The dragon had taken them far enough down the crevice that the surrounding air was filled with darkness and smoke. There were torches of vibrant orange fire a the walls of the deep pit and there was no sunlight to be seen. Squirrel had wanted to crawl closer to the dragon’s head. He wanted to get another peak of her eyes, but, so far, his fear of falling from such an intimidating height kept him on her shoulder.
The heat becoming overwhelming and the air felt so thin and lacking in oxygen. It created a feeling of claustrophobia, which Squirrel grunted distressingly at. He took a deep breathe and searched for something - anything!
“Mmmmm…” Ana grumbled uncomfortably.
“Is everything OK?” Squirrel asked accusingly.
“Only if we’re almost there.” She began agitated. Must be the atmosphere, Squirrel thought. “Neu needs to pee.” She finished giving a concerned glance in Neu’s direction, who was desperately containing himself. The large dragon they were on must’ve understood their situation, as she looked enthusiastically at them and gave a cheerfully roar.
“Well, I assume that means we’re getting close.” Squirrel told them. Neu looked relieved, but Ana just looked pained downward as she searched for the air of below, hoping it was somehow fresher and brighter.
Soon enough, the wings of the large flying reptile sped slightly as she landed. Unfortunately, the air there was no different, which Ana noticed as she hopped from the dragon heavily. She coughed as Neu leapt desperately, shaking his head and rushing off somewhere to pee.
“How long are we gonna be here?” Ana asked desperately, not looking up at Squirrel.
“Not long.” He replied bluntly.
“Well heya! That time already?” The voice of a woman bellowed from ahead. Ana smiled, happy to finally come across a lovely, compassionate, kind hearted woman.
“Hello!” Ana chirped.
“Yeah, it is, so let’s make this quick. It’s horrible here.” Squirrel grumbled. The woman laughed before strolling into view with her hands on her hips and a smirk on her face. She had spikes and a dragon tail with red hair and hammer pants. She had a perfect fringe and freckles, with pretty, asian-esque eyes.
“It’s so you to give me compliments!” She smiled knowingly. Squirrel merely scowled moodily at her. “So! Here for my help?” She began smoothly. Squirrel went to answer, but “Of course you do!” She grinned cockily at him as she began to lead the way to...further into the crevice. “I see you’ve already met my lovely Silver Cinder.” She carried on as they marched at their own steady paces.
“She’s amazing!” Ana replied. Carlena paused and looked back.
“Well you guys can take her then!” The dragon warlock before them cried happily. “Does that suit you?” She asked mockingly to Squirrel as he growled and nodded. As Ana clapped, Neu arrived back, looking lighter.
“So that’s what we came here for!” Ana exclaimed.
“Mmhmm. Transport.” Squirrel nodded. Neu, Carlena, Ana and Silver Cinder stared offended at him. He went to smirk when they heard an unexplainable hiss erupting from something slightly above them.
They turned slowly, only to see something that made Ana’s heart thud like a drill against her chest. At first glance, it looked like a huge crow - which was disturbing enough - but after a closer look, Ana realised that the crow allusion was a human dressed in black with cape or cloak like areas of material, with hundreds of feathers woven onto them. The robes trailed behind it as it held it’s arms like they were wings. It was also wearing a crow mask and the eye holes were darker than the rest of it! Somehow, through the lack of eyes, it stared at them tauntingly. It almost looked dead - it was so still!
Not knowing how long it had been there, they looked horrified up at the ledge it stood upon. whatever it was, was invisible until it highlighted its presence.
“Uh….” Carlena trailed off, looking at Squirrel questioningly. As if to ask why he led her there. He scowled as Ana, Neu and Silver Cinder merely stared defensively at the crow. The crow figure hopped and fell slowly before them, revealing it was also a “she”. From the smaller distance it was also made clear that she had blonde hair...Which felt odd to Ana.
The crow lady cackled - she had a very hissy, wheezy voice.
“Sophie,” Squirrel told them. Ana hadn’t expected such a lovely name either. It was confusing.
“That’s me, baby!” She spurted with utmost defiance. She clenched her fists. “Time to die!” She hissed menacingly, as crows began flying down in the hundreds! They were Swooping and soaring, and all that could be heard was the aggressive bird calls and hissing.
Suddenly the presence of other dragons became apparent. Growls of pain echoed everywhere, as the bird attacked at a ratio of 50:1 - They pecked and scratched with their talons, taking turns to make sure they didn’t miss anyone. The worst part was that all they could do was curl up or flail their arms around hopelessly - It felt like the birds were untouchable! Flesh was torn and nipped at, but the pain couldn’t be concentrated on, as rocks and stones began sliding off the walls of the crevice. The sound was unbearably loud! Everything was shaking, and just as it felt, everything was about to collapse, there was an incredibly loud call of some sort.
It was Sophie. All of the birds stopped as it became silent. We were all breathing quite heavily, though. All but Squirrel and Carlena felt tears at the side of their eyes from the birds having scraped a fair amount of skin...Squirrel was covering his eye as if he’d been pecked there, Neu was hiding in a corner with his paws and arms scratched up...and yet Carlena looked fine. She stood confidently facing this woman with unreadable eyes.
“Give up…”Squirrel” She mocked. Carlena laughed. She had obviously heard of his fabulous new nickname. “ You’re never going to defeat T.N!” She declared.
“Ha! That’s what you think!” Carlena retaliated. “But with his new member, that’s just not the case!”
Ana smiled sheepishly, which felt slightly out of place. Squirrel and Carlena just scowled at Sophie.
“Well, it’s either that or my fleet will continue, everything that exists here will collapse, and you will DIE!” She spat.
“Including you.” Squirrel retorted smugly, without smiling. Sophie paused as her mask fell off, her face fell.
“No - well...I - I’d leave before that happens!” She said nervously as she retrieved the mask and put it back on suavely, regaining utmost confidence.
“Go ahead and try then!” Carlena challenged. Ana’s face twinged and fell. Even Sophie looked shocked. She shrugged it off, though.
“...Okay,” She dismissed. She called for the attack to start up again, and as it did, Squirrel, Neu, Ana and Silver Cinder turned to Carlena in desperation. She smirked and eyed the birds. As soon as they reached the level they were standing on, Carlen let out a massive cry;
“FIRE!” She screamed, and as soon as she did, the ground beneath them shook. Ana and Neu fell to the rumbling earth as large fireball dragons shot up through the rocks. Hundreds of dragons - some the size of Squirrel, some as big as Silver Cinder - charged ferociously at the crows, who instinctively took to the crust. The dragons went to bat and bite at the crows, but in the end, they were mercied by the dragons and not caught in the flames. However, they were completely shaken with fear as they flew out of the crevice like smoke from a volcano - going everywhere.
Sophie was already at the crust, having been carried by the larger birds. She stared mouth agape as the dark crows flew away from her at the speed of light. It was a large sight to see, and she found herself alone at the top. She sunk and looked up.
“What am I gonna do?!?!?!” Sophie mumbled nervously to herself as her mask fell off. Her eyes widened as she remembered that T.N had told her to never lose the crows. She hopped up frantically.
“Birdies!!! Hey!! WAAAAAAIIIITT!!” She screamed after them, stumbling as fast as her legs could go.
Carlena looked up the freshly crumbled walls of the crevice and through the, now extremely thick, fog. She eyed it aggressively at first, but her expression grew into a triumphant smile.
“We did it!” She cried as she rose her fist in the air. The hundreds of fiery dragons - that Ana guessed were Fire dragons - lifted themselves onto the their back legs in victory and let out proud roars. Carlena smirked and searched for the other dragon she had in mind for them. “Aha!” she exclaimed as she strided over to one of the smallest dragons there. It had black scales that looked like coal, and fire erupting over it’s chest and up it spine. It’s tail was a trail of orange flames and ears were like decorative candles.
It scowled and held itself in a haughty fashion. It seemed like a real fighter type dragon,
“This is Burning Aura,” Carlena began proudly, “ He is a great warrior and very trustworthy, however, only one can ride him at a time, and they have to wear this.” She told them with a smile as she pulled out a jar. Ana, Neu and Squirrel looked confused. It had yellow-y silver sand or dust like stuff inside of it. “Take this to The Safe, Kypto and Cresikle will make an outfit from it.”
“What is it?” Ana asked.
“The Safe is a special little place on the top of the world - not the North pole, the world is til-”
“She meant what’s in the jar.” Squirrel interrupted.
“Oh!” Carlena looked sheepishly at them and chuckled. “Stardust! Thousands of years ago, stars used to be tiny little meteoroids or planets, but they burnt out. For a decade there were odd showers of stardust that were collected by warlocks.” Carlena explained.
“Why would you need to wear stardust?”
“It’s heatproof, so Burning Aura’s heat won’t affect the rider.” Carlena looked down and smiled. “These are now yours, now! For I have entrusted them to you.” To this, Burning Aura saluted with his long arms and Silver Cinder danced around slightly. Ana coughed amazed as Squirrel nodded thankfully. Carlena put her hands on her hips. “Well, Goodbye! This air won’t do any good!” she exclaimed, turning to Ana. “And you...Good luck!” She smiled.
Ana nodded. Even though Carlene probably had no idea of the things Ana would be facing, she supposed it was a nice gesture. Carlena turned back to Squirrel and began explaining about how Burning Aura couldn’t be in the rain, how Silver couldn’t make fire and a bunch of other things about The Safe.
Ana would’ve listened in, but she was distracted with other nervous thoughts. Good luck. She’d only just realised that she might need it...She had to fight! Not only that, but she remembered of the strange creature called Teedey. He and Sophie both spoke of T.N...The “Nastiest” - which isn’t accurate.
“Squirrel?” Ana called. She was dismissed with a glare, and turned to Burning Aura who looked coldly on the world. Ana wondered what he was thinking and how he was feeling. She supposed sadly over the idea that he had never been hugged or even patted on the back.
She wanted to be the first.