Previously: Blackie had flown off to wake the zlurp. Nadec and Wyny discovered a piece of an ancient statue, which had been thought of as a myth. Nadec’s halberd reacts to the statue, making for another confirmation of what the zlurps had said about Nadec. Was she really a princess? Read all the previous chapters here.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
With a rush of air, Blackie swooped down from above. She landed on top of the statue and began eating the grass. Nadec looked up at her, incredulity painted on her face.
‘She’s been gone for almost the whole day and just ignores us? I need to know what happened.’
Wyny glanced at her. ‘Well, you are the one who had sent her off in the first place, she is most likely quite hungry from the flight. It was a fairly large distance after all.’
Nadec grumbled. He was right. Partly. She hasn’t sent her off, she had suggested it and the dragon had agreed. Perhaps she disliked killing as much as Nadec did. Either way, she still wanted to know if anything special had happened. After discovering her true heritage—getting strong confirmation of the suspicion anyway, nothing has been vouched as certain yet—she’d sat down next to the statue to think. Kitty had taken residence on her lap. Wyny had sat next to her, in his own silent contemplation. He hadn’t said a word when she came back from testing the heat of the halberd’s blade. Perhaps he had realised when she needed to be left alone. He really was a good man. A little bit stiff at times, but that fit his ruler-trope-profile perfectly.
‘How do you think she would be able to tell you what she saw? It is not as if she can talk to us.’ He was looking up at the dragon, face contemplative and amazed at the same time. In a quieter, more thoughtful voice, he said: ‘It is still full of wonder, I never believed to some day meet a dragon. They are myths, as the statue of the originals is supposed to be.’ His head turned towards her. ‘If I was a storyteller, I would never want to leave your side, you appear to attract all the wonder and adventure to you.’
She grimaced a groan. The spark of an idea formed in her though. Perhaps she could find a writer some day to write down her adventures?
‘Will you be my Loial?’ She had meant it in jest, but of course he didn’t understand it. The flippant tone of her voice grew soft. ‘If it was up to me, I’d rather not have these adventures. I didn’t mind my life… before all of this started. Days can go by without thinking of my parents. But then there are the most random moments when the emptiness they left hits me like a… like a dragon running into me, but without losing consciousness.’
He opened his mouth and closed it again. Shuffling, he closed in and looked at her, his usual serious face made softer by his eyes. She’d never noticed it before, but they had a thin outer ring of golden yellow around the blue. Nadec could see something in them. Compassion. Curiosity. Guilt? Her thoughts straight away ridiculed herself. Bah, reading emotions in eyes is such goat shit, more chance of getting it wrong than right. What’s he trying to do though? She squinted at him sideways.
‘I understand you do not like talking about yourself. And I am not pressing you,’ he said that last bit hurriedly while holding up his hand. ‘But what happened? How did you become a… a red knight? Is there anything you can, or want to share?’ When she didn’t immediately answered, he added: ‘It is alright if you prefer not to say anything, Nadec.’
That was the first time he’d ever called her by her name. She shut her eyes for a moment. There were things she could tell him. Other things, she wasn’t allowed to say to anyone. Her employers were secretive, annoying as it is. Not that she had anyone to share things with ever since her ex disappeared—left her. She could trust Wyny. She did trust him. Opening her eyes, she let herself fall back and looked up. Blackie’s tail stuck out from the top of the statue, wagging like a dog. It was hypnotising, enough to distract her from what she was about to say.
‘My parents died.’ Her voice hitched up, but she focused on the wagging tail. It helped. ‘I suppose you already knew that. I moved out a year before it happened, to live with my boyfriend. Ex-boyfriend now of course, he left me not long after the funeral. Which never made much sense to me because they never got along with him and he always defended me. Actually, it was after a large argument with them about him that I moved out.’ She was rambling now. She didn’t care. It was the first time she told this to anyone. She never had many friends, the few she had, stopped being friends during her relationship with Frank. The story poured out. Kitty had moved from her lap to her tummy, in easy stroking distance.
‘Part of me still wants to believe he didn’t really leave me but something happened to him. Part of me never wanted to accept that my parents happened to be in the same airplane when it crashed. They went on business trips all the time, but almost never together. But… I suppose… They weren’t business trip after all. They were skipping back here, to rule their kingdom. Right?’ She sighed, not giving Wyny chance to reply. It wasn’t a question meant to be answered anyway.
‘I didn’t even know them, why didn’t they ever tell me about all of this?’ She waved her arms randomly to point out The Other Realm. ‘Didn’t they think I was good enough to be their heir? Was I a disappointment? Ugh. Well, so, everyone was gone. I was in a very bad place when I tripped on the sidewalk. I crawled towards a wall and just sat there until I should’ve been dehydrated from crying. No one stopped to ask if I was alright. I wasn’t, and I guess no one would’ve been able to help me anyway.’ She closed her eyes and was surprised to feel a tear roll down both of her temples.
‘Then suddenly, there was a rustling to my right. So obviously I looked towards it and got greeted with the smallest, frailest meow of all times. A tiny kitten wobbled towards me. He let me pick him up, and a baby purr started up straight away.’ As if he knew she was talking about him, Kitty began purring, the vibration soothing through her belly.
‘I wiped my eyes and took him to the nearest vet. They said he was probably about 5-6 weeks and wouldn’t have survived much longer if I hadn’t found him. The thing is, I wouldn’t have survived much longer if he hadn’t found me. We saved each other.’
She gave Kitty a cuddle—as well as she could while lying down—and opened her eyes, moving her head to look at Wyny.
‘I suppose I got a bit sidetracked, I’ll get to the red knight thing soon. But yeah, from that day on, Kitty and me have always been together. Except, I had to leave him behind too often to do my duties, after they’d recruited me. But I also didn’t want to put him in danger. Half a year ago I decided to train him anyway. So that’s where we’re at now. As for the red knight stuff, four weeks after my parents passed away, a—’
The voice boomed in her head, loud enough to scare her upright. The flapping of massive bat-like wings couldn’t drown out the next sentence.
‘MUST, NADEC, YOU RUN. WYNY, LEAVE. KITTY, TAKE!’
Instinct kicked in. She picked up Kitty, grabbed her bundle, but stopped. Wyny looked at her in confusion. He hadn’t heard the voice. Why should she have to leave him, that didn’t make any sense?
Before she had time to process what that meant, the dragon’s feet—in a display of surprising dexterity—grabbed her around the waist. She lifted in the air, Wyny’s still confused face tipped back to follow her up.
‘No! Wyny, no! Please, Blackie, what are you doing? We can’t leave him! Oh no, who are those people? We have to help him, Blackie. Why?’