Nadine was sitting on the floor with her back to Audrey, while Audrey brushed and braided her hair. Horera was mostly up on the bed, watching Audrey play with Nadine’s hair. The fur-burst had been cute, but apparently uncomfortable because Horera shook the pins out pretty quickly. Still the little dogling seemed okay with just watching for now.

“So… I think JC likes me.” Nadine ventured.

“Yeah?” It was so good to hear Audrey’s excitement and see Horera’s ears perk up.

“Well, when we got to Metropolis I started asking around about my dad, and these Conservationists got on my case—but JC stood up to them for me!” Nadine hugged her knees to her chest, “Which is HUGE, because as an archaeologist he pretty much works for them!”

“Why would they be on your case?”

Nadine shrugged, “It’s my dad… They blame him for the Reclamation,” Nadine turned back to Audrey to emphasize the next part, “But it’s not his fault! If there were any way to prevent it, my dad totally would’ve done it! Just, the Conservationists think it could have been prevented—and pretty much everyone knows my dad’s reputation, so if it could have been prevented he would’ve been the guy to do it.”

Audrey restarted the braid she’d been working on so she could brush Nadine’s hair more, sort of like the two of them would pet Horera’s head. Horera crawled down from the bed and put her chin on Nadine’s knees.

“Conservationists killed my mom…” Nadine wiped tears from her eyes, “But that’s all old news! This was supposed to be good news! JC stood up for me.” Nadine motioned for Horera to turn around. “Here, Horera, I’ve got another idea for something we could do with your hair.”

Nadine pulled over a box of ribbons and began tying bows around Horera’s ears. Well, she’d pretty much killed the mood. Nadine didn’t even feel like bringing up the fact that after an entire day in Metropolis she still didn’t have any leads on her dad at all. But then tracking a super-spy, even a famous one, wasn’t supposed to be easy. So Nadine faked a smile.

“But what about you guys? Good news? Bad news?”

Nadine felt Horera’s tail brush against her legs, “Horera back in Beastlands! Go Edmund and fairies, save from bad monsters!”

Now Nadine was grinning for real, “That’s great! So, did you meet any cute dogling guys?”

Horera shook her head, and Nadine was pleased to see the ribbons seemed to stay in better than the pins had—so far. “Horera too busy!”

“Done.” Nadine smiled.

Horera hopped up to see herself in Audrey’s mirror.

“Yip!” Horera began hopping excitedly in place once she saw the bows in her hair, “Horera pretty!”

As Audrey finished braiding Nadine’s hair, Nadine moved around behind Audrey to return the favor, “What about you, Audrey?”

Audrey’s fist clenched in the carpet. Nadine decided to keep brushing Audrey’s hair and wait for her to say something. When Audrey did speak, it was so quiet Nadine almost couldn’t hear her.

“The tournament was a trap…”

Horera must’ve had exceptional hearing though because, as soon as Audrey had barely whispered those words, Horera stopped bouncing and was back with her chin on Audrey’s knees like she’d done for Nadine earlier.

“After we faced Jordan, the grey wolf, in the final round we found out that the whole tournament had been orchestrated by this horrible floating monster!” Audrey continued, her voice gaining strength. “Even Andromalus was scared of this thing. He wouldn’t admit it, but we can feel what each other is feeling… I think he was even more scared of it than I was. Now the monster wants us and Jordan to go to a ruin in a place called Sacred Stones and retrieve an artifact for it, since the magic on the place keeps the monster from being able to enter itself.”

Nadine hugged Audrey from behind. “I’m so sorry. You should have told us sooner.” Nadine felt bad for bringing down the mood earlier, but Audrey had been keeping something even more serious to herself just to keep from worrying them. “I’m going to tell JC about these dreams. We’re going to figure out some way to help you. I swear it.”






One Response

  1. glitterlady says:

    The illustrations are adorable, and their friendship is really building well.

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