Kate leaned away from the book, looking startled. Dana, however, leaned closer and the lady grasped her hand and tugged, causing Dana to tumble head over heels into the world behind the picture. Kate stared a second and then, as the lady's hand stretched again, shrugged and took it, entering the picture only slightly more gracefully than her companion, landing on hard ground in a sitting position with a thump.
After a moment of darkness, her vision cleared. Yes, she was sitting on the ground, and Dana was lying face down next to her. But Dana didn't seem to be conscious - her eyes were closed and her breathing sounded a little raspy and uneven.
"Dana." She leaned over to look at her friend's face. "Dana, are you okay?" There was no immediate reply and Kate wasn't sure what to do. Her knowledge of first aid was sketchy and hadn't been updated since high school. Don't move the victim - that was all she could remember for sure. So, for the next eternity, although it was probably only a few minutes, she sat next to Dana and petted her hair, trying not to panic.
Suddenly, Dana drew a deep breath and groaned. "What happened?" She opened her eyes and struggled to sit up. With a little help from Kate, she managed it, and her eyes popped wide as she took in the vista in front of her.
Kate followed her line of vision and together they stared. The castle was there, ancient and crumbling, but a crimson flag fluttered from one crenelated tower and let them know that it was not abandoned. It seemed to have a golden image on it, but they were too far away to make out exactly what it was.
A long path wound up the side of the mountain, leading to the fortress, and Kate saw a small pack team making its way up. Supplies. Another sign of life. And then, from behind the castle, rising up into the late afternoon sunshine, glinting off its wings - wings the same rose gold as the lettering on that last page in the book of shadows - came the dragon. Wings flared, it settled onto the top of the flagged tower, then in an instant disappeared.
The looked at each other and back at the castle. What did this mean? Where were they?
Kate remembered something. "Dana, where did the lady go?" Because she was not there, had not been there since they arrived.
"I don't know." Dana moved to her knees then to stand up. "But I think I know where we need to go for answers."