An hour later they ventured on with an extra basket full of fresh fruits and fish to last them for couple of days. With it the last of Gale’s money was gone, too. He let him carry the egg until they got back on the edge of the market in a small hidden alley way which was empty enough to take off. Accark was reluctant to return the egg and his tail slumped, or more like crashed by the sound of it, on the ground and he moved extra slow to remove the egg and return it into the waiting bag. But in the end, he did it. Gale switched it for the basket so his hands wouldn’t feel too empty and they both took off to the blue sky. Accark led them to his castle.
He’d expected something grand, but he didn’t imagine it would be straight out of a story book. Big and old, backside firmly against the mountain. It was definitely built for dragons and wasn’t a take over, like they called the homes bought from other species, which were often an emotional buy rather than practical. This one was practical, having only small ladder-like road leading up to the castle which somebody had considered important to fix with new rope handles on the edges to stop whoever was visiting from falling to their death with gusts of wind. On top of it was a large landing balcony with its long take-off road that lead straight to monster size door suitable to any size dragon. It did have a smaller one built into the big door, which looked amusingly perfectly sized for a certain dragon trying hard to hide his growling belly.
They landed and Accark lead them through a gallery of corridors leading in the backside of the castle pressed against the huge mountain. He hadn’t said anything for a good while now, worrying Gale more than he wanted to admit. Accark was always talky, but since the wolves that morning he hadn’t said a word or hardly looked at him. Even when carrying the egg he had been tight tongued.
Accark pushed the last door open on their left and beckoned him in, standing away from the door. The warmth from the place whooshed over him as he stepped in.
The room was not very big, but surely bigger than his apartment altogether. Most of it had been carved into the mountain wall, leaving only castle’s inner walls that were built up by masonries. There were rows of small windows carved into the wall that let in daylight from outside which could all be covered up with one long curtain from inside. Opposite it were arranged shelves with crystal globes that shined the light when it fell on them, sparkling it all around the velvety looking wall carpets and pillows scattered everywhere. To his surprise, he didn’t see dust anywhere. Either Accark had a housekeeper or he came here every time he disappeared for a week or two, yet he hadn’t come here for a long time, according to himself, so it had to be someone he trusted. By the looks of the small treasure stacked on the shelves it seemed he was here often to check them over though, for no other dragon would touch these without the owner present.
“I’m sorry, this is the only room I’m currently using aside the kitchen and bath.” He offered quietly for explanation, left the basket in the middle of the room and hurried to gather up the pillows.
“It’s alright,” Gale called out to stop his fussing, “come on, eat first.”
Accark stopped, still holding four of the pillows, then let them fall by his feet and came back to where Gale was settling his bag down. He nudged the nearest blue pillow and prompted the egg on top of it, holding back the urge to hide it away. Better where he could easily keep an eye on it.
“You said you have a kitchen.” He reminded him.
Accark nodded. He took the basket and lead the way, ignoring the egg completely. He took them back outside, down a small dark corridor to a large room with wide fireplace, similar to what he saw in the bedroom, only much larger, he gathered that was the living room, and through the edge of it, which was free from the big sofa-set pillow piles, to a smaller room with large table in the middle for preparing meals and cupboards to store utensils. Grains and dry food were stored in baskets hanged under the ceiling to keep the rats at bay, for meat and fish there was only classical cooler cabinet carved into the north wall, which would seem old fashioned if not the fact that the castle was clearly far away from any electricity. If it was made by old masons, he guessed it would be just as good.
Gale turned when he heard Accark turn a tap. Water began running into small basin and Accark turned with wire smile. “Running water – we’re not completely savages here.” He joked dryly.
“Where is it coming from?” Gale asked, curious how he’d get it running up from the wells.
“There’s a reservoir hidden on top of the hill. Cold water only, sorry.” He grabbed a glass and filled it with the water. Gale’s eyes widened, when he tried to drink it and he snatched it from his hands without thinking. He swirled it a bit, cleaning it and then returned it to Accark.
He frowned, when he watched the dragon drink it now, embarrassment blushing him under his white facial fur. For someone, who was supposed to return home, he looked surprisingly uncomfortable. Was he afraid he’d be disappointed? As if! So what if it smelled like dragons? It smelled like Accark and this was far grander than any other place he’d slept in, including his own empty apartment until Accark filled it with stuff.
“Pipes.” He coughed, trying to ease the dragon a bit. “They give the water an odd taste if you haven’t washed them through in a long time.”
His wide eyes calmed slightly and Gale offered him a smile. After a moment he filled another glass and gave it to Gale while he cleaned the table from whatever dust would be there, chose a perfect knife for fish and carved them both small piles of raw fish in the middle of slices of fruit. He leaned in on the nearby cabinet and relaxed his wings, watching him showing off his skills. He hadn’t lied – the dragon was clearly fish-eater, for he knew exactly how to to get the most out of what they’d bought. Gale noticed he chose crunchier bones to himself and left him with less noticeable ones, which he wouldn’t have hard time eating.
They were on their way back to the bedroom, for the kitchen had no chairs nor pillows to sit on, when he saw Accark’s, who went ahead, ears perk up. He stopped immediately, holding on to the bowl full of food, to listen their surroundings.
Small feet were walking their way, not hiding their stride. With the swiftness and loudness, it could only be a messenger. Gale quietly reached his bowl out for Accark and after the dragon had taken it, he gestured him to back away slowly and quietly. He removed his gun from the holster and pressed it tight against his hip as he positioned himself between Accark and whoever was coming.
Soon enough they could see two tips of sharp ears showing up from the shadows. They were low and Gale silently breathed out. A goblin.
The small green man stopped only few feet away from them and turned his eyes up, studying them both.
“I have a message for you, Accark.” he told the dragon, ignoring Gale and his gun.
Gale’s eyes rose on Accark. His voice was shaking. He looked up and their eyes met briefly.
“Ah, yes – this is Fizgiez, he works for my father.”
Gale frowned. His eyes never left Accark’s face as the goblin presented his parchment, a rolled up scroll with small shield lock. Both the dragon’s hands were full, so Gale stepped forward and took it from the reluctant messenger, but he didn’t care, his eyes fixed on the fear playing in Accark’s eyes.
Gale had no love for his own father, but he didn’t like Accark’s reaction at all. It wasn’t defiant or anger, it was pure horror of meeting someone you could not refuse and it made Gale’s insides boil. He wouldn’t meet his eyes, when he dismissed the messenger.
Then he turned his attention slowly on Gale, holding his gaze as long as he could. He flinched, trying to discard the bowls on the edge of a portament of some statue, but Gale shook his head, taking the bowl back instead and leading the way to the bedroom.
“Whatever it says, we can read it after we’ve eaten.”
The relief running over Accark’s face was evident to what he suspected – Accark’s alpha was still his father and the prospect scared his peach fluff. And he didn’t like it.