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Lightning flashed around the castle on Storm Isle. Jagged towers and turrets rose up over the dark island, and the fortress gave the impression that it was built only half in reality, and half in the land of nightmare.

Dragon Queen and her entourage looked down from the castle wall to the wretched town outside. "I should have thought of this before," the pale woman growled out. "After all, it was I who found the shard of the Gemstone that was lost with my wretched sister Solaria. That blasted Golden Girl may have replaced Argonia's shard, but the Gemstone was shattered into more than just two pieces."

"So what of it?" Vultura asked as she looked up from sharpening her talons. "Even if we obtained a third shard, theirs will still exist to power the Guardians' magics." Some might interpret Vultura's questions as insolence, but in fact, Dragon Queen's closest companions were startlingly loyal. They simply also tended to be quite blunt.

A cruel smile played upon the Dragon Queen's deep red lips. "Ah, but you see, both shards were part of the same stone. The same magic stone. And Magic..."

"Magic remembers," finished Moth Lady, whose knowledge of the mystic arts was on a par with the Dragon Queen's. "But I still don't understand what you plan to do with the stone."

"Corrupt it, my dears," Dragon Queen answered, turning towards her companions, her smile widening to display her white, sharp little teeth. "I will find a shard of my own, and infuse it with dark sorceries until it is as black as the blackest night. That darkness will infect Golden Girl's shard, which will, in turn, darken the souls of all the Guardians." Her gaze swept over her minions. "In the end, they'll come to me willingly."

"Sounds good," Wild One sprang from where she sat against the wall, already impatient to act on her queen's latest plan. "When do we get started looking for this shard?"

Just then the noise of a horse galloping at hell-bent rose up from the road nearest the castle. Shadow ran by at very near top speed, her eyes flaring with a demonic red light. Clattering behind the horse was Dragon Queen's personal chariot, and in the chariot, shouting, grinning, and urging the beast on, was Ogra, leader of the Barbarian hordes the Dragon Queen had allied with.

Ogra was obviously drunk.

Dragon Queen sighed heavily and covered her face with one white hand. "As soon as Ogra's finished his joy ride, I suppose."