The Dragon's Gate
The pounding of hoofbeats on the dusty dirt road echoed outside their carriage and the sky above was blue with small white, cottony clouds. The horses picked up their pace and Constantinople faded into the distance behind them. Lunch was a light meal of cold chicken, apples and water. The horses carried the carriage farther north and they saw the same merry band of Bulgarian Gypsies camped off the road near the edge of the forest as they passed the beach with Silver Sand.
The afternoon skies turned gray and cloudy as their black carriage approached the Southern Carpathian Mountains in the central part of Wallachia. They were looking for the Silver Dragon and believed him to be hiding behind the Dragon's Gate at his castle perched high in the Transylvanian Alps. A thin, winding path wound its way up the side of a silver gray mountain and a clear stream snaked its way past the black carriage into the depths of the forests below. By the time they reached the castle at the top of the mountain, the air outside was foggy and cold. Levi stopped the horses at the Dragon's Gate and his cargo of passengers spilled out of the carriage onto the paved gravel outside the castle's gate.
Alexander, the urn-carrying passenger pulled on a long rope near the huge iron gate that rang a big, iron bell. The clanging of the bell echoed from somewhere within the castle, but no one appeared at the gate. They waited a few minutes longer, and were starting to head back to the carriage, when suddenly a huge cloud of smoke and sparks appeared inside the Dragon's Gate. The Dragon's head was visible in the smoke and it moved slowly forward on massive claws and a long, think heavy silver tail until it was staring directly at them behind its own iron bars, the tail swishing slowly in the dust behind him.
Ruby shrieked and clapped her hands to her head,
"Oh mama! It's the Silver Dragon! Hurry!"
Hazel wasn't worried.
"Quick Ruby - we'll shift quickly and the Dragon will never know we're here."
Ruby swirled her cape around her shoulders and flew in circles nervously over the black carriage like the little sunbird she really was. Hazel turned in to Sapphire and perched on one side of the castle's gate, while Finn climbed up the rocks on the opposite side, trying to get a better look inside the castle. Levi hiked up the hill, looking for another entrance to the castle while Alexander watched the Silver Dragon, still holding onto his Silver Urn. Zoe stood in front of the Dragon's Gate and waited for Levi.
Suddenly, Finn's foot slipped on the rocks and the iron gate started to slowly creak and whine its way upward. Finn shrieked and held onto the rocks with both hands, looking for a foothold. The Dragon started breathing fire and smoke into the air while moving slowly toward the rising Iron Gate. Alexander placed his Silver Urn carefully on the ground in front of the Dragon, like an offering, and then began to slowly back away, cowering as he went. Levi made his way back down the side of the mountain, heading toward the Dragon's Gate. Zoe watched the gate as it continued its slow creep upward.
"Hurry Finn!" Zoe shouted. "See if you can find a release lever in the rocks somewhere! Hurry! Before the Dragon gets out and eats us all!"
Finn was still fumbling among the rocks, feeling around with his hands for something that would bring the Gate back down. Sapphire kept an eye on things from her perch and Levi held the sword Adamant at the ready in case he needed to slay the Silver Dragon. The Dragon swished its tail and Levi watched its long pink tongue flick outwards toward the shadow of the retreating urn-carrying passenger. Zoe tried to lead the Dragon away from Alexander and into Levi's sword, but the Dragon wasn't having any.
"Why have you come here to disturb me in this way?" The Silver Dragon questioned Zoe with much fire and sparks and smoke spewing out into the air as a result.
"We are not here to disturb you, Silver Dragon. We only come seeking the answers we must find."
The Dragon turned his head toward Levi and at that instant, Finn's hand yanked something hard within the iron gray rocks. Suddenly, the Iron Gate came crashing down on the back of the Silver Dragon just as he had turned his head in the direction of Levi's sword. The middle spike of the castle Gate pierced the Dragon's spine through and through while the remaining spikes buried themselves behind the Dragon's neck. The Silver Dragon heaved its last beleaguered sigh, and closed its eyes in death.
"Good work Finn!" Levi grabbed Finn's hand and pulled him off the castle's rocks. Finn jumped down and examined the Dragon's head closely. Levi used the sword Adamant to chop off the Dragon's front two claws. Sapphire shifted into Hazel and Alexander was gone. Levi wrapped one Dragon Claw and put it into his Travel Pack. He gave the other Dragon Claw to Finn, along with the sword Adamant, for his further use and protection.