**This is a fragment of another story.**
Araine started and leapt from her chair. “Namea.” She slid her fingers through her daughter’s damp hair. “Wake up darling.”
The child’s eyelids rose, but her eyes were covered by the inner-eyelid.
“Mama. He wants me to kill her.”
“There now, my love. It’s just a bad dream.”
One inner eyelid slid to the side. “He wants me to kill her and take him to be mine,” she slurred. “I can’t. I can’t. Boys are gross.”
Araine couldn’t help but smile as she put a cloth into the dish of cool water that sat beside the bed, wrung it out, and placed it on Namea’s forehead. “You don’t have to kill anyone. And you don’t have to have anything to do with a boy.”
Namea’s eyes shut. “I don’t want to. Boys smell bad.”
The door sisked open and Jeonar stood there. “More of the same?”
“I can’t help wondering who…” Jeonar entered the room, and sat beside her.
“I don’t want to know. Frotting trees and their plots.” Araine snapped her teeth.
“I’ll speak my mind,” Araine replied. “Let her have her childhood at least. Cursed gifts.”
“Daddy,” murmured Namea.
“I’m here, ma vie.”
Namea’s eyes opened fully. “He wants me to kill Moira.”
“Moira? Moira who. We don’t know anyone by that name,” Jeonar sighed. “It’s just a dream. A bad dream.”
“She isn’t here yet.” Namea sat up. “I’m thirsty.”
Araine poured water into a cup and helped Namea drink. For a moment, she remembered Namea’s powerful presence even in the womb. She pushed it away. She refused to be afraid of her own child.
“Daddy. She’s coming soon. She’s very beautiful, with golden hair and golden eyes.”
Araine shivered. “That’s very specific.”
Namea finished the water. “He says she’ll be coming with that boy. I’m afraid, Daddy.” She pushed the cup into Araine’s hand and threw back the covers. “She’s so strong. How can I kill her?”
She crept into Jeonar’s arms.
But Araine knew.
Namea sat in the window of her bedroom looking out. Mum’s solution to the vision was to keep her locked up. But the Great Tree had shown her that Moira planned to use that boy to do bad things, and then kill him. Even a boy didn’t deserve to be treated that way. That’s what Egil said.
She straighted and stared across the loch at the Keep. A dragon was flying up from the Falls, and someone was on her back. Someone her size. Was that her? Was that the boy?
She pushed through the window and clung to the sill. She kicked out and shape-shifted into flight-dragon form. Glided down the side of the cliff-face, she angled to the right out of view of the village. Finally, she found an updraft, popped into it, and soon landed in the Grove. A Warden was waiting for her.
“This is for you.” He handed her a blade.
“Oh, it’s beautiful.” It was carved black dragonbone. With it was a sheath of dragonhide on a belt that fit perfectly around her waist. “Who is it?”
“The Matriarch Risa O’Niell. She died at the Battle of Rothgon.”
Namea kissed the hilt. “It’s too good to use on that bad woman,” she breathed.
The Warden caressed her cheek. “It’s just the right thing to use on that bad woman. Hurry now, my queen. The Great Tree Egil is waiting.”
Namea carefully wound the belt around her waist, positioned it just so, and put the knife in the sheath. She pulled it and put it back several times, until the movement was natural.
She started and then ran towards the clearing that was Egil’s. When she burst into that open space, the portal was already wide open.
Hurry. Lugad is waiting in O’Niell.
Namea darted through and emerged into another clearing.
A branch dropped a scrap of cloth to the ground before her. Namea shape-shifted into tracker form. In many respects, a wolf-like form, with the keen sense of smell. And yet, a dragon. In many respects, like a low-slung creature of the Dark Realm with the ability to slide through the smallest apertures. And yet, a dragon.
She inhaled the scent, devoured the scrap. That bad woman, Moira, would not be able to hide from her.
A Warden spoke. “They entered the Keep on 15-Level, and went to the lilac den there. They seem to be waiting.”
“How do I get there?”
“I will guide you. But I cannot enter. Only you can prevail against her.”
“Why only me?”
“Because you are a child, and she will not realize how dangerous you are until it’s too late.”
“I don’t like killing people.”
The warden hugged her. “Of course not. Nice people don’t like killing. But sometimes you have to in order to save other people. Remember the little boy.”
“Can I keep the Risa blade?”
“He’s just a little boy.”
“Littler than you.”
Namea pouted. “Okay. I’ll save him. But I’m not going to like him. Boys are gross.”
She reached up and took the warden’s hand.