• Published 31st Aug 2020
  • 417 Views, 23 Comments

The Pony Loa - Leila Drake

A troll couple accidentally summons ponies to Azeroth. And a flustered human. But for the trip back they need the help of a mage as powerful as Twilight Sparkle...

  • ...

Chapter 16: Back Door Approach

"You must be wondering why I'm showing up now of all times," said Darren. "The truth is, I've been abroad. After Northrend, I was in the Plaguelands, fighting the remains of the Scourge."

"But you could at least have sent a letter!" Stephen objected.

Darren shook his head. "I was a long way from civilization. I'm truly sorry."

"You look so different... and yet the same..." Marina said, incredulously shaking her head. "Your eyes are the most brilliant blue... and that tattoo! I thought paladins weren't allowed to have those on their faces."

Darren shifted his weight uncomfortably. "I changed."

"How did you get away from Northrend?" Stephen asked, crossing his arms. "I thought nobody escaped because Prince Arthas burned the ships."

Eclipse rubbed his forehead, confused. "Errr, if nobody escaped, then how do you know about that?"

Stephen hesitated. "It was in the news later on, I guess they found out by questioning those zombie creatures."

"They're not zombies, they're called Forsaken," Eclipse cut in. "I know about Northrend and all that stuff. Darren told me everything."

"Did he now?" Marina smiled kindly at Eclipse but somehow Eclipse could tell that she was as sceptical as her husband. "Then how did he escape?"

Eclipse's face flushed as he was asked this directly. He looked at Darren who sighed in defeat. "Go ahead, kid."

"Well," Eclipse said slowly, "He was, uh, enslaved by the Scourge, to - to fight for them. But when the Lich King was defeated, Darren was set free." As he saw the doubtful faces of the three humans, he frowned. "Shouldn't you be, like, happy that he's alive? You look at us like strangers. I mean, I'm a stranger, okay, granted. But really? Your own cousin? There - there should be a party or at least a hug or, I dunno, something." He spread his forelegs.

Stephen huffed and eyed his alleged cousin. "A talking horse familiar is hardly proof that you're, in fact, Darren. You could be impersonating him. It's not unheard of, people posing as long lost relatives."

Darren's face fell.

"I know!" Eclipse said quickly, raising his hoof. "You could compare your memories! Like, where did you go to school? Who was your best friend? What was your favourite place?"

Three ears were pressed against the bedroom door from the inside.

"What are they talking about?" asked Vera quietly.

"I'm not sure," whispered Beatrice. "I think they're sharing childhood stories."

"Boring," Vera decided.

"I don't trust him," Carl said dully. "He looks like a death knight."

"Don't be stupid. Death knights don't breathe or eat. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't befriend a pegasus." Beatrice shook her head at her brother's lack of common sense.

"Then what about that rune tattoo on his face?" Carls said angrily. "He's definitely not a paladin like Dad always says he was. And the white hair, the pale skin. And the eyes! They're too blue. There's something weird going on. It could be dark magic! He could be dangerous. Maybe he's even one of those mind readers! Why else would they send us away and talk to him alone?"

Beatrice groaned and sat on her bed. They had chosen the girls' bedroom to eavesdrop because it was the closest to the stairs.

Vera raised her hands in exasperation. "But he's nice!"

"He could be faking," Carl snapped at her.

"I think the pegasus is just a kid," Vera mused, ignoring the jab. "He sounds like a boy. I didn't know that horses could talk."

"They can't," Beatrice said matter-of-factly, her eyes wandering across the pages of a book. "He's gotta be some other creature. Maybe 'Darren' cursed him to be a horse to make him his servant. And you need to do your homework, not fantasize about playing with unicorns."

Vera stuck her tongue out at her when she was sure that Beatrice was not looking.

As Eclipse listened to Darren and Stephen comparing their memories, he realized one thing: Darren was definitely older than Stephen. And Darren had looked after his cousin more than once when Janeck and Emily had been busy working. Also, the last time they had seen each other had been shortly before Darren had been drafted. Darren had met Stephen's two older children when they had still been very young.

The longer they talked, the more serious Marina became and the more happy Grandma Emily looked. With a soft smile, she watched the exchange. She sat there, saying nothing, like a silent observer... like Spunky!

Oh no, thought Eclipse. He had no idea how late it was! He hesitantly raised his hoof.

"Excuse me, can I say something?"

"Sure." Stephen said graciously.

"What time is it? 'Cause we're supposed to meet someone."

Marina stood up and peeked around the doorframe into their living room. "It's half past One," she said.

Darren's eyes widened. "We need to go!" he said. "Sorry. Lost track of time."

"Right." Stephen seemed surprised and sort of relieved.

"Look," said Darren, "I don't know exactly how long I'm going to stay in Stormwind. It won't be longer than a few weeks. And after that I won't have any way of contacting you."

"Oh?" Stephen's brows rose even higher at that.

"I'd very much like to see you again," said Emily. "Thank you for coming. It was a pleasure to get reacquainted. And I am sorry for treating you like a ghost, my dear. Sometimes I'm not so sure what or who is real. It comes with the age, you see, it's not intentional."

Darren stood up. "Thank you for your hospitality. If you want to meet again, we're staying at the Gilded Rose."

Stephen accompanied them to the door. He lowered his voice so his family would not hear him.

"You may have fooled my mother but not me. Don't come back here, whoever you really are. I played nice for the sake of my family but dark sorcerers are not welcome in my home." With these words, Stephen shot an angry glare at the flabbergasted Darren and gently shut the door. They could hear him locking it twice from inside.

"Bye!" Eclipse said sarcastically to the door. "Thanks for the lunch... jerk."

He turned to Darren. The human's face was an unreadable mask. A bad sign.

"I'm really sorry how that went," said Eclipse. "I didn't think your cousin would be this mean."

"Not your fault, kiddo. It was worth a try," Darren said hoarsely. He took a deep, long breath. "We better get going, there isn't much time."

"So how do we get to the inn and the park fast enough?" asked Eclipse.

"We run. And hopefully don't trip."

"Oh joy."

Nylene and Levinia hurried back to the Gilded Rose, both carrying bulky bags. There had to be some kind of sinister magic involved because somehow Nylene had not only bought three robes but also a new chestplate, pants and several silk scarves. How was it that when you went shopping with the intention to find something specific you always found something else instead?

While Levinia had watched the bags, Nylene had eaten a quick lunch, some street food from a slightly apprehensive vendor on Cathedral Square. Now they were late. At least they both had wings to protect their loot from the rain, more or less.

They still arrived at the inn completely soaked. Levinia helped Nylene to spread the clothes on the chairs in her room to let them dry. They grinned at each other guiltily. Nylene urged Levinia to go downstairs but the pegasus first turned into a wisp and back into a pegasus, thus getting rid of the water in her coat and mane. A little cloud of mist hung in the air, evaporating quickly.

They sat down on a couch in the lounge the exact moment when Darren and Eclipse came back, also drenched from head to toe.

"Hi!" Levinia greeted them happily.

Eclipse dropped onto a chair like a sack of potatoes. "I'm gonna stay here, is that okay?"

"In fact, I would have asked for it anyway," Darren admitted. "Are you ready, Levinia?"

The mare nodded. She glanced at Nylene who shook her head.

"I will look after Eclipse," she offered. "Get him cleaned up, perhaps have a game of Hearthstone. What do you say, An'dorei?"

"Sure, why not. I need the distraction."

"See you later, then." Darren sprinted upstairs and into his room. He quickly donned his new leather armour and slung the sword belt over his shoulder. No point in taking any chances.

Darren was silent for the entire way to their rendezvous point with Spunky. Levinia wondered whether she should ask him what was wrong. Had the meeting with his uncle been that bad? But this was not a good moment. They were about to meet a potentially dangerous stranger and Levinia would be the last one to underestimate somepony who managed to track down and follow her with such ease. She would not want to distract Darren in such a delicate situation.

By the time Levinia and Darren reached Cathedral Square, the rain finally subsided. To their relief, they easily found their way to the park. They needed to cross the evenly paved square, then take a right behind the City Hall.

They found themselves at the gazebo Spunky had mentioned. It was deserted, the rows of stone banks before it empty.

"This looks like a place for weddings," Levinina commented. "But not with that weather, I guess. Aw, the roses are so pretty!" She dashed over to the gazebo, a wooden, round construction that looked out upon a small lake. Red and white roses grew there, holding on to the woven fence. The blossoms were half closed because of the rain. Levinia turned around and smiled happily. "I've always loved roses," she explained. "I had roses in three colours at my own wedding. Now where is that raven?"

"Over here," said a calm voice she recognized. A hooded man stepped out from behind a bush. How had they not noticed him before?

Darren's hand went to the hilt of his sword.

The man raised his arm defensively. "There's no need for that. As I told Levinia yesterday, I wish you no harm. In fact, I think I might be able to help you with a problem."

Darren's hand did not move. The water puddles in the close vicinity froze over.

"Darren, it's okay, it's him," said Levinia, raising her hoof. "I recognize the voice."

"Thank you." The man slowly put down his hood. He was, just as Levinia had suspected, human. He seemed at least fifty years old, with short grey, almost white hair and brilliantly blue eyes. She was not sure if it was her being undead but she could feel with certainty that there were both powerful magic and a sharp wit hidden behind those eyes.

Now Darren's hand let go of the sword hilt.

"Khadgar?" he gasped, completely astounded.

"You two know each other?" Levinia's eyes wandered from one to the other.

"No," both men said at the same time.

"But he's famous enough." Darren shook his head. "Why did you follow us?" he asked Khadgar. "Was it something we did?"

Khadgar pursed his lips. "You could say that. Let's walk a bit, shall we?"

Without waiting, he turned and led them down a broad flight of stairs into the park that was apparently also a cemetery. Hundreds of gravestones dotted the grass. Old oaks and lime trees guarded the place, forming a natural roof above their heads. There were a few visitors, putting down flowers, quietly conversing or praying. A city guard patrolled up and down the main path. Darren and Levinia followed Khadgar curiously.

There was a little gust of wind that made Levinia's hackles rise for a second, then, it died down again.

"Somebody wrote me a letter about you right after you arrived in Booty Bay," Khadgar explained. "They told me that they met two foreign, even otherwordly horse-like creatures along with a human that behaved like a death knight but wasn't one, a demon hunter and a troll shaman. As if that wasn't strange enough by itself, they noted that the creatures talked and behaved like humanoids and tried to befriend virtually everybody, even the actual death knight on board. Oh, and one of them was a ghost. Then there's the fight between you and Tarik and the incident with the birds. Do you know how rare it is that somebody goes out of their way to help an Undead, from an enemy faction no less?" Khadgar paused to look at Darren. "Let me tell you, you and your friends stuck out like a sore thumb. Or," his gaze wandered to Levinia, "a sore hoof in your case."

"Should have known," Darren huffed, angry at himself.

"So, given the circumstances, I had to assess the possible threat myself. That's why I tracked you down and followed you as soon as I received the writ."

"I see," said Darren neutrally.

"Calm down, Mr. Darren, I figured out you just want to help the ponies get home," Khadgar said with a smirk.

"Why do you want to help us?" Darren asked, getting suspicious.

Khadgar stopped and raised his brows. "Believe it or not, sometimes I do things not because they are my job but because they're right. But that aside," he turned to Levinia, "you came through a portal, didn't you?"

Levinia nodded. "I think it was one anyway," she said slowly. "We were just sucked in like termites into the mouth of an antbear. It was terrifying." She shuddered just from thinking of it.

"Who created the portal? Was it someone from Azeroth?" Khadgar lowered his voice.

"Well, yeah, but it was an accident... he didn't mean to do it."

"Who was it, though?" Khadgar repeated.

"Vol'Shalai," Levinia pressed out. "I don't like to tell on my friends," she muttered under her breath.

"Should we even be talking about this here?" Darren asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Don't worry." Khadgar smiled. "I cast a spell when I entered the cemetery. Nobody can hear what we are talking about."

So that was the strange gust of wind earlier, Levinia thought. She had not even recognized it as magic. Khadgar made her feel a little helpless. She discreetly shifted closer to Darren.

They turned right and soon reached the end of the paved path. A low wall surrounded the paved area, keeping people from falling into the lake. Stone benches lined the wall, facing the water. Khadgar sat down on one of the benches and Darren reluctantly joined him.

"You know, Levinia," said Khadgar, "somebody else might have killed the troll for summoning them without their consent."

Darren snorted. "We truly didn't appreciate it but I already knew the man. His bond with Levinia was probably what made the spell go haywire in the first place."

"Oh? I see..." Khadgar rubbed his chin in thought. It made Levinia think of Starswirl the Bearded for some reason even though Khadgar's chin was shaved. "That would be hard to reconstruct, then..."

"It's been done before." Darren said slowly. "But with different means. From what a mage told me it needs both Arcane and Holy magic to work. And the spellcaster needs to know where to go or else the portal exit opens up anywhere on the planet. The slightest alteration and the spell is thrown off with an unpredictable outcome."

"You sound like you saw it happen before," Khadgar remarked.

"I did. I was the one who exited the portal miles away - and months later than the others who went through it."

Khadgar frowned, nodding.

"We're waiting for someone on the other end to contact us. I am not a mage; neither are the others. We don't know how to set up the spell."

"Okay, stop, stop," Levinia said suddenly, raising her hoof. "Darren, can we talk for a second?" She pulled at his arm and Darren stood up, following her until they were - hopefully - out of earshot.

"How do we know we can trust that guy? You're telling him how to get to Equestria! Are you really, really sure Khadgar is good?"


"How can you be sure?" Levinia exclaimed, then quickly lowered her voice. "You said you don't know him!" she hissed.

Darren frowned. "I don't know," he admitted. When Levinia opened her mouth he raised his hand. "But since meeting Twilight and her friends I find it easier to tell who is lying and who's sincere. It's almost like a new skill."

Levinia's eyes widened. "I believe you," she said quietly.

"You do? It's rather vague."

"Element of Honesty," Levinia muttered. "I think it's the Magic of Friendship."

Darren pursed his lips. "Gladius mentioned something like that. A long time ago, when we were captives in Silvermoon. It adds up, I suppose." He huffed. "So you do agree we can trust the man?"

Levinia nodded and smiled warmly. "I trust you, Darren. So if you vouch for him like this that's good enough for me."

Nylene had not taken care of a child for centuries. Ever since meeting the little pony, she caught herself wanting to to do that more and more. Now she had to wash the colt's face and legs. The inn had no shower and they needed to improvise with the water bowl. Nylene had to go downstairs and ask for more water and then they had enough to get all the grime and dirt out. As she rubbed Eclipse's barrel dry with a towel, he giggled.

"That tickles," he complained but kept smiling. "Thanks, Nylene. Oh, mare, I really miss a nice hot shower. Or a bubble bath in the bathtub when you stay in until all the bubbles are gone and the water gets cold. I got this little toy boat for baths and Peridot has one, too. So both of us can play with two boats. I guess our parents thought, 'why give each child two boats when they can share?' I mean, we're too old to take baths together anyway."

"Is that so?" Nylene asked softly, giving him the towel so he could dry his rump by himself.

"Yeah. Mom and Dad adopted me four years ago, more or less. It kinda feels longer, though. Maybe because I can't remember anything before that. Maybe I didn't even exist before that. Or the Umbrum don't do anything interesting in their original shape. I only knew my name when I was found so they must have told me that, at least." Eclipse grinned apologetically. "It's all a big mystery."

"There, all clean," Nylene said, taking the towel back from him and spreading it on the chair's back. "So, do you wish to play now?"

"Yeah!" Eclipse exclaimed happily. He hugged Nylene, wrapping his forelegs around her neck and pressing his head against her cheek. A strange warmth spread inside her chest and it had nothing to do with the demonic fire in her veins. She stiffened as she wondered if she could still shed tears. And if she could - would it hurt?

Eclipse let go, unaware of Nylene's inner turmoil, and dashed over to the table. His Hearthstone cards were still spread all over the tabletop. He used his wingtips and hooves to put the ones he had chosen into two piles.

Suddenly, he sat back and sighed angrily. His ears folded down and he hung his head. Nylene sat down next to him, stretching out her hand to touch his cheek.

"What's wrong, An'dorei?" she asked softly.

"Stephen doesn't believe Darren," Eclipse said with a deep frown.

"Who is Stephen?"

"His cousin. But he doesn't believe that they're cousins. I think that he thinks that Darren uses mind reading magic to know so much about their past. So he can pretend to be Darren even though he's not. And that's just a load of gezzno kodo shit."

"Did you just swear, child?"

"Oops. I didn't even know I could swear in Orcish." Eclipse grimaced.

Nylene sighed. "Darren knows Orcish, too; you probably do because of that. He doesn't appreciate it when you swear, Eclipse."

"I know," Eclipse drawled. "I'm trying not to, for his sake. I don't really care but I guess if I want to become a guard I should keep trying. Anyway! I want to help him. But I don't know how. Do you have any ideas?"

"What do you want to do? Console him? Or find a way for Stephen to accept the truth?" Nylene asked slowly.

"Both, actually."

Nylene thought about that for a moment. Considering her experience with other warriors, she decided to give Eclipse her go-to advice for helping troubled men.

"You can talk to Darren about it, ask him if he wants to discuss it. But if he wishes not to, give him time to figure it out by himself."

"Hm, okay."

"As for the other thing... I have an idea but I suspect Darren would not like it."

"Are you sure about this?" Eclipse whispered. They were hidden behind the corner of a house, peering around it to watch Stephen's front door.

Nylene smiled mischievously. "If we knock we're not breaking in, are we?"

"Now I'm also pretty sure Darren wouldn't approve."

"If you don't want to do it you do not have to. I can talk to her by myself," Nylene offered.

"No, she already knows me, it makes sense if I go, too."

"Very well. Hop on, An'dorei, and lower your head do avoid the backlash."

Eclipse fluttered his wings and jumped onto Nylene's shoulders. He quickly held on with both hooves. Nylene dashed across the street and jumped upon the roof of Stephen's house so fast that the naked eye could not even follow her. They were hardly more than a dark mist that swept around the building. Nylene crouched down on the roof tiles and bent over to peer at the backside of the house. She reminded Eclipse of a pony he had once seen walking on a rope on the Crystal Faire. They had used an umbrella pretty much as she used her wings for balance.

"There, is that her?" she whispered, her head almost upside down. Nylene's braid fell down and dangled like a piece of rope. Her clawed hand pointed at a human girl sitting at a narrow table, bent over a book and several scrolls. Vera Fletcher, their youngest, was reluctantly doing her homework.

"Yep, that's her. And she's alone. Perfect. Maybe her sister went out to play. So how do we -?"

"Are you holding on tightly?" Nylene asked.

"Yeah, why - whoa!" Eclipse called out as Nylene jumped, spun around in midair and landed on the narrow windowsill. "Oh, p-ponyfeathers, I didn't see that coming," he stuttered, shaking his dizzy head.

Nylene held on to the wooden frame of the window with one hand and knocked on a glass panel.

Vera winced so hard she almost toppled her inkwell. She stared incredulously at the window, her eyes as wide as saucers. When she saw Nylene in all of her winged glory, she opened her mouth to scream. The demon hunter quickly put a finger to her own mouth to shush Vera. Surprisingly, it worked.

The girl pointed a shivering finger at Eclipse sitting on Nylene's shoulders. He decided to smile and wave at her now that Nylene was hopefully done jumping. Vera gave a hesitant wave back as she saw that both Nylene and Eclipse gave her a friendly smile. Nylene made sure to keep her lips closed.

After a moment of hesitation, Vera stood up and walked over to the window on shaking legs. It seemed they had given her a good scare. But she still opened the window.

"Why did you come back?" she asked.

"Can we come in?" Eclipse asked back.

"I guess."

Nylene stepped through the frame, ducking low so Eclipse would not bump his head. He jumped off her shoulders and thanked her. Nylene nodded, then turned to Vera.

"Hello," she said softly. "My name is Nylene. You don't need to be scared, I will not hurt you. Thank you for admitting us."

"Sh-sure." Vera frowned, taking a step back anyway.

Eclipse had the feeling he needed to calm her down.

"Look, I don't want to get you in trouble or anything. I just want to talk to you about my friend. Nylene came along to help me get up here, that's all."

"That and for moral support," Nylene corrected, sitting down on the now free chair. She was taller than Darren or Stephen, like most Night Elf females. If she stood up straight the tips of her ears would touch the ceiling. "Are you alright?" she asked as she, too, noticed how shaken Vera was.

"Not really, no. A demon and a dark pegasus just came in through my window."

Nylene smiled sadly. "I may look like a demon but I assure you, you are quite safe. If you want us to leave..."

"Well, no! Now I want to know what the fuzz is all about," Vera said quickly. "Why isn't Darren here, too?"

Eclipse grimaced. "Well, he kinda doesn't know we're doing this," he admitted.

"Oh. I see. Do you want to drink something?" Vera offered awkwardly, apparently remembering her manners.

"No, thanks, I'm good," said Eclipse. He dug at the ground with a hoof. "So, I guess I should tell you Darren's secret. But it's pretty scary so please don't scream or anything, okay? And besides, he is really nice, he'd never hurt a child."


"I don't really know where to start." Eclipse looked at Nylene.

"How about how you know Darren?" she suggested.

"Oh, right. I'm a - a special pegasus. I can use pretty powerful magic. And Darren is my teacher, he helps me to control it. And he taught me how to meditate, too. I'm pretty good at it by now."

"Is he a wizard?" Vera asked, slowly sitting down on the edge of her bed.

Eclipse shook his head. "No, he's not. He's a death knight."

"What?! But how is that even possible? Aren't they, like, the soldiers of the Lich King?" Vera stammered.

"Well, he used to be. But Darren's not undead anymore. The Crystal H-, uh, a special magic that only exists at my home healed him. And now he's back to human, a normal human who lives and breathes. But he can still use that magic from before. And I think he eats more than other humans. Though Jonathan also prolly wolfs down twice as much as my Dad." He scratched his muzzle. "It's hard to explain. I don't really know how it works. Just that it's true."

"So you're saying he's not a death knight but he used to be one and now he's kind of half a death knight," Vera summarized.

"Yeah." Eclipse nodded, smiling with relief.

"Then what does he want to do with us?"

"I dunno. I think he just wanted to say Hi. And see who from the family is still alive. We came back to Azeroth by accident and this could be his last chance. I mean, he lost his wife, his five kids and his best friend to the Scourge. So you're the only family he's got. Back home, Jonathan is the only other human around. I think Darren gets lonely sometimes."

"Oh Light." Vera's eyes watered up. "My Dad told him to stay away, didn't he? At the door? I didn't exactly hear it but..."


"Well, that sucks!"


"And you're totally sure that he's not dangerous?" Vera asked, narrowing her eyes.

"If I could say it in Common, I'd say the rhyme but... Yes. I'm very, very sure. I trust him with my life," Eclipse said firmly.

"Wow, isn't that a bit much?" Vera chuckled nervously, fiddling with a strand of her curly hair.

"No, not really. We actually saved each other's lives a couple times." Eclipse shrugged. "So what are we gonna do now? Do you think you can talk to your Dad about it? Tell him that Darren's okay?"

Vera frowned darkly. "He'll think that you cast a spell on me. I don't think I can convince him that easily."

Nylene cleared her throat. "If I may suggest something," she said.

"Yeah, sure. You got an idea?" Eclipse looked at her expectantly.

"We could arrange a chance encounter. On the street. If Stephen met Darren in a public place, seeing that he is friendly in that context, maybe he would reconsider."

Eclipse raised his brows. If they wanted to do that they would have to tell Darren what happened, would they not? Except maybe if they went somewhere they had wanted to go anyway. Where would he want to go if he lived in Stormwind?

"How about we invite them to a walk in the park or something?" he suggested.

"That could work," said Vera. "We have walks in the park sometimes, as a family. But I guess it would be suspicious if we arranged it too fast, you know, right after Darren was here."

"That is true. How about we think about it, you shall think about it as well, and we meet again the day after tomorrow?" Nylene said. "We did surprise you with all of this," she added with a chuckle.

Vera nodded, still fiddling with her hair.

The silence stretched out until Nylene spoke again.

"Very well. Farewell for now, child." She climbed onto the windowsill. "An'dorei?"

"Wait a second." Eclipse made a hesitant step towards Vera. "Thanks for hearing me out. I know it's weird. I can tell by your face. You look like someone who's been told that apples taste like bananas."

"Yeah, just give me some time. But I think I'm okay. I'm glad you came back anyway," she admitted. "Even though it's on the back of a - uh. Excuse me, lady, w-what are you, exactly?"

"I am a Night Elf. And also a demon hunter."

"A-alright." Vera grimaced uncomfortably. "Did I just offend you?"

"No. Do not worry about it." Nylene gave her another tight-lipped smile.

"Bye, Vera," said Eclipse, giving her a little wave. "See you in two days."

"Bye, Eclipse."

Nylene jumped out of the window, reached for the edge of the roof and swung upwards. She landed on the tiles like a cat. Then, she stretched out her hand to offer it to Eclipse.

The colt jumped onto the windowsill, using his wings for the extra boost, and took her hand. Nylene pulled him up and sat him on her shoulder.

As Nylene rushed across the roof, Eclipse heard Vera closing the window.

That had not been so bad, he decided.

Author's Note:

Darren's most spoken sentence in the novel so far: "I am not a mage"