Another excerpt from The Reign of Dragons. Tatiana has made it to the capital so she can report the dragon attack to Duke Galenos, but she finds that new rules make it harder for marewing riders to enter the city.
Tatiana Reports to the Duke
Tatiana shielded her eyes against the gleaming sunlight reflecting off of Kyratia, the capital city. At noon, with the sun high overhead, the city was almost too brilliant to look at directly. Most of the buildings were only painted white, accented by colorful cloth hangings, but in the middle was the new palace for the duke and duchess, and the pure white magestone walls shone brighter than even the surface of the ocean behind it.
Despite the pain of looking at the palace too closely, Tatiana stared at it with awe. She had only visited the city once, two years ago, when there was nothing but the ruins of the old palace. She’d heard second-hand descriptions of it, but she was still shocked at its appearance. The blocky shape and sharp angles looked even more defensive than any fortress she’d seen. This palace was the total opposite of the warm, inviting house where she’d seen the duchess before.
Perhaps it was only intimidating from a distance, she reassured herself. If there was one thing she knew about Duke Galenos, it was his skill at projecting a strong image to repel his enemies. He could have designed the outside and allowed Duchess Korinna’s friendlier nature to take over the inside. No doubt there would be a hot meal waiting for her when she arrived.
Due to the new laws, Tatiana was forced to land Lilywhite in the Storm Petrels’ compound, rebuilt outside of the city walls. With the extra space, there was a larger field for the marewings to graze, but Tatiana noticed only a handful of other marewings were stationed there. The citizens were still suspicious of marewings and wouldn’t let them get near to the city, so airborne patrols had been heavily cut back in the area.
She took the time to make sure Lilywhite was brushed down and comfortable after their long flight. Lilywhite was distracted by their new surroundings and kept squirming away as she tried to look all around. Finally, Tatiana was forced to let her go. The marewing kicked up her heels and bounced across the field eagerly, pausing to smell various patches of grass and dandelions.
At least Lilywhite seemed to have plenty of energy. Tatiana had feared she was pushing the marewing too hard yesterday, between their escape from the dragon in the morning and the long flight across the countryside in the afternoon, so she’d stopped for the night in an outpost instead of pushing on to the capital city. She felt sore and tired from the exertion, but Lilywhite was acting as sprightly as if she’d just woken up. She couldn’t help but smile at the eager marewing’s antics.
She would have loved to stay by the paddock, watching Lilywhite, but the official report was still tucked inside her jacket, reminding her of her duty. Her long day was just beginning.
When she reported to the compound’s officer on duty, she was told to change out of her uniform before heading into the city. “The Storm Petrel colors make people nervous,” the commander explained with a sympathetic smile. “Particularly the flight leathers of a rider. We keep spare clothes here, to make things easier. Go check with the quartermaster to see what we’ve got in your size.”