Chapter Twenty Three
A/N: I’m going to be doing a presale/crowdfund for The Dragon Wars Saga Arc One (that’s chapters 1-9 approx 81k words) book in March. If you’re even slightly interested please take a look at this post where I outline the expenses I will accrue doing from putting the book version out and the perks I’m thinking of for presalers. Feedback from potential buyers/contributors on how to make the perk packages better would be gratefully received.
Nerezza turned out to be a lovely dark nymph. That wasn’t surprising; Kyle had never met an unlovely nymph. Dark, lambent eyes shone out of an equally dark face and her long, purple-black hair seemed to fade into the surrounding shadows rather than ending. Her first action on appearing in the room with Gendalian was to rush over to Ian and take his hands.
“Don’t worry, we’ll find your heart friend, I promise!” she said. She glanced over at Estara. “I picked up just about everything.”
“I hope so,” Ian said. He was pale and swallowed visible. “She’s saying that there’s banging outside. She thinks they’ve realised she’s alive. The wards are keeping them out but she can’t have long until they fetch an unweaver.”
“Well then, there’s no time to waste,” Nerezza said briskly. “Does she know how many people are outside?”
“Half a dozen, maybe a dozen. She thinks this Plamen person took the rest of them back to the army and left the others to find her.”
“Could be worse, then.” Nerezza turned back to Estara. “I know Alaryia-mirian and Gend are coming with us, but can I borrow a couple of kedri to watch our backs as well?” She paused. “And I think I’ll take Fazina and Zendran with me as well. They’re both excellent healers and there may be some survivors outside the cellar.”
“Of course.” Estara inclined her head. “But hurry.”
“We will.” Nerezza reached out and took Ian’s hand again. “I have an idea where she’ll be. There’s only a couple of nymph villages in Plamen’s territory that would be acceptable to both mind and storm nymphs, but I need your help to pinpoint her. Reach out with your mind and try and sense where she is.”
“Okay.” Ian closed his eyes and a furrow appeared between his eyes as he concentrated. After a moment, he pointed north-west. “That way. Only feels like a few miles as well.”
“Show me,” Nerezza said. There was a pause, then she smiled and nodded. “Yes, that’s where I thought she’d be.” She nodded to the two dragons and two goblins who had arrived while Ian was searching. Are we all ready?” She waited until everyone nodded. “Let’s do this then. Keep that army occupied, Est.”
They emerged from the gate Nerrezza had opened for them into a sheltered grove of trees in a hollow behind a small village – or what had been a small village. Now it was a smoking ruin.
Kyle hissed between his teeth and couldn’t quite stop himself from swearing loudly – which earned him a kick in the ankle from Darya. The reminder made him look around frantically to see if his outburst had attracted attention. The entire performance provoked a strained chuckle from Nerezza.
“Don’t worry, I’ve already concealed us. I’m nowhere near as good with sound as darkness but I’m good enough for this. No one will see or hear us until we’re ready.”
“Thank you.” Kyle looked back towards the village an set his shoulders. “We’d better hurry.”
They hurried up the path from the grove towards the village. It didn’t take long to work out where Ian’s heart friend and her sister must be hiding from the small crowd surrounding it. About half of them appeared to be in chains, and one badly burnt storm nymph was on her knees in front of the shattered entrance while an angry looking fire dwarf threatened her with a sword. Whatever he was saying, the defiant way she shook her head was obvious.
“That’s her mo-” Ian paused and frowned. “Her donator mother? What does that mean?”
Nerezza opened her mouth but then hissed and shook her head. “We can discuss nymph biology once we’ve put a stop to that.” She nodded to where two of the fire dwarf’s soldiers were forcing the nymph’s forehead to the ground as the dwarf lifted his sword – obviously intending to behead her. “Come on!” She drew a slender black blade and charged.
Take him alive, Nere, Alaryia’s mind speech was audible to all of them. He’s Plamen’s son. If the throne plan fails, let’s see how he likes having the tables turned on him.
Nerezza gave no response to show that she’d heard, but Kyle was certain she had.
“We’d better go as well,” Alaryia said. She looked at Ian. “Stay here with Fazina and Zendran – you’re not equipped to fight yet.” She shed her human form and flew down towards the village in her dragon form. The two kedri dragons rapidly followed her lead while Gendalian began circling overhead, watching for any sign of the rest of Plamen’s troops returning.
“Well this won’t last long once they realise there are dragons here,” Fazina said. The goblin woman sat down on a nearby tree stump and looked at Kyle and Darya. “But you should go and see what you can salvage of the village.”
Kyle nodded and gave Ian’s shoulder a squeeze. “It’ll be okay.” Then he grabbed Darya’s hand and teleported them to the village below.
A/N: Hey peeps! Check out this quick sketch of Valeria and Salia that my beta reader Inventrix did.