A/N. If you have ever read aznbooklover's Fablehaven fanfic Return of the Dragon Prince, you will see quite a bit of resemblance.

I do not own the Tortallan Universe.

Dawnbright75

Chapter Eight

"I know, not even a thank you."

The beautiful woman stroked a small, gray dragon. The dragon was the color she turned when she was sulking. She had delivered something from the Goddess, and the humans hadn't thanked her. Grumbling, she thrust her muzzle under the woman's arm. Laughing, the Great Mother continued petting Kitten.

"You know I can do nothing," the Goddess murmured. "As much as I would like to, I cannot interfere in human affairs."

Skysong chirped a question.

"No, little one, I haven't. I can give them tools, but remember, it is up to them to save Daine."

The woman and the dragon sat in a small cottage. At the table they sat before lay several bowls of goods. Everything tasted marvelous when you ate at the Green Lady's god or not.

A man with antlers ducked through the door. He had sacked a few rabbits, and had also shot multiple birds. Because all these animals were animal gods, they were resurrected instantly. They never truly died.

"Greetings, Weiryn," the Great Mother Goddess hailed. "I have come to discuss-"

"Daine?" Another woman entered the room. "Can you help her?"

"Greetings, Sarra," choruses the Goddess and Weiryn at once.

"I cannot help your daughter," the Mother went on. "We can only keep watching them, and doing them small favors."

Sarra, or the Green Lady, sobbed into her husbands' shoulder. "Poor Daine. Poor Daine."

Veralidaine Sarrasri trudged through a clump of ivy. Sure, she might be dying. Sure, she may never see Numair again. But what was the harm in exploring? It's not like she could find her way to the Black God's Realm with no certain path.

Or could she?

It depended on date. It depended on destiny. Was she meant to die right now? Gods, let me see Numair one last time, she thought.

Then, twigs crunched. At first, Daine thought it was another animal god. But when the figure came around the bend, she saw it was not an animal at all. It was Numair.

"Magelet," Numair said. The words rolled off his tongue smoothly. Too smoothly. Almost as if he spoke sarcasm.

"Numair?" Daine breathed. "Are you okay?"

"Perfectly fine, sweetling," he smiled. It looked mocking and forced. This time, Daine was frightened. This wasn't Numair. He was being... well, just plain mean.

Daine knew she had to run.

She did.

But terrible Numair followed, keeping pace easily. Somehow, Daine knew that it was not because of his long legs. Magic. This was not Numair, but the work of a really cruel mage. Or god.

"Go away?" Daine commanded.

"Why?" Cruel Numair asked.

"Because... I need some... space."

He moved away a few inches, but didn't stop walking. "How do you like the Passage between Realms?"

"Can I wake up?" Daine groaned. "And, please, shoo!"

Cruel Numair smirked. "You know, I don't really love you."

Don't listen. It's not real, it doesn't matter. Just keep walking.

She endured it until her temples started to hurt. "Odds bobs! Just shut up and disappear!"

Cruel Numair frowned. "As you wish." He vanished, and a hurrok took his place.

Groaning, Daine ran. Cruel Numair reappeared in front of her. Daine ran to the left. He appeared there, too. "Let me go!" She cried.

"Never!"

She flinched as hi hand came down on her back.

"Kel, come on. We're almost to Galla!"

Because thy were near Northwatch, they only had to travel fifty miles to their neighboring country. It had been three days. With each passing night, Numair got grumpier. He got more irritated by Kel, and Peachblossom. He was bitten more than twice.

"Okay, Master Mage!" The Protector of the Small retorted. "Can't you use magic to speed us up?"

"About three miles more. I'll destroy the land," he explained. "See, when black robe mages..."

Kel sighed. It was going to be a long trip.

"Ow!"

Three hours, and they had reached the Gallan border. Well, actually, if they didn't want to cross into another country, the borders crossed. They could stand on one time dot, and wouldn't be on land owned by anyone but goats.

"Are you okay, Numair?" Kel asked. She glanced at Peachblossom. "Not again...?"

The roan gelding snorted, and shook out his mane. Grinning, Kel offered a hand to Numair. "C'mon, clutz master mage. Behold Galla!"