Chapter Two: Ice Cavern Trial
As the cold air brushed against Delilah's exposed arm, the fair skin prickled up into tiny bumps. "It's freezing in here!" she exclaimed through her chattering teeth.
"No, duh! Just look around, everything's ice!" Lazuli piped.
The tiny blue dragon had landed on her shoulder and was using the gold hair strung over her shoulder as a blanket to warm him up. She turned her head and gave him an envious glare. Artemus, who had apparently followed Delilah, reached into the pack he carried over his shoulder. He pulled out a cloak, the same design as his warm robes, and handed it to her, which Delilah accepted gratefully. "Thank you," she mummered.
"So," she began, "where do you think we are?"
"It was a transport spell that brought us. The mages of Vane use them all the time, but this one was very old and powerful, it had been set into the memorial itself for some reason," he explained, " due to the enormous power the spell had it could have taken us anywhere."
"Great," she muttered, "that's just perfect." Glancing around the ice cavern, Delilah noticed someone missing. "Hey, where's Mark?"
"Probably on his way home," sniffed Lazuli in disdain, "the coward."
"Never mind that, let's explore!"
Mark glared at the spot his sister, the priest, and the flying cat had disappeared in and fumed. The white light thing wouldn't even allow him to get close to it; if he got near an invisible force would push him back. There was only one reason he could think of why it wouldn't. "Althena…"
"By the power of Althena, Fear Litany!" cried Artemus, sending another monster away.
Another Albino Bamboo, white furred giant apes, replaced the one banished by Artemus' spell. "Won't these apes just die!" yelled Lazuli, ducking under a furry armed swing. He counterattacked with his water breath.
Slashing at one of the Albino Bamboo with her sword, Delilah answered, "It doesn't look like it."
"What should we do?"
Truth be told, Delilah didn't know either. "Sing!" suggested Artemus, dodging a bamboo's punch.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
Sing…Lazuli thought. Why not? After all it worked on that statue. "Delilah, use the song that you used on the statue!"
She nodded and took a deep breath. The word that flowed from her mouth were different than the last song, but with the similar feeling of power. They were words of serenity and calm that made every Albino Bamboo in hearing range drift off to sleep. As her song faded the spellbound sleep remained. "Cool," said Lazuli, his voice echoing through the cavern.
Delilah and Artemus gave him death glares. "Eeep," he squeaked at their looks.
"Let's just go," whispered Delilah, " before they wake up."
"Agreed," Artemus said, whispering too.
They wandered into a huge cavern with a large pit. An ice bridge was the only way to get across the pit. "Yikes, this is pretty high up," Delilah commented as the trio walked across the bridge of ice.
"You scared?" Lazuli asked with a devious smile.
"No," she said.
"Liar," he responded.
"Humph, so what if I am? I don't have wings, you do."
Lazuli grinned at her like a sadistic Cheshire cat. Delilah ignored him and passed through an opening in the cave wall at the end of the ice bridge. "Why do you tease her so?" wondered Artemus.
"Well…I'd like to say its because I can, but that'd be a lie."
"So why then?"
A huge blush appeared on the dragon's blue furred face. "It's…it's non of your business!" he huffed, speeding after Delilah.
Shrugging in confusion, Artemus followed.
He had felt the transport spell activate. He had watched and judged all but the last worthy to come to his island. The last, that boy stank of that bitch, Nyx, and he refused to have anything to do with him. But the others were different. The other boy, the one who wore the robes of a priest of Althena, had an aura of purity, an aura familiar yet he could not seem to place it and so dismissed it for later thought.
The last two were the ones that had grabbed his attention the most. There was the young one of his kind, a baby blue dragon. He alone was unusual for their kind had become so very rare of late, much more then it used to be, thanks to Nyx. She had hunted down as many of the dragons and off shoots as she could find. She had even been the one to kill his predecessor Quark, forcing him to take the position of elder white dragon.
The girl in the young one's company was just as special. The descendant of Alex and Luna there was no mistaking THAT aura, plus she had THE eyes.
An interesting group indeed. For the first time in five hundred years, Nall smiled.
They had reached as far as they could go. An ice cliff blocked off the ice path they had been following. It was not a very high cliff, but it was high enough to keep them from climbing on it. "What now?" Artemus wondered.
"I guess we should back track, maybe we missed a turn," Delilah suggested.
"Leaving so soon?" rumbled an unfamiliar voice.
Like a ghost he appeared a huge white dragon. "A relative of yours?" Delilah asked. "I hope he doesn't have your appetite," she mummered, eyeing Lazuli.
"Don't look at me like that!" defended Lazuli.
The whit dragon chuckled. "Don't worry, I find the taste of man…unappealing, fish is much better," he said, flashing large teeth.
"That's…good," said Artemus, gulping.
"He and Lazuli are of the same species, that's for sure," cracked Delilah.
The blue dragon in question flew up to the height of the white dragon's head. "Hey, Gramps, you the one who brought us to this ice box?" he asked.
"Gramps?" the white dragon frowned.
"Well you haven't told us your name, so what else am I suppose to call you?"
"My name is Nall, and for your information I'm only five hundred years old."
"Only?" Delilah choked.
"Dragons have very long life spans," Artemus informed her.
"So why did ya bring us here, Null?" demanded Lazuli.
"That's Nall, puffball."
"Names Lazuli, fur face."
Rolling her eyes at their childish antics, Delilah interrupted before an all out insult war could begin. "I'm Delilah of Burg and this is Artemus."
"Great dragon, why have we been brought here?" asked Artemus, respectively.
"Great?" mummered Lazuli, "I don't think so!"
Sighing, Delilah grabbed him and him down, covering his mouth. "Ah, blessed silence," said Nall, closing his eyes. Lazuli retort was muffled by Delilah's hand. Opening his eyes, Nall gave a piercing stare right into Delilah's emerald green eyes. "I did not bring you here consciously. The memorial statue as a spell on it to transport anyone who passes the trial to this island."
"Trial?" she asked.
"Only one blessed by the goddess Althena could activate the spell, that one is to be the next Dragonmaster."
Her eyes slid to Artemus. "It is not I," he told her," the spell didn't activate until you joined me."
"So I'm the next Dragonmaster?" Delilah asked, awe in her voice.
To answer her question Nall used a spell to change her outfit. To Artemus, she resembled the statues of the Goddess Althena in her new outfit. A bright diamond ring gleamed on her finger. In surprise, Delilah released Lazuli who in turn gaped at the change in her. "The Dragon Ring on your finger says that you have passed my trial. You must travel and pass the others trials to become the Dragonmaster."
"I understand the ring part but look at her! She looks like she's ready for the Goddess Festival not some adventure!" shouted Lazuli.
Delilah blushed slightly at his comment. "I assure you, CHILD, that it is certainly a fine outfit for travel and battle. It has great defensive capabilities," explained Nall, fed up with Lazuli's attitude.
"Thank you…" Delilah mummered.
Nall's eyes twinkled in amusement. "No thanks are needed, just stay alive that's all I ask."
"So how do return home?" wondered Lazuli.
"Your not far from Meribia, I can transport you there," Nall told them.
"That would be fine," Artemus answered.
"Are you kidding, do you have any idea how far from Burg that is? Mrs. L is going to kill us!" Lazuli exclaimed.
Mom wouldn't let me go search for the other dragons…this may be my only chance, Delilah thought. "We'll send her a letter," Delilah said, finally.
"Now that that's settled, just stand there and you'll be on your way," Nall told them.
On my way…to my future…