Welcome back to Dragon Mage!
In Part Two, we return to Andra and Olwen. It seems that all is not well. Olwen is hungry for the Dragon Essence and now she knows that there is another who can enter the dragon realm.
She’s determined to get her hands on the Dragon Essence, no matter the human or elven cost. Andra, on the other hand, is struggling with Olwen’s power.
She’s not sure she’s up to the task of protecting her people, the dragons, and the woman she loves. But she’ll have to find a way to overcome her doubts if she wants to keep Olwen safe!
Andra, General of the Dragon Army, watched in silence as her mistress drew upon the Essence of the Dragon.
Once named the ‘Great White Dragon of Dragon March’ the beast was a shadow of its former self. Giant though it was, writhing and scratching at the cave walls of the hold, it was thin now and its bones showed through its wasted flesh. Scales which once shone opalescent were dull and grey. Eyes that had once burned bright with gold were whitening.
Her Mistress, Olwen, relied on drawing power from the Dragon. She took the creature’s life to sustain her own existence. But drawing on the power came with its own risks; every time she drew upon the essence, it forced the dragons to find some way to replenish.
Many had perished as a result and now the White Dragon herself was dying.
Andra wondered briefly if her Mistress would die at that moment also, so tied were they by the life essence they shared. But Olwen would order the capture of a new dragon and the feeding would go on and on and on… until perhaps one day there would be no dragons left at all.
Andra looked away.
Years ago, she had sworn an oath to protect the beast. But those days seemed as distant now as the dragon’s lost magnificence.
Olwen cried out and stumbled back.
In an instant, Andra threw all thought of the dragon’s care aside and rushed forward and took hold of the woman she loved.
Usually enlivened by the drawing of power, Olwen was deathly pale and wide-eyed.
“What is it, my love?” Andra asked desperately.
Olwen’s features contorted with disgust and fear, she pointed accusingly to the dragon that writhed and screeched. “She’s there!” Olwen cried, “she’s in there!”
The beast let out a hollow roar and turned its attention to Andra. She knew that Olwen could command the beast, but she was unwilling to put that power to the test. They couldn’t linger, she pulled at Olwen and guided her quickly up the stairs of the hold and sealed the heavy door behind them, muffling the cries of the hungry giant.
“Who was there?” Andra hissed, wary of the Guards nearby.
“Myrddym.” Olwen spat the name as if she wanted the word to linger on her lips no longer than absolutely necessary.
“Are you certain?”
“Of course, I’m certain,” Olwen snapped, “who else would it be? Who else would wander the dragon realm looking for me?”
Andra laid a hand upon her arm. “You are stronger now, you’ll defeat her this time.” She tried not to remember the last time Olwen had stood against Myrddym, but the image of Olwen’s cold, dead frame lingered in her mind. She shook it away.
“I know I will.” But the certainty of her words did not match the fear in her features. “But how?”
“In battle,” Andra suggested, “with my army-“
“No,” Olwen waved a hand in irritation, “how is she doing it? How has she entered the Dragon Realm? She’s no Dragon Mage, her senses are as dull as her wit.”
“Does it matter?” Andra’s tone was soothing, but she only enraged her mistress further.
“It is everything! I have to know, I must know how she has done it.”
Andra took a deep breath, Olwen was always wild with fire after drawing on the essence. The energy would emblazon her for days: her wrath, her passion, her ambition, her love; it intensified every feeling ten hundredfold.
Then she would weaken, she would shrink into herself. Her eyes would lose the golden shimmer, she would be soft, quiet, and most needing of Andra’s patient love and strength to guide her. As much as Andra dreaded the woman Olwen became with the essence, she knew that without it, the woman she loved would fade into nothing.
“Perhaps,” Andra suggested warily, “she used the same means as you?”
Olwen stared. She stared at Andra with an intensity that would have frightened her if she believed that Olwen’s eyes focused upon her, but they looked through her. Far into the distance. Until finally she came back, from wherever she had gone, and shook her head firmly.
“There is no way,” Olwen nodded to herself, and her golden eyes focused back on to Andra “there is no way she could have learned our ritual and she was so intensely against my research… she never could have duplicated it so swiftly. No,” she shook her head, “there is something else at work here. I must find her and find out what she has done.”
Both women turned to a young soldier, startled that she had interrupted their private discourse.
“What is it?” Andra stepped forward, soldiers were her under authority.
The young woman cocked her head back along the corridor. “Should we bring them in, ma’am?”
The dragon was still raging within its hold. If what Olwen had said was true and the Dwarf Wizard Myrddym could enter the dragon realm and take control, then they would have to quieten the beast’s rage. Stop it feeding on its brethren. If the Dragons were no longer hungry, then Myrddym would have no weapon to turn on the Druids of Dragon March.
“Yes,” Andra nodded, “send them through.”
The young soldier gave a curt nod and shouted for the prisoners to be brought forward.
There were six of them. Two men and four women.
Tall, youthful, well-built Elven Rangers captured from their posts on the borders of the Hunting Grounds. Their red locks flowed loosely over their dirty tunics, their wide eyes a hundred shades of green darted around the bare, torch-lit stone hallway. Seeing their arms bound behind their backs, their weapons taken, and their armour stripped, Andra, smiled. How the mighty Elven race looked when they were, finally, cut down.
The guards led the prisoners two-by-two with their bare feet leaving shuffled trails on they sand dusted floor. Four armed Guards harried and hustled the elves until they stood before the door to the hold. She was reminded of cattle on market day.
“Wait a moment,” Olwen said, as she gave the small order with a flick of her wrist. The four Dragon Guards halted, and the prisoners looked to the Mistress of Dragon March, no doubt wondering if her intervention would save or condemn them.
Andra listened to the roar of the hungry dragon and wondered how long they could afford to delay.
The Elves watched Olwen as she stepped forward as if to inspect them. She lay a hand on the beardless cheek of the nearest ranger, while the ranger next to him an elf maiden with dark ruby locks, struggled at her bindings. Their capture had not broken them. But there was no use struggling now. That Elf Ranger could even free herself, charge at Olwen if she wished. It was too late for her to save herself. Her fate was sealed.
Curious for a moment, Olwen turned to the maiden. Their eyes held one another’s gaze for a moment.
“What do you want with us?” the Elf asked defiantly.
Olwen didn’t answer. She cocked her head slightly and reached out to her. Touching her cheek as she had done with the male.
Andra held back a sigh of impatience. What was she doing? What was she looking for? Did it matter if their jaws were strong, or the flesh of their cheek was soft? The dragon needed them now.
But whatever it was, she was trying to find it wasn’t there.
Olwen sighed, grunting in dissatisfaction and stepping back. “It is time.” She nodded to a guard, and they opened the heavy door to the hold.
The raging of the dragon, no longer muffled, was clear and painful. It twisted Andra’s stomach, and she wondered at the fear it must have instilled within the Elves.
The Maiden Ranger looked to her as if expecting a fellow soldier might have pity or at least an explanation. But she had nothing to give.
With the last attempt at a fight, the maiden and her fellow rangers suddenly rushed as one at the four Guards but hard blows from the Guard’s staves quickly subdued them.
“Don’t kill them!” Olwen cried, and this seemed to calm the Elves and their captors alike, as they forced the prisoners into the hold.
The fiery maiden looked once more to Andra and in that glance, she saw fear, confusion, curiosity, and defiance. She had to admit that the Elves were a mighty enemy. She was almost sorry that the maiden was about to die.
But it didn’t take long.
Before they even sealed the door behind the Elven Rangers, there were the screams of death. Desperate chained hands were pushed back through the opening as the Guards fought to seal the door and the fate of those locked within.
No one spoke.
At last, the final, desperate pounding on the door fell silent and the Dragon’s cries fell away. She’d had her fill. The Dragon’s hunger was sated.
“Good,” Olwen nodded to Andra, a satisfied smile upon her lips, “that went well.” Then she nodded to one of the Guards, a pale young man leaning on the door. Andra thought he might be sick. “Clean up the bodies would you, before they rot.”