Chapter 15

Like the entry on the other side, the way led through high stone arches. There was only one set of these though, and no stairs leading up to them and no stairs leading down. Instead, the grass and the rock fell down and away into a river far far below. Whatever tempted Alisana to take that step, Fiona didn’t see it.

Then there was the moon. It covered half the sky, more than half, a huge toppling thing like she’d seen in movies where aliens attacked.  Her astronomy class had covered planets and meteors and gravity in general but she’d taken it when she was twelve. She’d never paid much attention to what her mother worked on either, but she knew enough to know this wasn’t right. “That moon is very big.”    

Jay glanced off to the right where lights sparkled in the treetops. The same lights shone in the water and in the sky and in the dark forests. “Yes it is. Too big.”

Fiona turned away from the arches and the cliff and looked around. Little buildings stood next to one another, each one with a door, one with stairs, two with a lamp, and every single one surrounded by what looked like algae-lined pools. She paused, listening. The dead were here, but not many of them, and they were very old. Some of them were confusing, not human and ancient.

Drake Alcaide stopped at a little distance from them and spoke in a low voice with a boy about her age. Jay looked down into a pool’s dark water. “Do you know what any of this is?”

“Do I look like I live here?” she snapped. As if she knew anything more, which she might but wasn’t in a mood to share it until she had some idea why her mother sent for him, and why her father needed him, and what these people intended to do about it.

A red-headed woman stood in a place made out of white stone lit by two enormous standing lamps topped with dragon heads. Drake left them, went down the walk and greeted her with a brief hug that seemed more friendly than romantic. Fiona thought crossly, I’m so tired, I’m going to fall down in one of these gross pools while they hug each other.

“Where are we?” Jay asked the boy who had Alisana’s pale hair but not her inhuman eyes.

He smiled at both of them, the smile lingering a little longer on Fiona. “I’m Marek of Redhill. You’re in Viridis Company at the Pavilion. You came through that door out over the bay but I don’t know how you did it, no one knows.”

Something behind him moved. It was the white dragon. The long tail whapped against the brick of another wall as he turned a corner into the trees.

“Apparently it’s because my mother is Camilla Lombardo,” Jay said with what Fiona’s grandmother would have called a tone. “I showed up, Drake Alcaide invited me in, here we are and somebody needs to start talking.”

Marek glanced at him, looked back at Fiona, considering maybe, then began to talk sincerely about the name Alcaide. “Alcaide is a title. It means Warden. Drake’s father released the prisoners in Pirene during the war and they called him the Warden because of that. We keep the title in his honor, but it’s easier to just say Drake Alcaide instead of Drake the Alcaide.”

Jay stared at him. Fiona said politely, “How interesting.”

Jay and Marek kept looking at one another which Fiona decided to let them do without intervening – she didn’t really know how to do that anyway.

“Fiona’s here to find her parents. I’m here because I’m a Lombardo, evidently the easiest one to catch. Tell me, why do you need one?

Marek shot a sharp, thin smile at Jay as he began to turn away from them and said, “Someone thinks you can save the world.”

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