Morning came, along with the news that Nykyl's room had been found empty. So she'd gone already. I sighed heavily and pulled on my cloak, heading for the library. It was typical of her really, overconfident and reckless, setting off in the middle of the night without preparing herself properly. Brawn was one thing, but books were another, and I felt a comfort in knowing as much as I could before attempting it.
As always, the library was empty. After years and years of visiting it, I was sure that it was only really remained for my benefit. No one else acknowledged it's existence, least of all Nykyl, for which I was thankful. I needed somewhere quiet, personal, and undisturbed. I ran my hands across the spines of the books, searching for something - anything- that might aid me in my travels.
When I stumbled across a small, pocket-sized book with a faded blue cover, I just couldn't stop myself from expressing my excitement. I took the book from its shelf with a soft laugh and instantly tore my way through the pages, scanning the pages with my piercing eyes. At the sight of the heading "Aydrol", I grinned. So this would be helpful after all.
Dragons in Aydrol are rare, but do exist. They are solitary creatures, only coming together to mate before they seperate, leaving the female to nurture any young. Dragons most commonly have one egg, which is kept for the duration of a lunar cycle before the mother breaks it open to release the hatchling. Mother dragons are notoriously vicious and protective of their young, whereas the father often migrates to the mountains before it hatches, thus taking no responsibility for the young.
I closed the book and placed it under my cloak. It was bound to be useful in the future. I had kept the map from before, as well as my collection of throwing stars. To be practical, I also had a small helping of bread and dried fruits. I turned my attention back to the self and grimaced as I failed to find any other books that might be useful. Instead, I was left with a heavy heart as I realised how difficult the challenge would be. I'd never felt so unprepared for anything in my life.
"Time to go," I said to myself.
And with that, I took off to the stables.
The weather was glorious for riding, and when I reached the home of Nykyl's mare, I sighed. It was missing, not that I'd expected anything else. However, when I saw that my jet black thoroughbred was gone too, I began to panic. I raced through the building, looking in every stall, only to find her at the very end. She had been tied up clumsily, as if she had been secured in a hurry, and I found that the knot came away easily in my hand.
"Easy, girl," I said soothingly.
She was perfectly still as I loaded the saddle onto her back. Her tail swished, flicking away the earliest of flies with ease. With barely more than a snort of protest, I led her from the stables and into the yard, mounted, and set off. The sound of her hooves against the stony ground was certain to rouse some of the townsfolk but I didn't care; the quest was too important to delay.
"Faster," I said to my horse. "Come on, Ebony, we have to hurry."
And so, the race was on.