"What're you making, Ratchet?"

The Goblin looked up from his work and took his goggles off to regard Noon with an almost impish grin. The mage had found him in the Mithril Smith's shop, of all places. He had expected to find him either wandering around the city walls in his machine or in a tavern in the Goblin Quarter, buying something illegal. Instead, he had taken over the forge, bribing the Smith to go off somewhere and was now bent over a shortsword with a hammer and anvil.

"Its a..." Ratchet scratched his head, "Its a... er... new, improved sword!"

The mage sighed, "And what's wrong with swords? They work fine as they are, Ratchet, they don't need upgrading!"

"But this one has rotating teeth!" said Ratchet, grinning to show Noon his own teeth, "And its steam powered!"

"I don't think its going to catch on." said Noon, looking down at the blade, already mutated beyond recognition. I hope that one's a faliure and its not actually supposed to look like that, he told himself.

"Nah, I'll make millions!"

"Of enemies." said Noon, "Look, Ratchet... I need to go off somewhere. You'll be okay on your own, right?"

"Come back soon!" said the Goblin, "Synbios won't like it if his best mage isn't there for him in battle!"

"We're going on a boat to Destonia. How many pitched battles are we going to have on a boat? Even if we do get into a naval battle, it'll be with cannons." he said, "I can catch up with you all."

"Keep safe!"

"Oh, I'll be in good hands!" Noon promised him, before walking out of the shop.

He walked out through the town gates and onto a hill, where sat in meditation and waited. After a few minutes, he heard the flapping of wings and a shadow descended upon the hill, darkening the grass.

Its time.

Wordlessly, Noon stood up. The dragon lowered his head and allowed Noon to climb up onto its long neck. Then it soared into the sky again. Soon, the town of Malorie was only a distant pinprick in an endless expanse of emerald and azure. The railway line was a thin streak that snaked along the map. Remotest - the tiny frozen world that was both the capital of Elbesem and Bulzome worship - was a sliver of white. As he always did, Noon took a careful look at the tiny island, a long way off the coast. It wasn't on any map he had ever seen. What the hell was it?

His attention was diverted as the dragon suddenly plummeted down again. Noon shut his eyes - he hated it when Tiamat did that. After a few minutes, the dragon came to a stop and hovered there.

You have a lot of work to do, it said, we have few caretakers.

I have to go back again soon, but I'll do the best I can.

I understand.

The mage shook his head, trying to shake away the last of his nausea. Then he opened his eyes and stood up. In the midday sun, the bones of the dragons glinted a fiery silver in the dragon graveyard.