Spiders: A Tale of Draco the Dragon
By Neil Beynon
There are more worlds out there than there are grains of sand in this one. From dead rocks spinning in the dark with the fumbling fingers of flame from their distant stars trying to keep them in orbit, to molten orbs that circle suns like moths around a flame. There is one such world that is much closer to us than any of these and yet you can’t travel there, even if you had the most powerful rocket you could imagine. However, if you lay on the sand – perhaps as the stars fade in the dawn, the plough dipping back down to the horizon – and listen to the waves you may just get a glimpse. Hush now. Listen – count the waves… one…two…three…four… the sun is coming …five…six… the gulls are circling overhead …seven…eight… one bird dives for the water like a dragon swooping on its prey…
…the dragon is a ruby arrow striking the water, sending salt spray into the air and disappearing from view. A woman is watching from the cliff top above the beach. She has hair the colour of night and eyes the colour of the sea. She wears black robes that look like crow feathers in the dawn light. The glare from the sunrise is almost blinding and so she lifts her right hand to shield her eyes as she looks for the dragon to reappear. The smell of salt is strong on the gentle breeze.
An eternity passes for the woman. How long can a dragon hold its breath? You would have to look closely to see the sigh of relief when he breaches the surface. The dragon lets out a fiery roar that appears to set the sky aflame. The heat cooks the fish in the dragon’s jaws and he swallows down the meal in one. The woman laughs as the dragon flops back into the water with a splash. The creature does not behave as you might expect a dragon to – it floats on its back, watching the waves and seemingly content to let the world roll on around it. He waves at the woman with his right foreclaw. It is a gesture that is so human the woman’s smile fades. The dragon’s wave becomes an invitation to join him.
The woman hesitates. She looks down at something in the grass and mutters a word under her breath. An old fashioned broom leaps from the grass to her hand and she climbs onto it with familiar ease. The broom lifts the woman into the air, carrying her to where the dragon is floating like a scaly island. He is a young dragon but he is still large enough for her to dismount the broom and stand on his belly without wet feet.
“Hello mother,” says the dragon. It rolls its head to let the sun warm the other side.
“Shwmi, Draco,” says the Dragon’s mother.
Draco looks at his mother. She rarely uses his people’s tongue these days and it is usually a sign that she is worried or frightened about something. However, there is little to trouble them on such a fine morning.
“What is this place?” asks Draco, he pushes his wings down under the water and they glide a little further out from the beach.
Caerwen looks round at the landscape. “I don’t know, cariad. You know that all this is as new to me as it is to you. We are far from Annwn.”
Draco let his wings push them further out again. “Do you think we will see people soon? We haven’t seen many since we left the fog.”
Caerwen shrugs. “No one ever comes back from this far in. Perhaps there is no one else?”
Draco shakes his head. “No…I don’t believe that…what would be the point?”
Caerwen sits down on his belly. “Why does there have to be a purpose?”
The dragon does not answer. His mother is very wise and very fond of asking questions – she wants him to make a connection, surely?
They stay like that – the dragon and the witch, floating on the glassy green as the sun winds its way across the sky. They are both almost asleep when the shouts come from behind them.
Draco wakes with such a start he very nearly tips Caerwen into the sea. Only the broom, hovering faithfully, saves her from a soaking. They look round at the rag tag boat that is tacking in towards the shore. There are too many people on the deck, some of them are still shouting and waving as the vessel glides slowly closer. The boat is struggling to maintain its passage, the wind has picked up and there are many passengers. Caerwen clambers up onto the broom with some assistance from Draco and flies into the air to greet them but before she can reach them the wind gusts carrying the mast too far over. The topsail catches a wave, pulling the boat over on its side and spilling the screaming people into the water.
Draco rolls over and dives. He flicks hard with his legs, wings and tail. Deeper and deeper he dives until he has enough distance to get into the air. He turns for the surface unleashing his full strength from all of his limbs. The dragon breaches with the speed of a slingshot, his wings immediately clawing for height as he throws himself far into the air. Draco extends his wings as he catches the updraft and he circles the drowning passengers. He swoops down for the people who can’t swim first, his claws grabbing as many of them as he can. He hopes his mother has managed to save a few as he beats towards the beach. There are so very many people in trouble. Draco moves fast, making trip after trip, ignoring the screams of the people who think he is going to eat them and drops each wave of survivors, shaking, on the beach. He can see Caerwen doing the same thing.
By the time that Draco drops the captain on the sand, he is aching in the bones of his wings and his last pass over the wreck is so slow he almost falls out of the sky. Caerwen leans on her broom as if it is the only thing keeping her upright. Draco ignores the stares as he lands on the beach; his wings slowly folding back from exhaustion.
The people have built a pyre from the driftwood on the sand. They eye the dragon with a mixture of fear and gratitude. It’s neither the biggest nor the wisest that approaches the creature but a small boy, no more than three years old and with wide eyes that are too afraid to blink. His black hair is matted from the saltwater.
“Please master dragon…” he begins, gesturing to the fire.
“I can light it for you,” says Draco, gesturing. “Just stand back.”
The people move away from between the dragon and the pyre. Draco draws in a large breath. He exhales and the air screams like a banshee as flame rolls from his mouth onto the wood, igniting into glorious heat.
Draco walks over to the fire, ignoring the looks and put his forearms forward and his wings open to let the warmth in.
“Where are you going with so many?” asks Caerwen to the Captain.
“Anywhere but here,” replies the silver-haired woman. “The land is being over-run. We need to get to the other side of the fog. Hopefully they cannot follow us there.”
People are still reluctant to move closer to the dragon. They stare on, shivering and cold as the fire grows stronger. Draco moves back from it a little before waving them in.
“Gather closer,” he says, lying down on the sand. “I am safe. Bring the children and put them closer to the fire or near to me – I give off heat as well.”
“Who is taking over your land?” asks Caerwen, she is gripping her broom tight enough for her knuckles to go white.
“Spiders!” shouts the black haired boy. He has sat down close enough to Draco to touch him. Draco smiles at him.
The Captain puts her hand on the boy’s head. “He is right. It was the spiders. They came down from the weeping mountains, right into Hades and drove us away. I don’t know what happened to the others. They went into the sea far from here but the king sent us on while he turned back to help them.”
She falls quiet leaving Caerwen staring past her towards the ocean. The captain doesn’t look at her boat sinking below the waves.
“Where is this Hades?” Caerwen asks.
The Captain frowns. “You are in it, good lady. These are the southern reaches that can only be crossed on foot and lead to the foglands beyond which lies the land of Annwn. We think Annwn is there, we have not set foot beyond the mist in many centuries. It may not be there. But if it exists…the spiders may not reach that far.”
Caerwen leans on her staff. “It exists.”
Caerwen seems to have aged during the course of the conversation. She leans further forward as if carrying a great weight and her visible sadness has brought out the lines in her face. Draco notices them a bit more every summer but now it is as if several summers have past in minutes.
Her voice cracks as she speaks: “Do these spiders have names?”
The woman nods. “They are the children of Arachne. To themselves they are the Sarm but in legend they are called Despair because once you are caught in their web you no longer try to escape. No one has ever lived to say why.”
Caerwen turns from the crowd. She walks to where the waves are lapping at the sand and stares out at the ocean. Draco turns his head to the crowd.
“Why have you not fought back the spiders?” he asks.
The crowd look angry.
“We did fight,” says the little black-haired boy. “My da fought and I don’t know when I will see him again. They took him. Why did they do that?”
Draco looks at the boy. The child is crying. The dragon puts his arm around him. It is such a gentle gesture the crowd are silenced.
“What can we do?” asks Draco.
“You could get rid of the spiders,” replies the boy, wiping his eyes.
“We cannot,” says Caerwen, turning back to them. “There is nothing that can be done against the Sarm. They are unstoppable. We must find a way over them or return to Annwn.”
Draco frowns. “We are not going back. You promised – always forwards…”
Caerwen shakes her head. “I said nothing about fighting the Sarm. You have to know your limitations child. We cannot win.”
Draco shook his head. “How can you say that? We have to help these people. We’re meant to help them. Why else would we be here?”
Caerwen threw down her broom. “Draco there isn’t a reason for it. The spiders have no meaning, they just take and destroy because they can.”
Caerwen let out a cry of frustration. “You listen. You’d think you of all people would understand how capricious fate is.”
Draco looks like he has been smacked in the face.
The crowd looks away. They do not know what is happening but an angry witch was something they were taught to avoid. Caerwen looks at their startled faces. She flushes red. She turns and runs for the cliffs. Draco watches her go without calling after her.
“She has seen the spiders before,” says the Captain., gesturing after Caerwen
“She never mentioned it,” replies Draco. “We encounter creatures that would wake you screaming in the night…this world is capable of beauty that would make your heart burst but the night is long and dark. Why would this send her running?”
The captain poked the fire with a stick. “Every person has their limits…no one knows where theirs is until they face it. Perhaps the spiders are hers? Who knows what a witch fears? Their power is beyond me.”
“She is my mother,” replies Draco. “She is not beyond me.”
The captain laughs. “My mother was always beyond me. You are fortunate indeed if that’s not the case for you.”
Draco laughs a little. It is a sad sound. He doesn’t like it when he fights with Caerwen because she has always been there, from the very beginning and he does not want to think of a time when she will not be there. From the moment of his birth he has felt loss.
“How does a witch give birth to a dragon?”
Draco looks at the captain. “That is a tale for another time.”
The Captain shrugs. “Fair enough.”
“If you want my advice,” she continues, handing him Caerwen’s broom. “And you have not asked for it. You will go after her.”
“She wants to be alone.”
“She thinks she does,” says the captain. “But she is mistaken. Trust me. I’d give anything for one more conversation with my mother.”
Draco looks up the cliffs and then back at the broom in his right claw.
“You forgot this,” says Draco, dropping the broom by Caerwen’s feet as he lands on top of the cliff.
Caerwen is sat on a tree stump. Her face is streaked with tear marks.
“I am sorry that you have seen me like this,” she says, without looking at him.
“There is nothing to apologise for,” says the dragon. “You have seen me in worse states.”
“You are the child and I am the adult,” replies Caerwen.
They sit on the cliff top. The sun is making its slow descent towards the horizon, the smell of woodsmoke from the beach is faint but distinct and everything is trapped in an amber glow. The silence grows between them like a storm cloud gathering overhead until Caerwen says as fast as lightening.
“Witches see when they are going to die.”
Draco looks at her. “What do they see?”
Caerwen gathers her cloak around her against the dropping temperature. “For each of us it is different but it is the vision we receive when we come into our power. It is the price we pay.”
“I thought you didn’t believe in fate,” replies Draco, poking the ground with a claw.
Caerwen smiles. “I said I didn’t trust fate had a purpose.”
Draco laughs softly. “That’s right. He’s fickle.”
“He’s a man…”
Draco nods. “Tell me exactly what you saw in the vision.”
Draco gestures with his right foreclaw. “Go on…in my nightmares I hear screams that are worse than anything you can possibly imagine. I was born in the storm, in the crashing thunder and the lightening. I do not scare easy.”
Caerwen reached to touch the cheek of her son. “Oh that I could take that from you.”
Caerwen closes her eyes. “I am in the mountains. I can hear them weeping in the dark as the rain lashes at my already sodden clothes and my broom is broken at my feet. As the lightening flashes, I can see the spiders moving down the slope towards me like spilled oil and the click-clack of their teeth as they come closer. I try to move away but I slip and slide into a web. I can’t even hear my own screams as they swarm over me.”
“Where am I?”
Caerwen opens her eyes. “You are not there.”
The dragon thinks for a moment. “You cannot tell how old you are?”
Caerwen shakes her head. “There is nowhere to see a reflection. I have no sense of how I feel in the vision.”
“You’re going to try to drive back the spiders, aren’t you?” says Caerwen, turning back to the ocean.
Draco nods. “I have to. Fate may not have purpose but I do. I create my own.”
Caerwen nods. “I know you do.”
“Stay here,” says Draco. “Let me do this one on my own.”
“I can’t do that,” says Caerwen, hugging him. “You may be the dragon but you are also my son and I made a promise.”
“I make a promise,” whispers Draco, leaning towards his mother. “I will keep you safe. I am not ready to say goodbye.”
“We never are,” replies Caerwen, cupping the dragon’s head. She kisses his brow.
“Now let us see if we can help those people get their lives back.”
They fly north.
The storm comes on them as the grass below turns into darkness. Draco flies low looking for the source of the black. They are almost at ground level before they realise the land is covered in spider after spider, the arachnids move in a clicking crescendo that is louder than the thunder. They are on every piece of land, every tree and every building. Draco forces himself up higher into the storm. Caerwen clutches onto his back against the driving rain.
“What do we do now?” he shouts back at his mother.
Caerwen looks into the distance at the mountains. She points. “They are all coming from there. It’s like they are trying to get away from something. We have to go there.”
Draco nods. He beats his wings harder, taking them higher until they break free of the storm clouds into the silent darkness above where only the stars and the moon can see them. The North Star gleams in the distance, orientating the dragon, and the constellation known as the bear watches on as they glide over the flashes of lightening below. Draco circles over where the mountains should be.
He breaks the silence: “Ready?”
Caerwen replies in the dragon tongue: “Ydw.”
Draco folds back his wings. They dive. They look like a javelin, hurled by the bear at the land below as they skewer the clouds. The storm rages briefly around them, lightening crackling as if it senses their passing and then they are in the rain and the wind. Draco opens his wings to stop them before they crash into the mountain. The dragon sends flames billowing down onto the slope, driving the spiders back with the force of his heat and bringing himself to a firm but manageable landing on the slick rock. Caerwen slips from his back and sends a spell careening up the slope towards a series of caves from which more spiders appear to be emerging.
“We must find their source!” she shouts over the noise of the spiders.
Draco nods. Some of the spiders are creeping round behind them, trying to attack from the rear. He is forced to spin round breathing fire to clear them back. The lightening flashes down, striking the wet rock in a searing light that smells of scorched rock and meat. It is as if another dragon has kicked Draco’s chest as he his thrown far into the air. His last thought is his mother must have been struck as well.
The sky is blue when Draco opens his eyes. The storm has passed while he has been unconscious. It takes a moment for him to remember where he is but when the spiders come back into his mind he rolls to his feet, sweeping his foreclaws at non-existent creatures. He looks down confused. He can hear them in the distance but they are not here. There is a deep chuckle. He looks round at the person who is laughing.
A tall man is leaning against a boulder with one booted leg hooked up behind him. He is dressed in a leather jerkin and leggings that Draco really hopes are made from snake skin rather than dragon but it is hard to tell. The man has a large handle bar moustache that stretches back up across his weathered face to his wild hair and a large brimmed hat. An axe is slung over his left shoulder. The head of the weapon is as big as Draco’s.
“None of those buggers is going to come around here,” says the man. “They know better than that. I doused this part good.”
Draco can smell something strange but familiar. “What is that?”
“That,” says the man standing properly. “Is a waste of damned fine wysgi. Still – it can’t be helped.”
Draco blinks. “I’m sorry you are?”
The man leans his axe against the rock. “Sorry big fella. I’m Ace.” He offered his hand.
Draco shakes it with his own foreclaw. “Draco. What kind of name is Ace?”
The man lights a cigar. He sucks in a deep draw of smoke before replying. “The one I picked for myself on account of not remembering who I am.”
“You don’t know who you are?”
“Nope,” says the man. “I don’t know what I drank to get in such a state but I am determined to find out. As soon as I get out of here to some place where there aren’t any spiders. You, my friend, are going to help with that…”
Draco blinked. Caerwen. “Mother!”
“My mother is still out there. Did you see her?”
The man picks up his axe again. “No, just you big fella, flying through the air like a rag doll and nearly crushing me. I’m sorry, if she was out there when that lightening hit then she’s gone.”
Draco roars fire at the sky. His rage and grief echoes round the mountain. When he looks at Ace, the man has lifted his left arm against the heat of the flame and the other is holding the axe as if he means to use it.
“Alright big man,” says Ace. “Are you going to get me out of here?”
Draco eyes the axe. “Are you going to help me find my mother?”
Ace holds the dragon’s gaze for a moment. He looks like he might argue. “Sure. Sounds like fun.”
Draco cannot contain his surprise. “Why?”
Ace replies: “It’s payment.”
“Getting me out of here.”
The two of them clamber up out of the whisky-soaked area of mountain towards the mass of spiders. Ace turns to Draco.
“Your mother, she another dragon?”
Draco shakes his head. “She’s a witch.”
Ace shakes his head. “I’ve got to find out what I drank.”
The spiders attack in a tide of legs and teeth that Draco is not prepared for. They were more placid in the driving rain. Now they see fresh meat and they are hungry for dragon. Their numbers have swelled well beyond what can be fed from the mountains and plains below. Ace drives as many back as he can with his axe, in the end he gives up trying to kill them and just starts using the axe as a bat to clear a path through. Draco sends a jet of flame ahead of them that kills a large swathe of spiders in a narrow path through. Now he is up out of the crater he woke up in, he can see the peaks and ridges of the range and make his way back to where they landed.
The spiders are back again. Draco sends another jet of flame but it will take them all day at this pace. He picks Ace up by the scruff of his jerkin and deposits the man on Draco’s shoulders. They take off with spiders nipping at Draco’s feet. The dragon stays low as he peels over the mountain-side looking for any sign of Caerwen but there is nothing…
…Caerwen opens her eyes. She cannot move. The web that engulfed her on the mountain-side is still wrapped around her arms and legs and she cannot call her broom as she lost it went she was electrocuted by the lightening. She is amazed that she is alive. She is supposed to be dead. The darkness and the dripping of water tells her that she is not where she was thrown. She looks up at the surface of the cave in which she has been placed, the rock is rough but covered in a thin film of moisture that makes it look like the skin of a whale.
There are no spiders here. Yet she knows someone is there. She can hear them breathing.
“Why do you hide?” she asks.
“I am no threat,” she says. “I cannot move. Show yourself.”
“Have you come to kill me, witch?”
Caerwen lifts her head. The voice is not familiar but the accent is one she has heard before, long ago, when she was far from home and learning her craft.
“That depends on what you are doing here?” she replies warily. “The Sarm have grown in number and threaten the world. Why?”
There is the sound of steps. The creature has come closer, Caerwen strains to move. She is certain it is right next to her left ear. When it speaks next the voice is so close it tickles the hairs in her ear.
“What if I kill you first?”
Caerwen’s heart is trying to beat its way out of her chest. She knows death is near enough that if she spoke the word she would see it creeping across the cavewalls like a wraith.
“You do not want to do that,” she replies, forcing herself to stay calm. “My son is near. You do not want to risk his wrath.”
“What of the dragon?” replies the creature. “It will not find us here.”
Caerwen forced her head round and looks straight at the creature. Draco and Caerwen have seen others like this since they passed through the foglands, mainly these strange beings of light flickered in for a look than flickered somewhere else. This one would have been pretty beautiful at one point but he had stayed in this plane too long, his hair had become lank and his skin pale and waxy. He was dressed in rags he had taken from someone but once he might have dressed fit for a prince or a duke. He carried himself as if he had been someone of importance.
“You should not be here.”
The creature looked confused. “Where should I be then?”
“You are but a shade,” she replies. “You are meant to be somewhere else. It is dangerous magic that has brought you here, born of grief and loneliness and it is not your fault but you must leave. The spiders are multiplying because of your presence.”
The creature steps back. “I travelled from star to star. I floated on the music of the cosmos and I heard the bridge that carried me here. Why was that wrong? Where is the one that called me?”
Caerwen sighs. “The one who called you is not in this plane. They created you from memory and imagination and bound you to another’s image with their tears and pain. Leave before my son finds you.”
“Why shouldn’t I kill you?” asks the creature. He lifts a knife from within his robes. A spider scuttles over his chest and down his back.
“Because the dragon will destroy you and you have a chance to carry on.”
“Live or die,” says the creature. “It makes no difference. I have no purpose. I am nonsense set to a tune I don’t understand.”
Caerwen closes her eyes and waits for the blow.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, mate.”
Caerwen opens her eyes. There are more people in the cave, one is smoking a cigar that is almost gone and carrying an axe that could behead a troll. Behind him familiar eyes gleam in the tunnel as Draco winds his way into the chamber.
The creature looks from the dragon to the man and back to Caerwen.
“You have a choice,” rumbles the dragon.
Ace is working his way round to the creature’s side.
“You can go leave now and live,” says Draco, small flames emerging from the edges of his nose and mouth. “Or you can find out just why even your spiders are afraid of a dragon.”
Ace is almost in position.
“No,” Caerwen cries out, pulling at the web restraining her. “You mustn’t…”
Ace leaps, knocking the knife from the creature’s hand with the butt of his axe handle. The creature is gone from where Ace swings his axe, embedding the head into the rock and leaving the warrior over-extended. The creature reappears, kicking Ace’s legs out from under him. The spiders move closer to the warrior, ready to feast, when Draco lashes out with his tail and pins the creature by the throat to the wall.
The ground shakes and undulates. The quake is powerful and some of the cave roof falls in leaving pockmarks of sky peaking through at the stand off.
“Stop!” commands Caerwen, uttering a word of power in the next breath that burns the web from her. It hurts. She will have scars. It doesn’t matter. All is at stake.
They are all looking at her.
“When did you become a killer?” she asks Draco.
The dragon looks from her to the creature. Draco’s tail is still wrapped around his throat and it would be so easy to squeeze until there was a crack or to lash out with his claws and break the little man into pieces.
“Empty…” whispers Draco. “He would have taken everything from me. Without you…I am nothing.”
Caerwen places her hand on Draco’s shoulder. “One day you will go on without me. No oak stands for ever.”
“I don’t want to,” he replies, tearful. “What would I do?”
“Whatever you choose,” replies Caerwen, her smile is sad. “A wise dragon once told me he didn’t believe in fate, that we decide our purpose and so you would. But I have not died this day. If the vision is true, it is not today.”
Draco loosened his grip.
The creature drops to the floor of the cave. It retreats into the darkness, amongst the spiders, and the only sign it is still with them in the cave are the pair of eyes that glow in the black at a height too tall to be an arachnid.
Ace sits up. His hands reach for the axe handle but it is too far away. He is watching the creature’s eyes in the dark, and flicking back to look at the witch and the dragon. He lights another cigar in the silence.
“What now?” he asks.
“This changes nothing,” hisses the creature.
Draco sighs. “It changes everything, I do not kill for no reason, I do not kill at all if I can help it.”
Draco looks up at the sky through the gaps in the rock above. The blue seems a very long way away and the dragon wonders if he will ever fly in it again.
“Because life is short and fleeting and you cannot go back. What right do I have to end that?”
The creature is silent. “You can do what you like, there is no plan.”
“Yes,” replies Draco. “And I choose this. I am no killer. This is my purpose – I help.”
There is no response.
Caerwen keeps her hand on her son’s shoulder but looks at the warrior and the creature. “Unless you intend to force him to fight, now would be a good time to leave. You shouldn’t be here. The one who brought you should know better but the place is collapsing under the weight of it all..”
“How do I get my light back?” asks the creature. “I am marooned without it.”
Caerwen picks up the knife. “Draco, what is your true name?”
Draco speaks his true name in his deep-throated growl. Caerwen cuts his arm with a sudden sharp slice of the blade. The dragon leaps away, swearing. He looks at his mother with a hurt expression though he is not seriously harmed.
“I’m sorry my love,” she says. “It’s just a little scratch to help them on their way.”
Caerwen cups the blood running down his arm, golden as the sun, with her hand. She moves over to the creature and smears the blood over his hair and face. He clutches his head as if it burns before he bursts into light that forces Caerwen to shield her eyes.
“What in the hell…” mutters the warrior.
The creature’s rags have burned away. He seems more real now, full of colour and glowing still. He bows to the dragon.
Draco’s arm is throbbing but he returns the bow with a nod.
“What about me?” asks Ace. “How do I leave? I don’t know how I got here or where I am meant to be.”
Caerwen steps close to the warrior and pulls his head down to her level; she mutters a spell into his ear while tapping on his forehead. When she releases him, the man pushes his hat back on his head as if lost in thought.
“He will regain his memory,” she says to the creature. “The further he gets from this place the better it will be but he will need someway to travel with you.”
The creature looks at the cave floor. He speaks a word neither Draco or Caerwen understands and spiders emerge, retreating from across the land into the cave where they pool into something different. Something mechanical but sleek, something silver.
“Get on,” says the creature to the warrior. “We must go.”
Draco watches them lift into the sky and disappear into the distance. Caerwen stands next to him. As the two intruders into their world disappear from view she places her head on the dragon’s shoulders. Neither of them are as easy with each other as they had been in the sea only the day before but Draco lets himself enjoy the moment before speaking.
“Where are the spiders now?”
“Gone,” answers Caerwen. “For now. They come and they go. Perhaps we have rewritten what I saw or perhaps I miss-interpreted it and my death is in one of my other dreams. Who knows?”
Draco nods. “You do not have to pay the price, that is good.
His mother shook her head. “We all pay in the end.”
“What now?” Draco asks his mother as they look back out at the land leading down to the sea from the mountains. He wants to see more of this coast.
Caerwen shatters the knife on the cave wall before answering.
“That is up to us.”