A red haze had settled over the room by the time Zoltar neared the end of his story, the evening sun casting its crimson rays through the three windows.
“….and so now I’m waiting to see what the Queen thinks.” Zoltar finished, stretching his stiff wings, “I think she trusts me a little since she allowed me to see you two.”
Emerald sat on the rock platform on the left side of the room, her face wrinkled with thought.
Shiraku was pacing back and forth, her tail sweeping across the floor, thrusting out small clouds of dust with every brush of her tail.She was the first to speak, “So you just gave the Queen the diamonds, without bargaining or anything? You could have used them to get us out of here.”
Zoltar cringed. He’d hoped they’d be able to skip past that, “I recognize that it was a bad decision now that I look back on it, but you weren’t there. She seemed really angry about us trying to break in and I was worried she would hurt Felistia if I didn’t give her something to trust us. She is an Ice Talon after all.”
Shiraku shrugged her wings with a snort, but didn’t argue.
Zoltar glanced at Emerald. She was still staring at the floor, red, white, gold colors rippling over her scales. Zoltar knew that meant she was angry. At him, he wasn’t sure?
“What about you Emerald. Don’t you have something to say to this three mooned wonder of a pin head?” Shiraku barked, “Something about how he can’t get us into the middle of a war that doesn’t concern us?”
Emerald sighed, shifting her wings with a light flutter as she looked up, “I’m not going to disagree with you on that, but I do see why he did it. Remember me telling you about my situation with the Wisp Talons? How he’d prefer to try to find a peaceful agreement between his tribe and mine instead of going to war? Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to just let the Ghost Talons wipe us out? ”
Shiraku rolled her eyes and nodded.
“But he didn’t. That’s the sort of dragon he is. Now he’s in a position where he can help the Wind Talons, and the Ice Talons for that matter. And while I will admit that I don’t think it was the smartest decision, but I do admire him for it. It’s because of his compassion that I got off that island alive.” Emerald said, smiling warmly at Zoltar.
Zoltar felt himself relax. It was good to hear that Emerald was okay with his decision, even if she didn’t agree with it.
“Besides Shiraku, Zoltar clearly said that it was Felistia that suggested the idea. Your friend Felistia,” Emerald arched an eye crest and flashed her teeth teasingly.
Shiraku was about to respond when the click of the door opening interrupted her.
Zoltar turned to see a Wind Talon guard walk into the room with a plate of slightly charred meat. The long scar streaking across his snout was hard to miss as it cut down from his left horn to the right side of his snout, narrowly missing his eyes.
He wondered for a moment if the dragon was a soldier, since palace guards generally didn’t receive wounds like that from escorting prisoners.
The Wind Talon closed the door behind him and strode over to a rock platform near one of the windows.
Zoltar could see the guard watching him and the others out the corner of his eye, his tail raised ever so slightly off the ground like a waiting snake.
“The Queen wishes for the Sea Talon and Wisp Talon to stay here for the night.” He said as he placed the food down, “If she requires anything else of you, you will hear from someone soon.”
With that, he turned and walked out the room, throwing a last distrustful glance over his shoulder as he closed the door.
“That was strange,” Emerald said, brushing up against Zoltar, “I’ve never seen him before.”
“Yah,” Zoltar nodded his head slowly, his eyes still fixed on where the Wind Talon had been.
“Who cares, let’s eat,” Shiraku said, grabbing one of the pieces of meat and stuffing it into her mouth with a slightly disgruntled growl.
“What’s with cooked meat around here?” she asked, before swallowing, “I’d kill to have a piece of fish or even raw meat for that matter.”
Zoltar rolled his eyes with a small huff. Trust Shiraku to focus on that now.
It must have been an hour or two after sundown when Zoltar saw the moons silver glint over the crest of the ring of mountain peaks.
The others had been asleep for over an hour already. Shiraku was stretched out over the rock platform, snoring contentedly. Emerald had chosen to perch on one of the windowsills, her silky purple wings bathed in the cool light of the moon as her soft breaths floated through the night air.
Zoltar stretched his stiff wings, the frost bitten scales complaining loudly at the movement. He examined one of his front paws, twisting it back and forth. It didn’t look as bad as it had a few days ago. The raw red tint to the scales had gone and some were regaining their glossy black sheen.
Hopeful by the improvement in his scales, Zoltar tried to build up the familiar heat in his chest, urging his fire to roar into life. Nothing happened.
He groaned. It had been a long shot. Even the spark left from a few days earlier seemed to have died out.
Sullenly, he lay down under the window, his wings tented over his body to provide a little extra warmth. With another sigh, he closed his eyes. Maybe he’d over done it and now his fire was lost forever.
The squeal of the door opening sliced through Zoltar’s sleep like a talon cutting through water.
He leapt to his paw, on instinct attempting to shoot a warning shot at the intruder, only to hack up a cloud of black smoke.
“Charming,” The young guard from the day before said as he walked into the room, waving away the smoke with one wing.
“Sorry,” Zoltar apologized with a final cough.
“Just be happy that you don’t have fire or that would have been a much more serious incident,” The Wind Talon hissed, closing the door.
He glanced at Emerald and Shiraku, only to jump back a step. Shiraku was still dead to the world, but Emerald was lying with her head on her paws, her deep blue eyes staring straight at the guard with clear disdain.
Even Zoltar flinched after seeing her. She hadn’t made a sound.
Shaking his head, he frowned. It had took him a moment register what the guard had said. How did he know about his lack of fire?
“Anyway,” the Wind Talons eyes lingered on Emerald before he turned back to face Zoltar, “The Queen wishes to see you, now.”