• Home

Young Writers Society

12+ Violence

Shadow's Rising {Wing 3} Chapter 3

by dragonight9


This chapter might be hard to read as it briefly describes torture. Reader discretion is advised.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter 3

Just after supper Black Squad made their way into the tunnels where the riderless dragons were kept. They checked to make sure no one was around, then entered the cave at the far end of the tunnel.

Smolder had once told Jarid where the dragon tamers kept the key to the big door. He had seen one of them hide it under a loose floorboard in the tool shack. Now Jarid pried up the floorboard and there was the key.

It sat cold and heavy in his hand as he brought it out. He barely ever noticed the door near the back of the cave when he was cleaning, but now it loomed before him like a giant impenetrable barrier.

There was a loud “Clack” as he slid the key into the door and turned to unlock it. The door let out a foreboding groan as it opened, as if it was warning them to turn back. Still, they had come for a reason, and they weren’t about to stop here.

Behind the door was a long dark corridor that turned sharply to the left at the end. A dark red glow came from around the corner and, after closing the door softly behind them, they swiftly made their way to the corner and peaked around it. The corridor opened into another cave. This one was bigger than the one they’d come from but smaller than the dragon dome.

The red glow came from torches lining the walls and a large fire set in an alcove on the far end of the cave. Silhouetted in the fire was a table and three men picking through the tools strewn across it. Strange, spiked chains and whips covered the walls like some kind of showcase of pain. Near the walls on the right side were a variety of massive devices. Probably for torturing dragons or holding them in place. On the left was a row of massive cages. The light from the fire made it hard to make out anything on the far side of the room though.

Jarid saw there was a little space behind the device just inside the entrance where he could sneak around to get a better view. He turned to the others and whispered.

“I need to get closer to make out what’s going on. I’m going to sneak around the right side of the room using these torture devices for cover. I’ll let you know what I find out.”

Airel nodded and Steven looked solemn, but the others were staring into the room with shock, and Felicia’s face was pale as a sheet. Jarid had been expecting something like this, but it must have been quite shocking to them.

Then he slid inside the room and behind the closest device. It was some kind of spiky harness with green gems set into the metal. Jarid thought it strange to adorn such an ugly machine but that didn’t matter. He slowly made his way around the room, pausing whenever the men at the table went to grab something or shouted at their companions. He couldn’t hear what they were saying but they didn’t seem to enjoy being there.

It hot. Oppressively so. It reminded him of working the bellows at his father’s forge. He kept making his way along the wall towards the fire until the blaze was no longer blinding him. Now he could make out the last few cages lining the wall next to the fire. The bars were thick, and some had spikes sticking out of them.

In one of the cages nearest to the fire Jarid could make out the form of Vapor lying of the floor of her cage. She had a muzzle made of leather with a large green gem set into it so that it rested on her forehead. She seemed to be chained in every way possible with those spiked chains.

Jarid continued making his way around the room until he was close enough to her cage to hear her labored breathing. She seemed to be asleep, but her breath was ragged. He knew the heat must be unbearable for her. She was a Storm Wing, not a Flame Wing, but he doubted the torturers cared.

She also had many cuts and bruises all over her body. The sight of her injuries made Jarid feel sick to his stomach. He didn’t want to try contacting her in case the dragon trainers heard him, so he started to turn back to tell the others what he’d seen.

“Is that her?” someone whispered right next to him.

It took all Jarid’s willpower not to yelp if fright. He looked back the way he came and saw the rest of black squad crouching in the shadows.

“She doesn’t look too good,” Airel continued.

“I told you to wait for me at the door,” Jarid hissed quietly. Airel shrugged.

“We are a squad, remember. We don’t just sit there while our leader goes into danger.”

Jarid was about to argue when one of the men at the table grabbed a tool and started towards Vapor’s cage. Everyone quickly shuffled back to make room as Jarid squeezed into the shadows behind the machines. They peered through gaps in the machine to watch as the man came up to the cage.

Jarid didn’t recognise the tool the man was carrying. It looked like a pole with two hooks and a half hoop in the middle. The man threw open the cage and slid the pole over Vapor’s head. The hooks caught on her horns while the half loop rested on the back of her neck, keeping her from moving her head.

“Time for some more training girl. We’ll make sure you know who’s in charge of who from now on.”

He heaved on Vapor’s head, and she stumbled out of the cage whimpering. Then he led her to the middle of the room while one of his companions brought one of the devices from the side of the room. They quickly strapped her in as she cried with fear.

She was suspended with ropes a few inches off the floor, completely unable to move. Then the second man put on what looked like a rider’s helmet with a larger than normal green gem set into the brow. He touched the gem on his helmet to the one in Vapor’s muzzle and climbed on her back. She seemed to go strangely silent. Then she shook her head and growled in protest. As soon as she did, the first man took a club from the table and started beating her until her cries quieted.

Jarid wanted to cry, scream, blast them with fire, tear them of his friend and comfort her, but he knew that if they were discovered it would probably mean getting expelled. He wasn’t about to do that to his friends after they had worked so hard to get here.

The man riding Vapor reached forward and placed a hand on the green gem once again, and once again Vapor went still for a moment. Then she groaned and struggled against her bonds. The third man selected a metal whip and joined his companions. Vapor went limp. Her head hung down and tears ran down her snout as she readied herself for the next beating. The whip went back, but just as he was about to strike, the man was thrown back off his feet. The man with the club barely had time to react before the ground underneath him cracked open and he fell into a small hole, his arms pinned to his sides.

Jarid had been so focused on what they were doing to Vapor that he hadn’t noticed Steven and Ben sneaking closer until they had leapt out to attack.

“Well now. Picking on defenceless dragons are we? Wow, you must be soooo proud beating them while they’re all chained up like that.” Steven said, his voice thick with sarcasm. “You make me sick.”

Jarid, Airel, Ethen and Felicia left their hiding place and stood beside Steven.

“Why would you do that? You know what’ll happen to us now, right?” Airel said scathingly.

Steven shrugged. “I guess so, but when I saw how much it hurt Jarid to be forced to watch that, I couldn’t help myself. Besides they really deserved it. Even if dragons were only animals, no living creature should be treated that way. Even more so knowing what Jarid told us about them.”

Ben nodded in agreement. “What they are doing is unacceptable and knowing how much dragons mean to him, there was no way we could just sit idly by and make him watch.”

Jarid couldn’t believe they’d jumped out to save a dragon for his sake! He felt warmth and gratitude filling him but also the need to protect them from whatever punishment was coming their way. He stepped out to the front of the group to meet the retribution he knew was coming.

The man who had been riding on Vapor’s back dismounted calmly and removed the helmet he had been wearing, setting it to the side.

Now he stood before them with his arms crossed. Jarid had been expecting the man to be furious and either attack them on the spot, threaten to inform the academy commander, or both. But he just waited for Jarid to step forward.

“What is your squad and flight? Who is with you, and why are you here? Lying will only make things worse so don’t test me boy,” He asked in a commanding tone that brokered no argument.

Jarid almost jumped to attention with a “yes sir.”

Keep it together Jarid. You can’t just accept the punishment this time. Yeah. For the sake of Black Squad. I must convince him not to expel us.

Jarid took a deep breath. “We are from Black Squad. I am Jarid, flight leader, and these are the other members of my flight: Airel, Ben, Felicia, Ethan, and Steven. We came here because I noticed that dragon was missing,” He said gesturing to Vapor. “And I wanted to see what was happening to her. She is a good dragon, and I can’t let you keep hurting her.”

There was a large cracking sound and the man Ben had trapped in the floor suddenly burst out in a cloud of dust.

“I’d like to see you try kid. There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ dragon!” He snarled, but before he could do anything else, the man who Steven had blown off his feet grabbed his arm and dragged him off to one side of the room.

“Just let Brom handle this. You need to cam down.”

The man, Jarid now knew was named Brom, uncrossed his arms watching them go, then he sighed.

“My name is Brom. No need for formalities. I am the head dragon trainer. I know what we’re doing seems cruel but it’s the only way to make sure that the dragons will submit to their rider. Their will must be broken before we can condition them to obey our commands. It’s the same with any other wild animal. The reason no one is allowed to see this is precisely because you are too young to understand what we’re doing.”

“But dragons aren’t just dumb animals or monsters. They can be ridden without the need to break them,” Jarid argued.

Brom shook his head. “I wish that were true, but it just isn’t possible.”

Jarid suddenly had an idea. “What if I could prove it to you?”

Brom looked at him suspiciously. “How?”

“Quite simple actually.” Jarid explained. “I’ll have one of the members of my squad choose her,” He said pointing to Vapor.

“The dragon choosing ceremony is only three days away, right? So, if this dragon obeys a member of my squad just as well as any other dragon at the ceremony, despite her not being broken in, then that proves you don’t need to break a dragon to tame and ride it.”

Brom stroked his chin for a moment. “Very well, I’ll accept you’re challenge. If you can prove to me that you can tame this dragon by the time of the choosing ceremony, I’ll reconsider my opinion. I may even forgive you for trespassing in this area.

“If you fail, however, not only will you be putting a member of your squad in danger, but I will personally make sure you are severely punished. Being expelled is far from the worst punishment I could arrange for you. Are you all willing to take that risk?”

Jarid nodded and the rest of Black Squad affirmed the decision.

“Very well, but if you want to make this deal with me you and your squad must promise me two things. First, should you fail, you must accept the punishment and admit to your wrongdoing without resistance. Second, no matter the outcome, none of you will speak of what you witnessed here today.”

Jarid nodded and stuck out his hand. “Agreed, but in return you must guarantee that no more harm will come to that dragon until after the dragon choosing ceremony.”

Brom shook his hand. “No need to worry. I’ll have her returned to her cage in the tunnel by morning.”

Jarid only hoped he could convince Vapor to follow one of his squad mate’s orders after everything she’d been through.

“May I at lest try to comfort her a bit before we leave?” Jarid asked. Brom glanced at Vapor before nodding. He went over to his companions, presumably to inform them of what had been decided.

Jarid cautiously walked up to Vapor, who now lay limply in her bonds with her eyes closed. He gently put a hand on the muzzle covering her snout. She flinched and opened her eyes.

“What?” She growled in amazement through the muzzle. “What are you doing here?” Fresh tears began rolling down her cheeks.

Jarid smiled compassionately and whispered in dragon so no one else could hear.

“Me and my friends came looking for you. I’m so sorry about what they’ve done. I made a deal with the men who were hurting you, so they won’t do it again. If they do, I’ll break their noses.” He rubbed the scales on her neck, and she nuzzled into his hand.

It’s so amazing how two dragons can go through the same torture and have such different reactions. Smolder hides his pain behind anger and pride, but Vapor seems sad more than anything else . I can’t treat them the same way. Then again, it’s not like any two humans are the same either.

Either way, he would protect them both for as long as he could. Jarid scratched Vapor behind her horns and whispered.

“I’ve got to go for now, but I’ll come see you again tomorrow, and I’ll bring my friends with me. I can’t wait for you to meet them.” Vapor did her best to smile even as she trembled with fear.

“I’ll see you then. And you’re friends too.”

Jarid smiled sadly, then got up and joined Black Squad. The other two dragon tamers frowned at them as Brom led them back to the entrance.

As they closed the door Jarid watched until the last drop of bloody red light was cut off. He wouldn’t be able to tell anyone about the horrible things he’d seen in that cave, but he’d remember them for the rest of his life.

You can earn up to 402 points for reviewing this work. The amount of points you earn is based on the length of the review. To ensure you receive the maximum possible points, please spend time writing your review.

Is this a review?



User avatar
275 Reviews

Points: 50546
Reviews: 275

Wed Apr 17, 2024 6:45 pm
View Likes
RavenAkuma wrote a review...

Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

Oof, I can see why you warned me after the last review. This chapter was brutal! If I wasn't desensitized to gore/torture themes (I swear I'm sane lol), I'd have found it hard to read. Naturally, that is not to say it was bad at all. The torture of this poor dragon did amp up tensions and heighten the stakes in this story, it added to the emotional impact of the situation, and it put more anticipation into the deal they made with Brom. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

I have nothing to put in this section today! Good writing job ~

Why The Grin Widened...

You did a great job building up the atmosphere and the environment, from the more obvious things like the many tools in the torture chamber to more sensory things like the uncomfortable amount of heat. Then, with the characters, you did a great job at showing things like the callousness and desensitization of the dragon trainers, the repressed eagerness to help the suffering dragon from Jarid, the struggle to resist being broken from Vapor, and even the urge of Black Squad to help their leader.

Likewise, I find one thing about this conflict very interesting in particular, and this showed it well:

Keep it together Jarid. You can’t just accept the punishment this time. Yeah. For the sake of Black Squad. I must convince him not to expel us.

I was thinking from Wing 1 that Jarid would have trouble in this academy, specifically regarding the way dragons are treated here, and I thought he may be pushed to act on it. But now that he's gotten so attached to Black Squad, his own desire to help the dragons is forced to become an afterthought. The conflict here is interesting to think about, and where it could possibly lead in the future.

Anyway, moving on to the swift intervention, the attitude toward dragons was once again put on display well enough.

“I’d like to see you try kid. There’s no such thing as a ‘good’ dragon!” He snarled,

Whether that's cope or genuine belief, it definitely shows how this kind of torture is possible. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Brom was willing to hear Jarid out and be reasonable, even to the point of letting him comfort the scared dragon. Likewise, I love the deal that was struck between them:

“The dragon choosing ceremony is only three days away, right? So, if this dragon obeys a member of my squad just as well as any other dragon at the ceremony, despite her not being broken in, then that proves you don’t need to break a dragon to tame and ride it.”

Yes! Not only is this a relief, a way to save Vapor from any more of this treatment, but it does instill hope that some minds will be changed if/when Jarid is successful. And Vapor is a good candidate since she's a more cooperative and trusting soul (I'd have more worries if they were relying on Smolder, haha).

Speaking of Smolder...

Smolder hides his pain behind anger and pride, but Vapor seems sad more than anything else . I can’t treat them the same way. Then again, it’s not like any two humans are the same either.

I really liked this line. After seeing so much sub-human treatment of dragons, it's just great to see the idea being reinforced, and these dragons make a great example of it.

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, awesome chapter, nicely done! :D


dragonight9 says...

I was honestly so excited to hear your thoughts on this chapter.

I don't know why I enjoy showing the depths of human depravity but I tried to keep the actual torture to a minimum. The build up for this was one of the most fun things to write in my story thus far.

I plan to use the threat of more torture as a driving force for the next few chapters but I'm not sure if the threat fades over time. So if you feel like tension has been lost due to the reader not having this fresh in their minds, please let me know.

Though I now realise that this may put some unintended pressure on you.
I'd much prefer that you simply enjoy my story rather than worry about all the details, so don't worry about it too much.

As always, thanks so much for reviewing and have a wonderful day/night!

RavenAkuma says...

That's a good motivating factor for sure! Also, I feel no pressure at all. It actually helps to know if there's anything you want me to focus on in reviews, so don't feel shy if you want to ask.

And no problem! ^^

Everything has a consequence and every consequence leads to death.
— kattee