A/N: I’ve made some tweaks to my Patreon – check it out.Â You can also check out a sample chapter of my Traditional Fantasy WIP “Shattered”. If pledges reach $50/month I’ll start posting on this site fortnightly. We currently have $33/month pledged so that’s just $17/month to go.
Andrew watched his mother head out the door with Mantilan, and then looked back at Kadira.
“Moritah Plain?” he asked. Beside him he felt Kimi shudder violently but she didn’t answer.
“That’s a terrible story.” Kadira also shuddered briefly. “Moritah Plain was home to the largest city in the Heartlands. Moritah was larger than Waldhafen, even, and had the largest Core Gate at its heart. About two centuries ago, Shalriya and Mitakrian attacked it, intending to force their way through the gate and destroy the Core.” She rubbed at her temples. “There were far fewer warriors then, but the three that the Core called managed to stop them with the help of the guardians â€“ but the battle left the whole plain totally lifeless. The entire city died and Mantilan was one of the few survivors. We still don’t know who saved him.”
â€œIt was never rebuilt?â€ Andrew asked.
â€œIt couldn’t be rebuilt,â€ Kadira said. â€œThe entire region is deadly â€“ whatever killed everyone there still kills anyone who goes there unless they are extraordinarily strong. Even death affinity zones don’t kill so quickly.â€
â€œOr they have a death affinity,â€ Naria added. â€œAgrona’s family make occasional forays to see if they can figure out what’s causing the effect and I believe Takilyan-mirian has gone in to look a few times as well, but the borders are well guarded so it’s hard.â€ She looked down sadly. â€œOf course that’s because things sometimes come out of there rather than to keep people out.â€
â€œThings?â€ Andrew asked.
â€œYes,â€ Kimi finally spoke. â€œThings is a good word for them. They don’t look like any normal creatures, aren’t exactly alive and are surrounded by a similar killing field to the one that spawned them. Fortunately it’s weaker and we manage to destroy most of them before they get too far.â€
â€œThat’s not good,â€ Andrew agreed. â€œMaybe now you’re talking, you can get them to let people in to look properly?â€
â€œMaybe,â€ Kadira said. â€œOnce things have settled a little. Moritah Plain was the moment Speakers distrust of dragons turned to outright hatred and I’m not sure things have improved enough to make bringing it up a good idea yet.â€ She paused and looked irritated. â€œAnd you know what, they’re right. We should have stopped them doing that. I understand why the Mirire want to avoid a war â€“ it wouldn’t be pretty â€“ but I’m sure it couldn’t be worse than that.â€
Andrew considered that for a moment but the strange roiling in his stomach told him the answer. â€œActually, it probably could. I mean if two of them did that, what sort of damage might all of them in a battle cause?â€
â€œThat’s a point.â€ Kadira said thoughtfully. â€œIt’s just â€“ well â€“ I saw Moritah Plain from a distance once. It’s horrible and it feels like we should have been able to stop it happening and I feel guilty.â€
â€œYou weren’t even born then, mother,â€ Naria said reasonably.
â€œWhat were you telling me about not blaming myself for something that wasn’t my fault?â€ Andrew added dryly.
Kadira gave him a startled look and then chuckled. â€œThat’s true I suppose.â€
â€œYes, it is.â€ Andrew looked around as his mother and Mantilan returned. â€œDid you find a unicorn?â€
Sonia nodded. â€œAnd as I already thought he was telling the truth.â€
â€œKadira was just telling me about what happened at Moritah Plain,â€ Andrew said.
Sonia’s eyes darkened and she looked down. â€œYes, what happened there was terrible. I asked if he knows what caused that, as well. Unfortunately, he went down before whatever happened.â€ She sat down again. â€œBut let’s talk about something more cheerful.â€ She looked around at Mantilian. â€œYour family still honour your memory; they’ll be glad to know you’re alive even after all this time.â€