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SJORIA: Book One|"The Silence Before The Song"|Scroll Down to Begin...

Chapter Four: Grey Days & Secret Places

hat is that?” Thairyn asked, wrinkling her nose.
“Mobo soup,” Gideon said. “I know it looks awful, but it really is quite delicious, especially when Mistress Goss makes it. If the three of you are hungry, you might like it.”
“We do not eat that,” Thairyn said. Nya had produced two bowls of sticky brown goo from an ornate wooden box and he called it “lunch”, which, apparently, meant that they were going to eat it.
Neyhira nudged Thairyn’s side and gave her a look that meant, Be polite. “May I try it?”
“Of course.” Gideon motioned towards Nya. The silver-haired boy abandoned his dish for a moment to prepare one for Neyhira. Meanwhile, Gideon gave the Dracoen girls a strange sort of look. It was very subtle, and masked by a smile, but Thairyn did not miss it. “I am curious though, what do Dracoens eat?”
“Real food,” Thairyn said. Nya handed Neyhira a bowl of the strange Münshirling food. It smelled as repulsive as it looked.
Gideon raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean by that?”
“We eat gemstones and gemfruits,” Neyhira said, curiously sniffing the soup. “What is this, er, mobo soup made of?”
“Water, spices, and mobos, a-course,” Nya said. He sat down in the grass to resume his meal.
“Do you mean to say that you really eat gems?” Gideon asked, astonished. “I heard that your kind did, but I had always thought it was a sort of interpretation or symbol of some sort!”
“Yes, we really eat gems,” Neyhira said. She looked at the bowl doubtfully, in spite of herself. She did not know what a mobo was. But the nice boys seemed to be enjoying the soup, so she decided she would try just one tiny taste. Unlike the incident with the timkaisu, however, one tiny taste did not lead to another. The soup was mushy, salty, and strange. But it was not the flavour or the texture that put her off having another bite, for she found them rather interesting. Rather, it was that she bit into a chunk of something stringy and salty that, for whatever reason, made her feel like her stomach did a leap and a twist inside of her. She forced herself to politely swallow (though this nearly made her retch). She quietly set the bowl down.
“Well, how can you possibly ever find enough to sustain yourselves on?” Gideon was saying. “Gemstones are so hard to find, that’d add up to quite the expensive diet after a while!”
“No, not,” Valii managed in trade speak, “Many, is tree, is ground. Is many. Every place.”
“We have many gems,” Neyhira said weakly. The iridescence in her scales seemed to have faded away, leaving her face dull and almost grey. She hiccuped and covered her mouth quickly. In alarm, she looked at Thairyn. “Auch no, Thairyn, na douri na en eli—” she twittered in Dracoen speech. She stood up in a hurry and tried to limp off as fast as she could before the contents of her stomach were emptied onto the grass.
Sey?!” Thairyn cried in alarm, “En eli sey? Dlam choures?
Valii squealed, sounding very much like a small animal that had just been stabbed. “Auch! Neyhira! En fien baiie?
Gideon stood up at once. “What happened?”
“Did you poison my sister?!” Thairyn jumped to her feet and hurried to Neyhira’s side. Embarrassed, both spread their wings to hide the mess from anyone’s view.
“Certainly not! She was served from the same pot Nya and I ate out of—you saw. And she did not even eat that much. Perhaps she is allergic to one of the ingredients?”
Auch!” Neyhira moaned. She kept her head ducked under her wings and tried to avoid being seen by the Münshirlings while Thairyn helped her clean up.
Thairyn looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know what allergic means, but my sister had better not die from it!” she said angrily.
Auch! Auch! Matan na en lekourae!” Valii cried out, pushing herself to her feet. She started to run as fast as her chubby legs could carry her back towards the hill that parted them from the Forest, but Thairyn caught her by the arm—looking suddenly apologetic.
“Neyhira en memda, Valii,” she said gently.
Valii did not look very convinced by whatever it was Thairyn had said to calm her. “Vi pach vey en baiie?
Na en no cheldo, ma na en memda—I will be well. I feel better now, in any case,” Neyhira said, straightening up. “Gideon, what is allergic?”
Gideon stammered something they could not catch, but ultimately said, “Sensitive—sensitive. It makes you sick.”
“Oh, sensitive.” Neyhira pinned back her earfins. “Maybe you are correct. Auch, let us go from here—I am excessively sorry for being sick. Go over there and we will follow—do not look, please, do not look.”
She meant her mess, of course, which she continued to stand in front of with her wings outspread. Gideon felt awful for her. “It’s not like you could help it,” he said. “I’m sorry I fed you the stuff. Excessively sorry, really.”
Nya replaced their food and things in his box, and they left that spot in favour of another grassy area on the top of the hill, so that they could see the Gem Forest.

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