Upon Zoltar, Oren and Voltron’s arrival at the main palace entrance, two Wind Talon guards were sent to find the Queen and notify her that they’d returned.
Before long Zoltar found himself standing in her throne room again, the early afternoon light filtering down from above casting the room in a soft white light. Voltron stood on his left, with Oren by his side.
“Did you find the Ice Talon,” Lezeeru asked as she hurried into the room. She didn’t bother to sit down on her throne, instead choosing to stand, her tail sweeping from side to side impatiently.
“Yes. He was right where Zoltar said he’d be,” Voltron said, glancing at Zoltar.
“What did he say? Are there many Ice Talons willing to help us?” The Queen clasped her paws together, rubbing her talons nervously.
Voltron’s face fell and he avoided her eyes for a moment, “I’m afraid it isn’t good news. Shiler has declared war on us. She will try to wipe us out this time. The spy says that her army will fly out in two days, possibly sooner if the Ice Talon is caught.”
Zoltar couldn’t help shooting Voltron a scolding glance. He caught himself quickly and dropped his gaze. How dare Voltron talk about Shriken so casually? The Ice Talon had taking a massive risk coming to warn them of Shiler’s plans. If he was caught, he’d be executed.
Luckily, Voltron didn’t seem to have noticed Zoltar’s disapproving glare.
Lezeeru’s snout paled and her wings went slack, “Two days.” She echoed.
Voltron nodded grimly.
Lezeeru ran her talons over her tail, rubbing the scarred area near the tip, “Do we have any support from the rebellion?”
Voltron looked at Zoltar and stepped back, motioning for him to speak.
“Shriken assured me that he and what remains of the Wings of Freedom will assist you once you are on the battle field,” Zoltar said firmly, his wings held high, “However, he has very few dragons. You won’t be able to count on them to turn the tide in the war. There aren’t enough Ice Talons in the rebellion.”
“Very well,” Lezeeru took a deep breath, before letting it out with a snort of smoke.
“Delareth!” She roared, fire burning in her eyes.
Almost immediately, the wooden doors into the throne room burst open and Delareth hurried into the room. He scurried forward to stand in front of the Queen, bowing with his wings outspread, “Yes, your Majesty?”
“Gather the troops and prepare for war. Voltron will be with you as soon as he can,” Lezeeru commanded, “And prepare a speech for me. I will need to address my subjects.”
“Yes your Greatness,” Delareth said a little shakily before backing out the room, the doors emitting an ominous boom as they closed.
The Queen paused, taking a deep breath before continuing in a more melancholy voice, “Voltron, please tell the Elders to prepare for a White Light Ceremony tonight. I think it’s time for Oren to take his place among the Lighting Talons.”
She smiled sadly at the young Wind Talon, “We will need you on the battle field.”
Voltron nodded, giving Oren a proud pat on the back with his wing, “You’ll do fine,” he said as he turned to leave.
Oren bounded after Voltron, though his trembling talons betrayed his under lying fear.
Zoltar watched the doors close behind them.
Poor Oren. He’d finally gotten his wish, to become a Lighting Talon like his parents. Only now he would have to join the war because of it.
Zoltar was yanked from his thoughts and whipped back around, “Yes, your Majesty?”
“Your role in this has been fulfilled. You and your friends may leave,” Lezeeru had positioned herself back onto her throne, her tail curled delicately over her talons as she looked down at him. “I’m sure you’ll want to be on your way before war breaks out.”
Zoltar stared at the floor. He’d been dreading this moment. A few hours ago, he’d somehow talked himself into joining the war, but now that he was here, it seemed foolish.
Why would the Queen want his help? They would have three Lighting Talons. What could he, a Shadow Talon with no fire, do to help in this? Surely the Queen would laugh at any help he offered?
“You may have the Ice Diamond back,” Lezeeru continued after he didn’t respond, “I know it’s important to you and it’s of little value to me.”
She got up and padded over to the left side of the room to small hole in the wall. She reached inside and pulled out the silvery white gem.
She stared at it for a moment, before walked back over to Zoltar. She gently placed the gem into his talons.
Zoltar nodded gratefully, “Thank you, your Majesty.”
She flashed him a faint smile, “You best get ready. You, along with the Sea Talon and Wisp Talon, should try to be well past our boarders before sundown tomorrow.”
She paused, letting out a sigh, “Felistia will have to stay here, I’m afraid. Without her, I cannot guaranty the support of the Wings of Freedom and we need every dragon we have.”
A flash of dread spiked up Zoltar’s spine. Even the Queen seemed doubtful about their chances of winning this.
How could he just leave her and Felistia to face this while he escaped? He’d stirred up this mess by taking the diamonds, now he need to help put an end to it.
Lezeeru shifted her wings, before stepping back, “I’ll make sure that you are supplied with food for your journey. Someone will bring satchels to your room later on today.”
Taking a deep breath, Zoltar steeled himself, “Your Majesty, I would prefer to stay, to fight…with your permission of course. I may not be much, but one more dragon is better than nothing, is it not?”
Lezeeru halted, her spiny back facing him. Then she turned her head partially, looking at him over her wing, “And why would you want to do that?”
It was Zoltar’s turn to pause. Why was he doing this? Hisster would have his head if he saw what he was doing.
“I can’t leave Felistia behind. I couldn’t live not knowing what happened to her, and… I need to do this. It’s not your fault that I stole the Diamonds from Shiler. She wouldn’t be taking out her rage on you and your dragons if I hadn’t come to you.”
He stopped and looked back at Lezeeru, expecting to see anger, but was instead met with kindness.
“Oh Zoltar. You mustn’t feel guilty for what you did,” Lezeeru murmured, turning to face him, “Shiler has been slowly draining the life from my kingdom for years. We could never fight back, not without the Lighting Diamond. It was you that brought it back to us and now for the first time in decades, we can finally try to win back our freedom.”
She smiled at him, brushing the tip of her wing over his tail, “I do not wish to fight, but it’s better than living a life of oppression.”
Zoltar breathed an inward sigh of relief. He’d been so worried that Lezeeru had been holding resentment against him and Felistia.
“If you wish to stay and fight, I will not stop you,” Lezeeru continued, “However, I fear that we may not win this battle. You know the risks.”
“Yes, your Majesty,” Zoltar knew all too well what he was getting himself into. A battle like this was not to be taken lightly, but it was the right thing to do.