The wind was flowing under the large purple wings of Ladon over rivers, streams, hills and mountains. The wind was rushing through Lou Ann’s hair like water through a dam. He was swinging side to side, making her dizzy, and then his deep, calm voice filled her ears, “Awake, little one, awake.”
She opened her eyes, trying to remember what had happened and where she was. All the memories came back to her when she saw the tan, concerned face of her brother Nathan, standing over her.
“She’s awake,” he breathed as he turned behind him.
Only then did Lou Ann realize that another man was there. The man had dark brown, almost black hair, curling at his neck, and bright piercing blue eyes. His eyes stared directly into hers, and for a second, Lou Ann forgot that Nathan was there at all until he put his hand on her forehead.
“You’re burning up. You should try to eat something before you fall asleep again,” Nathan said, with that brotherly tone her had used on her so many times when they were little. He only used that voice when he was pitying someone, and she did not want to be pitied right now.
“I want to get up. Now,” she said in her best impression of their mother she could muster. He looked at her for a second, squinting his eyes, and then turned towards the man again.
“Cole, why don’t you take Lou Ann outside. Fresh air does wonders to the mind and body,” Nathan said. Nathan got up, and then left the room, apparently in a hurry. The man behind him, Cole she now knew, was walking towards her with a mug of some warm, brown liquid and sat down in the chair her brother had been in moments ago.
“You have to drink something first, then I will take you somewhere… wonderful.” he said in a deeper voice then Lou Ann expected. He pressed the mug into her hands, and then sat back, staring at the ceiling.
Only then did she look over the mug around the room. It was a brick-walled room, with dark stained wood flooring. A metal counter top and sink took up the wall opposite to her bed, and a little circular window was directly behind where Cole was sitting now. After taking everything in the small room in, she turned her gaze to Cole. He was still gazing at the ceiling, and as if he could she was looking at him, he turned his blue eyes to her. He looked at her for a long time as if thinking of something that was important.
“You look a lot like Nathan,” was all he said.
“I don’t care if I look like him,” she spat at him. “I am a separate person entirely. Different ideas, different interests, different person.”
“I didn’t mean it in a bad way, your brother was one of my only good friends in the army,” he stated.
“He can be nice when he wants to, and only to people he likes. He must think you are very important or something,” she said in a bitter tone.
“The girl’s feisty,” he said as he got up and put his hand out towards her. She glared at him for a second, and then got up by herself, but when she stood up, she got very dizzy, and somehow she ended up in his careful grip.
“You hit your head pretty hard when you fell off that dragon of yours,” he said, looking into her eyes with an emotion she couldn’t quite place.
“Hmph. Well, are we going to go see that wonderful place you were talking about now?”
All he did was drop his hands, and turn around. He opened the door and stepped out of her path so she could walk through the door. She didn’t say thank you, she just walked ahead, absorbing the view.
The hallway had a very musty smell. The wall and floor were made of very dark, rough stones that held veins of fool's gold. Everything looked very wet, and mold was growing near the chipped wood trim. It was lit by blue glowing dwarven lights hanging off the walls.
“Not exactly a palace, but this place keeps us safe. It is more of a bunker in the warmer parts of the Beor Mountains. I put wards up on the door, but they aren't very strong. We were waiting for you to get up, so you could put up stronger ones to block stronger dragon riders like Galbatorix and Murtagh,” he said as they walked up a set of steep stairs. The path was still lit by the blue hanging lights, but small windows at the top of the walls every few yards let in the yellow warmth of the outside world. Lou Ann knew from the moment she looked at Cole that he was something else, but a warlock was different. Too much like Galbatorix, she thought.
The stairs ended and Cole and Lou Ann walked for another few corridors until they reached two rusty, wooden doors. They were held tight by large iron beams that were branded will the symbol of the Yawe that indicated the bond of trust. Cole quickened his pace and opened the doors with a grunt, swinging them wide enough for her to fit through easily. The world outside was entirely different than the inside of this nasty place, Lou Ann thought to herself.
They stood on a swirling marble patio with large, white marble columns holding up a sapphire blue gemstone roof that most likely cost more than her entire house in Daret. It looked like the sea, with its uneven edges reflecting blue light in odd angles. Cole sat down on marble benches that matched the columns and admired the blue light. Lou Ann went to sit next to him, but as she did, the entire structure started to shake. Cole’s head snapped up to attention, and Lou Ann reached down to find her sword, only to realize that all of her weapons were gone, taken from her for safety reasons.
Why would they take away her sword? She needed to defend herself as much as anyone else, especially when she didn’t know where Ladon was. He could be anywhere, and just the thought made her stomach turn. Galbatorix might have him. No one had told her otherwise, and she didn’t think anyone was looking for him. She was about to turn around and search for her dragon herself when a big cracking noise vibrated through the ground, and into Lou Ann’s body.
She looked up, and saw at least two hundred soldiers, all wearing Galbatorix’s uniform. Lou Ann screamed and dived for Cole, who was still standing next to the marble bench, with his sword in hand. A look of horror was one his face, and Lou Ann realized then that Nathan had indeed protected Cole the entire time in the army. He was only a warlock, and he had no battle experience.
She reached for his belt, hoping to grab one of the daggers, just as the entire roof collapsed in on them. The doors opened, and a group of soldiers came out of a bunker and collided with Galbatorix’s soldiers. The clashing of steel on steel, and of bone cracking echoed off the walls.
Lou Ann searched for her brother. What had he been wearing last? Why hadn’t she payed more attention in the bunker? Then she saw him, leading a group of five soldiers towards her. He had an odd look on his face, like he was in pain. When he reached her, she felt a wave of dizziness. She didn’t know where Cole was, and Nathan wasn’t helping her stand at all. She looked around in confusion. Nathan grabbed her arm and threw her on the ground. She realized it then. Her brother was wearing the wrong colors.
He was on Galbatorix's side, and he was a commander in his army.