“OK, so, dragons nest in…”

“In Althym, in the West.”

“And they don’t cross the border?”

“Well, that one from last week was like an isolated incident. Dragons generally feel that this side of The Border has less magic in it, so they tend to just stay where the magic is strongest. So Althym, Ramis, Nor Valley.”

“How’d you learn all these names, anyway?”

“I dunno, really,” Arian shrugged, swiping at the map she had drawn in the dirt with her finger, smudging the edges slightly. “But it makes knowing where things are easier.” She didn’t take her glittering brown eyes off the makeshift-map while she ran a hand through her curly black hair, clicking her tongue lightly.

“Yeah, that’s generally what geography does.”

“You know, sometimes I forget where on a map Slovenia is, or like some other obscure tiny country in the North of Europe. But all this area…nah, never forget that.”

“OK, so what lives in those places you mentioned?”

“Well, Ramis – that’s in the South-West – there’s a lot of elfin activity going on there. Like, pretty sure the High Elf lives there with his Court. They cross over to here sometimes though, usually on adventures. I’ve met a few elves. They’re not the nicest, kinda like their forest a bit too much. Kick you out if they feel you’ve overstayed your welcome.”

“Do they fight the dragons?”

“Nobody fights the dragons, Ken. Those things just sort of live on their own. If you see one, you run.”

“Yeah but has anybody fought one before?”

“Probably, they just never lived to talk about it.”

“OK, what about the Valley?”

“Oh, yeah, Nor Valley is where the nature spirits live. Naiads, Dryads, flower nymphs, fire sprites, all those kind of creatures. They’re really friendly but kind of mischievous. They’ll probably play a joke on you first, before they even consider being friends with you.”

Chatter started up behind Arian’s ear and she turned around swiftly, throwing a pebble into the still air behind her. “They also like to sneak up on humans. The Border doesn’t affect them that much.” She turned back to Kendra, grinning widely, and the other girl smiled softly back.

“You really like this place, huh?”

“Yeah, it’s beautiful here. I mean, I wish I could stay here forever sometimes, but it’s a nice escape anyway.”

“Why can’t we stay here?”

Arian let the silence fall around them, digging her hand into the dirt and rubbing her thumb over the soft soil, sighing heavily before she answered.

“It’s against The Law of the Land. We belong in our dimension, they belong in theirs. The fact that we cross over so easily is already a huge no-no to them. But as long as we don’t stay here forever, they’re good.”

Kendra found herself looking at Arian’s face, trying to catch her eye though she was avoiding her gaze.

“We should go home.”

She got up, brushing her hands on her jeans and extending her hand to Kendra. “You wanna have dinner with us?”

“As long as your aunt and uncle don’t throw a tantrum about me like your parents did.”

“They won’t, I promise.”

Kendra got up too, taking Arian’s hand and interlocking their fingers. “Yeah, sure, let’s go.”

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