Emerging on the other side was like stepping through a doorway. One moment they were standing in what felt like the heart of volcano with searing blistering air, to a temperate countryside with spacious rural fields. Cattle, horses, and the gentle trickling of fountain water from meditation gardens was heard in the afternoon air. “We must be in the center of the Feudal Lands,” Azariah said.
“Not realize dragons do that,” Kruzco commented.
“Yeah,” Riker agreed. “We’re likely to be the only people in modern history to have seen an ancient dragon and lived.”
“We can celebrate later. Right now, we need to warn the city guard,” Vylasgarden insisted.
“Wait,” Azariah objected. “Perhaps we should strategize a plan before approaching the city.” She really did want a plan in motion but she was aware that overall, she was stalling a bit before reaching the city. She thought she would be ready but the view of the city on the horizon made her feel like her feet were planted into the ground.
“Seems straight forward,” Riker said. “We go straight to the guard and…” he stopped himself.
“What?” Vylasgarden asked. Riker and Azariah exchanged a look to each other. “Is this about you facing your family?” Vylasgarden ask Azariah.
“No, it’s not that…” Azariah replied. Upon seeing Riker’s expression, she too realized the delimma.
“Then what is it?” Vylasgarden asked.
“There is a great deal of prejudgment against sarkany within the city,” Azariah reluctantly replied. Vylasgarden’s face flashed disturbance but said nothing.
“It’s not that you shouldn’t come Vylasgarden. It’s that you would be a distraction if we are to ever convince anyone of the danger,” Riker followed.
“I get it,” Vylasgarden growled through her gritted teeth. “What do you suppose we do?”
“There is not much military outside the city aside from game hunters, myrkalfar rangers, and the elven knights,” Azariah pondered aloud.
“Perhaps we should split up,” Riker suggested. “Kruzco and Vylasgarden should rally a militia here in the Feudal Lands and you and I should go warn the city.”
“Good plan,” Kruzco chimed.
“Well, it is a solid plan if any, and we do not have time to debate it. Let us be on our way Riker,” Azariah said searching the area for transport.
Riker turned to Kruzco. “You watch yourself old man. I won’t be here to watch your backside this time.”
“Ha! It not backside you worry ’bout bardboy,” Kruzco scoffed and the two linked forearms and embraced each other. Azaraih went to Vylasgarden with soft eyes.
“I meant what I said when I said we were friends,” she said to Vylasgarden.
“I know,” Vylasgarden assured her. “I have faith that you meant it.”
“Here,” Azariah said taking off a golden ear cuff from her right ear. “Take this to the nearest baron. It should convince him that your order comes from the monarchy.”
“What do I tell him?” Vylasgarden asked.
“Tell him that the kingdom will soon be under attack and to signal the Watchtower. He will know what that means. Oh! Take care of yourself,” Azariah said embracing Vylasgarden’s broad shoulders. Vylasgarden returned the embrace.
“Watch each other’s backs,” Vylasgarden said to both Riker and Azariah as she stood with Kruzco.
“You do the same,” Riker called back as he and Azariah began running down the dirt path.