Dragon - Chapter Seven

Dragon - Chapter Seven

A Chapter by Michelle_H


She tread lightly on the rough stone floor, keeping her distance from the warrior. In order to slip away unnoticed, she would first have to maintain silence as to not breach awareness once she was gone.

The woman led her through the winding stone tunnels, branching off at every turn. Elena tried to keep her focus, tried to remember which branches they had taken, how far they had walked, but it was becoming increasingly difficult as the course become ever intricate.

As they traveled further into the depths of the cave, torches began to appear on the walls lighting their passage. It was soon after that the branches become fewer, the tunnels less winding. It would appear that the Dragons had purposefully created a maze of confusion when leading to their personal chambers. A barrier of safety from any stranger who entered the cavernous dwelling.

Elena still followed silently, waiting for the moment when she could slip away quietly to seek her way out of the cave. Until now, she had been unable to see and was simply waiting for light to appear. Now that torches lit the way, she found that there was nowhere to slip away to. The tunnel had become narrow with few passageways branching off from the core.

As they neared the dining hall, she could hear the growing roar of conversation. Her heart thundered in her ears and she was sure the female could hear it. Her breathing quickened. The chance to escape was slipping through her fingers at a rapid pace.

She held back, creating more distance from the female and looked around. Surely there was somewhere she could slip away to. As they neared the large entrance to the dining hall, she could see the brightly lit room, the flock of men and women sitting about the tables. They were laughing, talking, and eating; enjoying themselves while she fought to escape them.

The entrance was now at hand and her ability to leave unnoticed was becoming slim. As she breached the entrance, she saw that there was a doorway to her left. The sounds of kitchen clatter rose from the doorway indicating the core of the dining hall. She could see the various men and women cutting, cooking, and flipping. Perhaps they would be too busy to notice her.

It was her only chance.

If anyone saw her, she would simply feign ignorance; she had lost her way.

Eliza was still walking towards the far end of the hall, leading her to the source of food. But before she could notice her absence, Elena slipped into the kitchens.

The sound of metal on stone, the searing heat from the ovens, the smell of meat and vegetables melding together in a roast was nearly overwhelming. Her mouth watered at the smell of the food, but she ignored the hunger pangs.

Crouching low, she crept along the wall of the kitchens. There was a table full of meats, vegetables, and knives in the far corner of the room that had become her target.

If she could make it to the far end of the room and hide behind the table, she could further scout the area to determine her next course of action. Pleased with the temporary plan, she quickly made her way to the table, ducking behind counter tops and equipment when necessary.

The small journey from the entrance of the kitchen to the corner was full of hazards as people bustled through the kitchens, flames jumped out of the ovens, and knives clanged to the floor in their hurry.

These people did not look like the dark haired, large men and women that made up the Stygian race. They were clothed in little more than rags, donned a combination of red and brown hair, and were only slightly taller than herself.

She did not tarry long in her assessment of the kitchen servants, however, but hurried along to the large table, hiding behind a large stove that stood off-center in the room. The heat from the stove blazed along her body as she crouched beside the large, black metal piece. The traffic was heavy in this area so she could not stay long before being seen.

A stretch of open space lied between herself and the table now. Ten yards of space, ten yards of danger. She took a deep breath, willing herself calm. She had made it this far and needed only to make it to the table before she was securely hidden.

She pushed off from the ground and all but ran to the temporary sanctuary. As she neared the table, she found that a small chamber led off from the kitchen. Instead of hastening behind the counter, she threw herself into the chamber, hurrying to get out of sight.

She pushed herself into the nearest, darkest corner, breathing deep, trying to calm her rapidly beating heart. She was sure someone had seen her, but as she listened for the tread of footsteps she relaxed; no one had come after her.

She assessed her new surroundings, looking around at the small stone chamber. It appeared to be some sort of pantry. Dried fruits, vegetables, meats and a various collection of spices and rices littered the shelves and floor of the small room.

She closed her eyes and breathed deep of the rich spices. It reminded her of home, of her family's kitchen. The cooks had always delivered the most succulent of meals, feasting her family with the richest meats, vegetables, and starches. Dinner had always been her favorite time of the day.

It was the only time when everyone had taken time from their seperate routines to gather together. She could hear the soft laughter of her sister, the low conversation at the end of the table from her father and mother. Her brother, always the charmer, as he spent the evening engaging with one or more of the local young women in conversation.

Her eyes stung at the memory, fear forcing an iron grip of misery around her throat. She had only been here less than a day and yet it had felt like a hundred. The fear, uncertainty, and lack of nature was slowly siphoning her energy, making her vulnerable.

She leaned back against the wall, suddenly feeling exhausted. She knew that she could not stay much longer in this cave, this mountainous wasteland. If she was ever going to have the strength to leave, she had to do it quickly.

A week without the strengthening presence of Azshara's sentient spirits and she would hardly be able to walk, let alone manage an escape from a Stygian fortress.

Who are you?” The small, high pitched voice spoke out of the darkness from the other end of the pantry and Elena jumped, startled at the sound.

She peered into the corner, straining her eyes to see the child that had spoken. The silhouette of the child's small frame became clearer as she stepped forward into the middle of the dimly lit room holding a large, brown bag of rice.

Ash smeared the cheeks of the pale girl while large green eyes looked at her curiously, framed by thick brown lashes. A bundle of curly red strands fell to her frail shoulders, the bag of rice a seemingly insurmountable burden for the boney girl. She couldn't have been more than seven and yet her eyes told the tale of years of labor. Her innocence lost to life as a servant.

Who are you?” The girl repeated herself, clearly feeling that Elena had not heard her.

She hesitated, unsure of what to do. She had not expected anyone to be in the pantry as there was little place to hide. Of course, she had not considered that there would be a child lurking behind the bags of rice.

I'm... Nora.” She wasn't sure who or what the child would tell so she maintained her earlier lie. She peered back at the girl, hoping nobody would notice the girl's absence and come looking for her. She had to get the her out of here and back to the kitchen before she gave Elena's presence away.

And yet, hurrying the child back to labor in the kitchens seemed somehow cruel. She sat in silence, uncertainty of the situation weighing heavily on her shoulders as she tried to find a way out of her current predicament.

Why are you sitting there? You don't look like a kitchen worker.” The girl stood before her, still holding her rice, still peering at her curiously. Clearly she was not going anywhere without answers.

I'm... I'm not. I am a servant to... Kane. He wanted me to get him some...” She looked around the pantry, thinking of what the Stygian's second-in-command could possibly want from the kitchen pantry, “...fruit.” She smiled at the child, hoping that she would buy into her facade.

Oh, well why didn't you say so.” The girl turned around and reached up on tip toe to grab a bundle of dried fruit. “Here, he likes these.” Elena looked down at the handful of dried peaches the girl had handed her, curious as to how she knew Kane's preference to fruit.

Shaking her head, she looked up to find the girl walking out of the pantry. She reached out and grabbed the girl's arm, an idea forming.

Wait, I... I'm new here and I don't know the way out. Could you tell me how to get to the front of the cave?”

The girl readjusted the weight of the bag in her arms and looked at Elena, pursing her lips. “Well, I have a lot of work to do here.” She paused, looking around at the kitchen, seemingly taking count of the various chores that needed completing. “But I guess I could help you. Just wait here and I'll be right back. The other workers don't like when strangers come into their kitchen.”

The girl walked off matter-of-factly, finishing her earlier chore.

Elena watched her walk off and began to wonder how long the girl had been working here. Surely she could not be any older than seven. She frowned, thinking that this was no life for a child.

The girl reappeared inside the pantry moments later and motioned for her to follow. “Okay, let's hurry. I can't be gone long.” The girl began walking towards the entrance into the dining hall as several pairs of eyes peered curiously at Elena; the servants glancing up briefly to frown at the stranger in their domain.

As they neared the dining hall, Elena could see Eliza scanning the room for her. Her absence had been noticed.

Suddenly realizing that she would soon be out in the open, she stopped and grabbed the shoulder of the girl. The child looked up and back at her, brows raised in question. She hastened to think of an explanation for her reluctance to step back into the dining hall before Eliza came looking for her in the kitchens. “I ummm... Kane didn't want anyone to see me coming in here. Is there a better way out?”

The girl frowned slightly, but nodded. “Through the back of the kitchens. There's a tunnel that will take you to the chambers.”

Elena looked up into the dining hall through a small opening above the stone sinks, Eliza was starting to head towards the kitchens. “Great, let's go that way.” She turned, pulling the child with her, willing her to move faster. If Eliza caught up with her, she would have to face Kane again and she wasn't sure she was up to the task.

The child picked up the pace, jogging to keep up with Elena's hurried steps. They had to manuever between servants, dodging flames as the oven spit hot coals in their wake. The servants cursed and shot glares of annoyance in their direction, but did not move to stop them. Elena walked faster as anxiety began to course through her, the impression of being hunted growing ever forceful.

Wait, through here.” The child pulled her sharply to the left and into an opening she had missed in her hurry to locate the exit. They had walked a mere fifteen yards when the light from the kitchens blended into the inky blackness of the cavern. Elena's breath caught in her throat, the darkness consuming her sense of direction.

I can't see.” She could hear the fear in her own voice and took deep, slow breaths to try and calm herself. She was at a vast disadvantage from the warrior chasing her, one that may very well be the difference between life and death.

Don't worry, I can.” And with that, the child began to lead her slowly through the winding caverns. Elena's mind raced as she reached out with her senses to listen for the heavy footfalls of Eliza. Several moments passed before she began to relax. She was out of danger for now, but she doubted it would last long.

With the danger no longer present, she returned to the task at hand; finding her way through the cavern. She strained her eyes in the darkness trying in vain to see ahead of her, but even the light-skinned child was naught but a shadow.

Are you Stygian?” Elena asked, curious as to how the child could see in the heavy darkness. She was sure that the servants did not belong to the dark race, but perhaps she was mistaken.

No, I am Cerisean.” She said no more, continuing her descent into blackness as Elena trailed behind.

I have never heard of Cerise. Is it far from here?” She spoke lightly, whispering in the still darkness. Afraid of peaking anyone's interest in the woman and child walking the cavern.

It's a small island in the Rimean Ocean. It is surrounded by ice and is very cold; much different than here. I'm not sure how far it is, but it can't be very close. I have not seen any ice or snow since I've been here.”

How long have you been here?” Elena's curiosity was piqued for the girl and her race of people that she had never heard of. She had always considered herself well-informed of Azshara and its inhabitants, but clearly there were lands unbeknownst to her.

Twenty years or so. I was brought here as a small child with my mother. My father and brothers were killed defending our island.” She spoke in unwavering nonchalance despite the mention of her deceased father and brother.

Elena's eyes grew wide in the darkness, shocked at the girl's presumed age and loss of her family. She was sure that the girl had been only a child. It seemed now that she was older than twenty years. “I'm sorry, that must have been very difficult.” She felt the girl's hand lift slightly in what she assumed was a shrug.

It has been a very long time and life here does not lend a lot of time to think over my losses.” The girl had been hardened by her life as a servant, Elena mused, saddened for the girl.

She frowned slightly as they walked, wondering if there was any way she could help, but almost laughed. She, herself, was a prisoner in a Stygian fortress, how could she possibly help anyone else? She shook her head at the ludicrousness of her thoughts, but resolved herself to helping the girl in any way that she could.

They had entered into an area of the cave where the air was warm and she could almost feel the pulsing heat of Stygian bodies in the surrounding area. They were in the hallways surrounding the chambers now. Still, she continued the conversation. At the moment, learning of the girl seemed essential. There was more to her than she had originally thought.

For the time being, she would keep her mind occupied with learning of the Cesirean race. If she allowed herself to delve into silence, she feared that her own terror would choke her.

You said that you have been here twenty years. Forgive me, but I had assumed you were a child.”

She heard the girl laugh softly before responding, “Yes, the Stygians believed that as well. It has saved me from many harsh punishments in the past.” She paused and Elena wondered if the girl was thinking back to her early days as a Stygian servant. “It is only that our race ages very slowly. I will be thirty years soon and will not acquire an adult appearance for another ten years or so.”

Elena opened her mouth to comment on the extraordinary agelessness of her race. Though she was well accustomed to her own people living well into their third century, she had never heard of one's physical appearance being delayed for so many decades.

But before she could say anything further, the shuffle of leather boots against the dusty stone floor came within hearing rang. “Someone's coming,” she said in hushed tones even as she pulled back on the girl's hand seeking a means of escape.

The girl stayed quiet and Elena wondered if she had heard her, but then the girl turned and began walking in another direction. Elena was still helpless in the blackness of the tunnel and had no other choice but to blindly follow the girl in hopes that she led them to safety.

They walked for what seemed like twenty yards before stopping. The girl was still quiet beside her and Elena wondered if she was just as afraid as she was. “Are you allowed to leave the kitchens?”

No.” The response was quiet and swift, but Elena could feel the fear that pulsed through the tiny frame beside her.

Elena wanted to apologize for bringing danger to the girl, but remained silent in fear of being heard from the Stygians walking through the halls. She could no longer hear their footsteps and wondered if they had passed through the main hallway already. Moments passed before the Cesirean began walking back into the direction they had come from.

Still in hushed tones Elena asked something that she had been holding in for the past few minutes, “Why are you risking yourself for me?”

I have tried escaping several times and have failed on every occasion.” A pregnant pause before she continued, “But maybe you will have a better chance than I ever did.”

They turned to the right and Elena assumed they were back in the main hallway, the sounds of shuffled feet no longer present.

Elena was speechless. Not only at the fact that the girl was so selflessly helping her, but that she knew she was a prisoner here. A minute passed before she managed to ask, “How did you know?”

You are Elvori, correct?”

Elena frowned, wondering at the girl's knowledge of her race, “Yes.”

I am well aware of the war waging between your race and the Stygians. I have also never seen anyone that resembles you. I assumed you were Elvorian when I first saw you and the fact that you were hiding in the pantry only confirmed my suspicions.”

They had come into an area of the cave, now, where the air was thin and cold against her bare arms and feet. Her light gown was torn at the legs and left her feeling vulnerable as an icy chill reached out with frosted fingers.

We're almost there.” The girl said quietly as she pulled Elena behind her.

Why is it so cold?” Elena asked as she hugged her free arm around her. She had thought that the baren wasteland housed only the elements of fire.

There is a river that runs across this entrance and filters the hot air that runs above it, turning it cool. With the absence of sunlight, the air grows cold and stagnant.” Elena nodded, ignorant to the mechanics of a cavern, but took her word for it.

But despite the cold, hope blossomed in her chest. They were close to the entrance of the cave. Even as the thought came to mind, a dim white light appeared in the distance.

The girl picked up the pace, clearly as eager as Elena was to reach the exit. It was fifty yards away now and Elena's heart beat which each hurried step she took. Elena wanted to run, to reach the exit as fast as possible, but the possibility of someone hearing them was still a very real and present threat.

The sound of rushing water filtered in as they reached the last fifteen yards of the cave, the river becoming a living, breathing spirit in the face of the lifeless cavern. Elena took in slow, deep breaths of the moist air, thickened by the pungent smell of moss.

Life. Clear, viable, radiant life. It lived in the trickle of moss that hugged the rocky edges of the river, breathing life into the organisms that fed on its vegetation. It moved through the water, its verdant fingers dancing with the flow of the river.

And it filled Elena with strength. It was small and scant, but it gave her strength nonetheless. She could feel the sentient vegetation's energy pulsing through her. It was a weak form of energy in comparison to the force of energy she found in Azshara's wildlife and forestry, but it would keep her stronger for a little while longer.

She wasn't sure when she would encounter a sentient spirit again.

The white light filled the narrow space of the cavern's exit and Elena narrowed her eyes at the shock of light. She put her hand up to shade herself even as the girl let go of her free hand. Her guide no longer a necessity in the lighted entrance of the cave.

She walked forward and braced her arms on either side of the cave entrance's stone walls and looked out into the baren mountainous wasteland that breathed fire with every pulse of her own heart. This was not the entrance she had originally entered. She looked out at the rocky terrace before her and began calculating the direction she would head in.

Her concentration broke when she turned at the sound of bare feet on stone only to see that her guide was heading back into the stygian darkness of the cavern.

© 2012 Michelle_H

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Sorry...this chapter is too long. too much build up here....some of this should be eliminated to make the story move along quicker...

Posted 9 Years Ago

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Added on March 16, 2012
Last Updated on March 20, 2012
Tags: romance, fantasy, novel, dragon, elf, love



Fort Campbell, KY

I'm 21, from the Bay Area, California and I love to write :) I'm currently a student as well as an Independent Scentsy Consultant. more..