Chapter Twelve: Dragon Killers

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Chapter Twelve:

Dragon Killers

The blood rushed in my ears as the sound of my footsteps bounced off the black ice. Soren was one pace behind me, checking back over his shoulder to make sure the lindworm wasn't preoccupied with its now-running prey.

The immense power from the monster squeezed the breath from my lungs until every breath was a gasp. Soren's power, the Erlking's, they had nothing on this creature. This was the type of power, a crimson wave that lingered in the peripherals of my vision, that could level cities, kingdoms. This was the power of a predator unrestrained by any earthly or personal ties.

So why were we running?

"Wouldn't killing this thing give us a significant boost?" I shouted, following Soren's sharp left turn into a narrow tunnel the lindworm wouldn't fit.

He paused, catching his breath. "Are you mad, Janneke?"

"Think of the power that thing has," I said. "We're just going to run?"

"Yes," he said, grabbing my arm and pulling me down the pathway. "We're going to run and hope that Lydian and his retinue are enough of a feast so that we're not followed."

For the first time there was a tremble in his voice.

"Are you afraid of it?" I asked, incredulous. I didn't think Soren could be afraid of anything.

"You aren't?" he said, "My nursemaid told me stories about those things before I started walking. You'd have to be an idiot not to be."

We hurried through the passageway, the walls constricting. My lungs heaved in my chests as the walls closed in. They were so close together, if they collapsed we'd be buried under a mountain of rubble. I forced myself to breath normally. Calm down. You're not going to smother to death.

"Your species has an odd idea of what constitutes as a bedtime story." Soren shoved me through an opening in the tight passage and I tumbled to the ground, landing in a mess of feathers, moss, and bones. The iridescent crystals from before formed piles high to the ceiling and stalagmites shot up from the ground.

Soren slid down after me, stopping before he fell face first onto the rough earth. But as soon as he got his bearings his eyes widened at something in the corner of the large cave.

Along the floor, littered with the leftovers of prey, among the swirling feathers and little lights that shone from the sky above were giant eggs. Their rich golden color swirled with soft cream and sleeping soundly beside them was another lindworm.

Its massive body curled around itself, the blue sheen of its scales glittering against the lights from above. Five wickedly sharp claws lay at the end of its massive front legs and sharp fangs slid out from over its lips. Even its snoring shook the walls until pebbles rolled to the ground.

Soren swore softly, eyes scanning the area for another way out. His hands trembled until he clenched them into fists, fighting for control. The nervous, panicked look on his face, his darting eyes, the way he stood frozen on the spot was alien to me.

"Let's just climb back up the way we came," I offered, looking at the hole we dropped from. Smooth stone surrounded it but both of us were strong enough to give each other a leg up and if it came to it, we'd find another way. Otherwise we were dragon food.

Soren cast one more glance at the sleeping lindworm, then up at the hole. The tips of his ears sharpened as he cast out his power and heard beyond the normal limits. Then he jumped back, pulling me with him, and unsheathed his double swords.

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