“I’m open to suggestions,” he said, sending away another burst of flame that came close enough that I could have used it to toast marshmallows.
“The diversion was my suggestion.”
“If you come up with any specifics beyond throwing a rock, feel free to share.”
If this had been one of those movies about a dragonslayer hero rescuing a damsel in distress, we’d have been kissing and expressing our true feelings toward each other about now, fearing that we were about to die and not wanting our love to go unspoken. Instead, we were practically bickering, and we’d never had anything close to a fight before. I tried to tell myself that this was actually a healthy sign in the growth of our relationship because it meant we trusted each other enough to say what we really felt. No matter how cute I thought Owen was, sweet nothings were not at the top of my mind at this particular moment.
“The one blocking the exit seems to be the problem,” I pointed out. “If you could zap it, or whatever it is you do, that might help. We could sneak past the others and get away.”
“I’m not sure I know a spell acute enough to get through a dragon’s scales to kill it—not off the top of my head—but that does give me an idea,” he said, never taking his eyes off the lead dragon, which was now sniffing along the ground like a bloodhound in a disturbingly accurate path following where we’d been. It wouldn’t be long before it found us.
“I’m all ears,” I said.
“It’s a spell that might help, but I haven’t tried it on dragons. Or, well, really tried it in the real world. It’s just a theory. It may or may not work, and it could possibly backfire.”
“I’m immune to magic. I’m okay with backfiring.”
“It could make them angrier.”
“Still not seeing how that makes our situation much worse. Trapped by angry dragons versus trapped by angrier dragons. There’s not a significant difference.”
“Okay, then. Be ready to react.”
“I’m not sure. Maybe run. Or duck. This might be a good time to be ready to throw something. I’m going to have to lift the invisibility spell to do this because I don’t have the power to do both at the same time and be sure it will work.”
I knelt to pick up a brick and hefted it in my right hand. “Okay, I’m set. Go for it.”
He raised both hands over his head and shouted some strange words in a louder voice than I’d ever heard him use. In the underground chamber, his words echoed and rang. With his arms raised, silhouetted against the dragons’ unearthly flames, he truly looked the part of the powerful wizard. Suddenly, the dragons stopped shooting fire. They also stopped roaring and snarling. Instead they…whimpered?
The one in front even seemed to be wagging its tail, which was almost as dangerous as when it had been waving its claw. It lowered its head to the ground in a submissive posture, and if I wasn’t mistaken, it was giving Owen puppy-dog eyes. In fact, it looked for all the world like a puppy begging its master to throw a stick for it to fetch.
“Was this what was supposed to happen?” I asked.
“I wasn’t entirely sure what was supposed to happen,” he admitted.
“Now you tell me.”
“I did say it was untested.”
“So, this is how you get Jake to follow your orders,” I teased.
“You know, I’ve never thought of trying that.” He paused, tilted his head, and grinned at the thought. “But actually, I was expecting it to subdue them, maybe even put them to sleep. I must have done something wrong. But they do seem to have become friendly enough. Want to try getting out of here?”
“I’m more than ready.”
He took my hand, and together we edged our way around the chamber. The lead dragon whimpered again and moved as though to follow us. “I think it wants you to play fetch,” I said.
“That is what it looks like.” He raised his free hand and sent one of the railroad ties lying in a rotting pile in one corner flying across the chamber. The dragons all turned and happily chased it. We took advantage of the distraction to run toward the exit, but next thing we knew, there was a “thud” on the ground behind us. We turned to see a railroad tie lying there, covered in dragon slime, with a dragon sitting expectantly behind it. “Uh, good boy,” Owen said before sending the tie flying again.
We managed to run a few more yards and even out of the chamber before the dragon brought its stick back to us. This time, Owen sent several of the railroad ties flying in different directions. That gave us a little extra time, as the dragons all collided while they ran after their sticks. We were just through the doorway out of the next chamber and into a narrower passageway when the dragons happily brought their sticks back to Owen, dropping them just inside the doorway.