April 8th, 2011 | Published in Dragon Wars
The smell of hot chocolate tickled Valeria’s nose as Matthias came back into the study in the treehouse. She was sitting with Yemi, who had been the only conscious one when they found the group that Rilletta had told them about. The girl seemed shaken up by what had happened. She’d screamed and nearly fainted when she caught sight of Matthias, but seemed to have calmed down now. Valeria suspected he’d nudged her but they needed to hear the girl’s story so she couldn’t blame him.
“Here, drink this. You look like you need it.” He pushed a mug in to Yemi’s hands. The girl looked at it dubiously.
“It smells kind of plantlike,” she said.
“Don’t worry, it’s processed enough for you to drink it safely. I used to make it for Indirian and for Val here when she was a child. Try it, you’ll like it.”
“You’re he who was Indirian’s heart friend? But you’re the Dragon Lord, aren’t you?” She took a sip of the hot chocolate and gasped. “Oh, this is good!”
“Yes, I am,” he replied blandly. “On both counts. I told you you’d like it.”
“But… Why…” she trailed off. “Are the others okay?”
“They are. We thought at first they’d been eaten, but the healers say they are just sedated.” He sat down in one of the other chairs. “I’ll explain what I’m doing later if you want. But I promise you don’t need to be afraid of me, child.”
“I don’t think the council or Queen Valeria would let you near me if I did.”
“You bet we wouldn’t,” Valeria said. “But I’d trust Matthias with my life.”
“And I don’t think that dragon would have sent us here, either. The last few days have been so off-kilter.” Yemi frowned and shook her head. “And everyone was panicking when they were trying to get them ready for transport, so that makes sense.”
“You didn’t,” Valeria pointed out. “Why not?”
“I’m not sure. I think because Darya was there. He may be a traitor, but I’ve known him since he was a kid. I don’t think he’d lie to me. Anyway, that dragon was so careful when he fixed what that damned troll had done to me.” She paused and scowled. “Damn it! I sound like a renegade. I’m not a renegade really. But he was so kind.” Her eyes became haunted. “Why was he kind?”
“I don’t think anyone would blame you if you became one after this,” Valeria muttered.
“We know you aren’t, Yemi,” Matthias said. “But I do want you to let Lucas and Ishleen have a look inside your mind to check the dragon hasn’t left any surprises.”
“Who?” Yemi asked.
“The mind warrior and his heart friend, dear,”Â Valeria said. “They’ll spot anything which shouldn’t be there. Now why don’t you tell us exactly what happened.”
Mela was glad to be back on her feet, even if she did still feel a bit woozy. She was standing with Daniel and one of the centaurs in Waldhafen’s armory. The light from the globes hanging from the ceiling glittered off row after row of axes and swords. Bows and quivers of arrows hung from hooks on the walls. Mela looked around for spears, but all the ones she could see were far to long for her to use. The centaur was eyeing her speculatively.
“So,” he said. “Merfolk usually use short spears and knives, don’t they?”
“We do.” She prodded one of the spears cautiously, careful not to knock it over. “These all look far too long for me.”
“Yes,” the centaur agreed. “But knives we can do.” He led her to a rack of daggers and other knives. “Try them out. See what has a good weight and feel for you.”
“Thank you.” Mela hefted several of the blades in her hands until she found a pair of long slender daggers which felt almost perfect. She didn’t think she was going to find anything better unless they hired a dwarf to make her a custom pair. She held them out to the centaur. “These ones.”
“A good choice.” His expression became wry. “I’d say that a pair of daggers would be little use against a dragon, but really we have no idea what would be useful.”
“It rather depends what form they are in,” Daniel said. “You don’t have any short spears at all? They’d be better for reach.”
The centaur shook his head. “Only my people use spears here, and we’re not exactly built for short ones. I’m sure there’s a solution,though. Let me think on it.”
“Okay.” Mela hefted the daggers again. “Is there somewhere I can practice with these?
“Of course,” the centaur replied. “Follow me.”