Talking to Dragons, стр. 46

"Don't stare," she whispered when I turned. "It's not polite."

I looked at Shiara for a minute, and my face got hot. I couldn't really say anything, though, because she was right. I felt very peculiar, but fortunately Mother and the King stopped hugging each other just then and started paying attention to the rest of us.

Father went to talk to Kazul, and Mother came over to us. She gave me a quick hug and said, "Well done, Daystar."

"Thank you, Mother," I said. Shiara shifted uncomfortably, and I remembered that I still hadn't introduced her. "Oh, and this is my friend Shiara. She's a fire-witch."

"I can tell that by looking at her." Mother smiled at Shiara.

"You'll stay with us for a few days, won't you?"

Shiara nodded.

"Good," Mother said. "Now, if you will excuse me, there are still a few things I have to attend to."

"Mother," I said, and she turned. "That wizard, Antorell. He was in the castle, but he got away. I thought you should know."

"He did not get away!" said a familiar voice behind me. "I caught him myself. Do you want him for anything, or can I eat him?"

We all turned. The little dragon was sitting on the other side of the bridge, holding on to one of Antorell's arms. Antorell's robe was dirty and he didn't have his staff anymore. He looked tattered and very unhappy, and the dragon looked extremely pleased with itself.

"Well?" it said. "Can I eat him?"

I looked at Mother, and she shook her head.

'I don't think you should eat him," I said to the dragon. "The King talked to all the other wizards, and he'll probably want to talk to this one, too."

"Well, I want him back when the King gets finished with him," the little dragon said. "I caught him, and I'm going to eat him."

"He'll probably give you a stomachache," Shiara said.

I stopped listening to the conversation, because Antorell had straightened and was glaring past me, at Mother. He looked more powerful, somehow, but no one else seemed to have noticed anything unusual. I glanced uneasily over my shoulder and saw Father still talking to Kazul. I looked back, wondering whether I really had anything to worry about. Without his staff, all Antorell had were his extra spells, and he'd probably used them up in the battle. At least, I hoped he had.

Shiara and the dragon were still arguing. Suddenly, Antorell twisted and made a motion with his left hand. The dragon shrieked in pain and let go of him, and he ran toward the bridge, waving his hands and shouting. I felt a sudden, intense surge of magic around him, and an instant later a demon appeared.

It materialized right in front of us, all purple scales and orange claws and silver-green teeth. Antorell shouted again, in a language I didn't understand, and pointed at Mother. The demon nodded, and one arm darted out.

I grabbed something I couldn't see out of the air in front of me and pulled. The demon vanished, and Antorell cried out in surprise. I yanked at the something again and sent Antorell along with the demon.

After what he'd been trying to do, I didn't care whether the King wanted to talk to him or not. Then I saw that the little dragon was turning pink around the edges again. I let go of whatever it was, grabbed a different one, and twisted. The dragon gave a surprised-sounding squeak and turned green again, all at once.

I dropped the piece of nothing I'd been holding and turned. Mother was shaking her head. "That was a bit extreme, Daystar," she said, but her expression was proud.

"Daystar, what on earth did you… I mean, how did you…"

Shiara gave up and just stared at me.

"I don't know," I said. I was at least as surprised as she was. "I'm not even sure what I did."

"What happened?" the little dragon asked. It looked around suspiciously.

"Is that wizard dead?"

"No, but he probably wishes he were," Mother said. "Demons do not like surprise visitors."

"Oh, is that what Daystar did with him?" said Father's voice from behind me. "I wondered."

I jumped and turned around to see the King and Kazul standing there.

The King was looking at Mother; Kazul was looking at the little dragon.

"Where have you been?" Kazul asked in a resigned voice.

"I've been catching wizards!" the little dragon said proudly. "Well, one of them, anyway. He threw dragonsbane at me again and called a demon and Daystar got rid of both of them. I didn't even get to eat him," the dragon finished sadly.

"I see," Kazul said, shaking her head. "I think you'd better spend the rest of the day with me. It may, just possibly, keep you out of trouble."

"I don't understand? Shiara burst out. "How could Antorell do any magic without his staff?. And how could Daystar do any magic at all? And what did Antorell have to do with the sword and everything?"

The King smiled at Mother, then looked at Shiara and me. "As long as things seem to be quiet out here, why don't we go inside? That way, we can be comfortable while I explain."

Shiara and I nodded. Father waved his hand, and the Enchanted Forest dissolved into mist around us.


Which Contains an Engagement, a Feast, and a Happy Ending

We appeared in one of the rooms inside the castle, a small, cozy-looking place with lots of bookshelves. It was just as dusty as all the other rooms Shiara and I had been through, but when Father waved, all the dust vanished.

Mother muttered something about instant cleaning being no excuse for letting things get into such a state, and we all sat down. The King looked at us.

"I believe this should begin with you, Cimorene," he said. Mother looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded and began.

Apparently, Mother really was a princess. She was the youngest daughter of the ruler of a very large kingdom on the other side of the Mountains of Morning, and she'd thought it was boring. So she ran away and became Kazul's princess.

Kazul wasn't King of the Dragons then. She and Mother got along very well, and after a while, Kazul started teaching her dragon magic. And then the wizards helped someone poison the old King of the Dragons, and all the dragons went to the Ford of Whispering Snakes to try and move Colin's Stone, and Kazul was the one who did.

Practically the first thing Kazul did after she became King was to kick the wizards out of the Mountains of Morning, which made the wizards plenty mad. So they decided to start a war by getting the dragons to attack the Enchanted Forest.

That was how Mother met my father. He came to see Kazul about some burned parts of the forest, and he found Mother instead. Then the two of them went searching for Kazul, who'd been kidnapped by the wizards, and by the time they got her free, they had decided to get married.

Kazul was mother's matron-of-honor.

The wizards didn't make any more trouble for almost a year, but when they finally did, they made up for the wait. They stole Father's sword right out of the castle armory.

"They'd figured out that the sword was the main thing keeping them from absorbing magic in the Enchanted Forest," Father said, "and they thought that if they got rid of it, they could soak up the whole forest and use all that extra magic to wipe out the dragons. They didn't realize, at first, that even without the sword I could use the magic of the forest against them."

"Well, then what good was the stupid sword, anyway?" Shiara asked.

"If you didn't need it to stop the wizards-" "I did need it," Father said. "I can deal with one or two wizards at a time, but not the whole Society of Wizards at once. And I can't be everywhere.

The sword is connected directly to the magic of the Enchanted Forest, so it protects the whole forest and not just the area where it happens to be. If you want the technical details, ask Telemain. He helped me set it With the sword gone, Father had to stay in the Enchanted Forest to keep the wizards out. Kazul and Morwen and Telemain all volunteered to go steal the sword back, but there was a problem. When the sword is outside the Enchanted Forest, only the King of the Enchanted Forest or a member of his family can stand to hold it for more than a few seconds. And Mother was the only other member of Father's family then.