The lower council chamber was huge, perhaps three times as big as the upper one. High stone arches concealed shadowed chambers from which emerged the members of the elders council, all stone faced and robed in black. They took their seats in polished pews around an immense stone circle, at one end of which sat Master Solun, hands clasped and head bowed. His robes were black, like the rest, but edged in brilliant gold in thin, swirling patterns that she could have sworn were glowing. The sight was unnerving, to say the least. K hesitated.
“You sure this is a good idea?”
“It will be fine.” He took her hand, leading her forward to the edge of the circle opposite Master Solun. “The council does nothing without reason.”
“If their reason is to look scary as all get out, I'd say it's working,” she muttered as she took her place beside him. “What's wrong with the upper chamber?”
“I don't know.” He whispered. “But shh, the last of them are taking their seats.”
The murmur of the elders quieted down as the last of them took his place, leaving the room in a deafening silence for a moment as all eyes fell to them. K glanced around, nervous, but Ryven tightened his grip on her hand reassuringly. Finally, Master Solun stood.
“Ryven of the northern edge, welcome.” He spoke with a full, resounding voice that echoed through the chamber and belied his age. “You have completed your task?”
“I have.” Ryven dropped her hand as he responded, stepping forward into the light of the circle.
“Then this is the child of Kolina, a thousand years gone?”
“Welcome, then, Destined one.” Master Solun bowed slightly, and Ryven motioned for her to come forward. She stepped hesitantly into the stone circle, and the rest of the council bowed from their seats. “We have long awaited your arrival.”
“...Thank you.” she said, glancing to Ryven, who nodded. “I have been told that you know what I must do.”
“We do.” Master Solun sank back into his chair, face still stone. “The darkness has invaded our lands, and even now encroaches further. I am sure you have encountered it—yes, you have already begun to fight. This is good.”
“I fought some.” She nodded. “But Ryven told me about a dragon; I'm supposed to find it before I can defeat the darkness?”
“Yes.” Master Solun nodded. “But that is another matter altogether. And that, my brothers,” he adressed the elders council, standing and motioning to them all, “is why we are gathered.”
“So, then, you know where it is?” She looked almost hopeful. “I was afraid we would have to spend a lot of time looking for it...”
“You have already found it. The dragon has been with you all along.”
“What do you mean?” Ryven started, eyes wide. “the prophecy clearly stated...”
“Exactly what we said, Ryven.” Master Solun spoke again. “The dragon has been with you all along.”
“But we haven't seen it!” K objected. “It's kinda hard to miss that!”
“It will be made clear.” One of the elders moved to K's side, and drew her back. “You must leave.”
“But...” Ryven attempted to follow, but Master Solun's voice held him there.
“You are to stay.”
“But it's my sacred duty, to...” Ryven held out his hands as he spoke, again moving after K.
“Do not move, child of destiny!” Master Solun's voice resonated around the chamber. “All will be made clear.”
The floor suddenly became lit in harsh red lines with the power of a spell. Ryven stared around him at the sealing circle he found himself imprisoned in. “Master Solun, what... What's happening?” He bashed against the edge of the circle, attempting to get out.
K stood at the edge of the chamber, staring. “What's going on?” she demanded. “What did Ryven do?”
“This is not a punishment, child.” The elder that had lead her from the circle stood behind her, watching impassively. “This is destiny.”
“Destiny my foot, let him out of there!”
A slow, melodious chant began to fill the chamber, echoing out of nowhere. Ryven bashed against the circle again and again, shocked back every time by the power it held. Master Solun looked away.
“When this one was but a child, we found him.” He spoke softly.
“We found him.” The rest of the council repeated.
“We took him, raised him, and tested him.”
“He has never known the truth.”
“He has never known the truth.”
“What truth?” Ryven shouted. “Master Solun, please, what's going on?”
“When this one was but a child, there was another spell.”
“We found him.”
“We bespelled him.”
“You what?” Ryven's shout carried over the murmur of the elder council, piercing through the near-deafening chanting.
“And now, by the power of the destined...”
“By her power.”
“We remove this spell.” This last invocation was spoken by all, unified. The chamber resounded with the words as they cut through the chanting like an arrow.
The sudden silence after went unnoticed as K stared, shocked, at the transformation overtaking Ryven. He fell to his knees, his head in his hands, as he began to glow with the same terrible red light that trapped him there. His body seemed to buckle as if under some enormous strain; his back bent unnaturally and his shoulders began to swell. K threw herself forwards to help him, only to be thrown back by the outer circle, hitting hard against a wall. Ryven's hands were changing now; a brilliant blue was winding it's way across his skin, engulfing the red light as it went- and he seemed to be growing.
Wings suddenly exploded from his swollen shoulders, bursting out all at once, tearing through his white shirt. Not those of an angel—more like the wings of a bat, and that same brilliant blue. The sealing circle that bound him suddenly expanded, tainted with that same sapphire color that was overtaking him. The wings fell to his sides as if broken, and the change continued to wind it's way through him. His hands were claws, now. Along his twisted spine scales began to appear, and a wild, black mane shot down his back. He tried to stand, to fight his way out of the circle. Horns twisted out of his skull, and he fell again, lying prone under the weight of his wings.
The blue color finally made it up to his face. He tried to cover his features with one hand-now-claws, trying to stop the change, but his features began to melt away, elongating and changing uncontrollably. He gave one short, sharp cry, and the last recognizable part of him was gone. He was something else now, something bestial—K suddenly understood.
“He's the dragon.”
The transformation continued unchecked. His neck grew longer, arms thicker. The last remains of his clothing fell to the ground as his body continued to grow. He'd gained a tail at some point. His feet and legs no longer resembled their human counterparts. Rows of shining scales ran down his back, down his arms and legs and tail. She bit her lip as she watched him writhe. The transformation was almost complete now; the red of the sealing circle had been almost completely extinguished by the blue.
One final burst of light ran through the circle and through Ryven, and the room fell completely dark. Every candle had been extinguished by the spell. The only sound was the rough, heavy breathing of something huge and inhuman, tinged with the smell of smoke and the sharp, bitter aftertaste of magic.
One by one, the lamps were relit, shining pinpoints of light in the infinite dark of the chamber. K stood from where she'd fallen against the wall, staring hesitantly at what had been her friend. He wasn't moving, save for the rise and fall of his breathing as he lay in the center of the chamber. She moved hesitantly towards him, half afraid that this might not be Ryven after all.
“Ryven?” She kneeled by his head, staring into one of the heavy-lidded blue eyes that roamed the chamber. He didn't respond. She moved a little closer, reaching out to touch him. His scales were cool to the touch, but she could feel a heat beneath them, barely kindled yet. She ran a hand down his neck. “Ryven, talk to me.”
The blue eye focused on her for a moment, then looked away, in something she could have sworn was shame.
“He cannot speak.” Master Solun's voice came from behind her. “You will learn to communicate with him, but not in words. That is lost to him now.”
“What did you do to him?” She stood to face him, angry.
The old man held up his hands, attempting to calm her. “We have only restored him to his natural form. This is how he was always intended to be.”
“But...” She trailed off, glancing down at Ryven-what had been Ryven-as he lay upon the floor. “I thought you cared for him.”
“It was destiny.” Master Solun's words were forced and hollow, and for a moment she almost believed that he hadn't wanted this either. “It had to be done.”
“You'll understand eventually.” He put a hand to her shoulder, and tried to lead her away. “Let him rest now. The worst is over with, but the coming weeks will be hard.”
“I want to stay with him.” Her voice was resolute. “I'm not leaving him here like this.”
I'm not sure if this is a new story. It's been around for a few years, but I might not have posted from it before. In any case, wrote this a few days ago while practicing being descriptive. I like it, I think.