Andrew felt something race up his spine and into the hood that covered his head as the device activated. Suddenly, he could sense every dragon who his father currently had collared. Apart from the three in the room, there were a dozen others.
“Right then,” Emms said. “You three assist Laxmi.”
Andrew opened his eyes in time to see the two of the three dragons turn to fight their former allies. The third was still on her knees retching by Laxmi. Matthias grabbed the wrist of the collared male as he struck at him.
“Go to sleep, Halindan!” he ordered and the dragon dropped as if pole-axed. Matthias quickly turned to the uncollared male next to him. “Tarian, can you get him to Ystelyan before he wakes up?”
“Yes, Matthias-idan.” The dragon bent, scooped Harindan into his arms and vanished.
“Lyr! Kyle! Get Naria!” Matthias spun to face the green dragon who had tried to save Andrew.
“Don’t let him touch you!” Emms yelled and the dragon danced back out of Matthias’s reach.
“Fight, Elzaria!” Matthias shouted. “I know you can. You’ve caused me enough problems.
“I’m trying!” she whimpered. Her hand crept towards him but then she dragged it back. “I’m sorry.”
In the meantime, the uncollared female dragon leapt over the fallen alfs towards Naria, who was just struggling up from her knees. Laxmi jumped between them and threw up a barrier.
“Jayden, there’s still too many of them. If you’re really determined to do this you’d better get us out of here!” She bent down and pushed a bracelet of crystal beads on to Naria’s wrist. Andrew blinked and shook his head as he realised that there was similar bracelet on his own wrist. He glanced around and realised that Jayden, Laxmi and all their troops had similar bracelets. Lyrrekka must have noticed as well because she gasped.
“Matt! Don’t let him-”
“I’m on it,” Emms said simultaneously and raced towards a plinth one corner of the room, pulling an octagonal crystal from his pocket as he did. He slammed it into a hole on the plinth. A keening sound filled the air and the plinth began to glow, as did several others around the edge of the room and the bracelets.
“Damn!” Lyrrekka’s eyes went wide and spun around. “Matt! We have to get out of here now!”
“If we’re inside the perimeter when the translation device goes fully active it’ll try to take us as well. That’s fatal without a tuner.” She was already racing for the door.
“But…” He gave Andrew an anguished look.
Go, Dad! Andrew said. I think she’s right, something bad is about to happen and you won’t be able to help if you’re dead.
I- You’re right. His father closed his eyes and gave the order for everyone to retreat. Then, quite unexpectedly, he leapt forward and and grabbed Elzaria. “Sleep!” She collapsed in his arms and he lifted her up and ran for the door. Andrew gasped in relief as he saw them get clear of the door just as the keening sound reached a crescendo and the plinths exploded into blinding white light.
Daniel screwed his eyes shut and turned his head away from the sudden blaze of light. It only lasted a second but he blinked furiously to clear the stain it had left on vision even through his eyelids. He looked back towards the room and gasped. “What the hell!”
Inside the perimeter only the plinths remained – except when he looked closer he could see they weren’t quite the same. The room was gone – walls, door, columns, floor and throne – replaced by the shattered remains of pine trees. Even the roof was gone. Instead, there was a jagged hole slightly larger than the room. The rest of the roof was bowing alarmingly and being held up by fiery yellow pillars. He glanced at Lydia, but she shook her head and nodded to Lyrrekka. The latter was holding her hand above her head with a look of intense concentration on her face.
“Damn!” Matthias looked like he wanted to punch something, but he was still holding the sleeping Elzaria in his arms. “What was that? Where did they go?”
“It was a translation device. I remember finding reference to it on an unbroken information stone I dug up at a mesolithic site in Yorkshire about twenty years ago. I sneaked it to Sarah. She might still have it,” Lyrrekka replied in a soft, sad tone. “It’s a pretty obscure transport method. It was never common even before it was forgotten because it’s so dangerous. I wonder how he knew it.” She nudged the remains of a crushed squirrel with her foot. “If we hadn’t got out of there, this would have been us.”
“But where did they go?”
“Somewhere on Earth,” she replied. “It only works between Taloa and Talonyka.” She shook her head. “It swaps two identically sized areas which linked by those plinths. And wherever they’ve gone, it’s somewhere in a forest.” She knelt down by Sonia, who was sobbing, and hugged her. “We’ll get him back, Sonia. They captured Naria-keda so Ystelyan-mirian should be able to narrow it down. That throne will be tough to move. We should go back to Waldhafen and see what we can find out.”