“I see smoke!” I said, stopping to look at the wisp coming from among the trees ahead.
“Finally,” Faiza said from behind me, “we found someone.”
That was quicker than I’d hoped for. It was just yesterday that the grimulin attacked and I’d decided to keep going up the mountain anyway.
We went in the direction of the smoke, and soon stumbled on a cottage.
“I guess dwarves do live in houses after all,” I said.
“It’s too big,” Ethan said. He was right. It was as big as any human house in Minaria.
“Maybe they built it for human guests.” I shrugged.
“We didn’t come all this way to stand around,” Faiza said, marching up the front porch stairs. Ethan and I followed her.
On the second knock, the door opened to reveal a round face and huge blue eyes. The face was level with ours. The girl that answered the door wasn’t a dwarf, but a human about our age. My first thought was that she was an orphan who came out here to escape the soldiers, but that was farfetched.
She looked just as surprised to see us as we were to see a non-dwarf. The four of us stood staring at each other until Faiza said, “You’re not a dwarf.”
The girl with the big blue eyes raised her chin. “Neither are you. What are you doing here?”
“Looking for dwarves,” Faiza said. “Do you know where they are?”
“Why do you want to know?”
“That’s our business.”
The girl frowned. “Who are you looking for?”
“I just told you,” Faiza rolled her eyes. “The Dwar—“
“Yes the dwarves. They do have names.” Faiza seemed to have offended her. “Tell me the name of who you are looking for.”
“We don’t know who we’re looking for,” I told her.
“If you don’t have a name, I can’t help you.” She started to shut the door.
“Wait!” I stopped the door with my hand. “I know what he looks like.”
She slowly opened it again and looked at me expectantly.
“He had dark hair. And…” I tried to remember what the dwarf in the dream looked like, but the details of his face were fuzzy. “And it was pulled back in a ponytail.”
“That’s a bit vague,” she said and I was scared she would shut the door again, but she didn’t. “Why do you want to speak with this person?”
“I…it’s a long story.”
She didn’t say anything. Just stood there with her large eyes looking at me.
“The dwarves,” I started hesitantly. “They know magic, don’t they?”
“Some do. Are you interested in learning magic?”
“Yes,” said Faiza at the same time I said, “No.”
We looked at each other and she glared at me. She clearly wanted me to say whatever might get this girl to take us to the dwarves.
I looked back to the girl, who now had a hand on her hip and was looking at us like Faiza looked at the Foxes when they weren’t behaving.
“Can they send dreams?” I asked. At the word “dreams,” her face changed from annoyed to interested.
“Why do you ask that?” She stepped farther out of the doorway and I could see that her pecan-colored hair came to her waist.
I forced myself to say the next words, hoping they didn’t sound silly. “I think someone from Hashna has been trying to tell us something in a dream.”
“What was the dream about?”
I looked at Faiza who had her arms crossed and was tapping a finger against her arm, then at Ethan, whose face was impassive. I wished I didn’t have to be the one to describe my weird dream. Still, it was too much of a coincidence that a grimulin—a creature that hadn’t been seen in centuries—just happened show up yesterday after I had one in my dream.
“The dwarf with the dark hair—the one I was telling you about—tells me to come to Hashna.” I left out the part about the gemstone. I didn’t know if I could trust her.
“He tells you to come here?” Her voice rose with excitement. “Did he tell you to bring him something?”
“Umm…” How did she know that? Was it a lucky guess?
“Something valuable?” she prompted.
Faiza uncrossed her arms and let out a huff of air. “If you know something, just tell us.”
The girl gave Faiza an annoyed look. “I’ll only take you to the dwarves if you show me something.” She looked at me expectantly with the last three words, and I had a feeling she knew what I had around my neck.
“What are you? Their personal guard?” Faiza snorted.
The girl stood taller. “I’m the ambassador to Hashna.”
Faiza laughed at her. The girl’s cheeks turn red and she gave a smoldering look to Faiza.
Ethan cleared his throat. “King Radon broke the treaty with the dwarves three years ago.” He let the statement hang as a question, but before the girl could explain Faiza cut in.
“Besides, you can’t be more than twelve.”
“I’m fifteen. And I am the ambassador. It doesn’t matter what the king says.”
That got her strange looks from all of us.
She sighed. “Just show me the thing you found.”
I started to pull the chain around my neck, but stopped.
What if she worked for whoever sent that grimulin after us? Ethan didn’t think it was the dwarves who conjured it up, but maybe he was wrong. Or maybe it was a human. She was human. Maybe her parents were sorcerers.
But maybe she knew the dwarf who sent me the dream and if I didn’t show her, we’d spend another week wandering around trying to find the dwarves.
Could I trust her?
Next chapter comes out Thursday!
Check out the Hashna Stone Page for previous chapters