* * * Al’sonar cursed loudly as he felt the release of the magic binding Noraxxis. Anger swirled through him like a whirlwind, stealing away all other thoughts. It had to be today of all days. Giving the reigns in his hands a savage jerk, he yanked the mighty black under him to a halt. With a mental raking of his mind he ordered the powerful black speeding back towards the dragonkeep, knowing as he did so he was going to be too late. Berating himself he wondered, Why today of all days! The black dragon sped across the open sky with powerful thrusts of his wings. He had to come today on a day that I’m away. After nine years of summoning and waiting for him, he had to come now. Staring out over the landscape below him, he could hardly believe Micah had finally come after so long. And, he has brought the eye! Finally! As soon as I recover it, I can leave this place. No longer would I be bound to this world, just like Benjamin had been bound to Earth. I will finally be allowed to leave. That thought cause a small cruel smile to edge across his face. Finally, the thought echoed again in his head. It had been a long time coming. Almost thirty years, but now it was almost over. Noraxxis, that damn beast, must have told Micah how to remove the chains holding him. Damnit! I shouldn’t have left, he cursed silently. He had almost put off this trip to see the other Griegan dragonlords, almost. Sort of like a premonition, but he had put aside the feelings and had gone on anyway. If he had stayed he could have used the tooth in his pouch. Noraxxis could have been stopped regardless that Micah held the eye until they swore to each other. And if he had been there he could have had both objects. Now that they had joined, it would be harder. They had to have joined, that would have been the only way that Micah could have freed that damned old beast. Studying the giant black beast under him with its broad shoulders and spiny back, he wondered whether or not Taralas would be able to defeat the powerful red. He could see tints of red showing around the edges of Taralas’ scales and knew that the dragon had grown substantially in strength since they had joined, but still he wasn’t sure whether it would be enough. “I am sure sire,” answered a growling voice, cutting into his mind, interrupting his thoughts. “Noraxxis might be older and craftier but we are of the same size and almost equal in physical strength. With you on my back I am sure I can defeat him.” Not realizing he had left his mind open to the metal link, Al’sonar slammed it shut, closing it like a steel trap snapping onto a unsuspecting victims leg. Taralas flinched at the pain from the mental blow, like a beaten dog taking abuse from a hard master and said no more, but was still eager to try and please him. Spiraling downward, Taralas pulled out of his dive the moment he cleared the clouds. Al’sonar didn’t need to see the devastation surrounding the dragon keep to know that Noraxxis had finally escaped. Through the remains of the link he had forced upon the mighty red using the tooth, he could feel its primal emotions. Almost ten years of bitterness and rage had finally been released. It showed through the violent surges Al’sonar felt surging through his body. Noraxxis’ anger was justified, he knew the cause, he had deliberately provoked the beast for the past ten years, making him do acts that would make it so. The bitterness boiling inside the dragon had been directed at Micah, for not having answered the summons. Combining that with the rage, Al’sonar had hoped that the beast would have killed his rider when he had finally laid eyes on him. Or at least would have refused to have helped him and left him stranded until he returned to collect him. Micah should have been left feeling stranded and deserted, the same way he had been left thirty years ago. Without any riders or dragons to protect him and the eye, all he would have had to have done was capture and kill him and the eye would have passed over to him. It should have passed on to him twenty years but hadn’t, but that didn’t matter Micah might have escaped but he was finally here. All he had to do was follow him, he would lead him to the heart. Once that happened he could kill him and retake what rightfully belonged to him. The giant black touched down and before its wings had folded, Al’sonar was off its back and wading amongst the destruction that filled the courtyard of the dragonkeep. He had seen all he had too while flying overhead. Now all he had to do was find out where Micah and that damn Noraxxis had fled to. Noraxxis was now too far away now for him to make contact with. He had made good his escape, for now. It really didn’t matter, he was pretty sure he knew where they were headed. The servant of the eye had finally arrived, and he had to have help, he had to go to Valspar. A cruel smile twisted Al’sonar’s lips that would not be a problem, not any at all. He already had that little nest of traitors solved.