Quick reminder: This is basically a rough draft and only temporarily available to read online. Once the book is complete, it will be revised, professionally edited, and then published on Amazon. For more details about the blog book, or to read the story from the beginning, check out the book’s main page.
Chapter Nineteen, Scene Two
“Sea dragons are attacking ships?” Tarith muses as he sits back on his great hind legs like an oversized, and rather scaly, cat. “Did you hear anything of this while you were away, Lionel?”
“I did,” he answers, stretching out on the grass near the dragon. “Though we avoided people as much as possible.”
I sit near Lionel, cross-legged, running my fingers along a blade of new grass I plucked from the ground. “The fairies think it’s either the work of dark magic…or borrowed magic.”
The dragon narrows his golden eyes. “Borrowed?”
“That’s what Eron said.”
“Borrowed,” the dragon says again, shaking his head. “Vile business. There’s only one race I know of who employs such a thing.”
“Who?” I ask, leaning forward, eager to hear the dragon might know something of it. And of course he does—Tarith knows everything.
“The merpeople,” he says.
I frown as I ponder his answer. The ocean shifters are reclusive, some even say shy. Little is known about them compared to the other shifters.
“Why would the merpeople wish to attack Triblue’s ships?” Lionel asks. “What could their motive be?”
Tarith doesn’t answer. Instead, he stays quiet, thinking. Knowing its neither wise nor practical to press the great dragon, we wait somewhat patiently for him to collect his thoughts.
Finally, he says, “Why don’t you ask them?”
I blink at him. “You want us to talk to the merpeople?”
He might as well request we have tea with a unicorn.
“One resides in the village,” Tarith answers. “Perhaps she can shed light on the strange situation.”
“There’s not a—” I come to a dead stop, and my mouth falls open. “Are you saying the tanner’s wife is truly a mermaid?”
Lionel is already standing. “We’ll speak to her.”
“It is our duty to put a stop to this,” Tarith says gravely. “Though the dragons of the sea are likely not acting of their own free will, this is a breach in the Dragon Treaty. If it cannot be proven that our brothers were spelled, this could lead to another war.”
And though the spring sun is warm, I go as cold as ice.
“You will act as our ambassador in this matter,” Tarith says, turning his eyes on Lionel. “You will accompany me to Triblue, and you will speak with their new king.”
Lionel’s face goes white, and he begins to shake his head.
“You are ready,” Tarith says gently. “You are not the man you were when we adopted you into our flight.”
“They think I’m dead,” Lionel argues. “I’d prefer to keep it that way.”
“Tarith, no,” I beg, fear striking my heart for an entirely different reason. He can’t ask Lionel to visit his old life. He can’t.
What if he doesn’t come back?
Tarith turns to me. “These are his people, Genevieve. Who better to speak with them than Lionel?”
“I’m going with you,” I say.
Lionel turns to me, looking far too concerned for my liking. “Nobles from across Elden gathered for Bran’s coronation, and it’s likely many are still there. If you come to Triblue…you might see your family.”
Painful as that might be, it’s better than sending Lionel alone.
“I’m going,” I say stubbornly.
Lionel’s eyes search mine, and then he nods.
“Before we leave, speak with the mermaid,” Tarith says. “See if she has any idea why her people would wish to attack Triblue.”
Nodding, I turn away. Together, Lionel and I begin down the path that leads into the woods, and eventually, Dragon Ridge.
“Genevieve,” Tarith says, calling me back.
Leaving Lionel, I reluctantly return to the dragon’s side. I look at the ground, unable to meet his eyes.
“You are angry with me.”
Briefly, I glance up, but I don’t answer.
“Lionel is the rightful heir of Vernow, Genevieve. He can’t live his entire life in a cavern.” He pauses. “And neither can you.”
Startled, I finally meet his golden gaze.
“It will all work out,” he says solemnly.
Taking a deep breath, I nod and turn back to the path.
I wish I were as confident as the dragon.