“You will train the beast!” the Prime ordered. “If he did not come from the Sandcor then we shall turn him on them.”
“His is not a beast to be trained, my Prime,” Delevy tried to explain once again. “He is a thinking, reasoning being. Why would he fight on our side if he does not even come from here? He has no stake in our war.”
The Prime came from around his desk and grasp Delevy’s chin in his powerful hand. He raised her head so she could look into his angry, dark eyes.
“He has become quite close to you,” the Prime hissed. “You will convince him to fight for us and we will see what he is worth.”
He gave her chin a powerful squeeze which ground Delevy’s teeth together in her jaw. He dropped his hand. “You may pit him against the Sandcor prisoners. He will fight or he will die. Prepare him. I give you one full turn to make him ready.” The Prime swept back around his desk and flopped into his chair. “Go!”
“You have to fight.” Delevy pleaded. “If you do not fight the Sandcor, they will kill you. They have nothing to lose. All of them have been prisoners here for ages.”
“I will not kill for your Prime!” Tal’on repeated himself. His tail slashed across the stone floor, the scales clattering to the tune of his anger. “I hold nothing against these Sandcor, or your people. I want to go home!” He roared.
The cell was becoming unbearable hot. These days, since the change, Tal’on seemed to put off an inordinate amount of body heat when he was angry or even frustrated. Delevy had been working with Tal’on for over half a turn. She tried everything to get him to realize he was going to have to defend himself when he was thrown in with the Sandcor in the stadium. The Prime was having a steel cage cover constructed over the field so Tal’on could not fly away. Though no one knew whether he could fly or not, since he had not been allowed to leave his cell.
Delevy tried to sway Tal’on’s feelings toward the Sandcor. She told him about their invasion of towns, the bombing raids over the unprotected outlying villages, the terrorist attacks on the trade routes, and the killing of innocent women and children. Tal’on just continued to shake his head. It was not his war. And, didn’t the Valdare do the same to the Sandcor? He wanted no part of it. His species were peaceful.
Delevy sat down on the one lone chair she had brought into his cell. “Please Tal’on,” she begged.
“Help me escape,” Tal’on suggested. “I will take you with me,” he offered, “away from all this fighting and death.” He waved a wing to indicate the whole of her world.
Delevy had to admit the offer was tempting, but there were so many unknown variables. Tal’on had not flown yet. He admitted he did not know if it was going to be instinct or if he had to be taught by the Great. Another thing the Greats chose to not reveal in advance of the stasis.
“We wouldn’t make it past the guards,” she pointed out. “Remember how the prods brought you down in the square?”
“I am bigger now and stronger,” Tal’on boasted. “My scales are larger and thicker. I bet I have gained double my weight.” He nudged her with a paw. “My claws are twice as long.” He proved his point by extending them to show her the lethal looking sharp weapons. “And there is something I have not shown you,” he went on.
The room’s temperature instantly rose at least another ten degrees. Smoke trailed from Tal’on’s nostrils. This was not the first time Delevy saw these wisps, but it was the first time for what came next. Tal’on inhaled and when he exhaled fire shot across the room and hit the far wall. The blue stones in the wall took on a deeper sheen.
Delevy bolted from her chair. “What the…!”
“I did it in my sleep last night,” Tal’on explained. “I have seen the older dragons breathe fire, but I did not know how it was done until I woke up with my blanket on fire.”
He grinned at her as if that were a good thing.
Delevy went to the wall and gingerly reached out a finger to touch where the fire hit. It was so hot she burned her finger. She stood sucking it and thinking. Maybe they could escape. Maybe there was hope.
When Delevy left that afternoon, Tal’on went to the wall to retrieve the Sollen. He smiled to himself as he extended a claw to pry it from its hiding place. He had not paid attention where he was throwing his fire earlier and it hit the Sollen. Now as he flicked it into his paw with one long claw it not only vibrated, but it sang. It sang softly, but it sang. He tilted his wedge shaped head and studied it. Could it have been the blast of dragon fire? It had to be. He had done nothing different to it.
Perhaps he only needed to hit it a few more times before it would be loud enough for Graf’tal to hear and come for him.
Provided he had not jumped too far.
He couldn’t have.
He had to be within hearing range.
Delevy came in the cell with his dinner sometime later. She was trailed by two servants carrying trays of meat. Beyond the smell of the roasted flesh Tal’on could smell something else. Something he was not familiar with. The servants placed the trays before the dragon and hurried out.
“What is wrong, Delevy?” He asked after they were out of earshot.
“Nothing. Why?” She asked in return.
“Something is not right,” Tal’on laid back his ears and sniffed at the meat.
“It’s dinner as usual,” she lied.
He didn’t know exactly what was going on. He had not learned how to smell deceit yet. He lowered his head and took a mouthful of meat. As soon as the roast hit his stomach he began to feel dizzy.
“What have you done?” He asked in a voice that was already becoming slurred.
Delevy came up to him and placed her hands under his head as his legs buckled and he went down to the floor. She eased his head down gently.
“Only what I was ordered to do,” she said softly. “I am so sorry.”
There was not going to be any escape.