Chapter 3

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FireQueen was the first to see the barrier. Dragons had excellent night vision. The spherical barrier covered a large area. The fabric of the barrier consisted of a filmy substance that had gaping holes in it. As they drew closer, both Albera and Qelharre could make it out as well. Lhynette could not see it until they were almost on top of it. Qelharre deduced that the barrier had to have been constructed from far away. It was much larger than necessary, indicating the builder did not know the wizard's exact location. And the holes were evidence that the magic was fading. But they were all impressed. It took incredible power to create a barrier of this magnitude and to be able to sustain it for such a long period of time.

The dragon flew around the barrier several times, looking for a hole which was large enough to accommodate her. She did not find any. "I will have to burn through the barrier. Albera, which side is closest to the wizard?" The dryad pointed to a hole that would be a good starting point. FireQueen gained altitude to achieve the best angle. She plummeted down. They were nearly to the barrier when she roared. Flame shot out, seemingly encompassing everything. The witches hid their faces against the dragon's body and held tight. Albera followed suit. Even from where they were the heat was intense. The dragon was successful in breaking through the weakened barrier. The passengers were almost on the ground before anyone braved a look.

It took Albera a few moments to get her bearings straight. She led them to the thicket. They found Uriel there, his condition unchanged. The unicorn was still standing guard.

"It definitely is grey." Despite the accounts by Albera, Arhyvhynne and even FireQueen, Qelharre still had a fleeting hope that it was a mistake. She dismissed it. She could not, however, dismiss the uneasy feeling that had been steadily growing since their arrival. She was not the only one to feel it either. "The magic of the barrier is fading. Whoever created the barrier expects to be here before it deteriorates entirely. That will be soon. I do not particularly wish to be here any longer than is necessary. Lhynette, examine the wizard. If he can be moved, make the appropriate preparations. Albera, have a look around. Make sure we are alone. I will get our packs."


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