Zoltar stood a few footsteps from the door, waiting in anticipation for the sound of the key clicking in the lock.
He couldn’t believe the Queen had actually granted his request to see his friends and soon. Sure, she’d said she would, but he hadn’t really believed her.
Furious hisses and growls still penetrated through the door and Zoltar could hear the guard from earlier huff in frustration and instruct the prisoner to sit still if she wanted him to release some of her chains.
Zoltar could almost see Shiraku roll her eyes.
He felt a small smile creep over his snout, though the pit of his stomach still clinched with worry. What if it was only Shiraku outside and not Emerald as well? He’d only been able to hear the Sea Talon, which to be honest shouldn’t surprise him. Even the Queen had acknowledged that she was a loud mouth. Emerald had always been pretty quiet.
His thoughts were halted by the hollow turn of the key in the door, before it opened with a soft creak.
Almost immediately, a large, burly Sea Talon barged through the door, hissing something under her breath, before her eyes caught on Zoltar.
Her mouth almost hit the floor, “Zoltar. What are you doing here?”
“Zoltar?” A voice rang out from behind the door, closely followed by a rolling black and red dragon emerging into the room. Her scales instantly change into a pulsing lake of rose pinks and warm oranges upon eye contact with the Shadow Talon.
Zoltar felt his heart swell with joy. They were both here, alive and from the looks of it, doing well.
“What…how… when did you..?” Emerald asked, her eyes shimmering with emotion, “I thought we’d be stuck here forever.”
“They’ve basically had us stuck in a nasty little prison cell ever since we got here,” Shiraku growled, lashing her tail as she went over to stand by one of the windows. She spread her wings, letting the sunlight wash over the turquoise blue scales.
“To be fair, we did move you to cells with a window when you asked. We haven’t been all bad,” the Wind Talon guard interrupted in a seemingly hurt voice. He was still standing by the door, watching the proceedings.
Emerald bared her teeth at him, causing him flinched and hastily closed the door with a sulky, “Fine, be that way then.”
“Of course there was the one time we had to go see the Queen,” Shiraku sniffed, arching her neck to catch more of the light, “She seems full of herself.”
“Oh yes. She was the arrogant one,” Emerald hissed sarcastically, just loud enough for Shiraku to hear, who shot her a dirty look, but didn’t say anything.
“Are you alright?” Zoltar asked, walking up to sit beside Emerald. He brushed a wing over her back in an attempt to consolidate her. She tensed, but didn’t pull away.
She groaned, her scales a seething mixing of more colours than Zoltar had thought existed.
“Not really. It’s been a lot to take in over the last few days. There seems a lot that I don’t know about the world outside the Wisp Talon Tribe. Not to mention that being cell buddies with her is enough to grind anyone’s nerves.”
“Hey,” Shiraku started, but she stopped when she seemed to realize that she couldn’t really argue, “I tried my best. It wasn’t like I was yelling the whole time and I did keep my scales lit up while we were in that dark prison.”
Emerald sighed, “I know. We just can’t be stuck together for that length of time again.” She flashed Shiraku a reassuring smile.
“How did you guys end up here anyway? I left you outside the Ice Talon border. How do you end up in a Wind Talon Prison?” Zoltar blurted, unable to hold it in anymore.
Emerald huffed, hunching her wings, “I was wondering the same thing about you. Well I’ll tell my end of the story first. Then you explain yours.”
Zoltar nodded eagerly.
“I think it happened about five nights ago. It’s hard to tell how much time has passed when you’re almost perpetually stuck in the dark.”
She sighed, “You’d been gone for a few days when Shiraku and I decided we best try to hunt in the surrounding woods. All went well the first few hours, I’d caught some pheasant thing and Shiraku had manage to find some game tracks in the snow. We were following the trail, all the time she was yammering on about you and Felistia and how it was a stupid idea for you to try to break into the palace for the diamond. That’s when four or more Wind Talons sprung on us from the trees.”
She shivered, before taking a deep breath.
“What did they say?” Zoltar asked.
“The lead Wind Talon, he had some gold streaks on his wings I think, said that we had to come with them to the Wind Talon Kingdom and that their queen would want to talk with us. We tried to fight back of course, but they overpowered us. Shiraku did manage to hook a few of them with her claws before they knocked us out with their stupid tails. The next thing I remember was waking up in a pitch black prison with Shiraku yelling in the neighbouring cell.”
“I’m not sure how much time had passed when the Wind Talon took us to see the Queen. She had the same strange gold marks. She asked us what we had been doing on the Ice Talon border and why we had been talking about a diamond. When we said that you had gone into the Ice kingdom to steal it, she seemed really excited and angry at the same time. She demanded that we tell her more, but then Shiraku had to get all huffy and started arguing with her.”
“I did not get huffy. I just stated that she had not right to hold us and that Felistia and the Shadow…Zoltar would come looking for us,” Shiraku interjected, her back spines bristling with indignation, “She was asking to many questions and besides, what would she want with the Ice Talon Diamond?”
Zoltar nodded as he listened, though his mind was at work. So this was why the Queen had known about him. From the sound of it, Emerald and Shiraku hadn’t clarified which diamond they’d been talking about. The Queen could have thought they were talking about the Lightning Diamond.
She must have been expecting him and Felistia to show up near their border after Shiraku blurted and had placed soldiers in wait. She would have also predicted that he’d have the diamond on him, that is if he’d stolen it. When her guards couldn’t find it, she’d probably thought he hadn’t managed to get it. That would explain why she’d been so surprised when he’d revealed it to her.
“Basically after that meeting we’ve been stuck in a cell ever since, though they did move us to one with a window,” Shiraku finished, shooting the door a look.
Zoltar let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding in, “Yeesh.”
He paused, thinking, “Some Wind Talon spies must have overheard you talking about the diamond.”
“So?” Shiraku asked, flapping her wings, “It’s the Ice Talons diamond. What would they want with it?”
“You didn’t say it was the Ice Diamond though, did you?”
Zoltar nodded, “They must have thought you were talking about the Lightning Diamond.”
Emerald gave him a questioning look.
“It’s a long story,” Zoltar sighed, “It will in part, explain why I am here and were Felistia is. You might want to sit down though. This could take a while.”