Dragon Fire: Episode 58

Atol slipped back through the opening in the stone and worked his way along the ceiling over to the door. Slowly rising from the chair, Upol stretched then lay down on a small cot against the wall. Dynn, occupied by the gleam of his sword’s blade, failed to notice the door behind him open and close. Back in the passageway, Atol hurried past the two remaining rooms toward the pit. At Copperhead Camp, the few guards who were still among the living never bothered with prisoners once they were tossed into the pit. If the impact failed to kill them, the snakes would ensure a quick death. When Atol saw the edge of the pit, he stopped and listened for approaching footsteps. Once he was certain the area was clear, he dropped to the floor.

“I pray I am not too late,” he thought.

Gripping the stony wall, Atol began the slow descent into the pit thirty feet below. The wall was wet with dripping water, and the stench of rotting corpses grew stronger the further down he went. The only light came from an opening in the ceiling through which the guards tossed the dead in battle. A persistent hissing grew louder as Atol came closer to the bottom of the pit. Halfway down he saw that the floor was filled with slithering snakes, and in the very center of their nest sat a man on a rock. When Atol came closer, he saw that the man was Terrin, the young prince. He sat cross-legged, hands resting on his knees, with his eyes closed. The snakes seemed unaware of his presence.

“Young prince,” Atol called, keeping his voice low.

When Terrin gave no response, Atol called again.

“Sire, awaken. I have come to rescue you.”

His eyes still closed, Terrin did not stir.

Although fearful the guards above might hear him, Atol shouted in desperation,

“Terrin!”

Suddenly the eyes of the prince shot open and Atol saw something strange in his look, a fierceness that had not been there before.

“My name is Alidus,” the young prince answered, “and I remember everything.”

“Do not move, sire. I will find a way to free you safely from this place,” Atol said.

Alidus looked down at the slithering creatures surrounding him, some crawling over his feet and legs. As he slowly closed his eyes, smoke began to billow around his feet and fire erupted from under him, engulfing the snakes.

Atol took a step backward when the fire flashed upward, licking the prison walls. Then as quickly as it had begun, the flames died down to a small bed beneath Alidus. He stood up, his clothes untouched by the fire, and said,

“I am tired of waiting. It is time to claim my throne.”

When the flames beneath Alidus turned blue, the young prince lifted his face toward the mouth of the pit. Then with an explosion of light that almost knocked Atol off the wall, Alidus leapt up out of the pit, landing safely on the stone floor above.

After regaining his footing, Atol turned and scrambled back up to the edge.

“You have many talents of mystery, young prince,” Atol remarked, stepping out onto the floor.

“Derali, my trainer and mentor, told me if ever I am confused or lost, I must stop and clear my mind and the path before me. A true warrior trusts his instincts in battle and accepts nothing less than victory. My memory has returned and I can easily control the talents I have been given. No more difficult than breaking a wild horse.”

“Now. How do we escape from this dark place, faithful Atol?” Alidus asked.

Atol pointed up to the opening in the ceiling.

“That break in the stone. We dare not go through the passageways and face the guards for there are many, and those outside will easily be alerted should we make any sound.”

Alidus looked up at the ceiling then down to the walls. Clinching his fists, he said,

“You must escape through this opening. Leave me. I shall find another way out.”

“But, sire, I do not know where it leads. I cannot hurry back to help you,” Atol pointed out.

When Alidus slowly looked down at Atol, his eyes were two burning embers of white fire.

“You will be safer outside,” he warned.

As the air around Alidus grew hot, Atol scrambled for the wall and quickly made his way up to the ceiling.

Just as Atol slipped through the opening, the ground began to rumble and fire erupted from the shaft opening. Once outside, Atol pressed himself against the wall and scanned the castle grounds. When he saw the entrance, patrolled by the two trolls, he started to run, leaping over bushes and stones.

“Why the ground shake?” Kimli asked.

“I not do anything,” Undall answered.

Just as Atol reached the courtyard, he saw both trolls turn toward the door leading down into the prison. The wood slowly blackened as though burning from the other side.

“What that?” Undall asked, pointing to the door.

“What you do?” Kimli growled.

All at once columns of fire shot up from fissures in the ground as sections of the prison wall exploded outwards. Kimli looked down at the burning door, and when he reached out to tap it, it exploded from pressure building inside the prison, sending splinters of wood flying through the air and throwing him to the ground. As Atol squinted against the light pouring from the opening in the door, he saw a single figure walk out.

“Young prince!” Atol whispered in amazement.

He had never seen anyone wield such raw power.

Alidus stepped away from the doorway and immediately the fire died down to burning embers.

Undall reached down and grabbed Alidus, lifting him into the air.

“You hurt brother, fire breather,” he scolded. “Now I hurt you.”

Without a second thought, Undall swallowed Alidus whole.

Atol was overcome with despair. He had done all he could to protect the young prince, and now he was—

“Ow!” Undall bellowed, interrupting Atol’s thoughts.

The troll grabbed at his stomach, wincing in pain.

“Something wrong,” he grunted.

Regaining consciousness, Kimli sat up and pulled wooden splinters from his face as he stared at the heap of stone that was once the castle. When he turned toward his brother, he saw his torment and shook his head.

“What you do?” he demanded.

Undall looked up at his brother for help, but when Undall’s eyes began to glow, Kimli ran away, deserting him. Atol had only seconds to dive behind a rock before the troll exploded in all directions.

When Atol got to his feet and looked up, he saw Alidus floating in place where Undall had been. Seeing that the prince looked dangerously weak, Atol hurried over to him just in time to catch him as he collapsed. Alidus was spent. His skin burned Atol as he gently lowered the prince to the ground.

“Easy, sire. Your power may be great, but you must practice control of this great force.”

“I can walk,” Alidus said, struggling to his feet.

“We must hurry,” Atol said, glancing upward at the dragon circling in the clouds.

“What is that?” Alidus asked, peering into the sky.

“I do not know, young prince, but we must leave this place at once,” Atol cautioned, turning to leave.

Atol went a few steps then stopped when he saw that Alidus was standing still studying the creature.

“What is it?” Atol asked.

“I can sense them,” Alidus said.

“Them?” Atol asked.

Without explaining, Alidus commanded, “Come here.”

There was a roar in the sky as the dragon pulled back its wings and plummeted down. At the last moment, it opened its great wings and slowed, landing on the wall to Alidus’s left. Tall and proud it stood, its ruby skin reflecting the moonlight.

Filled with wonder, Atol looked at Alidus.

“Did you command it to do that?”

Alidus smiled and clarified, “I asked them.”

Again Atol asked, “Them?”

Suddenly a second dragon landed on the wall to Alidus’s right. Equally tall and proud, it stood, its pearly white flesh glistening in the scattered moonlight.

Weakened but at peace, Alidus softly said,

“They are brother and sister.”

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Published in: on February 16, 2015 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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