Danilos rolled his eyes.
Danilos shifted uneasily in his seat.
“Wouldn’t hurt,” I said to Fleet. “It might get him to stop antagonizing everyone.”
“That’s why you created me! I’m the antagonist—let me do my job!” Danilos looked ready to jump behind the couch.
Archflame gave me a stare, his golden eyes glittering with—what? Amusement? Irritation? Why did I have to make my dragons so hard to read?
Really dumb idea, Miss Brilliant Author.
“It is below you to torment him,” he said.
“Exactly!” Jokk said. “It’s below her to torment Danilos—so why torment any of us? It’s gettin’ ridiculous. I donna even know what she’s done to Jevran to get him so quiet, but Kearah havin’ to go through her father’s death—and Varian loosin’ both parents—and she’s got me runnin’ scared like a rabbit. She’s even managed to get under Danilos’ skin—”
“Jokk, my friend.” Archflame transferred his calm gaze to the highlander. “You know what I meant. It is below anyone to torment the guests in their home.”
“We’re guests in her head—isnae that the same thing?” Varian muttered.
“But she’s tellin’ a story,” Kearah said. “And she’s makin’ us sympathetic, so I can understand why—”
Danilos pointed at me. “Stop putting words in your characters’ mouths.”
“I kind of do that for a living,” I shot back.
“All right.” Danilos stood up and stuffed his hands deep in the pockets of his blue-and-gold counselor’s robe. “This is enough. I’m sick and tired of listening to all of you babble the same tripe she—” he nodded to me—”is writing. Clearly you people need to understand something.”
“And what is that?” Jokk asked.
I saw Jokk’s hand behind his back, reaching for the dagger tucked sideways in his belt. “Don’t you even—”
“You’re all being manipulated,” Danilos said. “She’s nothing but another sort of being like that stupid god you all claim to follow.”
“Be careful who you blaspheme,” Archflame rumbled.
“Now would be a good time to let me incinerate him,” Fleet said, steam hissing from his mouth.
“I am sick of this—do you hear me clearly?” Danilos shouted. “I will not be put down by grubby inbred farmers and their winged pets! I am my own master and I refuse to follow her directions any longer!”
He lunged at me, his hands snaking toward my throat. Jokk intercepted, and they hit the floor with hands locked around each others’ throats.
Varian scrambled to his feet, pushing Kearah out of the way of the fight. I jumped back into the kitchen. Fleet took a deep breath.
“Fleet, do not breath fire in my apartment!” I yelled.
The young dragon’s breath rolled out in a heat-laden huff, but no flames emerged—yet. Jokk and Danilos crashed into the TV stand, and the stack of DVDs piled on the top of the TV slithered to the floor. Danios booted Jokk in the chest, hurling him into the futon, and scrambled to his feet.
I felt for the block of kitchen knives, but Danilos seemed to have forgotten about me. He drew his sword, swept it back, almost slicing through the light fixture. Varian drew his own sword, stepping in front of his uncle.
Would fictional characters bleed real blood on the carpet? A tiny part of me was egging them on. How cool would it be to watch the epic showdown in my own living room?
I caught Archflame’s eyes again. The dragon shook his head—no. I knew what he meant—it couldn’t happen yet. My writing subconscious had to be using Archflame to give me a nudge toward stopping the fight because it knew this couldn’t happen yet…or…something like that.
That sounded truly certifiable.
It’s too much work trying to figure how my characters talk to me.
I took a deep breath, trying to ignore what I knew the neighbors would be thinking by now, and yelled as loudly as I could.