The Callindra Chronicles Book 3: A Fall of Stars – Chapter 53

A huge and terrible dragon that was killed and taken over by some powerful force from they Abyss that only desired the destruction of all life was chasing her.   So far everything was going to plan. Callindra fought the urge to laugh hysterically.

She could hear the monster gaining on her despite running flat out and reminded herself to focus only on maintaining the spell and her course.  A steady rain of arrows began sinking into the dragon’s neck with solid sounds of impact. The attack barely slowed the beast, but that was all she needed to open the gap.  

Her desperate sprint took her directly toward the jumbled dam made from the rubble of a destroyed city that blocked the natural flow of the river with the monster close behind.  Callindra looked at the wall in front of her, scanning for Connor’s signal. A pinpoint of blue light flashed near the center of the structure. That’s when the sound of the dragon inhaling behind her and a glance that revealed it was close enough to steam the flesh from her bones no matter which way she dodged.  

The sight of the huge mouth opening like a cavern and the roiling green steam made her concentration scatter like a flock of startled doves.  Callindra lost her grip on the Weave and the spell abruptly ceased. She skipped once, the speed of her pace making the surface of the water as hard as stone before she slowed enough to sink below the filthy waves.  It saved her life.

The water just above her head was boiling and she could feel the heat even though it was dissipating rapidly in the water.  Before she could recover, the dragon swam past at full speed and she tumbled in its wake, losing all sense of direction in the murky water.  Her lungs screamed for air, but Callindra forced herself to relax and think. Releasing a tiny bubble of air from her rapidly dwindling supply, she felt it roll out of the corner of her mouth and past her ear.  She had been swimming in the wrong direction.

Spots swam behind her eyelids and she opened her mouth to take a desperate breath of fetid water when her head broke the surface.  Choking and coughing, Callindra struggled to tread water and take in the state of the battle. The coughing turned to hoarse cursing.  General Delanous had been correct; her plan hadn’t survived the first contact with the enemy.

Instead of chasing her until it slammed into the wall Connor and Vilhylm had weakened, the monster had stopped short and was casting about, most likely searching for the annoying bug that had escaped beneath the water.  There was no way for her to lead it into the wall now, but she wasn’t out of ideas yet. The only problem was she couldn’t tread water and cast a spell at the same time.

Arrows still flew from the far side of the lake, striking the monster with little effect but to annoy it.  Callindra swam forward as best she could but could see there was no way she could make it before the dragon lost interest or worse, found her as she swam.  Concentrating as she never had before, she formed the spell in her mind, moving her hands under the water and pulling Shadowsliver out at the last possible moment to release the spell.  

Whirling blades of air blasted from her blade to strike the wall mere yards from the dragon.  For a moment nothing happened except for the dragon turned in the water to focus on the source of the magic.  Then the wall gave way for a dozen yards, sending a torrent of water and a very surprised monster through the broken dam.  When the current began to draw her toward the rupture in the dam, she realized the flaw in her plan.

She opened her mouth to scream or curse and was rewarded with a mouthful of disgusting brackish water.  Spitting and coughing, Callindra frantically cast about for something to keep her from following the dragon over the dam.  Just as she got to the edge, she desperately hurled Shadowsliver at a crack between two jumbled pieces of stonework. His chain looped around a jutting piece of wall and she swung wildly out over the precipice, hung for a moment and then fell with a shriek as the chain slipped free.

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