White Dragon by Sarah Jestin

EXTRACT FOR
White Dragon

(Sarah Jestin)


White Dragon

Chapter 1

 

The door slammed in Leena’s face. The tall girl shook her head with a sigh.

“So? Do we have a place to sleep?” asked Meeryle.

Leena shrugged. “We can use the barn. Well, I think that’s what she said. She was so busy deciding whether to faint or simply shake with fear that she chewed her words.”

“The barn it is, then,” said Meeryle. “It’s better than sleeping in the open. Besides, it looks like it’s going to rain. I’d rather be dry in the hay than wet in the forest.”

“Not rain, Meeryle, more like snow,” replied Leena with a shudder. “Don’t forget, we’ve been heading north and I think we’re far enough for winters to be white rather than muddy like the ones we’re used to.”

The chubby girl frowned, looking at the clouds. “Are you sure? This looks like rain to me. What do you think, Tikid?”

Tikid inhaled and shook her huge head. As usual, the dragon responded directly in the girls’ heads, using mindspeech. “Snow is cold. Let us see if the barn still has live earth. I am tired and I need to replenish.” She headed for the barn, wings drooping.

“She didn’t answer my question. Leena, we have to teach her to answer questions properly.”

The tall girl smiled. “I thought you’d be used to these answers by now, Meeryle. Come on, Tikid’s right. If it does snow, it’ll be cold. We need to start a fire.”

Meeryle’s face paled and she bit her lips. “You start it; I’ll get the dry fruits and the bread ready.”

Leena’s heart sank at the fear on her friend’s face. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get Meeryle near a fire. It hurt to see her best friend afraid of the very thing she used to treasure. Meeryle was a Mage who had lost control of her power, and in doing so, burned down their village’s barn and all of its contents, almost killing herself in the process. Since then, Meeryle had refused to use her gift for fear that she might once again lose control of it and harm, if not kill, someone.

Meeryle didn’t just avoid fire, she no longer wanted anything to do with things linked to the element. As a result, the most celebrated cook in their village didn’t prepare hot meals any longer. She could still make dried fruit and bread taste good, but she didn’t use her talent to its fullest. Mealtime was reduced to the barest minimum; Leena had to prepare soup or hot items. Meeryle would only eat those away from the fire. The only positive outcome was Meeryle’s decreasing girth. Between the much leaner meals and the constant walking, the Mage had gone from big to chubby. Another few months and Meeryle would probably be a normal size for her soon-to-be eighteen years and her short height.

Leena entered the barn, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Evening was already upon them, and the clouds, heavy with snow, didn’t help matters. The tall girl took out her small lantern, lit it with the flint and frowned at what she saw. The barn was old and empty, the owner using it to store forgotten objects and garbage that might be useful one day, not grain or hay. The gray sky could be seen through the ceiling in some places.

“Well, let’s find the driest spot in here, shall we? I’m surprised this place is still standing.”

The earth here is useless to me. I will need to go back into the forest for a little while before I sleep,” said the disappointed dragon.

“From what I understand, the closer we’ll get to the city, the worse things will get.” This farm was a bit of a surprise, really. Since they had decided to take the short route over the mountains to Sharitown, they had met very few dwellings once they had been clear of the forest. The land was rather dry, giving little hope of wielding any crops. The rocky mountains ahead were not a welcoming sight, but they might offer better sustenance for the dragon than the desiccated fields surrounding them.

“Go before it gets completely dark. I’ll get a fire going and we’ll eat before you get back.”

Thank you. I do not like the smell of live dead things cooking,” replied the dragon with a disgusted sniff.

Leena smiled. The only smell Tikid liked was that of Meeryle’s sweetcakes. Anything else offended her senses. Dragons didn’t eat; they imbued themselves with the essence of their environment. Tikid was a Green; she needed the essence of the trees in particular and of plants in general. As earth was crucial to plants, she could also use its essence, but it had to be ‘alive’, full of minerals and other nutrients. It seemed humans had a tendency to drain the earth of its essence, forcing Tikid to fly into the forest and rest there for a few candlemarks, replenishing her energy. She always came back to sleep with her human friends, and had become a heat source for Meeryle. Since the young Mage refused to warm herself beside the fire, she cuddled Tikid and slept against the big creature, holding the fourth member of the traveling group, Suqi.

Leena still didn’t know what to make of the fox-like creature. Suqi was a goupil, the traditional Mage’s familiar. Leena could no longer think of the creature as an animal. The goupil could mindspeak, just like Tikid, so she had to be considered a person. Suqi would only speak with Meeryle and sometimes Tikid, but never with Leena, which irked her to no end. She had much to discuss with the goupil, in particular her ability to lick a wound and Heal it. However, Meeryle had relayed the firm message that Suqi’s Healing gift was none of Leena’s business. Insulted, the girl had decided to ignore the creature, at least for the moment.

Leena prepared the fire and heated the remnants of the soup. She considered their dwindling supplies and sighed. Life was not easy. While they had managed to gather a few coins, money was of no use in the villages scattered in the forest. Trade was the currency both within and between the small communities, so buying food had at times been difficult, especially of late. As they slowly made their way out of the forest and into the mountains, villages were far and between, isolated enough to rarely have visitors, let alone accept coins for goods. Since neither of the girls could offer freshly killed game – they weren’t hunters – or fabric, they had to find another solution.

Meeryle did have an idea and for some reason, Leena wasn’t comfortable with it. Meeryle had proposed that Leena offer her services as a Healer, but not for people. The village Healer, Corvin, had given Leena her gold-and-green scarf marking her a Healer in her own right, but to make it completely official – and in some areas, legal – Leena had to register with the Healer’s Guild. In the meantime, Corvin had told her to limit her Healings to very desperate cases only. Some new Healers who hadn’t been sanctioned by the Guild had met with mistrust when offering services. Leena didn’t want to take the chance. She was much too young to be a Healer and she knew it. No, Meeryle had suggested that Leena offer her Healing services for animals in order to pay their way to Sharitown.

Tikid had jumped with joy at the idea. Since dragons spoke with animals, she could ask the cattle or the horses where they hurt or if they felt sick, then relay the message to Leena. The solution was simple and elegant, but it didn’t have the success Meeryle had hoped. In order for Tikid to speak with the livestock, she had to show herself. Since the group’s goal was to introduce dragons to the human population, they had hoped they could combine the offer for services with the presentation of the eager young dragon, but so far, they had been met with mistrust and fear – and very few farms. Who in their right mind would let a creature as big as the dragon near their animals?

Looking at the near-empty bag of food, Leena was now wishing people weren’t so mistrustful. The thought was unfair, as she was herself still intimidated by the large dragons. But now that they probably wouldn’t see another settlement before they reached Sharitown itself, Leena wasn’t so inclined to be charitable. They already had to ration their food, trying to use whatever could be gathered – which was thankfully a skill they had both developed while they were very young.

The first villages who had welcomed them had been close enough to theirs to have heard about the dragons, so had they been in need, they would have certainly allowed Tikid to speak with their animals and Leena to Heal them. However, the livestock had been quite healthy, so Leena’s skill hadn’t been required, much to her relief. However, the further away they traveled, the less they were made welcome. Offering Healing services for the cattle had been out of the question, so Leena hadn’t have to use her gift at all, on people or animals, for which she was thankful.

Why was she so hesitant to Heal animals? Her pride, that’s what it was. Her worst and best quality, Jetyaa always said. Leena missed her stepmother. The quiet woman always knew how to guide Leena in the right direction. Where Parin, Leena’s father, would yell or order, Jetyaa would suggest or guide. She had given the girls and the dragon the best advice she could to prepare them for their journey and Leena wished she had come along with them.

But Jetyaa couldn’t leave, so Leena hadn’t asked. Her stepmother was one of the best hunters and the small, isolated village depended on the hunters to survive the winter. The farmers could only do so much and in the humid winter, grain could rot. No, Leena was walking her own path now.

When she was seven, Parin had told Leena that Jetyaa would now be her mother. He had never spoken of Leena’s real mother again. She didn’t know if her mother had died or if she had decided to walk her own path, without Parin. Leena almost wanted the former to be true, as she didn’t want to think her mother would have left without her. The thought was old and Leena shook her head to stop brooding on it. Eleven years later, she still wasn’t sure how she felt about her mother.

All she could remember were the woman’s large and green eyes, and her name. Otherwise, her mother was but a ghost. Leena had asked herself if she missed her. Her relationship with Jetyaa was healthy; the woman had never tried to replace Leena’s mother. In a way, they had become friends. Watching Meeryle and her mother, who could smother her children with too much attention, Leena had decided that she didn’t miss the woman who had given birth to her. Jetyaa had been everything she needed, for both Leena and Parin.

What Leena missed were siblings. She always envied her peers, even the pointless bickering. Where they saw an annoying boy or girl following them around, Leena saw a companion, who could become in turn a partner-in-crime or a shoulder on which to cry. Even the families where sibling rivalry became out of hand seemed richer to Leena. The traveling hadn’t helped either. Only once Parin and Jetyaa had settled had Leena been able to form a lasting friendship akin to that of a sibling’s. She had never told her, but Leena considered Meeryle a sister.

She smiled briefly and thought that Tikid might be put in that same category. The young dragon, although of similar age in years, was certainly not as mature as Leena and Meeryle. The tall girl had taken to thinking of Tikid as a younger companion, maybe even a younger sister. The dragon was enthusiastic about anything human, yet naďve in so many ways. Leena had started to wonder if Tikid wasn’t too young to travel with them.

But the Great One of the Greens had been adamant. He had told Tikid to show her new-found skill. Leena frowned at the thought. Tikid had been extremely vague about the conversation with the great dragon. After all these weeks, she was still hesitant in sharing her experience with her human friends. Yet, as time went by, Leena deemed it more and more important that they learn the young dragon’s exact mission. For mission it was; she couldn’t think of another word. She decided to ask Tikid about it when she came back. The closer they got to Sharitown, the harder things would become. They needed to know beforehand where Tikid’s mission was to take them. Meeryle was to get training for her gift and Leena was to register with the Healer’s guild. If Tikid needed to go elsewhere, they all had to know and plan accordingly.

Meeryle came in the barn, arms overflowing with food.

“Where did all this come from?” asked Leena with a huge smile.

“Suqi found a tree and a bush still bearing fruit. They’re a bit wrinkled, but she said they’d still taste fine.”

“She did, did she?” Leena made a face. It was silly, but anything Suqi did right annoyed her. “Well, I guess we can really use something fresh. The soup’s ready. Tikid’s gone to ‘feed’, so we better hurry and finish before she’s back.”

Meeryle busied herself cleaning and cutting the fruits. She handed Leena her share and took her own bowl of soup. The young Mage sat and slurped her soup, eyes closed with bliss. “This is so good, Leena. I hadn’t realized how hungry and cold I was.”

Leena smiled. Meeryle was indeed cold: she sat much closer to the fire than she usually did. The tall girl didn’t say anything. She wanted her friend to get over her fear of fire. Winter would undoubtedly help.

The soup having taken the edge of her hunger off, Meeryle looked expectantly at Leena. “So, what do you think of the fruits? With a bit of time, I bet I can get them in an amazing salad. I’m sure I can find mint here.”

The young Healer shook her head in amazement. No matter what the situation, Meeryle always found a way to think about food. Leena had always envied Meeryle’s capability to make out the best in any given situation. Leena wasn’t so easy going. She had been fretting over their traveling, whereas Meeryle had just taken in stride, as if she was expecting problems to simply solve themselves. In a way, they sometimes did. For all her physically poor shape, Meeryle had never complained since they left. She just mentioned when she needed to rest, and when she was ready to set out again. She never made it an order or an expectation, but simply a statement. Leena had never felt annoyed by her friend’s lack of endurance, all thanks to her positive attitude.

“You know, Meeryle, I wish I could be like you.”

Meeryle stared at her in amazement. “What, you want to be short, fat and bald?”

“No, you silly,” said Leena with a laugh. “First off, you’re not that short. I’m just very tall. And you’re not as big as you were, either. Plus your hair is growing back nicely, you know.” Meeryle rubbed her short hair. While Leena and Tikid had been able to Heal the terrible burns on Meeryle’s body, they had not been able to restore her magnificent long and curly hair, so it was growing back at a regular pace. Meeryle’s head was now covered with a two-inch fluffy helmet that stuck out in all directions. “Just give it a few more months and you’ll be able to tie it back. No, what I meant is that you’re just… positive. You always find the good in everything and I wish I could stop thinking about everything that could go wrong for a change.”

“Well, I hope you don’t, because, otherwise, when something goes wrong, then we won’t be ready for it.”

“See? You just found something positive about my negative attitude!”

The two girls burst out laughing. Leena’s mood was lifted and they finished their meal exchanging jokes and pleasantries.

Tikid returned at full dark. When she entered the barn, the dragon was still glowing in a faint emerald color. Tikid was usually different shades of green, from dark forest green to a pale, almost yellow green. But when she infused herself with the essence of her environment, the young dragon would glow emerald and gold. She was truly beautiful.

Well, I think we will have to stop earlier if I am to fly back to the trees. Dragons do not fly well at night. I nearly bumped into the barn when landing.”

“You’re truly beautiful when you glow like this, Tikid.”

The young dragon looked at Meeryle, blinking in bewilderment at the comment. “But I am only one tone of green when I am imbued. How can you find only one shade of green beautiful?

“Well, you don’t understand the human standards of beauty, so it’s safe to say we don’t get the dragon ones.”

Leena smiled at the memory of Tikid’s description of Rokin. The dragon had found the handsome boy ugly due to his bulging muscles. It seemed Tikid liked her humans straight and soft. Meeryle and Tikid bantered on the ins and outs of human beauty versus dragon standards.

Leena tuned them out quickly. She had never enjoyed these endless fashion talks. Meeryle’s mother was a seamstress, so the plump girl had grown up appreciating a well-made garment, as well as its originality. Leena, however, didn’t see the point in even thinking how to enhance or even change one’s looks. She wasn’t very keen on her appearance, but she was who she was. She kept her straight brown hair long to keep her neck warm, as she felt cold intensely, even in the warm season. Her long and thin arms and legs were fit, without bulging in what Tikid called an unbalanced way, thanks to all the physical work she had done as a child and as an apprentice-Healer. Her body remained fairly shapeless, though. Her chest was almost flat and her hips were barely bigger than that of a boy’s. Her almond shaped eyes were a bit too big for her face, but according to Meeryle – and everyone else – they were her best feature. They were a deep green and once in a while, when she looked very closely in the mirror, Leena could see gold specks glittering in their very depths.

Leena was actually glad for her physical shape. Her narrow hips allowed her to wear breeches easily, and she didn’t attract attention. Clothes were a practical thing, and face paints, ribbons and jewelry, a nuisance. She found them frivolous and just plain boring. As a result, she set herself apart from the other girls in the village, who found her as boring as she found them. Meeryle was the only exception. Whatever it was, she saw something she liked in Leena’s seriousness. Leena still didn’t know exactly what it was, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know. She accepted Meeryle’s friendship unconditionally.

On the other hand, Leena found Meeryle’s positive attitude soothing and amusing. Her best friend could be very funny without ever being mean. That was her most endearing quality: Meeryle was nice to everyone, even to people who weren’t so kind to her.

Leena clenched her teeth at the memory of Teerane, the village bully, berating Meeryle. The plump girl would only shrug and turn away, whereas Leena would have torn the girl to pieces. Eventually, Leena’s cold stare had dampened Teerane’s enthusiasm and she had left Meeryle alone. Leena now finally understood why Meeryle was always so nice and turned away from confrontations. Some had said she lacked backbone; Leena knew for a fact that Meeryle had a very strong personality and quite a temper. She had learned very quickly to hide it, though, since every time Meeryle lost control of her temper, blinding headaches and nausea would incapacitate her. Anger fueled the fire of the Mage gift and made her sick.

Fire was the first manifestation of the Mage gift and the first element Mages learned to control, in particular to purge water of its deadly component. However, since no one had understood that Meeryle was a Mage, she hadn’t trained her gift. Instead, she instinctively used her affinity with fire to cook, as well as to burn small things to let her anger out. Unfortunately, at one point, Meeryle lost control of her anger and the gift took her over, nearly killing her. Nowadays, Meeryle kept her temper in extreme check. She didn’t seem spineless anymore, but calm and controlled.

Over the past few months, Leena had overcome her jealousy. She had wanted to be a Mage and been sorely disappointed when she had learned she had the Healing gift. She now cherished her gift, as it had allowed her to Heal Tikid’s wing. Granted, she had had help from Meeryle, but a Mage could never have Healed the shredded tissue.

Tikid’s rumbling laughter made Leena’s bones vibrate and brought her back to reality. Meeryle was wiping her eyes, catching her breath, and the dragon was hiccuping.

“Do I even want to know what was so funny?”

“It’s just something Suqi did,” answered Meeryle was a huge grin. “You had to see it.”

“Yes, well, I guess I missed it.” Leena looked down at the goupil. The fox-like creature was looking back at her, eyes full of mischief. She seemed to like annoying Leena. The young Healer cocked an eyebrow at Suqi, who barked joyfully and ran bouncily outside.

I wonder what the other dragons will make of her.”

“Why’s that?” asked Meeryle as she settled against the warm scales of her friend.

We know what goupils are, but only the Greens ever really see them. As we are heading north, I think we should meet Whites, and they certainly have not ever met a goupil. It is too cold where they live.

Leena took in a deep breath. “Tikid, you’ve been avoiding this, but now that you mention other dragons, will you finally tell us about your mission?”

The dragon harrumphed and turned her head, trying to evade the question. Meeryle came to the rescue and poked Tikid in the belly. “C’mon, out with it! What’s the big mystery? We’ll be with you, so we’re going to find out anyway. You might as well give us the details beforehand so we don’t end up making you look like an idiot.”

Tikid grunted and shifted, finally setting her head on her front paws and looked pointedly at the wall. “Well, I am not sure if I should. The Great One made it clear he did not trust humans.”

Leena threw up her hands. “Oh, please! If he doesn’t trust humans, then why let you come with us in the first place?”

Meeryle quelled Leena with a warning look. “Tikid, you know you can trust Leena and me. Whatever you tell us here, today, we promise not to talk about it to anyone else without your permission.”

The dragon made faces Leena would have found funny under other circumstances. Her reluctance was starting to grate on the girl’s nerves. They were a team; secrets should not be allowed.

Tikid made up her mind and resolutely sat on her haunches. “While you were recovering, Meeryle, I went back to my home. My sire had a message from the Great One; I was to fly and meet him.” She closed her eyes and projected feelings of happiness. “I do not know if you can understand how great an honor this was for me and my kindred.”

“Well, my guess is, this would be like meeting the King in the capital.”

“What King?”

“Oh, Meeryle, didn’t you listen in class?”

The big girl shook her head with a smile. “I usually phased out during history and geography. Too boring for me.”

“Never mind. Go on, Tikid. I think I understand.”

I had to fly for two days before I reached his mound. The Great One lives amongst the oldest and biggest trees of the world. It felt so… good to be there. I was really alive. For the first time in my life, I was almost too full of essence.” She stopped, lost in the memory. Leena’s loud sniff brought her back to reality. “Sorry. I think about that moment a lot. He was waiting for me in the middle of a clearing. I had never appreciated how big a Great One can be. I had only seen him through Rutad, so I was surprised by his height. He was taller than most trees here. And if you find me beautiful when I am imbued with the trees’ essence, Meeryle, then you would have found him amazing.” The dragon stopped, her eyes glazing dreamily. The girls smiled at each other, hearts warmed by their friend’s wonder.

Leena spoke softly; she didn’t want to spoil the dragon’s rare mood. “Can you describe him to us?”

I will try to show you. Look into my eyes, Leena.”

The tall girl obeyed. Meeryle had described to her once how she could lose herself into the dragon’s red eyes. Leena finally understood her friend. She was pulled in and fell into the red pools. Soon, pulsing green energy surrounded her and Tikid’s voice called. “Watch, Leena, look at the essence of the Greens…” Leena looked. As the green energy engulfed her, it changed, becoming lighter, until it was almost white. In the middle, Leena could make out a shape. It slowly became bigger, until it was clearly a dragon. Although she had no reference point, Leena knew that this dragon was huge; its head was as big as Tikid and its tail a long sinuous track that lost itself behind the great half-opened wings. The creature was pulsing with emerald and gold light. Its scales were never colored with the same range of greens like Tikid and her fellow dragons; this one remained a lighted emerald beacon in the middle of the forest.

The big head turned and great red eyes bore into Leena’s. They were filled with kindness, just like Rutad’s when he had been filled with the Great One’s essence. Leena knew that she was looking in the same eyes that had looked at them that day. She smiled. Seeing her pleasure, the big dragon nodded and said: “My name is Murod.”

Leena gasped. She blinked and broke the contact. She was now looking at Tikid, who was beaming with pride and happiness.

Did you see him? He taught me how to do that, you know. I did not know I could project my memories like that until I met him.”

“What? Can I see?” asked Meeryle impatiently. Tikid turned her head and Meeryle locked her eyes into the dragon’s. A few second later, she gasped and backed up. “Wow. This is… amazing. He’s beautiful, Tikid! He spoke to me.”

No, he was speaking to me. The image I showed you is the memory of when I met him the first time.”

Something nagged at Leena. “He said his name was Murod, not Murad. How come?”

The Great Ones are ods.”

Meeryle rolled her eyes. “That explains everything.”

“Meeryle, give it up. Tikid, you said males were ads and females were ids. So what’s an od?”

The Great Ones,” answered Tikid, puzzled.

The girls exchanged a look. The young dragon was an expert at giving cryptic answers. Over time, they had found out that Tikid was not good at giving explanations, particularly about things that were obvious to her.

Leena sighed and braced herself. “Tikid, bear in mind that humans don’t have any ‘great ones’, at least not like dragons. It doesn’t mean anything to us.”

The dragon snorted in frustration. “I do not know how to explain. Once a dragon has been chosen to become the Great One, he or she becomes an od.”

“And who picks a dragon for that?”

The Great One.”

Meeryle threw her hands up. “I give up!”

“I’m not. Tikid, what exactly does the Great One do?”

Each kind of dragon has one Great One, one od. That dragon is the receptacle of the essence of the Color he or she represents. If a Great One dies, another dragon must immediately take his or her place, otherwise, the Color no longer has its essence and all the dragons will die too.”

“And what is the actual process for this?” Leena was getting excited. She found anything about the dragons’ physiology fascinating.

I…” Tikid blinked in surprise. “I do not know. I think I am not old enough to have acquired this knowledge yet.”

“When were you going to find out?”

I am not sure. I am sure that eventually, one of the wise ones would have spoken about it. Such things are not often discussed.”

“Well, if you ask me, we’re getting away from the original question here,” interrupted Meeryle. “I don’t care how the Great One became an od, I want to know what he told you.”

Leena was briefly annoyed. To her, the subject was very interesting. She sighed, acknowledging that Meeryle was right. She would have plenty of time to question Tikid on the ins and outs of dragon biology while they were traveling. She nodded encouragingly to the dragon, who seemed hurt by Meeryle’s outburst.

Tikid blew air out of her nose and turned a haughty head to Leena. “Well, Leena, since you wanted to know…” She was interrupted by Meeryle, who hugged her.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you.” The girl looked up and smiled. “You still have to work on that expression, though.”

I did not fool you?” The dragon seemed disappointed. “I think you know me too well. Another human would have felt differently, I am sure.”

Leena took a sudden interest in the hem of her thick tunic. She wanted to hide her smile from Tikid. The dragon was trying very hard to mimic human expressions; all she managed were the stereotypes. The girls found her efforts hilarious, but since she was so eager to learn human ways, they never told her she would never fool anyone. Leena guessed her dragon friend would soon learn that the dragons’ range of expressions was very efficient and that she had no need to human substitute.

“All right, then, continue, will you?”

Well, it turns out that the way I fed you the essence of the Greens is a very special skill, Leena. And same thing for you, Meeryle. The fact that we can both give Leena power to Heal is a skill that has not been manifest for a long, long time. What the Great One wants me to do is simply to seek the Great Ones of the other Colors and show them how to do it.”

“Do what? Feed power to me?” Leena wasn’t sure if she liked the idea. She was a Healer, not an experiment. “I’m not sure it would work with anyone else but you and Meeryle. You’re my friends. I don’t know if I would accept to link myself so closely with anyone other than the both of you.”

That is what I said to the Great One. Meeryle fed you the power of the earth and I the essence of the trees. Both have something to do with growing. I do not know if another element or the essence of another Color would be compatible. He thought it was well worth the try. I also got the impression he thought it was time humans knew about dragons. I am not sure why, though, seeing as we have been forbidden to speak with humans for so long.

Leena and Meeryle were the first humans Tikid has encountered. At the time, she hadn’t been sure what they were. To Green dragons, humans were mythical creatures to be avoided. To humans, dragons were stuff of legend. Leena approved of the idea to introduce dragons to humans – after all, the Green dragons had only been beneficial to the villagers – but she found it disturbing that the leader of the Greens would have a hidden plan on that subject.

Meeryle cut her brooding short. “Well, I don’t think it matters. The important thing is that we’re together and that we’re all doing what seems right to us. Obviously, Tikid needs to meet with any dragon we come across. Since we want to meet new dragons, this is perfect. From what Tikid says, we probably will get to see White dragons. And then, we can go to Sharitown, introduce Tikid and show what she can do for crops. After that, we just need to find a Mage to take me in and the Healer’s Guild for you, Leena. See, it’s perfect!”

Maybe it was her constant negative attitude, but Leena couldn’t help finding Meeryle statement naďve. She shrugged and pushed the thought away. It was useless to worry about it right away. They were still far from Sharitown – or any other real town, for that matter. Tomorrow would be soon enough to start worrying.