“Okay, you both have to try this,” Lorwyn announces.
I exchange a look with Meristo and shrug.
Talmeri scheduled us to come in early to help receive a particularly large shipment, but at this point it’s clear the delivery won’t arrive today after all. Until the shop opens, we can attend to whatever tasks we wish—including heeding Lorwyn’s commands.
So we follow her to the back, where Yorani is perched on a shelf above Lorwyn’s workstation, tail twitching rapidly and eyes bright while Lorwyn pours cups of tea with more visible excitement than I’ve ever seen from her.
“I’d ask if you’d taken something,” Meristo drawls, “but all things considered, I suppose I’m not actually in any doubt.”
“You’re going to love this,” Lorwyn says.
“I grow more fearful by the second,” he replies.
“Is this a new blend?” I ask.
Lorwyn nods, grinning. “I just finished testing it. Want to try?”
Meristo holds out a hand.
I raise my eyebrows. “Going for it after all? I admit, I’m surprised you’re not more suspicious of Lorwyn’s intentions after all this time with her.”
“More like I’ve had time to hone my judgment,” Meristo says, accepting a proffered cup. “This isn’t how Lorwyn acts when she’s planning to slip me something awful.”
Lorwyn snorts but doesn’t dispute his assessment.
We each take a sip.
I narrow my eyes. It’s tasty, but not unduly so, which means I’m missing something.
I trade another glance with Meristo to see if he’s noticed anything, but he shakes his head.
Lorwyn grins widely. When she’s sure she has our attention, she takes a deep breath and exhales. With the breath, a gust of brightly colored sparkles shoots out of her mouth like a shimmering, crackling blast of flame.
Meristo and I jump away, but not fast enough to avoid getting hit.
But except for a tingling sensation that abruptly vanishes, we remain unmarked.
Meristo and I trade glances again, and then we each tentatively blow out our own rivers of sparkles.
“See?” Lorwyn crows. “No damage, just spectacular effects. This is going to be such a hit.”
“So this is why you wouldn’t tell me what you were working on with the sparkweed oil.” Meristo laughs. “Nice.”
A knock at the back startles all of us.
“You think the delivery is here late after all?” I ask.
Lorwyn shrugs. “Talmeri might’ve called to scream at them. I understand other people find that motivating.”
“Hey look, Yorani’s excited to see who it is,” Meristo says as the tiny dragon uses her claws to unhook the lever to open the back door. “She’s been so bored today.”
“Lorwyn, did Yorani drink any of the tea?” I ask.
Lorwyn blinks. “Yeah, she lapped at a cup. You don’t think—”
Before I finish darting across the room, Yorani has spewed a torrent of sparkles at the poor unsuspecting deliveryman.
The poor man has stopped screaming by the time I arrive, staring wide-eyed down at his body, which is covered in fritzing sparkles, like a flame dancing all over his skin.
We stare at each other in a shared moment of shock.
“When I said I’d finished testing the tea,” Lorwyn whispers behind me, “I admit I didn’t take into account the potential effects of a tiny dragon drinking it.”
“I think, in the future, you’d better,” I hiss back, glaring at Yorani, who flaps her wings smugly at me.
And blows out another rush of sparkles, this time at me and Lorwyn.
I’ve never seen Lorwyn look more appalled as at the sight of her own body sparkling brightly.
“My sincerest apologies for the poor welcome,” I say to the still-stunned deliveryman as Meristo collapses in gales of laughter. “I think perhaps you’d better come inside while we get this sorted out.”
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