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Before The Dragon - Chapter 47

by Shady


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

A/N: Added in a new character! I’m going to introduce her earlier (before the capture) in the next draft, but since you didn’t get that you can check out her character profile here: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/viewtopic.php?f=464&t=112824#p1518739

Jerica straightened her shoulders and lifted her chin, bracing herself for the hell that was to come. She didn’t like Council Meetings under any circumstance. And now she had to deal with the mess that she’d created before lunch.

Every eye snapped to her the instant that she walked in.

She casually looked around the table as she strode towards it, putting on a big show of looking nonchalant even though her heart felt like it was about to burst. She was careful to be impassive as she met each and every gaze.

Her eyes locked with Biryn’s.

His face twisted into a sneer. “You look like you’ve been crying.”

“You look like you’re stupid,” she quipped back.

It was a weak comeback. But it was the first thing that came to mind.

Her cheeks burned with embarrassment at the knowledge that her shed tears were noticeable. And that he’d chosen to point it out in front of everyone.

“No arguments I see,” he taunted.

Jerica stopped short.

Her chair was gone.

The table was mostly filled already, only one or two Lords yet to return from lunch. Her gaze snapped to the gap between Derik and Rek’s chairs. “Where’s my seat?”

“Over here, love.”

Jerica looked up at Stanton’s voice. He rested his arm on the back of a chair that was crowded between his and Lord Fillmore’s. A bitter taste filled her mouth. “Oh, fuck no.”

A collective gasp.

“Jerica Ainsley!” Levin bellowed. “Apologize! Now.”

“I’ll apologize when I’m sorry.” She turned her glare on Levin. The antics were already starting. “Which I’m not.”

“I’ll make you sorry,” Biryn threatened, standing up.

“Try me,” she snapped, glowering at him.

“You said no arguments,” Levin chided.

“I said I wouldn’t argue about marrying it,” Jerica retorted, hoping Stanton felt as indignant at being called ‘it’ as she intended. “I’m not taking a demotion too.”

“You’ll take what I give you,” Levin growled. “Now sit. With your fiancé. Now.”

“Derik?” She turned to look for him.

He was halfway across the room, striding toward her.

“’Derik’,” Biryn mocked. “Gods, when are you going to stop hiding behind him?”

“When you stop being terrible,” she snarled. “So, I guess never.”

She needed to stop. He was an As’veri. Now that she knew the danger that he posed, she should be more careful not to antagonize him. And yet.

“Jerica, stop being ridiculous,” Levin cut in. “It’s not unreasonable to ask you to sit next to your husband.”

“He’s not my husband,” she hissed.

“Yet,” Biryn corrected.

“Spouses sit next to each other,” Levin said stubbornly.

“Then where are all the Ladies?” Jerica demanded, gesturing around the room but keeping her glare on Levin. “Bring them out. We can all be seated next to our spouses if that’s how this game is working now.”

“Sit down and shut up,” Levin snapped.

“And where’s Nykim’s chair?” Jerica continued, determined to not, in fact, sit down and shut up. “He’ll no doubt take my place next to Rek, if spouses have to sit together?”

Jerica glanced down the table, almost apologetic for dragging poor Nykim into it. Her brow furrowed as she realized that Nykim’s seat was missing. His father, Lord Alevor, was at the table – glowering at her – but Nykim was nowhere in sight.

“Why do you always cause such a scene?” Levin sighed, rubbing his face.

“Where’s Nykim?” Jerica repeated, turning her glare on Levin.

“Choices have consequences,” Levin said. “Nykim’s choice left Lord Alevor with little choice but to answer in turn.”

Jerica hesitated.

Then understanding washed across her.

“You slimy bastard.” She took an angry step towards Lord Alevor. “You disowned your own son? For falling in love?”

“Jerica, I’m not going to ask you again,” Levin snapped. “Sit, or I’ll have you seated.”

“Try it,” she snarled.

Jerica glanced towards Derik and Rek. Derik looked concerned, lip worried and brow furrowed. Rek looked wounded, eyes wide and brow drawn as he stared at where Nykim should be. Jerica’s anger diluted. It wasn’t helping Rek.

There was a tense beat of silence.

“Go find Nykim,” Derik said at last, voice soft as he turned his gaze on Rek. “I’ll get you up to speed later on what you miss. Spend some time with your fiancé.”

Jerica smirked as he emphasized the word. Rubbing it in.

“Jerica.” Derik met her gaze, then nodded towards the chair next to Stanton.

Stanton puffed up with pride.

Jerica sobered in an instant. She hesitated. She wasn’t going to argue with Derik. But she also didn’t want to sit next to Stanton.

“Whatever.” Jerica shrugged, carefully avoiding everyone’s gaze as she strode towards the chair. She pulled the chair away from the table and sat down. Stanton’s hand landed on her knee, a hungry smile on his face as he smirked at her. She yanked her leg away and stood up, then started pacing. “I didn’t want to sit anyway.”

“Jerica—” Levin started.

“Do you want to hear about the dragon or not?” she interrupted.

There was another moment of silence.

“When I got to the Forest of Liminality –”

The Council settled as she started her tale.

Jerica spent the next hour weaving the story that she’d constructed for the Council. Parts of it were true. But most of it was heavily modified. She told them about being dumped off in the forest. Claimed that Kaidren had come out and taken her prisoner, though she called him ‘the dragon’ rather than by his name. They’d agreed to reveal that dragons are sentient but not sophisticated.

She talked about being healed and how painful and exhausting it was. Talked about the way Kaidren had disciplined her when she went skulking about in his cave. She rambled about various things she’d learned from Aerik, all the while claiming they’d come from the dragon. She wrapped up the story with the lie of how she’d ‘escaped’ from the dragon. Then she fielded all the questions the Council threw at her. Finally, she retreated to her room, Derik on her heels.

“I want to hear the story of what actually happened sometime,” Derik murmured.

Jerica smirked. “Sure.”

There was a knock on the door.

Jerica tensed. She was so tired. And didn’t want to handle any more nonsense.

“Do you want me to get it?” Derik whispered.

Jerica hesitated, then shook her head. She’d deal with it. Whatever it was. As terrible as Biryn was, he was right. She did hide behind Derik too much.

Jerica walked to the door and pulled it open.

“YOU’RE BACK!” Aashi crashed into Jerica and pulled her into a tight hug. Jerica laughed, returning the embrace. “I’m so glad you’re back! I missed you! I heard you were back but then I wasn’t sure if you were here so I thought I’d just come by to check if you’re here and look! You’re here! This is so—”

Aashi stopped short and pulled away from Jerica.

Jerica looked at her, confused.

Aashi stared over Jerica’s shoulder, eyes wide. She hastily dropped into a curtsy. “I mean! Ma’am!” She curtsied towards Derik. “Sir!”

“Hello, Aashi,” Derik said with a smile, striding forward.

Aashi scuttled backward a step and curtsied again, keeping her head lowered. “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to – I just got excited – I’m really sorry.”

“He likes you Aashi,” Jerica reminded, stepping forward to take Aashi’s hand and give it a reassuring squeeze. It was heartbreaking how nervous Aashi – and other staff – were around members of the Royal Family. “Relax.”

“Sorry,” Aashi murmured, dipping her head again. “I meant no disrespect.”

“And I took none,” Derik said. “On the contrary, I’m thrilled that you’re happy Jerica is back home.”

“Yes, sir!” Aashi said, finally looking up. “I very much am, so, sir… am so… sir… am sir? Sir. Sorry. Sir.”

Jerica’s grin grew a bit more with every word that Aashi rambled.

Derik laughed. “I do like you, Aashi. You’re a gem.”

“Thank you, sir!” She flashed an endearing smile.

“I suppose the story can wait for later,” Derik said, patting Jerica’s shoulder as he stepped towards the door. “I’ll leave you girls to it.”

“I’ll catch up with you before dinner?” Jerica asked.

Derik shrugged. “Sure. You know where to find me.”

It was more or less true. She always had guesses to where he might be – usually the barracks, training grounds, his bedroom, or the library. But he was occasionally enigmatic and she couldn’t find him anywhere. For all she knew, he’d been Transporting away throughout her entire life and she’d been none the wiser.

He left and shut the door after him.

“Oh my gosh, okay, I – oh my gosh – you’re back,” Aashi said with a broad grin. “And you saw a dragon? Like, a real-life dragon? Like, for real, for real?”

“For real,” Jerica agreed, smiling.

“What was that like?” she asked, eyes wide. “Did it breathe fire? Can it talk to you? Was it mean? How did you get away? Are you okay? Did it hurt you?”

Jerica laughed a bit. “That’s… a lotta questions.”

“Oh, sorry, yeah, no, I didn’t, um.” Aashi spun her finger in a circle. “Backing it up. Did it hurt you?”

“Not really.” Jerica shrugged. Another half-truth. “There was one time I tried to sneak into his cave and it pissed him off so he hit me and that hurt. But—”

“It hit you?” Aashi interrupted. “You? I’ll fight it.”

Jerica lifted an eyebrow.

“I mean, figuratively. I won’t fight it, of course. But you should,” Aashi said, nodding her head once, decisive. “You’re good at fighting. And it was mean to you.”

“Overall, it was okay,” Jerica answered with a smirk. “And I’m fine. It hurt, but it didn’t hurt me, if that makes sense? Just made me a bit sore, not truly injured. He actually healed me of the wounds I’d acquired in the war.”

“Did it talk to you?” Aashi asked. “Can dragons even talk?”

“They can,” Jerica said, inclining her head. “They speak directly to your brain. It’s a weird feeling. Kind of hard to explain.”

“They can – wait.” Aashi put a finger up. “Have you been practicing your Nykerian?”

“Who would I be practicing my Nykerian with?” Jerica snorted.

“Me,” Aashi said crisply. “You’ve been away for weeks, that’s too long to go without practicing your language skills. You don’t want them to get rusty.”

“I’ve been a prisoner,” Jerica protested.

“Yes, and now you’re here. And you’re going to tell me all about it. In Nykerian.”

Jerica sighed.

“C’mon,” Aashi said, switching to Nykerian. “Tell me about the dragon!” 


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Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:16 am
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Eragon wrote a review...



I started rereading this earlier and then had to skeedadle! Let's see what we have here, yeah?

“You look like you’re stupid,” she quipped back.

It's not weak if it's true.

“And where’s Nykim’s chair?” Jerica continued, determined to not, in fact, sit down and shut up. “He’ll no doubt take my place next to Rek, if spouses have to sit together?”
Jerica glanced down the table, almost apologetic for dragging poor Nykim into it. Her brow furrowed as she realized that Nykim’s seat was missing. His father, Lord Alevor, was at the table – glowering at her – but Nykim was nowhere in sight.

Uh oh. But, again, true.

“You slimy bastard.” She took an angry step towards Lord Alevor. “You disowned your own son? For falling in love?”

Let's feed him to the dragons.

“Whatever.” Jerica shrugged, carefully avoiding everyone’s gaze as she strode towards the chair. She pulled the chair away from the table and sat down. Stanton’s hand landed on her knee, a hungry smile on his face as he smirked at her. She yanked her leg away and stood up, then started pacing. “I didn’t want to sit anyway.”


“Do you want to hear about the dragon or not?” she interrupted.

Attagirl!

Jerica spent the next hour weaving the story that she’d constructed for the Council. Parts of it were true. But most of it was heavily modified. She told them about being dumped off in the forest. Claimed that Kaidren had come out and taken her prisoner, though she called him ‘the dragon’ rather than by his name. They’d agreed to reveal that dragons are sentient but not sophisticated.

I admittedly snorted after reading that last line. XD Ah, dragons, always so dramatic with their odd sense of humor and vital flare (that fire pun being entirely unintended).

She talked about being healed and how painful and exhausting it was. Talked about the way Kaidren had disciplined her when she went skulking about in his cave. She rambled about various things she’d learned from Aerik, all the while claiming they’d come from the dragon. She wrapped up the story with the lie of how she’d ‘escaped’ from the dragon. Then she fielded all the questions the Council threw at her. Finally, she retreated to her room, Derik on her heels.

I think that here you could specify which things, because there were a lot-- not to mention that mentioning some of them could cause issues.

“YOU’RE BACK!” Aashi crashed into Jerica and pulled her into a tight hug. Jerica laughed, returning the embrace. “I’m so glad you’re back! I missed you! I heard you were back but then I wasn’t sure if you were here so I thought I’d just come by to check if you’re here and look! You’re here! This is so—”
[...]
Aashi stared over Jerica’s shoulder, eyes wide. She hastily dropped into a curtsy. “I mean! Ma’am!” She curtsied towards Derik. “Sir!”

I absolutely love this bit here. XD It shows us a lot about Aashi's character, especially since the post you linked to was somewhat vague (which is good, you don't want us to know everything ^-^) and this is her first official appearance that I've read.

“He likes you Aashi,” Jerica reminded, stepping forward to take Aashi’s hand and give it a reassuring squeeze. It was heartbreaking how nervous Aashi – and other staff – were around members of the Royal Family. “Relax.”

Wouldn't it be the Ainsleys and the not-from-here Royal Families now?

“It hit you?” Aashi interrupted. “You? I’ll fight it.”

For some reason, this sounds like something @starlitmind would say, though it'd probably be more along the lines of "I'll attack it with hugs and potatoes" XD

“C’mon,” Aashi said, switching to Nykerian. “Tell me about the dragon!”

I would more laugh if it didn't hurt so much! XD (Seasonal illness is no fun >.<)

So, a few things!

This was a great way to transition between things, though I did mention that I had a few nitpicks above. I really love Aashi, and she is probably in my Top Three Favorite Characters now! ^-^ I feel like she'd be a great friend, but I will not learn another language. I already speak English teacher, history teacher, and economics teacher-- that should be enough XD

This was, per usual, well-written and well-organized. You will be receiving a 100 A+ for your work and a 100 A+ for your character development for a brand spanking new character.

I hope that this has been helpful and given you some insight into this chapter! If you have any questions, let me know.




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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Ooh I'm thrilled at the idea of Jerica having a female friend! I think I've commented before on how the cast was very male heavy and whilst it's not a bad thing it'll be nice to have a different interaction. Aashi can also be the voice of reason for things like her feelings for Akeno.

Side note: are we gonna have Kieran back soon? I want to see him to know he's really ok.

His face twisted into a sneer. “You look like you’ve been crying.”

“You look like you’re stupid,” she quipped back.

It was a weak comeback. But it was the first thing that came to mind.


I find it interesting that she's still able to act around him like she used to even now she knows who/what he is and could be justified in being afraid of him.

“I’ll apologize when I’m sorry.” She turned her glare on Levin. The antics were already starting. “Which I’m not.”

You can make her marry him, but you can't make her be nice to him.

“Choices have consequences,” Levin said. “Nykim’s choice left Lord Alevor with little choice but to answer in turn.”

Jerica hesitated.

Then understanding washed across her.

“You slimy bastard.” She took an angry step towards Lord Alevor. “You disowned your own son? For falling in love?”

Again, this is why I'm surprised she got Rek to propose in front of all those people. They should have had the time to do it their way, and then figure out how they wanted to tell people. I'm not saying the outcome would have been any different, but they would have had a bit more control over it.

YOU’RE BACK!” Aashi crashed into Jerica and pulled her into a tight hug. Jerica laughed, returning the embrace. “I’m so glad you’re back! I missed you! I heard you were back but then I wasn’t sure if you were here so I thought I’d just come by to check if you’re here and look! You’re here! This is so—”

Ahhh I love her already!!!!

Derik laughed. “I do like you, Aashi. You’re a gem.”


This is super cute <3 and such good relief from all the tension we've been having.

“They can,” Jerica said, inclining her head. “They speak directly to your brain. It’s a weird feeling. Kind of hard to explain.”


This is hard to judge because I don't really have the context of her relationship with Aashi but I guess this is just a note that we need to have the level of trust between them established!

“They can – wait.” Aashi put a finger up. “Have you been practicing your Nykerian?”

Why did dragon talking make her think of Nykerian?

Ok that's all I have for this one, I think I'm going to like having Aashi in this novel!

~Icy




Shady says...


Oh, wow, you really blew through these! Thanks so much for the reviews!!

Side note: are we gonna have Kieran back soon? I want to see him to know he's really ok.


This is one of those loose ends that I forgot to tie up, oops xD

You can make her marry him, but you can't make her be nice to him.


And that summarizes book two hahaha

Ahhh I love her already!!!!


<33




Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.
— Quentin Crisp