By the Fireside

Novia introduced them all while Aidian stood by stony faced. 

"Why are you not with your kin?" Honora asked as they set off together. 

"Ah young one, it is a long story," Amina sighed, "But we have a long way to go and you must know what is it be my past, present and future. 

"Millennia ago I was once I maid at the Palace of Rae, employed by King Tharry and Queen Liliana Rae. I tended to Prince Nethian, their son, before he was exiled, but I assume you know that-"

"Nay, Amina, we do not." Novia frowned at her inadequate knowledge.

"Oh. 'Tis a dark cloud upon the past of my race, not that it has gotten any lighter since we departed but it wreaked havoc all the same. In a fit of passion, King Tharry exiled his son and only heir to the thrown, Prince Nethian, for his liberal views which he frequently acted upon and his...adventures...with a scullery maid. Once he was gone, I was disbanded. 

"I left Rae and entered the human world. Few of my kin had done so before as the stries we were spun do not depict you glorious humans in the best of lights. I suspect that is a factor that influenced Queen Liliana's decision to join Anthirad, for you see King Tharry jumped upon his own sword after Prince Nethian left, such was his shame. From the stories I have glimmered, Queen Liliana listens to no one; if there is a problem then she will simply ignore it. Rae is falling, human friends. And falling fast. We once held our esteem equally to the elves and merfolk of the other lands, now we must reside only in our homeland for we are not welcome elsewhere.

"The only way to stop Queen Liliana and stifle her vengeful rampage on the human world is to find Prince Nethian, if he is even alive, and return him to his home. But for this I need your help." 

"But what can we do?" Ash frowned. 

"To find him, one must have a greater need for him that to simply love him. He is said to be the most beautiful Lunar Essence that has ever roamed Rae," Amina paused, losing herself in a memory, "That is why I need you."

"Very well, where are we going?"

"Pointing Peak, the three large mountains on the outskirts of this land," At the look of dismay upon their faces, she smiled, "Don't fret, they are many, many leagues away and I am not expecting us to arrive on horseback. We have dragons. You are the first outsiders to know of dragons, so you must swear to me that you will keep the secret."

"Of course we will." Novia agreed, though she did not wholeheartedly find herself convinced by Amina's words. 

"When?" Honora's voice rose in anticipation.

"Soon, young one. They will be here by the sunrise. Thus I suggest we set up camp by the edge of the woods not far from here."

"Very well." Ash mounted his horse and led the procession westward. 

Aidian held back, still expecting the attack that would not come. This, Amina noticed but chose to let him wallow in his insecurity since there was nothing she could say to convince him otherwise. Irked, Novia glanced backwards at him and warned with her eyes. The one problem with Novia, thought Aidian, was that she was too willing to trust others who should not be trusted. 

They reached the woods soon enough and Aidian went off to hunt for food while Ash and Novia started a fire. Cursing at the damp wood, Ash turned to Amina for help. She put her fingers against one of the sticks and a flame began ti burn brightly. 

"What are the dragons like?" Honora asked, eagerly crawling beside Amina who sat stirring the growing embers.

"Vast, winged creatures of great beauty," Captivated by the eyes of the young one before her, she let her imagination flow, "Capable of soaring from my homeland to here in a few hours, and that is a hundred odd leagues." Honora gasped, not realising just how large the land was. 

An hour later, Aidian entered their camp with a few rabbits in his hands which he threw to his sister who began to mechanically skin the creatures. 

"Take care not to fill her impressionable mind with lies." Aidian hissed at Amina and sat between her and Honora. 

"Forgive me, friend."

"Friend to you I am none!" He lowered his voice, knowing his companions did not share his viewpoint. 

"As you wish."



The End

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