I shrug on my clothes and go swiftly wandering. I cut across the valley with the trickling creek and sparse wild flowers. After having the stone Dragons watch me pass, I enter the cave Althor had disappeared into with Roi, the prisoner.
I find myself eagerly searching for a distraction, almost compelled to discover some answers.
Not only that, but there was a distinct tingle along my arm where Sylvan had grasped it.
It shocked me to my core. Especially when I remembered my mother, Madeline, telling me how her skin tingled with her mate’s touch.
Sylvan had unexpectedly made my whole body feel consumed with sparks.
I was trying to ignore such a feeling. It made me nervous. How quickly I had attacked Thaddeus and Sylvan also made me edgy.
I needed to get out of here and soon. I doubted the twins would continue to be accommodating hosts if I dared to encroach on their territory any longer. However, I had too many questions unanswered about the mysteries of this canyon.
For now, I was following my feet, hoping for some answers. I felt my Rogue instincts made me curious and encouraged me to find new territory, new passages, new knowledge.
So, I’m silently making my way towards the mind of the prisoner, Roi.
The dark cave I enter holds little light but for a few candles. It doesn’t matter, though, because my eyes were sensitive to detail, so I could see just fine.
I do not prod Roi, but I know he will be incarcerated somewhere within these walls.
“Althor!” I call out, “I’m here to help you search the mind of the priso–” I jerk to a stop when I hear quick fluttering and then sharp pain in my shoulder as Shai flits down and grips my skin, piercing it with her feet.
What do you want? I snap at her.
Stay out, Shai warns me and flies off again, acting erratically as far as I was concerned.
To your left, princess, Althor connects with me, a friendly tone about him.
Confident I can work this out on my own, I quicken my pace and turn to the left as he has instructed.
I keep Shai’s words in the back of my head though, as a precaution to what I was heading into.
I find a more lit cave with torches instead of just candles. Down here I wander, until I round a bend and find a cage dangling from the cave ceiling – with Roi trapped inside.
I smell blood and see sweat dripping down from Roi’s iron, rusted cage. He is trapped inside with torn clothes and stab wounds. Althor is human and above his leather pants, is a bare scared chest I had often wondered about.
“I’m here to help you,” I say to Althor, “I know I refused you back home, but I was having a bad time that day. I want to help my father’s keep our alliance strong. So, I will gladly help. You need me to penetrate the prisoner’s mind?” I ask Althor, who was sharpening a sword.
“Good girl, I’m glad you’ve changed your mind,” he growls in approval and he chucks his sword back into the pile of weapons he has at his feet, “Do you think you can crack his mind?”
“I’ll try,” I lie, deciding not to give away my success too soon, “Is there something you want me to look for in particular? A secret? A location? A person?” I ask Althor, as professionally as possible.
“I think this is as many words I’ve ever heard you speak all at once, Luvenia,” Althor chuckles to himself, “I’m simply looking for our lost mage, Shai. She’s been missing for a couple of years now. She was like my sister-by-mate. Zayda was a prophetic goddess with renown abilities. She died in child birth while giving life to Thad and Sylvan. Shai was invaluable just like our sorely-missed Zayda. She possessed Dragon blood. She was a powerful half-blood, known as an immortal mage with the ability to turn living things to stone –”
“So if Shai is a mage. Who is this boy in relation to her...?” I ask, extremely curious now.
“Just a travelling spell-caster who fancied her. However, I believe she cast a spell onto his mind to make it impenetrable. You have a go,” Althor nods towards Roi, who is looking at me with pleading eyes.
I pretend to concentrate, by closing my eyes and waiting a full minute.
After this has passed, I’ve thought of my next step. I look towards Althor and pretend to look like I’ve been unsuccessful so far by furrowing my eyebrows.
“I need time to concentrate my powers, I believe I can break his mind, but I need to be alone,” I say this unblinkingly towards the hopeful Dragon Lord.
“Of course, Luvenia,” Althor walks towards me to pat me on the shoulder and I swivel out of reach just in time.
“I’m not keen on touch,” I murmur, avoiding his gaze.
Especially after Sylvan’s touch.
“Rogue’s are always odd creatures...” Althor shrugs and heads off confidently that I am tightly within his control. No doubt he considered me young, naïve and eager to please my parents by helping him.
Too bad my palms weren’t so confident, they were sweating already and feeling tingly with adrenaline.
Althor wouldn’t like what I was planning to do next.
He leaves me alone with Roi and a few moments pass before Shai comes flying back to land on my shoulder.
Tell me now, whether or not to save this boy, Shai? Should I save Roi and then get the hell out of here? This place doesn’t smell good. A bad past lingers in the air, I tell the blue bird, and this time she does not leave my shoulder.
She does not answer but I know she has agreed. Her mind radiates both shock and relief.
But she was still tense.
She waits patiently, her eyes focused on Roi.
I find the key to the cage within reach, by the weapons pile. I come over and unlock the floor so that Roi can jump right out from the hanging iron bars.
Roi drops to his knees, tearing up in relief. I lend him some of my fire so the ropes burn off from his ankles and wrists.
“Stop crying and get up,” I murmur, “Do you want to get out of here or what? Because I sure as hell can’t stay around.”
Roi gets to his feet, his eyes focusing on the bird on my shoulder.
“Yes, your girlfriend is a bird,” I acknowledge the look in his eye.
Except I read him wrong.
“I would know, half-blood,” Roi speaks with a dry, cracked, raspy throat, “I did that to her, to keep her safe. We are all dead if you do not fly us away. You can transform?” he asks me, ”Please say you can, or we are all doomed.”
“Yes, I can,” I nod, “We’re not going through the way I came in, I’ll find us another way out. You have to follow me.”
Roi nods and stumbles along with me, while Shai leans into my neck, avoiding Roi.
She was completely overwhelmed.
“I want to know what’s happened to this Horde,” I say to the tortured human, “After I’ve saved you. Deal? Can you walk?”
“I will make myself walk. I’ll tell you everything you need to know if you can get me out of here,” Roi’s hand brushes my shoulder and I’m about to jerk away, except Shai helps me out by pecking his hand as he reaches over.
“Hey!” he scolds her, “... little Shai bird... I’m sorry, tiny love.”
Shai flits to my other shoulder, out of Roi’s reach. I try not to laugh. Obviously Shai had been relieved to find Roi, but her anger was now replacing her relief.
Somehow, he had turned her into a bird and I’m pretty sure that’s why she was angry.
The rest of the walk through the caves, we travel in silence. Every moment that passes is putting our plan at risk of failure. We needed to start flying and soon.
Eventually we come to a small narrow passage that has a crack in the rock, letting light in. It’s a tiny ledge.
“We have to go, now,” I whisper to both Roi and Shai, “We don’t have time to find another opening. Roi, you take my clothes.”
“The coast is clear, let’s do it,” Roi sounds exhausted but determined.
I’d definitely need him to stay determined so he could willingly and successfully get onto my back while I was in the air.
Shai, you alright to fly home? We’re heading to the forest. I double check with her.
I’ll see you there, red cheeks, she whispers to me, still flustered as she jumps off my shoulder. She falters in her flight before gaining an updraft, being swiftly blown upwards as she heads for home.
At least the wind would be with us.
I mist into my Dragon, my leather clothes floating to the tiny ledge. I manage to mist just before the ledge so I keep my tail balanced out for Roi to climb over.
Quickly, I smell danger, I snap at Roi, my instincts sending shivers down my tail and through my wings.
I hear a loud rumble from inside the cave, behind where we just exited as Roi carefully balances on my tail before collapsing on my back.
Hold on! I tell Roi, but when I get no response and I feel no grip...
I sigh. Roi has passed out!
Damn it! I yell at him in his mind, urging him to wake up, Althor knows. Wake up. Sleep later!
Nothing I say awakens him.
Growling to myself, I start flying low over the creek, considering my head start with a limp body on my back.
Althor had no idea I could fly.
I was safe until he realised I was now the small black unknown Dragon in his territory.
What games are you playing at, girl? Althor penetrates my mind, aggressive tones radiating out of him in waves.
I do not respond and I block him out.
Hael, Lochness! I call out to my fathers as panic sets in, I’m sorry. I stuffed up. I’m coming home. The alliance may be broken. I’ll be home soon. If I make it back alive.
I rush off my situation in a panic to my fathers. I was terrified I would be ripped to shreds by Althor. However, I don’t think of the consequences by calling to my fathers.
I didn’t know about Althor’s past but my gut told me he wasn’t to be trusted.
I wouldn’t be able to fight him, I was too small.
I try to shake the fear from my head. It was just fear. He hadn’t found me yet.
I fly low across the landscape, too scared to fly high incase Roi slipped off.
I only ascend slowly, hoping he doesn’t lose grip. I could catch him in my tail but I didn’t want to make his injuries any worse.
Eventually I make it outside the rocky Canyon of Gold Dust and the rocky surrounding mountains. When I’m over the desert plains, a small sense of relief hits my gut.
I was not being followed. Not yet.
Whatever has happened, babycakes, get to safety, Lochness’ voice floods my mind, completely consuming me with his authority and his love, please stay safe, do not wander on foot –
I can fly, I admit, letting out my secret, I am flying right now. Heading to the forest. Dad, I attacked the princes and I stole Althor’s favorite prisoner. I’m sorry. I doubt the alliance will be in place anymore. There are bad things –
If you are not lying to me, Luv, and you can fly... Hael interrupts my thoughts... go back to the Horde of Fortune and give back the prisoner.
There’s something wrong –
Luvenia! Hael snaps at me, the prisoner is not your responsibility. You may not like people caged. But some people are meant to be. Return him now.
I will not! I yell at him, Roi is innocent... I think.
I will talk to Althor, Lochness growls, adding in, the prisoner will be returned.
Why is the alliance so important? I ask both of them in exasperation.
You’ve seen the stone Dragons of the Golden Canyon – Hael starts but I interrupt.
Canyon of Gold Dust, I correct him.
Luv, listen to me and you will learn, I hated it when Hael used that tone on me, When Althor finds a way to reverse the stone’s affects, those Dragon’s have the ability to impinge great damage to our Horde. Return the prisoner. Now.
I know who cast them to stone, I snap back, Shai is my friend. She will not undo what she has done for a reason. If Shai is with us, you have no leg to stand on. Your argument is moot –
Don’t challenge me, Luvenia, Hael cuts me off, furious.
You will not be involved in war, babygirl, Lochness interrupts the conversation, you are too important to us, more important than gaining Shai as an ally. Return the prisoner. Your safety is paramount.
I’m not being followed yet, just – don’t worry about me. I’m not returning. I’ll fight my own battles, I snarl at both my fathers, losing my temper.
I felt intense frustration at their lack of trust in me.
I continue to fly quickly over the landscape, tears of frustration welling in my eyes.
I just hoped I made it to the forest alive.
Sylvan broods while going for a swim in his human form. I, on the other hand, go flying.
I could not believe that Luvenia was our mate.
My shock and disbelief is increased as I wind up sitting back on the tallest point of our territory. I was starting to believe I could smell a faint trace of Luvenia herself up here.
It bugged me that I was becoming paranoid by her sweet scent – still in my nose. It was amplified when she came running in, completely naked. Oh and completely beautiful while her eyes raged.
While I remember her smell, I think of her violent temper and I am still – shocked.
Controlling everyone and everything was easy for Sylvan and I.
Now, Luvenia? She seemed completely unaffected by our words and presence. Hmmm... not completely true. I sensed her nerves and her anxiety. It just urked me that there wasn’t a compliant bone in her small half-blood body.
My eyes scan the horizon and I feel a sudden jolt of anger from Althor.
That little bitch! Althor roars mentally towards everyone.
Has the princess also maimed you? She is on a violent spree, it seems, I mock her crazy wild temper. Although she did manage to seriously wound Sylvan’s cheek bone and my palm was going to be scarred... bloody spitfire.
Find her, she has gone completely Rogue on us, Althor snarls at me, find her and find out her intentions. This alliance may be a lie. She may have been a spy this whole time –
You can not be serious, I growl back.
Deadly serious, get off your ass and find the little princess, my uncle could be so randomly violent himself. I just roll my eyes and rest my Dragon head on my claws as I scan everything below me. I search for a black headed girl.
Instead, I think I spot a moving shadow pass between two rocks.
I instantly raise my head, nostrils flaring as I focus in on the small black Dragon darting through the canyon.
I do not contact Althor, I instead contact my brother.
Come hunting, I say, instincts rising.
What’s perked your interest? Sylvan asks dully, he was still brooding. His ego was hurt by Luvenia’s surprise attack.
Sylvan was never caught off guard. However, he wouldn’t stay down for long. He would get back up again, once he figured out a successful punishment for her.
Luvenia is a sneaky little spitfire... who can apparently fly, my eyes have not left her darting body.
Let me guess. She lied to everyone about being able to transform and she is escaping from our territory as we speak? Sylvan asks for confirmation.
Your delaying her take-down by prolonging this conversation, do you want to go hunting or not? I wonder how well she fights? Do you want to find out with me? Do not tell Uncle, he will only interfere, I offer.
Let’s teach her a lesson she won’t forget, brother, Sylvan has his fire back and I see him swooping his way up towards me now. His blue tinged black was sparkling in the sun, his eyes way too eager as he lands next to me. He nearly shoves me right off the ledge as he looks for what I can still see.
Luvenia, escaping with stolen property.
That prisoner on her back was not hers to take.
I have never met a more infuriating female, Sylvan swipes his tail into mine, let’s hunt.