Originally published at Necia Phoenix. You can comment here or there.
I’m very close to hitting NaNo, despite some unexpected shit tossed my way this month. I’ll try to put it into words later, suffice to say this month didn’t go quite as planned. Anyways, would you like a dragon snip? Have I mentioned I lurvs my dragons? 😀
Just remember, this is NaNo rough. It needs a good scrubbing. I know this. Enjoy;
Miranda was preparing to return to their quarters, when a sound from the entry ledge caught her attention. Dmitri stood still, watching the tunnel, his hands clenching and un-clenching at his sides. Khal and Lita moved behind him. Three males stepped into the hall. The man in front was pale, broad shouldered in clothes that were worn and patched. His hair fell to his shoulders and looked tousled, unwashed. He wore a blade at his side, and he rested his hand on the hilt. They strode in silence, looking neither right nor left, stopping several lengths from Dmitri.
“I’ll be damned.” Someone whispered. The hunters gathered creating a loose circle around the newcomers.
“Brenon.” Dmitri inclined his head, his low voice carrying over the room. Muffled gasps filled the room. Miranda nibbled her lower lip. Should she go over or stand to the stay where she was? She glanced at Jor, but the other woman had her eyes locked on the Outlander and his people.
“Dmitri, its been a long time.” Brenon’s voice was deep, similar to Dmitri’s though his was rougher. He looked around, narrowing his eyes when he saw Miranda, then looked at Dmitri. “Lots of whispers about you in the Outlands. Lots of eyes on the Keep, wondering if you’ve got a chance in hell.”
“You’re not here to discus whispers and rumors, brother.” Dmitri said. “Why are you here?”
Brenon gave a bark of laughter. Some of the hunters shifted uneasily. Was this going to be a challenge? Miranda wanted to ask someone, but all eyes were on the two males. Brenon lifted a rolled scroll. “You have a working office. There are many eyes in here.”
“Say what you have to say here, Brenon.” Dmitri crossed his arms.
They regarded each other.
“You’ve caught the attention of the Thalsbren. Even the human nations are beginning to notice. Gaeno is old, weak, bitter about his lack of advancement with Lothos and Otto.” Brenon ran his hand over the scroll. “He’s approached me, so did Hesh and Rilo, and several others who have since fallen. You’ve made a dent, a huge one, in Lothos old crew.”
“Get to the point brother.” Dmitri snarled. His skin mottled, swirls of blue-grey just below the surface.
“The alliances are lining up, between you and Gaeno.”
“We know this!” Jor snapped. Dmitri held up a hand and Brenon nodded.
“We, the Outlanders, have held off giving any of you our support.” Brenon held up the scroll. “Gaeno wanted us to ally with him, until I gave him our terms.”
Dmitri said nothing.
“How many contenders have you fought, since you made your stake?”
Dmitri looked towards Jor who was frowning as she strode over.
“Nintey four.” She said.
“What are you, made of steel?” The male asked incredulously.
“I wish.” Dmitri gave a crooked grin. “It’d hurt less when I get hit.”
Brenon gave a bark of laughter and held out the scroll, unrolling it and walking over to the table. “The elders will call for a count, see whose support you’ve garnered, once at the contenders are down.” He set the scroll down and Miranda could see it was a detailed set of maps. Brenon pointed at Dmitri. “You need the Outlanders. Every other contender, and I’ve lost count, has come to me, begging me for my backing. Giving nothing and promising nothing in return.” He spat on the floor. “Every single one of those slithering worms hid from father and Otto. You haven’t come to me, and you’re the only one who had the gall to stand up to the old man.” Brenon pointed at an odd marking on the map. “Give us back Syrteca, and the Outlanders will back you.”
Someone gave a long low whistle.
“That’s a fools task.” Lita said.
“Syrteca was one of the first taken.” Dmitri didn’t look at the map, his eyes were locked on Brenon. “The queen has dug in deep.”
Brenon nodded. “Do it, brother, and we’re yours.”
Dmitri’s eyes narrowed. Miranda could see several others shaking their heads, even Brenon’s men didn’t look optimistic.
“Done.” Dmitri said finally. Whispers ran through the onlookers. Brenon nodded grinning slowly.
“If anyone can do it, you can.” Brenon stepped forward, arm out.
They gripped arms, and after a moment Brenon pulled Dmitri into a rough embrace, said something in his ear, turned and strode out, his fellows close behind him. The silence stretched, all eyes on Dmitri. He leaned over the map, hands on the table, staring at it.
“There is no way to dislodge a queen, Dmitri.” Lita said. “It’s a death wish.”
He made no response, moved one of the maps.
“Dmitri, how could you agree to that?” She pressed. He looked at her, the mottling was back. She stepped back.
“Malice, Lita, take a scouting trip around Syrteca. Keep low, and don’t be noticed.” He said after a long silence. He rolled the scrolls up and glanced around the room before leaving.
Have a great weekend!
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