Chapter 2 Episode 3
Owen, Floren, Misa, and Calebth stood at the mouth of the cave, staring down at the baby dragon. What were they going to do? None of them knew the first thing about how to take care of him. What did he eat? What did he drink?
Floren scratched behind his ear. “Can’t he fend for himself? He is a dragon, after all.”
“Mowg’s only a baby. He’d starve.” Tears welled up in Calebth’s eyes, and he swallowed hard, hoping no one noticed. “Either that or those wretched goblins will come back for him.”
“The boy is right,” said Misa. “I overheard one of those idiots say something about Morogon wanting them to bring Mowg back to him. They may have run off, but they haven’t given up. They’re not about to go back to the mage empty-handed.”
Calebth’s heart lifted. He knew his opinion didn’t carry any weight, but maybe Misa could have some influence on the other two.
Floren growled. “I don’t know about you, but I have no desire to play nursemaid to a baby dragon, orphan or not.”
She gave him an indignant sniff. “First you want to eat the poor thing, and then you suggest leaving him to Morogon’s mercy. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
“I don’t see you volunteering to take care of him.”
Calebth swiveled his head back and forth between the two, listening to them swap insults. He was about to step between them and offer to take care of Mowg himself when Owen spoke up. “We’ll take him to Dragon Island.”
“Only one problem with that,” Misa said. “We need to hire a boat to take us there. How are we going to do that? We have no money.”
Floren grinned. “I have an idea.” He pointed north. “See that mountain ridge over yonder?”
“What about it?”
“It’s the Mountain of Mines. I used to work there. It’s been abandoned for a long time, but I’m sure there’s more than enough gold left to get us passage on a small boat on its way to the island.”
“B-but isn’t that place haunted?” Calebth can hardly get the words to come out of his mouth. “That’s what the old dwarves who used to work there always say, anyway.”
Floren glared at him. “Have you got any better ideas?”
Nobody did, so the travelers headed toward the mines. They rode the rest of the day and part of the night before they reached their destination. Everyone wanted to stop and make camp. Continue in the morning, but Owen insisted they keep going. “We’re being followed.”
Calebth rode behind jim, his arms around Mowg, who was sound asleep. He’d been fighting it himself for the last hour, but when he heard those words, his heart lurched, and his eyes snapped open.
Floren sniffed the air. “I smell goblin.”
Misa eyed him. “The idiots from the cave, no doubt. I told you we hadn’t seen the last of them.
“How much farther?” Owen asked.
“We’re almost to the Tunnel of Darkness,” Floren said. “Don’t dismount. Ride inside, and I’ll stay behind to close the gate so they can’t follow.”
They urged their tired mounts to move a little faster until they reached the entrance a short time later. It was pitch black inside. Mira struck a match and lit some torches she found left in a niche on the wall. Calebth felt a little better once he could see. Until he glimpsed the sign.
Misa held her light up high and read aloud. “Beware.” Beneath that, there was a crude drawing of a skull and crossbones. “Man-sized vampire bats ahead. Proceed at your own risk.”
She groaned. “This wasn’t such a good idea, after all.”
All out of breath, Floren trotted up to them. “Don’t be such a chicken.”
“I’m not.” Misa rolled her eyes. “I just don’t want to die in this wretched cave.”
Calebth swallowed hard. He didn’t either. And he fancied he heard the sound of wings flapping in the distance.
Floren puffed out his chest. “If I have to die, at least I’ll be laid to rest in my home place with all my kin. My father, my grandfather, and his father before him.”
As the noise grew closer, Owen drew his sword. “Enough talk.”