Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chapter 3: The Dragon Queen (Mark I)

Caden climbed the rough cut stairs. The passage narrowed. Caden turned to his side, and squeezed through. The torch heated up the tight space. Caden sweated. His shirt caught on the rock and ripped. He saw the light outside. Light outside, how long was he in those tunnels? Vines and ivy covered the exit. Caden dropped the torch and pushed through the plants.

He emerged from a crevice in a large rock. The morning sun shone through the forest canopy. He blinked as he looked around. The forest was quiet. Not a single bird sang. The people in town had to have noticed the missing children by now. What will they do when they find the stairs behind the altar? What will they do if they find the bodies of the Dragon Knights?
Caden hefted the stone sword in one hand. It didn't feel heavy anymore. He guessed that it had to be over a stone in weight. He lifted the stone sword. Before, it was too heavy for him to lift with two hands, now he held it in one hand. It was carved imathia green marble, and over 20 hands in length.
He took the time to figure out where he was. He saw a large tree above the stone he climbed out of. It had a thick twine rope tied around it, with white and red ribbons. Caden recognized the tree, and the rock he climbed out of. It was the heart of the Dragon Queen. It was said the Five Great sages sealed the Dragon Queen's heart, a diamond the size of a human head, inside the stone. He never knew the stone was split in half before.
He walked down the path to the Dragon's Maw. Father Coteson stood in the clearing. Surrouned by the rows of sharp jagged boulders. The Queen's half buried teeth. The children stood next to the boulders, not moving.
Father Coteson's staff burned with green fire. He held up the Queen's heart. He chanted in the ancient temple language. Caden could only make out a few words. "δράκος βάσιλισσα," meant Dragon Queen, and "επιστροφή," meant the return.
The giant diamond pulsed. It started beating to the rhythm of his chant. With every pulse, red flowed through it, until it looked like a real heart. Father Coteson dropped the heart and it sank into the ground. Caden saw the black darkness around Father Coteson. It was the same darkness that let him see his attackers in the tunnel.
The ground shook, and split open. Flames errupted from the depth. The green fire on Father Coteson's staff flashed. The ground crumbled away, leaving a fiery ring around Father Coteson. The children's eyes flashed with the green fire. "Come my children," he said. "Step into the pit, feed the Queen, and we shall purify the world."
Caden ran into the clearing. The children stepped forward. Caden jumped over the pit and brought the stone sword down on Father Coteson's wrist. The bones shattered. He dropped the staff. The children stopped.
"You fool," said Father Coteson. "You have no idea what's going on here." He waved his good hand at Caden. The green flame shot up from the staff and into Caden's eyes. "Now, step into the pit with the children." Father Coteson smiled and looked into Caden's eyes.
The tip of the stone sword hit the ground. Caden turned towards the pit. He stepped forward. The children stepped forward. Father Coteson picked up his staff. "Good boy," he said.
Caden grabbed the sword in both hands and swung it around. It dragged a circle around Caden. He lifted it up as he swung it into Father Coteson. The stone sword snapped the staff in half. He cleaved through into Father Coteson. Caden heard Father's ribs crack.
Father Coteson stumbled back. "How?" He fell backwards into the pit.

Caden and the children ran back to the village. The ground continued to shake and tremble. An earthquake shook the ground. Caden and the children fell to the ground. Trees snapped and fell around them.
They looked up, and saw the Dragon Queen rising from beneath the ground. Trees, rocks, and dirt fell from her scales. Her black body sparkled in the morning sunlight. It spread it's wings, and blocked out the sun. It looked to be almost four furlongs tall. It raised it's massive head and let out a roar. The ground shook, and Caden felt the sound in his bones. The children cried.