Of Cats And Dragons

warriors and dragon

Nikki Chapter 6

flying fairy

On the road to the fight, Nikki gets a crash course in Sundragons, Tetramites, and the resonant power of the gifted bard. While the sights and sounds of battle spark chaos, the faerie warriors hurry to meet the challenge --- and Nikki can't help being infected by their enthusiasm. Myriad lessons wait for him as the Battle For The Blue Wilds is about to begin.

Story contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Wyldwood Fate. This should be read AFTER you finish the book.
warrieos and dragon

Filled With Crawlers Old

Tales of portals and bugs and curses spinning in his head, Nikki marched alongside his father and Nekarra as they departed for the glades.

During the course of his overhead surveillance, the Sundragon Geryon had spotted a huge swath of Tetramites moving toward the eastern glade. The dragon had delivered the news and then swooped off to shepherd his draconic brethren, who were due to arrive in the region shortly, to the field of battle.

The Hold Dragons had chosen to fly the distance from the Melian capital instead of traveling via portal.

The Hold Lords would be taking the portal, arriving at the governor's home in the city of Luthalti as Beren and Avarice had and then riding to meet in the Blue Wilds, guided by the circling dragons.

"I charged my brother with rounding up whichever Hold Lords and soldiers were available and capable," Beren said as he studied the position of the sinking sun.

"How are we going to find all the bugs?" Nikki asked as he looked back at the rows and rows of forest children following them. "The fae said the tree eaters are scattered all over the forest, felling trees — and then the crawlers just disappear with the trunks."

"Disappear underground," Beren explained. "7 said he'll drive them out. Send them all to the surface. The moment they see us as a threat, we won't need to search for them. They'll find us."

"How is 7 going to do that?" Nikki tried to imagine what Omen's father might do to make the bugs swarm to the surface. They're bugs — they don't exactly do what you tell them to do.

"No idea," Beren said with an insouciant smile. "Didn't ask. But if 7 said he can do it, he will." Beren clapped Nikki on the shoulder. "We'll get them. The woodlands are the immediate concern. If the bugs are not stopped here, they will destroy all of Litrania, and in time all of Melia. We'll all fight to rid our home of this blight." He too looked back at the fae following them. "Sure would have been nice if they hadn't waited to tell us. They could have sent someone months ago—"

"My understanding is that they did," Nikki said, feeling he had to defend the wild fae — even if their attempt at communication had been convoluted and impenetrable. "Shard said it had something to do with walnuts?"

Beren gave Nikki a penetrating look. "Do you speak walnut?"

Nikki tensed, feeling ridiculous for having mentioned it. "No."

Beren chuckled unexpectedly and winked at Nikki with sudden humor. "Maybe your new friends will teach you. Shalonie will be very impressed."

Heat suffused Nikki's face, both at the mention of Shalonie and of his new friends. Once the faykin had agreed to join in the fight, there had been no halting them. But while they looked to Beren for marching orders, they inundated Nikki with questions, essentially demanding he repeat anything Beren said, making Beren's son their impromptu leader.

Nikki hadn't asked them to follow him. They had appointed him. And there'd been no talking them out of it. I'm the worst person they could have picked — I have no idea what I'm doing. He'd tried to explain to all of them that he was essentially just a tavern boy. But the confession had only made them cheer.

As they proceeded, Nekarra wound her way through the ranks of the fae, pausing to speak to this one or that one. Unlike Beren, whom the fae seemed to fear, Nekarra attracted the little folk. They all eagerly gathered around her, as though recognizing her as one of their own. They're drawn to her the same way the cats are.

Nikki noted that, on the warrior's prompting, the faykin began arming themselves with whatever they could find — cudgels made of root balls, rocks to fit slings knotted from tree fibers, and staves cut from branches they salvaged from the woods even as they marched.

They're looking forward to fighting those bugs.

A nagging thought tore at Nikki. While he felt honor bound to help the faerie, and also felt it was his duty to help his father wipe away the transgression of the past — even if by Avarice's count that transgression had been a righteous act — Nikki wanted nothing more than to find Shalonie.

Should I be fighting bugs when I could be looking for her? He tried to work out what Shalonie would do in his place.

Lilyth, Sable, and Shard had given him their hair-raising account of the undercroft, the Lord of Scores, and Shalonie's parting words before she sent the girls to safety: "Go straight to Beren and tell him to get all the Hold Lords and the Dragons out to the Blue Wilds to destroy those bugs. They have to be stopped."

Seems pretty clear what Shalonie wants. Yet, leaving the girl to her own fate didn't sit right with the young Deldano.

7 and Avarice had acted as if it were a given that Omen and his companions were in the castle with Shalonie.

"It's Omen," Lily had said when Nikki had started to question the Daenoths' certainty. "My dumb brother is going to be in the worst trouble possible doing the stupidest thing possible."

"Tormy and Tyrin is being a great hero adventuring cats," little Shard had put a more positive spin on their assumption. "They is being where the biggest adventure is happenings."

"And you, little kitten," Avarice had said to Lily's roly-poly feline, "are our best chance of finding the terrible twins — and so finding Omen and Kyr and Templar."

"My kitten is our best chance?" Lily had asked with glee. "She is important?"

"Very," 7 had agreed. "Since the castle is out of step with time, Shard can help us find the boys."

"In the dreamings?" Shard had whispered.

Nikki was impressed with how quickly the little cat understood her job, though he had no idea what they were getting at.

"What about Shalonie?" Nikki had pressed.

"Shalonie told us exactly what she wanted," Lily had said. "Destroy the bugs."

"You'll do it your way by bashing things on the head," Sable had supplied. "We'll go the more circuitous route of magic and dreams." She had leaned in to confide quietly, "I'd rather bash things on the head."

"Don't worry, Sable," Lily had said right away. "I'll bet there will be loads of bugs. Cursed things too — who even knows? There could be ghosts, and goblins, and maybe we'll find the Lord of Scores . . ."

Nikki had walked away while the girls and Shard had continued guessing what terrors they'd all find.

Those are some strange little girls. But Nikki had to admit that their enthusiasm was infectious.

On 7's prompting, the Daenoth contingent had left the clearing and headed in the direction of the castle ruins.

Beren's group — including Nikki — had started traveling in the opposite direction when a flight of six dragons had appeared in the sky.

"Those are Mytheus, Cyrie, and Varanth," Beren pointed out as they progressed deeper into the woods, away from the clearing and the brook. "Do you see that glint of rose quartz, that has to be Felthar. Though I think he has a younger brother, and the colors are similar — unless I'm confusing them with Sarvon."

"I thought every Melian child can tell the dragons apart by their secondary scale color?" Nikki squinted up at the magnificent golden dragons.

Their wing spans were tremendous, yet they maneuvered around each other with ease, their massive bodies gliding on the wind.

"There are a lot of dragons." Beren laughed, not at all self-conscious. "I'm pretty good about most of their names by now, but the colors and all that claptrap — it's a bit much. Can you tell the difference between a ruby and a garnet when it's flying past you at high speed? Frankly, I think they're all just guessing."

Nikki did not know what to say. As far as he'd learned, Beren's casual attitude toward the Sundragons of Melia was edging close to unforgivable rudeness.

"The look on your face." Beren continued to chuckle. "The dragons are great, but you're not a Melian — don't go worshiping them. It's good for them to get some pushback once in a while. Keeps them on their claws."

Nikki wondered what Shalonie would say to that, but he had to admit that Beren knew the world far better than he did.

Given his easy bravado, his natural charisma, and his straightforward irreverence, Beren Deldano was more than he seemed — but he was no hero. Beren's own mother had told Nikki as much. She'd warned him not to have expectations of his absent father.

But Nikki couldn't be sure if that caution extended to the warrior bard's talent as a leader of men.

There has to be a reason why everyone treats Beren with kid gloves. And while the faeries had been mouthy about "the son of Straakhan" — when Beren had actually shown up, they'd seemed dead afraid of him.

But all Nikki's questions about his father were put to rest when they arrived at the glade. The battle between Tetramites and dragons was already in progress.

Thoughts on 'Nikki Chapter 6'?

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Brittany McDonald said about Nikki Chapter 6: Reply

What a wonderful story so far! Its so very exciting! I can hardly wait for the next chapter.

Brittany

Patricia Parker said about Nikki Chapter 6: Reply

The plot gets thicker and thicker and more and more exciting. Or excitingnessness.

I'm anxious to find out what Nikki will get himself into and what brave acts will cement him as a new hero in the series. At least I'm pretty sure that's what he will become. Just don't kill him off...Loving these chapters!

JoAnn Morales said about Nikki Chapter 6: Reply

I love how well Lily knows her brother. Omen has a habit of being in the thick of trouble. And Avarice dubbing Tormy and Tyrin as the terrible twins made me laugh. Please continue these chapters; they are great!

Mark Rand said about Nikki Chapter 6: Reply

Just a nit-pick.. Sorry... Is it Fae or Fay? Some words went Faerie, some went Faykin. Which "wae"?? (;->>

Otherwise, going good.

Carol E. Leever replying to: Mark Rand

That depends on who is saying it. The word in our world is 'faerie' or 'fae', but the Kharakhians use some slang terms such as 'faykin'. For example in Hollow Season when we first get introduced to Nikki's mother she is rather clear about what she thinks of Tormy:

"No magical beasts allowed!" The woman shouted at them, pointing a sharp finger at Tormy. "No beasties, boggets or faykin in my place!" While her accent marked her as pure Kharakhian, likely of low birth judging by the way she extended her vowels, she spoke in clear Merchant's Common. Her tone, however, was shrill and rising.

"Is that &!*#! fishwife calling Tormy a beastie, bogget or faykin?" Tyrin yelled with outrage, his orange head and paws hanging out of Kyr's pocket.

Cyndy Shubert-Jett said about Nikki Chapter 6: Reply

I was just wondering when we'd see more of Shard!!!

I am anticipating the next installment!!!