The dragon seemed pleased as it nodded slightly, “Oh how delightful of you to remember my name. I’ve been wondering how you’ve coped with the death of your father, how has that been going for you?”
Astaroth’s eyes glittered with fury and she took a step back, “You... how dare you mention him?”
“Not like he cared for you that much, darling.” He taunted, leaning closer to him. “And oh, you’ve brought a friend...? Or a prisoner of sorts.”
“Shut up,” she howled, letting the chains clatter to the ground. Cielast stayed silent, unable to move.
“Now both of your parents are gone... so sad. How about Azure? Is he dead yet?”
“I’m going to tear you limb from limb,” Astaroth roared and lunged forwards without hesitation, her razor-like claws reaching for Valkryne’s throat.
He slipped to the side with ease, letting her tire herself out. A crooked smile grew across his face and he sneered, “You’ve sure grown, but your skills haven’t improved a bit. That fierce temper of yours isn’t helping either.”
Valkryne picked her up by her throat and she hissed, clawing at his chest. Her claws barely brushed against him and she narrowed her eyes.
“Let me down,” Astaroth snapped, whacking his ankle with her tail fiercely.
“Nah,” he shrugged and wrapped his talons around her neck tighter, enough to draw blood. The red liquid slowly dripped down her scales, and Cielast felt her stomach lurch.
Cielast fought herself, thinking that it’d be bad to interfere. Her heart was racing and it felt like a frog was in her throat. Memories of years ago played with her head, she remembered everything so vividly. The whisper under Astaroth’s breath, the clatter of metal keys and the old sense of freedom.
She braced herself, shutting her eyes to avoid the sight of blood. “… Stop.”
Valkryne perked his head up, confusion glittering in his cat-like eyes. He growled, “What?”
“She doesn’t deserve to be killed, you’ve done enough.” Cielast’s voice boomed. “You want to kill Azure, right? You’re wasting time with her.”
Astaroth fought against the bigger dragon’s strength and Valkryne looked down at her, a large grin growing across his face. “Ah, clever little…”
“Cielast,” she finished and glanced down at the shackles around her wrists. “She let me escape Azure’s cell once, so can we spare her? As in, locking her up and leaving her here.”
“So you’re Azure’s little entertainment dragon? I see, I’ll ask questions later…” Valkryne looked his prisoner up and down with a thoughtful yet devious nod. He agreed, “All right, but you are going to take me to Azure.”
“I will,” the dragon promised, struggling to keep a brave tone. “I’ve got something against him too.”
Astaroth didn’t look too relieved, still snapping her jaws at her captor. She threw her talons forward with a scowl. “V-Valkryne, you’re going to pay.”
Cielast frowned and held her talons up for Valkryne to take the shackles off. He carefully inserted his hook-like claw into the lock, twisting it back and forth until it fell off and she was free.
“Thank you,” she smiled slightly and picked the chains up off of the ground, handing them to him.
Valkryne took a glance at Astaroth and shrugged as she fell to the ground, landing in the soft green grass below the forest’s trees. He smirked, then took another look at the shackles in his claws.
“I must say, Cielast,” he commenced. “This was a good idea, even for a dragon as naïve as you seem to be. Being captured by the likes of Azure that many times has proven it, but alas, you’ve surprised me.”
She nodded slowly and uttered, “T-thanks.”
He swiveled around to face the unconscious dragon with a devious grin and spewed golden flames onto the chains which made them glow with a luminescent orange. A trail of gray smoke spiraled into the air, and the sight made Cielast’s stomach lurch. She thought to herself, he’s like Castien.
“I-is that necessary?” she mumbled nervously, her voice wavering. “To make the chains that hot.”
“For my standards, yes.” Valkryne responded, crouching next to Astaroth. He pressed the metal against her snout which made her twitch, and charred her scales. They faded from a deep blue to an ashy black in only a few seconds. He continued to wrap them around her, seemingly ignoring the awful stench of burning scales.
Cielast winced, unable to look at the sight without gagging. I’m so sorry, Astaroth. I didn’t know it’d end up like this.
He began to bind her wrists next, and the pain made Astaroth jolt back to life with a dreaded roar. The horrific sound echoed through the gargantuan trees, echoing off of their trunks. She thrashed, muttering something that was unidentifiable due to not being able to open her mouth. She narrowed her eyes sharply, tears welling up in her eyes from the searing pain. It felt so hot that it seemed cold, almost as if the metal was snow.
Astaroth managed to claw at Valkryne’s ankle, and beads of crimson red blood began to leak from his scales. He grunted and lit the shackles with the same fiery color, then clamped them around her wrists. She didn’t bother to struggle, and instead scowled at him and narrowed her dark eyes.
Cielast shifted her shoulders uncomfortably and looked at the ground, guilt pulling at her heart. Standing still, she witnessed Valkryne take a step back to look at his prisoner, and clapped his claws together.
“Ah, there we go.” He glanced at Cielast in a pleased manner. “Now, in what direction is Azure’s kingdom?”
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