The man climbed to the top of the staircase and his prize sat in the center tile of the room. He grinned wearily. It had been a long and dangerous climb, and he had been worried that the Guardian was waiting for him, guarding her treasure and ready to strike. However, she had vanished.

Outside, the storm raged on, as it had for centuries. The power of Marus, unbound and unfocused, crashed against the shores of the small island and the walls of the temple. As each wave hit, reverberations sang out in shrill and dissonant harmonies. Soon their song would be silenced.

One step. Two steps. The man was worried that a last-minute trap would be sprung, but as he inched closer to the chest in the center of the room, he felt his confidence rise. He was so close. As he got closer, he noticed the shrieking below got fainter. Was it his imagination? Was Marus aware of him? Or was he imagining it all? It was no matter. By the time he was at the foot of the chest, he could not hear a thing. He could not focus on anything else. He knelt and placed his hand on top of the chest.

"What you are looking for isn't here," roared a voice behind the man. A voice the man was all too familiar with. He turned around to face the guardian. She rose above him, dwarfing him by nearly twenty feet. Her cold blue eyes, as well as the crown of spikes on her head, were like ice. Her long scaly neck glowed in a rainbow of colors, reflecting lights that the man could not see. First green, then blue, then yellow, and finally a white so pure he could barely see anything else. Two bat-like wings were flapping roughly, filling the room with bursts of cold air as she landed, placing herself firmly between the man and the staircase – his only exit. Her tail swished playfully, although in a brief second, it could move fast enough to knock the man yards to his side and through the wall, out into the tempest.

"Caldea," the man scoffed. "I didn't realize you were expecting me."

"Your words are brave for someone so close to their death."

"Your words are lies," the man retorted. "Your holiness would never kill a man who is making no attack against you."

"Playing with fire against a dragon is ill-advised," Caldea warned, but her body remained still. The man smirked again; he had found an advantage. "But still, what you seek is not here. Nor will you ever be the one to find it."

"I'm not playing your games, Caldea. I'm here for the diamond."

"Take it then," Caldea responded, almost playfully. The man scowled again and turned to the chest. He lifted the lid and stood back. For a brief second his eyes glittered with rage, but he pushed it back down and turned back to the dragon.

"Funny games will get you killed, Caldea."

"It is not your time to fight me." Caldea's neck began to glow white again, and her head rose somehow even higher. "The end times for us are only beginning. Do not be so impatient, Magnus." And with that, white fire burst from her mouth and enveloped the man. He screamed, though he felt no pain, and when the fire had all burned up, he was gone from the room.

The storm raged on.