Chapter Eighteen Continued
Drake froze. Despite the stillness of his body, inside his heart was now beating wildly and his mind was starting to ignite with questions. How long had he got before he collapsed from the Reciprocal Damage of Falkor’s injuries? How long had he got to free Falkor Why was Funestus here? What did he want with him? Despite the many questions, he remained still, unsure of what to do. He could smell the stench of treachery hanging heavy in the air and he didn’t like it. Not one little bit.
‘Unfortunate, casualty. Sorry about that,’ said Funestus, following Drake’s gaze to the injured dragon. ‘But as you’ll both be dead in a minute, his suffering won’t last too long. Hopefully.’
Scarface sniggered as he wiped neon blood off his hands onto a red handkerchief.
Drake curled his free hand into a fist. ’How did you find us?’
‘The break-in at the warehouse? That was me with a few hired Demon thugs; they’ll do anything for a good scrap. We went there to spook your dragon knowing that he would want to find you. All we had to do was to plant a tracker on his tail,’ said Funestus, with a sweep of his hand, ‘and he led us straight here.’
‘But why?’ asked Willow, stepping forward, her face tilted as she searched Funestus’ face for answers, ‘I don’t understand. You asked me and Giz to get you the Book, I would’ve brought it to you-’
‘Ah, why indeed. The most important question I feel.’ Funestus strode over to Drake, ’The Book, if you please,’ he said, stretching out his thin pale hand.
Drake could smell the mint and aniseed on Funestus’ breath. He was sweating hard, his wild eyes red and puffy. Had Funestus been on Liquid Madness? Drake scrutinised Funestus in silence, taking in every line on his face, every feature. The eyes were the key; he was running scared. It all fell into place in Drake’s mind. ‘No.’
Funestus cackled. ’I don’t think you quite understand the predicament you’re in-’
‘Oh, I do,’ said Drake, his stance proud and defiant.
Funestus looked at him in surprise. ‘Well, if that truly is the case, enlighten us,’ he said, regaining his calm as he gestured to himself and then the dwarves.
‘Scared?’ Funestus threw his head back and cackled, ‘No Drake, I’m not scared.’
‘Do they know,’ said Drake, pointing to the dwarves, ‘what you’re up to?’
‘What?’ asked Scarface stepping closer. ‘What’s he up to?’
Funestus thrust his face into Drake’s. ‘Just give me the Book.’
Yes. Funestus was running scared; he could smell the fear on him. ‘So when are you going to tell them?’ asked Drake, trying desperately to shut out Falkor’s whimpering cry. He could feel his friend’s weak life force and it didn’t fill him with hope.
‘Tell us what?’
‘Well,’ said Drake turning to Scarface, ‘I can’t see Fenrik letting this loser get the book all by himself, can you? And Vigor’s not here so, chances are, Fenrik doesn’t know our mutual friend here is collecting the Book-’
‘Funestus, what’s he talking about?’ asked Scarface, his eyes unreadable behind his thick black shades.
‘Shut up!’ screeched Funestus. ‘You don’t even know that I am working with Fenrik.’
Drake turned to Scarface and addressed him directly; there was nothing as easy as dividing and conquering. ‘I’d watch your back Scarface, he’s doing the dirty on Fenrik! Fenrik doesn’t even know he’s here.’
Ozzy and Elvis were now standing by Scarface. ‘Funestus?’
‘Of course he knows I’m here,’ snapped Funestus, over his shoulder, ‘Now give me the Book.’
‘I knew it!’ said Drake, shaking his head.
‘You’re working with Fenrik?’ asked Willow, her face pleading with Funestus for answers.
‘Of course I am, stupid little girl!’
‘No. He doesn’t know you’re here, does he? What do you want the Book for? What have you done?’ asked Drake quickly, taking advantage of the confusion. Wouldn’t be long before Funestus slipped up.
‘Just do us all a favour. Give me the Book and then die,’ snarled Funestus.
‘Certainly,’ said Drake. He seized his chance; stepping forward, he smashed The Emerald Key hard off the side of Funestus’ face.
Funestus hadn’t got time to react. The Book hit him hard, sending blood and two teeth flying into the air. He tried to keep on his feet but the blow had taken him off guard. His eyes wouldn’t focus, his legs crumpled beneath him and he crashed to the floor.
Scarface whipped out his stun gun as Elvis charged at Drake and Willow, but, as his left arm was bandaged tightly to his chest and his face was puffy and covered in bruises, Willow stopped him without even breaking into a sweat, with a right hook to the side of his face. He toppled backwards, unable to keep his balance. Ozzy slowly limped towards them, wincing every time his right leg touched the ground after his run-in with Fulcanelli.
A blue bolt of electric fizzed within centimetres of Drake’s chest. In one fluid motion, his Zephyr was off his back and in his hands. As soon as he struck the first chord the music began to act like a drug, a lullaby of exquisite beauty, gently rising and falling as it invited its victims in, luring them into a world of dreamless sleep. And when it begun there was no stopping it, not until the great tentacles of delicious music had mercilessly hunted each and every one of them down and had them in its shadowy iron-like grasp.
‘What’s-‘ said Willow, stumbling as she aimed her fist at Elvis for the second time. She missed completely and crashed to the floor, face-first onto the grass, her fist still clenched and her bottom stuck high in the air.
Drake had to work quickly. He didn’t know how long any of them would be out for; for some, it was a matter of minutes, like Pyro, but for others, it was hours and, very rarely, it could be days.
He pulled the vial of sleeping draft from his pocket and placed a drop in each of the dwarves’ mouths. He grabbed the key in Scarface’s hand, then raced over to Funestus who was twitching and writhing on the ground. Drake bent down to give Funestus a drop of the sleeping draft.
‘Fiery-death,’ mumbled Funestus, ‘Fiery-death, Fiery-death.’
Drake stopped. Where had he heard that before? He rubbed his chin and studied Funestus’ face. He knew he’d heard that name before. He put the stopper back on the vial and stashed it back in his pocket.
No. Funestus would have to wait. For now. He’d got too many questions to answer and he’d deal with him once he’d sorted out Falkor.
Falkor’s cries of agony were stabbing Drake in the gut, like a blade. He ran his hand over the dragon’s head; Falkor was clammy, his pulse weak, his strength almost spent. He needed to get Falkor back on his feet before it was too late for both of them.
‘I’ll get you out,’ he whispered, ’just keep still.’ The dwarves had deliberately slotted the iron chains under Falkor’s teardrop scales to inflict maximum pain and damage as they forced the main body of the scales away from his flesh. Drake could clearly see that in some parts, the chain had dug deep into his flesh exposing bone and causing the dragon to lose quite a bit of his precious neon blood.
Drake growled. He found the padlock, placed the key in it with trembling hands and turned it. The lock sprung open and Drake carefully began to peel the chains away from Falkor’s body, clenching his teeth, fighting the pain as he felt every last chain coming away as if it were from his own body. Falkor attempted to raise himself off the floor as Drake pulled the very last chain away, but he was too weak, his legs infirm from being pinned to the ground and he fell face-first into the glutinous mud.
‘Come on,’ soothed Drake, trying to hide the pain in his own voice, ‘you can do it.’ Drake stroked Falkor’s neck. ‘Come on boy,’ he said, placing his hand under Falkor’s head to try and coax him to raise it up a little.
Falkor dug the elbows of his wings into the muddy ground and with an almighty push he lifted himself up. He stretched out his wings to balance himself and then roared defiantly, but Drake could feel the reality of Falkor’s weakness; his muscles were beginning to ache and his legs felt like jelly. He inspected the dragon’s underbelly; a deep gash still oozed blood and he could see a long tear had punctured the membrane of his right wing.
If Falkor’s wing was broken and they couldn’t fly, what hope was there?