At the same time that Antheum vanishes from sight, the sapphire stream appears. Sunlight glints off of the calm water, catching on the faceted surface. Small, diamond flowers dot the shore line and bees that are surely more gem than flesh buzz about them.
“That’s so odd,” mutters MeaZea, nodding towards the stream. “I can’t tell what it’s made out of.”
“Saphires, of course,” answers a new voice. “Amazing, isn’t it? When the moonlight hits it, the stream turns solid as crystal. Antheum says you’re new here?”
It’s another dragon, large and strong. His scales are red and gold and white, polished to a perfect shine. The tip of his tail ends in a spade and his wings are neither scale nor feather, but a mix of the two. When he smiles, two massive canines hang out over his bottom lip.
He’s a fire dragon, through and through. Born of burning embers and bright lights, of heat and flame, of smoke and ash.
“Are you the guide she was doing business with?” questions WooFZee, head tilting to the side just slightly.
“That I am. Boro, at your service. And you – WooFZee and MeaZea. Looking for a guide or so I hear? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place. I’m one of the most reputable sales-dragons here at the outpost,” explains Boro, wrapping his tail around WooFZee and ushering him forward, through the crowd. Bears and dragons, harpies and gryphons, slimes and centaurs. Everyone is welcome at the outpost, to buy or to sell or simply to enjoy the view and socialize. “I’ll have no problems finding someone to suit your needs. Just tell me, what is it you’re looking to find?”
MeaZea offers the dragon a smile. “I was hoping to find the hot springs. Antheum says that we have to trade services in exchange for hiring someone here. What do we need to offer?”
Boro hums. “It depends on the guide. Some request more customers and others want a job done. Elkah, she’s the guide that you’re going to want. Her rates change from day to day, but the task is usually fairly easy. I think that she needs help collecting an herb from the amethyst grove, out to the West. Not too hard, not too hard at all.”
“And you can introduce us?” asks WooFZee, eyes narrowing. “What will we owe you for that?”
“You catch on quick,” laughs Boro, with a glance over his shoulder. “No worries, no worries at all! I don’t need much! In fact, you can just pick something up for me on your way to the amethyst grove. A client of mine needs three feathers off of a silver stork. You two are going to get them and then bring them back here.”
“A silver stork,” muses MeaZea. “I’ve never heard of that bird before.”
WooFZee wags his tail. “They only live here. I’ve seen a few before. Pretty birds. Prettier songs. They look a little bit like cranes, if I remember right.”
“Alright,” agrees MeaZea with a nod. “We’ll get you feathers and you get us a guide.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author