Dally thanked him, tried to pay for her breakfast, and scowled jestingly when he refused to take her money. They both laughed as she walked out of the Inn and closed the door behind her. The sun hadn’t risen high enough in the sky to peek over the rooftops, so she took advantage of being able to survey her surroundings as she walked leisurely to the dress shop. The roofs of the shops were primarily flat, only sloping about three feet from the edge to create a small overhang in the front of the building (and she assumed the back) and allow for water runoff. Most were two stories high, with every third or fourth being an additional story. Ladders were attached to the walls of the higher stories, but were so close to the brick one would not notice them had they not looked very carefully. Before she could ponder this, she saw the sign for the shop. The shop faced a large square, where a crowd of people had gathered around someone speaking rather emphatically. Dally glanced at the shop, then decided to join the crowd for a few moments. Being in the back of the crowd she couldn’t see the man, but she could hear him.
“I think this world needs an example!”
“Yeah!” the crowd responded.
“They need to see that there are people out there that aren’t afraid of them! As soon as one little guy stands up and takes a pee on their lawn people will begin to realize that they are nothing mythical! And one at a time, other littles will come out of hiding, shake their fists and yell enough!!!”
“Enough!!!” replied the crowd.
“If you want my castles come and get them you bully-bastards, but know this!!! I will spend every minute becoming a pest to you and all your allies!!!”
“We all will!!!” someone in the crowd shouted back.
“We’ll be like that mosquito that flies into your mouth right as you take a breath!!!!! That horsefly that gets stuck in your ear just far enough that you can’t reach it - and it’s just wiggling in there! The gnat that buzzes right into your eyeball as you trip and fall flat on your face!!!”
“Yeah!!!!” the crowd cheered. The man waited for the noise to subside before continuing.
“You can’t bully an army of littles. Haven’t you ever seen a flock of bats fly out of a cave at dusk? It’s going to be just like that... but with dragons... and their bases are the insects we will feast upon! SO WHO’S WITH ME??!!!”
Dally backed slowly away from the crowd and went into the dress shop. She was greeted by a very large woman, who could only be described as an exact copy of Ovidius, except female.
“Oh, ye must be Dallyah!” the woman exclaimed. “I’m Ophelia, and I’m prepared to get ye fitted for whatever ye heart desires! Oh, and ye’ll be needing a gown for the masquerade ball coming up as well!” Dally put up her hand and opened her mouth in protest, but before she could utter a sound Ophelia had disappeared into the back room of the shop. She returned promptly with six large rolls of fabric. She plopped them on the counter and immediately continued. “Now, I’ve brought ye some gorgeous autumn colors for formal and semi-formal wear. I’ll give ye measurements to the tanner and he’ll git me some gorgeous leather and deerskin for more battle-ready gear. I’ll also take yer footwear measurements to git yer feets covered too! Now now, not a word! I will not take no for an answer! And put yer money away! Yer parents, may they fly with the Sky Dragons, were so kind to me, always tipped me even though I told em not too! I’ve made more than enough to keep me going for the rest of me life, so I’m going to make ye the best wardrobe I’ve ever made! And one fir yer sister too! Now, up on the stool so we can git started!”
Dally complied, and was rewarded with stories about Ophelia doing fittings for her mother and aunts. This surprisingly didn’t make her sad, but her heart felt light and she was feeling care-free as she left the shop and headed back to the Inn. As she approached, she saw five dragons – babies from their size – standing in the street in front of the Inn. They looked like huge horses; midnight black, smooth scales covered what could be seen under the ornate gold and slate armor that covered most of the body. A mane of black hair fashioned in a ponytail protruded from the helmet. Purple glowing eyes watched her approach, and then rushed toward her.
Two of them.
Those in the streets with her gasped or screamed, but Dally stood fast. The dragons approached, and bowed their heads to her and waited.
“Hey!” called a woman’s voice. Dally put her hands on the dragons’ snouts and looked between them toward the sound of pounding boots. A female warrior appeared to the right of one of the dragons. She was dressed from head to toe in emerald green armor. “These are Cavaleris. They are the most loyal, fierce dragons in all the lands. They only respond like this to royalty. So, that begs the question, who are you and how, how did you attract two of them?”
Dally looked at the woman carefully before responding. “I am Dallyah, daughter of Jerrod, King of Tavia.”
The entire street seemed to gasp, except the warrior before her. She smiled. “Well then, I’d guess one of these is for your sister.” She patted the dragon closest to her and whispered something to it, then it suddenly took off into the sky. The warrior turned to someone in the crowd and called, “Please send a message to Obsidian Dall and let her know about the present coming her way.”
“I don’t mean to be rude,” Dally said, “but I’m a bit confused and I’d like to know who you are.”
The warrior bowed. “I am Portia, Keeper of the Cavaleris for the Duke and Dutchess of Suddene. What just happened is that these Cavaleris chose you. To turn your back on them, not that you would, would not be wise. They do not deal with rejection well.”
As if to prove the point, the Cavaleris nudged Dally’s shoulder gently. She scratched his chin and cooed over him for a few minutes. “Of course I won’t reject this precious baby,” she said to Portia. “But I would like to know what I’m to do with him.”
Portia smiled. “I’ll help you get him settled in the stable. You have a dragon there now, yes?” Dally nodded. “Good, let’s go get this boy settled. I’d like to see your dragon too. I’ve never seen an actual Ursa.”