Chapter Six - Escape

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THE QRILL MOVED SWIFTLY. Almost before the girls could act it stood in front of them blocking any hope of escaping that they had.   

Dotty pushed Alice to one side. When it comes after me, swim for the cave. Find Henry and see if you can escape this place. 

She faced the frog-crab thing alone. It scuttled forward, reaching for her. She closed her eyes and waited for the creature's cold embrace. 

It never came.

Dotty opened her eyes one at a time, wondering what had happened.

Nightfire was there, the Qrill was wrapped in his serpentine coils. Even for a young dragon, he was more than a match for the warrior. It struggled, trying to free its arms and bring the battle-axe to bear. But it was no use. Dotty saw Nightfire squeezed harder, there was a crack as the Qrill's carapace shattered, more green blood flooded the water and it went limp.

 Dotty saw Nightfire squeezed harder, there was a crack as the Qrill's carapace shattered, more green blood flooded the water and it went limp

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Even before she could thank him he had snatched her up in one great paw. 

Quickly we have no time for discussion. I took them by surprise by diving off the ledge and crashing through their ranks. But they will soon regroup...  

 Dotty could see this was true. The large muscular one who appeared to be in command was even now gathering its troops again. It waved the glowing staff it held and motioned towards the dragon. As one, the Qrill horde turned and swarmed down the cliff face. 

Alice, Henry, where... 

We are here, came the reply even before she could finish.

Nightfire motioned towards the cave entrance. They are inside, safe for the moment. 

The dragon reached the cave mouth and slipped inside. The children were pushed ahead. 

Are you all right? Dotty asked her brother and sister.

Yes. They both replied.

Half crawling, half swimming in the darkness, Dotty could sense the dragon squeezing its body through the narrow confines of the passageway behind her.

As they moved deeper into the cave her eyes gradually became used to the darkness. The tunnel walls began to give off the faint phosphorescent glow once again. It enabled her to see that the passageway was growing wider the further they went inside. She wondered again if it was the same one they had used to enter the citadel of the Qrill but she still could not tell.

The passage began to widen and soon it opened into a larger chamber. Dotty stopped suddenly gazing ahead in wonder. She floated above a small ledge about half way up the cavern wall. Before her lay a forest of stone pillars of all shape and size. They filled the whole area stretching from the floor to the ceiling. Each column was ablaze with myriad multicoloured gemstones that lit up the cave walls in brilliant glittering flashes of every hue.

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