‘It should keep the animals out.’ Zanar opens the cylinder that’s been storing water. ‘And about half of the monsters,’
‘Monsters?’ I say. ‘You didn’t tell me there were monsters.’
‘I’m telling you now.’ He pulls out a set of hexes and starts setting them around our camp. ‘This should keep out the birds and the sloth, and we’ve camouflaged to hide for Basindons.’
‘What about Bandergogs?’
Zanar shrugs. ‘No one’s ever been able to study a Bandergog, so I don’t know. They’re attracted to magic, so I’ve put an external damper on, but there’s no guarantee it will work.’
‘So, we could get attacked by 3 sword length high creatures who spend most of their time invisible and have arms strong enough to rip a dragon’s head off?’
‘Only a small dragon.’
‘Well yes, it is a possibility,’ he admits. ‘That’s why I thought I’d stay awake. You said you wanted to sleep.’
‘I’ve changed my mind.’
‘You’re awake.’ The dragon tilts her head and considers me out of one black eye. She has a face shaped like a gemstone coated in silver, with delicate nostrils and laid-back ears. ‘I should tell Dad. He wanted to know when you woke up.’
Continuing the story of the dragons of Meldin is the silver-black, the spawn of two entirely dissimilar species ...
In Meldin's great city, the sewer's are paved and maintained ...
‘You can go out this way.’ Elouise lifts her head up to touch a flower made from lizard’s-eye. There’s an almost inaudible chime and the panel surrounding it slides open. Inside is a tunnel, about half the size of death, it’s walls patterned with coloured tiles and it’s floor the same cinnamon and sand cobblestones as the street above us.
Her shoulders and wings move in a shrug. ‘It’s the sword-side sewer,’ she says. ‘It comes out on Ibbot street.’
‘This is a sewer?’ The tunnel smells of cinnamon and cloves with a hint of darkflower and the decorations wouldn’t be out of place in a palace. ‘It doesn’t look like any cesspit I’ve ever seen.’
Elouise raises ridged eyebrows. ‘It’s a Middle Yaramite sewer,’ she says and over her wolf-song voice I can hear the affected middle city vowels. ‘Not a lower Yarum cesspool.’
I suppose it’s an understandable mistake but I’m still offended at their lack of basic knowledge. True, the peasants find me in an undead cavern, covered in blood and carrying a corpse but that doesn’t prove I’m a vampire. I could be an innocent victim. After all, the liquid substance dripping from my mouth is the result of a bitten lip. And the blood staining my flesh comes not from Alexis’ dead body but from the shallow slashes across my arm.
The ones I used to summon the demons.
So I’m not an innocent victim.
There’s a dragon watching me when I wake up.
And I know that shouldn’t surprise me. Not on Meldin with its fairy-tale castles and laser canons. Not on a world where the sun rises and sets on a circling horizon and shadows only happen at noon. Since coming here I have run from spirit-tipped arrows and travelled in lifts made of light and air and the bones of the dead and a single dragon shouldn’t make me question my sanity. After all, my father told me—as we crawled through a tunnel of shadows towards this world he claimed was my own—that Meldin had four different types of dragons. (Five if you counted his half-brother Myrann.)
It’s just that I’d collapsed in Yarum. And Meldin’s largest city, with over two million people, wasn’t where I expect to see my first dragon.
Indoors. Eating an ice-cream.
I watch this mythical creature—the unnatural union of hunting-cat and lizard: all silver-black scales and deadly menace—scoop out another mouthful of berry-red cream with an elongated tongue that is slowly turning pink.
And it’s about then I wonder—again—if I am going insane.
© Catch Tilly, 2019