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Among The Dragons - Chapter 2.2

by ShadowVyper


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

“What the hell was that supposed to be?” Derik slammed the door behind him.

Jerica flinched.

“How do you think that looked?” Derik stormed forward and scowled at both of them. “Professional? Mature? You think it was appropriate for the soldiers to watch two of their commanders squabbling and chasing each other down the halls? Hm?”

“No sir.” Jerica stared at the ground.

“No sir,” Rek echoed. “I’m sorry.”

“Sorry doesn’t cut it, Rek,” Derik snapped. He was silent for a moment, then sighed, forcing his voice to be calmer. “What was that even about?”

Jerica glanced up. She and Rek exchanged a look.

“Don’t look at each other,” Derik ordered. “Look at me. And answer me. Now.”

“I didn’t know that she didn’t know!” Rek blurted out.

“Didn’t know what?” Derik asked, fixing his gaze on Rek.

“I have a sister?” Jerica cut in. Her curiosity and outrage were starting to overpower her embarrassment. “Sisters? Plural?”

Derik’s expression fell, like he’d been punched in the gut as he stared at Jerica. His gaze snapped back to Rek. “What did you tell her?”

“Nothing!” Rek answered.

“I want to know the exact thing that was said,” Derik demanded.

“And I want to know why you didn’t tell me I have sisters,” Jerica cut in.

“Rek?” Derik’s voice was terse. “What happened?”

“We were sparring, and teasing each other, and then kinda sorta lied when we were joking and it zapped us both so we figured out that we’re both in the Guild,” Rek said in a single breath. “And she asked me how long I’d been in the Guild so I told her and she wanted to know why I joined first and since she’s in the Guild I assumed that she knew about the others.”

“Why did you tell Rek I have sisters and not me?” she demanded. “I could have helped him help them.”

Absolutely not.” Derik’s gaze locked on her. “I’m not about to risk The Council finding not one, but two of you together.”

“How many sisters do I have?” she pressed, not willing to be distracted by curiosity about The Council or this mysterious prophesy that had, apparently, threatened her life since the moment of her birth. Her new-found sisters were much more interesting in that moment.

Derik took a deep breath, then sighed. He rubbed his face, pressing his palms against his eyes as he was silent for a long moment. He sighed again and lowered his hands, considering her. At last, “Three.”

Three?” she repeated.

“Yes,” Derik confirmed. “What did you think ‘quandaries come in counts of four’ meant? The prophesy warned of four infants born to the same woman in the same day.”

“In the same…” she trailed off. Her mind was spinning. “Wait, I’m a quadruplet?”

Derik sighed again. “Yes.”

“Where are my sisters?”

“No.” Derik shook his head.

“Why are you keeping my sisters from me?”

“I’m not keeping them from you,” Derik answered. “I’m keeping you all safe.”

“Rek knows,” she snapped. “Why can’t I?”

“Because it’s dangerous.” Derik crossed his arms. “The more people who know where you are, the more probable it is that the information will get out. Even I don’t know where all of them are.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said,” Derik answered. “I know where you and one of your sisters are. I have no idea where – or who – the other two are.”

“Why?” Jerica shifted her weight.

“Because it’s dangerous,” Derik repeated. “I don’t want to know where either of the others are. I want all of you to be safe.”

“Well, someone has to know where all of us are.”

“Yes,” Derik agreed. “Zander knows where all four of you are, and he is the singular person in the entire universe who does.”

“But Guild Master—”

“I don’t think you’re understanding what I’m telling you,” Derik interrupted. “Guild Master knows who knows. But that’s it.”

What?” Jerica was growing progressively more bewildered.

“I know where you and one of your sisters are,” Derik explained. “Aerik knows where you and one of your other sisters is. Someone else that I know – and I’m not telling you who it is – knows where the same one of your sisters I know about is, and also where a third sister is. We were each told the whereabouts of two sisters. And told the identities of the Rangers who knew about the same sisters as we do. But I don’t have any idea where the fourth sister is, or which Rangers are charged with watching over her. And I don’t want to know. It’s—”

“Dangerous,” Jerica interrupted with a scoff. “Yeah, you’ve said.”

“Because it’s true,” Derik insisted.

“So, wait, what?” Jerica was trying to sort everything in her mind, but it was all getting so jumbled. “There’s, what, four Rangers who, collectively, know where all of us? And none of you know who the fourth Ranger is?”

“Yes,” Derik confirmed. “Only Guild Master knows who all four of us are.”

“And Zander,” Jerica corrected.

“Yes,” Derik agreed. “Zander knows who all four of us are. And he also knows where all four of you sisters are. And he’s the only one.”

“That seems more dangerous,” she snorted. “Leaving all that knowledge with one person.”

“It’s a pyramid of knowledge, Jer,” Derik murmured. “Zander knows the most. Guild Master knows the second most – and enough to handle the situation, if something were to, gods forbid, happen to Zander. And then the four of us know enough to manage, if something was to happen to any of us. Aerik would protect you if I can’t. I’d protect your other sister if her assigned Ranger couldn’t. And so on and so forth. The system isn’t perfect, but it works.”

“But Rek knows where two of us are,” Jerica protested.

“A handful of other Rangers know where a singular one of you girls are at, because they get called on when a crisis happens. Rek learned about your sister because he needed to help her.”

“A leak in system,” Jerica spat. This was bullshit – that Derik would let Rek know, but not her. It was her sister. Her sisters.

“It’s not perfect,” Derik repeated. “But we don’t need to go poking more holes in it, just because a few already exist.”

“So, you’d rather let me grow up thinking I don’t have a family?” The betrayal stung. It didn’t matter what he claimed. If Rek could be one of the leaks in the system, then she could be too. He was refusing to tell her because he didn’t want to tell her. And nothing he said would convince her otherwise.

Derik cringed. “You have a family. We’re your family.”

“My real family,” she hissed. That wasn’t the same thing. At all. And he knew it.

“Ouch, Jer.” Rek had been standing in silence during the exchange, careful not to add any fuel to the fire of her outrage. But now he stepped forward and put a hand on her shoulder. “You don’t mean that.”

She shrugged his hand off, then took a shaky breath. She didn’t mean it. But this was too much to process. Rek being a Ranger. Her having secret sisters, completing an entire family she wasn’t aware she had for the first twenty years of her life. And she was still so sore and tired from dealing with Stanton the past two weeks.

“Let’s all take a deep breath,” Derik said. “It’s time for this conversation to stop.”

“I’m not done,” Jerica snapped, glaring at him.

“Yes, we are,” Derik said, voice calm but firm. “I’ve already told you everything that I’m going to tell her. And Rek will not tell you anything further about any of this. Got it?”

“Yes, sir,” Rek answered.

“Good. Now, I think we all need a bit of space to clear our minds apart from one another.” Derik looked at Jerica. “Go.”

“Where?” The betrayal was beginning to overpower the anger again.

“Elsewhere.”

“You’re sending me away.” Her throat constricted. Well, this was just perfect. She’d embarrassed herself in front of the soldiers. And gotten in trouble. And had this bombshell dropped on her. And she hadn’t even been home a full hour. “You don’t even want me here.”

“That is not true,” Derik answered.

“Yes, it is,” she snapped, swallowing down the self-pity. “I just got back and you want nothing to do with me.”

“No one wanted our reunion to go like this, Jer,” Derik murmured. “But it’s how it happened, and there’s no changing that now. But we need to move forward. And we’re not going to get off this subject if we all stay together.”

“Whatever.” She forced an edge into her voice as she turned towards the door. “I don’t need either of you anyway. Being with Stanton was better than this.”

Her wrist zapped her. But she yanked the door open and stomped out of the room. 


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Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:57 pm
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



This is not as much of a gap between reviewing as last time so it's fine, right? I'll get back into it at some point, I promise xD

“What the hell was that supposed to be?” Derik slammed the door behind him.

Theme of this story: Jerica doing something she shouldn't and then Derik telling her off but not really because she's his princess.

“Rek?” Derik’s voice was terse. “What happened?

In Rek's defence, he really should have been briefed on what he is and isn't allowed to say to Jerica. They're keeping secrets from each other so he should at least be clear on the rules of this weird twisted game.

“In the same…” she trailed off. Her mind was spinning. “Wait, I’m a quadruplet?”

Oh this is so cool! Although I'm not a fan of Derik's 'well duh you totally should have figured this out so it's on you not me' attitude. Either tell her everything or don't, come on!

“Rek knows,” she snapped. “Why can’t I?”

Wait, Rek knows where they are too? This feels like a whole betrayal of trust thing. And how can they guarantee he won't tell Jerica? He pretty much tells her everything.

But I don’t have any idea where the fourth sister is

Oof ok I had to break this down to understand it - I'm not sure if there's a clearer way of explaining it but it really messed with my head. Maybe partly because she's one of four but has three sisters so I'm constantly trying to work out if she's included in the list. To clarify:
Derik: knows Jer & sister B
Aerik: knows Jer & sister C
Someone Derik knows: knows Jer & sister B
Bonus stranger: knows sister C & sister D
So why does only one of them know where sister D is when two people know the location of the others? Or have I misunderstood?

Also, what makes Zander so special?

Oof poor Jer! What I'd like to know is - is there an endgame with all this? Are they just tasked with keeping them safe until they die of old age? Or is it until they build up more power to fight? I feel like Jerica isn't asking the questions I need her too xD

That's all for now! <3

Icy





You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.
— Stephen King