Side Story Three
Two Years Ago
Hannah ignored the boy’s ultimatum as she extended her mind in to the rock beneath her feet. Without taking her eyes off him and the dragon, she carefully drew herself a mental map to search for escape routes. At first she sensed nothing useful. Then, as if a fog were clearing, she felt a path down the opposite side of the mountain which she would have sworn wasn’t there a moment ago. Something reached out from the rock and touched her mind.
Get moving, Earth Warrior. I will distract him until you reach me. The red one must not get the key. Destroy it if you have to.
Who are you? she asked as she cast a pile of rock shards at boy and dragon to distract him before racing towards the path. Behind her, she heard the dragon scream and the boy give an angry yell as her attack pierced his hastily erected shield and sliced into both of them.
Ah, yes, you wouldn’t know. I am the Earth Guardian, he replied. Once you reach my shrine, I’ll be able to keep you safe until rescue comes. I doubt the red one will want to keep too many troops around here for long, anyway. It’s too close to silver territory.
Well that explained the massive rock in the middle of a fire zone, Hannah thought. She glanced back to see that the boy had leapt off the dragon’s back and the dragon had taken human form. The two were talking earnestly. The dragon had a stressed and pained look on his face and his fingertips were showing claws.
Hmm. If you choose to attack that dragon again, be sure you can take it out in one shot. He’s on the verge of frenzy; one more wound could tip him over.
And then we’d be screwed, Hannah agreed. Matthias and Sarah had shown them the damage a frenzying dragon could do when they’d first been called. I probably can’t, so I’d better concentrate on the boy if I have to fight. I hope I don’t.
Indeed. I’ll close the path behind you and give you some shelter from the above. He gave a deep sigh in her mind. Â I wish that the Core wouldn’t do this. You shouldn’t be placed in combat without preparation and at least your heart friend to help.
Â It doesn’t understand that, I guess, she said as she continued down the path. She glanced back again and saw that it was vanishing behind her, replaced by impassable boulders and cracks. Spines of rock were reaching out of the ground and spiking into the air above her, giving some shelter from the dragon – although so far, she saw no sign of him or the boy. She didn’t like that but she couldn’t afford to stop and find them. Instead, she just put her head down and kept running.
Watch out! The Guardian’s shout gave her just enough warn to slide to a halt as a huge fireball flew past her and hit the path directly in front of her, opening a chasm she would never be able to leap.
“Now, give me the key,” the boy said. She turned and found him standing on top of one of the boulders. There was a flapping sound and the dragon landed on the other side of the chasm.
You’re close now. I need you to trust me. Jump.
What? Hannah was sure her shocked confusion showed on her face.
Â Just jump into the chasm. I’ll catch you.
Err… Hannah stared into the chasm, she could see lava at the bottom.
“Give Logan the key or I’ll make sure you scream for days before you die,” the dragon said. “Cooperate and I’ll make it painless.”
“Lishian!” The boy snapped. “What sort of a bargain is that?”
“It’s not your call, Logan. Gerian-mirian wants her dead. She knows about the key and we can’t let them learn of it.”
Hannah snorted softly to herself. “Way to make my decision easy!” she said. “If I’m going to die anyway, I have no reason not to try the route I might survive.” She closed her eyes and leapt.