Lesana wrapped her cloak over the little dragon and leaned back against the boulder where they had sheltered. "We should sleep now and hope it doesn't rain. There was no time to pack a folding shelter, and it would have slowed us to carry so much."
They slept curled up together, though every noise in the night caused Lesana to wake enough to identify the noise before drifting off to sleep again. At first light, they awoke and prepared to continue their journey. They ate sparingly of their remaining provisions, knowing they would have to crest the first peak before risking a fire. They hiked ever upwards, speaking little.
Eventually they came to a large crystal boulder that stood taller than the others around them and Lesana stopped, stroking the smooth quartz rock.
"This is the one!" she announced. "The crystal I hid behind... where I found your egg!"
Khadri regarded the massive rock, reflecting the late morning sunlight. "Then this is where my story began..." Lesana heard a wistful note in Khadri's voice, but the next words they heard were considerably coarse and loutish.
"And this is where it ends. I reckon the king'll reward me plenty when he sees what I found here!" The kingsman whom Lesana had left sleeping off her drugged soup looked at Khadri with the gleam of pure greed in his eyes. "You didn't think I'd really drunk your soup, did ya? Why, that's the oldest trick in the book. I poured it out as soon as you was in the door and pretended to sleep so's you'd try to get past me. Only you never came out. How did you slip by, I wonder? And where did you find that young fella?" He gestured towards Khadri, probably mistaking him for a baby dragon, Lesana speculated, worth a small fortune as no one was mad enough to breach the realm of the dragons, even for greed.
"Wizards have their secrets," was all Lesana offered in response.
"Not for long," the man growled. "The king wants all your secrets and he has his ways of getting them."
Torture! Lesana kept the thought to herself. There was one way out of this. She drew her sword. He was one man, though others would no doubt follow soon. Lesana was tall for a woman, but chances were the trained swordsman would underestimate her skills for no other reason than that she was a woman. It might even the field for a self-taught swordswoman.
Look for "A Wizard's Quandary" in the upcoming anthology, Dreamtime Damsels and Fatal Femmes, by the Dreamtime Fantasy Authors!