In the Shadows

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Chapter 17

The intensity of the white light hurt Iselora’s eyes, and suddenly she found herself in the white room once again, except this time the mirror was missing. Iselora took a moment to examine the room, taking in the sparse details. This is when she noticed a door on the far side of the room from where she stood. It was easy to miss due to it almost blending into the wall, but it was there. Iselora found herself staring at the door, losing herself in its presence. She felt calm, as if she had been there for her whole life. A roar interrupted Iselora’s daydream. She jerked her head to the side, trying to comprehend where the roar had come from. Another roar ripped through the air as Iselora realized that it was coming from the other side of the door.

Iselora hesitated, had the dragon followed her into her subconscious? That would be impossible...right? Iselora took several deep breaths as she made her way towards the door. All the while the roaring outside grew desperate and pained. Iselora gripped the handle, fear beginning to take over her body, the urge to flee probing the back of her mind.

One…

Two…

Three…

With a final breath in, Iselora ripped open the door, terrified of the scene that waited on the other side. The scenery that stretched before her seemed to be sealed in a brilliant white stone. The towering trees were bare of any foliage. The landscape was flat and smooth, not a blemish of growth to be seen beyond the neatly rowed trees. The roaring had not ceased in tearing through Iselora’s heart. Iselora began running towards the desperate sound, understanding that the fear she had begun feeling was that of her companion’s. Iselora pushed her body faster, trees blurring in her peripheral as her speed increased. In the distance a spot of red appeared. Iselora ran as hard as she could, her body straining to keep up with the speed she was demanding. The spot on the horizon grew and movement could now be seen. The color was a stark contrast to the brilliant white of the horizon. Iselora felt the distance took forever to close. It was not until. Her companion was struggling against something but Iselora could not see what it was.

Iselora could feel her body starting to slow, her ribs ached for more oxygen, her knees turning to rubber. Iselora kept trying to tell herself that she was almost there, but in truth she did not know this to be true. Another strained cry ripped through the air. Iselora forced her body into sprinting faster, ignoring the pain. A few hundred yards later Iselora could see chains holding her dragon to the ground. The manacles were attached to as many vantage points as they could. Each of her legs carried cuffs at the ankles, her hind quarters were wrapped in heavy iron chains. Her wings were fastened to her body by a large brace that wrapped around the midsection of her body. A series of collars and chains decorated her neck, preventing the dragon from being able to lift her head more than a few feet from the ground. An iron muzzle fashioned itself over the dragon’s mouth with only enough space for her to cry out. Iselora’s heart broke at the sight, what had caused her companion to be treated in such a barbaric way? Iselora raced forward, intent on setting the dragon free.

As Iselora approached, the dragon strained to twist her head enough to try and see who was approaching. A snarl erupted from her when she failed. Iselora slowed her approach, deciding to face the dragon face to face before attempting to free her. Iselora could see the fear and anger in the dragon’s eyes. They skeptically watched Iselora as she came into view. The scent was pleasant but years of abuse had trained the dragon’s heart to be wary of those who approached her, but there was something about the girl who approached her now that caused hesitation.

Iselora approached the muzzle with her hands raised, palms facing forward. She spoke in soft tones, trying not to frighten the dragon further. The dragon’s body language was tense, Iselora could see that she was attempting to calculate her chances of escape. The muzzle was large and bulky, the only way for Iselora to be able to remove it would be to reach inside and unclasp the locking mechanism. Before Iselora could do that she needed the dragon’s trust.

“ My name is Iselora Cyrras, I think I am supposed to be your companion.... I want to free you. I promise I will not hurt you.” Iselora had reached the muzzle, the metal was cold to the touch. The dragon jerked away, only to be restrained in her movement. Iselora backed away a few feet, showing the dragon that she was not a threat. A whimper escaped the dragon at the failed attempt at freedom, She had heard the girl offered freedom, but that promise is what had landed her in the chains. The girl had claimed to be her intended companion, her scent was familiar, but fear still drove her motives. Her companion’s soul was dead, she had felt it die years before. Iselora attempted to gain the dragon’s trust once more, this time getting as far as to graze the dragon’s scales before the contact was pulled away. The brief contact sent shivers down both of their spines. It was then that the dragon fully realized that what the girl had said was true. This girl named Iselora was her intended companion, but her soul was still alive. Confusion took over the dragon’s mind as she began contemplating the possibilities.

Iselora stared at the wide eyed dragon as she stared back. She could see that the dragon’s emotions were transitioning from one to the next. Before hesitating further Iselora took this opportunity to quickly reach in the muzzle and unclasp the locking mechanism. The binding loosened and fell away, but the dragon did not move. Iselora took this time to examine the rest of the chains and bindings that trapped the dragon. There were no locks on the cuffs, they appeared to be sealed with heavy magic. Iselora felt defeat creep into her heart, all she was able to manage was freeing her companion’s mouth. Without any way to break the spell, she was no better off than before.

Iselora returned to face the dragon. It’s eyes still clouded in the mix of emotions as before. Iselora felt an instinct pulling at her heart, it was calling for her to climb.

Iselora allowed her body to follow its instinct. Iselora walked over to the still dazed dragon and began climbing. There was no movement at the contact their bodies made. Iselora felt her body shivering with hard tingles at every movement. Her goal was the top of the dragon’s skull. Her instinct driving her body forward to that specific spot. Iselora knelt just above the center of the dragon’s forehead. Adrenaline rushed through her body, terror and exhilaration surging in her chest. Iselora laid her hands gently on the scales as she bent her head forward. The moment her forehead met with her companion’s there was a sudden release of pressure and movement below her. Iselora sat up quickly, realizing she had just made a deadly mistake.

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