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Dread curled in Blayre's stomach. But that constant prickling of magic. It had been so difficult to decipher in this place where magic was everywhere and uncontrolled. Coneesa had stripped away the illusion so carefully constructed by Caval and revealed to herself Azure the dragonling.

Coneesa laughed, but it sounded almost mocking. "You should see your faces."

Fletcher bristled beside Blayre, but Caval remained coolly calm.

"Oh, don't worry. We do not kill magical creatures here in Solpor." Coneesa sneered as she swept out of the room.

"What, was that about?" Fletcher demanded, turning to Sebastian.

The mage sighed. "I apologize for my sister. She has not been the same since the loss of our parents. She means no harm."

"It is okay." Said Caval. "But it makes things easier now that you know..."

"This is why you came?" Sebastian asked.

"It is," Caval nodded, stroking Azure's soft scaly head.

Blayre blew out a long breath of air through her mouth.

One less secret to worry about. And as someone with a plethora of them, this was a weight off her shoulders.

"Well then. I certainly am glad that you're staying here. A true Northern Dragon." Sebastian whistled through his teeth. "It sounds like you have a story to tell. But first, please get yourselves settled in. We have two private bathing rooms on the lower level. And you can borrow some clothes for the time being. You look as if you're melting." the mage said, looking them up and down.

Blayre winced, "I was convinced that I was. Thank you, Sebastian. It will be good to get the sea-stench off us."

He laughed and led them out of the study.

The guest rooms were not large or lavish like the guest rooms in the places that Blayre had stayed in Emares, while traveling as part of Duke Rorrick's . But she liked the room that she was given all the same – and it certainly afforded her more space than her place in the barracks back in Emares City.

The sourness of guilt sank in her gut as she thought about Rorrick and how she'd left things. She'd disappeared without a trace. And Ainslee. And her family. Blayre leaned forward against the solidly built wardrobe in her room, alone for the first time in weeks.

A trill sounded from near her feet and she remembered that she wasn't truly alone. She reached down and picked up Azure, the dragonling's scales feeling smooth but dry to the touch. "First thing's first, let's get you some provisions, and then you can eat and drink while I wash the stink off of me."

Blayre poked her head out of the room, Azure cradled atop her hip like a toddler, and strode down the hall toward the staircase, bare feet feeling the rough woven fabric of the carpet – carpet that was not intended to keep the floor warm. Moon and stars did it feel good to go bootless.

Before taking them to their assigned sleeping quarters, Coneesa had given them a tour of the townhouse, explaining that this was just one of her family's homes. Both Coneesa and Sebastian were descended from a prominent scholarly family. Their grandfather, in fact, was still heavily involved in the University as a researcher. A mantle that Sebastian was being primed to take on, now that his father had passed.

Coneesa chose not to elaborate on her parents' passing, though Blayre got the impression that it had been some tragedy or accident of some sort. And that they had died at the same time.  For now, the three guests chose not to press any further. Though Blayre assumed that with Coneesa's strange intuitive ability, she might already know that they were curious. 

The woman in question was down in the kitchen when Blayre arrived with Azure in tow. Coneesa turned with a tight-lipped smile to Blayre, but her eyes lit when she crouched down to greet the dragonling. She stroked the top of Azure's blue head with her fingertips, the dragonling leaning up into her caresses like a dog or cat. Blayre pushed away the feeling of protectiveness that washed over her. 

"I'm sorry to disturb you down here," Blayre said, breaking the taught cord on the silence between them. "Azure was hungry. She's been rather deprived of nutrition these weeks on the boat."

Coneesa nodded, straightening and turning to the ice box. "Dragons need a lot of sustenance."

"We will compensate you," Blayre assured her.

"My brother would tell you that having the honor of housing such an extraordinary creature is payment enough. Here in Solpor money is not as valued as knowledge. Whether you know it or not, you will be paying in observational research. He's probably scribbling notes about Azure in his study as we speak."

Blayre cracked a small smile. "He does seem to take his research seriously. I'm glad Caval knew to come to him here," She stroked a finger down the wood grain of the table in the center of the kitchen.

Coneesa pulled several pieces of fresh meat from the ice box, and some eggs. "She should eat the eggs whole," Coneesa said. "Good for her scales and bones."

When Azure was set up and hungrily eating away, Coneesa turned to Blayre and met her eyes for the first time since she'd come down here.

"Caval. He cares for you." She said plainly.

"Yes, I suppose he does," said Blayre slowly, cautiously. Not sure what Coneesa was getting at.

"He does. As more than a friend, but you - " Coneesa studied Blayre, her own face scrunched. Blayre could feel the dance of Coneesa's magic against her skin. "You are a blank wall to me. That is unusual."

Blayre offered no explanation, but since she suspected that (thank the moon and stars), her resistance to magic was barring Coneesa from using her intuitive magic to learn what she could about Blayre without the traditional means of inquiry.

"Hmm," Was all Blayre allowed, still mulling over the fact that Coneesa could tell how Caval felt about Blayre.

And yet she had still flirted with him on the way to the Dragonstone district.

"I suppose you could ask me questions in the normal way." Blayre said, trying to keep the smugness out of her voice.

"Hmm," Coneesa said, watching Azure for a moment as the dragonling finished up her meal. Then, without another word, she left the room, leaving Blayre chilled despite the warmth of the place.

A/N: So I know I created her, but I love Coneesa so far... She's snarky and kind of a b****, but also has a really good heart. It's CLEAR that she's compensating for something, and I can't wait for her character to develop throughout this. 

I have decided to try a Tuesday/Thursday update schedule. There may be weeks when I can't do two per week, but so far I've been very motivated to write!

In the meantime, check out  @authorhlumelo and his story that was just featured as an Editor's Pick! You are going to fall in love with is writing, if you haven't already! (You may have to search his name the old fashioned way in the search bar - Wattpad is being awfully glitchy - but I'm going to dedicate this chapter to him to make it a bit easier) 


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