The forest was silent as the group set out. The silence was unnerving, as the sun was just just peeking over the eastern mountains. The sounds of birds and insects should have been prevalent. Shaunna shook her head, she understood what the silence meant. She’d only ever felt that level of fear in the presence of the great black dragon. The fact that she’d felt it through the Nature Meld only magnified her sense of foreboding. She was dreading facing the dragon again. Every time she’d faced off against the beast, the group had only escaped by providence.Shaking her head at the thought, she double checked her gear, making sure that she had everything.
“Kitten, which direction is the workshop from here?”
“Approximately that way,” she pointed in a southerly direction.
Shaunna nodded, “I was afraid of that. That is the direction that I felt her go this morning.”
“Are you sure that’s where she was going?” Hope asked.
Shaunna smiled sadly, “No, I’m not sure. Fortune favors the prepared. So, I have asked our two best people against possible altercation with the mother dragon to join us,” she gestured to Hope and Tarea.
Hope grimaced, and Tarea shrugged disinterest.
Narissa nodded before shifting into her tiger form.
A cool breeze blew through the forest as the group left the clearing, entering the forest. The sounds of the wild life returning, sent since the danger had passed, put their minds at a cautious ease. They were fairly certain that before the day was over they would be facing the Mother Dragon once again.
Narissa led the party, her nose to the ground as if she were tracking some sort of prey. The effect was belied by the fact that her head was not moving. Shaunna was fairly certain that her friend’s facade was due to the anxiety the large cat was feeling about returning to her old home.
They traveled in silence for most of the morning; the sounds of nature think in their ears. The shadows made it difficult to determine what time of day it was when they finally reached the old workshop. Nerves were on edge. None of them remembered when the chirping of the birds and insects stopped, but they all noticed now as they stood outside the Hallway in deafening silence.
Narissa shifted to her smaller form. “There are never any nature sounds here,” She didn’t know why she said it. Shrugging awkwardly, she shifted back to the tiger.
Narissa led them to a hole in the row of trees. It was a small opening, but it was large enough for her to squeeze through if she crouched. The others followed her into the twilight lighting of the interior.
A single beam of light illuminated a small pedestal in the middle of the spacious room. Sparkling in the light stood the forge.
Tarea stepped forward. “Well, that is obviously a trap,” She turned briefly. “I’ll get it.”
Golden skin glowing dimly in the darkness, Tarea strode purposefully over and picked up the small device. Pausing a moment, she peered into the darkness surrounding her, waiting for an attack that never came,
“Well, that was disappointing,” Tarea hurried back to the others. “Let’s get back.”
They winced as their eyes found the need to readjust to the brighter light outside of the hallway. As soon as their vision cleared, they all noticed the enormous black reptile staring at them.
Silax’s sickly sweet voice slid through their minds, “You are all so predictable. The master’s said you would be here.” They could almost hear the smile in her voice.
Tarea stepped forward as a wide column of flame spewed forth from the dragon’s maw.The fire hit her directly, bouncing off some sort of barrier behind her. Trees turned to charcoal in an instant. The walls of the hallway burned brightly, illuminating the dim light under the canopy. Tarea’s golden skin appeared a bit less shiny than it had before.
“Hmm… That answers that question,” Tarea looked directly at the dragon. “Apparently demon flames burn hotter than dragon flames.” As she spoke, here hair started to flutter in a non-existent breeze. Electricity arced between the golden strand as they moved. In less than a moment, the power moved up her arms. “My turn!” Lightning shot from Tarea’s outstretched hands, striking the Mother Dragon in the chest. Dull grey scales littered the ground underneath the black behemoth as they were turned to stone, leaving a raw, unarmoured patch in their wake.
Before scales had finished falling, two crystal swards flew past their wielder, dropping a small crystal cylinder into her hands. Closing her hand around the smooth object, white lightning erupted from both ends wrapping around her hand to form the jagged electrical sword. Thus armed, Tarea followed her Crystal Blades into battle.
Throwing Maxx into the air, Hope drew his golden sword and charged in behind Tarea. He swung his sword in a wide arc, striking the Silax in the same leg he had last time. The sword cut through her flesh as if it were paper, lodging itself in the bone.
Silax screamed in agony as the pain of her wounds caused her to stumble.
Unable to pull the sword from the dragon’s leg, Hope found himself unarmed. Instead of hopelessness however, a crimson fury boiled up inside of him. “I won’t let you hurt anyone ever again,” His voice strained under the force of his yell.
Grabbing Silax by the leg, a crimson light flowed from Hopes hands infusing the dragon. The Mother Dragon, The Scourge of the House Elloy, screamed ever louder as the light covered her. The pitiful screams faded as the crimson light faded to black, becoming indistinguishable from the flesh of the great beast. Hope felt the last few beats of the massive heart, as the Silax died,
Ularen Hope stood unsteadily next to the corpse of the dead dragon. “He was right.” Without another word, Hope fell to the ground, his shadow dancing in the light of the burning trees.
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