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Prologue: The Catalyst


 I reach out and curiously stroke the giant beautiful silver scales that the pseudodragons brought with them. We’d worked out a treaty, although I wasn’t allowed into their area, and they were not allowed into mine, we can now trade in designated safe zones. It is to both of our benefits, and they have finally stopped stealing so many of my treasures! However, this newest item that they brought to me…

I bend down and inspect it with a highly critical eye. They said it was a gift of good faith. And it is a lovely gift indeed. Such fine craftsmanship that I doubt the silly fakers could have made themselves. It is quite possible, I reflect as I scratch an itch with one sharp talon, that they’re trying to off stolen goods on me. If these scales are as magical as I suspect, they were certainly stolen, although not from my hoards. Perhaps the Jakaweres? Ever since that child emperor– Sus-Ciel as he calls himself – had gotten his hands on elvish scrolls… I shake my head disapprovingly, a short jerk at the end of my long neck. Things had quickly gotten out of hand. 

The Pseudo-dragons look shocked and disappointed.

“You don’t wike it?” One of them asks in their squeaky distorted voices. 

I blink at them, “It is quite pretty.” I hedge, and then add my real question “Where did you get it?”

They brighten up. I know I’m not the smartest dragon of the lot. Back when there were a lot of us, I was about middling. However, in comparison to these not-dragons I am proud to call myself a genius. A simple compliment, and they are instantly satisfied. I smile, all my teeth showing as they spin a tale that is so obviously fake that it is corrected three times in the telling. Summarized, it says that one of their number (name disputed), crafted this right before he died, and since his last wish was (peace or prosperity, take your pick) the leader at the time (again, disputed) thought it prudent to gift it to me, as per his wishes. 

In conclusion, it was probably stolen from the Jakawere tribe, and I should therefore keep it out of sight on the twelfth level in boxes on the fourth shelf with the other objects that technically belong to Sussy’s group. Stretching to my full length, I flex my wings and grip my newest treasure. “Thank you for your kind generosity.” I say, unable to keep a note of sarcasm from my voice. I don’t think any of the pseudo-dragon delegation notices though, they’re too freaked out by my sudden movement and the wind caused by my huge wings. The silver scales clutched in my claws tingle and gleam in the light of the lanterns the pseudo-dragons hold. “I will bring you a gift of my own soon enough in response. Just give me the time to think of something appropriate.” I say, still grinning slightly. As they scatter off into the darkness I stare after them, amused by their antics. Alliances under the mountains are shifting, first this new treaty between us, promises not to steal, and now gifts? Even if they were just getting rid of evidence, it’s quite diplomatic of them. Did Sus-boy make a mistake somehow? Oh I’d love to find it out and bring him down a peg! But, since I wasn’t able to find anything on his identity, I’d guess that any mishaps by him are kept even tighter underwraps. 

Still. It’s a challenge! And I’ve never turned down a challenge.

As I arrive at the right shelf after over an hour of misdirection tactics, I place my new shiny silver scales into a box and prepare to seal it up. But I can’t quite do it. They’re just so pretty, and I really need new scales for my kitchen. After a few minutes of debate, I take them with me. It would be a pity to just let the gleaming silver surface tarnish in the dark. Placing it in a prominent position on my kitchen shelves, I stare at it for a while. Time passes as I wonder what exactly it does. I can clearly sense its magical power, but I can’t understand it. I only realize time has passed when I blink and the fire has gone out in the cooking hearth. 

How strange. It wasn’t supposed to go out for another week. Eh, whatever! I can always relight it. Stoking the fire with a worn talon I suddenly am struck dumb by hunger. I could eat two cows and a horse! Maybe I should make supper while I’m here. It’s a bit early, but… I live alone. I set my own dinnertime. 

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