The winged cats had made it to the center of their home now; crazed and disorientated enough to lose memory of their inborn senses. This one didn’t so much as bother to sniff them out, before giving up and leaving to continue its war stomp through the Dragon Caverns.

Cirrus quietly let go of Nafury and hastily walked after it. Somning into his dragon form that held his invisibility as he did, he caught up and lifted himself onto his hind legs. Then he took aim with the precision and balance of a snake to strike the cat’s curiosity.

As his white mist solidified behind the Regal, the pluma turned around too late to see the white claws come directly for its face with a piercing grip. Cirrus then brought down the full force of his hand, crushing the skull of the cat against the floor of the mountain corridor. It died instantly from the force. Moments later, a stream of blood from the Regal’s Fate retreated through its mouth and ears, streaking its heavy brown mane red. The blood joined the aeri-infused water on the walls, before spreading upwards against the slow-falling water to the ceiling. After a minute, the whole hallway glowed red.

“Insanity has made them faster, but not smarter,” Nafury said as he pulled his wavy brown hair behind his ear, where it settled over his shoulder. The corpse of the brown cat that lay at his feet was twice his height in his human-appearance. “Did my father pay them a personal visit as of late or something?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Aragmoth must think we’re getting soft to be letting these vermin in.” Cirrus stepped back, and the form of his Ancient phased out of the hallway. It passed harmlessly through Nafury.

Loki appeared in his pale green dragon form from around the corner. “Let me guess; you remembered how to be pretty again, only to forget at the first sight of blood?”

Ignoring the comment, Cirrus asked, “How many are left?”

“We have them on the run, no worries.”

“I’m not as concerned with these plumas as much as I am with what has made them lose their minds. Regals are guards—not front-line attackers.” Cirrus looked at Nafury then, as his Prince still didn’t somn into his dragon form. Instead, he stood silent, as he let his psi drift off in search of all that was going on. “Can you see anything?”

“It looks like we have them under control. I also found my father. He’s still back at Toria and just found out about this attack now.” Nafury opened his sapphire blue eyes as his psi returned to him from his castle that also housed the Soph Aur.

Cirrus led the way to the wind tunnels, not taking any chances, especially with Simera still several hours off. He unsomned into his human-appearance and entered the wide section of the Caverns as his long, blond hair settled against his back. As his Ancient released the last essence of his soul and vanished, his light blue eyes lost their otherworldly glow.

He peered at the dozen of High Guard of various colors standing ready to take on the next wave. Many of them hadn’t so much as bothered to suit up their Sylvan bodies in armor. They were either awakened too fast into action or were not overly concerned by the plumas’ attack.

Never had he so much as heard of the winds that protected their underground entrances stopping like this. Without Aragmoth’s harsh breath that only a dragon could navigate safely through, the plumas could easily walk in if they wanted. But the dragons had proven to be not-top of the fear-chain today; second only to insanity.

“Should we try and cut them off from outside?” Lintrance, his older, dark-green scaled cousin suggested.

Cirrus closed his eyes and listened to the Threads, before Nafury shuddered on seeing what vibrated through them first. He caught the Prince’s arms and looked into his psi.

Then the sound of a loud crack reached their ears and pulled him right out again, followed by the panicked cries of the daorans and young behind the protection of the Fay Wall.

Where they had just left.

The dragons unsomned and ran back down the halls, only to be met by a swarm of smaller plumas that had found another way into their mountain. Their dragon forms were unable to all cram into the hallway to deal with them. They were forced to fight by steel and unsomned. The screams continued to cry out for help from behind their enemy in a deafening grip of terror on their psis.

Then another crack sounded through the Caverns, stopping many of the blood-covered dragoons in their tracks in shock.

Cirrus shouted the attention of those he could reach back into the fight, before they could be killed by the overwhelming number of plumas. The final crack froze him in fear. It was followed by the sound of giant stone-slabs of death colliding against the ground in life-taking shatters. The pieces of the Great Dragon’s wing-bone continued to fall on all those who tried to get through the plumas and out of the Halls of Aragmoth in time.

Then all was swept quiet with a cloud of white dust.

The plumas that weren’t killed had seemingly recovered their senses. They agilely avoided the enraged strikes of those who followed their escape. Most of the dragoons were still in a state of repent on their knees before the rubble, that had been turned into a burial tomb for their loved ones.

Only a few broken cries of psi remained on the other side.

Cirrus found himself able to move again, and immediately began calling out for Nafury. The dragoons scrambled together to get to the few survivors out in time over the bodies of cats, rock and their felled soldiers.

Nafury’s psi came back to his own as safe, and Cirrus began to look for those of his own family. Lintrance. Loki… He pushed through the commotion and took up his younger cousin’s side, helping to dig out the debris closest to where Loki had heard his mother last. The younger dragoon was crying too hard to see his choices of stones. “Get away, now. Move!” Cirrus hauled the frailer dragoon away from the rubble. Then he used his aeri to pull the wind on the other side of the rocks towards him. The weaker spots revealed themselves by the smell of his lavender reaching through, and the dragoons quickly targeted them.

When they were through, the devastation on the other side twisted the hearts of the dragoons enough to turn their stomachs on them. Many of the daorans and young were crushed. Those who had tried to fight in their dragon forms now lay dead either by claws or fallen stone in their Sylvan forms. The spirits of their Ancients hovered around their bodies in the hope that their hosts might still be saved. In all his life, he had never witnessed death on such an overwhelming, silent song.

Loki found his mother, but it was too late. Both her and her unborn child had been buried at the back of the former Hall. She could have only been one of the last to flee.

The light-green haired dragoon collapsed in a heap of tears over her, letting them drip to where the blood of his mother’s memories and unborn sister lay underneath the ruins.

The Great Dragon had ruled on their Fates with this punishment, today.

For now they were truly alone, and godless.

Dragon Aster: Book I (Preview)Read this story for FREE!