Side Story Three
Two Years Ago
Hannah woke slowly to find herself lying in another cave. She pulled herself to her knees and looked around. It was much cooler than the lava caves where sheâ€™d found the key. In the dim light cast by the luminous moss growing over the interior, she could just make out that it was a cathedral-like space.
Not far away from where she was kneeling stood a circle of boulders surrounding a natural platform. From the center of the platform, a pillar which was certainly not natural rose to the ceiling. At first blush it looked like it was just intricately carved but then she saw that it was moving, the carvings writhing as if alive.
Are you well, earth warrior? the voice in her mind asked. Now that she was close by, she could tell that it came from the pillar. Hannah scrambled to her feet and bowed.
â€œI am indeed, guardian.â€ She felt in her pocket and found that the key was still there. â€œThe key is as well.â€ She pulled it out and looked at it. â€œWhat does it open that is so important?â€
We donâ€™t know exactly. The legends say that it came from Gaia not long before the dragons came into existence and the humans asked that we hide it from its creator and other enemies of Gaia.
â€œIt was certainly made by a human,â€ she agreed. â€œAnd the art of making such things was lost in the first dragon war and its aftermath.â€ Her fingers stroked the markings on it and once again, she felt power and a feeling of terrible danger from it. In her mindâ€™s eye she saw a pillar on top of a mountain. Lightning crackled from it and broke the sky. She gave a horrified cry and almost dropped the ke. â€œI really think we should dest-â€œ She broke off as there was a booming sound and the cave walls shuddered slightly. â€œWhat the hell?â€
The dragon with that boy has tracked you here and is trying to drain the wards. It would seem that they are more determined to get their hands on the key than I imagined. I wonder why? The dragons have always known of it, but theyâ€™ve never shown an interest in it before.
â€œI donâ€™t kno-â€œ Hannah began, but then just as suddenly she did. â€œAs a power source. Itâ€™s very powerful and he thinks he can harness it. Heâ€™s wrong.â€ She stared down at the thing and wondered how she knew that. The knowledge was like a cold, creeping whisper in her head. â€œOh wonderful, I think itâ€™s talking to me.â€ She shuddered and hurled it at one of the pillars. It cracked the rock but wasnâ€™t even dented by the impact. â€œYou can keep it. I donâ€™t want it.â€
It would be safest here. The dragon can drain all he wants. He will not pass my wards. His master might be able to break through, but I do not believe he is so stupid. Once the danger is past, I will have it returned to its hiding place. A door appeared in the opposite wall. He who was Indirian says that Matthias is looking for you. Iâ€™ve directed him away from your pursuers and the tunnel will take you to him.
â€œThank you, guardian.â€ Hannah grabbed her bag, bowed again and ran out.
The tunnel was surprisingly short. Hannah suspected some sort of distortion of space was involved. Especially since it was undeniably sloping downwards but when she abruptly emerged in to the sunlight just beyond the boundary of the fire zone, she was on top of a low hill – and there was no sign of the tunnel behind her. Matthias Morgan was sitting on a rock, waiting for her.
â€œSo, Indirian tells me youâ€™ve had a bit of an adventure,â€ he said.
Hannah gave a wry smile. â€œYou could say-â€œ She broke off as she noticed a weight in her pocket. She slipped her hand into it and swore as she found the key there. â€œWhat the hell?â€