Ice cold dread filled Zoltar’s body from horns to tail. What had they done to Felistia? Zoltar could feel the rage burning with inside him like a volcano about to explode. The Ice Talons must have ambushed Felistia as well.
It looked like she’d put up a better fight than him though, seeing that the massive dragoness had more than a few lashes on her snout, but it had cost Felistia dearly. She was hanging limp as a plant in a drought, her eyes shut and wings sagging. An ugly red gash streaked across her right flank adding to the smaller ones the Drilver had given her. It was deep and was bleeding badly. For a second Zoltar feared the worst, but then he realized that Felistia was still taking shallow breaths.
'She’s alive,’ Zoltar heaved a shaking sigh of relief and felt his tense muscles relax a bit, but deep inside he wanted to rip the Ice Talons limb from limb for hurting Felistia in such a way.
They flew for hours through the howling blizzard, the harsh snow sting Zoltar’s eyes and scales. Every now and then he would feel his captor adjust his grip, every time sending new spears of pain plunging into his shoulders.
How was he going to get out of this mess? His wings were bound to his sides and his jaw was clamped shut with scarcely enough room to speak.Even if he did manage to get his wings free somehow he was surrounded by a pack of Ice Talons; all trained soldiers. He’d never make it out on his own. Felistia was in no shape to fight and without her help he had no chance of finding his way out of this frozen landscape.
He glanced over at Felistia again. She was still out cold and the wound along her side was still leaking blood.
‘She needs help,’ Zoltar thought, cursing the fact that he hadn’t brought some herbs along with him. If he had some on him he’d be able to help her heal when he got a chance.
The Ice Talons were bond to throw them in prison as soon as they reached the heart of the Ice Talon Kingdom. At least if that happened he’d be able to tend to her wounds.
They’d probably be brought before the Ice Talon Queen though and be accused of trespassing. The very thought made his stomach churn like an acid lake.
He wasn’t sure what they’d charge Felistia with though. She was an outcast. How would the queen react to Felistia returning? Something like that had never happened before. Not that he knew of any instances anyway. What would the queen do to her? Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good.
Soon a new day arrived and the snow storm faded as the claws of a thin dawn broke over the white landscape. Spears of ice jutted out from the cracked ground, their tips as sharp as dragon fangs. The land seemed to be desolate at first, but after a little while Zoltar could make out the silver shapes of the wolf like Drilver dragons slinking across the tundra. Herds of woolly mammoths where dotted across the bleak land, their rumbling bellows echoing in the thin morning air. They seemed to cower and huddled closer together as the shadows of the pack of ice dragons passed over head.
Before long the land changed from the deserted plains of snow into sweeping mountains of sleek frozen rock. Caves covered the vertical cliffs, carved from mountain side by dragon claws. Ice Talons flew from one cave to another, trading fish for slabs of frozen meat. Dragonets played in the streets below, laughing as they chased one another through the soft blanket of snow.
Zoltar for a moment was hit by a wave of sadness as he passed overhead. It all looked so similar to the way the Shadow Lands had once been before the eruption.
The thought was fleeting however as he caught sight of the Ice Talon Palace ahead; a towering peak of solid ice looming over the land. A cavernous opening yawned from the side of the mountain like the jaws of a hungry beast. Heavy wooden doors hung from its sides, ready to close and trap all who entered. Small openings scarred the peak, serving what Zoltar could only imagine as windows, to let the harsh tundra sun into the depths of the palace.
As they neared, a lone Ice Talon emerged from the cliff side beside them, her silver armour glinting like fangs as she flew towards Zoltar and the group of Ice Talons.
The Ice Talon carrying Zoltar halted, barking a command to stop as he hovered, his powerful wings beating the air in the effort to stay aloft.
“Greetings, General, “He said to the lead Ice Talon as she approached.
“At ease Akull,” The older dragoness said, staring with cold eyes at Zoltar and Felistia, “What are these?”
“We found them inside the border. The Ice Talon was with the Shadow Talon. She has the mark, Veartar. She’s an outcast.”
Veartar nodded, “Put them below. I’ll let the Queen know.” She said, turning in the air and swooping back towards the mountain. She soon disappeared into one of the small cave-like holes in the mountain side.
Zoltar cringed with pain as his captor dipped into a shallow dive towards the palace opening, the movement causing Akull’s claws to sink deeper into his shoulders.
As he landed, Akull let go of his iron grip on Zoltar, sending him tumbling to the ground. He landed with a muffled thump as he hit the frozen ground outside the palace opening, the shock of the impact knocking the breath right out of him.
Zoltar lay there gasping for breath for a few seconds before Felistia dropped next to him, causing her to groan in pain as she smacked onto the hard ice. She slowly opened her eyes, blinking as the harsh sunlight momentarily blind her.
She looked around her with wild eyes, a flash of terror crossing her face when she saw the soldiers.
Breathing hard from the effort, Felistia gingerly got to her feet. Zoltar was afraid that she was going to fall back down and hobbled over as fast as his chains would let him to steady her wavering body.
“It’s okay. I can stand on my own,” Felistia grimaced as the soldiers approached them, the cruel, metal chains hanging from their necks clanging together like icicles.
“Come you two,” Akull growled, as he quickly loosened their chains enough for them to walk and attached a new chains to their muzzles to lead them.
Felistia shot Zoltar a frightened look as they were led across a frozen walk way into the palace, the heavy doors slamming shut behind them with a threatening boom.