Christalos flew towards the camp of bandit women, low in the sky. As the camp came into view, she took a deep breath. She flamed one of the nearest perimeter tents, then flew around the camp and flamed a tent on the opposite side. For good measure, she flamed a third tent in the camp interior, near the largest tent. As women ran screaming around the camp, and some searched for buckets for water, Christalos landed outside the largest tent. She stuck her head inside, seeing no one. She reached inside, slowly, remembering her grandmother’s words. In a carved wooden box, inside another carved wooden box. Move slowly, detect the traps.
On a desk at the side of the tent she saw a carved wooden box. She extended a claw, feeling the force field just in time. She pulled back with a sigh. What was she to do? Her distractions wouldn’t last forever.
“Christalos?” came the soft whisper. “What are you doing here?” Christalos looked toward the voice and saw a familiar face peeking above the bed.
“Well, child, I’m here to get something. Come help me.”
The figure climbed across the bed and across the floor, limping. The dragon gasped. She had last seen the girl well-dressed and in good health. This small figure was nothing like that memory. Watching the bruised and scabbed body come towards her, with rags trailing, Christalos tried not to feel guilty.
Miranda whispered, “What do you want me to do?”
“I need what is in that wooden box, but it is trapped.”
Miranda reached out, moving her fingers in complex movements, tapping the desk, circling, coming closer and closer to the box. A humming noise filled the air and Miranda opened the lid. Her hands continued to dance around the interior and soon she lifted out another box.
“Got it,” she whispered triumphantly. She ran across the floor to Christalos and leaped on her back just behind her head. Christalos backed out of the tent, leaped into the air and flamed the tent. She flew away as arrows snicked through the air around her.