- Episode 26 -
Percival's hooves pounded the ground like the thunder of summer storm. Something hadn't set well with Mal since the last attack, it was too restrained. If they had been after the key or the kids they would have been more ruthless and just slain them. No, he decided they're purpose had to be the same as a coachman's whip - to drive them onward. That meant they had to be being followed, shattered shields!
It was too late now for any regrets, they were already nearing the Vault and there wasn't any time to double back and lose whatever was tailing them. The only advantage they had left was the knowledge the Vault might still hold a clutch of guardian dragons and they alone had the key. If they were going to make a stand to defend the Vault, one with dragons on their side was a far better chance than without.
"Trinity," Mal's voice suddenly broke the clamor being made by Percival to pull both children's attention directly to him. "I am going to need you to use the book and when we enter the vale you should be able to call upon the Vault to open itself to us." As he spoke the ground beneath them changed and Trinity realized they already passing swiftly down into a green valley hedged on it's sides by verdant trees.
But something wasn't right, she could feel it but had not the words to express it. Mal had said that the Vault was beyond being located, even by magical means. And yet, as they approached she could feel something dark and terrible seeping like poison from a wound. Trinity wanted to warn Mal but as she opened her mouth to find the words Mal cut her short. "Quickly now, we are being followed!"
Trinity had to try to concentrate, she opened the book and let it's magic fill her mind. "How am I supposed to get the Vault to open itself for us," she found herself asking aloud. Never one to miss an opportunity for a witty remark, Camden was quick to answer. "Try knocking," he told her with a snicker.
Trinity wanted nothing more than to criticize her brother, to tell him that he was in fact not helping her at all. Instead, as strange it sounded the very thought of knocking caused the pages to flutter and land on a passage in response. Perhaps it was, in fact, just that simple. Carefully she began to sing aloud the words that chimed into her ears like motes of a beautiful song.
And just like that the empty air before them took on a sheen in the scattered light of the vale as a singular large ironclad door loomed before them like the waiting maw of a titan. The door opened with a pained groan, it's massive hinges complaining like some old mans knees. They hurried inside, and behind them the door closed itself once more with an equal measure of objection. The sound was almost mirrored by Mal as he immediately paused with a gasp of shock.
Laying before him within the Vault of Echoes were the littered corpses of several young dragons. Only a single dragon limped forward from the shadows to greet them, it's scales like sapphires and it's claws polished silver. Blazing white eyes looked upon them that had grown dim, and the last guardian now stood before them it's strength failing.
The old knight's mind reeled as he fought to grasp what could have happened to leave such a sight awaiting him. And as his gaze looked around to make sense of matters his fear deepened. Much of the Vault of Echoes had collapsed in on itself, burying untold treasures that had been locked away. Even Mal and Camden could see nightmarish magics drifting aloft through the air as they clashed upon each other or the walls around them. He didn't know what to make of it or what he could even begin to imagine happened.
"We have to leave this place, now," Trinity pleaded terror clear in her tone. Mal couldn't question the dire wisdom in the notion as he found his mouth now dry and his hand upon his sword's hilt. "Agreed," he confirmed and jerked Percival's reins to turn his trusty steed about. Trinity set herself to reopen the door just as Camden slipped from the saddle to sprint his way towards the dragon.
"We can't just leave him," Camden protested. But Trinity had already begun her song, the magic was weaving itself into motion she couldn't stop now.