"And who might this beautiful boy be?" Obsi asked as she reached up to stroke Haku's chin.
"This is Haku. I'll tell you all about him on the way to the meeting hall." She relinquished Haku to the Druids and told Obsi a brief recount of the last few days. As they reached the meeting hall, Dally stopped.
"Does the team know the Blackbloods are coming?" she asked.
Obsi grinned. "Oh yeah," she said as she opened the door.
Dally entered to see the most of the team was there, ready to show the Blackbloods what would happen to them if they misbehaved. Or breathed incorrectly.
The head table, where the officers usually sat, was along the far left wall, elevated ten steps above the main floor. In the chair in the middle of the table was Lagertha, flanked by Papi and Fishy. They sat with their feet up on the table, swords in their laps, arms crossed in front of them. Behind Lag stood Wake and Tom. Dally couldn't see their hands, but she knew they held weapons and were ready if the Blackbloods got out of line. She smiled and surveyed the rest of the scene.
At the bottom of the steps, directly in front of them, stood Soldier and Matt, feet planted shoulder width apart, arms crossed in front of them, daggers in hand. On Soldier's right stood Gracie, and on Matt's left stood SpiderQueen. On the steps behind and to the right of Gracie sat Viseron and KayVee, both sharpening their daggers. To Spider's left sat James and Ruby. James dangled a mace in front of him and Ruby had her crossbow resting on her knees.
In the center of the room was another long table, with two smaller round tables on either side. At the table closest to the stairs sat Illy, Sailor and Redava, armed with daggers and pens and parchment, so they could record the meeting for the team archives. The other round table had Naryu, Wyndstryker, Ego and Slidraco sharpening more daggers. At the long table, at the left end sat Nevin, flanked on his left by Glam and on the right by Ehlek. The two seats next to Glam were empty, as were the five next to Ehlek. On the other side of the two empty seats were Afroze, Pep and Manu, with Shadowfax sitting at the end. No one at the long table seemed to be armed, but Dally doubted that was the case.
Dally looked at the wall to her right. Reaper, Coach, Simone, MissD, Schwesty, RGee, Neis, Onslaught, Longhunter, Lipton, PickJohn, LilPussinBoots, Kiono and NiceDevil lined the wall with arms at their sides, hands on their weapons, ready to pounce on the unwelcome guests like sharks on a wounded fish.
A horn sounded to announce the Blackblood's arrival. Obsi and Dally took their seats on the far side of the table. Reckless and BlackViper entered the hall, followed by the Blackbloods. The last to enter the hall were Incubus and Whiteraven, who barred the door behind them and blocked it, swords drawn.
It took every ounce of control Dally had not to giggle maniacally at the awesome display of force from her team.
Thorne, Laria, Deathclaw, Titan and Celia sheepishly took their seats. Titan looked angrily at Dallyah.
"Is all this really necessary?" he growled.
In an instant Ehlek had a dagger at Titan's throat.
"Yes," Nevin said matter-of-factly, "Yes it is." Ehlek put his dagger on the table in front of him.
"So what is it that you need, Dallyah?" Thorne asked carefully.
"Xander is raiding the temples of the Sacred Ridge. I am asking for your help in stopping them."
Celia looked concerned. "How do you know this?" she asked, not succeeding in her attempt to mask the anxiousness in her voice.
"I spoke to one of the Temple Guardians. She said they are looking for rare dragon eggs that do not exist."
Deathclaw sighed. "I'm not sure where he's getting these troops from, but Titan and I have been fending them off our bases. We can't spare anyone to help you at the moment."
"Same here," Thorne said. "I think he's hiring mercenaries to fight us."
"I'll go with you," Celia said. "My family is from that area. I may be able to help. I'll get my things and come back tomorrow."
"So, is that it? Can we go now?" Laria snarled.
Thorne rolled her eyes. "Yes, Laria, we can go." They stood. Thorne turned to face Lag. "Thank you, Lagertha, for your hospitality. I appreciate why you took the precautions you did, but I promise in the future they will not be necessary."
"Fly safe," Lag replied with a dismissive wave.
Obsi stood. "Oh Laria? Tell Slender and Xander to stay out of the Sacred Ridge, or else."
"Or else what?" Laria snapped.
"Or else I will give him the pleasure of knowing what his own entrails taste like," Obsi hissed.
"Damn," Pep whispered with a grin.
Inc unbarred the door and opened it. He and Whiteraven escorted the Blackbloods to their waiting dragons.
Dally stood up on the table and shouted, "I FREAKING LOVE YOU GUYS!!!" The team cheered, and they celebrated for a few hours together. Dally, feeling a bit tipsy, went with Obsi to her room. On the guest bed was a package.
"Oh, I'm sorry I forgot to tell you that came for you from Suddene."
Dally picked up the note that was lying on top of the box. "Suddene is so relaxing! We've had time to socialize and even get back to our art! I hope you like this. Love, Soc"
Dally opened the package and found a painting of the most beautiful depiction of the Goddess Invidia, a summoned dragon rising from smoke behind her, her spear piercing a snake next to her. Obsi peeked over her shoulder and squealed.
"That is GORGEOUS!!!!" she yelled.
Dally grinned, tears filling her eyes. "Dammit I miss that man!"