Rowen, numb in shock, barely felt Castamir release his grip on her and get up. Suddenly she felt his hand on her face, and realized she too had stood up. His green eyes met her fiery ones once again.
“Good bye, Rowen,” Castamir said, then locked his lips on hers. Rowen ripped her head backwards and raised a fist to hit him. He caught her hand before she could reach him.
“Would you stop doing that?” She growled.
Castamir only smiled. “Good luck.” He then turned around and began to walk away, leaving her at the entrance of the dragon cave. Rowen, knowing better than be left in front of a master dragon’s cave, went to run after him. She took five steps, and then she hit solid air.
Her wrists seemed to be locked in invisible manacles. She twisted and pulled, but to know avail.
“CASTAMIR!” Rowen hollered after him, wrenching as she pulled. Castamir turned around, a smirk creeping up the side of his face.
“What?” Castamir answered. “You’re not stuck. You can move. Take a step back.” She did so. “See? You’re fine.”
Rowen ran full force at him again. In the same spot, her wrists stopped moving and her legs flipped up, sending her sprawling onto her back.
“Why…can’t…I….MOVE?!” She seethed through gasps of breath.
“You can. You just did.”
“FORWARD!” She shouted.
Castamir grinned again walked up to her, pulling out a fine gold chain. A black rock was attached to the end of it, about the size of his palm. He dangled it mockingly in front of Rowen’s eyes, just out of her reach. He suddenly grabbed it in his palm and held it up to his mouth, blowing across it and causing dust to flitter off. In an instant the bands on Rowen’s wrists yanked her farther backwards, then up close. Her hands locked themselves behind her back and pulled upwards as if attached to an invisible chain. Rowen’s feet lifted off the ground, her shoulders burning with pain.
With wide eyes Rowen realized he had a dragon stone. He had the ability to control her dragon-made bands because she was not a real dragon – she was not strong enough to resist. Each time Castamir had kissed her, he was drawing power from her so that he could control her in this fashion. Still, he wouldn’t be able to control her at distances. He could only set up barriers that she would be trapped in.
Castamir walked forward again as Rowen’s bands had hung her in the air so she could not move.
“Yes, figured it out now haven’t you? And believe me, you have quite a lot of power in you,” Castamir said, talking at step forward so his head was level with hers.
“Don’t you dare,” Rowen hissed vehemently, her fiery eyes flaring.
Castamir ignored her and, still clutching the dragon stone, put his hand around her neck, holding her head still. He locked her lips once more and kissed her long and deeply, more so than any other time. The stone in Castamir’s hand began to glow brightly as he absorbed more power from Rowen, and his eyes seemed to turn from green to increasingly more orange. Finally he let go with a gasp, his eyes flashing bright fire. The hot stone in his hand dimmed back to black after he released Rowen, as did his eyes back to their normal green.
Castamir was quite lucky he did have Rowen immobilized; she looked like she was going to kill him. “You seemed to be enjoying that a little too much,” she sneered.
“Maybe I did,” He sneered back, smirking.
“Farewell Rowen. If I were you, I would do something soon if you don’t want to be a crisped dinner for a dragon. Best of luck!” He finished with an annoying smile.
With that, Castamir turned and walked away, leaving Rowen held up by her wrists. Abruptly she dropped down, but still could not follow after him. She tried shooting a spray of fire, but the fire hit the “barrier” of her bands and bounced harmlessly away.
“CASTAMIR! Castamir don’t you dare walk away! Get back here and take away this wall! You think I can stand up against a master dragon? Castamir! Castamir come back, wait – CASTAMIR! CASTAMIR!!!“
He closed the stone door with a clang.
Rowen was alone, walled in by invisible boundaries to the cavern of a master dragon.
She stares a long time at the stone door – so close and yet so far away, hoping that to see Castamir come back out of it and simply tell her it was a joke, or a trick… something. She hoped she could just blink and see his odd green eyes laughing at her. His eyes, though green, were different than the rest of the Seerganash. Something about them was… more full, or deeper, a more intense green. Whatever it was, his eyes were clearly distinct from the others. Rowen also realized with a grunt that it was pretty much the only circumstance that she had ever actually wanted to see Castamir. He couldn’t be gone. He wouldn’t leave her here, alone, penned in like live food for a dragon. He wouldn’t…he couldn’t……
“I swear before this is over I will kill that beast,” Rowen spoke aloud to the empty room, echoing off stone.
After sitting a moment in silence, Rowen realized the odd effect of sound here. The flickering and crackle of the flames, the whoosh of air that swirled in from the dragon cave. Rowen idly ran her fingers over the burned tattoos that ran down her arms. She touched the two horizontal stripes on her face, remembering her now-dead brother who gave them to her, and then of her mother who had given Rowen the power of fire. Her mother had taught her more than just how to wield fire. Rowen knew something else that might save her.
With resolution, Rowen stood up. Well, if they wanted her to walk to her death, she would. Only she wasn’t going to stand there like a piece of food and wait to be found – she was going to call this dragon on her own terms. She would avenge the murder of her family – both of them. Not against dragons, but against the ones behind it all. For Rowen knew now that her people, the Raugrím, had only been attacked in the first place because of the interference of the early Singor, later known as the Seerganash. Those Singor had pushed the dragons there. Then later, those Singor murdered her second family. Rowen would have her revenge – not against this master dragon but against the Seerganash. She would bring down Castamir and the mountain itself if need be.
Castamir had just given her the perfect opening.
“Leave me alone.”
“Leave you alone? My boy, you are inside of me. You can’t ignore me and you can’t shut me out of your head. You deserve more torture than your’e getting, boy. You can imagine how upset I was when you ran away… but Castamir did well in your place. Yet he doesn’t have the mind you have. Ambition, yes… he got the greater share. But your logic was hard to replace.”
“Why are you doing this? What is Castamir going to do with Rowen?”
“I know not nor care what the plan of Castamir is. He is smart and knows what he is doing. But Castamir will not let her die. No, I need her too greatly. “
Jack was taken aback by the last sentence.
“Why would you need her?”
“ You see Jack, your little friend has the only wrought dragon-bands in existence. It is dragon fire that put me here, and dragon fire that will get me out. But I cannot use a dragon – they do not cooperate well and cannot breathe fire while in the Vantranack. Rowen however, uses her bands and not her air stream. She has passed though me once and it was almost more than I could bear… but done the right way I can achieve something else.
My body is far gone, but yours is not. You will become a perfect son of mine, Jack. All those years of living on the run was for nothing. You could have stayed and become greater than Castamir… but no, you ran away. Your weakness is cowardice. If only you were vengeful you would be perfect. Now, you are going to suffer.“
My father is a madman, Jack thought hopelessly. “What makes you so sure you will get Rowen to do whatever you have in mind?”
The Vantranack shuddered as a hollow laugh echoed around the walls. “I have my insurance. You.
“…Rowen is not an idiot.”
“ Ha! I know that well enough. I’m not expecting her to become all heroic for you; I just know what will happen. Once she gets loose of Castamir, she’ll come running here. She’ll get in and you will be unconscious here. She’ll run over to see if you’re alive. As soon as she touches you, she’s mine. “
Jack stared blankly as he searched for a flaw. “How do you know she’ll get out of Castamir’s grip?”
“She will. If she doesn’t, I’ll make sure she gets here anyway. “
Jack grew silent in fear. Would Rowen walk right into the trap?
Castamir paced around the hall. “Everything is ready? You have the steel cooled and loaded, the pump driven and ready?”
“Yes, my lord.”
“Good. Any movement?”
“Not that we can detect yet, sir. All fire is normal level; lava is surging at a steady pace. And…..sir?”
“Did, did you by any chance catch the song that was heard earlier?”
Castamir’s expression darkened. “Aye, I did…”
“Do you know what he said?”
“No. Now get back to work.”
Several hours later, still nothing had happened. Not the slightest disturbance could be detected.
“What is going on in there?” Sever of the crew pondered, some aloud
“That’s it, get her outta there,” Someone stated. Murmurs of agreement rose through the air.
“No… wait see what will happen if -“
“What in the…”
Drums, louder than seemed physically possible, raided though the air. Still they increased in volume, opening to a dark-sounding rush. Unexpectantly the sound of brazen instruments joined the roar in clashing and crashing cascades of music. Angry, loud, yet musical and roaring, the music crescendoed and decrescendoed in heart-stopping throes filled with conflict and raging fire. Dissonance resounded, echoing everywhere with minor tones.
“What the heck is going on in there?!” Castamir yelled out.
“Quick! Check to skylight”
“Opening rock vessel…”
“Release pressure, deplete rock and keep up bars..”
“Fireproof glass placement?”
“Water gauge over here…”
Chaos followed in the control room above the dragon’s cave. Because Rowen had opened the main gate, other regions were now vulnerable. A control center had been built high above with the ability to view what was going on from a safe height and distance. They had not risked it yet, but now the Seerganash truly needed to see what was happening.
“…Fire levels are soaring!”
“Movement from deep in the den!”
“Gauges are breaking..”
“There is too much chaos!”
“What is going on?!”
The rock before their eyes crumbled to the cavern floor many feet below as they removed it. From the high perch of the control center, all twenty-nine of the Seerganash team leaned over the ledge to see what was transpiring below. What they saw dropped the jaw on every one of them.
Their wide green eyes glittered in the luminous heat.
Notes from me
I’m back from vacation, and it gave me alot of time to draw
I posted new sketches here: https://www.hometown.aol.com/aduialtwilight/rogue2.html