Billy and the forty-nine Elves flew quickly towards the Blue Crystal floating miles above. Billy was in the center of the invisible cage, while the Elves (who knew the exact size, structure and orientation of the cage) flew casually back and forth and around him and between the bars, their movements providing an illusion that that nothing was there without using any spells of concealment that might be detected by the dragon.
They had ascended only a few hundred yards when Desna flew by, missing them by about fifty feet. Billy could sense the dragon’s magic spells, searching for another magically concealed rock wall or other concealed weapon.
The Elves formed a protective circle around Billy, but continued to climb higher into the sky. Closer to the Crystal.
“You are a fool if you think you can hide behind the Elves, Takashema,” said the dragon.
“You will not harm your own people, Desna,” said Tome Qam.
“I must do whatever it takes to defend the Crystal,” replied the dragon. “I had thought Billy would honor his promise not to make me hurt my own people.”
“But the choice is not his. It is ours,” said Tome Qam. “You are but one creature, and no longer a true Elf. You cannot defeat the forty-nine of us, all free Elves, united in mind and purpose.”
“STOP!” roared the dragon. “You must not approach any closer to the Crystal!” Desna started climbing in tight circles, wings a blur of motion as he rapidly gained altitude far above them.
“Return to your cave, Desna. You have already lost,” shouted Tome Qam. They were now halfway to the Crystal.
Desna dove at them, wings tucked in, speed approaching at least two hundred miles per hour. His mouth opened and flames poured out as he swept by. Two Elves screamed as the flames incinerated their clothes and melted their skin. But the remaining Elves had shifted the cage so that the opening was on top, and Desna flew directly into it. He slammed into the bottom of the age, the impact tearing it loose from the Elves grasp. He lay stunned on the invisible bars as it plummeted downward.
The Elves quickly cast spells to slow its fall, and to shut and seal its door. They flew down and landed on the ground just as the cage landed, its heavy bars sinking a few inches into the soft soil. Several Elves rushed into the cage, sprinkling a white powder over the dragon just as he was shaking his head and standing up.
“Come Billy, we must hurry now to the Crystal,” said Tome Qam telepathically to Billy. “We have only a few minutes before Desna finds a way out of the cage.”
“I thought you said he couldn’t melt the bars,” thought Billy.
“He can’t. But he is magic user. He could shape shift. He could teleport out. He could simply unlock the cage telekinetically.”
“Then he could get out right now!”
“Not with the white crystal powder of your wand covering him. It will prevent, or at least dampen and distort his spells until he can shake off the powder or burn it off. That’s why we have a few minutes. He can’t enter the Crystal itself, so if we can get inside, Desna will no longer be a danger.”