Shoel's Story

Chapter Sixty-Three: Update for the Firelancer

Written in collaboration with Silver Midnight


Hemlock had lead her up through the winding, ever elevated passageways until she guessed that they were in the upper third of the crater. The scenery had changed somewhat: now the tunnel was more square, and it had actual paneling and a ceiling, rather than the somewhat unfinished, natural-rock look of the lower levels. The office floor, she thought, reminded a little of Star City. "They've been thinking about putting in an elevator," the necromancer told her, reading a chart that had a small map with the different areas labeled. "This way."

"I'd still probably have to take the stairs," Shoel grinned a bit. "Unless they use magic in it instead of the electricity that's most everywhere else."

"Why's that?"

"If I were wearing my bells? It might not work, or it would certainly stop working after a while if I used it more than rarely. I really don't think the electricity in my rooms will hold up for too long, if I stay in them for more than a month or two. At least my sword's safe, now, so it ought to take longer."

"The lighting in the rooms runs off magical power," Hemlock told her, leading the way towards Jasien's office. "It was too much trouble to wire all the residential dens."

"Oh, it is? Good, then I won't have to worry about it. That's something of a relief; I got a little tired of having to repair things at Star City, I didn't much like the idea of the same thing happening, here."

Hemlock stopped in front of a door marked with the same insignia that had been on Jasien's robe. "Well, here we are."

Shoel freed herself from him with a little sigh, smoothing her tunic down and glancing up at him. "All right, here we go, then," she said with a half-smile, and knocked politely on the door.

::Come in!:: called a cheerful, very young-sounding voice from inside the office. Shoel blinked a bit, then opened the door cautiously.

"Like Allonath said, please come in," Jasien called out, looking up from glaring at a small, glowing brown hatchling that was perched on his desk, grinning like a jester. She spotted Marizpa, the red and white wyvern-flit, curled up on one of the shelves, apparently asleep. "Though I really wish he'd let me call in visitors...."

"Ah, hello," Shoel managed, stepping inside, somewhere between amused and off-balance. "Who's this? Allonath?"

Jasien spoke up, before the glowing dragon could, though the dragonet looked quite like he would have, if given the chance. "Yes," Jasien said, "he's a new sponsoree here. We were just going over his paperwork."

Hemlock stepped in behind her, patting Kzats's muzzle before closing the door behind him. He stuck close to Shoel, not saying a word, while she offered the dragonet a slight smile and a little bow. "A pleasure, Allonath."

::Likewise, oh tall lady,:: the quirky little dragonet said, offering a bow in return and making the Firelancer roll his eyes.

Shoel chuckled a bit, then focused on Jasien, who was studying her carefully, and Hemlock even moreso. "Well, you don't really seem the worse for wear. What can I do for you?"

"We've had plenty of time to recover from Galarin," she pointed out. "We're just here to let you know we're back, and I wanted to know if you had any idea when the clutch I'm here for is to hatch." It still felt a little strange saying "the undead clutch", even if she'd reconciled herself to such things by now.

"Hm, next week or two," Jasien said thoughtfully, shuffling some of the papers on his desk into a neater pile. "Probably within the week, or a little over."

She nodded. "King Drakonus wished to see us once we returned," she said, half to him and half to herself, "but if we still have that long, then we ought to have time to visit him beforehand, if you don't need either of us stay here for anything, Firelancer."

"No, you seem to take well enough care of yourself," Jasien replied, with a little amused smile. "You've made yourself more useful than most candidates, that's certain."

"It's always better to be doing something, sir," she said with a little smile of her own. "I do have one request, before we go, though."

"Just Jasien," the Firelancer corrected her, wincing at the use of 'sir'. She remembered vaguely that he didn't like such formality. "And what's that?"

"Lift the restriction on Hemlock carrying weapons?" She glanced back at him, then hopefully back at Jasien. "He's not about to hurt me, and with all the Dead around, and traveling between here and Arliingran, it seems rather silly, to me."

"Well, it was for your protection," Jasien said hesitantly, looking at the necromancer, who avoided his gaze. "I suppose if you trust him enough to have them, it would probably be better if he does. This whole thing was confusing to begin with."

"I suppose it was," she agreed, glancing at Hemlock, as well, hoping she wasn't making him too uncomfortable-- but it simply didn't seem fair, after everything they'd been through, for Jasien to still think she didn't trust him. "But I'm sure he'd like to have his things back."

"All right," Jasien said, a little more strongly. He got up from his seat and went over to a closed and locked cabinet. From his pocket he retrieved a key and unlocked it, opening the door to reveal Hemlock's armor and various other necromancy and potion-making supplies, along with some books. Shoel arched a brow at it all; she hadn't quite realized Jasien had taken so much.

"Thank you..." Hemlock said quietly, moving from where he stood to go retrieve his things.

"You're welcome," the Firelancer replied with a slight nod, before looking back to Shoel. "There... is something I need to talk to you about involving weapons, though."


"The bells," Jasien began, looking hesitant and embarrassed. "I... I can't allow you to have them on the sands. I know it seems silly-- hell, it even seems silly to me-- but none of the hatchlings should have permenant harm done to them."

Shoel sighed. "I expected that. Well, Hemlock did, and warned me you probably would. I wouldn't hurt the hatchlings, but if you'd prefer, I'll leave them off the sands."

Hemlock had managed to get an armful of various supplies, most notably the books, and stood frowning at the bone armor. "I'll come back for that later if you don't mind."

"I don't mind... I'd appreciate it, Shoel," Jasien said, almost apologetically.

"It's not a problem. I've still got Hemlock, after all, and my sword. Do you need any help with that, Hemlock?" she added, eying what remained. "Other than the bones, that is; I don't know if I even want to touch them."

"You wouldn't," Hemlock agreed with a little snicker. "It's kind of awkward even wearing them with the natural enchantments, and I think I have everything else for now."

"I expect not; my sword certainly didn't like them, back on the station. All right, then. I suppose that's it. Thank you for your time, Firelancer. Jasien," she corrected, smiling a bit.

"Thanks for the update," Jasien returned, seeming a little amused somehow. Allonath yawned boredly, curling up on the Firelancer's desk. "I suppose I'll see you when I get back. If you're not back when the clutch begins to hatch, I'll send a dragon to Arliingran to get you."

"I'd appreciate that, though I hope it won't be necessary. Farewell for now." She offered the Firelancer a short bow, then turned to the door to open it for Hemlock, with a little smirk that said silently, "I get to hold the door for you again."

"Don't flaunt it," Hemlock joked in return, gladly accepting her door opening but still waiting for her to go ahead of him down the hallway as Kzats was still lurking about-- probably making sure she didn't steal his bond again. Shoel laughed and followed him out, letting the door shut on its own behind her.


Chapter Sixty-Four



Shoel's abilities and homeworld are copyrighted to Garth Nix.

Quote borrowed from Garth Nix's book, Lirael, from The Book of the Dead.