"Your what?" Lila turned around, surprised to see a rickety old man leading two cattle that Lila recognized, one of them one of their best. Hamon would have a fit. "Well, sir, Those are my cattle. You must give them back to me if you wish have Inha-. . .er, Rypfire back." What is an Inhar? Is it his true name or suchlike? The baby dragon wimpered as she spoke to the old man.
The man shook his head. "You must give my Ripfire to me and leave. Now." the man growled. Lila shook her head and grabbed for the rope holding the two cattle. The man grabbed wrist, and shoved her to the ground. His image began to change as he did so. Lila gaped at what she saw:
A man who was more fit then her brother was and almost twice his age. His bare arms and half his face were covered in tattoos. His black hair, which was beginning to gray, was down to his shoulders and blew in the wind. He glared at her and pulled a medalion out of one of his many trouser pockets. "Rypfire, come!" he said.
Lila jumped up, startled by his voice. It was cold as ice, harder then stone. With a sudden anger, Lila grabbed the dagger that he had dropped and picked up the baby dragon, placing the dagger neatly at his throat. The man turned around. "What are you doing?" he demanded. "The medalion." she said.
He stepped closer, holding the medalion out at arms length. "Rypfire, come!" the dragon was unable to move. The man glared at her.
"Lila!" Hamon yelled, their neighbor Jack Bathen at his heels. Bathen gasped at what he saw. "Forest dweller. They practice evil magic, and raise dragon eggs! Don't let him get any closer! Lila!" the two men race forward, Bathen passing Hamon a sword as they went. "Jack, to the left!" Lila and Hamon called in unison. The forest dweller glared at them.
"The medalion!" Lila yelled, her voice growing on each syllable.
"My cattle!" Hamon exclaimed in surprise as Jack Bathen ran up behind the forest dweller, who immediately felt the point of a sword on the back of is neck.
"The Rypfire-food, and the power, you menace." he whispered. Jack Bathen knew much of the forest dwellers, and how they lived. He had been their prisoner for ten years.
Hamon hefted his own sword, and held out his hand. The medalion fell to the ground, and the rope around the cattle was in Hamon's hand, after a long pause. Bathen lowered his sword. "You will regret when you first knew me, slaves!" the forest dweller hissed, retreating into the forest. Jack immediately took hold of the baby dragon so that Hamon could embrace his sister.
What were you thinking!" Jack yelled at Lila. "You father would have killed you himself if he were still alive!" Hamon glared at his sister. "I know you are a compassionate person, Lila but rescuing a baby dragon! Do you know what will happen when word reaches the ruler of the forest dwellers? Death! I have been there, and I know what they will do. My brother his wife were lost! And my son! Do expect me to rejoice when you get yourself into these messes?"
"Well, what did you expect me to do?" Lila yelled back. "Let him have Inhar and two of our best cattle, I'm sure! He probably would have taken me as well! Had I not done what I did, I could have been dead by now, or worse! Do you take me for a fool, Jack Bathen?" "What I expect you to do is return the dragon and hope you don't get killed!"
Hamon sighed. "Jack, perhaps we could-"
"NO!" Jack and Lila both yelled. Now Hamon was upset. "It is not her fault that the creature found its' way here!" Hamon hardly raised his voice, even to his sister. He stopped, and calmed down a little, "That aside, it is too late. If we returned the dragon and the medalion now, we would all be killed. This, this-"
"Inhar." Lila supplied.
"This Inhar is not safe here, and neither are we. Take your wife and Arya away from here, and we will take the creature to a safe place."
"Did you give the dragon this name?" Jack asked Lila, ignoring Hamon's solution. The two siblings were taken aback.
Lila shook her head. Jack sighed, pressing his fingers against his temple, as if he had a headache. "Then it is as I feared." Elaine Bathen entered the room with their daughter, Arya behind her, holding a pile of maps. "Thank you, love. Perhaps we could have something to drink?" Elaine nodded. Arya lingered, but was pulled out of the room by her mother.
"Here is what we must do." Jack said, spreading our the first map.