Chapter 35: The Sleeping Dragon

Sigurd examined George’s prone form carefully. He had removed the fang six hours ago now, and the hole had healed into a rather nice scar. He checked his pulse again, feeling the skin of his neck rhythmically press against his fingers.

He was definitely alive.

Sigurd closed his eyes and took a deep breath. When he opened them, they glowed a deep red. He looked over George again. From what he could tell, the soul rift had been healed, and his nerves flowed with magic.

The merging hadn’t failed.

He checked George’s eyes, they both reacted normally. So he wasn’t in a coma, at least, not a medical one. That left magic.

Sigurd huffed. Dragons practically breathed magic; it was hardwired into their brains. Unfortunately, that made it difficult for them to understand it the way a human could. As far as he could tell, the boy’s magic was flowing properly, which meant that this wasn’t something he could fix. Of course, it also meant he couldn’t afford to move the kid.

If he was being kept asleep by something in the area, leaving could let him wake up, or it could overload his brain and he’d never wake up. He would have to bring someone who could wake him up here. But medical magic wasn’t exactly a common art, and the few people he knew who he could trust with it were at least a day away if he took wing.

If this was magic, then leaving the kid alone that long could be worse than not getting him help at all. He huffed again and started pacing around the cave.

If he waited long enough, then someone might come looking for the kid. They were used to him disappearing, but one of the kid’s friends would notice soon enough.

But if they couldn’t find them, then he’d be stuck with the kid until he woke up. And that could take weeks, which would mean he’d have to be patient. Sigurd didn’t do patience. Not while he was awake at least.

Sigurd sat down and rested against the wall. He’d give it two days, then he’d try and get in touch with someone back in Macropolis. Someone there had to know a good healer.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Will gritted his teeth when he walked past the stadium. He hated game days. Even outside the stadium there were so many people. So much noise bouncing around his skull.

Normally, he wouldn’t be anywhere near here. But Muse had told him that Thoth had told her that Aidos had told him to get a message to Will about one of his charges. They hadn’t given him any real details of course. Tels were, ironically, some of the more secretive heroes.

But it had been enough. If it was Aidos, then he needed to find Mach. And, as little as he knew about the mecher, he knew she lived on the far side of the stadium, and that she’d probably want to talk if she saw him. And that she was a she.

He finally broke free of the crowd and let out a relieved sigh. Now came the tricky part. If Mach flew straight, then there were two or three places she regularly stayed near. The first one should be decent clip north. The other was about half his far and a couple miles further west, but it would take him past the largest collection of bars in the city. Not a fun place on game days. Not for him at least.

He kept north. He’d probably have to walk past the crowds eventually, but he could put it off for an hour or so.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The coffee escaped the vibrating mug and scalded her hand.

Tina gritted her teeth, but the mug still managed to slip from her hand. Applause followed the loud crack of the mug shattering at her feet, but it quickly died down when Janet’s glare swept across the room.

Tina groaned and made her way to the backroom. This was the fifth cup she had spilled today, and the second she had broken. She took her time grabbing the broom.

Before she walked back to the front she paused. She took a deep breath and forced a light smile. The perks of customer service…but she chose this job; bad days were not an excuse to do it wrong.

Janet was making a new cup of coffee with a smile on her face, but there was a slight nervous twitch in her eye that nearly had Tina scampering back through the door. There was no way she would get fired over this, Janet was not nearly that vindictive, but she would probably end up doing inventory for the next couple of weeks at least.

She avoided looking at Janet while she swept up the shards on the floor, but she could feel her eyes watching her, even when she was sure Janet could not be looking at her. Janet was good like that.

At least it was pretty empty today. It was too hot for coffee, and too muggy for most people to handle their colder, sweeter drinks. But there were always a few stragglers wandering in, and today was no exception. She had at least until the shop was empty, and probably until closing before Janet would do anything. That either gave her a couple of hours to cool down, or a couple of hours to boil over. Tina would have to keep her fingers crossed.

She dumped the shards into the trashcan and disappeared into the back again. The door to the shop opened and she heard someone talking to Janet. Tina hurried to the front and grabbed the order from Janet before she gave her another reason to shunt inventory her way.

‘Large double chocolate caramel frozen with whipped cream and extra sprinkles’

Tina nearly gagged at the thought of that much sugar but she grabbed what she needed and began to feed the blender.

Once the noise had stopped, she grabbed the largest cup they had and watched the half frozen goop slide into it like an especially thick milkshake. A glance at the ticket told her the name to call.

“Will! Order up!”

It took her a minute to recognize him, and she had to stop herself from jumping when she saw his face. She mostly succeeded. He didn’t look twice when she handed him the cup, so she guessed he did not recognize her. But why would he? She always wore here suit when she saw him, and her voice changer never failed, so there was no reason he should recognize her.

He walked out the door.

She looked over at the line. All she saw was Janet, arms crossed and foot tapping. Janet twitched her head towards the back and Tina slowly followed her.

When they reached the backroom, Janet turned and raised an eyebrow.

“Sorry. I do not know what has come over me today.”

Janet tilted her head.

“Okay, I do know, but I cannot really explain it. It is not my story to tell.”

Janet crossed her arms again.

“I mean it, Janet. I found out a friend’s secret by accident. If I follow up on it, I could end up really helping him out, but I am not sure what he will say when he finds out I know.”

Janet rubbed her forehead, sighing. She looked over at the clock. After a moment she waved Tina to the door.

“Really? I know we close soon, but are you sure you can do it alone?”

Janet nodded, smiling slightly. But she also gestured to the schedule stuck to the wall. Tina groaned.

“Right, right. Just…not tomorrow? Give me a chance to tell my mom what days I’ll be late.”

Janet nodded again and Tina rushed out the door.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Tina ran home. She knew better than track him down on her own, but if Will was still in the area, he could call everyone together. It would just be a little sooner than they agreed.

Her suit was hidden in the basement. Her parents had long since ceded the space to her, after the pile of her stuff had devoured both of their workspaces.

The suit was easy enough to get on. All the pieces split open and she could just slide into it. Getting out was a bit harder, she really needed an emergency switch to take care of that. Maybe she could add extra seams along the-

“Not now, Tina.”

She pushed the thought out of her head and jumped into her suit.

Getting out of the house had been difficult at first, but she’d managed to convert the old cellar entrance into something a bit more secure. From the outside, you couldn’t even tell it was there, and there were sensors to check if anyone was watching.

It gave her the green light, and Tina rocketed out of her basement and into the sky. She’d seen which way Will had gone after he left the shop, but that only gave her an idea of where to look. Hopefully, he would see her and find a way to call her down. Otherwise, she would have to make her landing obvious enough for him to see, and they would have to move somewhere else to talk.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Will had been suppressing his power for the most part, but he had learned a long time ago to never stop checking up. The moment he realized someone was flying above him, he had reached out. Mach was easy enough to identify and he let himself relax a little.

Mach landed on a building further down the block, and he made a show of stopping to tie his shoe. Once the majority of the crowd had passed him by, he ducked down an alley, and slid his way down the back roads until Mach jumped down in front of him.

“There you are,” Will said. “I heard you might need to talk.”

Mach paused for a moment before responding. “Yes. I believe I know where Burnout has gone.”

Will hid his surprise. Aidos’s message seemed more worried than that. “Is that all?” he asked.

Mach stared at him.

“I meant that we were going to meet about that tomorrow anyway,” Will said quickly. “I thought it might be more pressing.”

“In a way, there is.” Mach took a deep breath. “In order to discover where he went, I had to look up some of what he mentioned during the meetings. And, as a result, I had to learn his name.”

She tensed.

“…Oh. That’s-“ Will shook the thought out of his head. “That’s something you two will need to talk about later. I’ll be there too, if you want, but right now we should focus on what you found out.”

Mach let herself relax a little. “There is a small town half a day out by train. That is likely where he received his power. I think he went there to figure out why.”

Will nodded. “Makes sense. I’ll get word to everyone tonight. Tomorrow’s Sunday so nobody should be working, but we’ll see who can make it out there.”

Mach nodded. She opened her mouth to say something.

“Don’t worry about it for now Mach. There isn’t anything we can do about it until we get him back. Just go home and get some rest, watch TV, read a book. Keep you mind off of it, okay?”

Mach nodded, more reluctantly this time.

“Good, we’ll meet at the train station around sunrise.”

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3 comments

  1. Honestly, I probably should have put most of this into a chapter before last week’s. Looking back, I kind of rushed the conclusion of the merging task. If I had put in the coffee shop and some of Will’s stuff beforehand, and shifted the beginning of this chapter to the end of that one, I think it would have worked out nicer.

    On the plus side, this is the first chapter in a while that broke 1500 words (and it almost hit 2000 too!). And since exams are done after this week, I’ll have more time to make longer ones more often, I hope.

    If you liked this week’s chapter, I’d love it if you would Vote for Rumor’s Block on Top Web Fiction

    1. Were I you, I’d give it a week or two (let the current readers get it hot), and then rewrite it as you’d like, with a nice note saying this used to look a little different.

      This is the internet after all, and it’s your story. it should be written the way you want it.

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