The Rise of The Dragon Queen – Chapter 13

“All right, that should be all of the supplies you need,” Nesryn determined, putting her hands on his hips as some other guild members helped us load a few crates into a wagon. “It shouldn’t take you too long to get there. The caverns are only a few hours past the forest that you guys were in.”

I wiped some sweat off of my forehead as I turned toward her. Vixia was now sitting on the back of the wagon and the others were leaving.

“Wait, then how do we know that the dragon there isn’t the same one that got away from me?” I asked.

“I wondered the same thing,” Nesryn admitted, “but Queen Evelyn was very adamant that they were two different dragons when she sent the reports to me. I guess her soldiers found them.”

Vixia and I exchanged confused glances, but she shrugged it off. I then looked toward the guildhall again. My gaze pierced through the window as I looked toward the kitchen, finding Darius standing in the doorway. This was when I saw that he was actually looking at me first. Our eyes met and I briefly remembered when Vixia and I asked if he would come with us on this quest.

“I’d rather stay back here,” he answered hesitantly when Vixia asked him the night before.

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah. The guildhall needs me to make everyone’s food anyway. Stay safe out there.”

That last line ran through my head as I watched him look away. I did the same, looking down at the ground.

It’s all my fault.

“Well, we better get going,” Vixia spoke up, pushing herself off of the wagon. “Let’s get this thing outside of the city so Puff can take over.”

Puff, who was hiding in my hood, trilled. I nodded at her and we both grabbed one handle to the wagon. Nesryn watched silently as we dragged it away and when I looked back, she was waving.

Vixia, Puff, and I made the long journey to the mountains where Sparrow’s party was sent. We made it by the middle of our second day away from the guild, right on schedule. We were making our way up the mountain’s winding roads when I felt my chest begin to ache. I gripped my shirt and heaved a sigh, unsure of how else I should deal with the pain. It must have caught the others’ attention, because they both stopped in their tracks and looked back at me.

“Ketsuna, are you okay?” Vixia asked.

“Yeah,” I answered, slouching. I drew in a deep breath, which then came back out shakily. “I just need a minute.”

“Climb on the wagon, Puff can pull you the rest of the way.”

The dragon, who was now about the size of a horse, looked back at me from the front of the wagon. He nodded in agreement with Vixia, his eyes showing a level of concern that I had never seen in them before. I thought for a minute.

“All right.” I did as I was told and laid down in the wagon. Vixia walked along beside it, behind my head so I couldn’t see her. I rolled onto my side and looked at the dirt road behind us, dust swirling in the breeze as the wheels kicked it up. I cushioned my head with my arm and began to doze off as I remembered the time when Vixia and I left the orphanage as kids.

Vixia and I trudged along through the brush and debris of the forest as we wandered, having no clue where to go. I was mostly following her since she seemed to recognize where we were. She stopped in a clearing and looked around with a blank expression on her face.

“This is where they left me,” she began quietly. I was confused for a moment, but that was when I realized that she was referring to her family. I walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s okay. We’ll be fine as long as we’ve got each other, right?” Vixia turned to look at me and smiled. She nodded and grabbed my hand.

“Come on, I want to show you something.” She pulled me along as she walked across the clearing. We headed through another thick patch of forest before finding another clearing, which was a bit more overgrown. You could see trails through the tall grass that were made from animals trekking through and we followed one over to a small stone structure at the center of the clearing. A gap in the canopy above us made the moonlight act as a spotlight on the stones. Vixia looked at me expectantly as I stared at it.

“What is it?” I asked.

“It’s a shrine.”

“For who?”


“Who’s that?” Vixia shrugged and kneeled down in front of the tiny shrine. She smiled at it and ran her fingers across one of the stones.

“I’m not sure, but she comforted me when I was alone. I’m glad I met her.” She clasped her hands together in front of her face and bowed her head as she closed her eyes. She fell silent and I realized that she was praying. I took a few steps back and sat down, watching her quietly. Once she was done, she lifted her head again and touched the stones.

“I may not be back for a while. Farewell.” She had a sweet smile on her face, almost as if she were talking to a family member. She stood up and turned toward me. “Let’s keep going. I think there’s a city nearby. I was brought there before the guards took me to the orphanage.”

I nodded and stood up. Vixia took my hand again and we continued on our way.

We found out that Vixia was right about the city because we found it by sunset the next day. It was Centrum City, which was the heart of Zaledrid even if it wasn’t the capital. I had never been there before, so I let Vixia take the lead. We crept out of the forest and over to one of the large stone walls that surrounded the city’s perimeter. She looked at them, her eyes glowing slightly, and let out a sigh as she slumped on the ground. I sat down beside her.

“I’m not sure where to go from here,” she admitted, staring up at the top of the wall. “These are too tall to climb, but the only other way in is through the main gates where the guards are. They’ll just send us back.” I thought about this for a moment, then stood up and held out my hand to her. She looked up at me, confused.

“Then let’s walk around the walls a bit. Maybe we’ll find something that can help us get over.” She nodded and took my hand. I helped her up and we began our walk around the walls.

The sun slowly continued on in its descent and the world around us began to grow colder as night fell. We made it all the way to what I figured was the back-side of the city and found the northern gate. We stopped just beyond the view of the guards and decided to rest for a moment. We sat down on the dewy grass and I opened the sack that we had brought with us, finding that it was nearing empty. I sighed as I took out a piece of bread and passed it to Vixia.

“We’re going to need to restock.”

“How?” she asked, taking a bite of her bread. “It’s not like we have any money.” I shrugged and closed the bag again, deciding to skip a meal to make the food last longer. I was looking around, trying to ignore my hunger, when I saw Vixia’s ears shift from the corner of my view. She quickly tapped my shoulder.

“Hey, what’s that?” She got up and wandered over to a section of the wall, one that we had passed a moment ago. I followed and noticed that some of the stones were slightly ajar. Vixia must have seen the same thing that I did because she grabbed onto one of them. She slowly moved it out of the way, trying to make as little noise as possible. It shifted, revealing a small tunnel leading through the wall. Vixia and I exchanged looks, then focused back on the wall.

“I guess that’s our way in,” she determined. “Let’s go.” She got down on her hands and knees and began to crawl through the hole. I followed behind her.

The first thing that I noticed when I emerged on the other side was the bright light coming from the nearby streetlamps. The next was that we were actually behind a tall building. The area was littered with wooden crates and the ground was covered in slabs of stone. I looked over to see Vixia dusting herself off, also taking in the sights around us. Then her gaze fell on me.

“What now?” she asked. I shrugged.

“I don’t know. I honestly didn’t expect us to get this far.” I crept over to the edge of the building, peering out at the streets. Even though it was nighttime, there were still tons of people wandering around. I was about to retreat back to the shadows and let Vixia know when something caught my eye. A piece of paper fluttered through the air, carried by a breeze. I grabbed it once it came close to me and was surprised to see Vixia’s face etched on the front of it, followed by a reward for her return to the orphanage.

“Well, this just made everything a bit more complicated,” I groaned, stepping back to show Vixia. She frowned and looked toward the street.

“I guess there’s no blending in for us now, not that we could anyway.” Her tail wrapped around her and she began to smooth out the silverish fur that covered it as her ears folded back. I tore up the flier and dropped the pieces on the ground.

“We’ll have to sneak around behind the buildings until things settle more. Follow me.” I began to walk toward an alleyway between the building we were behind and the next one. That was when Vixia rushed for me.

“Wait!” She managed to snag the back of my shirt and stop me before I could run into the street. She pulled me back and we watched silently as two guards walked by, clad in royal armor. After they disappeared from view, I looked over at Vixia to see a concerned look on her face.

“You’ve got to be more careful,” she warned. “At least, until we can disguise ourselves.” I reached up and touched my ears.

“How are we going to do that?”

“Maybe one of the stores around here has clothing or something. We’ll find a way. Let’s just lie low for now.” I nodded and we returned to where the crates were, cramming ourselves into one of them. I pressed my knees to my chest as Vixia rested her head on my shoulder. At that moment, I was tempted to pet her ears, but I resisted and drifted off to sleep.

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