As soon as the dragon left, the ice began to shrink back from the walls, all going down the hole that dragon had gone in to. It moved so quickly it seemed to be running down on its own like water.
Castamir sat in panic, trying to put together all that had just happened. If he gave Rowen the dragon stone, she would run and he would lose her. She would probably kill him. If he didn’t give it to her, she would die.
Just as he was trying to decide, things decided for him. The cavern, full of fire and lava normally, was reacting to the sudden blast of volcanic-like heat and then followed swiftly by ice. The combination was causing the underground magma to boil and rise, and the remaining walls and floor were crumbling and cracking. The ground split beneath Castamir and it jarred the dragon stone out of his grasp, falling on Rowen’s stomach and rolling into her empty hand.
Just as the ice finished leaving (and the floor beneath had no hole apparent as to where the dragon or the ice had gone) the dragon stone hit Rowen’s gold band and her frozen breath was released in a gasp. And she breathed in again – she was restored.
At first she was confused by the chaos that met her eyes, the explosions of rock and lava, the crumbling walls and floor. Huge gaping holes speckled the floor, and everywhere rock was shifted to different levels. Rowen got up, trying to keep her feet steady on a pitching ground, and began to run to an opening in the wall. Behind her, the floor gave way to a particularly enormous hole that gaped like an abyss. Many rocks and debris began to fall into it as the chasm widened. Rowen turned to run again when something caught her leg, dragging her backwards. She looked back as she fell to her hands and knees.
It was Castamir.
The lower half of his body was sliding on the slanting rock into the chasm, but he held on to Rowen’s leg and was trying to pull himself up. Rowen looked back in hate at him and tried to reach around her arms to shoot him away with a stream of fire, but she could not afford to let either of her hands release the rock unto which she held fast. The ground was sloping and Castamir’s weight was pulling Rowen down – it was all she could do to not be dragged along with him.
“Castamir, GET. OFF. Now!” Rowen screamed, viciously shaking her leg. But Castamir held fast, trying to grasp the stone simultaneously. “Why are you trying to kill me?!”
“Kill you!” Castamir yelled back as more rock crumbled away beneath him. “It was me who saved you!”
“What are you talking about?!” Rowen hollered back over the din of the crumbling cavern.
“If you are one thing, other than chaos-causing and irritating and completely insane, it’s ungrateful! I saved your sorry hide when you tried to blow yourself up, and I brought you back to life after you almost froze to death!”
“…Well, I wouldn’t need saving if you didn’t drag me here in the first place!”
“May I remind you that it was Jack who brought you here?”
Rowen didn’t answer but glared angrily below her at him.
“Oh, what, no answer this time? What happened to miss little I-have-a-retort-to-everything? Nothing to snap back with?”
“Shut up, Castamir!” She shouted, moving her foot to kick him in the mouth.
To her surprise, he did. Rowen continued to break the silence. “Castamir, why are you doing this to me? Why use me, then save me? You know I’m just going to kill you. I can’t not hurt you. I grew up with dragons; my revenge doesn’t let up easily. I don’t forgive.”
“I… I don’t know.”
“And Castamir, what did you do to Jack? Why did he run away, and how come he does not have the green eyes?”
“… He doesn’t have green eyes… because he gave his green eyes to me.” Castamir replied sadly. Rowen was looking at him incredulously, wondering if he was losing his mind. How could he take eye color?.
“How? And what did Jack do to make Cathrandar like him more than you?”
Just then a lot of rock gave way- so mach that Rowen herself was almost dropped into the gaping abyss. Castamir himself was now supporting his weight solely on Rowen, clinging to her with all his might. The only stone under him was under his elbows and upper chest – the rest of him was hanging over the emptiness.
“Rowen! Please, lift me up!”
“No…” Rowen said slowly, “I-I told you I can’t.”
“Please Rowen… please……please…………”
She shook her head.
“Rowen…” he broke off, thinking about something; realization began to come to his dreadfully green eyes as more rock began crumbling under him, so much that it would not be impossible for him to get back up. “Rowen… I, I really did care about you… in some strange way, I think I did.”
Rowen looked down at him shining jade eyes, pained in concentration of holding on and stress of thinking.
“The problem with you, Castamir, is that you mix love with ambition.” Rowen said rather harshly, now staring hard at the stone in front of her.
Out of the corner of her eye, Rowen saw Castamir put his forehead to the stone, and she felt his grip on her leg slacken. Amid the din around them, Rowen heard a faint reply.
“Your right…I..I’m sorry Rowen. I’m, I’m…sorry.” He looked up. Rowen looked at him and gasped, almost letting go of the rock in shock.
Castamir’s eyes were no longer green, but a brilliant and beautiful chestnut brown, slightly lighter than Jack’s. Their green vividness was nowhere to be seen – not even a trace. They reflected normally, and showed not a creepy and shallow hollowness but deep, radiant intensity of soul and meaning. And they were…sincere.
The stunning light was shut off as Castamir closed his eyes, his arm muscles twitching from holding Rowen’s leg so tightly. Not just his eyes had changed; Castamir seemed to be coming to a realization of something that had been a part of him for his whole life. Something was stirred in him that had been long kept choked down. Then he said something he had never uttered in his life, something he had never asked of another being. “Rowen,” he said slightly louder, looking up, “I’m s-sorry Rowen. Please……forgive me.”
“I….” Rowen began, searching for a response and clearly startled by Castamir. She couldn’t take her eyes off his. Even though the eyes looked more like Jack’s than Castamir’s green ones, he seemed somehow even more different than his brother. He was just Castamir for once – not like Jack not like the Seerganash and not like Cathrandar. Finally she ripped her gaze from his face, shutting her own eyes. She promised she would never.
At first Castamir did not answer. Then Rowen felt his grip loosen more. “Oh… alright, I, I didn’t think….” He sighed in defeat. Rowen felt him let go of her completely, and he began sliding down into the darkness waiting below him.
Rowen suddenly remembered the words of the Master Dragon, something he had said in passing about Castamir. “I never saw him much a threat, though his father turned him into something awful.” Castamir was not the one she couldn’t forgive… he was not as she saw him with his green eyes. Castamir was the one sliding away from life in front of her, with startling rich chestnut eyes and trying to say he was sorry, not just for what he had done to her, Rowen thought, but what he had done his whole life. He was sincerely asking for forgiveness, and she had denied him.
Rowen quickly swirled herself around on her stomach, locking her foot in a piece of stone and grabbing Castamir’s arms, saying something she never imagined she would say to the elf before her, and something she still did not know why she was saying.
“I forgive you Castamir!”
He looked up at her, a weak smile alighting his brown eyes. It was a smile of inner content for the first time, not one of malevolence or sinister appeal. “Thank you,” He said softly and lightly, gripping her hand in his for a second.
But then he let go.
“Castamir, Castamir what are you doing? Castamir…. Castamir! Grab my hand!” Rowen said frantically. He looked up at her again and smiled sadly, shaking his head. She made a dive for him, slipping from her foothold. She did not know what had seized her, this impulse to help him after she had hated him so much. Perhaps it was this change that suddenly overtook him; she wanted him to get a chance to live without being a slave to revenge. He saw her slipping and suddenly reached up and grabbed the dragon stone from her neck, ripping it off as he fell.
Rowen watched helplessly as he slipped from the edge and into the darkness that awaited him below. She herself was slipping, and began to try and get back up. But the rock under her was now crumbling.
Then suddenly her bands began to glow. They unexpectedly lifted up like they had done before, when she opened the doors to the Master’s cave, and threw her back on solid rock above.
A second later something black flew out of the abyss and landed near Rowen. She picked it up – it was the dragon stone, still hot from use. Castamir had used it to save her from falling.
Pity replaced Rowen’s hate, overlain with sorrow. She could not understand how she could feel that way, but she did. She did not care about him as a friend would, her hate would not let her (with generously good reason), but the sadness of the situation overtook her as Rowen realized how Castamir had just started his life in a way, released of his hate. And now he was gone, right after….
Rowen shook her head, pocketed the dragon stone and got up as the rest of the cavern began to crumble to the ground. She ran out amid the crashing boulders, somehow content – not because Castamir was dead, but because he asked for forgiveness, and Rowen had given it to him before the end.
Note from me
okay, yeah I know probably not the end you were all hoping for Castamir. It is hard to feel bad for someones who’s been characterized to be hated. This chapter and the next may not seem that good, but bear with me as we near closer to the end and a few surprises pop up I’ll comment on here if i get any new pictures up between now and when this is posted.