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.’
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.