Controlled chaos ran wild in the center where the Seerganash had been monitoring Rowen. All the engineers were trying furiously to reopen the ceiling to see what was happening. The drumbeats had abruptly stopped with a note that made the Seerganash cover their ears from its impact. Silence now rang throughout the halls.
“All of out censors and meters to gather information and movement have been destroyed,” One of the Seerganash reported.
“Castamir, we can’t do anything. This place is sealed up almost as tight as before Rowen opened the Master Doors,” Another stated.
Just as the words were out of the elf’s mouth, a sweaty team of Seerganash charged into the room, breathing heavily. “We have just gone down to the Doors.” One managed to pant out, obviously in a hurry to tell his information.
“And?” Castamir prompted.
Silence followed that reply. “That’s it. Rowen’s lost; our plans are in ruins,” an elf put in, shaking his head in aggravation.
To almost everyone’s surprise, a slow grin spread across Castamir’s face. His glinting green eyes glowed in the dim lighting, making a few of the Seerganash step back at the sinister grin.
“Oh, how little faith you have,” Castamir said slowly, the grin spreading wider across his face.
Again, silence rang in the space. One of the Seerganash finally piped up, “How can we be sure Rowen is even still alive?”
“I know she is,” Castamir said, pulling out the fine gold chain. A few Seerganash gasped as they realized it was a Dragon Stone at the end of the chain. It was jet black, but when Castamir grasped it the stone began to give off a faint red glow. When he looked up at them, his eyes had a yellow sheen at their center, seeping out from behind the green.
“Did you really think I was just going to put Rowen in there and hope for the best? What would she do?
Now then, the cave of the Master Dragon has seven weaknesses, thanks to our long-deceased head architect and creator of the Master Keys, Larentor. You all know his traitorous grandson, Larenteth.
Those seven spots were created for the seven Master Keys. The Master Keys are all lost now, including, regrettably, the last one that was in the possession of Larenteth. But the seven weaknesses still remain…
I happen to know all of them.”
At that moment, seven Seerganash stepped up behind Castamir, seven that had not been surprised at anything he had said in the last twenty minutes. They all knew this last plan by heart. Castamir smiled, turned to them, and said two sentences that would change the winds in this plot:
“Inform your teams. Load the rockets.”
Rowen and the Master Dragon were deep in conversation about what was going to happen now. Though they seemed on okay terms, Rowen kept her distance; she knew the hot-tempered dragon could easily switch at any moment on a whim, become bored with her and simply eat her. Rowen was informing the dragon on what was happening, and why the dragons should rally against the Seerganash, when suddenly the Master lifted his immense head. The powerful neck muscles strained as he held his head high, listening and watching. The spikes on his back stood suddenly stiff, and his tail stopped weaving and arched itself into an attack position, the long spikes pointing outwards. Rowen knew better than to distract a dragon while he was using his senses, and so she waited and refrained from asking what was going on.
The two huge nostrils sniffed the silent air and snorted swift airstreams back out in clouds of black smoke. His claws flexed.
“Sommmme thinnng isss wrrong….” The dragon stated with slow deliberateness, peering about with his intense golden eyes. His voice betrayed no sense of anxiety; he talked like he would be commenting about weather. Yet still the deep rumbling of his vocal chords gave the statement an eerie ring.
The dragon remained in this stiff position for many moments, then he slowly dropped his head back down. Rowen noted though that his tail still stayed curled and lethal, as well as all his incredible muscles tense.
Barely had the Master Dragon put his head back down did a dull explosion ring through the colossal cavern.
When the dust cleared, at first neither Rowen nor the Master could see what had happened. Then they spotted a small trickle of water dripping through a crack in the wall. The Master Dragon stretched his head forward to view it, then suddenly drew back. He arched his back and bellowed out with a roar that rocked the mountain – only with this one came fire. A surge of pure, thick dragon fire as dense as any Rowen had seen, blistering forth and accelerating the heat of the cavern in mere seconds, escaped the gaping mouth of the Master. And it didn’t stop; fire upon fire surged in a constant river of flame like ignited air. From its urgency Rowen could detect something was seriously wrong, and the dragon was attempting to use his fire to prevent something from happening.
Just then, another explosion rang – one not of the dragon’s doing – and the wall broke open with an even larger surge of water. It seemed like an entire lake was emptied upon the Master Dragon in seconds, striking even his immeasurable weight backwards a bit. The water was so powerfully jetted that it only lasted a few seconds before dying off. Out of the gloom of the hole something huge and silver exploded out, moving faster than sound. Rowen was thrown off her feet and into the shallow coating of water upon the ground by the sheer wind force that buffeted alongside what it was. She flinched at the water’s touch, even though it was only a couple inches deep.
Suddenly Rowen realized some of the water was red, and it wasn’t from the reflection of the Master’s scales. A large bolt of barbed steel, ten feet wide at least, had lodged itself under the scales in one of the dragon’s arms.
“That’s impossible! Nothing can penetrate that hide!” Rowen yelled desperately to no one. The Master himself was shocked as well, though the pain did not bother him. The long tail flew out of nowhere and shoveled Rowen off to the side of the cave just as more bolts reigned down, and more jets of water burst forth from the walls. Rowen was beside herself in disbelief; this couldn’t be happening. Nothing can hurt a red dragon, never mind the Master of them all. It just wasn’t possible! Even water could not have that much effect… could it?
Explosions rang throughout the cave, terminating with the smell of burning scales. Fire erupted, skimming off the shallow water in eruptions of light and thunder. Rocks and boulders fell from the ceiling, showering down and landing with a cascade of splashing water and sparks.
Everything was going wrong.
It was all Rowen could do to keep out of the way as the Master moved his huge feet quickly around and his long tail whipped lethally with its prongs arched outward. The dragon had his wings spanned outward; the falling boulders bounced off them and went rolling everywhere. The rocket-like steel bolts shot relentlessly at the Master, worming their way under his seamless armor of scales. Some shot straight through his leathery wings.
Then came the blades.
Circular discs with teethed edges spun out of the seven holes in the walls, slicing everything in their path – even solid rock. They gouged the Master Dragon himself, leaking more blood into the already murky-red water. They were powered by works of hydrolysis. Rocks fell and piled around Rowen, blocking her from view of the action for a long time.
Finally, it all stopped. A sizzling mess of smoke, steam, and stench weighted the air. The water was knee deep, spread far over the vast area of the cave. Rowen scrambled from beneath a pile of rocks and made her way across the dissipating gloom in scrambling splashes. Up ahead, the fading glow of the glorious Master’s scales met her eyes.
When Rowen reached him, he opened one painful eye. His body was lying down, sprawled in the water. His breathing was shallow and scarcely heard, and gashes ripped down his once flawless scales in several places. His majestic wings were bent, crooked, and torn like an old blanket, full of holes. In the distance Rowen could see his tail was severed partway down; the enormous spikes at its end projected out of the water limply and without life. Everywhere bolts of rocketed steel punctured his hide agonizingly.
“Rowen…” The immense mouth hissed sadly. Some of its teeth were missing.
Tears streamed down Rowen’s face. This was her fault. Castamir didn’t want her to negotiate anything – he was just using her to break the seal of the doors and lure the Master into where he could be shot. Even though the doors were re-shut, the cave was still weaker. Rowen had walked right into Castamir’s plan, and accomplished it perfectly. She had killed the Master Dragon.
“CASTAMIR!!!!!!” Rowen yelled in livid despair, furiously pounding the stone with her fists.
Rowen broke into a dull sob as her memory flashed back. This is exactly what things looked like when she had lain crying next to her dying mother. Everything was the same… the water all around, the pain, the dim cave, the dragon blood all around….
The dragon blood all around.
Something else clicked in Rowen’s memory – dragon blood was highly flammable. But there was fire everywhere; why had it not caught yet? Rowen realized dragon blood must not be flammable to the type of fire of its originator, or else the dragon could blow himself up. But Rowen’s fire was different….
“Rowen…” the Master spoke again, “don’t let them take my blood or my fire. They are coming. Please, don’t give them the Master. It’s what they want… what they will use against all the other dragons to gain control. There is not one dragon that wouldn’t lose heart at seeing my carcass. I’m dying… kill me – don’t let them.”
She knew what she had to do, only this time there was no escape from the water. Rowen would be caught in the explosion too.
Just then Castamir appeared, jetting down the rock by holding a rope in his hand. He began running towards Rowen.
Rowen glared at him, breathing hard in suppressed rage.
“This if for you, Castamir!” Rowen cried, and then placed her hands and banded wrists in the bloody water. Castamir, his green eyes suddenly wide with realization of what she was doing, jumped down and ran after her.
“NO!!!” He yelled, diving for Rowen just as her bands started to glow.
He reached her just as the explosion blasted.
Wave upon wave of molten clouds exploded up, resembling very much a volcano exploding. The blood of a Master Dragon had never before been spilled, never in the history of this earth. And a good thing too – any ignition of a Master Dragon’s blood would have been extreme, but so much had been spilled now…. The walls collapsed, the roof overhead was blasted away, and any remaining stone was scorched black.
The Master Dragon, still struck down in the center, went up in one huge ball of flame that was brighter than anything anyone had ever seen. It burned from red to orange to yellow, then finally a blinding white. All the water burned away.
The world around Rowen was cast in a brilliant sheen of gold – the last thing she saw before blackness overtook her and she could see no more.