Chapter 2: The Flatlander



Verd. It’s such an odd little word in the Ravrra’Saar, or “Dragon Speak.” It refers to young ape males. The closest word to it in your tongue would be “boy,” an ugly little word for an ugly little thing. I’d never expected to find much use for it in a place like the Antwalker Desert. I did spew plenty of other profanities on my way to the Tomb.

“Hcraa! Yhivuxii’xha’izh.”

The Antwalker Desert was a vast expanse of red sand and redder clay. Many dwarves here made a meager living amongst the dunes. Their kind have a funny habit of borrowing their homes into the ground, as opposed to the more common ape custom of building on top of it. Dwarves claimed their downward building habits brought longevity. I always assumed it was to spare the effort of hauling stone and mortar. The Antwalker Desert’s most noteworthy landmark was such a hole, a borrow known as the Tomb of the Selfless. Like the countless other dwarven dwellings here, the Tomb was dug, sweat and sculpted into an almost impressive feat of architecture hidden underfoot. Its entrance lay at the end of a dried up riverbed. It was the only part of the Tomb visible above ground, and the only way in or out.

This was the final resting place for many of Tygan’s most famous braves, including the Tomb’s star resident, loved by the world and hated by me. Davies the Kind.

This glorified fruit cellar for the dead would offer decent protection for any thieves seeking refuge. Unfortunately for them, decent wasn’t enough to stop me. The Tomb appeared in front of me. As I neared the ground, my wings kicked up a red cloud of clay dust. The cloud swept down down the riverbed leading to the Tomb. I roared, hoping if the pair was hiding there, they would hear me.

“Thieves! Don’t think any hole is deep enough to save you from me!”

I braced myself for the clamor of the Tomb’s guards. Six of them usually protected the crypts, and they were the one thing I dreaded about this trip. Not that they would provide any meaningful challenge. It’s just chasing them off so they wouldn’t interfere would have been such a terrible bore. But two things caught my eye as I drew closer to the Tomb. One, its massive doors were locked and chained from the outside. Two, my nostrils were assailed by the smell of rotting flesh, backed in the Antwalker sun these last few days. It turned out I didn’t have to chase the guards off. The dead are in no condition to run.

I found them when I landed on the riverbed leading to the Tomb. Strewn between me and the locked double doors were six bodies. Stranger still were five of these guards had died with their weapons still sheathed, as if they’d been cut down by someone they trusted.

Trust was the least of the sixth victim’s worries. I found their remains in the riverbed, and out of the riverbed, and on the rocks, and on the sand. A sword was still clutched in their severed hand. They’d put up a fight, and earned themselves extra punishment for their trouble. The one distinguishing feature on this mound of gore was not the mark of a blade, but of claws. The wounds were of an almost surgical precision, cutting right through joints and tendons until this sap fell to pieces.

One of the five bodies lay near the doors. It was in slightly better condition than the rest as this body still breathed. The barely living guard lay sprawled on his back, his skin reddened from hours of baking in the sun. He sat in the middle of a dark red circle of blood mixed with sand. His had been emptying his body pump by pump since the slaughter here. The soon to be corpse already stank of rot, and his decaying muscles had left him stiff. When he turned his head to look at me, his joints made a peculiar grinding sound, like someone trying to loosen a wedged in screw.

“You…,” he said.

“You were expecting maybe your god?” I asked.

“She told us not to kill you,” the guard wheezed out.

Then the guard went to oblivion, leaving me alone and confused as ever outside the Tomb of the Selfless. It seemed the guards were not only expecting me, but they weren’t even planning to fight. But if not that, what was their plan?

Whoever did this left their footprints behind, painted onto the sand with the blood they stepped in. At first I thought the soldier and wizard had turned on their kind, but it was not so. A party of six had committed the crime, four of whom wore battered leather shoes common in the peasantry.

A fifth member left behind armored footprints so pristine that they almost passed for art. These were the tracks of a knight who, so it seemed, was partial to littering. Sitting in their footprints was a small tin can, about the size of a fist. A coarse green concoction dripped sluggishly out the top, running thick as molasses with an odor like fresh bile. The wealthy used this product to shape their hair. Apparently they didn’t mind the stink as long as it made them sightly. It was also still wet, so whatever had happened here was recent.

Then there was the sixth member of the party, apparently the one who’d claimed the sixth victim. Unlike the rest, these blood laced footprints did not belong to any ape. They belonged to some kind of upright walking beast. All sets of bloody footprints tracked up to the now closed doors.

I approached the chained up double doors leading to the underground crypt. Locking them from the outside was as useless  gesture as any to deter looters. A visible lock can always be picked. What’s more the guards lived in the crypt. With their own quarters, they’d no reason to lock the doors anywhere but inside the Tomb. Whoever was responsible for this butchery had done this, but who, or what, were they trying to keep inside?

There was only one way to find out. I snapped the chain and pulled the doors open.

The Tomb was lit mostly by torches, but also a little penetrating sunlight. A series of small holes, about the size of my eye, were punched into the Tomb’s ceiling. They were so placed that on certain days of the year, sunlight would shine on a particular crypt on the anniversary of it’s occupant’s passing. The beams of daylight were highlighted by the dust filled. They looked sharp enough to slice right through my scales.

Ahead were the first crypts. It was immediatly clear that some earned special favor. The less prominent hadn’t received the same care as those more economically endowed. Even among the revered dead, short shrift was given to the impoverished.

The crypt also had a new occupant. Another fresh corpse rested a few feet from the door. They wore a once white shirt that years of sweat had turned yellow. The corpse’s head was imploded beneath the force of a blunt, angry weapon. This wasn’t a guard. More like a dock worker. The stench of saltwater and salmon covered their rotted leather soles, soles still browned from stepping in blood. This was not a victim, but one of the killers.

I was suddenly hit by a wall stink, not from the corpse but something worse. I was battered by the overwhelming odor of perspiration, stale urine, dried manure and crusted vomit. It was enough to knock a Saar from the sky.

Then, down near the first set of crypts, a brief flicker of motion darted around a corner.

“Thieves? Is that you?” I growled. “Come here.”

The footsteps stumbled at my voice. There was fear and confusion in the way they moved, almost as if each little footfall was a whimper. It had to be the thieves, I thought. Such luck that we’d arrive so close together, right when I was in most need of vengeance.

I tried to pursue them deeper inside, but the first tunnels leading into the crypt were terribly narrow. Digging through would bring the entire lot crashing down.

“Damn dwarven burrows,” I grumbled.

I went outside to look through the Tomb’s perforated ceiling. I followed every little footstep to ever little hole trying to find the mysterious runner.

“I know you’re in there. Come here.”

When I didn’t receive an answer, I asked again with a burst of fire through the holes. A jet of flame shot through the narrow hole, racing down the hall and out the front entrance, burning the deceased sailor to a crisp.

“Unless you want that to be you, come here.” I said.

I heard the sailor’s corpse sizzle like meat on a skillet. It was still more talkative than the mysterious runner.

“My patience is wearing thin!” I roared. “I’m warning you, unless you want to further piss me off, you’d better come here!”

Whoever was inside wasn’t terribly considerate of my patience. The mysterious runner only retreated further into the temple. They didn’t get far. I rushed out ahead of their little footsteps and smashed my fist through the ground-level roof. The opening spilled morning on the creature inside. I thrust my head through the fresh hole.

Inside, I found no thieves. Instead I found a boy.


He was a young little thing of but 15 years, though I could barely tell. He was so covered in dust and sweat that he looked less like an ape and more like a lizard that had just crawled from its hole. Red clay dust had stained his matted hair and grime covered clothing. The only thing on him in remotely good condition was his weapon, a large Morningstar mace he held at the ready. He’d already crudely cleaned it. I could tell by the streaks of blood and gray matter running down the front of his pants. The most striking thing about him though were his eyes. They were a deep, wealthy amber. When the irises captured the sunlight, they almost glowed. Even bathed in shadow, the two orbs were candles in the dark. I’d only ever seen such eyes once, long ago.

“Who the hell are you?” I asked.

The boy stammered heavily when he spoke. There was fear in his voice but also a little shyness, like a child forced to introduce themselves before a class full of strangers.

“Who…who’s asking?”

I backed from the hole, flaring up my wings to catch the light.

Zhyx the Red Dragon meets River

“The Great Red Wyrm is asking.”

Amber was no longer the most visible color in the boy’s eyes once he knew which Saar he was talking to. They bulged so wide, all I could see was white.

“Oh. Oh shit. I’m…uh…nobody important,” he said.

“I can tell.”

“You…you gonna kill me?” he asked.

“Depends.” I leaned down to the little Flatlander. “Should I?”

The boy shuffled away from me. “No! No, please. I like dragons. Really, I do.”

Though the boy still trembled, he was also in awe. It was common for the cornered to attempt flattery. Many a thief attempted to woo me with poems and songs so they might see another day. They were all falsehoods designed to hide their fear. This boy’s wonder was genuine. Blended with his fear was the same wonder many had about them when they first saw my hoard.

I looked deep into the boy’s amber filled eyes. “I’ve seen eyes like yours before. You’re a Flatlander. You’re an entire ocean from home.”

“My mother gave me these,” he said.

“So your father was not a Flatlander?” I asked.

When I uttered “father,” the boy became something primordial. His face twisted into a grotesque sculpture of hate and despair. The boy dodged my question.

“Why you here?” he asked.

“Why are you here, verd?”

“Vv…verd?” he asked.

“Verd. That’s what you are. It means ‘boy.’ It suits you. It sounds as foul as you smell,” I tilted my head over to the charred sailor’s corpse. “That your work?”

“Yeah, but only him. Slight and the others killed the rest,” the boy said. Suddenly, he became curiously excited. He carried the familiar zeal of bloodlust when he asked me “Is that why you’re here? You want to kill Sir Slight Fairborn?”

“I know of no Slight Fairborn.”

“Oh, you should,” the boy said. “He’s a dragonslayer. Real bad one too. I’ll help you find him.”

The boy’s offer made me laugh. “Are you a treacherous one? Giving up your fellows to save yourself.”

The boy hopped off his back. “He’s not my fellow.”

I sighed. “Well, as entertaining as blasting a dragonslayer into vapor would be, I’ve more pressing matters. I’m looking for someone, a woman soldier with a raven perched on a wolf  on her suit. She was with an elf who’s hair looked and smelled like a dead skunk. Have you seen them?”

The boy took a quick look around and let out his arms.

“There’s no one here,” the boy said.

I leaned back into the hole, once more frightening the boy onto his back.

“Don’t try to hide them, verd!” I roared.

“I’ve been stuck here alone for the last few days There’s no one here!” the boy cried. “I came here to kill that bastard, Slight. When I got here, the guards were dead, they were looting a grave, everything went wrong, I hid, and when they couldn’t find me they locked the doors and left me to die.”

“Looting a grave?” I asked. “Which one?”

“David the Nice or something,” said the boy.

“Davies the Kind?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s the name,” the boy answered. “Here. I’ll show…,”

I ripped the hole in the roof wider, showering the boy with dust and gravel as I stepped inside the cramped tomb.

“Would you be so kind?” I sneered at him.

“Be careful,” the boy warned. “There’s some monsters down there.”

The boy led me deeper into the Tomb. At first the tight, sandy corridors were barely enough for me to squeeze through. The deeper we went, however, the further the walls spread. Eventually the child took me into a tunnel, one so wide I could actually stand.

“You creatures sure loved this Davies character.” I said.

“How can you tell?” the boy asked.

“Because I can walk around in here.”

The tunnel was decorated with everything from torch to tapestry. On the ceiling was an elaborate raised mural depicting the life of Davies the Kind even as far back as his birth in Allan’s Meadow. Each step took us further through his years, before ending with Davies himself.

His coffin rested on a raised dais of rock, at the end of a narrow stone path in the center of a large pond. The surface of the pond was peppered with small model ships coasted in melted wax, the remains of long burned candles left by admirers.

Floating between the boats were four hollowed-out corpses, and not those of apes. These dried husks had four legs and two pincer like arms. The body itself was like a large grub, with a suction cup-like mouth with three black marble like eyes on either side. They weren’t small, at least by ape standards. Each one was about the size of the boy. The insides of the brittle corpses had withered away, leaving them both barren and buoyant.

I gagged at the grisly sight.


I took a step back, nearly making the Flatlander a good deal flatter.

“Hey, watch it!” the boy cried. He stumbled away, right into one of the hollowed corpse husks. He pulled his hand away from it, drenched up to his arm in orange puss.

“These your monsters?” I asked.

“Yeah.” the boy groaned as he wiped the puss away from himself. “They came in after the guards were killed. When they weren’t chasing me they were sucking the metal off the coffins.”

“Iron Feeders have insatiable appetites,” I said. “Crypts like this offer a quick meal. They must have gorged themselves to death and crawled down here to die.”

The tunnel spilled upwards into a large cupola. Depicted above was a thing so hideous it was a wonder the artist could bring themselves to sculpt it. Tentacles danced around its body, curling back like a thousand whips. Its jackal-like skull was covered in boils, peering out from the stone with a thousand eyes. Armored tendrils pierced the ground beneath it, holding it aloft like a drifting phantom.

Before this thing was the dwarf, holding aloft his famous Blade of Hope, a sword consumed in fire. Davies rode into battle not on the back of a horse, but on the back of the reason I so despised him. He rode on the back of a Saar, a dragon with scales as black as night and eyes as red as blood. The crude likeness hardly did the subject justice.

“What’s that?” the boy asked, pointing up to the monster.

I rolled my eyes. “Have you been living under a rock, verd?”

“When I’m lucky,” he said.

I must admit the answer flustered me a little. Anyone could tell at a glance he’d never been to school.

“That, Flatlander, is Assylyl, the Far One. He was named after the mad gibberish of the first poor soul to lay eyes on him. He came from a place outside of space and time, at least as we know it. He came hungry, so he satisfied himself by devouring entire cities, until he and his army were defeated.”

“What’s that spike up there?” he asked.

The boy had a keen eye. Disguised behind the gaggle of Assylyl’s many tendrils was an abstract pyramid-like shape. It loomed behind the monster like a throne, painted darker than the Far One himself.

“Artistic license,” I guessed.

Davies’ coffin sat overturned on the altar. The dwarf’s mummified hand poked out, broken when he’d been thrown from his resting place. The coffin was guarded by what’s commonly known as a pick-proof lock, something I’d seen in the possession of many would-be thieves. An enchantment guarded the lock, rendering it un-pickable. Only a key with a matching enchantment could ever open one, much like the one that still sat in the key hole.

The key was well worn. I recalled hearing tales of it going missing after some of Davies’ closest friends were robbed of it by blade point. It looked to have traded hands for hundreds of years.

“The sailors brought that with them,” the Flatlander explained. “Won it in a bet or something. Slight and this…monster made them unlock it to test it for traps.”

I flipped the coffin up to reveal Davies the Kind. The dwarf rested face-down on the altar, his rotted teeth shattered after his defenestration. I prodded him over with the touch of my claw. He no longer held the famous Blade of Hope, though he’d fought for it even in death. He’d only surrendered it after his mummified digits had broken off.

The sword itself had been dropped near the alter, or rather both halves of it. The cheap iron blade had broken away from the brass handle when the looters discarded it. The boy picked the handle and showed it to me. It was nothing impressive, a fairly common sword found often in dwarven smithing shops. Unlike most dwarven blades, the pommel had been carved to fit a gem of some kind. That pommel was now empty.

“They took a crystal out of here,” the boy said. “It was black, like glass from one of those picture windows.”

The Flatlander dropped it in my palm so I could take a closer look.

“They weren’t interested in the blade?” I asked.

“No. Just the crystal,” answered the Flatlander.

“Makes sense. It’s an ugly thing, anyway.”

I dropped the handle back to the boy’s feet.

“They were talking about some kind of ritual or…” the boy began.

“You say a monster came in with them?” I interrupted.

“Yeah. It was…tall, skinny. Its back was covered in these really sharp looking barbs. It always gritted its teeth like it was smiling. It couldn’t speak out of its mouth but talked in this other funny way, like…”

“Like from the back of its throat,” I finished.

“Right,” the boy answered.

“That was a Spiked Ravager, Flatlander. They come from The Southern Wilds below the Ankeerean jungle. Treacherous beasts, Ravagers. They’ll pose as guides, gain your trust, then come nightfall they rip your throat out and take your possessions. What could one be doing this far north? Did the others seem acquainted with it?”

The verd nodded. “Slight called it Citch. It pushed him around a lot. It always called him ‘Slight,’never ‘Sir Fairborn.’ He hates it when people do that. I once saw him cut someone’s tongue out for doing that.’”

“He sounds charming,” I said.

The boy picked up the handle of Davies’ blade and took a few swipes with it.

“Don’t waste your time, boy,” I said.

“I wanna see if the fire comes out,” he explained.

I looked back up to the mural, and to the Saar whom Davies rode.

“It won’t,” I told him. “It died with her.”

I turned from him and headed up the tunnel to the surface.

“No matter. My thieves will be along shortly, and this Tomb will soon be theirs.”

I started back up the tunnel. The Flatlander meanwhile picked up both pieces of the broken Blade of Hope. He returned them to Davies, and then, rather pitifully, tried to flip the coffin back in place. Though years of malnourishment had been kinder to him than most, he was still but a withered reed next to a five hundred pound coffin.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“We can’t just leave him like this,” the boy wheezed.

“I’d compare you to efforts to an ant, but ants are actually able to lift many times their weight,” I said.

“Watch me.”

The boy took a tone with me not many had ever dared. I don’t even think it was intentional, but after some time speaking with me, he’d apparently forgotten just who I was. I rapped my knuckle against his side, knocking him off the pathway and into the pond. The water washed away both the soot that covered him as well as his temper.

“What the hell was that for!?” he yelled.

“You smell,” I said before turning back up the tunnel.


My palm flattened something beneath the water. I withdrew my hand to find it slathered in orange liquid. In its center was the flattened carcass of another Iron Feeder. It was as big as the boy, but its color was strangely pinkish. The remains of its gel like egg sack covered its body. This one was young, recently laid sometime in the last few days. And Iron Feeders never lay just one egg.

“Hey there’s. There’s a…,” the boy stammered.


I felt an itching against my ankle. On it was another freshly hatched Iron Feeder. It’s tiny pincer arms had hooked into the grooves of my scales. It forced its proboscis into the gap in an attempt to feed, feed on me.

Graaaaa!” I roared.

I wrapped my fingers around it, closing them tight until it popped. Its rust-orange innards sprayed out between my knuckles. When the repulsive entrails hit the water, the entire pond erupted in foam. One after another, hundreds of Feeders squirmed from their shells that had been resting beneath the surface this entire time.

“What the hell is…” the boy began.

“It’s a nest.” I turned to the boy. “Out, Flatlander.”

The boy turned to the tunnel, but hesitated.

“You need help?” he asked.

“Don’t make me laugh,” I growled.

He seemed to get the message then. The Flatlander ran up the tunnel, back towards daylight.

The creatures adhered to my body in droves. They crawled up my legs and onto my back, spreading all over my wings like hot lead. I threw my back against the walls of the tomb, indiscriminately pulverizing whatever Feeders were there. I snatched up and squeezed several more of the creatures until they burst fistfuls of orange ooze. When more of them crowded on to slurp up the orange liquid, they met the same grisly end under my haunches. I struck myself, blow after blow against the wall until it was coated with the orange, iron-rich slime. One of them attempted to crawl into my mouth. With a single bite, one half of the creature fell away.

I spat the other half out of course. As I’ve mentioned, ape castes taste rather horrible, so you can imagine how sickening the taste of a creature who had gorged on their rotting flesh would be.

When a second wave came, they landed right in the path of my fire. As the flames splashed over them, the entire crypt filled with a hiss. Their metal rich bodies came to a boil as one by one they popped in fireworks of orange sludge. Most of the beasts died there, save one.

A single Iron Feeder, slick with its fellows’ innards, made its way into the tunnel. It was going after the boy.

The boy tried to outrun it, but the Iron Feeder’s four centipede-like legs quickly overcame the boy’s two. The creature made a nauseating gargling noise, flexing its suction cup mouth as it threw itself on the child. Flatlander and beast rolled overtop of one another, and when the monster had the boy pinned, it swallowed his arm up to the elbow.

The Iron Feeder’s eagerness surprised me. I’d never put something to unsanitary as the boy in my mouth.

The Iron Feeder flexed its suction cup mouth, trying to rip the boy’s arm off. The Flatlander wasn’t giving it up without a fight.

“Choke on it!” he yelled.

He grabbed the inside of the creature’s throat. With all the strength he had, he tore his arm free, ripping out the creature’s suction cup mouth along with a good portion of its esophagus. Orange ooze sprayed out from the mortally wounded monster, but the boy wasn’t content to just let it bleed to death. He pulled the Morningstar from his back, caving in the Iron Feeder’s head with one swift blow.

Then the Flatlander struck it again.

And again.

And again.

He broke away the creature’s limbs and smashed them to sludge. He shattered its segmented hide. He cracked the weapon down onto the creature’s neck until what was left of the head came off and kicked it away. He pummeled every single little piece of the creature, until it was reduced to a puddle of orange muck.

When he was finished turning his enemy into a puddle, the boy collapsed iron rich slop, completely covering himself in it as he desperately tried to catch his breath.

“You finished?” I asked.

The brief battle did little to rattle the madness out of him, for the next question he asked was one of unbound foolishness.

“You sure you don’t want to kill Slight?” he asked.

“Are we back to that again?” I groaned.

“No, seriously,” the boy argued. “He’s a real mean bastard. You know what he did whenever he found a dragon nest? He’d stomp on the eggs after he killed the parents, and he wasn’t any better with people! You get rid of him, you’ll be doing dragons a favor, and me.”

“You know, verd, it interests me. Just why would so pathetic a creature as you so relentlessly pursue this Slight to this place?”

At that, the child fell into morose silence. His eyes gazed far away as some unseen memory unfolded before him. The change in him was profound enough to shine through the crust that encased him. It was then I noticed just how curiously old the boy looked. He was only fifteen or so, but he had no youth. Just an imitation of it. It was as if someone had taken an old man and wrapped them in new flesh. I’d seen many apes who reached what by their standards would be considered old age. The wizard who’d enchanted my treasure must have been a hair over one hundred years old. In spite of his youth, I swear the Flatlander looked older. And the story he told was just as aged.

“He killed my mother.”

I chuckled. “You dragged yourself out to this pit for revenge? How dull.”

The boy slowly stood up. Blobs of orange Iron Feeder innards ran down his body and into the water. He wiped his hand across his face, cleaning it of orange sludge before he flung it off against the nearby wall.

“Isn’t that what you’re here for?” he asked.

I snapped my teeth at the boy, showering him in a flurry of hot sparks. The boy raised his hands up to cover himself as the bright little speckles of white rained down around him, sizzling as they hot the water.

“That’s irrelevant, verd,” I growled. “Know this. I am of the great elder race that first blessed Tygan’s skies. My powers are without equal. My intellect more than your kind’s most celebrated geniuses. I can burn entire forests, glass entire deserts, consume cities and reduce the greatest of mountains to puddles of magma. I do not kill on request. I kill who I wish, when I wish!”

The boy became enraged. He turned from me with a jaw clenched so tightly that his molars looked fit to shatter.

“You’re an asshole,” he said.

“If you want to be brief.” I said through bared teeth. “Now, if you would be so kind as to deprive this asshole of your company, be gone. I’ll wait here for my thieves to arrive.”

The boy holstered his Morningstar and headed towards the Tomb’s entrance. He only got a few paces up the tunnel before he stopped.

“What if they don’t come?” he asked.

“They’ll be along,” I told him. “They were kind enough to leave me a map.”

The boy thought for a moment.

“What if it’s a trick?” the boy asked.

“No tricks. They’ll be here,” I said.

“No, really. That’s an old trick. Slight used to brag about it all the time. You leave behind a map sending someone in the opposite direction of where you’re going,” the boy explained.

“The guard outside knew I was coming,” I said.

“So?” the boy asked. “Maybe they told the guards you’d be coming so they wouldn’t get themselves killed.”

“Thieves have been trying to plunder me for the last several centuries and not once has everyone ever tried such a trick,” I said.

“Maybe the others just never got far enough,” the boy said.

The dying guard’s final words came back to me.

She told us not to kill you.

It pained me to admit, but the runt’s thinking was sound. The map was sitting out in the open right where they’d taken off on their griffins. The footprint made it look like it had been dropped in haste, but that may have been simply to keep the wind from snatching it. The guards did know I was coming, and they’d been told by this Major Arietta to give me a message. Thanks to this boy’s dragonslayer friend, they’d been unable to. It was a decent little scheme. Send me over to an unpopulated area so the threat would be minimal, and make sure those who met me would send me off to wherever the thieves needed me next.

I’d been played with, but I wasn’t going to continue their game.

“Hcraa,” I cursed. “No one makes a fool of me!”

The boy shied away at my voice’s thunder. I paced around the hall, back and forth, racking my brain to find a solution to the problem. There were many farmhouses, townships and cities in this region. The pair could have gone to any one of them, and that’s if they even decided to stay near populated areas. They may well have been out there, in the wilderness, hiding under some rock that I’d normally never give a second look. The only thing that would bring them to a populated area was if they needed something.

Just like the wizard needed with his Arcane Fatigue.

“Blood,” I said. “That little wizard will need blood.”

“What does that mean?” the boy asked.

“There’s only one city that would dare sell dragon blood so close to me,” I answered.

I ran down the tunnel and back to the hole I’d left in the Tomb’s ceiling. With my wings spread, I leapt away from the red sands of the Antwalker desert.

“Where you going?” asked the Flatlander.

“”No concern to you, verd!” I roared back to him. “Since you’re so fond of rocks, why don’t you find another one to crawl under!”

“But what about this? What about Slight?” he called.

“I’ll deal with him after the thieves!”