\'It\'s been too long since I heard from my sisters and judging by Dad\'s gloomy tone, he\'s still mad at Mom.
Maybe now he has calmed down enough to talk about it.\' Friya thought.
Rena and Senton wanted to check on Zekell and make sure that Leria would have all the support she needed.
Ever since the copycat\'s attack on Zinya\'s house, the kids had refused to return to Lutia, bawling their eyes out in fear.
Not even after Lith had them talking with Frey and Filia over the communication amulet and reassuring Aran and Leria that nothing bad had happened to their friends did they want to walk through the Warp Gate again.
They would always start to cry, hugging their magical beasts, Abominus and Onyx, and shivering at the memory of the massacre.
Now that enough time had passed, their parents hoped that the kids would find the strength to confront their fears.
Senton didn\'t like Leria refusing to come down from Abominus\' back in case she needed to retreat quickly nor the fact that she used her free hand to hold Lith\'s instead of that of her own father.
Don\'t take it personally, dear. Rena said while holding his arm.
When you have seen real monsters, it\'s hard to inspire more confidence than a 20 meters tall Dragon.
Will you really let me ride on your back if I come with you to Lutia, uncle Lith She looked at the Warp Gate as if untold horrors waited for her on the other side.
I promise. Lith replied.
And if anything goes wrong, I also promise to fly you back to Grandma.
I call dibs on the horns. Aran looked at the ripple in the dimensional energy while quaking in his pants, but he had his priorities straight.
I wanted to ride between the horns! Leria protested.
You can stay between the feathers. He replied with defiance.
Horns are cool so they are a boy thing while feathers are soft, like a girl.
Mom, Aran is being mean!
Thank the gods! Rena raised her eyes to the heavens with gratitude.
We have yet to get there and things are already back to normal.
The bickering intensified to the point that the kids didn\'t notice being in Lutia until their steeds came out of the barn and a wind way too chilly to belong to the desert ruffled their hair.
The group stopped to look at the familiar landscape while Lith used Life Vision to make sure they were actually alone.
The grass had been regrown with magic, the holes in the ground had been filled, and even Zinya\'s house had been rebuilt, leaving no trace of the fight.
Tezka Lith said after failing to find any trace of the Eldritch.
No reply came and since there was also no sign of impending threats, he was the first to step outside the defensive arrays of the Verhen household.
Thank the gods you are back, Raaz. Bromann, one of the family\'s oldest friends and head of the farmhands rushed toward them.
I\'ve made sure that the army fixed the fields but after plowing and fertilizing them there wasn\'t much we could do without you.
He pointed at the men tending the fields that were long ready for the sowing.
There was a rumor saying that you had moved to the desert and wouldn\'t come back.
Lots of people wanted to quit and search for new employment.
It was hard to convince them to say, especially with the famine.
What do you mean Raaz had been too busy enjoying his vacation first and dealing with Aran\'s trauma later to worry about rumors.
This year people don\'t want to be paid with money, but with food.
An uncultivated field produces none and everyone is eager to stockpile enough to get us through the next winter. Bromann left out the part about him being one of them.
He had stayed out of loyalty, but fear became stronger with every working day lost waiting for Raaz\'s return.
There was even a rumor saying that the Crown would have seized your fields as compensation for the death of all those poor soldiers.
That\'s just- A friendly nudge from Rena reminded Raaz of the kids.
I never planned to move out of the Kingdom and the Crown would never do that.
Tell him, son.
Don\'t worry, Bromann.
The situation in Nestrar is solved and soon there will be no longer need to ration the food.
I took care of that. Lith couldn\'t share any detail of his work but he was allowed to wink.
Bromann was a practical man and that was all he needed to know.
Thank the gods you are here, Lith. Bromann shook his hand with gratitude.
I wonder how would the Kingdom fare without you and that nice gentleman, Vastor.
He took care of Zinya\'s house and compensated everyone who got their property damaged.
The Kingdom has more than two Archmages and each one of us is doing their part. Lith was well-aware that ever since he had left his job as Ranger his contributions had been minimal.
His replacement had destroyed no Lost City during his tour, but the Kellar region was as safe as always.
Puah! Bromann spat on the floor.
A bunch of arrogant idiots who never did Lutia any good, unlike the two of you.
Bromann! Politics will not feed my family during winter! One of the farmhands yelled and the others grumbled in annoyance.
Don\'t worry, son.
I\'m safe here.
You take the kids to see grandpa Zekell. Raaz said while caressing Aran\'s head.
I\'m not leaving you alone, Dad. He replied.
I\'m not alone.
There\'s Bromann and my friends here. Raaz waved at the men in the fields.
Also there are people from the Queen\'s corps hidden all around us and a Phoenix in my shadow.
Actually, there were three.
Salaark didn\'t half-ass the security detail of her guests.
Go and have some fun.
I promise that I\'ll be safe until your return.
Only after they exchanged a pinky promise did Aran agree to leave.
Do you want to walk or Warp Lith asked.
Warp! The kids replied in unison, eager to get to the safety of Lutia.
We\'ll walk. Rena said.
I want to show you there\'s nothing to be afraid of and see what\'s changed since we have left.
Lutia had gone from a small village to a small city and was slowly expanding.
Back when Lith was a kid, it would take half an hour to reach it but now after twenty minutes, they would enter Lutia\'s outskirts.
What about the joyride Leria asked.
What would you do if a Dragon who isn\'t your uncle flew over your house Lith replied.
I would invite them in since they are your relative-
I would hide in the basement and call for your help. Rena answered for her.
Exactly. Lith sighed at the little girl\'s naivety.
Dragons are like people.
Not all of them are good, like the one who I had to send to jail.
In all of his stories, the bad guys like Syrook were sent to a vaguely descript and remote prison from which they would never be able to escape.
The only thing the kids knew for sure was that gardening was an integral part of the rehabilitation program since according to Lith, the bad guys spent their lifelong sentence pushing up daisies.
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