The driver stopped directly in front of the steps that lead into the massive house and helped Dally out onto the walkway. The sound of wings overhead drew her attention skyward. Two dragons circled above, as if on watch. The two-headed dragon had one white half and one blue half, but both had ornate gold filigree on its necks, hoods and legs. The other wore gold armor on its face, legs and back. Sticking out of the helmet seemed to be black feathers, although to Dally it looked more like a cat than a bird.
The driver cleared his throat from behind her to get her attention. “The twin dragon, Miss, is Sylphyn. The other is Aristrat. They have both guarded Sir Lorenzo’s family for generations.”
“Thank you,” she said with a smile. She tipped the driver generously and made her way up the four sets of twelve steps that led into the house. Two masked females flanked the doorway, both holding two flaming swords. They did not move or speak, silently watching each and every party goer as they entered the house.
As Dally crossed the threshold, she had to squint her eyes from the brightness of the massive room. The walls and columns lining them were bright white. Three large chandeliers made of clear crystal hung from the high ceiling across the center of the room. The floor was a pale yellow. The stairs leading from the foyer to the floor were gold, and directly opposite the entrance was an identical set of steps leading to a platform where Lorenzo sat with the Duke and Duchess. About half of the room in front of the platform had been designated as a dance floor. A quartet played music as couples danced and laughed. She looked through the milling crowds and spotted Portia and Baumbang, as well as several of their counterparts mixing in with the rest of the attendees. Dally carefully descended the stairs and began to cross the room.
At the Duchess’ feet lay two mini-dragons, about the size of an average dog, one white and one red. Dally had seen these types of dragons before, but never understood why one would want to keep a dragon, even a tiny one, cooped up inside rather than just providing them shelter and letting them fly free as she did. (Yes, she conceded to herself, she did “own” her dragons, but if they did not want to be with her she would let them go. She had the sky pasture for them to be in all day if they wanted. She knew her dragons wanted to be where they were.)
Before she finished arguing with herself, the green dragon flew across the room and landed on her shoulder. Dally saw the red one doing the same and extended her arm for it to land on. They both cooed and chirped at her, telling her they were bored and that they were glad she was there. She smiled and cooed back. “Aw babies I’m so sorry you are bored!” She heard the Duchess scream and looked up to see her berating a servant and demanding that he retrieve her dragons from “that awful woman”. The servant hurried over to where Dally stood and gently coaxed the dragons onto his arms. “I am very sorry about this, Miss,” he whispered. “I do not understand them like you do, but I understand enough to know they dislike her very much. She owns them because she can, not because she loves them.” He bowed his head quickly and went back to his post. The dragons perched themselves on top of golden cages beside him.
Before Dally could recompose herself, Lorenzo appeared. “There you are, my dear,” he said with a smile. “Come, let us dance!” He put his arm around her waist and led her to the dance floor. They danced and made small talk for a few minutes before they heard screams coming from outside. Aristrat roared and blocked the entrance to the house for a moment, then took flight as if chasing something. Dally ran outside and looked up to see Aristrat and Sylphyn in the sky ahead, chasing a fully formed Somnus and rider. Before she could say anything she saw Pathox approaching from her left.
Dally sighed. “Not one good day, Fate? Not even one?!”