I seem to have miscalculated the time it took for the story to realign this time. Sorry for the delay:
Gwendolyn froze in terror behind the stone. She had to leave the safely of the boulder if she wanted to reach the star’s lover. But the dragon might not be able to reach her there, and she certainly felt safer behind the boulder. The dragon was huge, bigger than she had even imagined that a dragon could be. As she thought about this, she heard one of the voices from before.
“Stare fear in the eyes, master it, then walk confidently out from behind the boulder. If the dragon wanted to kill you he probably would already have done it.”
But then a second voice seemed to contradict the first, saying, “If the monster could do anything to Gwendolyn, he would have done it already. Don't be manipulated, but don't let his commands deter Gwendolyn from what she wants to do.”
‘They’re contradicting each other…’ Gwendolyn thought. Should she confront the dragon courageously? Or think twice before stepping out from her hiding place? The next voice Gwendolyn heard was the dragon’s, rumbling like thunder, scratching like gravel. “Halfling, you are trying my patience. Come out.”
“The dragon doesn't know as much as he is letting on if he thinks Gwendolyn is a halfling.” Said another voice.
Gwendolyn thought about this, and about what the second voice had said…. Maybe she shouldn’t let the dragon tell her what to do just yet. She could always confront him “confidently” from where she was.
“Why should I come out?” She called. “I can talk to you from here.”
“So you are there. I wasn’t quite sure…” the dragon rumbled. “Its been many years since anyone tried to come in the back way. Are you here to see Cadderon’s prisoner?”
Gwendolyn frowned. “Who is Cadderon?”
The dragon sent out several short, impatient bursts of smoke. “Don’t feign ignorance with me, halfling.” He said sternly. “All have heard of the man Cadderon, who rules the Iron Kingdom, and calls himself the Dragon King.”
“So…you’re not the Dragon King?” Gwendolyn asked.
The beast snorted with indignation. “Dragons have no king. I and my brethren are bound to serve Cadderon, but although we follow his commands, we have sworn no oaths, and bear him no love.” He paused. “If we were not bound, we would devour Cadderon and his kingdom, doing as we did to man in the days before the so-called king came.”
Gwendolyn thought about this a moment, then asked, “So, where is Cadderon?”
The dragon snorted again, sending sparks and smoke flying. “On his throne, I imagine.” The dragon paused. “ If you want to see him, I’ll take you there.”
Gwendolyn considered this for a moment. The dragon was large and frightening, and as her voices had pointed out, not nescessarally honest. Still, she didn’t want to seem rude to him.
“Maybe later.” She answered. Just then the man on the stone slab moaned again, full of sorrow and anguish. The sound was heart breaking.
“Is that the star’s lover?” Gwendolyn asked.
“That man is called Fisher, warrior of a lost people, and lover to the star Ariadne, who is also, in a sense, lost.”
Fisher continued to moan for several minutes, thrashing around wildly. While Gwendolyn watched the warrior, the dragon watched the stone she was hiding behind. After a few moments, the dragon said, “If you’d like to help Fisher, you could go over there and unchain him.”
Gwendolyn didn’t need her voices to tell her that this sounded suspicious. “Aren’t you guarding him?” she asked.
“Yes, but as I told you, I bear no great love for Cadderon. I’ll let you unchain Fisher and if you can wake him, perhaps I just won’t see the two of you leave.”
Gwendolyn hestated. She didn’t trust the dragon, not even a little bit.
As if he could sense her hesitation, the dragon asked,“What else can you do? You must have had a difficult time getting this far; the only thing back where you have come from is the cold darkness and the chattering foolshness of the water mites. Behold the man’s suffering…” The dragon swept his arm toward Fisher, sending a gust of wind through the cave, “do you not wish to help him?”
It’s odd, I hadn’t thought much about what’s down the other end of the tunnel. Whatever is a water mite? Not that it really matters to the choice at hand; Gwendolyn seems sure that the dragon can’t be trusted, but he is offering a chance to attain one of our goals, namely the liberation of Fisher. Should we take this chance?
Please leave your comments for Gwendolyn below. I’ve readjusted my insturments, and I feel reasonably certain that this point in the story should be open until midnight on Friday night.
Thank you for your assistance.