Damsel Knight Part 1: Chapter Five

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Bonnie falls backward, her helmet clattering hard on her head. Somehow she manages to keep her grip on the shield and sword.

The dragon rises to its feet screaming. The sound seems to burrow into her head and tear it apart. The ground shakes her like a rag doll, and her ears ring.

A hand tugging the back of her shirt brings her back to her senses in time to see a set of claws cutting through the air toward her. She jumps backward, leaving the heavy shield behind. The air sings behind her as the hand drags her toward the nearest shelter - the castle. Neven. Her eyes sting with tears. Neven came for her. She should've known she could never hide from him when she was up to something. He knew her too well.

Neven stumbles, overbalanced by a large shield he must have plucked from the field of bones. Bonnie grabs his arm tight and pulls him into the lower castle. They dodge behind the nearest pillar.

The lower castle is nothing but wide open space with a stone roof and wide set pillars as thick as trees. It's so huge that shadows crowd the middle, despite the lack of walls,

"I think this is a stable," Neven whispers between gasps. He's looking around the room, white knuckled hands gripping the shield. He's donned his invention, and both the metal shooters stand at attention on his arms. He doesn't notice.

"What do stables have to do with this?" She whispers back. They're about to die and he's thinking about stables. She looks at him, worried the shock may have turned him mad..

"Look, it's got water and food." He points into the darkness where she can just see a large pool of water and beside it on a wooden platform stands a cow. A cow? She blinks but it's still standing there. Well, at least the moo sound now makes sense.

"We're in its home," Bonnie says, letting her helmet fall back against the pillar. "And it's supper time."

"Jack must have given the tree enough teeth," Neven says. Some of the fear leaves his face as he stares at the creature. "I knew you could use magic to get food, clothes, but not whole animals."

He's leaning forward to get a better look. Bonnie pulls him back against the pillar hard. "Not the time Neven."

As if to prove her point the dragon roars behind them. There's a scuffling sound, and the disconcerting noise of claws against stone. Bonnie turns to look, but soon wishes she hadn't.

The dragon pushes his way into the castle. Its head and back score against the stone roof, sending a wave of rubble behind it, the people who built this place must have underestimated how big he'd grow, just like she had.

She's struck by its eyes. Other than the size, they're just the same as she remembers. Big and completely black from pupil to what should be the whites of its eyes. Neven told her a theory once about magic vacuums, that if the world were to try and magic something that was beyond price then the magic would keep taking and taking until the whole world was gone. He says there's proof out there in space of planets that tried it. Great black vacuums that have eaten their planets and are still hungry, reaching out to pull more planets, suns, and even light to try and sate their never ending hunger,

That's what the red dragon's eyes look like, black vacuums reaching out to consume her. She feels the world tilt beneath her feet, filled with an overwhelming desire to walk toward the creature.

Then the dragon draws back its head, puffing out its chest like a bullfrog. It opens gleaming jaws to reveal a distant glow in the back of its throat. Bonnie's eyes widen and she throws herself back on the other side of the pillar, drawing Neven close to her side.

Flames wrap around them in a torrent of heat and noise. Bonnie feels her skin prickle until it sears with pain. She closes her eyes to the blue and red flames licking past the edges of the pillar either side of them. She tries to ignore the stone boiling against her back.

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