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Sovereign of the Dragon (Part 2)
by J.J. Massa

Days had passed and he'd heard nothing from his niece. Rupert tried to relax, really he did. But it was no good.

Everyone was gathered around his bedraggled old television, absorbed in whatever swill was currently parading across the screen. He had never had much use for the box. When his sister became…whatever it was that she was now, Rupert began to despise it even more. Tragedy was news, sadly, and a tragedy involving the monarchy was headline news, to say the least.

"I need the water-closet," he explained vaguely as he edged out of the room. Looking back to ensure that everyone was occupied, Rupert hurried down the hall to his bedroom to check for a letter from Nadya.

He'd always heard that teenagers were self-absorbed. The few he met through his work seemed to bear that out, but Nadya would write, he just knew it.  If she could at all, she would write. That, of course, was why he was so very worried.

Hesitating slightly, he reached for the box, his hand shaking. The shifting sound of a letter within nearly drove him to his knees in a combination of relief and excitement. He pulled the box in and rested his cheek on it as he sank to the bed, his tension finally ebbing away.

"Hey! Whatcha got?"

"Is that a letter from Nadya?"

Exerting iron control, Rupert somehow managed not to shout in surprise and then in anger. Nor did he spring up fighting and express his frustration in not having a single minute to breathe and revel in the knowledge that his niece was okay.

His niece. Newfound though she was, with every day that passed, she grew more important in his life. He thought of her often throughout the days, wondering what she was truly like. How would they have been together if he'd known her as a baby? As a toddler? Part of him raged at Vasily for keeping her from him, but his more sensible, academic side nodded in understanding. She'd lived and grown to near womanhood. In order to protect her, Vasily himself must have stayed away from her, barely knowing his own daughter.

With a deep, long-suffering sigh, Rupert lifted his head and glanced around the room. The gang was all there. Antonio and Grace crowded in the doorway, Lionel and Ally hovering at the end of the bed.

"Yes," he snapped, lifting the polished lid and withdrawing the letter. "I have a letter. And yes, it appears to be from Nadya." Quickly, he turned the letter over, puffing a breath of relief when he spotted the Rasputin and Dragon seal that verified its sender was indeed his niece.

"Well?" demanded Lionel.

Ally cleared her throat apologetically. "You are going to read that, aren't you? To us, I mean?"

The other three were staring at him expectantly. "I suppose it is too much to expect to read my private mail privately," he groused. The words had no effect his audience however as four sets of unwavering eyes fixed on him. "Oh, all right!" he huffed, carefully opening the letter. His hands were shaking so he moved slowly in an effort to disguise his disquietude.

He tried to take a moment and skim ahead, but his staff/friends would have none of it, so he huffily began to read out loud.

                        Dear Uncle Rupert,

I thought I'd never get to write you again. I mean that. I really thought that. I know it's not very politic of me to say so, but I just had to get that out. I mean, you're my uncle and I'm sure I'd already love you just because you're you, but you're my mother's brother and the closest I can ever get to her. If I ever met her…but I don't remember her and I don't know anything about her that my father didn't say the day before I wrote to you.

"That doesn't seem like her, really," Rupert observed in a mumble. "She's all but babbling…"

"Something must have happened," Grace suggested, waving her hand in a "come on" gesture. Rupert began to read again:

I'm sorry for my hysteria and flightiness. It's just that we've had quite a time of it these last few days. We managed to travel from the Schola for the break as planned. Father had given his permission before I was called to the Mistress' office that night he told me about…things. Ms. Sloane was inclined to deny me the trip, but Father had quite frightened her. He is awfully intimidating, isn't he?

"I daresay," Rupert agreed, before catching Antonio's inquiring look. Shaking his head in the negative--he would explain about Vasily Rasputin later, but if there was no way to avoid it…

Leaving Tikan's house--truly, it was nearly a fortress--but we did get away, in the dark of the night. After several near misses, we made our way far enough into the fields to conjure our dragons. Mine is so beautiful, Uncle. She has scales so dark blue that they're almost purple. They fade into a light purple, nearly pink, just at the tips of her feathers. Anyway, we all climbed up, The boys with Tikan and Reilly behind me.

It was amazing! The wind in my hair felt so natural, it was like skimming through heaven. I wanted to shout with joy, I felt so free. But--brace yourself, Uncle Rupert. Something shot at us.

"Oh god," Rupert groaned, dropping his face into his palm and holding the letter over his head. Grace took the letter while Ally and Lionel sat down on either side of him. Ally took his and nodded at Grace to continue reading.

Jason fell off of Tikan's dragon. He wasn't even actually holding on…but off he fell. We thought he was drowned. Thankfully, he's a Kraken. I was ever so glad to see his giant squid burst from the water with Jason on its back.

I wanted to get him, but my dragon advised against it. So did Tikan's, he told me. As soon as I heard my dragon say to wait till the danger was over, the boat below us turned. It seemed to be aiming its gun at Tikan!

~~

February 4, 2012

 

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