The dull glow of the incandescent light bulb dimly illuminated the dragon’s lair. It was barely better than a torch, Countess Victoria Von Baden thought as she paced the stone floor, impatiently waiting for her mentor. Hands clenching and unclenching, she wanted to hurt someone, see blood. She let out a loud guttural roar of frustration and threw her floor-length black hooded cape onto the crushed red velvet sofa.
Raka, in dragon form, slipped in through his private entrance to find his protégé enraged. They had enlisted Werner von Weisel to steal the compass but the boy had failed despite the Countess’s implied rewards.
Startled by Raka’s presence, Victoria’s eyes narrowed. “What happened to you? Why are you in your dragon form?”
“I could not hold the human form any longer. The animal power is just too strong for the puny human child energy to maintain.”
“You need to find a more worthy vessel then,” the Countess spat. “We must have the compass.”
Raka raised his claws, “Oh, please my pet, patience. I share your frustration. Let’s consider what happened.”
Though remaining petulant, the Countess nodded.
So, do you think Werner was ready for the task?” asked Raka.
The Countess threw her hands up in anger, then deflated. “I thought he was. Apparently, I was mistaken.” She rubbed her forehead trying to ease away the tension. “We went over how he was going to use the pistol to frighten Albert. He knew what to do and seemed…eager…to do it.” She paused and shook her head. “I was watching him from across the street with my long lens telescope.” Her eyes narrowed. “Something…strange happened.”
That caught Raka’s attention. “Strange?” he said suspiciously.
“Yes. When Albert rode up, a…a bright cloud appeared. I have no other words to describe it. Werner seemed…I don’t know...freaked out.”
Raka started pacing and became angrier with each step. “Then what happened,” he said through clenched teeth.
Her anger largely dissipated, the Countess wearily collapsed onto the sofa. “Werner became very pale and distraught. He staggered, then threw up and fainted,” she said with a resigned sigh.
Raka shook his head. “You saw a bright cloud? What time did that happen?”
“Just before ten this morning. Why?” Victoria asked looking up from the sofa.
“Because I felt the presence of the Light break the time continuum at that time,” replied the dragon angrily.
“What do you mean ‘the Light?’” Victoria asked, surprised. Though she had been working with Raka for some time, he had not mentioned this Light before.
Raka clenched his jaw then took a deep breath. He closed his eyes, “How do I explain a power that has vexed me for centuries?” Raka appeared to go deeply into his thoughts, then abruptly opened his eyes and pulled himself back to the present. “Never mind that for now,” he said shaking his head as if to expel the troubling ideas. “Before I can even begin discussing the Light with you, we have more pressing work to do.”
The Countess began to protest, but at the sight of his narrowing eyes and his long, sharp fangs, she thought better of it. “You’re right. We need to focus on getting the compass at any cost.”
Raka hissed his agreement.
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