“What was that?” Saber exclaimed.
Riley still stared at where it had disappeared, realizing she was again holding her imaginary breath. She let it out, feeling her lungs burn as she did.
“Wasn’t that the dream wraith?” Riley finally asked, looking back at Saber. Saber stood at the edge of the cell, her hand resting on the stone where the bars had been.
“Not like any dream wraith I’ve ever seen. They aren’t that intelligent. Think of them as like those creatures from Harry Potter. They don’t consciously do things. They get into your mind and feed off your worst fears. That thing talked to us, tricked us. It wanted us to fight the king. It sent us up there to get mind-trapped.”
“Okay… So, what are you saying?”
“I don’t know. If this were a normal kid, I’d opt out and talk to control, but this isn’t normal or some random kid. This is Raz, and I’m not leaving until we get him out of here.”
“Should I have killed it?”
She blew out a breath and shook her head. “No… Yes… I don’t know. Killing it may have freed Raz, or it may have trapped us all in here. You did right.”
Riley walked over to her. They both looked at the door at the end of the room. They still had to fight the dragon. It was down there, waiting. Once they defeated it, the king would release Raz.
If the king kept his word. Maybe Riley should have just killed the wraith. Now she wasn’t sure what she should do. Their path didn’t look as obvious as it had ten minutes ago.
“You’re thinking about it, too, aren’t you?” Saber asked.
“About the dragon and the king?” Riley asked.
“No. The wraith. It knew my name. I was fairly certain it would know Raz’s because how else would it have gotten in so deep, but it new my name? If we don’t stop it, it could come after me next.”
Saber wrapped her arms around herself, and Riley noticed the shiver running through her. She tried to hide it, quickly shaking it off and walking over to retrieve the handle of her sword, but Riley had seen it. Saber was truly terrified, and she didn’t blame her. She was scared herself, and she barely knew what was going on.
“Why were you thinking about the king and the dragon?” Saber asked as she walked toward the door.
“I don’t know. None of this is playing out right. Like you said, this isn’t a video game. This world doesn’t need to play by the rules. If we kill the dragon, who is to say the king will release Raz? Who is to say that another dragon, a larger, more vicious one, doesn’t take its place?”
Saber smirked. “Now you’re starting to think like a Dream Chaser.”
“What does that mean?”
“Never trust the world around you. It could change at any minute.”
“Okay, so let me ask you this. The wraith said he thought you would fight through those guards upstairs to kill the king. I’ve only known you for a day and even I thought you would have torn through them to get to Raz. So why didn’t you?”
Saber threw her head back and let out an uproarious laugh. Then she looked back at Riley, her eyes sparkling.
“You know, I normally would have.”
“Okay, so why didn’t you?”
“I don’t know. At first, I just found myself following along, like some instinct told me to run with it. Though when the guards grabbed us, I was ready to turn them all into chopped liver. Then I thought of you. Yes, I could get mind-trapped in here, but you can actually get hurt. I didn’t want that to happen.”
“So you did it to protect me?” Riley asked, eyes narrowed.
She shook her head. “Well, don’t.”
“What?” Saber’s brows furrowed.
“Don’t stop yourself in order to protect me. I can take care of myself. I always have and always will. I don’t need someone making calls like that for me.”
Saber stopped and looked at Riley, eyes wide from the angry outburst. Riley felt her chest heaving and hadn’t realized she ran her fingers along her axe.
Saber slowly nodded. “Okay. I won’t try to protect you.”
Riley’s eyes stung. She wasn’t sure why, but she felt a wetness at the corners. To keep Saber from seeing the tears, she quickly averted her gaze, putting away her axe.
Riley reached out and tugged open the door, frustrated at showing so much dang emotion. This wasn’t like her, and right now, she looked forward to the shadows of the corridor.
“We should go,” she whispered as she stepped into the darkness.