Interlude III: Witness

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Adwyn knew it was mistaken, but sense was sense.
The schizon-clad drake lighted down on the granite hall like the pupil of Gwymr/Frina.  One glance was spared to the male assistant barring the door.  Then the adviser scanned the four guards watching.
He smirked, and strode right up to him.  “I must speak with Mlaen.”  The words came piercing like light, and his studied glare shone upon the assistant.
The other drake could have flinched.  He swallowed and said, “She went out looking for you.”  He didn’t mean Mlaen.

Interlude II: Confess

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The drake felt death breathing down his neck.  He laughed.
“I cannot imagine killing me will end well for you⁠ ⁠—⁠ or accomplish your goals, for that matter,” he said, peering down at nothing.  He smelt the holly.
“One day I’ll find the will, you know.”
“What has it been?  Ten, fifteen gyras?”  He fluttered his tongue.  “I don’t glimpse you doing this out of any lingering hate.”
Something sharp slid into a sheath.  “I still don’t like you.”
A smile she couldn’t see.  “Understandable.  But as long as you do this, I can’t help but still see the knee high little moltling who couldn’t hold a knife steady, or even pronounce ‘kill’ correctly.”  Quietly, he knew she wouldn’t do it, knew she wasn’t like him.  Not Mlaen’s little flower.
She said, “I’ve come a long way.”
“You have.  And some things never change.”

Chapter XVIII: Harrow

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Clouds drew in asudden and hid the suns, bearing down on the world.  The ninth long ring came to a close like it was seeking us out in the cliffs, faintly.
Out here little skinks slithered along the cliff faces, hunting the last glider-scorpions and tentacle-snails before the gray season in full fell.  The calls of the ax-crested pterosaurs filled the air, sounding reedy and warbly.  I saw one swoop down all asudden and fly off with a dust turtle I hadn’t even seen, hiding behind a low fern.
“Poor little turt.”
“Pterosaus have to eat too.”
I looked around.  Past the Berwem gate, all the guards had pulled ashcloaks over themselves, though they maneuvered the red sash onto the outside.  We walked up that same ravine that wound us back into town last night, limned almost adventurous in the sky light.
The pink guard was slinking back beside the dark-green wiver, more subdued, but not so much as when talking under Rhyfel or Adwyn.  “Hey, uh, Hinte, was it?  Everyone called you Gronte-wyre, but I don’t think that was your name.”

Chapter XVII: Anticipate

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When the eighth long ring chimed, it didn’t stop on the sixth note.  The timbre turned from the bells of the highest carillon to the raw or piercing double trumpets you only heard in the cliffs⁠ ⁠—⁠ because of course the cliffs lacked the restraint and poise of sky music. And yet, the sound closed in like a coming doom.
The trumpets remembered the carillon’s melody inf repetition, and they melted, culleted and reglazed it in the logic of the Frinan anthem: Mlaen’s anthem, the one she’d commisioned only days after taking the throne.  It shone out, because you always heard Dwylla’s anthem blaring at Dim-Fflamio games or being played out of key somewhere in the Moyo-Makao.  Above, the doom drew closer.

Chapter XVI: Repine

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“I can’t imagine killing me would end well for you⁠ ⁠—⁠ or accomplish your goals, for that matter,” Adwyn said, peering down at me with a look of patience and recognition⁠ ⁠—⁠ as if he’d had this conversation before.
In front of me the orange drake flicked his tongue.  I had to look up to meet eye with him, and I broke it just as quick.  “Granted you even had it in you to do it⁠ ⁠—⁠ and you don’t⁠ ⁠—⁠ you wouldn’t survive my assassination.  And if those two conditions didn’t hold, I⁠ ⁠—⁠ personally⁠ ⁠—⁠ wouldn’t recommend this.  And not simply because my life is in question, either.”  He paused.  “Can you tell me why? What purpose could it serve?”
I looked up⁠ ⁠—⁠ further up, at the sky.  “Well… like I said, Highness Ashaine sent me here to gain influence over the faer, and I sorta…  completely failed at that.  They⁠ ⁠—⁠ he wants faster results, and um… you have the most influence over the faer.  So with you out–out of the dance, I would have an easier time.”
The orange drake shook his head.  “I suppose that would show the ignorance of the Specters.  Or their utter disregard for your life.  I am hardly the one Mlaen likes⁠ ⁠—⁠ no, loves⁠ ⁠—⁠ most of all.  And there is no chance of you influencing or even breathing upon the one whom she cherishes.  Your efforts would be in vain.”

Chapter XV: Agnize

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As the knife plummeted, my hope fell with it.  I hung there on the net for a few beats and then Adwyn arrived.
He didn’t glance at me; he unsheathed a short blade.  In a half-dozen quick, precise swipes, he slashed at the netting.  But instead of trying to cut all the way through like me, he resheathed the sword, gripped netting and pulled.
It came right apart, and Adwyn had flown through before my eyes unclouded.  I flapped after him, frills folded, tail coiled.
Glancing behind me, the flock of guards had reached the nets.  But they didn’t all try to squeeze through Adwyn’s hole, they just followed his example, without swords, ripping the net with their claws.
I turned away, looking for the thieves and finding them, after moments of scanning, both flying low over the town.  Nothing much had changed, aside from my falling behind Adwyn — about five or six wingbeats — and thieves now having a crushing lead on us: they were more than thirty wings in front of Adwyn.

Chapter XIV: Concede

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“The bodies are gone?” I said with a snap of my tongue. “Where did they go?”
Adwyn was still prodding the tarp in front of us, and still speaking, thinking aloud, “These are sandbags, decoys.”
The orange drake, face hidden behind a dust mask, turned from the cart. When he did, every careless scale had been shed. This Adwyn, I could imagine, was the last thing Raganari had seen before her end. “We have been robbed,” he said.

Chapter XIII: Suspect

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“The bodies need to be guarded,” the pink-scaled guard was saying to Adwyn, “don’t they?  You’re plenty big and strong sure, but I can watch your back.”
Didn’t they hear me? “Who are you?” I asked again, a bit higher. I stood somewhere behind Adwyn, beside Digrif, but I knew they could hear me.
The short, mouse-like dragon at last glanced over, frowned, and tossed me a, “Ceian,” before turning back to the schizon-clad adviser.
Hinte stood beside the orange drake. “Do we need a little fledgling slowing us down?”
The guard glanced at her, and his frills popped open and there may have been a gasp or mutter.  “You’re the alchemist’s spawn!” they said, and stepped back.

Chapter XII: Validate

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“Hi?  Who are you?” I asked the immaculately-dressed plain-dweller.
He clicked his tongue once before replying, giving me a disarming smile, “Oh, me?  I’m nobody.  I might have dropped by the Llygaid Crwydro twice or so, but I am in Gwymr oh so scarcely.  No, you wouldn’t remember me.  And I don’t remember you.  How odd.”
This plain-dweller had stood listlessly in front of the library, looking all around, and checking a pocket ringglass.  Over their breast and forelegs a silky red robes with twisting green filaments flowed.  On the breast of the robes lay some embroidered pickaxes and a pile of ash.  Even for a library patron, they looked well-dressed.
Really, they looked out of place. Their green eyes met mine, and their frills spread out like an invitation.

Chapter XI: Interpret

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In silence I slinked away from the Gären estate and toward my sinkhole of morning shift.  Around me the west end was sleeping.  The birds didn’t chirp too loudly, there weren’t very many dragons out walking, and even the wind seemed to hold its breath.
That left it easy to hear the soft, stealthy padding that came up behind me.
I said, “Hello again, Adwyn-sofran.”  Your tongue caught the scent of eyepaint.
“Greetings, Kinri of Specter.”
A twitching blue frill brushed my headband, and metallic-red eyes caught that.  I walked on, forcefully, and left the orange drake trailing behind me. Why here, why now? I’d had enough of this smirking, scheming wraith at breakfast.
“What do you want?” I asked him.  “I need to get to work.”