It was the first sunny day they had experienced in weeks but the wind was still cold, made worse by its bitterness. Those present were wrapped in thick, warm clothes of various styles and colours. The robes of the monarchs were finer than their entourage.
The Queens waited, impatient as they endured the fall breeze. Nehalenn scowled, tapping her small fingers on the table. The moment the last dragon had arrived she’d begun counting every second. From her seat she stared across the large table and the plains, watch as the man, his attendants, and his guards slowly approach.
Fifteen minutes later, those who hadn’t kept their eye on them turned as the litter finally arrived.
Dying and frosted grass crackled underfoot. Four strong men held up the rectangle with one guard in front and one behind. The Queens had also brought two of their own soldiers, as compromised.
The progression stopped and the four men gently brought the litter down. The guards marched to each side of it. They bowed when the flap opened and their King stepped out.
Judicaël’s cloak and clothes were covered in a design of black and gold. His gold crown sat on top of his curls, set with brightly coloured beads instead of jewels. His gold dusted brown eyes flickered from Queen to Queen — they had also thought to bring their crowns and finest clothes.
His shoulders fell when he saw the stone creatures behind them. He nodded to the women, glancing sadly to the stone table as he stepped forward.
As he took the last empty high backed chair Nehalenn snapped. “Why can’t you use golems like the rest of us? If you had you would have been here faster.”
He sighed. “We’re not here to discuss my personal preferences.” He nodded to the three dragons and people. “We’re here to seek help.”
Despite their dislike of each other, one by one they nodded. First the youngest Queen, Vrai, and ending with Roch. Nehalenn glared at him, then slowly crossed her arms and sat back into her chair.
The tallest of those invited stepped forward toward the table, her hands on her hips. “What do you want from us?”
Queen Roch smirked as she lounged back into her seat. “Straight to the point,” she noted in mild approval.
Cœrâmé narrowed her cold, dark purple eyes at her. Then she turned and answered the woman, “As I’m sure you have noticed, there have been attacks in each of our Queendoms, preformed by strange creatures, as well as in the plains and forests between.”
Judicaël nodded. “We’ve spoken together and we each agree that people such as you would be the best choice for protecting others from these attacks.”
“People such as us?”
“Those who ride dragons.”
The other two riders glanced at each other but said nothing, their hair blowing silently in the wind.
The woman’s eyes narrowed. “You make them sound like objects to ride on, like golems.”
Judicaël flinched. “I didn’t mean it as such.”
Cœrâmé gazed up to the woman’s towering black and red dragon without fear. Most of its large snake body was curled up behind it as it quietly watched them over top the woman. “Still. It would be beneficial if there were a task force dedicated to the ceasing of these attacks and the protection of the victims. Preferably a force fast enough to be there at a moments notice. Dragons are particularly fast.”
Previously subdued, Vrai nodded eagerly, her long pink hair bouncing wildly. “It’s true! I’ve seen dragons fly incredibly fast. Especially on windy days.”
Nehalenn and Roch sharply turned to her and she glanced away, her smile gone.
Judicaël coughed. “Yes. We have also considered that you could preform the duty of capturing criminals who have stolen from more than one Queendom.”
The woman raised a brow. “Even if we agreed, we couldn’t race all over the land to do what you ask before those things or criminals got away.”
“Which is why you’d be training new riders.” Roch waved out a hand as if it was obvious.
Her eyes narrowed. “You can’t just place dragons with people. It takes an extreme amount of trust-”
“Oooh let’s do, it let’s do it!!” the red dragon jumped forward, hopping from foot to foot.
“Byrni!” her rider hissed. She ducked and her excitement dwindled even as he shot forward and grabbed her wing, pulling her back. Though she was bigger than him she was easily directed back to where he had been standing.
Roch grinned. “That’s one vote.”
The woman’s eyes darkened further. She was silent for a long while, leaving the monarchs to wait in anticipation.
She finally clenched her fists and gazed back at the dragons and riders. Glancing at her blond friend, Byrni smiled and nodded eagerly. The blond rolled his eyes and covered his face. He nodded, not looking. The second woman shrugged and raised her hand as though holding a cup. The dragon beside her shared her smirk.
The woman then turned to her dragon. They shared a long, quiet look, then he closed his eyes and dipped his massive head.
She turned back to the table. She took a deep breath. “Very well. We’ll train other “dragonriders”, on one condition.”
The monarchs glanced at each other. Cœrâmé’s eyes darkened but she remained quiet. Vrai’s eyes were wide as though she were ready to read and carefully analyze every word the woman was about to say. Roch nodded.
Nehalenn scowled, muttering, “Presumptuous….”
Judicaël nodded, ignoring the Queen. “Yes, what is it?”
She crossed her arms. “We find the dragons and people in a method of our choosing, we train them how we want, and we station them wherever we see fit.”
Without even looking Judicaël could feel all of the Queens, except Vrai, bristle.
Nehalenn snapped first. She rose and slammed her fists on the table. “That’s ridiculous! Do you honestly expect me to allow people you train into my Queendom when they’ve been taught under such freedom? Do you expect me to have a dragonrider in my Queendom who may be from a rival capital?”
The monarchs glanced at her.
The woman nodded. “I do.”
Nehalenn fumed, her eyes blazing. “You-!”
“Nehalenn.” Cœrâmé snapped like a cold wind. “We need this. You need this. Need I remind you of how damaged your fishing ports were during the last creature attack?”
Nehalenn gritted her teeth. Her fists tightened and her leather gloves creaked. After a moment she slowly retook her seat. “I hate you.”
“The feeling is mutual,” Cœrâmé easily returned.
“Then it’s agreed,” Roch grinned. She pointed at the dragons and their riders. “You train them and they guard us.” She leaned forward. “Now, tell me, where will you be training them?”