You say goodbye to Larana and follow Heather down a twisting passageway. It's hard going; at one point you have to put your feet on one wall and use your hand on the other. Heather, being smaller than you, simply wriggles through like an eel.
"Not much farther now," she says, just like she's been saying for the last ten minutes.
"How-" you begin, then break off as you put out a hand to catch yourself on the wall, only to find there's nothing there. You fall forward, almost flattening Heather, who dodges just in time.
"Hey, watch it!" she tells you.
"Sorry." You pick yourself up and look around. The cave you've entered is large, but has a look about it like it's only recently been hewn. Seemingly reading your mind, Heather says,
"Yeah, Koronna got Sheratan, R'shi, T'nir, Shaula and just about everyone else with a dragon to hack out this little hidey-hole for her." Heather grins suddenly. "'Course, since she bonded Lidanio, she's been showing her off to anyone who comes down here! I think she was feeling a little left out being the only one without a dragon." Heather raises her voice. "Koronna? Are you in there?"
"Heather!" The curtain in front of you is drawn back and you find yourself face to face with a dark skinned, black haired young woman with a broad smile on her face.
"See what I mean?" Heather mutters in an underside to you. "She never used to be this extroverted."
"Come on in," Koronna says, standing back just far enough for you to step through. The cave has that kind of almost haphazard look that a tidy place gets whenever someone decides to spontaneously turn it upside down looking for something.
"She used to be a lot tidier as well," Heather points out.
"What kind of dragon do you have?" you ask, trying to keep the conversation moving along.
Immediately Koronna's eyes light up.
"Of course, you haven't seen her yet, have you?" She beckons you through into an adjoining cave that's huge and full of warm sand. Lying in a relaxed pose in the middle is a huge silver dragon, obviously fully grown.
"This is Lidanio," Koronna says, in a tone of hushed awe and pride. "She's a female silver from Dragon Moon. She was one of Charmiaz and Ondran's clutch. I couldn't believe it when I bonded her; silvers are the highest ranking and very rare. They're also supposed to be able to shape-change, although Lidanio is a little shy of performing for people-she considers it to be somewhat beneath her dignity," she adds with a laugh.
Lidanio blinks at you sleepily. It's the same kind of look a cat would give a stranger, a kind of "If you're not going to feed or pet me, what use are you?"
"How old are you, anyway?" you ask, curious now. Koronna shrugs slightly.
"Oh, just...interested. I was wondering if there was a certain age you had to be for applying, that's all."
"Interested, are you?" Koronna asks, a slight gleam in her eyes. "There's no real answer to that; it depends where you go. R'shi has to be the youngest dragonrider here; he's only twelve. I think my age is about average." She shrugs again, clearly not bothered one way or the other.
"So are there any other Kellarian dragons here, or are you the only one?" you ask.
Koronna's teeth flash white against her skin as she laughs.
"No, I'm not the only one! You should go and visit Sheratan and Cabrauntes!"
"Yeah, maybe we should," Heather says. "C'mon, her cave's just down here."
"Thanks for showing me around," you manage to get out before you're yanked out. Koronna laughs.
"No problem. Maybe when you come back, Lidanio will be a little more talkative. Say hi to Sheratan for me!"
Thanks to Icon Bazaar for this background