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Solo III
Demon World
Part 029

Gail turns and glides up to the jungle. Away from the beach and away from the dwarves. Ada follows. You zig zag through the vines and underbrush faster and faster. Following her up through the canopy, then over it. There is a smoking volcano thrust up out of the center of the island, ringed by jungle and palms. The island is vaguely roundish. Gail spots a wide shallow stream by the break in the tree cannopy and suddenly the three of you are flying along skimming the surface. The stream rushing by underneath. Quickly you cover half the distance to the volcano's base then Gail pauses over a sandy bank. There is an enormous claw print there. Three talons forward and one back. Like a bird of prey, but one nine meters tall. She finds a spot where the underbrush is cleared from the jungle like a tunnel clear of vines and obstructions. She is racing up the length of the path. It is well trodden and something huge travels here to drink. Ada asks "Where are you taking us?" Gail responds like a teacher. "What is the one fallen spirit that can still see the astral plane even though they can't travel through it?" And with out waiting for the answer she says "Dragons." She is still runing up the path and without looking back she says "It's the only way to get them off our tail." And she hooks a thumb over her shoulder. Running after her, you look back, without breaking stride. You can see the six old dwarves in pursuit, gliding after you. Their bodies more like the absence of jungle than the presence of stars. Their long beards flowing white behind them. "I'm trying to find a dragon." Gail continues. "I read that they live on this island." She doesn't slow down, but suddenly leaps into a huge hole in the ground. The tracks lead there. Leaping in after her you see it to be a massive lava tube that goes down, then bends toward the volcano. Well... at least the walls look like they were melted by something hot enough burn a tunnel through basalt. "What use is that?" Ada asks. "Dragons never use magic and astral the dwarves will be as immune to fire breath as we are." "Yes, but not immune to their eyes." Says Gail rounding a bend and entering a cave with an enormous ancient dragon in it. "A dragon can see into the astral, even if they can no longer travel there, and anyone who submits and meets the gaze of a dragon submits there entire memory to its control. The dragon can..."

And that's all you hear as you can't help but look into the eyes of the dragon.

He looks back. Body coiled up, and that head of glistening scales. His eyes consume you. He reads your spirit. The dragon knows you already. You are committed to destroying all the demons. He also wants the demons gone. They are competitors in his eyes. He unlocks your memory. You remember being young, your mother, growing up, and your father. You remember the day it started raining and demons came pouring out of the mines. You remember getting fed up with killing one demon at a time, rescuing one child at a time. Gail gasps. The solid dragon fades into your mind and your own solid body springs into its place fully formed. You are now in the form of an astral dragon. This is going to take a lot of explaining. But first you have to get rid of those anoying dwarves.

The old white hairs enter the cavern. As an astral dragon you roar and lunge forward. This gives them pause. Throwing off their astral cloaks you see a brief flash of solid gold armor made of layers and plates before they dissappear.

David Michael Grouchy II

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