Running into the dragon and squire again and again, she comes to realize the unlikely pair are outsiders in their own school-participants of the dragon-human pairing ritual, which in the end didn’t work quite as intended. They are stubborn loners who are determined to overcome the obstacles in their path and make a true pair. Or are they?
As Talia’s first year at the guild evolves, she must deal with the quirks of the Administrator, her lessons, the odd rules of the school, the students, the mystery of Clarence and Kel, and somewhere in there, possibly decide what it is she wants for her own future.
“What is going on?” Narilla’s eyes were wide with barely controlled fear.
“That’s the armorer?” Mari asked. “He looks more like something from a nightmare.” She hugged herself as if spooked by her own words.
Talia shuddered, agreeing with her only too well. “Surely he’s not as bad as he looks, don’t you think? This is a school after all.” She hoped her words sounded more confident than they felt.
They all jumped as a loud yelp echoed from the other side of the small door. A high, cackled laugh, belonging to who knew what, followed after.
Everyone in the room froze, not sure what to make of what they’d heard. A number of them looked even paler than before.
Talia kept her gaze on the door. None of this made any sense. Still, she couldn’t stop her heart from hammering in her chest.
A squeal came through the door trailed by more cackling. This was soon followed by another yelp, which was abruptly cut off. The creepy cackling came again, this time from multiple voices. Talia felt the hair rising up on the back of her neck.
Less than a minute later, they all jumped in their seats as the door through which Tull was taken through started to inch open. Talia heard someone in their group gasp and scurry to the back, but didn’t see who it was. Her gaze was riveted to the opening door.
Standing only about the height of her own shoulder was the oldest person she’d ever seen. The woman was hunched over as if carrying a great weight, and she leaned on a thick cane. Her face was puckered as if it was fruit left out in the sun too long. The old woman smiled a secret smile at them, revealing a gap filled mouth. “Who’s next?” Her voice sounded like loose gravel.
When none of them volunteered, the old woman shuffled a few steps closer and eyed each one of them. “You,” she said, pointing at Narilla with a crooked, aged finger. “You’ll be next. You look good and healthy.” Something about the way she said it Talia didn’t take pleasure in at all.
Narilla let out a small squeak of fear. The old woman laughed. They all now knew where the cackling came from.
“Ma’am, where is our teacher?” Talia didn’t realize she was going to speak until the words left her mouth.
The old woman turned yellowed eyes in her direction. “Don’t you worry yourself about her, sweetness. Your turn will come soon enough.” She cackled with glee, her laugh echoing harshly in the small room. She shuffled forward again and yanked Narilla by the wrist. Fear pouring off her in waves, the young girl hesitantly followed the old woman through the door.
It slammed shut with resounding finality.