Bet you're surprised to see this! Sorry for the delay, but here it is! Enjoy!
Me- Hi! Do I look like Tamora Pierce?
Random person on the street- No…
Fiyero… that name sounded familiar.
Grabbing the Goddess's token, she looked to see if Fiyero was the mage they were looking for or possessed by the mage. She was relieved when all she saw was the strong golden glow of his own Gift.
"His Gift is strong," she told Daine and Numair, releasing the stone. "But he's not the one that's been causing all of this. Now," she continued, turning towards Fiyero. "What does the King of Thieves want to talk to honest people about?"
Fiyero smiled. "Ah, so you know who I am?"
"Of course. George still keeps track of the Court of the Rogue."
He snorted. "That's an understatement. Appeared in my rooms the day after I became Rogue. Still haven't figured out who in my court is his spy, and that was five years ago. Let's go to The Dreamin' Dragon. We can talk there in private."
They agreed and allowed him to lead the way. Moving Star up beside Moonstar, Numair asked, "Alanna, are you sure we can trust him?"
"Completely? No, of course not. But he's not the mage we're looking for, he hasn't been affected by our mage, and he fits George's description of the present King of Thieves perfectly. Besides while his Gift is strong, very strong, he's probably not powerful enough to beat either you or Daine, and definitely not the two of you together."
Reassured, he allowed Star to fall back until she was next to Black, who was walking quietly behind Moonstar. Daine rode unmoving in the saddle, eyes closed.
"Daine?" he inquired softly, not wanting to disturb her if she was busy.
Opening her eyes, she smiled sadly. "Numair, the animals say that the humans have only been going to their normal places. They don't know where our mage is…"
Numair groaned inwardly. He hadn't realized how much he had been counting on the animals' knowledge. "Oh well, it can't be helped, Magelet," he said, reaching across the short distance between them and squeezing her hand briefly. "We'll just have to find out his location through other methods."
"I guess," she replied, not sounding convinced.
He was about to say more but was interrupted by Fiyero, who turned his chestnut mare to face them, his right arm sweeping around the courtyard of the small tavern he had led them to. "Welcome, O Noble Ones," he began jokingly, "to The Dreamin' Dragon, stronghold of the Tirragen rogues."
"Dreamin' Dragon?" Alanna repeated, eyebrow hoisted
Fiyero snorted. "Yeah, unfortunately, but I didn't name it. When The Dancin' Dove was created in Corus, the chief rogue here took it upon himself to rename the tavern to better suit its status as a branch of the Court of the Rogue. Since it offers me a good laugh, I see no point in changing it."
Dismounting, he handed his mare to a young hostler. "Your horses and bags will be fine," he answered them. "Or they had better," he added, glaring at the hostlers who came up to take the horses.
"Of course, Your Majesty," one stuttered.
"Come," he said, motioning to them as they dismounted. "Unless you really want to talk out here?"
Laughing, Alanna followed him, Daine and Numair behind her. As they entered the tavern, the old bartender came up to them, a puzzled expression on his face as he noticed Fiyero's companions.
"Boreal, have a couple of the maids bring refreshments up to my dining room," he ordered. Boreal nodded, and Fiyero headed up the stairs behind the bar, Alanna, Daine, and Numair following. Numair wondered how a commoner came to order people around like a noble. Maybe because he was the King Of Thieves?
"Now," Fiyero began as they seated themselves around the table. "I want to know what's going on here. Considering Tirragen is one of my least favorite places to be, you can guess that I was quite annoyed to find that my thieves-" he broke off as a couple maids came in, sitting cups and drinks on the table.
"I would offer you a meal," Fiyero said as they left, "except that since you arrived today, Daine and Numair, I expect that you would be dining with the Lord and Lady of Tirragen."
"And their children, unfortunately," Alanna muttered.
Fiyero laughed. "Well, that's the price of being nobility. Now, back to our discussion. You see, about a week ago I lost contact with my Tirragen chief. As you would expect, I came up to this place, dreadful as I find it to be, to see what was going on. Imagine my astonishment to find my chief and half of my other rogues magicked. Naturally you'll understand why I want to know what is going on."
"We understand perfectly," Numair replied. "That does not, however, mean we're going to tell you what we know."
The Rogue turned his head slightly to focus fully on the mage. "Of course not, Mister All-powerful Black Robe Mage, but if you want my assistance in this matter, you'll have to tell me what you know."
"Who said we needed your help?'
"You currently, Master Numair, are in The Dreamin' Dragon, a small tavern that houses Tirragen's branch of the Court of the Rogue. Meanwhile, that mage is calling more innocent people to him to make them slaves of his will. If you had any idea of his whereabouts, would you still be sitting here?"
"Enough!" Alanna snapped. "Two grown men, and both of you acting like children. Fiyero, if we tell you what we know, will you help us?"
He smiled. "Of course. All of my rogues that are left will immediately search for this mage." Seeing Numair about to protest, he added, "discreetly, of course. We don't want him running after all."
"Can you find out where he's hiding?" Daine asked.
"Good, because I can't," she replied, turning to Alanna. "I asked the animals, but they don't know. Wherever our mage is, it has to be someplace that the villagers visit regularly."
"That will help," Fiyero said, nodding. "Now, what other information do you have for me?"
"Our mage started in Benton, a small town near Galla and Scanra," Daine began.
"You don't say?" Fiyero asked, an unidentifiable expression on his face.
"Well, a messenger from Benton came to Corus seeking the King's help. Numair and I agreed to go to Benton and do what we could to help…"
Fiyero sat quietly as Daine recollected their tale, listening intently. Alanna watched him closely, looking for any emotions on his face. He appeared surprised when the name Alzamaree was mentioned, but masked it so quickly she could not be sure.
When Daine finished, Fiyero said nothing for a few moments, just simply stared into space.
"Alzamaree… of course," he muttered quietly under his breath.
"What did you say?" Alanna inquired.
"Oh. Nothing," Fiyero said, looking up. "Well, I'll send my rogues out to see what they can find out about our mage. When I have any useful information, I'll speak to Master Numair here via speech spell."
"Just how strong of a mage are you?" Numair asked.
Fiyero laughed. "Don't tell me you can't tell how strong my Gift is yourself, Mr. Black Robe Mage."
"Your Gift is strong enough that you probably could have become a Black Robe," Numair replied. "But that doesn't necessarily mean you know how to use it."
"Oh, I know how to use my Gift, but being a Black Robe never appealed to me, so I chose a profession more suited to my tastes."
"Being the King of Thieves," Alanna said. "Some profession."
"Your husband found it to his liking."
"For a while."
"There's no guarantee, Dear Lioness, that I shall wish to be King until I die of natural causes or am murdered," Fiyero said. "In fact, I can almost guarantee that I won't. I have other plans."
"No, I guess not, and while I'm curious to these better plans of yours, I know better than to ask. Now, the three of us really have to be going. Lady Saralin must be so anxious to meet her new guests."
"Certainly. Don't let me keep you."
"You shall, of course, inform us immediately when you have any information?" Numair questioned as they stood.
"Most definitely. I may be King of the Rogue, but I keep my word."
As Numair, Daine, and Alanna returned to the castle, heading for the stables, the head footman ran up to them, panting. "Master Salmalin, Lady Sarrasri, Lady Alanna, I've been searching for you everywhere!" he exclaimed. "Lady Saralin asks that you prepare for dinner. She says she's quite excited to meet you two."
"Tell your Lady that she shall meet my friends soon enough," Alanna snapped. "As I am aware, dinner doesn't start for another hour."
"With all due respect, my Lady," the footman stammered. "I can't tell her that!"
Alanna grinned, making Numair wonder what Tirragen's lady had done to make the Lioness despise her so much. "Well then, Ritsu, if you can't tell her, I will. If you would show me to her chambers?"
Ritsu smiled. "Of course, my Lady."
Alanna turned to Daine and Numair. "If you meet anyone who wants to drag you off to see Lord Kristopher or Lady Saralin, make up some excuse, any excuse. Trust me, you don't want to be in her grasps any longer than absolutely necessary."
Daine smiled. "Don't worry, we won't. We still have to get Kit out of your room. Come on Numair."
"Numair, you'll have to undo my spell first," Alanna called as they left.
"I know," he replied.
Arriving outside Alanna's room, he undid the locking spell, opening the door so Kit could come out. Picking Kit up, Daine opened the door of the room beside Alanna's, going inside. Following her, Numair saw their bags lined up along the wall next to the door.
"Maybe I should stay in the room across the hall," Numair said as he shut the door.
Daine looked up from where she was playing with Kit. "Why? We stayed in the same room at Benton."
"Yes, but there were only two rooms available and the only people who paid attention were kids. If we stay together here Daine, people will talk and more than likely rumors of us will reach Corus before we get to tell our friends."
She sighed. "I guess you're right…"
Numair smiled, pulling her to him and kissing her tenderly. "Of course I'm right. It'll be better if they believe we aren't together. Now," he said, releasing her and going over to his bags. "We need to get ready for dinner. I must admit I am curious as to what this Lady Saralin did to agitate our Lioness." Kissing her again, he left, a grin on his face.
"Daine, let's go," Numair called from the hall.
"Fine Kit, you can come," Daine relented, opening the door. When Kit followed her into the hall, Numair looked at her in surprise.
"Magelet, are you sure it's a good idea to bring her? After all, the Lord and Lady have two twin daughters about your age that will probably be scared of her."
"I don't care. It's not fair to Kit to keep her locked in my room this evening after she was stuck in Alanna's room all afternoon."
"If you're sure," he said, kissing her gently.
"I am. If they're afraid of her, that's their problem."
They were about to head downstairs when Ritsu, the head footman, ran up to them. "Good. You're ready," he gasped. "Like I said, my Lady is very anxious to meet the two of you."
"Well, let's not keep Lady Saralin waiting," Numair said, motioning toward the stairs. As Daine and Numair followed Ritsu, Kit between them, he wondered once again what Lady Saralin had done to get on Alanna's bad side, especially considering how distracted she was with the mage Alzamaree.
As the entered the dining room, an overly dressed lady looked up, a calculating look on her face. She had short reddish-brown hair that was just beginning to show gray. Her brown eyes studied them intently, as if making sure they fit her plans. Numair assumed her to be Lady Saralin since she sat to the left of the man at the head of the table.
Lord Kristopher's blond hair was also beginning to become streaked with gray. Kristopher stood, motioning for Lady Saralin to stand as well. "Master Salmalin, Lady Sarrasri, welcome to Tirragen. I hope you find your stay here enjoyable."
"Thank you, Lord Kristopher. It's a pleasure to be here, though I wish it were under more pleasurable circumstances," Numair said politely.
"As do I," Kristopher responded as the door to the hall was opened once again. "Let me introduce you to my wife, Saralin," he continued, motioning towards the woman on his left. She wore a long silky maroon dress with very puffed sleeves.
"It's a honor to meet you, Master Salmalin, Lady Veralidaine," she purred, walking around the table to them. "Let me introduce you to my- AH!"
"What?! What is it?" a young man with shoulder length blond hair asked, coming around from behind Daine and Numair.
"That-that creature! Get it out of my dining hall THIS INSTANT!"
"Now, Lady Saralin, you must calm down," Numair began smoothly, laying a quieting hand on the distressed dragon. "Skysong here is a dragon, not some mere animal. It would be appreciated if you'd calm down so that we can begin out meal."
"Ah, of course," Lady Saralin stuttered, her face beginning to rival the color of her dress. "Well, let me introduce you to my children. This is my eldest, Lord Asriel," she began, motioning to the blond youth beside her. He appeared to be about 17. Numair took an immediate dislike to him. Asriel's brown eyes were studying Daine in an inappropriate way. His dislike was strengthened when, after shaking Numair's hand, Lord Asriel went over to Daine, bowing to her and kissing her hand.
"And these are my twin daughters, Aramina and Arabella," Saralin said, gesturing to the two girls standing behind Daine and Numair forward.
Aramina stepped forward eagerly, curtseying lower than required. Her long royal blue dress hugger her curves tightly, the low neckline showing more cleavage than proper. Her long reddish-brown hair was curled, falling over her shoulders. "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Master Salmalin," she purred, her green eyes looking up at him through her lashes. "And you too, Lady Veralidaine," she continued reluctantly, turning in Daine's direction for a quick second before turning back to Numair.
Her twin, Arabella, was dressed more modestly in a dark green dress with a higher neckline. While Aramina reminded everyone of her mother, Arabella, though identical to Aramina, reminded people of her father. Her reddish-brown hair wasn't curled, simply wavy, and when she greeted Numair, her green eyes didn't look him over as if he were a prize.
"I've been looking forward to meeting you, Lady Veralidaine," Arabella said as she curtseyed. "I am Arabella, Bella for short."
"It's a pleasure to meet you as well," Daine replied, wishing she had thought to pack a dress. "But please, call me Daine."
Bella grinned. "Of course, Daine."
"Okay!" Lady Saralin called loudly. "I suggest we eat. Aramina, Asriel! Show our newest guests to their seats!"
Before she could object, Asriel was leading her by the arm towards the large dining table. Looking over, Daine saw that Aramina had her arm wrapped around Numair's. Fighting back the sudden anger she felt towards the flirtatious twin, she managed to smile as Asriel seated her before sitting to her right. When Numair went to pull out the chair on Lord Kristopher's right for Aramina, leaving the seat to Daine's left empty for him, Aramina laughed. "Master Numair, you must sit next to my father! I'll sit to your right!"
Resisting the urge to groan, Numair seated Aramina on Daine's left, smiling apologetically at Daine before sitting down between Kristopher and Aramina. Daine smiled in relief when Arabella sat down across from her. She really didn't want to have to talk to Aramina and Asriel all through dinner!
"Excuse me," Daine began as Saralin sat down at Kristopher's left, leaving an empty seat between her and Bella.
"Yes, Veralidaine?" Saralin inquired, motioning for Daine to continue.
"Do you think you could have the servants bring a stool for Kit?"
"Kit?" Saralin repeated.
"Skysong," Diane clarified.
Lady Saralin stared at her in surprise, her expression turning to one of horror. "Y-you want that… that DRAGON to sit at MY table?!" she cried hysterically.
"Well, you see, dragons are very curious creatures. Skysong gets very agitated when she can't see what's going on."
Saralin sighed, her maroon dress rustling quietly as her shoulders slumped. "Laurent!" she called, and a young servant hurried through the doors, stopping and bowing to everyone seated at the table.
"Go and find a stool," Lady Saralin ordered. "Put it in between Aramina and Lady Veralidaine when you return."
"Yes, my Lady," he answered, bowing quietly before walking backwards towards the door, bowing as he went. Alanna came through the dining room doors, narrowing avoiding a collision with Laurent. "Sorry, Lady Alanna, sorry," he said quickly, bowing towards her before tuning and running out the door. Smiling with amusement, the Lioness walked over to the table, seating herself between Saralin and Arabella. "Kristopher," Alanna greeted, inclining her head towards the Lord.
"Alanna," he acknowledged as the servant returned to the dining room, stool in hand. He tried to bow as he entered but failed miserably due to the stool. He quickly sat it down between Aramina and Daine, bowing repeatedly as he backed out of the dining hall.
"So, you're a wildmage. How does your magic work?" Asriel asked as the servants entered carrying their meal.
With a glance towards Numair, she quickly explained wild magic as simply as she could. She didn't want to say too much. What if she accidentally said something she wasn't supposed to?
When Kit tugged on her shirt, she politely pulled herself out of her conversation with Asriel to turn to the dragon. Looking over at Numair, she saw Aramina leaning toward him, making sure he had a perfect view of her chest. "Oh, I hope you plan on staying a while," she said flirtatiously. She was surprised at the anger she felt towards the girl. Numair looked over Aramina at her and smiled.
Daine couldn't help smiling as well, even with Aramina giggling and getting as close as she could to Numair. Still smiling, Daine turned to Alanna, who looked as if she'd love nothing more than to spear Lady Saralin with her sword.
"I'm afraid that Arabella still has her heart set on joining the Queen's Riders. A young lady of such standing as Arabella becoming a Rider! It's ridiculous! She doesn't understand that by doing something so… so unladylike she'll ruin all chances of getting married."
Purple eyes flashing, Alanna said, "I certainly had no trouble with finding a husband."
"Yes, well… he isn't exactly a proper nobleman, is he? I mean, he used to be a rogue!"
"The Rogue" Alanna corrected through gritted teeth.
"Of course, The Rogue. Why King Jonathon pardoned him and made him a Baron I'll never understand. And second-in-command of the King's spies!"
"Well, I'm afraid, Saralin, that it doesn't matter if you understand Jon's logic or not. Now, back to the subject of Arabella joining the Riders. Personally, I think it's a great idea…"
Daine turned to Bella, trying not to laugh. No wonder Alanna detested Saralin! "So, Bella, you want to join the Riders?"
"Oh, yes!" Bella exclaimed, eyes lighting up. "I'd wanted to become a knight but I'm to old. I'd love to join the Queen's Riders, if only mother would let me."
"Bells, you know mother would never let you," Asriel said, looking across the table at his sister.
"If she wants to, she should do it, no matter what your mother says. The Riders are great, Bella. It's hard work, but you could handle it."
"How do you know?" Bella asked, leaning forward.
Daine laughed. "Before the war I was the assistant horse-mistress. I had a lot of fun working with the trainees and their mounts with Onua and everyone else, even though it was hard work. It was even more fun teaching them archery though. They always seemed to think they could shoot a bow better than me when in reality they had only picked up a bow a few times in their life."
"You're an archer?" Asriel asked, leaning forward. "I am as well. We should go together to the practice courts sometime. I could give you a few pointers."
She laughed. "Maybe you could, but I doubt we'll have a chance to go to the practice courts."
"You are going to be here a while, aren't you?" Asriel inquired, leaning closer to her than before. "I'd like to get to know you better."
Daine was trying to think up a polite reply when Aramina shrieked. Turning, Daine saw wine all over the front of her dress. Kit was watching her, a satisfied expression on the dragonet's face.
"That…. That creature spilt wine on my dress!" Aramina screeched before running from the dining room. Daine covered her mouth, trying not to laugh out loud. Looking up, she saw Numair trying to cover a grin as well.
AN 1: Well, what did you think? I want your opinions of Fiyero, Kristopher, Saralin, Asriel, Aramina, and Arabella.
AN 2: Thanks to True Romantic for suggesting the website from which I got the name Arabella. Gracias, Senorita!
AN 3: I currently have a poll on my profile, 'Which Tamora Pierce book is your favorite?' Please go vote!
AN 4: I'm really sorry for the delay. I got hit with TOD, Twilight Obsessive Disorder! Mix that in with the drawing phase I was in, and you get a very neglected story. Again, sorry! Hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day! Now,
The Dragon Kasia