Miles and I leaned forward in our chairs, listening attentively. Dragon and another wyrm were sitting opposite us at the conference table. Dragon had shapeshifted to her customary guise of an elf maiden, so we could tell her apart from the Great Wyrm who sat beside her, a creature physically identical to Dragon’s true form.
Dragon had warded the room to ensure our conversation was not shared with anyone untoward, and she was now regaling us with recent events. She explained her painful decision to leave us, as much for our safety as to find a solution to the problem of the escalating tension and violence among my characters. She detailed her exploits entering the manuscript from which she and her fellow characters had fallen so long ago. She related her difficult journey from the manuscript to the world about which I had written in that manuscript. She described the apprentice to a renowned historian she had met, the one who had sent a set of books to me through a magical conduit that connected his world and ours. She shared with us all she had learned during her odyssey.
“That’s incredible!” Miles gave Dragon an admiring look. “You’ve had quite an adventure!”
The ersatz elf frowned. “I have, but I am relieved and happy to be back . . . although I am already feeling the effects of whatever is causing the outbreak of tension and violence among us characters.”
The Great Wyrm, a beast who had accompanied Dragon from the other world, took up the tale. She explained their deductions and their subsequent plans. “Once we eliminate from your surroundings the items that came through the conduit from the other world, once we send them back through the passageway, it should become obvious whether or not they are the cause of the conflict. If they are, your problem is solved. If they are not the cause, if the conflict still rages, then Dragon can concentrate her search in other areas.”
I furrowed my brow as the creature laid out their proposal. “That seems so simple!”
Dragon nodded and pursed her lips. “I really do not know why I did not think of it.”
The Great Wyrm smiled indulgently. “Children often overlook the obvious.”
“Children? I am certainly no child!” Dragon scoffed, her cheeks pinkening and her elven eyes narrowing in annoyance.
The Great Wyrm placed her hand on Dragon’s shoulder and spoke gently to her. “You are but a wyrmling to me. But that is a discussion for another time. Judging from the situation upon our arrival here, I think it is critical for us to start immediately.”
Dragon nodded. “I agree, but how do you propose we find the conduit and hold it in place? When I attempted to do so in order to study the passageway, I needed the assistance of three of my magical colleagues. I had been assuming we would recruit them to assist us in our present task. However, seeing their behavior earlier, I no longer believe those colleagues can be trusted. I believe they are too far under the influence of this sorcery.”
The Great Wyrm brushed aside Dragon’s uncertainty. “Do you believe two such mighty dragons will require anyone’s assistance finding and controlling the conduit?” She lifted an eyebrow at Dragon.
Dragon smiled abashedly. “No, I suppose not.”
I stood up. “Well, if you are planning to start immediately, I shall get the items for you. Then, if you do not need us, Miles and I will go get some shut-eye. We’ve had a long day with my other characters.”
“That is quite acceptable. We do not require your presence.” The Great Wyrm inclined her head as she spoke, and I got the distinct impression I was being dismissed.
Dragon seemed concerned, however. She furrowed her brow and chewed her lower lip. “Will you and Master Miles be safe sleeping tonight?”
“We will. My Old Dwarf will see to our safety. Unless you need him here to insure your work is not interrupted.”
The Great Wyrm shook her head. “We will not require his service. We will ward the room again before we begin.”
I retrieved the items from my office and left them with the two wyrms. Dragon shapeshifted back to her true form, and the two creatures already had their heads together, planning, as Miles and I left the conference room.
* * *
As soon as she had cast the wards securing the room from breach, physical or magical, Dragon turned back to her companion. “The first thing we need to do is locate the conduit.” Although she phrased it as a statement rather than a question, Dragon looked to the Great Wyrm for confirmation before proceeding.
The other creature wrinkled her brow and shook her head. “We need to do more than find the conduit. We need to summon it.” Seeing Dragon’s confusion, she explained. “After seeing the state of affairs with your fellow characters this evening, I realized we can not work on the conduit wherever it happens to appear. We must remain secure in this room, behind your wards. We can not have the others interfering, whether by innocent accident or by malicious intent.”
Dragon nodded, but frowned, and a small wisp of smoke drifted from her nostrils.
The Great Wyrm cocked her head. “What is troubling you?”
Dragon sighed and shrugged. “I am just annoyed that, once again, I did not see the obvious.”
Her companion smiled. “Do not be so hard on yourself. You would have reasoned it out eventually. You have a very logical mind. What you lack is my years of experience.”
“And how long must I wait to acquire that experience?” Dragon gave the other beast a sly sidelong glance.
The Great Wyrm merely smiled. “Let us concentrate on the task at hand.”
Dragon blushed and lowered her head. “Of course. We must complete our work with all possible haste.”
“I will summon the conduit.” The Great Wyrm closed her eyes and began softly thrumming. She continued for many long minutes, the soft drone growing louder and more strained.
“What is the problem?” Dragon gave the Great Wyrm a curious look that quickly turned to a look of alarm. “Are you in distress?”
The Great Wyrm shook her head, as if trying to clear it. “I do not know. I seem unable to center myself and call upon my power.”
* * *
What has happened to the Great Wyrm’s power? Will she get it back? Will she and Dragon be able to complete their mission and send the items back through the conduit? Will the Great Wyrm be stranded here, in the real world? Who is behind all this, and to what end? Be sure to come back next week and see what happens. We’ll leave the porch light on for you.
Also, if you are new to our adventures, you may want to go back and read past episodes, starting from July 9 of this year, when Dragon left our world to begin this part of the adventure. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/the-situation-worsens/
Or, you may want to go back even farther, to the episode on December 25, 2016, when the first of the items appeared in our world. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/12/25/our-happy-holiday-as-the-mystery-continues/
Or perhaps you even want to start a week earlier, with the episode from December 18, 2016, where the stage is set for this set of adventures. https://margecutter.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/vacation-is-over/
Whenever you wish to join us, whether you come alone or bring some companions, you will always find the porch light on to illuminate the way for old friends and new readers alike.