"Well," I said, "we seem to have a problem."
"You mean the problem of having lost the world's most powerful mage to an army of spider-like monsters."
"Yes, that is the problem I was referring to."
"Excuse me," Lius interrupted. "Who is Dragoneyes?"
"Dragoneyes is a companion of ours. He is a powerful mage, and he will help us stop an evil shade from seizing the Green Tower and destroying life as we know it."
"I see," Lius said.
Dran turned his atttention back to me. "Should one of us go in and get him?"
"Well, Amniel of the White Tower, do you have any better ideas?"
"No... not yet? Why don't we both take some time to think. See if we can't come up with something."
"And if we can't come up with something?"
"Then one of us will have to take a huge risk."
I was thinking about what we could do. I could move air. Dran could control ice. Cassinder was a powerfull sorceress. I thought about what we needed to accomplish. We needed to find Dragoneyes, and extract him. Could Cassinder's powers locate him? I doubted it. I could sense air currents, but he likely wasn't breathing. And I couldn't detect him more than a few dozen paces away regardless. What about moving him? How would we do that? Could I blow him out? No. Winds strong enough to move people... without a line of sight... probably at a great range... impossible. Could Dran do it? Somehow?
I wasn't getting anywhere. Time to start over. What can we do?
Dran was jealous. He had lived the first nineteen years of his life in the Black Tower. He had spent the vast majority of time with just two people: his mother and his father. At times he had hated his imprisonment, at times he had reveled in the solitude. But the fact remained, the Black Tower was more than his home. It was his universe. Phorius and Mauria had been more than parents. They were the only people with whom he had conversed more than four times. And they were dead. And the Black Tower was in the hands of the man who murdered them.
Dranarius hated Koteph. He wanted the man- the shade- dead. He wanted to take everything from Koteph as Koteph had taken everything from him. But he knew that wasn't possible. He was no match for Koteph. Instead, he would have to watch as Dragoneyes fought the shade. Dragoneyes, who done nothing to deserve his power. Dragoneyes who had no right to kill Koteph.
But Dran was realistic. He knew it would have to be Dragoneyes. He knew he was being petty. And he also had a pretty nice idea to free Dragoneyes.
"Could you force air into the tunnels," he asked. "And squash the bugs."
"No." I tried to imagine how much air that would be. Many times the amount normally in the tunnels. But it did give me an idea. "Do you know what air is? It is a mixture of different substances. Only one of those substances is necessary for life."
"So, I can remove that substance. Suffocate the bugs. The people aren't breathing, so they will be fine. Then, we can just go in and rescue Dragoneyes."
We talked the idea over. We couldn't come up with anything better. Dran, Cassinder, and I walked to the edge of the cave. Lius followed.
I began to speak the True Name of air. Gasses moved, and the air in the cavern became less and less breathable. I continued to chant. I could feel the air shifting. I could sense as one by one, the monsters ceased breathing. They suffocated quickly. Insects don't have lungs with which to hold their breath.
"It is done."
"Congratulations," Dran said. "You just slayed a whole cavern full of monsters with one word."
I returned the air to its former vitality. I was about to enter the caves. "Wait." I turned to Lius. "There is a dark sorcerer. Koteph. He plans to launch an attack on the Green Tower. Do you understand?"
"Koteph. Green Tower."
"Yes. If Dran and I don't make it out, I want you to take Cassinder to the University, and warn the Masters of the impending attack. Can you do that?"
"I don't know."
"That will have to do."
We entered the caves. Dran and I created luminous spheres to stave off the dark. Dragoneyes' passing had left footprints in the webs, and we had little trouble tracking him.
Eventually we found him. His eyes were closed, and his copper skin was covered in a thin layer of white webbing. We roused him from his slumber.
"The monsters. They drew you in. They had the power to lure people into their lair."
"And I fell for it."
"Yes," Dran said. "Fortunately, we were able to save you."
"Well," he said, "if it is any consolation, I now know the True Name of spider silk."
He spoke the Name, and the cocoons around us began to thin. I could see the toll the spell was taking on him, but it was working. By the time we left, people were beginning to wake up. Dragoneyes stumbled on the way out. "There are thousands of people in those tunnels. They are going to need food, and water."
"We need to move."
"We will," he said. He invoked the True Name of stone, and created four large cisterns. He collapsed from the effort. Cassinder helped him up.
I knew what he was planning. "Save your strength, Dragoneyes."
"These people are going to need water."
"Although," Dran said, "they could probably make do with ice." He waved his hand, each trough was filled with frozen water. "There. Now I'm exhausted too. Let's get moving."