anything to fear from them. The fight against Rodan had robbed them of their remaining strength. They would either die or forever be on the run. A pleasant shiver went through him as he thought back to his victory.
He continued in his attempts to break Asragur's spell, day in and day out. He'd had to practise patience for so many years now. But he had started making progress in the past few months.
Recently he was able to enter the waters of Morana with his spirit, bridling those waters and their inhabitants for his own sinister purposes. Actually everything was going according to plan. Except for the fact that he didn't know exactly when he would be able to break Asragur's spell.
He was lost in thought, busy making his gruesome plans, when he saw a big black raven out of the corner of his eye heading this way and landing on the tower wall.
"Greetings, oh mighty Rodan", the raven said and bowed its head in reverence.
"Look who's here, Agraq, my good-for-nothing scout", Rodan snarled at the raven. "I hope you have some good news for me this time!" Rodan looked inquiringly at those shrewd black eyes and ran his hand over his coat made of raven feathers, as a demonstration of his power over the ravens.
The gesture, however, left the feathered scout unperturbed.
"Well now, my lord", the raven cawed. "I definitely have news for you. Whether it's good for your mood, I dare not say".
Rodan took a step toward Agraq, who calmly remained perched on the tower wall.
"Speak, raven. What news do you have for me?", he asked Agraq impatiently.
"As you have already told me and my brothers, the newcomers are in fact human beings. From what I have observed, the boy with the shock of red hair is the Chosen One. There is no doubt about it, for I have seen that he has the scale of the dragon king with him", came the telltale croak of the raven.
Rodan's expression brightened a bit. At least now he knew which of the two boys had been chosen to thwart his plans. Impatiently he turned again to the raven.
"It might be of benefit to know which of the two children is supposed to keep the Well from drying up. But this information is irrelevant in the end, since both of them will die. What else have you got for me, Agraq? There must be more. Where exactly are they at this time?"
The raven calmly looked at his lord. He was not afraid of his magic, even though Rodan had already killed many of Agraq's companions. After all, Rodan would depend on the services of the ravens in the future, to learn what was going on in his kingdom. Agraq tilted his head to the side in thought and continued in his croaking voice."I was able to observe them for a while, master. I first spotted them in the southeast of Xuria's great forest and quietly followed them. The human children are accompanied by five elves. Lhasmo, one of the Elders, is leading the group. There can be no doubt that they are on their way to the Well, to fulfil Asragur's prophecy. This morning they set out for the sanctuary of the moor elves", Agraq continued.
"So, they're headed towards Lake Gozhal, the lake of eternal life", Rodan mused.
"Yes, my lord, that's the way I saw it", Agraq nodded in agreement. Rodan scrutinized his feathered servant. "So you know about the secret of that lake?", he asked.
"Certainly, master. According to the legend, the shells of Gozhal guard the secret of eternal life at the bottom of the lake. However, they open up only once every hundred years and reveal their treasure only to those who deemed worthy to receive and are unselfish", Agraq said and flapped his wings.
"It looks like that's why Lhasmo is leading his friends to that place", Rodan concluded and began to pace back and forth. He had to keep the shells from opening, at all costs, or at least make sure that Lhasmo would not succeed in getting his hands on the gifts of the shells.
Agraq cawed from behind him again.
"What else?" Impatiently, Rodan approached the raven.
"There is just one more thing, mighty Rodan of Xuria. Asragur's scale is losing its gloss. Meanwhile it's no more than a grey shadow of what it used to be. Soon you will be able to leave your prison and nothing more will stand in the way of your reign over Morana", the raven prophesied and flew away with a caw.
Rodan watched as Agraq disappeared into the depths of the dark forest that surrounded the Lake of Eldor. He was well aware of the significance of the treasure of the holy shells. The shiny pearls hidden deep within were able to heal the worst diseases and could even raise the dead. The moor elves of Xuria had helped themselves to the power of those pearls for centuries and seem to have obtained immortality.
Lhasmo was leading his small group to the holy lake for one reason only. The time had come for the shells to open once again. And they would dive into the cold waters of Gozhal to remove the precious pearls from their shells.
Rodan withdrew to the castle. He would know how to prevent Lhasmo and his companions from taking possession of such incredible power. The last thing he needed at the moment was immortal adversaries. He decided to upset their plans and hurried into the hall to find his incompetent servant Oldur.
"Oldur, where are you?" Rodan's voice echoed throughout the old walls. Hurried steps were heard from the dark corridor that surrounded the hall and the hunchbacked Nagrim stepped out of the shadow of a huge pillar.
"You called, my lord?", Oldur asked with a submissive tone of voice and bowed before Rodan.
"Indeed I did, dear fellow." Rodan seemed to be in the best of moods today. There was even a slight smile at the corners of this mouth. It had been many years since Oldur had seen his lord in such a good mood, and he peered sceptically at his unpredictable master. A smile on Rodan's face usually meant trouble. Oldur had made this painful experience all too often over the years in Rodan's service. His lord's high spirits today, however, seemed to be for another reason than the usual harassment his servant had to put up with.
"It won't be long", Rodan promised. "Asragur's spell will soon be broken and then I will be free to take what is rightfully mine. The Chosen One is in the company of a group of moor elves who are on their way to the Lake of Gozhal. The ravens have brought me these glad tidings. My spirit will depart for the holy lake of the elves and will pull them down into the dark waters forever."
"That's exceedingly good news, my lord", Oldur replied with a nervous smile on his face. "I am quite confident that your mighty spirit will defeat the Chosen One, along with those treasonous elves with him, and that you will soon break out of this dreary place."
"That's exactly what will happen, Oldur. But we must be prepared and leave nothing to chance. I can feel myself growing stronger from day to day."
Rodan paced nervously back and forth. He stopped abruptly, turned slowly to Oldur and approached him with an evil smile. "As far as I know, you are not bound to this place by Asragur's magic", he began. The Nagrim had an inkling that this fact was not going to be to his advantage.
"You will leave this place yet today, Oldur", Rodan decided.
"But my lord, where shall I go? I am good for nothing else except to be your true and faithful servant", the Nagrim whined.
"Shut up!", Rodan ordered, making it clear that he would not tolerate any backtalk from his servant. "You will do exactly as I order you to do. Otherwise you will find yourself no longer in my services", Rodan threatened and looked deeply into Oldur's eyes.
For better or worse, he submitted to the wishes of his lord. He knew that his pleading and begging would fall on deaf ears. And so he had no other choice than to give in to his fate. "Yes, my lord, just as my master wishes", he replied and humbly lowered his bald head.
"That wasn't so hard, was it?", Rodan asked with a smile of satisfaction. "You are to leave the castle this very night. You will follow the Andal River deep into the forests of Boscra. A raft is waiting for you northeast of here, where the mountains surrounding Eldor meet the River Andal. The moon over Morana will be full during the third night of your journey. You will then leave the river behind and make your way through the forest due north. Find the shadow wolves and deliver a message from me to their leader Tamir. If he still wishes to join forces with me, now is the time. However, it will be clear to him that he cannot refuse me", Rodan laughed grimly.
The ravens will keep me informed about each and every one of your steps, Oldur. You would do well not stray off the path I have set for you. When the time has come for me to leave this dungeon, I'll set out for Boscra as well to meet up with Tamir and his pack. That's all. Get a move on, what are you waiting for? Hurry up, it will soon be dark", Rodan ordered his servant, who bowed in submission and disappeared into the shadows of the old building.
Rodan walked over to the basin in the middle of the great hall. Almost lovingly, he ran his fingers along the edge of the cool crystal. A strong potion and powerful magic were necessary to enable him to sink his spirit into the basin and thus into the depths of the Lake of Gozhal. He looked from one magic potion to the other. He then chose a small bottle in which a thick green liquid was bubbling. Rodan opened the small bottle and emptied its contents into the crystal basin.
At once the water started to boil. Foul-smelling vapours crawled their way out over the rim of the basin. The reeking mist spread into the midst of the great hall and within seconds Rodan was shrouded by the toxic clouds. He imploringly stretched his hands upwards. He cried his magical words into the night and closed his eyes. He calmly inhaled the toxic vapours slowly into his lungs. With delight he felt that old familiar drowsiness that always came over him when the spirit detaches itself from the body. His entire body trembled and piercing pain seared his head and body.
Rodan began to shake. His hands clawed the rim of the basin. All at once he collapsed with a moan and slid to the floor, where he laid motionless. Like a silver snake of air, his evil spirit crept out of his mouth and nose. Slowly it wound its way up over the rim of the basin to silently unite with the toxic bubbling water.
Rodan's spirit was now free. He escaped his dark prison and set out for the holy Lake of Gozhal.