Villain, 87

“Some new faces here today,” Cassiopeia said as the meeting began.

Sam finished sitting down, putting his hands on the table. “I’m not going to waste time introducing you to each other,” he said. “If you want to know each other’s names, learn them when I’m not here.”

“We were speaking before you arrived, Sorcerer King,” said Mathilda the dragon, who wasn’t part of Ramona’s colony of dragons. She was from somewhere else in Kyaine, and had been an ally of his family since before Solomon had been born.

“I don’t care,” Sam told her. He wasn’t sure Mathilda was actually useful to him—she’d been the one who’d given Solomon the dragon artefact that had let them control some dragons to attack Three Hills, but it didn’t work anymore and she didn’t have anything else to give him. She’d insisted on having it back because it apparently looked pretty on her table or something, so Sam had given it to her so she’d shut up.

“Nor do I,” Mathilda informed him. “I was recently told of the importance humans place on small talk and was attempting it. But I see you take after your father, so let us begin. What do you want?”

Others, 32

“You’re an exceptionally hard woman to track down,” Helena said to Jocelyn.

“You would be too,” Jocelyn snapped, glaring at Helena. “If the people who were after me were after you.”

“Indeed. You’re very lucky that Samson Arkhewer doesn’t have the resources I do. Tell me,” Helena said. “What in the world possessed you to betray him?”

“Perhaps I’d be inclined to answer you,” Jocelyn said. She took one of Helena’s cookies, bit into it, and then glared at it. Helena had never understood people who didn’t like her cookies; she made them herself. “If I knew who the fuck you were.”

Helena sipped her tea. “I believe I already told you, I’m Helena of House Quate. I’m the king’s primary advisor on matters of domestic import.”