chapter 14

Janna sat in the dragon cave, leaning against the wall and watching Carkos sleep. When they arrived in the cave, Emerald had joined Jalure in eating the musk ox. Janna had found the strips of bacon fuzzed over with green-gray mold and totally unfit to eat. Even Carkos wouldn’t touch them, and dragons eat all sorts of things. After there was nothing left of the musk ox, Emerald, Jalure, Carkos, and Janna had fallen asleep pretty quick with an assortment of other colors of dragons. Today, Janna was getting acquainted with the other dragons, or at least how many there were. Jalure was sleeping with five other dragons, a gold, a black, red, dark blue, and one so dark purple that Janna had at first though he was black. Only female dragons were blue, but blue wasn’t the only color for a female. Some females were brown or black or dull red. Purple dragons were completely unheard of until this one came along. Emerald was sleeping with another very dark blue dragon. Since this was Gelden’s cave, there were ten dragons all together, counting Carkos. Just then, the purple dragon raised his head and blinked his eyes sleepily. “Hello,” he said. “Are you Janna? I am Pire.” (For the benefit of those who do not know how to pronounce this, this is how you do: PIRE-uh. Not PI-ruh.) “These are my nest-mates (that means siblings) Flammorax, Sparticus, Lazura (la-ZURE-ah), and Erthar.” Pire pointed to the red, gold, blue, and finally the black dragon. “You already know Jalure,” he said as an afterthought. “Who is that with Emerald?” Janna asked. “Oh, she is Flaer (not flayer or flare, something in between), but I’m surprised to see her with Emerald,” Pire mused. “She has been very put off for a few months, ever since Celeskor, her brother, disappeared.” Pire glanced at Janna. “She is also stressed. Gelden is the temporary leader of the dragons, but he is a hundred fifty, so his son will take over for him soon. Since Celeskor disappeared, Flaer will have to take over. She’s not so happy about that.” Sparticus stumbled to his feet. “Good morning, Spart,” Pire greeted him. “Going hunting?” Sparticus nodded and jumped out of the cave, gliding away on golden wings. Lazura sat up and watched him glide away. A few Frost Dragons from other caves joined him on his way out. But as soon as he left the city boundaries, a storm of arrows pelted them from below. Golden Knights. Taken completely by surprise, the hunting party had no time to react. Lazura roared and launched herself out of the cave. Straight to the Golden Knights. “She’ll get herself killed!” Janna gasped. “No, no,” Pire reassured. “Watch. This will be fun.” All the other dragons in the cave had joined them in the cave, and, looking down, Janna could see heads poking out of the other caves to watch. Lazura glided silently to a mound of snow where nine Golden Knights were shooting at the frantic dragons. Sooner or later, one of them would get hit. Lazura had not been spotted. She folded her wings and dived. As quickly as a hawk catches a mouse, Lazura snatched a Golden Knight and carried him back to the cave. CRUNCH! Lazura slammed the Golden Knight into the wall just below the cave. The force of the impact blew his helmet off, and the Knight soon followed it on the long fall to the Glass Floor. All the dragons began making a lot of noise. Inspired by Lazura’s act, dragons began pouring out of caves to bombard the Knights with claws, fire, and lashing tails. Erthar actually stomped one into the ground. Janna found herself seated on Pire’s back this time. With so many dragons, the nine Knights were quickly narrowed down to three. Janna looked over at Carkos and saw that even though he was spitting small jets of flame, clawing, and biting, one of the Golden Knights had him in a firm grip, which was a big accomplishment, because Carkos was now the size of a wolf and very strong. Pire saw something else, though, just as Carkos wriggled free and killed two Knights with his tail. “Look!” Pire shouted. A lone knight was riding off, back to the Castle. When he returned, there would be more of them. A lot more.

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