“Dworkin,” she said, “you asked us to meet you. What’s going on?”
“I have something to show you, hatchlings. But you have to be quiet, silent as a breeze past a rabid wyvern. Can you do that?”
He was answered by a series of solemn nods, and a stifled sneeze from Raziel. Dworkin stared at them for a long second, then nodded.
“Come,” he said. “You’re all my grandchildren, you should be able to keep quiet for a few minutes.”
Kayelinth blinked at him, and said “We’re your -?”
Dworkin glared at her, and she closed her mouth with a snap.
“Come quietly,” Dworkin said.
The cave mouth was close, barely a wingspan above the ledge where they had landed, but it was hidden behind a screen of thorny brush and several large boulders. Dworkin slipped easily past, leaving the younger dragons to shove their way through the brambles. Keirax hung back, and let Shinya and Quiendrix go first. Amethyst and Gold clan dragons tended to be get their growth spurt earlier than most f the other clans, so the two of them were the largest.
They walked for almost an hour through the mountain, the tunnel twisting and turning until Keirax was completely disoriented. Eventually, Dworkin stopped them. He motioned at the walls, and after a second or so of utter confusion, Keirax saw that there were pinholes of light coming through the stone wall. Raziel and Phosphorentz had already moved forward to look through the spy-holes. Typical, thought Keirax. I should be that sneaky. She carefully edged forward and looked through one of the holes.
Below them, the main discussion hall of the Dragon Council spread out. Tables loaded with roasted meat, pies, and fruit stood along every wall, and a small group of dragons were gathered in the centre of the room. The great, golden double doors on the far side of the room were shut and barred. The Elders of the Dragon Council were in session. Keirax drew a sharp breath, and glanced at her companions; all were staring through the spyholes, silent as ghosts. She looked back at the room.
The Amethyst Clan elder said, “Alright, Meyaneth, we’re locked down. Now, what did the sea-folk envoy have for us? Is it true?”
The Bronze Clan elder, Meyaneth, said, “They confirmed the rumours. The Ghost Elves have found a clue to the location of the Left Eye.”
The rest of the elders mantled their wings in excitement or agitation, then the Amethyst elder spoke again. “And? Are they going to go after it?”
The Copper Clan elder raised her crest, and said excitedly, “Could we form a joint expedition if they are?”
“Always the adventurer, Tramantin,” said Meyaneth. “You know we couldn’t go personally even if they were going, and they’re not. The sea-folk have no interest in the Eye, except to tell us about it as per the treaty. But the surface elves and the Ghost Elves will both be sending parties after it.”
“I know my fellow councillors are eager to get to the meat of the news,” said the Sapphire Clan elder, “but I, for one, would like to hear the story from the beginning.”
“Seconded,” said the Gold Clan elder, and the Silver Clan elder raised a claw in support.
Meyaneth said, “There isn’t much to tell. You know that the Ghost Elves have been sending archaeology teams to the drowned cities? One of the submarine crews found a hidden library while they were digging around. The crew brought back images of carvings on the walls which indicate the gem’s location. One of the goblin slaves in the crew gossiped about it, and the story got out to the sea-folk and the surface elves that way. The details are in Tashki’s report.”
“Alright, good,” said the Amethyst elder. “I move that we table this for further discussion. We’ll need to consider the composition of any team we send, and I’m sure we could all do with a day or two to confer with our clans.”
The Gold Clan elder nodded, and said, “As long as we come back to it within three days, or the elves will get there first.”
The Sapphire Clan elder said, “Done. Now, can we talk about the old Ruby fishing grounds?”
Keirax started as Dworkin tapped her on the shoulder. He pointed back the way they had come, and she nodded. She started back out of the caves, with the rest of the group trailing after her. She didn’t speak untilt hey were back outside in the afternoon sunlight.
“Why did you want us to hear that,” Keirax asked.
Quiendrix added, “And how did you know when they would be talking about it?”
Dworkin just tapped one claw on the side of his snout, and said, “Do any of you know what the Left Eye of the Serpent is?”
Phosphorentz said, “Is it a gem?”
Shinya and Quiendrix laughed at him, but Dworkin nodded.
“It is. A magical gem. It’s one of the seven lost treasures of the Zodiac Dragons. I’d heard rumours in the aether that it had turned up again.”
Phosphorentz squealed in delight, “It is a gem. I knew it! I knew it! I knew it!”
Raziel asked, “What are the other six? And what kind of magic does it do?”
“It’s the kind of magic that should be wielded by young dragons with a bit of imagination, not old stuffy-headed fools like the council,” said Dworkin. “The power to change the world. or at least, to move to one where it has been changed. Or to create one where the change was always that way. Something like that. I forget. And immortality.”
‘What are the other six items,” said Shinya.
“The Right Eye of the Serpent, the Day Blade and the Night Blade, the Chalice, the Mask, and the Flute,” said Dworkin.
“So, two gems, two swords, a cup, a mask, and a flute,” said Quiendrix, making notes.
“Each item can find the others,” he said, “so you should hurry.”
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