Dragon Wars: Land of Myth Chapter Six Part One

May 21st, 2010  |  Published in Dragon Wars  |  1 Comment

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Chapter Six
Part One

“How may I help you, your majesty?”

Dariad swallowed. The city wasn’t yet totally pacified and he hadn’t wanted to risk an incident, so he’d come down to the goblins’ apartments to speak with Alaryia rather than summoning her. He was beginning to wish he hadn’t.  Alaryia was seated in an ornately carved chair which had been placed in the centre of the room, and combined with her silvery silk gown and calm demeanor, she gave the impression that she was the one holding court — even though it was his city.

“Ambassador Alaryia, I do apologise for the need to keep your delegation in your chambers like this. Believe me, it implies no distrust of you or your people.”

“I know. You seem to have some serious problems.” She smiled at him. “What is a sign of distrust, however, is bringing a unicorn with you. It suggests you fear I will lie to you. But that is an understandable distrust and no imposition since I have no intention of lying to you.” She inclined her head to Karda. “Greetings, noble one. Underground is a strange place to find one of your kind.”

The grey unicorn dipped his shimmering moonstone horn to the floor. “Greetings, Ambassador. My affinity lies with earth, so it is not that strange.”

“Karda isn’t just here to vouch for the truth of your words, Ambassador,” Dariad said, “but of mine as well. After all, I’m sure you don’t trust me either.”

Alaryia grinned at him. “I trust you well enough, your majesty. You don’t strike me as the kind to break your own laws by dealing in bad faith.”

“Thank you.”

“Have you thought over my offer?” She made a slight gesture with her hand and one of the other goblins lounging around the edges of the room finally brought him a chair.

“I have, but I have a few questions first.” He took a breath and plunged ahead. “Did a dragon send you here? Your mother perhaps?”

She threw back her head and laughed. “Coming here was my idea; no one sent us. And I haven’t spoken to my mother in a very long time.”

“You don’t approve of her?” he asked hopefully.

“She doesn’t approve of me.” Her smile turned wry. “I assure you, your majesty, my companions work only for me and I work for no one. Isn’t that true, Karda?”

“She speaks the truth, your majesty.” Karda sounded as baffled as Dariad felt. Occassionally goblins didn’t have a draconic patron, but a group this large and cohesive? Still… No one could lie to a unicorn, so it had to be true. Didn’t it?

Alaryia sighed. “You still look worried, your majesty. I swear that no harm will come to you, your people, or your city if you accept, and you have much to gain if you do.”

“And if I refuse it?”

“I’m not going to threaten you, Dariad. Such a thing sours trade negotiations. But I will say this: I can sense Mabain. That’s how I knew it was here. I know you’ve been busy, but you really should be keeping an eye on that upwelling. I can feel it growing larger. If you don’t find a way to cap it soon, it’ll dissolve your entire city. The fumes are already filling the caves – which might partly explain your problem. You do know how mild Mabain exposure affects weaker-willed speakers, don’t you? And if it isn’t stopped soon, the exposure won’t just be mild anymore.”

Dariad managed not to gasp, but behind him his attendants made startled noises. He turned to Brita. “We need to institute a major vent immediately!”

“Yes, your majesty!” His chatelaine bowed and headed for the door. She paused and looked back. “I’m sorry, I should have thought to institute regular extra venting when it first appeared. It never occured to me it might do this.”

“It’s not your fault. There’s never been an upwelling like this before.” He paused. “You’d better move our guests as well. The humans will be fine, but I’m concerned about their heart friends and Eyvindr. They’re a bit close to the source here. In fact, we’d best clear the level totally. Can you find somewhere to accomodate them?”

Brita didn’t look happy but she nodded. “They won’t be as appropriate as their current accomodations, though. Should I move the ambassador’s people as well?”

“It’s probably not a bad idea.” He looked back at Alaryia. “I’d rather not have to send anyone down here till the problem is resolved.” He frowned. “But I thought only dragons could sense Mabain that way.”

“It’s a rare talent among goblins, but not unknown,” she said. “And I think you’ll find the humans can too, though they may not know what it is they are sensing.”

“Yes, I suppose they would. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and check on the state of the upwelling. It’s not that I don’t believe you, but I need to ascertain the size of the problem.”

“Let me come with you,” she said.

“What? Why?”

“I can get closer than you and I need to check how badly it’s undermining the mountain. I’m sure you’ll have to accept my offer – this mess is beyond your ability to handle. I want to ascertain what equipment I need to stabilise it.”

He looked at her for a moment and then nodded and turned to Hreid. “You’re with me as well. Let’s go.”

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