Chapter Twenty Three
Alaryia swore violently in draconic as she leapt across the square to kneel by the fallen dragon. She laid a hand on his shoulder and closed her eyes, then swore again.
Watch them! she snapped in Kyle’s head. Make sure they don’t cause any more trouble.
Of course. Kyle drew his urumi and placed himself between Plamen’s soldiers and the nymphs and Ian. What about the one who did it? He glared coldly at the now cowering dwarf.
Let Est deal with him. She’s on her way.
“I-” Pensura began. Kyle looked around and saw that she’d taken a hesitant step towards Alaryia. “I-” She shook her head as if trying to clear it. “Is he going to be okay? He- he saved our lives.”
“I don’t know,” Alaryia said. “That beam damaged his heart and it’s beyond even my skill to heal. It’s bad enough that he’d dissipate immediately if he went to his shadow form.” She took hold of one of the fallen dragon’s hands in her own. “Hold on, Est’s coming.”
Can he transition? Kyle asked mentally as he turned his attention back to the prisoners.
He’s trying but he’s not strong enough to form an egg on his own, she said. Most kedri aren’t – especially not with this sort of damage. I’m trying to keep him alive until Est gets here to help but I can’t even stabilise him.
Dariad watched through his throne’s connection as Plamen came racing into his own throne room. He made a gesture and the doors slammed shut behind him, locking his own troops outside. The fire dwarf king looked terrified but he hesitated at the bottom of the steps as he looked up at his throne.
He knows? Dariad asked.
He suspects, I think, his throne replied. He wouldn’t be there at all if he knew… Ah!
There was a loud crack as the doors shattered inwards and Estara strode in. She was in human form and aside from her purple black hair and purple eyes she looked enough like Alaryia that Dariad would have known them for kin. Plamen took one look at her and bolted up the steps to the throne.
Plamen’s scream made Dariad cringe. Even with his own throne cushioning him, enough of the Plamen’s agony leaked through to make him whimper.
I warned you it would be bad. the throne said. But at least it work- damn!
What is it? Dariad asked.
He’s fighting back, the throne replied. He probably knows he can’t hold it forever but he’s trying to get a shot in at Estara.
Yes, he’s actually thinking of his people for once. That had to be Plamen’s throne. But she’s been a model of restraint so far and I know he won’t have really learnt his lesson. Not after destroying that village to get to a girl who never hurt anyone. The coldness in its tone made Dariad’s mouth go dry. He was very glad it wasn’t aimed at him.
You would never do anything to deserve it, his own throne said.
I hope no- Dariad began and then broke off as he saw Estara stiffen and look straight at the throne. What?
Deal with him! She spat mentally. I have something to attend to. She turned and raced from the room.
What? Dariad asked again.
There was a very long pause during which Dariad suspected Plamen’s throne was checking.
One of her troops was severely injured saving Pensura’s life, it said finally. There was another scream from Plamen as it stabbed into his mind for emphasis. And it’s your fault. Now give me one good reason why I should kill you now instead of just letting Estara have you.
But t-the people, Plamen said.
She’s not going to hurt them. She might hurt your troops â€“ the ones who weren’t just terrified of you anyway â€“ but not the majority, I think. And even if she does she’ll be better than you. It’s kind of sad that a dragon will treat your people better than you did â€“ though with Estara you’d have to be pretty well perfect to treat them better. It stabbed down once more and Plamen screamed again and went unconscious. Her territory, like Waldhafen, is in my range; she treats all her people well.
A loud pop made Kyle look around to see Estara appear by her sister and immediately kneel down by the injured dragon.
“Thank the void you’re here!” Alaryia said. “I couldn’t hold him much longer.”
“So I see.” Estara took the fallen dragon’s other hand. “It’s okay, Kitadan. I’m here now, you can let go. I’ll catch you.” She laid one hand on his forehead and began murmuring reassurances in draconic.
The dragon gave a heavy sigh and became still. A moment later he shattered into ribbons of purple shadow. Estara reached out and gathered them into a swirling mass in her hands. Her own aura ignited into a pillar of darkness. Kyle held his breath and waited. When it dissipated, Estara was kneeling there holding a fluid-filled transparent purple egg in her lap.
After a moment she looked up tiredly. “That was close.” She rose to her feet, still clutching the egg, and turned to the prisoners. “Now, who was responsible for this?”