Daerton had stripped off his robes, rolled his shirt sleeves to the elbows and trousers to his knees, and was busy on the bank of the river to the side of the bridge constructing... Mud men. About twelve of them lay on their backs in a tidy line, like bodies laid out for burial, each with the torso hollowed out as if their organs had been scooped out by a spoon.
Mesandre and I both tilted our heads to the side.
“Don’t look at me like that,” he said without lifting his head. He had mud down the front of his shirt, caked up his arms, between his toes, and clumping his hair together where he had obviously used the back of his wrist to push it back from his face. “Not all magic is clean.”
“These are supposed to cause enough of a distraction that dwarves can scale the wall and open the portcullis?” I was dubious.
He looked up at me with a grin. He had mud smeared across his forehead. I heard Mesan
We occupied Pres Helef for two days, tending those injured in the battle, and allowing Daerton to sleep off his exertions. As predicted by my dragon, he slept for a night and a day, waking late in the second day ravenous. From Mesandre’s blushes, after the warlock sated one hunger, he sated another, and then he drank himself stupid. Amrynn and his wife Nierlathane held their feast, and I attended, but the entire time I ached to return to my dragon. The two days of quiet allowed for a lot of time laying on his forepaws, sleeping, or stroking his scales but I craved the touch of Aurien’s silken hair under my hands, the scent and taste of his skin, his mouth against mine... On the third morning, as we prepared to continue to the next, and final bridge, Leongrad caught me on my way back to Aurien from a bath at the stronghold. “Liera,” he said falling into step with me. “There is... A rumour.” “Oh?” I clenched my
“Leongrad,” I inclined my head to the russet haired lord. “If you will summon my generals and my warlock, we will spend the time between now and this evening going over the war plans so that when the lords of the other strongholds that I have called upon to fulfil the agreement arrive with their armies, we are prepared to let them know the role they will need to play.” I pressed my lips to Aurien’s cheek and stepped over his tail, striding across to my war tent. I paused by the guards at its entrance. “I will be having a meeting with my generals,” I said to them. “Allow only them, the warlock and my maids through. Anyone else, must wait until I am done.” “Yes, princess.” I had not crossed to the table when I heard the Lord Netiniel protest when his entry was barred by the guards. It was not long until Ruelke, Alaren, Mariene and Leongrad entered, followed by Mesandre carrying a tray of food.<
As Mesandre and I left the ring of torches much soberer and quieter than it had previously been, Daerton trailed me. “Go ahead, Mesandre,” I said to my maid, who flushed awkwardly, and gratefully sped off into the night rather than remain in the warlock’s company. “Did you have to break her heart, Daerton?” I scolded him. “I break all their hearts,” he was unrepentant. “If they are foolish enough to give them. But my heart belongs only to you, my Queen. I declare my undying loyalty and devotion, as well as the services of my body whenever you grow tired of the dragon.” I snorted. “Thank you, Daerton. How loyal will they be, I wonder? Fealty should be given, not taken.” “Perhaps,” he conceded. “But war changes the rules. They will be loyal, my Queen. They are not fools for all their foolish behaviours. Within the week, you will have their armies at your side.” “I hope so.” I paused as we passe