A Realm of Shadows
shock. And then joy.
    “Father!” she
    She ran into his
arms, and Duncan embraced her, as she embraced him back. As he held her in his
arms, he felt restored again, as if a part of himself had returned.
    Tears of joy ran
down his cheeks. He could hardly believe Kyra was really here, and alive.
    She clutched him
and he clutched her, and he was relieved most of all, as he felt her shaking in
his arms, that she was uninjured.
    Remembering, he pushed
her back, turned to the dragon, drew his sword, and raised it, about to chop
off the dragon’s head to protect his daughter.
    “No!” Kyra
    She stunned Duncan by rushing forward and grabbing his wrist, her grip surprisingly strong, and holding
back his blow. This was not the meek daughter he had left behind in Volis; she
was clearly a warrior now.
    Duncan looked back at
her, baffled.
    “Do not harm him,”
she commanded, her voice confident, the voice of a warrior. “Theon is my
    Duncan looked at her,
    “Your friend ?”
he asked. “A dragon?”
    “Please, Father,”
she said, “there is little time to explain. Help us. He is pinned down. I
cannot remove this boulder alone.”
    Duncan , as shocked as
he was, trusted her. He sheathed his sword, came up beside her, and pushed at
the boulder with all his might. Yet, try as he did, it barely budged.
    “It’s too heavy,”
he said. “I can’t. I am sorry.”
    Suddenly, there
came the rattling of armor behind him and Duncan turned and was overjoyed to
see Aidan, Anvin, Cassandra, and White all rush forward. They had come back for
him, had risked their lives, too, once again.
hesitating, they all ran right up to the boulder and pushed.
    It rolled a bit,
but still they could not get it off.
    There came the
sound of gasping, and Duncan turned to see Motley rushing to catch up with the
others, out of breath. He joined them, throwing his weight into the boulder—and
this time, it began to really roll. Motley, the actor, the overweight fool, the
one they had expected the least of, made the difference in getting the boulder
off the dragon.
    With one last
heave it landed with a crash, in a cloud of dust, and the dragon was free.
    Theon jumped to
his feet and screeched, arching his back, extending his talons. In fury, he
looked up at the sky. A big purple dragon had spotted them, was diving down
right for them, and Theon, without pausing, leapt into the air, opened his
jaws, and flew straight up, locking on the soft jugular of the unsuspecting
    Theon held on
with all his might. The huge dragon shrieked in fury, thrown off guard, clearly
not expecting as much from the baby dragon, and the two of them went smashing down
into a stone wall on the far side of the courtyard.
    Duncan and the
others exchanged a look of shock as Theon wrestled the dragon, refusing to let
go of the squirming big dragon, pinning it down on the far side of the
courtyard. Theon, ferocious, writhed, snarling, and did not let go until the
much larger dragon finally went limp.
    For a moment,
they all had a respite.
    “Kyra!” Aidan
called out.
    Kyra looked down
and noticed her little brother, and Duncan watched with joy as Aidan ran into Kyra’s
arms. She embraced him, while White jumped up and licked Kyra’s palms, clearly thrilled.
    “My brother,” Kyra
gushed, her eyes filled with tears. “You are alive.”
    Duncan could hear the
relief in her voice.
    Aidan’s eyes suddenly
lowered in sadness.
    “Brandon and Braxton
are dead,” he announced to Kyra.
    Kyra paled. She
turned and looked to Duncan, and he nodded in solemn confirmation.
    Suddenly Theon
flew up and landed before them, flapping his wings and gesturing for Kyra to
climb on his back. Duncan heard the roars high above, and he looked up to see
them all circling, preparing to dive.
    To Duncan’s awe, Kyra mounted Theon. There she sat, atop a dragon, strong, fierce, having all
the poise of a great warrior. Gone was the little girl he had once

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