Her eyes snapped open. She sniffed the air. There was an unmistakeable smell of smoke. She could hear faint screaming outside her window, screams and sounds of things bursting, whooshing wind. Coralee scrambled to her feet and went to the window to see what the commotion was and boy, was there a commotion. A dragonâ€™s silhouette was blocking out the sky completely, the night air lit up entirely by its wayward flames. Lightning shot out of its fins. People were rushing out of burning houses, searching for loved ones. A few courageous warriors were trying to fend off the dragon with their limited capabilities.
Courageous warriors. She looked closely and gasped. Draken was among them, waving primitive firesmith tools, trying to scare the dragon away somehow. It was visibly useless; the dragon hardly paid any notice of the minuscule Dragonkin batting away at it. She hastily grabbed her coat and bag. She was going to join him.
Once outside the door, she spotted something else. Blending into the mayhem in the town, masked men with sacks over their shoulders were running around, glancing furtively from time to time. She watched as they entered a house and carried out a girl â€“ Ruby Hearthstone! Her eyes widened in alarm. There was no mistaking the family resemblance to Draken. The little girl seemed to have been knocked out; she was thrust limply into the gunny sack as he went hunting for more prey. Some of the ones fighting the dragon were also stealthily knocked out and taken away. She saw one of the mercenaries head towards Draken.
â€œStop right there!â€ she called out and pounced onto him without a second thought. The man struggled, shocked, but she clung valiantly onto his waist, hitting him repeatedly on the head. With a surge of strength the man turned around, and she felt herself flying momentarily through the air before her back landed on the ground with a thud. The man smirked, his teeth glinting in the light of the dragonâ€™s flames.
â€œDo you think you can stop me, you frail woman?â€ he hissed, before he flung her too, kicking and shrieking, into a sack and tied it up. She felt herself moving, bouncing around the uncomfortable small structure. He was sprinting with her, probably taking her to wherever they left their sacks of people. She didnâ€™t get it. Why were they abducting people from this village? Were they in cahoots with the dragon? And yet it was uncommon that a dragon would work with people or act as their decoy. Dragons were much too strong for that.
She tried making noise, shouting, but it seemed nobody could hear her well, for all she heard from outside were muffled sounds as well. She tried to adjust herself to a better position, but the sack had been tied firmly up and had no space for her to straighten herself, so she needed to content with this half-crouched position in an asphyxiating space. She could only hope that Draken was safe. If she could ever see him again.
She was moving again, uncomfortably so, for she was being bounced up and down in a dizzying fashion and could not feel the ground beneath her. She realised quickly that she was tied to a horse. She shut her eyes and pressed her temples, trying not to cry from the sheer discomfort of it all. She needed freedom, but most of all right now she needed air.
And then she felt something that made her open her eyes in wonderment. There was a breeze. A ray of light had streamed in from the top. She raised her head. The sack had loosened from the horseâ€™s frenetic galloping.
Suddenly she could hear something snap, and she was tumbling off, rolling around on the ground. She tried not to scream, not to let her captors know. The sack rolled to a halt and she waited a few moments for somebody to pick her up again. No one did. She gingerly crawled out of the opening in the sack, and hurriedly shut her eyes as the welcoming glare of the morning sun greeted her again. She was free!
She got to her feet and looked to her right. The mercenaries and their horses were only a speck in the distance, their sacks bouncing to the sides. She turned to the left and began walking slowly back, trying to make sense of where she was. This seemed like a desert area, with only sand and little in the way of vegetation.
Up ahead of her were the silhouettes of 4 men. She shielded her eyes from the sun and looked closely, her heart suddenly taking a life of its own and thumping very, very hard.
There, taking the lead, was Draken.