Hey everyone. I know it’s been a minute since we last visited Tythel and Co, so let me catch you up on what’s been going on in The Dragon’s Scion. Advance chapters will be going up on Patreon over the course of this week!
After a battle with Theognis at the end of book 2, Armin was able to decode the meaning behind the Vacuity Engine – it is a device that allows for Unlight to flow from the Alohym’s home to the world of The Dragon’s Scion. Tythel has mostly recovered from her injuries at the end of the last book as well, save for the deep stab wound that impacted her flight muscles – a gift from Eupheme’s sister, an Umbrist with a sinister agenda. A meeting of Resistance leadership was called, and a leader of a different faction, Marketta, agreed to aid the Resistance in attacking the Crawling Citadel, where a gateway to the Vacuity Engine can be found. Although Marketta’s motives are suspect, her desire to take down the Alohym seems sincere. During the meeting, however, Armin indicated his anger at Tythel. Tythel, for her part, is struggling with the Alohym’s decree that their science has proven she is not the true heir to the throne. We pick up with Tythel after the meeting has completed…
The hall was emptying. Plans were anything but solid at the moment, but the machinations of rebellion were well in place. It was for the tacticians to get into the details now, and that would take time. D’Monchy was one of the last to leave, giving Tythel an odd look before he departed. Tythel couldn’t blame him. The Alohym’s rumor, true or not, about her parentage, was a lingering cloud over the meeting that would have to be addressed at some point.
Not right now, though. Tythel had other things she wanted to deal with.
“Eupheme?” Tythel said. “Can you give Armin and I a moment?”
Eupheme’s gaze hardened, and she gave Armin a quick glance. “Are you certain that is your wish, your highness?”
The last two words carried more weight than they needed to. Tythel could read the underlying meaning there, at least. Eupheme was still Tythel’s sworn bodyguard, and at this moment, she was worried leaving her princess alone with Armin. Armin’s words had been harsh during the meeting, but…
Tythel looked up at Armin again, studying him carefully. His arms were tense with anger, but when Eupheme had asked if Tythel was certain, his eyes had widened and his mouth had hung open for just a moment. While Tythel would always be the first to admit the nuances of human facial expression eluded her, even she could recognize hurt shock. “Yes. Please.”
Eupheme nodded once, curtly, and then vanished, fading into the shadow under the table. Tythel listened carefully for the Umbrist’s heartbeat, but there was no sign of it. They were alone. She looked over at Armin, and for the first time since she left her father’s lair, found herself completely at a loss for word. “Hey, Armin,” she said, the only words she could muster.
“Your highness,” Armin said stiffly. He made no move to stand, and gave no indication he wanted to speak further.
“You’re angry,” Tythel said, deciding blunt was the right way to approach this.
“You’re getting better at reading us,” Armin said. “Soon nothing will escape the omniscient notice of Tythel, the Dragon Princess.”
In a way, Armin’s sarcasm was comforting. Armin being sarcastic was within Tythel’s established parameters for the Lumcaster. Her friend. The cold fury that radiated off him? That was something new, something ugly, and something she didn’t know how to handle. “I never claimed omniscience,” Tythel said. “But…Eupheme’s been helping me. Not that I needed it to tell you were angry. I think I would have been able to tell the moment I came off the mountain.”
Armin let out a huff of air. “Good to know. I need to learn to hide it better.”
“For meetings like this? Likely. But it’s just us, Armin. You don’t need to hide what you’re feeling from me. That’s what friends are for, right?” Tythel couldn’t help keep the hopeful note from that last question.
Armin was quiet for a long moment, meeting her gaze with a level stare of his own. There was something about his eyes that were different. A hardness to them that Tythel hadn’t seen before. “Are we?”
“Are we what?” Tythel asked, her heart starting to pound as she feared where he was going with this question.
“Are we friends.”
The question was a slap to the face Tythel hadn’t anticipated. “Of course we are!” Tythel said. “After…everything, how can you even ask that?”
“I don’t know, your highness. Maybe it’s one of those dragon things I just don’t get.” Armin’s hand, resting on the table, started to curl into a fist. His nails caught on the wood, and the lacquer started to curl up as his fingers tore rivets in the material. “But as far as I understand it, friends don’t send friends to their deaths.”
Tythel reeled back. “You – I don’t understand. You’re alive. Ossman…oh, Light and Shadow, what happened to Ossman? Is he-”
“Fine,” Armin snapped the word like the crack of a whip. “Ossman is fine. Not that you had anything to do with it.” Armin took a deep breath, trying to steady his fury. “Aldredia survived too. The other members of our party didn’t make it.”
Aldredia. Who was Aldredia? Tythel’s mind worked furiously. She’d barely met the woman, and…that’s right. The swordswoman, a former Alohym guard that had betrayed her masters. “I’m glad Aldredia survived,” Tythel said. “I’m sorry for the others.”
“Say their names,” Armin growled.
Tythel tried to cast her mind back to when they departed. Had she been told? Yes, before d’Monchy had called a halt to using the songstones, lest the Alohym track them. She’d been told their names then. One of them…was one of the Lumcasters working with Armin. The powerful one, the girl. The other was a soldier who had…Tythel couldn’t remember anything about him.
“Say. Their. Names.” Each word came out through clenched teeth, Armin staring at her with that cold fury, although right now it looked like it was going to turn hot.
“I…Clara?” Tythel guessed.
“Clarcia. She died raiding the tomb of a dragon you pointed us to. She died alongside the other. Do you even know his name?”
Miserable, Tythel could only shake her head. She couldn’t meet Armin’s gaze anymore.
“Of course not,” Armin spat the words. “His name was Guiart. He was a good man. And Claricia was a child. They died for you, Tythel, and you don’t even know their names. And worse – so much worse – they didn’t even need to die, did they?”
Tythel felt her jaw tighten. “Why would you say that?”
“Because your father’s lair exists!” Armin was on his feet now, his hands in fists so tight his knuckles were turning white. “You sent us to a death trap so your father’s tomb would go untouched.”
“Eupheme and I took from my father’s tomb,” Tythel said. Now it was her turn to be cold.
“Oh, that’s wonderful. I’m certain that will be a great comfort to Clarcia and Guiart’s souls.” Armin sneered. “Don’t try and pretend that was your plan all along. You sent us there because you didn’t want to do that, didn’t you?”
“If you could aid the Resistance with a human skull, would you give them your mother’s grave?” Tythel was on her feet now, her own anger spilling over.
“That’s different,” Armin countered. “No one’s died from digging up a grave.”
“I had no idea that old Wyrm’s lair had traps. Most dragon’s don’t do that! I couldn’t predict it.”
“It wasn’t traps,” Armin said. “The Alohym were investigating it too. Theognis was there.”
“And that’s my fault?” Tythel threw up her hands. “I had to battle some new kind of Alohym soldier at my father’s grave. Half Alohym, Half Human. Tellias nearly died. I can’t have predicted the danger that would be waiting you there!”
“It shouldn’t matter!” Armin was yelling now, and Tythel couldn’t remember if she’d yelled first or if he had. Not that it would make a difference either way. “We didn’t need to be there in the first place! If you had been honest about your father’s tomb-”
“You don’t understand,” Tythel said hoarsely. “It’s…a dragon’s horde is sacred. To pilfer from that, after their death…it’s monstrous. I only did it because my father would have gifted me some as an inheritance. Otherwise…I don’t know if I could have made myself.”
“Don’t you dare speak to me of monstrous,” Armin did spit now, literally, a disgusted fleck of spittle flying from his lips to land on the stone floor fo the meeting hall. “Monstrous is letting the living suffer in favor of the dead. Monstrous is letting others die for your own fears.”
“It’s different for humans-”
“You’re human!” Armin bellowed. “Light take you and Shadow blind you, Tythel, you’re a flathing human. I know you want to become a dragon, but even then, you won’t stop being human. So stop thinking like what you want to be and think about what you are.”
Tythel threw aside her cloak and cast her wings to the side. The muscle in the back strained at the motion, but as before, stretching them was fine. “Do not dare tell me what I am and am not.”
Armin was much less impressed with the display than Marketta had been. He just narrowed his eyes. “You don’t look like a dragon to me,” Armin said. “You look like a human with the wings and tail of a dragon, and with fire in her stomach. We have a term for beings that look like human dragon hybrids, and it’s not dragon. It’s demons.”
“Don’t-” Tythel started to say, but Armin wasn’t done.
“You don’t look draconic, your highness. You look demonic.” Armin waved away her next few words. “I don’t think you are a demon. But if you’re going to flash those wings to intimidate us into submission, you need to know what that looks like.”
“I didn’t mean to intimidate you. I just meant to…show you.” It sounded weak, even to Tythel’s ears. The truth was, she had been furious, and it had felt like the right thing to do. Or…not the right thing to do. The only thing to do.
“Whatever.” Armin’s own fury was dying down, but the pain that underlied it was not gone. “Haradeth was right about you. You don’t care about what happens to us. We’re just a weapon to you. A sword to thrust into the heart of your father’s killers.”
“That’s not true!” Tythel’s fury vanished in a flash, replaced with pain. “Armin…you’re my friend. I care about you.”
“No, you don’t.” Armin shook his head, and his body slumped back into the chair. “You didn’t even ask what was wrong. Just told me I was angry, then defended yourself. If you gave a damn, you’d have asked.”
“Only because you attacked me!” Tythel countered. “Flathing Shadow, Armin. I’m worried about you.”
“Too late.” Armin shook his head. “I’ll follow you Tythel. You’re still our best bet at being the Alohym. So I’ll follow you because you’re the best we have. But Tythel… you’re quick to remind people you’re the last dragon. The entire species ends with you. So you should probably think about what kind of legacy you’re going to leave behind for them.” He shrugged. “Or, if dragons are a species that wouldn’t touch their precious hordes to save lives, maybe you’re leaving exactly the legacy they deserve.”
The table splintered under Tythel’s claws, and her lips pulled back to show her fangs. “You’re in pain,” Tythel said, through gritted teeth. “So. I’m going to end this conversation before I say something I regret. And…if you decide you want to…flath it, Armin. I’m sorry for the deaths of Guiart and Clarcia. Truely, I am. So…if you decide you want to pretend that last bit didn’t happen, we can do so.”
“I doubt I will,” Armin said. “I’m not sure what’s worse, Tythel. That dragons will go extinct when you die…or that you’ll be the last memory of them.”
Tythel turned so quickly her tail slammed her chair, sending it skittering along the floor. She didn’t bother to look behind herself as she stormed out. Her nictating membranes flashed across her eyes, and for the first time since she’d lost the ducts, Tythel was glad she could not weep.
Hope you enjoyed. Dragon’s Scion will update Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday going forward, and it will be my primary serial. Book one is getting published soon too! If you want something else to read, check out The Wastes of Keldora – the sequel to that one comes out early November!