Previous subchapter is here.
I turned to discover who’d welcomed me. I felt my jaw drop as I beheld a ripped man covered in Aureate scales. He was about 183 centimeters tall, had what looked like the whiskers of a cat near his mouth, and a white mane of hair on his head. His eyes orbs of molten gold. He wore chain mail greaves and cuirass, boots and gloves. At his waist hung a long sword in a baroque jeweled sheath. Pulling off a glove, he extended his hand. “I’m Angriz, one of Lord Mordecai’s bodyguards.”
“You’re a dragon,” I said. I gave myself a mental forehead slap. ‘Smooth, genius.’
Angriz surprised me by chuckling. “I’m a half-dragon,” he corrected. “Father was full-blooded. Mother was human.”
“Did they die?”
He paused, his eyes now seeming argent. “Indeed. Drago and his filthy followers killed them five years ago.”
“Don’t be. They’re in Vashara. Know this though, I will toss Drago on a sacrificial pyre while he still lives. That shall please them.”
I blanched at his casual tone. I couldn’t believe it. “Wait a minute,” I protested. “Drago is a good guy.”
Angriz’ eyes flashed. His body tensed and he pulled himself up to his full height. I backed up in a hurry. In what I could only consider exceptional timing, Mordecai arrived, sparing me Angriz’ wrath.
“As I said in your world, you are incorrect,” the big guy rumbled. “He’s the most ruthless of the dark dwarves. He rose to power some twenty years ago. As soon as he consolidated his hold over his people, Drago launched a campaign of terror against the High Elves of Meryth Drangor. There peaceful cities used to lie in the forest below us. Over the last several years, he wiped out almost all of them in a systematic fashion. Not quite genocide.” He paused a moment as if calculating something. “There are maybe five hundred left. He did more than kill them, though. The bastard delighted in torturing them as well. He terminated any who opposed him, whatever the race. Among those Aurora and Rhynskald, Angriz’ parents.”
“And also Reitha, Lord Mordecai’s wife,” interjected the half-dragon.
“Damn,” was all I could think to contribute. I straightened. “So, why do you say you need me? I have no knowledge of war, or of fighting for that matter.” I shook my head and stepped back. “Get someone else.”
Mordecai folded his arms. “Morgrid tasked me with bringing you to the Realm.”
“Wait a minute. You mean to tell me the god of the dwarves asked you to bring me here?”
“This is indeed so, Carter Blake,” said a different, feminine voice.
I turned and was struck dumb. ‘Daphne, you are the most beautiful woman I know, but this lady; she is magnificent,’ I thought.
The female striding towards us was statuesque and a couple of centimeters shorter than me with hair the shade of a raven’s wing draping her shoulders. A fringe over her almond-shaped eyes brought attention to their piercing blue color. Her well-defined muscles rippled as she moved, reminding me of a panther: sleek, intelligent and powerful. She wore a simple white shift belted at her hips with a braided gold rope. As she strode up to us, the dress rose enough to show she was bronzed by the sun. Leather boots went past her ankles. She came to a stop before us. Mordecai and Angriz bowed with deference.
“Lady Orwen,” Angriz acknowledged in a soft voice.
“Milady,” said Mordecai.
“Greetings, Gentles,” she responded. Then to me, “Carter Blake, welcome to Victory Keep, capital of Dragon’s Land. I am Adora Orwen, Warpriest of Kellün.”
I nodded in recognition. “He’s the God of the Elves and woodlands.”
“You are well-informed.” She glanced at the others. “Are you planning on keeping our guest out here?” she teased.
“Milady,” protested Angriz, “Lord Mordecai was informing him of our situation. He wasn’t intending—”
“Thank you, Angriz,” interrupted Mordecai. “Lady Orwen spoke in jest. It is evident we have no intention of being rude.”
“Yes,” she said. “Angriz, you watched me grow up, why would you doubt that?”
Wow. I liked the way he forced her to admit the joke or else accept the rebuke. ‘Note to self: remember how he did so,’ I thought. She turned with alacrity, her dark hair, smelling of strawberries, swung wide, brushing my cheek, and beckoned for us to follow her.
- Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1S5) (beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com)
- Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1S4) (beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com)
- Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1S3) (beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com)
- Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (beginingsinwriting.wordpress.com)