Ashera: Chapter 23
TW: Blood, gore
Ashera looked up at the dragon standing before them. It was as white as the snow that fell outside of the cave, with two large, leathery wings adorning its back. It had an array of horns on its head, which looked like they formed a crown of marble. It had long claws on each of its feet, and its icy blue eyes stared down at the group with hate. It didn’t look surprised to see them; on the contrary, it looked prepared for an occasion such as this.
With a snarl, the dragon removed itself from the throne of treasure it had been seated upon. It made its way to the group, towering above them. It was only when Ashera drew her blade that it stopped its approach.
The dragon looked down at them, cool, calculating. In the deep, thundering voice that Ashera recognized from the puzzle room, the dragon spoke. “Ah, adventurers. It has been a long while since some made it this far.”
“Are you Rickshaw?” Ashera asked.
The dragon turned its head to her, tilting it slightly as it appraised the small figure that had spoken to it. “Yes,” it said. “It seems there are brains amongst you as well. This is good.” Rickshaw thought for a moment. “Sheathe your blade,” it said, and Ashera did so.
Rickshaw looked down at her and smiled, if dragons could do such a thing. “You have shown intelligence and respect. For this I’ll give you a chance,” it said. “I have lived here for centuries, guarding this Orb with my life, for it is mine. No adventurer-no matter how smart or strong or skilled they are-has ever left with the Orb, and you will not be the first. But, you may leave with your life.” The dragon’s eyes became hard, dangerous. “Turn and leave now. I will allow you this one chance to pass through my land without fear of being harmed, and you adventurers may have a peaceful, long, happy life.”
“And the Orb?”
“It will stay here with me, of course.”
For a moment, Ashera entertained herself with the idea. Leaving now, unharmed and unchanged. Settling down in Harle with Ryan, visiting Fox and the Great Tree Tribe every once in a while. It was peaceful, and beautiful to think about, but she thought of Bear and Saria, and she knew that she could never do it. “We need to protect it.”
“Which is my duty. The Orb is mine.”
“You have no idea the forces which are coming. An evil sorcerer with an army. He will stop at nothing to get the Orb.”
“He will stop at me. I have faced many an evil sorcerer. I have never been defeated and it never will be.”
Rickshaw remained composed, but Ashera saw the spark that lit his eyes. “You are too arrogant. You think yourself infallible, and you will be beaten.” Ashera drew her sword, and Fox and Ryan followed suit. “And for this reason, we cannot leave the Orb within your hands.”
Rickshaw’s eyes filled with fire as Ashera said this. “You dare defy me? You come into my home to steal my things and I let you leave with your lives and you are still not happy. You call me arrogant.” He took a step back, roaring, “You will pay!”
As one, the group charged forward to meet the great dragon in battle.
Ashera’s sword sliced at the dragon’s thick hide, the blade’s steel alive with glowing light. The blade did not do the damage that she wished it might, though, the dragon’s skin was just too protected. Before she could make a dent in its armor, its claw had come down and knocked her to the side.
“Light magic. Interesting,” Rickshaw said. “I’ll show you real magic.”
The dragon’s chest swelled and in one breath, he let loose a gust of wind, filled with frost. It was similar to the magic that Ashera had seen the giant on the path use, and she had just enough time to duck behind a pillar, shielding herself from the cold. It caked the pillar in an inch of solid ice, jagged spikes protruding from its front.
Ashera charged once again, this time sending a beam of light at the dragon’s head. It blasted him in the jaw, leaving a small scorch march where it had impacted. Rickshaw’s eyes found her and filled with rage. “You-”
Before he had a chance to say much else, Ryan was on top of him, stabbing his greatsword into the dragon’s shoulder blade. He roared out in pain, shaking Ryan off of him. Ryan lost his grip on the sword and crashed into the wall.
Ashera watched as the dragon began to change. Spikes of ice and scale protruded from his back. His horns elongated and similar ones spiked up from the rest of his head. His tail became a multitude sharp, deadly shards of ice.
Rickshaw turned back to her, his eyes filled with a rage unlike Ashera had ever seen before. He roared, “YOU FILTHY CREATURES! YOU DARE DEFY ME? YOU. WILL. PAY.”
His wings unfurled as he roared once more, sending another beam of ice towards Ashera. She ducked as it blew the top off the pillar off of its base.
“Go for his weak points!” she ordered and, once again, she charged.
She avoided the dragon’s claws-though not by much-and slid underneath its belly. He stood there, confused, for a moment, and tried to bite at her, but the moment of hesitation was enough. Ashera jammed her sword into a gap between his scales, cutting into his stomach. She felt his icy blood coat her face.
Rickshaw roared in pain and his sharp tail slammed into Ashera’s body, the jagged spikes of ice embedding themselves into her limbs. It whacked her out from underneath him, but the blow was weaker then it should’ve been. It was working; they were hurting him.
Rickshaw moved to stomp on Ashera with his claws, but she sent a bolt of light at his foot, and he recoiled, giving her enough time to dive for cover once again.
She looked out at the battle from her hiding place. Her group was looking pretty rough: they were bleeding heavily and Shadow and Ryan looked as if they each had at least one broken limb. But, they didn’t seem to be more injured than Rickshaw, who was bleeding from the cuts in his stomach and chest and had areas poking out from all areas of his body. They could still win this…
So, Ashera put herself into the perspective of the dragon. How could he be defeated? She thought about it for a second and she knew what she had to do.
She charged at the dragon one last time, dodging his swiping claws, but she made sure to falter at the base of his chest. She swung at the scales weakly. “It’s over Rickshaw. Leave us the Orb and we’ll let you go.”
“Never!” he roared as his mouth came down to bite her. Ashera made no move to stop it, only making sure that her sword arm was over her head. This was a risk, but if it had even a chance of saving Bear, it’d be worth it.
Time slowed as Rickshaw’s teeth clamped down on her abdomen, impaling her. She heard herself scream out in pain; she heard Ryan yell her name. Rickshaw lifted her off of the ground so she could look into his eyes. The message in them was clear, and Ashera could almost hear his deep voice in her head. “I win.”
With the last bit of her quickly fading strength, she threw her arms forward, striking the dragon in the eye. She felt it give, and felt her sword slide through his skull, the light magic guiding her blade.
The dragon roared in pain, releasing Ashera. Her bloodied form fell to the ground. She heard the dragon roaring as her vision faded to black.
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