In the Shadows

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Chapter 18

Iselora shot up, losing her balance as the dragon below her began standing up. Iselora tumbled backwards, rolling head over heels past the dragon’s roaring mouth. Iselora landed hard on her back, knocking all the air from her lungs. Her eyes watered from the pain. The roaring of the dragon was drowned by the ringing in her ears. As Iselora laid gasping for air she felt something come to rest around her body. Iselora looked around her. The dragon had curled its body protectively around Iselora. She could not believe her eyes, she thought that she was surely going to die after her stupidity. A voice sounded in her head, the voice was not hers. It was mellifluous, covering Iselora in an ecstasy she had not felt before. It was not sexual, but an ecstasy soaked in happiness. Iselora soaked up every syllable that was spoken, not wanting it to stop talking.

“Iselora Cyrras. I am Calnonern Valleh. It seems that we have been destined as companions.” Calnonern paused for a thought. Iselora waited patiently. “If this is the path you desire, I will accept your companionship with a condition. You must prove yourself worthy to stand and fight by my side. If you do, I will be as loyal as any knight of King Arthur’s table”. Calnonern did not take her eyes off of the small body that took labored breaths. She did not admit that she was already impressed by the spirit the girl contained. It was obvious she was destined for greatness, but would this greatness be victory or chaos? Calnonern wanted her companion to be victorious in her conquest but she could not watch another companion drive herself into madness. Athena was cruel in her decision of sparing Calnonern’s life when her previous companion died.

Iselora lay there, allowing her breathing to steady, taking comfort in the closeness of her companion. After a few moments, Iselora opened her eyes. Her chest still hurt from the physical exertion and trauma, but Iselora wanted nothing more than to stand before her companion and accept her into her life. Iselora struggled to stand, using Calnonern’s body for support. “Calnonern Valleh. I accept you as my companion, I will make myself worthy to be by your side. I look forward to our journey together.” Iselora placed her hand on the center of Calnonern’s snout. “Iselora, we must complete the companion bonding, please climb onto my shoulders and hold onto whatever you can. If you fail, the bond will be broken and our souls will be condemned to Hades’ and Persephone’s judgment”. Calnonern’s voice was solemn at the thought. She had met Hades once before, it was not a pleasant experience. He smelled of death and blood.

Iselora took her time in climbing into position. Her ribs ached at the exertion, pleading for her to stop. Iselora straddled the base of Calnonern’s neck, locking her knees against the slick scales. Iselora had no idea what she was doing. She barely knew how to ride a horse and this was on a whole different level. Calnonern raised her head, peering into the white sky, spying for a vantage point. “We will have to break through your subconscious. It will not be easy, you have built a sturdy barrier. Are you ready?”

Iselora nodded her head before whispering a tense ‘yes’. In truth she was terrified. She did not know what to expect but it seemed that Calnonern did. Iselora took a deep breath and put all of her trust in Calnonern’s abilities. Calnonern took in a deep breath, allowing a magnificent roar to rip through the air. It was so loud that Iselora forgot about holding on as she reached to cover her ears. It was then that Calnonern launched herself into the air, spreading her massive wings at just above the tree line. Iselora almost tumbled backwards from the force. In a panic, Iselora scrambled to grab hold of something. Catching onto one of the horns just before her body was left in mid air. Iselora clung for dear life. A scream erupting from her chest. The scream turned into elation as she found herself secured into her position, this was much better than riding a horse, the power she felt was unbelievable.

The world below was fading fast, Calnonern was over fifty feet in length when fully stretched out, her wings spanning over twice that. Every muscle able to send her hundreds of feet into the air in one down beat. She had forgotten about her companion clinging onto her for dear life. All she wanted was to feel the air flowing across her body, the freedom that her wings provided. She had lost count of how many years it had been since she was able to fly. The border was approaching fast, Calnonern knew she was going to need more speed if she was going to break through. As she began increasing speed, she heard a faint laughter being swept away by the wind. Calnonern’s determination increased at her remembrance of her companion’s presence. The mind link had not been solidified, another reason she needed to complete the connection. With one more beat of her wings, Calnonern collided with the shell of Iselora’s subconscious.

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