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  • Angel filled Torr’s head with her thoughts as she held contact with his eyes “Aral will live, but I’m not sure I can save her baby.” Torr’s eyes widened “I didn’t know…can I see her?” Angel led them into the infirmary to Aral’s bedside. Aral’s eyes opened and when she saw Torr she began to cry “I’m so sorry. I tried to stop them but they overpowered me. You two go and find her. She will be so scared.” He stood on the other side of her bed from Torr and touched her broken wing. “Aral I’m so sorry. It’s my fault. I never should have left our home when strangers were visiting us. Torr and I will bring her back. You just rest and get well.” He kissed her forehead and backed out of the room leaving Torr by her bedside.

    Angel had filled them in while they were racing back. The four dragon bodyguards had overpowered Aral in the night and left her for dead. They scooped up Kia and bound her tightly. Shia and Angel were awakened by Kia’s thoughts of terror and ran to her room. They found Aral barely breathing. Angel filled the warrior’s heads with the alarm, but they were too late. When they rushed to the mesa top the dragons had gone after killing the three soldiers that were on guard.

    He stood holding Shia and Angel, waiting on his friend. When Torr appeared, he was no longer carefree. The anger burning in him was visible to everyone’s eye. Torr looked at him and together they put the harness on. One of the warriors handed him two laser pistols for his belt and threw her arms around Torr’s neck, “We wish we could go with you. Bring her back safe” and backed away. Torr looked at Angel, “Keep Aral safe. We will be back with Kia” he paused and then “Thank you Angel”

    With one leap they were airborne and climbing for the upper edge of Torr’s flying altitude. “We will be at my father’s courtyard by noon. If he instituted this action, I will kill him on the spot. You must be ready for anything at that point.” He knew that nothing he could say would ease his friend’s pain, so he simply agreed and remained silent. The hours passed slowly, and he thought to Torr “What will we do if your father doesn’t know about their actions? Maybe they decided to blackmail your father and are using her as a hostage.”

    “Then I may still kill my father for sending them and placing Kia in danger. If I let him live, there will be no place on Faldo the four of them will be safe. Even if you and I couldn’t get her back alone, my father’s legions would consider it a privilege to honor him with their deaths. That is why you and I have to find them first. Kia’s safety is the first order for us. For the others, death of the four bodyguards is their only concern.”

    He saw Torr’s point and agreed. Kia’s safety was uppermost in their minds. Although, there were four dragons he wouldn’t mind slaying. She may be Torr’s daughter, but he felt like an uncle or godfather to her. He felt the sudden coldness in Torr’s thoughts as they spotted the lair of his father. Torr circled high, until once again, he had the twin suns at his back as he screamed out of the sky to land in front of his father.

    This time there was no bowing of the head and Torr moved up to his father’s face. When they were nose to nose, “If you are responsible, you will die now. Where is she?” Torr’s father spotted him on Torr’s back with his sword drawn and ready. “Something has happened to Kia? Where are the bodyguards?” he thought to Torr “And who or what is that on your back?”

    “Do not play innocent with me, old one. If I find you are lying to me, you will die a long death. And this is my best friend who will stop any who get in my way” the last was thought loudly and to the entire court. ”He doesn’t have any patience with dragons that would harm children. Especially my Kia, who he thinks of as his niece.”

    Torr’s father physically sagged before their eyes. “I swear to you, I have no knowledge of this. They were supposed to protect her with their lives.”

    “I will let you live this time old one. But know that I will brook no interference from you. You are no longer my liege. And Kia belongs to me, not you. If you had stayed out of my business, none of this would have happened. But, no. You had to control me and mine. Well, you should know that you may have lost a second grandchild when they harmed my bride. My friend’s wife is working hard to save the baby, but it is in her skilled hands alone. And my bride is broken and hurt while I must hunt down and kill your kidnappers; your bodyguards and rescue my daughter.”

    Never had his father been addressed so harshly. He looked years older as he accepted the judgment of his son. “And those of you here today carry the word to others that any that provide aid to the kidnappers will face the same fate as they. Stay out of our way” and with that he leapt into the sky and they were headed toward the next mountain pass.

    “Use your powers to hear all thoughts as we head toward the badland area. There are pockets of renegade dragons that make their home as far from my father’s kingdom as they can. It is barren and inhospitable and not worth anyone’s time to clean them out, until now. As children we were not allowed to go there. We secretly called it “the backside of nowhere” and always planned to slip away and explore it one day.”

    “I am picking up two dragons following us from your father’s court” he thought to Torr. Torr thought for a moment and pulled up to circle until they caught up. “I know them from my childhood. They are friends.” The thoughts of Torr’s childhood friends were consoling and resolute in their demand to help. They stared at him on Torr’s back openly and quizzically. He sent thoughts of friendship to them and soon they were allies in the search for Kia. “Too bad we don’t have gunners riding with us on our backs as we make our way to the backside of nowhere” one of them thought to Torr.

    “If we rescue Kia and come through this alive, you may join us in our land. I promise you that you will have warriors that will jump at the chance to ride with you.” Torr thought to them. “We will have to give you names if you are to deal with the Falians and Humans. How about Tell and Fess?” They agreed to the names and laughed at each other’s new identities.

    He concentrated on the land ahead and listened for stray thoughts as Torr had instructed. “I am picking up thoughts from somewhere to the left of that far peak.” Just then he heard Kia in his head…
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