So this chapter is for Stravaganza for reviewing so fervently. Thanks, I really appreciate it and this is for you ;)


Arianna could sense movement. She had fallen into a deep sleep again, but now she felt the gentle swing of some kind of cart. She looked up. There was wood above her and straw below her. Her skin prickled a little where she touched it.

Where were these people taking her? That was the question. She suspected the di Chimici, but she had not seen a recognisable face in all the time she'd been there. However long that was. She had drifted in and out of consciousness so much that she had no idea any more of time.

Where were they taking her? Where had she been for that matter?

She still felt groggy and her sight wasn't the best. Her eyes seemed to drift in and out of focus. They had drugged her before, numerous times, but here she had a feeling that somebody had made a mistake.

They had probably intended for Arianna to be out of it for this journey. After all, now was when she was most likely to escape. She was very surprised to find that they hadn't tied her hands together.

With difficulty she pushed herself to her knees. She swayed a bit with the movement of the carriage, but she managed to keep steady. She made her way through the straw to the side of the carriage where she could spy a reasonably large hole. Perhaps she could look out to see where she was.

A cord tugged at her ankle very slightly and she realised she was tied up. Her eyes followed the rope to a wooden beam on the other side of the cart.

The cart lurched suddenly and Arianna was thrown against the wooden side by the driver making a sharp turn. Her cheek smarted as she righted herself, but the pain felt numbed. She guessed it must be the remnants of the anaesthetic.

She picked herself up and put her eye up against the hole, her sight had cleared now. Outside she saw the countryside passing behind her and the hills ahead. She recognised those hills. Where had she seen them before.

Racking her brain she found a painting forming in her head. It hung in the gallery back home in Bellezza. It had these hills in it. Perhaps a little more dramatic, but it had been the these hills. She remembered the plaque underneath. These were the hills of Romula. Why were they bringing her here?


Karina breathed a sigh of relief. Rodrigo had been successfully returned to Talia and now she could relax. Then she realised that Enrico would be waiting for her in the cave. She would have to go back tonight. He would be expecting her.

She made the most of the day completing all the work she had to.

The other stravagantes from her world had given her their number, but she couldn't bring herself to call them. She didn't really feel like talking to them. She'd had a lucky escape with Rodrigo's story and she didn't want any more friends round. Her parents suspicious metre would probably go off the scale if she invited them all round.

Her homework was all done by nine o'clock and she decided to get an early night. She had managed to mainly dodge her parents questions by artfully changing the subject. Who've thought a runaway child would link so well with daily politics?

She smiled to herself and gripped the statuette tightly under her covers until her knuckles were white. Karina did not want another repeat of last night.

Soon though she was asleep and she woke up on the rocky floor of a cave.

Looking around she could tell something was wrong. The bowls were scattered over the floor and the bedding looked as though it had been shredded by a sword. There was no Enrico insight. She went outside to see if he was there.

The rocks looked barren and there wasn't hide or hair of a human anywhere. Still she called out all the same. She didn't want to miss him.

"Enrico," she said, then again louder. "Enrico."

The only answer she got was the swishing leaves of the trees.

Unhinged a little she went back inside. Where was Enrico? It wasn't like him to just disappear without warning. He had to be here somewhere. She went further back into the cave when a letter caught her eye.

Well it sort of looked like a letter. It was a wobbly kind of K. She went over to it. Underneath in the same odd script were the letters SOS.

Karina gasped. This had to be a message for her, probably from Enrico. Something had happened to him and in a hurry he had scrawled his message on the wall. She could tell from the roughness of his letters.

Where had he gone though? How could she fetch help if she didn't know where he was? Perhaps she should go back to the palace and tell Rodrigo.

Out of the corner of her eye Karina saw a movement in the back of the cave. She whipped round, but there were only shadows. She moved closer intent on finding out what it was. The cave got darker as she moved.

Slowly her steps brought her further and further into the cave. The light was disappearing as she moved, but she saw another movement. It was swift and darting, like a rodent or something, but much bigger.

Her breath was heavy and her heart was pounding. There was some kind of creature in this cave. Whatever it was she wasn't sure whether she wanted to see it. She had stopped moving forwards and squinted again into the darkness.

A shape moved towards her, she closed her eyes ready for the impact, but it never the came. The creature had stopped. It was only inches from her face now. She could feel its meaty breath on her face. She wanted to run, but she had heard that in such circumstances it was better not to move. Plus the thing could probably outrun her anyway.

The face withdrew and Karina allowed herself to open her eyes just a crack.

She was not prepared for what met her on the other side.

It was a beautiful creature, sparkling in hues of green and gold. The face was sharp and defined, but the eyes were kind and knowing. It had the appearance of a lizard, but much, much taller. The teeth were razor sharp and the claws looked deadly.

This was the kind of animal you only ever read about in stories and yet it was here. It was a dragon.

So now the dragons have arrived... Comments?