William and Ami borrowed the house outside Everfier for their wedding. They’d initially been hesitant about being in the Overcurrent for it, but their desire to have Rick and his family there was strong enough to outweigh their concerns. The house was secluded enough to give them privacy, but still close enough to a major city to make traveling easier. Easier for Ami’s parents, too, who Risa and Zane escorted there from the Mid-grounds.
The other benefit of having the ceremony outside of a city was that there would be fewer people to pick up on the fact that the Dragon Lord was attending. Risa wasn’t sure if he’d been invited because Ami and William felt obligated to or because they actually wanted to thank him for all the help. Maybe both.
(Note: SO sorry for being so floppy lately! I’m hopeful things will be back on track now. Next week’s update should be out on Oct 7th or 8th, depending on how my travels go on the 7th. Then I’ll be housesitting for all of that weekend with nothing to do but write, basically, so I’m hoping to make a significant dent in the rest of the story.)
Zane let his tail lift and fall as he sat watching the activity in the hallway. It wasn’t very often that he found himself in hospitals. They were full of activity, noise, and so many smells. Both smells that tempted him (ie, fresh blood) and those that repulsed him (ie, medicine). Overcurrent hospitals had less artificial chemicals floating about than those in the Mid-grounds, but they did have pungent herbal concoctions. Sometimes, he wasn’t sure which was worse.
Speaking of… He used one of his wolf-form’s paws to rub at his snout. It didn’t lessen the sting of whatever awful thing was in the jar that passing doctor was carrying.
When he looked up, he saw that he was being watched by the guards at the end of the hall. He wasn’t surprised. At least one guard had been watching him since he entered the hospital.
(Note 8/27: I made a small edit to the beginning of the second part of this update. After sleeping on it, I realized that the reason for the trip had never really made it out of my head and it might be a little confusing.)
Liam fidgeted in his seat and resisted the urge to look back in the direction Aubrey had gone. Doing so would have dramatically increased the chances of him making eye contact with one (or worse, both) of Aubrey’s parents. He didn’t want that. He also didn’t want to be fidgeting. What if they could tell he was doing that? What if they thought poorly of him for it?
Don’t let them smell your fear.
“I swear this drake gets cuter every time I see her,” Ami said, reaching out to rub a finger against said drake’s cheek.
Nyx let out a low grumble and stood, turning around before settling down again on the couch behind Zane’s head. With her head facing away from the humans this time.
“Zane’s her favorite,” Risa commented with a laugh. She petted the feather-tipped tail that was hanging between her and Zane.
It was Liam that opened the door. Rick hadn’t told him that he was coming over or why. He’d considered it, but had ultimately decided that that might make the situation more stressful. This way, at least, he hadn’t felt pressured to talk to the demon. He still could back out, make an excuse for why he was there, and try again another day. Liam was smiling as he invited him in. It made Rick feel a bit bad that he actually wasn’t there to spend time with his friend. Maybe after he spoke with the demon.
Rick swallowed to keep the sick feeling from making him change his mind when he saw the demon. He was sitting on a couch in the living room, one hand holding an open book, the other stroking the back of the small drake that was curled up in his lap. The drake had her head lifted to look at Rick. The demon didn’t turn, but Rick knew he was also watching him.
“Do you think he’s alright?” Aubrey asked.
“I doubt she’ll kill him,” Zane answered. “Angry as she is, she must still realize the benefit of having a relative in such an important position.”
“Maybe,” Aubrey responded.
“You don’t think so?” The demon asked.
It had been a few days of ceremonies and speeches to honor the deceased. None of which Zane had attended since there were a good many people uncomfortable with his presence. Not that he was interested in going to any of them anyway. It would have been more of a blessing if that didn’t mean he was stuck in a room with Aubrey, Nico, and the little drake every time that Risa, her siblings, Liam, and the dragons attended one of those events. William and Ami had (together and separately) stopped by often enough to make it bearable, at least.
Of course, ceremonies weren’t the only things that the Overcurrent Council was spending its time on. Their speaker’s death left a rather desirable position unclaimed, a fact which lead to a considerable amount of squabbling over who should take his place.
It was something like déjà vu for him. The arguments, as relayed to him by Risa during rants, were more or less the same ones he’d heard while he was helping Tobias take the speaker position for himself. It felt strange to be observing all of this from a distance. He felt antsy, like he should be planning ways to kill someone. He chose to direct that energy towards Zephyr. The dragon didn’t seem to mind whenever he caught wind of what Zane was thinking when he stared at him like that.
The house had been crowded and noisy, but the particular combination of personalities had made the rest of the day surprisingly pleasant. Not that Zane had spent much time socializing with the rest of them. He’d stayed close at Risa’s side half because he’d missed her and half as part of his ongoing efforts to prevent her from becoming more attached to the drake. The drake, for her part, seemed to enjoy his irritation. He half-wondered if that wasn’t the real reason that she was staying so close to Risa.
Said little drake lifted her head to look at him when he sighed and stood up. She was curled up on the pillow next to the one Risa was using. His pillow, technically. Risa had been asleep too quickly to notice that the drake took his spot next to her. It was probably for the best since she would have just wound up teasing him about his replacement. Irritating, yes, but no more so than having to face the fact that he was actually starting to see the drake as part of their life together.
Risa was in the city again. The same city where he was. That he was still not able to be at her side irritated him more than he’d give Friday the satisfaction of admitting. He fought back the snarl he felt rising in him as he thought about Risa. He bristled when he heard a laugh from the other side of the room. Perhaps he hadn’t been as successful at keeping a neutral expression as he’d thought.
“Why, whatever is the matter, dear beast?”
Cackling. This was the first time he’d ever thought that was a good word for someone’s laughter.
“I can’t believe you’re not helping with this,” Liam said from somewhere off on his left.
Zane reluctantly cracked open an eye to look. Liam was crouching at the top of the small hill in the field, one hand on the ground to steady himself, the other holding a long pole with a loop on one end. Almost identical to the sort of catch pole that an animal control officer might use to catch a loose animal. Except for the fact that the one Liam was holding had magic coursing through it from its holder to power the charms marking its sides. Charms which included an anti-magic one and several others used to control Fey.
It all seemed to be overkill for the small prey they were out there to catch. Or, at least, it had seemed like overkill, until they actually got out there. Several hours later and the surly, chihuahua-sized burrowing drake was still wreaking havoc on the fields outside one of Reinvale’s neighboring villages. While Liam chased her around and Zane sat leaning against the pole of the field’s ineffectual scarecrow (with an actual crow perched on its hat).