Ashera: Chapter 24
TW: Blood, gore, kidnapping
When Ashera came to consciousness, she was still laying on the stone floor of the dragon’s cavern. Blood was pooling around her, and she was unsure of how much of it was hers. Her stomach still felt incredibly sore, and she groaned in pain.
Within a few seconds, Ryan’s face appeared above hers. He rushed over to her, holding a glass vial filled with some blood red liquid. “Ashera! Thank god it worked. How are you feeling?”
“I’m alive,” she grimaced. “What do you mean ‘it worked’? What worked?”
“You were-you were dying,” he said. “I didn’t know how I was going to save you but I had heard about potions that could heal and prevent death so I tried one and it worked and thank god it did because-”
“Ryan? Ashera! You’re okay!” Fox said, running over. “We thought that we’d lost you.”
“I’m okay,” Ashera grunted. She made a fist with her hand and held it to her chest, letting the light magic flow freely throughout her body. She felt the wounds in her stomach begin to close, and before long, she was exhausted, but able to stand with Ryan’s help.
“Don’t push yourself too hard,” he said.
“I have to,” she panted. “We have to...get out of here.” She lurched forward as her wound bit at her again, and Ryan had to catch her.
“You need to rest.”
“No, I’m fine. Really,” she said, but he was already lowering her to the ground. She knew she couldn’t stand up again without his help. “Stay here,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”
Ashera sighed, holding her stomach in pain. Then, she started chuckling to herself, her laughter mixed with cries of pain. They had done it; they had actually done it. They had saved the world. Of course, Ashera had almost died in the process, but they had done it. Finally, Saria and Bear would be safe. Ashera could see the Orb in its case, black and shiny, the reward of their endeavors. She smiled.
Ryan returned, holding a vial of the red liquid. He handed it to her, saying, “It’ll heal you.”
She squinted at it suspiciously, but shrugged and uncorked it. She poured the contents down her throat. It had an odd metallic taste, and it stuck to her throat. However, as the liquid flowed through her body, she felt a sense of warmth settle in her chest-similar to the feeling she got from her own magic-and her wounds were healed further.
Ryan glanced at her expectantly. “Good?”
“It’s a bit better.”
“I’ll go grab more.”
She watched Ryan disappear and thought to herself for a moment. “Where’s Shadow?” she called.
Fox’s voice replied, “I don’t know, actually. He was here for the battle.”
Ashera felt panic fill her chest. “We have to find him! What if he’s hurt?” Wincing, she used the wall behind her to climb to her feet. She stumbled around the room, calling out in a pained voice, “Shadow? Shadow? Come here boy!”
She heard footsteps on the stone behind her and an eerily familiar voice say, “Shadow, huh? Creative name for a black wolf.”
Dread filled Ashera to her core and she whirled around as quickly as her injuries allowed her to. And there he was, standing tall and proud, with Shadow at his side. Bear.
Though, it wasn’t the Bear she knew. His hair had been cut short and now lay neatly on his hair. He had abandoned his tribal furs and hides that had once adorned his skin. But, most unsettlingly, his once-friendly and light eyes glowed red with the magic of the Calidi.
Ashera frowned as she took all of this in. “Bear…”
“I prefer the Alpha,” he said cooly.
Fox walked into the cavern. “Ashera did you-” Her eyes narrowed as she spotted the Alpha. “You.”
“Hello, Sneaky Fox,” the Alpha said. “I must admit, I’m sorry that our greeting could not be one on more pleasant terms.”
“You little-” Fox fumed as she charged at the Alpha. Almost lazily, his hand flicked up and a shimmering barrier appeared between him and Fox. She ran right into it and was knocked off of her feet and thrown into the air. She landed on the ground, groaning in pain.
The Alpha turned to Ashera, betraying no sign of emotion or remorse. “I suggest you do not defy me, it’ll make all of this quite a bit easier.”
Ashera felt Fox and Ryan come to each side of her, but she merely watched as the Alpha strode over to the case and grabbed the Orb. “Thank you for doing all of the work for me. Hiking up this mountain and slaying an ice dragon would’ve been incredibly difficult to do alone.”
“You’re a traitor,” Ashera told him. “Many of our tribe were killed by your army. You-”
She coughed as the wind was knocked out of her. It was like if she had fallen from a high tree. The Alpha was glaring at her, his hand in the air. “You dare call me a traitor. Have you forgotten all that I’ve done?” He waved his hand and Ashera fell to the ground, gasping.
“Now,” he said. “Since you all have been so courteous, we’ll be leaving now.”
“Well you’re coming with me, of course. You all know far too much to go free.”
Ashera stuck her chin out. “I’m never going with you.”
The Alpha smiled. “Well then it’s a good thing that it’s not your choice.”
He waved his hand and the world around Ashera started spinning. She felt nauseous and bent over, groaning as the wounds in her stomach protested once more.
When her view readjusted, she found herself standing on a cobblestone path, facing a large black tower which was built into the side of the mountain. “Lets go,” the Alpha said.
Ashera took a step, stumbling forward. The Alpha turned to her, his red eyes betraying just a hint of concern. “You’re injured,” he said. “I didn’t know. Here, let me.”
He walked towards her, but she took a step away from him, almost falling over as she did so. “I don’t need your magic,” she said. She put one hand on each of her friend’s shoulders, and let them help her to the castle.
They talked quietly as they walked. The conversation wasn't secretive-Ashera had a feeling that the Alpha was probably listening anyways-but purely because she did not have the strength to speak in a voice above a whisper.
“That didn’t go as planned,” Fox said.
“No, it didn’t.”
“I can’t believe Shadow betrayed us,” Ryan said, glancing back at the Calidi. “I mean, he saved your life!”
“It’s not his fault, he has to do what his master says. I’d bet it was the Alpha’s plan to trick us since the beginning.” Ashera turned her gaze towards Fox, frowning. “You were right, Fox. He’s changed.”
“I know,” she said. “Believe me, I was hoping that he’d be okay as well. But…” she trailed off with a sigh, staring at the ground.
They walked quietly until they came to the doors of the tower. A couple of guards were waiting there, each of them wearing similar dark robes to the Alpha.
“Take the man and the red-haired female to the dungeons. See to it that they are healed,” the Alpha said. “Put the other in the gloves and bring her to my chambers.” With that, he and Shadow strode into the building.
Fox and Ryan were dragged away from her. “No! Fox! Ryan! Don’t hurt them!” Ashera called as she feebly tried to fight the guards off, but she was too weak, and she had to watch as her friends were dragged away from her.
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