"I honor you, one who came before." The shadow forced his speech in a hiss of air and vibration.
Aulder's scales flickered, then an attempt to breathe flame choked and came out ash and spark. They felt very vulnerable and angry.
"You honor nothing," Aulder coughed.
"I am not guilty of the desecration toward your kind!" The shadow was agitated.
"You are an errant child." Aulder wheezed.
"Child no longer" an odd chuckle filled the cave.
"You are too late. The Draconi are with her." Aulder wheezed. The small cave started to feel like it had no air.
"Your precious children have no idea what they are fighting," The same laugh filled the chamber with an intrusive vibration that shook the walls, "You think you are fighting the shadows when you should fear what's in them."
Aulder clutched their throat and mouth trying to breathe. Dust filled nostrils, then lungs. The shadow faded and their lungs suddenly burst with air.
"He should have killed me," Aulder said before leaving the cave in a grand gesture of silver light.
They landed on the outskirts of the camp, and they could vaguely sense the woman who would serve as the conduit. They pursed their lips in thought. Aulder motioned with their right hand and as they drew it down slowly soon there was an old woman standing in Aulder's place. Aulder picked up a stick and turned it into a cane. Chuckling they hobbled through the magical barrier and into the camp toward one particular tent.
"Excuse me, are you allowed here?" a young soldier said looking at her curiously.
"Lord Faris sent me to tend to the new storm traveler." Aulder smiled, "Be dear and point me to her?"
"Ah, let me escort you then, I am headed right in that direction." The mere boy blushed as he gently took her arm.
"Well, you must be important." Aulder giggled as his chest suddenly puffed.
"I am Sir Xander's squire," He said so proudly he looked to burst.
"Then I am sure he will reward you for helping an old mother." they patted him on the arm as the young man left them at the entrance to the tent.
Aulder walked in and started touching things and oohing and ahhing. Human things and the need to keep creature comforts fascinated them. And this silly sentimentality. Giving meaning to such random objects.
A stout woman in a t-shirt and jeans entered the tent. She turned and saw the old woman,"Who are you?"
"They call me Aggie." and Aulder looked at her clothes more closely, "Tsk tsk, they haven't even got you a proper dress."
"I don't want one. Why are you here?" The woman frowned.
"Oh my," Aulder giggled.
The woman looked disgusted and plopped down in the chair.
"Oh, no pouting. I am here to take care of you. How about some tea?" Aulder smiled.
"Thank you that would be nice." She smiled and arranged herself more comfortably in the chair.
Aulder turned their back and whispered into their hand and a delicate cup full of sweet smelling warm tea appeared. Xander came into the tent. He sighed heavily and walked calmly to the old woman. He bent down and then began to whisper.
"We are not to use trivial magic. We need to conserve to feed the lights and shield. Please respect the order." he said gruffly and began to walk off then said over his shoulder, "I felt you use it."
A teacup appeared in Xander's hands also. Aulder smiled.
"Surely you could let an old mother have her comfort and custom?" They smiled and bowed their head a little.
"Just not so much in front of my mother, please." he huffed in resignation.
They made a little cross with their finger on their heart and put the finger to their lips. Xander turned to his mother. Kissed her on top of her head, set down the teacup in front of her and walked out of the tent.
Hin drank the tea and seemed to enjoy it. Once the cup was empty she set it down in front of her at the little wooden table.
"Thank you," Hin said and yawned,"I think I will take a nap, you don't mind?"
Aulder shook their head as they watched Hin crawl into a pile of cloth and a makeshift bed. Aulder then produced a bowl of water and a wooden Dragon. They whispered and looked into the water and saw what Hin was dreaming. They then whispered for the tiny dragon to stand guard while they watched.
Hin dreamed of a bell tolling. Low and steady. Hin followed the sound in her dream until she came to a stone house. She opened the door and found nothing but white-hot light pouring out. Hin shielded her eyes. Then she took a step toward the door.
Aulder heard crying now and saw that Hin responded to it too, beyond the light. Hin moved effortlessly. Gliding to the other side of the light to a dingy city street. Looking down at the cobblestones, and up at the lights. Hin looked at a figure in an alley crying. Hin moved forward but a wall of black emptiness stood in her way. The dragon bellowed flame in a warning, and then Hin started to choke and was fighting in her sleep. Aulder jumped from the chair.
Aulder waved their hand over the woman's throat. They saw her panic ease. Aulder let a green healing light trail their hand and ran it over most of her body. The healers had left too much undone. Now she would start to feel better. They made sure Hin went back to sleep. The dream was the start. They knew The child had been seen, but a dream attack was highly irregular. Itzal was certainly showing just how much he had learned in exile. It was too much. Aulder clucked their tongue and thought hard about their next steps. They had to tread lightly but knew also they had no time left to coddle the woman. Itzal now knew where the child was. And Aulder knew they had to reach the child soon.