There's a cave in the distance, the fire from inside it just visible within the mass of jagged rock. I quicken my pace to a steady run, eyes narrowing against the beating snow. It's a miracle my sanity hasn't bid me farewell.
I stop as another figure appears, then vanishes. They're traveling toward me in puffs of black mist. The snow hisses and melts wherever the curling tendrils touch.
I lift a hand, not yet harnessing the wind for magic. I watch what they do, eyes widening as a black stream of energy shoots towards me. The growing mass in the palm of my hand fades as I fall back, lifting my hand to feel my neck before my arm drops. Crimson from my fingertips stains the stark white. I can't do anything as they walk forward, stopping a few feet away.
This was a horrible idea, I realize that now. But I tend to realize the obvious after I do something I would most likely regret.
I catch a glimpse of a brown-skinned, amber-eyed face before the world blurs into darkness.
"If we're going to do anything besides wander around in hope that something besides boredom to show up, we need to do something. Find someone." Alaric looked over at his dragon, and Seridian stared back with a blank, moss green gaze.
He let out a snort, and Alaric translated it as 'You really want to die, huh.'
The contestant rolled his eyes and stood up as Seridian did. He climbed onto the dragon's back, gripping one of the smaller horns.
Seridian pressed his feet into the ground, claws catching on the grass. Lines of bright green shot out through the ground, fading as they traveled further away.
Alaric opened his eyes, the glow intensifying for a moment before ceasing. One name came to Alaric's mind- the name of the person he and Seridian would be searching for.
I blinked a few times, vision clearing. I stared up at the girl who had attacked me, and she stared back. I wasn't dead, clearly, and not too badly injured. But they had tied me to a stalagmite, the rock digging uncomfortably into my back.
Someone behind her stood, and I could see that it was a male, maybe a year or two older. The girl with dark auburn hair looked my age. She knelt to meet my level, and I didn't give her the satisfaction of glaring or letting my temper flare. Her eyes looked like fire at it's hottest- a dark, glittering blue like dancing flames.
"Hello, Eriene." she said with a cold smile. I didn't respond, staring behind her and the two dragons crouched in the shadows. She scowled, glaring as she didn't get a response.
"Calm down, Vatra." The male said in an even, hollow tone. The girl-Vatra- rolled her eyes and stood, crossing her arms as the other person walked forward.
The two of them looked strikingly similar, though he had wavy, black hair and a lighter skin tone. Their eyes, though, were the same.
"This was your idea," she muttered, making her way back over to the dragons, sitting down on a flat outcrop of rock. He smirked, kneeling to my level after blowing a loose curl out of his face.
He stared for a moment before smiling. "I'm Calder, and that's Vatra."
"His beloved cousin." she quipped, voice thickly layered with sarcasm.
Calder glanced over at her, then turned back to me. "Obviously, you didn't want to kill us. If you did, I suspect that you wouldn't have waited for her to strike first."
"And...you tied me to a rock." I tried to move away from the sharp point digging into my shoulder blades. It didn't hurt too much, but the stone was tearing at the threads that wove my jacket together. Cold from the tundra trickled its way through the fabric.
"Sure did." he responded with a smirk. A different face replaced Calder's, for a moment, with the same smug smile. But his expression didn't have the same disdain or contempt that the contestant in front of me did.
Why wouldn't Luke Castor leave my mind?
Alaric was terrified as Seridian launched off the ground, and he made no effort to contain his fear. The dragon dipped into a nosedive, and a shrill shriek escaped Alaric's lips. He screamed, holding on to the spikes on the dragon's neck so tightly his hands turned white. They were on the ground in a few moments, a blonde Sinistrian pointing a thin, glowing knife towards them.
Feralith, her dragon, was crouching behind her and sat up as she saw Seridian.
"One second." Alaric managed to gasp before climbing off of the dragon's back. He dropped down to his knees, pressing his hands to the grass and exhaling a long breath. "Oh, thank the Spirits." he murmured. He stood a few seconds later, shooting a glare at Seridian, who's eyes were glittering with amusement. "That was not funny." he growled, then looked up at Everlys.
"What are you doing?" she hissed, the knife inches away from his face.
"Well... nothing was really happening." he started, bringing up a hand to push Everlys's knife away and taking a step to the left. "So I came up with the genius idea to find someone else and hopefully make them an ally. And then somehow get out of here. I sensed that you were closest, so...yeah."
Calder stared for a moment before standing, walking back over to his cousin. They talked in hushed voices, though I could clearly see the annoyance on Vatra's face. She lifted her hand, extending it towards a circle of stones they must have laid out. Fire streamed from her fingertips, skipping its way over to the circle. A fire soon blazed in the center of the cave, red light dancing on the walls and ceiling.
I could see that the red pendant on her necklace was glowing, as were her eyes and the tips of her hair. "I thought those had all been replaced with tech." I shut my mouth right after I said it, but the red-haired girl had already turned to me.
She crossed her arms, lifting her chin a fraction. "Seems that you have some knowledge." Vatra twirled the pendant between her fingers. It was shaped like a small flame and glimmered as it caught the light. A round, glowing ruby was set between the gold curves. "But, yes. It's far more common just to use an amplifier of some sort. Like a customized piece of coding that's embedded within jewelry, or even straight into you. But the real ones are much rarer, and much more powerful. Learning how to control it is much harder. But nothing can come close to an object that holds the essence you want to magnify."
Everlys looked from him to Seridian and lowered her knife. It shortened into a pin, and she tucked it back into her braided bun.
"You aren't lying." she murmured, staring intently before turning back to Feralith. "What do you think?"
Feralith tilted her head, tail sweeping the grass. She stood, spreading her dark blue speckled wings to their full length. Feralith walked in a slow circle round Alaric's dragon, then returned to the blonde. After a minute, she looked over at Everlys, tucking her wings back in.
"She trusts you." The Sinistrian said, lifting her arm to stroke her dragon's scales.
Alaric nodded, unsure about what to do. Everlys was now his ally, but there was no difference from when they had been in different parts of the arena. Should they look for others, like Emery, Eriene, Anya, or Therin?
"Yeah." Everlys answered suddenly, answering the question he hadn't spoken out loud. "The two best options are Therin or Eriene."
"Did you just-"
"I'm a Telepath, Emrys." Everlys answered with a small smirk, gesturing for him to get on Seridian. She vanished, reappearing on Feralith's back. "Get used to it."