Andra followed Olwen through the entrance to the large roundhouse. It was nothing compared to the council chamber of Dragon Hold, more akin to roundhouses their guards lived in. However, it was at least well furnished with silks, cushions, and fine furs. A painted stool with a curved seat that rose up to provide arm rests was placed opposite the door, and rushlights provided a warm glow.
Olwen wandered around, her hand gliding across the silks, furs, and the large wooden treasury chest, before taking her place on the Governor’s chair.
She smiled up at Andra, bright-eyed and giddy, all trace of the agony of the day before had left her. “This will do,” she nodded, then beckoned Andra over with a finger, “I want you to do something for me.”
It had been a long while since Andra had heard Olwen laugh, but she was certain she heard a trace of a giggle on her voice. “Anything,” she replied, stepping forward and kneeling at the feet of her Mistress.
“I want you to gather the orphans.”
“Orphans?” Andra’s stomach tightened. She thought of the fate that had befallen the Elves captured from the hunting grounds… surely Olwen didn’t mean to lead children to the same end? The lightness of Olwen’s mood could often be hard to read but she had not slid so far into darkness… had she?
“I want to take them in,” she said brightly, “adopting a few local orphans should be a popular move, don’t you think?”
“You want… ?” Andra could have been toppled with a whisper, she was stunned into silence, “You want us… to have children?” she fought to hold back the grin that threatened her cheeks. She hadn’t considered it before. Children had never been a remote possibility when they had been in hiding, living day by day, waiting for the dreadful moment the Wizards discovered Olwen’s hiding place. But now? Now it was all over? Why not? Why couldn’t she and Olwen become mothers to those who had no one?
“You’ll arrange it?” Olwen asked.
Andra nodded, enthusiastically, swallowing a joyful laugh. “Yes, absolutely, most definitely, I’ll arrange it.”
“Good,” Olwen nodded, satisfied, “I intend to raise a new generation. Strong, healthy young warriors, skilled in magic. We shall raise them to be leaders; Gods for the Godless, with the dragons as their slaves.”
“I’ll find them,” Andra said, taking Olwen’s hand and feeling finally that the Olwen she loved was back, and stronger than ever.
There was a sudden commotion behind them. Andra stood and spun around to see the Governor of Midwinter Down brought in, held arm-in-arm by two of her soldiers. “What is the meaning of this?” She demanded, standing protectively in front of Olwen.
“I have information,” the Governor whimpered. He looked even more haggared than when they had first conquered the fort and it seemed that her soldiers had done a fine job of persuading him tell them anything he knew of an Elven army led by a Wizard.
“Information?” Olwen stood, looking down as he kneeled before her.
“We were warned of your… arrival, Mistress,” he sunk his head, his body shook and he seemed to want to prostrate himself before her by squirming on the rich furs.
“By a Wizard.”
Andra shot Olwen a look, preparing herself for the reaction of fear and panic that usually accompanied any mention of Myrddym. But instead she laughed lightly, as if the news nothing more than amused her.
Olwen leaned down, “Did she have a child with her?”
The Governor looked up, bemused, and Andra too was curious about this strange line of questioning. The man shook his head. “No, no she had an Elf with her and a Fenner and some other man. But no child.” His brow furrowed and he looked at his guards, expecting a reprimand but none came.
“A young woman perhaps? Weak, emotional, weeping most likely?” But the man continued to shake his head, while Andra remained bewildered. “Not to worry,” Olwen replied lightly, “but you can tell me where she went?”
“I-I don’t know.” His skin was pallid, and his eyes were sunk back with dark rims but he shook his head again, vigorously. He had given them nothing new and Andra didn’t know whether to reprimand him for keeping his secrets or her soldiers for believing he was ready to talk.
“You are a liar,” Olwen spoke calmly but a sudden crack of thunder bellowed around the room and the man screamed as he writhed on the floor under the power of Olwen’s magic.
It lasted only a second. He was dead in an instant and Olwen appeared exhausted by it. She stumbled slightly as she returned to her seat, waving at the soldiers to leave.
They glanced at Andra and she nodded to them. Hurriedly, they grabbed the body of the Governor between them and dragged it from the roundhouse.
“She is weak,” Olwen whispered, and there was a smile at her lips.
“But,” Andra replied, confused, “her army?”
Olwen stared at her, and shook her head slowly. Barely a hint of blue at her eyes and the golden tint was fading. “She has no army and her strength weakens. She hasn’t tamed the power of Dragons, instead, she relies on the power of a child, an untrained colt with a spark of natural talent, nothing more.”
“How-How do you know?”
“It matters not,” she said with a wave of her hand, “What does matter now is that Myrddym is no longer a threat. And I mean to ensure that no Wizard is ever a threat again.”