Vixia and I rushed out of our room just in time to see the whole guildhall begin to panic. The lights that hung from the ceiling were swaying as the walls trembled. Some of the guild members were hiding under tables, others were rushing for the exit. Yelling and screaming filled the air. Vixia and I dashed for the stairs and I slid down the banister, trying to get to the ground floor as quickly as possible. As soon as I made it there, I realized that the dragon wasn’t inside the building.
The rumbling intensified as dirt and dust fell down from the ceiling in small trails. It seemed to follow a specific line, ending directly over my head.
“It’s on the roof,” I said to Vixia as she ran over to me.
“So, we have to go outside.”
I looked toward the front doors but found that it was crowded. Nesryn was standing in front of them, blocking the exit.
“If you run out there now, you’ll get yourselves killed!” she screamed at the crowd. “Grab your weapons before you do anything stupid!”
Vixia and I had already grabbed our weapons on the way out, but I knew that there was no way that we were getting through that door. I then noticed that Vixia was looking at one of the large windows nearby.
“Are you thinking what I am?”
“Mhmm,” Vixia responded, grabbing her staff and holding it out in front of her.
Oh, great Goddess, we are in a dire strait
I fear we have no time left to wait
Please help me disperse this glass
So that through it, we may pass
The glass of the window shattered as if on command, catching the attention of a few people, including Nesryn.
“Wait, you two—”
We didn’t wait to listen to what she had to say. I jumped out of the window and Vixia followed quickly behind me. Once we were outside, I realized that there wasn’t a flame in sight.
“Must be fireless,” I concluded. “Vixia, is there any way for you to get me on top of the roof?”
She was staring at the top of the building. From the ground, we could only see the dragon’s wings.
“I have an idea, but it’s too risky.”
“Well, we don’t have time to think of a better one. It’ll cave the roof in if we don’t handle this now.”
“I know, I know!” Vixia snapped at me. “Just give me a second! I don’t want to put you up there because it’s curved. One wrong step and you’ll fall off.”
“And you can’t incinerate it like the last one because—”
“Everyone inside will burn up with it,” Vixia finished, gripping her staff. Puff, who was still on her shoulder, nuzzled her.
“Maybe if we had something to catch us,” a voice from behind us suggested, “it wouldn’t be so risky.” We looked back to see Darius approaching us, having also jumped through the window. There was a large battle axe strapped to his back this time.
“Darius, what are you doing out here?” I asked.
“What, you think I was going to leave all of this to you two? I am a member of the Ironscale Hunters, after all.”
“Right, but now we need to focus,” Vixia interrupted. “How can we set up something to make this safe?”
That was when Puff jumped off of her shoulder. He scampered across the grass, heading toward the building.
“Puff, where are you going?”
He stopped and looked back at us. For a moment, I could have sworn that he had smiled. He flexed his muscles in a weird way and his whole body began to grow. The three of us stared in awe as he expanded to about the size of a carriage. He then flapped his wings and began to lift off the ground a little.
So he can change his size at will? I didn’t know dragons could do that!
“Well, there’s our catcher,” Darius said. “Vixia, send us up.”
It only took a few minutes for us to begin our plan. Vixia used a spell to float both of us up to the top of the building and Puff flew around behind us in case we fell. Vixia came up herself using the same spell and we stood together on one of the stone support beams. I clutched my shirt as I got an intense pain in my chest when I stared at the dragon.
As I had noticed before, it was fireless. Its body was covered in dark blue scales and its eyes were pitch-black like the others before Puff. Its wings were outstretched to maintain its balance on the top of the dome with its claws digging into it for extra support. It waved its tail menacingly as it turned toward us, almost as if it were giving us some sort of warning. It let out an ear-piercing cry and our plan was set into action.
My pulse thudded against my temples as I rushed forward with my sword ready and Darius did the same with his axe. We made sure to attack from either side of the dome in hopes that it couldn’t block both of us and maintain its balance at the same time. Vixia covered the front-and-center area and slammed the bottom of her staff down into the material that made up the dome. She shouted a quick incantation and a trail of ice shards rushed ahead of her, jutting upward from the roof. The ice hit the dragon first, stabbing at its underbelly and chest as Darius and I went in for its legs.
I jabbed my blade into the dragon’s foot, which caused it to scream as Darius hacked at its shin. It kicked him off of the side of the building in one swift motion. Puff caught him just as quickly and returned him to where Vixia was standing as I removed my blade from the monster’s foot. I slashed at its leg and realized that ice was working its way upward from the roof, capturing the dragon’s feet and tail. Vixia had now frozen it to the dome.
I ducked down as it flapped its wings furiously and screamed.
“Now’s our chance!” Vixia and Darius both rushed toward the dragon, weapons ready. Puff flew overhead, his throat puffing outward as wisps of flames emerged from his mouth. He let them go as soon as Vixia finished her ice incantation again.
I jumped back just in time for both attacks to hit the dragon. It screamed out in pain and I made brief eye contact with Darius. There was a look of determination on his face and sweat was running down from his brow.
He must be thinking the same thing as me. We nodded to each other and turned our attention back to the aftermath of the devastating attack that Vixia and Puff had landed. Smoke—or was it steam?—clouded the area and made it hard to see anything other than the tips of the flames and cinders floating through the air. After the flames ceased, the dragon became more visible. At this point, it was writhing in pain, but it was also free from the hold that the first ice attack had on it. Darius and I both rushed in, screaming in both fear and anger.
Darius chopped its neck while I stabbed into its belly. The dragon’s cries finally stopped as its head dropped, detached from the rest of its body. It rolled off the edge of the roof, plummeting to the ground near the guildhall’s front door as its former body slumped and collapsed . . . right on top of me.
“Ketsuna!” I could barely hear Vixia’s muffled voice as I tried my best to scooch out from under tremendous weight over me. I could barely move at all and my chest and lungs began to ache. I reached out my arm as far as I could. I couldn’t see anything from under the dragon’s body, but I felt someone grab onto my wrist. Then another set of hands did the same, just a little further up my arm, and then they pulled. I was slowly dragged out from under the monster’s corpse and coughed as soon as I was able to breathe in again. Darius and Vixia let go of my arm and Puff let go of the back of Dariu’s shirt. They all dropped down on the roof to sit, breathing heavily. Vixia reached out to touch my face.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“I think so,” I managed to say between heavy breaths. Vixia pulled her hand away as I rolled onto my back. That was when we both noticed that her entire palm was covered in dragon blood. Her face wrinkled in disgust.
“Ew.” She wiped her hand on her shirt and we both laughed.
Puff helped us down from the top of the building and shrunk back down to his usual size before anyone had a chance to see him. The front doors burst open and most of the guild rushed out, finding us standing there. They all froze, dumbfounded. I noticed that Nesryn, who was at the front of the crowd, was staring at me in horror.
“Are you okay?’ she asked.
“Oh, yeah,” I replied with a smile. “This blood isn’t mine.” I looked over to see where the dragon’s head had landed on the ground. Everyone watched as I walked over to it and picked it up, then wandered back over to Darius and Vixia. “It’s his,” I said, holding the head up. The crowd began to cheer and most of them headed back inside as Nesryn stepped closer to us.
“You three managed to slay it yourselves?”
“Four,” Darius insisted. “You forgot Puff.”
Puff, who was now on Vixia’s shoulder, beamed. The guild master looked at him and nodded.
“Right . . .”
“Um, Nesryn, I have a request,” Vixia spoke up.
“What is it?”
“Well, as you can see, Ketsuna and I are highly capable of handling ourselves.”
“Yes, her majesty the queen made that very clear.”
“Basically,” I interrupted, “what Vixia is trying to say is, can we please be put on something other than chore duty? Can we take on actual quests inside of being stuck at the guildhall? It’s a waste of our skills.”
“I wasn’t going to go that far,” Vixia mumbled under her breath. Nesryn seemed to consider my words for a moment, crossing her arms and holding the end of her chin as she thought.
“Fine, I will allow it. Let me speak to Queen Evelyn and see what can be done.”
“Really?” She nodded.
“But parties in this guild travel in groups of three. I’m sorry, but Puff doesn’t count. You’ll need another member to come along with you.”
Vixia and I both turned to look at Darius.
“Wait, what?” Darius wondered aloud.
“Darius, come with us!” Vixia cheered, hugging his arm. “We can go on so many adventures and it’ll give you a chance to get away from the kitchen.” Darius shifted his weight away from her, but she kept her hold on his arm. He scratched the back of his head with his free hand.
“I guess you’re right. I do kinda miss getting out there like I used to . . .”
“Then it’s decided,” Nesryn said at last. “You three are your own party and you’ll begin with your regular quests tomorrow. Now I have to go through the members and assign chore duty to someone else.” She turned and went to go back inside, but once she made it to the door she stopped for a moment and looked at us from over her shoulder. “Don’t let me down.”
Vixia and I nodded and she left.
That night, Vixia and I began getting our stuff together to leave the guildhall. We had already made a plan to meet up with Darius in the morning since we would be assigned to a quest together. I had most of my stuff packed already and Vixia was collecting the last pieces of her mini altar when she asked a question.
“Should we stop by the house before we leave? There’s a couple of things that I forgot there that might be handy.”
“Sure.” There was a knock at the door. “I’ll get that.”
“Okay.” I headed for the door and opened it. At first, I didn’t see anyone, but as soon as I stepped out into the hall, I saw Sparrow waiting for me. I sighed and closed the door behind me.
“What do you want?”
“I am not going to lose to you.”
“I am not going to lose to you,” he repeated. “You may have the others fooled, but you’re not invincible. There’s something odd about you, and I swear that I will figure it out. And then I’ll make you regret ever coming around this guild.”
“Do you seriously still think that I actually wanted to join this guild? I came here for my own reasons and none of it has to do with you.” I turned to head back into my room. I opened the door as he began to speak again.
“I swear that I’ll beat you! Wait, I’m not done—” I slammed the door in his face.