We regrouped at the hotel room to decide what to do. MiracleStar
paced across the room, back and forth, deep in thought. We stayed quiet, recognizing
the signs of a great mind at work.
"Alright," she finally said. "Nianso, I want
you to go find Stan. The rest of you, come with me. We're going to see what
we can find out."
I nodded and was soon out on the streets of
Sahkmet. It wasn't too hard to find Stan, rather, he found me. I saw him coming
and ducked into an alley. He followed.
"So, the fair lady escapes her brothers," he
said with a smile.
"Jaix was captured by the palace guards," I
He blinked at me in surprise.
"Oh. That's not good."
"Taffin went ahead and did your stupid quest
and Jaix got captured. He's been blamed for an assassination attempt now, although
the real culprit is a fire Gelert. We need to find him."
Stan looked at me and then at the ground, absently
twisting the corner of his vest.
"Stan?" I prodded.
"I - I can't help you."
"I can't help you."
"Well, why not!?" I screeched.
"Er. Well. There's a guild here in the Lost
Desert… a very powerful one…"
"It's the assassin's guild. I'd rather not wind
up on their bad side."
I felt cold. Not physically, but cold inside.
It was as if my vision had narrowed to a single tunnel, in which only Stan mattered.
Only Stan was there. And inside I was dead.
"Jaix will die if you do not help us," I said.
"I thought you were quite a gentlemen. I thought
you were kind and dashing. I was wrong," I hissed, "You are nothing. You are
the scum of the earth, a cowardly insignificant creature not worthy of my or
anyone else's attention. Coward. Liar."
"Nianso! I want to help… but…"
"But!" I spat, "If you wanted to help, you would!
You wouldn't hide behind excuses. I'm not going to hide. I'm a Dragon Thief.
I'm going to save my brother and you can just rot!"
I turned and stalked away, the weight of the
earrings tugging at my ears. I stopped and angrily unclasped them.
"These are yours," I said coldly, and threw
them at his feet.
I could feel the holes in my ears stinging as
I stormed into the hotel. MiracleStar watched me stalk across the room and throw
myself onto the bed. She came over quietly and stroked my fur.
"I'm sorry," was all she said.
Skyil padded over and gently held a cool washcloth
to my ears. I winced, finally feeling the true pain of pulling the earrings
out too early.
"You want to keep them pierced?" MiracleStar
"Yeah, I do."
She nodded and rose, walking over to the mirror.
She was quiet for a while, then returned holding two gold hoop earrings from
her own ears.
"These were given to me by my mother," she said
softly, putting them in my ears, "They were for my sixteenth birthday."
I stood and walked over to the mirror. The washcloth
Skyil held was dotted with pinpoints of red. The earrings I now wore similar
to the snake earrings but with one major difference. They were dragons, the
wings folded closely.
"We're family," MiracleStar said, "and we've
got to do this ourselves. I have an idea but we're going to have to split up
to make it work. Skyil and I will remain here and see what we can do. Skyil,
you are not to read anyone's mind unless I specifically tell you to. This applies
to the rest of our stay in the Lost Desert. Now, Taffin and you shall head to
"Meridell? Why there?"
"I have -- contacts -- there that might be of
use. Take this to the BlackBury Inn," she directed, handing me a small pendant
of a skull, "Give it to the innkeeper. He'll direct you from there."
I took the pendant and once again wondered what
kind of life MiracleStar had led before us.
It took all morning to fly over to Meridell.
We were able to find the BlackBury Inn quite easily, just a couple questions
in the right place. The innkeeper was a rather fat blue Quiggle. He was behind
the counter, polishing glasses. I silently walked up and lay the pendant on
the counter. He took one glance and then placed my palm over it.
"Need a room?" he said rather loudly, "alright
then, follow me on up."
I nodded and Taffin and I followed him up the
"Right in here," he said, dropping his voice
to a whisper, "You're in luck today, one of the best is staying at my inn for
a couple days. She leaves tomorrow."
He knocked politely and the door opened a crack
to reveal a angular red Zafara's face.
"What is it?" she asked sharply.
I held up the pendant. She nodded and opened
the door the rest of the way. I slipped in with Taffin right behind. The red
Zafara wore a dark brown tunic with a couple daggers at her belt. I imagined
she carried quite a few hidden away in the same manner as my owner. Her expression
was quite solemn and there was a matching skull pendant at her throat.
"I'm Zarrel. Zarrel Charmain. You were seeking
one of my kind?"
I hesitated, not sure what to say. MiracleStar
had thrown us into this with nothing to go by.
"Erm, well, we were sent here by our owner,"
I said, "She told us to show this pendant to the owner of this inn."
I opened my paw to reveal the pendant. Zarrel
nodded and looked us both over carefully.
"You're armed with daggers," she said, "Where'd
you get them?"
"Our owner taught us how to use them."
She dropped her paw and drew her dagger in a
"Kiko snot!" I exclaimed as she lunged towards
I drew my own dagger and parried. There was
a pop as Taffin teleported away to give me more room to maneuver. I drew my
other dagger and fought with both paws, Zarrel sticking with just one. I ducked
low and drove in towards her stomach with my right and slashed for her calf
with the left. She back flipped out of my reach and sheathed her dagger. The
whole fight has lasted only seconds.
"Just as I thought," she said smugly.
"What the heck was that for?!" I spat.
"Testing. There's only one human I know that
fights with daggers like that. And how is Kristen these days?"
I gaped at her for a few minutes.
"Um, she's fine," Taffin finally said, scratching
his ear nervously, "How do you know her?"
"Oh… so she hasn't told you?"
"Told us what?"
She sighed and seated herself on the room's
"If she hasn't told you… and you're her pets…
then I doubt it is my place to explain. But she sent you to me for help, I presume?"
She nodded curtly and rose, gathering up some
things into a backpack.
"Then I'd best help. Grab my cloak, will you…
ah, I never got your name."
"I'm Nianso DreamWish," I replied, handing her
the cloak that was lying on the bed, "and this is my brother, Taffin StarJumper."
"Pleased to meet you. Where is Kristen?"
"Ah, she goes by MiracleStar now. And she's
in the Lost Desert. We'll fly you there, if that's okay…"
Zarrel seemed to hesitate for a moment, and
"Alright. I can be away for a few days… Dorono…"
She shrugged and led the way out the door. I
looked at Taffin with a bewildered expression.
"Why is it that total strangers know more about
our owner than we do?" I asked.
"Are you coming!" the red Zafara called from
I did not enjoy flying Zarrel back to the desert.
Even with Taffin helping, she was extremely heavy for a long flight. I spent
most of the trip doing my best to find thermals and letting myself glide. Zarrel
didn't seem to enjoy the flight either, having to hang on to both of us for
the entire trip. When we finally landed in the outskirts of Sahkmet at sundown
her mood had distinctly soured.
"Com'n then, lead the way," she snapped.
I bristled but started towards the inn. Stan
stopped us halfway there.
"Nianso," he pleaded, "I'm sorry…"
Zarrel looked at him with disgust.
"A thief. A worthless one at that."
His eyes flashed dangerously and Zarrel sniffed
"But… Nianso!" Stan persisted, "Please, you've
got to understand - "
"Leave me alone!" I snapped.
I was about to continue but Taffin cleared his
throat and stepped between us.
"Excuse me Stan, but when a girl says to go
away, that means you leave," he said in a friendly tone, "Now, since this particular
girl is my sister and you seem unable to grasp that concept, I feel it necessary
"Aww, the little Kyrii is defending his sister,"
Stan sneered, "Get outta my face, you miserable excuse for a thief."
Taffin didn't reply but his glaive suddenly
appeared in his hand. Stan's eyes grew quite wide. There was a blur of black
fur and fire and then Stan collapsed to the ground, his eyes crossed before
sliding shut. Taffin grinned and shouldered his glaive.
"Much better. He'll wake up in the morning."
To be continued...