Chapter 14! Yes! LOL..sorry, I am just really happy I finished it...it took a really long time as you guys can probably tell. But here it finally is! Let me know what you think! Enjoy please!

Thanks to my chappie 13 reviewes: FoxyWriter, Luna Swanrita Bonita, Kyllex of Darkness, and iflip4dolphins!!!!!!!!!

Summary: ...a terrifying ordeal...


Chapter 14

The Shaft

"I confess. I thought capturing you would be much more… challenging. In truth, I am…disappointed," drawled the Shaft as he surveyed the bound and muzzled dragon before him, much as he would consult an object worth purchasing. The dragon growled deep in her throat, her eyes blazing. She itched to engulf this hated creature in fire, to watch him suffer just a fraction as much as all those whose lives he had destroyed.

"No doubt your little girl is going to lead a rescue once she finds out you are here…and a pathetic one at that too," he snickered. "We'll be ready and then I'll have both of you begging for mercy. Me? Merciful? Ha!" His eyes glittered in hateful laughter at the mere thought.

Not if I can help it! Spat Aurora in her mind, the only part of her at the moment that was free. She struggled even more against the chains, desperately trying to break lose. Somehow she needed to warn Kenna away, to make her go on without her. She knew there was little hope of that. The girl was foolhardy in times of danger and would give up her life in an attempt to break Aurora free. If Kenna were to be captured everything would fail.

"There is no use struggling you stupid beast; those chains are reinforced with magic, Shaft magic, something I know for a fact you are powerless against. Soon everything and everyone will be at my disposal, once Dark Light is mine nothing will be able to stand in my way. I will have the very control of darkness in my hands…" A guard suddenly appeared out of the dark, crawling inch by inch on the ground, a gesture of submission and groveling. "Get up!" hissed the Shaft, kicking the soldier in the shoulder. The man did not even whimper just pushed himself to his feet and snapped at attention. "What is so important you had to interrupt my thinking?" he asked menacingly.

Speaking in clipped tones the soldier said, "Sir the prisoner is now ready for questioning!" The Shaft snarled quietly.

"You came here to tell me that? I was in the middle of something. Start the questioning yourself!" With a flick of his finger the soldier was blown back into the darkness landing with a thud some ten feet away.

"Now where was I?" he asked himself quietly. "Oh yes! Capturing the girl's father was first, I knew she wouldn't leave him behind, but you were craftier than I thought and those bumbling idiots I use apparently aren't smart enough to handle a mere girl. When she left him behind I must admit I was slightly surprised, but I quickly got over it. Her father obviously wasn't a big enough nerve to touch, it needed to be something that she could not go on without and that just happened to be you beast." He cackled and the sound made Aurora flinch, but she urged him on quietly. Keep talking you foul creature, let me know what you're planning, you'll soon regret it. "Her father gave me some idiotic story about you heading east, but he was sadly mistaken in testing me. You never lie to me. And so getting you was the next step and now it's the girl's turn. Once she is mine I won't be needing you anymore!" He leered, his face contorting into a vicious mask of hatred and triumph.

A confused shout came out of the darkness, something was wrong in the heart of the camp. "What could they have done now, all they were doing is guarding a prisoner. How hard can that be?" he hissed angrily, an entire snake's worth of venom contained in those few words. Snatching Aurora's chains he squeezed hard and let go whispering, "Enjoy your last few days dragon, you won't be seeing much more."

Aurora watched in horror as a red coil wrapped itself around the chains and spread to each of the metal links that bound her feet and muzzle. Suddenly the chains began blazing hot and burned into the dragon's flesh. Roaring in agony on the inside, Aurora writhed in place trying to escape the paining sensation, breathing heavily when it passed minutes later.

Aurora was furiously trying to work out a plan. She couldn't break the chains and she couldn't let Kenna get captured. For the umpteenth time Aurora wondered how she could have possibly gotten caught. Why hadn't she stayed alert? How could she have melted into such a calm sense of security when she knew there had been danger lurking in the shadows?

Replaying the scene again in her head, Aurora looked for a flaw, a reason why she hadn't heard them coming. She saw herself in the middle of the valley, dozing, a small piece of her mind scanning the area for danger while her body rested from the wearing days of before. But, even half asleep her ears would have picked up their footsteps from half a mile away, the sound of their whispering voices, their weapons dragging through the prairie grass. Had the Shaft put a spell on her, something to keep her dreamy and slow? She wondered. The next thing she had known was being surrounded by a dozen of his slaves, more than twenty chains shooting up and over her. She had struggled valiantly to bring them down, but soon they had gotten weights on her wings and a steel muzzle over her mouth bringing her crashing to the earth. Then they had sedated her with a poison, something to keep her weak, docile like a pet, while only two of their numbers had been claimed by her claws.

Now there were guards posted along the road to Forshay. If Kenna were to step a mere ten yards out of the city, they would be upon her in seconds. How could she warn the girl away from this precluded arrangement? She could not communicate with the girl without alerting the Shaft. Plan after plan raced fervently around her head, but all were buried when Aurora could see they would all fail. They would all be captured, with no one to help them this time.

Aurora was about to give away to this thought when something crashed into her like an avalanche. The Shaft did not seem to know about Nomel. If Kenna was to be captured, Nomel could help; that is if he wasn't chained as well. Nomel might be able to free them all. It wasn't much to hold onto, but it was the only hope Aurora had.

-0-

"Aurora!" Kenna whispered fearfully. "No!" She stood up abruptly, her chair falling to the ground with a clatter that resounded in the silent room. Something hot and cruel squeezed her abdomen and made her breath come in gasps. "Nomel we need to find her! We need to help her!" Kenna cried. Making a few faltering steps towards the door; Kenna looked back incredulously when the donileel didn't move.

"Nomel!" sobbed Kenna.

"Kenna wait," said Gretta softly, laying a firm hand on her shoulder. "They are waiting to ambush you on the road. You mustn't leave yet."

"Aurora is in trouble!" shouted Kenna, shrugging off the woman's grasp. "My father has already been captured by that monster! And I am supposed to sit back and watch while Aurora is tortured by him as well?"

"Kenna that isn't the point at this moment. Aurora can handle herself; the Shaft is merely using her as a tool to get to you," pleaded Gretta. Kenna bit her lip, but involuntarily kept continuing towards the door.

"Listen to her!" urged Nomel, "Kenna we need to think before we go rushing into the dark, remember what happened last time?" Kenna's brow furrowed as she looked at the pair teaming against her, but still her mind would not change. Her heart would not let Aurora suffer her pain.

"Fine," she said quietly, "I'll go myself." She began to storm towards the door.

"No!" cried Nomel and Gretta in unison. Even Melanee was up now though she said nothing and blankly watched the scene unfold. The donileel snatched her wrist and tugged her away, growling with the strain, while the old woman hobbled over to the door and locked it.

"I forbid you to go out there!" snapped Gretta turning around, "You need to think before you act! I would have thought you of all people would know that." The old woman's eyes were flashing angrily now and her hands shook.

"You are neither my parent nor my guardian and so you don't have control over me or my actions," replied Kenna quietly, though deep down she felt guilty for speaking those words.

Gretta shook her shock of white hair over her shoulder and placed her hands on her hips as she stood firmly between the struggling girl and the door.

"Be that as it may, it still doesn't mean I can't make you sit and listen to what I have to say for two minutes."

Kenna sat back in the chair and attempted to cross her arms across her chest in the only action of stubbornness and determination that the situation would allow, but Nomel still had his jaws clamped carefully but tightly around her wrist. She gave him a look and cleared her throat, but still her did not let go and whined a little.

"I think your friend wants you to agree not to go rushing off until you hear the logical side to the problem," said Gretta. Nomel nodded, shaking her arm all the while.

"All right, all right, I will stay until Gretta is done speaking." She spoke directly to Nomel who looked right back at her for a full minute and then let go saying nothing and turning to pay attention the old woman. Though Kenna had agreed to his demand, she could still see Nomel glancing at her from the corner of his eye. "Now what would you like to tell me?" she asked turning back to Gretta and this time fully crossing her arms.

"Though you have not encountered a Shaft directly you know in part how his mind works. He probably went to great lengths to capture Aurora and he wouldn't have taken that risk unless he really needed your dragon under chains. Aurora is being used as bait to get you to come of your own will so he doesn't have to lift a finger and better yet, not announce to the entire kingdom he is on the rise to power. Now I am not saying freeing Aurora is not important because it is by all means, but it is also important that you just don't go rushing into a perfectly set trap. You need to plain something the Shaft wouldn't expect so you have the element of surprise."

"And would you happen to have any suggestions?" asked Kenna, trying to keep some of the anger out of her voice.

"Yes, actually I do, well Melanee and I do," she chuckled softly, "The Shaft does not know about us and therefore he does not know I have a back way out of the city; no one does, so I must ask you to keep that a secret too. Anyway, by using that you will avoid the hordes of guards he has posted along the main roads. You'll need to take a round-about way and hopefully avoid his other sentries and ours as well. While our guards are not very dangerous, people really aren't supposed to be out of the city after dark. If they spot you, you will most likely be brought back for questioning and that would not be in your best interest. After that, well, it depends on where Aurora is being held. However, in our vision it looked like she was chained on the outside of the encampment seeing as she would probably reek havoc within the center, but that could help you. The decisions are yours, but you need to make them wisely."

Kenna's anger was cooled by now, but her heart beat faster as the full concept of their plan came into her mind. Now that she was calm enough to understand how much was at stake, it overwhelmed what her shoulders were able to hold. Gretta clapped her hands once in the silence as the plan was finalized and apparently settled by everyone's silence.

"Now we may leave."

"We?" inquired Kenna.

"Yes we. You'll need me to show you the way out of the city. I may be old but I am not useless. Now let's go."

It was a few more minutes before the trio actually left the cottage. Gretta had to tuck Melanee into bed comfortably then lock and double-lock the windows and door before she led them back down the pitch-black alley.

Kenna could not tell if the winding path they took was the same as the one they had taken to Gretta and Melanee's cottage, but this time they ended up at a solid brick wall rather than the city square. The girl and donileel could not see how this was a back way out of the city, but then Gretta reached into the indentations between a set of bricks and twisted one completely around. A slight creak echoed and then a door opened in front of them and Kenna understood. The door was painted over with bricks to give it the appearance of a solid, impenetrable wall.

"Your future is on the other side of that door child," said Gretta softly, looking up through her long eye lashes. "Be careful, my hope goes with you and Nomel as do the rest of the kingdom's.

"Thanks Gretta…for everything," whispered Kenna, stooping to give the old woman a hug.

"You are most welcome," she replied as the pair turned to slip out the door.

"And Kenna…" Kenna let Nomel go through and turned to look over her shoulder as the old woman began to disappear into the darkness, "there is such thing as controlling your destiny."

-0-

Just like through all the similar nights and battles that followed, Nomel and Kenna walked together, side by side, through the unfamiliar darkness. From behind, it may have looked like an artists' painting of a girl and her best friend walking through a meadow as care-free as could be. But the reality was the danger was real, time was moving forward, and the two could very well be walking to the end of their lives.

The long grass whispered against their legs, telling them to turn back. The cold wind pressed against their faces and the frosty light of the stars lit their unchanging path. No moon was to be seen. They had walked for almost twenty minutes when the camp finally came into sight. Kenna stopped as she stared angrily at those flickering torches that signaled the Shaft, the very opposite of existence, was only a few hundred yards from them. She took a deep, slow breath and let it out, watching it sparkle like star dust in the cold meadow. Nomel, who just noticed Kenna was no longer with him, looked back worried.

"What's wrong Kenna?" he asked trotting back and sitting by her side. Leaning down so she could speak quietly in his ear Kenna said, "Nomel…I just want you to know that what ever happens, you have been one of the best friends I have ever had." Tears sprung to her eyes, but she blinked them back, wanting to move on before her knees became too weak to continue. She hugged him hard, her face burying in his furry shoulder. His paw came around to circle her back, in the only hug he could really give.

"Kenna you're talking as if…" he couldn't finish the sentence. She sighed and let go of his shoulder meeting his troubled eyes.

"Nomel you know that has been a big possibility ever since we knew what was chasing us, it is even more so now. But you need to know that I could never have done any of this without you."

"The same goes for me," he said quietly and Kenna just chuckled and pushed herself to her feet once more. The two stood for a few moments, waist high in the frosted grass looking back on how they had become such close friends in such dangerous times. After the silence, they continued warily until they were within earshot of the camp. Their bodies pressed low to the ground, they crept agonizingly closer to the edge of the tents, Kenna raising her head just a few inches to look for Aurora. Suddenly a shout went up from one of the sentries and the girl and donileel pressed themselves into the soft earth trying not to move, their hearts beating wildly. Tense moments followed, but nothing and no one came to search the surrounding area and so they moved one.

Mere feet away from the farthest tent, Kenna dared to raise her head again to look for the dragon, but still she could not see her, not even on the other side of the encampment. Were they too late to save her? Had the Shaft already cast the dragon aside in fury? Shaking her head, Kenna knew she could not think that. Aurora was here, and they were going to find her. Wondering if Aurora could hear her if she spoke with her mind, she attempted to call out softly.

"Aurora, where are you?" She strained to hear above the rising wind, hoping the dragon would answer and they weren't already too late.

Suddenly there was a distant roaring in her mind and Kenna felt her hope soar again, but what she felt was blood-chilling fear in the dragon's words, "KENNA NO!"

A blinding light and a tremendous bang blew Kenna and Nomel backwards so that both of them landed on the opposite side of the field winded and crumpled in the cold grass. Kenna gasped for the breath that had been wrenched from her lungs and she struggled to sit up and see if Nomel was all right. The grass around her began to twist and snake around her ankles and wrists and before she realized what was happening it was too late and she was bound. Another strand of the spindly vegetation wrapped around her mouth and jerked violently to break free. And then she heard the most terrifying sound that froze her limbs to ice, the swishing of a cloak against the ground and the sickening chuckling she had heard echoing in her dreams.

The black-clad figure came to a halt before her, looking down with his scorching eyes burning her face so that she had to look away.

"Ahh, Kenna, Kenna, Kenna, you don't know how much easier you have made my life now. Leading me right to you with your ill placed words was just about the nicest thing you could have done for me and I thank you." He made a small stately bow and smiled in a way that made Kenna's skin crawl. "Its amazing isn't, how a horde of bumbling idiots equipped with the finest resources are eluded by a sixteen year old girl with absolutely nothing special about her for almost a month, and yet I just caught that girl without lifting a finger? Maybe it is time I find new operators for my plans, hmm?" He laughed without humor, his eyes glittering coldly. Kenna remained silent and just glared back at him, all the hate she could have ever felt directed at this one disgusting creature that didn't even deserve to live.

"In all my planning, I had never imagined capturing you to be this easy, especially based on what, lets call them workers, turned up with. You could be mistaken as a witch, but no, that kind of power only belongs to one person, and that's me. Now you must have known all along what I needed you for, but you're probably thinking I am going to force it out of you, torture you or your dragon, but you see that's just not the kind of person I am. You and I can make it so much easier on yourself if you just answer one simple question, which both of us know you know the answer to. Where is Dark Light?" The Shaft spoke soothing, like a parent may talk to a child for had taken a tumble, but what Kenna saw behind his cold eyes was a fox after a baby bird, but Kenna knew more than to be conned into this. She kept silent even though the gag had been removed from her mouth.

"Come on Kenna don't be like that. I'll make it even easier for you, if you tell me you can even be reunited with your father." He smiled coyly as he watched Kenna's eyes widen in surprise and hope. Would he really trade her father for the simple answer? Or had he already done away with him? She felt her face fall in disbelief and the Shaft sighed, shaking his head. "I see you don't believe me, and that's a smart decision, but I will show I am not lying. I will take you to your father." Stepping back he snapped his fingers and a guard melted out of the darkness He snapped them again so that the grass unraveled from her ankles and wrists while the soldier leaned to pull Kenna to her feet.

With her mouth bound again and her hands behind her back, Kenna had no choice but to walk forward behind the Shaft. She took no notice of where they were going, though she knew she should have, but her thoughts suddenly drifted to Nomel. Where was he? Was he hurt in the field some where or even worse, taken prisoner as well? They quickly came before a tattered and holey tent that was leaning to one side. Snoring came from its depths and when the Shaft lifted one of the flaps Kenna peered inside and gasped quietly. Her father was there, chained to a stake with blood and dirt smeared on his face, once of his eyes purple and swollen shut completely. Kenna felt her heart crack a bit more looking at his defeated figure.

"I told you I wasn't lying, unfortunately my workers had to convince him to tell us a few things, not that we got a lot out of him. But, I will let both of you go, right here if you just answer my question." Kenna kept her gaze fixed on her father, tears leaking down her face. She would give anything to set him free and stop his horrible suffering, anything except that one answer. She knew her father wouldn't want her to trade his freedom for the enslavement of humanity and no matter how much she loved him, she couldn't condemn everyone to the same fate. The Shaft let the flap fall back into place and her father disappeared from sight.

Letting her head hang so her hair covered her face she whispered, "I won't do it."

"What did you say?" asked the Shaft eagerly obviously not have heard the first time and leaning forward to seek his answer.

"I said I won't do it!" hissed Kenna fiercely, her eyes blazing with hate as she sneered up into his shadowed face. She was no longer some scared little girl, injured and hurt in childhood from stupid comments that was long behind her. Kenna had a quest to complete and she would give up her life if she had to, to finish what she started. Feeling rage and passion building up in her, she glared defiantly back without flinching in the slightest when his hands began to shake and spark. She waited for a magic-enforced blow to hit her, but it never came. The Shaft brought his hands within the confines of his cloak and he controlled his features before looking back at the girl, the ugliest sneer pulling up the corners of his mouth.

"I'm disappointed to hear that Kenna, but I think I may be able to convince you yet. Do you remember your other parent, your mother, the one you only had for a few days? I can bring her back too Kenna. You can have a family again and live peacefully," he whispered close to her ear. Standing back, he brought one hand out of his cloak and opened it to bring a picture out of the dark. It was Kenna's mother, her beautiful face smiling down on her daughter, just as Kenna had pictured her. A wave of creamy brown hair cascaded down her shoulders, clear smooth olive skin on her face, and warm twinkling blue eyes.

"Mother?" asked Kenna. The woman before her just continued to smile that dazzling smile. Suddenly, a dark cloud wiped the picture from their view and Kenna heard her mother calling fearfully from the dark, "Kenna! Kenna, where are you?" Kenna felt her heart break as her body demanded to chase after the picture, but once again she knew it was too good to be true. Her mother was dead, nothing and no one, especially not a lying Shaft could bring her back. But was she really dead, or trapped and locked away some? No, she argued fiercely, Aurora was with her when she died and Aurora wouldn't lie. She looked back at the shadow-enshrouded creature, her hate redoubled.

"LIAR!" she hissed. "I would rather die than help you!" The Shaft looked at her blankly for a moment, like he could believe this scrap of a girl was defying him…and then he regained his composure. Speaking with unlimited anger he spoke in a voice that could have frozen lava, "Stupid girl, you have just written the death sentence for not only yourself but your father and dragon as well. As soon as I find out where Dark Light is, you and you companions will die immediately and with as much pain as possible."

"Well then we will die honorably, and without the guilt of joining you!"

The Shaft's face contorted with even more fury and his hands began to spark so much the grass was burned to bare soil below them. "Insolent girl!" he screeched. "You will be the last to go and you will watch the others die before, blaming you with their last breath!"

He turned to the soldier and screamed, "Chain her up in the detainment tent as far away as you from her dragon and father. Two of those filthy beasts will stand guard and if I get even a whisper of them moving one foot from their posts they will both be killed!" He spun around to stare Kenna directly in the face and spoke in the hiss of a snake, his haunting eyes blazing with cold fire, "You will pay dearly for your refusal girl. Dark Light will be mine and I will do whatever it takes to get there even if it means destroying everything and everyone in my way." He stormed off into the night calling orders and burning a tent or two in his anger.

The soldier who still held Kenna dragged her away like a rag doll as she dug her heels into the moist ground. Her feet made deep grooves into the dirt and still the soldier towed her. Rearing her foot back she kicked him as hard as she could in the knee and though he grunted and shook her roughly, he still did not let go. She struggled as he shoved her through a ragged tent flap and then made quick work of fettering her to a stake in the ground. After inspecting his handy-work he left Kenna alone with only her thoughts to keep her company in the dark room.

Staring angrily into the dark, she felt her heart still racing on the adrenaline she had felt when she had spoken to that horrible creature. But she had done it, she had fought of his cunning ways, but would the price be too much? Her life, her father's and Aurora's were now all on the line and possibly Nomel's too. They agreed to this though; she thought fiercely, they knew this would have come up and they would not have wanted me to save them against the entire kingdom! But was that really true? She shook her head; she could not be having second thoughts now, not when it had already been done.

The tent flap flickered and an ugly, fleshly face peered in grinning stupidly at her. Its lopsided mouth revealed those rotting black teeth and its piggish eyes glowed in the gloom as it looked on at her. It laughed that horrible guttural laugh that resounded in Kenna's chest.

"Go away!" spat Kenna. Her necklace glowed faintly as though cheering her on; the gold illuminating the small space, but the light was flickering weakly and would not hold. The grogol's face lit up at the sight of the scale and reached a massive hand slowly towards its. "Don't touch it!" screeched Kenna, her eyes sparking angrily, but with her hands and feet tied together she couldn't do anything but yell.

The creature's hand was right above the necklace and he pinched the tiny pendant between his thumb and index finger ready to pull it from its chain and present his prize to his master. Kenna glared at him, dread coursing through her as he was about to take the only thing she had left. But then the gold light intensified so the whole tent was radiating with it and smoke began to rise from the grogol's hand. The choking smell of burning followed the smoke and the scale sizzled as it bit into his flabby skin. Dropping the scale like a hot coal, he howled and roared with pain as a huge red welt appeared on his fingers. He retreated from the tent and she could her him grunting angrily with his companion.

Kenna let her breath out and waited for him or someone else to return and retrieve the scale, but no one came and only the creature's blubbering could be heard near the entrance. The scale's light flickered out and the tent was plunged into darkness once more. The terrible thoughts returned and haunted Kenna's mind as she was left with nothing to distract her. She did not fear so much for her life as she did for her friend's. She had made a choice to put her life up for grabs; did she have the right to put the other's up as well? This is a huge mess, and it's all my fault.

The night wore on and Kenna did not sleep though she tried. She did not have to worry about waking up to see the Shaft standing over her, he had already captured her, and she had even made her decision without taking it back. What more could her conscious worry about that would not let her sleep? She remained restless as the moon rose higher in the sky and the camp fell quiet. Eventually, she gave up and just stared in a spaced kind of way into nothing.

In the quietest part of the night, the tent flap rustled once more. Kenna glared cold fire at it, waiting for that ugly face to peer in once more. How stupid could they possibly be? She opened her mouth, ready to yell once more when a furry face and black nose peeked around the flap. Pale orange eyes looked cautiously in and then blinked exuberantly when they spotted her. Kenna almost did scream, but she stopped just in time as the donileel glared a warning and slipped into the tent. He padded silently to her, something clutched in his mouth. The scale began to glow as just a speck of light and the object glittered harshly; it was a knife.

Very carefully, Nomel transferred the blade to his right forepaw and worked to saw the ropes off her legs. After a few tense moments, the chafing confinements fell away and he turned to work on the ones that bound her hands. Kenna rubbed at the raw skin and threw her arms around the donileel. Her hand came away from his shoulder sticky with blood and she gasped slightly.

"Nomel, wh-"she asked, but he swept his tail across her mouth in an effort to quiet her question. He beckoned and led the way cautiously out of the flap. On either side of them, the two grogol guards slept their snores loud enough to cover up almost any noise. Still, the duo tip-toed past them and raced on silent feet as shadows behind the next tent. From here they could see the center of the camp, the fire pit still glowing. Nomel pointed with his tail to a tent directly opposite them and then swung his head to the right where Kenna could make out a tiny hill. He looked back at her with questioning eyes. Kenna nodded to let him know she understood. Her father was in the tent opposite them and the tiny hill was where Aurora was chained. The problem was; how did they get over there without alerting anyone?

Kenna pointed to her father's tent and then to Nomel. Next she pointed to the tiny hill and then to herself. Nomel got the message, he would go free her father and she would go free Aurora. Though they would be separated, they would have a better chance of freeing everyone and getting out of the horrible place in one piece; hopefully. Nomel gave her a measured look and then crept across the heart of the camp while Kenna took a roundabout way to Aurora. She passed dozens of tents that she couldn't even begin to guess the purpose for. Several were deathly quiet as though empty and others emitted snoring and grunts as the day guards and workers slept. Where were the night guards though, the Shaft would not just leave the camp unguarded, especially when he had finally captured everything and one he had been after.

Suddenly, Kenna tripped over something hard on the ground and landed hard in the grass. Trying not to let a grunt escape her lips, she looked back and saw exactly what she had been dreading, a guard. Her heart began to pound as she waited for him to tackle her and raise the alarm, but he did not move. Getting up, she looked carefully over him and saw that he was unconscious. Something red glittered on his black clothes and Kenna realized that Nomel must have gone around and knocked out all of the guards. But how long would it last for? She hurried away.

The moon lit the path for her and with luck seeming to finally be on her side, she made it a tent away from Aurora. For some reason, the final tent was facing out and so the entrance was right next to her and the tent was occupied. Easing to hands and knees, she crawled step by step past the fluttering flaps, freezing when one of the occupants rolled over. Aurora's limp tail met her nose and the dragon moaned softly in her sleep. Putting a gentle hand on the dragon's hide, Kenna ran her fingers over her warm scales to the dragon's nose, tapping her gently awake.

The dragon's eyelids fluttered and then opened wide when they saw Kenna. But instead of joy or even surprise, the dragon's eyes were fluttered with fear. They could not talk for that was what first got Kenna captured, but she nodded reassuringly towards the dragon. She gripped the chains binding Aurora angrily and flinched away when they bit into her hand. The binding were reinforced with the Shaft's magic, something Aurora has said herself she was literally powerless against, but did that apply to her as well?

She snatched the chains again and held on through the building pain. The chains sizzled and smoked, but they still held beneath her burning palms. Eyes watering, Kenna refused to let go and the chains began to vibrate in an effort to shake her off. Soon she was forced to let go convince the heat would burn right through her hand. Breathing heavily, she growled at the first feelings of defeat. Aurora made a very soft noise deep in her throat. A sound came from behind her.

Whirling around, she relaxed when she realized it was only Nomel, supporting a very weak figure on his back. The man coughed and collapsed on the ground. Kenna rushed over and knelt next to him, lifting his bruised face in her hands. He was almost unrecognizable, his face disfigured from the multiple black bruises and the several cuts that still continued to bleed. His clothes were torn and bloodied as well and he barely had the energy to breathe let alone stand, but he opened one eye and looked at his daughter, the faintest of smiles tugging at his lips before he passed out again. Laying him gently back on the ground, Kenna turned back to Nomel and the still bound Aurora or the dragon who should have been bound.

On the ground lay the broken chains and above them the newly freed dragon stretched and flexed her sore muscles.

"How…" began Kenna before she remembered to keep quiet and shut her mouth. Anyway it didn't matter how, now that Aurora was free, they could leave. Nomel and Kenna quickly set to work and began strapping Hroth to Aurora's back using their ropes. After several minutes of strapping, rearranging, and double-checking that their passenger was safely tied, the other two began to ascend. Nomel went first and got himself wedged between a spike and Hroth's body and then Kenna started.

Suddenly, her foot caught a chain and it clattered against the others sounding as loud as a trumpet. Kenna froze and her heart skipped a beat as the wind picked up around them and the familiar blinding light spun. Shaking it off and climbing without caring about the noise now that their escape was noticeable, Kenna called to Aurora to go.

"THEY'RE ESCAPING!" roared the Shaft who had appeared amidst the roaring wind. His eyes were wide with fury. "YOU WILL NOT ESCAPE ME AGAIN GIRL!" He became a blur as he raced to the furious dragon's side and reached up to snatch Kenna's ankle with searing fingers attempting to pull her back to the ground.

"Aurora faster!" cried Kenna. She grabbed the knife from Nomel and blindly plunged it into the Shaft's arm. He screamed with the pain, but did not let go as Aurora finally began to rise higher from the earth. His other hand came up and dug into Nomel's side as he tried to climb up. Nomel howled, but could not do anything with his limited mobility. Blue light encased the Shaft's hand that held onto Nomel and his face contorted with sheer fury as he saw his prisoners escaping. Arrows suddenly began to fly past them; the whistling of them filling the air.

"GET HER WINGS FOOLS!" spat the Shaft. More arrows sped past them and a roar from the dragon told of one arrow that had found its mark. Their flight became unsteady as Aurora tried to stay in the air and avoid the onslaught of arrows.

"Aurora, you can do it! Just a bit longer!"

"Hurry Kenna! I can't hold all of you much longer and his magic is draining me!" cried the dragonKenna turned back to the Shaft who was finding it difficult to hold on and use magic at the same time. "LET GO!" she roared. Her scale necklace beneath her tunic flashed red as her anger built up inside her and she dug her nails into the Shaft's arm.

"ARGH!" he cried as her light covered his body and became a blinding ball of fire growing hotter and hotter. His hold on her ankle slipped, but his other hand on Nomel was still firm. His body slipped into the darkness, but his violet-amber eyes still watched them from below. Kenna moved her hand to his other arm and beat it with the fire until it let go and the creature dropped with a cry of rage into the night. Arrows continued to plaque them until Aurora carried them farther away and the night folded in around them to hide them from view.

Panting heavily, Kenna turned to Nomel.

"We did it Nomel! We escaped!" she gasped. Nomel didn't answer. "Nomel? Nomel answer me!" Kenna's heart accelerated when the donileel still remained silent. She reached back with her hand and felt his furry shoulder. His gash from before still bled, but it was only a small cut. Her hand went to his ribs where she felt a very deep wound. She twisted to try and rouse Nomel. The moon escaped the scant cloud cover and a few beams found the donileel. Kenna gasped as she saw a horrible gaping hole in Nomel's chest that still spilled blood heavily and his limp head that lolled to one side. His eyes were closed. Tears spilled down Kenna's face.

"Nomel!" she yelled, shaking him and sobbing. "Nomel wake up please!" He didn't move. The price had been too high.