Chapter Twenty-Four: Aura

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Verre was the first to rouse from her shock. "Cevata? The Ancient One? You're saying she has the slippers? You've seen them?"

Aura nodded, knowing how absolutely absurd it sounded. But she had seen them, a glimpse of red that just barely flickered against Cevata's scales.

It made sense to her. The Ancient Ones were the most powerful beings in Allegora. If anyone could be trusted to protect the slippers, it was one of them. But how were they supposed to get the slippers? Was it even possible?

"Well, this definitely complicates things. I've never heard of anyone killing an Ancient One." Verre went silent as she thought. "Aura, Cevata has seemed to take a liking to you, and she also wishes to help Cerise with her new mage powers. Perhaps we can use that to distract her while we steal the slippers."

"Why doesn't Aura just make her sleep, and then Blanca can poison her? I doubt my fangs or Verre's glass will penetrate her scales. Even if Blanca can't poison her, I'm sure Aura could still make her sleep." Cerise shrugged her shoulders, as if murdering a primordial being was a part of her average day.

Could Aura even will sleep upon Cevata? It was true, her powers would not be harmful to the dragon, so they might actually work on the magical creature. But could she do it? Could she stomach the idea of injuring, or even possibly killing her?

"I think Cerise is right. My powers should be able to work on a dragon, but I won't know for sure unless I'm next to her. But if this goes wrong, none of us will make it out alive. This needs to be planned to perfection."

"If I may, what if Cerise goes and asks for guidance, with Aura to accompany her as a show of good-will? They will actually go so that Cerise can help develop her gifts, that way Cevata will not be able to sense any deceit. The rest of us will wait here, that way we don't raise any suspicions. Us being there won't do anything but potentially injure their chances," said Baen, his face somber.

It was a shaky plan at best, but they had no other choice. People they loved would die if they didn't. They had already spent over a week on the mountains and the longer it took, the more likely Madame Rose would be to break her promise to not harm their families. Yet.

"I agree with Baen; it's the only somewhat doable plan that might work. If we don't act now, we might as well all be dead," Aura said.

"Same here; I'm willing to risk it. Is everyone else in agreement?" Cerise looked over everyone, as both Verre and Blanca nodded. "Very well, Aura and I will leave tomorrow morning at sunrise. Everyone else remains here, and if you see or hear anything that might be a dragon, run. You might still have a chance to retrieve it should we fail. We cannot allow any of us to die."

***

It was colder outside than Aura remembered, but that could also be the overwhelming fear that chilled her bones. It was utterly ridiculous of her to try and make a powerful dragon fall asleep so that she could steal a pair of slippers from around its neck.

Absolutely insane.

But she would personally leap into Cevata's mouth if it meant that Aela and Aerik would live. They were her world--now that her parents were gone--and she needed to protect them.

"This is insane, isn't it? We're fools," Cerise commented, burrowing her chapped hands deeper into her pockets. "I know we're doing this for our families, but have we ever stopped to consider what other people Madame Rose might kill should she get the slippers? We've been told the slippers are extremely powerful, so what's to say she won't use them to destroy Allegora?"

Aura had thought about it, but she couldn't allow her mind to dwell on it. She was saving her siblings, and that was all she cared about. She wouldn't be able to live with herself if she knew the reason her siblings had died was because she had chosen the many over them.

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