83rd day of Summer, East of Kil’ead, Brucia

I hoped the masses would thin as we got closer to Kil’ead. I was wrong. There were so many people on the road – hundreds and hundreds in one huge east-bound procession. All heading away from the seat of Brucian power. An exodus of the throne. They smelled like sweat and despair; they seemed like lost sheep following a hopeful surge. Where was their king?

Meramon asked if we could go off the road and down among the trees. I consented. I thought he wanted a rest or to cool off the horses, or to tell us about something. I couldn’t have been more wrong! As soon as the road was out of sight, he and the blue-haired woman dismounted. She walked into a small clearing – that was close at hand, as the forest was not thick – and stood with her arms outstretched and her face to the sky. Her skin started to glow purple, and she grew taller, and longer, and sprouted a tail and wings and claws and a leather harness until she, Sasha, crouched before us on all fours. What I said a while ago, I now take back. Sasha’s magic is not eerie. It is utterly terrifying.

Meramon didn’t stop to explain or even say anything; he and Sasha flew ahead to Kil’ead. I suppose he wanted to make sure it was safe for us to keep going. We didn’t reach the city on horseback tonight, but we aren’t far from the eastern gate. In Meramon and Sasha’s absence, Reyla asked questions and questions and questions about dragons and wyverns and magic, and she asked if she could turn into a wyvern too, and how old she would have to be to use magic – and she asked those questions in that order, too. I told her to ask Eliana, and Eliana poked her tongue out at me.

Now I understand the intimate interactions between the woman and Meramon. I also understand why she came the first time – she must have been worried sick about Meramon’s condition after he had seen his brother go down to the dragon. But why didn’t he or she tell us? And could she talk? Was she actually a human with magical abilities? Why didn’t she talk to us?

Meramon hasn’t come back yet, and I don’t want us to have a fire tonight. If there is trouble at Kil’ead we don’t want it coming upon us during the night.