In the Shadows

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Chapter 15

Asmodeus hovered close to Iselora. His heart was still beating rapidly at what had just happened. He never expected her to be the one to initiate their first kiss. Had she grown to feel love for him or was she just comforting him? Either way, he was elated at being able to relay his love through the kiss. Before they had descended into the cave, Asmodeus had called Svila to join them. Cerberus stayed at the entrance as a guard.

The path was dark but glowing organisms lit their way as the group traveled deeper into the mountain side. As the leader, Iselora did not need the organisms. She had to fight from running towards her companion. The temperature was steadily dropping with each step, the sound of a water drip echoed from a distance. Anticipation grew in Iselora’s chest while apprehension grew in Asmodeus and Svila. Iselora could feel that they were nearing their destination but a hand gently pulled her back. Asmodeus kept his watch on the opening that was positioned several feet in front of them. Iselora studied him as he took the forward position as if to protect her from what was just beyond. Iselora delicately grabbed the back of Asmodeus’ jacket as her signal that she was ready. Asmodeus hesitated before stepping towards the ledge that led to the sleeping beast just below them.

The small distance felt as if it were the longest portion of the trip. The threshold of the sleeping chamber was guarded by a series of stalagmites and stalactites. Their dark figures casting menacing shadows from an unknown light source, as if they were foreboding their soon to be fate. There was just enough of a gap for Asmodeus to squeeze through. Above them, they could see the blinding light of the sun. They were in the throat of a possibly extinct volcano. Below them, curled on the top of the volcano’s plug a dark red form slumbered peacefully. A layer of ash had settled along its surface giving it a camouflaged presence. Its steady breathing could barely be heard but Iselora felt its breath fill her lungs and felt its gentle exhale. Asmodeus scooped Iselora into his arms as he leapt down to the dusty floor. Swirls of disturbed ash swirled around the movements of his feet and body. Svila positioned a watchful eye on the ledge they had just been standing.

Iselora stayed in Asmodeus’ arms, staring at the magnificent beast before her, taking in its beauty. The dragon looked like something from ancient stories. Its gemlike scales are such a deep red that the dragon seems to have been dipped in blood. The ash did little to matte the slight gleam that shone off of it. Its elegant neck leads to a body that is long and lean, but muscles are still visible against the slender frame. A graceful tail curls inwards protecting a clutch of eggs with similar scales as their mother. This dragon has an intimidating mouth, more narrow than its head. There were no has no visible ears, just two curled horns extending up from its forehead. Its muscular limbs were tucked to a fashion that supported the massive head. Each limb led to imposing feet with three splayed digits on each. Curved talons sprouted from each toe, ending like giant scythes. Massive wings draped in a relaxed sheet starting from just below its shoulders and stretching to just past the base of its tail. The wings are almost demonic, the skin of the wings seems to glow as if made from fire itself. A row of small spikes runs from the top of its head to the tip of its tail. This dragon was meant to be the companion of royalty, worthy of only the best warriors and rulers.

Iselora motioned to be set down. Her tunneling vision showed only the dragon that laid before her. Her body began moving on instinct, she desired to feel the scales. To see what colored eyes await her. Their steady breathing never faltered as Iselora approached. Iselora could feel her heart pounding in her chest, but she did not feel afraid. She felt as if her soul were about to be completed. Iselora reached her hand out and placed it in between the dragon’s nostrils. As soon as her skin met made contact with the scales an electric shock ran through her body. Iselora yelped in pain as she stumbled back. A deep exhale swirled air and ash all around Iselora, warming her skin and briefly blackening her vision. Iselora froze before slowly looking up. The dragon blinked a few times before shaking its head. As she sat up on her hind haunches, the dragon took her time in looking around as if she were just woken from a small nap. Iselora gasped at the breathtakingly elegant creature in front of her. Its wide eyes flashed to Iselora as if she had not realized that Iselora was standing there. Its penetrating eyes were reminiscent of obsidian.

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