Taylor exhaled slowly as stared out over the meadow. The rainclouds had gone and once again, the field lay bathed in welcoming sunlight. She looked over her shoulder, into the darkness of the woods, and pushed herself determinedly away from the tree trunk. As she took a step back into the sunlight something flew at her, scratching against her cheek as it brushed by. "Ow!" Taylor flapped her hands crossly.
"You're going the wrong way." The mountain dragon hovered in the air in front of her, his wings flapping so rapidly she could barely see them. He sounded annoyed. "You must go through Torwood Forest in order to reach the other side."
Taylor looked over her shoulder at the dark woods. She turned back to the mountain dragon with a frown. "Why The woods are scary and it will be difficult to get through the trees. Besides, I stepped through the mirror and arrived in the field. I need to go back out there and find the mirror so I can go home."
"Foolish girl." The mountain dragon's voice crackled and his eyes flashed angrily. "I told them that you probably weren't the right one. They should have listened to me."
Taylor raised her hand to bat the irritating little creature out of the way. "You won't get anywhere calling me names. I'm going home." She marched out into the field, heading determinedly towards the spot where she had last seen the mirror.
Within seconds, the mountain dragon had spun a circle around her, lighting the grass on fire with his breath and trapping her within. Taylor squealed in fright. "What are you doing I'm going to get burned!" The flames lept up to form a wall of fire around her, hot and impenetrable.
The mountain dragon flew over the wall of flames and hovered implacably in front of her face. "Don't fuss. You won't be burned. The flames are contained. I have simply created a barrier to ensure that you to stay still long enough for me to talk to you. The others will be cross with me if I allow you to leave. I don't think I can face their anger right now. I am getting far too old for quarrelling and I prefer to be right in the first instance. It saves a lot of time."
Taylor frantically spun around. The wall of flames burned steadily upwards but the fire was not moving towards her. It in a perfect circle, leaving a clear, safe patch of grass in the middle for her to stand upon. Her wet clothes began to steam gently in the heat, the curls of mist rising up to match the height of the flames. The mountain dragon spoke again. "You must go back through the woods."
Taylor glared at him, the danger of the fire pushed aside for now. "I don't get it. Why do I have to go through Torwood Forest What is this place And who are you Why did you bring me here"
The mountain dragon made a quick loop in the air before coming to a stop in front of her again, his wings moving busily. The flames crackled around them but the fire came no closer. "You do not need to know my name," he said haughtily. "We will never be real friends, so there is no point. I am a mountain dragon from the slopes of Donath's Pinnacle. You are in the Obsidian Realm. You have been bought here to help us." He sighed as he spoke the last words.
Taylor shook her head in confusion. "Donath's Pinnacle But, I saw you come out of the painting on the wall of our dining room. It is a picture of the Alps, not Donath's Pinnacle. And what is the Obsidian Realm"
"You ask too many questions." The mountain dragon sounded exasperated and a little bored. "Go back through the forest. You must do as I say."
Taylor frowned, remembering Itaea's words. "The white panther told me to be careful. She said that sometimes the creatures we believe to be our closest friends are the ones who betray us the most. Why should I trust you"
The mountain dragon stared at Taylor, his eyes unblinking, for several seconds before dropping abruptly out of the air, as heavy as a stone, and landing with a thud in the grass at her feet. He rolled over and over, clutching his little claws across his rounded belly and sending tiny sparks of fire into the air. The most peculiar sound stuttered out of his open mouth. With a start, Taylor realized he was laughing at her.
"Stop it! What are you doing Why are you laughing"
The mountain dragon rolled over and looked up at her, his eyes watering and his mouth hanging open in an amused grin. He sprung up into the air and again hovered in front of her face, his wings beating furiously. "As I already told you, I am not your friend! Silly girl. Of course, you can trust me. I want nothing from you that you are unwilling to give. When it comes to trust, you need only be concerned about those who wish to steal something from you. Listen to me." His tone grew serious. "You must find your way through Torwood Forest. Once you get to the other side of the forest, the next part of your journey will be clear."
Taylor crossed her arms defiantly. "What if I say no"
The mountain dragon puffed in exasperation, sending a rolling spiral of flame through the air towards her and causing her to duck hastily to avoid it. "Suit yourself. Stupid is as stupid does. I don't have the inclination to argue. I never believed that you were the right choice of girl anyway." The mountain dragon rose higher in the air, and as he did so the wall of flame stuttered and disappeared, leaving no trace that the fire had ever been, not even the faintest scorch marks on the grass. He flew back towards the forest and then he was gone.
Taylor resolutely walked across the field towards the spot where she had last seen the mirror. She had enough of the Obsidian Realm. She was going home and she had no need to put up with the mountain dragon's name calling ever again.