Tainted Victory – Chapter 10, Part 4 (Page-a-Day)

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“We could destroy it,” Goblet said. “Make a mean breakfast.”

“No!” Claudia yelled. “We are not going to smash this egg. We already killed its mother.”

“Sounds like more of a reason to me,” Goblet said.

“Now, hold on,” Hugh said. He looked to Evelyn. “Did you have the same idea I just did?”

“I mean probably not.” Hugh tried not to shiver. “But, if you say what it is, then I probably had come up with it before.”

“Hide this dragon egg, say we destroyed it, and will release Colt to them if they let us go,” Hugh said. 

“That is not the worst idea,” Claudia said. “Still not a guarantee of anything, but it is better than nothing.”

There was a slam against the door. The group hopped in their seats. Hounder leapt up and crept to the door. He let out a toothy, bellowing growl. His hackles reached the top of the table. The party looked at the door. Its wood did not move or change at all. There was a second bang. Claudia loaded an arrow into her crossbow and aimed it squarely at the center of the frame.  Hugh waved his hand downward. He moved to a crouching position. “Who is there?” he asked. His voice was quivering, but he tried to cover it with his most pleasant doctor-patient voice he could manage under the circumstances. 

“Hello,” said a weary, aged voice from the other side of the door. “It is me, Olivier. I hope you hadn’t forgotten about me.”

Goblet jumped to his feet, knockingkncoking the chair to the ground with a clatter of wood against stone. He ran to the door. Upon passing Claudia he smacked her crossbow down out of pure instinct. He reached the door, nearly smacking himself against it, but braced himself, grabbed the handle and swung it open. It took him a beat, and a crack of stormy air to get him to fully take in the portrait of the man before him. It certainly was Olivier. The long beard, bald head, and slender frame made sure of that. However he looked more haggared than his voice let on. He was covered in grime, pebbles, and scruff. HIs robes were in tatters, and his fingertips were blackened. Goblet realized he was staring too long, moved out of the doorway, and ushered the mage into the room.

Hugh made his way over to Olivier, rested one hand under his arm and the other on his back. He felt a weird bump along his back. He could not determine what it was in time before he guided him successfully to the closest chair from the door. He plopped into the seat like gravity fell in on him.

“Thank you,” Olivier said. He went to grab for his staff only to realize it was not with him. He shrunk into his seat. 

“What happened?” Claudia asked.

“Yeah!” Goblet leaned in close. “I tried to save you and failed. Now you look worse than ever.” He placed a hand on Olivier’s shoulder. It was boney. 

“I was lucky to be sure.” Olivier tried to straighten his outfit out, only to realize he barely had any of his outfit remaining. He looked up at Goblet. “I need to thank you, actually, for my escape from that vault.”

“Me?” Goblet asked. His head was tilted and his eyes were big. He looked more doglike than Hounder at that moment.

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