There were few things more obvious than a Dragon taking off from the middle of a cornfield.
Morgan Murdoch, Behold-the-Sprawl, hadn’t been out looking for Dragons. Hunting down Nedetakaei was not in her job description, inasmuch as she had a description or a job; she left that to the Mara and their offspring.
No, she had been beholding something far less common, these days, than the cities that had Named her (in a time when such places were rare, new, and far smaller than they were now), a wide stretch of farming community that seemed untouched by hard times.
She had been on her way to Detroit from Portland, taking her time about it. She hated highway driving, but the long stretches of Midwest road were a joy to travel, cruising along at a speed that sometimes seemed magical even to her. She no longer needed much sleep at all, and the moonlit fields were beautiful to watch.
The Dragon… that had been a surprise. She had actually pulled over to the side of the road to watch it. It was a juvenile, she thought, less than five hundred years old from its wingspan, and laden with… something. A quick Working had determined that what it was laden with was two unconscious halfbreed Ellehemaei, not yet adults from the looks of them (although it was harder to tell, with the halfbreeds, and “adult” was, among humans, such a random and vague term).
Interesting. More interesting than a Dragon taking off was what it had been doing there in the first place; more interesting than that were the wards Morgan found when she began to search the area. They were very tight, very specific, and very strong wards, designed to keep Ellehemaei from coming too close to…
… to exactly what, Morgan wasn’t sure. She could have unwound the wards, although it would have taken her a bit of time, but then the Nedetakaei inside would have know she was there. Instead, she settled down within her own warded bubble of invisibility, and watched. Watching was something she was very, very good at; she’d been doing it for a very long time.
She saw the halfbreed boy speeding away after the Dragon, and noted it with some interest. He bore a resemblance to the two the creature had taken; were they a family? Gender was a nonissue with the Dragons, of course, as was physical appearance. But an assumption at this date would be premature.
She watched the Nedetakaei lair for some time later, and saw the halfbreed boy returning with the two children, bloody and beaten, the girl seeming to bleed liquid blue sapphires.
Very interesting. The halfbreeds did, she had to admit, come with some very intriguing Changes, but she’d never before seen one that bled sapphires. She wondered if the girl had a propensity for eperu, or if it was merely a cosmetic Change.
More than that, she wondered what was going on within those wards. A Dragon flying off with a couple of its own whelps, that was nothing new, nor was the battered state of those whelps when it was done. But the Nedetakaei didn’t make halfbreeds the way the Shenera Endraae did. There was something strange going on here, even if it was only the farming of halfbreeds for their sick twisted purposes. Morgan kept watching.
She could go a number of days without eating, longer without growing impatient, but her stomach and her patience were both at their limits when she saw the Viking halfbreed ride away from the school. Now this, this was interesting. Aelfgar might only be a whelp by her terms, but he was no Nedetakaei; the warrior was known to all of the elder Shenera Endraae. He was one of their strongest soldiers, a man with more kills under his belt than many Mara had years behind them. There was no way he had gone to the enemy.
If he had not gone over to the enemy, then something else was going on. Making sure she was far enough behind to not be detected by anyone less skilled than she herself, Morgan started her car and followed the Viking.
Copyright © 2009-2011 Lyn Thorne-Alder with Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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