Ciara Ballintyne was born in 1981 in Sydney, Australia, where she lives with her husband, two daughters, one masochistic cat, and one cat with a god complex. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and has been a practising financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic. She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book. She enjoys horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D. Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CiaraBallintyne Website: http://www.ciaraballintyne.com Flight of the Dragon is a for lovers of fantasy fiction, with an emphasis on high/epic fantasy.
Confronting the Demon
Welcome back to Part 5 of Dragon Bait. If you missed Burning: Dragon Bait (Part 1), Dragonflame: Dragon Bait (Part 2), Guilt: Dragon Bait (Part 3), or Ishafal: Dragon Bait (Part 4), make sure you check them out first!
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Bursting from the entrance, Varik squinted in the brilliant sunlight, and veered down the mountain path. Please, please, let it work...
He clung hard to the cliff face. Glancing back over his shoulder, he eased his way down the path. His heart pounded in his ears. The Ishafal dashed onto the ledge, with the box clutched too easily beneath her arm. Where was the dragon?
The winged woman swung around as she spotted him, one hand lifting. Varik ducked behind a stone outcrop. A boiling mass of fiery magic seared past his ear, and the skin of his cheek and neck burned with the sudden heat.
I need that dragon!
A rush of wind announced its arrival. The dragon bellowed, the sound reverberating off the mountain. A shower of small stones rained down on Varik, and he shielded his face with his arms. The Ishafal squealed, her beautiful voice shrill with fear.
More magic boiled upwards, clouds of blue and violet flames spewing blindly into the air. Varik half scrambled and half slid down the cliff path, dislodging pebbles and debris in his haste.
The dragon banked to avoid the Ishafal’s magical attack, swinging wide out above the valley below, and sweeping back up the path. Varik dropped to his belly as the huge creature flew over. The wind from the dragon’s wings tugged at his clothes. Dragonflame heated the air, scorching Varik’s throat as he sucked in a breath. Smoke, thick and choking, followed.
Varik coughed, and rolled. The dragon disappeared over the mountain and its flame left the cliff path scorched and blackened, an image of blasted desolation and stark beauty. Melted stone and sand cooled into glass. A charred and smoldering pile of rags fluttered in the breeze by the cave entrance. The smoke stirred, and began to dissipate.
His heart still thudded in his chest. A deep breath seared his lungs with hot air, and he scrambled to his feet, heading up the path. His legs shook. The stone burned through the soles of his boots. As he approached, the smoking pile cracked open, spilling a few hot embers onto the ground. They died in an instant. Shreds of charred violet and blue cloth fluttered amongst bone fragments and featureless lumps of grey ash.
Only a cold kind of satisfaction filled him at the sight and, hard on its heels, a hollow disappointment. Mesalina and the girls still rotted in the earth. The fire of his hatred flickered, and went out, leaving only the damning guilt.
Where was the box? Tiny worms of fear wriggled in his gut. If the box was destroyed, if this cesium was no longer contained… He was still dead.
Varik whirled, eyes searching the barren stone of the mountain path.The iron box lay a few yards away, thrown clear by the concussive forces of the brief battle. The metal glowed red and cooled to iron grey. Apart from a thin film of greasy ash, it appeared undamaged.
Varik breathed out a huge sigh, shaking his head. He’d expected the contents to survive, but not the box. Dragonflame could consume a simple metal box. Of course, only a fool expected a box created by Sirens and Furies to be simple.
With one finger, he tentatively touched the metal surface and jerked it back. He sucked the sting away. Too hot to hold, and would be for a while. Varik stared out off the edge of the path. No sign of the dragon, but he dare not assume he was safe. He needed somewhere to hide. Though he’d cloaked himself from the dragon automatically, he was highly visible on the cliff path.
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Don't forget to check back on April 15 for the conclusion!
**AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fiction piece is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and has not been to an editor.**
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