The miles ground out under horse hooves as the group rode on in silence. None wanted to dare the gods against their good fortune of escaping from the dragon with bags full of treasure. All feared flippancy would call the dragon’s wrath upon them.
By late afternoon dark smoke filled the sky ahead of them. Gaston’s anger brought words to his lips. “No way. There is no way that dragon knew where we’re headed.”
Jarik cocked an eyebrow. “What do you mean?”
“That smoke,” Arlin pointed in front of them, “is an ill omen. It’s coming from the villa and surrounding village. The dragon must have flown ahead of us.”
“Is that not the smoke of a bustling economy and forges working in double time?” Thothen said.
Gaston was appalled by the dwarf’s assumptions. “I’m afraid it’s not. Thick black smoke does not pour from a village unless it’s burning to the ground.”
Thothen shrugged. “Dwarven lands are covered by the haze of progress.”
“Does anyone see the dragon on the skyline?” Everyone shook their head no at Arlin’s question. “Then we must hurry and ensure my mother is safe.”
“I’m sure she is,” Gaston said patting his friend on the shoulder. “Your mother is strong and would make it through anything.”
“If any elves that were traveling with Queen Catheldor were our king would not look favorably towards the alliance.” Firae said.
“We should leave the horses and approach on foot. We’ll want to sneak up on the waiting dragon at the villa.” Miirik said.
The six young men dismounted and tied their horses to trees with the most foliage in an attempt to hide the creatures incase the dragon flew overhead. They hiked across the countryside at a quick pace and attempted to remain silent. After a half an hour the young men found themselves huddled behind shrubbery at the outskirts of the village.
“That’s no dragon,” Arlin spat.