Danielle took a break from munching on her supper of simple farm food and smiled at Freida, who was sitting next to her on a long flat stone near the edge of their eyrie.
“Isn’t this place great?”
Unfortunately, Frieda had just taken a big bite of her bread loaf and gotten a much bigger chunk than she’d expected. Bits of bread fell from her lips as she struggled to get it all in. She waved her hands in mock distress. “Hmphf,” was all she could manage to say.
“Absolutely!” Anders interjected. “This place is just fantastic! Just fantastic.”
Their eyrie was perched along the lower half of the nearly vertical face of grey rock that soared more than five hundred meters up behind the war council’s dais. It was wide enough that they couldn’t hear the conversation of the adults, who were sitting some thirty meters away to their left, next to the squatting gargoyles. Tiny sat next to Ita-Mudak, apparently listening to the conversation, his head turning back and forth as Ita-Mudak patted it.
Freida finally choked down her bread and added, “I love this place. It’s so…so…”
“Fantastic!” Anders quipped, his wide smile revealing a bright bit of carrot lodged between his teeth.
The girls laughed. It was a shrill, merry laugh, loud enough that it turned the heads of the adults. A laugh of lightness and joy that disguised the very real anxiety all of the kids held for their friend, Paign, and his mother.
“What? What?” Anders asked, uncomfortably aware that the girls were not just laughing at his witty remark.
Both girls pointed at his mouth. “Carrot!” came the reply, in perfect unison.
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