One word came to Cielast’s mind when she awoke early in the morning: ‘cold.’ Everything felt peaceful for the first few moments that she was awake, then it hit her: the lava, the little eyes that peered up at her and the smirk across Azure’s face when he saw what he had done.
The thoughts made her stomach churn and she wanted to go back to sleep again where her dreams were better than her reality, but she knew that it’d all get worse when she’d wake up again. Her heart drummed furiously in her chest and she clawed at the floor longingly, wishing for Yuko to return.
She bared her fangs and growled upon hearing someone approach her, perking her head up. Cielast’s tail swished against the floor impatiently as a violet-eyed dragon came into sight.
“Rise and shine. Are you ready to complete a task for me?” it sneered, easily recognizable as Azure’s voice. He didn’t wait for a response, and a sly, amused grin snaked across his mouth. “Your response doesn’t matter to me. What does matter is that you don’t fail... you already know the consequences, it’d be a shame to lose the only thing you have left.”
Cielast whimpered, her claws being snagged in the small cracks in the floor. She groggily stood up with a menacing hiss, flashing blinding white razor-like fangs.
“You won’t lay a claw on him,” she snapped daringly as her eyes flared with fury.
“Don’t bet on that,” her enemy continued to smirk and turned towards the hallway. “Astaroth, come here.”
A navy blue figure appeared from the citadel, talons skidding across the stone as she approached him. Astaroth nodded, “Yes?”
“Today I have something big planned for you,” a spark of amusement flashed through his eyes. “You will accompany Cielast here on her journey to retrieve the Deathseeker for me.”
“Oh,” she uttered under her breath and gave the baby blue dragon a sorrowful and pity-filled glance. “All right.”
“You’ve hurt me enough,” Cielast whimpered in a half-pleading voice, knowing that it was no use.
“Hurt enough?” He laughed to himself and tapped his claws against each other in a pleased manner. “Your pain is of no importance to me, dear Cielast. You exist to entertain and therefore you will.”
Tears welled in her eyes and she stared at the floor, memories whipping across her mind. Astaroth shook her head sorely and looked up at the king with a slow, thoughtful nod.
“Don’t fail me, Astaroth.” He gritted his fangs and leaned down to pick up a rust-colored rat. Azure playfully tossed it between his talons before crushing its skull in his claws, “You’d regret it.”
“I won’t,” she half-smiled and approached Cielast’s cell. Her gaze landed on the baby blue dragon who was shivering with fear and anger, baring her fangs.
“A-Astaroth, you...” Cielast gulped and slithered up to the bars with a frown. I guess saving me once was too much of a risk... I’ll still try.
Astaroth opened the cell, the door slowly opening with a creak. Cielast tumbled out from her perch on the bars and stood up, glaring at Azure, but decided not to say anything. Her claws were then bound with steel chains and she was led down the prison hallway.
A few prisoners regarded her with merciful looks while the others seemed relieved that it wasn’t them. Cielast’s heart raced in her chest as Astaroth pulled her out of the building and marched out to the kingdom gates.
Hydrax stumbled from the citadel and greeted Astaroth with a frown, “Azure sent you to complete that task?”
“Uh huh,” she snorted without taking a glance at him, tugging at Cielast’s chains. “As he said, you couldn’t even lead a parade.”
Hydrax grumbled to himself with an annoyed expression on his face, a forked-tongue slipping in and out of his mouth. “You aren’t worthy of such a mission.”
“Stop taunting me,” she growled and kept marching, claws gripping the grass beneath her claws. Cielast remarked, she has a short temper.
“I hate you,” he spat and swiveled around to face the citadel again. “‘Couldn’t even lead a parade,’ bah, stupid serpent...”
Astaroth smirked to herself hoisted Cielast over the gates, beginning her journey.
“Astaroth,” she piped up from a few minutes of silence. “Why are you doing this to begin with?”
“I’m not going to fail Azure again,” Astaroth growled, a spark of determination in her eyes. “I’ve already let you escape once, and now that I don’t have someone to blame it on, I’d die.”
“Blame it on?” Cielast questioned. “You got caught?”
“Mhm, I blamed it on Castien and Azure decided to believe me... As I’ve said, I’m not going to let you go this time. You won’t be the reason for my suffering.”
“Castien?” Cielast’s eyes widened as she remembered the scarlet-colored dragon who Flarius had trapped.
Astaroth whipped her head to see Cielast and narrowed her eyes, “Yes... now stop with the questions, you’re not going to get away this time.”
Cielast mumbled to herself and looked at the forest longingly, “Can I at least say good-...”
“Shut up,” her captor howled. “You’re just a mere pawn in Azure’s game, otherwise you mean nothing.”
Cielast could feel her captor’s talons shaking as they passed the tall pine trees around them. She shut her eyes, furling her wings closer to her sides. I wish Yuko was here, she thought to herself, fighting back tears. I killed my own son.
“Astaroth,” Cielast said, receiving a glare from the dragon. “Do you know where we’re going?”
“No,” she stammered, wrinkling her snout. “It doesn’t matter, I’ll find it.”
The light blue dragon groaned from the tight grip of the shackles on her wrists, feeling the cold touch of metal sting her scales. Astaroth tugged at the chains, forcing her to walk faster.
Dark storm clouds whirled and twisted from above and the rumbling of thunder erupted across the gray sky. Golden bolts of lightning flashed against the stone colors, illuminating the skies.
Maybe she’ll lash out at me if I keep talking, allowing me some way to escape, Cielast wondered and gave the ocean-colored dragon a glance. She won’t let me escape that easily… right?
The fresh smell of pine filled her nostrils, reminding her of when she was young. Memories zipped through her head: the faint sight of blue scales, Paintra’s cave, and the brick walls of Flarius’ kingdom.
As the sky darkened to a deep midnight black, the air got more frigid. Cielast’s scales weren’t enough to keep her warm, and she began to shiver.
“It’s so cold,” complained Cielast, taunting the other dragon.
“I told you to be quiet,” Astaroth hissed through clenched teeth. “You won’t get my sympathy.” “It’s so cold,” complained Cielast, taunting the other dragon.
“I told you to be quiet,” Astaroth hissed through clenched teeth. “You won’t get my sympathy.”
Suddenly, a dark shadow was casted over the two and a black figure loomed from above. It left an unwelcome aura that spread through the trees, and owls began to sing.
Cielast glanced up as chills raced up her spine. The figure was faintly illuminated by the silver glow of the moon, dark scales slicing through the wind. It seemed to pass them, which was relieving until they saw it turn back and begin to descend.
Who is that? The light blue dragon questioned herself internally as she squinted into the darkness. The dragon then landed silently, furling its wings.
“Ah, well if it isn’t two lone adventurers,” purred the dragon in two nearly synchronized voices, which were both deep and eerily croaky. “What a find.”
Both Cielast and Astaroth struggled to remain hidden under the coat of night. The prisoner closed her eyes, unable to recognize the unknown intruder.
It laughed sinisterly and approached them, twigs crackling beneath its claws. Forest critters scattered when it passed, leaving behind the stench of death in its wake.
The beautiful violet and aquamarine of flowers wilted into deep ashy gray and things seemed to get darker.
Astaroth gritted her fangs and glared back at the dragon defensively. She barked, “Who are you?”
A toothy grin formed across the dragon’s lips as he slid forward, tapping his claws together. “Ah, if it isn’t Waves’ little daughter?”
The navy blue dragon seemed to pause in her tracks, eyes wide with fear. She mumbled breathlessly, her voice wavering with a sudden spike of anger. “... Valkryne.”