((A/N: You're in for a doosy. I hope everyone enjoys this update, because it was exhausting to write (but not in a bad way!). Just get ready for a lot of emotional times as Dragon Mark makes its way into its final chapters. Thank you for all of your continued support, and please remember to REVIEW!))


Chapter 11

Another week passed, with no word from Jack or the outside world. While I had expected Wuya to return in the next day or so, she and Jack remained curiously absent. I didn't ask Chase about their disappearance; ever since our night in the sanctuary together, he had grown increasingly distant and cold. I had the distinct feeling that I was running out of time, but for what, I still didn't know.

Like in the past few weeks, I started my days at dawn with training. Chase continued to push me to my limits, never letting me rest until I perfected a move or attack. I was slowly learning the way he moved and thought in battle; while he still remained largely unpredictable, every once in a while I was able to see where he would go next and block or avoid his attack. He seemed the most pleased with this progress, but my learning also had its consequences. After the training sessions where I was able to block him, he almost always transformed into his dark side. Often, he would drink his disgusting smelling soup and disappear into his lair before I even had a chance to get to my feet.

And yet, I still had patience for him. Although I was frustrated with my lack of knowledge and Chase's cryptic ways, I tried to seek him out whenever I could. On occasion, I would be able to calm him down and revert him to his regular personality, whatever that was. He seemed both grateful and annoyed, and usually avoided me afterwards until he had something else for me to do.

We were no longer student and teacher, or even apprentice or master. He no longer looked at me like I was just his prisoner and a means to gain power. I could even feel my disdain for him slowly ebbing away. I had no name for our strange relationship, but I didn't want to acknowledge that we had become something else; I didn't know what that even meant! My thoughts were becoming twisted together, alternating with attraction and repulsion.

It had to be Stockholm syndrome.

I contemplated this as I wearily walked back to my room, sore from the last bout of training. Chase had been harsher than usual on the offensive today, and my body still felt like it was on fire. All I wanted to do was soak in an ice cold bath until my limbs were numb, but as I pushed open the door to my room, I knew that wasn't going to happen.

Jack was lying in my bed, propped up on pillows and his hands behind his head. "Miss me?" he said suggestively, winking as he patted the bed beside him.

In response, I groaned and collapsed facedown next to him. "How long have you been here?" I asked, my voice muffled by the blankets.

"Just got here. Wuya's off to find Chase and I figured I'd pop in and see how you were doing…What has Chase been doing to you? You look like you got run over by a truck."

"I feel like it," I mumbled back. I carefully rolled over onto my side and rubbed my shoulders, wincing all the while. "Did you find anything out from Wuya?"

"She keeps yelling at me about taking over the world. Well, that's pretty normal, but lately she's been a lot more adamant about it. I think she's expecting Chase to get her a body somehow."

"But why wouldn't Chase have given her a body before? He's powerful enough to do it."

"…Maybe not. I mean, you told me how he's been acting lately. Chase could be growing weaker with whatever he's dealing with. Either way, Wuya is still obsessing over him. She dragged me out of bed at eleven in the morning just to get me to come here with her."

I rolled my eyes at Jack, but I could feel cold begin to seep through my veins. Chase may not have been as powerful right now, but he had a vessel of Heylin energy at his disposal- me. What if he and Wuya were planning behind my back to take over the world? Chase could have easily fooled me into thinking I was here for a different purpose than three years ago. Even though he had promised not to use me to conquer the world, I knew he was more than capable of tricking me.

I had been here for six weeks, and while doubts continuously peppered my thoughts, none were so strong as this one. I glanced over at Jack to see him lazily staring at the ceiling, unconcerned that he might have just uncovered my real purpose here.

"She's probably just being her usual crazy self," I said slowly, careful not to reveal my true feelings. "Wuya hasn't had a body since Raimundo helped her, and Chase has been around for a few years now. If he hasn't helped her already, I don't think he will."

Two hours later, we were both summoned to the training hall by a pair of jungle cats that had been sent to fetch us. Jack had kept me busy with video games and chatter about the outside world, partially distracting me from the doubts that now plagued my mind. While he was laid back and unconcerned on our walk, I remained stiff and wary. There was no way that Chase would use me like that again. He wasn't the same person as he was three years ago, and with his split-personality disorder, I knew there was something deeper going on behind his actions.

But even so, I couldn't help but let my nerves overtake rationality.

When we entered the hall, Chase and Wuya were waiting on the side, engaging in light conversation. I immediately caught Chase's eye as we approached, and he gave me a slight nod. Wuya glanced over at the two of us appraisingly, and I glared back at her. She sneered and turned her gaze to Jack, who was texting on a cellphone, and I watched as her expression deflated into annoyance.

"Kimiko," Chase called, meeting my eyes again. I felt a shiver run down my spine, even though there was no hint of darkness in his gaze. Chase jerked his head towards Jack, and I instantly knew what he was up to. "Attack."

Immediately I whirled on my feet and sent a small wave of fire towards Jack, just enough to singe his clothes and alert him to my presence. He yelped and jumped backwards, cellphone still in hand.

"What the hell was that?" Jack shouted angrily at me. I rolled my eyes and sent another wave of fire, which he avoided by throwing himself to the floor.


Jack scrambled to his feet as I charged at him, preparing to catch him off guard. He somehow managed to catch my fist as I punched towards his jaw, but after a moment of struggle, I pushed him off of his feet. Jack rolled out of the way as I shoved a sphere of flames towards the floor, and started running towards the opposite end of the hall.

He was furiously typing on his phone the whole time, and as I darted after him, I suddenly understood why. A squad of Jackbots flew in from nowhere, separating me from Jack at the opposite end of the hall.

Now it was my turn to be on the defensive. I jumped out of the way as one of the robots sent a beam of green light towards me, and metal cords shot out of another. Quickly, I formed another sphere of fire in my palms and sent it towards the most threatening robot. Yet, instead of breaking like I anticipated, my fire merely bounced off of the robot and disappeared; the Jackbot was fire resistant.

With a groan, I tried to dodge again as the robots advanced on me. The Jackbot with the cords suddenly shot my way, and I barely had time to react as the metal restraints attempted to curl around my arms and legs. It managed to snake one around my ankle, and I let out a yelp as I crashed straight to the floor.

The robot began to drag me towards the others, and I jerked my leg in an attempt to get away. Instead, my body slid uselessly along the slick stone floor. With a bit of effort, I managed to grab the cord wrapped around me and summoned fire to my palms until my hands were glowing red-hot. The heat traveled up the metal, glowing red as it went, and I had to shield my eyes as the robot suddenly combusted.

Wasting no time, I unwrapped the metal from around my leg and threw myself at the other robots. While the rest shot green light at me, singing the bottom of my robes, I leapt into the air and threw fire directly at their weapons. The body of Jack's robots seemed to be fire resistant, but with a few good kicks and my still red-hot hands, I managed to take out their guns. Then, destroying the robots was just a matter of martial arts.

The hall went silent as the rest of the Jackbots fell to the floor in various states of damage and disarray. Jack stood at the opposite end, his mouth slack-jawed as I slowly made my way towards him. I hadn't even broken a sweat yet, and I could feel Chase's eyes on me from behind.

"Those were my newest models!" Jack wailed, unable to keep his eyes off of the wreckage. "I tested them on the other monks, and they couldn't even destroy them! How the hell did you do that?"

"Practice," I called back. No matter how much I despised Chase for what he made me do each day, I was strong. I could feel energy in my veins and power in my muscles from the endless hours of training he made me do. While I hadn't seen my friends in weeks, I knew that I easily surpassed their abilities now. Chase had turned me into the perfect warrior.

A shiver ran down my spine at this thought, and I quickly forced myself back into action. Jack didn't stand a chance. He feebly tried to block my attacks as I threw myself at him, but it only took a few minutes for him to collapse to the floor.

With a loud groan, Jack curled his body into a ball and cowered with his hands wrapped around his head. I looked back at Chase to see him watching me with a gloating smirk on his face, and Wuya besides him looking bewildered. My eyes met his golden ones, and he gave me a slow nod.

Instead of attacking Jack again, I stepped forward and tried to help him to his feet. He resisted my help until I all but dragged him forward, and once he was standing, Jack had to lean on me for support.

"Sorry," I whispered again. He grumbled loudly in response.

"Well done, Kimiko," Chase called from the other end of the hall. "You've progressed a great deal since you came here. Isn't that right, Wuya?"

"Agreed," she said smoothly besides him. Her eyes focused sharply on me, and I felt goose bumps begin to prickle along my skin, despite the heat of my body from my recent attack. I didn't like the way she was staring at me; it was as if she were looking at me like a piece of meat, rather than a warrior.

"Take the boy and get him cleaned up," Chase said. "I don't want him dripping blood all over my clean floors. I will summon you once Wuya and I finish."

I didn't want to leave the two of them alone again, but with Jack practically passing out in my arms, I didn't have a choice. With a hesitant nod, I began to drag him back to my room, aided by the help of the jungle cats. I had a feeling Jack was being dramatic as usual, but I couldn't disobey an order from Chase.

Once back in my room, Jack made a huge show of groaning and collapsing into my bed. I rolled my eyes and went directly to the bathroom to get a few wet towels.

"Here, wipe yourself off," I said, throwing them at him. They hit Jack in the face and I couldn't help but smirk as he cursed and threw them off of him.

"You burned me!" he moaned, the accusation clear in his tone.

"I didn't have a choice!" I snapped back. "And I barely even touched you! Did you think I would purposefully try to hurt you? All I was trying to do was knock you down!"

"And I'm bleeding," he continued, ignoring everything that I had just said. "Look, you made me bleed! I thought we were friends now!" Jack shoved his arm in my face, and I bit back an annoyed sigh. He had a scrape along his forearm, probably from when he jumped out of the way of my attacks. Only a drop or two of blood had escaped, and I gave him a look of pure exasperation.

"I'll get you a bandage," I said. "Try not to bleed to death in the meantime."

Jack whimpered, and I finally let my sigh out as I headed for the door.

The jungle cats that had escorted us back were nowhere to be found. I poked my head out of the door and then made my day down the hallway, looking for one of the servants. Although Jack was being overly dramatic, I knew he could use some ice for his burns, and a bit of antiseptic if I really had managed to harm him. Because Chase usually healed me, I didn't have anything like that in my room. I assumed one of the cats would get it for me.

By the time I found one of the servants, I was almost at the door to the training hall. I asked it for the supplies in as nice a voice as I could manage, and the cat growled and stalked away..

I had just turned to leave when I heard murmurs of conversation in the corridor near training hall. The sound of a door opening and closing echoed through the hallway, and Chase's voice floated down towards me. Without thinking, I pressed myself back against the wall and silently moved away as the voices grew stronger. Just as I saw shadows creeping along the corner of the hallway, I ducked into an empty room and went as still as possible. Although I didn't think that Chase would mind that I was out of my room, I was more interested in what he was saying.

"It's almost time, Wuya," Chase said. From a small knothole in the wood, I could just barely make out his face as he and Wuya rounded the corner. "The Dragon of Fire is getting stronger every day. I know you have doubts, but there is nothing more I can do for her."

"I trust you," she replied in that nasally tone of hers. "But no matter what you have done with her, she is still Xiaolin. Even with your essence inside of her, she will never be a Heylin warrior. That alone could be our downfall. Let me corrupt her with my magic-"

"No," Chase said sharply. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck rise as he stopped dead in his tracks. The energy in the air seemed to change, and I instantly knew that Chase was turning into his dark side. His body stiffened and his eyes began to change color, but from where I was crouching, I couldn't see Wuya's reaction.

"I have kept her core essence Xiaolin for a reason, Wuya. I won't have you polluting my work."

"Then perhaps you've lost sight of our goal. The Chase I once knew promised we would take over the world. I know you can't do it without her, and I'm growing impatient."

"One thing at a time, Wuya."

The voices continued down the hall, but I wasn't listening anymore. Instead I was staring blankly at the spots where Chase and Wuya had just been, my face pale.

My doubts had been right. Chase and Wuya really were planning to take over the world, using me as their power source. I could feel my body begin to tremble uncontrollably, and I had to bite down on a finger to stop myself from making a sound. Already, my throat was constricting with emotion and I could feel tears welling in my eyes.

I had been so foolish. Chase had tricked me, like he had three years ago. He was just training me to take over the world, not to stop any evil. I had fallen for his words hook, line, and sinker.

Hastily, I tried to take a few deep breaths to calm myself as my mind raged on. After all the time I had spent with Chase, I never expected him to use me like this. I had truly believed that there was something wrong with him and that he needed my help. Although I still had no explanation for his dark change, I knew now that he had been lying to me all along.

Pushing back the tears, I squeezed my eyes shut and didn't open them until my body was numb from exhaustion.

When I finally left the room, the oil lamps had been lit and it was dark behind the stained glass windows. I cautiously looked around the empty hallway before I started making my way back to my room. Although I was still on edge and overwhelmed with what I had heard, I knew I couldn't stay in that dark little room forever.

The halls were completely silent, and I had a feeling that Jack and Wuya had already left. I wasn't sure I could face Jack in my room anyways; all I wanted was to collapse in my bed and ignore the world until I figured out what to do. Worse yet, I knew I couldn't face Chase. My body was full to the brim with anger and hurt. If I saw him, I didn't know whether I would burst into tears or attack him. I hoped it was the latter, but either way, I wasn't ready to confront him without a level head.

It seemed, however, that I wasn't going to get a chance to compose myself. About halfway back to my room, I suddenly heard footsteps behind me and knew Chase was there.


I didn't stop. Instead, I picked up my pace and ignored him to the best of my abilities, even as I felt anger rising within me. I clutched my hands into fists as my body reacted, and forced back the flames that I had subconsciously summoned.

"Dragon of Fire-"

"Stay away from me," I bit back, unable to contain myself. I heard his footsteps quicken behind me, and within moments, I felt his hand graze my shoulder.


"Don't touch me!" I shouted at him, whirling around. I knocked his hand away from my body and prepared to storm off again, but he firmly grabbed my arm and made me face him.

"What are you doing? What's wrong?" Chase looked genuinely confused, and a hint of concern lit up in his eyes.

I couldn't help but let out a bitter laugh. "That's rich, coming from you. Like you didn't know this entire time." I tried to jerk my arm away again, but he held onto me tighter with every tug. I was becoming more desperate to get away; I knew I wouldn't be able to contain myself for much longer. The fire in me was making my temper rise dangerously.

"I don't understand," Chase tried again, his voice surprisingly level. He easily turned me so that I was facing him, and as I looked at that fake concern in his eyes, I felt something inside of me snap. "Kimiko, what-"

"You lied to me!" I shouted at him, finally breaking free. "After all this time, I thought I was genuinely helping you! I thought I was here to save the world, not destroy it! And you just played me the entire time."

"Kimiko, I don't know what you're talking about-"

"Oh, don't pretend like you don't know," I snapped. "I heard you and Wuya talking. You only brought me here so I could help you take over the world."

"Dragon of Fire, that's not true-"

"Then what is?" I interrupted him. "All you've done in the past few weeks is torment me. You say you want me to help you, but you never tell me what I have to do! I heard Wuya; you're only training me so you have enough power to take over. Well, guess what Chase? I'm not going to be your puppet anymore."

I tried to dodge around him, but Chase stepped in my way, blocking the corridor. "You don't know what you're talking about," he said angrily, thwarting my attempts to get away again. "Kimiko, if you'll just listen to me-"

"For what? So you can convince me otherwise and then use me when I'm not expecting it? I've been here for six weeks Chase. I'm done."

He grabbed me by the shoulders and lowered his head so that our gazes were level. I didn't want to look at him; there was too much pain in my eyes. Chase had hurt me, but I didn't want him to know that. I was stronger than this.

"Kimiko," he said firmly, though his expression was sincere. I finally met his eyes, but kept my own face expressionless. "I need you."

"No, you don't," I whispered back. I stepped backwards and away from Chase, and he released his grip on my shoulders. "And after all this time…After the way you touched and healed me…After all the time we spent together, I thought-"

"Thought what?"

This time, I couldn't keep the pain out of my face as I looked at him. Chase was looking at me with an indescribable expression, one I had seen only in the most intimate of our encounters. With a deep breath, I raised my eyes to his.

"That I wasn't just your prisoner, and you weren't my captor. That we weren't student and teacher, or even apprentice and master. I thought that we were…something more."

The hallway went silent, and I instantly knew how stupid my words had sounded. Angrily, I wiped my eyes and began to step backwards down the hallway. Chase was just staring at me, and I had no idea what he was thinking.

"So you can try to use me to take over the world," I said bitterly, never taking my eyes off of him, "but know this. I will never submit to you. Every step of the way, I will fight you tooth and nail. I will make your life a living hell, and if you even think of hurting my friends for leverage, I will find a way to destroy you. So piss off, Chase. Leave me the hell alone."

I was on the verge of tears. Furiously, I turned on my heels and began to stalk away from him, my footsteps loud in the empty hallway. Yet, I had only managed a few steps when Chase's hand curled around my wrist, forcing me back to him.

Everything happened so fast then.

With one deft move, Chase turned me around and drew me close to him, one hand cupping my face. I only had a moment to be startled before he was closing the distance between us, and I felt my eyes close without my consent.

And then, his lips were on mine.

I went numb. My mind went completely blank as I felt him moving against me, and my body slackened into his arms. I couldn't think or move as he kissed me, with the same ferocity and raw power that he used when we were fighting.

Then, with a moment of startling clarity, I realized I was kissing him back. Somehow, my hands had wound their way around his neck, and he was using his own to press our bodies closer together. With another swoop, he moved me so that my back was against the corridor wall, caging my body in with his.

I was lost. All I knew was the feeling of his lips against mine, and his arms around my body. For that perfect moment, everything was right in the world. My pain and anger had somehow melted away, and all I felt was an empty sort of contentedness.

And then in the next moment, everything came crashing back down. My mind was suddenly overcome with the kiss, and I felt my body seize up against him. I was kissing my worst enemy. The man who had lied, tricked, and hurt me was tormenting me again. Overwhelming shame and confusion flooded my veins, and I felt all the pain of the past few hours slam back into my body.

With a gasp, I broke free from Chase and shoved him away from me. He stepped backwards, but I could still hear him breathing heavily as our lips separated. My heart was pounding frantically in my chest, and I could feel my hands begin to tremble as I reached up to touch my face.

Anger and bewilderment hit me simultaneously, more potent than I had ever felt it before. After all that I had told him, Chase had taken advantage of me. And I had let it happen.

I had kissed him back.

Before I knew what I had done, I raised my hand to slap him. There were tears in my eyes as I prepared to hit him. Chase didn't move, or even try to defend himself.

Yet, just a moment before I would have slapped him, his eyes met mine. My hand hesitated as we gazed at each other, and instead of seeing malice in his eyes, I saw that same indescribable emotion.

I couldn't stay here anymore. With a cry in my throat, I turned and ran, breaking his potent gaze.

He didn't follow me, and I didn't stop running until I reached my room. Quickly, I threw myself inside and slammed the door.

The silence was suffocating, and as I tried to calm myself down, I felt something inside break instead. Within a moment, the tears I had tried to hard to contain were slipping down my cheeks, and I choked on silent sobs.

I let my body slide to the floor as the tears broke free in a violent storm. I hadn't cried since I came here, but I cried now. I cried for my friends and Master Fung, for my own stupidity, and for the feelings I hadn't dared to feel until now. I cried for all the hours Chase had pushed me to my limits, and for the moments he healed and comforted me in the darkest of times.

I had never felt so alone and helpless in my life. Chase had taken advantage of me, body and soul. I let myself collapse, and let the tears flow until I was void of emotion.

I couldn't stay here any longer. By the time I had composed myself back into a semi-stable mindset, it was close to midnight and the entire lair was silent. I pulled myself up from the floor and stumbled into the bathroom to splash water on my face.

My skin was pale and there were dark circles under my eyes, but I didn't care. I was leaving here tonight, no matter what. Chase had broken his promise not to use me to take over the world, so I would break mine to stay here with him. Even if I had to spend the rest of my life running from Chase, there was no way I would let him use me again.

I washed off my face and changed my clothes into a new set of robes, then went back into my bedroom for the last time. The bag that I had brought from the Temple was lying in disarray, and I decided not to bring it with me, just in case it slowed me down. With one last look around my prison cell, I silently slipped out the door and into the corridors.

I had almost reached the main hallway when a crack of light peered out from underneath a door I swore I had never seen before. In the past few weeks, I had learned the complex series of hallways like the back of my own hand, and this door had never been visible before. Curiosity got the best of me, and I carefully tugged the handle. The door swung open to reveal a smaller passage lit with lamps, and I felt myself being drawn in.

The passage only went on for a few yards until another door stood in my way. No light was on behind this one, and I hesitated for a moment before opening the door.

As light spilled into the dark room, my breath caught in my throat. This was Chase's bedroom. He was lying on a futon on the floor, wearing only a pair of black pants. Sleeping jungle cats surrounded him, flicking their tails idly.

I had never seen Chase look so peaceful. Although I knew I had to leave, I couldn't help but let my eyes wander over his sleeping form. After seeing him this way, it was hard to imagine how horrible and manipulative he was while awake. Chase's face was relaxed and his armor was nowhere to be found. It was only when I noticed how the light fell across each one of his muscles that I realized how dangerous he still was.

With one last glance, I slowly closed the door and made my way back to the main hallway. I couldn't afford the thoughts that came with seeing Chase like that.

It only took a few more minutes to reach the main hall, and I entered again in darkness. There was no sign of the jungle cats, and I assumed that they were either prowling around outside or sleeping somewhere out of sight. I crossed the threshold without hesitation, and began to run as I came closer and closer to the door. I knew this was going to be the hardest part in escaping; there was no way Chase left the entrance to his lair unlocked and unguarded at night. Either way, I had to try.

I had just touched the handle when light suddenly burst from all around me, temporarily blinding me. I let out a yelp and hastily shielded my eyes, while my body instantly went into a protective stance. By the time I was able to see again, I knew I was in trouble.

Chase stood calmly a few feet away from me, leaning against one of the pillars in the grand hall. His arms were crossed against his bare chest, and he still wore only black pants. I felt my heart sink inside of me, but put on the strongest façade that I could manage.

"Going somewhere?" he called lightly. I could see our previous encounter in his eyes, and knew he was still thinking about our kiss. Yet, overshadowing it all was that hint of darkness, as his pupils shifted in between circles and slits. I could see fangs poking out from underneath his lips, and knew he was on the verge of turning.

"I'm leaving," I replied firmly. "You broke our deal. I'm under no obligation to stay here any longer."

"You are wrong, Kimiko. I did no such thing." He began to move towards me, and with every step he took, I could see darkness begin to overcome his eyes. I tightened up my stance in preparation; there was no way I would be leaving now without a fight.

"Don't lie to me," I snapped. "Now open the door and let me go." I raised my hands in protection, ready to summon fire, even as I backed up against the door. He towered over me and placed his hands on either side of my head, effectively trapping me with his body.

"You belong to me," he hissed. I felt a sudden wave of fear run through my body, and I cringed back against the door. His face was level with mine, and I could only see darkness in his eyes. His other personality was gone; this wasn't Chase any more.

I had just opened my mouth to reply when a tremor ran through Chase, and he made an odd choking noise. His eyes narrowed as he stepped back away from me, and I watched in horror as his skin began to bubble and transform. Within seconds, scales began to pattern his exposed flesh, turning a deep green as they spread.

He snapped his head up to look at me, and for the first time, I saw fear in his eyes. The fangs in his mouth were growing longer with every passing second, and as I watched, his body began to tremble.

There was an audible crack from within his chest, and Chase let out a howl of pain. His body began to convulse, and more cracks sounded as his shoulders dislocated and began to reform in a different shape. I let out a horrified gasp and tried to scramble away, but my body was frozen in place. Instead, I tripped over myself and fell to the floor, unable to take my eyes off of him.

Chase let out another howl as his body began to break, and the scales continued to overtake his body. His nails began to grow longer into claws, and the thin material of his pants began to tear as his legs changed shape. He was lying on the floor by now, still convulsing as his the bones of his body broke and transformed.

I couldn't watch any longer. Somehow, I forced myself to my feet and ran to his side. "Chase?" I said urgently, looking over his body helplessly. "Chase, what's going on? What's happening?"

His response was a cry of pain that didn't sound entirely human. I felt a shiver run down my spine as I saw the agony in his eyes, surrounded by the darkness I had seen so often. I didn't know what was happening to him, but I was desperate to stop it.

"Chase, please! Tell me what to do, I can help!" I reached out to touch him, and as I did so, the mark on my wrist began to burn with such pain that I let out a cry of my own. I gripped my wrist with my other hand as tears reformed in my eyes, blurring my vision.

Just as I was about to move away, Chase reached out and grabbed my arm. He met my eyes with a frantic need in his gaze, even as pain convulsed throughout his body. A gurgle escaped his throat, and his grip tightened. "Kimiko," he gasped. "Run."

He pushed me away from him with the last of his strength, and another pain-filled howl filled the air. I scrambled backwards until my back was against the door, unable to do anything but watch.

Suddenly, a green light began to emit from around his limbs, and I shielded my eyes as the light became too bright to bear. Then, just as sudden, the light was gone.

The hall had gone completely silent, and I slowly lowered my arm from in front of my eyes. Then, my breath caught in my throat and my body went numb in fear.

Chase was gone. In his place, a dragon stood, still wearing remnants of black cloth along its lower legs. Green scales patterned its back, while a patch of gold covered its chest. Large black spines had formed along its back, glinting dangerously in the light.

The dragon slowly looked down at its limbs, and as I watched, its mouth curved into a sadistic smile. I could see rows of razor sharp teeth behind its smirk. My gaze wandered to its eyes, and I had to bite back a cry as I realized they were slits, surrounded by the familiar topaz of Chase's own.

My heart was pounding frantically in my chest. I didn't know what was going on, or what had happened to Chase. This creature wasn't him. The energy in the air had changed completely, just as it did when Chase was struggling with his darker side.

I must have let out a whimper, for the next moment, the dragon had whirled around to face me. I grew pale as its steely gaze wandered over my body, finally coming to rest on my face.

Its smile widened, and the dragon began to laugh. I had never heard anything so evil in my life. It was the combination of a man and a creature, echoing throughout the chamber with distinct malice and cruelty. My blood ran cold inside of me, and as the dragon began to approach, I found that my limbs were still frozen to the floor.

I could only watch as the creature came towards me, promising blood in its eyes.

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