Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two letters sent from Joven

Ken,                                        June 14th, 708CC
Friends and I are heading west in company of ex-traveling companion. I have message of some importance to bring to Rinos; once delivered, I shall seek you out. Have much I want to tell you and would like to introduce you to said group.

Still no word from R and am rather worried, hoping you have news.

See you in a week or so,

This first letter was tied to a bird and sent off about a day's travel away from Joven. On the outside it was addressed "Lieut Kendric Conroy, army barracks, Rinos". Short, but it'll get it where it needs to go, assuming the bird makes its way safely there. Kendric's fairly used to small animals showing up with things tied to their legs- comes from having Messengers as brothers. The note itself is short, as well; that's in case it gets waylaid. Cyn doesn't exactly want to advertise something like "Hey! The duke of Joven and us very famous and known adventurers are near!". He's smart enough... okay, paranoid enough to be vague.


This letter was sent north from Joven. Cyneric is from the south, but his parents have since relocated to the northern coast. This is quite to his liking, as it means he has an excuse for infrequent contact.

After spending my entire life avoiding what you tried to force me into, I've stumbled onto a path much like that anyway. Hope you are happy and thank you for leaving me so screwed up that I feel too guilty to enjoy it properly. You elitist snots can bite me.

... Where did THAT come from? He really needed to pay more attention to what he was writing as this clearly isn't what he wanted to say... although he'd sheepishly admit that getting those words out felt good. Crinkle that up and toss it into the waste basket. Try again with more tact.

I figured now would be wise to send you word as I am traveling through Joven and word would reach you quickly with the least amount of effort on the part of my brethren. No use asking one to travel far to where he won't be appreciated and likely will be thrown out on his arse as soon as he hands over this letter.
... Sigh. Crinkle that up, try once more. It's not like they'd actually do that. Probably. Possibly. Hopefully.

I am traveling through Joven and thought now would be a good time to contact you. As I've learned recently, word of the endeavors of my traveling companions and I has spread far, so I imagine you have an idea of what I have been experiencing, should you have cared to listen. Likely this is exaggerated, but perhaps now you will finally be pleased with your pacifistic, pariah son.
Crinkle crinkle, curse, grumble. One more try and if that doesn't work, he'll admit defeat and go back to pretending that his parents don't exist for a while.

I am traveling through Joven and, as I am relatively nearby, wanted to contact you. However, since it is west to Rinos my companions and I are headed, rather than north, a letter shall have to suffice. I hope that you and Mother are doing well and that the coast has proved an environment of comfort to the both of you.

Upon reaching Joven, I learned that news of my traveling party's exploits have reached great distances. I am not overly pleased with this, but I am going to assume that it means you've heard word of me, as well. Likely this has been exaggerated. However, yes, it means your clerical son has become an adventurer of some distinction. It is certainly not the path I wanted to end up on, but I am sure this is more to your liking than the thought of me toiling away in the backwaters, delivering mail from anyone who wandered into the mosque that day. I know you have always disliked that I entered into the priesthood (and this one in particular), so any amount of heroics is probably an improvement.

While in Rinos, I shall try to keep track of who is what and what is where because I know that sort of thing is of interest to you and Mother, but I have a feeling that Kendric is far better at relaying such news than I. Still, I will dutifully try to keep my eyes open.

We are setting out momentarily, so I must quickly seal this letter and ask one of my brethren to take care of it for me.

As I wrote above, I hope this finds you both well.
Your son,

Well, that'll have to do. It's unlikely his rather obtuse father would catch the contempt he felt, anyway, and this was about as civil as he could bring himself to sound. At least it appeared that he said all the right things, even if in actuality he'd either "forget" about that promise or give slightly wrong information, depending on what kind of mood he was in that day. Why did his family always have to be so difficult to deal with?

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Acolyte's Map - Story, Part 9

Banner art by Artmetica.
You can find the whole cover art here- the art is gorgeous!
There's also a mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

The Acolyte's Map, Part 9
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 10)

The dog returned a few moments later, dragging a reluctant Tomas forward by the hem of his robe. When Kerethiana greeted the man with a sniff to his chest, the reluctance turned to fear as his face went ashen, but he didn't faint as Raff had feared his friend might. When the dragon made no hostile move, Tomas' color returned and he looked over at Raff quizzically. "She likes your amber," the half-elf quietly explained.

Looking down, Tomas seemed to finally take notice of the draconic-caused stickiness now staining his robe and Raff had to chuckle at his grimace of revulsion. "Congrats. You've been slimed, too," the shorter cleric whispered with a grin, hoping that if Tomas was thinking about the disgusting dragon snot, he would forget about being frightened.

When the dragon moved her head back to glance between the two Messengers, Raff caught on to what she wanted before the wood elf could translate. "Tom, pull out the map so we can explain what we need done," the half-elf instructed.

As the younger priest obeyed, his hands not shaking too much as he pulled out the metal scroll case containing the horrible artifact, Raff tried to explain the situation to the wood elf. "If it's possible, we need her to destroy the parchment that's inside the case. Does she have a way to set it on fire or the like?"

Caledhrad exchanged a few words with the dragon, then nodded. Switching to Common so that Tomas would understand, he answered, "Burning tree sap she says with which she can hit it. Fire it would not be, but melt most of the item she believes it would." He listened to another silent comment from the dragon before adding, "And in thick resin she says the remains encased would be."

After figuring out what the elf was saying through the strange sentence structure, Raff and Tomas nodded. Seeing that they agreed, the dragon began walking away- or, rather, began crashing through the underbrush as she headed in the opposite direction. The wood elf explained before the priests could question this action, "Set the woods on fire she does not want to do. An impervious spot she knows of which lead us to she will."

Raff shrugged and he and Tomas, along with Caledhrad, followed the dragon at a slow enough pace so the others could catch up with them. By the time the clerics had finished explaining what was to happen, Kerethiana had come to a stop. Unsure at first why this clearing was any different than the few others they'd passed in their travel through the forest, Raff noticed that the dragon was now partially obscuring a very large tree stump to the north of the clearing. "I suppose she wants you to place the map on that stump," the half-elf commented with a nod of his head in that direction.

Tomas nodded but looked terrified again. Raff was tempted to take the artifact from his hand and spare what obviously frightened his friend, but knew the others would never allow him to touch the map. Tomas took a deep breath to try to calm himself, then began slowly trudging towards the dragon, glancing behind a few times as if to check that the others were still there. Finally arriving at the stump, he removed the map from the scroll case and dropped both on the stump, bowed to the dragon, then quickly scuttled back to the group.

As they watched the dragon push the items into the center of the stump with a long claw, Mina caught movement out of the corner of her eye. "Hold Jonathan back," she whispered urgently. Charity and Caledhrad, the two standing closest to the once-cleric, grabbed hold of the boy's arms as his fidgeting was about to shift to bolting away. Being helpful for once, Mina's small dog grabbed onto the cuff of his pants.

The teenager glared and struggled to break free as the dragon started to spew forth what Raff could now, after having been coated with dragon-slime, only think of as the world's most awful and disgusting snot ball. The burning, honey-colored liquid doused the map, stump and all, leaving an overpowering scent of pine in an already evergreen-scented location.

The watchers were unable to observe this strange sight for long, however, as Jonathan's sudden shriek caught their attention. Raff glanced over to see that the boy was no longer trying to pull away from the woman and elf holding him in place, but had collapsed to the ground and was twitching slightly.

"I should have realized this would happen," Charity said as she knelt next to the boy, "I forgot he was so tied to that blasted map.... er... literally," she added when she realized the word she had used.

Biting her lip, Mina asked "Is he going to be okay?"

Charity shrugged. "I'd imagine he's feeling like something heavy is being dragged out of his head. He'll be fine when he snaps out of the backlash. Probably. Possibly. We can hope, anyway. He can't possibly end up any worse than he was."

When she caught sight of the expressions on the other Messengers' faces, she frowned. "What? I know you guys are thinking that."

Raff was saved from having to answer in the affirmative by the wood elf grabbing his arm and dragging him slightly away from the others. "Allow them to worry about the lad. Kerethiana says that you should get the map now."

The way the elf had said "you" made Raff think that Caledhrad hadn't grabbed him arbitrarily. "Why me? The others wouldn't even let me carry it."

"She says it's now safe to touch. I think her reasoning is that the map is, in essence, now amber, and you are the one she most trusts with such a stone."

Either she really does like me, or she'd just rather see it in the hands of someone not entirely human, Raff thought to himself. He gave a shrug; the reasoning didn't really matter, as long as they were able to break Jonathan free from the map's spell and somehow eliminate the object.

...but there was the flaw in this plan, which Raff saw as he and the elf walked over to where the dragon was using a great claw to carve the fossilized map out of the huge mass of amber that was once a tree stump and the surrounding grass. The large chunk of resin that Kerethiana held reflected magnificently in the sunlight, but a vague shape of what remained of the map and the still-intact metal scroll case could still be discerned inside- which would likely be a problem, as the half-elf now foresaw.

"So the map is harmless while in stasis, but what do we do with it to keep it that way?" Raff asked, frowning as he was hit with that concern.

The wood elf said something to the dragon then shook his head at Raff upon hearing the silent response. "She says that's not her problem now. You have the amber so you're responsible for its safekeeping" Caledhrad looked rather abashed under his green tattoos as he apologized, "I am sorry. If you wouldn't mind my company, I will join the group to help concoct a solution."

A helpful wood elf. Who would have thought such a thing existed? Raff couldn't help but smile as he replied "Of course; I have a feeling we could use all the help we could get. Tell Kerethiana thank you for her help. It may not be exactly the result we were looking for, but it's certainly a vast improvement."

As the two were walking away, a thought occurred to Raff. "I may need you to do me a favor."

"What would you need?"

"Don't let Charity throttle me when she learns that this solution isn't permanent."

Caledhrad snickered. "And I thought priests were supposed to be kind and gentle; perhaps you really should have been rangers."

The next part of the story can be found here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adventures of a Young Messenger - Always Trust a Fox (Part 5)

Part 5 - Always Trust a Fox
(Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 6)

It was an enjoyable trip to Woodland city, it being high summer and having the good companionship of the strange fox and the assorted animal life we met along the way, so I took my time. A day and a half after setting out from my family's manor, I arrived at the gates of Woodland just before sunset. Before I could ask the gatekeeper which way it was to the Messengers' Mosque, he pointed straight ahead and said "Go past the Temple of Apollo until you get to the fountain, turn left and go up the main street. The mosque will be on the left before you get to the fortress." Noticing my confusion- was I in a town of psychics?- he added with a chuckle, "It's the fox, lad. Been here long enough to know that foxes go with Messengers." How could I have missed that obvious fact? It wasn't like anyone who wasn't blind could miss a fox this large; he certainly didn't look like a dog or anything like that!

With a sheepish smile at my own obtuseness, I thanked him and continued on, eager to reach my destination and see what these Messengers were like. For one thing, were they really as strange as the impression I'd gotten after reading the scroll?

Turning the corner I saw the mosque before me: a large, old grey stone building with its red double doors ajar, although if this was to let in the cool evening air or out of welcoming, I wasn't sure. I walked up to the doors and, figuring that I wouldn't have to knock since they were already open, peeked in. The fox, knowing that we'd reached our destination and not understanding why I was hesitating on the doorstep, brushed past my legs and entered. I shrugged, then followed him in.

Inside was a small foyer; past that was a large room with many desks, tables, shelves, a great many scrolls and a great many industrious people dressed in red. There were a few adolescents in plain robes (acolytes, I realized), but all looked older than myself; if this was to be my home, it appeared that I was going to be the youngest. Well, at least I was used to that. I also noticed that everyone over the age of eighteen or so looked incredibly tan, but since this was unimportant, it got pushed to the very back of my mind to wonder about later.

The fox led me to an experienced -and busy-looking- priest who fell into the "very tan" category, but then vanished into the bustle as I was distracted by taking in my surroundings. Unsure of how the man would react to being interrupted by a random kid, but assuming that the fox had led me to someone who would be able to help, I cleared my throat and said as politely as possible, "Hello. I apologize for interrupting you but the fox brought me here and I'm not sure where exactly I'm supposed to go..." As the words came out of my mouth, I realized just how silly they sounded.

The man looked up from the parchment he had been reading, and, to my surprise, instead of brushing me off or looking annoyed, gave me a big smile as he said, "Ah, you must be the new kid Armand told us would be arriving. Follow me."

Nodding in agreement that I was, in fact, the "new kid", I followed him through the organized chaos of that work area and up a quieter flight of stairs. He chatted cheerfully to me as we walked through the mosque, although I'll admit that I did more nodding than replying as he was the sort to dominate any conversation (not to mention that I was feeling quite overwhelmed), and we eventually reached a closed door, at which he knocked. A kindly voice invited us into what turned out to be an office; at the desk was a smiling, not quite middle-aged man with black hair and pointed beard, garbed in the most ornate robe I'd seen so far in the mosque. He thanked the priest, whose name was apparently Ronnis, for "not frightening the boy away", which I didn't understand at all, since the man had been nothing but friendly. Instead of looking offended, Ronnis just laughed and retorted "That was once! Besides, he only got as far as the door" before leaving the room. The man behind the desk laughed and muttered something under his breath about some Messengers being too mischievous for their own good.

By this point I was utterly confused; weren't priests supposed to be dour, serious, and... well, boring? This all fit the impression I'd gotten from the scroll, but not any of my preconceived opinions of clerics. The man behind the desk must have noticed the look on my face because he asked, "Not what you expected, lad? Messengers know when to be serious, but Hermes is a Trickster, as well; He likes His followers to have a sense of humor, but that's an understatement when it comes to some of us." He nodded his head in the direction of the recently shut door.

Looking rather embarrassed because I didn't know that and in fact knew very little about Messengers at all; on the rare occasion my family received or sent messages, it was through a horse courier. Not wanting to offend the priest, but figuring I should be honest here, I replied, "I didn't know that, sir. Hermes isn't a god that is often... mentioned by my family." Because the fools think He's a common god and are too pretentious to even stoop to talking about Him, I added to myself, not daring to say that aloud. The man must have had an idea of what I was thinking, though, because he gave me a reassuring smile and said, "It is true that Hermes and his priests are hard working, but that does not make us lowly. However, judging from your expression, you already understand that." I nodded; I found most of the things my family thought to be wrong or stupid, so of course this was no different.

"I'm Armand, by the way; I'm the Head Messenger here, but I'm assuming that since you're here, you got my letter, so you likely already deduced that." I nodded again, although thinking that it would be just like someone like Ronnis to lead a wild goose chase instead of going straight to a destination.

He then went on to explain what it was that Messengers did (carry messages, sort messages, write and read things out for people who couldn't... if it had to do with words, the Messengers were right on top of it) and what I'd have to do (watch and learn and do a lot of the busywork around the mosque with the rest of the acolytes for a few years until I'd be allowed on deliveries). Armand was pleased to learn that I already knew how to read and write in two languages and told me I'd be learning more; that made me quite happy because I'd always wanted to learn more than Common and High Elvish, that second one being the only non-human language my father would allow, and that was begrudgingly.

Armand then showed me around the rest of the mosque, introducing me to the acolytes and a few of the full Messengers who weren't too busy; there were two student-clerics about my age, though older, and a couple more a few years older than that (one of these was elven, which kind of surprised me since everyone else I'd met seemed to be fully human- but judging by the hairstyle and ears, there was no mistaking this boy for a full human), as well as a few older priests and priestesses coming and going. Everyone seemed to be pleasant and good humored, even though none were idle, which certainly fit what I've learned of the Messengers so far.

When we got back to his office, the high priest returned to his seat and asked, "So, do you think you're ready to learn how to be a Messenger? As you likely noticed, you are the youngest here, which might be somewhat challenging to start." Drawing myself up and trying to appear confident- I mean, I was intelligent and ready to work, even if I was also new and young- I replied, "Of course, sir! I don't mind being the youngest; I can work hard and catch up."

Armand smiled. "I thought you might say that. I do have a warning for you, though." That deflated me; don't tell me there was going to be pointless rules here, too? Catching my expression, he quickly added, "Nothing about you per se, lad. I just get the feeling that you haven't been around too many young people and I know how Messengers can be; they're the nicest people I've met, but they can be rather... enthusiastic about pranks, so be careful until you get your feet under you, okay? I don't normally warn the acolytes, but most of them have a better idea of what they're getting into."

I thanked him for the advice and said, "You're right; I'd probably have just walked right into something." I thought for a moment and added, "I probably still will, but at least I'll know to watch out. This is part of the 'learning' thing, too, right?"

"You're catching on, Cyneric. I wish you luck, but I'm sure you'll do fine. One can always trust a fox." He paused in thought for a moment, and added, "Alright, maybe not so much, but Messengers can always trust a fox, if just because we're the only beings more sly than they are."

It wasn't until that night, after I'd settled in and been given my acolyte robes, that I recalled the cryptic warning my brother had given me earlier that week. As I drifted off to sleep on my first night as a cleric-to-be, I mused over how Armand seemed to have echoed his words, only in a way that turned out to be a lot less unnerving. Yes, I knew I was going to like it here, even if my new brethren did turn out to be slightly crazy.

(Part 6 can be found here.)

((Yeah, I had this mostly written months and months ago, but got distracted by Raff and never finished it. Sorry, Cyn. I do love you, too, even if I tend to neglect you for my elves.))

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Acolyte's Map - Story, Part 8

Banner art by Artmetica.
You can find the whole cover art here- the art is gorgeous!
There's also a mix/soundtrack that goes with this story- you can find that here.

The Acolyte's Map, Part 8
(Prologue, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,
Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 9)

"When are we going to meet him? We've been walking forever," Jonathan complained as he dragged his feet along.

It's your stupid map, Raff thought, but wisely kept silent as that statement would just irk the boy who wasn't actually in possession of it at the moment. One of the other three had it hidden away, but the half-elf couldn't remember whose turn it was to keep it hidden. Even though he'd offered to help, they were trying to keep it away from him, as well. Sheesh, one lapse in control and you'd think I was the one possessed by it. Raff sighed and simply corrected, "Her."


"Her. The dragon's a female. Calling her male pronouns won't exactly endear her to our presence." And you likely would get yourself eaten; maybe you should try it. Raff wasn't feeling quite callous enough to say that last part aloud, but he was getting close to it.

"How do you know that?" Jonathan asked doubtfully, clearly not believing him, although what reason Raff would have for lying about this would have been anyone's guess.

"The elf told us that her name was Kerethiana. If you knew any Elvish, you'd know that was a female name. Even in Common, that's not exactly masculine-sounding." Raff knew he was being petty, but this youth was enough to try the patience of a saint. He almost wished the boy would go back to being evil because Annoying Neutrality didn't seem to be much of an improvement.

"She should be around here somewhere close," Mina commented, her voice quiet.

"How do you know that?" Raff asked incredulously. He was beginning to think that his ranger training had gone rusty because nothing short of a large flashing sign that read "Dragon is here!" would have clued him in to the location of the object of their search.

Still nearly whispering she supplied, "Look at the trees- there's an odd mark there."

Raff looked closely at the evergreen trees surrounding them. Sure enough, there was a strange triangular mark high up in the bark of some of them, which he'd completely failed to notice. Pines, of course. It's always pines that elude me. "How'd you see that? And how do you know it's from a dragon?"

Mina looked bashful. "I read a lot and I find dragons intriguing. If memory serves me right, we're going to be looking for an amber one."

"Hey, don't blush. If you're right, then that's incredibly helpful," Raff told her kindly, then admitted, "I certainly don't know what we're looking for."

As Raff's newly acquired dog gave a low whine, Tomas, who had been leading the group with the silent help of the canine, froze in place. "Umm... something like that, I would bet."

"Like what?" Charity asked, dragging the still reluctant Jonathan with her to join the group, "I don't see anything-"

Then, much like how the wood elf had blended into the forest, the shadow of the trees a few yards ahead of them morphed into a large- and unmistakably dragon-shaped- figure as the dragon moved. Stepping away from the tree from which she had been feeding, Kerethiana moved to stab another one with the large horn atop her head.

"That's an amber dragon, all right," Mina sounded in awe, "although the book didn't give a good idea of the sheer size of one..."

"Yes, she's very large," Charity agreed, quickly stopping what would likely be the scholarly ramblings of an intellectual. "But what do we do to get her attention?"

She looked over at the rest of the party. Jonathan had taken a step back and was shaking his head emphatically while Tomas bit his thumbnail, clearly looking worried. Mina was still staring wide-eyed at the dragon as if trying to memorize what she looked like for an exam and wasn't paying the older woman any attention. Obviously those three weren't going to be any help. Raff shrugged and reasoned silently, Well, I'll just have to hope that being half an elf will help here...

As Raff closed the short distance between the group and the dragon, trying to put enough space between them that his traveling companions wouldn't be hurt should the dragon try to attack him with … fire? Acid? I should have asked Mina what they breathe, not that the knowledge would have helped- anything short of fluffy pillow breath would be lethal, he was pleased to notice that the dog had resumed its place at his side. The dog didn't look frightened, so hopefully that was a good sign; Raff for one was certainly worried.

"Hey, great dragon!" he called, his voice cracking slightly under the strain, then mentally kicked himself. That was not the right way to greet a dragon. He cleared his throat and tried again. "I mean, hail, great Kerethiana. My friends and I ask for your aid with the task we must fulfill. We were sent to you by the wood elf Caledhrad."

The dragon raised her bark-colored head and, dripping tree sap, looked at the half-elf standing nearby with what appeared to be a mixture of disdain (probably at an interrupted lunch) and curiosity. She didn't seem to have a response for Raff, though, so he repeated the same thing, minus the error at the beginning, in Elvish, figuring that would be a better approach for a forest-dwelling dragon.

This time the dragon reacted, but not in the way Raff would have guessed. She cocked her head to the side, clearly confused, and the half-elf heard in his head, "Humans... Elf... Caledhrad... Aid... My..." He'd had no idea how dragons communicated, but having spent the past fifteen or so years talking telepathically to animals, this didn't startle him. What did bother him was the fact that he seemed to be getting only about half of the conversation.

Unconsciously mirroring Kerethiana's head tilt, Raff tried again, this time trying to simplify. "You- great dragon. Us, Messengers. Clerics. We need help to destroy bad thing. Bad thing is very bad." After saying that he thought, I feel ridiculous.

"Priests... aid... bad? Sap... thing?"

Raff was torn between laughing at the asininity of this exchange and pulling his hair in frustration. "Priests need help. Need to get rid of bad thing-" his ramblings were interrupted by the sound of laughter coming from a different direction than where he'd left his companions. Both the cleric and the dragon looked up to see the wood elf Raff had suspected of following the group approaching. The elf bowed to the dragon and said in Raff's language, "My friends are asking for your assistance, great and wise Kerethiana," before switching over to Wood Elvish to say something else that the cleric was unable to follow.

Now I know how Charity feels when I'm talking to the dog, Raff mused while Caledhrad looked shocked, then thoughtful as the dragon was able to successfully communicate with him. The green-tinted elf and the dragon seemed to exchange a few more pieces of dialog before the half-elf was brought back into the conversation. "Take a look for yourself," the wood elf said, gesturing at Raff.

The cleric had time to think all of Huh? before the brown-hued dragon brought her head down to stare into his eyes, then moved to sniff at his chest, making sounds much like a large dog and dribbling tree sap down his robe in the process, staining the deep red fabric an even darker color. Oh, wonderful. Dragon snot, Raff thought, wrinkling his nose as his mouse scampered out of his chest pocket and back onto his shoulder, chittering in protest. The dragon continued smelling the robe for a moment and Raff heard a distinct "Amber" in his head before she turned her head to look at Caledhrad.

"She says you smell like amber and wants to know why," the wood elf explained.

Raff nodded. "Yes, I got that from her. Thanks, though." He reached into his robe to grab his feather-in-amber holy symbol; after managing to get the necklace tangled in the chain of his other pendant, his hair, and the miffed mouse, he was finally able to remove it. Holding it in his hand, and hoping she didn't decide to eat it, he said to Caledhrad, "Tell her it's the holy symbol of my order. All the Messengers are given one of these."

Once again there was a conversation Raff couldn't take part in before the elf said, "She wants to know by whom?"

Raff was silent for a moment. This was a subject the Messengers were told to keep hushed, but the truth would probably be best and would hopefully keep her from deciding it (or he) was a good snack. Still, he kept his answer short, "By our god, essentially."

The wood elf just nodded and didn't press for more, to Raff's relief, and appeared to pass this information on to the dragon. "She'll help with this item you're talking about; she says she likes your bit of amber and your audacity," he translated.

Just so long as I don't have to give her the amber and she won't eat me for being audacious, that works for me, Raff thought, then told his dog, "Go get whoever has the map and bring them over." He hoped that the dog would be able to suss out who this was; though the dragon seemed friendly enough, he didn't want to turn his back on her.

The next part of the story can be found here.