Naturally, it was at this very moment that the door burst open and a large dragon leapt up, landing with crushing weight on her chest.
Muffin eyed her, giving her a worried lick that went mostly up her nose.
"I- arch! Cory! Get your damned lizard off of me!"
At the sound of her insult, the dragon gave a relieved chirrup. She wasn't fooled, of course; he pretended to mean well, but he was really just afraid of losing his favorite target.
"C'mere, Muffin," Cory cooed gently. The dragon hopped off the bed. The air came back to Ezra's lungs in a rush.
Katryn came to the side of the bed, face drawn. "Hey, Ez, are you doing okay?"
"I'm doing just fine. Get me a tavern wench and a bottle of wine and I'll be even better. Where's blondie?"
"Right here," the elf said, moving to stand beside Katryn. "Your condition is more or less stable. A little bit of rest and you should be perfectly fine."
"More or less stable? That's reassuring."
"You are fine, knife-girl," Lorien said irritably. He'd clearly used up quite a bit of healing magic. Magic drain made him grouchy.
"Knife-girl? Really, blondie? That's the best you could do?"
"I… Well… Let me think a minute!"
Ezra turned to Katryn. "While he's thinking, would you mind telling me something?"
"Where am I and how did I get here?"
The city of Greenwood was surprisingly populous, given its small size. It was, of course, still tiny compared to the cities of the Empire where Ezra had grown up, but for a Damsel District city it was pretty impressive.
Lorien was babbling on about trade routes and cabbage farming, but Ezra's attention was already going in two directions.
First, there were the people, for a given definition of the term. She saw human farmers and adventurers, dwarvish miners, the occasional troll, and a few stranger things as well. One adventuring party sported a creature who appeared to be part bird and part tree.
The city was teeming with incredibly diverse life, and Ezra was determined to keep her eye on every bit of it. After all, any one of them could have some connection to Darghzin, or the creature, or just generally someone who wanted her dead.
Second, there was Katryn. She tried to pretend that nothing was wrong, but she was a terrible actor. Ever since they'd left the inn, she'd seemed oddly furtive. Ezra couldn't say she blamed her. After all, this was the city that had once belonged to the evil king who'd had Katryn's village sacked. Still, it didn't hurt to watch out for her leader. Well, not unless it meant that she missed something suspicious happening somewhere else. It was times like these when Ezra wished that she had more than two eyes.
At the sight of an eight-eyed spider creature walking down the street, she quickly withdrew her wish.
The team finally reached the address given to them by the innkeeper, standing in a huddle on the elegant stone steps of the Greenwood Office of Heroics.
"Okay," said Katryn. "This time, I do the talking." She glanced pointedly at Ezra.
"Fine, but in my defense, that clerk was just asking for trouble."
They entered the reception hall. The waiting area was already filled with bored-looking adventurers. Katryn went up to the reception desk to sign them in.
The receptionist looked at Muffin, and then pointed to a brass plaque reading, 'Animal Companions Should Be Leashed At All Times'. Muffin growled in response.
Ezra was already bracing herself for a firefight when a man walked out of one of the consulting rooms and up to the receptionist's desk. He stopped when he saw Katryn.
Katryn sighed. "Please, Percy, It's not 'your highness' anymore. I abdicated."
"O-of course, y- Lady Katryn."
"Oh, for the love of Pratchett."
The team looked at their leader in stunned silence. Finally, Ezra said, "You know, Katryn, I think you've reached your quota for dramatic reveals."
(Story on hiatus until further notice.)