Vlada’s Sun Tower was nothing like Sereg’s Grey Tower when it came to the layout of rooms and corridors but their transporter panels were nearly identical. All Kangassk needed to do to get to the dining hall was to press a certain button on the crystal terminal. It bore a familiar spoon-like symbol and, yes, it did take him where he thought it would.
Minutes later, Kan joined the star children at the dining table. Orion the human and, surprisingly, Ainan Smalt were here too.
Poor Ainan looked like he had no idea why he had been invited. Kangassk felt just as awkward and out of place but for a different reason: thoughts of Edna and her sudden disappearance were heavy on his mind.
“Ainan, any news of the girl that had given us the poison recipe?” Orion the son of stars turned to the young mage.
“No, my lord,” Ainan shook his head.
“Poor child…” said Aster with a sigh. “She still thought we would hurt her...”
Kangassk took a long sip from his cup, the only thing he could hide his face behind at the moment.
“Alas...” Orion shrugged. “But it doesn’t matter. She was a member of the team our thief considered expendable. I doubt that she knew much. We already have our witness and all the clues we need.”
Orion, Meralli’s descendant, waved his hand, announcing that he was the person in question.
“Lord Orion, lady Aster, I beg your pardon…” That was Ainan. “I’m sorry to interrupt you but I thought that it might be important.”
“We’re listening,” said Aster.
“Well, on my way here, I heard people in the city speak about a dragon someone saw this morning. They describe it as an emerald-green creature about the size of a man.”
Silence followed his words, promptly broken by a loud crunch when Orion the human bit into another biscuit.
“Too many dragons…” muttered Kan from behind his cup he was still holding in both hands.
“What do you mean?” Aster turned to him, her azure eyes sparkling with curiosity.
“Yellow dragons were destroyed by Vlada’s people, the Wanderers, in my city. The vitryanik I killed took a dragon shape to fight me. Emerald dragons followed Uvel after captain Ptarmika died. And now this one… Dragons used to be a stuff of legends and now they’re everywhere. I wonder why?”
Orion the son of stars leaned back comfortably in his chair, crossed his arms on his chest, and gave Kangassk a curious look.
“I’m not a dragon expert,” he said, “but I know that dragons love anomalies of all kinds. I also see a pattern here, kid: all dragon sightings from the last twenty years have been connected to you one way or another.”
“What? Do I look like an anomaly to you?” Kangassk tried to laugh it off but couldn’t for some reason.
“No, not to me. To dragons.” Orion’s confidence in the matter remained unruffled. He turned to Ainan. “What else do people say about the dragon?” he asked.
“I heard that it had circled the Sun Tower several times before flying away.”
“Interesting…” Orion lowered his eyes, pondering the situation.
“Very,” wholeheartedly agreed Aster. “Damn, I wish we had time to investigate the matter! Another sentient race is trying to contact us and we must deal with this Hora Thief instead of reaching back to them!”
Kangassk’s thoughts went back to Edna again, to her escape, to the words she had said to him. He threw everything - all his guesses, all his doubts - at his cold obsidian, hoping for denial or maybe indifferent silence at least, but the soothstone was relentless in confirming the connection.
Yes, Edna was one of the dragon people that captain Ptarmika had told her grandson about. And, yes, her interest in Kangassk - the very reason why she helped him, why she liked him - had the same source as did the yellow dragons’ interest in Aren-Castell.
But why had she come to him last night? Why would she ever do such a cruel thing to herself? And to him as well... That was a puzzle Kangassk could not even touch.
Thinking of it, he lost track of the conversation at the table. When he realized it, he felt that it was time for him to start paying attention unless he wanted to be asked awkward questions.
“Orion,” the son of stars addressed his mortal namesake, “you mentioned that your master’s name was Kangassk. Was this thief, Max-Milian, his apprentice as well?”
“What? No-ho-ho!” the mortal Orion laughed. “If we count you, Del-Emer,” he pointed at Kan,” I know eleven Kangassks. Five of them are women, by the way. Sainar just gives that stupid name to all his kids…” That said, he bit into another biscuit.
“Who’s Sainar?” asked Kan.
The question, both sudden and gravely serious, had nearly made Ziga’s descendant choke on his treat.
“Your father, of course!” he said, astonished. “Don’t you tell me you don’t know…”
“I don’t know,” Kan kept his serious tone. “Tell me about him.”
“Well, his full name is Sainarnemershghan Saidonatgarlyn. He also goes by a pen name Hansai Donal...”
“No way…” said the son of stars with a burst of nervous, unhappy laughter. “That’s the man whose heathenish scribblings our poor Sereg hates so much. Well, well, Omnis is a small world indeed…”
“Okaaaaay…” the mortal Orion resolutely pushed the bowl with biscuits away, ready for a serious talk. “Looks like I’ll have to tell you all a very long story…”
(August 2004 - February 6, 2006)
(translated into English in 2020)
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